The Messenger Nicholas Roerich Museum, Moscow
THE ORIGINS OF MODERN THEOSOPHICAL LITERATURE AND THE INTENTIONS BEHIND THE FOUNDING OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
As generation succeeds generation the memories of the past with their heroes and achievements tend to be overlaid by the more recent ones, the older memories being submerged or forgotten.
This trilogy is an attempt to revitalize old memories so that the present generation can know something of, and perhaps be inspired by, the stories of the Great Ones who were responsible for the advent of Theosophy at the end of the nineteenth century.
Those who worked in the physical world to promote the message were mostly ordinary men and women but some of them possessed some extraordinary qualities, one in particular very extraordinary ones. That one was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Inspiring and helping her, not only with support but with material for her great literary works, were the Adepts in the knowledge whom she acknowledged as her Teachers.
The existence of Initiated Adepts, usually operating from behind the scenes, is very germane to this story. They were variously known as Masters of the Wisdom, or simply Brothers or Initiates. Over the years these figures have been accepted by some at least as ideas, and sometimes idealized. The fact of their existence has, however, to be recognized if what follows is to be understood.
These Masters are the products of hastened evolution by self-development. Their inner or subjective faculties are developed beyond the stage achieved by humanity in general. For various reasons they tend to isolate themselves from the environment and circumstances of normal life. This is chiefly because of the purification of their vehicles of consciousness which renders them abnormally sensitive to the relatively crude atmosphere created by unregenerate humanity in the mass. However they can and do communicate with those who have suitably prepared themselves by way of long periods of correct living according to the laws of inner Nature. H.P.B. was one of those who had qualified herself to communicate and commune with them.
During the last quarter of the 19th century two members of one of these Brotherhoods of Adepts felt that the time might be opportune to make an attempt to make available some of their knowledge of the nature and inner workings of Nature herself. This knowledge is traditionally that of the esoteric or occult sciences; the Masters were not only Adepts in this knowledge but guardians of it.
These two Masters felt not only that some members of the human family at that time might be so developed as to be able to 'see' and 'hear' something of their great message but that such an attempt should be made to help mankind along its proper evolutionary path. They saw humanity's almost exclusive self-interested materialism as a great danger to its future well-being.
Their message was to acquaint man with his essential spiritual nature, and with his identity with Nature herself and thereby with all of his fellow men. Their message was predominantly to promote a universal brotherhood.
From ancient times there have been in the world various more or less secret societies and brotherhoods with some knowledge of these secrets of Nature. These organizations, open only to a select few, had their own literature and practices for the development of psychic and spiritual faculties. They not only imposed secrecy on their members but instilled disciplines, and had their own ceremonies and rituals reminiscent of those of the Ancient Mysteries. These brotherhoods may have been brotherly within themselves but they did little to form a universal brotherhood. It appears that the Masters felt that such a universal brotherhood could only be successfully established on the basis of a knowledge of some of the elements common to all these movements. They were prepared to give out as an experiment a limited overall synthesis of this knowledge publicly for the first time.
For this purpose they needed a suitable agent to work in the physical world. This agent would have to be possessed of the necessary capabilities and qualities to be able to do the work of making available, in writing, the information they had to give. Such a one was H.P. Blavatsky (H.P.B.)
The story of H.P.B's life has been written in many places and it does not have a part in this short introduction. There were no others with her qualifications available at the time, and it is apparent that there have not been any since. This may immediately seem an unjustified statement but as students become familiar with her works they cannot but realize how unique she was. It is apparent that none yet has equalled her. This becomes obvious to anyone who will study her works attentively and with an open mind.
It is important to realize that H.P.B's Masters were men living in the world, in physical bodies. They were, however, possessed of marvellous powers as can be inferred from what follows. They were, for example, able to project "bodies of illusion" and transfer their consciousness to them. In such bodies they could visit and converse with people, as if they were actually present in the flesh. They were certainly not 'ascended' and judging by their own account of what happens after their death, they could not be so. They have to go through the same post mortem processes as all do. This does not mean that there are not high-grade discarnate entities but that is another story.
The purpose of this book is twofold: first to remind us of the Masters' direct involvement in the production of the two classics Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine which gives them an authenticity that no other theosophical writings can claim. They contain the mass of esoteric information that forms the basis for all later theosophical writings. Secondly it indicates the Masters' intention that the Theosophical Society should be the Corner Stone of future religions, the only true basis of which is Nature.
C.W. The Collected Writings of H.P. Blavatsky, 14 volumes
S.D. The Secret Doctrine
I.U. Isis Unveiled
KEY The Key to Theosophy
V.S. The Voice of the Silence
M.L. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett - chronological edition
There is a very wide literature covering the subjects touched on in the foregoing articles but it is suggested that the writings of H.P. Blavatsky be taken to be the most informative and authoritative that are available. Her knowledge was from two sources, her Initiate Teachers and her own knowledge.
For the writings of H. P. Blavatsky see: The Publications of H.P. Blavatsky (HPB)
OTHER BOOKS CONSISTENT WITH H.P.BLAVATSKY'S WRITINGS
1. THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P.SINNETT : 1923; first published by Rider & Co., London; 500 pages.
This is a volume of letters received from H.P.B.'s two initiate Teachers, in answer to questions put to them mostly by A.P. Sinnett with some by A.O. Hume. The letters contain much metaphysical and philosophical teaching in the occult tradition, among material relating to the early days of the Theosophical Society and the people in or associated with it. Many aspects of the teaching, among them those relating to the after-death states, are unique, having been kept secret up to that time. This is a book essential to any serious student of modern Occultism. It is the source of the main principles of the subject given and elaborated in H.P.B.'s writings.
2. TRANSACTIONS OF THE BLAVATSKY LODGE : Theosophical University Press, Covine, California.
A collection of notes, in question and answer form, taken at a series of meetings of the Lodge in the first six months of 1889, when H.P.B. was present.
3. FOUNDATIONS OF ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY : from the writings of H.P. Blavatsky; compiled by I.H. Hoskins; The Theosophical Publishing House, London; 66 pages including a glossary and as an appendix THE SECRET DOCTRINE AND ITS STUDY.
This booklet is a compilation from The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled, of excerpts which summarize the principal aspects of the great teaching.
4. MADAME BLAVATSKY ON HOW TO STUDY THEOSOPHY : The Theosophical Publishing House; 15 pages.
This is a booklet, often referred to as the 'Bowen Notes', containing material written down by Robert Bowen from talks which Madame Blavatsky gave to those near her during the close of her life. The content is in the form of important hints to students.
5. DEITY, COSMOS AND MAN : G.A. Farthing
A summary of the teachings in the classical literature with many references, glossary and index.
As an aid to getting a feeling for the subject and obtaining a perspective view of H.P.B. in the setting of contemporary life, of her character and of the enormous and distressing difficulties she encountered but largely overcame, readers are recommended to read one or two of the reliable biographies :
BOOKS BY HER CONTEMPORARIES
My Guest - H.P. Blavatsky : Francesca Arundale
Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky : Bertram Keightley
Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky : A.P. Sinnett
Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine :
BOOKS BY LATER BIOGRAPHERS
The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky
[comprehensive and definitive] : Sylvia Cranston
Blavatsky and Her Teachers : Jean Overton Fuller
When Daylight Comes : Howard Murphet
Personal Memoirs of H.P. Blavatsky : Mary K. Neff