THEOSOPHY, Vol. 9, No. 11, September, 1921
(Pages 334-348; Size: 47K)
(Number 21 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
COLONEL Olcott arrived in England at the end of June, Mr. Judge remaining in London to meet him and to participate in the Convention of the European Section called for July 9, 1891. Colonel Olcott was made acquainted in a general way with what action had been taken in connection with the affairs of the Esoteric Section. The common feeling of loss, the general sense of uncertainty as to the future, the pressing necessity for concord, the hopeful augury provided by the circular of May 27 to the E.S., and the awakened sense of individual responsibility for the success of the Movement, now that its great Messenger was no more among them, all combined to allay frictions, dispel rivalries and arouse the spirit of real fraternity. There being then present in London the best known and most respected leaders of the Society from Asia, America and England, the Convention of the European Section, in the circumstances recited, became the first real convocation and assembly of the whole Society since its foundation.
Colonel Olcott, as President-Founder of the whole Society, presided at the sessions, Mr. Judge attended as Vice-President of the Society, as General Secretary of the American Section, and as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American Section. Mrs. Besant was present as President of the Blavatsky Lodge of London, at the time the largest of the Societies in Great Britain. The various British and Continental Lodges were represented by Delegates or proxies. In addition there were numerous visiting Fellows from the United States, from India, and from Australia, all of whom bore the cordial, if unofficial, greetings from the scattered members and branches.
The London Lodge was not represented in person by its President, Mr. Sinnett, nor by any Delegate. From the beginning of his leadership of the London Lodge Mr. Sinnett's influence had held it aloof from the general activities of the Society at large, though nominally a Branch of the Society. When the Blavatsky Lodge was formed at London shortly after H.P.B. had taken up her permanent residence in England, its original membership was entirely composed of former members of the London Lodge. Mr. Sinnett had been equally opposed, both to its formation and to the policy of active public propagandum for membership regardless of class distinctions. The formation of the Blavatsky Lodge, the publication of the "Secret Doctrine," with its corrections of his presentation of the teachings of Theosophy in his book "Esoteric Buddhism," and other matters which he could not approve, had all served to alienate his sympathies. His London Lodge discontinued all but closed meetings for its members only and formed a quasi-exclusive body. The active efforts of Colonel Olcott, with whom he had always remained on terms of friendship, the olive branch tendered by Mrs. Besant and others, and the consideration shown him by Mr. Judge, so far prevailed as to ameliorate the somewhat strained situation, and the London Lodge sent a Letter to the Convention.
This letter, signed by the Secretary of the London Lodge, is distinctly formal, not to say reserved, in its tone. It recites the history of the London Lodge, gives a chronological account of its activities, and concludes with the following paragraph:"On the formation of the 'British Section' in 1889, the London Lodge asserted the principle of complete autonomy as that on which it preferred to proceed; and with the concurrence of the President of the Parent Society, Colonel Olcott, it remained an independent Branch of the Society outside that organization. Later on, when Madame Blavatsky formed the European Section under her own Presidentship, on principles which provided merely for a consultative council to assist her in discharging the functions of that office, the London Lodge cordially consented to be included in that arrangement. Clinging with great tenacity, however, to the principle of autonomy, it will now revert to its former status, and while heartily in sympathy with all bodies recognized as parts of the world-wide Theosophical Society, which Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott founded, it will not take any share in the administration or control of any other branches, and will continue responsible alone to the original authority from which it sprang in reference to the conduct of its own affairs."This letter was read to the Convention by Mr. G. R. S. Mead, General Secretary of the European Section, and was received without comment or objection. The full text of the letter of the London Lodge will be found in the Official Report of the Convention. The Convention itself is denominated on the cover and text page, not as a convention of the European Section, T.S., but as "The Theosophical Society in Europe," the name adopted by H.P.B.
The proceedings of the Convention were opened by Mrs. Besant with a brief address of welcome to Col. Olcott:
"It is at once my duty and privilege, as President of the Blavatsky Lodge, the largest in the British dominions, to voice the welcome of the Delegates and members of this convention to the President-Founder. .... And in bidding you, as President, welcome to this Convention, we can assure you of our steadfast loyalty to the cause, and to you as representing the mission from the Masters themselves. We are met here to-day to carry out the work of H.P.B., and the only way to carry on her work, and to strengthen the Society, will be by loyalty and faithfulness to the cause for which she died, the only cause worth living for and dying for in this world."
