Theosophy

Cycles and Longing

Tim Boyd – USA, India

Theosophy TB b

The author

In the first chapter (Proem) of The Secret Doctrine (SD) H. P. Blavatsky (HPB) makes a couple of important statements. One of them consists of three fundamental propositions. Her assertion is that a clear apprehension of these three fundamental ideas is a prerequisite for an understanding of the overarching occult system of thought. In brief the fundamental propositions are:

(1) The one Absolute reality, said to be unthinkable and unknowable.

(2) Periodicity, or the cyclic nature of everything.

(3) Karma and Reincarnation “the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul . . . through the Cycle of Incarnation (or ‘Necessity’) in accordance with cyclic and karmic law.”

I would like to examine the second of these Propositions, which relates to “periodicity”, more familiarly called “cycles” — in Nature, within ourselves, and cycles of consciousness. The fact that something is described as “fundamental” or as a “law” should be more of a motivation for us to ask questions than to sit back and accept.

What is it about cycles that make them so fundamental? Anyone who gives even the slightest attention to this matter will be very familiar with cycles as they impact us individually. Every day we wake up in the morning, every night we go to sleep. Sleeping and waking links with the broader cycle of the Earth’s rotation on its axis resulting in day and night. Within our own body there are circadian rhythms, our “biological clock”, that correlate with this greater cycle of day and night. From the physiology of the body’s organs right down to the individual cells, there are interlinking daily rhythms. Seasons come and go, and come again.

The idea of pointing our attention in this direction is that the process of consideration links us with the greater body of Ageless Wisdom teachings. We tend to think of these cycles as repetitive. It is the nature of cycles that they repeat. Sometimes we become fixed in our understanding such that we see day and night, or sleeping and waking, as an ongoing fixture of reality.

Read more: Cycles and Longing

How to Study Theosophy – 3

Kenneth Small – USA

Theosophy GDP 2 gdepurucker pointloma pasadena

Insights from the Teachings of Gottfried de Purucker

Some Essential Keynotes on the Path of Awakening

Theosophy GDP 3

Self-Knowledge, Universal Love and Altruism

“The key to understanding, knowledge, and wisdom, is self-identification with the god within. This is the path of inner evolution.”[i]

“Forget yourself! … Live to benefit others!”[ii]

An Impersonal – Transpersonal View

De Purucker[iii] speaking in the 1930’s, used the word ‘impersonal’ to describe a higher spiritual view and state beyond the mere personality or ego and superficial conventional ‘goodness’. Today, in 2022, we might use the word ‘transpersonal’ , instead of ‘impersonal’ as fulfilling the meaning better.

Read more: How to Study Theosophy – 3

The Quiet Within Which Is Compassion  

Theosophy ULT b

[This article appeared in the October 2022 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:  https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html]

If it is the teaching that Kama is hard like iron it is not difficult for you to see where the hardness of the streak comes from. It is a well-known fact that feelings, i.e., Kamic expressions, are very changeable; but throughout the changes the hardness remains. It is the separative quality of Kama, the begetter and sustainer of the “I” notion or Ahankara. It is the “I” of Kama which separates—itself from others, as also one thing from another. It is the hardening quality that is separative, the maker of heavenly bodies and the rest. All feelings are separative; therefore Compassion cannot be placed in the hierarchy of Kama. If it is not a “feeling” what is it? It is a Power, a Shakti born of Buddhi, which, when active, uses Manas: it is Buddhi using Knowledge, which means understanding expressing itself as helpfulness. When a mother loves her child, or a friend his friend, often there is no true Compassion, but the instinct of Kama, very often beautiful and even noble, on the way to Compassion, but not Compassion.

Read more: The Quiet Within Which Is Compassion  

Theosophy and Its Evidences, Part II

Annie Besant

TE Besant

A contemplative Annie Besant

Taking up our investigation at the point at which we left it last month, we have to seek evidence for the statement that a body of doctrine exists, which has been secretly handed down from generation to generation, and has been the basis of the great philosophies and religions of the world.

