A Spiritual-Psychological Mystery

Gottfried de Purucker – USA

Abridged and edited from H. P. Blavatsky: the Mystery (Point Loma Publications, 1974)

H. P. Blavatsky was a great psychological mystery to the world. She was a great psychological mystery even to her followers; ay, even to those who thought that they knew her best, and who met her daily and worked with her and were taught by her. To them, at least to most of them, she was an astounding paradox of what seemed to be conflicting and confusing traits of character. The intuitions of her followers and pupils told them that they were in the presence of a World-Teacher, the Messenger of other World-Teachers even greater than she was, who had sent her forth to strike the keynotes of a new age; and yet despite all this she puzzled these followers of hers most sadly, as much by those other traits of character which astonished and perplexed them because they had not the vision to expect to find such lofty and almost incomprehensible traits in a spiritual Teacher and Leader.

The reason and cause of all this confusion of understanding, it may truthfully be said, lay not in H. P. Blavatsky herself, but in the imperfect vision of those who knew her. They had built up for themselves an idea and an ideal of what a World-Teacher should be. Doubtless they expected to see a wonderful miracle of mere physical beauty. Doubtless they thought to themselves that each day should bring forth some new and amazing demonstration of mystic power, startling, unusual, mysterious. Instead of that, they found themselves in the presence of one whose outer characteristics at least were essentiality human: wit, the play of fancy, humor, kindness, indignation; they found themselves in the presence of a penetrating mind before which no shams could stand. They saw themselves laid bare to themselves through the power of a mighty intellect and a spiritual intuition which halted at no barriers and stopped at no frontiers of human personality.

Some of H. P. Blavatsky's students and followers, however, were grateful for this self-revelation. But others were irritated because their minds were small and they lacked understanding; for few are the people who like to see themselves held up to their own inner understanding as they actually are. We are all so prone to excuse our own faults and call them peccadilloes which amount to but little! None of us likes to feel that the very one whom we revere and look up to is the one who reveals our own smallness of character to ourselves.

But if this was the case with her own followers, how much more completely was the great Theosophical Messenger misunderstood by the general public, who had not even that modicum of acquaintance with her which her immediate disciples had. To this public she was not so much a mystery or an unsolved problem as a strange and perplexing study in erratic genius which, because they could not definitely place it and label it in the usual fashion, became to the imagination of these outsiders something to be written about indeed, but with pens dipped in spleen and in anger arising out of the quasi-consciousness of their own inability to understand her. 

When one surveys the world as it was when H. P. Blavatsky lived, and realizes the power over human minds which the set and crystallized ideas regarding religious and scientific subjects then had, one can find little heart to blame people who sinned through ignorance rather than through will, and who erred in their judgment from inability to understand rather than because of a desire willfully to misinterpret. Those were the days when the scientists on the one hand thought that virtually all that was to be known of Nature, as regards fundamentals, had already been discovered and that nothing new of any important character excepting, perhaps, development of what was already supposed to be known, could be wrested from her. On the other hand, religious circles, having with some acerbity settled down to make the best of their defeat at the hands of scientific thinkers, were but the more ready to misjudge and to condemn anyone who was so daring as to do what they durst not do: face the Sir Oracles of science with unparalleled boldness as H. P. Blavatsky did, challenging openly and publicly in her doctrines and public writings the then accepted orthodox ideas regarding physical nature.

There was still another class of people, men and women of a more or less mystical bent, yet without the remotest conception withal of what their hearts were really hungering for. Impelled by the energies of their own inner natures to see and to feel that neither popular science nor popular religion supplied them with the pabulum that could feed their souls, they wandered hither and thither in thought, drawn to this and to that new ism or ology, and finding in none of these anything to feed their minds and souls. These were the mystical cranks of various types and kinds who flocked around H. P. Blavatsky much as moths are drawn to a bright light. Probably it was her indomitable courage which first drew them to her, and it was doubtless her magnificent intellectual power which, once attracted to her, held them more or less bound to her. From H. P. Blavatsky's standpoint, however, how on earth could a World-Teacher find in such material as these the proper instruments for disseminating her Message to the world!