Mr. Judge warmly seconded Mrs. Besant's remarks, and in taking the chair Col. Olcott spoke with great feeling. He said, in part:"Now, for the first time, I feel willing and ready to die. 'If H.P.B. and I should die,' it has been said by the Hindus everywhere, 'the thing would collapse.' Now, her death has shewn that it will not collapse, ... I feel now that this movement has acquired an individuality of its own, and that nothing in the world can drag it down. ... now I feel satisfied that though most of us who are engaged in this work as leaders should die, the movement itself is an entity, has its own vitality, and will keep on. How it shall keep on is a question for us to consider. We have heretofore had in easy reach a teacher who, like an inexhaustible well of fresh water, could be drawn upon at any time that we were thirsting for information. This has been an advantage in one way, but a great detriment in another. The very inaccessibility of the Masters is an advantage to all those who wish to acquire knowledge, because in the effort to come near them, to get any communion with them, one insensibly prepares in himself the conditions of spiritual growth, and it is when we are thrown upon our own resources that we are enabled to bring out the powers that are latent in our composition. I consider that H.P.B. has died at the right moment. She has left work unfinished, it is true, but she has also done work which is quite sufficient, if we make use of it properly, to supply us for many years to come with the help that we need in Theosophical progress. She has not gone away and left us absolutely without any unpublished remains; on the contrary, she has left a large body of them, and they are in the custody of her chosen depository, Mrs. Besant, who, in the proper way and at the proper moment, will give them out to the world. But I maintain that even though not another book had been written save Isis Unveiled, that would have been enough for the earnest student. I may say that my theosophical education has been obtained almost entirely from that book, for my life has been so busy of late years that I have had no time for reading. I cannot read anything serious when I am traveling, and at home my mind is so overwhelmed with the anxieties of my official position that I have no time and no inclination to sit down and meditate and read, so that of what I know about Theosophy and Theosophical matters a large part has been obtained through Isis Unveiled, in the composition of which I was engaged with her for about two years. ... We have had H.P.B. with us now as an active worker for the last sixteen years, during which time she has given out in various channels, in the Theosophist, Lucifer, and in her books and her conversation a great volume of esoteric teaching, and hundreds of hints, which, if taken and understood and followed up, will enable any one of us to make decided progress in a theosophical direction....Countess Wachtmeister presented to the Convention a Resolution which was adopted by acclamation. It read:
"And now, not to detain you any longer, I welcome you with a full heart and an outstretched hand to this family meeting of the Theosophical Society. I wish you to feel that this is a section of the General Council of the Society, that you represent the dignity and the majesty of the Society, and that your interest is as deep in the things that are transpiring in the American Section, and in the Indian Section, and in Ceylon and other Sections, as it is in what is merely transpiring within the geographical boundaries which are represented in your respective branches. I hope the spirit of amity may dwell in this meeting, that we may feel as though we were in the presence of the Great Ones whose thoughts can take in what is transpiring at any distance as easily as what is transpiring near by, and that we are also imbued, surrounded, by the influence of my dear colleague and your revered teacher, who has left us for awhile to return under another form, and under more favourable conditions.""Resolved: That this Convention of the Theosophical Society in Europe, before proceeding to the business for the discharge of which it was summoned, places of record its gratitude to H. P. Blavatsky for the devoted and unbroken service rendered throughout her life to the cause of Theosophy; it thanks her for the Light she brought from the East to the West, in the spreading of which she showed a courage that never flinched and a loyalty that never wavered, and it resolves, as the best evidence of the honour in which it holds her memory, to call on all Theosophists to carry on her work, and to labour with redoubled energy for the spreading of the knowledge of Theosophy and the extension and strengthening of the Theosophical Society."Mr. Judge offered Resolutions for the creation of an "H.P.B. Memorial Fund," to be devoted to such publications "as will tend to promote that intimate union between the life and thought of the Orient and the Occident to the bringing about of which her life was devoted." In seconding these resolutions Mrs. Besant said:".... will the Convention permit me to add that it certainly has the approval of all those who were closely connected with her during the latter years of her life; that her leaving us is in no manner a change in her position in this Society, nor a change in the lines along which her work will be directed. ... May I say for those who lived most closely with her that what she was with us in her visible presence she is to us still: friend and guide, teacher and master. We know no change because she has passed from the visible into the