The Key to Theosophy



Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

1831 -1891



The Key to Theosophy


Helena Petrovna Blavatsky


Key to Theosophy Index



On Self-Improvement



Q. Is moral elevation, then, the principal thing insisted upon in your Society?

A. Undoubtedly! He who would be a true Theosophist must bring himself to live as


Q. If so, then, as I remarked before, the behavior of some members strangely

belies this fundamental rule.

A. Indeed it does. But this cannot be helped among us, any more than amongst

those who call themselves Christians and act like fiends. This is no fault of

our statutes and rules, but that of human nature. Even in some exoteric public

branches, the members pledge themselves on their "Higher Self" to live the life

prescribed by Theosophy. They have to bring their Divine Self to guide their

every thought and action, every day and at every moment of their lives. A true

Theosophist ought "to deal justly and walk humbly."


Q. What do you mean by this?

A. Simply this: the one self has to forget itself for the many selves. Let me

answer you in the words of a true Philaletheian, an F.T.S., who has beautifully

expressed it in The Theosophist:


What every man needs first is to find himself, and then take an honest inventory

of his subjective possessions, and, bad or bankrupt as it may be, it is not

beyond redemption if we set about it in earnest.

But how many do? All are willing to work for their own development and progress; very few for those of others. To quote the same writer again:


Men have been deceived and deluded long enough; they must break their idols, put away their shams, and go to work for themselves-nay, there is one little word

too much or too many, for he who works for himself had better not work at all;

rather let him work himself for others, for all. For every flower of love and

charity he plants in his neighbor's garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from

his own, and so this garden of the gods-Humanity-shall blossom as a rose. In all

Bibles, all religions, this is plainly set forth-but designing men have at first

misinterpreted and finally emasculated, materialized, besotted them. It does not

require a new revelation. Let every man be a revelation unto himself. Let once

man's immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body, drive out the

money-changers and every unclean thing, and his own divine humanity will redeem him, for when he is thus at one with himself he will know the "builder of the Temple."


Q. This is pure Altruism, I confess.

A. It is. And if only one Fellow of the T.S. out of ten would practice it ours

would be a body of elect indeed. But there are those among the outsiders who

will always refuse to see the essential difference between Theosophy and the

Theosophical Society, the idea and its imperfect embodiment. Such would visit

every sin and shortcoming of the vehicle, the human body, on the pure spirit

which sheds thereon its divine light. Is this just to either? They throw stones

at an association that tries to work up to, and for the propagation of, its

ideal with most tremendous odds against it. Some vilify the Theosophical Society only because it presumes to attempt to do that in which other systems-Church and State Christianity preeminently-have failed most egregiously; others because they would fain preserve the existing state of things: Pharisees and Sadducees in the seat of Moses, and publicans and sinners revelling in high places, as under the Roman Empire during its decadence. Fair-minded people, at any rate, ought to remember that the man who does all he can, does as much as he who has achieved the most, in this world of relative possibilities. This is a simple truism, an axiom supported for believers in the Gospels by the parable of the talents given by their Master: the servant who doubled his two talents was

rewarded as much as that other fellow-servant who had received five. To every

man it is given "according to his several ability."


Q. Yet it is rather difficult to draw the line of demarcation between the

abstract and the concrete in this case, as we have only the latter to form our

judgment by.

A. Then why make an exception for the T.S.? Justice, like charity, ought to

begin at home. Will you revile and scoff at the "Sermon on the Mount" because

your social, political and even religious laws have, so far, not only failed to

carry out its precepts in their spirit, but even in their dead letter? Abolish

the oath in Courts, Parliament, Army and everywhere, and do as the Quakers do,

if you will call yourselves Christians. Abolish the Courts themselves, for if

you would follow the Commandments of Christ, you have to give away your coat to him who deprives you of your cloak, and turn your left cheek to the bully who smites you on the right. "Resist not evil, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you," for "whosoever shall break one of the least of these Commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven," and "whosoever shall say 'Thou fool' shall be in danger of hell fire." And why should you judge, if you would not be judged in your turn? Insist that between Theosophy and the Theosophical Society there is no difference, and forthwith you lay the system of Christianity and its very essence open to the same charges, only in a more serious form.


Q. Why more serious?

A. Because, while the leaders of the Theosophical Movement, recognizing fully

their shortcomings, try all they can do to amend their ways and uproot the evil

existing in the Society; and while their rules and bylaws are framed in the

spirit of Theosophy, the Legislators and the Churches of nations and countries

which call themselves Christian do the reverse. Our members, even the worst

among them, are no worse than the average Christian. Moreover, if the Western

Theosophists experience so much difficulty in leading the true Theosophical

life, it is because they are all the children of their generation. Every one of

them was a Christian, bred and brought up in the sophistry of his Church, his

social customs, and even his paradoxical laws. He was this before he became a

Theosophist, or rather, a member of the Society of that name, as it cannot be

too often repeated that between the abstract ideal and its vehicle there is a

most important difference.



