Well, let's begin. The Theosophical Doctrine proclaims the intelligent nature of the creative forces of the manifested world which fully complies with the philosophic tradition of the ancient world. H.P. Blavatsky describes the Universe unfolding as follows:
"From the Unknown One, the Infinite TOTALITY, the manifested ONE, or the periodical, Manvantaric Deity, emanates; and this is the Universal Mind, which, separated from its Fountain-Source, is the Demiurgos or the creative Logos of the Western Kabalists, and the four-faced Brahma of the Hindu religion. In its totality, viewed from the standpoint of manifested Divine Thought in the esoteric doctrine, it represents the Hosts of the higher creative Dhyan Chohans. Simultaneously with the evolution of the Universal Mind, the concealed Wisdom of Adi-Buddha — the One Supreme and eternal — manifests itself as Avalokiteshwara (or manifested Iswara), which is the Osiris of the Egyptians, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Heavenly Man of the Hermetic philosopher, the Logos of the Platonists, and the Atman of the Vedantins." (SD, v. 1, Stanza 5, sl. 2)
This manifested Divine Wisdom is called "Mahat" by H.P. Blavatsky. Further, she underlines the following:
"Mahat is the first product of Pradhana, or Akasa, and Mahat — Universal intelligence “whose characteristic property is Buddhi” — is no other than the Logos, for he is called “Eswara” Brahma, Bhava, etc. He is, in short, the “Creator” or the divine mind in creative operation, “the cause of all things.” He is the “first-born…" (SD, v. 1, Stanza 7, sl. 5)
In the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, HPB calls Mahat "the Devine Ideation in active (creative) operation, and also the one impersonal Grand Architect of the Universe". (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, pages 20 and 49: http://www.phx-ult-lodge.org/Transactions.htm)
"Mahat, in the Esoteric interpretations, is in reality the Third Logos or the Synthesis of the Seven creative rays, the Seven Logoi. Out of the seven so-called Creations, Mahat is the third, for it is the Universal and Intelligent Soul, Divine Ideation, combining the ideal plans and prototypes of all things in the manifested objective as well as subjective world." (Ibid, page 14: http://www.phx-ult-lodge.org/Transactions.htm)
In the Instructions to Her Inner Group, H.P. Blavatsky continues: "The third Logos, Mahat, becomes Manas in man, Manas being only Mahat individualized, as the sun-rays are individualized in bodies that absorb them. The sun-rays give life, they fertilize what is already there, and the individual is formed. Mahat, so to say, fertilizes, and Manas is the result." (The Secret Doctrine, Cambridge University Press, digitally printed version, 2011, page 560:
Thus, each Man, who is also a Microcosm, has a potential of Divine Ideation.
This knowledge per se is not new, but is presented in a new interpretation. The same was also taught by Plato (427-347 B.C.). Plato's teaching about ideas is expounded in many of his works, namely in his dialogues: "The Republic", "The Symposium", "The Phaedo" etc.
Plato divides all things in existence into two spheres: first, eternal and self-existent ideas (general concepts), and second, temporal, short-term and not independent things which belong to the sense-perceptible world. Ideas exist with no relationship to the world of physical matter; ideas are thoughts which evolve earlier than thoughts about material things. Ideas are the forms of things which we are dealing with in our daily life. Ideas are eternal, unchangeable, unlimited. Ideas are born from the concepts of Oneness. "Oneness" is the self Goodness.
In the dialogue "The Phaedo", Plato speaks about something which by itself is beauty, goodness, greatness.
According to Plato, those who are consistently walking up the stairs of contemplation of beauty will see something beautiful, amazing by its own nature: "He who has learned to see the beautiful in due order and succession, when he comes toward the end will suddenly perceive a nature of wondrous beauty – a nature which in the first place is everlasting, not growing and decaying, or waxing and waning; secondly, not fair in one point of view and foul in another, or at one time or in one relation or at one place fair, at another time or in another relation or at another place foul, as if fair to some and-foul to others" [http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html]. "...Or in the likeness of a face or hands or any other part of the bodily frame, or in any form of speech or knowledge, or existing in any other being, as for example, in an animal, or in heaven or in earth, or in any other place" [http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html].
Such a description is already sufficient to identify a set of important features of Plato's notion of the "idea". These features include the following: objectivity, unrelatedness, independence from all sense-perceptions, and from all preconditions and limitations associated with time and space etc. Plato's beautiful "eidos" or "idea", in Plato's specific understanding of this notion, is a true and real entity which exists beyond sense-perception and can be perceived only by mind.
