Russian MS. of H.P.B. criticized V.S. Solovyov’s Review of Theosophy: ‘Theosophists worship the wisdom that is from Above’

‘Theosophists worship the
wisdom that is from Above’

In relation to Russian Philosopher Vladimir Solovyov and Charles J. Ryan: ‘H.P.B. did not invent the Tibetan Brotherhood and Chelas’, an insightful Russian MS. (the date reads London, 1890) in H.P. Blavatsky’s handwriting was discovered in the Adyar Archives. It was H.P.B.’s critical response, or correction of V.S. Solovyov’s review of The Key to Theosophy, where he calls Theosophy a Neo-Buddhist revival. Perhaps he corrected it, according to Charles J. Ryan H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement. H.P.B. states, that in theosophical literature, one will find the old Christian Gnosis, and she defends pre-Christian schools of thought and religions. She reiterates, that the truth of Theosophy is not about one religion, or the worldly glory of some sect, recognizing the flaws of the Theosophical Society; but for the glory of universal wisdom and the friendship (sister-brotherhood) of Humanity. It is said of the MS. by the editor, “a handwritten note appended to it and most likely written by H.P.B.’s sister, Madame Vera P. de Zhelihovsky, states as follows: “Helena’s last article (concerning Neo-Buddhism) which I was unable to have published owing to the enmity of the Russian people to Theosophy in general, and of certain individuals towards her personally. Possibly some day it will be found useful…In addition to this, Madame de Zhelihovsky wrote the following, below H.P.B.’s signature at the end of the essay: “N.B. Since the Russian Review did not accept this reply for publication, my sister, H. P. Blavatsky, asked me to have it published in some other Russian periodical or newspaper; owing, however, to many absences from home and to family circumstances, I was unable to carry this out during her lifetime. The time has now come for her to speak for herself, because the opinions of many of our writers (with regard to herself and The Theosophical Society) are based precisely upon this article of Vladimir Sergueyevich Solovyov.” V. S. Solovyov (1853-1900), who reviewed H.P.B.’s The Key to Theosophy, was an outstanding Russian philosopher and writer, most of whose writings have never yet been translated into English. He was the brother of Vsevolod S. Solovyov, the novelist,who, after a brief association with H.P.B. and the Theosophical Movement, became a bitter enemy” (Neo-Buddhism).

“…why did Mr. Solovyov find it necessary to describe The Key to Theosophy as a “Catechism of Neo-Buddhism,” when such a term is not to be found either in the book under review or, generally speaking, in Theosophical literature? Is it in order to prejudice, from the outset, readers, who are not aware of the difference between Budhism with one d, and Buddhism with two d’s, against the Russian author and her “Society”? It would have been understandable, however, if I, reviewing in an English journal some of Mr. Solovyov’s lectures or works, had described them as “Neo-Papism,” as the whole of orthodox Russia has understood them in that light. But where has he found Neo-Buddhism in our teachings? There is none, but simply a considerable amount of old Christian Gnôsis. Besides, the whole of our literature proves that real Theosophists, worshipping universal wisdom, worship in reality the same wisdom which has been proclaimed by St. James in the third chapter of his Epistle [verse 17], i.e., “the wisdom that is from above ( [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy,” avoiding, on the advice of the same Apostle [verse 15], wisdom that “is earthly, sensual, devilish ().” Therefore, if trying to follow to the extent of our strength the higher wisdom [see The Practical Basis of Spiritual Illumination], we use the word Bodhi, instead of Sophia, it is first because both words, the Sanskrit and the Greek, are synonymous, and second because for every European Fellow we have some fifty Asiatic Fellows—Brâhmanas and Buddhists. Why should there be in this connection the prefix “new,” when Bodhi or Sophia, i.e., “wisdom from on high,” is older than the creation of the world?


“Besides, the whole of our literature proves that real Theosophists, worshipping universal wisdom, worship in reality (…) “the wisdom that is from above ( [which] is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy,” avoiding (…) the wisdom that “is earthly, sensual, devilish ().”


Surely philosophy did not originate with Mr. Solovyov, and wisdom will not die with him! Had he said that, preferring the spirit to the dead letter, we seek this eternal wisdom and truth in the basic principles and the prototype of the pre-Christian religions, now distorted by the “earthly, devilish wisdom” of the dead letter, and in so doing give the opportunity to those short-sighted and ignorant to see in us either heathens or Buddhists…”

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