As to the existence of such a Secret Doctrine, the ancient world no doubt felt. What were the famous "Mysteries," whether in India, Egypt, Greece, or elsewhere, but the unveiling to the selected few of the doctrines so carefully hidden from the outer world? As said Voltaire, "In the chaos of popular superstitions, there existed an institution that has ever prevented man from falling into absolute barbarity: it was that of the Mysteries." Dr. Warburton also, "The wisest and best men in the Pagan world are unanimous in this, that the Mysteries were instituted pure, and proposed the noblest ends by the worthiest means." These Mysteries, we learn from Cicero, were open only to the upright and the good, "An Initiate must practice all the virtues in his power: justice, fidelity, liberality, modesty, and temperance."

Read more: Theosophy and Its Evidences, Part II

Theosophy and Its Evidences, Part I

Annie Besant

Annie Besant LoC

Annie Besant

No more difficult work could be proposed, perhaps, to anybody of people, than the understanding of Theosophy and the effectual carrying on of its propaganda. Its philosophy is more abstruse than that of Hegel, while it is also far more subtle. Many of its evidences require so much study and self-denial ere they can be estimated that they will certainly remain hidden from the majority; not because they are in themselves incomprehensible, but because average, easy-going people have not the capacity of working them out.

The ethical teachings rest finally on the philosophy, and those who cannot, or will not, study the philosophy are reduced to accepting the ethics by themselves. These can, indeed, be shown to be useful, by that most potent of all arguments, the argument from experience; for they are most effective in promoting morality, i.e., in inducing social happiness. On this utilitarian ground, they can be taught, and can there hold their ground against any rivals in the same field. There they can use the conditional, but not the categorical, Imperative: the categorical remains veiled; the ultimate authority can be found only on the metaphysical heights, and those heights can be scaled but by the strenuous efforts of the patient and undaunted student.

Each such student can bear his testimony to what he has seen and known, but to all, save himself, his evidence remains second-hand. Personally won, it remains a personal possession, priceless to him, but of varying value to those who hear it from him.

Read more: Theosophy and Its Evidences, Part I

The Need for Healing

Tim Boyd – USA, India

Tim 9

International President Tim Boyd, always profoud and on the move ... 

I would like to turn our attention to the important subject of Healing. Even though it is not greatly stressed within our Theosophical teachings, it is both a fundamental reason for the founding of the Theosophical Society (TS) and an unavoidable consequence of a serious engagement with those teachings. It is also worthwhile to note that members of the TS have been in the forefront of healing work since the Society’s beginnings.

What is healing? If we examine the actual meaning of the word, it is not about specific practices or the methods employed in different healing communities. Its root meaning is to make whole. Its focus is the restoration of wholeness from a condition of fragmentation. But what does that mean? As a human being I have hands, legs, eyes, a brain, and so on; how can I not be whole?

Read more: The Need for Healing

Experiencing the Teachings

Pablo Sender – USA

PabloSender

Photo of Pablo taken while he was working at the International Headquarters in Adyar, India

The practice of meditative study and self-exploration, as well as the application of Theosophical teachings in daily life, are of utmost importance. Only in this way can we begin to experience something of what we learn in our studies. This is vital because by intellectual study we may know and understand many relevant teachings, but without some level of personal experience these teachings will fail to produce a change in us. Then, Theosophy becomes a mere system of thought, with very little relevance in how we live. Annie Besant expressed this as follows:

Concrete thought finds its natural realization in action, and if you do not act out a thought, then by reaction you weaken the thought. Strenuous action along the line of the thinking must follow the thought, otherwise progress will be slow. (A Study in Karma)

Read more: Experiencing the Teachings

Freedom of Choice

Theosophy FOC 2 

[This article appeared in the September 2022 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:  https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html]

Freedom of choice in ordinary everyday life we are obliged by the compulsion of human nature to choose between various options that open before us in everything we have to do, be it the food we eat or the clothes we wear or the articles we want to buy, and so on. The criterion for exercising choice for the most part of our lives is personal preference and satisfaction. What seems to us to fulfil our personal desire and preference is considered as good, and the contrary as bad. This is on the material plane in material concerns. Even in such solely material concerns of our lives ethical considerations do figure in the choices we have to make with varying degrees of importance. The choices we thus make in our lives, whether based on purely personal considerations or impersonal ones, are not confined to our individual lives but have a ripple effect causing far-reaching consequences by their impact on society and also on our character and destiny.

