Supplement to Farthing's Manifesto
Mar 14, 1998 04:00 PM
by M K Ramadoss
Thanks to Dick Slusser, Editor of HCT (firstname.lastname@example.org) who has made the
following supplement available.
Farthing's original manifesto appeared in the May 1977 HCT. His supplement
to the original is in the August 1997 HCT.
CONCERNING THE FUTURE OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
GEOFFERY A. FARTHING
CONTENTS OF SUPPLEMENT
1. Comment on Manifesto - brief discussion thereof.
2. Prevailing conditions at time of Society's founding.
3. The Hodgson Report. Vindication of H.P.B. Her wrongful dismissal from
4. More about the uniqueness of Theosophy. No other organization has it.
5. Some recommendations. Commercialism, professionalism, new electronic media.
6. Keeping up the pressure.
1. COMMENT ON REPLIES TO MANIFESTO 1996
Very few were received. Points made were:
1. To study original Theosophy would be submitting to dogma and limiting.
2. A study of the original literature would somehow restrict freedom of
thought and curtail members' rights to decide between 'true' and 'false'
3. The document ought not to have been sent to other than members of the
4. Presumptions about leaders of the Society not having direct contact with
the Masters were questionable.
5. Since H.P.B's death some members of the Society claim or claimed to have
been in contact with the Masters, i.e. the Masters' links with the
corporate Society and/or Adyar have not been broken.
It is noteworthy that the historical outline from the formation of the
Society through the Besant/Leadbeater era was not questioned and that the
disassociation of the Society from all other bodies, e.g. CoMasons, was
neither questioned nor even mentioned.
Although the Manifesto expressly supported all members' freedoms, i.e. to
read what they like and join whatever institutions they wanted. It was
taken in some quarters that the Manifesto would restrict freedom,
particularly in the matter of what should be read.
The Manifesto in fact defended the freedoms but it did say that people's
private opinions as to what Theosophy was were not in themselves Theosophy.
Theosophy is a definite science related to the nature of Nature herself and
is not in any way a matter of opinion, belief or view. It cannot be either
'true' or 'false'.
Theosophy proper is the knowledge of what is, and as it is, at all levels
of being. It opens up to the student the whole Cosmic scene.
Its bounds are the furthest limits of the Universe and its profundity the
greatest depths to which human (and superhuman) cognition can go by
faculties developed to their fullness in aeons of evolutionary time.
It has no conceivable limits and is all-embracing. It is open-ended and can
in no sense be regarded as limiting or interfering with 'opinions' about
which it has nothing to do.
It would appear that those who regard its study as limiting are judging it
against a background of the circumscribed personal nonInitiate literature
of second generation 'theosophy'. The limitation is in those who have got
what they want and do not want to look further.
To discuss such matters as freedom of thought and dogmatism is not really
relevant because those issues are not raised.
The purpose of the Manifesto is to discuss what is to be done to preserve
the Society into the next century so that it can fulfill its intended
functions, and to justify any action that may be necessary. The historical
background to the Society as it now is, is very relevant to these
The presumption that neither Annie Besant nor C.W. Leadbeater were, after
possibly some initial incidents, in contact with the Masters was
questioned. That assumption, however, was made after an extensive analysis
of all the major events in the Society's history during their terms of
office. Too many irreconcilable things happened to indicate that there was
direction by any Masters either directly or through them. For example, the
question arises: why did Krishnamurti not only renounce the office claimed
for him but very soon leave the Society altogether? Surely if he had been a
protege of the Masters he would have known their intentions for the
Society. He would have wished to stay and work for it. After he left,
however, he had no more connection with it and certainly did not propound
Theosophy. The answer to this question must be that he became convinced
that the role that Leadbeater cast for him was not ordained by the Masters,
and particularly not one of the highest degree.
The communication with Masters that some leaders - and others - claimed to
have had was based on their saying so, or by inferences and implications,
which it was not possible to corroborate.
We have the Masters' statement about their communicating through H.P.B. and
that when she WAS not available or even when her aura was exhausted, there
would be no more letters (see Letter 20, p 54, of Letters from the Masters
of the Wisdom, 1st Series, Jinarajadasa).
Leadbeater was able to cast a 'glamour' over not only Mrs Besant but the
majority of members of the Society. This glamour still hangs over it and is
at the root of much erroneous, even superstitious, thinking.
It was from this conditioned thinking and a dependence on leaders, guides,
institutions, etc., that Krishnamurti urged his hearers to liberate
themselves and become free, relying only on themselves.
It was, however, not the leaders, gurus, etc. who imprisoned them, it was
Krishnamurti through not knowing, or ignoring Theosophy was not mindful of
Natures' processes, one of which is growth in time by stages.
Freedom, as propounded by him was not and is not yet within the possible
comprehension or experience of the majority of human-kind at this time.
'Guides, philosophers and friends' are still very necessary.
