Theosophy

The Things We Carry

Tim Boyd – USA

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Tim Boyd during the opening of the School of the Wisdom at Adyar in January 2016

Some time ago a friend of mine shared something wondrous with me. It was a paperweight. One of those clear plastic things that contain an object inside, something intended to be interesting or inspiring. I have one on my office desk now that contains a simple business card. The card reads “Clarence A. Jones Attorney and Counsellor at Law”, and has the downtown Los Angeles address of his office. To anyone but me it is plain and without meaning, fit merely to hold some papers in place. Of course for me, it is a different story. It was my grandfather's business card, and though he died shortly before I was born, it is rich in meaning. It is the profession and the address that convey something extraordinary to someone who knows. The key piece of missing information is that my grandfather was African American. He was the first black graduate to receive a law degree from Ohio State University and the first to do business at a downtown Los Angeles address – the one on his business card.

For most people today the significance of such accomplishments is lost on them. In today's world it is accepted as normal and natural that anyone should be able to study and work wherever they are qualified to do so. However through most of the 1900's this was not the case. Racial discrimination, de jure and de facto, were the norm for the nation. The level of sacrifice, strength of character and will that were required to make the simple information on that card a reality, speak to me across the generations. On some of my more demanding days I have found myself looking at the paperweight and the card inside and being reminded that my lot is not so tough. It is remarkable to me that the mere thought of someone who has accomplished great things brings perspective and strength - even a person I never met.

Read more: The Things We Carry

The seven Jewels of Wisdom – solutions to questions of life

Herman C. Vermeulen – the Netherlands

[This is a reprint from Lucifer – the Messenger of Light, an original publication of I.S.I.S. Foundation, i.e. International Study-centre for Independent Search for truth. The editor is grateful for the permission given to make this important paper available for all readers of Theosophy Forward.]

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Three and seven: one system

In this issue of Theosophy Forward we briefly present the seven Jewels of Wisdom. You can find traces of these teachings in the books of the world religions and great philosophical systems, as is shown in the last article of this issue. All Theosophical teachings can be traced back to these seven Jewels.

Theosophy stretches over all fields of human thought. However, it is based on only three fundamental propositions, given by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine. (See the next article.) These propositions can be elaborated in seven principal ideas, called the seven Jewels of Wisdom.

Read more: The seven Jewels of Wisdom – solutions to questions of life

Shirley Nicholson – A Tribute

We remember Shirley Nicholson, January 8, 1925 – November 5, 2013

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Theosophy SN A 2 INTRO
Shirley Nicholson

In previous issues of Theosophy Forward we honored some outstanding Theosophists such as: Dr. Richard Brooks, Ianthe Hoskins and Einar Adalsteinsson. In this issue we will remember yet another notable Theosophist and teacher, Shirley Nicholson. I do believe it is important to realize that, in order to know in which direction the vehicles of Theosophy are heading in the future, it is vital to also look backwards once in a while, and find inspiration in what others did during their lifetimes. Looking back, we are able to create a decent, better and prosperous Theosophical future!

Read more: Shirley Nicholson – A Tribute

Doctrine and Dogma

Shirley Nicholson – USA

THE ABSENCE OF DOGMA IN THEOSOPHY DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE IS NO DOCTRINE, OR THAT EVERY VIEWPOINT IS EQUALLY WELCOME ON THE PLATFORM OF THE SOCIETY

One of the most precious benefits of the Theosophical Society to many members is the freedom of thought it offers. Theosophy may be regarded as an open search for truth with no dogma, nothing that anyone is required to believe or adhere to other than allegiance to the principle of brotherhood. This freedom is rare. There are few religious or philosophical organizations in the world today that permit members such latitude of belief and exploration. This may be one of the most important reasons that the Society has survived and viable for over a hundred years. (Written in 1983, editor)

Most churches and religions hold dogmas which their adherents are expected to accept. For example, in recent decades the Catholic Church declared the Assumption of Mary as a new dogma. This means that Catholics must accept as fact that Mary’s physical body ascended into heaven. By contrast, the members of the Theosophical Society are not required to accept any of its teachings. They may or may not believe in the existence of the Masters or the continuity of life after death on inner planes or any other notion found in the literature. There is no dogma in the Society in the sense that its members may dispute, reject, or accept any of its teachings except for brotherhood.

Read more: Doctrine and Dogma

A Holistic View of Karma

Shirley Nicholson

[As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently, and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine.]

