Theosophy Redefined (longish)
Apr 01, 1997 05:10 PM
THEOSOPHY REDEFINED (I)
Theosophical textbooks and introductory articles almost alsways tell us
that the word "theosophy' derives from the Greek words for 'God' (theos)
and 'Wisdom' (sophia) respectively. Having done this, it is not
uncommon that any suggestion of the involvement of a/any actual form of
deity is dispensed with, and terms such as 'ancient wisdom" or
'perrenial philosophy' are used.
This is hardly surprising in literature deriving from an organisation
which by its own rules admits followers of any religion or none. To
mention a specific kind of god would be certain to offend some.
At one period, particularly the Annie Besant/Charles Leadbeater era of
the nineteen-thirties, God was mentioned on a regular basis by such
stalwarts asishop] Leadbeater andishop] Arundale and even the
Indian theosophist C. Jinarajadasa. I know - I have their spoken
recordings which contain this usage.
This god is a male god, described as 'He' and has a 'plan' for humanity
described by Jinarajadasa in ~First Principles of Theosophy~ as "God's
Plan, Which is Evolution."hapter XVI].
These theosophists, in their writings, suggest that there is a kind of
'dogmatic' theology laid down by various 'masters' and held in trust by
them in a kind of 'Great White Lodge' (Not Black or Pink) in some sort
of association with an 'Inner Government of the World' which is clearly
hierarchical, non-democtracic, and therefore liable, I would suggest, to
be autocratic, oligarchical, and accountable to - ?
Claim is laid by similar purveyors of the theosophical message to the
life and work of one of the Theosophical Society's founders, Madame H.P
Blavatsky, whose introduction the the 'Masters' first appeared in
letters written by them (but as Mahatmas, which is not quite the same
thing as Masters) in a large number of letters written by them and often
transported by miraculous means, using involving Mme. Blavatsky, to ab
occult researcher called A.P.Sinnett in the latter quarter of the
Much has been made of the Mathatmic Masters and their authority, but one
major problem from the letters arises in the originally published letter
number ten which begins:
"Neither our philosophy nor ourselves believe in a God, least of all in
one whose pronoun necessitates a capital H."
Oh Dear. If Master Koot Hoomi and his fellow Mahatmas or Masters take
this view, and they are also held up as the examplars who would-be
theosophists should follow, so much so that some literature, when
mentioning them, elevates 'them' to 'Them' and 'their' to 'Their,' thus
lending a suggestion of divinity to the Mahatmas/Masters themselves.
At the very least, one is inclined to the view that there must be some
mistake, not least because of the fact that following the excitement at
the time which surrounded these gentlemen and the famous madame, a
number of occultists, including the three most often named, Blavatsky,
Oclott, and Judge, decided to form the ~Theosophical~ Society in 1875,
thus bringing (a) God firmly into the occult arena.
>From thence, confusion has heaped itself upon confusion, and splinter
groups and societies developed very early in the life of what is
sometimes called the 'Theosophical Movement' - including one led by
Judge, and original co-founder, and later by others such as Steiner,
Purucker, Alice Bailey, and a number of less well-known luminaries in
their own fields.
So is there a consistent body of teaching which we may confidently
describe as "theosophy" in a general sense? Not from the Mahatmic
source it would seem, as the term is ruled out by them by definition.
And yet, thousands of occult students have put their feet, less than
firmly perhaps, upon the path to the knowledge of higher things,
whatever such higher things may be. I am one of them, and *I* began,
not by reading the words of the Mahatmas, nor of Blavatsky, but with the
one-time International President of the Theosophical Society,
Jinarajadasa, mentioned above.
Now the difficulty is, as I look back over some forty years of study,
practice, and research, that although the entire body of literature
emanating from theosophical sources is riddled with inconsistencies and
contradictions, there is a great deal of truth to be discovered within
it, though it is necessary to sort the wheat from the chaff, as the
saying goes - and deciding for oneself which is which is not always
So, before I continue further with this article (if indeed I continue at
all) I think it is necessary, in attempting to reach the spirit of the
original founders' intent, to redefine the basic definition. In other
words, if we are to talk and discuss something we wish to call
'theosophy,' we must begin by deciding what we understand by 'theos'
[God] and 'sophia' [Wisdom].
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application