Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2003.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891)

H.P.B. Speaks

When years ago, we first travelled over the East, we came into contact with certain men, endowed with such mysterious powers and such profound knowledge that we may truly designate them as the sages of the Orient.  To their instructions we lent a ready ear.

During my Eastern travels, I have lived at different periods in Little Tibet as in Great Tibet, and these combined periods form more than seven years.  I have stopped in Lamaistic convents; I have visited Tzi-gadze, the Tashi-Lhunpo territory and its neighborhood, and I have been further in, and in such places of Tibet as have never been visited by any other European.

Much of the teaching found in my writings come from these sages of the Orient, our Eastern Masters.  Many a passage in my works has been written by me under their dictation.  In saying this no supernatural claim is urged, for no miracle is performed by such a dictation. 

Space and time do not exist for thought; and if the persons are in perfect mutual magnetic rapport, and of these two, one is a great adept in Occult Sciences, then thought-transference and dictation of whole pages, become as easy and as comprehensible at the distance of ten thousand miles as the transference of two words across the room.

I was sent to America in 1873 by these Masters to prove the spiritualistic phenomena and their reality, and to show the fallacy of the spiritualistic theories of “spirits.”   I did not want people at large to know that I could produce the same thing at will.  I had received orders to the contrary.  I found Colonel Henry S. Olcott investigating the Eddy mediums at Chittenden, Vermont and was ordered to let him know that spiritualistic phenomena without the philosophy of occultism were dangerous and misleading.  I proved to him that all that mediums could do through “spirits,” others could do at will without any “spirits” at all; that thought-reading, raps and physical phenomena could be achieved by anyone who had a faculty of acting in his physical body through the organs of his astral body.  I had the faculty ever since I was a child.  I would make furniture move and objects fly apparently, and my astral arms (that supported them) remained invisible.

I told Colonel Olcott that I had known Adepts, not only in India and beyond Ladakh, but in Egypt and Syria.  Adepts are everywhere adepts, silent, secret, retiring, and who never divulge themselves entirely to anyone unless one did as I did –  passed seven and ten years’ probation, and gave proofs of absolute devotion.  I fulfilled the requirements, and am what I am.

There are several esoteric schools –  the seat of which is beyond the Himalayas and whose ramifications may be found in China, Japan, India, Tibet, and even in Syria, and also in South America.  There is beyond the Himalayas a nucleus of these Adepts of various nationalities.  The Tashi or Panchen Lama of Tibet, a high initiate, knows these Adepts, and they act together.  Some of these Adepts are with him and yet remain unknown in their true character to the average lama.  My Master Morya and the Master Koot Hoomi and several others known personally are there, and they are all in communication with Adepts in Egypt and Syria, and even in Europe.  I was the first in the United States to bring the existence of our Masters into publicity; and exposed the names of two Members of this Brotherhood hitherto unknown in Europe and America, yet sacred and revered throughout the East, especially in India.

We call them “Masters” because they are our teachers; and because from them we have derived all the Theosophical truths.  They are living men, born as we are born, and die like every other mortal.  They are men of great learning and still greater holiness of life.  They are not ascetics in the ordinary sense.  Neither of the Mahatmas, whose names are known in the West, are monks.

For long ages, one generation of these Adepts after another has studied the mysteries of being, of life, death and rebirth.  By the training of faculties we all possess but which they alone have developed to perfection, the Adepts have entered in Spirit the various superphysical planes and states of Nature.

Of course, from Emmanual Swedenborg onwards, there have been many seers who profess to gather their knowledge of other worlds from actual observation, but such persons are isolated, and subject to the delusions of isolation.  But in the case of regularly-initiated seers it must be remembered that we are dealing with a long series of persons, who, warned of the confusing circumstances into which they pass when their spiritual perceptions are trained to range beyond material limits, are so enabled to penetrate to the actual realities of things; and who constitute a vast body of seers, who check each other’s conclusions, test each other’s discoveries and formulate their visions into a science of spirit as precise and entirely trustworthy as are the conclusions, as far as they go, of any branch of physical science.

The flashing gaze of these seers has penetrated into the very soul of things.  Again, let me repeat, the system of thought in question is no fancy of one or several isolated individuals.  It is the uninterrupted record covering thousands of generations of seers whose respective experiences were tested and verified by other Adepts.  These “Wise Men” have passed their lives in learning by checking, testing and verifying, in every department of Nature, the traditions of old, by the independent visions of great Adepts, who are men who have developed and perfected their physical, psychic, mental and spiritual organizations to the utmost possible degree.  No vision of one Adept was accepted till it was checked and confirmed by the visions –  so obtained as to stand as independent evidence –  of other Adepts, and by centuries of experiences.

