Theosophy in Cyberspace
Jun 11, 1996 05:24 AM
Here is the material we discussed recently about the following being found
in one of the homepages in the web.
THEOSOPHY: A Portrait
by Dr. John Algeo
President of the Theosophical Society in America
The modern Theosophical movement dates from the founding of the
Theosophical Society in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna
Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others.
The movement, however, views itself as a contemporary expression
of a tradition going back to the Neo-Platonists of Classical
antiquity (hence the name) and earlier. Primary concepts are:
* (1) the fundamental unity of all existence, so that all
dichotomies -- matter and spirit, the human and the divine, I
and thou -- are seen as transitory and relative distinctions
of an underlying absolute Oneness;
* (2) the regularity of universal law, cyclically producing
universes out of the absolute ground of being; and
* (3) the progress of consciousness developing through the
cycles of life to an ever-increasing realization of Unity.
Theosophy is nondogmatic, but many Theosophists believe in:
reincarnation; karma (or moral justice); the existence of worlds
of experience beyond the physical; the presence of life and
consciousness in all matter; the evolution of spirit and
intelligence as well as matter; the possibility of conscious
participation in evolution; the power of thought to affect one's
self and surroundings; free will and self-responsibility; the
duty of altruism, a concern for the welfare of others.
These beliefs often lead to such practices as meditation,
vegetarianism and care for animal welfare, active support of
women's and minority rights, and a concern for ecology.
Knowledge of such ideas and practices derives from the traditions
of cultures spread over the world from antiquity to the present in
a "perennial philosophy" or "ancient wisdom," held to be
fundamentally identical in all cultures. But it also derives from
the experiences of individuals through the practice of meditation
and the development of insight. No Theosophist is asked to accept
any opinion or adopt any practice that does not appeal to the
inner sense of reason and morality.
Theosophy has no developed rituals. Meetings typically consist of
talks and discussion or the study of a book, although they may be
opened and closed by brief meditations or the recitation of short
texts. There are no privileged symbols in Theosophy, but various
symbols from the religious traditions of the world are used, such
as the interlaced triangles and the ankh.
Today there are three main Theosophical organizations. Membership
statistics are not available for all of them, but the American
section of the society with international headquarters in Madras,
India, has a membership of about 5,000. There are associated
groups in about 50 countries.
Theosophy in the World Today
The first object of the Theosophical Society is (in one wording),
"To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity
without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color";
and the second is, "To encourage the study of comparative
religion, philosophy and science." As those objects indicate,
Theosophy is dedicated to increasing cooperation among human
beings and understanding among their cultures and religions.
Theosophy holds that all religions are expressions of humanity's
effort to relate to one another, to the universe around us, and
to the ultimate ground of being. Particular religions differ from
one another because they are expressions of that effort adapted
to particular times, places, cultures, and needs. Theosophy is
not itself a religion, although it is religious, in being
concerned with the effort to relate. Individual Theosophists
profess various of the world's religions -- Christian, Jewish,
Moslem, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist; others have no religious
The Theosophical Society has, from the time of its founding,
promoted dialogue and cooperation among the religious traditions
of humanity, since we regard them all as varying expressions of a
basic human need and impulse. The Society itself is an expression
of the faith that human beings, however diverse their
backgrounds, can communicate and cooperate.
Primary Challenges and Issues Facing Humanity
Humanity is faced by a range of seemingly insuperable problems:
uncontrolled population growth, diminishing resources,
exploitation of one group by another, ancient animosities,
passion for revenge, racial antagonism, religious prejudice,
territorial ambition, destructive use of the environment,
oppression of women, disregard of the rights of others, greed for
wealth and power, and so on. In the Theosophical view, all these
are secondary or derivative problems -- the symptoms of a
disease. The primary, original problem, the cause of the disease,
is the illusion of separateness, the notion that we are
unconnected, independent beings whose particular welfare can be
achieved at the expense of the general good.
The primary challenge facing humanity is therefore to recognize
the unity of our species and in turn our ultimate unity with all
life in the universe. Despite the superficial cultural and
genetic differences that divide humanity, we are a remarkably
homogeneous species -- physically, psychologically,
intellectually, and spiritually. Biologically, we are a single
human gene pool, with only minor local variations.
