Address read by G. R. S. Mead, B. A. (Cantab).
General Secretary of the European Section of the Theosophical Society, at the Cremation of the Body of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. (1)
Friends and Brother Theosophists:
H. P. Blavatsky is dead, but H. P. B., our teacher and friend, is alive, and will live forever in our hearts and memories. In our present sorrow, it is this thought especially that we should keep ever before our minds. It is true that the personality we know as H. P. Blavatsky will be with us no longer; but it is equally true that the grand and noble individuality, the great soul that has taught all of us men and women to live purer and more unselfish lives, is still active.
The Theosophical Society, which was her great work in this incarnation, still continues under the care and direction of those great living Masters and Teachers whose messenger she was, and whose work she will resume among us at no distant period.
Dear as the personality of H. P. B. is to us, to many of whom she took the place of a dearly loved and reverenced mother, still we must remember that, as she has so often taught us, the personality is the impermanent part of man's nature and the mere outer dress of the real individuality.
The real H. P. B. does not lie here before us. The true self that inspired so many men and women in every quarter of the earth with a noble enthusiasm for suffering humanity and the true progress of the race, combined with a lofty ideal of individual life and conduct, can in the mind of no Theosophist be confounded with the mere physical instrument which served it for one brief incarnation.
Fellow Theosophists, the duty that lies before us, her pupils and friends, is plain and simple. As we all know so well, the one great purpose of our teacher's life in this her present incarnation, a purpose which she pursued with such complete unselfishness and singleness of motive, was to restore to mankind the knowledge of those great spiritual truths we to-day call Theosophy.
Her unvarying fidelity to her great mission, from which neither contumely nor misrepresentation ever made her swerve, was the key-note of her strong and fearless nature. To her who knew so well its true and inner meaning, Theosophy was an ever-present power in her life, and she was ceaseless in her endeavours to spread the knowledge of the living truths of which she had such full assurance, so that by their ever-widening influence the wave of materiality in Science and Religion might be checked, and a real and lasting spiritual foundation laid for the true progress and brotherhood of mankind.
With such an example before us, then, our duty as Theosophists is
clear. We must continue the work that H. P. B. has so nobly commenced, if
not with her power – which to us is as yet impossible – at least with an
enthusiasm, self-sacrifice and determination such as alone can show our
gratitude to her and our appreciation of the great task she has committed
We must, therefore, each individually take up our share of that task. Theosophy is not dead because to-day we stand by H. P. B.'s dead body. It lives and must live, because Truth can never die; by on us, the upholders of this Truth, must ever rest the heaviest of all responsibilities, the effort so to shape our own characters and lives that that truth may be thereby commended to others.
Most fortunately for all of us, H. P. B. leaves the work on a firm foundation and fully organized. In spite of failing health and bodily pain, our beloved leader to the very last moments of her life continued her unceasing exertions for the cause we all love so well. Never did she relax on instant from her vigilance over its interests, and she repeatedly impressed upon those who surrounded her the principles and methods by which the work was to be carried on, never contemplating for one instant that the death of her body could be any real hindrance to the performance of the duty which would then more than ever be incumbent on every earnest member of the Society. This duty, which lies so clearly before us, and of which H. P. B. has set us so striking an example, is to spread the knowledge of Theosophy by every means in our power, especially by the influence of our own lives.
Much as we love and reverence our leader, our devotion to the work
must not rest on the transient basis of affection for a personality, but
on the solid foundation of a conviction that in Theosophy itself, and in
it alone, are to be found those eternal spiritual principles of right thought, right speech and right action, which are essential to the progress and harmony
We believe that if H. P. B. could stand here in the body and speak to us now, this would be her message to all members of the Theosophical Society, not simply to those who are present, but to all who without distinction of race, creed or sex, are with us in heart and sympathy to-day. She would tell us as she has told many of us already, that "a clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, a brotherliness for all, a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction, a courageous endurance of personal injustice, a brave declaration of principles, a valient defence of those who are unjustly attacked, and a constant eye to the ideal of human progression and perfection which the Sacred Science depicts – these are the golden stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the Temple of Divine Wisdom." (2)
And now in silence we leave the body of our teacher and go back to the every-day world. In our hearts we shall ever carry with us her memory, her example, her life. Every Theosophical truth that we utter, every Theosophical effort that we make, is one more evidence of our love for her, and what should be greater even than that, of our devotion to the cause for which she lived. To that cause she was ever true, - to that truth let none of us be ever false.
[The above address was carefully drawn up by the members of the Staff at the Headquarters and other prominent Theosophists.]
Printed on the H. P. B. Press.
(1) This is from a four page pamphlet found at the Bibliotheca Philosophica, Amsterdam (link). I don't know whether it has been reprinted recently in more accessible form. The only clue to its origin is in the words "Printed on the H. P. B. Press". This press was based in London and also printed "A Modern Panarion: A collection of Fugitive Fragments from the Pen of H. P. Blavatsky" 1895. It has also been published as part of Mead's contribution to in "In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, by Some of Her Pupils", ISBN 1-56459-258-8, Kessinger Publications.
(2) This is a quote from the Esoteric Instructions, which can be found in the H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. XII, p. 591, from E.S. Instruction no. III.