What’s the theosophical work?

We live in strange times. I grew up saving newspaper clippings of interesting facts, stories and opinions I’d found. My parents did the same. Why? Because the only way to be sure of details that were important, was to keep track of them somehow. These days, of course, IF we save newspaper clippings, we do so online through some online bookmarking service.

But mostly what happens is that we just Google the topic as we remember it, and find enough information for our lay-person’s needs.

In short: we’ve gone from information being a scarce good, to information being freely available. I expect to a large extent it will stay that way.

I was conversing online with someone who wanted to get theosophy back to the Masters. He said: I’m not linking to your site because it has too much Krishnamurti on it. I don’t want to confuse my readers. Let’s call him mr. de Vries.

Aside from the fact that the masters in the Mahatma Letters seemed very willing to deal with openminded searchers – de Vries’ thought process didn’t take into account the very simple fact that any reader on a website is likely to have already seen LOTS of other spiritual websites. Mine being very close to the Masters in comparison to most of those.

De Vries has a simple approach to the work of the Theosophical Society: spreading the teachings of the masters.

Mine is a bit more complex. I take my cue from that last KH letter that was sent to Annie Besant:

The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship. The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in the T.S. and E.S.. We never try to subject to ourselves the will of another. At favorable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action. We show no favors. The best corrective of error is an honest and open-minded examination of all facts subjective and objective. Misleading secrecy has given the death blow to numerous organizations.

The cant about the “Masters” must be silently but firmly put down. Let the devotion and service be to that Supreme Spirit alone of which one is a part. Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work. You will have to leave a good deal of your emotions and credulity before you become a safe guide among the influences that will commence to work in the new cycle. The T.S. was meant to be the cornerstone of the future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thought and outward observance. The greatest of your trials is yet to come.

Now there is of course, given it’s date of being sent, some doubt as to whether this letter is genuine. But there’s an older Mahatma letter which puts things differently, but from which I draw the same inspiration. A few fragments from the Chohan letter:

That is why Col. H. S. Olcott, who works to revive Buddhism, may be regarded as one who labours in the true path of Theosophy, far more than any man who chooses as his goal the gratification of his own ardent aspirations for occult knowledge. Buddhism, stripped of its superstition, is eternal truth; and he who strives for the latter is striving for eternal truth; and he who strives for the latter is striving for Theo-Sophia, divine wisdom, which is a synonym of truth. …

Between degrading superstition and still more degrading brutal materialism, the White Dove of Truth has hardly room whereon to rest her weary unwelcome feet. …

The white race must be the first to stretch out the hand of fellowship to the dark nations, to call the poor despised “nigger” brother. This prospect may not smile for all, but he is no Theosophist who objects to this principle. …

Teach the people to see that life on this earth, even the happiest, is but a burden and an illusion; that it is our own Karma [the cause producing the effect] that is our own judge–our Saviour in future lives–and the great struggle for life will soon lose its intensity. …

perish rather the Theosophical Society with both its hapless Founders, than that we should permit it to become no better than an academy of magic, and a hall of occultism! That we, the devoted followers of that spirit incarnate of absolute self-sacrifice, of philanthropy, divine kindness, as of all the highest virtues attainable on this earth of sorrow, the man of men, Gautama Buddha, should ever allow the Theosophical Society to represent the embodiment of selfishness, the refuge of the few with no thought in them for the many, is a strange idea, my brothers! …

And it is we, the humble disciples of these perfect Lamas, who are expected to allow the Theosophical Society to drop its noblest title, that of the Brotherhood of Humanity, to become a simple school of philosophy!

We live in a very different age. Popularizing a knowledge of theosophy – in the sense of this letter – is already done by many. Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama among them. After all, what can be popularized is ethics, karma and rebirth and so forth. The Dalai Lama is even working on that white dove of truth thing: finding a bridge between science and Buddhism.

But I want to notice something else about this letter. The Chohan is not concerned with the Theosophical Society. He is concerned with humanity as a whole.

Now – in this climate, where spiritual inspiration is legion, the TS has to find it’s footing again. It needs to find out what it’s best at. It needs to find out what niche it fulfills in the spiritual landscape of our time, and focus on that. In short: what do we offer humanity?

