Spirituality is a complex subject, one which typically combines tradition, culture, and philosophy. For millennia, intelligent people with a deep and abiding interest in the spiritual world have done their best to learn more about it, looking to nature, human teachers, and extraordinary revelations to guide them. One concept that’s emerged over the past century is that of a wise and benevolent brotherhood that exists to help humanity make sense of spirituality: The Great White Brotherhood.
Historical Background: Theosophy & Esotericism
The nineteenth century was a period of tremendous change throughout the world. In the west, many people struggled to remain grounded in the face of transformational advances in science and technology, and a lot of scholars tried to seek out comparable advances in the spiritual realm. This lead to an increased interest in eastern mysticism, alternative religions, magic, and rituals.
Probably the most important early effort to explore these subjects was the Theosophical society founded by Helena Blavatsky. It was here that the first concepts which would evolve into the Great White Brotherhood were introduced. Blavatsky spoke of “mahatmas” as enlightened teachers who had ascended to a post-human plane of existence but retained a keen interest in spiritually nurturing others.
Expressing A Universal Principle
This idea appears over and over again in countless spiritual traditions. It was formally given the name “Great White Brotherhood” by Geraldine Innocente in 1952, but it is broadly analogous to the Mahatmas of theosophy or the Ascended Masters referred to in a number of new age schools of thought. Regardless of the name assigned to the group, their role is the same: to provide spiritual, moral, and philosophical guidance to less-enlightened individuals.
The idea of a living link between a higher, more spiritual realm and the world of humans is one that can also be found in much older religions. Many spiritualists are willing to extend the ranks of the Brotherhood to include traditional prophetic and messianic figures like Buddha, Christ, and Confucius. The members of the newer Brotherhood are envisioned as playing a very similar role to these older examples: teachers, models, and spiritual advocates.
The Role Of The Brotherhood
Although the membership of the Brotherhood varies from tradition to tradition, one common feature is that is virtually always composed of individuals who have passed beyond the mortal coil. They assist spiritualists and communicate with them exclusively through psychic means. This restricts the Brotherhood to a role that primarily involves teaching, enlightening, and counseling; they are not direct leaders.
Beyond achieving great enlightenment, the other feature shared by members of the Brotherhood is tremendous compassion. It’s not simply their own spiritual development that places them in this order but also their interest in helping others improve themselves in similar ways. This makes the Brotherhood a tremendous force for good and a powerful ally to those who crave spiritual enlightenment.
Though the Brotherhood means different things to different people, the consistency with which it’s portrayed as a benevolent group is heartening. It’s an uplifting thought, that those who have achieved enlightenment want to help others do the same. The guidance provided by sources like the Brotherhood helps to answer some of the most challenging spiritual questions humans have to face.