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From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.


Articles by HPB

IN various writings on occult subjects, it has been stated that unselfishness is a sine qua non [Translation: an essential condition  -BNet Eds] for success in occultism. Or a more correct form of putting it, would be that the development of an unselfish feeling is in itself the primary training which brings with it "knowledge which is power" as a necessary accessory. It is not, therefore, "knowledge," as ordinarily understood, that the occultist works for, but it comes to him as a matter of course, in consequence of his having removed the veil, which screens true knowledge from his view. The basis of knowledge exists everywhere, since the phenomenal world furnishes or rather abounds with facts, the causes of which have to be discovered. We see only the effects in the phenomenal world, for each cause in that world is itself the effect of some other cause, and so on; and, therefore, true knowledge consists in getting at the root of all phenomena, and thus arriving at a correct understanding of the primal cause, the "rootless root," which is not an effect in its turn.

To perceive anything correctly, one can use only those senses or instruments which correspond to the nature of that object. Hence, to comprehend the noumenal, a noumenal sense is a pre-requisite; while the transient phenomena can be perceived by senses corresponding to the nature of those phenomena. Occult Philosophy teaches us that the seventh principle is the only eternal Reality, while the rest, belonging as they do to the "world of forms" which are non-permanent, are illusive in the sense that they are transient. To these is limited the phenomenal world which can be taken cognisance of by the senses corresponding to the nature of those six principles. It will thus be clear that it is only the seventh sense, which pertains to the noumenal world, that can comprehend the Abstract Reality underlying all phenomena. As this seventh principle is all-pervading, it exists potentially in all of us; and he, who would arrive at true knowledge, has to develop that sense in him, or rather he must remove those veils which obscure its manifestation. All sense of personality is limited only to these lower six principles, for the former relates only to the "world of forms." Consequently, true "knowledge" can be obtained only by tearing away all the curtains of Maya raised by a sense of personality before the impersonal Atma.

It is only in that personality that is centered selfishness, or rather the latter creates the former and vice versa, since they mutually act and react upon each other. For, selfishness is that feeling which seeks after the aggrandisement of one's own egotistic personality to the exclusion of others. If, therefore, selfishness limits one to narrow personalities, absolute knowledge is impossible so long as selfishness is not got rid of. So long, however, as we are in this world of phenomena, we cannot be entirely rid of a sense of personality, however exalted that feeling may be in the sense that no feeling of personal aggrandisement or ambition remains. We are, by our constitution and state of evolution, placed in the "World of Relativity," but as we find that impersonality and non-duality is the ultimate end of cosmic evolution, we have to endeavor to work along with Nature, and not place ourselves in opposition to its inherent impulse which must ultimately assert itself. To oppose it, must necessitate suffering, since a weaker force, in its egotism, tries to array itself against the universal law.

All that the occultist does, is to hasten this process, by allowing his Will to act in unison with the Cosmic Will or the Demiurgic Mind, which can be done by successfully checking the vain attempt of personality to assert itself in opposition to the former. And since the MAHATMA is but an advanced occultist, who has so far controlled his lower "self" as to hold it more or less in complete subjection to the Cosmic impulse, it is in the nature of things impossible for him to act in any other but an unselfish manner. No sooner does he allow the "personal self" to assert itself, than he ceases to be a MAHATMA. Those, therefore, who being still entangled in the web of the delusive sense of personality charge the MAHATMAS with "selfishness" in withholding "knowledge"--do not consider what they are talking about. The Law of Cosmic evolution is ever operating to achieve its purpose of ultimate unity and to carry the phenomenal into the noumenal plane, and the MAHATMAS, being en rapport [Translation: in relationship -BNet Eds] with it, are assisting that purpose. They therefore know best what knowledge is best for mankind at a particular stage of its evolution, and none else is competent to judge of that matter, since they alone have got to the basic knowledge which can determine the right course and exercise proper discrimination.

For us who are yet struggling in the mire of the illusive senses to dictate what knowledge MAHATMAS shall impart to us and how they shall act, is like a street-boy presuming to teach science to Prof. Huxley or politics to Mr. Gladstone. For, it will be evident that, as soon as the least feeling of selfishness tries to assert itself, the vision of the spiritual sense, which is the only perception of the MAHATMA, becomes clouded and he loses the "power" which abstract "knowledge" alone can confer. Hence, the vigilant watch of the "Will" we have constantly to exercise to prevent our lower nature from coming up to the surface, which it does in our present undeveloped state; and thus extreme activity and not passivity is the essential condition with which the student has to commence. First his activity is directed to check the opposing influence of the "lower self"; and, when that is conquered, his untrammelled Will centered in his higher (real) "self," continues to work most efficaciously and actively in unison with the cosmic ideation in the "Divine Mind."

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, August, 1884


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol.. II.


Articles by HPB

THE particulars of the case of "obsession," alluded to in the April number of this magazine, are given in the following letter from a respectable English medical man who is in attendance upon the victim:--

I take the liberty of addressing you in the cause of humanity, with the intention of exciting your sympathies and obtaining all the aid in your power to afford, in a case of "control." You will understand that the gentleman is being made a medium against his wish, through having attended a few séances for the purpose of witnessing "materialization."

Ever since, he has been more or less subject to a series of persecutions by the "controlling" spirit and, in spite of every effort of his to throw off the influence, he has been made to suffer most shamefully and painfully in very many ways and under most trying and aggravating circumstances, especially by his thoughts being forced into forbidden channels without external causes being present--the bodily functions overruled, even being caused to bite his tongue and cheeks severely whilst eating, &c., and subjected to every species of petty annoyances which will serve as a means for the "control" (unknown) to sustain and establish the connection. The details are in their most painful features not such as I can write to you; but if there be any means known to you whereby the influence can be diverted, and it is thought necessary to be more particular in my description of this case, I will send you all the information I possess.

