Re: Kim R. asks WHAT IS THEOSOPHY
May 21, 1998 03:07 PM
by W. Dallas TenBroeck
May 21st 1998
WHAT IS THEOSOPHY -- IS IT A RELIGION ?
The word "theosophy" is one that Pythagoras (6th Cent BC) used
Theos (Deity) and Sophia (wisdom) or Theosophy. It claims to be
of great antiquity, antedating the Greeks, and a fuller record of
its lore has been preserved in libraries and secret crypts in
central Asia. It is always in the custody of the Wise, The
Sages, also sometimes called the Masters of Wisdom or the Great
souls (the Mahatmas). For them, every country, race and nation
is their concern. It consists of a continuing record-- a
history--of the scientific, psychological and philosophical
investigation of all phenomena and events in Nature, down the
ages, and in every department.
It starts with the basic proposition that: First, NATURE
already contains everything. Two, the whole of nature runs by
LAW and under Laws--our Science depends on this basic fact and on
the concept that the ATOM is INDESTRUCTIBLE. Three, every
single unit-being in Nature (the whole Universe, our Solar
System, World, and every Mind also) is included in its purview.
Four, Man's special function and place is to learn all he can
about Nature, its Laws and the potential of his own evolutionary
condition. It other words: What am I? How did I get here ?
What am I to do ? Where am I going ?
You may say, therefore, that it uses both a metaphysical and a
physical base for its considerations. It seeks to demonstrate
(and invite individual questioning into) the interplay between
these two "extremes," which are really united into a harmonious
and dynamic pattern -- called Life and living. The human mind
(mental faculty when fully developed), is the focal point for
this perception of reason and meaning in living.
Humankind is apparently at the focal point of the two extremes,
usually called "Spirit" and "Matter," and represents the
evolution of INTELLIGENCE, or perception/knowledge. The capacity
to perceive, to reason and to observe change, while remaining
detached (as a Witness, or an Observer) from the events and
phenomena, or the thoughts and emotions, that occur, and are
being seen operating, is apparent. Only that which is immovable
can clearly perceive the extent of "change." And can inquire
into the reason for "change," and its potential 'goal.'
Mankind is therefore viewed as the repository of Intelligence, of
History and of the fruits of many aeons of investigation. The
MIND represents the essential junction, the interplay, if you
please, between "spirit-wisdom" and "matter-forms." It is the
link of intelligence and is also to be seen as dual as
thought-feeling, as wisdom-impulse.
Evolution, generally, is of three conjoined levels in the
Theosophical view: There is, First, the immovable "Observer"
within -- said to be "one with the UNIVERSAL SPIRIT." There is,
Second, the questing, investigating, planning, logical,
remembering (and forgetting) Mind. And, Third, there is the
developing sensitive instinctual physical form which man shares
with animal nature. But that is not all, as it has links to the
molecules and atoms of the plants and the minerals. In fact
those links can be seen to extend through thought and emotion (as
electro-magnetic forces) to the farthest limits of conceivable
We, humans, are virtually at the center of "our universe." And,
we have to recognize, that simultaneously, we "share it" with all
the rest. So the First proposition of Theosophy: Universal
Brotherhood becomes more logical.
Theosophy is also philosophy, as in the search for meaning, it
looks into the causes of every kind of phenomena. As a
"religion" it is brotherhood--the brotherhood of the wise, and of
all those who are seekers for the truth of things.
Every ancient Nation has as part of its mythology the "creation"
of mankind by a Wise Being -- some say "A God," or a group of
"Gods." The attributes of the Godhead are not always the same,
from religion to religion, but generally, they include:
sagacity, (omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence) and the
capacity to witness all experience, planning, work, and the
establishing of the whole gamut of necessary beings that, working
together in harmony, provides us with the universe and the world
that surrounds us all now. Many modern day expressions of
religion make exclusions or reserve adherence to special
situations of birth, of belief, etc...
