Where to start?
The articles on this page will give you a sound overview of the philosophy and make it accessible in under an hour of reading.
Some help from symbolism
The symbol at the top of the page was chosen to tell the story of human evolution in two parts. The top element, the radiant AUM!, represents the creative power of the Universal Mind, which although eternal in its essence – part of AUM being purely subjective – its other elements actively and periodically emanate nebulous matter, which becomes Suns and planets, then men, animals and flora, down to the smallest atomic life.
This is the metaphysical “Doctrine of Emanations” spoken of in the Secret Doctrine.
The second part, the Winged Soul, comes as a result of these emanations taking life and form. They become at length and over vast periods of time… the always-journeying Souls of humanity. These Souls – who are ourselves – live on, from one era to another, in an almost endless series of incarnations. So we find ourselves on this collective trek through our earth, being helped, as far as we care to accept it, by the older and wiser among us.
Of these, some have become the gods, heroes and saviours, those well-known sages we read of in our history and mythos. These are the “Mahatmas” (lit. great souls) who have fulfilled their destiny and consciously made their own link to the Mind in nature and – so long as they do not go against the purposes of evolution – become a beneficent, guiding force for the good of mankind.
Snakes have dual symbology, here the two snakes are Uraei, the “rearing cobras” of ancient Egypt, a symbol of sovereignty, royalty, deity and divine authority.
They were also used in the East, such as by the Buddhists with their Naga-serpents or wise men, and esoterically as the Theosophical Glossary describes “Adepts and Initiates were called nâgas, “Serpents of Wisdom”… Nagal is the name in Mexico of the chief medicine men to this day, and was that of the chief adepts in the twilight of history.” (entry for ‘Kauravya’) It was only later in the Christian West they began to – quite wrongly – only represent lower, physical energies, therefore becoming apparently ‘evil’ forces of nature.
The real origin of goodness or its absence in the world is in man’s intent and heart, rarely in the forces themselves which, like electricity, operate automatically and have no inherent characteristic to act one way or the other.
[The AUM! was used by William Judge as the symbol for his Path magazine in the 1890s; the Winged Soul or Globe by his pupil and friend Robert Crosbie in his magazine Theosophy.]
- Outlines of Theosophy
PROEM: PAGES FROM A PRE-HISTORIC PERIOD. AN Archaic Manuscript—a collection of palm leaves made impermeable to water, fire, and air, by some specific unknown process—is before the writer’s eye. On the first page is an immaculate white disc within a dull black ground … continue reading
Theosophy, the Wisdom-Religion, has existed from immemorial time. It offers us a theory of nature and of life which is founded upon knowledge acquired by the Sages of the past, more especially those of the East; and its higher students claim that this knowledge is not imagined or inferred … continue reading
- The key doctrine of Reincarnation
- Theosophy and other spiritual teachings
Having read these articles and wishing to continue your exploration of the philosophy, as a suggestion you can either continue with “An Epitome of Theosophy” by William Q Judge, which – although written early on and only 30 pages long – is still widely regarded as one of the most instructive and accessible overviews of the Wisdom Tradition written for those newly enquiring.
After the Epitome, these two books are recommended, the Key being taken up in the Tuesday online study class and in the Wednesday meeting at Queens Gardens, see Events for the timings and details of how to join.
- Books for further reading
The classic by H. P. Blavatsky written to explain some essential principles, especially on the aims, history and ethics of Theosophy, in a question and answer dialogue.
The Ocean is the “The Secret Doctrine” in miniature, an outline of Theosophy’s main ideas but in a short and very accessible form.
Hardback or paperback copies can be purchased from the ULT on the ‘Library’ page.
The above course gives a wide ranging and reliable treatment that will guide any future studies, however it predominantly gives the intellectual aspects, the Movement’s raison d’etre, its long history over many millennia, its philosophy and altruistic aims.
The study method that the ULT follows is always to balance an intellectual approach (‘head learning’) with its complementary aspect known as the Heart Doctrine. A balance of head and heart will correspondingly develop rational and accurate thought as well as intuition and a sense of responsibility, the first step in practical altruism.
Two of the best known classics of this devotional Path are the Voice of the Silence (HPB’s translation of the ancient esoteric Buddhist “Book of the Golden Precepts“), and The Bhagavad Gita translated by William Q Judge from the Sanskrit.*
Another recommended text is Light on the Path. All these appeal to “the inner faculties rather than to the ordinary comprehension of the physical brain” as Mme Blavatsky wrote in the Secret Doctrine; when the reader’s intuition and higher faculties are engaged they become able fathom their allegories.
ULT meetings are generally started with a 5 minute reading from one of these books so as to strike notes of universality, dispassion, and skill in action.
* If the Indian names in the Gita appear hard a first, recall that its story is purely metaphorical and symbolic.
All the events that Arjuna and his four brothers, the Pandu Princes, are taken through are emblems for the spiritual journey of discovery that is common to every seeker, much in the same way as pilgrimages of old times were analogues for an inner journeying through new lands… in modern terms ‘states of evolutionary consciousness’ that lead to new world views. Man is principally a mind-being whose outer physical landscape becomes on close inspection increasingly a metaphor for his inner state, which can even – in the long term – largely come to rule our outer conditions.
The Notes on the Gita by WQJ and Robert Crosbie has been written to show how to read between the lines and decode the Gita’s layers of meanings, its commentaries are especially helpful for Westerners. As esoteric psychology – which is simply a knowledge of ones inner life – is studied its significance becomes self-evident, it speaks with a wordless but resounding meaning and force.