Theosophy

Truth—The Highest Religion

Radha Burnier – India

Throughout the ages, man has struggled to understand natural phenomena around him and also the truth about his own being and position in the universe. The desire to know has expressed itself in very simple ways, such as wanting to understand what is behind a stormy night with thunder and lightning (resulting in myths and legends about the great God Thor or Indra, king of the gods, releasing cows held captive in the clouds by anti-gods); or in more fundamental questions about what is real and lasting, and why there is suffering. Without these probings and reflections, human beings would not be human, but would become like creatures engaged only in physical survival and making the best of the doleful conditions in a world they are unable to understand.

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The Importance Of Questioning

Joy Mills – USA
It has been asked how “repentance of sin” is related to human transformation. In several places in the New Testament the word translated as “sin” carries the meaning of failure to hit the mark or the target. When we miss the target, there follows an effort to train our eye.  And we question ourselves: What are we to concentrate on? Are we to concentrate on the drawing of the bow? On the arrow? Or must we fix our sight on the bull’s-eye itself? If we miss the target, do we say, “Oh dear, I shall never be an archer; I shall never be able to shoot straight”? We can give up in defeat and say, “This is not for me; I can never do it” Or do we say, “Obviously, I was not giving it my full attention. I shall try again.”It seems to me that if we can see “sin” in this manner, “repen¬tance” will be to simply try again. “Re-pent” is to “think again.” It is to act in a new way, with clarity of vision. And this is part of the process of human transformation. Failure in itself is not so very bad; it can, in fact, be good for us. It is better to be a glorious failure than a mediocre success because anybody can be successful at some¬thing he already knows how to do, but we are called upon to move beyond ourselves. As Browning put it, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”The process of transformation begins with the consciousness that awakening or enlightenment is possible. This is not to be achieved at our first attempt. The Buddha, being a human being like the rest of us, did not achieve Buddhahood at the moment of his awareness of its possibility. The process “takes time.” Time was once seen simply as linear, but today we recognize other modes of time such as biological and psychological time. We know, too, that there is mythic time-the “once upon a time” with which every good fairy story begins. It is not a historical date but a time-ness that is ever present.

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First Meeting With H.P.B.

Alice Leighton Cleather – UK

In this fine excerpt, the author and early student of H.P.B., Alice Leighton Cleather very vividly  describes the events leading up to her first meeting, well,  the first meeting was called off, it actually was a ‘second’ meeting, with H.P.B.

Like the way that led up to the Countess’ (Wachtmeister) first meeting with H. P. B., my own path to her was strewn with obstacles. My husband and I, with our two child¬ren, were living at Eastbourne when H. P. B. carne over to England from Ostend in 1887, having been practically driven from India in 1885. I had met Mr. Bertram Keightley shortly after I joined the Theosophical Society, and from him received help and encouragement that was invaluable as from an older to a younger member. He knew my keen desire to meet H. P. R, and kindly undertook to arrange it, if possible, while they were at Maycot, Norwood (a London suburb). But he warned me that it might be a difficult matter as” our old Lady” was apt to be, well, a little uncertain and capricious at times. I did not care the proverbial two pins what she was in those respects, if only she would see me. I had a profound conviction that I was approaching a crisis in my inner life, and that everything depended upon getting into touch with her. See her, therefore, I must and would.

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What Is the Future of Theosophy? A questioning consideration

John Algeo – USA

On next November 17, the anniversary of its founding, the Theosophical Society will enter its 135th year of existence. Anniversaries are times for remembering the past; but they are also opportunities for anticipating the future. What is the future of the Society and, even more important, of Theosophy—the message our Society brings to the world? Here, the focus is on the message; the Society that conveys it can be considered later.

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The Principle, Not The Person

John Algeo – USA

Theosophy is not just a collection of intellectual abstractions. It is a prescription for living. Every Theosophical idea implies a form of Theosophical action. If we think about even a few of the basic Theosophical concepts, their practical applications are obvious.

