Return to Homepage

The Writings of Annie Besant

Annie Besant

1847 - 1933


Theosophy and the Theosophical Society


From a series of Lectures delivered in London 1907


Return to Homepage



I want to put before you clearly and plainly what Theosophy means, and what is the function of the Theosophical Society. For we notice very often, especially with regard to the Society, that there is a good deal of misconception touching it, and that people do not realise the object with which it exists, the work that it is intended to perform. It is very often looked upon as the expression of some new religion, as though people in becoming Theosophists must leave the religious community to which he or she may happen to belong. And so a profound misconception arises, and many people imagine that in some way or other it is hostile to the religion which they profess.


Now Theosophy, looked at historically or practically, belongs to all the religions of the world, and every religion has an equal claim to it, has an equal right to say that Theosophy exists within it. For Theosophy, as the name implies, the Divine Wisdom, the Wisdom of God, clearly cannot be appropriated by any body of people, by any Society, not even by the greatest of the religions of the world.    It is a common property, as free to everyone as the sunlight and the air. No one can claim it as his, save by virtue of his common humanity; no one can deny it to his brother, save at the peril of destroying his own claim thereto. Now the meaning of this word, both historically and practically, the Wisdom, the Divine Wisdom, is a very definite and clear meaning; it asserts the possibility of the knowledge of God. That is the point that the student ought to grasp; this knowledge of God, not the belief in Him, not the faith in Him, not only vague idea concerning Him, but the knowledge of Him, is possible to man. That is the affirmation of Theosophy, that is its root-meaning and its essence.And we find, looking back historically, that this has been asserted in the various great religions of the world. They all claim that man can know, not only that man can believe.


Only in some of the more modern faiths, in their own modern days, the knowledge has slipped into the background, and the belief, the faith, looms very-large in the mind of the believer. Go back as far as you will in the history of the past, and you will find the most ancient of religions affirming this possibility of knowledge. In India, for instance, with its antique civilisation, you find that the very central idea of Hinduism is this supreme knowledge, the knowledge of God. As I pointed out to you the other day with regard to this old Eastern religion, all knowledge is regarded in a higher or a lower degree as the knowledge of God; for there is no division, as you know, in that ancient faith, between the secular and the sacred. That division is a modern division, and was unknown in theancient world. But they did make a division in knowledge between the higher and the lower; and the lower knowledge, or the lower science, called the " lower

divine science," was that which you will call "science" nowadays, the study of the external world. But it also included all that here we speak of as Literature, as Art, as Craft—everything, in fact, which the human brain can study and the human fingers can accomplish—the whole of that, in one grand generalisation, was called " Divine Wisdom," but it was the lower divine Wisdom, the inferior knowledge of God. Then, beside, or rather above that, came the Supreme Knowledge, the higher, the superior, that beyond which there was no knowledge, which was the crown of all. Now, that supreme knowledge is declared to be " the knowledge of Him by Whom all things are known "—a phrase indicating the Supreme Deity. It was that which was called the supreme knowledge, or, par excellence, the Divine Knowledge, and that old Hindu thought is exactly the same as you have indicated by the name Theosophy.


So, again, classical students may remember that among the Greeks and the early Christians there was what was called the Gnosis, the knowledge, the definite article pointing to that which, above all else, was to be regarded as knowledge or wisdom. And when you find among the Neo-Platonists this word Gnosis used, it always means, and is defined to mean, " the knowledge of God," and the "Gnostic" is "a man who knows God." So, again, among the early Christians. Take such a man as Origen. He uses the same word in exactly the same sense; for when Origen is declaring that the Church hasmedicine for the sinner, and that  Christ  is the  Good Physician  who heals the diseases of men, he goes on to  say that the  Church has  also  the Gnosis for  the wise,  and that you  cannot  build the Church   out  of sinners; you must build it out of Gnostics.   


These are the men who know, who have the power to help and to teach; and there can be no medicine for the diseased, no upholder of the weak, unless, within the limits of the religion, the  Gnostic is to  be found. And so Origen lays immense stress on the Gnostic, and devotes page after page to a description of him: what he is, what he thinks, what he does; and to the mind of that great Christian teacher, the Gnostic was the strength of the Church, the pillar, the buttress of the faith.    And so, coming down through the centuries, since the Christian time, you will find the word Gnostic  used every now and again, but more often the term " Theosophist" and " Theosophy " ; for this term came into use in the later school, the Neo-Platonists, and became the commonly accepted word for those who claimed this possibility of knowledge, or even claimed to know.    And a phrase regarding this is to be found in the mystic  Fourth Gospel, that  of  S. John, where into the mouth of the Christ the words are put, that the " knowledge of God is eternal life "— not the faith, nor the thought, but the knowledge—again declaring the possibility of this "Gnosis.    And the same idea is found along the line of the Hermetic Science, or Hermetic Philosophy, partly derived from Greece and partly from Egypt.   


The Hermetic philosopher also claimed to know, and claimed that in man was this divine faculty of knowledge, above the reason, higher than the intellect.  And whenever, among the thoughtful and the learned, you find reference made to " faith," as where, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it is said to be " the evidence of things not seen," the same idea comes out, and Faith, the real Faith, is only this intense conviction which grows out of the inner spiritual being of man, the Self, the Spirit, which justifies to the intellect, to the senses, that there is God, that God truly exists.


