Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion

René Guénon

Language: English

Publisher: Sophia Perennis

Published: Dec 15, 2004


Since the late nineteenth century, the Theosophical Society has been a central force in the movement now known as the New Age. Just as the Communist Party was considered 'old hat' by peace activists in the '60s, so the Theosophical Society was looked upon by many in the 'spiritual revolution' of those years as cranky, uninteresting, and passé. But the Society, like the Party, was always there, and-despite its relatively few members-always better organized than anybody else. Since then, the Society's influence has certainly not waned. It plays an important role in today's global interfaith movement, and, since the flowering of the New Age in the '70s, has established increasingly intimate ties with the global elites. And its various spinoffs, such as Elizabeth Clare Prophet's Summit Lighthouse, and Benjamin Crème's continuing attempt to lead a 'World Teacher Maitreya' onto the global stage-just as the Society tried to do in the last century with Krishnamurti-continue to send waves through the sea of 'alternative' spiritualities. Guénon shows how our popular ideas of karma and reincarnation actually owe more to Theosophy than to Hinduism or Buddhism, provides a clear picture of the charlatanry that was sometimes a part of the Society's modus operandi, and gives the early history of the Society's bid for political power, particularly its role as an agent of British imperialism in India. It is fitting that this work should finally appear in English just at this moment, when the influence of pseudo-esoteric spiritualities on global politics is probably greater than ever before in Western history.