The Theosophical Society is a world-wide organization of earnest men and women devoted to the service and betterment of the human race. Nonsectarian in the widest application of this term it has no creed, no set doctrine imposed as divinely authoritative, which must be accepted by those who wish to be theosophists. The platform of all work, study, and life, in the Theosophical Society is one of absolute freedom of conscience and investigation in all departments of life, Fellows of the Society being free to learn and to teach, on the basis of a sound ethical foundation.
While the body of teachings known as theosophy is as old as thinking man himself, yet the Theosophical Society, as an organization, is relatively speaking a new body. It was founded in New York City in 1875 by Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, who, together with Colonel Henry S. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others, laid the foundations and gave the initial impetus to a work which has since grown to be a world-wide movement. Earnest religious thinkers, profound philosophical and intellectual searchers for truth, and scientific investigators, alike, are to be found within its ranks -- all trying, to the extent of their own individual capacities and abilities, to promote the cause of universal brotherhood, and of genuine knowledge of nature, and of man as an integral and inseparable part thereof.
The chief objects of the Theosophical Society are as follows:
The theosophist is offered the profound philosophy of theosophy which is derived from that great body of truths which have been kept in the guardianship of initiates and masters of wisdom for unnumbered centuries -- truths which have been tested and proved by the greatest minds of the ages to be founded on nature herself. Its teachings embrace the universe, ranging from the simpler doctrines of reincarnation and karma, or the laws of rebirth and moral causation, and the essential divinity of all that lives, through the more complex doctrines of hierarchies, cycles, evolutionary rounds and races, globes, planetary imbodiments, solar systems and universes. From time to time, portions of this archaic wisdom religion have been given to the world in various periods by great teachers, and particularly when humanity stood in need of some new revelation or cyclical renewal of spiritual verities. The present Theosophical Movement is, in our age, the latest such renewal of the esoteric tradition, and was brought to the West by its messenger, H. P. Blavatsky.
The Theosophical Society is composed of men and women belonging to most of the civilized nations and races of the earth, the bond which binds them into one body being the common ideal of universal brotherhood a spiritual and philosophical ideal which is the fundamental principle of all theosophical work. Sincere and honest religious aspiration, sound and creative philosophical thinking, and earnest scientific investigation, together with the noblest ideals in the domain of educational activities and of artistic pursuits -- all these are of deep interest to the members of the Theosophical Society. As a Movement for the betterment of the human race, the Society feels itself allied with every honest and unselfish effort on the part of anyone, to benefit other fellow-human beings, and to promote the cause of spiritual knowledge, of intellectual enlightenment, of ethical conduct, and of peace and good-will among men.
In these days of transition from a moribund materialism to a more spiritual, intuitive and creative conception of life, there is felt a growing need for a knowledge transcending, without excluding, the purely scientific, philosophical, and religious approaches to truth. As a fundamental system of thought synthesizing all three into one harmonious unity, theosophy provides an unshakable foundation upon which to erect an all-embracing and systematic philosophy of life, leading to a direct cognition of truth and the spiritual and intellectual background for a nobler civilization.
Despite the praiseworthy achievements of physical science and the broader outlook in the sphere of religious and philosophical thought, the world, in the present period of complete revaluation of its ideals, has no comprehensive and satisfying system of intellectual and spiritual standards by which to test with confidence any new discovery in nature.
From immemorial time, and in all races of men there has been current, an intuition, an intimation, persistent and ever-enduring, that there exists somewhere a body of sublime teachings, a system of thought, which can be had by those who qualify to receive it. These vague and undying rumors, these intuitions of a universal wisdom-teaching, have appeared at frequent intervals throughout the annals of recorded history, and finding lodgment in both legend and myth, have become enshrined in the different religious and philosophical systems of mankind.
