On the Universal Theosophy home page a number of articles have been posted on this theme.  But we would like to know what you think?  What does it mean to you to be a theosophist?  How would you describe a person who is genuinely a Theosophist?

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Here is something to get us started from HPB article: What are Theosophists? Posted on the Universal Theosophy web site:

Are they what they claim to be—students of natural law, of ancient and modern philosophy, and even of exact science? Are they Deists, Atheists, Socialists, Materialists, or Idealists; or are they but a schism of modern Spiritualism,—mere visionaries? Are they entitled to any consideration, as capable of discussing philosophy and promoting real science; or should they be treated with the compassionate toleration which one gives to “harmless enthusiasts”? The Theosophical Society has been variously charged with a belief in “miracles,” and “miracle-working”; with a secret political object—like the Carbonari; with being spies of an autocratic Czar; with preaching socialistic and nihilistic doctrines; and, mirabile dictu, with having a covert understanding with the French Jesuits, to disrupt modern Spiritualism for a pecuniary consideration! With equal violence they have been denounced as dreamers, by the American Positivists; as fetish-worshippers, by some of the New York press; as revivalists of “mouldy superstitions,” by the Spiritualists; as infidel emissaries of Satan, by the Christian Church; as the very types of “gobe-mouche,” by Professor W. B. Carpenter, F.R.S.; and, finally, and most absurdly, some Hindu opponents, with a view to lessening their influence, have flatly charged them with the employment of demons to perform certain phenomena. Out of all this pother of opinions, one fact stands conspicuous—the Society, its members, and their views, are deemed of enough importance to be discussed and denounced: Men slander only those whom they hate—or fear.

What do you think it means to say, "The True Theosophist belongs to no cult or sect but belongs to each and all." ?

I think a theosophist is any person using the teachings to help them live a evermore selfless life.

I think the idea of being a Theosophist should be an ideal we strive for.

The theosophist is one who puts the ideas and goals of theosophy into practice.  One must see everything and everyone as his brother and sister, understand that all is One.   One must be compassionate and care for others.  This is theosophy.

Jeffrey I could not agree more.  Well put!

Thank you Nicholas, this is a perfectly lovely explanation, and who better to hear it from.

Might we explore the idea of goodwill?  That is such a beautiful word.  What is goodwill and how do we generate it?

Simply put, goodwill is willing good for others.  This is compassion and love for others that is essential to us as human beings and to our evolution and growth as souls.  But goodwill is the intentional willing of good to another without strings attached or expecting anything in return.

Another point to add to Jeffrey's excellent comment is that the test of good will would be that we care about the welfare of this other human being as much as we care about ourselves.  I think this level of concern is rarely reached in most of our relationships but is an ideal to strive for.  The True Theosophist would pursue the highest ethical standards.

Maybe goodwill starts with the recognition that the SELF resides in every heart and is mirrored in the eyes.

How shall we apply Theosophy in daily life? First, to think what we are in reality, on arising; to endeavour to realize what this small segment of our great existence may mean in the long series of such existences: to resolve to live throughout the day from the highest of our realizations: to see in each event and circumstance a reproduction in small or in great of that which has been: and to deal with each and every one of these from the same high point. Resolve to deal with them as though each had a deep occult meaning and presented an opportunity to further the successes of the past , or undo the errors.

Thus living from moment to moment, hour to hour, life will be seen as a portion of a great web of action and reaction, intermeshed at every point, and connected with the Soul which provided the energy that sustained it. If each event is so considered throughout the day, be it small or great, the power to guide and control your energies will in no long time be yours.

The smaller cycles of the personal ego will be related to the Divine Ego and the force that flows from the latter will show itself in every way, will strengthen the whole nature, and will even change the conditions, physical and otherwise, which surround you.

—Robert Crosbie

His point reminds me of the quote someone made the other day, " we are now living our immortal lives."

From Mr. Judge's Musings on the Theosophical Path

Live well your life. Seek to realize the meaning of every event. Strive to find the Ever Living and wait for more light. The True Initiate does not fully realize what he is passing through, until his degree is received. If you are striving for light and Initiation, remember this, that your cares will increase, your trials thicken, your family make new demands upon you. He who can understand and pass through these patiently, wisely, placidly—may hope.

