Nov 06, 1995 09:16 PM
by K. Paul Johnson
According to Jerry Hejka-Ekins:
responding to KPJ--
> I would call that an elaborate fraud. It was she who
> advertised the existance of the Masters and it was she who
> explained their nature. Whether or not her fraud was
> "deliberate" is an interesting question but makes the result no
> less of a fraud.
There are two reasons why I resist labelling HPB a fraud while
believing her capable guilty of doing things that you regard as
deserving that label. Both relate to the meaning of "blinds."
First HPB said several things ABOUT her statements regarding
the Masters that should give pause. Early on in 1875's "Letter
to Hiraf" she wrote:
The Oriental Cabala the practical full and only existing
copy is carefully preserved at the headquarters of this
Brotherhood in the East and I may safely vouch will never
come out of its possession...
where they are who they are is more than is given me to
reveal. Perhaps I do not know it myself and only dreamed it.
Thousands will say it is all imagination; so be it. Time will
show. The only thing I can say is that such a body exists and
that the location of their Brotherhoods will never be revealed
to other countries until the day when Humanity shall awake in
a mass from its spiritual lethargy and open its blind eyes to
the dazzling light of truth. A too premature discovery might
blind them perhaps forever.BCW I: 106
If she tells us in advance that she is not allowed to give out
accurate information about the location of the Brotherhoods
and then later she gives out purported information about those
locations what are we to think? Her vows of secrecy got
lifted by somebody so she was allowed to give out accurate
information? Or that this is disinformation consistent with
her vow NOT to reveal the truth?
There are things said AFTER the India debacle to Hodgson in
letters that bear out the idea that the real Masters were
portrayed in a deceptive light. And what about Morya's own
statement quoted at the beginning of TMR which I don't have
before me to the effect that HPB is required often to withhold
accurate information about the Masters and "at times to
mislead." Not sure of quote
That's point one-- is it really a fraud if she told us
beforehand not to believe her on this subject and told us
afterwards not to believe everything that had been alleged of
Point two is that HPB ALSO TOLD THE TRUTH ABOUT THE MASTERS.
That is a tremendous amount of what she says of them DOES
check out when you look to historical sources. You CAN see a
succession of mentors with inside knowledge of virtually every
esoteric tradition synthesized in her writings. Particularly
in her Russian writings we get a much more down-to-earth
portrayal of her relations with the Masters that yields plenty
of clues to her real associations. So is she a fraud if she
tells us a large amount of the truth mixes it up with fiction
and then warns us that this is the case? To me that's an
occultist using blinds.
> > How does this gain public respect for HPB and the
> > Masters?
>From the rather pathetic borderline psychotic down-on-her-luck
medium of Marion Meade we go to a portrait of HPB as the most
learned woman of her century to quote Godwin. Showing the
succession of learned and often powerful men and women under
whose inspiration she developed succeeds in lifting her forever
from the Meade/Washington/Campbell portrayal. Admittedly it's
respect as an intellectual force and a historical influence that
she gets from my readers not respect as a religious leader.
re: ways of seeing the Masters
> I see at least one more which I think is far more important
> than the two you mentioned--the neo-theosophical portrayal of the
> Masters which is precisely the one which the public is most
> familiar and what the public will be measuring their concepts of
> the Masters against when reading your book.
And I would suggest that my work goes a lot further toward
undermining that illusion than all the anti-HPB books combined.
Why else do I get so much more grief than Washington et al?
> 03 They are fictionalized portrayals of real people who were
> HPB's spiritual teachers and occult sponsors
> Right. Now how does this proposal gain respect for HPB and
> the Masters?
I repeat: Theosophy is genuinely derived from the most highly
qualified individuals of the time sharing their wisdom with
HPB. Dayananda was the most important Hindu reformer of his
time; Jamal ad-Din the most influential Islamic reformer;
Thakar Singh the central figure in the Sikh reform movement;
Sumangala the leading figure in revival of Sinhalese Buddhism.
That someone like HPB was able to move in their circles makes
her in a sense greater than all of them--- the most truly
global consciousness of her century as far as I can see. Why
is it not clear that this is a person and network of advisors
deserving of more respect than HPB and her Masters have
heretofore been accorded by non-Theosophists?
