In this discussion group we explore the central tenets of
Theosophy. What better way to start than to explore
Theosophia itself. To get us started we will take up
selected chapters from Robert Crosbies' Universal Theosophy.
If you have not read Robert Crosbie's writings before "the
chapters of the book are drawn from lectures he gave in
California", you will discover a Gandhian practicality, a
Thoreau like clarity and a Martin Luther King like heart to
I will post some passages from the essay here and then feel
free to comment and question them thereafter. In a
week or so I will post more passages from the same article
until we need to move on.
Many people think that religion means a preparation for
death or the states of the future. Religion really means a
preparation for and a knowledge of life—a living of our life
as it should be lived. That which prepares for death is
life, and ever living. Formal religions do not even answer
the question, why is death—nor any of the other burning
questions in daily life. Why do we have suffering and
sorrow? Why are we here? What was the origin of man? Why so
many different conditions among mankind; why are some born
to sorrow, and others to joy; why some in lowly places, some
in high; why some with great faculties and others with very
few and poor ones? Justice demands an answer which is not
furnished by religion, with its "Creator"—for if man is the
creature of a creator he can not help himself and is
absolutely irresponsible. Any being, if “perfect,” would
maintain justice; yet there are injustices among men. The
caprice or whim of a creator does not explain the
difficulty. Any being, however great or high, must of
necessity be limited, finite, and imperfect—something
outside us, something which does not contain the universe
but is contained by it.
We have to go behind any idea of a Being, to the source of
all being—to a basis common to the highest and to the lowest
being. That basis and source is not to be found by looking
outward at all, but is the very power to perceive, wherever
there is life. Spirit, Life, Consciousness are the same in
every being—undivided, however many and varied the
perceptions. Evolution is not a compelling force from
without, but the impelling force of Spirit from within,
urging on to better and better expression. All advancement
is from within. All the knowledge that we gain, all the
experience that we obtain, is obtained and held within. Each
one, then, is the Seer; all the rest are seen. So, the
knowledge that we have to obtain is not information from
without, not the thoughts of other men, but an understanding
of our own essential nature, which represents every element
in the great universe, from the basis of all life to every
outward expression, and every possibility of further
expression— just as each drop of water contains in itself
everything existing in the great ocean from which it came.
Nor does Law exist outside of us. Law is always inherent in
Spirit; it is the action which brings re-action in every
individual case, and to the collective mass of humanity. We
are here under law and under justice. There is no such thing
as injustice in the universe.
Moderator: Let us hear your comments and questions.
"So, the knowledge that we have to obtain is not information
from without, not the thoughts of other men, but an
understanding of our own essential nature, which represents
every element in the great universe, from the basis of all
life to every outward expression, and every possibility of
further expression— just as each drop of water contains in
itself everything existing in the great ocean from which it
This is the first time that I've read anything by Crosbie,
and I'm a big fan already. I’d like to make a connection
between his analogy of the ocean and our group study. As
stated in our group Intro, the Secret Doctrine can be a
"daunting study". The study of the tenets of Theosophy
can be daunting as well. However I believe that Crosbie has
given us an important clue that may help to bring these
tenets within arms-reach, and allow our study to yield
an edible fruit. He compares the essense of each person to a
drop in the ocean of Life (what an amazing picture!).
Extending this analogy to our study of the tenets, if the
drop tries to study the immensity of the ocean, he'll
probably get dizzy and fall over. But if the drop realizes
that its substance is the same as the ocean substance, it
only has to look within itself. Then the task becomes more
manageable, and the student can form at least a mental link
between himself and the Universal principles. I think this
is a practical way to approach the tenets. And as to the
question, "What is Theosophia?" Perhaps the drops will find
Theosophia in the drops. ;)
Beautiful Jimmy. Very well put. There definitely seems to be
benefit in the idea that studying ourselves, we in fact
study all things. In the SD, HPB makes it clear (to me, at
least), that the basic outline of cosmogenesis given is
applicable to any system by analogy and correspondence.
Just in regular life, I feel that coming to know myself
better has helped immensely in coming to know others better
- as one example of the idea in practice.
Without being too picky on semantics, it's probably
worthwhile to attempt to bring in a few terms that we often
use (both in our study and in society) and see if they can
be defined in such a way as to become useful in our study.
