Prologue to HPB Special Issue (1997)

By Grace F. Knoche

Our June-July issue focuses on Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Unconventional to the core, she was misunderstood and maligned almost from the moment she arrived in New York City in July 1873 to the day of her death in London in May 1891. She was an enigma even to friends, admirers, and loyal co-workers who loved and supported her; all the more puzzling to those who felt their beliefs threatened. And why? Because she had the training and the temerity to upset the tables in the temples of our souls, so that we might wake up and tread the road of self-discovery, self-knowledge, and self-illumination. This is a challenging and hazardous role to play, even for the hardiest of spirits.

"There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come" — the closing quarter of the nineteenth century, when the Piscean influence was yielding power and place to the more expansive Aquarian impulse, was the confluence of many cycles and forces. HPB with her revolutionary concepts of universal brotherhood, karma, reincarnation, and inner worlds beyond the physical, while affronting Western orthodoxy, found welcome with a small but steadily growing number of freethinking individuals who, daring to venture in thought and aspiration beyond the status quo, demanded to know before they would believe. This is what HPB offered: a philosophy that not only withstands the most searching examination, but also provides sustenance to the soul and profound inspiration to mind and spirit.

Her message is a reminder of what we inwardly know, that we are not newly made and bare of ancestry, but divinely born out of an immensity of past experience, and with an infinity of future unfolding ahead. Her impelling duty was to share this vision as widely as possible. Humanity was perilously near soul death; the time had come to restore the ancient knowlege of who we are: complex beings rooted in an indwelling mystery, undefiled and pure, enmeshed in a series of ever more material "coats of skin." In truth we are a replica in miniature of Deity, of the Elohim who breathed upon the waters of the deep and fecundated the seeds of lives that were to inhabit a new earth, with its several families of living beings — elemental, mineral, plant, animal, and human — each to become, in the course of ages, a fully awakened god, a conscious co-worker in cosmic doings.

H. P. Blavatsky was the bearer of mighty ideas, and with a mighty pen she bequeathed to this and the coming centuries a vision, a purpose and, greater than all these, an example of courage and steadfast trust in the law and in the wisdom of her teachers. Despite wretched health she accomplished the task required of her: to bequeath for the incoming precessional cycle of Aquarius a fresh and vitalizing philosophy for creative living and dying, one with power to widen horizons and deepen understanding.

In this issue space allows us to explore only a small portion of the richness and power of her nature and gift to humanity. Several articles confront some of the unfounded charges against her character and truthfulness that have continued to circulate over the years. Perhaps the most significant contribution is the "Comments by her Teachers" which hint at the mystery behind HPB and the inner and outer connection with the source of her wisdom. Humanity would be the poorer had she not been the transmitter of a fuller installment of "the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages" — and for this we offer everlasting gratitude.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, June/July 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)

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