THEOSOPHY, Vol. 9, No. 8, June, 1921
(Pages 225-238; Size: 45K)
(Number 18 of a 34-part series)



IT would serve no useful purpose to set out in detail the internecine troubles of the Theosophical Society during the three years which preceded the death of H. P. Blavatsky. Our aim has been to present only so much of the sequence of events during that melancholy period of stress and strain as might serve two major requirements: (a) to indicate clearly the failure of the Society and its responsible officials and leaders to live up to its and their professed Objects; (b) the corresponding necessity under which H. P. Blavatsky and W. Q. Judge labored -- either to stand by and permit the Society to become a worldly success but an Occult failure, or to take upon themselves the Karma of all and reincarnate the Movement by the formation of the Esoteric Section within the shell of the Society.

The Society tended continually to follow those lines which were attractive to the members and the inquiring public -- that is to say, to run into channels of mere study of comparative religion and philosophy or to experiments and investigations in "psychical research." The inflexible devotion to the assimilation of the philosophy of Theosophy, the rigid self-discipline required for the application of Theosophy to their own daily conduct in all the affairs of life -- these essential conditions precedent to any realization of the great First Object, possessed no charms for any but the very few. Theoretical "brotherhood" was one thing; the practical application and exemplification of the principles professedly held was quite another thing, then as now.

On the other hand, one has but to read any one of the countless statements from first to last emanating from the Masters of Wisdom from 1877 to 1896, to recognize the great gulf between Their view of life and action and that prevailing in the world and in the Society. Philosophy and ethics, philosophy and ethics --through the study and application of these alone could the Society and its members hope to benefit the world and themselves.

Our aim has been to keep continually before us the ideals held out by the Masters through the teaching and example of H.P.B., as the key to the activities of the First and Second Sections, in contrast with the purely human conceptions on the same subject matters which engrossed the minds of the members of the Third Section, or Theosophical Society. Little by little these opposed fundamental ideas and applications produced those frictions and fractures which at last led to the opening up of broad lines of cleavage. And since actions do not perform themselves, it was inevitable that these fundamental differences should at last become personified in the leading persons and personages whose relations embody the history of the Theosophical Movement. Whosoever will can piece together for himself the shards whose abundant fragments still remain in the literature of the period and testify in broken eloquence of the shattered faith and lost opportunities of those crucial days. Let us pass as lightly and as considerately as possible over what must still be placed of record to complete the lesson from the past.

After the receipt of the advance proofs of "Lucifer" for August 15, 1889, containing "A Puzzle from Adyar," Col. Olcott recognized that the various issues evoked by the Convention proceedings of December preceding and the subsequent promulgations in the "Theosophist," had been squarely met by H.P.B. and Mr. Judge. Either he would have to proceed in open defiance of them and of their policies, execute a complete "about face" and bring himself once more into line with the principles and procedure she had proclaimed, or take a compromise course. He chose, as usual, the middle course: he determined to go to England and "fight it out" once with H.P.B., rather than raise the standard of rebellion and thus perforce align himself with Professor Coues, whose assault threatened not only the ruin of the prestige of H.P.B., but the destruction of the Society as well. He therefore hastened to insert in the Supplement to the "Theosophist" for August a formal notice addressed "To the Indian Sections," in which he announced his departure for the United Kingdom in these words:

"A promise made last year obliges me to proceed without delay to England for a Society lecturing tour through parts of the United Kingdom."