Read more: Freedom of Choice

How to study Theosophy – 2

Kenneth Small – USA

Theosophy KS 2

Insights and Cautionary Guidance from the Theosophical Teachings of Gottfried de Purucker

  1. Organic Living Theosophy versus Book Worship, Bibliolatry and Creeds

De Purucker clearly critiqued[i] a tendency among some students of theosophy[ii] who followed a literalist understanding of theosophy. He used a specific term for those students of theosophy who had become, what he termed ‘bibliolaters’ or ‘worshippers of the book’ or ‘true believers’. This tendency, rather surprisingly, fairly often occurred in some students studying the teachings and writings of Helena Blavatsky, in spite of Blavatsky’s cautions against this kind of literal surface level approach. Here, we will outline his ideas about literalism, spiritual authority and freedom of thought in theosophy. The context of Purucker’s more process oriented view of the ‘approach to truth’ in Theosophy is that all words are limited when attempting to describe metaphysical and ineffable realities. He makes clear that within each person’s spiritual journey, one needs to strive to understand these essential ideas based on their own inner experience. Purucker viewed the Masters, Blavatsky and his predecessors with great devotion and reverence, yet he simultaneously cautioned that a genuine understanding of Theosophy as an ‘inner reality’ goes beyond memorizing diagrams, quoting from a book, repeating the words of a great past Master or Teacher or mere belief in an idea, merely because of who authored it.[iii] De Purucker when understood correctly makes this pitfall on the path of inner awakening very clear and enunciates its solution. It is through awakening our inner capacity for direct intuition and cultivating wisdom and compassion that the teachings and practice of theosophy become alive. He further invites us to see the Theosophical Society (s) as living, organic, evolving entity and not a static mere organization.

Read more: How to study Theosophy – 2

Can Karma Be Eliminated?

Pablo Sender – USA

Theosophy PS 2 Karma

In the religious world, there are basically two models to explain our actions and their effects. One is that of a God who judges our deeds. Good actions are rewarded, while bad ones (sins) entail a punishment. This God that judges and administers punishments and rewards, however, can pardon sins if there is repentance in the doer or for other more inscrutable reasons.

H. P. Blavatsky (HPB), however, argued that the teaching of remission of sins takes away the idea of personal responsibility:

We believe neither in vicarious atonement, nor in the possibility of the remission of the smallest sin by any god, not even by a “personal Absolute” or “Infinite”, if such a thing could have any existence. What we believe in, is strict and impartial justice. (The Key to Theosophy, Sec. 11, “Periodical Rebirths”)

Read more: Can Karma Be Eliminated?

The Three Objects as a Guide to the Spiritual Path 

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy BH 2 Three

Radha Burnier opens chapter three of her book Human Regeneration with the following statement:

Although the Theosophical Society has three objects, it surely has only a single purpose, which is to uplift humanity from the moral and spiritual point of view.

This work, the upliftment of humanity, is the spiritual path which we are hoping/working to tread. Many have written or discussed the meaning of walking the spiritual path from a theosophical perspective. Summing up many of those writings, it becomes clear that walking this path leads us to an inner awareness–not just a theory, but a real Knowing–of the Oneness of all life. This then leads us to the further realization that we must live in such a way that we are serving all Life. 

