THEOSOPHY, Vol. 9, No. 6, April, 1921
(Pages 162-175; Size: 43K)
(Number 16 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
WE have now to turn from the external aspects of the struggle of contending forces accompanying the progress of the Theosophical Movement, as exemplified in the Coues-Collins' storm, and regard the arena from another point of view altogether -- the issues as personified in H.P.B., Mr. Judge and Col. Olcott, who, as we have said, represented in their own persons the three Sections of that Movement, exoteric and esoteric.
In the first decade of the Movement, as manifested in the exoteric Theosophical Society, the work of the three Founders was concordant and coherent. The Society grew rapidly in numbers and influence and became firmly established in America, Europe and India. Minor opposition attended its course from external antagonistic factors and numerous internal disturbances arose, but none of these was of serious moment, because no dissensions existed between the Founders. Enemies without and trouble-makers within could find "nothing whereon to stand" as a fulcrum. The first breach in the solidarity of the Founders was effected in the year 1881. It did not become a matter of public knowledge until 1895, and consideration of it must be deferred until we reach the events of that period, but the fact should be noted in seeking to understand the origins of the successive phases of the Movement. The student will do well to note two continuous cycles in the progress of the Movement, one of seven years' duration and the other of ten. The former is the cycle of the Second Section, the latter that of the exoteric Society. They run concurrently, and they intersect at the third turn of the one and the second revolution of the other. Counting from 1874 -- the date of the conjunction of the three Founders -- we have the cyclic dates, 1881, 1888, 1895. Counting from 1875, the date of the foundation of the Society, we have 1885 and 1895. These dates, with their "twilight zones" at the periods of culmination and recommencement of the cycles, mark the epochal developments of the Theosophical Movement of the nineteenth century, exoterically and esoterically.
Public reference was made to the existence of the inner Sections of the Movement at the close of the first seven years' cycle, and from then on more and more frequent allusions to the Second Section, its superior importance, its rules and discipline, its guardianship of the exoteric work, its provisions for the more earnest and worthy members of the "Third Section" or Theosophical Society proper, may be found in public print. Finally, at the close of the second cycle of seven years, a definite, formal, public announcement was made of the formation of the "Esoteric Section" of the T.S., as a probationary degree of the Second Section of the Theosophical Movement. And, under the protection of the "pledge" and the seal of confidence, information was given to all applicants of the real purpose of the Movement, the real status of the Society, the real objects of the invisible Founders --the Masters of Wisdom.
The close of the first ten years' cycle was marked, exoterically, by the Coulomb charges and the Report of the Society for Psychical Research. Esoterically, both these were made possible and enabled to achieve an immense damage to the Movement, through the hidden rupture between the three Sections of the Movement, the First and Second Sections on the one hand, the Third Section on the other; between the esoteric side of the Movement as personified in H.P.B., Mr. Judge and Damodar, and the exoteric, as personified by Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett, and the Hindu Council. At the time, the only public signs of this breach were the failure to defend H.P.B. as strenuously as she was attacked, her resignation and departure from India and from active connection with the Society, the public and private disclaimers of Col. Olcott and others of any reliance of their own or of the Society on the assumed occult status or phenomenal powers of H.P.B., their assertion of the ability and necessity of the Society to stand on its own merits as a non-sectarian association with objects and purposes of its own, and apart from H. P. Blavatsky as the direct Agent of the Masters, apart from her paramount status as the connecting link between those Masters and the Society, apart from her teachings of Theosophy as the authoritative exposition of the Wisdom-Religion.
