Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

[An Editorial published in the New-York Daily Tribune (founded by Horace Greeley), Sunday, May 10, 1891, two days after H. P. Blavatsky's death. — Ed.]

Few women in our time have been more persistently misrepresented, slandered and defamed than Madame Blavatsky, but though malice and ignorance did their worst upon her there are abundant indications that her life-work will vindicate itself; that it will endure; and that it will operate for good. She was the founder of the Theosophical Society, an organization now fully and firmly established, which has branches in many countries, East and West, and which is devoted to studies and practices the innocence and the elevating character of which are becoming more generally recognized continually. The life of Madame Blavatsky was a remarkable one, but this is not the place or time to speak of its vicissitudes. It must suffice to say that for nearly twenty years she had devoted herself to the dissemination of doctrines the fundamental principles of which are of the loftiest ethical character. However Utopian may appear to some minds an attempt in the nineteenth century to break down the barriers of race, nationality, caste and class prejudice, and to inculcate that spirit of brotherly love which the greatest of all Teachers enjoined in the first century, the nobility of the aim can only be impeached by those who repudiate Christianity. Madame Blavatsky held that the regeneration of mankind must be based upon the development of altruism. In this she was at one with the greatest thinkers, not alone of the present day, but of all time; and at one, it is becoming more and more apparent, with the strongest spiritual tendencies of the age. This alone would entitle her teachings to the candid and serious consideration of all who respect the influences that make for righteousness.

In another direction, though in close association with the cult of universal fraternity, she did important work. No one in the present generation, it may be said, has done more toward reopening the long-sealed treasures of Eastern thought, wisdom, and philosophy. No one certainly has done so much toward elucidating that profound wisdom-religion wrought out by the ever-cogitating Orient, and bringing into the light those ancient literary works whose scope and depth have so astonished the Western world, brought up in the insular belief that the East had produced only crudities and puerilities in the domain of speculative thought. Her own knowledge of Oriental philosophy and esotericism was comprehensive. No candid mind can doubt this after reading her two principal works. Her steps often led, indeed, where only a few initiates could follow, but the tone and tendency of all her writings were healthful, bracing and stimulating. The lesson which was constantly impressed by her was assuredly that which the world most needs, and has always needed, namely, the necessity of subduing self and of working for others. Doubtless such a doctrine is distasteful to the ego-worshippers, and perhaps it has little chance of anything like general acceptance, to say nothing of general application. But the man or woman who deliberately renounces all personal aims and ambitions in order to forward such beliefs is certainly entitled to respect, even from such as feel least capable of obeying the call to a higher life.

The work of Madame Blavatsky has already borne fruit, and is destined, apparently, to produce still more marked and salutary effects in the future. Careful observers of the time long since discerned that the tone of current thought in many directions was being affected by it. A broader humanity, a more liberal speculation, a disposition to investigate ancient philosophies from a higher point of view, have no indirect association with the teachings referred to. Thus Madame Blavatsky has made her mark upon the time, and thus, too, her works will follow her. She herself has finished the course, and after a strenuous life she rests. But her personal influence is not necessary to the continuance of the great work to which she put her hand. That will go on with the impulse it has received, and some day, if not at once, the loftiness and purity of her aims, the wisdom and scope of her teachings, will be recognized more fully, and her memory will be accorded the honor to which it is justly entitled.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1985)


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