What does this Wisdom Tradition teach?
The three basic ideas of Theosophy are (1) the fundamental unity of all
existence, so that all pairs of opposites—matter and spirit, the human and
the divine, I and thou—are transitory and relative distinctions of an
underlying absolute Oneness, (2) the regularity of universal law,
cyclically producing universes out of the absolute ground of being, and
(3) the progress of consciousness developing through the cycles of life to
an ever-increasing realization of Unity.
That sounds abstract—what do those ideas mean in
daily life and how do we live by them?
These abstract ideas have some very specific and practical
implications, for example the following:
The world we live in is basically a good place, to be used wisely,
to be treasured, and to be honored: rejoice in life.
We develop as human beings, not by forsaking the world, but by
cooperating with nature to preserve and perfect it: respect the
environment and be ecologically responsible.
You and I are different expressions of the same life, so whatever
happens to either of us happens to both of us—our well-being is linked:
help your neighbor, and thereby help yourself.
Disharmony and evil are the result of ignorance and selfishness:
live in harmony and goodness so as to teach others by your life as well
as by your words.
What specific doctrines do Theosophists believe
The Theosophical Society is nondogmatic, and Theosophists are
encouraged to accept nothing on faith or on the word of another, but to
adopt only those ideas that satisfy their own sense of what is real and
important. Theosophy is a way of looking at life rather than a creed.
Modern Theosophy, however, presents ideas like the following for our
consideration, and many Theosophists hold these ideas, not as fixed
beliefs, but as a way of looking at life that explains the world as they
karma (or moral justice),
the existence of worlds of experience beyond the physical,
the presence of life and consciousness in all matter,
the evolution of spirit and intelligence as well as of physical
the possibility of our conscious participation in evolution,
the power of thought to affect one's self and surroundings,
the reality of free will and self-responsibility,
the duty of altruism, a concern for the welfare of others, and
the ultimate perfection of human nature, society, and life.
How do Theosophists regard churches and
Theosophy holds that all religions are expressions of humanity's effort
to relate to one another, to the universe around us, and to the ultimate
ground of being. Particular religions differ from one another because they
are expressions of that effort adapted to particular times, places,
cultures, and needs. Theosophy is not itself a religion, although it is
religious, in being concerned with humanity's effort to relate to ultimate
values. Individual Theosophists profess various of the world's
religions—Christian, Jewish, Moslem, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist. Some
have no religious affiliation. The Society itself is an expression of the
belief that human beings, however diverse their backgrounds, can
communicate and cooperate.
What is the message of Theosophy today?
The problems humanity faces—war, overpopulation, exploitation,
prejudice, oppression, greed, hate—are just the symptoms of a disease. We
need to treat the symptoms, but to cure the disease, we need to eliminate
its cause. The cause of the disease is ignorance of the truth that we are
not merely unconnected, independent beings whose particular welfare can be
achieved at the expense of the general good. The cure is the recognition
that we are all one with each other and with all life in the universe.
Despite the superficial cultural and genetic differences that divide
humanity, we are remarkably homogeneous—physically, psychologically,
intellectually, and spiritually. Biologically, we are a single human gene
pool, with only minor local variations. Psychologically, we respond to
pleasure and pain in the same way. Intellectually, we have the same
curiosity about our place in the universe and the same power to discover
truth. Spiritually, we have a common origin and a common destiny.
We are part and parcel of the totality of existence stretching from
this planet Earth to the farthest reaches of the cosmos in every
conceivable dimension. When we realize our integral connection with all
other human beings, with all other life forms, with the most distant
reaches of space, we will realize that we cannot either harm or help
another without harming or helping ourselves. We are all one.
To know this is to be healthy in body, whole in mind, and holy in
spirit. That ideal is expressed in the following words, known as the
"Universal Invocation," written by Annie Besant, the second President of
the Theosophical Society:
O hidden Life, vibrant in every atom,
O hidden Light, shining in every creature,
O hidden Love, embracing all in oneness,
May all who feel themselves as one with thee
Know they are therefore one with every other.