What was the secret of this change of front on the part of Col. Olcott and others high in the affairs of the Society? This also did not become public till many years later, and full consideration must be deferred until that time is reached, but the fact must be grasped, for it is the key to the succeeding events. The plain fact is that Col. Olcott and others prominent in the Society had reached the conviction that H.P.B. could not be wholly trusted; that she was irresponsible, producing at one time genuine phenomena, at another, spurious; delivering at one time veritable Messages from the Masters, at another, bogus communications in Their names. They were convinced that H.P.B. was a medium, and Col. Olcott's view of mediumship, as expressed by himself in "The Theosophist" for January, 1889, page 209, was that mediums are "irresponsible in proportion to the genuineness of their Mediumship, since they are unable to discriminate and select good influences from bad, and are thus, being necessarily passive, completely at the mercy of the psychic influences of their séance-room." Having this perfectly sound view of the nature of mediumship from a life-long experimenting with mediums, and profoundly convinced that H.P.B. was a medium, it necessarily followed that Col. Olcott and his associates found themselves compelled to exercise their own discrimination in determining which was genuine and which was false in the phenomena and the messages of H.P.B. Of this discrimination of their own they never had any doubts. They believed in the existence of Masters, they had no doubt that their apprehension of the nature and powers of Masters was as correct and exact as their apprehension of the nature and powers of H.P.B., consequently they could only attribute to the Masters the same attitude toward H.P.B. as their own -- that she was a useful and valuable instrument to the Cause and to the Society under proper checks and safe-guards -- and those checks and safe-guards they were abundantly willing to provide on their side and in their relations with H.P.B., as they assumed the Masters were exercising in Their relations with her. Although they had abundant warnings, both from the teachings of Theosophy and from messages received by them directly from the Masters, that their views of H.P.B. were erroneous in fact and illogical in principle, and although not one of them himself had, or professed to have, any occult powers of his own, any occult means of discrimination, any ability to direct communication of his own with Masters, nevertheless their fundamentally false view of the nature of H.P.B. compelled them, little by little, to take a divergent path. In the beginning, doubts; next, private dissent and dissimulation; then a middle ground, public temporizing and secret plotting; finally, open repudiation of her occult status and authoritative standing in the Society, in the Movement, in Theosophy.
The stage of dissent and dissimulation was reached and practiced in 1884 and the following years. Compelled by their involvement with her in the affairs of the Society and their joint sponsorship for the numerous miraculous events attributed to the course of its history, a luke-warm support was publicly given to H.P.B., while in private a determined effort was made to suppress and "control" her in the common interest. During these years W. Stainton Moses ("M.A. Oxon"), C. C. Massey, A. O. Hume, V. V. Solovyoff, W. T. Brown, Mrs. Josephine Cables, Mohini M. Chatterji, Subba Row, Mr. Cooper-Oakley, and numerous others, both members of the Society and probationers of the Second Section, succumbed to inner and outer influences and left the Society, but Col. Olcott, Mr. Sinnett and many others continued with the Society and its work, because, however much they doubted H.P.B., they were none the less convinced of the existence of the Masters and the value of the Society in the work of the Movement, provided only that they could themselves direct and control its destinies. Followed Col. Olcott's private but violent opposition to the formation of the "Esoteric Section," and to the lines of direction that H.P.B. and Mr. Judge were attempting to lay and energize within the Society by the establishment of the "Esoteric Section" and by their magazines, "The Path" and "Lucifer."
The cleavage at this time went almost to the verge of the establishment by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge of a new Society composed of those Western Theosophists who would remain true to the original impetus and its lines, and would have so resulted had not Col. Olcott and those associated with his views modified their conduct. Concerned not at all with or over Col. Olcott's or any one's opinions in regard to themselves, but intent only on the Cause itself, H.P.B. and W.Q.J. used every effort to encourage to sustain, to uphold him and others in their devotion and their place in the Society, so long as work was done and a possibility remained to keep the three lines of the Movement intact, coherent, and in proper relation. Nothing was omitted that might assuage the several vanities, jealousies, ambitions and fears of Col. Olcott and his co-workers, everything possible was done to convince them that place, power, authority and dominion were not sought by H.P.B.
