Mar 13, 1998 11:06 AM
by Thoa Tran
This is a very considerate response to the manifesto. I'm curious as to
why Mr. Farthing has a need to write up such a manifesto. What was the
reason for denying CWL and Besant. What was the reason to go back to
strictly adhering to HPB's writings? Was there some movement or
non-movement within the TS that made the leaderships feel that they have to
make these changes? What were the changes? Everyone has a reason for
something, good or bad. I would like to know what it is.
>This manifesto says so many things that I think are dangerous to
>the Theosophical movement that I cannot resist replying in some
>detail. Mr. Farthing has been kind and helpful to me in my
>work through assisting in the India Office Library research
>of Tony Hern, and wrote a sympathetic review of TMR. So I regret
>differing so sharply with his views, and would remain silent did
>I not think them typical of an emerging dogmatism in the TS.
>According to email@example.com:
>> [P81.] This was certainly the case in the early days of the 20th century.
>> It was almost vehemently stressed then that there was no such thing as a
>> definite 'theosophical' system of thought, knowledge or teaching. The great
>> fear was of 'dogmatism'.
>which was hypocritical then because anyone who didn't buy the
>Besant/Leadbeater party line was ostracised.
>> [P82.] This word, however, was, and still is in places, wrongly applied. A
>> dogma means an obligatory belief and no such thing is imposed on
>> Theosophical Society members.
>Imposition can be subtle as well as overt. I've never seen even
>subtle imposition of obligatory beliefs at the *local* level of
>TS activity, but it's getting more and more overt at the
>national and international levels. What do we mean by
>"obligatory?" Nothing is obligatory for *membership*. But to be
>treated with respect and inclusiveness by the leadership, a whole
>range of dogmatic beliefs are obligatory.
> This does not mean that there are not
>> authoritative statements of fact such as those given us by the Masters, who
>> claim to know what they speak or write about, i.e. they are not
>> speculating, voicing opinions or advancing theories.
>People who claim that their statements are not speculation,
>opinion or theory, but pure fact, are a dime a dozen. The
>genuine original programme of the TS was absolutely opposed to
>treating any pronouncements from anyone as authoritative. There
>is abundant documentation of this truth.
>> [P83.] All beliefs concerning Theosophy and the Theosophical Society ought
>> seriously to be questioned against what can easily be discovered of the
>> original teachings and intentions for the Society. A serious perusal of
>> THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY will do this.
>They also ought to be questioned seriously against all other
>knowledge prior or subsequent to HPB and the Mahatma letters, if
>the TS is to be true to its mission.
>> enduring influence by way of his writings, is suspect. It must be
>> recognized that these writings are 'theosophically' defective and
>To be frank, I think they're worthless-- but don't want the TS
>leadership to officially recognize anything as "theosophically
>defective and misleading." It's not the Society's business to
>determine any such thing.
>snip-- agree with separation from ES, LCC, and Co-Masonry
>> [P93.] The Society has its own special message to promulgate. This
>> message only exists in the writings of HPB and in the Mahatma Letters.
>!?!?!?!?! There are probably several dozen passages I could cite
>that would contradict this assertion, right from the horses'
>mouths. And maybe an equal number that might seem to support it.
>Unfortunately, this seems to be gaining influence as a view in
>the Society, and it's fatal to freedom of thought.
>> message in its completeness (as far as it was given out) is unique.
>Highly arguable, as it can be shown to correlate with a great
>many sources that HPB herself alluded to.
>> [P94.] The future direction of the Society must therefore include:
>> [P95.] 1) The eradication of the 'make-believe' Leadbeater influence - in
>> all departments including literature, and severance from the Society of all
>> other organizations, i.e. the Liberal Catholic Church and Co-Masonry.
>Much as the CWL influence disgusts me, I will fight against any
>effort to "eradicate" it which smacks of the Inquisition.
>Publicly discuss it, yes. Let people know all the contradictions
>and all the evidence concerning CWL, yes. Eradicate his
>influence? It's not the Society's business to set about to do
>any such thing, any more than it was right to treat him as a
>sacred cow all these years in order to preserve said influence.
>> [P96.] 2) A thorough examination of all literature purporting to be
>> 'theosophical', and a brave declaration, and no further promotion, of any
>> which is not wholly consonant with the original teachings.
>Astoundingly dogmatic. Who, pray tell, are the authority figures
>who get to decide for the rest of us what is and is not wholly
>consonant, and what gives them the right to dictate to us?
> This is no
>> proscription but all books purporting to be theosophical which strictly are
>> not should be clearly labeled or marked that they are the author's views on
>> the subject and not necessarily authentic. Members are, of course, free to
>> read what they like but they can be warned, if not guided. The section in
>> any Theosophical Society library purporting to be theosophical literature
>> should be segregated from other material offered, be clearly marked and the
>> books given prominence on book lists, catalogues, etc.
>The librarian in me points out that the segregation and labeling of
>"accepted" and "suspect" literature is a profound violation of
>> [P99.] 5) Commercialism in any form, i.e. book selling or publication as
>> such, without specific reference to the promotion of a knowledge of
>> Theosophy, is not part of the legitimate activities of the Society.
>Tell that to HPB who advertised non-theosophical books in her
>magazines, and reviewed them favorably, etc.
>> 'Fringe' literature can be obtained in ordinary bookshops or from other
>> organizations, e.g. the Arcane School, the Anthroposophical Society, etc.
>The mentality that decides Bailey and Steiner are "fringe" while
>their own favorite post-HPB authors are "mainstream" is
>responsible for driving many people away from the Society. The
>Baileyites and Steinerites are dogmatic about their own stuff
>being authoritative. The TS is called upon to be open, eclectic,
>> This recommendation is made with our second object specifically in mind.
>> Study of comparative religion is encouraged by the Society but it does not
>> have to publish or supply the books.
>Saying it does not have to is no argument that it shouldn't.
>> There is obviously now no corporate connection with the Masters so that
>> that 'make-believe' can be dispensed with. The E.S. study should be
>> confined to the Master or HPB writings. The Society has no other
>> Initiate-inspired literature.
>While I certainly concur that the ES has no real connection to
>the Masters, if they want to think so that's fine. As far as
>Initiate-inspired literature, HPB and Olcott certainly had a much
>vaster view of what that includes than Mr. Farthing does.
>> [P108.] This was the position when HPB made some of that knowledge public:
>> it was much resented even by Subba Rao whose Master incidentally was the
>> same as HPB's. All extant scriptures are exoteric even though in their
>> mystical content they reflect much of what is in Theosophy.
>All extant Theosophical works are exoteric too.
>> [P112.] For example, the Hindu system is fivefold, as far as the human
>> principles and the skandhas are concerned, whereas the theosophical system
>> is sevenfold. The planes of Nature are sevenfold, with each having a
>> corresponding level of consciousness.
>So some say. Others say differently. The Society is not in the
>business of dictating which model is correct, but rather in
>comparing and contrasting them.
>> their profundity and inner meaning is completely lost. Such an attempt to
>> 'popularize' Theosophy in this way, to make it appeal to people who
>> otherwise cannot comprehend it, is virtual sacrilege.
>What in the world can one say to this? I consider it a sacrilege
>to treat HPB's work, which she herself said was not free from
>error or authoritative, as if it were, and to condemn efforts to
>make it more accessible to the public. This is elitism pure and
>simple, which the TS has too much of already without manifestos
>calling for more.
>I see this manifesto as a sure recipe for shrinking the TS to a
>tenth its current size and making it the carcass stranded on a
>sandbank that HPB warned about in the Key to Theosophy as the
>inevitable result of dogmatism.
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