East and West

Picture of Temples in India

Those who carefully read through all these quotes may at first think there is some contradiction between some of them but that can be clarified by explaining that (1) It is in Eastern Esoteric Science that the sacred knowledge or truth of all things has been fully and purely preserved, (2) This is something very different from the Eastern religions and spirituality of today, which on the whole is not true esotericism at all and cannot truly help the West, who already have – but need to become aware and make use of – the ageless, timeless, unsectarian, religion-transcending Esoteric Philosophy, made available to us by the Eastern Brotherhood of Adepts, Initiates, or Masters of Wisdom.

That is not to say that the knowledge found in the old Western esoteric traditions should be ignored; on the contrary, it should be known and brought to light, but as useful as it may be, it is ultimately only a fragment of the THEOSOPHIA or Divine Wisdom. This is the position taken by H. P. Blavatsky, her closest colleagues, and her Adept-Teachers.

Ultimately, as Gandhi said, “East and West are no more than names. Human beings are the same everywhere. He who wants to will conduct himself with decency. . . . If we look into the future, is it not a heritage that we have to leave to posterity, that all the different races commingle and produce a civilisation that perhaps the world has not yet seen?”

There are important distinctions between East and West, however, and in this present and imperfect time they must be taken into account and understood, although this ought to be done in an impartial and unbiased way and for universal purposes. “To draw together the East and the West, so that each may supply the qualities lacking in the other and develop more fraternal feelings among nations so various” is part of the role and purpose of the Theosophical Movement of our times, declares H. P. Blavatsky, its main founder.

In some of these excerpts, the word “Aryan” appears but it should be understood that this does not at all mean a “perfect race” of blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned people. It was some decades after HPB’s passing that “Aryan” was misappropriated and misrepresented and given this false meaning. In its actual and historical sense, the word “Aryan” is a synonym for “Indian,” though literally and originally it means “noble” and “worthy.” And although HPB speaks in that passage of “Aryanising Western thought,” the rest of the quote indicates that a “Westernising of Aryan thought” needs to take place also.

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“As it is one of the tasks of the T.S. [i.e. Theosophical Society] to draw together the East and the West, so that each may supply the qualities lacking in the other and develop more fraternal feelings among nations so various, this literary intercourse will, I hope, prove of the utmost service in Aryanising Western thought.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “Five Messages from H. P. Blavatsky to The American Theosophists” p. 30)

“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.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Key to Theosophy” p. 305-306)

“In the East Theosophy has to be revived among the masses; in the West the crowds have never known it. Theosophy is a natural plant of Asia; it has to become naturalized everywhere else.” (“Aryanizing Western Thought,” “Theosophy” Magazine, December 1923)

“When we examine into what, if anything, India has done for the great East of which she is a part, we find that for hundreds of years she has done nothing whatever, and apparently has no intention of doing anything. Her dominant religion – Brahmanism – is crystallized and allows for no propaganda. . . . Now where is the wrong in knowing the fact, and in asserting that such an India of today, no matter how glorious it may have been 10,000 years ago, is not the teacher of the West. Rather is it that the West is to lead the reform and raise up the fallen country with all others. . . .

“The Theosophical movement was founded and flourishes in the West pre-eminently and under Western influence. It began in America, farthest West, started there by the Masters. A very pertinent question here is, why it was not begun in India if that country is the one of all we are to look to? Very evidently the beginning was made so far West because, as so often stated by H.P.B., the next new race is to appear in the Americas, where already preparations in nature for the event are going on. This means that the center, the top, the force of the cyclic wave of evolution is in the West – including Europe and America – and all the observable facts support the contention.

“This evolutionary wave is not a mere theoretical thing, but is a mass of revolving energy composed of human egos from all the ancient ages of the past. It cannot be stopped; it should not be hindered in any way. This is what makes the importance of the West. The Masters work scientifically, and not sentimentally or by hysterical impulse. Hence they take advantage of such a cyclic wave, well knowing that to have begun in the East would have been child’s play. They desired, one can see by viewing the history and the words from them of the last twenty years, the new and growing West to take from all the East whatever philosophy and metaphysics were needed; to assimilate them, to put them into practice; to change the whole social and economic order; and then react back, compulsorily, upon the East for its good and uplifting. . . .

