“Every man should expend his chief thought and attention on the consideration of his first principles; are they or are they not rightly laid down? And when he has sifted them, all the rest will follow.”—Plato
1. Brotherhood (who we are)
Sangha: A fellowship of truth seekers for the betterment of humanity
We consider Universal Brotherhood to be a fact of Nature. Truth being a unity in the abstract, brotherhood naturally arises as the manifestation of it. Thus we make Brotherhood, and all it entails, the primary concern of all our theosophical endeavours. This is who we are and who we wish to be.
This naturally becomes the practical work at hand. The act of coming together in the spirit of brotherhood and mutual assistance is as valuable as, and inseparable from, the activities themselves. We seek to remember and act upon the idea that the purpose behind any effort in Theosophical learning is to increase our capacity for leaving the world a better place than we found it.
Thus, while we seek abstract truths, understanding and wisdom, it is the extent of our application of brotherhood that defines the extent of our success. Our practice of Brotherhood is an ongoing attempt to realize the SELF by acting for and as the SELF of all creatures.
2. Impersonality (how we interact)
Ahimsa: Non-violence of mind, generosity of heart, harmony of soul.
Brotherhood and unity being the natural condition of reality, we seek to ever-realize it not only in the abstract, but in practice. To this end we have discovered that impersonality and selflessness compose the essence of that practice. These qualities, and those that support them, becomes the means to all our ends, and thus we seek to minimize the effects of our personalities, our individual desires and vices on the work at hand.
We strive to accomplish this through the enactment of mutual consideration, respect, tolerance and civility, among other attributes. We seek to arrive at mutual decisions and agreements, and through compassionate interactions to mutually aid one another in all our joint endeavours, always placing the work above self, the benefit of the group above individual gain.
Cooperative learning is thus a primary goal. We will deal with abstract, philosophical and metaphysical subjects at times, but we seek to do so such that benefit is found by both the beginner and the experienced student. To the greatest extent possible, we seek to engender a spirit of compassion and humility that makes for a welcoming atmosphere to new students.
Furthermore, we are all students. None of us are teachers. Therefore, we approach the work and our engagement with each other as fellow-students, walking together towards a common goal, using common means by which to reach it. We walk together in brotherhood, not as teacher and taught, leader and led, but as equals – of varying education and experience, but of identical, because shared, essence.
3. Truth (what we seek)
Satya: There is no religion, philosophy or science higher than Truth.
Our practice of brotherhood and impersonality underlie our search for Truth in the abstract, and our search for Truth enlivens and enriches our practice of Brotherhood.
From our practice, and through our studies we have weighed evidence and testimony such that has led us to the belief that there exists a perennial wisdom, an age-old tradition that weaves its way throughout human history and expression, that is a reflection of fundamental truths of Nature, and it is this wisdom that we seek through our continuing studies. In our studies, we have also found that the simplest truths are often the most meaningful, and that our conceptions of reality become ever-more rich in proportion to our understanding of what appear to be essential principles of reality. From this we have found that of primary concern in the study of Theosophy is the ever-greater understanding of these essentials.
To this end, we will work to foster projects, discussions and studies that focus on these most basic and essential principles, those which form the core of Theosophy and which appear time and time again among the varying expressions of this perennial wisdom. From these essentials we become more able in our approach to the plurality of resources available, utilizing our growing understanding of these essentials as one uses a torch to light the way through a dark cave.
We seek therefore, the highest possible ideals at the individual and group levels. Aiming, as we do, for absolute Truth in ideal, and manifest truth in practice, we set before ourselves a limitless potential for progress as both individuals and a collective.
4. Focus (how we search)
Dharana: Concentration of Mind; As above so below; From within without; From Universals to particulars.
We are a collection of students, here for the common purpose of studying Theosophy, and in that endeavour, one of the primary concerns is that of focus. The monkey-mind of the lower self is apt to bounce idly from one idea to the next, from one author to the next, from one discussion to the next, treating all ideas as though they are equal and all theories as though they contain equal portions of truth, yet it ceases to remain on any single limb long enough to learn the lessons therein contained. It falls inevitably into the trap of favouring relative truth over Truth itself and thereafter it slides into confusion while Truth becomes obfuscated.
As we each experience the battle between higher and lower within ourselves, we naturally see the same contest arising in group work. We therefore seek, both individually and collectively, to engage our higher faculties, promoting virtues such as patience, commitment and focus such that our shared journey towards wisdom may be fruitful. We seek to cull out the unnecessary, the trivial and the false in our one-pointed, concentrated effort to arrive at a fuller understanding of Truth and a fuller practice of Brotherhood.
Our attempt at sustained focus is aligned with our belief in and approach to the ageless wisdom, and thus composes the foundation of our shared studies. Therefore:
- We are not here to debate the existence of such a wisdom-tradition,
- We are not here to debate the validity of our guiding principles,
- We are not here to study anything and everything, willy-nilly, with the scattered consciousness of the lower mind,
- But we are here to jointly seek a fuller understanding of Truth,
- We are here to study materials which we intuit to include fragments of the ancient wisdom called Theosophy,
- And we are here to ever-expand our ability to practice Universal Brotherhood.
From the principle of focus the question naturally arises: what do we study?
As a collection of students with similarity of aim and purpose, wishing to both support and learn from each other, we jointly seek to sift for the kernels of the ancient wisdom that may be found in certain works, whether those be texts, symbolic works of art, symbolic structures, etc., and to then place those kernels under consideration and contemplation, individually and collectively. We are, therefore, here to study certain works and not others, for it would be but a distraction from our shared purpose and a diversion from our guiding principles to study materials that we have explored and found to be lacking.
While the core principles of Theosophy are universal, there are many different expressions of those principles to be found throughout human expression, and yet, as is apparent, not all works are created equally. It is our experience that the perennial wisdom can be found in fuller degree in certain works and among certain traditions, authors, artists or teachers than it can among others. As our goal is to unveil this wisdom within ourselves, it seems wise to seek and favour those works that reside closest to the fountain-source, and this we will attempt to do.
We seek to learn through a process of inner awakening, gradually and steadily clearing the dross of our conceptions in an effort from relative truths towards absolute Truth. Due to our recognition that our grasp of Truth is but relative and inevitably composed of error, we recognize the need for dialectic with our fellow students, for a sense of brotherhood in our shared journey, and for greater investigation and contemplation of the subjects under study.
“Whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities. As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities, and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya.”—The Secret Doctrine, 1:40
Through these principles we hope to embrace a path that will serve to provide that which the sincere theosophist seeks, that which the growing experience of theosophia in his breast requires as its very sustenance if it is to blossom into the living wisdom he has begun to intuit.