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TS Organization - Part 1 of 4

Jul 12, 1997 12:22 PM
by ramadoss

Here is a very interesting article by HPB.
Due to its size, it is posted in four parts.


Article by H. P. Blavatsky

[In order to leave no room for equivocation, the members of the T.S. have to
be reminded of the origin of the Society in 1875. Sent to the U.S. of
America in 1873 for the purpose of organizing a group of workers on a
psychic plane, two years later the writer received orders from her Master
and Teacher to form the nucleus of a regular Society whose objects were
broadly stated as follows: 

(1) Universal Brotherhood;

(2) No distinction to be made by the members between races, creeds, or
social positions, but every member had to be judged and dealt by on his
personal merits;

(3) To study the philosophies of the East--those of India chiefly,
presenting them gradually to the public in various works that would
interpret exoteric religions in the light of esoteric teachings;

(4) To oppose materialism and theological dogmatism in every possible way,
by demonstrating the existence of occult forces unknown to Science, in
Nature, and the presence of psychic and spiritual powers in Man; trying, at
the same time, to enlarge the views of the Spiritualists by showing them
that there are other, many other agencies at work in the production of
phenomena besides the "Spirits" of the dead. Superstition had to be exposed
and avoided; and occult forces, beneficent and maleficent- ever surrounding
us and manifesting their presence in various ways--demonstrated to the best
of our ability.

Such was the programme in its broad features. The two chief Founders were
not told what they had to do, how they had to bring about and quicken the
growth of the Society and results desired; nor had they any definite ideas
given them concerning the outward organisation--all this being left entirely
with themselves. Thus, as the undersigned had no capacity for such work as
the mechanical formation and administration of a Society, the management of
the latter was left in the hands of Col. H. S. Olcott, then and there
elected by the primitive founders and members--President for life. But if
the two Founders were not told what they had to do, they were distinctly
instructed about what they should never do, what they had to avoid, and what
the Society should never become. Church organisations, Christian and
Spiritual sects were shown as the future contrasts to our Society.[*1]

To make it clearer:

(1) The Founders had to exercise all their influence to oppose selfishness
of any kind, by insisting upon sincere, fraternal feelings among the
Members--at least outwardly; working for it to bring about a spirit of unity
and harmony, the great diversity of creeds notwithstanding; expecting and
demanding from the Fellows, a great mutual toleration and charity for each
other's shortcomings; mutual help in the research of truths in every
domain--moral or physical--and even in daily life.

(2) They had to oppose in the strongest manner anything approaching dogmatic
faith and fanaticism--belief in the infallibility of the Masters, or even in
the very existence of our invisible Teachers, having to be checked from the
first. On the other hand, as a great respect for the private views and
creeds of every member was demanded, any Fellow criticising the faith or
belief of another Fellow, hurting his feelings, or showing a reprehensible
self-assertion, unasked (mutual friendly advices were a duty unless
declined)--such a member incurred expulsion. The greatest spirit of free
research untrammelled by anyone or anything, had to be encouraged.

Thus, for the first year the Members of the T. Body, who representing every
class in Society as every creed and belief--Christian clergymen,
Spiritualists, Freethinkers, Mystics, Masons and Materialists--lived and met
under these rules in peace and friendship. There were two or three
expulsions for slander and backbiting. The rules, however imperfect in their
tentative character, were strictly enforced and respected by the members.
The original $5 initiation fee was soon abolished as inconsistent with the
spirit of the Association: members had enthusiastically promised to support
the Parent Society and defray the expenses of machines for experiments,
books, the fees of the Recording Secretary, [*2] etc., etc. This was Reform
No. 1. Three months after, Mr. H. Newton, the Treasurer, a rich gentleman of
New York, showed that no one had paid anything or helped him to defray the
current expenses for the Hall of meetings, stationery, printing, etc., and
that he had to carry the burden of those expenses alone. He went on for a
short time longer, then--he resigned as Treasurer. It was the
President-Founder, Col. H. S. Olcott, who had to pay henceforth for all. He
did so for over 18 months. The "fee" was re-established, before the Founders
left for India with the two English delegates--now their mortal enemies; but
the money collected was for the Arya Samaj of Aryavarta with which Society
the Theosophical became affiliated. It is the President Founder who paid the
enormous travelling expenses from America to India, and those of
installation in Bombay, and who supported the two delegates out of his own
pocket for nearly 18 months. When he had no more money left, nor the Corr.
Secretary either--a resolution was passed that the "initiation fee" sums
should go towards supporting the Head Quarters.

Owing to the rapid increase of the Society in India, the present Rules and
Statutes grew out. They are not the outcome of the deliberate thought and
whim of the President Founder, but the result of the yearly meetings of the
General Council at the Anniversaries. If the members of that G. C. have
framed them so as to give a wider authority to the Pres. Founder, it was the
result of their absolute confidence in him, in his devotion and love for the
Society, and not at all--as implied in "A Few Words"--a proof of his love
for power and authority. Of this, however, later on.

It was never denied that the Organisation of the T.S. was very imperfect.
Errare humanum est. But, if it can be shown that the President has done what
he could under the circumstances and in the best way he knew how--no one,
least of all a theosophist, can charge him with the sins of the whole
community, as now done. From the founders down to the humblest member, the
Society is composed of imperfect mortal men--not gods. This was always
claimed by its leaders. "He who feels without sin, let him cast the first
stone." It is the duty of every Member of the Council to offer advice and to
bring for the consideration of the whole body any incorrect proceedings. One
of the plaintiffs is a Councillor. Having never used his privileges as one,
in the matter of the complaints now proffered--and thus, having no excuse to
give that his just representations were not listened to, he, by bringing out
publicly what he had to state first privately--sins against Rule XII. The
whole paper now reads like a defamatory aspersion, being full of
untheosophical and unbrotherly insinuations--which the writers thereof could
never have had in view.

This Rule XIIth was one of the first and the wisest. It is by neglecting to
have it enforced when most needed, that the President-Founder has brought
upon himself the present penalty. [*3] It is his too great indulgence and
unwise carelessness that have led to all such charges of abuse of power,
love of authority, show, of vanity, etc., etc. Let us see how far it may
have been deserved.

As shown for 12 years the Founder has toiled almost alone in the interests
of the Society and the general good--hence, not his own, and, the only
complaint he was heard to utter was, that he was left no time for
self-development and study. The results of this too just complaint are, that
those for whom he toiled, are the first to fling at him the reproach of
being ignorant of certain Hindu terms, of using one term for another, for
inst. of having applied the word "Jivanmukta" to a Hindu chela, on one
occasion! The crime is a terrible one, indeed. . . . We know of "chelas" who
being Hindus, are sure never to confuse such well known terms in their
religion; but who, on the other hand, pursue Jivanmuktaship and the highest
Theosophical Ethics through the royal road of selfish ambition, lies,
slander, ingratitude and backbiting. Every road leads to Rome; this is
evident; and there is such a thing in Nature as "Mahatma"-Dugpas. . . . It
would be desirable for the cause of Theosophy and truth, however, were all
the critics of our President in general, less learned, yet found reaching
more to the level of his all-forgiving good nature, his thorough sincerity
and unselfishness; as the rest of the members less inclined to lend a
willing ear to those, who, like the said "Vicars of Bray" have developed a
hatred for the Founders--for reasons unknown.

The above advice is offered to the two Theosophists who have just framed
their "Few Words on the Theosophical Organisation." That they are not alone
in their complaints (which, translated from their diplomatic into plain
language look a good deal in the present case like a mere "querelle[*4]
d'Allemand") and that the said complaints are in a great measure just,--is
frankly admitted. Hence, the writer must be permitted to speak in this, her
answer, of Theosophy and theosophists in general, instead of limiting the
Reply strictly to the complaints uttered. There is not the slightest desire
to be personal; yet, there has accumulated of late such a mass of
incandescent material in the Society, by that eternal friction of precisely
such "selfish personalities," that it is certainly wise to try to smother
the sparks in time, by pointing out their true nature.