Even so we should not be unmindful of Jesus' saying, "The Truth shall make
you free" What this really means may not be obvious but it is reiterated in
various ways in Theosophy.
There is a passage in the Conclusion to The Key to Theosophy relevant to this:
If you speak of THEOSOPHY, I answer that, as it has existed eternally
throughout endless cycles upon cycles of the Past, so it will ever exist
throughout the infinitudes of the Future, because Theosophy is synonymous
with EVERLASTING TRUTH.
Yet there are some who see it changing with the times!
2. THE SOCIETY IN CONTEXT OF PREVAILING CONDITIONS AT ITS INCEPTION
The role for the Society has to be seen against a background of what was
'topically in the air' at the time when it was founded. Science had become
arrogant and was voicing a view that at its present rate of progress it
would soon be able to answer all questions concerning the nature of Cosmos.
On the other hand, religion, particularly in the West, was wholly dogmatic,
formal and institutionalized.
Against this dual background there was a lively interest in Spiritualism
and to a lesser degree Magic.
The Rosicrucianism, the Kabala, Masonry, Hermeticism, Ceremonial Magic,
were all movements involving a relatively large number of people on both
sides of the Atlantic.
Each faction had its own group of elite, degrees of secrecy and a
literature freely circulated amongst members, but not so freely available
to the general public.
Many of these movements had roots going back into antiquity. Where though
was an earnest and serious seeker after Truth to go for genuine
non-partisan information on these matters?
There were (and maybe still are) some secret Occult lodges then working.
>From amongst these the two 'theosophical' Masters, members of the
Trans-Himalayan branch, were given permission to give out a certain amount
of occult teaching.
They decided to make the effort in spite of the scepticism of their brethren.
They had to find someone with the necessary qualifications to operate as
their mouthpiece in the world. We do not know how many candidates there
were but they said that H.P.B. was the best available at the time and
through her a mass of information was eventually given to the world (see
The Manifesto tells of her labours in the literary field to introduce the
Ancient Wisdom to the world - particularly the West as all her principal
writings were in English.
Her writings later included Instructions to her Inner Group which she
formed during the last two years of her life.
Apart from her continuing articles, there is a compilation of Notes taken
at meetings of the Blavatsky Lodge, known as The Transactions of the
Blavataky Lodge, where in many abstruse aspects of Theosophy are explained.
During the course of H.P.B's life the interest in Spiritualism somewhat
diminished; science opened new fields of exploration and became less
dogmatic; to a small extent dogmatic religion became less rigid. In this
field the advent of translations of the scriptures and other holy books
from India and the Far East becoming generally available in the West was
beginning to have an effect.
The relationship to Theosophy as given us by H.P.B. with modern thought in
terms of the stage at which science has now established itself and having
regard to the present freedoms within the religious and psychological
fields, has not yet been specifically explored to any extent. However, the
prophetic nature of the writings of H.P.B. in a number of aspects in these
fields is very significant. Her works are as relevant today as they were
when they were written, validating their claim even now to speak for the
Ancient Wisdom, or the Wisdom Religion as she sometimes termed it.
It is important that the outpouring of knowledge given us through H.P.B.
should be clearly distinguished from the longstanding traditional knowledge
and wisdom which for centuries have been freely available and even now are
sources of inspiration and instruction for many people. The latter were in
no sense esoteric or occult. Whole areas of theosophic thought and
explanation are not in them.
3. THE HODGSON REPORT
The full report by Dr Vernon Harrison of his investigations into the
Hodgson Report has now been published. This document completely vindicates
H.P.B. of all the charges of fraud in the matter of the production of the
Mahatma Letters. It re-establishes H.P-.B's standing as an author in her
own right, but not of the Mahatma Letters. According to Dr Harrison there
was no author of those letters other than the Masters themselves,
regardless of how the letters may have been produced and received. A second
aspect of this vindication is the clearing of H.P.B. of all charges brought
against her by the missionaries in Madras in the Coulomb affair.
This vindication has far-reaching effects. Had these charges of fraud not
been levelled against H.P.B. it is very unlikely that she would have left
Adyar at the time she did. When the charges were brought by the
missionaries H.P.B. wanted to take legal action against them. Olcott
advised against this and he was supported by the General Council. It
appears, however, that some at least of the members of the General Council
were inimical to H.P.B. They would do nothing to support her; rather did
they wish, for reasons of their own, that she should leave Adyar. What
pressure was brought to bear on her we do not know but we do know that in
her going she was required to renounce her claim to any property rights she
might have had on the compound and to give up ownership of The Theosophist
which she had founded. These requirements indicate that her going was not
to be temporary. It has been claimed that her health was a reason for her
returning to Europe; that may have been a contributory factor but her
health having been restored she could have gone back to Adyar. As things
were, however, she felt it quite impossible to return. In plain fact she
had been 'dismissed'.
The consequences of this departure were not immediately obvious to those
left behind. In effect, however, it meant that the magnetic link between
the Masters and Adyar was severed. There was no one else there to act in
H.P.B's capacity. Damodar had received some training and might to some
extent have done so but he was not there any more.
