H. P. Blavatsky declared quite candidly to theosophists that Theosophy, alone, would enable them to form a nucleus of a universal brotherhood of humanity and thus prevent mankind from helplessly succumbing in new depths of materialism. Nothing less than universal brotherhood, she suggested, will serve as a theosophical ideal, but the remoteness of the goal in no way implies vagueness as to ways and means. The precise value of the theosophical philosophy—and the real justification for its existence—lies in its power to connect every human action and thought with its consequences near and distant, and therefore to provide each man with the materials for judging which motives and lines of conduct will infallibly contribute to the good of all.
In the process of recording the general doctrines of Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky went far beyond the exposition of intellectual abstractions. She brought the theosophical ideas to life in the world. Setting living truths among the manifold disguises and dissemblances of popular conventions, H.P.B. revealed the mockery of appearances and invited the strong-minded to look beneath the veneer of “culture.” The component parts of the race mind—its strengths and weaknesses, its false ideas and perverted truths, its buried knowledge and forgotten ideals—were precipitated out for the individual to weigh and measure against as much of theosophical truth as he could put to use. From the consideration of tendencies in thought and action of people as a whole, the theosophist might gradually gain the objectivity with which to approach the meaning of his own karma and to find in it nothing unique, except the particular combination of habits, tendencies, mistakes, and attitudes he formerly studied as social phenomena. Then, when ready, he could take up the ancient challenge: the preservation of justice in the moral nature, the destruction of wickedness in human nature, and the establishment of righteousness in his whole being.
The messenger of Theosophy had the task of explaining, to an era of infinitely specialized sciences, endlessly ramified religions, and uncounted individual philosophies, the meaning of a single, changeless body of laws. How describe, even with the analogy of mathematics, a system of thought which is studied from center to circumference, beginning with universal principles that are the most transcendent abstractions the human mind can conceive? How convey the radical difference between a psychic “confession” and the method of self-study the theosophist will encounter? The average man can scarcely be induced to feel responsible for his reactions to heredity and environment: how is he to appreciate what it means to work on the hypothesis that the Ego is accountable for the whole of its heredity and for every influence operating through its conditioned existence?
These difficulties are also met, in smaller ways, by the individual student. In discussing Theosophy, he is faced with the problem of somehow indicating the universal purview of the philosophy, without making it seem just another sweeping assertion about the nature of things. He would like to express its power to engage the whole man in an integrated search for knowledge, but, by those who have not so engaged themselves, will he not be interpreted as advocating an intense sectarianism under a different guise? Again, the student is sometimes at a loss to show how Theosophy, far from narrowing his horizon and confining his interests, has extended both, in directions he would otherwise never have considered exploring. So naturally does the theosophical literature expand his acquaintance with all branches of learning, that the effect is not of distinct intellectual acquirement, and many times is not respected by the specialist whose whole concern is with details and particulars. Theosophy is an attitude of mind toward all events and ideas, no matter how mundane, and theosophical study sharpens the perception of the necessary interrelations among them all.
It is noticed, for example, that to the theosophist the finding of ancient landmarks of bygone civilizations is not an obscure archaeological detail, but new material relating to human cycles and the reincarnation of peoples; he is aware that The Secret Doctrine weaves many such discoveries into the history of man’s prior lives and oldest traditions. Tales of extraordinary or fantastic customs reported in local myths about an obscure community recall fragments from the thousand-and-one illustrations used in Isis Unveiled to demonstrate the psychic, mental and spiritual potentialities of man’s being. The Sunday magazine section spins an improbable “yarn” about a trip to the moon—but Patanjali’s Yogi reached the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars without moving at all. The repercussions of the American commerce in African slaves continue to the seventh generation, and beyond, but a footnote in The Key to Theosophy furnishes a compulsive and unforgettable commentary on the initial karma of the tragic social war.
“Theosophy” is omnipresent to the theosophical student. Policies and programs he may once have thought outside his responsibility have, in view of the Three Objects, become matters needing his attention and decision. Capital punishment and the colonial policy; theories of education and the psychology of medicine; juvenile delinquency and the theory of civil rights; the ethics of science; para-psychological research and unregulated hypnotism; the sectarian struggle for power and the new victories of materialism — none of these issues were neglected by the Teachers of Theosophy. Nor did H. P. Blavatsky and Wm. Q. Judge wait for a social problem to be raised in their “personal” lives. It was enough that the problem existed, recognized, it might be, by a handful of reformers, or not yet recognized at all. They saw in advance what would be its future influence. The original magazine literature of Theosophy, in especial, is a consistent demonstration that every human difficulty, if met with the attitude as well as the principles of philosophy, will educate the conscience and deepen the sympathies that bring brotherhood into the civilizations of men.
Theosophy alone can eradicate the perversity of the various doctrines of special privilege and “spiritual” favoritism which have, in H.P.B.’s words, “become ingrained into the innermost life of the Western nations.” Theosophy alone, by its fundamental teaching of the one origin of all mankind, can remove, she said, “the causes which make Universal Brotherhood a Utopia at present.” These declarations, supported by the evidence assembled in theosophical writings, are the warrant for naming Theosophy intrinsically “the most serious movement of this age.” The promulgation of its doctrines is not for the sake of converts nor for the multiplication of believers. Nothing is added to the usefulness of Theosophy by those who regard it as something to be believed or disbelieved. It is discovered, proved and understood in its real nature only by the few who see through it their responsibility to Humanity, and who work with it for the benefit of others.