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Theosophical Traditions & New Students of Theosophy

Sep 14, 2006 07:43 AM
by danielhcaldwell

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 
initial claim. 

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 
successor ??

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 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 
much more. 

Blavatsky Study Center

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