The Hill of Discernment by A. Trevor Barker
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

4. Studies in "The Mahatma Letters"

[As the compiler of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Trevor Barker's name is unique in the Theosophical Movement. One often wonders and ponders deeply over the circumstances which finally brought those inspiring Letters to light and accessibility. Perhaps we shall never know, but must remain content to place it to the workings of the Law of Karman which has thus beneficently blessed the destiny of the T. S.; for there is little question that since the publication of The Mahatma Letters a new stream of spiritual energy has flowed through the world, and students of Theosophy and lovers of truth and justice everywhere remain in debt to Trevor Barker for the karmic part he played in this act of spiritual drama.
Dr. Barker himself, naturally, was a persistent and deep student of these mahatmic letters, and it is a pity there is not more on record as a result of his studies. In this chapter is included, however, all that is obtainable in this line; but it is sufficient in itself to inspire theosophists everywhere to give deep and earnest study to this particular book which conveys the Masters' own words.
Those who cast a discriminative eye over the wide and varied range of teaching in the Theosophical Movement today, will consider as most significant the following words of Trevor Barker, in the Appendix to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:
"The publication of these letters gives to the student an opportunity to examine the whole range of Theosophic teaching in their light — while adding thereto the faculty of criticism — the highest and most discriminative of which be is capable. That faculty is an impersonal one; it is neither critic nor respecter of persons — for to it persons are without significance. But with ideas — with doctrines, it has everything to do, and if it is inevitable that the use of that faculty by students the world over will reveal many discrepancies in the accepted Theosophical doctrines of the day, it is equally certain that a large part of that teaching will receive a confirmation which cannot be gainsaid."]

Teachings on Life After Death

We take up the third of our Studies in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, and this particular branch of study we are going to do is a part of the teachings on life after death — than which, as we Theosophists think, there is nothing more important for humanity to gain an insight into, at a time when the world is over-ridden by the activity of probably more than twenty-five million Spiritualists: viz., those who are concerned to a greater or lesser degree with what the Mahatmas have called "the cult of the Worship of the Dead."

I think that we may take it that we are not wrong in attributing so much importance to this branch of our teaching, in so far as we find that such a vast amount of space in the early teachings was devoted to this particular subject; and nowhere else in the whole range of occult literature will you find so complete an explanation of man's progress and what happens to him after he casts aside this temporary physical body. It tells us the nature of man; what he is in his inner composite being, made up of many entities held together by one dominating individuality.

The Theosophist looks at this vast problem — the mystery of death — from a viewpoint entirely different naturally from the orthodox Church conception, which is unenlightened by these Ancient Teachings. Right at the beginning we have a statement made by one of the writers of these letters which strikes a note which is clean out of reach of ordinary thought upon such subjects. Here it is:

Those who know they are dead in their physical bodies (we quote from page 128) — can only be either adepts or — sorcerers; and these two are the exceptions to the general rule.

Many people think, having their preconceptions and their ideas colored by the notions of modern spiritualism, that a man when he dies simply steps aside from his body and enters into a wider, freer range of life: stronger and freer for the loss of the dead weight of the material body. But this is not the teaching of Theosophy, and never has been. Here is this challenging statement: that average human beings, normal human beings who have led ordinary sorts of lives, are not aware that they are dead when they pass into the great sphere of effects that in the Roman Catholic teaching they speak of as "the purgatorial regions," and which in Sanskrit terminology is called the Kama-loka, the region of desire. When the entity enters there he is already bereft not only of his body, but also of the magnetic framework of astral matter upon which his body was built — the substance that the Spiritualist refers to as ectoplasm; and he loses also the life principle which animates these two lower principles; all three of them together fade away after the destruction of the physical body.

And now you have left a fourfold entity that enters into this region of Kama-loka — this sphere of desire; and the Master tells us that they are not conscious there to begin with, and that only those who have progressed far upon the Path of Occultism whether white or black — retain their sense of identity and continuity of consciousness when they enter into this sphere, and where they still remember themselves in their ego, so to say as "I am I." Now this is a strange statement, and I shall have again to return to it because one of the aspects of the problem of immortality is bound up with this conception.

And now the writer goes on to elaborate this idea a little:

Both [i. e., the adept and the sorcerer] having been "co-workers with nature," the former for good, the latter — for bad, in her work of creation and in that of destruction, they are the only ones who may be called immortal in the Kabalistic and the esoteric sense of course.

I wonder how you would define immortality to yourself if you were to sit down and think about it? Here again the Theosophist regards immortality in quite a different way from the ordinary person. We believe in and affirm the immortality of the higher, divine part of man's nature — declare in fact that it is an immortal entity; but that which in the real sense of the word may truly be called Man — Manas, the thinker — is this immortal? It is only, in Theosophical parlance, conditionally immortal. In other words that you and I on our pathway through earth life are called upon so to run the race of human life and destiny that we shall succeed in merging our human, thinking soul — our Human Ego — with that immortal, divine counterpart whose ray lightens and inspires us during earth life. When we shall succeed in doing that, then during life here on earth we become in the Esoteric and Kabalistic sense immortal entities. Here is the Master's definition: "Complete or true immortality — which means an unlimited sentient existence, can have no breaks and stoppages, no arrest of Self-consciousness." This means that every moment of the night and day, waking or sleeping, the Adept is fully aware of his identity — his consciousness to his own reflective self is awake. When he lays his body down to sleep at night he steps aside from it, and leaves it there like a garment you put on a chair before getting into bed. But he retains his self-consciousness, steps aside as a conscious being, and because he has won this power during life (and remember it is only during life that we can win these powers) so he has it after death; so he is able when the hour comes, the moment of destiny when an incarnation closes, to enter with just the same confidence into that region of Kama-loka and to transcend it and go beyond it, because he has won his immortality during life. Such a being was H. P. B. — she to whom we owe the teachings that have inspired the modern Theosophical movement since its inception in 1875. She has a very telling and very interesting phrase on p. 38 of her Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett where she hopes that a certain Mrs. Gordon

will not dishonour by evoking me with some medium. Let her rest assured that it will never be my spirit nor anything of me — not even my shell since this is gone long ago.

The "shell" is of course the cast-off vessel of psychic emanations or remains, which is the chief inspirer of the majority of mediums in the spiritualistic seances. On that subject we shall have more to say in our next study on "Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena." But I wanted to refer to this statement that her shell had gone long ago. This can but open our minds and enlarge our vision in certain respects as to what we have to do if we are ever going to begin to tread the same path that she and the Mahatmas behind her have trodden. It means that this lower personality of ours has got to be transcended to the point when this Kama-rupa, this gross form, this element of passion and desire, is burnt up in the fire of Spiritual Wisdom that comes from the Higher Self; burnt up to the point that it disappears. And then, clothed in that vesture through which the Adept works in the inner spheres when the personality is gone, shall we be free indeed — "walkers of the sky" as those who reach this state of consciousness are called in The Voice of the Silence.

Now what happens in the region of Kama-loka when the entity enters there? I would like to give you these short extracts from the book itself, because the Master's own words are so much more illuminating. I will read a paragraph here from page 103:

Every one but that ego which, attracted by its gross magnetism, falls into the current that will draw it into the "planet of Death" — the mental as well as physical satellite of our earth — is fitted to pass into a relative "spiritual" condition adjusted to his previous condition in life and mode of thought. To my knowledge and recollection H. P. B. explained to Mr. Hume that man's sixth principle, as something purely spiritual could not exist, or have conscious being in the Deva-Chan, unless it assimilated some of the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth principle or animal Soul: its manas (mind) and memory.

You see now there is the statement of the conditioned immortality of the soul. The intermediate real thinking principle in us, if it would persist and survive in the after life, has got to have that in it which is worthy of immortality. It has got to have that element of eternal thinking and living and high aspiration and purpose that, by the very force of the attraction it sets up in the higher worlds, will draw the disembodied entity up as it were and give it birth, to use the language of Theosophy — to give it birth in the Devachan or Heaven-world. You know that a man is born in the after life just as a little child. Nature repeats itself by analogy all the time. Birth — human birth into the earth world — is a very real death to the Divine being that descends and incarnates. And Death when we understand it aright is the birth in the divine regions of a God.

Just think of the analogy of an entity being born as a little child on earth, with its parents and home life, surrounded by those that care for and love it, and then, because this is an event here which we cannot doubt since we have all experienced it, therefore will it have its reflective analogy — in that which will take place after death; and we as entities, if we have lived decently, ordinarily decently, will be reborn as little children in this after state, having therein full memory of all that took place during earth life that was good and pure and had in it the elements of immortality. I will return to that in a little while. That was by way of explanation of the phrase "the more abstract and pure of the mental attributes of the fifth principle."

When man dies his second and third principles die with him; the lower triad disappears, and the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh principles form the surviving Quaternary.

Now to this Kama-loka question:

Thenceforth it is a "death" struggle between the Upper and Lower dualities.

meaning that the entity is now bereft of his body and has entered the sphere of Kama-loka. He has lost his three lower principles; four are left, and henceforward it is a death struggle between the Higher duad and the Lower. We know what are these Higher and Lower duads. The higher is purely spiritual; the lower consists of the thinking apparatus and the desires and passions. Emotions, higher and lower, are comprised in the lower duad. And now a struggle takes place.

If the upper wins, the sixth, having attracted to itself the quintessence of Good from the fifth — its nobler affections, its saintly (though they be earthly) aspirations, and the most Spiritualized portions of its mind — follows its divine elder (the 7th) into the "Gestation" State; and the fifth and fourth remain in association as an empty shell — (the expression is quite correct) to roam in the earth's atmosphere, with half the personal memory gone, and the more brutal instincts fully alive for a certain period — an "Elementary" in short. This is the "angel guide" of the average medium.

