The Key to Theosophy Study Class
Publication in 1888 of The Secret Doctrine
with its comprehensive outline of the evolution of worlds and of man
opened wide the gates of spiritual enquiry. Not only did it compel
analysis of the religious and philosophic dogmas of past centuries, but
it also stimulated the aspirations of thousands of people in all walks
of life. As a result, H. P. Blavatsky found herself deluged with
requests for a simpler presentation of the ancient wisdom-religion. Her
response was The Key to Theosophy, the book which is the
subject of our study class that we plan to start in July 2011 for
The subtitle of the book was given by Madame Blavatsky as
‘Being a clear exposition, in the form of question and answer, of the
Ethics, Science, and Philosophy for the study of which The Theosophical
Society has been founded.’ There are several editions of the book
available today including the Adyar edition which is simplified by Clara
Codd and the Quest (Wheaton) edition abridged by Joy Mills. However, for
the purpose of the study class, we shall use the unabridged 307-page
edition as originally published by Madame Blavatsky in 1889.
The book was cleverly crafted as an imaginary dialogue
between an Enquirer and a Theosophist. Although the
technique of expounding profound subjects through question and answer is
not new, e.g. the Bhagavad Gita contains a dialogue wherein
Krishna and Arjuna have a discussion upon the highest
spiritual philosophy, the way that the questions were formulated in this
book provoke and stimulate the reader’s thoughts. Indeed, one learns as
much in the questions as in the answers given. No doubt much of the
questions were based on actual enquiries received by H. P. B. Still, one
cannot help but marvel at the presentation of the book. Serious students
will appreciate the scope and depth of the book. There is more than
meets the eye and the casual reader may well fail to assimilate the
contents of the book.
The study class will be conducted in the same format as
that of the Mahatma Letters. We shall have class reading of the
book, punctuated with explanations. Background and historical
information will be given where appropriate so that the students would
fully appreciate the questions and answers given. Where necessary,
mini-lectures will be given especially on the topics relating to
metaphysical teachings. We expect to take between 14 to 20 weeks to
complete the book.
The study class will take us through the following
Theosophy and the Theosophical Society—The Meaning
of the Name; The Policy of the Theosophical Society; The Wisdom-Religion
Esoteric in all Ages; Theosophy is not Buddhism.
Exoteric and Esoteric Theosophy—What the Modern
Theosophical Society is not; Theosophists and Members of the T. S.; The
Difference between Theosophy and Occultism; The Difference between
Theosophy and Spiritualism; Why is Theosophy accepted?
The Working System of the T. S.—The Objects of the
Society; The Common Origin of Man; Our other Objects; On the Sacredness
of the Pledge.
The Relations of the Theosophical Society to Theosophy—On
Self-Improvement; The Abstract and the Concrete.
The Fundamental Teachings of Theosophy—On God and
Prayer; Is it Necessary to Pray?; Prayer Kills Self-Reliance; On the
Source of the Human Soul; The Buddhist Teachings on the above.
Theosophical Teachings as to Nature and Man—The
Unity of All in All; Evolution and Illusion; On the Septenary
Constitution of our Planet; The Septenary Nature of Man; The Distinction
between Soul and Spirit; The Greek Teachings.
On the Various Post-mortem States—The Physical and
the Spiritual Man; Our Eternal Reward and Punishment; and on Nirvana; On
the Various Principles in Man.
On Reincarnation or Rebirth—What is Memory
according to Theosophical Teaching?; Why do we not Remember our Past
Lives?; On Individuality and Personality; On the Reward and Punishment
of the Ego.
On the Kama-Loka and Devachan—On the Fate of the
Lower Principles; Why Theosophists do not believe in the Return of Pure
“Spirits”; A few Words about the Skandhas; On Post-mortem and Post-natal
Consciousness; What is really meant by Annihilation; Definite Words for
On the Nature of our Thinking Principle—The
Mystery of the Ego; The Complex Nature of Manas; The Doctrine is Taught
in St. John’s Gospel.
On the Mysteries of Reincarnation—Periodical
Rebirths; What is Karma?; Who are Those who Know?; The Difference
between Faith and Knowledge; or, Blind and Reasoned Faith; Has God the
Right to Forgive?
What is Practical Theosophy—Duty; The Relations of
the T. S. to Political Reforms; On Self-Sacrifice; On Charity; Theosophy
for the Masses; How Members can Help the Society; What a Theosophist
ought not to do.
On the Misconceptions about the Theosophical Society—Theosophy
and Asceticism; Theosophy and Marriage; Theosophy and Education; Why,
then, is there so much Prejudice against the T. S.?; Is the Theosophical
Society a Money-making Concern?; The Working Staff of the T. S.
The “Theosophical Mahatmas”—Are They “Spirits of
Light” or “Goblins Damn’d”?; The Abuse of Sacred Names and Terms.
Conclusion—The Future of the Theosophical Society.
