Theosophy

A Search for Universality

Boris de Zirkoff - USA 

Theosophy BdZ 2

[Original cover Open-Air Greek Theatre, Point Loma, California.]

The essential key-note of the Theosophical Movement throughout all ages has been its Universality. By the very nature of its message, its objectives, and its ideals, it can never be confined to any single group of human beings, to any single ethnic grouping of humanity, or any single department of human thought and endeavor. Everything that is genuinely Theosophical, is unconditionally universal in meaning and application, in theory and practice. Conversely, anything that is in the least dogmatic, intolerant, sectarian and constricted, can never be genuinely Theosophical, no matter what may be the painted lapel, or the honeyed words, under which it is offered and presented.

Read more: A Search for Universality

How to Study Theosophy - 1

 Kenneth Small -- USA 

Theosophy KS 2 The Art of Studying Theosophy com mold

Insights and Cautionary Guidance from the Esoteric Teachings of Gottfried de Purucker

When Gottfried de Purucker became the Leader of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) in 1929, he immediately set in motion changes to the society’s constitution; he renamed Katherine Tingley’s ‘Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society’ to ‘The Theosophical Society, Point Loma’, eliminated or reduced autocratic elements in the constitution and set out on his mission to give emphasis on the study of the core teachings within Blavatsky’s view of theosophy in her “Secret Doctrine” interlinked with the ethical teachings from The Voice of the Silence. Purucker’s expansive knowledge of Theosophy, infused by his classical knowledge of Sanskrit, Greek, Latin and Hebrew, emphasis on ethics, Mahayana Buddhism, the symbolic essence of teachings from inner Christianity, created within the PLTS a spiritual/intellectual renaissance during his brief 13 years of teaching. Retrospectively, Theosophical students today (2022) have on occasion over looked Purucker’s view and approach to the study and understanding of these Teachings. This has produced some tendency to even dogmatize or codify these teachings as THE truth. In the notes that follow, I will outline, with a few examples, Purucker’s universal VIEW and his cautionary comments on the need to move beyond crystallized thinking in our approach to the study of the Ancient Wisdom.

Read more: How to Study Theosophy - 1

The Golden Thread – Part two

Sri Raghavan Iyer – USA

Theosophy SRI b The Wisdom Golden Thread

The Wisdom-Religion is everywhere, it assumes strange and manifold guises, but it is always sacrificial. Self-reliance is not to be thrown at others like a weapon, but rather, to be gently exemplified through love. Appeals to lesser authorities are mutually destructive, cancelled by the boundless authority of the universe, with which every man is directly linked without need of intermediary. Every man has his own access to God, as was known by the Puritans who spoke of the civil war within the breast of every human being. When we think of the very idea of God, we know that we have to negate and negate. We must negate until we begin to recognize the relevance of No-thing to everything. To see this in nature with the mind's eye takes time, but once seen, it is the Golden Thread. It shows itself in human affairs as partial representations of the mighty workings of the great wheel of the Law, which is no protector of the illusions of classes, groups, or nations, but which, as the Founding Fathers of the American Republic sensed, can ultimately be understood by all.

Read more: The Golden Thread – Part two

On Being Human

Ananya Sri Ram Rajan – USA

Theosophy ASR b lotus flower that symbolise peace

Ignore what they are thinking of you because they are not thinking of you.

                                                                                                --Unknown

Scott Barry Kaufman (www.scottbarrykaufman.com ) is a Humanistic psychologist whose research on Abraham Maslow led him to write Transcendence: The Science of Self-Actualization. For those unfamiliar with Humanistic psychology, the field approaches the individual as a “whole person” rather than from just a cognitive or behaviorist perspective. It adopts the belief in self-exploration, human potential, and acknowledges spiritual aspiration as a part of the human psyche. One could say Transpersonal psychology emerged from the Humanistic field.

Read more: On Being Human

The Noble Eightfold Path - 4

Theosophy Bard b meditation buddha sculpture statue

No doubt, these are very difficult times. Many of us are terribly confused, in pain and disappointed, realizing that our world is at present enduring a dangerous and downward spiral. There is no “easy” fix for what we are confronted with. As your editor I have tried to offer a way of looking at our situation based on what old teachings point to. As theosophists we are familiar with Buddha’s (Noble) Eightfold Path, a clear and concise guideline to lead us from darkness into the Light. I guess that as a nucleus we ought to do everything to stick together, embracing our bonds, whilst radiating love and compassion for all that lives. [JNK]

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The Eightfold Path of Buddhism is the means by which enlightenment may be realized. The historical Buddha first explained the Eightfold Path in his first sermon after his enlightenment.

