The THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
Oct 09, 2005 07:12 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
10/9/2005 7:01 AM
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
130 years ago November 17th 1875 the THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY was
inaugurated in New York. Since then several important statements concerning
the THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT have been issues. One of these reads:
There is a very great difference between the Theosophical Movement and any
The Movement is moral, ethical, spiritual, universal, invisible save in
effect, and continuous. A Society formed for theosophical work is a visible
organization, an effect, a machine for conserving energy and putting it to
use; it is not nor can it be universal, nor is it continuous.
Organized Theosophical bodies are made by men for their better cooperation,
but, being mere outer shells, they must change from time to time as human
defects come out, as the times change, and as the great underlying spiritual
movement compels such alterations.
The Theosophical Movement being continuous, it is to be found in all times
and in all nations. Wherever thought has struggled to be free, wherever
spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and dogmatism, have been promulgated,
there the great movement is to be discerned. Jacob Boehme's work was a part
of it, and so also was the Theosophical Society of over one hundred years
ago; Luther's reformation must be reckoned as a portion of it; and the great
struggle between Science and Religion, clearly portrayed by Draper, was
every bit as much a motion of the Theosophical Movement as is the present
Society of that name - indeed that struggle, and the freedom thereby gained
for science, were really as important in the advance of the world, as are
our different organizations. And among political examples of the movement is
to be counted the Independence of the American colonies, ending in the
formation of a great nation, theoretically based on Brotherhood.
One can therefore see that to worship an organization, even though it be the
beloved theosophical one, is to fall down before Form, and to become the
slave once more of that dogmatism which our portion of the Theosophical
Movement, the T.S., was meant to overthrow.
Some members have worshipped the so-called "Theosophical Society," thinking
it to be all in all, and not properly perceiving its de facto and piecemeal
character as an organization nor that it was likely that this devotion to
mere form would lead to a nullification of Brotherhood at the first strain.
And this latter, indeed, did occur with several members.
They even forgot, and still forget, that H. P. Blavatsky herself declared
that it were better to do away with the Society rather than to destroy
Brotherhood, and that she herself declared the European part of it free and
These worshippers think that there must be a continuance of the old form in
order for the Society to have an international character.
But the real unity and prevalence, and the real internationalism, do not
consist in having a single organization. They are found in the similarity of
aim, of aspiration, of purpose, of teaching, of ethics. Freemasonry - a
great and important part of the true Theosophical Movement - is universally
international; and yet its organizations are numerous, autonomous,
The Grand Lodge of the state of New York, including its different Lodges, is
independent of all others in any state, yet every member is a Mason and all
are working on a single plan. Freemasons aver all the world belong to the
great International Masonic Body, yet they have everywhere their free and
When the Theosophical Society was young and small, it was necessary that it
should have but one government for the whole of it. But now that it has
grown wide and strong, having spread among nations so different from each
other as the American, the English, the Spanish, the Swedish and others in
Europe, and the Hindu, it is essential that a change in the outward form be
This is that it become like the Freemasons - independent in government
wherever the geographical or national conditions indicate that necessity.
And that this will be done in time, no matter what certain persons may say
to the contrary, there is not the slightest doubt.
The American Group, being by geographical and other conditions outwardly
separate, began the change so as to be in government free and independent,
but in basis, aspiration, aim and work united with all true Theosophists.
We have not changed the work of H.P.B.; we have enlarged it. We assert that
any person who has been admitted to any Theosophical Society should be
received everywhere among Theosophists, just as Masons are received among
Masons. It is untheosophical to denounce the change made by the American
Group; it is not Theosophy nor conducive to its spread to make legal claims
to theosophical names, symbols and seals so as to prevent if possible others
from using them.
Everyone should be invited to use our theosophical property as freely as he
wishes. Those who desire to keep up H.P.B.'s war against dogmatism will
applaud and encourage the American movement because their liberated minds
permit; but those who do not know true Theosophy, nor see the difference
between forms and the soul of things, will continue to worship Form and to
sacrifice Brotherhood to a shell.
Path, August, 1895 [ Issued by W. Q. JUDGE ]
THE SPIRIT OF THINGS
By Claude Falls Wright (1894)
"Ideas rule the world," quoted one of those whose influence in
the Theosophical Society is not the less felt because its source
is unperceived by most members. Yet there are many, even among
our own Theosophists, who hold tightly to the notion that the
world is held and even advanced by forms and words. From the
ritualism and ceremonies of the Priesthood to the carefully
rounded phrases of a Chesterfield, there is scarcely a step.
