Under an old walnut tree, across from a side entrance to the administration building of the International Headquarters of The Theosophical Society, Pasadena, are 80 large stones from around the USA and other parts of the world. There is one stone each from England, Ireland, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, New Zealand, and Australia. All but two are triangular and most of these are face to face, protecting the inscriptions from the elements. These quiet sentries, reminiscent of an ancient foundation, are modern signposts to the living legacy of Katherine Tingley and her predecessors William Q. Judge and H. P. Blavatsky. They are the cornerstones of the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity (SRLMA).
According to instructions sent to TS Branches in January 1897 by E. A. Neresheimer for Katherine Tingley, the blocks were "to be incorporated into the foundations of the structure" and cut from a native stone found in the area of the Branch. "Each face must be 'pointed ashlar' dressed, except the base which should be smooth, 'brush hammered.' The latter should have inscribed thereon in regular order, Date of Branch Charter, Initials of Charter-members (whether living or dead), Initials of the present President of the Branch, Name of Branch (under all)." Charles J. Ryan states that KT intended the stones "to be placed in the entrance hall of the Temple, the inscriptions being so placed that they could be clearly seen. They would form part of the walls."
SRLMA Foundation Stones (stacked in two columns), Point Loma
In 1941, under the direction of G. de Purucker, the School of Antiquity cornerstone was opened. It disclosed a hollowed-out space about 15" x 12" x 8", in which was found a light-weight japanned tin box which had apparently been covered with silk when it was originally placed in the cornerstone. H. T. Patterson, a participant at the cornerstone ceremony, wrote: "In the box which was deposited in the corner stone there was placed under the direction of the founder-directress, a programme of the dedication ceremonies, a history of the Theosophical movement, a history of the Theosophical movement in England, a copy of 'The Ocean of Theosophy,' a portrait of Madame Blavatsky, a portrait of William Q. Judge, a portrait of Katherine A. Tingley, with some other things quite as interesting and important" (The Theosophical News, March 22, 1897, p. 3).
No physical school was ever built with these stones. However, their significance is felt inwardly by any student interested in the efforts made throughout mankind's history to bring humanity into rapport with the living stream of the wisdom tradition. Every culture has had its great teachers; every continent has had a Mystery school at one time or another. The American continent, much older than modern speculation allows, has become the meeting place of Eastern and Western esotericism. The ancient Eastern school of the Mysteries may have been present much earlier than is popularly recognized. Remnants highlighting its antiquity are found in the teachings of the Hopi in the north and the Kogi in the south. Western esotericism was brought much later. It was introduced through the vision of the Masonic founders of the United States of America, a nation established principally upon the ideal of universal brotherhood, as proclaimed on the Great Seal: E pluribus unum "From the many One." The motto on the reverse of the Great Seal says it all: Novus Ordo Seclorum — "New Order of the Ages." Truly a new effort in human history was foreseen.
Almost 100 years after the founding of the United States on July 4, 1776, the Theosophical Society was officially inaugurated on November 17, 1875. Through this organizational structure H. P. Blavatsky, H. S. Olcott, W. Q. Judge, and their teachers worked to revive the Mystery teachings of the ages. HPB's writings spearpointed the endeavor, Judge's writings stressed the intuitive application of the Mystery doctrines she had outlined, while Katherine Tingley demonstrated their practical aspects for daily life.
It was by no happenstance, then, that Katherine Tingley built an institution at whose heart was the work of HPB and Judge, an institution that would continue the renaissance begun with the Theosophical Society by the practical living of theosophy. Behind every effort at Point Loma stood the SRLMA: The Greek and Shakespearean plays and the first Open-air Greek Theater built in North America, the classical music education, the efforts for prison reform, agricultural experiments that led to the avocado and orange becoming viable commercial crops, the students building their own telescope, grinding their own 10-inch lens, the educational institution from preschool through university level, the efforts against war — all these and many other endeavors were pursued with a sense of spiritual destiny that accompanies the Mysteries. Every continent has had periods when the Mysteries, in their most profound nature, involved the training of a candidate to enter consciously into a direct beholding of the laws of the universe. The inner pattern had to be laid down for the reemergence of such training to occur. KT's most significant effort is perhaps on this level: the laying down of lines, inner and outer, for such a future event.
The true cornerstones of the School for the Revival of the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity are not to be found outwardly; they are the minds, hearts, and spiritual flame of every sincere seeker. When enough of these stones come together, all is possible, the labors of the founders of the theosophical movement will come to fruition, and the re-enlightenment of humanity will indeed not be far off.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Theosophical University Press)