Then came the Coues-Collins attempt to destroy where it could not supplant, to ruin where it could not rule. There can be no doubt, we think, that Dr. Coues counted that if he led the assault he would be supported openly by Col. Olcott and others prominent within the Society, and for this he had what to him were sound reasons, as has been indicated. Backed by his own prestige with the general public and that of Olcott and others with the Society's membership, knowing the general discredit heaped upon H.P.B. by the S.P.R. Report, knowing well the private opinions of Olcott, Sinnett and others in regard to her, what more natural than that he should consider his forces more than ample to so utterly crush the reputation of H.P.B. that she would be permanently eliminated as a factor in the Society, which could then be reorganized and rebuilt on lines agreeable to himself and his own ambitions, with himself as its bright particular star in the west. As able and astute as he was without conscience or honor, he was a fit and chosen instrument for jesuitry. His plan of subornation succeeded perfectly with Mabel Collins, but his master-stroke failed with Col. Olcott. This he could not know in advance, but his knowledge of conditions and the progress of his correspondence with the President-Founder gave him every reason to believe that the disaffection so artfully fanned would burst to flame in open treason when the battle should be joined. He reckoned without his host in the final issue, but how nearly he succeeded is indicated by the letter to him from Col. Olcott which we have given, and by the course pursued by the President-Founder during all that stormy period -- a course which we have now to trace.
That course was one designed to aid and abet the battle being waged to destroy the moral reputation and occult status of H.P.B. and her chief defender, Mr. Judge, so far as that could be achieved without imperiling the Society and his own importance in it to the point of irretrievable disaster. Col. Olcott was willing to go thus far in order to upset the paramount unofficial influence of H.P.B. and her Colleague, and reduce them to what he considered their proper place and subordination in the ranks, and at the same time enhance and render secure his own position and power as the recognized "Official Head" of the Society. In all this Col. Olcott was honest and sincere. It was but the logical development of his own basic misconception and misunderstanding of Masters, Their Movement and Their Society -- all alike menaced by the "irresponsible" and "unconstitutional" procedure of H.P.B. However mistaken or misguided his views, however himself "completely at the mercy of the psychic influences" which he was convinced made H.P.B. at times unsafe and unreliable, he was absolutely honest and devoted to what he conceived to be the best interests of the Society. It was precisely this honesty and devotion to the Society, however inconsistent and illogical his mind might be, that H.P.B. recognized and worked upon and with, and that Dr. Coues failed utterly to reckon with.
Negatively, Colonel Olcott's state of mind is attested by his total failure to align himself with his Colleagues while they were being sorely beset by traitors within and by enemies without. As in 1884-5 and again in 1886-7, his sole thought was for the Society and himself -- for the Society as personified in himself. Its troubles and his troubles were, in his opinion, not due to any falling away from its Objects, any mistakes or misunderstandings of his own, but to the wrong and perverse actions of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. They had gotten the Society, themselves and himself into serious difficulties in spite of his best efforts to prevent. Very well; it was for them to extricate and clear themselves if they could, and in so doing learn a needed lesson. That was their affair, not his. His duty was to protect the Society and himself as its responsible Head and guardian, at all hazards and from all hazards; and the chief of these hazards was the "friction of strong personalities," due to the "unauthorized" and "irregular" actions of H.P.B. and W.Q.J., as opposed to his own "official" procedure.
Affirmatively, Col. Olcott's predominating attitude is evidenced (a) by the record made by himself and his intimates at the time; (b) by his own disclosures made many years afterward; (c) by the record made by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. From all these the student can piece together the pattern which shows the workings of consciousness of the three Founders during the storm of 1889-90.
"Old Diary Leaves, Fourth Series," to which we shall have to refer, was published in book form after the death of Col. Olcott, and contains many omissions of the text as originally printed in "The Theosophist," Volumes XXI and XXII, ten years after the events discussed therein. Our quotations, therefore, should be verified by reference to the original text.
Volume XXI, page 199, Col. Olcott describes the situation just prior to his visit to Europe in 1888, which we have already covered in a former Chapter. He puts it thus:
"Portents of a coming storm in our European groups, stirred up or intensified by H.P.B., begin to show themselves, and Judge complains of our neglecting him. Just then Dr. Coues was working hard for the notoriety he craved and Judge was opposing him."
