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Tibetan Teachings

From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. III


Articles by HPB


They who are on the summit of a mountain can see all men; in like manner they who are intelligent and free from sorrow are enabled to ascend above the paradise of the Gods; and when they there have seen the subjection of man to birth and death and the sorrows by which he is afflicted, they open the doors of the immortal.

--From the Tched-dubrjod-pai tsoms of the BKAH-HGYUR

IN the January number of the Theosophist for 1882, we promised our readers the opinions of the Venerable Chohan-Lama--the chief of the Archive-registrars of the libraries containing manuscripts on esoteric doctrines belonging to the Ta-loï and Tashu-hlumpo Lamas Rim-boche of Tibet--on certain conclusions arrived at by the author of Buddha and Early Buddhism. Owing to the brotherly kindness of a disciple of the learned Chohan, than whom no one in Tibet is more deeply versed in the science of esoteric and exoteric Buddhism, we are now able to give a few of the doctrines which have a direct bearing on these conclusions. It is our firm belief that the learned Chohan's letters, and the notes accompanying them, could not arrive at a more opportune time. Besides the many and various misconceptions of our doctrines, we have more than once been taken severely to task by some of the most intelligent Spiritualists for misleading them as to the real attitude and belief of Hindus and Buddhists as to "spirits of the departed." Indeed, according to some Spiritualists "the Buddhist belief is permeated by the distinctive and peculiar note of modern Spiritualism, the presence and guardianship of departed spirits," and the Theosophists have been guilty of misrepresenting this belief. They have had the hardihood, for instance, to maintain 'that this "belief in the intervention of departed human spirits" was anathema maranatha in the East, whereas it is "in effect, a permeating principle of Buddhism."

What every Hindu, of whatever caste and education, thinks of the "intervention of departed spirits" is so well known throughout the length and breadth of India that it would be loss of time to repeat the oft-told tale. There are a few converts to modern Spiritualism, such as Babu Peary Chand Mittra, whose great personal purity of life would make such intercourse harmless for him, even were he not indifferent to physical phenomena, holding but to the purely spiritual, subjective side of such communion. But, if these be excepted, we boldly reassert what we have always maintained: that there is not a Hindu who does not loathe the very idea of the reappearance of a departed "spirit" whom he will ever regard as impure; and that with these exceptions no Hindu believes that, except in cases of suicide, or death by accident, any spirit but an evil one can return to earth. Therefore, leaving the Hindus out of the question, we will give the ideas of the Northern Buddhists on the subject, hoping to add those of the Southern Buddhists to them in good time. And, when we say "Buddhists," we do not include the innumerable heretical sects teeming throughout Japan and China who have lost every right to that appellation. With these we have nought to do. We think but of Buddhists of the Northern and Southern Churches--the Roman Catholics and the Protestants of Buddhism, so to say.

The subject which our learned Tibetan correspondent treats is based on a few direct questions offered by us with a humble request that they should be answered, and the following paragraphs from Buddha and Early Buddhism:

"I have dwelt somewhat at length on this supernaturalism, because it is of the highest importance to our theme. Buddhism was plainly an elaborate apparatus to nullify the action of evil spirits by the aid of good spirits operating at their highest potentiality through the instrumentality of the corpse or a portion of the corpse of the chief aiding spirit. The Buddhist temple, the Buddhist rites, the Buddhist liturgy, all seem based on this one idea that a whole or portions of a dead body was necessary. What were these assisting spirits? Every Buddhist, ancient or modern, would at once admit that a spirit that has not yet attained the Bodhi or spiritual awakenment cannot be a good spirit. It can do no good thing; more than that, it must do evil things.

"The answer of Northern Buddhism is that the good spirits are the Buddhas, the dead prophets. They come from certain 'fields of the Buddhas' " to commune with earth.

Our learned Tibetan friend writes:

"Let me say at once that monks and laymen give the most ridiculously absurd digest of the Law of Faith, the popular beliefs of Tibet. The Capuchin Della Penna's account of the brotherhood of the 'Byang-tsiub' is simply absurd. Taking from the Bkah-hgyur and other books of the Tibetan laws some literal descriptions, he then embellishes them with his own interpretation. Thus he speaks of the fabled worlds of 'spirits,' where live the 'Lha, who are like gods'; adding that the Tibetans imagine 'these places to be in the air above a great mountain, about a hundred and sixty thousand leagues high and thirty-two thousand leagues in circuit; which is made up of four parts, being of crystal to the east, of the red ruby to the west, of gold to the north, and of the green precious stone--lapis lazuli--to the south. In these abodes of bliss they--the Lha--remain as long as they please, and then pass to the paradise of other worlds.'

"This description resembles far more--if my memory of the missionary-school-going period at Lahoula does not deceive me the 'new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven' in John's vision--that city which measured 'twelve thousand furlongs,' whose walls were of 'jasper,' the buildings of 'pure gold,' the foundations of the walls 'garnished with all manner of precious stones' and 'the twelve gates were twelve pearls'--than the city of the Jang-Chhub either in the Bkah-hgyur or in the ideas of the Tibetans. In the first place, the sacred canon of the Tibetans, the Bkah-hgyur and Bstan-hgyur, comprises one thousand seven hundred and seven distinct works--one thousand and eighty-three public and six hundred and twenty-four secret volumes--the former being composed of three hundred and fifty and the latter of seventy-seven folio volumes.

"Could they even by chance have seen them, I can assure the theosophists that the contents of these volumes could never be understood by anyone who had not been given the key to their peculiar character, and to their hidden meaning.

"Every description of localities is figurative in our system; every name and word is purposely veiled; and a student, before he is given any further instruction, has to study the mode of deciphering, and then of comprehending and learning the equivalent secret term or synonym for nearly every word of our religious language. The Egyptian enchorial or hieratic system is child's play to the deciphering of our sacred puzzles. Even in those volumes to which the masses have access, every sentence has a dual meaning, one intended for the unlearned, and the other for those who have received the key to the records.

"If the efforts of such well-meaning, studious and conscientious men as the authors of Buddhist Records of the Western World, and Buddha and Early Buddhism--whose poetical hypotheses may be upset and contradicted, one by one, with the greatest ease--resulted in nought, verily then, the attempts of the predecessors and successors of the Abbés Huc, Gabet and others must prove a sorry failure; since the former have not and the latter have, an object to achieve in purposely disfiguring the unparalleled and glorious teachings of our blessed master, Shakya Thub-pa.

"In the Theosophist for October, 1881, a correspondent correctly informs the reader that Gautama the Buddha, the wise, 'insisted upon initiation being thrown open to all who were qualified.' This is true; such was the original design put for some time in practice by the great Sang-gyas, and before he had become the All-Wise. But three or four centuries after his separation from this earthly coil, when Asoka, the great supporter of our religion, had left the world, the Arhat initiates, owing to the secret but steady opposition of the Brâhmans to their system, had to drop out of the country one by one and seek safety beyond the Himalayas. Thus, though popular Buddhism did not spread in Tibet before the seventh century, the Buddhist initiates of the mysteries and esoteric system of the Aryan Twice-born, leaving their motherland, India, sought refuge with the pre-Buddhistic ascetics; those who had the Good Doctrine, even before the days of Shâkya-Muni. These ascetics had dwelt beyond the Himâlayan ranges from time immemorial. They are the direct successors of those Âryan sages who, instead of accompanying their Brâhman brothers in the pre-historical emigration from Lake Manasarovara across the Snowy Range into the hot plains of the Seven Rivers, had preferred to remain in their inaccessible and unknown fastnesses. No wonder, indeed, if the Âryan esoteric doctrine and our Arahat doctrines are found to be almost identical. Truth, like the sun over our heads, is one; but it seems as if this eternal truism must be constantly reiterated to make the dark, as much as the white, people remember it. Only that truth may be kept pure and unpolluted by human exaggerations--its very votaries betimes seeking to adapt it, to pervert and disfigure its fair face to their own selfish ends--it has to be hidden far away from the eye of the profane. Since the days of the earliest universal mysteries up to the time of our great Shâkya Tathâgata Buddha, who reduced and interpreted the system for the salvation of all, the divine Voice of the Self, known as Kwan-yin, was heard but in the sacred solitude of the preparatory mysteries.

"Our world-honoured Tsong-kha-pa closing his fifth Damngag reminds us that 'every sacred truth, which the ignorant are unable to comprehend under its true light, ought to be hidden within a triple casket concealing itself as the tortoise conceals his head within his shell; ought to show her face but to those who are desirous of obtaining the condition of Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi'--the most merciful and enlightened heart.

"There is a dual meaning, then, even in the canon thrown open to the people, and, quite recently, to Western scholars. I will now try to correct the errors--too intentional, I am sorry to say, in the case of the Jesuit writers. No doubt but that the Chinese and Tibetan Scriptures, so-called, the standard works of China and Japan, some written by our most learned scholars, many of whom--as uninitiated though sincere and pious men--commented upon what they never rightly understood, contain a mass of mythological and legendary matter more fit for nursery folklore than an exposition of the Wisdom Religion as preached by the world's Saviour. But none of these are to be found in the canon; and, though preserved in most of the Lamasery libraries, they are read and implicitly believed in only by the credulous and pious whose simplicity forbids them ever stepping across the threshold of reality. To this class belong The Buddhist Cosmos, written by the Bonze Jin-ch'an, of Pekin; The Shing-Tao-ki, or 'The Records of the Enlightenment of Tathâgata,' by Wang-Puh, in the seventh century, The Hi-shai Sûtra, or 'Book of Creation,' various volumes on heaven and hell, and so forth--poetic fictions grouped around a symbolism evolved as an after-thought.

