Theosophy Simply Stated
Theosophy, as the Wisdom–Religion, has existed from immemorial time.
It offers us a theory of nature and of life which is founded upon knowledge
acquired by the Sages of the past; and its higher students claim that this
knowledge is not imagined or inferred, but that it is a knowledge of facts
seen and known by those who are willing to comply with the conditions requisite
for seeing and knowing. As the oldest tradition of human wisdom, Theosophy
has been expressed in different ages by such as Krishna and Buddha in the
East, by Pythagoras, Plato and Jesus in the West. Following these teachers,
lesser voices have supported the central tenet of the philosophy — immortality
through reincarnation or rebirth. Bruno van Helmont, Goethe and Schopenhauer,
Shelley, Kipling and Masefield, Emerson and Whitman, to name but a few,
have all upheld the doctrine given its full philosophical import in the
Theosophy presented by H. P. Blavatsky.
Theosophy is not a “Faith,” for “Faiths” may be changed;
but, being knowledge which each can make his own, it is not dependent upon
dogma or revelation. Theosophists do not demand acceptance of Theosophy;
they point out its principles and their applications. Theosophy makes certain
statements, but not as statements to be believed. The object of Theosophy
is to teach man what he is, through showing him the necessity of knowing
for himself and becoming his own authority.
Although Theosophy contains by derivation the name God and thus
may seem at first sight to embrace religion alone, it does not neglect science.
It is the Science of sciences, for no science is complete which leaves out
any department of nature, whether visible or invisible. Conversely, that
religion which, depending solely on an assumed revelation, turns away from
things and the laws which govern them, is nothing but a delusion, a foe
to progress, and an obstacle in the way of man's advancement toward happiness.
Embracing both the scientific and the religious, Theosophy is a scientific
religion and a religious science.
No new ethics are presented by Theosophy, as it is held that right ethics
are forever the same. But in the doctrines of Theosophy are to be found
the philosophical and reasonable basis for ethics and the natural enforcement
of them in practice. The ideas we entertain of Deity and of the Self, of
Nature's Laws, and of Evolution, govern the actions we perform. We are now
acting, either consciously or unconsciously, according to the philosophical
ideas we hold. Are they the best and highest possible!
Theosophy is to be explained by reference to the three great principles
which underlie all life, as well as every religion and every philosophy
that ever has been, or ever can be. They may be briefly named: (1) The Self,
as reality in man; (2) Law, as the processes by which man evolves
both in form and soul; (3) Evolution, as the design of life in terms of
meaning and purpose.
First Fundamental Idea
As to Self, and the Source of Life, the great Theosophists, both ancient
and modern, have recorded that there is One Infinite Principle, which is
the Cause of all that was or ever shall be. Thus this causal Self, the only
true "Deity," can be absent from no point of space, and we are
inseparable from it. Each one is a ray from and one with that Absolute Principle.
This is the one realization which immediately sets our minds in order: we
are, in essence, THAT which is unchangeable and unchanging. Behind
all perceiving and knowing and experiencing is the One undivided Self. The
power in us to perceive, to know, to experience - apart from anything that
is seen, known or experienced - is the One Self, the one Consciousness,
shared by all alike, the Power of every being. Herein lies the true basis
of Brotherhood - the unifying bond for all above man and for all below man.
Second Fundamental Idea
The second great principle - law, is referred to in Theosophy as Karma.
Karma is the law of recurring cycles in Nature and the constant tendency
to restore disturbed equilibrium. Applied to man's moral life it is
the law of ethical causation, of justice, reward and punishment, the
cause for birth and rebirth. Viewed from another standpoint it is
simply effect flowing from cause, action and reaction, exact result
for every thought and act. It is act and the result of act; for the
word's literal meaning is action. Theosophy views the Universe as
an intelligent whole, hence every motion in the universe is an action
leading to results, which themselves become causes for further results.
We are all reaping what we have sown, individually and collectively;
we never act alone. We always act on and in connection with others,
affecting them for good or evil, and we get the necessary reaction
from the causes set in motion by ourselves. This presents to us the
idea of absolute Justice, in accordance with which each being receives
exactly what he gives - the essence of free-will.
Indissolubly connected with Karma is another aspect of the law of cycles
- Reincarnation. It means that man as a thinker, composed of soul, mind
and spirit, occupies body after body in life after life on the earth which
is the scene of his evolution, and where he must, under the very laws of
his being, complete that evolution, once it has been begun. In any one life
he is known to others as a personality, but in the whole stretch of eternity
he is one individual, feeling in himself an identity not dependent on name,
form, or recollection. The physical body is merely the shell of man, made
of matter of the earth, from the three lower kingdoms - mineral, vegetable,
and animal - and is being constantly renewed and worn out from day to day.
Man, himself, is that invisible entity which inhabits the body, which is
the cause of its present construction and development from lower
forms of consciousness. The body is but one instrument of the man within.
Other divisions are the psychic, mental and intuitional natures. Each of
these "instruments" is composed of intelligent "lives,"
and when the controlling being withdraws at death, the "instruments"
and "lives" separate, only to be later re-assembled. In this separation
of the instruments of man lies the explanation of "spirit-manifestations"
- which are nothing more than the automatic reflexes of "lives"
impressed by the departed soul with psychic impulses.
