Buddhism and Theosophy

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Theosphical teachings have borrowed some concepts and terms from Buddhism. Theosophical writers have also interpreted some Buddhist teachings in unorthodox ways. Some theosophists like Blavatsky, Helena Roerich and Henry Steel Olcott also became Buddhists. Henry Steel Olcott helped shape the design of the Buddhist flag. Theosophy truly has no place in Buddhism as traditionally the study of theosophy was fitted to European traditions and religions and most of Buddhism's constructs.

Tibetan Buddhism was popularised in the West at first mainly by theosophists like: Evans-Wentz, Alexandra David-Neel.

Blavatsky sometimes compared Theosophy to Mahayana Buddhism. In The Key to Theosophy she writes:

"But the schools of the Northern Buddhist Church…teach all that is now called Theosophical doctrines, because they form part of the knowledge of the initiates..."[1]

Voice of the Silence[edit]

Zen Buddhism scholar Dr. D. T. Suzuki wrote about Blavatsky's book The Voice of the Silence: "Undoubtedly Madame Blavatsky had in some way been initiated into the deeper side of Mahayana teaching and then gave out what she deemed wise to the Western world..."(Eastern Buddhist, old series, 5:377) He also commented: "Here is the real Mahayana Buddhism." (The Middle Way, August 1965, p. 90.)

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • C. Jinarajadasa and C.W. Leadbeater. The Smaller Buddhist Catechism. Translated from the Sinhalese by C. Jinarâjadâsa [1]
  • H. S. Olcott:A Buddhist catechism; Madras 1881
  • H. S. Olcott. The Golden Rules of Buddhism [2]
  • A. P. Sinnett. Esoteric Buddhism. London, Chapman and Hall Ltd 1885 [3]
  • Henk J. Spierenburg. The Buddhism of H.P. Blavatsky ISBN 0-913004-68-5
  • David Reigle. The Book of Dzyan Research Reports [4]
  • David Reigle. Theosophy and Buddhism (Fohat, Spring 2000, pp. 14–17, 22-23.) [5]
  • Helena Roerich. Foundations of Buddhism.
  • Subba Row. First Ray in Buddhism [6]


  1. ^ Blavatsky, H. P. (11 August 2007). The Key to Theosophy. United States of America: Theosophy Trust. p. 11. ISBN 978-0-9793205-2-1. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 

External links[edit]