"But the records from which our scholastic author, the monk Della Penna quotes--or I should rather say, misquotes--contain no fiction, but simply information for future generations, who may, by that time, have obtained the key to the right reading of them. The 'Lha' of whom Della Penna speaks but to deride the fable, they who 'have attained the position of saints in this world,' were simply the initiated Arhats, the adepts of many and various grades, generally known under the name of Bhanté or Brothers. In the book known as the Avatamsaka Sûtra, in the section on 'the Supreme Âtman--Self--as manifested in the character of the Arhats and Pratyeka Buddhas,' it is stated that 'Because from the beginning, all sentient creatures have confused the truth, and embraced the false; therefore has there come into existence a hidden knowledge called Alaya Vijnâna.' 'Who is in the possession of the true hidden knowledge?' 'The great teachers of the Snowy Mountain,' is the response in The Book of Law. The Snowy Mountain is the 'mountain a hundred and sixty thousand leagues high.' Let us see what this means. The last three ciphers being simply left out, we have a hundred and sixty leagues; a Tibetan league is nearly five miles; this gives us seven hundred and eighty miles from a certain holy spot, by a distinct road to the west. This becomes as clear as can be, even in Della Penna's further description, to one who has but a glimpse of the truth. 'According to their law,' says that monk, 'in the west of this world, is an eternal world, a paradise, and in it a saint called Ho-pahme, which means "Saint of Splendour and Infinite Light." This saint has many distinct "powers," who are all called "chang-chüb",' which--he adds in a footnote--means 'the spirits of those who, on account of their perfection, do not care to become saints, and train and instruct the bodies of the reborn Lamas, so that they may help the living.'

"This shows that these presumably dead 'chang-chubs' are living Bodhisatwas or Bhanté, known under various names among Tibetan people; among others, Lha or 'spirits,' as they are supposed to have an existence more in spirit than in flesh. At death they often renounce Nirvâna--the bliss of eternal rest, or oblivion of personality--to remain in their spiritualized astral selves for the good of their disciples and humanity in general.

"To some Theosophists, at least, my meaning must be clear, though some are sure to rebel against the explanation. Yet we maintain that there is no possibility of an entirely pure 'self' remaining in the terrestrial atmosphere after his liberation from the physical body, in his own personality, in which he moved upon earth. Only three exceptions are made to this rule:

"The holy motive prompting a Bodhisatwa, a Sravaka, or Rahat to help to the same bliss those who remain behind him, the living; in which case he will stop to instruct them either from within or without; or, secondly, those who, however pure, harmless and comparatively free from sin during their lives, have been so engrossed with some particular idea in connection with one of the human mâyâs as to pass away amidst that all-absorbing thought; and, thirdly, persons in whom an intense and holy love, such as that of a mother for her orphaned children, creates or generates an indomitable will fed by that boundless love to tarry with and among the living in their inner selves.

"The periods allotted for these exceptional cases vary. In the first case, owing to the knowledge acquired in his condition of Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi--the most holy and enlightened heart--the Bodhisatwa has no fixed limit. Accustomed to remain for hours and days in his astral form during life, he has power after death to create around him his own conditions, calculated to check the natural tendency of the other principles to rejoin their respective elements, and can descend or even remain on earth for centuries and millenniums. In the second case, the period will last until the all-powerful magnetic attraction of the subject of the thought--intensely concentrated at the moment of death--becomes weakened and gradually fades out. In the third, the attraction is broken either by the death or the moral unworthiness of the loved ones. It cannot in either case last more than a lifetime.

"In all other cases of apparitions or communications by whatever mode, the 'spirit' will prove a wicked 'bhuta' or 'ro-lang' at best--the soulless shell of an 'elementary.' The 'Good Doctrine' is rejected on account of the unwarranted accusation that 'adepts' only claim the privilege of immortality. No such claim was ever brought forward by any eastern adept or initiate. Very true, our Masters teach us 'that immortality is conditional,' and that the chances of an adept who has become a proficient in the Alaya Vijñana, the acme of wisdom, are tenfold greater than those of one who, being ignorant of the potentialities centered within his Self, allows them to remain dormant and undisturbed until it is too late to awake them in this life. But the adept knows no more on earth, nor are his powers greater here than will be the knowledge and powers of the average good man when the latter reaches his fifth and especially his sixth cycle or round. Our present mankind is still in the fourth of the seven great cyclic rounds. Humanity is a baby hardly out of its swaddling clothes, and the highest adept of the present age knows less than he will know as a child in the seventh round. And as mankind is an infant collectively, so is man in his present development individually. As it is hardly to be expected that a young child, however precocious, should remember his existence from the hour of his birth, day by day, with the various experiences of each, and the various clothes he was made to wear on each of them, so no 'self,' unless that of an adept having reached Samma-Sambuddha--during which an illuminate sees the long series of his past lives throughout all his previous births in other worlds--was ever able to recall the distinct and various lives he passed through But that time must come one day. Unless a man is an irretrievable sensualist, dooming himself thereby to utter annihilation after one of such sinful lives, that day will dawn when, having reached the state of absolute freedom from any sin or desire, he will see and recall to memory all his past lives as easily as a man of our age turns back and passes in review, one by one, every day of his existence."

We may add a word or two in explanation of a previous passage, referring to Kwan-yin. This divine power was finally anthropomorphized by the Chinese Buddhist ritualists into a distinct double-sexed deity with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes, and called Kwan-shai-yin Bodhisatwa, the Voice-Deity, but in reality meaning the voice of the ever-present latent divine consciousness in man; the voice of his real Self, which can be fully evoked and heard only through great moral purity. Hence Kwanyin is said to be the son of Amitabha Buddha, who generated that Saviour, the merciful Bodhisatwa, the "Voice" or the "Word" that is universally diffused, the "Sound" which is eternal. It has the same mystical meaning as the Vâch of the Brâhmans. While the Brahmans maintain the eternity of the Vedas from the eternity of "sound," the Buddhists claim by synthesis the eternity of Amitabhâ, since he was the first to prove the eternity of the Self-born, Kwan-yin. Kwan-yin is the Vâchîshvara or Voice-Deity of the Brahmans. Both proceed from the same origin as the Logos of the neo-platonic Greeks; the "manifested deity" and its "voice" being found in man's Self, his conscience; Self being the unseen Father, and the "voice of Self" the Son; each being the relative and the correlative of the other. Both Vâchîshvara and Kwan-yin had, and still have, a prominent part in the Initiation Rites and Mysteries in the Brâhmanical and Buddhist esoteric doctrines.

We may also point out that Bodhisatwas or Rahats need not be adepts; still less, Brâhmans, Buddhists, or even "Asiatics," but simply holy and pure men of any nation or faith, bent all their lives on doing good to humanity.


"The forms under which any living being may be reborn, are six-fold. The highest class are the Lha, 'spirits, highest beings, gods'; they rank next to the Buddhas, and inhabit the six celestial regions. Two of these regions belong to the earth; but the four others, which are considered as superior mansions, lie in the atmosphere, far beyond the earth."

"As a consequence of premature decease, the 'Bardo' is prolongated. This is the middle state between the death and the new rebirth, which does not follow immediately, but there exists an interval which is shorter for the good than for the bad."--(EMIL SCHLAGINTWEIT, Buddhism in Tibet.)

The notes that follow are compiled. or rather translated, as closely as the idiomatic difficulties would permit, from Tibetan letters and manuscripts, sent in answer to several questions regarding the western misconceptions of Northern Buddhism or Lamaism. The information comes from a Gelung of the Inner Temple--a disciple of Bas-pa Dharma, the Secret Doctrine.

"Brothers residing in Gya-P-heling--British India--having respectfully called my master's attention to certain incorrect and misleading statements about the Good Doctrine of our blessed Phag-pa Sang-gyas--most Holy Buddha--as alleged to be carried on in Bhod-Yul, the land of Tibet, I am commanded by the revered Ngag-pa to answer them. I will do so, as far as our rules will permit me to discuss so sacred a subject openly. I can do no more, since, till the day when our Pban-chhen-rin-po-chhe shall be reborn in the lands of the P-helings--foreigners--and, appearing as the great Chom-dën-da, the conqueror, shall destroy with his mighty hand the errors and ignorance of ages, it will be of little, if of any use to try to uproot these misconceptions."

A prophecy of Tsong-ka-pa is current in Tibet to the effect that the true doctrine will be maintained in its purity only so long as Tibet is kept free from the incursions of western nations, whose crude ideas of fundamental truth would inevitably confuse and obscure the followers of the Good Law. But, when the western world is more ripe in the direction of philosophy, the incarnation of Pban-chhen-rin-po-chhe--the Great Jewel of Wisdom--one of the Teshu Lamas, will take place, and the splendour of truth will then illuminate the whole world. We have here the true key to Tibetan exclusiveness.

Our correspondent continues:

"Out of the many erroneous views presented to the consideration of our master, I have his permission to treat the following: first, the error generally current among the Ro-lang-pa--spiritualists--that those who follow the Good Doctrine have intercourse with, and reverence for, Ro-lang-ghosts--or the apparitions of dead men; and, secondly, that the Bhanté--Brothers--or 'Lha,' popularly so-called--are either disembodied spirits or gods."

