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 #1: Are there One or Many Absolutes?
The first point that the authors of the article take issue with is the following:
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 and the statement occurs right at the beginning of “The Secret Doctrine” that “There can be neither two INFINITES nor two ABSOLUTES in a Universe supposed to be Boundless.”
Let’s begin our reply with a quote from the Secret Doctrine Dialogues:
Mr. B. Keightley: To my mind this idea has become absolutely plain, that what we refer to as non-being and non-manifestation is to be understood as only referring to our intelligence and our intellect and to us. It is very evident you cannot speak of and you don’t refer in The Secret Doctrine to absolute non-being and absolute non-manifestation at all.
Mme. Blavatsky: I refer to absolute non-being from the standpoint of our finite and relative intellects. This is what I do, but not at all what it would be, because that which is for us absoluteness, perhaps if you go on the plane higher, it will be something relative for those on the plane above.
Mr. B. Keightley: And if you go more above, it will become something more relative. In fact, with our intellects we are in too great a hurry to get to the Absolute and so draw a line.
Mme. Blavatsky: You are all in too much of a hurry, and if you go on splitting hairs your brains will become like a homogeneous jelly. It is a very dangerous thing, this. Try to go one after the other and not miss any of the rungs of the ladder, or else it will lead you into some very extraordinary places. (The Secret Doctrine Dialogues, pp. 213-214)
Q. What is really meant by the term “planes of non-being”?
A. In using the term “planes of non-being” it is necessary to remember that these planes are only to us spheres of non-being, but those of being and matter to higher intelligences than ourselves. The highest Dhyan-Chohans of the Solar System can have no conception of that which exists in higher systems, i.e., on the second “septenary” Kosmic plane, which to the Beings of the ever invisible Universe is entirely subjective. (Transactions, p. 106-107 )
Q. But are the planes of “non-being” also Septenary?
A. Most undeniably. That which in the Secret Doctrine is referred to as the unmanifested planes, are unmanifested or planes of non-being only from the point of view of the finite intellect; to higher intelligences they would be manifested planes and so on to infinity, analogy always holding good. (Transactions, p. 111 )
The all-important distinction to be made here is between the “Absolute” as the Apex or Hierarch of a given system, and the Absolute per se. There are, indeed, many “absolutes” in the sense of hierarchs, while there is only one Absolute per se. This distinction seems to be missed in the ten points of criticism, both in regards to this question and in regards to the following questions on parabrahma/brahma and on atman. It is a critically important distinction to be made if one is to understand the system and processes described in the Secret Doctrine. This idea is also central to Purucker’s approach and must be understood if one is to correctly grasp the ideas he puts forth and the manner in which he presents them.