Dogmatism in Theosophy

William Quan Judge - USA 

Theosophy 212 WQJ b

The Theosophical Society was founded to destroy dogmatism. This is one of the meanings of its first object - Universal Brotherhood. And Col. H. S. Olcott in his inaugural address in 1875, at Mott Memorial Hall, New York, said that such was the object in view, citing the bad effect that intolerance had had in the past. That address was read by Mme. H. P. Blavatsky before its delivery, or its contents were communicated to her, so that it had her assent, for she was present when it was delivered.

In The Key to Theosophy, in the "Conclusion," H.P.B. again refers to this subject and expresses the hope that the Society might not, after her death, become dogmatic or crystallize on some phase of thought or philosophy, but that it might remain free and open, with its members wise and unselfish. And in all her writings and remarks, privately or publicly, she constantly reiterated this idea. Of this the writer has direct evidence as to her statements in private.

Read more: Dogmatism in Theosophy

Has Theosophy become a Creed?

Pedro Oliveira -- Australia 

Theosophy 212 PO b

The author

At the end of her book The Key to Theosophy, published in 1889, Madame H. P. Blavatsky (HPB) issued a warning to the members of the Theosophical Society (TS):

Every such attempt as the Theosophical Society has hitherto ended in failure, because, sooner or later, it has degenerated into a sect, set up hard-and-fast dogmas of its own, and so lost by imperceptible degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart. You must remember that all our members have been bred and born in some creed or religion, that all are more or less of their generation both physically and mentally, and consequently that their judgment is but too likely to be warped and unconsciously biased by some or all of these influences. If, then, they cannot be freed from such inherent bias, or at least taught to recognize it instantly and so avoid being led away by it, the result can only be that the Society will drift off on to some sandbank of thought or another, and there remain a stranded carcass to molder and die. (1)

Read more: Has Theosophy become a Creed?


Theosophy HPB 212 b SK 

The first necessity for obtaining self-knowledge is to become profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fiber of the heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived.

The second requisite is the still deeper conviction that such knowledge - such intuitive and certain knowledge - can be obtained by effort.

The third and most important is an indomitable determination to obtain and face that knowledge.

Read more: Self-knowledge

Temple of Light at Adyar

Jaishree Kannan - India

Theosophy 212 JK b

The author who resides and works at Adyar (photo: © Richard Dvořák )

There is an underlying unity that links the faiths of mankind in a deeper oneness of life and this is greatly stimulated by a direct acquaintance with the rituals of each religion. During the time when Dr Annie Besant was President, a number of shrines and temples for the performance of religious practices were erected on the Adyar estate and used by the adherents of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism. There is also a site reserved and a cornerstone laid for a Jewish synagogue which, however, did not get built. As is to be expected, there is great religious fellow-feeling at Adyar, and members belonging to different faiths freely attend the rites of their sister religions.

Theosophy 212 JK c

Read more: Temple of Light at Adyar

John Algeo and Senzar - Part one

John Algeo – USA

Theosophy JA and SZ 121 b John Algeo 1

John Algeo 

Original title: Senzar-The Mystery of the Mystery Language

[Note from the editor: this is a slightly revised version to suit Theosophy Forward’s  template and to make the paper better readable]

Among the curious lore of H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine  are her references to a language called Senzar. Senzar is a mystery. According to Blavatsky, it is the original language of the stanzas of Dzyan, which are the core of her great book, and of certain commentaries and glosses upon the Book of Dzyan, others being in Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit.

The version of the Stanzas that she presents in The Secret Doctrine is an abridgment of the originals and blends together the text of the stanzas with various glosses (I, 23). 

Read more: John Algeo and Senzar - Part one

John Algeo and Senzar – Part two

John Algeo – USA


 John Algeo 1

The author 

Original title: Senzar-The Mystery of the Mystery Language

[Note from the editor: this is a slightly revised version to suit Theosophy Forward’s  template and to make the paper better readable]


What then is this "mystery language" of HPB's? What kind of "language" is Senzar? Blavatsky says that the Hermetic Philosophers (that is, alchemists) of the Middle Ages

renovated the ancient symbolical language of the high-priests of antiquity, who had used it as a sacred barrier between their holy rites and the ignorance of the profane, and created a veritable Cabalistic slang. This latter, which continually blinded the false neophyte, attracted towards the science only by his greediness for wealth and power which he would have surely misused were he to succeed, is a living, eloquent, clear language; but it is and can become such, only to the true disciple of Hermes. (CW I, 13)

In this passage, Blavatsky is clearly talking about alchemical "jargon" and saying that properly understood it is full of high meaning, and also that it is a renovated form of the "ancient symbolical language," apparently a reference to Senzar. Similarly, Blavatsky says that the Jewish holy writings from the Pentateuch to the Talmud were written

in a kind of Mystery-language, were, in fact, a series of symbolical records which the Jews had copied from the Egyptian and the Chaldaean Sanctuaries, only adapting them to their own national history. (CW, XIV, 170)

