[[This the New York Circular drafted mainly by Colonel H. S. Olcott and which was ready for distribution on May 3rd, 1878. A packet of these was given to Dr. H. J. Billing to take to London, and another to Countess Lydia de Pashoff to take to Japan. As Col. Olcott points out himself (Old Diary Leaves, I, 399-400): “In drafting the New York circular it occurred to me that the membership of, and supervising entities behind, the Society would be naturally grouped in three divisions, viz., new members not detached from worldly interests; pupils, like myself, who had withdrawn from the same or were ready to do so; and the adepts themselves, who, without being actually members, were at least connected with us and concerned in our work as a potential agency for the doing of spiritual good to the world. With H.P.B.’s concurrence I defined these three groups, calling them sections, and sub-dividing each into three degrees. This, of course, was in the hope and expectation that we should have more practical guidance in adjusting the several grades of members than we had had—or have since had, I may add.” Col. Olcott specifically states that the passage beginning: “As the highest development . . .” and ending with: “unseen universes” was written by H.P.B. The important words: “the Brotherhood of Humanity” were here used for the first time, and the Circular is devoid of any mention of Spiritualism or phenomena.—Boris de Zirkoff in Blavatsky, Collected Writings 1:375.]]
[Printed for the Information of Correspondents]
I. The Society was founded at the City of New York, in the year 1875.
II. Its officers are a President; two Vice-Presidents; a Corresponding Secretary; a Recording Secretary; a Treasurer; a Librarian; and Councillors.
III. At first it was an open body, but, later, it was reorganized on the principle of secrecy, experience having demonstrated the advisability of such a change.
IV. Its Fellows are known as Active, Corresponding and Honorary. Only those are admitted who are in sympathy with its objects, and sincerely desire to aid in the promotion of the same.
V. Its Fellowship is divided into three Sections, and each Section into three Degrees. All candidates for active fellowship are required to enter as probationers, in the Third Degree of the Third Section, and no fixed time is specified in which the new Fellow can advance from any lower to a higher degree; all depends upon merit. To be admitted into the highest degree, of the first section, the Theosophist must have become freed of every leaning toward any one form of religion in preference to another. He must be free from all exacting obligations to society, politics and family. He must be ready to lay down his life, if necessary, for the good of Humanity, and of a brother Fellow of whatever race, color or ostensible creed. He must renounce wine, and every other description of intoxicating beverages, and adopt a life of strict chastity. Those who have not yet wholly disenthralled themselves from religious prejudice, and other forms of selfishness, but have made a certain progress towards self-mastery and enlightenment, belong in the Second Section. The Third Section is probationary: its members can leave the Society at will, although the obligation assumed at entrance will continually bind them to absolute secrecy as to what may have been communicated under restrictions.
VI. The objects of the Society are various. It influences its fellows to acquire an intimate knowledge of natural law, especially its occult manifestations. As the highest development, physically and spiritually, on earth, of the Creative Cause, man should aim to solve the mystery of his being. He is the procreator of his species, physically, and having inherited the nature of the unknown but palpable Cause of his own creation, must possess in his inner, psychical self, this creative power in lesser degree. He should, therefore, study to develop his latent powers, and inform himself respecting the laws of magnetism, electricity and all other forms of force, whether of the seen or unseen universes. The Society teaches and expects its fellows to personally exemplify the highest morality and religious aspiration; to oppose the materialism of science and every form of dogmatic theology, especially the Christian, which the Chiefs of the Society regard as particularly pernicious; to make known among Western nations the long-suppressed facts about Oriental religious philosophies, their ethics, chronology, esoterism, symbolism; to counteract, as far as possible, the efforts of missionaries to delude the so-called “Heathen” and “Pagans” as to the real origin and dogmas of Christianity and the practical effects of the latter upon public and private character in so-called civilized countries; to disseminate a knowledge of the sublime teachings of that pure esoteric system of the archaic period, which are mirrored in the oldest Vedas, and in the philosophy of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster and Confucius; finally, and chiefly, to aid in the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity, wherein all good and pure men, of every race, shall recognize each other as the equal effects (upon this planet) of one Uncreate, Universal, Infinite, and Everlasting Cause.
VII. Persons of either sex are eligible.
VIII. There are branches of the parent Society in several countries of the East and West.
IX. No fees are exacted, but those who choose may contribute towards the Society’s expenses. No applicant is received because of his wealth or influence, nor rejected because of his poverty or obscurity.
Correspondence with the parent body may be addressed to “The Theosophical Society, New York.”