So little is known in India of the latest and most startling phase of Western mediumistic phenomena--"materialization,"--that a few words of explanation are needed to make this case understood. Briefly, then, for several years, in the presence of certain mediums in America and Europe, there have been seen, often under good test conditions, apparitions of the dead, which in every respect seem like living human beings. They walk about, write messages to present and absent friends, speak audibly in the languages familiar to them in life, even though the medium may be unacquainted with them, and are dressed in the garb they wore when alive. Many cases of fraudulent personation of the dead have been detected, pretended mediums have sometimes gone on for years deceiving the credulous, and real ones, whose psychical powers have been apparently proved beyond doubt, have been caught playing tricks in some evil hour when they have yielded to either the love of money or notoriety. Still, making every allowance for all these, there is a residuum of veritable cases of the materialization, or the making visible, tangible and audible of portrait figures of dead people. These wonderful phenomena have been variously regarded by investigators. Most Spiritualists have looked upon them as the most precious proofs of the soul-survival; while Theosophists, acquainted with the views of the ancient Theurgists, and the still more ancient Aryan philosophers, have viewed them as at best misleading deceptions of the senses, fraught with danger to the physical and moral natures of both medium and spectator--if the latter chances to be susceptible to certain psychical influences. These students of Occultism have noticed that the mediums for materializations have too often been ruined in health by the drain upon their systems, and wrecked in morals. They have over and again warned the Spiritualistic public that mediumship was a most dangerous gift, one only to be tolerated under great precautions. And for this they have received much abuse and few thanks. Still one's duty must be done at every cost, and the case now before us affords a valuable text for one more bit of friendly counsel.

We need not stop to discuss the question whether the so-called materialized forms above described are or are not those of the deceased they look like. That may be held in reserve until the bottom facts of Oriental psychical science are better understood. Nor need we argue as to whether there has ever been an authentic materialization. The London experiences of Mr. William Crookes, F.R.S., and the American ones of Colonel Olcott, both so widely known and of so convincing a character, give us a sufficient basis of fact to argue upon. We assume the reality of materializations, and shall take the instance cited by the English physician as a subject for diagnosis.

The patient then is described as having been "controlled" since attending "circles" where there were materializations, and as having become the bond-slave of some evil powers which force him to say and do painful and even disgusting things, despite his resistance. Why is this? How can a man be compelled to so act against his will? What is Obsession? Three brief questions these are, but most difficult to explain to an uninitiated public. The laws of Obsession can only be well understood by him who has sounded the depths of Indian philosophy. The only clue to the secret, which the West possesses, is contained in that most beneficent science, Magnetism or Mesmerism. That does teach the existence of a vital fluid within and about the human being; the fact of different human polarities; and the possibility of one person projecting this fluid or force at will, to and upon another person differently polarized. Baron Reichenbach's theory of Odyle or Odic force shows us the existence of this same fluid in the mineral and vegetable as well as the animal kingdoms. To complete the chain of evidence, Buchanan's discovery of the psychometrical faculty in man enables us to prove, by the help of this faculty, that a subtle influence is exerted by people upon the houses and even the localities they live in, the paper they write upon, the clothing they wear, the portion of the Universal Ether (the Aryan Akása) they exist in--and that this is a permanent influence, perceptible even at the most distant epochs from the time when the individual lived and exerted this influence. In one word, we may say that the discoveries of Western science corroborate most fully the hints thrown out by Greek sages and the more defined theories of certain Indian philosophers.

Indians and Buddhists believe alike that thought and deed are both material, that they survive, that the evil desires and the good ones of a man environ him in a world of his own making, that these desires and thoughts take on shapes that become real to him after death, and that Moksha. in the one case, and Nirvana, in the other, cannot be attained until the disembodied soul has passed quite through this shadow-world of the haunting thoughts, and become divested of the last spot of its earthly taint. The progress of Western discovery in this direction has been and must ever be very gradual. From the phenomena of gross to those of more sublimated matter, and thence on towards the mysteries of spirit is the hard road made necessary by the precepts of Aristotle. Western Science first ascertained that our outcoming breath is charged with carbonic acid and, in excess, becomes fatal to human life; then, that certain dangerous diseases are passed from person to person in the sporules thrown off into the air from the sick body; then, that man projects upon every body and every thing he encounters a magnetic aura, peculiar to himself; and, finally, the physical disturbance set up in the Ether in the process of thought-evolution is now postulated. Another step in advance will be to realize the magical creative power of the human mind, and the fact that moral taint is just as transmissible as physical. The "influence" of bad companions will then be understood to imply a degrading personal magnetism, more subtle than the impressions conveyed to the eye or the ear by the sights and sounds of a vicious company. The latter may be repelled by resolutely avoiding to see or hear what is bad; but the former enwraps the sensitive and penetrates his very being if he but stop where the moral poison is floating in the air. Gregory's "Animal Magnetism," Reichenbach's "Researches," and Denton's "Soul of Things" will make much of this plain to the Western inquirer, though neither of those authors traces the connection of his favourite branch of science with the parent-stock--Indian Psychology.

Keeping the present case in view, we see a man highly susceptible to magnetic impressions, ignorant of the nature of the "materializations" and, therefore, unable to protect himself against bad influences, brought in contact with promiscuous circles where the impressionable medium has long been the unwitting nucleus of evil magnetisms, his system saturated with the emanations of the surviving thoughts and desires of those who are living and those who are dead. The reader is referred to an interesting paper by Judge Gadgil of Baroda (see our December number), on "Hindu Ideas about Communion with the Dead," for a plain exposition of this question of earth-tied souls, or Pisachas. "It is considered," says that writer, "that in this state, the soul, being deprived of the means of enjoyment of sensual pleasures through its own physical body, is perpetually tormented by hunger, appetite and other bodily desires, and can have only vicarious enjoyment by entering into the living physical bodies of others, or by absorbing the subtlest essences of libations and oblations offered for their own sake." What is there to surprise us in the fact that a negatively polarized man, a man of a susceptible temperament, being suddenly brought into a current of foul emanations from some vicious person, perhaps still living or perhaps dead, absorbes the insidious poison as rapidly as quicklime does moisture, until he is saturated with it? Thus, a susceptible body will absorb the virus of small-pox, or cholera, or typhus, and we need only recall this to draw the analogy which Occult Science affirms to be warranted.

