Theosophy

Wanted: A Higher Sense Of Ethics

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

Theosophy BdZ b

[Original cover photo of Theosophia, the magazine in which this article was publshed

When the historian of the future appraises the era we live in today, it is more than likely that he will set down its main characteristics to have been a widespread downfall of ethics, emotional instability, and a loss of reliable ethical standards, resulting in mental and emotional confusion.

Read more: Wanted: A Higher Sense Of Ethics

What Theosophy Is and Where It Is Going

James Colbert – USA

Theosophy Tribute 16 120

Jim, the family man, here with great-granddaughter, Persephone Bebo, at Christmas of 2018, 6 weeks before he passed away

Theosophy offers fundamental principles that enable us to approach an understanding of the universe and ourselves. These principles open an inclusive connection and unity with life; they reveal a harmony of physical and moral law and affirm meaning; they give recognition to the continuous journey of each being through greater levels of awareness.

Read more: What Theosophy Is and Where It Is Going

Are We Pacifists?

Tim Boyd – USA, India

Tim Boyd mercoled

The author

During the question-and-answer period at a recent meeting in Europe, I was asked, “Are we pacifists?” The question was prompted by two things. Although it was not my subject, during the course of talking to the group I had made some general mention of war. Another motivation for the question, which I discovered later, was that the outbreak of armed conflict in Ukraine had caused a division of opinions among the local Theosophical Society (TS) group, and the imprimatur of the International President was being sought. At the meeting I shared my initial thoughts, but the question stuck in my mind.

Read more: Are We Pacifists?

Religion and Music – part three

Annie Besant

Theosophy AB RM 2

As the more delicate and finer sequences of sounds are produced in music, the subtle body is affected in its finer grades of matter, and similarly more massive harmonics affect the coarser grades. Hence, when this is thoroughly understood, as by a trained occultist, the vibrations can be chosen with reference to the results they produce, and we have the science of mantras, while people of lesser knowledge can produce lesser results. Emotions of any grade can thus be initiated or stimulated, and as the music is made to express finer and finer emotions, especially those of self-sacrificing love and self-surrendering devotion, responsive, sympathetic thrilling may be set up in the buddhic body — the ânanda-maya-kosha — and, lifted on the wings of the vibrations that are music, a man may reach the threshold of the spiritual world. Thus, music subserves religion both in eastern and western lands. In the West, the greatest musicians have strained their powers to express in sequences of sounds the highest emotions of man [and even animals and plants], and if you have ever the opportunity of listening to one of the Masses written by the noblest Western masters of the divine art, you will find that, though you may be ignorant of Latin and unaccustomed to the use of chords, the charm of the music will gradually steal over you, you will feel soothed and quieted, apt for meditation, and perhaps your eyes will fill with tears. . . .

Read more: Religion and Music – part three

Gossip (In the Light of Theosophy)

Theosophy Gossip 2 

Gossip is defined by some as “Any talk about people who are not present.” It appears that not all gossip is bad, though we may have been taught from childhood that “If you do not have anything nice to say, do not say anything.” It can be positive, neutral or negative and we should try to quash the mean-spirited gossip. For some of us hearing and telling scandalous stories might mean guilty pleasure but “gossip is by no means a black-and-white affair. We have a natural need for human connection, and gossip feeds that, for good and ill. Much depends upon the motivation of the gossiper: are they aiming to warn people about a bad actor, or are they enjoying the malicious pleasure of spreading a harmful story?” writes Katherine Ashenburg.

Read more: Gossip (In the Light of Theosophy)

Australian Indigenous Religion: Perspectives from Theosophy

Bernard S. Parsons - Australia

Theosophy ABO 2 A Elderr

Aboriginal elder

Australian Aboriginal peoples have the world’s oldest continuous culture stretching back into the mists of time at least 40,000 years on the archaeological record, and, according to Theosophy, very much longer. Unlike the modern world with its many conflicting religions, the Australian Aboriginal peoples in traditional times did not have any ‘religion’ separate from everyday life. There were no ‘churches’ or ‘temples’ outside of sacred natural places. Their whole life was geared to their understanding of Nature as a living being and therefore every daily routine was ‘religious’ observance in this highest sense.

Read more: Australian Indigenous Religion: Perspectives from Theosophy

Religion and Music – part two

Annie Besant

Theosophy AB b

iHarmony is a science, and a difficult science, and a man who is a master of it has to know every note in relation to other notes, and to blend the notes in such a way and in such a sequence that the ear is utterly satisfied and content with the whole complicated mass of sounds. If a discord is introduced, as it often is, to make the chord yet richer, then it must ever be resolved, so that the momentary shock to the ear is followed by a yet more exquisite delight. Two notes that, apart from all others, would cause you to stop your ears if struck together, scientifically dealt with, yield a keener pleasure. The discord must never be left a discord, it must not close the phrase; it must be resolved into a harmonious chord, and add a new joy.

