THEOSOPHY, Vol. 9, No. 1, November, 1920
(Pages 14-27; Size: 44K)
(Number 11 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
THE four published volumes of "Old Diary Leaves" bear upon their covers the legend: THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY. No doubt this is what Colonel Olcott intended and believed them to be. Equally it is beyond question that in the eyes of the world and of theosophical students generally he has been assumed to be that one who had the greatest knowledge of the facts, the best opportunity for accurate judgments, and the strongest incentive for recording both. These views have been supported by the transparent sincerity that shines from every page of his reminiscences, by the wealth of details given by him, by the fact that he was throughout its life the official Head of the Theosophical Society, that he survived for many years both his colleagues in the pioneer work of the Movement, no less than by the fact that he consistently and quite innocently over-estimated his own status and importance in that work.
Neither of his colleagues ever wrote for publication anything that savored of the autobiographical or were at pains to attract attention to themselves: on the contrary, they "sedulously kept closed," to the utmost extent that the nature of their mission and the indiscretions of their associates permitted, "every possible door of approach by which the inquisitive could spy upon them. The prime condition of their success was that they should never be supervised or obstructed. What they have done they know; all that those outside their circle could perceive was results, the causes of which were masked from view." It is passing strange that these statements of the Mahatma K.H. in his letter to Mr. Hume, and the other statements of the same Adept in his letters reproduced in "The Occult World," have never been applied by theosophical students to the events and actors in the drama of the Theosophical Movement. No more than did Mr. Sinnett or Mr. Hume, have Theosophists generally made practical use of these admonitions and instructions, which are, in the very nature of things, universal in their scope and application. What more necessary and important than that the direct Agent of the Masters in the world should be shielded and guarded in her occult nature and functions from all but those who have "earned the right to know Them?"
At the outset, then, it should be understood that widely as "H.P.B." has been discussed and extensive as have been the controversies which have raged about her mission and her "personality" the fact remains that only the scantiest and most fragmentary details exist relating to her, after the elimination of all the mass of hearsay and opinion, of claims and counterclaims made by friends and foes as to her occult status, powers and relations. She is known, where known at all, only through her writings and by those who have faithfully, and without variableness or the shadow of turning, "followed the Path she showed and the Masters who are behind."
Her writings are devoted entirely, (a) To placing on record her message of Theosophy and the citation of the evidences and arguments establishing its unbroken existence down the ages; (b) To articles in explanation and application of the principles of that Message; (c) To instruction, advice and suggestion to the students, individually and collectively, who to any extent become interested in Theosophy; (d) To the direct and pointed statements made by her in her letters to and in relation to those persons who voluntarily associated themselves in her work and who as voluntarily pledged themselves to her guidance and tuition; (e) To the defense of her mission, its instruments and her associates.
She was interested in and devoted to a CAUSE: nothing else mattered to her, nothing else was of moment to her, save and except as it might hasten or retard that Cause. Her writings, as her works, are wholly impersonal; consequently she never touched upon persons or events save as the exigencies of the Movement, of the Society, or of her pupils made such attention compulsory on her part. And the same state of facts applies in its integrity to William Q. Judge, his writings and his works.
On the other hand "Old Diary Leaves," including the miscellaneous articles and letters written by Col. Olcott in connection with his Theosophical work, are wholly autobiographical and personal -- in their point of view, in their treatment of men and events, in their judgments and conclusions. From the basis of the Superior Sections he was a struggling probationer, wrestling with the foes entrenched in his own inner nature; even as he was in his own eyes and those of so many others the President-Founder of the Theosophical society, wrestling valiantly with its enemies, without and within. The period from 1881 to 1888 is that of the second septennate of the probationary chelaship both of Henry S. Olcott and of the Theosophical Society as a body, and the struggles of the one are the mirror and the reflex of the struggles of the other. The "wandering from the discipline" of the one is depicted in the stresses which beset the other; their joint departures from their professed Pledges and Objects the compelling reason for the public formation of "The Esoteric Section of the T.S.," under the exclusive control and direction of H.P.B.; in order, if possible, once more to restore the efforts of both to "the lines laid down from the beginning;" in any event, to enable the Messenger of the Masters to fulfil her mission and plant in the best soil available the seed entrusted to her hands for the sowing.
