COMPILED AND COLLATED FROM THE WRITINGS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY
This question has been so often asked, and misconception so widely prevails. Though Theosophy means Divine Wisdom, it implies nothing resembling belief in a personal god. It is not “the wisdom of God,” but divine wisdom. Theosophy is Divine Knowledge or Science. Theosophy is synonymous with Jnana-Vidya, and with the Brahma-Vidya of the Hindus, and again with the Dzyan of the trans-Himalayan adepts, the science of the true Raja-Yogis.
The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system. These Alexandrian philosophers were called lovers of truth, Philaletheians. They were also denominated Neo-Platonists.
It was the aim and purpose of Ammonius to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith – a belief in one Supreme Eternal, Unknown, and Unnamed Power, governing the Universe by immutable and eternal laws. His object was to prove a primitive system of Theosophy, which at the beginning was essentially alike in all countries; to induce all men to lay aside their strifes and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother; to purify the ancient religions, by degrees corrupted and obscured, from all dross of human element, by uniting and expounding them upon pure philosophical principles.
Hence, the Buddhistic, Vedantic and Magian, or Zoroastrian, systems were taught in the Eclectic Theosophical School along with all the philosophies of Greece. Hence also, the pre-eminently Buddhistic and Indian feature among the ancient Theosophists of Alexandria, of due reverence for parents and aged persons; a fraternal affection for the whole human race; and a compassionate feeling for even the dumb animals.
While seeking to establish a system of moral discipline which enforced upon people the duty to live according to the laws of their respective countries; to exalt their minds by the research and contemplation of the one Absolute Truth; his chief object in order, as he believed, to achieve all others, was to extract from the various religious teachings, as from a many-chorded instrument, one full and harmonious melody, which would find response in every truth-loving heart.
Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilisation.
The WISDOM-RELIGION was ever one, and being the last word of possible human knowledge, was, therefore, carefully preserved. It preceded by long ages the Alexandrian Theosophists, reached the modern, and will survive every other religion and philosophy. Where and by whom was it so preserved? Among Initiates of every country; among profound seekers after truth – their disciples; and in those parts of the world where such topics have always been most valued and pursued: in India, Central Asia, and Persia.
We had reason to know that the whole truth could only be found in one quarter, the Asiatic schools of philosophy, and we felt convinced that the truth could never be discovered until men of all races and creeds should join like brothers in the search. So, taking our stand upon that ground, we began to point the way eastward.
Once Theosophy and its principles are known, it will be demonstrated that our philosophy is not only a “close relative of modern science,” but its forbear, though greatly transcending it in logic; and that its “metaphysics” is vaster, more beautiful and more powerful than any emanating from a dogmatic cult. It is the metaphysics of Nature in her chaste nakedness, both physical, moral and spiritual, alone capable of explaining the apparent miracle by means of natural and psychic laws, and of completing the mere physiological and pathological notions of Science, and of killing for ever the anthropomorphic Gods and the Devils of dualistic religions. No one believes more firmly in the Unity of the eternal laws than do the Theosophists.
The idea of God and Devil would make any chela of six months smile in pity. Theosophists do not believe either in the one or in the other. They believe in the Great ALL, in Sat, i.e., absolute and infinite existence, unique and with nothing like unto it, which is neither a Being nor an anthropomorphic creature, which is, and can never not be.
As to the Absolute Essence, the One and all – whether we accept the Greek Pythagorean, the Chaldean Kabalistic, or the Aryan philosophy in regard to it, it will lead to one and the same result. The Primeval Monad of the Pythagorean system, which retires into darkness and is itself Darkness (for human intellect) was made the basis of all things; and we can find the idea in all its integrity in the philosophical systems of Leibnitz and Spinoza.
Therefore, whether a Theosophist agrees with the Kabala which, speaking of En-Soph propounds the query: “Who, then, can comprehend It since It is formless, and Non-existent?” – or again, accepts the Vedantic conception of Brahman, who in the Upanishads is represented as “without life, without mind, pure,” unconscious, for – Brahman is “Absolute Consciousness”; or, even finally, siding with the Svabhavikas of Nepal, maintains that nothing exists but “Svabhavat” (substance or nature) which exists by itself without any creator; any one of the above conceptions can lead but to pure and absolute Theosophy.
We reject with all our powers the absurd idea of a personal God. Deity is not God. To avoid such anthropomorphic conceptions the Initiates never use the epithet “God” to designate the One and Secondless Principle in the Universe.