We have got something very interesting there. The entity falls asleep — immediately or within a few days after death in normal cases (and for the moment we are talking about average human beings, not Adepts, not Theosophists or students of Occultism necessarily, but just men and women who lead ordinary, average decent lives). The entity has a complete review of every incident of the past life that passes through the brain before the Spiritual eye of the Ego — immediately following the moment when the body is declared to be dead. In this connexion the Master says (we quote from p. 171):

Speak in whispers, ye, who assist at a death-bed and find yourselves in the solemn presence of Death. Especially have you to keep quiet just after Death has laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet ripple of thought, and hinder the busy work of the Past casting on its reflection upon the Veil of the Future.

We are told moreover that it is this Divine hour of reflexion and revelation that will actually determine the whole course of its future incarnation. Then the entity falls asleep. Within a quicker or shorter time it enters a state in which it is relatively unconscious — unconscious entirely from the point of view that it can neither perceive anything nor can it perform actions. It has no will to do. It is in a region of effects, and it is at the mercy entirely of its own destiny as created by the man during life. If he was upward aspiring, if he had noble thoughts and desires, if he loved a little — not even greatly — there will be enough in the higher spiritual portion of him to create that upward attraction of the higher principles that will gradually cause them to separate from the lower. The man is unconscious; but if there was a very material, egotistical, or even criminal life, then there is such an attraction — force of gravity — in the lower principles, that the lower man yields no meed of spiritual essence to the higher.

Still pursuing the course, then, of this entity, the average mortal who falls asleep: this immediate precipitation of all the different elements of his being takes place, and is referred to symbolically as the struggle in the Kama-loka — not dissimilar to the struggle and ordeal of the passing from the physical body. It is a drawing apart of that which has been held together for a whole incarnation. Now, assuming that there is enough in the higher part of the human, thinking principle, enough of higher emotion and higher thoughts, when the drawing apart is completed, the lower part immediately crystallizes into an elementary — a shell — which pursues its own course ultimately to disintegration and falling apart of the elements that made up this entity. But the Higher part, what happens to it? Does it become conscious immediately? No. It goes into that state which is exactly analogous to the pre-natal state of a child of human parents — into a gestation state — see how nature repeats itself. And there after resting asleep, growing and preparing, the entity finally at the end of this period of gestation, awakes and becomes conscious. But it becomes conscious at the period of its first conscious memories of its child state at the beginning of the last incarnation. And so it begins life over again in a kind of ideal Paradise, surrounded with its parents, with its brothers and sisters, and those that loved it on earth; it lives there, and grows from infancy, through youth, adulthood, old age, going through all the spiritual experiences and working them out in absolute and complete bliss, resting in the bosom, as it were, of its own Christ principle — its own Lord of Splendor and Light — its own Inner God.

Necessarily there is a term — there comes an end to this experience of the Ego in the Heaven-world. There will come a time when the spiritual store of energies which have given it birth there and kept it there during all this time, become completely assimilated — just as there comes a period when you completely assimilate the meal you took a few hours ago; and then the entity immediately begins to descend — mind you it is a gradual process: as the birth and awaking to consciousness there was gradual, so is the re-descent gradual. Nevertheless the store of karmic energies on the opposite side of the scale, i. e. the evil tendencies, thoughts, desires, wrong actions, and their consequences which everyone creates to a greater or less degree during his passage through earth life — we have not referred to this so far. What do you think happens to these? Very important for us, for the Theosophic teaching is that there is no hell, no punishment in the ordinary religious understanding of the term, for the entity after death, i. e., for the average people; but this bundle of tendencies awaits the redescending ego after its experience in the Heaven world, awaits it, according to the occult teaching "at the threshold of Devachan"; and then, as the entity descends, putting down the ray of its energy into the lower planes, it then by attraction, magnetic affinity, re-collects the very matter — yes, the material substance — of which its lower vehicles were composed in the past life. It also gradually reclothes itself with those old tendencies, the effects of which it will have to work out in the succeeding earth life. So that the hell the Theosophist believes in is veritably here. Here we have to work out all karmic retribution, all those things that we did that were contrary to that Law of Unity and Harmony of the Universe.

There are only two immortal feelings, love and hatred — and that is a strange statement, is it not? You can be immortal in love, and you can also be relatively immortal in hatred. You can ally yourselves with the forces that make for regeneration: wisdom, understanding, life and progress; or you can identify yourselves with the forces of death and destruction and hatred and evil. These are the world's eternal ways. Verily, "he who holds the keys to the secrets of Death is possessed of the keys of life." Yes indeed, if we understand these teachings correctly, we have the key that will enable us to realize how to live now that we may enter on to the Path of Light, not only here during this life, but enter into those regions of bliss in the higher worlds, that will enable us to be merged in that Universal Over-Soul in which we know that we live and move and have our being. These are a few of the ideas that you will find worked out in very great detail in The Mahatma Letters.


Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena

Our subject tonight: "Spiritualism and Psychic Phenomena," is one of a good deal of complexity, and we shall have to see whether, with the help of those who are met together here, and their interaction with the thought of the lecturer, we may gain some illumination and understanding of this very difficult and rather thorny problem. I have been greatly perplexed, as I was trying to prepare what I had to say to you, to know how best to tackle the subject, for the amount of teaching in The Mahatma Letters upon this subject is vast, and in a short hour we can only select a few passages and try to elucidate them.

The whole of the Theosophical philosophy rests on a few axiomatic propositions, and we will always be going astray and losing the very essence of the subject that we are trying to understand if we do not approach every branch and department of our Teachings by seeking the appropriate key in the shape of one of the Fundamental axioms, in order that in the light that this particular key gives us we can understand more clearly the whole problem. These Fundamental Propositions are a kind of frame of reference to which we relate every idea and teaching of the philosophy; and once you have made the effort to acquire at least some understanding of that framework, you will have a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction and far more profit in your studies.

I am going to read you those propositions, which seem to me an appropriate and essential part of our subject this evening. If you turn to the twelfth chapter of Isis Unveiled, Volume 11, page 588, you will find there the following:

6th. Mediumship is the opposite of adeptship; the medium is the passive instrument of foreign influences, the adept actively controls himself and all inferior potencies.

This Proposition goes right to the root of the problem of spiritualism and mediumship.

7th. All things that ever were, that are, or that will be, having their record upon the astral light, or tablet of the unseen universe, the initiated adept, by using the vision of his own spirit, can know all that has been known or can be known.

You see the significance of that: if everything and every event that has occurred in the world's history, has its record in the memory of nature itself, and that the unveiled spiritual perception of an Adept Seer can penetrate to it and read it, why you have the explanation of a large part also of the phenomena of spiritualism; for in the lower levels of this memory of nature — the Astral Light as it is called — it is possible for the uninitiated medium, by the extraordinary powers and perceptions that are inherent in the astral body of these people, to reflect — it is true in a distorted way, but nevertheless to reflect — a great deal that is stored in the Astral Light. Furthermore the astral body of the medium is capable of reading, or reflecting, the record that each man carries about in himself. Every one of us has an invisible magnetic sphere or aura, in which is recorded the whole of every incident and event through which we have passed during this earth-life. An ordinary clairvoyant can read, more or less accurately, most of the things that people go to spiritualistic seances to obtain some knowledge of.

8th. Races of men differ in spiritual gifts as in color, stature, or any other external quality; among some peoples seership naturally prevails, among others mediumship. Some are addicted to sorcery, and transmit its secret rules of practice from generation to generation, with a range of psychical phenomena, more or less wide, as the result.

Those are the Fundamental Propositions that I would ask you just to bear in mind as we proceed.

Note the distinction. The Theosophist is interested in spiritual Seership, or Mediatorship, which can only be evolved from above below, within without. The powers of the medium are developed from below, but these faculties of mediumship deleterious as they are, can be developed by almost anybody who is willing to pay the penalty of exchanging the spiritual, intellectual, and moral, for the psychic and material.

Is the Theosophical Movement absolutely opposed to the Spiritualistic Movement, or are there points of contact? What was the situation at the time the "Mahatma Letters" were written? You will find that there was to some extent a sympathetic "rapport" between at least the beginning of the work of H. P. B. and the Spiritualistic Movement, and the reason for that will perhaps be found in the following sentence taken from p. 35:

The only problem to solve is the practical one of how best to promote the necessary study, and give to the spiritualist movement a needed upward impulse.

There is no antagonism there. There is a recognition that the vast numbers and millions of human beings who make up what is called the Spiritualistic Movement are those at least who are not primarily interested in materialism as it is ordinarily understood. On the contrary they believe in forces and powers beyond the comprehension and the activity of the outward physical, objective, thinking man. They seek to explain the various phenomena which take place through mediums and Spiritualistic seances, in terms of the supposed communication between such mediums and those who have passed beyond physical life and entered the realm of the Beyond. They are our allies to the extent that they recognise survival as a fact in Nature. We on the other hand can philosophically and logically bring forward far more convincing evidence — and indeed proof — that survival is a fact, than any medium in any seance.

Where the Theosophist joins issue with the great majority of these psychic, and therefore materialistic, phenomena of the Spiritualistic Movement is in the enormous amount of harm that is done not only to those who produce them here, but to the far greater harm that it does to those entities who have left earth life and who are — thousands of them — drawn back into the vortex of the Spiritualistic seance when they should be left in peace to pursue their way according to the plan that Nature has evolved and laid down for their protection. It is in this fact that must be understood the real and powerful opposition of the Theosophical Movement to all those practices which may be called "The Worship of the Dead." This evocation of the phantoms of the departed is an evil practice. In the East they speak of it as "Bhuta worship" or Devil worship. Why? Simply because it is impossible, owing to the way the Inner Worlds are constructed, for anything other than the Kama-rupic shell to communicate through a medium with those it has left behind on earth. Because there is nothing spiritual in such an ex-human entity the practice is referred to as Bhuta-worship. No purely Spiritual entity is able to descend and communicate with the earth through a medium, because the spheres they inhabit are too far apart.

In other words the Inner worlds that we are dealing with in relation to this physical objective plane may be symbolized as an elliptical orbit of existence separated by two foci, as every ellipse is, and these two foci do not approach each other, and they are represented by Spirit on the one hand and physical matter on the other, and the intermediate connecting conscious link is missing.

