by Robert Wilkinson
When asked long ago who I would most like to spend an evening with, without any hesitation I answered "Helena Blavatsky." She was truly one of the most remarkable women of history, and besides a host of interesting personality qualities that would keep anyone enchanted for a lifetime, she possessed a phenomenal mind, very advanced "psychic" powers cultivated in Tibet, and absolute integrity. She traveled her world extensively, and stories of her influence are the stuff of legend. (I realize some might think of speaking with Christ, Buddha, Zoroaster, Abraham, Babaji, or Mohammed, but most of us could not have much of a conversation with such beings. We might be in awe, but the evening might be fairly one-sided.)
Helena Blavatsky's dharma was to offer the world the "ageless wisdom," also known as Theosophy, through a series of articles and books, the most famous of which are "Isis Unveiled" and "The Secret Doctrine." The first shredded materialistic science and religion as they dominated the world in the 19th century, and though the style of "Isis Unveiled" is hectic and often digressive, it still shows irrefutably the inconsistencies and errors of materialistic rationalism, as well as superstitious religious belief systems, most of which still dominate the sciences and religions of our present world.
Her masterwork, "The Secret Doctrine," is a direct translation of some ancient Commentaries from Tibetan and other sources of great antiquity, and offers a voluminous account of "Cosmogenesis" and "Anthropogenesis." Though attacked by detractors, there was never a time when she was proved a fraud or hypocrite. With others, she founded the world-wide "theosophical" movement, dedicated to studying the wisdom of the East and West, that all of humanity might come out of its collective ignorance of thousands of years, and reclaim its high calling among the natural orders of life.
There are many "theosophical" groups, some corrupt, some functioning as custodians of the Wisdom traditions. This article is not to convince you to join any of them, but instead results from something I read that has important points for all of us, regardless of our local belief systems. So let's explore some fragments from something HPB (as she was usually called) wrote about 130 years ago that seem to be universally applicable. It will be useful to substitute "we" or "us" for T.S., or the Theosophical Society, since it becomes even more personally relevant, if we are to establish our integrity in our search for meaningful truth as we are able to know it. HPB states her guiding principles in establishing the Theosophical Society, which are also universal principles for all truth seeking Souls:
"(1) - The Founders had to exercise all their influence to oppose selfishness of any kind, by insisting on sincere fraternal feelings, the great diversity of creeds not withstanding; expecting and demanding ... a great mutual help in the research of truths in every domain - moral or physical - and even, in daily life."
"(2) They had to oppose in the strongest manner possible anything approaching dogmatic faith and fanaticism - belief in the infallibility of the Masters,... a great respect for the private views and creeds of every member was demanded.... The greatest spirit of free research untrammeled by anyone or anything, had to be encouraged."
She was dedicated to furthering the fellowship of humanity, and loathed dogmatism. She thought these are proved by human behavior, and how we live.
"Theosophy must be made practical, and has, therefore, to be disencumbered of useless discussion... It has to find objective expression in an all-embracing code of life thoroughly impregnated with its spirit - the spirit of mutual tolerance, charity and love.... The problem of true theosophy and its great mission is the working out of clear, unequivocal conceptions of ethic ideas and duties which would satisfy most and best the altruistic and right feeling in us, and the modelling of these conceptions for their adaptation into such forms of daily life where they may be applied with most equitableness."
She argued against prejudice in all forms, and asserted the universality of the human condition, regardless of race, sex, social status, nationality, religion, creed, and cultural expression. All are equal, and the Truth must be sought without compromise. Her motto for the TS was "There is no religion higher than Truth." I wholeheartedly accept this dictum. To paraphrase the great philosopher (and wag) Alan Watts, "The disciples and followers of the great Spiritual Teachers didn't want to LIVE the teachings, so they created religions based in worshipping the persona of the Teacher." The virus of the cults of personality seem to pervade most of the religions of our planet. Maybe that's why there's so much fear and division.
All great Truths must make a positive difference in human behavior. Ideally, they serve as models and working examples of how to live life creatively, free from dogma. All Truth leads us to a more universal point of view and way of relating to others. Toleration and inclusivity are qualities necessary to neutralize the wide-spread thought forms of prejudice and exclusivity that are the source of so much human suffering. In embracing these higher qualities of expression, we naturally attract to ourselves others of like kind. This is the true Sangha of Buddhism, our community that serves as one of the divine "refuges" from worldly delusions and the four mental afflictions. Link to the afflictions that are the source of human suffering here. Link to the antidotes to human suffering here.
All paths to Truth lead to forms of unity, within and without. Individuality is developed without needing to conform to dogmas and superstitous belief systems. The world culture supercedes individual culture, not by negation, but by inclusivity. Bonds of unity are more valuable than ideas that separate. Mutual development is the result of all honest inquiry and debate.
As HPB stated, "Our Society had never certainly any idea of rising superior to the brotherliness and ethics preached by Christ, but only to those of the sham Christianity of the Churches..." An Eastern Master of the Wisdom once attributed two-thirds of the world's suffering on religion. He of course meant institutions that dogmatically define Truth in terms of their own limited ways of interpreting beliefs. Truth is found in that which unifies, not divides. In love, not fear. In universals, not mental constructs corrupted by rigid prejudices that exclude more than they include.
Integrity comes from the same root sound as integration and integral. These comcepts imply inclusivity, wholeness, and therefore a degree of universality. By abandoning integrity, the ability to realize the power from living one's higher Truth of Being is lost. However, in our integrity and search for Truth we provide the substance for the higher ideal of humanity. As HPB was told by her Teacher, "You and your colleagues may help furnish the materials for a needed universal religious philosophy; one impregnable to scientific assault because itself the finality of absolute science; and, a religion, that is indeed worthy of the name, since it includes the relations of man physical to man psychical, and of the two to all that is above and below them."
There is a universal fellowship of humanity. There is only one race - the human race. There are powers latent in the human vehicle that are beyond most people's imagination. We are evolving, individually and collectively, toward an ideal that would enchant us all and encourage us forever, if we would consider our higher possibilities rather than cling to obsolete points of view, philosophically and personally.
Individually and collectively, humanity is on the path of Self-realization, and learning to live forms of higher awareness that will forever shatter the lie of separateness dividing us from ourselves and each other. We are here to diminish "self-ishness," i.e., too much obsession with the impermanent self, and through radical unconditional Love expressed in forms of courage and openness, come to see our true effectiveness in the Universal order. We are One evolving Light-Life moving into awarenesses of matter and energy beyond anything previously known. Embracing the eternal and universal Wisdom tradition destroys obsolete belief systems forever, and eventually makes us Masters of the Wisdom, serving our world in our own way and time. And HPB opened the door. Aum namah Shivaya!
(Originally posted January 13, 2005)