Annie Besant

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Annie Besant: There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, and abandoned grief, who has freed him self on all sides, and thrown off all fetters.
Annie Besant: Better remain silent, better not even think, if you are not prepared to act.
Annie Besant: Liberty is a great celestial Goddess, strong, beneficent, and austere, and she can never descend upon a nation by the shouting of crowds, nor by arguments of unbridled passion, nor by the hatred of class against class.
Annie Besant: A prophet is always much wider than his followers, much more liberal than those who label themselves with his name.
Annie Besant:It is not monogamy when there is one legal wife, and mistresses out of sight.
Annie Besant:Man, according to the Theosophical teaching, is a sevenfold being, or, in the usual phrase a septenary constitution....
Sun God. Annie Besant: Sun-worship and pure forms of nature-worship were, in their day, noble religions, highly allegorical but full of profound truth and knowledge.
Annie Besant:... The command to “preach the gospel to very creature” – though admittedly by doubtful authenticity – has been interpreted as forbidding the teaching of Gnosis to a few, and has apparently erased the less popular saying of the same Great Teacher “Give not that is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine.”
Annie Besant:The body is never more alive than when it is dead; but it is alive in its units, and dead in its totality; alive as a congeries, dead as an organism.

Annie Besant (October 1, 1847September 20, 1933) was a prominent British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule. In 1890 Besant met Helena Blavatsky and over the next few years her interest in theosophy grew while her interest in secular matters waned. She became a member of the Theosophical Society and a prominent lecturer on the subject. She became involved in politics in India, joining the Indian National Congress. When World War I broke out in 1914, she helped launch the Home Rule League to campaign for democracy in India and dominion status within the Empire. This led to her election as president of the India National Congress in late 1917. After the war, she continued to campaign for Indian independence and for the causes of theosophy, until her death in 1933.

Quotes[edit]

  • If people want to eat meat, they should kill the animals for themselves... Nor should they say that if they did not do it the slaughter would still go on.. Every person who eats meat takes a share in that degradation of his fellow-men; on him and on her personally lies the share, and personally lies the responsibility.
    • Annie Besant, Vegetarianism in the Light of Theosophy, 1913, P. 18-20
  • We find amongst animals, as amongst men, power of feeling pleasure, power of feeling pain; we see them moved by love and by hate; we see them feeling terror and attraction; we recognize in them powers of sensation closely akin to our own, and while we transcend them immensely in intellect, yet, in mere passional characteristics our natures and the animals' are closely allied. We know that when they feel terror, that terror means suffering. We know that when a wound is inflicted, that wound means pain to them. We know that threats bring to them suffering; they have a feeling of shrinking, of fear, of absence of friendly relations, and at once we begin to see that in our relations to the animal kingdom a duty arises which all thoughtful and compassionate minds should recognize - the duty that because we are stronger in mind than the animals, we are or ought to be their guardians and helpers, not their tyrants and oppressors, and we have no right to cause them suffering and terror merely for the gratification of the palate, merely for an added luxury to our own lives.
  • No one can eat the flesh of a slaughtered animal without having used the hand of a man as slaughterer. Suppose that we had to kill for ourselves the creatures whose bodies we would fain have upon our table, is there one woman in a hundred who would go to the slaughterhouse to slay the bullock, the calf, the sheep or the pig?... Dare we call ourselves refined if we purchase our refinement by the brutalization of others, and demand that some should be brutal in order that we may eat the results of their brutality? We are not free from the brutalizing results of that trade simply because we take no direct part in it.
  • (On H.P.B) [Helena Petrovna Blavatsky] And we, who lived around her, who in closest intimacy watched her day after day, we bear witness to the unselfish beauty of her life, the nobility of her character, and we lay at her feet our most reverent gratitude for knowledge gained, lives purified, strength developed.
    • Annie Besant, An Autobiography Chapter XIV
  • And thus I came through storm to peace, not to the peace of an untroubled sea of outer life, which no strong soul can crave, but to an inner peace that outer troubles may not avail to ruffle—a peace which belongs to the eternal not to the transitory, to the depths not to the shallows of life.
    • Annie Besant, An Autobiography Chapter XIV
  • Control of the tongue! Vital for the man who would try to tread the Path, for no harsh or unkind word, no hasty impatient phrase, may escape from the tongue which is consecrated to service, and which must not injure even an enemy; for that which wounds has no place in the Kingdom of Love.
  • Yoga is a matter of the Spirit and not of the intellect. For just as water will find its way through every obstruction, in order to rise to the level of its source, so does the spirit in man strive upwards ever towards the source whence it came.
  • But no one can eat the flesh of a slaughtered animal without having used the hand of a man as slaughterer. Suppose that we had to kill for ourselves the creatures whose bodies we would fain have upon our table, is there one woman in a hundred who would go to the slaughterhouse to slay the bullock, the calf, the sheep or the pig?
  • My own life in India, since I came to it in 1893 to make it my home, has been devoted to one purpose, to give back to India her ancient freedom.

