THEOSOPHY, Vol. 10, No. 4, February, 1922
(Pages 97-111; Size: 58K)
(Number 26 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
BY the spring of 1893 the internal situation of the Society was fast approaching a climax paralleling that of 1888, and, as in the earlier case, it occurred contemporaneously with a floodtide of external interest and prosperity. "Old Diary Leaves" was steadily undermining the reverence and respect of the members for H.P.B. as a Teacher, by representing her as a mere thaumaturgist. The theories and speculations to account for her phenomena, the vagaries of character and habits attributed to her, could only lead to the inference that, however gifted in some ways, she was but an irresponsible medium, not a Messenger direct from the great Lodge of Masters. Added to this was a constant private belittling by correspondence and by word of mouth over the signature and upon the authority of the President-Founder of the Society who, though representing himself as her most intimate friend and associate, vouched for facts and conclusions not less injurious to her occult status than those of the Psychical Research Society in its celebrated Report. The Letter of the MASTER, "K.H.," phenomenally delivered to Col. Olcott on shipboard in the early autumn of 1888, at a time when he was harboring and expressing the same feelings and views, was forgotten or lost sight of, and H.P.B. was more and more coming to be regarded by many members as at best an uncertain channel between the MASTERS and the world; a channel to be utilized under reserve, if not to be scrutinized with actual doubt and suspicion. Now that she was "dead," even that questionable link was severed and the members, left to themselves, were peculiarly open to suggestion and direction. To whom should they look in their perplexities if not to the "President-Founder?" And when they were offered his views, clothed with official authority, expressed with the utmost candor, sincerity and good faith, what more natural than the deductions that the Society was of far more importance than a Philosophy derived through a questionable source; phenomena more valuable than study; propagandum more necessary than altruism? What more natural than the inference that the living President-Founder was now, and always had been, the real mainstay of the Movement and of the Society?
What was Mr. Judge to do in these circumstances? If he held his peace, the Society and the membership were certain to be irremediably led astray from the prime Objects proclaimed insistently by the MASTERS, by H.P.B. and himself. Should he permit the lines of Teaching, of policy and of practice laid down by H.P.B. to be swept aside and himself join in building up a great organization with purely utilitarian and exoteric aims? Or should he do as she had done in 1888 -- hold to the "lines laid down" regardless of all else that might befall? For, even more than in 1888, the whole tendency in the Society was to achieve a great public success, while in the Esoteric School an increasing percentage of the members were avid to convert it into a "hall of occultism," and were pursuing the "third object" to the exclusion of all else. Was H.P.B. to become a mere memory, the MASTERS an empty and far-off inaccessible abstraction, THEOSOPHY secondary to the Theosophical Society, and that Theosophy to be twisted, perverted, corrupted, by the interpretations of students, the "fresh revelations" of the horde of "psychics" and "occultists" who were already proclaiming their "successorship" to H.P.B. and delivering "messages from the Masters of H.P.B." in contradiction of what she had taught and exemplified? The great issues at stake must have given him pause, and he must have realized that in entering the lists in defense of the Teachings and Mission of H.P.B. he was inviting a far more unequal combat to the death than any she had ever brought upon her devoted head. For H.P.B. had had the prestige of a pioneer; the philosophy she had recorded was her standing witness; her phenomena, however misrepresented, were none the less irrevocably attested by the very ones who now sought to usurp her robes; and she had had at all times devoted defenders -- Judge foremost of all. But Judge was now alone; he had been purposely kept in obscurity during the first ten year cycle of the Society's life; he was little known to the membership at large outside the United States; he was without literary or oratorical or official reputation; he had at all times sustained and defended the President-Founder as strongly in his place as he had H.P.B. in hers; he was of necessity a thorn in the side of all those who sought to profit the Society and themselves by ignoring or minimizing the unique status of H.P.B. -- who were equally ready to treat her as an asset or a liability, as might best serve their purposes. What was Judge to do?
Under the date of March, 1893, he issued to the American members of the E.S. a circular entitled, "We Have Not Been Deserted." We quote:"It is very proper to answer the question which has come to many, expressed or unexpressed, whether since the death of H.P.B.'s body the E.S.T. has been in communication with the Masters who ordered her to start the E.S.T.? ....This communication to the E.S.T. was followed, in the "Path" for April with a leading article entitled, "Authorship of the Secret Doctrine." The article is signed, "One of the Staff," it being the practice of Mr. Judge to use a variety of pseudonyms when he desired to present for the consideration of the students any statements on moot points of teachings or of facts to arouse thought and discussion, that they might be considered on their merits apart from any question of personalities or authority. The article says:
"We have not been deserted at all, and the Masters have all along been watching and aiding. They have communicated with several of those who by nature are fit; those who have made themselves fit; and with those who are, by peculiar Karma, in the line of such communication. None of these messages go by favor or by the desire of some to have them....