Theosophy makes none of those. It is a study of the Universe and
sees no barriers or special requirements anywhere. It invites
close examination and the proving of those propositions and
doctrines that it advances. It claims to be based on a complete
history of observation and experience ( see THE SECRET DOCTRINE,
(H.P.Blavatsky), Vol. 1, pp 272-3.).
This is seen to be philosophically universal. Ancient races,
such as India, China, Egypt, Greece, Scandinavia, the Chaldees,
the Jews, the Incas and the Mayas, have a record of great and
Wise men who came to help and to teach infant humanity. In India
these are called the Mahatmas--the Great Souls. It is said of
this group that they form a great Lodge of Adepts and its members
never "die" --in other words their presence in the World is
continuous, and they exist today as they did then, to assist
mankind in its progress. But they do not make themselves known
publicly as such an exhibition would limit the work that they do.
The curious would make their lives intolerable. What is of
importance is that it implies the perfectibility of every man,
because of the innate link that we all have to the ONE SPIRIT.
We can make that spirit shine forth in our lives and then we have
the presence of a Jesus, a Buddha, a Krishna, or a Lao Tse.
It also suggests that any one who chooses, can follow the "path
to wisdom" of which they speak and trace the outline. Anyone can
achieve what they have mastered. Wisdom is not to be patented,
nor can one exclude others from it. Wisdom is the property of
all. Hence the idea of a "Personal God" is not reasonable or
tenable, as the whole of nature is under One Law, and this cannot
be broken or bent by prayers or supplication if one has erred in
its application. The rules of "right-livelihood" are known
innately by all of us -- we call it the Conscience -- and this is
in effect regardless of race, religion, or the time of one's
Life, as viewed by Theosophy is viewed as a great School, and
every life-time spent is one of the "days" of that extended
"class-room" work. The immortal spirit-mind of every woman or
man is the "pupil," the Prophets, Sages and the great Teachers of
every nation, past or present, are the professors and instructors
to us all.
Theosophy considers as basic facts the following: The Vast
Universe is a UNIT, a whole, and is ruled by Laws of interaction.
The "great" and the "small" (from the GALAXY to the ATOM), all
is united under a single and ever operative set of laws that
guarantee the existence and survival of every least aspect of
life and being. Nothing ever "dies" or is discarded. The least
"atom" is a living unit, and has in its eternal, ultimate being,
the potentiality of becoming a human. It is intelligent, and our
thoughts and feelings leave an impress that either assists or
delays its progress on the many runged ladder of evolution.
Within the visible, tangible physical that we all know, lies an
energic pattern body, a kind of electro-magnetic lattice work,
(of electro-magnetic matter--now suspected to be the
"morpho-genetic field), on which the physical molecules arrange
themselves, and within which the non-physical atoms play their
many parts. The Atom, as the Universe, and, the Man as
mind/consciousness are held to be immortal. All Nature provides
a sensitive and reacting "class-room," it is INTELLIGENT, and
ever progressing. WE are inescapably bound to all other beings
in the World.
Theosophy, unlike "religions" of this day, or of the past, is
scientific to the extent that it encourages in humans:
independence, thinking, and the exercise of free-will. It is
philosophical because it relates evidence from many sources to
give a holographic picture of actuality. It is not "linear," but
rather it is all-inclusive of both time and space, and considers
the existence of many more dimensions to space/time than we have
It posits BROTHERHOOD as the base for the interaction of all
beings. LAW (named in Sanskrit KARMA) is universal and
unalterable and invariable, not to be cajoled by prayer or
petition. It can however be modified by setting into action by
deliberate effort, counteracting causes to offset effects that
are inevitable. The intelligent man, attentive, and awake to
opportunity, does this consciously as he lives.
DEITY (as a Spiritual base) is not a "Personal God" outside of
manifestation, but is interior to and the base of all things. To
that extent, if "God" is indeed omnipresent -- then Theosophy
represents true "pantheism." It considers to be a demonstrable
fact that there is an immortal and permanent 'speck of life' an
intelligence present in every life-atom as in every human. All
existing things are at their core IMMORTALS.