The first error is found in Buddha and Early Buddhism, since this work has given rise to the incorrect notion that spiritualism was at the very root of Buddhism. The second error is found in the Succinct Abstract of the Great Chaos of Tibetan Laws by the Capuchin monk Della Penna and the accounts given by his companions, whose absurd calumnies of Tibetan religion and laws written during the past century have been lately reprinted in Mr. Markham's Tibet.

"I will begin with the former error," writes our correspondent. "Neither the Southern nor Northern Buddhists, whether of Ceylon, Tibet, Japan or China, accept western ideas as to the capabilities and qualifications of the 'naked souls.'

"For we deprecate unqualifiedly and absolutely all ignorant intercourse with the Ro-lang. For what are they who return? What kind of creatures are they who can communicate at will objectively or by physical manifestation? They are impure, grossly sinful souls, 'a-tsa-ras'; suicides; and such as have come to premature deaths by accident and must linger in the earth's atmosphere until the full; expiration of their natural term of life.

"No right-minded person, whether Lama or Chhipa--non-Buddhist--will venture to defend the practice of necromancy, which, by a natural instinct has been condemned in all the great Dharmas--laws or religions--and intercourse with, and using the powers of these earth-bound souls is simply necromancy.

"Now the beings included in the second and third classes--suicides and victims of accident--have not completed their natural term of life; and, as a consequence, though not of necessity mischievous, are earth-bound. The prematurely expelled soul is in an unnatural state; the original impulse under which the being was evolved and cast into the earth-life has not expended itself--the necessary cycle has not been completed, but must nevertheless be fulfilled.

"Yet, though earth-bound, these unfortunate beings, victims whether voluntary or involuntary, are only suspended, as it were, in the earth's magnetic attraction. They are not, like the first class, attracted to the living from a savage thirst to feed on their vitality. Their only impulse--and a blind one, since they are generally in a dazed or stunned condition--is, to get into the whirl of rebirth as soon as possible. Their state is that we call a false Bar-do--the period between two incarnations. According to the karma of the being--which is affected by his age and merits in the last birth--this interval will be longer or shorter.

"Nothing but some overpoweringly intense attraction, such as a holy love for some dear one in great peril, can draw them with their consent to the living; but by the mesmeric power of a Ba-po, a necromancer--the word is used advisedly, since the necromantic spell is Dzu-tul, or what you term a mesmeric attraction--can force them into our presence. This evocation, however, is totally condemned by those who hold to the Good Doctrine; for the soul thus evoked is made to suffer exceedingly, even though it is not itself but only its image that has been torn or stripped from itself to become the apparition; owing to its premature separation by violence from the body, the 'jang-khog'--animal soul--is yet heavily loaded with material particles--there has not been a natural disintegration of the coarser from the finer molecules--and the necromancer, in compelling this separation artificially, makes it, we might almost say, to suffer as one of us might if he were flayed alive.

"Thus, to evoke the first class--the grossly sinful souls--is dangerous for the living; to compel the apparition of the second and third classes is cruel beyond expression to the dead.

"In the case of one who died a natural death totally different conditions exist; the soul is almost, and in the case of great purity, entirely beyond the necromancer's reach; hence beyond that of a circle of evokers, or spiritualists, who, unconsciously to themselves, practise a veritable necromancer's Sang-nyag, or magnetic incantation. According to the karma of the previous birth the interval of latency--generally passed in a state of stupor--will last from a few minutes to an average of a few weeks, perhaps months. During that time the 'jang-khog'--animal soul--prepares in solemn repose for its translation, whether into a higher sphere--if it has reached its seventh human local evolution--or for a higher rebirth, if it has not yet run the last local round.

"At all events it has neither will nor power at that time to give any thought to the living. But after its period of latency is over, and the new self enters in full consciousness the blessed region of Devachan--when all earthly mists have been dispersed, and the scenes and relations of the past life come clearly before its spiritual sight--then it may, and does occasionally, when espying all it loved, and that loved it upon earth, draw up to it for communion and by the sole attraction of love, the spirits of the living, who, when returned to their normal condition, imagine that it has descended to them.

"Therefore we differ radically from the western Ro-lang-pa-- spiritualists--as to what they see or communicate with in their circles and through their unconscious necromancy. We say it is but the physical dregs, or spiritless remains of the late being; that which has been exuded, cast off and left behind when its finer particles passed onward into the great Beyond.

"In it linger some fragments of memory and intellect. It certainly was once a part of the being, and so possesses that modicum of interest; but it is not the being in reality and truth. Formed of matter, however etherealized, it must sooner or later be drawn away into vortices where the conditions for its atomic disintegration exist.

"From the dead body the other principles ooze out together. A few hours later the second principle--that of life--is totally extinct, and separates from both the human and ethereal envelopes. The third--the vital double--finally dissipates when the last particles of the body disintegrate. There now remain the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh principles: the body of will; the human soul; the spiritual soul, and pure spirit, which is a facet of the Eternal. The last two, joined to, or separated from, the personal self, form the everlasting individuality and cannot perish. The remainder proceeds to the state of gestation--the astral self and whatever survived in it of the will, previous to the dissolution of the physical body.

"Hence for any conscious action in this state are required the qualifications of an adept, or an intense, undying, ardent and holy love for someone whom the deceased leaves behind him on earth; as otherwise the astral ego either becomes a 'bhûta'--'ro-lang' in Tibetan--or proceeds to its further transmigrations in higher spheres.

"In the former case the Lha, or 'man-spirit,' can sojourn among the living for an indefinite time, at his own pleasure; in the latter the so-called 'spirit' will tarry and delay his final translation but for a short period; the body of desire being held compact, in proportion to the intensity of the love felt by the soul and its unwillingness to part with the loved ones.

"At the first relaxation of the will it will disperse, and the spiritual self, temporarily losing its personality and all remembrance of it, ascends to higher regions. Such is the teaching. None can overshadow mortals but the elect, the 'Accomplished,' the 'Byang-tsiub,' or the 'Bodhisatwas' alone--they who have penetrated the great secret of life and death--as they are able to prolong, at will their stay on earth after 'dying.' Rendered into the vulgar phraseology, such overshadowing is to 'be born again and again' for the benefit of mankind."

If the spiritualists, instead of conferring the power of "controlling" and "guiding" living persons upon every wraith calling itself "John" or "Peter," limited the faculty of moving and inspiring a few chosen pure men and women only to such Bodhisatwas or holy initiates--whether born as Buddhists or Christians, Brahmans or Mussulmans on earth--and, in very exceptional cases, to holy and saintly characters, who have a motive, a truly beneficial mission to accomplish after their departure, then would they be nearer to the truth than they are now.

To ascribe the sacred privilege, as they do, to every "elementary" and "elemental" masquerading in borrowed plumes and putting in an appearance for no better reason than to say: "How d'ye do, Mr. Snooks?" and to drink tea and eat toast, is a sacrilege and a sad sight to him who has any intuitional feeling about the awful sacredness of the mystery of physical translation, let alone the teaching of the adepts.

"Further on Della Penna writes:

"'These chang-chüb--the disciples of the chief saint--have not yet become saints, but they possess in the highest degree five virtues--charity, both temporal and spiritual, perfect observance of law, great patience, great diligence in working to perfection, and the most sublime contemplation.'"

We would like to know how they could have all these qualities, especially the latter--trance--were they physically dead!

"These chang-chüb have finished their course and are exempt from further transmigrations; passing from the body of one Lama to that of another; but the Lama {meaning the Dalai-Lama} is always endowed with the soul of the same chang-chüb, although he may be in other bodies for the benefit of the living to teach them the Law, which is the object of their not wishing to become saints, because then they would not be able to instruct them. Being moved by compassion and pity they wish to remain chang-chüb to instruct the living in the Law, so as to make them finish quickly the laborious course of their transmigrations. Moreover, if these chang-chüb wish, they are at liberty to transmigrate into this or other worlds, and at the same time they transmigrate into other places with the same object.

"This rather confused description yields from its inner sense two facts: first, that the Buddhist Tibetans--we speak of the educated classes--do not believe in the return of the departed spirits, since, unless a soul becomes so purified upon earth as to create for itself a state of Bodhisat-hood--the highest degree of perfection next to Buddha--even saints in the ordinary acceptation of the term would not be able to instruct or control the living after their death; and, secondly, that, rejecting as they do the theories of creation, God, soul--in its Christian and spiritualistic sense--and a future life for the personality of the deceased, they yet credit man with such a potentiality of will, that it depends on him to become a Bodhisatwa and acquire the power to regulate his future existences, whether in a physical or in a semi-material shape.