Again, what is meant by "mystery language" here is an allegorical or symbolic use of narrative language, such as the biblical narratives of the creation, the fall, the crossing of the red sea, and so on (as interpreted in considerable detail by Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Geoffrey Hodson, and others). Blavatsky makes various references to such symbolism:

... the art of speaking and writing in a language which bears a double interpretation, is of very great antiquity;

... it was in practice among the priests of Egypt, brought from thence by the Manichees, whence it passed to the Templars and Albigenses, spread over Europe, and brought about the Reformation. (quoted from Charles Sotheran, CW, I, 126)

Senzar 3

Senzar, always mysterious ....

Read more: John Algeo and Senzar – Part two

PREFACE to Evolution of the Higher Consciousness: An In-depth Study into H. P. Blavatsky’s Teachings

Pablo Sender – USA

Pablo z

The author

[Note from the editor: Dr. Ralph Hannon wrote, when he reviewed this book:

This is the book that Theosophist have been asking for. A book that brings the teachings of HPB into the present and with great clarity. In fact, if I needed to give a ‘one word’ review of this book it would be CLARITY. It has obviously been classroom tested because of the organization, anticipation of questions, and use of words. I thought the Preface was exceptional. It sets the stage for the double evolution of BOTH spirit and matter.

So, here is that PREFACE of Pablo Sender’s book Evolution of the Higher Consciousness: An In-depth Study into H. P. Blavatsky’s Teachings. Often forewords or prefaces are hastily overlooked and therefore it is a recommendation for every earnest student of Theosophy to read this particular preface as kind of appetizer, in order to ultimately purchase the book. Over the years Pablo has developed into a writer of caliber and well-versed international lecturer. His accessible exposé will surely assist any seeker to find answers to eternal questions like Who are we?, What is the purpose of Life? or How do we actualize our potential? After all, these are the questions thoughtful people have asked since time immemorial. This book is a comprehensive study of the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky on these issues.] 

Pablo and Michele

Michele and Pablo Sender, both living at Krotona, California


Read more: PREFACE to Evolution of the Higher Consciousness: An In-depth Study into H. P. Blavatsky’s...

The Last Song of the Swan - Editorials, The Lucifer Collection, Volume II

Erica Georgiades - Greece 


The author

[Note from the editor: All references are to VOLUME II of The Lucifer CollectionObtain your copy through AMAZON click HERE]

The second volume of “The Lucifer Collection,” entitled The Last Song of the Swan, presents all editorials published in Lucifer magazine while Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was the editor. The title given to the present volume is the same as H.P.B’s editorial for February 1890.[1] The editors chose it specifically because Lucifer was indeed one of her last "songs" before dying. In that editorial she discussed the pandemic, (which in 1891 was the cause of her death), and other problems affecting the world. One of such problems was electricity. Yes, The Theosophical Society’s mother was critical regarding electricity and even quoted an incident, in New York, about a horse that touched an electric wire and dropped dead. Then someone else touched the horse to help and dropped dead, then a third person went to help and received a powerful electric shock. “This is a cheerful prospect and looks indeed as if it were one of the ‘last songs of the Swan’ of practical civilization,”[2] said Blavatsky. Perhaps, in her mind, people were just too lazy to light their candles. Still, her editorial was a criticism of the press that highlighted (and still does) evils, ignoring acts of compassion and altruism. In any case, Blavatsky wasn’t on friendly terms with some environmental and scientific changes during her lifetime. She was promoting another kind of change, i.e., to show people that there is such a thing as a spirit and soul. She also promoted universal brotherhood and aspired to free the masses from slavery to conventionalities, or the simulation of feelings according to socio-cultural standards, by showing the importance of seeking the truth and living a spiritual and compassionate life.



In this manner, the name of the magazine was no accidental choice. The first editorial explained that Lucifer was chosen as a name because it represented “the divine spirit which sacrificed itself for humanity, the Morning Star.”[3] To illustrate that, she quoted Revelation 22:16: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David and the bright Morning Star.” Lucifer is “a ray of truth on everything hidden by the darkness of prejudice, by social or religious misconceptions; especially by that idiotic routine in life.”[4] By ‘idiotic routine,’ she meant slavery to “the established opinions of the day;”[5] conventionalities, social hypocrisy. In her view, “truth is a gem that is found at a great depth; whilst on the surface of this world, all things are weighed by the false scales of custom…” The magazine aimed to go beyond conventionalities, established opinions, prejudices and superstition. To offer a pearl of ancient wisdom, a non-dogmatic approach. 

