Theosophy

Glimpses of the Afterlife?

Richard Brooks – USA

[This article was previously published in The Theosophist, 120 (February 1999): 668-673]

Nearly all the world’s religions proclaim some form of conscious existence after the death of the physical body. But it has become fashionable in recent history to question the truth of such beliefs. After all, there is considerable divergence of opinion among the religions — and among theologians expounding those religions — as to the nature of this post-mortem existence. In fact, the beliefs are sometimes referred to by debunkers of theology as “mythologies” in an effort to discount them, to suggest that they do not warrant serious attention from scientifically minded people. All human behavior, they say, including our mental life with its religious beliefs, can be explained in terms of neurophysiology. This is a form of “reductionism.” When the neurons stop “firing,” life ceases, mind ceases, consciousness ceases. Hence, there is nothing after death. The optimistic religious beliefs may be comforting, may even have some social value, but they aren’t true. Or, so they say.

Death, they argue, is a fact of life. It should be calmly and objectively accepted. As a former biologist colleague of mine once put it, “We are all programmed to die.” That is, the body can regenerate itself by cell division only up to a certain point; after that, there is a gradual decline until death sets in. This inevitable end could be delayed — that is, one’s life could be prolonged — by eliminating disease, lowering one’s body temperature a degree or two, eating a sensible diet (he recommended vegetarianism), breathing more slowly, etc. But it cannot be avoided, and therefore should be rationally and dis­passionately accepted.

Read more: Glimpses of the Afterlife?

The Essential Unity of All Religions

Richard Brooks – USA

[This article was previously published in Insight, 42.3 (May-June 2001): 4-9]

When one looks at religious practices in the world today, one might as well ask “Is there an essential unity of all religions?” The answer would certainly seem to be “No.” In the past, religion has been used to justify the Inquisition and forced conversion of people to what was thought to be the Only True Religion, usually either Christianity or Islam. In both the past and the present, religion has been used to justify warfare against infidels or to justify invasion of other people’s territory. One need only think of the invasion by ancient Jews of what they considered to be their Holy Land or even present-day building of settlements on the West Bank of the River Jordan because Zionism claims that it was given by God to be the Jews’ homeland. Or think of the conquest of that land (as well as others) by Muslims, because Jerusalem is considered their Holy City. Or think of the Crusades by Christians to free that land from the Muslims because it was considered their Holy Land. Think of the pogroms against Taoists and Buddhists in China under certain Confucian dynasties — or similar pogroms against Confucians when Taoists later gained power. Or think of the suppression of the Falun Gong movement in China by its Communist rulers today. Think of the bloodshed of Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims as a result of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Or think of the contemporary “Hindutva” (“Hindu-ness”) movement in India which is attempting to change India from a tolerant, secular State to a Hindu State. Movie houses have been damaged by Hindu mobs who objected to what they considered to be an indecent, un-Hindu movie being shown there. Christian missionaries have been murdered by Hindu mobs claiming the missionaries were engaged in “forced conversions.” A Muslim mosque was tom down in Allahabad by a Hindu mob who claimed it was built on the site where the avatar Rama was bom. Consider the pogrom against Muslims in the former Yugoslavia or against non-Muslims and even non-conservative Muslims in Afghanistan today.

Read more: The Essential Unity of All Religions

Karma and Justice

Richard Brooks – USA

[This article was previously published in Theosophy in New Zealand, (June 2004)]

Karma is one of the basic ideas of Theosophy along with its twin doctrine, reincarnation. It is sometimes stated as a Law of Karma and is generally acknowledged as a fact by members of the Theosophical Society. But what, exactly, is this law? That question was put rhetorically by Sri Krishna to his disciple Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita (4.16; my translation): “What is karma, what non-karma? About this even the wise are confused. Therefore 1 will declare what karma is, knowing which you will be freed from harm.”

