THEOSOPHY, Vol. 9, No. 7, May, 1921
(Pages 193-208; Size: 51K)
(Number 17 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
JUNE, 1889, the date of the opening guns in the Coues-Collins' campaign to destroy once and for all the moral repute of H.P.B., was also the time taken by Col. Olcott and his associates to attempt to divorce the Society from any reliance upon her, her assumed powers and mission, by giving it an organic and concrete objective and direction in substitution for its idealistic First Object and its dependence upon the Teacher and her Teaching. The ground had been carefully laid, as we have seen. The time had now come and the opportunity was favorable to proceed openly and undisguisedly.
Col. Olcott, after the Convention at the end of December, 1888, had taken the several preliminary actions recounted and given its official sanction to his views by the "Revised Rules" for the Society, had arranged with his able new lieutenant, Mr. Harte, for a Report of the Convention and an "Explanation" of the subversive course adopted that should present that course in the most favorable light to the members. This Report was sent to all Branches throughout the world. This was followed in the February, 1889, "Theosophist" by the article on "The Theosophical Society," from which we have given extracts. The same number contained as its leading article, "Is Denunciation a Duty." The title is copied from that of an article by H.P.B. in "Lucifer" for December preceding. [Note: Here is HPB's article: "Is Denunciation a Duty?" --Compiler.] Mr. Harte's article in "The Theosophist" gives lengthy extracts from the "Lucifer" article and proceeds to comments. Their gist and character is evident from the following extracts. H.P.B.'s article, says Mr. Harte,--
"Is written from too high a moral attitude to be of much practical utility to any but those into whose Theosophy, whether consciously or unconsciously to themselves, there has already entered a strong dash of the spirit of the true Chela....
"A pledge which does not take into account the tendency to fail, and which makes no provision for 'trying again,' may do very well for real Chelaship ...; but in the case of the drawing-room Theosophist, or even of the boudoir Chela, to make the pledge so severe a test of moral courage and self-abnegation seems almost as unnecessary and as dangerous as it would be to load with ball cartridge in order to fire a salute....
"Let it not be supposed for one moment that the writer of these lines would have the audacity to question or gainsay the superior wisdom of the honored Teacher who writes in 'Lucifer.' He would but respectfully advance certain considerations on behalf of those who do not feel themselves strong enough to take the Pledge as it now stands. ... There are pledges and pledges, and their manufactury is the monopoly of no one. Those who do not feel themselves able for the London pledge can take an easier one. ... Each man must be a law unto himself in Theosophy, we are told; and he must judge for himself whether it agrees better with his own particular 'constitution, rules and bye-laws' to promise a little with the intention of performing ever more and more, or to undertake a heavy burden, in fear and 'trembling,' lest he may break down under the load."
When the January "Theosophist" with its Report of the Adyar Convention, and the February number with the articles noted, reached America, Mr. Judge considered them in his report as General Secretary of the Convention of the American Section. How the issues raised were met, has been shown in the citations given both from Mr. Judge's report and from the Letter of H.P.B. to the same Convention. "Lucifer" for March contained an editorial "On Pseudo-Theosophy," in which, taking advantage of an article in the London "Daily News" which amused itself by some comments on Dr. Franz Hartmann's novel, "The Talking Image of Urur," then running in "Lucifer," H.P.B. without naming any names discussed the counter-currents in the Society. In "Lucifer" for June she published the article, "It's the Cat!," which was "Dedicated to those Members of the T.S. whom the cap may fit." Again without naming persons, she pays attention to those who would make of her "the cat," i.e., the scape-goat for all the sins of omission and commission of the Society and its members.
It was the habit with the three leading Theosophical publications to send to each other advance proofs of all forth-coming important articles. All the above-cited articles should therefore be read, both in connection with the then existing internal and external situation of the Society, and as a prelude to the June, 1889, "Theosophist."
"Applied Theosophy," its leading editorial, is an article of nearly ten pages. The writer asks:
"Now it is a question which demands the very serious attention of the Fellows of this Society, whether there does not exist something which bears the same relation to 'pure Theosophy' that applied mathematics bears to pure. If 'applied Theosophy' expresses any real idea, what is implied in the term? Can the Fellows of the Theosophical Society apply their knowledge to the affairs of our mundane existence? Is it possible to materialize, however imperfectly, the great mass of high aspirations and altruistic sentiments that have accumulated in the literature of Theosophy and in the souls of Theosophists, and which at present, for want of an outlet, seem to threaten us with a congestion of spirituality.
