Re: Theos-World Re: Paul & "The Masters Revealed"
Mar 09, 2006 09:32 AM
by Steven Levey
I found your response most interesting, and like Desmond, I too look for an unbiased brand of reporting.
So, keeping this in mind, do you feel as if the sense of political affiliation you speak of regarding HPB and at times KH and M, could be seen from different points of view? In other words, if the seeming political affairs of HPB and her Teachers are read from one point of view, it might be possible to draw potential self-motivated political interest, as their motive. Whereas, from another it seems possible to see HPB and her teachers, if taken in a wholy benevelent light (not self serving), that their poitical affiliations might well look as if they were concerned for the inner welfare of "Mother India"? And further, doesn't it seem reasonable to think that the determining factor for us, since, no matter how in depth we think we are regarding our investigations of their actions in that time, that it will be our sense of who they are and their motivation that will lead our conclusions more than anything else?
Now, these questions arise in me, because It has never ocurred to me to see their political affiliations in any way but circumstantial (yes this may seem nieve'). Their actual involvements being to effectively and purposefully connect with the right individuals who would be able to assist them in their (1) propogating Theosophical thought, 2) not to enrich their personal agendas, but for the good of "Mother India", as Domodar sees it, and for a larger more effective basis with which to positively aquire more students to effect the world's "lethal" materialism.
I know that this is their Motis Operandi, and could well be seen as good PR only, their motives being only selfish. Now, I've never subscribed to this movement (theosophical) with closed eyes. So I read your work with the unbiased focus ascribed to you and I look for open minded research with which to go by.
It seems to that generally speaking the student is on their own to read as much of the material you have read, and with which you have drawn conclusions. The purpose being to become a good sleuth on each of our own behalf, so as not to be giving our alegiances where we would not, had we known better.
kpauljohnson <email@example.com> wrote:
Thanks for an opportunity to clarify some points in a rancor-free
context. Bruce wrote:
> "What Paul may have stumbled on in his book "The Masters Revealed"
>is the people involved in HPB's education. A world-wide network of
>men trying to inspire good people to stand up against tyranny."
While "network" might fit in a very broad sense, that is *HPB's*
network of inspirers, teachers, etc., it tends to obscure that there
were multiple lineages, multiple secret societies and spiritual
reform movements, with whom HPB was allied and from whom she learned
at different times. Some were much more politically involved than
others. And some *became* much more political *after* HPB got
involved with them. What is especially important to me now, and to
the Church of Light which I recently joined, is the transfer of HPB's
allegiance from her Egyptian (and Egyptophile European and
American) "brotherhoods" (which involved women too, most importantly
Emma Hardinge Britten) to a completely different set of Indian
sponsors. Godwin's The Theosophical Enlightenment gives a fuller
explanation of this transfer than my books do.
Two key figures involved in that transfer were Swami Dayananda, about
whom I would urge anyone interested in the Masters question to think
outside the box of Theosophical exegesis, and Mikhail Katkov, who
published HPB's Indian writings in Russian. Both were obviously
revered as spiritual Masters by their disciples-- formally so in the
Swami's case and informally so in Katkov's.
> HPB always said the adepts were living men who were part of a
> worldwide network that reached far into antiquity. To identify
> living men associated with HPB is not surprising. As far as I can
> tell from recent posts, Paul Johnson excluded the "paranormal" from
> his research to identify some of very real, very human men in HPB's
Real and human but at the same time in most cases recognized
authorities in various spiritual traditions. Here's a quote from TMR
that Desmond recently produced that goes to the heart of your post:
In "The Masters Revealed" you set forth the thesis that "most of these
characters were authorities in one or more spiritual traditions;
others were accomplished writers. They helped prepare HPB for her
mission as a spiritual teacher and/or sponsored the Theosophical
Society from behind the scenes. Although their teachings and example
affected HPB's development, the extent of their influence was usually
secret. In a few cases the argument for their acquaintance with HPB
is speculative, but usually the fact of a relationship is well
established and the real question is its meaning. Because their
'spiritual status' and psychic powers are inaccessible to historical
research, these alleged criteria of 'Mahatmaship' are treated with
agnosticism." (p. 14-15) Personally, I see in these few words not
only a lack of personal bias but also an abundance of integrity.
