“Truth is One, though the Sages call it by many names.”
(Rig Veda 1:164:46)
“In whatever way men approach Me, in that way do I accept them; whatever path mankind follows, that is also Mine.”
(Krishna the Avatar, speaking as the Logos or Universal Spirit, Bhagavad Gita 4:11)
Theosophy – literally meaning “Divine Wisdom,” the Ancient and Ageless Wisdom, is so profoundly universal that H. P. Blavatsky sometimes referred to it as Universal Theosophy.
The aim of this article is not to try to demonstrate the universality of Theosophy, for many other articles on this site do that. In this article we will see a number of statements that serve as emphatic reminders and indicators to us of how we, as individual (and collective) students of Theosophy ought to be “appliers of universality in thought, speech and action.” This relates to HPB’s memorable phrase in “The Key to Theosophy” that “Theosophist is, who Theosophy does.”
But first, what exactly do we mean, practically speaking, by “being universal” or by such terms as universality and universalism?
Universality and universalism denote inclusivism, collectivism, unity, and an all-embracing attitude of mind and heart.
However, the discerning student of Theosophy does not take this to mean that everything is equally true or that everyone is equally correct. But he or she does maintain the attitude and approach that there is some truth in everything, that everyone and everything has at least something of value to offer, and that everyone, along with their sincerely held beliefs, ought to be treated with genuine respect, even if one happens to personally disagree with their views and beliefs about things. Of course, there will always be a few exceptions that are not deserving of respect – such as prejudice, discrimination, deliberate deceit and dishonesty, cruelty, and hatred – but even with these, the universally minded person endeavours most of all to understand the appeal and influence that such things hold for some unfortunate souls, so as to potentially be able to help and assist them at a deep and effective level.
Now that we are in the Aquarian Age, the New Age of Aquarius, the practical importance, psychological benefit, and societally transformative value of universality and universalism becomes more strongly felt by more and more people every day. It is one of the characteristic hallmarks of the Aquarian Age and of Aquarian humanity and the modern Theosophical Movement has laid the foundations for this. The opposite approach was characteristic of the Piscean Age, the “Old Age” of Pisces, and hence becomes more and more obsolete every day, while appearing increasingly distasteful to many in this modern era.
For some, a genuine, sincere, and whole-hearted “universality in thought, speech and action” comes more naturally and more easily than for others. But all, without exception, have room to grow and to improve – or, rather, to expand – in this regard. In reality, universality and universalism is entirely natural to us, for the highermost, innermost, eternal part of our being, and of every being, is the Spirit: the ONE Universal Self of All. You are That. All is That. THAT is all there is.
H. P. Blavatsky has spoken of “the universality in time and space of that grand system of philosophy, called by its disciples the Archaic Wisdom Religion, or the Secret Doctrine.” Her article titled “What is Theosophy?” – her very first article in the magazine “The Theosophist” – presents a profoundly universal and inclusivist approach to Theosophy from start to finish. That can be read in full online here. But let’s now see some examples of her use of the term “Universal Theosophy.”
“When I read the criticisms now written on Theosophy, the platitudes and the jests in bad taste at the expense of the most grandiose and sublime philosophy in the world – one of whose aspects only is found in the noble ethics of the Philaletheians [i.e. the Neoplatonists, the Alexandrian Theosophists of the first few centuries C.E.] – I ask myself whether the Academies of any country have ever understood the Theosophy of the philosophers of Alexandria any better than they understand us now? What is known, what can be known of Universal Theosophy, unless one has studied under the Masters of Wisdom?” (H. P. Blavatsky, “Le Phare de L’Inconnu” or “The Beacon-Light of The Unknown”)
“Visible representative of Universal Theosophy, it [i.e. the Theosophical Society or the modern Theosophical Movement] can be no more sectarian than a Geographical Society, which represents universal geographical exploration without caring whether the explorers be of one creed or another. The religion of the Society is an algebraical equation, in which so long as the sign = of equality is not omitted, each member is allowed to substitute quantities of his own, which better accord with climatic and other exigencies of his native land, with the idiosyncrasies of his people, or even with his own. Having no accepted creed, our Society is very ready to give and take, to learn and teach, by practical experimentation, as opposed to mere passive and credulous acceptance of enforced dogma. It is willing to accept every result claimed by any of the foregoing schools or systems, that can be logically and experimentally demonstrated. Conversely, it can take nothing on mere faith, no matter by whom the demand may be made.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “What Are The Theosophists?”)