“Now in the face of all these facts, and of many more which could be brought forward, where is the brotherliness, the Theosophy, the truth in starting against me a charge that I wish or try to set the East and West against each other? . . . Let those who are not carried away by a mere name, who can calmly examine facts, see that the West is the advancing conqueror of human destiny; that the Eastern lands, both India and other places, are storehouses for the world, holding from the past treasures that the West alone can make avail of and teach the East how to use. . . . It is the destiny of the West to raise the East from its darkness, superstition, and ignorance, to save the world; it is its destiny to send Theosophical principles, literature, and teachers into even such a remote land as Tibet, whose language we as yet can scarcely learn.” (William Q. Judge, “The Truth about East and West” article)

“W.Q.J. is the Antaskarana [i.e. the Antahkarana, the bridge or connecting link] between the two Manas(es) the American thought & the Indian – or rather the trans-Himalayan Esoteric Knowledge.” (H. P. Blavatsky)

“It is not the “priesthood of India” that attempts to bring the Occident [i.e. the West] back to the ancient wisdom, but rather a few Occidentals from Europe-America who, led by their Karma to the happiness of knowing certain Adepts of the secret Himalayan Brotherhood, attempt, under the inspiration of these Masters, to lead the priesthood of India back to the primitive and divine esotericism.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “Misconceptions” article)

“The Master . . . They find it very hard to break down the walls of theological and other prejudices in the East; . . . the Egos of the West include many who helped to make the religion, the philosophy, and the civilization of the ancient East; . . . the new race is being prepared for in the West, and to divert thought back to the teachers of today in the East would be dangerous; . . . many Initiates have remained with the West as Nirmanakayas for its help in its destiny, and . . . through the great work in the West the whole East as well as West will be benefited.” (William Q. Judge)

“Whither can we turn to trace these theosophic ideas to their very root – better than to old Indian wisdom? We say it again: archaic Occultism would remain incomprehensible to all, if it were rendered otherwise than through the channels of Buddhism and Hinduism. For the former is the emanation of the latter; and both are children of one mother – ancient Lemuro-Atlantean Wisdom.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 668)

[Note: This should not be taken to mean that aspiring occultists are to become Buddhists or Hindus but is a reference to why the language and terminology of those two religious philosophies is that most used as a “channel” by HPB for presenting and trying to make the comprehensible the archaic Esoteric or Occult Philosophy.]

“India was the Alma-Mater, not only of the civilization, arts, and sciences, but also of all the great religions of antiquity; Judaism, and hence Christianity, included.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “Isis Unveiled” Vol. 2, p. 30)

“For as at first she [i.e. India] was a receptacle from which was taken an enormous treasure in material wealth and goods, so at the last her treasures of literature and philosophy are destined to cover the lands of English-speaking peoples, to infiltrate into the western mind, and finally drive out the puerile, degrading dogmas of Christendom, replacing them with a noble and elevating scheme of philosophy which alone can save the world.” (William Q. Judge, “India a Storehouse For Us” article)

“You can do immense good by helping to give the Western nations a secure basis upon which to reconstruct their crumbling faith. And what they need is the evidence that Asiatic psychology alone supplies. Give this, and you will confer happiness of mind on thousands. The era of blind faith is gone; that of inquiry is here. . . . This is the moment to guide the recurrent impulse which must soon come, and which will push the age towards extreme atheism, or drag it back to extreme sacerdotalism, if it is not led to the primitive soul-satisfying philosophy of the Aryans.” (Master K.H. to A. O. Hume, “A Master’s Letter” p. 9-10, ULT Pamphlet No. 29)

“The exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of Nature are to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 611)

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H.P. Blavatsky