The Foundation was founded in 1992 by the Theosophical Society, a non-sectarian organisation which welcomes people of all ages and gender, from all cultures and all social backgrounds, from all religions or none.  The motto of the Theosophical Society is “There is no Religion Higher than Truth”.

One of the Society’s principle tenets is that no teacher or writer has any authority to impose his or her teachings or opinions on its members.  Every member has an equal right to follow any school of thought, but has no right to force the choice on any other. Freedom of Thought 

Members the Theosophical Society are free to live in accordance with their own particular faith or philosophy and allow others to do the same.  The Society should produce wise and active philanthropists and many of its members give service to the peoples of the world. Theosophical Society

Many famous peoplehave been influenced by the teachings of Theosophy.  These include writers, artists, politicians, scientists and spiritual teachers, for example:

Rukmini Devi Arundale, Alice A. Bailey, Dr Annie Besant, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Paul Brunton, Mohini Chatterji, Clara Codd, Sir William Crookes, Bhagwan Das, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Duncan, Thomas Edison, Mahatma Gandhi, Allan Octavian Hume, Christmas Humphreys, Vassily Kandinsky, Hilmaaf Klint, Alan Leo, G.R.S. Mead, Piet Mondriaan, Henry Steel Olcott, Nicholas Roerich, Alexander Nikolaievitch Scriabin, Rupert Sheldrake, D. T. Suzuki, Walter Yeeling Evans-Wentz, William Butler Yeats.

The Society was formed by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott in America and throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries it has grown into a worldwide community. Below is an account of how this extraordinary Society came about.

Of the persons present at the preliminary meetings, those who remained to contribute to its firm establishment included Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (President) (succeeded at his death in 1907 by Mrs Annie Besant), Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Recording Secretary) and William Quan Judge (Counsel).In the course of the next few weeks, the formal organisation of the society proceeded with the election of officers, recording of minutes, passing of resolutions, and so on, until on the 17th November the President-elect delivered his Inaugural Address and the Theosophical Society was thus fully constituted. This date has ever since been celebrated as the date of the Society’s formation.

At a time when spiritualism was the subject of widespread discussion and responsible journalism in America, a group of serious-minded men and women came together in the apartments of H.P. Blavatsky in New York to share a common interest not only in the topic of the day but in a wide variety of intriguing subjects. These, according to the records of the meetings, ranged from mediumship and magical phenomena to contemporary scientific discoveries, curiosities of nature and the beliefs and practices of ancient civilisation.

At one of these meetings, the question was asked: “Would it not be a good thing to form a Society for this kind of study?” The date was September 7th 1875.

Over the last hundred years, the modern theosophical movement has divided into several separate organisations, each of which seeks to fulfil the Society’s objectives in its own way and with its own emphasis. A few years after Madame Blavatsky’s death, the parent organisation split into two: the Society following H. S. Olcott and Annie Besant retained its international headquarters at Adyar, Madras, India and the Society following W. Q. Judge with international headquarters at first in New York City and now in Pasadena USA.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891)

“Theosophy, on earth, is like the white ray of the spectrum, and every religion only one of the seven prismatic colours. Ignoring all the others, and cursing them as false, every special coloured ray claims not only priority, but to be that white ray itself, and anathematises even its own tints from light to dark, as heresies. Yet, as the sun of truth rises higher and higher on the horizon of man’s perception, and each coloured ray gradually fades out until it is finally reabsorbed in its turn, humanity will at last be cursed no longer with artificial polarizations, but will find itself bathing in the pure colourless sunlight of eternal truth. And this will be Theosophia.” 
— From The Key to Theosophy

bbHelena Petrovna Blavatsky was a cofounder of the Theosophical Society. She was a remarkable woman who has made a great impact on the thought of the Western world. In her own day, she was controversial because of her remarkable abilities of extrasensory perception, her forthright and outspoken nature, and her fearless attacks on hypocrisy and bigotry. Even today, she continues to be the centre of curiosity and attention as the precursor of “new” ideas. Her great metaphysical knowledge is embodied in her literary work, which has directly or indirectly influenced inquiring minds all over the world.

Madame Blavatsky, ‘that extraordinary woman,’ was born at Ekaterinoslav in Russia at midnight between 30 and 31 July 1831. Her father, Colonel Peter Hahn, came of a noble family originally of Mecklenburg, Germany, but which had settled in Russia for some 300 years. Her mother’s family, also of noble lineage, traced its origins to a ninth century ancestor.

She was a talented pianist, and as a young girl, played in London with Clara Schumann and Arabelle Goddard. In 1848 when she was seventeen, she married General Blavatsky, a very elderly man, from whom she soon separated.

