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Theosophy

Theosophy

Term derived from the Greek theos (rod) and sophia (wisdom), denoting a philosophical-religious system that claims absolute knowledge of the existence and nature of the deity, and is not to be confused with the later system evolved by the founders of the Theosophical Society.

This knowledge, or theosophy, it is claimed, may be obtained by special individual revelation, or through the operation of some higher faculty. It is the transcendent character of the godhead of theosophical systems that differentiates them from the philosophical systems of the speculative or absolute type, which usually proceed deductively from the idea of God. God is conceived in theosophical systems as the transcendent source of being, from whom human beings in their natural state are far removed.

Theosophy is practically another name for speculative mysticism. Thus Kabalistic and Neoplatonic conceptions of divine emanations are in reality theosophical, as are the mystical systems of Jakob Boehme and Baader.

Theosophy has also come to signify the tenets and teachings of the founders of the Theosophical Society. This society was founded in the United States in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Col. H. S. Olcott, and others. Its objectives were to establish a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, to promote the study of comparative religion and philosophy, and to investigate the mystic powers of life and matter.

The conception of the Universal Brotherhood was based upon the oriental idea of one lifethat ultimate oneness underlies all diversity, whether inward or outward. The study of comparative religion had materialized into a definite system of belief, the bounds of which were dogmatically fixed. It was set forth in the theosophical system that all the great religions of the world originated from one supreme source and that they are merely expressions of a central "Wisdom Religion" vouch-safed to various races of the earth in such a manner as is best suited to time and geographical circumstances.

Underlying these was a secret doctrine or esoteric teaching, which, it was stated, had been the possession for ages of certain Mahatmas, or adepts, in mysticism and occultism. With these Blavatsky claimed to be in direct communication, and she herself manifested occult phenomena, producing the ringing of astral bells, and so forth.

On several occasions these effects were unmasked as fraudulent, but many people believed that Blavatsky was one of those rare personalities who possess great natural psychic powers, which at times failing her, she augmented by fraudulent methods.

The evidence for the existence of the Great White Brotherhood of Mahatmas, the existence of which she asserted, was unfortunately somewhat inconclusive. It rested, for the most part, on the statements of Blavatsky, Olcott, A. P. Sinnett, Charles W. Leadbeater, and other committed Theosophists, who claimed to have seen or communicated with them.

With every desire to do justice to these upholders of the theosophical argument, it is necessary to point out that in occult, or pseudo-occult experiences, the question of hallucination enters very largely, and the ecstatic condition may be responsible for subjective appearances that seem real enough to the visionary.

Again, the written communications of the Mahatmasthe Mahatma letters give rise to much doubt. One Mahatma employed the American system of spelling, and this was accounted for by the circumstance that his English had been sophisticated by reading American books. A study of these letters leaves little doubt that their style, script, and purpose were nearer to Blavatsky than to Tibetan or Himalayan hermitages.

The revelations of Blavatsky in her books Isis Unveiled (2 vols., 1877) and The Secret Doctrine (2 vols., 1888-97) are an extraordinary mixture of Buddhistic, Brahministic, and Kabalistic matter with a basic theme of religious unity and the persistence of occult and miraculous phenomena throughout history.

The Theosophical Society has numbered among its members many persons of high ability, whose statement and exegesis of their faith has placed it upon a much higher level and more definite foundation.

The system was constructed in a manner akin to genius, and evolved on highly intricate lines. It was, to a great extent, pieced together after the death of the original founder of the society, on which event a schism occurred in the Brotherhood through the claims to leadership of William Q. Judge, of New York, who died in 1896, and who was followed by Katherine Tingley, the founder of the great Theosophical community at Point Loma, California.

Olcott became the leader of the remaining part of the original Theosophical Society in America and India, being assisted in his work by Annie Besant, but a more or less independent organization was founded in England.

A brief outline of the tenets of Theosophy may be stated as follows. It posits a rational belief in its views rather than blind faith, and allows for individual differences of opinion. It professes to be a religious philosophy that holds the germs of all others. It has also its aspect as a sciencea science of life and of the soul.

The basic teaching is that there are three absolute truths that cannot be lost, but yet may remain silent for lack of speech. (1) The soul of humanity is immortal and its future is the future of the thing, whose growth and splendor has no limit. (2) The principle that gives life dwells in us and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard, or seen, or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception. (3) Each individual is his or her own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to oneself, decreer of one's life, one's reward, one's punishment.

Although Theosophy posits the existence of an absolute, it does not pretend to knowledge of its attributes. In the absolute are innumerable universes and in each universe countless solar systems. Each solar system is the expression of a being called the Logos, the Word of God, or the Solar Deity, who permeates it and exists above it and outside it.

Below this Solar Deity are his seven ministers, called Planetary Spirits, whose relation to him is like that of the nerve centers to the brain, so that all his voluntary acts come through him to them. Under them are vast hosts or orders of spiritual beings called devas, or angels, who assist in many ways. This world is ruled by a great official who represents the Solar Deity, who is in absolute control of all the evolution that takes place upon this planet. When a new religion is to be founded, this being either comes or sends pupils to institute it.

In the earlier stages of the development of humanity the great officials of the hierarchy are provided from more highly evolved parts of the system, but whenever human beings can be trained to the necessary level of power and wisdom these offices are held by them. They can only be filled by adepts, who in goodness, power, and wisdom are immeasurably greater than ordinary individuals, and have attained the summit of human evolution. These advance until they themselves become of the nature of deities.

There are many degrees and many lines of activity among these, but some of them always remain within touch of the Earth and assist in the spiritual evolution of humanity. This body is called the "Great White Brotherhood." Its members do not dwell together, but live separately apart from the world and are in constant telepathic communication with one another.

Their knowledge of higher forces is so great that they have no necessity for meeting in the physical world, but each dwells in his own country, and their power remains unsuspected among those who live near them. These adepts are willing to take as apprentices those who have resolved to devote themselves utterly to the service of humankind. Blavatsky was presumed to be such an apprentice. One of these masters said: "In order to succeed the pupil must leave his own world and come into ours."

The Theosophical conception of the constitution of the human being is that he or she is in essence a spark of the divine fire belonging to the monadic world. For the purposes of human evolution, this monad manifests itself in lower worlds. Entering the spiritual world it manifests itself there as the triple spirit; one of its three aspects always remains in the spiritual sphere.

The second aspect manifests itself in the intuitional world, and the third in the higher mental world, and these two are collated with intuition and intelligence. These three aspects combined make up the ego, which is individual personality during the human stage of evolution. The way or path towards enlightenment and emancipation is known as karma.

The human personality is composed of a complex organization consisting of seven principles, which are united and interdependent, yet divided into certain groups, each capable of maintaining a kind of personality. Each of these principles is composed of its own form of matter and possesses its own laws of time, space, and motion.

The most gross of those, the physical body, is known as rupa, which becomes more and more refined until we reach the universal self, atma, but the circumstance that determines the individual's powers, tests, and advantages, or in short his or her character, is the karma, which is the sum of bodily, mental, and spiritual growth and is spread over many lives past and future. If in one existence the individual is handicapped by any defect, mental or physical, it may be regarded as the outcome of past delinquencies. This doctrine is common to both Buddhism and Brahminism, from which Theosophy derives.

Returning to concepts of the constitution of the human being, the ego existing in the higher mental world cannot enter the physical world until it has drawn around itself a veil composed of the matter of these spheres, nor can it think in any but an abstract manner without themits concrete ideas being due to them. Having assumed the astral and physical bodies, it is born as a human being, and having lived out its Earth-life sojourns for a time in the astral world, until it can succeed in throwing off the shackles of the astral body.

When that is achieved the individual finds himself or herself living in the mental body. The stay in this sphere is usually a long onethe strength of the mental constitution depending upon the nature of the thoughts to which one has habituated oneself. But he or she is not yet sufficiently developed to proceed to higher planes, and once more descends into the denser physical sphere to again go through the same round. It is only through that descent that a full recognition of the higher worlds is developed in the individual.

In the higher mental world, the permanent vehicle is a causal body, which consists of matter of the first, second, and third sub-divisions of that world. As the ego unfolds one's latent possibilities in the course of one's evolution, this matter is greatly brought into action, but it is only in the perfect individual or adept that it is developed to its fullest extent. In the causal body, none of the possibilities of the grosser bodies can manifest themselves.

The mental body is built up of matter of the four lower subdivisions of the mental world, and expresses the individual's concrete thoughts. Its size and shape are determined by those of the causal vehicle.

While on Earth the personality wears the physical, mental, and astral bodies all at once. It is the astral that connects one with the astral plane during sleep or trance. It is easy to see how the doctrine of reincarnation arose from this idea. The ego must travel from existence to existence, physical, astral, mental, until it can transcend the mental world and enter the higher spheres

The Theosophical path to the goal of Nirvana is derived from Buddhistic teaching, but there are also other elements in itKabalistic and Greek. The path is the great work whereby the inner nature of the individual is consciously transformed and developed. A radical alternation must be made in the aims and motives of the ordinary mortal. The path is long and difficult, and as has been said extends over many existences. Morality alone is insufficient to the full awakening of the spiritual faculty, without which progress in the path is impossible. Something incomparably higher is necessary.

