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RE: Theos-World Use of terms "Atma" and "Soul"

Nov 22, 2004 05:05 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

Nov 22 2004

May I butt in here with a further observation?

If we carefully study both ISIS UNVEILED and the SECRET DOCTRINE and use
The KEY TO THEOSOPHY as an introduction to THEOSOPHY we will secure answers
to these questions of terminology.

Many who think of themselves as "theosophists" need first to acquire a
working knowledge of its modern terminology -- as presented by HPB to the
present century and cycle of students. Further. She carefully reinforced
this with a history of the derivation and relationship of terms between
various systems and religions. Thus she demonstrated the unity of thought
to be recognized there.

Let us remember that Christianity in its many sects of today (the three
chief ones being: Protestantism, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern
Orthodox Church), derives as a reform from Judaism and its several sects.  

In turn Judaism was strongly influenced by the Mysteries of Egypt, Greece,
and Assyria. Further, it had roots tracing back to Chaldea, Babylon,
Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq), the Zoroastrianism of Persia and the
Hinduism/Brahmanism of ancient India.  

The Buddhist reform of Brahmanism strongly influenced the world of
philosophy and thought when in the 3rd Century B C, King Ashoka sent
missionary Buddhist monks all over the world (including China, Indonesia,
Burma, Tibet, Mongolia, Japan and as far away as Scandinavia, and the
Teutonic and Frankish lands, in this Ireland was also included -- and some
of the monks settled in Judea on the banks of the Dead Sea. 

In a way, HPB says in ISIS UNVEILED the reform that Jesus sought to
introduce to Judaism was like that which Buddha introduced to Hinduism He
made its philosophy popular again and instilled as non-violence a reign of
peace that still exists as its main feature. One of the greatest tenets is:
"God" is to be sought within each one of us, since the DEIFIC Principle is
everywhere, the closest location of GOD is in our own "hearts." We all (the
whole Earth and Universe) live and owe our lives to the ONE DEIFIC PRINCIPLE
OF SPIRIT -- which is omnipresent and ubiquitous.

We all have a tendency to try and place HPB, and the Masters of Wisdom in
some sectarian position because of their use of certain terms known to be in
common use there.

But let us consider that there is a single universal and undivided School of
Occultism, of Esotericism and of THEOSOPHY -- in the past. 

If we trace the evolution of sectarianism we discover that ancient China,
Mongolia, Tibet, India and Persia (Zoroastrianism) are the most ancient --
and the terms used that were peculiar to one are intracontrovertible to

This does not locate those who used them to any single sect, creed, religion
or occult system It merely shows then, as now, that there is a unity -- and
that students of all the schools, regardless of past or present language,
use any suitable term drawn from any of those. 

The KEY TO THEOSOPHY shows this abundantly.  

We need to widen our own horizons, and not narrow or limit them to any
particular philosophy or language.  

Truth is one.

THEOSOPHY exists to demonstrate and prove that singularity.  

Remember that our aim, creed and motto is BROTHERHOOD. 

Further, anyone who has read and studied the MAHATMA LETTERS knows that
creedalism is the last thing the Masters adopted. Master wrote:

“I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the
evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is
religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. 

It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those
illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the
source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and
that almost overwhelms mankind. 

Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. 

Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. 

It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is
religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all
mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral
for it. 

It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of
a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them.
It is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told that his God or
Gods demand the crime — voluntary victim of an illusionary God, the abject
slave of his crafty ministers? 

The Irish, Italian and Slavonian peasant will starve himself and see his
family starving and naked to feed and clothe his padre and pope. 

For two thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste, Brahmins
alone feeding on the fat of the land, and to-day the followers of Christ and
those of Mahomet are cutting each other’s throats in the names of and for
the greater glory of their respective myths. 

Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when
the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and
universal charity, the altars of their false gods.”
M L (Barker Edn: p. 57-8 Letter X)



[An address delivered April 17th, 1894, before the Parliament of Religions
at San Francisco, Calif., by William Q. Judge.]

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen: Let me read you a few verses from some
of the ancient Scriptures of the world, from the old Indian books held
sacred by the Brahmans of Hindustan.(1)

What room for doubt and what room for sorrow is there in him who knows that
all spiritual beings are the same in kind and only differ from each other in

The sun does not shine there, nor the moon and the stars, nor these
lightnings and much less this fire. When He shines, everything shines after
Him; by His light all this is lighted.

Lead me from the unreal to the real!

Lead me from darkness to light!

Lead me from death to immortality!