From earliest childhood she attracted attention with her ability to produce psychic phenomena at will and her clairvoyant faculty was such that, even as a child, she was consulted by the nobility about their private affairs and by the police regarding crimes committed. Yet she was not interested in such powers for their own sake, but for the principles and laws of nature that govern them. She became a student of metaphysical lore and travelled to many lands, in search of hidden knowledge. These were extraordinary travels for a lone woman in the nineteenth century. During 1848 and 1849, she studied magic in Egypt with an aged Copt and joined ‘The Druses of Lebanon,’ a secret society. She was present with Garibaldi at the battle of Mentana in 1849 and ‘was picked out of a ditch for dead with the left arm broken in two places, musket balls embedded in right shoulder and leg, and a stiletto wound in the heart.’

When walking with her father in London in 1851, she saw a tall and stately Rajput whom she recognised as a Protector known in her visions from childhood. He spoke to her of a future work she was to do under His direction after preparation in the East. In 1852-54 she attempted to enter Tibet, however she was not successful until 1867-70. During the intervening period, she made contact with spiritualism, learned to ‘bring under her control her marvellous power to produce phenomena at will,’ and engaged in ‘several commercial enterprises’ (a trade in high class woods, head of an artificial flower factory, etc.). In Tibet, she learned, we are told, to manipulate occult forces. In Cairo in 1871 she made an unsuccessful attempt to found a spiritual society upon the basis of phenomena. Then as ‘Madame Laura,’ she did concert tours in Italy and Russia. In 1873 she lived with her brother in Paris, painting and writing (in addition to her other accomplishments she was a fine artist and a very clever caricaturist).

HPB referred to an ancient Fraternity of Adepts or ‘Brothers’. It exists as a perennial source for the preserving and recording of the events and facts of the history of religions and philosophical evolution in the world. The Theosophical Movement is declared to be Their inspiration, and HPB claimed only to be their “agent-messenger” and their student. Whilst in Paris she received peremptory ‘orders’ from ‘the Brothers’ to go to New York to await instructions. She landed on 7 July 1873, without personal funds, having exchanged her first class passage to steerage class (the cheapest) in order to buy steerage class for a poor woman and children who had been swindled. Although she had in her trunk 23,000 francs entrusted to her by her Master, she earned her living by working for a maker of cravats. Still acting under orders she finally took the money to town of Buffalo and gave it to an unknown man just in time to prevent him from committing suicide! An unsuccessful business venture in a Long Island Farm, used up the 1,000 ruble legacy she had received on the death of her father.

In 1874 she was ‘ordered’ to go to the Eddy homestead in Chittenden. This was the scene of various occult phenomena being investigated by Colonel H.S. Olcott. They worked together and founded, together with William Quan Judge, and others, The Theosophical Society in New York City on November 17, 1875.

Isis Unveiled‘, her magnificent attack upon the materialism of religion and science, was published in 1877. She sent the first proceeds together with money received for her various articles published by Russian newspapers and journals, to the Red Cross in Russia to help her compatriots wounded in the Russo-Turkish war.

On 8 July 1878, she became an American citizen; the first Russian woman to do so. Later that year, acting ‘under orders,’ she and Olcott sailed for India; they landed in Bombay in February 1879. In 1880 the two founders toured Sri Lanka on behalf of Buddhism, themselves becoming Buddhists on 19 May 1881. In 1882 they established the headquarters of the Theosophical Society at Adyar, near Madras. This remains the international headquarters for the Society, which is now established in fifty countries of the world.
She made various tours of India between her arrival in 1879 and her visit to Europe in 1884. In the absence of the Founders, came the one sided report of the Society for Psychical Research, in an attempt to show her up as an impostor. Since then, the S.P.R. has retracted the allegations against her. Despite the intervention of her Guru to restore her health, it deteriorated and she was unable to remain at Adyar for more than a short visit paid later that year.

In Wurzburg she worked at ‘The Secret Doctrine’, whose real authors, according to Countess Wachtmeister, were the Adepts. As with Isis Unveiled, the Adepts collected the material and passed it before the inner gaze of H.P.B. In 1887 at Ostend, H.P.B. fell very ill but made another strange recovery explaining that she had ‘elected’ to work for a few more years in her suffering body. By invitation, she moved to London which then became the centre of the Theosophical work in Europe. In this she was assisted by occasional visits of the President-Founder (Colonel Olcott). In 1888 the first two volumes of her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, were published. Much of the knowledge in this book and her other writings was derived from Eastern teachers, with whom she came in touch early in life. In response to the many questions from inquirers, she issued ‘The Key to Theosophy‘ and, for those seeking to practice theosophy’s altruistic ideals, ‘The Voice of the Silence‘, aphorisms embodying the heart of Mahayana Buddhist teaching. She died on 8 May 1891 in London. Her ashes were divided between New York, India, and London, and part of it is interred under her statue in Adyar. In her will she requested that each year, on the anniversary of her death, her friends should assemble and read from The Light of Asia and the Bhagavad Gita. By Colonel Olcott’s wish, this anniversary came to be known as ‘White Lotus Day.’