He arrived in England when the public press, no less than the Theosophical ranks, was agog over the charges and counter charges incident to the Coues-Collins explosion. He found H.P.B. undaunted, undismayed, undisturbed. Although she lay upon that rack of physical as well as moral pain that was all too soon to destroy her body, never had the lion's heart and the lion's courage that inspired her been more true. She received him with that loyalty and forgetfulness of all but the good in him that had so many times before restored his concert pitch of faith and feeling. Accord was soon reached. He was received by all the English Theosophists with that consideration so dear to his nature. His fears that his importance to the work of the Society and the Movement would be denied or minimized, evaporated for the time being, and this was facilitated by his discovery that H.P.B. was surrounded by eager and ardent students whose worldly standing and repute far more than compensated for any possible losses due to the defection of Dr. Coues and Mabel Collins. To mention only two of the recent recruits, he met Herbert Burrows, the best known Socialist in England, man of education and character so great as to command the respect even of those whose class interests were endangered by him, now devoted to Theosophy and to H.P.B. He met Mrs. Annie Besant, champion of the oppressed, fearless follower of her convictions, lead her through what gaols they might, now aflame with the glory of a fresh enthusiasm, already the right hand of H.P.B. Under such auspices as these, Col. Olcott departed on his lecturing tour and everywhere found new evidences of a rising tide. On his return to London in December he readily acceded to the expressed wish of the Council of the British Section and issued an "Order" naming H.P.B., with an advisory Committee of three, to exercise his "Presidential powers" in the United Kingdom. Still further to strengthen him against reactionary tendencies on his return to India, H.P.B. put into his hands before his departure a document appointing him her sole representative for the Esoteric Section in Asiatic countries.

During Col. Olcott's absence no Convention was held at Adyar, but a "Bombay Conference" was arranged which met at the usual time, adopted stirring resolutions of confidence in H.P.B., and voiced its condemnation of the attacks made upon her and its disapproval of the dissentient frictions within the Society. For a time -- a brief time, as always -- there was concord and some semblance of confidence throughout the whole vast area of the Society. But early in the summer of 1890 the Paris branch once again became the focal point of disturbance which threatened the disruption of the Society. While H.P.B. was doing her utmost to reconcile the warring factions Col. Olcott again intervened and almost an identical situation to that in the fall of 1888 again arose. The various European Lodges, the English Branches and the numerous "unattached" Fellows in Britain and on the Continent rose in arms and bombarded H.P.B. with letters, resolutions and petitions to clear the situation once and for all from any further "Executive Orders" from Adyar.

Thus confronted, H.P.B. once more acted with characteristic decision, frankness and loyalty. A brief delineation can but outline in relief the sagacity and the kindness with which she performed the seemingly impossible task thrust upon her.

On July 2nd, 1890, the Council of the British Section held an extraordinary session with Mrs. Besant in the chair. Letters and resolutions from the various Lodges and unattached Fellows were read, and after full discussion "it was proposed by Dr. [Archibald] Keightley that a requisition, embodying the following views, be drawn up and addressed to the President of the Society:

"The Continental Lodges and unattached members having made an appeal to H.P.B. that they may place themselves directly under her authority, the British Section joins in their demand that the constitutional powers at present exercised by Colonel H. S. Olcott in Europe, shall be transferred to H.P.B. and her Advisory Council, already appointed to exercise part of such function in the United Kingdom."

This motion was unanimously adopted by the Council and Dr. Keightley and Mr. William Kingsland "were appointed to draw up the requisition." So runs the Minutes of this "Extraordinary General Meeting of the British Section Council."

Immediately H.P.B. cabled Col. Olcott of the action taken by the Council, of her own proposed steps in consequence, and, for his own sake no less than that of the Society, urged him to issue such formal notice as would both accept the status quo and preserve the appearance of harmony. The Supplement to the "Theosophist" for August, 1890, contains two eminently characteristic documents, both signed "H. S. Olcott, P.T.S." The first of these reads as follows:

"To secure a better management of the Society's affairs throughout Europe, than I can give from this distance, I do hereby depute to my co-Founder, H. P. Blavatsky, full authority to come to an agreement with the Branches of the United Kingdom, Greece, France, Austria and Holland, and the non-official groups in Spain, Russia and other Continental countries, for the consolidation of the whole into one Section, to be designated as the European Section of the Theosophical Society; and to take the general supervision over and have as full management of the same as I could myself. Provided,

"1. That the formation of the said Section shall be agreed to by three-fourths of the whole number of Branches and non-official groups.

