The word ‘Theosophy’ derives from the Greek ‘theosophia’ meaning the wisdom of the Gods or Divine Wisdom. It invokes the Alexandrian philosophers known as the ‘Lovers of the Truth’. The Theosophical Tradition has been known by other names, for example, ‘The Ageless or Ancient Wisdom’, the ‘Wisdom Religion’, the ‘Perennial Philosophy’, ‘The Archaic Eastern Occultism’, and the ‘Wisdom Tradition’.
Theosophy is a multi-faceted teaching. One that gives meaning and purpose to life, that aids our understanding of our own inner nature, and gives insight into the nature of reality. It provides guidelines on the physical body, our psychological nature – both emotional and mental – and our spiritual nature. It can also help students of its teachings to attain inner peace and serenity. It is the spiritual philosophy that has existed since time immemorial capable of guiding spiritual travellers on their spiritual path, leading to both spiritual growth and enlightenment. It seeks the unfoldment of the greatest human qualities such as understanding, insight, intuition, love, compassion, and the expression of human creative potential.
The essence and foundation of all Theosophical thought is contained in the Three Fundamental Propositions, expressed in H. P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine:
- An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought — in the words of Mandukya, “unthinkable and unspeakable.”
- The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically “theplayground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,” called “the manifesting stars,” and the “sparks of Eternity.” “The Eternity of the Pilgrim” is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence (Book of Dzyan.) “The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.”
- The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul — a spark of the former — through the Cycle of Incarnation (or “Necessity”) in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law, during the whole term. In other words, no purely spiritual Buddhi (divine Soul) can have an independent (conscious) existence before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle, — or the over-soul, — has (a) passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that Manvantara, and (b) acquired individuality, first by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by its Karma), thus ascending through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest Manas, from mineral and plant, up to the holiest archangel (Dhyani-Buddha). The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychosis and reincarnations. This is why the Hindus say that the Universe is Brahma and Brahma, for Brahma is in every atom of the universe, the six principles in Nature being all the outcome — the variously differentiated aspects — of the seventh and one, the only reality in the Universe whether Cosmical or micro-cosmical; and also why the permutations (psychic, spiritual and physical), on the plane of manifestation and form, of the sixth (Brahma the vehicle of Brahma) are viewed by metaphysical antiphrasis as illusive and Mayavic. For although the root of every atom individually and of every form collectively, is that seventh principle or the one Reality, still, in its manifested phenomenal and temporary appearance, it is no better than an evanescent illusion of our senses.
Various root concepts and ideas flow consequently from these three basic postulates, of which we identify twelve here:
1) – The Source:
Theosophy is not a new teaching. It is a restatement in the modern era of the ancient wisdom which has its origins at the beginning of man’s existence on earth. Theosophy teaches that there is an absolute infinite Devine Principle which is the source and substratum of all manifested life. This absolute is the causeless cause. It is impersonal, immutable, and unconditioned. The one and only eternal reality that is beyond definition and description. It is not ‘God’ as the religions often understand the concept. A better way to describe it is as “eternal energy” A consciousness that is all and is in all.
2) – Unity:
Theosophy teaches the fundamental unity and divinity of all life. Every entity is divine and spiritual in its innermost essence. i.e., the true self. Our higher self (that part which is truly us) is one with the Divine principle. (Brahman)
3) – Spirit:
Theosophy teaches that there are many souls but only one spirit. We are all individual souls, but at the inner-most aspect of our being we are all literally one.
‘Just as one and the same sun shines over every body on this earth, so one and the same Spirit shines over and illumines every soul.’ (Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita)
4) – Cycles:
Theosophy teaches that the universe is cyclic and is a periodical manifestation of the Divine principle. The formless Divine manifests as the form of the universe. The universe and everything in it evolve over time into more complex forms. The universe will also come to an end as it disintegrates and is reabsorbed into the ground of being from whence it came. A new universe is then reborn into a higher level of consciousness than the universe that existed before.
Theosophy teaches that all things are in a continual process of evolution. It is not only matter that evolves, but the unseen spiritual realms are also evolving. All parts of the universe both physical and spiritual, are in a continual state of gradual unfoldment and advancement and development. The unseen inner entities (souls) are evolving through the material objective forms (bodies).
Man descended as a “Divine Spark” into matter and has worked his way up into the human kingdom by passing through the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms. Now he is evolving back up towards the consciousness of his true spiritual nature.
6) – Seven Principles:
Theosophy teaches that all entities – including the cosmos, the solar system, our planet, and the individual human being – consist of a seven-fold nature – seven principles. The three higher aspects are immortal and endure the passing away of the entity, be it a planet or a person. The lower quaternary endures for one lifetime and disintegrates upon the death of that entity. These lower principles re-integrate with each successive birth.
