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Nov 19, 2005 04:36 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck

AN AMERICAN EXPERIMENT	[ written in 1891 ]

By W. Q. Judge


As I write these words there lies before me an old book written by Jacob
Boehme, a German shoemaker who was a very religious and extraordinary man.*
His book is called FORTY QUESTIONS ON THE SOUL; it was printed in English in
the year 1647, and was only one of the many books he wrote. 

In all of these he calls himself a "theosopher," which in those days was the
same as 'theosophists,' the title really belongs to one who has put all the
theosophical principles into practice. Still, popular usage is always
stronger than fine distinction, and it is almost impossible to keep before
the mind of the public the fact that a mere member of this Society is not
necessarily thereby made into a perfect being, and is indeed only one who is
on trial. 
The famous Madame Blavatsky made this clear one day in London to a visitor
who asked if she was a theosophist, to which she replied, "No, but I am
trying to be one." 

So in my use of the title "theosophist" I mean one who is trying to put
theosophy into practice and that too without regard to membership in the
Society. But this old Teutonic theosopher Boehme was, I think, in all senses
a theosophist, for he ever lived up to his doctrines and came at last to
have a great influence, which may be considered proved from the anger he
aroused in the hearts of certain dogmatic priests of his day who caused him
to be persecuted and driven from his town.

There was already beginning to spread among the minds of the people of
Europe in the time of Boehme a revolt against the terrible orthodoxy which
would not allow a man to believe that the earth was round or that it could
not be possible that the globe and all thereon were created in six small
solar days. This discontent at last led to the pilgrimage of the puritan
fathers to America and the great nation now on this continent as a

Among the descendants of these strong men were such as Franklin and
Jefferson and Washington and their friends. But at the same time there was
also another man in England who did not come here until the revolution had
begun to be whispered in the air, though as yet not broken forth. 
This personage was the well known Thomas Paine, than whom no other man,
perhaps, has been so unjustly libeled since his death. Washington said of
him that the American colonies owed him a debt of gratitude, for to him more
than any one, in Washington's opinion, did the people owe the impulse to
strive for liberty. 

These prominent figures in the history of this nation -- Washington,
Franklin and Jefferson -- were the freest of thinkers, and all the wild
efforts of interested persons since then have not been able to show them as
only church going pious souls, but solely as men who lived justly and did
right in the eyes of men and the sight of the one God in whom they believed.
Certainly as to Paine and Franklin it is clear that they were liberal and
wholly untrammeled by any church or priest.


These men, with their friends and supporters, established the United States
on a footing of absolute freedom from dogmatic interference, and as a revolt
against tyranny. They took care to leave God out of the Constitution -- and
why? For the reason that every man has his own conception of that Being, and
if God were mentioned in that great instrument, then bigots and sectaries
would enforce their notion of God on every one else, drawing their supreme
warrant from the Constitution. And so the great American experiment came on
the world's stage; to be a success or miserable failure; to hold out to
humanity for ages to come the hope of an ever-widening horizon of liberty
and truth and right. Whether those hopes will be fulfilled is a mystery yet
in the womb of time.

"What," you may ask, "has all this to do with Theosophy?" A very great deal;
for the latest and best organized attempt to revive true Theosophy and
spread it among the people of the earth was begun in the United States, the
land of experiment and of reform. 

Fifteen years ago [1875] and a little over, the sages of the East conveyed
to their friends the intelligence that the time had now come to start the
preparations for a new wave of thought and a new revival of belief in the
soul and its powers, together with a new building up of the breastworks
needed to stem the onrush of materialism, which had been growing under the
diligent, fostering care of the scientific schools, whose masters and pupils
care not for the immortal and believe not in the inner self. 

The result of this communication -- in itself a command -- resulted in the
forming of the Theosophical Society in the city of New York, with the avowed
object of forming a nucleus of a universal brotherhood -- in fact, a
repetition, on the purely moral side, of the Declaration of Independence.
Unlike other bodies with broad aims, this one had from the first a basis
which has given it solidity and will ever keep it alive.

The founders of the organization, believing in the intelligence sent to them
that a wave of interest in the powers of the soul was about to rise and that
a new seeking for the philosopher's stone upon an entirely different basis
from any in the past would soon begin, wisely directed the attention of the
members to the ancient stores of learning, to the end that all the
superstition of the centuries might be stripped off from the doctrines and
beliefs held from immemorial time in respect to man, his power, his origin
and his destiny. 