Demands, and a feeling of necessity for reforms have not originated with the
two complainants. They date from several years, and there has never been a
question of avoiding reforms, but rather a failure of finding such means as
would satisfy all the theosophists. To the present day, we have yet to find
that "wise man" from the East or from the West, who could not only
diagnosticate the disease in the T. Society, but offer advice and a remedy
likewise to cure it. It is easy to write: "It would be out of place to
suggest any specific measures" (for such reforms, which do seem more
difficult to suggest than to be vaguely hinted at)--"for no one who has any
faith in Brotherhood and in the power of Truth will fail to perceive what is
necessary,"--concludes the critic. One may, perhaps, have such faith and yet
fail to perceive what is most necessary. Two heads are better than one; and
if any practical reforms have suggested themselves to our severe judges
their refusal to give us the benefit of their discovery would be most
unbrotherly. So far, however, we have received only most impracticable
suggestions for reforms whenever these came to be specified. The Founders,
and the whole Central Society at the Headquarters, for instance, are invited
to demonstrate their theosophical natures by living like "fowls in the air
and lilies of the field," which neither sow nor reap, toil not, nor spin and
"take no thought for the morrow." This being found hardly practicable, even
in India, where a man may go about in the garment of an Angel, but has,
nevertheless, to pay rent and taxes, another proposition, then a third one
and a fourth --each less practicable than the preceding--were offered . . .
the unavoidable rejection of which led finally to the criticism now under

After carefully reading "A Few Words, etc.," no very acute intellect is
needed to perceive that, although no "specific measures" are offered in
them, the drift of the whole argument tends but to one conclusion, a kind of
syllogism more Hindu than metaphysical. Epitomised, the remarks therein
plainly say: "Destroy the bad results pointed out by destroying the causes
that generate them." Such is the apocalyptic meaning of the paper, although
both causes and results are made painfully and flagrantly objective and that
they may be rendered in this wise: Being shown that the Society is the
result and fruition of a bad President; and the latter being the outcome of
such an "untheosophically" organized Society--and, its worse than useless
General Council--"make away with all these Causes and the results will
disappear"; i.e., the Society will have ceased to exist. Is this the
heart-desire of the two true and sincere Theosophists? 

The complaints--"submitted to those interested in the progress of true
Theosophy"--which seems to mean "theosophy divorced from the Society"--may
now be noticed in order and answered. They specify the following objections:

I. To the language of the Rules with regard to the powers invested in the
President-Founder by the General Council. This objection seems very right.
The sentence . . . The duties of the Council "shall consist in advising the
P.F. in regard to all matters referred to them by him" may be easily
construed as implying that on all matters not referred to the Council by the
Pres.-Founder . . . its members will hold their tongues. The Rules are
changed, at any rate they are corrected and altered yearly. This sentence
can be taken out. The harm, so far, is not so terrible.

II. It is shown that many members ex-officio whose names are found on the
list of the General Council are not known to the Convention; that they are,
very likely, not even interested in the Society "under their special care";
a body they had joined at one time, then probably forgotten its existence in
the meanwhile to withdraw themselves from the Association. The argument
implied is very valid. Why not point it out of officially to the Members
residing at, or visiting the Head Quarters, the impropriety of such a
parading of names? Yet, in what respect can this administrative blunder, or
carelessness, interfere with, or impede "the progress of true Theosophy."[*5]

III. "The members are appointed by the President-Founder. . . ." it is
complained; "the Gen. Council only advises on what is submitted to it" . . .
and "in the meantime" that P.F. is empowered to issue "special orders" and
"provisional rules," on behalf of that ("dummy") Council. (Rule IV, p. 20.)
Moreover, it is urged that out of a number of 150 members of the G. Council,
a quorum of 5 and even 3 members present, may, should it be found necessary
by the President, decide upon any question of vital importance, etc., etc., etc.
Such an "untheosophical" display of authority, is objected to by Messrs. M.
M. Chatterji and A. Gebhard on the ground that it leads the Society to
Caesarism, to "tyranny" and "papal infallibility," etc., etc. However right
the two complainants may be in principle it is impossible to fail seeing the
absurd exaggerations of the epithets used; for, having just been accused on
one page of "tyrannical authority," of "centralization of power" and a
"papal institution" (p. 9)--on page 11, the President-Founder is shown
"issuing special orders" from that "centre of Caesarism"--which no one is
bound to obey, unless he so wishes! "It is well known" remarks the principal
writer--"that not only individuals but even Branches have refused to pay
this (annual) subscription . . . of . . . two shillings" (p. 11 ); without
any bad effect for themselves, resulting out of it, as appears. Thus, it
would seem it is not to a non-existent authority that objections should be
made, but simply to a vain and useless display of power that no one cares for.
==============================end of part 1 of 4 ========================

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