Objects of the Theosophical Society

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The Objects of the Theosophical Society evolved gradually during the first decades of the Theosophical Society until they reached their current form by the end of the 19th century.

The Objects of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) are as follows:

1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.

2. To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science.

3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.[1]

The Theosophical Society (Pasadena) has the following Objectives, as stated in its constitution:

1. To diffuse among men a knowledge of the laws inherent in the universe;

2. To promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is, and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in nature;

3. To form an active brotherhood among men;

4. To study ancient and modern religion, science, and philosophy;

5. To investigate the powers innate in man.

Development of the Objects

At the time of the founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875, there was a single general statement of its Objects:

The objects of the Society are to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the universe.[2]

In 1878 there were six unnumbered objects:

The objects of the Society are various. It influences its fellows to acquire an intimate knowledge of natural law, especially its occult manifestations. As the highest development, physically and spiritually, on earth, of the Creative Cause, man should aim to solve the mystery of his being. He is the procreator of his species, physically, and having inherited the nature of the unknown but palpable Cause of his own creation, must possess in his inner, psychical self, this creative power in lesser degree. He should, therefore, study to develop his latent powers, and inform himself respecting the laws of magnetism, electricity and all other forms of force, whether of the seen or unseen universes. The Society teaches and expects its fellows to personally exemplify the highest morality and religious aspiration; to oppose the materialism of science and every form of dogmatic theology, especially the Christian, which the Chiefs of the Society regard as particularly pernicious; to make known among Western nations the long-suppressed facts about Oriental religious philosophies, their ethics, chronology, esoterism, symbolism; to counteract, as far as possible, the efforts of missionaries to delude the so-called "Heathen" and "Pagans" as to the real origin and dogmas of Christianity and the practical effects of the latter upon public and private character in so-called civilized countries; to disseminate a knowledge of the sublime teachings of that pure esoteric system of the archaic period, which are mirrored in the oldest Vedas, and in the philosophy of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster and Confucius; finally, and chiefly, to aid in the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity, wherein all good and pure men, of every race, shall recognize each other as the equal effects (upon this planet) of one Uncreate, Universal, Infinite, and Everlasting Cause.[3]

On December 17, 1879, at the palace of H. H. the Maharajah of Vizianagram, Benares, the General Council of the Society revised the By-laws, the objects being drafted as follows:

a) To keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions.

b) To oppose and counteract--after due investigation and proof of its irrational nature--bigotry in every form, whether as an intolerant religious sectarianism or belief in miracles or anything supernatural.

c) To promote a feeling of brotherhood among nations; and assist in the international exchange of useful arts and products, by advice, information, and co-operation with all worthy individuals and associations; provided, however, that no benefit or percentage shall be taken by the Society for its corporate services.

d) To seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of Nature, and aid in diffusing it, thus to encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, and so termed the Occult Sciences. Popular superstition and folk-lore, however fantastical, when sifted may lead to the discovery of long lost but important secrets of Nature. The Society, therefore, aims to pursue this line of inquiry in the hope to widen the field of scientific and philosophical observation.

e) To gather for the Society's library and put into written form correct information upon the various ancient philosophies, traditions, and legends, and, as the Council shall decide it permissible, disseminate the same in such practicable ways as the translation and publication of original works of value, and extracts from and commentaries upon the same, or the oral instructions of persons learned in their respective departments.

f) To promote in every practicable way, in countries where needed, the spread of non-sectarian Western education.

g) Finally, and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual Fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual. But no Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge communicated to him by any member of the First Section; violation of this rule being punished by expulsion. And, before any such knowledge can be imparted, the person shall bind himself by a solemn oath not to use it to selfish purposes, nor to reveal it, except with the permission of the teacher.[4]

The General Council met again in February, 1881, and again revamped the Rules of the Society, this time the seven "plans" being condensed into four:

First — To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, the obvious philanthropic value of which must be beyond dispute, while the esoteric significance of a union formed on that plan, is conceived by the Founders, for reasons derived from a study of Oriental Philosophy, to be of great importance.

Second — To study Aryan literature, religion and science, which the Founders believe to contain certain valuable truths and philosophical views, of which the Western world knows nothing.