If the people to whom science was their god squirmed in futile indignation at her bold challenge of accepted scientific views, and if the people belonging to the other class of more or less orthodox or religious bent watched her with a mixture of indignation and alarm, it was the third class of mystical cranks who badly affected her reputation in the opinion of the general public by the very fact of their presence around her and their more or less openly voiced championship of her. This class of people gave to the general public the impression that the Theosophical Leader and many of her followers were, at the very least, a set of mystery-loving cranks; and this phase of public misunderstanding of H. P. Blavatsky's mission and teachings lasted for a certain time, in the European countries more especially.

It so happened as time went on, that little by little the men and women composing this third class were not encouraged, and they dropped out of the ranks of those who looked upon H. P. Blavatsky as a Teacher of philosophical religion and of philosophical science; but the effect of her compassionate interest in these mystical cranks remained for years afterwards. The truth of the matter was that the great heart of H. P. Blavatsky refused to no one entrance into the Theosophical Society, provided there seemed to be the least chance that such admission would benefit them.

But, after all this is said, the fact remains that one of the most interesting and significant factors in the history of the Theosophical Society during the lifetime of H. P. Blavatsky was the large number of highly reputable, loftily intellectual, and truly spiritually-minded people whom she drew into the membership of the Theosophical Society. They numbered literally thousands in all parts of the world. They included philosophers, scientists, clergy, statesmen, literary persons, various other professional persons, artists, people of wide and successful commercial experience—in fact, an actual cross section, cut through the heart of our Occidental social structure. It is these last who formed the body of devoted, energetic, and highly intelligent members, who supported, with all the power at their command, the efforts of H. P. Blavatsky to make her Message to the world a vital power in the hearts and minds of humanity.

And even among these choice persons, there were very few who had any clearly defined conception of the real nature and mission of H. P. Blavatsky; but those few who did, those choicest of the choice—intuitive, aspiring, longing for truth, hungering for reality, who formed a fifth class by themselves—these last were they who were in the real sense of the phrase her true pupils and who gave to her the most invaluable part of the assistance that she then received in casting her message broadly and deep into the human soul. They were very few indeed, but Theosophists of today, with the added experience that time has given, can do no otherwise than record their sense of gratitude to them for their utterly true-hearted loyalty to H. P. Blavatsky in the days of her first and perhaps greatest efforts. While even those few did not fully understand their great Teacher, as was only to be expected, yet they understood enough of her to realize that they were in the presence of and working under the inspiration of one of those World Figures of whom history records the appearance among men at cyclic intervals.

We have said that this book is to be a study of a profound spiritual-psychological mystery, and that statement is true. But to lay bare this mystery to the understanding of thoughtful men and women is in itself a task of Herculean proportions. We are going to treat subjects concerning which the average Occidental has no conception whatsoever; or if, in moments of quiet thought, or under the refining influence of spiritual intuitions, some of the early members of the Theosophical Society may have gained some intimation of the truth, yet in the nature of things, such suggestive intimations must have been but rarely and sporadically recorded. Our task would be quite different, perhaps, were this book written solely for the better class of Orientals who are more or less accustomed to psychological mysteries by training, and whose magnificent religious and philosophical systems have guided them even from childhood to realize that there are in the world subtle and mysterious forces which play through the human psychological mask, in other words, through the inner human constitution, and thus form of one person a sage and saint and of another a human brute and rogue. It is precisely on matters dealing with the human inner constitution that we shall treat and thereby solve as far as possible in the compass of a printed volume the amazing riddle of H. P. Blavatsky’s character, life, and mission.

Behind H. P. Blavatsky's intermediate or soul-nature—overmastering, controlling, and working through it—there was the dominating influence of a Master Intelligence: her own individual, egoic, spiritual part, or center of her inner constitution—her developed Spiritual Soul, her Inner Divinity, the monadic essence or root of her being, evolved forth in its transcendent powers into conscious activity on our human plane, as the consequence of many previous reincarnations on earth and embodiments in the invisible realms of the Universe. This inner Self of her was one of the Great Ones of the ages, an actual, real, self-consciously energetic Individuality or Power, which worked through her and used her both psychologically and physically as the fittest instrument for the saving of human souls that the Occidental world has seen in many ages.

