Theosophical University Press Edition
Received London, Summer, 1884.
You ask me "to throw light" upon the "new distressing event" arising from Mr. A. Gebhard's fanciful accusation? For the matter of that, dozens of events of a far more distressing character, each of them calculated to crush the hapless woman chosen as victim, are ripe and ready to burst over her head wounding as badly the Society. Again, I should have imagined that, after my signal failure to satisfy your rigorous logicians in the "Billing-Massey" and "Kiddle-Light" incidents, my personal opinion and explanations were held in small honour at the West? You seem, however, to think with Whewell that "every failure is a step to success" and your confidence in me must alarm seriously your friends?
With your permission, I have left the explanation of the "distressing incident" to Mad. B. herself. As she wrote to you, however, only simple truth, there is very little chance for her of being believed, save perhaps, by her few immediate friends — if she has any left by the time this reaches you.
You must have understood by this time, my friend, that the centenial (1) attempt made by us to open the eyes of the blind world — has nearly failed: in India — partially, in Europe — with a few exceptions — absolutely. There is but one chance of salvation for those who still believe: to rally together and face the storm bravely.
Let the eyes of the most intellectual among the public be opened to the foul conspiracy against theosophy that is going on in the missionary circles and in one year's time you will have regained your footing. In India it is: "either Christ or the Founders (!!) let us stone them to death!" They have nearly finished killing one — they are now attacking the other victim — Olcott. The padris are as busy as bees. The P.R.S. has given them an excellent opportunity of making capital of their ambassador. — Mr. Hodgson fell quite easily a victim to false evidence; and the scientific a priori impossibility of such phenomena helping the reality of the phenomena he was sent to investigate and report upon is utterly and totally discredited. He may plead as an excuse the personal disappointment he felt, which made him turn in a fury against the alleged authors of the "gigantic swindle"; but there is no doubt that if the Society collapses it will be due to him. We may add the praiseworthy efforts of our mutual friend of Simla (A. O. Hume) who has not, however, resigned, — and those of Mr. Lane Fox. What Society could withstand in its integrality the effects of two such tongues as those of Messrs. H. and L. F.! While the former taking into his confidence every theosophist of note, assures him that since the beginning of the Society not one of the letters alleged to have come from the Masters was genuine, Mr. L. Fox goes about preaching that he is only carrying out the wishes of the Master (M\) in acquainting the theosophists with all the defects of the T.S. and the mistakes of its Founders whose Karma it is to betray the sacred trust they had received from their gurus.
After this you will, perhaps, blame less our chelas for detesting the Europeans at H.Q., and saying that it is they who have ruined the Society.
Thus, my friend, there comes a forcible end to the projected occult instructions. Everything was settled and prepared. The secret Committee, appointed to receive our letters and teachings and to convey them to the Oriental group, was ready, when a few Europeans — for reasons I prefer not mentioning — took upon themselves the authority of reversing the decision of the whole Council. They declined (though the reason they gave was another one) — to receive our instructions through Subba Row and Damodar, the latter of whom is hated by Messrs. L. Fox and Hartmann. Subba R. resigned and Damodar went to Tibet. Are our Hindus to be blamed for this?
And now Hume and Hodgson have goaded Subba Row to fury by telling him, that as a friend and fellow occultist of Madam B.'s he was suspected by the Govt of being also a spy. It is the history of the "Count St. Germain" and Cagliostro told over again. But I may tell to you, who have ever been faithful and true to me, that the fruits of your devotion shall not be allowed to decay and crumble down into dust from the tree of action. And now, may I not say a few words that may prove useful?
It is an old truism that none of you have ever formed an accurate idea of either the "Masters" or the laws of Occultism they are guided by. For instance, I, because I had received a bit of Western education — must needs be fancied as the type of a "gentleman" who strictly conforms his action to the laws of etiquette and regulates his intercourse with Europeans, after the regulations of your world and Society! Nothing could be more erroneous: The absurd picture of an Indo-Tibetan ascetic playing at Sir C. Grandison need hardly be noticed. Nevertheless, having failed to answer to the said description, I was hung in effigy, and publicly branded and degraded, as Mad. B. would say. What a poor parody! When shall you realize that I am nothing of the kind? That if, to a certain extent, I may be familiar with your (to me) peculiar notions about the propriety of this thing or another, and the obligations of a Western gentleman, so are you, to a degree, acquainted with the manners and customs of China and Tibet. For all that, as you would decline to conform yourself to our habits and live according to our customs — so do I, preferring our modes of life to yours, and our ideas to those of the West. I am accused of "plagiarism." We, of Tibet and China, know not what you mean by the word. I do, but this is no reason, perhaps, why I should accept your literary laws. Any writer has the privilege of taking out whole sentences from the dictionary of Pai-wouen-yen-fu the greatest in the world, full of quotations from every known writer and containing all the phrases ever used — and to frame them to express his thought. This does not apply to the Kiddle case which happened just as I told you. But you may find, perchance throughout my letters twenty detached sentences which may have been already used in books or MSS. When you write upon some subject you surround yourself with books of references etc.: when we write upon something the Western opinion about which is unknown to us, we surround ourselves with hundreds of paras upon this particular topic from dozens of different works — impressed upon the akasa. What wonder then, that not only a chela entrusted with the work and innocent of any knowledge of the meaning of plagiarism, but even myself — should use occasionally a whole sentence already existent applying it only to another — our own idea? I have told you of this before and it is no fault of mine if your friends and enemies will not remain satisfied with the explanation. When I shall undertake to write an original prize-essay I may be more careful. For the Kiddle business it is your own fault. Why have you printed the Occult World before sending it to me for revision? I would have never allowed the passage to pass; nor the "Lal Sing" either foolishly invented as half a nom de plume by Djual K. and carelessly allowed by me to take root without thinking of the consequences. We are not infallible, all-foreseeing "Mahatmas" at every hour of the day, good friend: none of you have even learned to remember so much.
And now for Occultism.
We were expected to allow the Occult forces to be treated in the same manner as their rind — physical forces in nature. We are taken to task for not giving out to every man of learning who had joined the T.S. the fruits of the researches of generations of occultists who had all devoted their lives to it, and who had as often lost them in the great struggle of wrenching her secrets from the heart of nature. Unless we did that — Occultism could not be recognized: it has to remain within the limbo of magic and superstition, spiritualism — in the sight of some — fraud in the opinion of others. Who thought for one instant that an occult law revealed ceased to be occult to become public property, unless it was given to an occultist who dies before he betrays the secret.
What grumblings, what criticism on Devachan and kindred subjects for their incompleteness and many a seeming contradiction! Oh blind fools! They forget — or never knew that he who holds the keys to the secrets of Death is possessed of the keys of Life? That could everyone become a creative god in this race, acquiring knowledge so easily that there would be no necessity for a 6th and 7th races? And that we, we should have perverted the programme of Being, garbled the accounts in the Book of Life, defeated in a word the Eternal Will!
My friend, I have little if anything more to say. I regret deeply my inability to satisfy the honest, sincere aspirations of a few chosen ones among your group — not at least, for the present. Could but your L.L. understand, or so much as suspect, that the present crisis that is shaking the T.S. to its foundations is a question of perdition or salvation to thousands; a question of the progress of the human race or its retrogression, of its glory or dishonour, and for the majority of this race — of being or not being, of annihilation, in fact — perchance many of you would look into the very root of evil, and instead of being guided by false appearances and scientific decisions, you would set to work and save the situation by disclosing the dishonourable doings of your missionary world.
Meanwhile — accept my best wishes.
I believe I better tell you once more what I would have you remember always. I should be glad if every question could be answered as easily as your query about the "distressing event." Why is it that doubts and foul suspicions seem to beset every aspirant for chelaship? My friend, in the Masonic Lodges of old times the neophyte was subjected to a series of frightful tests of his constancy, courage and presence of mind. By psychological impressions supplemented by machinery and chemicals, he was made to believe himself falling down precipices, crushed by rocks, walking spider-web bridges in mid-air, passing through fire, drowned in water and attacked by wild beasts. This was a reminiscence of and a programme borrowed from the Egyptian Mysteries. The West having lost the secrets of the East, had, as I say, to resort to artifice. But in these days the vulgarization of science has rendered such trifling tests obsolete. The aspirant is now assailed entirely on the psychological side of his nature. His course of testing — in Europe and India — is that of Raj-Yog and its result is — as frequently explained — to develop every germ good and bad in him in his temperament. The rule is inflexible, and not one escapes whether he but writes to us a letter, or in the privacy of his own heart's thought formulates a strong desire for occult communication and knowledge. As the shower cannot fructify the rock, so the occult teaching has no effect upon the unreceptive mind; and as the water develops the heat of caustic lime so does the teaching bring into fierce action every unsuspected potentiality latent in him.
Few Europeans have stood this test. Suspicion, followed by self-woven conviction of fraud seems to have become the order of the day. I tell you with a very few exceptions — we have failed in Europe. Henceforth, the policy of absolute neutrality of the T.S. in occult teachings and phenomena will be rigidly enforced: whatever is imparted will be to individual members from individuals. For inst: if Mad. B. finds the necessary strength to live (and this depends entirely on her will and its powers of exertion) and is willing under the guidance of her guru, or even myself, to serve us as an amanuensis for you, (Sinnett, not for the group) she can, if she likes, send you weekly or monthly instructions. Mohini could do the same — but under the pledge that neither our names, or that of the sender will be ever made public; nor shall the T.S. be made responsible for these teachings. If the Oriental group survives, something could be yet done for it. But never, henceforth, shall the Society in India be allowed to be compromised again by phenomena that are denounced wholesale as fraud. The good ship is sinking, friend, because its precious cargo has been offered to the public at large; because some of its contents have been desecrated by profane handling and its gold — received as brass. Henceforth, I say, no such profane eye will see its treasures, and its outer decks and rigging must be cleansed of the impurity and dross that was accumulated on them by the indiscretion of its own members. Try to remedy the evil done. Every step made by one in our direction will force us to make one toward him. But it is not by going to Ladak that one shall find us, as Mr. Lane Fox imagines.
Once more, accept my blessing and parting greeting if they have to be my last.
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1. In the original the words "every century" appear after — "us," but have been crossed out. — ED. (return to text)