This knowledge can be had. This body of profound teachings regarding the universe does exist, and has always existed, whatever the name or term by which civilizations of men have known it. Behind the ritualistic forms of exoteric beliefs, there can be traced an unbroken thread of genuine esoteric truth whose universal postulates, unchanged through the ages, though often buried under a superstructure of fanciful speculations, represent the formulation of the facts of nature, as contrasted with mere human opinions regarding them. This system of esoteric truths is known today under the name of theosophy, and is often referred to by such other terms as the esoteric tradition, the ancient wisdom, the wisdom-religion, the secret doctrine, etc. It is the heritage of all mankind and can be uncovered in the accumulated wisdom of the past, in that system of thought and code of conduct which is at once purely religious, soundly philosophical, and strictly scientific. And for that reason it provides a satisfactory test and explanation of all discoveries in the search for truth, comprising as it does the three fundamental operations of human consciousness.
The theosophical philosophy of life is no new invention. It belongs to every age and to every race of men; it has always existed, and the greatest spiritual sages and seers of mankind have taught it in one form or another according to the times in which they lived and worked.
Theosophy is an organic system of structural teaching; it is a correlated and unified system of religio-philosophical and scientific thought, dating from immemorial time, vestiges of which are to be found the world over in the remains of all the great civilizations of the past.
While speaking of theosophy as a religio-philosophico-scientific system of thought, it should be clearly borne in mind that the theosophist makes a distinction of importance between religion, philosophy, and science per se on the one hand, and religions, philosophies, and sciences on the other hand. To him, religion, philosophy, and science are fundamentally one, though manifesting in three different yet correlated manners. They are activities of the human psychological, intellectual, and spiritual natures; and while they can be considered as three different ways of arriving at perception of truth or reality, or the heart of things, this is merely for convenience of expression. They are like the three sides of a triangle: if any one side or any two sides were lacking, the figure obviously would be de facto incomplete. Religion, philosophy, and science, per se, must unite with each other, if we wish to attain to the actual truths of nature, because our mind conceives such truths through these, its three main activities, which are essentially one because springing from the unitary faculty of understanding of which man, their originator, is in possession.
Science is an operation of the human consciousness in its endeavor to understand the How of things -- not any particular science whatsoever, but science per se, which is ordered and classified knowledge, based on research and experimentation. When the inner faculties of man's constitution operate in such fashion as to classify and record the knowledge that they have gathered from instinctive love for investigation and research into nature, and subject to measurement and category the facts and processes which nature thereupon presents to the human intellect -- that indeed is science.
Philosophy is the striving of the human consciousness to understand the Why of things -- not any particular philosophy, but philosophy per se, which represents the coordinating, correlating, and examining aspect of man's intellectual-psychological apparatus. It is that facet of human consciousness which seeks the bonds of union among things and exposes them, when found, as existing in the manifold and diverse forms of natural processes and the so-called laws which demonstrate their existence.
Religion per se is that same striving of the human spirit-mind in its yearning towards union with the Cosmic All, involving an endlessly growing self-conscious identification with the cosmic realities therein. In its correct etymological derivation, and quite apart from any specific school of religious thought, it means a careful selection of fundamental beliefs and motives by the higher or spiritual intellect, the faculty of judgment and understanding, and a consequent joyful abiding by that selection, the whole resulting in a course of life and conduct in all respects following the convictions that bad been reached. This is the religious spirit. It is the expression of that aspect of man's consciousness which is intuitional, aspirational, and devotional.
These three functional activities of man's consciousness have but one trend, because they work towards the same objective, namely, to reach the heart of things, truth, reality, and to become at one therewith. The scientist seeks truth; the philosopher searches for reality; the religionist yearns for union with the Divine. These three ideals are essentially one and differ only in the methods of attainment. Just as religion divorced from the intellectual faculty becomes superstition or emotionalism, just so does philosophy divorced from the intuitional or discriminating portion of man's consciousness become mere verbiage, neither profound nor inspired; and equally so does science, divorced from a philosophical background of thought, and the truly creative aspiration towards the attainment of the goal contemplated, become a mere accumulation of statistical data devoid of inspiration.