Near the Earth's surface there hangs over us--to use a convenient simile--a steamy moral fog, composed of the undispersed exhalations of human vice and passion. This fog penetrates the sensitive to the very soul's core; his psychic self absorbs it as the sponge does water, or as fresh milk effluvia. It benumbs his moral sense, spurs his baser instincts into activity, overpowers his good resolutions. As the fumes of a wine-vault make the brain reel or as the choke-damp stifles one's breath in a mine, so this heavy cloud of immoral influences carries away the sensitive beyond the limits of self-control, and he becomes "obsessed," like our English patient.

What remedy is there to suggest? Does not our very diagnosis indicate that? The sensitive must have his sensitiveness destroyed; the negative polarity must be changed to a positive; he must become active instead of passive. He can be helped by a magnetiser who understands the nature of obsession, and who is morally pure and physically healthy; it must be a powerful magnetiser, a man of commanding will-force. But the fight for freedom will, after all, have to be fought by the patient himself. His will-power must be aroused. He must expel the poison from his system. Inch by inch he must win back the lost ground. He must realize that it is a question of life or death, salvation or ruin, and strive for victory, like one who makes a last and heroic effort to save his life. His diet must be of the simplest, he must neither eat animal food, nor touch any stimulant, nor put himself in any company where there is the smallest chance for unclean thoughts to be provoked. He should be alone as little as possible, but his companions should be carefully chosen. He should take exercise and be much in the open air; use wood-fire, instead of coals. Every indication that the bad influence was still working within him should be taken as a challenge to control his thoughts and compel them to dwell upon pure, elevating, spiritual things, at every hazard and with a determination to suffer anything rather than give way. If this man can have such a spirit infused into him, and his physician can secure the benevolent help of a strong, healthy magnetiser, of pure character, he may be saved. A case almost exactly like this one, except that the patient was a lady, came under our notice in America; the same advice as the above was given and followed, and the obsessing "devil" was driven out and has been kept out ever since.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, May 1880


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.


Articles by HPB

AS the word Chela has, among others, been introduced by Theosophy into the nomenclature of Western metaphysics, and the circulation of our magazine is constantly widening, it will be as well if some more definite explanation than heretofore is given with respect to the meaning of this term and the rules of Chelaship, for the benefit of our European if not Eastern members. A "Chela" then, is one who has offered himself or herself as a pupil to learn practically the "hidden mysteries of Nature and the psychical powers latent in man." The spiritual teacher to whom he proposes his candidature is called in India a Guru; and the real Guru is always an Adept in the Occult Science. A man of profound knowledge, exoteric and esoteric, especially the latter; and one who has brought his carnal nature under subjection of the WILL; who has developed in himself both the power (Siddhi) to control the forces of nature, and the capacity to probe her secrets by the help of the formerly latent but now active powers of his being:--this is the real Guru. To offer oneself as a candidate for Chelaship is easy enough, to develop into an Adept the most difficult task any man could possibly undertake. There are scores of "natural-born" poets, mathematicians, mechanics, statesmen, etc., but a natural-born Adept is something practically impossible. For, though we do hear at very rare intervals of one who has an extraordinary innate capacity for the acquisition of occult knowledge and power, yet even he has to pass the self-same tests and probations, and go through the same self-training as any less endowed fellow aspirant. In this matter it is most true that there is no royal road by which favourites may travel.

For centuries the selection of Chelas--outside the hereditary group within the gon-pa (temple)--has been made by the Himalayan Mahatmas themselves from among the class--in Tibet, a considerable one as to number--of natural mystics. The only exceptions have been in the cases of Western men like Fludd, Thomas Vaughan, Paracelsus, Pico di Mirandola, Count St. Germain, etc., whose temperamental affinity to this celestial science more or less forced the distant Adepts to come into personal relations with them, and enabled them to get such small (or large) proportion of the whole truth as was possible under their social surroundings. From Book IV of Kiu-te, Chapter on "the Laws of Upasans," we learn that the qualifications expected in a Chela were:--

1. Perfect physical health;

2. Absolute mental and physical purity;

3. Unselfishness of purpose; universal charity; pity for all animate beings;

4. Truthfulness and unswerving faith in the law of Karma, independent of any power in nature that could interfere: a law whose course is not to be obstructed by any agency, not to be caused to deviate by prayer or propitiatory exoteric ceremonies;

5. A courage undaunted in every emergency, even by peril to life;

6. An intuitional perception of one's being the vehicle of the manifested Avalokitesvara or Divine Atman (Spirit);

7. Calm indifference for, but a just appreciation of everything that constitutes the objective and transitory world, in its relation with, and to, the invisible regions.

Such, at the least, must have been the recommendations of one aspiring to perfect Chelaship. With the sole exception of the 1st, which in rare and exceptional cases might have been modified, each one of these points has been invariably insisted upon, and all must have been more or less developed in the inner nature by the Chela's UNHELPED EXERTIONS, before he could be actually put to the test.

