Copyright © 1974 by Theosophical University Press (print version also available). Electronic version ISBN 1-55700-070-0. All rights reserved. This edition may be downloaded for off-line viewing without charge. No part of this publication may be reproduced for commercial or other use in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior permission of Theosophical University Press. For ease of searching, no diacritical marks appear in this electronic version of the text.
NOTE: Sections 1 and 2 have also been issued together as the book, The Path of Compassion.
A work of art stands or falls by its power to inspire. With a book such as Fountain-Source of Occultism, which treats of cosmic truths and man's timeless search for answers, all the more must its message stand or fall on worth alone. Of this G. de Purucker is pre-eminently aware; he does not profess to provide the definitive statement, the final word of truth. What he does offer is an illumined interpretation of the universal wisdom on which the Secret Doctrine of the ages — and of H. P. Blavatsky's masterpiece of that name — is founded.
Born on January 15, 1874 in Suffern, Rockland County, New York, de Purucker lived in the United States until the late '80's when the family moved to Geneva, Switzerland. His father, an Episcopal minister, had been appointed chaplain of the American Church there; a learned man and utterly committed, his inmost wish was to have his son ordained in the Anglican Communion. So he personally taught the boy Latin, Greek and Hebrew, had him tutored in modern European languages, as well as in the history and literature of Biblical peoples and of ancient Greece and Rome.
The youth applied himself with assiduity, but his was a profoundly inquiring mind, with a natural intuitive sense of what was spiritually true and what was counterfeit. Before he reached eighteen, he knew with certainty that he could not enter the church; that, in fact, no formal religion could ever bind him. The quest for the gnosis, the living wisdom behind the externals of rite and dogma, had taken powerful hold.
The shock to the parents was grievous: here was their son, destined from childhood for the ministry, able to read the Holy Scriptures in their original tongues, and trained in the functions and responsibilities of a pastor — turned agnostic.
Deeply troubled, the young man left his home and studies in Geneva, sailed for America and, after spending a few months in New York, came to California where he worked on various ranches in San Diego County. All the while he continued his search, "looking around me, right and left, trying to find the clue to the mysteries of life and death which were bothering me so badly." He bought books on the Tarot as well as on mind-healing, to find they did not satisfy. When he came across a translation of one of the Upanishads, he set to work to master Sanskrit, just as he had earlier perfected himself in Anglo-Saxon, believing with Heine, the poet, that "with every new language, one wins a new soul."
Then one day, he tells us, a small book on Theosophy fell into his hands, and "it startled me":
I saw high thinking! I felt that there was more in this book than what an agnostic had seen. My years of study and reading of the literatures of the world — ancient literatures especially — had taught me to recognize ancient truth when I saw it. I was fascinated with something that I had always known in my heart; and it was this, that there has always existed, and that there exists today, a band, a company, a society, an association, of noble Sages, great Seers, "Wise Men of the East," as this book called them.
We do not know the name of the book, but we do know that on August 16, 1893, Hobart Lorenz Gottfried de Purucker (later known as G. de P. to his associates) joined the Theosophical Society then headed in America by William Q. Judge, co-founder in 1875 with H. P. Blavatsky and H. S. Olcott of the modern theosophical movement. As a member of the San Diego Lodge and a regular user of their library, de Purucker helped organize a Secret Doctrine Class, and though only nineteen soon was appointed "permanent reader," moderating and guiding the studies of the members, most of whom were considerably older than he. For the next 49 years, to the day of his death on September 27, 1942, G. de P. gave of the fullness of himself in the service of his fellow men — a service which was to find magnificent expression in his elucidation of the spiritual principles of theosophy.
Everything he said, in private or in public print, was an amplification of his youthful vision of the Oneness of the divine impress, and of the experiencibility of that Oneness by every human being. Fountain-Source of Occultism is no exception.
In July 1929, when Gottfried de Purucker succeeded Katherine Tingley to the leadership of the Theosophical Society with international headquarters then at Point Loma, California, he initiated a series of esoteric studies for the purpose of stimulating the seeds of altruism as well as of giving instruction in the deeper aspects of theosophy. No question was too simple, none too complex, for careful examination. He insisted, however, that always the 'scientific-philosophical' points of doctrine be infused with the 'ethical-mystical': only as one lived the teaching he learned about would it yield its esoteric content.
The present volume derives from twelve booklets of instruction privately printed in 1936. These had been compiled by a small committee under Dr. de Purucker's general supervision from the stenographic reports of esoteric meetings held by him from 1929 to 1933, to which he added certain relevant passages from his published works, as well as a copious amount of fresh material on a wide variety of subjects.
Of particular interest is the order of presentation, as he had himself arranged this with exceeding care. His primary concern, he explained, was to allow the student at the outset — before he might be caught up by the fascination of the highly philosophical teachings later developed — full opportunity to absorb the ideal of unselfish service, which marks the path of compassion chosen by mankind's spiritual Mentors. Moreover, when asked why he had started off the strictly doctrinal portion of the series with an abstruse treatise on Space and Maya, instead of with the practical themes of karma and rebirth which are easily grasped, he countered that those ideas were already dealt with abundantly in the published literature of the Society. His whole endeavor was to raise the student's consciousness out of the narrow confines of the purely personal into cosmic reaches where even the knottiest of human problems could be seen in truer proportion.