Most of the Buddha's teachings deal with some part of the Path. You might think of it as an outline that pulls together all the Buddha's teachings.

Read more: The Noble Eightfold Path - 4

The Noble Eightfold Path - 3

 Theosophy CJ b

[From the Buddhist Dharma Chakra Pravarttana Sutra; circa B.C. 300.]

Translation by Charles Johnston, Oriental Department Papers, October, 1895

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I.

There are two extremes, Brothers, that he who has renounced should shun.

On the one side, the constant following after things that appeal to lust and sensuality,—a low, bestial way, unworthy, unprofitable, fit only for the profane;

And, on the other side, the constant following after penance that is painful, unworthy, unprofitable.

There is a middle path, Brothers, that shuns these two extremes; a path found out by him who has come as others came before; a path that opens the eyes and gives understanding; a path that brings restfulness of mind, supreme wisdom, full enlightenment, Nirvana.

What then is this middle path, Brothers, that shuns these two extremes; the path found out by him who has come as others came before; the path that opens the eyes and gives understanding; the path that brings restfulness of mind, supreme wisdom, full enlightenment, Nirvana?

It is, verily, the Noble Eightfold Path; it is this:

Right seeing, right willing, right speaking, right behaving, right living, right striving, right concentrating, right meditating.

This is the middle path, Brothers, that shuns the two extremes; the path found out by him who has come as others came before; the path that opens the eyes and gives understanding; the path that brings restfulness of mind, supreme wisdom full enlightenment, Nirvana.

This, Brothers, is the noble truth about sorrow:

Birth is full of sorrow, decay is full of sorrow, sickness is full of sorrow, death is full of sorrow.

Contact with the pleasant is full of sorrow, separation from the unpleasant is full of sorrow, unsatisfied longing is full of sorrow. In a word the five groups of grasping are full of sorrow.

This, Brothers, is the noble truth about sorrow.

And this, Brothers, is the noble truths about the cause of sorrow:

It is, verily, the thirst that causes outward existence, accompanied by sensual enjoyment, seeking gratification now here, now there; it is the thirst for the gratification of desire, the thirst for outward existence, the thirst for present existence.

This, Brothers, is the noble truth about the cause of sorrow.

And this, Brothers, is the noble truth about the ceasing of sorrow:

It is, verily, the destroying, without any remnant of lust, of that same thirst; the putting away of, the getting rid of, the being free from, the ceasing to entertain this thirst.

This, Brothers, is the noble truth about the ceasing of sorrow.

And this, Brothers, is the noble truth about the path that leads to the ceasing of sorrow. It is, verily, the Noble Eightfold Path; it is this:

Right seeing, right willing, right speaking, right behaving, right living, right striving, right concentrating, right meditating.

This, Brothers, is the noble truth about the destroying of sorrow.

Read more: The Noble Eightfold Path - 3

The Noble Eightfold Path – 2

Charles Webster Leadbeater

Theosophy CWL b

[A lecture delivered through an interpreter to the Burmese Ladies at Moulmein, Burma (now Myanmar), in March,1914.]

You ask me to tell you the way to Nirvana; the way to Nirvana is to follow the teachings of our Lord Buddha. It is not enough only to talk about following the Precepts, it is not enough to go to the Temples, to take Pancha Sila and offer flowers. The great thing is to live your lives as the Lord Buddha wished you to live. He has given certain Precepts which we are to follow. Each morning many Buddhists repeat those Precepts, but often they immediately forget all about them, and do not think about them until next morning. That is useless, because the Lord Buddha when He gave these Precepts meant people to carry them out day by day. He gave you, for example, the Noble Eightfold Path. Now I suppose every one of you has heard from childhood all about the Noble Eightfold Path. You may repeat its steps in a moment, but the question is not to be able to repeat them, but to carry them out; because, unless you carry them out, they are useless to you. You know the first Step in that Noble Eightfold Path is Right Belief. Now what are the things that we ought to believe and those that we ought not to believe? The first thing is to believe in the Law of Karma. That is, that whatever you do brings corresponding results. If you do good things, good will come; if you do bad things, evil will come. We should all say that that was so, if anyone asked us, but the question is, do you live all the time as though it were true?  Sometimes people say they believe things, but they do not behave accordingly. In such cases their belief is only form. There are some things you do believe. You believe fire will burn you, so you are careful not to put your hand in the fire, lest it might get hurt. You know that if you fall from a height your arms or legs may be broken, so you are careful in walking up a dangerously steep hill. Also if you believe that for every evil thought or word or act, evil will come to you, you will be careful. But if you say that you believe in that, and still sometimes speak evil of another person, then you do not believe that really.

