Report Of Proceedings Eighth Annual Convention
From William Q. Judge Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.
Articles by WQJ
W. Q. JUDGE: As a member of the Council of the Theosophical Society, as a question of privilege, I beg to bring before you another matter which I have been requested to do in order to get the opinion of the Section. On the twelfth of March i received the following letter:
144 MADISON AVENUE
To William Q. Judge, Esq.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: I desire to submit the following statement of facts for your consideration and opinion as a member of the Council of T.S.
A member, in good standing, of the T.S. has, at various times and until quite recently, sent me letters and messages which purport to emanate from one of the Masters spoken of by H. P. Blavatsky and supposed to be interested in the welfare of the said Society. In these letters and messages there is no attempt to imitate the supposed handwriting of the Master nor to convey any idea of so-called precipitation, but one letter is signed with the name, in full, of the Master whose message it purports to be, and others, whether signed or not, contain internal evidence that they are accepted as emanating from the same high source.
It has been suggested to me that a committee should be appointed to inquire into this matter on charges to be made that the sending of messages purporting to come from a Master, or Masters, is untheosophical, or that the proper officers of the T.S. should consider the matter to the same end.
I have replied that I consider this a matter into which a committee of the T.S. may not properly inquire; that I do not, for a moment, entertain the idea that it may be brought within the jurisdiction of the Society under any clause of its Constitution; that it can rightly be regarded as a matter between individuals only; that any such inquiry or determination of such a subject would only tend to raise a dogma in the Society, and, furthermore, that it seems desirable that some official statement of a general character should be made defining the Society's position on questions of this nature.
THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, AMERICAN SECTION
To Elliott B. Page, Esq.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: I have your letter of 12th inst. informing me that a member of the T.S. (whose name you have privately given me) has sent you at various times "letters and messages which purport to emanate from one of the Masters spoken of by H. P. Blavatsky and supposed to be interested in the welfare of the said Society, and that one of the letters is signed with the name in full of the Master whose message it purports to be, but that in the letters there is no attempt to imitate the supposed handwriting of the Masters, etc." and asking me officially whether a committee could be properly appointed to consider the matter on the ground that such actions by said member are untheosophical. This could only be considered by the Society acting through a committee on the ground of being an offence under the Constitution of the T.S.; it is also a matter which should first be submitted to the Council and the President; it is competent in my opinion for you to raise the question as one of information, asking for a decision or opinion from the proper officers or Council. I shall therefore give you my opinion officially and then forward, the same to the President and the Council. My opinion is:
First: The matter stated is not one which the Society or its officers can consider; it stands on the same ground as the affirmation of a member that he or she has seen or heard of or from a Mahâtmâ. On this see the public utterances of the President, Colonel Olcott; also those of Mrs. Besant; and the late publication by Mr. Sinnett, President of the London Lodge, to the effect that what he (Mr. Sinnett) published was directly from said Mahâtmâ. These are not offences in the T.S. for the reason that cognizable offences are these: Slander of members; violation of the T.S. neutrality on questions of legislation, politics, religion, caste, and social rules; violation of the rule that we have no dogma by proclaiming a dogma or belief as that of the T.S.; willfully hurting the religious feelings of members at a meeting of Branch or Section; conviction of crime under the law of the land, and the like. In no place are the Mahâtmâ, their powers, existence, or functions mentioned. It is solely and simply a personal matter whether one shall or shall not affirm he has messages from the Mahâtmâ; it is also a personal matter whether other members shall or shall not believe him.
Second: It would be a violation of the Constitution to decide either negatively or affirmatively under the official shield of a T.S. Committee whether a person had or had not a message from the Mahâtmâ, and to consider the facts cited by you would involve preliminarily that affirmative or negative. The Society would thus through its Committee fix a dogma one way or the other; either the dogma that Mahatmas exist and may be heard from, or the opposite dogmatic statement that such Mahatmas do not exist.
On this I beg to refer you to the official statement by the President in his Executive Notice of May 27, 1893 respecting the T.S. Congress at the Parliament of said:
Of course it is to be distinctly understood that nothing shall be said or done by any delegate or committee of the Society to identify it, as a body, with any special form of religion, creed, sect, or any religious or ethical teacher or leader; our duty being to affirm and defend its perfect corporate neutrality in these matters.
This goes directly to the point, and was meant, as intimated to me by the President, to cover precisely the existence of the Mahatmas under the word "teacher" and to prevent any fixing of the T.S. to H. P. Blavatsky by means of the use of the word "leader." Hence we have in advance the decision in general of the President, in which the other members of the Council will concur, as I now do in advance.
I have sent this to London to the Indian and European Secretaries, and have received a reply that it will be submitted to the Council, and I now present it to this Convention.
On motion the report was received and committed to the Committee on Resolutions.
