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theosophical transformations from HPB to Shirley Maclaine

Aug 31, 1995 10:06 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Ann Bermingham,

>The May/June 95' issue of UFO magazine is devoted to UFO cults.
>One particular article is about Dan Fry, George Adamski and
>Marion Keech, both of who claimed to have been contacted by
>extraterrestrials and later went on to form cults.
>The author, Peter Jordan, claims that they all got more than a
>little inspiration from theosophical writings.

 I'm so glad that you raised this issue. The distillation of
theosophical ideas from one writer to another, each adding a
twist, changing meanings and contexts so that the ideas
eventually look more like confused parodies of the originals has
been much more than a passing interest with me, and I have been
quietly trying to follow the trail for some years. Gregory
Tillett in his biography of CWL pointed out, for instance, that
theosophical terminology that has entered public consciousness is
understood in the same way that CWL understood the terms, not how
HPB used them. For instance "Masters" are publicly understood
according to CWL's descriptions, not HPB's. "Astral" is used the
way CWL used the term, not how HPB used it and so on. I think
the reason for this is because CWL is so much easier to read than
HPB. After teaching SD classes for over twenty years in both ULT
and Adyar groups, I've observed that much of HPB's rhetoric is
really too sophisticated for most readers. I'm not talking about
too many "big words", but her organization of thought, her
subtleties and her flow of logic is above the level that the
average person is able to read anymore. Thus, since early in
this century, CWL and AB's books were promoted as
"clarifications" of HPB's ideas. Most of those early members
never thought of the possibility that some of these
"clarifications" might be misreadings. And so it goes all the
way down to Shirley Maclaine who's writings are also full of
"theosophical" ideas. If the Theosophical Society is to be the
corner stone for future new religions, it would make sense that
these new religions would be based upon distillations and
misreadings of the original material. Is that not what the
various sects of Christianity are about--misreadings of Jesus'
message, now lost in theology?

I wrote:

>> Boris deZirkoff controlled the editing process of HPB's
>>works for the Collected Writings. Dara Eklund has that
>>responsibility now. She understands HPB and endeavors to stay
>>true to the originals. Of course, there is nothing like the
>>originals themselves, but all of that is rare now.

Ann responds:

>This is also true of Yogananda's book. There was editing done
>on it by the Self-Realization Fellowship, after he died, to make
>it fit their ideas. Old originals of Biography of a Yoga are
>highly prized.
 I've heard of this. Do you know at which point (which
editions) they began to make changes?

Jerry Hejka-Ekins
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