Both are equally useless to the development of the real man. The
effort of each leads men away from the contemplation of the
Spirit to the adoration of matter.
Humanity has ever been led away from its freedom and recognition
of the eternal principle of Life, to make obeisance to the god of
form -- and matter! Those in the past who said that all
objectivity was Maya or illusion spoke a truth that must vibrate
throughout all time, reverberating through the hearts of all who
develop to the life of independence and power. For assuredly
none can limit the changes in the Great Breath, whose perpetual
motions in the unseen world make the varieties in this.
It is worthwhile to recognize this as a philosophy, and so
prevent many mistakes. The world pulls this way and that,
seeking her freedom in legislature and habit, oblivious to the
fact that precisely these things forge her chains. Belief in the
necessity for Custom and Convention, sovereigns and saviors,
style and good usage, is really born of the soulless: for these
all limit freedom of the Spirit and propose to chain it to one
idea. Hence arise disputations, and from them warfare.
Yet even recognizing this, the philosopher will not rebel against
them nor seek their immediate destruction. Emancipated, in the
world though not of it, he will see that the world being held by
forms, through them, it must be aided and advanced to freedom.
Some will think it is going too far to say that the spirit of
evil and stagnation is in form. It is easy to demonstrate this
truth. Every great leader, every genius, has thrown off the yoke
of form-slavery, drawing his principles of action from the free
source of things. Though often disregarding and destroying
things men have long believed dear and sacred, yet while he
lives, men follow him and love him; recognizing something of the
heavenly power about him, they find strength in his freedom and
delight to be in his presence and to know his thoughts.
Who has not seen the spirit of life in a child? None among us
upset customs more than children do. Buddha, Jesus, and the true
religious founders destroyed all forms. Even though we see in
them the great originators of present religious forms, it is not
because they desired that that should be so, but because their
ideas and wisdom were clothed in matter by their followers, who,
possessing little recognition of the Spirit, were incapable of
drawing life from anything but externals.
Poets and painters, musicians, geniuses of all kinds, are noted
for their eccentricities, yet no one can doubt that they see
deeper into the divinity of things than do the Philistines.
Strange as it may seem, the power of originality is indicative of
progress in any human being. Without this, the nature is in
darkness, there are no light in it and no creative power.
The Theosophical Society was established on such a basis that
should prevent, if possible, it ever being tied by forms. Yet
how many are there who want to make it a respectable institution
-- will not help a brother unless he be of the same rank as
themselves! How many, indeed, wish that HPB had not had
eccentricities, or had not done so much outwardly to vibrate and
shock conventional shells; or that fewer uneducated persons were
in the ranks and more of those who are book-learned and well
placed in Society!
Others are so caught in the web of form that they think it
impossible for anyone to possess wisdom or light outside the
Society's ranks. Let such know that there are many persons all
over the world, outside the Theosophical Society, who have caught
something of the Spirit of Wisdom just now lighting up the whole
earth, and these as well as Theosophical Society members are
surely being helped by the Great Brotherhood behind.
The Theosophical Society has its own work to do. It was the
originator of these thoughts in the West, and through its
members, they must be given to the world. If taken up and used
by others outside, a part here and a part there, sometimes
imperfectly, generally unacknowledged, it is no harm, but always
unconsciously an aiding the world. There are no forms here, no
priesthood; each one has his wisdom and should hasten to let the
world know of it.
We do not only work for the Theosophical Society as a Society.
This is a great danger to be avoided. It is for the Society only
as a useful vehicle of ideas that we labor. It will fade and
fall to pieces sometime -- and let us trust it may be destroyed
long before it approaches the possibility of becoming priesthood
-- but the ideas the world and our race have received through it
will live and will have molded the thought of the people almost
without their knowing it. We shall be forgotten, but the
thoughts we have passed on will live. Members should recollect
they are not building an institution, but only erecting a
temporary structure in which a little wisdom has been stored.
Many in the Society are just now used by those behind the scenes
to become vehicles of truth. They are intended to hand it on.
