The Theosophical Forum – May 1937

THE EXOTERIC AND ESOTERIC H. P. B. — G. de Purucker

Companions and Friends: Instead of talking to you about what our beloved H. P. B.'s work was, and what she has done, it might be interesting to try to give you a few important thoughts regarding H. P. B. herself: who she was, what she was, and why she came; and I shall try briefly to do this.

First, then, I shall talk to you on the exoteric H. P. B. There were two in one in that great woman — an outside which met the world and had to face the conditions of the world into which she came to work; and an inside, a living flame of love and intelligence, a flame of inspiration and holy light, and this latter was the esoteric side of H. P. B.

As you look at her face and study it, and consider the Russian features — the lineaments which proclaim the steppes of Great Russia: if you pause on these alone you will see little but a face in which there is not much of merely human beauty. Yet those who have eyes to see and who look behind, as it were, the veil of the physical personality, indeed can see something else. They can see beauty; they can see an intense pathos and a great sadness — not the sadness, not the pathos, of one who had a great work to do and who could not or did not do it, but the yearning, the pathos, the sorrow, that have always been connected with the figure called in the Occident the "Christ." Just so! For behind these outer lineaments which some artists have actually called ugly, we see an ethereal beauty which no human words will easily describe, but which every human heart can sense, and which every human eye which is spiritually opened can also see. There is inspiration in that face which is beautiful to look upon; there is self-dedication; there are thoughts divine because there is truth, and truth is Nature's own divine heart; and it is these spiritual qualities which shine out of the face of our beloved H. P. B. when we look at her picture, and which proclaim to us that behind the outer person there was the inner living esoteric fire.

Does any Theosophist who has studied the wonderful Wisdom-Religion of Antiquity imagine for a moment that H. P. B. came to the Occidental world by chance, outside of Nature's laws and rigid concatenation of cause and effect which produce everything in due order? Does anyone imagine therefore that whatever is, has not its ordered and concerted place in the cosmic harmony? Of course not. This therefore means that H. P. B. came in obedience to a law, one of Nature's laws about which the ignorant West knows all too little, and therefore doubts, and because of doubting is blind — for doubt always veils the inner vision.

H. P. B. came because it was time for her to come. She was one of the series of Teachers which human history shows us to come at certain stated periods throughout the ages, one Teacher after the other, and always when the time is right and ripe, and never by chance. She was one of the links in what the ancient Greek Initiates called the Living Chain of Hermes, the Golden Chain, in connexion with the passing on of mystic and esoteric light and truth, and she came in regular serial succession to the Teachers who had preceded her, each one of them sent forth from the great association of Sages and Seers, variously called the Mahatmans, the Elder Brothers of mankind, and by other names. These Teachers, these Leaders and Guides of mankind come and teach according to law, esoteric and natural law, when the time calls for their coming; otherwise how logically explain their serial existence?

The ages pass, and each age has a new generation of men, and each generation of men receives light from the generations which preceded it, from its fathers. But generations rise and they fall, physically in civilization as well as spiritually in light, and in the intellectual, the ethical, and mental courses which men follow in producing the civilizing influences of human life. And in these generations which follow each other, there is always need for guiding minds, for a light given anew from age to age, for a new lighting, phoenix-like, of the old fires. It is these passers-on of the Light who compose the "Golden Chain of Hermes."

Now what do these Teachers bring to mankind? Doctrines contrary and antagonistic and opposite to the doctrines and teachings of those who had preceded them? Never, never, when their teachings are properly understood. Examine the teachings of all the Great Sages and Seers of the ages who have appeared among men. You will find them essentially one, fundamentally one, although expressed in different languages, expressed in different forms and formulations of thought appropriate to the ages, the respective ages, in which each of the Messengers appeared. Although clad in various garments, clothed in differing habiliments, the body of truth that they taught and teach is one.

Now what these Sages brought to men our H. P. B. also brought. Examine, test, this statement, prove it for yourselves — and the literatures of the world lie before you enabling you to do this. If she taught anything that the Great Seers who preceded her did not teach, it will be to me a wonder if you can find it, and I believe that you cannot. You remember what Confucius said: "I teach nothing new. I teach what my predecessors have taught. I love the ancients, therefore I teach what they taught." Details of the teaching differ, the clothing of the teaching varies of necessity, but the teaching itself is the truth of and about Nature, about Nature's own being, its structure, its operations, its carpentry, its characteristics, its laws. When the Theosophist says "Nature" as a word without further qualification, he never limits this word "Nature" to the physical world alone. He means universal Being, including divine Nature, spiritual Nature, intellectual Nature, physical Nature, astral Nature — all the spiritual and ethereal realms and spheres and worlds and planes which compose what the great thinkers of the Occident, as well as of the Orient, have called the spirit and soul and body of the Universe.

