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Judge & The Masters vs. Olcott

May 16, 2006 05:05 PM
by robert_b_macd

In as much as history can teach us, it is instructive to look at the
Olcott betrayal of HPB and how the Masters and Judge reacted to that
betrayal.  As we remember, the Masters wrote a preemptive letter to
Olcott while HPB was still alive warning him of the dangers of his
thinking process.  They wrote:

>One of the most valuable effects of Upasika's mission is that it
>drives men to self-study and destroys in them blind servility for
>persons. Observe your own case, for example. But your revolt, good
>friend, against her infallibility—as you once thought it—has gone too
>far and you have been unjust to her, for which I am sorry to say, you
>will have to suffer hereafter along with others. Just now, on deck,
>your thoughts about her were dark and sinful, and so I find the
>moment a fitting one to put you on your guard.
>Try to remove such misconceptions as you will find, by kind
>persuasion and an appeal to the feelings of loyalty to the Cause of
>truth if not to us. Make all these men feel that we have no
>favourites, nor affections for persons, but only for their good acts
>and humanity as a whole. But we employ agents—the best available. Of
>these for the past thirty years the chief has been the personality
>known as H.P.B. to the world (but otherwise to us). Imperfect and
>very troublesome, no doubt, she proves to some, nevertheless, there
>is no likelihood of our finding a better one for years to come—and
>your theosophists should be made to understand it. Since 1885 I have
>not written, nor caused to be written save thro' her agency, direct
>and remote, a letter or line to anybody in Europe or America, nor
>communicated orally with, or thro' any third party.

The Masters write concerning Olcott's revolt that it had gone too far,
was unjust for which he "will have to suffer hereafter along with
others."  Are the Masters foreshadowing the split of the Society here,
with those who doubted HPB gathering behind Olcott and Besant, and
those supporting HPB gathering around Judge?  The Masters make it very
clear that as late as 1888 HPB was their only agent through which the
Masters addressed anyone in the TS.  The implication is that Olcott's
thoughts are unjust and will eventually manifest in a way that will
bring suffering to him and to others involved.

In 1895 Judge picks up on this thread when he writes in the Path the
following lines:

>In the April Theosophist Col. Olcott makes public what we have long
>known to be his private opinion -a private opinion hinted at through
>the pages of Old Diary Leaves, -that H.P.B. was a fraud, a medium,
>and a forger of bogus messages form the Masters. This final ingrate's
>blow is delivered in a Postscript to the magazine for which the
>presses were stopped. The hurry was so great that he could not wait
>another month before hurling the last handful of mud at his spiritual
>and material benefactor, our departed H.P.B. The next prominent
>person for whom we wait to make a similar public statement, has long
>made it privately.

We see here that Judge was aware of Olcott's opinions concerning HPB
for some time.  Yet this never prevented him from at first supporting
and then trying to work with Olcott.  It is only after he makes his
private opinion public that Judge feels impelled to act.  Why is this?

Judge makes it clear that:

>If she hoodwinked with one message, all may be the same -bogus-and
>the great force and strength derived from a firm belief in Masters
>will be swept away, because she, their first messenger to us, is made
>out a fraud. All this is precisely what Olcott et al wish to do. He
>cannot tolerate the idea that H.P.B. was greater than himself, so he
>throws around her memory the dirty cloak of tricky and irresponsible
>mediumship. That done, anything can be explained and anything
>accounted for.
>Well, for my part, I will not accept such nonsense; Col. Olcott being
>incompetent to decide on Mahatmic messages on occult lines, and being
>a disciple of H.P.B. is certainly much below her. His present
>utterance settles nothing about her character, about her mediumship
>or about the message; but it does serve to brand him as an ingrate
>and to place him plainly in view as one who calls that great teacher
>a fraud and medium.
>Now let the next and the next come on, so that we may have the lines
>clearly drawn and the hypocrisies unveiled.

What are the hypocrisies to be unveiled?  The TS was to be an
organization of Universal Brotherhood.  Members must be allowed to
hold whatever opinions they want in their personal persuit of truth. 
All members were to have equal voice, the Masters told Olcott above to
"Make all these men feel that we have no favourites, nor affections
for persons, but only for their good acts and humanity as a whole." 
Regardless of what people thought, they were not held in greater or
lesser esteem by the Masters.  They were concerned with the acts of
theosophists especially with respect to humanity as a whole.  The
organization was to be impersonal.  As soon as you start criticizing
the integrity of fellow members, you make this impersonal organization
personal.  Olcott on the one hand was saying you can believe whatever
you want, and on the other hand he was saying if you don't believe
what I want you to believe, I will attack you personally.  This was
total hypocrisy.

Olcott's doubts about HPB when coupled with the political difficulties
centered in the "Prayag Letter" caused Olcott to deny HPB.  Judge
points out that by claiming she was a fraud in this one instance,
Olcott throws doubt on everything she did and on "a firm belief in
Masters."  "That done, anything can be explained and anything
accounted for."  The TS becomes not a Society of free thought, but
just another creed to be manipulated by the unscrupulous.  This Judge
saw clearly and warned theosophists about in his letter in The Path.

The important point is that when Olcott, Besant, or any of their
followers allowed themselves to tolerate the public criticisms of HPB,
they were in effect saying that "we know best" and that "if HPB could
make a mistake, then so could any of you."  It follows that
Theosophists everywhere should look to these guardians of Truth for
their answers.  Where else do we find this paternalistic attitude?

This letter is central to all that has happened to the Society since
that time and is instructive why personal attacks are not to be
tolerated in the Movement.  For those wanting to look at this letter
more closely, it is on line at:


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