Read more: Religion and Music – part two

What Music Teaches Us about Presenting Theosophy

Edi Bilimoria – England

Music is not mere entertainment or just a pleasurable distraction when we have finished with the more serious side of life. Nor are opera, dance, and ballet just the elitist pursuit of the social dilettante. Music expresses the deepest core meaning of living and learning. For example, Handel, whose tremendous oratorio The Messiah has uplifted the consciousness of humanity for centuries, is supposed to have declared that his purpose was to make people better, not just to entertain them. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out at the London premier of The Messiah, King George II rose to his feet and remained standing until the end of the chorus. To this day, audiences spontaneously revere this Chorus by standing up.


Handel

Of course, music like any of the arts, may hinder the seeker. Sensual or nerve-jarring cacophony, such as that at a disco, is a hindrance and arguably even a physical and moral danger to a sensitive person. But as elevating feeling by music is a yoga path to a perfect connection between the divine and the human, music is not only a form of expression but a means of lifting thought and feeling to the higher realm of illumination.

johann sebastian bach
Bach

Read more: What Music Teaches Us about Presenting Theosophy

Head Injuries (In the Light of Theosophy)

brain injuries 

In rare cases, traumatic head injuries give rise to remarkable creative talents in victims. There are several examples of the same. There is the case of a person who asked his friend to toss him the football while he was standing above the shallow end of the swimming pool. When he tried to catch the ball, he splashed through the water and his head slammed into the pool’s concrete floor. The doctors diagnosed a severe concussion. He suffered severe hearing loss in one ear, memory loss and headaches. A few days later when he visited his friend he spotted a piano in his house, and began to play. He had never played a piano before, nor had he the slightest inclination to, and yet his fingers seemed to find the keys by instinct. How was this possible? When he consulted Dr. Darold Treffert, an expert on savant syndrome, now retired from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, he diagnosed him with acquired savant syndrome, a condition in which individuals who are typically mentally impaired demonstrate remarkable skills.

Read more: Head Injuries (In the Light of Theosophy)

Religion and Music – part one

Annie Besant

Theosophy AB 2 Saraswati goddess of music

To be a master in music, both in its theory and its execution, demands the whole devotion of a life, and my life has been given to other aims, dedicated to other objects. Music is verily an expression of the Divine Beauty, and is a worthy object for the study of a lifetime; but by me, who am only a worshipper of the Beautiful, and not one of its consecrated Priesthood, no exposition of it as an art or as a science can be made. I must consider it from the standpoint of the Occultist, not from that of the Artist. . .

Read more: Religion and Music – part one

Intelligent Pathways In Science

David M. Grossman – USA

pierret

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience 

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 

The science of penetrating the outer facades of existence is the process of realizing that all people, regardless of race, intellection, imagination, shape, or disposition, religion or political persuasion are our brothers and sisters. There is an intimate interconnection between us, and we have an innate responsibility toward each other as well. We effect others by the  way we live our lives and likewise others effect us whether we personally know them or not. We are all emanations of the same essential source, both matter and Spirit. Humanity has chosen to ignore this fact to a critical degree. This is essentially why there is so much suffering and division in the world. 

Read more: Intelligent Pathways In Science

Pondering HPB and The Secret Doctrine

Ananya Sri Ram – USA  

Theosophy Ananya 2

As we approach the third biennial forum on The Secret Doctrine (held October 26-29 2023 at the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California and via Zoom), it seems appropriate to highlight just a few thoughts about H. P. Blavatsky’s monumental work with help from the Quest book H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine. It may be safe to say that some members of the TS are familiar with the work known as The Secret Doctrine, but have little understanding of what the secret doctrine is. This does not diminish either the curiosity about the work, nor does it hinder serious students of Theosophy from delving into the maze of it. Study classes, self-study courses, articles, as well as several books have been designed to help guide students in their study of The Secret Doctrine. The question always remains: where does one begin?

Read more: Pondering HPB and The Secret Doctrine

Afterlife Stages in the Mahatma Letters

Antti Savinainen – Finland

Theosophy A 2

The author

Introduction 

The Theosophical Masters K. H. (Koot Hoomi) and M. (Morya) wrote the so-called Mahatma Letters (denoted in this article as ML) to the British journalist A. P. Sinnett between 1880 and 1884. These letters addressed central teachings in Theosophy, many of which dealt with the stages through which a deceased individual passes during the afterlife. The Theosophical author Geoffrey Farthing (1909–2004) compiled the afterlife teachings of these letters into a small booklet called When We Die, which also includes some quotes from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky (1831–1891) on the subject.