invisible, and in asking you to found this memorial we ask you to found it, not to a dead teacher, but to a living energy, an energy as real now as it was real when clothed in the body of H. P. Blavatsky; a memorial indeed of our love to her, but of a love of a living presence whom we recognise amongst us still."A letter of greeting, signed by Mr. Judge as General Secretary, was read from the American Section:"It is with great pleasure that I convey to you the brotherly and affectionate greetings of the American Section of our beloved Society, knowing that had I the time to call that Section together it would, without a dissenting voice, thank you for the work you have done, and encourage you to go on to still better work for the future. It would also, I am sure, give you full assurance of the value of organizing yourselves into a single body, for experience has shown us that only thus can good and wide work be done, and in no other way can you carry to a successful issue the task left by our beloved friend and co-worker, H.P.B. Unity is strength; division leads to weakness, decay and final dissolution. Hence the American Section views with pleasure the prospect of all the European Branches being closely massed together with a common object, a single organization. May your deliberations lead not only to greater energy in your own field but also to an added interest, sympathy and strength throughout the whole area of International Theosophical work."When the Convention had concluded its work, the President-Founder made some parting remarks, from which we quote:"Our task is done. We have met together in this friendly Conference; we have discussed the method of laying the basis for the future work of the Society; we have come to a fraternal agreement to make all parts of the Society work together in harmony; we have linked hands across the Atlantic and across the Southern seas, and pledged ourselves to each other to carry on this mission which was undertaken by H.P.B., and which we have been sharers in. The outside world are looking with curiosity to see what effect the death of H.P.B. will have upon us. The answer is to be obtained in the proceedings of this Convention. ... In her death H.P.B. speaks more potently to us even than she did in her life. The tattered veil of the personality has been drawn aside, and the individuality which we knew only as a light shining from afar, is now before us to guide us on our way. ... All of you, save Mr. Judge, have come upon this movement when it was already past the initial stage. You are taking part in a successful endeavour to impress the mind of our generation. You have, by your devotion, your intelligence, your zeal, lent tremendous vitality to the cause. You have aided in rescuing us sometimes from desperate straits. At the time when we most needed sympathy and help, you came forward and gave it to us, and we may say the same thing with regard to America; it was almost a graveyard of Theosophy when Mr. Judge felt what you may call the 'divine afflatus' to devote himself to the work and to pick up the loose threads we had left scattered there and carry it on. The result shows what one man can do who is altogether devoted to his cause. Whatever strength we have to the outside world depends upon the purity of our principles, the unselfishness of our behaviour, and our loyalty to the eclectic platform of our constitution. ... No greater shock could possibly have come to us than the death of Mme. Blavatsky, and if the movement has survived it, then take my assurance that nothing whatever can affect us so long as we keep in view the principles upon which our movement is based and go fearlessly on to what lies to our hand to do. ... Let us determine that at all costs this Society shall be kept impartial, calm, fraternal, benevolent, tolerant, as regards all groups of the family of mankind. If we do this, if we place a guard upon any disposition on our part to be narrow, or prejudiced, or sectarian, we shall have earned the gratitude of our generation, and be remembered by posterity as those who sought to do good to their fellow men; but if, on the contrary, we allow ourselves to be influenced by these petty considerations of social position, or of race, or differences of creed, we will die out and be remembered only as an unworthy Association that lifted a banner which it was not fit to carry....""Lucifer" for June, July and August, 1891, contains a great number of articles on H.P.B. by leading members of the Society. These articles were reprinted in a volume entitled "H.P.B., In Memoriam by Some of Her Pupils." Like the proceedings of the Council of the Esoteric Section and those of the European Convention, these articles breathe the best and purest spirit, for they betoken the renaissance for the time of the gratitude, the loyalty, the reverence felt for H.P.B. Jealousies, ambitions, vanities, misunderstandings of all kinds, were for the moment dormant. It was as if, for the time being, her freed spirit enveloped them all, putting all lesser feelings aside and lending to each and all some measure of the inspiration which for so many years had burned in her with an unwavering flame. The student of today, bewildered and confused by the numberless contradictory expressions of opinion in regard to H.P.B. uttered by these very actors under the stress of later frictions and varying emotions, will do well to study with care the words and actions of the same participants while they were still under the noble influence of their memories of H.P.B. as "friend and guide, teacher and master" -- to repeat Mrs. Besant's words at the Convention.