Words like 'advancement', 'understanding', 'information',
'knowledge' and so forth (without attempting to discuss them
all in-depth :-) acquire a different meaning in our study
of theosophy from their common understanding in everyday
Understanding, I see as definitely happening "within",
because no one can make you understand anything, as
understanding is the internal recognition of 'a' truth
(independent from intellectual concerns). Information is
what we receive from "without", in common language referred
to as knowledge, but it is actually 'only' information
(verbal info, literature, examples in practice, etc,). It's
not because we can repeat or memorize something that it
constitutes understanding. We can ask the provocative
question: "Does our literature contain any wisdom?" I would
answer in the negative, because our literature contains
objectively 'only' ink on paper, wrought however, in such a
way that it becomes intelligible INFORMATION to our
perception. Then what is the purpose of this literature if
it doesn't contain any wisdom one might ask? I think we can
use the interesting correspondence here with the activity of
a vitamin. Do vitamins feed and nourish the body, nope! They
act as chemical catalysts so that the food that we digest
can become useful to our body. So with our mind, we can
ingest the "spiritual" vitamins so that the food (daily
life's experience) for our mind (constituted by concepts
formed into thoughts) can be mentally digested and become of
use through experience, resulting in understanding. Our
"spiritual" vitamins are of no use if we keep the literature
on the shelf. In their use however, the proper amount and
combination may trigger the necessary responses in the food
(thoughts/concepts) for our mind to nourish that mind to
greater understanding. Advancement is thus the increasingly
acquired UNDERSTANDING through experience (both inner and
outer). HPB points out that "ethics is applied metaphysics",
but the metaphysics have to be studied and understood.
Study, application and understanding constitute to my mind
at least, what advancement means in practical terms and
helps us to make our lives and the lives of others better.
Pierre, your comment made me remember a scene in the movie
"Good Will Hunting". The story is about a math prodigy
that comes from the dirt poor projects of Boston and works
as a custodian at MIT until he is discovered as a genius.
Anyhow, the character played by Matt Damon who is the
brilliant individual mentioned above, stops into a bar near
Harvard to pick up on some girls. His best friend
inadvertently gets caught in a lie about his attending
Harvard while trying out his pick up lines on some Coeds,
Matt's character steps in and takes over an obscure debate
with the stuck up Harvard boy who thinks he is superior to
the guys from the projects and bests this Harvard know it
all. And the way that he is bested is the interesting
point here. He points out to the haughty Harvard show
off that every idea he has presented in his arguments are
from a group of writers that he names one by one. So
he concluded his argument by saying, " and you are going to
go through your entire life without a single original
thought of your own while parroting the thoughts of all
these dead guys."
So it begs the question: What does it mean to advance from
within? Your thoughts here I found very helpful on the
We are looking at the duality of within and without,
specifically, the difference between knowledge and wisdom,
the former relates to information acquired by book learning,
the latter perceptive understanding acquired by the
awakening of intuition.
To grow (or advance) from within means to develop the higher
principles in our being; thus, we are growing from
within and expressing to without. The process requires
the clearing of the impediments by dimming the lower forces
in our constitution which then allows the down flow of the
higher forces (or buddhi energy) to manifest.
To answer your questions, I think it really depends on the
individuals - everyone is different.
This is one of the reasons why HPB did not give out any
formal "techniques" to the public because everyone is at a
different place with different karma. Furthermore, in SD,
there is a reference that one progresses by finding a
In recent years I begin to understand one of the
implications behind this statement, that is, in the process
of discovery and development, one opens the intuition and
builds a channel into one's Higher Self. So, in a way,
the means also fulfills one of the ends.
As Krishna says in theDhyaneswari:“When
this Path is beheld . . . whether one sets out to the
bloom of the east or to the chambers of the west,without
holder of the bow,is
the travelling in this road.In
this path, to whatever place one would go,that
place one’s own selfbecomes.” “Thou
art the Path” is said to the adept guru and by the
latter to the disciple, after initiation. “I am the way
and the Path” says another MASTER.
This seems to shed some light on the idea of 'advancement
from within'. As Pierre points out, this seems to be quite
different than our typical ideas of 'advancement'.
