Jul 07, 1996 06:17 PM
You're gonna get a lot of answers to this one, but this the faq I prepared
Chuck the Heretic
alt.theosophy Frequently Asked Questions
alt.theosophy is a totally unmoderated newsgroup dedicated to the free and unfettered discussion of matters spiritual. To that end, everyone is invited to participate, now matter what tradition or belief system they come from or seek to represent. No one is obligated to agree on anything to post here, which is a good thing because Theosophists rarely agree with each other.
1. What is Theosophy?
The word Theosophy is from the Greek, literally divine wisdom. But as most of us are not divine we really have no idea what it is and thus we tend to disagree a lot.
2. What is the Theosophical Society?
Actually, there are a number of Theosophical Societies. The largest is headquartered at Adyar, Madras, India and has about 35,000 members worldwide. It's US headquarters is the Olcott estate in Wheaton, Illinois and is usually referred to simply as Olcott. Whenever you see a reference to Olcott that is clearly not to an individual (Col. Henry Steele Olcott, see below) it is probably to the American hq or its much put-upon and underpaid staff.
The American Theosophical Society is much smaller and has its hq in Pasadena California.
The United Lodge of Theosophists is the smallest and no one knows where its headquarters is located because everything about the United Lodge is secret. (Just kidding. If someone from ULT has the address, please post it because someone is probably interested.)
Theosophy International, mostly internet people with no fixed abode.
3. What are the notorious Three Objects?
In a vain attempt to make some sense of the organization, about a hundred years ago three basic objects for the society were agreed upon. They are as follows:
1.To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.
2. To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy and science.
3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man.
Now you must understand that theosophists fight about the wording of these objects all the time, but that is the gist of them and they are the only things that one is obligated to assent to in order to join the Adyar Theosophical Society, though the others may have different rules.
4. Does the TS have a history?
Funny you should ask that. The Theosophical Society was founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Yelena Petrovna Countess Blavatskaya) along with Col. Henry Steele Olcott and William Q. Judge in 1875 after meeting on a farm in upstate New York to investigate some mediums. After languishing in New York for a few years, HPB and the Colonel took ship to India where they were mistaken for Russian spies, annoyed the hell out of the Christian Missionaries (Col. Olcott was instrumental in getting them booted out of Ceylon) and buying the Adyar estate which is now the TS international HQ. HPB died in 1891, after writing a massive amount of material, most of it unreadable, and the Colonel died in 1906, leaving the TS in the hands of Mrs. Annie Besant, who, with her buddies Bishop Leadbeatter and George Arundale, totally redid theosophy and tried to promote Krishnamurti as the new messiah. Krishnamurti came to his senses in 1929 and quit the messiah business to become a teacher of a different variety. The TS slogged on, with various disputes and splits along the way and continues today.
4. Who are the type of people who become Theosophists?
It helps to be three things, interested in things spiritual, slightly crazy and incredibly stubborn. People often join the Theosophical Society because everyone else would throw them out.
Every spiritual system imaginable is represented in our ranks, ranging from the somewhat orthodox believers in common religions like Christianity and Buddhism, to Witches, Magicians, Satanists (we don't like to admit that, but we have them) Tree Worshippers, Rock Worshippers and followers of Jean Huston. If it exists, we have at least one.
5. Who was Madame Blavatsky?
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a Russian of the lower nobility who after getting married at 17 to much, much much older General Blavatsky ran off and joined the circus, among other things. Actually, her life is book material but basically she travelled all over and after a stint as a very successful concert pianist in France found her way to America where she took up spiritualism. After the founding of the TS she abandoned mediumship for writing, which she did a lot of. Her principal works are Isis Unveiled (not Unveiled Isis, that's a cheap porno movie), The Secret Doctrine and The Key to Theosophy. The date of her death May 8, 1891, is commemorated by Theosophists as White Lotus Day and usually a party of some sort is held in its honor every year. Why we do it that way is a mystery.
6. Who was Col. Henry Steele Olcott?
Col. Olcott was a businessman, lawyer, agriculturalist and journalist who also found time to become involved in politics. He was on the commission that investigated the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and his skill with bureaucracy was most apparent in his manipulation of the British Home Office when he kicked the missionaries out of Ceylon. He is regarded as a Buddhist saint for his evangelical views of that religion and his many works in its support. He was responsible for procuring the diplomatic passports that he and HPB traveled to India under thus making it impossible for the British government to kick them out without causing an embarrassing incident. In 1891 countries went to war over that sort of thing.
7. Who was William Q. Judge?
The forgotten man of the trio, Judge remained behind when HPB and Olcott went traipsing off to India. He ran the American Section (founded 1886) until the split between the bulk of that section in 1895 after a dispute between himself and Mrs. Besant. The break-away groups founded the American Theosophical Society and made their HQ in Point Loma, California which was run by Katherine Tingley following the death of Judge in 1896. Her successor was Gottfried (Guy) de Purucker.
8. What are the Masters?
It depends on who you ask. The interpretation ranges from spiritual beings on the astral plane to people who live normal lives and do abnormal things. The most common interpretation is a sort of spiritual bureaucracy where they have different jobs in running the world. That view is largely avoided now because no one really wants to blame them for the mess the world is in.
9. Who is Radha and why does everyone hate her?
Radha is Radha Burnier and not everyone hates her, but sometimes it seems that way. She is the President of the Theosophical Society, Adyar and as such gets into a lot of trouble with some people.
10. Who is John Algeo?
John Algeo is the President of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, Adyar and does things that get people mad at him. He is better known as the former head of the English department at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA. His name appears on a bunch of web pages and he did the study of the word "cowabunga" for the Oxford English Dictionary.
11. Who is this Alex that everyone is afraid of?
Well, I don't know about everyone, I'm not afraid of him. Alex is Alexis Dolgorukii, an artist out of San Francisco and one of the legitimate heirs to the throne of the Czar, as he often reminds us when he is in a bad mood.
12. Who is Uncle Chuckie and does he have an office in the TS.
Not if the people who hold office have anything to say about it and he certainly doesn't want the job. Uncle Chuckie (as his friends and followers call him) is the Earthbound Ascended Master Charles Cosimano (and if you believe the ascended master part I have nice bridge for you) and is most notorious for his work in the area of Psionics, a field directly related to the Third Object and the cause of much consternation among the orthodox. It was a friend of his that started this newsgroup and thus it is on his Karma, but fortunately he has a machine that dumps the karma on other people and gets none of it himself.
13. Who are the other people posting on this newsgroup?
I don't know. Ask them.
14. Is there anything else I need to know about the people in the TS?
Probably, but my fingers are getting tired. Just ask, someone will have an opinion about it.
15. Is it true that Theosophists sacrifice and eat babies?
Not as an organizational practice, as lots of Theosophists are vegetarians, but Chuck says they can be very tasty if served with the right sauce.
16. Then it is not true that you have to be a vegetarian to be a Theosophist?
Totally untrue. Neither HPB, nor Col. Olcott were vegetarians.
17. Are there any rules to follow in being a theosophist?
No. Just assent to the Three Objects and you can interpret them any way you want to.
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