The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875 by Colonel Henry Steel Olcott and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky “to study ancient and modern religions, philosophies and sciences, and to investigate the unexplained laws of Nature and the psychical powers latent in man.” Olcott, Blavatsky, and the eclectic band who gathered around them studied what they saw to be the common secret mysteries of the religions of ancient Egypt, Greece, and India. In The Key to Theosophy, Madame Blavatsky responds to questions about Theosophy.
Excerpt from Helena P. Blavatsky’s The Key to Theosophy
ENQUIRER: What are the objects of the Theosophical Society?
THEOSOPHIST: They are three, and have been so from the beginning.
1) To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without distinction of race, colour, sex, caste, or creed.
2) To promote the study of Aryan and other Scriptures, of the world’s religions and sciences, and to vindicate the importance of old Asiatic literature, such as that of Brahmanical, Buddhist and Zoroastrian philosophies.
3) To investigate the hidden mysteries of Nature under every aspect possible, and the psychic and spiritual powers latent in man especially. These are, broadly stated, the three chief objects of the society…
ENQUIRER: What are, in your view, [the] causes [preventing the establishment of a Universal Brotherhood]?
THEOSOPHER: First and foremost, the natural selfishness of human nature. This selfishness, instead of being eradicated, is daily strengthened and stimulated into a ferocious and irresistible feeling by the present religious education, which tends not only to encourage, but positively to justify it. People’s ideas about right and wrong have been entirely perverted by the literal acceptance of the Jewish Bible. [For example, the saying] “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” has come to be the first maxim of your law. Now, I state openly and fearlessly, that the perversity of this doctrine and of so many others Theosophy alone can eradicate.
THEOSOPHER: Simply by demonstrating on logical, philosophical, metaphysical, and even scientific grounds that:
(a) All men have spiritually and physically the same origin, which is the fundamental teaching of Theosophy.
(b) As mankind is essentially one and the same essence, and that essence is one—infinite, uncreated, and eternal, whether we call it God or Nature— nothing, therefore can affect one nation or one man without affecting all other nations and all other men. This is as certain and as obvious as that a stone thrown into a pond, will, sooner or later, set in motion every single drop of water therein.
[From Helena P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy (London: The Theosophical Publishing Society, 1893), 1-4, 28-29.]