Purucker Says The Absolute Was Once a Man

G. de Purucker
Gottfried de Purucker, Leader of the Point Loma Theosophical Society (now split into “The Theosophical Society – Point Loma” and “The Theosophical Society – Pasadena”) from 1929 to 1942.

“There can be neither two INFINITES nor two ABSOLUTES in a Universe supposed to be Boundless.”

(H. P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 7)

“How can you give experience to that which is absolute? How is it possible to fall into such a philosophical error as that?”

(H. P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine Dialogues” p. 625)

“Parabrahm . . . The Supreme Infinite Brahma, “Absolute” – the attributeless, the secondless reality. The impersonal and nameless universal Principle. . . . Brahma or Brahman, is the impersonal, supreme and uncognizable Principle of the Universe from the essence of which all emanates, and into which all returns, which is incorporeal, immaterial, unborn, eternal, beginningless and endless. . . . Brahmā, on the other hand, the male and the alleged Creator, exists periodically in his manifestation only, and then again goes into pralaya, i.e., disappears and is annihilated.”

(H. P. Blavatsky, “The Theosophical Glossary” p. 248, 62)

“It will be my duty as soon as time and strength permit me to do so, to issue new E.S. teachings of a far deeper and more esoteric kind than those which were issued even by H.P.B. or by W.Q.J., or by our Beloved, Katherine Tingley. This I can do for the simple reason that these, my three great Predecessors, never had the opportunity to do what Karma now impels and compels me to do: to besiege the Portals of Destiny and to open a way into the Mysteries, because the members, through the life-work of our beloved K.T., are now ready to hear and therefore to receive what I can give them – an opportunity of incalculably splendid promise which neither H.P.B. nor W.Q.J. nor even K.T. had.”

(G. de Purucker, Official Letter of September 1929 to the members of the Point Loma Theosophical Society)

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In other articles on this site, we have stated that one of the misleading points of G. de Purucker’s teachings, in which he contradicts and misrepresents the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky, is his teaching that there are many Absolutes, which is a contradiction in terms, since the Absolute is by its very definition the One Ultimate Reality. He also taught that the Absolute was once a man, who grew and evolved his way upwards to becoming the Absolute, albeit just one of many. Many find this to be an absurdly illogical and unphilosophical idea and they can hardly be blamed.

In Chapter 15 of his book “Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy,” under the heading “The Evolution of the “Absolute.”” Purucker writes:

“What do we mean by the word Absolute? . . . This word Absolute, misused as it is in modern philosophy and even among our own selves, is the exact translation of the Sanskrit mukti, or moksha, which I will allude to in a moment. Absolute is the modern English form of the past participle passive of the Latin word absolvere, meaning “to loosen,” “to set free,” “to release,” and hence “perfected.” Not utter, limitless perfection like the immortal gods in some religions were supposed to have, which is always impossible. But the relative perfection, the summit, the acme, the flower, the root, the seed, of any hierarchy; and particularly for us of that hierarchy which is for us the highest — our kosmical universe.

“Now the Sanskrit words mukti or moksha: the former comes from the Sanskrit root much, meaning “to release,” “to set free,” as said; moksha from the Sanskrit moksh, with an almost identical meaning, and probably a desiderative of the same root much. The meaning is that when a spirit, a monad, or a spiritual radical, has so grown in manifestation that it has first become a man, and is set free interiorly, inwardly, and from a man has become a planetary spirit or dhyan-chohan or lord of meditation, and has gone still higher to become interiorly a brahman, and from a brahman the Parabrahman for its hierarchy, then it is absolutely perfected, free, released: perfected for that great period of time which to us seems almost an eternity, so long is it, virtually incomputable by the human intellect. This is the Absolute: limited in comparison with things still more immense, still more sublime; but, so far as we can think of it, “released” or “freed” from the chains or bonds of material existence. . . .

How did the Absolute become the Absolute? By chance? There is no chance. There is nothing but endless life and endless consciousness and endless duration, working according to the principles and elements of inherent nature, which is called swabhava in our Sanskrit works. The root-meaning of this word swabhava is “self-generation, self-becoming.” We generate ourselves throughout all times: give ourselves our own bodies; climb our own ladders, step by step; seek our own hells and find our own heavens. And, the whole purpose, the whole effort, of universal evolution, according to the teaching of this ancient wisdom, is this: raising personality into individuality, substance into divinity, matter into spirit, grossness into purity.

Whence then came the Absolute, the supreme self or spirit, or Paramatman, of which we are sparks? By growth from within outwards; and from without inwards. It was once, in incalculable aeons gone by, a man. Think of the sublimity involved in this teaching; consider the almost endless aeons of the past; and that what in its far, faraway origin was a spark of divinity, a spark of another and former Absolute, is now our “God,” our Paramatman, our supreme self, of which we are verily the children, and in which we move and live and have our being. . . .

“Are these teachings not thought-compelling? No wonder they have been held secret and sacred in the ancient wisdom.” [bold and underlining added for emphasis]

In the October 1932 issue of “The Theosophical Forum” – a monthly publication of the Point Loma Society – appeared an article titled “A Learning and Growing Entity” in which it was stated:

“Some friend-critics resent the way in Fundamentals [i.e. “Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy” by G. de Purucker] one Parabrahman is piled on top of another, when the understanding in T.S. [i.e. Theosophical Society] has been that Parabrahman is the Absolute, and how can there be more than one Absolute? But to make matters worse G. de P. goes to the length of declaring that the Absolute was once a MAN! Which certainly goes the limit! But although it may be true that this revelation is startling, yet if read in the light of accompanying instruction it is seen to be a logical necessity and mathematically demonstrable. These friend-critics overlook what even some European philosophers have perceived and what G. de P. once and for all clears up – that there is no such thing as an Absolute, the term being necessarily relative and representing nothing but a convenient philosophical abstraction. He demonstrates with ease that there must be as many grades of Parabrahmans and Absolutes (being only actualities in a Universe made up of nothing but relativities) as there are different entities. He destroys the illusion that for all things large or small, high or low, there is an identical Parabrahman.” [bold added]

English Theosophist Ronald Morris wrote to the Editor of “The Theosophical Forum”:

“This [i.e. the above quotation from the October 1932 issue] is a very clear and definite statement, which may usefully be compared with another equally clear and definite statement, that may be found on p. 14 of the Secret Doctrine, where H.P.B. says:

“The Secret Doctrine establishes three fundamental propositions:-

“(a) An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought – in the words of Mandukya, ‘unthinkable and unspeakable.'”

“To which may be added the explanatory remark on p. 16:

“The following summary will afford a clearer idea to the reader.

“(I) The ABSOLUTE; the Parabrahm of the Vedantins or the one Reality, SAT, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.”

“The conflict of opinion revealed in these extracts is not merely verbal, but goes right down to the basic ideas of the Esoteric Philosophy. H.P.B. asserts an “Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable PRINCIPLE . . . The Absolute, the Parabrahm of the Vedantins or the one Reality,” while Dr. de Purucker avers, on the contrary, in the words of his disciple, “A Universe made up of nothing but relativities,” or, in his own words (Forum, p. 59), that “They (Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti) are nevertheless mere words; because beyond ‘That’ there is again something.” H.P.B.’s Parabrahm is the “one Reality”; Dr. de Purucker’s is a “mere word.” H.P.B. proclaims an immutable reality behind samsara; Dr. de Purucker denies it, at least implicitly.

“It may be that Dr. de Purucker has not realized the cleavage between some of the views he has been putting forward and those of H.P.B.; but, with the passages I have quoted in front of him, he can scarcely fail to do so. I venture to suggest that, in order to clear up the situation for all concerned, he should either withdraw or modify those of his theories which negative the First Fundamental Principle of the Secret Doctrine, or he should frankly own that the S.D. was written round a fundamental error. We all admit that he has a perfect right to promulgate his philosophical theories as his own; but many of us will feel bound to object and protest when he advances propositions as being consistent with the Blavatsky teachings, although in fact directly contradicting them.”

As there was apparently no room to include Morris’ letter in “The Theosophical Forum” for quite some time, it was instead published in the very first issue of “The English Theosophical Forum” in January 1933, under the somewhat questionable title “The Absolute – is it Absolute? R. A. V. Morris wants to know.” “Somewhat questionable” in that it misleadingly suggests that Morris was in a state of confusion or doubt about the issue.

The next piece in the January 1933 issue was titled “Dr. de Purucker on The Absolute,” a letter written by Purucker to A. Trevor Barker (Purucker’s right hand man in the UK) as a means of response to the objections and criticisms that had been raised by many Theosophists in regard to this and similar teachings. William Kingsland, who had been a pupil of H. P. Blavatsky in London, was one who had raised his voice in protest against the “Many Absolutes” and “Parabrahm used to be a man” ideas.

In the words of Purucker:

“I am delighted that the matter is being aired by intelligent discussion; but personally I will take no particular part in it. I have given the teaching as it was taught to me, and as I happen to know it to be true, and I also know and positively affirm that it is of course identic with the teaching that H.P.B. gave, for both came from the same source. I also am keenly sensible of the fact that my critics do not realize that they are warring about words, because they have not understood the subtilty and enormous reach of this most important aspect of our Theosophical teaching, for it is in fact a fundamental if ever there was one! . . .

“I repeat that my teaching is exactly identical with H.P.B.’s, although perhaps phrased in somewhat different terms, and if they will carefully read what I have written, especially in Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy and in The Theosophical Forum, they should realize this – at least I hope they will some day.

“I fully recognize that H.P.B., following common custom, uses the word “Absolute” at times as a convenient verbal counter, but her meaning is exactly the same as that which I have given, leaving mere words aside. If Brother Kingsland, for instance, would realize that the “One Unity” on page 16, Volume 1 of The Secret Doctrine, that he quotes, cannot refer to an Absolute, but does refer to the Parabrahmic Infinitude which is beyond a mere One, or an Absolute, because it is a Unity and not a One, he may understand me better. And if Brother Ronald Morris will realize that the entire field of my teaching on this point is comprised in H.P.B.’s wonderful passage in Volume 1, page 14, of The Secret Doctrine, as the First Fundamental Proposition, he too may perhaps in time understand me better.

“This Fundamental Proposition, I will now repeat in H.P.B.’s words, every letter of which expresses the teaching that I have given from the same source, although in rather different phrase, and what she here taught is identic, to the dotting of the i’s, with what I have written and taught. Doubtless far better than I she succeeded in expressing it, to wit:

“An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. It is beyond the range and reach of thought – in the words of Mandukya, ‘unthinkable and unspeakable’.”

“Exactly and absolutely correct!

“Now, since we both agree and simply have different views on the matter, and each prefers to use his own terms, why all this fuss? . . . Are we going to see the Theosophical Movement disgraced by quibbles about a word? I prefer my way, and I intend to use it, because I know that time and examination will prove me right, and because my use is exactly the essential meaning of H.P.B. . . .

“I think I have said quite enough about the matter now, and there will be no need to add anything further. I only hope that those critics will study my books, especially Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, and my various answers to questions in the Theosophical Forum, with the same intelligent interest and skill in research that they have shown hitherto in trying to pick flaws in my presentation and explanation of H.P.B.’s masterly thought in this respect.” [bold added]

Notice how repetitively insistent Purucker is, in even these few short paragraphs, albeit always without providing any clear or solid evidence to support the oft repeated claim:

“I also know and positively affirm that it is of course identic with the teaching that H.P.B. gave”

“I repeat that my teaching is exactly identical with H.P.B.’s”

“her meaning is exactly the same as that which I have given”

“what she here taught is identic, to the dotting of the i’s, with what I have written and taught”

“my use is exactly the essential meaning of H.P.B.”

That same unsubstantiated insistence on supposed identicality between his innovations and HPB’s teachings is one of the most prominent characteristics of Purucker’s books and writings.

Purucker does not claim that the notion of many Absolutes and the Absolute having once been a man is the fruit and conclusion of his own study and contemplation. Far from it; he asserts that this teaching was taught to him by the Masters and that his and HPB’s teachings “both came from the same source.” Further, he maintains – rather oddly, in light of the extremely abstruse and ultra-metaphysical nature of the subject, the Absolute “transcending the power of human conception” and being “beyond the range and reach of thought” – “I happen to know it to be true.”

“Dr. de Purucker on The Absolute” is followed by an article from the pen of A. Trevor Barker, titled “The Relativity of The Absolute.”

In this, Barker casually dismisses Purucker’s critics as “students of the “die-hard” Blavatsky literalist School” and proceeds to propound a typically Purucker-esque teaching:

“. . . since man, in the age-long course of evolution, will inevitably one day become more than man – a God, a Dhyan Chohan, or a Planetary Spirit; and if such an entity run the cosmic race successfully, it will one day become the beating heart, the Central Germ, the Energetic Centre – a Logos, which is the sun of some planetary system. Surely then we must admit, if we are willing to preserve an open mind, . . . there is nothing so false and contradictory as these gentlemen would have us believe in the idea that Brahman the Logos, will one day become Parabrahman, as man will one day become Brahman. “Verily am I the Supreme Brahman, and thou indeed, O Svetaketu, art that.” [Note: quote from the Chandogya Upanishad] Do you not see it, kind friends and brothers? Yes, indeed, Parabrahm was once a man – for It, is the summit of its hierarchy; but beyond and beyond and beyond the highest that we can conceive of there are still greater Ones – endless hierarchies of created beings up towards the Unutterable – one universal law of growth, harmony, analogy and evolution. . . .