Karma, the concept of cause and effect from Eastern religions, has become widely known in the West, as it has always been in the Orient. The word has found its way into conversations among people at all levels of Western society and has even shown up in popular music. However, most people familiar with the idea think of it as shaping our personal lives, as “paying us back” for our actions, good and bad. This perhaps is the realm in which karma seems closest to us. Yet karma is a universal law inherent in the One and encompasses all of manifestation, all kingdoms of nature, from atoms to galaxies, from rocks to human beings. H.P.B. assures us that “every creature is subject to Karma”1 and “no spot in the manifested universe is exempt from its sway.”2

Read more: A Holistic View of Karma

Shamanism: An Expanded View of Reality

Shirley Nicholson – USA

Shamanism may conjure up images of magic and strange practices, perhaps associated with a kind of wildness. In the not-so-distant past shamans were called witch doctors and often thought of as evil or satanic. They were also sometimes considered as frauds, using trickery.

However, since Mircea Eliade published his extensive study of shamanism worldwide in 1964, shamanism has been looked on with more respect and as a subject worthy of scientific investigation. Eliade was a noted historian of religion for many years at the University of Chicago. In his seminal work Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, he documented common features of shamanism in diverse cultures from many geographical locations. He uncovered universal among shamanic practices and worldviews and showed that shamanism, far from being a local peculiarity, is a worldwide phenomenon, and that shamans have a necessary place in their societies.

Shamanism has also been a topic of considerable interest to Theosophists, and has many features in common with the Ancient Wisdom, or Theosophy.

Read more: Shamanism: An Expanded View of Reality

Who Am I? What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Shirley Nicholson – USA

Nasrudin, the wise fool of Sufi tales, went to the bank one day to cash a check, and the teller asked him to identify himself. He whipped a mirror out of his pocket, looked at himself, and said, “Yep, that’s me all right.”

We might whip out a driver’s license instead of a mirror, but our sense of who we are may go no deeper than Nasrudin’s. We seldom ask ourselves, who am I? What does it mean to be human?

KNOW THYSELF

Throughout our history we Westerners have attempted to know ourselves, as the Delphic oracle advised. In the Middle Ages, we developed a theory of “humors” supposed to determine our physical and psychological types. More recently some of us have explored the subconscious that Freud uncovered, full of our worst qualities, or the wider unconscious with heroic and wise potentials that Jung discovered, or even the transpersonal consciousness beyond our separate personal concerns that has been more recently probed in the West.

Read more: Who Am I? What Does It Mean To Be Human?

The Voice of the Silence 19 (verses 303 – 316)

John Algeo – USA

Theosophy The Voice 2 of the Silence
Profound Silence

The final verses of the book present a summary of what TheVoice of the Silence has been saying about the Two Paths and the Seven Portals — and the choice, the inescapable choice, that is each of ours to make. That choice is a question of what we value in life and of what we will dedicate our lives to. The last six verses evoke a sense of admiration at the achievement of a return from “the other shore” by one of us, of joy at the benefits that achievement will bring to all of us, and of wonder at the magnificent mystery of a new birth. The very last verse is a conventional ending for works of this sort. But is it just conventional? In fact, the four words of the last verse are the theme of the whole book.

Read more: The Voice of the Silence 19 (verses 303 – 316)

Theosophy in the World Today

John Vorstermans – New Zealand

Theosophy THEOSOPHY 2 in the World Today
Our world today

Theosophy is not new to the world. Some say there have always been those amongst us seeking the divine wisdom or theosophia. However history shows that the term Theosophy was used as far back as the third century by Ammonius Saccas and Plotinus who founded the Alexandrian school of Neoplatonism. The modern-day Theosophical Society was founded in 1875. Its declared three objects are:

1. To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour.

2. To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science.

3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity.

The Society presents for consideration ideas, distilled from the study and experience gained from exploring these objects over the last 140 years. Some of these ideas came from the founders of today’s Theosophical Society, while others are based on a study of the Sacred Texts of the world, from modern science and philosophy. The Theosophical Society does not require its members to accept all or indeed any Theosophical teachings. The motto of the Society is “There is no religion higher than Truth.” The term “religion” in that motto refers not only to churches, but to any system of belief or ideas – including the Society’s own statements on Theosophy.

