Oct 14, 2019

Blavatsky Writes About Hegel

The Founder of the Theosophical Movement
Discusses the Writings of the German Thinker

Carlos Cardoso Aveline (Ed.)

Georg Hegel and Helena Blavatsky
[Hegel’s portrait: an engraving by Lazarus Gottlieb Sichling]


Editorial Note

Georg W. F. Hegel was born on August 27,
1770, in Germany. He died on November 14,
1831, in the same year as Blavatsky was born.

The following paragraphs present some of the
references HPB made to Hegel. The exact sources
are indicated at the end of each quotation.

(Carlos Cardoso Aveline)


1) The Processes of the Infinite

* Ueberweg (A History of Philosophy) defines Philosophy as “the Science of Principles”, which, as all our members know, is the claim of Theosophy in its branch-sciences of Alchemy, Astrology, and the occult sciences generally.

Hegel regards it as “the contemplation of the self-development of the ABSOLUTE”, or in other words as “the representation of the Idea” (Darstellung der Idee).

The whole of the Secret Doctrine - of which the work bearing that name is but an atom - is such a contemplation and record, as far as finite language and limited thought can record the processes of the Infinite.

(From Blavatsky’s article “Philosophers and Philosophicules”, in her “Collected Writings”, TPH, USA, Vol. XI, p. 435)

2) Absolute Being and Non-Being

* …The ABSOLUTE; the Parabrahm of the Vedantins [corresponds to] the one Reality, SAT, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.

3) Georg Hegel and Vedanta

* The Hegelian doctrine, which identifies Absolute Being or “Be-ness” with “non-Being”, and represents the Universe as an eternal becoming, is identical with the Vedanta philosophy.

4) Everything is Ever Becoming

[ HPB states that according to Occultism “Nature is never stationary during manvantara, as it is ever becoming”. She then adds in a footnote: ]

* According to the great metaphysician Hegel also. For him Nature was a perpetual becoming. A purely esoteric conception. Creation or Origin, in the Christian sense of the term, is absolutely unthinkable. As the above-quoted thinker said: “God (the Universal Spirit) objectivises himself as Nature, and again rises out of it.”

5) A Stone Becomes a God

* The Doctrine teaches that, in order to become a divine, fully conscious god, - aye, even the highest - the Spiritual primeval INTELLIGENCES must pass through the human stage. And when we say human, this does not apply merely to our terrestrial humanity, but to the mortals that inhabit any world, i.e., to those Intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter and spirit, as we have now, since the middle point of the Fourth Root Race of the Fourth Round was passed. Each Entity must have won for itself the right of becoming divine, through self-experience. Hegel, the great German thinker, must have known or sensed intuitionally this truth when saying, as he did, that the Unconscious evolved the Universe only “in the hope of attaining clear self-consciousness”, of becoming, in other words, MAN; for this is also the secret meaning of the usual Puranic phrase about Brahma being constantly “moved by the desire to create”. This explains also the hidden Kabalistic meaning of the saying: “The Breath becomes a stone; the stone, a plant; the plant, an animal; the animal, a man; the man, a spirit; and the spirit, a god.” The Mind-born Sons, the Rishis, the Builders, etc., were all men - of whatever forms and shapes - in other worlds and the preceding Manvantaras.

6) History Has an Aim

* …It is absolutely false, and but an additional demonstration of the great conceit of our age, to assert (as men of science do) that all the great geological changes and terrible convulsions have been produced by ordinary and known physical forces. For these forces were but the tools and final means for the accomplishment of certain purposes, acting periodically, and apparently mechanically, through an inward impulse mixed up with, but beyond their material nature. There is a purpose in every important act of Nature, whose acts are all cyclic and periodical. But spiritual Forces having been usually confused with the purely physical, the former are denied by, and therefore, have to remain unknown to Science, because left unexamined.