The physical and spiritual exercises recommended by Theosophy are those formulated in the Hindu philosophical system known as raja yoga. The most strenuous efforts alone can impel the individual along the path, and thus to mount by the practice of vidya, that higher wisdom that awakens the latent faculties and concentrates effort in the direction of union with the absolute.

The way is described as long and difficult, but as the disciple advances he or she becomes more convinced of ultimate success, by the possession of transcendental faculties that greatly assist in overcoming difficulties. But these must not be sought for their own sake, as to gain knowledge of them for evil purposes is tantamount to the practice of black magic.

(See also Kabala )

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Theosophy

THEOSOPHY

THEOSOPHY is defined by its expounders as a religion-philosophy-science brought to America by "messengers of the guardians and preservers of the ancient Wisdom-Religion of the East." Its founder was an eccentric Russian noblewoman, Helena P. Blavatsky. In July 1848, at age sixteen, she was married to a forty-one-year-old government official. She ran away after three months to Constantinople and joined a circus. After extensive travels in the Far East where she claimed to have received instruction from "Sages of the Orient," she came to New York City on 7 July 1873 and, two years later, with William Q. Judge, Henry Steel Olcott, and fifteen others, formed the Theosophical Society. The purpose of the organization was to further a universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, color, sex, caste, or creed; to further the study of the ancient scriptures and teachings such as Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian; and to investigate the "unexplained laws of Nature" and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man.

At first, the theosophists displayed an interest in spiritualism but later repudiated it, stating that spiritistic phenomena "were but a meagre part of a larger whole." Later, Madame Blavatsky formed what she termed an "esoteric section," which was a select group of promising students gathered to study the more profound teachings of theosophy. Madame Blavatsky left the United States in 1878 and formed theosophical societies in England and India, which recognized her leadership until her death in 1891.

The teachings of theosophy stress universal brotherhood to be a fact in nature on which its philosophy and religion are based. Theosophy proclaims a "Deific Absolute Essence, infinite and unconditioned … from which all starts, and into which everything returns." Man has an immortal soul, but the soul is a tenant of many different bodies in many different lives. Every soul must become perfect before the next stage of existence can be entered upon, and those who go forward most rapidly must wait for all. For this, many reincarnations are necessary. Theosophy accepts the miracles of Jesus but denies their supernatural character, holding that they were accomplished through natural laws.

As of 2001, there were 130 theosophical study centers and theosophical societies—known as lodges—in the United States.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Campbell, Bruce F. Ancient Wisdom Revised: A History of the Theosophical Movement. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

Greenwalt, Emmet A. The Point Loma Community in California, 1897–1942: A Theosophical Experiment. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955.

Washington, Peter. Madame Blavatsky's Baboon: Theosophy and the Emergence of the Western Guru. London: Secker and War-burg, 1993.

William W.Sweet/f. b.

See alsoAsian Religions and Sects ; Cults ; New Age Movement ; Utopian Communities .

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theosophy

theosophy (thēŏs´əfē) [Gr.,=divine wisdom], philosophical system having affinities with mysticism and claiming insight into the nature of God and the world through direct knowledge, philosophical speculation, or some physical process. This system of thought differs from many other philosophical positions in that it begins with an assumption of the absolute reality of the essence of God, from which it deduces the essentially spiritual nature of the universe. Other assumptions frequently found in theosophical doctrine are that God is the transcendent source of all being and all good; that evil exists in the world because of human desire for finite goods and may be overcome by complete absorption in the infinite; and that sacred writings and doctrines are interpreted through allegory. This is the position of much speculative mysticism. However, mysticism generally confines itself to the soul's relation to God, while the theosophist uses these theories to formulate a complete philosophy of humanity and nature.

History

The Neoplatonists, the Gnostics, and the kabbalists are generally considered types of theosophists. Jakob Boehme, regarded as the father of modern theosophy, developed a complete theosophical system attempting to reconcile the existence of an all-powerful and all-good God with the presence of evil in the world. The philosophy and theology of Asia, especially of India, contain a vast body of theosophical doctrine. Modern theosophy draws much of its vocabulary from Indian sources. The Theosophical Society, with which theosophy is now generally identified, was founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky; associated with her were H. S. Olcott and W. Q. Judge. Blavatsky wrote The Secret Doctrine (1888, repr. 1964) and Key to Theosophy (1931, rev. ed. 1969). An active exponent of theosophy in Europe, America, and the East was Annie Besant, who added many works to the literature on the subject.

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theosophy

the·os·o·phy / [unvoicedth]ēˈäsəfē/ • n. any of a number of philosophies maintaining that a knowledge of God may be achieved through spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual relations, esp. the movement founded in 1875 as the Theosophical Society by Helena Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907). DERIVATIVES: the·os·o·pher / -fər/ n. the·o·soph·ic / ˌ[unvoicedth]ēəˈsäfik/ adj. the·o·soph·i·cal / ˌ[unvoicedth]ēəˈsäfikəl/ adj. the·o·soph·i·cal·ly / ˌ[unvoicedth]ēəˈsäfik(ə)lē/ adv. the·os·o·phist / -fist/ n.

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theosophy

theosophy Religious philosophy that originated in the ancient world but was given new impetus when the mystic Helen Blavatsky (b. Russia) founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875. Modern theosophy continues a mystical tradition in Western thought represented by such thinkers as Pythagoras and Plotinus, but is most significant in Indian thought. The main aims of the Theosophical Society are to promote a spiritual brotherhood of all humanity; to encourage the comparative study of religions, philosophy, and science; and to develop latent spiritual powers. Belief in the transmigration of souls also occupies an important place in theosophical doctrine.See also Besant

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theosophy

theosophy any of a number of philosophies maintaining that a knowledge of God may be achieved through spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual relations, especially the movement founded in 1875 as the Theosophical Society by Helena Blavatsky (1831–91) and Henry Steel Olcott (1832–1907), following Hindu and Buddhist teachings and seeking universal brotherhood.

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theosophy

theosophy system of philosophical speculation basing the knowledge of nature on that of the divine nature. XVII. — medL. theosophia — late Gr. theosophíā, f. theós god + sophós wise; see -Y3.
Hence theosophist, earlier theosopher, theosophic(al) XVII.

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theosophy

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Theosophy

THEOSOPHY

A modern gnostic movement begun in New York City (1875) by Helena Petrovna (Hahn) Blavatsky, Henry Steele Olcott, and William Q. Judge. At its inception, the stated purpose of the Theosophical Society was the study of Aryan and Eastern literature and the laws of nature, and the formation of a universal brotherhood. According to modern theosophists, theosophy is not a religion, but a philosophy of life uniting religion, philosophy, and science.

Doctrine. Theosophists deny fundamental Christian concepts regarding the nature of God and the soul; they teach the immanence of God in the world, understanding by this that there is no creation in the Christian sense and that God is not wholly external to creatures but a part of them. The evolution of the soul is a fundamental doctrine; for salvation comes by evolution, and the need for a vicarious atonement is denied. Evolution, in the theosophical sense, is a process of self-realization or manifestation carried on by the Cosmic Life by means of repeated incarnations. Its purpose is the perfecting of man and all creatures. All matter contains consciousness, which is evolving, not in a mechanical way but as a result of a divine plan guided by intelligence. It is conceived of as a twofold movement, involving descent into matter and ascent into spirit. The adept can speed up or direct his own course by recognizing nature's hidden laws through theosophy.

Mme. Blavatsky taught the septenary constitution of man, a reflection of the division of the universe into seven stages, or hierarchies. The first three are a "conscious crystallization of Spirit into Matter." In the fourth, Spirit turns upward again and begins to rid itself of the grossness of matter. The last three complete this process and Spirit emerges into Nirvana. The individual is composed of spirit, spiritual soul, human soul or mind, animal soul, vitality, astral body, and physical body; the first three are immortal, the others, mortal. Of these seven elements, clear distinctions are rarely possible, for they are "interblended around the monadic individuality to constitute the complete man," and are rarely perfectly balanced. Such exceptional cases were the Mahatmas or Masters of the theosophists. The astral body is defined, however, as the shadowy duplicate or idea of the physical body formed before birth, but equally mortal. Death involves a rebirth, liberating the human spirit from the physical body to enjoy the astral life, which will be, in turn, followed by forgetfulness and rebirth. The astral world is not the true heaven, but an emotional world, the true home of grosser men and animals. Heaven or the mental world is achieved only after repeated reincarnations; it is the true home of intelligence and the soul. Thus the four key doctrines of theosophy that are generally accepted are the divine origin of the soul in a pantheistic sense, evolution, reincarnation, and karma, which readjusts effects to causes for the achievement of absolute justice. The division of the movement into numerous sects has resulted from disagreement over succession to the prophetic mantle, rather than to major doctrinal differences.

Divisions. Helena Petrovna Hahn, born to a distinguished family in the Ukraine in 1831, was married to Gen. N. P. Blavatsky, but soon deserted him and left Russia. According to the Memoirs of her cousin, Count Witte, she spent some time in Cairo before arriving in New York in 1873. But her own contradictory statements make it impossible to construct a satisfactory account of her life in these years. In either version there is no possibility for the extended visit to Tibet, to which she later credited her revelations. Through a common interest in spiritualism, she became associated with Col. H. S. Olcott in the formation of occult groups, culminating in the 16-member Theosophical Society. In 1877 she published Isis Unveiled, a collection of material from Eastern thought, serpent worship, witchcraft, alchemy, and 19th-century science, which she ascribed to her Tibetan masters, but which was often taken verbatim from 50 standard works on occult subjects in Olcott's library.

