Theosophy

A TRIBUTE TO ODIN TOWNLEY (1938 – 2021)

 

Theosophy OD 2

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 Theosophy OD 3

Odin at his computer 

Earlier this year, on August 28, through a good friend of mine, I received  the sad notice that Odin Townley had passed away in New York. Odin had been struggling with health issues for quite some time, his passing though came rather unexpectedly. I never had the opportunity to really get to know him well, since I met him in person only once. It was during the ITC gathering in New York in 2013. We walked into each other at the entrance of the venue and I remember his firm handshake, wonderful  smile and sonorous voice vividly. Later we corresponded occasionally about subjects mainly dealing with the running of both our websites, respectively Theosophy Forward and Theosophy Watch,  I was and still am very fond of the way Odin set up his site and the contents he succeeded to present regularly. As an editor Odin was interested in a wide range of subjects and although the word “Watch”  in the name “Theosophy Watch” might make you think of something else, Odin demonstrated time after time not only to be creative, but also very open-minded. The site presents, as the subtitle indicates, "Ancient Thought in Modern Dress"

Theosophy Watch is an invaluable treasure and fortunately still “on the air”. I strongly recommend all sincere students to visit it and have a look around in the archives there. It is to be hoped that this phenomenal site will be  accessible  for a long time to come. By going over it, looking at all he various topics, we honor dear Odin and celebrate his life.

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Read more: A TRIBUTE TO ODIN TOWNLEY (1938 – 2021)

What is Theosophy?

 

Theosophy 2 b Two boys

As Theosophy tightens its grip on the leading minds in Western lands, literature will become more and more tinctured with its spirit, and men’s thoughts will become leavened with it without their own knowledge. After a while we shall not see even in a comic paper such a skit as the following sent us from the Book for All: 

Read more: What is Theosophy?

DRAWING THE LARGER CIRCLE

Sri Raghavan Iyer  – USA

Theosophy SRI 421 b

HH the Dalai Lama with the author inside the "Emerson Room" at the institute of World Culture, shortly after speaking and answering questions at the Santa Barbara U.L.T. in 1984

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"Great Sifter" is the name of the "Heart Doctrine", O Disciple. The wheel of the Good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day. The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour. The hand of Karma guides the wheel; the revolutions mark the beatings of the karmic heart.

The Voice of the Silence

 The 1975 cycle will continue to precipitate momentous choices for individuals and societies. What are the vital elements in this decisive choosing, and what will be the chief consequences? There is in the life of every human being a series of minor choices which add up to a crucial choice, but often it is made with incomplete knowledge of its critical nature. To grow and to age is to recognize with increasing clarity that all events in the past have had their irreversible consequences. Therefore, within any shallow philosophy centred essentially on the physical body and premised upon a single incarnation, a personal sense of futility and fatalism looms large as one comes closer to the moment of death. As with individuals, so with civilizations. Civilizations are apt to conduct the deepest reflection upon their storied past in times of depression, either out of self-indulgent nostalgia or sheer bewilderment at their bygone glory. This has shadowed every great civilization in its hour of decline, and today we are witnessing this in Western Europe and in the nostalgic mood which is intermittent in the United States. Civilizations seek to cling to something of the past, and perceptive chroniclers like Toynbee in England or Jaspers in Switzerland sense that something went wrong as early as before 1914, that the seeds of today's malaise lay far back in the past. When we look back to that past we surmise that a lot could have been avoided, that there were viable alternatives and missed opportunities. This is the sad state of societies as well as individuals who, because of narrowness of perspective and myopia in relation to the future, impose upon their lives a delusive dependence upon their own edited versions of a truncated past. But whenever human beings are willing to rethink their basic assumptions about themselves, about their shrouded past and about their cloudy future, then they do not need to edit. They do not have to limit unduly the horizon of their gaze. 

Read more: DRAWING THE LARGER CIRCLE

The Curse of Vision or an Ode to Sheep

Tim Wyatt – England

Theosophy TW b

Tim in beautiful surroundings

Sheep have no vision, nor dynamism. Their chief characteristic is a passive and submissive mass mind and the ability to be herded about before being slaughtered. They may provide the raw materials for wonderful warm knitwear or tasty roast dinners, but these are just about their only uses. And in truth we could probably get by without these things.

