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What is Theosophy?

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1- The Word 'Theosophy" means Divine Wisdom or Wisdom of the Gods. It is the Greek equivalent of a Sanskrit word 'Brahamavidya', which could be translated as God-wisdom or God-knowledge. Under this name its existence was recognised in the East long before the Christian era. It is very ancient indeed.

2- Theosophy, the Ancient Wisdom (the Perennial Philosophy), is the truth that underlies all religions. It is the dire knowledge of God and the way of union with Him. In some pre-Christian religions it was preserved in the Mysteries, and there is plenty of evidence of a similar secret teaching in Christianity.

3- Theosophy is essentially the limitless truth, known and unknown, and can never be contained in a single book or creed or set of articles of faith. It may be progressively discovered by each individual as a matter of experience from within rather than of teaching from without.

Nevertheless, the name Theosophy is also given to a body of teachings, which have been handed down through the ages in symbols, allegories, myths and mystery dramas, as well as through the scriptures, creeds, dogmas and rites of organized religions and of true Freemasonry. Every religion appears as an attempt, on the part of Knowers of the Wisdom, to present the fundamental truths of life to mankind in ways appropriate to the stage of evolutionary development of a particular civilization and of the individuals in it. Some of these traditional teachings of the Wisdom-Religion, revealed or concealed in all the great religions of the world without exception, may be briefly stated:

a)- There is only one Reality or Universal Principle. It is the Divine Life, One and Indivisible, the same in all things from the atom to the angel and from man to God.

b) This Reality (called by many names- God, Brahman, the Logos....) is recognized in religions as a Trinity in Unity, because of His threefold activity in His universe.

c) This universe is designed according to a Plan, which is evolution. All creatures are His children, owing their life to Him. They are indeed Himself 'sub specie evolutionis', that is, under the limitations of time and form.

d) Humanity is one stage in the progressive unfoldment of divinity. Having become self-conscious, man has now to learn to co-operate with the divine purpose by unfolding still further the divine life that is in him.

e) To become 'perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect' takes time. Reincarnation, that is, repeated opportunities of learning to fulfill one's human destiny, is the normal method of man's progress towards complete Self-realization.

f) Life as we know it, and death, are alternating phases of experience, like school terms and holidays. Death is the dissolution of a form; life is indestructible. Immortality and ultimate fulfillment are assured by virtue of man's identity with God.

g) By studying the laws of life and conforming his conduct to them, man may hasten his journey to conscious union with God. The way of union has been experienced by mystics and practitioners of Yoga (which means union) from time immemorial and may still be discovered today. To live to benefit mankind is the first step.

See also document Modern Theosophy by Claude Falls Wright and What is Theosophy? by H.P.Blavatsky below.

What Is Theosophy?

by H. P. Blavatsky

According to lexicographers, the term theosophia is composed of two Greek words -- theos, "god," and sophos, "wise." So far, correct. But the explanations that follow are far from giving a clear idea of Theosophy. Webster defines it most originally as "a supposed intercourse with God and superior spirits, and consequent attainment of superhuman knowledge, by physical processes, as by the theurgic operations of some ancient Platonists, or by the chemical processes of the German fire-philosophers."

Vaughan offers a far better, more philosophical definition. "A Theosophist," he says -- "is one who gives you a theory of God or the works of God, which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis." In this view every great thinker and philosopher, especially every founder of a new religion, school of philosophy, or sect, is necessarily a Theosophist. Hence, Theosophy and Theosophists have existed ever since the first glimmering of nascent thought made man seek instinctively for the means of expressing his own independent opinions.

There were Theosophists before the Christian era, notwithstanding that the Christian writers ascribe the development of the Eclectic theosophical system to the early part of the third century of their Era. Diogenes Laertius traces Theosophy to an epoch antedating the dynasty of the Ptolemies; and names as its founder an Egyptian Hierophant called Pot-Amun, the name being Coptic and signifying a priest consecrated to Amun, the god of Wisdom. But history shows it revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. It was the aim and purpose of Ammonius to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith -- a belief in one Supreme Eternal, Unknown, and Unnamed Power, governing the Universe by immutable and eternal laws. His object was to prove a primitive system of Theosophy, which at the beginning was essentially alike in all countries; to induce all men to lay aside their strifes and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother; to purify the ancient religions, by degrees corrupted and obscured, from all dross of human element, by uniting and expounding them upon pure philosophical principles. Hence, the Buddhistic, Vedantic and Magian, or Zoroastrian, systems were taught in the Eclectic Theosophical School along with all the philosophies of Greece. Hence also, that preeminently Buddhistic and Indian feature among the ancient Theosophists of Alexandria, of due reverence for parents and aged persons; a fraternal affection for the whole human race; and a compassionate feeling for even the dumb animals. While seeking to establish a system of moral discipline which enforced upon people the duty to live according to the laws of their respective countries; to exalt their minds by the research and contemplation of the one Absolute Truth; his chief object in order, as he believed, to achieve all others, was to extract from the various religious teachings, as from a many-chorded instrument, one full and harmonious melody, which would find response in every truth-loving heart.

Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization. This "Wisdom" all the old writings show us as an emanation of the divine Principle; and the clear comprehension of it is typified in such names as the Indian Buddh, the Babylonian Nebo, the Thoth of Memphis, the Hermes of Greece, in the appellations, also, of some goddesses -- Metis, Neitha, Athena, the Gnostic Sophia, and finally --the Vedas, from the word "to know." Under this designation, all the ancient philosophers of the East and West, the Hierophants of old Egypt, the Rishis of Aryavart, the Theodidaktoi of Greece, included all knowledge of things occult and essentially divine.

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