In 1878 the theosophist leaders left Judge in charge of the sect in America and set out for India, purchasing land at Adyar, near Madras, for a center (1879) and winning important converts, among them A. P. Sinnett and A. O. Hume. In 1880 Olcott began missionary efforts in Ceylon, while Mme. Blavatsky began to edit the Theosophist, a periodical published under her direction at Madras (187988). Olcott succeeded her as editor (18881907). At the Adyar Temple, Mme. Blavatsky claimed that she had received direct written communications from two long-dead Tibetan Mahatmas. In 1885 investigation by the London Society for Psychical Research stamped the entire process as a deliberate fraud. However, this did little to dim Mme. Blavatsky's reputation on her arrival in England, where she published The Secret Doctrine (1888), which purports to be a portion of the Book of Dzyan, an otherwise unknown occult history of the earth. In her preface, she described it candidly as the "record of a people unknown to ethnologywritten in a tongue unknown to philology" and stated that she was prepared to accept the charge that she had invented the whole.

With The Secret Doctrine, she began to lay greater stress on the occult and formed (1888) an Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society in London for advanced study of the occult. Theosophy spread in England and Ireland among literary circles. The Irish Theosophical Society formed at Dublin by Charles Johnston in 1886 drew William Butler Yeats and others into its orbit, while the London Theosophists made an important convert in Annie (Wood) Besant in 1890. She was born in London of Irish ancestry in 1847, married an Anglican clergyman from whom she was later divorced, and had devoted herself since 1872 to advancing free thought, planned parenthood, labor unions, socialism, and other causes through the columns of the National Reformer, the Pall Mall Gazette, and other periodicals, as well as by the lecture platform. After Mme. Blavatsky's death (1891), Mrs. Besant became her successor as leader of the Theosophical Society. A division between the American theosophists developed in opposition to Mrs. Besant. In 1892 Judge was confirmed as president of the American section of the society, but an acrimonious controversy, involving more letters from the Mahatmas, allegedly forged by Judge, led to a permanent division in 189495, when he was elected for life as president of an independent Theosophical Society in America. At his death in 1896, Judge was succeeded by E. T. Hargrove, who published the Theosophical Quarterly at Chicago (18981935). A pro-Besant group, led by Alexander F. Fullerton and Kate Buffington Davis, formed the Theosophical Society of New York. Other divisions within the movement led to the founding of The Temple of the People (1899) at Syracuse, N.Y. (later transferred to Halcyon, Calif.); and to the formation of The Universal Brotherhood, under the leadership of Katherine A. Tingley and later of Gottfried de Purucker, which made its headquarters at Point Loma, Calif., until 1942. It was later established at Altadena, Calif., with James A. Long as its leader.

While the American theosophists divided on the question of the legitimate line of prophetic succession, the London and Adyar groups, under Olcott and Mrs. Besant, moved steadily in the direction of greater occultism. The influence of Charles W. Leadbeater, a former Anglican clergyman, became paramount. In 1895 Leadbeater published The Astral Plane and Mrs. Besant issued The Self and Its Sheaths, both devoted to occultism. In 1899 she moved permanently to Adyar, interesting herself in the establishment of the Central Hindu College, later affiliated to Allahabad University, and in Indian nationalism, as well as in the esoteric speculations revealed in Esoteric Christianity (1901) and The Ancient Wisdom (1899), which consider Christ as one of the incarnations of the Buddha. After a brief expulsion arising from charges of unnatural vice, Leadbeater was restored to the inner councils of the Theosophical Society in 1908, following Olcott's death and Mrs. Besant's rise to supreme power in the sect. Soon after he became convinced that the Christ was alive and would soon reappear. A Hindu youth, Jeddu Krishnamurti, was identified as the reincarnated Messiah. In 1911 the Order of the Star in the East was formed at a Congress of Theosophists held at Omnen, Holland, to prepare for the new avatar.

When four theosophists were ordained (191314) to the priesthood of the Old Catholic Church by Bp. Arnold Mathew, Leadbeater became interested in this development and was himself ordained (1916) bishop of the Old Catholic Church for Australasia. The aim of the liberal catholic church, as this branch of theosophy was designated, was to prepare a church for Krishnamurti. Although shaken by a series of public scandals in 1919, it continued to exist. Opposition to the Krishnamurti movement centered in the German section of the society, led by Rudolf steiner, who had founded (1912) the Anthroposophical Society (see anthroposophy). The following year Steiner's group was expelled by the Adyar Theosophists. The Order of the Star in the East was formally dissolved (1929) by Krishnamurti, who renounced all claims to divine origin or messianic mission. In a related move, Mrs. George Arundale was acknowledged by the Adyar group as "World-Mother" in 1928. On the death of Mrs. Besant (1933), leadership of the Adyar Temple passed to the Arundales. When George Arundale died (1945), C. Jinarajadrasi became spiritual leader. Subsequently a reaction to the excesses of the Besant-Leadbeater epoch led to an increased devotion to the memory of Mme. Blavatsky among British and American theosophists and to efforts to reunite the divided sect on the basis of commonly accepted dogmas.

Bibliography: The Theosophical Movement 18751950 (Los Angeles 1951). e. a. greenwalt, The Point Loma Community (Berkeley, Calif. 1955). c. p. ramaswami aijar, Annie Besant (Delhi, India 1963). c. e. b. roberts, The Mysterious Madame (New York 1931). g. l. williams, Priestess of the Occult (New York 1946). g. h. whyte, H. P. Blavatsky (London 1909). j. symonds, Madame Blavatsky (New York 1960). a. h. nethercot, The First Five Lives of Annie Besant (Chicago 1960); The Last Four Lives of Annie Besant (Chicago 1963). t. m. francis, Blavatsky, Besant and Co. (St. Paul, Minn. 1939). f. p. spinks, Theosophists Reunite! (Boston 1958). c. j. ryan, What is Theosophy? (Covina, Calif. 1944). l. w. rogers, Elementary Theosophy (Wheaton, Ill. 1950). i. s. cooper, Theosophy Simplified (Wheaton, Ill. 1955). h. p. blavatsky, Key to Theosophy (New York 1913). w. c. ohlendorf, An Outline of the Secret Doctrine (Chicago 1941).

[r. k. macmaster]

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Theosophy

Theosophy

Temple of the People

Theosophical Society

Theosophical Society (Hartley)

Theosophical Society in America

United Lodge of Theosophists

Upper Triad Association

The Word Foundation, Inc.

Temple of the People

Box 7100, 906 South Halcyon Road, Halcyon, CA 93421

The Temple of the People was formed in 1898 in Syracuse, New York, under the leadership of William H. Dower (1866–1937) and Francia A. LaDue (1849–1922). The founding occurred during the period of disruption in the American branch of the Theosophical Society following the deaths of its founders, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and William Q. Judge. The Syracuse group, like many others, rejected Judge’s successor, Katherine Tingley, and thus sought independence. Within a few years the temple purchased a tract of land at Halcyon, California (near Pismo Beach), and moved there in 1903. In 1904 Dower opened a sanatorium, which became famous for its treatment of tubercular patients, alcoholics, and drug addicts. In 1903 the temple also organized the Temple Home Association, a cooperative colony that existed through 1949, when it was reorganized, as set forth in its original bylaws, as the Home of the Temple Associated, Inc. The HTA was dissolved in 1992 and all properties were then administered by the Temple Corporation.

The temple began with the contact from the Mahatmas, or Masters, through LaDue and Dower, known respectively as “Blue Star” and “Red Star,” the designations given them by the Masters. They were told to abandon the society as led by Tingley, and through their reception and publishing of continuing materials from the Masters, to carry on the work begun by Madame Blavatsky. Over the years they produced an impressive set of materials, including a large volume, Theogenesis, a third volume of commentaries on the Stanzas of Dyzan. Madame Blavatsky wrote The Secret Doctrine, the two volumes of which were entitled Anthropogenesis and Cosmogenesis, as a commetary on those parts of the Stanzas that were known to her.

According to the temple, the spiritual hierarchy is led by the Central Spiritual Sun, the Christos, the expression of the Infinite Godhead. Other Masters, members of the Great White Brotherhood, embody aspects of the divine light, key members being the Masters of the Seven Rays (of the color spectrum). Integral to the original teachings given to the Temple’s founders from the Master Hilarion, Regent of the Red Ray, was a prophecy concerning the soon-to-occur birth of an avatar, an incarnation of the Christos, an event that happens only every 2,000 years. The first generation of the temple was to a great extent motivated by that expectation and the belief that members were the spearhead of the Messianic Age into which humanity was moving. These emphases, which still undergird the temple’s understanding of its educational mission and work in the world, are summarized in the three Teachings of the Temple volumes.

During the first generation, the life of the community at Halcyon revolved around the sanatorium and the building of the temple. Groups that received and studied the material produced through the Temple sprang up around the country, and every summer a national convention was held. Dower succeeded LaDue as guardian-in-chief of the temple. He was in turn succeeded by Pearl F. Dower, and she by Harold Forgostein. In 2008 the guardian-in-chief was Eleanor L. Shumway, who leads along with a board of four officers appointed yearly. The temple has kept the material originally received by Dower and LaDue in print and their work revolves around it.