According to Plato, the definition of the "idea" includes: 1) a cause, concept, guideline principle, thought as a source of objective reality, its nature and relationships; 2) a pattern used by the Demiurge to create the material world; 3) a goal which is considered to be the highest goodness thus sought for by all beings.
Following Carl Gustav Yung, modern psychology uses the term "archetype" which is derived from two Greek words: "arche" (the beginning) and "typos" (form, pattern). Philosophers in late antiquity used this term to describe a prototype, an idea. Gustav Yung used this term to describe certain innate universal pre-conscious psychic dispositions which are the components of the collective unconscious.
Theosophy comprises numerous ideas needed to develop a new understanding of the world. These include, first of all, the idea of evolution, in its highest exalted spiritual sense, as described in the stanzas of Dzyan and comments to them. Then the ideas of Spiritual Hierarchy, of the Fundamental Unity of All Existence and of the One Life embracing all the Universe. And the Great Hermetic Axiom: "As is the Inner, so is the Outer; as is the Great so is the Small; as it is above, so it is below; there is but ONE LIFE and LAW; and he that worketh it is One. Nothing is Inner, nothing is Outer; nothing is Great, nothing is Small; nothing is High, nothing is Low, in the Divine Economy."
How do these highly spiritual ideas, these highest intelligent entities who guide our evolution influence us, how are they reflected in our life, how do we perceive them? Each of us bears a small part of this Deity. It is our manas, our mind, the mind principle of our being which H.P. Blavatska calls individualized Mahat.
Thus, our manas is capable to perceive and produce ideas, though only on its own level. And our manas is performing this activity very successfully and permanently. These are our human ideals with all their exalted and not fully exalted attributes and characteristics.
IDEAL is a multidimensional concept which embraces the following notions:
o the highest degree of importance of the thing:
o the best and accomplished state/condition of any event;
o individually accepted standard (recognized example) of something which, as a rule, is associated with personal qualities and abilities;
o most common, universal and, as a rule, absolute concept of what is good and proper;
o perfection of human relationships;
o a social order that ensures perfect human relations;
o best example of a high standard ethical person.
We can consider the ideal of the universal Brotherhood of humanity to be one of such exalted ideals: it is based on the idea of unity of all beings. And this is a main object of the Theosophical Society.
Our ideals impact our life, shape our values, priorities, aspirations and objectives. Wise men said about this as follows:
§ According to Mahatma Gandhi, the important value of the ideal is that it is moving off as we approach it.
§ Ukrainian philosopher Grygory Skovoroda said that a goal of a man is to acquire the highest virtues.
§ Famous writer Lev Tolstoy said that good is the highest eternal goal of our life. Whatever our concept of good is, our life is nothing but urge to good.
Finally, while talking about ideas and ideals, we should surely mention that beautiful images of our Masters are cherished in the heart of each Theosophist, providing us with an example of personified implementation of our ideas about human virtues, about perfect human being. We are striving to reach these great images. Our Masters' mind is open to higher spheres of perception, which is described by them as follows:
"It is not physical phenomena but these universal ideas that we study, as to comprehend the former, we have to first understand the latter. They touch man's true position in the universe, in relation to his previous and future births; his origin and ultimate destiny; the relation of the mortal to the immortal; of the temporary to the eternal; of the finite to the infinite; ideas larger, grander, more comprehensive, recognizing the universal reign of Immutable Law, unchanging and unchangeable in regard to which there is only an ETERNAL Now..." (ML, L.10).