Once the brain has opened to the Light, only one thing can again
close it, that is, the keeping back of wisdom from others. Yet
many receive knowledge in a flash of intuition, and instead of
giving it out at some Branch meeting or to someone who may need
it, they keep it hid away to burst it forth later in a
carefully-written paper or lecture, so that they may receive
credit for their ideas and not have them stolen by others
beforehand. Their ideas will then find no ground in which to
take root: they should have been given out when received. If
this habit were kept up, such persons will lose the spiritual
power they now possess in time.
The setting free of ideas in the world at the right moment has a
great deal to do with the development of occult powers, however
little connection between these two matters there may seem to be.
It is pure personality and selfishness that make one hold back
and wait until the thoughts can be given out with greater credit
Madame Blavatsky launched her wisdom into the world without any
consideration of herself. Probably her thought was something of
I know my English is faulty, I know my science is not of the
best, but my wisdom is true, and it must be sent forth. Others
will steal my ideas and knowledge for their own glorification,
but it does not matter, that is their own loss; they are also
helping me in my labor.
The work must be done speedily lest we lose the knowledge ere we
have pinned it. Let loose the ideas among the people; do not
hold them until you can get glory by them. Do not wait until you
can understand Sanskrit, can write classical English, and have
made a name for yourself in the world before you become a worker.
This is all fear of form. To be sure, the better the instrument
the better the work, but the means must not be mistaken for the
The time is short; only a few more years exist for active work.
Let the ideas loose in the world at all costs, no matter what
loss of fame to yourself. After all, on your deathbed, you will
know that it is the IDEA -- spiritual or otherwise -- of life
that you have had, and your virtue, that are the important
things, not how much you have known of other men's thoughts, or
how correctly you have dressed.
The Ideas live and rule, not the words that clothed them nor the
imagery used for their expression. It is well known that he who
thus impersonally acts comes more and more directly in
relationship with the Brotherhood of Light.
By Claude Falls Wright
[From THE PATH, November 1894, pages 250-53.]
A "Theosophist" is one who lives and practises THEOSOPHY without necessarily
being a "member" of any organization that calls itself "Theosophical." In
many cases consulted the consensus is that studying HPB's "original"
THEOSOPHY, has continually reinforced this universal and non-sectarian view.
The power inherent in THEOSOPHY is seen to be a constant radiation from the
original writings of the Mahatmas and of HPB, and of all who have drawn
their spiritual inspiration from the ethics, logic, exposition of history
and science, and the prevision of an eventual condition where all
evolutionary units (monads) in Nature (the UNIVERSE and our WORLD) attain a
simultaneous and brotherly level of wisdom and virtue.
Obviously, what we name THEOSOPHY in the present has had other names in past
years. All modern "religions" and "sects" show at their roots the imprint
of the same grand system of Life.
Instead of reposing on the beneficence of nature, the true Theosophist
becomes (by self-effort and devotion) an active cooperator in the constant
flow of life between all beings. He (she) perceives this as a privilege and
a duty, not as the imposition of any tyrannical Law.
The personal attitude is found best described in LIGHT ON THE PATH p. 4 :
"And that power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make
him appear as nothing in the eyes of men."
To achieve proficiency in this, it is requisite that each Monad (having
attained the equipoise of mind in a "human" form) voluntarily work
intelligently and whole-heartedly for all the rest in whatever capacity
Karma may allot to him in his present embodiment, and for whatever task lies
at hand to be done without any strain or hope for personal reward or
Let us consider an interesting essay:
OUR GOD AND OTHER GODS
As a people we speak of "our God," imagining that we all have the same idea,
that we all mean the same thing by the term. Peoples of the past had their
meaning of "our God," and peoples of the present time also say "our God and
other Gods," imagining that their conception is the only true one-all
others, untrue, false. Several Great Wars have now been fought among
so-called Christian peoples, who, so far as a consideration of Christianity
is concerned, ought to have been worshipping the same God, and guiding
thought and action by the precepts ascribed to that God.
But is it not true that our theologians and the theologians of those people
at war with us addressed petitions to the same "Our God," in order to bring
success to their efforts as against other peoples worshipping the same God?
There would then appear to be a multiplicity of Gods, or else something
wrong in the conceptions of all of us. If we ask ourselves individually,
"What do I mean by the term God?" perhaps we would all say: "The highest
there is." But do we mean the highest there is?
