Dolores Gago – Uruguay
The Theosophical Society was founded during a period of risky materialism on one side and a dangerous inclination to dogmatism on the other. In many associations the very name of the institution states more or less clearly the work its members are expected to do. Curiously enough the word “Theosophy” is not included in the Society’s Objects, and furthermore those Objects are stated as “declared objects.” This makes us wonder whether the purpose of the Society is some kind of unveiling or discovery as a result of the sincerity of commitment the member decides to offer.
Therefore, the work of investigation becomes a challenge for the members of the Society. And the question arises, what are we going to investigate? It is helpful to remember the words of some of the international Presidents. Col. Olcott, during his inaugural address on 17 November 1875, said: “If I rightly apprehend our work, it is to aid in freeing the public mind of theological superstition and a tame subservience to the arrogance of science.” Annie Besant emphasized the interpretation of the first declared Object and, during her inaugural address on 26 June 1907, said: “The Theosophical Society asserts itself as a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. . . . its function is to proclaim and spread about Theosophy.” So inevitably the question arises, what is Theosophy?
In a seminar in July 1990 at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden-Holland, conducted by Mrs. Radha Burnier, President of the Theosophical Society, during which attempts were made to define “Theosophy”: “Theosophy is wisdom which is not mere knowledge. It is the kind of knowledge which finds expression in right action. Action includes not only physical action but thinking, living, in fact every movement of consciousness within each person. Discovering wisdom is therefore not different from regenerating oneself.”
Since the founding of the Society, the private investigations of its members have led to an understanding that the work of the Theosophical Society, through its members, is to spread wisdom that the many may understand, avoiding dry discussions that lead to nothing, but instead by living a kind of life that may reflect a contagious quality of happiness and acceptance of life and its mysteries, so necessary in human life. Thus we could try to practice what H. P. Blavatsky said is the purpose of studying Theosophy: teaching the animal-man to be a human-man.
Study groups should receive anyone who knocks at our doors, even to be ready to change the focus of the momentary study if the visitor puts a question more relevant to affairs of the world. Narrowness of vision paralyzes the growth of the Theosophical Society. Let us also remember that the Theosophical Society does not promote mass salvation under an infallible guru.
On the other hand, a shallow understanding of the expression “universal brotherhood” may lead to great confusion. Allowing presenters to promote any kind of so-called spiritual teachings, even if they are harmless, may lead to unbalance the purpose of the Society. This does not mean that we have arrived at the final purpose for which the Society has been founded. Since Theosophy is a living teaching, the idea of arriving at a goal is excluded We remember the wise words with which Geoffrey Hodson always started his lectures: “As I understand it now . . . .”
Each member is free to choose what to study, but it is expected that study groups consider the need of the many and of the world. A responsible study of Theosophical teachings, even if we do not understand all that we study, will convince us that it is possible to live according to them, irrespective of our surroundings, professions, and any other differences. If we aspire to make Theosophy a living force in our world, let us start by having a clear idea of the purpose for which the Theosophical Society was founded: the development of a personal commitment to devote ourselves to live a life with high regard for the great Laws that govern the Universe and a sincere feeling of compassion for all living creatures.
Annie Besant, whose life was dedicated to the welfare of humanity, wrote: “Only as you live Theosophy, can you spread Theosophy. It is not our words, it is our life that affects people.”