In the Outer Court (1895)[edit]

Full text online; Five lectures given at the European Theosophical Society August 1895.
  • Looking at the Temple and the Courts and the mountain road that winds below, we see this picture of human evolution, and the track along which the race is treading, and the Temple that is its goal... along that road round the mountain stands a vast mass of human beings, climbing indeed, but climbing so slowly, rising step after step; sometimes it seems as though for every step forward there is a step backward, and though the trend of the whole mass is upwards it mounts so slowly that the pace is scarcely perceptible. And this aeonian evolution of the race, climbing ever upwards, seems so slow and weary and painful that one wonders how the pilgrims have the heart to climb so long...
    • p. 10
  • Looking at them, it does not seem as though even progress in intellect, slow as that also is, made the pace very much more rapid. When we look at those whose intellect is scarcely developed, they seem after each day of life to sink to sleep almost on the place they occupied the day before; and when we glance over those who are more highly evolved so far as intellect is concerned, they too are travelling very very slowly, and seem to make small progress in each day of life.
    • p. 11
  • At last, after many lives of striving, many lives of working, growing purer and nobler and wiser, life after life, the Soul makes a distinct and clear speaking forth of a will that now has grown strong; and when that will announces itself as a clear and definite purpose, no longer the whisper that aspires, but the word that commands, then that resolute will strikes at the gateway which leads to the Outer Court of the Temple, and strikes with a knocking which none may deny— for it has in it the strength of the Soul that is determined to achieve, and that has learned enough to understand the vastness of the task that it undertakes.
    • p. 17
  • In this way the Soul deliberately labours for growth; deliberately it works at itself, purifying always the lower nature with unceasing effort and with untiring demand; for ever it is comparing itself not with those who are below it but with Those who are above it, ever it is raising its eyes towards Those who have achieved, and not looking downwards towards those who are still only climbing upwards towards the Outer Court.
    • p. 34
  • I define the Soul as that which individualises the Universal Spirit, which focuses the Universal Light into a single point; which is, as it were, a receptacle into which is poured the Spirit; so that that which in Itself is universal, poured into this receptacle appears as separate, identical in its essence always but separated now in its manifestation; the purpose of this separation being that an individual may develop and grow ; that there may be an individualised life potent on every plane in the Universe; that it may know on the physical and on the psychical planes as it knows on the spiritual, and have no break in consciousness of any kind ; that it may make for itself the vehicles that it needs for acquiring consciousness beyond its own plane, and then may gradually purify them one by one until they no longer act as blinds or as hindrances, but as pure and translucent media through which all knowledge on every plane may come.
    • p. 51
  • Learning is all that mass of facts, and of judgments on the facts, and of conclusions drawn therefrom; wisdom is the extracted essence of the whole, that which the Soul has gathered out of all these experiences, and it is, as you are aware, its work in Devachan to turn these experiences into wisdom.
    • p. 55
  • For in the Spirit-World there is Reality; as the process of differentiation proceeds, illusion is produced, and it is this mind, this growing mind, that makes the illusion. It is this growing mind that has endless images and pictures, that has the image-making faculty which we speak of as imagination, that has the reasoning faculty which builds on the airy picture that it has made— it is this which is the real creator of illusion, it is this which slays the Real, so far as the disciple is concerned, and his first work as disciple will be to slay the slayer.
    • p. 57
  • And thus daily, and month by month, and year by year, he will work at his mind, training it in these consecutive habits of thought, and he will learn to choose that of which he thinks; he will no longer allow thoughts to come and go; he will no longer permit a thought to grip him and hold him; he will no longer let a thought come into the mind and fix itself there and decline to be evicted; he will be master within his own house... he will say: “No; no such anxiety shall remain within my mind; no such thought shall have shelter within my mind ; within this mind nothing stays that is not there by my choice and my invitation, and that which comes uninvited shall be turned outside the limits of my mind.
    • p. 60
  • Thus thinking and thus practising, you will find this sense grow within you, this sense of calm and of strength and of serenity, so that you will feel as though you were in a place of peace, no matter what the storm in the outer world, and you will see and feel the storm and yet not be shaken by it.
    • p. 93
  • There is no suffering for him who has finished his journey, and abandoned grief, who has freed him self on all sides, and thrown off all fetters.
    • p. 162