Read more: Theosophy in the World Today

The Power of a Worldview

Dorothy Bell – Australia

Theosophy The Power 2 of a Worldview Dorothy Bell
The author

We enter this life by the gateway of birth and after spending about 70 years on this planet under all kinds of circumstances we disappear by the gateway of death. This procession of living beings has been going on for thousands of years and yet it does not occur to many people to ask the very pertinent questions as to where we have come from, where we are going, and why we are here.”

I.K. Taimni, The Theosophist, The Light of Buddhi, Vol. 125.5, p187

These types of pertinent questions are basic to the human quest to make sense of the world we live in – and this relates to having a worldview. In this introductory article, exploration of the following questions will plough some ground on the nature, origins, importance and power of worldviews.

  • What is a worldview? Where do worldviews originate?

  • What are some key elements in their make-up?

  • How can your worldview be expressed as a snapshot?

  • What does a worldview ‘snapshot’ based on Theosophy look like?

  • How do you measure the worth of a worldview?

    Read more: The Power of a Worldview

Human Regeneration – part ten

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.]

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Radha Burnier at her best, addressing the 135
th annual International Convention in December 2010

DISCUSSIONS

Krishnamurti abolished all organizations. Some theosophists seem to think that the T.S. is 'the' instrument for the Hierarchy. Others say - and it seems there is more truth in this statement - that theosophy is higher than the T.S. How long will the T.S. remain important, supposing it is important?

RB: Krishnamurti did not abolish all organizations; there are innumerable organizations in the world. The T.S. will remain important as long as we do the right kind of work. It depends on what we do and what future generations of members will do. HPB said in The Key to Theosophy that the future of the T.S. will depend entirely upon the degree of selflessness, earnestness, and devotion of the members, and last but not least, on the amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those members on whom it will fall to carry on the work. We may not have wisdom, but at least we must be seekers for the wisdom. The T.S. will be important if it consists of selfless people who are seeking wisdom in order that the world may be better, not for their own satisfaction. The search for wisdom must not be a new form of egotism. If the I.S. really consists of altruistic seekers for wisdom, it surely will remain important. If we make it into something trivial – a social club, an academic institution etc. – then it will cease to fulfil its purpose. H. P. B. said that unless we ensure there is a living wisdom in it, the T.S. will become like a corpse which will be washed ashore somewhere. And there will be no living wisdom, if we do not try to discover the truth of life, translate it into our lives, and try to share with others new points of view. In other words, if the T.S. is an instrument for bringing about regeneration, a new human mind, it will remain important. But if it becomes a new sect, a body of people addicted to their own theories, it may survive outwardly, but it will be a lifeless thing.

Read more: Human Regeneration – part ten

God as a circle

From a student

[The magazine Vidya http://www.theosophysb.org/site/publications.html , edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published the following article in its autumn 2015 issue; here slightly revised version.]

Theosophy God as a circle 2
“Symbols of divine truth were not created for the amusement of the ignorant; they are the alpha and omega of philosophic thought.”

H. P. Blavatsky (CW, Volume IX, p. 266)

In what sense can we speak of an image of God? Theosophical teachings are very clear on this point. To describe and formulate, even to name, is to put limits on the limitless, to ascribe attributes to the attribute-less. How can that which is Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Infinite be given an image, a form, a name? To finite consciousness, we are told, the highest Deity-the Absolute-is the negation of thought. In Genesis it is most aptly described as “the Darkness on the face of the Deep,” in Mahayana Buddhism it is sunyata, “the Void” or Nothingness, in the Tao Te Ching, it is “the Tao which has no name.”

Read more: God as a circle

Esoteric Astrology and the Purpose of the Soul

Gary Kidgell – Scotland

The teachings of Ancient Wisdom are comprised of a vast body of timeless spiritual truths which underlie the tenets of the major religions of our world together with the various esoteric practises that have been devised by humanity throughout the ages. At the core of the wisdom teachings is the descent of spirit into matter and its subsequent return to source.

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Image from ‘The Inner Journey: Pathways to the Higher Self’ by Gary Kidgell, Llandysul, Claregate 2015

A recent expression of the Ancient Wisdom occurred in the latter part of the 19th, and into the 20th Century. This occurred through the work of H. P. Blavatsky and various offshoots of the Theosophical Society, of which she was a co-founder. These works inform us that, in essence, we are indivisible sparks of a divine flame referred to as monads and that we are engaged upon a lengthy evolutionary journey for the purpose of developing and expressing hitherto latent spiritual qualities. Due to the purity of its vibration the monad is unable to descend downwards into the planes of consciousness below its own level of being. It therefore adopts structures or mechanisms for the purpose of facilitating its long evolutionary sojourn.

Read more: Esoteric Astrology and the Purpose of the Soul

A Few Thoughts: Ideas, Action and Influences

David Grossman – USA

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The author

It has been said that “Philosophies do nothing, only people do”. Yet that may not be quite true if we take into consideration the statement attributed to Plato that “Ideas rule the world.” So putting ideas out there is actually doing something. This was the work of H.P.B. She once said she was plagued to writing. And what a plague it was. Not since Plato had anyone brought forth a comprehensive expression of what we often call “The Ancient Wisdom Tradition” or “The Perennial Philosophy” that takes into consideration the Spiritual, Psychic (or intellectual) and the physical sides of life as well as science, philosophy and religion and shows how they are “interwoven and inter-blended at every point”.Where does this knowledge come from? H. P. B says from an unbroken lineage of great teachers of mankind. They have always been on the scene. She refers to them as the Theosophical Adepts and that she was commissioned, so to speak, to re-present the core principles and teachings into this transitional age.

Read more: A Few Thoughts: Ideas, Action and Influences

An important subject

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

Theosophy An important subject 2  Boris de Zirkoff
Volume XVI

No. 4 (82) - Spring 1960

[Original Cover photo: Dr. Henry Travers Edge, 1867-1946]

There is a subject of thought pertaining to the world of today which should be of primary importance to the student of Theosophy. It should be widely discussed in Theosophical gatherings as well as on the printed page of Theosophical journals. For some reason or other, however, it is rarely brought up, and when it is, receives but scant attention, while in some places it is obviously ignored and, if possible, hushed up.

This subject concerns the unpleasant fact that the era of fantastic scientific achievement along material lines, of enormously increased economic well-being in some nations, and of the highest known “standard of living,” to use a well-known slogan, coincides with the greatest downfall of ethical standards, the most entrenched selfishness, and the most widespread corruption from one end of the globe to another. How is this to be explained?

Read more: An important subject

In the Light of Theosophy – Tolerance and Intolerance

 

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[This article appeared in the January 2016 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this ink: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html  ]

In the past few months, a lot has been said, written and tweeted about rising intolerance in India and the world. Inhuman, barbaric and violent incidents are on the rise. On the one hand, we see better standards of living, material comforts and technological advancement in our civilization. But on the other, we witness weakening human bonds, mistrust and intolerance escalating rapidly. Conflicts and wars, all over the world, are triggered by religious, cultural, linguistic, ideological and political divides. Why are we as humans becoming more and more intolerant? Is it wired in our psyche to hate and hurt each other because someone has different faith, color, belief system and lifestyle? Incidents of intolerance are commonplace. People seem to lose their temper and become violent for trifling reasons such as, someone bumping into their vehicle or parking in their reserved space. Incidents of aggression, such as parents threatening teachers, patients assaulting doctors, commuters beating up the staff at toll gates, etc., are becoming increasingly common. More than the legal or political intervention, what is needed is the change in the mindset of leaders and the masses, which can be brought about by educating people about co-creating a culture of respect, tolerance and peace.

Read more: In the Light of Theosophy – Tolerance and Intolerance

The Untold Story

Tim Boyd – USA

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The author with daughter Angelique (l) and wife Lily

I had an uncle, my favorite uncle, who died several years ago. Uncle John was a remarkable man in terms of his accomplishments in life, but more so because of his generosity of spirit and truly unconventional ways of thinking. As a student he worked long hours in very difficult circumstances to put himself through college and then medical school. In his fifties he decided that family practice was no longer satisfying, went back to school for three years and became what he had always been in his heart of hearts – a psychiatrist. He was the uncle that would take us fishing, show us how to build a bicycle, and tell us stories about his life and the things he had seen. After years of hearing his array of stories it got to the point that once a story started I knew where it was going. I had heard it all before, multiple times. What amazed me was how each time he told a familiar tale, how fresh it would be for him, as if it was the first time these words had crossed his lips. For my brothers, cousins, and me, we could almost mouth the words - “this may be your fishing line, but it's my ocean”, when recounting an angry fellow fisherman's remarks about whose fish was at the end of their tangled lines; “pumping out oil and pumping in sea water has to affect the fault”, spoken each time we passed the oil rigs near a break in the earth where the San Andreas fault surfaced on the way to Los Angeles airport.

Read more: The Untold Story

Einar Adalsteinsson – A Tribute

We remember Einar Adalsteinsson, June 19, 1941 – July 9, 1998

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Theosophy Einar Adalsteinsson 2
Einar Adalsteinsson

In the previous two issues of Theosophy Forward we honored two outstanding Theosophists: Dr. Richard Brooks and Ianthe Hoskins. Must thank all those who wrote to me in appreciation. In this issue we will remember another fine Theosophist, Einar Adalsteinsson, who came from a unique part of the world: Iceland.

Read more: Einar Adalsteinsson – A Tribute

Loving Kindness in Practice

Einar Adalsteinsson – Iceland

There is no loving kindness implicit in reading about it; it is rather an act of communion, a mutual communication. This is why I have to ask for your help, dear reader. You may discard everything I say, but first let the words and ideas trickle through your mind like a still rain, or pass through your consciousness like a gentle breeze in a cornfield. Let the ‘stillness of nature’ reign in the inner realms, unaffected by my words and ideas. Make this a meditation.

Loving kindness is a state of mind, yet nowise permanent, invariable. It is a flowing-fresh, new powerful stream. We can feel this stream inside us when we are in the right mood, glad, pure, and when everything is well. It is therefore more like an absence of inner and outer struggle, rather than something to acquire. It is really always there.

Read more: Loving Kindness in Practice

Mystic Unification of Mind and Action

Einar Adalsteinsson – Iceland

What does unification of mind and action imply? Does it mean that we should be mindful in our actions - careful, cautious and thoughtful? Or does it imply spontaneity, action from the heart, action free from thought? Unification means that there is no distance, no separation, no afterthought, no preconception, no reaction, no resistance. How is it possible to act in such directness? It begins with insight, a moment of profound liberating understanding, bringing with it a fragrance of joyous feeling. You do not know how or whence it came. It may go, it may stay, it may melt slowly away, or it may take over your whole being in a profound state of equanimity, tranquility, harmony, silence and unity, an all-empowering oneness of All-Being.

Read more: Mystic Unification of Mind and Action

The Mystical Approach

Einar Adalsteinsson – Iceland

There is an experience which we read of in prose and religious texts of every culture and time. This is the experience of oneness, the mystical experience in its vast variety. It is a special state of consciousness, where thought has totally ended and there remains only the silence of absolute peace in the mind. People fall into this state of mind, sometimes without noticing how or why. There is suddenly an overwhelming silence and the person stands thunderstruck against this totally new experience, for it is always new and fresh, even if he or she has experienced it more than once.

Common descriptions might be something like these: I was one with everything there is. I was the world and the world became I. My separation from the world disintegrated and instead there was love and oneness, impersonal, all encompassing. Hate was unthinkable and all my problems vanished into thin air. Everything was good. Or, The world was as it had always been, nothing had changed except that the "I" had ceased to be, had blended into everything else. Such descriptions are taken from ordinary people telling how they experienced their world when this special state of mind prevailed. This has been called 1-less-ness.

It is a state that is without problems and therefore rather comforting and desirable. You feel that you are nothing but the whole of existence, regardless of whether you look to the stars or think of your neighbor. Everyone is a brother, whether he be rich or poor, good or bad, friend or enemy in ordinary terms.

Read more: The Mystical Approach

The Courage of Commitment

Joy Mills – USA

Theosophy Joy Mills 2  by Cynthia Overweg
Joy Mills

Custom and habit may lead us into patterns of thought and action which, by their very repetition, seem to be lacking in freshness and spontaneity. Precisely because the theosophical philosophy presents us with a panoramic view of life, with great ideas whose grandeur dwarfs our normal petty concerns, we may often feel inclined to retreat into the security of a philosophical cave of speculation rather than confront the actualities of existence in terms of a positive commitment to action. To what extent can we become committed? Is there a manner in which we can act so spontaneously that action, arising out of an inner commitment to principle, meets the need of the moment with a freshness appropriate to that need? These, surely, are questions which call for serious consideration by the theosophical server. As members and friends of the Theosophical Society we are challenged to engage in a dialogue with the world, but for such a dialogue to be effective we must probe the nature of our own commitment.

Read more: The Courage of Commitment

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