Becoming A Theosophist


This is the third in a series of four blog posts about Anne Evans’ journey with theosophy. All quotes are from an article written by Anne Evans in 1909 that I discovered after the publication of my biography of Anne Evans.

Anne Evans’ change of opinion about theosophy was a slow process. She wrote that it began when, “I actually, in person, made the acquaintance of a woman whom I discovered was a Theosophist. I found her a very real person, intensely alive to the finer aspects of life, an awakening and stimulating friend.” At first, she did not discuss religion with her new friend, but realized that, because of respect “for her belief and her attitude of aspiration…Theosophy had become something believable by high-minded and intelligent people.

H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) Photo taken 1887 in England

H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891)
Photo taken 1887 in England

Next, her new friend presented her with a copy of the Bhagavad Gita. Anne was honestly able to say how much she liked the work, and how beautiful she found it. (Years later, Anne Evans wrote a paper on the Bhagavad Gita which she read to the Denver Fortnightly Club, and which was subsequently published in the Theosophical Quarterly.) The next gift book presented more difficulty. The Voice of the Silence was written by the founder of Theosophy, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and consisted of translations of ancient mystical pre-Buddhist and Buddhist precepts. Over this work, Anne wrote, “I could only shake a puzzled head.” However, the next Christmas, she was happy to “recognize some quotations in a calendar as coming from this source, and to find them full of meat when read slowly and separately.

There followed a very long stage of “delaying.” What moved her along in her identification with Theosophy was the volume of attacks on it, in the press and elsewhere, which she felt to be unfair and based on misunderstanding. She found herself defending it, with statements such as, “But I really don’t believe that is their stand-point,” giving such reasons as I could, though always adding, “Of course, I’m not speaking from the inside.” Although she was beginning to feel “some real and central beauty dawning upon me … it seemed almost obscured by a murky cloud, which I thought of as occultism and mysticism.

Anne wrote that, at this point she had no “foreshadowing that I should desert the agnostic party. I was not in search of a faith.” But, since she seemed to be destined “for a semi-defense of something I neither understood nor fully believed, I chose to be better informed, to get more refuting facts at my disposal.

In the last blog on this topic, I will cover Anne Evans’ long and far from simple process of learning about all the dimensions of Theosophy, and finally deciding to join it, and so being able to speak about it “from the inside.”

The Theosophical Quarterly

The Theosophical Quarterly

The article referred to is Why I joined the Theosophical Society, in the Theosophical Quarterly, January 1909, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 220-224.

Categories : Anne Evans, theosophy

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