Obviously. Since Buddha taught there is no ātman, no one who says that an ātman reincarnates can claim that their teaching is consistent with Buddhism.
Insofar as one believes atman to be the individual soul, you are correct. Buddha taught the formerly esoteric doctrines of the brahmins, or at least those teachings he was able to reveal. Sunyata is complimentary to atman when understood correctly. That is, what they describe is one. This is perhaps most evident in Advaita Vedanta where atman is Brahman.
Why seven? Why not less? Or more? This is St. Irenaeus' question to the Gnostics - why 8, 12, 33 or some other number of Eons?
To be honest, I don't know why, nor do I have an entirely clear conception of numerology (I am still trekking my way through Isis Unveiled
). Seven, like three, seems to have a particularly mystical or at least symbolic nature to it. I understand that it is a reflection of universal harmony. It is also a universal symbol, and even plays an important role in your tradition. Does not Jesus command forgiveness seven times seventy seven? Or is the killer of Cain not threatened with retribution "seven times over"? Of course, Revelation
(itself a kabalistical work) is covered with symbols of seven. God likewise created the world and rests within seven days.
No - a good Orthodox theologian should know better. Nous is "mind" or "intellect" - dianoia is a particular function of the mind that enables it to discern or distinguish (right from wrong, night from day, etc.). This is dianoia: "Blessed are You, Adonay, our God, King of the Universe, Who gave the rooster understanding (bina) to distinguish between (bein) day and night."
Well, I won't push this too far (as it is not my area of expertise), but it was Fr. John Romanides who insisted as such. My knowledge of Greek is lacking, so I must defer to others.
In any event, you must agree, however, that the Orthodox nous
is indeed different from the Platonic or Aristotelian? The inanity lies rather in word choice obsession seeing as neither I nor Blavatsky have suggested the words to have the ascribed Theosophical meaning in every selection of archaic literature.
Actually, I was more interested in a rational and objective reason for which all men could/should believe a certain claim (the "septenary", etc.) made by Theosophy to be true. For instance, all of Christianity stands or falls with the fact of Christ's resurrection according to St. Paul. If it didn't happen, then all the rest can be dismissed as vain hope and empty speculation.
Which is fundamentally a question of "why Theosophy?" I don't know of any reason to believe in the septenary apart from it [Theosophy]. The question is ultimately "was Blavatsky a liar/fraud?". This I can say with an emphatic no. I say this from the overwhelming number of accurate observations/predictions on her part (scientific, religious, otherwise) to the immense complexity of the phenomena surrounding her and people who knew her (indeed too complex for mere legerdemain) to the wonderful history of her life (of which slanders against are easily refuted) to the utter soundness of her logic and reasoning. If she was truthful, then it only further confirms the Masters exist. From there, I can accept their teachings. This, of course, says nothing of the more spiritual and fulfilling dimension of Theosophy, but of its intellectual merit alone.
I am pretty sure that doctrine was not taught by the historical Buddha, since the Sutra you mention is a much later apocryphal source peculiar to Pure Land Buddhists in China and some Japanese sects.
The sutra is Indian in origin for what it's worth, but criticizing it based on a date seems rather silly considering there is a significant gap between the life of Buddha and every available manuscript. This is true with your own traditional as well (with not only the Gospels, but others such as the Book of Genesis).
Does Theosophy incorporate the teachings of "initiates" from all around the world? Like shamans from newly discovered Amazonian tribes or from unexplored Siberia? Indigenous Australians? Native Americans? Africans? Polynesians? Or does it stop where the knowledge available back in Mme. Blavatsky's day stops?
I don't think you understand the concept of Theosophical initiates. Initiates are those who have been trained and taught by the Masters (those humans who remain on earth, in seclusion at the moment, to assist in the evolutionary process). Some initiates are tasked with presenting aspects of Truth to the masses - unveiling more and more over time. If humanity is ready, more teachings (perhaps accompanied by an initiate) will be presented in 2075-2100.
I read about Krishnamurti that he was chosen by Theosophists and educated to become the incarnation of Maitreya. Was this a failed attempt or is he still regarded as an enlightened being/boddhisattva? What about Anthroposophy and other rival factions? Do you consider them schismatic, heretical, deceived? (I ask because "there can be no sectarianism in truth seeking".)
Krishnamurti was "chosen" not by Theosophists (if we may define that term as those who follow the teachings of Blavatsky and the Masters), but by psuedo-Theosophists/neo-Theosophists (particularly Leadbeater and Besant). Following Blavatsky's death, the Adyar society was commandeered by innovators. Besant's edits of the Secret Doctrine, for instance, contained over 30,000 edits, or what Besant called "corrections". Leadbeater claimed to have direct contact with the Masters, yet constantly and consistently contradicted them. This was only further confirmed, much to his ire, when the Mahatma letters were published. Bishop Leadbeater's claims to clairvoyance are pretty absurd given his "visions" (e.g. his attempt to describe in detail the life on Mars).
Prior to this attack on actual Theosophy, William Quan Judge was expelled from the TS. Judge, of course, rejected their teachings (holding fast to the original Truth) and took most of the American society with him.
It has only been in more recent times that the Adyar society has begun to spurn the absurdities of Besant and Leadbeater and return to actual Theosophical teachings (though it is still a work in progress).
As far as viewing others as schismatic, heretical, deceived, I suppose it depends on what one means by those terms. Wrong would perhaps be the best word. Terms like schismatic and heretic carry too much baggage and are too reminiscent of the Christian/etc. sectarian model. While the Adyar Society, the Anthroposophical Society, and (to a much, much lesser extent), the Pasadena/Point Loma Society have departed from Blavatsky's teachings, there have been good things produced and done by all of them. Truth is truth, no matter the source. While most people who interested in authentic, original Theosophy are associated with the ULT (United Lodge of Theosophists), there are numerous individuals who spread truth elsewhere (Geoffrey Farthing, for instance, was actually a member of the Adyar Society).
The greatest individuals though are not those who hold correct belief, but those who give themselves over to humanity. Father Damien of Molokai, for instance, is held in higher regard than any self proclaimed intellectual. Truth is good insofar as it is useful. We oppose sectarianism on the grounds that it hinders love.