The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Theosophists and Members of the T.S.
Q. This applies to lay members, as I understand. And what of those who pursue
the esoteric study of Theosophy; are they the real Theosophists?
A. Not necessarily, until they have proven themselves to be such. They have
entered the inner group and pledged themselves to carry out, as strictly as they
can, the rules of the occult body. This is a difficult undertaking, as the
foremost rule of all is the entire renunciation of one's personality-i.e., a
pledged member has to become a thorough altruist, never to think of himself, and to forget his own vanity and pride in the thought of the good of his
fellow-creatures, besides that of his fellow-brothers in the esoteric circle. He
has to live, if the esoteric instructions shall profit him, a life of abstinence
in everything, of self-denial and strict morality, doing his duty by all men.
The few real Theosophists in the T.S. are among these members.
A. This does not imply that outside of the T.S. and the inner circle, there are
no Theosophists; for there are, and more than people know of; certainly far more than are found among the lay members of the T.S.
Q. Then what is the good of joining the so-called Theosophical Society in that
case? Where is the incentive?
A. None, except the advantage of getting esoteric instructions, the genuine
doctrines of the "Wisdom-Religion," and if the real program is carried out,
deriving much help from mutual aid and sympathy. Union is strength and harmony, and well-regulated simultaneous efforts produce wonders. This has been the secret of all associations and communities since mankind existed.
Q. But why could not a man of well-balanced mind and singleness of purpose, one, say, of indomitable energy and perseverance, become an Occultist and even an Adept if he works alone?
A. He may; but there are ten thousand chances against one that he will fail. For
one reason out of many others, no books on Occultism or Theurgy exist in our day which give out the secrets of alchemy or medieval Theosophy in plain language.
All are symbolical or in parables; and as the key to these has been lost for
ages in the West, how can a man learn the correct meaning of what he is reading
and studying? Therein lies the greatest danger, one that leads to unconscious
black magic or the most helpless mediumship. He who has not an Initiate for a
master had better leave the dangerous study alone. Look around you and observe.
While two-thirds of civilized society ridicule the mere notion that there is
anything in Theosophy, Occultism, Spiritualism, or in the Cabala, the other
third is composed of the most heterogeneous and opposite elements. Some believe in the mystical, and even in the supernatural (!), but each believes in his own way. Others will rush single-handed into the study of the Cabala, Psychism,
Mesmerism, Spiritualism, or some form or another of Mysticism. Result: no two
men think alike, no two are agreed upon any fundamental occult principles,
though many are those who claim for themselves the ultima thule of knowledge,
and would make outsiders believe that they are full-blown adepts. Not only is
there no scientific and accurate knowledge of Occultism accessible in the
West-not even of true astrology, the only branch of Occultism which, in its
exoteric teachings, has definite laws and a definite system-but no one has any
idea of what real Occultism means. Some limit ancient wisdom to the cabala and
the Jewish Zohar, which each interprets in his own way according to the
dead-letter of the Rabbinical methods. Others regard Swedenborg or Boëhme as the ultimate expressions of the highest wisdom; while others again see in mesmerism the great secret of ancient magic. One and all of those who put their theory into practice are rapidly drifting, through ignorance, into black magic. Happy are those who escape from it, as they have neither test nor criterion by which they can distinguish between the true and the false.
Q. Are we to understand that the inner group of the T.S. claims to learn what it
does from real initiates or masters of esoteric wisdom?
A. Not directly. The personal presence of such masters is not required. Suffice
it if they give instructions to some of those who have studied under their
guidance for years, and devoted their whole lives to their service. Then, in
turn, these can give out the knowledge so imparted to others, who had no such
opportunity. A portion of the true sciences is better than a mass of undigested
and misunderstood learning. An ounce of gold is worth a ton of dust.
Q. But how is one to know whether the ounce is real gold or only a counterfeit?
A. A tree is known by its fruit, a system by its results. When our opponents are
able to prove to us that any solitary student of Occultism throughout the ages
has become a saintly adept like Ammonius Saccas, or even a Plotinus, or a
Theurgist like Iamblichus, or achieved feats such as are claimed to have been
done by St. Germain, without any master to guide him, and all this without being
a medium, a self-deluded psychic, or a charlatan-then shall we confess ourselves
mistaken. But till then, Theosophists prefer to follow the proven natural law of
the tradition of the Sacred Science. There are mystics who have made great
discoveries in chemistry and physical sciences, almost bordering on alchemy and Occultism; others who, by the sole aid of their genius, have rediscovered
portions, if not the whole, of the lost alphabets of the "Mystery language," and
are, therefore, able to read correctly Hebrew scrolls; others still, who, being
seers, have caught wonderful glimpses of the hidden secrets of Nature. But all
these are specialists. One is a theoretical inventor, another a Hebrew, i.e.,a
Sectarian Cabalist, a third a Swedenborg of modern times, denying all and
everything outside of his own particular science or religion. Not one of them
can boast of having produced a universal or even a national benefit thereby, not
even to himself. With the exception of a few healers-of that class which the
Where are the Chaldeans of old, those who wrought marvelous cures,
"not by charms but by simples"? Where is an Apollonius of Tyana, who
healed the sick and raised the dead under any climate and circumstances? We
know some specialists of the former class in
Q. Is the production of such healing adepts the aim of Theosophy?
A. Its aims are several; but the most important of all are those which are
likely to lead to the relief of human suffering under any or every form, moral
as well as physical. And we believe the former to be far more important than the
latter. Theosophy has to inculcate ethics; it has to purify the soul, if it
would relieve the physical body, whose ailments, save cases of accidents, are
all hereditary. It is not by studying Occultism for selfish ends, for the
gratification of one's personal ambition, pride, or vanity, that one can ever
reach the true goal: that of helping suffering mankind. Nor is it by studying
one single branch of the esoteric philosophy that a man becomes an Occultist,
but by studying, if not mastering, them all.
Q. Is help, then, to reach this most important aim, given only to those who
study the esoteric sciences?
A. Not at all. Every lay member is entitled to general instruction if he only
wants it; but few are willing to become what is called "working members," and
most prefer to remain the drones of Theosophy. Let it be understood that private research is encouraged in the T.S., provided it does not infringe the limit
which separates the exoteric from the esoteric, the blind from the conscious
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