By Sarah Belle Dougherty

For fifty-five years SUNRISE has been a forum for people in all walks of life to share experiences and ideas that they have found helpful in forming a workable philosophy of life. The vast majority of its articles have always come from its readers and other amateur writers. It promotes universality and independence of thought, particularly through exploration of traditions, ideas, and spiritual values from all times and places. Above all, it encourages brotherhood, compassion, altruism, and mutual understanding.

James A. Long, the founding editor, was a very practical person who believed that any philosophy or belief must be lived to be of real value. Life, he felt, was the only teacher and training ground.*

*More about Mr. Long and his approach to theosophy may be found in the transcripts of his meetings with members in Europe in 1951, which took place immediately after he became leader of the Theosophical Society and before he founded SUNRISE. Originally issued only to the membership, these 1951 Tour Reports are now available on TUP Online at

 In the first issue, he explained why he founded SUNRISE:

Each one of us can and will someday bring about a sunrise in our lives and that sunrise, once it comes, will light the way to future progress not only of the individual but of the whole human race. . . .
This will not come about quickly . . . [but] just as that spark of divinity can be unfolded in the life of a single individual, that same possibility resides in the whole of humankind; and even though it may take time, every effort that you and I and our fellowmen make to bring this about is an effort toward the realization of that golden age.
It is for that purpose that this magazine is being published, so that we can be consciously taking part in this process of helping our fellowmen to realize that each one has an opportunity to bring about a sunrise in his life and in doing so he will participate actively and consciously in forming the nucleus of a brotherhood that will reach far beyond the lip-service given to this word in past generations.
. . . the effort will ultimately . . . reach out from nation to nation so that in the end there will be a nucleus in every national unit of civilization that will be so unified and so spiritually strong that there will then be a possibility of truly seeing the end of strife and stress and wars and rumors of war. Then mankind will begin to find itself on the pathway originally intended for it when, as in the Garden of Eden story, it was cast out on its own responsibility to become self-consciously that which we call the spark of divinity. — October 1951, p. 4

As we move into a new era as a quarterly, SUNRISE will continue to stress brotherhood, altruism, and self-transformation. Growth entails change and often means breaking down our crystallized attitudes about who we and others are. It also requires an ongoing willingness to examine and modify what we think and believe. Our lives are too often formed of mental and emotional habits that blind us to the wonders that could be found if we lived each moment consciously and with sensitivity to those around us. Fortunately each of us has the ability to rouse ourselves to a more discerning awareness in our daily life and thought. Supporting each other in bringing about such an inner sunrise, individually and collectively, remains our primary purpose.

(From Sunrise magazine, Winter 2007; copyright © 2006 Theosophical University Press)

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I would that in this beautiful Christmastide — not beautiful on account of the old and greatly misunderstood legends, but beautiful on account of the inner meaning that they contain — that I could persuade at least a few human hearts to see with me into the Mystic East, your own inner spiritual splendor, the sunrise of the new era flooding with its rays the faces turned towards it. For that sun is the living mystic Christ within you, and the Mystic East is in your own heart; and each one of you is a child of the cosmic christos, the universal Christ-spirit, for you are sons of the sun; each one of you is an imbodied divinity. — G. de Purucker