And this is so strongly felt in the East that no one there wants to argue about the existence of God; it is declared that that existence cannot be proved by argument. " Not by argument," it is written, " not by reasoning, not by thinking, can the Supreme Self be known." The only proof of Him is "the conviction in the Spirit, in the Self." And thus Theosophy, then, historically, as you see, always makes the affirmation that man can know; and after that supreme affirmation that God may be known, then there comes the secondary affirmation, implied really in that, and in the fact of man's identity of nature with the Supreme, that all things in the universe can be known— things visible and invisible, subtle and gross. That is, so to speak, a secondary affirmation, drawn out of the first; for clearly if in man resides the faculty to know God as God, then every manifestation of God may be known by the faculty which recognises the identity of the human Spirit with the Supreme Spirit that permeates the universe at large. So in dictionaries and in encyclopedias you will sometimes find Theosophy defined as the idea that God, and angels, and spirits, may hold direct communication with men; or sometimes, in the reverse  form, that  men   can hold communication with spirits, and angels, and even with God Himself; and although that definition be not the best that can be given, it has its own truth, for that is the result of the knowledge of God, the inevitable outcome of it, the manifestation of it. The man who knows God, and knows all things in Him, is evidently able to communicate with any form of living being, to come into relation with anything in the universe of which the One Life is God.


In modern days, and among scientific people, the affirmation which is the reverse of this became at one time popular, widely accepted — not Gnostic but " Agnostic," " without the Gnosis " ; that was the position taken up by Huxley and by many men of his own time of the same school of thought. He chose the name because of its precise signification; he was far too scientific a man to crudely deny, far too scientific to be willing to speak positively of that of which he knew nothing; and so, instead of taking up the position that there is nothing beyond man, and man's reason, and man's senses, he took up the position that man was without possibility of knowledge of what there might be, that his only means of knowledge were the senses for the material universe, the reason for the world of thought.


Man, by his reason, could conquer everything in the realm of thought, might become1" mighty in intellect, and hold as his own domain everything that the intellect could grasp at its highest point of growth, its highest possibility of attainment. That splendid avenue of progress Huxley, and men like Huxley, placed before humanity as the road along which it might hope to walk, full of the certainty of ultimate achievement. But outside that, beyond the reason in the world of thought and the senses in the material world, Huxley, and those who thought like him, declared that man was unable to pierce—hence " Agnostic," " without the Gnosis," without the possibility of plunging deeply into the ocean of Being, for there the intellect had no plummet. Such, according to science at one* time, was man; and whatever man might hope for, whatever man might strive for, on, as it were, the portal of the spiritual universe was written the legend " without knowledge."


Thither man might not hope to penetrate, thither man's faculties might never hope to soar; for when you have defined man as a reasoning being, you have given the highest definition that science was able to accept, and across the spiritual nature was written : " imagination, dream, and phantasy."


And yet there is much in ordinary human history which shows that man is something more than intellect, as clearly as it shows that the intellect is greater than the senses; for every statesman knows that he has to reckon with what is sometimes called "the religious instinct" in man, and that however coldly philosophers may reason, however sternly science may speak, there is in man some upwelling power which refuses to take the agnosticism of the intellect, as it refuses to accept the positivism of the senses ;*and with that every ruler of men has to deal, with that every statesman has to reckon. There is something* in man which from time to time wells up with irresistible power, sweeping away every limit which intellect or senses may strive to put in its path—the religious instinct.   


And even to takethat term, that name, even that is to join on this part of man's nature to a part of nature universal, which bears testimony in every time, and in every place, that to every instinct in the living creature there is some answer in the nature outside itself. There is no instinct known in plant, in animal, in man,

to which nature does not answer; nature, which has woven the demand into the texture of the living creature, has always the supply ready to meet the demand; and strange indeed it would be, well-nigh incredible, if the profoundest instinct of all in nature's highest product on the physical plane, if that ineradicable instinct, that seeking after God and that thirst for the Supreme, were the one and only instinct in nature for which there is no answer in the depths and the heights around us. And it is not so.


That argument is strengthened and buttressed by an appeal to experience; for you cannot, in dealing with human experience and the testimony of the human consciousness, leave entirely out of court, silenced, as though it were not relevant, the continual testimony of all religions to the existence of the spiritual nature in man. The spiritual consciousness proves itself quite as definitely as the intellectual or the sensuous consciousness proves itself—by the experience of the individual, alike in every religion as in every century in which humanity has lived, has thought, has suffered, has rejoiced". The religious, the spiritual nature, is that which is the strongest in man, not the weakest; that which breaks down the barriers of the intellect, and crushes into silence the imperious demands of the senses; which changes the whole life as by a miracle, and turns the face of the man in a direction contrary to that in which he has been going all his life. Whether you take the facts of conversion, or whether you take the testimony of the saint, the prophet, the seer, they all speak with that voice of authority to which humanity instinctively bows down; and it was the mark of the spiritual man when it was said of Jesus, the Prophet: " He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." For where the spiritual man speaks, his appeal is made to the highest and the deepest part in every hearer that he addresses, and the answer that comes is an answer that brooks no denial and permits no questioning. It shows its own imperial nature, the highest and the dominant nature in the man, and where the Spirit once has spoken the intellect becomes obedient, and the senses begin to serve.


