RE: ARE WE QUALIFIED TO CRITICIZE H.P.B. or THEOSOPHY ?
Jan 07, 1999 08:47 AM
by Dallas TenBroeck
Jan 6th 1999
I read your contribution of Jan 4th and respond.
All that I write is my opinion. I am responsible for it alone.
I am afraid we are again talking at "cross-purposes," and saying
mainly the same things in different words. However, I do not
necessarily endorse or accept "modern scholarship" unless the
logic that is advanced is clear to all of us. This I await to
I think that you and I agree that anyone can say anything they
please or ask any question concerning the PHILOSOPHY OF
THEOSOPHY. It is certainly open to discussion and individual
study. All those who are serious students of philosophy,
religion, and the past history of our globe are doing that.
But concerning HPB as a person, I would object to criticism of
her life and methods and ask for proof. She is no longer able
here and now to answer directly old calumnies and slanders or
other defamatory statements. Consequently, when I become aware
of such I respond.
If the matter concerns the philosophy of THEOSOPHY, I ask to see
proofs. I await someone who can write anything that approaches
the quality and coverage of a SECRET DOCTRINE, or an ISIS
UNVEILED, or even a KEY TO THEOSOPHY.
I would concede to them the right to offer to make coherent and
consecutive changes to Theosophy and its logic (if possible). So
far I have heard claims and seen no proofs. If and when such
"proofs" emerge, then we will all have some work to do - in the
meantime, why do we not (all of us) really buckle down and study
and learn what THEOSOPHY IS ?
There are many opinions floating around, but that which would be
valuable to each student (in my opinion) is an ability to find
what the record of Theosophy actually says on a subject of
research. Not vague references, but actual clear ones that
others can go to and also verify. In the past 110 years that
Theosophy has been available to us, students have prepared
Indexes, Glosses, and collected as many scraps of original
writings, articles, letters, answers, notes, etc ... so that the
mosaic of Theosophical philosophy can be fully displayed, and it,
or the details and proofs advanced can be seen by anyone, and
consulted for accuracy or fault. I would say that this
"openness" makes it invulnerable.
>From time to time writers and speakers emerge who (for reasons
known to themselves) have made it a point to state to state that
HPB made "mistakes" in regard to what ? Are they fundamental
concepts of metaphysics, of universality, of ethics, of history ?
Or are they some small and petty details when compared with the
WHOLE ? Some are quite obviously proof-readers' and co-editors'
errors - and these are acknowledged in both MAHATMA LETTERS and
in some of HPB's articles, particularly "MY BOOKS" -- I do not
see any substantial challenge to the philosophy yet. What is
found sketched to Sinnett in Mahatma Letters following the
publishing of ISIS UNVEILED (1877), and amplified in articles and
discussion in THE THEOSOPHIST, PATH, and LUCIFER magazines is to
be found given in greater detail in THE SECRET DOCTRINE. As far
as I am aware no one has so far set themselves up to challenge
Some claim that HPB erred (in the light of modern scholarship ?)
in making some definitions regarding Tibetan Buddhism, Tantraism,
Mahayana, Hinayana, Bhons, Dugpas, Gelugpas, etc.. I have no
basis yet for verifying that such current scholarship, or MSS
that have now been made available (I assume they are copies of
original texts ?) are accurate or correct to the originals.
Apparently they relate to the interpretation of HISTORY, and not
to the doctrines or observations concerning ethical applications
that have been made public and exoteric? To some extent such
claims (so far unsupported as I see it) carry the implication
that what has been stated by HPB is incorrect (as a whole or as a
part - details unspecified usually). I observe that when, during
HPB's life-time, her accuracy was questioned, The Masters of
Wisdom, to whom she was responsible, issued a "certificate of
authorship." This was given by the Masters to Dr.
Hubbe-Schleiden [PATH, Vol. 8, p. 1 ]. Are we now to say that
They are also in error ? Or is this a concealed challenge to
Their existence ?
No doubt some have, and will come forward, with detailed
demonstrations of those errors, and then we will be able to see
just how much, or how wide and important those errors are. Let
us give an actual dimension to such things, as Sylvia Cranston
has in her biography of HPB.
In the meantime, why should I (or anyone) accept and seemingly
unsupported claim or opinion?
Allow me to ask: How "original" are the texts quoted from ? How
does one know they are authentic and not amended in copying (much
as the Brahmins did during the days of Akbar when such original
texts as might be available were secreted and abridged - then
made available as authentic texts - silenced for ever on such
vital subjects as THE SECRET DOCTRINE and THEOSOPHY reveal at
last for our consideration (SD I xxiii-iv) ? I do not understand
what you mean by "if HPB is taken literally [she]...appears to be
wrong on...several points relating to Tibetan Buddhism." Until
those (non-literal meanings ?) are exposed to our common view
this remains unsupported by any evidence that can be cross
checked either in philosophy or in factual and original texts.
As I see it, discussion cannot be terminated unless someone stops
answering. I agree that trying to show who are "Dugpas" or not,
today, is irrelevant, and also 'unsupported.' We do not know
The defense of "ill spoken of the "dead" (and without adequate
proof) is not fallacious, as I see it. It is a mark of respect
by the honorable.
What is found objectionable is unsupported statements. If there
is something that needs rectifying, then, in parallel columns
original statements can be contrasted - that exposes the matter
for all to see. And that I would consider to be most valuable.
It has, for one thing, the power to prevent endless wrangles and
clears the air.
That this exchange occurs between us, is plainly evidence of
"free thought." No one asks anyone to either agree or to blindly
follow anything. No one seeks to impose ones' views on another,
but only expose them for consideration.
Theosophy invites clear thought on definite principles of logic
and on Universal Facts, and not a panoply of individual or
private opinions. I think we can agree on this. The sources to
be investigated have never been restricted, nor have the nature
of the questions asked. Facts are asked for, and the opportunity
for their independent examination.
Finally, each student will inevitably decide for himself or
herself what is reasonable, true, fair, universal and impersonal;
and, they will make their own choices regardless of what
conclusions you or I may arrive at personally.
I hope this clears the air.
Best wishes to you,
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