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Reply to Paul K. Regarding THE MAHATMA LETTERS

Jul 27, 1996 05:13 AM
by Eldon B. Tucker

Paul K:

It was interesting to read your analysis of THE MAHATMA LETTERS,
and your theory that they are part of a hoax played upon the West
by the Mahatmas, a hoax including a phoney or made-up set of
theosophical doctrines.

A cursory reading of your posting would make it seem like an
attack on Theosophy. But you are simply expressing what seems
obvious and true from a person of a certain background. And
there are more people in the world that hold that background than
hold what I might call the traditional theosophical view.

Theosophy is not, though, a house of cards, standing upon some
scientific tidbits, ready to collapse with the slightest
perturbation. It does not stand or fall on any particular stray
comment made regarding science in some book.

You may be able to find a few points and either disprove them, as
they seem to have been said, or make a strong argument against
them. That might indicate that a particular writer was not 100
percent right in everything said. Or it could mean that there
are other interpretations of a particular passage, something less
obvious being written about.

When some people hear a point or two under attack, they might be
swayed, and change their beliefs. Others may be rigid in their
thinking, "true believers", and unswayed by anything they hear or
experience in life. But I'd suggest that there is also a third
category with Theosophists, some who have a view of things where
their thinking is based on a solid foundation, one that depends
on different ways of thinking about and experiencing life.

The modern or postmodern paradigm or worldview has basic
assumptions about the world, things that are assumed true,
assumptions regarding the way the world is and how it works. 
These determine what is "obviously true" and what might be
rejected out of hand. So does Theosophy, and they are quite far

While some degree of truth and reality can be achieved by modern
science, when it focused on the physical world, the biggest part
of life is unseen, and an understanding of it requires the
observer, the knowner, the person to grow and achieve some degree
of spiritual progress.

You mention that you're not sure if the non-scientific materials
in THE MAHATMA LETTERS make sense. It's true that a certain
background of study is necessary to appreciate the letters. 
Theosophical writings based on the source literature will explain
and amplify what you would read. Some later theosophical
writers, thought, taught different ideas and if your background
of reading in Theosophy solely consisted of their works, you
might very well have trouble making sense of the letters.

Another aspect of making sense of the materials depends upon the
approach that you take, and what you've made of them. I'd find
the literature as a bona fide approach to the spiritual, somewhat
along Jnana Yoga lines. There's the experience of reading and
book learning of the literature. Then, I'd say, there can come a
further step, one of "taking the dive" or "crossing the abyss".

The initial experience of Theosophy, as something to simply
learn, brings one to a plateau, a point where there are no
further rewards for study and learning. This can either be
"broken through", like a koan is solved, or it can remain
impassible, until one's energy is exhausted, and one's interest
in the philosophy fades, and it takes on an arbitrary,
nonsensical nature.

The experience of "going further" is akin to having an inner
teacher, a source of knowing things. It has something to do with
different ways of approaching wisdom, perhaps the generic
ability to think in different ways. It might be described
somewhat in terms of symbolic thought, thinking in metaphor,
intuition, but these terms don't really work very well.

Regarding some of the facts that you mentioned in THE MAHATMA
LETTERS, we discussed Atlantis a bit. The velocity of light does
change. Light can be either a wave or a particle. As a
particle, a photon, it might take hundreds of thousands of years
to make its way to the surface of the sun (according to an
article in DISCOVER). This is certainly slower than it's nearly
average speed in space. The statement in the letters regarding
the sun having iron was "the Sun is full of iron vapours", not
that it substantially consisted of iron.

As to the Sun's temperature, I did not come across the reference
in the letters. It's 5800 Kelvin on the surface, 15,000,000
Kelvin in the interior, and 4300 Kelvin in its sunspots, which
are *relatively* cold. Another aspect on "cold" has to do with
the absence of a body to act upon. If I were to shine flashlight
in outer space, with no object to reflect it back, it would seem
dark, as thought I had no light. Similarly, something would seem
"cold", or lacking in heat, in the absence of some object to be
heated. A third aspect might relate to how the sun might seen if
actually visited, presumably on a higher plane.

THE MAHATMA LETTERS were private, to Sinnett (primarily, although
a few were to Hume). They were not reviewed and written, I
assume, with the idea of public dissemination. It's said that
THE SECRET DOCTRINE was the join production of HPB and her
Teachers. They reviewed the materials, as they were being
written. Personal letters aren't subject to the same degree of
scrutiny as a major literary work intended to be the cornerstone
of a new effort to enlighten the West. We're all inclined to
make more mistakes in letters than in materials intended for
production. So this may partly explain any errors of fact that
may have appeared.

Also, certain materials may not have been directly explained. KH
mentions in the letters that a student would have to come to
them, or settle for crumbs. He also mentions that their
teachings, if told plainly, to the uninitiated, would sound like
gibberish. This is why myths, blinds, and other methods of
communicating ideas in some exoteric form are used.

A reader must have the necessary background, the necessary
training, the inner connection to various doctrines in order to
recognize and benefit from such writings. The material is
plainly presented "for those with eyes to see", but also veiled,
giving the appearance of some foolish religious or mythological
stories, or perhaps some arbitrary set of metaphysical rules and

I don't think that Theosophy is too concerned with making
pronouncements regarding science. And although the Mahatmas may
have a generic ability to know things, and have experiences of
life on this and other worlds that we may not have the slightest
notion of, they can certainly learn from it as well. It deals
with but a tiny corner of this vast multiverse that we live in,
but it does have, these past few centuries, a good track record
of advancing knowledge of the material world.

When in the theosophical literature we see mention of scientific
items, or comments on mathematics and the physical world, we have
to be careful to understand the context of the statement. What
is being said? It may not be what it appears, as first glance. 
Even the reference to specific numbers may have hidden meanings,
or special ways of looking at them. Consider the number "777". 
It could mean that specific number, or something else, like, for
instance, the number seven, at three scales of being, or the
completion of a threefold cycle, or a cycle with three scales,
somewhat like 24-60-60 would mean, with reference to a clock, in 
talking of the time in a day.

How is anything of this to be proved, any of the theosophical
doctrines or what I've said of them? They involve things that go
beyond the ability of a scientist to detect, with the best of
instruments and experimental design. They involve something
experiential. The person that would know has to tread the Path
and to change, grow, and experience life. And with that growth
and those experiences comes both knowledge and wisdom, dealing
with things that will never appear in any college textbook or be
posted on any web page.

-- Eldon

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