About Annie Besant[edit]

Paul Tice:Besant was an amazing teacher who wrote many books and played a key role in the early years of the Theosophical Society.
At the World Parliament of Religions:As the World's Parliament of Religions [1893] was to meet at Chicago in the following September, and as it had been arranged that our Society should participate in it, I deputed the Vice-President, Mr. Judge, to represent me officially, and appointed Mrs. Besant special delegate to speak there on behalf of the whole Society. How great a success it was for us and how powerfully it stimulated public interest in our views will be recollected by all our older members. Theosophy was presented most thoroughly both before the whole Parliament, an audience of 3,000 people, and at meetings of our own for the holding of which special halls were kindly given us. A profound impression was created by the discourses of Professor G. N. Chakravarti and Mrs. Besant, who is said to have risen to unusual heights of eloquence, so exhilarating were the influences of the gathering.
  • As the World's Parliament of Religions [1893] was to meet at Chicago in the following September, and as it had been arranged that our Society should participate in it, I deputed the Vice-President, Mr. Judge, to represent me officially, and appointed Mrs. Besant special delegate to speak there on behalf of the whole Society. How great a success it was for us and how powerfully it stimulated public interest in our views will be recollected by all our older members. Theosophy was presented most thoroughly both before the whole Parliament, an audience of 3,000 people, and at meetings of our own for the holding of which special halls were kindly given us. A profound impression was created by the discourses of Professor G. N. Chakravarti and Mrs. Besant, who is said to have risen to unusual heights of eloquence, so exhilarating were the influences of the gathering. Besides these who represented our Society especially, Messrs. Vivekananda, V. R. Gandhi, Dharmapala, representatives of the Hindu Vedanta, Jainism, and Buddhism respectively, captivated the public, who had only heard of the Indian people through the malicious reports of interested missionaries, and were now astounded to see before them and hear men who represented the ideal of spirituality and human perfectibility as taught in their respective sacred writings.
  • The significance of Annie Besant’s political activities lay in building up step a heightened sense of public resentment against the iniquitous and oppressive British rule in India, which other political leaders were to seize on to launch a full-scale anti-imperial agitation in the country in 1919. Thus it was from Annie Besant’s intellectual and moral capital that Mahatma Gandhi was to derive immense resources to sharpen his weapons of satyagraha to fight the British and to free the country from the fetters of foreign rule.
  • Welcome sister, the ever unfortunate mother India takes you to her bosom. Now she has nothing precious of which she can make a present to you; but she is ready to receive you with Shamit (sacrificial fuel), Kushahan (a seat made of sacrificial grass), Padya (water for washing the feet with), Arghya (respectful oblation) and sweet words.
    What has brought you sister, here? India is now lifeless. Here is now no chanting of the Vedas, no Tapobana (garden for practising religious austerities), no twice-born, no uttering of Mantras (mystical incantation) Now the cry of the famine-stricken people rends the sky.
    We, the inhabitants of Berhampore, give a garland of flowers round your neck; please take it, simple sister, with your characteristic affability.
    You are now a learned daughter of mother India, you are honoured throughout the world and your reputation is world-wide. We are glad to see you.
  • Annie Besant’s book where she put forward the idea that theosophical mystical energies could be portrayed as colours or abstract shapes was practically the invention of abstract art. A lot of artists rushed out and read it and suddenly thought, ‘oh God you could, you could portray love as a colour, or depression as a colour” All of a sudden abstract art happens, a flowering out of occultism.

External links[edit]