Joseph E. Ross – USA
[This article was published in the American Theosophist, special spring issue, 1988. Changes have been made in accordance with Theosophy Forward style.]
Who was HPB? Many veils hide the secret — "the well-hidden party," as she herself termed it — even today. Her bizarre inscrip¬tion in her book The Voice of the Silence, which reads: "HPB to H. P. Blavatsky, with no kind regards," is a tantalizing paradox with deep implications. The inscription is written on the flyleaf of a presentation copy of the book, preserved in the Archives at Adyar. In an introduction to the 1939 edition, Arya Asanga (A. J. Hamerster) wrote of the "HPB to H. P. Blavatsky" inscription: "the latter [was] the outer form, which served the former as a vehicle." It is im¬possible to understand HPB, and they who knew her best were they who were most hopelessly puzzled. The larger the knowledge, the greater the perplexity. HPB must always remain the insoluble riddle.
When Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was still in her early twenties, she had many years of thrilling adventure, during which she crossed this entire United States twice, once from north to south and again from east to west. It is heart-stirring to know that she arrived in San Francisco in 1854, giving us all an opportunity to learn to discern the subtlest thread of wisdom linking to the higher wisdom and to see that what may have seemed irrelevant comes to be of greater significance as a link in a chain or network of unfolding events. HPB laid great stress on such links in the life of a Theosophist who is in dead earnest in living a Theosophical life. She declared in an early letter to a member: "There is an uninterrupted concatenation of causes and effects in the life of every Theosophist."
HPB writes of the web of life woven around each Theosophist. "Why, oh why!" she exclaims, "have you never followed those daily records, those trifling events, of which life is composed? When compared and summed up, these trifling and illuminative events would reveal the course you have to follow. It sharpens and develops the intuition and makes you gradually sensitive to the smallest changes in the spiritual influence of the Guru." And then, in a brilliant finale, she declares: "Once an earnest student joins the TS, there are no more meaningless or trifling circumstances in his or her life, for each is to lead him or her to the Golden Gate."
The TS cannot be destroyed as a body. Now, is it mere chance that on August 12, 1851, when she was only 20, she met her teacher in Hyde Park, London? There may be "coincidence," but there is no "chance" in Theosophy! Just as HPB was turning forty, the two teachers who were behind "the impulse given for a new cycle of occult research," as they termed it, chose her to associate with the American Colonel H. S. Olcott in an effort to promote Theosophy in the world. Her teacher then referred to her as "a woman of most exceptional and wonderful endowments," and so, indeed, she was. For a wilful, unmanageable girl, whom today we might call "impossible," to become the "pen" which wrote the marvellous teaching of The Secret Doctrine is one of the most amazing dramas of the century.
A flash-back of many years is needed to illuminate the past of this unique personality. However fascinating, perplexing, and enveloped in enigma the tempestuous drama of HPB's last life may have been on the stage of the old world, it is not the details of her life that matter so much in our own modern era. Rather it is the great spiritual heritage she left us in The Secret Doctrine and many smaller gems.
Would the Theosophical Society have survived had it not been supported by that great work, its Himalayan magnitude, and carried by it on "the crest wave of intellectual advancement"? Whatever the vicissitudes of the organism, the inner life insured, as the inner founders declared, that the society would never die. Hear her proclamation, pulsating with a power greater than her own: "The TS cannot be destroyed as a body. It is not in the power of either founders or their critics; and neither friend nor enemy can ruin that which is doomed to exist, all the blunders of the leaders notwithstanding." "That which was generated through and founded by the Inner Founders and under Their authority, if not Their instruction MUST AND WILL LIVE." "Each of us and all will receive his or her karma in it, but the vehicle of Theosophy will stand indestructible and undestroyed by the hand of whether man or friend."
Now, to climb the mountain peaks of The Secret Doctrine needs some oxygen, just as the famous hero of Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, needed it to breathe in his climb. But in our case, the "oxygen" is the intuition. Listen to what HPB says in the very first volume of her major work: "Since this work withholds far more than it gives out, the student is invited to use his or her own intuitions." Again: "The solution is left to the intuition of the student, if he only reads what follows with his spiritual eye." Moreover, she says: "The foregoing, all mysteries, must be left to the personal intuition of the student for solution, rather than described." And yet again: "The power of spiritual intuition through which direct and certain knowledge is obtainable."
"What I know I give out," she declares. "That which I cannot explain, the student must find out for himself." Now, doesn't all this impress upon us clearly that it is only with a mind illuminated by buddhi, the intuitional consciousness, that the tremendous, over-arching cosmic universals, the three great fundamental truths, can be comprehended? That which is merely mental never satisfies. This is the key for "decoding" The Secret Doctrine. And is it not consoling as well as challenging, that HPB showed that this faculty of intuition can be developed, not in the outer physical and scientific space of so much motion and commotion — satellites and atomic energy — but our own inner space of an expanding universe of consciousness?