Read more: The Noble Eightfold Path – 2

The Noble Eightfold Path - 1

Annie Besant

Theosophy AB 2 Las figuras de buda y el budismo large

[A lecture delivered at the Ananda College, Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1907] 

Twenty-three hundred years have passed since the great Buddhist Emperor, Ashoka, sent to the Island of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) his son and his daughter, to plant in this island not only the material slip from the sacred tree of Buddha Gaya, but also to plant here a slip of that Tree of Wisdom which, since that day, has spread abroad over the island, as it has spread far over the nations, over the world - that Tree of Wisdom which you call the faith of the Buddha. We are to take this afternoon one of His great teachings for our study. You remember how, when He had left His father's house, when He had left His wife and His infant son, when He had sought, by the help of instructors in the jungle, to win His way to life, when He had sought by asceticism to find the path which others had failed to teach Him, that He finally, sitting under that famous tree, having conquered every temptation, having thrown back all the illusions of Mara, when at last illumination reached Him, when He had entered into perfect knowledge - then He saw, for the first time in this life - the Four Noble Truths: sorrow, its roots, the cessation of sorrow, the path out of it - the Noble Eightfold Path. And it is that Noble Eightfold Path to which I ask your attention this afternoon.

Read more: The Noble Eightfold Path - 1

In the Light of Theosophy – Expectations

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This article appeared in the June 202w issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: https://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html 

We have expectations from others, ourselves and the world at large. When we have expectations not based on facts or analysis, then we are in for disappointment. “We live in a largely uncertain world, consequently this desire for certainty often sets us up for disappointment and pain. While some things might be in our control, many are not,” writes Marguerite Theophil. An old man used to sit outside the gates of a palace. One winter day the king noticed him shivering and promised to arrange for a warm coat and blanket to be sent out immediately. However, the king had to attend to some urgent business and could not keep his promise. The next day, the old man was found dead with a note that read: “For all these years I shivered and yet survived, but the expectation of warm clothes makes the cold unbearable, and will be the death of me.”

Read more: In the Light of Theosophy – Expectations

The Golden Thread – Part one

Sri Raghavan Iyer – USA

Theosophy SRI b

The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 in New York with three objects, the first of which was the formation of a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. The second object was the comparative study of religions, sciences and philosophies, ancient and modern, so that all men and women, including Americans, might come to salute every true witness in a long, largely unknown but unbroken history of accumulated wisdom. Isis Unveiled taught the perennial philosophy (Philosophia Perennis) and invited its true students to find Ariadne's thread, a golden thread hidden behind the veil of form and symbol, in every great tradition of thought, philosophy, religious aspiration and myth. It is the very basis of real science, and it is the forgotten inspiration behind the founding of the Royal Society as well as much of the significant work of men like Edison, a Fellow of the Theosophical Society, and some other scientists influenced by the wisdom of The Secret Doctrine.

Read more: The Golden Thread – Part one

Seek Out the Way: Experiential Reflections on the Inner Life

Juliana Cesano – USA

Theosophy JC 2 Juliana Cesano

Juliana Cesano 

I would like to reflect on the intrinsic and dynamic connection between challenge and the inner life, and how these two aspects play a major part in what we sometimes call “inner awakening”, or “inner unfoldment”.

Challenges are normally seen as circumstances that come to us from the outside, an external force in the shape of an event that presents itself in our lives. But if we look closer, and especially if we look back into the moments in which we were challenged, we may be able to see that those challenges were not random, and instead, they were aligned with the next step we needed to take. There was something inside of us, still very tender, very new, sometimes not even conscious, that needed a catalyst to unfold, and as the experience or challenge arises, if we take it fully, without reservations, that part of us that was incipient and somewhat ready pushes through and finds expression.

