The Transmission of Theosophy

Ianthe Hoskins – England

[Condensed from a Convention Lecture]

Theosophy Ianthe Hoskins 4 bGEN SECS 96 copy
From left to the right: Hugh Grey, Ianthe Hoskins, Geoffrey Farthing, Lilian Storey and John Algeo in 1996

One of the recurring themes of occult literature is the obligation of those who receive light to share that light with others. We who today enjoy the light that Theosophy has brought to our lives have therefore the duty both of presenting Theosophy in the contemporary world and of ensuring its transmission to the future.

To our main question “What shall we transmit?” the answer seems simple enough, “Why, Theosophy, of course!” But is it really so simple? Let us examine question and answer from various angles.

Read more: The Transmission of Theosophy

Because It Is There

Ianthe Hoskins – England

[This article was previously published in The American Theosophist/May 1974. Here in a slightly revised version]

Theosophy Ianthe Hoskins 5 b godwin 89hq-1
The author with composer and musicologist Joscelyn Godwin

Mallory’s * answer to the journalist who asked him why he wanted to climb Everest has passed into the folklore of mountaineering. It answers equally the question with which we are now concerned: Why search for Truth? Why, because it is there!

But another answer than Mallory’s must be given when the question is posed in more general terms. He stated simply his own reason- if it may be called a reason-when the question was addressed to him personally. When from the particular it is asked of the world at large: Why do people climb mountains? The answer quite obviously is: Most of them don’t. And among the few who do, the reasons are likely to be as varied as those who are questioned. In the history of mountaineering the motives that have prompted men to climb mountains have included, for example, an inborn love of the space and solitude of high places, secret ambition, nationalistic pride and competitiveness, a thirst for the new and undiscovered, an inward need to overcome one’s weakness and fear, to prove oneself to oneself, as well as the inexplicable and irrational “must” that in some people is the only possible response to the magnetism of great mountains.

Read more: Because It Is There

Death Brings Life into Focus

Betty Bland - USA

[This article was previously published in the June 2015 issue of TheoSophia, the official magazine of the Theosophical Society in New Zealand.]

Theosophy Betty Bland 2
Betty Bland is past President of the Theosophical Society in America and currently serves on the boards of the Theosophical Order of Service and the Theosophical Book Gift Institute. An active worker for the Society since she first joined in 1970, her emphasis continues to be the practical applications of Theosophical principles.

Why are we so fascinated with near death experiences (NDEs)? Certainly they are a curiosity and something beyond normal experience, but it seems to be more than that. Out-of-body experiences, premonitions and other psychic experiences are numerous but they do not have the notoriety of the NDE. There are not so many best-selling books or lecture tours about the other types of phenomena. Death, however, does seem to get our attention since we are all headed in that direction. Moreover, although the NDE reports are so varied in detail that we cannot get a clear picture, the NDE does give important clues to the basic questions of life. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Am I condemned for past mistakes? Are my loved ones forever lost to me?

Read more: Death Brings Life into Focus

The Apostle Paul and Theosophy – Part two

Leslie Price – England

Second draft (November 5, 2012) of an October 24, 2012 talk to Camberley Theosophical Lodge.

Theosophy Apostle 4 Paul and Theosophy PART 2
The Apostle Paul painted by Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn, around 1630

In 1990, John Ashton, in his book The Religion of Paul the Apostle, made a thorough comparison of Paul’s experiences with those of shamanism. Here is an extract: “Paul’s reversal of all his values, his radical change of mind and heart, coincided with his call and conversion. It was at that very moment that he died to his old life and Christ began to live in him. What endured at that time was, though he nowhere describes it in this way, the equivalent of the shaman’s traumatic sense of being torn apart and reconstituted at the moment of his vocation. But Paul’s new spirit guide was different. Christ had attained his own new status, through an actual death and, so Paul believed, an actual rising from the dead” (p. 126).