Now you will say to me "But all this sounds rather too sweeping in view of the undoubtedly genuine communications that are received from Spiritualistic sources every day of the week. Does the Theosophist deny the truth of every communication that comes through Spiritualistic sources? Well, let me say at once we do not. We deal with facts — or try to — as they are. To show you what our attitude on this subject is, I am going to read you one or two passages that throw light on it. Listen to this, it comes from page 101 of The Mahatma Letters:

It is in this, during such a condition of complete Maya that the Souls or astral Egos of pure, loving sensitives, labouring under the same illusion, think their loved ones come down to them on earth, while it is their own Spirits that are raised towards those in the Deva-Chan. Many of the subjective spiritual communications — most of them when the sensitives are pure minded — are real; but it is most difficult for the uninitiated medium to fix in his mind the true and correct pictures of what he sees and hears.

Again on page 255 you will find the statement that "no self-tutored seer or clairaudient ever saw or heard quite correctly." Continuing:

Some of the phenomena called psychography (though more rarely) are also real. The spirit of the sensitive getting odylised, so to say, by the aura of the Spirit in the Deva-Chan, becomes for a few minutes that departed personality, and writes in the hand writing of the latter, in his language and in his thoughts, as they were during his life time. The two spirits become blended in one; and, the preponderance of one over the other during such phenomena determines the preponderance of personality in the characteristics exhibited in such writings, and "trance speaking." What you call "rapport" is in plain fact an identity of molecular vibration between the astral part of the incarnate medium and the astral part of the disincarnate personality.

There you have two passages showing that communication is possible under certain conditions, and you will note what those conditions are, viz., a pure, loving sensitive (not a paid medium). In another part there is a statement that the bond of love between the sensitive and the one that he seeks to communicate with is that which makes the communication possible, and more accurate and true; and so the consciousness of the sensitive has to be raised until it contacts the entity in its dream of bliss in the Devachan, and there he is in contact with the being that he loved in life, as distinct from the lower psychic and phenomenal contact with the spook of that departed entity which any medium in any kind of a Spiritualistic seance can evoke.

What are we coming to now? We are coming to the fact that the vehicles of consciousness through which a man expresses his lower thoughts, passions and desires are finally cast off by the ego in very much the same way as the body is thrown aside at death. These remains appear as a form bearing the exact shape of the man that you knew in life, and the medium, the clairvoyant, can see this kama-rupic shell. The more materialistic was the man, the more dense and perfect will be the form of the shell — a strange fact, but it is true. Just as any person who has the faculty of psychometry can take a piece of stone from some ancient monument and can tell you incidents that took place around that monument — in exactly the same way the medium can, by the peculiar faculty of the mediumistic temperament, galvanize into activity, just like an electric battery, the cells of memory inherent in the shell. Then, just like a phonograph record, it can be made to play, generally in terms of the personal recollections of his last life or existing in the mind of the sitters in the Spiritualistic seance, repeating the stories and incidents and so on that the personality had passed through. This, if you accept it, will explain the majority of the phenomena of Spiritualism in one shape or form or another.

Let me read you another passage (pp. 113-14), that will show you what our attitude to Spiritualism is on the sympathetic or favorable side:

Anyhow it may show her that it is not against trite Spiritualism that we set ourselves, but only against indiscriminate mediumship and — physical manifestations, — materializations and trance-possessions especially. Could the Spiritualists be only made to understand the difference between individuality and personality, between individual and personal immortality and some other truths, they would be more easily persuaded that Occultists may be fully convinced of the monad's immortality, and yet deny that of the soul — the vehicle of the personal Ego; that they can firmly believe in, and themselves practice spiritual communications and intercourse with the disembodied Egos of the Rupa-Loka, and yet laugh at the insane idea of "shaking hands" with a "Spirit"!; that finally, that as the matter stands, it is the Occultists and the Theosophists who are true Spiritualists, while the modern sect of that name is composed simply of materialistic phenomenalists.

That again clears the ground as to what our attitude in this matter is.

Now I want to turn to an aspect of the problem that we have so far left out in the last lecture that was given on the life after death, and that is in connexion with the exceptions to the general rule. So far we have been considering the difficulty that the Spiritualistic phenomenalist will have in reaching to the real entity. There is no point whatsoever in communicating with the spook. You can do it if you want to, but what interest is there in speaking to an empty shell, a phonographic record? — nothing. It is only the indwelling Spiritual flame of love and intelligence, and all the beautiful human qualities that you love in a man or woman. That is what we love, and it is that which is entirely lacking in the shell or spook, so why worry about it?

Are all entities necessarily so difficult to reach? Unfortunately not — and I say that advisedly — unfortunately not. There are two classes of entities that are relatively easy to reach, and those are the victims of suicide and accidental or violent death. This matter is dealt with in a particularly illuminating way on pp. 109-110 as follows:

. . . we have lost sight of: the suicides and those killed by accident. Both kinds can communicate, and both have to pay dearly for such visits. And now I have again to explain what I mean. Well, this class is the one that the French Spiritists call — "les Esprits Souffrants." They are an exception to the rule, as they have to remain within the earth's attraction, and in its atmosphere — the Kama-Loka — till the very last moment of what would have been the natural duration of their lives. In other words, that particular wave of life-evolution must run on to its shore. But it is a sin and cruelty to revive their memory and intensify their suffering by giving them a chance of living an artificial life; a chance to overload their Karma, by tempting them into open doors, viz., mediums and sensitives, for they will have to pay roundly for every such pleasure. I will explain. The suicides, who, foolishly hoping to escape life, found themselves still alive, — have suffering enough in store for them from that very life. Their punishment is in the intensity of the latter. Having lost by the rash act their seventh and sixth principles, though not forever, as they can regain both — instead of accepting their punishment, and taking their chances of redemption, they are often made to regret life and tempted to regain a hold upon it by sinful means. In the Kama-Loka, the land of intense desires, they can gratify their earthly yearnings but through a living proxy; and by so doing, at the expiration of the natural term, they generally lose their monad for ever. As to the victims of accident — these fare still worse. Unless they were so good and pure, as to be drawn immediately within the Akasic Samadhi, i. e., to fall into a state of quiet slumber, a sleep full of rosy dreams, during which, they have no recollection of the accident, but move and live among their familiar friends and scenes, until their natural life-term is finished, when they find themselves born in the Deva-Chan — a gloomy fate is theirs. Unhappy shades, if sinful and sensual they wander about — (not shells, for their connection with their two higher principles is not quite broken) — until their death hour comes. Cut off in the full flush of earthly passions which bind them to familiar scenes, they are enticed by the opportunities which mediums afford, to gratify them vicariously. They are the Pisachas, the Incubi, and Succubi of mediaeval times. The demons of thirst, gluttony, lust, and avarice, — elementaries of intensified craft, wickedness and cruelty; provoking their victims to horrid crimes, and revelling in their commission! They not only ruin their victims, but these psychic vampires, borne along by the torrent of their hellish impulses, at last, at the fixed close of their natural period of life — they are carried out of the earth's aura into regions where for ages they endure exquisite suffering and end with entire destruction.

And on page 113:

And woe to those whose Trishna will attract them to mediums, and woe to the latter, who tempt them with such an easy Upadana. For in grasping them, and satisfying their thirst for life, the medium helps to develop in them — is in fact the cause of — a new set of Skandhas, a new body, with far worse tendencies and passions than was the one they lost. All the future of this new body will be determined thus, not only by the Karma of demerit of the previous set or group but also by that of the new set of the future being. Were the mediums and Spiritualists but to know, as I said, that with every new "angel guide" they welcome with rapture, they entice the latter into an Upadana which will be productive of a series of untold evils for the new Ego that will be born under its nefarious shadow, and that with every seance — especially for materialization — they multiply the causes for misery, causes that will make the unfortunate Ego fail in his spiritual birth, or be reborn into a worse existence than ever — they would, perhaps, be less lavishing their hospitality.

And now, you may understand why we oppose so strongly Spiritualism and mediumship.

There you have the essence of the subject. We have to remember that Theosophic teaching is not an arbitrary system of thought based upon any one person's say-so, or the imagination of one or two clairvoyants, but on the contrary is the fruit of literally the experiences of thousands of generations of initiated Adept Seers — not mediums — and the truths that we have been discussing tonight, however imperfectly expounded to you, nevertheless are an attempt to explain the actual laws, the actual facts that underlie the whole vast question of psychic phenomena.