In practical terms: one observation I'd make is that this
lends itself to the idea that there is nothing 'out there'
to be acquired or gained to accumulated or sought. And that
can certainly impact the way we live our lives and how we
relate to others.
Continuing on the Robert Crosbie article by the name posted
in the discussion title:
Knowing something as to our essential nature, knowing
something of the purpose of life, and that life is all made
up of learning, knowing that the universe is all alive, and
that there is in reality no injustice save that which we
inflict upon our selves by re-action, we would take an
entirely different view of life and put these ideas into
daily practice. We would take the position which most of all
we need to take—that of our own responsibility, which
religions have taught us to shift on to some God or devil.
Recognizing that each one of us is from the same Source and
going towards the same goal, though the path will vary with
the pilgrim, we will act toward each one as if he were a
part of ourselves. Like us, each one is moving onward—
perhaps below us, possibly above. From the one above, we can
obtain help. To the one below, we can give help. Such is the
interdependence which should exist between all conscious
beings; and under such a conception our civilization would
not be as it is now. We should not find every man’s hand
raised against every other man. We should not see those in
poor case finding fault with the wrong conditions, but
finding fault rather with their own wrong relations to
others at some time when they abused the power they had. We
should see each one trying to discipline himself, trying to
bring himself into proper relation with all the rest—not so
much outwardly, perhaps, as inwardly; for we may be sure
that if we make clean the inside of the bowl, the outside
will take care of itself. We have no greater duty to perform
than to make clear and clean our natures—to make them true,
to make them in accord with the great object of all life,
the evolution of soul.
We can not wait to make our start in this direction until
the nation wakes up to Theosophy; for the nation will itself
awake only when each individual wakes up to that which is in
himself and by his thought and action instills a similar
thought and action in other human beings. Supposing each one
determined to do all he could for every other one wherever
he could, do you think that anybody would suffer? Not one!
There would be more to help than those to suffer. But we are
afraid that if we so act, the other man will not. So we do
not move at all along that line. The majority of people are
thinking about quite other things. They are busy at the
shrine of their gods of comfort, seeking to get the best of
everything in life at the expense of someone else. Or they
are seeking to acquire “the power of will,” so that they can
get something for nothing from someone else. That is the
kind of “will” which is generally desired, its object being
the getting of exactly what one pleases. Is not this psychic
banditry? Anything gotten that way is taken from another,
and we shall have to pay it back to the uttermost
farthing—if not in this life, then in some other, for the
scales of justice are unerring.
Discussion is open to your thoughts, comments and
particularly welcoming of your questions.
One reason that comes to mind is the simple need for
self-reliance. What the adepts and great teachers of
humanity seem to be telling us is that we need to learn to
stand on our own two feet, so to speak. Leaning on others or
shifting responsibility keeps us from learning to truly face
the challenges of life, and those challenges only increase
on the path Theosophy points towards.
But we are afraid that if we so act, the other man will not.
So we do not move at all along that line.
Seems to me that this fear is rooted in selfishness. Why
does it matter if the other does not act so? Is it truly
valid to say that I will not help someone because they might
not help me in return, or because they didn't help me in the
past, etc.? Seems that this would only ever lead to us
acting in accordance with the worst among us - if we are
only willing to do that which can be guaranteed to be
So how do we overcome this kind of fear? And societally, how
can this approach be changed?
This becomes a complete non-issue for the one who perceives
the essential unity of all beings and Being. Such a person
is not extending help to another. Such a person is helping
oneself in the guise of another.
This can be changed societally by coming to a collective
understanding on this point. For everyone to reach the state
of illumination at which total oneness is perceived is not
likely but certain other understandings can be reached.
It is normal for many of us to think of certain natural
resources--such as air and water--as belonging to nobody in
particular, but as something shared, held in common to all.
When one drinks a glass of water, one is only borrowing it,
making use of it for a time. Same goes for air.
Because it does not exist in the natural world, but instead
was invented by humans, it is not so normal for us to think
of money this way. But does it not work just like air and
water? I get paid x dollars to work, I spend some of those
dollars at the grocery store or gas station, and so it
circulates through the system, from one person to the next.
