Aug 12, 1994 04:16 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
No, I'm sure we have never met. We used to attend Convention
every other year, and I remember figuring that I might bump
into you sooner or later. It never happened.
As for the censorship issue--Anything critical of H.P.B.
(within very broad limits) is fair game, and has been done for
years by the Adyar Society. Olcott started this by publishing
his memoirs in ~The Theosophist~ after H.P.B. had died.
Since he had complete control over that journal, he could do
anything he wanted. But when he sent the series to the
Countess Wachmeister (she controlled the publishing house),
for publication as the first volume of ~Old Diary Leaves,~ she
refused it, because Olcott denigrated H.P.B. in the mss,
making a lot of untrue and misleading statements about her.
Not to be deterred, Olcott published O.D.L. through G.P.
Putnam's Sons--an outside publisher. Once Wachmeister was out
of the way in 1900, the series was finished through T.P.S.
When the entire series (6 vols.) was to be reprinted through
Adyar in the early 70's, Boris de Zirkoff's student put
together a dossier documenting the errors Olcott made
concerning H.P.B., and provided them with references and
quotes from original documents giving the correct information.
She did this so that they would be able to add editorial
annotations to the work correcting mis-information. In other
words, she did their homework for them. She received a reply
telling her that their was no interest in this material, and
as we all know, the O.D.L. series was reprinted with no
I suggest that if you really want to test the censorship
issue, try a subject that Adyar cares about. Why don't you
try writing an article questioning Leadbeater's teachings? Or
how about a historical article on the political influence of
the E.S. on the T.S. under Besant and her successors?
Articles being critical of H.P.B. is old hat, perfectly
acceptable, and has been done for years in the name of
"freedom of expression."
As for Ken Wilber--he's accepted.
PJ> John on the other hand was more positive about > content and
quality of writing, but judged its flaws >irremediable. (The >
flaws he objected to were related to a tendency to > overinterpret
scanty evidence and force things into patterns > without sufficient
consideration of alternative > interpretations. I took this very
seriously and hope to have > remedied it in the new books).
Of course Algeo's (stated) objection was the same as Santucci
and myself when we reviewed the book for publication through
~Theosophical History~ (though, unlike John, we didn't
consider the "flaws" to have been "irremediable.") Santucci's
issue was purely concerned with scholastic standards, and
otherwise would loved to have published it. We didn't have a
censorship issue with your work. So, that makes I.S.O.T.M.
problematical as a test of censorship with T.P.H. However, it
is interesting that John decided to invoke the scholarship
issue as a reason for turning down your book, when T.P.H. is
normally ridiculously loose on that issue. Doesn't that tell
PJ> The one thing about which I COULD be really negative is that >
Sylvia Cranston's "biography" of HPB got full and enthusiastic >
support from all the organizations which rejected me in various >
You are right of course, Cranston's biography is more of a
compilation and less original writing (that was her
intention), and got a much warmer acceptance. But the issue
here is indeed acceptance. Cranston wrote a book about what
most Theosophist's would like to believe about H.P.B., and you
wrote a book about what most theosophist's don't want to
believe. I don't need to tell you which reading audience is
going to be less critical. The sad truth is that unpopular
ideas require more documentation than popular ones. Based
upon this truism, I think it was predictable that you got a
better reception from non-theosophists who had no vested
interest in the Masters, while Cranston scored better with
Theosophists. That's politics.
PJ> After I self-published, William Metzger > assigned a review for
the AT to Joy Mills, who I thought was > very fair and open-minded.
Emmett reprinted her review in the > AT. No Pasadena or ULT
publication ever acknowledged the book > existed.
See how things work out? When we produced our video and video
guide ~The Perennial Wisdom,~ it was a much better technical
production quality (i.e. lighting, directing, sound etc.)
than anything produced by Wheaton at the time (not to mention
the quality of the content). Yet it received no reviews nor
acknowledgements through the A.T. However, T.U.P. began
distributing it through their catalogue. Now, I understand,
the Quest book shop in Wheaton is also selling it.
We produced that video with the intent that it could be used
by all of the Organizations. Therefore we were very careful
not to make it sound like a publicity rap for any one of them.
When we started showing the finished product around to
representative members of the three Societies, the response
was strange: A Point Loma person thought that the Video was
slated towards U.L.T. A U.L.T. viewer told us that it was
slanted towards Point Loma. Our Wheaton viewer thought that
it was too "narrow."
My views are not unique, but are commonly held among almost
(if not everyone) who has done any real in depth research into
theosophy. The difference is that I express these views.
Others prefer to keep quiet and stay on the "good side" of
everybody that they can. The obvious payoffs of keeping your
mouth shut are having access to archival material in the
Societies and sometimes to get published by them. Keeping
one's mouth shut also lessens the risk of having slanderous
stories circulated, for the purpose of lessening one's
credibility. So my "outspokenness" comes at a great personal
cost. The irony is, that: though I'm very critical of Adyar,
I'm in a sense one of their most devoted members. I have been
with them since 1963, and became a life member almost ten
years ago. I wish nothing but the best for them in their
misguided efforts to be a vehicle for the Theosophical
Movement. Making available suppressed information is the only
effective way I have found so far to help them to get on track
to do what they are supposed to be doing. I would love to
find an easier way. So one might say that I'm one of the best
friends the Adyar Society can have, because of the
opportunities I give them to see and learn from their
For example, we used to do historical slide presentations for
prospective new members at our Lodge when we lived in Los
Angeles. Our rationale was that a historical knowledge of
theosophy is also necessary in order to have a balanced
understanding of the subject. News of our activities caused a
stir in Wheaton, and I received a letter from a former
National President informing me that there is an "unwritten
policy" against discussing theosophical history. Shortly
after that, Wheaton produced a historical video, some of which
tried to answer some of the issues we had raised in our own
presentation. Now I have to laugh while reading the first
sentence of Algeo's "Viewpoint" in the current A.T.: "When we
look ahead to the future of Theosophy in the next century, we
must also look back to the past--to the foundation of the
Theosophical Society and the annunciation of modern Theosophy
by H.P. Blavatsky." Its amazing how policies change.
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