"2. That the Constitution of the said Section shall fully recognize the three declared Objects of the Theosophical Society, and no By-Laws be enacted in violation of the same.

"3. That the said European Section shall have complete autonomy, to the same extent as the American Section.

"Branches receiving copies of this Order are requested to put themselves in official correspondence with Madame Blavatsky."

This was dated "Adyar, 9th July, 1890," seven days after the meeting of the Council of the British Section, and the heading, "Headquarters Official Orders," has a delightfully Pickwickian tone in thus "ordering" what was already a fait accompli, "provided" those things should be done which had already been done. This order was, of course, written when Col. Olcott had only brief telegraphic advices. So soon as the mails reached India with full details of the transactions of the Council of the British Section, including the resolution above given, the Colonel felt himself compelled to sustain the Presidential dignity by a second Pickwickian "Headquarters Official Order," dated July 29th, and printed in the Supplement immediately following the first. It runs:

"The following resolution of the Council of the British Section of July 2nd, 1890; is hereby cancelled, as contrary to the constitution and by-laws of the Theosophical Society, a usurpation of the Presidential prerogative, and beyond the competence of any Section or other fragment of the Society to enact." Then follows the copy of the resolution as given.

"Lucifer" for August, 1890, contains the notice sent out by H.P.B. We present it in full and without comment:


"In consequence of the receipt of letters from all the active Lodges in Europe, and from a large majority of the Unattached Fellows of the Theosophical Society, H. P. Blavatsky is reluctantly compelled to abandon the position which she originally took up at the foundation of the Society.




"Let no one imagine that this reform in any sense suggests a separation from, or even the loosening in any way of the authority of, my colleague at Adyar. Colonel H. S. Olcott remains, as heretofore, the President-Founder of the Theosophical Society the world over. But it has been found impossible for him at such a great distance to exercise accurate discrimination in current matters of guidance of the Theosophical Society. His functions including the official issue of Charters and Diplomas in Europe, errors in the selection of members to whom such Charters and Diplomas are issued (besides the minor evil of delay) have rendered it impossible that the system of government of the Theosophical Society in Europe should be continued as heretofore. In the issue of Lucifer for August, 1889, I made use of the following sentences:

"'H. P. Blavatsky will always bow before the decision of the majority of a Section or even a simple Branch. ... No more ... has the President-Founder the right of exercising autocracy or papal powers, and Colonel Olcott would be the last man in the world to attempt to do so. It is the two Founders, and especially the President, who have virtually sworn allegiance to the Fellows, whom they have to protect .... and not to tyrannize and rule over them.'

"Therefore, owing to the issue of a Charter in ignorance of the actual facts, and the immediate protest made by all the active members of the Lodges, and their unanimous desire that I should exercise the Presidential authority over the Theosophical Society in Europe, bowing to the decision of the majority I have issued the above official NOTICE. To avoid even the appearance of autocracy I select as an advisory Council to assist me in the exercise of these functions, in addition to my three colleagues appointed by the President, viz.: Annie Besant, and Messrs. W. Kingsland and Herbert Burrows, Mr. A. P. Sinnett, President of the London Lodge, who has cordially joined in this reform, Dr. H. A. W. Coryn, President of the Brixton Lodge, Theosophical Society, Mr. E. T. Sturdy, and Mr. G. R. S. Mead. 


Thereafter peace and peaceful activities attended the work of the Theosophical Society in the West till after the death of H.P.B. The reader who may have been misled as to the facts attendant upon the events just recited, because of the sorry account in the pages of "Old Diary Leaves, Fourth Series," should remember that the Colonel Olcott there writing was a broken old man, that he was telling his tale ten years after the events discussed and after the fatal follies of 1894-6, and felt under the overwhelming compulsion to put himself in the best light possible before posterity. His case is not unlike that of de Lesseps, the glory of whose achievement at Suez was, to so many minds, put in total eclipse by the folly, the fraud and the failure at Panama. Only those who, like H.P.B., know human nature and the Karma of the individual through and through, only such have the wisdom neither to ignore the good services, nor to be disturbed in their measureless charity by the mistakes or frailties of their associates and helpers -- only such have the right to throw the first stone at "poor old Olcott" -- and they have none to throw!