Of Col. Olcott's correspondence with and his comments on H.P.B. during this period we have already treated -- all as disclosed by himself. What her prevision and methods were with regards to coming events has also been shown. We have now to observe the same in Mr. Judge, as disclosed by Col. Olcott, and as publicly put on record by Mr. Judge. Following the above quotation, "Old Diary Leaves" gives extracts from private letters written by Mr. Judge to Col. Olcott, as follows:
May 21, 1888: "I am always striving to keep your name at the top, for until your death you must be at the head."
June 8, 1888: "Certain matters are occurring here which need attention and action.... His [Coues] policy is to place himself at the head of some wonderful unknown thing through which (save the mark!) communications are alleged to come from Masters. He also in a large sense wishes to pull the T.S. away from your jurisdiction and make himself the Grand Mogul of it in this country. ... I know that ... policy is to retain complete control in you, and my desire is to keep the American Section as a dependency of the General Council in India; hence you are the President. It was never my intention to dissever, but to bind, and the form of our Constitution clearly shows that. That's why no President is elected or permitted here. ... So I would recommend that you call the Council and consider our Constitution, which ought long ago to have been done -- and decide that we are in affiliation and subordination to India and that we are recognized as part of the General Council, with power to have a Secretary as an (official) channel, but not to have a yearly President but only a Chairman at each Convention. ... I cannot work this thing here properly without your co-operation."
June 15, 1888: "Until you two die it is folly for others to whistle against the wind. Masters and Federation!"
Few students have noted that in the letter of June 8, 1888, Mr. Judge pre-stated and took exactly the same position that the Master K.H. specified to Col. Olcott in the phenomenal letter dropped in his cabin on board the "Shannon" two months later, and that the actions of both Mr. Judge and H.P.B. were in most strict accord with the position laid down in the Master's letter -- a position Col. Olcott was constantly violating so far as it regarded H.P.B. and her "emergent interference in practical affairs."
Col. Olcott's comments on Mr. Judge's letters show that in January, 1900, when he was writing, he as totally misconceived them, as at the time of their reception in 1888; that he saw in them nothing but "the building up of a new structure of falsehood, fraud and treachery in which to house new idols. ... Alas! poor Judge." To which the student of the mysteries of the Theosophical Movement may well add, Alas! poor Olcott.
Followed Col. Olcott's visit to England and his "pitched battle with H.P.B." over the various matters at issue -- the trouble in the Paris Branch, the Charter of the Blavatsky Lodge, the formation of the "British Section" of the T.S., on the model of the previously formed American Section, and the formation of the "Esoteric Section." In all these matters at stake, as well as Cooper Oakley's severance from the editorial staff of "The Theosophist," Col. Olcott yielded, partly under the influence of his renewed association with H.P.B., partly under the influence of the Master's letter, partly because he saw that he had come to the parting of the ways. Mr. Judge came over to England and the three Founders became once more, for the time being, apparently of one aim, purpose and feeling. To strengthen and maintain this bond after their separation and return, each to his own field of labor, H.P.B. and Mr. Judge arranged that Delegates from the American and British Section should go with Col. Olcott to Adyar and represent those Sections at the forth-coming "parliament" or Convention of the Society in India.
Richard Harte, a former New York newspaper man, an old time personal friend of Col. Olcott, who had been a member of the Society since 1878, was then in London and had acquired considerable reputation among Theosophists as the alleged writer of the famous editorial in "Lucifer" for December, 1887, entitled "Lucifer to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Greeting!" Him, Col. Olcott selected for his editorial associate on "The Theosophist." Thereupon Mr. Judge arranged with the Executive Committee of the American Council to have Mr. Harte act as Delegate for the American Section and to give Mr. Harte instructions to represent to the Indian Convention that the American Section favored the restoration to Col. Olcott of the powers and authority vested in the Indian Council early in 1885, as noted in a former Chapter. Mr. Charles Johnston, long a resident of India, was similarly chosen as Delegate of the British Section.
Col. Olcott returned to India late in the fall of 1888. Volume XXI, pages 322 and 323, gives his reminiscences of the month preceding the convention. He says:
"The Executive Council met as usual, on the following Sunday [after his return], and passed resolutions thoroughly approving of my doings in Europe....
"At a Council meeting [in December], a resolution was unanimously passed to convert itself into an Advisory body and restore to me the full executive powers which, in 1885, I had consented to have curtailed, to satisfy some who thought it would be better to have several bosses instead of one. The thing did not work well enough to continue it, and all my colleagues were but too glad to re-shift the responsibility to my shoulders rather than keep it themselves. It was all the same to me, for even during the intervals I virtually had to do all the work, and the Council meetings grew more and more perfunctory -- as Council meetings usually do, when there is some leader who may be counted on to pull the stroke-oar and get the boat on the straight course when cross winds blow."
The same pages contain Col. Olcott's comments on two other matters which were to come before the Convention. Of the first of these he says:
"Tranquil days of work and pleasant conversation followed, but before long I began to see signs of discontent spreading to some extent among certain few Branches, the result of underhand schemings by one or two malcontents, who were unfriendly to H.P.B. This passed off in time, although a desperate attempt was made at that year's Convention to make trouble for me. The Bombay Branch sent me, on November 30th, a resolution recommending that T. Subba Row, who had resigned, be asked to come back to us, but I have positively refused to lower the Society's dignity in any similar case, however influential might be the seceder."
The other matter mentioned, which also includes the preceding, is described as follows:
"The Convention Delegates began arriving on the 24th of December. On Christmas Day I got a foolish cablegram from H.P.B., threatening the resignation of herself and the entire Blavatsky Lodge should Cooper Oakley be re-admitted to membership; the act showing the state of nervous excitement into which the Subba Row imbroglio had thrown her. She used the name of the Blavatsky Lodge and of certain of its members so often in her letters, as condemning me utterly and backing her views unreservedly, that it became at last tiresome. Considering our personal relations, the identity of our ages, and our joint relationship to our Guru, it seemed to me ridiculous that the dicta of a group of junior colleagues, however warm partisans of hers, should influence me to act against my own judgment in questions of management. I wrote her at last that if she sent me any more round robins or protests from the same quarter I should neither read nor answer her letters: our affairs must be settled between ourselves without the interference of third parties. Answering me, she admitted the correctness of my argument and the exasperating documents ceased to arrive."
Theosophical students generally have never gone to the labor necessary in checking Col. Olcott's very numerous mis-statements of fact and his very frequent contradictions in comments, opinions and actions, but have accepted his testimony and his conclusions alike as accurate and just. The matters just quoted are a case in point. The fact is very plain from his other statements earlier referred to that he himself was the chief "malcontent," for it was "The Theosophist" which was under his control that precipitated the "Subba Row imbroglio" by publishing the criticisms on the "seven-fold classification of principles." It was himself who supported Cooper Oakley, its editor, to the very point of a rupture with H.P.B. It was himself, in absolute control both of the Council and the Indian Convention, which favored the invitation not to Subba Row only, but to Cooper Oakley and others, "to come back to us." It was himself who had the affair all staged to become a fait accompli before H.P.B. should hear of it, and only her prompt and decisive cablegram to him two days before the Convention convened, upset the cut-and-dried program. The matter had already gone so far that it could not be kept out of the proceedings of the Convention, but her cablegram once more convinced Olcott that he had gone too far. The Convention Report, carefully prepared and edited by Richard Harte to conform to the exigencies of Col. Olcott's course in this and the other actions taken by the Convention, reads as follows:
"SECOND DAY, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1888.
"The President called on the Secretary to read a resolution of the Bombay Branch, to the effect that the President should urge upon certain ex-Fellows to resume their connection with the Society, and which he, the President, had been particularly requested to lay before the Convention. A debate ensued, in which the unanimous opinion was expressed that such a step would be incompatible with the dignity of the Society. Thereupon Mr. Harte moved, ------- seconded, and ------- ------- supported a motion that the document and the whole subject should be laid upon the table, which was carried unanimously."
This was the "desperate attempt at that year's Convention to make trouble for me" over the "Subba Row imbroglio" that Col. Olcott's reminiscences so graphically and so inaccurately portray and comment upon.
Mr. Harte and Mr. Johnston duly expressed to the Convention the authorized wish of their respective Sections that the executive powers of the President should be restored to him by formal action of the Convention. According to the Report, Mr. Johnston went further and stated on behalf of the British Section: "It was further their opinion that Fees and Dues should be abolished, and the Society be placed upon a basis of voluntary support. As the President had intimated that he intended to place him [Mr. Johnston] on the Committee for the amendment of the Rules, he would not make any further remarks at present." As the Report follows immediately with a copy of the Rules of the British Section and those Rules provided explicitly both for fees for the support of the Section and for contributions to the Society, it is evident (a) that Mr. Johnston either was not correctly reported in his remarks, or (b) that he exceeded his instructions and authority from the newly organized British Section. A later page of the Report (42) contains the statement as the conclusion of the "Report of the Executive Council":
"Resolutions were also adopted to submit for favorable consideration suggestions made by the American and British Sections for the abolition of Entrance Fees and Annual Dues, and for the reorganization of the whole Society upon a basis of Sectional Divisions with an autonomous character, but dependent and subject to the supervision and executive control of the President in Council, as representative of the collective autonomy of the whole Society. The Council is of opinion that radical changes in the Rules are needed, and recommend that the whole subject be referred to a Committee on Rules with instructions to report an amended Code to the present Convention, for its approval."
No one, we think, after reading the extracts just given from "Old Diary Leaves" can doubt that the "Executive Council" was merely Col. Olcott under a convenient cloak. A long set of "Revised Rules" was immediately presented to the Convention and the Report says:
"The Rules, as read out one by one by the Secretary, were debated by Sections, amended, and voted upon. The President was empowered, on motion of Mr. S. Ramaswamier ... to edit the text, and make necessary corrections therein before sending it to the printer."
The nine pages of the Report immediately following the official proceedings are devoted to elaborate "Introductory Explanations" of the "Revised Rules," which, upon examination, will be found to be in fact an entirely new Constitution.
We may now turn to the official Report of the democratic American Section held at Chicago in April following, and to the report of Mr. Judge as General Secretary to that Convention on the matters just considered. Mr. Judge there says:
"My Report for this year has to deal with the progress of the Society's work since our last Convention, and certain changes which have been made by the Convention in India in last December. I propose to consider the last first.
"The Secretary in charge in India has already sent to most of the Branches a copy of the 'Revised Rules.' By reading those, together with the Report of the Convention held there, it will be seen that apparently the purpose to revise the rules and abolish fees and dues was proposed by the American and English Sections, acting through their Delegates, Mr. Richard Harte and Mr. Charles Johnston. Mr. Harte was delegated by the Executive Committee, at the time he left London for India, to represent the American Section at that Convention, but, at the same time, written instructions were given him, very definitely stating that all that the American Section required him to do was to endeavor to restore to Col. Olcott the powers which he had voluntarily given up at a previous date, and those were stated to be the only changes which he should say we were in favor of. It was not then thought that any proposal to abolish fees and dues would be made, and, as Mr. Harte was himself present in New York when our Constitution governing the American Section was passed, and knew our policy in carrying on the work here, it never for a moment occurred to the Executive Committee that it was necessary to say any more than we had said, and as our Constitution declared our autonomy which had been granted prior to the passage of the Constitution, and which has since been affirmed in the Convention in India, even if we had been told in advance what was proposed to be done, we should have thought it to be impossible, as well as injudicious.
