The 1875-1891 Phase of the Theosophical
Movement Reveals the Cycle of an Adept
John Garrigues (1868-1944) and Helena P. Blavatsky (1831-1891)
The following article was first published by
“Theosophy” magazine, Los Angeles, in May, 1944,
pp. 281-284. It had no indication as to the name of the author.
“The mission of H.P.B. may be stated
simply: she came to arouse a handful of men…”
When, in 1875, H. P. Blavatsky took up the public labors of the Agent of the Theosophical Movement of the nineteenth century, “the materials”, to borrow from the Masonic formula, were far from “ready”, but the architect could wait no longer. It was a case of necessity: unless the age-old truths about the psychic and spiritual nature of man became known in the western world, the moral confusion of the time would increase to the point of literal destruction of the evolutionary hopes of the race. The Teacher, therefore, had to appear.
To carry on publicly the work of an occultist in the nineteenth century – an age of intellectual arrogance and unbelief – meant, as H.P.B. later wrote in The Secret Doctrine, “moral death to the revealer”, yet she was not in the least deterred from her task by this fore-vision of the penalty that would be exacted from her by those she came to help. That was her “vicarious atonement”, the Promethean sacrifice offered willingly by every teacher who comes among men in the dark age of Kali Yug. The spiritual germ of that sacrifice lies latent in the heart of every one of the Manasaputras, who now wear the garments of embodied existence, and who will one day awaken to the larger meaning of their life on earth and begin to live for others.
The mission of H.P.B. may be stated simply: she came to arouse a handful of men to inward perception of their own divinity. “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all things shall be added unto you.” The work of the Theosophical Movement must fail without egos aroused to knowledge of the God within, souls in whom the magic of the spiritual will has begun to establish that faith which cannot be shaken, that knowledge and conviction which, when present in the world and recognized, will surely generate the social energies that are needed to save the western world from ruin.
Because she was a Great Soul, H. P. Blavatsky was able to crack the hard shell of materialism, to penetrate the foggy atmosphere of Spiritualism, to expose the canting claims of theologians. Because men saw her teachings practically embodied in her life, she found students and believers for the doctrines of the Wisdom-Religion. Instructing aspiring occultists, she once wrote, “adapt your thoughts to your plastic potency.” Her own plastic potency was equal to the great thoughts which she transmitted to the West. That is why her words are infused with a living strength; that is why, however recondite and obscure the lines of the investigation recorded in her great works, the student always feels the presence in them of knowledge, first-hand. Theosophists who wonder where their “faith” comes from, and whether or not they have “proved” the Teaching, may reflect on this direct evidence of knowledge in the works of the Teacher. This is not a proof to be lightly set aside.
The course of the Theosophical Movement, from 1875 to 1891, is a progressive revelation of the cycle of an Adept-Teacher – a cycle which also reveals on a grand scale the task of discipleship, since, in time’s maturation, the Movement requires the development of other such teachers.
H.P.B. began with Isis Unveiled. Here, as in all else, she is the teacher, but not overtly. The work is in the style of criticism and analysis; it is iconoclastic of the pervasive prejudices which distort the race mind, exposing and ridiculing the presumptions of an age which acknowledged no instructors but its own oracles. Yet throughout the two volumes of this great work there run both the undercurrent and the overtone of a positive philosophy. Isis contains an occult announcement of the reality of a great body of spiritual knowledge, and of a great body of knowers and teachers. That announcement is its soul, its sign-manual, and its call to the slumbering intuitions of humanity.
All the knowledge of the West is gathered together in the pages of Isis, in essence if not in detail, arrayed, evaluated, and assembled as a vehicle of archaic truth. Slowly the majestic temple of initiation is raised as an ideal form, its noble arches of thought opening the way to the inward path of adeptship.
The work begun with Isis continued in India. There the treasures of the East were re-presented and re-interpreted by H.P.B. as editor of the Theosophist. In America she had recreated into a textbook of occult instruction the crude materials of Spiritualism. In India, the grand philosophic structures of antiquity were made to exhibit once again the life which had first inspired them. What had been only speculations and scholastic refinements to orientalists grew under her hand to precise statements of occult metaphysics, demonstrable laws of man’s inner being and the cosmic principles of the natural world.
When the preliminary work in India had been accomplished, when the materials inherited from the past had been worked up and made malleable to the Teacher’s will, H.P.B. moved to England, where she founded the magazine Lucifer. There began the cycle of instruction that was to provide the West with The Secret Doctrine, The Key to Theosophy, The Voice of the Silence and the Theosophical Glossary. These texts declared H.P.B. the Teacher. Now the apex of the cycle had been reached. H.P.B.’s articles in Lucifer are the forthright, practical instructions of an occultist. Now she is able to speak with an authority that had accumulated from the beginning, out of progressive demonstrations and the witness of the past.
She made no “claims”, it is true, yet, to the intuitional, H.P.B.’s place in the great historical drama is clearly enough defined. She pointed out how critical was the nature of the period in which the race was engaged, and what was at stake for the future. Her warnings and prophecies afford some intimation of the degree of responsibility she willingly assumed, the powers she knowingly employed, and the trust she consciously fulfilled.
On May 8, 1891, slain by the betrayals and follies of those who called themselves theosophists, she left the scene. Her work was done – done as well as it could be, under the circumstances and with the materials at hand. The Teaching was recorded. A few earnest disciples had been found and fostered. She had seen a vision of the future, in which her labors were to be carried on by others into the twentieth century – on to 1975. A nucleus had been formed, to live and grow, seeing in little the vision that she had seen in large, and following the road she had cut through the thickets of human prejudice, deceit and ignorance. But whatever their achievement, her strength of soul made it possible. Her egoic power made them seek within themselves an identical inspiration, and find something of the stalwart courage that has been hers. For the genius of the great Teachers is the genius of every human being, only, in Them, full-born to the work of awakened souls.
It is the ever-present knowledge of man’s divinity, and the unfailing determination to live and act as gods on earth, the gods we all have been and may once more become. This knowledge, this determination, makes of students chelas, of learners teachers, and turns the sufferings of discipleship into the joy of altruism. Out of the great affirmation of man’s life as soul, the growing realization of the rooted spiritual existence of souls in the One Self, is born the conviction which can not tremble from doubt, the resolve which waxes and strengthens on weaknesses overcome.
Nothing less than the aroused divinity in the few can awaken the slumbering humanity in the many. Only the strong cry of souls who see, and who begin to know, can fan the despairing hopes of the multitude to try, try again. But as the voice of conviction grows, and as the clear and fitting symmetry of the teachings is revealed to sight, in full support of that conviction, hearts and minds will be touched, and wills inclined to return to the search for truth. That is what the Theosophical Movement is for. That was H.P.B.’s purpose in coming, and will be the purpose of the Teacher when He comes again. And that is the life, the hope, the empire and the victory of the disciples of H.P.B.
See in our associated websites the article “Life and Writings of John Garrigues”.
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.