Theosophy is belief in the Deity as the ALL, the source of all existence, the infinite that cannot be either comprehended or known, the universe alone revealing It, or, as some prefer it, Him, thus giving a sex to that, to anthropomorphize which is blasphemy. Theosophy prefers believing that, from eternity retired within itself, the Spirit of the Deity neither wills nor creates; but that, from the infinite effulgency everywhere going forth from the Great Centre, that which produces all visible and invisible things, is but a Ray containing in itself the generative and conceptive power, which, in its turn, produces that which the Greeks called Macrocosm, the Kabalists Tikkun or Adam Kadmon – the archetypal man, and the Aryans Purusha, the manifested Brahm, or the Divine Male.
With every man that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man’s relations to it, and nature’s manifestations of it, Theosophy is allied. To revere that Presence, the invisible Cause, which is yet ever manifesting itself in its incessant results; the intangible, omnipotent, and omnipresent Proteus: indivisible in its Essence, and eluding form, yet appearing under all and every form; who is here and there, and everywhere and nowhere; is ALL, and NOTHING; ubiquitous yet one; the Essence filling, binding, bounding, containing everything, contained in all.
Theosophists see in the priest of any religion a useless if not a pernicious being. They preach against every dogmatic and “infallible” religion. The Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life. The true philosopher, the student of the Esoteric Wisdom, entirely loses sight of personalities, dogmatic beliefs and special religions. Moreover, Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips every one of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion.
This Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity. The outline of a few fundamental truths from the Secret Doctrine of the Archaic ages is now permitted to see the light, after long millenniums of the most profound silence and secrecy. I say “a few truths,” advisedly, because that which must remain unsaid could not be contained in a hundred such volumes, nor could it be imparted to the present generation of Sadducees. But, even the little that is now given is better than complete silence upon those vital truths. The religion of the ancients is the religion of the future.
No genuine, no sincere searcher after truth can ever be found among the blind believers in the “Divine Word,” let the latter be claimed to come from Allah, Brahma or Jehovah, or their respective Koran, Purana and Bible. He who believes his own religion on faith, will regard that of every other man as a lie, and hate it on that same faith. The very raison d’etre of the Theosophical Society was, from its beginning, to utter a loud protest and lead an open warfare against dogma or any belief based upon blind faith. Few among our friends and readers have failed to characterize our attempt to expose error in the Theosophist and Lucifer as “very uncharitable attacks on Christianity,” “untheosophical assaults,” etc., etc. Yet these are necessary, nay, indispensable, if we wish to plough up at least approximate truths. We have to lay things bare, and are ready to suffer for it – as usual. It is vain to promise to give truth, and then leave it mingled with error out of mere faint-heartedness. That the result of such policy could only muddy the stream of facts is shown plainly.
The Theosophical Movement must be the volunteer scavenger of both orthodox religion and modern science; as also the relentless Nemesis of those who have degraded the two noble truths to their own ends and purposes, and then divorced each violently from the other, though the two are and must be one.
He who would seriously attempt to fathom the psychological sciences, must come to the sacred land of ancient Aryavarta. None is older than she in esoteric wisdom and civilisation, however fallen may be her poor shadow – modern India. Holding this country, as we do, for the fruitful hot-bed whence proceeded all subsequent philosophical systems, to this source of all psychology and philosophy a portion of our Society has come to learn its ancient wisdom.
Ethics are the soul of the Wisdom-Religion. Buddha was the first to embody these lofty ethics in his public teachings, and to make them the foundation and the very essence of his public system. It is herein that lies the immense difference between exoteric Buddhism and every other religion. For while in other religions ritualism and dogma hold the first and most important place, in Buddhism it is the ethics which have always been the most insisted upon. This accounts for the resemblance, amounting almost to identity, between the ethics of Theosophy and those of the religion of Buddha.
The Theosophy we teach has a Buddhist colouring simply because that religion, or rather philosophy, approaches more nearly to the TRUTH (the secret wisdom) than does any other exoteric form of belief. Hence the close connection between the two…yet the Buddhism of today is none the less a rather dogmatic religion, split into many and heterogeneous sects. We follow the Buddha alone.
Theosophists all work for one and the same object, namely, the disenthralment of human thought, the elimination of superstitions, and the discovery of truth. The most important of our objects is to revive the work of Ammonius Saccas, and make various nations remember that they are the children “of one mother.”
If Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility, find a home in the lives of the new generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy is ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often. It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men do but realise that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth. Then, the GOLDEN AGE will be there, indeed. But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilisation and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel History has never yet recorded.
But as Theosophy has existed eternally throughout the endless cycles upon cycles of the Past, so it will ever exist throughout the infinitudes of the Future, because Theosophy is synonymous with EVERLASTING TRUTH.
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Sources: What is Theosophy?, What Are the Theosophists?, Is Theosophy a Religion?, The Theosophical Society: Its Mission and Its Future, Our Cycle and the Next, Le Phare de L’Inconnu (The Beacon-Light of the Unknown), Misconceptions (Reply to the Article “Révolution”), The Key to Theosophy, Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, and The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950.
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