"There are in the School certain persons known to me who have been in communication with the Masters for some time, but they do not know each other and have never by word or sign given out the fact. ... In America the line of communication is not ruptured. It is true that it is not as strong as it was when H.P.B. was here, but we cannot expect always to have the same amount of force working, for there is a law, based on cycles, which requires such line of force to be stopped or weakened now and then. The stoppage however is never total, but at certain periods it is confined to the few. We have the misfortune to know that at one time many of the Masters were publicly at work here in our early years and that the opportunity for us was missed by reason of the materialistic and naturalistic tendencies of the day and of our education. Our missing it did not, however, prevent the doing by those personages of the work in hand. A more narrow confinement of these lines of action and communication will come at a later day, strictly in accord with the laws I have referred to. But we have only to do our duty and to work for the future so as to be able to return to the work at a better time in some other life. Within the last nine months some communications have been received from the Masters bearing on the general work, for they have ceased (as by rule) to deal much in personal concerns, but They do not fail to help in the real and right way the efforts of all members who sincerely work for others. Those who are at work for their own benefit will meet with the exact result of such a line of action, that is, they will not go far and will lose much at death which is sure to come to us all. But unselfish work makes the effect sink down into each one's own nature and therefore preserves it all.
"Furthermore, some years ago the Masters said that in the course of time I should see that certain facts had to come out. Some of these I now give, and shall give them in the Path publicly. First, the Masters both certified in writing about 1884, that the Secret Doctrine was dictated by them to H.P.B., she only using discretion as to certain connecting paragraphs and subsidiary arguments. That book is, therefore, for those of [us] who say we believe in the Masters, the very work of those personages. What we cannot understand we can lay aside for the future. Second, They sent me copies, as also to others, of the certificate. Third, They certified that not since the batch of letters used by Mr. Sinnett for his book had They sent such teachings to anyone and bade us note the fact. This of course does not include H.P.B., as she and They in respect to the teaching are the same. But she and They left many things in writing for future use. Fourth, They directed that about the present time these matters might come out. In respect to one point you will find published something about the sevenfold system of planets of the highest value, and going to upset the old materialistic notions thereupon.""A good deal has been said about the writing of Isis Unveiled, and later of the Secret Doctrine, both by H. P. Blavatsky. ... in the early days she did not say precisely to the public that she was in fact helped ... by the Masters, ... The Secret Doctrine, however, makes no disguise of the real help, and she asserts, as also many of us believe, that the Masters had a hand in that great production. The letters sent to Mr. Sinnett formed the ground for Esoteric Buddhism, as was intended, but as time went on it was seen that some more of the veil had to be lifted and certain misconceptions cleared up; hence the Secret Doctrine was written, and mostly by the Masters themselves, except that she did the arranging of it.The first two certificates reproduced in the above article were originally sent to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden, a well-known German savant, who had been intensely interested in the phenomena and teachings of H.P.B.; who, like so many others, found it difficult to understand or accept her explanations of them and their source; and who consequently wavered between the theories of mediumship and chicanery to account for them. His own statement in regard to the facts and his expression of opinion in regard to them will be found in a communication over his own signature embodied in the Countess Wachtmeister's "Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine," the original edition of which was issued at London, late in 1893, six months after the publication in the "Path" from which we have been quoting.
"For some time it was too much the custom of those who had received at the hands of H.P.B. words and letters from her Masters to please themselves with the imagination that she was no more in touch with the original fount, and that, forsooth, these people could decide for themselves what was from her brain and what from the Masters. But it is now time to give out a certificate signed by the Masters given when the Secret Doctrine was being written, a certificate signed by the Masters who have given out all that is new in our theosophical books. It was sent to one who then had a few doubts, and at the same time copies were given from the same source to others for use in the future, which is now. The first certificate runs thus:"'I wonder if this note of mine is worthy of occupying a select spot with the documents reproduced, and which of the "Blavatskian" style of writing it will be found to most resemble? The present is simply to satisfy the Doctor that "the more proof given the less believed." Let him take my advice and not make these two documents public. It is for his own satisfaction the undersigned is happy to assure him that the Secret Doctrine, when ready, will be the triple production of [here are the names of one of the Masters and of H.P.B.] and -- most humble servant [signed by the other].'"On the back of this was the following, signed by the Master who is mentioned in the above:"'If this can be of any help to -------, though I doubt it, I, the humble undersigned Faquir, certify that the Secret Doctrine is dictated to [name of H.P.B.], partly by myself and partly by my brother -------.'"A year after this, certain doubts having arisen in the minds of individuals, another letter from one of the signers of the foregoing was sent and reads as follows. As the prophecy in it has come true, it is now the time to publish it for the benefit of those who know something of how to take and understand such letters. For the outside it will all be so much nonsense."'The certificate given last year saying that the Secret Doctrine would be when finished the triple production of [H.P.B.'s name], -------, and myself was and is correct, although some have doubted not only the facts given in it but also the authenticity of the message in which it was contained. Copy this and also keep the copy of the aforesaid certificate. You will find them both of use on the day when you shall, as will happen without your asking, receive from the hands of the very person to whom the certificate was given, the original for the purpose of allowing you to copy it; and you can then verify the correctness of this presently forwarded copy. ... All this and more will be found necessary as time goes on, but for which you are well qualified to wait.'" [Note: Here's the whole article: "Authorship of Secret Doctrine". --Compiler.]