Read more: The Apostle Paul and Theosophy – Part two

The Voice of the Silence 17 (verses 272-280)

John Algeo – USA

Theosophy The Voice 17 b

Verses 272-280

Verses 272 through 280 describe the final approach to and passage through the fifth and sixth gates. These are an interesting pair of gates — in some ways apparently contradictory, but actually they complement and supplement each other. The fifth gate is that of vīrya, meaning “strength, zeal, heroism,” an active and vigorous concept. The fifth gate corresponds with the principle of manas, the mind. The sixth gate is that of dhyāna, meaning “meditation,” a quiet and self-reflective process. The sixth gate corresponds with the principle of buddhi, the intellect or faculty that discriminates. They are respectively outgoing and inward looking: the warrior and the contemplative — one who spends life in fighting and one who spends it in prayer or meditation. Together they represent a balance, of precisely the kind one must have to pass through these two gates.

Read more: The Voice of the Silence 17 (verses 272-280)

Human Regeneration – part eight

Radha Burnier – India

[Recognizing regeneration as the kernel of all Theosophical work, the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden, the Netherlands, jointly with the Federation of Theosophical Societies in Europe, organized two seminars in July 1990, with a number of office bearers, workers and members of the Society from different countries as participants. Proceedings of the seminar were published as a book under the title Human Regeneration: Lectures and Discussion (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij der Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland, 1990). This chapter (discussions) is here slightly revised.]

Theosophy Human Regeneration part 8 RB 2
Radha Burnier in a typical pose talking to members in India

T.S. Work and the Fundamental Change in Man and Society


RB: The purpose of organizing these two seminars here is a practical one; we hope that as a result of the discussions we will all have a clearer idea about the work of the Society. There are representatives here from many countries in Europe and also from other continents. In many parts of the world there are sections, lodges and groups of the T.S.; some of them lack clarity about the aims of the Society and the universal brotherhood without distinctions which is our aim. Many here hold responsible offices in the sections and we must be clear about the thrust the T.S. should give to human thinking, understanding, and perspectives. If we are, it may dynamize the Society. That is what we hope. If we are not, vague activities may go on in the different branches without really promoting the work of the Society.

But the central purpose of the Society must be fulfilled by all the different units of the Society. So we hope that these discussions will bring about a clear understanding of the subjects chosen for the different days, and that we can take back to our countries and areas a new comprehension of what needs to be done.

Read more: Human Regeneration – part eight

Why the “Vahan”?

H. P. Blavatsky

[The Vahan 1.1 (December 1, 1890): 1-3; here from CollectedWritings 12 (1890): 417-419]

Vahana (Sanskrit: Vāhana, literally “that which carries, that which pulls”) denotes the being, typically an animal or mythical entity, a particular Hindu deity is said to use as a vehicle. In this capacity, the vahana is often called the deity’s “mount.”

Theosophy Why 2

Because the word means a Vehicle. In Theo- sophical metaphysics, this term denotes a basis, something as a bearer, more substantial than that which it bears; e.g., Buddhi, the spiritual Soul, is the Vahan of Atma—the purely immaterial “principle.” Or again, as in physiology, our brain is the supposed physical vehicle or Vahan of super-physical thought.

Read more: Why the “Vahan”?

The Sun a Beating Heart

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

Theosophy Boris de Zirkoff 2 Theosophia 37 02
[Original cover photo of Theosophia, California Redwoods]

The Sun is the vital focus of the Solar System. From it issue all the streams of energy and power which keep its entire kingdom alive and provide the forces necessary for its evolution.

In the present year, we are experiencing a maximum of the 11-12-year-cycle of sun-spot activity and some of the ancient occult teachings connected with the nature of the Sun suggest themselves for careful consideration. Astronomers of today have discovered much that was mere speculation a few years ago, but are still unable to throw aside limited materialistic ideas involved in their studies and enter boldly into the sphere of occult thought.

Read more: The Sun a Beating Heart

Learning from within

From a student

[The magazine Vidya , edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published the following article in its winter/spring 2015 issue; here slightly revised version]

Theosophy Learning from within 2

Abraham Lincoln said that education is the most important subject we as a people can be engaged in. ”Education” is related to the root educare, which means “to lead or draw forth”, or “to develop from a latent condition.” “Theosophy” comes from Theosophia (theos – god, Sophos – “wise”) and may be understood as “Divine Wisdom” or “Wisdom Religion.” What kind of education would be Theosophical? What is true learning?

