RE: [theosophia] Gunas
Mar 21, 2006 05:46 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
"THE CLAIMS OF OCCULTISM" -- HPB
[LUCIFER, Vol. II. No. 12, September, 1881.]
[On “The Occult World” and The Mahatmas Letters – Mediumship – ISIS
THIS is the heading of an article I find in a London publication, a new
weekly called LIGHT, and described as a "Journal Devoted to the Highest
Interests of Humanity, both Here and Hereafter." It is a good and useful
journal; and, if I may judge from the only two numbers I have ever seen, one
whose dignified tone will prove far more persuasive with the public than the
passionate and often rude remarks passed on their opponents and sceptics by
its "spiritual" contemporaries.
The article to which I wish to call attention is signed by a familiar name
(nom de plume), "M.A. Oxon.," that of a profoundly sympathetic writer, of a
personal and esteemed friend—of one, in short, who, I trust, whether he
remains friendly or antagonistic to our views, would never confound the
doctrine with its adherents, or, putting it more plainly, visit the sins of
the Occultists upon Occultism and vice versa.
It is with considerable interest and attention, then, that the present
writer has read "The Claims of Occultism." As everything else coming from
"M.A. Oxon’s " pen, it bears a peculiar stamp, not only of originality but
of that intense individuality, that quiet but determined resolution to bring
every new phases, every discovery in Psychological sciences back to its (to
him) first principles—Spiritualism.
And when writing the word, I do not mean by it the vulgar "seance-room"
Spiritualism, which "M.A. Oxon." has from the very first outgrown, but that
primitive idea which underlies all the subsequent theories, the old parent
root from which have sprung the modern weeds, namely, belief in a guardian
angel or a tutelary spirit, who, whether his charge is conscious of it or
not—i.e., mediumistic or non-mediumistic—is placed by a still higher power
over every (baptized?) mortal to watch over his actions during life. And
this, if not the correct outline of "M.A. Oxon’s" faith, is undoubtedly the
main idea of all the Christian-born Spiritualists, past, present, and
The doctrine, Christian as it now may be—and preeminently Roman Catholic it
is—has not originated, as we all know, with the Christian, but with the
Besides being represented in the tutelary daimon of Socrates—that ancient
"guide" of whom our Spiritualists make the most they can—it is the doctrine
of the Alexandrian Greek theurgists, of the Zoroastrians, and of the later
Babylonian Jews, one, moreover, sadly disfigured by the successors of all
these—the Christians. It matters little though, for we are now concerned but
with the personal views of "M.A. Oxon.," which he sets in opposition to
those of some Theosophists.
His doctrine then seems to us more than ever to centre in, and gyrate
around, that main idea that the spirit of the living man is incapable of
acting outside of the body independently and per se; but that it must needs
be like a tottering baby guided by his mother or nurse—be led on by some
kind of spiritual strings by a disembodied spirit, an individuality entirely
distinct from, and at some time even foreign to himself, as such a spirit
can only be a human soul, having at some period or other lived on this
planet of ours.
I trust that I have now correctly stated my friend’s belief, which is that
of most of the intellectual, progressive and liberal Spiritualists of our
day, one, moreover, shared by all those Theosophists who have joined our
movement by deserting the ranks of the hoi polloi of Spiritualism.
Nevertheless, and bound though we be to respect the private opinions of
those of our Brother-Fellows who have started out in the research of truth
by the same path as "M.A. Oxon.," however widely they may have diverged from
the one we ourselves follow, yet we will always say that such is not the
belief of all the Theosophists—the writer included.
For all that, we shall not follow the nefarious example set to us by most of
the Spiritualists and their papers, which are as bitter against us as most
of the missionary sectarian papers are against each other and the infidel
We will not quarrel, but simply argue, for "Light! more light!" is the
rallying cry of both progressive Spiritualists and Theosophists. Having thus
far explained myself, "M.A. Oxon." will take, I am sure, en bon seigneur
every remark that I may make on his article in Light, which I here quote
verbatim. I will not break his flowing narrative, but limit my answers to
It is now some years since Spiritualists were startled by the publication of
two ponderous volumes by Madame Blavatsky, under the title of Isis Unveiled.