The same number of the "Path" which contained the article on the authorship of the "Secret Doctrine" -- April, 1893 -- also contained the third of a series of articles on the "Earth-Chain of Globes," to which attention was directed in the E.S.T. Circular from which we have quoted. [Note: Here's the first, the second, and the third article in the series. --Compiler.] The articles, and others on related subjects, were signed "William Brehon," another of the pen names used by Mr. Judge. These articles were written because of the fact that Mr. Sinnett and others sharing his views were once more actively promulgating the theories of planetary and human evolution originally presented by him in "Esoteric Buddhism" -- theories and interpretations to the correction of which H.P.B. had devoted many pages in the "Secret Doctrine." Mr. Sinnett, without recanting or seeking to reconcile his views with those expounded by H.P.B. had, nevertheless, after a somewhat ironical communication to "Lucifer,"(2) remained quiescent until after her death. Encouraged, perhaps by the note struck in "Old Diary Leaves," his "London Lodge" had resumed its public activities and Mr. Sinnett had been privately expressing the opinion that H.P.B. had, in her later years, been "under other influences than those of the Masters." In particular, a "Transaction of the London Lodge, No. 17," had just been issued, giving a paper by W. Scott Elliott on "The Evolution of Humanity." This "Transaction" not only continued the grossly materialistic conception of the "planetary chains" promulgated by "Esoteric Buddhism," but went still farther in that it announced, in terms which could not be otherwise interpreted than as claiming to be "on the authority of the Masters," the specific "facts" that Mars was the last planet inhabited by our humanity; Mercury is to be the next, and Europe will be destroyed by fire in "about 18,000 years." These "facts" are accompanied by the statement that much of the contents of the "Transaction" are "given out to the world for the first time." The confusions and contradictions thus inaugurated were added to by the fact that the "Path" for June, 1893, contained an enthusiastic commendation of this "Transaction," in a review signed with the initials "A.F." This was the signature of Alexander Fullerton, formerly an Episcopalian clergyman, who had become greatly interested in Theosophy, had relinquished his clerical profession and had volunteered his services to the American Section. As he was highly educated, an excellent writer and speaker, his services had been gladly availed of. He acted as Secretary for Mr. Judge, edited the "Forum," a Sectional publication devoted to questions and answers on Theosophy, lectured frequently before the Aryan Lodge in New York City, contributed many signed articles to the "Path," attended to much of the heavy volume of correspondence coming to the "Path" office and the Sectional headquarters, and was generally regarded throughout the American Section as Mr. Judge's "right hand man." Mr. Fullerton had been in India, was very fond of Col. Olcott, and had conceived an enormous admiration for Mrs. Besant and Mr. Sinnett. He had been the pastor of "Jasper Niemand" through whom he had become interested in Theosophy and through whom he became connected with the work. He retained many of the characteristics of the typical "minister," and was very sensitive, not to say jealous, of his own worth and importance. His review of the "London Lodge Transaction," then, coming as it did in connection with the other matters mentioned, caused great rejoicing in some quarters, and in others raised the presumption that Mr. Judge had receded from the consistent position hitherto maintained by him in regard to H.P.B.'s teachings. The situation contained, therefore, all the necessary ingredients for a comedy or a tragedy. Mr. Judge met it by publishing over his own signature a leading editorial in the "Path" for July, 1893, to endeavor, if possible, to correct all misconceptions. He wrote:"In the June PATH there was printed a review of a pamphlet issued by the London Lodge T.S., and this magazine may perhaps be construed as committed to an approval of everything contained in the pamphlet, although the private initials of the reviewer were annexed to the remarks. The pamphlet referred to brings up an old dispute which we had thought was settled by what is found in The Secret Doctrine. ... H.P.B., the only person in actual and constant communication with the Masters, corrected the mistake made by Mr. Sinnett. ... Her correction of the misconception was made upon the written authority of the same Masters who sent through her the letters on which Esoteric Buddhism was written.Mr. Judge then proceeds to take up this question of a consistent philosophy and argues in line with the citations in the "Secret Doctrine" that to assume that Mars and Mercury constitute a portion of the "earth-chain of globes" is to destroy the consistency of the philosophy. In the course of his article he uses the significant expression: "We do not understand that Mr. Sinnett has said that H.P.B. was not reporting the Masters ... or that the Masters have denied that they hold the above views."
"On the ground of authority in respect to this question, about which none of the Theosophical writers have any information independent of what the Masters have written, we must conclude that the statement in The Secret Doctrine is final. If no other point were involved, there would be no necessity for going further with the matter, but as the consistency of the entire philosophy is involved, it is necessary to advert again to this subject."
This article by Mr. Judge placed squarely before the members the direct contradiction between the exposition of the seven-fold scheme of the universe as presented by Mr. Sinnett in "Esoteric Buddhism" and as set forth by H. P. Blavatsky in the "Secret Doctrine." As both presentations ostensibly came from the same source -- the Masters of Wisdom -- it followed that either Mr. Sinnett or H.P.B. was in error. And as the subject was one on which the generality of members could not be assumed to possess any direct knowledge of their own, they either must fall into the logical absurdity of accepting two mutually destructive hypotheses, or must choose between them. He therefore pointed out that on the basis of authenticity and authority, H.P.B. must be the safer guide, and reinforced this point by calling attention, first, to the direct messages from the MASTERS to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden while the "Secret Doctrine" was being written; second, to the direct message from the Master "K.H." to Col. Olcott after the "Secret Doctrine" was completed -- in both cases the messages being certified to by the recipients themselves, and in both cases the messages being to recipients who doubted the standing of H.P.B. with the MASTERS. Moreover, in the message to Col. Olcott, under circumstances which have already been set out, the Master took occasion to say: "Since 1885 I have not written, nor caused to be written, save through her agency, direct or remote, a letter or a line to anybody in Europe or America, nor communicated orally with, or through, any third party. Theosophists should learn it. You will understand later the significance of this declaration, so keep it in mind."