Read more: Learning from within

In The Light Of Theosophy - Alcohol

[This article appeared in the April 2015 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: ]

Theosophy In the Light of Theosophy 2

What is it about alcohol which makes people reach out to it and over-indulge so as to lose any kind of logic or sanity? Liquor played a primary role in two tragedies that occurred recently – one being the case of drunken driving, and the other involved death of 102 people belonging to poor families in a slum area after consuming illicit liquor. Alcohol plays insidious tricks on human brain chemistry. Alcohol has paradoxical effects on the brain, as it works as both depressant and stimulant of the central nervous system. Drinking alcohol is considered a “pick-me-up” experience, as when alcohol is consumed in even small quantities it affects the areas involved in inhibiting behaviors, which can cause an increase in animation, in talkativeness, and greater sociability. Alcohol directly affects brain chemistry by altering levels of neurotransmitters emitted by brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that transmit the signals throughout the body, which control thought processes, behavior and emotion. For instance, alcohol suppresses the release of glutamate, an “excitatory” neurotransmitter, slowing down brain activity and energy levels. On the other hand, alcohol increases the “inhibitory” neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), which reduces energy and slows down your thought, speech and movement. Factors like how much and how fast a person drinks, and whether drugs such as marijuana have been taken will determine exactly how much brain activity slows down.

Read more: In The Light Of Theosophy - Alcohol

Impressions ITC 2015 Alice Bouwland


Impressions ITC 2015

Alice Bouwland – the Netherlands

See you next year in Santa Barbara!

Theosophy ITC 2 Alice Bouwland
Alice Bouwland is the lady with the wonderful smile on the right (front)

Dear reader: sit down in an easy chair, relax for a while, take a few deep breaths and then imagine.

It is summertime; the sun is shining while a gentle breeze is cooling the Dutch summer heat cheerfully. You arrive by train in a city called The Hague. You start walking and looking around. Within a mile or so you pass by highly interesting examples of modern architecture, houses of parliament, the future palace of the king, three or four museums with pictures of the Golden Age of the country, the famous Peace Palace and last but not least many cozy streets packed with cafes and terraces, restaurants, bookshops and especially art-shops. Imagine … this is real!

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Alice Bouwland

Impressions ITC 2015 Jim Colbert

Jim Colbert – USA

Report from a participant in the 2015 August Conference of ITC

Theosophy ITC 4 Jim Colbert
Jim Colbert (r) attentively listening to Joop Smits

It’s fun to watch the Dutch on their bicycles. They go very fast. Everybody, young, old, look like they know where they are going, and the best way to get there. I suppose this is true throughout Europe, but I was in the Netherlands for the International Theosophy Conference.

The setting was a hotel – the Carlton Ambassador Hotel, with meals, rooms, and meeting facilities. It was pleasant, efficient, and well organized. Although important for comfort, it was not the setting that made the trip. It was the incredible warmth, graciousness, and love coming from the Theosophists attending.

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Jim Colbert

Impressions ITC 2015 Carolyn Dorrance

Carolyn Dorrance – USA

Perspectives and Memories of the ITC Conference, 2015

Theosophy ITC 6 Carolyn Dorrance
Carolyn Dorrance, closely involved in organising ITC 2016 in Santa Barbara-California

If sitting quietly while listening to clear explanations of Theosophical teachings is a valued priority, then attending an ITC conference is a welcome experience. Such was the opportunity offered at this year’s ITC conference held in The Hague. Well organized and clearly focused on the theme of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky: ThroughDifferent Eyes with One Heart, the conference provided an authentic learning experience for students of Theosophy. Remarkable were the excellent synthetic talks that combined metaphysical foundations with practical obligations. Inspirational were the affirmations of the universality and boundless duration of the Theosophical movement. Inviting were the explorations of the occult dimensions of Theosophy. Hopeful were the talks on a vision of Theosophical ideas offering guidance for centuries to come. While unity was one important purpose of the conference, diversity was recognized. Representatives from the different “branches” of the mighty tree of the Theosophical teaching asked and responded to questions about how to study and teach Theosophy effectively now and into the future. One learned that unity among Theosophists was more obvious than diversity. The understanding of the mission of H.P.B. and what she taught was indeed shared.

