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ethics, history

Aug 18, 1994 09:53 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Paul Johnson,

PJ> My source for both stories you ask about is the first chapter
> of Nethercot's second Besant bio-- The Last Five Lives.  He
> says Judge wrote Annie Mahatma letters warning her that Olcott
> would have her killed, and also that Judge and Annie teamed up
> to get rid of HSO before she changed sides.  As to a demand,
> that's my own interpolation and has no basis other than my
> guess.  They had some goods on him, and, well (this doesn't
> make either B or J look good) the result appears to have been
> blackmail.  But as you no doubt know, Nethercot isn't very
> rigorous about his sources, and therefore further research is
> indicated.

      Not only is Nethercot very rigorous about his sources, but
he uses a lot of secondary ones without checking them against
primary sources.  It is a shame because there is a lot of good
information in his biography too, but it is also full of errors
of fact.
      Nethercot's source for the murder plot seems to come from
Gertrude Marvin William's ~The Passionate Pilgrim A Life of Annie
Besant~, as he does name this book as one of the sources for this
chapter.  Unfortunately Williams is even far less "rigorous"
about sources than Nethercot.

      Regarding the murder plot, She writes:

      "The story is that he [Judge] cabled her [Besant]
peremptorily not to go, and forwarded a warning from the Mahatmas
that there was a plot to poison her and put her out of the way."
(p. 208).

      By beginning the sentence with "The story is," it is pretty
plain that Williams was just repeating hearsay.  If such a
document exists or existed, I would think that Besant would not
have hesitated to use it in her charges against Judge.  It sure
would have made a stronger case for her than she had in the other
documents she used.  If such a document ever existed, it would be
in the Adyar Archives.  No one that I know who has been in those
archives has ever mentioned seeing such a thing.
      The reason why I asked for a source for this is because
plotting to commit first degree murder is a very serious charge
to lay on Olcott.  The suggestion that Judge forged a Mahatma
letter saying that Olcott was plotting such a thing, is also a
pretty serious charge, that if substantiated, would completely
destroy Judge's credibility--at least for me.  I think readers of
our messages deserve to know the source so that they have a way
of "weighing" the evidence.  I suggest that in the future, when
we share historical information on this net, we try to
distinguish between: Information from source documents;
Information from secondary sources; information from oral
history; our own conclusions; our own speculations; conclusions
of other; speculations of others.

Richard Ihle,

      Hejka-Ekins doesn't rhyme with anything that I know of.  But
phonetically one would say:  hay-ka-e-kins.  Its the "j" that
throws everybody except the Swedes and Rumanians, and probably
the Fins.


      Further to Paul Gillingwater's message, you can subscribe to

Dr. James A. Santucci
Dept. of Religious Studies
California State University Fullerton
Fullerton CA. 92634-9480

Subscription is $14.00 in U.S., Canada and Mexico; $16.00
foreign, or $24.00 foreign if you want it airmail.

      The beauty of this journal is that it is independent, and
not sponsored by any Theosophical Organization.

Mike Grener,

MG> Wow! Thanks for the effort you put into this. I need
> to take some time and understand it.

      I'm please to do it.  Please don't hesitate to ask


A> I live in Finland, in a periferia of the Globe. I have only
> recently joined the Theosophical Society, Adyar, section, and
> I'm quite un-aware what is the burden of history in TS. But I
> would prefer that we would concentrate to work in union,
> instead of digging up past misunderstandings. Anyway, I'm of
> the new generation, who hasn't been living of those past times,
> so maybe I'm missing something.
> If us, the theosophists, can't work together and tolerate each
> others, how we can speak about the Universal Brotherhood of all
> Mankind?
> For my sympathy to a group or another these discussions have
> not affected at all, I take those things as something which
> maybe has happened maybe not. Now we have more urgent matters
> to deal with, I think. Peace. Bliss.

