We have opened the doors and have passed the Threshold and now approach the heart of the Mystery. Before us lies what is to the Occidental readers the terra incognita of the inner nature of man.
We now turn to a sketch of the other facts and circumstances composing the heart of the Mystery that we are trying to explain: the Light which we are now approaching. Human beings may be divided into three general Classes, in whom the intermediate or psychological nature is more or less pellucid to the Inner Light: (1) those in whom it is moderately pervious to the Light and Power of the Inner God; (2) those in whom it is pervious in large measure; (3) those in whom it is wholly pervious thereto. These three Classes, beginning with the first, or lowest, we may speak of as: I: Ordinary men; II: Messengers and disciples of the Sages, and the Sages themselves; III: the Avataras. Moreover, the intermediate or psychological part of man, in addition to the above conditions, is also subject by nature to certain other conditions or states of 'presence' and quasi-'absence,' during life, which states or conditions result in marked psychological phenomena; and, especially as regards our present subject, these states or conditions produce the varying degrees of human greatness. The following will briefly set forth our meaning.
Let us begin with the first Class -- a matter which will not require any heavy mental work and which may therefore serve as an easy introduction to understanding the other two Classes more difficult to explain. The quasi-'absence,' or perhaps rather the temporary 'disjunction' of the psychological apparatus of an ordinary man, from the remainder of his inner constitution, is exceedingly common in life, although temporary: so common, indeed, that it is the basis of a body of psychological phenomena which belong to practically everybody: to every human being, normal or abnormal, as the case may be.
We may instance the most common case of all, that is, sleep. In sleep the intermediate or psychological or, as it is commonly called, the 'personal' part of man's constitution is 'absent': in other words, non-manifesting through the physical brain; and, indeed, it is this absence itself, this temporary disjunction of the intermediate or ordinary human nature, which is the ultimate cause of sleep itself. The body sleeps because we, the average personal human beings, are no longer there.
Another case is that of trance, a word which is grossly misunderstood and absurdly used by a number of popular writers on so-called abnormal psychical phenomena. The annals of medicine, as well as the knowledge derived from the practice of every experienced physician, show that trances are as common to human beings as blackberries in season. A man is in a species of trance when he is what is called absent-minded, which exactly describes the situation; for his mind is no longer there, so to say. A man is in a minor trance when he is oblivious of surrounding circumstances or is inwrapped in what is popularly called a brown study.
A man is likewise in a trance when he has foolishly allowed himself to become the victim of the practices of some hypnotist; and anyone who has seen men and women in this state of hypnosis must realize not only how dangerous, how baleful and wrong it is, but also that it exemplifies the trance-state perfectly. The reason is that the intermediate nature, or the psycho-mental apparatus of the human being, has been displaced from its seat, is disjoined or absent, and there remains but the vitalized human body, with its more or less imperfect functioning of the brain-cells and nervous apparatus. Another case is that comprised in the various degrees of insanity. A man is insane simply because his intermediate or psychological nature is 'absent' in various degrees, or, in cases of violent insanity, has been practically dislocated in permanent or absolute measure. Minor cases of insanity, or periodic mania, are other instances where this disjunction has taken place. So much for Class I.
We come now to Class II, that of the Messengers and the advanced disciples of the Sages, a Class which stands on an entirely different footing. Whereas in Class I the various phenomena appertaining to the 'absence' or disjunction of the intermediate or psychological apparatus is mostly involuntary, and beyond ordinary control, and in its evil and vicious ranges is a great and positive affliction, in this Second Class the 'absence' or disjunction is an exceedingly rare phenomenon, is entirely under the control of the individual, is voluntary, and takes place only when and if and as the individual so desires it, and its results are always sane and healthful.
The differences between Classes I and II are enormous. In Class I the intermediate part or nature is imperfectly evolved, is only moderately pervious to the supernal light and energy of the divine-spiritual Soul or Inner Essential Self, and is subject to consequent disturbances and distortions of function which still more largely interrupt the spiritual stream of consciousness from the monadic essence or Inner Essential Self.
In Class II, on the contrary, the intermediate part is highly evolved, trained to respond to the stream of inspiration, and through training and initiation has become both positive and powerful. Thus the Spiritual Will and Consciousness are able to function easily and freely, and, whenever necessary, can so control and govern the intermediate part as to set it aside temporarily, so to say, in order that the consciousness-stream flowing forth from the Monad or Inner Spiritual Self may pass directly into the ordinary human or brain-mind consciousness.
This last condition opens the path to the highest spiritual inspiration uncolored by the personalized individuality of the intermediate nature of the inner constitution of the man. When this occurs the man becomes in consciousness and power virtually an incarnate god. His consciousness is, for the time being, of universal range and vision, and this therefore includes what may be called temporary omniscience -- so far as our own Home-Universe is concerned. A man in this condition is, for the time being, a Buddha, a Christ. Buddhists could speak of this condition as that of the 'inner Buddha'; Christian mystics could speak of it as that of the 'immanent Christ' in manifestation; the Hindu might speak of it as the 'splendor of the Brahman in the heart.'
Into the condition of the intermediate nature thus temporarily created, there flows, then, for the time being, the Will and Thought and Consciousness of the Inner Essential Self or monadic essence, for whom the Sage or Messenger or disciple has thus prepared the personal lower vehicle; and through it performs the work or gives the sublime teachings of Reality kept in mind to do and to give.
It should be emphasized here again that such temporary filling of the self-conscious mind with the spiritual essence in no sense, as is obvious, injures that mind, or the body that it functions in, or degrades it, or renders it less fit when the normal state or condition is resumed. On the contrary, all the results or consequences are greatly for betterment. It must be obvious that if the ordinary human being could feel his brain and psychological and emotional apparatus inspired and filled full with the presence of a divinity, it would be incomparably good for him, and would strengthen him, in all higher senses of the word, in an incomparable degree; and exactly the same applies to one possessing what we may call quasi-divinity.
All this may seem to be very strange to the average Occidental, because he knows nothing about these marvelous mysteries in Psychology -- the real Psychology that Theosophy, which is the Ancient Wisdom, teaches of. But in actual fact, could he penetrate behind the veils enshrouding the Great Ones of history, the towering monuments of spiritual and intellectual capacity, as expressed in and through these World-Teachers, he would immediately see that the condition or state that we have briefly described is, in those cases, one of the most usual of the psychological phenomena belonging to them. Probably every World-Teacher, or Founder of religion, in history, has been spoken of by his followers or disciples as having been at times illuminated; or it has been said of them that they were infilled with a glory; or it has been recorded of them that the face and the body of them shone; and indeed the ancient Greeks, to take an instance, have left it on record in much of their religious and mystical philosophical literature, that such appearances of divinities or quasi-divine Beings -- the inner spiritual Self or Monad -- manifesting through the body of some chosen one, was a well-known fact of archaic Wisdom and Knowledge, certainly so in the cases of initiation.
Usually this illumination or filling with glory came from the man's own Inner Spiritual Essence or Self; but sometimes it occurred because some great and lofty human being -- of Class II above described -- became the vehicle or channel for the temporary manifestation of some Celestial Power, so called.
Here then, in these paragraphs, we have briefly laid bare the solution of the spiritual-psychological Mystery that H. P. Blavatsky presented to the world.
Now, it should not be supposed that these pages are an attempt to lay bare, for the first time in the world, secrets of the Esoteric Wisdom which heretofore have never been divulged. No such claim is made, and certainly it would be both improper and unwise to burden the mind and thought with subjects which require not only deep and conscientious thinking, but, for a more or less complete understanding of them, years of preparation and honestly impersonal study. This entire subject is a very holy one, and we have endeavored to write of it as such, appealing to the intuition and heart to understand, and, in understanding, to feel somewhat of the mighty power which came into the world and worked in it for the world's own and sole benefit through H. P. Blavatsky, the Messenger and Co-Laborer of the noblest and holiest of Men.
Class III are the Avataras. This Class is again quite different, so far as the details of the mechanism of the psychological mystery is concerned; but nevertheless this third Class of Men, all supremely holy Men -- very few indeed as they are -- falls within the general psycho-spiritual subject which we have been studying; because, in addition to other spiritual and psychological mysteries appertaining to them, there is a Mystery closely similar to that of the psychological matters of which we have been writing.
The great difference between the Avataras and Class II, and Class I, lies in this fact: in the case of the Avataras, there is an absence of a karmically natural personal intermediate or psychological vehicle from the very beginning of their physical existence; indeed, from a period of time even before the birth of the physical body. Their intermediate part, forming the psychological link between Spirit and physical body, comes to them from elsewhere; so that in one sense -- of the word, and in a very mystical sense one extremely difficult to explain to European and American students or readers -- the absence of a naturally personal psychological intermediary may be called absolute and complete, for it certainly lasts from birth until those Avataras disappear from among men.
This entire Class of Men, the Avataras, have a history so marvelous, so different from anything that ordinary human beings know anything about, that without years of study it is almost hopeless to give a satisfying explanation of it, and yet we cannot leave this third class out of our category without justly incurring the charge of presenting an incomplete outline of the subject under discussion.
Here once more we are deeply sensible of embarrassment in pointing to subjects, and only briefly touching upon them, which are so difficult and abstruse. And yet what can be done? Once an explanation of H. P. Blavatsky's mission and work in the world is attempted it is obvious that something has to be said. Indeed much has to be said, and little known mysteries of the inner life of human beings have to be sketched. But, on the other hand, were these matters to be fully developed, not merely one volume but many would be required. Our hope is that hints have been given which will appeal to the intuition and will encourage students to find by their own study of the majestical system of the ancient Wisdom-Religion today called Theosophy, treasures of unspeakable worth, both for mind and heart. Of themselves they must dig into these mines of ancient wisdom; and the value of so doing on their own account is that they will inevitably light upon and take unto themselves those more especial treasures which each will instinctively feel to be most native to his own character.
The word Avatara is a Sanskrit compound, and may be translated as 'passing down,' and signifies the passing down of a celestial Energy or, what comes to the same thing, of an individualized complex of celestial energies, which is equivalent to saying a celestial being, in order to overshadow and illuminate some human being -- but a human being which at the time of such connection of 'heaven and earth', of divinity with matter, possesses no karmically intermediate or connecting link between the overshadowing entity and the physical body: in other words, no human soul karmically destined to be the inner master of the body thus born.
What, then, is it which furnishes this absolutely necessary intermediate link of the chain of man's inner constitution, so that the human being to be may have the human intermediate or psychological apparatus fit to express the invisible splendor of this celestial descent? This intermediate or psychological link in these cases is supplied by the deliberate and voluntary entrance into the unborn child -- and coincidently with the overshadowing of the celestial power -- of the psychological or intermediate principle of one of the Greater Ones, who thus completes what is to be the pure and lofty human channel through which the 'descending' divinity may manifest, finding in this high psychological part a properly evolved link enabling that divinity to express itself in human form upon earth.
The important, the main, point about the Avatara is this: the Avatara is karma-less. The spiritual-divine part, or the celestial descent, has of course no karma, individual, national, or racial, attracting it into our sphere; and his descent, if governed by karma at all, is controlled by karma of a cosmic character.
Now, although it may not be immediately evident, there is more similarity between the characteristics pertaining to the Avatara-Class and those of the Second Class than one may off-hand suppose. Consequently, therefore, H. P. Blavatsky, who belongs to the Second Class, in a certain particular sense may be looked upon as having belonged to the Class of minor Avataras; and the same observation would apply to any other member of the Second Class.
These three Classes of course are obviously divisible, each one, into various grades or stages, from the less great to the greatest. Thus in ordinary humanity of the First Class, we have in the lower ranks, the inferior men, running up to the highest stage of that First Class, whom we may call men of genius and quasi-Great Men.
So, also, in the Second Class we have the Messengers and disciples belonging to various grades, from the lowest, or the neophyte in Esoteric Wisdom and training, to the great Sages and Seers themselves.
Thus, also in the Third or Avatara-Class, although this Class contains very few examples -- very few indeed -- in human history, yet, as already hinted, the Avataras are not of precisely equal spiritual rank and grandeur.
It may be of interest to illustrate the point if we cite two, and perhaps three, examples of Avataric lives. The first one was a true Avatara, Sankaracharya of India, who lived some few generations after the date of the passing of Gautama, the Buddha. He was born in Southern India, and from earliest childhood, to the day of his death, he manifested transcendent capacity. He was the reformer of much of the then current and orthodox Indian philosophy, and may be regarded as the founder of the great Adwaita-School of the Vedanta which flourishes even to this day, and perhaps may be called the most widely disseminated and popular School of modern philosophical Hinduism -- and perhaps the noblest also. There is a great deal of mystery connected with the life of Sankaracharya, and many legends, doubtless having some foundation of fact, are still current regarding his existence.
The second instance which may be illustrated is that of Jesus, the great Syrian Sage, who was another Avatara, and like all of his Class, had no merely human karma. This was what we had in mind when earlier reference was made to the mystical episode in the Garden of Gethsemane, and to the exclamation there alleged to have been made: "Let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not my will, but Thine be done!"
It should be said in passing that the entire story of the Christian Gospels is a mystery-tale, and represents various episodes of the Initiation-Cycle as these episodes were understood and followed in Asia Minor; and such a mystery-tale is as applicable to any great World-Teacher as it was to Jesus, around whom this particular mystery-tale was builded as a type. To this of course no Theosophist has any reasonable objection, although he does object to the taking of the beautiful New Testament story as a unique instance of quasi-human divinity in the spiritual history of the world, and consequently to the considering of Jesus, the Christos, as the unique and unparalleled World-Teacher.
Deeper knowledge of that sublime personage and of his exalted and lofty character ought to be, and undoubtedly will be, welcomed by every thoughtful mind, and nothing we here say should be construed as derogatory of that sublime character or intended to diminish the respect and reverence which his figure holds in Occidental hearts. We feel, however, that the truth about him is far more wonderful in every respect than what tradition or story has ever yet told; and having this in mind we feel also that greater knowledge of him, as the Ancient Wisdom teaches it, can bring only an added respect. Looking upon Jesus the Christos as one of the long line of World-Teachers, and seeing what he was both humanly and psychologically, brings him closer to the hearts of men. Truth, for all harmoniously developed minds, never, under any circumstances, is something to fear.
We may add further that our esoteric doctrines show us that the psychological part of Jesus the Avatara was almost certainly the same psychological entity or psychological individuality which had furnished the intermediate or psychological human vehicle in the preceding Avatara, Sankaracharya; and that this same intermediate psychological entity acting in both cases is closely connected, in esoteric history, with the noblest Sage and Seer that history has record of -- Gautama the Buddha.
In a closely similar sense also, although in a far larger sense than applies to the Wonder-Woman H. P. Blavatsky, Gautama the Buddha may be called an Avatara -- but, we repeat it, in a certain sense only; and the same remark regarding H. P. Blavatsky may be made with regard to Apollonius of Tyana.
It is thus evident that the position herein assigned H. P. Blavatsky as regards spiritual and intellectual and psychological capacities, is incomparably superior to that which she has hitherto been supposed to hold, either by her warmest friends and followers, or by those who were keen enough to recognize in her a spiritual energy of paramount importance in religious and philosophical history. Woman, saint, sage, martyr: the judgment of the world of the future will place her on the high vantagepoint of wisdom and moral splendor where she rightly belongs.