Seeking for refuge, I go to that God who is the light of His own thoughts;
He who first creates Brahman and delivers the Vedas to him; who is without
parts, without actions, tranquil, without fault, the highest bridge to
immortality, like a fire that has consumed its fuel. - Mundaka Upanishad.

Such are some of the verses, out of many thousands, which are enshrined in
the ancient Hindu Vedas beloved by those we have called "heathen"; those are
the sentiments of the people we have called idolaters only.

As the representative of the Theosophical movement I am glad to be here, and
to be assigned to speak on what are the points of agreement in all
religions. I am glad because Theosophy is to be found in all religions and
all sciences. 

We, as members of the Theosophical Society, endorse to the fullest extent
those remarks of your chairman in opening, when he said, in effect, that a
theology which stayed in one spot without advancing was not a true theology,
but that we had advanced to where theology should include a study of man.
Such a study must embrace his various religions, both dead and living. 

And pushing that study into those regions we must conclude that man is
greatly his own reveler, has revealed religion to himself, and therefore
that all religions must include and contain truth; that no one religion is
entitled to a patent or exclusive claim upon truth or revelation, or is the
only one that God has given to man, or the only road along which man can
walk to salvation. 

If this be not true, then your Religious Parliament is no Parliament, but
only a body of men admiring themselves and their religion. But the very
existence of this Parliament proclaims the truth of what I have said, and
shows the need which the Theosophical Society has for nineteen years been
asserting, of a dutiful, careful, and brotherly inquiry into all the
religions of the world, for the purpose of discovering what the central
truths are upon which each and every religion rests, and what the original
fountain from which they have come. This careful and tolerant inquiry is
what we are here for today; for that the Theosophical Society stands and has
stood: for toleration, for unity, for the final and irrevocable death of all

But if you say that religion must have been revealed, then surely God did
not wait for several millions of years before giving it to those poor beings
called men. He did not, surely, wait until He found one poor Semitic tribe
to whom He might give it late in the life of the race? 

Hence He must have given it in the very beginning, and therefore all present
religions must arise from one fount.

What are the great religions of the world and from whence have they come?
They are Christianity, Brahmanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism,
Zoroastrianism, and Mohammedanism. The first named is the youngest, with all
its warring sects, with Mormonism as an offshoot and with Roman Catholicism
boldly claiming sole precedence and truth.

Brahmanism is the old and hoary religion of India, a grown-up,
fully-developed system long before either Buddhism or Christianity was born.
It extends back to the night of time, and throws the history of religion
far, far beyond any place where modern investigators were once willing to
place even the beginning of religious thought. Almost the ancient of
ancients, it stands in far-off India, holding its holy Vedas in its hands,
calmly waiting until the newer West shall find time out of the pursuit of
material wealth to examine the treasures it contains.

Buddhism, the religion of Ceylon, of parts of China, of Burmah and Japan and
Tibet, comes after its parent Brahmanism. It is historically older than
Christianity and contains the same ethics as the latter, the same laws and
the same examples, similar saints and identical fables and tales relating to
Lord Buddha, the Saviour of Men. It embraces today, after some twenty-five
hundred years of life, more people than any other religion, for two-thirds
of the human family profess it.

Zoroastrianism also fades into the darkness of the past. It too teaches
ethics such as we know. Much of its ritual and philosophy is not understood,
but the law of brotherly love is not absent from it; it teaches justice and
truth, charity and faith in God, together with immortality. In these it
agrees with all, but it differs from Christianity in not admitting a
vicarious salvation, which it says is not possible.

Christianity of today is modern Judaism, but the Christianity of Jesus is
something different. He taught forgiveness, Moses taught retaliation, and
that is the law today in Christian State and Church. "An eye for an eye, and
a tooth for a tooth" is still the recognized rule, but Jesus taught the
opposite. He fully agreed with Buddha, who, preaching 500 years before the
birth of the Jewish reformer, said we must love one another and forgive our

So modern Christianity is not the religion of Jesus, but Buddhism and the
religion of Jesus accord with one another in calling for charity, complete
tolerance, perfect non-resistance, absolute self-abnegation.

If we compare Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism together on the points of
ritual, dogmas, and doctrines, we find not only agreement but a marvellous
similarity as well, which looks like an imitation on the part of the younger
Christianity. Did the more modern copy the ancient? It would seem probable.
And some of the early Christian Fathers were in the habit of saying, as we
find in their writings, that Christianity brought nothing new into the
world, that it existed from all time.

If we turn to ritual, so fully exemplified in the Roman Catholic Church, we
find the same practices and even similar clothing and altar arrangements in
Buddhism, while many of the prescribed rules for the altar and approaching
or leaving it are mentioned very plainly in far more ancient directions
governing the Brahman when acting as priest. 