The "critical period" preceding the formation of the "Esoteric Section" has been discussed, and its various factors and actors commented on, in various ways by the only ones competent to do so at first hand: By H.P.B., by Col. Olcott, by W. Q. Judge, and by the Master K.H. We may examine at this point some of the statements of all of them, in the order named, omitting W. Q. Judge for the time being, for the sake of logical, no less than of chronological, continuity.
In April, 1886, H.P.B. wrote a long and important letter to Dr. Franz Hartmann in reply to questions and problems raised by him. Dr. Hartmann, it will be remembered, was at Adyar before, during, and subsequent to the Coulomb charges, the Indian Convention's practical desertion of H.P.B., Mr. Hodgson's investigations for the S.P.R., the resignation and departure of H.P.B., and was familiar with much of the "unwritten history" of that eventful period. He learned enough, and his intuitions were sufficiently awake, to make him the faithful and loyal friend of both H.P.B., and W.Q.J., through all the troubled voyage of the Theosophical ship. The letter was forced into publicity by the necessities of a decade later. It will be found in full in "The Path" for March, 1896.
After acknowledging his letter she says:
"What you say in it seems to me like an echo of my own thoughts in many a way; only knowing the truth and the real state of things in the 'occult world' better than you do, I am perhaps able to see better also where the real mischief was and lies."
What the truth and the real state of things was in connection with the facts and factors underlying the course of events we are considering, is discussed at length:
"As to ... that portion of your letter where you speak of the 'army' of the deluded -- and the 'imaginary' Mahatmas of Olcott -- you are absolutely and sadly right. Have I not seen the thing for nearly eight years? Have I not struggled and fought against Olcott's ardent and gushing imagination, and tried to stop him every day of my life? Was he not told by me ... that if he did not see the Masters in their true light, and did not cease speaking and enflaming people's imaginations, that he would be held responsible for all the evil the Society might come to?...
"Ah, if by some psychological process you could be made to see the whole truth! ... I was sent to America on purpose and sent to the Eddies. There I found Olcott in love with spirits, as he became in love with the Masters later on. I was ordered to let him know that spiritual phenomena without the philosophy of Occultism were dangerous and misleading. I proved to him that all that mediums could do through spirits others could do at will without any spirits at all.... Well, I told him the whole truth. I said to him that I had known Adepts,... That ... Adepts were everywhere Adepts -- silent, secret, retiring, and who would never divulge themselves entirely to anyone, unless one did as I did -- passed seven and ten years probation and given proofs of absolute devotion, and that he, or she, would keep silent even before a prospect and a threat of death. I fulfilled the requirements and am what I am; and this no Hodgson, no Coulombs, no Sellin, can take away from me....
"When we arrived (in India) and Master coming to Bombay bodily, paid a visit to us ... --Olcott became crazy. He was like Balaam's she-ass when she saw the angel! Then came ... other fanatics who began calling them 'Mahatmas'; and, little by little, the Adepts were transformed into Gods on earth. They began to be appealed to, and made puja to, and were becoming with every day more legendary and miraculous.... Well between this idea of Mahatmas and Olcott's rhapsodies, what could I do? I saw with terror and anger the false track they were all pursuing. The 'Masters,' as all thought, must be omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent.... The Masters knew all; why did they not help the devotee? If a mistake or a flapdoodle was committed in the Society -- 'How could the Masters allow you or Olcott to do so?' we were asked in amazement. The idea that the Masters were mortal men, limited even in their great powers, never crossed anyone's mind....
"Is it Olcott's fault? perhaps, to a degree. Is it mine? I absolutely deny it, and protest against the accusation. It is no one's fault. Human nature alone, and the failure of modern society and religions to furnish people with something higher and nobler than craving after money and honors -- is at the bottom of it. Place this failure on one side, and the mischief and havoc produced in people's brains by modern spiritualism, and you have the enigma solved. Olcott to this day is sincere, true and devoted to the cause. He does and acts the best he knows how, and the mistakes and absurdities he has committed and commits to this day are due to something he lacks in the psychological portion of his brain, and he is not responsible for it. Loaded and heavy is his Karma, poor man, but much must be forgiven to him, for he has always erred through lack of right judgment, not from any vicious propensity."
