by the Rt. Rev. C.W. Leadbeater


How did this scheme become known, some may ask; by whom was it discovered? We cannot speak of it as discovered, for in truth it has always been known to mankind, though sometimes temporarily forgotten in certain parts of the world. There has always existed a certain body of highly developed men, men not of any one nation, but of all the advanced nations, who have held it in its fullness; and there has always been pupils of these men, who were specially studying it, while its broad principles have always been known in the outer world. This body of highly-developed men exists now, as in past ages, and Theosophical teaching is published to the Western world at their instigation, and through a few of their pupils.

Those who are ignorant have sometimes clamorously insisted that, if this be so, these truths ought to have been published long ago; and most unjustly they accuse the possessors of such knowledge of undue reticence in withholding them from the world at large. They forget that all who really sought these truths have always been able to find them, and that it is only now that we are in the Western world are truly beginning to seek.

For many centuries Europe was content to live, for the most part, in the grossest superstition; and when reaction at last set in from the absurdity and bigotry of those beliefs, it brought a period of atheism, which was just as conceited and bigoted in another direction. So that it is really only now that some of the humbler and more reasonable of our people are beginning to admit that they know nothing, and to enquire whether there is not real information available somewhere.

Though these reasonable enquirers are as yet a small minority, the Theosophical Society has been founded in order to draw them together, and its books are put before the public so that those who will, may read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest these great truths. Its mission is not to force its teaching upon reluctant minds, but simply to offer it, so that those may take it who feel the need for it. We are not in the least under the delusion of the poor arrogant missionary, who dares to condemn to an unpleasant eternity every one who will not pronounce his little provincial shibboleth; we are perfectly aware that all will at last be well for those who cannot as yet see their way to accept the truth, as well as for those who receive it with avidity.

But the knowledge of this truth has, for us and for thousands of others, made life easier to bear and death easier to face; and it is simply the wish to share these benefits with our fellow men that urges us to devote ourselves to writing and lecturing on these subjects. The broad outlines of the great truths have been widely known in the world for thousands of years, and are so known in the present day. It is only we in the West who, in our incredible self-sufficiency , have remained ignorant of them, and scoffed at any fragment of them which may have come in our way.

As in the case of any other science, so in this science of the soul, full details are known only to those who devote their lives to its pursuit. The men who fully know, those who are called Adepts, have patiently developed within themselves the powers necessary for perfect observation. For in this respect there is a difference between the methods of occult investigation and those of the more modern form of science; this latter devotes all its energy to the improvement of its instruments, while the former aims rather at development of the observer.