Third — To vindicate the importance of this inquiry and correct misrepresentations with which it has been clouded.

Fourth — To explore the hidden mysteries of Nature, and the latent powers of Man, on which the Founders believe that Oriental Philosophy is in a position to throw light. [5]

In 1886 the objects were condensed to the following:

1. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed or colour.

2. To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions and sciences.

3. A third object, pursued by a portion of the members of the Society, is to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers of man[6]

In 1894 the Objects read:

1. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour.

2. To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, philosophies and sciences, and to demonstrate the importance of that study.

3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the psychic powers latent in man.[7]

In 1896 the Theosophical Society (Adyar) made a last modification, giving the definitive form to its Objects. The Theosophical Society (Pasadena) made further changes until they reached their current form.

Three Objects of the Theosophical Society, Adyar

Objects TS Adyar

First Object

The word “brotherhood” in the first Object is used without reference to gender. This Object aims at offering a space for people to come together and share their search for Truth, regardless of any external differences. The practice of this Object is a concrete recognition of humanity’s common essential nature and origin. It encourages us to appreciate external differences as something that enriches our human experience instead of being a source of intolerance and war. H. P. Blavatsky, Co-Founder of the TS, wrote: "Social differentiations, the result of physical evolutions and material environment, breed race hatreds and sectarian and social antipathies that are insurmountable if attacked from the outside. But, since human nature is ever identical, all men are alike open to influences which centre upon the human "heart," and appeal to the human intuition. And as there is but one Absolute Truth, which is the soul and life of all human creeds, it is possible to effect a reciprocal alliance for the research and dissemination of that basic Truth."[8]

Second Object

For the "research and dissemination of that basic Truth", the second Object of the TS proposes a comparative study of three different avenues humanity has taken to the understanding of life: religion, philosophy, and science. The Society was thus the first organization in modern times to promote interfaith activities worldwide and in a systematic way. One of its aims was to bring to the West the wisdom of the East, when non Judeo-Christian religions were considered to be mere superstitions. Thanks to the work of the TS, words like karma, yoga, and many others became known to the general public outside scholarly circles. The Society was also the first organization working to bridge the gap between Science and Spirituality in a time when they were regarded as absolutely incompatible.[9]

Third Object

Finally, the third Object encourages us to investigate what has sometimes been called the "hidden side" of life and of human beings. In the Theosophical view it is very important to learn about the deep purpose of life, the spiritual laws that guide our evolution, and to discover how to awaken to the spiritual potential that is inherent in every one of us. This is the only sure foundation to peace on earth. Real harmony and cooperation cannot be attained merely through politics and social reform (though they may be necessary), but through the transformation of the human heart and mind. H. P. Blavatsky, examining the accomplishments of the TS in its first 14 years, wrote: ". . . the key to all our successes as above enumerated is in our recognition of the fact of the Higher Self --colourless, cosmopolitan, unsectarian, sexless, unworldly, altruistic-- and the doing of our work on that basis. To the Secularist, the Agnostic, the Sciolistic Scientist, such results would have been unattainable, nay, would have been unthinkable. Peace Societies are Utopian, because no amount of argument based upon exoteric considerations of social morals or expediency, can turn the hearts of the rulers of nations away from selfish war and schemes of conquest."[10]

Online resources

Articles

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Notes

  1. Ransom, J. A Short History of the TS (????1938:???)
  2. Jinarajadasa, C. The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society (1875-1925) (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925), 243
  3. Blavatsky, H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings v. 1 (Wheaton, Il: Theosophical Publishing House, 1996), 376-377
  4. Jinarajadasa, C. Golden Book of the Theosophical Society (1875-1925) (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925}, 245-246
  5. Ransom, J. A Short History of the TS (????1938:545)
  6. Ransom, J. A Short History of the TS (????1938:???)
  7. Ransom, J. A Short History of the TS (????1938:???)
  8. H. P. Blavatsky, "Our Three Objects" Lucifer (September, 1889). Available at Blavatsky.net.
  9. H. P. Blavatsky, "Our Three Objects" Lucifer (September, 1889). Available at Blavatsky.net.
  10. H. P. Blavatsky, "Our Three Objects" Lucifer (September, 1889). Available at Blavatsky.net.