Theosophical Traditions & New Students of Theosophy
Sep 14, 2006 07:43 AM
There are at least a dozen different Theosophical "traditions"
or "schools" based on the claims of various prominent individuals in
the modern Theosophical Movement.
H.P. Blavatsky said she was in contact with certain Adepts or
Masters and had transmitted in her writings the Theosophical
teachings of these Adepts.
But after H.P.B.'s death in 1891, we find numerous claims of contact
with the same Adepts.
These additional claims appear to be DEPENDENT on Mme. Blavatsky's
For example, IF H.P.B. was a fraud, her Masters fictional
characters, and her teachings false or simply made up and/or
borrowed from genuine previously existing religious and esoteric
beliefs, then all the later claims based on hers would also be
But if H.P.B.'s statements and teachings are true and genuine, that
is no guarantee that any of the later claims are therefore true and
genuine, too. All later claims might be false.
Or only one or only some of the later claims might be true but the
rest might be false. Etc.
Looking briefly at Theosophical history, we find that in the 1890s,
William Q. Judge and Annie Besant (both students of H.P.B.) claimed
to be in contact with H.P.B.'s Master Morya. But each of them
reported opposite and contradictory statements as coming from Master
Some Theosophists sided with Mr. Judge; others with Mrs. Besant.
This "division" led eventually to the breakup of the original
Theosophical Society into two separate and competing organizations.
The contradictory claims by Judge and Besant apparently were the
beginning of the various lineage claims concerning "esoteric"
successors to Madame Blavatsky.
In the Adyar Theosophical Society, we find the following lineage of
H.P. Blavatsky > Annie Besant & Charles W. Leadbeater > the next
In the Point Loma Theosophical Society:
H.P. Blavatsky > William Q. Judge > Katherine A. Tingley >
G. de Purucker > the next successor ??
In the United Lodge of Theosophists:
H.P. Blavatsky > William Q. Judge > Robert Crosbie > the
next successor ??
In the Arcane School:
H.P. Blavatsky > Alice A. Bailey > the next successor ??
And, of course, there are also many other lineage claims (e.g. those
of Helena Roerich, Elizabeth Prophet, etc.).
The end result is a confusing morass of claims and counterclaims and
various contradictory and conflicting teachings.
But should we really be surprised that all of this has happened?
Even during her own lifetime, Mme. Blavatsky wrote about bogus
claims of contact with her Masters, about "wild and fanciful
speculation" concerning the Theosophical teachings and even
about "charlatanesque imitations" of Theosophy:
"Great are the desecrations to which the names of two of the Masters
have been subjected. There is hardly a medium who has not claimed to
have seen them. Every bogus swindling Society, for commercial
purposes, now claims to be guided and directed by 'Masters' often
supposed to be far higher than ours!...." The Key to Theosophy,
original edition, p. 301.
"The publication of many of the facts herein stated has been
rendered necessary by the wild and fanciful speculation in which
many Theosophists and students of mysticism have indulged...." The
Secret Doctrine, original edition, Vol. I, p. viii.
"... A new and rapidly growing danger...is threatening...the spread
of the pure Esoteric Philosophy and knowledge....I allude to those
charlatanesque imitations of Occultism and Theosophy....By pandering
to the prejudices of people, and especially by adopting the false
ideas of a personal God and a personal, carnalized Saviour, as the
groundwork of their teaching, the leaders of this 'swindle' (for
such it is) are endeavoring to draw men to them and in particular to
turn Theosophists from the true path." E.S. Instruction No. I.,
1890 edition, p. 2.
Therefore how should inquirers approach all these claims? What
should new students to Theosophy "believe" or think about all these
First of all, students of Theosophy might seriously consider the
implications of what H.P.B. and her Masters wrote about these false
claims and pseudo-Theosophical teachings when they are evaluating
the validity of the later claims occurring after 1891.
But some may ask: who actually has the time, energy, resources,
inclination, etc. to:
(1) examine and study all the various claims, all the historical
material pro and con related to the claims, as well as the hundreds
of books on Theosophical teachings written by these claimants;
and then to:
(2) try to determine what is what, whose claim or teaching is valid,
true or false, etc.??
Of course, some Theosophical students say that they don't need to do
such a laborious task as outlined in the last paragraph. They say
they have "intuitions" and those intuitions are all they need to
find the truth in these matters.
Others apparently don't even care what is "true" or "false" or may
even question the labels "true" and "false".
Other seekers may simply "pick and choose" what they "feel" is
appropriate for them.
And there are, no doubt, other approaches.
But some (especially those new to Theosophical teachings) may still
what theosophical books and literature should I read and study?
In light of this morass of claims and teachings, interested
inquirers and new students of Theosophy would do well to read and
study firsthand the original writings of H.P. Blavatsky and her
This original Theosophical literature includes H.P.B.'s 10,000 +
pages of writings and the letters of H.P.B.'s Masters received
during her lifetime. Some students would also include in this
category the historical material relating to H.P.B.'s life, the
Masters and the early Theosophical Society/Movement covering the
years 1874 through 1891.
These writings as described in the last paragraph contain a wealth
of valuable material on Theosophy, metaphysics, esoteric
lore/knowledge, occult laws/processes in nature, ethical, spiritual
and devotional material, history (Theosophical and otherwise) and
Blavatsky Study Center
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