The Theosophical Society has been in existence since November, 1875, having been then founded in New York with the following objects:
First. - To form the nucleus of a UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD OF HUMANITY, without distinction of race, creed, caste or color.
Second. - To promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, and sciences, and demonstrate the importance of that study.
Third. - To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man.
The Society appeals for support and encouragement to all who truly love their fellow-men and desire the eradication of the evils caused by the barriers raised by race, creed, or color, which have so long impeded human progress; to all scholars, to all sincere lovers of TRUTH, wheresoever it may be found, and to all philosophers, alike in the East and in the West; and lastly, to all who aspire to higher and better things than the mere pleasures and interests of a worldly life, and are prepared to make the sacrifices by which alone a knowledge of them can be attained.
The Society represents no particular creed, is entirely unsectarian, and includes professors of all faiths. No person's religious beliefs are interfered with, and all that is exacted from each member is the same toleration of the views of others which he desires them to exhibit towards his own.
The Society, as a body, eschews politics and all subjects outside its declared sphere of work, the rules stringently forbidding members to compromise its strict neutrality in these matters.
As a condition precedent to membership, belief in and adherence to the first of the above named objects is required; as to the other two, members may pursue them or not, as they see fit. The act of joining the Society, therefore, carries with it no obligation whatever to profess belief in either the practicability of presently realizing the brotherhood of mankind, or in the superior value of Aryan over modern science, or the existence of occult powers latent in man. It implies only intellectual sympathy in the attempt to disseminate tolerant and brotherly feelings, to discover as much truth as can be uncovered by diligent study and careful experimentation, and to essay the formation of a nucleus of a universal brotherhood.
The promoters of the Society's objects do not declare that in our time there can be established on earth a living brotherhood of peoples and governments. Nor do they expect or desire to sweep away at one blow the various distinctions which now exist in society and government. They believe that, in the natural order of things, with the progress of enlightenment, whatever is an obstacle and encumbrance to the development of human knowledge and happiness will pass away, as the morning mist before the sun.
What the Society hopes and means to achieve is, the bringing together a large body of the most reasonable and best educated persons of all extant races and religious groups, all of whom shall accept and put into practice the theory that, by mutual help and a generous tolerance of each other's preconceptions, mankind may be benefited largely and the chances for discovering hidden truth greatly improved.
The Society sows the seed, leaving it to germinate in the fulness of time, for the benefit of future generations. It represents all creeds and every branch of science, for it believes that science and true religion should be one; it is the opponent of bigotry, no matter where, and the foe of vice, together with whatever tends towards its propagation. At the same time, a man whose past has been bad cannot be refused admittance, if he has a sincere desire to improve himself while he endeavors to benefit mankind. Nor in its members does it look for saint-like perfection, insisting only that each shall, as nearly as he can, live up to his best ideal.
The last of the three objects of the Society appeals to many persons, but not to the greater number. There are both exoteric and esoteric activities, or circles, or groups, at work in the Society, and some persons are desirous of seeking, that they may obtain, psychic powers. The rules for such pursuits are laid down with minuteness in the ancient Hindu books, to which all seekers are referred. No sacred teacher can be supplied to aspirants, nor messages sent to or conveyed from the Adepts. Those who are thus seeking for powers should know that within themselves lies the key to unlock the door; that the very first step toward the place where that key may be found is the acquirement, in truth, of the feeling of universal brotherhood, and that the selfish desire to obtain psychic powers is a bar to such attainment.
At the same time, however, there are many devoted members in various countries who have acquired some information as to ways and means of investigation, and who are so bound up in the work that they consider it their sacred duty to help all inquirers, and, as far as possible, to put all Theosophists who ask them on the same road they themselves are trying to tread.
NOTE. - This information apparently was drawn up in June, 1893, and circulated by William Q. Judge as General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society.