book contract and outline
Jan 04, 1994 07:39 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
To all interested in advising me constructively--
Amazingly, SUNY Press responded to my query about a sequel
to the book now in production with an immediate contract. They
specify the title to be simply "Disciples of the Theosophical
Masters," apparently thinking "Chelas" is too in-group a word.
I have until 10/1 to submit a finished ms. About 150 pages
(double spaced) are on hand but all needs drastic rewriting.
Anyone's advice is welcome but I do want to use what I have
from ISM and unpublished ms., so the shape of the book is somewhat
foreordained. Here's the outline:
Prologue: Initiatory Power Struggles
From the founding of the Theosophical Society, competition
for power was mediated through claims about Masters and
initiations. Madame Blavatsky's initiatory experiences in
varied traditions are compared and contrasted with myths that
surround them. Relations among Blavatsky, Olcott, Judge,
Besant, Leadbeater, Sinnett, Hume and others are examined to
discern the organizational impact of initiatory competition in
1. Chelas and Rajas
During Blavatsky's years in India, she and her Masters
recruited several native rulers and young "chelas" as
Theosophists. Why did this alliance falter in the wake of
Hodgson's report to the Society for Psychical Research?
Primary sources provide extensive clues.
2. Preserving the Dharma
More successful and lasting was Theosophy's impact on the
Buddhist world. Its contribution to Buddhist revival is
reviewed with emphasis on the careers of Colonel Olcott,
Anagarika Dharmapala, Esper Ukhtomskii and Alexandra David-Neel.
3. The Secret World of Jamal ad-Din
Jamal ad-Din "al-Afghani" played the role of spiritual
Master or political mentor to an amazing variety of disciples.
The careers of Muhammad Abduh, Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Adib
Ishaq, Mirza Reza Kirmani and Isabelle Eberhardt are reviewed
in order to trace the legacy of Afghani.
4. An Occult Revival
Most surviving expressions of the 19th-century occult
revival in Europe and America have some initiatory links to
Blavatsky. These are examined with emphasis on the Hermetic
Brotherhood of Luxor, the Rites of Memphis and Mizraim, the
Golden Dawn, the Ordo Templi Orientis, and astrology.
5. A Fourth Way into the New Age
The occult universe of Blavatsky's Masters included all the
major figures of the Fourth Way movement. Gurdjieff, Ouspensky
and Orage are discussed as initiatory heirs to Blavatsky. The
content of Gurdjieff's teachin is compared and contrasted with
Theosophy, with emphasis on Isma`ili septenary motifs.
I plan to work on this in the order given above. The prologue
and chapter 4 haven't been started, but everything else is over
half done. All comments welcome.
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