This letter, it will be noted, was written a year after H.P.B.'s departure from India, a little over a year before the foundation of "Lucifer," and forms part of the chain of time and action leading to the formation of the "Esoteric Section." Both H.P.B. and Mr. Judge from then on made the most strenuous efforts, publicly and privately, in preparations for the restoration of the Society, in Europe and America at least, to a semblance of its original lines through the "Esoteric Section," as has been partly detailed and indicated. The obstacles in the way, internally, lay in the misconceptions of the philosophy, in the erroneous ideas in regard to the nature of the Masters, in the deeply-rooted preconceived opinions that H.P.B. was a "chela," was a "medium" sometimes trustworthy, sometimes not, sometimes honest, sometimes not, as held by Col. Olcott, by Mr. Sinnett, and by many others prominently identified with the Society and its activities. From their point of view the Society had achieved a magnificent success and, under their guidance and direction, was on the highroad to still greater conquests; its drawbacks and limitations chiefly due to the "mistakes" and the "interferences" of H.P.B. How intensely these opinions affected Mr. Sinnett we shall find in due course. How entirely they governed the outlook and controlled the attitude of Col. Olcott we have now to witness. Turning to "Old Diary Leaves," we may join him in the summer of 1887, go over the events with him, and observe the workings of his consciousness as described by himself. Beginning with the last chapter of his "Third Series" he says:
"At Chupra, among my foreign letters I received one from H.P.B. which distressed me much. She had consented to start a new magazine with capital subscribed by London friends of hers, while she was still editor and half proprietor of the Theosophist --a most unusual and unbusinesslike proceeding. Besides other causes, among them the persuasion of English friends, a reason which strongly moved her to this was that Mr. Cooper-Oakley, her own appointee as Managing Editor, had more or less sided with T. Subba Row in a dispute which had sprung up between him and H.P.B. on the question whether the 'principles' which go to the make-up of a human being were seven or five in number. Subba Row had replied in our pages to an article of hers on the subject, and her letters to me about it were most bitter and denunciatory of Cooper-Oakley, whom she, without reasonable cause, charged with treachery. It was one of those resistless impulses which carried her away sometimes into extreme measures. She wanted me to take away his editorial authority, and even sent me a foolish document, like a power-of-attorney, empowering me to send him to Coventry, so to say, and not allow any galley-proof to pass to the printer until initialed by myself. Of course, I remonstrated strongly against her thus, without precedent, setting up a rival competing magazine to hurt as much as possible the circulation and influence of our old-established organ, on the title-page of which her name still appeared. But it was useless to protest; she said she was determined to have a magazine in which she could say what she pleased, and in due time Lucifer appeared as her personal organ, and I got on as well as I could without her. Meanwhile, a lively interchange of letters went on between us. She was at strife then, more or less, with Mr. Sinnett, and before this was settled, a number of seceders from his London Lodge organized as the Blavatsky Lodge, and met at her house in Lansdowne Road, where her sparkling personality and vast knowledge of occult things always ensured full meetings."
In the second chapter of the "Fourth Series," which Col. Olcott heads, "The Fears of H.P.B.," he says, by way of preface:
"When I look back through my papers of those days of stress and storm, and read the letters written me from exile by Mme. Blavatsky, the solemn feeling comes over me that the binding mortar of its blocks was stiffened by the blood of her heart, and in her anguish were they laid. She was the Teacher, I the pupil; she the misunderstood and insulted messenger of the Great Ones, I the practical brain to plan, the right hand to work out the practical details."
After a desultory sentence or two the "pupil" continues in regard to his Teacher, the "misunderstood messenger of the Great Ones:"
"It is painful beyond words to read her correspondence from Europe, and see how she suffered from various causes, fretting and worrying too often over mare's nests. Out of the sorest grievances I select the defection of T. Subba Rao (Row); the admission into the Theosophist by the Sub-Editor (whom she had herself appointed) of articles which she considered antagonistic to the Trans-Himalayan teachings; the refusal of Subba Rao to edit the Secret Doctrine MSS., contrary to his original promise,... his wholesale condemnation of it; the personal quarrels of various European colleagues; the war between Mr. Judge and Dr. Coues in America; the threatened renewal of persecution against her if she returned to India, as we begged her to do;..."
