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Re: Theos-World Theosophical SOURCE Material: Part 1

Feb 28, 2009 12:40 PM
by Govert Schuller

Dear Daniel, 

I concur to a certain extent with Anand, in resisting, for different reasons, the tendency to absolutize or sacralize HPB and her teachings. 

First, HPB herself says that she is merely bringing together and systemizing what had already been given to the world in different traditions and teachers. She just added the string to hold together a beautiful bouquet of flowers. (This though might be applicable only to IU and not to the SD).

Second, on certain occasions HPB seems to construe Theosophy as an aid for those in other traditions and religions to attain a deeper, esoteric understanding of where they already are, and not to make the TS into something like a separate sect/religion that would compete with the others. (This would give some latitude to wiggle for the LCC crowd)  

Third, I'm not convinced that the source teachings are free from errors and intentional deceptions as admitted by HPB herself.

Fourth, HPB might have been deceptive, for whatever reason, about her admitted deceptions, thereby further complicating matters. (The Ramsgate issue might be case in point).

Fifth, I do not belief that HPB's understanding of the Master's teachings was firmly set by 1873 and did not go through new phases of understanding and deepening, or did not reflect the places she was working in. (Liljegren and others might see in IU Bulwerian-Egyptian occultism and in the Letters Oriental esotericism and in the SD Germanic obscurantism. They might turn that perception into a refutation of HPB, but for the same token it can be seen as a development within her own understanding)

Fifth, in case where HPB might differ from a later occult source, it's not an automatic given for me that she'd be right and the other wrong. And as we're not occultists ourselves it is very hard of course to determine. In most cases I'd give HPB the benefit of the doubt, but in other cases, where I personally have experienced my own set of transformative and enlightening gnostic insights based on other sources, I'll have to go with the other(s). (One example would be my experience of reading the Scott material on K, which triggered a wealth of latent insights, liberating feelings and transcendental connectedness. I might have fooled myself, but so far, it has survived different challenges and tests. This would then be part of my basis to go with Scott's critique rather than with the more pro-HPB reading of K as done by Pedro and Pablo Sender.)



  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: danielhcaldwell 
  Sent: Saturday, February 28, 2009 1:30 PM
  Subject: Theos-World Theosophical SOURCE Material: Part 1

  I would like to quote what Jerry H.E. wrote years ago on theos-l:

  "...we tried to promote a historically based general definition of 
  [Theosophical] source material that focuses upon the period before 
  the splits [in the Theosophical Society], when this material
  was being given out for the first time. Therefore, this period is 
  common history for everybody [i.e., for Theosophical students]".

  Notice Jerry's words:

  "...when this material was being given out for THE FIRST TIME". caps 

  It was H.P. Blavatsky who showed up on the public scene in late 1874 
  and 1875 in America and started the process of giving out the "source 
  material" which she said emanated from her Lodge, from her Masters. 

  In July, 1875, when she wrote her "first occult shot" Olcott knew 
  virtually nothing about the "source teachings" except what HPB had 
  started to give him. 

  Judge, Mavalankar, Sinnett, Subba Row, Chatterji, Holloway, 
  Leadbeater, Besant and others had not even meet HPB at this time! 

  Each in turn had a fateful day when they heard of and then met HPB. 

  She was the SOURCE, the channel through which each of them obtained 
  their initial knowledge and understanding of Theosophy and the 

  Sinnett himself readily admits this in one of his books "The Early 
  Days of Theosophy":

  "Madame Blavatsky is the CENTRAL FIGURE to be considered. She was THE 
  ONE PERSON who knew of her own knowledge, that The Brothers, - as she
  called them in those days - were Beings, human in aspect, of flesh
  and blood, for she had been for a time in company with two of them in
  Tibet. She knew they had dazzling powers in dealing with the affairs
  of the world. She herself had faculties of a super-physical order
  that kept her in touch with them wherever she might be. She knew she
  had a mission to fulfil which had for the moment assumed the shape of
  the Theosophical Society. She must have been conscious of possessing
  wonderful powers the exercise of which was under restriction, to
  which she submitted in devotion to the great Brother whom she
  regarded as her own Master, in a pre-eminent degree. .[page 17] caps 

  Relevant to keep in mind is what HPB herself wrote in 1877 in her 
  very first book ISIS UNVEILED. She told her readers about these 
  Adepts and her role in giving out the fundamentals of Theosophy as 

  ". . .we came into contact with certain men, endowed with such 
  mysterious powers and such profound knowledge that we may truly 
  designate them as the sages of the Orient. To their instructions we 
  lent a ready ear." p. vi 

  "The work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat 
  intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their 
  science." p. v 

  Moving on....

  And during the 16 and 1/2 years of her public work, HPB was 
  constantly giving out these "source teachings" of Theosophy. 

  And if, for example, William Judge or C.W. Leadbeater had never become
  a Theosophist, we would still have Theosophy as given by HPB in the 
  10,000 plus pages of her writings as well as all the extant letters 
  of the Masters.