"The 'Revised Rules' also amend the 'objects' of the Society by altering them and adding to them, and, in a paper published in the succeeding issue of the 'Theosophist' signed 'F.T.S.' an attempt is made to show that the 'objects have never been definitely formulated.' This article is full of misconceptions, and, therefore, of wrong conclusions, because the gentleman who wrote it was not acquainted with the facts nor in possession of the Records. He refers to the printed 'Rules' of each year, and says that in 1882 for the first time they appeared as they were printed last year, but on looking over my records I find, not only that they have always been the same -- except in minor elaborations not affecting the substance, -- but that they were originally formulated in the shape they appeared before the last Convention in India, at the time that this Society was organized in 1875.
"... These alterations seem to be injudicious. I therefore suggest to the Convention that a Resolution be passed dissenting from the advisability of these alterations and requesting a restoration, if possible, to the old form.
"In the second place, all dues and fees are attempted to be abolished, and the source of revenue for expenses made to depend on voluntary contributions.
"You will note that these 'Revised Rules' reaffirm the autonomy we claimed in 1886 which was subsequently ratified. There is no inconsistency in our declaring autonomy in respect to the internal affairs of the Section and, at the same time, our allegiance to cause and to the Society as a whole.
"I am authorized by Mme. Blavatsky to say that she is not in favor of the change, and the majority of the British Section also disagree with it, and have stated that their delegate was not authorized to consent to it."
Mr. Judge goes on to say that, aware of the sentiment of the American and British Sections, he had written to Adyar protesting against the proposed change in the matter of dues, and had received a reply from "Bro. Harte, the Secretary, enclosing a copy of a Resolution passed by the Commissioners in charge during Col. Olcott's absence." That Resolution "suspended until further order" that portion of the "Revised Rules" relating to fees and dues. This was subsequently "ratified" by the Indian "Council" and confirmed by a change in the "Rules" at the next succeeding Adyar Convention, which was not held until 1890, owing to the absence of Col. Olcott in Europe in December, 1889 -- of which in due course.
Returning to "Old Diary Leaves," Volume XXI of "The Theosophist," at pages 324 and 325, the student can make his own comparisons of Col. Olcott's statements with the facts, and of his comments with those of Mr. Judge on the matters of dues and sectional autonomy. Thus:
"Consistently with my policy to give every chance to my colleagues to try experiments which seemed to them to promise well for the Society's interest, I acceded to their wish that we should try what effect the complete abolition of entrance fees and annual dues, and the trusting for the Society's support to voluntary contributions, would have. Personally, I did not believe in the scheme, though I officially supported it. ... But the Convention voted for the change, upon the motion of the representatives of the British and American Sections present; I concurred, and issued the necessary Executive Notices, to clear the way.
"The first effect was that angry protests broke out in both the Western Sections; H.P.B. wrote me a violent letter, denouncing me as a vacillator and liberally reporting what so and so, her friends and colleagues, said about my inconsistency, after having just effected the organisation of a British Section and giving it the right to levy the customary entrance fees and annual dues; while Judge and his party openly revolted and refused to comply with the new order of things. Secretly I was rather amused to see how much of a mess was being made by marplots eager to have a finger in the pie, and was disposed to give them rope to hang themselves with. It was not long before the experiment failed and we returned to the old method....
"The other important thing done by the Convention of 1888 was the adoption of the policy of re-organising the Society's work on the line of autonomous Sections: this having been the motive prompting me originally to grant, in 1886, a Charter to the American Section and, later, one to the new Section in London. The plan had proved an entire success in America, and after two years of testing it in practice it seemed but fair to extend it to all our fields of activity. It was an admirable plan in every respect ... and the Society changed from a quasi-autocracy to a constitutional Federation, each part independent as to its internal affairs, but responsible to every other part for its loyal support of the movement and its ideals and of the Federal Centre, which bound the whole together, like the fasces of the lictor, into an unbreakable bundle."