Anyway, my Master sent me to the United States to see what could be done to stop necromancy and the unconscious black magic exercised by the Spiritualists.  Then my Master brought orders to form the Theosophical Society, which was founded in 1875 at New York by Colonel Olcott and myself, helped by W.Q. Judge and several others.  Its avowed object was at first the scientific investigation of psychic or so-called “spiritualistic” phenomena.  Colonel Olcott and I went from New York to Bombay, India in 1878-1879.  After our arrival at Bombay, our Society began to grow.  At this point, the Society’s three chief objects were declared, namely:

(1) to form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color;

(2) to promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, philosophies, and sciences; and

(3)  to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychic powers of man.

Taking the three divisions of our objects in order, let us see what has actually been accomplished during the years of the Society’s existence:

First, as regards object number one, let it be noticed that we have done things on the broadest possible scale, dealing with nations in the mass as well as with individuals or small groups.  In the East we found division between sects, castes and races; the ancient religions neglected and by the educated classes unappreciated; the pride of race, reverence for ancestors, and patriotic spirit almost extinguished.  Now the traveller will be struck with the brotherliness which has begun to prevail and the resuscitation of interest in ancestral character, achievements, and literature.  The whole of India has become leavened with the benign influence emanating from the Society and its members.  In Ceylon we have revived and begun to purify Buddhism, established schools, circulated literature, induced the government to proclaim Buddha’s birthday a public holiday, and brought the Sinhalese Buddhists into direct relations with their Japanese co-religionists.  This is what we have done in the East.  As to Europe, as we began to work in earnest here only several years ago, the effects hardly begin to be perceived as yet.

As regards the second object, the whole press of India, Ceylon, and Japan unqualifiedly give us the credit of having done more in the revival of Oriental literature than any other agency in modern times.  We have not only helped to revive in India the pandit-schools of Sanskrit literature and philosophy, and to reawaken reverence for the class of real Yogis, or saintly devotees, but we have created a demand for reprints and translations of ancient Sanskrit classics.  Nor should it be overlooked that the prevalent interest in Theosophy and mystical Oriental philosophy in general, which the most casual observer is forced to see throughout Europe and America, is directly or indirectly the result of our Society’s activity.  Of course, it is not for me to say how much, if anything, the books I have myself written, and the magazines I have edited and am editing in English and French, have helped to cause this new bent of the Western mind.

Now as to the third object on our list, suffice to say that many investigators have been led to discriminate much more closely between the various classes of psychic and spiritualistic phenomena, while much has been done to weaken the sentimental, but unphilosophical and superstitious, teachings of the Spiritualists.

So much for the Theosophical Society.  Now concerning the accusations that have been made that I am an impostor and charlatan, skillful conjurer of bogus psychic phenomena, I beg leave to remark that personally I have never bragged of anything I might have done, nor do I offer any explanation of the occult phenomena I performed, except to utterly disclaim the performing of anything by jugglery –  i.e., with the usual help of confederates and machinery.  I have lived long enough in this world of incessant strife to have learned that when I have once allowed my name to be publicly associated with the “occult” production of  “cups”, “saucers”, and “brooches”, I must bear the penalty; especially when people are so foolish as to take the word “Magic” either in its popular superstitious sense –  that of the work of the devil –  or in that of jugglery.  Being neither a professional medium nor a professional anything, and making my experiments in “occult phenomena” but in the presence of a few friends –  I have a right to claim from the public a little more fairness and politeness than are usually accorded paid jugglers.

If my friends insist upon publishing about “occult phenomena” taking place in their presence, they should preface their narratives with the following statement: Theosophy believes in no miracle; recognizes nothing as supernatural; studies the laws of Nature, both occult and patent, and gives attention particularly to the occult, just because exact Science will have nothing to do with them.  The time must come when the perfection of Asiatic psychology and its knowledge of the forces of the invisible world will be recognized, as were the circulation of the blood, electricity, etc.

My alleged “silly attempts to hoodwink individuals” will then be viewed as honest attempts at proving the existence and reality of the invisible realm and the forces of that domain.  But my occult phenomena failed to produce the desired effect, but they were, in no sense of the word, “miracles”.  It was supposed that intelligent people, especially men of science, would, at least, have recognized the existence of a new and deeply interesting field of enquiry and research when they witnessed physical effects produced at will, for which they were not able to account.  It was supposed that theologians would have welcomed the proof, of which they stand so sadly in need in these agnostic days, that the soul and spirit are not mere creations of their fancies due to ignorance of the physical constitution of man, but entities quite real as the body and much more important.  These expectations were not realized.  The occult phenomena I produced were misunderstood and misrepresented, both as regards their nature and their purpose.