In the present constitution of the race mind, history, whether of nations in their development or of the evolution of ideas, is very largely a narration of "the struggle for existence." Those equable thinkers who see in all the rush and foray of events only the material for philosophical study and its realization are so rare as to be epochs rather than individuals. Yet to such philosophical consideration of issues, persons and affairs, the history of the Theosophical Movement must be peculiarly inviting. After so protracted attention to the litter of conflict as has crowded our recent Chapters, it should be a welcome and a beneficial time to consider the accrual of results from all the panoply of action we have been tracing. What more fitting, then, than to survey their meaning from the high level of H. P. Blavatsky's vision of men, things and methods, and, so far as may be, in her own words? Let us foreshorten the vast perspective by a paragraph from her Introductory to the "Secret Doctrine":

"How is this to be done? What is the best way for achieving such an object? ... An illustration may be attempted. When a tourist coming from a well-explored country, suddenly reaches the borderland of a terra incognita, hedged in, and shut out from view by a formidable barrier of impassable rocks, he may still refuse to acknowledge himself baffled in his exploratory plans. Ingress beyond is forbidden. But, if he cannot visit the mysterious region personally, he may still find a means of examining it from as short a distance as can be arrived at. Helped by his knowledge of landscapes left behind him, he can get a general and pretty correct idea of the transmural view, if he will only climb to the loftiest summit of the altitudes in front of him. Once there, he can gaze at it, at his leisure, comparing that which he dimly perceives with that which he has just left below, now that he is, thanks to his efforts, beyond the line of the mists and the cloud-capped cliffs."

With this for our chart, and Her eyes as the "loftiest summit of the altitudes" we also "compare that which we dimly perceive with that which we have just left below." Writing, by invitation, in the August, 1890, number of the North American Review, Madame Blavatsky there discusses "Recent Progress in Theosophy." It is well to recall, for the sake of the ensemble, that she wrote while in the very grasp of the Three Furies -- mortal illness, the infamous assault upon her character and reputation in the New York Sun, the open breach between Colonel Olcott and the European Theosophists. Her article begins:

"Whatever else may be thought of theosophy and its movement, time has at least proved that it is not the ephemeron which the American and foreign press called it upon its first appearance. It seems to have come to occupy a permanent place in modern thought, thus vindicating the truth of Sir John Herschel's observation that 'the grand, and, indeed, the only, character of truth is its capability of enduring the test of universal experience, and coming unchanged out of every possible form of fair discussion.'"

The intervention of thirty years of history begins to certify the true clairvoyance of this prevision. She continues:

"Unfortunately, theosophy has never yet had a 'fair' chance; but that must come. It has been represented in a most grotesque light, travestied out of all resemblance. With few exceptions, even its friends have shown in their published writings an imperfect grasp of the subject. If it had been discussed upon its merits, apart from the personalities with which the movement has been associated, we cannot doubt that it would have had by this time a much wider vogue than it has. All the signs point that way. The most strenuous efforts of bigots, theological and scientific, and the employment of ridicule, sarcasm, misrepresentations, and denunciations by its opponents, have failed to check the growth of the Theosophical Society or its influence, or even to impede the expansion of the theosophical ideas throughout the world. Scarcely the most optimistic among the society's organizers dreamt of such success as has rewarded their labors. The little coterie of thoughtful men and women who met in an Irving-Place parlor one summer evening in the year 1875 builded better than they (with their undeveloped foresight) knew, when they resolved to organize such an association."

