Nov 07, 1995 01:47 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
KPJ regarding HPB's veracity
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?
Are you saying that HPB later gave out an address as to
where we can contact one of these brotherhoods? If she did I
missed it. Please advise me as to where in HPB's writings I can
find this address.
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.
You mean that she withheld information about the Masters?
That she would go to any extreme to preserve the anonymity of the
Masters? No argument there. Even KH said as much when he said
in the Mahatma letters to Sinnett that Koot Hoomi was a nom de
plume. It is clear that the Masters did not wish to become
public figures and HPB was careful to protect this from
happening. HPB as I understand her was interested in making
known the existence of Masters as this was an important concept
in her occult teachings that people with superior spiritual
knowledge and occult powers do exist but she was not allowed to
name names and give out addresses.
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
Yes that fits. They wanted to remain anonymous at all
costs. Even in a letter to Sinnett which you quote HPB found
it more desirable to allow the world to believe that she invented
the Masters then to expose their identity. Though obviously this
was a painful position for her to be forced into.
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
Where did she say this?
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.
By Russian writings you are referring the ~Caves and
Jungles of Hindustan.~ We've been through this before privately.
and places. This was a common mode of fiction during the
Victorian era. Sir Walter Scott was a master of this technique.
There are indeed clues concerning the Masters in this series but
would HPB reveal real clues to their true identities even in
fiction what she would not reveal in fact? I think that would
be too much of a risk since part of the fun of reading this kind
of novel was to try and pick fact from fiction. This kind of
hunting falls under literary criticism which is my field of
expertise. If she mentions Meru then you can say it is
fictional. If she mentions Lahore you can find it on the map.
But if you want to argue that she mentioned Mysore when it
reality she was talking about Meerut then you will have found
yourself trapped in a big guessing game where there are really no
answer--it just looks like there are. That is what made this
kind of fiction fun for her Russian readership.
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.
If you are referring to ~Caves and Jungles~ then that is to
me a woman writing historical fiction. HPB's system of binds as
I have seen them in her writings is the using of a general term
to avoid giving specific information. For instance she might use
Deva when she didn't want you to know that she met Dhyani Chohan.
A Deva could be a Dhyani Chohan but it could also be a nature
spirit. A blind is not a lie or a fabrication but are usually
created by making generalizations in order to avoid giving
specific information. HPB was consistent in how she created
blinds going all the way back at least to ~Isis Unveiled.~
> > 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.
This is not the HPB I saw in your book nor is it the HPB I
saw in Meade or Campbell I've only skimmed Washington so far so
I cant' talk about him yet. You Meade and Campbell all
acknowledge HPB's intelligence and her contacts with other
intelligent people. The three of you also portray HPB as one who
created a deception. The only difference is that I see is that
you argue that HPB's deception was based upon real people. Why
do you feel that HPB is more respectable if she invented the
Masters and fashioned them upon real people then if she invented
them completely from her imagination? It makes little difference
respect as an intellectual force and a historical influence that
she gets from my readers not respect as a religious leader.
I don't believe HPB ever intended to be a religious leader.
If she were respected for what she was and what she did for the
intellectual atmosphere of civilization she would be classed as
a philosopher. But philosophy is a male only field so she never
would have been accepted anyway.
JHE 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?
Anti HPB books generally use the neo-theosophical portrayal
as the straw man to destroy and replace it with nothing. As far
as a portrayal of HPB goes I'm not sure however that your
scenario is any better than the nothing they were left with.
> 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.
But these are not the people she quotes nor interacts with
in her writings. If you are to argue that "Theosophy is
genuinely derived from the most highly qualified individuals of
the time..." then we can look at the people and the books she
quotes from in order to determine who those individuals were whom
she derived Theosophy from. Here the list is a very different
one: E. Levi Bailley Crooks Skinner Gerald Massey and of
course the religious and philosophical classics. She also has
relatively little to say about Islam or Sikhism. I find it more
reasonable to assume that the source of information are those
whom she gave credit to. To argue that HPB quoted from a vast
array of literature to hide the identities of her informers is
too fantastic for me to accept.
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?
Because: 1. She was a woman therefore she has no business
writing philosophical works; 2. She argued against and proved
wrong some of the major male authorities during her time e.g.
Muller and Rhys-Davids; 3. She stood up against institutional
Christianity; 4. She opposed the materialistic bent of science;
5. She opposed the beliefs of the Spiritualists; 6. She argued
that Eastern philosophy deserves at least equal respect to
Western philosophy. With all of the enemies she made taking
these stands who was left to speak well of her?
> 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
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.
I had in mind the general reader--the populous at large not
the occult historians who read everything that comes out at a
matter of course. But it is still interesting that Tillett and
Lane were converted from a belief that HPB made up to Master to a
belief that HPB fabricated the Masters upon people who she knew.
