Re: To Govert: Part 3: Theosophical SOURCE Material
Apr 15, 2009 09:23 AM
The student of HPB's writings is very much aware of HPB's method of stating the Esoteric Teaching and then illustrating it with multiple quotes from various writers and books that were available in her time.
Look at ISIS UNVEILED, THE SECRET DOCTRINE and much of her voluminous articles, she is constantly quoting from various works. Her works in fact teem with footnotes to this book and that book --- hundreds of them!!!
She herself writes in the preface to THE SECRET DOCTRINE about what she was trying to do:
These truths are in no sense put forward as a revelation; nor does the author claim the position of a revealer of mystic lore, now made public for the first time in the world's history. For what is contained in this work is to be found scattered throughout thousands of volumes embodying the scriptures of the great Asiatic and early European religions, hidden under glyph and symbol, and hitherto left unnoticed because of this veil. What is now attempted is to gather the oldest tenets together and to make of them one harmonious and unbroken whole. 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. The publication of many of the facts herein stated has been rendered necessary by the wild and fanciful speculations in which many Theosophists and students of mysticism have indulged, during the last few years, in their endeavour to, as they imagined, work out a complete system of thought from the few facts previously communicated to them.
It is needless to explain that this book is not the Secret Doctrine in its entirety, but a select number of fragments of its fundamental tenets, special attention being paid to some facts which have been seized upon by various writers, and distorted out of all resemblance to the truth.
But it is perhaps desirable to state unequivocally that the teachings, however fragmentary and incomplete, contained in these volumes, belong neither to the Hindu, the Zoroastrian, the Chaldean, nor the Egyptian religion, neither to Buddhism, Islam, Judaism nor Christianity exclusively. The Secret Doctrine is the essence of all these. Sprung from it in their origins, the various religious schemes are now made to merge back into their original element, out of which every mystery and dogma has grown, developed, and become materialised.
And consider the above in relation to what follows. In April, 1891, H.P.B. wrote:
. . . every word of [esoteric] information found in this work [Isis Unveiled] or in my later writings, comes from the teachings of our Eastern Masters; and . . . many a passage in these works has been written by me under their dictation. In saying this no supernatural claim is urged, for no miracle is performed by such a dictation. . . . Space and distance do not exist for thought; and if two persons are in perfect mutual psycho-magnetic rapport, and of these two, one is a great Adept in Occult Sciences, then thought-transference and dictation of whole pages, become as easy and as comprehensible at the distance of ten thousand miles as the transference of two words across a room. . . .
"My Books," Lucifer, May, 1891
Therefore if anyone accepts even tentativly HPB's claims then it seems one would be "wise" to carefully read and study her writings and teachings.
But in fact many Theosophical students either ignore her writings or skim a few of her works and then move on to other material.
But of course that is their decision and choice.
And I can do no better than quote the common sense advice of William Doss McDavid, author of "Introduction to Esoteric Principles":
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. Then we can reject or accept intelligently. When the works of other and later writers who claim to be continuing the work begun by H.P.B. present viewpoints and 'revelations' which are at direct variance with the original lines of teaching, we may feel justified in questioning the source of the newer pronouncements. A familiarity with the original writings, therefore, provides a criterion for intelligent judgment.
What is wrong with McDavid's approach? It makes alot of sense.
Other relevant material to this posting can be found at:
Enough for now.
--- In email@example.com, "Govert Schuller" <schuller@...> wrote:
> Dear Daniel,
> I do belief that HPB came out with a lot of original material, that could be called 'source material' for Theosophy.
> But that's merely a belief as I have not studied all the source material which she herself had around while writing. For example whatever I have read of and about Higgin's Anacalypsis just sounds very familiar and similar to Isis Unveiled.
> And then there are little bits of her writings that I tried to check and found her inaccurate--about which later more.
> And quoting Jerry and Sinnett doesn't amount to much either for me.
> So, probably we'll just have to chip away at HPB to see what is really original and what not, and what is true and what not.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: danielhcaldwell
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 9:32 AM
> Subject: Theos-World To Govert: Part 3: Theosophical SOURCE Material
> 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.
> 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.
> Daniel Caldwell
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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