Monday, 25 April 2016

Blavatsky on the I-Ching or Book of Changes

"The Yi-King, “the very essence of ancient thought and the combined work of the most venerated sages, fails to show a distinct cosmogony.” Nevertheless, there is one, and a very distinct one. Only as Confucius did not admit of a future life† and the Chinese Buddhists reject the idea of One Creator, accepting one cause and its numberless effects, they are misunderstood by the believers in a personal God.
The “great Extreme” as the commencement “of changes” (transmigrations) is the shortest and perhaps the most suggestive of all Cosmogonies, for those who, like the Confucianists, love virtue for its own sake, and try to do good unselfishly without perpetually looking to reward and profit.
The “great Extreme” of Confucius produces “two figures.” These “two” produce in their turn “the four images”; these again “the eight symbols.” It is complained that though the Confucianists see in them “Heaven, Earth and man in miniature,” . . . we can see in them anything we like. No doubt, and so it is with regard to many symbols, especially in those of the latest religions. But they who know something of Occult numerals, see in these “figures” the symbol, however rude, of a harmonious progressive Evolution of Kosmos and its beings, both the Heavenly and the Terrestrial. And any one who has studied the numerical evolution in the primeval cosmogony of Pythagoras (a contemporary of Confucius) can never fail to find in his Triad, Tetractis and Decade emerging from the one and solitary Monad, the same idea. Confucius is laughed at by his Christian biographer for “talking of divination” before and after this passage, and is represented as saying: “The eight symbols determine good and ill fortune, and these lead to great deeds. There are no imitable images greater than heaven and earth. There are no changes greater than the four seasons (meaning North, South, East and West, et seq.). There are no suspended images brighter than the sun and moon. In preparing things for use, there is none greater than the sage. In determining good and ill-luck there is nothing greater than the divining straws and the tortoise.”*

Therefore, the “divining straws” and the “tortoise,” the “symbolic sets of lines,” and the great sage who looks at them as they become one and two, and two become four, and four become eight, and the other sets “three and six,” are laughed to scorn, only because his wise symbols are misunderstood.

† If he rejected it, it was on the ground of what he calls the changes — in other words, rebirths — of man, and constant transformations. He denied immortality to the personality of man — as we do — not to man." (The Secret Doctrine I, p. 440-41)

Friday, 15 April 2016

12 Theosophical Books that Changed the World

It is now generally accepted that the early Theosophical Society was tremendously influential. Why was that so? One reason can be found by taking a glance at some of the early publications. The twelve works presented below are all in their own way, very remarkable, original, innovative works. Many of them were very successful, had a stunning level of erudition, and/or have become spiritual classics. Note that the important classic works of Blavatsky and William Q. Judge have not been included; therefore even without the major works of two of the main founders, the early theosophical literature gives evidence of an intellectual force to be reckoned with and these works all remain compelling reading today.

1. James Ralston Skinner - Key to the Hebrew-Egyptian Mystery in the Source of Measures Originating the British Inch and the Ancient Cubit (1875)

James Ralston Skinner (1830-1893) was an attorney, a very learned freemason and kabbalist from Cincinnati, Ohio whose correspondence with Blavatsky has survived.

2. Henry Steel OlcottBuddhist Catechism (1881)

Colonel Henry Steel Olcott  (2 August 1832 – 17 February 1907) was an American military officer, journalist, lawyer and the co-founder and first President of the Theosophical Society.

3. Anna KingsfordThe Perfect Way, or the Finding of Christ  (1882)

Anna Mary Kingsford (née Bonus, September 16, 1846 – February 22, 1888) was an English anti-vivisection, vegetarian and women's rights campaigner and was a prominent figure among mystics and theosophists in the 1880's. She was one of the first English women to obtain a degree in medicine.

4. William Stainton MosesSpirit Teachings (1883)

William Stainton Moses (originally Moseyn) (November 5, 1839 - September 5, 1892) was an English clergyman, writer, and editor. He was a Spiritualist and member of the Theosophical Society

5. Alfred Percy SinnettEsoteric Buddhism  (1883)

Alfred Percy Sinnett (18 January 1840, in London – 26 June 1921) was an English newspaper editor, author and theosophist.

6. Gerald MasseyThe Natural Genesis (2 vols.)  (1883)

Gerald Massey (29 May 1828 – 29 October 1907) was an English poet and writer on Spiritualism and Ancient Egypt. He contributed several articles to early issues of Blavatsky's magazine, Lucifer.

7. Laura Holloway & Mohini Chatterji – Man, Fragments of a Forgotten History (1885)

Laura Carter Holloway-Langford (1843-1930) was an American journalist and writer.

Mohini Mohun Chatterji (1858 - 1936) was a Bengali attorney and scholar who belonged to a prominent family that for several generations had mediated between Hindu religious traditions and Christianity.[1] He joined the Theosophical Society in 1882 and became Assistant Secretary of the Bengal branch.

