Recommended Books for Students New to Theosophy
The Key to Theosophy, by H. P. Blavatsky
The subtitle of this work says a great deal about it:
“Being a Clear Exposition, in the Form of Question and Answer, of the ETHICS, SCIENCE, AND PHILOSOPHY for the Study of which The Theosophical Society has been Founded.”
And the Preface to the original edition provides insight into its purpose:
“The purpose of this book is exactly expressed in its title, “THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY,” and needs but few words of explanation. It is not a complete or exhaustive text-book of Theosophy, but only a key to unlock the door that leads to the deeper study. It traces the broad outlines of the Wisdom Religion, and explains its fundamental principles; meeting, at the same time, the various objections raised by the average Western enquirer, and endeavouring to present unfamiliar concepts in a form as simple and in language as clear as possible.”
The contents of the book cover topics of a wide breadth, including much on HPB’s vision of the Theosophical Society, chapters on the Fundamentals of Theosophy, on Man and Nature, on Reincarnation and Post-Mortem States, etc.. As an introductory text it is of paramount importance.
The Voice of the Silence, by H.P. Blavatsky
The quintessential work on Theosophical Ethics, the Voice of the Silence is the cornerstone of the practice of Theosophy. The work is directed towards those who wish to truly walk the age-old path taught by Buddha, Lao-Tze, Sankaracharya, Pythagoras and all other great ethical teachers that have graced the pages of human history.
The practice described poetically through the pages of this work is aimed unveiling the true Path of Compassion for the student. It may be likened to the Master who would point the way, and the reader to the disciple who would walk that path.
A small work in volume, its true measure is to be found in the tranformational power it may have on one’s life, if they take its precepts to heart.
The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Quan Judge
This wonderful book outlines many of the key ideas treated of in theosophical literature. Each chapter treats of a core idea, including Karma, Reincarnation, Cycles, General Cosmic Principles, and several chapters detailing The Constitution of Man from a theosophic perspective. As the author states in the Preface to the original edition:
“An attempt is made in the pages of this book to write of theosophy in such a manner as to be understood by the ordinary reader.”
Because of this, The Ocean of Theosophy is one of the more accessible of the theosophical writings of the late 19th century, easily approached by the newcomer. Yet, as the author points out in the opening pages, the ideas treated of carry with them as much depth as the student is willing or able to unlock. For this reason, the book remains essential for even more experienced students.
To Light a Thousand Lamps, by Grace F. Knoche
This wonderful book written by a lifelong student of theosophy is an excellent introduction for those new to theosophical ideas and a helpful companion and guide for long-time students.
Written with warmth and insight, it centers on the major concepts of theosophical philosophy and their application to daily living. Evolution, the awakening of mind, reincarnation, death and illness, karma, the hierarchy of compassion, and other subjects are treated with clarity, vigor, and emphasis on their practical significance. The background and purpose of the Theosophical Society are described, along with H. P. Blavatsky’s life and work, including the fundamental propositions of The Secret Doctrine. (see also: Review Article, Sunrise magazine, February/March 2002)
Universal Theosophy, by Robert Crosbie
Robert Crosbie has a genius for taking the most arcane metaphysics and the most subtle philosophical concepts and presenting them in understandable language that not only appeals to the rational mind but speaks to the compassionate heart. Universal Theosophy is a collection of talks made by Mr. Crosbie presented as short essays. Some of the chapter headings include, The Eternal Verities, What Reincarnates, Sleep and Dreams, Culture of Concentration and Theosophy in Daily Life. This is one of the best books available for becoming acquainted with the core ideas of Theosophy.
Exploring Theosophy, Published by The Theosophical Society
This collection of articles, condensed and edited from theosophical publications, is an invitation to inquirers to explore and enjoy the depth and beauty of theosophy. The Theosophical Society is dedicated to making universal brotherhood better understood and more deeply felt in human hearts. Its philosophy, drawn from the universal wisdom tradition of mankind, offers timeless principles that stimulate intuitive knowing and cast light on any question. These principles provide tools that can help students discover truth within themselves and unlock the mysteries of nature, fostering altruism and compassion for all beings.
Life’s Riddle, By Nils A. Amneus
“In Life’s Riddle are presented some of the ancient teachings that furnish a solution to many of the problems of life and show that Man is not a helpless pawn ruled by blind forces, but that he has the power of choice and freedom of action, and is therefore responsible for his acts, in due time reaping all that he has sown.”
This book provides a wonderful overview of the ancient teaching known as Theosophy, and makes these ideas comprehensible by anyone, of any age. It is a wonderful introductory text, though it also contains much depth.
Thus Have I Heard, by B. P. Wadia
This work by Mr. Wadia is a series of essays published in 1959 by the Indian Institute of World Culture an institution advocating World Peace formed after the second world war by Theosophists. Like Robert Crosbie Mr. Wadia is artful in translating the complicated and the deep into language we can all understand without distortion or alteration. Taking a cue from the second aim of the Theosophical Society Mr. Wadia writes about the ancient wisdom through the eyes of various spiritual teachers and traditions of the past. The major sections are divided as follows: Shri Krishna’s Message, Lord Buddha’s Teachings, Thus Spake Zarathushtra, Nativity of Jesus and His Doctrines, Ancient Philosophy, Karma and Reincarnation, Divine Discipline, Oriental Psychology, Universal Ethics, Some Noble Lives, The Gandhian Way and Social Reforms.
Expanding Horizons, By James A. Long
“Much of the material in this volume, representing the fruit of an exchange of ideas with hundreds of men and women, has appeared in Sunrise magazine and, while considerable editing has been done, we have tried to retain the informality of the original discussions.”
Expanding Horizons weaves its way through many of the most common subjects of discussion for theosophists and those interested in the big questions of life. It gives the student the opportunity for introspection on these subjects, from which they may begin to develop their own interpretations and guide their own path. Highly recommended for new students.
The Path of Compassion, by G. de Purucker
The first two sections in Purucker’s Fountain-Source of Occultism, were written with the aim of imparting upon the student the proper inner atmosphere for their theosophical studies. Purucker seeks here to place at the forefront the ethical, the moral and the practical, and to shed light upon the Path that underlies all true theosophical efforts. The clarity with which he treats of these time-honored subjects may aid in our ability to strike the posture required if our studies are to reveal true wisdom. For the earnest beginner, intent upon walking the path, the chapter on Pledge-Fever is a must.
The work treats of the following:
Section 1. The Primeval Wisdom-Teaching (Passing on the Light; Spiritual Illumination vs. Psychic Illusions; The Still, Small Path; & Pledge-Fever and the Spiritual Will)
Section 2. Discipline precedes the Mysteries (Esoteric Discipline; Meditation and Yoga; The Paramitas and the Exalted Eightfold Path; & The Initiatory Cycle)