The Abstract and the Concrete


Q. Please elucidate this difference a little more.

A. The Society is a great body of men and women, composed of the most

heterogeneous elements. Theosophy, in its abstract meaning, is Divine Wisdom, or the aggregate of the knowledge and wisdom that underlie the Universe-the

homogeneity of eternal good; and in its concrete sense it is the sum total of

the same as allotted to man by nature, on this earth, and no more. Some members earnestly endeavor to realize and, so to speak, to objectivize Theosophy in their lives; while others desire only to know of, not to practice it; and others still may have joined the Society merely out of curiosity, or a passing

interest, or perhaps, again, because some of their friends belong to it. How,

then, can the system be judged by the standard of those who would assume the

name without any right to it? Is poetry or its muse to be measured only by those

would-be poets who afflict our ears? The Society can be regarded as the

embodiment of Theosophy only in its abstract motives; it can never presume to

call itself its concrete vehicle so long as human imperfections and weaknesses

are all represented in its body; otherwise the Society would be only repeating

the great error and the outflowing sacrilege of the so-called Churches of

Christ. If Eastern comparisons may be permitted, Theosophy is the shoreless

ocean of universal truth, love, and wisdom, reflecting its radiance on the

earth, while the Theosophical Society is only a visible bubble on that

reflection. Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible, and its Society

human nature trying to ascend to its divine parent. Theosophy, finally, is the

fixed eternal sun, and its Society the evanescent comet trying to settle in an

orbit to become a planet, ever revolving within the attraction of the sun of

truth. It was formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy

exists, and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its

eternal verities.


Q. I thought you said you had no tenets or doctrines of your own?

A. No more we have. The Society has no wisdom of its own to support or teach. It is simply the storehouse of all the truths uttered by the great seers,

initiates, and prophets of historic and even prehistoric ages; at least, as many

as it can get. Therefore, it is merely the channel through which more or less of

truth, found in the accumulated utterances of humanity's great teachers, is

poured out into the world.


Q. But is such truth unreachable outside of the society? Does not every Church

claim the same?

A. Not at all. The undeniable existence of great initiates-true "Sons of

God"-shows that such wisdom was often reached by isolated individuals, never,

however, without the guidance of a master at first. But most of the followers of

such, when they became masters in their turn, have dwarfed the Catholicism of

these teachings into the narrow groove of their own sectarian dogmas. The

commandments of a chosen master alone were then adopted and followed, to the exclusion of all others-if followed at all, note well, as in the case of the

Sermon on the Mount. Each religion is thus a bit of the divine truth, made to

focus a vast panorama of human fancy which claimed to represent and replace that truth.


Q. But Theosophy, you say, is not a religion?

A. Most assuredly it is not, since it is the essence of all religion and of

absolute truth, a drop of which only underlies every creed. To resort once more

to metaphor. Theosophy, on earth, is like the white ray of the spectrum, and

every religion only one of the seven prismatic colors. Ignoring all the others,

and cursing them as false, every special colored ray claims not only priority,

but to be that white ray itself, and anathematizes even its own tints from light

to dark, as heresies. Yet, as the sun of truth rises higher and higher on the

horizon of man's perception, and each colored ray gradually fades out until it

is finally reabsorbed in its turn, humanity will at last be cursed no longer

with artificial polarizations, but will find itself bathing in the pure

colorless sunlight of eternal truth. And this will be Theosophia.


Q. Your claim is, then, that all the great religions are derived from Theosophy,

and that it is by assimilating it that the world will be finally saved from the

curse of its great illusions and errors?

A. Precisely so. And we add that our Theosophical Society is the humble seed

which, if watered and left to live, will finally produce the Tree of Knowledge

of Good and Evil which is grafted on the Tree of Life Eternal. For it is only by

studying the various great religions and philosophies of humanity, by comparing

them dispassionately and with an unbiased mind, that men can hope to arrive at

the truth. It is especially by finding out and noting their various points of

agreement that we may achieve this result. For no sooner do we arrive-either by

study, or by being taught by someone who knows-at their inner meaning, than we find, almost in every case, that it expresses some great truth in Nature.


Q. We have heard of a Golden Age that was, and what you describe would be a

Golden Age to be realized at some future day. When shall it be?

A. Not before humanity, as a whole, feels the need of it. A maxim in the Persian

Javidan Khirad says:


Truth is of two kinds-one manifest and self-evident; the other demanding

incessantly new demonstrations and proofs.


It is only when this latter kind of truth becomes as universally obvious as it

is now dim, and therefore liable to be distorted by sophistry and casuistry; it

is only when the two kinds will have become once more one, that all people will

be brought to see alike.


Q. But surely those few who have felt the need of such truths must have made up their minds to believe in something definite? You tell me that, the Society

having no doctrines of its own, every member may believe as he chooses and

accept what he pleases. This looks as if the Theosophical Society was bent upon reviving the confusion of languages and beliefs of the Tower of Babel of old. Have you no beliefs in common?

A. What is meant by the Society having no tenets or doctrines of its own is,

that no special doctrines or beliefs are obligatory on its members; but, of

course, this applies only to the body as a whole. The Society, as you were told,

is divided into an outer and an inner body. Those who belong to the latter have,

of course, a philosophy, or-if you so prefer it-a religious system of their own.


Q. May we be told what it is?

A. We make no secret of it. It was outlined a few years ago in The Theosophist

and Esoteric Buddhism, and may be found still more elaborated in The Secret

Doctrine. It is based on the oldest philosophy of the world, called the

Wisdom-Religion or the Archaic Doctrine. If you like, you may ask questions and have them explained.





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