THEOSOPHY, Vol. 8, No. 7, May, 1920
(Pages 193-204; Size: 39K)
(Number 5 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
THE student will find much of interest and value to be derived from a careful investigation of the factors opposed to the spread of the Theosophical Society and hostile to the teachings put forth by Madame Blavatsky in furtherance of its three Objects.
At first glance those Objects might be assumed to be in themselves so manifestly beneficial and, negatively speaking, so entirely harmless and devoid of antagonistic elements, as at once to commend them to the good will if not to the active support of all men everywhere. To draw this conclusion, however, is unfortunately to be blind to the lessons of human history, is to be ignorant of the forces which dominate the operations of human consciousness.
Selfishness, in one or another of its countless forms, is and at all times has been the prevailing key-note of human action. Many have been the attempts to form enduring associations having for their prime object the realization of an actual nucleus of universal brotherhood among men. To unite firmly a body of men in brotherly love and bent on a pure altruistic work, not on a labor with selfish motives, has been the dream of many high-souled men and women. Whatever of progress and amelioration has been achieved for the race from time to time has been due to such efforts. But in their real and durable purpose they have all failed of the great object, and humanity is today waiting as vainly as ever for the accomplishment of the most holy and most important mission that has ever commanded the devotion of the savior, the philanthropist and the martyr. Disruptive pressures from without, disintegrating forces from within, have in the end made mock and havoc of every attempt to embody practically what all men reverence as the noblest of ideals. Yet the ideal persists, though its successive incarnations wither and decay.
It cannot, then, be supposed that H. P. Blavatsky was in ignorance or misconception of the difficulties of the gigantic task she set for herself in the endeavor to create among men a Society which should have for its primary purpose the formation of a nucleus of actual Brotherhood. Nor is it to be imagined that she was indifferent to or unacquainted with the causes of all former failures in that direction. The second and third objects of the Society whose inspiration and sustenance she was, have their real foundation in her understanding of the causes of all failures among men to achieve their heart's ideal. So long as men find occasion for frictions and antagonisms, rather than grounds for union and harmony, in what they believe and practice in the name of religion, so long will they be fundamentally at variance, building upon the sands and not upon solid rock their structures of brotherhood. So long as their ideas of knowledge -- of true science -- relate and are confined to mere bodily, earthly existence, so long will all attempts at brotherhood degenerate into sordid search for material well-being, for physical and intellectual progress and development only. Faith and knowledge, instead of being natural allies, will pursue opposed courses, religion and science take mutually destructive paths, the ideal and the practical seem to be separated by an impassable gulf.
All these things are clearly, if succinctly, indicated in the Preface to the first volume of "Isis Unveiled." Never in all her vast outpour of teaching and practical example did Madame Blavatsky place on record anything of more enduring and far-reaching worth than the propositions and implications of this Preface. After dedicating "these volumes to the Theosophical Society, which was formed at New York, A.D. 1875, to study the subjects on which they treat," her first words are an affirmation of the existence of Masters, of the Wisdom-Religion, of her own intimate acquaintance with Them and with their philosophy: "The work now submitted to public judgment is the fruit of a somewhat intimate acquaintance with Eastern adepts and study of their science."
Here is implied the existence of an actual Brotherhood of living men, of perfected human beings who have become such through self-induced and self-devised exertions by the study of a perfect science; herein is affirmed the perfectibility of man, the possibility of a fraternity of peace and good will among mankind through the means and the example afforded by acquaintance with and study of these adepts and their science. Centuries of sectarian theological teachings that man is a poor miserable sinner, inherently imperfect and never by any possibility to become perfect save through an act of faith in a vicarious Savior, centuries of materialism in thought and action on a one-life basis -- over against these deeply imbedded and dominating ideas is set, sheer and clear, the fact of Masters; not as some far-off, remote abstraction, some longed-for but impossible ideal, some unique and special creation of a favoring God, but veritable Divine Beings who have reached physical and mental, no less than moral and spiritual, perfection under Law. Here is the tremendous assurance that the realization of Brotherhood is not an impossibility to any man who will follow the path They show, by creating in and of himself the conditions precedent to the acquisition of their knowledge and nature.
What those conditions precedent are is indicated in the succeeding sentences: "It is offered to such as are willing to accept truth wherever it may be found, and to defend it, even looking popular prejudice straight in the face. It is an attempt to aid the student to detect the vital principles which underlie the philosophical systems of old." All men are willing to accept truth, but each of us is predisposed to determine for himself the terms and conditions upon which he will base his acceptance. Each man holds, consciously or unconsciously to himself, certain fundamental ideas as to Deity, Nature and Man; he will, by consequence, accept only so much of truth as may conform to those ideas, modifying or rejecting all else. As those fundamental conceptions proceed in fact from human ignorance and partialities, the true vital principles which underlie the race-old systems of thought must be detected, and that cannot be for any man so long as he clings to forms of religion and philosophy which in fact separate instead of uniting mankind in the bonds of true fraternity. The second Object, the study for comparative purposes of the various religions and philosophies, will lead to the perception of the common vital principles upon which all faiths are founded. In this comparative study the searcher for truth must emulate the plan and purpose of "Isis," which is written "in all sincerity. It is meant to do even justice, and to speak the truth alike without malice or prejudice. But it shows neither mercy for enthroned error, nor reverence for usurped authority. Toward no form of worship, no religious faith, no scientific hypothesis has its criticism been directed in any other spirit. Men and parties, sects and schools are but the mere ephemera of the world's day. TRUTH, high-seated upon its rock of adamant, is alone eternal and supreme." Unless the inquirer adopts and maintains the spirit of "Isis," he cannot rid himself of prejudice, of preconception, of bias and self-interest, the real barriers to knowledge and to Brotherhood.
The third Object runs current with the following clauses of the noble Preface: "We believe in no Magic which transcends the scope and capacity of the human mind, nor in 'miracle,' whether divine or diabolical, if such imply a transgression of the laws of nature instituted from all eternity. Nevertheless, we accept the saying of the gifted author of Festus, that the human heart has not yet fully uttered itself, and that we have never attained or even understood the extent of its powers. Is it too much to believe that man should be developing new sensibilities and a closer relation with nature? The logic of evolution must teach as much, if carried to its legitimate conclusions. If, somewhere, in the line of ascent from vegetable or ascidian to the noblest man a soul was evolved, gifted with intellectual qualities, it cannot be unreasonable to believe and infer that a faculty of perception is also growing in man, enabling him to descry facts and truths even beyond our ordinary ken." He who would pass behind the "veil of Isis," and learn to fathom the mysteries of Nature and of Man, must boldly take his stand in advance of the science of our times and proceed to the study of the unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man. The quoted sentences postulate the omnipresent existence of immutable Law, do away with the idea of miraculous intervention in human or mundane affairs, and affirm the inherent capacity of the mind of man for such development of its faculties as shall enable him to penetrate the arcana of being, to understand, and understanding, control the phenomena of nature and of his own consciousness, without which true Brotherhood must forever remain a longed-for but inaccessible Utopia.
The second and third Objects thus constitute the ways and means by which alone the great first Object may be consummated. Viewed from the standpoint of religions which teach that enduring happiness is possible only beyond the grave, or from that of a science which inculcates that earthly existence and earthly knowledge are all that are accessible to man, all the objects of the Theosophical Society are alike futile, because impossible of attainment. Considered from the basis of the ordinary man those objects are equally useless or unsatisfactory, because they all imply and require the giving up of objects and possessions counted valuable; at best in exchange for something remote and intangible, yielding no personal or selfish benefit; at worst the loss of what one holds dear without any return but failure.
Here, then, the Preface predicates the true and enduring foundation for the seeker's faith and efforts. The philosophy of the Adepts is given: "They showed us that by combining science with religion, the existence of God and immortality of man's spirit may be demonstrated like a problem of Euclid. For the first time we received the assurance that the Oriental philosophy has room for no other faith than an absolute and immovable faith in the omnipotence of man's own immortal self. We were taught that this omnipotence comes from the kinship of man's spirit with the Universal Soul -- God! The latter, they said, can never be demonstrated but by the former. Man-spirit proves God-spirit, as the one drop of water proves a source from whence it must have come. Ex nihilo nihil fit; prove the soul of man by its wondrous powers -- you have proved God!" Every attempt to establish a religion on the fundamental conception that man is inherently fallible and sinful, every attempt to understand nature on the theory that man is inherently mortal and finite, must end in failure. But once the stand is taken that there is an immortal self in man, its limitless potentialities for knowledge and power (true religion and true science) follow; the three Objects of H. P. Blavatsky seem no longer a vain attempt at hitching of the earthly wagon to the firmamental lights: a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood becomes the one thing to be striven for, because seen to be eternally possible and eternally desirable; the immortal is substituted for the mortal as basis and as structure, as object and as subject.
The fact of Adepts grasped, the fact of the Wisdom-Religion recognized, he only is in any real sense a Fellow of the real Theosophical Society who sets to work to perform the work of clearance standing in the way of his own realization of both. By the study of the wisdom-religion of these elder brothers, the adepts, says H.P.B., "science, theology, every human hypothesis and conception born of imperfect knowledge, lost forever their authoritative character" in her sight. The same must take place in the student, else the second and third objects of the Society have been misconstrued in their purpose by him, will fail of their mission with him, and the first object be as far-off as ever from realization by him. Unless this position is assumed it will still remain hidden from him, as she says it always has been hidden, "from those who overlooked it, derided it, or denied its existence." Encouragement is offered to prosecute the search and the effort, and the explanation made of her mission at this time in the words, "the day of domineering over men with dogmas has reached its gloaming. The drift of modern thought is palpably in the direction of liberalism in religion as well as in science. Each day brings the reactionists nearer to the point where they must surrender the despotic authority over the public conscience, which they have so long exercised and enjoyed."