The same pattern, from spirit to matter, is mirrored in both the macrocosm and the microcosm. In the human being the seven principles are:
The Higher Triad consisting of:
1. The Divine Self – Atman – pure eternal spirit.
2. The Soul – Buddhi – Intuition, the radiation of light of the spirit.
3. Human Saul (mind) – Manas – individuality and ego “I”.
The Lower Quaternary consisting of:
4. The Desire Nature – Kama – animal soul. Element of desire.
5. The Vital Nature – Prana – life energy (force).
6. The Astral Body – Linga Sarira – Pattern Body upon which the physical body is built.
7. The Physical Body – Sthula Sarira – the outer shell, the physical, biological vehicle.
7) – Reincarnation:
Theosophy teaches that reincarnation is the method used for the evolution of the soul. The physical body and personality we have today is only one of many which we have occupied throughout our long evolutionary journey. The circumstances, situations, and conditions of each lifetime were formed by our own previous actions, whether we were aware of it or not. The cycle of birth, death, and rebirth only comes to an end when the individual has attained to true spiritual perfection, freedom from all desire, and has reached conscious reunion with the Divine. This is called Nirvana, Moksha, or being reabsorbed in Brahman.
8) – Karma:
Theosophy teaches that all of life is governed by the law of karma. Karma is based on the principle of cause and effect. What we sow we shall reap. Harmony and balance in the universe are achieved through karma. Karma is impersonal and just. The Law of Karma is the law of self-created destiny. Karma and reincarnation are inextricably linked…you can’t have one without the other.
9) – Death:
Theosophy teaches that death is only a transition, a change of state. Our true being can never die. When so-called death occurs, we leave behind on earth our physical body, our astral body, and the vital forces of prana. The true individual then undergoes a series of post-mortem stages.
The first state is that of the Kama Loka (Desire Realm), which the deceased enters in the form of a Kama Rupa (desire body). We are unconscious there, in a type of dazed and sleeping state, and undergo the process of separation of our lower and mortal nature from our higher and immortal nature. Upon the completion of this process, we say that the ‘second death’ has occurred. The principle of Kama and the lower, earthly, and sensual elements of Manas remain behind in the Kama Loka as a type of senseless and soulless shell and eventually fade out and disintegrate.
Meanwhile, the soul enters a ‘gestation state’, a period of profound unconsciousness and inaction, before eventually waking into the Heaven state. This state is called Devachan in Theosophy. This is not a place or location but a state. It is the Heaven of the individual’s dreams, created unwittingly out of their own consciousness, and perfectly representing the type of afterlife they had believed in, thought about, and anticipated, during life.
The Devachanic state lasts in exact accordance with the amount or force of positive Karma accrued by the individual during the last lifetime. Then reincarnation inevitably takes place. Very materialistic and sensually oriented souls often reincarnate quite quickly but for others the period of Devachan may last decades, centuries, or even thousands of years.
10) – Spiritualism:
Theosophy teaches that practices such as spiritualism, mediumship, and channeling are dangerous and detrimental to both the living and the dead. Departed souls cannot see us. Apart from a very small number of exceptions, it is impossible for a departed soul to communicate with those left behind on earth through a medium or even to see or have any knowledge whatsoever of what is going on here.
The main exceptions to this rule are people who have committed suicide, people who, have been murdered, and those who have died a violent death. They remain in the Kama Loka for the remainder of the duration of the lifetime they had been destined to live on earth. It is possible for mediums and channellers to contact these entities, but this is spiritually unlawful and can lead to dire results. The deceased must be left in peace and allowed to proceed unhindered on their eventual upward way. It is mainly the senseless and un-ensouled “shells” left behind in Kama Loka which are successfully contacted and connected with in mediumship and channelling. Because the shells retain a degree of memory they are able to automatically and blindly recite and repeat certain details and pieces of information. People are deluded into thinking they are communicating with the real person whereas in fact it is only their ‘psychic corpse’, the cast-off remnants of the old personality.
Spiritualism, mediumship, and all forms of psychic channeling were condemned and opposed by the wise spiritual and philosophical traditions throughout the ages, most especially in India and the East.
11) – Universal Brotherhood:
Theosophy teaches the vital importance of altruism, unselfishness, compassion, and living to help and serve others. The principle of Universal Brotherhood is not only a lofty ideal but a fact of nature.
All is One because the One is all.
We are all part of the whole and there is no separation in the Universe.
Personal desire, ambition, greed, and lust are all misguided forms of selfishness, and it is selfishness which is the great curse of humanity and the cause of human suffering.
The Bodhisattva ideal – self-sacrifice and renunciation of personal eternal bliss with the aim of remaining on earth as a selfless and effective servant and helper of the human race, seeking no personal reward – is viewed as the highest ideal in Theosophy.
12) – Divine Wisdom:
Theosophy teaches that all religions are the same in their esoteric essence and origin. There is one esoteric Teaching, a universal philosophy, a Secret Doctrine, which underlies all the world’s religions. It predates and transcends all historical religions. It is the TRUTH itself.
All religions contain some portion of the Truth, some to a greater degree than others. The purpose of the Theosophical Movement is to teach Truth as it is, free from all limitations and restrictions of religious dogma, creed, and theology. The unadulterated universal philosophy has been preserved and guarded throughout the ages by the Initiates, Adepts, and Masters of certain secret Brotherhoods in Tibet, India, and throughout the rest of the world.
The writings of H.P. Blavatsky present, demonstrate, and prove these Teachings, to the extent that was permitted by those Masters, who were her Teachers and Instructors.