Key Ideas of Theosophy

Skull and FHD,

The benefit to labelling urselves as this or that is so people can quickly identify what kind of belief system we have. And, if we identify ourselves as, for example, a theosophist of Theosophist, it makes it easier for other theosophists or Theosophists to quickly spot us and strike up theosophical conversations with us. I always enjoy finding a fellow Theosophist so I can quickly and easily get into a discussion with them, instead of going through a long list of different beliefs and seeing where the other person is. Using labels in this way saves a lot of time. As soon as someone tells me they are a fundamental Christian, I can quickly taylor the way I discuss ideas with them.
Back to the topic; here is WQ Judge, disciple of Blavatsky giving three valuable ideas of Theosophy:


From Echoes of the Orient, II pp. 9-10; second edition, Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 2009, p. 12.

Among many ideas brought forward through the theosophical movement there are three which should never be lost sight of. Not speech, but thought, really rules the world; so, if these three ideas are good let them be rescued again and again from oblivion.

The first idea is, that there is a great Cause — in the sense of an enterprise — called the Cause of Sublime Perfection and Human Brotherhood. This rests upon the essential unity of the whole human family, and is a possibility because sublimity in perfectness and actual realization of brotherhood on every plane of being are one and the same thing. All efforts by Rosicrucian, Mystic, Mason and Initiate are efforts toward the convocation in the hearts and minds of men of the Order of Sublime Perfection.

The second idea is, that man is a being who may be raised up to perfection, to the stature of the Godhead, because he himself is God incarnate. This noble doctrine was in the mind of Jesus, no doubt, when he said that we must be perfect even as is the father in heaven. This is the idea of human perfectibility. It will destroy the awful theory of inherent original sin which has held and ground down the western Christian nations for centuries.

The third idea is the illustration, the proof, the high result of the others. It is, that the Masters those who have reached up to what perfection this period of evolution and this solar system will allow are living, veritable facts, and not abstractions cold and distant. They are, as our old H.P.B. so often said, living men. And she said, too, that a shadow of woe would come to those who should say they were not living facts, who should assert that “the Masters descend not to this plane of ours.” The Masters as living facts and high ideals will fill the soul with hope, will themselves help all who wish to raise the human race.

Let us not forget these three great ideas.

"Do we have a soul?" asks Nick the Pilot. Speaking loosely I would say we are a soul, to which a body is attached.
Agreed ... and I think this is a general view, or understanding of the fundamentals, existentially and ontologically speaking, shared by many Theosophists. It agrees with the idea of Cartesian Dualism, giving preference to the res cogitans as sub-standing the res extensa, making all that we contact with our senses subordinate to the unseen, usually intangible worlds of emotion, thought and Soul reality. The latter is the domain of Plato's Ideals, and there we find true Virtue ... as objective as a person's physical body, or emotional and psychological disposition or temperament, if we have the tools for proper analysis.

If I want to measure the fruit of a pear tree, I will need two things. One, a proper gauge ... meaning something that makes sense, relative to what we have come to expect, or MIGHT come to expect, from a pear tree. This refers to height, thickness, color, health of the pear tree and even taste of the pear fruit. But there is another thing which we take for granted, and this is the physical instrument, or set of instruments and equipment, including our various faculties [physical senses, plus cognitive abilities] of consciousness ... necessary in order to compare, or do the actual measurements, of the pear tree.

The metaphor, when applied to human beings - including material, psychological and spiritual growth, or Evolution - produces some of that understanding which Judge is characterizing in the quote provided. Or at least, that's how I interpret what is being said about Humanity's Goal ... and what Theosophy has to say about the subject, regardless as to which exoteric religious tradition is being Illuminated. Theosophy does its best to transcend the pure subjectivity of the exoteric, despite the fact that most people only have direct sensory perception of the least of even the physical world ... and - however contradictory it may seem - Theosophy shows that an inner, Universal Reality [of which the res cogitans of Descartes is really just the tip of the iceberg] is in fact, Objective.

Since the example of the Masters has come up, I wonder: Would most of us even know it, if such a being walked past us in the grocery store? Assume that, for whatever unusual reason, a Mahatma really did pass through such a building, perhaps as an `ordinary shopper.' How might we even have a CLUE that the person next to us ... represents another Kingdom of Evolution, entirely - and the pinnacle of such, at that? ;)

I'm curious: I think you said you are a Buddhist, but Buddhists say we do not 'have' a 'soul.' How do you resolve this discrepancy?
It kinda-sorta depends on what one means by soul. The doctrine of anatta (often taught as "no-soul") is really a doctrine of "no-self". The Dharma in the earliest writings is pretty explicit that the maya is mind-stuff as well as physical-stuff and beyond is soul- or spirit-stuff. Hence, there is only soul or spirit. This is at least the view of the older traditions of the middle way as I understand it.