Now Theosophy, in declaring that this nature of man can know God, bases that statement on identity of nature. We can know—it is our continual experience— we can know that which we share, and nothing else. Only when you have appropriated for yourself something from the outside world can you know the similar things in the outside world. You can see because your eye has within it the ether of which the waves are light; you can hear because your ear has in it the ether and the air whose vibrations are sound; and so with everything else. Myriads of things exist outside you, and you are unconscious of them, because you have not yet appropriated to your own service that which is like unto them in outer nature.


And you can know God for exactly the same reason that you can know by sight or hearing—because you are part of God; you can know Him because you share His nature. " We are partakers of the Divine Nature," says the Christian teacher "Thou art That," declares the Hindu. The Sufi cries out that by love man and God are one, and know each other. And all the religions of the world in varied phrase announce the same splendid truth of man's Divinity.


It is on that that Theosophy founds its affirmation that the knowledge of God is possible to man; that the foundation, then, of Theosophy, that the essence of its message.And the value of it at the time when it was re-proclaimed to the world was that it was an affirmation in the face of a denial. Where Science began to cry " agnosticism," Theosophy came to cry out " gnosticism." At the very same time the two schools were born into the modern world, and the re-proclamation of Theosophy, the supreme knowledge, was the answer from the invisible worlds to the nescience of Science. It came at the right time, it came in the right form, as in a few moments we shall see; but the most important thing of all is that it came at the very moment when Science thought itself triumphant in its nescience.


This re-proclamation, then, of the most ancient of all truths, was the message of Theosophy to the modern world. And see how the world has changed since that was proclaimed ! It is hardly necessary now to make that affirmation, so universal has become the acceptance of it. It is almost difficult to look back to the year 1875, and realise how men were thinking and feeling then. I can remember it, because I was in it. The elder amongst you can remember it, for the same reason.   


But for theyounger of you, who have begun to think and feel in the later times, when this thought was becoming common, you can scarcely realise the change in the intellectual atmosphere which has come about during these last two and-thirty years. Hardly worth while is it to proclaim it now, it is so commonplace. If now you say: " Man can know God," the answer is: " Of course he can." Thirty-two years ago it was: " Indeed he cannot." And that is to be seen everywhere, all

over the world, and not only among those people who were clinging blindly to a blind faith, desperately sticking to it as the only raft which remained for them to save them from being submerged in materialism. It is recognised now on all hands; literature is full of it; and it is not without significance that some months ago The Hibbert Journal —which has in it so much of the advanced thought of the day, for which bishops and archbishops and learned clerics write—it is not without significance that that journal drew its readers' attention to " the value of the God-idea in Hinduism." And the only value of it was this, for man : that man is God, and therefore can know God; and the writer pointed out that that was the only foundation on which, in modern days, an edifice that could not be shaken could be reared up for the Spirit in man.


That is the religion of the future, the religion of the Divine Self; that the common religion, the universal religion, of which all the religions that are living in the world will be recognised as branches, as* sects of one mighty religion, universal and supreme.


For just as now in Christianity you have many a sect and many a church, just as in Hinduism we find many sects and many schools, and as in every other great religion of the world at the present time there are divisions between the believers in the same religion, so shall it be—very likely by the end of this century—with all the religions of the world; there will be only one religion—the knowledge of God—and all religions sects under that one mighty and universal name.


And then, naturally, out of this knowledge there must spring a large number of other knowledges subservient to it, that which you hear so much about in Theosophical literature, of other worlds, the worlds beyond the physical, worlds that are still material, although the matter be of a finer, subtler kind; all that you read about the astral, and mental, and buddhic planes, and so on—all these lower knowledges find their places naturally, as growing out of the one supreme knowledge. And at once you will ask: " Why ?" If you are really divine, if your Self is the same Self of which the worlds are a partial expression, then it is not difficult to see that that Self in you, as it unfolds its divine powers, and shapes the matter which it appropriates in order to come in contact with all the different parts of the universe, that that Self, creating for itself bodies, will be able to know every material thing in the universe, just as you know the things of the physical plane through the physical body. For it is all on the same lines: that which enables you to know is not only body—that is the« medium between you and the physical world—but the Knower in you is that which enables you to know, the power of perception which is of consciousness, and not of body.


When consciousness vanishes, all the organs of consciousness are there, as perfect as ever, but the Knower has left them, and know-ledge disappears with him; and so, whether it be in a swoon, in a fainting fit, in sleep, or in death, the perfect instrument of the physical body becomes useless when the hand of the master workman drops it. The body is only his tool, whereby he contacts the things in a universe which is not himself; and the moment he leaves it, it is a mere heap of matter, doomed to decay, to destruction. But just as he has that body for knowledge here, so he has other bodies for knowledge everywhere, and in every world he can know, he who is the Knower, and every world is made up of objects of knowledge, which he can perceive, examine, and understand.


And the world into which you shall pass when you go through the portal of death, that is around you at every moment of your life here, and you only do not know it because your instrument of knowledge there is not yet perfected, and ready there to your hand; and the heavenly world into which you will pass out of the intermediate world next to this, that is around you now, and you only do not know it because your instrument of knowledge there has not yet been fashioned.


And so with worlds yet higher, knowledge of them is possible, because the Knower is yourself and is God, and you can create your instruments of knowledge according to your wisdom and your will.