“We cannot resist the conclusion that the idea of the relativity of the Absolute is part of the Esoteric Philosophy, and if Dr. de Purucker has helped us to realize it, students with critical minds will do better to thank him for widening their minds, instead of wasting valuable time quoting scripture to try to trip him up and prove him in the wrong.” [bold added]

Barker, blinded by Purucker’s grandiose claims about himself and his occult status, was apparently unable to see that those who seriously questioned and challenged the latter’s teachings were not at all interested in “trying to trip him up and prove him in the wrong” but were simply interested in endeavouring to ensure that the Theosophical Movement at large presents and promulgates Theosophy in the way that the Masters gave it to the world, through the only one They ever called Their “Direct Agent” H. P. Blavatsky, keeping her teachings pure, prominent, and unadulterated, rather than obscuring them with the revelations, innovations, speculations, and personal preferences, of her numerous self-proclaimed “Successors” in the various different Theosophical Society organisations.

Purucker made it clear what he thought of such groups as the United Lodge of Theosophists:

“The United Lodge of Theosophists are in fact bibliolaters, book worshipers. Because they have HPB’s and WQJ’s books, the situation is not so bad; but is not this situation just what the sects in Christianity have degenerated into? Now these good and earnest people otherwise deserve credit for their splendid loyalty to HPB and to Judge, yet if they don’t know it themselves intellectually, they are instinctively conscious of the fact that they have cut themselves off from the living stream of inspiration flowing from the Great Lodge.” (“The Dialogues of G. de Purucker” June 11, 1930)

As we have shown in other articles, in Purucker’s opinion “the living stream of inspiration flowing from the Great Lodge” was flowing primarily or even solely through him.

Brahman and Parabrahm (or Parabrahman) are not distinct from one another but are two terms for the ONE INFINITE UNCHANGING ABSOLUTE. In the original teachings of Theosophy, as in the Upanishadic and Vedantic teachings of Hinduism, Brahman is not the First Logos or any Logos, but is the Absolute, i.e. Parabrahm. Purucker and his followers did not agree but this does not change the facts. We believe it has been sufficiently demonstrated in the article Parabrahm, Brahman, and Brahma – Why The Confusion?

Barker is of course correct in saying that “man will one day become Brahman” but his understanding of it seems remarkably peculiar. Man is already and eternally Brahman – the Absolute – in his essential nature, in the highermost part of his being, in his true Self, for the Higher Self (literally “Atman” in Sanskrit) of each and all is THAT. And the individual soul will one day re-become THAT in consciousness and can merge itself back into the one unchanging Divine. This is the authentic Theosophical teaching and part of the Wisdom-Religion of all ages.

On the website of “The Theosophical Society – Pasadena” is an article titled “THE ABSOLUTE WAS ONCE A MAN” written by E. A. Holmes, in which we are informed:

“In the words of G. de Purucker: “the Absolute was once a man.” There you have the sweep of the plan — evolution from below the animalcule up to the Godhood, and even beyond. The Absolute was once a man. . . . If the Absolute was once a man, then the earth itself was once an atom in the body of that divine human being. . . . Thus do men become gods, and gods become worlds, and worlds become suns, and suns become universes, and universes in their infinitude make up the Absolute, who was once — a man.”

This then is one of the numerous teachings or doctrines upheld by the students and admirers of G. de Purucker, which thus includes “The Theosophical Society – Pasadena” and “The Theosophical Society – Point Loma.” They may call it “Theosophy” if they wish but it is most definitely not the Esoteric Philosophy of H. P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, and the Adepts of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood.

“We have no two beliefs or hypotheses on the same subject.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Key to Theosophy” p. 87)

~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~

There are further articles on our site relating to G. de Purucker and his teachings, including “The Divine Plan” by Geoffrey Barborka – A Review and Examining The Point Loma & Pasadena “Successorship” Claim.