On page 41 he continues, "Things were growing more and more unpleasant at Adyar on account of the friction between H.P.B. and T. Subba Rao and certain of his Anglo-Indian backers. They even went so far as to threaten withdrawal from the Society and the publication of a rival magazine if H.P.B. did not treat them better." On page 47 he says, "Portents of a coming storm in our European groups, stirred up or intensified by H.P.B., begin to show themselves, and Judge complains of our neglecting him. Just then Dr. Coues was working hard for the notoriety he craved, and Judge was opposing him." Finally, page 51, referring to the same year (1888) Col. Olcott relates: "The last week in June brought me a vexatious letter from H.P.B., indicative of a storm of trouble that was raging in and about her."
Chapter IV of the "Fourth Series" is entitled "Formation of the Esoteric Section," and continues Col. Olcott's reminiscences of this momentous epoch. As is almost a characteristic -- or characterizing -- habit of his in all his discussions of her, he first pays tribute to H.P.B. in a way to bring himself to the front of the stage and then proceeds to soliloquize, always to the issue that he was the saviour of the Society against the weaknesses and mistakes of H.P.B. thus:
"It was remarked at the end of the last chapter that we were now about to review some disagreeable incidents of the year in which H.P.B. was a conspicuous factor. If she had been just an ordinary person hidden behind the screen of domesticity, this history of the development of the Theosophical movement might have been written without bringing her on the stage: or if the truth had been told about her by friend and foe I might have left her to be dealt with by her karma, showing, of course, what great part she had played in it, and to how great a credit she was entitled. But she has shared the fate of all public characters of mark in human affairs, having been absurdly flattered and worshipped by one party, and mercilessly wronged by the other. Unless, then her most intimate friend and colleague, the surviving builder-up of the movement, had cast aside the reserve he had all along maintained, and would have preferred to preserve, the real personage would never have been understood by her contemporaries, nor justice done to her really grand character. That she was great in the sense of the thorough altruism of her public work is unquestionable: in her times of exaltation self was drowned in the yearning to spread knowledge and do her Master's bidding. She never sold her rich store of occult knowledge for money, nor bartered instruction for personal advantage. She valued her life as nothing as balanced against service, and would have given it as joyfully as any religious martyr if the occasion had seemed to demand the sacrifice. These tendencies and characteristic traits she had brought over with her from a long line of incarnations in which she (and in some, we) had been engaged in like service; they were the aspects of her individuality, high, noble, ideally loyal, worthy, not of being worshipped -- for no human being ought to be made the cause of slavish adoration -- but of aspiration to be like it."
Then the wise pupil, sure of his own discrimination and judgment, proceeds to point out the weaknesses and failings with which his Teacher is afflicted:
"Her personality is quite another affair, and afforded a strong background to throw out her interior brightness into stronger relief. In the matter under present discussion, for instance, the front she presents to me in her letters is unlovely to a degree: language violent, passion raging, scorn and satire poorly covered by a skin of soft talk; a disposition to break through the 'red tape' of the Society's mild constitution, and to rule or ruin as I might decide to ratify or disavow her arbitrary and utterly unconstitutional acts; a sniffing at the Council and Councillors, whom she did not choose to have stand in her way, a sharp and slashing criticism of certain of her European co-workers, especially of the one most prominent in that part of the movement, whose initials she parenthesized after the word 'Satan,' and an appeal that I should not let our many years of associated work be lost in the breaking up of the T.S. into two unrelated bodies, the Eastern and Western Theosophical Societies. In short, she writes like a mad person and in the tone of a hyperexcited hysterical woman,... Yet, ill in body and upset in mind as she may have been, she was still a mighty factor for me to deal with, and forced me to choose which line of policy I should pursue. The first count in her indictment against me (for, of course, more suo, it was all my fault) was that I had decided against her favourite in an arbitration I had held at Paris, that year, between two opposing parties among the French Theosophists; it was, she writes me, 'no mistake, but a crime perpetrated by you against Theosophy (doubly underscored), in full knowledge of what X is and fear of Y. Olcott, my friend you are ---, but I do not want to hurt your feelings, and will not say to you what you are. If you do not feel and realize it yourself, then all I can say will be useless. As for P. (a Frenchman, subsequently expelled from the Society), you have put yourself entirely in his hands, and you have sacrificed Theosophy, and even the honour of the T.S. in France, out of fear of that wretched little ---.'"
