THEOSOPHY, Vol. 48, No. 1, November, 1959
(Pages 35-38; Size: 12K)


The true Theosophist belongs to no cult or sect, yet belongs to each and all. 

CONTRARY perhaps to general opinion, secret societies and lodges do not die out, but only their imitators. Habitat and locale may shift back and forth, through the centuries, across the wide earth, but certain fraternities of men remain active wherever thought struggles to be free and true ethics are put into action. They have always existed as a body, all knowing each other, no matter in what part of the world they may be, and all working for the race in many different ways. To these bodies belongs the true Theosophist, wherever and however situated, bound with the integrating thong of a similarity of aim, purpose, teaching, aspiration, ethics, both mystically and openly.

The extent to which these various schools and lodges exist is told by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine: "The members of several esoteric schools -- the seat of which is beyond the Himalayas, and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, besides South America -- claim to have in their possession the sum total of sacred and philosophical works in manuscript and type: all the works, in fact, that have ever been written, in whatever language or characters, since the art of writing began; from the ideographic hieroglyphics down to the alphabet of Cadmus and the Devanagari." Briefly, the sum total of recorded knowledge of Man and his heritage, divine and human, is held in trust by Those who are in every "sect and cult" of the past and the present.

The mind of the race is growing by enlargement. Every field of endeavor and every avenue of thought has become, in this age of comparative freedom, a subject of close scrutiny and investigation. A few short centuries ago different conditions obtained, as the following quotation will illustrate: "No one could ever lay hands on the Rosicrucians, and notwithstanding the alleged discoveries of 'secret chambers,' vellums called 'T', and of fossil knights with ever-burning lamps, this ancient association and its true aims are to this day a mystery. Pretended Templars and sham Rosy-Croix, with a few genuine kabalists, were occasionally burned, and some unlucky Theosophists and alchemists sought and put to torture; delusive confessions even were wrung from them by the most ferocious means, but yet, the true Society remains to-day as it has ever been, unknown to all, especially to its cruelest enemy -- the Church."

The secrecy preserved by these sub-lodges, as well as by the one and supreme Great Lodge, has ever been proportionate to the activity of religious persecutions; and now, in the face of growing materialism, their very existence is becoming a mystery. It is further explained that lodges exist within lodges, so arcane and recondite as to be known only to a chosen few of their brotherhoods. Peoples and races differ as to clime, era, psychic heredity, and in other ways. At some cycles certain concatenations make it possible for members of the Great Lodge to come out among peoples to bring those adaptations and changes required of the age, "while others remain still unknown except to the most advanced of the body." But all act under one general law which asserts that from the very day when the first mystic found the means of communication between this world and the worlds of the invisible host, between the sphere of matter and that of pure spirit, they concluded that to abandon this mysterious science to the profanation of the rabble was to lose it. An abuse of it might lead mankind to speedy destruction; it was like surrounding a group of children with explosive batteries, and furnishing them with matches. The first self-made adept initiated but a select few, and kept silence with the multitudes.

Yet many are the spiritual brotherhoods known to the world as such, however little known is their purpose for being. One such is an ancient fraternity of Buddhist monks dwelling in Thailand, called the Talapoin. The mere description of how they are able to live under conditions sought only by people of Oriental lands has significance for the student. "The Talapoins of Siam," says de la Loubere, "will pass whole weeks in the dense woods under a small awning of branches and palm leaves, and never make a fire in the night to scare away the wild beasts, as all other people do who travel through the woods of this country." The people consider it a miracle that no Talapoin is ever devoured. The tigers, elephants, and rhinoceroses -- with which the neighborhood abounds -- respect him; and travellers placed in secure ambuscade have often seen these wild beasts lick the hands and feet of the sleeping Talapoin. It is said that in the oldest of their manuscripts are to be found the Jewish Kabala and the Bible (in form and substance) repeating the Babylonian myths, and the Oriental and Chaldean allegories; there as well as in Ceylon.

