Who are we?
Our web site contains information about Theosophy, the ageless Wisdom, as presented by the Mahatmas (also called adepts or Masters) and contained in the writings of Theosophical Society co-founder Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831 - 1891).The site contains a comprehensive collection of the writings of Geoffrey Farthing (1909-2004), a co-founder of the Blavatsky Trust, and one of the foremost exponents of Blavatsky-Theosophy in recent times.
Theosophy is a recent recapitulation of the ancient wisdom tradition that has been disseminated by the founders of the modern Theosophical Movement. The teachings are explanatory of Universal Laws; Laws that establish the principle of Unity inherent in Nature and which are the basis of Universal Brotherhood. (Theosophy, as a term, can also used to refer to the universal Ancient Wisdom underlying all religions.)
H.P. Blavatsky was a remarkable woman; one of the most gifted and fascinating of modern times. Destined for a solitary path, she left husband and homeland to travel the world in search of occult knowledge, a quest which ultimately took her to the great Mahatmas and the Ancient wisdom of the East. Her odyssey was to bring her enlightenment and enemies, fame and notoriety; devotion and denouncement ... but it also resulted in some of the greatest occult classics ever written, and the founding, in 1875, of the modern Theosophical Society.
Geoffrey Farthing was concerned that the original point and purpose of the Theosophical Society had been lost in the years that followed the death of H.P. Blavatsky, and that a significant part of the substance and detail of the teachings, as given out by Blavatsky and others, has become distorted. Geoffrey Farthing's writings primarily aim to accurately present Blavatsky's work in a form suited to the modern reader, and in addition, a significant number of articles and letters take a critical, and sometimes controversial, look at the Society itself. In 1969 Geoffrey wrote 'What is the Theosophical Society?' (go to text) and followed this by an analysis of Theosophy itself (go to text).
For more information on the Theosophical Mahatmas see the article Mahatmas versus Ascended Masters (go to article on Theosophical Society in America website).
H. P. BLAVATSKY – A SPIRITUAL FLOODLIGHT
extract of article, Dr Edi Bilimoria. full article
It seems to be virtually axiomatic that the amount of calumny and abuse heaped by unregenerate portions of humankind upon a person stand in direct proportion to his nobility and desire to elevate the common human lot. Ironically, a noble and spiritual life in no way automatically implies that personal circumstances will be free from powerful strains. Such was the case with those redeemers of mankind whose unswerving mission, born out of their selfless love of humanity, was to lead men out of the mire of his limited existence towards eternal peace and brotherhood; the likes of Zarathushtra, Jesus, Giordano Bruno and Mohammed. Alas! This most certainly applied to Blavatsky as well.
But who was this Russian noblewoman Helena Petrovna Blavatsky fondly referred to as just ‘HPB’ by theosophists all over the world? Of all that has been said and written about her by both her admirers and enemies, what do we really know about her? But if eagle-eyed insight be not ours, yet there are signs to read and facts to note. Sages, prophets and messengers of Light, the world over, from every religion and culture all came to heal and to bless. Not a single one of them ever wasted his life energy preaching a material utopia or invented new socio-economic schemes to improve the worlds politics and physical poverty. Each one of them realized that it was unregenerate man - spiritually impoverished man - who was the ubiquitous spawner of the ugliness around him and so it was through man himself , his character, that the way must be found towards the way of peace and truth. Such was also the case with Blavatsky who devoted every ounce of her energy to promoting the brotherhood of man by way of a making generally available those portions of the perennial wisdom that could legitimately and safely be revealed to the public at large. For this magnanimous self-sacrifice she had to drink her cup of slander and ingratitude to the dregs.
Witness her achievements! Besides being an illimitable occultist, philosopher and scientist (in the true sense of the term), she was also an explorer, prolific writer, linguist, poet and concert pianist.
How did she accomplish all this and why is it that when presenting The Secret Doctrine to the Western world she quoted from John, vii, 16 ‘My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me’? Who sent her?
