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Re: Theosophical SOURCE Material: Part 1

Feb 28, 2009 06:48 PM
by danielhcaldwell

Dear Govert, 

You write:

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

If you have read into what I wrote anything suggesting a "tendency
to absolutize or sacralize HPB and her teachings," then you are 
reading into my words something that I was not suggesting.

First of all, I was approaching her writings from a historical 
perspective and from the point of view that she was the first to 
write about the Masters.

See her own words in her first major book published 1877:

". . .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

None of the other individuals in my last posting were making any
such claims at this point in time:  1877.

My basic approach can be found in the following words as found on our

Unfortunately, far too many readers don't take the necessary time and 
effort to try to understand what H.P.B. is attempting to convey in 
her many writings.  

And far too often, students interject their own thoughts and 
understanding into the subject matter.  Nothing is inherently wrong 
with that approach but it is suggested that a student might try to 
ascertain first of all what H.P.B.'s and the Mahatmas' views actually 
are on various subjects. 

As a reader studies the material, he might constantly ask 
himself: "Do I really understand what H.P.B. and the Mahatmas are 
trying to convey?" 

The advice of one student is as follows: Give H.P.B. and the Mahatmas 
the lectern and allow them to speak. The initial goal should be to 
try to "listen" to them and to try to understand their view and their 
take on the subject. 

None of the above should lead one to assume that H.P.B. and the 
Masters are always right or anything like that. H.P.B. and her 
Teachers never claimed they were infallible. But at the same time 
many serious students of these original writings have reasonably 
concluded that H.P.B. and her Teachers were very knowledgeable on a 
wide range of subjects and also had wise and insightful comments on 
many of the mysteries and problems of life. 

Or as Doss McDavid clearly states:

"Should we take H.P.B. as an infallible authority? . . . Absolutely 
not. . . . But there is another side to the question.  We have to 
remember that the modern Theosophical movement owes its very 
existence to H.P.B. and the Masters, whose faithful agent she claimed 
to be. It would be extremely unwise to reject the teachings given 
through her WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING what those teachings REALLY were in 
the first place. And how can we acquire this understanding if we do 
not study her writings? We don't have to blindly accept what she says 
or take her views as the last word, but at least we should become 
familiar with those views firsthand....."

Or as I often say it:

Study HPB's writings.  Don't read and study them to blindly accept 
them or blindly deny them.  Don't read and study them to agree or 
disagree.  First study them to UNDERSTAND them. If at some later 
date, one decides to believe or disbelieve in this or that doctrine 
as given by Madame Blavatsky, then fine and good.

Try to grasp the teaching to the best of your ability without 
filtering them thru your own opinions and without relying on what 
some later commentator or claimant said or didn't say.  Try to 
understand the teachings on Blavatsky's own terms.

You write:

"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 

Govert, although she more or less says what you write above, she also 
writes that she is also transmitting the teachings of her Masters.

Even in the quote above from the very first pages of ISIS 
she writes:

". . .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

Notice what I have put in CAPS.

And at the beginning of THE SECRET DOCTRINE, she plainedly states:

"The sole advantage which the writer has over her predecessors, is 
that she need not resort to personal speculations and theories. For 
this work is a partial statement of what she herself has been taught 
by more advanced students, supplemented, in a few details only, by 
the results of her own study and observation."

More relavant quotes could be given.

So in fact she is doing more than what you are suggesting when you 

"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 may indeed be doing what you say but she is also transmitting the 
specific teachings of her teachers and of their brotherhood.

You write:

"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 

Nothing I have written would suggest that HPB may not indeed being 
doing what you say in this paragraph.

And indeed this may give wiggle room for the LCC crowd.  You will 
have to clarify what you mean by this since at this stage I can only 

Again you write:

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

Nor have I written anywhere that I know that "the source teachings 
are free from errors."  

Does HPB and her Teachers suggest that?

But if one says there are errors then one should state exactly
what they are and how one knows that they are errors.  And what better
source is there with more reliable teachings?

Furthermore, is any text completely free from errors?

To talk about this in the abstract serves little purpose.  Details 
and specific examples are what is needed. 
Again you write:

"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). "

But then she might not have been deceptive.  

Maybe one simply does not have enough information and evidence at 
one's disposal to make an informed opinion.  If by chance one could 
discover more evidence and information then the apparent deception 
might turn out not to be so.

Again without examples, without details and specifics then to talk 
about this serves little purpose.

Again, you tell us:

"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)."

I would suggest that one would need to carefully study HPB's writings 
in their  chronological order and be sure one understands them before 
one makes  the assertion given in your first sentence of this last 
Furthermore, Koot Hoomi in the Mahatma Letters says that there was a 
progressive unveiling of the teaching and gives examples from ISIS to 
illustrate his point.  

It was not that HPB had a new phase of understanding but that the 
Masters progressively unveiled the teachings.  

This is not to say that HPB herself could not have had a progressive 
understanding of what the Masters taught her.
Again I repeat:  to talk about this in the abstract without specific 
examples, evidence, etc. does little to advance our understanding.

As to Liljegren's book, I remember first reading it in the 1970s and 
even then in my studies I could see where he was mistaken in various 

One needs to verify at every stage whether a particualar author is 
correct in what he states and asserts.

For example, in the NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, 1967 ed., the author
of the article on Theosophy states (I'm paraphrasing here) that HPB 
claimed to be in contact with two DEAD Tibetan Mahatmas!!!

Just because a writer states something doesn't mean it is true!!!!!

Or the biographer Marion Meade in her HPB study writes as sober fact:

"In all, about nine or ten persons testified to having seen the 
Mahatmas: Annie Besant, Henry Olcott, Damodar Mavalankar, Isabel 
Cooper-Oakley, William Brown, Nadyezhda Fadeyev, S.R. Ramaswamier, 
Justine Glinka and Vsevolod Solovyov. Franz Hartmann said that while 
he never actually saw them, he felt their presence." (p. 497.)
She doesn't know what she is talking about!!!

I have notebooks with hundreds and hundreds of examples of such 
lax scholarship.....

Liljegren's book is worth reading and studying but one should 
carefully check  and verify each and every assertion.

And your last paragraph:

"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.) "

Yes I agree with your first sentence.  But usually students don't 
even know enough to be aware of such differences in the first place!!!

The proper thing to do is to study what Blavatsky originally wrote 
and taught and then once you understand that, then study what the 
later writer  asserts and then try to understand the underlying 
reasoning and idea  under both presentations.

Whether one can determine who is right or wrong, will depend on what 
else you may or may not know. 
And if one is comparing a Blavatsky teaching with let us say a 
Leadbeater teaching, then it might also be useful and wise to explore 
what Judge wrote about this or Purucker or Bailey, etc. etc

Remember Leadbeater was not the only LATER writer to give out 

And in fact one might be wise to also compare all these writers 
including Blavatsky with other sources of information not distinctly 
labelled Theosophical.

This may all be a big job to undertake but who said truth is always 
easy to find!!!????

The above is just a few of my thoughts as jotted down.  There is much 
more that could and should be addressed.

But I thank you for your thoughts and hope we can explore more deeply 
these topics.

Who knows maybe all of us will learn something new or have new 


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