Krishna then proceeded to indicate the relation of karma to one’s duty (Sanskrit dharma) and also stated that doing nothing is just as much a form of action (karma) as is engaging in activity. But one must remember that in Sanskrit the word karma means merely “action,” whereas Westerners who have adopted the term tend to use it to refer either to the action-reaction cycle or just to the reaction alone, which in Sanskrit is called phala, literally “fruit.” The latter, karma interpreted as reaction, seems to be the intended meaning in that Beatles (John Lennon, editor) song “Instant Karma” which begins: “Instant karma gonna get you, gonna knock you right on the head! You better get yourself together. Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead.”

Read more: Karma and Justice

A Theosophical View of Christianity

Richard Brooks – USA

[This article was previously published in The Theosophist, 127.3 (December 2005): 93-98]

The Theosophical view of the early history of Christianity and of its founder, Jesus the Christ, is very different from that found in more orthodox sources, the latter being generally accepted without question by most Christians. Furthermore, while most Christians interpret their scriptures in a historical sense, theosophists see them as allegories and interpret them metaphorically. There are some Christians who are aware that the historical interpretation of, say, the Gospels presents serious problems, since their accounts are mutually inconsistent. But they have worked out what they consider to be a reasonable solution to those problems, retaining a historical account of the life of Jesus and his disciples based on those Gospel stories. Since the orthodox view is probably familiar to most readers, I will not attempt to detail it here, but rather will concentrate on a theosophical interpretation of early Christianity.

Read more: A Theosophical View of Christianity

The Unity Of Our Movement

Theosophy THE UNITY OF OUR MOVEMENT 2 B
[Original cover photo: Nikolay Konstantinovich de Roerich (October 9, 1874 - December 13, 1947)]

The unity of the Theosophical Movement is not determined by any organizational structure in which any single authoritative body holds hegemony over other groups and dictates to them their policies. The unity of the Movement is a totally spiritual factor which inheres in a similarity of aims, objectives and long-range plans, and derives its power from the basic precepts of the Ancient Wisdom and the common endeavor to implement at least some of them in one's daily life.

Read more: The Unity Of Our Movement

Voice of the Silence 16 (verses 230-271)

John Algeo – USA

Theosophy The Voice 2

After the preceding introductory verses, the text returns to the list of the seven Portals (verses 207-213) and describes each in greater detail. The first three Portals and keys, treated in verses 230-240, concern particularly the body or outer person.

Read more: Voice of the Silence 16 (verses 230-271)

Do you remember?

Tim Boyd – USA

For sixty years I have been forgetful, every minute, but not for a second has this flowing toward me stopped or slowed. I deserve nothing.”

Theosophy Do you remember 2
Jallaludin Rumi

As a young person growing up I used to find humor in some of the things my parents did. One thing in particular that my father did I could never understand. I would shake my head and wonder about it. It was something simple that I later realized many parents do, but one of those things that just did not make any sense to me. What he would do was this; there were four of us kids and sometimes when he wanted to call one of us for one thing or another, he would look at the one he was calling and cycle through each of our names until he got the right one. If we were out of sight when he called, it would be the same process. This did not happen every time, but to me it was remarkable that it happened at all. How could he not immediately know my name, or my brothers', or sister's? There was no way that I would ever call for Brandon when I wanted Ed or Becky. At the time I wrote it off as one of my dad's unintentionally humorous quirks.

Read more: Do you remember?

Voice of the Silence 15 (verses 215-229)

John Algeo – USA

Theosophy The Voice 2

... it is only Silence

The keys to the seven portals having been enumerated in the last group of verses, the next group (verses 215-222) begin an introduction to a more detailed description of the seven portals. The introduction continues through verse 229, which is followed by the start of the detailed treatment in verse 230.

Read more: Voice of the Silence 15 (verses 215-229)

Human Regeneration – part six

Radha Burnier – India

Theosophy Human Regeneration 2 part six
Radha Burnier

[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.]

Read more: Human Regeneration – part six

Madame Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries - part two

Leslie Price – England

[This text, written by Leslie Price in September 2014, has been extensively revised by John Algeo; any remaining or newly introduced errors are therefore his responsibility.]

Theosophy Madame 2  Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries
Leslie Price

The Fourth Mystery: What Did the Master Serapis Say?