Read more: The Curse of Vision or an Ode to Sheep

SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION

Sri Raghavan Iyer – USA

Spirit 

The universe is even as a great temple

                                                                                                                                                                                         Claude de St. Martin

The central tenets of Theosophia are not derived from any ancient or modern sect but represent the accumulated wisdom of the ages, the unrecorded inheritance of humanity. Its vast scheme of cosmic and human evolution furnishes all true seekers with the symbolic alphabet necessary to interpret their recurrent visions as well as the universal framework and metaphysical vocabulary, drawn from many mystics and seers, which enable them to communicate their own intuitive perceptions. All authentic mystical writings are enriched by the alchemical flavour of Theosophical thought. Theosophy is an integrated system of fundamental verities taught by Initiates and Adepts across millennia. It is the Philosophia Perennis, the philosophy of human perfectibility, the science of spirituality and the religion of responsibility. It is the primeval fount of myriad religious systems as well as the hidden essence and esoteric wisdom of each. Man, an immortal monad, has been able to preserve this sacred heritage through the sacrificial efforts of enlightened and compassionate individuals, or Bodhisattvas, who constitute an ancient Brotherhood. They quietly assist in the ethical evolution and spiritual development of the whole of humanity. Theosophia is Divine Wisdom, transmitted and verified over aeons by the sages who belong to this secret Brotherhood.

Read more: SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION

William Quan Judge and The New York Times

 

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[Note from the editor: Portion of a letter to the editors of The New York Times, written by William Quan Judge - Published in Lucifer, Vol. X - March 1892 - pg. 82-83. (Also included in Echoes of the Orient - William Quan Judge - Pag, 24-25 - Point Loma Publications, Inc. - San Diego, California, U.S.A. 1980]

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Read more: William Quan Judge and The New York Times

Religion and Religions

B.P. Wadia – India

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B. P. Wadia

In every organized religion, the most striking phenomenon is the gap in the life of its votaries, between their beliefs and their deeds. Every Christian admits Jesus to be his Savior but how many endeavor to follow the Way taught in the Sermon on the Mount? Would there be rivalry and competition if all Christians tried to overcome their covetousness for money on the economic plane, for prestige and prominence on the social, or their pride and possessiveness on the political and national? Similarly, every Hindu believes in the immanence of Deity and the solidarity of man. How many act up to the great teaching that the Mleccha has the Light of Krishna within him? Would there be the degrading practice of untouchability if all Hindus understood and applied the truth of the Upanishad that the same Self shines in all, albeit It does not shine forth equally in all? Even they in whom the shining forth is meager yet carry the Light of all lights and therefore are deserving of respect and affection.

Read more: Religion and Religions

Helping Women Discover Their Wings

Deepa Padhi – India

Theosophy 213 DP b women child Small

Discovering wings ...

Often I am asked why I bring in this “Women Empowerment” issue, which is essentially social and political, into Theo-sophy and the Theosophical Order of Service forum. What would be the theosophical perspective on women’s issues? My reply has always been that every being, whether male, female, or transgender, is first of all a human being, and therefore has a human right, which is gender equality. All acts of violence against women — domestic, public, and workplace — as well as empowerment of women are based on gender discrimination.

Read more: Helping Women Discover Their Wings

Light, Love and Hope

Sri Raghavan Iyer -- USA 

SRI 3 yes

The author

Light is the first begotten, and the first emanation of the Supreme, and Light is Life, says the Evangelist and the Kabalist. Both are electricity – the life principle, the anima mundi, pervading the universe, the electric vivifier of all things. Light is the great Protean magician, and under the divine will of the architect, or rather the architects, the "Builders" (called One collectively), its multifarious, omnipotent waves gave birth to every form as well as to every living being. From its swelling electric bosom, spring matter and spirit. Within its beams lie the beginnings of all physical and chemical action, and of all cosmic and spiritual phenomena; it vitalizes and disorganizes; it gives life and produces death, and from its primordial point gradually emerged into existence the myriads of worlds, visible and invisible celestial bodies.

The Secret Doctrine, i 579 

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The metaphysical mantram "Light is Life and both are electricity" intimates a profound insight that is realized only at the highest levels of meditation. Empty the mind of all objects and subjects, all contrasts and contours, in a world of names and forms and colours, and one can plunge into absolute Divine Darkness. Once in this realm of pure potential, one may apprehend the hidden noumenon of matter, that ultimate substance or primordial substratum which is the sum-total of all possible objects of perception by all possible beings. At the same time, one may apprehend Spirit as the totality of all the possible expressions, manifestations and radiations of one central divine energy or Light. In that Divine Darkness, the realm of boundless potential where no one thing exists, love is like the Light that is hidden in the Darkness. That Light is the origin of all that is latent, of all that will ever emerge and persist, all that will depart from form and yet remain as immaculate rays.

