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Jan 02, 2007 11:38 AM
by carlosaveline

Perhaps Shakespeare plays are portraits of the theosophical movement. 
In her remarkable biography of H. P. Blavatsky, Sylvia Cranston says Mr. Vsevolod Soloviof  is “the Iago of Theosophy”.  
This is  a reference to that Shakespeare’s  character in “Othello” who infiltrates  and makes intrigues in order to defeat  “the moor of Venice”. Yet this was not an isolated example of Shakespeare’s characters (rascals or   heros) being alive and active within the theosophical movement.  Many other similar  persons –  and the acute contrast between them – can be found among students of  esoteric philosophy.  Intermediary types will be found, too.     
In the thirteen decades of the modern theosophical movement  (1875-2006),   conflicts for power have been generously fueled by envy, anger, slander, frustration,  falsehood and other forms of spiritual ignorance.   They can be better understood and explained, and with a sense of  relief,  if one reads  Shakespeare’s works. The first  period of the movement’s history  – between years  1875 and 1891 – is no exception to the rule.  In fact it is the matrix of such an alchemy.  
Shakespeare’s stories  teach us lessons on the probationary process.  In his plays, we can see the contrast between utter treason  and unconditional loyalty to a higher Ethics, the ethics of the spiritual soul.  Another sharp and burning  contradiction present in Shakespeare’s chemistry of human soul is the one existing between human misery and illusion, on one hand,  and,  on the other hand,  the crystal clear spiritual vision of all life, which gives the student an unlimited,  transcendant freedom from pain.  
Perhaps Shakespeare  can only be understood by seeing this sharp opposition  between the maya of suffering and the greatness of trancendance.   
That which William Shakespeare  describes in his works is  the incessant struggle of lower self and higher triad in each  human being who looks at an  ideal.    It takes the attention of the upper triad to be able to see that drama honestly, instead of closing one’s eyes to it.   Even looking at it is in itself a progress, if it is done with courage,  and with an aim to transcend and to go beyond.  Reading Shakespeare enables us to undertand, therefore, the real  implications of  HPB’s  article “Chelas and Lay Chelas”. 
Shakespeare’s plays also provide us with a nice viewpoint from which to look at the  History of the theosophical movement.  This  has been a story of human loyalty and treason to the ideals and to human beings.   At times,  the characters of this story have used  a combination of  flattering and slandering, as was the case of “Iago”.   This has also been a story of pride  and ambition,  combined with fancy, false siddhis, “occult status”  and blind belief.  Yet there has always been a group of theosophists loyal to the Cause an  not to any bureaucratic ‘party line’; a few ‘warriors’ or Arjunas,  relatively able and  decided to  fight  illusion and mischief within, and outside,  themselves.  
If we accept  that the theosophical movement has in itself all  that is human –  side by side and in a living contrast with the seeds of  a sacred energy  –  perhaps we can look at it more honestly, with less illusion,  and see the inner spiritual light that keeps it alive in spite of everything.   
Such a light is beyond struggle for power. It is  beyond intrigues, envy, despondency, despair, slander, gossip and cunning.   Theosophists are invited to challenge and to win over all these petty things. Robert Crosbie wrote,  and  quoted H.P.B.:  
“We need to bring again and again to the attention of all discouraged or bewildered Theosophists what H.P.B. wrote to Judge in 1888:  ‘Night before last I was shown a bird’s-eye view of the Theosophical Societies. I saw a few earnest, reliable Theosophists in a death-struggle with the world in general, and with other – nominal but ambitious – Theosophists.  The former are greater in number than you may think,  and they prevailed, as you in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master’s programme and true to yourselves’.” (1) 
For HPB and the Masters, to  be true to oneself is the source of  being true to others,  and in “Hamlet” we read: 
“This above all: to thine own self be true, 
And it must follow,  as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man. (2)   
But the movement was never meant to be an easily harmonious group of tea-drinking friends ;  nor a spiritual variety of Rotary Club.  It is not supposed to be a brotherhood of shells and shallow personalities;  it is a school for self-transformation, instead.  
That’s why Shakespeare-Bacon has a lot of things to teach many a student.  His often bitter lessons are not only on how to live Theosophy in  daily life, but also about the inner, essential history of the theosophical movement, both before and after 1875.      
(1) “The Friendly Philosopher”,  Robert Crosbie, The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, 1945,  416 pp., see p. 389. 
(2) “Hamlet”, Act I, Scene III.  “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare”, edited by W. J. Craig, Magpie Books, London, 1992, 1142 pp, see p. 875. 

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