Helena Petrovna Hahn (also Hélène) (July 31, 1831 (O.S.) [(August 12, 1831 (N.S.)] – May 8, 1891), better known as "Helena Blavatsky" or "Madame Blavatsky", was an occultist, spirit medium, and author who co-founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. She gained an international following as the leading theoretician of Theosophy, the esoteric movement that the Society promoted.
- The possible truths, hazily perceived in the world of abstraction, like those inferred from observation and experiment in the world of matter, are forced upon the profane multitudes, too busy to think for themselves, under the form of Divine revelation and scientific authority. But the same question stands open from the days of Socrates and Pilate down to our own age of wholesale negation: is there such a thing as absolute truth in the hands of any one party or man? Reason answers, "there cannot be." There is no room for absolute truth upon any subject whatsoever, in a world as finite and conditioned as man is himself. But there are relative truths, and we have to make the best we can of them.
- Lucifer (February 1888)
- I ask you also to remember that, on this important occasion, my voice is but the feeble echo of other more sacred voices, and the transmitter of the approval of Those whose presence is alive in more than one true Theosophical heart, and lives, as I know, preeminently in yours. May the assembled Society feel the warm greeting as earnestly as it is given, and may every Fellow present, who realizes that he has deserved it, profit by the Blessings sent...
It must be remembered... that it (Theosophical Society) was intended to stem the current of materialism... For by “materialism” is meant not only an anti-philosophical negation of pure spirit, and, even more, materialism in conduct and action — brutality, hypocrisy, and, above all, selfishness — but also the fruits of a disbelief in all but material things, a disbelief which has increased enormously during the last century...
The function of Theosophists is to open men’s hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learnt to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.
- "There is often greater martyrdom to live for the love of, whether man or an ideal, than to die" is a motto of the Mahatmas.
- There is no religion higher than truth.
- Motto of the Theosophical Society. See for instance: Blavatsky Collected Writings, Volume 6, p. 168
- Maitreya is the secret name of the Fifth Buddha, and the Kalki Avatar of the Brahmins - the last Messiah who will come at the culmination of the Great Cycle.
- Secret Doctrine I, p. 384
- We are in the Kali Yuga [Sanskrit term meaning Dark Age] and its fatal influence is a thousand-fold more powerful in the West than it is in the East; hence the easy preys made by the Powers of the Age of Darkness in this cyclic struggle, and the many delusions under which the world is now laboring. One of these is the relative facility with which men fancy they can get at the "Gate" and cross the threshold of Occultism without any great sacrifice. It is the dream of most Theosophists, one inspired by desire for Power and personal selfishness, and it is not such feelings that can ever lead them to the coveted goal. For, as well said by one believed to have sacrificed himself for Humanity--"Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life" eternal, and therefore "few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:14) So strait indeed, that at the bare mention of some of the preliminary difficulties the affrighted Western candidates turn back and retreat with a shudder... Let them stop here and attempt no more in their great weakness. For if, while turning their backs on the narrow gate, they are dragged by their desire for the Occult one step in the direction of the broad and more inviting gates of that golden mystery which glitters in the light of illusion, woe to them!
- Studies in Occultism, (1888)
- Nothing of that which is conducive to help man, collectively or individually, to live — not "happily" — but less unhappily in this world, ought to be indifferent to the Theosophist-Occultist. It is no concern of his whether his help benefits a man in his worldly or spiritual progress; his first duty is to be ever ready to help if he can, without stopping to philosophize.
- I speak "with absolute certainty" only so far as my own personal belief is concerned. Those who have not the same warrant for their belief as I have, would be very credulous and foolish to accept it on blind faith. Nor does the writer believe any more than her correspondent and his friends in any "authority" let alone "divine revelation"!
Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology (1877)
- Separate wikiquote page for this book
The Secret Doctrine Volume I & II (1888)
- Separate wikiquote page for this book
Practical Occultism (1888)
- How, then, can it be thought possible for a man to enter the “straight gate” of occultism when his daily and hourly thoughts are bound up with worldly things, desires of possession and power, with lust, ambition, and duties which, however honorable, are still of the earth...? Even the love for wife and family — the purest as the most unselfish of human affections is a barrier to real occultism... What lover... would not break the happiness of every other man and woman around him to satisfy the desire of one whom he loves? This is but natural... in the light of the code of human affections; less so, in that of divine universal love. p. 60
- For, while the heart is full of thoughts for a little group of selves, near and dear to us, how shall the rest of mankind fare in our souls? What percentage of love and care will there remain to bestow on the “great orphan”? And how shall the “still small voice” make itself heard in a soul entirely occupied with its own privileged tenants? What room is there left for the needs of Humanity en bloc...? He who would profit by the wisdom of the universal mind, has to reach it through the whole of Humanity without distinction of race, complexion, religion, or social status. It is altruism, not ego-ism even in its most legal and noble conception, that can lead the unit to merge its little Self in the Universal Selves. It is... to this work that the true disciple of true Occultism has to devote himself if he would obtain... divine Wisdom and Knowledge. p. 62
The Key to Theosophy (1889)
- The purpose of this book is exactly expressed in its title, “The Key to Theosophy,” and needs but few words of explanation. It is not a complete or exhaustive text-book of Theosophy, but only a key to unlock the door that leads to the deeper study.
- HPB:...Theosophy is Divine Knowledge or Science... "Divine Wisdom," (Theosophia) or Wisdom of the gods, as (theogonia), genealogy of the gods. The word theos means a god in Greek, one of the divine beings, certainly not "God" in the sense attached in our day to the term. Therefore, it is not "Wisdom of God," as translated by some, but Divine Wisdom such as that possessed by the gods. The term is many thousand years old... It comes to us from the Alexandrian philosophers, called lovers of truth, Philaletheians, from phil "loving," and aletheia "truth." The name Theosophy dates from the third century of our era, and began with Ammonius Saccas and his disciples, who started the Eclectic Theosophical system.
- Our age, we say, is inferior in Wisdom to any other, because it professes, more visibly every day, contempt for truth and justice, without which there can be no Wisdom. Because our civilization, built up of shams and appearances, is at best like a beautiful green morass, a bog, spread over a deadly quagmire. Because this century of culture and worship of matter, while offering prizes and premiums for every "best thing" under the Sun, from the biggest baby and the largest orchid down to the strongest pugilist and the fattest pig, has no encouragement to offer to morality; no prize to give for any moral virtue.
- Because it has Societies for the prevention of physical cruelty to animals,and none with the object of preventing the moral cruelty practiced on human beings. Because it encourages, legally and tacitly, vice under every form, from the sale of whiskey down to forced prostitution and theft brought on by starvation wages...
- This is the age which, although proclaimed as one of physical and moral freedom, is in truth the age of the most ferocious moral and mental slavery, the like of which was never known before.
- Slavery to State and men has disappeared only to make room for slavery to things and Self, to one's own vices and idiotic social customs and ways. Rapid civilization, adapted to the needs of the higher and middle classes, has doomed by contrast to only greater wretchedness the starving masses.
- That the teachings of neither our modern teachers nor preachers are "wisdom from above" is fully demonstrated. It is proved not by any personal incorrectness in their statements or mistakes in life, for "to err is but human," but by incontrovertible facts.
- Children should above all be taught self-reliance, love for all men, altruism, mutual charity, and more than anything else, to think and reason for themselves... Aim at creating free men and women, free intellectually, free morally, unprejudiced in all respects, and above all things, unselfish.
- Wisdom and Truth are synonymous terms, and that which is false or well-known representative of the Church of England, that the Sermon of the Mount would, in its practical application, mean utter ruin for his country less than three weeks;
- To doubt the exalted wisdom of the religion of... the Church of England, or again of our great modern scientists, is to sin against the Holy Ghost and Culture. Woe unto him who refuses to recognize the World's "Elect."...their "wisdom" is at best -- "terrestrial, psychic, devilish."
- Valuing freedom of thought above all things as the only way of reaching at some future time that Wisdom, of which every Theosophist ought to be enamored, we recognize the right to the same freedom in our foes as in our friends.
- [We do not]... blame, but rather pity, in our innermost heart, the "wise men" of our age for trying to carry out the only policy that will keep them on the pinnacle of their "authority"; as they could not, if even they would, act otherwise and preserve their prestige with the masses, or escape from being speedily outcast by their colleagues.