Hence Theosophy includes the whole of this vast scheme or field of knowledge; and the whole of it is yours, yours to possess at your will. Hence Theosophy should be to you a proclamation of your own Divinity, with everything that flows therefrom; and all the knowledge that may be gathered, all the investigations that may be made, they are all part-t of this great scheme. And the reason why all the religions of the world teach the same, when you come to disentangle the essence of their teaching from the shape in which they put it, the reason that they all teach the same is that they are all giving you fragments of knowledge of the other worlds, and these worlds are all more real than the world in which you are; and they all teach the same fundamental truths, the same fundamental moral principles, the same religious doctrines, and use the same methods in order that men may come into touch with the other worlds. The sacraments do not belong to Christianity alone, as sometimes Christians think; every religion has its sacraments, some more numerous than others, but all have some. For what is a sacrament? It is the earthly, the physical representative of a real correspondence in nature; as the catechism of the Church of England phrases it: " An outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace." It is a true definition.


A sacrament is made up of the outer and inner, and you cannot do without either. The outer thing is correlated to the inner, and is a real means of coming into touch with the higher, and is not only a symbol, as some imagine.


The great churches and religions of the past always cling to that reality of the sacrament, and they do well. It is only in very modern times, and among a comparatively small number of Christian people, that the sacrament has become only a symbol, 'instead of a channel of living and divine power. And much is lost to the man who loses out of his religion the essential idea of the sacrament; for it is the link between the spiritual and the physical, the channel whereby the spiritual pours down into the physical vehicle.


Hence the value that all religions put upon sacraments, and their recognition of their reality, and their priceless service to mankind. And so with many other things in ceremonies and rites, common to all the different faiths—the use of musical sounds, a use which tunes the bodies so that the spiritual power may be able to manifest through them and by them. For just as in your orchestra you must tune the instruments to a single note, so must you tune your various bodies in order that harmoniously they may allow the spiritual force to come through from the higher to the lower plane. It is a real tuning, a real making of harmonious vibrations; and the difference between the vibrations that are harmonious and the vibrations that are discordant, from this point of view, is this : when all the bodies vibrate together, all the particles and their spaces correspond, so that you get solid particles, then spaces, and then solid particles, and spaces again, corresponding through all the bodies; whereas in the normal condition the bodies do not match in that way, and the spaces of one come against the solid parts of the other, and so you get a block.


When sounds are used, the mystical sounds called mantras in Hinduism, the effect of those is to change the bodies from this condition to that, and so the forces from without can come into the man, and the forces in him may flow out to others. That is the value of it. You are able to produce mechanically a result

which otherwise has to be produced by a tremendous exertion of the will; and the man of knowledge never uses more force than is necessary in order to bring about what he desires, and the Occultist —who is the wise man on many planes—he uses the easiest way always to gain his object. Hence the use of music, or mantras, in every faith. Pythagoras used music in order to prepare his disciples to receive his teachings.


The Greek and the Roman Catholic Churches use special forms of music to produce a definite effect upon the worshippers who hear them. All of you must be aware that there are some kinds of music which have the remarkable effect upon you, of lifting you higher than you can rise by your own unassisted effort.


Even the songs of illiterate Christian bodies do have some effect upon them, in raising them to a higher level, although they possess little of the true quality of the mantra. In Theosophy you find all these things dealt with scientifically—a mass of knowledge, but all growing out of the original statement that man can know God.


Now it is clear that in all that, there is nothing which a man of any faith cannot accept, cannot study. I do not mean that he will accept everything that a Theo-sophist would say; but I mean that the knowledge is knowledge of a kind which he will be wise to study, and to appropriate so far as it recommends itself to his reason and his intuition. And that is all the man need do—study. All this knowledge is spread out for you freely: you can take it, if you will.


The Theosophical Society, which spreads it broadcast everywhere, claims in it no property, no proprietary rights, but gives it out freely everywhere. The books in which much of it is written are as free to the non-Theosophist as to the Theo-sophist.   The results of Theosophical investigation are published freely that all who choose may read. Everything is done that can be done by the Society to make the whole thing common property ; and nothing gives the true Theo-sophist more delight than when he sees the Theosophical teachings coming out in some other garb which gives them a different name, but hands them on to those who might be frightened perhaps by the name " Theosophy." And so, when we find a clergyman scattering broadcast to his congregation Theosophical teaching as Christian, we say: " See, our work is bearing fruit"; and when we find the man who does not label himself " Theosophist" giving any of these truths to the world, we rejoice, because we see that our work is being done.


We have no desire to take the credit of it, nor to claim it as ours at all; it belongs to every man who is able to see it, quite as much as it does to anyone who may call himself " Theosophist." For the possession of truth comes of right to the man who can see the truth, and there is no partiality in the world of intellect or of Spirit. The only test for a man's fitness to receive is the ability to perceive; and the only claim he has to see by the light is the power of seeing.


And that, perhaps, may explain to you what some think strange in our Society—we have no dogmas. We do not shut out any man because he does not believe Theosophical teachings. A man may deny every one of them, save that of human brotherhood, and claim his place and his right within our ranks.


