New York: Theosophical Society; eternal happiness
Mahmúd notes: "A public meeting was held today by the Theosophical Society where `Abdu'l-Bahá spoke on matters relating to the spirit and its passage through the world of existence. [See PUP 156–60] The effect of His address was such that the president of the society said, in the presence of `Abdu'l-Bahá, that his greatest desire was to bring about a perfect harmony between the Bahá'ís and the Theosophists. The happiness of Master increased day by day through influence of the Cause of God. Whenever He was asked about His health, He said with the utmost happiness, `My health and happiness depend on the progress of the Cause of God. Nothing else merits attention. This happiness is eternal, and this life is life everlasting.'"
This was not the first time Theosophists intersected with the Master. In London, the previous year, Annie Besant (1847-1933), head of the Theosophical Society, had invited `Abdu'l-Bahá to address the society at its London headquarters, according to Rob Stockman, who describes Theosophy as "a spiritualist group interested in comparative religion and communications with 'ascended' spiritual 'masters.'" Theosophists met `Abdu'l-Bahá at Agnes Parsons’ house at two separate meetings on the same day; they were also among diverse audiences on a number of occasions.
In his new book, Rob Stockman relates an interesting story: "He [the Master] went to Northwestern University in Evanston to speak to the Theosophists at University Hall. He discoursed about death as a transformation from one form to another and about eternal life. He never mentioned reincarnation—a central Theosophical belief—but His entire talk described an alternative view of the afterlife and therefore was an implicit refutation of the belief."
Rob also says that the Theosophists were suffering from internal controversies and had a harder time than the Baha'is did in terms of accepting the oneness of humanity.
On May 30 (tomorrow) He spoke to the Theosophists, the "third of eight He would deliver to Theosophists in the United States" and focused on international peace. He compared “the nations of the world to the members of a family” therefore “as strife and dissention destroy a family and prevent its progress, so nations are destroyed and advancement hindered.” To remedy the existing human conditions, “a divine physician is needed.” He spoke about the unity and peace brought by Jesus Christ and promised that the Holy Spirit would continually guide humanity, but did not talk about Bahá’u’lláh.
In July, according to Rob, the President of the Boston Theosophical Society invited Him to speak to the Theosophists there. "Even though He was tired, He gave them a lengthy address about the human spirit and the proofs that it is 'everlasting' and that 'we must strive to learn of it.' Mahmúd notes that 'when the meeting ended, the people ran to the door to shake hands with the Master and to express their joy and devotion.'"
I wonder how many Theosophists there are today. . . .
Annie Besant's biography is really interesting. One source says, "In the 1890s Annie Besant became a supporter of Theosophy, a religious movement founded by Madame Blavatsky in 1875. Theosophy was based on Hindu ideas of karma and reincarnation with nirvana as the eventual aim. Annie Besant went to live in India but she remained interested in the subject of women's rights." [She was known earlier for her outspoken ideas on birth control and suffrage.] . . . President of the Theosophical Society from 1907, she wrote an enormous number of books and pamphlets on theosophy. She traveled (1926–27) in England and the United States with her protégé Jiddu Krishnamurti, whom she announced as the new Messiah. However, by 1929 the young man himself denounced all claims about himself as the World Teacher. Annie Besant died in India in 1933 at the age of 86.
On this holy day [The Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh], one wonders how the early Bahá'ís observed such anniversaries. . . .