POWER SUPPORTING ALL WITH LIFE
Do we mean that great power which sustains all beings, all forms, that which
by its very nature and by our contemplation of it must appear as in finite,
as eternal, as changeless? If we do mean that, then we shall have to amend a
great many other ideas which generally connote with the term God. For
instance, we shall have to leave the idea of a being entirely outside of our
calculations. We have thought that the source and sustainer of all things,
all beings, from all time and in all time, is a being; that the something in
us which reaches up beyond everything physical, beyond every thing
thinkable, is outside ourselves. How could that possibly be?
How could we possibly prove that this God is a being existing in some
far-off heaven unknown to us and separate from us? How can we imagine a
being as omnipresent, and at the same time separate from us or from
INFINITE AND OMNIPRESENT
If Deity is infinite and omnipresent, there is not a grain of sand nor a
point of vacant space anywhere where Deity is not. And how again can we give
to the idea of Deity, attributes-such as being angry or pleased, rewarding
or punishing, since every attribute that we give is a limitation and
precludes the idea of omnipresence? No being could be the origin, the
sustainer, the source of all that was, is or ever shall be. Any being,
however great, is contained and limited in space; no being can be
There is that which is beyond speech, beyond description, and beyond
conception-the highest there is in the universe. But are we to look outside
in the heavens, in the sea, in the secret places of the earth, in any place
whatever; or are we to find it in a much nearer place, that is, within
ourselves? For all that anyone can know of God, or the Highest, is what he
knows in himself, through himself and by himself. There is no other place of
knowledge for us.
Yet at the same time we have to perceive that God, or Deity, is not absent
from anything, is immanent in the whole, is omnipresent, is at the root and
is the seed of every being of every kind anywhere; that there is no thing,
not even a grain of sand nor a speck of dust, no point in space, absent from
that Source which sustains the whole manifested universe. We can imagine,
then, that God, as the ancients put it, "seated in the hearts of all
beings;" for there is something in the heart of man whence proceeds all
feeling, all true life, all true conception. The heart is not the same as
the head-a man's heart may be right and sound and his head wrong. The
feeling of the true in the heart is not deceived by this thought or that
thought or the other thought; it can only be experienced by each one for
himself within himself. God is not an outside God, but is to be sought in
the very innermost recesses of our own nature- in the silent chamber, the
temple, within us-and nowhere else.
MANY CIVILIZATIONS IN THE PAST
We think that our present civilization far transcends any past civilizations
that ever have been; yet there are many records and relics of arts,
sciences, of knowledge, of religion, of philosophy such as we have not yet
mastered. We are but a young people, as a matter of fact. It is not so many
centuries ago since the Founder of the Christian Religion lived upon the
earth, and there were many thousands of centuries before that. The people
who lived down the course of those centuries knew far more than we.
NO CREATION, BUT ETERNAL EVOLUTION
They knew, as we may know, that there is no such thing as creation. No being
ever created the earth, or its conditions. This planet, or any other planet,
was never created by any being. This solar system and other solar systems
were not created by any being. Something produced them. Yes, and it is
possible to understand how that production was brought about! By
evolution-always an unfolding from within outward-from the very root of
every being, from the Deity, the Soul of all, the Spirit of all. Spirit is
the root, the sustainer, the energy producing force for all the evolution
that has gone on.
Every being in the universe is a product of evolution-all from the same
identical root of being, all drawing their powers of expression from the one
Source. All are rays from and one with that Absolute Principle, which is our
very Self-the Self of all creatures. What of all those beings who were the
Self in process of evolution, who reached a realization of this truth ages
and ages before the present civilization? What became of them? Have all
their hopes and fears been lost? What is the meaning of those races, those
civilizations-was it death for them when their civilization passed out as
ours must, since just so surely as it had a beginning so it will have an
Just so surely as there are those rises and falls in civilizations, so is
there a cycle of time through which the conscious man goes, and a cycle of
form which the conscious man animates, uses, and leaves-to take another-from
civilization to civilization.
LAW RULES ALL
When, then, we look about us for the results of the civilizations that have
been, and try to understand the conditions of the present civilization, we
have to see that the people of the world to-day are the very ones who passed
through those ancient civilizations, left them, and carried forward whatever
of knowledge or of ignorance, of truth or of error, they had gained during
those vast periods of time. For LAW rules in every thing and every
circumstance, every where. There is a law of birth-of successive lives on
earth, each life the successor and result of the life or lives which
preceded. That which sustains man, garners all experience, retains it,
carries it forward, and propels evolution, is the One changeless, eternal,
immortal Self-the real perceiver, the real knower, the real experiencer in
every body, in every form.