- The origin of all religions -- Judaeo-Christianity included -- is to be found in a few primeval truths, not one of which can be explained apart from all the others, as each is a complement of the rest in some one detail. And they are all, more or less, broken rays of the same Sun of truth, and their beginnings have to be sought in the archaic records of the Wisdom-religion. Without the light of the latter, the greatest scholars can see but the skeletons thereof covered with masks of fancy
- Thus, what with several generations of most active Church Fathers ever working at the destruction of old documents and the preparation of new passages to be interpolated in those which happened to survive, there remains of the Gnostics -- the legitimate offspring of the Archaic Wisdom-religion -- but a few unrecognizable shreds.
- Those who translate Pistis by "Faith," are utterly wrong. The word "faith" as grace or something to be believed in through unreasoned or blind faith, is a word that dates only since Christianity.
- We hold that a good book which gives people food for thought, which strengthens and clears their minds, and enables them to grasp truths which they have dimly felt but could not formulate—we hold that such a book does a real, substantial good.
- You must bear in mind how many powerful adversaries we have aroused ever since the formation of our Society... Intrinsically, Theosophy is the most serious movement of this age; and one, moreover, which threatens the very life of most of the time-honoured humbugs, prejudices, and social evils of the day—those evils which fatten and make happy the upper ten and their imitators and sycophants, the wealthy dozens of the middle classes, while they positively crush and starve out of existence the millions of the poor.
- We have to contend against... the hatred of the Spiritualists... the constant opposition of the clergy of all denominations... especially the relentless hatred and persecution of the missionaries in India.
- To this day no one seems even to feel quite certain whether the Theosophists are a kind of Serpent-and-Devil worshipers, or simply “Esoteric Buddhists”—whatever that may mean. It was useless for us to go on denying, day after day and year after year, every kind of inconceivable cock-and-bull stories about us; for, no sooner was one disposed of, than another, a still more absurd and malicious one, was born out of the ashes of the first.
- So long as the T.S. has a few devoted members willing to work for it without reward and thanks, so long as a few good Theosophists support it with occasional donations, so long will it exist, and nothing can crush it.
Enquirer: I have heard many Theosophists speak of a “power behind the Society” and of certain “Mahatmas,” mentioned also in Mr. Sinnett’s works, that are said to have founded the Society, to watch over and protect it.
HPB: You may laugh, but it is so.
- We call them “Masters” because they are our teachers; and because from them we have derived all the Theosophical truths, however inadequately some of us may have expressed, and others understood, them. They are men of great learning, whom we term Initiates, and still greater holiness of life. They are not ascetics in the ordinary sense, though they certainly remain apart from the turmoil and strife of your western world.
- The Society will live on into and through the twentieth century. It will gradually leaven and permeate the great mass of thinking and intelligent people with its large-minded and noble ideas of Religion, Duty, and Philanthropy. Slowly but surely it will burst asunder the iron fetters of creeds and dogmas, of social and caste prejudices; it will break down racial and national antipathies and barriers, and will open the way to the practical realization of the Brotherhood of all men.
- Through its teaching, through the philosophy which it has rendered accessible and intelligible to the modern mind, the West will learn to understand and appreciate the East at its true value. Further, the development of the psychic powers and faculties, the premonitory symptoms of which are already visible in America, will proceed healthily and normally.
- It is curious to see how prophetic in almost all things was the writer of Vishnu Purâna when foretelling to Maitreya some of the dark influences and sins of this Kali Yug. For after saying that the “barbarians” will be masters of the banks… There will be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth— kings of churlish spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness... Wealth and piety will decrease until the world will be wholly depraved. Property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation; and women will be objects merely of sensual gratification.
- Mankind will be saved from the terrible dangers, both mental and bodily, which are inevitable when that unfolding takes place, as it threatens to do, in a hot-bed of selfishness and all evil passions. Man’s mental and psychic growth will proceed in harmony with his moral improvement, while his material surroundings will reflect the peace and fraternal goodwill which will reign in his mind, instead of the discord and strife which is everywhere apparent around us today.
Quotes about HPB
- And we, who lived around her, who in closest intimacy watched her day after day, we bear witness to the unselfish beauty of her life, the nobility of her character, and we lay at her feet our most reverent gratitude for knowledge gained, lives purified, strength developed.
