G. TILLETT ON THE USA TPH
Jul 05, 2006 08:07 AM
An Uncomfortable Question
PUBLISHING SLANDERS AGAINST H.P.B:
SHOULD WE ALL SHARE THE BLAME?
It would not be correct to ascribe solely to John Algeo the decision of absorbing many false and slanderous documents as part of the HPB Letters.
True, Mr. Algeo is the main responsible for the first volume of H.P. Blavatsky’s personal correspondence (TPH, Wheaton, 2003, 634 pp.), which includes dozens of libels and forgeries. But he is not the only responsible for the adoption of those forgeries in the book. In general terms, such a policy was announced in 1991 by John Cooper, who was first chosen to edit the HPB Letters, after Boris de Zirkoff’s death.
Coincidence or not, it was in 1991 that Daniel Calwell published his sad book “The Occult World of Madame Blavatsky”. Caldwell included in it a collection with some of the worst slanders against H. P. Blavatsky and the Masters. He also had the nerve to present those slanders as “testimonies” and “acounts”.
That same year, “The Canadian Theosophist” published a letter by Mr. John Cooper entitled “The Collected Letters of H.P. Blavatsky” (1).
The text starts thus:
“Through the kindness of those who are carrying on the work of Boris de Zirkoff, I have been engaged by the Theosophical Publishing House to prepare a critical edition of “The Collected Letters of H. P. Blavatsky”.
And then John Cooper proceeds to reveal “some of the editorial principles that will be followed in preparing the letters for publication”. It is here that the letter shows a grave absence of common sense, for the very first “principle” says:
“All letters written by H.P.B. will be included. These will include letters whose authenticity is doubtful, as will be indicated in the editorial apparatus.”
Which is tantamount to say:
“All letters written by H. P. Blavatsky will be published, including those which have not been written by her.”
These two short sentences are a magnificent example of the “double-thinking” denounced by George Orwell in his famous novel entitled “1984”, and often present in “scholarly” works. Translated into English, these “doublethink” sentences mean that Mr. John Cooper intended to publish both true and false letters, that is, those witten by HPB and those written by the 19th century forgerers who were open enemies of the theosophical movement.
As long as I know, John Cooper’s decision and announcement was not challenged or opposed.
Of course, John Algeo, who succeeded Cooper in the task, could have corrected that decision. In fact, Nicholas Weeks, a member of Algeo’s “Editorial Committee”, told Algeo that he should not accept as true the letters forged by Mr. Vsevolod Soloviof. But the warning was in vain – as Ms. Dara Eklund, also a member of the Editorial Committee, reported to me in a 2004 letter.
Besides Soloviof’s forgeries, John Algeo decided to include many other slanderous letters, with some very modest aknowledgements that they had ... “poor legitimacy”.
Algeo has been for some years the international vice-president of the Adyar Society, and from the viewpoint of political power, he might have strong reasons to use those old slanders as instruments to attack HPB at the moral ground. It would be a cunning way to help prevent Adyar Society members from rediscovering true Theosophy, or from getting rid of the ritualistic fancies and authoritarian power-structure created by C. W. Leadbeater.
John Algeo is, no doubt, the main responsible for such an attempt to absorb dozens of slanderous texts into the heart of the theosophical literature – nay, into the very body of HPB’s writings. Yet one could say that this was not his idea. After all, he only put it into practice. In a way, it all started with John Cooper back in 1991, or even earlier with Boris de Zirkoff.
In fact, the attempt to adopt slanders as part of our literature developed gradually.
First., there was no need for Zirkoff to translate many of those “letters” from the Russian, as he did, or at least to plan to publish them, if he planned indeed. Why publishing and circulating forgeries?
During the 1980s, there was a new and strong evidence that those false “materials” should be abandoned: it was the self-criticism of the Society for Psychic Research, SPR. The same institution which used those forgeries to “comdemn” Blavatsky as a fraud in 1885 withdrew its charges against HPB in 1986, after experts’ examination of the documents showed that the “process” against HPB was biased and fraudulent, while HPB was a victim of persecution. In spite of this, Daniel Caldwell decided to include the slanders in his 1991 book on HPB. Besides, the libels were not clearly identified as such by Caldwell. Also in 1991, John Cooper announced his intention to publish the forged texts as part of H.P.B. Letters.
The ethical defense of truth started in 2004, soon after the publication of the false HPB letters. In 2005, “The Aquarian Theosophist” announced it intended to publish a first volume with the authentic Letters of HPB – “a volume containing no slanders against the founder of the modern esoteric movement”.
Better late than never. But since 1991, when John Cooper announced the future publication of the slanders and Daniel Caldwell actually published many of them, up to 2004, when reaction started, there was some sort of paralysis in the movement’s ability to defend truth – and, to defend itself.
This is something for us to think about.
Perhaps we should humbly share part of the responsibility for such a collective lack of common sense. Helena Petrovna is one of the great souls of our humanity, and her work will only help us more, if we are able to understand the truth about her wisdom, decency and generosity.
We will certainly have more to do about that in the years ahead.
Best regards, Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
(1) “The Canadian Theosophist”, Toronto, March/April 1991, p. 21.
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