Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

The thing about feelings: The radical notions of Annie Besant

On February 10 an interesting article appeared in the Chicago Tribune regarding an exhibition about Annie Besant’s ideas on Thought Forms, published in a book she wrote in 1905 with the same title which is well-known to many Theosophists.  

Lori Waxman – USA

What does explosive anger look like? It isn't hard to picture a narrative scene that corresponds, perhaps a burly man in a traffic jam screaming while pumping his fist out an open car window.
But that's a person and a situation, not a feeling. More ambitious, if stranger, would be the attempt to illustrate anger itself. At the turn of the 19th century, a British woman named Annie Besant gave visual form to an array of emotions, among them high ambition, vague sympathy, self-renunciation, definite affection, helpful thoughts and the appreciation of a picture.

Public-Eye-AB-4

Read more: The thing about feelings: The radical notions of Annie Besant

Theosophy and the Arts, Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment

David Grossman – USA

It is well known among students of Theosophy that renowned visual artists, poets, writers, composers, creative people of all sorts have made no secret of their interest in Theosophy. Some, such as W.B. Yates were  members of the original Theosophical Society. Others like the abstract painter Kandinsky in his book Concerning The Spiritual In Art quotes from the The Key To Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky and speaks about the Theosophical Society as the avenue of a contemporary spiritual impulse in the world.  Other artists and writers who are usually mentioned as influenced by Theosophy are Cezanne, Maeterlinck, Scriabin, D.H. Lawrence, Mondrian and the list goes on.

Read more: Theosophy and the Arts, Texts and Contexts of Modern Enchantment

Theosophy and Architecture: K. P. C. de Bazel’s Dutch Trading Company Building in Amsterdam (Reprint from January 2011)

Marty Th. Bax – The Netherlands  

[This essay was first published in Masonic and Esoteric Heritage: New Perspectives for Art and Heritage Policies. Proceedings of the First International Conference of the OVN, Foundation for the Advancement of Academic Research into the History of Freemasonry in the Netherlands, October 20-21, 2005. Ed. A. Kroon, M. Bax, J. Snoek. The Hague, Netherlands: OVN Foundation, 2005. It is reproduced here in a revised form.]

Theosophy and Architecture (part 1)

Introduction

The building of the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij (Dutch Trade Company) (1919-1926) is a long-time favourite of mine. When I started my PhD research on Theosophy and Art in the Netherlands in 1987, I came across this building in the literature on Karel de Bazel (1869-1923, a Theosophical architect and designer whose most famous work is the subject of this article). I was struck by the peculiarity of it, not only by itself but also with the vision and total work of the architect. It is curiously un-Western in appearance, a pleasure to the eye because of its fine sculpturing, but monolithic in appearance and emphatically turned inward. I was sure from the start that there was more to this building than the literature suggested.

Read more: Theosophy and Architecture: K. P. C. de Bazel’s Dutch Trading Company Building in Amsterdam...

Cities and Civilization – reissue

Morton Dilkes – USA

Public Eye 7 CitiesAndCivilizationsCover

Cities are the source of civilization. The truth of that statement is attested by the very etymology of the word civilization, whose stem is the Latin word civis, meaning “city.”

Madam Blavatsky also bore witness to the connection between cities and civilization in The Secret Doctrine(2:198), where she wrote of the first physical humanity on our planet: “The whole human race was at that time of ‘one language and of one lip.’ This did not prevent the last two Sub-Races of the Third Race from building cities, and sowing far and wide the first seeds of civilization under the guidance of their divine instructors.” Earlier, in Isis Unveiled (2:508), she had referred to the mythic figures of Hermes and Cain as those who “build cities, civilize and instruct mankind in the arts.” And later, in an 1892 article in Lucifer (CW 13:100), she noted: “Some Homeric heroes also, when they are said, like Laomedon, Priam’s father, to have built cities, were in reality establishing the Mysteries and introducing the Wisdom-Religion in foreign lands.”

