What then are we to make of Blavatsky? She was not like her colonialist,
materialist, and missionary peers. As an avowed Buddhist, HPB claimed to
be in touch with the living tradition, and she saw the Buddha and the lamas
who upheld his tradition in Tibet as the pinnacle of human possibility,
and not as the 'niggers' and 'fakirs' her European peers perceived. For
this, she was an object of Christian spite and scholarly scorn.
Despite her appropriations from Western works on Buddhism (and even despite
her acknowledgement that not infrequently she personally composed letters
ascribed to Mahatmas),(61) there is enough evidence, gathered carefully
and methodically, to demonstrate that Blavatsky had access to Tibetan Buddhist
sources which no other Westerner during her time had. Her works are by no
means merely strings of plagiarisms, but rather very cogent arguments, supplemented
by masses of data, that her readers should believe Buddhist claims that
there is a perennial philosophy, in the possession of Adepts, which explains
the origins of the world and leads to salvation from it.
Thus far has the diachronic comparative method taken us. The next chapters
will study Blavatsky and Buddhism in a more thematic way, comparing and
contrasting the teachings of Theosophy to modern translations of Buddhist
works and current studies in the field of Buddhist scholarship. Chapter
Three examines the concept of the Absolute in both Blavatsky's writings
and in several schools of Mahåyåna Buddhism, while Chapter Four
compares the creation story given by Blavatsky's "Stanzas of Dzyan"
(see Appendix II) with the cosmogenesis outlined in the Kålachakra
Tantra and related systems.