Robert Crosbie, a devoted pupil of the two main founders of the modern Theosophical Movement – namely H. P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge – and who founded the United Lodge of Theosophists in the early 20th century, wrote and spoke frequently on the theme of this present article, as we can see below.
“The Three Fundamentals of the Secret Doctrine [i.e. the Three Fundamental Propositions; you can find an introduction to these in our article An Invitation to The Secret Doctrine] not only give us the key to all existences, but to the root and sustainer of these, the One Self in all; we must act for and as the Self in every direction until we lose the personal idea of self in the Universal Self; the more we supplant the lower self by the Higher, the more universal does our view-point become, and the powers that belong to each succeeding step towards universality unfold themselves and find their field of action.” (Robert Crosbie, “Answers To Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy” p. 19)
“Truth is not a man, nor a book, nor a statement. The nature of Truth is universal; its possessors in any degree will be found to be appliers of universality in thought, speech and action. Their efforts will be for humanity regardless of sex, creed, caste or color. They will never be found among those claiming to be the chosen spokesman of the Deity – and exacting homage from their fellow-men: true Brotherhood includes the least developed as well as the very highest. We must seek to give aid to all in search of truth. Our value and aid in this great work will be just what we make them by our motive, our judgment, our conduct.” (Robert Crosbie, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 363)
“The Theosophical Movement is greater than any society or organization. . . . The Theosophical Society was founded by Masters as an organization for the promulgation of the Wisdom Religion. That organization has split into fragments. . . . Into each fragment of the original T. S. [i.e. Theosophical Society; there are today four main branches or streams within the modern Theosophical Movement], there have entered many attracted by the philosophy. The right or wrong of the splits does not affect them. In each fragment there must be those who are good and true disciples of Masters. As far as my knowledge goes, I would say that Masters are working in many ways, and through many organizations as well as with individuals. There are no barriers to Their assistance, except such as personalities impose upon themselves. Their work is universal; let our view be as much in that direction as possible. So shall we best serve and know.” (Robert Crosbie, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 4-5)
“. . . study is good, necessary, and preparatory. Unity—Study—Work – are the trinity of this plane. Universality, Wisdom, and Service are the higher trinity. You are the One who is preparing the way for the latter, by means of the former.” (Robert Crosbie, “The Friendly Philosopher” p. 96)
“Man occupies the most important place in the whole scheme of evolution. He stands where Spirit and matter meet. He is the link between the higher beings and those below. He has so to act, so to think and act, in and upon and with this physical matter that he raises it all up, and gives it another tendency, another trend. By the very constitution of his nature, by reason of his being connected as he is in a physical body with all nature, the Secret Doctrine states that man can become greater than any one of the Dhyan Chohans and equal to all of them put together. That is the goal which lies before him – the goal of the “Kingly Mystery” – the seeing and knowing and feeling and acting universally. For there is a power in man which enables him to judge aright; he has the all-seeing eye – the all-encompassing sight which permits him to see the justice of all things.” (Robert Crosbie, “The Kingly Mystery”)
“We have applied the great Truths of nature only in a partial, a limited, a personal sense. These are universal truths and should be applied in a universal sense, if we desire to arrive at the fullest recognition of them.” (Robert Crosbie, “The Recognition of Law”)
“There is the higher and inner side of any and every form that exists – mineral, vegetable, animal, human or beyond the human – and as we become more universal in our modes of thinking and of action, we contact more fully that higher, inner side. We raise ourselves higher, and we see the world as quite different from the one perceived when we were treading the path of mere terrestrial existence. We see what all false modes of thought and action have brought about – animosities, wars, divisions between individuals, pestilences, disease, cyclones and earthquakes, noxious insects and animals.” (Robert Crosbie, “Renunciation of Action”)
“To use these powers [i.e. occult powers] rightly, a universal attitude must be held, and all actions based upon that universal nature. The philosophy of Theosophy presents that universal attitude and basis, showing that each one is the SELF; each one looks upon all others and gathers from all others what he may of understanding and of knowledge; each one must act for that SELF and as that SELF, which includes all other selves. So acting, all ideas of selfishness, of personality, of desire for reward, of fear of punishment, leave us; defects are corrected, and the whole force of what we may call nature in its fullest sense comes into play; all the great powers of nature flow into the one moving in that direction and from that basis. We shall come to understand all laws; for, as we progress, those laws exhibit themselves spontaneously within us. We find in our possession the power to accomplish by thought, the power to do this or that at a distance, the power to speak at a distance, to be heard at a distance, to be seen at a distance, to know anything at a distance. There is nothing hidden for the one who works on and with nature; with the interests of all, he has the force of all.” (Robert Crosbie, “The Occult Side of Nature” – this and most other articles by Crosbie are included in both “The Friendly Philosopher” and the aptly titled “Universal Theosophy”)
In “Letters That Have Helped Me” p. 109, William Q. Judge reminds us:
“The Masters are not Eastern nor Western, but universal.”
