Theosophy - Open Discussion

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Avi, Dec 5, 2009.

  1. arthra

    arthra Baha'i

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    My own "take" on the Theosophy movement is that it was at an interesting crossroads in the late nineteenth century - early twentieth in that it acted as a go between at the time as it acted as a source of knowledge of eastern religions.. particularly aspects of Hinduism and Buddhism and the West. There were few authentic translations available of the classic scriptures of Hinduism or Buddhism..aside from the work of Max Muller.

    So there was a potential and a promise I think that theosophy could have acted as an important go between but it squandered it's opportunities..

    Olcott favored Theravadin Buddhism others preferred Tibetan forms .. there was a link to the Arya Samaj and so on.. Besant championed a free India and is still venerated for her work.

    Today the world is much more unified and cosmopolitan. The need for a go between is really no longer there.

    The movement also splintered and various leaders took off in their own directions .. so pretty much from the start there was infighting and conflicts that have had their affects to this day.

    My own take on any "links" between Nazism and Theosophy is that by the time Nazism was growing it's probably true to say there were some German occultists who were behind it but they did not represent most theosophists .. as the movement was already badly splintered.

    I see though theosophy as movement that was influenced early on by spiritualism that was very widespread.. and there were antecedents in Swedenborgianism and before that with Rosicrucian ideas..

    Jacob Boehme the shoe repairman has a special place though to me and was known as the German Theosopher ... Also Jacobius Comenius has a special place and a crucial one and will be sourced and thought about for a long time in the future..

    - Art :)
     
  2. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    Indeed, the Nephilim feature quite a lot through Theosophy, not least through their exploration of Angels as a concept - I seem to recall something about Blavatsky believing the Nephilim were still trapped on earth, living under the Himalayas. The Nephilim themselves are a fascinating subject in themselves, as is the collection of angle lore the TS have collected together in their encyclopedia - which can be quite difficult to find elsewhere.

    I believe there's a specific quote in Genesis that Nick or Bruce may have linked to before - whether the Theosophical interpretation is valid or not I would not think the point, as so many different groups read their own into individual passages.

    I'm not easily convinced the TS is a hate group - certainly not in the mainstream - but I think the onus is actually on proving such claims, rather than demanding them guilty until proven innocent.

    Like I said, I'm open to further exploration of the possibilities, but I think it's more than premature to presume the modern TS of carrying the same socially-accepted standards of racism from 19th century European spiritual movements into the 21st century.
     
  3. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    Yes, I totally agree with your observation, Linda. After doing some research, I don't think the Modern Theosophical Society can even remotely be called a hate group. Here is a link to their web site: Theosophical Society in America

    For example if one reads the writings of Martin Luther, one shudders at the violent and vulgar language that he uses when writing about "the Jews." However, his writing was very common among the early 16th century. It was typical of Medieval Christian anti-Semitism and while this may have laid the groundwork for Nazism; modern anti-Semitism does differ in being based on pseudo-scientific notions of race. The Nazis imprisoned and killed Jews who converted to Christianity; Luther would of welcomed them. In 1994, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected Luther's anti-Semitic writings.
    See: Declaration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to the Jewish Community

    I have also checked with Morris Dees and The Southern Poverty Law Center and while they have documented a staggering 926 hate groups operating in the USA- a more than 50% increase since 2000; I don't see any mention of the TS on those lists. Southern Poverty Law Center

    That is all for now..I will return later.
     
  4. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Janz, I appreciate your observations about Theosophy. The comment you made above however, fits exactly what I think Theosophy's current view on race is. That is why I have serious concerns about them.

    But I guess I am glad they did not make the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of hate groups.
     
