The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
September 2007 -- Vol. 10 Issue 7
The very root idea of the Theosophical Society is free and fearless investigation. The Society's members represent the most varied nationalities and races, and were born and educated in the most dissimilar creeds and social conditions. Some of them believe in one thing, others in another. A certain number have scarcely yet acquired any definite belief, but are in a state of attentive expectancy. But be what he may, once that a student abandons the old and trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of independent thought -- Godward -- he is a theosophist; an original thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with "an inspiration of his own" to solve the universal problems.
With every person that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man's relations to it, and nature's manifestations of it, theosophy is allied. It is likewise the ally of honest science, and also the ally of every honest religion -- to wit, a religion willing to be judged by the same tests as it applies to the others. Our members, as individuals, are free to stay outside or inside any creed they please, provided they do not pretend that none but themselves shall enjoy the privilege of conscience, and try to force their opinions upon the others. The Society may fairly be termed a "Republic of Conscience." It is in this spirit that the Society has been established upon the footing of a Universal Brotherhood. -- H. P. Blavatsky
The objectives of the Theosophical Society are: to form an active brotherhood among mankind; to promulgate the essential unity of all that is, and demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to encourage study of ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to explore the hidden side of nature and ourselves.
The heavy truck drew up at the pedestrian crossing; a few people crossed the road. The truck did not move. The driver, it seemed, was waiting for someone else to cross. It was a lady pushing a wheel chair in which sat a girl of about ten years of age. As they began to cross, the truck driver leaned out of his cab and waved his hand towards the little girl. She had glanced listlessly at the great bulk of the truck, and the man leaning out above her. Then she became aware of his greeting; her eyes widened with surprise and pleasure; her pale, peaked face broadened into a delighted smile. The driver, no less delighted at the success of his gesture, now leaned his body halfway out of the cab, waving his arm, his face aglow with benevolence. Thus, for the space of a few seconds, these two were at one. The little girl, rescued for the moment from her little pit of discomfort and loneliness, moved, queenlike, across the way, giving the man her gratitude for his compassion -- and was gone. The truck, too, went on its way.
No doubt the incident might fade from the minds of both man and girl within a few minutes. To the observer, however, it came as a revelation of that hidden, unifying higher self which underlies, in us all, the outer person of separateness.
The Egyptians believed that Osiris, the sun god, had to become shattered into fragments when entering into the manifested world; and that each individual human being, in his innermost reality, represents one of these divine fragments -- his own inner sun. The little incident shone, for me, in just such a light. -- A. E. Urquhart
Civilization is the process in which one gradually increases the number of people included in the term "we" or "us" and at the same time decreases those labeled "you" or "them" until that category has no one left in it. -- Howard Winters
Our next subject is "Is Theosophy Relevant Today?" We will be discussing such questions as: What is theosophy? What are some of the ideas associated with the modern theosophical movement? What value is there in studying ancient and modern religions, philosophies, and sciences? What are the pros and cons of working out our own spiritual views and practices versus relying on religious or other authorities? Is there a sound basis for ethics in a multicultural, multi-religious world? How do universal brotherhood and the oneness of life relate to current problems and their solutions? Is altruism a practical principle for life today, or a moral luxury? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
These subjects are currently being considered for the Monthly Discussion group. As always, those who have a particular topic they would like to have featured are encouraged to contact us.
October 18: Music of the Spheres
November 15: The Uses of Adversity
December: Mankind Is Our Business
January: Where Is Our Path?
February: Overcoming Ourselves
Looking at the world, what would go furthest in resolving the many problems we see? We might think of mutual respect and understanding, kindness, cooperation, open-mindedness, and loving care for the earth and its inhabitants. A common denominator here is generosity of spirit and even-handed concern for others. In fact, most human problems could be remedied if we would recognize our essential oneness with all others and then act upon this insight.
Theosophy is a modern presentation of the perennial philosophy that stresses the underlying oneness of all that is. This unity is fundamental and multidemensional. It includes that of individuals with other individuals and with the whole; and also stresses the resulting interconnection of the physical and invisible aspects of life: psychological, intellectual, vital, spiritual, and divine. There is no fundamental separation anywhere. Many of the ideas in modern theosophical literature represent an exposition of these interrelations that provides an intellectual basis for brotherhood. As one writer said: It's generally not enough to tell people to be good because it's good to be good; most want an explanation of the basis and rationale behind moral and spiritual principles.
Theosophy particularly emphasizes the unity among all human beings irrespective of factors such as race, gender, nationality, creed, social status, learning, or appearance. The founders of the modern theosophical movement made this idea the cornerstone of their efforts. Addressing one principal root of human conflict, theosophy emphasizes that all religions come from the same source. An old myth tells how the divine jewel of truth shattered when it was thrown to earth with each faith representing just one shard. Looking in any piece we can find truth, but none of them contains truth in its entirety. One Rabbi likened religions to decks of cards, all having the same 52 cards (concerns, principles) but stacked in different orders. Examining other "decks" lets us see familiar cards in a new form. We also encounter unfamiliar cards which may be hidden deep in our own tradition but found near the top of the deck in another stream of thought.
When we explore several traditions, we receive fresh insights and come to appreciate different perspectives. The Bhagavad-Gita, for example, may impress us with the value of being unattached to the results of our actions. The Christian Gospels may bring home the importance of loving our fellow humans with all our heart, soul, and mind regardless of whether we see them as just or unjust, righteous or wicked, outcast or privileged. Buddhist teachings may lead us to methodically examine our own awareness, or to seek to end suffering for ourselves and all other beings by adopting compassionate attitudes and a mindful way of life. Investigating Jainism may give us new appreciation for all beings as fellow spiritual pilgrims, the importance of nonviolence, and the profound effect our acts and choices have on our future. Taosim may encourage us to let go of intellectual formulations to what is beyond the mind. Sikhism underscores that whatever name or representation they use, people all worship the same divine source, and as children of this one source they are all literally brothers and sisters.
Theosophy encourages people to investigate inner realities for themselves through both self-examination and study of the world's traditions and sciences. Theosophists point out the essential oneness of all knowledge, whether scientific, philosophical, religious, artistic, or mystical. These many types of human knowledge, reflecting different aspects of our consciousness, are not the reality they are describing. Rather, they are a series of intellectual models.
In our explorations we may find that one approach feels "right" for us personally, whether because of our upbringing or because of psychological and spiritual affinity. Again, we may find equal value in several or many approaches, or prefer to look mainly to the shard of truth that lies deep within us. But however arrived at, all human views, doctrines, beliefs, and knowledge are only partial expressions of reality.
A primary theosophical concern remains encouraging the practical application of beliefs and principles in daily life rather than considering them to be intellectual pastimes or abstractions. Now as always, a vital but often missing element is the desire and determination to transform ethical principles and good intentions into practice -- to concentrate on living day to day what we recognize as true, fair, and compassionate. With its focus on universal brotherhood and "free and fearless investigation," theosophy seeks to foster altruism, independent thought, and self-directed growth as dynamic forces in human life.