That is what she taught. That is what the Great Sages and Seers of the ages taught: an open or outer teaching and an inner or hid teaching: an exoteric doctrine for the public, and an esoteric doctrine for those who had proved themselves capable of understanding it and ready in their understanding to hold it secret and sacred. For if it were proper to give this esoteric teaching to the public, it would be so given. Remember that the archaic Wisdom-Religion of the ages is man's natural heritage, and belongs to him by right; but you as individuals have no right to your heritage until you come of age, until you become major of mind and are no longer spiritual and intellectual infants, ready to abuse what is indeed yours by right, but which Nature and the gods and the Masters in compassion and love and wisdom withhold from erring men, until they shall have learned to control themselves. Then men will be able to control what belongs to them by natural right. There will then no longer be a danger of misapplication or of misuse.

Grand and sublime ethics were the basis of what this noble Messenger of the Masters, our H. P. B., taught. She showed us that ethics, that morals, are based on the very structure and laws of Nature herself, that ethics and morals are no mere human convention, that right is eternally right no matter how men may argue about the details, and that wrong is eternally wrong. Right is harmony, and wrong is disharmony. Harmony is Nature's heart of love and music and peace, for it is equilibrium; and disharmony is discord, lack of peace, unmusical discords in Nature and throughout human life; for all Nature is ensouled just as man is, and this doctrine of ethics is one of the noblest of the teachings which she brought. She taught us — and listen, my Brothers, to this — she taught us of our inseparable oneness, of our unity, with the heart of Being, so that death, that grizzly phantom of the Occident, no longer exists as a fearsome object for the Theosophist, because the genuine Theosophist who understands his philosophy looks upon death as the grandest Adventure that it is possible for a human being to undertake, a sublime and magnificent initiation into other worlds, into a nobler, a grander, and a greater life.

One of a serial succession of Teachers, she came in the rhythmical order of the laws which control our planet. She came indeed at the beginning of one Messianic Cycle of 2160 years and at the end of the preceding cycle of the same term. She was the Messenger for her age, that is, for the age to come — the one who was to sound a new keynote, which yet, mystically speaking, is as old as the ages; and in a certain very true but little known sense, she was an Avatara — an Avatara of a certain type or kind, for there are different kinds of Avataras. This is one truth concerning H. P. B. that we must be careful and watchful as regards teaching it to the world, for the world has no conception of the many recondite meanings of the Avatara-doctrine. Every Teacher who comes to teach man comprises not only his or her body and an unusually received psychological apparatus, but is likewise at times infilled with the holy fire of a greater Soul, and therefore is de facto an Avatara of a kind. Just as Jesus called the Christ was an Avatara of one kind for his age, so was she, our beloved H. P. B., an Avatara of another kind for her age.

It is usual among modern Occidentals, especially artists, to portray Jesus called of Nazareth, as a man of wonderful physical beauty, of outstanding manliness, and of fascinating appearance; but was he really so? Is this Occidental picture true to fact? It is an Occidental idea or ideal of the Middle Ages and of our own times. Do you not know that the Christian Church Fathers often took pride in proclaiming the idea aloud to the world that Jesus called of Nazareth was a man of mean appearance? Do you indeed know this? They sometimes describe him as a man of mean person, insignificant in body and in physical form. Yet what has that, true or false, to do with the flame within, the flame of the spirit which shines through the mortal clay, so that the latter like a lamp becomes luminous and glows and gives light to those around? That is where the true spiritual entity is — within.