"Lamaists believe in the indestructibility of matter, as an element. They reject the immortality, and even the survival of the personal self, teaching that the individual self alone--i.e., the collective aggregation of the many personal selves that were represented by that One during the long series of various existences--may survive. The latter may even become eternal--the word eternity with them embracing but the period of a great cycle--eternal in its integral individuality, but this may be done only by becoming a Dhyan-Chohan, a 'celestial Buddha,' or what a Christian Kabbalist might call a 'planetary spirit' or one of the Elohim; a part of the 'conscious whole,' composed of the aggregate intelligences in their universal collectivity, while Nirvâna is the 'unconscious whole.' He who becomes a Tong-pa-nyi--he who has attained the state of absolute freedom from any desire of living personally, the highest condition of a saint--exists in non-existence and can benefit mortals no more. He is in 'Nipang' for he has reached the end of 'Thar-lam,' the path to deliverance, or salvation from transmigrations. He cannot perform Tul-pa--voluntary incarnation, whether temporary or life-long--in the body of a living human being; for he is a 'Dang-ma,' an absolutely purified soul. Henceforth he is free from the danger of 'Dal-jor,' human rebirth; for the seven forms of existence--only six are given out to the uninitiated--subject to transmigration have been safely crossed by him. 'He gazes with indifference in every sphere of upward transmigration on the whole period of time which covers the shorter periods of personal existence,' says the Book of Khiu-ti.

"But, as 'there is more courage to accept being than non-being, life than death,' there are those among the Bodhisatwas and the Lha--'and as rare as the flower of udambara are they to meet with'--who voluntarily relinquish the blessing of the attainment of perfect freedom, and remain in their personal selves, whether in forms visible or invisible to mortal sight--to teach and help their weaker brothers.

"Some of them prolong their life on earth--though not to any supernatural limit; others become 'Dhyan-Chohans,' a class of the planetary spirits or 'devas' who, becoming, so to say, the guardian angels of men, are the only class out of the seven-classed hierarchy of spirits in our system who preserve their personality. These holy Lha, instead of reaping the fruit of their deeds, sacrifice themselves in the invisible world as the lord Sang-gyas--Buddha --did on this earth, and remain in Devachan--the world of bliss nearest to the earth."


Lucifer, September, October, 1894


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles,Vol. I


Articles by HPB

The tidal wave of deeper souls,
Into our inmost being rolls,
And lifts us unawares,
Out of all meaner cares.

THE great psychic and spiritual change now taking place in the realm of the human Soul, is quite remarkable. It began towards the very commencement of the now slowly vanishing last quarter of our century, and will end--so says a mystic prophecy--either for the weal or the woe of civilized humanity with the present cycle which will close in 1897. But the great change is not effected in solemn silence, nor is it perceived only by the few. On the contrary, it asserts itself amid a loud din of busy, boisterous tongues, a clash of public opinion, in comparison to which the incessant, ever increasing roar even of the noisiest political agitation seems like the rustling of the young forest foliage, on a warm spring day. Verily the Spirit in man, so long hidden out of public sight, so carefully concealed and so far exiled from the arena of modern learning, has at last awakened. It now asserts itself and is loudly re-demanding its unrecognized yet ever legitimate rights. It refuses to be any longer trampled under the brutal foot of Materialism, speculated upon by the Churches, and made a fathomless source of income by those who have self-constituted themselves its universal custodians. The former would deny the Divine Presence any right to existence; the latter would accentuate and prove it through their Sidesmen and Church Wardens armed with money-bags and collection-boxes. But the Spirit in man--the direct, though now but broken ray and emanation of the Universal Spirit--has at last awakened. Hitherto, while so often reviled, persecuted and abased through ignorance, ambition and greed; while so frequently turned by insane Pride "into a blind wanderer, like unto a buffoon mocked by a host of buffoons," in the realm of Delusion, it remained unheard and unheeded. Today, the Spirit in man has returned like King Lear, from seeming insanity to its senses; and, raising its voice, it now speaks in those authoritative tones to which the men of old have listened in reverential silence through incalculable ages, until deafened by the din and roar of civilization and culture, they could hear it no longer. . . .

Look around you and behold! Think of what you see and hear, and draw therefrom your conclusions. The age of crass materialism, of Soul insanity and blindness, is swiftly passing away. A death struggle between Mysticism and Materialism is no longer at hand, but is already raging. And the party which will win the day at this supreme hour will become the master of the situation and of the future; i.e., it will become the autocrat and sole disposer of the millions of men already born and to be born, up to the latter end of the XXth century. If the signs of the times can be trusted it is not the Animalists who will remain conquerors. This is warranted us by the many brave and prolific authors and writers who have arisen of late to defend the rights of Spirit to reign over matter. Many are the honest, aspiring Souls now raising themselves like a dead wall against the torrent of the muddy waters of Materialism. And facing the hitherto domineering flood which is still steadily carrying off into unknown abysses the fragments from the wreck of the dethroned, cast down Human Spirit, they now command: "So far hast thou come; but thou shalt go no further!"

Amid all this external discord and disorganisation of social harmony; amid confusion and the weak and cowardly hesitations of the masses, tied down to the narrow frames of routine, propriety and cant; amid that late dead calm of public thought that had exiled from literature every reference to Soul and Spirit and their divine working during the whole of the middle period of our century--we hear a sound arising. Like a clear, definite, far-reaching note of promise, the voice of the great human Soul proclaims, in no longer timid tones, the rise and almost the resurrection of the human Spirit in the masses. It is now awakening in the foremost representatives of thought and learning; it speaks in the lowest as in the highest, and stimulates them all to action. The renovated, life-giving Spirit in man is boldly freeing itself from the dark fetters of the hitherto all-capturing animal life and matter. Behold it, saith the poet, as, ascending on its broad, white wings, it soars into the regions of real life and light; whence, calm and godlike, it contemplates with unfeigned pity those golden idols of the modern material cult with their feet of clay, which have hitherto screened from the purblind masses their true and living gods. . . .

Literature--once wrote a critic--is the confession of social life, reflecting all its sins, and all its acts of baseness as of heroism. In this sense a book is of a far greater importance than any man. Books do not represent one man, but they are the mirror of a host of men. Hence the great English poet-philosopher said of books, that he knew that they were as hard to kill and as prolific as the teeth of the fabulous dragon; sow them hither and thither and armed warriors will grow out of them. To kill a good book, is equal to killing a man.

The "poet-philosopher" is right.

A new era has begun in literature, this is certain. New thoughts and new interests have created new intellectual needs; hence a new race of authors is springing up. And this new species will gradually and imperceptibly shut out the old one, those fogies of yore who, though they still reign nominally, are allowed to do so rather by force of habit than predilection. It is not he who repeats obstinately and parrot-like the old literary formulae and holds desperately to publishers' traditions, who will find himself answering to the new needs; not the man who prefers his narrow party discipline to the search for the long-exiled Spirit of man and the now lost TRUTHS; not these, but verily he who, parting company with his beloved "authority," lifts boldly and carries on unflinchingly the standard of the Future Man. It is finally those who, amidst the present wholesale dominion of the worship of matter, material interests and SELFISHNESS, will have bravely fought for human rights and man's divine nature, who will become, if they only win, the teachers of the masses in the coming century, and so their benefactors.

But woe to the XXth century if the now reigning school of thought prevails, for Spirit would once more be made captive and silenced till the end of the now coming age. It is not the fanatics of the dead letter in general, nor the iconoclasts and Vandals who fight the new Spirit of thought, nor yet the modern Roundheads, supporters of the old Puritan religious and social traditions, who will ever become the protectors and Saviours of the now resurrecting human thought and Spirit. It is not these too willing supporters of the old cult, and the mediaeval heresies of those who guard like a relic every error of their sect or party, who jealously watch over their own thought lest it should, growing out of its teens, assimilate some fresher and more beneficent idea--not these who are the wise men of the future. It is not for them that the hour of the new historical era will have struck, but for those who will have learnt to express and put into practice the aspirations as well as the physical needs of the rising generations and of the now trampled-down masses. In order that one should fully comprehend individual life with its physiological, psychic and spiritual mysteries, he has to devote himself with all the fervour of unselfish philanthropy and love for his brother men, to studying and knowing collective life, or Mankind. Without preconceptions or prejudice, as also without the least fear of possible results in one or another direction, he has to decipher, understand and remember the deep and innermost feelings and the aspirations of the poor people's great and suffering heart. To do this he has first "to attune his soul with that of Humanity," as the old philosophy teaches; to thoroughly master the correct meaning of every line and word in the rapidly turning pages of the Book of Life of MANKIND and to be thoroughly saturated with the truism that the latter is a whole inseparable from his own SELF.

How many of such profound readers of life may be found in our boasted age of sciences and culture? Of course we do not mean authors alone, but rather the practical and still unrecognized, though well known, philanthropists and altruists of our age; the people's friends, the unselfish lovers of man, and the defenders of human right to the freedom of Spirit. Few indeed are such; for they are the rare blossoms of the age, and generally the martyrs to prejudiced mobs and time-servers. Like those wonderful "Snow flowers" of Northern Siberia, which, in order to shoot forth from the cold frozen soil, have to pierce through a thick layer of hard, icy snow, so these rare characters have to fight their battles all their life with cold indifference and human harshness, and with the selfish ever-mocking world of wealth. Yet, it is only they who can carry out the task of perseverance. To them alone is given the mission of turning the "Upper Ten" of social circles from the broad and easy highway of wealth, vanity and empty pleasures into the arduous and thorny path of higher moral problems, and the perception of loftier moral duties than they are now pursuing. It is also those who, already themselves awakened to a higher Soul activity, are being endowed at the same time with literary talent, whose duty it is to undertake the part of awakening the sleeping Beauty and the Beast, in their enchanted Castle of Frivolity, to real life and light. Let all those who can, proceed fearlessly with this idea uppermost in their mind, and they will succeed. It is the rich who have to be regenerated, if we would do good to the poor; for it is in the former that lies the root of evil of which the "disinherited" classes are but the too luxuriant growth. This may seem at first sight paradoxical, yet it is true, as may be shown.