This letter of the Master's contained a reference to existing conditions at the time it was sent -- August, 1888 --; to the precedent situation of which they were the recrudescence -- the Fall of 1884 --; and, no less, to the then future. Let the reader now turn to letter IV in the book, "Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom." It was sent to Miss Francesca Arundale at the same time and place -- Elberfeld, Germany, late in 1884 -- as the two certificates mentioned, and forms part of the same mise en scene. Except for privately circulated copies, the letter to Miss Arundale never became accessible to theosophical students until May, 1910, when it was published in "The Theosophist," under the title, "Advice from a Master." It was copied in "The Theosophic Messenger" for July, 1910, and republished in "The Theosophist" for October, 1917, in the "Reminiscences" of the recipient. It was also printed in the "Vahan" for February, 1912, and apparently up to that time Mr. Sinnett did not know of its having become public property. The letter begins abruptly: "The day of the separation is close at hand," and contains the most solemn of warnings to the London Lodge, its officers and members, for their departure from the lines laid down by the Masters. When Mr. Sinnett learned of the publication of the letter he wrote to the "Vahan" a communication which shows how he regarded it. He says:"I regret its reappearance at this period for two reasons. Firstly it is calculated to give rise to misconceptions on the part of those who may imagine it to have had a more recent origin, and secondly because letters of that kind may excite painful impressions among some of their readers, who may suppose them to be the actual composition throughout of the Masters whose initials may be appended to them. ... In reference to the letter just published I wish emphatically to declare that I do not regard it as embodying the ipsissima verba of the Master, ... though very likely conveying ... some message which, in substance, he wished to send. Some of its 'advice' would already have been out of date twenty years ago. It is all the more inapplicable to the present time."Thus Sinnett. In order that the reader may judge for himself we reprint this "Advice from A Master" elsewhere in this issue. The reader should remember that the letter to Miss Arundale was written to her as an officer of the London Lodge; that it was sent just after the Coulomb explosion and when Sinnett, Olcott, Massey, and many others were full of doubts and suspicions in regard to H.P.B.; and, finally, when the London Lodge, under Mr. Sinnett's charge, was about to enter upon a prolonged period of exclusiveness as regards the public, and devotion to psychical experimentation as regards its leading members. From the date of that letter till her death in 1891, H.P.B. never had anything to do with the London Lodge; on the contrary, on her return to England in 1887, the "Blavatsky Lodge" was formed out of members of the London Lodge who had remained true to her teachings, and the formation of the "Blavatsky Lodge" was bitterly opposed, both by Sinnett and Olcott. More; from the time of that letter to Miss Arundale, A. P. Sinnett believed H.P.B. to be a deliverer of bogus messages from the Masters -- as we shall show over his own signature in its appropriate relation. After the next year -- 1885 -- Sinnett and those under his influence tried, through mediums, psychics and sensitives among their own number, to obtain "communications from the MASTERS!" They got the "communications," as any séance will yield up communications; hence the warning to Olcott in the letter of 1888, for the Master knew that Sinnett's spurious "messages" would one day be cited in opposition and contradiction to the authoritative statements of H.P.B., Himself and the Master "M." [Note: A copy of "Advice from A Master" is on this page, following the article that you are now reading. Click here if you want to go down and read it now. --Compiler.]
Judge knew in 1893 that this had been going on for years and that the time had come to put the membership on notice; hence the articles from which we have been quoting. His signed editorial in the "Path" for July, 1893, on "Mars and Mercury," from which we have quoted, was preceded, in the June issue, by another signed leading article, entitled "Masters, Adepts, Teachers, and Disciples," evidently intended to enforce the logical, as the July article treated of the authoritative, status of the opposing currents running riot beneath the placid surface of the Society's life. We quote:
"This article is meant for members of the T.S., and chiefly for those who keep H.P.B. much in mind, whether out of respect and love or from fear and envy. Those members who believe that such beings as the Masters may exist must come to one of two conclusions in regard to H.P.B.; either that she invented her Masters, who therefore have no real existence, or that she did not invent them, but spoke in the names and by the orders of such beings. If we say that she invented the Mahatmas, then, of course, as so often said by her, all that she has taught and written is the product of her own brain, from which we would be bound to conclude that her position on the roll of great and powerful persons must be higher than people have been willing to place her. But I take it most of us believe in the truth of her statement that she had those teachers whom she called Masters and that they are more perfect beings than ordinary men.
"The case I briefly wish to deal with, then, is this: H.P.B. and her relations to the Masters and to us; her books and teachings; the general question of disciples or chelas with their grades, and whether a high chela would appear almost as a Master in comparison to us, including every member from the President down to the most recent applicant.
"The last point in the inquiry is extremely important, and has been much overlooked by members in my observation. ... An idea has become quite general that chelas and disciples are all of one grade, and that therefore one chela is the same as another in knowledge and wisdom. The contrary, however, is the case. Chelas and disciples are of many grades, and some of the Adepts are themselves the chelas of higher Adepts. ... So much being laid down, we may next ask how we are to look at H.P.B.
"In the first place, every one has the right to place her if he pleases for himself on the highest plane, because he may not be able to formulate the qualities and nature of those who are higher than she was. But taking her own sayings, she was a chela or disciple of the Masters, and therefore stood in relation to them as one who might be chided or corrected or reproved. ... But looking at her powers exhibited to the world, and as to which one of her Masters wrote that they had puzzled and astonished the brightest minds of the age, we see that compared with ourselves she was an Adept....
"Now some Theosophists ask if there are other letters extant from her Masters in which she is called to account, is called their chela, and is chided now and then, besides those published. Perhaps yes. And what of it? Let them be published by all means, ... As she has herself published letters ... from the Masters to her in which she is called a chela and is chided, it certainly cannot matter if we know of others of the same sort. For over against all such we have common sense, and also the declaration of her Masters that she was the sole instrument possible for the work to be done, that They sent her to do it, and that They approved in general all she did. And she was the first direct channel to and from the Lodge, and the only one up to date through which came the objective presence of the Adepts. We cannot ignore the messenger, take the message, and laugh at or give scorn to the one who brought it to us....
"There only remains, then, the position taken by some and without a knowledge of the rules governing in these matters, that chelas sometimes write messages claimed to be from the Masters when they are not. This is an artificial position not supportable by law or rule. It is due to ignorance of what is and what is not chelaship, and also to confusion between grades in discipleship. It has been used as to H.P.B. The false conclusion has first been made that an accepted chela of high grade may become accustomed to dictation given by the Master and then may fall into the false pretense of giving something from himself and pretending it is from the Master. It is impossible. The bond in her case was not of such a character as to be dealt with thus. One instance of it would destroy the possibility of any more communications from the teacher. It may be quite true that probationers now and then have imagined themselves as ordered to say so and so, but that is not the case of an accepted and high chela who is irrevocably pledged, nor anything like it. This idea, then, ought to be abandoned; it is absurd, contrary to law, to rule, and to what must be the case when such relations are established as existed between H.P.B. and her Masters." [Note: Here's the whole article by Mr. Judge: "Masters, Adepts, Teachers, and Disciples". --Compiler.]
This, and the articles on Mars and Mercury, in connection with a letter of Mr. Judge's published in "Lucifer" for April, 1893, and to which we shall recur, precipitated what before was concealed, as a catalytic agent produces a chemical reaction. Mr. Sinnett was the first to declare himself openly, which he did in an article entitled "Esoteric Teachings," which he sent to the "Path," where it appeared in the number for September, 1893. He also sent copies to "Lucifer," where it appeared in the issue for August 15, 1893, and to the "Theosophist," in which it appeared for the month of September, 1893. In each case the article was commented on by the editors of the several publications. We quote from Mr. Sinnett's article:"Some recent references in the PATH to portions of the original esoteric teachings embodied by me in Esoteric Buddhism seem to call for remarks on my part in reply. The line of criticism in question has culminated in an article which appears in the PATH for July, entitled 'Mars and Mercury.'Mr. Sinnett then enters into details and argues in defense of his interpretations of teachings from the letters of the Masters to himself, his questions and the Masters' replies, and says, "the notion that there could be any ambiguity about my question or the answer, in the circumstances, is an insult to common sense, -- not to speak of Adept wisdom." He then adds forthwith the following declaration:
"... The question is one which, on its own merits, will only be of interest within the area of serious Theosophic study; but the controversy that has now arisen really involves some of the deepest questions affecting the future well-being of the Theosophical Society and the progress of the movement....
"For a long time after the publication of Esoteric Buddhism the statement concerning Mars and Mercury remained unchallenged. It scarcely seemed possible that any one imbued with respect for the Masters' teaching could challenge it, ... In later years when the Secret Doctrine was published by Madame Blavatsky, I found to my great surprise that she had asserted a new view of the planetary chain, altogether at variance with that previously given out, ... On the basis of this declaration some Theosophical students have felt bound by their loyalty to Madame Blavatsky to put aside the earlier teachings of the Masters conveyed through myself, and to argue that I misunderstood my instructions. ... The really important point developed by the controversy has to do with the question, What was Madame Blavatsky's position really in the occult world, and what kind of authority should be attached to the writings she has left behind her?
"I hope no one will take the explanation I am now forced to give as implying any abandonment by me of the position respecting Madame Blavatsky I have always maintained. I showed in the fragmentary biography I put together at her own wish ... that she was truly in close relations with the great Masters of esoteric wisdom. That she was one of their partially initiated disciples was also unquestionable for anyone who has been in independent touch with the realities of the occult world....
