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HP B on A Lilly

Aug 07, 2007 05:21 PM
by christinaleestemaker

Mr. A. Lillie's Delusions 


    I write to rectify the many mistakes ? if they are, indeed, 
only "mistakes" ? in Mr. Lillie's last letter that appeared in Light 
of August 2nd, in answer to the Observations on his pamphlet by the 
President of the London Lodge.

    1. This letter, in which the author of Buddha and Early Buddhism 
proposed to

    Consider briefly some of the notable omissions made in 
the "Observations,"

begins with two most notable assertions concerning myself, which are 
entirely false, and which the author had not the slightest right to 
make. He says:

    For fourteen years (1860 to 1874) Madame Blavatsky was an avowed 
Spiritualist, controlled by a spirit called "John King" . . . she 
attended many séances.

    But this would hardly prove anyone to be a Spiritualist, and, 
moreover, all these assertions are entirely false. I say the word 
and underline it, for the facts in them are distorted, and made to 
fit a preconceived and very erroneous notion, started first by the 
Spiritualists, whose interest it is to advocate "spirits" pure and 
simple, and to kill, if they can, which is rather doubtful, belief 
in the wisdom, if not in the very existence, of our revered Masters.

    Though I do not at all feel bound to unbosom my private life to 
Mr. Arthur Lillie, nor do I recognize in him the right of demanding 
it, yet out of respect to a few Spiritualists whom I esteem and 
honour, I would set them right once for all on the subject. As that 
period of my life (1873-1879) in America, with all its spiritual 
transactions, will be given very soon in a new book called Madame 
Blavatsky, published by friends, and one which I trust will settle, 
once and for ever, the many wild and unfounded stories told of me, I 
will briefly state only the following.

    The unwarranted assumption mentioned above is very loosely based 
on one single document, namely, Colonel Olcott's People from the 
Other World. As this book was written partly before, and partly 
after, my first acquaintance with Colonel Olcott, and as he was a 
Spiritualist, which he has never denied, I am not responsible for 
his views of me and my "power" at that time. He wrote what he then 
thought the whole truth, honestly and sincerely; and as I had a 
determined object in view, I did not seek to disabuse him too rudely 
of his dreams. It was only after the formation of the Theosophical 
Society in 1875, that he learned the whole truth. I defy anyone, 
after that period, to find one word from his pen that would 
corroborate his early views on the nature of my 
supposed "mediumship." But even then, when writing of me in his 
book, he states distinctly the following:

    Her mediumship is totally different from that of any other 
person I ever met, for instead of being controlled by spirits to do 
their will, it is she who seems to control them to do her bidding.

    Strange "mediumship," one that resembled in no way any that even 
Colonel Olcott ? a Spiritualist of thirty years' standing ? had ever 
met with! But when Colonel Olcott says in his book (p. 453) that 
instead of being controlled by, it is I who control the so-called 
spirits, he is yet made to say by Mr. Lillie, who refers the public 
to Colonel Olcott's book, that is I who was controlled! Is this a 
misstatement and a misquotation, I ask, or is it not?

    Again, it is stated by Mr. Lillie that I conversed with 
this "spirit" (John King) during fourteen years, "constantly in 
India and elsewhere." To begin with, I here assert that I had never 
heard the name of "John King" before 1873. True it is, I had told 
Colonel Olcott and many others that the form of a man, with a dark 
pale face, black beard, and white flowing garments and fettah, that 
some of them had met about the house and my rooms, was that of 
a "John King." I had given him that name for reasons that will be 
fully explained very soon, and I laughed heartily at the easy way 
the astral body of a living man could be mistaken for, and accepted 
as, a spirit. And I had told them that I had known that "John" since 
1860; for it was the form of an Eastern Adept, who has since gone 
for his final initiation, passing through and visiting us in his 
living body on his way, at Bombay. Whether Messrs. Lillie and Co. 
believe the statement or not, I care very little, as Colonel Olcott 
and other friends know it now to be the true one. I have known and 
conversed with many a "John King" in my life ? a generic name for 
more than one spook ? but, thank heaven, I was never 
yet "controlled" by one! My mediumship has been crushed out of me a 
quarter of a century or more; and I defy loudly all the "spirits" of 
the Kâma Loka to approach ? let alone to control me ? now. Surely it 
is Mr. Arthur Lillie who must be "controlled" by some one to make 
untruthful statements which can be so easily refuted as this one.

