The Theosophical Society in Europe
Federation of National Societies

Our Thinking

THEOSOPHICAL TEACHINGS: AN OVERVIEW (Abstracts of Articles) by Trân-Thi-Kim-Diêu

THE WAY OF SERVICE by Nano Leguay

TO LIVE A HUMAN LIFE MEANS LEARNING by Irena Kristan

WE ARE PART OF THE HARMONY by Patrizia Moschin Calvi

WHAT IS ‘THINKING’? by Els Rijneker

EXPLORING THEOSOPHY by Rimo Loiv


THEOSOPHICAL TEACHINGS: AN OVERVIEW (Abstracts of Articles)

Trân-Thi-Kim-Diêu


1. THE HERITAGE OF WISDOM


Humanity is the turning point where consciousness gains this capacity of self-reflection. A human being not only knows for instance that he is in a location, but he also knows that he knows that fact. Self-consciousness is indeed a tremendous power, the power of becoming a ‘fully conscious god’ that is more than any mere god! This is why even the devas – angels and gods – have to become humans at certain stage of their evolution in order to learn this lesson of self-consciousness.


What is this lesson of self-consciousness to be learnt? Does learning not mean to be completely aware, then drop and go beyond? This learning consists of being aware of the turning point represented by the human stage, to accept fully and deal with all its implications, then leave them and remain undisturbed. On this subject, N. Sri Ram said:


‘The truly spiritual man is not limited by any label; there is no surface of resistance in him to throw back the forces that impinge upon him from without. What ever strikes him is just registered, comprehended, and then gone.’     - Thoughts for Aspirants - Second Series  - N. Sri Ram


This means going from the beginning until the end without missing any step in the process of consciousness unfolding within him. An individual who has learned this lesson becomes more than just an average human. He has realized that there is a heritage of wisdom and he is claiming it. This occurs when the buddhi principle begins to be activated in his being.

The whole matter of spirituality could be summarized in one short statement: unfold what is within. Wisdom is realizing to some extent the unfolding of what is within. In order to unfold what is within, one has to know what is. The keyword is watchfulness. Unless one is watchful, one cannot see what happens outside and inside oneself.


2. MODERNITY OF THE ETERNAL TEACHINGS


The teachings of Theosophy, giving a satisfactory presentation on various subjects, such as cosmogenesis, anthropogenesis, oneness of life, universal laws, evolution, self-culture and self-knowledge, does not have the pretence of being the holder or the custodian of Truth, but undoubtedly points out by valuable explanations to every learner the way towards Wisdom which is right perception, discrimination and realisation of right understanding of the Truth.


It has been stated more than once that Theosophy was given to humanity during the last quarter of the 19th century because of special cosmic conjunctures, due to social conditions on earth and the level of development of human consciousness at the time. These repetitive statements suggest that Theosophy, as it was presented, was one step towards the whole process of revelations of the Truth for the human mind, and consequently uttered an unpronounced promise of further steps to come. This confirms the existence of a whole, perfect and living teaching which relentlessly reveals itself in the course of time but does not depend upon time. The Ancients know this Teaching as the Eternal Teaching (Sanatana Dharma) …

…The Eternal Teaching also states that hidden by the appearance of space and beyond, so to speak, in the heart of it, dwells the One Spirit, the ever ‘being-as-such’, the ever intelligent and ever blissful. It is the immutable causeless Cause, interpenetrating each and all, guiding from within the inter-play of forces through the substance of space, then through organised matter toward increasing complexity, refinement and harmony of forms whilst unfolding within them the same three aspects of, consciousness, intelligence and bliss on a larger scale and subtler quality.


3. THE YOGA OF THEOSOPHY


Every human being has the duty to realize its divine nature and has the right to walk his own way towards the Divine. The way itself is no difference from yoga, or religion – the re-unification of self with Oneself or the Divine. The need for practising a yoga, and prior to this, the pondering over the issue of the human nature and destiny is a testimony for maturation of the soul. The feeling of something lacking despite occupations, the satisfaction incurred by these, together with moments of happiness, prove that knowing intellectually becomes insufficient at a certain moment.


Practising actually does not necessarily mean going with one of the numerous yoga schools. Who can pretend to do so nowadays? And would it be wise at all to do so? The exposition of the six great philosophies (Shad-Darshanas) together with the explanations on yogas – from the beginners’ to the royal one – will not be of any help if they remain on the level of theory, because, to refer to Nagarjuna, one of the greatest minds, all intellection without Self-realization amounts to nothing. In the age of Iron – Kali-yuga – time is no longer for speculations. It’s time for realization.



THE WAY OF SERVICE

Nano Leguay


When one meets Theosophy and its teachings in life, the desire to serve comes naturally. In order to fulfill this, the following advice given by George Arundale is invaluable:

“If you desire to be of service to others with advantage to them and without danger to yourself, see that these three principles guide you in your service:

1. That your greatest joy is to tread the path of service;

2. That you know yourself to be but the agent of some force greater than your own which sends the power of service through you;

3. That you see in others the same divine nature you yourself possess.”


He adds:

“Service in the physical world is action, in the emotional world sympathy, in the mental world understanding.”

