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Rich Taylor on Blavatsky's Use of Schlagintweit's Book

May 16, 2009 11:44 PM
by danielhcaldwell

In an online paper titled "Blavatsky and Buddhism", Richard P. Taylor makes the following statement:

In many places, and on many occasions, Blavatsky's work contains the ideas, and sometimes even the exact words, of previously published Western-language sources on Buddhism, without acknowledgement.

And a little later:

....quite frequently the work of another writer appears within the main text and footnotes of Blavatsky's writing without any acknowledgement whatsoever, and this can carry on for a number of pages in a row without once mentioning the author she is actually quoting. Sometimes this appropriation involves critical Buddhist teaching, which in the absence of quotation marks, citations or references to the author, would appear to be intended as Buddhist teachings emanating directly from Blavatsky or her teachers. For considerations of space we will examine only Blavatsky's relationship with The Buddhism of Tibet by Emil Schlagintweit (1863)....

At this point Taylor gives a number of detailed examples from Schlagintweit's book.

In one example, Taylor concludes:

Importantly, HPB has altered Schlagintweit's text, especially the correspondences in the three realms-but there is no question that overall she HAS LIFTED this passage from his book originally. Nota bene Blavatsky's footnote, where she CLAIMS TO BE GIVING OUT statements from the SECRET portions of the Kålachakra Tantra. HOWEVER, HPB's statements are MERELY REPHRASINGS of Schlagintweit, taken from his chapter on Kålachakra....
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Then at the end of the section, Taylor summarizes:

I merely state here the objective fact that Blavatsky's writings contain the words and ideas of other Western writers, UNACKNOWLEDGED, and that these appropriations sometimes are MADE TO APPEAR as emanating from a hidden or occult source like Tibetan Buddhist Tantras.
caps added

The paper by Taylor can be found online at:

and the specific section of his paper that I have been quoting from is at:

Comments welcomed.


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