Blavatsky and Christianity: Her Fundamental Christological Disputes and Her Defense of the Theosophical Position
“There are several ways of acquiring knowledge:
(a) by accepting blindly the dicta of the church or modern science;
(b) by rejecting both and starting to find the truth for oneself.
The first method is easy and leads to social respectability and the praise of men; the other is difficult and requires more than ordinary devotion to truth, a disregard for direct personal benefits and an unwavering perseverance…” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Lucifer, Vol. VI, No. 34, June 1890, pg. 333)
This provides the words mostly of Helena Blavatsky about her disputes on the nature of Christ. The Liberator-God in Ancient Religion: Salvation and Resurrection of the Initiated will also help you understand how this concept predates its later transformation into the Christian dogma and creed.
In H.P.B.’s time, Christian authors had already poorly argued, that the origins of Theosophy were from “Nephilim,” or the fallen angels of Genesis. Many modern Christians interpret everything as fallen angels. Indian exoteric accounts have the Asura. Jews had another meaning of them:
“This proves once more that the so-called “myths,” in order to be at least approximately dealt with in any degree of justice, have to be closely examined from all their aspects. In truth, every one of the seven Keys has to be used in its right place, and never mixed with the others, if we would unveil the entire cycle of mysteries. In our day of dreary soul-killing materialism, the ancient priest Initiates have become, in the opinion of our learned generations, the synonyms of clever impostors, kindling the fires of superstition in order to obtain an easier sway over the minds of men. This is an unfounded calumny, generated by scepticism and uncharitable thoughts. No one believed more in Gods — or, we may call them, the Spiritual and now invisible Powers, or Spirits, the noumena of the phenomena — than they did; and they believed just because they knew. If, initiated into the Mysteries of Nature, they were forced to withhold their knowledge from the profane, who would have surely abused it, such secrecy was undeniably less dangerous than the policy of their usurpers and successors. The former taught only that which they well knew. The latter, teaching what they do not know, have invented, as a secure haven for their ignorance, a jealous and cruel Deity, who forbids man to pry into his mysteries under the penalty of damnation. As well they may, for his mysteries can at best be only hinted at in polite ears, never described. (…) It is not the key of St. Peter, or the Church dogma, but the narthex — the wand of the candidate for initiation — that has to be wrenched from the grasp of the long-silent Sphinx of the ages.” (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2., pg. 517-18)
These two passages from the “NEW TESTAMENT” have been used against almost any school and religion by the Christians:
“Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son.” (1 John 2:22, NIV)
“I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” (2 John 1:7, NIV)
Judging by these quotes — and it always feels we are being weightily judged by the words in these scriptures — we are heretics and “anti-CHRIST.”
“Many and many a time the warning about the “false Christs” and prophets who shall lead people astray has been interpreted by charitable Christians, the worshippers of the dead-letter of their scripture, as applying to mystics generally, and Theosophists most especially.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Esoteric Character of the Gospels)
“Nevertheless, it seems very evident that the words in Matthew’s Gospel and others can hardly apply to Theosophists. For these were never found saying that Christ is “Here” or “There,” in wilderness or city, and least of all in the “inner chamber” behind the altar of any modern church. Whether Heathen or Christian by birth, they refuse to materialize and thus degrade that which is the purest and grandest ideal — the symbol of symbols — namely, the immortal Divine Spirit in man, whether it be called Horus, Krishna, Buddha, or Christ. None of them has ever yet said: “I am the Christ”; for those born in the West feel themselves, so far, only Chrestians, however much they may strive to become Christians in Spirit. It is to those, who in their great conceit and pride refuse to win the right of such appellation by first leading the life of Chrestos; to those who haughtily proclaim themselves Christians (the glorified, the anointed) by sole virtue of baptism (…)” (ibid.)
Perhaps, the Churches should reflect on themselves first:
“Can the prophetic insight of him who uttered this remarkable warning be doubted by any one who sees the numerous “false prophets” and pseudo-apostles (of Christ), now roaming over the world? These have split the one divine Truth into fragments, and broken, in the camp of the Protestants alone, the rock of the Eternal Verity into three hundred and fifty odd pieces, which now represent the bulk of their Dissenting sects. (…) Each of these claims to have Christ exclusively in its “inner chamber,” and denies him to all others, while, in truth, the great majority of their respective followers daily put Christ to death on the cruciform tree of matter — the “tree of infamy” of the old Romans — indeed!