It would take days and weeks, I suggest, to endeavor to classify the innumerable classes and the extent of psychic phenomena. It is just endless. The general laws that have been stated are more than sufficient to cover the different categories, and I can truly say that I never yet heard of an example of Spiritualistic or psychic phenomena which could not be explained by one or other of the laws that we find in Theosophical teaching. Although these teachings were given round about 1880-1884, nevertheless they are just as true today as they were then. We do not have to retreat from our position. The only thing that we may like to do is to use more modern examples of what happens in the Spiritualist Movement, because that Movement is changing. The Theosophical Movement does not — it only grows — the genuine Theosophical Movement extends its membership and so on, but it does not alter its position. Why? Because it is rooted in the very laws of nature, and if it were not so rooted it would be a sham and a fraud and a farce, and that is a fact. If Theosophic truth is not more permanent than the findings of orthodox science it is useless. The latter constantly has to change its position, not only from century to century, but from decade to decade and less, as further researches prove that what they thought true yesterday is no longer true today. But note this: no living person (or dead one either) has ever been successfully able to challenge a single statement of H. P. B.'s Teaching; and when you think of the voluminous nature of her writings, it says something for the titanic intellect that she possessed, and it says something for the sublime system of thought that was able to be so consistent with all the guns of materialistic trained upon her work; with all the opposition of the vested interests of the orthodox religions when they came up against the living and dynamic truths of the Esoteric philosophy, not one of them has ever been able to prove her wrong in a single essential particular. Try to do it with an open mind; try to sink Blavatsky's philosophy; try to knock a hole in the bottom of it. I hope you will try, because it must end in your being won over, convinced by your own efforts of the truth of what she taught. There is no compromise possible in the attitude of genuine Theosophists, who are seeking to spread wider and wider the knowledge of these truths. At most we can say, "Here is the teaching that has brought us light and inspiration and an ever-growing knowledge; and those who want it can take it from us if they will accept it, free, gratis and for nothing; and for those who oppose it, who will not take it, who will do everything they can to show these teachings in a wrong light, I would ask them to listen to these few closing words, where Master K. H. shows what Their attitude is to the world as a whole in their Centennial effort to enlighten the Western races. He says, pages 50-1:

If, for generations we have "shut out the world from the Knowledge of our Knowledge," it is on account of its absolute unfitness; and if, notwithstanding proofs given, it still refuses yielding to evidence, then will we at the End of this cycle retire into solitude and our kingdom of silence once more. . . . We have offered to exhume the primeval strata of man's being, his basic nature, and lay bare the wonderful complications of his inner Self — something never to be achieved by physiology or even psychology in its ultimate expression — and demonstrate it scientifically. It matters not to them, if the excavations be so deep, the rocks so rough and sharp, that in diving into that, to them, fathomless ocean, most of us perish in the dangerous exploration; for it is we who were the divers and the pioneers and the men of science have but to reap where we have sown. It is our mission to plunge and bring the pearls of Truth to the surface; theirs — to clean and set them into scientific jewels. And, if they refuse to touch the ill-shapen, oyster-shell, insisting that there is, nor cannot be any precious pearl inside it, then shall we once more wash our hands of my responsibility before human-kind. For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant's Tower of INFINITE THOUGHT, wherein the Titan dwelt, and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it, but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to co-operate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man. And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice guided by the Brethren of the Shadow will be found to prevail.

On Accidents and Suicides

QUESTION: The teachings in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett in regard to accidents and violent deaths, as published in the July English Theosophical Forum seem to me to be like some of the "hard sayings" of the New Testament, and very difficult to understand. (a) Are we to understand that the victims of great wars, earthquakes, cataclysms, etc., are to be included in the category of accidents and violent deaths? Surely the great warrior who suffers a violent death through the purest motives, thus giving his life for his country or kindred, would not come under this awful doom after bodily death.
(b) Again, Is the word "accident" in such cases perhaps a misnomer, and that really there are no accidents, all being the result of karmic law and past incarnations
(c) How does one explain or account for the suicide of the Roman soldiers who fell on their swords (as an honorable way out) when the battle went against them?

ANSWER: (a and b) Undoubtedly those who suffer death prematurely as the result of wars, earthquakes and cataclysms must be considered, from the point of view of the teaching in The Mahatma Letters, as coming in the category of "accidents." This, of course, does not mean that the unfortunate event was in any way contrary to the karma of the individual, but simply to the fact that death was not self-inflicted. The questioner is rightly appalled at the responsibility of the human race for the loss of life inflicted by one nation on another in war; but we can each of us take some comfort from the fact that it is impossible for anyone to suffer death by violence unless such is included in his own karmic destiny, even when that destiny is over-shadowed or dominated by a calamity coming under the category of "national karma." Furthermore, in the instance quoted in this question of a soldier who gives his life for his country with the purest of motives, the merciful and compassionate side of the law inevitably operates for his protection, and, other things being equal, the element of self-sacrifice involved will ensure that he lives out the unexpired term of what would have been his normal expectation of life in the higher regions of the Kama-loka, in a state of quiet slumber, full of pleasant dreams, with no recollection of the circumstances that brought about his death, until be finds himself reborn in the Devachan.

There is nothing hard or terrible about such a fate; but obviously the situation is not so satisfactory for those who die in battle full of hatred and enmity, and in the full tide of earthly passions. The teaching of The Mahatma Letters in this connexion serves not only as a warning, but a wholesome corrective and inspiration to right living whilst we still have the opportunity.

(c) This question is not quite so simple, as the answer must necessarily depend largely upon circumstances, and the customs and traditions of the particular nation. For example, in the Great War of 1914-1918 there was no moral stigma upon the soldiers of any nation who found themselves taken prisoner, and it would seem that such individuals would be going against karmic law if they were to take their own lives to avoid the penalties of defeat.


The Psychology of Chelaship

Friends: I am sure you will bear with me tonight if I seem not very intelligent. I have been rather "under the weather" all the week, and I really have not been able — I doubt whether I shall be able, to do tonight what I really set out to do. At any rate I have tried to find you some of the passages that may perhaps not be familiar to all of you in the book called The Mahatma Letters, as showing some of the psychological aspects of that mysterious "path" called the path of Chelaship, by which is meant the state of being that a student of these ancient mystery Teachings enters into when he reaches the point in his own inner development where, having transcended at least to a certain required degree the limitations of the lower personality, he reaches that condition of inner illumination that fits him in his inner egoic entity to enter into direct communication with those higher instructors of the Esoteric circles who are called the Mahatmas, or the Masters of Wisdom.

As you will see as these readings unfold tonight — at least I hope you will, if I have chosen the right ones — the Masters are concerned not really with the external personalities of those who become their agents, either publicly, or in secret dwelling with them in their own retreats; but, as they told A. P. Sinnett, and even Hume, they are concerned with the actions of the exterior man only when those actions affect beneficially, or, as sometimes happens, for evil, the interior man, the Real Ego, the Real Entity. When this latter becomes affected, then, once such an individual has entered into the relationship of an accepted Chela of the Masters, they are bound to take-note of those particular actions. Where the Real Ego is not affected by outer action, they say: Do what you like, think what you like; act what you like in your exterior personality.

Now I will read from page 259, and I think I will read the greater part of this, which covers so many of the particular aspects of Chelaship that I want to call to your attention:

You must thoroughly put aside the personal element if you would get on with occult study and — for a certain time — even with himself [K. H.]. Realize, my friend, that the social affections have little, if any, control over any true adept in the performance of his duty. In proportion as he rises towards perfect adeptship the fancies and antipathies of his former self are weakened: (as K. H. in substance explained to you) he takes all mankind into his heart and regards them in the mass. Your case is an exceptional one. You have forced yourself upon him, and stormed the position, by the very violence and intensity of your feeling for him — and once he accepted he has to bear the consequences in the future. Yet it cannot be a question with him what the visible Sinnett may be — what his impulses, his failures or successes in his world, his diminished or undiminished regard for him. With the "visible" one we have nothing to do. He is to us only a veil that hides from profane eyes that other ego with whose evolution we are concerned. In the external rupa do what you like, think what you like: only when the effects of that voluntary action are seen on the body of our correspondent — is it incumbent upon us to notice it.

One of the great values of a book like The Mahatma Letters is that if we study it in the way that we are expected to study it, in direct application to ourselves, we find on almost every page and every line some little photograph, as it were, of some type of event or incident with which we may be bound up and connected at any moment in our relationship with the Theosophical work; and therefore we are not so much concerned that it was Mr. Sinnett who did certain things, or Hume who did certain things, because we recognise that they are things that every individual to a greater or less degree either falls into doing, or may be tempted to do, or we may come into contact with others who are doing the very identical things that these early students of Theosophy did. It will show to us, by giving us a certain warning, as well as information, how to observe ourselves, and how to try to conduct ourselves in the extraordinary circumstances that any would-be Chela of the Masters is bound to find himself in directly he takes up serious work in this world of Theosophy. We simply cannot escape it; and if we study the book in that way, well then it simply becomes a perfect mine of information.

Here is a passage that throws a tremendous lot of light on just the little day to day incidents, and the attitude we ought to take towards them:

We are neither pleased nor displeased because you did not attend the Bombay meeting. If you had gone, it would have been better for your "merit": as you did not go you lost that little point. I could and had no right to influence you any way — precisely because you are no chela. It was a trial, a very little one, tho' it seemed important enough to you to make you think of "wife and child's interests." You will have many such; for though you should never be a chela, still we do not give confidences even to correspondents and "proteges" whose discretion and moral pluck have not been well tested. You are the victim of maya. It will be a long struggle for you to tear away the "cataracts" and see things as they are. Hume Sahib is a maya to you as great as any. You see only his mounds of flesh and bones, his official personality, his intellect and influences. What are these, pray, to his true self that you cannot see, do what you may? What has his ability to shine in a Durbar or as the leader of a scientific society to do with his fitness for occult research, or his trustworthiness to keep our secrets? If we wanted anything about our lives and work to be known is not the Theosophist columns open to us? Why should we dribble facts thro' him, to be dressed for the public meal with a currie of nauseous doubts and biting sarcasm fit to throw the public stomach into confusion. To him there is nothing sacred, either within, or without occultism. . . . No Sahib; the outside Hume is as different (and superior) from the inside Hume, as the outside Sinnett is different (and inferior) to the nascent inside "protege." Learn that and sit the latter to watching the editor, least — he play him a bad trick some day. Our greatest trouble is to teach pupils not to be befooled by appearances.
As you have already been notified by Damodar thro' the D----, I did not call you a chela — examine your letter to assure yourself of it — I but jokingly asked O. the question whether he recognised in you the stuff of which chelas are made. You saw only that Bennett had unwashed hands, uncleaned nails and used coarse language and had — to you — a generally unsavoury aspect. But if that sort of thing is your criterion of moral excellence or potential power, how many adepts or wonder producing lamas would pass your muster? This is part of your blindness. Were he to die this minute — and I'll use a Christian phraseology to make you comprehend me the better — few hotter tears would drop from the eye of the recording Angel of Death over other such ill-used men, as the tear Bennett would receive for his share. Few men have suffered — and unjustly suffered — as he has; and as few have a more kind, unselfish and truthful a heart. That's all: and the unwashed Bennett is morally as far superior to the gentlemanly Hume as you are superior to your Bearer.