The quoted matter will, we believe, make clear and convincing the fact that in the period immediately following the death of H.P.B., all elements in the Society felt deeply the impulse of that brotherhood which it was H.P.B.'s mission and the work of the Society to teach and practice. Certainly no one can read the Minutes of the E.S. Conference, the Report of the European Convention, and the memorial articles on H.P.B. without being struck by the unanimous recognition of the place and mission of H.P.B. and the solemn declarations and pledges made and implied to carry on the work of the Society and the Movement on the lines laid down by her, with the material left by her, and with her example ever before them as that of a still living and guiding Teacher.
After the Convention, then, the workers scattered, each to his own field of labor. Mrs. Besant took entire charge of the conduct of "Lucifer," with Mr. G. R. S. Mead associated with her as sub-editor. She herself plunged into incessant activities, writing, lecturing, encouraging and inspiring all those who surrounded her to an energy and devotion second only to her own. This as to the public work of the exoteric society. Within the ranks of the Esoteric Section she was not less earnest and untiring. As Co-Head of the Section with Mr. Judge, practically the entire interests of the School in Britain, on the Continent, and in the Orient, were in her care. Her reputation, gained before her entrance into the Theosophical world, made of her a constant subject of newspaper comment, and her presence at any meeting was enough to attract a large audience. Theosophical activities and growth doubled and tripled in England under her influence and example, and its secondary benefit throughout the world was felt by every worker in every land. Wherever her name was mentioned, Theosophy was equally the subject of discussion. Wherever Theosophy was spoken of, Annie Besant was naturally looked upon as its unequaled exponent and she was hailed by members and outsiders alike as the great and worthy successor of H.P.B.
Mr. Judge returned to America and resumed the active conduct of his magazine, the "Path." The work of the American Section, of which he was continuously from its organization the General Secretary, made heavy inroads upon his time and energies. The active American membership in the T.S. was at that time larger than in all the rest of the world, and growing rapidly. The American membership in the Esoteric Section comprised two-thirds of the entire body and called for unceasing and difficult attention. Next to H.P.B., Mr. Judge's personal correspondence with members throughout the world was by far the heaviest. His health had been undermined by the drain of recent years and by the relentless and sustained attacks and antagonisms without and within the Society with himself as their object along with H.P.B. The good will and good feeling reached during the London conferences, the apparent healing of all distempers within the Society, the fresh alliance of all the forces in the common object of carrying on the work on the lines established by H.P.B. -- all these gave him new vigor and a strength sufficient for his increased burdens.
Colonel Olcott, now past sixty, patriarchal in appearance, cordial by nature, looked upon with the utmost respect and reverence by the rank and file of the membership as being the "President-Founder" of the Society, the earliest as the life-long colleague of H.P.B., and the one chosen by the Masters as Head of the Society, might be said to have had his cup of glory full at this epoch. His journey had restored his physical health; the reception accorded him at London had re-assured him as to the solid place he held in the affections of the membership in the Occident as in the Orient; the pledges of devotion by all the Western leaders in the Society to H.P.B., to the Cause, to his beloved Society, and to him personally, had brought out all that was generous, genial and optimistic in his nature. He could see everywhere the work to which he had given his all through long years of hardship, often of ignominy, now sustained by able and devoted lieutenants, respected where it had once been despised, spoken of in flattering terms where once both it and himself had been received with contumely. Wherever he went he was the Chief. He determined to return to India by America, and his journey was broken from city to city by meetings at which he was the commanding figure. His entire journey during the months of his absence from Adyar was a kind of triumphal progress, strewn with testimonials of the love and gratitude of his colleagues and of the world-wide membership of the Society. Returned to India, his arrival was signalized by the Indian members in a manner not less warmly appreciative of his services.