But his place and his right within our ranks are founded on the very truths that he denies; for if man could not know God, if there were no identity of nature in every man with God, then there would be no foundation for our reception of him, nor any reason for welcoming him as a brother. Because there is only one life, and one nature, therefore the man who denies is God, as is he who affirms. Therefore each has a right to come; only the one who affirms knows why he welcomes his brother, and the one who denies is ignorant, and knows not why he has a right within our ranks. But those of us who try to be Theosophists in reality, as well as in name, we understand why it is that we make him welcome, and it is based on this sane idea, that a man can see the truth best by studying it, and not by repeating formula that he does not understand. What is the use of putting a dogma before a man and saying: " You must repeat that before you can come into my Church " ?


If the man repeats it not understanding it, he is outside, no matter how much you bring him in ; and if he sees it, there is no need to make that as a portal to your fellowship. And we believe, we of the Theosophical Society, that just because the intellect can only do its best work in its own atmosphere of freedom, truth has the best chance of being seen when you do not make any conditions as to the right of investigation, as to the claim to seek. To us, truth is so supreme a thing that we do not desire to bind any man with conditions as to how, or where, or why, he shall seek it. These things, we say, we know are true; and because we know they are true, come amongst us, even though you do not believe them, and find out for yourself whether they be true or not. And the man is better worth having when he comes in an unbeliever, and wins to the knowledge of the truth, than is the facile believer who acknowledges everything and never gets a real grip upon truth at all.


We believe that truth is only found by seeking, and that the true bond is the love of truth, and the effort to find it; that that is a far more real bond than the repetition of a common creed. For the creed can be repeated by the lips, but the seeing of truth as true can only come from the intellect and the spirit, and to build on the intellect and the spirit is a firmer foundation than to build on the breath of the lips. Hence our Society has no dogmas. Not that it does not stand for any truths, as some people imagine. Its name marks out the truth for which it stands: it is the Theosophical Society ; and that shows its function and its place in the world—a Society that asserts the possibility of the knowledge of God; that is its proclamation, as we have seen, and all the other truths that grow out of that are amongst our teachings. The Society exists to spread the knowledge of those truths, and to popularise those teachings amongst mankind. " But," you may say, " if it be the fact that you throw out broadcast all your teachings, that you write them in books that every man can buy, what is, then, the good of being a member of the Theosophical Society ?


We should not have any more as members than we have as non-members." That is not quite true, but it may stand as true for the moment. Why should you come in ? For no reason at all, unless to you it is the greatest privilege to come in, and you desire to be among those who are the pioneers of the thought of the coming days. No reason at all: it is a privilege. We do not beg you to come in; we only say: " Come if you like to  come, and share the glorious privilege that we possess; but if you would rather not, stay outside, and we will give you everything which we believe will be serviceable and useful to you."


The feeling that brings people into our Society is the feeling that makes the soldier spring forward to be amongst the pioneers when the army is going forth. There are some people so built that they like to go in front and face difficulties, so that other people may have an easier time, and walk along a path that has already been hewn out for them by hands stronger than their own.


That is the only reason why you should come in : no other. Do not come to " get" ; you will be disappointed if you do. You can " get" it outside. Come in to give, to work, to be enrolled amongst the servants of humanity who are working for the dawn of the day of a nobler knowledge, for the coming of the recognition of a spiritual brotherhood amongst men. Come in if you have the spirit of the pioneer within you, the spirit of the volunteer; if to you it is a delight to cut the way through the jungle that others may follow, to tread the path with bruised feet in order that others may have a smooth road to lead them to the heights of knowledge.


That is the only advantage of coming in : to know in your own heart that you realise what is coming, and are helping to make it come more quickly for the benefit of your fellow-men; that you are working for" humanity; that you are co-workers with God, in making the knowledge of Him spread abroad on every side; that you are amongst those to whom future centuries will look back, thanking you that you saw the light when all men thought it was dark, and that you recognised the coming dawn when others believed the earth was sunk in midnight. I know of no inspiration more inspiring, of no ideal that lifts men to greater heights, of no hope that is so full of splendor, no thought that is so full of energy, as the inspiration, and the ideal, and the hope, and the thought, that you are working for the future, for the day that has not yet come. There will be so many in the days to come who will see the truth, so many in the unborn generations who will live from the hour of their birth in the light of the Divine Wisdom. And what is it not to know that one is bringing that nearer ? to feel that this great treasure is placed in your hands for the enriching of humanity, and that the bankruptcy of humanity is over and the wealth is being spread broadcast on every side ?


What a privilege to know that those generations in the future, rejoicing in the light, will feel some touch of thanks and gratitude to those who brought it when the days were dark, to those whose faith in the Self was so strong that they could believe when all other things were against it, to those whose surety of the

divine knowledge was so mighty that they could proclaim its possibility to an agnostic world. That is the only reason why you should come into the vanguard, that the only reason why you should join the ranks of the pioneers. Hard work and little reward, hard words and little praise, but the knowledge that you work for the future, and that with the co-operation of Deity the final result is sure.


History of the Theosophical Society

Life of Annie Besant


Return to Homepage






For more info on Theosophy

Try these




Cardiff Theosophical Society meetings are informal

and there’s always a cup of tea afterwards




The Cardiff Theosophical Society Website




The National Wales Theosophy Wesbsite


Dave’s Streetwise Theosophy Boards

The Theosophy Website that

Welcomes Absolute Beginners

If you run a Theosophy Group then please

Feel free to use any material on this Website


Theosophy Cardiff’s Instant Guide to Theosophy


Cardiff Theosophical Archive


Cardiff Blavatsky Archive

A Theosophy Study Resource


Cardiff Theosophy Start-Up

A Free Intro to Theosophy


Blavatsky Blogger

Independent Theosophy Blog


Quick Blasts of Theosophy

One Liners & Quick Explanations




Visit the Feelgood Lodge

The main criteria for the inclusion of

links on this site is that they are have some

relationship (however tenuous) to Theosophy

and are lightweight, amusing or entertaining.

