The Objects of the Theosophical Society

In 1867 H.P.B. began to try to form some kind of organization which would present the great "Truths" to the public. In the United States of America Spiritualism had, since 1847, aroused great public interest. H.P.B. at once espoused its cause. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, a man of considerable worldly position, was deeply interested in the Spiritualistic phenomena which were startling the materialistically-minded world of those days. The strange phenomena at the Eddy Homestead attracted such great attention that a newspaper sent him to report on them. There he and H.P.B. met to begin a lifelong comradeship. In New York these two and others, notably William Q. Judge, after several meetings formed a society which they resolved to call The Theosophical Society. After some preliminary meetings Colonel Olcott's Inaugural Address was given on 17 November 1875. This date was chosen as the birthday of the Society. The Colonel was elected as President, H.P.B. as Corresponding Secretary (a title that died with her), and Mr. Judge as Counsel. The Objects of the newly formed Society were “to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the universe”. In the Preamble to the By-laws, statements were made which have ever since consistently affected the whole policy of the Society. They ran: “Whatever may be the private opinions of its members, the Society has no dogmas to enforce, no creed to disseminate. It is (not) formed to serve as the foe or friend of any sectarian or philosophic body. Its only axiom is the omnipotence of truth, its only creed a profession of unqualified devotion to its discovery and propaganda. In considering the qualifications of applicants for membership, it knows neither race, sex, colour, country nor creed.” This last sentence was soon changed (1878) into an expression of the ideal of aiding “in the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity … of every race”. In 1879 the First Rule was: “The Theosophical Society is formed upon the basis of a Universal Brother­hood of Humanity.” The Second Rule stated that: “The whole Society is under the special care of one General Council and of the President of the Theosophical Society, its Founder, who is himself subject to the authority of a Supreme Council representing the highest Section of the Society.” In 1888 those members interested in the Third Object and who were under H.P.B.’s direction formed a distinct, private and “esoteric” division of the Society with the formation of the Esoteric Section. In 1896 the Three Objects of the Society were worded in the way now so familiar to us all:

1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, caste or colour.

2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.

3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.
 
Last update: January 2009
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