  5. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    Avi,
    I am wondering if you are confusing the American Thule Society with Theosophy. The Thule Society is a neo-Nazi organization that is on the SPLC's list. Some interesting reading here:
    Thule Society - Crystalinks and Madame Helena P. Blavatsky - Crystalinks

    I think that you can make the argument that Hilter and the Nazis were influenced by the writings of Blavatsky but that does not mean that the modern Theosophical Society teaches hatred and encourages white supremacy.
    Here is another link that I found that has detailed information about Theosophy:
    Theosophy: modern articles, history and archives

    and
    The link between Ariosophy and Theosophy:

    Was Blavatsky a Nazi? - Theosophy FAQ

    http://www.katinkahesselink.net/kh/blavatsky-ethics.html
     
  6. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Janz, thanks for the info. about the Thule Society. Their ideas do look similar to another group that we have been discussing.



    Thule Society - Crystalinks
     
  7. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    @Avi: Did you read any of the other links? I don't think that the Thule Society and the Theosophical Society have anything in common at this point and time but you seem to have a blind spot and so be it. Just trying to expand your vision..the White Brotherhood is NOT about race and one definition of an ascended master is an individual who has undergone the process of ascension. Throughout history, there have been stories of these individuals who have reached a higher state of spiritual awareness and placed themselves in service to humanity. One concept of an ascended master derives from the teachings of Theosophy. In Theosophy, and various descendants and offshoots of theosophy, ascended masters are a group of spiritually enlightened beings, once mere mortals, who have undergone a process of spiritual transformation. According to these teachings, they remain attentive to the spiritual needs of humanity, and act as superintendents of its spiritual growth. In this, they can be compared to the Great White Brotherhood or Secret Chiefs who are posited by various magical organizations; and more remotely, to the bodhisattvas of Buddhism, or the saints of Catholic and Orthodox Christianity.

    This has nothing to do with the notion of a "superior white race."

    "Blavatsky brought attention to the existence of ascended spiritual leaders through her activities which included channelling messages from beings she called "Mahatmas", especially her spirit guide "Koot Hoomi" or "Kuthumi."

    From these beginnings, her successors in the Theosophical Society leadership, Annie Besant and especially Charles W. Leadbeater, developed the mythology of Ascended Masters, and fleshed out many of their alleged biographies and past lives. Leadbeater's 1925 book, The Masters and the Path, marked the crystalization of the lore that had accumulated around the concept of Ascended Masters into a published, public form.

    Belief in ascended masters is also found among the followers of the I AM movement, the Temple of the Presence, and Elizabeth Clare Prophet's Church Universal and Triumphant. The occult organization, Servants of the Light, claim to have contact with an ascended master. Many New Age channelers routinely talk about the Masters, taking it as given that they exist.

    The Great White Brotherhood
    In some versions of the doctrine, the ascended masters, as a collegiate body, are the "Great White Brotherhood," white referring to advanced spirituality rather than race - very much like "Gandalf the White" after his victory over the Balrog in The Lord of the Rings. In fact, most early reports of the masters described them as racially Tibetan or Hindi, not Anglo. Belief in the Brotherhood and the masters is an essential part of the syncretistic teachings of these several groups. Various important spiritual leaders such as Jesus, the Prophet Muhammad, the Virgin Mary, and Kuan Yin the compassionate bodhisattva, take their seats alongside magical or alchemical personalities like the Count of St. Germain, and other mystic celebrities like Kuthumi, one of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky's claimed spiritual guides - all of these leaders have put aside any differences they might have had in their Earthly careers, and unite instead to improve the spiritual well-being of the human race."

    Ascended Masters - Crystalinks

    The Thule Society perverted these teachings to advance the notion of a superior Ayran Race. They are documented as a white supremacist hate group; the Theosophical Society is NOT.

    I am not an apologist for Theosophy as it doesn't look like my cup of tea; however, I did want to research this issue to come to my own conclusions just as I hope others will do as well. That's all folks. :)
     
  8. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Janz, that is fine, we should all do our own research and reach our own conclusions about Theosophy.

    The more I learn about Theosophy the more concerned I become.
     
  9. nativeastral

    nativeastral fluffy future

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  10. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Janz,

    I think that many Theosophists would not say that the I AM movement and the idea of Ascended Masters are a part of Theosophy. It is true that Leadbeater said Ascended Masters exist, but many Theosophists disagree.
     