Therefore, theosophy is absolutely independent of, and supports none, of the established religions, philosophies, or sciences, of the past or of the present. Upholding no especial creed or belief, theosophy emphasizes no one particular school of thought, to the disregard of another. It bears towards all religions, philosophies, and sciences the same fundamental relation, namely, that it imbodies the basic religio-philosophical and scientific tenets and postulates of truth, which gave rise to the various individual religions and philosophies of the world.
Theosophy is not syncretistic, that is to say a system of thought or belief which has been put together piecemeal and consisting of parts or portions taken by some great mind from other religions and philosophies. Theosophy is that coordinated and systematic formulation of the facts of natural being, which, when expressed through the illuminated human mind, take the apparently separate forms of science, philosophy and religion. It is the formulation in human language of the truths regarding the nature, structure, origin, and destiny of the universe and the operations of natural laws inherent therein.
The theosophical teachings deal with the universe as a whole, and with man as an offspring and an integral part thereof. They tell us what man is, what his inner constitution is, how the latter is held together in a coherent unity, whence he comes, what becomes of his various constituent elements when death, the great liberator, frees the imprisoned spirit-soul. Theosophy teaches us how properly to understand men, and, understanding them, how to go behind the veil of outer appearances and under the surface of the seeming into the realms of reality. It teaches us likewise of the nature of civilizations, the productions of men; and how they arise, what they are based on, and what are the workings of the energies springing from human hearts and minds which form civilizations. It offers, moreover, an explanation of what to the materialist are the unsolved or unsolvable riddles of life, an explanation based entirely upon Mother Nature herself, which is the source and background of all our being. It gives to man an inextinguishable hope; it teaches him to live nobly and beautifully; and when the time comes for him to lay aside this present physical body how nobly to die, to look forward to death with confidence and perfect peace.
Theosophy, however, is not only a body of doctrines setting forth the spiritual, intellectual, psychical, and physical bases of the structure of the universe. It is also a great ethical teaching, and it is impossible to understand the doctrines of the ancient wisdom without the keenest realization of the fact that ethics runs like a golden thread throughout the entire fabric of thought of the esoteric philosophy. Theosophy divorced from ethics is unthinkable because impossible. There is no genuine theosophical philosophy which does not include the loftiest and noblest ethics that the moral sense of mankind can comprehend, and one cannot weigh with too, strong an emphasis upon this all-important point.
Ethics in theosophy is not merely the product of human thought conceived as a formulation of conventional rules proper for human conduct. It is founded on the very structure and character of the universe itself. The heart of the universe is wisdom and impersonal love, and these are intrinsically ethical, for there can be no wisdom without ethics, nor can love be without ethics, nor can there be ethics deprived of either love or wisdom.
Thus, ethics is seen as the offspring of all moral instincts in human beings, who derive them from the very harmony of the universe; theosophy rejecting unconditionally the belief that what is commonly known as morality is more or less that which is 'good for the community,' and is based on the idea that for human safety it is necessary to have certain abstract rules of conduct which it is merely convenient to follow, a convenience invented by man to smooth the asperities and dangers of human intercourse. Conventional rules are good and have their importance, for they put a rein upon man's vagrant and impulsive passions, and check his wandering and erratic mind; but more is required of genuine theosophists than this negative morality. In their conviction, Morality per se is that instinctive hunger of the heart to do right, to do good to all men because it is ennobling, soul-satisfying, and constructive to do so; it is an intuitive feeling for right and truth, for justice and honor, for wisdom and love.
True manhood and womanhood are founded on the moral instinct innate in every man; hence theosophy demands the highest ethics, the purest morality, a heart washed clean of all selfish yearnings, a life devoted to the service of all that lives, and a gradual and continuous growth of intellectual and spiritual faculties.
