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John Algeo on basic Theosophical concepts

Jul 30, 2007 01:56 PM
by danielhcaldwell

In the 2nd edition of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF RELIGION (Macmillan 
Reference USA, Gale Group, 2001-2006)) John Algeo in the article 
on "Theosophy" writes:

The [Theosophical] concepts may include such ideas as the following, 
each with ethical implications:

** There is only one ultimate reality, of which all existent things 
are expressions. Theosophy is philosophically monistic, with 
implications of human equality (formulated in the society's first 
object) and concern for animal welfare (resulting in the practice of 
vegetarianism for ethical reasons and the avoidance of other animal 

**The orderliness of the world is expressed in cyclical patterns, 
which can be seen in all aspects of reality from the macrocosm to the 
microcosm, including the reincarnation of an individual human 
consciousness in a long series of lives. The belief that an 
individual has lived or will live in bodies of both sexes and of 
various races and cultures fosters an understanding of and respect 
for human differences. 

**The orderliness of the world is based on a principle of causation 
called karma, which operates in both material and moral realms, 
positing for every action a corresponding reaction, both physical and 
ethical. The fact that every action by a person has unavoidable 
consequences is a basis for practical morality: to do harm to another 
is to generate harm for oneself; to do good to another is to ensure 
good for oneself. 

**World history follows an evolutionary pattern, not only of material 
forms but of intellect and spirit, governed by both causes and 
purposes. Evolution is teleological, and consequently human life is 
meaningful and purposeful, a recognition of which aids successful 

**All objects in the universe are imbued with consciousness of some 
sort, and consciousness evolves through the ages so that, for 
example, mineral consciousness becomes successively vegetative, 
animal, human, and eventually something beyond human. Furthermore the 
interconnection and interdependence of all consciousness implies an 
ecological rather than exploitative approach to life. 

**The final purpose of evolutionary development is that the ultimate 
reality may become conscious of itself through its expression as the 
world (similar to the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead), and the 
purpose of human life is to further that evolutionary development by 
a conscious participation in it. All individuals have a high and 
serious calling, which may be responded to by carrying out the duties 
of their stations in life. 

**Human beings are assisted in fulfilling the purpose of their lives 
by the teachings and examples of sages, prophets, saints, avatars, or 
bodhisattvas; but the responsibility for that fulfillment and the 
impulse to meet it arise from within the individual, who is 
responsible for his or her own salvation. A means to fulfill one's 
purpose for being is an intelligent and spiritually sensitive 
activism, tempered by the realization that one's knowledge of the 
world and of oneself is still severely limited, making humility and 
tolerance the best guideposts to ultimate success. 

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Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application