In this regard the process of REINCARNATION for all human
Intelligence is posited -- as the natural outcome of progressive
increments of the experience of every life-time. "Death" is
looked on as a prolonged sleep, during which the experiences of
life are reviewed and built into the advancing character and
capacity of the human Soul (mind) -- hence every child at birth
shows distinct characteristics that are its own, and are the
result (under Law-Karma) of its progress up to this time. As
said above, each life modifies one's "karmic-account," moving the
balance forward or back.
EVOLUTION is not only of the physical form, but also of the
mind. Wisdom is the result of thought, and the observation of
the results of actions that are based either on thought or on
emotion. Physical evolution as perceived progressively, is the
evolution and individualization of CONSCIOUSNESS working through
Forms, and this is a universal process. The progression broadly,
is from the intelligence of the minerals, through the plants, to
the animals. In animals it flowers as "Instinct." And, in
mind, it is Mind.
At a certain point of each great planetary Life-cycle ( it is
also posited that Worlds, like humans, reincarnate periodically
and furnish for the evolution of all creatures concerned with
them a continuing basis for living and experiencing). The
individualization of intelligence in animals is touched, when it
reaches a certain point of concentration by a "Mind" Being, whose
duty it is to enlighten it. This experience is in natural
progression with development that offers to every such advanced
intelligence the opportunity of THINKING. It is an
individualization, a positive link in the developing intelligence
of the physical line of evolution to the "spiritual" or
"Wisdom/Mind" aspect of nature, and, theosophy teaches that on
occasion some of the Illuminated and wise Minds may take up
residence in a vehicle of human flesh and matter when the cycle
is right for humanity to receive further enlightenment.
Hence, in mankind we find a duality of consciousness. In our
focus of awareness are two opposite forces: one is Instinct, and
the other is Mind. These two merged, offer all the vast range of
human consciousness -- from "wants and desires" to "needs and
necessities." This plane of existence (the human family) is the
arena of self-consciousness and of freedom of choice.
Obviously this does not cover the whole field of explanation as
to what Theosophy is or does. It a universal field of thinking
and considers all aspects of living, as well as the total history
of the Universe in evolution. It hods that Mankind is a most
essential part of the total, since the Family of Man represents,
as a whole, the forum for a development of awareness, of
consciousness, that will eventually embrace every aspect of the
whole Universe. And this is wisdom embodied in a living mind.
It THEREFORE holds that there are in the Family of Man, those who
have graduated in the past from similar but far older schools of
experience. They are the "Professors" in this School of
Living -- which is our world taken as a whole.
As in a vast university they preserve a record of past research.
Occasionally they, like visiting professors, step into the
limelight of civilization. And history records the work and
living of a superior human whose knowledge, moral and ethical
teachings demonstrate the unity of all life and of all knowledge
in a practical way.
Of these a list could include such Great Figures of Humanity as
Krishna and Gautama Buddha of India, Pythagoras and Plato of
Greece, the Ancient Priest-Kings and Hierophants of Egypt, Lao
Tse and Confucius of China; Solomon, Moses, and Jesus to the
Jews; and more recently Iamblichus, Plotinus, Plutarch, the
ancient fraternity of Masons (the Builders), the Gnostics, the
"Brothers of Light," the "Fire-Philosophers," and the Sufis; the
Alchemists, the Florentine Academy of Pico della Mirandola, Jacob
Boehme, Paracelsus, St. Germain, the Rosicrucians, and many other
members of the "secret societies" of the Medieval times of our
history, and, latest of all, Mme. H.P.Blavatsky -- to whom we owe
a gathering up of all these scattered threads of history and
belief. Her books ISIS UNVEILED, and THE SECRET DOCTRINE offer
such a survey of history and encompass the records of the
"creation"of our world, and the "evolution" of mankind.