In this article, I will compare the afterlife stages described in the Mahatma Letters with those of Pekka Ervast (1875–1934), who was a pioneer in the Finnish Theosophical movement. Ervast gave many lectures on death, a compilation of which is published in From Death and Rebirth (Marjanen et al.).

Read more: Afterlife Stages in the Mahatma Letters

Gratitude - (In the Light of Theosophy)

 gratitude appreciation article

Gratitude ... be Thankful

[This article appeared in the June2023 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:  https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html]

“Being grateful for all that silently works in our lives, and ignoring what does not, will reverse our default state of ignoring what works, and resisting what does not,” writes Suma Varughese, from her personal experience.

Read more: Gratitude - (In the Light of Theosophy)

Individuation and Global Responsibility: The Subtle Magic of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Mandela — Part two

James Tepfer – USA

JT

The author lecturing at Adyar 

III. “Statesmen as Magicians of the Heart”

We are now going to invoke the blessings of the râja rishis of ancient times; the king-initiates referred to by Krishna in the Bhagavadgitâ when he points to the guruparampara, the sacred, spiritual lineage of enlightened teachers of which the râja rishis are an integral part. The king-initiates of ancient epochs exemplified the divinity as well as the dignity of true royalty, of enlightened rulership for the welfare of all. These eminent Kshatriyas exemplified all the sublime virtues and cultural graces which we yearn for in our turbulent times. Despite our authentic longings, we might easily doubt that such selfless individuals could actually exist untarnished in the political realm. Is it possible, we wonder, for even the most sincere politician to be both a wise witness and a just participant in the complex world of modern politics? Yes, it is possible as we will see.

Read more: Individuation and Global Responsibility: The Subtle Magic of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Mandela —...

Altruism and Service on the Spiritual Path

Barbara Hebert – USA

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Wonderful interview Erica Georgiades did some time ago with Barbara Hebert, click om the image to watch

In Volume XII of the Collected Writings, H.P. Blavatsky talks about altruism as a key component of being a theosophist. She writes:

He who does not practice altruism; he who is not prepared to share his last morsel with a weaker or poorer than himself; he who neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation, or creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a deaf ear to the cry of human misery; he who hears an innocent person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does not undertake his defense as he would undertake his own––is no Theosophist.

Read more: Altruism and Service on the Spiritual Path

Relationships – (In the Light of Theosophy)

Theosophy Relationships b

[This article appeared in the May 2023 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link:  https://www.ultindia.org/current_issues.html]

Relationships are necessary for our survival. We may seek loving relationships. However, when our love and care fail to be reciprocated as expected, we begin to realize that toxic relationships also have their place in our life. “Often the one you have deeply trusted will help you badly, and the one you have mostly ignored will stand up for you in your hour of need,” writes Shivi Verma. Such experiences drive people to shun human relationships and to seek peace in aloneness. However, it is futile to look for a perfectly harmonious relationship, as in every relationship there is bound to be an element of annoyance, irritation or something that creates a void in one’s heart with regard to that person. “However, the same relationships also become the barometer by which you can mark your spiritual growth.”

Read more: Relationships – (In the Light of Theosophy)

Simplicity, Patience and Compassion – Part three

Andrew Rooke – Australia

Theosophy Simplicity b Lao Tse

The Chinese Taoist sage, Lao Tze, says: "Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world."

But what exactly is Compassion?

‘Compassion’ is derived from the Latin com with + pati to bear, or suffer. Literally then, the capacity of ‘feeling with’, sympathetic understanding; the feeling of one’s unity with all that is, resulting in an “intimate magnetic sympathy with all that is.” There seem to be two aspects to compassion as stated by Lao Tzu: • Compassion towards yourself and your own failings encourages empathy, sympathy and understanding of the situation of others and a natural desire to help. • We could say compassion is feeling sympathy and empathy with the form we all share that makes us all human and also an understanding that we are all united in the higher level of our Being. The joy of Being beyond form.

Read more: Simplicity, Patience and Compassion – Part three

Men to Match the Atom!

