What is Theosophy - A Brief Outline

Jim Colbert – USA

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Most of us have a friend, relative, or an associate that at one time or another asks, “What is Theosophy?” They want to know what you are into or, even better, they may want to know if this is something they would like to know about.

If you assemble the articles and statements addressing the question “What Is Theosophy?” from just about all traditions, you may be left with the following. A dictionary definition is given, a history of the term going back to the third Century or beyond is given, impressive scholarship, with very few Theosophical ideas. The rationale, most likely, is that  we do not want Theosophy to become a dogma or a religion trying to take its place among so many others. Listing out Theosophical ideas could lend itself to this.

While the above is true, it is suggested here that we can go too far with omitting Theosophical ideas. That is, even with the outstanding scholarship and extensive statements, if some of the Theosophical ideas are not presented we may be confusing those who ask the question.

This student wrote what is meant to be a one page statement entitled a Brief Outline of Theosophy. It is mostly composed of the 3 fundamentals of The Secret Doctrine and the seven principles. The only “unique” addition was to state in the first line that Theosophy is the philosophy of transformation. If you let your mind review the Theosophical writings (e.g. reincarnation, evolution and involution, etc.) you can have the thought that we are all on a journey to the Higher Self.  In the third fundamental of The Secret Doctrine, this is called the “obligatory pilgrimage” hence the first line in our Brief Outline, Theosophy is the philosophy of transformation. In our Bhagavad Gita class we have in San Diego, California, students often ask, “Does Arjuna have to be on a journey to regain his kingdom?”  We sometimes answer “No” but it is our duty for each of us and for all of life.

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Thinking about Adyar

Tim Boyd – USA, India

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Tim Boyd

I would like to share some thoughts about Adyar for those readers who may not already know. The Theosophical Society (T S) was founded in New York City, but it moved to India, and in 1882 its Inter- national Headquarters was established where it is now, in Adyar. Although it was founded in the US, the fact of history is that it actually began to thrive and come to life in Adyar, and then the Theosophical movement spread throughout India, and around the world.

As a place, the little patch of land on our gigantic globe that we point to as “Adyar”, and as our International Headquarters, has a presence and quite a history. Just in terms of the Theosophical movement, it is the place that H. P. Blavatsky (H.P.B.) designated as the center for this movement to take its roots and go out into the world. She lived there, Col Olcott lived there, Annie Besant, J. Krishnamurti, Damodar Mavalankar, and all types of people have lived, grown, and given their impetus to this movement, drawing on something that they found peculiar to this particular place we call “Adyar.”

At Adyar my office is the space where H.P.B. used to live. It is all one big room now, but previously it was two: where she slept, and where she entertained company. My desk is ten feet from the Shrine where the letters from the Mahatmas were received. Every day I come in to the office, turn on my computer, and check my emails. Throughout most of the day I am forgetful about the nature and history of the place where I sit, but from time to time I remind myself. This place has a certain magnetism, and those who have been there are aware of it. Adyar is still the center for the theosophical movement in the world, the place from which it spread into the world, and toward which many look as an important part of this overall movement.

No matter what it is in life, the center is something of great importance, whether an atom or a galaxy, a planet or a human being. It is the center from which life is drawn and which determines the organism's activities in the world. We have such a center in Adyar. I am fortunate to connect with members around the world, and one thing I observe is that the members within the TS who have actually had the opportunity to set foot in Adyar, to take in some of the experience of the place, are some of our most active members in Sections worldwide. They have linked themselves in an intimate way with the expression and meaning of this work. Somehow the experience of this place feeds something within us.

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Thought Power and Gratitude

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy Barbara 2 Hebert
The author is National President of the TSA

Have you ever considered what it would be like to live in a state of contentment and gratitude? Most of us have definitely thought about this at times, especially in times of chaos and difficulty. As students of the Ancient Wisdom, we are encouraged to be self-observant: observant of our motivations, thoughts, feelings, and actions. These aspects of ourselves shape our perspective of the world in which we live.

Through study, we quickly become aware that our thoughts impact us as well as others. Thoughts are the glasses through which we create our world. Our thoughts manifest as vibrations of mental matter and, if definite enough, can create a form consisting of energy from the emotional and mental fields. The Mahatma KH wrote to AP Sinnett, “Thoughts are things – have tenacity, coherence, and life, – that they are real entities.” (1) In another letter to AO Hume, the Mahatma writes:

Every thought of [an individual] upon being evolved passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself – coalescing, we might term it – with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind's begetting, for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so [an individual] is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions….” (2)

These statements by the Mahatma must give us pause and compel us to “meta-think” – to think about the thoughts we think!