Those who mastered the diversified contents of those large and
closely-printed pages, upwards of twelve hundred in number, bore away a
vague impression that Spiritualism had been freely handled not altogether to
its advantage, and that a portentous claim had been more or less darkly set
up for what was called Occultism.
The book was full of material—so full that I shall probably be right in
saying that no one has mastered its contents so as to fully grasp the
author’s plan; but the material sadly needed reducing to order, and many of
the statements required elucidation, and some, perhaps, limitation.*
Moreover, the reader wanted a guide to pilot him through the difficulties
that he encountered on every hand; and, above all, he sorely needed some
more tangible hold on the history and pretensions of the mysterious
Brotherhood for whom the author made such tremendous claims.†
It seemed vain for any seeker after truth to attempt to enter into
relations, however remote, with any adept of the order of which Madame
Blavatsky is the visible representative. All questions were met with polite
or decisive refusal to submit to any examination of the pretensions made.
The Brothers would receive an enquirer only after he had demonstrated his
truth, honesty and courage by an indefinitely prolonged probation. They
sought no one; they promised to receive none.‡ Meantime, they rejected no
one who was persevering enough to go forward in the prescribed path of
training by which alone the divine powers of the human spirit can, they
allege, be developed.
The only palpable outcome of all this elaborate effort at human
enlightenment was the foundation in America of the Theosophical Society,
which has been the accepted, though not the prescribed, organization of the
They would utilize the Society, but they would not advise as to the methods
by which it should be regulated, nor guarantee it any special aid, except in
so far as to give the very guarded promise that whatever aid might at any
time be vouchsafed by them to enquiring humanity, would come, if at all,
through that channel. It must be admitted that this was a microscopically
small crumb of comfort to fall from so richly laden a table as Madame
Blavatsky had depicted. But Theosophists had to be content, or, at least,
silent; and so they betook themselves, some of them, to reflection.
What ground had they for belief in the existence of these Brothers, adepts
who had a mastery over the secrets of nature which dwarfed the results of
modern scientific research, who had gained the profoundest knowledge—"Know
thyself"—and could demonstrate by actual experiment the transcendent powers
of the human spirit, spurning time and space, and proving the existence of
soul by the methods of exact experimental science?
What ground for such claims existed outside of that on which the
Theosophical Society rested?
For a long time the answer was of the vaguest. But eventually evidence was
gathered, and in this book¶ we have Mr. Sinnett coming forward [The Occult
World] to give us the benefit of his own researches into the matter, and
especially to give us his correspondence with Koot Hoomi, an adept and
member of the Brotherhood, who had entered into closer relations, still
however of a secondary nature,** with him than had been vouchsafed to other
These letters are of an extremely striking nature, and their own intrinsic
value is high. This is greatly enhanced by the source from which they come,
and the light they throw upon the mental attitude of these Tibetan recluses
to whom the world and the things of the world are alike without interest,
save in so far as they can ameliorate man’s state, and teach him to develop
and use his powers.
Another fruitful subject of questioning among those who leaned to
theosophical study was as to the nature of these occult powers. It was
impossible to construct from Isis Unveiled any exact scheme, supported by
adequate testimony, or by sufficient evidence from any proper source, of
what was actually claimed for the adept. Madame Blavatsky herself, though
making no pretension to having attained the full development of those whose
representative she was, possessed certain occult powers that seemed to the
Spiritualist strangely like those of mediumship.†† This, however, she
disclaimed with much indignation.
A medium, she explained, was but a poor creature, a sort of conduit through
which any foul stream might be conveyed, a gas-pipe by means of which gas of
a very low power of illumination reached this earth. And much pain was taken
to show that the water was very foul, and that the gas was derived from a
source that, if at all spiritual, was such as we, who craved true
illumination, should by no means be content with.
It is impossible to deny that the condition of public Spiritualism in
America, at the time when these strictures were passed upon it, was such as
to warrant grave censure. It had become sullied in the minds of observers,
who viewed it from without, and who were not acquainted with its redeeming
features, by association with impurity and fraud.
The mistake was to assume that this was the complexion of Spiritualism in
itself, and not of Spiritualism as depraved by adventitious causes. This,
however, was assumed. If we desired true light, then we were told that we
must crush out mediumship, close the doors through which the mere Spiritual
loafers come to perplex and ruin us, and seek for the true adepts who alone
could safely pilot us in our search.
These, it was explained, had by no means given up the right of entrance to
their Spiritual house to any chance spirit that might take a fancy to enter.
They held the key and kept intruders out, while, by unaided powers of their
own, they performed wonders before which medial phenomena paled. This was
the only method of safety; and these powers, inherent in all men, though
susceptible of development only in the purest, and then with difficulty,
were the only means by which the adept worked.
Some Theosophists demonstrated by practical experiment that there is a
foundation of truth in these pretensions. I am not aware whether anyone has
found himself able to separate quite conclusively between his own unaided
efforts and those in which external spirit has had a share. There is,
however, one very noteworthy fact which gives a clue to the difference
between the methods of the Spiritualist and the Occultist.
The MEDIUM is a passive recipient of spirit-influence.
The ADEPT is an active, energizing, conscious creator of results which he
knowingly produces, and of which evidence exists and can be sifted.
Spiritualists have been slow to accept this account of what they are
familiar with in another shape.
Theosophists have been equally slow to estimate the facts and theories of
Spiritualism with candour and patience. Mr. Sinnett records many remarkable
experiences of his own, which are well worthy of study, and which may lead
those who now approach these phenomena from opposite sides to ponder whether
there may not be a common ground on which they can meet.
We do not know so much of the working of spirit that we can afford to pass
by contemptuously any traces of its operation. Be we Spiritualists or
Theosophists—odd names to ticket ourselves with!—we are all looking for
evidence of the whence and whither of humanity.
We want to know somewhat of the great mystery of life, and to pry a little
into the no less sublime mystery of death.
We are gathering day by day more evidence that is becoming bewildering in
its minute perplexities. We want to get light from all sources; let us be
patient, tolerant of divergent opinion, quick to recognize the tiny hold
that any one soul can have on truth, and the multiform variety in which that
which we call truth is presented to man’s view. Is it strange that we should
see various sides of it? Can we not see that it must needs be so? Can we not
wait for the final moment of reconciliation, when we shall see with clearer
eye and understand as now we cannot?
There is much in Mr. Sinnett’s little book that may help those who are
trying to assume this mental attitude. The philosophy that it contains is
clearly stated, and affords rich material for thought. The facts recorded
are set forth with scientific accuracy, and must profoundly impress the
careful and candid reader.
The glimpses revealed of this silent Brotherhood, in its lonely home on one
of the slopes of the mountains of Tibet, working to solve the mighty
problem, and to confer on humanity such benefits as it can receive, are
impressive enough even to the Philistine sceptic. If they should indeed be
flashes of a greater truth, now only dimly revealed, the importance of such
revelation is not to be measured in words.
Be this, however, as it may—and there are many points on which light is
necessary before a decisive opinion may be pronounced—there is no doubt
whatever that the philosophy contained in Mr. Sinnett’s book is similar to
that which the great students of Theosophy in ages past have arrived at.
It is a mere piece of nineteenth-century arrogance to pooh-pooh it as
unworthy of attention by those on whom has flashed the dazzling light of the
The facts recorded are at least as scientifically conclusive as any recorded
as having happened in a dark séance, or under the ordinary conditions of
Spiritualistic investigation. The letters of Koot Hoomi are fruitful of
suggestion, and will repay careful study on their own merits. The whole book
contains only 172 pages, and will not, therefore, unduly tax the reader’s
patience. If any instructed Spiritualist will read it, and can say that
there is nothing in it that adds to his knowledge, he will at least have the
satisfaction of having read both sides of the question, and that should
present itself to all candid thinkers as a paramount and imperative duty.
=============== footnotes ===============
* It is not the first time that the just reproach is unjustly laid at my
door. It is but too true that "the material sadly needed reducing to order,"
but it never was my province to do so, as I gave out one detached chapter
after the other, and was quite ignorant, as Mr. Sinnett correctly states in
The Occult World, whether I had started upon a series of articles, one book
or two books. Neither did I much care. It was my duty to give out some
hints, to point to the dangerous phases of modern Spiritualism, and to bring
to bear upon that question all the assertions and testimony of the ancient
world and its sages that I could find, as an evidence to corroborate my
I did the best I could and knew how. If the critics of ISIS UNVEILED but
(1) its author had never studied the English language, and after learning it
in her childhood colloquially had not spoken it before coming to America
half-a-dozen of times during a period of many years;
(2) that most of the doctrines (or shall we say hypotheses’) given had to be
translated from an Asiatic language; and
(3) that most, if not all of the quotations from, and references to, other
works—some of these out of print, and many inaccessible but to the few—and
which the author personally had never read or seen, though the passages
quoted were proved in each instance minutely correct, then my friends would
perhaps feel less critically inclined.
However, Isis Unveiled is but a natural entrée en matiere in the above
article, and I must not lose time over its merits or demerits.
† Indeed, the claims made for a "Brotherhood" of living men were never half
as pretentious as those which are daily made by the Spiritualists on behalf
of the disembodied souls of dead people.
‡ No more do they now.
§ We beg to draw to this sentence the attention of all those of our Fellows
and friends in the West as in India, who felt inclined to either disbelieve
in, or accuse the "Brothers of the First Section" on account of the
administrative mistakes and shortcomings of the Theosophical Society.
>From the first the Fellows were notified that the First Section might issue
occasionally orders to those who knew them personally, yet had never
promised to guide, or even protect, either the body or its members.
¶ The Occult World, by A. P. Sinnett.
** With Mr. Sinnett, and only so far. His relations with a few other Fellows
have been as personal as they could desire.
†† Medium, in the sense of the postman who brings a letter from one living
person to another; in the sense of an assistant electrician whose master
tells him how to turn this screw and arrange that wire in the battery; never
in the sense of a spiritual medium. "Madame Blavatsky" neither needed nor
did she ever make use of either dark séance-rooms, cabinets, "trance-state,"
"harmony," nor any of the hundreds of conditions required by the passive
mediums who know not what is going to occur. She always knew beforehand, and
could state what was going to happen save infallibly answering each time for
Additionally one might consider these: [D]
"Occult philosophy, viewing the manifested and the unmanifested Kosmos as a
Unity, symbolizes the ideal conception of the former by that "Golden Egg"
with two poles in it. It is the positive that acts in the manifested world
of matter, while the negative pole is lost in the unknowable absoluteness of
SAT -- Be-ness." SD I 556
"[Keeley's] inter-etheric point is the laya-point of the Occultists, which,
however, does not require "an infinite mind to understand it," but only a
specific intuition and ability to trace its hiding-place in this world of
matter. Of course the laya center cannot be produced, but in an
inter-etheric vacuum can--as proved by the production of bell-sounds in
space." SD I 557
“[Theosophy] …As a whole, neither the foregoing nor what follows can be
founding full anywhere. It is not taught in any of the six Indian schools
of philosophy, for it pertains to their synthesis--the seventh, which is
the Occult doctrine. …The Books of the Vedanta (the last word of human
knowledge) give out but the metaphysical aspect of this world-Cosmology;
and their priceless thesaurus, the Upanishads--Upa-ni-shad being a compound
of word meaning “the conquest of ignorance by the revelation of secret,
spiritual knowledge” --require now the additional possession of a Master-key
to enable the student to get at their full meaning. The reason for this I
venture to state as I learned it from a Master.” S D I 269
“…Gautama, the Prince of Kapilavastu…after learning the whole of the
Brahmanical wisdom in the Rahasya or the Upanishads, and finding that the
teachings differed little…from those of the “Teachers of Life” inhabiting
the snowy ranges of the Himalaya, [Also called the “Sons of Wisdom,” and of
the “Fire-Mist” and the “Brothers of the Sun” … the “great teachers of the
Snowy Range” is Si-dzang.”]…feeling indignant because the sacred wisdom was
thus withheld from all but the Brahmins, determined to save the whole world
by popularizing it. [ … the Brahmins abridged the texts “without altering,
however, one word of the texts.] They simply detached from the MSS the most
important portions containing the last word of the Mystery of Being. The key
to the Brahmanical secret code remained henceforth with the initiates
alone…Such is the esoteric tradition beyond the Himalayas.” S D
I p. 271
“In order to live a conscious life in the world on the other side of the
grave, the man must have acquired belief in that world, in this terrestrial
life.” These are the two aphorisms of the Occult Science, on which is
constructed our Philosophy in respect to the posthumous consciousness and
immortality of the Soul.” H.P.Blavatsky Art. LIFE & DEATH
[Lucif. Oct. 1892 -- H.P.B Art II 269
“Your real I is not…your body…nor your Manas Sutratma, but your
H.P.Blavatsky Art II p. 270; LIFE AND DEATH -- Lucif. Oct. 1892
“…the serial and periodical rebirth of every individual monad from pralaya
to pralaya…[and] KARMA . For the latter is the very cornerstone of Esoteric
philosophy…it is the grand and one pillar on which hangs the whole
philosophy of rebirths…” H P B Art. II 274 -- THEORIES ABOUT
REINCARNATION & SPIRITS - Path, Nov. 1886.