Read more: Seek Out the Way: Experiential Reflections on the Inner Life

Living In Kali Yuga

David M. Grossman – USA

Theosophy DMG b

                                                                                     “It is better to light a single candle than curse the darkness."                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                          Old Proverb 

When our main view of human history only takes us back four or five thousand years, and here in the west it all fades away prior to the Greeks for the most part; it becomes difficult to entertain concepts of human cycles of development that could span hundreds of thousands more less millions of years. When we consider that relatively recently, a few centuries back, the world’s continents and countries for all practical purposes were like separate planets, the present situation is actually a very recent phenomenon. There was very little communication between countries and even regions within a single country; and for the “average person” working in mainly agrarian societies the main occupations were growing food, building shelters and most people never traveled much beyond a few miles from where they were born. If you add to that the fact that literacy for the majority is a relatively recent milestone it becomes apparent that there was not really a great deal of meaningful communication in the world.

Read more: Living In Kali Yuga

Who can change the World?

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy BH b 222

The challenges we face in our world today seem almost impossible to overcome. We often look to our leaders—religious, political, and spiritual—to make a difference, but it doesn’t happen. Instead of looking outside of ourselves to make change happen, it is time to start looking within. Each of us has the power—as well as the responsibility—to change the world. We cannot wait for others to step up...each one of us needs to take matters into our own hands.

Read more: Who can change the World?

Freeing the Mind: Why Philosophy Is Important

Cary Gardner – USA

Theosophy Freeing b \

A beautifully and carefully designed "spiritual".garden

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It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods

                                                                                                                                              Quote Margaret Fuller

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them

                                                                                                                                      Quote Henry David Thoreau

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Freeing the mind.

There is a wonderful scene in The Matrix film when Morpheus, a teacher of secrets, is taking Neo out for one of his first training programs after being painfully liberated from the illusion of the “Matrix”. They have entered the “Jump Program” and find themselves standing on top of a high-rise building. Morpheus turns to Neo and poses this challenge, “Free your mind”, and then proceeds to leap impossibly several hundred yards to the nearest building, suggesting that Neo follow behind. Neo’s response: “Whoa.”

Philosophy rightly understood is about freeing the mind. It is about the “clarification of ideas and the removal of muddles”. Before we can grasp how we can free the mind, it is imperative to first understand how the mind is manacled in the first place. We are, all too often, strangely unaware of what ideas are coloring our perceptions. Like a set of colored glasses, our perceptions are all tinged with blue or red or green, depending upon the lens. These ideas we hold to be true are often adopted without inspection or evaluation.

Read more: Freeing the Mind: Why Philosophy Is Important

I can’t get my head around it

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Theosophy OD 2

Olga ...

Olga is my youngest student. She lives in Resende-Brazil, is a brilliant young world citizen of 16, plays the piano, loves The Beatles, Lennon’s  “In My Life” is her favorite, wants to become a pediatrician, is full of positive energy and has a fair idea  of what is going on in the world.

During one of our conversation sessions she mentioned that she just couldn’t get her head around the fact that old men, safely sitting behind desks or very long tables, mobilize young men, forcing them to fight their bizarre wars out on the battle fields.  “It doesn’t make any sense to me” she said, “it is utterly ridiculous, awful  and unfair”.

Read more: I can’t get my head around it

Small Acts with Great Love

Tim Boyd –  USA, India

Envisioneers Tim 2

Tim Boyd, a passionate speaker, a profilic and profound author 

It is an understatement to say that we find ourselves living in challenging times. Right now any direction we look, there seems to be some looming crisis. In H. P. Blavatsky’s “The Golden Stairs” the person who aspires to wisdom is charged with “a valiant defense of those who are unjustly attacked”. But where do we begin with those who are unjustly attacked? Certainly there are human conditions of unjust attacks, person to person, nation against nation, but there is also the natural world, which is under an unrelenting and unjustifiable attack from humanity as a whole.

In these moments, not just within the Theosophical Society (TS), but in the world, it seems that many people are reaching out for some spiritual grounding — a sense of something more real than the turmoil they are experiencing. While there is such a thing as genuine spirituality, from my point of view an untested spirituality is somehow not real.

Read more: Small Acts with Great Love

Youth can di it

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

THEOSOPHIA
A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume X
No. 2 (56) - Fall 1953

Theosophy BDZ 2 10 02

[Original over photo: In the heart of the Redwoods, Northern California.]

Universal Life, in all its multimyriad forms and aspects, is in constant flux. Unalterable in its underlying essence, it is in perpetual outward change. As soon as any one of its temporary manifestations becomes rigid, decay sets in, which is but another aspect of Life, breaking up the outworn form, in order to build a new and more adequate one.

Wherever there is flexibility, optimism, dynamic interest, vision, the search for the Unknown, the urge to grow and to become, the enthusiasm which scales new heights and attempts the seemingly impossible - there is youth and hope and the broad highway 'o all future yet unborn.