The message is more important than the messenger. Hence this paper is in two parts. Firstly we explain the reasons for her appearance on the world stage in the nineteenth century and then summarize her message, its formalization as the Theosophical Society, and her output; Concerning the latter, one remains aghast at the liberty with which some of HPB’s detractors continue, even to this day, to slander and vilify a dead woman by repeating statements which have been amply refuted over and over again. For this reason we must be at pains to demonstrate that the charge of fraud and impostor which has ever dogged HPB since the publication of the Hodgson Report in 1885 by the British Society for Psychical Research, has been effectively demolished by their own 1986 report written by a renowned expert in forgery and handwriting analysis. In the second part we describe her life, artistic achievements and financial status.
PART I – THE TASK AND MESSAGE OF H. P. BLAVATSKY
WHY THE NEED FOR MORE LIGHT?
Sûtrâtmâ – The Thread Doctrine
The Esoteric Doctrine is sometimes referred to as the thread doctrine (Sanskrit: Sûtrâtmâ) since it passes through and strings together all the philosophical, religious and scientific systems, and reconciles and explains them. We find that this sacred thread of esotericism runs through the events of the history of the world right from its origins in the mists of time to historical times. We discern this is the myths and legends of many cultures; then in the legendary semi-divine figures of Krishna in India, Hermes in Egypt, Mithra in Persia; followed by the great sages such as Gautama the Buddha, Lao-tse and Jesus the Christ. In the west this thread doctrine is to be found in the Greek philosophers like Pythagoras and Plato, and among the Gnostics, Simon Magus and others. Despite ruthless suppression by the Christian Church, it nevertheless emerges among the doctrine of the Rosicrucians, Alchemists and Hermeticists, being made partly explicit in the writings of such as Robert Fludd, Jacob Boehme and Isaac Newton.
Western Thought in the Nineteenth Century and the Raison d’Etre for Theosophy
The ambiance of thought in the nineteenth century, particularly during the latter half, made it necessary for the Guardians of this esoteric tradition to open a window to let its existence be openly known. For the first time in recorded history, some parts of this hitherto undisclosed teaching were expounded publicly in the early literature of the theosophical movement. But why during this era in world history? Because this was an age when religion was in sharp conflict with materialistic science. The onslaught of science and technology increasingly gave man mastery over his physical environment but its materialist and rational basis seemed to endanger man’s sense of meaning and purpose within creation. At the opposite end of the spectrum, spiritualism was popular with its erroneous theories of the ‘spirits’ of departed mortals returning to earth to communicate with those they have loved. Probably most insidious was Darwinism which all but succeeded in expunging man’s place within a divine order by basing his evolution and existence entirely on mechanical biology involving the notion of genetic mutation and natural selection. Into this sharply polarised state of affairs, Theosophy provided dignity and purpose to man’s life within a cosmic context. It placed human destiny in an emanationist cosmology and showed that existence is one organic Whole, Man as microcosm being the reflection of the macrocosm. Significantly, it expounded the twin doctrine of karma and reincarnation, two central pillars of the esoteric philosophy.
BLAVATSKY’S MESSAGE AND TEACHING
HPB’s task was, then, to act as a messenger to bring the knowledge that there was a Divine Wisdom – Theo-sophia as the root and basis upon which all philosophies, sciences and religions are founded and which guides the cosmos, nature and human life. This Divine Wisdom is variously known as the Ancient Wisdom, or Wisdom-Religion, or Esoteric Philosophy, or Perennial Philosophy, or Occult Science. All these terms allude to the fact that Theo-sophia is not a system of belief formulated by an individual, nor a religion in the ordinary meaning of the word denoting formalized worship and ritual; instead it is the accumulated wisdom of innumerable ages that has been systematically checked by generations of sages the world over (see below). Every religion is based on the same truth or ‘secret doctrine’ which contains the ‘alpha and omega of universal science’. [H. P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, p. 511] Therefore this wisdom is eternal in content though obviously parochial in its manner of expression conditioned by the language and idiom of the epoch prevailing.