Read more: The Three Objects as a Guide to the Spiritual Path 

A Meditation on Mindfulness

David M. Grossman – USA

Theosophy DMG 2 mindfulness meditations hd

It is kind of ironic that Thomas William Rhys Davids, an English scholar of the Pāli language and founder of the Pāli Text Society, is associated with the modern “mindfulness movement” due to his translation of a particular word into English. Rupert Gethin, Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol and president of the Pāli Text Society, tells us, that in 1881 “It appears to have been T. W. Rhys Davids who first translated the Buddhist technical term sati (in its Pāli form) or smrti (in its Sanskrit form) by the English word ‘mindfulness’.”

Read more: A Meditation on Mindfulness

On the Future: A few Reflections

William Quan Judge – USA

Theosophy WQJ b map

Although I am an American citizen, the place of my birth was in Ireland, and in what I am about to say I cannot be accused of Columbiamania, for no matter how long might be my life I could never be an American. For that perhaps it is right, since it is compulsory, to wait for some distant incarnation.

Now, either H.P.B. was right or she was wrong in what she says in The Secret Doctrine about the future of America. If wrong, then all this may be dismissed as idle speculation. But, if right, then all thoughtful Theosophists must take heed, weigh well, mentally appropriate and always remember what are her words as well as the conclusions to which they lead.

Read more: On the Future: A few Reflections

Youth & the Adyar School of the Wisdom

Tim Boyd – USA, India

Theosophy Tim b

Tim Boyd, International President of the Theosophical Society

AS international President of the Theosophical Society (TS) I had a special interest in the Young Theosophists (YT) gathering in June of this year at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden, the Netherlands. Having witnessed the recent resurgence of the YT movement, I looked forward to meeting and sharing with this group. Of the 31 who attended I had met a few over my years of TS travels. Coming from 16 different countries they were a diverse group with a variety of interests and experiences. It was fascinating to watch this group come together, each with their own unique background, with the Ageless Wisdom and its application as the binding factor.

Read more: Youth & the Adyar School of the Wisdom

Dharma – The Stern Law

Theosophy Dharma 2

[This article appeared in the August 2022 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:  https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html]

The Sanskrit term Dharma, among many others in the philosophical tradition of ancient India, has been variously understood and interpreted in the popular discourse, while the true significance of it remains elusive because of the vast scope of its many meanings and applications, encompassing the cosmic order, and its innumerable specific applications to everything and every being, from an atom and an infusoria to the Sun. The many specific microcosmic applications of it in specific environment ever gravitate towards and subserves the macrocosmic order and purpose. Mr. Judge in his “Letters” has given a meditative and vivid but concise word picture of the Cosmic order and purpose, which will give us an idea of vast scope and meaning of the term Dharma:

Read more: Dharma – The Stern Law

A Case for Mythology

David M. Grossman – USA

Theosophy DG 2

The author

Science and philosophy, religion and history are various pathways toward knowledge in our lives. We have excluded mythology for the most part and all that comes with it: gods, rituals, symbolism, and unexplained phenomena that is the heritage of every culture going back into the night of time, as fairytale and overheated imagination. Mythology can illuminate truths found in and through these various disciplines, giving them context and added meaning in what, deep down, concerns all of us; an underlying purpose and meaning to life.

Read more: A Case for Mythology

The New Cycle

H.P. Blavatsky

Theosophy HPB b cycle of life abstract art

[Note from Boris de Zirkoff, Editor – Theosophia, Summer 1980: We publish below a faithful English translation of certain passages from H.P.B.'s powerful article originally written in French and printed in the first issue of La Revue Theosophique of Paris, March 21, 1889. Today, almost an entire century later, we witness all around us the signposts and developments of precisely that which she had in mind when writing this important pronouncement. We call for close attention to her words on the part of all readers.]