The essence of work conducted by the Masters on a mental plane is to transfer ideas through the flow of inspiration to those receptive souls who are capable to shape the ideas to become human ideals. It is just the work that the Theosophical Society was initiated to do by the Masters themselves. They strove for identifying and bringing together into this theosophical society their potential co-workers able to perceive and transfer to all the humanity the ideas that are urgent from the evolutionary point of view and needed for further implementation of the evolutionary order. H.P. Blavatsky was really great in describing this, as we can see in the article "MADAME BLAVATSKY ON THE VIEWS OF THE THEOSOPHISTS”: "All the great and noble characters, all the grand geniuses – the poets, painters, sculptors, musicians – all who have worked at any time for the realization of their highest ideal, irrespective of selfish ends – have been Spiritually inspired; ...working consciously ...for the elevation and spiritualization of mankind. We believe that everything in material life is most intimately associated with Spiritual agencies”. [The Spiritualist, London, February 8, 1878, pp. 68-69]: http://www.katinkahesselink.net/blavatsky/articles/v1/y1878_006.htm
However, whatever selfless is the labor of high spiritual workers of highest mental plane, the success and effectiveness of this work depends on us, on human beings for whom this work is being carried out. Specifics and difficulties of this process are explained by Master K.H. in his letter to A.P. Sinnett: "How am I to give expression to ideas for which you have as yet no language? The finer and more susceptible heads get like yourself, more than others do, and even when they get a little extra dose it is lost for want of words and images to fix the floating ideas. Perhaps, and undoubtedly you know not to what I now refer to. You will know it one day — Patience. To give more knowledge to a man than he is yet fitted to receive is a dangerous experiment."
Nevertheless, the establishment of the Theosophical Society was also a part of such an experiment. TS was created in order to bring together people ready to serve the humanity, and the nature of such a service should be specific and reflect the readiness of people to cooperate with Masters in introducing new ideas to the world and in developing new, more pure and exalted ideals.
Today's world is still captured by materialistic world views. It is governed by pragmatic motives, and the priority of spiritual values has not being recognized yet. Success is interpreted as ability to manipulate people in order to achieve selfish goals. Moral criteria are depreciated and distorted. Information space is saturated with delusions and illusions. All the above provide an evidence of extreme pressing need to introduce pure exalted ideals into the world. This is a social aspect of service provided by the Theosophical Society to the mankind. Because this are the ideals that give the direction of an individual as a system of his/her innate motives. Human ideals are expressed as personal incentives and motives that reflect personal aspiration to copy and follow the example regarded to be the highest model.
In Practical Suggestions for Daily Life (http://hpb.narod.ru/DailyLife.htm), HPB was talking about the task for a theosophist to strive to become rather than to seem, thus making him never failing to continually approach nearer his aim. A quote: "He will not, however, reach this point without a struggle, nor will the real progress that he is conscious of making fill him with conceit or self-righteousness; for if his ideal be high, and his progress towards is real, he will be the rather humiliated than puffed up. The possibilities of further advancement, and the conception of still higher planes of being that open before him, will not dampen his ardour, though they will surely kill his conceit. It is just this conception of the vast possibilities of human life that is needed to kill out ennui, and to convert apathy into zest. Life thus becomes worth living for its own sake when its mission becomes plain, and its splendid opportunities are once appreciated. The most direct and certain way of reaching this higher plane is the cultivation of the principle of altruism, both in thought and life. Narrow indeed is the sweep of vision that is limited to self, and that measures all things by the principle of self-interest, for while the soul is thus self limited it is impossible for it to conceive of any high ideal, or to approach any higher plane of life. The conditions of such advancement lie within rather that without, and are fortunately made independent of circumstances and condition in life. The opportunity therefore is offered to everyone of advancing from height to height of being, and of thus working with nature in the accomplishment of the evident purpose of life."
The "Key to Theosophy" says: "True Theosophist must put in practice the loftiest moral ideal, must strive to realize his unity with the whole of humanity, and work ceaselessly for others."
These renewed ideals will help individuals and a whole society to develop new relationships with the outer world, with each other and with nature. New relationships will pave the way to new life priorities and values which in turn will succeed to alter at first the direction of our mentality, and then, the expression of this mentality in our deeds. And then, the outer world will change.
It is precisely the practical application of the Theosophy. A veteran of modern theosophical movement Joy Mills wrote in her article: "The practicality of Theosophy lies to the extent to which we have permitted Theosophical Ideals to work upon us in clearing up our perceptions so that we may see things whole and unobscured."
So, by guiding our mind towards exalted beauty, nobleness, justice and dignity ideals, we are purifying our mind and enabling the original divine ideas to be imprinted in our consciousness thus fostering our enlightenment and transformation, and making us capable to transfer these ideas to other people and to change ourselves thus serving an example and a carrier of exalted ideas and ideals.
To conclude, I would like to quote one of HPB's suggestions for daily life: "THERE is no more valuable thing possessed by any individual than an exalted ideal towards which he continually aspires, and after which he moulds his thoughts and feelings, and forms, as best he may, his life." (Practical Suggestions for Daily Life: http://hpb.narod.ru/DailyLife.htm)