The Temple of the People is still headquartered in the community at Halcyon, which has consistently been home to approximately 100 residents. There is a lively group following in both England and Germany, and individual members around the world. The temple offers services every Sunday morning and a short meditation for world healing every day at noon in the Blue Star Memorial Temple in Halcyon. Study classes are held twice a week in the University Center. All classes and services are open to the public. The William Quan Judge Library is open by appointment.

Membership

In 2008 the temple reported about 300 members in five congregations, along with affiliated work in Canada, England, Germany, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy.

Periodicals

The Temple Artisan.

Sources

Temple of the People. www.templeofthepeople.org/.

Burns, Bob, et al. The Temple of the People. Halcyon, CA: California Polytechnic State University, 1972.

From the Mountain Top. 3 vols. Halcyon, CA: Temple of the People, 1974–1985.

Kagan, Paul. New World Utopias. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1975.

Teachings of the Temple. 3 vols. Halcyon, CA: Temple of the People, 1947–1985.

Theogenesis. Halcyon, CA: Temple of the People, 1981.

Theosophical Society

PO Box C, Pasadena, CA 91109-7107

The Theosophical Society (TS) is a worldwide association dedicated to practical realization of the oneness of all life and to independent spiritual search. It was founded in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), Henry S. Olcott (1832–1907), William Q. Judge (1851–1896), and others. Its stated objectives are to diffuse among men a knowledge of the laws inherent in the universe; to promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is, and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to form an active brotherhood among men; to study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to investigate the powers innate in man. Beyond supporting its objectives, members need not accept any particular beliefs and may belong to any religion or to none. The society is nonsectarian and nonpolitical, open to all people regardless of race, nationality, class, creed, or gender.

The works of Blavatsky and her teachers express the principal concepts of theosophy (“divine wisdom”), a contemporary presentation of the perennial wisdom underlying the world’s religious traditions. Embodying the concepts of karma, reincarnation, and the essential divinity of all beings, it holds that life exists everywhere because everything originates from the same unknowable divine source, expressing itself cyclically through various ranges of consciousness and substance. Evolution consists of an emerging self-expression that individualizes into material forms through the various kingdoms until each being develops self-consciousness and spiritual awareness on its return to the divine source.

In 1877 Blavatsky published Isis Unveiled, her first major work showing the universality of the wisdom tradition and its basis in nature. The following year Blavatsky and Olcott left America for India, where they worked for recognition of Eastern religions and philosophies, especially among the educated who were rejecting their own traditions in the face of modern Western education. Blavatsky’s fame, however, rested largely on accounts of paranormal phenomena she had produced privately over the years. In 1885 the Society for Psychical Research published a report—since refuted in that society’s Journal—declaring Blavatsky an impostor. Earlier that year Blavatsky had moved to Europe, settling in London. There she published her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine, which presents a comprehensive view of cosmic and human evolution, bringing together mythic, religious, and scientific material from many cultures in support of theosophy’s basic concepts. She also issued The Key to Theosophy, The Voice of the Silence, and the magazine Lucifer (“lightbearer”).

When Blavatsky died in 1891, William Q. Judge and Annie Besant (1847–1933) became joint heads of the esoteric work, while Olcott continued his post as president of the society internationally. A number of problems concerning leadership and administration arose that eventually led the American Section to declare complete autonomy in April 1895 and elect Judge president for life. The resulting division in the society reached into all national sections.

After Judge’s death in 1896, Katherine Tingley (1847–1929) headed the esoteric work and soon laid the groundwork for a School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity. In 1898 she founded the Universal Brotherhood Organization, and the TS was renamed the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, with Tingley as leader and official head. In 1900 she moved the headquarters from New York City to Point Loma, California, near San Diego, where she founded a school, academy, and college, and, in 1919, the Theosophical University. Education for all residents of Point Loma included a balanced development of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual qualities, with emphasis on character training, music, drama, and the arts. Tingley lectured in the United States and abroad while pursuing philanthropic activities, among them international peace, education and prison reform, the rehabilitation of prisoners, and abolition of capital punishment.

After Tingley’s death in 1929, Gottfried de Purucker (1874–1942), a scholar with a literary legacy of theosophic literature, became leader. The original name “The Theosophical Society” was resumed, and after securing the financial footing of the TS through the Depression, in 1942 he moved the society’s headquarters, including the press, university, and library facilities, to Covina, near Los Angeles.

Arthur L. Conger (1872–1951) followed de Purucker as leader in 1945. Conger had joined the society while at Harvard during the time of Judge, and was president of the American Section under de Purucker. He maintained a strong publishing program and fostered a more practical expression of theosophy. In 1950 he moved the headquarters to the Pasadena area, and closed the esoteric section to help prevent crystallization.

After Conger’s death in 1951, James A. Long (1898–1971) continued this policy. He founded Sunrise Magazine as a bridge between the public and the deeper teachings of theosophy and urged members to express these principles in their daily lives and in simple nontechnical language. On Long’s death in 1971, Grace F. Knoche (1909–2006) became leader of the TS. She opened Theosophical University Library to the public and encouraged translation and publishing activities, library centers, public discussions, and study groups worldwide. Following Knoche’s death, Randell C. Grubb became head of the society.

The society supports fellows-at-large worldwide and maintains sections in Australasia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Scandinavia, South Africa, and North America. Extensive literature is available at no charge on its Web site, and theosophical correspondence courses are offered free of charge except for study materials and postage. The Theosophical University Press and its overseas agencies feature the theosophic classics of Blavatsky, Judge, de Purucker, Long, and Knoche, among other writers, while adding new titles to their lists. Audio versions of selected books are also made available for free to the visually impaired.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

SUNRISE: Theosophic Perspectives (also in Dutch and German editions).Teosofiskt Forum in Swedish.

Sources

Theosophical Society. www.theosociety.org/.

Blavatsky, H. P. The Key to Philosophy. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 2002.

de Purucker, Gottfried. Fountain-Source of Occultism. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1974.

———. Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1979.

———. H. P. Blavatsky. San Diego: Point Loma Publications, 1974.

Judge, William Q. Echoes of the Orient. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 2008.

———. The Ocean of Theosophy. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 2002.

Knoche, Grace F. To Light a Thousand Lamps: A Theosophic Vision. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 2006.

Ryan, Charles J. H. P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1974.

Tingley, Katherine. Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1977.

Theosophical Society (Hartley)

Blavatsky House, De Ruyterstratt 74, 2518 AV

The Hague, The Netherlands In 1951 the Theosophical Society, headquartered in Pasadena, California, split. The former leader of the society, Arthur L. Conger (1872–1951), had designated William Hartley (d. 1956) to be his successor. However, the society’s ruling council rejected Hartley in favor of James A. Long (1898–1971). Because Long and his supporters retained control of the society and its library and properties, Hartley and his followers were forced to reorganize. New headquarters were established in Covina, California. This branch gained few members from among American theosophists and eventually died out in the United States. But it found some measure of support in the Netherlands, where it has survived. Hartley was succeeded as head of the group by D. J. P. Kok. Since 1985 the leader has been Herman C. Vermeulen.

The society’s objectives are to diffuse among people a knowledge of the laws inherent in the universe; to promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to form an active brotherhood among people; to study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to investigate the power innate in humanity. The society promulgates its teachings in strict accordance with The Secret Doctrine by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and the writings of the other original leaders.

The society in Holland maintains an active program of public lectures, held from September through June at various locations; classes, including “Thinking Differently” and “Wisdom of Life,” which instruct students in the application of one’s thinking to daily life and a practical philosophy of life; lodge work; and an annual symposium.

Much effort is being made to translate theosophical works into other languages and to publish theosophical material. Blavatskyhuis (Blavatsky House), the headquarters, houses a library. The society’s corporation, the International Study Center for the Independent Search for Truth, also serves as a publisher.

Membership

Not reported. In 1987 there were five lodges, all in the Netherlands. There are no known branches of the Theosophical Society (Hartley) in the United States.

Periodicals

Lucifer: The Messenger of Life.

Sources

The Theosophical Society. www.blavatskyhouse.org/.

Theosophical Society in America

1926 N Main St., Wheaton, IL 60187

Alternate Address

International headquarters: Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras 600 020, India.

HISTORY

The Theosophical Society in America was founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), Col. Henry S. Olcott (1832–1907), William Q. Judge (1851–1896), and others. In 1879 the two principal founders, Olcott and Blavatsky, moved to India, where in 1882 they established the international headquarters in Adyar, Madras. Olcott, as the first president of the society, took the lead in administrative duties; during his lifetime the society became an international organization with lodges around the globe. Blavatsky became the great teacher of the movement and the founder of an independent sister organization called the Esoteric Section (associated primarily by the requirement that one must be a theosophist to be a member). The international headquarters chartered the American Section in 1886, and Judge organized the then scattered branches at an organizational convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following Blavatsky’s death, Judge led a movement among American members to become independent of the international headquarters. He persuaded most members to join him in the formation of what is now known in the United States as simply the Theosophical Society, with headquarters in Pasadena, California. Those lodges that remained loyal to the international headquarters were known as the American Section of the Theosophical Society.

Beginning with 14 lodges, the American society reached a membership peak in the late 1920s of around 8,000. During these years the society was led internationally by Annie Besant (1847–1933), who had succeeded first Blavatsky and then Olcott in the top leadership positions of the society and the Esoteric Section. The low point of the society came as World War II began, when membership was slightly more than 3,000. It resumed a slow growth after the war and reached a second peak in 1972 with more than 6,000 members.