The worship of the dead-letter in the Bible is but one more form of idolatry, nothing better (…)” (Ibid.)
Are Theosophists haters of Christianity?
“For what is “Divine Wisdom,” or Gnosis, but the essential reality behind the evanescent appearances of objects in nature — the very soul of the manifested LOGOS? Why should men who strive to accomplish union with the one eternal and absolute Deity shudder at the idea of prying into its mysteries — however awful? Why, above all, should they use names and words the very meaning of which is a sealed mystery to them a mere sound? Is it because an unscrupulous, power-seeking Establishment called a Church has cried “wolf” at every such attempt, and, denouncing it as “blasphemous,” has ever tried to kill the spirit of inquiry? But Theosophy, the “divine Wisdom,” has never heeded that cry, and has the courage of its opinions. The world of sceptics and fanatics may call it, one — an empty “ism” — the other “Satanism”: they can never crush it. Theosophists have been called Atheists, haters of Christianity, the enemies of God and the gods. They are none of these. Therefore, they have agreed this day to publish a clear statement of their ideas, and a profession of their faith — with regard to monotheism and Christianity, at any rate — and to place it before the impartial reader to judge them and their detractors on the merits of their respective faiths.” (The Esoteric Character of the Gospels)
“And now Mr. Hume comes out with his public castigation of the Founders and seeks to prohibit the advertisement of anti-Christian pamphlets. I want you, therefore, to please bear this in mind, and point out these facts to Col. Chesney, who seems to imagine that theosophy is hostile but to Christianity; whereas it is but impartial, and whatever the personal views of the two Founders, the journal of the Society has nothing to do with them, and will publish as willingly criticism directed against Lamaism as against Christianism.” (K.H., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter no. 54, Received Simla, October, 1882.)
The concept of ‘Christōs,’ ‘Father and the Son,’ did not solely begin with, nor belongs to the “Christian” so-called. The title belongs, in ancient context to the Solar-priests and Solar-INITIATES. It is of the oracular vocabulary, and a concept belonging to the great Solar mystery of the τριπλάσιος (triplásios), i.e., “mysteries connected with the Sun’s constitution” (The Secret Doctrine Würzburg Manuscript 1885-86 Version, pg. 89, fn. 94., Eastern School Press 2014).
The “sons of God” were Solar-priests and Solar-INITIATES.
“Every initiate of the “last hour” became, by the very fact of his initiation, a son of God. When Maxime, the Ephesian, initiated the Emperor Julian into the Mithraic Mysteries, he pronounced as the usual formula of the rite, the following: “By this blood, I wash thee from thy sins. The Word of the Highest has entered unto thee, and His Spirit henceforth will rest upon the NEWLY-BORN, the now-begotten of the Highest God. . . . Thou art the son of Mithra.” “Thou art the ‘Son of God,‘ ” repeated the disciples after Christ’s baptism.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., p. 567)
Eucharist symbol example of Catholic Pope as a solar-priest.
“The “Christ principle,” the awakened and glorified Spirit of Truth, being universal and eternal, the true Christos cannot be monopolized by any one person, even though that person has chosen to arrogate to himself the title of the “Vicar of Christ,” or of the “Head” of that or another State-religion. The spirits of “Chrest” and “Christ” cannot be confined to any creed or sect, only because that sect chooses to exalt itself above the heads of all other religions or sects. The name has been used in a manner so intolerant and dogmatic, especially in our day, that Christianity is now the religion of arrogance par excellence, a stepping-stone for ambition, a sinecure for wealth, sham and power; a convenient screen for hypocrisy.” The noble epithet of old (…) is now degraded. The missionary prides himself with the so-called conversion of a heathen, who makes of Christianity ever a profession, but rarely a religion, a source of income from the missionary fund, and a pretext, since the blood of Jesus has washed them all by anticipation, for every petty crime, from drunkenness and lying up to theft. That same missionary, however, would not hesitate to publicly condemn the greatest saint to eternal perdition and hell fires if that holy man has only neglected to pass through the fruitless and meaningless form of baptism by water with accompaniment of lip prayers and vain ritualism. (Ibid.)
The Christ within:
“Take Paul, read the little of the original that is left of him in the writings attributed to this brave, honest, sincere man, and see whether any one can find a word therein to show that Paul meant by the word Christ anything more than the abstract ideal of the personal divinity indwelling in man. For Paul, Christ is not a person, but an embodied idea. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation,” he is reborn, as after initiation, for the Lord is spirit – the spirit of man. Paul was the only one of the apostles who had understood the secret ideas underlying the teachings of Jesus, although he had never met him.” (Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, pg. 574)
The allegory of the risen Christ:
(a) “the coming of Christ,” means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of “Christ” Jesus; (b) this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor “in the inner chambers,” nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ — the true esoteric SAVIOR — is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the “sepulcher” of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him. The “Son of Man” is no child of the bond-woman — flesh, but verily of the free-woman — Spirit (…)” (Ibid.)
Blavatsky identifies the Christ with the seventh principle of the Theosophical human classifications, or the universal Spirit (non-dual Self), i.e., the Upaniṣadic ātman, or anātman.
Christōs is also synonymous with Krishna (the Supreme Soul).
It is said to Arjuna in the Gita:
“I am the Self, O Guḍākeśa. I am the Self
which exists in the heart of all beings; and I
am the beginning and the middle,
and also the end of existing things.”
Now, Revelation 22:13:
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First
and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
Helena Blavatsky does not mince words, and gives the most unapologetic, and clear statements in her writings concerning the mission of the Modern Theosophists. Simply, the Modern Theosophists saw themselves as the successors of the Neo-Platonists. The aim H.P.B. notes of the Theosophical Movement was meant to ignite a “RENAISSANCE.”
One of the objects among the T h e o s o p h i s t is explained in Isis Unveiled. This object was “to experiment practically in the occult powers of Nature, and to collect and disseminate among Christians information about the Oriental religious philosophies. Later, it has determined to spread among the “poor benighted heathen” such evidences as to the practical results of Christianity as will at least give both sides of the story to the communities among which missionaries are at work. With this view it has established relations with associations and individuals throughout the East, to whom it furnishes authenticated reports of the ecclesiastical crimes and misdemeanors, schisms and heresies, controversies and litigations, doctrinal differences and biblical criticisms and revisions, with which the press of Christian Europe and America constantly teems. Christendom has been long and minutely informed of the degradation and brutishness into which Buddhism, Brahmanism, and Confucianism have plunged their deluded votaries, and many millions have been lavished upon foreign missions under such false representations. The Theosophical Society, seeing daily exemplifications of this very state of things as the sequence of Christian teaching and example — the latter especially — thought it simple justice to make the facts known in Palestine, India, Ceylon, Cashmere, Tartary, Thibet, China, and Japan, in all which countries it has influential correspondents. It may also in time have much to say about the conduct of the missionaries to those who contribute to their support” (H.P.B., Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1., pg.).
“One of such objects of our Society we are willing to publicly announce.
It is universally known that this most important object is to antagonize Christianity and especially Jesuitism. One of our most esteemed and valued members, once an ardent Spiritualist, but who must for the present be nameless, has but recently fallen a victim to the snares of this hateful body.
The nefarious designs of Jesuitism are plotted in secret and carried out through secret agencies (…) We have among us persons in high position — political, military, financial and social — who regard Christianity as the greatest evil to humanity, and are willing to help pull it down. But for them to be able to do much and well, they must do it anonymously. The Church — “triple-headed snake” as a well-known writer calls it — can no longer burn its enemies but it can blast their social influence; can no longer roast their bodies, but can ruin their fortunes. We have no right to give our enemy, the Church, the names of our “Fellows,” who are not ripe for martyrdom, and so we keep them secret. If we have an agent to send to India or to Japan, or China, or any other heathen country, to do something or confer with somebody in connection with the Society’s general plans against missionaries, it would be foolish, nay, criminal, to expose our agent to imprisonment under some malicious pretext, if not death, and even the latter is possible in the far-away East, and our scheme is liable to miscarry by announcing it to the dishonourable company of Jesus [i.e. the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits] (….)