Action in the physical world requires development of discrimination.

Sympathy in the emotional world (or empathy) awakens the feeling of oneness with every living creature.

Understanding in the mental world, what is both understanding of the outer world and of the inner world, knows no boundaries.


The Theosophical Society gives all the help needed to follow this advice. It depends on every person to seize the numerous opportunities available to serve according to one’s abilities and temper.



TO LIVE A HUMAN LIFE MEANS LEARNING

Irena Kristan


Theosophy is a great accumulation of the knowledge of life, yet you can see its truths and understand the answers it offers only in so much as you try to live them, otherwise, as it is said, they remain for you just ‘knowledge of the eye’. It encompasses all levels of existence, all states of consciousness in manifestation, and demystifies cosmic and natural laws.  

To live a human life involves learning. In moments when you seem to be at your wit’s end, you may notice that even a blade of grass knows exactly how to behave, what to do at certain stages of its growth and at times of changes in outer conditions, but you, a human being, do not. In your family, at school and in the society you have accepted a view of life defining a sort of daily existence and its aims. Accepted fully? No, there remains that deep yearning to really get to know where you are standing, why and where you are meant to go; you feel the thirst for the true meaning of everything within yourself and without. You may have some practical instincts, however, they are inefficient tools to proceed into the vast land of questions. Longing for help to widen the limits of the field of your vision horizontally and vertically, you will most probably get it, discovering at the same time how much wisdom has been expressed either openly or in hidden ways and stored in areas called religion, philosophy and science. You best start your journey by making your own mind a reliable tool. Mastering its movements will support your climb up the ‘golden stairs’ which begins with ‘a clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect’. As you become more attentive, and when your capability to see increases, you will discover many things behind the outer appearances of the world, in your relationships and possibly you will become aware of some ideas you have intuited.


And you wonder! Modern science, with the help of sophisticated technology, is now able to look back millions of light years ago into the history of the material universe on one hand, and into minute particles-waves on the other. On our Earth, strange bacteria have been found beneath the bottom of the deep sea; and ‘clouds of bacteria’ have been detected travelling some 20 kilometres high up in the atmosphere across the ocean from one continent to another. Presently, quantum physicists and neuroscientists no longer feel uneasy declaring consciousness as primary. There are also moments when your heart is in communication with something enormously great, trusting the plan of the One and experiencing it as Love.

And yet, today the whole world, all humanity is in crisis. Financial difficulties are merely the outer expression of deep inner sickness which is caused by selfishness, alienation and lack of the meaning of life. A large part of the present humanity is endeavouring to survive physically only, in a sort of somnambulism, thus self-degrading and self-destroying. But Man is meant to know himself as a part of the whole.


There is that innate inner impulse in the human being to become a better person and to hearten others in so doing. Unfortunately, it is too often misunderstood. I believe that the task of the Theosophical Society and EFTS, and their reason for existence, is to help people find the true purpose of human life here and now, and thus to be capable of accepting our role in the big play of cosmic Life.  The result of this is that in our everyday life, without unnecessary cerebration, the silent voice of our hearts would lead us along the path of truth, of compassion and of beauty.  



WE ARE PART OF THE HARMONY

Patrizia Moschin Calvi


In my opinion Theosophy is the expression of the beauty inherent in everything, for it can be found in the harmony of evolution and in all Beings.

But the universe will gain its own perfection only if all its parts fulfill their own innate functions. In order to fulfill our own dharma and to be of optimum service, it is equally necessary to find out our essential nature and be in harmony with it, no matter how difficult it is to sense that calling or how attractive and rewarding other paths seem to be. In any case we should not follow those other routes, for there is no real liberation except through our chosen inner path, which is only ours and nobody else's.

In doing this, we will have the privilege of meeting those brothers and sisters who possess the highest ideals and a truly fraternal, farsighted vision. Through their help, we will be able to see the path even when it is hidden by the darkest overgrown vegetation.


Sharing is a primary need for human beings. There can neither be faith, transformation nor liberation without such exchange. Sympathetic listening is a real act of love, a distinctive attitude that marks us as true theosophists.


Such an attitude leads us to redefine our social patterns and set them again according to a virtuous net - which is not virtual – a net in which, as Rifkin says in The Empathic Civilization, we can cooperate, participate, share, feel responsible and integrated, setting examples of renewal in the current phase of defining new humanism.


So let our action be realized for the sake of all beings, in the name of that "right acting" that contributes to the true evolution of the Whole, ennobling all the efforts we make and inspiring those who are with us.  As is said in Light on the Path, “Let us hear the song of Life. Let's learn from it that we are part of the harmony”.



WHAT IS ‘THINKING’?

Els Rijneker


1. Is ‘thinking’ the capacity of the brain to discriminate what we receive through our senses, the ability to judge, to learn and to take practical decisions in daily life? Certainly, using the brain is necessary to help us take decisions how to preserve and train the physical body.