I will tell you the reason why H. P. B., this present Avatara — of the particular kind I speak of — had the form of one whose physical appearance is unhandsome. With her the causative reason has thus far succeeded wonderfully well. With Jesus, the Syrian Avatara, the same reason failed of effect in succeeding ages. What was and is this reason? This: An endeavor was made by the Teachers, is indeed made at each new appearance of a Messenger, to have that Messenger make his spiritual and intellectual mark on the world solely by the fire of the genius within, only by the fire of divinity within, and to prevent later generations from falling down and worshiping, through instinctive love of beauty, the physical body. It is against the instincts of the human heart to adore ugliness, to pray to that which is unhandsome. In the case of Jesus, in later times blind faith and foolish adoration prevailed. In the case of our beloved H. P. B., the woman unhandsome has saved us and her thus far from that fate. No man or woman is drawn to worship ugliness, and this in itself is right, in a sense; it is not wrong, because it is an instinct of the human soul to know that inner beauty will produce outer beauty, perhaps not so much in form, but in appearance. There will be the beauty of manly or womanly dignity, the beauty of the inner light shining forth in love and wisdom, kindliness and gentleness. I do hope that you understand what I mean in making these few short observations.

Two thousand one hundred and sixty years before H. P. B.'s birth the particular Messianic Cycle began which, as its centuries followed one the other, plunged European countries into the darkness of the Middle Ages. Today, more or less 2160 years afterwards, a new cycle opened when she was born, a rising cycle which should bring light, peace, knowledge, wisdom, to men; and it is the duty of us Theosophists, members of the Theosophical Movement — whether belonging to the Society of Point Loma, or to the Society of Adyar, or members of the U. L. T., or of any other of the so-called Independent Societies — it is our duty, as Brother-Theosophists, as common members of the Theosophical Movement, to see to it that the Message which she brought to us, and gave into our hands as a holy charge, shall be kept pure and unadulterated, and shall be passed on to our descendants of succeeding generations just as we have received it. "As I have received it, thus must I pass it on, not otherwise. Iti maya srutam: Thus have I heard."

I think that the greatest tribute that our hearts and minds can give to our beloved H. P. B., is to know her exactly as she was, exactly as she was in truth, not merely according to what anybody says about her. The best way to see her as she was is to study her, and her books which indeed are she. Then you will know the real H. P. B., for you will use the test of your intelligence and of your heart, to judge her by what she herself was and by what she produced, not by what someone else may say about her. Let us carry on the torch of light that she gave into our hands.

H. P. B. came to a world which was in the throes of a veritable Dance of Death, a Danse Macabre, in which might be heard, according to this medieval idea, the clattering of the bones of the dead, the hooting of the owls of despair, and where one might sense dank, evil-smelling odors of the graveyard wherein men had buried their hopes. That was the world to which H. P. B. came and the time in which she spoke: a time when men had lost virtually all faith in recognising that there could be a knowledge of spiritual things, a time when even to speak of divinity, of a lasting hope, and of things spiritual, was considered to be a mark of intellectual imbecility. The very word "soul" was tabu.

Single-handed, that Mighty Woman wrought a change in human thinking by the power of her spiritual knowledge which enabled her to work on human spirits and human souls, and in so doing she cast seeds of thought into human minds, which seeds swept like sparks of flame through human understanding. By the tremendous energy of her intellect she taught men to think of life and Nature in a new way, for she showed to them that the doctrines of the dying materialism, which were then so fashionable and to which men had given the confidence of their hearts, were hollow-sounding brass and tinkling cymbals, and that men were not only foolishly burying their noblest hopes in the graveyard of material existence, but likewise were fashioning themselves inwardly to become like unto the graveyard, towards which their feet were carrying them.

A mighty power came into the world and worked and wrought, and the weaving of the web which she wrought has played a great part in producing the better conditions we find among us today. The world today is beginning to think Theosophy, and to think in a Theosophical way, and hence the Macabrian Dance of H. P. B.'s times has been stopped — that dance of death, that giddy, soulless, thoughtless, dance of death in the graveyard of human hopes; that today has ceased!

There is a psychological wonder, a mystery, in H. P. B., for H. P. B. was a mystery. Since she came and taught, what do we find our greatest modern scientific researchers and thinkers telling us today? Adumbrations of many of the doctrines that she taught: doctrines, so far as these scientific researchers are concerned, which are based upon deductions made from the researches into physical nature that those scientists are following. Before the scientists found the facts, she taught these facts, and she taught them in the face of ridicule and scorn and opposition from the Church on the one hand and from Science on the other hand, and from the established privileges and prerogatives of all kinds — social, religious, philosophical, scientific, what not — which surrounded her.

