I wanted to encourage anyone who has questions about any of the 9 (6+3 total) characteristics, stated in the FAQ, to feel free to ask questions in this discussion. There are no dumb questions. If you are lost on a concept, I guarantee others are as well.
Theosophy is an esotericism. This means that the individual has a set of personal understandings/beliefs which has at least the 4 initial characterisics (see FAQ). They may also have the items 5 and 6 within their esoteric characteristics.
The first thing to note, is that each person may have a different esotericism. They can be radically different. Mahayana Buddhism has no God, but a form of divinity exists. There are many schools/esotericisms within Mahayana Buddhism. Even two Mahayana Buddhists can have different esoteric beliefs. A Gnostic Christian will have a totally different esoteric belief. For one thing, there is a God and a Demiurge (the Demiurge may be, sometimes, considered as the God of the Old Testament).
So - if the characteristics in items 1-4 exist then one is dealing with some form of esotericism. The esotericism may also include the items 5 and 6; optional. Not all esotericisms contain those.
This is incredibly useful. It becomes a defined field of study. It is NOT Mysticism, Gnosticism, Occultism, Spiritualism etc. These are now separated out as different.
So for a theosophy, one starts out with some form of an esotericism. The individual chooses the specifics of their system. As noted above, these can be drastically different esotericisms. However - we can tell we are dealing with an esotericism.
Theosophy does NOT stop at esotericism. Theosophy brings MORE onto the table. They inclde ALL THREE characteristics of theosophy (the 3 beyond the 6): external Reality, Internal Reality and the Intelluctus often called by any of: Imaginal; Active Imagination; Mundus Imaginalis; Maginal thinking etc.
They analyze ALL of this triangle. They are constantly exploring the external to gain internal insight. They explore Internal insights to yield external insights. They use clues from where ever they can find them and recognize those clues. The Mind (not Brain) sees relationships. The goal is to understand it all. During this exploration, one almost always finds relationships, congruences, synchronicities etc. that change the Individual's system of understanding. They will/may change their esotericism to fit the new knowledge. This means they now have a different Theosophical whole. This is the Evolution of the individual's pursuits. The external world becomes, and is, as important as the internal divine. The plight of Humanity, especially individuals, becomes a primary item for understanding and concern.
The Mystic will experience the divine. They then go deeper inside, the goal being total absorption with God (or their Divine Nature).
The Theosophist takes on the far Greater challenge --- integration of the entire triangle internal-external-mind.
It is a loftier pursuit.
Thanks John. The explanation below is very useful.
Should there be an order, a sequence in which a beginner may follow these characteristics? For example, develop the imagination first, then use the information to mediate and seek the correspondences.
No real order. It is just a list of characteristics. There are too many examples - people may get confused.
If you have ever felt empathy toward a person or animal suffering, then you have had a connection between Nature and spiritual phenomena. A correspondence between the outside and internal part of your existence.
One only needs one example. An animal caring for its young may stir the same emotion within you (caring for a child). a correspondence between what you see and how you see and relate.
2) Nature is alive
Nature is not dead matter. It is a complex entity that has many ways to make one think it is all connected at some higher level, or mind.
Nature has evolving, synergistic, symbiotic pieces to make the realm of nature "work". Nature cleans up after itself. Things may die, but they are a small piece. Nature cleans up and recycles its waste. Nature may evolve a new organism to do that when it needs to. The world is an organism as a whole.
One needs only to see "something", even just one thing, happening in nature that shows a level of intelligence,and organization.
3) Imaginal thinking
Why, and how, do these happen? one feels an overwhelming mystery, which the mind captures the essence of, and tries to make sense of it all. Mysteries are removed by the insight of the individual who can imagine a mechanism, solution, external science, internal science ... it evolves for each person through their imagination, adding that not seen, and making it explainable.
4) experience of transmutation
all religions have this. However, Esotericism demands it. What is the meaning in even living, unless you are personally shared in the unified mind/divinity - brain/man - External/reality. You believe in higher states of awareness - or of higher Consciousness.
the important thing is you in no way have to understand all of the items listed, within the item, as examples that you have experienced.
if you believe that you and nature and all other aspects of your self and nature have some shared real existence that one should be able to understand... and more important live as one. You are basically done with 1-4.
If you experience a spiritual connectedness to people and Nature (connected in some conscious manner) you are very likely to understand 1-4. It is the words that can give one problems.
I found these somewhat reworded in better English, in/by Dr. Hanegraaff.'s newest book.
I'll try to get this posted, sooner than later.