Creative spiritual life is of the essence of universal being, and is far more than a mere following of conventional rules of conduct. It means, first of all, an absolute sincerity with oneself, so that a man himself becomes his severest or first critic, then a progressive surrendering of all that is unworthy, to be replaced by whatever enriches the life, makes it fuller and vaster in reach of consciousness, thereby bringing into function and play, powers and faculties and energies which in the majority of men are but little more than dreams, or are even entirely unknown. Finally, it also means a determination of will and a direction of the mind towards a single spiritual objective.
This, of course, is the ideal. Few, among theosophists, have reached this ideal. Yet it is so beautiful and so human, that we are convinced it is possible of realization. Therefore it is an ideal towards which we strive. There is always a beginning, always a first step; and any normal human being, no matter what his weaknesses and failings, can always begin, can always take the first step. Thus, the Theosophical Society is no brotherhood of perfect saints, but one of men and women who strive to lead better and higher lives, for theosophy means bringing out the loftiest that is in man.
The genuine student of the ancient wisdom can follow no man's say-so, nor can he ever subject his will in slavish fashion to the mandates of another. Above everything else, he follows the mandates of his own spiritual consciousness, the creative will of his inmost self, with a constant eye to something still higher; and precisely because he is beginning to know self-consciously this inner power of his own being, is he able to recognize spiritual and intellectual greatness in others, and to welcome the guidance and help of those who are more advanced than himself.
In the words of H. P. Blavatsky:
. . . the first rule of the society is to carry out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood. The practical working of this rule was explained by those who laid it down, to the following effect: --
"He who does not practise 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 defence as he would undertake his own -- is no theosophist."
. . . On the day when Theosophy will have accomplished its most holy and most important mission -- namely, to unite firmly a body of men of all nations in brotherly love and bent on a pure altruistic work, not a labor with selfish motives -- on that day only will Theosophy become higher than any nominal brotherhood of man. This will be a wonder and a miracle truly, for the realization of which Humanity is vainly waiting for the last 18 centuries, and which every association has hitherto failed to accomplish.
. . . for the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonizing of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill-feeling or selfishness, charity, good-will to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to one's self, are its chief features. He who teaches Theosophy preaches the gospel of good-will; and the converse of this is true also, -- he who preaches the gospel of good-will, teaches Theosophy.
. . . The function of Theosophists is to open men's hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learned to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.
When man realizes that he is one with all that is, inwards and outwards, high and low; that he is one with all, not merely as members of a community are one, not merely as individuals of an army or of a State are one, but like the molecules of our own flesh, like the atoms of these molecules and like the electrons of the atom, composing not a mere union, but an organic unity -- then he sees truth and acts accordingly.
Believing as he does, the student of theosophy feels that men should shift their moral center of gravity to ethics, where it rightly and truly belongs, and away from possessions where it has been falsely placed during past centuries because of unfortunate contributing historical causes. It is easier by far to make such shift of values to their natural, proper, and therefore legitimate sphere, than it is to continue being involved through centuries of the future in the horrible struggles of an international character with their bitter animosities and unforgetting hatreds, their dislocations of social and political life, and the consequent misery weighing so heavily upon men. There is not a single logical or reasonable argument to be urged against this shifting in our thinking and in our feeling, except ignorance, prejudice, and dense human stupidity, due to the inertia brought about by moral somnolence and empty disbelief in our own powers to carve our destiny shapely.
It would seem to be undoubtedly true that unless there come upon the world a new outlook and a change of our habit, mental and psychical, of envisaging events through the distorted lenses of our present-day sense of values, our already badly shaken civilization runs a danger of sliding down into a welter of confusion, despair, and human misery, such as the annals of recorded history have not yet chronicled.