To avoid misunderstanding it is necessary to explain the meaning of the word ‘occult’. It has nothing to do with the popular notions of witchcraft, etc. Anything that is occult is, etymologically speaking, hidden or concealed from the physical eyes and senses. What then is Occult Science? It is a generic term referring to the Hermetic or Esoteric Sciences, which explore the essential, or hidden secrets of Nature – physical and psychic, mental and spiritual – rather than, but not excluding, Her outward appearance and mechanical behavior which Western science studies to virtual perfection. For example, that Swedenborg came to the Occult teachings in his general conceptions is shown by his essay on the Vortical Theory. [H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I (6 vol. edition, Adyar 1950), p.177 ]
As to the message that HPB brought: it is based on fundamental axioms formulated into three propositions that cannot be thought of independently from the whole, meaning that no aspect, no principle and no law can be properly considered in isolation: the Universe and all that is in it constitute a WHOLE. Furthermore, it cannot be too strongly emphasized that these propositions are not the invention of HPB or anyone else. They form the basis of the presentation of the doctrines of the Divine Wisdom. Countless generations of sages have checked these doctrines by study as well as practical experience in a manner akin to the inductive method of science whereby a hypothesis put forward is checked by repeatable experiments and only when there is a sufficient corroboration between hypothesis and experimental verification is the former elevated to a theory. In similar vein these sages have found the teachings enunciated to be in consonance with the overriding philosophy formulated by them. But it was HPB who synthesized the diverse and scattered fragments of this doctrine into a coherent system and body of knowledge made available for the first time to, and in a suitable idiom for, the Western world at large. But it is as well to point out here HPB’s counsel ‘that no human-born doctrine, no creed, however sanctified by custom and antiquity, can compare in sacredness with the religion of Nature. The Key of Wisdom that unlocks the massive gates leading to the arcana of the innermost sanctuaries can be found hidden in her bosom only: and that bosom is in the countries pointed to by the great seer of the past century Emanuel Swedenborg. There lies the heart of nature, that shrine whence issued the early races of primeval Humanity, and which is the cradle of physical man’. [ H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. IV (6 vol. edition, Adyar 1950), p.365 ]
FIRST PROPOSITION: THERE IS ONLY ONE ULTIMATE REALITY
‘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. There is one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned, being. This Infinite and Eternal Cause – is the rootless root of “all that was, is, or ever shall be.’ [H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I (6 vol. edition, Adyar 1950), p.79 ]
This ‘Be-ness’ is symbolised under two aspects. On the one hand, absolute abstract Space, representing bare subjectivity, the one thing which no human mind can either exclude from any conception, or conceive of by itself. On the other, absolute Abstract Motion representing Unconditioned Consciousness.
This proposition is, then, an affirmation of the Unity, or ONENESS of origin of all that exists. It avows that there is a single spiritual source from which all proceeds, which sustains everything every moment of time, and into which all will be re-absorbed, bearing the fruits of experience, at the end of each great period of activity or evolutionary cycle. Hence the ‘essential unity of all manifested things is due to the originating Reality, the One Principle.’ [Geoffrey A. Farthing, Deity, Cosmos and Man, Point Loma Publications, 1993, p. 120. ]
But in order that the manifest worlds – the worlds of form – may come to be, this One Reality manifests two essential aspects reflected into the duality or polarity that we see running through all of nature, seen and unseen. ‘The Manifested Universe, therefore, is pervaded by duality.’ [H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I (6 vol. edition, Adyar 1950), p.81 ] This is the duality of Spirit and Matter, of Subject and Object, of Positive and Negative, of Life and Form, of Male and Female; plus the dualities which science confirms in its investigation of physical nature where energy (radiation) and matter, or wave and particle are regarded as the two aspects of light. The poles of this duality are to be regarded as the two aspects only of the original ONE from which they derive. They are postulated as the basis of conditioned being, but there can never be one without the other, like, so to say, two faces of one coin.
SECOND PROPOSITION: PERIODICITY AND UNIVERSAL LAW
‘The Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane; periodically the playground 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. The appearance and disappearance of Worlds is like a regular tidal ebb of flux and reflux.’ [H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I (6 vol. edition, Adyar 1950), p.82 ]
This asserts the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe.
Meanwhile note that the periodic appearance and disappearance of Universes is strictly according to cyclic and karmic law. The appearance or wakingstate is known as manvantara, or the Day of Brahma, being a projection outwards from subjective realms into objectivity – as manifestation, evolution, unfolding, centrifugal action, the movement from within to without; and the disappearance or slumbering state is known as pralaya, or the Night of Brahma, being a withdrawal and dissolution of the manifested state back into subjective realms – as involution, enfolding, centripetal action, the movement from without to within. It is stressed that such periodicity is not limited to all departments of physical nature as studied and recorded by Western science, but applies equally on the grandest macrocosmic scale to globes and Universes, for periodicity is one of the universal and fundamental laws of Occult Science.
