The Campbell Library Newsletter

The Campbell Theosophical Research Library

An Educational Resource of The Theosophical Society in Australia

No 13 — June 2006

Theosophy, Indology and Gnosticism

Throughout her voluminous writings, Madame Blavatsky made clear that what we today call Theosophy is indeed a vast, timeless tradition whose beginnings are lost in the mists of ancient times. She also referred to it as the “Wisdom-Tradition” and “Wisdom-Religion”, the word “wisdom” in both expressions being prominent. When she attempted to expound the core propositions of this tradition she suggested three which could be summed up as: the undivided oneness of all existence, the cyclic nature of all universal processes and the fundamental identity between the individual consciousness and the universal reality.

Indological studies cover a vast area and continue to probe the teachings of traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, among others. The different schools of thought existing within such traditions also address, from their own specific points of view, the principles enunciated above, which deal with an understanding of the ground of being, the universe and the human condition. In her major work, The Secret Doctrine, Madame Blavatsky seeks to substantiate many of its key ideas by quoting from traditional Indological works, like the Upanishads and the Puranas.

Not surprisingly, although Gnosticism involves a plethora of groups and sects, some belonging to the early period of the Christian tradition, some others existing prior to that, the teachings of some of its main representatives also mirror a concern and exploration of the human, universal and transcendental dimensions of reality. Aspects of these teachings seem to be also present in passages of the canonical Gospels as well as in the epistles of Paul.

The Campbell Theosophical Research Library is well equipped to help students and researchers in their studies of the above fields as its collection includes representative works in their areas as well as an extensive collection of theosophical works that relate to those areas. Perhaps the Library can be seen as a space in which these different traditions can be in dialogue with each other. This idea is central to the work of the Theosophical Society from its very beginning, in New York, in 1875, and its original eclecticism is not only alive but has become almost urgent in a world in which deaf traditions are attempting to annihilate each other.

We present in this issue a list of some of our recent acquisitions and donations received, while expressing our gratitude to our donors. We also recommend to our readers visiting at two of our unique services: Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals and Links to Theosophical Texts Online. They contain immense resources for research and study while attesting to the eclectic nature of the Theosophical Society and its work.

With cordial regards,
Pedro Oliveira

New Acquisitions and Donations

The Esoteric Papers of Madame Blavatsky, compiled by Daniel H. Caldwell, Kessinger Publishing, USA, 2004. pp. x, 673.

Provides facsimiles of many of the original esoteric papers issued by Madame Blavatsky following the formation of the Esoteric Section of the TS in 1888. Some of the documents reproduced in this volume have never been reprinted since first issued.

The Universe in a Single Atom — The Convergence of Science and Spirituality, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Morgan Road Books, New York, 2005, pp. 216.

The opening quote in the book — “In each atom of the realms of the universe, there exist vast oceans of world systems” (The Great Flower Ornament, an ancient Buddhist scripture) — provides the keynote for the Dalai Lamas reflections on the common ground between science and spirituality. Contents include Encounter with Science; Emptiness, Relativity, and Quantum Physics; the Big Bang and the Buddhist Beginningless Universe; Evolution, Karma, and the World of Sentience; Toward a Science of Consciousness; Science, Spirituality, and Humanity, among others.

Understanding Islam, by Frithjof Schuon, Mandala Books, Unwin Paperbacks, London, 1981, pp. 159.

T. S. Eliot described the author of this concise and important book as the most impressive writer in the field of comparative religion that he had encountered. Schuon makes his intent clear: What we really have in mind in this as in previous works is the scientia sacra or philosophia perennis, that universal gnosis which always has existed and always will exist. Chapter titles are: Islam, The Quram, The Prophet and The Way.

The Koran Interpreted, by A. J. Arberry, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1980, pp. 367.

According to the author, the orthodox Muslim view is that the Koran is untranslatable. The rhetoric and rhythm of the Arabic of the Koran are so characteristic, so powerful, so highly emotive, that any version whatsoever is bound in the nature of things to be but a poor copy of the glittering splendour of the original. In his version an attempt is made to imitate, however imperfectly, those rhetorical and rhythmical patterns which are the glory and the sublimity of the Koran.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead — The Great Liberation by Hearing in the Intermediate States, composed by Padmasambhava, revealed by Terton Karma Lingpa, translated by Gyurme Dorje, edited by Graham Coleman with Thupten Jinpa, with introductory commentary by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Viking, 2005, pp. xlix, 535.

According to the editor of the present volume, the Tibetan Book of the Dead includes one of the most detailed and compelling descriptions of the after-death state in world literature. This edition presents the entire original work and includes a translation which had the close support and participation of the contemporary masters and lineage holders of this tradition.

G. R. S. Mead and The Gnostic Quest— Western Esoteric Masters Series, Edited and Introduced by Clare Goodrick-Clarke & Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, 2005, pp. 236.

This volume combines a substantial biographical essay on Mead, one of the prominent experts on Gnosticism in the early period of the Theosophical Movement, with an annotated anthology of his most important writings.

This Newsletter is published in March, June, September and November. Editor: Pedro Oliveira

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