Cant?, 1900 Letter, Portraits, HPB, My Search, etc. Part 1
Sep 15, 2006 12:26 PM
Cant?, the 1900 Letter, Portraits, HPB, My Search, etc.
Carlos quotes the following from the 1900 KH letter:
"THE CANT ABOUT THE `MASTERS' MUST BE SILENTLY BUT FIRMLY PUT DOWN.
LET THE DEVOTION AND SERVICE BE TO THAT SUPREME SPIRIT ALONE OF
WHICH EACH ONE IS A PART."
Now to really understand what the Master is referring to here,
I would suggest that one must understand first of all, what the
word "cant" is referring to.
Here is what Merriam-Webster Dictionary says about the word:
1 : affected singsong or whining speech
2 a : the private language of the underworld
2 b obsolete : the phraseology peculiar to a religious class or sect
2 c : JARGON 2
3 : a set or stock phrase
4 : the expression or repetition of conventional or trite opinions
or sentiments; especially : the insincere use of pious words
Now I suggest one would also have to go back to 1900 and prior and
look at the Theosophical literature especially of the late 1890s and
especially at some of Mrs. Besant's writings and speeches and see if
one could identify what is called in the 1900 letter "the cant about
Certainly AFTER 1900 I can readily call to mind various examples of
cant in the writings of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater.
Of course, the other quote from the 1900 KH Letter also helps one to
get a feel for what the word "cant" means in this letter:
"How few are they who can know anything about us. Are
we to be propitiated and made idols of. IS THE WORSHIP OF A NEW
TRINITY MADE UP OF THE BLESSED M., UPASIKA AND YOURSELF TO TAKE THE
PLACE OF EXPLODED CREEDS. WE ASK NOT FOR THE WORSHIP OF OURSELVES."
One of my favorite sentences in this whole letter has always been:
"Are we to be propitiated and made idols of."
But who on Theos-Talk has suggested that this be done? Have I?
More importantly, COMPARE all of this about "cant" and
"Are we to be propitiated and made idols of" and "WE ASK NOT
FOR THE WORSHIP OF OURSELVES", .... I say compare all of this with
what HPB said to her esoteric students in 1888:
"It is, however, right that each member, once he believes in the
existence of such Masters, should try to understand what their
nature and powers are, to reverence Them in his heart, to draw near
to Them, as much as in him lies, and to open up for himself
conscious communication with the guru to whose bidding he has
devoted his life. This can only be done by rising to the spiritual
plane where the Masters are, and not by attempting to draw them down
I hope that Carlos Aveline is not suggesting that what HPB wrote
is "cant" or that she was suggesting that the Masters should be
propitiated, worshipped and made idols of. I don't believe he is
but I simply wanted to have this plainly stated.
Yet notice what HPB does write in the above statement:
"It is ... right that each member ... should try
 to understand what their [the Masters'] nature and powers are,
 to reverence Them in his heart,
 to draw near to Them, as much as in him lies, and
 to open up for himself conscious communication with the guru...."
Let me focus first on HPB saying that the student should try
to understand what the Masters are, their nature, their powers.
This seems possibly to be even more important to do today than ever
Well, I would suggest that to put it quite bluntly there has been so
much claptrap, so much garbled information about the Masters
circulated during the last century or more that the majority of
students of Theosophy, the esoteric, the occult probably have more
misinformation and misconceptions than genuine information about the
Masters and here I refer to Blavatsky's teachers.
Now there are all kinds of books out there --- not only Theosophical
but broadly occult, esoteric, religious, Hindu, Buddhist, yogic ---
that gives readers all sorts of concepts about Masters, Mahatmas,
adepts, initiates, yogis, lamas, etc. etc.
I could also give a whole list of books that fall under the label
MASTER WORSHIP. It is quite amazing the proliferation of such
Just confining ourselves to "Theosophical literature" in maybe the
broad sense of the word, Besant, Leadbeater and Bailey (all by
themselves!!!) created an elaborate mythology about HPB's teachers.
And Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Guy Ballard and others created even
more distortions if that is possible!
When I first started in the early 1970s to have serious doubts about
Leadbeater's explanations of Theosophy, I also at some point
wondered what was the REAL truth about the Masters. Just a little
subsequent reading of HPB's writings and the Mahatma Letters as well
as some reading in Theosophical history showed me that many of the
assertions about the Masters by Leadbeater were questionable to say
Therefore over the years one of my many studies was IN FACT to try
to understand who the Masters are, what the Masters are, their
nature, their powers, just as HPB suggested. This I framed in my
mind even before I read HPB's words that I have quoted above.
Well you have to start some place --- and since on one side there
was all the claptrap about the Masters and on the other side was all
the material by "authorities" and supposed scholars stating that the
Mahatmas were fictitious, simply madeup by HPB, what better place to
start (I thought back then)then by going back and seeing what the
actual historical records said about the appearances of the Masters
during HPB's lifetime. Also reading what HPB herself said about the
Masters (from the personal to the more abstract level). etc. etc.
So on the historical level, I studied the testimonies of witnesses
who said they had seen the Mahatmas while HPB was alive and well.
I guess this was just reading "gossip" probably Carlos would spin it
Years later I compiled not only for myself but for the benefit of
others who might be similarly interested the compilation which can
be found at:
Then of course since I believed HPB was the messenger of the
Masters, I considered that one could learn a great deal about the
Masters, their nature, their powers, by reading all that HPB had
written about the Masters, whether it be merely historical or more
metaphysical, abstract, etc. I hope Carlos doesn't consider this
also in the category of gossip.
I am not suggesting that one should just stop with what I have
listed above but since you have to start somewhere, why not start
with the VERIFIABLE material written by HPB herself, written by the
Mahatmas themselves and the testimonies by witnesses of that time-
Well that's how I did it.
Obviously one has to use one's intuition, etc. etc, .. obviously,
but one also has to in effect CLEAN HOUSE of all the later POSSIBLE
claptrap and misconceptions and one way to do this is by going back
as much as possible to the original sources of infoon HPB's
Teachers, and then...etc. etc.
Such was my approach...my search...maybe someone else has a better
or easier approach....quite possibly.
I know I tread on dangerous grounds here since I may be in effect
raising a red flag and I know there is a bull lurking nearby :)
but h*** I wanted to know what HPB's enemies and critics also said
about the Masters.
I wanted to read for myself their accounts ... not filtered by some
Theosophical group or authority...but read for myself the original
accounts of what Emma Coulomb, Richard Hodgson, etc. said about the
Again maybe this reflects my nature but I just don't like to be
spoonfeed what I should believe by reading some secondary source. I
had read Adlai Waterman's book (Walter Carrither's) OBITUARY which
certainly seemed to discredit the Coulomb-Hodgson material but once
again since I had not myself actually read the Coulomb and
Hodgson material for myself, I was in effect having to rely on the
assumption that Waterman (Carrithers) had actually done an
accurate and valid analysis of the material. But d*** it I wanted
to read the Coulomb pamphlet and the Hodgson Report and at that time
I therefore wrote to Adlai Waterman (Walter Carrithers) asking how I
could obtain copies of this old material. etc. etc.
Eventually I was able to read for myself (not filtered by any
Theosophical organization, book, etc) what these critics
of HPB had originally written. And of course I was especially
interested in how Coulomb and Hodgson explained HPB's Masters.
Was I happy to read that the Masters were essentially fictitious
according to these people??!! S*** no!
Did reading this material put doubts in my mind....certainly....
I remember thinking way back...okay first I was mislead by the
Leadbeater material...Jesus now I've been possibly mislead by the
Did it hurt...did I feel some pain..some psychological
doubt...yes...but I don't easily succumb to such things and I said
to myself..if I really am searching for the truth...then I must
explore all of this even more...not just read the material but study
I had always liked the motto of the TS: THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER
which I always thought basically meant:
There is no belief (including my own!!!), no opinion higher than
So do I just settle for a comfortable belief or do I search for the
truth and you know maybe the truth may not be so
comfortable...especially at first... when you realize that maybe
what you really beleived before was all wrong
and basically an illusion...the truth may be very uncomfortable...
