Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic — Katherine Tingley

Chapter 1

What is Theosophy?

Like as a bird cleaves the eternal ether, so the mystic advances on a path not ordinarily manifest. — William Q. Judge

The Wisdom-Religion of the Ages

He in whom the soul is ever manifest — he is the true mystic, and to him theosophy is no system of sterile thought but a light, a teacher, a companion, ever calling to compassionate action, ever urging to higher things.

Think of theosophy not so much as a body of philosophic or other teaching, but as the highest law of conduct, which is the enacted expression of divine love or compassion.

It will bring something to you that can never pass away: the consciousness of your divine, your inner self; a conviction of your inherent power to conserve your energy along the highest spiritual lines. For man cannot find his true place in the great scheme of human life until he has ennobled and enriched his nature with the consciousness of his divinity. That is what theosophy means; that is its message; and it is a beautiful one to those who can throw aside fear and prejudice and truly interpret its meaning.

New in its presentation, but old as the ages in its meaning, theosophy was once the universal religion of mankind, and is destined to be the universal religion of the future. Even now its great principles are permeating thought and action everywhere, and everywhere the most advanced minds are looking forward to the ideal of a universal religion as humanity's one hope.

Those who long to serve humanity should study its teachings, if for nothing else than that they may learn to "know themselves"; that they may learn to know their children spiritually; that they may perceive the duality that exists in human nature as well as in life, thus becoming able to control the disruptive and lower elements, and encourage those which are noble, constructive and divine. For the despair and unrest of humanity, the unbalance and the injustices of life, stand at the door of our civilization, like living pictures, specters, their very presence pleading for a manifestation of the higher law.

But the one who essays to study theosophy must do his part. He cannot be fed with a spoon. There must be effort and humility, aspiration and love of virtue, and a willingness to be taught.

No teacher, however great, can teach until the pupil is ready to learn.

Theosophy does not offer spiritual instruction for money. Truth is not purchasable.

Were you to be told that just outside the door great minds were waiting to give you the secret of acquiring fabulous wealth, you would not stop for anything. Yet that which you would hope to gain belongs but to the perishable, fleeting, material side of life. Why not make as great an effort for the knowledge that will give you the secret of right living, reveal to you the mysteries of life.


There is in theosophy an optimism so magical, so inspiring, and so superb that I would I had the power to challenge the world with its sublime ideas. Had we the light of this inspiring, pulsating philosophy upon the affairs of our nations today, we should find an inner and higher expression of brotherhood. The force of it would touch and quicken the most indifferent minds; it would bring the breath of life to those who, weighed down by their karma, are now but just half living — yes, men and nations both. It is this above all that the world needs.

Its teachings can bring hope to poor, storm-tossed humanity; this I affirm, and we have but to observe the general trend of human thought and effort to establish this as a fact. Antiquated theories of religion and life are being discredited, long-settled beliefs and customs are being abandoned, and there has risen in the world a great compelling force which is demonstrating the poverty of man's religious life.

Materialism and the merely intellectual view have carried man out upon a sea of unrest and dissatisfaction, while the real man, the divine man, has been ignored. As a result, the finer knowledge — which is right at hand if we could but perceive it, for it lies in the very being of man himself — is inactive and obscured, so that it is difficult even for thinking men and women to find their moorings. It is this very condition, however, that will finally open man's eyes.

Theosophy is the inner life in every religion. It is no new religion, but is as old as truth itself

The Mission of Theosophy

The mission of the Theosophical Society is to bring men and women together as coworkers for a great and universal purpose; and the first step towards that end is to accentuate the fact that man is divine, and that to help create a nucleus of universal brotherhood, based on the divinity of man and the immortality of the soul, is the duty of every human being.

Its mission is to set aside errors, misconceptions, unbrotherliness and intolerance, and put love and trust, right action and the sweetness of truth in their place; to spread new ideas throughout the world for the benefit of those who most need them; to release the mind of man from prejudice and from fear, and human life from its digressions. Its mission is to bring the whole human family up to a standard of spiritual foresight, discrimination, intuition, right thought and right action, with a new and diviner conception of justice and of love. If men and women could work together as one great universal body towards this end, they would be creators of a new order of ages, a universal religion verily, and a true brotherhood of man.

