The just published Secret Doctrine will show what were the ideas of all antiquity with regard to the primeval instructors of primitive man and his three earlier races. The genesis of that WISDOM-RELIGION, in which all theosophists believe, dates from that period. So-called “Occultism,” or rather Esoteric Science, has to be traced in its origin to those Beings who, led by Karma, have incarnated in our humanity, and thus struck the key-note of that secret Science which countless generations of subsequent adepts have expanded since then in every age, while they checked its doctrines by personal observation and experience.
This Wisdom-Religion is the origin of all the modern religions, which were founded by different Masters of Wisdom. The differences in teachings among the religions is due to the emphasis on different aspects of the Truth that the founder of each religion chose to teach, to misunderstanding of the deep teachings, and to later manipulation by unenlightened human beings:
It is from this WISDOM-RELIGION that all the various individual “Religions” (erroneously so called) have sprung, forming in their turn offshoots and branches, and also all the minor creeds, based upon and always originated through some personal experience in psychology. Every such religion, or religious offshoot, be it considered orthodox or heretical, wise or foolish, started originally as a clear and unadulterated stream from the Mother-Source. The fact that each became in time polluted with purely human speculations and even inventions, due to interested motives, does not prevent any from having been pure in its early beginnings.
Though the fundamental doctrines of Occultism and Esoteric philosophy are one and the same the world over, and that the secret meaning under the outward shell of every old religion—however much they may conflict in appearance—is the outcome of, and proceeds from, the universal WISDOM-RELIGION—the modes of thought and of its expression must necessarily differ.
One of the aims of the Theosophical Society is to reconcile the different religions, and the basis that they come from a common source:
THEOSOPHIST. One of the three objects of . . . the Theosophical Society [is] to reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities.
ENQUIRER. What have you to show that this is not an impossible dream; and that all the world's religions are based on the one and the same truth?
THEOSOPHIST. Their comparative study and analysis. The "Wisdom-religion" was one in antiquity; and the sameness of primitive religious philosophy is proven to us by the identical doctrines taught to the Initiates during the MYSTERIES, an institution once universally diffused.
We can show the line of descent of every Christian religion, as of every, even the smallest, sect. The latter are the minor twigs or shoots grown on the larger branches; but shoots and branches spring from the same trunk -- the WISDOM-RELIGION. To prove this was the aim of Ammonius, who endeavoured to induce Gentiles and Christians, Jews and Idolaters, to lay aside their contentions and strifes, remembering only that they were all in possession of the same truth under various vestments, and were all the children of a common mother. 4 This is the aim of Theosophy likewise.
We will show on the authority of numberless works, ancient, mediæval and modern, the actual existence of a WISDOM-RELIGION whose origin is lost in prehistoric periods.
Mahatma K.H. makes a strong criticism to organized religions, making them responsible for "nearly two thirds" of the evil in the world:
And now, after making due allowance for evils that are natural and cannot be avoided, — and so few are they that I challenge the whole host of Western metaphysicians to call them evils or to trace them directly to an independent cause — I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation.
The criticism is not directed to the pure original religious teachings (which in many cases is a source of help to humanity), but to their manipulation by the "sacerdotal caste", the creation of tribal gods and their exploitation to gain power over the followers:
It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them. Is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told that his God or Gods demand the crime?; voluntary victim of an illusionary God, the abject slave of his crafty ministers. The Irish, Italian and Slavonian peasant will starve himself and see his family starving and naked to feed and clothe his padre and pope. For two thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste, Brahmins alone feeding on the fat of the land, and to-day the followers of Christ and those of Mahomet are cutting each other's throats in the names of and for the greater glory of their respective myths. Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.
Blavatsky, elaborated on this as follows:
Man is ever craving for a “beyond” and cannot live without an ideal of some kind, as a beacon and a consolation. At the same time, no average man, even in our age of universal education, could be entrusted with truths too metaphysical, too subtle for his mind to comprehend, without the danger of an imminent reaction setting in, and faith in Gods and Saints making room for an unscientific blank Atheism. No real philanthropist, hence no Occultist, would dream for a moment of a mankind without one tittle of Religion. Even the modern day Religion in Europe, confined to Sundays, is better than none. But if, as Bunyan put it, “Religion is the best armour that a man can have,” it certainly is the “worst cloak”; and it is that “cloak” and false pretence which the Occultists and the Theosophists fight against.
The claim of a World Religion does not imply the effacing of individual religions. As Annie Besant explained:
There is one Sun of Truth that shines through every religion that has guided and consoled humanity; but each has taken the part that it needed, and thrown the rest out, like the rainbow which makes the sky beautiful because every drop reflects at a different angle and not all at the same. And so the religions of the world are all wanted, for each reflects the light along a different line of the many colored glory of the world-religion, which shall be taken from the diversity of world-faith, synthesising them all into one.
That is the first point I want to leave clear and distinct. Unity and uniformity are not the same. . . . Life is so full, so rich, that it cannot body itself out in a single form, and only the totality of the universe can mirror the divine image. In multiplicity, then, not in uniformity, lies the richness and the beauty of religion, as of all else there is in the world; and the world-religion will not, I believe, wipe out the differences between faiths, but blend them all into one.
- The Brotherhood of Religions by Annie Besant
- The Emergence of a World Religion by Annie Besant
- The Place of Religion in National Life by Annie Besant
- A World Religion by Annie Besant
- Religion in the World Today by Robert Ellwood
- Points of Agreement in All Religions by William Q. Judge
- Religion and Reform from a Theosophical Viewpoint by William Q. Judge
- Pilgrim, What Calls You? Part 1 by Ravi Ravindra
- The Four Stages of Religious Development by James M. Somerville
- From Exclusivism to Convergence - Part 1 and Part 2 by James M. Somerville
- Religion in Theosophy World.
- Religion, Theosophy and in Theosophy World.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 166.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 167.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 347.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (London: Theosophical Publishing House, ), ??.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (London: Theosophical Publishing House, ), ??.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine Wurzburg Manuscript (Cotopaxi, CO: Eastern School Press, 2014), 24.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 88 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 274.
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 88 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 274-275.
- Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XIV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1995), 41.
- *The Emergence of a World Religion by Annie Besant