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Altering Facsimile Works -- *no*

Jan 25, 1999 02:14 PM
by Richard Taylor

In a message dated 1/25/99 2:24:19 PM, Peter wrote:

<<For the very same reason we are even more reticent about the

idea of altering what HPB and the Masters wrote prefering that it should be

left to the individual student to use his/her intuition and reason.

When HPB and the Masters, Initiates and Adepts, don't say what we think they

should have said then this is certainly cause for thought, but not

necessarily cause for correction.>>

Peter, this is an important point, and one that I am very sensitive to.
Because I was trained by ULT methods for ten years, I also grew up in
Theosophy expecting absolute infallibility of the Mahatmas, not merely in
their Knowledge (which I still pretty much cling to, so far) but also in their
verbal and written expressions.

It has only been in the last few years that I have begun to ponder such events
that are on Theosophical record, such as Sinnett's misunderstanding of the
globes and rounds (the "Mars-Mercury controversy"), the Kiddle incident, tons
of errors in ISIS UNVEILED which HPB admits, obvious "appropriations" in HPB's
Secret Doctrine from Emil Schlagintweit's BUDDHISM IN TIBET (et al.), and
several minor but definite errors in texts such as the Glossary, that I have
come to realize that the process of giving Theosophy to the world was
complicated and fraught with difficulty.  It is no fault of the Mahatmas if
some of the "phone lines" were scrambled.  Also, They could only make
references to what was known by the West at the time.  The Mahatmas quote from
then-current editions of Scriptures, then-current dictionaries etc.  The
situation has changed, very gradually.  The S.D. is not "outdated" by any
means, but some of its discussions of "current trends" in science and religion
could be beefed up.  (Does anyone on this list have a working knowledge of the
theories of Quatrefages?  This was a scientist HPB very much approved of, with
reservations.  But this information is mostly lost on us today without
accompanying notes.)

The records of the esoteric tradition may be perfect and comprehensive.  The
fragments we have been given are not.  So, I agree that just because of *ONE*
person's say-so (mine, whoever's) we shouldn't run around changing and second-
guessing the Mahatmas.  BUT, if we are truly in search of Truth, it is time we
also recognize our responsibility to investigate, question, and yes, even
adjust and correct certain things when it makes a more perfect whole.
Carefully.  Boris de Zirkoff did just this in his preparation of the BCW, and
we all benefit tremendously, and daily, from his hard and careful team-effort
with other Theosophists to compare documents, correct typos, etc.  (Hey, he
even correctly identified Devachan as Tibetan, after nearly a century of
others' errors.  Whoo-hoo!!)

Few Theosophists have the karma to acquire knowledge of the many references
and terms HPB uses, drawn from all the traditions of the world.  As I have
pointed out, having this "Eye Doctrine" can be of tremendous help to
understanding what is new and important in what the Mahatmas are doing with
the "Heart Doctrine."  (Although this Eye Doctrine is not the point, I admit
-- it is merely a stepping stone, but often an essential one. I am *clear* on
this point.)

I have only had the ability to gain proficiency in Buddhism, Pali, Sanskrit
and Tibetan, some Chinese.  I am completely ignorant of Egyptian, Chaldean,
Gnostic, Greek, Roman, Mayan, and many other cultures.  So while I think it is
important I share my expertise when it sheds light on the S.D., I would also
benefit tremendously from the hard-won expertise of others.  I do not imagine
that my expertise is more valuable than anyone else's, and I do not dream of
challenging statements made by the Mahatmas about the Esoteric Doctrine --
only out-of-date references to Buddhism and technical terms in those
languages.  Correcting these helps our cause, as when David Reigle was able to
show to the world in his 1983 work THE BOOKS OF KIU-TE that HPB did not make
up "Kiu-Te", but was actually referring to the Tibetan Tantras (rGyud-sDe).
Now scholars around the world know that HPB was telling the truth, and we can
**PROVE** it.  This is most valuable in spreading our knowledge of what is
TRUE, namely, Theosophy.

To me sharing this individual expertise doesn't mean altering our essential
facsimile reproductions, but perhaps merely adding an addendum to the back of
works, or perhaps footnotes or endnotes (clearly marked as "NEW"), giving
explanations of points that have come up in the past hundred years of study.
This would leave Theosophist readers with BOTH the unadulterated original
text, and the results of Theosophical endeavor -- and, the ability to judge
for oneself.

It is also a fact that if we leave people SOLELY to their own intuition and
reason, they will not have access to lifetimes of Theosophical study.  This
seems cruel to me, and a great waste of effort, and overly fearful.  Why
should not our many experienced Theosophists share what they know?

I am aware that this presents a major philosophical debate, and I am not
prepared for weeks of argument.  It is simply my opinion, and I have given my


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