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Re: Theos-World P. Johnson Ignores Theosophy

Mar 09, 2006 03:58 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Dear Carlos,

Paul did not take Theosophy to the Universities --
Apparently I was not sufficiently clear. Paul's book on the Masters was published by the State University of New York (SUNY), which is a scholarly press. The difference between a scholarly press and a commercial press is that in the former, the manuscript is passed around to other scholars in the field who critically read it and recommend whether the manuscript is worthy of publication or not. I was for a few years a member of the American Academy of Religions (AAR) which is a professional association, mostly of professors of religious studies. There, I met and spoke with several of the professors who read and passed his work.
and I doubt of his books' actual circulation in Universities.

You mean as a text book for students? Well, I don't know one way or the other. Professors in American Universities do pretty much what they want as far as what text books they use. But I do know some professors who have read the book and I have discussed it with them.

What he tried to take to Universities is a completely mundane view of HPB/Masters,at the personal level, according to which HPB may have been a fraud and the "Masters" are persons with mudane, worldly goals, not Adepts.

When the book first came out, I openly debated Paul on theos-talk concerning his methodology and conclusions. I'm sure you will find all of this in the archives. So, my own points of disagreement were expressed many years ago and I do not wish to revisit them now. However, as I had already stated below, IMO, the important thing about Paul's book is that it was published by a scholarly press, as opposed to a Theosophical press. If he only published in the Theosophical press, his readership would be mostly Theosophists and sympathizers with Theosophy. By publishing the book with SUNY, he brought an examination of the subject of the Masters to the academic community to be discussed, considered and debated. As a result, there is a growing number of people in the academic community who are becoming interested in Theosophy. I think it is a good thing that academics are becoming interested in Theosophy. Don't you?

Have you seen Theosophy, or Esoteric Philosophy, in his books or writings? Anything more than a peronsalistic "Who's Who"?

His books are not on Esoteric Philosophy. His book on the Masters is an historical *inquiry* into the identity of HPB's teachers. When I want to read on Esoteric Philosophy, I usually sit down with the Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett.
Best wishes,

carlosaveline cardoso aveline wrote:

Dear Jerry,

Paul did not take Theosophy to the Universities -- and I doubt of his books' actual
circulation in Universities.

What he tried to take to Universities is a completely mundane view of HPB/Masters,
at the personal level, according to which HPB may have been a fraud and the "Masters"
are persons with mudane, worldly goals, not Adepts.

Have you seen Theosophy, or Esoteric Philosophy, in his books or writings? Anything
more than a peronsalistic "Who's Who"?


From: Jerry Hejka-Ekins <>
Subject: Re: Theos-World P. Johnson, Greenpeace & Freud
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 12:20:07 -0800

Dear Carlos,

Paul Johnson has been trying to explain HPB as a semifraudulent woman and

describe the Masters as non-Adepts. To his mind, there are no

or spiritual mysteries to be solved.

I always finding myself wincing whenever I hear or read someone
explaining someone else. It is a kind of a dismissal of another
credibility--an implication that the person in question cannot be
trusted to explain themselves. I would much rather see a dialogue where
the person in question is asked what he/she is trying to do, or is

For me, the fact that Paul Johnson comes to the movement with such wildly
speculative and mundane theories, and his books are read and accepted

some for a while (although they were never accepted by any theosophical
publisher, naturally) is, itself, a subject for some self- examination

the movement.

Is the value of a book necessarily based upon whether it is accepted?
Paul published the his book about the Masters through a university
press. That means that he submitted his writing to scholarly scrutiny.
What is valuable about Paul's book is that it created a dialogue within
the academic community about the existence and nature of the Masters. It
is the dialogue--the exploration, not the acceptance, that is important.
In the long run, bringing Theosophy into academic circles can do
nothing but good for the movement. Remember that HPB attracted some of
the greatest minds of her time. Those were the days when Theosophy was
credible, was seriously talked of among scholars. I would like to see a
return to those days. Paul's book was a step in that direction.

Best wishes,

carlosaveline cardoso aveline wrote:




Dear Friends,

Paul Johnson has been trying to explain HPB as a semifraudulent woman and

describe the Masters as non-Adepts. To his mind, there are no

or spiritual mysteries to be solved.

It is always a question of who's who. He invented the "People's

Theosophy, as if
the facts of Adepthood were a fiction -- false facts used perhaps to

frauds and a "market for tricks", as he suggests in his 1987 text on

'Veiled Years'.