Although on page 23 he specifically declares that "she refused point-blank to lead any Society that did not recognize Adyar as its central head," -- a sheer assertion of his own stated in a manner to indicate it as an indirect citation from one of her letters -- on page 55 he contradicts himself de but en blanc by quoting directly from her correspondence:
"She had hatched out a new section, with herself elected as 'President,' taken a commodious house, and had a sign-board ready to have painted on it either 'European Headquarters of the T.S.' or 'Western Theosophical Society.' Seeming to suspect that I might not like it very much to have the whole machinery of the Society upset to gratify her whim, and remembering of old that the more she threatened the more stubborn it made me, she writes: 'Now look here, Olcott. It is very painful, most painful, for me to have to put you what the French call marche en main, and to have you choose. You will say again that you 'hate threats,' and these will only make you more stubborn. But this is no threat at all, but a fait accompli. It remains with you to either ratify it or to go against it, and declare war on me and my Esotericists. If, recognizing the utmost necessity of the step, you submit to the inexorable evolution of things, nothing will be changed. Adyar and Europe will remain allies, and to all appearance, the latter will seem to be subject to the former. If you do not ratify it -- well, then there will be two Theosophical Societies, the old Indian and the new European, entirely independent of each other.'"
Col. Olcott then goes on to say: "Hobson's choice, in a word! After this, one need not be astonished to see her saying: 'I write in all calmness and after full deliberation, your having granted the Charter to P. (the Paris Frenchman before mentioned) having only precipitated matters!'"
Col. Olcott says that "This stand-and-deliver ultimatum naturally frightened the 'mild Hindu' members of our Executive Council to fits," and that "The Paris arbitration above referred to occurred during my European visit of 1888, which kept me there from 26th August to 22nd October, and was made at the entreaty of the Executive Council, as the tone of H.P.B.'s letters had alarmed them for the stability of the movement in the West. The tour should, by rights, have been mentioned before the incidents of the threatened split above alluded to, but H.P.B.'s letters lying nearest to hand, and the trouble being continuous through the two successive years (1888-1889), I took it up first."
He then gives the "true history" of the "Paris imbroglio," raging in the "Isis" branch of the T.S. over its conduct by M. F. K. Gaboriau, the editor of "Le Lotus." Col. Olcott says, "In doing this he had become involved in disputes, in which H.P.B. had taken his side, and made a bad mess for me by giving him, in her real character of Co-Founder and her assumed one of my representative, with full discretionary powers, a charter of a sweeping and unprecedented character, which practically let him do as he pleased. This was, of course, protested against by some of his soberer colleagues, recriminations arose, and an appeal was made to me."
Col. Olcott characterizes M. Gaboriau as a "hypersensitive young man ... who showed an excessive enthusiasm for Theosophy, but small executive faculty."
Col. Olcott proceeded to Paris and on the 17th September read his formal "decision" to the assembled members. The account in "Old Diary Leaves" recites: "My action in this affair was taken according to my best judgment, after hearing all that was to be said and seeing everybody concerned; I believe it to have been the best under existing circumstances, though it threw M. Gaboriau out of the active running, caused him and some of his few followers to denounce me unqualifiedly, and led to a pitched battle, as one might say, between H.P.B. and myself on my return to London. The sequel is above shown in her revolutionary action with respect to the reorganization at London ... Nearly all the persons engaged in the Paris quarrel were to blame, they having given way to personal jealousies, obliterated the landmarks of the Society, fallen into a strife for supremacy, with mutual abuse, oral and printed...."