I'm curious: I think you said you are a Buddhist, but Buddhists say we do not 'have' a 'soul.' How do you resolve this discrepancy?

Buddha taught according to the spiritual readiness of the person or persons. Thus there are very many forms of buddhadharma. Within the Mahayana is a type called Yogacara. Buddha taught, in Yogacara Buddhism, that we have 8 consciousnesses. The eighth is called the source or treasury consciousness (alaya-vijnana). It is what transmigrates and is the Buddhist "soul".

Bodhisattva Hsuan Hua taught (in his comments on the Shurangama Sutra, ch. 7):

After one dies then, the eighth consciousness is called the intermediate skandha body. Before one dies it is called the present skandha body. It is also known as the “soul” and as the “Buddha nature.”

This sure brings up a bunch of issues. I have found that almost all Buddhists reject the idea of a 'soul' and call anyone who believes in a 'soul' a non-Buddhist. I now call myself "...a Buddhist, but not in the traditional sense of the word." It sounds like you and I are in the same boat on this one.

Have you been rejected by Buddhists, or told by them that you are not a Buddhist because of what you belive?

This sure brings up a bunch of issues. I have found that almost all Buddhists reject the idea of a 'soul' and call anyone who believes in a 'soul' a non-Buddhist. I now call myself "...a Buddhist, but not in the traditional sense of the word." It sounds like you and I are in the same boat on this one.

Have you been rejected by Buddhists, or told by them that you are not a Buddhist because of what you belive?

The understanding of alaya-vijnana is not clear to most Buddhists, me included. Besides, I do not care what people think about my views.

This is a thread about key ideas of Blavatsky's Theosophy - could we get back on topic?
Okay, is this a dogma? You must believe Blavatsky or you are not a theosophist? I just get the willies when someone talks about secret masters and hidden teachings. Yes, I can accept that if it is part of a tradition (sufism or kabbalah or tantra). But claims that are totally subjective (I am no expert, I am just reporting what I have heard or read... sometimes many years ago) like the Golden Glasses and the Tablets of the Book of Mormon or the "received teachings" of "The New Message of God" by someone in a trance do not strike me as really worth my time (IMHO, I may be totally wrong).
Okay, is this a dogma? You must believe Blavatsky or you are not a theosophist? I just get the willies when someone talks about secret masters and hidden teachings. Yes, I can accept that if it is part of a tradition (sufism or kabbalah or tantra). But claims that are totally subjective (I am no expert, I am just reporting what I have heard or read... sometimes many years ago) like the Golden Glasses and the Tablets of the Book of Mormon or the "received teachings" of "The New Message of God" by someone in a trance do not strike me as really worth my time (IMHO, I may be totally wrong).

Is what a dogma? There is no sort of dogma in theosophy.

What claims that are "totally subjective"? The Masters of Blavatsky were flesh and blood and many people other than HPB met them.
The Masters of Blavatsky were flesh and blood and many people other than HPB met them.
This is definitely among the teachings of Theosophy. In fact, the existence of the Great Ones is taught in some form in every exoteric religion. The Tibetan Master calls the Hierarchy the `Society of illumined and organized Minds' ... and hundreds, perhaps thousands of people living today have met one, perhaps even several of the Masters. To do so in the flesh is far more rare than coming under their influence, or inspiration [and resultant Illumination] on the inner planes ... yet we are told that conditions are steadily changing as we progress into the New Era.

Every now and then it's good to speak plainly: Some of us know there are Masters, not because we believe in them, but because we have direct experience with Them. This includes individual encounters of one form or another and in some cases physical meeting ... spoken conversation occurring just as it would with anyone else. It is a most uncanny feeling that one is having awareness on several planes at once, with a shared awareness occurring on the part of the Master and student, while also an undisturbed personal self, or individual awareness is preserved ... and at the same time, the Realization occurs that without Selflessness (a type of detachment), none of the Work that the Masters do would be possible.

In short, there is an Awakening to Community. Pieces begin to fit. It is even possible to understand how a Master can be in the room, or fully present in one location - standing right in front of us, for example - yet also just as fully present, physically, mentally and spiritually, at another location. And of course, we know that this has been confirmed numerous times, and also demonstrated before large groups by some of the Great Ones. Nothing is more certain to amuse a student than to see his Master standing in two different locations, with a slight - almost mischievous smile on his face ... full aware that while mystified, the student is for all practical purposes none the wiser.