Although publishing books has stood us in good stead, even locally in the Netherlands the TS is hardly needed to publish books. Amit Goswami, who in the US is published by Quest Publications, is brought out in Dutch by a commercial new age publisher. No TS publishing house needed.

So what is it that we do better than others? Is it merely about studying the theosophical books brought down to us? What does the Chohan say? And it is we, the humble disciples of these perfect Lamas, who are expected to allow the Theosophical Society to drop its noblest title, that of the Brotherhood of Humanity, to become a simple school of philosophy! (stress mine)

Well, perhaps that’s what we have become. After all – the TOS is still a somewhat controversial organization within the TS Adyar scene. Never mind that Olcott, who had the Mahatmas full support, started that work (though it was put into a separate organization by Besant).  Never mind that the Mahatmas did NOT want a simple school of philosophy.

Personally I’m  starting to think I’ve outgrown the TS. Is there even room for me? My offer to work at the Indian headquarters in Varanasi for a year or two was not responded to by Radha Burnier, so I’m going instead to Dharamsala and perhaps Rishikesh. I’ve outgrown the TS because it’s just too insular. It hardly does anything significant about that white bird of truth that sits between materialism and superstition. It doesn’t do anything to calm ‘new age’ down a bit and curb it’s excesses. It doesn’t do anything much to even popularize a decent understanding of karma and reincarnation.

For now I’m not leaving the TS Adyar. I am however backing down a bit. No more international conferences for me. No more trying to fit in. No more working my ass of on stuff that isn’t my primary talents. I’m going to have fun spreading spiritual insight online – and learning Buddhism and Yoga. And for me – just because I’ll be having fun, doesn’t mean I’m selfish.

I’m done fighting and this may well be my last post here (don’t unsubscribe just yet though). I am of course still quite ready to work with anyone who wants to work with me – but only those who want the full outspoken package should expect me to stick to it.

[edit] A lot of people have misread the above. I was not turned down to work at the Adyar estate. I volunteered to work at the much less well known headquarters of the Indian TS in Varanasi (aka Benares). I did not receive a reply about that.

Thank you everybody who has reached out to tell me personally they appreciate my work. I fully understand you all not feeling safe to express that here. [/edit]

7 thoughts on “What’s the theosophical work?”

  1. Amen!
    “It hardly does anything significant about that white bird of truth that sits between materialism and superstition.”
    “It doesn’t do anything to calm ‘new age’ down a bit and curb it’s excesses. ”
    “It doesn’t do anything much to even popularize a decent understanding of karma and reincarnation.”

    I love it. Thank you. Keep up the good work. And have fun.

  2. Thank you for your sincere and insightful post. I would add that the original goals of the theosophical movement – which were well reminded here in the quote of the Chohan’s letter – are in fact more complex…
    You may like to take a look at the text “Differnt Layers of Aspiration”, at


  3. Thanks Katinka,

    I appreciate your testimony. You touch in some very important points about the deadlock in Adyar.

    Some of those points are also raised in a recent article entitled “The Future of Adyar Society – The Self-Destructive Crisis of 2007-2010 Might Open Room for a True Renewal”, that has just been published at http://www.esoteric-philosophy.com .

    All theosophists deserve to know the nature of Adyar crisis and also the opportunities ahead, when choosing the path of truth instead of political games.

    Best regards,
    Joaquim Soares

    1. I disagree with so many points in that article, that it’s hardly worth my while to go into it. I think much of it is probably obvious from what I’ve previously written on this site.

      I don’t think John Algeo made a mistake publishing those controversial ‘Blavatsky’ letters. The mistake was in not having a disclaimer type note at the introduction to each. BTW – loads of people within the Adyar TS – rumor has it even Radha Burnier herself – would agree on his making a mistake publishing those letters. Historians however will obviously applaud these letters – including the controversial ones – being easily available.

      Anyhow, for future reference, you meant this article specifically.

      It IS interesting that Radha Burnier is the 7th president. Does that mean that by refusing to step down she postponed necessary change?

Comments are closed.