THEOSOPHY, the T S AND RELIGION
Mar 21, 2006 05:21 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
THEOSOPHY , RELIGION & THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
[ Notes From HPB -- from "THE THEOSOPHIST" ]
"For the present we merely throw out hints and endeavour
to provoke thought and enquiry." -- HPB
[During the years when H.P.B. was editor of the Theosophist, she often
appended notes of comment, criticism, and elaboration to statements made by
The frequency of these notes makes it possible to select and arrange many
of them in sequence, as collations on various subjects, thus making their
valuable content available to students.- D.]
THEOSOPHY AND RELIGION
"When challenged to give out our views, we do so, adding every time that
they are our own personal views: and as such-since we do not believe
ourselves infallible-are not to be taken as final truths.
Instead of preaching our own religion, we implore every one to first study
his own and remain in it, whatever it is.
Besides which, theosophy is compatible with every religion, the world over.
There were thaumaturgists in every creed, and mysticism has as much room in
idolatrous as in monotheistic systems.
Theosophy is the culmination and the practical demonstration of the truths
underlying every creed. It requires but sincerity and a firm will in the
application to the Essentials of any of them-whether they be Theism or
Adwaitism or even Atheism.
Theosophy is simply the informing life of creed and of every religion and
goes to prove their raison d'etre, instead of their negation." [ TH'ST,
IV 274 fn.]
"We hold no views at all on anything "beyond mortal ken."
"Claiming the possession of our full senses, we can neither prove nor
disprove that which is beyond the knowledge of mortal man, leaving all
speculations and theories thereon to emotional enthusiasts endowed with
blind faith that creates self-delusion and hallucinations. "
[TH'ST IV, 186 fn.]
"In our humble opinion, since there cannot be but one and only Truth, the
thousand and one interpretations by different sectarians of the same and one
thing are simply the outward and evanescent appearances or aspects of that
which is too dazzling (or perchance too dark and too profound) for mortal
eye to correctly distinguish and describe.
As already remarked by us in ISIS UNVEILED the multitudinous creeds and
faiths have all been derived from one primitive source.
TRUTH standing as the one white ray of light, it is decomposed by the prism
into various and eye-deceiving colours of the solar spectrum.
Combined, the aggregate of all those endless human interpretations-shoots
and offshoots-represent one eternal truth; separate, they are but shades of
human error and the signs of human blindness and imperfection.
However, all such publications are useful, since they fill the arena of
discussion with new combatants and that truth can be reached at but after
the explosion of innumerable errors."
[ TH'ST, IV, 197.]
"Few have identical beliefs, and every religionist of whatever faith is
firmly impressed with the truth and superiority of his own creed, with no
regard whatever for the truths possibly contained in that of his brother-
the result is, that sectarianism is kept ever alive, with no chance in it
for mutual toleration- least of all, feelings of Brotherhood. [
TH'ST, IV, 274 fn.]
Each of them [Theosophist] believes in whatever he likes, and there is no
one to interfere with his private beliefs. The Theosophical Society is no
school of sectarianism and holds to no special dogmas. . . ." [ TH'ST,
V, 29 fn.]
".though the one conceives of the First Cause, or Deity, quite differently
from the other, whose ancestors from time immemorial have worshipped the Sun
as a visible type of Hormazd, yet a common religious feeling moves the heart
of each, and a common instinct makes him see the way upward towards the
truth brighter and clearer by the light of Theosophy.
Ours is not an atheistical society, though it does contain atheists; nor is
it a Christian one . Our Fellows are of the most varied opinions; and each
has a right to claim respect for his ideas as he is bound to respect those
of his brothers.
We have presidents who are severally Christian, Deist, Buddhist, Hindu and
Atheist; none dogmatizers, none claiming to be wiser or more infallible than
the other, yet each taking the other by the hand, calling him brother, and
helping him and being helped in the divine quest after knowledge.
Nor are all, or even a large minority, students of occult sciences, for
rarely is the true mystic born. Few, alas! have they ever been, who so
yearned after the discovery of Nature's secrets as to be willing to pursue
that hard and unselfish course of study: and our own century can show fewer
than any of its predecessors.
As to the secrets of the Theosophical Society . The Parent Society is, in
one word, a Republic of Conscience, a brotherhood of men in search of the
As was sufficiently explained in our opening October number, every one of us
professes to be ready to help the other, whatever the branch of science or
religion to which his personal predilections may lead him." [
TH'ST, I, 298.]
The Theosophical Society requires no oaths, as it deems no pledge more
binding than the word of honour. [I, 35 fn.]
Eastern OCCULTISM AND SCIENCE
"The comprehension of what occult science really is, has spread in Europe so
very imperfectly as yet, that we must not be impatient. . .
European mystics, when further advanced in the tedious study of
unintelligible books, will often be hardest to persuade that they must go
back some distance on the paths they have travelled, before they can strike
into those which lead to the fully illuminated regions of Eastern knowledge.
The Eastern occult philosophy is the great block of solid truth from which
the quaint, exoteric mysticism of the outer world has been casually thrown
off from time to time, in veiled and symbolical shapes. These hints and
suggestions of mystic philosophy may be likened to the grains of gold in
rivers, which early explorers used to think betokened somewhere in the
mountains from which the rivers sprang, vast beds of the precious metal.
The occult philosophy with which some people in India are privileged to be
in contact, may be likened to the parent deposits.
Students will be altogether on a wrong track as long as they check the
statements of Eastern philosophy by reference to the teachings and
conceptions of any other systems. In saying this we are not imitating the
various religionists who claim that salvation can only be had within the
pale of their own small church. We are not saying that Eastern philosophy is
right and everybody else is wrong, but that Eastern philosophy is the main
stream of knowledge concerning things spiritual and eternal, which has come
down in an unbroken flood through all the life of the world.
That is the demonstrable position which we, occultists of the Theosophical
Society, have firmly taken up, and all archaeological and literary research
in matters connected with the earliest religions and philosophies of
historical ages helps to fortify it. The casual growths of mystic knowledge
in this or that country and period, may or may not be faithful reflections
of the actual, central doctrines; but, whenever they seem to bear some
resemblance to these, it may be safely conjectured that at least they are
reflections, which owe what merit they possess to the original light from
which they derive their own." [ TH'ST, III, 81.]
"Since beginning our Indian work, we have never publicly preached our
private religious views. It would be well, if this fact were never lost
sight of. Colonel Olcott, in addressing audiences of various religious
faiths, . from the deep conviction, shared by us both, that there is truth
in every religion, and that every sincere devotee of any faith should be
respected in that devotion, and helped to see whatever of good his faith
contains." [TH'ST, III, 237.]
The Rules of our Society strictly forbid its Founders and the Presidents of
its many Branches to advocate either in our journal, or at mixed and general
meetings, any one religion in preference to any other.
We are all upon neutral ground, and even our own personal religious leanings
or preferences have nothing to do and must not interfere with the general
We preach and advocate an incessant and untiring search for TRUTH, and are
ever ready to receive and accept it from whatever quarter. We are all
enquirers and never offered ourselves as teachers, except in so far as to
teach mutual tolerance, kindness and reciprocal enlightenment and a firm
resistance to bigotry and arrogant conceit whether in RELIGION OR SCIENCE
[ TH'ST, III, Supplement, October, p. 4].
EVOLUTION -- A THEORY OF SPIRITUAL & PHYSICAL
Such broad conceptions as the theory of evolution, for example, have not
only been long ago known to Eastern occultists, but as developed in Europe,
are now recognized by them as the first faltering step of modern science in
the direction of certain grand principles with which they have been
familiar,-we will not venture to say since when. . . .
If the European scientists whose fancy has for the first time been caught,
within these last few years, by the crude outlines of an evolutionary
theory, were less blankly ignorant of all that appertains to the mysteries
of life, they would not be misled by some bits of knowledge concerning the
evolution of the body, into entirely absurd conclusions concerning the other
principles which enter into the constitution of Man.
But we are on the threshold of a far mightier subject than any reader in
Europe who has not made considerable progress in real occult study, is
likely to estimate in all its appalling magnitude.,, [to]
make an effort to account, in his own mind, even in the most shadowy and
indistinct way, for the history of the six higher principles in any human
creature, during the time when his body was being gradually perfected, so to
speak, in the matrix of evolution.
[see SECRET DOCTRINE, I, 157-8, 200, 242-6 ].
Where, and what were his higher spiritual principles when the body had
worked into no more dignified shape than that of a baboon? Of course, the
question is put with a full recognition of the collateral errors implied in
the treatment of a single human being as the apex of a series of forms, but
even supposing that physical evolution were as simple a matter as that how
to account for the final presence in the perfected human body of a spiritual
soul?-or to go a step back in the process, how to account for the presence
of the animal soul in the first creature with independent volition that
emerges from the half vegetable condition of the earlier forms?
Is it not obvious, if the blind materialist is not to be accepted as a
sufficient guide to the mysteries of the universe,-if there really are these
higher principles in Man of which we speak, that there must be some vast
process of spiritual evolution going on in the universe pari passu with the
physical evolution?. . . " [ TH'ST, III, 81.]
"No more than any given material form is destined to infinite perpetuation
can the finer organisms which constitute the higher principles of living
creatures be doomed to unchangeability.
What has become of the particles of matter which composed the physical
bodies of "man's predecessors on the earth"? They have long ago been ground
over in the laboratory of Nature, and have entered into the composition of
other forms. And the idea or design of the earlier forms has risen into
superior idea or design which has impressed itself on later forms. So also,
though the analogy may give us no more than a cloudy conception of the
course of events, it is manifest that the higher principles, once united
with the earlier forms, must have developed in their turn also.
Along what infinite spirals of gradual ascent the spiritual evolution has
been accomplished, we will not stop now to consider. Enough to point out the
direction in which thought should proceed, and some few considerations which
may operate to check European thinkers from too readily regarding the realms
of spirit as a mere phantasmagorical cemetery, where shades of the Earth's
buried inhabitants doze for ever in an aimless trance." [ TH'ST, III,
"For the present we merely throw out hints and endeavour to provoke thought
and enquiry; to attempt in this casual manner, a complete exposition of the
conclusions of Eastern philosophy. . . would be like starting on a journey
to the South Pole apropos to a passing enquiry whether one thought there was
land there or not." [ TH'ST, III, 81-2.]
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