"A theosophist has always before him the ideal of a universal single occultism, free of all religious prejudice."
Here Rudolf Steiner explains the ideals of theosophy, not as Eastern or Western but as a universal movement.
God is no respecter of personalities and neither is occultism.
"Occultism strips itself entirely of the personal element. Systems of philosophy arise directly out of the personal in man; occultism arises out of the impersonal and is on this account capable of general comprehension. And when it is a question of expressing occultism in terms of theosophy, the endeavor is always made to speak to every human heart and every human soul, and in large measure this can be done...."Occultism- the same for all mankind:
"Occultism is in its results one and the same for all mankind. In reality there is no such thing as a difference of standpoint in occultism, — any more than there are different mathematics. It is only necessary in regard to any particular question to have the means actually at hand to acquire knowledge on on that question, and the knowledge will be the same as is reached by everyone who has the right means at his disposal.
"Thus, speaking in the ideal sense, we can just as little admit the existence of different standpoints in occultism as we can imagine there might be different standpoints in mathematics. Consequently occultism, wherever it has made its appearance, has always been recognised as single and universal. It is true that in the various theosophies that have existed from time to time and have supplied the outer cloak, so to speak, of occult truths, differences show themselves; but that is because the truths have had to be clothed differently for one folk or one epoch, than for another folk or another epoch. In other words, the differences between the theosophies that exist on the Earth lie in the manner of thought used to clothe the occult truths. The foundations of occultism are always and everywhere one and the same...."
"Occultism knows no such differentiations, it knows nothing that might stir up opposition between man and man. No cause for opposition exists, since occultism is the single undivided property of all mankind. And inasmuch as theosophy should in our time concern itself with the provision of a right and proper expression for occultism, it too must take care to absorb as little as possible of the differentiations that have manifested themselves in mankind. It must set itself the aim of being a faithful expression of occult truth and occult connections in so doing, it will inevitably also work for the overthrow of all specialised world-conceptions and help to break down religious differentiations."There is no Eastern, Western, Christian, Buddhist Theosophy:
"We must learn completely to overcome the inclination to a theosophy of a definite stamp and coloring. It has gradually come about in the history of evolution that theosophies have tended to receive a certain nuance and coloring in accordance — I will not say with religious prejudices, but with religious preconceived feelings and opinions. Theosophy needs to keep constantly in view its ideal, — to be a reflection of occultism. There can therefore be no such thing as a Buddhist theosophy or a Hindu theosophy, or a Zoroastrian or a Christian. Naturally, regard must be had to the characteristic ideas and thoughts with which particular people will approach theosophy.
"Nevertheless it must never let go its ideal of being a pure expression for occult truth. It was, for example, a repudiation of the fundamental principle of occultists all the world over, when a theosophy made its appearance among certain societies in
Central Europe, calling itself a "Christian" theosophy. As a matter of fact, you can just as little have a Christian theosophy as a Buddhist theosophy or a Zoroastrian."
"The relation theosophy has to assume to religion is that of an expounder of its truths. For theosophy is in a position to understand the truths of religion....."
"A great work for peace on earth would be accomplished if unity and harmony could be established in regard to the higher realms of occult knowledge. Let that stand before us as an ideal. It is hard of attainment. When one reflects how intimately men are bound up with their religious prejudices and with the whole way in which they have been educated, one will readily perceive the difficulty of presenting them with something that is not colored with any religious prejudice but is as faithful a picture as possible of occult knowledge.
"Within certain limits we must be prepared to recognise that as long as the Buddhist takes the standpoint of the Buddhist faith, he rejects the standpoint of the Christian. And if theosophy takes on a Buddhist coloring, then that Buddhist theosophy will quite naturally show itself inimical, or at any rate unsympathetic, to occultism. We shall also understand how difficult it is, in a realm where Christian forms prevail, to come to an objective knowledge, let us say, of those aspects of occultism which find expression in Buddhism. Our ideal, however, must always be to meet the one point of view with just as much understanding as the other and to establish over the whole earth a harmonious and peaceful relationship based on mutual comprehension.
