Upasika Blavatsky

Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Will » Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:34 am

One of the earliest Westerners to take refuge (see chapter 9) was Helena Blavatsky.

Introduction by Daniel Caldwell

Here for the first time is the story of H. P. Blavatsky's life in the words of her contemporaries. Although not a biography per se, this collection tells the story of Madame Blavatsky's eventful life with a special look at the "Esoteric World" in which she lived. These reminiscences by her relatives, acquaintances, friends, co-workers, and enemies allow the reader to enter into the historical milieu of HPB's time and give a vivid portrayal of Madame Blavatsky's personality. The narratives are arranged in chronological order and include

striking word portraits of HPB;
reminiscences giving insight into HPB's enigmatic character;
incidents that are sometimes humorous and witty;
accounts of psychic phenomena performed by Madame Blavatsky; and
descriptions of encounters with HPB's Masters.

At the beginning of each installment, a brief sketch of HPB’s life during the period it covers is given. At the beginning of each narrative, the author, time-period, and place of the account are given. The narratives have been transcribed from the original sources but spelling and punctuation has been modernized. For people's names, the spelling used in HPB's Collected Writings has been adopted. Material not relevant to the narratives has been silently deleted. The original texts, however, can be found from the bibliographical references. Explanatory notes added by the editor are enclosed within brackets.


http://www.theosophical.org/online-reso ... books/1726
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Jikan » Wed Jan 11, 2012 2:48 pm

Hi Will,

Apropos of early converts to Buddhism, you might be interested in the American side of the story. Check out Thomas Tweed's book The American Encounter with Buddhism 1844-1912.

http://uncpress.unc.edu/browse/book_detail?title_id=996

It's true that Blavatsky (like was among the earliest European or American converts, but her way of doing it was one among many. The section on Mr. William Sturgis Bigelow was particularly interesting.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Will » Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:33 pm

Thanks for the reference Jikan, but this thread was started mainly to counter some of the 2nd & 3rd hand wrong information about Blavatsky.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Jikan » Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:04 pm

Will wrote:Thanks for the reference Jikan, but this thread was started mainly to counter some of the 2nd & 3rd hand wrong information about Blavatsky.


Hi WIll,

Yes, this is clear. A question, though: isn't Caldwell describing a collection of second and third-hand accounts on Blavatsky? Can we really count on the Theosophical Society to produce unbiased knowledge on a figure so important to their belief system? (Perhaps, perhaps not.)

Let me approach this differently. We know Ms Blavatsky took refuge in Sri Lanka with Henry Olcott Steel, to their great merit. It seems to me that if we want to understand their attitude toward the Three Jewels in the lives they led afterward, we should consider their own words. The Secret Doctrine, for instance (if I understand correctly) was written after she had taken refuge. It is a first-hand account of Blavatsky's beliefs. That seems to be the best-warranted archive for coming to grips with Blavatsky's relation to Buddhism.

Which second- and third-hand accounts are you interested in refuting?
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Will » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:23 pm

Jikan wrote:
Will wrote:Thanks for the reference Jikan, but this thread was started mainly to counter some of the 2nd & 3rd hand wrong information about Blavatsky.


Hi WIll,

Yes, this is clear. A question, though: isn't Caldwell describing a collection of second and third-hand accounts on Blavatsky? Can we really count on the Theosophical Society to produce unbiased knowledge on a figure so important to their belief system? (Perhaps, perhaps not.)

Let me approach this differently. We know Ms Blavatsky took refuge in Sri Lanka with Henry Olcott Steel, to their great merit. It seems to me that if we want to understand their attitude toward the Three Jewels in the lives they led afterward, we should consider their own words. The Secret Doctrine, for instance (if I understand correctly) was written after she had taken refuge. It is a first-hand account of Blavatsky's beliefs. That seems to be the best-warranted archive for coming to grips with Blavatsky's relation to Buddhism.

Which second- and third-hand accounts are you interested in refuting?


To be clearer, I meant biographies by those who never met Blavatsky and know little about her life & the vast difference between Blavatsky's theosophy and the pseudo-theosophy that distorted hers. The latter was promoted by Annie Besant, CW Leadbeater, Alice Bailey, G. Hodgson. Caldwell's compilation is valuable because every sketch is written by someone who met HP Blavatsky.

No need to take my word for it, but after 30 plus years of looking for what connection to Buddhism as known today, one will find in Blavatsky's writings, there is very little to find. She makes clear, as do her gurus, that her theosophy is not Buddhism, nor any other existing religion.