Those who have studied Theosophy and Occultism even a little need not be told that the high tide of brotherly feeling, of devotion to the First Object of the Society which we have here endeavored to project in its broad outlines could not long endure. The brighter the light the sharper the shadow is defined, and in the realm of forces metaphysical as physical, action and reaction alternately have sway; no inlet of force from above but arouses to action the forces that lie in wait upon the black side of human nature, and their sphere of influence is ever the personal equation.
In December, 1890, while H.P.B. lay between life and death, Mrs. Besant had published of her own motion, and without the knowledge of H.P.B., a ringing article in "Lucifer" entitled "The Theosophical Society and H.P.B." The occasion for this article was the private propagandum that was diligently being promoted in derogation of H.P.B. by adherents of Col. Olcott and Mr. Sinnett for her action in taking over the headship of the newly formed "Theosophical Society in Europe." In this article Mrs. Besant wrote with great force and conviction in support of the following numbered propositions which she italicized in her article:"Now touching the position of H.P.B. to and in the Theosophical Society, the following is a brief exposition of it, as it appears to many of us:Having thus advanced her theorems and worked them out to a satisfactory Q.E.D., Mrs. Besant's article closed with the inevitable conclusion from her demonstration:"(1) Either she is a messenger from the Masters, or else she is a fraud.
"(2) In either case the Theosophical Society would have had no existence without her.
"(3) If she is a fraud, she is a woman of wonderful ability and learning, giving all the credit of these to some persons who do not exist.
"(4) If H.P.B. is a true messenger, opposition to her is opposition to Masters, she being their only channel to the Western World.
"(5) If there are no Masters, the Theosophical Society is an absurdity, and there is no use in keeping it up. But if there are Masters, and H.P.B. is their messenger, and the Theosophical Society their foundation, the Theosophical Society and H.P.B. cannot be separated before the world.""... If the members care at all for the future of the Society, if they wish to know that the Twentieth Century will see it standing high above the strife of parties, a beacon-light in the darkness for the guiding of men, if they believe in the Teacher who founded it for human service, let them now arouse themselves from slothful indifference, sternly silence all dissensions over petty follies in their ranks, and march shoulder to shoulder for the achievement of the heavy task laid upon their strength and courage. If Theosophy is worth anything, it is worth living for and worth dying for. If it is worth nothing let it go at once and for all. It is not a thing to play with, it is not a thing to trifle with. ... let each Theosophist, and above all, let each Occultist, calmly review his position, carefully make his choice, and if that choice be for Theosophy, let him sternly determine that neither open foe nor treacherous friends shall shake his loyalty for all time to come to his great Cause and Leader, which twain are one."Such a proclamation as this, coming from one who was, in the eyes of the world even more than in the Society, the foremost power in the movement next to H.P.B. herself, could but align the ranks and silence, for the time being, all covert as well as open belittling of H.P.B.
After the death of H.P.B., as the no less clear proclamation in the E.S. circular from which we have quoted in the last chapter, became common knowledge throughout the Society of the determination of the Council, of Mr. Judge and Mrs. Besant, to follow strictly the aims and lines and teachings of H.P.B., there followed such a revival of activity, such an exhibition of common brotherhood and loyalty to the First Object and, no less, to H.P.B. as the Teacher, as had never been witnessed during her lifetime. Followed the Convention of the British and European Sections with their renewed asseverations, and the many articles breathing the most profound respect and devotion to H.P.B. and her mission from the pens of every well-known Theosophist. On August 30, 1891, Mrs. Besant bade farewell to the Secularists with whom, in collaboration with Charles Bradlaugh, she had labored for so many years. Her address was entitled, "1875 to 1891: A Fragment of Autobiography." This memorable speech was printed far and wide. After recounting her fifteen years of battle and achievement, her hard won steps of progress to her conversion to Theosophy through her reviewing the Secret Doctrine, her meeting with H.P.B., her examination of the famous S.P.R. Report with its charges of fraud against H.P.B., Mrs. Besant astounded the meeting, the world, and the members of the Theosophical Society with this bold and categorical statement:"You have known me in this hall for sixteen and a half years. You have never known me to lie to you. My worst public enemy, through the whole of my life, never cast a slur upon my integrity. Everything else they have sullied, but my truth never; and I tell you that since Madame Blavatsky left, I have had letters in the same writing and from the same person [as the writer of the disputed 'Mahatma' letters alleged in the S.P.R. Report to have been written by H.P.B.]