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Theosophy on Dogmatic Religions

How Students of Esoteric Philosophy May
Feel Responsible for the State of the World Today
 
 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
 
 
 
 
 
As students of theosophy look at daily acts of violence around the world and see the dangers of nuclear proliferation or terrorist actions,  perhaps they are facing but the consequences of not having struggled hard enough - as a movement, and since the early 1890s - against religious dogmatism. We were strongly invited to do so by H.P. Blavatsky  and the Masters of the Wisdom.  Due to an unwise prudence, we accepted the invitation only partially. The good news is that  we are still  in time to learn the full lesson, one way or another.
 
Questioning  established mechanisms of collective ignorance is inseparable from  the practice of  self-sacrifice.  Those who are able to do that  in the first part of 21st century  will  be blessed by the privilege of helping benefit the world at large and bring  more vitality into the theosophical movement.
 
Many of the obstacles which the theosophical effort has to face today come from the fact that, since H. P. Blavatsky’s death in 1891, we have often preferred the easy way of “Quietism”,  instead of the difficult path of  probation. 
 
Such a danger was indicated in the “Mahatma Letters”. An Adept-teacher used these words to evaluate the work of the London Theosophists:
 
“And this is also the reason why, the British T.S. does not progress one step practically.  They are of the Universal Brotherhood  but in name,   and gravitate at best towards Quietism - that utter paralysis of the Soul.” [1]
 
These clear words are sadly true. Yet at this point one might ask an intriguing question: 
 
“If quietism and its ‘paralysis of the soul’  are the ‘easy way’ recommended by pseudo-mystical routine, it must be rejected, of course.  On the other hand, where exactly is that steep, luminous, narrow and risky path of altruistic wisdom, which theosophical literature sees ahead of us?”
 
Each one must fundamentally  find the Way in the silence of his own heart; but  one possible verbal answer to the question would  be this; that such a path demands a significant degree of courage and detachment with regard to one’s own personal comfort, physical, emotional and intellectual.
 
To those who have enough courage and detachment, qualities like discernment and self-sacrifice will come as natural facts of life.  Only such students can enable theosophical associations to challenge organized forms of ignorance and  delusion. 
 
And still one might ask:
 
“Why exactly should we elect such a ‘difficult path’?”
 
The issue deserves calm examination, for we are free from both “automatic belief” and “automatic disbelief”. We can therefore  look at things impartially.
 
In the famous “Prayag Letter”, whose authenticity is now universally accepted by all theosophical groups,  one of the Himalayan Mahatmas says that the Gods of Hinduism, Christianism, Islamism and every other conventional religion are not quite just “fiction”. In a way, they do exist.  Under the  guise of divinities, they are - or they have a direct connection with - some very real “Chohans of Darkness”, the Ma-mo Chohans - a materialistic and anti-evolutionary  sort of intelligences.
 
Through dogmatic religions,  these “entities” contrast and hinder to a relatively large extent the action and influence of the Dhyan Chohans - the “Chohans of Light” -,  whose mission is to stimulate human evolution toward Truth.
 
“All in the Universe is contrast”, says the Master in that ground-breaking document.[2]  Contradiction must be accepted as part of life, and fighting mechanisms of ignorance, or being persecuted by them, is virtually unavoidable to true theosophists.
 
The decisive “Prayag Letter” is not an isolated fact in the original teachings of Theosophy. The text but confirms the remarkable position taken by the Masters with regard to dogmatic religions in various other Letters as well, not to mention the books and writings of  H.P. Blavatsky [3].
 
Throughout the  original teachings of theosophy, dogmatic religions are described as a “plague” from which humanity must liberate itself. The very same idea is expressed  by  Sigmund Freud  in his pioneering essay “The Future of an Illusion”. Freud’s text  is strikingly similar in contents to the famous Mahatma Letter 10, in the non-chronological edition, or 88, in the chronological edition of the Mahatma Letters. In this Letter the Master says that there is no such thing as a monotheistic “God” anywhere in the universe or out of it - except the imagination of professional priests.
 
In the field of Psychology, non-ethical thinkers like Carl G. Jung and his followers  abandoned the courageous criticism of dogmatic religions which Sigmund Freud had started. Such thinkers did so very much like the  post-H.P.B.  theosophical leaders did. In Psychology as in Esoteric Philosophy, it was a matter of convenience to stop fighting religious dogmatism. It is never easy to destroy thick walls of illusion and ignorance, in any aspect of our “cultural traditions”.
 