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 15, 2014 at 5:04pm

Mr. Judge is making it clear that the life of a theosophist is a challenge.  A sublime challenge.

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on August 17, 2014 at 7:14pm

I find this to be an important aspect of what it is to be a theosophist in our day and age. It will be a challenge. I think there's a reason why HPB described ours as the "path of woe". We may suffer a great deal when we try to embrace a larger vision of ourselves and our world and our relation to others. And we may suffer even greater when we attempt to practically apply that vision in our lives. We'll be faced with resistance, from both our surroundings and from within ourselves. But there's also more to it than just the difficulties; there's a profound joy in expanding beyond the little boundaries of our personal self.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 18, 2014 at 10:52am

Great point here Jon, thank you.  Hikers know that the grand view only comes after a rigorous effort a maybe a couple of blisters.

Permalink Reply by Kerry Reid on August 17, 2014 at 5:19pm

Being a Theosophist, to me, means to seek the truth and to not think at any point that I've found it. It means to do more than just read and study and contemplate. To be a true Theosophist, we become more aware and conscious through a very slow and gradual true understanding. 

As in Mabel Collins' Light on the Path, a true Theosophist is to seek the path by retreating within, but also seeks the way by advancing boldly without. A true Theosophist spends much time reading, studying, meditating, contemplating...but spends as much effort applying the knowledge and attention and inspiration gained to his everyday real life, and especially makes efforts in those situations which are challenging - those experiences which cause fear, anxiety, and discomfort.  

I suppose many of us are true Theosophists, not because we are perfect (we are not), not because we see and understand others (we have so much to still see), and not because we have been transformed and we do everything the way an enlightened being should. But we are true Theosophists because we are always learning and growing on the path, always open to a new Truth higher than the truth we see now. And we know knowing that truth isn't enough...becoming that truth is an entirely different story requiring an unbelievable amount of dedication and effort. A true Theosophist is in the process of becoming the truth he or she sees. 

Permalink Reply by Jon Fergus on August 17, 2014 at 7:15pm

Well said Kerry! Well said. :)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 18, 2014 at 10:49am

Ditto, beautifully put.

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on August 26, 2014 at 10:25am


The following quotes from H.P.B. Art.1, p.51-2 are very helpful in understanding what it means to be a Theosophist:

"As a body, the Theosophical Society holds that all original thinkers and investigators of the hidden side of nature whether materialists - those who find in matter "the promise and potency of all terrestrial life," or spiritualists - that is, those who discover in spirit the source of all energy and of matter as well, were and are, properly, Theosophists......On need but worship the spirit of living nature, and try to identify oneself with it...... With every man that is earnestly searching in his own way after a knowledge of the Divine Principle, of man's relations to it, and nature's manifestation of it, Theosophy is allied."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 26, 2014 at 10:43am

Bingo Margreet.  Thanks!

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 27, 2014 at 3:15pm

I think that being a Theosophist means that one is not only self-concious of one's involvement with the whole or of Nature (ideally - to not see oneself as separate from), but also and more importantly it means that one has devoted oneself to the benefit of the whole.   

Ultimately, I see that to be a Theosophist is to be a 'brother' or 'sister' to every being. 


Permalink Reply by Tamiko Yamada on August 27, 2014 at 4:11pm

Very beautifully put.  What changes must an individual make in their outlook to make this a reality and not a dream?  If we are all part of the same family why it so hard for us to live that way?

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 27, 2014 at 4:56pm

Thank you, Tamiko.

I think the changes one must make in order to be a Theosophist, rather than to only dream to be a Theosophist, would need to be inner changes, rather than outer changes.  Those inner changes I think would require knowing, not just thinking about, who and what we really are.  Further, the inner changes would require having compassion for other beings.   With knowledge and compassion, action follows - namely that we then live according to what we know and from the compassion for others which compels us from within.  The inner propels the outer.

I think the only difficulty comes from the inability or unwillingness to learn about ourselves or to find the compassion that we have inside.  