The "strenuous efforts of its opponents" have since failed, as before the time she wrote, to effectually impede the expansion of theosophical ideas -- and this in spite of her teachings having been "travestied out of all resemblance" by professed followers -- more, rather than less, by them than by the avowed enemies of Theosophy. Magna est veritas et prevalebit! She discusses the aims of the Society, as follows:

"We are often asked, 'What is the general object of the Theosophical Society? Cui bono all this outlay of labor, all that energy expended from its beginning to swim against the strong tide of public prejudice, sectarian hatred, and unpopularity? Of the three well-known objects of the society not one but had, and has, its teachers and followers in the past as in the present. Your first object, namely, brotherhood of man, lies at the very basis of Christianity; your second is promoted by the Asiatic societies, the national museums, and all the Orientalists; your third may be allowed to remain in the hands of the men of science, who have already dissected spiritualism and exploded mesmerism, and now, under the lead of the Society for Psychical Research, are disposing of the question of thought-transference, the phantasm of the living, and the Theosophical Society.'

"In rejoinder to the first two assertions, the Theosophists would ask Christians and Orientalists what they were doing in their respective departments to realize practically our first two objects? Under correction, I must say that it has all been talk and theory. Has the Sermon on the Mount, all its moral beauty notwithstanding, caused so-called Christian nations to treat each other in the ideal Christian spirit, or to offer brotherhood to Asiatic and African nations and tribes, whom they have subdued by force of arms or wiles? As to our third object, it must be said of the work of the S.P.R., and the superior labor of the French hypnotists of Paris and Nancy, that these agencies, while accumulating a mass of important facts for future philosophers, have, with a very few honorable exceptions, tried their best to give a false interpretation to those phenomena that they could not dispose of on the theory of fraud. Their oblations have all been offered on the altar of the Moloch of materialism.

"Since it is undeniable that this materialistic bias has been rapidly culminating under university influence during the past half century, it is too evident that the creation of the Theosophical Society at the time when it arose was most timely, and a step towards the defense of true science and true religion against a sciolism that was becoming more and more arrogant. The experiments of Charcot at the Salpétrière have been so unsatisfactorily explained by the professors of his materialistic school that the appearance of the ancient esoteric philosophy in the arena of Western thought was a vital necessity. The conviction has already dawned upon the minds of some of the clever Western experimentalists that the 'impassable chasm' and the 'unknowable' of Messrs. Tyndall and Spencer can never be bridged or known by anything short of the Aryan esoteric doctrine. The cultured interest and popular curiosity that are shown in every country when a Theosophist or theosophy comes to the fore, and the universal popularity of theosophical and mystical literature ... are indications of the despair and hope of Christendom -- despair that science will ever read the puzzle of life; hope that the solution may be found in the secret doctrine.

"The theosophical movement was a necessity of the age, and it has spread under its own inherent impulsion, and owes nothing to adventitious methods. From the first it has had neither money, endowment, nor social or governmental patronage to count upon. It appealed to certain human instincts and aspirations, and held up a certain lofty ideal of perfectibility, with which the vested extraneous interests of society conflicted, and against which these were foredoomed to battle. Its strongest allies were the human yearnings for light upon the problem of life, and for a nobler conception of the origin, destiny, and potentialities of the human being. While materialism and its congener, secularism, were bent upon destroying not only theology and sectarian dogmatism, but even the religious conception of a diviner Self, theosophy has aimed at uniting all broad religious people for research into the actual basis of religion and scientific proofs of the existence and permanence of the higher Self. Accepting thankfully the results of scientific study and exposure of theological error, and adopting the methods and maxims of science, its advocates try to save from the wreck of cults the precious admixture of truth to be found in each. Discarding the theory of miracle and supernaturalism, they endeavor to trace out the kinship of the whole family of world-faiths to each other, and their common reconciliation with science. ... Surely this must be considered a gain by the friends of spirituality as opposed to materialism....