"The first question that naturally arises is, whether the action of the Theosophical Society in every respect should be limited to its declared Objects. ... Of the three Objects, two are distinctly separated from everything else. ... The first Object is altogether different. To 'form the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood,' is so far from conducing to retirement and concentration, is a purpose so high, so deep, so broad, so universally sympathetic, so distant of realization, that it becomes vague and confused when the attention is directed to it, and to most Fellows this Object is about equivalent in practice to the formation of a nucleus for the recurrence of the Golden Age, or for the re-establishment of the garden of Eden....
"Here and there a Fellow of the Society outside of India may be found who is willing to accept the Eastern Initiates, whether ancient or modern, as teachers; but the majority prefer to think and theorize for themselves, which is, after all, the best way for anyone to learn who can think and theorize logically.
"We have, then, a Society without opinions but with certain 'Objects,' certain principles, and certain methods, and we have as a result a tendency to certain modes of thought and certain theories of the Universe, to which theories the name of Theosophy has been given. ... The fact that 'The Secret Doctrine' has been so generally understood and so highly appreciated by Theosophists, shows that their own thoughts were not so very much behind the ideas given out in that marvellous work.
"All this, however, is only what may be called the intellectual or philosophical side of Theosophy; and it is the fruit of the Theosophical Society's influence in only one direction...."
The whole tendency of this argument appears clearly, first, to discredit the real and primary Object of the Society, and to make a division in its three Objects; secondly to emphasize that the teachings of the "Secret Doctrine" are neither new to the membership nor in any way an impartation from a higher plane of perception, as the "thoughts" of the membership "were not so very much behind the ideas 'given out' in that work; thirdly, that H.P.B.'s "theories of the Universe" are merely the fruit of the Theosophical Society's influence." The Society is not an outcome of H.P.B.'s mission and teaching; on the contrary these are a development of and from the Society!
After discoursing on the implications derivable from these premises, Mr. Harte proceeds a step further:
"... Since the Theosophical Society has professedly, as a body, no opinions on any subject, it is equally a transgression of its basic principles for it to sustain or promulgate any special system of philosophy, as in practice it decidedly does, under the name of 'Theosophy.' ... To combat evil actively is, in fact, the ungratified desire at present of thousands of Fellows of the Society, and it is chiefly because there is now no outlet for their activity in that direction, which takes their attention off of themselves and away from each other, that quarrels and scandals occur among its Fellows. Only a very small percentage of the Fellows care very much to work at Occultism, and now there is a separate division of the Society set apart for that purpose, under a Teacher eminently qualified to teach real Occultism if she only had pupils capable of learning it."
There is here the bald suggestion that the Esoteric Section is a "division" of the Society, hence subordinate to it and a "development" of it; that Occultism is a thing separate from Theosophy, as the first Object is a thing separate from the remaining two activities; finally, that neither "occultism" nor "theosophy" affords the Fellows opportunity "to combat evil actively." Neither "occultism" nor "theosophy" are "practical," as they do not afford the opportunity desired by thousands of the Fellows, hence breed only internal "quarrels and scandals." Then Mr. Harte, his ground ready, asks,
"Can any means be devised whereby the Fellows of the Society can apply their knowledge and their energies to the practical affairs of life? Practical Theosophy is an affair of the future. Applied Theosophy is a more modest ambition, and is, or ought to be, a possibility."
"Occultism" having been a failure for lack of pupils, "practical Theosophy" being only a thing of the future, and Theosophy itself, if "sustained or promulgated" by the Society being "a transgression of its basic principles," as the "Society has professedly, as a body, no opinions on any subject" -- all these things being thus, in the conjuration of Mr. Harte, what steps shall be taken to make "applied Theosophy" a "possibility?" Mr. Harte has his answer ready:
"If the Fellows of the Theosophical Society are to apply their Theosophy to the affairs of life, it must be through the Society, and as individual units of the whole, -- not as isolated individuals. ... It is this mystic individuality, 'the sum total,' that gives strength to all societies and congregations of men, and becomes the real dominating power, to which all contribute some of their force, and which stands behind every unit and lends its whole strength to it. Without it a Fellow of the Theosophical Society would be as powerless as any other isolated man or woman in the community. With it behind him an F.T.S. is a power in proportion to the unity and singleness of purpose of the Society to which he belongs."
It is from the Society that radiates the "dominating power;" from the Society that the members are to draw their sustenance and support, not from any Teacher or Teaching, not from any "self-induced and self-devised exertions" of the individual aspirants. The model to follow, the example to emulate, is pictured by Mr. Harte:
"Who speaks when a priest of the Roman Catholic Church utters a command? The united power of the Church of Rome. Who speaks when a disfrocked priest says something? A non-entity. Who speaks when the Judge, the General, the Statesman open their mouths? 'The State,' -- the tremendous and often tyrannical personality that comes into life and action when the units that compose it (are) bound together, through organization, by a common will and a common purpose."