This similarity was so wonderful in the truthful account given by the
Catholic priest Abbé Huc that the alarmed Church first explained that the
devil, knowing that Christianity was coming, went ahead and invented the
whole thing for the Buddhists by a species of ante facto copying, so as to
confound innocent Catholics therewith; and then they burned poor Abbé Huc's

As to stations of the cross, now well known to us, or the rosary,
confession, convents, and the like, all these are in the older religion. The
rosary was long and anciently used in Japan, where they had over one hundred
and seventy-two sorts. And an examination of the mummies of old Egypt
reveals rosaries placed with them in the grave, many varieties being used.
Some of these I have seen. Could we call up the shades of Babylon's priests,
we should doubtless find the same rituals there.

Turning to doctrines, that of salvation by faith is well known in
Christianity. It was the cause of a stormy controversy in the time of St.
James. But very strangely, perhaps, for many Christians, the doctrine is a
very old Brahmanical one. They call it "The Bridge Doctrine," as it is the
great Bridge. But with them it does not mean a faith in some particular
emanation of God, but God is its aim. God is the means and the way, and God
the end of the faith; by complete faith in God, without an intermediary, God
will save you. 

They also have a doctrine of salvation by faith in those great sons of God,
Krishna, Rama, and others; complete faith in either of those is for them a
way to heaven, a bridge for the crossing over all sins. Even those who were
killed by Krishna, in the great war detailed in the Ramayana, went straight
to heaven because they looked at him, as the thief on the cross looking at
Jesus went to Paradise. In Buddhism is the same doctrine of faith. 

The twelve great sects of Buddhism in Japan have one called the Sect of the
Pure Land. This teaches that Amitabha vowed that any one who calls three
times on his name would be born into his pure Land of Bliss. He held that
some men may be strong enough to prevail against the enemy, but that most
men are not, and need some help from another. This help is found in the
power of the vow of Amita Buddha, who will help all those who call on his
name. The doctrine is a modified form of vicarious atonement, but it does
not exclude the salvation by works which the Christian St. James gives out.

Heaven and Hell are also common to Christianity, Buddhism, and Brahmanism.
The Brahman calls it Swarga; the Buddhist, Devachan; and we, Heaven. Its
opposite is Naraka and Avitchi. But names apart, the descriptions are the
same. Indeed, the hells of the Buddhists are very terrible, long in duration
and awful in effect. 

The difference is that the heaven and hell of the Christian are eternal,
while the others are not. The others come to an end when the forces which
cause them are exhausted. 

In teaching of more than one heaven there is the same likeness, for St. Paul
spoke of more than a single heaven to one of which he was rapt away, and the
Buddhist tells of many, each being a grade above or below some other.
Brahman and Buddhist agree in saying that when heaven or hell is ended for
the soul, it descends again to rebirth. And that was taught by the Jews.
They held that the soul was originally pure, but sinned and had to wander
through rebirth until purified and fit to return to its source.

In priesthood and priestcraft there is a perfect agreement among all
religions, save that the Brahman instead of being ordained a priest is so by
birth. Buddha's priesthood began with those who were his friends and
disciples. After his death they met in council, and subsequently many
councils were held, all being attended by priests. Similar questions arose
among them as with the Christians, and identical splits occurred, so that
now there are Northern and Southern Buddhism and the twelve sects of Japan.
During the life of Buddha the old query of admitting women arose and caused
much discussion. The power of the Brahman and Buddhist priests is
considerable, and they demand as great privileges and rights as the
Christian ones.

Hence we are bound to conclude that dogmatically and theologically these
religions all agree. 

Christianity stands out, however, as peculiarly intolerant - and in using
the word "intolerant" I but quote from some priestly utterances regarding
the World's Fair parliament - for it claims to be the only true religion
that God has seen fit to reveal to man.

The great doctrine of a Savior who is the son of God -- God himself -- is
not an original one with Christianity. It is the same as the extremely
ancient one of the Hindus called the doctrine of the Avatar. An Avatar is
one who comes down to earth to save man. He is God incarnate. Such was
Krishna, and such even the Hindus admit was Buddha, for he is one of the
great ten Avatars. 

The similarity between Krishna or Cristna and Christ has been very often
remarked. He came 5,000 years ago to save and benefit man, and his birth was
in India, his teaching being Brahmanical. He, like Jesus, was hated by the
ruler, Kansa, who desired to destroy him in advance, and who destroyed many
sons of families in order to accomplish his end, but failed. 