"It is the worse for the public, particularly for the religious feelings of the public, that the organs of sectarian bigotry should have succeeded so well by perversion of fact, frenzied calumny, and downright falsehood, in making our cause and the society appear in such a false light during the past fourteen years. ... But we heed them not. Why should we? The utmost malignity and basest treachery have not been able either to controvert our ideas, belittle our objects, disprove the reasonableness of our methods, or fasten upon us a selfish or dishonest motive. And as our declared principles are not merely unobjectionable, but admirably adapted to do good to mankind, these conspirators and calumniators have simply kept a multitude of religiously-inclined persons from enjoying the happiness they would have had by understanding theosophy as it really is, and making it the guiding rule of their conduct.

"If justice be the law of nature, and injustice a transitory evil, direful must, indeed, be the retribution these misguided people have invoked upon their own heads. The suffering we have been made to endure has but served as discipline, and taught us to turn the more loyally toward the esoteric doctrine for comfort and encouragement....

"At least we may claim to have placed before the thinking public a logical, coherent, and philosophical scheme of man's origin, destiny, and evolution....

"Our whole aim and desire are to help, in at least some degree, toward arriving at correct scientific views upon the nature of man. ... For many a long year the 'great orphan,' Humanity, has been crying aloud in the darkness for guidance and for light. Amid the increasing splendors of a progress purely material, of science that nourished the intellect, but left the spirit to starve, Humanity, dimly feeling its origin and presaging its destiny, has stretched out towards the East empty hands that only a spiritual philosophy can fill. Aching from the divisions, the jealousies, the hatreds, that rend its very life, it has cried for some sure foundation on which to build the solidarity it senses, some metaphysical basis from which its loftiest social ideals may rise secure. Only the Masters of the Eastern wisdom can set that foundation, can satisfy at once the intellect and the spirit, can guide Humanity safely through the night to 'the dawn of a larger day.'

"Such is the goal which theosophy has set itself to attain; such is the history of the modern movement; such is the work which theosophy has already accomplished in this nineteenth century." [Note: Here is the article by HPB that was just extensively quoted from: "Recent Progress in Theosophy". --Compiler.]

From this statement of Madame Blavatsky's, written for the readers of the foremost American periodical of the time, we may turn to some remarks addressed by her to the American Convention at the close of the April preceding. At that time H.P.B. was in a desperate physical condition, so that her message, instead of being written by herself, was communicated by Bertram Keightley, her private secretary, on her behalf. She says:

"Looking back over the past year, see how much has been accomplished by the power of union and unselfish devotion to work. ... But even more important is the marked change of spirit among the members with regard to the Society and its work, of which signs are not wanting. The past twelve months have witnessed more activity in true Theosophical work, the endeavor to help others, than any preceding year in the history of the Society in the West. There are signs, visible though only gradually coming into sight, that its members are at last awakening from their apathy and setting to work in earnest to practice the first principle of true Theosophy -- UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD. Gradually they are becoming alive to the duty of helping others, as they have been helped, by bringing a knowledge of the life-giving truths of Theosophy within the reach of all....

"In England the past year has witnessed a rapid growth and a great extension of the Society and its work. Our cause has gained two noble and devoted adherents, whose names have been prominent for long years past in connection with every effort to bring real aid to suffering humanity -- Annie Besant and Herbert Burrows. In them our movement in the West has gained able exponents both with pen and voice. They fill to some extent the long and sorely-felt need of speakers who could place Theosophy in its true light before large audiences, and I, especially, am deeply indebted to Annie Besant for her invaluable assistance and co-operation in the conduct of Lucifer."

She speaks of the great growth of the Society in England, of the outpour of interest in Theosophical teachings, and gives to Colonel Olcott generous meed of grateful recognition: "Colonel Olcott's prolonged stay in England has been of great assistance to our work. His lectures throughout England and Ireland have been the cause of the formation of several new Branches, and his example and influence have done much good on all sides. To myself his presence has been a great pleasure and satisfaction, and the added strength when the 'Two Founders' were once more side by side has made itself felt in every department of our work."

