Blavatsky and Christianity: Christological Disputes and Interpretations of a Theosophist

Introduction

“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 in two parts, about disputes on the nature of Christ. Christ is, as it was with the Gnostics in theosophy. Christ is not a Man in Space. A Man could not claim to be “Christ in flesh,” as literally it has no body, or feet to place on itself. We separate this principle from “Jesus,” the evanescent man, or personality. This teaching in Occult mysticism is the same as in the Upanishads, concerning ātman, or “universal self.” Esoterically, it is also the central doctrine in Buddhism, although only seeming contradictory to the no-self. One must see the profundity of the teaching, when renouncing to worship the thousands of images supposed to be of Jesus’s face, or praying to the personality of a man, which is to contradict the practice of cultivating non-self, which leads to Christos. It, subsists in impersonality. As with the Gnostics, Christos is an impersonal and sexless principle, or both 1) the Spiritual essence of the Universe, and 2) within every man. This omnipresent principle could not be either of those, verily if it was not the very root of matter.

It is mostly, the inquiry upon the nature and source of suffering, that brings us to It. Human passions and the physical senses block mortal development of the higher spiritual perception of this principle, which regenerates the inner spiritual nature. The Light fades from us when engaged too much on this plane, rather than cultivating; though the power seeks to be awakened, as it does when it becomes awakened in a full adept, or Initiate. In the Christian interpretation, it becomes an anthropomorphic conception; and they induce men, although aside mysticism, to worship a man and the icons of what they believe about the man. Saying Christ is a man, is like saying, that the tathāgatagarbha and buddhadhātu set foot on earth. These are not entities, or men. Just as the term Buddha refers to one who has achieved enlightenment and the tathagata to a Buddha who has “thus gone” from the world of illusion to nirvana. The language is merely different in the European schools of philosophy, when man is said to merge with his inner god, and then entirely into the Spiritual substance. The knowledge of the true Christos is of its light, which is the fire, or Power, that consumes all action on this plane. The knowledge of the light of Christos emancipates those who have acquired it, from the causes of illusion and suffering; and it is from those causes, that the Self is devoid of. Thus, the only way to come upon it. This should be kept in mind, when Blavatsky rejects the cultus of Jesus-worship, but emphasizes the “Christos principle.”

Christians will rebut, Jesus and Christ are the same.

The philosophical and metaphysical concept of Christ predates the Christians; and theosophists do not worship gods, sages, or angels.

As to Jesus as a Messiah or the Messiah-concept in general see:

Vridar Articles on — Messiah

In H.P.B.’s time, Christian authors had already believed the origins of Theosophy to be 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 modern 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 the quote — and it always feels we are being weightily judged by the words in these scriptures — we are “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.)

For the Buddhist, Blavatsky, she 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.”

These two passages point to the Two Key Subjects Noted in Morya’s Cosmological Notes: Space and Essence about dhātu धातु

Evidence points to a Pre-Christian Christ†. This Power was incomparable, infinite, above, unbegotten (first-born god), immovable, invisible fire, and the source of all CHANGE. It becomes active DUNAMIS (Will and Intelligence as a combined Power) when mind merges with it. Christōs is the POWER above the latent DUNAMIS, and it is below — meaning “within man.” The latent power is termed Buddhi in the Sanskrit parlance of Theosophists. Christōs is the ‘Logos in Space, and on earth’ according to Valentinus and Simon, i.e., transcendent and immanent. As is said of Thoth, “as above, so below.” Buddhi is “a passive and latent principle, the spiritual vehicle of Atman, inseparable from the manifested Universal Soul. It is only in union and in conjunction with Self-consciousness that Buddhi becomes the Higher Self and the divine, discriminating Soul.” (Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 2., pg. 231 fn.). Buddhi is called the “potential power” of the Logos, according to the heresy of Simon (see the Refutatio, Book 6), but it precedes the Simonian theosophy. This teaching is heresy to the Church, according to Hippolytus of Rome in the Refutations.

Yet it agrees with high EASTERN ESOTERICISM.

† This can be further explored on Neil Godfrey’s blog, Vridar 

  1. Pre-Christian Christ Gnosticism: 1 and 2
  2. Evidence for a Pre-Christian Christianity?
  3. The Pre-Christian Jewish Logos

Christological Disputes and Interpretations of a Theosophist II

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6 Comments

  1. 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.

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    1. 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.

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      1. The Gita teaches that Krishna is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Not an impersonal Absolute of the Idealist philosophers.)

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      2. The passage is in reference to Brahman, the beginningless and endless principle, which you just denied. The Gita is about a concept of a particular school of thought, about a localized aspect, or personal god. When Krishna says, ‘I am the beginning and the end’ to Arjuna, this is the same that confuses the Christian, causing them to worship Jesus, a person, when it is by all means, pointing to that absolute. In our understanding, the highest concept of the Buddhist and the aim of the Gita are reconciled. Any further, then we enter the thousand sectarian arguments between Hindu sects. It is in perfect understanding of what certain Gnostics and the Greek Esotericism mean by Christos. The whole point as the links demonstrate at the bottom, is the Pre-Christian concept. The Revelation mention of the Alpha and Omega is in essence, the same Principle. There are Vaishnavas who worship Vishnu in the form of Krishna, and believe like Christians, he is literally a Space god. Theosophists deal with esotericism, and yet the passage still references the Absolute. So, it is no doubt, any believer would argue, but miss the point. I think it’s plainly clear.

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  2. 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.

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    1. Just understand, that Theosophy, or Occult Philosophy is identified with “Aryan Esotericism,” or Tibetan esotericism. The Brahmanical view, as in the Gita necessitates a belief in God that merges with the personal Jivatma, while for Theosophists that get their philosophy from Buddhist Arhats, there is no such separation or duality at any time recognized at all, and it rejects the God theory. Individuality, and the impressions of the mental state, in that teaching has its source in a force (Sakti). 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 and unknowable principle beyond the gods in human speculation, there would be no Space if there was no such conception as that principle. It’s not idealist.

      That Absolute is a very old concept and in almost every ancient system. I named them all across over dozens of old traditions in one article. Whenever Alpha and Omega is taught, it refers to eternal pre-cosmic, abstract Space.

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