Read more: The Last Song of the Swan - Editorials, The Lucifer Collection, Volume II

The Ethical Revolution

Trân-Thi-Kim-Diêu - France

Theosophy KD 2 121

The author

Among the successive crises that humanity has gone through, the one that has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, has an unprecedented significance in its form, manifestation, and implications. Though there were extremely serious health disasters such as the Black Death, which decimated a large part of the European population, there were also revolutions of various kinds, including that of 1789, which swept away the monarchy in France, bringing a wind of radical change.

Read more: The Ethical Revolution

The Mutuality of Knowing

Ananya Sri Ram Rajan – USA

Theosophy ASR 121 b

In the Islamic faith, there is a lovely hadith (the narratives of Prophet Muhammed) that is considered the epitome of the religion. It is said by scholars that this particular hadith is the foundation of the religion or the Umm al-Sunnah and is believed to have taken place toward the end of the Prophet’s life. Sunnah are the traditions and practices of Islam.

The hadith, related by Umar, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, states that while the companions were sitting together, a man with black hair and beard, dressed in immaculately white clothes, “with no sign of travel on him,” gave his greetings from a distance to the Prophet. After greeting the Prophet, he asked “Shall I come closer?” The Prophet replied, “Yes, come closer.” The beautiful man moved a little closer and again gave his greetings, asking afterwards “Shall I come closer?” to which the Prophet replied humbly, “Yes, come closer.” The man moved a little closer and again gave his greetings. Again, he asked, “Shall I come closer?” to which again the Prophet humbly replied, “Yes, come closer.” This practice went on until the beautiful man sat face to face with the Prophet.

Read more: The Mutuality of Knowing

The Dweller

James LeFevour – USA

Theosophy 121 JL b

One of the stages most often paid attention to on the spiritual path is the dark night of the soul. This is partly because we go through this stage cyclically, again and again, until we finally do it for the last time. The Dweller on the Threshold, though less talked about and equally as harrowing, is considered a necessary trial for those on the path. It comes to those whose clairvoyant vision is opening up and the veil is lifted. One sees beneficent things but also, eventually, the Dweller.

The Dweller on the Threshold was first introduced to the public in 1842 in Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel Zanoni. In the book it is a cruel entity that embodies the sum total of all the ill will and selfish acts the person has performed throughout the incarnations he or she lived.

Read more: The Dweller

Beyond Language

Ali Ritsema – the Netherlands

Theosophy AR 2 ALI ADAM 2

Ali Ritsema, a great soul, sincere seeker, a wonderful friend ....

When we want to go 'beyond' something, first of all we must find out what we want to go 'beyond'. In this case, it is 'language'. The Oxford Dictionary gives explanations, such as 'language is a vocabulary and way of using it in one or more countries'; it is a 'method of expression'; it is 'words and their use; faculty of speech'.

Read more: Beyond Language

How do you want to live?

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy BH 2 Jasmine

Barbara Hebert and ... Jasmine

I had the joy of babysitting for my youngest granddaughter recently. Jasmine is almost a year old and is learning to walk. She pulls herself up on a piece of furniture and when she feels steady, she lets go. Eventually, she takes a step, swaying as she tries to maintain her balance. On occasion, she finds that balance and takes another step. At other times, she plops down onto the floor, and the process begins again. My role in this process was to cheer and clap for her when she successfully took a step or so and to encourage her to try again when she fell.

Read more: How do you want to live?


Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

All through the twelve years of its existence, Theosophy Forward the e-Magazine has endorsed the idea of Theosophical unity through dialogue. During the time of my involvement with International Theosophy Conferences (ITC), this particular thought, “Theosophical Unity,” was often an important subject during ITC’s many conferences.

ITC 2015

Your editor here in the middle making a funny face, with on his right Gene Jennings (ULT) and  Herman C. Vermeulen (TS Point Loma) and on his left Danson Kiplagat and Carolyn Dorrance (both from the ULT Santa Barbara, Cal.)   A diverse group of seekers. Photo taken during an ITC gathering in The Hague, the Netherlands

Read more: Editorial

A Blavatskyan Theology?

Pedro Oliveira – Australia

Theosophy PO 2 121

The author with on his right Patrizia Calvi from Italy and on his left Linda Oliveira, his wife. Photo taken at the Adyar Theatre

Shortly after the death of Madame Blavatsky, in 1891, her group of students in London naturally dispersed, as she had not appointed a successor to continue her work as a teacher of Esoteric Philosophy. Several of them continued to work for the Theosophical Society with headquarters at Adyar, India, while others decided to follow William Q. Judge, after the secession of the then American Section from the Parent Society in 1895.

It is only natural and human that those who had the great privilege of studying and working with a person like HPB developed not only a great affection for her but also a deep sense of loyalty to her and to her work. After all, she was the embodiment of living Theosophy, that spirit of utter self-sacrifice in the service of humanity as well as of profound wisdom and insight, while at the same time she was vitally human, as her short temper and emotional reactions fully demonstrated.