Imagine if money were seen in a more similar light to food,
air and water, and if we saw ourselves not as "owning"
money, but as stewards of a resource that, just like water
and air, is simply another form for the universal life force
that sets action in motion in the earthly spheres.
Gandhi spoke about this idea extensively. He took a
vow of non-possession and all the objects of use he became
the steward over rather than the possessor of, so to speak.
It is a very interesting idea. Perhaps this gives us a
glimpse into the humanity of the future.
Reminds me of John Lennon urging us to imagine "no
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try ...
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do ...
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can ...
So according to Lennon, while imagining 'no heaven' and 'no
countries' is easy, imagining 'no possessions' is presented
as much more of a challenge. I've experimented with this and
found it to be true (for me). It seems a very difficult
thing to honestly and sincerely practice non-possession. We
come repeatedly to the question: "where do we draw the
line?". Air? Water? Clothing? Money? Body? Like Daniel says,
we're simply borrowing these for a time. But what about
elementals? What about personality? Do we imagine ourselves
to possess these? What about thought? Do I own "my"
This seems to be one of those ideals to always aim for, even
though we may continually come up short.
I've thought of money in the same light and have worked to
incorporate this into my approach to the world. It's been an
... interesting challenge. ;)
Of course, the example above could just as easily relate to
love as it could to money or other such tangible things. I
could be just as likely to say: "I will not love this person
if they don't/can't love me back", etc., as I might say: "I
will not give this person money if they can't return it". So
there does seem to be a deep level of 'selfish insecurity'
involved, that likely underlies our approach to many things
in life. It seems to be an overarching mental position or
Just read this the other day, from the Gospel of Thomas, and
thought it was fitting:
If you have money,
Do not lend it out at interest
But give it to him
Who will not repay it.
We are proceeding through an article written by
Robert Crosbie called "Theosophy in Daily Life".
It is part of a larger work called Universal
Theosophy which is collection of his talks given
in Los Angeles in the early part of the 1900s.
Robert Crosbie worked very closely with WQ
Judge. The next passage is presented here:
Do we not see that we can trust a universe that
moves along unerringly under the law of perfect
justice? ‘We certainly can. We can go forward
with an absolute reliance on the law of our own
spiritual being, knowing whatever conditions
come are necessary for us, knowing that those
very things we feel so hardly are object lessons
for us because they indicate a wrong tendency or
defect in us which this present distress affords
us an opportunity to overcome, to strengthen our
true character. That is all we have at the end
of life, whatever of character—good, bad, or
indifferent—we have acquired. Men spend their
lives trying to avoid what they do not like, and
trying to get what they like—what they can and
while they can. Yet if they got all the wealth
of the world, every possession and every
possible desire, what good would it do them? At
death everything would be left where they got
it, because nothing adheres to Spirit. The idea
of getting for themselves is one of the false
notions which prevent men from understanding
themselves as spiritual beings and using the
power which belongs to them—for all powers of
every kind—electrical, dynamic or explosive—come
from the One Universal Spirit, and each man has
latent in him all the powers in the universe.
Physical life is not necessarily a vale of
sorrow. The time must come when we shall have
made man’s life on earth what it ought to be,
when we shall have no fear of anything, when we
shall not be afraid of our fellowmen. It was
said of Daniel, when he entered the lions’ den,
the beasts of prey did not touch him at all.
Why? Because his heart was pure. He had no harm
in it for anyone. He trusted to the spiritual
law of his own being, and all nature makes
obeisance to that. We could go out calmly,
courageously, happily, relying on the laws of
our own natures. If we did so, we would bring
our daily lives in line with that nature; for
there is nothing of our action which does not
come from the mind, and back of the mind is the
‘motive we have in acting. Motive is what makes
our actions really “good” or “bad.” If we are
righteous in ourselves and desirous of doing
right, then all that we do will flow rightly
from us and every function will be a righteous
function. All action springs from and is colored
by the motive held in performing it.
Moderator: How would our lives be
different if we actually trusted the universe?