She speaks of the Esoteric Section and its work in these terms:

"A large part of these results is due to the added strength, and, above all, the increased spirit of solidarity, which the organization of the Esoteric Section has infused into the T.S. To the members of that Section I say: See and realise what great results can be achieved by those who are really in earnest and unite unselfishly to work for humanity. Let this year's outcome show you in unmistakable signs the weighty responsibility that rests upon you, not only towards the Society, but towards the whole of Humanity. Therefore, do not for one moment relax in your efforts; press closer, shoulder to shoulder, every day; stand together as one man, come what may, fine weather or storm, and the victory of the cause to which you have pledged yourselves is certain. Striving thus in unison with your Higher Self, your efforts must and will be fruitful of good to the Society, to yourselves, to Humanity. Coming years will show a steady, healthy growth, a strong, united organization, a durable, reliable instrument ready to the Masters' hands. Once united in real solidarity, in the true spirit of Universal Brotherhood, no power can overthrow you, no obstacle bar your progress, no barrier check the advance of Theosophy in the coming century."

It will be noted that here, as always, she strikes the dominant notes of unity and harmony -- the solidarity of real brotherhood -- as the sole bond and basis for Theosophical success. How catholic, how filled with the twin doctrines of hope and responsibility, her life and teachings were, is poured out like a benediction in the next paragraph of her letter:

"But enough of the past. Let the encouragement we draw from a survey of the results accomplished in the year that has fled serve to spur us on to greater efforts and more strenuous exertions. Let it make all feel that there is a power behind the Society which will give us the strength we need, which will enable us to move the world, if we will but UNITE and WORK as one mind, one heart. The Masters require only that each shall do his best, and, above all, that each shall strive in reality to feel himself one with his fellow-workers. It is not a dull agreement on intellectual questions, or an impossible unanimity as to all details of work, that is needed; but a true, hearty, earnest devotion to our cause which will lead each to help his brother to the utmost of his power to work for that cause, whether or not we agree as to the exact method of carrying on that work. The only man who is absolutely wrong in his method is the one who does nothing; each can and should cooperate with all and all with each in a large-hearted spirit of comradeship to forward the work of bringing Theosophy home to every man and woman in the country.

"Let us look forward, not backward. What of the coming year? And first a word of warning. As the preparation for the new cycle proceeds, as the forerunners of the new sub-race make their appearance on the American continent, the latent psychic and occult powers in man are beginning to germinate and grow. Hence the rapid growth of such movements as Christian Science, Mind Cure, Metaphysical Healing, Spiritual Healing, and so forth. All these movements represent nothing but different phases of the exercise of these growing powers, -- as yet not understood and therefore but too often ignorantly misused. Understand once for all that there is nothing 'spiritual' or 'divine' in any of these manifestations. The cures effected by them are due simply to the unconscious exercise of occult power on the lower planes of nature -- usually of prana or life-currents. The conflicting theories of all these schools are based on misunderstood and misapplied metaphysics, often on grotesquely absurd logical fallacies. But the one feature common to most of them, a feature which presents the most danger in the near future, is this: In nearly every case, the tenor of the teachings of these schools is such as to lead people to regard the healing process as being applied to the mind of the patient. Here lies the danger, for any such process -- however cunningly disguised in words and hidden by false noses -- is simply to psychologize the patient. In other words, whenever the healer interferes -- consciously or unconsciously -- with the free mental action of the person he treats, it is -- Black Magic. Already these so-called sciences of 'Healing' are being used to gain a livelihood. Soon some sharp person will find out that by the same process the minds of others can be influenced in many directions, and the selfish motive of personal gain and money getting having been once allowed to creep in, the one-time 'healer' may be insensibly led on to use his power to acquire wealth or some other object of his desire.

"This is one of the dangers of the new cycle, aggravated enormously by the pressure of competition and the struggle for existence. Happily new tendencies are also springing up, working to change the basis of men's daily lives from selfishness to altruism. The Nationalist Movement is an application of Theosophy. But remember, all of you, that if Nationalism is an application of Theosophy, it is the latter which must ever stand first in your sight. Theosophy is indeed the life, the indwelling spirit which makes every true reform a vital reality, the very foundation as well as the keystone of all movements toward the amelioration of our condition.