This idea that it is only "through organization," through making the Society the prime object of devotion, its "authority" through the voice of its officials supreme over the individual conscience and action, that "applied Theosophy" can be made a success is argued at length, leading up to the culmination of making the Adyar Headquarters a second Rome, and, by necessary inference, of the "President-Founder" a Theosophical Pope:
"The Theosophical Society is an ideal power for good diffused over the whole world, but it requires material conditions, and the most important of these is a material centre, from which and to which the efferent and afferent forces shall circulate. This is a condition of the life of all organizations, and of all organisms, and the Theosophical Society is both; it is an organization on the material plane, an organism on the spiritual. A common centre, therefore, is as necessary for spiritual as for physical reasons. 'Adyar' is not a place only, it is a principle. It is a name that ought to carry with it a power far greater than that conveyed by the name 'Rome.' ADYAR is the centre of the Theosophical Movement, -- not '7 Duke Street, Adelphi' [the publication office of "Lucifer"], or 'Post Office Box 2659, New York' [the address of the "Path"].
"ADYAR is a principle and a symbol, as well as a locality. ADYAR is the name which means on the material plane the Headquarters of an international, or, more properly speaking, world-wide Society. ... It means on the supra-physical plane a centre of life and energy, the point to and from which the currents run between the ideal and the material. Every loyal Fellow has in his heart a little ADYAR, for he has in him a spark of the spiritual fire which the name typifies. ADYAR is the symbol of our unity as a Society, and so long as it exists in the hearts of its Fellows, the powers of the enemy can never prevail against the Theosophical Society....
"What then, to recapitulate, must be our answer to the questions with which we started:-- Is such a thing as 'Applied Theosophy' possible? If so, of what does it consist?...
"We have seen that all that is necessary to make such a united power manifest is that its existence should be acknowledged and felt by the Fellows themselves; and that to acknowledge and feel it, and thus bring it from the latent to the active condition, the Fellows must perceive that the Theosophical Society is a living entity, 'ideal' if one chooses to call it so, but an entity one and indivisible alike upon the material and on the super-physical plane. We have also seen that the visible centre of the Society, 'ADYAR,' is symbolical of the principle of unity, as well as of the material life of the Society, and that in every sense loyalty to ADYAR means loyalty to the objects of the Society and to the principles of Theosophy...."
The same -- June -- number of the "Theosophist" contained a related article by Mr. Harte, signed "F.T.S.," and bearing the title, "The Situation." The suggestions and misstatements of facts and principles are still more insidious and not less obviously calculated to discredit the work and influence of H.P.B., while placing Col. Olcott and his place in the Society in the position of supreme importance, so that the various Sections and Branches, the status of the individual members, and the work of the Movement as a whole, are made to flow from and depend upon the organization, rules and procedure of "Adyar," its "Parliament," its "Council" and its "President-Founder." Some extracts follow:
"We have not yet got our proper bearings after the radical change in the Society made by an Order of the President last autumn, and adopted into the Constitution and Rules of the Theosophical Society by the General Council in the Annual Convention of 1888. This change was the formation of an Esoteric Division of the Society; and this separation of the esoteric element from the exoteric, is not only a disentangling of two things that have different methods and aims, and the mixing up of which in the life and work of the Society has given rise to considerable confusion, but it is, moreover, a weaning of the Society from sources that have previously nourished it .... It is pretty generally felt that if the Theosophical Society is to be a moral and spiritual power in the world, it must be in touch with the world and live in the world; using such methods in its dealings with that world as the latter can appreciate and understand, or which, at all events, will not excite its prejudices, and put it into a fury of opposition at the very first go off."
There is here put forward the misstatement that the formation of the Esoteric Section was due to and dependent upon "an Order of the President;" that the real object of its formation was to separate the "esoteric element from the exoteric;" that the "mixing up" of the esoteric with the exoteric aspects of the Movement had given rise to "considerable confusion," and that it was necessary to "wean" the Society "from the sources that have hitherto nourished it." The view is presented that if the Society is to influence the world it must have a worldly incentive to offer, a worldly basis and authority in order to "be a moral and spiritual power in the world;" that because its actual objects, its actual basis, its actual methods have hitherto been unworldly, therefore it has excited the prejudices of the world, therefore it has put the world "into a fury of opposition." What is needed, in this view, is not the basis and methods of H.P.B., which have been the disturbing factor, but the basis and methods of Olcott, Sinnett, et al, who have been using and will continue to use such methods in dealing with the world "as the latter can appreciate and understand." This suggestion implanted, the logical corollary is that H.P.B.'s methods have been a blunder which must be corrected. What her methods have been and how sadly she has misrepresented the Masters, are next implied:
"If there is any reliance to be placed upon what has come to us as the wishes and instructions of those mysterious Personages behind the scenes, by whose orders the Society was founded, then the weaning of the Society from any further professed and ostensible connection with phenomena and invisible wire-pullers (using the term with the greatest respect) has been determined and decreed some time ago. If we are to have faith in anything we have been told as coming from the Masters, we are constrained to believe that it is their wish that the Theosophical Society shall now stand before all men for what it is worth in itself, and that Theosophy shall from henceforth be put before the world as a system of philosophical and ethical truth which stands on its own merits, without any adventitious aids, props or abutments. This implies at the outset that from henceforth Occultism and Theosophy, which are in reality two very different things, shall be separated in the minds of the Fellows, and in the life of the Society."
