The Society

Editorial - Is my Theosophy better than yours?

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Many are enthusiastic and encouraged because of the initiatives of ITC. (International Theosophy Conferences Inc.)

Obviously this relatively young organization still has a long way to go and perhaps not all are equally inspired; those active in ITC (its board, executive committee and its members) are certainly aware of that. In a way, Theosophists who might oppose ITC, or don’t understand or simply question its purposes, keep ITC alert. The organization ought to be thankful for that.

Some continue to repeat the trite mantra of “we are right and all others are wrong,” referring to those Theosophists who not only study Judge and H.P.B. but also find their way in the oeuvre of such authors as G. de Purucker, Geoffrey Barborka, Annie Besant, Katherine Tingley, Sri Krishna Prem, Sri Madhava Ashish, I. K. Taimni, and other Theosophical writers. Some still but erroneously maintain that many Theosophists have deliberately been kept ignorant of the fabulous works of William Quan Judge. This fiction has been around for many decades and has convinced many that it is factual. Once an idea, no matter how wrong, has been rooted so deeply, it is hard and painstaking to prove the opposite.

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The very well-structured Theosophical Library in Amsterdam, the Netherlands

In fact, the complete works of Judge are available in the Olcott Memorial Library at Olcott in Wheaton, (the headquarters of the TSA); the Theosophical Library in Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and in many other leading (Adyar) libraries all over the world.

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The Olcott Memorial Library at Olcott in Wheaton, USA

Indeed, I bought my very first Judge book, Vernal Blooms, in 1996 at the Adyar book shop at the International headquarters of the TS there. Many in this vehicle do recognize William Judge as one of the three main founders of the Society.

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Vernal Blooms, a Judge gem

Never in the past has the Theosophical Society promulgated an official doctrine, nor will it ever do so in the future. Those who join or attend any of the Theosophical organizations do so with the objective and desire of being enquirers and seekers, not proclaimers of truth, being cautious that the Society does not turn into a sect.

In 1888, warning against crystallization and orthodoxy, H.P.B. wrote: “Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge” (H. P. Blavatsky to the American Conventions1881-1891, TUP, Pasadena, 1979, p.5).

It is also undeniable that the early pioneers of the Theosophical Society had their differences and made mistakes that at times led to conflicts. We cannot undo history, but we are certainly able to work for the future, which for some seems to be an unsurmountable hindrance. All those past events remain a source of inspiration to continue with the differences, fueling old conflicts, belittling and even insulting others, pointing fingers and uttering unfounded accusations. The mantra is cold and very monotonous: beware of the polluters, the false prophets; because we are the protectors of Pure Theosophy, Original Theosophy; we represent true Theosophy, as it was meant to be.

Have we perhaps forgotten that we are freethinkers, and haven’t we been told that we do not teach or promulgate a doctrine, didn’t H.P.B. warn and instructed us sufficiently? What did she say about the TS as a vehicle? “In the capacity of an abstract body, the Theosophical Society does not believe in anything, does not accept anything, and does not teach anything” (H. P. Blavatsky’s Collected Writings 11:124 [TPH, Wheaton, USA, 1973])

Are we afraid of the Truth and must we protect ourselves with dogmas?

I have been around long enough to understand that my Theosophy can never be better than anyone else’s Theosophy, but vice versa, no one else’s Theosophy can ever be better than mine. Let me simply put it like this: Theosophy is not about telling how wrong other Theosophists were or still are, Theosophy is really and only about how we can live the life and enlighten this troubled world of ours.

One can ask why some students assume that what they represent and believe is the absolute truth? Why are they so convinced that only their specific understanding is the right one? Is that what they were told during their study classes, were they instructed to think precisely according to that line? Doesn’t that smell after fundamentalism? Are we a sect now? Or are they insecure perhaps, afraid, incapable of setting out on a journey in which all is impartially investigated without bias?

Instead of acting like a Theosophical inquisition, in which condemnation of others is the basic guideline, we need to learn to listen to each other so that we can free ourselves from prejudice and fear. Dorothy Bell from Australia in her piece “Roots and Shoots,” when writing about this subject, stated: “The impulse of the heart that sowed its seed in 1875 and grew the outer vehicle – the Theosophical Society – to carry the light of wisdom into the world, is still with us today in the hearts of many who are responding anew to its original call, but who find themselves under different labels, in different boxes, and in different territories. . . . But the original impulse that produced the seed and the tree, the branches and offshoots, the underground runners with their place in the sun, is still within, seeking expression and fulfillment. There is no need to change any boundaries, annex other territories, or dissolve any compartments, save in the prison of the mind. And a mind that is crippled by memory — by separation and fear — can never be free. We can find our own place in the sun by going beyond the bondage of the past and serving that impulse wherever we are. That is our territory; that is our center; that is our Theosophical family.”

