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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Religion, Theosophy and

Theosophy is not a religion, as religions are normally classified. Religions are systems of belief in a god or gods having dogma and, usually, ritual worship. Neither theosophy or the Theosophical Society (TS) is associated with dogma and certainly have no ritual worship. Most religions have priests, rabbis monks, or similar officiants which do not exist in the Theosophical Society. Not only is there no system of belief associated with theosophy that is binding on members, but a resolution was passed by the General Council of the Society which states, in part, “. . . it is thought desirable to emphasize the fact that there is no doctrine, no opinion, by whomsoever taught or held, that is in any way binding on any member of the Society, none which any member is not free to accept or reject.”

Neither theosophy nor members of the Theosophical Society have ever had a quarrel with the essences of religions, holding that, when the accretions of the ages are brushed away, most hold the same view as do the theosophists. Helena P. Blavatsky states this very clearly when she writes, “. . . all religions, divested of their man made theologies and superlatively human ecclesiasticism rest on one and the same foundation, converge towards one focus: an ineradicable, congenital belief in an inner Nature reflected in the inner man, its microcosm; on this our earth, we can know of but one Light — the one we see. The Divine Principle, the whole can be manifested to our consciousness, but through Nature and its highest tabernacle — man, in the words of Jesus, the only ‘temple of God.’ Hence, the true theosophist, of whatever religion, rejecting acceptance of, and belief in, an extra-cosmic God, yet accepts this actual existence of a Logos, whether in the Buddhist, Adwaitee, Christian Gnostic or Neo-Platonic esoteric sense, but will bow to no ecclesiastical, orthodox dogmatic interpretation” (CW V:355).

Members of the Theosophical Society have always been encouraged, if they have a religion, not to reject their beliefs, but to view and interpret their religion in the light of theosophy. In so doing, many have found much tolerance, wisdom and new insights.

Over the century past many ministers of religion, particularly Christianity, felt so severely threatened by this openness of mind encouraged by the theosophical philosophy, that they have sought to discredit theosophy and in 1929 The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lima (Peru) issued a proclamation warning that any Roman Catholic who attended the lectures given by C. JINARĀJADĀSA would be excommunicated. This opposition was particularly fierce in India and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) where the Christian missionaries were angry at the success of the TS in those countries.

Of late the conflict between the Theosophical Society and the Christian Church seems to have subsided, possibly due to a more liberal attitude on the part of the latter and a lower profile in the case of the TS.

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