Introduction to Theosophy and Maitreya Theosophy
From a talk given by Ananda Tara Shan, 3 July 1997
With so many wonderful books about Theosophy, and such a long tradition, it seems presumptuous to write a brief introduction to the topic of the Divine Wisdom. Nonetheless, some readers will first encounter the topic here, and thus we will offer a beginning sketch of Theosophy and Maitreya Theosophy.
The word 'Theosophy' means Divine Wisdom. Theosophy refers to the underlying truth, the ancient wisdom, found in all religions and in all philosophies. According to H.P. Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society and prolific writer of Theosophical teachings, Theosophia means 'Wisdom-religion'; it is the 'substratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies. . . . In its practical bearing, Theosophy is purely divine ethics' (Theosophical Glossary, 1892, p. 328).
What, then, does this Divine Wisdom contain? What is the underlying truth to which it refers? What a huge question. Here we will outline a few of the concepts and ideas, and will hope that if you are interested, you will do further reading (see, for example, Some Suggestions for Beginning to Read in the Theosophical Literature).
Theosophy describes a spiritual path of evolution of the soul through human life to reunification with Spirit, with God. Through the course of many, many lives, human beings develop consciousness of spirit and gradually learn to live according to principles of goodwill, love, and service. The Law of Karma, the concept that you reap what you sow (also called the Law of Cause and Effect and the Law of Justice), affects each life according to our actions, both good and bad. We must redeem the karma of our bad actions until our debts are paid, until there is harmony between our debts and our credits. We may restore this balance through good actions, through service and self-sacrifice.
Just as we have a physical anatomy, so, too, human beings have a spiritual structure of inner bodies and force centres. All life is energy in varying levels of vibration; over time, we learn to use energy of higher and higher vibrations as we purify the physical, emotional, and mental levels of our being. Spiritual healers, for example, use energy in the form of light to help heal darkness and distress in the personality of clients.
All energy emanates from God in the form of the Seven Rays. All forms have life and being and aspects of soul, whether a rock, an animal, a human being, the Earth, the stars, the Seven Rays.
In each lifetime, certain lessons are meant to be learned, lessons identified by the soul before this life. In each life, our personality self is meant to find its dharma, its lessons, and learn them; in each life, we are meant to gradually increase the light of the soul as it is reflected in our personality. In time, we will learn to allow the soul to govern the personality; this is the characteristic of the highly developed human being: one who lives according to the will of the soul and the Will of God.
When a soul has learned all the lessons of the Earth plane, has lived many human lives and has perfected the lower self, then that soul no longer needs to reincarnate on Earth. Many souls do choose, however, to remain in service to humanity, to remain nearby and to work for the continued evolution of their brothers and sisters. Obviously, human life contains a great deal of suffering, and those who have suffered and have learned compassion often wish to stay to help. These are the perfected beings we know as the Masters, the Hierarchy, the inner government of Earth.
The Masters inspire human beings to develop new ideas, music, literature, inventions, social movements; They strive to help humanity surrender to the Will of God; They demonstrate love and compassion; They ask us to open our hearts and to refine our minds.
The Masters have given the Divine Laws to humanity in the forms of different religions over time. The Lord Gautama Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path, explaining the origin and the end of suffering; the Lord Jesus Christ taught the way of love. Theosophy encompasses the truths of all religions, but it also teaches discrimination: the wise recognition that Divine Truth is interpreted by imperfect human beings, and that the message received may not always be the message sent. Thus we see, for example, cruelty done in the name of religion.
One of the most beautiful Theosophical texts is a small book titled, At the Feet of the Master. In succinct and simple prose, it describes the "four qualifications there are for this pathway" – these are discrimination, desirelessness, good conduct, and love. Throughout the book, these qualifications are explained, guidelines for living a holy life. Theosophical principles of harmlessness, service, right human relations, right livelihood, right speech, love, and sacrifice are woven within these recommendations for the path.
Maitreya Theosophy refers to Divine Wisdom seen in the Light of the Lord Maitreya, the Risen Christ, the Redeemer, Who will come again as the fifth Buddha in 500 years. The teachings of Maitreya Theosophy have evolved out of the philosophies given by the Lord Buddha, expressed as the Noble Eightfold Path 2500 years ago, and by the Lord Christ, expressed in His instructions to humanity about love, as well as from teachings in the more recent Theosophical tradition, begun by H. P. Blavatsky around 1875. Maitreya Theosophy has become known to us largely through the work of Ananda Tara Shan.
The teachings of Maitreya Theosophy focus on helping people live a practical spiritual life, one lived according to Divine principles, particularly principles of love and service. In time, such lives will create right human relations, relations of light between human beings, untouched by desire or greed.
Maitreya Theosophy teaches that in order to achieve a balanced and holy life which brings light into the world, one must bring Spirit into all aspects of one's life. Thus, we are encouraged to take part in Healing Services for the Earth and humanity, to meditate, to study the teachings, to participate in the healing system, to nurture a harmonious family life, to give service, and to carry out one's dharma, the right livelihood which is one's work in this lifetime. Through balanced and concentrated attention to each of these components, the teachings of Maitreya Theosophy will become alive in one's life. Such a life will contribute to the healing of the world.
[The teachings of Maitreya Theosophy continue to be expanded by new knowledge, which is called the Living Word, given from the Lord Maitreya and other Masters through the Theosophical teacher, Ananda Tara Shan. Further understanding of the teachings of Maitreya Theosophy may be gained from reading in the book, The Living Word of the Hierarchy, transmissions and writings of the Hierarchy through Ananda Tara Shan.]