BELIEFS

The society emphasizes its nondogmatic nature and the freedom it allows members in interpreting theosophical teachings. However, it does present in its literature an explicit worldview that is generally shared by theosophists and is taught in classes, seminars, and lectures by the leadership. The worldview affirms that One life pervades the universe and keeps it in existence. The universe is an expression of an eternal Principle that transcends human perception. Ultimate Reality manifests in two aspects, generally referred to as spirit (or consciousness) and matter. Spirit, matter, and their interaction constitute a trinity that produces a multitude of universes.

Every solar system is governed by natural law, with the planets being the densest aspect. There are also exceedingly fine material parts of the system, the whole of which is undergoing a process of evolution. The spirits (or souls) of humans are in essence identical with the supreme Spirit and undergoing a process of unfolding the essential divine nature. In that process, called reincarnation, the spirit passes through periods of activity (embodiments) followed by periods of rest/assimilation. Closely related to reincarnation is the Law of Karma, in which each soul creates its fate by its actions. The spirit’s pilgrimage begins in unity, moves to an experience of the manyness of this life, and back to conscious union with the One Divine Source of all.

ORGANIZATION

Olcott, the administrative center of the American Section, is located in Wheaton, Illinois, on a 40-acre tract purchased in the 1920s. The society is headed by a president and a board of directors consisting of the vice president and district directors elected regionally. The board oversees a number of administrative departments and the national program. Also located at the headquarters complex is the Olcott Library, housing more than 20,000 volumes on a wide variety of subjects on theosophy and related topics. The Theosophical Publishing House is a major publisher of esoteric literature and has extended its influence through a series issued under the imprint of Quest Books, made possible by donations by the Kern Foundation. A string of bookstores, Quest Bookshops, are located in Wheaton, New York City, Seattle, and elsewhere.

The society is an open membership organization, and anyone who is in sympathy with its general principles may join. Also nonmembers may join its library and benefit from its use. In 2008 the president of the society in America was Betty Bland. Among those who have served as president are Alexander Fullerton, Weller Van Hook, A. P. Warrington, L. W. Rogers, Sidney A. Cook, James S. Perkins, Henry A. Smith, Joy Mills, Ann Wylie, Dora Kunz, Dorothy Abbenhouse, and John Algeo.

Membership

In 2002 the society reported 5,580 members and 140 centers in the United States, and approximately 400 members and 18 centers in Canada. There were 40,000 members worldwide.

Educational Facilities

The Olcott Institute, Wheaton, Illinois.

Periodicals

The Quest.The Messenger.

Remarks

There are several organizations closely associated with the Theosophical Society in America that, though largely composed of members of the society, are in fact independent of it. These include the Esoteric Section; Krotona School of Theosophy, in Ojai, California; and the Theosophical Order of Service. The Esoteric Section and the Krotona Institute serve the society as an educational arm.

Sources

Theosophical Society in America. www.theosophical.org/.

Ellwood, Robert. Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986.

Mills, Joy. 100 Years of Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987.

Perkins, James S. Through Death to Rebirth. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973.

Rogers, L. W. Elementary Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1929.

United Lodge of Theosophists

245 W 33rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90007

The United Lodge of Theosophists (U.L.T.) is an association of students of theosophy founded by a small group of Theosophists dissatisfied with what they perceived as organizational formalities and distractions within the larger Theosophical movement. The conception of U.L.T. as a vehicle for Theosophical work derived mainly from the experience and insight of Robert Crosbie (1848–1919), who through his many years with the movement witnessed the schisms and divisions that he attributed to conflicting organizational claims, controversy over authority, and the conceptions of personal leaders. In 1909, with the help of a few others who had come to share his “unsectarian” view of Theosophy, Crosbie founded the United Lodge of Theosophists, an organization defined by a simple statement of policies and intentions. With this group he set about the task of restoring the record of Theosophical teachings available to the public and inaugurating a program of practical Theosophical education. The statement of purpose, called the “Declaration,” has remained unchanged, and the modes of work established by Crosbie have remained unaltered in principle.

Beliefs

The lodge teaches that there is but one life; all life is spirit or consciousness evolving toward greater individualization and toward a greater awareness of identity and unity. This evolution proceeds under an inherent law—an order that is native to human understanding. Believing that the mind, in its highest sense, is the place of realization and growth, individual students come to regard these general principles as meaning that human life is a continuous process of learning, and that this learning involves unceasing revision of the terms of individual understanding as men gain awareness of its operations.

Organization

According to its Declaration the U.L.T. is devoted to “the cause of Theosophy without professing attachment to any Theosophical organization. It is loyal to the great Founders of the theosophical movement, but does not concern itself with dissensions or difference of individual opinion.” The basis of union among Theosophists is a similarity of aim, purpose, and teachings, and to that end the U.L.T. has neither a constitution, by-laws, nor officers. Those affiliated with the lodge sign a statement of sympathy with the Declaration at the time of their becoming an associate (member) of the U.L.T. Members may found autonomous lodges.

The U.L.T. considers the original and pure message of Theosophy to be recorded in the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, co-founders of the Theosophical Society. The U.L.T. makes its works, and other works deemed consistent with them, including a monthly magazine, available to the public. Pamphlets, available in English, French, and Spanish, and one-hour videos can be downloaded free from the Web site.

Membership

In 2008 the U.L.T. reported 7 lodges and 3 study groups in the United States, 2 lodges in Canada, and 14 lodges in Belgium, Greece, India, France, Cameroon, Haiti, England, Sweden, and the Netherlands.

Periodicals

Theosophy.Hermes.The Theosophical Movement.

Remarks

Among the prominent centers affiliated with the U.L.T. is the center in Santa Barbara, California, which was founded in 1976 by the late Rhagavan N. Iyer, formerly a professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was succeeded by his widow, Nandini Iyer, an instructor in religious studies at UCSB. The center is home to the Concord Press, which pursues an aggressive program of publishing material on theosophy, Eastern religion, and classical philosophy, and the Institute of World Culture, which promotes dialogue on classical traditions, modern science, art, and social structures as they attempt to relate to world culture. The center also issues a periodical, Hermes.

Sources

United Lodge of Theosophists. www.ult-la.org/.

Crosbie, Robert. The Friendly Philosopher. Los Angeles: Theosophy Company, 1934.

———. Answers to Questions on the Ocean of Theosophy. Los Angeles: Theosophy Company, 1937.

Institute of World Culture. www.worldculture.org/index.html.

The Theosophical Movement, 1875–1950. Los Angeles: Cunningham Press, 1951.

The United Lodge of Theosophists, Its Mission and Its Future. Los Angeles: Theosophy Company, n.d.

Upper Triad Association

PO Box 825, Madison, NC 27025

The Upper Triad Association was formed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in January 1974 by three Christian members of the Theosophical Society and nine additional students of theosophy. Originally a meditation group that sponsored discussion, lectures, and classes in theosophy, the association began publishing the Upper Triad Journal, in April 1974, which became their major effort. Over the years the association published over 1,500 articles and commentaries, now collected and republished in the form of some 21 books and 63 topical issues. In 1976 the association moved its headquarters to New Brunswick, New Jersey, and incorporated the following year. In 1979 the headquarters moved to Virginia, and in 2005 to Raleigh, North Carolina, where the association operates a retreat facility. In 2008 the president was Peter Lunn.

The Upper Triad Association is an ecumenical fellowship whose members find inspiration in the various scriptures of all the different God-centered religions and who are focused on spiritual growth, world goodwill, and service. It has not been the group’s intention to compete with or duplicate other theosophical groups, and it has limited the circulation of its Journal to serious students rather than use it as an instrument for promulgating the esoteric philosophy. The assumptions on which the teachings are based include an affirmation of the unity of all life, the evolution of consciousness as the purpose of life, reincarnation and karma, the relativity of truth which may be perceived at many levels, the problem of life as the elimination of illusion and glamour, the essence of the self in the soul as opposed to the personality, and the higher stages of human evolution as being on the spiritual path. The association’s threefold mantra is humility, compassion, and goodwill.

Membership

Not reported.

Periodicals

Upper Triad Material.

Sources

Upper Triad Association. www.uppertriad.com/.

The Word Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 17510, Rochester, NY 14617

The Word Foundation, Inc., is a nonprofit organization formed in 1950 dedicated to disseminating the contents and explicating the meaning of Thinking and Destiny and other books by Harold Waldwin Percival (1868–1953), an early theosophist who joined the Theosophical Society in 1892. The year after he joined he had a profound experience that he described as being “conscious of Consciousness” during which “Light greater than that of myriads of suns opened in my head. In that instant or point, eternities were apprehended.” By a process he called “real thinking,” he was able to select any subject, focus the Conscious Light upon it, and have complete knowledge of that subject.

While a member of the Theosophical Society, but several years after the death of its leader, William Q. Judge, he withdrew and founded the Theosophical Society Independent. He also organized the Theosophical Publishing Company of New York and started a magazine, The Word, which he published from 1904 to 1917. The magazine had a worldwide circulation and featured prominent writers of the day.

