An attempt to answer the title question requires examination from several levels. The first and most obvious is from the point of view of the individual. Theosophy cannot be a force in the world around us until it is a living force within us. To quote Albert Schweitzer, “Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” When we think about the people who have had the greatest influence for good in our own lives, invariably we find that the ones who were fired with a passion, being steadfast, open, and wise, are the people who made an impression. Add love and kindness to that mixture of qualities and you have the ingredients for a person of transformative power.
One of Theosophy's many beauties is the depth of its teachings on the constitution of both the human being and the universe we inhabit—a vision of who we are and how we came to be. This vision is empowering, but without a systematic application of those teachings, they become a collection of expansive, but ineffectual concepts. The first goal for us as Theosophists is to enliven these truths by applying them, first to ourselves and then to the world around us. As HPB said in The Key to Theosophy, “Honor every truth by use.”
The need for self-culture and self-initiated effort in trying to bring the richness of Theosophy to life is self-evident. The place where we often stumble is when it comes to figuring out the “how to” part of it. Yes, there is a body of wisdom in the teachings of Theosophy; and yes, to bring those teachings to life I must do something, but what? Many Theosophists, feeling that clear guidelines are lacking in this process, stop with mere study of the challenging and profound ideas that Theosophy presents.
In our attempt to live Theosophy, perhaps our greatest challenge is to confront our personality, that construct of temporary attributes which has taken on a preeminent sense of reality for us. Many formulas for loosening the stranglehold of the personality can be found in the spiritual traditions of the world. One of the best is within the Theosophical tradition, namely, HPB's "Golden Stairs":
“A clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, a brotherliness for one's co-disciple, a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction, a loyal sense of duty to the teacher, a willing obedience to the behests of truth once we have placed our confidence in and believe that teacher to be in possession of it, a courageous endurance of personal injustice, a brave declaration of principles, a valiant defence of those who are unjustly attacked, and a constant eye to the ideal of human progression and perfection, which the secret science depicts. These are the Golden Stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the temple of Divine Wisdom.”
When deeply explored, these stairs will be found to be a complete expression of both the process and the practice of following an authentic spiritual path.
Now let us briefly consider the title question in the context of the world around us. In our search for an answer, the most important thing is the question we ask. Perhaps the question “How can we make Theosophy a living force in our world?” should be rephrased. Theosophy is already a living force in our world. Although rarely a subject for nightly news reports, everywhere we look, groups and individuals are working selflessly to alleviate human and animal suffering, to establish a functional brotherhood of humanity, to understand and cultivate our deepest inner resources, and to bridge the divides between religions. Though such work may not be called Theosophy, in every nation groups are working along these central Theosophical lines.
The question might be better expressed this way: “How can we magnify the living force of Theosophy in our world?” Theosophy is not the possession of Theosophists, neither is it specific to the Theosophical Society. The leavening influence of the wisdom teachings is active globally and often is most active in people who have never heard of Theosophy. With this in mind, we can focus on two approaches. First, we can support all those specifically Theosophical projects that present the ageless wisdom to the world. In our lodges and in our individual lives, we have countless opportunities for doing this. Second, we can align ourselves with other groups that actively work to minimize suffering in the world or seek to uplift the human spirit. Lending our work and the quality of our consciousness to kindred efforts will magnify, more than anything else, the reach and power of Theosophy in the world today.