BN-Basic Course Syllabus
The Ancient Wisdom Tradition
I- Introduction: Theosophy Through the Ages
2.) Historical Traces – Ancient Archetypes
(HPB, Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, page 273.)
William Q. Judge, the very close student and colleague of Blavatsky, summarized the source of Theosophy:
Although this transcendental knowledge was accessible at all times to those who were ripe and who felt the craving for it strong enough to make the unremitting sacrifice, it would be acquired only by those whose supreme intensity of excitement and enthusiasm made it possible in those times to incur the self-denial and renunciation of worldly concerns necessary to initiation. Nor is it any different now, and never will be, except that portions of the doctrine are given out from time to time, such as may be safely trusted to an advancing age, because to penetrate into the mystery of nature requires a state of the greatest purity and perfection, and this final perfection is not a gift to be expected from without, but is to be worked for by those who desire.
Blavatsky was taught by two of the Masters who were part of this body of initiated seers referred to above. So, she once answered a question as follows: (HPB, Articles, "What Shall We Do For Our Fellow-Men?")
What I do believe in is (1), the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men; (2), that it has reached us unaltered; and (3) that the MASTERS are thoroughly versed in the science based on such uninterrupted teaching.
(Wm. Q. Judge, An Epitome Of Theosophy)
Theosophy, meaning knowledge of or about God (not in the sense of a personal anthropomorphic God, but in that of divine "godly" wisdom), and the term "God" being universally accepted as including the whole of both the known and the unknown, it follows that "Theosophy" must imply wisdom respecting the absolute; and, since the absolute is without beginning and eternal, this wisdom must have existed always. Hence Theosophy is sometimes called the Wisdom-Religion, because from immemorial time it has had knowledge of all the laws governing the spiritual, the moral, and the material.
The theory of nature and of life which it offers is not one that was at first speculatively laid down and then proved by adjusting facts or conclusions to fit it; but is an explanation of existence, cosmic and individual, derived from knowledge reached by those who have acquired the power to see behind the curtain that hides the operations of nature from the ordinary mind. Such Beings are called Sages, using the term in its highest sense. Of late they have been called Mahatmas and Adepts. In ancient times they were known as the Rishis and Maha-rishis -- the last being a word that means Great Rishis.
(Wm. Q. Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, Ch. 1) Theosophy and the Masters
The most intelligent being in the universe, man, has never, then, been without a friend, but has a line of elder brothers who continually watch over the progress of the less progressed, preserve the knowledge gained through aeons of trial and experience, and continually seek for opportunities of drawing the developing intelligence of the race on this or other globes to consider the great truths concerning the destiny of the soul. These elder brothers also keep the knowledge they have gained of the laws of nature in all departments, and are ready when cyclic law permits to use it for the benefit of mankind. 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. In some periods they are well known to the people and move among ordinary men whenever the social organization, the virtue, and the development of the nations permit it. For if they were to come out openly and be heard of everywhere, they would be worshipped as gods by some and hunted as devils by others. In those periods when they do come out some of their number are rulers of men, some teachers, a few great philosophers, while others remain still unknown except to the most advanced of the body.
It would be subversive of the ends they have in view were they to make themselves public in the present civilization, which is based almost wholly on money, fame, glory, and personality. For this age, as one of them has already said, "is an age of transition," when every system of thought, science, religion, government, and society is changing, and men's minds are only preparing for an alteration into that state which will permit the race to advance to the point suitable for these elder brothers to introduce their actual presence to our sight. They may be truly called the bearers of the torch of truth across the ages; they investigate all things and beings; they know what man is in his innermost nature and what his powers and destiny, his state before birth and the states into which he goes after the death of his body; they have stood by the cradle of nations and seen the vast achievements of the ancients, watched sadly the decay of those who had no power to resist the cyclic law of rise and fall; and while cataclysms seemed to show a universal destruction of art, architecture, religion, and philosophy, they have preserved the records of it all in places secure from the ravages of either men or time; they have made minute observations, through trained psychics among their own order, into the unseen realms of nature and of mind, recorded the observations and preserved the record; they have mastered the mysteries of sound and color through which alone the elemental beings behind the veil of matter can be communicated with, and thus can tell why the rain falls and what it falls for, whether the earth is hollow or not, what makes the wind to blow and light to shine, and greater feat than all -- one which implies a knowledge of the very foundations of nature -- they know what the ultimate divisions of time are and what are the meaning and the times of the cycles.