You might think that all the Mahatmic material has long since been published, but that is not so. The recent biography of Mrs Holloway which I cited, included such material. And some of the earliest letters from HPB’s teachers have never appeared in full. This brings us to the next mystery.

Read more: Madame Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries - part two

The Occult Side of Nature

Robert CrosbieUSA

The word Nature used in its widest sense, as when we speak of Great Nature, or Mother Nature, means the whole of the outside – all that is external to us – the trees, the open places, and the world of men. We do not, in fact, know what that nature is, because it presents to us something external to our perceptions. We speak of “the laws of nature,” seeing that nature always acts in an orderly way, without in fact knowing at all what those laws spring from nor what they rest in. Yet nature cannot exist of itself, by itself, and come from nothing. It must come from a sufficient cause. There must of necessity be an occult side to nature. The “sufficient cause” in reality lies upon those planes which are invisible to us, but constitute a part of nature. The invisible side is the producing side – the causal side – of what we see; all the laws noted on the visible side are really existent in and proceed from the invisible side of nature.

Theosophy The Occult Side of Nature 2
Robert Crosbie reading

Read more: The Occult Side of Nature

Ethics of Survival

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

THEOSOPHIA

A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume VIII

No. 1 (43) - May-June 1951

Theosophy Ethics of Survival 2 Boris de Zirkoff

[Original black and white cover photo: In the heart of the Madison Grant Forest and Elk Refuge, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Humbolt County, California.]

The challenge of the present day is one of emotions against reason, of uncontrolled feelings against cool judgment, of blind fanaticism against deep-seated conviction. The world of tomorrow depends upon which of the two states of consciousness will win in the world of today.

Read more: Ethics of Survival

Helena Blavatsky on children and the need for Theosophical education

 

Theosophy HPB on Education 2

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. We would endeavour to deal with each child as a unit, and to 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. We should aim at creating free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish. And we believe that much if not all of this could be obtained by proper and truly Theosophical education.”

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

In The Light of Theosophy

[This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html]

Theosophy In The Light of Theosophy 2
Quran:
Killing of an innocent human being is like killing an entire human kind (5:32)

On December 16, 2014 a group of militants entered the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan and mercilessly gunned down about 150 students and teachers. The photograph of the six members released by the terrorist outfit carried a banner in the background which read: “There is no god, but One God,” thus giving us the criterion on which to judge their act, writes Maulana Wahiduddin Khan. He points out that according to a verse in Quaran, killing of an innocent human being is like killing an entire human kind (5:32). In the light of this the terrorists killed the entire humankind 150 times over. There is a very striking verse in Quaran which carries an important message to the grieving relatives. It says: “Beware of an affliction that will not smite exclusively those among you who have done wrong” (8:25). This is an alarming verse for the relatives of the innocents who were killed. We are reminded of the fact that militancy has been going on in Pakistan for more than 50 years, but people of Pakistan remained indifferent to it because they thought that the militants were targeting others. The Peshawar killings show that in such matters one cannot remain indifferent. If one does not take necessary steps to stop it, one runs the risk of becoming its victim.

Read more: In The Light of Theosophy

Theosophical Knowledge and the Path of Understanding and Wisdom

 Robert A. Pullen — the Netherlands

Theosophy Theosophical Knowledge 2 by Robert A

For one who pages through The Secret Doctrine of H. P. Blavatsky, it is almost impossible not to be impressed by the incredible amount of knowledge that the book has to offer. Fragments of it can be found in old legends and philosophies around the world — behind the veils of exoteric religions, woven into religious traditions and expressed in the symbolism of old cathedrals, temples, and other religious structures. Religion has always played an important role for many peoples, in ancient times as well as in the present day. In Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine, all of this is put into perspective against the background of the origin of human existence in relation to the evolution of life as a whole on planet Earth. The book also paints a picture of the forces behind it, including human beings who were (and are) able to possess such knowledge through special training. That knowledge exists, not only in a tangible and transferable form as in Blavatsky’s work, but also as a living proof of what a human being is able to know and be if he has completely aligned his life with the flow of the inner Nature and the natural laws associated with it.