My conclusion is that: 1) she was not a fraud nor celebrity-seeker, nor after power, nor money etc., but an honest exponent of her gurus teachings; 2) those gurus were flesh & blood sages dedicated to uplifting mankind, their exact philosophy or spiritual path differs with each individual. Some came from a Buddhist background, some Vedantic, some Hermetic etc.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby zamotcr » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:41 pm

I dont know, but I was theosophist before Buddhist, and well, just read the Secret Doctrine, is full of racism and race superiority, and this includes the Mahatma Letters. If you want, I can give you quotes.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:14 pm

H.P. Blavatsky wrote:"The yellow-faced giants of the post-Atlantean day, had ample time, throughout this forced confinement to one part of the world, and with the same racial blood and without any fresh infusion or admixture in it, to branch off during a period of nearly 700,000 years into the most heterogeneous and diversified types.

"The same is shown in Africa; nowhere does a more extraordinary variability of types exist, from black to almost white, from gigantic men to dwarfish races; and this only because of their forced isolation. The Africans have never left their continent for several hundred thousands of years.

"If to-morrow the continent of Europe were to disappear and other lands to re-emerge instead; and if the African tribes were to separate and scatter on the face of the earth, it is they who, in about a hundred thousand years hence, would form the bulk of the civilized nations.

"And it is the descendants of those of our highly cultured nations, who might have survived on some one island, without any means of crossing the new seas, that would fall back into a state of relative savagery.

"Thus the reason given for dividing humanity into superior and inferior races falls to the ground and becomes a fallacy."

"Besides, there are many good reasons why the study of magic, except in its broad philosophy, is nearly impracticable in Europe and America. Magic being what it is, the most difficult of all sciences to learn experimentally -- its acquisition is practically beyond the reach of the majority of white-skinned people; and that, whether their effort is made at home or in the East. Probably not more than one man in a million of European blood is fitted -- either physically, morally, or psychologically -- to become a practical magician, and not one in ten millions would be found endowed with all these three qualifications as required for the work. Civilized nations lack the phenomenal powers of endurance, both mental and physical, of the Easterns; the favoring temperamental idiosyncrasies of the Orientals are utterly wanting in them.

"In the Hindu, the Arabian, the Thibetan, an intuitive perception of the possibilities of occult natural forces in subjection to human will, comes by inheritance; and in them, the physical senses as well as the spiritual are far more finely developed than in the Western races. Notwithstanding the notable difference of thickness between the skulls of a European and a Southern Hindu, this difference, being a purely climatic result, due to the intensity of the sun's rays, involves no psychological principles. Furthermore, there would be tremendous difficulties in the way of training, if we can so express it. Contaminated by centuries of dogmatic superstition, by an ineradicable -- though quite unwarranted -- sense of superiority over those whom the English term so contemptuously "niggers," the white European would hardly submit himself to the practical tuition of either Kopt, Brahman, or Lama. To become a neophyte, one must be ready to devote himself heart and soul to the study of mystic sciences. Magic -- most imperative of mistresses -- brooks no rival. Unlike other sciences, a theoretical knowledge of formulai without mental capacities or soul powers, is utterly useless in magic. The spirit must hold in complete subjection the combativeness of what is loosely termed educated reason, until facts have vanquished cold human sophistry."

"To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or color."

"The Aryan races, for instance, now varying from dark brown, almost black, red-brown-yellow, down to the whitest creamy colour, are yet all of one and the same stock -- the Fifth Root-Race -- and spring from one single progenitor..."

"Among the commandments of Tsong-Kha-pa there is one that enjoins the Rahats (Arhats) to make an attempt to enlighten the world, including the "white barbarians," every century, at a certain specified period of the cycle. Up to the present day none of these attempts has been very successful. Failure has followed failure." - H.P. Blavatsky

"The Chohan" wrote:The white race must be the first to stretch out the hand of fellowship to the dark nations, to call the poor despised "nigger" brothers. This prospect may not smile to all. He is no Theosophist who objects to this principle. . . . - The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett

Theosophist Manly P. Hall 33° wrote:"Tibet knows all too well that in the wake of the white man there follows desolation and ruin:

"Hence the struggle to prevent its national treasures from being dissipated and its religion from being over-thrown by the vandalism of foreign nations."


"Races are like individuals. We try to teach the child; we try to cooperate with the man, while age receives our veneration and respect. Why do we not show the same respect to those old white-haired nations who have racially given us birth?"