Thus "Old Diary Leaves," written many years after the occurrences, with all the facts before him, as a portion of "The True History of the Theosophical Society" regarding events surpassed in importance by only two epochs in the life of that phase of the Theosophical Movement -- the foundation itself of that Society, and its destruction seven years later by the recurrence of the cycle of evil factors then in array against the formation of the "Esoteric Section."
Judging from the account in "Old Diary Leaves" Olcott was the Saviour of the T.S. and the Movement, against the "language violent," the "passion raging," the "arbitrary and utterly unconstitutional acts," the "disposition to rule or ruin," the "breaking-up of the T.S. into two unrelated bodies," the "stand-and-deliver ultimatum," the "bad mess" created by H.P.B. -- the "mad person," the "conspicuous factor" in the "disagreeable incidents," the "hyperexcited hysterical woman."
In the case in point, the student may turn to the actual "official decision" of Col. Olcott, in contrast to his story as given in "Old Diary Leaves," and there learn whether H.P.B. exceeded her constitutional powers in the "Isis" matter, and whether it was Col. Olcott who "pacified" H.P.B., or H.P.B. who brought Olcott once more to a realizing sense of his own vanity, self-sufficiency and folly of judgment when left to his own courses -- to the storms of his "pledge fever," in short. In his own words, as recorded in that "decision :"
"It has been objected that Mme. Blavatsky had not the right to act in this matter; that her interference was illegal according to the Rules of the Theosophical Society.... But, in point of fact, Mme. Blavatsky is ... with me Co-Founder of the Society, Corresponding Secretary and, ex officio, member of the General Council, of the Executive Council and of the Annual Convention, a sort of Parliament held at Adyar by delegates from all countries....
"She was, then, perfectly authorized to issue the order in question as a temporary measure, an order which must be finally submitted for approbation to the President in Council. The Executive Council, in its session of 14th July, formally ratified the measure taken by Mme. Blavatsky, a measure which was urgent, and which I declare to have been legal...."
The absolute contradiction between the facts here shown, their implications, and the story given in "Old Diary Leaves" with its inferences and derogatory statements in regard to H.P.B., shows the utter unreliability of Col. Olcott when his feelings were involved, or when the full facts place him in an unenviable light. Only in the light of a "probationary chela" in the fiery furnace of "pledge fever" can his contradictions be understood and so reconciled with the real honesty of his nature and the genuine devotion which he manifested for the Theosophical Society of which he was "President-Founder" and which was the be-all and end-all of existence to him. So identified was it with himself in his consciousness, that more and more he came to view and treat any differences with himself, any correction by his Teacher, as an assault and a menace on the Society.
Col. Olcott's comments, strictures, and judgments on H.P.B., of which those herein given are but a fragment, are less adverse and self-contradictory than his final pronunciamento in respect to her (and to which we shall have to recur later on). They stand in melancholy contrast to the Master's own statements to Colonel Olcott in respect to himself, H.P.B., others, the events under discussion, the Secret Doctrine, and many other matters of the utmost moment to all students of Theosophical affairs. It is a characteristic anachronism that leads Col. Olcott, in "Old Diary Leaves," Third Series, Chapter VIII, to relate this letter to the joint visit of H.P.B. and himself to Europe in 1884 and the troubles then prevalent in the "London Lodge;" instead of, as was the fact, to the very matters we are considering, in 1888. This letter, which, says Colonel Olcott at page 91, "I received phenomenally in my cabin on board the 'Shannon,' the day before we reached Brindisi," is but barely referred to by the Colonel in the connection in which he places it, and no one could by any possibility infer the transcendent importance of its contents from the brief quotations given by him. Those quotations, however, are sufficient to identify the letter itself, as is also the fact stated that it was received on board the "Shannon," which was the vessel in which he voyaged in 1888, not in 1884; and, no less, the citations in "Lucifer" for October 15, 1888, where it is stated by H.P.B. that the letter was received by Col. Olcott "only a few weeks ago." The same number of "Lucifer" gives extracts from the letter, the extracts being certified by Col. Olcott himself. Fuller extracts were contained in a pamphlet sent out at the time, entitled "To All Theosophists." The complete text of the letter only came to the light of general publicity after many years. It will be found in the volume, "Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom."