It was during his years as editor of The Word that he began to outline materials for what was to become his most important work. By the process of “real thinking,” Percival wrote Thinking and Destiny, an exhaustive survey of humanity and the world. The text was dictated (primarily to an assistant, Benoni B. Gattell) since his body had to be very still while he thought. He spent more than 30 years dictating and refining the material in Thinking and Destiny.

Thinking and Destiny sets forth an impressive system in which humans are at the center of a universe created by their own thinking and thoughts. In this system, each human being is descended from a Triune Self (Thinker, Knower, and Doer) and is living in a self-induced hypnosis and ignorance in a human body. One of the goals of life is to teach beings to awaken to knowledge of themselves and of their purpose, that purpose being to become conscious in ever greater degrees until one knows the ultimate, Consciousness.

Every doer so embodied is bound by the law it has made for itself by its thinking and action. The universal law causes the everyday acts, objects, and events to exteriorize around one’s self as destiny. By self-dehypnotization and thinking, one gains an understanding and acquaintance with these inner realities. As one becomes free of the states of feeling and desire that bind one to nature, the way to conscious immortality is shown.

In 1946 Percival and some associates formed The Word Publishing Company and released Thinking and Destiny. In 1950 in New York, they chartered The Word Foundation, Inc. Percival assigned copyrights of all his books to the foundation. The foundation is not associated or affiliated with any other organization and does not endorse or support any teacher or group claiming to have been inspired by or authorized to interpret Percival’s writings. The foundation became an open membership organization in 1986. That same year, it revived The Word magazine.

Periodicals

The Word.

Membership

In 2002 the foundation reported approximately 400 members.

Sources

The Word Foundation. www.thewordfoundation.org/.

Percival, Harold W. Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas. Dallas: Word Foundation, 1993.

———. Democracy Is Self-Government. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1952.

———. Man and Woman and Child. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1951.

———. Masonry and Its Symbols. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1952.

———. Thinking and Destiny. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1950.

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Theosophy

Theosophy

1787

Aquarian Foundation

(Defunct)

Not to be confused with the presently existing Spiritualist reorganization of the same name, the theosophical Aquarian Foundation was established in 1927 by Edward Arthur Wilson. The previous year, Wilson reported that he had been "translated in spirit to the higher realms in order to meet the eleven masters of Wisdom." As head of the foundation, Wilson assumed the name "Brother XII." Wilson initially placed his work in the context of the major program of the Theosophical Society of the time, the announcement of the arrival of the World Teacher in the person of Jiddu Krishnamurti. Brother XII denied Krishnamurti's assigned role and suggested instead that preparation for the coming World Teacher would be made through the foundation. A community was established in British Columbia in Canada. Over 100 theosophists left England with him at the beginning of 1927 to become the community's initial residents. Brother XII authored several books detailing the foundation's basic theosophical teachings and perspective.

The foundation was planted near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island. Residents turned over their worldly possessions, and many friends of the work contributed additional sums. The colony flourished in spite of the introduction of some new teachings not otherwise disclosed in Brother XII's books. The immediate goal of the foundation was to give birth to a new generation of advanced human beings. To accomplish this end, each of the colony females, no matter what their present marital status, was to have sexual relations with Brother XII, and the resultant children raised by the colony were to be the individuals who would actually receive the coming World Teacher in 1975. Brother XII also designated one colonist, Myrtle Baumgartner, as the mother of the World Teacher. Baumgartner did not produce a male child, however, and was soon replaced by Mabel Skottowe, known to her fellow colonists as Madame Zee.

The work continued until 1934, when two former members filed suits claiming that Wilson had treated them harshly and had misused the funds entrusted to him. The trials, which received sensational coverage in the press, were both decided for the plaintiffs, who were awarded both property and money. Wilson and Madame Zee soon disappeared, and the colony dissolved.

Sources:

Brother XII. Foundation Letters and Teachings. Akron, OH: Sun Publishing Co., 1927.

——. The Three Truths. Akron, OH: Sun Publishing Co., 1927.

Oliphant, John. Brother Twelve: The Incredible Story of Canada' FalseProphet. Toronto: Mc Clelland & Stewart, 1992.

——. "The Teachings of Brother XII." Theosophical History 4, 6/7 (April/July 1993): 194-219.

Santucci, James. "The Aquarian Foundation." Communal Societies 9 (1989): 39-61.

Wilson, Herbert Emmerson. Canada's False Prophet. Richmond Hill, ON: Simon & Schuster, 1967.

1788

Hermetic Society for World Service

Current address not obtained for this edition.

The Hermetic Society of World Service was founded in 1947 for the study of the Hermetic gnosis or ancient wisdom. While much of the teaching of the society is esoteric, and hence reserved for members only, its general perspective includes several basic truths. The society asserts human brotherhood, irrespective of race or nationality as a realizable condition essential for life on earth. Humans evolve through the process of reincarnation, and the moral order is dictated by the law of karma, the law of ethical causation. Salvation is attained only by the conscious effort of the individual through a process of spiritual growth over a number of lifetimes. The Society is headed by its hierophant and spiritual guru who is believed to be in contact with the Sirian Brotherhood, the spiritual hierarchy dedicated to the dissemination of the Light of Spiritual Knowledge throughout the world.

The society maintains that earth is in a period of change into the New Age, which is operating in the world process and is bringing about changes in science, religion, philosophy, civilization, and the way of life for humanity. What was termed the Battle of Armageddon in the Bible is currently being fought out on the Inner (invisible) Planes between the righteous and unrighteous and will soon descend to the visible realm and manifest in a period of war, tribulation, and crisis. The Society offers resources for individuals to live through the changing times and proceed to greater levels of attainment. Those without these resources will be cast aside from the mainstream of human evolution. Those who adopt the New Age spiritual techniques will have the opportunity to prepare themselves for entry into the Spiritual Universe as partakers of the Divine Nature.

The Society seeks to return humanity from the Path of Outgoing (directed away from their divine origins) to the Path of Return to God and the soul's eternal home. In this endeavor, the society teaches a technique of soul immortalization and methods to manifest the powers latent in the individual human soul, and the law governing the technique and disciples required to bring about the regeneration of human nature, preparatory to the gaining of liberation from the necessity of reincarnation and the operation of the law of karma. To achieve liberation, the individual must atone and liquidate the effects of past sins of body, mind, and speech, and undertake a process of spiritual regeneration. In the end the individual soul will gain immortality. Immortality must be sought for in accordance with the principles of esoteric science.

America has a special place in the New Age. It is the place designated as the new Holy Land of Earth. It is the domain designated by the spiritual hierarchy who guide human destiny for the preservation of the seeds for the continuation of human life. It is the grail that will hold the Great Cosmic Light that will illumine the whole world.

Membership: Not reported.

Sources:

Browne, Robert T. Introduction to Hermetic Science and Philosophy. Hermetic Society, n.d. 4 page tract.

1789

International Group of Theosophists

(Defunct)

The International Group of Theosophists is a small group which grew out of the American Theosophical movement in southern California. It was founded in the 1940s by Boris Mihailovich de Zirkoff (1902-1981), the grand-nephew of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Its objectives were to uphold and promote the original principles of the modern Theosophical movement and to disseminate the teachings of the esoteric philosophy as set forth by Blavatsky and her teachers. The group has tried to operate outside of the disagreements of the more established lodges and has cooperated with them in Zirkoff's major life work, the editing and publishing of Blavatsky's collected writings. For over thirty years it published Theosophia, a quarterly journal (1944-1981), but issued a final volume in the summer of 1981 as a tribute issue to its founder.

1790

Temple of the People

Box 7095
Halcyon, CA 93420

The Temple of the People began in Syracuse, New York, during the period of the disruption of the American branch of the Theosophical Society following the death of founders Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and William Q. Judge. Following Judge in the leadership of the American society was Katherine Tingley, who many, including the group in Syracuse, rejected. Under the leadership of William H. Dower (1866-1937) and Francis A. LaDue (1849-1922), they became independent and formed the Temple of the People in 1898. Within a few years, they purchased a tract of land at Halycon, California, (near Pismo Beach) and moved there in 1903. In 1904, Dower opened a sanatorium, which became famous during the generation of its operation for its treatment of tubercular patients, alcoholics, and drug addicts. In 1903, the temple organized the Temple Home Association as a cooperative colony. The Temple Home Association existed through 1949 when it was reorganized as set forth in its original bylaws into the Home of the Temple Associated, Inc. The HTA was dissolved in 1992 and all properties are administered by the Temple Corporation.

The temple began with the contact from the Mahatmas, or Masters, through LaDue and Dower, known respectively as "Blue Star" and "Red Star," the designations given them by the Masters. They were told to abandon the Tingley-led society, and through their reception and publishing of continuing materials from the Masters, to carry on the work begun by Madame Blavatsky. Over the years, they produced an impressive set of materials, including a large volume, Theogenesis, a third volume of commentaries on the Stanzas of Dyzan. Madame Blavatsky wrote The Secret Doctrine, the two volumes of which were entitled Anthropogenesis and Cosmogenesis, as a commetary on those parts of the Stanzas that were known to her.

According to the temple, the spiritual hierarchy is led by the Central Spiritual Sun, the Christos, the expression of the Infinite Godhead. Other Masters, members of the Great White Brotherhood, embody aspects of the divine light, key members being the Masters of the Seven Rays (of the color spectrum). Integral to the original teachings given to the Temple's founders from the Master Hilarion, Regent of the Red Ray, was a prophecy concerning the soon-to-occur birth of an avatar, an incarnation of the Christos, an event which only happens every 2,000 years. The first generation of the temple was to a great extent motivated by that expectation and the belief that members were the spearhead of the Messianic Age into which humanity was moving. These emphases, which still undergird the temple's understanding of its educational mission and work in the world, are summarized in the three Teachings of the Temple volumes.

