Theosophical Society's Esoteric Section Rules

Bruce Michael

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Here are the original rules of the Esoteric Section as laid down by H.P.Blavatsky. I'd like to compare these with the rewrite by Dr. Steiner later. Things haven't changed much- note the first three rules.

In the following the masculine includes the feminine; the singular, the plural; and vice versa.
1. Groundless condemnation on hearsay of others, theosophists or not, must be refrained from, and charity to each other's faults widely practiced within, as well as without, the theosophical area.

2. Repetition of statements or gossip derogatory of others must be avoided. But condemnation of crime, of social evils and systems of every description, in the abstract, is a duty of every member. Above all, the duty of every member is to fight against cant, hypocrisy, and injustice in every shape.

3. A derogatory or slanderous statement made against a fellow theosophist in the presence of a member, shall not be permitted by him to pass without protest, unless he knows it is true, in which case he should remain silent.

4. No member shall boast of being in this Section.

5. No member shall pry into the standing in this Section of a Brother, nor shall he uninvited seek to know if another theosophist is a member of it. Members may use the password of the Section for the purpose of recognition, but never from curiosity, nor a desire to discover if the person addressed is a member of the Section.

6. Any member may, if he chooses, remain unknown as such, and that desire, if suspected by others, must not be talked about nor referred to.

7. If a member, whether falsely or truly, asserts that he has received letters or communications from Masters, unless directed to divulge the same, he will ipso facto cease to derive any benefit from the teachings, whether the fact be known or unknown to himself or to others. A
repetition of such offense gives the Head of the Section the right to expel the offender in discretion. In every case where a member shall receive a letter or communication purporting to come from Master or Masters, and which directs the divulgation of its contents or a part thereof, the same before being divulged shall be communicated to H.P.B. directly, if the recipient is in Europe, and to William Q. Judge, if in America, for transmission to said H.P.B. For deception is easy, and, without great experience, members are not able to decide whether such a communication is genuine or not.

8. No member shall, under any circumstances, bring any charge of whatever nature against another member, whether to H.P.B., William Q. Judge, or any other member of the Section. This rule does not imply that the Masters condone, excuse, or tolerate any fault or crime. But no member is the judge of the acts of another member or theosophist, in this Section less than in any other. For, while in every Exoteric Branch, its President and Council decide upon any charges against their Fellows, in this Section each member is to be judged by his Karma and
the Masters alone.

9. No member shall pretend to the possession of psychic powers that he has not, nor boast of those which he may have developed. Envy, jealousy, and vanity are insidious and powerful foes to progress, and it is known from long experience that, among beginners especially, the boasting of, or calling attention to, their psychic powers almost invariably causes the development of these faults and increases them when present. Hence

10 No member shall tell to another, especially to a fellow-member, how much he has progressed or what recognition he has received, nor shall he by hints cause such to be known. Where students of similar tastes and dispositions desire to form a group or groups for mutual help in
training, application must be made to H.P.B. for permission and advice as to the same. But hasty judgment as to the advisability of forming such groups must be avoided. For it may so happen, that two or more members united by a real friendship, may yet be so contrary in their magnetic idiosyncrasies and conditions that their friendship may be changed into hatred on the occult plane, if they form groups without esoteric knowledge.

11. No member shall ask for any orders or instructions as to the conduct of his business affairs or the management of his social relations, or the ordinary affairs of life, nor as to the cure of diseases, whether in himself or in any other person. Questions relative to the instructions given will alone be accepted and attended to.

12. It is required of a member that when a question arises it shall be deeply thought over from all its aspects, to the end that he may find the answer himself; and in no case shall questions be asked out of curiosity, nor until the person has exhausted every ordinary means of solving the doubt or of acquiring himself the information sought.
Otherwise his intuition will never be developed. He will not learn self-reliance; and two of the main objects of the Section will be defeated. For an adept becomes such by his own exertions, by the self-developed merit of his own power; and no one but himself can effect this work. "An adept becomes, he is not made." The office of Guru or Guide is to adjust the disciple in his progress, and not to drag or push him forward.

Re: Esoteric Section Rules

[FONT=&quot]Here is the continuation of the rules- I won't go on.
It was a common idea in the early days that fish eating was close enough to vegetarian. In [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Japan[/FONT][FONT=&quot], vegetarian Buddhists were allowed to eat fish, hence today it is still a largely fish eating nation. Deer was also eaten in [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Japan[/FONT][FONT=&quot] because it was deemed to be a "land whale"- don't ask for an explanation.
You'll see later how Dr. Steiner altered these rules while he was the leader of his own (Theosophical) Esoteric Section.


