In our appreciation of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, many of us may in our great love for the actor, pay too little attention to the stage-setting of the drama wherein she played the leading part. Let us, therefore, examine the processes of human thought as the stage was set in 1872, when H. P. B. was sent to the Western World.
Orthodoxy in religion in the Western World had received its death-blow by several hands. Voltaire, Kant, Thomas Paine, and last but not least, Colonel Bob Ingersoll, had played the role of St. George, dealing telling blows to the dragon of religious despotism. The "pearly gates" were crumbling under the battering-ram of Reason. Where can be found a moral and spiritual fortitude in an age whose so-called "spiritual" leaders teach thus: — "I have sinned, but through priestly mediation God has forgiven! I have sown, but I dare not reap! I am afraid, afraid! Let my sins be forgiven!"
A new and youthful Science had entered the arena. Youthful, egotistic, just as arrogant and dogmatic as the older theology it came, carrying its new toys, the telescope, the microscope, the volt-meter, the test-tubes. "Where is this God of mercy and justice, this all-loving Father? My telescope does not find Him in empty space; my microscope does not find Him in the atom; my test-tubes show an accidental arrangement of atoms which react and interact strictly by mechanical laws." Where can be found Hope and Charity in a world whose philosophy is — "Men are born, they suffer, they die — — and that's that."
Now entered a new element which in a more tolerant age might have reconciled to some extent the religionist and the scientist. With proper guidance, the spiritualistic movement might have been able to prove the existence, if not of God, at least of an immortal soul in man. But the scientist laughed to scorn, and the religionist heaped maledictions upon that which might have been the strongest ally of only from their own selfishness — personal, national, and racial selfishness? Will men never learn that one cannot gain at the expense of another? — that one cannot rise by another's fall? — that the welfare of mankind depends on the welfare of the individual? — that the only actual evil is Ignorance? — that the only actual sin is the Heresy of Separateness?
Compare this condition with the world of thought of today. The thousand and one sects, "isms," and "ologies," and what not, are witness to the manner in which religious orthodoxy has compromised with the Ancient Wisdom. Although most of these are based on a partial understanding (or misunderstanding) of limited phases of the Ancient Wisdom, they may prove to be stepping-stones by which some will find their way Home, to the central source of the Teachings in this century.
The greatest of the scientists are perhaps the least dogmatic men in the world today. They admit that the microscope and telescope reveal only the external, the world of effects. But behind, or within, must be a Reality, which can never be reached except by Spiritual Insight. They do not, however, like the word "God." The scientist of today is truly an occultist, basing his researches on, and handling, the cosmic laws and powers described either directly or indirectly by H. P. Blavatsky over fifty years ago. He no longer insists that ultimates have been discovered, or that the so-called laws of science may not be subject to instant modification; in fact, he admits that the science of today is based on theories and not on Reality.
Much of the cynicism and agnosticism of 19th-century philosophy has given way to a broader vision of Universal Brotherhood. Of course the Theosophist cannot agree with all the methods proposed, but with the goal of Universal Brotherhood in view, the numberless paths and by-paths must inevitably merge, in the course of time, into one broad highway. Modern philosophy has received the leaven of the Ancient Wisdom, and religious tolerance is actually practised in many parts of the world today. Leaders of different religious sects find a common ground in the basic teachings of all religions. And that basic teaching is Theosophy, whether they like the word or not.
These few points touch only upon the revolution which has taken place in human thought since 1872. It is undeniable that Theosophy has played the largest part in this revolution. H. P. Blavatsky has not lived in vain. She has succeeded in her Great Work. The molds of mind are broken. In time to come, H. P. B. will be recognised as the great outstanding figure of the nineteenth century.
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