During the annual ITC gatherings we sit together with other Theosophists and try indeed to free ourselves from that past bondage, to meet on mutual grounds, to discover what we have in common and, equally important, to see where we differ. After Blavatsky, others came elaborating and exploring her writings; and yes, we ought to be cautious to verify whether the connections with what she handed out and those other writings are genuinely correct, and not contrary to what she taught, for after all, Theosophy is in everything, but not everything is Theosophy.

Herman Vermeulen and Barend Voorham from the Netherlands, in an important article entitled “How to prove Theosophy” wrote these relevant lines: “what is contrary to Blavatsky is not true. But this does not mean that after her there were no other representatives of the Masters, who could clarify Blavatsky’s writings and by doing so could lift the veil a little further and show a little more of the truth. We should approach their teachings in the same way as we approach those of Blavatsky. If their writings reflect ideas which we have already been experienced as true, then we can reasonably rely on their teachings. In fact, every thinker, when he is in a highly intuitive, compassionate state, is able to find a track to a deeper explanation. If you deny the possibility of this, then you are making an icon of Blavatsky. You place her on a pedestal. And this will do her as much injustice as when you belittle or ignore her. In both cases, it leads to degeneration.”

I concluded that for me it is actually difficult to talk about Theosophical teachings as such, to partake in discussions or studies regarding The Secret Doctrine, not out of some kind of shyness, but because it is so very personal since I read the SD as if it is a mystical poem, it is my own profound experience. I am sharing this with the readers because it is worthy to keep in mind that Theosophy can never be regarded as a knowledge-based teaching, it is a wisdom-based teaching. Whether we like it or not, and by definition, wisdom cannot be categorized, labelled, or even defined. The French novelist Marcel Proust in his book In Search of Lost Time, Volume 2: Within a Budding Grove, wrote: “We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.”

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Marcel Proust

Much has been written about the 2014 Naarden meeting of ITC, mostly by those who weren’t present there, presenting critiques and questioning. That is perfectly all right; as I wrote above, it will keep ITC alert. I wholeheartedly call upon all students from around the world, to come to The Hague in August, to personally experience what it is to participate in an ITC gathering and meet up, and actually sit down at one table with students from all Theosophical traditions. Yes, you might end up sitting with a TS-Adyar member, a Theosophist who is not affiliated, a member of the TS-Point Loma, or a ULT student, and be pleasantly surprised to discover that many of them are deep students of H.P.B.

ITC is truly a decent, transparent, and democratic organization with solid bylaws and crystal clear purposes. There is no hidden agenda, no reason for suspicion, no group is going to dominate the other, and no one is going to try to convert anyone else. Its board and members have stepped out of the old, worn-out grooves. ITC believes that all traditions, organizations, or movements need to continue to do the specific work they have been doing for so many years now, with spiritual unity. There is no room for fear, but there is trust instead, because no one will claim to solely represent “true” Theosophy, no one needs to step away from what she or he believes Theosophy is all about. On the contrary, all will be respectfully and brotherly “in communion.” Isn’t that what Brotherhood is all about? Without a doubt, this is an interesting, very challenging and heartwarming experience.

Visit ITC’s website, click: 

A comment regarding a Facebook posting.

Theosophy Forward is also active on Facebook. The page is to be considered a “portal” to the magazine. The magazine appears four times per year and through the Facebook activities the editor is able to reach out to readers on almost a daily basis. Reactions overall are interesting and appreciative. Recently I posted a piece regarding issues the TS-Adyar apparently is involved in critically, looking at the way some are dealing with this. This is the conclusion of that article: “Decent folks are always in search for truth and justice; they will never settle for less. As with all wrong doings, scandals, and mayhems, individuals perform acts, and as it often happens lofty ideals are obscured by those with personal agendas who improperly and cowardly exploit incidents such as the ones Marsland and M. K. Ramadoss, speaking from their small, creepy and closed worlds, write about. Perhaps one day such people will come to their senses. In the meantime, for those of us with a different nature, we will just have to move ahead and continue our work for Theosophy.”

I encourage all Theosophists to continue working for Theosophy, realizing that as with all large organizations such as the TS-Adyar there are issues that need to be looked into and ultimately require a solution. The two gentlemen mentioned above, under the banner of being whistle-blowers demanding justice, actually just blow thin and poisened air, which will never contribute to any solution in any way. Forward with Theosophy!

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