In the face of the present degradation of every ideal, as also of the noblest aspirations of the human heart, becoming each day more prominent in the higher classes, what can be expected from the "great unwashed"? It is the head that has to guide the feet, and the latter are to be hardly held responsible for their actions. Work, therefore, to bring about the moral regeneration of the cultured but far more immoral classes before you attempt to do the same for our ignorant younger Brethren. The latter was undertaken years ago, and is carried on to this day, yet with no perceptible good results. Is it not evident that the reason for this lies in the fact that [except] for a few earnest, sincere and all-sacrificing workers in that field, the great majority of the volunteers consists of those same frivolous, ultra-selfish classes, who "play at charity" and whose ideas of the amelioration of the physical and moral status of the poor are confined to the hobby that money and the Bible alone can do it. We say that neither of these can accomplish any good; for dead-letter preaching and forced Bible-reading develop irritation and later atheism, and money as a temporary help finds its way into the tills of the public-houses rather than serves to buy bread with. The root of evil lies, therefore, in a moral not in a physical cause.

If asked, what is it then that will help, we answer boldly:--Theosophical literature; hastening to add that under this term, neither books concerning adepts and phenomena, nor the Theosophical Society publications are meant.

Take advantage of, and profit by, the "tidal wave" which is now happily overpowering half of Humanity. Speak to the awakening Spirit of Humanity, to the human Spirit and the Spirit in man, these three in One and the One in All. Dickens and Thackeray both born a century too late--or a century too early--came between two tidal waves of human spiritual thought, and though they have done yeoman service individually and induced certain partial reforms, yet they failed to touch Society and the masses at large. What the European world now needs is a dozen writers such as Dostoevsky, the Russian author, whose works, though terra incognita for most, are still well known on the Continent, as also in England and America among the cultured classes. And what the Russian novelist has done is this:--he spoke boldly and fearlessly the most unwelcome truths to the higher and even to the of official classes--the latter a far more dangerous proceeding than the former. And yet, behold, most of the administrative reforms during the last twenty years are due to the silent and unwelcome influence of his pen. As one of his critics remarks, the great truths uttered by him were felt by all classes so vividly and so strongly that people whose views were most diametrically opposed to his own could not but feel the warmest sympathy for this bold writer and even expressed it to him.

In the eyes of all, friends or foes, he became the mouthpiece of the irrepressible no longer to be delayed need felt by Society, to look with absolute sincerity into the innermost depths of its own soul, to become the impartial judge of its own actions and its own aspirations.

Every new current of thought, every new tendency of the age had and ever will have, its rivals, as its enemies, some counteracting it boldly but unsuccessfully, others with great ability. But such, are always made of the same paste, so to say, common to all. They are goaded to resistance and objections by the same external, selfish and worldly objects, the same material ends and calculations as those that guided their opponents. While pointing out other problems and advocating other methods, in truth, they cease not for one moment to live with their foes in a world of the same and common interests, as also to continue in the same fundamental identical views on life.

That which then became necessary was a man, who, standing outside of any partizanship or struggle for supremacy, would bring his past life as a guarantee of the sincerity and honesty of his views and purposes; one whose personal suffering would be an imprimatur to the firmness of his convictions, a writer finally, of undeniable literary genius:--for such a man alone, could pronounce words capable of awakening the true spirit in a Society which had drifted away in a wrong direction.

Just such a man was Dostoevsky--the patriot-convict, the galley-slave, returned from Siberia; that writer, far-famed in Europe and Russia, the pauper buried by voluntary subscription, the soul-stirring bard, of everything poor, insulted, injured, humiliated; he who unveiled with such merciless cruelty the plagues and sores of his age. . . .

It is writers of this kind that are needed in our day of reawakening; not authors writing for wealth or fame, but fearless apostles of the living Word of Truth; moral healers of the pustulous sores of our century. France has her Zola who points out, brutally enough, yet still true to life--the degradation and moral leprosy of his people. But Zola, while castigating the vices of the lower classes, has never dared to lash higher with his pen than the petite bourgeoisie, the immorality of the higher classes being ignored by him. Result: the peasants who do not read novels have not been in the least affected by his writings, and the bourgeoisie caring little for the plebs, took such notice of Pot bouille as to make the French realist lose all desire of burning his fingers again at their family pots. From the first then, Zola has pursued a path which though bringing him to fame and fortune has led him nowhere in so far as salutary effects are concerned.

Whether Theosophists, in the present or future, will ever work out a practical application of the suggestion is doubtful. To write novels with a moral sense in them deep enough to stir Society, requires a great literary talent and a born theosophist as was Dostoevsky--Zola standing outside of any comparison with him. But such talents are rare in all countries. Yet, even in the absence of such great gifts one may do good in a smaller and humbler way by taking note and exposing in impersonal narratives the crying vices and evils of the day, by word and deed, by publications and practical example. Let the force of that example impress others to follow it; and then instead of deriding our doctrines and aspirations the men of the XXth, if not the XIXth century will see clearer, and judge with knowledge and according to facts instead of prejudging agreeably to rooted misconceptions. Then and not till then will the world find itself forced to acknowledge that it was wrong, and that Theosophy alone can gradually create a mankind as harmonious and as simple-souled as Kosmos itself; but to effect this theosophists have to act as such. Having helped to awaken the spirit in many a man--we say this boldly, challenging contradiction-- shall we now stop instead of swimming with the TIDAL WAVE?

H. P. Blavatsky

Lucifer, November, 1889



From A Modern Panarion.


Articles by HPB

FOR my answer to the sneer of your correspondent "H. M." about my opinion of the Todas a few lines sufficed. I only cared to say that what I have written in Isis Unveiled was written after reading Col. Marshall's A Phrenologist among the Todas, and in consequence of what, whether justly or not, I believe to be the erroneous statements of that author. Writing about Oriental psychology, its phenomena and practitioners, as I did, I should have been ludicrously wanting in common sense if I had not anticipated such denials and contradictions as those of "H. M." from every side. How would it profit the seeker after this Occult knowledge to face danger, privations, and obstacles of every kind to gain it, if, after attaining his end, he should not have facts to relate of which the profane were ignorant? A pretty set of critics are the ordinary travellers or observers, even though what Dr. Carpenter euphemistically calls a "scientific officer," or "distinguished civilian," when, confessedly, every European unfurnished with some mystical passport is debarred from entering any orthodox Brâhman's house or the inner precincts of a pagoda. How we poor Theosophists should tremble before the scorn of those modern Daniels when the cleverest of them has never been able to explain the commonest "tricks" of Hindû jugglers, to say nothing of the phenomena of the Fakirs! These very savants answer the testimony of Spiritualists with an equally lofty scorn, and resent as a personal affront the invitation to even attend a séance.

I should therefore have let the "Todas" question pass, but for the letter of "Late Madras C. S." in your paper of the 15th. I feel bound to answer it, for the writer plainly makes me out to be a liar. He threatens me, moreover, with the thunderbolts that a certain other officer has concealed in his library closet.

It is quite remarkable how a man who resorts to an alias sometimes forgets that he is a gentleman. Perhaps such is the custom in your civilized England, where manners and education are said to be carried to a superlative elegance; but not so in poor, barbarous Russia, which a good portion of your countrymen are just now trying to strangle (if they can). In my country of Tartaric Cossacks and Kalmucks, a man who sets out to insult another does not usually hide himself behind a shield. I am sorry to have to say this much, but you have allowed me, without the least provocation and upon several occasions, to be unstintedly reviled by correspondents, and I am sure that you are too much of a man of honour to refuse me the benefit of an answer. "Late Madras, C. S." sides with Mrs. Showers in the insinuation that I never was in India at all. This reminds me of a calumny of last year, originating with "spirits" speaking through a celebrated medium at Boston, and finding credit in many quarters.

It was, that I was not a Russian, did not even speak that language, but was merely a French adventuress. So much for the infallibility of some of the sweet "angels." Surely, I will neither go to the trouble of exhibiting to any of my masked detractors, of this or the other world, my passports visés by the Russian embassies half a dozen times on my way to India and back. Nor will I demean myself by showing the stamped envelopes of letters received by me in different parts of India.

