Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye

Comments on Theosophy

Comments on Theosophy by Robert V. Smith in The Way of Oz: A Guide to Wisdom, Heart, and Courage. Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press, 2012. Pp. xvii + 259.

“Given Frank and Maud Baum’s belief in theosophy, it’s been suggested that the name Toto [for Dorothy’s dog] may be a contraction of totality — a word that embraces the Eastern philosophical concept if totality, or a natural ‘unity of matter and energy . . . both real and imagined’” (p. 4).

“Frank Baum believed in the tenets of theosophy, which include an acknowledgment of the power of the Buddha’s Golden Road, or path to self-understanding and enlightenment through a life of study and struggle” (p. 17).

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Jean Sibelius (1865 – 1957)

[from HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, by Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams, research assistant, 3rd rev. ed. (Santa Barbara, CA: Path Publishing House, 1999; c. 1993), pp. 496-7.]


Jean Sibelius

On the occasion of Sibelius’s ninetieth birthday, the music critic for the New York Times (December 1955) wrote:

“The interrelationship between life and art is one of Sibelius’s chief concerns. Sibelius’s identification with the fields, the woods, the sea and the sky is so profound that it has always permeated his music. . . . As a boy Sibelius wandered in the wilderness of his native province of Hame. Birds always fascinated him. "Millions of years ago, in my previous incarnations," he once told Jalas [his son-in-law], "I must have been related to swans or wild geese, because I can still feel that affinity."”

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Theosophy, Fantasy, and Mary Poppins

John Algeo – USA

Chapter 4: The Third Book of the Series: Mary Poppins Opens the Door

Travers, Pamela L. Mary Poppins Opens the Door. San Diego: Harcourt, Odyssey/Harcourt Young Classic, 1997, c. 1943.

Mary Poppins Opens the Door, the third and final volume of the three basic Mary Poppins books (with 255 pages of text), is almost as long as the preceding volume and has eight chapters.

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Henry A. Wallace

Henry Agard Wallace (October 7, 1888 – November 18, 1965) was the 33rd Vice President of the United States (1941–1945), the Secretary of Agriculture (1933–1940), and the Secretary of Commerce (1945–1946). In the 1948 presidential election, Wallace was the nominee of the Progressive Party.


Henry A. Wallace

Wallace was raised as a Presbyterian and remained a devout Christian all his life. In college, however, he became increasingly dissatisfied with organized religion after reading William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902). Around 1919 he stopped attending the Presbyterian church and spent the next ten years exploring other religious faiths and traditions, including spiritualism and esoteric religion.

He completed a correspondence course in Theosophy from the People's Temple, and was a card-holding member of the Theosophical Society in America, as verified by the archives in Wheaton, for some years until 1935, when he let his membership lapse after joining Franklin Roosevelt's cabinet, presumably for political reasons. He was also an altar boy in the Liberal Catholic Church.

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After the Funeral

From Agatha Christie’s After the Funeral (New York: Black Dog & Leventhal, 1953), p. 76: “She remade her will about three weeks ago. (It was formerly in favour of the Theosophical Society).”


Agatha Christie

Religion and Violence Against Women

The following article is about a critical social problem that is, not only not mitigated, but actually aggravated by an unholy and unlikely consensus among traditional Roman Catholicism, reactionary Islam, and atheist Russia. The article does not mention Theosophy, but the problem it addresses is a central concern of the Theosophical Society, whose first object is “to form a nucleus of the universal human family without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color” and many of whose members have been in the forefront of action for the equal rights and protection of women.

For the article in the New York Times click here.

Editorial: Unholy Alliance

New York Times, March 11, 2013

Some horrific events over the past few months, including the shooting of a Pakistani schoolgirl and the rape and murder of a young Indian physiotherapy student, should have been an alert for the world to unite in preventing violence against women.

violence against women

But if a conference now under way at the United Nations is any guide, that message has not resounded with the necessary urgency. Halfway into their two-week annual meeting, delegates to the Commission on the Status of Women fear they will not be able to agree on a final communiqué, just like last year.

Who is to blame? Delegates and activists are pointing fingers at the Vatican, Iran and Russia for trying to eliminate language in a draft communiqué asserting that the familiar excuses — religion, custom, tradition — cannot be used by governments to duck their obligation to eliminate violence. The United Nations Human Rights Council endorsed similar language just six months ago.

Conservative hard-liners seem determined to fight it out again. They have also objected to references to abortion rights, as well as language suggesting that rape also includes forcible behavior by a woman’s husband or partner. Poland, Egypt, other Muslim states and conservative American Christian groups have criticized one or more parts of the draft. The efforts by the Vatican and Iran to control women are well known. It is not clear what motivates Russia, although there is a strong anti-feminist strain in President Vladimir V. Putin’s government. He may also be trying to curry favor with Islamic states.

Jimmy Carter speaks on violence

In any case, the suggestion that traditional values justify the violation of basic human rights is spurious. As Inga Marte Thorkildsen, Norway’s gender equality minister, has noted, “Violence against women must be seen as a human rights issue, and that has nothing to do with culture or religion.”

Gender-based violence is an epidemic. A World Bank report estimated that more women between the ages of 15 and 44 were at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria combined. According to the United Nations and other sources, more than 600 million women live in countries where domestic violence is not considered a crime and more than 3 million girls are facing female genital mutilation. Women in all social, economic, ethnic and religious groups are affected. The conference will be a failure if it cannot produce ambitious global standards that will deliver concrete results to protect women and girls.

 

Alexander Scriabin (1872 – 1915)

[from HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, by Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams, research assistant, 3rd rev. ed. (Santa Barbara, CA: Path Publishing House, 1999; c. 1993), pp. 497-8.]

In his foreword to Faubion Bowers' The New Scrabin, the noted Russian pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy wrote:

“I consider Scriabin one of the greatest composers . . . . His music has a unique idealism . . . . The basis of his thought was an indestructible faith and loyalty to Art as a means of elevating man's spirit and of showing light, goodness, and truth. Although one cannot say that without understanding his philosophy one cannot understand his music, one penetrates deeper into his music if one studies what compelled Scriabin. One cannot separate the man-as-philosopher from the composer of such beautiful music.”


Alexander Scriabin

What, then, was Scriabin's philosophy? Boris de Schloezer, the composer's Russian biographer, discloses that Theosophy was the only very strong outside influence he ever received. In Faubion Bowers's two-volume biography of Scriabin, detailed information on this is provided.

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