This is but to argue in the subtlest of terms that the course of H.P.B. has been devoted to "phenomena and invisible wire-pulling," not to "philosophy and ethics;" that the Society has a "worth" apart from Theosophy; that "Occultism" and "Theosophy" are "in reality two very different," not two related things; and that it is Olcott and not H.P.B. to whom the Society owes both its life and its "merits." And the Master's letter to Olcott is quoted from to show that H.P.B. should "mind her own business!" Mr. Harte comments:
"That letter refers to the settlement of a dispute among the Fellows in France, but the principle so definitely stated with regard to the division of functions ... and the formation of an Esoteric Division of the Theosophical Society under the exclusive management and control of Madame Blavatsky was the result of its wider application, -- it being understood that the President was in no way to interfere with that division, Madame Blavatsky, in return, abstaining in future from any direct interference with the worldly or exoteric management of the Society. ... It may be further stated here, for the benefit of those whom it may concern, that the formation of the Esoteric Section, was in accordance with instructions received from the Masters.
"On both sides of this new departure was felt to be a relief. Occultism is above all 'rule' or 'by-law' emanating from the will of the governed, which is the only possible basis of a popular government such as that of the Theosophical Society. The result of trying to make two such different things work harmoniously was like that which might be expected from harnessing together a 'sacred bull' and a draft horse -- the waggon was continually running into the fence, and always in danger of being upset; a danger in no way diminished by the fact that two coachmen sat on the box seat, each of whom held one of the reins, and pulled it vigorously every now and then without much reference to the ideas of the other, or to 'things as a whole.' Now, happily, there has been a division of labour, each driver has got his own animal to himself."
Having thus driven home the idea that H.P.B. and Olcott were originally on a plane of entire equality both with regard to the Masters and to the T.S.; that the "interference" of H.P.B. was as displeasing to Masters as it was to Olcott, so that Masters gave Olcott "instructions" to "order" the formation of an Esoteric Section to limit the capacity for harmfulness of H.P.B.; that the "bargain" was that H.P.B. should be let alone in the esoteric "Division" and Olcott no longer interfered with in the Society as a whole -- having thus arrived at his explanation of facts and factors, Mr. Harte then pays attention to the "Esoteric Division", its members and H.P.B. in these terms:
"The head of the Esoteric Division is at liberty to impose pledges, institute degrees, and ordain exercises, and without let or hindrance to issue instructions and orders to those who place themselves under her guidance;....
"With the affairs of the Esoteric Division this article has nothing to do. That division seems to be a kind of Annex to the Theosophical Society proper, having two doors of exit -- one leading up to higher levels, the other leading down and out. Not only do advanced students seek entrance to it, but it appears to have especial attractions for many who are spiritually somewhat crippled. The halt, the maimed and the blind, blissfully unaware of their infirmities, and oblivious of their utter want of preparation, knock incontinently at the door, and the Head of the Division cannot always refuse them a chance. At the first little 'trial' these weak brothers lose their heads and their holds, fall flat on their noses, and go off howling."
Having satisfactorily placed the E.S. and its head in the position of a harmless "Annex" to the Society and properly labeled its members and their probable destiny, Mr. Harte now proceeds to the serious and important matter to be presented for the consumption of the members:
"The President and General Council are free to legislate for the Theosophical Society to the best of their knowledge and ability, in conformity with the wishes of the majority of the Fellows....
"It is a matter of fact ... that the Rules of the Theosophical Society have been all along so weak, confused and contradictory, that no other society of persons who wished to receive credit for common sense would probably have put up with them for a day. So long as the esoteric and exoteric elements were mixed up in the Society this state of affairs did not matter. It was inevitable;...
"The consequences of the former state of affairs is telling on the Society now. ... No one suspected the want of loyalty to the Society on the part of a portion of the Branches and Sections, until the attempt was made by the late Convention to put a little seriousness and energy into the Society. It looks as if certain of the Sections and branches have got somewhat too high an opinion of their own importance."