  11. Janz

    Janz What's Amatta U

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    @ Nick: I recognize that from my reading..what I wanted to show is that the belief of Ascended Masters and the "Great White Brotherhood" was NOT a basis for accusing Theosophists of being a white supremacist hate group. Plus the Thule Society has it's roots in perverting those teachings.

    @nativeastral..thanks and I agree. The articles from the American Theosophical Society are very informative and I find quite a bit of their teachings very interesting. Makes me want to do some more exploring and Bishop John Shelby Spong is one of my faves. That conference in April 2010 is one that I could attend and who knows, I may be there since I have many friends in that part of Illinois.:)
     
  12. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Janz,

    Thanks for that information. I had not heard of the Thule Society, nor had I heard of its negative effect on Theosophy.

    Most Theosophists only talk about two Masters, Master M. and Master K.H., the two Masters who started the Theosophical Society.
     
  13. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    Hi Janz,
    Blavatsky didn't use the term "Ascended Masters" (and I don't think Leadbeater did). That arose from Ballardism Psychic Dictatorship in America
    A great factional book on the Thule is-
    -From wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Lance
     
  14. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Leadbeater may not have used the term Ascended Masters (such a term may not yet have been coined), but he believed in Ascended Masters in a way that, in my humble opinion, Blavatsky would not have approved of.

    Here is Leadbeater's book, The Masters And The Path

    Theosophy : The Masters and the Path by C.W. Leadbeater : AnandGholap.net

    In paragraphs 96-103 Leadbeater clearly makes such "non-Blavatsky-approvable" references. In fairness, I must say that there Theosophists who disagree with me. The beauty of Theosophy is that disagreeing is allowed, nay, encouraged, but in a positive and helpful way.
     
  15. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    Nick, you'd be right at home in the Pasadena Society, or maybe even the ULT- no Leadbeater on the bookshelf at either of those. I have visited the rooms of all three societies. I've even entertained the present leader of one in my own home.
    Despite his faults (Leadbeater's), the society had it's biggest membership during his time- Anand Gholap is obviously a big fan. He spent a lot of time in Australia- died in Perth I think. Because he spent a lot of time sending written replies to inquirer questions, he developed an easy-to-read style. The pictures of astral forms in one of his books inspired artists like Kandinsky. You can read his biography online- I recommend it.
    Of course, his productions- Liberal Catholic Church, Co Masonry - exist today- The Order of the Star of the East might still exist too. The Esoteric Section is housed in a place called "The Manor" in Mosman- overlooking Sydney Harbour.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manor_(Mosman,_NSW)

    http://www.droit-humain.org/uk/index.html
     
  16. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Here is a very nice resource that I would like to share with you from Kalmar University in Sweden. I am attaching the first 6 pages of the paper entitled: "Views from the Great White Brotherhood: a study concerning notions about race in the teachings of the Theosophical Society and the Rosicrucian Fellowship ". This paper was published in 2009.


    Here is a quote from page II of the paper, which I am attaching to this file. This paper provides the rationale which Brian was asking about with respect to why the racist nature of the original Theosophy is still a problem today. It is explained in the paper that it is because racism is still "influential" today.

    In my view this is quite obvious and understandable. It seems like much rationalization is needed in order to support the Theosophical philosophy either yesterday or today.


    I will be glad to provide more relavent citations from the paper as our discussion continues.

    I am glad that Bruce and Nick have decided to join this discussion, it could be interesting.
     

    Attached Files:

  17. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    Greeting Avi,
    I see you have been reading a student paper. Was it a pass or fail?:) Great White Brotherhood is not a term I recall HPB ever using. It's used like White Magic and Black- nothing to do with races.