Such an accusation makes me simply laugh, for my word is, surely, as good as that of anybody else. I will only say that more's the pity that an English officer, who was "fifteen years in the district," knows less of the Todas than I, who, he pretends, never was in India at all. He calls Gopuram a "tower" of the pagoda. Why not the roof or anything else as well? Gopuram is the sacred pylon, the pyramidal gateway by which the pagoda is entered; and yet I have repeatedly heard the people of southern India call the pagoda itself a Gopuram. It may be a careless mode of expression employed among the vulgar; but when we come to consult the authority of the best Indian lexicographers we find it accepted. In John Shakespear's Hindûstânî-English Dictionary (edition of 1849, p. 1727) the word Gopuram is rendered as "an idol temple of the Hindûs." Has "Late Madras C. S." or any of his friends, ever climbed up into the interior, so as to know who or what is concealed there? If not, then perhaps his fling at me was a trifle premature. I am sorry to have shocked the sensitiveness of such a philological purist, but really I do not see why, when speaking of the temples of the Todas—whether they exist or not—even a Brâhman Guru might not say that they had their Gopurams? Perhaps he, or some other brilliant authority in Sanskrit and other Indian languages, will favour us with the etymology of the word? Does the first syllable, go or gu, relate to the roundness of these " towers" as my critic calls them (for the word go does mean something round) or to gop, a cowherd, which gave its name to a Hindû caste and was one of the names of Krishna, Go-pâl, meaning the cowherd? Let these critics carefully read Col. Marshall's work and see whether the pastoral tribe, whom he saw so much, and discovered so little about, whose worship (exoteric, of course) is all embraced in the care of the sacred cows and buffaloes, the distribution of the "divine fluid"—milk, and whose seeming adoration, as the missionaries tell us, is so great for their buffaloes that they call them the "gift of God," could not be said to have their Gopurams, though the latter were but a cattle-pen, a tirieri, the maund, in short, into which the phrenological explorer crawled alone by night with infinite pains and—neither saw nor found anything. And because he found nothing he concludes they have no religion, no idea of God, no worship. About as reasonable an inference as Dr. W. B. Carpenter might come to if he had crawled into Mrs. Showers' séance-room some night when all the "angels" and their guests had fled, and straightway reported that among Spiritualists there are neither mediums nor phenomena.

Col. Marshall I find far less dogmatic than his admirers. Such cautious phrases as "I believe," "I could not ascertain," "I believe it to be true," and the like, show his desire to find out the truth, but scarcely prove conclusively that he has found it. At best it only comes to this, that Col. Marshall believes one thing to be true, and I look upon it differently. He credits his friend the missionary, and I believe my friend the Brâhman, who told me what I have written. Besides, I explicitly state in my book (see Isis, vol. ii. pp. 614, 6I5):

As soon as their [the Todas'] solitude was profaned by the avalanche of civilization . . . the Todas began moving away to other parts as unknown and more inaccessible than the Neilgherri hills had formerly been.

The Todas, therefore, of whom my Brâhman friend spoke, and whom Capt. W. L. D. O'Grady, late manager of the Madras Branch Bank at Ootacamund, tells me he has seen specimens of, are not the degenerate remnants of the tribe whose phrenological bumps were measured by Col. Marshall. And yet, even what the latter writes of these, I from personal knowledge affirm to be in many particulars inaccurate. I may be regarded by my critics as over-credulous, but this is surely no reason why I should be treated as a liar whether by late or living Madras authorities of the C. S. Neither Capt. O'Grady, who was born at Madras and was for a time stationed on the Neilgherry hills, nor I, recognized the individuals photographed in Col. Marshall's book as Todas. Those we saw wore their dark brown hair very long, and were much fairer than the Badagas, or any other Hindûs, in neither of which particulars do they resemble Col. Marshall's types. "H. M." says:

The Todas are brown, coffee-coloured, like most other natives.

But turning to Appleton's Cyclopædia (vol. xii. p. 173), we read:

These people are of a light complexion, have strongly-marked Jewish features and have been supposed by many to be one of the lost tribes.

"H. M." assures us that the places inhabited by the Todas are not infested by venomous serpents or tigers; but the same Cyclopædia remarks that:

The mountains are swarming with wild animals of all descriptions, among which elephants and tigers are numerous.

But the " Late" (defunct?—is your correspondent a disembodied angel?) "Madras C. S." attains to the sublimity of the ridiculous when, with biting irony in winding up, he says:

All good spirits, of whatever degree, astral or elementary, . . . prevent his [Capt. R. F. Burton's] ever meeting with Isis—rough might be the unveiling!

Surely unless that military Nemesis should tax the hospitality of some American newspaper, conducted by politicians, he could never be rougher than this Madras Grandison. And then, the idea of suggesting that, after having contradicted and made sport of the greatest authorities of Europe and America, to begin with Max Müller and end with the Positivists, in both my volumes, I should be appalled by Captain Burton, or the whole lot of captains in Her Majesty's service—though each carried an Armstrong gun on his shoulder and a mitrailleuse in his pocket—is positively superb! Let them reserve their threats and terrors for my Christian countrymen.

Any moderately equipped sciolist (and the more empty-headed, the easier) might tear Isis to shreds, in the estimation of the vulgar, with his sophisms and presumably authoritative analysis; but would that prove him to be right, and me wrong? Let all the records of medial phenomena, rejected, falsified, slandered and ridiculed, and of mediums terrorized, for thirty years past, answer for me. I, at least, am not of the kind to be bullied into silence by such tactics, as "Late Madras" may in time discover; nor will he ever find me skulking behind a nom de plume when I have insults to offer. I always have had, as I now have, and trust ever to retain, the courage of my opinions, however unpopular or erroneous they may be considered; and there are not showers enough in Great Britain to quench the ardour with which I stand by my convictions.

There is but one way to account for the tempest which, for four months, has raged in The Spiritualist against Col. Olcott and myself, and that is expressed in the familiar French proverb—"Quand on veut tuer son chien, on dit qu'il est enragé." [Translation: "When one wishes to kill his dog, one says the dog is enraged." ]


New York, March 18th, 1878

From The London Spiritualist 

New York, March 24th, 1878.


From Theosophical Articles, Vol I


Articles by HPB

OUR magazine is only four numbers old, and already its young life is full of cares and trouble. This is all as it should be; i.e., like every other publication, it must fail to satisfy all its readers, and this is only in the nature of things and the destiny of every printed organ. But what seems a little strange in a country of culture and free thought is that Lucifer should receive such a number of anonymous, spiteful, and often abusive letters. This, of course, is but a casual remark, the waste-basket in the office being the only addressee and sufferer in this case; yet it suggests strange truths with regard to human nature.1[Footnote 1: "Verbum Sap," It is ot our intention to notice anonymous communications, even though they should emanate in a round-about way from Lambeth Palace. The matter "Verbum Sap" refers to is not one of taste; the facts must be held responsible for the offence; and as the Scripture hath it, "Woe to them by whom the offence cometh!"]

Sincerity is true wisdom, it appears, only to the mind of the moral philosopher. It is rudeness and insult to him who regards dissimulation and deceit as culture and politeness, and holds that the shortest, easiest, and safest way to success is to let sleeping dogs and old customs alone. But, if the dogs are obstructing the highway to progress and truth, and Society will, as a rule, reject the wise words of (St.) Augustine, who recommends that "no man should prefer custom before reason and truth," is it a sufficient cause for the philanthropist to walk out of, or even deviate from, the track of truth, because the selfish egoist chooses to do so? Very true, as remarked somewhere by Sir Thomas Browne, that not every man is a proper champion for the truth, nor fit to take up the gauntlet in its cause. Too many of such defenders are apt, from inconsideration and too much zeal, to charge the troops of error so rashly that they "remain themselves as trophies to the enemies of truth." Nor ought all of us (members of the Theosophical Society) to do so personally, but rather leave it only to those among our members who have voluntarily and beforehand sacrificed their personalities for the cause of Truth. Thus teaches us one of the Masters of Wisdom in some fragments of advice which are published further on for the benefit of the Theosophists (see the article that follows this 2).[Footnote 2: "Some Words on Daily Life". -Ed] While enforcing upon such public characters in our ranks as editors, and lecturers, etc., the duty of telling fearlessly "the Truth to the face of LIE," he yet condemns the habit of private judgment and criticism in every individual Theosophist.

Unfortunately, these are not the ways of the public and readers. Since our journal is entirely unsectarian, since it is neither theistic nor atheistic, Pagan nor Christian, orthodox nor heterodox, therefore, its editors discover eternal verities in the most opposite religious systems and modes of thought. Thus Lucifer fails to give full satisfaction to either infidel or Christian. In sight of the former whether he be an Agnostic, a Secularist, or an Idealist-to find divine or occult lore underlying "the rubbish" in the Jewish Bible and Christian Gospels is sickening; in the opinion of the latter, to recognise the same truth as in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures in the Hindu, Parsi, Buddhist, or Egyptian religious literature, is vexation of spirit and blasphemy. Hence, fierce criticism from both sides, sneers and abuse. Each party would have us on its own sectarian side, recognising as truth, only that which its particular ism does.

But this cannot nor shall it be. Our motto was from the first, and ever shall be: "THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN--TRUTH." Truth we -search for, and, once found, we bring it forward before the world, whencesoever it comes. A large majority of our readers is fully satisfied with this our policy, and that is plainly sufficient for our purposes.

It is evident that when toleration is not the outcome of indifference it must arise from wide-spreading charity and large-minded sympathy. Intolerance is pre-eminently the consequence of ignorance and jealousy. He who fondly believes that he has got the great ocean in his family water-jug is naturally intolerant of his neighbour, who also is pleased to imagine that he has poured the broad expanse of the sea of truth into his own particular pitcher. But anyone who, like the Theosophist, knows how infinite is that ocean of eternal wisdom, to be fathomed by no one man, class, or party, and realizes how little the largest vessel made by man contains in comparison to what lies dormant and still unperceived in its dark, bottomless depths, cannot help but be tolerant. For he sees that others have filled their little water-jugs at the same great reservoir in which he has dipped his own, and if the water in the various pitchers seems different to the eye, it can only be because it is discoloured by impurities that were in the vessel before the pure crystalline element--a portion of the one eternal and immutable truth--entered into it.