"From ancient empires comes all that we are and have - our genius as well as the foundation of our arts and sciences."

"While the Anglo-Saxon race was still wandering, fierce and wild, through uncultivated wastes, living in holes dug out of the sides of hills, and fighting like harry anthropoids for the rotting bones of beasts they had slain, the ancient Indian Empire was sitting in meditation or deep-buried in libraries filled with books bearing upon their hand-illumined pages of wisdom of a hundred generations."

"Thier Emperors, robed in cloth of gold, wielded scepters of jade and amber over teeming millions while the white man was still a wild, uncouth savage, riding shaggy ponies and gnawing at the outskirts of this ancient civilization."

"Where is the respect and veneration that we owe to Egypt, Chaldea, and Phoenicia, cradle of human progress? Has man forgotten the most ancient of all proverbs, "Honor thy father and thy mother?""

"Our race was born somewhere in the heart of India, nourished upon the wisdom of the East, and launched upon its way to carry the standards of human progress through the generations to follow. Can we not realize that we are all one family, and that man's inhumanity to man is the reason why the nations of the past lie hungry and starved while the child to which they gave birth goes heedlessly on its way?" - Manly P. Hall 33°
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby dharmagoat » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:13 pm

Racism directed at Caucasians, expressed by a Caucasian woman, is still racism. Blavatsky seems obsessed with the idea of racial superiority, even if the "superior race" she speaks of is not her own. The terminology she uses is racist and she frequently reinforces racial stereotypes. In so doing she offends the very "races" that she attempts to endorse.

Blavatsky was certainly not racist in the sense that Hitler was, but her writing comes from a time when the West had some peculiar and dangerous concepts regarding ethnicity. I say it is best that we put these ignorant ideas from our past squarely behind us.

She needed to have listened more to her Buddhist teachers, but instead got carried along in the flood-tide of her own culturally conditioned ideas.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:32 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Racism directed at Caucasians, expressed by a Caucasian woman, is still racism. Blavatsky seems obsessed with the idea of racial superiority, even if the "superior race" she speaks of is not her own.


Perhaps she's simply stating the facts.



The terminology she uses is racist and she frequently reinforces racial stereotypes. In so doing she offends the very "races" that she attempts to endorse.


How so?


Blavatsky was certainly not racist in the sense that Hitler was


Obviously (no sarcasm intended).


but her writing comes from a time when the West had some peculiar and dangerous concepts regarding ethnicity. I say it is best that we put these ignorant ideas from our past squarely behind us.

She needed to have listened more to her Buddhist teachers, but instead got carried along in the flood-tide of her own culturally conditioned ideas.


She wasn't "a product of her time" any more than any other writer is/was. Like Godfrey Higgins and Rudolf Steiner, she was actually way ahead of her time.

Anyhow, H.P. Blavatsky wrote some things that might sound offensive to some tribes of aboriginals. However her comments are not directed at them as a race or races, but as specific tribes. Malcolm X also said that some African tribes had fallen into a state of savagery or relative savagery after they'd left the center of civilization thousands or even tens of thousands of years or more ago.

Outer appearances aren't always reliable of course, as there are also very Spiritually advanced South American and African tribes who would appear savage to the average Westerner, even though they're light years ahead of most Westerners in terms of Spiritual evolution.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:59 pm

Since editing is very limited on these forums... to clarify, I meant to say:

"Outer appearances aren't always reliable of course, as there are also very Spiritually advanced South American and African tribes who would appear savage to the average Westerner, even though the said tribes are light years ahead of most Westerners in terms of Spiritual evolution."

Which I'm sure everyone probably figured out that that's what I meant to say anyway.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Lhug-Pa » Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:12 pm

Egyptian-Rite Mason H.P. Blavatsky wrote:...the difficulty of the archaeologists still exists, if not in the fact of idols being ascribed to early Buddhists, then in the physiognomies, in the type of all these Enkay-Tenkay Buddhas.

They all, from the tiniest to the hugest, are Negroes, with flat noses, thick lips, forty-five degrees of the facial angle, and curly hair!

There is not the slightest likeness between these negro faces and any of the Siamese or Tibetan Buddhas, which all have purely Mongolian features and perfectly straight hair.

This unexpected African type, unheard of in India, upsets the antiquarians entirely. This is why the archaeologists avoid mentioning these caves.