On another page Master K. H. says that Bennett is, unknown to himself "one of our Agents." That again gives us a clue: that it is possible to be an instrument of these conscious beings and really be unaware of it. Such an agent has to be one who is self-sacrificing, unselfish, engaged upon some humanitarian work, or at least some work in which the Masters themselves are for the time being taking a hand.

What H. P. B. repeated to you is correct: "the natives do not see Bennett's coarseness and K. H. is also a native." What did I mean? Why simply that our Buddha-like friend can see thro' the varnish, the grain of the wood beneath and inside the slimy, stinking oyster — the "priceless pearl within!" B---- is an honest man and of a sincere heart, besides being one of tremendous moral courage and a martyr to hoot. Such our K. H. loves — whereas be would have only scorn for a Chesterfield and a Grandison. I suppose that the stooping of the finished "gentleman" K. H., to the coarse fibred infidel Bennett is no more surprising than the alleged stooping of the "gentleman" Jesus to the prostitute Magdalene: There's a moral smell as well as a physical one good friend. See how well K. H. read your character when he would not send the Lahore youth to talk with you without a change of dress. The sweet pulp of the orange is inside the skin — Sahib: try to look inside boxes for jewels and do not trust to those lying in the lid. I say again: the man is an honest man and a very earnest one; not exactly an angel — they must be hunted for in fashionable churches, parties at aristocratical mansions, theatres and clubs and such other sanctums — but as angels are outside our cosmogony we are glad of the help of even honest and plucky tho' dirty men.
All this I say to you without any malice or bitterness, as you erroneously imagine. You have made progress during the past year — and therefore nearer to us — hence I talk with you as with a friend, whom I hope of finally converting to some of our ways of thinking. Your enthusiasm for our study has a tinge of selfishness in it; even your feeling for K. H. has a mixed character: still you are nearer. Only you trusted Hume too much, and mistrusted him too late, and now his bad karma reacts upon yours, to your detriment. Your friendly indiscretions as to things confided to you alone, by H. P. B. — the cause — produces his rash publicities — the effect. This I am afraid must count against you. Be wiser hereafter. If our rule is to be chary of confidences it is because we are taught from the first that each man is personally responsible to the Law of Compensation for every word of his voluntary production. Mr. Hume would of course call it jesuitry.
Also try to break thro' that great maya against which occult students, the world over, have always been warned by their teachers — the hankering after phenomena. Like the thirst for drink and opium, it grows with gratification. The Spiritualists are drunken with it; they are thaumaturgic sots. If you cannot be happy without phenomena you will never learn our philosophy. If you want healthy, philosophic thought, and can be satisfied with such — let us correspond. I tell you a profound truth in saying that if you (like your fabled Shloma) but choose wisdom all other things will be added unto it — in time. It adds no force to our metaphysical truths that our letters are dropped from space on to your lap or come under your pillow. If our philosophy is wrong a wonder will not set it right. Put that conviction into your consciousness and let us talk like sensible men. Why should we play with Jack-in-the-box; are not our beards grown.
And now it is time to put a stop to my abominable penmanship and so relieve you from the task. Yes — your "cosmogony"! Well, good friend, your Cosmology is — between the leaves of my Khuddhaka Patha — (my family Bible) and making a supreme effort I will try to answer it as soon as I am relieved, for just now I am on duty. It is a life long task you have chosen, and somehow instead of generalizing you manage always to rest upon those details that prove the most difficult to a beginner. Take warning my good Sahib. The task is difficult and K. H. in remembrance of old times, when be loved to quote poetry, asks me to close my letter with the following to your address:
"Does the road wind up-hill all the way?"
"Yes to the very end."
"Will the day's journey take the whole long day?"
"From morn to night, my friend."
Knowledge for the mind, like food for the body, is intended to feed and help to growth, but it requires to be well digested and the more thoroughly and slowly the process is carried out the better both for body and mind.

It is rather an interesting sentence in this last paragraph where the Master M. says that Sinnett always seems to stick on just the particular doctrines that prove the most difficult to beginners. I think we can derive a lesson from that, especially those who may be beginning their studies of Theosophy. I think a student finds after a certain while, that as he reads and studies, an effect has been made upon his inner nature; he has become really inwardly convinced of the truths of these teachings. He finds knowledge beginning to spring naturally within him and his inner spiritual perceptions beginning to open. This brings definitely what Dr. de Purucker calls "proof — that which convinces."

Well, when you have reached that rather early stage you may still come across ideas and teachings and all sorts of things in the history of the Society, maybe in the human element of Theosophical organizations, that strike you as difficult to understand. I think we might take a word of encouragement from the Master here, and say to ourself "Let me put it to one side for the moment" and keep on going on — do not stop. The great difficulties occur when one stops on these sandbanks of thought, and cannot understand about it and doubts if anybody can. Sinnett got stuck on the doctrine of Cycles. He was only a student of three or four years, and the Master had to tell him that he himself had studied fifteen years before he was taught even the elements of that particular subject.

So do not let us worry if we do not understand some particular thing. Do not swallow it wholesale, and do not refuse to study any more. Put it aside, with faith in the Higher Self: that part of your being that after all is Truth itself, which has access to all the knowledge of the Universe. It knows; while the confusion is simply caused by the limitations of one's brain that is unable for the time being to make the effort of will, to rise into union with the Higher Self sufficiently to clarify the spiritual and intellectual vision.

I am choosing passages that will show the psychology of Chelaship rather than other aspects, because it is the psychology of ourselves that we have to deal with in our first steps. This was written by K. H., one of the last letters that Sinnett received, I believe: (from page 351)

My poor, blind friend — you are entirely unfit for practical occultism! Its laws are immutable; and no one can go back on an order once given. She can send on no letters to me, and the letter ought to have been given to Mohini. However, I have read it; and I am determined to make one more effort — (the last that I am permitted) — to open your inner intuition. If my voice, the voice of one who was ever friendly to you in the human principle of his being — fails to reach you as it has often before, then our separation in the present and for all times to come — becomes unavoidable. It pains me for you, whose heart I read so well — every protest and doubt of your purely intellectual nature, of your cold Western reason — notwithstanding. But my first duty is to my Master. And duty, let me tell you, is for us, stronger than any friendship or even love; as without this abiding principle which is the indestructible cement that has held together for so many millenniums, the scattered custodians of nature's grand secrets — our Brotherhood, nay, our doctrine itself would have crumbled long ago into unrecognisable atoms. Unfortunately, however great your purely human intellect, your spiritual intuitions are dim and hazy, having been never developed. Hence, whenever you find yourself confronted by an apparent contradiction, by a difficulty, a kind of inconsistency of occult nature, one that is caused by our time honoured laws and regulations — (of which you know nothing, for your time has not yet come) — forthwith your doubts are aroused, your suspicions bud out — and one finds that they have made mock at your better nature, which is finally crushed down by all these deceptive appearances of outward things! You have not the faith required to allow your Will to arouse itself in defiance and contempt against your purely worldly intellect, and give you a better understanding of things hidden and laws unknown. You are unable I see, to force your better aspirations — fed at the stream of a real devotion to the Maya you have made yourself of me — (a feeling in you, that has always profoundly touched me) — to lift up the head against cold, spiritually blind reason; to allow your heart to pronounce loudly and proclaim that, which it has hitherto only been allowed to whisper: "Patience, patience. A great design has never been snatched at once." You were told, however, that the path to Occult Sciences has to be trodden laboriously and crossed at the danger of life; that every new step in it leading to the final goal, is surrounded by pit-falls and cruel thorns; that the pilgrim who ventures upon it is made first to confront and conquer the thousand and one furies who keep watch over its adamantine gates and entrance — furies called Doubt, Skepticism, Scorn, Ridicule, Envy and finally Temptation — especially the latter; and that he, who would see beyond had to first destroy this living wall; that he must be possessed of a heart and soul clad in steel, and of an iron, never failing determination and yet be meek and gentle, humble and have shut out from his heart every human passion, that leads to evil. Are you all this? Have you ever begun a course of training which would lead to it? No; you know it as I do. You are not born for it; nor are you in a position, — a family man with wife and child to support, with work to do — fitted in any way for the life of an ascetic, not even of a — Mohini. Then why should you complain that powers are not given you, that even proof of our own powers begins to fail you, etc.? True you have offered several times to give up meat and drink, and I have refused. Since you cannot become a regular chela why should you? I thought you had understood all this long ago; that you had resigned yourself, satisfied to wait patiently for future developments and for my personal freedom. You know I was the only one to attempt and persevere in my idea of the necessity of, at least, a small reform, of however slight a relaxation from the extreme rigidity of our regulations if we would see European theosophists increase and work for the enlightenment and good of humanity. I failed in my attempt, as you know. All I could obtain was to be allowed to communicate with a few — you, foremost of all, since I had chosen you as the exponent of our doctrine that we had determined to give out to the world — to some extent at least. . . . Have you ever given a thought, or ever suspected the real reason of my failure? No; for you know nothing of the ins and outs of the work of karma — of the "side-blows" of this terrible Law. . . . And you are unable yet to realize, why we did this and that? Believe me that you will learn some day when you know better — that it was all brought on BY YOURSELF.

Now I wonder if you would like to have some short discussion on some of these matters, ask some questions, or what you like.

QUESTION: An individual might be the instrument through which the Masters might work without knowing it. I suppose no individual could be a definite Chela without knowing it?

ANSWER: I think that he could actually have reached that stage of becoming accepted and not actually know that he had been accepted; but I do think that he would have at least a consciousness of it, if you know what I mean. You see his inner development would have gone forward, and his own aspiration and study and thought would have gone ahead to the point where he would be aware of certain things; but he might still have a doubt as to whether this particular final stage had been reached or not. I think it is possible. There are so many categories in these things: lay chelas, probationer and accepted and initiated chelas, etc.

QUESTION: You do not think it necessary for everybody to become a Chela? Is not there sufficient information obtainable for anybody to work off his own bat, without extraneous help? Is not that the normal course for humanity?