    As to academic papers, I suggest again you read the books of Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and get back to us.
    He's an actual professor- not a student!
    In reality there is no such thing as "Theosophy teaches"- "Theosophy" doesn't "teach"- theosophical teachers/authors teach. And people agree or disagree- it's their choice. Understandably a lot of what was written in the nineteenth century is out of date now.
    The theosophical ideal must always be to meet all points of view with understanding in order to establish over the entire Globe a harmonious and peaceful relationship based on mutual comprehension. This high ideal brings about a true cosmopolitanism.
    Best Wishes,
    Br. Bruce
     
  18. Avi

    Avi Interfaith Forums

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    Hello Bruce, that is fine, I have been sarcastic several times with you and Nick, so if I dish it out, I need to be able to take it back :), no problem.

    Actually, from what I can tell, the author of this thesis, Ms. Karen Swartz is quite brilliant and I am sure her thesis received wide acclaim.


    This is an interesting gentleman, Bruce. At first when I read some of his pieces on Google Books I thought he was a Theosophist apologist, and I still lean in that direction.

    But I did find one interesting section in one of his books, here it is:

    The occult roots of Nazism: secret ... - Google Books

    Please read pages 90 - 108 in this book. It gives a good explanation of how Theosophy was linked to the early foundations of Nazism.

    That in itself is not new, we have discussed it before, it just gives more detail about von Liebenfelz and his linkage to Theosophy and Nazism. Well written, do you agree Bruce ?

    I think I disagree, Bruce !! :)

    It is the parts that are not out of date that scare me.


    Bruce, you seem like a nice fellow, sort of like Nick was before he put me on ignore (I know I can be a little pesky when I disagree).

    However, I have to tell you, the more I read about Theosophy, the more I agree with Karen Swartz's (the student :)), view. Theosophy is dangerous because it is about racial intolerance. And racial intolerance is always a present danger.

    Bruce, I think Theosopists are actually in a good position to be leaders in trying to heal and deal with racism, because it is an integral part of their past. But what concerns me is I am not hearing from either you or Nick that is one of your goals. You are too busy denying racism to do anything to change it.
     
  19. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Bruce,

    I quite agree. The Theosophical Society is an imperfect vehicle for the philosophy known as Theosophy. The Theosophical Society is not Theosophy, nor will it ever be (as Madame Blavatsky has so clearly said).

    And, as you have pointed out, the Theosophical Society has had its share of imperfect leaders. They give us the freedom to be imperfect, so I suppose we should do the same for them (within limits).

    As a matter of fact, I am a member of the Adyar Society. I didn't really know their were other Theosophical organizations. Then I moved to Los Angeles and had qute a rude awakening. None of are perfect, but hopefully we are all helping each other make progress along the Path.
     
  20. Bruce Michael

    Bruce Michael New Member

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    Avi,
    I have read all three of those books by Goodrick-Clarke- I got them on an inter-library loan - and got a dirty look from the librarian.
    Those Ariosophists (Listians) were put in concentration camps. Even today, I know that there are Black Magicians who study HPB- they don't get their philosophy of selfishness and hatred from her, they bring their own- just like the Nazis. Occultism is a two-edged sword- morally neutral.

    You may disagree that there is no official theosophical society teaching, but the truth is based on fact, not supposition and vague feelings. So far you have not stepped foot into any theosophical society. If you did you'd find there are people of all races- after all Universal Brotherhood is the theme. There is even an organization in Nigeria.

    There is no such thing as "the official teachings of the Theosophical Society" or "Theosophical dogmas". The only objects are the three mentioned.
    Some in the past may have taken some ideas from HPB twisted them around and turned them inside out , making a sow's ear out of a silk purse. She is not karmically or morally responsible for that. She had a sharp tongue and sometimes would swear like a trooper, that is true.

    There are some organizations that want to tell you who you should marry, what you should eat and wear. And then if you want to leave they'll shun, physically harm or even kill you. That is fascism; the Theosophical Society is not a fascist society, it respects the freedoms of its members. Some people don't like freedom, it makes them nervous; they want someone to tell them what to think and do.

    Fascism is dangerous - in all its forms, religious or political.

    In summation, Theosophy is not:

    • What Blavatsky said
    • What Anna Kingsford said
    • What Annie Besant said
    • What Rudolf Steiner said
    Their teachings contradict and yet they were all leaders.
     

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