When the self-evolving ascetic--whether in, or outside the active world--had placed himself, according to his natural capacity, above, hence made himself master of, his (1) Sarira--body; (2) lndriya--senses; (3) Dosha--faults; (4) Dukkha--pain; and is ready to become one with his Manas--mind; Buddhi--intellection, or spiritual intelligence; and Atma--highest soul, i.e., spirit. When he is ready for this, and, further, to recognize in Atma the highest ruler in the world of perceptions, and in the will, the highest executive energy (power), then may he, under the time-honoured rules, be taken in hand by one of the Initiates. He may then be shown the mysterious path at whose thither end the Chela is taught the unerring discernment of Phala, or the fruits of causes produced, and given the means of reaching Apavarga--emancipation, from the misery of repeated births (in whose determination the ignorant has no hand), and thus of avoiding Pratya-bhava--transmigration.

But since the advent of the Theosophical Society, one of whose arduous tasks it was to re-awaken in the Aryan mind the dormant memory of the existence of this science and of those transcendent human capabilities, the rules of Chela selection have become slightly relaxed in one respect. Many members of the Society becoming convinced by practical proof upon the above points, and rightly enough thinking that if other men had hitherto reached the goal, they too if inherently fitted, might reach it by following the same path, pressed to be taken as candidates. And as it would be an interference with Karma to deny them the chance of at least beginning--since they were so importunate, they were given it. The results have been far from encouraging so far, and it is to show these unfortunates the cause of their failure as much as to warn others against rushing heedlessly upon a similar fate, that the writing of the present article has been ordered. The candidates in question, though plainly warned against it in advance, began wrong by selfishly looking to the future and losing sight of the past. They forgot that they had done nothing to deserve the rare honour of selection, nothing which warranted their expecting such a privilege; that they could boast of none of the above enumerated merits. As men of the selfish, sensual world, whether married or single, merchants, civilian or military employees, or members of the learned professions, they had been to a school most calculated to assimilate them to the animal nature, least so to develope their spiritual potentialities. Yet each and all had vanity enough to suppose that their case would be made an exception to the law of countless centuries' establishment as though, indeed, in their person had been born to the world a new Avatar! All expected to have hidden things taught, extraordinary powers given them because--well, because they had joined the Theosophical Society. Some had sincerely resolved to amend their lives, and give up their evil courses; we must do them that justice, at all events.

All were refused at first, Col. Olcott, the President, himself, to begin with; and as to the latter gentleman there is now no harm in saying that he was not formally accepted as a Chela until he had proved by more than a year's devoted labours and by a determination which brooked no denial, that he might safely be tested. Then from all sides came complaints--from Hindus, who ought to have known better, as well as from Europeans who, of course, were not in a condition to know anything at all about the rules. The cry was that unless at least a few Theosophists were given the chance to try, the Society could not endure. Every other noble and unselfish feature of our programme was ignored--a man's duty to his neighbour, to his country, his duty to help, enlighten, encourage and elevate those weaker and less favoured than he; all were trampled out of sight in the insane rush for adeptship. The call for phenomena, phenomena, phenomena, resounded in every quarter, and the Founders were impeded in their real work and teased importunately to intercede with the Mahatmas, against whom the real grievance lay, though their poor agents had to take all the buffets. At last, the word came from the higher authorities that a few of the most urgent candidates should be taken at their word. The result of the experiment would perhaps show better than any amount of preaching what Chelaship meant, and what are the consequences of selfishness and temerity. Each candidate was warned that he must wait for years in any event, before his fitness could be proven, and that he must pass through a series of tests that would bring out all there was in him, whether bad or good. They were nearly all married men and hence were designated "Lay Chelas"--a term new in English, but having long had its equivalent in Asiatic tongues. A Lay Chela is but a man of the world who affirms his desire to become wise in spiritual things. Virtually, every member of the Theosophical Society who subscribes to the second of our three "Declared Objects" is such; for though not of the number of true Chelas, he has yet the possibility of becoming one, for he has stepped across the boundary-line which separated him from the Mahatmas, and has brought himself, as it were, under their notice. In joining the Society and binding himself to help along its work, he has pledged himself to act in some degree in concert with those Mahatmas, at whose behest the Society was organized, and under whose conditional protection it remains. The joining is then, the introduction; all the rest depends entirely upon the member himself, and he need never expect the most distant approach to the "favor" of one of our Mahatmas, or any other Mahatmas in the world--should the latter consent to become known--that has not been fully earned by personal merit. The Mahatmas are the servants, not the arbiters of the Law of Karma. LAY-CHELASHIP CONFERS NO PRIVILEGE UPON ANY ONE EXCEPT THAT OF WORKING FOR MERIT UNDER THE OBSERVATION OF A MASTER. And whether that Master be or be not seen by the Chela makes no difference whatever as to the result: his good thoughts, words and deeds will bear their fruits, his evil ones, theirs. To boast of Lay Chelaship or make a parade of it, is the surest way to reduce the relationship with the Guru to a mere empty name, for it would be primâ facie evidence of vanity and unfitness for farther progress. And for years we have been teaching everywhere the maxim "First deserve, then desire" intimacy with the Mahatmas.