Colonel Olcott summed up the secret of H.P.B.’s remarkable power in producing swift changes in the lives of those about her as due to:

Her amazing occult knowledge and phenomena-working powers, together with her relation to the hidden Masters. Her sparkling talents, especially as a conversationalist with her social accomplishments, wide travels, and extraordinary adventures. Her insight into problems of philology, racial origins, fundamental bases of religions, and keys to old mysteries and symbols.

Unflinching self-consecration to the Great Ones irradiated the life of H.P.B. and she will ever be known as the ‘Light-Bringer’ of the nineteenth Century.

Publications and further biographical information.

Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907)

olcott111Colonel H.S. Olcott. President-Founder, The Theosophical Society, 1875-1907. Born 2 August 1832 at Orange, New Jersey, U.S.A. Gained international renown at 23 for his work on the model farm of Scientific Agriculture at Newark. Declined Chair of Agriculture in University of Athens offered by Greek Government. Cofounder of Westchester Farm School, near Mount Vernon, New York, the first American Scientific School of Agriculture. His first book Sorghum and Imphee became a school textbook and brought him at 25 offers of a governmental botanical mission to Caffraria, S. Africa, Directorship of Agricultural Bureau at Washington, and managership of two immense properties, all of which he declined. At 26 he toured Europe in the interests of agriculture and his report was published in the American Cyclopedia. Became American correspondent of Mark Lane Express (London), Associate Agricultural Editor (1858-60) of New York Tribune, and published two more books on agriculture. For his public service in agricultural reform was voted two medals of honour and a silver goblet.

As reporter for New York Tribune in 1859, Olcott was present at hanging of John Brown, and though in considerable danger, extricated himself under the seal of Masonic confidence. Joined the Northern Army and fought through North Carolina Campaign, invalided to New York (1862-5). Drafted as Special Commissioner of the War Department and later Navy Department for the investigation of frauds. Received high commendation for purifying the Public Service and cleansing these departments in peril of life and reputation. In 1868 admitted to the Bar. Practised till 1878, specialising in customs, revenue and insurance cases. Published valuable report on insurance while Secretary and Managing Director of National Insurance Convention, a conference or league of State officials to codify and simplify insurance laws. A statute drafted by H.S.O. and another lawyer was passed in ten State Legislatures. As Attorney he had such clients as New York City, N.Y. Stock Exchange, Mutual Equitable Life and Continental Life Insurance Companies, Gold Exchange Bank, Panama Railways, The United Steel Manufacturers of Sheffield, England. Also Hon. Sec. to Citizens’ National Committee working with French Government for first International Exposition of World Industries; also served on International Italian Committee to erect statue to Mazzini in New York. Was nominated by retiring Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and listed by President Johnson to succeed in that office, but he took sides with Congress against the President and lost the appointment. Member of Lotos Club, and intimate friend of Mark Twain, and other famous authors.

Interested in Spiritualism from the age of 19, he reported the psychic phenomena at Eddy Farm in 1874 for New York Sun and New York Graphic. Single copies sold at $1 and seven publishers contended for book rights. Published as People from the Other World, 1875, one of the earliest books on psychical research, highly praised by Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, FRS and Sir William Crookes, FRS. At Eddy Homestead met Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and together they threw themselves into defence of reality of spiritualistic phenomena while attempting to purify spiritualistic movement of its materialistic trend. Helped with the preparation of her book, Isis Unveiled. Together they founded The Theosophical Society at New York, 17 November 1875. Organised the first public cremation in the USA in 1876. In 1878 the Cofounders moved T.S. Headquarters to Bombay, India. Before leaving, H.S.O. received from US President autographed letter of recommendation to all US Ministers and Consuls; and from Dept. of State a special diplomatic passport, and a commission to report to Government upon the practicability of extending the commercial interests of US in Asia. Held first Swadeshi Exhibition in Bombay, 1879. As President of the TS, championed in India, Ceylon, Japan and other oriental countries the revival of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and other faiths. Stimulated Sanskrit revival. United the sects of Ceylon in the Buddhist Section of the Theosophical Society (1880); the 12 sects of Japan into a Joint Committee for the promotion of Buddhism (1889); Burma, Siam, and Ceylon into a Convention of Southern Buddhists (1891); and finally Northern and Southern Buddhism through joint signatures to his Fourteen Propositions of Buddhism (1891). With delegation of Buddhists (1882) in a Hindu Temple at Tinnevelly, planted “Tree of Friendship” as the first act of fraternisation for hundreds of years between Buddhists and Hindus. Founded Adyar Library (1886) at which for the first time in history the religious teachers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism and Islam united to bless a common cause.