. Unless you think that dead persons write -- and I do not think so -- that is rather a curious fact against the whole challenge of fraud. I do not ask you to believe me, but I tell you this on the faith of a record that has never yet been sullied by a conscious lie. Those who knew her, knew that she could not very well commit fraud, if she tried. She was the frankest of human beings. It may be said, 'What evidence have you beside hers?' My own knowledge. For some time, all the evidence I had of the existence of her Teachers and the existence of those so-called 'abnormal powers' was second-hand, gained through her. It is not so now; and it has not been so for many months; unless every sense can be at the same time deceived, unless a person can be, at the same moment, sane and insane, I have exactly the same certainty for the truth of those statements as I have for the fact that you are here. Of course you may be all delusions, invented by myself and manufactured by my own brain. I refuse -- merely because ignorant people shout fraud and trickery -- to be false to all the knowledge of my intellect, the perceptions of my senses, and my reasoning faculties as well."These statements of Mrs. Besant, as we shall find when we come to the distressing events of 1894-5, were "explained" by her in great detail when driven by the necessities of her own position, but at the time they created a furore now difficult to imagine. The student should ponder them well, for in them are the keys to the explanation and understanding of the forces that finally wrecked the Theosophical Society. The text of the quotation given is taken from the pamphlet issued by Mrs. Besant's "Theosophical Publishing Society."
"Lucifer" for October, 1891, contained another unequivocal declaration by Mrs. Besant in its leading article, "Theosophy and Christianity." She says:"... THEOSOPHY is a body of knowledge, clearly and distinctly formulated in part and proclaimed to the world. Members of the Society may or may not be students of this knowledge, but none the less is it the sure foundation on which the MASTERS have built the Society, and on which its central teaching of the Brotherhood of Man is based. Without Theosophy Universal Brotherhood may be proclaimed as an Ideal, but it cannot be demonstrated as a Fact....It must be evident to any student that these several proclamations referred alike to those within and without the Society, of high and low degree, who found it to their interest to belittle or calumniate H.P.B. In the months following the death of H.P.B. the natural impulse of gratitude on the part of the rank and file of the membership toward H.P.B. received an accession, a countenance and a support from Mrs. Besant's affirmations of the status of H.P.B. and bold defiance of "treacherous friends" within the Society, that effectually put in prudent silence those who before had belittled publicly and privately the authoritative character of H.P.B. as the Messenger of the Masters.
"Now by Theosophy I mean the 'Wisdom Religion,' or the 'Secret Doctrine,' and our only knowledge of the Wisdom Religion at the present time comes to us from the Messenger of its Custodians, H. P. BLAVATSKY. Knowing what she taught, we can recognise fragments of the same teachings in other writings, but her message remains for us the test of Theosophy everywhere. ... Only, none of us has any right to put forward his own views as 'Theosophy' in conflict with hers, for all that we know of Theosophy comes from her. When she says 'The Secret Doctrine teaches,' none can say her nay; we may disagree with the teaching, but it remains 'the Secret Doctrine,' or Theosophy; she always encouraged independent thought and criticism, and never resented differences of opinion, but she never wavered in the distinct proclamation 'The Secret Doctrine is' so-and-so....
"Theosophists have it in charge not to whittle away the Secret Doctrine. ... Steadily, calmly, without anger but also without fear, they must stand by the Secret Doctrine as she gave it, who carried unflinchingly through the storms of well-nigh seventeen years the torch of the Eastern Wisdom. The condition of success is perfect loyalty...."