Now there is a terrible law operative in nature, one which cannot be altered, and whose operation clears up the apparent mystery of the selection of certain "Chelas" who have turned out sorry specimens of morality, these few years past. Does the reader recall the old proverb, "Let sleeping dogs lie"? There is a world of occult meaning in it. No man or woman knows his or her moral strength until it is tried. Thousands go through life very respectably, because they were never put to the pinch. This is a truism doubtless, but it is most pertinent to the present case. One who undertakes to try for Chelaship by that very act rouses and lashes to desperation every sleeping passion of his animal nature. For this is the commencement of a struggle for the mastery in which quarter is neither to be given nor taken. It is, once for all, "To be, or Not to be"; to conquer, means ADEPTSHIP; to fail, an ignoble Martyrdom: for to fall victim to lust, pride, avarice, vanity, selfishness, cowardice, or any other of the lower propensities, is indeed ignoble, if measured by the standard of true manhood. The Chela is not only called to face all the latent evil propensities of his nature, but, in addition, the whole volume of maleficent power accumulated by the community and nation to which he belongs. For he is an integral part of those aggregates, and what affects either the individual man, or the group (town or nation) reacts upon the other. And in this instance his struggle for goodness jars upon the whole body of badness in his environment, and draws its fury upon him. If he is content to go along with his neighbours and be almost as they are--perhaps a little better or somewhat worse than the average--no one may give him a thought. But let it be known that he has been able to detect the hollow mockery of social life, its hypocrisy, selfishness, sensuality, cupidity and other bad features, and has determined to lift himself up to a higher level, at once he is hated, and every bad, or bigoted, or malicious nature sends at him a current of opposing will power. If he is innately strong he shakes it off, as the powerful swimmer dashes through the current that would bear a weaker one away. But in this moral battle, if the Chela has one single hidden blemish--do what he may, it shall and will be brought to light. The varnish of conventionalities which "civilization" overlays us all with must come off to the last coat, and the Inner Self, naked and without the slightest veil to conceal its reality, is exposed. The habits of society which hold men to a certain degree under moral restraint, and compel them to pay tribute to virtue by seeming to be good whether they are so or not, these habits are apt to be all forgotten, these restraints to be all broken through under the strain of chelaship. He is now in an atmosphere of illusions--Maya. Vice puts on its most alluring face, and the tempting passions try to lure the inexperienced aspirant to the depths of psychic debasement. This is not a case like that depicted by a great artist, where Satan is seen playing a game of chess with a man upon the stake of his soul, while the latter's good angel stands beside him to counsel and assist. For the strife is in this instance between the Chela's Will and his carnal nature, and Karma forbids that any angel or Guru should interfere until the result is known. With the vividness of poetic fancy Bulwer Lytton has idealised it for us in his Zanoni, a work which will ever be prized by the occultist; while in his Strange Story he has with equal power shown the black side of occult research and its deadly perils. Chelaship was defined, the other day, by a Mahatma as a "psychic resolvent, which eats away all dross and leaves only the pure gold behind." If the candidate has the latent lust for money, or political chicanery, or materialistic scepticism, or vain display, or false speaking, or cruelty, or sensual gratification of any kind, the germ is almost sure to sprout; and so, on the other hand, as regards the noble qualities of human nature. The real man comes out. Is it not the height of folly, then, for any one to leave the smooth path of common-place life to scale the crags of chelaship without some reasonable feeling of certainty that he has the right stuff in him? Well says the Bible: "Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall"--a text that would-be Chelas should consider well before they rush headlong into the fray! It would have been well for some of our Lay-Chelas it they had thought twice before defying the tests. We call to mind several sad failures within a twelvemonth. One went bad in the head, recanted noble sentiments uttered but a few weeks previously, and became a member of a religion he had just scornfully and unanswerably proven false. A second became a defaulter and absconded with his employer's money--the latter also a Theosophist. A third gave himself up to gross debauchery, and confessed it with ineffectual sobs and tears, to his chosen Guru. A fourth got entangled with a person of the other sex and fell out with his dearest and truest friends. A fifth showed signs of mental aberration and was brought into Court upon charges of discreditable conduct. A sixth shot himself to escape the consequences of criminality, on the verge of detection! And so we might go on and on. All these were apparently sincere searchers after truth, and passed in the world for respectable persons. Externally, they were fairly eligible as candidates for Chelaship, as appearances go; but "within all was rottenness and dead men's bones." The world's varnish was so thick as to hide the absence of the true gold underneath; and the "resolvent" doing its work, the candidate proved in each instance but a gilded figure of moral dross, from circumference to core. . . .

In what precedes we have, of course, dealt but with the failures among Lay-Chelas; there have been partial successes too, and these are passing gradually through the first stages of their probation. Some are making themselves useful to the Society and to the world in general by good example and precept. If they persist, well for them, well for us all: the odds are fearfully against them, but still "there is no Impossibility to him who WILLS." The difficulties in Chelaship will never be less until human nature changes and a new sort is evolved. St. Paul (Rom. vii, 18, 19) might have had a Chela in mind when he said "to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do." And in the wise Kirátárjuniya of Bharávi it is written:--

The enemies which rise within the body,
Hard to be overcome--the evil passions--
Should manfully be fought; who conquers these
Is equal to the conqueror of worlds. (xi, 32.)

H. P. Blavatsky

Supplement to Theosophist, July, 1883



From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. I.


Articles by HPB

NOTWITHSTANDING the many articles which have appeared in this magazine upon the above subject, much misunderstanding and many false views seem still to prevail. What are Chelas, and what are their powers? Have they faults, and in what particular are they different from people who are not Chelas? Is every word uttered by a Chela to be taken as gospel truth?

These questions arise because many persons have entertained very absurd views for a time about Chelas, and when it was found that those views should be changed, the reaction has been in several cases quite violent.

The word "Chela" simply means a disciple; but it has become crystallized in the literature of Theosophy, and has, in different minds, as many different definitions as the word "God" itself. Some persons have gone so far as to say that when a man is a Chela he is at once put on a plane when each word that he may unfortunately utter is taken down as ex cathedra, and he is not allowed the poor privilege of talking like an ordinary person. If it be found out that any such utterance was on his own account and responsibility, he is charged with having misled his hearers.

Now this wrong idea must be corrected once for all. There are Chelas and Chelas, just as there are MAHATMAS and MAHATMAS. There are MAHATMAS in fact who are themselves the Chelas of those who are higher yet. But no one, for an instant, would confound a Chela who has just begun his troublous journey with that greater Chela who is a MAHATMA.