The only Sections which existed prior to the Convention were the American, the British, and the Esoteric, whose branches, groups and members were primarily interested in Theosophy, not the Society, and who therefore looked to Theosophy and to the example and guidance of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, not to Col. Olcott and the "Rules and Bye-laws" of the Indian Convention's facile adoption at Col. Olcott's behests. Plain notice is therefore served on these recalcitrants -- as they seemed to the President and his associates -- that they have no authority, rights or existence, save by virtue of Col. Olcott's "orders" and that the Power that created them can as easily dissolve them; and it is intimated that that Power will be exercised if former conduct is not superseded by better behavior:
"They [the Sections and Branches] exist only by virtue of Charters issued by the President of the Theosophical Society. It is the fact of the possession of these Charters that makes them different from other little collections of students of Theosophy in the countries where they exist, and gives them what credit they enjoy. ... Suppose it became necessary to withdraw the Charters of certain Sections, does any one believe for a moment that the Theosophical Society would eventually suffer? At present a large and increasing proportion of the Fellows are 'Fellows at large.' -- that is, unattached to any branch; Fellows in Branches would perceive that their status remained unchanged; and thousands who now sympathize with the objects and work of the Society, but are deterred from joining it by the idea that they are expected to join a branch, would prick up their ears and become interested. These do not care to join the Society now for a variety of reasons:-- because they look upon branches as mutual admiration clubs; because they regard them as the private friends and followers of some one man; because they don't want to be bothered in attending their meetings and listening to things they either know already or do not understand; because they are disgusted with the jealousies and rivalries of Fellows who are prominent in branches; because they do not approve of the branch system at all, which brings the Fellows who belong to branches into unnecessary publicity. If every existing Charter of Section and branch of the Theosophical Society were withdrawn tomorrow, the Society would, in all probability, be a stronger body in a short time than it is now, and certainly it would not be a weaker one. Every active Fellow would become a natural recruiting agent, not for a little local branch as at present, but for the Theosophical Society."
All this leads up to the summation which is laid before the members, as the cure for the "Situation:"
"The Theosophical Society would then exist as a homogeneous whole, composed of loyal Fellows animated by a common spirit, and Adyar would be what it ought to be -- the centre of a system for the circulation of Theosophical ideas and literature, and for the organization of Theosophical activities all over the globe. And the Fellows would soon spontaneously form into groups with connections with each other and with Adyar, which would enable them to carry out the work."
"These," concludes Mr. Harte, "are very obvious considerations. Still, there are people who do not always remember them, and to whom the above remarks may not be without utility."
These articles in the June, 1889, "Theosophist" were immediately followed in the Supplement to the July issue by an article entitled "A Disclaimer," the insinuations in which were still more direct and pronounced. It is, in full, as follows:
"The Editor of the Theosophist has much pleasure in publishing the following extracts from a letter from Mr. Bertram Keightley, Secretary of the 'Esoteric Section' of the Theosophical Society, to one of the Commissioners, which have been handed to him for publication. [Mr. Keightley's letter was in fact a private one to Mr. Harte himself, in reply to a letter from Mr. Harte.] It should be explained that the denial therein contained refers to certain surmises and reports afloat in the Society, and which were seemingly corroborated by apparently arbitrary and underhand proceedings by certain Fellows known to be members of the Esoteric Section.
"Mr. Keightley tells this Commissioner that he must not believe 'that the Esoteric Section has any, even the slightest, pretension to "boss" the Theosophical Society or anything of the kind.' Again he says: 'We are all, H.P.B. first and foremost, just as loyal to the Theosophical Society as the Colonel can possibly be.' And yet again he says: 'I have nothing more to say, except to repeat in the most formal and positive manner my assurance that there is not a word of truth in the statement that the Esoteric Section has any desire or pretension to "boss" any other part or Section of the T.S.'
"It is to be hoped that after this very distinct and authoritative disclaimer no further 'private circulars' will be issued by any members of the Esoteric Section, calling upon the Fellows to oppose the action of the General Council, because 'Madame Blavatsky does not approve of it;' and also that silly editorials, declaring that Theosophy is degenerating into obedience to the dictates of Madame Blavatsky, like that in a recent issue of the Religio-Philosophical Journal, will cease to appear."
The "private circulars" referred to are the First Preliminary Memorandum to applicants to the E.S., issued by H.P.B., and the Report of Mr. Judge as General Secretary to the American Convention, from both of which documents we have already given the germane extracts. The "silly editorial" was an article by Col. Bundy in his paper, the R.-P.-Journal, in support of the Coues-Collins attack.
