My Favorite Theosophical Authors

Updated: Nov 2

It was my good fortune to have both a mother and father who were

Theosophists. My father was a quiet, introverted man, but it was my mother―a

teacher by profession―who aroused my interest in Theosophy, mostly through

casual conversations in which she responded to my childlike questions.

My portal to the world of theosophical literature was a vintage secretary desk

with a hutch in which my parents stored their books. Although I found many of

them beyond my comprehension, I managed to find a few that could be understood

by a boy of twelve or thirteen years old.

Since those childhood years, I continued to read books on Theosophy. Like

anybody else, I have my favorites. What follows is a short list, which does not

include Blavatsky, since The Voice of the Silence is essentially a translation, and it

is clear that The Secret Doctrine was not written by her alone.

Charles Leadbeater was one of the first authors to have an impact on me. What

is remarkable is how he uses ordinary language to describe extraordinary

phenomena. Say what you want about Leadbeater, it cannot be denied that he was

a keen observer. His descriptions of the unseen realms are clear and lucid. One of

my favorites by CWL is The Inner Life, a compilation of informal talks given at

Adyar circa 1910.

How can one talk about CWL without mentioning Annie Besant? To this day

she remains one of my favorite authors. Her writings convey a sense of power and

breadth of vision that inspires both awe and respect. Her most challenging book is

A Study in Consciousness, a serious work that cannot be read over a single

weekend. Its panoramic view of the unfoldment of consciousness is epic. Besant’s

use of metaphor and allegory is found in From the Outer Court to the Inner

Sanctum, which describes the path of discipleship as only Besant can.

When I first read The Science of Yoga by I.K. Taimni in 1992, it was a struggle.

Over the ensuing three decades, I have returned to it again and again, gradually

coming to understand it more and more. His insightful commentary on Patanjali’s

Yoga Sutras, in my opinion, is simply the best out there. (I have six other

translations.) I also recommend Man, God and the Universe. What I appreciate

about Taimni is his ability to explain obscure or subtle concepts in a clear and

organized manner.

Like Leadbeater, Geoffrey Hodson was a clairvoyant. His inspired writings on

the devic kingdom are found in The Brotherhood of Angels and Men. I remember

looking at my parent’s copy and being mesmerized by the marvelous drawings of

angels. Hodson also wrote convincingly on the path of discipleship, giving the

reader the sense that he spoke from personal experience. In this regard, my favorite

is The Yogic Ascent to Spiritual Heights.

And I should not forget to mention G. de Purucker, whose intimate knowledge

of esotericism is astounding. He must have had many incarnations in India. His

writings are not easy to read if one is unfamiliar with Sanskrit terms, but those who

persevere will be rewarded. Perhaps, the best entrée into Purucker would be the

three-volume Dialogues of G. de Purucker. It is written in a question-answer

format and taken from his classes given at the Theosophical Society in Point


In closing, I would caution readers not to dismiss a book simply because it is

old. We should not judge authors of the past by the stylistic standards of today. To

do so is to shut ourselves off from their wisdom. Besides, is it not obvious that the

style used by contemporary authors will seem outdated fifty or sixty years from

now? Seek out the substantive ideas in books and do not let stylistic elements stand

in the way.

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