> The effect of my work on the non-Theosophical reader's view of
> HPB and the Masters appears to be to demolish option 01
> We can't know for sure but it seems unlikely that people
> who already made up their minds that the Masters don't exist
> would be interested in reading your book in the first place. But
> for that chance reader-- you have given that person another
> option. Have you met anyone who ABSOLUTELY did not believe in
> the existence of the Masters who were drawn to read your book
> under their own volition? I'm not referring to people who had
> doubts about the Masters but those who were convinced by people
> like Marion Meade and Washington that they didn't exist.
Several. Greg Tillett for starters told me "I used to
believe they were entirely fictional but you convinced me I
was wrong." David C. Lane known for his skeptical writings on
Eckankar and the Radhasoami movement said the same. No
non-Theosophist reader has EVER said to me "I still think it's
more likely that the Masters are totally fictional." It's
almost inconceivable that such a view could survive an
attentive reading of my books. Of course inertia means that it
will take a long time for this to sink down to the level of the
general reader but scholars interested in the field have yet
shown no signs of rejecting the fundamental thesis. Although
Theosophists have furiously rejected the thesis as they misread
it-- that I have conclusively established solid one-to-one
identifications for all the pseudonymous Masters in
> So you are saying that your book has brought non-
> theosophists who did not believe in the Masters to accept your
> thesis "that the Masters existed but were not accurately
> described by HPB"? Any evidence of this?
Abundant; even unanimous from the feedback I get.
> I agree. "Proving" this would be a step forward and would
> wipe out your first interpretation: that the Masters don't exist;
> and wipe out your second: that the Masters are as HPB described
> them. It would also wipe out my additional interpretation: the
> neo-theosophical concept the Masters. However you didn't "prove
> it." You offered only a "suggestion" as Godwin said in your
> introduction. Therefore you have done nothing more than add
> another possibility to the above three and others too.
No I have done considerably more than that I really do
believe. Using Barzun's progression from possible through
plausible through probable to proven let's weigh the four
options you cite:
1 The Masters are totally fictional. I'd say I have proven
this one impossible. Finding many individuals who correspond
in many salient details to the descriptions of the Masters
makes my option 03 the most plausible IMO. But finding a single
person whose identity as a Theosophical Master can be
established rules out option 01 completely. And with Dayananda
the Sengchen Tulku Swami Sankaracharya maybe Shyamaji
Krishnavarma the evidence of her and Olcott's having seen them
as Master figures is quite strong-- stronger than in other
cases that are more vulnerable to criticism.
2 The Masters are just as described in the Theosophical
literature. This one too is actually impossible. For
example there are four conflicting versions-- major
conflicts-- of HPB's acquaintance with Morya. Three MUST be
false. Therefore not EVERYTHING HPB wrote about Morya can be
true; therefore not everything she wrote about the Masters can
be true. But apart from this problem the "all true" faction
must recognize that THEY ARE MAKING AN EXTRAORDINARY CLAIM THAT
REQUIRES EXTRAORDINARY PROOF while I am making an ordinary
claim that is perceived as much more plausible a priori to
readers who are not already committed to Theosophical dogma.
3 The Masters are more accurately described by
neo-Theosophical writers like Leadbeater or Bailey than by
HPB. That is an even more extraordinary claim for which NO
proof has ever been cited no historical proof that is
although Hodson's visions suffice for some. Highly
implausible no supporting evidence but not ruled out.
4 The Masters did exist but were not accurately described by
HPB. This one has the virtue of HPB's own testimony as well
as the overwhelming preponderance of evidence.
Within #4 of course is room for an infinite number of
specific hypotheses about specific Masters an area in which I
feel much less confident that my work will pan out in the long
run. But the overall thesis is a winner.
> But to return to my original question: how does "proving" or
> even "suggesting" that "in attempting to conceal the identities
> of the Masters while proving their existence HPB became involved
> in an elaborate mixture of truth and fiction that developed once
> underway in ways that she could not control" give HPB and
> theosophy some long overdue respect? It seems that you are
> substituting one negative perception for another.