"It is not my business here to offer hypotheses to account for the strange misapprehensions into which Madame Blavatsky fell when writing the Secret Doctrine, not merely as regards these questions of Mars and Mercury, but also in regard to some other points which have not yet attracted attention. That Madame Blavatsky was capable of making mistakes when endeavoring to amplify and expand the occult teaching of the Masters is the all-important conclusion to which I think all unbiassed minds in the Theosophical Society must be brought by a consideration of the matter under discussion.""I am entitled to add that at a very recent date, within the last few months since this subject has been under discussion, the Master himself in communication with me made the following comment on the situation....The student can contrast these several statements of Mr. Sinnett with the extracts from the Masters' letters from which we have quoted, as well as with the other citations from Mr. Judge's articles, and with statements of H.P.B. in the first volume of the Secret Doctrine, and thus see clearly the gross contradiction, both as to facts and relations, between the contrasted positions. One pertinent fact should once more be called to the student's attention in reference to Mr. Sinnett's claim of unbroken connection with the Masters: By referring to the "Occult World," Mr. Sinnett's earliest book, the student can find in a direct quotation from one of the Master's letters at that time (letters sent "through H.P.B.") the plain, categorical statement that They will not give direct instruction or correction to anyone not "irrevocably pledged." It is a well-known fact in Theosophical history not only that Mr. Sinnett was never pledged at all to Them, even as a probationary chela, but refused to pledge himself even to the probationary requirements. His position never was other than that of a man of the world who refused to submit himself to any obligation of any kind, but distinctly reserved to himself full liberty of action. But he was intensely interested in phenomena; then, in the idea of Masters, and was able to render enormous service to the Society and the Movement because of his education, literary ability, and standing in India. Hence the letters to him, all through the agency of H.P.B., "direct or remote," up to the year 1885, when, having broken away and taken a tangent of his own, he received no more communications from the Masters of H.P.B., his messages through psychics and mediums to the contrary notwithstanding.
"Few persons in touch with the principles of occultism will be surprised to hear me quoting recent words addressed to me by the Master. ... During Madame Blavatsky's lifetime my privileges of communication with the Master through channels of which she knew nothing were private and personal and I was precluded from speaking of them. That prohibition has since been removed. ... For many Theosophists, I know, Madame Blavatsky represented the whole movement, ... For many such persons Madame Blavatsky may have been the only teacher from whom they received occult enlightenment. Immense as is my respect for her attainments, for her industry and devotion to the work she undertook, it is, nevertheless, a fact that I myself did not receive my Theosophic teaching directly from her, but in the way described; and long before her death my relations with the Master were carried on through the intermediation of one of his chelas, quite outside the range of Madame Blavatsky's connexions...."
Mr. Judge, following the example set by H.P.B. in the earlier controversy, published Mr. Sinnett's communication to the "Path" in full and followed it with an article of his own, "How to Square the Teachings." In this article he reviewed Mr. Sinnett's arguments, treated their author with the utmost respect, acknowledged his great service to the work of the Movement, and reinforced his former statements on the controversy by stating that he had himself seen the Masters' letters to H.P.B. containing the corrections embodied in the Secret Doctrine. Mr. Judge ignored entirely Mr. Sinnett's claims and statements in reference to unbroken communications with the Masters, but upheld the integrity of H.P.B. as the trustworthy channel, and showed how Mr. Sinnett's misunderstanding of the original teaching came about.
In publishing Mr. Sinnett's article in "Lucifer" Mrs. Besant prefaced it with a comment of her own, in which she deals as kindly with Mr. Sinnett as does Mr. Judge, but states her own position unequivocally:"With regard to H. P. Blavatsky's position in the movement, some of us are quite satisfied to know that she was a Chela of one of the Masters, helped and taught by and in constant communication with Him; for the teaching she brought us we are deeply grateful, and we do not care to benefit by the message and constantly cavil at and find fault with the messenger. Because we are not continually 'nagging' at and belittling her, we are often accused of setting her on too lofty a pedestal, of idolizing her, and claiming for her infallibility. We do nothing of the kind, though we prefer to leave to her ever active adversaries the task of pulling her to pieces, and we listen in pained silence when those who should be her friends put weapons against her into her enemies' hands. For myself, the fire of loving gratitude to her burns ever in my heart, and while I recognize that she most probably made some errors in her writings, I recognize also that she knew far more than I do, that her teaching is invaluable to me, and that until I stand in knowledge where she stood any criticism by me is likely to be full of blunders.Col. Olcott follows the publication of Mr. Sinnett's article with a comment signed with his initials. His own leanings are indicated by the following quotation.