This attention resulted in a belief in the ranks of society that there
existed a key to the puzzles of the inner self, and soon upon the belief
there followed a wide promulgation. But such a divulgement inevitably draws
down abuse and ridicule from all who will not take the trouble to know what
it is all about, and brave men and women are required to carry the struggle
forward until misunderstanding disappears. 

Such men and women have been found, and now a little more light begins to
break, increasing the probability that the people are almost ready to give a
hearing to expositions of such satisfying doctrines as those of karma and
reincarnation, which are two out of many that the members of the Society
endeavor to place before thinking people.

These two doctrines are in fact the foundation stones of all theological
edifices, for without them the universe is a hopeless jumble, while with
them hardly a question of cosmogony or anthropology remains unanswered.


Evolution, so widely accepted, is admitted as an empiric doctrine only, for
there is no connection between the links of evolution, and scientists are
obliged to assume many things, many of them hunting forever for the missing
link, whether it be between the ape and man, or between the mineral and the
vegetable more highly organized. But with karma and reincarnation the link
appears, maybe without any visible representative, but plainly seen as a
philosophical conception. And in the great question of the evolution of man
as a reasoning being, all doubts disappear at once when we master the
theosophical idea of his origin and destiny. 

Theosophy does not deny evolution but asserts a reasonable one. It shows man
as coming up through every form from the very lowest known to science, and
postulates for him a destiny so much higher and greater than any permitted
to him by either church or science that the pen of comparison gives up the
task. But it goes further than science, as the human monad -- the immortal
spark -- according to Theosophy, comes out of the eternities, and in each
evolutionary course it emerges upon the plane of matter as we know it, in
the form of an immaterial (if we may say so about that which although
invisible to our sight is still matter) being called by some an elemental
and by others a spirit. But of these things more at another time.

For the present it is sufficient to know that the theosophical experiment of
the present century is a product of the soil of America, although engineered
at the beginning by a Russian subject, who at the same time gave up her
allegiance to the Czar of all the Russias and became an American citizen.
-- W Q J ]
>From THE OMAHA BEE (1891); reprinted in The Theosophical Forum( 26:8),
August 1948, pp. 491-94.

            [ see also THE ADEPTS IN AMERICA IN 1776by W Q J ]




The following suggestions and statements are made entirely upon the personal
responsibility of the writer, and without the knowledge or consent - as far
as he knows - of the adepts who are in general terms therein referred to. 

The reflecting mind is filled with astonishment upon reviewing the history
of the rise of the United States of N. America, when it perceives that
dogmatic theology has no foundation in any part of the Declaration of
Independence or Constitution for the structure which it fain would raise and
has so often since tried to erect within and upon the government. We are
astonished because those documents were formulated and that government
established at a time when dogmatism of one kind or another had supreme

Although the Puritans and others had come to America for religious freedom,
they were still very dogmatic and tenacious of their own peculiar theories
and creed; so that if we found in this fundamental law much about religion
and religious establishments, we would not be surprised. But in vain do we
look for it, in vain did the supporters of the iron church attempt to lay
the needed corner stone, and today America rejoices at it, and has thereby
found it possible to grow with the marvellous growth that has been the
wonder of Europe. 

The nullification of these efforts made by bigotry in 1776 was due to the
adepts who now look over and give the countenance of their great name to the
Theosophical Society. 

They oversaw the drafting of the Declaration and the drawing of the
Constitution, and that is why no foothold is to be found for these blatant
Christians who desire to inject God into the constitution. 

In the declaration, from which freedom sprang, "nature and nature's god" are
referred to. In the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs the natural rights of man are
specified, such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The king is
spoken of as being unworthy to be "the head of a civilized nation," nothing
being said as to whether he was the head, or worthy to be, of a Christian

In appealing to their British brethren, the declaration says the appeal is
"made to their native justice and magnanimity." All reference to religion
and Christianity or God's commands are left out. This was for the very good
reason that for 1700 years religion had battled against progress, against
justice, against magnanimity, against the rights of man. And in the
concluding sentence the signers mutually pledge each other to its support
ignoring all appeals to God. 

In the constitution of 1787 the preamble declares that the instrument was
made for union, for justice, for tranquillity and defence, the general good
and liberty. Art. VI says no religious test as a qualification for office
shall ever be required, and the 1st Amendment prohibits an establishment of
religion or restraint of its free exercise. 

The great Theosophical Adepts in looking around the world for a mind through
which they could produce in America the reaction which was then needed,
found in England, THOMAS PAINE. 

In 1774 they influenced him, through the help of that worthy Brother
Benjamin Franklin, to come to America. He came here and was the main
instigator of the separation of the Colonies from the British Crown. 