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 15, 2014 at 5:16pm

Outer changes are easier.  Inner changes require letting go of some sense of self that we are clinging to.  Good points everyone here.

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on August 28, 2014 at 2:30pm

Simply put we are trapped in personal separative consciousness.  We have the illusion that everything in the universe is for the persona and happening to the persona.  This is false but to reach into our consciousness and assume the position of the whole, of all humanity, of the All is really what we are trying to do when we try to use universal principles to guide our lives.  When we think these ways we discover that the struggles of our fellow man are our own in a very real way.

The degree of love, forbearance, gratitude and patience we have towards our fellow man is a measuring stick for how far we have moved away from or  remain stuck in the personal separative perspective.  It is a huge struggle.  And the true theosophist is not necessarily one who has surmounted this but rather someone who is engaged in the struggle to free oneself of those chains.

Permalink Reply by Don Petros on August 28, 2014 at 3:59pm

That sounds right.  As one becomes less identified with the personal, one begins to enter into the larger conciousness of all beings.  Then, understanding and compassion for the other becomes a natural and simple process - not something complicated or contrived. 

From the standpoint of the individual, the personality, this letting go is hard to do.  I think we're all in that boat more or less... 

'Sacrifice', while a loaded and awkward sounding word, may be a key.  I think that when an individual gives itself up or sacrifices its attachments, it creates space for conciousness to be not confined by the self.  With every 'sacrifice' of self, perhaps more space is opened up within, and through that opening we can better understand the whole.   It's a sort of inner shifting of priorities.


Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on September 14, 2014 at 7:35am

I posted this in the "Brotherhood" forum, perhaps it works here also: ...we are all simply different aspects of the One.  We seem to be separate for a reason.  We cannot develop and grow without a sense of being alone, independent.  It is in that sense of being alone or separate that we find others, that we discover love and compassion, that we make a true and honest sacrifice of self because of that love.  Then we discover the true meaning of brotherhood and sisterhood and Oneness. 

Permalink Reply by Margreet Buitenhuis on August 29, 2014 at 8:07am

To accomplish this transformation we are not without a road map, the full understanding and application of the Ten Commandments and the Paramita virtues are a great help in opening the portals to greater awareness to the unity of all.

Permalink Reply by Ryan Hauck on September 11, 2014 at 10:05am

There is a wonderful audio lecture by Ron Miller "The Gospel of Thomas", where he talks a bit about the two conversions an individual goes through on the Spiritual Path. 

He quotes from the Gospel of Thomas; 

"2 Jesus said, "Those who seek should not stop seeking until they find. 2 When they find, they will be disturbed. 3. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, 4 and will rule over all." 

Within this saying, he describes there being a time (1st Conversion) where the Seeker finds a path to his liking, and pursue's it with fervent passion, which leads to a "Blinder" effect when it comes to other paths. This can spawn radical belief or fundamentalism, overtly stalling a seekers spiritual development. 

The following parts of the saying describe the 2nd Conversion,( and I dare not take away from the eloquence of Millers words so be sure to listen to the audio) where this fundamentalism is dissolved when one experiences true Unity with Deity/Spirit/God, and thus understands the union and systemic resonance of all Divine Revelation. 

I feel, through my experience of Theosophy in Theory and Practice, that being a Theosophist entails a strive for this second conversion, where by all paths become one's domain, for having discovered the "Spiritual Key" (to take from Goldsmith), we in Truth, "Rule (Reign) over All". 


Ron Miller - Gospel of Thomas - Archived Audios

Permalink Reply by Jeffrey Smart on September 21, 2014 at 6:53am

Very good comment!!  I especially like your comment, "I feel, through my experience of Theosophy in Theory and Practice, that being a Theosophist entails a strive for this second conversion, where by all paths become one's domain, for having discovered the "Spiritual Key" (to take from Goldsmith), we in Truth, "Rule (Reign) over All". 

I like the freedom of being able to see connections between all faiths and beliefs systems and being able to find truth in them.  I am not caught up in a frozen dogma in which I must believe a certain way or I am damned forever.  In Truth there is Freedom, There is no Religion Higher than Truth.