Topics include Quantum Theory and Socks,

Dick Dastardly and Legendary Blues Singers.




No Aardvarks were harmed in the

preparation of this Website


Great Theosophists

The Big Names of Theosophy


History of the Theosophical Society


History of Theosophy in Wales


Theosophy and the Great War


Pages About Wales

General pages about Wales, Welsh History

and The History of Theosophy in Wales


H P Blavatsky and The Masters

Her Teachers Morya & Koot Hoomi


The Blavatsky Blogger’s

Instant Guide To

Death & The Afterlife


The Most Basic Theosophy Website in the Universe

If you run a Theosophy Group you can use

this as an introductory handout



The New Rock ‘n Roll


The Voice of the Silence


The Key to Theosophy


The South of Heaven Guide

To Theosophy and Devachan


The South of Heaven Guide

To Theosophy and Dreams


The South of Heaven Guide

To Theosophy and Angels


Theosophy and Help From

The Universe


Death & How to Get Through It

Lentil burgers, a thousand press ups before breakfast and

the daily 25 mile run may put it off for a while but death

seems to get most of us in the end. We are pleased to

present for your consideration, a definitive work on the

subject by a Student of Katherine Tingley entitled

“Man After Death”


Wales! Wales! Theosophy Wales

The All Wales Guide to

Getting Started in Theosophy


Theosophy and the Number Seven

A selection of articles relating to the esoteric

significance of the Number 7 in Theosophy


The Tooting Broadway

Underground Theosophy Website

The Spiritual Home of Urban Theosophy


The Mornington Crescent

Underground Theosophy Website

The Earth Base for Evolutionary Theosophy


Classic Introductory Theosophy Text

A Text Book of Theosophy By C W Leadbeater


What Theosophy Is  From the Absolute to Man


The Formation of a Solar System  The Evolution of Life


The Constitution of Man  After Death  Reincarnation


The Purpose of Life  The Planetary Chains


The Result of Theosophical Study



Elementary Theosophy

An Outstanding Introduction to Theosophy

By a student of Katherine Tingley


Elementary Theosophy  Who is the Man?  Body and Soul   


Body, Soul and Spirit  Reincarnation  Karma


The Seven in Man and Nature


The Meaning of Death






Helena Petrovna Blavatsky 1831 – 1891

The Founder of Modern Theosophy


Index of Articles by


H P Blavatsky







A Land of Mystery



A Case Of Obsession









The Mind in Nature






Fakirs and Tables



Is the Desire to Live Selfish?



A Paradoxical World



An Astral Prophet



Ancient Magic in Modern Science



Roots of Ritualism in

Church and Masonry



A Year of Theosophy



Can The Mahatmas

Be Selfish?



Chelas and Lay Chelas



Nightmare Tales



“My Books”



Dialogue On The Mysteries

Of The After Life



Do The Rishis Exist?



"Esoteric Buddhism"

And The

"Secret Doctrine"



Have Animals Souls



The Kabalah and the Kabalists



Babel Of Modern Thought



Thoughts on the Elementals



Karmic Visions



What Is Truth?




The Death of Art and Beauty



Gems from the East

A Birthday Book of Axions and

Precepts Compiled by H P Blavatsky



Obras Por H P Blavatsky

En Espanol



¿Es la Teosofía una Religión?



La Clave de la Teosofía



Articles about the Life of H P Blavatsky



Biography of H P Blavatsky



H P Blavatsky

the Light-Bringer


Geoffrey A Barborka

The Blavatsky Lecture of 1970



The Life of H P Blavatsky

Edited by A P Sinnett






Try these if you are looking for a

local Theosophy Group or Centre


UK Listing of Theosophical Groups


Worldwide Directory of Theosophical Links


International Directory of 

Theosophical Societies




Pages about Wales

General pages about Wales, Welsh History

and The History of Theosophy in Wales



Wales is a Principality within the United Kingdom

and has an eastern border with England.

The land area is just over 8,000 square miles.

Snowdon in North Wales is the highest mountain at 3,650 feet.

The coastline is almost 750 miles long.

The population of Wales as at the 2001 census is 2,946,200.




Key Concepts of Theosophy





1) Infinitude


Nature is infinite in space and time -- boundless and eternal, unfathomable and ineffable. The all-pervading essence of infinite nature can be called space, consciousness, life, substance, force, energy, divinity -- all of which are fundamentally one.



2) The finite and the infinite


Nature is a unity in diversity, one in essence, manifold in form. The infinite whole is composed of an infinite number of finite wholes -- the relatively stable and autonomous things (natural systems or artefacts) that we observe around us. Every natural system is not only a conscious, living, substantial entity, but is consciousness-life-substance, of a particular range of density and form. Infinite nature is an abstraction, not an entity; it therefore does not act or change and has no attributes. The finite, concrete systems of which it is composed, on the other hand, move and change, act and interact, and possess attributes. They are composite, inhomogeneous, and ultimately transient.