Read more: Youth can di it

Theosophy Generally Stated

William Quan Judge – USA

Theosophy WQJ b

William Quan Judge

The claim is made that an impartial study of history, religion and literature will show the existence from ancient times of a great body of philosophical, scientific and ethical doctrine forming the basis and origin of all similar thought in modern systems. It is at once religious and scientific, asserting that religion and science should never be separated. It puts forward sublime religious and ideal teachings, but at the same time shows that all of it can be demonstrated to reason, and that authority other than that has no place, thus preventing the hypocrisy which arises from asserting dogmas on authority which no one can show as resting on reason. This ancient body of doctrine is known as the "Wisdom Religion" and was always taught by adepts or initiates therein who preserve it through all time. Hence, and from other doctrines demonstrated, it is shown that man, being spirit and immortal, is able to perpetuate his real life and consciousness, and has done so during all time in the persons of those higher flowers of the human race who are members of an ancient and high brotherhood who concern themselves with the soul development of man, held by them to include every process of evolution on all planes. The initiates, being bound by the law of evolution, must work with humanity as its development permits. Therefore from time to time they give out again and again the same doctrine which from time to time grows obscured in various nations and places. This is the wisdom religion, and they are the keepers of it. At times they come to nations as great teachers and "saviours," who only re-promulgate the old truths and system of ethics. This therefore holds that humanity is capable of infinite perfection both in time and quality, the saviours and adepts being held up as examples of that possibility.

Read more: Theosophy Generally Stated

The Culture of Music From a Theosophical Standpoint

Anonymous

Theosophy The 2 music head converted

The object of this article is to show what light may be thrown from a Theosophical point of view upon the nature of music, its function, and the cultivation of the art. Theosophy illuminates all subjects upon which it sheds its light, and supplies the missing links so often needed to fill the gaps in the chain of our thoughts.

The nature, function, and influence of music have always been mysterious and hard to define. Both in its ultimate source and in the quality of its appeal, it pertains to a sphere of conscious existence that is not directly related to the reasoning brain. The creation of music is inspired by a faculty beyond the ordinary course, and its influence appeals to an equally recondite power of appreciation.

Read more: The Culture of Music From a Theosophical Standpoint

What happens when we die? (In the Light of Theosophy)

Theosophy ILO b

This article appeared in the March 2022 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:  https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html

Scientific data suggests that life may actually flash before our eyes as we die. A team of doctors, based in Vancouver, Canada, were measuring the brainwaves of an 87-year-old patient who had developed epilepsy. He suffered a fatal heart attack during this neurological recording, revealing that in the thirty seconds before and after death, the brainwaves in the dying brain show the same pattern as seen when a person is dreaming or recalling memories, or concentrating. In other words, such pattern of the brainwaves was seen in the thirty seconds before the patient’s heart stopped supplying blood to the brain and continued thirty seconds after the patient’s heart stopped beating, when normally he is declared dead, says Dr. Ajmal Zemmer, who is now a neurosurgeon at the University of Louisville.

Read more: What happens when we die? (In the Light of Theosophy)

Our Work

Tim Boyd – USA, India

 

Theosophy TB b 

Tim Boyd

Many years ago in the United States I participated in one of the very large ceremonies that the Dalai Lama does, the Kalachakra. Around 10,000 people attended. When he would perform this ceremony in Asia more than 100,000 people gathered. In talking to some of the monks who were involved, they said that although everybody would receive something of value, the entire ceremony was intended for that one person who would fully get it, for whom this moment was the moment of awakening. From the Dalai Lama’s perspective, this was the whole point of the ceremony.

Read more: Our Work

The Sacrifice We Need to Make

Ananya Sri Ram – USA

Theosophy AR b

In 2006, I started research on the history of the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS) to publish a commemorative issue for the TOS in the USA. One area that interested me was the work done during WWII. Members in England sent the names of people in Europe who were starving and had no resources to the TOS US. In turn, boxes of canned food, blankets, clothes, and other items were shipped to them. During my months of research, Joy Mills was kind enough to send me a letter that recalled her being part of this TOS project. She wrote that many never thought twice about helping out because service is one of the tenets of living a theosophical life. Letters were also written to servicemen to encourage them, give them hope, and to let them know that others were thinking about them. It amazed me that letters even made it to the men fighting the war.

Read more: The Sacrifice We Need to Make

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