- Annie Besant, An Autobiography Chapter XIV
- Throughout the last 100 years, the Ageless Wisdom Teachings have been communicated through individuals such as Helena Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, and later by Alice A. Bailey and Helena Roerich.
- Blavatsky, who worked directly with the Masters, revealed that these perfected beings have guided humanity from behind the scenes of everyday life for countless millennia.
- One day in the winter of 1875, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, made a vow: to spread by every means in her power the teachings which she had received from several Masters of the Himalayan Lodge of the Spiritual Hierarchy of our planet. True to her vow, she set to work to inform the world of these teachings. Her books, The Secret Doctrine, Isis Unveiled and The Key to Theosophy, are testimony to her indefatigable industry and will, in the face of great physical illness. These seminal works have informed and inspired many thousands of true seekers over the years and continue to do so.
- Benjamin Creme in "The perennial light of Truth, Share International (5 September 2009)
- The Tibetan Master Djwhal Khul... between 1919 and 1949... dictated, by mental telepathy, a series of 19 books through [[Alice Bailey|Alice A. Bailey]. (Bailey herself wrote five additional volumes.) These 19 very profound, and to my mind very practical, teachings are the intermediate phase of the teachings given out by the Masters for the new age of Aquarius now beginning. The Secret Doctrine was the preparatory phase of the teachings, given through Madame [Helena Petrovna ] Blavatsky, who lived and worked for some years with a group of Masters in the Himalayas. One of them was the Master Morya, her own Master, and another the Master Koot Hoomi, both very advanced Masters. These two Masters are deeply involved with humanity and, with the Master Jesus...
- Mme Blavatsky is a bit wild and somewhat irrational and speaks as if she were the Oracle of Delphi. But I will admit that I find some interesting observations in her book which was published as you know, back in 1888, at a time when physics and science were in their swaddling clothes... I'm astonished how much in keeping it is with modern Physics... There are many other significant statements of hers which I find interesting, but for which i have no time to discuss now.
- Asked the human sources of his inspiration, Creme said he was a student of the writings of Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey, whose books have had a profound influence on that diverse range of contemporary spiritual beliefs called New Age -- a blend of elements of Eastern and Western mysticism and a strong dose of self-improvement thinking.
Madame Blavatsky, as she was known, was an aristocratic, Russian-born medium who founded the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875 and who taught, among much else, that people could contact the spiritual realm with help from higher entities called Masters of Wisdom.
- Gustav Niebuhr in New Millennium, Great Expectations New York Times (20 July 1996)
- From boyhood no problem had interested me so much as the mystery of man... [On meeting H.P.B.,] our acquaintance at once ripened into a friendship. We found ourselves to be congenial in opinion, and she brought to our intercourse the great resources of a mind stored with a mass of erudition with regard to the arcane or esoteric philosophies of the ancient times. I found her the most intellectual woman I had ever met in my life, a very eccentric personage, but a person who compelled you to either like her very much or to be very antagonistic to her. Besides these extraordinary literary and mental accomplishments of hers, she also possessed in a very striking degree psychical powers such as we read about in the accounts of the lives of ancient sages, and the proof of the reality of which powers was vouchsafed to many witnesses in America for years before we sailed from New York for India; so that naturally those of us who knew her in those times and subsequently, have been unaffected by all the imputations upon her character that have been so rife during the later years of her life... I now look back to that meeting as the most fortunate event of my life; for it made light shine in all the dark places, and sent me out on a mission to help to revive... occult science, which grows more absorbingly interesting every day.
- She was a splendid pianist, playing with a touch and expression that were simply superb. Her hands were models—ideal and actual—for a sculptor and never seen to such advantage as when flying over the keyboard to find its magical melodies... There were times when she was occupied by one of the Mahâtmas, when her playing was indescribably grand. She would sit in the dusk sometimes, with nobody else in the room beside myself, and strike from the sweettoned instrument improvisations that might well make one fancy he was listening to the Gandhâvas, or heavenly choristers. It was the harmony of heaven...she was loyal to the last degree to her aunt, her other relatives, and to the Masters; for whose work she would have sacrificed not only one, but twenty lives, and calmly seen the whole human race consumed with fire, if needs be.