But after Col. Olcott's tour and return to India it is clear that the testimonials he had received of the respect accorded to him and his position of President-Founder gave him a reinforced feeling of security and strength. Likewise, from his past conduct, it is evident he had expected that with the death of H.P.B. she would no longer remain a living power in the Society. That part of his nature which so often had risen in rebellion against H.P.B. living, as the dominant factor in the Society of which he felt himself the true and competent Head, once more became restive, alarmed, and decisive of his action. What the inner councils of his thoughts and what the outcome are clearly discernible in his Address to the "Seventeenth Convention and Anniversary of the Theosophical Society, at the Head-Quarters, Adyar, Madras," India, at the end of December, 1891. The address is contained in full in the Report of the Convention; also issued as a Supplement to the "Theosophist" for January, 1892. We quote the germane remarks:"As the Co-Founder of the Society, as one who has had constant opportunities for knowing the chosen policy and wishes of the Masters, as one who has, under them and with their assent, borne our flag through sixteen years of battle, I protest against the first giving way to the temptation to elevate either them, their agents, or any other living or dead personage, to the divine status, or their teachings to that of infallible doctrine....To complete the picture as limned in the preceding extracts and comments, we may turn to the published statements of Mr. Judge during the same period. In the "Path" for June, 1891, he sounded the following note of mingled confidence, caution and advice:
"If she had lived, she would have undoubtedly left her protest against her friends making a saint of her or a bible out of her magnificent, though not infallible writings. I helped to compile her 'Isis Unveiled' while Mr. Keightley and several others did the same by 'The Secret Doctrine.' Surely we know how far from infallible are our portions of the books, to say nothing about hers. She did not discover, nor invent Theosophy, nor was she the first or the ablest agent, scribe or messenger of the Hidden Teachers of the Snowy Mountains. The various scriptures of the ancient nations contain every idea now put forth, and in some cases possess far greater beauties and merits than any of her or our books. We need not fall into idolatry to signify our lasting reverence and love for her, the contemporary teacher, nor offend the literary world by pretending that she wrote with the pen of inspiration. Nobody living was a more staunch and loyal friend of hers than I, nobody will cherish her memory more lovingly. I was true to her to the end of her life, and now I shall continue to be true to her memory. But I never worshipped her, never blinded my eyes to her faults, never dreamt that she was as perfect a channel for the transmission of occult teaching as some others in history have been, or as the Masters would have been glad to have found. As her tried friend, then, as one who worked most intimately with her, and is most anxious that she may be taken by posterity at her true high value; as her co-worker; as one long ago accepted, though humble, agent of the Masters; and finally, as the official head of the Society and guardian of the personal rights of its Fellows, I place on record my protest against all attempts to create an H.P.B. school, sect or cult, or to take her utterances as in the least degree above criticism. The importance of the subject must be my excuse for thus dwelling upon it at some length. I single out no individuals, mean to hurt nobody's feelings. I am not sure of being alive very many years longer, and what duty demands I must say while I can.""The death of H. P. Blavatsky should have the effect on the Society of making the work go on with increased vigor free from all personalities. The movement was not started for the glory of any person, but for the elevation of Mankind. The organization is not affected as such by her death for her official positions were those of Corresponding Secretary and President of the European Section. The Constitution has long provided that after her death the office of Corresponding Secretary should not be filled. The vacancy in the European Section will be filled by election in that Section, as that is matter with which only the European Branches have to deal. She held no position in the exoteric American Section, and had no jurisdiction over it in any way. Hence there is no vacancy to fill and no disturbance to be felt in the purely corporate part of the American work. The work here is going on as it always has done, under the efforts of its members who now will draw their inspiration from the books and works of H.P.B. and from the purity of their own motive.Then follows the quotations before referred to in the circular of the Esoteric Section from which we have quoted. In the "Path" for August, 1891, the leading article begins with this quotation:
"All that the Society needs now to make it the great power it was intended to be is first, solidarity, and second, Theosophical education. These are wholly in the hands of its members. The first gives that resistless strength which is found only in Union, the second gives that judgment and wisdom needed to properly direct energy and zeal."