During the first generation, the life of the community at Halcyon revolved around the sanitorium and the building of the temple. Groups that received and studied the material produced through the Temple sprang up around the country, and every summer a national convention was held. Dower succeeded LaDue as guardian-in-chief of the temple. He was in turn succeeded by Pearl F. Dower, and she by Harold Forgostein. The present Guardian-in-Chief is Eleanor L. Shumway. The temple has kept the material originally received by Dower and LaDue in print and their work revolves around it.

The Temple of the People is still headquartered in the community at Halycon, which has consistently been home to approximately 100 residents. There is a lively group following in both England and Germany, and individual members around the world. The temple is led by the guardian-in-chief (Eleanor L. Shumway) and a board of four officers appointed yearly.

Membership: An estimated 350 people are actively participating in Temple activities worldwide as of 1997.

Periodicals: The Temple Artisan.

Sources:

Burns, Bob, et al. The Temple of the People. Halcyon, CA: California Polytechnic State University, 1972.

From the Mountain Top. 3 vols. Halcyon, CA: Temple of the People, 1974-1985.

Kagan, Paul. New World Utopias. Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1975.

Teachings of the Temple. 3 vols. Halcyon, CA: Temple of the People, 1947-1985.

Theogenesis. Halcyon, CA: Temple of the People, 1981.

1791

Theosophical Society

PO Box C
Pasadena, CA 91109-7107

The Theosophical Society (TS) is a worldwide association dedicated to practical realization of the oneness of all life and to independent spiritual search. It was founded in New York City in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891), Henry S. Olcott, William Q. Judge, and others. Its stated objectives are: to diffuse among men a knowledge of the laws inherent in the universe; to promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is, and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to form an active brotherhood among men; to study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to investigate the powers innate in man. Beyond supporting its objectives, members need not accept any particular beliefs and may belong to any religion or to none. The society is unsectarian and nonpolitical, open to all people regardless of race, nationality, class, creed, or gender.

The works of Blavatsky and her teachers express the principal concepts of theosophy ("divine wisdom"), a contemporary presentation of the perennial wisdom underlying the world's religious traditiosn. Embodying the concepts of karma, reincarnation, and the essential divinity of all beings, it holds that life exists everywhere because everything originates from the same unknowable divine source, expressing itself cyclically through various ranges of consciousness and substance. Evolution consists of an emerging self-expression which individualizes into material forms through the various kingdoms until each being develops self-consciusness and spiritual awareness on its return to the divine source.

In 1877, Blavatsky published Isis Unveiled, her first major work showing the universality of the wisdom tradition and its basis in nature. The following year Blavatsky and Olcott left America for India, where they worked for recognition of Oriental religious and philosophies, especially among the educated who were rejecting their own traditions in the face of modern Western education. Blavatsky's fame, however, rested largely on accounts of paranormal phenomena she had produced privately over the years. In 1885, the Society for Psychical Research published a report—since refuted in that Society's Journal—declaring Blavatsky an impostor. Earlier that year Blavatsky moved to Europe, and settled in London. There she published her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine, which presents a comprehensive view of cosmic and human evolution, bringing together mythic, religious, and scientific material from many cultures in support of theosophy's basic concepts. She also issued The Key to Theosophy, The Voice of the Silence, and the magazine Lucifer ("lightbearer").

When Blavatsky died in 1891, William Q. Judge and Annie Besant became joint head of the esoteric work, while Olcott continued his post as president of the society internationally. A number of problems concerning leadership and administration arose which eventually led to the American Section to declare complete autonomy in April 1895, and elect Judge president for life. The resulting division in the society reached into all national sections.

After Judge's death in 1896, Katherine Tingley headed the esoteric work and soon laid the groundwork for a School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity. In 1898, she founded the Universal Brotherhood Organization and the TS was renamed the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society, with Tingley as leader and official head. In 1900, she moved the headquarters from New York City to Point Loma, California, near San Diego, where she founded a school, academy, and college, and in 1919, the Theosophical University. Education for all residents of Point Loma included a balanced development of physical, mental, moral, and spiritual qualities, with emphasis on character training, music, drama, and the arts. Tingley lectured in the United States and abroad while pursuing philanthropic activities, among them international peace, education and prison reform, the rehabilitation of prisoners, and abolition of capital punishment.

After Tingley's death in 1929, Gottfried de Purucker, a scholar whose literary legacy of thesophic literature is well known, became leader. The original name "The Theosophical Society" was resumed and formed after securing the financial footing of the TS through the Depression, in 1942, he moved the society's headquarters, including the press, university, and library facilities, to Covina, near Los Angeles.

Arthur L. Conger followed Purucker as leader in 1945. Conger had joined the society while at Harvard during the time of Judge, and was president of the American Section under Purucker. He maintained a strong publishing program and fostered a more practical expression of theosophy. In 1950 he moved the headquarters to the Pasadena area, and closed the esoteric section to help prevent crystallization.

After Conger's death in 1951, James A. Long continued this policy. He founded Sunrise Magazine as a bridge between the public and the deeper teachings of theosophy and urged members to express these principles in their daily lives and in simple nontechnical language. On Long's death in 1971, Grace F. Knoche became leader of the TS. She opened Theosophical University Library to the public and has encouraged translation and publishing activities, library centers, public discussions, and study groups worldwide. Theosophical correspondence courses are offered free of charge except for study materials and postage, and cassette versions of Sunrise and books are made available gratis to the visually impaired. Theosophical University Press and its overseas agencies feature the theosophic classics of Blavatsky, Judge, de Purucker and Long, among other writers, while adding new titles to their lists. In addition to Fellows-at-Large worldwide, national sections exist in Australasia, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Scandinavia, South Africa, and North America.

Periodicals: SUNRISE: Theosophic Perspectives (also in Dutch and German editions). • Teosofiskt Forum in Swedish.

Sources:

de Purucker, Gottfried. Fountain-Source of Occultism. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1974.

——. H. P. Blavatsky. San Diego: Point Loma Publications, 1974.

Judge, William Q. Echoes of the Orient. San Diego: Point Loma Publications, 1975.

——. The Ocean of Theosophy. Point Loma, CA: Aryan Theosophical Press, 1926.

Ryan, Charles J. H. P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1974.

Tingley, Katherine. Theosophy: the Path of the Mystic. Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 1977.

1792

Theosophical Society (Hartley)

℅ Blavatskyhius
de Ruyterstratt 74
NL-2518 AV Gravenhage, Netherlands

In 1951, the Theosophical Society, headquartered in Pasadena, California, split. The former leader of the society, Arthur L. Conger (d. 1951) had designated William Hartley (d.1956) to be his successor. However, the society's ruling council rejected Hartley in favor of James A. Long. Long and his supporters retained control of the society and its library and properties; thus Hartley and his followers were forced to reorganize. New headquarters were established in Covina, California. This branch gained few members from among American theosophists and eventually died out in the United States. But it found some measure of support in the Netherlands, and there it survives. Hartley was succeeded as head of the group by D. J. P. Kok. The present leader is Herman C. Vermeulen.

The society has these objectives: to diffuse among people a knowledge of the laws inherent in the universe; to promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature; to form an active brotherhood among people; to study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy; and to investigate the power innate in humanity. The society promulgates its teachings in strict accordance with The Secret Doctrine by Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and the writings of the other original leaders.

The society flourishes in Holland, with an active program of public lectures, classes, and lodge work. Much effort is being made to translate theosophical works into other languages and to publish theosophical material. Blavatskyhuis, the headquarters, houses a library. Publishing is done through the Society's corporation, the International Study Center for the Independent Search for Truth.

Membership: Not reported. In 1987, there were five lodges, all in The Netherlands.

Periodicals: Lucifer.

1793

Theosophical Society in America

Box 270
Wheaton, IL 60189-0270

Alternate Address International headquarters: Adyar, Madras 600 020, India.

History. The Theosophical Society in America is the American Branch of the international Theosophical Society headquartered in Adyar, Madras, India. It was founded in 1875 by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Col. Henry S. Olcott, William Q. Judge and others. In 1879, the two principal founders, Olcott and Blavatsky, moved to India, and in 1882 established the international headquarters in Adyar. Olcott, as the first president of the society, took the lead in administrative duties and during his lifetime it became a truly international organization with lodges that circled the globe. Blavatsky became the great teacher of the movement and the founder of an independent sister organization called the Esoteric Section (associated primarily by the requirement that one must be a theosophist to be a member). The international headquarters chartered the American Section in 1886, and Judge organized the then scattered branches at an organizational convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. Following Blavatsky's death, Judge led a movement among American members to become independent of the international headquarters, and persuaded most members to join with him in the formation of what is now known in the United States as simply the Theosophical Society, with headquarters in Pasadena, California. Those lodges that remained loyal to the international headquarters were known as the American Section of the Theosophical Society.

Beginning with 14 lodges, the American society rebuilt through the first decades of the twentieth century reaching a peak in the late-1920s at around 8,000 members. During these years the society was led internationally by Annie Besant who had succeeded first Blavatsky and then Olcott in the top leadership positions of the society and the Esoteric Section. The low point of the society came as World War II began when membership was slightly more than 3,000. It resumed a slow growth after the war and reached a second peak about 1972 with more than 6,000 members.