At the suggestion of Washington, Franklin, Jefferson and other Freemasons,
whose minds through the teachings of the symbolic degrees of masonry were
fitted to reason correctly, and to reject theological conservation, he wrote
"COMMON SENSE," which was the torch to the pile whose blaze burned away the
bonds between England and America. For "COMMON SENSE" he was often publicly

George Washington wrote September 10th, 1783, to Paine: "I shall be
exceedingly happy to see you. Your presence may remind Congress of your past
services to this country, and if it is in my power to impress them, command
my best exertions with freedom, as they will be rendered cheerfully by one
who entertains a lively sense of the importance of your works." 

And again in June 1784, in a letter to Madison, Washington says: "Can
nothing be done in our assembly for poor Paine? Must the merits and services
of 'Common Sense' continue to glide down the stream of time unrewarded by
this country? His writings certainly have had a powerful effect upon the
public mind. Ought they not then to meet an adequate return?" 1 

In the "AGE OF REASON" which he wrote in Paris several years after, Paine

"I saw, or at least I thought I saw, a vast scene opening itself to the
world in the affairs of America; and it appeared to me that unless the
Americans changed the plan they were then pursuing and declared themselves
independent, they would not only involve themselves in a multiplicity of new
difficulties, but shut out the prospect that was then offering itself to
mankind through their means." 

Further on he says: 

"There are two distinct classes of thoughts; those produced by reflection,
and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord. I have always made it
a rule to treat these voluntary visitors with civility, and it is from them
I have acquired all the knowledge that I have." 

These "voluntary visitors" were injected into his brain by the Adepts,
Theosophists. Seeing that a new order of ages was about to commence and that
there was a new chance for freedom and the brotherhood of man, they laid
before the eye of Thomas Paine - who they knew could be trusted to stand
almost alone with the lamp of truth in his hand amidst others who in "times
that tried men's souls" quaked with fear, - a "vast scene opening itself to
Mankind in the affairs of America." 

The result was the Declaration, the Constitution for America. And as if to
give point to these words and to his declaration that he saw this vast scene
opening itself, this new order of ages, the design of the reverse side of
the U.S. great seal is a pyramid whose capstone is removed with the blazing
eye in a triangle over it dazzling the sight, above it are the words "the
heavens approve," while underneath appears the startling sentence "a new
order of ages." 

That he had in his mind's eye a new order of ages we cannot doubt upon
reading in his "RIGHTS OF MAN," Part 2, Chap. 2, 

"no beginning could be made in Asia, Africa or Europe, to reform the
political condition of man. She (America) made a stand not for herself
alone, but for the world, and looked beyond the advantage she could

In Chap. 4, 

"The case and circumstances of America present themselves as in the
beginning of a world...there is a morning of reason rising upon man, on the
subject of Government, that has not appeared before." 

The design "of the seal" was not an accident, but was actually intended to
symbolize the building and firm founding of a new order of ages. It was
putting into form the idea which by means of a "voluntary visitor" was
presented to the mind of Thomas Paine, of a vast scene opening itself, the
beginning in America of "a new order of ages." 

That side of the seal has never been cut or used, and at this day the side
in use has not the sanction of law. In the spring of 1841, when Daniel
Webster was Secretary of State, a new seal was cut, and instead of the eagle
holding in his sinister claw 13 arrows as intended, he holds only six. Not
only was this change unauthorized, but the cause for it is unknown. 2 When
the other side is cut and used, will not the new order of ages have actually
been established? 

More then is claimed for the Theosophical Adepts than the changing of baser
metal into gold, or the possession of such a merely material thing as the
elixir of life. They watch the progress of man and help him on in his
halting flight up the steep plane of progress. They hovered over Washington,
Jefferson, and all the other brave freemasons who dared to found a free
Government in the West, which could be pure from the dross of dogmatism,
they cleared their minds, inspired their pens and left upon the great seal
of this mighty nation the memorial of their presence. 

Theosophist, October, 1883


Some of the principles guiding Masters' work and attitudes are revealed in
some extracts from:

(could they foresee the Internet ? )


W. Q. Judge

Modern science is a bugbear for many a good Theosophist, causing him to hide
his real opinions for fear they should conflict with science. 

But the latter is an unstable quantity, always shifting its ground, although
never devoid of an overbearing assurance, even when it takes back what it
had previously asserted. 

The views of scientific men have frequently been brought forward as a strong
objection to the possibility of the existence of Adepts, Masters, Mahatmas,
perfected men who have a complete knowledge of all that modern science is
endeavoring to discover... [let us] discover what is the attitude of the
Adepts towards modern science. ...

