Studying Theosophy

BCW H.P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, TPH, 1950-91
Dia Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948
Echoes    Echoes of the Orient, W.Q. Judge, PLP, 1975-87
EST Esoteric Teachings, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1987
FEP Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979
FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1974
ISD Invitation to The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1988
Key The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1889)
ML The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, A. Trevor Barker (comp.), TUP, 2nd ed., 1926
SOP Studies in Occult Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1945
TPM Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic, Katherine Tingley, TUP, 3rd ed., 1977

     ‘[Theosophical] doctrines, if seriously studied, call forth, by stimulating one’s reasoning powers and awakening the inner in the animal man, every hitherto dormant power for good in us, and also the perception of the true and the real, as opposed to the false and the unreal.’ (BCW 10:165)

     ‘ “The road winds uphill all the way,” brightened by the consciousness of doing right. We can go by two methods: one that of study and devotion combined; the other that of devotion. But the latter is no easier than the former. It is vastly longer, and extends over many more lives than the other. ... [T]hose who combine study with devotion are not dragged down so often, because they have at least some good understanding and philosophy to guide their steps. ... Virtue is needed, but so also is good sound philosophy and wisdom. ... We may all be very virtuous and yet quite unwise. The [Theosophical] Society needs wisdom as well as virtue in its members.’ (Echoes 3:391-2)

     ‘Much study will lead to book-knowledge, but unless the waking man follows to the best of his ability the ethical precepts he will lose most of his work by death. ... The middle course should be pursued; by attending to right philosophy so as to inform the brain and mind, and by also studying and fully practicing ethics and all the virtues.’ (Echoes 3:460-1)

     ‘If the student will accept the primary truths of theosophy, and will seek to live according to them, every page and every line of The Secret Doctrine will have its message for him. But mere book study will avail little; something more than that is required and demanded: the full understanding of the teachings is possible only as the life conforms to those teachings. The true doctrine is secret, hidden; not by the teacher, but in the very nature of the teaching itself, and to gain it, the student must enter by the only door which gives entrance – the living of the life.’ (TPM 41-2)

     ‘The loss of soul usually is caused in its beginnings by a loss of ideals; and for a similar reason I have always highly approved of the study of the cosmic structure and therefore of planetary chains and rounds and races, and similar fundamental teachings, for they elevate the mind out of matter, induce feelings of a common unity or of universal brotherhood, and are therefore seen to have immense and powerful ethical or moral value, with its consequent effect on us.’ (SOP 597)

     ‘It is most interesting to note that these subjects, which so many people have misunderstood to be merely interesting questions for intellectual entertainment, are intimately involved with the moral, and with the spiritual, nature of man; and no man can have a proper comprehension of ethics and morals without understanding his proper place in the universe: his origin, his nature, and his destiny. What morals need in Occidental thought is a foundation based on science and philosophy.’ (FEP 450)

     ‘I have heard it said sometimes that what theosophists should do is to concentrate on the ethical or moral values, and that rounds and races and that kind of thing are merely high-brow intellectual studies. Don’t believe it! There is inspiration in these teachings about the rounds and races. They are exercises for the higher intellect. They are exercises for the spirit-part of us; and, best of all, they teach us our perfect unity with all that is. They show us the reason for ethics, how ethics are based on the common brotherhood of all things that exist and are. They show us our essential unity, not only with the different family-groups evolving on our own planetary chain, but with the entire cosmos. ... Spiritually, ethically, intellectually, in every way they are worthy of your highest regard. [But if] a man or a woman belonging to the T.S. has merely an intellectual interest in some of these teachings, and likes to spend time in speculations upon them, the while neglecting his duties, then of course he ... is doing wrong.’ (Dia 2:336-7)

     Mahatma KH to A.P. Sinnett: ‘You share with all beginners the tendency to draw too absolutely strong inferences from partly caught hints, and to dogmatize thereupon as though the last word has been spoken.’ (ML 348)

     ‘In studying these teachings we should constantly endeavor to keep the processes of our thought and consciousness fluid, thus avoiding the danger of mental crystallization, or the perilous self-satisfaction of believing that there is “not very much more to learn.” This feeling arises in the astral-material brain-mind, which dearly loves to pigeonhole facts – although, admittedly, having one’s ideas in order is very necessary. The attempt to keep the mind fluid, while often making us uncomfortable, puts the brain-mind in its proper place and makes it a flexible servant instead of a rigid taskmaster.’ (FSO 603)

     ‘There is no single doctrine of theosophy that can be completely understood alone. You can understand them with relative perfection only when you know something of them all; and the skilled theosophical thinker and student is he who remembers a few simple fundamental lines of the thought, of the doctrine, and unifies his ideas, synthesizes the doctrines, and thus gets a relatively complete picture.’ (EST 10:15)