If you meet the Buddha on the road ...

It would be great to have direct contact with the Masters, I do not, and I hope you have or soon will. I also find it comforting to think that we have these masters, they have their masters, these masters have even higher masters, in a seemingly unending line of masters all the way back to the original source. It's nice to know someone IS in control at least to some extent.
A Master is an individual who is without ego and whose natural state of awareness is Group-Conscious. This may seem contradictory or paradoxical. It may be that we are not accustomed to such points of view. A Master's very existence, on ANY plane (physical, astral, intellectual or spiritual) is an embodiment of Humanity's Group Conscience, yet neither of these for Him - Consciousness nor Conscience - are experienced as "the sum of many parts." Here, as elsewhere, the maxim rules:
The Whole is Greater than the sum of its parts.
An Ashram has many members, a Group of students is even larger ... and again, the Master's Will is not something that we come up with by majority vote, or by everyone focusing really hard and dreaming it up. Nonetheless, this isn't a poor example of an exercise of the imagination ~ worth trying! ;)

Case in point: The 3rd Stanza of the Great Invocation ...
From the center where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men
The purpose which the Masters know and serve
Here there are Three distinct Wills being implied.

The first is the Will of God. This is where mens minds and hearts are already being directed in the first two lines of the Invocation.

The second will which is mentioned is our individual, tiny little free wills, which each man is given by birth - and which retains [or preserves] his connection with God throughout his entire series of lives. It is this which we cherish so much, and rightly so as it offers us the opportunity to progress and grow. But if it is misused our incarnation is wasted, and a large measure of energy is forever lost.

The third time we are directed to the Will it is the Will of God, again, as best as it is currently able to be expressed by the Christ and the Masters Who work together as the Heart centre of the Planetary Entity.

Hmmm. When I started, I mentioned three distinct Wills. Once I've summarized them, however, I only end up with two. I wonder why that is ... ?

We also need to mention that all Masters are Initiates, and that many of their teachings are not to be given to the general population.

We also need to mention that all Masters are Initiates, and that many of their teachings are not to be given to the general population.
Right. I think this distinction can be understood if we look at the relation between the lesser and Greater Mysteries. Both are the esoteric heart and Soul of every religion, like pieces of a mosiac or tapestry which only fully realizes its purpose once we see the woven or created patterns as a whole.

The lesser mysteries are always available to us ... perhaps most readily through the meat & potatoes of religious myths, always with heroes embodying divine principles and winning struggles against adversity, holding some new spiritual Truth or Imperative on high. The Greater Mysteries I think we can study and understand in many, many forms. It can be in terms of the planes, the Seven principles of Consciousness in man, astrology, Archetypes and prototypes (with their obvious instantiations upon this or any other planet) ... and so on. The example of the Five Initiations (now Six) as given by the Christ corresponds perfectly with the Eastern Teaching as taught by Lord Buddha. And of course, other teachers have presented the evolutionary Ideal accordingly.

Blavatsky familiarized her students with the same Gupta Vidya that was presented in the Vedas [when the Buddha was incarnate as the poet Vyasa, their author], and this is precisely what I think real Theosophy is all about. Those who are interested in a true Apostolic lineage, or Guru Parampara, can discover for themselves just why it is that the ROCK-solid foundation of this Tradition is what even allows the proverbial Yggdrasil to grow upon ... our globe. It would also be true to say that Theosophy is this Foundation, and that is equally valid an observation, but I believe the Wisdom Tradition itself must be carefully considered, lest we make the same mistake of objectification as we tend to do with so much else in our little worlds.

Consider, the Tradition is in the man - just as much as vice versa; I think this is what HPB meant by the statement that we must first become the Path before we can tread it. It is a reminder that objectification is one form of the mind slaying the Real, whereby we make ourself different than anyone or anything else ... by simply dividing It [ourself from another, our environment from our body awareness, etc.]. This is understandable for the earlier, even the largest portion of the path of evolution ... but as we approach the threshhold of spiritual awareness it becomes necessary to learn to identify with a larger whole, a greater sense of Self.