Read more: Thought Power and Gratitude

Sylvia Cranston – A Tribute

We remember Sylvia Cranston, AKA Anita Atkins (December 12, 1915 – June 20, 2000)

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

In previous issues of Theosophy Forward we’ve honored Theosophists such as Dr. Richard Brooks, Ianthe Hoskins, Einar Adalsteinsson, Shirley Nicholson, Paul Zwollo, Dora van Gelder-Kunz, John H. Drais, Dara Eklund and Geoffrey Farthing. In this issue we will remember Sylvia Cranston, nom de plume for ANITA ATKINS.

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Anita Atkins in England, the summer of 1978 while attending Sir George Trevelyan’s three-day Wrekin Trust Conference on Reincarnation. Here she delivered the opening lecture entitled,
The ModernReincarnation Renaissance. The photograph was taken while en route to a BBC interview

Why do we honor people? What is it that moves us to give credit and show admiration for those who are no longer on our plane? Each one of us might have a particular reason to do so, or not, but it is axiomatic that if we want to know who and where we are, we need to know where we’re from. Only thus will it be clear to us which direction our future lies. Those who left us their legacies such as their thoughts, music, paintings, sculptures or any other art form, like poetry and literature, help remind us who we are. With that awareness we are able to move forward. It is not so much the honor those who passed away took with them, but it is about the heritage they left behind. It is our privilege to benefit and be inspired by valuing that heritage.

In the land of Theosophists, we do not honor others so often since, and in my opinion erroneously, it is associated with the personal. We are told that this is what we should disengage from. However, remembering or honoring someone actually reveals much about who we are, recognizing our own here and now. Honoring past achievement, whether by someone who is with us or who is no longer with us on this plane, inspires while fulfilling our present dreams and ideals. Anita Atkins left us a phenomenal legacy, not only through what she offered to us as an author of a number of very significant books, but also through what she demonstrated as a woman and an unselfish human being who dedicated her entire life to the Cause. From what I now understand, she was hard working, modest, sincere and even a little shy, not really desiring to stand in the limelight.

A fact that is overlooked by many is that through her writings Anita Atkins actually built bridges connecting the various Theosophical streams. Although ULT based, her works were, and still are appreciated by all who are assembled in the Theosophical movement, irrespective of background or tradition. In this respect she fulfilled pioneer’s work, perhaps even without realizing that herself. As I suggested in my write up for a previous tribute, the one we paid to Geoffrey Farthing, I would argue that Anita as well would have been very pleased to see that nowadays, the various Theosophical traditions are regularly coming together on the platform of International Theosophical Conferences (ITC), sharing and studying the core of Theosophy through what H.P.B. passed on to us.

Read more: Sylvia Cranston – A Tribute

Facts you definitely need to know about Anita Atkins, the Mother of Timeless Books

Your editor writes in the TRIBUTE: “ Through the research I did for this tribute it became evident that Carey Williams (Caren Elin) not only functioned as an excellent editor and research assistant, but she was also Anita’s friend through thick and thin, until the very end of Anita’s long and productive life.”

Betty Bland, former National President of the Theosophical Society in America writes in the same TRIBUTE: ” I, personally, am forever indebted to the author and her most capable research assistant Carey Williams (AKA Caren Elin) for this entire document, footnotes, endnotes, references, and all.”

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Caren (left) and Anita, 1986, Bar Harbor Maine

Dara Eklund writes in the TRIBUTE: “During these busy years of re-issues, Caren arranged to have Anita transferred to a very lovely nursing home in Santa Barbara, where she could help see to her proper care.”

Read more: Facts you definitely need to know about Anita Atkins, the Mother of Timeless Books

The Birth of the Theosophical Movement

Sylvia Cranston – USA

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[Condensed from HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of H. P. Blavatsky, pp. 143-48, Path Publishing House, Third and Revised Edition. This excerpt is reproduced on Theosophy Forward in a slightly revised format to fit the magazine’s template. Permission is granted to reprint one time this article written and published by Anita Atkins (aka-Sylvia Cranston) to Jan Nicolaas Kind, publisher of Theosophy Forward. Copyright Owner: Dr. Caren  M. Elin, September 5, 2017].