Read more: A Blavatskyan Theology?

Radha Burnier about Annie Besant


Theosophy RB 121 b

Radha Burnier (née Radha Sri Ram) (November 15, 1923 – October 31, 2013) 

This wonderful photo was taken on January 22, 2013 © Richard Dvořák   

India remembers Annie Besant as the fiery Englishwoman, orator par excellence, Theosophist and advocate of Home Rule, who settled in India in 1893 until her death in 1933. Not many in India know of the pre-India period of Annie Besant's life, of her long association with and espousal of socialism, atheism, and workers' and women's rights; her courage and intellectual fortitude in the face of opposition by Victorian society; and the leadership qualities she displayed in what was very much a man's world.

Theosophy RB 121 c

Annie Besant

Radha Burnier was the seventh International President of the Theosophical Society in Adyar, Chennai. Her parents were active in the Theosophical Society and she developed an early interest in Theosophy, which according to her "is a universal view, not conditioned by race or ethnic origin which in general advocates a very considerate and compassionate view of all kinds of life, plant or animal..."

She took her university degree in Sanskrit literature, English literature and Indian history from the Banaras Hindu University. She was Director of the Adyar Library and Research Centre and General Secretary of the Indian section of the Theosophical Society for a number of years.

Read more: Radha Burnier about Annie Besant

The Golden Hour: A Turning of the Cycle

Tim Boyd – USA, India

Theosophy TB 121 b

Tim Boyd, while delivering the talk on which this article is based, during the 145th International Convention. At the end of this article a YouTube link is provided for those who would like to watch this talk

I would like to consider something related to the theme of our International Convention, “Cycles of Awareness”, particularly how cycles affect us and how we can interact with them in a proactive and productive way.

Cycles affect us at every level. They are so omnipresent at the personal level that they often go unexamined. In her introduction to The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky (HPB) discusses Three Fundamental Propositions. Cycles is the second of them. She points to specific cycles such as day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking, the seasons, as being such a common part of our everyday experience that they indicate to us the presence of a fundamental Law of the universe.

Read more: The Golden Hour: A Turning of the Cycle

Imagining Theosophy for the Future

Catalina Isaza Cantor-Agnihotri – Colombia, India

Theosophy CA 2

The author on the far left, accompanied by daughter Yuna and husband Shikhar

When I first saw the theme, “Imagining Theosophy for the Future”, two things came to mind: the power of the word “imagine” and the meaning of “Theosophy”. Imagining is the act of mentally creating or reproducing using the power of the mind; imagination is one of the most advanced human faculties. So what we are doing here is making a collective effort to create mentally, using the power of thought, an image or picture of the future of Theosophy. This leads me to the second point, the meaning of Theosophy. It actually means divine wisdom (brahmavidya). Therefore, it has an immutable nature, it does not change, but the ways of getting closer to it, of spreading it, can and should change.

Read more: Imagining Theosophy for the Future

Theosophy and Belief

Wesley Amerman—USA

Theosophy 121 WA b thinking

Many Theosophists consider themselves above the blind acceptance of ideas and think that while others may adhere to a belief system, they themselves accept ideas solely on their intrinsic merits. I used to think this about myself, and thought that I was the most objective, open-minded and clear-thinking person I knew. Most definitely I am none of these things -- sad experience has taught me better. While I still see this arrogance implied in the speech and writings of fellow Theosophists, I have come to realize how much of my own world-view is part of an "inherited" package of sorts -- those ideas and ideals that have come to me as part of my theosophical upbringing and education. My conclusion is that many Theosophists' beliefs are as dogmatic as those of any religious fanatic.

Read more: Theosophy and Belief

Life Visible and Invisible

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy 121 HPB 6

Every organized thing in this world, visible as well as invisible, has an element appropriate to itself. The fish lives and breathes in the water; the plant consumes carbonic acid, which for animals and men produces death; some beings are fitted for rarefied strata of air, others exist only in the densest.

Read more: Life Visible and Invisible

Everything Is Life

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy 121 HPB 4

In stones ...

Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is CONSCIOUS: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and  on its  own  plane of  perception.  We men  must remember that because we do not perceive any signs – which we can recognize – of  consciousness, say, in  stones,  we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there.

Read more: Everything Is Life

Civilization’s Invasion of Nature

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy 121 HPB 2

Owing to the triumphant march and the invasion of civilization, Nature, as well as man and ethics, is sacrificed, and is fast becoming artificial. Climates are changing, and the face of the whole world will soon be altered. Under the murderous hand of the pioneers of civilization, the destruction of whole primeval forests is leading to the drying  up of rivers,  and  the  opening  of the Canal of Suez has changed the  climate of Egypt as  that of Panama will divert the course of the Gulf Stream.

Read more: Civilization’s Invasion of Nature

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