"13. The use of wine, spirits, liquors of any kind, or any narcotic or intoxicating drug, is strictly prohibited. If indulged in, all progress is hindered, and the efforts of teacher and pupil alike are rendered useless. All such substances have a directly pernicious action upon the brain, and especially upon the "third eye," or pineal gland (vide "Secret Doctrine," Vol.11, p.288 et seq.). They prevent absolutely the development of the third eye, called in the East "the Eye of Siva."

14. The moderate use of tobacco is not prohibited, for it is not an intoxicant; but its abuse, like that of everything else-even pure water or bread-is prejudicial.

15. As to diet: The eating of meat is not prohibited, but if the student can maintain health on vegetables or fish, such diet is recommended. The eating of meat strengthens the passional nature, and the desire to acquire possessions, and therefore increases the difficulty of the struggle with the lower nature.

16. Each member is expected to set apart a certain time of the day or night, of not less than half an hour's duration, for meditation upon the instructions received, for self-examination and self-study. If possible, the place selected for this should be used by no other person, nor for any other purpose; but the providing of such a special place, if inconvenient, is not insisted upon.

17. Harbouring doubt as to the existence of Masters in general is no crime, since it is often but the effect of ignorance, and comes involuntarily. But it will inevitably prevent the pupil in attracting the attention of the Master; and he will fail to draw to himself His influence. Suspicions as to the character of the members of the Section
are also prejudicial to advancement. In short, any malevolent feeling, especially malice, envy or revenge toward any person high or low, creates peculiarly obstructive conditions in the student's path, and will absolutely prevent progress of every sort. The elimination of the desire for reward aids the student in his development.

18. No member of this Section shall belong to any other body, association, or organization for the purpose of mystic study or occult training, except Masonry and the Odd Fellows, if they so desire. But they must be as careful to guard the secrecy of this Section from Masons as they are to preserve the secrets of Masonry from Theosophists. The reason for this rule is so self-evident as to need no explanation.

19. It is expected that all members of this Section shall have the following books and magazines where they can be referred to, as constant reference to them will be made in the course of the instruction, and no extended extracts will be furnished. Works on metaphysics and articles expounding the teachings of our [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Special[/FONT][FONT=&quot]School[/FONT][FONT=&quot] should be procured. The following books and theosophical magazines should be especially attended to:-"The Secret Doctrine."
"The Bhagavad-Gita." "Light on the Path."
"Patanjali's Yoga Philosophy:" "The Theosophist." "Lucifer."
"The Path."
This rule is not intended to force members into the purchase of these books and magazines, but the undersigned has no time to copy extracts, giving explanations that have already appeared in print. Much has been already published, and it will be necessary to refer very often to such matter, and if a member is actually unable to procure the publications referred to, it is expected that others who are able will, upon request, furnish the desired hook or a copy of the matter referred to. And herein the plea of poverty-if a pretence-will he as prejudicial to the student
as any other vice."[/FONT]
Moderator note:

I edited the title of this thread to reflect the content -- the previous title could easily be misinterpreted as though the rules being presented were the rules for the Esoteric section of the Comparative Religion forum (they aren't.)

Ben Gruagach
moderator, Alternative section of
The New Esoteric Section Rules

As I said, we can see how Dr.Steiner "softened" the rules as time went on. You will have noted that meat eating was not forbidden, even from the early days- HPB loved her meat!

Smoking wasn't even mentioned- H.P. Blavatsky was a chain smoker, who, at one time, was known to have indulged in hashish. And there were advanced pupils of Rudolf's that loved a drag on a ***- Albert Steffen (the leader of the Society after Steiner's death) for one.

Alcohol was another matter, as those who've read the original rules would know.

So here we go:
First Rules given by Rudolf Steiner in 1904

"6. The partaking of any kind of alcoholic drink is forbidden to the Shravakas ['hearers'-members of the school], because this would be harmful to the
brain, especially the organ connected with spiritual insight. The contravention of this rule would render all the efforts of both teacher
and pupil ineffective. The only exception to this rule is when the taking of alcohol is prescribed by a doctor.

7. Abstention from the eating of meat is not compulsory, but it is pointed out that a vegetarian diet will help in the struggle against one's lower nature. Changes of diet must be undertaken with the greatest caution."

Now notice how these rules, 1905, (June 5), become very unrule-like (in consideration of the Consciousness Soul):
"6. The partaking of alcohol is incompatible with the aims of meditation.

7. The abstention from eating meat is not statutory but is recommended,
because it works beneficially toward furthering the aims of the Esoteric
The full list of rules is in "From the History and Contents of the Esoteric Section."

On another occasion R.Steiner stated that alcohol was to be avoided even in sweets.

Milk was recommended as a transition food for those giving up meat.