[Condensed from "The Exoteric and Esoteric H. P. B.," an address given at Visingso, Sweden, in 1931 on the one hundredth anniversary of H. P. Blavatsky's birth. Cf. Wind of the Spirit, pp. 136-48.]
H. P. Blavatsky came because it was time for her to come. She was one of the links in what the ancient Greek initiates called the Living Chain of Hermes, the Golden Chain, in connection with the passing on of mystic and esoteric light and truth.
The ages pass, and each age has a new generation, and each generation receives light from the generations which preceded it, from its fathers. But generations rise and they fall, physically in civilization as well as spiritually in light, and in the intellectual, the ethical, and mental courses which men follow in producing the civilizing influences of human life. And in these generations which follow each other, there is always need for guiding minds, for a light given anew from age to age, for a new lighting, phoenix-like, of the old fires. It is these passers-on of the light who compose the Golden Chain of Hermes.
One of a serial succession of teachers, H. P. Blavatsky came in the rhythmical order of the laws which control our planet. She came indeed at the beginning of one Messianic cycle of 2,160 years and at the end of the preceding cycle of the same term. She was the messenger for her age, that is, for the age to come — the one who was to sound a new keynote, which yet, mystically speaking, is as old as the ages, and in a certain very true but little known sense, she was an avatara — an avatara of a certain type or kind, for there are different kinds of avataras. Every teacher who comes to teach comprises not only his or her body and an unusually received psychological apparatus, but is likewise at times infilled with the holy fire of a greater soul, and therefore is de facto an avatara of a kind.
Two thousand one hundred and sixty years before H. P. Blavatsky's birth the particular Messianic cycle began which, as its centuries followed one the other, plunged European countries into the darkness of the Middle Ages. Today, more or less 2,160 years afterwards, a new cycle opened when she was born, a rising cycle which should bring light, peace, knowledge, wisdom, to men.
I think that the greatest tribute that our hearts and minds can give to H.P.B. is to know her exactly as she was in truth. The best way to see her as she was is to study her, and her books which indeed are she. Then you will know the real H.P.B., for you will use the test of your intelligence and of your heart, to her by what she herself was and by what she produced, not by what someone else may say about her.
H. P. Blavatsky came to a world which was in the throes of a veritable "dance of death," a danse macabre, a time when men had lost virtually all faith in recognizing that there could be a knowledge of spiritual things, a time when even to speak of divinity, of a lasting hope, and of things spiritual, was considered to be a mark of intellectual imbecility. The very word soul was tabu.
A mighty power came into the world and worked and wrought, and the weaving of the web which she wrought has played a great part in producing the better conditions we find among us today. The world today is beginning to think in a theosophical way, and hence the macabrian dance of her times — that giddy, soulless, thoughtless, dance of death in the graveyard of human hopes — that has ceased!
There is a psychological wonder, a mystery, in H.P.B. Since she came and taught, what do we find our greatest scientific researchers and thinkers telling us today? Adumbrations of many of the doctrines that she taught. Before the scientist found the facts, she taught these facts, and she taught them in the face of ridicule and scorn and opposition from the church on the one hand and from science on the other hand, and from the established privileges and prerogatives of all kinds — social, religious, philosophical, scientific — which surrounded her.
In her there was strength, spiritual strength, for she set men's souls aflame; in her there was intellectual power, for she taught men to think and to have a new vision; and in her also there was psychological power, for she smashed the mayavi [illusory] psychological wall which man in his folly had built around his consciousness.
Now reflect upon what all this means. There is a cause and a reason for the work that she wrought. We today see the effects, we know the historical phenomenon of her life and work; but what was the noumenal cause? It was the living spiritual and intellectual fires within her. It was the esoteric side of H. P. Blavatsky which enabled her to do what she did.
You may remember that in her writings she often makes a distinction between what she calls H.P.B. and H. P. Blavatsky. H. P. Blavatsky was the woman, the chela, the aspiring, learning, splendid, noble, courageous chela. But H. P. B. was the master's mind speaking through her: body and spirit, one entity; then the intermediate psychological apparatus, commonly called the soul, temporarily removable at will. In fact, when H.P.B. was sent as the messenger, that psychological apparatus in large part remained behind. This fact accounts for the so-called contrarieties and contradictions of her character that the people who attempted to write about her saw — and saw very plainly, because they could not help seeing — but which they did not understand, and by which they often misjudged her and misunderstood her. But when the holy flame had infilled this vacancy, then there was H.P.B. the teacher, the sage, the seer, the teacher of great natural scientific truths which science today is but beginning to show to be true, the teacher of a great hope to mankind, the giver of a vision to men, the framer and former of a new philosophy-religion-science.
There were times in her social life when she was the charming hostess, a grande dame. There were other times when she was a pianist of admirable and most exceptional ability. Again at other times she charmed people with her brilliant conversational powers, and she would fascinate a whole room, hold her audience spellbound. Men of learning, the laborer, the noble, prince and peasant, gathered to hear her.
There were still other times, in her home, when things were quiet and her disciples gathered around her, when she taught some truths drawn from the Great Mysteries of the wisdom-religion of the past. There were other, times when she sat at her desk, and wrote and wrote and wrote from morning until night, and then would lie down, and, as she herself said, for a little while went "home." She then had rest!
Let us recognize H. P. Blavatsky for what she was. We who have studied H.P.B. love her, are faithful to her in heart and mind, yet we shall set our faces like flint, like stone, against any attempt to worship her. The Great Ones have told us: more than anything else do we desire a brotherhood, a brotherhood which will save mankind from the catastrophes which are facing it, brought about by its own folly. The catastrophes, the cataclysms, moral and even physical, which are even now facing us, will surely come upon us unless men and women change their habits of thought and, in consequence, their acts, their conduct.
Let us be faithful to our trust. We can love, we can venerate, we can copy the example of magnificent courage and sublime hope that she gave to us. We can try to become like unto this great woman, and unto many others like her who have appeared in the past, who will appear in the future, others far greater than she, but let us never set her on a pinnacle as was done, alas! in the case of one of the teachers in the early years of Christianity.
No greater tribute could we render to H.P.B. than by continuing faithfully the work which she so grandly began.
(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1985. Copyright © 1985 by Theosophical University Press)