In paging through H. P. Blavatsky’s scrapbook, the following entry is found in her handwriting under date of July 1875:

Orders received from India direct to establish a philosophic-religious Society & choose a name for it – also to choose Olcott.”

On September 7, 1875, sixteen or seventeen persons joined HPB in her rooms at 46 Irving Place to hear a lecture by George H. Felt, an engineer and architect, on “The Lost Canon of Proportion of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.” The talk was enthusiastically received, and Olcott wrote on a slip of paper: “Would it not be a good thing to form a society for this kind of study?” He handed it to William Q. Judge to pass to HPB, who nodded assent. Judge moved that Olcott be elected chairman, and he, in turn, moved that Judge be appointed secretary. The meeting was then adjourned until the following evening.

Read more: The Birth of the Theosophical Movement

A Blind Slave becomes a Famous Musician

Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams – USA

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[Condensed from Reincarnation:A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society,  pp. 152-55, Theosophical University Press, 1999 edition. This excerpt is reproduced on Theosophy Forward in a slightly revised format to fit the magazine’s template. Permission is granted to reprint one time this article written and published by Anita Atkins (aka-Sylvia Cranston) and Carey Williams to Jan Nicolaas Kind, publisher of Theosophy Forward. Copyright Owner: Dr. Caren  M. Elin, September 5, 2017].

To be born blind and in slavery in Georgia in the year 1849 was hardly a propitious entry into this world. In a magazine article, “Blind Tom: Mystery of Music,” Webb Garrison related that for business reasons, “most Georgia farmers of a century ago were very particular about their annual crop of slaves, and Perry H. Oliver, of Muscogee County, was no exception.” So, when the baby of one of his slaves was born stone blind, he was keenly disappointed. “Later, Oliver sold the mother at a slave, auction to General James Bethune of Columbus, Georgia. Then he pulled the blind youngster from hiding. ‘Here,’ he chuckled, ‘I forgot to tell you she has a boy. I’m throwing him in free’” (Coronet, July 1952). And so the poor mother with her one- year-old child was torn from her home and friends, to live among strangers. General Bethune named the boy Thomas Greene Bethune, but the world was to know him as “Blind Tom.” In her novel My Antonia, Willa Cather told a fictionalized version of his story, and called him Blind d’Arnault.

Read more: A Blind Slave becomes a Famous Musician

The Book of the Golden Precepts

Sylvia Cranston – USA

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[Condensed from Reincarnation, The Phoenix Fire Mystery, pp. 102-03, Theosophical University Press, 1998 edition.. This excerpt is reproduced on Theosophy Forward in a slightly revised format to fit the magazine’s template. Permission is granted to reprint one time this article written and published by Anita Atkins (aka-Sylvia Cranston) to Jan Nicolaas Kind, publisher of Theosophy Forward. Copyright Owner: Dr. Caren  M. Elin, September 5, 2017].

Writing of mysticism in The Varieties of Religious Experience, William James quotes several passages from H. P. Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence, a translation of a portion of “The Book of the Golden Precepts.” Commenting, James says: “There is a verge of the mind which these things haunt; and whispers therefrom mingle with the operations of our understanding, even as the waters of the infinite ocean send their waves to break among the pebbles that lie upon our shores.” [New York: Longmans, Green, 1925, p.421].

Of the same work D. T. Suzuki remarked: “I saw The Voice of the Silence for the first time when at Oxford. I got a copy and sent it to Mrs. Suzuki (then Miss Beatrice Lane) at Columbia University, writing to her: ‘Here is the real Mahayana Buddhism.’ ” [The Middle Way, August 1965, p. 90], Later reviewing William Kingsland’s biography, The Real H. P. Blavatsky [London: John Watkins, 1922], Dr. Suzuki again called The Voice of the Silence “true Mahayana doctrine,” and added:

Undoubtedly Madame Blavatsky had in some way been initiated into the deeper side of Mahayana teaching and then gave out what she deemed wise to the Western world as Theosophy ... There is no doubt whatever that the Theosophical Movement made known to the general world the main doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism, and the interest now being taken in Mahayana in the Western world has most certainly been helped forward by the knowledge of Theosophy ... As Mr. Kingsland says, ‘She did more than any other single individual to bring to the West a knowledge of Eastern religious philosophy.’ ” (The Eastern Buddhist (old series), editor, D. T. Suzuki, Vol. 5, p.572.)