     ‘Do not construe mere words too strictly. Get ideas, and endeavor to coalesce these ideas, to blend them into each other, so as to get a picture of things. ... Let words be mere thought-carriers to your minds, and not stumbling blocks.’ (Dia 3:168)

     ‘What the masters are now imparting are, so to speak, elementary fragments of the ancient wisdom religion. Much of the teaching they are now giving us is in the form of problems for ourselves to solve ...’ (Echoes 2:439)

     ‘[Solving paradoxes] quickens our intuition, and that is one of the main aims and purposes of this system of teaching ...’ (FEP 339)

     ‘Occult truth cannot be absorbed by a mind that is filled with preconception, prejudice, or suspicion. It is something to be perceived by the intuition rather than by the reason; being by nature spiritual, not material.’ (BCW 10:128)

     ‘To the mentally lazy or obtuse, Theosophy must remain a riddle; for in the world mental as in the world spiritual each man must progress by his own efforts.’ (Key xi) ‘Theosophy is for those who can think, or for those who can drive themselves to think, not mental sluggards.’ (ISD 4)

     ‘One of the first rules that a neophyte is taught is never to ask a question until he has tried earnestly and repeatedly to answer it. Because the attempt to do so is an appeal to the intuition. It is also an exercise. It strengthens one’s inner powers.’ (FSO 38)

     ‘The Theosophical Society was founded to destroy dogmatism. ... If our effort is to succeed, we must avoid dogmatism in theosophy as much as in anything else, for the moment we dogmatise and insist on our construction of theosophy, that moment we lose sight of universal brotherhood and sow the seeds of future trouble. ... All that anyone is asked to subscribe to is universal brotherhood, and its practice in the search for truth.’ (Echoes 1:206-7)

     ‘The first object [of the TS] is the formation of a nucleus of a universal brotherhood. ... This first object means philanthropy. Each theosophist should not only continue his private or public acts of charity, but also strive to so understand theosophical philosophy as to be able to expound it in a practical and easily understood manner, so that he may be a wider philanthropist by ministering to the needs of the inner man. ... [T]he higher philanthropy calls for a spreading among men of a right basis for ethics, for thought, for action.’ (Echoes 1:260)

     ‘The human constitution is a mystery of mysteries, a wonder of wonders. ... Every great religious philosophy or philosophical religion that the world has ever known has, through its teachings pointed directly to man’s constitution as containing not only all the mysteries in the universe, but as containing likewise the master-key unlocking those mysteries themselves. In proportion ... as man learns to know himself, does he become able to unlock the mysteries of the universe around him, which in his ignorance and folly he imagines to be outside of himself.
     ‘One of the greatest objectives of the Theosophical Society, and of our teaching, both esoteric and exoteric, is to awaken man to know himself; what he is, what is in him, what his duty in the world is, and how to live his life not merely nobly and grandly, but how so to live it that he may bring out from within himself the more than human qualities, i.e., the buddhic splendor ...’ (SOP 374)

* * *

    ‘True knowledge is of spirit and in spirit alone, and cannot be acquired in any other way except through the reign of the higher mind, the only plane from which we can penetrate the depths of the all-pervading Absoluteness. He who carries out only those laws established by human minds, who lives that life which is prescribed by the code of mortals and their fallible legislation, chooses as his guiding star a beacon which shines on the ocean of maya or temporary delusions, and lasts for but one incarnation. These laws are necessary for the life and welfare of physical man alone. He has chosen a pilot who directs him through the shoals of one existence, a master who parts with him, however, on the threshold of death. How much happier that man who, while strictly performing on the temporary objective plane the duties of daily life, carrying out each and every law of his country, and rendering, in short, to Caesar what is Caesar’s, leads in reality a spiritual and permanent existence, a life with no breaks of continuity, no gaps, no interludes, not even those periods which are the halting places of the long pilgrimage of purely spiritual life. All the phenomena of the lower human mind disappear like the curtain of a proscenium, allowing him to live in the region beyond it, the plane of the noumenal, the one reality. If man by suppressing, if not destroying, his selfishness and personality, only succeeds in knowing himself as he is behind the veil of physical maya, he will soon stand beyond all pain, all misery, and beyond all the wear and tear of change, which is the chief originator of pain. Such a man will be physically of matter, he will move surrounded by matter, and yet he will live beyond and outside it. His body will be subject to change, but he himself will be entirely without it, and will experience everlasting life even while in temporary bodies of short duration. All this may be achieved by the development of unselfish universal love of humanity, and the suppression of personality, or selfishness, which is the cause of all sin, and consequently of all human sorrow.’ (BCW 12:537-8)

compiled by David Pratt. January 1998.

Theosophy and the Theosophical Society