If the list of great Teachers is long, it is actually quite short
in reality and in comparison to actuality. The actuality is that
none of these great Humans has ever "died," or left humanity --
but rather that they continue, unknown and unperceived, to work
with us, and to keep the great ideas of the immortality and the
perfectibility of Man-Minds alive. Their work is to keep the
"Beacon-light" of Truth lit and flashing, showing those who seek
that Wisdom is ever present, and can be found. That to attain to
complete WISDOM, one must become absolutely harmless to all other
beings -- hence one has to adopt certain disciplines of
self-control, of practical ethics in daily life. Mme. Blavatsky
has offered us a key to this concept in her little gem of a book
titled THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE.
Brotherhood is the first great step to adopt and to learn the
implications of. Then one begins to realize that Law operates
everywhere. Then, our progress is seen to be a voluntary
practice of those aspects of that Law which we UNDERSTAND and can
Further progress comes from careful probing of all information
that comes to our attention with the power resident in our minds.
We accept no "authorities." We have to KNOW FOR OURSELVES. This
is the line of "common-sense." It is a sense that is common, and
is unrestricted. It is man's highest faculty -- the power to
bring the vision Splendid of Truth into daily use in himself. In
short this is the pat to wisdom and discrimination.
Mme. Blavatsky once wrote to a friend:
"We respect every man's freedom of conscience and their spiritual
yearnings far too much to touch religious principles with our
propaganda. Every human being, who respects himself, and thinks,
has a Holy of Holies of his own, for which we Theosophists ask
respect. Our business concerns philosophy, morals, and science
We ask for truth in everything; our object is the realization of
the spiritual perfectibility possible to man: the broadening of
his knowledge, the exercising of the powers of his soul, of all
the psychical sides of his being. Our theosophical brotherhood
must strive after the ideal of general brotherhood throughout all
humanity; after the establishment of universal peace and the
strengthening of charity and disinterestedness; after the
destruction of materialism, of that coarse unbelief and egotism
which saps the vitality of our country."
H.P.Blavatsky -- Letters -- THE PATH, Vol. 9, p. 302 ]
And, in another place she wrote:
"Theosophy, if seriously studied, calls forth by stimulating
one's reasoning power; and, awakening the "inner" [the
Spiritual] in the animal man, every hitherto dormant power for
good in us, and also the perception of the true and the real, as
opposed to the false and the unreal.
Tearing off with no uncertain hand the thick veil of dead-letter
with which every old religious scriptures were cloaked,
scientific Theosophy, learned in the cunning symbolism of the
ages, reveals to the scoffer at old wisdom, the origins of the
world's faiths and sciences.
It opens new vistas beyond the horizon of crystallized,
motionless and despotic faiths; and turning blind belief into a
reasoned knowledge founded on mathematical laws--the only "exact"
science--it demonstrates to him under profounder and more
philosophical aspects the existence of that which, repelled by
the grossness of its dead-letter form, he had long since
abandoned as a nursery tale.
It gives a clearer and well defined object, an ideal to live for,
to every sincere man or woman, belonging to whatever station in
society and of whatever culture and degree of intellect.
Practical Theosophy is not "one" Science, but embraces every
science in life, moral and physical. It is the universal
"coach," a tutor of world-wide knowledge and experience, who
guides his pupils towards a successful examination for every
scientific or moral service in earthly life, and fits them for
the lives to come, if only those pupils will only study the
universe and its mysteries "within themselves." instead of
studying them through the spectacles of orthodox science and
I hope this will be found helpful, and if more information is
needed, correlative reading, etc., please ask again.
Best wishes, Dallas.
>Date: Wed, 20 May 1998 14:53:54 -0500
>From: Kim Raymoure <email@example.com>
>Hi all! I've just joined this list and hope to learn a lot.
>I am very unfamiliar with Theosophy and have it presently
included in a
>list I'm compiling of world religion's. Is this appropriate?
>that list are agnosticism, atheism, and buddhism to name a few
that do not
>necessarily worship a specific deity. Does Theosophy have a set
>structure or is it merely the philosophy involved with theology.
>Help! Help! I'm in the dark!
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