Several momentous facts should be borne in mind in connection with this Letter: It was "phenomenally" delivered to Col. Olcott who was voyaging alone and was at sea, a day from Brindisi, when it was received; its contents show that it was written, or "precipitated," but a very short time before it was received by the Colonel -- a matter of hours or minutes; they show that it was written after the year 1885, not before, as "Old Diary Leaves" places it: it refers prophetically as well as historically to other subjects, to which we shall refer later on. At this point it is enough to introduce those extracts which directly relate to Col. Olcott and H.P.B. and shed a clear and authoritative light on their respective natures, status and functions, no less than on the hidden aspects of the events under consideration. The Master addresses Col. Olcott without preamble or circumlocution:
"Again, as you approach London, I have a word or two to say to you. Your impressibility is so changeful that I must not wholly depend upon it at this critical time. Of course you know that things were so brought to a focus as to necessitate the present journey.... Put all needed restraint upon your feelings, so that you may do the right thing in this Western imbroglio. Watch your first impressions. The mistakes you make spring from failure to do this. Let neither your personal predilections, affections, suspicions nor antipathies affect your action....
"Your revolt, good friend, against her 'infallibility' -- as you once thought it -- has gone too far, and you have been unjust to her, for which I am sorry to say, you will have to suffer hereafter, along with others. Just now -- on deck, your thoughts about her were dark and sinful, and so I find the moment a fitting one to put you on your guard....
"Make all these men feel that we have no favourites, nor affections for persons, but only for their good acts and humanity as a whole. But we employ agents -- the best available. Of these, for the past thirty years, the chief has been the personality known as H.P.B. to the world (but otherwise to us). Imperfect and very 'troublesome,' no doubt, she proves to some; nevertheless, there is no likelihood of our finding a better one for years to come, and your theosophists should be made to understand it.... Her fidelity to our work being constant, and her sufferings having come upon her through it, neither I nor either of my brother associates will desert or supplant her. As I once before remarked, ingratitude is not among our vices. With yourself our relations are direct, and have been, with the rare exceptions you know of, like the present, on the psychical plane, and so will continue through force of circumstances. That they are so rare -- is your own fault as I told you in my last. To help you in your present perplexity: H.P.B. has next to no concern with administrative details, and should be kept clear of them, so far as her strong nature can be controlled. But this you must tell to all:-- with occult matters she has everything to do. We have not 'abandoned' her. She is not 'given over to chelas.' She is our direct agent. I warn you against permitting your suspicions and resentment against 'her many follies' to bias your intuitive loyalty to her. In the adjustment of this European business, you will have two things to consider -- the external and administrative, and the internal psychical. Keep the former under your control and that of your most prudent associates jointly; leave the latter to her. You are left to devise the practical details with your usual ingenuity. Only be careful, I say, to discriminate when some emergent interference of hers in practical affairs is referred to you on appeal, between that which is merely exoteric in origin and effects, and that which beginning on the practical tends to beget consequences on the spiritual plane. As to the former you are the best judge, as to the latter, she....
"There have been sore trials in the past, others await you in the future. May the faith and courage which have supported you hitherto endure to the end....
"This letter ... is merely given you as a warning and a guide...."
This letter from the Master, and the influence of H.P.B., prevailed for the time to restore the poise of Col. Olcott, to put him in his proper place, and to prevent any open breach in the Theosophical ranks. As in the spring of 1885, H.P.B. made every effort to shield Olcott himself, no less than the Society at large, from the bad consequences of his ill-advised actions. A "Joint Note" was published in "Lucifer" along with the extracts from the Master's letter, from the official "decision" of Col. Olcott, and the notice of "The Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society." The form, both of the "Joint Note" and of the "Notice" was made, as with the notices in the "Theosophist" in the spring of 1885, to shield Col. Olcott in his position of "President-Founder" of the T.S., and to uphold as far as possible his standing before the membership. The "Joint Note" is as follows:
"To dispel a misconception that has been engendered by mischief-makers, we, the undersigned, Founders of the Theosophical Society, declare that there is no enmity, rivalry, strife, or even coldness, between us, nor ever was; nor any weakening of our joint devotion to the Masters, or to our work, with the execution of which they have honoured us. Widely dissimilar in temperament and mental characteristics, and differing sometimes in views as to methods of propagandism, we are yet absolutely of one mind as to that work. As we have been from the first, so are we now united in purpose and zeal, and ready to sacrifice all, even life, for the promotion of theosophical knowledge, to the saving of mankind from the miseries which spring from ignorance."