The root of all the world's troubles in the past has lain chiefly in the wrong centering of our human sense of permanent values. The natural and inevitable consequence has found its culmination in the present-day worldwide unrest, conflict, and the emphasis laid upon 'rights,' as contrasted with 'duties' to our fellowmen. Once our center of gravity of moral consciousness is taken from possessions as the pivot of civilization, and placed in man himself, as the center of all greatest and primal values -- the constantly recurring paroxysms of agitation, perturbation, and violence the world over will vanish away, and human relations of whatever kind, international, national, social, or political, will automatically adjust themselves to the common good, because thoughts of brotherly and humane benevolence will then be carried into constructive action. Quite apart from the individuals themselves, it is the peoples of the earth gathered into nations which must learn to look upon each other, and to treat each other, with the same decorum, high sense of honor, and instinct for mutual service, that it is customary to find among gentlemen; instead of continuing to follow courses of conduct based upon the very shaky foundations of opportunism, expediency, and convenience, that have so often governed and disgraced international relations in the past, thus presenting a picture of international morals probably far beneath even the standard held by the average man in the street.
It is Ideas that rule the world. A man's future depends upon that which his heart most loves now. If his heart is set solely upon the acquisition of personal possessions for himself and for those associated with him, how can he free himself from the bonds of personal ties of a low type, which hold him fast in the world of material attractions? It is precisely because people wrongly suppose that money is a thing in itself, and that possessions are things in themselves of absolute value, that these last feeble instruments and products of human endeavor have their grip on mankind and wield their sway over human hearts. The remedy is simple, and practicable, and it lies in a shifting of our center of gravity of consciousness from possessions and profit to ethics and mutual service. There is no ostensible, indeed no actual, reason why nations should follow courses which even the average man would consider disgraceful in his own case. The whole secret lies in a change of outlook, in a change of vision; and then the apparent difficulties will be understood for what they are, namely illusions; and they will be gladly cast aside for the standards prevailing along the pathway of safety, progress, happiness, and peace.
The world is rapidly moving towards a time -- provided its course be not interrupted or broken by some catastrophe -- when it will be recognized far more keenly than now [1940s] it is, that every human being has an inherent right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," and that it is one of the noblest duties of an enlightened State not merely to provide equal opportunities for all, but actively to aid those who, from one cause or another, often greatly to their credit, are not accumulators of mere possessions.
The spirit of universal brotherhood, not as vague sentimentalism, but as a recognition of human solidarity based on nature's own operations, is the very keynote of any true civilization, and without it no civilization can endure.
The Theosophical Society has nothing to do whatsoever with any of the so-called psychic practices or occult or magical arts. While recognizing 'psychic phenomena' as actualities of nature, genuine theosophy of the archaic ages endorses none of the current practices of so-called psychic powers, points to the extreme danger involved in their haphazard investigation, and explains to anyone who is willing to listen, the rationale of such practices and phenomena, and their rightful place in the general structural scheme of the universe.
The reason for this lies in the fact that the so-called occult arts or occult practices which the soi-disant magicians of all times and of all parts of the earth have followed, some with relative success in small ways and some with none, lie on the frontiers only of the great truths of universal being. Psychic phenomena are merely the action in and through man of certain little understood and very minor powers of his constitution, and this is all. They are very far from being things or objectives that man should strive for. They are not worth the game, and, what is much worse, they distract the attention of the genuine student away from the great realities, instead of expanding the mind and leading the heart to beat in rhythmic harmony with the great universal heart. In the estimation of a theosophist, the running after psychic practices and phenomena, and a devoting of one's energies and faculties to them, amount to a deplorable waste of time; the concentration of one's faculties on these things simply reversing the inner machinery of one's consciousness, with a resultant unbalance of man's inner constitution.
Occult arts and psychic phenomena exist; their existence is not in dispute. They are easy to practice once one knows the secrets of them, and these secrets are easily discovered. The causes of psychic phenomena are even more easily found out -- such phenomena as the petty clairvoyance, the fallible and often fallacious clairaudience, the insignificant thought-readings. Things like these are psychical results belonging merely to our intermediate human sheath of consciousness -- and theosophy worst of it all is that these are just the things that seem to fascinate the minds of men today. People are running after them, often losing their way in the chase, if not indeed losing their mental balance; and at the end of the frantic course there looms the insane asylum, or perchance, there yawns the suicide's grave. In following these practices, there is naught that is spiritually and intellectually inspiring, naught that shines with the holy flame of impersonal devotion to abstract truth. A study of them is a study of the lower sheaths of man's consciousness whereby one learns no grand truths of nature, nor is it productive of any lasting benefit either to the individual or to the human race.