Boris de Zirkoff

Theosophy BdZ b

[Note from the editor: de Zirkoff wrote and published this article in THEOSOPHIA, during the summer of 1957, at height of the cold war with fear for a worldwide nuclear conflict over 65 years ago now. It is evident however that many of the statements the author makes are fully applicable in 2023. Science is supposed to be our greatest ally, but what have we, human beings, used science for? Of course many significant achievements were made, but at the same time a very dark shadow is hanging over the use of science in our day and age. Its pure materialistic approach has darkened many people’s vision and clouded their understanding. Through the use of internet, computers, smartphones, social media and you name it, mankind is impressively interconnected but it is also terribly disconnected, and that is the perfect paradox, not to speak of the lurking dangers of Artificial Intelligence. De Zirkoff in 1957 clearly points out what the perils are we have to be on the lookout for. JNK]

+++++++

Read more: Men to Match the Atom!

Editorial – How Do You "Do" Theosophy?

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

The Society 2 Editorial
How ….?

It is often overlooked that Theosophy is a system of thought especially designed to make us aware that the only valid reason we’re here on this blue marble called Earth, is to serve and help others. In this material jungle of ours it is all about winning, our countries first, us against them, causing an acceleration of divisive thinking. In this context, I not seldom hear that many in our circles are preoccupied about the raison d'être of the TS or Theosophy even. They claim that the TS, 120-130 years ago, had something special or ‘new’ to share with the world but now that is all different. There are so many ‘spiritual’ organizations active who have continued the spreading of that what made the TS so unique many decades ago. This stance is quite incorrect and it demonstrates that many might not have fully understood what Theosophy and their vehicles stand for in this day and age.

The state of affairs in the world around us is murky and while we are supposed to live in the shelter of each other, the obvious communion with others is hopelessly disturbed, under threat and overshadowed by ignorance and greed. Educational systems that were developed over the last 50 to 80 years are solely focused on modifying young world citizens into vicious competitors aiming for the ‘ultimate’ objectives in life: money, more money, status, and the latest smart-phone. The world, rapidly turning into a global village, is filled up with millions who are entangled in the shackles of materialism.

Truth and decency have made room for alternative facts and vulgarity, the existing systems and their tireless collaborators are out there doing their utmost to keep the train to nowhere running at high speed. Theosophists ‘in doubt’ ought to realize though, that if ever there was a moment for a Theosophical movement, or, if you wish, Theosophy, it is right now at this very moment.

Read more: Editorial – How Do You "Do" Theosophy?

Individuation and Global Responsibility: The Subtle Magic of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Mandela — Part one

James Tepfer – USA 

TEPFER 1

James Tepfer, a deep student and gifted speaker, delivering his talk during the147th International Convention at Adyar

1. Acknowledgements:

I would like to begin by extending my gratitude to Tim Boyd our International President who works tirelessly for that noblest of all human Causes, universal brotherhood. I would also like to offer the garland of gratitude to all those luminous teachers of the past who gave us soul-saving teachings and were such resplendent examples of the spiritual life: Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Mahavira, Mohammed and a constellation of other wise and compassionate teachers. Each one promulgated some facet of Theosophia, the Wisdom-religion. And every single devotee of these pristine religions contributes, to and enriches the legacy of, humanity, as we move into the uncharted waters of the future. In this deeper sense, there is no such thing as a non-theosophist. We are all seekers of spiritual truths and we are all brothers and sisters of the human family.

Read more: Individuation and Global Responsibility: The Subtle Magic of Lincoln, Eisenhower, and Mandela —...

The Subtle and Sublime Anarchy of Universal Brotherhood

Jonathan Colbert – USA  

Theosophy JC b JON Theosophy Tribute 3 120 Jon

Jonathan on the right with his father, Jim Colbert, the nestor of organic cross pollination, "switching chairs" at home in Julian, California

[Extracts from “Alas and After… In Search of the Dynamics of Unity” by Jonathan Colbert]

Without self-awareness and vigilant mindfulness of the spiritual fact of unity, efforts towards reunification and cooperation cannot help but risk degradation into the more entropic and conservative factional motivations of self-preservation and consolidation. If theosophists, then, are to continue the noble objective of opening doors, clarification as to motives, means and methods will become increasingly crucial. A powerful lens for the individual and institutional self-examination that is needed, was given as early as 1890, in an address by Bertram Keightley in New York City to the Aryan T.S. entitled, “The Objects of the Theosophical Society.” His thesis is that critical to the theory and practice of the 1st Object, Universal Brotherhood, is the artful practice of the 2nd and 3rd Objects. Keightley writes:

...instead of our three Objects being, as often erroneously supposed, separate, distinct, disconnected, they are in truth intimately and vitally related to each other: the Second and Third Objects of the Society indicating the only lines upon which we may reasonably hope to achieve the ultimate realization of our grand ideal, the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity.                                                                                                                                         The Theosophist, September 1890

Read more: The Subtle and Sublime Anarchy of Universal Brotherhood

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