  If Sinnett or Besant had never come into contact with HPB or if they 
  had become students of Theosophy but had never written a word on the
  subject, we would still have "the source teachings" as given through

  Historically speaking therefore, HPB was the SOURCE, i.e. "the point 
  at which something springs into being", for Theosophy as we know it 
  in modern times.

  HPB came FIRST; each of the individuals named above came LATER. 

  Now I am not saying that Olcott, Judge, Mavalankar, Sinnett, 
  Leadbeater Besant and others may not have made contributions to the 
  Theosophical work that HPB had originally started. They may have....

  But my point here is that they built on her original foundation, they 
  followed or tried to follow or at least said they tried to follow in 
  her footsteps.

  But had none of these individuals ever written any thing on 
  Theosophy, the "source teachings" as given by HPB would still be 

  Notice again that Jerry HE writes: "...we tried to promote a 
  historically based general definition of source material that focuses 
  upon the period BEFORE [caps added] the splits [occurred in the 
  Theosophical Society]....]

  When did the splits occur? One split that Jerry HE is probably 
  referring to is the serious split between Besant and Judge. 

  But there was a "split" as early as 1886 when A.P. Sinnett sought 
  communication with the Masters through a SOURCE other than HPB. 

  Originally Sinnett was put into contact VIA HPB with the Masters 
  through letters beginning in Oct. 1880. 

  But in 1884, he started to "resent" some of what the Masters were 
  telling him in their letters. And he began to have doubts about HPB 
  and sought in 1886 to gain access to the Masters through Maude 
  Trevers whom he hypnotised. 

  Actually Sinnett had tried this very same thing (hypnosis) in the 
  summer of 1884 with Laura Holloway.

  Sinnett's seeking for a source to the Masters OTHER THAN through HPB, 
  lead finally to that famous K.H. letter to Colonel Olcott in August, 
  1888. (See Letter 19 in "The Letters of the Masters of the 
  Wisdom*First Series".)

  Olcott, Judge, Mavalankar, Sinnett, Subba Row, Leadbeater, Besant AND 
  OTHERS may have made valuable contributions to Theosophy BUT whatever 
  they accomplished (or did not accomplish) was built upon the 
  foundation of "source teachings" FIRST given by H.P. Blavatsky.

  And when the serious split between Judge on one side and 
  Besant/Olcott on the other side started and culminated in 1893-1995, 
  BOTH SIDES claimed contact with the Masters and the deceased HPB. 
  Then the Theosophical Society was splintered. 

  Who was in the right and who was in the wrong is not easy to 

  But I have file folders of letters from serious Theosophy students 
  giving their differing views. Some believe Besant and Olcott fell by 
  the wayside and Judge remained faithful to the Masters. Others 
  believe Judge fell by the wayside as well as Olcott and Besant. 
  Others say Judge failed but Besant continued the orginal tradition. 
  etc. etc.

  On Theos-Talk in the last few years we have seen various 
  correspondents take different sides and views. Frank R., Anand G., 
  Dallas T., Nigel C. and others have voiced their differing views.
  Now Govert has posted some material giving even another view!

  I believe HPB foretold this split that occurred within a few years 
  after her death in her Letter to the Fifth Annual Convention of the 
  American Section of the T.S just before she died. See the very bottom 
  of p. 171, the full page 172 and ending on p. 173 of HPB's Collected 
  Writings, Vol. 13.

  Going back to what Jerry H.E. wrote: "Therefore, this period [before 
  the splits] is common history for everybody."

  I would amend this to read: 

  Therefore, this period BEFORE HPB died SHOULD BE common history for 

  Again summarising the above:

  HPB was the first to come on the public stage and give the source 
  teachings of Theosophy in 10,000 + pages of writings plus the letters 
  of the Masters given out during HPB's life. 

  The Theosophists I have mentioned above and others such as Tingley, 
  de Purucker, Bailey, etc. came on the scene sometime after HPB. They 
  may have all been sincere, truth seeking individuals and all may have 
  made to a greater or lesser degree various contributions (literary or 
  otherwise) to HPB's work, but especially after HPB's death, claims 
  and counter claims proliferated. 

  For a listing of more of the claims and counterclaims, see:

  But Theosophical students should have in HPB's claims and teachings a 
  COMMON SOURCE to focus on, regardless of the truth and validity of 
  the secondary "sources" and later claims of some of HPB's students or 
  later followers or claimants after HPB died.

  Now, I am not implying or saying that there were no contacts with the 
  Masters after HPB's death. After her death and even today other 
  agents MAY have come forth. That is, genuine contacts from HPB's 

  Unfortunately, you cannot get a room of serious Theosophy/Blavatsky 
  students from diverse Theosophical backgrounds to agree on who that 
  person or agent was or is!

  That is a fact that should make a reflective and thoughtful person 
  pause and ponder. 

  I suggest especially to new students and inquirers that they would be 
  wise to focus [at least initially] on the writings of HPB and the 
  letters of the Masters which from the perspective I have been 
  outlining above are the SOURCE Teachings of modern day Theosophy. 

  Here is a huge body of material that contains more than enough food 
  for thought for serious inquirers, seekers and new Theosophists.

  I will continue this line of thought in subsequent postings.

  Daniel Caldwell


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