"What I said last year remains true to-day, that is, that the Ethics of Theosophy are more important than any divulgement of psychic laws and facts. The latter relate wholly to the material and evanescent part of the septenary man, but the Ethics sink into and take hold of the real man -- the reincarnating Ego. We are outwardly creatures of but a day; within we are eternal. Learn, then, well the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, and teach, practice, promulgate that system of life and thought which alone can save the coming races. Do not work merely for the Theosophical Society, but through it for Humanity.

"May Theosophy grow more and more a living power in the lives of each one of our members, and may the coming year be yet more full of good work and healthy progress than the one just closing, is the wish of your humble co-worker and fellow-member." [Note: Here's the link to HPB's 3rd Letter to the American Conventions, from which the extensive excerpts above were taken. --Compiler.]

From this moving survey and appeal -- as vital and as callingly of the present tense as though She still were speaking amongst us -- let us turn to a few sentences from the Second Preliminary Memorandum sent a few months later to all students of the Esoteric Section:

"You all profess the wish to acquire esoteric knowledge, and some of you -- those who believe in the blessed Masters -- to win the regards of our Teachers. Know then, Brothers, that they have regard for only such as square their behavior with the rules hinted at, with our Master's permission, by me in the Voice of the Silence. The reputation of the Theosophical Society is in the keeping of each one of you, and as you regard or neglect it, so will it prosper....

"'Observe,' writes the Master, "that the first of the steps of gold which mount towards the Temple of Truth is -- A CLEAN LIFE. This means a purity of body, and a still greater purity of mind, heart, and spirit.

"'How many of them violate one or more of these conditions and yet expect to be freely taught the highest Wisdom and Sciences, the Wisdom of the gods. As pure water poured into the scavenger's bucket is befouled and unfit for use, so is divine Truth when poured into the consciousness of a sensualist, of one of selfish heart and a mind indifferent and inaccessible to justice and compassion....

"'But though they have been repeatedly told of this sine qua non rule on the Path of Theosophy and chelaship, how few of them have given attention to it. ... Though such a person with any of the faults as above declared should fill the world with his charities, and make his name known throughout every nation, he would make no advancement in the practical occult sciences, but be continually slipping backward. The "six and ten transcendental virtues," the Paramitas, are not for full-grown yogis and priests alone, but for all those who would enter the "Path."'

"If, explaining this, I add that gentle kindness to all beings, strict honesty (not according to the world-code, but that of Karmic action), virtuous habits, strict truthfulness, and temperance in all things; that these alone are the keys that unlock the doors of earthly happiness and blissful peace of mind, and that fit the man of flesh to evolve into the perfect Spirit-Ego -- many of you will feel inclined, I fear, to mock me for saying this. You may think that I am carrying coals to Newcastle, and that each of you knows this, at least, as well as I do. ... But I say again, if you are ignorant of the real occult value of even such trite truths .... how can you hope to understand the science which you are studying?...

"Let this be the motto of the E.S., applied to Death of Selfishness and Sin through the bright Dawn of the resurrection of the Divine Science now known as THEOSOPHY."

(To be Continued)

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


In Isis Unveiled we wrote that which we now repeat:-- "We are at the bottom of a cycle and evidently in a transitory state. Plato divides the intellectual progress of the universe during every cycle into fertile and barren periods. ... We are in a barren period: the eighteenth century, during which the malignant fever of scepticism broke out so irrepressibly, has entailed unbelief as an hereditary disease upon the nineteenth. The divine intellect is veiled in man; his animal brain alone philosophizes." And philosophizing alone, how can it understand the "SOUL DOCTRINE"?

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(1) Corrections, objections, criticisms, questions and comments are invited from all readers on any facts or conclusions stated in this series. --EDITORS.
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(2) From the Original Edition, Vol. II, p. 74; see Third Edition, Vol. II, pp. 77-78.
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