Cornelia Crowther

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Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree, in the grounds of
The Theosophical Society, Adyar, India

The Theosophical Society was formed 133 years ago and despite the trials and tribulations it has been subjected to over the years, first by the Society for Psychical Research and then by religious institutions and the media, it is still flourishing and growing. This is remarkable, but not surprising.

Theosophy (THEO - Divine, SOPHIA - Wisdom), the Divine Wisdom or the Ancient Wisdom as it is known has been with us since pre time. It existed before mankind and will still exist when mankind has perished. It is the underlying Wisdom, the Golden Thread of all religions. Theosophy teaches us there is an underlying unity; the unity which has always been known to exist by all Sannyasins; by Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tse ...

Swami Vivekananda a disciple of Sri RamaKrishna, described Sri RamaKrishna a ‘perfect Sannyasin’. In a book about his Master called ‘As I Saw Him’ he writes: ‘Sri RamaKrishna who incarnated and experienced and taught this wonderful unity which underlies everything, having discovered it alike in Hinduism, Islam and Christianity’ .

Theosophy is not a religion; it is Religion itself. It is said that Theosophy finds you and not the other way around, and when it does you know you are on the right Path. It is an Inner Knowing, not just intellectually, but spiritually. This Knowing is difficult to describe with words - words in Theosophy are always inadequate. It is a feeling I can liken to a straightjacket suddenly having been removed, YOU ARE FREE and for the first time you can breath deeply. You become aware you are in charge of your life and that you are shaping your next life today, and by looking at the life you are living now, which to a large extent you created with your thoughts and through your deeds in previous lives, you can determine how to shape future lives. To realize there is freedom of thought and action, and that you are directly responsible for both can be awe inspiring.

When Theosophy found me I was already in my middle years and I am sorry it did not happen sooner, although I do believe there was an attempt made in my early twenties, but I was obviously not ready. I always loved old bookshops and spent much time in one in Hampstead where, aged 22, I found the ‘Bhagavat Gita’ and ‘The Light of Asia’. I really did not understand either but I found I wanted to own the books. For years I dipped into them without being able to make real sense of what I was reading, until I found Theosophy, or to be more accurate, until it made another attempt to find me. I was browsing among the books in a charity shop, at this time on the other side of London in Richmond, and as I was very interested in elemental spirits and a book named ‘Fairies at Work and a Play’ caught my eye. I skimmed through it and thought it interesting. When I took it home and read it, which did not take long as it is only a small paperback, I was fascinated, and when I became aware by reading the introduction that the author Geoffrey Hodson was a member of the Theosophical Society I began to search the Web as I had never before heard of Theosophy nor the Theosophical Society. By sheer coincidence, or so I thought, there was to be a lecture at the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, at 50 Gloucester Place two days hence, lo and behold, about Geoffrey Hodson, by his god-daughter Diana Dunningham-Chapotin. I was startled by this and naturally I was eager to go. I went, feeling a little apprehensive, as I did not know what to expect, but the moment I entered 50 Gloucester Place and was warmly welcomed by Erica Lauber, a doyen of Theosophy, the ‘Grand Dame’, and now my dear friend (at the time I was not aware I was attending a Blavatsky Lodge public lecture) I felt I had made the right decision to come. I went home armed with theosophical literature ( as H P Blavatsky said, Theosophy is not for intellectual sluggards ) and for the first time in my life I felt I was catching a glimpse of the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. I had been searching for that light since the age of 16 when I lost the Path because I had many questions to which no one gave me answers, to the contrary my questions were frowned upon, and I did not know how to escape from the straight jacket my roman-catholic conditioning had put me in. I still do not even have a fraction of all the answers and I believe I never will have them all or certainly not for many life times to come, but Theosophy has opened my eyes and put me on the path of discovery, and what is exiting is that within the Theosophical Society there is always someone who will try to answer my interminable questions.

It has made me aware that everything in Nature is an emanation of the Divine and we are all individual sparks from the Divine, and this Divine Essence forms a link between human beings. The Divine Spark may not be as evident in some as it is in others, because it has to be nurtured through love and altruism meaning although we all have freedom of thought and action, if we only care for ourselves and do not care for others our individual spark or Individuality may not be able to manifest. Once I understood the spiritual link between the individual Sparks the first of the Three Objects of the Theosophical Society became crystal clear. ‘To form a nucleus of universal brotherhood without distinction of Race, Creed, Sex or Colour.’

Theosophy is for Everyone, whether a member of the Theosophical Society or not. Becoming a member does not make you a Theosophist. There are many Theosophists in the world who are not members of our Society but who lead a theosophical life of love and altruism, but I shall be eternally thankful for the guiding hand which led me to the Theosophical Society and thereby to Theosophy, and for the Insight it has given me.

Cornelia Crowther


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