In fact the Chela is an unfortunate man who has entered upon "a path not manifest," and Krishna says that "that is the most difficult path."

Instead of being the constant mouthpiece of his Guru, he finds himself left more alone in the world than those who are not Chelas, and his path is surrounded by dangers which would appall many an aspirant, were they depicted in natural colors, so that instead of accepting his Guru and passing an entrance examination with a view to becoming Bachelor of the Art of Occultism under his master's constant and friendly guidance, he really forces his way into a guarded enclosure, and has from that moment to fight and conquer--or die. Instead of accepting he has to be worthy of acceptance. Nor must he offer himself. One of the Mahatmas has, within the year, written--"Never thrust yourself upon us for Chelaship; wait until it descends upon you."

And having been accepted as a Chela, it is not true that he is merely the instrument of his Guru. He speaks as ordinary men then as before, and it is only when the master sends by means of the Chela's Magnetism an actual written letter, that the lookers-on can say that through him a communication came.

It may happen with them, as it does with any author occasionally, that they evolve either true or beautiful utterances, but it must not be therefore concluded that during that utterance the Guru was speaking through the Chela. If there was the germ of a good thought in the mind, the Guru's influence, like the gentle rain upon the seed, may have caused it to spring into sudden life and abnormally blossom, but that is not the master's voice. The cases in fact are rare in which the masters speak through a Chela.

The powers of Chelas vary with their progress; and every one should know that if a Chela has any "powers," he is not permitted to use them save in rare and exceptional cases, and never may he boast of their possession. So it must follow that those who are only beginners have no more or greater power than an ordinary man. Indeed the goal set before the Chela is not the acquisition of psychological power; his chief task is to divest himself of that overmastering sense of personality which is the thick veil that hides from sight our immortal part--the real man. So long as he allows this feeling to remain, just so long will he be fixed at the very door of Occultism, unable to proceed further.

Sentimentality then, is not the equipment for a Chela. His work is hard, his road stony, the end far away. With sentimentality merely he will not advance at all. Is he waiting for the master to bid him show his courage by precipitating himself from a precipice, or by braving the cold Himalayan steeps? False hope; they will not call him thus. And so, as be is not to clothe himself in sentiment, the public must not, when they wish to consider him, throw a false veil of sentimentality over all his actions and words.

Let us therefore, henceforth, see a little more discrimination used in looking at Chelas.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, October, 1884



From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.


Articles by HPB

THE following notes have been collected partly from an old work by a French missionary who lived in China for over forty years; some from a very curious unpublished work by an American gentleman who has kindly lent the writer his notes; some from information given by the Abbé Huc to the Chevalier Des Mousseaux and the Marquis De Mirville--for these the last two gentlemen are responsible. Most of our facts, however, come from a Chinese gentleman residing for some years in Europe.

Man, according to the Chinaman, is composed of four root-substances and three acquired "semblances." This is the magical and universal occult tradition, dating from an antiquity which has its origin in the night of time. A Latin poet shows the same source of information in his country, when declaring that:

Bis duo sunt hominis: manes, caro, spiritus, umbra:
Quatuor ista loca bis duo suscipiunt.
Terra tegit carnem, tumulum circumvolat umbra,
Orcus habet manes, spiritus astra petit.

The phantom known and described in the Celestial Empire is quite orthodox according to occult teachings, though there exist several theories in China upon it.

The human soul, says the chief (temple) teaching, helps man to become a rational and intelligent creature, but it is neither simple (homogeneous) nor spiritual; it is a compound of all that is subtle in matter. This "soul" is divided by its nature and actions into two principal parts: the LING and the HOUEN. The ling is the better adapted of the two for spiritual and intellectual operations, and has an "upper" ling or soul over it which is divine. Moreover, out of the union of the lower ling and houen is formed, during man's life, a third and mixed being, fit for both intellectual and physical processes, for good and evil, while the houen is absolutely bad. Thus we have four principles in these two "substances," which correspond, as is evident, to our Buddhi, the divine "upper" ling; to Manas, the lower ling, whose twin, the houen, stands for Kama-rupa--the body of passion, desire and evil; and then we have in the "mixed being" the outcome or progeny of both ling and houen--the "Mayavi," the astral body.

Then comes the definition of the third root-substance. This is attached to the body only during life, the body being the fourth substance, pure matter; and after the death of the latter, separating itself from the corpse--but not before its complete dissolution--it vanishes in thin air like a shadow with the last particle of the substance that generated it. This is of course Prâna, the life-principle or vital form. Now, when man dies, the following takes place:--the "upper" ling ascends heavenward--into Nirvâna, the paradise of Amitâbha, or any other region of bliss that agrees with the respective sect of each Chinaman--carried off by the Spirit of the Dragon of Wisdom (the seventh principle); the body and its principle vanish gradually and are annihilated; remain the ling-houen and the "mixed being." If the man was good, the "mixed being" disappears also after a time; if he was bad and was entirely under the sway of houen, the absolutely evil principle, then the latter transforms his "mixed being" into koueïs--which answers to the Catholic idea of a damned soul 1 [Footnote: 1. The spiritual portion of the ling becomes chen (divine and saintly), after death, to become hien--an absolute saint (a Nirvanee when joined entirely with the Dragon of Wisdom ). ] --and, imparting to it a terrible vitality and power, the koueïs becomes the alter ego and the executioner of houen in all his wicked deeds. The houen and koueïs unite into one shadowy but strong entity, and may, by separating at will, and acting in two different places at a time, do terrible mischief.

