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RE: Syllabus and study of Theosophy

Nov 14, 2004 05:30 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

Nov 14 2004

RE: Syllabus and study of Theosophy

Dear friends:

Here are some ideas that have been used is establishing a teaching
curriculum for lodge work and public lectures:

There is a small pamphlet (25 pages, $ 3.00) titled:


In it 40 or 50 subjects are outlined -- valuable for lecturers.

At or




"Theosophist is who Theosophy does." {an old adage}

"Theosophy is Divine Knowledge, or Science, "Divine Wisdom"
(Theo-Sophia) -- the term is many thousand years old." 

"Theosophy is synonymous with everlasting Truth."   

"We have no two beliefs or hypotheses on the same subject."   

"Theosophy is the substratum and basis of all the world-religions and
philosophies taught and practised by a few elect ever since man became a
thinking being." The THEOSOPHICAL GLOSSARY p. 328.

"The "Wisdom Religion" is the inheritance of all the nations, the world
over." S D I xviii

"Theosophy [is]...the one bond of unity which is so universal and
all-embracing that no man, as no speck -- from gods and mortals down to
animals, the blade of grass and atom -- can be outside of its light.
Therefore any organization or body of that name [Theosophical] must
necessarily be a Universal Brotherhood."


1. The Universe is guided from within by a uniform base of spiritual
presence which one might call consciousness, awareness, perception. 
2 These are found to occur at various levels and can be catalogued
in many degrees and varieties.
3 It is posited that when EVOLUTION began a pair of opposed poles
of Nature emerged: SPIRIT (or the energy of continuous LIFE and purpose)
and MATTER (or the innumerable limitations of form). In other words, the
illimitable, un-nameable and undifferentiated split itself into innumerable
sensitive intelligent units.  
4 This action and "time of beginning" was determined by universal
Karma and is based on earlier periods of manifestation, when the same
assemblage of beings participated in an earlier age of progress and mutual
5 Although poles apart, these two basics (Spirit - Matter) are
united by the individual memories of an enormous assembly of experiences -
termed sometimes, "thought, mind, will, experience, memory, and emotion or
6 It is posited that the manifested Universe is composed of
innumerable vibrant living points of Intelligence -- these, as units, may
be termed "Mind, etc,."  
7 THEOSOPHY uses the term "MONAD" for these triune units, each
consisting of (Spirit - Mind - Matter). Like the "atoms" of science they are
deemed to be immortal - eternal units in perpetual motion.
8 Over an immense period of time all Monads experience living
conditions provided by the earth, planets, worlds, suns, etc.. that fill the
vast Kosmos. Innately, they also keep a record of all they have been
9 Our Earth is found to be peopled not only by physical "atoms"
(and their aggregates) but inherent and within them is a continuous and
universal record of those individual experiences. This expresses itself as
individualized intelligence.
10 Intelligence may be broadly divided into the known divisions of
mineral, vegetable, animal, human and super-human degrees. It is also
classified under thought, character, intelligence, emotional feelings, etc.
11 Intelligence is not entirely dependent on physical forms as there
is evidence that there are substances which are non-physical (thoughts,
feelings, ideas, aversions, attractions, etc.,) which may be said to occupy
the area of "psychology, and sensitivity." 
12 Man's character, mind and intelligence permits him to review,
probe and analyse all these many degrees of experience as exhibited in
various forms, substances, and species of living beings.
13. It is posited that man's intelligence is but a gateway to a
superior kind of knowledge.  
14 A "wisdom" that is based on the careful observation of the
cooperative and inter-active processes prevalent in the whole of Nature
(another word for the Universe or "Deity.") is a conclusion which is
evidenced by the periodical appearance of these wise men in the nature and
shape of great Prophets and Reformers. 
15 The existence of universal and eternal, impersonal laws, the fact
of individual immortality, leads impartial thought to consider that morals
and ethics are universal and based on these essential facts.  
16 In effect, the teachings of all great Men, Prophets, etc., reveal
upon careful study and comparison a community and an agreement on the
ethical and moral base of life and coexistence.
17 As a goal for all living beings to eventually achieve a phrase
has emerged: "the Goal of Sublime Perfection." 