So you dig, you study, you ponder, you discuss, you doubt, you meet
new people, you look at more opposing views, you meditate,
you live daily life and you hope...that over time you may see ....
at least a slight glimmer of the truth...if not
the whole blinding light....
As the years went by, I made many theosophical contacts with many
individuals of all theosophical groups, and also many
independent theosophists who had never joined any of the official
organizations. I won't name any of these people but
many of them had been theosophists for many many decades, had even
known some of the early figures, etc. etc.
I also started collecting everything....I mean everything on HPB,
her writings, her life, her teachings, etc. etc.
First of all it was scattered all over the world....not in one
Then I wanted to share some of this material with other
students...especially the rare material...the lesser known material.
That is when I conceived of my book THE OCCULT WORLD OF MADAME
BLAVATSKY....which lead to the second edition retitled
THE ESOTERIC WORLD OF MADAME BLAVATSKY. And this desire to share
also lead to my creation of my website.
For the 2nd edition of my book, yes I decided to include what Madame
Coulomb and Richard Hodgson said about HPB especially about the
Did I have reservations at first about doing this? Sure. You bet!
But just as I had previously wanted to read FOR MYSELF the Coulomb
and Hodgson material, I decided I MUST also allow my readers that
same opportunity. Aren't we grown people? Can't we deal with it
in an open way or must we be spoonfeed the "truth". I mean this was
one of of the reasons (way way back! when I was a teen!!) that made
me so dissatisfied with "Christianity" or at least the versions I
The preachers and priests in charge wanted to tell you what to read,
what to believe, and they were always warning that if you didn't
believe it THE WAY they viewed it, the way their church presented
it, you were just going to hell....fear fear fear.
Even as a teenager I resented this narrow view...
Well I was certainly surprised when I discovered some of these same
attitudes among some Theosophists! Hey I was naive back then!!!
In some Christian churches, if you question, doubt some of the
tenets, the preacher or some elder will suggest that
it is SATAN, the devil tempting you...trying to mislead you...demons
trying to get you off the straight and narrow path.
Well believe it or not, I found this same kind of reasoning among
some students of Theosophy. Be careful, don't doubt, don't question
because some dugpa or elemental or Jesuit may be behind
this...trying to get you off the TRUE Theoosphical path.
Now in more recent years...I find that I have now been classified by
some as actually being a dugpa or Jesuit... sorta of an amusing
situation... I said sorta...amusing.
I've also seen this same kind of "reasoning" or "tactic" at work in
the Eckankar religion. I won't go into describing Eckkankar but
I meet a David Christopher Lane who had done a study of Eckankar and
had written a book "exposing" Eckankar and its founder
I remember having lunch with him in San Diego with two other
associates of mine. David Lane at one point in the conversation
laughingly said, "You realize that you are having lunch with an
agent of Kal, don't you?" Kal is the Eckankar equivalent of the
devil...I guess like a Maha Dugpa. When Lane's book had first been
published, Darwin Gross, the Living Mahanta of Eckankar, had told
Eckankar members that all that Lane said about Eckankar was inspired
by Kal, so Lane was simply a pawn or agent of the negative force Kal.
At the time of this dicussion, I thought of the similar rhetoric
used by some Christians to stifle criticism, etc. by suggesting to
question or doubt the Christian tenets is to open oneself to the
influence of Satan or one of his agents.
Little did I know at the time that years later some Theosophists
would suggest or hint or even say that I was some agent or
whatever of dugpas, Jesuits, etc.
Looking back at this whole posting I have rambled completely off my
first major points but I think I have a reason or two for bringing
this other more personal material up.
I will close for now. And try to get back to my main points as well
as trying to relate my latter comments in this posting with
the first major points of this posting.
More in the follow up posting.
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