The Monistic Theory

by Nhân Tử Nguyễn Văn Thọ

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Chapter 13

Theosophy and the Monistic Theory


The Theosophical Society was founded in New York City in 1875 by Mme. Helena Petrovna Blavasky (1831-1891), Colonel H. S. Olcott (1832-1907), William Q. Judge (1851-1896) and others. The movement aims for a synthesis of religion, science, philosophy and psychology. "The most important of our objects," said Mme. Blavatsky, "is to revive the work of Ammonius Saccas- the founder of the Neoplatonic School of 1,700 years ago. [1]

The work of that School, she stated, was "to reconcile all religions, sects and nations under a common system of ethics, based on eternal verities." The aim of Ammonius was "to induce Gentiles and Christians, Jews and Idolaters, to lay aside their contentions and strife, remembering only that they were all in possession of the same truth under various vestments... [2]


H.P. Blavatsky (1877)                             H.P. Blavatsky (1889)

Ammonius and his disciples called their work the Eclectic Theosophical School, the word "theosophy"-which means godlike or divine wisdom- being first used by them.

"The Theosophical Society maintains that it has three primary objectives which are: 1) to form a nucleus of the brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color; 2) to encourage the study of comparative religions through philosophy and science; 3) to investigate the unexplained laws of nature, and the powers latent in man... The Society has no dogmas or creed, is entirely non-sectarian and includes in its membership adherents of all faiths and of none, exacting from each member only his tolerance for the beliefs of others that he would wish them to exhibit toward his own". [3]

According to J. H. Fussell, the teachings of Theosophy are "at the same time religious, philosophic and scientific, postulating ONE ETERNAL, IMMUTABLE, ALL-PERVADING PRINCIPLE, THE ROOT OF ALL MANIFESTATIONS. From that one existent comes forth periodically the whole universe, manifesting the two aspects of spirit and matter, life and form, positive and negative, the two poles between which the universe is woven. Those two aspects are inseparably united; therefore all matter is ensouled by life, while all life seeks expression through forms. All life being fundamentally one with the life of the Supreme Existence which contains in germs all the characteristics of its source, evolution is only the unfolding of those divine potentialities brought about by the conditions afforded in the various kingdoms of nature. The visible universe is only a small part of this field of evolution. [4]

Theosophy does not hesitate to declare that:

God and man are the two phases of the ONE ETERNAL LIFE AND CONSCIOUSNESS THAT CONSTITUTES OUR UNIVERSE! The idea of Immanence of God is that He is the universe; although He is also more than it is; that the solar system is an emanation of the Supreme Being as clouds are an emanation of the sea. This conception makes man a part of God, having potentially within him all the attributes and powers of the Supreme Being. It is the idea that nothing exists except God, and that humanity is one portion of Him - one phase of His being. [5]

In common with Christian Science, Unity, and other pantheistic theologies, Theosophy conceives of God in strictly impersonal terms, while asserting that man is in a spiritual sense, part of God. L. W. Rogers put it this way, when he wrote:

In divine essence, latent power and potential spirituality, man is an image of God, because he is part of him. The same idea is more directly put in the Psalms, with the assertion "ye are Gods" (Ps. 82, 6; John 10, 34). If the idea of the immanence of God is sound, than man is a literal fragment of the consciousness of the Supreme Being, is an embryo-God, being destined to ultimately evolve his latent powers into perfect expression. The oneness of life was explicitly asserted by Jesus... It is an unqualified assertion that humanity is a part of God, as leaves are part of the tree, not something a tree has created, in the sense that a man creates a machine, but something that is an emanation of the tree, and is a living part of it. Thus only has God made man. Humanity is a growth, a development, an emanation, an evolutionary expression of the Supreme Being...The human soul is an individualized fragment of that divine life... is literally a spark of the divine life, and latent within it are the characteristics of that central light from which it originated. The theosophical conception of the soul is that it is literally an emanation from God, and since it is therefore of its own essence, it became clear why Theosophists assert that man is a God in the making. [6]

Annie Besant

Concerning man, Annie Besant (1847-1933) who took over the reins of leadership after the death of Madam Blavatsky, Judge and his successor, Catherine Tingley, once declared, "Man is a spiritual intelligence, a fragment of divinity clothed in matter". And Krisnamurti, the adopted son of Mrs. Annie Besant, once stated," are God and you will only what God wills; but you must dig deep down into yourself to find the God within you, and listen to His voice, which is your voice..." Theosophy declared that "all men are innate that in time all men become Christ."

Theosophy is opposed to not only the Biblical teaching of God's personality and nature, as well as the deity of His Son, but it also vigorously denies Christ's substitutionary sacrifice for all sins. The Theosophist wants no part of the vicarious sacrifice of Jesus; in fact it is personally repugnant to him. He considers it "an ignoble belief" that we can fling our sins upon another.

Theosophy divides Jesus and Christ, making Jesus only the outer man, and Christ a divine consciousness immanent within Him, and within all men, to a greater or a lesser degree.