    2. Mr. Lillie asks for

    Information about the seven years' initiation of Madame 

    The humble individual of this name has never heard of such an 
initiation. With that accuracy in the explanation of Esoteric terms 
that so preëminently characterizes the author of Buddha and Early 
Buddhism, the word may be intended for "instruction"? If so, then I 
should be quite justified in first asking Mr. Lillie what right he 
has to cross-examine me. But since he chooses to take such liberties 
with my name, I will tell him plainly that he himself knows nothing, 
not merely of initiations and Tibet, but even of exoteric ? let 
alone Esoteric ? Buddhism. What he pretends to know about Lamaism he 
has picked up from the hazy information of travellers, who, having 
forced themselves into the borderland of Tibet, pretend on that 
account to know all that is within the country closed for centuries 
to the average traveller. Even Csomo de Köros knew very little of 
the real gyelukpas and Esoteric Lamaïsm, except what he was 
permitted to know, for he never went beyond Zanskar and the lamasery 
of Phagdal ? erroneously spelt by those who pretend to know all 
about Tibet, Pugdal, which is incorrect, just because there are no 
meaningless names in Tibet, as Mr. Lillie has been taught to say. 
And I will tell him also that I have lived at different periods in 
Little Tibet as well as in Great Tibet, and that these combined 
periods form more than seven years.

    Yet I have never stated either verbally or over my signature 
that I had passed seven consecutive years in a convent. What I have 
said, and repeat now, is that I have stopped in Lamaïstic convents; 
that I have visited Tzi-gadze, the Teshu Hlumpo territory and its 
neighbourhood, and that I have been further into, and have visited 
such places of Tibet as have never been visited by other Europeans, 
and such as he can never hope to visit.

    Mr. Lillie had no right to expect more "ample details" in Mr. 
Finch's pamphlet. Mr. Finch is an honourable man, who speaks of the 
private life of a person only so far as that person permits him. My 
friends and those whom I respect and for whose opinion I care, have 
ample evidence ? from my family for instance ? that I have been in 
Tibet, and this is all I care for. As to ? 

    The names, perhaps, of three or four . . . English [rather Anglo-
Indian] officials, who would certify

to having seen me when I passed, I am afraid their vigilance would 
not be found at the height of their trustworthiness. Only two years 
back, as I can prove by numerous witnesses, when journeying from 
Chandernagore to Darjeeling, instead of proceeding to it direct, I 
left the train half-way, was met by friends with a conveyance, and 
passed with them into the territory of Sikkhim where I found my 
Master and Mahâtmâ Kûthûmi. Thence I went five miles across the old 
borderland of Tibet.

    Upon my return, five days later, to Darjeeling, I received a 
kind note from the Deputy Commissioner. It notified me in the 
politest of terms that, having heard of my intention of going over 
to Tibet, the government could not allow me to proceed there before 
I had received permission to that effect from Simla, nor could it 
accept the responsibility of my safety,

    The Râjah of Sikkhim being very averse to allow travellers on 
his territory, etc.

    This I would call shutting the stable-door when the steed is 
stolen. Nor had the very "trustworthy" official even heard that a 
month before Mr. Sinnett had kindly procured for me permission, 
since I went to Sikkhim but for a few days, and no farther than the 
old Tibetan borderland. The question is not whether the Anglo-Indian 
Government will or will not grant such permission, but whether the 
Tibetans will let one cross their territory. Of the latter, I am 
sure any day. I invite Mr. Lillie to try the same. He may at the 
same time study with profit geography, and ascertain that there are 
other routes than those laid down into Tibet, besides viâ "English 
officials." He tries his best to make me out, in plain words, a 
liar. He will find it even more difficult than to disprove that he 
knows nothing of either Tibet or Buddhism or our "Byang Tisubs."