There is, and can be, but one absolute truth in Kosmos. And little as we, with our present limitations, can understand it in its essence, we still know that if it is absolute it must also be omnipresent and universal; and that in such case, it must be underlying every world-religion--the product of the thought and knowledge of numberless generations of thinking men. Therefore, that a portion of truth, great or small, is found in every religious and philosophical system, and that if we would find it, we have to search for it at the origin and source of every such system, at its roots and first growth, not in its later overgrowth of sects and dogmatism. Our object is not to destroy any religion but rather to help to filter each, thus ridding them of their respective impurities. In this we are opposed by all those who maintain, against evidence, that their particular pitcher alone contains the whole ocean. How is our great work to be done if we are to be impeded and harassed on every side by partisans and zealots? It would be already half accomplished were the intelligent men, at least, of every sect and system, to feel and to confess that the little wee bit of truth they themselves own must necessarily be mingled with error, and that their neighbours' mistakes are, like their own, mixed with truth.

Free discussion, temperate, candid, undefiled by personalities and animosity, is, we think, the most efficacious means of getting rid of error and bringing out the underlying truth; and this applies to publications as well as to persons. It is open to a magazine to be tolerant or intolerant; it is open to it to err in almost every way in which an individual can err; and since every publication of the kind has a responsibility such as falls to the lot of few individuals, it behooves it to be ever on its guard, so that it may advance without fear and without reproach. All this is true in a special degree in the case of a theosophical publication, and Lucifer feels that it would be unworthy of that designation were it not true to the profession of the broadest tolerance and catholicity, even while pointing out to its brothers and neighbours the errors which they indulge in and follow. While thus keeping strictly, in its editorials, and in articles by its individual editors, to the spirit and teachings of pure theosophy, it nevertheless frequently gives room to articles and letters which diverge widely from the esoteric teachings accepted by the editors, as also by the majority of theosophists. Readers, therefore, who are accustomed to find in magazines and party publications only such opinions and arguments as the editor believes to be unmistakably orthodox--from his peculiar standpoint-must not condemn any article in Lucifer with which they are not entirely in accord, or in which expressions are used that may be offensive from a sectarian or a prudish point of view, on the ground that such are unfitted for a theosophical magazine. They should remember that precisely because Lucifer is a theosophical magazine, it opens its columns to writers whose views of life and things may not only slightly differ from its own, but even be diametrically opposed to the opinion of the editors. The object of the latter is to elicit truth, not to advance the interest of any particular ism, or to pander to any hobbies, likes or dislikes, of any class of readers. It is only snobs and prigs who, disregarding the truth or error of the idea, cavil and strain merely over the expressions and words it is couched in.

Theosophy, if meaning anything, means truth; and truth has to deal indiscriminately and in the same spirit of impartiality with vessels of honour and of dishonour alike. No theosophical publication would ever dream of adopting the coarse--or shall we say terribly sincere-language of a Hosea or a Jeremiah; yet so long as those holy prophets are found in the Christian Bible, and the Bible is in every respectable, pious family, whether aristocratic or plebeian; and so long as the Bible is read with bowed head and in all reverence by young, innocent maidens and school-boys, why should our Christian critics fall foul of any phrase which may have to be used-if truth be spoken at all-in an occasional article upon a scientific subject? It is to be feared that the same sentences now found objectionable, because referring to Biblical subjects, would be loudly praised and applauded had they been directed against any gentile system of faith (Vide certain missionary organs). A little charity, gentle readers-charity, and above all--fairness and JUSTICE.

Justice demands that when the reader comes across an article in this magazine which does not immediately approve itself to his mind by chiming in with his own peculiar ideas, he should regard it as a problem to solve rather than as a mere subject of criticism. Let him endeavour to learn the lesson which only opinions differing from his own can teach him. Let him be tolerant, if not actually charitable, and postpone his judgment till he extracts from the article the truth it must contain, adding this new acquisition to his store. One ever learns more from one's enemies than from one's friends; and it is only when the reader has credited this hidden truth to Lucifer, that he can fairly presume to put what he believes to be the efforts of the article he does not like to the debit account.


Lucifer, January, 1888


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. 2


Articles by HPB

[In an article titled "Hierosophy and Theosophy" which appeared in the Theosophist for July, 1883, William Oxley, F.T.S., referred briefly to the mummification practiced by the ancient Egyptians in order to support his speculation about "atoms" and "souls." To this passage H.P.B. appended a critical footnote. Then, in the succeeding August issue, a correspondent, "N.D.K.," asked some questions about statements made by H.P.B. in this footnote. Here we print the July footnote, followed by a summary of N.D.K.'s questions, and then the article of the above title, which gave H.P.B.'s replies.--Editors.]

MR. Oxley will permit us to correct him. He looks at the objective terrestrial and empty shell--the "mummy," and forgets that there may be hidden under the crude allegory a great scientific and occult truth. We are taught that for 3,000 years at least the "mummy" notwithstanding all the chemical preparations goes on throwing off to the last invisible atoms, which from the hour of death re-entering the various vortices of being go indeed "through every variety of organized life forms." But it is not the soul, the 5th, least of all the 6th, principle, but the life atoms of the jiva the 2nd principle. At the end of the 3,000 years, sometimes more, and sometimes less, after endless transmigrations all these atoms are once more drawn together, and are made to form the new outer clothing or the body of the same monad (the real soul) which had already been clothed with two or three thousands of years before. Even in the worst case that of the annihilation of the conscious personal principle the monad or individual soul is ever the same as are also the atoms of the lower principles which regenerated and renewed in this ever flowing river of being are magnetically drawn together owing to their affinity, and are once more re-incarnated together. Such was the true occult theory of the Egyptians.

[In his letter to the Editor, N.D.K. remarks that H.P.B.'s footnote constitutes "a new installment of occult teaching" suggesting a basis of truth in the doctrine of transmigration. "What then," he asks, "is meant by the life atoms, and their going through endless transmigrations?" Also, do "both the invisible atoms of the Jiva after going through various life-atoms return again to re-form the physical body, and the Jiva of the entity that has reached the end of its Devachanic state and is ready to be re-incarnated again?" Further, "does the term 'lower principles' include the 'Kama rupa' also, or only the lower triad of body, Jiva, and Linga sarira?" Finally, "do the atoms of the 4th principle (Kama rupa) and lower portion of the 5th, which cannot be assimilated by the 6th . . . also re-form--after going through various transmigrations, to constitute over again the 4th and lower 5th of the next incarnation?'']

We would, to begin with, draw our correspondent's attention to the closing sentence of the foot-note under his review. "Such was the true occult theory of the Egyptians"--the word "true" being used there in the sense of its being the doctrine they really believed in, as distinct from both the tenets fathered upon them by some Orientalists and quoted by Mr. Oxley, and that which the modern occultists may be now teaching. It does not stand to reason that, outside those occult truths that were known to, and revealed by, the great Hierophants during the final initiation, we should accept all that either the Egyptians or any other people may have regarded as true. The Priests of Isis were the only true initiates, and their occult teachings were still more veiled than those of the Chaldeans. There was the true doctrine of the Hierophants of the inner Temple; then the half-veiled Hieratic tenets of the Priest of the outer Temple; and finally, the vulgar popular religion of the great body of the ignorant who were allowed to reverence animals as divine. As shown correctly by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, the initiated priests taught that--"dissolution is only the cause of reproduction . . . nothing perishes which has once existed, but things which appear to be destroyed only change their natures and pass into another form." In the present case, however, the Egyptian doctrine of atoms coincides with our own occult teachings.

The just criticism of our observing brother, who takes naturally enough the sentence--"The life-atoms of the Jiva" in its literal sense, reminds us at the same time, more than ever, of that most important fact that one can never take too much care to express clearly new ideas while writing on metaphysical subjects. In penning the words under review, no thought was given in fact, that the idea was "a new installment," and, therefore, its incompleteness gave rise to a fresh misunderstanding. Without any doubt Jiva or Prana is quite distinct from the atoms it animates. The latter belong to the lowest or grossest state of matter--the objectively conditioned; the former--to its highest state: that state which the uninitiated, ignorant of its nature, would call the "objectively finite," but which, to avoid any future misunderstanding, we may, perhaps, be permitted to call the Subjectively Eternal, though at the same time, and in one sense the subsistent existence--however paradoxical and unscientific the term may appear.1 [Footnote 1: Though there is a distinct term for it in the language of the adepts, how can one translate it into a European language? What name can be given to that which is objective yet immaterial in its finite manifestations, subjective yet substantive (though not in our sense of substance) in its eternal existence? Having explained it the best way we can, we leave the task of finding a more appropriate term for it to our learned English occultists. -Ed.]

Life, the occultist says, is the eternal uncreated energy, and it alone represents in the infinite universe, that which the physicists have agreed to name the principle? or the law of continuity, though they apply it only to the endless development of the conditioned. But since modern science admits through her most learned professors that "energy has as much claim to be regarded as an objective reality as matter itself,"2[Footnote 2: Unseen Universe] and that life, according to the occult doctrine,--is the one energy acting Proteus-like under the most varied forms, the occultists have a certain right to use such a phraseology. Life is ever present in the atom or matter, whether organic or inorganic, conditioned or unconditioned--a difference that the occultists do not accept. Their doctrine is that life is as much present in the inorganic as in the organic matter: when life-energy is active in the atom, that atom is organic; when dormant or latent, then the atom is inorganic. Therefore, the expression "life-atom" though apt in one sense to mislead the reader, is not incorrect after all, since occultists do not recognise that anything in nature can be inorganic and know of no "dead atoms," whatever meaning science may give to the adjective.