"Touching Mars and Mercury, each must decide for himself, if he feels it necessary to come to a decision. Having no personal knowledge on the subject, I am obliged to judge from general considerations. In any doubtful matter I prefer to follow H. P. Blavatsky's teachings, and in this particular case it is more congruous with the whole evolutionary scheme than that of Mr. Sinnett, and therefore in itself it recommends itself more to my judgment.""The inestimable services which Mr. Sinnett has rendered our movement in the past, and his unfaltering loyalty to the Masters and to H.P.B. personally ... would entitle him to occupy the free platform of the Theosophist, ... Like every other contributor to our pages, he is responsible for his facts and opinions, and neither I nor the T.S. is to be held accountable for the same. His assertion that he is, and for many years has been, in frequent epistolary intercourse with Mahatma K.H. is most important and interesting, since, if valid, it goes to prove what has always been affirmed, that the Adepts are the friends and benefactors of the race, not the appanage of single individuals or groups of persons. ... If Mr. Sinnett's remarks with regard to the human fallibility of H.P.B. should give offense to any, these should still bear in mind that the writer was her devoted friend when friends were few, and learnt from her Teachers direct that loyalty to an idea did not imply wilful blindness as to the merits or deficiencies of its exponents."If now the student will turn to Chapter IX of this work, published in THEOSOPHY for October, l920 [Note: "Chapter IX" is the 10th article in this series. --Compiler], he will have no difficulty in relating the controversy just described to the discussion arising out of Subba Row's discourses on the "Bhagavad-Gita," delivered before the Indian Convention in December, 1886. H.P.B. knew then what was to come; otherwise how account for the exact disclaimers and specific warnings contained in her articles in the "Theosophist" for April and August 1887, and in her correspondence with Olcott on Cooper-Oakley's fatuousness in admitting the Subba Row criticisms -- disclaimers and warnings that neither Olcott nor any other save W. Q. Judge saw rhyme or reason in at the time? Two additional quotations from H.P.B.'s articles at that time are germane here, besides those given in Chapter IX, though the whole series in the "Theosophist" should be carefully studied. She said, April, 1887 (Theosophist, VIII, 448):"In a most admirable lecture by Mr. T. Subba Row ... the lecturer deals, incidentally as I believe, with the question of septenary 'principles' in the Kosmos and Man. The division is rather criticized...No more than Sinnett or any of the rest, could Subba Row endure reproof or correction at the hands of "the personality known to the world as H. P. Blavatsky." He replied with further strictures and personal allegations directed at H.P.B. as the author of the "sevenfold" classification of Esoteric Buddhism. In the August, 1887, "Theosophist," H.P.B., forced to definitive and direct reply to Subba Row's charges that she was the "original expounder" of the statements in "Esoteric Buddhism," and "Man, Fragments of Forgotten History," said:
"This criticism has already given rise to some misunderstanding, and it is argued by some that a slur is thrown on the original teachings. This apparent disagreement ... is certainly a dangerous handle to give to opponents who are ever on the alert to detect and blazon forth contradictions and inconsistencies in our philosophy. ... Therefore now, when he calls the division 'unscientific and misleading,'...
"A few words of explanation ... will not be out of place. ... That it is 'misleading' is ... perfectly true; for the great feature of the day -- materialism -- has led the minds of our Western Theosophists into the prevalent habit of viewing the seven principles as distinct and self-existing entities, instead of what they are -- namely, upadhis and correlating states -- three upadhis, basic groups, and four principles....
"We have unfortunately --for it was premature -- opened a chink in the Chinese wall of esotericism, and we cannot now close it again, even if we would. I for one had to pay a heavy price for the indiscretion, but I will not shrink from the results....""This is hardly fair. Esoteric Buddhism was written absolutely without my knowledge, and as the author understood those teachings from letters he had received, what have I to do with them. ... Finally 'Man' was entirely rewritten by one of the two 'chelas' and from the same materials as those used by Mr. Sinnett for 'Esoteric Buddhism;' the two having understood the teachings, each in his own way. What had I to do with the 'states of consciousness' of the three authors, two of whom wrote in England while I was in India....Finally, as we noted in Chapter IX, Mr. Judge contributed to the discussion in the August, 1887, "Theosophist," from which we quote:
"This will do, I believe. The Secret Doctrine will contain, no doubt, still more heterodox statements from the Brahmanical view. No one is forced to accept my opinions or teaching in the Theosophical Society, one of the rules of which enforces only mutual tolerance for religious views.
"Most of us have been playing truants to this golden rule as to all others: more's the pity.""The greatest schisms often come about through the supporters of one cause disputing over mere terminology. Mr. Subba Row ... condemned the 'sevenfold classification' which has come to be very largely accepted among Theosophists ... This brought out a reply which was published in the Path, and one which H. P. Blavatsky wrote for the Theosophist....Thus the matter stood in the fall of 1893; an open breach in the Society and among its leaders on the question of one of the most important of Theosophical teachings as to Nature and Man; an equally sharp cleavage of opinion as to the status of H. P. Blavatsky in the occult world: Was she a Teacher, the direct Agent of the Masters of Wisdom, or was she a mere "medium" and "psychic" used as a tool by them at times, and at other times, shorn of Their help and guidance, a mere inventor and deliverer of bogus "messages" in Their names? Olcott and Sinnett holding fast to the one view, and constant in the assertion of their own ideas and opinions, however those ideas and opinions might vary from or contradict the teachings of H.P.B.; W. Q. Judge equally steadfast in upholding the integrity of H.P.B.'s teachings as those of the MASTERS, and herself as Their conscious and vouched for Messenger; Mrs. Besant, still maintaining the attitude of devotion to H.P.B. and to Judge as the representative of the teachings and policies of H.P.B., but beginning to show the first faint, anticipatory symptoms of uncertainty.
"As his [Subba Row's] articles appeal to my eyes and mind, the real difficulty seems to be, not with any and all sevenfold classifications, but with the particular sevenfold classification found in Esoteric Buddhism and other theosophical works....
"... in Mr. Sinnett's book some division had to be adopted that Western minds could grasp until they were able to go higher. But for my part I have never understood that his book was gospel truth. The great basis of our Society would be undermined by any such doctrine, just as much as his own progress would be retarded did he fancy that the views expressed by him were his own invention. ... many decades will pass away, and many false as well as ridiculous systems will arise, grow up and disappear, before the whole truth will be known...."