If the Masters, using HPB as their "messenger," placed in the hands of the
generation that lived in the last quarter of the 19th century writings and
books that reviewed :--


1 The history of ourselves and our earth's evolution,
2 The Laws that govern the whole of progress both individual, as
well as group progress (and also the "whole" of the Universe),
3 Indicated a goal of virtue and idealism that touches the heart
aspirations of all humans. Such a goal, under the general caption of
"evolution" provides a goal of distant success - of "Good" -- for those
who TRY. [It also indicates that our attainment of such a goal depends on
our work and choices.]
There is a good purpose to that work and effort.  
It is the torch of BROTHERHOOD and of amity, shining brilliantly on the
general background of turbulent horror and chaotic events of tyranny,
selfishness and evil. 
If a few draw from that reading, contact or study something that inspires to
friendship, trust in verity, brotherhood and cooperation, then much has been
accomplished. To step out of shadow into light is the first step. To
pursue that light and verify its existence is a privilege we earn for
ourselves and others. 
Why try to abolish it (as a concept) because a complete reform has not yet
been adopted? How are we equipped to evaluate what has been done? Ask

"Without THEOSOPHY what would our present world be like?
Seeds planted in autumn and winter lie protected from death by the friendly
coating of a frost that preserves them till the time for spring's burgeoning
life and warming light, allows them to spring forth in verdant abundance.  
We do not know all the cycles, and since they overlap, we may see these
days, perhaps only a suspicion, a little of the work that can, and is being
done is such a terrible time as the present. 
One does not (cannot) eliminate, ever, from man his power of free and
individual choice. The divine spiritual being within every human supports
this. All true advance, "spiritually," is due to the freedom they have, even
at the darkest of times to make such choices. [Many think that a threat of
death will bend any man's will to that of an oppressor - but there are those
who, believing in their immortality (as also of that of all else) laugh at
such threats - and may suffer torture, indignities, and death as a result.]
Are any of us able to make an accurate assessment of the value of this work.
We may not be able to fully perceive the impact of THEOSOPHY on society and
the currents of modern thought. But the pages down the years of magazines
such as THEOSOPHY [Los Angeles, now in its 92nd volume], and the
THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT [Bombay now in its 74th volume] show that there has
been such a change and it is marked.
Many have said that they consider they are much the better for having been
able to contact and study THEOSOPHY.
One might add that "man's inhumanity to man" is not endemic. There are
shining examples of individuals who have refused to bow to the trend of
utter selfishness -- leading to tyranny and the oppression, death, torture,
etc, of hundreds and thousands. Many are unknown and work their silent and
important lives unrecognized. But they are there, though we do not know
them. A few of them, like Jesus, who refused to "bow" to tyranny, have had
accounts of their lives and saying changed into the basis for a religion.
His independence, his stand for truth and self-choice has been idolized. 
The laws of every land (if compared) show that they uniformly recognize an
altruism that underlies and supports all co-existence - even if only
lip-service is given to those ideals as found hidden in the verbiage of
bibles, and other texts that priestcraft, all over the world, has vitiated
and turned into subtle and vague threats to the sanity and amiability of
What is wrong in "imagination, fantasy, and wishful thinking?" If there is
evil, next door, around the corner, we find the "good, true and beautiful."
And we can lend our minds and hands to the great "wheel" of continuing life
that revolves for all.
Look on one fact: without the support at all points of Nature (the Universe
around us) we would not be alive. The best as the most evil man in the
world benefits form this impersonal force and power. [We receive air,
water, food, shelter, etc. and our marvelous bodies assimilate and combine
all these into a living structure to which we pay relatively little
attention in this area of living. 
Ask why this may be?  


1 The immortality of the Inner Life - Spirit, Soul, the Real Man,
2 The Life giving forces and provisions of our Universe and Earth,
3 The great laws of cooperative life - Karma, 

Why be pessimistic if we are confronted with many inspiring opposites to
Apparently the "ring Pass-Not" was a portion of the ancient Egyptian secret
teachings which debarred those who had not purified their moral natures from
receiving a higher level of instruction. 

There are many kinds of "ring Pass-not" -- if we are unfamiliar with
chemistry we cannot understand its jargon without a lot of study --
similarly, for astronomy, geology, mathematics, physics, etc. So too with
THEOSOPHY - one has to know and understand the fundamentals and basics. The
entrance to such knowledge may be had through The KEY TO THEOSOPHY -it is
worth a read.