I also agree that it seems more reasonable that HPB or anyone
else would create fiction from bits of fact then to create it
whole cloth. If those were my only possible options I would
find the former more believable too. My point however which I
admit was not clear is that the general reader who did not
believe in the Masters in the first place would not be likely to
buy and read a book on the subject. However your point is also
well taken that if people like Tillett and Lane accept your
thesis then they would in turn cite and support your book in
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
Why do Theosophists "misread" your book but other people
don't? Does disagreeing with your conclusions necessarily mean
that your book was misread? Do you believe that I have accused
you of "conclusively" establishing "solid one-to-one
identifications for all the pseudonymous Masters in Theosophical
> 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.
Are you thinking of the Tilletts and the Lanes or people
from the general public?
> 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.
OK lets take them one at a time: For Dayananda you cite
p 111 a KH letter saying that "D. Swami was an initiated Yogi
a very high chela at Bandrinath endowed some years back with
great powers and a knowledge which he has since forfeited and
that HPB told you the truth...." That sounds like a failed chela
to me not a Master. Olcott's second hand account of HPB's
statement about him that you cite p 109 is ambiguous and may
very well be supportive to the statement in the KH letter.
Remember an Adept is not a Mahatma. Both HPB and Olcott
distinguished between the two. For Sengchen Tulku you have an
enigma but very possibly a person whom HPB gained information.
But does HPB or HSO call him a Mahatma? For Swami Sankaracharya
you cite p. 208 an article by HPB showing that she considered
him an "initiated Adept"--still not a Mahatma. So much for your
establishment of a "Theosophical Master."
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.
We would have to examine and evaluate these "conflicting
statements." Conflicting does not necessary mean untrue.
However HPB's claims about the Mahatmas are in themselves
extraordinary and IMO unprovable. But unprovable does not
necessarily mean false. As for "Dogma" belief in the Masters in
any form never was such in the TS.
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.
Yes--a real possibility but as you say lots of room for
interpretation. This is one that I'm also happy to entertain
however I don't feel confident that your specific hypotheses
will pan out either.
> 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
For myself I'm neither looking for a spiritual leader who
never told a lie nor am I looking for one who created a Mahatmic
Myth. Actually I'm not looking for a spiritual leader at all.
However an HPB as you propose not only created an illusion
concerning the Masters but by the falsity of the concept of a
group of in effect living Buddhas this aspect of her teachings
falls into question. Further if she fabricated the Mahatmas
from these people you mention then she fabricated the
Theosophical teachings from them also. This doesn't sound like a
person "with real wisdom and knowledge" but someone who patches
together information and hides the source of it.
> 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.
On the other hand it is easy to convince someone of
something they know nothing about. I'm sorry but a person who
is knowledgeable about the literature is not necessarily closed--
they just require a more complete and more informed explanation
then someone who knows nothing. An informed person will have
more questions which you will have to answer. The only informed
person I know of who has asked those hard questions is Dan
Caldwell yet you will not publicly defend your book against his
questions. If your thesis is strong then you can weather his
questions until he runs out of them. As for me I'm not
challenging your book but only responding to it. There is a big
> 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.
Too bad. I would never do it that way.
> 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
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.
There are more options than acceptance and rejection of the
phenomena. A third option is the non committed description--no
"alleged" no perjoratives no adjectives indicating either
acceptance or rejection--just an indication that this is what is
of record. Then if you want to go into it you can write about
how different people responded to the phenomena--ie what they
said about it but pro and con. To me this approach is far
greater evidence of objectivity than the addition of
> 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 conclusion:
She herself later admitted that sometimes she was the physical
writer of words psychically transmitted. What's fabricating
Nothing if you had taken the time to relate to the reader
HPB's explanation of how Mahatma Letters are transmitted.
Otherwise it appears that she was 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
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.
"Inspired" doesn't mean "telepathic." To make the
suggestion you would have to use the word "telepathic" or a word
that leads the reader to understand that you are talking about
telepathy. Making a suggestion is also not the same as "leaving
> 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
I'm asking neither question. First of all HPB is not my
"spiritual teacher" and my respect for her rests upon what she
produced--not her personality. I already have opinions about her
"greatness" what she "accomplished" and the "genuineness" of
her knowledge which you theses does not address. As for her
intentions your thesis directly involves this. Though you do
not see her characterization of her as a fraud because of her
good intentions I'm of the opinion that a fraud can be
perpetuated under either good or evil intentions.
> 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.
It seems that their "sending what she was receiving" is an
important question to investigate concerning your argument that
her Theosophical teachings were based upon these people.
> 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..."
I never said or even hinted such a thing to you. Do you
believe that I did?
Good discussion. Thanks.
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