THE SPIRITUAL SELF IN US
The Self is its own law. Each one is the Self, and each-as Self-has produced
the conditions under which he finds him self. When the Self acts, it
receives the re-action. If it acts not at all, then there is no re-action.
Every action brings its re-action from those who are affected by it for good
or for evil. For good and evil do not exist of themselves nor in ourselves;
they are but effects we feel and classify as good or bad according to our
attitude toward them; that which seems 'good to one is "evil" to another.
When we have rid ourselves of the idea that there is a God who produced and
sustains good, and a devil who produced and sustains evil, we have come to
the fact of true perception from within outwards.
Every civilization that has been, and the one in which we now are living, is
due to a true or false perception of what our real nature is. If we would
ever know and understand our natures, we must first understand that there is
in us That which never changes at all, whatever changes are brought about by
it. We never are the things we see, or feel, or hear, or know, or
experience. No matter how many the experiences may be, we are still
unchanged with the possibility of infinite other experiences.
OUR INNER SELF IS CHANGELESS AND ETERNAL
That the Self in us is changeless may seem difficult for the Western mind to
grasp, thinking that without change there is no progress; but it may be
perceived by the fact of our identity remaining ever the same in a child's
body and through all the changes of body that have occurred since childhood.
If the identity ever changed, it could never observe change.
Only that which is permanent and stable can see change, can know it, can
make it. And-what theology, modern philosophy, modern science have never
taught us-there is this fact: as we are immortal spirit at the very root of
our being, we have made for ourselves many mansions all down through the
process of nature's changes. The gradual condensation which goes on with
every planet and in every solar system goes on with every body; every form
has its initial existence as form in the finest state of matter, from which
it is condensed and hardened to the present physical state of matter. But
the illimitable experiences of higher planes, back through all those
changes, are now resident within ourselves- present with us wherever we are
or may be-except as we have shut the doors on them. Why?
Because this brain of ours, the most responsive organ in the body, since it
is used in our modifications of thought, is concerned with things of the
earth, in relation to the body. A brain trained and sustained by this kind
of thinking can not register from the higher nature-from the finer sheaths
of the soul. But once we begin to think and act from the basis of these
verities, the brain-which is the most rapidly changing organ in the
body-becomes porous to the impressions of our inner life.
INCREASING WISDOM AS WE AGE
Dimly at first, and more strongly as time goes on, we begin to realize the
fact of this inner experience, and-what is more to us than all else-the
continuity of our consciousness; the fact that consciousness never ceases,
no matter on what plane we may be acting. Therefore, we may have in our own
bodies and during our lifetime-not a promise-but a sense, a realization, a
knowledge of immortality here and now!
We have been taught to believe. But, belief is not knowledge. We have been
taught to believe in a formula, but a formula is not knowledge. So we have
gone astray in every direction and made of this life a terror to ourselves.
We are afraid of death, of disaster; we are always buttressing ourselves
with some sort of guard in this or that direction.
SPIRITUAL POWERS UNIVERSAL AND TRUSTWORTHY
We are afraid to trust the very God we say we believe in. We will not trust
Christ. We will use all the means we can think of to look out for ourselves.
Each one of us is Spirit and each one of us is using spiritual powers to
induce what we call good and what we call evil; but the misapplication of
the spiritual powers, in default of real knowledge, must lead us to misery.
So we have to know what we are, and to think and live in the light of our
own real natures. Then we shall know the truth within ourselves. We shall
understand ourselves and we shall understand our fellow-men, and we shall
never again say, "Our God and other Gods," but the SELF OF ALL CREATURES.
We shall see the Self as all and in all; we will act for and as the Self,
because the Self acts only through the creatures; and we shall see every
being-man, below man, or above man-as an aspect of ourselves; as
individualized beings we will try more and more to exercise the spiritual
knowledge that is our own heritage.
Like the prodigal son who ate the husks with the swine and then suddenly
remembered his Father's house, we will say: "I will arise and go to my
Father." For there is no one so wicked, so ignorant, so poorly endowed that
he may not make good progress in the right direction; on whom the light may
not dawn and a feeling of power and strength and purpose arise that will do
away with fear and make him a strong helpful being in the world of men. Far
from taking us away from our families, our duties, our business, or our
citizenship, this knowledge will make us better citizens, better husbands,
better fathers, better patriots, if you will, than ever we were
before-patriots of not just one country, but of all.
[From: R C: ]
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