Read more: Cities and Civilization – reissue

The Ojai Music Festival

Alex Ross – USA

Public Eye 2 The New Yorker

[extracts from The New Yorker (July 6 & 13, 2015): 88-89]

At first glance, it is a mystery how the prosperously rustic town of Ojai, California, came to host one of the world’s great festivals of modern music. . . . In the nineteen-twenties, the Indian guru Jiddu Krishnamurti and various personalities connected with the Theosophical movement took up residence in Ojai. . . .

Read more: The Ojai Music Festival

The Theosophical Roots of Spiritual Education

Kathleen Hall – Canada

In many countries, educational reforms are taking place to consider the changing needs of 21st century learners. The old factory model of education that was mainly concerned with churning out obedient workers no longer suits the needs of today’s world. As educators seek to embrace new ways of learning, many are considering a greater focus on educating the heart as well as the mind. In his ground-breaking video, “Changing Paradigms of Education” Sir Ken Robinson discusses the need for education that is both affective and cognitive. Robinson states that the outdated factory model most schools are still based on directly points to the need for a complete reform in education, one that addresses both the heart and the mind in learning. Humanity is at the forefront of a spiritual epoch. An education that includes the development of spiritual enlightenment also seems necessary in these times.

The emergence of this new spiritual epoch may have begun as far back as the late 19th century, and educational reforms that encompassed spiritual development were evident in the formation of new schools, many of which embodied Theosophical principles. These principles were defined by Madame Blavatsky, in her ideal of what children should be taught:

Children should above all be taught self-reliance, love for all men, altruism, mutual charity, and more than anything else, to think and reason for themselves. We would reduce the purely mechanical work of the memory to an absolute minimum and devote the time to the development and training of the inner senses, faculties and latent capacities. Deal with each child as a unit and educate it so as to produce the most harmonious and equal unfoldment of its powers, in order that its special aptitudes should find their full natural development. Aim at creating free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish.”

H. P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy [p. 251/52]

Read more: The Theosophical Roots of Spiritual Education

Meet me in Atlantis

Some publications, when referring to HPB and her work, are still filled up with worn out with misinterpretations and incorrect assumptions. The following excerpt is such an example. The reader needs to note that it isn't what the magazine's editor thinks, nor what Theosophy Forward tries to convey.

Adams, Mark. Meet Me in Atlantis: My Obsessive Quest to Find the Sunken City. New York: Dutton, 2015. [Warren County Public Library] "

Public Eye Meet me in Atlantis 2

Another writer famous for her supernatural insights into Atlantis / was the late nineteenth-century Russian-born occultist Madame Blavatsky, whose head would surely be carved alongside [Edgar] Cayce’s on the Mount Rushmore of psychics. Famous for her séances and for her founding the grab-bag spiritual movement known as Theosophy, Blavatsky popularized the idea of Atlantis as the ancient home of a race of supermen. She claimed that her book The Secret Doctrine was based on a manuscript written in Atlantis (translated from the original language, Senzar), which was at its height in the years prior to 850,000 BC, at least half a million years before the first Homo sapiens is believed to have emigrated from the African continent. The populace of Blavatsky’s Atlantis enjoyed such modern conviences as electricity and airships powered by psychic energy called vril. The causes she attributes to its downfall seem obvious in retrospect: a group practicing black magic spoiled everything by breeding human-animal hybrids akin to centaurs, which were exploited as warriors and sex slaves. Had Blavatsky’s thoughts on ‘cosmic evolution’ merely served as fodder for future New Age fantasies about Atlantis—you can still browse a nice selection of tarot cards at the Theosophical Society bookstore on East Fifty-Third Street in Manhattan—she could be written off as a harmless crank. But her ideas about ‘root races’—a division of humanity into higher and lower species—were adopted by German mystics with a passionate interest in demonstrating that the superior Nordic race could trace its lineage back to a mythical island. Blavatsky had written of the Aryans as the most developed of the root races of Atlantis. The term Aryan (from the Sanskrit word for ‘noble’) had originally been used by linguists to describe peoples stretching from northern Europe to India whose languages had shared origins” (pp. 85-86).

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