Seems to me that 'trust' derives itself actually from
knowledge or wisdom, or arises naturally with those. So,
perhaps the main difference in life if we had trust would be
the elimination of personal desire and thirst for life
(tanha). If, with wisdom, we know that what we are given in
life is exactly what is due to us, and exactly what is
needed for us to evolve, the delusion that we 'need' this or
that and the desire for this or that would fade. What need
is there for desiring something for ourselves when we
already have all we need? Seems that this is what the Jesus
of the Gospels is saying inMatthew
I think Crosbie was right on. I had an epiphany 35 years ago
that there is perfect order in the Universe and I’ve held
this close as a guiding principle. The problem I have is
embracing this at all times. Therefore I struggle, fear and
Knowing that all existence is a growth experience I approach
every hurdle with the knowledge that it’s there to better
me. My daily job is to relax and live.
"Yet if they got all the wealth of the world, every
possession and every possible desire, what good would it do
them? At death everything would be left where they got it,
because nothing adheres to Spirit."
What percentage of the human race is stuck in this rut?
Moderator: How would our lives be different if we
actually trusted the universe?
It may not be possible to fully fathom how life would be
different if we actually trusted the universe--given
everything that full trust of such a nature actually
entails, as described for us by Crosbie.
The most that many of us can manage is to dwell in that
state of trust for limited periods of time. Some of us may
manage this more often or for longer periods than others.
Naturally, it is easier to do when things are going
relatively well, or when the "bad" parts are not utterly
intolerable. The true test is how we fare when the
unthinkable happens, whatever that may be for each of us.
If we truly trusted the universe, then even when conditions
become extremely adverse or threatening on the surface, one
would still continue to think of others. In this connection,
I think of people who, in the midst of hurricane Katrina,
used their motorboats to go and help neighbors rather than
to flee to safety themselves. That takes trust.
Many who live an irresponsible life believe that they will
be saved after death and will go to heaven - their trust
of a savior and afterlife is unshakeable. Trust, which
is often associated with faith, may not be a reliable source
since it is not necessarily based on truth.
As one dedicates oneself to the practice of the Ancient
Wisdom, the higher principles begin to stir very slowly.
There are moments of insights that deepen one’s
understanding and confirm various ideas in the doctrine.
Eventually, there grows a sense of knowingness, due to the
awakening of intuitive perception, about some of
the principles in the teachings, and it is no longer based
on faith or trust.
Continuing on with the article by Robert Crosbie by the same
"Theosophy is the only philosophy that can be used in every
direction in daily life. It can be used in all directions,
high or low, because that use comes from an understanding of
the Spirit itself, from acting for that Self and as that
Self—for the Self acts only through the creatures. Acting
for and as that Self in every direction, all else flows into
line. All the destruction that is around us, all the misery
that we see, has been brought about through our denial of
the Holy Ghost—our denial of the Spirit within us. We deny
it when we act as if we are our bodies, or our minds. THATwill
not be denied. So man, meeting all the results of that
denial and seeing them to be evil, learns that this is not
the way. Then he seeks for Truth, and finding the truth,
obtains all that he can desire—hope, happiness and a better
understanding of his and all existence. It was to give to
men all they could take in regard to the nature of the
soul—that they might come out from this vale of sorrow—that
those Beings known as Divine Incarnations have descended
here of Their own will. They have carried forward from age
to age this knowledge of nature and of man and of the
purpose of life, learned through many civilizations of
mankind. It is this knowledge which makes Them as gods to us
in Their glory and power."
Robert Crosbie may well have had something particular in
mind with his phrase "used in every direction".
I'm not familiar with his article.
Speaking in general, I imagine that seekers of all spiritual
traditions - whether Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Muslim and
so on - might claim something similar to Robert Crosbie.
Each might talk about the suffering that comes from chasing
after the unreal and turning away from the real - whether
that 'real' be called God, the Self, our true nature, the
divine & so on. Each might say our lives would be better
lived if we heeded the divine/wisdom that abides within each
one of us, acting in harmony with that source in all aspects
of our lives. Each in turn might also tell us of great
beings who have sought to show the way to the real in order
to help poor suffering humanity. The names and titles of
those great beings vary depending on the tradition; there
are bodhisattvas, buddhas, avatars, prophets, son(s) of god,
the great sages, maharishis & so on.
If Theosophy is the Ancient Wisdom, the Tree of Knowledge
from which all true spiritual traditions have branched
forth, then it would not be surprising that the same
fundamental truths can be found echoed in all of them - some
to a greater degree, others less so.