ANSWER: I am inclined to agree with you really. I think it is obvious that this is a special Path in a sense. The Theosophical Society, for example, has been stated not to be a manufactory for Adepts. It is not intended to be. It is intended to provide certain spiritual nourishment, certain philosophy, certain ethics, which will have a definitely accelerating effect upon those who study; and the main idea is inner soul growth. It is quite obvious that the range or scale that the Masters are working on is infinitely greater than the one we are accustomed to work upon. We have concern with only one life: they are entirely indifferent as to whether it takes one life or twenty to accomplish their ends. Nevertheless they are — what shall I say? — creating the causes which affect the soul of man, and this may not show and come to full fruition in the one life. Nevertheless there is a tremendous benefit that the race will experience as a result, for example, of the Theosophical Movement, when those egos who have taken its Teaching deep into their spiritual nature, come again into earth-life. Then I think we can see something happening!

You see, there is a sort of twofold process that goes on. We come into contact with Theosophy; we derive benefit, inspiration from it. Now what are we going to do about it? We are either grateful or we are not. If it has really taken hold of us there can be no argument as to what our duty is to do. Then we must take our coats off so to speak, or put on the uniform of Theosophy, and get down to work. There are so many people who could be a splendid influence and example in the Theosophical Movement today, but who prefer not to soil their beautiful clothes and garments by contact with a Society and organization which is not fashionable or popular. And so they study by themselves. They have our books under their pillows at night, but they do not do a hand's turn towards reciprocating, even by a little, for that which has been poured out for them.

What I am concerned with are the tens of thousands of people who have The Secret Doctrine, of the thousands who have The Mahatma Letters, and who do not work for Theosophy. I tell you there are far more Theosophical students outside of the Societies today than inside, and this is a rotten situation.

After all, the works of H. P. B. — any one of the Theosophical books — have been produced by the sweat and labor in every case of members of the Theosophical Society. They have poured out their labor. H. P. B. gave everything she had; the same with Judge and K. T. and others who have passed on. Now if only the people who could help in this Work would come and give their services, and let it be known that they stood for Theosophy, that they believed in Theosophy, and that they were going to make this poor stumbling instrument really a success, our Cause would go forward. But so many of them think it entails some sort of sacrifice, in social and other matters, to be known as a Theosophist — that is what I mean!

QUESTION: Would Theosophy, correctly applied to the teachings of the New Testament, fully endorse and explain the teachings of Christ and the New Testament, and enable the Ministers of the Church, for example, to stand up and refute the questioners who doubt the possibility of the miracles he performed, and so on?

ANSWER: I would say this: that a knowledge of Theosophy applied to the New Testament will confirm all that there is therein of Theosophy, in other words all that there is therein of the Teachings of the Avatara Jesus, which is by no means to say necessarily that everything in the New Testament owes its origin to the Ancient Wisdom. With a certain amount we would be prepared to agree, but a certain amount owes its origin to later interpretations, as has happened to every one of the Great Religions. They have all at some time had someone monkeying with the text. But there is not a great deal to grumble at in the teachings of the New Testament. There is some extremely high and pure Esoteric Theosophy too, because it is not written so that he who runs may read. It needs the key of Theosophy.

I imagine that the point of your comment was somewhat to the effect: Could we not do something to appeal to a Christian-minded world by showing this illumination of Theosophy in explanation of their own teachings? You see, H. P. B. frequently said that the day of Christianity was doomed, and there seems to have been hardly enough of the Teachings of the Master given to stand the demands made upon it by the modern world. After all, the very scanty teachings we find in the New Testament were only the product, supposedly, of two or three years' work, and none of them were written down at the time. They were handed on by word of mouth, and there is very little philosophy in it. There is a lot of ethics and practice, which we all need very much, and I think we could study it with a great deal of profit; but when all is said and done I do not think that there is enough there to meet the modern demands; and that is why some two thousand (nearly two thousand) years after the coming of the Avatara Jesus we have this tremendous flood of Knowledge and Wisdom that was the mission of Blavatsky to bring. You have a new Messenger come to the world, and a new Teaching, a new presentation of Truth, not contradictory of any of the old Teachings, but taking you infinitely further. I do not think, somehow, that the line of effort is going to be along the way of regenerating to any extent the Christian field. I think — I only give my personal opinion — that as is happening today, innumerable Ministers are taking the teachings of Theosophy and proceeding to interpret their own teachings in terms of Theosophy, without acknowledging the source, to the great profit of their Sunday congregations! But I do not think they will make Christianity a success thereby. It is a form that seems to have served its purpose. But I really do think that we, living in a Christian world, should be well instructed in the Teachings of the New Testament.

QUESTION: You said there were thousands who had The Mahatma Letters and The Secret Doctrine not in the Society. Well, you see, those things give you plenty of knowledge, and don't you think the second step on the Path is not at all liked by the people? It is most unpopular.

ANSWER: I do not know. I have met some of these people, and I am also acquainted with the reasons that keep them out. I do think it is a mighty big problem, because if the convinced Theosophists in the world were to stand up, one and all, and say: "I am a Theosophist first" — and then took for the organization which has kept true to the light of H. P. B. — I tell you it would work a very big thing. We do not know but what that day may come, and personally I want to see it, because every one of us who has anything whatsoever to give to Theosophy — I do not mean to Theosophy, I mean to this Work — ought to be prepared to give it. We ought to be willing to dwell in it, with it, and sink or swim with it — accept the Karma of the group to which we belong. That is the only criterion of our manhood or womanhood, otherwise it is taking, and giving nothing. Surely it must be so!

QUESTION: What are some of the reasons of those who refuse to become members?

ANSWER: They just do not like organizations; they have seen the tribulations — not of our Society, but another one; and they do not like the happenings. They do not want to be associated with it. Theosophy to that extent has got a bad name. A few things get around as having been done by someone who is a Theosophist, and then the reputation is gone; and that I think is the main trouble. They have become disappointed with organizations, and they have gone away from them.

I think that Theosophists have to realize that to make their Society attractive first means living Theosophy and doing Theosophy; and if we find a way of really making our Brotherhood a true Fellowship, spiritually speaking, the problem is solved, because obviously it is a very attractive thing to belong to; but if people can see that we do not do what we declare we are setting out to do, then they are not interested. I think this is probably the main key.


The Problem of Evil

In one of our recent studies we made an attempt to deal with the Theosophical teachings on the nature of God, and as to whether there existed, according to our philosophy, that which the theologians call a Personal God. You will remember our conclusion was that such a conception as the orthodox theological conception of an extra-cosmic deity was seen to be a philosophical absurdity, and that the Teachers who sent H. P. B. forth were endeavoring to cast their teachings on this vastly important subject in a form that would give a shock to the preconceptions that we in the Western world have, based upon the dogmatic conceptions that we have been brought up under in our orthodox training. Closely related with the right understanding of the teachings about God, is the great mystery of the origin of evil — one of the most difficult philosophical problems, I suppose, that the mind of man can possibly tackle; one which it is utterly beyond me to understand completely; and I think the majority of Theosophical students would find a similar difficulty in putting into any comprehensible shape the immense amount of material that H. P. B. gave in The Secret Doctrine on such questions as Satan, the Curse, the Church doctrine of original sin, and so on.

I personally have never mastered all the infinite complexity of the relationship, for example, of Jehovah, Adam Kadmon, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and their relationship to the Twelve Tribes, and so on and so forth. It is most complicated. Therefore I will not attempt to do more tonight than to stay within the limits of those aspects of the teaching which one can make some kind of attempt to understand. In order to understand this problem of Evil, we shall have to use certain of what they call the Golden Keys, or the Seven jewels — those principal and fundamental doctrines of esotericism which really comprise in their full exposition, you may say, the whole fabric or groundwork of Theosophical teaching.

The particular jewels or Keys that we have to try to use are those of Reincarnation and Karma. These are the keys to an understanding of the problem of Evil. We are particularly concerned with the teaching as it is given in The Mahatma Letters. There is not a great deal of space devoted there to this subject; but what there is is pretty powerful. I am going to begin by reading you probably one of the most controversial letters that was ever given in the early days of the Movement. It is known as the letter to the Theosophists of Prayag, and it gives us a number of very arresting statements on this subject of Evil, God, and a few other things.

First of all, I must say that this particular letter is signed by H. P. Blavatsky, addressed to the Prayag Theosophists, and purports to be a message or a resume of teaching given by Master M. to H. P. B. on this subject, to hand on to the Theosophists of that time. In the quotation, all remarks in parentheses are H. P. B.'s comments on the Master's words. He says (and this is his attitude to almost all orthodoxy):

What have we, the disciples of the true Arhats, of esoteric Buddhism and of Sang-gyas to do with the Shasters and Orthodox Brahmanism? There are 100 of thousands of Fakirs, Sannyasis and Saddhus leading the most pure lives, and yet being as they are, on the path of error, never having had an opportunity to meet, see or even hear of us. Their forefathers have driven away the followers of the only true philosophy upon earth away from India and now, it is not for the latter to come to them but to them to come to us if they want us.

The reference there is to the Hindus driving Gautama Buddha out of India.

Which of them is ready to become a Buddhist, a Nastika as they call us? None. Those who have believed and followed us have had their reward. Mr. Sinnett and Hume are exceptions. Their beliefs are no barrier to us for they have none.

This is interesting, showing that blind belief is not a necessary or a right approach to the study of the Divine Wisdom. An open mind, yes; purity of heart and motive, also yes; but blind credulity or belief or slavish dependence upon external authority? No!

They may have had influences around them, bad magnetic emanations the result of drink, Society and promiscuous physical associations (resulting even from shaking hands with impure men) but all this is physical and material impediments which with a little effort we could counteract and even clear away without much detriment to ourselves.