Beliefs. The society emphasizes its nondogmatic nature and the freedom it allows members in interpreting theosophical teachings. However, it does present in its literature an explicit worldview which is generally shared by theosophists and is taught in classes, seminars, and lectures by the leadership. The worldview affirms that One life pervades the universe and keeps it in existence. The universe is an expression of an eternal Principle with transcends human perception. Ultimate Reality manifests in two aspects, generally referred to as spirit (or consciousness) and matter. Spirit, matter, and their interaction, constitute a trinity which produce a multitude of universes.

Every solar system is governed by natural law with the planets being the densest aspect. There are also exceeding fine material parts of the system, the whole of which is undergoing a process of evolution. The spirits (or souls) of humans are in essence identical with the supreme Spirit and undergoing a process of unfolding the essential divine nature. That process is by a means called reincarnation in which the spirit passes through periods of activity (embodiments) followed by periods of rest/assimilation. Closely related to reincarnation is the Law of Karma, in which each soul creates its fate by its actions. The spirit's pilgrimage begins in unity, moves to an experience of the manyness of this life and back to conscious union with the One Divine Source of all.

Organization. Olcott, the administrative center of the American Section is located in Wheaton, Illinois, on a 40-acre tract purchased in the 1920s. The society is headed by a president and a board of directors consisting of the vice president and district directors elected regionally. The board oversees a number of administrative departments and the national program. Also located at the headquarters complex is the Olcott Library now housing more than 20,000 volumes on a wide variety of subjects on theosophy and related topics. The Theosophical Publishing House is a major publisher of esoteric literature and has in recent decades extended its influence through a series issued under the imprint of "Quest Books," made possible by generous donations by the Kern Foundation. A string of bookstores, Quest Bookshops, are located in Wheaton, New York City, Seattle, and elsewhere.

The society is an open membership organization, and anyone who is in sympathy with its general principles may join. Also nonmembers may join its library and benefit from its use. The current president of the society in America is Betty Bland. Among those who have served as president are Alexander Fullerton, Weller Van Hook, A. P. Warrington, L. W. Rogers, Sidney A. Cook, James S. Perkins, Henry A. Smith, Joy Mills, Ann Wylie, Dora Kunz, Dorothy Abbenhouse, and John Algeo.

Membership: In 2002, the society reported 5,580 members and 140 centers in the United States, and approximately 400 members and 18 centers in Canada. There were 40,000 members worldwide.

Educational Facilities: The Olcott Institute, Wheaton, Illinois.

Periodicals:The Quest. • The Messenger.

Remarks: There are several organizations closely associated with the Theosophical Society in America which, while largely composed of members of the society, are in fact completely independent of it. These include the Esoteric Section, Krotona School of Theosophy, and the Theosophical Order of Service. The Esoteric Section and the Krotone Institute now serve the society as an educational arm.

Sources:

Ellwood, Robert. Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986.

Mills, Joy. 100 Years of Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987.

Perkins, James S. Through Death to Rebirth. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973.

Rogers, L. W. Elementary Theosophy. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1929.

1794

United Lodge of Theosophists

245 W. 33rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90007

The United Lodge of Theosophists (U.L.T.) is an association of students of theosophy founded by a small group of Theosophists dissatisfied with what they perceived as organizational formalities and distractions within the larger Theosophical movement. The conception of U.L.T. as a vehicle for Theosophical work derived mainly from the experience and insight of Robert Crosbie (1848-1919), who through his many years with the movement witnessed the schisms and divisions that he attributed to conflicting organizational claims, controversy over authority, and the conceptions of personal leaders. In 1909, with the help of a few others who had come to share his "unsectarian" view of Theosophy, Crosbie founded the United Lodge of Theosophists—an organization defined by a simple statement of policies and intentions—and set about the task of restoring the record of Theosophical teachings available to the public and inaugurating a program of practical Theosophical education. The statement of purpose, called the "Declaration," has remained unchanged to the present, and the modes of work established by Crosbie have remained unaltered in principle.

Beliefs. The lodge teaches that there is but one life; all life is spirit or consciousness evolving toward greater individualization and toward a greater awareness of identity and unity; and this evolution proceeds under an inherent law—an order that is native to human understanding. Believing that the mind, in its highest sense, is the place of realization and growth, individual students come to regard these general principles as meaning that human life is a continuous process of learning, and that this learning involves unceasing revision of the terms of individual understanding as men gain awareness of its operations.

Organization. According to its "Declaration" the U.L.T. is devoted to "the cause of Theosophy without professing attachment to any Theosophical organization. It is loyal to the great Founders of the theosophical movement, but does not concern itself with dissensions or difference of individual opinion." The basis of union among Theosophists is a similarity of aim, purpose, and teachings, and to that end, the U.L.T. has neither a constitution, by-laws, nor officers. Those affiliated with the lodge sign a statement of sympathy with the "Declaration" at the time of their becoming an associate (member) of the U.L.T. Members may found autonomous lodges.

The U.L.T. considers the original and pure message of Theosophy to be recorded in the writings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and William Q. Judge, co-founders of the Theosophical Society. The U.L.T. make their works, and other works deemed consistent with them, including a monthly magazine, available to the public.

Membership: There is no formal membership as the lodge is an informal association of students. In 2002, there were 11 lodges in the United States and 11 in other countries.

Periodicals: Theosophy. Send orders to 245 W. 33rd St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Hermes. Available from the Universal Theosophy Fellowship, Box 1085, Santa Barbara, CA 92102. The Theosophical Movement. Available from the Theosophy Hall, 40 New Marine Lane, Bombay 400 001, India.

Remarks: Among the prominent centers affiliated with the U.L.T. is the center in Santa Barbara, California, which was built up through the 1970s and 1980s by the late Rhagavan N. Iyer, formerly a professor of political science at the University of California-Santa Barbara. It is currently headed by his widow, Nandini Iyer, an instructor in religious studies at UCSB. The center is home to the Concord Press, which pursues an aggressive program of publishing material on theosophy, Eastern religion, and classical philosophy, and the Institute of World Culture, which promotes dialogue on classical traditions, modern science, art, and social structures as they attempt to relate to world culture. The center also issues a periodical, Hermes.

Sources:

Crosbie, Robert. The Friendly Philosopher. Los Angeles: Theosophy Company, 1934.

——. Answers to Questions on the Ocean of Theosophy. Los Angeles: Theosophy Company, 1937.

The Theosophical Movement, 1875-1950. Los Angeles: Cunningham Press, 1951.

The United Lodge of Theosophists, Its Mission and Its Future. Los Angeles: Theosophy Company, n.d.

1795

The Word Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 17510
Rochester, NY 14617

Harold W. Percival (1868-1953) was an early theosophist, having joined the Theosophical Society in 1892. The society seemed to serve as a springboard for his own development, and the year after his joining he had a profound experience which he described as being "conscious of Consciousness" during which "Light greater than that of myriads of suns opened in my head. In that instant or point, eternities were apprehended." By a process he called "real thinking", he was able to select any subject, focus the Conscious Light upon it, and when the Light was brought to a focus on a subject, have complete knowledge of that subject.

While a member of the Theosophical Society, but several years after the death of its leader, William Q. Judge, he withdrew and founded the Theosophical Society Independent. He also organized the Theosophical Publishing Company of New York and started a magazine, The Word, which he published from 1904 to 1917.

It was during his years as editor of The Word that he began to outline materials for what was to become his most important work. By the process of "real thinking," Percival wrote Thinking and Destiny, an exhaustive survey of humanity and the world. The text was dictated (primarily to an assistant, Benoni B. Gattell) since his body had to be very still while he thought. He spent more than 30 years dictating and refining the material in Thinking and Destiny.

Thinking and Destiny sets forth an impressive system in which humans are at the center of a universe created by their own thinking and thoughts. In this system, each human being is descended from a Triune Self (Thinker, Knower, and Doer) and is living in a self-induced hynosis and ignorance in a human body. One of the goals of life is to teach beings to awaken to knowledge of themselves and of their purpose, that purpose being to become conscious in ever greater degrees until one knows the ultimate, Consciousness.

Every doer so embodied is bound by the law it has made for itself by its thinking and action. The universal law causes the everyday acts, objects, and events to exteriorize around one's self as destiny. By self-dehynoptization and thinking, one gains an understanding and acquaintance with these inner realities. As one becomes free of the states of feeling and desire that bind one to nature, the way to conscious immortality is shown.

In 1946, Percival and some associates formed The Word Publishing Company and released Thinking and Destiny. In 1950 the foundation was formed to perpetutate Percival's teachings. The next few years saw the publication of three smaller books which provide a more detailed discussion of selected subjects. The foundation, primarily dedicated to the publication and distribution of Percival's writings, became an open membership organization in 1986. That same year, it also revived The Word magazine.

Membership: In 2002, the foundation reported approximately 400 members.

Sources:

Percival, Harold W. Adepts, Masters and Mahatmas. Dallas: Word Foundation, 1993.

——. Democracy Is Self-Government. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1952.

——. Man and Woman and Child. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1951.

——. Masonry and Its Symbols. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1952.

——. Thinking and Destiny. New York: Word Publishing Company, 1950.

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