I look forward to hearing from someone more familiar with
Robert Crosbie's work.
This sounds right. Theosophy is the Philosophy behind
philosophies, and the Religion behind the religions, we are
told. Also Theosophy is the Wisdom of the universe.
Therefore "Theosophy" (capital T) can be used in every
direction as Mr. Crosbie says. Unless a religion or a
philosophy is as universal as the original "Perennial
Philosophy" then it would have limits that the original
would not. I hope that makes sense. This is what
I infer from your comments.
It has occurred to me that if Theosophy were properly
understood it should be able to address every problem and
challenge in human life.
Couldn't we say this is true for Buddhist philosophy or
I feel we could perhaps say the same about Buddhist
its purity. But, what passes as Buddhist philosophy,
just as with all religions, seems to have its definite
limitations in certain directions, while favoring others.
Now, I think we can say the same about Theosophy. What
passes as theosophy here and there may be quite limited, as
our understanding of it is also limited, but Theosophy in
and of itself should have no limitations in any direction -
if it is indeed what it is claimed to be (i.e. "the ocean of
knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution
of sentient beings" - WQJ).
I believe the author is saying that if we stand in the
“Self,” we can deal with any situation. In other
words, once we center in our essence, we will see things, as
they are, in their proper light and know their value and be
able to relate to things in a rightful manner. Viewing
the world from the point of reality, everything falls in
I do not agree that theosophy is the only philosophy that
can be used in every direction in daily life. There
are many roads to the Spirit. If we go beyond the
surface, glimmers of truth will reveal itself.
This centering idea is very profound. It seems
important to appreciate the challenge and difficulty of
centering oneself in a "higher essence'. There is the
monkey mind to deal with , which does not take well to
centering. There is the personal nature and all
its proclivities to master. It is a process of
progressive and incremental changes wouldn't you agree?
I suppose a first step is to begin seeing ourselves as more
than just our outer appearance. If we can't see the SELF in
our self, it would seem we have little chance of seeing it
in others. And perhaps the former leads to the latter...
This question came up several times in different contexts.
In my opinion, I think it depends on the individual’s
constitution, karma, and point of development. However,
there are many commonalities among all the schools regarding
the perquisites of attunement. One that comes to mind
is the need for purification. Until one is purified and go
through the process of refinement, the ability to be
receptive to truth would be hampered. Fresh water
poured into a stained pot would only get dirty.
The entire book, Voice of the Silence, is devoted to laying
out the steps for the students. By studying and
pondering on the verses, one may find a hint or a directive
with which one feels resonance and can start applying it to
one’s daily life. It is a constant effort and the
results, more or less if karma permits, depends on the
extent of one’s dedication to the Ageless Wisdom. Once
a lesson is mastered, another layer will open up pointing
the way. It is a continuous process unfoldment, with
many trials and tribuations, to the earnest students.
Every verse in the Voice of the Silence is a sacred gem, and
on pg 63, it states -
Remember, thou that fightest for man’s liberation, each
failure is success and each sincere attempt wins its reward
in time. The holy germs that sprout and grow unseen in
the disciple’s soul, their stalks wax strong at each new
trial, they bend like reeds but never break, nor can the
e’er be lost. But when the hour has struck they
In Theosophy as well as in other traditions, lofty moral
ethics is the key to purification because it is a process of
supplanting the lower elementals in our constitution with
higher devic essences that enable us to attune with the
finer forces. In the Voice of the Silence, the seven
paramitas are mentioned and they are requirements to unlock
the gates (pg 48) -
1. DANA, the key of charity and love immortal.
2. SHILA, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that
counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no
further room for Karmic action.
3. KSHANTI, patience sweet, that nought can ruffle.
4. VIRAG, indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion
conquered, truth alone perceived.
5. VIRYA, the dauntless energy that fights its way to the
supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.
6. DHYANA, whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol*
toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless
[*A saint, an adept.]
7. PRAJNA, the key to which makes of a man a god, creating
him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis
Additionally, the teachings emphasize on mental purification
because thoughts are substances and they affect everything
around us and, essentially, we are the product of our
thinking. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”