The Mahatma KH used the very word "satellite" in explaining HPB. Referring in a confidential note, to the seven principles in the complete human being, he added: "No man or woman, unless an initiate of the 'fifth circle,' can leave the precincts of Bod-las and return back into the world in his integral whole. One, at least, of his satellites [principles] has to remain behind for two reasons: first, to form the necessary connecting link, the wire of transmission, and second, as the safest warranty that certain things will never be divulged. She is no exception to the rule . . . The bearing and status of the remaining six depend upon the inherent qualities, the psycho-physiological peculiarities of the person, especially upon the idiosyncrasies transmitted by what modern science calls 'atavism' [recurrence of or reversion to a past style, manner, outlook, approach, or activity]!"
This work withholds more than it gives out. Many well-informed and intuitive Theosophists would realize that here is the esoteric explanation, the occult key, to the real understanding of HPB's life and mission. So, with gratitude to the teacher for this insight, we are profoundly moved, we are more than ever dedicated to Theosophy, with its unifying message, not only for ourselves, but for humanity.
HPB used the term "atomic energy" before it became a common phrase. Discussing in The Secret Doctrine what she calls "the ignorance of the man of Science of Occult Physics," she declares: "The wave motion of living particles becomes comprehensible on the theory of a spiritual One Life, of a universal Vital Principle, independent of our Matter, and manifesting as atomic energy only on our plane of consciousness." So, then, the Atomic Energy Commission is based on a spiritual fact, a Theosophical fact!
Could anyone else equal HPB's dedication in intensity, in its totality? "I have pledged my word to help people on to Truth while living, and will keep my word. Let them abuse and revile me . . . . The day will come when posterity will learn to know me better." Now, we are that posterity and this is the day. Together, we know her better and with heart and soul share our experience.
Let us all go with a more dynamic Theosophy, a more sparkling Theosophy, a Theosophy flashing with wit and humor like hers. Let those who see and hear Theosophy wonder what this "living power" is in our lives. Nowadays the field is wide open. We have developed in depth, we have extended vertically. The time is ripe to present a united front horizontally. Could there be a more exalted summons to action for us than that expressed in the quatrain of Edwin Markham (1852-1940)? Surely we all hear those inspiring lines of the California poet ringing in our ears: “He drew a circle that shut me out / Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. / But Love and I had the wit to win / We drew a circle that took him in!”
Sometimes we watch the drama of HPB's life as it unfolds, with its tragedy, its flashes of comedy, its pathos. "My health is progressing very poorly but I don't care a sugar plum!” she cries. Maybe with moist eyes, we sigh: "Oh, Pity, where is thy balm?" But behind this drama there has been, and is still, a greater drama. Long ago she wrote: "There are hidden powers in man which are capable of making a God of him on earth." Again, in the very first volume of The Secret Doctrine we find: "Man tends to become a God, and then — GOD, like every other atom in the Universe" (Secret Doctrine 1:159). Nearly sixty years later the famous philosopher, Henri Bergson, wrote: "The essential function of a universe is a machine for making gods!" Almost the same words! And, of all places, it was printed on a full-page sketch of that great man, in the authoritative journal Scientific American.
In many other ways, some quite direct, the teaching HPB brought is being verified, corroborated, and cautiously investigated, by enlightened modern minds. So the grandiose vision of the purpose of human evolution presented by Theosophy is being glimpsed. Theosophy is an unveiling of consciousness, of the "divine wisdom." Something of the beauty of Theosophy glows through this concept, as well as an inspiration for living it. That great Chinese sage Confucius, with clear vision, said: "Everything has its beauty; but not everyone sees it."
Theosophy aims at nothing short of perfection of character; but character as we see it expressed in outward acts is the result of an inward condition. Right action must be based upon right thought, right motive, and right knowledge, and it is just here that the study of the teachings of Theosophy is of such value to those who are seeking for a firm foundation. The root of action lies deep within the inner consciousness, so that to act is then the result of character without an inward conditioning. Theosophy seeks to influence mankind by providing a right basis of thought.
Man tends to become a God and then . . . . Now let's turn for a few moments from the grave to the jovial. HPB's jesting was, to say the least, decidedly piquant. One flash of her wit is particularly delightful. A woman who fluttered around her on every possible occasion had ill-digested the truth that each and everyone has a "divine spark" within; but the woman's constant prattle, "I've a divine spark within me," so provoked HPB that she exploded with: "Yes, my dear; but if you're not careful you'll hear it snore." That truth brings us together, maybe differently, but together — to commemorate an event which took place more than a century ago. Let us then salute her, not only in hope, but with confidence, not only in memory, but in the spirit of reverent dedication. The loom of history has woven a magic carpet that brought us into Theosophy, side by side; the fabric of memory has wrapped us together in the warmth of its fold. Let us be honest with ourselves, true to the Inner Ruler.
"Let no man set up a popery instead of Theosophy, as this would be suicidal and has ever ended most fatally. We are all fellow-students, more or less advanced; but no one belonging to the Theosophical Society ought to count himself any more than, at best, a pupil-teacher — one who has no right to dogmatize." Let us work together to serve Theosophy better, revived with new hope, recharged with new power, renewed with new enthusiasm. Then will our vibrant voices sound a new note and our zeal reaches a new high for Theosophy.