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General description

Happiness, being a relative state, is only possible within the pair of opposites: "There can be neither happiness nor bliss without a contrasting experience of suffering and pain."[1]

Once incarnated, there is experience of happiness and sorrow. But the Theosophical literature rejects the idea that happiness can be attained by material means. In fact, the opposite is true. Mme. Blavatsky, in response to a correspondence, wrote:

From a conviction of the impermanence of material happiness would result a striving after that joy which is eternal, and in which all men can share. Throughout the whole letter of our esteemed correspondent there runs the tacit assumption that happiness in material, physical life is all-important; which is untrue. So far from being the most important, happiness in this life of matter is of as little importance in relation to the bliss of true spiritual life as are the few years of each human cycle on earth in proportion to the millions and millions of years which each human being spends in the subjective spheres, during the course of every great cycle of the activity of our globe.[2]

ENQUIRER. Do not some of you regard this association or "fall of spirit into matter" as evil, and re-birth as a sorrow?
THEOSOPHIST. Some do, and therefore strive to shorten their period of probation on earth. It is not an unmixed evil, however, since it ensures the experience upon which we mount to knowledge and wisdom. I mean that experience which teaches that the needs of our spiritual nature can never be met by other than spiritual happiness. As long as we are in the body, we are subjected to pain, suffering and all the disappointing incidents occurring during life. Therefore, and to palliate this, we finally acquire knowledge which alone can afford us relief and hope of a better future.[3]

We maintain that all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another. Hence Karma gives back to every man the actual consequences of his own actions, without any regard to their moral character; but since he receives his due for all, it is obvious that he will be made to atone for all sufferings which he has caused, just as he will reap in joy and gladness the fruits of all the happiness and harmony he had helped to produce.[4]

This is the basis of morality:

Happiness cannot exist where Truth is absent. Erected upon the shifting sands of human fiction and hypotheses, happiness is merely a house of cards tumbling down at the first whiff; it cannot exist in reality as long as egotism reigns supreme in civilized societies. As long as intellectual progress will refuse to accept a subordinate position to ethical progress, and egotism will not give way to the Altruism preached by Gautama and the true historical Jesus (the Jesus of the pagan sanctuary, not the Christ of the Churches), happiness for all the members of humanity will remain a Utopia.[5]

In the article Morality and Pantheism, the author quotes Manu saying: “Every kind of subjugation to another is pain and subjugation to one’s self is happiness. . . .”[6]

The only way therefore, in which happiness might be attained, is by merging one’s nature in great Mother Nature, and following the direction in which she herself is moving: this again, can only be accomplished by assimilating man’s individual conduct with the triumphant force of Nature, the other force being always overcome with terrific catastrophes. The effort to assimilate the individual with the universal law is popularly known as the practice of morality.[7]

It follows, therefore, that no spiritual progress at all is possible except by and through the bulk of Humanity. It is only when the whole of Humanity has attained happiness that the individual can hope to become permanently happy—for the individual is an inseparable part of the Whole.[8]

Physical life

In the Theosophical view, life on the physical plane is the state where one is farthest away from his true nature. In fact, real happiness cannot come to those whose consciousness is limited to the lower planes. Most human beings have a far deeper experience of happiness in the post-mortem state of Devachan than during life.

In the course of his correspondence with one of the Masters of Wisdom, A. P. Sinnett complained that Devachan, due to its subjective nature, was but a dream. Master K.H. replies:

Nature provides for him far more real bliss and happiness there, than she does here, where all the conditions of evil and chance are against him, and his inherent helplessness — that of a straw violently blown hither and thither by every remorseless wind — has made unalloyed happiness on this earth an utter impossibility for the human being, whatever his chances and condition may be. Rather call this life an ugly, horrid nightmare, and you will be right.[9]


Online resources

Articles and pamphlets


  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 322.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 105-106.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (London: Theosophical Publishing House, [1987]), ???.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (London: Theosophical Publishing House, [1987]), ???.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1990), 77.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1997), 340.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1997), 341.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 105.
  9. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 104 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 358. See Mahatma Letter No. 104 page 18-19.