It has not been really understood or accepted that H.P.B. was in fact the
direct agent of the Masters (see Letter 19 of Letters from the Masters of
the Wisdom, 1st Series, Jinarajadasa). For example, Sinnett could not
accept this and resented it, with the result that with his increasing
irritation at having to receive correspondence through her, the letters
from the Masters just ceased. H.P.B. would not transmit any more. Both the
Masters and H.P.B. warned him this would happen.
Without H.P.B. to operate through they would and did retire into obscurity.
The karmic consequences of Olcott's and the General Council's unwillingness
to support H.P.B. and her subsequent departure form Adyar is something that
remains. Her dismissal inflicted great personal hurt and injustice in the
light of her innocence (now proven). Any General Council that over the
years has neglected to rectify the position or even acknowledge what
happened and has taken no measures whatever to redress the situation has
transmitted the karmic consequences of the action of the original Council
to its successors up to the present time. This is something that must be
recognized when considering the action to be taken to ensure the proper
continuity of the Society.
4. THE UNIQUENESS OF THEOSOPHY
In the Manifesto some historical background to the founding of the
Theosophical Society was given. Against this background an appreciation of
what was intended for the Society can be made.
It is important to realize how these teachings stand in relation to the
various classical schools of antiquity. In The Secret Doctrine it says, "It
is not taught in any of the six Indian Schools of Philosophy, for it
pertains to their synthesis - the seventh, which is the occult doctrine. It
is not traced on any crumbling papyrus of Egypt nor is it any longer graven
on Assyrian tile or granite wall. The Books of the Vedanta (the last word
of human knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this
world-Cosmogony; and their priceless thesaurus, the Upanishads, Upa-Ni-Shad
being a compound word meaning the "conquest of ignorance by the revelation
of secret, spiritual knowledge" [S.D.I, 269] - require now the additional
possession of a master key to enable the student to get at their full
This quoted passage clearly distinguishes Theosophy from what was contained
in even the greatest of the world's religious teachings then available.
This distinction was very soon overlooked and forgotten.
What was distinctly different between the new outpouring and the old
systems lies in the field of Occultism or Esotericism proper. Many of the
old religious and philosophical systems had an occult background for the
most part kept secret and jealously guarded. A detailed examination of the
essential differences has no place in a document such as this but they are
primarily based on a fuller knowledge of the planes of Nature, together
with scales of correspondences, and the inner constitution of man, showing
how these can be quickened and developed to 'expand' his consciousness by
the study and assimilation of the Eternal Verities of Theosophy.
5. SOME RECOMMENDATIONS
The case made above indicates that in the hundred years or so since H.P.B's
death and her leaving Adyar the whole character of the Society has changed.
It can never go back to what it was in the late 1800's because the whole
world situation has changed.
Nevertheless, what the Society has to offer by way of the Ancient Wisdom is
itself changeless. The 'Eternal Verities' do not change as the world
situation changes in terms of culture, politics and the vicissitudes of
national fortunes, or any other such circumstance.
The setting, however, in which the Ancient Wisdom is presented to the
world, and the means for its presentation, have to change. In the Manifesto
a warning was issued against trying to 'popularize' Theosophy by
simplification. This can only lead to dilution and possible distortion.
Because of the magnitude and, for many people, the inherent difficulty of
acquiring a knowledge of Theosophy, the great temptation has been to
substitute for the real thing something easier to apprehend or practice.
Substitute activities may in themselves have intrinsic, sometimes perhaps
even considerable value, but they do not contain or even reflect the unique
nature of Master-inspired Theosophy.
This diversion of attention from the purpose of the Society is the main
argument for the disassociation of all other organizations from the
Theosophical Society. In The Key (p 21 Orig. Ed.) H.P.B. outlines reasons
for joining the Society and instances the importance of each Lodge having
its own specific activity. She mentioned healing as one. Members should
realize that some of the teaching, direct or implied, in for example the
Egyptian Rite, is directly at variance with Theosophy, particularly the
'adoration' of post-human entities (angels, etc. ) who have long since lost
all the limitation of personal feelings, and want no worship.
All who would see in ceremonial a means of salvation are recommended to
read in The Secret Doctrine from the bottom two paragraphs of p 279, Orig.
Ed. and the third paragraph on p 280. These passages include the following:
.. neither the collective Host (Demiourgos), nor any of the working powers
[in Cosmos] individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or
worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however,
and man ought
1) Apart from its three objects the intention for the Society was to
propagate a knowledge of Theosophy. Theosophy is the teaching as propounded
by H.P.B.and the Masters of the Wisdom.
2) H.P.B. was wrongfully dismissed from Adyar. Her innocence having been
proved, some redress is due to her. In effect this means reinstating her
teachings (and those of her Masters).
3) Neither Krishnamurti nor his teachings have anything to do with
Theosophy whatever their other merits may be.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application