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HPB: "You hardly dare to say booh in it, for fear it should look like polemics."

Feb 09, 2006 01:09 PM
by danielhcaldwell

HPB: "You hardly dare to say booh in it, for fear it should look 
like polemics."

Etymology: French polémique, from Middle French, from
polemique controversial, from Greek polemikos warlike,
hostile, from polemos war
1 a : an aggressive attack on or refutation of the
opinions or principles of another b : the art or
practice of disputation or controversy -- usually used
in plural but sing. or plural in constr.
2 : an aggressive controversialist : DISPUTANT

The very month (Sept. 1887) H.P. Blavatsky founded her
magazine LUCIFER in London, she wrote to W.Q. Judge
about the differences between THE PATH and her new

"If I thought for one moment that 'Lucifer' will 'rub
out' Path I would never consent to be its editor. Now
listen to me my good old friend: Once that the Masters
have proclaimed your 'Path' the best the most
theosophical of all theosophical publications — surely
it is not to allow it to be rubbed out!! I know what I
am saying & doing, my 'commanding genius' not
withstanding. To prove this — (which will be proven to
you by the first number of Lucifer when you see its
polemical contents) I will write every month regularly
for "Path" occult, transcendental & theosophical
articles. I give you my word of honour of HPB. I will
force people to subscribe for Path & this will never
hurt 'Lucifer.' One is the fighting, combative Manas —
the other (Path) is pure Buddhi. Can't both be united
in an offensive & defensive alliance in one rupa or
Sthula Sarira — theosophy? Lucifer will be Theosophy
militant — 'Path' the shining light, the Star of
Peace. If your intuition does not whisper to you — it
is so: then that intuition must be wool-gathering. No
Sir; the 'Path' is too well, too theosophically edited
for me to interfere. I am not born for meek &
conciliating literature!" Quoted from:

Notice some of the key phrases in HPB's letter:

"polemical contents" of LUCIFER

LUCIFER is to be "the fighting, combative Manas."

"Lucifer will be Theosophy militant"

"I am not born for meek & conciliating literature!" 

Almost two years later, HPB felt the need to write to
Judge again urging him to found a new journal
different from THE PATH:

". . . What you need in America is a Weekly if not a
fighting daily. Path is a 'lamb-Job' an ever meek
Jeremiah, as is our Revue Theosophique in Paris. You
hardly dare to say booh in it, for fear it should look
like polemics. If, profiting by the occasion, you
should address every Theosophist & Esotericist and
have Buck & a few others to help you — and
representing them the truth, namely that Theosophy
cannot triumph so long as every paper pitches into it
and none will print an answer, collect money enough to
publish a weekly, a theosophical pucka fighting paper
'the Champion' or the 'Wrangler', or some such thing &
set Fullerton as nominal editor & you the real Boss,
then we could get on. Now Mrs. Candler. . . will start
up a subscription for a Weekly for you & is sure to
head it with a good sum. Your Path is a most excellent
theosophical paper, but useless for militant

Notice again in this letter HPB's emphasis:

"What you need in America is a Weekly if not a
FIGHTING daily."

"You hardly dare to say booh in it [THE PATH], for
fear it should look like polemics."

You need "a weekly, a theosophical pucka fighting

Again one sees the editorial policy of LUCIFER in the
following words from HPB's pen:

"Open your columns to free and fearless discussion,
and do as the theosophical periodicals have ever done,
and as LUCIFER is now preparing to do. The 'bright Son
of the morning' fears no light. He courts it, and is
prepared to publish any INIMICAL contributions 
(couched, of course, in decent language), however much
at VARIANCE with his theosophical views. He is
determined to give a fair hearing in any and every
case, to both contending parties and allow things and
thoughts to be judged on their respective merits. For
why, or what should one dread when fact and truth are
one's only aim?" 

I have put "variance" and "inimical" in caps.

One might also review what HPB and the Mahatmas wrote
about the purpose of THE THEOSOPHIST when it was first
founded by HPB in 1879 in India.

I won't marshall all these additional quotes but will
select one of my favorite quotes from HPB when she was
still in India:

"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things
at their right value; and unless a judge compares
notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a
correct decision."

Although there is always dangers in generalizing, I
would suggest that in the 20th century the great
majority of magazines published by Theosophical groups
have followed THE PATH model of "meek &
conciliating literature" avoiding at all cost any
thing that looked like polemics. To many Theosophical
students nowadays anything remotely suggesting
"polemics" or "militant" or "fighting" is viewed as
almost ANTI-Theosophical.

But serious students of Blavatsky's writings might
profit from pondering on the implications of HPB's own
words quoted above.

Daniel H. Caldwell

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