3) Vibration/worlds within worlds


The one essence manifests not only in infinitely varied forms, and on infinitely varied scales, but also in infinitely varying degrees of spirituality and substantiality, comprising an infinite spectrum of vibration or density. There is therefore an endless series of interpenetrating, interacting worlds within worlds, systems within systems.


The energy-substances of higher planes or subplanes (a plane being a particular range of vibration) are relatively more homogeneous and less differentiated than those of lower planes or subplanes.



4) Space and time


Just as boundless space is comprised of endless finite units of space, so eternal duration is comprised of endless finite units of time. Space is the infinite totality of worlds within worlds, but appears predominantly empty because only a tiny fraction of the energy-substances composing it are perceptible and tangible to an entity at any particular moment. Time is a concept we use to quantify the rate at which events occur; it is a function of

change and motion, and presupposes a succession of cause and effect. Every entity is extended in space and changes 'in time'.



5) Causation/karma


All change (of position, substance, or form) is the result of causes; there is no such thing as absolute chance. Nothing can happen for no reason at all for nothing exists in isolation; everything is part of an intricate web of causal interconnections and interactions. The keynote of nature is harmony: every action is automatically followed by an equal and opposite reaction, which sooner or later rebounds upon the originator of the initial act. Thus, all our thoughts and deeds will eventually bring us 'fortune' or 'misfortune' according to the degree to which they were harmonious or disharmonious. In the long term, perfect justice prevails in nature.



6) Analogy


Because nature is fundamentally one, and the same basic habits and structural, geometric, and evolutionary principles apply throughout, there are correspondences between microcosm and macrocosm. The principle of analogy -- as above, so below -- is a vital tool in our efforts to understand reality.



7) Relativity


All finite systems and their attributes are relative. For any entity, energy-substances vibrating within the same range of frequencies as its outer body are 'physical' matter, and finer grades of substance are what we call energy, force, thought, desire, mind, spirit, consciousness, but these are just as material to entities on the corresponding planes as our physical world is to us. Distance and time units are also relative: an atom is a solar system on its own scale, reembodying perhaps millions of times in what for us is one second, and our whole galaxy may be a molecule in some supercosmic entity, for which a million of our years is just a second. The range of scale is infinite: matter-consciousness is both infinitely divisible and infinitely aggregative.



8) Hierarchy


All natural systems consist of smaller systems and form part of larger systems. Hierarchies extend both 'horizontally' (on the same plane) and 'vertically' or inwardly (to higher and lower planes). On the horizontal level, subatomic particles form atoms, which combine into molecules, which arrange themselves into cells, which form tissues and organs, which form part of organisms, which form part of ecosystems, which form part of planets, solar systems, galaxies, etc. The constitution of worlds and of the organisms that inhabit them form 'vertical' hierarchies, and can be divided into several interpenetrating layers or elements, from physical-astral to psychomental to spiritual-divine, each of which can be further divided.


The human constitution can be divided up in several different ways: e.g. into a trinity of body, soul, and spirit; or into 7 'principles' -- a lower quaternary consisting of physical body, astral model-body, life-energy, and lower thoughts and desires, and an upper triad consisting of higher mind (reincarnating ego), spiritual intuition, and inner god. A planet or star can be regarded as a 'chain' of 12 globes, existing on 7 planes, each globe comprising several subplanes.


The highest part of every multilevelled organism or hierarchy is its spiritual summit or 'absolute', meaning a collective entity or 'deity' which is relatively perfected in relation to the hierarchy in question. But the most 'spiritual' pole of one hierarchy is the most 'material' pole of the next, superior hierarchy, just as the lowest pole of one hierarchy is the highest pole of the one below.



9) From within outwards


Each level of a hierarchical system exercises a formative and organizing influence on the lower levels (through the patterns and prototypes stored up from past cycles of activity), while the lower levels in turn react upon the higher. A system is therefore formed and organized mainly from within outwards, from the inner levels of its constitution, which are relatively more enduring and developed than the outer levels. This inner guidance is sometimes active and selfconscious, as in our acts of free will (constrained, however, by karmic tendencies from the past), and sometimes it is automatic and passive, giving rise to our own automatic bodily functions and habitual and instinctual behavior, and to the orderly, lawlike operations of nature in general. The 'laws' of nature are therefore the habits of the various grades of conscious entities that compose reality, ranging from higher intelligences  (collectively forming the universal mind) to elemental nature-forces.



10) Consciousness and its vehicles


The core of every entity -- whether atom, human, planet, or star -- is a monad, a unit of consciousness-life-substance, which acts through a series of more material vehicles or bodies. The monad or self in which the consciousness of a particular organism is focused is animated by higher monads and expresses itself through a series of lesser monads, each of which is the nucleus of one of the lower vehicles of the entity in question. The following monads can be distinguished: the divine or galactic monad, the spiritual or solar monad, the higher human or planetary-chain monad, the lower human or globe monad, and the animal, vital-astral, and physical monads. At our present stage of evolution, we are essentially the lower human monad, and our task is to raise our consciousness from the animal-human to the spiritual-human level of it.



11) Evolutionary unfoldment


Evolution means the unfolding, the bringing into active manifestation, of latent powers and faculties 'involved' in a previous cycle of evolution. It is the building of ever fitter vehicles for the expression of the mental and spiritual powers of the monad. The more sophisticated the lower vehicles of an entity, the greater their ability to express the powers locked up in the higher levels of its constitution. Thus all things are alive and conscious, but the degree of manifest life and consciousness is extremely varied.