Read more: Theosophical Knowledge and the Path of Understanding and Wisdom

Madame Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries – part one

Leslie Price – England

Theosophy a 2 Madame Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries
The author Leslie Price

[This text, written by Leslie Price in September 2014, has been extensively revised by the editor, John Algeo; any remaining or newly introduced errors are therefore his responsibility.]

Madame Blavatsky (HPB), one of the founders of the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875, was and is controversial. And not least of the mysteries around her is a set of archival mysteries. One might argue that only by solving these archival mysteries, can we understand the greater mystery of the Old Lady herself.

Read more: Madame Blavatsky and the Seven Archival Mysteries – part one

Theosophy, Esoteric School of, by H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy Esoteric School of 2

[from E.S. Instruction No. 1, Collected Writings 12:537-538]

To close this first Instruction let me say that those who have honored me with their confidence by taking the pledge must in all necessity be separated into two broad divisions; those who have not quite rid themselves of the usual sceptical doubts, but who long to ascertain how much truth there may be in the claims of the Occultist; and those others who, having freed themselves from the trammels of materialism and relativity, feel that true and real bliss must be sought only in the knowledge and personal experience of that which the Hindu philosopher calls the Brahma-Vidyā , and the Buddhist Arhat the realization of Ā di-budha, the primeval Wisdom. 

Read more: Theosophy, Esoteric School of, by H. P. Blavatsky

Karma as Habit of Nature

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

THEOSOPHIA

A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXXVII

No. 3 (165) - Winter 1980-1981

Theosophy Karma 2 as Habit of Nature - BdZ

[Original cover photo: Klingenstock seen from Stoos (Schwyz), Switzerland.]

Human karma is born within man himself, we are its creators and generators, and suffer from it or are clarified through it by our own previous action. But what is this habit in itself ... this inveterate primordial habit of nature which makes it react to an arousing cause? What is this habit in itself?

Read more: Karma as Habit of Nature

In The Light Of Theosophy

[This article appeared in the September 2014 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:

http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html ]

Theosophy IN THE LIGHT OF THEOSOPHY 2

The words “Hindu” and “Hinduism” mean different things to different people. For the Rashtriya Seva Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, all those who live in Hindustan are Hindus. For RSS activist Dinanath Batra, Hindu is a crusading word, evoking a campaign against Macaulayite secularists who have monopolized Indian thought and education. The word “Hindu” denotes the opposite of the rootless and the westernised. Sangh activists like Batra believe that it is their dharma (duty) to restore Hindu sanskriti (culture) to the school curriculum. After thousands of years of globalization, how shall we define “Indian” and “western”? Amartya Sen pertinently asks, “Does the use of penicillin amount to westernization? Is tea non-Indian because it was brought to India by the British?”

Read more: In The Light Of Theosophy

Human Regeneration — part five

Radha Burnier – India 

Theosophy Human Regeneration b Part five
Radha Burnier at home and the cat

[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.]

Read more: Human Regeneration — part five

Cleansing the mind

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 spring 2012 issue; here slightly revised.]

For mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul-wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions. Seek, 0 Beginner to blend thy Mind and Soul.” The Voice of the Silence.

Read more: Cleansing the mind

Western History in the Light of the Seven Rays

 John Algeo – USA

Theosophy Western History 2  seven-rays 

Introduction. The West can be viewed, not as a geographical area, but rather as a cultural complex, consisting of Europe and other places around the globe that derive their culture from that continent. Those places include the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and other localities whose primary culture comes directly or indirectly from Europe. History, in turn, can be seen, not as merely a series of political, military, or economic events, but rather as a sequence of interrelated major cultural movements. History in this sense is less a matter of actions than of the mind – intellectual history. From such a combined standpoint, the history of the West can be perceived as seven major cultural movements that succeed one another in time, each having one of the seven Rays dominant in it. Other important movements certainly have existed, but the seven considered here are notable for their correlation with the theory of the seven Rays.

Read more: Western History in the Light of the Seven Rays

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