Read more: The Book of the Golden Precepts

The Aching Problem of Suicide and a Remedy that Works

Sylvia Cranston and Carey Williams – USA

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[Condensed from Reincarnation:A New Horizon in Science, Religion, and Society, Ch. 22, pp. 301-08, Theosophical University Press, 1999 edition. This excerpt is reproduced on Theosophy Forward in a slightly revised format to fit the magazine’s template. Permission is granted to reprint one time this article written and published by Anita Atkins (aka-Sylvia Cranston) and Carey Williams to Jan Nicolaas Kind, publisher of Theosophy Forward. Copyright Owner: Dr. Caren  M. Elin, September 5, 2017].

Several years ago, a friend of one of the authors phoned her in a state of acute alarm. She had just discovered a suicide note written by her daughter, but the girl had yet to take her life. Something must be done fast! On two previous occasions, the girl had slashed her wrists. This time she was disconsolate over a severed love affair. A copy of Raymond Moody’s Life After Life, with the parts on suicide marked for attention, was rushed over to her house. The mother later reported that, not only did her daughter change her mind about destroying herself, she was so enthralled by other parts of this book on near-death experiences, she kept reading parts aloud to her mother.

It was with a gratifying surprise that we subsequently learned that the remedy we offered was being employed by a professional psychologist. Dr. Kenneth Ring reports this in his book Life at Death: A Scientific investigation of the Near-Death Experience (1) “Exposure to near-death research findings can apparently be helpful in reducing the likelihood of suicide. Psychologist John McDonagh practices what he calls ‘bibliotherapy’ with his suicidally-minded patients. He simply has them read Moody’s book Life After Life. His findings? It works.”

Read more: The Aching Problem of Suicide and a Remedy that Works

Disability, Karma and Meaning

Jim Colbert – USA

Theosophy DISABILITY 2 a Jim Colbert
The author Jim Colbert (1933-2019) from Julian in California, was a lifelong student of Theosophy, renowned speaker, author of many articles and the “nestor” of International Theosophy Conferences

"The soul works in a constant cycle of renewal and progress towards something, so the trick is to find out what that something is in your current life. What is the goal your soul chose in this life? What does it have planned? Why did it choose this specific life and these circumstances? What does your soul want to learn? What is it contributing?"

From: The Secret Within: No-Nonsense Spirituality for the Curious Soul by the Dutch author Annemarie Postma.

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The question of – why I am disabled and others are not – haunts many people who have been visited by disability. Why me? Is there a special meaning I need to understand? If so, what is it? Of course, these questions go far beyond disability. The feeling of, ‘I feel that I am supposed to do something with this life’, but ‘I am not sure what it is’ – is a lament of many.

Disability involves a degree of suffering. Certainly the 80% of the over six million disabled persons living in 3rd World Countries can be offered as evidence. Those living without money or a support system are often hungry and living in an endless cycle of deprivation. The plight of the disabled carries with it a heavy load. Society as a whole looks on disability with downcast eyes. Despite important federal legislation in the United States, the employment rate for the disabled is 41%. Most are supported through government funds. Given enough money and a supportive family, many disabled people can do well, adjusting to the disability and being independent. But, the majority of the disabled in most of the world live without funds or support. For those that do have support, it is usually friends or family, on whom a great toll is placed to provide care. Disability, then, not only involves millions of sufferers, but millions more who are their caregivers.

According to James Carlton in his book, Nothing About Us Without Us: Disability, Oppression and Empowermen:

Handicapped people remain outcasts around the world, living in shame and squalor among populations lacking not only in resources to help them but also in understanding. And with their numbers growing rapidly, their plight is getting worse... The normal perception is that nothing can be done for disabled children. This has to do with prejudice and old-fashion thinking that this punishment comes from God, some evil spirits or magic... We have a catastrophic human rights situation... They [disabled persons] are a group without power.”