Thanks to Desmond for the last line. I would just comment as an
aside to Carlos that it makes no sense to say that because spiritual
stature and psychic powers of figures from the past are not readily
accessible to historical investigation, that we ought not pursue *any
knowledge whatsoever* about individuals who have been identified as
adepts, because adepts by definition transcend physicality. NO ONE's
spiritual stature and psychic powers are accessible to standard
scholarly investigation; the obvious implication would be that
historians are committing a spiritual crime to write about *anyone
who ever lived*. Otherwise we are left with special pleading that
says it's OK to ask historical questions about Jesus or Buddha or
Alice Bailey but don't dare ask them about HPB and her Masters
because they are not only beyond reproach but exempt from normal
historical scrutiny. That might play in the ULT or the Adyar ES but
it's Theosophical dogma that no one outside the movement will take
seriously. Why should they? It's like Muslims saying cartoons about
everyone else are fine, but if they're about Muhammad let's have
riots. That just makes the special pleaders look like enraged
Nobody, to my knowledge, ever claimed that Morya's
> adept lineage terminated with Morya.
> I've read only an excerpt from Paul Johnson's book, so I don't know
> how clear he was about the limitations of his research. A good
> researcher defines the parameters of the work undertaken.
That was a very important objective of The Masters Revealed, whereas
its self-published predecessor was considerably less clear about what
was being hypothesized. On the back cover of TMR the first reader
report excerpt quoted (from Hal French of the U. of South Carolina)
says this: "The author has transferred the discussion of Blavatsky's
sources from the realm of the mythical to the historical. He has
given us a well-researched series of capsuled biographies of persons
from whom Blavatsky learned, and the nature of her relationships with
each of them. His work brings reasoned conclusions into an area
characterized by vituperative and polarized scholarship. He sets his
limits well. He has not overstretched his mark nor made excessive
claims for his conclusions." The same could be said for Joscelyn
Godwin whose Theosophical Enlightenment is intertwined with TMR in
> Showing that ordinary people possess extraordinary potentials is a
> worthy study. Albeit, this was not Paul Johnson's objective, and he
> attempted only to identify ordinary people.
Not quite. How ordinary these people were varies from case to case.
That several were highly regarded as adepts within specific
traditions testifies that they were not seen as ordinary by their
colleagues and associates. It's just that their extraordinariness is
approached historically rather than religiously, as something to be
established (or rather defined) via evidence and reason rather than
ex cathedra pronouncements or reliance on scriptural authority.
Back to politics for a moment, I will just say that my books don't
portray HPB as someone who was motivated primarily by politics, but
rather as someone who was caught up in politics through her
associations with people in India, and lived to regret it. After
leaving India, she appears to have renounced any involvement in
politics and even offered to become an informant on anti-British
activities she had learned about. So it's not a simple yes/no
question as to whether she or her Masters were involved in politics.
Just as it's not a simple yes/no question as to whether the Masters
depicted in her writings were "real." Some were a lot more real than
others, in terms of the amount of fictionalization involved. No one
has ever doubted the reality of Dayananda; but Theosophists
conveniently forget that HPB and Olcott definitely regarded him in
the adept/Mahatma category when they went to India and only later
changed their opinion.
> --- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "robert_b_macd"
> > Dear Carlos,
> > Given what you have written and other interesting clues, I would
> > to offer a wildly speculative theory that nevertheless might have
> > truth in it.
> > It is clear that HPB was not interested in politics and was never
> > spy for anyone. It is also clear that the Masters were not
> > of the political machinations going on in the World at that time.
> > Their discussion of Jesuit plots in India being directed at a
> > Britain (I believe this was around the Ilbert Bill) being a case
> > point. Their attempts to set up a Phoenix newspaper with Sinnet
> > the editor is another example of their work to promote an organ of
> > justice for the Indian masses. Indeed, your discussion of Mr.
> > Ghafur and Pope Sixtus V indicates that HPB was not unaware of the
> > dark forces of the political world and how they fit together
> > the centuries. There is also some indication that St. Germain was
> > involved with some of the noble families of Europe in an
> > advisory capacity.
> > It seems pretty clear that HPB was destined to found a Society of
> > nature of the TS. Such a Society would have many enemies coming
> > many quarters. One way to educate a leader of such a Society
> would be
> > to have her travel around the world and introduced to lesser
> > working in the world giving guidance to various movements
> > against the dark power of tyranny in its many guises. This
> > her education might leave a very sour taste in her mouth for the
> > of politics and explain why she wanted nothing to do with it. She
> > could see it for what it was, two sides of the same coin battling
> > against each other and controlled by the same puppet master.
> > What Paul may have stumbled on in his book "The Masters Revealed"
> > the people involved in HPB's education. A world-wide network of
> > trying to inspire good people to stand up against tyranny.
> > The TS was created in order to seed the minds of humanity with the
> > means to learn to think for themselves so that they too could
> begin to
> > lift the political veil and see the tyranny that lies behind it.
> > are at a crisis point today. In the same way that a herd of cows
> > comprised of cows, a true sovereign state would be comprised of
> > sovereign citizens. As the citizens of Western Democracies are
> > manipulated into giving away their rights and freedoms (individual
> > sovereignty), the Western Democratic state is moving towards
> > This whole theme is treated masterly in Plato's "Republic".
