Monday, August 27, 2018

A boring outlook





I've only looked through 147 of the 848 pages in this rare reprint book, "Theosophical Outlook Volumes 1-2". The material is also available on the web in a somewhat different format. "Theosophical Outlook" was the continuator of "ULT", the magazine of the United Lodge of Theosophists. Unfortunately, it's not entirely clear who stands behind "Theosophical Outlook". In its first issue (published in 1916), the anonymous editors claim not to represent any organization at all, while later issues are marked "Theosophical Society" and "Blavatsky Lodge of Theosophists" in San Francisco. My guess is that the magazine represents a split from the United Lodge, but I really don't know.

The material is pretty bland. The secret editors quote profusely from Blavatsky's writings, especially "The Secret Doctrine". They also like to drop short quotes from Emerson and Whitman. The magazine looks non-sectarian, since it reprints articles by Evelyn Underhill and often quotes A. P. Sinnett (who, I believe, was affiliated with the competing Adyar society). There are pieces on reincarnation, psychic phenomena, the antiquity of man and polemics against Haeckel's materialism. The non-sectarian attitude to other spiritual groups has its limits, as can be seen in this attack on New Thought: "It may be said, not uncharitably, that a large number of the books written on the subject of Healing and New Thought are not worth reading. At bestthey contain a small modicum of adulterated Theosophy with an intolerable amount of sorcery. At worst they contain nothing but sorcery slightly mitigated by mere silliness. But occasionally we find something of value, that is to say something in which the admixture of Theosophy is more liberal. Of course it is unacknowledged."

So far, "Theosophical Outlook" resembles its predecessor "ULT".

However, there is a darker tone in some of the material. One article actually reprints a channelled message which doesn't seem to come from the approved Theosophical masters. Sinnett's speculations about the existence of a personal devil and various demons are referenced without negative comment. Many articles suggest that World War I is a karmically necessary cleansing, and that war in general might have a purifying effect.

Clearly, somebody was in a gloomy mood back in 1916...

Not sure how to rate this relatively boring and uninteresting publication (at least the first 147 pages).
Two stars?

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