In her there was strength, spiritual strength, for she set men's souls aflame; in her there was intellectual power, for she taught men to think and to have a new vision; and in her also there was psychological power, for she smashed the mayavi psychological wall which man in his folly had builded around his consciousness.

Now reflect upon what all this means. Could you have done it? Would you have had the courage to dare it? Could you, single-handed, face the world in a similar manner today? There is a cause and a reason for the work that she wrought. We today see the effects, we know the historical phenomenon of her life and work; but what was the noumenal cause? It was the living spiritual and intellectual fires within her. It was the esoteric side of H. P. Blavatsky which enabled her to do what she did.

Do you think for a moment that H. P. B. was only an ordinary woman? Do you think that the stories that have been told about her, such as Mr. Sinnett's Incidents in the Life of H. P. Blavatsky, contain all the real facts about her life, and do you suppose that even the statements that are therein narrated contain in themselves a full explanation of her? Don't believe it! The facts in themselves are against such a belief. Such a woman as Sinnett describes in his Incidents could never have moved the world as H. P. B. did. Do you think that the Russian girl that he describes, and that the Russian "priestess" so-called that Solovyoff, her quondam friend and later her bitter foe, tried to portray, could have done it? Do you think that a hypocrite, that a false heart joined with an ordinary mind, could have gathered about herself the intellectual and often highly ethical people whom she gathered around her? Of course not!

Take into consideration the facts in H. P. B.'s life. Don't let your minds be swayed by the tales that have been told about her. Think them over for yourself, because thoughtful reflexion is one of the first duties of a Theosophist, and then draw your own conclusions. Indeed, the stories that have been told about H. P. B. interest us simply as a psychological phenomenon of the weakness of human thinking. They also interest us, not because they accurately describe H. P. B., for they don't, but simply because they describe the incapacities of the men and women who try to explain her. You might as well try to put the ocean into a teacup as to encompass the character, the constitution, of H. P. B. in the yarns professing to be biographical that have been written about her. At the best they contain certain facts gathered in random fashion from her own family — who understood her perhaps less than her Theosophical friends did, and who said so — gathered together and strung along a certain thread of narrative. Is the reading of such tales the pathway to understanding one who did what she did?

H. P. B. was of course a woman in body, remember that; and invigorating and inflaming this body with its brain-mind was the inner divine Sun, the "inner Buddha," the living "Christ within" as the mystical Christians of today say. But between this divine fire and the receptive and mystically-trained and educated brain of the woman, there was a psychological apparatus, commonly spoken of in western parlance as the "human soul," which in the case of her — for she was an Initiate of the Order of the Buddhas of Compassion and Peace — could at times step aside and allow the entrance into the vacancy thus left of a "human soul" loftier by far than even hers.

Thus was she an Avatara of her kind. It was this Buddhic Splendor which thus infilled the vacancy that she so gladly left for use, which in large part wrought the works of wonder that H. P. B. wrought. You may remember that in her writings she often makes a distinction between what she calls "H. P. B." and "H. P. Blavatsky." "H. P. Blavatsky" was the woman, the chela, the woman-chela, the aspiring, learning, splendid, noble, courageous chela. But "H. P. B." was the Master's mind speaking through her. Body and spirit, one entity; then the intermediate psychological apparatus, commonly called the "soul," temporarily removable at will. In fact — — and let me tell you the truth — when our H. P. B. was sent as the Messenger, that psychological apparatus in large part remained behind. Think! This fact accounts for the so-called contrarieties and contradictions of her character that the people who attempted to write about her saw — and saw very plainly, because they could not help seeing — but which they did not understand, and by which they often mis- judged her and misunderstood her. But when the holy flame had infilled this vacancy, then there was H. P. B. the Teacher, the Sage, the Seer, the Teacher of great natural scientific truths which modern science today is but beginning to show to be true, the Teacher of a great hope to mankind, the giver of a Vision to men, the framer and former of a new Philosophy-Religion-Science for men.

Shall we look upon H. P. B. merely as a Russian gentlewoman? If so, a most marvelous gentlewoman was she! The simple theory will not fit the facts — a Russian woman who had no education, technically speaking: no education in science, no education in religion, no education to speak of in philosophy, but who was educated in mystical lines; and yet the H. P. B. who lived and taught was an Adept, and in her teachings was a Master in all these lines of human knowledge!