"Theosophist is who Theosophy does." {an old adage}

The designation "Theosophist" in its most accurate sense is one which
applies only to the Masters of Wisdom -- who KNOW it fully, and invariably
apply it in all They say and do..


If individually, we don't study the ORIGINAL LITERATURE, by which I mean H P
B's writings as ORIGINALLY written, we really have little to base
ourselves on.  

We have original reprints of ISIS UNVEILED, The SECRET DOCTRINE, The KEY
TO THEOSOPHY, The VOICE OF THE SILENCE, and all her known articles, and most
of her letters.   

Taken all together it is a treasure house; and if we mine it, we will
acquire an ability to grasp how THEOSOPHY is in reality a report, most
carefully presented, so as to explain all the many mysterious workings of
our world and universe -- and, also, our own personal psychology, and, more
wonderful and useful -- the nature of our inner BEING.] 

Many authors have tried to interpret HPB's works -- and some do better than
others. Most fail because of individual notions and slants of view. If we
have a knowledge that we have consolidated as to what THEOSOPHY is (at least
its basic concepts and logic) we will have difficulty discovering precisely
what these second, and third, and later generations of writers on Theosophy,
are saying -- how much of what they offer is really true to the ORIGINAL
THEOSOPHY. And, how much is their own set of opinions and guesses. 

The real problem arises then: how many who read such material are led
astray? How many have learned to develop independence of thought? How can
anyone get back to the ORIGINAL TEACHINGS ?

[Consider the search for, and the study of original Biblical and Christian,
Gnostic, Hebrew, Jewish, and other contemporaneous texts. [Like the Nag
Hemadri scrolls, the Dead Sea scrolls, and others.] Jesus wrote nothing and
all we have are a series (differing in many respects one from the rest) of
reports from his close students: the "Apostles, etc..." 

On this a Church (or rather a series of Churches) have been built in the
past 2,000 + years. 

Since belief and faith in priestly interpretations (ask no questions!! --
don't be a "heretic") has been insisted on, most of the "flock" has been
discouraged from THINKING about the biblical accounts, and STUDYING them.

Consolidation of original text meanings are now sought for. Why has the
"Old Testament" been attached to the "Teachings of Jesus -- the Son of God
?" Who studies Jesus's actual words and injunctions, -- as in the "Sermon
on the Mount," and, more important still: Who applies them?]

In the history of the current movement represented by THEOSOPHY, hardly 125
years have elapsed since HPB wrote. The spread of opinions and guesses is
already vast. Why not consolidate and focus on WHAT THE MASTERS HAVE TAUGHT
through their "Messenger" HPB ? Now that is a very simple task, relatively.
We still have in print the ORIGINAL MESSAGE. Why not use it?

So to simplify, and make at least one aim clear, let me offer:

Why not acquire at least a thorough knowledge of what she has taught in the 


In those 300 + pages is enough material to give us a "nodding" acquaintance
with what THEOSOPHY teaches. Further, embedded in it is the "logic" of the
'science' and the 'philosophy' of our world and The Universe -- its most
intricate workings are exposed in outline, and from those we can derive
individual and personal applications. But, we have to learn, question, test,
and study them -- there is no special value to a "belief" in THEOSOPHY -- it
has to be known. Our effort is to study it. Then with the comparison
through conference with friends we learn what is reasonable. And, from
there, we can proceed ever deeper into the practical life of a true

Otherwise, along with many hundreds of "friends of Theosophy," our notions
will remain shallow and wispy -- nebulous -- and continually altering
notions and opinions -- with little or no sound foundation.

Consider these main divisions:


We may be "friends of THEOSOPHY,"
or, intrigued by "immortality of the soul/Spirit of Man," 

or, "reincarnation," 

or, the "unity of the Universe," 

or, "Karma as a universal and invariable law;" 

or, the "Theosophical view of the evolutionary process,"

or, cycles of manvantara and Pralaya,"

or, the "Great Souls, the Mahatmas," and their school of discipline,

or, the "Path to Perfection," [spoken by Krishna in the BHAGAVAD GITA ];

or, the "Four Noble Truths," [ taught by the Buddha].

or, the "Esoteric character of the Gospels," and so on.

All these are subjects for discussion, suggested and covered by the "THREE
here it is quoted: 


"ENQUIRER. What are the objects of the "Theosophical Society"? 
THEOSOPHIST. They are three, and have been so from the beginning. 