To appreciate fully the force and bearing of the various citations given, the student should remember that "The Theosophist" was the official organ of the Society, the "Path" and "Lucifer" being Theosophical, not organizational, publications; further, that "The Theosophist" was the only one of the three with any circulation in India, and was, in addition, sent officially to every Branch throughout the world and had a wide circulation among the Fellows in England, France and the United States. For a large portion of the membership it was the only means of information concerning the Society, and, in India, the only channel both for Theosophy and the Society. Indian members, therefore, were entirely dependent on it for the accuracy, completeness and authenticity of its statements.
Immediately following the Convention Col. Olcott had departed on a tour in Japan from which he did not return until the latter half of the year. During his absence Mr. Harte was in entire charge of "The Theosophist," and was one of the three "Commissioners" to whom he had delegated his powers as President; the other two being Hindu members of his "General Council." It cannot be doubted, both that Mr. Harte was following out a pre-arranged program in the matter quoted from, and that he was in constant communication with Col. Olcott during the latter's absence on his Japanese Buddhist mission. That his course was fully approved by Colonel Olcott is shown by the immediate sequel, as follows:
So soon as the proofs of the two articles quoted from reached America Mr. Judge prepared a long communication taking issue with the facts, the implications, the spirit and the tendencies thus expressed with every appearance of authority and Presidential sanction in the official organ of the Society. This -- and the fact should be noted as an example of the method used by both Mr. Judge and H.P.B. in dealing with Olcott's periodical outbreaks of "pledge fever" -- was sent privately by Mr. Judge direct to Col. Olcott with request for its insertion in "The Theosophist," on the assumed ground that the articles complained of were written without Col. Olcott's knowledge and that he, no less than Mr. Judge, would hasten to correct the misstatements and false suggestions conveyed by the articles in question.
In the September, 1889, "Theosophist," Col. Olcott published as the leading editorial and over his own signature an article entitled "Centres of The Theosophical Movement." He refused to print Mr. Judge's article in full, declaring that it--
"Contains passages of a far too personal character for me to admit them. ... I have taken no part, nor shall I, in the various unseemly quarrels, public and private, which the friction of 'strong personalities' among us has and probably always will engender. They are mostly unimportant, involving no great principle or vital issue, and therefore beneath the interest of those who have the high purposes and aims of the Society at heart."
Having thus discredited Mr. Judge and his article as being merely due to the "friction of personalities" with no "great principle or vital issue" concerned, and having exalted himself by contrast to the position of those who have only "the high purposes and aims of the Society at heart," Col. Olcott proceeds to charge Mr. Judge with "misconceiving the perfectly plain meaning" of the author of the two articles -- without giving what Mr. Judge says. He then defends Mr. Harte as follows:
"I know the writer in question to be a man as loyal to the core as Mr. Judge or myself to the Theosophical cause, its projectors and their agents. He is as far from holding to such a pitiful notion as his critics would fasten upon him, as Mr. Judge is from that of training for the Papacy."
He disclaims having before read Mr. Harte's article, and evades the real issues raised by Mr. Judge by affirming that the articles did not mean what Mr. Judge construed them to convey -- again without quoting Mr. Judge's own words. He calls Mr. Judge's criticisms "mayavic delusion." He then quotes another question raised by Mr. Judge that the "Centre" is wherever H.P.B. may be; that it was originally in New York, then in Bombay, then "a short time at Adyar" (while she was there) -- "for where she is burns the flame that draws its force from 'the plane of ideas.'" Mr. Judge continues:
"The mere location of the President in Adyar, and the existence of a library there, do not make that spot our 'Rome' ... What would become of this new Rome -- Adyar -- if an order were received for Col. Olcott and H. P. Blavatsky to betake themselves to America once more and there set up the Theosophical Society Head-quarters? Such a thing might happen. It happened before, and the channel for the order was H. P. Blavatsky. Does any one suppose that either Col. Olcott or H. P. Blavatsky would be obstructed in their actions by the 'Revised Rules?'"
This query rouses Col. Olcott over what he calls his "irascible colleague's questions and conundrums." He proceeds to argue at length from the record of the various minutes and changes of by-laws and rules that the President-Founder is the real fountain of authority in the Society and the real "Rome" is wherever the President-Founder may be domiciled. He does not claim "spiritual authority," he says, but he does claim he has been "granted absolute and unlimited discretion as to the practical management of our affairs." He has never interfered with H.P.B., "who taught and introduced me to my Initiators, but it was I who gave officially to her last year a charter to form her Esoteric Section. Between her and myself there was never any dispute upon these points, she sustaining my exoteric authority as loyally as I have ever recognized her superior connection with the 'Founders.'...
"Col. Olcott did not move the Head-quarters to India by any one's orders: his "orders" came from the depths of his own heart. ... If in the course of the Society's development the transfer of Head-quarters should ever be advisable -- which neither I nor Mr. Judge can now recast -- doubtless I shall receive direct notice with ample time to make all the necessary arrangements in a businesslike and constitutional manner.