The principal aim of our organization, which we are laboring to make a real brotherhood, is fully expressed in the motto of The Theosophical Society and all of its official organs: "There is no religion higher than Truth." As an impersonal Society, we must seize the truth wherever we find it, without permitting ourselves more partiality for one belief than for another. This leads directly to a very logical conclusion: if we acclaim and receive with open arms all sincere truth seekers, there can be no place in our ranks for the vehement sectarian, the bigot or the hypocrite, enclosed in Chinese Walls of dogma, each stone beating the words: "No admission!" What place indeed could such fanatics occupy amongst us, fanatics whose religion forbids all inquiry and does not admit any argument possible, when the mother-idea, the very root whence springs the beautiful plant we call Theosophy is known to be - absolute and unfettered liberty to investigate all the mysteries of Nature, human or divine.

Read more: The New Cycle

Mutual Exploration of the Truth of Suffering and Joy

Tim Boyd – USA

Theosophy TB 2

Whenever there is a speaker and an audience, there is a transaction that takes place. The audience is paying something. Often it is simply paying attention to the speaker. Hopefully, the speaker has something to say that is worth the payment. The ideas and communication expressed are usually fresh to those who are hearing them. But the speakers have been there, they have thought it through, put it together, and then present what to them is “yesterday’s news”. While it can be something that is uplifting or meaningful, or informative, to those who are hearing it, the process of the presentation excludes, in part, the speakers themselves. The creativity and exploration has already occurred prior to the presentation.

Read more: Mutual Exploration of the Truth of Suffering and Joy

The Real Work of the Theosophical Society

Nilakanta Sri Ram -- India 

Theosophy NSR 2 N Sri Ram 250x387

[An Address Delivered to the Australian Section Convention in March 1970]

Perhaps the most useful subject to discuss at a Convention like this would be the real work of the Theosophical Society, especially in relation to the present times. The Society was not founded as a movement to teach people to be good in the conventional sense—that is, not rob, murder, deceive, or perpetrate such patently injurious acts as unfortunately are very prevalent in these days. Nor was this Society meant to be a school of occultism. A letter from one of the Mahatmas makes that very clear. He says: “Rather perish the T. S. with both its hapless Founders than that we should permit it to become  no better than an academy of magic, a hall of occultism.” These are striking and ringing words. Nor is the Society meant merely to satisfy intellectual curiosity or provide a forum to amuse ourselves when we feel bored by discussing various intellectual themes. It was founded with the exalted purpose of promoting the spiritual regeneration of man. But then we have to understand what this regeneration means and how it is to take place. 

Read more: The Real Work of the Theosophical Society

Foreshadowing Future Events (Harbinger)

Theosophy ODL 2

Taken from Henry Steel Olcott's - Old Diary Leaves :

October 1896 :

At this same time the Tingley Crusaders reached Bombay on their voyage around the world and opened their proposed Indian campaign with a public meeting at the Town Hall of Bombay. In the report of this event and in the handbill which was distributed at Bombay, we see the same display of boastfulness and recklessness of statement which had been noticed in the remarks upon their doings at Paris.

Read more: Foreshadowing Future Events (Harbinger)

Fundamental Beliefs of Buddhism

 Henry Steel Olcott

Theosophy HSO 2 Olcott in 1884

H.S.O.

[written at Adyar, India, January 8, 1891]

Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and brotherly love to all men, without distinction; and an unswerving kindness toward the members of the animal kingdom.

The Universe was evolved, not created. It functions according to law, not according to the caprice of any God.

Read more: Fundamental Beliefs of Buddhism

Love: The Heart of Theosophy

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy BH 2

The Ancient Wisdom as expressed through Theosophy is complex and multifaceted. Conversations about the Ancient Wisdom range from the Unmanifest through spiritual evolution to the lives we live on this physical plane. What, one might ask, is at the center of this great teaching? Is there one important component upon which we could focus? Possibly the answers to these questions is quite simply: Love. Can we even imagine a world filled with love? Can we imagine a world in which individuals care for one another with compassion and understanding? Can we imagine a world in which everyone works together for peace and harmony? Yet, we know that love, compassion, understanding, peace, and harmony are hallmarks of the inner realms of existence. Love beyond all measure for humanity may be the one thing that is at the center of the Ancient Wisdom, the one important component upon which we can focus.

Read more: Love: The Heart of Theosophy

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