How To Move Forward? The Future of Theosophy
Published: Sunday, 13 September 2009 03:00
Padmanabhan Krishna – India
Prof. P. Krishna is currently in charge of the Krishnamurti study center at the Rajghat Education Center of the Krishnamurti Foundation India in Varanasi, India. He has written articles and books on various issues relating to the teachings of J. Krishnamurti. P. Krishna has lectured worldwide, and is a life member of the Theosophical Society.
When the founders started the Theosophical Society in the nineteenth century, they had a deep insight. They realized that religious truths, like scientific truths, are universal but more difficult to perceive since our preconceptions and limited experiences inhibit us from seeing the whole as it is and force us into a particular point of view. Our thoughts and intellect are limited because they depend on our memories and experience, both of which are necessarily limited. To perceive the actual truth, we must go beyond these limitations by eliminating all restrictive illusions from the mind.
Therefore the founders posited truth as the highest religion and regarded different religions as only approaches to it. One of the great fundamental truths they realized was that all human beings are essentially the same, brothers irrespective of where they are born or grow up. They did not posit this equality as an ideal to be achieved in the future but as a truth to be seen and realized here and now. There is nothing between the truth and ourselves except our own conditioning, which is different for different people and which colours our perceptions. One could say that truth comes into existence only when a consciousness perceives a fact without any distortion. To free our mind of all distortion or illusion is therefore the true religious quest, and it is synonymous with the quest for truth. This quest is nondenominational as it does not really matter which particular illusions I have to free myself from.
Madam Blavatsky clearly stated that Theosophy is not a religion, but is “the essence of all religion” (Key to Theosophy, 58). This was a remarkable insight far ahead of the times because even today humanity has not realized that the ultimate truth is universal. They mostly agree that there is only one science—there is no American science and Indian science—but they do not think so about religion. They agree that nature operates the same way everywhere, but they do not think so about human consciousness.
We therefore divide ourselves as belonging to different beliefs, which are acquired after birth and depend on the environment in which we grow up. Those beliefs are not truths; they are our particular brand of illusion. Fortunately, illusion is something that can be ended by perceiving what is true and what is false. Therefore one needs to posit the truth as the unknown and to have an inquiring, learning mind which is constantly discerning what is true from what is false, without adhering to any particular opinions, especially one’s own.
If we posit Theosophy as the human wisdom which resides in any mind that frees itself from all illusion and which is in actual perceptual contact with the eternal and universal truths, then there is no such thing as a future of Theosophy. The eternal, unchanging universal truths can have no future. Truth is not just a correct idea about facts, it is the direct perception of facts without any distortion. This is the essential distinction between religious truth and so-called philosophic truth. It is the direct perception of eternal truth that transforms our consciousness, not the idea of the truth. The professor of Buddhist philosophy is not the Buddha! The true religious quest is for transformation of consciousness, not just a transformation of ideas or beliefs. There is only one religious mind, which is the essence of all religions and that essence we call Theosophy.
In each one of us is the universal consciousness as well as an individual conditioned consciousness. A Theosophist is one who is acutely aware of this fact and therefore not trapped in his individual consciousness. It is only the universal awareness in us that can come in contact with the universal truths which are the essence of Theosophy. We can only live with the wisdom we have. However, our wisdom is not a static thing if we live with a learning mind that is constantly discerning what is true from what is false, thereby ending the false. The Theosophical mind lives not with beliefs and conclusions but with questions, constantly exploring and pushing the boundary between the known and the unknown.
If one reads the writings of Madam Blavatsky and Annie Besant, one finds that they were acutely aware of all this and have explicitly stated it in their works in many places, never considering themselves to be authorities to be believed in. If the Theosophical Society creates new beliefs, new authorities, and new rituals it will reduce Theosophy to a new religion. All religions have undone the teachings of their originator, and we will be making the same mistake. So, brothers and sisters, the future of the Theosophical Society depends on us, not on the so-called leaders. It will be what we make of it. It can be a major force for the quest of truth in this world, or it can become mired in a new set of illusions.