Let us anticipate here an important thought which will find its due place in later chapters, by calling attention to the nature of the human inner constitution, as the wonderful Theosophical philosophy sets it forth. This constitution may for easy under¬standing be divided into three parts: the spiritual-divine part, which is the monadic essence of our inner being, sometimes called our Inner Spiritual Self; second, the intermediate or psychological part which is the center of the human consciousness per se and which actually is the child or outflowing of a part of the spiritual energies from the monadic essence before spoken of; and third, the vital-astral-physical part which makes up our lowest or vehicular part.

The monadic essence or Spiritual Soul above spoken of must be understood to be an individuality, an actual, real, living entity having its own sphere of action in its own lofty realms or fields of activity. This acts through the intermediate part, which may be called the Reincarnating Ego or, more simply, the higher Human Soul, this being what we ordinarily mean when we speak of the human soul. It is the personal individuality of the human being, and not only is it the child of the monadic essence or Inner Divinity, but it also partakes of the stream of consciousness, flowing from its parent; and in pro¬portion as it can manifest clearly and undimmed the supernal light and intelligence of this stream of consciousness, it is great and partakes of the sublimity of its parent. This parent monadic essence is the source of all great human inspiration, and in proportion as human beings can ally themselves with this Inner Self they thereby raise themselves toward the spiritual stature of the great Seers and Sages who have made such a profound impression on the history of the human race.

The above gives an outline of the case of H. P. Blavatsky, for through long training and initiation under her great Teachers, who were of this Association of great Seers, she had be-come fitted to become their Messenger and Mouthpiece to the world. The secret key regarding the mystery of H. P. Blavatsky lies in the paragraph which precedes. Intuitions and intimations of the existence in the human being of such transcendent faculties and powers and energies have been had by very many of the Great Mystics of the ages, whatever may have been the race among whom they were born or the time in which they lived; and they have naturally also come into the consciousness of more modern writers, even though they are persons of less insight.

Maurice Maeterlinck, the Belgian mystic, in a preface to a French translation of Emerson's essays, expresses in these words some of the vision which he has had of the deep-lying but wonderfully beautiful faculties in the human being: “The face of our divine soul smiles at times over the shoulder of her sister, the human soul, bent to the noble needs of thought, and this smile which, as it passes, discovers to us all that is beyond thought, is the only thing of consequence in the works of man.” What Maeterlinck here speaks of as the “face of our divine soul smiling at times over the shoulder of her sister the human soul,” expresses in terms different from our Theosophical phraseology, but yet very truly, what the Theosophist means when referring to the divine-spiritual nature or Inner Spiritual Self, or, in other words, the monadic essence standing back of and expressing itself through not its “sister, the human soul,” but its child, the intermediate portion of the human constitution.

It is when this intermediate portion, popularly called the human soul, becomes so pellucid, through evolution and initiatory training, that it can manifest the wonderful powers and faculties of its parent monad, that the human soul becomes the self-conscious center of what we may truly call a divinity—our own Inner Essential Divinity. The lofty human whose intermediate nature has thus become so pervious in character to the stream of spiritual-divine illumination is spoken of variously in the different races. Among the Buddhists such a human being would be called a Buddha, or Bodhisattva per¬haps; among mystical modern Christians, reference would be made to the immanent Christ or Christos; while the Hindu, the student of the wonderful Theosophy of Brahmanism as embodied in the Upanishads of India, would speak of such a case of lofty humanity as one in whom the “inner Brahman lives and shines.” 

Here, then, is the key—the only key thus far—to the spiritual-psychological mystery of H. P. Blavatsky, the key we are going to place in the lock of circumstance and give it a turn, and then another turn, endeavoring to pass over the threshold of what to the public is an unknown land, to the brilliant and amazing scenes of human quasi-divinity. 


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