> > it would be interesting to take Paul's research and explore this
> > Bruce
> > --- In email@example.com, "carlosaveline cardoso aveline"
> > wrote:
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > Dear Bil, dear Paul, dear Friends,
> > >
> > > I understand Paul is back to Theos-talk, so this is addressed
> > him, too.
> > >
> > > I will answer now some of Bill's statements and questions below.
> > >
> > > Years ago, I had one of Paul Johnson's books at my disposal,
> > at it
> > > and decided
> > > I was not interested.
> > >
> > > Beside his recent correspondence, I have with me his
> > Blavatsky,
> > > the 'Veiled Years' "
> > > (T.H.C. London 1987).
> > >
> > > I also have the "Review Essay" by John Algeo on his book "The
> > > Revealed", published in "Theosophical History", July 1995. And I
> > have the
> > > recent posting by Paul Johnson with the story of his relations
> > the TPH
> > > and John Algeo.
> > >
> > > In that story,you will see that he had fluid relations with
> > TPH
> > > for years. You will see that, according to Paul, and I quote ---
> > >
> > >
> > > "" 'In Search of the Masters' was surprisingly well received
> > > Theosophical world, and didn't receive many attacks. John
> > > Algeo never indicated any discomfort with the book or desire to
> > > squelch it. When I decided to revise and condense it in the
> > > form of a series of biographical chapters, I offered it to TPH
> > > and the answer was that they would consider it if I was willing
> > > to remove or downplay the identifications of M., K.H., etc. and
> > > focus mostly on the historical people themselves. This was in
> > > 1992; I sent the Ms. in to Brenda Rosen who replied in essence,
> > > "No, you completely rewrite it *first* and then we'll consider
> > > it." I agreed to do so but the research led in other
> > > directions and ultimately I informed her that I would not be
> > > able to revise in the way she had requested. Not long after,
> > > SUNY Press came through with a contract.
> > >
> > > When "The Masters Revealed" came out in 1994, I had no hard
> > > feelings toward TPH, TUP, PLP or THF although it had been
> > > disappointing that things fell through and that in no case did
> > > I get any substantive feedback on the research (in a cumulative
> > > 3.5 years of consideration!) I went to Wheaton the week it
> > > was published, was very cordial with John and everyone there,
> > > and felt that the book would be no less politely received than
> > > its far inferior predecessor. After all the SUNY imprimatur
> > > should bring some increased respect, no?
> > > Then the positive reviews started flowing, in and outside of the
> > > movement, and by February 1995 things had reached a peak of
> > > welcoming reception, with the simultaneous appearance of a rave
> > > in the New York Times Book Review and a favorable review by Joy
> > > Mills in The Quest. I was so pleased by the latter that I sent
> > > an email to John Algeo thanking him for letting it appear.
> > > Here's where the story begins to turn sour.
> > > John had sent me warm, encouraging, supportive email just a few
> > > weeks before, saying to pay no mind to the hostile attacks I
> > > was getting on theos-l from outraged Theosophists. And this
> > > time, when I wrote thanking him for the Quest piece, he replied
> > > in a friendly way, saying that he was glad I liked it but that
> > > he had more reservations about the book than Joy did-- and that
> > > he'd like to discuss it with me. My reply was that
> > > reservations were of course warranted; that the book proved
> > > HPB's association with Masters in one sense (that of
> > > recognized experts in various spiritual traditions, from whom
> > > she learned) but not in the other sense of spiritually advanced
> > > beings with paranormal abilities, since that was beyond the
> > > reach of historical research.""
> > >
> > > So far, Paul's words. End of quote.
> > >
> > > From this point on, his narrative describes how John Algeo
> > against
> > > him. In the quotation above, you have what, in my opinion and
> > assessment
> > > (and I respect other opinions) corresponds to an opening of
> > territory to
> > > Paul Johnson's perspective about the Masters.
> > >
> > > Since 1875, the theme of the Mahatmas as individuals has always
> > > considered reserved, or PRIVATE, for magnetic and other
> > >
> > > It is true that A. P. Sinnett started the vulgarization;
> > went on;
> > > but since mid century some more care was taken. And sincere
> > even if
> > > under serious illusions, have some respect if not devotion for
> > Masters
> > > and HPB. Devotion can be accompanied by an open mind, as you
> may know.
> > >
> > > It is from the viewpoint of aspirants to discipleship, then, or
> > the
> > > viewpoint of earnest and lifelong students of HPB/Masters,
> > > Johnson's perspective tends to be a gross vulgarization of the
> idea of
> > > Adept-Teachers.