Evolution results from the interplay of inner impulses and environmental stimuli. Ever building on and modifying the patterns of the past, nature is infinitely creative.



12) Cyclic evolution/re-embodiment


Cyclic evolution is a fundamental habit of nature. A period of evolutionary activity is followed by a period of rest. All natural systems evolve through re-embodiment. Entities are born from a seed or nucleus remaining from the previous evolutionary cycle of the monad, develop to maturity, grow old, and pass away, only to re-embody in a new form after a period of rest. Each new embodiment is the product of past karma and present choices.



13) Birth and Death


Nothing comes from nothing: matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, but only transformed. Everything evolves from preexisting material. The growth of the body of an organism is initiated on inner planes, and involves the transformation of higher energy-substances into lower, more material ones, together with the attraction of matter from the environment.


When an organism has exhausted the store of vital energy with which it is born, the coordinating force of the indwelling monad is withdrawn, and the organism 'dies', i.e. falls apart as a unit, and its constituent components go their separate ways. The lower vehicles decompose on their respective subplanes, while, in the case of humans, the reincarnating ego enters a dreamlike state of rest and assimilates the experiences of the previous incarnation. When the time comes for the next embodiment, the reincarnating ego clothes itself in many of the same atoms of different grades that it had used previously, bearing the appropriate karmic impress. The same basic processes of birth, death, and rebirth apply to all entities, from atoms to humans to stars.



14) Evolution and involution of worlds


Worlds or spheres, such as planets and stars, are composed of, and provide the field for the evolution of, 10 kingdoms -- 3 elemental kingdoms, mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms, and 3 spiritual kingdoms. The impulse for a new manifestation of a world issues from its spiritual summit or hierarch, from which emanate a series of steadily denser globes or planes; the One expands into the many. During the first half of the evolutionary cycle (the arc of descent) the energy-substances of each plane materialize or condense, while during the second half (the arc of ascent) the trend is towards dematerialization or etherealization, as globes and entities are reabsorbed into the spiritual hierarch for a period of nirvanic rest. The descending arc is characterized by the evolution of matter and involution of spirit, while the ascending arc is characterized by the evolution of spirit and involution of matter.



15) Evolution of the monad


In each grand cycle of evolution, comprising many planetary embodiments, a monad begins as an unselfconsciousness god-spark, embodies in every kingdom of nature for the purpose of gaining experience and unfolding its inherent faculties, and ends the cycle as a self conscious god. Elementals ('baby monads') have no free choice, but automatically act in harmony with one another and the rest of nature. In each successive kingdom differentiation and individuality increase, and reach their peak in the human kingdom with the attainment of selfconsciousness and a large measure of free will.


In the human kingdom in particular, self-directed evolution comes into its own. There is no superior power granting privileges or handing out favours; we evolve according to our karmic merits and demerits. As we progress through the spiritual kingdoms we become increasingly at one again with nature, and willingly 'sacrifice' our circumscribed selfconscious freedoms (especially the freedom to 'do our own thing') in order to work in peace and harmony with the greater whole of which we form an integral part. The highest gods of one hierarchy or world-system begin as elementals in the next. The matter of any plane is composed of aggregated, crystallized monads in their nirvanic sleep, and the spiritual and divine entities embodied as planets and stars are the electrons and atomic nuclei -- the material building blocks -- of worlds on even larger scales. Evolution is without beginning and without end, an endless adventure through the fields of infinitude, in which there are always new worlds of experience in which to become selfconscious masters of life.



16) Universal brotherhood


There is no absolute separateness in nature. All things are made of the same essence, have the same spiritual-divine potential, and are interlinked by magnetic ties of sympathy. It is impossible to realize our full potential, unless we recognize the spiritual unity of all living beings and make universal brotherhood the keynote of our lives.





Wales Theosophy Links Summary


All Wales Guide to Theosophy


Instant Guide to Theosophy


Theosophy Wales Hornet


Theosophy Wales Now


Cardiff Theosophical Archive


Elementary Theosophy


Basic Theosophy


Theosophy in Cardiff


Theosophy in Wales


Hey Look! Theosophy in Cardiff


Streetwise Theosophy


Grand Tour


Theosophy Aardvark


Theosophy Starts Here





Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales

Theosophy House

206 Newport Road

Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24 – 1DL




Wales Picture Gallery



Beaumaris Castle



Cardiff Castle



Conwy Castle



Flint Castle



Flint Castle North East Tower




Grosmont Castle




Beaumaris Castle




Llantilio Castle




Montgomery Castle




Rhuddlan Castle




Skenfrith Castle




Anglesey Abbey




Bangor Town Clock




Colwyn Bay Centre




The Great Orme




Llandudno Promenade




Great Orme Tramway




Caervarvon Castle




New Radnor




Blaenavon High Street




Blaenavon Ironworks





Llandrindod Wells




Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales

Theosophy House

206 Newport Road

Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24 – 1DL









Presteign Railway




Caerwent Roman Ruins




Colwyn Bay Postcard




Ferndale in the Rhondda Valley








National Museum of Wales












Cardiff Theosophical Society in Wales

Theosophy House

206 Newport Road

Cardiff, Wales, UK. CF24 – 1DL