|Angels following the Wise Men, by Gustave Moreau|
Is there a secret brotherhood of masters who direct the spiritual progress of humankind?
Blavatsky and Her Masters
|Helena Petrovna Blavatsky|
Theosophists tell us that before the launching of the latest "drive" to promulgate Theosophy in the world, the councils of the Great White Brotherhood of Adepts, or Mahatmas, long debated whether the times were ripe for the free propagation of the secret Gnosis; whether the modern world . . . could appreciate the secret knowledge, without the risk of serious misuse of high spiritual forces, which might be diverted into selfish channels. We are told that in these councils it was the majority opinion that broadcasting the Ancient Wisdom over the Occidental areas would be a veritable casting of pearls before swine; yet two of the Mahatmas settled the question by undertaking to assume the karmic debts of the move, to take the responsibility for all possible disturbances and ill effects.2
The Living Masters
According to the Sant tradition . . . one must follow a living guru. It is said that past Sants cannot take the soul back to God. This is due to two main reasons: (1) the original message of the Sants is believed to be misconstrued after the Sant passes away, while the teachings of a living Sant are pure and charged; and . . . devotion to one's guru aids one's spiritual progress; (2) it is believed to be easier to love someone alive and tangible than someone who has been dead for centuries.7
A Mahatma is a personage who, by special training and education, has evolved those higher faculties and has attained that spiritual knowledge, which ordinary humanity will acquire after passing through numberless series of reincarnations during the process of cosmic evolution . . . The real Mahatma is then not his physical body but that higher [mind] which is inseparably linked to the [spirit] and its vehicle.8
An adept - the highest as the lowest - is one only during the exercise of his occult powers . . . Whenever these powers are needed, the sovereign will unlocks the door to the inner man (the adept), who can emerge and act freely, but on condition that his jailer - the outer man - will be either completely or partially paralyzed.9
Adepts Embodied and Disembodied
Secret Directorate or Archetypal Myth?
|C. G. Jung's ex libris with the motto that appears on his gravestone: Called or not called, the god will be there.|
There have been men whose names are unknown because they cared little for fame, and truth radiated from them without knowing it. There have been revealers who were unaware of the revelation that was in them; modest sages who mingled their wisdom with their daily life . . . We have all of us met, at least once in our lives, one of these unheralded initiators, and received from them a priceless gift, by a kindly word, a certain look of sadness, a sincere expression in the eyes.14
- Richard Cavendish, Encyclopaedia of the Unexplained: Magic, Occultism, and Parapsychology (London: Routledge, 1974), p. 286.
- Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Theosophy: A Modern Revival of Ancient Wisdom (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1930), p. 2.
- Sylvia Cranston, H.P.B.: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Mme. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, the Founder of the Theosophical Movement (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1992; reviewed in GNOSIS #29).
- K. Paul Johnson, The Masters Revealed: Mme. Blavatsky and the Myth of the Great White Lodge (Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1994) An earlier version of this work was In Search of the Masters: Behind the Occult Myth (South Boston, Va.: Privately published, 1990; reviewed in GNOSIS #20). See also Johnson's article "Imaginary Mahatmas" in GNOSIS #28.
- Andrea Grace Diem, The Gnostic Mystery: A Connection between Ancient and Modern Mysticism (Walnut, Calif.: Mt San Antonio College Press, 1992).
- Ibid., p. 24.
- Ibid., p. 25. Emphasis here and in other quotes is in the original.
- H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. 6 (Los Angeles: Blavatsky Writings Publication Fund, 1954), pp. 239-41.
- A.T. Barker, ed., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, second edition (London: Rider & Co., 1948), p. 180.
- C. Jinarajadasa, ed., The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1925), pp. 15-16.
- Massimo Introvigne, Il Ritorno dello Gnosticismo (Carnago, Italy: SugarCo Edizioni, 1993), pp. 106-08.
- Aniela Jaffe, ed., Memories, Dreams, Reflections by C.G. Jung (New York: Vintage Books, 1965), p. 184.
- Ernest Scott, The People of the Secret (London: Octagon Press, 1983).
- Maurice Magre, The Return of the Magi, trans. Reginald Merton (London: Sphere Books, 1975), pp. 223-24.