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
H. S. OLCOTT.
Strictly and literally true in H.P.B.'s case, as demonstrated by her whole life's record, Col. Olcott's signature to this "Notice" can only be read, in the light of his own precedent and subsequent performances, as very largely an admission, an affirmation and a promise.
The public Notice of the "Esoteric Section" reads:
THE ESOTERIC SECTION OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
Owing to the fact that a large number of Fellows of the Society have felt the necessity for the formation of a body of Esoteric Students, to be organized on the ORIGINAL LINES devised by the real founders of the T.S., the following order has been issued by the President-Founder:
I. To promote the esoteric interests of the Theosophical Society by the deeper study of esoteric philosophy, there is hereby organized a body, to be known as the "Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society."
II. The constitution and sole direction of the same is vested in Madame H. P. Blavatsky, as its Head; she is solely responsible to the Members for results; and the section has no official or corporate connection with the Exoteric Society save in the person of the President-Founder.
III. Persons wishing to join the Section, and willing to abide by its rules, should communicate directly with Mme. H. P. BLAVATSKY, 17 Landsdowne Road, Holland Park, London, W.Attest: H. P. BLAVATSKY.
(Signed) H. S. OLCOTT,
President in Council.
The astonishing admixture of complacency and naiveté exhibited in "Old Diary Leaves" is well illustrated by the following extracts, summing up, from Col. Olcott's point of view, the "title rôle" played by himself:
"I called two Conventions at London of the British Branches, organized and chartered a British Section of the T.S., and issued an order in Council forming an Esoteric Section, with Madame Blavatsky as its responsible head.... This was the beginning of the E.S.T. movement.... The reason for my throwing the whole responsibility for results upon H.P.B. was that she had already made one failure in this direction at Adyar in 1884 ... and I did not care to be responsible for the fulfilment of any special engagements she might make with the new set of students she was now gathering about her, in her disturbed state of mind. I helped her write some of her instructions, and did all I could to make the way easy for her, but that was all....
"My tour realized the objects in view, H.P.B. being pacified, our affairs in Great Britain put in order, and the E.S. started; but ... the calm was not destined to last and a second visit to Europe had to be made in 1889, after my return from Japan."
(To be Continued)
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE HUNGRY HEART
(THOUGHTS ON THE BHAGAVAD-GITA)
THOSE who seek the Way truly are those of the hungry heart -- Arjunas; who have lived as human beings, who have thought as if they were their brains, who have acted as if they were their bodies. Maintaining this position constantly in their lives -- in their duties to friends and relatives -- they have reached the place of despondency, where is no light, where is no sustenance, and from which they can rise only by assuming their rightful position as Divine beings. This is the first step in real learning, and it is the EFFORT to maintain the high position which constitutes the true action -- the real fight; in the maintenance of it is the real and final victory. True motive -- the one single desire -- finally brings understanding, which is the food of the Soul.
All Arjunas need help. For they have lost the memory of their Real being, living in the passing shadows of existence. And so, it is the office of the Teacher to actually awaken their true memory, -- to arouse the Sleeper within, to inspire, to readjust, and even goad, at times. But this is only possible when the hungry-hearted Arjuna has already assumed the attitude of learner -- when he has come so far as to recognize his Teacher, the Source of his philosophy, and the means of the continuation of his journey. At last, through time and effort, from the position assumed, the processes follow. True growth results, -- the growth toward right action through right perception, -- until, the fires being fed throughout his nature, spiritual knowledge arises spontaneously within his heart, and he knows himself as not human, but Divine.
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 12 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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(1) Corrections, objections, criticisms, questions and comments are invited from all readers on any facts or conclusions stated in this series. --EDITORS.
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