Read more: Light, Love and Hope

Aphorisms On Karma

 W. Q. Judge – USA

Theosophy WQJ 213 c 

William Quan Judge as a young man

An introduction by David M. Grossman:

[With the depth and breadth of the theosophical literature available since the initial impulse of the modern THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT marked by the formation of the Theosophical Society on November 17th 1875 in New York City with H.S. Olcott presiding and delivering its inaugural address and with H.P. Blavatsky, Wm Q. Judge among others in attendance, one cannot expect to have read all the theosophical books and articles in existence.  

One such article many might have missed, and a seminal one at that, is “Aphorisms On Karma”, by Judge.  Each of these aphorisms when reflected on cannot help but broaden our understanding of this fundamental law of life and can possibly help us as conscious karmic agents in our own right.]

Read more: Aphorisms On Karma

Three Thoughts

Tim Boyd – USA, India

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The author speaking in Adyar

Recently, during the course of a week, I had the opportunity to be exposed to three stimulating streams of thought: two from conversations, and one from a written article. Each was framed according to its own particular sphere, but, at least for me, there seemed to be a uniting thread of relevance to living a spiritual life.

(1) The first was a conversation that took place among three people: two Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoches and a political figure and philosopher in the Indian social and political realm. The conversation was supposed to cover the theme of “Ethics, Meditation, and Wisdom in a Turbulent World”. In actual fact, the conversation stopped at ethics. Ethics (sila), meditation (dhyâna), and wisdom (prajñâ) are the final three perfections (pâramitâs) as listed in Buddhism and in The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky (HPB).

Read more: Three Thoughts

Lucifer Resurrected

Tim Wyatt – England

Theosophy 213 LUC b LUCIFER

September 1887. China’s Yellow River floods killing up to two million people in one of the world’s worst natural disasters. In England almost two hundred people perish in a blaze at Exeter’s Theatre Royal. And Emile Berliner patents the Gramophone. Unknown to most people at the time, alongside these newsworthy events another significant development unfolds which will leave its permanent imprint on the world.

Inexplicably to some, controversially to many, the co-founder of the Theosophical Society and esotericist-in-chief H. P. Blavatsky chooses the name Lucifer for her new magazine designed to open the doors of occult knowledge to a wider audience. This name is almost universally perceived as a Satanic character, but Blavatsky passionately explains in her opening editorial that this is a wholly mistaken and deeply distorted interpretation of this key figure. Far from being the devil incarnate, Lucifer is no less than the light-bringer destined to bring truth to the world and illuminate ‘the hidden things of darkness’. The magazine’s chief mission, she asserts, is to ‘fight prejudice, hypocrisy and shams in every nation, in every class of Society, as in every department of life.’

Read more: Lucifer Resurrected

Are we responsible?

By a student

Theoosophy 213 LOT b

[This article appeared in the August 2021 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html]

We are all too aware of our rights, but seldom ask, do we also have our responsibilities? If yes, then what are they? Are we, for instance, responsible for our thoughts, for our desires, for our actions, for our nation, for the world we live in, for the sins of our ancestors and for our happiness? Every scripture of the world shows that from time to time, great teachers come to guide humanity and leave behind them the teachings which when studied and applied, would enable us to be self-reliant and responsible human beings. Are we living responsible lives? We live for ourselves, without consideration for others. We live a materialistic life, running after name, fame, power, position and possessions. We live, think and act irresponsibly. That is because we are unable to differentiate between real and unreal; permanent and impermanent. Our perceptions are colored by our conceptions about God, Man and Nature. We cannot say that we possess the right concepts. Otherwise, would there be so much dishonesty, hatred, violence and greed? Would we witness man’s inhumanity to man, and cruelty to animals, if we understood the law of interdependence? The philosophy of Theosophy enables in awakening man’s intuition and making him aware of his responsibilities to himself, to his fellow beings and to the whole of Nature.

Read more: Are we responsible?

Mastering the Cyclic Nature of Existence – 2

Elena Dovalsantos – USA

Theosophy 213 ED b

Elena's (the author) favorite flower - to read part 1 click HERE

Part I of this talk presented a theosophical perspective of the unity of all life. This view is based on the Ageless Wisdom teachings that (1) the same divine essence and consciousness pervades all things; and (2) that we are all evolving towards greater and greater realization and expression of our shared divinity.

