April 2020 Newsletter

The following articles are reproduced from the April 2020 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.  


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 2020 for members only.


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 topics:


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 Definite Things.


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 mysteries 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 superior to that enjoyed by physicists of the ordinary type, and the grounds there are for bestowing the most respectful 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 modern science." 



Modern Insights into Reincarnation


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 area.


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. Due to the precautionary measures taken for COVID-19, this talk which was originally scheduled for April has been postponed. The new date will be advised when fixed.



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