The microcosm is a reflection of the macrocosm. So in Man this may be likened to the daytime waking and night-time sleeping states of man. During the day we perform various tasks bearing a relationship with one another in mutual correlation with ourselves; during sleep all our extraverted daytime activities are subsumed into the integrated state of sleep.
THIRD PROPOSITION: EVOLUTIONARY PROGRESS
‘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.’ [H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I (6 vol. edition, Adyar 1950), p.82 ]
This proposition states that every soul has of necessity to pass through a complete cycle of incarnation, during which it gains experience as mineral, plant, animal and eventually, man. But this does not mean that man has been a stone, or a plant or an animal, but that it is the evolutionary path of development for the inner, invisible aspect of life and it is by this age long process that individual self-consciousness eventually arises in man.
Obviously then, man enjoys no unaccountable good fortune, or special gifts or privileges save those won by his own spiritual soul through his own effort and merit throughout a long series of metemphychosis and reincarnations. This would explain the phenomenon of genius whether in the arts, sciences, sports or in any other field. Every genius has made himself, so to speak. His body and brain are not merely the accidental upshot of just the right combinations of genetic material, but the deserved instrument of operation for his spiritual soul.
In summary then, the third proposition is to do with undertaking the 'obligatory pilgrimage', to realize and re-claim in full consciousness the Divinity we unconsciously knew we always had holographically reflected into us when we commenced our journey. On the outward journey we started out unconsciously Divine; on the return cycle we become knowingly Divine. [A simplistic example of this process is when we have an intuitive flash or ‘hunch’ about someone or something, but then not trusting our original feeling, we feel impelled to question it intellectually thinking of all sorts of questions and counter-arguments, only to realize, this time knowingly, that all the trial and error attempts have shown that the original idea was the best one after all. ]
FORMATION OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
At a time when spiritualism was the subject of widespread discussion and responsible journalism in America, a group of serious-minded men and women came together in HPB’s apartment in New York to share a common interest not only in the topic of the day but in a wide variety of intriguing subjects. These, according to the records of the meetings, ranged from mediumship and magical phenomena to contemporary scientific discoveries, curiosities of nature and the beliefs and practices of ancient civilizations.
At one of these meetings, the question was asked: "Would it not be a good thing to form a Society for this kind of study?" The date was 7th September 1875.
In the course of the next few weeks, the formal organization of the society proceeded with the election of officers, recording of minutes, passing of resolutions, and so on, until on the 17th November the President-elect delivered his Inaugural Address and the Theosophical Society (TS) was thus fully constituted. This date has ever since been celebrated as the date of the Society's formation.
Of the persons present at the preliminary meetings, those who remained to contribute to its firm establishment included Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (President) (succeeded at his death in 1907 by Dr. Annie Besant), Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Recording Secretary) and William Quan Judge (Counsel).
Over the last hundred years, the modern theosophical movement has divided into several separate organizations, each of which seeks to fulfil the Society's objectives in its own way and with its own emphasis.
The objectives of the TS are the formation of a brotherhood of Humanity, then an understanding of natural law, especially in its occult manifestation, the development of latent powers within the individual, and an appreciation for Oriental scriptures. These were then formalized into the three present objects of the Society:
Hence the TS and HPB’s works acted as a mirror and a lens to disseminate the esoteric heritage of mankind to new and wider audiences. But the primary goal and thrust of the TS is emphatically its First Object, never a display or teaching of occult phenomena for the sake of it. In the forceful words of a Master ‘The Chiefs want a “Brotherhood of Humanity,” a real Universal Fraternity started.’ [The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Third and revised edition, 1972. p. 24.] But for this to occur there has to be ‘a profound change in human consciousness, which alone can ameliorate world conditions. The Theosophical Society exists in order to awaken human beings in their own higher and real nature, and thus usher in a new age of Universal Brotherhood.’ [Presidential address by Radha Burnier, the current International President of the Theosophical Society to the 130th Annual Convention of the TS in 2005.]
Freedom of thought is at the very heart of the theosophical movement. No teacher, or writer, including HPB, has any authority to impose his or her teachings or opinions on members. Every member has an equal right to follow any school of thought, but has no right to force the choice on any other. link to full article