For example, if we accept reincarnation, we should have no prejudices about other cultures or nations or the other sex, because in the past we have been born in other cultures and nations and as the other sex, and we will be so born again in the future. Similarly, if we accept karma, we should never consciously harm another, because every action we do returns to us in a similar form. Of course, open-mindedness and harmlessness are prescribed by ethical systems all over the world, but Theosophy provides a reasoned basis for practicing those virtues.

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Why Such Moral Weakness?

Radha Burnier - India
(from “On the Watch-Tower”, The Theosophist, December 2005)

One wonders why most human beings are morally so weak. Even well-educated persons with a good family background fall prey to temptations, which may not even appear as temptations to them. For example, when a group of people are gossiping about somebody, how many have the moral strength not to join in, and how many will exert their influence against idle talk? Very few. Most people are dragged along whatever current they find themselves in.

Temptation in the form of desire for power is very common. Well behaved and modest persons are known to succumb to it on attaining a position of authority over others—humans andanimals. Then the desire for power expands, and in a crisis such people might do dreadful things.

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Butterflies Are Not Free

Betty Bland - USA

[This Viewpoint article was published in the Quest magazine for September-October 2008, pp. 164-5]

The drifting dazzling beauty of a butterfly wafting on the summer breezes, floating from flower to flower, conjures in us an aesthetic appreciation and a certain longing to be carefree like this diaphanous illusion. As the Buddhist teachings affirm, “All beings wish to be happy.” And we human beings add the strength of our highly developed mental and emotional faculties to this search for happiness as a driving factor in our lives.

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Masters and the Path

Dora Van Gelder Kunz - USA

[Dora Kunz (1904-1999) as a girl lived in a Theosophical community in Australia, where she served as an assistant to C. W. Leadbeater. A natural clairvoyant, Dora regarded herself even in her late years as "a veddy prrractical girl." In the following talk, delivered in Philadelphia on White Lotus Day 1955, she examines one of the most characteristic of Theosophical ideas, the existence of those whom her husband, Fritz, called "men beyond mankind," the Masters, that is, those who have mastered the lessons of human life that the rest of us are still striving to learn. A transcription of this talk, supplied by Edward Abdill, has been lightly edited but is unaltered in any substantive way, preserving its oral and Dora-esque qualities.]

I would like to present a few of my own ideas about the Masters and the Path which are somewhat different from what you will find in books. I have been a Theosophist all my life, and the Masters have been real to me as far back as I can remember. I would like to tell you something about my point of view about the Masters and our relationship with them.

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The Wisdom of the East, the West, and the World

John Algeo - USA

Theosophists often talk, with considerable justification, about the wisdom of the East. The East—particularly Persia, India, and China—have indeed produced profoundly wise and views of life.

Persian wisdom, although less talked about than the other two, has been very influential. That wisdom, expressed through the revolutionary religious system of Zoroaster, influenced early Judaism, and through it later Christianity and Islam. Persian wisdom may be said to focus centrally on the view that the universe is ruled and guided by wise and beneficent powers. Those powers are personified in the person of Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, and the other Amesha Spentas, Holy Immortals. The personification of that power is specifically Persian, but the existence of a wise and beneficent force in the cosmos is a universal truth. Persian wisdom also recognizes the existence of a contrary power, whose operation appears ignorant and maleficent. But the ultimate triumph of wise beneficence is assured, and human beings are called to act with purpose and dedication in its cause.

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Study

Ed Abdill – USA

Clearly all knowledge is useful, but some is more useful. Whatever we learn may be used to benefit others and ourselves. What we choose to study depends on what motivates us to study. If we are driven by personal desire, we may gain a great deal of knowledge, but it will not move us one inch on the spiritual path. If we are driven by a thirst for ultimate truth and a longing to help bring our fellow human beings to that truth, then we are motivated rightly. By using our power of discernment, we will choose the areas of study that will most effectively lead to that noble goal. We may choose to study the spiritual literature from the saints of humanity. We may even put to good use what we learn from studying mechanics, computer programming, science, history, art, and a host of other things.

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