2. Is ‘thinking’ the ability that animals lack, but that human beings can develop when they grow: through intellect to intelligence, the ability to go beyond the practical, beyond words into abstractions? Yes, human beings can make a connection with beauty, with the production and enjoyment of real art, with compassion and love. I understand this to go beyond brain thinking, to make a connection with levels of spirituality.


3. Is ‘thinking’ the logos principle that stood at the beginning of the universe? Yes!

As far as I know these viewpoints are correct.


Why does the title mention ‘our’ thinking? Well, we could transfer thinking beyond the personal levels of relatives and friends, beyond national levels, even beyond the human kingdom. It might embrace the whole of nature, the universe, even universes.


Being a student of life, with lots of lessons to be learned, and being a member of the Theosophical Society who wishes theosophy to be practical, I take the liberty here for a short exploration of what could be my ‘thinking’ about what is the most important faculty theosophy offers us. We can read clearly what a good humane life stands for, in the instructions that H.P. Blavatsky has given in THE GOLDEN STAIRS: A clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception …


In Dutch, the word for a human being is ‘mens’, connected with the mental, the thinking principle of manas, of mind. It is exactly this potential of mind that makes the difference between an animal and a human being. Broadly stated, an animal maintains the physical form in order for the species to continue. A wise human being could at a certain stage of his life suddenly understand that this physical body is only meant as a suitable vehicle for something much bigger to grow and develop: the soul, the spirit. Therefore the vehicle must be clean, and we can use our ‘mens’, the thinking principle, to help take decisions about that cleansing process. Here not only the practical cleansing of body, house and surroundings is involved, but, most of all, the cleansing of our thoughts, from old ideas from the past, from prejudices, from old pains and suffering. Discernment is needed to recognize and release old patterns. It is like homeopathy, similia similibus curentur (like cures like): using the mind to heal the mind. Thoughts are connected with emotions and these are difficult to work out. It takes strength and courage to do the hard work of discernment and cleansing: are there other experiences underneath the suffering we experience right now? If we are able to let go of old patterns and prejudices, our mind can be open to the new. Our thinking principle must be sharp and well trained: an eager intellect to learn and to unlearn. Then we might be able to lift a part of the veil and perceive something at thinner and thinner levels of spirituality. So, practical thinking, intellect, intelligence, spiritual perception: all steps to be taken through the means of ‘our thinking’. The effect is all embracing, unconditional love. To me this is the essence of theosophy.



EXPLORING THEOSOPHY

Rimo Loiv


Divine wisdom, which is called theosophy, exists in a pure form as a state of mind. This divine mind can perceive and know life accurately and act according to divine laws it perceives.  It is far beyond doubts, dogmatism and intellectual reasoning. In every epoch of time, there have been humans to whom this divine mind is living truth and not idealistic dream. They have realized it through their ethical and unselfish way of living through effort extending from life to life.

However, this divine mind is not at all the general state of mind of human race, which reflects rather delusions and egoism.  That is why we need theosophy or divine wisdom on a  level where we can understand it, only then it can be a beneficial and truly meaningful. This is also the reason why different spiritual traditions have evolved. There is need for a spiritual path or teachings through which this divine mind can be actualized; otherwise it is quite a useless talk.


Theosophy as a teaching is not a bundle of complicated philosophical ideas borrowed from different authors or religious movements, consisting of ideas about karma, ethical behaviour, unselfishness, serving others, etc. Theosophy is not for a dreaming or talking about those ideas.  Spiritual wisdom is not achievable through thinking, because the purity and clarity of thinking is dependent upon our previous deeds. Spiritual wisdom is not the result of studying some books or repeating the sayings of others. This wisdom ripens in our mind only through ethical, unselfish and devoted life. One needs to be unbiased, free from prejudice and find out the way that suits for one’s mental dispositions. However, one should neither put too much trust on one’s dispositions, because they are only fruits of one’s previous mental inclinations. One should not forget that one is trying to find the truth and not something that one likes or dislikes. It is about finding the path and, after examining it, putting one’s whole trust and effort in that. It actually means that one has to become the path.


The Theosophical Society is an organization and as such it has many aims. One important thing it promotes is saying that life, even if full of suffering, has a deeper meaning and that there is a root of wisdom from where all true spiritual movements and religions evolve.   However, becoming a member of Theosophical Society does not make one a theosophist, it takes more than that. True theosophist should be a living example of unselfishness and ethical behaviour, which are supported by an understanding of the law of cause and effect. Only then it is possible to reflect the living ideal of theosophy to others as a path and home for the human soul. Otherwise, theosophy will remain in this world merely as a bundle of ideas and theosophists merely as nice persons. We can do much more than that.


While sharing the same ideals, co-workers in a group may have different points of view. This diversity represents the richness of the whole community as well as its capacity to federate like-minded individuals. According to the theosophical teachings there are three main streams in the process of universal evolution: the physical, the intellectual and the spiritual. The operational mode between the physical and the intellectual streams is based on struggling, competing, confronting, whilst the operational mode between the intellectual and the spiritual is based on cooperating and learning. Some abstracts of writings and some short articles are here presented to illustrate the diversity of thinking being part of the one-pointedness of our ideals expressed in the three objects of the Theosophical Society.