".... But when it is a question of papal infallibilities and Romes, it is just as well to say it was I who proposed the formation of the Society, who had all the early burden of guiding its infant steps, and who, after the collapse of the original legislative scheme of Rules and Bye-Laws, had -- as above remarked -- all the executive responsibility."
Where Mr. Judge had written that wherever H.P.B. is, "there burns the flame," Col. Olcott comments: "If Mr. Judge had said 'cyclone,' he would still have been within the mark." He argues various other matters raised by Mr. Judge or himself and sums up:
"What the heart is to the body the Head-quarters is to the Society, the working centre of its vital action. Its existence is what makes Theosophy a 'going concern.' ... While the French and Germans mutually resent interference by each other in their official concerns and both would rebel against interference with them by the British or American Sections and vice versa, all unhesitatingly submit their unsettled disputes to the Executive for decision. And again, when there was trouble between personal factions in English Branches and between the American Theosophical leaders, it was to me and to no one else that the disputants looked for equitable composition of their troubles. These are facts beyond dispute, facts going to prove the indispensability of a general centre which shall be the official residence of the central arbitrator and judge, officially placed above the plane of partisanship and of local interests and influences."
These numerous and lengthy extracts will, we believe, serve fairly and fully to place before the reader the views entertained by Col. Olcott and actuating his conduct, his estimate of his own importance and his attitude towards his Colleagues and their status in the Society and in the Movement. Mr. Judge's views may be readily inferred from what has been given. It remains to compare and contrast all with the definite statement of H.P.B. in the "Preliminary Memorandum" already quoted from, and with her equally definite public expression of her own views and attitude as drawn forth and compelled by the several articles mentioned. In "Lucifer" for August, 1889, under the caption, "A Puzzle From Adyar," H.P.B., like Mr. Judge, assumes that the "Theosophist" articles have been written without the concurrence of Col. Olcott and with intention to aid and abet the enemy. "Now what," she asks,--
"May be the meaning of this extraordinary and most tactless 'sortie' of the esteemed acting editor of our Theosophist? Is he ... like our (and his) editor-enemies across the Atlantic, also dreaming uncanny dreams and seeing lying visions -- or what? And let me remind him at once that he must not feel offended by these remarks, as he has imperatively called them forth himself. LUCIFER, the PATH and the THEOSOPHIST are the only organs of communication with the Fellows of our Society, each in its respective country. Since the acting editor of the Theosophist has chosen to give a wide publicity in his organ to abnormal fancies, he has no right to expect a reply through any other channel than LUCIFER. Moreover, if he fails to understand all the seriousness of his implied charges against me and several honorable men, he may realise them better, when he reads the present.
".... what does he try to insinuate by the following ..."
She then reprints the "Disclaimer" from the Supplement to the July "Theosophist," and analyzes the several insinuations in regard to members of the E.S., who, she says, "stand accused by Mr. Harte ... of 'arbitrary and underhand proceedings.'" She asks, "Is not such a sentence a gross insult thrown into the face of honorable men -- far better Theosophists than any of their accusers -- and of myself?" Of the plain intimation that the American or British Sections or the "Blavatsky Lodge" or the E.S. wanted to "boss Adyar," she says: "That the E.S. had never any pretensions to 'boss' the T.S., stands to reason: with the exception of Col. Olcott, the President, the Esoteric Section has nothing whatever to do with the Theosophical Society, its Council or officers. It is a Section entirely apart from the exoteric body and independent of it, H.P.B. alone being responsible for its members, as shown in the official announcement over the signature of the President Founder himself. It follows, therefore, that the E.S., as a body, owes no allegiance whatever to the Theosophical Society, as a Society, least of all to Adyar." Next she takes up another statement in the "Disclaimer."
"It is pure nonsense to say that 'H.P.B. ... is loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar' (?). H.P.B. is loyal to death to the Theosophical CAUSE, and those great Teachers whose philosophy alone can bind the whole of Humanity into one Brotherhood. Together with Col. Olcott, she is the chief Founder and Builder of the Society which was and is meant to represent that CAUSE; and if she is so loyal to H. S. Olcott, it is not at all because of his being its 'President,' but, firstly, because there is no man living who has worked harder for that Society, or been more devoted to it than the Colonel, and, secondly, because she regards him as a loyal friend and co-worker. Therefore the degree of her sympathies with the 'Theosophical Society and Adyar' depends upon the degree of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B. calling the T.S. disloyal, will shake it off like dust from her feet.