(1.) To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without
distinction of race, colour, or creed. 

(2.) To promote the study of Aryan and other Scriptures, of the World's
religion and sciences, and to vindicate the importance of old Asiatic
literature, namely, of the Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Zoroastrian

(3.) To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect
possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially.
These are, broadly stated, the three chief objects of the Theosophical
Society. " Key, p. 39

If we are going to study and learn, then we ought to know what THEOSOPHY
says on these subjects.

Let us each ask ourselves as to how serous we are in getting at the truth of
these concepts. We can wander for years with vague ideas, but how can we
ever assure ourselves of their value, actuality, or use and practical worth?

Can THEOSOPHY get us anywhere?


What is, you ask, the U L T  

Here is a copy of its DECLARATION




The policy of this Lodge is independent devotion 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 differences of individual opinion. 

The work it has on hand and the end it keeps in view are too absorbing and
too lofty to leave it the time or inclination to take part in side issues.
That work and that end is the dissemination of the Fundamental Principles of
the Philosophy of Theosophy, and the exemplification in practice of those
principles, through a truer realization of the SELF; a profounder conviction
of Universal Brotherhood. 

It holds that the unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever
and however situated, is "similarity of aim, purpose and teaching," and
therefore has neither Constitution, By-Laws nor Officers, the sole bond
between its Associates being that basis. And it aims to disseminate this
idea among Theosophists in the furtherance of Unity. 

It regards as Theosophists all who are engaged in the true service of
Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, condition or
organization, and 

It welcomes to its Association all those who are in accord with its declared
purposes and who desire to fit themselves, by study and otherwise, to be the
better able to help and teach others. 

"The true Theosophist belongs to no cult or sect, yet belongs to each and


The following is the form signed by Associates of the United Lodge of

"Being in sympathy with the purposes of this Lodge, as set forth in its
"Declaration," I hereby record my desire to be enrolled as an Associate, it
being understood that such association calls for no obligation on my part,
other than that which 1, myself, determine. "




I well understand the impact THEOSOPHY has had on the "new Age" jargon. Its
ideal of a practical brotherhood of humanity has appealed to all.
I do not minimize this valuable relationship.
Also, important, when I make comments or seem to answer observations, my
responses are intended to be general, and not aimed at anyone specifically.
They ought to be treated as an "aide-memoire" for all of us. And of course
they ought to be checked for accuracy and fairness. 
However that which I am pointing to is the core and backbone of THEOSOPHY -
its metaphysics. It offers reasonable explanations based on facts we can
all access. So - no mystery there, but a lot of hard work doing the
necessary proving. That is what daunts most people, and in some cases they
join religions or societies that "promise (?)" to take care of their
spiritual "hereafter." At what cost? ["Have faith my child!" And above
all else, "Don't ask!"]
I agree that not all want to make a deep study of those things, and while
adopting the ideals on the surface, they put themselves in danger because
they have not acquired even a minimal concept of WHY BROTHERHOOD can EXIST.
This is exactly what has happened in all creeds and sects. The Moral ideal
is acceptable, but the REASON WHY is neglected.
Here is where the sly and crafty come in and pose as "priests," and
"leaders." It is all for the money they can cull from the gullible, those
who want (at thee back of their minds) something for nothing. Then
churches, lodges, secret centers, mystic names, etc. are used as fodder to
mystify and delude the "well-intentioned" sheep who are held to perpetual
ransom by claiming their support made to a church (tithing) it is a
sacrifice to 'God." 
[I say that if God made and owns everything, then any paltry gifts or
"praise," or prayers, from humans are redundant and farcical. I look,
pragmatically, for the sign that says: "The buck stops here."]
I object to that perversion and have seen it arise (although disguised) in
the THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT during the last 125 years. I do not paint all
THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETIES with an accusative brush. Any body, group, society
or association acquires adherents who don't have the knowledge or the will
to be independent. They say: "We want guidance!" And then attach
themselves for better or worse to "leaders." And so develop and flourish
rites and rituals. 
If we are indeed spiritual at core and heart, then we(as humanity en masse)
are a Majority, not a minority at all.
I also agree that knowledge is not uniformly acquired and in practice. But
that is precisely what we are here (under Karma) to acquire. 
I will add to this the idea that he spiritual SELF within is not here as a
victim, but as a Pilgrim devoted to assisting the "Lower Mind" and the lower
principles (all consisting of Monads of lesser experience) to take hold and
advance to the position the spiritual Being within (a "personal God")
actually holds. 
This leads to a grasp of the idea that we are potentially all Gods, and in
the here and now, we are "Gods in the making:" -- and the potentialities
for this process are not extraordinary, nor can they be inculcated by a
"laying on of the hands, etc." They are right here in our mental and
spiritual grasp if we only WILL to try. Does anyone who is sane, really
think they are here for no reason? If all this work and suffering and joy
are experienced, then why? Who feels it? Who can profit from it? 
Now it is true that there is a scarcity of thinking and knowledge. But that
can be remedied by encouraging people to THINK and be LOGICAL. 
We are, agreeably, in the 5th root race (only about 1 million years into it,
and several millions to go), and also about 5,000 years into Kali Yuga (and
are facing a long period of 427,000 more years of that). It is said that
the world, and living situations will get worse. But if Karma is just, we
will receive only that which is due to us, or owed by us. 
Lets ask ourselves one question: Why was it so important to have THEOSOPHY
so boldly and broadly expressed - even if 125 years ago? 
What is so important at this particular cycle? 
Is it not the formation of a NUCLEUS? Not a big thing but a START - that
will be nurtured by THEM and kept moving forward. 
Perhaps we, being born under our own Karma at this junction, and serving as
a part of the "bridge" into the future, have earned a special position of
great responsibility. For us the test is : shall we seize this moment and
pass on the great gift to those who are around, and who will follow us in
time? To make it possible, we have to remodel ourselves and try to embody
and practice spiritual IDEALS - and these have been catalogued for us.
Living in a "house under reconstruction" is not easy.
At present, (to me) our duty is plain: to serve where we are and do the
best we can. In the Gita Krishna advocates doing ones' duty without
anticipating (or steering as we hope) "results" - which, according to Him,
are inevitable and depend on our altruism and choices now -- and the
consequent Karma, which, once commenced, we later, cannot change. See this:

"This Society is a small germ of a nucleus for a real outer Brotherhood. If
we work aright the day must come when we shall have accomplished our aim and
formed the nucleus. If we had five hundred members in the Society loving one
another with true hearts, not criticizing nor condemning, and all bent on
one aim with one belief we could sweep the whole world with our thoughts.
And this is our work in the future, the work traced out for us by those
Masters in whom so many of us firmly believe.
If we only have patience, what a glorious, wide, and noble prospect opens up
before us!" -- W Q J.  
PROMULGATION OF THEOSOPHY, Judge Articles, Vol. I, p 76


Best wishes,


-----Original Message-----
From: bta1012003 
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004 5:12 PM
Subject: Re: The Study of Theosophy

Some comments:


We find ourselves making the same comments about HPB's 
writings. Sometime we run into people who are into some new age 
thing and start telling us about the latest books, with great ideas 
they have never heard before. In almost every case, it is some 
simplified and distorted version of something that HPB had written 
about over a hundred years ago. There is nothing quite like her, 
and she seems to be the direct or indirect source for so many 
current ideas.   


Exactly!! Every "hot" new age books that I have picked up 
seems to be just touching the surface of HPB's ideas, some more 
accurately than others. One question I have is that the TS movement 
started more than a hundred years ago and nothing has been quite 
like it since. Did HPB ever mention the next time when something 
similar may occur again?    


While we have study groups on Theosophical texts (e.g. 
Secret Doctrine, Mahatma Letters, Voice etc.), We also do classes 
where we explore subjects HPB covers by using current works. We 
have found that these studies tremendously expands, clarifies and 
brings a whole new relevance and currency to HPB's writings. We 
just finished a two year course on Kaballah, which started with the 
roots of Judaism in Egyptian, Babylonian and Canaanite religions. 
Currently we are doing a course on the roots and origins of 
Christianity. I'll be happy to email you and/or anyone interested 
a copy of our syllabus for this current class. 


Yes I would appreciate a copy of your syllabus. I am 
looking for something a bit more contemporary. Sometimes I feel 
silly immersing most of my life in something that happened a hundred 
years ago. I keep hoping I can find either the next generation to 
the SD or something that has the same quality by a current teacher.  

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