Read more: Disability, Karma and Meaning

Keep the Teachings Clear

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXIX
No. 3 (133) - Winter 1972-1973

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[Original over photo: Alfred Russel Wallace, 1823-1913. Distinguished British naturalist and scientific writer, remarkable for his unprejudiced and open mind. Friend of both H.P.B. and Col. Olcott. After reading 
Isis Unveiled, he wrote to H.P.B. in part: "... Your Book will open up to many spiritualists a whole world of new ideas, and cannot fail to be of the greatest value in the enquiry which is now being so earnestly carried on."]

It is the duty of every serious student of the Esoteric Philosophy to endeavor to give wide dissemination of its teachings whenever opportunity arises to do so. Side-stepping it, owing to possible criticism or dislike on the part of others, is a sign of moral weakness.

A careful observation of much of the written material which appears in a large number of current Theosophical periodicals and journals – with notable exceptions here and there – reveals the fact that certain basic teachings of our philosophy are either not mentioned at all or are disguised in a false attire intended to make them more palatable to the reader.

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Our Chosen Ideal

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy Our Chosen Ideal 2 HPB

Let us prepare, and let us study Truth in all its aspects, trying not to ignore any of them, if we do not wish, when the hour will have struck, to fall into the abyss of the unknown. It is useless to rely on chance, and to await the approaching intellectual and psychic crisis with indifference if not with total incredulity, saying to oneself that if worse comes to worst, the tide will carry us quite naturally to the shore; for there is a strong likelihood of the tide stranding but a corpse! The battle will be fierce, in any case, between brutal materialism and blind fanaticism on the one hand, and on the other philosophy and mysticism – that more or less thick veil of the Eternal Truth.

It is not materialism that will have the upper hand. Everyone fanatically clinging to an idea isolating him from the universal axiom – “There is no Religion higher than Truth” – will find himself separated like a rotten plank from the new ark called Humanity. Tossed by the waves, chased by the winds, buffeted by this element so terrible because unknown, he will soon find himself swallowed up.

Read more: Our Chosen Ideal

In the Light of Theosophy

[This article appeared in the August 2017 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: [ ]

Theosophy In 2 the Light of Theosophy

Are we convinced that the placard-carrying people are unable to change anything? It is probably true, and yet protests do matter. Recently, thousands of citizens gathered in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and other towns across India to express their grief at the series of communal killings in the name of the cow. It was a typical “Not in My Name” protest, not backed by any political party or organization. When people gather in large groups, they may not necessarily succeed in bringing about any change. And yet, it makes individuals feel less alone. The sight of each other, the sense of common cause and strength in numbers can be exhilarating. The general feeling is that instead of sitting at home and criticizing, it is better to go out and make yourself heard. Malcolm Gladwell points out that while social-media-enabled networked protests spread with ease, they also evaporate more easily because of the lack of a clear leader and structure.

Apart from the therapeutic value for those who participate, what do public protests achieve? Why do some movements succeed while others flounder? It is not about the numbers, the diversity or energy of the protest, explains sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. It is a complex, intertwining dynamic between the protesters and the powerful, both trying to read each other’s signals. Among other things, a a movement’s success depends upon its capacities to set the narrative.

Every protest matters. “You do not fight because you know you will win, you do it because that is all that you can do at that moment,” says filmmaker Sanjay Kak. The indignation and involvement may not be sufficient to change the situation, but it is absolutely necessary. (Sunday Times of India, July 2, 2017)

Read more: In the Light of Theosophy

Human Regeneration – part sixteen

Radha Burnier – India

[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 (discussions) is here slightly revised.]

Theosophy HR 2 Radha Burnier
Radha Burnier

In ‘Practical Occultism’, HPB writes of some basic ideas of Theosophy. The second article is on ‘Occultism versus the Occult Arts’. The occult arts are sometimes confused with Theosophy. Could we go into this problem?

RB: The occult arts are basically concerned with the siddhis. The Hindu books have classified them, for the people of India, Tibet and some of the oriental nations are very fond of classifying everything. The siddhis include the ability to become very small or large, very light or heavy, control over others, clairvoyance and so on. The word ‘siddhi’means basically: perfection, accomplishment. If you use the plural, siddhis, it means all these things. It can also be used in the singular to mean attainment, attainment of perfection. A Siddha is a perfected man; it is then a synonym for Mahatma or Mukta, a liberated man. Thus the word 'siddhi' refers to spiritual realization. Now let us go back to occultism and the occult arts.

