Theosophical University Press Edition
[Extracts only are given from this letter. The numbers in brackets refer to the previous letter from K.H. No. 98. — Ed.]
My dear Koot Humi
I have sent Sinnett your letter to me and he has kindly sent me yours to him — I want to make some remarks on this, not by way of cavil, but because I am so anxious that you should understand me. Very likely it is my conceit — but whether or no I have a deep rooted conviction that I could work effectually if I only saw my way, and I cannot bear the idea of your throwing me over under any misconception of my views. And yet every letter I see of yours, shows me that you do not yet realize what I think and feel.* To explain this I venture to jot down a few comments on your letter to Sinnett.
You say that if Russia does not succeed in taking Tibet, it will be due to you and herein at least you will deserve our gratitude — I do not agree to this in the sense in which you mean it. (1) If I thought that Russia would on the whole govern Tibet or India, in such wise as to make the inhabitants on the whole happier than they are under the existing Governments, I would myself welcome and work for her advent. But so far as I can judge the Russian Government is a corrupt despotism, hostile to individual liberty of action and therefore to real progress . . . etc.
Then about the English-speaking Vaquil. Was the man so much to blame? You and yours have never taught him that there was anything in Yog Vidya. The only people who have taken the trouble to educate him at all have in so doing taught him materialism — you are disgusted with him, but who is to blame? . . . I judge perhaps as an outsider, but it does seem to me, that the impenetrable veil of secrecy by which you surround yourselves, the enormous difficulties which you oppose to the communication of your spiritual knowledge, are the main causes of the rampant materialism which you so much deplore. . . . You alone do possess the means of bringing home to the ordinary run of men, convictions of this nature, but you, apparently bound by ancient rules, so far from zealously disseminating this knowledge, envelope it in such a dense cloud of mystery, that naturally the mass of mankind, disbelieve in its existence . . . there can be no justification for not giving clearly to the world the more important features of your philosophy, accompanying the teaching with such a series of demonstrations as should ensure the attention of all sincere minds. That you should hesitate to confer hastily great powers too likely to be abused, I quite understand — but this in no way bars a dogmatic denunciation of the results of your psychical investigations, accompanied by phenomena, sufficiently clear and often repeated to prove that you really did know more of the subjects with which you dealt than Western Science does (2) . . .
Perhaps you will retort "how about Slade's case?" but do not forget that he was taking money for what he did; making a living out of it. Very different would be the position of a man, who came forward to teach gratuitously, manifestly at the sacrifice of his own time, comfort and convenience, what he believed it to be for the good of mankind to know. At first no doubt everyone would say the man was mad or an impostor — but then when phenomenon on phenomenon was repeated and repeated, they would have to admit there was something in it, and within three years, you would have all the foremost minds in any civilized country intent upon the question and tens of thousands of anxious enquirers out of whom ten percent might prove useful workers, and one in a thousand perhaps develop the necessary qualifications for becoming ultimately an adept. If you desire to react on the native through the European mind that is the way to work it. Of course, I speak under correction and in ignorance of conditions, possibilities, etc., but for this ignorance at any rate I am not to blame . . . (3).
Then I come to the passage. "Has it occurred to you that the two Bombay publications if not influenced, may at least have not been prevented by those who might have done so because they saw the necessity for that much agitation to effect the double result of making a needed diversion after the brooch grenade, and perhaps of trying the strength of your personal interest in occultism and theosophy? I do not say it was, I but enquire whether the contingency ever presented itself to your mind." Now of course this was addressed to Sinnett, but still I wish to answer it in my fashion. First I should say, cui bono throwing out such a hint? You must know whether it was so or not. If it was not, why set us speculating as to whether it may have been, when you know it was not. But if it was so, then I submit, that in the first place an idiotic business like this could be no test of any man's (there are of course lots of human beings who are only a sort of educated monkey) personal interest in any thing. . . . In the second place if the Brothers did deliberately allow the publication of those letters, I can only say, that from my worldly non-initiated standpoint, I think they made a sad mistake . . . and the object of the Brothers being avowedly to make the T.S. respected, they could hardly have selected any worse means, than the publication of these foolish letters. . . . but still when the question is broadly put, did you ever consider whether the Brothers allowed this publication, I cannot avoid replying, if they did not, it is futile wasting consideration on the matter, and if they did, it seems to me that they were unwise in so doing. (4)
Then come your remarks about Col. Olcott. Dear old Olcott, whom everyone who knows must love. I fully sympathize in all you say in his favour — but I cannot but take exception to the terms in which you praise him, the whole burthen of which is that he never questions but always obeys. This is the Jesuit organization over again — and this renunciation of private judgment, this abnegation of one's own personal responsibility, this accepting the dictates of outside voices as a substitute for one's own conscience, is to my mind a sin of no ordinary magnitude. . . . Nay further I feel bound to say that if this doctrine of blind obedience is an essential one in your system, I greatly doubt whether any spiritual light it may confer can compensate mankind for the loss of that private freedom of action, that sense of personal, individual responsibility of which it would deprive them. . . . (5)
. . . But if it be intended that I shall ever, get instructions to do this or that and without understanding the why or the wherefore, without scrutinizing consequences, blind and heedless, straightway go and do it, — then frankly the matter for me is at an end — I am no military machine — I am an avowed enemy of the military organization — friend and advocate of the industrial or cooperative system, and I will join no society or no body which purports to limit or control my right of private judgment. Of course I am not a doctrinaire!? and do not desire to ride any principle as a hobby horse. . . .
To return to Olcott — I do not think his connection with the proposed Society would be any evil. . . .
In the first place I should not object in any way to dear old Olcott's supervision, because I know it would be nominal, as even if he tried to make it otherwise, Sinnett and I are both quite capable of shutting him up if he interfered needlessly. But neither of us could accept him as our real guide (6), because we both know that we are intellectually his superiors. This is a brutal way, as the French would say, of putting it, but que voulez vous? Without perfect frankness there is no coming to an understanding. . . .
A. O. Hume
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