In order for the disciple to know the Master, and to work in the same worlds as do the Great Ones, wherein he also is a Soul, we must point out, the man must grasp that Unity, Peace, Goodwill and even the Purpose of God are already accomplished facts, esoterically. He knows this because he is aware that God has a blueprint or a literal Plan for spiritual and material evolution, either of which can be imagined as quite an encompassing field or arena of activity. The student is at least somewhat aware of the vast Hosts, the Angelic or Devic Agencies [Orders] by Whom and which the Plan is worked out on various levels. He need only ask, if he is keen to serve, how might he best meet a perceived need?

It is a path of Service, above all, which he is seeking to tread, the occultist. In this, he himself is the initiating agent. I agree; we are doing this in the footsteps of the Masters, as best as we are able. It is challenging at times, as we realize the great strain which all disciples and world aspirants are under, especially in the United States - as some can acknowledge. The current President is, my intuition tells me, the return of a Pharaoh of some renown from around the time of Akenaton's reign ... although that's just a general guess. This insight came to me probably about the time Obama was visiting Egypt in 2009, helping to set and keep in motion the wheels of progress in the political areana, where Democracy is especially needed. I was quite moved to realize that another of the Tibetan Master's prophecies is coming true in this capacity:

It is said that as the Reapperance of the World Teacher draws closer, several of the Masters' Ashrams are emerging again onto the physical plane, just as was the case long ago, in Atlantean days. Increasingly, we shall see evidence of the Christ's Reappearance as some of the Ashrams externalize ... and as disciples and Initiates move to leadership positions in many of the world's governments, religions and service organizations. As of several decades ago we already knew that a number of the Masters were active in various of the world's major cities, and the Work has progressed tremendously since the first half of the 20th Century. Additional Teachings are not lacking, and the unbroken chain of the Wisdom Tradition lives on. All that is wanting is for the practicing of Theosophy ... operative vs. speculative. This is always the challenge, isn't it?

Not that I mean to diminish the value of the more speculative, contemplative or philosophical contributions within modern Theosophy. There have been many opportunities over the years for me to study the recent incarnations of a dozen or so of the Masters. By comparing the contributions of numerous students of the Alice Bailey teachings and Theosophical schools, it is possible to gain considerable insight into the nature and variety of the many tests & trials [astrological sign by sign, or Ray temperament by Ray temperament, etc.] which we all must undergo if we wish to accomplish the purpose for our present and future incarnations. I think this is where the crux of Theosophical Teaching rests. What is our Purpose in being here? The question is perhaps the most important we shall ever ask. And its answer must change as the years progress, and that answer must change our lives, else we ought know by now we are deceiving ourselves and losing precious time.

We have goals that we are working toward on a Planetary scale, just as on the individual, and the Masters' focus at this time is largely to assist Humanity by guaranteeing or safeguarding our adjustment to the Aquarian energies of the New Era. The Unity for which we strive, and which the Masters embody and represent, does already exist ... but grasping this fact seems to be the problem often enough. It's as if some people prefer not to imagine that an Intelligent, Loving Deity might truly architect worlds [even by the many billions] in which far more yet exists to be discovered UNDER {each respective} Heaven, than [is as yet known] in some of our wildest philosphies.

The lesser mysteries should never be given short shrift, since these are the true foundation upon which our own individual [and collective] understanding must be built in order for greater Revelation to be afforded. This means that there is an order in which we are asked to approach the Mysteries, or the waypoints along the Path. Christ symbolized these in five great events in the life of Jesus, from Birth to Resurrection & Ascension. A man can certainly progress rapidly along the spiritual path, following in the footsteps of the Great Ones ... even emulating the Lord of Light and Love Himself. He cannot, however, skip any steps along the Way, and as always, he will have to learn to walk before he is taught to fly. "Fools rush in ..." as the adage goes. One great Initiate told me, "If you want to study Kabbalah, first master the TORAH." Her words ring true on several levels!

Anyway, those are some thoughts that come to mind, as this is a study I have long been passionate about. In some instances, I believe it is helpful to focus upon the particular line of incarnations of some one of the Masters ... in order to help us see how a particular type of soul tends to reincarnate - towards the end of the spiritual path. While there have been several projects put into print along these same lines, often looking at incarnations many dozens of lifetimes ago, I find it more useful to look toward the END of the series of embodiments, leading up to the higher initiations which each Master has taken. And again, although we know that each Masters is a master of ALL the Seven Rays, we also learn that each Master is most closely associated with some particular Ray, perhaps even expressing a sub-Ray of one of the Seven Ray Ashrams.

