The Theosophical Forum – May 1948


Perhaps there is no office more misunderstood than that of a Theosophical Leader and Teacher. Full advantage is taken of this fact by the enemies of Theosophy and that is one reason why there are periodic attacks at regular intervals on Madame Blavatsky and her memory. It is also a reason why those who profess to be devoted to Theosophy and its main public representative are often slack in defence of the one who has given them the very breath of spiritual life.

H. P. B. was a strong active woman who had travelled the world sometimes dressed as a man when in countries considered dangerous for the foreigner. When she began the work of the Theosophical Society she was healthy and vigorous and virile; a woman in her prime. By modern standards there is no reason why she should not have lived to a ripe old age, but she died a worn out old woman at 60.

What is the explanation? It is not only that she did the work of three active men or women, but that she bore strains which few round her suspected or only dimly realized. There were Theosophical babies in her day who imagined they could have become leaders and could have shone in a pleasant light of publicity for such time as was necessary. They imagined, some of them, that everything would be easy, because did they not trust in the men who act as impersonal forces behind the scenes? What did they know of the terrific energies which had to pour through her frame and flow out over the whole world? The best of them would have had their constitution shattered in a matter of weeks.

The man on whom her mantle fell, W. Q. Judge, was not constitutionally strong, but he might have reasonably expected a normal period of life. He had suffered from Chagres fever; thousands of others had done the same and had survived. But the same forces were flowing through him as flowed through H. P. B. and they were possibly less strong than she experienced, but they were still titanic. There was not a single member of the society of that day who could have stood the strain, except perhaps one who went to Tibet for yet more severe training than W. Q. J. had undergone.

H. P. B. was fond of the occult story of the bundle of sticks which separately could be easily broken, but together were strong enough to resist any effort to break them. If those who should have supported her and who should have supported W. Q. J. had held together like that bundle of sticks, these two teachers could have stood the strain of the cosmic forces streaming through them with sufficient resistance of the physical instrument and would have been able to direct their spiritual power more towards the salvation of humanity. But so many of them wanted what they thought was occultism, unaware that this bundle of sticks idea is the very highest occultism they were ever likely to contact. And they were not big enough to see it.

H. P. B. ended as a chronic invalid, the subject of enough ailments to have shattered any ordinary constitution. Her will held the physical frame together when it ought to have been free to do more important work for humanity. Her physician asked her once when a blood vessel had burst in her brain, "Why don't you go into convulsions?" Her answer was characteristic, "Because I don't choose to!" At another time another physician, a Belgian, was completely puzzled. He had left her for the night knowing that she must die in a few hours. On the next day he found her a lively and perfectly cured patient. All he could do was to keep repeating, "Mais, elle a du mourir!" "But she ought to have died!" She chose to live and write The Secret Doctrine, but she had to pay the bill for her overdraft on the Bank of Life in unspeakable suffering, made a thousand times more keen by the knowledge of what everyone around her was and would do — ambitious traitors some of them, one or two imagining that they were big enough to take her place. They thought of the ambition but never of the daily torture of suffering that would fall to their lot if they did become leader. The personal self does not think of these things.

What would have happened if such an one should have been brought into the position of leader? There would have been no coherence and little spirituality; disintegration would have ensued and though the tremendous power of the initial impulse given by H. P. B. and those behind her would have been long in dispersing, it would have gone down into psychic or material and emotional futilities, just as happened with so many movements such as the pre-early Christian school. There would have been ambitious "leaders," high-priests and people in high places setting up all sorts of theosophies of their own, without soul or spirit. At the worst there might have been positive spiritual wickedness masquerading as religion or something holy and spiritual.

It should not be forgotten that H. P. B. did some of her most magnificent work while the body was in a state which would have meant death many times over to one less strong than she and less endowed with spiritual will. The body was a wreck but the mind in the background was almost more than human in its grandeur of clear perception and spirituality.

Her wrecked body was the mirror of those whom she accepted as her students and followers; her mind was that of a Master of Wisdom most of the time. She was the mirror of the movement.

The Theosophical Forum