So much for the story of the cleavage as to teaching and the status of H.P.B. Now we must observe the breach in policies pursued as an inevitable sequence.
(To be Continued)
Compiler's note: Here is the copy of the article that was referred to by the Editors in the above article, and which followed it in the same issue of the magazine (if you have already clicked down and read it, then just scroll past it to get to the link to the next article in this series):
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 10, No. 4, February, 1922
ADVICE FROM A MASTER(3)
THE day of the separation is close at hand, and I would say to you a few words. You are an officer of the L.L. and as such have a special duty and opportunity.
It is not enough that you should set the example of a pure virtuous life and a tolerant spirit; this is but negative goodness -- and for chelaship will never do. You should even as a simple member -- much more as an officer -- learn that you may teach, acquire spiritual knowledge and strength that the weak may lean upon you, and the sorrowing victims of ignorance learn from you the cause and remedy of their pain. If you choose, you may make your home one of the most important centres of spiritualising influence in all the world. The "power" is now concentrated there, and will remain -- if you do not weaken or repulse it -- remain to your blessing and advantage. You will do good by encouraging the visits of your fellow members and of enquirers and by holding meetings of the more congenial for study and instruction. You should induce others in other quarters to do likewise. You should constantly advise with your associates in the Council how to make the general meetings of the Lodge interesting. New members should be taken in hand from the first by the older ones, especially selected and assigned to the duty in each case, and instructed thoroughly in what you have already learnt, so that they may be capable of participating intelligently in the proceedings of regular meetings. There is a strong disposition to slur over the ceremony of initiation in such a way as to make no serious impression upon the candidate. The method of the Parent Society may be unsuited to English prejudices, yet to fall into the opposite extreme of undignified haste is very much worse. Your ways of initiation are a standing insult to every regular Chela, and have provoked the displeasure of their Masters. It is a sacred thing with us; why should it be otherwise with you? If every Fellow took for his motto the wise words of a young boy, but one who is a fervent Theosophist, and repeated with ... "I am a Theosophist before I am an Englishman," no foe could ever upset your Society. However, candidates should be taught, and old members always recollect, that this is a serious affair the Society is engaged in, and that they should begin the work as seriously by making their own lives Theosophical. The "Journal" is well begun, and should be continued. It should be the natural complement to that of the S.P.R., which is a bag of nuts uncracked.
Your branch should keep in correspondence with all the others in Europe; the Germania can help you -- the others need your help. This is a movement for all Europe -- not for London only, remember. The American members are under great disadvantages, and have had until now, since the Founders left, no competent leaders; your Branch can, and should help them, for they are your neighbours, and the Head Quarters have already too much to do in other quarters. A Chela will be detailed to answer general questions if the Branch deserves assistance. But remember; we are not public scribes or clerks with time to be continually writing notes and answers to individual correspondents about every trifling personal matter that they should answer for themselves. Nor shall we permit those private notes to be forwarded as freely as hitherto. Time enough to discuss the terms of Chelaship when the aspirant has digested what has already been given out, and mastered his most palpable vices and weaknesses. This you may show or say to all. The present is for the Branch addressed to you as its officer.
You have accepted an important service -- the financial agency -- and done wisely. Such aid was very needed. If the members in Europe wish well to the Mother Society, they should help to circulate its publications, and to have them translated into other languages when worthy of it. Intentions -- you may tell your Fellow-Members -- and kind words count for little with us. Deeds are what we want and demand. .... has done -- poor child -- more in that direction during two months than the best of your members in these five years.
The members of the London Lodge have such an opportunity as seldom comes to men. A movement calculated to benefit an English speaking world is in their custody. If they do their whole duty, the progress of materialism, the increase of dangerous self-indulgence, and the tendency towards spiritual suicide, can be checked. The theory of vicarious atonement has brought about its inevitable re-action: only the knowledge of Karma can offset it. The pendulum has swung from the extreme of blind faith towards the extreme of materialistic skepticism, and nothing can stop it save Theosophy. Is not this a thing worth working for, to save those nations from the doom their ignorance is preparing for them?
Think you the truth has been shown to you for your sole advantage? That we have broken the silence of centuries for the profit of a handful of dreamers only? The converging lines of your Karma have drawn each and all of you into this Society as to a common focus that you may each help to work out the results of your interrupted beginnings in the last birth. None of you can be so blind as to suppose that this is your first dealing with Theosophy? You surely must realise that this would be the same as to say that effects came without causes. Know then that it depends now upon each of you whether you shall henceforth struggle alone after spiritual wisdom through this and the next incarnate life, or in the company of our present associates, and greatly helped by the mutual sympathy and aspiration. Blessings to all -- deserving them.
K.H. (Back to text.)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 27 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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THREE (3) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(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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(2) Mr. Sinnett's communication, and H.P.B.'s notes thereon, will be found in "Lucifer" for November, 1888, p. 247 et seq., under the caption "'Esoteric Buddhism' and the 'Secret Doctrine.'" We know of nothing more illustrative of the contrasted spirit of H.P.B. and her critics. The article should be well studied by every student.
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(3) This is a letter from the Master "K.H.," originally sent late in 1884 to Miss Francesca Arundale, at that time Treasurer of the London Lodge, of which A. P. Sinnett was President until his death in 1921. The text of this letter is taken from "Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom." Adyar, 1919.
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