MR. JUDGE: I received from Col. Olcott a letter addressed to me as General Secretary informing me that he had suspended me as Vice-President, and requesting me as General Secretary to notify the Convention of his action, which I do now.
20 March, 1894
To the General Secretary Am. Sec. T.S.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER: In compliance with Section 3 of Article VI of the Revised Rules, I enclose herewith a copy of certain charges preferred against Mr. William Q. Judge, Vice President T.S. and General Secretary of the American Section, by Mrs. Annie Besant, F.T.S.; which charges will be laid before a Judicial Committee, to be convened at our London Headquarters on the 27th June next, for the consideration and disposal of the same, as provided for in the Section of the Article above specified.
Upon receipt of this you will kindly take the orders of your Executive Committee for the nomination of two members of the said Judicial Committee, to sit as representatives of the American Section, and consider and dispose of the charges.
20th March, 1894
To William Q. Judge, Esq., Vice President T.S.
As the accused party you will, of course, be debarred from sitting and voting in the Committee either as Vice President T.S. or General Secretary of the American Section; but you are entitled to enjoy the full opportunity to disprove the charges brought against you.
Pending the decision of the Judicial Committee, I hereby suspend you from the office of Vice President T.S. as required by our Revised Rules.
I am, Sir, fraternally yours,
SUSPENSION OF VICE-PRESIDENT
WHEREAS: The American Section is officially informed that the Vice-President has been officially notified that Col. Olcott, the President, has suspended the Vice-President, pending his trial for alleged "misusing of Mahatmas' names and handwriting,"
RESOLVED: That this Convention, after careful deliberation, finds that such suspension of the Vice-President is without the slightest warrant in the Constitution and altogether transcends the discretionary power given the President by the, Constitution, and is therefore null and void.
RESOLVED: That this Section, in Convention assembled, hereby expresses its unqualified protest against the said illegal action by the President of the Society, and can see no necessity for such action, and that even did the Constitution contain any provision for a suspension such action would be wholly needless and unbrotherly, inasmuch as, by the Constitution, the Vice-President has no duties or power save in case of death, resignation, or accusation of the President.
Colonel E. T. Blackmer asked for a rising vote, and it being so ordered the motion was carried. On motion it was then put to those members present who were not delegates, and they all rose affirmatively. Nays called for and none responded.
WHEREAS, many members of the Theosophical Society, including the late Madame Blavatsky, Col. Olcott, W. Q. Judge, Mrs. Annie Besant, A. P. Sinnett, and others, have at various times and places expressed their belief in the existence of certain Mahatmas or Masters, and have claimed to be in communication with the same: and
WHEREAS, the President, Col. Olcott, at the request of one of the members, Mrs. Annie Besant, has recently demanded an official investigation by means of a judicial Committee of the Theosophical Society, to decide whether or not Wm. Q. Judge is in communication with the said Mahatmas, and whether or not the said Wm. Q. Judge has "misused the names and handwriting of the said Mahatmas"; and
WHEREAS, under the Constitution and Rules of the Theosophical Society it is declared that the Society, as such, is not responsible for the personal opinions of its Fellows, nor for any expression thereof, and that no Fellow, Officer, or Council of the Theosophical Society, or of any Section or Branch thereof, shall promulgate or maintain any doctrine, dogma, or belief as being that advanced or advocated by the Society [Art. XIII]; and the President having officially and Constitutionally in his executive order of May 27th, 1893, relative to the World's Religious Parliament, declared this neutrality, especially in these words:
"Of course it is to be distinctly understood that nothing shall be said or done by any Delegate or Committee of the Society to identify it as a Body with any special form of religion, creed, sect, or any religious or ethical teacher or leader; our duty being to affirm and defend its perfect corporate neutrality in these matters." Therefore
RESOLVED: That, in the opinion of this Convention, the action of the President, Col. Olcott, in calling such Judicial Committee to consider said charge was uncalled for, unconstitutional, illegal, and improper.
RESOLVED: That this Convention hereby cordially endorses the interpretation of the Rules and Constitution of the T.S. recently expressed in a circular to members signed by the General Secretaries of the European and Indian Sections, and in the private circular of March 15th, 1894, issued by William Q. Judge.
RESOLVED: That this Convention hereby reaffirms the entire freedom of the platform of the T.S. and the religious and other opinions of its members, which entitles all and any of them to claim to be in communication with, to receive letters from, or to act as agents for, those above referred to as Mahâtmâs or Masters; or, on the other hand, to express disbelief in the proper title of any member to make such claim or claims or disbelief in the existence of said Mahâtmâ.
RESOLVED: That this Convention declares its unswerving belief in the integrity and uprightness of the Vice-President of the T.S., Wm. Q. Judge, and expresses to him the most cordial thanks of the Section for his unrecompensed and self-sacrificing years of labor on behalf of the T.S. as a whole.
On motion of Dr. W. E. Copeland the motion was carried unanimously. Dr. Anderson then moved:
WHEREAS: This Section regards official investigation into the existence and methods of Mahâtmâs, and a dogmatic verdict rendered upon such investigation, as not only illegal under the Constitution but impossible in the absence of more profound knowledge of the science of Occultism, and, therefore, absurd in the present instance, although such inquiry and investigation are always proper privileges of individual members as such, therefore
RESOLVED, That, if in the face of this protest and opinion of this Section, there is to be an investigation to decide whether or not William Q. Judge is or was in communication with said Mahâtmâs, and whether or not he has "misused the names and handwriting of said Mahatmas," or whether or not pretended or real communications or orders from said alleged Mahatmas have been issued or given out by him, then, in the opinion of this Section, an investigation should also be had to decide whether or not Col. Olcott, A. P. Sinnett, Annie Besant, and others have had, given, or promulgated such or any communication from the Mahatmas, whether real or pretended; and that they be required to show evidence of the possession of a commission from said Mahâtmâs, and of the truthfulness of their claims as heretofore frequently made and announced by them in public.
RESOLVED: That, in the opinion of this Section, only a Body of Mahâtmâs ,appearing at the Sessions of the Committee could decide whether or not any communication was or is a genuine or fraudulent Mahâtmic message.
Mr. Evan Williams then moved that the resolutions be considered now and voted on, which being seconded was carried. Discussion was called for, and several said it had been discussed and decided for weeks and the question was demanded. The motion on the resolutions was then put and carried unanimously.
NEW YORK, April 4, 1894
To the American Section T.S. in Convention:
No specifications accompany this notice, which was received from him March 10, 1894; but he has telegraphed me that he will fix the 27th of June next for the sittings of the proposed committee in London. If any specifications do arrive before this is laid before you I may annex them thereto; and I make this communication now in advance, as there is no need to wait to take action after your adjournment; hence I leave the matter with you to take such action as is right and proper under the circumstances and the Rules.
CHARGES AGAINST WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
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To all Members of the Theosophical Society;
The assertion is made in India that I have been guilty of "misuse of the names and handwriting of the Mahâtmâs," and this has been officially communicated to the President, who, writing from Agra, India, under date of February 7th (received here March 10th, 1894), says an investigation is demanded through
an official inquiry by means of a committee into the matter of your alleged misuse of the Mahâtmâs names and handwriting.
Conceiving himself required and authorized to take action, the President proceeds thus:
By virtue of the discretionary powers given me in Article 6 of the Revised Rules, I place before you the following options:
He then ends by proposing two code words for an immediate reply "first," to mean That I resign, and "second," that I demand a committee.
On March 10th, I cabled him as follows:
Charge absolutely false. You can take what proceedings you see fit; going [to] London [in] July.
The reason for not using his word "second" will later on be made clear.
The charge is made against me as Vice-President: I have replied as an individual and shall so continue, inasmuch as in my capacity of Vice-President my duties are nominal, have once been exercised by communicating to the Society, as required by the Constitution, the resignation of the President, and once by acting for the President at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. The only charges that could be made against the Vice-President would be those of failing to perform his duties, or misusing the office when there were any duties attached to it. On the face of this very vague charge, then, it is evident that there is nothing in it relating to the official Vice-President.
Inasmuch as I was the first presiding officer of the Theosophical Society at its preliminary meeting in September, 1875, and its first Secretary at such meeting; that I was not only H. P. Blavatsky's intimate friend and direct pupil but that I have been conspicuous as an upholder of Theosophical doctrine, as also an upholder, with many other friends in every part of the globe, of H. P. Blavatsky's good name, high motive, and great powers against the ridicule of the world and much opposition from certain members of the Society she founded; that I have been elected to succeed Col. Olcott as President of the Society and have been officially declared his successor by him; it is important and imperative that I should make this matter public, and I now do so, and state my unqualified, explicit, exhaustive denial of the said charge, asserting most unreservedly that it has absolutely no foundation.
Under the Constitution the President is directed to call a Judicial Committee to consider charges. The committee is to consist of the members of the General Council, who are now the President, the three General Secretaries, and the Vice-President. In this case, one member of the Council could not sit, being the General Secretary of American Section, Vice-President, and the accused. The person charged has the right to nominate two additional members on the Committee, and each of the Sections two. This would call for eleven members. The accused person has the right to fix the place of trial. When the President calls the committee, I shall fix on London as the place for its meeting, as I am going to attend the European Section Convention next July.
Hence I shall request the American Section Convention in April to make selection in advance of the two members from this Section, either by then naming them or by empowering the Executive Committee to do so whenever the official notice comes to the Section from the President. It is certainly useless to wait the long time required by the distance of India from here, inasmuch as it is perfectly evident that the Committee will be convened by the President. Perhaps when the Committee is convened I shall, for the first time, have particulars as to persons, dates, and the like of the charges made, none of which up to this time I have had except in the form of rumor.
