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Olcott's Mistake

May 23, 2006 01:10 PM
by robert_b_macd

Dear Christina,

>From what I understand, Olcott's Mistake is as follows.

In ML-134 (Letter 30, chrono) HPB forwards a message to Sinnet from M. 
In the letter, dated November 1881, HPB writes on behalf of M. why it is
that the Masters will not correspond with the Allahabad Theosophists. 
The basic argument was that because these Brahmins still clung fiercely
to their gods and beliefs, it would be impossible for the Masters to
have any meaningful conversation with them and so would be a waste of
both of their time.  When this letter finally came to light, the
Brahmins understood it to be an edorsement of Buddhism over Brahmanism. 
They argued it could not be from the Masters.  This left Olcott in a
difficult political position with respect to the Society in India, for
he feared that if he lost the Brahmins' support, that could jeapordize
the Society.  At this point, in 1895, he already had developed doubt
concerning HPB's integrity.

Olcott wanted to disagree with the contents of the letter.  Rather than
argue that what the letter said was wrong, he proceeded to undermine
HPB's credibility by implying that she may have forged the letter.  This
not only demonstrated his ingratitude for all that HPB had done, it was
hypocritical on his part.  The President-founder had done what no other
theosophist had ever done, he had argued his case by attacking the
messenger.  From then on this made it okay for theosophists to obscure
the message by attacking the messenger.  This was precisely what the
Society had been established to prevent  (for as long as people stuck to
arguing over the message, civility was guaranteed.)  To this day,
theosophists continue to argue by attacking the messenger.  Universal
Brotherhood was supposed to guarantee that inuendo, slander, etc. was
kept out of the debate.  Today people bring up inuendo and slander
concerning HPB as if it were nothing, and why not?  Olcott, the
President-founder did it!

As Carlos has pointed out, Olcott, according to Laura Holloway, came to
regret his error.   In time, perhaps others will learn as well.

This in short is Olcott's Mistake.  I hope that I was able to convey it
with some clarity.


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