The Theosophical Movement has been described as ethical, moral, universal, invisible and continuous. It is invisible, but its presence is felt through the effects produced. It is continuous. The present Movement, for our era and generation, was launched in 1875 in the city of New York by H. P. Blavatsky. But in its timeless aspect we can trace it back century by century to find that it began far back in the night of time.
In the third century A.D. Ammonius Saccas, who made an effort to bring together various conflicting religions and sects by showing that they were in possession of the same truth, used the word "Theosophy." Jacob Boehme's work in Germany, Count St. Martin and St. Germain's efforts in France, as also Luther's reformation of the church and the work done by Thomas Paine in influencing the great American Revolution, form part of this Movement. It is neither Eastern nor Western, but was started in the Spiritual World above. Hence, we say that the Masters or Adepts are behind this Movement. But is it only with U.L.T. [United Lodge of Theosophists] that the Masters are concerned? Mr. Judge writes:
The Theosophical Movement of our era was launched at a very critical juncture in human history, when scientific materialism and religious dogmatism had made truth unwelcome. The Master writes: "It is time that Theosophy should enter the arena." This is a trumpet-call and makes one visualize the wrestler entering the wrestling ring. Theosophy entered the arena and challenged, not just Science and Religion, but its challenge was and is to the whole of humanity. H.P.B. describes the Movement in The Key to Theosophy:
The Theosophical Movement is the movement of ideas. It challenges scientific materialism to face the facts. Theosophy gives out facts and seems to tell science not to dodge them. It has been the rule of science to fit the theories to facts. So, if the theories do not fit these facts then science must be prepared to discard those theories. But on the other hand, Masters are very appreciative of science. Science rejects miracles and so does Theosophy. However, Light on the Path points out the inadequacy of scientific knowledge and scientific methods:
Its challenge to Theology has been that if theory is not backed by explanation, then religion would lose hold over the people. Our era is marked by freedom of thought and investigation. It points to the need to go back from mere rituals and ceremonies to the actual experience of those who are spiritually developed. The very study of Theosophy is challenging, requiring the reader to lay aside prejudice and preconception.
In the Preface to Isis Unveiled H.P.B. writes:
The challenge is not to Darwin or Huxley or a particular individual but to erroneous modes of thought into which the human mind falls. There are people, organizations and institutions, which force people to think in one particular way. We are asked to settle for Truth alone and nothing less than the Truth.
The challenge to the whole of humanity is that the Theosophical doctrines of Universal Brotherhood, Karma and Reincarnation are not mere Utopia or theory but are practicable. Each one of us is challenged to put them into practice and see if the outcome is as claimed by Theosophy. The outcome claimed is that our earth will be a heaven in the 21st century as compared to what it was in the 19th century.
The challenge is especially to students of Theosophy. In order to realize Universal Brotherhood we must first succeed in forming a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. How do we go about it? A Master of Wisdom writes:
"Unflinchingly" is a strong word. It not only means "without hesitation," but it implies "to do something even if it makes us feel absurd in the eyes of others," or even if it causes us physical and mental inconvenience. In forming the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, we are challenged to cease to identify ourselves with our caste or religion and overcome the sense of being a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian, etc. It is possible that even after long acquaintance with Theosophy, the fact that a student belongs to a particular religion or caste can play strange tricks on his consciousness. As Jesus said: "Come ye out from among them and be ye separate." We are invited to live life differently.
We must remember that the Theosophical Movement was launched with a certain purpose. In the middle of the Fourth Round, Manas was lighted up, and in this Fourth Round Kama (desire nature) is predominant. However, Manas will be fully developed only in the Fifth Round, and that point, the whole of humanity will be faced with the "Moment of Choice"—choice between taking the Left or Right Path. Since Manas is not fully developed at present, allowances are made for our choices, as we make for child's wrong choice. But with full development of Manas, we will be fully responsible. So, it is by way of preparation for that crisis, that each one has to take his evolution in his own hands. Those who will do so will be helping in the safety of the entire human race in the future. For this, Masters are guiding humanity. But the law is that to become a disciple, one has to become a servant.
Two most important ideas that Theosophy strives to convey are: (1) Mahatmas exist and they are Ideals and facts in Nature. We can reach their state, as each one of us is inherently perfect. (2) The highest goal of Spiritual life is not Moksha or liberation. As the Master says, "It is not the individual and determined purpose of attaining Nirvana—the culmination of knowledge and absolute wisdom, which is after all only an exalted and glorious selfishness," but the path of Renunciation taught by the Mahayana School. Therefore, each individual is inseparable from other individuals. No man can sin and suffer its consequences alone. So also, no man can progress alone, without lifting or sinking the whole of humanity even so little.
Light on the Path says: "Give your aid to the few strong hands that hold back the powers of darkness from obtaining complete victory." Those who have joined the U.L.T. have accepted this challenge to become servants. They have accepted the challenge of dealing with the "snake of self"—the lower nature. It means being able to firmly say that it does not matter what I like or dislike, whether it hurts me or not, but I will establish a centre of consciousness within me, which will respond to my spiritual obligation. This may make us experience some conflict within, but as Jesus said: "I do not bring peace, I bring the sword"; so also says Theosophy. Each student of Theosophy has a role to play in this Movement. In Light on the Path we are told about Masters describing themselves as servants of humanity. "Part of their [Masters'] service is to let their knowledge touch him; his first act of service is to give some of that knowledge to those who are not yet fit to stand where he stands."
This is the archetypal way of expressing our participation in the Theosophical Movement. Just as Masters have given the knowledge to us, while we are not yet fit to stand in their place, so also we must help those who know still less than us. "Let the darkness within help you to understand the helplessness of those who have seen no light, whose souls are in profound gloom." Those of us who have benefited by Theosophy, have accepted the service of the Masters.
The challenge of Theosophy is not how much we have learnt, but how willing we are to take up this obligation. Each one of us has to decide what role he or she will play in the progress of the whole race. We are afforded this opportunity to participate in the Theosophical Movement, by virtue of being associates of U.L.T. It is up to us to keep this body, instrument or form as pure as possible so that the light within can radiate in the outside world and people outside can get Theosophy pure and simple—uncontaminated by our opinions and biases.