Theosophy, it should be remembered, is primarily a spiritual philosophy showing men the pathway to a greater life. Its appeal is very strong very direct to the spiritual and intellectual faculties, and this appeal in unfettered and onerous hearts and minds usually receives an immediate and sympathetic response. Not being a body of dogmatic teachings, imposed on the authority of some 'divine revelation,' no one need accept theosophy unless he chooses to do so, and because its philosophy is founded on natural facts of universal being, and not on anybody's say-so, we invite the most searching, as well as sympathetic, examination of its teachings.
The true theosophist is never authoritarian, i.e., expecting others to accept his ideas or dicta, or, conversely, accepting without due and proper examination the statements ex parte or otherwise of anyone else. Our criterion of truth flows forth from the exercise of our own inner faculties, such as intellectual discrimination, the balancing of probabilities, careful reflection, sound judgment, and above all the use of spiritual intuition.
Again in the words of Mme. Blavatsky:
Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge.
Theosophy being entirely devoid of any elements of doctrinal crystallization, and being utterly free from any set dogmas or creeds, it will be seen why the only prerequisite for membership in the Theosophical Society is a sincere recognition and a wholehearted acceptance of the principle of universal brotherhood.
Far from imagining himself vested with absolute and final knowledge, or to have reached to the full comprehension of ultimate truth, the student of the ancient wisdom realizes but too keenly that the scope of such knowledge and the depth of such comprehension are limitless, that nature's store of intellectual and spiritual treasures is endless, and that the greatest of men gather only a few pebbles upon the shores of the ocean of wisdom -- to use the simile of Newton. But while being aware of the immensity of that which is as yet unknown to him, he nevertheless is also cognizant of the fact that he is in possession of keys of an intellectual and spiritual kind, which, if recognized by men, would open before their eyes unexplored horizons of thought and vistas of noble achievements already now dimly suspected by the greatest scientific and philosophical intellects of the day.
The Theosophical Society is the vehicle for the conveying unto the world of the archaic wisdom-teachings concerning the universe. It is not merely for the intellectual pastime or pleasure of the mentally curious that the Theosophical Society was founded; but chiefly and primarily to stem the rising tide of materialism in religious, philosophical, and scientific thought, which threatened to engulf, particularly in the Occidental world the last vestiges of spirituality, driving men to a senseless capering of mind and heart after the lures of the sensuous world and its inordinately vain and shallow life.
The main purpose of all theosophical work is to do away with the causes of troubles which beset us on every hand; to strike at the root which brings forth the crime and the poverty and the misery of all kinds, which we see everywhere around us today; to bring peace and hope, courage and inspiration, to all men.
What has brought us all to this present impasse? It is ignorance, selfishness, greed -- the prolific parents of hatred, individual and international prejudices, wars, famines, poverty, distress, and general misery. It is to the eradication of these evils, through the study and promulgation of the esoteric system of thought, that the work of the Theosophical Society is devoted.
The aim of all theosophical study is not to stagger and overload the brain-mentality with the statistical results of learning, whether experimental or theoretical, but rather to arouse within the student the consciousness of his indwelling divine fire; to bring forth from the depths of his consciousness intuitive knowledge, as opposed to mere book-learning, hidden therein as his birthright. The intellectual aspect of theosophical study takes but a secondary place when compared with the ideal of spiritual awakening which lies at the very foundation of the activities of this organization. This ideal is the attainment of a perfect balance of the faculties of man, an equilibrium of his spiritual, intellectual, psychical, moral, and physical natures -- the art of right living. Self-control, self-forgetfulness, and a determined and steady effort to lead a higher type of life along the path of self-directed evolution and inner unfoldment, are some of the foundation stones of all theosophical work, logically following from the once universally accepted teachings concerning the unity of all life, the essential divinity of man, and the endless path of spiritual perfectibility.