My whole aim is to bring out the spiritual possibilities of the individual — individual effort towards higher things. That is the aim of theosophy: that each may come to know himself better, that there may be a spiritual rounding-out of the character and the life. If the individual can rise in the strength of his divine heritage, the power of his spiritual rights, then comes a clearing of the mind, a lifting of the veil that hides the truth.

Yet we never proselytize. We make no attempt to convert; for the philosophy declares that any attempt to force others to accept our thought or our views is an injustice to their true nature, their deeper self. We do not frighten, intimidate or discourage, nor do we implant fear. But we do appeal, and we do try by example to show to others the beauty of theosophy as a living power.


A new hope, a new courage, is even now stirring the hearts of thousands. A message of love and brotherhood has gone out to the world. This is the keynote of the new age — brotherhood.

The principles of theosophy are worthless unless carried out in deeds. It is useless to pile up in the library of our intellectual life ideas upon ideas — and nothing more. The world is weighed down with mere intellectualism already. It must have something more, and that something more is the active, practical expression of those ideas, those spiritual principles, in every act of life.

Its teachings show man how to reason in a new way. They challenge one to seek a new viewpoint, to rise in the strength of the soul to heights of self-mastery never attained before. But not for self: in this time of agony and chaos there can be no thought of self.

In such endeavor the student finds the sacredness of the hour and the day. There is no time for compromise or for delay. The lazy, the indifferent, the selfish and the egotistical will not be interested along such lines of research; but one who is stirred by the simple conviction that he is immortal — not in some nebulous future life, but here and now — that man feels the touch of the divinity within.

Theosophy has above all the power to uplift. If mankind but understood and lived it, the whole human race would be freed, a solid foundation of mental and spiritual freedom would be established and the present menacing and terrible conditions would disappear. It teaches that man weaves his own destiny and that he is, to the extent of his knowledge and his will, the master of it.

For humanity is divine! Were this divinity but realized, the godlike attributes of character would be so manifest in dignity and in strength that no words would be needed to tell us what real life is! We are making some progress, it is true; but we hear only six notes played. The seventh one is silent, and that silent, waiting note is the divine in human nature and in life.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

I never think of the teachings of theosophy without feeling surge up within me an intense, an affectionate, an infinite regard for the wonderful woman who brought them to the Western world — teachings far older than those of the Nazarene, and yet with all the beauty, charm and purity of new life. I feel that she must have passed through many schools of experience in many, many lives to gain the marvelous knowledge that she possessed, the self-sacrificing love for humanity that was hers, and the courage that sufficed to carry her through the suffering and persecution that came. She was as one who had been cleansed as by fire, who had passed through the travail of the soul.

When Madame Blavatsky came to the world with her message, she perceived the materialistic trend of human thought and life, and brought her treasures of truth that she might turn that trend to higher things. She came to simplify the problems of life. Her purpose was to set men thinking. Read The Secret Doctrine, Isis Unveiled, The Key to Theosophy, and The Voice of the Silence — you who are questioning as to the whence, the wherefore and the whither — and see if you do not find in them principles and truths that, could they be lived up to, would absolutely change the whole aspect of our civilization. She was indeed "humanity's friend."

How was it possible for this teacher to find her way into the heart-life of the world as she did, and leave on the screen of time that undescribable something that has never been fully uttered? We can perceive as yet but one or two aspects of it — and these according to our advancement. In her life she expressed the unutterable, the mystical, the truly unexpressed. She dwelt in the soul-life and under the impress of the silence. She brought to the world lofty and colossal principles, whose meaning our children as the years pass will interpret better than we. She lifted the veil before the mysteries of life and destiny when she stepped forth on the outer plane with this magnificent and dignified philosophy.

H. P. Blavatsky has been libeled and obscured, as all spiritual reformers have been; but thousands who know her teachings and her life hail her as one of the benefactors of the age. We already find the ideals of theosophy permeating every department of thought.

Humanity is truly in the shadows; but in spite of retrogression, materialism and a selfishness that is extreme, the finer atmosphere of the world is even now surcharged with hope. Can we take the light and sunshine of this hope into our lives and forget the one to whose courage and sublime effort we owe all this — H. P. Blavatsky?

She left the world in its thought-life teeming with an urge for higher things, which only the few could understand. She was inspired beyond the knowing, and the great message which she brought, the mighty undertones and overtones of universal love, sounded by her in the silences, were part of the great universal plan. She was the messenger of years to come, the torchbearer of the age, the great transmitter of spiritual light to the future.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition