H. P. Blavatsky: The Mystery

By Gottfried de Purucker in collaboration with Katherine Tingley

Chapter II -- The Threshold of the Mystery

In embarking upon the first stages of the fascinating subject before us, it would probably be impossible to get even the first glimpse of the truth regarding H. P. Blavatsky, unless we have some more or less clear-cut ideas of the nature of man's inner constitution; for there, in actual fact, lies the secret key of the Mystery that she was.

We have spoken of H. P. Blavatsky as a great spiritual-psychological mystery. It must be carefully noted and understood, however, that the use of this word 'mystery' is not the popular one as signifying something which it is impossible to understand, or which natural circumstances or human inability prevent us from understanding. We use the word in much the same sense that the ancient Greeks did, who gave us this term, as signifying something the explanation of which could indeed be readily enough known, but only through and by a course of training and study combined, undertaken and followed out by certain ones who had, however, been chosen, or who had chosen themselves, to pursue such a course. In other words, ' mystery' as here used, signifies not an unsolvable riddle, but an aggregate of little known facts combined with a series of circumstances which requires only elucidation and explanation to become clear.

The 'mystery' spoken of is really a simple one, and there is no reason whatsoever why the average Occidental -- or Oriental indeed for that matter -- should have any real difficulty in understanding, and greatly profiting by, the explanation which we purpose to set forth.

Those who have read more or less of Theosophical literature of course know that the usual and popular method followed in Theosophical works of showing the nature of man and of the Universe is the outlining of and explanation of the so-called Seven Principles of which man's inner constitution is built as a miniature copy of the sevenfold constitution of the Universe. And this is quite correct and no objection is made to it here. But there is another method, and for our present purpose a simpler method; it is by considering his inner constitution to be built up of three perfectly harmonious, naturally interacting, and correlated divisions: a spiritual nature, a psychological or intermediate nature, and a vital-astral-physical nature. These three obviously include the seven principles of man, and furthermore are at the basis of the usual Christian division of man's being into three -- spirit, soul, and body.

In other words, man himself is but a copy in the small of what the Universe is in the great. He is the microcosm of the Macrocosm. His spiritual nature is rooted in and a derivative of the spiritual nature of the Universe, of which he is an organic part. His intermediate or psychological nature is equivalently rooted in the intermediate or psychological portion of the Universe, of which he is an organic part. And his vital-astral-physical portion likewise is derivative, as a composite, from the same composite portion of the Universe, of which he is, vitally, astrally, and physically, an inseparable offspring.

The consequence of all this is, philosophically as well as religiously, and, indeed, scientifically speaking, that whatever is in the Universe -- powers, functions, faculties, energies, forces, substances, consciousness, what not -- plays and functions through him; because all these play and function in the universe, of the whole of which man is an inseparable part. It is also obvious that as the Universe itself is one consistent and coherent whole, and therefore includes the invisible worlds and spheres, such a universal structure can be builded after only one pattern. That pattern is that of a hierarchical or graded series of planes or stages or worlds, call them what you will, of different degrees of tenuity or ethereality, as regards each other, some being very high in evolution, and others being in an evolutionary period of lower degree.

This basic fact it is which gives a philosophical explanation of the fact that the human host itself is composed or constructed after the same hierachical pattern that exists in the Parent-Universe. In other words there are very great men; there are men less great; and there are men who are great; and below these are the various stages, from the better to the worse, of average and middling men; and below these again, continuing the hierarchical ladder of human life, there are the different degrees of what we may call inferior men.

It is to the superior men, the men of the first class, we now wish to call particular attention. No one who has read history can be oblivious of the fact that its annals are bright at certain epochs with the amazing splendor of certain human beings, who during the periods of their lifetimes, have swayed the destinies, not merely of nations, but of whole continents. The names of some of these men are household words in all civilized countries, and the most negligent student of history cannot have done otherwise than have stood amazed at the mark that they made in the world, while they lived -- yes, and perhaps have left behind them results surpassing in almost immeasurable degree the remarkable achievements of their own respective lifetimes.

A few of these are the Buddha and Sankaracharya in India; Lao-Tse and Confucius in China; Jesus the great Syrian Sage in his own epoch and land; Apollonius of Tyana, Pythagoras, Orpheus, Olen, Musaeus, Pamphos, and Philammon, in Greece; and many, many more in other lands. Nor is it to be supposed that all these great men were of equal spiritual grandeur, for, as in the other classes of human beings, so do these great men likewise differ among themselves in degrees of evolutionary development.

One point of great importance should be noted: that a careful scrutiny of the teachings of these Great Men, the Seers and Sages of past times, shows us that in the various and varying forms in which their respective Messages were cast, there is always to be found an identical systematized Doctrine, identical in substance in all cases, though frequently varying in outward form: a fact proving the existence all over the world of what Theosophy very rightly points to as the existence of a Universal Religion of mankind -- a Religion-Philosophy-Science based on Nature herself, and by no means nor at any time resting solely on the teachings of any one individual, however great he may have been. It is also foolish, downright absurd, for any thoughtful man or woman to deny the existence of these great outstanding figures of world-history, for there they are; and the more we know about them, the more fully do we begin to understand something of their sublime nature and powers.

Do you ask; What on earth have these great world-figures to do with the spiritual-psychological mystery that H. P. Blavatsky was? If so, you have not yet grasped even the first principle of the explanation of H. P. Blavatsky's individual character, and of the Mission which she was sent forth to accomplish. We do not mean to say that H. P. Blavatsky, the Russian noblewoman and much misunderstood philosophic teacher, was in all senses of the word one of these towering World-Figures; although on the other hand we do not mean to say that she was utterly distinct and separate from that class of being. Our meaning is very plain: It is that for work planned by titanic spiritual wisdom and intellect, a great and powerful individuality is needed in order to carry it out. This alone places H. P. Blavatsky in the ranks of the Great Ones, although, as we have before said, she was also the Messenger and Mouthpiece of others greater than she.

Or again do you ask: Was then H. P. Blavatsky the Messenger of the Buddha, and of Jesus and of Lao-Tse, and of the others of whom you have been speaking? Are they not all dead men, who lived indeed and moved the world at their time indeed, but who are now no more? How can that be? No, that is not our meaning. We instanced these great men in order to illustrate the thesis that the human race has produced these monuments of surpassing genius in the past; and there is not the slightest reasonable or logical argument that could be alleged by anybody in support of the very lame and halting notion that no such men live now, or could live in the future. The burden of all the evidence at hand runs quite to the contrary. It would be a riddle virtually unsolvable, if one were to suppose that because such men have existed in the past, they could not exist again or that -- and this comes to the same thing -- what the human race has once produced, it could never again produce.

How does such a fantastic notion harmonize with the unquestioned truth of evolution -- in other words, progressive human development? Has the human race at the present time grown so feeble, has it so far degenerated, that genius, and what is more than genius -- which these Great Ones showed forth -- no more can spring forth from human material? All these questions and comments sufficiently state the case, and we need pause no longer upon that phase of the question.

We do not mean that H. P. Blavatsky was the Messenger and Mouthpiece of men once dead; but we do mean that what has been in the past is but a shadowing forth of what likewise can be and must be at a later date, and, in the course of natural law, will be bound to come forth in the future. She was the Messenger and Mouthpiece of that great Brotherhood of which our Theosophical literature says so much, and which is composed not of the 'spirits of dead men' at all, but of the aggregate of Great Ones living today, similar to those who lived in the past, and who are the successors, and in some instances, doubtless the reincarnations of the Great Ones of former ages.

Thus, then, it may be taken for granted that Nature is neither more inept than she was in former times, nor deprived of the powers that then she manifested. The old question may here arise in the minds of some as to why these Great Ones, if they still exist, do not come forth before the public and show themselves, allow people to touch them and question them: why they do not prove themselves, in other words, to all the doubting Thomases of our more modern time.

This is a question which has been answered fully and adequately in our Theosophical writings. One may, however, ask the questioner a very simple query: Why on earth should they do so, and whose business is it if they do not do so? Why should they come out before a doubting and skeptical public, which would either worship them as gods on the one hand, if they so appeared, or perhaps persecute them and do them to death, if that were possible. If these Great Ones can pursue their surpassingly splendid work better in the silences of retirement, and utterly unknown of ordinary men, or usually unknown of ordinary men, it would be positive folly for them to choose the path of greatest resistance rather than the one which the experience of ages has shown to be in all senses the best. They have no desire to be made social lions in modern drawing-rooms, or to stand in pulpits or on any modern Areopagus, and preach mysteries to a wide-eyed and openmouthed public. That may be all very well for small men; but as anyone who knows the history of those Great Men can see, precisely the opposite course has invariably been chosen, even by those who appear in the world as Messengers from their own great Brotherhood in times of cyclical crisis, when a new keynote is to be sounded in human hearts and minds. Then they appear indeed, but they are wrapped in the garments of mystery -- in the Greek sense of the word -- and shun, as the average man would a pest, the distracting and corrupting influences of the mob, or the inane and often deadening influence of the drawing-room.

We have moved already a step or two towards the Threshold of the Mystery. Once grant -- as reason and history and human experience and our intuitions compel us to grant -- that their work is utterly unselfish and loftily humanitarian, a work devoted solely to the spiritual and intellectual benefit of their fellow-men, and the foundations are therein laid in proof of H. P. Blavatsky's Mission, and of the Powers behind her who sent her forth to do it.

No sensible workman, having a task of delicacy and importance to perform, selects imperfect tools, or inadequate instruments to perform the work in hand. On precisely similar lines of common sense and reason do the Masters of Life, those Great Seers and Sages of the ages, select the rare few who are born into the world at different times, as their faithful agents for carrying into that world their Message of Truth for men, and of Light for men, and of Liberation for the human race: a liberation which is in no sense of the word the following of a mere political or social nostrum, but a liberation, above all other things, from the chains of personal selfishness and the thraldom of the lower self.

We have given so far a mere outline of the usual manner of presenting the Mystery which enwraps any such Messenger. But it is more particularly on the least known part of this mystery that we wish to elaborate.

A Russian gentlewoman springing from a stock of high ancestral distinction on both sides, showing even from child-days unwonted abilities and extraordinary capacity and power: yet one who at the same time gave most astounding and perplexing evidences of a loftiness of character which both amazed and sorely puzzled those who thought, and vainly thought, that they knew her best. Such was H. P. Blavatsky. The world stands awed and astounded when an individual of power and genius appears and gives evidence of spiritual and intellectual worth! Such human beings are accepted as real enough, although amazing perhaps; but the idea that some human entity can contain in the compass of its own individuality the most splendid mental and psychological characteristics of both physiological divisions of the human race, arouses not merely the awe, not merely the amaze of the ignorant and the thoughtless, but a feeling somewhat akin to that aroused by the appearance of a startling phenomenon. This feeling arises solely from ignorance of the wide and deep reaches of the latent spiritual and mental powers in man.

There is a delightful and quaint old Zulu tale about a maiden who once upon a time went to sleep in a cave after playing with her attendants, and was awakened by hearing voices. What was her amazement, when her eyes opened, to see standing around her a company of apparently human beings, but who, instead of walking as human beings do, proceeded by leaps and bounds; and she noticed in wide-eyed wonder that these individuals had each but one leg! When this dusky Venus arose from her couch and walked towards them, they fled in utmost consternation, and her best efforts could hardly bring them back into her presence -- for she had two legs! She understood their language, and she heard one of them say in a voice in which both horror and indignation as well as awe were evident: "It is a pretty thing, but, oh heavens, look at the two legs!"

And indeed most people seem to be just like this one-legged tribe of story, in their judgment of people and of things that they do not understand. We are all so accustomed to taking things that we see around us for granted, as being the inviolable order of Nature, that we fail to realize that what our senses tell us of regarding surrounding appearances and things is merely the world as these very imperfect physical vehicles of report interpret that world to us. It is actually the Theosophical teaching that there are many mysteries even in our own physical world of which ordinary humanity at the present time knows nothing at all, or is just beginning to learn something of; and furthermore, that the vast ranges in the hierarchical structure of the invisible Universe contain not only substances and energies, but beings of all-various kinds and classes, which the far-distant future, through the evolutionary progress of human beings, will begin to make known to them.

Man's own inner constitution, through and on the same grounds of organization as those just set forth, also contains vast and deep mysteries which man himself, in his present imperfect state of evolutionary development, knows almost nothing of; but the knowledge of which indeed is in the guardianship and possession of the Association of great Sages and Seers. These inner mysteries of man of course are straitly involved in any explanation of such a psychological mystery as is offered by the great Sages and Seers, and by their various Messengers, such as H. P. Blavatsky was.

Only real genius -- indeed something more than merely human genius -- only sublime spiritual and intellectual capacity, native to the constitution of some lofty human being, could explain the reason for the choice of such Messengers. But indeed, this is not saying enough; because in addition to genius and to merely native spiritual and intellectual capacity, such a Messenger must possess through initiatory training the capacity of throwing at will the intermediate or psychological nature into a state of perfect quiescence or receptivity for the stream of divine-spiritual inspiration flowing forth from the Messenger's own Inner Divinity or monadic essence. It is obvious that such a combination of rare and unusual qualities is not often found in human beings, and when found, such a one is fit for the work to be done by such a Messenger of the Association of Great Ones.

We do not mean, as might perhaps be supposed from the foregoing by those who are prone quickly to judge, that H. P. Blavatsky was merely an evolutionary forerunner of a future mankind, who, as an individual, foreshadowed the type of the human race to be in distant aeons of the future. That is not our meaning, although there is a certain amount of truth in such a supposition. All great men and women are in a certain sense forerunners of what is to come in racial development; for, as everyone knows, coming events do verily cast their shadows before a wonderful suggestion and truthful proverb. Our meaning will become clear as we proceed in our study.

Chapter III