Psychologically and intellectually, we respond to stimuli in
fundamentally the same way. Linguistically, behind the surface
variations of the world's tongues, our underlying language
ability is remarkably uniform. Spiritually, we have a common
origin and a common destiny.
Neither is the human species isolated from the rest of life in
the universe. We are part and parcel of the totality of existence
stretching from this planet Earth to the farthest reaches of the
cosmos in every conceivable dimension. When we realize our
integral connection with all other human beings, with all other
life forms, with the most distant reaches of space, we will
realize that we cannot either harm or help another without
harming or helping ourselves. We are all one, not as metaphor,
but as fact.
Individual Theosophists engage in social, political, and
charitable action as they are moved by their consciences and
sense of duty to become so engaged. They are urged by the
Theosophical tradition to realize the concept of Unity in
practical responses to the challenges we face. Collectively and
as Theosophists, however, we do not regard it as our special
calling to be social, political, or charitable activists.
Theosophy addresses the cause rather than the symptoms of the
human disease. Theosophy seeks to make humanity aware --
intellectually, affectively, and experientially -- of our unity
with one another and with the whole universe. From such awareness
will flow naturally and inevitably a respect for differences, a
wise use of the environment, the fair treatment of others, a
sympathy with the afflictions of our neighbors, and the will to
respond to those afflictions helpfully and lovingly.
SELECTED TEXTS FROM THEOSOPHICAL WRITINGS
"Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard
thee as one of her creators and make obeisance." [sl. 26]
"To live to benefit mankind is the first step." [sl. 144]
-- H.P. BLAVATSKY, *The Voice of the Silence,* 1889
"There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every
kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the very heart of the
Universe: I can tell you how to find those who will show you the
secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the
neophyte for evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage
cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot
pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot
surmount. For those who win onwards, there is reward past all
telling -- the power to bless and save humanity; for those who
fail, there are other lives in which success may come."
-- H.P. BLAVATSKY, 1891, CW 13:219
"O hidden Life,
vibrant in every atom,
O hidden Light,
shining in every creature,
O hidden Love,
embracing all in oneness,
May all who feel themselves
as one with thee
Know they are therefore one
with every other."
-- ANNIE BESANT
"It is well known that the first rule of the society is to carry
out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood.
The practical working of this rule was explained by those who
laid it down, to the following effect:
`He who does not practice altruism; he who is not prepared
to share his last morsel with a weaker or poorer than himself; he
who neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation or
creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a
deaf ear to the cry of human misery; he who hears an innocent
person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does
not undertake his defense as he would undertake his own -- is no
--H.P. BLAVATSKY, in "Let Every Man Prove His Own Work,"
1887, CW 8:170-71
"There is but one way of ever ameliorating human life
and it is by the love of one's fellow man for his own sake and
not for personal gratification. The greatest Theosophist -- he
who loves divine truth under all its forms -- is the one who
works for and with the poor."
--H.P. BLAVATSKY, "Misconceptions," 1887, CW 8:77
"The Society was founded to teach no new and easy paths to the
acquisition of "powers"; ...its only mission is to re-kindle the
torch of truth, so long extinguished for all but the very few,
and to keep that truth alive by the formation of a fraternal
union of mankind, the only soil in which the good seed can grow."
--H.<N>P. BLAVATSKY, "Spiritual Progress," 1885, CW 6:333
"The path of right progress should include the amelioration of
the individual, the nation, the race, and humanity; and ever
keeping in view the last and grandest object, the perfecting of
man, should reject all apparent bettering of the individual at
the expense of his neighbor."
--H.P. BLAVATSKY, *The Struggle for Existence,* 1889, CW
"If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing
philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if
its doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope
and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new
generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness
for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy is
Altruism, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly
love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do
but realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and
never in wealth, possessions or any selfish gratification, then
the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born
upon earth. Then, the Golden Age will be there, indeed."
"Our Cycle and the Next," 1889, CW 11:202
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Adyar, Madras, India 600020
Theosophical Society in America (and Quest Books)
PO Box 270
Wheaton, IL 60189
The Theosophical Society (and Theosophical University Press)
PO Box C, Pasadena, CA 91109
United Lodge of Theosophists
245 W. 33rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007
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Peace to all living beings.
M K Ramadoss
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Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application