Practical Occultism — William Q. Judge

Letters from June 1886 - August 1886

Louise A Off
June 3 1886

Dear Madam

Your letter of May 14 came to me like a breath of that pure atmosphere you describe, and the project it contains is one with which I feel personally very much in sympathy.

One unfortunate thing in American Theosophy is the want of leisure for self culture on the part of theosophists. Most of us have our daily routine of business and the complicated "Wants" of our civilization compel by far the larger number of our members to live externally as the world does. The institution you speak of would necessarily be for those who are so far independent in means and in other circumstances as to have leisure, and for them I think there can be no question about its great advantages. You may remember that Light on the Path speaks of periods of growth and silence, followed by periods of action, and I think that it is just as true that people feel compelled in time to go forth to teach what they have learned as that they feel impelled to seek seclusion in order to learn and to develop in themselves the things they afterwards impart to others. Now, if this be true, such an institution as you speak of would be eminently useful to those who are willing to give their lives to the cause of Theosophy. It would be a home for those who gave up every other home, and a centre from which Theosophy all over America might gather strength and gain light.

Such a place as you desire to make would, in fact, beyond question be a spiritual centre. At Adyar in India, we have the headquarters, and no doubt it forms a centre, not only from which forces radiate, but also towards which aspirations tend and it does much towards solidifying the whole body of Theosophists. Any member can go there, and stay a short time, but it is not in any sense a Lamasery. All who are there are present for work, and not for any kind of play. It is the centre of the ever busy work of the society. Inasmuch as we are an Universal Brotherhood which thinks it has hold of some true doctrines, it is our duty to give out those rules of thought and conduct which the world so much needs; and this brings us to a question which arises concerning your proposal: Is it Buddhistic, or Hindu, or Esoterically Christian, or what? And the mere statement of the question seems to point at once to one conclusion — that the place ought to be started as a purely theosophic retreat or head-quarters, thus permitting anyone who is a member to feel at home although he may belong to some particular religious body.

This very important desideratum for the institution, namely Universality or "catholicity," does not seem compatible with making it in any special sense a lamasery, for the element which binds the members of a lamasery is the possession of a particular and limited creed. If you intend that Theosophy in general should be the cementing force there are two difficulties that suggest themselves at once. The first is the difficulty that would be experienced in making a secluded retreat, such as would be necessary for the spiritual development you speak of, compatible with an active centre of work and propaganda, which latter is not only a most important point at present for theosophy, but, as I said before, those who secluded themselves, would after a while be obliged by their own feelings to go into this active work of propaganda. It is found in practice that the large majority of men do not get out of these alternating periods of seclusion and activity for a long time, perhaps during several incarnations, for to be able to leave the world for ever presupposes a very high degree of spiritual development, for it means that that person's sphere of usefulness and activity has become one which is higher than the physical plane of existence.

The second difficulty consists in this, that anyone who had advanced so far as to be capable of such a life as that implied by the idea of a Theosophical lamasery would naturally gravitate to India, where the heads of the Society live, I mean the Brothers of the First section. You must remember that we are all brothers of the third section (the lowest) in this country. When any theosophist has advanced into the second section he becomes a chela and comes under the personal guidance and teaching of some brother of the first section, and at a certain point in his development it becomes necessary for him to live in proximity with his Master. It seems to me that to give the institution at all the true character of a Theosophic lamasery all three sections of the society should be represented in it, so that, as matters now stand, it could at best be no more than a preparatory school, as it were, from which the aspirants for a degree must pass to a higher college or university.

You are probably as well aware as I am that ages of experience have proved that the greatest progress is not made by those who retire from the sight of men. Those who have progressed and are now retired made their progress first, before their retirement, and passed away because that very progress, which was obtained among men made it impossible for them to remain in the scenes and under the influences which they had passed beyond. So then, all singleminded theosophists here ought to know that the thing which will make their progress rapid is unselfish work in trying to lift their fellow men up to a higher plane.

Now the west has no real central Theosophic point as yet. Perhaps Los Angeles may become it. It is a beautiful situation — I was there once and know it.

If you had a real headquarters there, which was devoted to the work I have indicated, work which is in fact the most conducive to the progress of the individual as well as that of the Society, and where no foolish worldly talk or vain formalities prevailed, then it would soon be known as a place devoted to the cause where inquirers would be helped to understand the movement, and thus to understand themselves.

In Rochester Mrs. J. W Cables has a somewhat similar place to that I describe. She has a home there where she permits theosophists to stay, and she explains to them as much as she can. Many persons have become theosophists owing to her; and she has a little paper devoted to the cause. She is a vegetarian.

So it seems to me that a beginning ought to be made in that modest way. If you call it a Lamasery it will excite ridicule and create erroneous impressions. Let those who are going to take charge of the matter select their house or build it. Let them own it either in common, or in whatever way they decide; then devote it to the uses of the Los Angeles branch, remove all personalities from its atmosphere; let it be known that it is not a wonder seeking, or astral hunting place, but a centre for true philanthropic and brotherly thought and feeling. Of course all rules for its government, and for visitors — how they should be admitted, how long they should stay etc — will grow out of your own good judgment.

The Masters have said in writing and everybody will soon be convinced that the Society and its work must prosper on its moral and philosophical strength and not by phenomena. This is also true of the units of which it is composed, and the greatest progress for and benefit from the movement will be due to those devoted men and women who while they keep together and give life to just such an institution as you propose, at the same time work hard and unselfishly to bring others to a knowledge of the true doctrine.

I know well that there is a great field for the cause in the west, and it sadly needs some centre of energy to which all enquirers can be referred. Let us hope that Los Angeles will furnish that centre.

Such a place can do a great deal. It would have all the literature of Theosophy, and its correspondence would show just what the needs and feelings of enquirers were, thus enabling us to know just what ought to be done from time to time. In fact there is a big future before such an institution.

However I must await further letters from you as I have no idea of what the plans really and in detail are. But if in using the word "Lamasery" you mean exactly what that implies in Tibet then I cannot agree as to its advisability yet. I do however think that what I have been talking of is a good thing, and if those who start it and manage it, are in reality themselves "living the life" then their influence will be all the greater, and they will beyond question attract to them certain Hindu disciples of the Masters who know more than we do as yet, and who are not so very far away.

Believe me, dear Madam,

yours fraternally


July 13 1886

Dear Buck

Your long, good, letter at hand and you will see I anticipated it in my last letter. Why is it you and I have not quarreled at all although we disagree? I suppose because we are both gentlemen as well as students of occultism. I have never worked under the board although broken reeds have been my support.

Let me have Hermetic article soon. Awfully obliged to you as I am overworked indeed.

Blow all the winds smack the cheek I silent am if all the same I break.

Yes, the copy sent by request. Love to all. As ever


I only fight for ideas and foundations and such are those Adyar C'l has adopted, to be adhered to at risk of disintegration.

New York, Aug 3 1886
I. B. Rumford, Esq

Dear Sir and Bro:

I thank you for the subscription of the Golden Gate Lodge to The Path. All the numbers have been sent and I hope are safe to hand.

I do not think that the fundamental ideas of what is known as mind cure, are admitted by many, if any, theosophists in the sense they are apparently understood by the expounders of that System, and mind cure science is as yet in its infancy. There is probably much still to be found out about it. I am not aware that Madame Blavatsky ever claimed any such power over her own health, as that you assert she ought to have according to the mind cure theories, while at the same time I believe she possesses it, and knows the fact that she does so.

If it be true that the advocates of mind cure have discovered a means of curing disease which was unknown before that system was invented, the discovery will be a most valuable one for suffering humanity, and I have no doubt it will be a welcome addition to practical occultism, but it does not seem to be Theosophy, nor an adequate equivalent for it, nor do I see why we should call Mind Cure "Western Theosophy."

The peculiar and truly magical power which you use to cure disease has long been known in mesmerism under the name of "the power of suggestion," or of the "fixed idea," and it is vaguely recognized by medical science by the very inappropriate name of "imagination." The limits to which this power will go in the case of some individuals has not yet been fixed, but I would draw your attention to this fact, that this power, with which initiates of occult science are very familiar, is one of those which are known to be most dangerous to meddle much with unless you are an initiate. It is a power as easily used for evil as for good, and those who are strongly endowed with it find themselves open to new and strong temptations when they discover that they possess it. In the case of those whose moral nature is proof against this temptation to abuse the power, there is still another danger, for its effects are so wonderful that they believe themselves possessed of far more knowledge and power than they really have, and this is liable to cause a complete arrest of Spiritual development, unless the proper place of the powers in the system of universal Science known as Theosophy be perceived and acknowledged.

You may perhaps ask why Madame Blavatsky does not cure herself if, as I believe, she has that power, and knows that she possesses it. You must remember that curing bodily disease, and restoring physical health is not the "be all and end all." Philosophy as well as religion has always taught that the soul is purified and strengthened by suffering, and it is sometimes well to suffer. If we could know the action and operation of Karma we would see that by suffering pain in sickness bad Karma is worked off which could not be got rid of if one be suddenly cured as in "mind cure." Those who know and recognize this fact are cured thereby of the mental distress which is so large a part of the evil of bodily suffering, and this is for them a "mind cure" on a higher plane than the physical, for then they can bear their sufferings with calmness and resignation.

But I do not disparage your action, I only wish you not to misunderstand Madame Blavatsky or other theosophists who may, for all that you can know, choose to suffer from ill health. It is certain that the desire to heal others springs from unselfishness, and in so far it is good. Remember, however, the words of Jesus when he healed: "Be whole, thy sins are forgiven" which interpreted by Theosophy means: "Thy bad Karma is worked off; there is no more need that thou shouldst suffer."

May you all prosper and come to realize the true.

yours fraternally


A. P. Sinnett Esq
New York Aug 9/86

My dear sir.

I am in receipt of your article entitled "Theosophic Morals," and, as H. P. B. in the letter she sent in the same envelope directs, it will appear in September Path without any alteration. I need not say that I am very glad to have an article of yours for the Magazine, because you must be aware of the fact, and if more contributions were received from different individuals the Path perhaps would not savor so strongly of one mind. I have done my best to conceal identity, for I know general readers do not like to eternally listen to one man, but I fear after a while they will pierce through the thin veil of words. I had however hoped that your first contribution would be upon some other theme where personalities would not enter. At this distance and in this country people do not look at the matter in controversy just as it is regarded by the small circle of European Theosophists, who may be said to live in a continual blaze, limited to a small area. The American branches are scattered over immense spaces and Mohini and Babajee are really unknown. No one here, with say two exceptions know who Murdhna Joti is, and therefore every reader has looked at the article as the expression of individual opinion only. The policy of the Path always will be to give all sides of these questions and it must not be supposed that the people at large look at the terminology used from any than their own standpoint, and not from the higher mystical one which latter is yours and that of the European theosophists. A grave error of position is being constantly committed, if you will allow me to say so, by theosophists always assuming the attitude of chelas and construing all utterances from that point of view, whereas that attitude should be always reserved for private conversation — if allowed at all.

If my opinion were asked on the Higher Life paper, I would not agree with all of it, but am certainly of opinion that certain great souls now and then do incarnate to carry on great reforms or works while other great ones carry on in another sphere — without incarnation — the same work. And I do not see that Masters are impugned thereby. The perfect household life must then be illustrated by somebody as all cannot be great, or little, chelas. And this idea is contained in the article as I look at it.

Give my regards to Mrs Sinnett, and believe me to be

very truly yours


P.S. I should say that this is written without reading your paper, as I do not intend to read it until it is in proof.

Aug 23, 1886

Dear Buck:

"Come Antony and young Octavius come; revenge yourselves alone on Cassius; for Cassius is aweary of the world. Hated by one he loves scorned by his brother: All his faults observed."

Arthur is pitching into me for not going to C and you — you — you

Your letter has good advice which I accept, but it is full of baseless things. . . .

All your remarks about what "others" — unnamed — tell you I ignore until I have their names. As yet they exist not for me. Twice before I almost resolved only to write you on philosophy and not any more to confide in you my feelings not given to other men. This letter is my reward. Now I resolve. All business letters shall be official, and while I retain my love for you and shall call on you for help in the cause, I shall not attempt to take you into my deep confidence as you always seem to suppose I am in the same way talking to others.

Your head is not cut off, as the orders state that the Council is to be composed of Pres't and also of the present B of C. So resign if you please. Yes, take a good heart and head of the Board and leave it to C and P. Two fine fellows. They will be pleased; I will be sorry.

Very plainly I wrote you that all I thought was that the Convention should meet and that I didnt care who was elected. It would probably be C as I nor you would scheme to get it nor make political moves. Furthermore he will always keep the thing prominent. My God, could I plainer write. And yet you lower me to the plane expressed in your letter. . . .

I do not wish, nor shall I be dragged into fights. . . . So let us drop it all. Let you and me rise into the light alone of philosophy and as to work and business in the Society we dont exist together.

My Branch persisted in passing a resolution of inquiry. I do not want to do aught but wait. But on me will fall the odium of it.

I made an error about the arteries. So consider I said valves in the veins. Going through the lung is purification by fire, through moisture, etc etc. But the other facts I want.

Love to all

Your loving brother


S. Covina Row Sattay Esq
Aug. 25, 1886

My dear Sir and brother

Your letter to Bro. Joshi has been handed me, in which you request his aid in getting you out of jail. While I sympathize with you, and shall try to aid you in this matter, and can see that the Association acted contrary to their supposed religion, I cannot endorse the wisdom of your proceeding which caused you trouble. No one is more opposed to Christianity than I am, but I fail to see by what right you invaded the premises of these people and gathered listeners round you without leave. That is not freedom; it is license. No missionary in India would be allowed to enter a sacred temple and propagate his religion or run down the other. He would be arrested by the authorities. This camp where you were, is for them devoted to their absurd religion, and you had no right to go there except quietly. Had you held your meeting outside in the road, they could have done nothing.

Therefore you do right in asking their pardon no matter how wrong they are. I hope they will let you out. Legally I do not see any other way for the offense was no doubt committed.

I am also sorry to see that you write Joshee that there is no freedom here unless one pretends to Christianity. Such a course is wrong and very unnecessary. The Vedas say that you must not revile the gods of other men. Karma often follows quickly on such an act. I like you violently oppose Christianity which is really very weak here, but I would be mad to rush into their places of worship and preach contrary-wise. But you tried in the one place where they are strong.

I should be sorry to see you pretend to Christianity. If you do you will be reviled by these people; if you do not, you will have the respect and aid of the hosts of non Christian people who are all over this land.

Joshee spoke against the religion in Boston and was well received but it was in a hall where free speech prevails.

I will go down to Asbury Park today and try to see Stokes and do what I can for you. I do not know where your things are but will try and find them.

Hoping you will be soon released,

I am fraternally yours


F. T. S.

P.O. Box 2659 N. Y.
S. Govina Row Sattay
Aug. 31 1886

Dear Sir and Brother:

My name, which you could not read, is, Wm Q. Judge. I am pres't of the N Y Theosophical Society and one of the founders of the Society whose headquarters now are in India, at Madras, and I was there in 1884.

I saw the N Y Sun about your case and they put in an account, and now a Herald reporter wants to see you about it.

I did not mean that you had disturbed their services or blasphemed but that you had committed sufficient offence for them as they own the whole of Ocean Grove and can exclude any one they like. I thought you were injudicious for I know the temper of these bigots. Next time you will not be caught. In any public place you can say what you please but not in a place like that.

You have sympathizers everywhere.

I went down to Ocean Grove and found you had got out and gone away and was sorry I missed you. So I did the next best thing which was to fully ventilate your case in the N Y Sun and it has now gone over the whole country. I will show your letter to the Herald man and perhaps he may put in some more which will give those people at Ocean Grove a good public flogging which they deserve.

Sincerely yours


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