The alleged law of Biogenesis is the result of the ignorance of the man of science of occult physics. It is accepted because the man of science was hitherto unable to find the necessary means to awaken into activity dormant life in what he terms an inorganic atom: hence the fallacy that a living thing can only be produced from a living thing, as though there ever was such a thing as dead matter in Nature! At this rate, and to be consistent, a mule ought to be also classed with inorganic matter, since it is unable to reproduce itself, and generate life.

We lay so much stress upon the above to answer at once any future objection to the idea that a mummy several thousand years old, can be throwing off atoms. Nevertheless the sentence may perhaps have been more clearly expressed by saying instead of the "life-atoms of Jiva," the atoms "animated by dormant Jiva or life energy." Again, the sentence quoted by our correspondent from Fragment No. 1,*[Footnote *: From "Fragments of Occult Truth -1" (Theosophist III, 18; see Theosophy 2:100). The full sentence reads: "The Vital principle (or Jiva-atma, a form of force, indestructible, and when disconnected with one set of atoms, becoming attracted immediately by others."] though quite correct on the whole, might be more fully, if not more clearly, expressed. The "Jiva," or life principle which animates man, beast, plant or even a mineral, certainly is "a form of force, indestructible," since this force is the one life, or anima mundi, the universal living soul, and that the various modes in which the various objective things appear to us in nature in their atomic aggregations, such as minerals, plants, animals, etc., are all the different forms or states in which this force manifests itself. Were it to become, we will not say absent, for this is impossible, since it is omnipresent, but for one single instant inactive, say in a stone, the particles of the latter would lose instantly their cohesive property and disintegrate as suddenly--though the force would still remain in each of its particles, but in a dormant state. Thus the continuation of the sentence which states that, when this indestructible force is "disconnected with one set of atoms, it becomes attracted immediately by others" does not imply that it abandons entirely the first set, but only that it transfers its vis viva or living power, the energy of motion, to another set. But because it manifests itself in the next set as what is called Kinetic energy, it does not follow that the first set is deprived of it altogether; for it is still in it, as potential energy, or life latent.3 [Footnote 3: We feel constrained to make use of terms that havve become technical in modern science-though they do not always fully express the idea to be conveyed-for want of better words. It is useless to hope that the occult doctrine may be ever thoroughl understood-even the few tenets that can be safely given to the world at large-unless a glossary of such words is edited; and, what is of a still more primary importance-util the full and correct meaning of the terms therein taught is thoroughly mastered. -Ed.] This is a cardinal and basic truth of occultism, on the perfect knowledge of which depends the production of every phenomenon. Unless we admit this point, we should have to give up all the other truths of occultism. Thus what is "meant by the life-atom going through endless transmigration" is simply this: we regard and call in our occult phraseology those atoms that are moved by Kinetic energy as "life-atoms," while those that are for the time being passive, containing but invisible potential energy, we call "sleeping atoms," regarding at the same time those two forms of energy as produced by the one and same force, or life. We have to beg our readers' indulgence: we are neither a man of science, nor an English scholar. Forced by circumstances to give out the little we know, we do the best we can and explain matters to the best of our ability. Ignorant of Newton's laws, we claim to know something only of the Occult Laws of motion. And now to the Hindu doctrine of Metempsychosis.

It has a basis of truth; and, in fact, it is an axiomatic truth--but only in reference to human atoms and emanations, and that not only after a man's death, but during the whole period of his life. The esoteric meaning of the Laws of Manu (Sec. XII, 3, and XII, 54 and 55), of the verses that state that "every act, either mental, verbal or corporeal, bears good or evil fruit (Karma), the various transmigrations of men (not souls) through the highest, middle, and lowest stages, are produced by his actions"; and again that "A Brahman-killer enters the body of a dog, bear, ass, camel, goat, sheep, bird, etc.," bears no reference to the human Ego, but only to the atoms of his body, of his lower triad, and his fluidic emanations.

It is all very well for the Brahmins to distort in their own interest, the real meaning contained in these laws, but the words as quoted never meant what they were made to yield from the above verses later on. The Brahmins applied them selfishly to themselves, whereas by "Brahman," man's seventh principle, his immortal monad and the essence of the personal Ego were allegorically meant. He who kills or extinguishes in himself the light of Parabrahm, i.e., severs his personal Ego from the Atman and thus kills the future Devachanee, becomes a "Brahman-killer." Instead of facilitating, through a virtuous life and spiritual aspirations the mutual union of the Buddhi and the Manas, he condemns by his own evil acts every atom of his lower principles to become attracted and drawn, in virtue of the magnetic affinity thus created by his passions, into the forming bodies of lower animals or brutes. This is the real meaning of the doctrine of Metempsychosis. It is not that such amalgamation of human particles with animal or even vegetable atoms can carry in it any idea of personal punishment per se, for of course it does not. But it is a cause created, the effects of which may manifest themselves throughout the next rebirths--unless the personality is annihilated. Otherwise, from cause to effect, every effect becoming in its turn a cause, they will run along the cycle of rebirths, the once-given impulse expending itself only at the threshold of Pralaya. But of this anon.

Notwithstanding their esoteric meaning, even the words of the grandest and noblest of all the adepts, Gautama Buddha, are misunderstood, distorted and ridiculed in the same way. The Hina-yana, the lowest form of transmigration of the Buddhist, is as little comprehended as the Maha-yana, its highest form, and, because Sakya Muni is shown to have once remarked to his Bhikkus, while pointing out to them a broom, that "it had formerly been a novice who neglected to sweep out" the Council room, hence was reborn as a broom (!), therefore, the wisest of all of the world's sages stands accused of idiotic superstition. Why not try and find out, before accusing, the true meaning of the figurative statement? Why should we scoff before we understand?

Is or is not that which is called magnetic effluvia a something, a stuff, or substance, invisible, and imponderable though it be? If the learned authors of "The Unseen Universe" object to light, heat and electricity being regarded merely as imponderables, and show that each of these phenomena has as much claim to be recognized as an objective reality as matter itself--our right to regard the mesmeric or magnetic fluid which emanates from man to man or even from man to what is termed an inanimate object, is far greater. It is not enough to say that this fluid is a species of molecular energy like heat, for instance, for it is vastly more. Heat is produced whenever visible energy is transformed into molecular energy, we are told, and it may be thrown out by any material composed of sleeping atoms or inorganic matter as it is called: whereas the magnetic fluid projected by a living human body is life itself. "Indeed it is life-atoms" that a man in a blind passion throws off, unconsciously, and though he does it quite as effectively as a mesmeriser who transfers them from himself to any object consciously and under the guidance of his will. Let any man give way to any intense feeling, such as anger, grief, etc., under or near a tree, or in direct contact with a stone; and many thousands of years after that any tolerable Psychometer will see the man and sense his feelings, from one single fragment of that tree or stone that he had touched. Hold any object in your hand, and it will become impregnated with your life atoms, indrawn and outdrawn, changed and transferred in us at every instant of our lives. Animal heat is but so many life atoms in molecular motion. It requires no adept knowledge, but simply the natural gift of a good clairvoyant subject to see them passing to and fro, from man to objects and vice versa like a bluish lambent flame.

Why then should not a broom, made of a shrub, which grew most likely in the vicinity of the building where the lazy novice lived, a shrub, perhaps, repeatedly touched by him while in a state of anger, provoked by his laziness and distaste to his duty,--why should not a quantity of his life atoms have passed into the materials of the future besom and therein have been recognised by Buddha, owing to his superhuman (not supernatural) powers? The processes of nature are acts of incessant borrowing and giving back. The materialistic sceptic, however, will not take anything in any, save in a literal, dead-letter sense. We would invite those Christian Orientalists who chuckle at this record of Buddha's teachings to compare it with a certain passage in the Gospels--a teaching of Christ. To his disciples' query "who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"--the answer they received was--"neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John ix. 2-3.)

Now Gautama's statement has a scientific and philosophic meaning for every occultist at least, if it lacks a clear meaning for the profane; while the answer put (probably centuries later4) [Footnote 4: And probably by, or under, the inspiration of Irenaeus since the sentence is found in the 4th Gospel, that of John, that did not exist yet at the time of his quarrels with the Gnostics.-Ed.] into the mouth of the founder of Christianity by his over-zealous and ignorant biographers has not even that esoteric meaning, which so many of the sayings of Jesus are pregnant with. This alleged teaching is an uncalled-for and blasphemous insult to their own God, implying, as it clearly does, that for the pleasure of manifesting his power, the Deity had foredoomed an innocent man to the torture of a life-long blindness. As well accuse Christ of being the author of the 39 Articles!

To conclude our too long answer, the "lower principles" mentioned in the foot-note are--the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. They cannot include the Kamarupa, for this "rupa" belongs to the middle, not the lower principles. And, to our correspondent's further query, "do the atoms of these (the 4th and the 5th) also re-form after going through various transmigrations to constitute over again the 4th and the lower 5th of the next incarnation"--we answer--"they do." The reason why we have tried to explain the doctrine of the "life atoms" at such length, is precisely in connection with this last question, and with the object of throwing out one more valuable hint. We do not feel at liberty at present, however, to give any further details.


Theosophist, July, August, 1883



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