He does not perceive that also Jesus, as described in the New Testament,
had his "veiled years".

He does not know, or is not interested, for instance, in the fact that in
Carlos Castaneda's books, as in HPB's life, "leaving no traces of one's
existence in the world" is an active part of the training of disciples
during certain stages of their learning.

For me, the fact that Paul Johnson comes to the movement with such wildly
speculative and mundane theories, and his books are read and accepted

some for a while (although they were never accepted by any theosophical
publisher, naturally) is, itself, a subject for some self- examination

the movement.

If Paul Johnson would go to the international leadership of "Greenpeace"

of "Friends of the
Earth" and kindly submit to them a new theory, according to which the
campaigns for the defense of the Amazon region and forests worldwide are
based on fraudulent theories, or in theories "possibly fraudulent",

in political motivations,etc., what would be the answer? Would there be a
John Algeo to receive Paul Johnson with his theories at Greenpeace?

If Paul Johnson would go to the Psychoanalytical Society and most kindly
submit them a brand new
and stupendous theory according to which Sigmund Freud was in fact a

man, unable to explore the depths of human-animal soul (fourth and fifth
principles), with its unconscious impulses, but that Freud just

someone else and was really interested in other goals, under the cover

his psychoanalytical investigations -- what would be the result?

If Paul Johnson would go to the Jungian Analitycal circles with an
equivalent story about Carl G. Jung, what would be the result?

Well, Paul Johnson did come to the theosophical movement with this kind

theory, putting himself much above HPB, purporting to unveil the

etc., and he had a John Algeo to receive him, and other

leaders to open room to his ideas.

For me, as for thousands of students worldwide, Theosophy as taught by

and the Masters is something which is alive. It is experimental. It can

touched, although it can't be touched with physical feet or hands. It can

touched by one's soul, by one's clear mind, by one's inner senses.

And, just because Paul cannot "see" or experiment Theosophy, he has to
saythat it is "perhaps a fraud", "perhaps semi-fraud". And
pseudo-theosophists find his ideas interesting, possibly because these
ideas offer them an escape from the challenge of LIVING THEOSOPHY in

own daily lives.

If Paul would investigate Leadbeater, he would see fraud. Yet,

HPB, he saw nothing; he only projected on his own mind that which he

to see.

"Unconscious Kriyashakti" is the name of this, as well stated by E.L.
Gardner in another context.

So the fact that Paul Johnson's ideas still have any circulation in the
outskirts of the theosophical movement, from my viewpoint, is much more a
sympton than a fact in itself of any importance. It is a sympton that we
are too gullible, naive and scarcely experiential in our approach to the
Divine Wisdom. We are open to whatever new theories which promise saving

effort to seek universal truth for ourselves, along a steep and narrow

Paul Johnson is like those "paparazzi" who try to make revelations about
the British Royal family or other "famous" people.

For those "researchers" there are no real people in the British Royal
family. There's othing "internal", subjective, human. It's only a

question of "who's who", an issue of personal names and intrigues.

C.W. Leadbeater reduced his pseudo-theosophy to this.

CWL started the paparazzi-personalistic approach (See, for instance, his
book "Lives of Alcyone"). And then, decades later, we had Paul Johnson,

possibly doesn't even consider himself as a theosophist.

And, even though he probably does not call himself a theosophist, he

puts himself far above theosophists.

And he kindly intends to teach to us, for the price of his books, all
mysteries of Theosophy, which we "don't know".

He must be proud of his modesty. This is a nice "scholarly" guru, who

to teach us that HPB was "possibly a fraud" and in this -- ignores the

1986 conclusions and all the evidences that HPB was a great soul.

And Paul, when shown as he is -- someone who denies the most basic

of the Esoteric Philosophy -- feels attacked. But -- what is he doing to
HPB and the Masters?

In a deeper perspective, though, he is not attacking the movement. He is
just testing it, as John Algeo is -- and, after all, tests tend to

the deeper layers of the living process inaugurated in 1875 by HPB and


As to me, tests are welcome. Let's go ahead, then, with an open-minded,
sincere debate.

Best regards, Carlos Cardoso Aveline

From: "kpauljohnson" <>
Subject: Theos-World Re: Paul & "The Masters Revealed"
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 16:06:37 -0000

Dear Krsanna,

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
several ways.

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.



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