Cycles at all levels allow for endless opportunities for this evolutionary development. In particular, reincarnation and the universal law of karma provide the necessary lessons to awaken us from our tendencies towards identification with worldly life, separateness, and craving for fleeting pleasures. These are what inevitably bring pain and suffering to ourselves and others.

As humans, we can decide to take matters into our own hands and hasten our awakening. We can stop being hapless victims of circumstance, trapped in the wheel of karma and rebirth, and instead be masters of our destinies. But how do we achieve this liberation when existence seems to entail endless creation of karma?

Read more: Mastering the Cyclic Nature of Existence – 2

Our Challenge Today

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy 213 BH 2 The World is on Fire

“The world is on fire. What are you doing?” 

This challenge came from Andrew Harvey, one of the speakers at the Summer National Convention of the Theosophical Society in America. The question is not only pertinent; it is a challenge to each and every one of us. 

Not only is humanity faced with the age-old problems of war, injustice, hunger, and homelessness (just to name a few), but it is currently also facing a global pandemic and climate change that threaten the entire globe. According to statistics 9% of the world population (approximately 697 people) are severely food insexure, and one quarter of people globally (1.9 billion) are moderately or severely food insecure (Roser & Ritchie, 2019), meaning that these individuals do not have reliable access to enough nutritious food. The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for water supply, sanitation, and hygiene tells us that in 2020, one quarter of the world’s population did not have safely managed drinking water. UNICEF tells us that “over 400 million children live in countries affected by violent conflict; many are forcibly displaced, sometimes orphaned and unaccompanied, in search of safety”. Daily, we hear about the millions of people globally who have died from Covid 19. In addition to all of this, in early August 2021 we were met with headlines that read: “U.N. climate change report sounds ‘code red for humanity’”. And finally, mental health issues abound and societal conflict is increasing in many parts of the world.

Read more: Our Challenge Today

Sources of The Secret Doctrine

Joy Mills – USA

Theosophy JM b

Joy, lecturing at Olcott,in Wheaton

The intent of THE SECRET DOCTRINE -- as indeed the intent of all esoteric writings -- is to transform the mind. It is to bring about a profound change in consciousness, and it is from that point of view that we should approach the work of H.P.B. At the same time we may recognize that she had to use the language that was available to her. She clothed the ideas she was presenting in the only language that was available; also, we must recognize that she was putting it in a western language. Specifically of course, it was written in English. But English is a very poor language, very poor from the point of view of philosophy. However, it is a very good language from other points of view; for example, it has spread all over the world. From a very tiny island the language has moved out almost everywhere. From that small island, England, there was a movement in trade and commerce all over the world. But to use such a language -- or indeed to use any western language -- to convey deeply philosophical concepts is to ask of those languages quite an impossible task. And consequently, we must look always behind the words to their deeper meaning, to what is meant by the external word. We must all the time seek the depth of meaning. We must seek that which is hidden by the word. And only by a change in consciousness, that is, a change so that the mind is no longer analyzing, but now moves to a new perception, can we come to understand the doctrine. It Is all too easy to be caught up in the externals, to be concerned with rounds and races and globes. What planetary chain is this? Do Mars and Mercury belong to this chain or do they not? To become concerned with what I call "the technologies of the lower mind." And then we miss the essence of what is presented, so I should like to use H.P.B.'s own statements to examine what is THE SECRET DOCTRINE and what are its sources.

Read more: Sources of The Secret Doctrine

Mastering the Cyclic Nature of Existence — I

Elena Dovalsantos – USA

Elena Dovalsantos

Elena Dovalsantos

In periods of difficulty or amidst catastrophic, life-changing events such as the current pandemic, many ask the most basic questions about life, such as: Why is this happening? Did we do anything to deserve this? What is this pandemic telling us? Are there lessons we are being made to learn? How do we navigate through a great crisis as this and come out the better for it?

Read more: Mastering the Cyclic Nature of Existence — I

The Sphinx of Theosophy, Part I

Annie Besant

Theosophy 212 b AB

The year 1917:  Annie Besant,  B. P Wadia and George Arundale were interned in Gulistan, Ootacamund. The photo was taken on the day of their internment . Dr Besant  is seen with New India which she published weekly

The Egyptian Sphinx will be familiar to every one of you, either by its pictured semblance, or possibly by the vision of its actual form. To me, and I dare say to many of you, there has always been a certain fascination in that mighty Sphinx, so serene in its composure, so absolutely still, so impressive in that stillness, with, as it were, the wisdom of ages sculptured on its impassive face. Few I think can have looked at it without feeling the fascination of the mystery of its wise eyes and fast-locked lips; few can have seen it without dreaming fantastically whether questions addressed to it might not possibly win answer to many problems of the world.

