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Annie Besant

  • English philosopher
  • Born October 1, 1847
  • Died September 20, 1933

Annie Besant (née Wood; 1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, writer, orator, and supporter of both Irish and Indian self-rule. In 1867, Annie, at age 20, married Frank Besant, a clergyman, and they had two children. However, Annie's increasingly unconventional religious views led to their legal separation in 1873. She then became a prominent speaker for the National Secular Society (NSS), as well as a writer, and a close friend of Charles Bradlaugh.


The soul grows by reincarnation in bodies provided by nature, more complex, more powerful, as the soul unfolds greater and greater faculties. And so the soul climbs upward into the light eternal. And there is no fear for any child of man, for inevitably he climbs towards God.




The destruction of India's village system was the greatest of England's blunders.




The Roman Catholic Church, had it captured me, as it nearly did, would have sent me on some mission of danger and sacrifice and utilised me as a martyr; the Church established by law transformed me into an unbeliever and an antagonist.




The generous wish to share with all what is precious, to spread broadcast priceless truths, to shut out none from the illumination of true knowledge, has resulted in a zeal without discretion that has vulgarised Christianity, and has presented its teachings in a form that often repels the heart and alienates the intellect.




Better remain silent, better not even think, if you are not prepared to act.




Everyone knows the beautiful story of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. How this noble father led his child to the slaughter; how Isaac meekly submitted; how the farce went on till the lad was bound and laid on the altar, and how God then stopped the murder, and blessed the intending murderer for his willingness to commit the crime.




Premonitions, presentiments, the sensing of unseen presences and many allied experiences are due to the activity of the astral body and its reaction on the physical; their ever-increasing frequency is merely the result of its evolution among educated people.




This Old Testament - containing error, folly, absurdity and immorality - is by English statute law declared to be of divine authority, a blasphemy - if there were anyone to be blasphemed - blacker and more insolent than any word ever written or penned by the most hotheaded Freethinker.




India is a country in which every great religion finds a home.




Science regards man as an aggregation of atoms temporarily united by a mysterious force called the life-principle. To the materialist, the only difference between a living and a dead body is that in the one case that force is active, in the other latent.




We learn much during our sleep, and the knowledge thus gained slowly filters into the physical brain, and is occasionally impressed upon it as a vivid and illuminative dream.




Representative institutions are as much a part of the true Briton as his language and his literature.




Empty-brained triflers who have never tried to think, who take their creed as they take their fashions, speak of atheism as the outcome of foul life and vicious desires.




One of the great advantages of cremation - apart from all sanitary conditions - lies in the swift restoration to Mother Nature of the material elements composing the physical and astral corpses, brought about by the burning.




A myth is far truer than a history, for a history only gives a story of the shadows, whereas a myth gives a story of the substances that cast the shadows.




Islam believes in many prophets, and Al Quran is nothing but a confirmation of the old Scriptures.




What is the constitution of the universe? The universe is the manifestation of the divine thought; the thought of God embodies itself in the thought-forms that we call worlds.




Quick condemnation of all that is not ours, of views with which we disagree, of ideas that do not attract us, is the sign of a narrow mind, of an uncultivated intelligence. Bigotry is always ignorant, and the wise boy, who will become the wise man, tries to understand and to see the truth in ideas with which he does not agree.




The essence of religion is the knowledge of God which is eternal life. That and nothing less than that is religion. Everything else is on the surface, is superfluous save for the needs of men.




No durable things are built on violent passion. Nature grows her plants in silence and in darkness, and only when they have become strong do they put their heads above the ground.




Socialism is the ideal state, but it can never be achieved while man is so selfish.




Sun-worship and pure forms of nature-worship were, in their day, noble religions, highly allegorical but full of profound truth and knowledge.




All men die. You may say: 'Is that encouraging?' Surely yes, for when a man dies, his blunders, which are of the form, all die with him, but the things in him that are part of the life never die, although the form be broken.




What is a philosophy? It Is an answer satisfactory to the reason to all the great problems of life. That is what is meant by philosophy. It must satisfy the reason, and it must show the unity underlying the endless diversity of the facts that science observes.




Muhammadan law in its relation to women, is a pattern to European law. Look back to the history of Islam, and you will find that women have often taken leading places - on the throne, in the battle-field, in politics, in literature, poetry, etc.




An accurate knowledge of the past of a country is necessary for everyone who would understand its present, and who desires to judge of its future.




To me in my childhood, elves and fairies of all sorts were very real things, and my dolls were as really children as I was myself a child.




The worlds in which man is evolving as he treads the circle of births and deaths are three: the physical world, the astral or intermediate world, the mental or heavenly world.




Refusal to believe until proof is given is a rational position; denial of all outside of our own limited experience is absurd.




In morals, theosophy builds its teachings on the unity, seeing in each form the expression of a common life, and therefore the fact that what injures one injures all. To do evil i.e., to throw poison into the life-blood of humanity, is a crime against the unity.




What is the essence of theosophy? It is the fact that man, being himself divine, can know the divinity whose life he shares. As an inevitable corollary to this supreme truth comes the fact of the brotherhood of man.




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.




Theosophy tries to bridge the gulf between Buddhism and Christianity by pointing to the fundamental spiritual truths on which both religions are built, and by winning people to regard the Buddha and the Christ as fellow-laborers, and not as rivals.




There can be no wise politics without thought beforehand.




The orthodox believers in God are divided into two camps, one of which maintains that the existence of God is as demonstrable as any mathematical proposition, while the other asserts that his existence is not demonstrable to the intellect.




That is the true definition of sin; when knowing right you do the lower, ah, then you sin. Where there is no knowledge, sin is not present.



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