The Relation of Theosophy to the Theosophical Society

From the proceedings of the 1975 World Congress

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Geoffrey Farthing

Geoffrey Farthing
T.D., C. Eng,. M.I.E.E.
Geoffrey Farthing - biography

First puplished in The Theosophist, January 1976.
(N. Sri Ram - Editor)

Theosophical Society Centenary World Congress, New York 1975
Task Force Study Group; The Relation of Theosophy to the Theosophical Society, Task Force Study Group, Chairman: GEOFFREY FARTHING

The Objects of the Theosophical Society: A number of suggestions for changing the Objects were made but only one - that somehow the word Theosophy should be included in the Objects got a measure of support.

The Declared Purpose of the Society - Taken from The Key to Theosophy this is - apart from furthering the Objects - "It was formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists, and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its eternal verities." [1]  It was felt to be important that this purpose be kept in mind because the Theosophical Society was competing for public attention with other organizations with apparently similar platforms.  Some of these organizations branched off long ago from the Theosophical Society but recognize no longer H. P. Blavatsky as a prominent figure.

We should be making it known clearly that there is such a thing as Theosophy, and what pertains to it (e.g., Reincarnation, Karma, etc., within a comprehensive framework of her teaching).

We should be clear what literature contains Theosophy so that we can recommend it.  It is important to know for ourselves the content of the original literature.  Our theosophical theoretical knowledge should be accompanied by an ever deepening awareness of ourselves and of Nature's works.  We should become aware of the discrepancies between the teachings of the Masters from their letters and from H.P. Blavatsky's writings on the one hand and on the other the later writings some stemming from independent psychic researches.

The Society's Public Image: It is now hard to say what our public image is.  It varies widely throughout the world.  In India, thanks to Annie Besant's splendid social work it is very good in that field.  In other places it seems vague; ill-defined at best.  At worst it is still influenced by the early scurrilous ideas about H. P. Blavatsky written up in so much literature.

The idea of the T. S. as the Cornerstone of the Future Religions of Humanity ­ Theosophy is essentially religious but must not be associated with or become regarded a religion.  The T.S. must remain non-dogmatic.  But the fundamental idea of brotherhood is religiously based.  Religion can be regarded as both a binding of men together and a binding of them to Universal Spirit.  Forms of religion are matters of the mind; the “life" of religion is a through-flow of life in the inner man – in consciousness.

Each person must be responsible for his own development.  There are esoteric truths in all religions.  The Theosophical Society through Theosophy is concerned with the truths.  From the Mahachohan's 1881 letter, "Buddhism stripped of all accretions is the ancient wisdom"[2]. From H. P. Blavatsky's letter of September 23rd 1875, "If a man would follow in the footsteps of the Hermetic philosophers he must part with all ideas, etc., etc, . . . and learn from Mother Nature" [3].

No recommendation under this head was made, except to warn against sectarianism and dogmatism.

For the furtherance of this point, there was considerable support for an International Headquarters being centred on Wheaton, where there is already a nucleus organization.

Definitions of Theosophy - Theosophy is knowledge of God.  God was defined as universal principle at the heart of all things.  No teachings could be regarded as the final word.  Only a corner of the veil had been lifted.  Theosophy is a body of truths - these truths were not instanced.  Theosophy is the science of "life".  It deals with the principles underlying the processes of the Universe.  It has always existed.  It is the accumulated wisdom of the ages. It is knowledge of man and the Universe, and man's relationship to it.

Theosophy is significantly concerned with ethics.

The Distinction between Theosophy and The Theosophical Society - Theosophy is permanent.  It is not devised, created or built. The Society is an organization.  It is temporary.  It is built.

Theosophy is life; the Society is its vehicle, the form for the life.

The Society is a material body operating through its members, reflecting Theosophy and therefore it can distort it.  It should be as perfect a mirror as possible.  The Society is only one vehicle, among many for the Truth.

The reported saying of H. P. Blavatsky's that Jnana Yoga was for the western student,[4] and The Secret Doctrine was written for that purpose was quoted and noted.  The Theosophical Society should be the care­taker and guardian of Theosophy.  It has not really been this.

It is the responsibility of the Society, and its Lodges, to keep Theosophy before the public.  But the Lodges must disseminate Theosophy.  Their work should not be too broadly based so that Theosophy never appeared in the syllabus of their activities.

The Theosophical Society tends to display too much literature, covering too wide a range of "fringe" subjects.  These are well catered for in ordinary commercial bookshops.  A list of what we deal in is not theosophical in any special or particular sense.  Our freedoms are essential, but a Lodge or Society too loosely run can do the Cause more harm than good.

A Lodge should keep in its library, at least, the theosophical classics.  Lodges were needed as "Force" centres.  Members' meetings generated this force.  They should be places for members to meet - and work together.


^1 Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky, Section: 'The Relations of the Theosophical Society to Theosophy'
^2 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Chronological Edition, p 467, Appendix 11; "Buddhism stripped of its superstitions is eternal truth, and he who strives for the latter is striving for Theos-sophia, Divine Wisdom, which is a synonym of truth."
^3 paraphrase of; The Collected Writings Vol 1, H. P. Blavatsky, pp127-8
^4 'The Bowen Notes' see 'Foundations of Esoteric Philosophy'.

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