If you are interested in joining the study class which
will be conducted on Tuesday evenings, please enroll for it.
Please note that this study class is for members only.
The Occult World
In studying theosophy we are in fact gaining an insight into the
invisible worlds. We learn of the immutable Laws of Nature and we
realize the follies of ignorance. As we study the Mahatma Letters we
find ourselves, much like the recipients of the letters, bewildered by
the mysteries of occultism. It might be appropriate for us to review
what Mr. A. P. Sinnett wrote in his introduction in the book
The Occult World as he attempted to tell the world of the existence
and realities of the Mahatmas.
“THERE is a school of philosophy still in existence of
which modern culture has lost sight. Glimpses of it are discernible in
the ancient philosophies with which all educated men are familiar, but
these are hardly more intelligible than fragments of forgotten sculpture
- less so, for we comprehend the human form, and can give imaginary
limbs to a torso; but we can give no imaginary meaning to the hints
coming down to us from Plato or Pythagoras, pointing, for those who hold
the clue to their significance, to the secret knowledge of the ancient
world. Sidelights, nevertheless, may enable us to decipher such
language, and a very rich intellectual reward offers itself to persons
who are willing to attempt the investigation.
For, strange as the statement will appear at first sight,
modern metaphysics, and to a large extent modern physical science, have
been groping for centuries blindly after knowledge which occult
philosophy has enjoyed in full measure all the while. Owing to a train
of fortunate circumstances, I have come to know that this is the case; I
have come into some contact with persons who are heirs of a greater
knowledge concerning the mys teries of Nature and humanity than modern
culture has yet evolved; and my present wish is to sketch the out line
of this knowledge, to record with exactitude the experimental proofs I
have obtained that occult science invests its adepts with a control of
natural forces supe rior to that enjoyed by physicists of the ordinary
type, and the grounds there are for bestowing the most re spectful
consideration on the theories entertained by occult science concerning
the constitution and destinies of the human soul. Of course people in
the present day will be slow to believe that any knowledge worth con
sidering can be found outside the bright focus of Euro pean culture.
Modern science has accomplished grand results by the open method of
investigation, and is very impatient of the theory that persons who ever
attained to real knowledge, either in sciences or metaphysics, could
have been content to hide their light under a bushel. So the tendency
has been to conceive that occult philosophers of old - Egyptian priests,
Chaldean Magi, Essenes, Gnostics, theurgic Neo-Platonists, and the
rest-who kept their knowledge secret, must have adopted that policy to
conceal the fact that they knew very little. Mystery can only have been
loved by charlatans who wished to mystify. The conclusion is pardonable
from the modern point of view, but it has given rise to an im pression
in the popular mind that the ancient mystics have actually been turned
inside out, and found to know very little. This impression is absolutely
erroneous. Men of science in former ages worked in secret, and in stead
of publishing their discoveries, taught them in secret to carefully
selected pupils. Their motives for adopting that policy are readily
intelligible, even if the merits of the policy may seem still open to
discussion. At all events, their teaching has not been forgotten; it has
been transmitted by secret initiation to men of our own time, and while
its methods and its practical achieve ments remain secrets in their
hands, it is open to any patient and earnest student of the question to
satisfy himself that these methods are of supreme efficacy, and these
achievements far more admirable than any yet standing to the credit of
Reincarnation—fact or fallacy? This is a question asked
by many. Members of the Theosophical Society may or may not realize that
the doctrine of reincarnation was effectively introduced by the
Theosophical Society to the West in the 19th century. Indeed, it is a
fundamental tenet of theosophy. Some religions today have rejected
reincarnation as a possibility, rather regarding it as a heresy.
Nevertheless, more and more people are beginning to see the rationale
and reasonableness of the doctrine and how it fits in with the overall
scheme of things. Further, reincarnation is no longer confined to
religious and philosophical domains. Science, in particular medical
science, has made significant inroads into the study of reincarnation
and its possibility through extensive investigations of cases of
individuals with the memory of previous lives. The work of Dr. Ian
Stevenson of the University of Virginia is notable in this
Lily Chong has prepared a compelling presentation
on this important subject. She will cover both the theosophical
teachings as well as scientific evidence supportive of the doctrine of
reincarnation. Most people associate the doctrine of reincarnation with
Hinduism and Buddhism. But what about Christianity and Islam? The
speaker will provide evidence that the doctrine of reincarnation was
also taught in both the Christian and Islam religions. What about
reincarnation into animals as some religionists believe? Is it at all
possible that man could actually reincarnate into an animal? This
question will also be addressed by the speaker. Do we remember our past
lives? If so, how? Can there be conscious recovery of the memory of past
lives? What are the mechanics of reincarnation? All these questions will
be addressed by the speaker. Don’t miss this interesting talk on
Saturday, 18 June 2011 at 5 p.m. Kindly note that this programme is
for members only