Another mysterious lodge is called the "Hermetic Brothers of Egypt," described by Mackenzie as "an occult fraternity which has endured from very ancient times, having a hierarchy of officers, secret signs, and passwords, and a peculiar method of instruction in science, religion and philosophy. ... If we may believe those who at the present time profess to belong to it, the philosopher's stone, the elixir of life, the art of invisibility, and the power of communication directly with the ultra-mundane life, are parts of the inheritance they possess."

Today, the Vedanta school (one of the six "darshanas or systems of demonstration" in India) is subscribed to by the largest number of intelligent Hindus. Sankaracharya, who was the popularizer of the Vedantic system and the founder of the Adwaita (non-dualistic) philosophy, is sometimes called the founder of the modern schools of the Vedanta. In this connection we are told that the Sufis, a mystical sect in Persia, are "something like the Vedantins." Though very strong in numbers, none but very intelligent men join it. They claim, and very justly, the possession of the esoteric philosophy and doctrine of true Mohammedanism. The Sufi (from Sophia, wisdom) doctrine is a good deal in touch with Theosophy, inasmuch as it preaches one universal creed, and outward respect and tolerance for every popular exoteric faith.

The Sufis are descendants of the Persian Magi who are in turn descendants of their immemorial predecessors, the members of the schools of Upper India. It was from the Magi that the Sufis (composed chiefly of Persians and Syrians) acquired their knowledge in astrology, medicine, and the esoteric doctrine of the ages. Solitary Copts, earnest students scattered hither and thither throughout the sandy solitudes of Egypt, Arabia, Petraea, Palestine, and the impenetrable forests of Abyssinia, though rarely met with, may sometimes be seen. Many and various are the nationalities to which belong the disciples of that mysterious school, and many the side-shoots of that one primitive stock.

Still more striking, if possible, is H.P.B.'s statement about the Druzes of Mount Lebanon, who, she says, "are the descendants of all these!" The Druzes are the descendants of, and a mixture of, mystics of all nations -- mystics who, in the face of cruel and unrelenting persecution by the orthodox Christian Church and orthodox Islamism, have, ever since the first centuries of the Mohammedan propaganda, been gathered together, and who gradually made a permanent settlement in the fastness of Syria and Mount Lebanon, where they had from the first found refuge. Their rites are very mysterious, and no traveller who has written anything about them has known for a certainty the whole truth. Scattered from the plain east of Damascus to the western coast, the Druze "Warriors" covet no proselytes, shun notoriety, keep friendly, as far as possible, with both Christians and Mohametans, respect the religion of every other sect or people -- but will never disclose their own secrets.

Since the earliest centuries, says H.P.B., the Druzes have preserved the strictest silence upon their beliefs and truly occult rites, and "neither threat, bribe, nor any other consideration will induce a Druze to become a convert to dogmatic Christianity. That their religion exhibits traces of Magianism and Gnosticism is natural, as the whole of the Ophite esoteric philosophy is at the bottom of it." They are the Sikhs of Asia Minor, and their polity offers many points of similarity with the late (Sikh) "commonwealth" of the followers of Guru Nanak -- even extending to their mysticism and formidable bravery. The Druzes and Sikhs are closely related to a third and still more mysterious community of religionists, of which nothing, or next to nothing, is known by outsiders. This is the fraternity of Tibetan Lamaists, known as the Brotherhood of Khe-lang, who mix but little with the rest of their Tibetan co-religionists. Even Cosmo de Koros, who passed several years with the Lamas, learned hardly more of the religion of these Chakravartins (wheel-turners) than they chose to let him know of their exoteric rites, and of the Khe-langs, he learned positively nothing.

Unnumbered, unnamed, even unsuspected perhaps, may be the members of cults and sects, of orders and fraternal groups, all working for the Cause announced to the world at large by H.P.B. as her Mission, and all working in affinity with the Theosophist. All of these belong to "Theosophy," and to all of them belongs the Theosophist.

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(1) NOTE.--Collated from Theosophical writings.
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