RH: Occultism is the knowledge of all that is not perceptible to the usual physical senses. It is the perception of the realities of a subtler world than the physical. As for occult arts, you have to consider every art separately.

EA: Perhaps it is the difference between self-centered action and action which is not self-centered.

IH: Occultism is the science of the hidden side of Nature. What we perceive is very, very little of the totality of Nature and so treading the occult path is the pursuit of the reality that lies beyond the superficial form or the forms which our senses and our everyday mind are able to perceive. The simplest definition of occultism is: The science of the hidden side of nature.

With regard to the occult arts, I would refer you to HPB's essay on occultism and the occult arts. The term ‘occult arts’ is usually applied to the use, or the abuse, of power for selfish ends. It does not mean that one has to use it like that, but that is how the word ‘occultism’ in the West has taken a pejorative meaning. It has a bad flavor, a bad connotation. Occultism is often confused with occult arts. It is neither good nor bad; it is the science of the unseen. Just as with the study of the seen side of nature, e.g. chemistry, once you have discovered the of a chemical, you can use it to poison people or heal them. Occultism is neutral; it is the science of the hidden side. What you do with results of your study can be either good or bad, helpful or harmful to humanity.

Read more: Human Regeneration – part sixteen

Being and Responsibility: The Ethics of the Secret Doctrine

Joy Mills – USA

Theosophy Being 2 Joy Mills at Shebogan 1

This unique photo of Joy is from the mid 1940's as close as we could authenticate, she must haven around 23 years old. The photo was taken at a camp ground she was visiting in Shebogan, Wisconsin, USA

Our emphasis has been on The Secret Doctrine, simply because this year (written in 1988-editor)marks the centenary of its publication. But whether one thinks of one hundred years or one thousand years, these are mere numbers that have no intrinsic meaning. What is important is that we have considered together some of the fundamental principles that characterize that Wisdom Tradition. I have not intended that this would be a simple intellectual exercise. My emphasis has been on the central consideration, that what is called for is a transformation in human consciousness. This is not just a new way of thinking, although that is involved, but it is a new way of being in the world. And that means that it is not simply that we have been talking about abstractions, but about extremely practical matters.

We must look very deeply into what is the nature of our action. It sometimes appears to be easier to rearrange the furniture of the world, to shift things about a bit, than to deal with ourselves. We would like to reform everyone else and we fail to recognize that the reformation must take place within.

I think very often of the situation that is so well described in THE BHAGAVAD GITA. Arjuna represents every man, we are the modern Arjunas – the whole universe is a kind of Kurukshetra. It is a field on which all existence takes place, the field of the KURUS. And we are engaged, I think, in this battle. Now THE BHAGAVAD GITA opens with a remarkable statement. And I think it is something of which we need to be aware. Arjuna is at first at just one side of the field and this is often where we are, you see, at one side. We look across the field and see what appears to be an army arrayed against us, and we have projected unto that army feelings of hostility. Now Arjuna recognized that in that army were friends and relatives – that were elements in himself. And the armies that we face today are indeed the elements of our own nature. Arjuna had a charioteer, that is to say he recognized that there was an inner authority to whom he could turn. It is time that we recognize that in each one of us there is a similar interior authority and that if we listen closely, we will understand what is the nature of right action.

Read more: Being and Responsibility: The Ethics of the Secret Doctrine

The Seven Jewels of Wisdom – The two paths, the sixth Jewel

By the editors of Lucifer – the Netherlands.

[This is a reprint from Lucifer – the Messenger of Light, an original publication of I.S.I.S. Foundation, i.e. International Study-centre for Independent Search for truth. The editor is grateful for the permission given to make this important paper available for all readers of Theosophy Forward.]

Theosophy The 2 Seven Jewels  thetwopaths

The five Jewels we have discussed already describe the inner path, the path of developing consciousness. The sixth Jewel presents us with this essential question: why do we follow the path of inner growth? What is our motive? The sixth Jewel of Wisdom teaches us that there is a choice that has great moral consequences.

We can enlarge our consciousness from two fundamentally different motives. If we strive for spiritual peace for ourselves, then we walk, as we call it, the Everyone-for-himself Path. If we continue on that path throughout our lives, we will eventually achieve spiritual enlightenment: Buddhahood. We enter the super spiritual condition of Nirvana (which after all was the only goal) — and disappear from the stage of life.