“The history of the World begins with its general aim”, says Hegel; “the realization of the Idea of Spirit - only in an implicit form (an sich), that is, as Nature; a hidden, most profoundly hidden unconscious instinct, and the whole process of History . . . is directed to rendering this unconscious impulse a conscious one. Thus appearing in the form of merely natural existence, natural will - that which has been called the subjective side - physical craving, instinct, passion, private interest, as also opinion and subjective conception - spontaneously present themselves at the very commencement. This vast congeries of volitions, interests and activities constitute the instruments and means of the WORLD SPIRIT for attaining its object; bringing it to consciousness and realising it. And this aim is none other than finding itself - coming to itself - and contemplating itself in concrete actuality. But that those manifestations of vitality on the part of individuals and peoples, in which they seek and satisfy their own purposes, are at the same time the means and instruments of a higher power, of a higher and broader purpose of which they know nothing - which they realise unconsciously - might be made a matter of question; rather has been questioned . . . on this point I announced my view at the very outset, and asserted our hypothesis . . . and our belief that Reason governs the World and has consequently governed its history. In relation to this independently universal and substantial existence - all else is subordinate, subservient to it, and the means for its development.” [1]

No metaphysician or theosophist could demur to these truths, which are all embodied in esoteric teachings. There is a predestination in the geological life of our globe, as in the history, past and future, of races and nations. This is closely connected with what we call Karma and Western Pantheists, “Nemesis” and “Cycles”. The law of evolution is now carrying us along the ascending arc of our cycle, when the effects will be once more re-merged into, and re-become the (now neutralized) causes, and all things affected by the former will have regained their original harmony. This will be the cycle of our special “Round”, a moment in the duration of the great cycle, or the Mahayuga.

The fine philosophical remarks of Hegel are found to have their application in the teachings of Occult Science, which shows nature ever acting with a given purpose, whose results are always dual. This was stated in our first Occult volumes, in Isis Unveiled, p. 34, Vol. I [2] in the following words: -

“As our planet revolves once every year around the sun, and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.”

“The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect - the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.”

“Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended.”

But these cycles - wheels within wheels, so comprehensively and ingeniously symbolized by the various Manus and Rishis in India, and by the Kabiri in the West - do not affect all mankind at one and the same time - as explained in the Racial division of Cycles. Hence, as we see, the difficulty of comprehending, and discriminating between them, with regard to their physical and spiritual effects, without having thoroughly mastered their relations with, and action upon the respective positions of nations and races, in their destiny and evolution. This system cannot be comprehended if the spiritual action of these periods - pre-ordained, so to say, by Karmic law - is separated from their physical course. The calculations of the best astrologers would fail, or at any rate remain imperfect, unless this dual action is thoroughly taken into consideration and dealt with upon these lines. And this mastery can be achieved only through INITIATION.  

7) The Various Meanings of the Word ‘Alaya’

* But what is the belief of the inner esoteric Schools? the reader may ask. What are the doctrines taught on this subject by the Esoteric “Buddhists”? With them “Alaya” has a double and even a triple meaning. In the Yogacharya system of the contemplative Mahayana school, Alaya is both the Universal Soul (Anima Mundi) and the Self of a progressed adept. “He who is strong in the Yoga can introduce at will his Alaya by means of meditation into the true Nature of Existence”. The “Alaya has an absolute eternal existence”, says Aryasanga - the rival of Nagarjuna. [3]  In one sense it is Pradhana; which is explained in Vishnu Purana as: “that which is the unevolved cause, is emphatically called by the most eminent sages Pradhana, original base, which is subtile Prakriti, viz., that which is eternal, and which at once is (or comprehends) what is and what is not, or is mere process”. “Prakriti”, however, is an incorrect word, and Alaya would explain it better; for Prakriti is not the “uncognizable Brahma”. It is a mistake of those who know nothing of the Universality of the Occult doctrines from the very cradle of the human races, and especially so of those scholars who reject the very idea of a “primordial revelation”, to teach that the Anima Mundi, the One Life or “Universal Soul”, was made known only by Anaxagoras, or during his age. This philosopher brought the teaching forward simply to oppose the too materialistic conceptions on Cosmogony of Democritus, based on his exoteric theory of blindly driven atoms. Anaxagoras of Clazomene was not its inventor but only its propagator, as also was Plato. That which he called Mundane Intelligence, the nous, the principle that according to his views is absolutely separated and free from matter and acts on design [4], was called Motion, the ONE LIFE, or Jivatma, ages before the year 500 B.C. in India. Only the Aryan philosophers never endowed the principle, which with them is infinite, with the finite “attribute” of “thinking”.

This leads the reader naturally to the “Supreme Spirit” of Hegel and the German Transcendentalists as a contrast that it may be useful to point out. The schools of Schelling and Fichte have diverged widely from the primitive archaic conception of an ABSOLUTE principle, and have mirrored only an aspect of the basic idea of the Vedanta. Even the “Absoluter Geist” shadowed forth by von Hartman in his pessimistic philosophy of the Unconscious, while it is, perhaps, the closest approximation made by European speculation to the Hindu Adwaitee Doctrines, similarly falls far short of the reality. 

8) The Reason for Evolving the Universe

* According to Hegel, the “Unconscious” would never have undertaken the vast and laborious task of evolving the Universe, except in the hope of attaining clear Self-consciousness. In this connection it is to be borne in mind that in designating Spirit, which the European Pantheists use as equivalent to Parabrahm, as unconscious, they do not attach to that expression of “Spirit” - one employed in the absence of a better to symbolise a profound mystery - the connotation it usually bears.

The “Absolute Consciousness”, they tell us, “behind” phenomena, which is only termed unconsciousness in the absence of any element of personality, transcends human conception. Man, unable to form one concept except in terms of empirical phenomena, is powerless from the very constitution of his being to raise the veil that shrouds the majesty of the Absolute. Only the liberated Spirit is able to faintly realise the nature of the source whence it sprung and whither it must eventually return. . . . As the highest Dhyan Chohan, however, can but bow in ignorance before the awful mystery of Absolute Being; and since, even in that culmination of conscious existence  - “the merging of the individual in the universal consciousness” - to use a phrase of Fichte’s - the Finite cannot conceive the Infinite, nor can it apply to it its own standard of mental experiences, how can it be said that the “Unconscious” and the Absolute can have even an instinctive impulse or hope of attaining clear self-consciousness? [5] A Vedantin would never admit this Hegelian idea; and the Occultist would say that it applies perfectly to the awakened MAHAT, the Universal Mind already projected into the phenomenal world as the first aspect of the changeless ABSOLUTE, but never to the latter. “Spirit and Matter, or Purusha and Prakriti are but the two primeval aspects of the One and Secondless”, we are taught.

9) Hegel and the Periodical Avatars

* … To quote Hegel again, who with Schelling practically accepted the Pantheistic conception of periodical Avatars (special incarnations of the World-Spirit in Man, as seen in the case of all the great religious reformers) . . . . “the essence of man is spirit . . . . only by stripping himself of his finiteness and surrendering himself to pure self-consciousness does he attain the truth. Christ-man, as man in whom the Unity of God-man (identity of the individual with the Universal consciousness as taught by the Vedantins and some Adwaitees) appeared, has, in his death and history generally, himself presented the eternal history of Spirit - a history which every man has to accomplish in himself, in order to exist as Spirit.” - Philosophy of History, Sibree’s English translation, p. 340. 


[1] “On World History” in “Philosophy of History” p. 26. (Sibree’s Eng. Transl.). (Note by HPB)

[2] In the 1888 edition of “The Secret Doctrine”, this reference is wrongly given as p. 268, Vol. II. One must say thanks to Boris de Zirkoff, who corrected it in his edition of the SD. (CCA)

[3] Aryasanga was a pre-Christian Adept and founder of a Buddhist esoteric school, though Csoma di Köros places him, for some reasons of his own, in the seventh century A.D. There was another Aryasanga, who lived during the first centuries of our era and the Hungarian scholar most probably confuses the two. (Note by HPB)

[4] Finite Self-consciousness, I mean. For how can the absolute attain it otherwise than as simply an aspect, the highest of which known to us is human consciousness? (Note by HPB)

[5] See Schwegler’s “Handbook of the History of Philosophy” in Sterling’s translation, p. 28. (Note by HPB)


The above article was published on 14 October 2019.

On Theosophy and Hegel, see Blavatsky’s article “Spinoza and Western Philosophers”.

Read other texts and books on Western Philosophy and Modern Theosophy.


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