Until H. P. B. put on public record an outline of the Ancient Wisdom no such complete system of philosophy and religion had been given to our world at any one time in recorded history. Jesus and most of the other great teachers of religions taught orally. In each case only fragments have come down to us and those fragments chiefly in the form of mutilated and misunderstood symbologies. Such systems of thought are entirely unlike the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena, who sprang full-fledged from the brow of Zeus. It was thus that Theosophy came from H. P. B. and her Teachers.
H. P. B. was too great and too brilliant to fit any everyday standards. So many facets she had to her unmeasured and, it seemed to many, unpredictable character that few could understand her except in part. Consequently some few concluded that she must be the greatest of unexplainable impostors.
Because of her astonishing intuition she saw the good and bad in every one and what she often saw made her life a martyrdom. The kindly and the perceiving often see much that makes their hearts ache.
A few, feeling that they were understood by her too well for their own comfort, were furious and, losing all sense of proportion, attacked her bitterly and even with dishonest and subtle monomania.
Thus it has been with most of the greatest theosophists in all ages — most of the world's greatest spiritual leaders — for only the noble of heart can understand the great of soul. A book was once published, not by a theosophist, entitled: The World's Sixteen Crucified Saviors', and truly they were crucified on worse than crosses of wood. However the bitterness of the attacks upon H. P. B. helped her to keep this little known philosophy before the world. Because slander travels faster than truth, her enemies obtained a hearing to which they were in no wise entitled, thus her enemies were her most effective advertizers. And now we and the race are reaping the benefits of her martyrdom, the benefits of the enlightenment her widely spreading doctrines are bringing. Thus it has often been. For instance, the story of the crucifixion made Jesus the greatest figure of our Western world; without that story he might have remained an almost unknown Jewish prophet.
We can well consider much and ponder often on all the factors that went to make H. P. B. so potent a force in influencing the ideas and ideals of our time. She and her following had such effects because small beginnings at the right time may change the course of history; a minute trace of medicine given at the right time by a wise physician may put physical and mental health into the whole body. A microscopic germ of pollen put upon the breeze may make a great tree. The tree may produce a forest. The right idea started at the right time and place may be the match that starts a conflagration or lights a beacon, or it may change the literature and music of a nation. The right thought given at the right time by a chance acquaintance to the little known intimate of a great statesman may change a trend of world events. Such incidents are a matter of history. A catalyst may be the minute quantity that starts a reaction and changes the whole compound.
Thus it was that the little known but so potent H. P. B. and her ideas started at the right time made so deep an impress on the present and longtime future of the race.
She brought a philosophy so broad and so fundamental in its logic that foremost thinkers of our time are using many of her ideas as their very own. We congratulate them for it, for thus they are building toward a new civilization based upon a wholesome philosophy of life and an attitude of brotherhood toward our fellow men.
H. P. B.'s book The Secret Doctrine has been spoken of by some great modern thinkers as the "bible of the future," to which all sects and religions will proudly trace their origin. Her teachings are so vast and rich that every individual and every small or worldwide group can and will take therefrom as much as they desire, as much as their souls need at the time. Already we can see the widely scattered beginnings of this, though no one can take in all that she has offered. From the seeds she sowed whole forests of ideas are growing of many shades of foliage and many varieties of fruitage. Not all the fruitage may be equally good. She foresaw that and could not help it; imitations are inevitable and dilutions may seem desirable to many.
As all the great religions of the past and present sprang from one primeval source so will those of the future spring from, or wander from, or be regenerated by, the broad outlines and multitudinous details she flung wide to the world. In an age of change no one can stop the chain reaction of truth. No one can dam back the flood of regenerating ideas that is sweeping many parts of the world.
She gave to Christianity, and to every other religion, the magically enlightening explanations of the symbology back of their fundamentalist dogmas. She reshaped the trend of religious thought into liberal and what the enlightened public can now see to be common-sense interpretations of the symbolisms and allegories of the otherwise preposterous dogmas handed down from the Middle Ages.
At times throughout many years I met, knew and worked with many who had worked with or known and crossed friendly swords with H. P. B., including some few who never became theosophists. Having begun my intellectual life in H. P. B.'s life-time, and under the impact of her writings as they came from the press, and surrounded as I was by many shades of thought and constant discussions of the trends of independent thinking, I can truly say that no other person or group of persons produced such deep and ever-growing impressions on this age as she has produced. Until H. P. B. brought her philosophy, outside of a few almost unknown mystics and incomplete ancient oriental systems, there was in the Occident no generally known doctrine of karma, practically no knowledge of reincarnation; no thought that universal brotherhood is a fact in Nature; no doctrine or realization of the god within; and no explanation of how the spiritual generates the mental and material and all of the world we know.
All of these ideas and enough more to keep philosophers busy for an age she brought, and they are now definitely, or in part, incorporated into the thinking of mankind. But with all of this, let us not forget H. P. B.'s human side, her love of adventure, her scintillating humor, her love of human beings, which was what made her work possible.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE