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Terry Hobbes's Questions and Comments

Feb 16, 1994 09:36 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

There's no disagreement between us on HPB's "knowing what she
is talking about" generally; she was the most widely traveled
and in many ways the best informed writer on comparative
religion of her time.  But that doesn't imply that in every
specific area she is always reliable.

You ask "Do you accept the Masters and their occult knowledge
as one of her Sources?"  I can only respond-- as you may have
anticipated-- with "yes and no."  In The Masters Revealed I
identify 32 historical figures from whom HPB learned and who
acted as her sponsors in various ways.  Their knowledge was
immense; most of them were recognized authorities in spiritual
traditions-- Masonic, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Kabbalistic, etc.
BUT to refer to them as "Sources" rather than "sources"
suggests a worshipful attitude, which I personally feel is
inappropriate.  To each his own-- I loathe the capitalization
of words to indicate holiness of Those To Whom They Refer--
it's such an affectation.  And to accept the Masters as "one"
of her sources makes little sense-- I accept them as MANY of
her sources-- whose knowledge was considerably more diverse and
less unanimous than has been believed.

You say, after extensive quotes, "K.H. and M. and other members
of the Occult Fraternity have this knowledge...Do you believe
she transmitted Knowledge from that Source?"  Again, yes and
no.  I probably don't believe ANYTHING in the sense you are
meaning.  I know some things, don't know others, have hunches
based on more or less evidence in the huge gray area in
between-- and suspend judgment accordingly.  My tolerance of
ambiguity has grown as I have entered middle age.  Here's my
reading of the evidence related to your question:
There are many occult fraternities; HPB was more knowledgable
about more of them than any one of her time and possibly ever
since.  BUT there is no big Occult Fraternity to which her
Sikh, Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, Masonic etc. Masters all belonged
and which preserved a unitary knowledge shared across
boundaries of language, culture, and space.  Or rather, there
is no historical evidence for such an entity, at least on the
plane of mundane reality; maybe as a metahistorical Platonic
ideal it "exists."  As a concept it has the same slipperiness
as the Collective Unconscious.  Postulating a unitary reality
behind appearances of multiplicity and diversity has a certain
intuitive appeal.  But as a way of explaining history, it tends
to confuse issues and distract attention from the kinds of
inquiry which are productive.  So-- I believe that she
transmitted knowledges from sources at the level of historical
reality; as for Knowledge from a Source-- that's a
metaphysical, metahistorical question that leads into a
labyrinth of confusion when asked in historical context.  At
some level I suppose it's true BUT if there's an "uninterrupted
record covering thousands of generations of Seers" we should
look for it somewhere other than this plane.  That implies
taking the claims of HPB and the Masters as referring to
something metahistorical rather than historical.

As for Tibetan doctrines, my generalizations were apparently
hasty-- but were based on evidence.  Two friends, one a
Scottish Gelugpa initiate, the other an American Kargyutpa,
both of whom know a lot about HPB, presented the same two
points to me (re dugpas and kayas).  Both were emphatic that
HPB was way off base from the general understanding among
Tibetan Buddhists.  Even if the Gelugpa of 1880 were less
fraternal to the redhats than they are now, they never saw them
as Brothers of the Shadow in the modern Theosophical sense.
The Scot said he had searched widely for such a concept in
Asian religious literature and found it-- among Central Asian
Sufis who believe in something they call the Brotherhood of
Satan.  Again, when you ask "do you believe in the existence of
Black Magicians, brothers of the Shadow?" I have to say
simultaneously yes, no and don't know.  Yes, there are
destructive humans with inexplicable power over others; no, I
don't think they all belong the the same conspiracy; and I
don't know in what sense there may be some reservoir of evil
from which they draw energy-- or how conscious they are of
doing so.  I nominate V. Zhirinovsky as some kind of Brother of
the Shadow.

There's plenty of room for further exploration of belief/
disbelief/ suspended judgment on the question of HPB's
Masters.  I hope to stimulate it with the book and thank you
for responding to my posting with such interest.



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