THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 11, September, 1961
(Pages 500-502; Size: 9K)
[Article number (12) in this Department]
THE following statement regarding the origins of the present Theosophical Movement appears in a contemporary Theosophical publication: "Mme. Blavatsky said she was the agent of Adepts or Masters on whose behalf she was laying before the world a part only of truths known to them as facts. ... Her claim is strikingly important. The Theosophical Movement stands or falls on its validity." This is by no means an unusual expression and, on occasion, quite similar statements appeared in the writings of William Q. Judge and Robert Crosbie. The present student, however, feels that a worth-while discussion of fundamental importance can revolve around the points raised. To begin with, in what sense can it he said that "the Theosophical Movement stands or falls" on the validity of a statement made by H.P.B. regarding the source of her teachings? It must be admitted that a representation of the Theosophical Movement in these terms allows a critic to charge that Theosophists believe on a "revelatory" basis. Is this not similar, the critic may ask, to supposedly revealed sources of information, such as the golden tablets of Joseph Smith, the revealed Word of God in the Bible, etc.?
No student of H. P. Blavatsky will properly identify the entire Theosophical Movement with any one claim or representation. Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine do not essentially constitute anything which might be termed revelation, for these magnificent surveys are rather demonstrations -- demonstrations that the Theosophical Movement of ideas and philosophy and of doctrine has no one point or time of origin. There is no doubt, for example, that the school of Pythagoras, the inspiration of Socrates, the writings of Plato, and the platform of Ammonius, all represent the same Theosophy which H.P.B. assisted to reincarnation from 1875 to 1891.
The platform of the T.S. -- clearly derived from the perspectives of H.P.B. -- was an endeavor to form a philosophical school which could not be uprooted on the basis of claims or counterclaims regarding the status of any one teacher, including herself. The pursuit of the three objects of the original T.S. was intended to stimulate each man's "spiritual intuition," and it was in the context of the T.S. that the work of Isis Unveiled was completed. But so immeasurably did H.P.B. enrich the efforts of individual members of the T.S. to pursue the three objects that it is small wonder she was regarded by some as a teacher of more than ordinary significance. From those who came to feel in this manner there were continuing requests for her to assume, more directly, the role of the Teacher she had so clearly earned. These "pupils" of H.P.B. chose her as the teacher, chose to represent the Theosophy she brought -- at which point the latest gnostic manifestation of Theosophy came into being.
It is obvious that the Theosophical Movement, then, is represented by dual aspects. The first has to do with non-sectarian, independent study; the second with a declaration of intent to further study and to promulgate the writings of a particular teacher -- in the present time, H.P.B. In her Key to Theosophy H.P.B. shows why these aspects of one great movement came by some to be regarded as complementary -- and by others as largely independent.
Madame Blavatsky consistently encouraged the attitude of constructive agnosticism -- while at the same time she spoke of a true gnosis and undertook to represent some of its essential character and teachings. Therefore, as in so many times past, the Theosophical Movement requires of its adherents an appreciation of both agnosticism and gnosticism, a growing understanding of how the two may be blended without allowing belief to override the attitude of science, nor the attitude of science to override esoteric means for reaching illumination.
The statement quoted in the question is obviously in the context of esoteric Theosophy -- the Theosophy sought and received from H.P.B. by those who asked for her further instruction in a gnosis. Now, if a teacher can be demonstrably misleading or false in motive, only one human response is usually possible -- dissociation from the teacher. The real core of Theosophical effort since 1875 has been composed of those who were students of H.P.B.; any fundamental disproof of her representations would remove her influence from the role of Teacher. Devoted workers for the Movement in a sense demand continuing integrity in regard to the one who transmits knowledge and, certainly, it is impossible to continually doubt the character of a teacher and be ready to make the most of whatever instructions are provided.
From a purely logical point of view, it can of course be argued that whether or not H.P.B. was sometimes in error in her representations, one is still free to take, from her, expressions of idea and philosophy for their "own sake." And there is a point, we may think, where a Theosophist's attitude may be tested by such a hypothetical consideration. Certainly it is through H.P.B. that we hear of a statement from one of her adept-teachers that the ideal stand for the Theosophist is to "go on working as if we did not exist." H.P.B. would and did say the same respecting herself.
It is here we come to recognize that the fundamental Theosophical emphasis must be characterized by a relinquishment of the human tendency to judge persons. On what ground should a student feel himself called upon or competent to judge one from whom he is learning? It is on this particular attitude of moralism -- the desire to judge the caliber of another's personality or character -- that many potentially valuable efforts have foundered.
Had H.P.B. not represented her Theosophy as not hers, but simply a heritage which she could share with others, the fundamental point of her instruction would have been missed. But for those who have, according to their best lights, come to her as Teacher, there is no need for criticism or judgment -- but all the need in the world to extend one's capacity for appreciation and therefore for learning.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE LAW OF IRONY
The Christian nations offer many illustrations of the law of irony. They profess the citizenship of heaven, the exclusive worship of eternal good; and never has the hungry pursuit of perishable joys, the love of this world, or the thirst for conquest, been stronger or more active than among these nations. Their official motto is exactly the reverse of their real aspiration. Under a false flag they play the smuggler with a droll ease of conscience. Is the fraud a conscious one? No -- it is but an application of the law of irony. The deception is so common a one that the delinquent becomes unconscious of it. Every nation gives itself the lie in the course of its daily life, and not one feels the ridicule of its position. A man must be a Japanese to perceive the burlesque contradictions of the Christian civilization.
[Article number (13) in this Department]
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