"The Buddhist and the Christian who have become theosophists will understand one another, they will be sure to discover a standpoint where they are in harmonious agreement. A theosophist has always before him the ideal of a universal single occultism, free of all religious prejudice. The Christian who has become a theosophist will understand the Buddhist when he says: "It is not possible that a Bodhisattva who has passed from incarnation to incarnation and has at length become Buddha (as happened in the particular case with the death of Suddhodana) should afterwards return again into a human body.
"For in becoming Buddha he has attained to such a lofty stage of human evolution that he does not need ever to pass again into a human body." The Christian will reply to the Buddhist: "Christianity has not up to the present given me any revelation concerning Beings like Bodhisattvas, but as I strive after theosophy I learn to recognise not only that you know this truth out of your knowledge, but that I too must receive it as truth." For as theosophist, the Christian will say to himself: "I understand what a Bodhisattva is, I know that the Buddhist speaks absolute truth about these Beings, he utters a truth which could be spoken in lands where Buddhism prevailed. I understand it when the Buddhist says that a Buddha does not return again into a fleshly organism."
"The Christian who has become a theosophist understands the Buddhist who has become a theosophist. And if the Christian were now in his turn to address the Buddhist, he could say: "When one studies the Christian faith in its true occult content, as it is studied in occult schools, then one finds that the Being who is designated by the name of Christ" — the name of Christ may be quite unknown to the other — "is a Being who was never on earth before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. He is a Being who can never come again in a physical body; for that would contradict the whole nature of the Christ."
"When the Buddhist who has become a theosophist hears this from the Christian, he will answer him in the following way: "Just as you understand how impossible it is for me to admit that a Buddha, after he has once become Buddha, can come again in a fleshly body, — just as you understand me, recognizing what has been imparted to me as truth, so am I ready to recognize the share of truth that has been communicated to you. I try to recognize what you receive from your faith, namely, that at the beginning of Christianity stands, not so much a Teacher, but a Deed, an Act." For the occultist places at the beginning of Christianity not Jesus of Nazareth, but the Christ, and he sets the actual moment of its beginning in the Mystery of Golgotha.
"Buddhism differs from Christianity in that it has a personal teacher as its starting-point, whereas Christianity has a deed, the deed of salvation and release, the deed accomplished by the death on the Cross on
Golgotha. Not a doctrine but a deed stands at the foundation of Christian evolution. This the Buddhist theosophist understands, and he receives what is given as the occult foundation of Christianity and in doing so helps to establish harmony among mankind. He would be breaking the harmony if he were to apply to Christianity his Buddhist ideas.
"It is the part of the Christian, when he becomes theosophist, to understand Buddhism out of Buddhism itself, not to re-mould in some way of his own the ideas about Bodhisattva and Buddha, but rather to understand them as they are contained in Buddhism. Similarly it is the part of the Buddhist to receive the Christian ideas as they are, for they form the occult foundations of Christianity. Just as it is impossible to bring together the Being Who is named with the name of Christ with Beings of a lower kind, namely with Bodhisattvas, so also is it impossible, if we would remain loyal to the ideal of theosophy, to allow theosophy to be anything else than a faithful reflection of the single undivided occultism....."
"Occultism has always had the character of universality and is independent of every Buddhist as well as of every Christian shade of colouring. Hence it can understand objectively the Mussulman or the Zoroastrian or the Buddhist, even as it can also the Christian. What I have said will help you to see how it is that occultism, which is universal, has come to assume in theosophy so many different forms in the course of human evolution. And you will be able also to see why in our time it is so important to hold up as the ideal, not that one form of religion should gain the victory over the rest, but that all the different forms of expression of religion should mutually
understand one another. The first condition for this, however, is that men should come to an understanding of the occult foundations that are the same for all religions."