It was in hope of arousing and utilizing the spirit of curiosity that occult phenomena were shown.  It was believed that this manipulation of occult forces of nature would have led to enquiry into the nature and the laws of these forces, unknown to science, but perfectly known to Occultism.  That the phenomena did excite curiosity in the minds of those who witnessed them, is certainly true, but it was, unfortunately, for the most part of an idle kind.  The greater number of the witnesses developed an insatiable appetite for phenomena for their own sake, without any thought of studying the philosophy or the science of whose truth and power the phenomena were merely trivial and, so to say, accidental illustrations.  In but a few cases the curiosity which was awakened gave birth to the serious desire to study the philosophy and science themselves and for their own sake.

Modern science, as well as religion, labors under certain disabilities with respect to the investigation of the Occult.  For while religion cannot grasp the idea of natural law as applied to the superphysical Universe, Science does not allow for the existence of any superphysical Universe at all to which the reign of law could be extended; nor can it conceive the possibility of any other state of consciousness than our present terrestrial one.  So science proceeded at once to pooh-pooh the occult phenomena; and, when obliged to express some kind of opinion, it did not hesitate, without examination and on hearsay reports, to attribute them to fraudulent contrivances – wires, trapdoors –  and confederates and to proclaim that I was “one of the most accomplished, ingenious, and interesting impostors in history”.  I found myself set down as a “super adept” in the charlatan line!  Make no mistake, I deny most solemnly the charges brought forward against me in Richard Hodgson’s 1885 “Report” for the London Society for Psychical Research.

There is not in that voluminous “Report” one single charge that would stand a legal investigation and be shown correct.  All in it is personal inference, hypotheses and unwarranted assumptions and conclusions.  That Mr. Hodgson’s elaborate but misdirected enquiries, his affected precision, which spends infinite patience over trifles and is blind to facts of importance, his contradictory reasoning and his manifold incapacity to deal with such problems as there he endeavoured to solve, will be exposed by other writers in due course –  I make no doubt.  Mr. Hodgson has been base enough to concoct the assumption that I am a Russian political agent (a spy), mining the British Government in India!  I repudiate Mr. Hodgson’s groundless and infamous calumny with a concentration of the general contempt his method of procedure in this enquiry seems to me to merit, and to be equally deserved by the committee of the Society he has served.  They have shown themselves by their wholesale adoption of his blunders, a group of persons less fitted to explore the mysteries of psychic phenomena than I should have thought could have been found among educated men in England.

When I am dead and gone, people will, perhaps, appreciate my disinterested motives.  I have pledged my word to help people on to Truth while living and will keep my word.  Let them revile me.  Let some call me a medium and a spiritualist, and others an impostor.  The day will come when posterity will know me better.  Oh, poor, foolish, credulous, wicked world!

Let me repeat, never were the occult phenomena presented in any character than that of instances of a power over perfectly natural though unrecognized forces, and incidentally over matter, possessed by certain individuals who have attained to a larger and higher knowledge of the Universe than have been reached by scientists and theologians.  Yet this power is latent in all men, and could, in time, be wielded by anyone who would cultivate the knowledge and conform to the conditions necessary for development.

An occultist can produce phenomena, but he cannot supply the world with brains, nor the intelligence and good faith necessary to understand and appreciate them.  Therefore, it is hardly to be wondered at, that word came from my Masters to abandon phenomena and let the ideas of Theosophy stand on their own intrinsic merits.

With all our many failures, at least we may claim to have placed before the thinking public a logical, coherent, and philosophical scheme of man’s origin, destiny, and evolution – a scheme preeminent above all else for its rigorous adherence to justice.  And, that we may broaden our criterion of truth, our research extends to an enquiry into the nature of the less known forces, cosmic and psychical.  In one word, our whole aim and desire are to help, in at least some degree, toward arriving at correct scientific views upon the nature of man, which carry with them the means of reconstructing for the present generation the deductive metaphysical or transcendental philosophy which alone is the firm, unshakable foundation of every religious philosophy.

H.P. Blavatsky

[Note:  The above material has been collated from the various writings of Madame Blavatsky.  The extracts have been transcribed from the original sources but material not relevant to the subject has been silently deleted.  H.P.B.'s text has been somewhat edited; a number of explanatory words, phrases and sentences have been added from time to time to the original text to make the overall narrative more easily read. The additions have not been placed in brackets.]

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