> > >
> > > By now, I have reasons to believe that Paul Johnson is an honest
> > person, and
> > > I respect that, since
> > > I believe sincerity is of the essence and more important than
> > ideas at
> > > the lower mental plane.
> > >
> > > But if Paul Johnson never belonged to the inner organizations
> > Adyar
> > > Movement, and could not have a knowledge or a "sense", let's
> > of the
> > > real approach to the Mystery of aspiration to lay discipleship,
> > cannot
> > > be said of John Algeo, who helped open room for Johnson's books
> > within the
> > > movement.
> > >
> > > The long examination and summary Algeo makes of "The Masters
> > Revealed" in
> > > "Theosophical History", July 1995, is itself an absurd, because
> of the
> > > totally naive approach of the book with regard to the Masters
> and HPB.
> > >
> > > The "name-by-name-discussion" Algeo indulges in, with regard
> > > "Masters' revelation",
> > > would be hilarious if it were not too disgusting.
> > >
> > > According to Algeo, Paul Johnson considers HPB a "Russian Spy",
> > Well,
> > > she has written vehemently about that, explaining why Solovyof
> > invented that
> > > lie. It is in her letters to Sinnett.
> > >
> > > To give credit to a man like V. Solovyof ( a man whose personal
> > "ethics"
> > > was similar to James Wedgwood's in many ways, if you know what
> > mean) --
> > > and to deny HPB's words and evidences
> > > that SHE WAS NOT A SPY is more than a flagrant injustice to
> > first,
> > > and to HPB and the movement, second.
> > >
> > > Talking about that, discussing it without mentioning HPB's
> > and her
> > > words, is tantamount
> > > to making libels circulate, in my view.
> > >
> > > If Paul Johnson does not want to have respect for HPB and wants
> > sell a
> > > book saying she was a Spy, this is one thing. He may say and
> > > whatever he wants. But when the president of the Adyar TS in
> > (now
> > > international vice-president) does the same, or helps this
> > > circulate inside the movement, this is another, different thing.
> > >
> > > I guess this is enough. If you see Algeo's "review", you will
> > examine all
> > > purported "personal names" of the Mahatmas. John Algeo writes:
> > >
> > > ""... Johnson's aim in this thesis to "identify' the Masters is
> > reasonable
> > > and of considerable interest.""
> > > (T.H., July 1995, p. 238).
> > >
> > > And then Algeo goes on to discuss all minute, useless and
> > details
> > > of speculations about Adepts as if they were some historical
> > > completely immersed in present human Karma!!!
> > >
> > > You see what I mean?
> > >
> > > Algeo says, p. 245:
> > >
> > >
> > > ""Johnson's thesis is a revisionist view of the Theosophical
> > Masters, making
> > > them neither what Blavatsky and others said them to be nor
> > > inventions, but rather elaborations of historically attested
> > prototypes.
> > > That is a reasonable thesis to consider."" ( T.H., JUly 1995,
> p. 245).
> > >
> > > Reasonable thesis ???
> > >
> > > Such a thesis cannot be considered reasonable, in a Theosophical
> > Society,
> > > because it shows a
> > > complete absence of knowledge about what is an Adept.
> > >
> > > That is why no Theosophical Publisher, as long as I know,
> > Paul's
> > > books. But their
> > > ambiguity, their long examination of the originals, their long
> > discussing
> > > these books, this is meaningful, and in this sense I say that
> > (and
> > > others) used Paul and his books as a way to discredit HPB and
> > Masters.
> > > And, of course, this was not honest with Paul, either.
> > >
> > > As Gregory Tilletts biography of C. W. Leadbeater showed who
> > since
> > > the early 1980s,
> > > it was "extremely convenient" for some theosophical cardinals
> > HPB at
> > > the same moral level as the "Bishop".
> > >
> > > As to Daniel Caldwell / David Green, his websites published
> > texts and
> > > books for a number of years, if I remember it right from one of
> > > postings at the Theos-talk. And, if you ask Paul, he will
> > certainly agree
> > > that Daniel Caldwell and John Algeo are, or seem to be, most
> > allies.
> > > And I add: they share the same "editorial policy"...
> > >
> > > Believing as I believe that Paul Johnson is a basically honest
> > person, I
> > > hope he goes ahead and learns in the future something about the
> > nature of
> > > spiritual teachers, be them Adepts or not.
> > >
> > > Once he perceives the inner aspects and energies present in the
> > > writings, in the Mahatma Letters, and in other books and
> authors, he
> > will
> > > understand what I and many theosophists
> > > mean by the idea of "respect for H.P.B.".
> > >
> > > I have some confidence in that, since Paul has shown here at
> > Theos-talk that
> > > he is a man of good will. I sincerely hope dialogue will bring
> > better
> > > perspective about the Mystery of Initiates, whose identities
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