And so far from its threatening in any respect the stability of society or the advancement of spiritual knowledge, the Theosophical institution (…) will be found some day, by the Spiritualists and all others who claim the right of thinking for themselves, to have been the true friend of intellectual and spiritual liberty (…) Its name will be respected as a pioneer of free thought and an uncompromising enemy of priestly and monkish fraud and despotism.” (“Parting Words” first published in “The Religio-Philosophical Journal” in the USA, July 1878. Reproduced above from “A Modern Panarion” pg. 189-190, published by Theosophy Company for the United Lodge of Theosophists.)
Helena P. Blavatsky said in relation to this that the aim is:
“To oppose materialism and theological dogmatism in every possible way, by demonstrating the existence of occult forces unknown to science, in nature, and the presence of psychic and spiritual powers in man; trying, at the same time to enlarge the views of the Spiritualists by showing them that there are other, many other agencies at work in the production of phenomena besides the ‘Spirits’ of the dead. Superstition had to be exposed and avoided; and occult forces, beneficent and maleficent – ever surrounding us and manifesting their presence in various ways – demonstrated to the best of our ability.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Organization of the Theosophical Society, in “Theosophical Articles,” Theosophy Co., pg. 223.)
“…The Society teaches and expects its fellows to personally exemplify the highest morality and religious aspiration; to oppose the materialism of science and every form of dogmatic theology, especially the Christian, which the Chiefs of the Society regard as particularly pernicious; to make known among Western nations the long-suppressed facts about Oriental religious philosophies, their ethics, chronology, esoterism, symbolism; to counteract, as far as possible, the efforts of missionaries to delude the so-called “Heathen” and “Pagans” as to the real origin and dogmas of Christianity and the practical effects of the latter upon public and private character in so-called civilized countries; to disseminate a knowledge of the sublime teachings of that pure esoteric system of the archaic period, which are mirrored in the oldest Vedas, and in the philosophy of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster and Confucius; finally, and chiefly, to aid in the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity, wherein all good and pure men, of every race, shall recognize each other as the equal effects (upon this planet) of one Uncreate, Universal, Infinite, and Everlasting Cause.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol. 1, pg. 376-377)
She explains the Theosophical Society’s Original Raison d’etre:
“…the very raison d’être of the Theosophical Society was, from its beginning, to utter a loud protest and lead an open warfare against dogma or any belief based upon blind faith” (see the Theosophical Society’s Original Raison d’etre).
“The object of its founders was to experiment practically in the occult powers of Nature, and to collect and disseminate among Christians information about the Oriental religious philosophies. Later, it has determined to spread among the ‘poor benighted heathen’ such evidences as to the practical results of Christianity as will at least give both sides of the story to the communities among which the missionaries are at work. With this view it has established relations with associations and individuals throughout the East, to whom it furnishes authenticated reports of the ecclesiastical crimes and misdemeanors, schisms and heresies, controversies and litigations, doctrinal differences and biblical criticisms and revisions, with which the press of Christian Europe and America constantly teems. (…) It may also have much to say about the conduct of the missionaries to those who contribute to their support.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1., pp. xli and xlii.)
Theosophy goes further than Cārvāka. It is evident, she is still arguing that there’s a reality to the occult. What used to be the work of a hopeful Theosophical Movement has become now mostly championed by certain Christians, Atheists, Humanists and Skeptics in the present-day.
In the time of Christendom’s last hours, H.P.B. states in the closing paragraphs of the preface to Isis Unveiled:
“An analysis of religious beliefs in general, this volume is in particular directed against theological Christianity, the chief opponent of free thought. It contains not one word against the pure teachings of Jesus, but unsparingly denounces their debasement into pernicious ecclesiastical systems that are ruinous to man’s faith in his immortality and his God, and subversive of all moral restraint.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., pg. iv.)
“We cast our gauntlet at the dogmatic theologians who would enslave both history and science; and especially at the Vatican, whose despotic pretensions have become hateful to the greater portion of enlightened Christendom. The clergy apart, none but the logician, the investigator, the dauntless explorer should meddle with books like this. Such delvers after truth have the courage of their opinions.”