The koueïs is an anima damnata according to the good missionaries, who thus make of the milliards of deceased "unbaptized" Chinamen an army of devils, who, considering they are of a material substance, ought by this time to occupy the space between our earth and the moon and feel themselves as much at ease as closely packed-up herrings in a tin-box. "The koueïs, being naturally wicked," says the Memoire, "do all the evil they can. They hold the middle between man and the brute and participate of the faculties of both. They have all the vices of man and every dangerous instinct of the animal. Sentenced to ascend no higher than our atmosphere, they congregate around the tombs and in the vicinity of mines, swamps, sinks and slaughter-houses, everywhere wherein rottenness and decay are found. The emanations of the latter are their favourite food, and it is with the help of those elements and atoms, and of the vapours from corpses, that they form for themselves visible and fantastic bodies to deceive and frighten men with. . . . These miserable spirits with deceptive bodies seek incessantly the means for preventing men from getting salvation" (read, being baptized), ". . . and of forcing them to become damned as they themselves are" (p. 222, Memoires concernant l'histoire, les sciences, les arts, les mœurs, etc., des Chinois, par les Missionaires de Pekin, 1791). 2 [Footnote: 2. According to the most ancient doctrines of magic, violent deaths and leaving the body exposed, instead of burning or burying it--led to the discomfort and pain of its astral (Linga Sarira), which died out only at the dissolution of the last particle of the matter that had composed the body. Sorcery or black magic, it is said, had always availed itself of this knowledge for necromantic and sinful purposes, "Sorcerers offer to unrestful souls decayed remnants of animals to force them to appear" (see Porphyry, Sacrifice). St. Athanasius was accused of the black art, for having preserved the hand of Bishop Arsenius for magical operations. "Patet quod animæ illæ quæ, post mortem, adhuc, relicta corpora diligunt, quemadmodum animæ sepultura carentiumt et adhuc in turbido illo humidoque spiritu [the spiritual or fluidic body, the houen] circa cadavera sua oberrant, tanquam circa cognatum aliquod eos alliciens," etc See Cornelius Agrippa De Occulta Philosophia, pp. 354-5; Le Fantóme Humain by Des Mousseaux. Homer and Horace have described many a time such evocations. In India it is practised to this day by some Tântrikas. Thus modern sorcery, as well as white magic, occultism and spiritualism, with their branches of mesmerism, hypnotism, etc., show their doctrines and methods linked to those of the highest antiquity, since the same ideas, beliefs and practices are found now as in old Aryavarta, Egypt and China, Greece and Rome. Read the treatise, careful and truthful as to facts, however erroneous as to the author's conclusions, by P. Thyrée, Loca Infesta, and you will find that the localities most favourable for the evocations of spirits are those where a murder has been committed, a burying ground, deserted places, etc. ]

This is how our old friend, the Abbé Huc, the Lazarist, unfrocked for showing the origin of certain Roman Catholic rites in Tibet and China, describes the houen. "What is the houen is a question to which it is difficult to give a clear answer. . . . It is, if you so like it, something vague, something between a spirit, a genii, and vitality" (see Huc's Voyage à la Chine, vol. II, p. 394). He seems to regard the houen as the future operator in the business of resurrection, which it will effect by attracting to itself the atomic substance of the body, which will be thus re-formed on the day of resurrection. This answers well enough the Christian idea of one body and merely one personality to be resurrected. But if the houen has to unite on that day the atoms of all the bodies the Monad had passed through and inhabited, then even that "very cunning creature" might find itself not quite equal to the occasion. However, as while the ling is plunged in felicity, its ex-houen is left behind to wander and suffer, it is evident that the houen and the "elementary" are identical. As it is also undeniable that had disembodied man the faculty of being at one and the same time in Devachan and in Kama-loka, whence he might come to us, and put in an occasional appearance in a séance-room or elsewhere--then man--as just shown by the ling or houen--would be possessed of the double faculty of experiencing a simultaneous and distinct feeling of two contraries--bliss and torture. The ancients understood so well the absurdity of this theory, knowing that no absolute bliss could have place wherein there was the smallest alloy of misery, that while supposing the higher Ego of Homer to be in Elysium, they showed the Homer weeping by the Acherusia as no better than the simulacrum of the poet, his empty and deceptive image, or what we call the "shell of the false personality." 3 [Footnote: 3. See Lucretius De Nat. Rerum I,1, who calls it a simulacrum.  ]

There is but one real Ego in each man and it must necessarily be either in one place or in another, in bliss or in grief.4 [Footnote: 4. Though antiquity (like esoteric philosophy) seems to divide soul into the divine and the animal, anima divina and anima bruta, the former being called nous and phren, yet the two were but the double aspect of a unity. Diogenes Laërtius (De Vit. Clar. Virc. I., 8, 30) gives the common belief that the animal soul, phren--Φρην  generally the diaphragm--resided in the stomach, Diogenes calling the anima bruta φνμος, Pythagoras and Plato also make the same division, calling the divine or rational soul λογον and the irrational "αλογον. Empedocles gives to men and animals a dual soul, not two souls as is believed. The Theosophists and Occultists divide man into seven principles and speak of a divine and animal soul: but they add that Spirit being one and indivisible, all these "souls" and principles are only its aspects. Spirit alone is immortal, infinite, and the one reality--the rest is all evanescent and temporary, illusion and delusion. Des Mousseaux is very wroth with the late Baron Dupotet, who places an intelligent "spirit" in each of our organs, simply because he is unable to grasp the Baron's idea.  ]

The houen, to return to it, is said to be the terror of men; in China, "that horrid spectre" troubles the living, penetrates into houses and closed objects, and takes possession of people, as "spirits" are shown to do in Europe and America--the houens of children being of still greater malice than the houens of adults. This belief is so strong in China that when they want to get rid of a child they carry it far away from home, hoping thereby to puzzle the houen and make him lose his way home.