Theosophists do not defend, support, or attack any of the established schools of religious, intellectual, or scientific thought, for they try to show, by means of written and spoken word, and by means of a noble example of living, that there is beyond all the superficial distinctions which often are conducive to bitter antagonism, an all-embracing and synthesizing conception of life, wherein all temporary differences are blended in one grand universal brotherhood of thought, aspirations, and deeds. In so doing, they bring to the attention of all earnest seekers only that which untold ages of spiritual investigation and direct intuitive perception by men who have attained spiritual masterhood have established and have found to be the very bedrock of truth. In this field of work, the Theosophical Society as a custodian of knowledge, and its students as individual workers, are but the latest link in the endless chain of similar efforts for the enlightenment of mankind, which can be traced to the remotest antiquity.
One of the chief objects for which the modern Theosophical Movement was started was to endeavor to stimulate the fields of Occidental thought with the vivifying power of ancient Oriental wisdom, and to sow seeds in the minds of progressive Occidental men and women, which, when the time for their future growth arrives, will inaugurate an era of culture in which Oriental and Occidental conceptions of life and ways of thinking will blend to a greater or less degree, bringing about a closer spiritual union of men and women the world over, and a higher type of thought -- hence, indeed, an age of truer and more living brotherhood.
The Theosophical Society is emphatically not a political body. As an organization, it is not affiliated with any political party whatsoever, and is traditionally and rigidly nonpolitical in every sense of the word. Theosophists hold that what individuals wish to think or believe or practice as political theory is a matter for each one to decide for himself. Hence the Society leaves perfect freedom to all its members to profess individually whatever ideas they may have in such matters, and to act in accordance with their conscience, provided every fellow shall render unto the laws of his country the meed of respect and obedience which are universally expected from law-abiding men and women, and provided also that his ideas are in accordance with the principle of universal brotherhood.
The Society keeps constantly in mind the important fact that one of the first duties of a theosophist is to be a good citizen of his country, and to give his support, as an individual, to measures and provisions established by law for the security of all, and the safe-guarding of their best interests. As a believer in and teacher of brotherhood, which includes the amelioration and betterment of human relations of all kinds, the theosophist is therefore also a believer in social order, and an upholder of established authority. Proclaiming brotherhood as a universal fact of being, he realizes that he should therefore first exemplify it in his own actions and conduct, by becoming himself a living example of order, good will, and willing acquiescence in the laws of the country in which he lives; the while always seeking in every lawful and proper way to improve the social structure, to support the efforts of those who are working with the State towards further improvement of all conditions of life, and to do what good he can as an individual to his fellow-men.
The theosophist recognizes his social obligations as keenly as anyone else, and perhaps even more keenly than the vast majority of men. He is a strong believer in honorable marriage and the ideal of family life, because marriage at the present time, in the case of the majority of men and women, is not only perfectly proper, but is to be recommended, outside of being one of the best safeguards against licentiousness and immorality. Marriage involves the undertaking of responsibilities, duties, and ties, bringing in their train important lessons of self-forgetfulness, and frequently of self-abnegation, in the course of which human character is strengthened, selfishness is undermined, and consideration and unremitting thought for others and desire for their welfare are so continuously instilled into the psychology of men and women, as to become habitual and therefore integral portions of character which unfolds the more rapidly thereby.
The effort in which the members of the Theosophical Movement are engaged, is to give men and women a new and grander spiritual hope, to re-awaken and to fortify their spiritual intuitions, to nurture and sustain their growing intellectual faculties, to show them the safe path out of present-day limitations; it is to show them a new way of life, to open before their eyes vaster horizons of thought, to give them a new vision, so that in the council chambers of the people they will know what to do and how best to do it; to lift men's hearts and inspire their minds to follow a noble spiritual Ideal, so that they may be saved from a racial catastrophe, and our civilization thereby may pass that extremely dangerous turning-point in race-growth towards which we are now rushing with an ever-increasing acceleration of speed.
Being imbued with the spirit of courageous investigation, of self-forgetful efforts for the good of mankind, and with a never-ceasing desire to open up new vistas of knowledge and wider horizons of thought in all departments of life, the Theosophical Society stands today in the vanguard of the pioneers of the Human Race, who are working for the spiritual, intellectual, and ethical regeneration of mankind. It imbodies in the very fabric of its being, and in the purposes which constitute its objectives and ideals, the spirit of creative enthusiasm, expressed in the virility of its objects, in the fearless investigation of all that nature contains, and in the appeal that it makes to all that is noble and upbuilding in the heart and mind of all who strive towards the realization of a great spiritual vision. It works unceasingly for a brighter future when men and women will have awakened a deeper understanding of the divine powers latent within themselves; will have evolved through aspiration and selfless service a lofty standard of manhood and womanhood, wherein their innate faculty for independent creative thinking in all realms of constructive thought will express itself in works of peace and good will towards all that lives. This vision and hope will not be realized without strong efforts and much selfless labor in true philanthropy, in its original sense of love for mankind.
As the leading, because universal, spiritual movement of the age, the Theosophical Society above everything else aims to be at all times plastic and flexible; and its fellows strive always to be open to the reception of new truths, and to avoid first and foremost self-righteousness, set opinions, ignorance, and sectarian conceit, as well as the empty formalisms arising in religious, philosophical, or scientific self-satisfaction and pride.
The spirit of truth shows itself by a fervid sympathy for the souls of men, wherefrom arises generosity towards others, and a willingness to hear and to receive. Thus we gain a conviction of the justice of our cause -- which is the cause of mankind -- a conviction based upon our own life and upon our rigid determination to remain faithful to the ancient tradition of brotherhood, and its doctrines of harmony, peace, and justice towards all. As summed up by H. P. Blavatsky:
As a body, the Theosophical Society holds that all original thinkers and investigators of the hidden side of nature . . . were and are, properly Theosophists. For to be one, one need not necessarily recognize the existence of any special God or a deity. Be what he may, once that a student abandons the old and trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of independent thought -- Godward -- he is a Theosophist; an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with an "inspiration of his own" to solve the universal problems.
With every man that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man's relations to it, and nature's manifestations of it, Theosophy is allied. It is likewise the ally of honest science, as distinguished from much that passes for exact, physical science, so long as latter does not poach on the domains of psychology and metaphysics.
And it is also the ally of every honest religion -- to wit: a religion will be judged by the same tests as it applies to the others. Those books which contain the most self-evident truth, are to it inspired (not revealed). But all books it regards, on account of the human element contained in them, as inferior to the Book of Nature; to read which and comprehend it correctly, the innate powers of the soul must be highly developed. Ideal laws can be perceived by the intuitive faculty alone; they are beyond the domain of argument and dialectics, and no one can understand or rightly appreciate them through the explanations of another mind, though even this mind be claiming a direct revelation. And, as this Society which allows the widest sweep in the realms of the pure ideal, is no less firm in the sphere of facts, its deference to modern science and its just representatives is sincere. Despite all their lack of a higher spirit intuition, the world's debt to the representatives of modern physical science is immense. . . .
In conclusion, we may state that, broader and far more universal in its views than any existing mere scientific Society, it has plus science its belief in every possibility, and determined will to penetrate into those unknown spiritual regions which exact science pretends that its votaries have no business to explore. And, it has one quality more than any religion in that it makes no difference between Gentile, Jew, or Christian. It is in this spirit that the Society has been established upon the footing of a Universal Brotherhood.
Such, then, is the Theosophical Society: such are its nature, character, principles, and ideals; such are its main purposes and objectives, to the ultimate realization of which thousands of earnest and sincere men and women, the world over, have devoted their lives, in selfless dedication to the cause of mankind.