But if it is our goal to help our fellow pilgrims on the arduous path of evolution, then we walk the Path of Compassion, or in other words, the Path of self-forgetfulness. We will also achieve inner growth, but this is not a goal in itself, but a means: the means by which we can help others with more insight. Then our growth is essentially a byproduct of our servitude to our fellowmen. Then we walk the path that all great Sages and Teachers of mankind have walked before us. We will also eventually reach the high condition of spiritual enlightenment (Buddhahood), but we will refuse to enter Nirvana, because we want to remain active within this Planet, for the benefit of all that lives. This is the noble sacrifice that the Buddha of Compassion makes.

We see that both paths lead to inner growth. But the Buddha of compassion was able to overcome all feelings of separateness and merged into Oneness; the Buddha for-himself-alone failed in that respect. The final results, therefore, are essentially different.

Read more: The Seven Jewels of Wisdom – The two paths, the sixth Jewel

The First Object of the Theosophical Society

Tim Boyd – USA

Theosophy The First Obj
Tim Boyd

© Richard Dvořák

The Theosophical Society has three declared Objects of which the first is the most important: “To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color.” The second and third are also important, but they both relate to the first. The emphasis seems to be placed on various ways of understanding Oneness. When the first Object was first expressed in 1875, the times were very different from now. If we think of the context of the time in which these ideas appeared, Universal Brotherhood was a revolutionary concept.

In 1875 when the Society was founded in New York City it was just ten years after the abolition of slavery in the United States. Ten years earlier the laws of the land allowed someone to buy another person of African descent, and treat them like any other piece of property – no different from a horse, a cow, or a pig. It was a challenging time to introduce an idea that said: “Regardless of race or religion, there is a human Universal Brotherhood.” Part of the role of the reintroduction of Theosophy and the beginning of the Theosophical Society was to prepare the ground for a future moment.

Read more: The First Object of the Theosophical Society

Geoffrey Farthing – A Tribute

We remember Geoffrey Farthing (1909 – 2004)

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

In previous issues of Theosophy Forward we’ve honored Theosophists such as Dr. Richard Brooks, Ianthe Hoskins, Einar Adalsteinsson, Shirley Nicholson, Paul Zwollo, Dora van Gelder-Kunz, John H. Drais and Dara Eklund. In this issue we will remember Geoffrey Farthing.

Theosophy A Tribute GF 1 B
Geoffrey Farthing

In February 2000, in a widely-distributed letter, among other things, Geoffrey Farthing wrote to his many friends all over the world:

After fifty years of fairly intense study I have come to the conclusion that the original outpouring of occult knowledge from the Masters, to the extent that they then gave it out, was a unique world event. It has not been properly appreciated as such.

In the statement above the reader gets a pretty good insight on where Geoffrey stood when it came to the core-teachings as he understood them, and it is no secret that over the years he had developed a strong opinion regarding what he would describe as Theosophy’s “second version” as presented by Annie Besant, C.W. Leadbeater and others. His stance was clear: there was, according to him no doubt, and more than once he pointed out that under no circumstance was he able to merge the teachings as they were passed on to us by H. P. Blavatsky, and those which came in later years through the publications of Besant and Leadbeater. We now know that Geoffrey didn’t come to this conclusion easily, it took him time and deep study, but eventually it all came together for him.

Because of this, for some in the Adyar environment he therefore had become somewhat controversial in particular because he would not make a secret of his convictions. He openly conveyed his ideas and interpretations though many articles and outstanding books. He also wrote letters to his contacts around the globe and undertook lengthy and sometimes intense email correspondence with the leadership of the TS-Adyar in India.

Read more: Geoffrey Farthing – A Tribute

As One Grows Older

Geoffrey Farthing – England

[In this thought-probing article in The Theosophist (Adyar), December 1983, the author’s openings paragraphs challenge the reader with questions that should be of interest to every student of Theosophy. Space permits quoting only these, and then the final paragraphs of the article.]

We sometimes read in the Section magazines how our members found the Theosophical Society andwhat it means to them. But how often do we read of how their view of it, and its meaning for them, changes as they grow older and can look back over many years of study and contemplation?

We are told that our Theosophy must change with the times we live in or its message will not appeal to the people of our age or of future ones. How can we reconcile this with H.P.B.’s view of Theosophy – that it is an expression of “the eternal verities”? Does it not look as if, although presentations of Theosophy may – even must – change, and certainly that our views of it may alter, “the eternal verities” are themselves immutable? But what are these eternal verities? Many of us spend our lives finding out – that is, if we are interested enough.

