Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

A sceptical response

Leslie Price – England

Those who work on the powers latent in man are familiar with sceptics, that well organised community who assail any positive testimony to such powers on principle. They would like to be seen as meticulous and scholarly people in contrast to, well, anyone who does not adhere to orthodox views. Recently I was reminded of a case where this was not so, as I shall explain.

In 2014, I came across a sceptical book in which H.P.B. featured, and I wrote to the author Jason Colavito as below.

Subject: madame blavatsky
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2014

Dear Mr Colavito,

As associate editor of the journal Theosophical History  (www.theohistory.org ) I was naturally interested in your anthology Theosophy on Ancient Astronauts. I was surprised to read on p.x that Blavatsky material was channelled by her spirit guide. Truthfully or not, she always claimed that her Mahatmas, Brothers etc. were living men; though Olcott describes in his Old Diary Leaves what were clearly trances.

Read more: A sceptical response

Albert Schweitzer and Theosophy

Introduction compiled by Jan Nicolaas Kind

Wonderful black and white photo of Albert Schweitzer, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952, philosopher, musician, physician & humanitarian, 1875 – 1965

Albert Schweitzer was born on January 14, 1875, in Kaysersberg, a town near Strasbourg in Alsace, Germany (now part of France). Schweitzer has been called the greatest Christian of his time. He based his personal philosophy on a "reverence for life" and on a deep commitment to serve humanity through thought and action. For his many years of humanitarian efforts, Schweitzer was awarded the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize.

Read more: Albert Schweitzer and Theosophy

Albert’s Schweitzer’s Friendship with Rudolph Steiner

These excerpts, translated by Frank Thomas Smith, are from the book Der Andere Rudolf Steiner (The Other Rudolf Steiner); Dornach, Switzerland: Pforte Verlag, 2005).


Albert Schweitzer

From the memoirs of Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965):
 
“My first encounter with Rudolf Steiner took place on the occasion of a Theosophical conference in Strasbourg. If I'm not mistaken, it was in 1902 or 1903. Annie Besant, with whom I was acquainted through Strasbourg friends, introduced us.

Read more: Albert’s Schweitzer’s Friendship with Rudolph Steiner

Lawren Harris and Theosophy – Part two

Kathleen F. Hall – Canada

[Part 1 of this article traced the life and work of the major Canadian artist Lawren Harris from socially conscious urban cityscapes through lyrical landscapes to transcendent, mystical interpretations of the land. This part examines Theosophical influences that led Harris to abstraction in a process that mirrors his own evolution into spiritual realization.]

The influence of the spiritual writings and paintings of Kandinsky can also been seen in Harris’s work. Harris read Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art and understood Kandinsky’s references to Charles Leadbeater and Annie Besant’s book Thought-Forms, which Harris had read as well (Adamson). That book identifies colours with symbolic meanings based on states of consciousness that descend from spirit to matter: yellows, higher intelligence; blue, spirituality; and pale azure, union with the divine. Thought-Forms describes a radiating vibration that people emit when formulating a thought, with which colours combine to create a distinct form visible to clairvoyants. Adamson (p. 133) quotes from Thought-Forms to describe how these forms relate to art:

"In many respects, a work of art was a materialized thought-form of the artist, containing a spiritual significance and adhering to the three principles underlying all thought forms: 1. Quality of thought determines color. 2. Nature of thought determines form. 3. Definiteness of thought determines clearness of outline."

Read more: Lawren Harris and Theosophy – Part two

Big Bang & Theosophy

Astrophysicists generally hold that our universe began with a Big Bang, before which nothing existed. That would make our universe a unique event in cosmic history.

Read more: Big Bang & Theosophy

Crises of Faith or Doubt and Annie Besant

Catherine Wathen – USA

Public-Eye-2

The nineteenth century, everybody knows, was an age when faith was lost and scientific skepticism came to the fore. It was, after all, the age of Darwin, the saint of faithless skeptics. Yet, what “everybody knows” has been challenged in a recent book by Timothy Larsen: Crisis of Doubt: Honest Faith in Nineteenth-Century England (Oxford University Press, 2006). In this book, Larsen argues that the view of the century of Darwin as a time when faith was on the wane is wrong, or at least incomplete. He cites examples of skeptics who rediscovered faith in traditional religion and maintains that they represent a “crisis of doubt” in the secular values of skepticism.

Read more: Crises of Faith or Doubt and Annie Besant

Lawren Harris and Theosophy – Part one

Kathleen F. Hall – Canada

“The power of beauty at work in man, as the artist has always known, is severe and exacting, and once invoked, will never leave him alone, until he brings his work and life into some semblance of harmony with its spirit” (Harris, “Theosophy and Art”).

Lawren Stewart Harris is well-known as a Canadian landscape painter and the founder of the Group of Seven. He was also a Theosophist whose art was highly influenced by his spirituality. Over the course of his career, Harris engaged in seeking spiritual knowledge, which in turn caused his work to evolve and change from an objective interpretation of the Canadian landscape to a non-objective representation of the spiritual.

Harris was born October 23, 1885 in Brantford, Ontario, but as a youth moved to Toronto. While a young college student attending University College, the University of Toronto, he was recognized for his artistic ability and was encouraged to study art in Europe. Consequently, in 1904 he attended art school in Berlin. In Europe, Harris had three important encounters that were to have a great influence on his life and art. One was an exhibit of nineteenth-century German art, including works by Caspar David Friedrich, whose vast open landscapes provoked a heightened spiritual sensibility. Another was meeting Paul Thiem, a poet, philosopher, Theosophist, and regionalist painter, who quite possibly introduced him to a Theosophical art exhibit in Munich at this time (Adamson). The third was the opportunity to go on hiking and sketching trips into the mountains. These three events marked a course for the direction that Harris’s life would follow thereafter.

Read more: Lawren Harris and Theosophy – Part one

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