... the persons to whom the letters were written had a high respect for
modern science; that they would have liked to see science convinced of the
machinery of the occult Cosmos ... [and] they thought if modern scientific
men could be convinced by extraordinary phenomena or otherwise about the
Masters and Theosophy, very beneficial results to the Society would follow.

The radical difference between occult and modern materialistic science is
that the former has philanthropy as its basis, whereas the latter has no
such basis. 

Let us now see what can be discovered from the letters written by K.H. to
Mr. Sinnett and another. 

Mr. Sinnett writes, 

"The idea I had especially in my mind when I wrote the letter above referred
to was that, of all tests of phenomena one could wish for, the best would be
the production in our presence in India of a copy of the LONDON TIMES of
that day's date. With such a piece of evidence in my hand, I argued, I would
undertake to convert everybody in Simla who was capable of linking two ideas
together, to a belief in the possibility of obtaining by occult agency
physical results which were beyond the control of modern science. "

To this he received a reply from K.H., who said: 

"Precisely because the test of the London newspaper would close the mouths
of the sceptics it is inadmissible. See it in what light you will, the world
is yet in its first stage of disenthralment, hence unprepared. . . . But as
on the one hand science would find itself unable in its present state to
account for the wonders given in its name, and on the other the ignorant
masses would still be left to view the phenomenon in the light of a miracle,
every one who would be thus made a witness to the occurrence would be thrown
off his balance and the result would be deplorable."

In this is the first indication of the philanthropic basis ... For here we
see that the Adepts would not do that which might result in the mental
confusion of so many persons as are included in "ignorant masses." He then
goes on to say: 

"Were we to accede to your desires, know you really what consequence would
follow in the trail of success? The inexorable shadow which follows all
human innovations moves on, yet few are they who are ever conscious of its
approach and dangers. What are they then to expect who would offer to the
world an innovation which, owing to human ignorance, if believed in will
surely be attributed to those dark agencies that two-thirds of humanity
believe in and dread as yet?" 

...The object of the Adepts being to increase the knowledge of the greater
number and to destroy dogmatism with superstition, they will not do that
which would in any way tend to defeat what they have in view... the Adept
then goes on to show that the number of persons free from ignorant prejudice
and religious bigotry is still very small. 

It is very true that such an extraordinary thing as the production of the
TIMES in India across several thousand miles of ocean might convince even
hundreds of scientific men of the possibility of this being done by a
knowledge of law ...

The Adept hints that "the inexorable shadow that follows all human
innovations" would be a sudden blazing forth again of ignorant superstition
among the masses, which, gaining force, and sweeping all other men along in
the immense current thus generated, the very purpose of the phenomenon would
then be negatived... the Adept writes ... on, 

"As for human nature in general, it is the same now as it was a million
years ago, prejudice based upon selfishness, a general unwillingness to give
up an established order of things for new modes of life and thought - and
occult study requires all that and much more - proud and stubborn resistance
to truth if it but upsets the previous notion of things: such are the
characteristics of the age. However successful, the danger would be growing
proportionately with success, that is, the danger would grow in proportion
to the success of the phenomenon produced. 

No choice would soon remain but to go on, ever crescendo, or to fall, in
this endless struggle with prejudice and ignorance, killed by your own
weapons. Test after test would be required and would have to be furnished;
every subsequent phenomenon expected to be more marvelous than the preceding
one. Your daily remark is that one cannot be expected to believe unless he
becomes an eye-witness. Would the lifetime of a man suffice to satisfy the
whole world of skeptics? . . . In common with many you blame us for our
great secrecy. Yet we know something of human nature, for the experience of
long centuries, aye of ages, has taught us. And we know that so long as
science has anything to learn, and a shadow of religious dogmatism lingers
in the hearts of the multitudes, the world's prejudices have to be conquered
step by step, not at a rush." ...

Proceeding with this matter to another letter, the Adept says: 

"We will be at cross purposes in our correspondence until it has been made
entirely plain that occult science has its own methods of research as fixed
and arbitrary as the methods of its antithesis, physical science, are in
their way. If the latter has its dicta, so also has the former."

He then goes on to show that the person desiring to know their science must
abide by their rules, and taking his correspondent as an illustration, he

"You seek all this, and yet, as you say yourself, hitherto you have not
found sufficient reasons to even give up your modes of life, directly
hostile to such communication." ...

