What is Theosophy?
|The Three Declared Objects of the Theosophical Society
The Philosophy of the Society
The Theosophical Society is composed of individuals united by their approval of its objects, by their dedication to promoting brotherhood, and by their efforts to foster religious and racial understanding. Their bond of union is a common search and aspiration for truth. They hold that truth should be sought by study, by reflection, by service, and not imposed by authority as a dogma.
Theosophists consider that belief should be the result of individual study, experience, and insight, rather than mere acceptance of traditional ideas, and that it should rest on knowledge, not on assertion. They see each religion as an expression of Divine Wisdom, adapted to the needs of a particular time and place, and they prefer the study of various religions to their condemnation, their practice to proselytism. Peace is their watchword, as truth is their aim.
Theosophy offers a philosophy that sees the whole universe as alive and interrelated. It affirms an intelligent order and system guiding the cyclical evolution of all life. It recognizes a purpose for existence in the goal toward which the entire cosmos is progressing. It puts death in its rightful place as a recurring incident in an endless life, opening the gateway to a fuller and more radiant existence. It holds that our body, emotions, mind, and intuition are all aspects of our inner nature and that right living is the result of balance and harmony within ourselves and with the world around us.
The Theosophical Society maintains the right of individual freedom of thought for every member. Those who join the Society are not asked to give up the teachings of their own faiths. No doctrine, no opinion, by whomsoever taught or held, is in any way binding on any member of the Society, and no teacher or writer has authority to impose opinions on others. All members are urged to defend and act upon these fundamental principles and also fearlessly to exercise their own right of liberty of thought and of expression within the limits of courtesy and consideration for others.
The Society claims no monopoly on the Wisdom Tradition called Theosophy, for it cannot be limited. Fellows of the Society seek to understand this Wisdom ever more fully. All in sympathy with the objects of the Society are welcomed as members.
These are some of the basic ideas Theosophy offers for consideration:
- One Life pervades and sustains the universe.
- The universe is the manifestation of an eternal, boundless and immutable Reality beyond the range of human understanding.
- Matter and consciousness (or spirit) are the two polar aspects of that ultimate Reality, from whose interplay proceed innumerable universes in an endless cycle of manifestation and dissolution.
- An intelligence that is both immanent and transcendent is the basis of all laws of nature. “Deity is Law,” said H. P. Blavatsky.
- The visible universe is only its densest part; the whole universe contains also invisible worlds of exceedingly tenuous matter interpenetrating the physical.
The entire system of the universe, visible and invisible, is the scene of a great scheme of evolution, in which life moves to ever more expressive form, more responsive awareness, and more unified consciousness.
- The human consciousness (also called spirit or soul) is in essence identical with the one supreme Reality, which Ralph Waldo Emerson called the “Oversoul,” including each of our particular beings and uniting us with one another.
- The gradual unfolding of this latent divine Reality within us takes place by the process of reincarnation, which is an aspect of the cyclic law seen everywhere in nature, by periods of activity alternating with periods of rest and assimilation. As Saint Paul says, whatever we sow, we will inevitably reap. This is the law of karma, by which we weave our own destiny through the ages. It is the great hope for humanity, for it gives us the opportunity to create our future by what we do in the present.
- The human pilgrimage takes us from our source in the One through experience of the many, back to union with the One Divine Reality. Our goal is thus to complete the cosmic cycle of manifestation with full conscious realization of ourselves, no longer polarized between consciousness and matter or divided into self and other, but unified within and united with all other beings through our common Source. This realization is enlightenment.
and the Impact of the Theosophical Society
Inventory of the influence of the Theosophical Society
Compiled by Katinka Hesselink 2006-2010
This list is a tentative inventory of the impact of the Theosophical Society on the world. It owes a lot to John Algeo‘s work. Some things have been included, even though my source for them is merely the theosophical grapevine. These obviously need further study. I have also (not yet) included proper source references. This will hopefully come in time. At the moment the list only includes people from the Theosophical Society Adyar. This is not a policy, but a reflection on my knowledge in this field. If anyone can come up with people from other theosophical organizations that had a significant impact on society, feel free to contact me.
I realize that this is a problematic field of study: what exactly constitutes influence? Still I think it is possible to give some sort of answer to the question of the influence of the Theosophical Society by doing an inventory of prominent cultural innovators who were members of the Theosophical Society. If one can find a significant number, it is plausible that the relatively small organization did have a relatively high influence on East and West. As the list shows it isn’t always easy to show how the Theosophical Society or its ideals and teachings made a difference in a certain persons perspective or method. Still, I think it is useful to cultural historians to be aware of memberships of the Theosophical Society. For Theosophical Society-members it may be interesting to know the contributions Theosophical Society-members have made in the world.
Some people who made it on this list were never members of the Theosophical Society, in those cases a note has been added. They are on here because of their spiritual interests, or their contact with theosophists even if they never joined. This list has become partly unnecessary because the Theosophical Encyclopedia also gives a decent inventory. Click HERE for list.
Also please check:
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