Master DK, for example, though a 2nd Ray Master under Master KH, has an Ashram which seems to be upon the 5th sub-Ray of the 2nd Ray. This is evident as you study his writings, and it will be confirmed by the intution ... if it is a correct observation. The Master Jupiter, or Narayan {Lord Agastya, the `Old Gentleman,' as HPB called Him}, is the senior ranking member of the Hierarchy, the Tibetan tells us ... being the oldest member. He takes other Masters as His students, and is very learned in astrology, as is Master DK, who knows more about the Rays than any of the Masters. These statements, of course, are seemingly paradoxical or problematic, if we forget that the Masters share the same awareness to such a degree ... that what is known by any one of them, can be easily and instantly shared with any other.

Master Jupiter is on the 2nd Ray, and has taken the Chohan Initiation, yet He is not the 2nd Ray Chohan ... as this is the Master K.H. Probably this is also true of the Tibetan, who tells us that he took the 5th Initiation in 1875. Students who want a good introduction to the subject of Initiation might look to Alice Bailey's first book, Initiation Human and Solar, which was dictated by the Tibetan to her and published in 1919. Leadbeater apparently picked up some of the same Teaching, although one should carefully note the copyright date of Masters and the Path in order to set matters straight. This should remove a bit of doubt, for those who might not yet have discovered the same Voice speaking through AAB. It was Master DK, we find out, who dictated the largest portions of the Secret Doctrine, with assistance from Masters M and KH, Masters Rakoczy and Hilarion, Jupiter, et al.

The subject is an never-ending ... but the importance of the Ideal of the Masters cannot be overemphsized, as they form the living proof for us that the Spiritual Path does lead to a future worth fighting for. Initiation is a forcing process, and our planet is very much undergoing a process of emergence into greater Light, coming under a greater measure and expression of Love ... and for the first time in its ~4.5 billion year history, the Purpose of God is beginning to occultly Work out, via God's PLAN.

Theosophists have the same opportunities as before, yet on a global scale and with altogether new forms of media ... to instruct the public on some of those methods by which they can get in tune with the Sacred River Alpheus, and occultly serve. It is non-glamorous, often very difficult and humble work, yet the reward is a Joy and an increased degree of Resonsibility and spiritual empowerment, just in proportion as the student demonstrates selfless, heartfelt motivation ... and puts these into Intelligent, Loving action. This has even been the Way: Selfless, Loving SERVICE to one's fellow man as the surest, safest and swiftest way path ~ back to the Heart of God.

I have to ask, with respect to the Hierarchy of Masters, how can such a thing exist in oneness? It seems to be an invention of the mind that they be ranked at all. Mind wishes to compare, to order, but in absolute oneness there cannot be a higher or lower, there cannot be left and right, there cannot be forward and back, there is only this. For me, any Master that presents itself to me, I will say he has not attained to the absolute, he has retained some concept of separation. From where has this personality arisen? Just because they are on a higher plane does not mean they are above us, or at least our potential. They must still be in some sort of suffering, because they desire distinction and to be treated with a special honor. They may exist, they may not, but if they do they are subject also to death, they cannot be forever, that is not the way of things. They are avoiding oneness, still afraid of it, but then how are they any more a Master than us? They may know more, but that doesn't make them higher, it only means their egos are fueled more. If I met one, I would ask why it persists, why it is trying to change man this way or that, I would say to it that it must move on and let those who remain here do what we can to improve this world. The very choice to do this or that creates its antithesis, you force this on people and eventually they will fight back with that. If the highest on high has not realized this, all conscious beings are in trouble, consciousness itself is doomed.

There is the concept that all Bodhisatva's are awaiting the last sentient being to pass into enlightenment before they can, it seems very compassionate. I too wish to help as many as I can here, but still it is a method of delaying, of procrastination. As such, it is deeply flawed, they have not realized absolute truth because they are still looking back, trying to carry others there when they have not allowed themselves to dissolve into it themselves - it is almost hypocritical, like they are scared so they want to do it with the masses, not alone, they still need some sort of support. It is all very human, very much the way of the mind, but the very goal is of no-mind, to simply reside in the being without desire for anything, simple contentment and happiness. It all looks very strange for me, but if you do not know oneness, it probably looks very appealing, so much knowledge to devour, you can feast forever on it. You needn't ever succumb to the calling, you can postpone infinitely.

To what end though? Enjoy life, but it is not possible when death is such a fear, you will always be just avoiding death, never really going into aliveness. When you have lived totally, death is welcomed, you only fight it because you have regrets, things you wish you had done. What do these beings wish they had done? Certainly, they still have not let go.