It’s true that we often find those Masters most closely linked with HPB and the Theosophical Movement being termed “Eastern Masters” or “Eastern Adepts” or “Eastern Initiates” and the main geographical location of Their Brotherhood being spoken of as Trans-Himalayan . . . none of that is erroneous but the point being made is that by Their very nature, a true Master of Wisdom and Compassion transcends all national, racial, and cultural distinctions, as well as transcending all religions and all geographical divides. And, additionally, there are not only “Eastern Masters.” Historical accounts show and indicate the involvement of Adepts from virtually all parts of the world – East, West, and whatever else – with the establishment and development of this Movement.
“So-called “Occultism,” or rather Esoteric Science, has to be traced in its origin to those Beings who, led by Karma, have incarnated in our humanity, and thus struck the key-note of that secret Science which countless generations of subsequent adepts have expanded since then in every age, while they checked its doctrines by personal observation and experience. The bulk of this knowledge – which no man is able to possess in its fullness – constitutes that which we now call Theosophy or “divine knowledge.” Beings from other and higher worlds may have it entire; we can have it only approximately.
“Thus, unity of everything in the universe implies and justifies our belief in the existence of a knowledge at once scientific, philosophical and religious, showing the necessity and actuality of the connection of man and all things in the universe with each other; which knowledge, therefore, becomes essentially RELIGION, and must be called in its integrity and universality by the distinctive name of WISDOM-RELIGION.
“It is from this WISDOM-RELIGION that all the various individual “Religions” (erroneously so called) have sprung, forming in their turn offshoots and branches, and also all the minor creeds, based upon and always originated through some personal experience in psychology. Every such religion, or religious offshoot, be it considered orthodox or heretical, wise or foolish, started originally as a clear and unadulterated stream from the Mother-Source. The fact that each became in time polluted with purely human speculations and even inventions, due to interested motives, does not prevent any from having been pure in its early beginnings. There are those creeds – we shall not call them religions – which have now been overlaid with the human element out of all recognition; others just showing signs of early decay; not one that escaped the hand of time. But each and all are of divine, because natural and true origin; aye – Mazdeism [i.e. Zoroastrianism], Brahmanism [i.e. Hinduism], Buddhism as much as Christianity.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “Is Theosophy a Religion?”)
Such an article as this would probably not be complete without a reminder of the Three Objects of the Theosophical Movement, i.e. the three main objectives and aims for which it was founded. The following is excerpted from the 2016 reprint of the Indian pamphlet “The United Lodge of Theosophists: Its Mission and Its Future”:
“These objects are:
“I. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour – the separative distinctions most universally made in the world.
“II. The study of ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences, and the demonstration of the importance of such study – in order to detect the vital principles common to all of them and thus do away with sectarianism and exclusiveness.
“III. The investigation of the unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man – to destroy the ideas of “special creation” and “miracles” by the recognition of the reign of Law in everything and in every circumstance, and the recovery of the Spiritual and Psychical knowledge and powers of the immortal Ego.”
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