Krishna [as Rama-chandra] warred with the powers of darkness in his battles
with Ravana, whom he finally killed. The belief about him was that he was
the incarnation of God. This is in accord with the ancient doctrine that
periodically the Great Being assumes the form of man for the preservation of
the just, the establishment of virtue and order, and the punishment of the

Millions of man and women read every day of Krishna in the [Mahabharata] of
Tulsi Das. His praises are sung each day and reiterated at their festivals.
Certainly it seems rather narrow and bigoted to assume that but one tribe
and one people are favored by the appearance among them of an incarnation in
greater measure of God.

Jesus taught a secret doctrine to his disciples. He said to them that he
taught the common people in stories of a simple sort, but that the disciples
could learn of the mysteries. And in the early age of Christianity that
secret teaching was known. 

In Buddhism is the same thing, for Buddha began with one vehicle or
doctrine, proceeded after to two, and then to a third. He also taught a
secret doctrine that doubtless agreed with the Brahmans who had taught him
at his father's court. He gave up the world, and later gave up eternal peace
in Nirvana, so that he might save men. In this the story agrees with that of
Jesus. And Buddha also resisted Mara, or the Devil, in the wilderness. 

Jesus teaches that we must be as perfect as the Father, and that the kingdom
of heaven is within each. To be perfect as the Father we must be equal with
him, and hence here we have the ancient doctrine taught of old by the
Brahmins that each man is God and a part of God. This supports the unity of
humanity as a spiritual whole, one of the greatest doctrines of the time
prior to Christianity, and now also believed in Brahmanism.

That the universe is spiritual in essence, that man is a spirit and
immortal, and that man may rise to perfection, are universal doctrines. 

Even particular doctrines are common to all the religions. 

Reincarnation is not alone in Hinduism or Buddhism. It was believed by the
Jews, and not only believed by Jesus but he also taught it. For he said that
John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elias "who was for to come." Being
a Jew he must have had the doctrines of the Jews, and this was one of them.
And in Revelations we find the writer says: "Him that overcometh I will make
a pillar in the house of my God, and he shall go out no more."

The words "no more" infer a prior time of going out.

The perfectibility of man destroys the doctrine of original sin, and it was
taught by Jesus, as I said. Reincarnation is a necessity for the evolution
of this perfection, and through it at last are produced those Saviors of the
race of whom Jesus was one. He did not deny similar privileges to others,
but said to his disciples that they could do even greater works than he did.

So we find these great Sages and Saviors in all religions. There are Moses
and Abraham and Solomon, all Sages. And we are bound to accept the Jewish
idea that Moses and the rest were the reincarnations of former persons.
Moses was in their opinion Abel the son of Adam; and their Messiah was to be
a reincarnation of Adam himself who had already come the second time in the
person of David. We take the Messiah and trace him up to David, but refuse,
improperly, to accept the remainder of their theory.

Descending to every-day-life doctrines, we find that of Karma, or that we
must account and receive for every act. This is the great explainer of human
life. It was taught by Jesus and Matthew and St. Paul. The latter explicitly

"Brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth,
that also shall he reap."

This is Karma of the Brahman and Buddhist, which teaches that each life is
the outcome of a former life or lives, and that every man in his rebirths
will have to account for every thought and receive measure for the measure
given by him before.

In ethics all these religions are the same, and no new ethic is given by
any. Jesus was the same as his predecessor, Buddha, and both taught the law
of love and forgiveness. A consideration of the religions of the past and
today from a Theosophical standpoint will support and confirm ethics. We
therefore cannot introduce a new code, but we strive by looking into all
religions to find a firm basis, not due to fear, favor, or injustice, for
the ethics common to all. This is what Theosophy is for and what it will do.
It is the reformer of religion, the unifier of diverse systems, the restorer
of justice to our theory of the universe. It is our past, our present, and
our future; it is our life, our death, and our immortality.

--W Q Judge

Path, July, 1894


An address delivered April 17th, 1894, before the Parliament of Religions at
San Francisco, Calif., by William Q. Judge.

The Midwinter Fair at San Francisco in 1894 had annexed to it a Religious
parliament modeled after the first great one of 1893 at Chicago. 

Dr. J. D. Buck and William Q. Judge, the latter as General Secretary
American Section, were officially invited to address the Parliament at one
of its sessions as representatives of the Theosophical movement. 

Time was so short that all speakers were limited to thirty minutes each; for
that reason the address is not as full as it would be had more time been
granted. But the occasion once more showed the strength of the T.S.


I believe these passages exemplify the theosophical attitude we can all

Best wishes,



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