What Theosophy Is
An Address by William Q. Judge
Summarized in the San Francisco Chronicle, September 28, 1891
William Q. Judge of New York told an audience of several hundred ladies and gentlemen in Odd Fellows’ Hall last night all about “Theosophy, What It Is and What It Is Not.” Mr. Judge is a fluent, ready talker, and his address was frequently interrupted by applause. He certainly had no reason to object to Jerome Anderson’s introduction. “Mr. Judge,” he said, “has devoted a lifetime—perhaps many of them—to the great subject of which he will speak tonight.”
“All of us,” began Mr. Judge, “are in vain pursuit of happiness. The rich, with wealth and power, are unhappy; the poor, being poor, are unhappy. Neither religion nor science, as now presented, will solve the problems of our daily and inner life, of the political and social systems that annoy from the cradle to the grave. We think that Theosophy will. Let us first tell what Theosophy is not.
“It is not spiritualism; it is not a mass of mystic humbug, although it accepts the facts of spiritualism. It is not Buddhism, the religion which, with its high and pure morals, involves two-thirds of the human family, but it accepts that part of Buddhism which is true. It is not Brahmanism. It is not Christianity. It has in it what is good in both. Above all it should not be confounded with the Theosophical Society, a movement primarily of investigation—a studied, continuous crusade that knows no doctrine and fights under the motto ‘no religion is higher than truth.’ Can we not all accept it and seek as best we may the true destiny of the human family?
“We can now say what Theosophy is. The word Theosophy will range in meaning as does your conception of the universe and God. It is the wisdom of religion. It accepts the complete evidence that evolution is the greatest law of nature; not that evolution which declares man has come from the ape; not that evolution which evolves mind from matter, but that evolution which postulates the inseparable coexistence of mind and matter, that asserts man to be a spiritual being progressing by the use of matter.
“Man is a spiritual being revolving in seven different planes. He must be considered as a body, being used by a spiritual being. Man’s first aspect is his body, which does not include the forces within it. The second is the life principle, which is universal in nature. The third is the astral body, which the newspapers love so well to ridicule. It is of the ether and a little more. It is invisible to ordinary sight, but it is there. It is the design for the mortal body, the first link between that body and the man within, and the fact which will account for spiritualism and clairvoyance.”
Mr. Judge completed his sevenfold characterization with “human passions, the mind and the principle of spirituality.”
“We will assume man’s immortality,” he continued. “When did it begin? If it always existed, where? We say, in common with millions of others, that as we are immortal and must have existed somewhere it is probable that we existed here and we arrive at the old doctrine of reincarnation. We have taken up body after body to develop, to suffer and to enjoy. There is no spot in the cosmos that is without consciousness; nothing in the universe is dead. Let us bring into the problem the doctrine of action and reaction, the moral law of compensation, of cause and effect. Its solution has then been made. Reincarnation alone will explain the terrible inequalities of life, will clear away the apparent power of chance and accident, and show to men and nations that as they sow so shall they reap.
“Theosophy will explain all the perplexing problems of life. It will vindicate the sublime and just laws of the universe. It will implant once more in human affairs that compulsion to right which the fading doctrine of hell once made. Reincarnation is the balance wheel, the equalizer, the avenger who knows no end till justice is done. You must come and take that which you have earned.”