As the houen is the fluidic or gaseous likeness of its defunct body, in judicial medicine experts use this likeness in cases of suspected murders to get at the truth. The formulæ used to evoke the houen of a person dying under suspicious circumstances are officially accepted and these means are resorted to very often, according to Huc, who told Des Mousseaux (see Les Mediateurs de la Magie, p. 310) that the instructing magistrate after having recited the evocation over the corpse, used vinegar mixed with some mysterious ingredients, as might any other necromancer. When the houen has appeared, it is always in the likeness of the victim as it was at the moment of its death. If the body has been burned before judicial enquiry, the houen reproduces on its body the wounds or lesions received by the murdered man--the crime is proven and justice takes note of it. The sacred books of the temples contain the complete formulas of such evocations, and even the name of the murderer may be forced from the complacent houen. In this the Chinamen were followed by Christian nations however. During the Middle Ages the suspected murderer was placed by the judges before the victim, and if at that moment blood began to flow from the open wounds, it was held as a sign that the accused was the criminal. This belief survives to this day in France, Germany, Russia, and all the Slavonian countries. "The wounds of a murdered man will re-open at the approach of his murderer" says a jurisprudential work (Binsfeld, De Conf. Malef., p. 136).

"The houen can neither be buried underground nor drowned; he travels above the ground and prefers keeping at home."

In the province of Ho-nan the teaching varies. Delaplace, a bishop in China, 5 [Footnote: 5. Annales de la propagation de la foi. No.143; July, 1852.  ] tells of the "heathen Chinee" most extraordinary stories with regard to this subject. "Every man, they say, has three houens in him. At death one of the houens incarnates in a body he selects for himself; the other remains in, and with, the family, and becomes the lar; and the third watches the tomb of its corpse. Papers and incense are burnt in honour of the latter, as a sacrifice to the manes; the domestic houen takes his abode in the family record-tablets amidst engraved characters, and sacrifice is also offered to him, hiangs (sticks made of incense) are burnt in his honour, and funeral repasts are prepared for him; in which case the two houens will keep quiet"--if they are those of adults, nota bene.

Then follows a series of ghastly stories. If we read the whole literature of magic from Homer down to Dupotet we shall find everywhere the same assertion: Man is a triple, and esoterically a septenary, compound of mind, of reason, and of an eidolon, and these three are (during life) one. "I call the soul's idol that power which vivifies and governs the body, whence are derived the senses, and through which the soul displays the strength of the senses and FEEDS A BODY WITHIN ANOTHER BODY" (Magie Dévoilée, Dupotet, p. 250).

"Triplex unicuique homini dæmon, bonus est proprius custos," said Cornelius Agrippa, from whom Dupotet had the idea about the "soul's idol." For Cornelius says: "Anima humana constat mente, ratione et idolo. Mens illuminat rationem; ratio fluit in idolum; idolum autem animæ est supra naturam quæ corporis et animæ quodam modo nodus est. Dico autem animæ idolum, potentiam illam VIVICATIVAM et rectricem corporis sensuum originem, per quam . . . alit in corpore corpus" (De Occulta Philos., pp. 357, 358).

This is the houen of China, once we divest him of the excrescence of popular superstition and fancy. Nevertheless the remark of a Brahman made in the review of "A Fallen Idol" (Theosophist, Sept., 1886, p. 793)--whether meant seriously or otherwise by the writer--that "if the rules [or mathematical proportions and measurements] are not accurately followed in every detail, an idol is liable to be taken possession of by some powerful evil spirit"--is quite true. And as a moral law of nature--a counterpart to the mathematical--if the rules of harmony in the world of causes and effects are not observed during life, then our inner idol is as liable to turn out a maleficent demon (a bhoot) and to be taken possession of by other "evil" spirits, which are called by us "Elementaries" though treated almost as gods by sentimental ignoramuses.

Between these and those who, like Des Mousseaux and De Mirville, write volumes--a whole library!--to prove that with the exception of a few Biblical apparitions and those that have favoured Christian saints and good Catholics, there never was a phantom, ghost, spirit, or "god," that had appeared that was not a ferouer, an impostor, a usurpator--Satan, in short, in one of his masquerades--there is a long way and a wide margin for him who would study Occult laws and Esoteric philosophy. "A god who eats and drinks and receives sacrifice and honour can be but an evil spirit" argues De Mirville. "The bodies of the evil spirits who were angels have deteriorated by their fall and partake of the qualities of a more condensed air" [ether?], teaches Des Mousseaux (Le Monde magique, p. 287). "And this is the reason of their appetite when they devour the funeral repasts the Chinese serve before them to propitiate them; they are demons."

Well, if we go back to the supposed origin of Judaism and the Israelite nation, we find angels of light doing just the same--if "good appetite" be a sign of Satanic nature. And it is the same Des Mousseaux who, unconsciously, lays, for himself and his religion, a trap. "See," he exclaims, "the angels of God descend under the green trees near Abraham's tent. They eat with appetite the bread and meat, the butter and the milk prepared for them by the patriarch" (Gen. xviii, 2, et seq). Abraham dressed a whole "calf tender and good" and "they did eat" (v. 7 and 8); and baked cakes and milk and butter besides. Was their "appetite" any more divine than that of a "John King" drinking tea with rum and eating toast in the room of an English medium, or than the appetite of a Chinese houen?

The Church has the power of discernment, we are assured; she knows the difference between the three, and judges by their bodies. Let us see. "These [the Biblical] are real, genuine spirits"! Angels, beyond any doubt (certes), argues Des Mousseaux. "Theirs are bodies which, no doubt, in dilating could, in virtue of the extreme tenuity of the substance, become transparent, then melt away, dissolve, lose their colour, become less and less visible, and finally disappear from our sight" (p. 388).

So can a "John King" we are assured, and a Pekin houen no doubt. Who or what then can teach us the difference if we fail to study the uninterrupted evidence of the classics and the Theurgists, and neglect the Occult sciences?

H. P. Blavatsky
Lucifer, November, 1891


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