(Helena Blavatsky, Henry Steel Olcott and Annie Besant)
The word "Theosophy" comes from two Greek words, theos meaning
"god," and sophos meaning "wise." In essence, it
means those who seek the wisdom of God by searching through philosophy or by the
pursuit of mystical experiences, or both. Proponents of Theosophical concepts
can be found in Hinduism, Taoism, Gnosticism, Neo-Platonism and the like.
In recent years, this term became closely linked with Helena
Petrovna Blavatsky who formed the Theosophical Society in New York City in 1875,
along with Henry Steel Olcott. Blavatsky claimed to be in touch with spiritually
evolved human beings dedicated to the service of the world, whose teachings
formed the basis of her belief system. She promoted a monistic and pantheistic
view of the relationship between God and the universe. She also taught that
mankind is evolving through reincarnation toward perfection, and those who are
near or reach such a goal are responsible to guide less evolved souls.
Annie Besant succeeded Blavatsky as spiritual leader of the
society after the latter's death in 1891 and as international president after
the death of the president-founder, Henry Steel Olcott, in 1907. She was quite
involved, not only as a proponent of Theosophy, but in governmental, educational
and social work in the land of India. It was Annie Besant who introduced Jiddu
Krishnamurti as the Messiah of this age. He later refuted the claim.
There is no set dogma in the Theosophical Society. However,
three foundational beliefs normally embraced are: "(1) the fundamental
unity of all existence, so that all pairs of opposites"”matter and spirit, the
human and the divine, I and thou"”are transitory and relative distinctions of
an underlying absolute Oneness, (2) the regularity of universal law, cyclically
producing universes out of the absolute ground of being, and (3) the progress of
consciousness developing through the cycles of life to an ever-increasing
realization of Unity."1
1 FAQ, "What does this Wisdom Tradition
Teach?,"¯ www.theosophical.org (September 30, 2001).
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