Negative if you are looking for a spiritual leader who never
told a lie. Not so negative if you are looking for someone
with real wisdom and knowledge derived from genuine
But the real
> question is what is the truth of the matter? If neither option
> through the trouble of checking those references. I think it is
> the rare reader who already knows the literature as well as you
> that you have to lookout for and aim to convince. If you can
> convince that reader then the rest are easy.
If I can convince that reader I can fly to the moon and back
in 60 seconds. Sorry-- don't mean that to be nasty. But the
more preconceptions about the Masters a person has based on
familiarity with the literature the more resistance my thesis
will encounter. That's not bad just the way of the world.
Any new approach is welcomed more by people LOOKING for a new
approach than by people satisfied with the one they have.
> Are you saying that your proof readers never brought these
> "implications" to your attention?
SUNY provides only copy editing; the book was not edited at all
in the sense of my getting feedback on major issues. My
proofreader was not a Theosophist and would not care about
implications that would get me in hot water with the group.
> Does my work really imply that the Mahatma letters are
> fabrications? I think not; HPB evidently believed herself able
> to enter into telepathic communication with adepts she knew and
> wrote while in such a state of consciousness.
> I think so. Compare the rhetoric of your statement with the
> perjoratives that I have starred in Godwins' intro:
> The two Mahatmas most involved with the Theosophical Society
> during HPB's indian years were called Morya and Koot Hoomi
> and were *alleged* to perform *wondrous psychic feats*
> through her. p. 02
> Already doubt in being put into the minds of the readers
> concerning the possibility of "feats" like the "telepathic
> communication" that you suggest above. Now for your statements:
There were stranger feats than that
like the cup and saucer phenomenon that can only be called
wondrous. But I don't see how you can blame Godwin or me for
putting doubts into anyone's minds. Those doubts have been the
predominant non-Theosophical outlook on HPB for more than a
century. Again Theosophists' view of HPB is an extraordinary
claim for which the outside world is awaiting extraordinary
proof and not getting it.
> Although the previously cited pages imply that Olcott was
> responsible for writing some of the later KH letters and
> that Thakar Singh had a role in the correspondence with
> Sinnett HPB clearly was deeply involved p. 174
> This sounds like the suggestion of a fabrication to me. And your
She herself later admitted that sometimes she was the physical
writer of words psychically transmitted. What's fabricating
> The nature and extent of HPB's communication with the
> Masters remain mysterious. But it is reasonable to conclude
> that the Mahatma letters are more the work of HPB than
> believers care to accept yet more inspired by real Masters
> than her critic have even imagined p. 175.
> Now where is your suggestion that HPB was in telepathic
> communication with the Adepts? I realize that you quote Sinnett
in the word "inspired"-- which I leave open as to HOW inspired
they were meaning I don't know the extent of authorial
responsibility for the "inspirers" living or dead and the
recipient of the inspiration HPB respectively.
> uninformed reader who believes in the possibility of telepathy I
> believe that I would still come to the conclusion from your
> description that HPB and perhaps Olcott fabricated the letters.
> Whether or not they were influenced by Thakar Singh would count
> for nothing in raising my estimation of HPB.
Again I think you are evaluating HPB from a very particular
point of view. "Was this person honest enough to justify my
having respected her as a spiritual leader for most of my
life?" That stacks the decks in a very different way from
asking "Was she a great person did she accomplish important
things for humanity was her knowledge genuine were her
> Not ruling out something doesn't give much. I don't rule
> out that the pyramids were built by aliens either; but I wouldn't
> bet on it.
Let me make the statement stronger then and say in light of
the first fragment in the Voice of the Silence in light of
HPB's associations with Hindus Sikhs and Buddhists I feel
confident that she used certain yogic practices related to the
teachings of Radhasoami for making an inner contact with her
literary "inspirers" and that this contact was productive of
some highly valuable writings. As to what was REALLY going on
how genuine the telepathy was whether they were sending what
she was receiving-- one has eventually to say "How the hell do
I know?" Which I wish more Theosophists were willing to admit
about murky issues like these.
> And thank you. This was a good chat and it clarified some
> of my own thinking too.
I found this very enjoyable and must say am able to speak
frankly and less defensively about these matters now that I
don't have to worry about "how can you call yourself a
Theosophist and say that..."
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