One of the disastrous actions promoted by Annie Besant after H.P. Blavatsky’s death was to make most of the theosophical movement stop criticizing dogmatism in religion. Unfortunately,  this variety of desertion from the original teachings is not exclusive to  Besant’s  Society. The unconfortable task of struggling to free humanity from fake religious myths was silently abandoned by other theosophical associations as well,  in spite of the fact that the Masters explicitly affirm this goal as their own, in their Letters.
 
At the same time as the original intentions were gradually abandoned by  entire sections of the movement,  “being  universally brotherly” was then unconsciously defined as  “looking like brotherly”. Hence came the  imaginary “need to make other people believe we are friendly and truly spiritualized”. As a result of this, a few words in the Letter-Report on the Chohan’s View about the movement are today even more clearly significant than they were in the 19th century.  The Master wrote:
 
“The intellectual portions of mankind seem to be fast drifting into two classes, the one unconsciously preparing for itself  long periods of temporary annihilation or states of non-consciousness, owing to the deliberate surrender of their intellect, its imprisonment in the narrow grooves of bigotry and superstition (...); the other unrestrainedly indulging its animal propensities with the deliberate intention of submitting to annihilation pure and simple (...). Between degrading superstition and still more degrading brutal materialism, the white dove of truth has hardly room where to rest her weary unwelcome foot. It is  time that theosophy should enter the arena (...).” [4]
 
It is real Theosophy, of course, that should enter the arena; not its several watered-down and sugar-coated versions.  Although giving up illusions may be an unpleasant task, in the long run it leads to happiness and inner bliss.
 
While trying to understand why such a decisive message from the Mahatmas was removed from the daily life of the movement, one can understand the practical consequences in human history of having abandoned and (partially) forgotten the original impulse of the esoteric movement founded by H.P. Blavatsky.  In the first part of 21st century, large sections of the movement can still be called “quietist”.  The duty ahead, however, is unavoidable; in order to help mankind, one must start by challenging the collective mechanisms of ignorance and superstition inside our own movement.
 
If one looks at theosophy from the point of view of its application to daily life,  one can easily understand some of the challenges to be faced in the present century. One will then be able to develop the immense creative possibilities now available to the theosophical movement, if it TRIES to express in  practical ways its commitment to mankind and to planetary life.
 
William Judge wrote:
 
“We are all Arjunas”.
 
After one accepts his  personal co-responsibility for the present and future of the world,  he sees no reason to lose time any more with mundane things like personal sanctification for others to see, “mystical” quietism - or attachment to empty ritualistic routines.  
 
 
NOTES:
 
[1] “The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett”, Theosophical University Press,  edition, 1992, Pasadena, CA, USA, 494 pp, see Letter XXVIII, p. 210. The metaphor of the “theosophical warrior” is at  Letter LV. 
 
[2] See “The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett” - Letter 134, pp. 454-457, in the TPH Adyar third edition (1972); Letter 30, pp, 94-96, in the Chronological Edition, T.P.H. Philippines; or Letter CXXXIV, pp. 461-464, in the T.U.P. edition, 1992, Pasadena, CA, USA.
 
[3] There are at least seven Letters from Adepts dealing with dogmatic religions: 1) The Prayag Letter, quoted above; 2) Letter 10, non-chronological editions (or Letter 88, chronological edition); 3) Letter 22, non-chronological ed. (or 90, chronological edition); 4) Letter 01, first series, in “Letters From The Masters of the Wisdom”, TPH-Adyar (1973 edition); 5) Letter 43, first series, in “Letters From The Masters of the Wisdom”, TPH-Adyar (1973 edition); 6) Letter 82, second series, “Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom”; and 7) Letter 46, first series, “Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom”, which is the famous “1900 Letter”. As to this 1900 Letter, see especially its full text, available in ou associated websites.  under the title of “The 1900 Letter From a Mahatma”.  
 
[4] Letter 01, first series, “Letters From The Masters of the Wisdom”, Adyar (1973 edition), pp. 3-4. Also available at the book “Combined Chronology for Use with The Mahatma Letters & The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett”, by Margareth Conger, T.U.P., Pasadena; see it under the title of “View of the Chohan on the T.S.” (at pp. 39-47).
 
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An initial version of the above text was published at “The Aquarian Theosophist” in its June 2007 edition, pp. 1-3, under the title of “Feeling Responsible For The World Today: Dogmatic Religions and the Original Teachings of Theosophy”.
 
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In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.  
 
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Theosophy on Dogmatic Religions




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