      When I first joined the T.S. over thirty years ago, I felt
exactly the same way.  How can we talk about Brotherhood when we
can't get along with each other?  After all it seems so easy--
lets pretend that the world started when the sun rose this
morning--no past to think about--and start concentrating on the
present, and just do the work!  Sadly, reality is never as easy
as our ideals.
      The sad truth is that mistakes were made and covered over.
People were led to believe what was not so, and learned to speak
against those who followed other authorities, who also made
mistakes that were covered over.  Thus--speaking frankly--we have
been lied to, and to many members depend upon authorities to tell
them what the truth is.  The bottom line is, in MHO, that we will
be able to work together towards brotherhood when we start being
our own authority and stop blindly following chosen theosophical
leaders out of the belief that they are in some way spiritually
superior.  We have to learn to put self-autonomy over loyalty to
spiritual leaders.  This was the original message in the early
Theosophical Society, and repeated by Krishnamurti in 1930.  But
by the turn of the century, it was already becoming obscured in
the Adyar Society.
      From another perspective, the controversies are much more
than "past misunderstandings."  They tell us about the true
nature of respected people in the T.M.--including the nature of
the Masters.  They tell us who, if anybody, has any so called
"occult authority."  They tell us about the direction the
founders had in mind for the Theosophical Society, and the
directions their successors had in mind.  Without a clear idea of
what those directions are, how are we to determine how to best
serve the Theosophical Movement?--By putting our faith in the
leaders of our chosen theosophical organization?  If we do, then
to a greater or lessor degree, we have given over our right to
figure things out for ourself to someone who would be more than
happy to do your thinking for us.  For a very significant number
of followers who prefer not to think, this is a very good
alternative--but its not for me.
      To put it still in another way: we are told that The
Theosophical Society is an "educational organization."  The
literature is supposed to teach us about occult things, not
normally taught elesewhere.  If we join the E.S., we are supposed
to have taken a step towards the Spiritual Path that will lead
towards Adeptship, and eventually to Mastership.  We are supposed
to be under the direction of a person who is supposed to be a
direct mouthpiece of the Masters themselves.
      For myself, when I made a choice to dedicate my life towards
the ideals of theosophy, and to put my faith into those methods
and teachings of the founders, and to find applications to them,
I first wanted to know about what I was getting in to.  I started
asking questions, and didn't stop.  I don't take anyone as final
authority on anything. Therefore, I sort out these answers for
myself, using whatever resources I could find.  As a result, I
have accumulated a theosophical library of many thousands of
volumes, and five filing cabinets full of documents.  In my
quest, I have come up with very different answers than those our
leaders would have us believe, or even assume.
      I have been told by more than one person that I could save
myself a lot of trouble by trusting my "spiritual intuition."
But it quickly became obvious that "spiritual intuition" to them
means, that the ideas strike a "harmonious response."  My
experience is that depending on this kind of "spiritual
intuition" is madness.  For me, what I understand to be
"spiritual intuition" (which is very different from their
understanding) comes only after I have done a lot of hard mental
      Their is an old axiom: "Man builds himself."  If we let
others do our discriminating for us, I believe we are making a
big mistake.
      I hope this makes sense.

      Oh yes, and by the way--that library I accumulated, is
available for the use of anyone seeking answers.

A> The point in this story is, that how we really can know which
> is right at the end?
> I can't see that there is an other way to act, but to
> always do what we feel right.

      There are two schools of philosophy concerning this
(teleological,and the deontological), and most people use both,
depending upon the circumstances.  The villagers in your story
used the deontological method.  That is they acted out of
principle.  The principle here was, "obedience to the Guru."  If
they had chosen the teleogical method--"what would have been the
best thing to do considering the circumstances?", they probably
would have decided that it was more important to save lives and
prevent misery.  The Guru's satement upon his return, that they
were "evil" and deserved what they get, has a deep truth.  The
decision *they* made sealed their own fate, which was an "evil"
one in so far as it caused the lives and created misery of their
fellow villagers.  "Evil is as evil does" might be a moral to
your story.
      There was a study done by F. Kohlberg some years ago that
analyses the ways that people make moral and ethical decisions.
It is a very enlightening study, and shows that these decisions
depend upon values.  Later, when I have more time, I will present
that material--or perhaps someone else might want to do this.
      My answer to your question " can we really know what
is right in the end?"  If we always knew this we probably
wouldn't be here.  But I believe that it is our duty to TRY to
make right decisions, and to learn all that we can about making
better ones.

Jerry S.,

JS> The problem that I have with ethics is motive.  Most
> Christians (and I shouldn't really pick on Christians, because
> it is true across the board) are ethical because they believe
> that this will get them into heaven.  In other words, ethics
> are a means to an end, and this end involves the inflation of
> ego.

      Yes, some people practice ethics for this reason.  Others
practice ethics in order to "do the right thing."  Different
people are just in different places.

JS> The problem that I have with ethics, is that it is all too
> easy to use ethics as a means to further inflate the ego, which
> for most of us is already quite large enough.

      My experience is that practicing ethics isn't always very
easy.  Sometimes I have to make desisions are not to my personal
benefit, and/or forces me to swallow my pride and take a less
selfish perspective.

JS> What I am suggesting is that we emphasize compassion and
> concern for the welfare of others, together with respect for
> all living beings.  If we do this, then ethics will be a
> natural fallout, and will tend to take care of itself.

      Sounds good to me.

Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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