You may think it is irrelevant, but note the comparison that he is immediately going to draw from that:

Not so with the magnetism and invisible results proceeding from erroneous and sincere beliefs. Faith in the Gods and God, and other superstitions attracts millions of foreign influences, living entities and powerful agents around them, with which we would have to use more than ordinary exercise of power to drive them away. We do not choose to do so. We do not find it either necessary or profitable to lose our time waging war to the unprogressed Planetaries who delight in personating gods and sometimes well known characters who have lived on earth.

I think one of the most striking phrases is this: "erroneous and sincere." If we put this together with another passage in which he says "There is no more potent barrier to arriving at the Truth than a sincere and erroneous belief," it is a thing that rather shocks us. Sincerity by itself is nothing, carries us nowhere. It is, of course, an indispensable necessity, a sine qua non to any progress; because obviously its opposite, hypocrisy, is something which will be a barrier to anybody who seeks Truth; but the mere fact that a person holds certain ideas with sincerity is no excuse if, for example, those ideas are destructive. This is something that we need, I think, to pay a certain amount of attention to.

There are Dhyan-Chohans and "Chohans of Darkness," not what they term devils but imperfect "Intelligences" who have never been born on this or any other earth or sphere no more than the "Dhyan Chohans" have and who will never belong to the "builders of the Universe," the pure Planetary Intelligences, who preside at every Manvantara while the Dark Chohans preside at the Pralayas. Explain this to Mr. Sinnett (I CAN'T) — tell him to read over what I said to them in the few things I have explained to Mr. Hume; and let him remember that as all in this universe is contrast (I cannot translate it better) so the light of the Dhyan Chohans and their pure intelligence is contrasted by the "Ma-Mo Chohans" — and their destructive intelligence. These are the gods the Hindus and Christians and Mahomed and all others of bigoted religions and sects worship; and so long as their influence is upon their devotees we would no more think of associating with or counteracting them in their work than we do the Red-Caps on earth whose evil results we try to palliate but whose work we have no right to meddle with so long as they do not cross our path. (You will not understand this, I suppose. But think well over it and you will. M. means here, that they have no right or even power to go against the natural or that work which is prescribed to each class of beings or existing things by the law of nature.

In other words, it is perfectly all right for the tiger to kill and the bird of prey to seek its food. Nature does not hold them in any way criminally responsible. The Law of Retribution or Nemesis does not overtake them for exercising their natural function.

The Brothers, for instance could prolong life but they could not destroy death, not even for themselves. They can to a degree palliate evil and relieve suffering; they could not destroy evil.

The Masters themselves, for instance, we are told, live an inconceivably long time, even centuries; but they cannot conquer death — that is, for their physical bodies. Death is not regarded as an evil at all, but merely as a liberator, opening a door into a further progression and to a return to earth. Actually, they conquer death by achieving their immortality, but as far as the body is concerned, they can do no more than prolong its life. Similarly, they can to a degree palliate suffering, but they could not destroy evil.

No more can the Dhyan Chohans impede the work of the Mamo Chohans, for their Law is darkness, ignorance, destruction etc., as that of the former is Light, knowledge and creation. The Dhyan Chohans answer to Buddh, Divine Wisdom and Life in blissful knowledge, and the Ma-mos are the personification in nature of Shiva, Jehovah and other invented monsters with Ignorance at their tail.

Now we have to make some kind of effort to understand this point of view about the psychic and spiritual harm that dependence upon what he describes as God and Gods does to the human individual. Remember first of all that he is writing to Easterners — to Hindus, whose whole outlook has become degenerate by belief in the crores of gods in the Hindu Pantheon, gods propitiated, according to the instruction of the priesthood, by all kinds of ceremonial rites, and by the liberal handing over of large sums of money to the priests, and so on. It is from this point of view, I think, that the Master is writing: the dependence upon ceremonial rites as a means of purification, the dependence upon any other human being — be he priest or any other — to intercede for you that you may be saved from the result of your own transgressions. The essence of it is that in looking outside yourself to an external deity or to the lesser beings, called the gods in this sense of the term, the individual attracts around him hosts of unprogressed planetary beings of one sort or another (and they can be very much below the level of human beings) who thus masquerade with all kinds of high-sounding names and titles, leading their victims to do all sorts of rather ridiculous things, as the history of the Spiritualist Movement has shown.

There is a passage in The Secret Doctrine, it is only a few lines on page 389 of Vol. 2, where H. P. B. says:

There is no Devil, no Evil, outside mankind to produce a Devil. Evil is a necessity in, and one of the supporters of the manifested universe. It is a necessity for progress and evolution, as night is necessary for the production of Day, and Death for that of Life -- that man may live for ever.

Elsewhere she gives an illustration of a flower or a plant that is bathed during the daytime in the scorching heat of the sun, but the night-time is an absolute necessity for the life of the plant. Under cyclic law night follows day, death follows birth, darkness follows light, and light follows darkness, for ever and ceaselessly.

Let us try to look at this problem of evil for a moment from the Cosmic point of view. The believers in a personal God must necessarily believe in a personal Devil — they call it Satan, the Adversary, the Evil One — an entity which I suppose every sincere Christian or Roman Catholic would believe in quite definitely. The Theosophical teaching simply has no place for either of these two entities at all. It proceeds to show that Light or Spirit fructifies matter and brings forth the Universe. All beings come into existence, not at the same level, but at whatever level they left off at the close of their last existence. Even at the commencement of the Universe the germs or seeds of these entities that existed in past Manvantaras come over with their potentialities at this, that or the other stage of unfoldment and development. Now the Manifested Universe, which is a material phenomenon — that is to say it is built of substance or matter — is obviously composed of a graded series of beings from the lowest forms of life such as those you find, for example, in the mineral Kingdom, up to the highest God or Dhyan-Chohan or Planetary Spirit that you can conceive of. Now the point, as I see it, that we have to grasp in order to understand something of the problem of Evil, is that the higher Spiritual beings are the motivators, as it were, those who supply the energy, the direction and in certain rungs of the Hierarchy of Being even supply the Government — the external government — of the Planet. But all the spiritual beings have to work through lower beings, and the lower beings through lower beings still, in exactly the same way as the Spirit in us has to manifest through the vehicles of matter of the personality.

Now then, Evil can be understood as the shadow of Light. Our personalities, what are these but the shadows of the Light within? We have to have personalities in order to express ourselves through and contact the sphere of matter in this world! Evil comes about as the sum total of the strivings of all the personalities in the Cosmos: beings whose consciousness is embodied in personas, masks, and more or less buried there — not aware of the Light. It is only by entering on the Path of Light which leads to Knowledge and Wisdom and union with the Light, that they cease to be in conflict with other beings. Then they cease to recognise Evil at all. Evil simply is the result of not understanding the Law. Human beings who do not practice the first law of the Universe, which is that of harmony in their relationship with their fellows, are generating Evil from the point of view of this philosophy. Then Karma steps in — Karma-Nemesis in fact — and brings them suffering as inevitably as the wheel of the ox-cart follows the hoofs of the ox that draws it, to use the words of the Buddha. This suffering does not come as a punishment, but simply as the natural result of the performance of the deed which upsets the balance and harmony in that particular sphere of life.

I want to read you some passages from The Secret Doctrine about this, because they are intimately connected with a doctrine so very important to the Theosophical Movement: the doctrine or the principle of Brotherhood. In a little while I shall read you a passage from The Mahatma Letters which states that the origin of Evil, or two-thirds of the causes of evil that beset humanity, is to be found in various existing forms of orthodox religions, and the Sacerdotal castes, the Priesthood of the Churches, in the sense — I can only give you my understanding, as I tried to explain just now — in the sense that it kills man's own self-reliance. This is the main point.

Now let us turn to page 642, Vol. I of The Secret Doctrine:

KARMA-NEMESIS is the creator of nations and mortals, but once created, it is they who make of her either a fury or a rewarding Angel.

What exactly is the connexion between that and the other statement I am going to read you in a little while, that two-thirds of the evils are caused by the Sacerdotal caste of the priesthood of the Churches? If you put the two together, remembering Katherine Tingley's statement that unbrotherliness is the insanity of the age, I think we have got the key to our problem. The whole purpose of the Theosophical Movement is thrown into confusion, in fact it fails of its purpose, if we do not understand what is meant by harmony in this sense. See what the Master says here — or H. P. B. it is writing:

This state will last till man's spiritual intuitions are fully opened, which will not happen before we fairly cast off our thick coats of matter; until we begin acting from within, instead of ever following impulses from without; namely, those produced by our physical senses and gross selfish body. Until then the only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony — a Brotherhood IN ACTU, and altruism not simply in name. The suppression of one single bad cause will suppress not one, but a variety of bad effects. And if a Brotherhood or even a number of Brotherhoods may not be able to prevent nations from occasionally cutting each other's throats — still unity in thought and action, and philosophical research into the mysteries of being, will always prevent some, while trying to comprehend that which has hitherto remained to them a riddle, from creating additional causes in a world already so full of woe and evil. (p. 644)

If evil comes from human action, and the human action comes from an identification of man's consciousness with his vehicles, the matter of which he is composed, we understand Katherine Tingley's further injunction — I think it is an amazingly significant statement: "If you want to conquer yourselves you have to unite in brotherhood. You cannot do it by yourselves." I believe that to be true. There is no success in the study of occult science except in a spiritual brotherhood, where men and women act together in true spiritual solidarity. It is the meaning, the basis, of our Theosophic work.

Shall I take time to tell you something about what is called the Curse and the doctrine of Original Sin, which when I was a boy I was taught began with the actions of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden — and that was supposed to be four or five thousand years ago? According to the Esoteric teaching, the Curse was not some feat of Deity, a rigid Deity; it did not come about because of the exercise of the procreative and natural powers given to man; but it did come about as a result of the abuse of the same powers.

