The following is part of an essay that was composed in response to an article titled “The Question of G. de Purucker,” published at blavatskytheosophy.com. The full essay can be found here.
Let it be clear from the outset that we are not here to defend a particular person. Nor are we here to debate or discuss “successorship,” “leadership” or the “occult status” of any individual. It is to be understood that this reply is not the result of parroting G. de Purucker, but simply the result of long independent study, besides the fact that the conceptual understanding of theosophical teachings is always open to interpretation and thus open to misunderstanding by any student.
In the above mentioned article, following a dissertation on the person of G. de Purucker, the article moves on to select a handful of ideas drawn from his writings. In doing so, it is suggested that these ideas are “entirely at odds with the teaching in ‘The Secret Doctrine’.” We find this to be an incorrect conclusion, and believe it could mislead students of Theosophy into believing a priori, without sufficient evidence or argument, that Purucker’s ideas entirely oppose those of H.P. Blavatsky (HPB) and her teachers. We will, therefore, address each of these ideas in turn, providing references to Purucker’s writings and those of The Secret Doctrine (SD) and other writings of HPB. This, we believe, will illustrate that the ten points of criticism in the article are generally mistaken and not actually in opposition to what the authors refer to as “genuine theosophy.”
Point #3: Animal Soul vs. Kama-Rupa
The third point of contention is:
His taking literally of the symbolically descriptive term “animal soul” for the Kama principle in man and teaching that the individual’s Kama principle is in fact a Monad which in the distant future will become an actual animal.
This is akin to the proverbial searching for a needle in a haystack:
“In Mr. Sinnett’s “Esoteric Buddhism” d, e, and f, [kama rupa, manas and buddhi] are respectively called the Animal, the Human, and the Spiritual Souls, which answers as well. Though the principles in Esoteric Buddhism are numbered, this is, strictly speaking, useless. The dual Monad alone (Atma-Buddhi) is susceptible of being thought of as the two highest numbers (the 6th and 7th). As to all others, since that “principle” only which is predominant in man has to be considered as the first and foremost, no numeration is possible as a general rule. In some men it is the higher Intelligence (Manas or the 5th) which dominates the rest; in others the Animal Soul (Kama-rupa) that reigns supreme, exhibiting the most bestial instincts, etc.” (Key to Theosophy, Section 6, p. 92fn*)
“Now what does Plato teach? He speaks of the interior man as constituted of two parts―one immutable and always the same, formed of the same substance as Deity, and the other mortal and corruptible. These “two parts” are found in our upper Triad, and the lower Quaternary (vide Table). He explains that when the Soul, psuche, “allies herself to the Nous (divine spirit or substance), she does everything aright and felicitously”; but the case is otherwise when she attaches herself to Anoia, (folly, or the irrational animal Soul). Here, then, we have Manas (or the Soul in general) in its two aspects: when attaching itself to Anoia (our Kama rupa, or the “Animal Soul” in “Esoteric Buddhism,”) it runs towards entire annihilation, as far as the personal Ego is concerned; when allying itself to the Nous (Atma-Buddhi) it merges into the immortal, imperishable Ego, and then its spiritual consciousness of the personal that was, becomes immortal.” (Key to Theosophy, Section 6, pp. 92-93)
HPB very well knew the proper use of Anoia as proven in her adding a glossary to the 2nd edition of The Key to Theosophy where the term Anoia is described as:
Anoia (Gr.) is “want of understanding folly”; and is the name applied by Plato and others to the lower Manas when too closely allied with Kama, which is characterised by irrationality (agnoia). The Greek agnoia is evidently a derivative of the Sanskrit ajnana (phonetically agnyana), or ignorance, irrationality, and absence of knowledge. (Key to Theosophy, Glossary)
We don’t see why a student of theosophy ought to stumble over the use of such terminology when the teacher herself (HPB) doesn’t seem to be making a big deal out of it. Besides, she allies herself clearly with some of the main Greek philosophers of antiquity such as Pythagoras and Plato and doesn’t have a negative word to say when the animal soul is referred to in relation to the body (!) as in the following fragment:
Now this composition of the soul (psuche) with the understanding (nous) makes reason; and with the body (or thumos, the animal soul) passion; of which the one is the beginning or principle of pleasure and pain, and the other of virtue and vice. Of these three parts conjoined and compacted together, the earth has given the body, the moon the soul, and the sun the understanding to the generation of man.” This last sentence is purely allegorical, and will be comprehended only by those who are versed in the esoteric science of correspondences and know which planet is related to every principle. (Key to Theosophy, Section 6, pp. 97-98)
The use of the term “animal soul” in relation to Anoia (in the sense of kama-rupa) came in very handy for HPB to describe the distinction between the passively irrational soul (buddhi) and the actively irrational soul (kama) by contrasting the distinction, whereas manas per se is looked upon as the rational part in between:
“ENQUIRER. I laboured under the impression that the “Animal Soul” alone was irrational, not the Divine.
THEOSOPHIST. You have to learn the difference between that which is negatively, or passively “irrational,” because undifferentiated [buddhi], and that which is irrational because too active and positive [kama].” (Key p. 103)
“Irrational in the sense that as a pure emanation of the Universal mind it [buddhi] can have no individual reason of its own on this plane of matter, but like the Moon, who borrows her light from the Sun and her life from the Earth, so Buddhi, receiving its light of Wisdom from Atma, gets its rational qualities from Manas. Per se, as something homogeneous, it [buddhi] is devoid of attributes.” (Key to Theosophy, Section 7, p. Key p. 102 fn†)
One could blame HPB of the same incongruity as in the alleged case of Purucker and ask of her why she insisted upon using the word kama-rupa instead of kama when she, in many other places, clearly states (as does W. Q. Judge) that kama-rupa is only applicable to the state after death!
As to “teaching that the individual’s Kama principle is in fact a Monad which in the distant future will become an actual animal,” this has basically been dealt with in the references to the previous question (#2).
Seventh principle always there as a latent force in every one of the principles—even body. As the macrocosmic Whole it is present even in the lower sphere, but there is nothing there to assimilate it to itself. (Mahatma Letter 13)
If, as we’ve indicated, each principle is, in its highest aspect, a monad developing on its own plane, and if, as HPB makes clear, every monad (pilgrim) must pass through every kingdom at some point in its journey, Purucker’s claim seems sound, even if perhaps a bit abstract to the general reader. There are also teachings in regards to Transmigration that may shed light on aspects of this question, which the curious student may also wish to investigate.