The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett
Theosophical University Press Second & Revised Edition

Letter No. 8

Received through Mad. B. About February 20th, 1881.
{Mr. and Mrs. Sinnett and their young son were on their way to England. During the trip Sinnett wrote and published The Occult World. he returned alone July 5, Mrs. Sinnett being too ill to travel.}

My dear friend, you are certainly on the right path: the path of deeds and actions, not mere words — may you live long and keep on!. . . I hope this will not be regarded by you as an encouragement to be "goody goody" — a happy expression which made me laugh — but you indeed step in as a kind of Kalka Avatar dispelling the shadows of "Kali-yug" — the black night of the perishing T.S. and driving away before you the fata morgana of its Rules. I must cause the word fecit to appear after your name in invisible but indelible characters on the list of the General Council, as it may prove some day a secret door to the heart of the sternest of Hobilgans. . . .

Though a good deal occupied — alas, as usual — I must contrive to send you a somewhat lengthy farewell epistle before you take up a journey that may have most important results — and not alone for our cause. . . . You understand, do you not, that it is no fault of mine if I cannot meet you as I would? Nor is it yours, but rather that of your life-long environment and a special delicate task I have been entrusted with since I knew you. Do not blame me then, if I do not show myself in more tangible shape, as not you alone, but I myself might desire! When I am not permitted to do so for Olcott — who has toiled for us these five years, how could I be for others who have undergone none of his training as yet? This applies equally to the case of the Lord Crawford and Balcarres, an excellent gentleman — imprisoned by the world. His is a sincere and noble, though may be a little too repressed nature. He asks what hope he may have? I say — every hope. For he has that within himself that so very few possess: an exhaustless source of magnetic fluid which, if he only had the time, he could call out in torrents and need no other master than himself. His own powers would do the work and his own great experience be a sure guide for him. But, he would have to guard against, and avoid every foreign influence — especially those antagonistic to the nobler study of man as an integral Brahm, the microcosm free and entirely independent of either the help or control of the invisible agencies the "new dispensation" (bombastic word!) calls "Spirits." His Lordship will understand my meaning without any further explanation: he is welcome to read this if he chooses, if the opinions of an obscure Hindu interest him. Were he a poor man, he might have become an English Dupotet, with the addition of great scientific attainments in exact science. But alas —! what the peerage has gained psychology has lost. . . . And yet it is not too late. But see, even after mastering magnetic science and giving his powerful mind to the study of the noblest branches of exact science, how even he has failed to lift more than a small corner of the veil of mystery. Ah! that whirling, showy, glittering world, full of insatiable ambition, where family and the State parcel out between them a man's nobler nature, as two tigers a carcase, and leave him without hope or light! How many recruits could we not have from it, if no sacrifice were exacted! His Lordship's letter to you exhales an influence of sincerity tinged with regret. This is a good man at heart with latent capacity for being a far better and a happier one. Had his lot not been cast as it has, and had his intellectual power all been turned upon Soul-culture, he would have achieved much more than he ever dreamt. Out of such material were adepts made in the days of Aryan glory. But I must dwell no longer upon this case; and I crave his Lordship's pardon if, in the bitterness of my regret I overstepped in any way the bounds of propriety, in this too free "psychometrical delineation of character" as the American mediums would express it . . . full measure only bounds excess" but — I dare go no farther. Ah, my too positive and yet impatient friend, if you but had such latent capacities!

The "direct communication" with me of which you write in your supplement note, and the "enormous advantage" that it would bring "to the book itself, if it can be conceded," would be so conceded at once, did it depend but of me alone. Though it is not often judicious to repeat oneself, yet I am so anxious that you should realize the present impracticability of such an arrangement, were it even conceded by our Superiors, that I will indulge in a brief retrospect of principles stated.

We might leave out of the question the most vital point — one, you would hesitate perhaps to believe — that the refusal concerns as much your own salvation (from the standpoint of your worldly material considerations) as my enforced compliance with our time honoured Rules. Again I might cite the case of Olcott (who, had he not been permitted to communicate face to face — and without any intermediary — with us, might have subsequently shown less zeal and devotion but more discretion) and his fate up to the present. But, the comparison would doubtless appear to you strained. Olcott — would you say — is an enthusiast, a stubborn, unreasoning mystic, who goes headlong before him, blindfold, and who will not allow himself to look forward with his own eyes. While you are a sober, matter-of-fact man of the world, the son of your generation of cool thinkers; ever keeping fancy under the curb, and saying to enthusiasm: "Thus far shalt thou go and no farther." . . . Perhaps you are right — perhaps not. "No lama knows where the ber-chhen will hurt him until he puts it on," says a Thibetan proverb. However, let that pass, for I must tell you now that for opening "direct communication" the only possible means would be: (1) For each of us to meet in our own physical bodies. I being where I am, and you in your own quarters, there is a material impediment for me. (2) For both to meet in our astral form — which would necessitate your "getting out" of yours, as well as my leaving my body. The spiritual impediment to this is on your part. (3) To make you hear my voice either within you or near you as "the old lady" does. This would be feasible in either of two ways: (a) My chiefs have but to give me permission to set up the conditions — and this for the present they refuse; or (b) for you to hear my voice, i.e., my natural voice without any psycho-physiological tamasha being employed by me (again as we often do among ourselves). But then, to do this, not only have one's spiritual senses to be abnormally opened, but one must himself have mastered the great secret — yet undiscovered by science — of, so to say abolishing all the impediments of space; of neutralizing for the time being the natural obstacle of intermediary particles of air and forcing the waves to strike your ear in reflected sounds or echo. Of the latter you know as yet only enough to regard this as an unscientific absurdity. Your physicists, not having until recently mastered acoustics in this direction, any further than to acquire a perfect (?) knowledge of the vibration of sonorous bodies and of reverberations through tubes, may sneeringly ask: "Where are your indefinitely continued sonorous bodies, to conduct through space the vibrations of the voice?" We answer that our tubes, though invisible, are indestructible and far more perfect than those of modern physicists, by whom the velocity of the transmission of mechanical force through the air is represented as at the rate of 1,100 feet a second and no more — if I mistake not. But then, may there not be people who have found more perfect and rapid means of transmission, from being somewhat better acquainted with the occult powers of air (akas) and having plus a more cultivated judgment of sounds? But of this we will argue later on.

There is still more serious inconvenience; an almost insurmountable obstacle — for the present, and one, under which I myself am labouring, while even I do no more than correspond with you, a simple thing that any other mortal could do. It is my utter inability to make you understand my meaning in my explanation of even physical phenomena, let alone the spiritual rationale. This is not the first time I mention it. It is, as though a child should ask me to teach him the highest problems of Euclid before he had even begun studying the elementary rules of arithmetic. Only the progress one makes in the study of arcane knowledge from its rudimental elements, brings him gradually to understand our meaning. Only thus, and not otherwise, does it, strengthening and refining those mysterious links of sympathy between intelligent men — the temporarily isolated fragments of the universal Soul and the Cosmic Soul itself — bring them into full rapport. Once this established, then only will these awakened sympathies serve, indeed, to connect man with — what for the want of a European scientific word more competent to express the idea, I am again compelled to describe as that energetic chain which binds together the material and Immaterial Kosmos, — Past, Present, and Future — and quicken his perceptions so as to clearly grasp, not merely all things of matter, but of Spirit also. I feel even irritated at having to use these three clumsy words — past, present and future! Miserable concepts of the objective phases of the Subjective Whole, they are about as ill adapted for the purpose as an axe for fine carving. Oh, my poor, disappointed friend, that you were already so far advanced on THE PATH, that this simple transmission of ideas should not be encumbered by the conditions of matter, the union of your mind with ours — prevented by its induced incapabilities! Such is unfortunately the inherited and self-acquired grossness of the Western mind; and so greatly have the very phrases expressive of modern thoughts been developed in the line of practical materialism, that it is now next to impossible either for them to comprehend or for us to express in their own languages anything of that delicate seemingly ideal machinery of the Occult Kosmos. To some little extent that faculty can be acquired by the Europeans through study and meditation but — that's all. And here is the bar which has hitherto prevented a conviction of the theosophical truths from gaining wider currency among Western nations; caused theosophical study to be cast aside as useless and fantastic by Western philosophers. How shall I teach you to read and write or even comprehend a language of which no alphabet palpable, or words audible to you have yet been invented! How could the phenomena of our modern electrical science be explained to — say, a Greek philosopher of the days of Ptolemy were he suddenly recalled to life — with such an unbridged hiatus in discovery as would exist between his and our age? Would not the very technical terms be to him an unintelligible jargon, an abracadabra of meaningless sounds, and the very instruments and apparatuses used, but "miraculous" monstrosities? And suppose, for one instant, I were to describe to you the hues of those colour rays that lie beyond the so-called "visible spectrum" — rays invisible to all but a very few even among us; to explain, how we can fix in space any one of the so-called subjective or accidental colors — the complement, (to speak mathematically) moreover, of any other given colour of a dichromatic body (which alone sounds like an absurdity), could you comprehend, do you think, their optical effect or even my meaning? And, since you see them not, such rays, nor can know them, nor have you any names for them as yet in Science, if I were to tell you: — "My good friend Sinnett, if you please, without moving from your writing desk, try search for, and produce before your eyes the whole solar spectrum decomposed into fourteen prismatic colors (seven being complementary), as it is but with the help of that occult light that you can see me from a distance as I see you" . . . . what think you, would be your answer? What would you have to reply? Would you not be likely enough to retort by telling me in your own quiet, polite way, that as there never were but seven (now three) primary colours, which, moreover, have never yet by any known physical process been seen decomposed further than the seven prismatic hues — my invitation was as "unscientific" as it was "absurd"? Adding that my offer to search for an imaginary solar "complement" being no compliment to your knowledge of physical science — I had better, perhaps, go and search for my mythical "dichromatic" and solar "pairs" in Thibet, for modern Science has hitherto been unable to bring under any theory even so simple a phenomenon as the colors of all such dichromatic bodies. And yet — truth knows — these colors are objective enough!

So you see, the insurmountable difficulties in the way of attaining not only Absolute but even primary knowledge in Occult Science, for one situated as you are. How could you make your self understood — command in fact, those semi-intelligent Forces, whose means of communicating with us are not through spoken words but through sounds and colours, in correlations between the vibrations of the two? For sound, light and colours are the main factors in forming these grades of Intelligences, these beings, of whose very existence you have no conception, nor are you allowed to believe in them — Atheists and Christians, materialists and Spiritualists, all bringing forward their respective arguments against such a belief — Science objecting stronger than either of these to such a "degrading superstition"!

Thus, because they cannot with one leap over the boundary walls attain to the pinnacles of Eternity; because we cannot take a savage from the centre of Africa and make him comprehend at once the Principia of Newton or the "Sociology" of Herbert Spencer; or make an unlettered child write a new Iliad in old Achaian Greek; or an ordinary painter depict scenes in Saturn or sketch the inhabitants of Arcturus — because of all this our very existence is denied! Yes; for this reason are believers in us pronounced impostors and fools, and the very science which leads to the highest goal of the highest knowledge, to the real tasting of the Tree of Life and Wisdom — is scouted as a wild flight of Imagination!

Most earnestly do I ask you not to see in the above a mere ventilation of personal feeling. My time is precious and I have none to lose. Still less ought you to see in this an effort to disgust or dissuade you from the noble work you have just begun. Nothing of the kind; for what I now say may avail for as much as it can and no more; but — vera pro gratis — I warn you, and will say no more, apart from reminding you in a general way, that the task you are so bravely undertaking, that Missio in partis infidelium — is the most ungrateful, perhaps, of all tasks! But, if you believe in my friendship for you, if you value the word of honour of one who never — never during his whole life polluted his lips with an untruth, then do not forget the words I once wrote to you (see my last letter) of those who engaged themselves in the occult sciences: he who does it "must either reach the goal or perish. Once fairly started on the way to the great Knowledge, to doubt is to risk insanity; to come to a dead stop is to fall; to recede is to tumble backward, headlong into an abyss." Fear not, — if you are sincere, and that you are — now. Are you as sure of yourself, as to future?

But I believe it quite time to turn to less transcendental and what you would call less gloomy and more mundane matters. Here, no doubt, you will be much more at home. Your experience, your training, your intellect, your knowledge of the exterior world, in short, all combine to aid you in the accomplishment of the task you have undertaken. For, they place you on an infinitely higher level than myself as regards the consideration of writing a book, after your Society's "own heart." Though the interest I take in it may amaze some who are likely to retort on me and my colleagues with our own arguments, and to remark that our "boasted elevation over the common herd" (our friend Mr. Hume's words) — above the interests and passions of ordinary humanity, must militate against our having any conception of the ordinary affairs of life — yet I confess that I do take an interest in this book and its success, as great as in the success in life of its future author.

I hope that at least you will understand that we (or most of us) are far from being the heartless, morally dried up mummies some would fancy us to be. "Mejnoor" is very well, where he is — as an ideal character of a thrilling — in many respects truthful story. Yet, believe me, few of us would care to play the part in life of a dessicated pansy between the leaves of a volume of solemn poetry. We may not be quite the "boys" — to quote Olcott's irreverent expression when speaking of us — yet none of our degree are like the stern hero of Bulwer's romance. While the facilities of observation secured to some of us by our condition certainly give a greater breadth of view, a more pronounced and impartial, as a more widely spread humaneness — for answering Addison, we might justly maintain that it is . . . "the business of 'magic' to humanize our natures with compassion" for the whole mankind as all living beings, instead of concentrating and limiting our affections to one predilected race — yet few of us (except such as have attained the

 negation of Moksha) can so far enfranchise ourselves from the influence of our earthly connection as to be insusceptible in various degrees to the higher pleasures, emotions, and interests of the common run of humanity. Until final emancipation reabsorbs the Ego, it must be conscious of the purer sympathies called out by the esthetic effects of high art, its tenderest cords respond to the call of the holier and nobler human attachments. Of course, the greater the progress towards deliverance, the less this will be the case, until, to crown all, human and purely individual personal feelings — blood-ties and friendship, patriotism and race predilection — all will give away, to become blended into one universal feeling, the only true and holy, the only unselfish and Eternal one — Love, an Immense Love for humanity — as a Whole! For it is "Humanity" which is the great orphan, the only disinherited one upon this Earth, my friend. And it is the duty of every man who is capable of an unselfish impulse, to do something, however little, for its welfare. Poor, poor humanity! It reminds me of the old fable of the war between the Body and its members: here too, each limb of this huge "Orphan" — fatherless and motherless — selfishly cares but for itself. The body uncared for suffers eternally, whether the limbs are at war or at rest. Its suffering and agony never cease. . . . And who can blame it — as your materialistic philosophers do — if, in this everlasting isolation and neglect it has evolved gods, unto whom "it ever cries for help, but is not heard!" . . . Thus —

"Since there is hope for man only in man
  I would not let one cry whom I could save! . . ."

Yet I confess that I, individually, am not yet exempt from some of the terrestrial attachments. I am still attracted toward some men more than toward others, and philanthropy as preached by our Great Patron — "the Saviour of the World. The Teacher of Nirvana and the Law . . . ." has never killed in me either individual preferences of friendship, love — for my next of kin, or the ardent feeling of patriotism for the country — in which I was last materially individualized. And, in this connection, I may some day, unasked, offer a bit of advice to my friend Mr. Sinnett, to whisper into the ear of the Editor of the Pioneer En attendant — may I beg the former to inform Dr. Wyld, the Prest. of the British T.S., of the few truths concerning us as shown above? Will you kindly undertake to persuade this excellent gentleman, that not one of the humble "dew drops" which, assuming under various pretexts the form of vapour, have at various periods disappeared in the space to congeal in the white Himalayan clouds, have ever tried to slip back into the shining Sea of Nirvana through the unhealthy process of hanging by the legs or by making unto themselves another "coat of Skin" out of the Sacred cow-dung of the "thrice holy" cow! The British President labours under the most original ideas about us, whom he persists in calling "Yogis," without allowing the slightest margin to the enormous differences which exist even between "Hatha and Raj Yog." This mistake must be laid at the door of Mrs. B. — the able Editor of the Theosophist; who fills up her volumes with the practices of divers Sannyasis and other "blessed ones" from the plains, without ever troubling herself with a few additional lines of explanation.

And now, to still more important matters. Time is precious and material (I mean writing material) is still more so. "Precipitation" — in your case having become unlawful; lack of — whether ink or paper — standing no better chance for "tamasha," and I, being far away from home, and at a place where a stationer's shop is less needed than breathing air, our correspondence threatens to break very abruptly, unless I manage my stock in hand judiciously. A friend promises to supply me in case of great need with a few stray sheets, memento relics of his grandfather's will, by which he disinherited him and thus made his "fortune." But, as he never wrote one line but once, he says — for the last eleven years, except on such "double superfin glace" made at Thibet as you might irreverently mistake for blotting paper in its primitive days, and that the will is drawn upon a like material — we might as well turn to your book at once. Since you do me the favour of asking my opinion, I may tell you that the idea is an excellent one. Theosophy needs such help, and the results will be what you anticipate in England as well. It may also help our friends in Europe — generally.

I lay no restrictions upon your making use of anything I may have written to you or Mr. Hume, having full confidence in your tact and judgment as to what should be printed and how it should be presented. I must only ask you for reasons upon which I must be silent (and I am sure you will respect that silence) not to use one single word or passage from my last letter to you — the one written after my long silence, no date, and the first one forwarded to you by our "old lady." I just quoted from it at page 4. Do me the favour, if my poor epistles are worth preserving, to lay it by in a separate and sealed envelope. You may have to unseal it only after a certain period of time has elapsed. As to the rest — I relinquish it to the mangling tooth of criticism. Nor would I interfere with the plan you have roughly sketched out in your mind. But I would strongly recommend you in its execution to lay the greatest stress upon small circumstances — (could you oblige me with some receipt for blue ink?!) which tend to show the impossibility of fraud or conspiracy. Reflect well, how bold a thing it is to endorse phenomena as adeptic which the Spiritsts have already stamped as proofs of mediumship and skeptics as legerdemain. You should not omit one jot or tittle of collateral evidence that supports your position, something you have neglected doing in your "A" letter in the Pioneer. For instance, my friend tells me that it was a thirteenth cup(1) and the pattern unmatchable, in Simla at least. The pillow was chosen by yourself — and yet the word "pillow" occurs in my note to you, just as the word "tree" or anything else would have been substituted, had you chosen another depository, instead of the pillow. You will find all such trifles serving you as the most powerful shield for yourself against ridicule and sneers. Then you will of course, aim to show that this Theosophy is no new candidate for the world's attention, but only the restatement of principles which have been recognised from the very infancy of mankind. The historic sequence ought to be succinctly yet graphically traced through the successive evolutions of philosophical schools, and illustrated with accounts of the experimental demonstrations of occult power ascribed to various thaumaturgists. The alternate breakings-out and subsidences of mystical phenomena, as well as their shiftings from one centre to another of population, show the conflicting play of the opposing forces of spirituality and animalism. And lastly it will appear that the present tidal-wave of phenomena, with its varied effects upon human thought and feeling, made the revival of Theosophical enquiry an indispensable necessity. The only problem to solve is the practical one, of how best to promote the necessary study, and give to the spiritualistic movement a needed upward impulse. It is a good beginning to make the inherent capabilities of the inner, living man better comprehended. To lay down the scientific proposition that since akrshu (attraction) and Prshu (repulsion) are the law of nature, there can be no intercourse or relations between clean and unclean souls — embodied or disembodied; and hence, ninety-nine hundredths of supposed spiritual communications, are, prima facie false. Here is as great a fact to work upon as you can find, and it cannot be made too plain. So, while a better selection might have been made for the Theosophist in the way of illustrative anecdotes, as, for instance, well authenticated historical cases, yet the theory of turning the minds of phenomenalists into useful and suggestive channels away from mere mediumistic dogmatism was the correct one.

What I meant by the "Forlorn Hope" was that when one regards the magnitude of the task to be undertaken by our theosophical volunteers, and especially the multitudinous agencies arrayed, and to be arrayed, in opposition, we may well compare it, to one of those desperate efforts against overwhelming odds that the true soldier glories to attempt. You have done well to see the "large purpose" in the small beginnings of the T.S. Of course, if we had undertaken to found and direct it in propria persona, very likely it would have accomplished more and made fewer mistakes. But we could not do this, nor was it the plan: our two agents are given the task and left — as you now are — to do the best they could under the circumstances. And much has been wrought. Under the surface of Spiritualism, runs a current that is wearing a broad channel for itself. When it reappears above ground its effects will be apparent. Already many minds like yours are pondering the question of occult law — forced upon the thinking public by this agitation. Like you, they are dissatisfied with what has been hitherto attainable and clamour for better. Let this — encourage you.

It is not quite accurate that by having such minds in the Society they would be "under conditions more favourable for observation" for us. Rather put it, that by the act of joining other sympathisers in this organization they are stimulated to effort and incite each other to investigate. Unity always gives strength: and since Occultism in our days resembles a "Forlorn Hope," union and cooperation are indispensable. Union does indeed imply a concentration of vital and magnetic force against the hostile currents of prejudice and fanaticism.

I wrote a few words in the Maratha boy's letter, only to show you that he was obeying orders in submitting his views to you. Apart from his exaggerated idea about huge fees, his letter is in a way worth considering. For Damodar is a Hindu — and knows the mind of his people at Bombay; though the Bombay Hindus are about as unspiritual a group as can be found in all India. But, like the devoted and enthusiastic lad he is, he jumped after the misty form of his own ideas even before I could give them the right direction. All quick thinkers are hard to impress — in a flash they are out and away in "full cry," before half understanding what one wants to have them think. This is our trouble with both Mrs. B. and O. The frequent failure of the latter to carry out the suggestions he sometimes receives — even when written, is almost wholly due to his own active mentality preventing his distinguishing our impressions from his own conceptions. And Missus B.'s trouble is (apart from physical ailment) that she sometimes listens to two or more of our voices at once; e.g., this morning while the "Disinherited," whom I have accommodated with space for a footnote — was talking with her on an important matter, she lent an ear to one of ours, who is passing through Bombay from Cyprus, on his way to Thibet — and so got both in an inextricable confusion. Women do lack the power of concentration.

And now, my good friend and co-worker — an irremediable paperless condition obliges me to close. Farewell, until your return, unless you will be content, as hitherto, to pass our correspondence through the accustomed channel. Neither of us would prefer this. But until authority is given to change it must be even so. Were she to die to-day — and she is really sick — you would not receive more than two, or at most three more letters from me (through Damodar or Olcott, or through already established emergent agencies), and then, that reservoir of force being exhausted — our parting would be final. However, I will not anticipate; events might bring us together somewhere in Europe. But whether we meet or not, during your trip, be assured that my personal good wishes will attend you. Should you actually need now and again the help of a happy thought as your work progresses, it may, very likely be, osmosed into your head — if sherry bars not the way, as it has already done at Allahabad.

May the "deep Sea" deal gently with you and your house.

Ever yours,

K. H.

P.S. — The "friend" of whom the Lord Lindsay speaks in his letter to you, is, I am sorry to say, a true skunk mephitis, who managed to perfume himself with ess-bouquet in his presence during their palmy days of friendship, and so avoided being recognized by his natural stench. It is Home — the medium, a convert to Roman Catholicism, then to Protestantism, and finally to the Greek Church. He is the bitterest and most cruel enemy O. and Mad. B. have, though he has never met either of them. For a certain time he succeeded in poisoning the Lord's mind, and prejudiced him against them. I do not like saying anything behind a man's back, for it looks like back-biting. Yet in view of some future events I feel it my duty to warn you, for this one is an exceptionally bad man — hated by the Spiritualists and mediums as much as he is despised by those — who have learned to know him. Yours is a work which clashes directly with his. Though a poor sickly cripple, a paralysed wretch, his mental faculties are as fresh and as alive as ever to mischief. He is no man to stop before a slanderous accusation — however vile and lying. So — beware.

K. H.

Letter 9

Chronological Order

Next: Blavatsky Letter 197 or Mahatma Letter 107
Previous: Mahatma Letter 142b

Table of Contents


1. So, at least, Mrs. S. says; I myself did not search the crockery shops; so too, the bottle filled with water I filled with my own hand — was one of the four only that the servants had in the baskets, and these four bottles had but just been brought back empty by these peons from their fruitless search after water, when you sent them to the little brewery with a note. Hoping to be excused for the interference and with my most respectful regards to the lady.

Yours, etc.

The "Disinherited" (return to text)