What Is The Theosophical Society?
The Theosophical Society welcomes students or seekers, belonging to any religion or to none, who are in sympathy with its Objects.
It encourages open-minded-enquiry into the deeper aspects of life. The Society was founded in 1875 in New York, with international headquarters at Adyar, South India. It has been in existence in Australia since 1895.
The Society’s substantial impact on the cultural and intellectual life of Australia has been recognized by the National Library of Australia and the National Museum. Theosophy is mentioned in Kylie Tennant’s Ride on Stranger (1943) and Summer Locke Elliot’s Careful He Might Hear You (1963). Alfred Deakin, Australia’s second prime Minister, was a member of the Society, as was Professor John Smith, one of the founding Chancellors of The University of Sydney.
What is Theosophy?
H. P. Blavatsky, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, pointed out that it was formed to assist in showing that such a thing as Theosophy exists. But what is Theosophy?
The term has various interpretations and levels of meaning. Within the Theosophical Society (TS) it is used principally in two ways:
- To mean divine wisdom, from the Greek, theosophia
- To mean a set of teachings on the subject of divine wisdom
In the Western world, as a system of thought Theosophy can be traced back to the third century AD when the Alexandrian philosopher, Ammonius Saccas, founded the Eclectic Theosophical System based on what has subsequently been called Neo-Platonism. The teachings of this system were summarised by Madame Blavatsky as:
- One absolute, incomprehensible and supreme Deity, or infinite essence, which is the root of all nature, and of all that is visible and invisible
- Humanity’s immortal nature, identical in essence with the Universal Soul
- Theurgy, or divine work, which entails making oneself as pure as the incorporeal beings so that “the gods” might impart the Divine mysteries
An Eastern word used for Theosophy is Brahmavidya, ‘divine wisdom’. Its etymology suggests a way of seeing which is constantly growing and expanding.