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Re: Public versus Private???

May 27, 2006 12:56 PM
by robert_b_macd


The public record provides a clear and unambiguous record of events. 
Private correspondence is much less clear.  If one were to make a case
strictly from private correspondence, then one could use it to argue
almost anything.  When that case is placed into the timeline of the
public record, its inadequacies will become readily apparent. 
Judiciously, private correspondence would be used to make commentary on
the public record.

Private opinions gleaned from correspondence and hearsay is one thing,
opinions put into the public record are another.  Often
misunderstandings arise between people and are worked out in private. 
The pulbic record reflects none of this.  In extreme instances, both
parties realize the moral (if not legal) implications of publically
attacking another.  However, most disagreements are not extreme and
after a few cross words the source of the misunderstanding is identified
and the parties carry on with the public record being none the wiser.

Your example of Judge, Hartmann, and HPB deals entirely in generalities.
To the extent that there was a misunderstanding between HPB and Judge,
its source was identified and resolved never being reflected in the
public record - to them it was not important.  It seems to me that if
there were any malice in what HPB had done, these three would have
ceased to be allies.  The letter writers understood the context of their
letters and did not feel it was necessary to explain that context to one
another.  There was no ambiguity to them.  As we read one side of this
correspondence, very little is clear to us, there are many missing
pieces.  We can make the generalities mean as much or as little as we
want.  Judge, Hartmann, and HPB were aware of the context and they
remained faithful to one another right to the end as far as the public
record is concerned.

Context is important, and the public record gives us context.  Taking
snippets of letters out of context is dangerous and unfair.  I do not
understand what is confusing about this.

This brings us to Olcott.  His doubts ceased to be private and found
their way into the public record.  This was a challenge that had to be
met no matter how sincere those doubts were at that point in time.  He
was not only attacking HPB's integrity, but also the Spirit of
Theosophy.  It does not matter why he did it, only that he did it.  The
only thing that would absolve such an attack would be if he were to have
proof of what he claimed.  He never offered proof, only an opinion.  His
opinion that the Prayag Letter was not an accurate reflection of
theosophy was not a problem.  He could have argued that.  When he tried
to save the infalible authority of the Masters by blaming HPB for the
content of the letter, he erred.  Hartmann's "Talking Image of Urur"
gives a pretty good idea of how there came to be a fantastical cult of
the Masters that neither HPB, Hartmann, nor Judge shared in.  Olcott on
the other hand was not immune from the fantasies of this cult according
to HPB and the others.  Olcott could have simply stuck to arguing the
failings of this letter.  He did not.  He usurped the authority of the
Masters by attacking Their Agent, HPB.  If he is capable of judging HPB,
then obviously the moral authority transfers to him and the Masters must
be on his, and his allies, side.  This was a grave error.  The Masters
cared about Humanity.  Olcott should not have believed that they were
interested in taking sides in the petty squabbles of individuals. 
Olcott and HPB were both owed gratitude from the Masters for their
tireless work.  The Masters could not, however, stand behind Olcott for
publically denouncing HPB.  The attack was based on no proof, was
therefore by its very nature unfair, and was consequently an attack on
the Brotherhood of Humanity, the very Spirit of Theosophy.


--- In, "danielhcaldwell"
<danielhcaldwell@...> wrote:
> Bruce,
> You write in part:
> ===================================================
> Privately, he [Olcott] could state whatever he likes.
> Certainly, Judge appears to have been aware of Olcott's
> opinions concerning HPB and was willing to work with
> him despite these opinions.  It is only after Olcott
> made them public that they became a problem for the
> integrity of the Theosophical Society.
> ==================================================
> Then later you write:
> ==================================================
> I really don't care a tinker's damn what anyone then
> or now thinks about HPB's integrity in private.
> I am only interested in the Public Record as the
> Theosophical Society is a public institution and
> what members say publically concerning that institution
> is important for us all....
> =================================================
> Bruce, I must admit that I am really puzzled by what
> you write above.  I guess your argument goes right
> over my head.  Maybe I'm tired tonite and my brain is just
> not working....
> To my way of thinking, I am glad Olcott gave his opinion ---
> whether in public or in private.  If it was his REAL, honest opinion,
> then why shouldn't he give it publicly?  Why hide it?
> I really could care less about this distinction between
> public and private opinions.
> Since Judge brought up the Prayag letter in public, what
> was Olcott suppose to do if he felt strongly about the letter?
> Refrain from giving his real honest assessment of the letter in
> public?  Hide his opinion????
> Are you suggesting (I hope not!) that Judge might have had one opinion
> for public consumption but actually thought something else in
> private???
> I also fail to understand what Olcott's opinion of HPB
> has to do with the "integrity of the Theosophical Society"
> or how Olcott's opinion is really relevant to the Society as
> an "institution".
> As a student of Theosophy and Blavatsky as well of the history of the
> Theosophical Movement, I want to know what the key actors REALLY
> believed whether they only expressed it in a "private letter" or
> whether they wrote their opinion in a public article or book.
> I really fail to understand why you make this distinction between
> private and public.
> Daniel

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