I have thought sometimes about that creed, so strange to many. Although it came from the East, it is of the thought of all climes and ages. That thought of the world that we speak of now as Theosophy, has in itself much likeness to that sculptured Sphinx, so much promise of answer to mystery and so much silence in face of the questionings of the world -- silence that has been profound for centuries, but silence that more recently has been broken. Tonight I am to try if it were possible to sketch for you something of what that Sphinx has to say of the world-questionings, to strive to give you in some fashion a rough answer, as it comes to some of us from the lips of the thinkers of the East.

Read more: The Sphinx of Theosophy, Part I

The Sphinx of Theosophy, Part 2

Annie Besant

Theosophy 212 d AB Besant Olcott und Judge in London

Annie Besant, Olcott and Judge in London, May 1891

Remember what I said to you about the seven planes of existence. Go to the fifth plane where the mind is working. Pass from the third, which is matter as you know it, to the fifth where the mind is in its own environment and living in its own life. There what to you is immaterial becomes material to it, for matter there is not identical with matter here, and that is visible and audible to the mind that is invisible and inaudible to the coarser senses of the body.

We learn from this dry science of the lecture hall, from our Western thought. We learn from this how the Occult Thought is justified by modern science, how that which has been taught for centuries in the Eastern schools is now becoming a matter of experience in the Western hospitals. If from that and from many another scientific proof of this real existence of thought and of mind, an existence other than we have known on our own earth, and within our own normal and daily life, if we once realize what that means, we learn that Man's destiny will indeed unfold itself before us as something loftier than poets have chanted, something mightier than ever prophets have dreamed.

Read more: The Sphinx of Theosophy, Part 2

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky on the Authority of The Secret Doctrine -2

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But our explanations are by no means complete, nor do they pretend to give out the full text, or to have been read by the help of more than three or four keys out of the sevenfold bunch of esoteric interpretation, and even this has only been partially accomplished. The work is too gigantic for any one person to undertake, far more to accomplish.

Read more: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky on the Authority of The Secret Doctrine -2

WHAT DID HELENA BLAVATSKY AND MASTER K.H. SAY ON “FREEDOM OF THOUGHT”?

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Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

“We may not be in sympathy with materialism, and may even abhor it; yet the Theosophical Society ought never to forget that which it owes to Freethinkers. It is to the unceasing efforts of a long series of adherents to Freethought— almost every one of whom has been made a martyr to his convictions at the hands of bigotry—that we, in the present century owe the very possibility of our existence as an organized body.” Lucifer, 1889, volume 5, n. 25, page 76. Suppressio Veri Suggestio Falsi, by the Adversay (HPB).

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“LUCIFER—the spirit of Intellectual Enlightenment and Freedom of Thought—is metaphorically the guiding beacon, which helps man to find his way through the rocks and sandbanks of Life, for Lucifer is the LOGOS in his highest, and the “Adversary” in his lowest aspect—both of which are reflected in our Ego”  The Secret Doctrine, Volume II, Stanza VII The Semi-Divine Down to the First Humanity page 162.

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“The “lofty platform” is very flattering, though our modesty urges us to regard it as a mirage developed within the limitless area of our kind “friends and admirers’ “fancy. But, supposing it had any independent existence of its own, we would far rather descend from and abandon it forever, than accept the passive role of a dumb old idol, alike indifferent to the happiness as to the misery and woes of the surrounding world. We decline the exalted position if we have to secure it at the price of our freedom of thought and speech. Collected Writings volume 4 “The Chosen “Vessels of Election” Blavatsky

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Read more: WHAT DID HELENA BLAVATSKY AND MASTER K.H. SAY ON “FREEDOM OF THOUGHT”?

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky on the Authority of The Secret Doctrine-1

Theosophy HPB 212 2

“And here, we must be allowed a last remark. No true theosophist, from the most ignorant up to the most learned, ought to claim infallibility for anything he may say or write upon occult matters. . ..  Thus, mistakes have been made in Isis Unveiled, in Esoteric Buddhism, in Man, in Magic: White and Black, etc., etc.; and more than one mistake is likely to be found in the present work.

Read more: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky on the Authority of The Secret Doctrine-1

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