Ms. Blavatsky Calls All Energy, Courage and Effort for a Great Intellectual Reform, and Ms. Burnier Complements

“In 1889 Madame Blavatsky made an assessment of her times thus:

“Of all the past centuries our nineteenth has been the most criminal. It is criminal in its frightful selfishness, in its skepticism which grimaces at the very idea of anything beyond the material; in its idiotic indifference to all that does not pertain to the personal self, more than any of the previous centuries of ignorant barbarism and intellectual darkness. (…) For all those who see the sterility and folly of an existence blinded by materialism and ferociously indifferent to the fate of its neighbour, this is the moment to act; now is the time for them to devote all their energies, all their courage and all their efforts to a great intellectual reform. This reform can only be accomplished by Theosophy, and, let us add, by Occultism or the wisdom of the Orient.” (Helena Blavatsky. Collected Writings. Vol. XI, p. 134; emphasis added) [N.A.: It is always good to remember that true Theosophy means Altruism, as we can read in several posts by Ms. Blavatsky in this site.]

She further described the nineteenth century as the hybrid child of medieval superstition and a profligate impostor known as “modern civilisation.

The twentieth century has far surpassed the nineteenth in barbarism, criminal selfishness, materialistic blindness and indifference to all that is beyond personal self-interest. It has risen to peaks of destructive activity never before reached. The dead and wounded in the two World Wars were counted by the million, and more millions were forcibly displaced from their homes and compelled to suffer acute distress of various kinds. A series of other wars on a lesser scale have added to the century’s toll of carnage. These are the decades which have also seen the merciless decimation of countless numbers of people in several parts of the world for ideological, tribal, racial or political reasons. [N.A.: And, naturally, for economical reasons as well. It is more than enough to remember the importance of colonialism.]

Rarely, or perhaps never, has cruelty been practised on so large a scale towards both man and animals as in the twentieth century. Plant life, too, has been reduced dramatically and mineral resources depleted. Environmental degradation and pollution now pose hazards so grave that some scientists believe this to be a greater threat than nuclear war.

War-making has been one of the most important commercial activities of the century, bringing enormous wealth to some individuals and firms. Nations, too, if they have the required capability, are vying with one another to amass riches by the manufacture and sale of arms. Criminal psychology is at work in other kinds of business with which we have became familiar such as the traffic in drugs, and the commerce in substandard medicines and food which the poor and the ignorant populations of underdeveloped countries are hood winked into buying. Modern civilization has systematically fostered violence and it has now spread into homes and streets. It has also let loose the forces of decadence by setting up pleasure and success as the most worthy of goals. Addiction to enjoyment, money and drugs has attained epidemic levels. Though here and there there are signs of concerns for the human condition and inquiry into the validity of the premises in which present-day civilization is built, the vast majority of people continue to be in the same state of idiotic indifference to the problems which face mankind and the authenticity or otherwise of the assumptions which lie behind them.

            The great intellectual reform which HPB foresaw as the immediate need of her day has still to take place.” (Helena Blavatsky, quoted by Radha Burnier, The Theosophist, Jan. 89, pp. 123-124; emphasis added)