The elaborate "Introductory Explanations" to the "Revised Rules" published in the Supplement to "The Theosophist" for January, 1889, was followed in the February number by an article on "The Theosophical Society," and signed in both cases with the initials "F.T.S." Both articles were undoubtedly written by Mr. Harte. It was these articles which were referred to by Mr. Judge in his report to the American Section. The student will do well to examine both articles with great care as they mark the public features of a sustained campaign on the part of Col. Olcott and his associates to subordinate the esoteric aspect of the Theosophical Movement to the exoteric Society, to center the attention of the membership on the Society, and to make of the Indian headquarters and Col. Olcott the prime object of allegiance and devotion, as the visible head and front of the Movement. This campaign was coincident in time with the Coues-Collins' developments, and in purpose can only be taken as co-ordinate with them.
"The Theosophical Society" first attempts to show that in the beginning the Society had no determinate purpose, no definite lines of direction, but was an "evolution" from unintended, unforeseen, unexpected stages. Thus:
"The history of the Society, as illustrated by its Annual Reports, and by the frequent changes in its Rules, fully bears out the assertions of its Founders, that they themselves have sometimes been as little able to foresee the particular course its development would take as [any] one else in the Society. It is only when the growth of any organism is reaching maturity that the 'intention of nature' is perceived, and this has been the case with the Theosophical Society....
"As is abundantly proved by its first Minute book and early 'By-laws,' the Theosophical Society was in a condition just like that of any recently formed Branch at present."
It is very certain that Col. Olcott frequently said that he knew nothing of the ultimate purposes of the Society at the time of its foundation, and in this he was speaking truth. It is also the fact that he occasionally asserted that none of the other founders had any but the most limited conceptions as to its purposes, but it is quite impossible that he should know this. But it is equally certain that both H.P.B. and Mr. Judge many times said that the Society was founded under instructions from the Masters of Wisdom, and that they were aware from the beginning of its scope and objective. In the same way Olcott and others have frequently asserted that the teachings of Theosophy were a "development"; that in the beginning H.P.B. was as ignorant as themselves of many of the later teachings and that some of these contradicted the earlier exposition in "Isis Unveiled." The summary given in an earlier Chapter shows that every single teaching of Theosophy is both explicit and implicit in "Isis," though often under other terms. This was partly intentional, as the earlier book was preparatory; partly unavoidable as a vocabulary of terms had not yet been coined.
"The Theosophical Society" then takes up the Objects of the Society and speaks of them also as a "development":
"The progressive changes in the ostensible 'Objects' of the Society illustrate the process of growth. ... The preamble of the original 'By-Laws' of the Theosophical Society, published in 1875, says:'The title of the Theosophical Society explains the objects and desires of its Founders: they seek to "obtain knowledge of the nature and attributes of the Supreme Power and of the higher spirits by the aid of physical processes." In other words they hope that by going deeper than modern science has hitherto done into the esoteric philosophies of ancient times, they may be enabled to obtain, for themselves and other investigators, proof of the existence of an "Unseen Universe," the nature of its inhabitants, if such there be, and the laws which govern them and their relations with mankind.'"This "preamble" was written by Col. Olcott, and faithfully expressed his life-long ideas, for during his whole career the only "evidences" which appealed to him were "phenomena." But it is absurd as applied to H.P.B. and W.Q.J., as witness "Isis" and the whole life-work and writings of these two Colleagues. Both of them put on record their testimony that the Objects of the Society were the same in the beginning as always -- Mr. Judge in the quotation given; H.P.B. in the "Key to Theosophy," published in the same year -- 1889.
Curiously enough, "F.T.S.," goes on to say, later in his article:
"This variation in the declared objects of the Society [those just promulgated in the 'Revised Rules'] must not be taken as indicating any real change in the intentions of the Founders. There is abundant evidence in their writings and speeches that from the first their purposes were to stimulate the spiritual development of the individual, and to awaken in the race the sentiment of Brotherhood."
"The Theosophical Society" was followed in the June, 1889, "Theosophist" by two more articles, of such a nature as to require extended consideration.
(To be Continued)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 17 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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