WHY STUDY THEOSOPHY ?
The short answer to this question is that if we do not we shall never know what it is. There are many definitions of theosophy, succinct and accurate, which could give us some ideas about Theosophy, but the thing itself we shall never know until we start making some serious efforts to discover what it is all about.
As one definition it could be said to be a knowledge of the nature and processes of Cosmos where Cosmos is the whole of manifest existence including man. The word 'knowledge', however, is capable of at least two meanings, significantly 'as information about', or 'to become acquainted with directly'. The first is merely descriptive, maybe in great depth. The second has the deeper meaning of knowing in the sense that we know we are alive. It is really knowing by identity.
First we have to get the ideas, get information about the subject in all its extensive ramifications, and secondly, so far as we can, to plumb its depths.
In terms of information the subject breaks down into a relatively few heads but each such section is infinitely rich. The magic of the whole grand philosophy is that each of these parts dovetails with all the others. As someone has said, the scheme throughout its totality is self-consistent.
To enumerate a few of its aspects: we have to start with the story of the origins of the Cosmos or Universe, particularly as it applies to our earth. This involves abstruse metaphysics because the Universe that we are aware of is a material manifestation whereas the theosophical concept includes inner subjective realms. Where does matter come from? How does it come to be as it is with all its qualities? Here we are, so to speak, considering the stage upon which all things will come to be, play their part and then disappear from the scene. The show goes on indefinitely. Its scenes succeed each other like those on a stage, with a beginning, a middle and an end. The next scene always carries on from where the last one finished, the whole play, composed of such scenes, also has its beginning and its end.
According to Theosophy beginnings are in the subjective realms, the realms we know of from our ideas, concepts, thoughts and so on. Theosophy says these are the real causative realms of existence, and existence itself is a projection into objectivity from those regions.
Another aspect of the subject is that of the grand process by which the play proceeds through all its scenes. This process is maintained by a dynamism, an everlasting force sustaining movement and action everywhere in the whole process. As the play proceeds a plot is developed and there is a climax. In the grand overall natural process the plot is an evolutionary march where every manifest thing is on a journey towards ultimate perfection. The journey can be very short or very long; the life of an atom or the life of a sun. During that life, however, something has happened. The ephemeral thing not only had a period of existence but played a part in the scheme of things, had its effect on the whole, had some experience. One could say that it learned something.
This learning of things during the periods of existence is how the grand evolutionary programme works. Things are modified by their experience but the experience is ultimately in the inner worlds, a subjective thing, a memory, and the memory of all things in the aggregate is a tremendous totality; an ever-expanding self. This expansion of inner faculties demands for its expression ever more and more complex and responsive material forms. One such material form to these spiritual inner energies is objective man as we see him, but essentially he is an ever-developing immortal entity, a divine Being. This is his true essence.
Man has a tremendously long history, both as an inner subjective being and as a series of successive personalities. In terms of humanity as a whole this constitutes a long objective existence on earth. Mankind as a whole is made up of individuals which constitute our families, our groups, our nations, our races and so on. All these 'collectives' are aggregates of smaller or larger numbers of individual men and women.
Like everything else, men and women as objective beings come and go. They too have their experience and that experience slowly modifies their inner spiritual natures which also progress during aeons of evolution.
Typical stages of the evolutionary process are the kingdoms of Nature; life becoming ever more active and receptive as it moves up through the kingdoms, from mineral to man. This process applies to the races of men. There is slow gradual improvement, at first largely physical, and then by the inner faculties, emotions, mind and ultimately spiritual consciousness.
This whole story is what Theosophy is all about. In the classical literature each phase of the story is dealt with more fully; each detail spelled out; the mechanisms of life's processes explained, so that by putting all the pieces together we can have a comprehensive view of how Nature works and where we fit into the scheme of things; we are put into an inseverable relationship with all Nature: the Cosmos.
As we said at the beginning, this knowledge can be merely informative, but anyone who has applied himself to a study of Theosophy knows that it does more than that. The very effort to comprehend it to some extent results in our establishing it as a reality for us. We begin to discover that we are parts of the whole scheme in a very positive way. Every aspect of our being, subjectively and objectively, derives from Nature. It has come to be as it is as a result of the evolutionary process. As we study and make the necessary efforts we begin to establish a conscious contact with Nature herself. This modifies our awareness; we begin to know what it is we are studying. This knowing is an ever-increasing process of identification. Theosophy then becomes our own 'being-ness'; it wells up in our own consciousness as a kind of perception of the way things are, not only as they appear to be but as they are in reality, in depth, and this is Theosophy. This is the justification for anyone so moved to study it.