Jan Jelle Keppler — Belgium
Jan Jelle is the General Secretary of the Belgian Section. He has been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1976 and lives in Tervuren.
It is obvious that any moving forward for the Theosophical Society should be a moving in the direction of the objects of the TS. Most members are familiar with the three objects of the Society, which are about living the brotherhood of humanity, encouraging comparative study of religion, science and philosophy, and investigating unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man. Activities like the Society’s study groups, public lectures, and summer schools typically motivate members for the study of comparative religion and philosophy. Action thus concentrates on part of the second objective and few organized efforts are made to form a nucleus of the brotherhood of humanity or to investigate unexplained natural laws and latent human capacities.
The programming of Theosophical activities seems to follow a long standing tradition. New members sometimes notice the absence of organized activities aimed at the first and the third objects and at the scientific part of the second, but change does not seem to come easily. Encouraging a family-like atmosphere during TS gatherings and organizing group excursions are ways to try to change into a more object-oriented organization. Therefore a Theosophical practicum in which the latest scientific developments and, for instance, the results of parapsychological experiments as well as meditation techniques are introduced can also create opportunities for more participation and change.
Real change, though, is the inner transformation of the individual, which comes as the result of continuous effort of self-study, or study of wisdom-inspired scriptures. Another point, which is frequently made by new members, is the question of what precisely is meant by the word “Theosophy”, which is reflected in the Society’s name, without a definition in the Rules and Regulations of the Society.
Of course, in the book The Key to Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky explains that Theosophy is the age-old Divine Wisdom. In The Secret Doctrine (2:545), she is more precise, stating that Plato derives the word “theos” from the verb “théein” (= to run or move) and that this was an ancient Greek word used for the visible and invisible Infinitudes combined into one, the eternal circle, symbol for the movement in boundless space of the universal pure spirit. She notes that the ancient Greeks did not use the adjective “absolute” in this connection. According to esoteric philosophy, it is “the ever becoming”, “the eternal”, “perpetual motion”, “the ever universally present”, or “the ever existing”. There is a parallel with the English word “race”, which also implies a circular movement.
In the context of this article, the word “‘theos” seems to mean a continuous, fast, cyclic, forward movement, or race. “Sophia” is a Greek word for wisdom, and only the wise, who have experience of wisdom, seem to know the exact meaning of this word. Pistis Sophia is a Gnostic text about the fallen Aion (also meaning life cycle or very long period of time) Sophia, who, all by herself, created the jealous God of Genesis, and who represents faith in or knowledge of Wisdom. It is notable that right faith, right knowledge, and right action are the three jewels of the Jain religion, which lead the jiva (or soul) to omniscience and liberation.
The right direction, according to Theosophical teaching, is the direction in which every choice is made, not for the well-being of the personal self, but for the well-being of humanity in a completely nonmaterialistic way. As HPB said, “A real Theosophist is a philanthropist”. In the Buddhist eightfold path, right insight is insight into the four noble truths of the Buddha, whose teachings are summarized in the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, ending with the mantra “Gate, Gate, Paragate, Parasamgate, Bodhi, Svaha”, meaning: “Go, go, go beyond, go altogether beyond, Wisdom, let it be.”