TheosophyNZ, or the Theosophical Society in New Zealand has some basic goals.
- We are explorers, we endeavour to understand some of the hard questions of life, coming to a personal understanding of such questions as:
- Who am I?
- Why am I here?
- What is the purpose of life?
- We come together and share with others our understanding of life and its mysteries.
- We explore religions in a comparative manner so that we may reveal the essential teachings we find in them all. Most we find are very similar and lead us to see the common message.
- We also study modern science, psychology which gives us another insight into the nature of reality. Theosophy suggests that we are a mirror of the universes and thus in understanding the universe we learn to understand ourselves, or learning to understand ourselves we learn to understand the universe.
- We study nature and learn to understand its laws and its cycles which gives us insight into our own cycles.
- We study the mind and that which lies beyond the mind, which many Theosophers believe is our real self.
- We put into practice methods to help us understand all these things in our lives.
- We serve the world through our understanding that to change the world, to make it a better place, we must start with ourselves.
- We endeavour to put into place practices which harmonise with the laws of nature and the universe as we learn what they are through our own experience
These are some of the things that Theosophers do. However above all we hold to the important concept that each of us is a reflection of the universe itself. We all express an aspect of the universal reality which is unique to where we are on our journey in life today. We respect each person's journey, our expression of this being our understanding at this present point in time, based on our experiences which will continue to grow and develop. Above all we believe in the freedom of each person on their journey with each having the complete freedom to accept or reject whatever they will, as part of their theosophical journey. We do not judge anyone.
As individuals we can study theosophy of the ages, search through the myths, legends, the writings of the past, we search through modern science; we find that wisdom flows like a river from one generation to the next. Yet for the beginner it is not so easy to find. It requires effort to be able to distinguish the wisdom from the mental condition of life. It requires one to develop real discrimination between the false and the true wisdom.
Wisdom has been defined as an ability to make right choices, often these decisions are made without complete information. Yet, the wise men and women of history knew that we must turn to faculties beyond those of sense and reason in dealing with questions of truths and values. Feeling and intuition are as important faculties, as are sensation and intellect, if not more so. Is wisdom as easy as making good choices?
Theosophical wisdom points to realities exceeding the power of human words and concepts. Yet it employs words, for it indicates that the answer to the problems of human existence do lie, so to speak, in certain directions.[i]
These “words” that Robert Ellwood refers to, give us clues of how to look, where to focus attention and how to live to enable us to awaken an inner perception that can comprehend the realities of Theosophical Wisdom. Words themselves, for many of us, speak only to the rational mind where we look at their meanings to convey understanding; however in the universal language, words represent symbols which speak to a different faculty of comprehension from the rational mind when it is awakened. It is the awakening of this part of ourselves which is one of the first steps we take if we are to experience the Theosophical wisdom we talk of. Some of our original Theosophical texts and many of the Sacred Texts of the world give clear instructions of how to awake, how to centre our consciousness in our true Self. This awakening comes about through our ethic, the kind of life we live and the deliberate placement our attention – being mindful or fully present, as the Buddhists would say. For example, if our attention is constantly through our senses and rooted in desire, it becomes all but impossible to awaken because our senses move our attention to the world of the senses and away from our higher faculties. Our attention must be turned in a different direction and our focus moved to that which we have lost or is hidden in the shadows of our Self.
We use words to describe concepts like oneness, the unity of life, periodicity or the cycles of nature, karma: the universal law of balance or cause and effect. These give us some intellectual understanding of the deeper wisdom underlying Theosophy. How can we understand these concepts if we have not truly experienced them, perceived their reality?
We can look at the concept of periodicity or the law of cycles as an example. If we look at nature we see the ever-repeating cycles of summer, autumn, winter, spring. We look at the moon and we see how the phases of the moon’s cycles affect us psychologically, how the full moon affects our moods and emotions and how the new moon brings a calmness which quietens the mind and allows for focused meditation. When we look around us and observe nature, can we see the cycles of its separate parts? Even the concept of reincarnation is built upon this concept of periodicity, the continual cycle of birth, life, death, birth, life, death... always repeating; however never exactly the same, for there is also an aspect of growth, of evolution, of transformation in all this.
When it comes to theosophical principles there are many lists of the basic concepts. They do not all agree, however it is surprising how much commonality we do find in such lists which suggests that there are indeed some core ideas held by many of the people in the theosophical tradition.[ii] That there is a difference in the wording of these lists shows that theosophy is understood and expressed in different ways and from individual perspectives.
Modern theosophy was introduced to the world by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky with three fundamental propositions put forward at the beginning of her work, The Secret Doctrine where she suggests we endeavour to fathom the depths of theosophy. Briefly they are summarised by Robert Ellwood as follows:[iii
Ellwood gives us a list, which is central to today’s approach to theosophy, and includes such things as:
- We are part of one incomprehensible Reality which underlines and unites all that is or can be.
- Galaxies, solar systems and planets evolve over immense cycles.
- The individual human, sometimes called ‘The Pilgrim’, moves through these galaxies and worlds over many lifetimes in response to karma and the necessity of experiencing many aspects of reality, before returning to the Source, the One.
- There are those who are well advanced on the path of human evolution who have amongst them a reservoir of the wisdom of the world. This wisdom is accessible to all earnest seekers.
- Growth is more than intellectual learning. It involves also initiation or inward transformation and living in accordance to universal harmony, and the realisation of our Unity.
Within the above lie some core foundations of Theosophy, which we investigate and endeavour to understand; for example, reincarnation, evolution of humanity, the growth of the soul, self-transformation, the conditioned nature of our personalities.
If one pursues these studies and investigates with honesty and depth, one will come to realise, in one’s own way, the Unity of all in the universe and the depth of awakened consciousness; and further come to understand for themselves, the broad consensus points of the traditions. The point to understand is that these are the truths that one must learn for oneself rather than be accepted through dogma. Taking them simply on the authority of others, or of an organisation, is accepting them in blind faith where one does not know for themselves, what is true or not. We must investigate.
Theosophical teachings point to realities exceeding the power of human words and concepts. Theosophy is not the final Truth, but points the seeker towards Truth and each must find this for themselves.
- Theosophy: A modern expression of the ages; Robert Ellwood; First Edition, p.19
- One of the many lists of Theosophical Principles http://www.blavatsky.net/theosophy/theosophy-checklist.htm
- Theosophy: A modern expression of the ages; Robert Ellwood; First Edition, p.20