Though HSO’s vision the principle of autonomous Sections with an international Headquarters was developed. In one year (1882-83) of mesmeric healing treated 6,000 cripples, deaf, dumb, blind and insane with phenomenal success. Started Olcott Harijan Free Schools for the education of the outcasts of India. Throughout India founded Hindu schools, Boy’s Aryan Leagues and libraries, and sponsored and published Arya Bala Bodhini for Hindu boys. In Ceylon established schools for Buddhist children. Secured for Ceylon Buddhists freedom from religious persecution and Wesak as public holiday. Sponsored informal conference 1891 on possibility of Women’s National Society in India. Planned institute of technological education for the Maharaja of Baroda (1888).

Lectured and travelled for TS many thousands of miles yearly by land and sea. Made Hon. Member of many famous clubs and learned societies. Received official blessing of Pope Pio Nono; blessed by the Buddhist High Priests of Ceylon, Burma, Siam and Japan, for his work for Buddhism (he took Pancha Sheela as a Buddhist in 1880); and adopted into the Brahmin caste for distinguished services to Hinduism.

Publications: Editor The Theosophist after H.P.B. left for Europe 1885; The Buddhist Catechism, 44 editions (1938), translated into 20 languages, an internationally used textbook; Old Diary Leaves, history of TS (in six volumes); and many pamphlets and articles on Theosophy, religion, psychic phenomena, etc. Died 17 February 1907, at Adyar, nominating as his successor Annie Besant.

Publications and further biographical information.

William Quan Judge (1851 – 1896)

judge2William Quan Judge was born in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1851. His family emigrated in 1864 to New York where he specialised in corporate law (New York State Bar, 1872). A cofounder with H. P. Blavatsky and Henry S. Olcott of The Theosophical Society in 1875, he later became General Secretary of its American Section and Vice President of the international Society. In this capacity he organised and presided over the Theosophical Congress at the World’s Parliament of Religions held in Chicago during the 1893 Colombian Exposition. Through his writing and extensive lecturing around the United States, he helped make theosophy known and respected. He died in New York City on March 21, 1896 at the age of 44.

Publications and longer biography

Theosophy’s Western Impact

from Hinduism Today, June, 1995.

“The influence of the Theosophical Society” concludes the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “has been rather significant, despite its small following. The movement has been a catalytic force in the 20th-century Asian revival of Buddhism and Hinduism and a pioneering agency in the promotion of greater Western acquaintance with eastern thought.”

Some of the most influential people of its day were attracted to Theosophy – playwright Oscar Wilde, poet W.B.Yeats, author George Bernard Shaw, inventor Thomas Edison and even baseball’s founder General Abner Doubleday.

Here is a partial sampling of organisations with direct links to earlier Theosophists: From the earlier part of this century came the I Am Movement (with 3 million followers in 1938), Rosicrucianism, the Liberal Catholic Church, Psychiana, Unity (6 million), Christian Science and sections of the New Thought movement – all influential in the higher strata of society. More recent kindred are the Waldorf alternative schools popular in the USA and UK, the London School of Economics and St. James School, and New Age channeller J Knight. The famous Findhorn Garden in Scotland came directly out of Theosophy.

The Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita translations of Swami Prabhavananda with Christopher Isherwood were singularly successful in clearly conveying Hindu thought to the West. Leadbeater’s books on occult sciences, such as chakras and auras, reinforced Patanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms. Aldous Huxley’s book, Doors of Perception promoted mystical experience leading directly to the explosion of interest in the East in the 60s.

If you dig deep enough, you’ll find Theosophical influence in the environmental, animal rights and vegetarian movements. No mystical endeavour in the West is exempt, be it yoga, meditation, channelling, near death experiences, natural healing, past life research, UFOs, Mt. Shasta or St. Germain. Even HINDUISM TODAY is not exempt – our ashram here in Hawaii was built in 1929 by a wonderful Hawaiian poetess who taught Theosophy here to seekers in the same room where we meditate each morning before dawn.

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