The doctrine of Reincarnation is the very base of Theosophy,
for it explains life and nature. It is one aspect of evolution,
since evolution could not go on without reembodiment. Reincarnation
was believed in at the time of Jesus and taught by some of the
early Christian Fathers. According to the view offered by Karma
and Reincarnation, each is his own judge, and his own executioner;
one's own hand forges the weapon which works for his punishment,
and each earns his own reward. Reincarnation banishes the fear
and sorrow of death, for as sleep is a release from the body,
during which we have dreams, so death is a rest and release, after
which we are again incarnated in a new body on earth. We come
once more into what we call waking existence, and meet again and
again the various Egos whom we have known in prior births, that
the causes generated in company with them may be worked out. Schopenhauer
once wrote that this doctrine "presents itself as the natural
conviction of man whenever he reflects at all in an unprejudiced
Third Fundamental Idea
Reincarnation brings us to the doctrine of Universal Evolution as expounded
by the Sages of the Wisdom-Religion. The third fundamental principle of
Theosophy points to the fact that all beings in the universe have evolved
from lower points of perception into greater and greater individualization;
that beings above man have gone through our stage; that there never can
be a stoppage to evolution in an infinite universe of infinite possibilities;
that whatever stage of perfection may be reached in any race, on any planet,
or in any solar system, there are always greater opportunities beyond.
Viewing life and its probable object, with all the varied experience
possible for man, one must be forced to the conclusion that a
single life is not enough for carrying out all that is intended
by Nature, to say nothing of what man himself desires to do. The
scale of variety in experience is enormous; every form of evolving
intelligence in nature either is now a man, has been a man, or
will become a man. Further there is a vast range of powers latent
in man which may be developed under lawful conditions. Knowledge
infinite in scope and diversity lies before us, although we perceive
that we have no time to reach up to the measure of our high aspirations.
To say that we have but one life here with such possibilities
put before us and impossible of development is to make of the
universe and life a huge and cruel joke.
The Teaching Of Hope
The two teachings that the West is most urgently in need of are those
of Karma and Reincarnation, the doctrines of hope and responsibility. Karma,
the doctrine of responsibility, means that whatever a man sows he shall
also reap. Reincarnation, the doctrine of hope, means that whatever be is
reaping, he may yet sow better seed. The very fact of suffering is a blessing.
Karma and Reincarnation show us that suffering is brought about by wrong
thought and action; through our suffering we may be brought to a realization
that a wrong course has been pursued. We learn through our suffering.
What Theosophy Explains
Theosophy is the only system of religion and philosophy which gives satisfactory
explanation of such problems as these:
First. The contrasts and unions of the world's faiths, and the
common foundation underlying them all.
Second. The existence of evil, suffering, sorrow - a hopeless
puzzle to the mere philanthropist or theologian.
Third. The inequalities in social condition and privilege; the
sharp contrasts between wealth and poverty, intelligence and stupidity,
culture and ignorance, virtue and vileness; the appearance of men of genius
in families destitute of it, as well as other facts in conflict with the
theory of heredity; the frequent cases of unfitness of environment around
individuals, so sore as to embitter disposition, hamper aspiration, and
paralyze endeavor; the violent antithesis between character and condition;
the occurrence of accident, misfortune and untimely death - all of them
problems solvable only by the Theosophic doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation.
Fourth. The possession by individuals of psychic powers - clairvoyance,
Fifth. The true nature of genuine phenomena in spiritualism,
and the proper antidote to superstition and to exaggerated expectation.
Sixth. The failure of conventional religions to extend
their areas, reform abuses, re-organize society, expand the idea
of brotherhood, abate discontent, diminish crime, and elevate
humanity; and an apparent inadequacy to realize in individual
lives the ideal they professedly uphold.
From the perspective of Theosophy, life is one grand school of Being,
and we have come to that stage where it is time for us to learn to understand
the purpose of existence; to grasp our whole nature firmly; to use every
means in our power in every direction - waking, dreaming, sleeping, or in
any other state - to bring the whole of our nature into accord, so that
our lower instrument may be "in line" and thus more fully reflect
our divine inner nature.
The Theosophical Movement
The Theosophical Movement, broadly considered, is to be found in all
times and in all nations. Wherever thought has struggled to be free, wherever
spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and dogmatism, have been promulgated,
there the great movement is to be discerned, for noble action is inspired
by noble thought, and Theosophy represents the principles of such thought.
The Theosophical movement begun by Madame Blavatsky in 1875 has passed
through many changes - changes unavoidable in a period of transition and
among people whose heredity and training are obstacles in the way of right
appreciation and application. But out of all these confusions must come
the nucleus of brotherhood among all men and nations, the formation of which
these teachers had in view from the very first.
Centers For Study And Work
There are today, in America and elsewhere, lodges of working students
without organizational affiliations of any kind, engaged in obtaining a
Theosophical education and in making Theosophy available to the community.
The name chosen for this common endeavor is "The United Lodge of Theosophists,"
under which the work of public meetings, study classes, and distribution
of literature is conducted.
The United Lodge of Theosophists is an integral part of the Theosophical
Movement begun in New York in 1875. It is - as the name implies - an association
of theosophists irrespective of organization, who are bound together by
the tie of common aim, purpose and teaching. Theosophy, being the origin,
basis and genius of every Theosophical organization forms in itself a common
ground of interest and effort, above and beyond all differences of opinion
as to persons or methods. Theosophy is the philosophy of Unity, and it calls
for the essential union of those who profess and promulgate it.
U.L.T. Lodges holding regular public meetings exist in a number of
the larger cities of the United States, among them New York, Philadelphia,
San Francisco and Los Angeles. Besides these and other Lodges, there are
numerous smaller groups meeting for study and discussion of the Theosophical
philosophy. The Theosophy Company of Los Angeles (245 West 33rd St.) works
cooperatively with U.L.T. for the purpose of publishing authentic Theosophical
literature, and also serves as a center of information regarding Theosophical
activities, and invites correspondence concerning the Lodge or study group
most conveniently located for inquirers. The meetings and classes are free
to all, and all are welcome. Attendance involves no fees, dues or collections;
the work of the United Lodge of Theosophists is supported entirely by voluntary