"And what does 'loyalty to Adyar' mean, in the name of all wonders? What is Adyar apart from that CAUSE and the two (not one Founder, if you please) who represent it? Adyar is the present Headquarters of the Society, because these 'Headquarters are wherever the President is,' as stated in the rules. To be logical, the Fellows of the T.S. had to be loyal to Japan while Col. Olcott was there, and to London during his presence here."
She then makes the memorable declaration of the actual existing status of affairs:
"There is no longer a 'Parent Society;' it is abolished and replaced by an aggregate body of Theosophical Societies, all autonomous, as are the States of America, and all under one Head President, who, together with H. P. Blavatsky, will champion the CAUSE against the whole world. Such is the real state of things."
The theory of government of the Society held, practiced and preached by Col. Olcott and his pliant supporters is next considered by her declaration made in that regard also:
"Whenever 'Madame Blavatsky does not approve' of 'an action of the General Council' (or 'Commissioners,' of whom Mr. R. Harte is one), she will say so openly and to their faces. Because (a) Madame Blavatsky does not owe the slightest allegiance to a Council which is liable at any moment to issue silly and untheosophical ukases; and (b) for the simple reason that she recognizes but one person in the T.S. besides herself, namely Colonel Olcott, as having the right of effecting fundamental re-organizations in a Society which owes its life to them, and for which they are both karmically responsible. If the acting editor makes slight account of a sacred pledge, neither Col. Olcott nor H. P. Blavatsky are likely to do so. H. P. Blavatsky will always bow before the decision of the majority of a Section or even a simple Branch; but she will ever protest against the decision of the General Council, were it composed of Archangels and Dhyan Chohans themselves, if their decision seems to her unjust, or untheosophical, or fails to meet with the approval of the majority of the Fellows. No more than H. P. Blavatsky has the President Founder the right of exercising autocracy or papal powers, and Col. Olcott would be the last man in the world to attempt to do so. It is the two Founders and especially the President, who have virtually sworn allegiance to the Fellows, whom they have to protect, and teach those who want to be taught, and not to tyrannize and rule over them."
Here, as always where the weaknesses, the foibles and the derelictions of her associates and students are involved, H.P.B. writes only under the gravest compulsion, with the extreme of reluctance, and in such terms as to hold wide the door of return to right action with the least possible humiliation to the pride and vanity of human nature. She sums up and conveys at the same time her appeal to the best in her colleagues in these terms:
"And now I have said over my own signature what I had to say and that which ought to have been said in so many plain words long ago. The public is all agog with the silliest stories about our doings, and the supposed and real dissensions in the Society. Let every one know the truth at last, in which there is nothing to make any one ashamed and which alone can put an end to a most painful and strained feeling. This truth is as simple as can be.
"The acting editor of the Theosophist has taken it into his head that the Esoteric Section together with the British and American Sections, were either conspiring or preparing to conspire against what he most curiously calls 'Adyar' and its authority. Now being a most devoted Fellow of the T.S. and attached to the President, his zeal in hunting up this mare's nest has led him to become more Catholic than the Pope. That is all, and I hope that such misunderstandings and hallucinations will come to an end with the return of the President to India. Had he been at home, he, at any rate, would have objected to all those dark hints and cloaked sayings that have of late incessantly appeared in the Theosophist to the great delight of our enemies....
"But it is time for me to close. If Mr. Harte persists still in acting in such a strange and untheosophical way, then the sooner the President settles these matters the better for all concerned.
"Owing to such undignified quibbles, Adyar and especially the Theosophist are fast becoming the laughing stock of Theosophists themselves as well as of their enemies."
And, lest her unfailing clemency should again be misconstrued and abused to their own injury and that of the Cause to which they, no less than herself, are pledged, she concludes with this note of mingled appeal and warning to those at fault:
"I end by assuring him (Mr. Harte) that there is no need for him to pose as Colonel Olcott's protecting angel. Neither he nor I need a third party to screen us from each other. We have worked and toiled and suffered together for fifteen long years, and if after all these years of mutual friendship the President Founder were capable of lending ear to insane accusations and turning against me, well -- the world is wide enough for us both. Let the new Exoteric Theosophical Society headed by Mr. Harte, play at red tape if the President lets them and let the General Council expel me for 'disloyalty,' if, again, Colonel Olcott should be so blind as to fail to see where the 'true friend' and his duty lie. Only unless they hasten to do so, at the first sign of their disloyalty to the CAUSE -- it is I who will have resigned my office of Corresponding Secretary for life and left the Society. This will not prevent me from remaining at the head of those who will follow me."
H. P. BLAVATSKY.
[Note: Many extracts from this particular article by HPB were interwoven by the Editors, near and up to the end of this chapter. Here is the whole article: "A Puzzle From Adyar". --Compiler.]
(To be Continued)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 18 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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