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censorship stc.

Aug 12, 1994 04:16 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Richard Ihle,

     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.

Paul Johnson,

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
     us something?

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."

Bill Parrette,

     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.


Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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