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Carolyn Dorrance

Impressions ITC 2015 Olga Omlin

Olga Omlin – USA

ITC twice

Theosophy ITC 8 a Olga Omlin
Krotona resident Olga Omlin reads greetings from Joy Mills

After my first trip to The Hague back in December 2014 visiting the Blavatskyhouse (TS-Point Loma) I was excited to plan another trip there. However, this time the main reason was to attend the International Theosophy Conference in The Hague. It was also an honor to give a talk among so many friends-Theosophists from different Theosophical groups from all over the world.

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Olga Omlin

Impressions ITC 2015 Jacques Mahnich

Jacques Mahnich – France

Naarden, The Hague – Fostering the Theosophical Heritage Transmission

Theosophy ITC 10 Jacques Mahnich
Jacques Mahnich “on stage”

During the 19th century, two Buddhist masters in Tibet – Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892), and Jamgön Kongtrül Lodro Taye (1813-1899)– witnessing that the various ways to transmit the Buddha’s message by the main schools of Tibetan Buddhism was plagued with dissensions and sterile quarrels, and that some important teachings of the traditions were almost extinct, they decided to launch a movement to re-unify the various streams of Tibetan Buddhism. It is called the Ri-Me movement, which aim was and still is to filter out the core message of the Buddha from the historical traditions (Sakya, Kagyu, Nyingma). And it was quite a challenge, based on the deepness and complexity of the subject. But it succeeded, and this tradition is well alive today, bringing a fresh, non-sectarian vision of the Tibetan Buddhism Tradition.

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Jacques Mahnich

Impressions ITC 2015 Janet Lee


Janet Lee – England

ITC 2015

Theosophy ITC 12 Janet Lee
Janet Lee, who had just arrived from England brings greetings

It was great to be back at the ITC again, this time in The Hague at the Carlton Ambassador Hotel, in the diplomatic district, an apt and very comfortable choice. 

As before the whole event was excellently run by a raft of volunteers, who set a high standard of hospitality, care and service. I arrived late from our TS in England Summer School and was concerned that I might have missed out, but need not have worried, as I was given such a very warm welcome: picked up at Schiphol, steered to supper and then on to the first evening event, which was full of Theosophists whom I feel I can now call my friends. The next day, I gave belated greetings from the Theosophical Society in England, which has only in the past two years begun to come out of a few years of isolation to link up with the rest of the Theosophical world. 

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Janet Lee

Impressions ITC 2015 Sabine van Osta

Sabine van Osta – Belgium

An Impression

Theosophy ITC 14 Sabine van Osta
Sabine van Osta, making her point in The Hague

If you wish to catch a glimpse of the real size of the Theosophical Society, in terms of direct descendants of the movement started by H.P. Blavatsky, Col. Olcott, William Quan Judge and others in 1875, then participating in the annual meetings of International Theosophy Conferences is the thing for you.

The 2015 edition held in The Hague in August was brilliantly organised by the sisters and brothers of the ISIS Foundation, under the guidance of the Board of ITC which counts among its members the vice-presidents Jan Nicolaas Kind (TS-Adyar) and Herman C. Vermeulen (TS-Point Loma) and president Eugene Jennings (ULT).

Read more: Impressions ITC 2015 Sabine van Osta

Motive is Everything

Tim Boyd – USA

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Tim Boyd, International President TS-Adyar

In 1971 a man named Theodore Golas wrote a short book that went on to become an underground sensation. The setting for this phenomenon was in San Francisco just past the tumultuous peak of the 1960's. San Francisco had been a hub of activity throughout the decade and had developed into a little Mecca for the hippie and drug culture of the era. The contemporary mantras of “Peace and Love”, “Free Love”, and “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out” had attracted a population of young people pushing the boundaries of sexual and chemical norms. It was a mixed bag that included both intense darkness and light. By 1971 much of the social and cultural upheaval that characterized the period was waning, and many of the young people who had been such a driving force in the various powerful movements of the time were looking for sustainable avenues to channel their energies. Woodstock had come and gone. The Viet Nam war was winding down. The Civil Rights movement was losing focus. A cycle of prominent assassinations and bombings was ending. The flood of eastern holy men and women and gurus coming west was cresting. The promise of a chemically induced higher consciousness had degraded into addiction, broken lives, and legal repression. With so many currents of thought going on at the time, it would be difficult to identify a unifying theme. The buzzwords of the time were peace, equality, fairness, love, justice, and freedom.