SYMBOLS - CODES -- SECRECY
“Esoteric Philosophy, or the Secret Wisdom, was symbolized by a female form,
while a male figure stood for the Unveiled mystery.” [ Explanation of
words letters and figures --code ] S D I 351
CREATION -- EVOLUTION
“Esoteric philosophy , however, speaks neither of “creation” nor of
“evolution” in the sense the exoteric religions do. All these personified
Powers are…but so many aspects of the one and sole manifestation of the
ABSOLUTE all.”…”creator, the Logos who stands next God, “the SECOND GOD,”
and “the second God who is his (Highest God’s) WISDOM”… Deity is not God.
It is NOTHING, and DARKNESS. …The “Highest God” (the unmanifested LOGOS) is
its Son.” S D I 350
“The immutably infinite and the absolutely Boundless can neither will, think
nor act. To do this it has to become finite, and it does so by its ray
penetrating into the mundane egg--infinite space--and emanating from it as a
finite god. When the period arrives, the absolute will expands naturally
the force within it, [FOHAT?] according to the Law of which it is the inner
and ultimate Essence.” S D I 354
hope these ideas may prove useful,
From: John Gray
Sent: Saturday, March 18, 2006 9:59 AM
Thank you for the helpful insights.
It brings us to study further the articles in the Modern Panarion on
Occultism with more of a sense of direction.
The hardest part of any study is coming up with questions. It is only with
questions that we can forge a path into the knowledge contained in the
articles. Even foolish or limited questions can open a door. As my
grandmother used to say, "There is no such thing as a foolish question!"
The quote I found is from the Modern Panarion on page 78-79
"Occultism, in its efforts to penetrate the arcana of dynamic forces and
primordial power, sees in all things a unity, an unbroken chain extending
from the lowest organic form to the highest, and concludes that this unity
is based upon a uniformly ascending scale of organic forms of being, the
Jacob's ladder of spiritual organic experience, up which every soul must
travel before it can again sing praises before the face of its Father. It
perceives a duality in all things, a physical and spiritual nature, closely
interwoven in each other's embrace, inter-dependent upon each other, and yet
independent of each other. And as there is in spirit-life a central
individuality, the soul, so there is in the physical, the atom, each
eternal, unchangeable and self-existent. These centres, physical and
spiritual, are surrounded by their own respective atmospheres, and the
interspersing of which results in aggregation and organization. This idea
is not limited to terrestrial life, but is extended to worlds and systems of
Physical existence is subservient to the spiritual, and all physical
improvement and progress are only the auxiliaries of spiritual progress,
without which there could be no physical progress. Physical organic
progress is effected through hereditary transmissions; spiritual organic
progress by transmigration."
further HPB states:
"Occultism has divided spiritual progress into three divisions - the
elementary, which corresponds with the lower organizations; the astral,
which relates to the human; and the celestial, which is divine. "Elementary
spirits," whether they belong to the "earth, water, air or fire," are
spirits not yet human, but attracted to the human by certain
Page 452 of The Modern Panarion:
"The spirit of man which comes into direct and conscious relations with the
world of spirit, acquires real knowledge; while the spirit of man which
lives imprisoned in the body and is merely fed through the senses with
crumbs of knowledge, possesses the unreal only."
She states this in regards to Adepts. It seems that for us such is not the
case. a spiritualist...is taking in knowledge just as unreal, just as
untrustworthy, and liable to be distorted by an erroneous observation as
that which is dealt with by the wholly unspiritual observer of matter.'
Page 450 part II of Fragments of Occult Truth contains insights as well.
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application