She recognizes modern materialism is hurting Christian numbers:
“WERE it possible, we would keep this work out of the hands of many Christians whom its perusal would not benefit, and for whom it was not written. We allude to those whose faith in their respective churches is pure and sincere, and those whose sinless lives reflect the glorious example of that Prophet of Nazareth, by whose mouth the spirit of truth spake loudly to humanity. Such there have been at all times. History preserves the names of many as heroes, philosophers, philanthropists, martyrs, and holy men and women; but how many more have lived and died, unknown but to their intimate acquaintance, unblessed but by their humble beneficiaries! These have ennobled Christianity, but would have shed the same lustre upon any other faith they might have professed — for they were higher than their creed. The benevolence of Peter Cooper and Elizabeth Thompson, of America, who are not orthodox Christians, is no less Christ-like than that of the Baroness Angela Burdett-Coutts, of England, who is one. And yet, in comparison with the millions who have been accounted Christians, such have always formed a small minority. They are to be found at this day, in pulpit and pew, in palace and cottage; but the increasing materialism, worldliness and hypocrisy are fast diminishing their proportionate number. Their charity, and simple, child-like faith in the infallibility of their Bible, their dogmas, and their clergy, bring into full activity all the virtues that are implanted in our common nature. We have personally known such God-fearing priests and clergymen, and we have always avoided debate with them, lest we might be guilty of the cruelty of hurting their feelings; nor would we rob a single layman of his blind confidence, if it alone made possible for him holy living and serene dying.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2., pg. iii.)
Here we see her views about Jesus, whom she considered reverently, as a man like Apollonius of Tyana and Pythagoras, whose literary narrative is built on the cycles of initiation. She reverences the gnosis of Christians, the principles which ennoble them towards the same aspirations, lofty speech, and charity as among other peoples. The writings of Blavatsky are based upon the Mysteries, or the secret doctrine, belonging not to “the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively.” She attempted to show every mystery and dogma, and from where it originated, and developed.
“What we have to do is to seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of nature, and to diffuse it. To encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, the so-called Occult Sciences, based on the true knowledge of nature, instead of, as at present, on superstitious beliefs based on blind faith and authority.” (The Key to Theosophy, pg. 48)
“But if the two Founders were not told what they had to do, they were distinctly instructed about what they should never do, what they had to avoid, and what the Society should never become. Church organizations, Christian and Spiritual sects were shown as the future contrasts to our Society.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Organization of the Theosophical Society, in “Theosophical Articles,” Theosophy Co., pg. 223.)
Interesting that you quote the Bhagavad Gita above but fail to note that the Gita teaches us that Krishna is a person, i.e. God is a person and has a supremely transcendent personality. The Super Soul aspect of God is Krishna indwelling in each being, but do not mistake that for being the only aspect of God.
Krishna is believed to be the Supreme Spirit. How can a person be the beginningless and endless principle (Alpha and Omega), which is said to animate the full Adept, or that in which the latter is merged, or absorbed into. It was perfect for the context. It is the same issue with Christianity. What is Krishna? The Gita does not teach that Krishna is merely a person.
The Gita teaches that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Not an impersonal Absolute of the Idealist philosophers.)
The passage is in reference to Brahman, the beginningless and endless principle,. The Gita is about a concept of a particular school of thought about a localized aspect, or personal god. Krishna says, ‘I am the beginning and the end’ to Arjuna, pointing to the depths of his real nature. Revelations Alpha and Omega is the same Principle. There are Vaishnavas who worship Vishnu in the form of Krishna, and believe like Christians that he is literally a space god.
One of the reasons the Impersonal Absolute (see Radhakrishnan’s Idealist View of Life) is not convincing to me is that how do you explain the individual consciousness? Is it merely a fluke. We wrote an essay on this Impersonal Absolute back in 2014, I believe. Let’s just agree to disagree here.
The Brahmanical view, as in the Gita necessitates a belief in God that merges with the personal Jivatma, while for Theosophists, there is no such separation or duality at any time recognized. In the Gita, Brahman is not just personal, but both. Persona only signifies a mask, like the idealizations in India and Europe about divine gods in human form. But being a mask, the personal (a fragment), despite the many conflicting hypothesis about the unknown god beyond the gods in human speculation, there would be no Space if there was no such conception as that principle.
The “Absolute” is a very old concept and in almost every ancient system, across dozens of old traditions. Whenever Alpha and Omega is taught, it refers to eternal pre-cosmic, abstract Space.