(Enkay Tenkay being near Chandvad, India)

So in other words, there are many cover-ups by racist archeologists and historians. And these kinds of cover-ups are a cause of perpetuating a lot of racial prejudice.

We should pay more respect to our racial ancestors.

In relation to Tibet, see Samten Karmay and the "Little Black-Headed Man", which is even more interesting considering that the Sumerians were known as the "Black-Headed" ones.

The Elamites were the Iranian counterpart of the Sumerians, and Zhang-Zhung or Shang-Shung is said to have had some relation to ancient Iran.

The Sumerians, Elamites, Khemetians were likely all of an Æthiopian or Dravidian type (both Merotic and Nilotic).

E. Valentia Straiton adds on to the above H.P. Blavatsky quote in the following page of another old Masonic book:

Celestial Ship of the North

"Some of the early black settlers of India were Egyptian in type."
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Lhug-Pa » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:07 am

Therefore^ in addition to Cambodia for example, there are found in India ancient Merotic-like Buddha depictions as well.


Druid and Master Mason Godfrey Higgins wrote:The religion of Buddha, of India, is well known to have been very ancient. In the most ancient temples scattered throughout Asia, where his worship is yet continued, he is found black as jet, with the flat face, thick lips, and curly hair of the Negro.

Several statues of him may be met with in the Museum of the East-India Company.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:12 am

It begins...
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Jikan » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:30 pm

Blavatsky's reliance on grand narratives of great races are certainly of a piece with her time and place. 19th century anthropology relied heavily on essentiallized concepts of race that would later develop into Eugenics. You can see it in the writings of such public figures as Matthew Arnold. These theories were later wholly discredited, and their explicit political use in the ideological work of the British Empire were later documented by such scholars as Homi K Bhabha and Edward Said. Less well known but perhaps the most relevant here is Fabian's book _Time and the Other_.

To put it bluntly, no one takes such racial categories seriously anymore, because they are, in themselves, racist. Read the scholarship cited above (esp. Fabian) for more.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby viniketa » Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:36 pm

:good:

Jikan wrote:To put it bluntly, no one takes such racial categories seriously anymore, because they are, in themselves, racist.


Not to mention discredited by modern genetic science...

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Will » Wed Aug 29, 2012 10:03 pm

Jikan: Blavatsky's reliance on grand narratives of great races...


Not true, regarding "reliance".

Only those nowadays who are fixated on 'race', project onto Blavatsky their hobby. Spiritual evolution of groups was only a small part of Theosophy.
One should refrain from biased judgments and doubting in fathoming the Buddha and the Dharma of the Buddhas. Even though a dharma may be extremely difficult to believe, one should nonetheless maintain faith in it. Nagarjuna
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Lhug-Pa » Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:34 am

Much of what H.P. Blavatsky wrote, contradicts Eurocentric eugenics point-blank.

Some clear examples being what I've quoted from her books in this very thread.
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby viniketa » Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:43 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:Much of what H.P. Blavatsky wrote, contradicts Eurocentric eugenics point-blank.


Yes. The implication was not that Blavatsky bought into eugenics or even that Blavatsky was a 'racist' as the term might be used today. The point is that today, post-DNA discovery, educated people understand the difference between culture and biology and do not categorize or lump people together on the confounded notion that the two together = race.

Race, as we are coming to understand, is an ill-defined concept. There is no such thing as 'race', per se, and certainly no such thing as a 'pure race'.

Hope this clarifies the intent of my post, at least.

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If they can sever like and dislike, along with greed, anger, and delusion, regardless of their difference in nature, they will all accomplish the Buddha Path.. ~ Sutra of Complete Enlightenment
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Re: Upasika Blavatsky

Postby Konchog1 » Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:12 am

viniketa wrote:post-DNA discovery
If only...

Watson and Crick were racist. And Watson is to this day pro Eugenics.

Well at least the rest of society is progressing.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats
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Re: Is Buddhism elitist?

Postby Lhug-Pa » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:33 am

tomamundsen wrote:Doesn't seem like it. Just seems that if you don't fit the criteria there might be more difficulty.

Sounds like he is describing a rastafarian :rolling:


Haha true and true.

It's also funny you mention that considering how the early 19th century English Mason Godfrey Higgins (quoted in my signature) referred to the very ancient 'Gymnosophists' as Æthiopian, and also as followers of the Buddha. It's very interesting, being that the Gymnosophists, Sadhus, Ngakpas, and Rastafarians all have dreadlocks.
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