8. Mabel CollinsLight on the Path  (1885)

Mabel Collins (9 September 1851 – 31 March 1927) was a theosophist and author of over 46 books.

9. T. Subba RowNotes on the Baghavad Gita (1888)

Tallapragada Subba Row Garu (July 6, 1856 - June 24, 1890) was a brilliant Advaita Vedantist who became an early Theosophist. A strict Brahman, he was trained as a Vakil (Pleader) within the Indian justice system, a highly profitable profession. He practiced law at Madras.

10.  Franz HartmannMagic, Black and White (1888)

Franz Hartmann (22 November 1838, Donauwörth – 7 August 1912, Kempten im Allgäu) was a German medical doctor, theosophist, occultist, geomancer, astrologer, and author. His works include several books on esoteric studies and biographies of Jakob Böhme and Paracelsus. He translated the Bhagavad Gita into German and was the editor of the journal Lotusblüten. He was at one time a co-worker of Helena Blavatsky at Adyar. In 1896 he founded a German Theosophical Society.

 11. G.R.S. MeadOrpheus (1896)

George Robert Stowe Mead (March 22, 1863 in Peckham, Surrey[1] (Nuneaton, Warwickshire?)[2] - September 28, 1933 in London)[3]) was an English historian, writer, editor, translator, and an influential member of the Theosophical Society, as well as the founder of the Quest Society. His scholarly works dealt mainly with the Hermetic and Gnostic religions of Late Antiquity, and were exhaustive for the time period.

12. Frederick Myers Human Personality and its Survival after Bodily Death (2 vols.) (1903)

Frederic William Henry Myers (6 February 1843, in Keswick, Cumberland – 17 January 1901, in Rome) was a poet, classicist, philologist, early British theosophist and a founder of the Society for Psychical Research.[1] Myers' work on psychical research and his ideas about a "subliminal self" were influential in his time.


Friday, 8 April 2016

William Q. Judge on Critical Thinking

"A Fundamental axiom in Theosophy is that no one should accept as unquestionably true any statement of fact, principle, or theory which he has not tested for himself. This does not exclude a reasonable reliance upon testimony; but only that blind credulity which sometimes passes for faith.
As we understand the rule, it is that we should at all times keep a clear and distinct boundary between what we know, and what we only accept provisionally on the testimony of those who have had larger experience until we reach a point of view from which we can see its truth. We owe it to ourselves to enlarge the sphere of clear knowledge and to push back as far as possible the boundary of opinion and hypothesis.

The realm of knowledge has various departments. Our physical senses furnish us one class of knowledge; our intellectual powers investigate another field on mathematical lines; and yet another faculty enables us to apprehend ethical teachings and to trace them to their true basis in Karma. That we have other faculties, now largely latent, which when developed will enable us to enter other fields of observation and investigation, is beginning to be seen and appreciated."

From "Rounds and Races", The Path, December, 1892

image courtesy of:

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Blavatsky on Spiritual Resurrection

"Two things become evident to all in the above passages, now that their false rendering is corrected in the revision text: (a) "the coming of Christ," means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of "Christ" Jesus; (b) this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor "in the inner chambers," nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ — the true esoteric SAVIOR — is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the "sepulcher" of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him.(3) The "Son of Man" is no child of the bond-woman — flesh, but verily of the free-woman — Spirit (4), the child of man's own deeds, and the fruit of his own spiritual labor. "

"The first key that one has to use to unravel the dark secrets involved in the mystic name of Christ, is the key which unlocked the door to the ancient mysteries of the primitive Aryans, Sabeans and Egyptians. The Gnosis supplanted by the Christian scheme was universal. It was the echo of the primordial wisdom-religion which had once been the heirloom of the whole of mankind; and, therefore, one may truly say that, in its purely metaphysical aspect, the Spirit of Christ (the divine logos) was present in humanity from the beginning of it. The author of the Clementine Homilies is right; the mystery of Christos — now supposed to have been taught by Jesus of Nazareth — "was identical" with that which from the first had been communicated "to those who were worthy," as quoted in another lecture. (16) We may learn from the Gospel according to Luke, that the "worthy" were those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the Gnosis, and who were "accounted worthy" to attain that "resurrection from the dead" in this life . . . . "those who knew that they could die no more, being equal to the angels as sons of God and sons of the Resurrection." In other words, they were the great adepts of whatever religion; and the words apply to all those who, without being Initiates, strive and succeed, through personal efforts to live the life and to attain the naturally ensuing spiritual illumination in blending their personality — (the "Son") with (the "Father,") their individual divine Spirit, the God within them. This "resurrection" can never be monopolized by the Christians, but is the spiritual birth-right of every human being endowed with soul and spirit, whatever his religion may be. Such individual is a Christ-man. On the other hand, those who choose to ignore the Christ (principle) within themselves, must die unregenerate heathens — baptism, sacraments, lip-prayers, and belief in dogmas notwithstanding. " (Blavatsky - The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, part I, Lucifer, Nov. 1887)

painting by: , Kiev 1887