Read more: As One Grows Older

The Uniqueness of Theosophy

Geoffrey Farthing – England

In these latter days Theosophy as such, i.e. as given us by the Masters directly or through H. P. Blavatsky, is seldom seriously studied. These original teachings have become ousted by or confused with later teachings, mostly personalized views but some claiming direct inspiration from a Master or Masters. Those who subscribe to these later teachings are content that they have authentic material. That there are radical differences between their views and Theosophy proper could for them be somewhat disquieting but for the most part they are ignorant of the differences.

So what does Theosophy have that the others have not? First, we must understand it as a great outpouring at the end of the nineteenth century of some knowledge of true Occultism or aspects of the Wisdom Religion of which some parts had never before been made public in the history of the world. The release of information was against the tenets and beliefs of established religious teachings, philosophies, even scientific writings, at that time. The religious systems then existing included the great scriptures of India. There had been traditional teaching by gurus in the Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, Zoroastrian and Jain modes for centuries if not millennia. In one way or another these scriptures and those of some other religions included ideas of a transcendental Deity, reincarnation, and Karma particularly as it related to individual men. The great world Teachers were true mystics, and in their schools and ashrams they brought many hundreds of aspirants up through various degrees of enlightenment up to even the highest.

It could be argued that these teachings are sufficient in themselves and that they are all we need to know of Theosophy, but are they? Against this historical background let us see what happened at the end of the nineteenth century. We know that at that time there was a considerable and widespread interest in spiritualism, of which there were various branches. Some were concerned only with phenomena, others attempted to establish a kind of philosophical religious system which demonstrated survival after death. These ideas were merged with those of the then traditional ideas of an anthropomorphic Deity, which was particularly prominent in the current ideas on heaven. There were also some ‘occult’ or secret societies, all operating independently of one another and each with its characteristic literature, teachings and practices.

Read more: The Uniqueness of Theosophy

To Promote Further The Unity Of The Movement

Geoffrey Farthing

[The following proposal has been received from a former General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in England (Adyar), and author and lecturer. It was addressed to the Presidents of the United Lodge of Theosophists, Theosophical Society in America (Pasadena), and Theosophical Society (Adyar), and also, though not a President of any Theosophical Society, to me, probably as President of Point Loma Publications, Inc., and editor of The Eclectic Theosophist. We feel Eclectic readers will be interested in Mr. Farthing’s broad proposals, and it is hoped that the Presidents of the various Theosophical bodies will respond by sharing their constructive ideas on this subject affecting importantly the whole Movement.]

There are now a number of attempts to draw the elements of the Theosophical Movement together by way of networking, common conferences, interchange of correspondence, etc. I am making a suggestion which I hope you will put to your Governing Body that, in order to promote further the unity of the movement, any person who subscribes to any one of the larger, recognized organizations should automatically become a member of all the others if he so wishes.

Read more: To Promote Further The Unity Of The Movement

An Outline Of The Ancient Wisdom – The Ancient Wisdom Tradition

Geoffrey Farthing – England

The Ancient Wisdom has always been in the world. It is knowledge of the nature of things and of human nature. It is the Wisdom of understanding and compassion, of which all of us feel in need in the depths of our being. If what follows seems somewhat impersonal and technical, it is because much information is being given in a relatively short space, but a careful reading will show its relevance and significance to each of us personally. To be wise we have to learn to apply the principles of the Ancient Wisdom to the detailed circumstances of our lives. In this Wisdom we sense our own strength, our own self-sufficiency. It gives us hope and the courage and determination to face life, however hard. Let us never belittle our inherent powers

"I said, Ye are gods." (John x, 34)

The Wisdom

The Ancient Wisdom is knowledge, in depth, of the nature and processes of the Cosmos as a living whole. This knowledge in the present time is represented in part by that of modern science, of religion and of philosophy, but science and religion are at times mutually antagonistic. The Ancient Wisdom claims to be interested in truth as represented by what is, as opposed to any dogmatic statement of truth, on whatever authority. And there is only one Truth. Truth cannot be contradictory.

Read more: An Outline Of The Ancient Wisdom – The Ancient Wisdom Tradition

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