Obviously, then, the book presupposes some knowledge of basic theosophical thought. But does this mean it has little to offer those to whom these ideas may be new? Quite the contrary, for here is food for reflection for all seekers, whatever their spiritual or religious leanings; and equally for those who have broken away from their credal moorings and are seeking a philosophy of meaning to which they can anchor. In brief, it addresses itself to all who recognize the interrelatedness of human destiny to the cosmic design; who intuitively sense that the pilgrimage of man spans a multiplicity of lives on earth so that the soul in the course of ages can bring forth its latent godhood. Above all, it speaks to those who in their most private moments feel the call of the inward way, to find the still, small path and take the ancient vow of self-dedication to the service of mankind.
There may be some, perhaps, who might wish that Dr. de Purucker had limited his use of foreign terms to the minimum, and presented the theosophical viewpoint simply, with a clear-cut exposition of theme. For in Fountain-Source, in tracing the descent of spirit into matter and its reascent to its pristine source, we read of lokas and talas, of planes and dhatus, of monads and sheaths.
There is sound reason for the use of so rich a terminology, drawn from the religious and philosophic treasuries of Orient and Occident. The root ideas are identic, but each lightbringer transmits his vision of Reality through the lens of his own initiatory experience. Consequently, every spiritual seer gives what appears to be a unique presentation, when actually he is simply clothing in different outer form the same occult verity. It was not only to enrich the understanding of those attached to a particular faith, but likewise to aid students of comparative religion, philosophy and mythology that Dr. de Purucker exhaustively demonstrates that the many and various names in the ancient literatures for God and the gods and their manifold functions are but variant manners of describing the one evolutionary process.
But the book is more than an orderly treatment of doctrine; rather is it a quickener of the intuition. If the reader can follow the author's sometimes tenuous yet always unbreakable sequence of thought, he may discover, in a sudden flash of insight, what H.P.B. was actually saying in this or that "difficult" passage. What was formerly baffling even to the very astute, may become, often without his brain-mind being aware of it, luminous with practical wisdom.
However, just because the volume before us consistently delineates this and that teaching in The Secret Doctrine or The Mahatma Letters, let it not be thought that the author regards the writings of H.P.B. or her teachers as "a final test of infallible authority, the way the Christians have set up their Bible and then worshiped it" — to quote from a letter G. de P. wrote on June 14, 1932 to A. Trevor Barker. "If that were the case, we would never evolve. H.P.B.'s books would be sacrosanct. . . . We must stand for the principles of things. It is very important."
Time and again the author reminds us that the only authority, the only real initiator, for each individual is his own higher self. The paradox is that Dr. de Purucker does speak "as one with authority," the authority of profound spiritual experience. Because of this many, many doors are opened wide, although as many remain closed or only slightly ajar, awaiting the moment when the reader himself will give the knock that will open for him the doorway to the light of his own inner god. To place reliance solely on head learning, the eye doctrine, is to gain but little of permanent worth. It is the heart doctrine that should claim our allegiance, the heart wisdom that makes the impress on the soul.
Significantly, G. de Purucker, as early as 1935, publicly expressed the hope, if he could find "the time and strength so to do, to publish another volume or two containing Theosophical teaching" which up to then had been privately circulated. What had formerly been held as esoteric, he believed would even then be understood in greater measure, due to the "more awakened intelligence of modern men," as well as to the increased "receptivity to new ideas [which] has created an entirely different and indeed fallow field of consciousness" (The Esoteric Tradition, 3rd & rev. ed., p. xii). While he himself was unable to accomplish this, one of these projected works, The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, representing the meetings of the Katherine Tingley Memorial Group, was issued in 1948 by Arthur L. Conger. Now with the publication of Fountain-Source of Occultism, both of these hoped-for volumes of hitherto esoteric material are available for students everywhere.
It is our deep regret that James A. Long, leader of the Theosophical Society from 1951 to 1971, did not live to see this work in finished form. But the guidelines he laid down in 1966 for the editing and preparation of the manuscript have been faithfully followed: to preserve the integrity of the teaching, both in atmosphere and content; to eliminate unnecessary repetitions; delete any purely organizational matters relating to the Theosophical Society or Esoteric Section; anglicize the spelling of those Sanskrit and other foreign terms now in current usage, such as karma, mahatma, etc.; and, where advisable, lift the presentation out of its private esoteric setting into a form suitable to public print. In brief, to condense and distill from the twelve booklets the marvelous treasury of wisdom contained therein so that the world may benefit.
As Mr. Long conceived Dr. de Purucker's intent:
All of this doctrinal esotericism is for one purpose, and one purpose only — not merely to satisfy the intellect of the reader, but to lay the groundwork for the development of the compassionate side of our nature in order that we may better serve our fellow men.
That is the basic value of the book: to see beyond the spacial and cosmic presentation to the wellspring of compassion flowing from the heart of cosmos, to the galaxy, the solar system, our globe earth, to man. It is all a manifestation of a compassion beyond our ken.
Mention must here be made of the tireless and painstaking efforts of every member of the editorial and printing staff: Kirby Van Mater, archivist; John P. Van Mater, who checked the manuscript prior to typesetting and prepared the Index; to Dorothy LeGros and Eloise Hart for the several typings required; to Madeline Clark, Manuel Oderberg, Ingrid Van Mater, Elsa-Brita Titchenell, Sarah B. Van Mater, and Lawrence Merkel, for the arduous task of proofreading; and not least, to the editorial committee, A. Studley Hart, the late Willy Ph. Felthuis, and Ida Postma, all of whom worked with me long and diligently to make this book a reality.
On this Centenary of Gottfried de Purucker's birth, we gratefully acknowledge our spiritual indebtedness to one who kindled anew the fires of aspiration, believing that Fountain-Source of Occultism has power to inspire every earnest seeker for ages to come.
Grace F. KnocheJanuary 15, 1974
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