The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
September 2000 Vol. 3 Issue 7
He in whom the soul is ever manifest – he is the true mystic, and to him theosophy is no system of sterile thought but a light, a teacher, a companion, ever calling to compassionate action, ever urging to higher things.
Think of theosophy not so much as a body of philosophic or other teaching, but as the highest law of conduct, which is the enacted expression of divine love or compassion.
It will bring something to you that can never pass away: the consciousness of your divine, your inner self; a conviction of your inherent power to conserve your energy along the highest spiritual lines. For no one can find his true place in the great scheme of human life until he has ennobled and enriched his nature with the consciousness of his divinity.
Were you to be told that just outside the door great minds were waiting to give you the secret of acquiring fabulous wealth, you would not stop for anything. Yet that which you would hope to gain belongs but to the perishable, fleeting, material side of life. Why not make as great an effort for the knowledge that will give you the secret of right living, reveal to you the mysteries of life?
Materialism and the merely intellectual view have carried us out upon a sea of unrest and dissatisfaction, while the real self, the divine self, has been ignored. As a result, the finer knowledge – which is right at hand if we could but perceive it, for it lies in the very being of man himself – is inactive and obscured, so that it is difficult even for thinking men and women to find their moorings. It is this very condition, however, that will finally open our eyes.
The mission of the Theosophical Society is to bring men and women together as co-workers for a great and universal purpose; and the first step towards that end is to accentuate the fact that we are divine and that to help create a nucleus of universal brotherhood, based on the divinity of man and the immortality of the soul, is the duty of every human being.
My whole aim is to bring out the spiritual possibilities of the individual – individual effort towards higher things. That is the aim of theosophy: that each may come to know himself better, that there may be a spiritual rounding-out of the character and the life. If the individual can rise in the strength of his divine heritage, the power of his spiritual rights, then comes a clearing of the mind, a lifting of the veil that hides the truth.
The principles of theosophy are worthless unless carried out in deeds. It is useless to pile up in the library of our intellectual life ideas upon ideas – and nothing more. The world is weighed down with mere intellectualism already. It must have something more, and that something more is the active, practical expression of those ideas, those spiritual principles, in every act of life.
Its teachings show us how to reason in a new way. They challenge us to seek a new viewpoint, to rise in the strength of the soul to heights of self-mastery never attained before. The lazy, the indifferent, the selfish, and the egotistical will not be interested along such lines of research; but one who is stirred by the simple conviction that he is immortal – not in some nebulous future life, but here and now – that one feels the touch of the divinity within.
Theosophy teaches that man weaves his own destiny and that he is, to the extent of his knowledge and his will, the master of it. For humanity is divine! Were this divinity but realized, the godlike attributes of character would be so manifest in dignity and in strength that no words would be needed to tell us what real life is. We are making some progress, it is true; but we hear only six notes played. The seventh one is silent, and that silent, waiting note is the divine in human nature and in life. – Katherine Tingley
Theosophy is that ocean of knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution of sentient beings; unfathomable in its deepest part, it gives the greatest minds their fullest scope, yet, shallow enough at its shores, it will not overwhelm the understanding of a child. – William Quan Judge
Monthly Discussion Group
"What Is Theosophy?" is our subject. We will discuss such questions as: What are the major principles and ideas of theosophy, and where do they come from? What about brotherhood, reincarnation, karma, evolution, ethics and the spiritual path? How does theosophy relate to science, philosophy, religion, and mysticism? What is its relationship to The Theosophical Society? Does theosophy have a creed or dogmas that people must accept? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
October 12: Consciousness: What Is It?
Theosophy [from Greek theosophia knowledge of divine things, deriv. of theosophos wise about God; theos God + sophos, wise]: a name which, as specifying a religious philosophy, has been applied to Ammonius Saccas in the third century of our era. The body of ethical, philosophic, and scientific doctrines to which that title applies is, however, as old as humanity itself, and contains everything that is true in all other and later systems. Esoterically preserved and transmitted in its entirety by adepts and initiates, from time immemorial, their messengers – known to the world as "great teachers" and "saviors" – have, at periodic intervals deter-mined by cyclic law, exoterically taught as much of it as could safely be given out and which any considerable portion of the human race could at such times receive and assimilate.
Theosophy postulates an Eternal Principle, unknowable except in its manifestations, which is in and is all things, and which, periodically and eternally, manifests itself and recedes from manifestation – evolution and involution. Its opposite poles in the manifested universe are spirit and matter, which are coexistent and inseparable. In manifesting itself the spirit-matter differentiates on seven planes, which are of progressive density down to that within our sensuous perception, the substance in all being the same, but differing in the proportions of its two compound elements.
Man is a spirit and requires vehicles with which to come in touch with all the planes of nature included in evolution. He is characterized in Theosophy as a sevenfold being. His immortal being comprises a trinity, spirit (Atman), the spiritual soul or discernment (Buddhi), and mind (Manas). This triad requires as vehicles or instruments through which to operate and gain cognition in matter four lower mortal principles. These are: The animal passions and desires, unintelligent and productive of ignorance through delusion (Kama); the life-energy (Jiva); the astral body (Linga Sarira), which is the connecting link between the ethereal principles and the corporeality; and, finally, the physical body (Sthula Sarira). The trinity is the real man, the thinker, gaining experience at each rebirth, while it suffers and enjoys according to its deeds. In each successive earth-life he is known to others as a new personality, but in the whole stretch of eternity he is one individual, conscious of an identity not dependent on name, form, or recollections of personalities. This doctrine of reincarnation is the very base of Theosophy, for it explains life and nature as no other hypothesis can; and it is an essential to the scheme of evolution, for without such re-embodiment on the plane of experiences and atonements there could be no evolution of the human soul. Inseparable from the doctrine of reincarnation is that of karma, or justice, sometimes called the ethical law of causation. The body, brain, and intellectual faculties furnished by reincarnation being products of one's own deserving, become the field from which must be gleaned the harvest planted by acts in the past. The law of karma applies in physical nature as well as in ethics to solar systems, planets, races, nations, families, and individuals. With reincarnation the doctrine of karma explains the misery and suffering of the world, and no room is left to accuse nature of injustice.
The present worldwide interest in Theosophy dates from 1875, when Helena P. Blavatsky, a messenger of the adepts, appeared in New York, initiated the theosophic movement and, with several other persons, formed the Theosophical Society. Other revivals of the ancient doctrine, occurring in the last quarter of each century during several hundred years past, amounted to little in their effect upon humanity at large compared with the importance this one has attained. The Theosophical Society is not dogmatic, but admits to membership all who can conscientiously accept its three avowed objects: "1. To form the nucleus of a universal brotherhood of humanity without any distinctions whatever. 2. To promote the study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences. 3. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical [soul] powers of man." Beyond its organization in importance is the wonderful influence of theosophic teachings in coloring the literature, thought, ethics, and even scientific progress and religious expression of the world. The size of the Society gives but a very imperfect idea of the extent of its work.