"Read these words from H. P. Blavatsky's Key to Theosophy:"[Note: Since I don't know how to do graphics, I made the below Pyramid diagram, which was above the quote, as it is here, with a slash, a reverse slash, and an underline, in order to come close to what the three even lines looked like.--Compiler.]The text immediately following runs as follows:
/\"'INGRATITUDE IS NOT ONE OF OUR FAULTS.' WE ALWAYS HELP THOSE WHO HELP US. TACT, DISCRETION, AND ZEAL ARE MORE THAN EVER NEEDED. THE HUMBLEST WORKER IS SEEN AND HELPED. ...""To a student theosophist, serving whenever and however he could, there came very recently -- since the departure from this plane of H. P. Blavatsky -- these words of highest cheer from that Master of whom H.P.B. was the reverent pupil. Attested by His real signature and seal, they are given here for the encouragement and support of all those who serve the Theosophical Society -- and, through it, humanity -- as best they can; given in the belief that it was not intended that the recipient should sequestrate or absorb them silently, but rather that he should understand them to be his only in the sense that he might share them with his comrades, that his was permitted to be the happy hand to pass them on as the common right, the universal benediction of one and all."The article is signed "Jasper Niemand." This pen name had by that time become known and loved throughout the theosophical world as the recipient of the famous "Letters That Have Helped Me" from "Z.L.Z., the Greatest of the Exiles," originally published in the "Path" during the life-time of H.P.B., and by most Theosophists then supposed to have been written by H.P.B. herself. Not till some years later was it made known that "Z.L.Z." was Mr. Judge, and "Jasper Niemand" Mrs. Archibald Keightley (Julia Campbell-VerPlanck). The article from which we have been quoting was written and published during the absence of Mr. Judge in England following H.P.B.'s death, and without his knowledge, as Mrs. Keightley was in editorial conduct of the "Path" during Mr. Judge's absence. The article, the message from the Masters with which it began, and the claim that the message had been received subsequent to the death of H.P.B., stirred Col. Olcott to the depths. He wrote to Mr. Judge about it in strong terms, as he saw in it nothing but an attempt to attract attention to H.P.B., Masters and Mr. Judge himself. Mr. Judge replied at length to Colonel Olcott, and this letter was later published in "Lucifer." As we shall have occasion later to refer to this correspondence, no comment is necessary at this stage of our study.
Succeeding articles and notes in the "Path" gave attention to Col. Olcott's place in the T.S. with respect and loyalty; noted Mrs. Besant's claim to the receipt of messages subsequent to H.P.B.'s death; and in January, 1892, had for its leading article "Dogmatism in Theosophy." This article was written partly to make clear the real position to be assumed by all Theosophists, partly to moderate the intemperate zeal of some enthusiasts who were wont to quote H.P.B. to "put a quietus" on their opponents whose views of H.P.B. or her teachings were not the same as their own; partly as an open declaration of Mr. Judge's own attitude, in response to Col. Olcott's criticisms and public statements. We quote from "Dogmatism in Theosophy":"The Theosophical Society was founded to destroy dogmatism. This is one of the meanings of its first object -- Universal Brotherhood....Thus, from the citations given, one may see that within less than a year from the death of H.P.B., the old lines of cleavage became once more recrudescent, and Theosophy versus the Theosophical Society once more the issue to be fought out.
"In the Key to Theosophy, in the 'Conclusion,' H.P.B. again refers to this subject and expresses the hope that the Society might not, after her death, become dogmatic or crystallize on some phase of thought or philosophy, but that it might remain free and open, with its members wise and unselfish. And in all her writings and remarks, privately or publicly, she constantly reiterated this idea....
"If our effort is to succeed, we must avoid dogmatism in theosophy as much as in anything else, for the moment we dogmatise and insist on our construction of theosophy, that moment we lose sight of Universal Brotherhood and sow the seeds of future trouble.
"... Even though nine-tenths of the members believe in Reincarnation, Karma, the sevenfold constitution, and all the rest, and even though its prominent ones are engaged in promulgating these doctrines as well as others, the ranks of the Society must always be kept open, and no one should be told that he is not orthodox or not a good Theosophist because he does not believe in these doctrines....
"But at the same time it is obvious that to enter the Society and then, under our plea of tolerance, assert that theosophy shall not be studied, ... shall not be investigated, is untheosophical, unpractical, and absurd, for it were to nullify the very object of our organization....
"And as the great body of philosophy, science, and ethics offered by H. P. Blavatsky and her teachers has upon it the seal of research, of reasonableness, of antiquity, and of wisdom, it demands our first and best consideration....
"So, then, a member of the Society, no matter how high or how low his or her position in its ranks, has the right to promulgate all the philosophical and ethical ideas found in our literature to the best ability possessed, and no one else has the right to object, provided such promulgation is accompanied by a clear statement that it is not authorized or made orthodox by any declaration from the body corporate of the T.S...." [Note: Here's the whole article: "Dogmatism in Theosophy." And here's "Letters That Have Helped Me", that was spoken of a little before the above quotes. --Compiler.]
(To be Continued)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 22 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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