Theosophy teaches also the doctrine of Karma and Metempsychosis.

"The Secret Doctrine - name of a book written by Mme. Blavatsky, - teaches the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over Soul...and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Souls...through the Cycle of Incarnation (or Necessity) in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic Law, during the whole term...The pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations..."

Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb... This Law, whether Conscious or Unconscious - predestines nothing and no one... Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plans and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects; which adjustment is not an act but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigor...Karma has never sought to destroy intellectual and individual liberty... It has not involved its decrees in darkness purposely to perplex man, nor shall it punish him who dares to scrutinize its mysteries. On the contrary, he who unveils through study and meditation its intricate paths, and throws light on those dark ways, in the windings of which so many men perish owing to their ignorance of the labyrinth of life, is working for the good of his fellow-men... Believers in Karma cannot be regarded as Atheist or materialists - still less as fatalists... Karma is a highly philosophical truth, a most divine noble expression of the primitive intuition of man concerning Deity. It is a doctrine which explains the origin of Evil, and ennobles our conceptions of what divine immutable Justice ought to be, instead of degrading the unknown and unknowable Deity by making it the whimsical, cruel tyrant, which we call Providence...

Intimately, or rather indissolubly, connected with Karma, then, is the law of rebirth, or of the reincarnation of the same individuality in a long, almost interminable, series of personalities. The latter are like the various costumes and characters played by the same actor, with each of which the actor identifies himself and is identified by the public, for the space of a few hours...

"Pilgrim" is the appellation given to our Monad... during its cycle of incarnations. It is the only immortal and eternal principle in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole - the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle... Is this annihilation, as some think?...To see in Nirvana annihilation amounts to saying of a man plunged in a sound dreamless sleep... that he too, is annihilated... Re-absorption is by no means such a "dreamless sleep," but on the contrary, absolute existence, an unconditioned unity, or a state, to describe which human language is absolutely and hopelessly inadequate... [7]

The doctrine of Metempsychosis has been abundantly ridiculed by men of science and rejected by theologians, yet if it had been properly understood in its application to the indestructibility of matter and the immortality of spirit, it would have been perceived that it is a sublime conception... If the Pythagorean metempsychosis should be thoroughly explained and compared with the modern theory of evolution it would be found to supply every "missing link" in the chain of the latter... there was not a philosopher of any notoriety who did not hold to this doctrine of metempsychosis, as taught by the Brahmans, Buddhists, and later by the Pythagoreans.

The esoteric doctrine teaches, like Buddhism and Brahmanism, and even the Kabala, that the one infinite and unknown Essence exists from all eternity, and in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. In the poetical phraseology of Manu these conditions are called the "day" and the "night" of Brahma. The latter is either "awake" or "asleep." ...Upon inaugurating an active period of expansion of this Divine essence, from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmic forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner, when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. The visible universe becomes disintegrated, its material dispersed; and "darkness," solitary and alone, broods once more over the face of the "deep". To use a metaphor which will convey the idea still more clearly, an outbreathing of the "unknown essence" produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has been going from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an infinite series which had no beginning and will have no end. [8]

Walter Martin, author of The Kingdom of the Cults affirms that Theosophy is Eastern in its origin; it is Hinduistic and Buddhistic in its theology, Gnostic in its vocabulary, and Christian only in its key terminology, which is specifically designed to imitate the true content of the Gospel...Theosophy is opposed to not only the true Biblical teaching of God personality and nature, as well as the deity of His Son, but it also vigorously denies Christ's subtitutionary sacrifice for sin. [9]

William Q. Judge

William Q. Judge (1851-1896), a former president of the Theosophical Society in America, once said: "The educated and inquiring mind knows that dogmatic religion can only give an answer invented by man while it pretends to be from God." [10]

[1] H. P. Blavatsky, "What are the Theosophist?" The Theosophist, October, 1789, p. 5.

[2] H. P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, Los angeles: Theosophy Co.,1930, pp. 3, 5.

[3] Schall-Herzog, pp. 408-409.

[4] The New Schaff-Herzog Religious Encyclopedia, Article on Theosophy, page 407. The Kingdom of the Cult. Walter R. Martin, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, Minesota, 55438, 1977, p. 222.

[5] Elementary Theosophy, p. 22.

[6] Elementary Theosophy, p. 23-25; 19. 20.

[7] The Secret Doctrine, 1888, Theosophy Co. Los Angeles, I, 16-17, 48 fn 53-54, 238, 266, 477-478, 639, 643-644; II, 304-306.

Reincarnation, Compiled and Edited by Joseph Head and S.L. Cranston, 1967, Causeway Books, pp. 157-158.

[8] Isis unveiled, Los Angeles: Theosophy Co. 1931. I, vi, 8-9, 12; II 264-265.

[9] Walter R. Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults, Bethany House Publishers, 1977, pp. 233 and 229.

[10] Reincarnation, Compiled and Edited by Joseph Head and S. L. Cranston, Causeway Books,1967, p. 159.

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