Theosophy by Annie Besant
Theosophy is derived from two Greek words –
Wisdom –and is therefore God-Wisdom, Divine Wisdom. Any dictionary will give its meaning : “A claim to a direct knowledge of God andof Spirits”, a definition which is not inaccurate, though it is scanty and affords but a small idea of all that iscovered by the word, either historically or practically.The obtaining of “a direct knowledge of God” is – as we shall see in dealing with the religious aspect of Theosophy –the ultimate object of all Theosophy, as it is the very heart and life of all true Religion; this is“the highest knowledge, the knowledge of Him by whom all else is known”; but the lower knowledge, thatof the knowable "all else”, and the methods of knowing it, bulk largely in Theosophical study.This is natural enough, for the supreme knowledge must be gained by each for himself, and little can bedone by another, save by pointing to the way, by inspiring to the effort, by setting the example; whereasthe lower knowledge may be taught in books, in lectures, in conversation, is transmissible from mouth toear.
This inner, or esoteric, side of religion is found in all the great faiths of the world, more or less explicitlydeclared, but always existing as the heart of the religion, beyond all dogmas which form the exoteric side.Where the exoteric side propounds a dogma to the intellect, the esoteric offers a truth to the Spirit; theone is seen and defended by reason, the other is grasped by intuition –that faculty “beyond the reason”after which the philosophy of the West is now groping. In the religions that have passed away it wastaught in the “Mysteries”, in the only way in which it can be taught –by giving instruction how to pursuethe methods which unfold the life of the Spirit more rapidly than that life unfolds in natural and unassistedevolution; we learn from classical writers that in the Mysteries the fear of death was removed, and thatthe object aimed at was not the making of a good man – only the man who was already good wasadmissible – but the transforming of the good man into a God.Such Mysteries existed as the heart of the religions of antiquity, and only gradually disappeared fromEurope from the 4
to the 8
centuries, when they ceased –for want of pupils.We may find many traces of the Christian Mysteries in the early Christian writers, especially in the worksof S. Clement of Alexandria and of Origen, under the name of “The Mysteries of Jesus”.The condition of high morality was made here, as in the Greek Mysteries: “Those who for a long timehave been conscious of no transgression … let them draw near”. Indications of their origin and existenceare found in the New Testament, in which the Christ is said to have taught His disciples secretly – “Untoyou it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, but to others in parables” – and theseteachings, Origen maintains, were handed down in the Mysteries of Jesus; S. Paul also declares that “wespeak ‘wisdom’ among them that are ‘perfect’ –two terms used in the Mysteries.Page 3