- Henry Steel Olcott, Character Sketch of Madam Blavatsky, Old Diary Leaves, Volume One, (1895)
- Unconventionality was with her almost a cult, and nothing pleased her more than to do and say things to shock the prudish... HPB felt herself in revolt to every conventional idea of society, being in beliefs, tastes, dress, ideals, and behavior a social helot; ...The world was to her an empty sham, its prizes but dross, her waking life a lugubrious existence, her real life that of the night when, leaving the body, she would go and sit at the feet of her Masters.
So she felt little else than scorn and profound contempt for the blind bigots and narrow-thinking men of science, who had not even a stray glimpse of the truth, yet who would judge her with unrighteous judgment and conspire to silence her by a conspiracy of calumny. For clergymen as a body she felt hatred, because, being themselves absolutely ignorant of the truths of the spirit, they assumed the right to lead the spiritually blind, to keep the lay conscience under control, to enjoy revenues they had not earned, and to damn the heretic, who was often the sage, the illuminatus, the adept. We had one scrapbook into which we used to paste paragraphs from the newspapers telling of the crimes of clergymen and priests who had been brought to justice, and before we left for India there was a large collection of them. HPB made numberless friends, but often lost them again and saw them turned into personal enemies. No one could be more fascinating than she when she chose, and she chose it when she wanted to draw persons to her public work. She would be caressing in tone and manner, and make the person feel that she regarded him as her best, if not her only friend.
- Henry Steel Olcott, Character Sketch of Madam Blavatsky, Old Diary Leaves, Volume One, (1895)
- There’s ancient Indian knowledge brought forward some 100 years ago by H.P.Blavatsky, C.W.Leadbeater and others. I think it was Leadbeater who said something like “One day men of faith and men of science will stand in the same place. And the men of faith will turn to the men of science and say ‘We’ve been waiting all this time for you to arrive.’”
- Harry Oldfield in Another piece of the puzzle, Interview with researcher and inventor Harry Oldfield, Share International (February 2013)
- H. P. Blavatsky said, in language which no thoughtful mind could misinterpret: Come unto me, my Brothers. I have been taught. Only as I have been taught am I authorized to give; but what I have been taught I can give, and it is my duty to give it. She gave, and gave lavishly. What she gave was not her own; it is not my own; it is not your own. It is the common spiritual and intellectual heritage of mankind; it belongs to us all as human beings, to every son of man; and anyone who studies this common heritage of mankind and who follows the pathway that it opens... The pathway, remember, is endless, for it leads over and through the spacious fields of the spaces of invisible space.
- In her efforts to teach and help she was ready to investigate all subjects; she pointed out with abundant logic the necessity of the ideas of Theosophy being implanted in the minds of the people of the present age; that these ideas might lead the people from dogmatism and materialism into a larger and broader life. She declared that unless humanity awakened to its real needs and to its opportunities, the human family as a whole must retrograde into the shadow and lose sight of the spiritual life and light that rightfully belong to every man.
So it was that she established the Theosophical Society on entirely unsectarian and non-political lines. She accentuated tirelessly the truths of Theosophy; she declared that man's essential divine nature was a potent quality which should be aroused continuously: i. e., that man was dual in his nature -- that the higher, the nobler, the divine part, was the corrective and inspiring part, and that the human mind, no matter how splendidly trained, must be controlled by this higher self: before this man could not find his true place or realize his latent possibilities. She declared in her teachings that one who would know his strength must find his divinity, not outside himself but within; that he must understand the laws of evolution and involution; that spiritually he must realize that he is a part inseparable of the great human family; and that if he carried the investigation of Theosophy far enough, he would readily conceive of Deity as an all-powerful, omnipresent principle, rather than as a personal God existing at some point in space.
- Katherine Tingley, H.P. Blavatsky, and the Founding of the Thesophical Society, (10 January 1915)
- Annie Besant
- H.P. Blavatsky
- Geoffrey Hodson
- William Quan Judge
- C.W. Leadbeater
- Henry Steel Olcott
- Alfred Percy Sinnett
- The Ageless WisdomTeachings
- Agni Yoga
- Kali Yuga
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
- Masters of Wisdom
- Helena Roerich
- The Reappearance of the Christ, by Alice A Bailey
- The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom, by Benjamin Creme