    I will surely never lose my time in showing that his accusations 
against One, Whom no insult of his can reach, are perfectly 
worthless. There are numbers of men quite as intelligent as he 
believes himself to be, whose opinion of our Mahâtmâs' letters is 
the reverse of his. He can "suppose" that the authorities by him 
cited knew more about Tibet than our Masters; others think they do 
not; and the thousand and one blunders of his Buddha and Early 
Buddhism show us what these authorities are worth when trusted 
literally. As to his trying to insinuate that there is no Mahâtmâ 
Kûthûmi at all, the idea alone is absurd. He will have to dispose, 
before he does anything more, of a certain lady in Russia, whose 
truthfulness and impartiality no one who knows her would ever 
presume to question, who received a letter from that Master so far 
back as 1870. Perchance a forgery also? As to my having been in 
Tibet, at Mahâtmâ Kûthûmi's house, I have better proof in store ? 
when I believe it needed ? than Mr. Lillie's rancorous ingenuity 
will ever be able to make away with.

    If the teachings of Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism are 
considered atheistic, then I am an atheist too. And yet I would not 
deny what I wrote in Isis, as quoted by Mr. Finch. If Mr. Lillie 
knows no difference between an anthropomorphic extra-cosmic God, and 
the Divine Essence of the Advaitîs and other Esotericists, then, I 
must only lose a little more of my respect for the R. A. S. in which 
he claims membership; and it may justify the more our assertions 
that there is more knowledge in "Bâbu (?) Subba Row's" solitary head 
than in dozens of the heads of "Orientalists" about London we know 
of. The same with regard to the Master's name. If Mr. Lillie tells 
us that "Kûthûmi" is not a Tibetan name, we answer that we never 
claimed it to be one. Everyone knows that the Master is a Punjabi, 
whose family was settled for years in Cashmere. But if he tells us 
that an expert at the British Museum ransacked the Tibetan 
dictionary for the words "Kut" and "Humi," "and found no such 
words," then I say: Buy a better dictionary or replace the expert by 
a more "expert" one. Let Mr. Lillie try the glossaries of the 
Moravian Brothers and their alphabets. I am afraid he is ruining 
terribly his reputation as an Orientalist. Indeed, before this 
controversy is settled he may leave in it the last shreds of his 
supposed Oriental learning.

    Lest Mr. Lillie should take my omitting to answer a single one 
of his very indiscreet questions as a new pretext for printing some 
impertinence, I say: I was at Mentana during the battle in October, 
1867, and left Italy in November of the same year for India. Whether 
I was sent there, or found myself there by accident, are questions 
that pertain to my private life, with which, it appears to me, Mr. 
Lillie has no concern. But this is on a par with his other ways of 
dealing with his opponents.

    Mr. Lillie's other sarcasms touch me very little, for I know 
their value. I may let them pass without any further notice. Some 
persons have an extraordinarily clever way of avoiding an 
embarrassing position by trying to place their antagonists in the 
same situation. For instance, Mr. Lillie could not answer the 
criticisms made on his Buddha and Early Buddhism in The Theosophist, 
nor has he ever attempted to do so. But he applied himself instead 
to collect every vile rumour and idle gossip about me, its editor. 
Why does he not show, to begin with, that his reviewer was wrong? 
Why does he not, by contradicting our statements, firmly establish 
his own authority as an Orientalist, showing first of all that he is 
a genuine scholar, who knows the subject he is talking about, before 
he allows himself to deny and contradict other people's statements 
in matters which he knows still less about? He does nothing of the 
kind, however ? not a word, not a mention of the scourging criticism 
that he is unable to refute. Instead of that, one finds the offended 
author trying to throw ridicule on his reviewers, probably so as to 
lessen the value of what they have to say of his own book. This is 
clever, very clever strategy ? whether it is equally honourable 
remains, withal, an open question.

    It might be difficult, after the conclusions reached by 
qualified scholars in India concerning his first book, to secure 
much attention in The Theosophist for his second, but if this volume 
in turn were examined with the care almost undeservedly devoted to 
the first, and if it were referred to the authority of such real 
Oriental scholars and Sanskritists as Mr. R. T. H. Griffith, for 
instance, I think it would be found that the aggregate blundering of 
the two books put together might excite even as much amusement as 
the singular complacency with which the author betrays himself to 
the public.

August 3, 1884
[From Light, 1884.] 
H. P. Blavatsky  

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