Shall we look upon her as an incarnate Mahatman? The facts are against that, all against it, just as they are all against the former theory. Let us take our beloved H. P. B. exactly as she was, not as she is misrepresented to be. Let us take her as we know her to be. Let us take her as we find her in her books. Let us take the facts, and no man's theories about her; and if you are wise enough you will see, you will understand, who and what she was.

There were times in her social life when she was the charming hostess, a grande dame. There were other times when she was a pianist of admirable and most exceptional ability. Again at other times she charmed people with her brilliant conversational powers, and she would fascinate a whole room, hold her audience spellbound. Men of learning, the laborer, the noble, prince and peasant, gathered to hear her. There were still other times, in her home, when things were quiet and her disciples gathered around her, when she taught some truths drawn from the Great Mysteries of the Wisdom-Religion of the past. There were other times when she sat at her desk, and wrote and wrote and wrote from morning until night, and then would lie down, and, as she herself said, for a little while went "Home." She then had rest!

There were other times when she would hold her "at homes," her receptions, during which she would receive scientists, philosophers, thinkers, controversialists of various kinds, philosophical, scientific, religious; chat with them; and they would leave her in amazement. "Whence comes to this woman," they said, "her marvelous understanding? How is it that she can tell me secrets of my own profession which I knew not before? Whence comes to her the ability to show me that this is so?" All these moods, these sides of her character, were indeed there, and every one must be taken into account. Only the explanation of the facts themselves will enable you to understand her. At times she was the woman, and was tender and compassionate, with a woman's love of rings, of sweet perfumes, and of kindly friends. At another time she was the Teacher and Sage. At another time she was strong and virile, so that, as her friends said, it seemed verily as if man incarnate were manifesting through her — not any one man, but Man.

Now you have it: the body, the woman, the gentlewoman, well-trained, well-bred, ill-educated; the divine flame within her that occasionally seized her brain as it were — and then she spoke like a pythoness, like a prophetess, like an oracle at Delphi; and similarly so at other times, when she was infilled, as the Avatara, with the holy flame of one of the Great Ones. Then she was the Sage and Seer, and wrote her books, foreshadowing in these books what later has come to pass, and pointing out to men the dangers of a belief divorced from ethical rules.

Let us recognise H. P. B. for what she was; and mind you, my friends, mind you this thought: We who have studied H. P. B. love her, are faithful to her in heart and mind, yet we shall set our faces like flint, like stone, against any attempt to worship her, to make a new Jesus out of her. You know what the Great Ones have told us: More than anything else do we desire a Brotherhood among men, a Brotherhood which will save mankind from the catastrophes which are facing it, brought about by mankind's own folly. The catastrophes, the cataclysms, moral and even physical, which are even now facing us, will surely come upon us unless men change their habits of thought and, in consequence, their acts, their conduct. We shall set our faces like stone against any attempt to introduce a new religion among men, which our Great Teachers have already pointed out to be, and which is, one of the greatest curses and banes afflicting mankind at the present time: belief in an outside Savior instead of fidelity to the divine spirit within. For there within indeed lie all truth, all harmony, all wisdom, all love, all peace. The inner god within each one of you as an individual is of the very heart of the heart of the Universe, and concerning that heart of the Universe, each one of you is It.

H. P. B. was indeed a mystery, but while she was a mystery, this does not mean a "mystery" in the sense in which this word is commonly used in the Occident. I mean a mystery in the sense of the ancient Greeks, when they spoke of the ancient Mysteries and the ancient Mystery-Schools — something which is hid, but can be known, something that is occult and holy, but which can be communicated.

H. P. B. can be understood; and when we understand her, we love her the more; the more we understand her, the greater grows our love, our veneration, for her. Let it never happen, therefore, that we Theosophists become so false to the trust which she gave to us that we shall turn our backs to the Mystic East, towards which she always pointed, and worship the Avatara. Let us be faithful to our trust. We can love, we can venerate, we can copy the example of magnificent courage and sublime hope that she gave to us. We can try to become like unto this great Woman, and unto many others like her who have appeared in the past, who will appear in the future, others far greater than she, but let us never set her on a pinnacle as was done, alas! alas! in the case of one of the Teachers in the early years of Christianity.

No greater tribute could we render to our beloved H. P. B. than by continuing faithfully, and in our love of her, the work which she so grandly began.


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