More acutely than any personal grievance, do I feel the probability of a deplorable influence being at first exercised on the Theosophical movement by the making of these charges. I do not think it will have a lasting effect for injury. The rumors to which I have referred have been used by the enemies of the Society to show, if possible, dissension among us and to found a charge of rottenness; they have printed the matter in a scandalous form in both Europe and America, pretending that in my official and private capacities I am in the habit of sending alleged "Mahâtmâ messages," and then they added ribald jokes of their own. This I have not hitherto noticed, because all members know that the correspondence and work of the Society are open to all and entirely devoid of the elements alleged to exist by these opponents; we are all perfectly aware that our strength lies in our devotion and constant work. The present situation will therefore result in clearing the air and consolidating our ranks in all directions.
As to my failure to cable the word "second," meaning "I demand a Committee." The reason is not that an investigation is avoided. Such an investigation will not be avoided. But on constitutional and executive principle I shall object from beginning to end to any committee of the Theosophical Society considering any charge against any person which involves an inquiry and decision as to the existence, names, powers, functions, or methods of the "Mahâtmâs or Masters." I shall do this for the protection of the Theosophical Society now and hereafter, regardless of the result to myself. The Society has no dogma as to the existence of such Masters; but the deliberations of an official committee of the Society on such a question, and that is the first inquiry and decision necessarily beginning such a deliberation, would mean that the Theosophical Society after over nineteen years of unsectarian work is determined to settle this dogma and affix it to the Constitution of the Society. To this I will never consent, but shall object, and shall charge the Committee itself with a violation of the Constitution if it decides the question of the existence of the "Masters" or Mahâtmâs; if it should affirm the "Masters'" existence it will violate the law; if it should deny Their existence a like violation will result; both decisions would affirm a dogma, and the negative decision would in addition violate that provision of our law, in Art. XIII, Revised Rules, which makes it an offense to "willfully offend the religious feelings of any Fellow" of the Society, inasmuch as the belief so negatived is religiously held by many hundreds of the Fellows of the Society. I intend to try once for all to definitely have settled this important question, and to procure an official decision affirming now and forever the freedom of our Society.
Hence the President's alternatives, offered as above, are mistakes, and are the initial steps to the promulgation of the dogma of belief in the "Masters." The first alternative is furthermore a judgment in advance, ridiculous in itself, yet serious as emanating from our highest official. It precludes him from sitting on the Committee, and that point also I shall raise before the Committee. The whole proposal he makes brings up serious and complicated questions of occultism touching upon the matter of the existence, powers, functions, and methods of those "Masters" in whom many Theosophists believe but as to whom the Theosophical Society is perfectly agnostic and neutral as an organized body. For that reason no one in official position ever thought of making a public matter of the many assertions made here and there by members of the Society, that they individually communicated with beings whom they called "Masters, Mahâtmâs," nor of the assertions publicly made by prominent members that certain philosophical statements recently published in our literature were directly from the very "Masters" referred to by Col. Olcott, although these statements contradicted others made by H. P. Blavatsky on the declared authority of the same "Masters."
On all these grounds, then, I shall object to a Theosophical Society Committee, while of course there will never be any objection from me to a proper investigation by a body of persons who know enough of Occultism as well as of Theosophy to understandingly inquire into these matters.
But some of you may wonder if all this leaves in doubt the question whether I believe in the "Masters." I believe the Masters exist, that They actually help the T.S. Cause, that They energize and make fruitful the work of all sincere members; all this I can say to myself I know, but to prove objectively to another that such beings exist is impossible now so far as my intelligence can perceive. "Letters from Mahâtmâs" prove nothing at all except to the recipient, and then only when in his inner nature is the standard of proof and the power of judgment. Precipitation does not prove Mahâtmâs, for the reason that mere mediums and non-mahatmas can make precipitations. This I have always asserted. By one's soul alone can this matter be judged, and only by his work and acts can one judge at first as to whether any other person is an agent of the Masters; by following the course prescribed in all ages the inner faculties may be awakened so as to furnish the true confirmatory evidence. I have not lost any of my belief in these beings, but more than ever believe in Their existence and in Their help and care to and over our Society's work.
Finally I may say that my personal belief in Mahâtmâs is based on even stronger evidence than Theosophical arguments or the experience of others. As is known to some Theosophists, I have not been entirely without guidance and help from these exalted friends of the T.S. The form which the whole matter has taken now compels me to say what I have never before said publicly, namely, that not only have I received direct communications from Masters during and since the life of H. P. Blavatsky, but that I have on certain occasions repeated such to certain persons for their own guidance, and also that I have guided some of my own work under suggestions from the same sources, though without mentioning the fact.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
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