He then goes on to analyze the motives of his correspondent, and these
motives would be the same as those impelling science to investigate. They
are described to be the desire to have positive proofs of forces in nature
unknown to science, the hope to appropriate them, the wish to demonstrate
their existence ... are selfish from the standpoint of the Adepts, and this
again emphasizes the philanthropy behind occult science. ...he says: 

"The highest aspiration for the welfare of humanity become tainted with
selfishness if in the mind of the philanthropist there lurks a shadow of a
desire for self-benefit, or a tendency to do injustice, even where these
exist unconsciously to himself. Yet you have ever discussed but to put down
the idea of a universal brotherhood, questioned its usefulness, and advised
to remodel the Theosophical Society on the principle of a college for the
special study of occultism." 

The Adept makes it very clear that such a proposition could not be
entertained, showing once more that the Brotherhood, and not the study of
secret laws of nature, is the real object the inner Lodge has in view. 

Brotherhood as an object is the highest philanthropy, and especially so when
connected with science. 

In another letter, written after consultation with much higher Adepts, who
have never been mentioned and who are utterly unknown even to Theosophists,
being too high to be encountered, he takes up the same subject, saying, 

"In conformity with exact science you define but one cosmic energy, and see
no difference between the energy expended by the traveller who pushes aside
the bush that obstructs his path and the scientific experimenter who expends
an equal amount of energy in setting the pendulum in motion. We do; for we
know there is a world of difference between the two. The one uselessly
dissipates and scatters force; the other concentrates and stores it; and
here please understand that I do not refer to the relative utility of the
two, as one might imagine, but only to the fact that in the one case there
is brute force flung out without any transmutation of that brute energy into
the higher potential form of spiritual dynamics, and in the other there is
just that. . . . 

Now for us poor unknown philanthropists no fact of either of these sciences
is interesting except in the degree of its potentiality for moral results,
and in the ratio of its usefulness to mankind. And what, in its proud
isolation, can be more utterly indifferent to every one and everything, or
more bound to nothing but the selfish requisites for its advancement, than
this materialistic science of fact? 

May I ask, then, what have the laws of Faraday, Tyndall, or others to do
with philanthropy in their abstract relations with humanity, viewed as an
intelligent whole? What care they for man as an isolated atom of this great
and harmonious whole, even though they may be sometimes of practical use to
him? Cosmic energy is something eternal and incessant; matter is
indestructible: and there stand the scientific facts. Doubt them and you are
an ignoramus; deny them, a dangerous lunatic, a bigot: pretend to improve
upon the theories, an impertinent charlatan. And yet even these scientific
facts never suggested any proof to the world of experimenters that nature
consciously prefers that matter should be indestructible under organic
rather than inorganic forms, and that she works slowly but incessantly
towards the realization of this object - the evolution of conscious life out
of unconscious material. . . . Still less does exact science perceive that
while the building ant, the busy bee, the nidifacient bird, accumulates each
in its own humble way as much cosmic energy in its potential form as a
Hayden, a Plato, or a ploughman turning his furrow. . . . The hunter who
kills game for his pleasure or profit, the positivist who applies his
intellect to proving that plus multiplied by plus equals minus, are wasting
and scattering energy no less than the tiger which springs upon its prey.
They all rob nature instead of enriching her, and will all in the degree of
their intelligence find themselves accountable. . . . Exact experimental
science has nothing to do with morality, virtue, philanthropy - therefore
can make no claim upon our help until it blends itself with metaphysics.
Being a cold classification of facts outside of man, and existing before and
after him, her domain of usefulness ceases for us at the outer boundary of
these facts; and whatever the inferences and results for humanity from the
materials acquired by her method, she little cares. Therefore as our sphere
lies entirely outside of hers, -- as far as the path of Uranus is outside
the earth's, -- we distinctly refuse to be broken on any wheel of her
construction. . . . The truths and mysteries of Occultism constitute,
indeed, a body of the highest spiritual importance, at once profound and
practical for the world at-large, yet it is not as an addition to the
tangled mass of theory or speculation that they are being given to you, but
for their practical bearing on the interests of mankind." 

We have in these extracts a clear outline of the exact position of the
Adepts towards modern science ...Their attitude to modern science is ...they
consider modern science to be materialistic and also devoid of philanthropy.
This we must admit to be the case, and as the student who has had experience
in these matters knows for himself that the Adepts have the truth and
possess a knowledge of nature's laws, he approves of their refusing to come
down to science and of their demand that science must rise to them. 

He also knows that in the course of the cycles the mass of men will have
been educated and developed to such a position that a new school, at once
religious and scientific, will have possession of the earth and rule among
all men who possess civilization. 

Path, August, 1893


Best wishes,


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