I am going to read you a page (56) in The Mahatma Letters that deals with the origin of evil, and you will find one or two references there which will take us to The Secret Doctrine, I think:

Evil has no existence per se and is but the absence of good and exists but for him who is made its victim. It proceeds from two causes, and no more than good is it an independent cause in nature. Nature is destitute of goodness or malice she follows only immutable laws when she either gives life and joy, or sends suffering [and] death, and destroys what she has created. Nature has an antidote for every poison and her laws a reward for every suffering. The butterfly devoured by a bird becomes that bird, and the little bird killed by an animal goes into a higher form. It is the blind law of necessity and the eternal fitness of things, and hence cannot be called Evil in Nature. The real evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. Humanity then alone is the true source of evil. Evil is the exaggeration of good, the progeny of human selfishness and greediness. Think profoundly and you will find that save death — which is no evil but a necessary law, and accidents which will always find their reward in a future life — the origin of every evil whether small or great is in human action, in man whose intelligence makes him the one free agent in Nature. It is not nature that creates diseases, but man. The latter's mission and destiny in the economy of nature is to die his natural death brought by old age; save accident, neither a savage nor a wild (free) animal die of disease. Food, sexual relations, drink, are all natural necessities of life; yet excess in them brings on disease, misery, suffering, mental and physical, and the latter are transmitted as the greatest evils to future generations, the progeny of the culprits.

In connexion with certain passages in the above, study what is said in The Secret Doctrine, in that part which deals with the myth of Prometheus, and the abuse of the procreative powers, the creative functions, in man by the races in the fourth Root-Race, "when," says H. P. B., "the spiritual part of man's being was still the master," or had still got the upper hand, or could have had it. It was at this time, when man had full intelligent consciousness, and therefore responsibility, that the intelligence was used simply to degrade the temple of man's divinity by the most wholesale animal indulgences in every way, beyond our conception today; and it was also at this time that the so-called Curse was pronounced. That curse, as Master K. H. says in this passage here, resulted in man's being, instead of the healthy king of animal creation, the wealthiest heir on the Globe to every scrofulous and hereditary disease. It all goes back to that period; and we, the present humanity, are those who were the Egos incarnated at that time. That is why, presumably, we live in the kind of civilization that we do today. You can see where evil has come in just on that one score alone.

H. P. B. points out (I think it should be drawn attention to) that the creative force, for example, in the animal kingdom is not abused at all. They have their annual seasons, and they use them correctly; but man uses intelligence, and degrades the Divine power. There is nothing — what shall I say? — wrong or incurring retribution in the rightful use of the creative powers, but in their wrong use, in their abuse. Then Nature steps in and humanity pays the price. There is no evil or devil outside of conscious, self-conscious, thinking man.

Ambition, the desire of securing happiness and comfort for those we love, by obtaining honours and riches, are praiseworthy natural feelings but when they transform man into an ambitious cruel tyrant, a miser, a selfish egotist they bring untold misery on those around him; on nations as well as on individuals. All this then — food, wealth, ambition, and a thousand other things we have to leave unmentioned, becomes the source and cause of evil whether in its abundance or through its absence. Become a glutton, a debauchee, a tyrant, and you become the originator of diseases, of human suffering and misery. Lack all this and you starve, you are despised as a nobody and the majority of the herd, your fellow men, make of you a sufferer your whole life. Therefore it is neither nature nor an imaginary Deity that has to be blamed, but human nature made vile by selfishness. Think well over these few words; work out every cause of evil you can think of and trace it to its origin and you will have solved one-third of the problem of evil. And now, after making due allowance for evils that are natural and cannot be avoided, — and so few are they that I challenge the whole host of Western metaphysicians to call them evils or to trace them directly to an independent cause — I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity. Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them. Is not man ever ready to commit any kind of evil if told that his God or Gods demand the crime?; voluntary victim of an illusionary God, the abject slave of his crafty ministers. The Irish, Italian and Slavonian peasant will starve himself and see his family starving and naked to feed and clothe his padre and pope. For two thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste, Brahmins alone feeding on the fat of the land, and to-day the followers of Christ and those of Mahomet are cutting each other's throats in the names of and for the greater glory of their respective myths.

It is a terrible indictment, but it is also terribly true.

Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.

The letter concludes with the Master saying: Well now, after writing all this, you will say to us, who claim to be judges, "What about you? You have your priesthood; you have your Bhikkus; you have your Buddhist monks"; and he says: Yes, but they do not teach dependence upon an external Savior nor upon an external God. He says: Moreover, although they are supported by the people, they never accept money; our Bhikkus accept only food, and spend their lives in the service of the people; and then he ends up by saying that the ethical teaching of Gautama Buddha is the surest way to overcome misery, evil, and suffering.

It is the very essence of these ethics that we have in the Theosophical philosophy.


The Writing of the Mahatma Letters

I have received a number of requests to publish a reply to two questions that are asked by students over and over again, and these questions may be formulated as follows:

In your Introduction to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett you refer to the letters as having been signed by the Masters with their own hands. You may or may not have intended this to be taken literally, but a careful study of the letters in the opinion of many intelligent people reveals that some of the letters seem to drop below the standard that one would attribute to a supra-mundane or Mahatmic intelligence. What is the explanation for this if the Mahatmas M. and K. H. were actually responsible for them?

The only satisfactory way of answering these very important questions is to see what H. P. B. and the Masters themselves had to say upon the subject. As a matter of fact the Mahatmas M. and K. H. did not use their high intelligence to supervise the whole process of transmitting quite a number of these letters. This H. P. B. states quite clearly on page 480 of The Mahatma Letters in these words:

Has Master K. H. written Himself all His letters? How many chelas have been precipitating and writing them — heaven only knows.

The Master himself writes on page 232:

In noticing M's opinion of yourself expressed in some of his letters — (you must not feel altogether so sure that because they are in his handwriting, they are written by him, though of course every word is sanctioned by him to serve certain ends).

To understand the problem properly the whole of Letter CXL (pp. 478-81) should be read carefully, and in addition pp. 470-1 and 422-6. In order to save space we only print the more important passages, and draw the reader's attention particularly to the following on page 422:

The letter in question was framed by me while on a journey and on horse-back. It was dictated mentally, in the direction of, and 'precipitated' by, a young chela not yet expert at this branch of Psychic chemistry, and who had to transcribe it from the hardly visible imprint. Half of it, therefore, was omitted and the other half more or less distorted by the "artist." When asked by him at the time, whether I would look it over and correct I answered, imprudently, I confess — "anyhow will do, my boy — it is of no great importance if you skip a few words." I was physically very tired by a ride of 48 hours consecutively, and (physically again) — half asleep. Besides this I had very important business to attend to psychically and therefore little remained of me to devote to that letter. It was doomed, I suppose. When I woke I found it had already been sent on, and, as I was not then anticipating its publication, I never gave it from that time a thought.

Then on page 423:

Two factors are needed to produce a perfect and instantaneous mental telegraphy — close concentration in the operator, and complete receptive passivity in the "reader" — subject. Given a disturbance of either condition, and the result is proportionately imperfect. The "reader" does not see the image as in the "telegrapher's" brain, but as arising in his own. When the latter's thought wanders, the psychic current becomes broken, the communication disjointed and incoherent. In a case such as mine, the chela had, as it were, to pick up what he could from the current I was sending him and, as above remarked, patch the broken bits together as best he might.
Page 424. Well, as soon as I heard of the charge — the commotion among my defenders having reached me across the eternal snows — I ordered an investigation into the original scraps of the impression. At the first glance I saw that it was I, the only and most guilty party, — the poor little boy having done but that which he was told. . . .

and later on the same page:

I transcribe them with my own hand this once, whereas the letter in your possession was written by the chela. I ask you also to compare this handwriting with that of some of the earlier letters you received from me. Bear in mind, also the "O. L.'s" emphatic denial at Simla that my first letter had ever been written by myself. I felt annoyed at her gossip and remarks then; it may serve a good purpose now.

These passages from The Mahatma Letters prove and confirm H. P. B.'s statement in the letter quoted above from page 480. In a letter to me on this subject Dr. de Purucker expressed himself as follows:

H. P. B. stated specifically, and more than once, that it was the rarest thing in the world for any one of the Mahatmans, or even for a high chela, personally to write a letter, i. e. indite any communication with his own hand. There are very, very few, very rare exceptions, such as one or two, it may be three cases of direct precipitation from the Master or from a high chela, and possibly one or two brief notes, maybe a telegram or two, written by the Master's own hand. H. P. B. states positively that not only was such writing in the Master's own hand the rarest thing, but that practically in every case, with the few exceptions named, the Master impressed mentally his chela or amanuensis, or chelas or amanuenses, to write thus or so, to such or another person. Then the chela, if the receptivity was good, would get the message clearly from the Master's mind along the etheric currents, and in writing it down, if the receptivity was perfect the resulting production would be practically the Master's own words, and actually his own handwriting, real or adopted — whichever Master it might be who was the source, K. H. or M. or some other. If receptivity on the part of the chela or amanuensis was less perfect, there would be the immediate entrance into the psychology of the receiving chela of more or less, usually less, of the chela's own mental idiosyncrasies, ways of phrasing, what Hodgson and the Hare brothers call Americanisms or Gallicisms, etc., etc.

The writing of these letters was a mystery and must remain so for all but the initiates. The last passage we quote however could hardly be more definite.

Page 296. Another of our customs, when corresponding with the outside world, is to entrust a chela with the task of delivering the letter or any other message; and if not absolutely necessary — to never give it a thought. Very often our very letters — unless something very important and secret — are written in our handwritings by our chelas. Thus, last year, some of my letters to you were precipitated, and when sweet and easy precipitation was stopped — well I had but to compose my mind, assume an easy position, and — think, and my faithful "Disinherited" had but to copy my thoughts, making only occasionally a blunder.

In conclusion, if it is contended that it would have been better if I had not stated in the Introduction that the letters were written by the Masters in their own hands, I agree. When I wrote that sentence I had not had time to assimilate fully the whole content of the letters, and therefore this particular aspect of the matter had not clearly taken shape in my consciousness. One of these days, when a new issue is being printed, it can be corrected.

The above explanation should be sufficient to clear up this problem, for any serious student who will take the trouble to read carefully the page references given to The Mahatma Letters.


Part 5

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