Read more: Motive is Everything

A Living Wisdom

From a student

[The magazine Vidya , edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published the following article in its summer 2012 issue; here slightly revised.]

Theosophy A Living Wisdom 2

What might be the distinction between a doctrine and a dogma?

When we think of dogma, typically, we are thinking of belief. Inorganized religion, there is institutional requirement to make mental assent to a particular dogma or set of dogmas. One is under an obligation to say “I believe in that. I assent to that.” This affirmation, however, can sometimes be a recipe for a sort of spiritual schizophrenia. When we start assenting to things without thinking them through and testing them for ourselves, then we really do not know what we believe in. Theosophy takes an honest position in this regard. There is no place for blind belief. The doctrines are placed before the inquirer or the student to consider, think about and even perhaps revisit, without any obligation for believing in them by saying, “This is so” or for making any sort of mental assent.

Read more: A Living Wisdom

The Apostle Paul and Theosophy – Part one

Leslie Price – England

Second draft (November 5, 2012) of an October 24, 2012 talk to Camberley Theosophical Lodge.

Theosophy Apostle 2 Paul and Theosophy

Two thousand years ago, Europe and the Mediterranean world were ruled by the Roman Empire. Different provinces, cities and communities of the empire had varying rights and responsibilities. Those who followed the Jewish religion enjoyed some religious freedom, and a few even obtained Roman citizenship

There was a substantial Jewish community in Egypt and in modern Iraq, but the religious authorities around the Temple in Jerusalem were pre-eminent, and in their own sphere, they were backed by the Romans. But the development of the Way, a sect within Judaism which venerated a man crucified by the Romans as an agitator, was perceived a danger by the Jewish authorities. They took steps to suppress it, especially among the Greek-speaking Jews, who soon came to recognise the man Jesus as Lord and Saviour, as well as the Messiah or Christ.

Read more: The Apostle Paul and Theosophy – Part one

How to prove Theosophy?

H. P. Blavatsky and her successors

Barend Voorham and Herman C. Vermeulen – the Netherlands

Key thoughts:

  • Proof is conviction for the heart, mind and feelings.

  • You can be convinced by three causes: perception of truth, confidence and belief.

  • Start studying Theosophy by testing the principles.

  • Theosophy must be based on its intrinsic merits and not on the authority of the one who proclaims it.

  • In attempting to spread Theosophy H.P. Blavatsky, commissioned by the Masters, laid the cornerstone. After her death the Masters continued to support the work.

Theosophy is not a religion. And it’s certainly not a belief. All theosophical leaders emphatically and repeatedly stated that you should investigate Theosophy yourself. But how? And how do you know it is true? If you do not have to put blind faith in theosophical leaders, then what function do they perform?

How do you know that something is true? If it has been proven. But what is proof? Proof is information that shows something is definitely true. It is an external factor and gives decisive assurance of the correctness of something. It’s like a quizmaster who assesses the answer to a quiz question, right or wrong. And his judgment cannot be discussed. The reality, however, is different, because proof is always related to the individual consciousness of man. Gottfried de Purucker, fourth leader of the Theosophical Society (T.S.), describes it as “the bringing of conviction that a thing is true to the thoughtful mind.” And he adds, “if by the adduction of evidence the mind is not swayed into the belief that a thing is true, that thing has not been proved, even though it may be true.”(1)

Read more: How to prove Theosophy?

Human Regeneration – part seven

Radha Burnier – India

[Recognizing regeneration as the kernel of all Theosophical work, the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden, the Netherlands, jointly with the Federation of Theosophical Societies in Europe, organized two seminars in July 1990, with a number of office bearers, workers and members of the Society from different countries as participants. Proceedings of the seminar were published as a book under the title Human Regeneration: Lectures and Discussion (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij der Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland, 1990). This chapter is here slightly revised.]

Theosophy Human Regeneration part 7 RB 2
A younger Radha Burnier (on the right) with Clara Codd


We have been pondering the subject of regeneration for several days. We shall also obtain copies of talks, questions and answers. These will help us remember to give our attention to this subject for a long time to come. The ending of the seminar will not be the ending of the subject, because of its vital nature. Since we know how essential it is, we should not fall back into a routine approach.

Read more: Human Regeneration – part seven

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