Nevertheless, she well realized that all the forces of reaction, within as well as without the Society, would fight to the death against the hearing and the spread of the ideas she came to impart. So she says, prophetic at the time, facts of history now:
"To show that we do not at all conceal from ourselves the gravity of our undertaking, we may say in advance that it would not be strange if the following classes should array themselves against us:
"The Christians, who will see that we question the evidences of the genuineness of their faith.
"The scientists, who will find their pretensions placed in the same bundle with those of the Roman Catholic Church for infallibility, and, in certain particulars, the sages and philosophers of the ancient world classed higher than they.
"Pseudo-scientists will, of course, denounce us furiously.
"Broad Churchmen and Freethinkers will find that we do not accept what they do, but demand recognition of the whole truth.
"Men of letters and various authorities, who hide their real belief in deference to popular prejudices.
"The mercenaries and parasites of the Press, who prostitute its more than royal power, and dishonor a noble profession, will find it easy to mock at things too wonderful for them to understand; for to them the price of a paragraph is more than the value of sincerity. From many will come honest criticism; from many -- cant. But we look to the future. We repeat again -- we are laboring for the brighter morrow."
Once a clear apprehension is gained of what is actually implied in the "three objects" of the Theosophical Society, and of what is involved in the attempt to apply them, the student will have no difficulty in determining how absolutely dependent the Society was for its life and sustenance on the teachings imparted by H. P. Blavatsky, if it were not to fail utterly as a vehicle of Brotherhood, whatever other success it might incidentally achieve. The same understanding will make plain that external and internal difficulties were inseparable from its every effort toward even a measurable and partial realization of those objects. The effect upon the "spiritualists" has already been foreshadowed in a general way. Convinced as they were of the reality of metaphysical phenomena; multitudinous, conflicting and oftentimes grotesque as were the theories formulated or accepted to account for them, the "forces of reaction," that is to say, of preconception and bias, had already ascribed all these phenomena to the agency of "disembodied human spirits." When, then, philosophical principles and logical deductions, as well as the uninterrupted line of teaching of all the sages of the past, were applied to the manifestations, and it was pointed out that they could not proceed from the rational moral elements of once-living men, the spiritualists almost without exception rose in arms. They were all "looking for truth," but not in that direction.
One may soberly ask himself, after a careful study of "Isis Unveiled": What is there in that work but the conscientious, painstaking and stupendous presentation of facts, principles, arguments and analogies to explain consistently and irrefutably the source and rationale of the phenomena called spiritualistic? What is there to arouse the opposition, the anger, the malevolence of anyone, let alone one seeking truth "wherever it may be found" in regard to mysterious and ill-explained happenings -- happenings so recently brought to the attention of mankind in the mass that the three parts of that mankind reject as absurd and incredible the events themselves? Here is a metaphysical phenomenon worthy of the utmost consideration: the rejection of evidence and testimony from verifiable living sources in favor of the blind acceptance of unverifiable theories, speculations and "communications" at variance with the whole order of nature and the whole history of human experience. Madame Blavatsky was assailed and pursued by spiritualists with a persistency of misrepresentation equaled only by that of the religionists and pseudo-scientists of the day. Surely, if they had approached the séance-room and the medium in the same spirit that H.P.B.'s communications were received, they would, according to their own unvarying experience, have received nothing at all; yet what she had to say, when contrasted with the best that has ever been recorded from any "spirit," was a thousand times more logical, more consistent, more philosophical, more explanatory and more easily verifiable.
In the earlier years of the Society in the West the bulk of the opposition to its teachings came from the spiritualists. The teachings of H.P.B. were as yet so alien to rooted inherited ideas in religion and science that her Society attracted but little attention except among the spiritualists and hence the weight of the opposition came from the same quarter.
In India, where the conditions were altogether different, the obstacles arose from another source. There, in spite of the rigid sects and castes, the religious faith and philosophy of the people (apart from the Mohammedan element of the population), was deeply akin to the message the Founders had to bring. For they but brought back to the source the ancient teachings of the revered Rishis of old, stripped of their outward, human garments, the accretions of the millenniums of interpreters and priests. What they had to say appealed alike to Brahmin, Buddhist, Jain and Parsi, once the barriers of creedal exclusiveness were passed. In the earlier and precarious days the alliance hitherto formed by correspondence with the Swami, Dhyanand Saraswati, and his Arya-Somaj, was of the utmost assistance in this respect. A visit was made to Ceylon and there the Buddhist high-priest, Sumangali, a noble and enlightened man, received H.P.B. as a fellow devotee of the great founder of the Buddhist faith. He admitted Col. Olcott to membership in the Buddhist congregation and was at pains to favor their mission. A couple of years later Col. Olcott's "Buddhist Catechism" aided in producing a veritable revival of Buddhism and gained for him and his Society the enduring friendship, not only of enlightened Buddhists, but of the other faiths of the ancient East. Almost immediately after their arrival Col. Olcott began lecturing throughout India, and his clear expositions, his great tact, his intuitive understanding of and sympathy with the Oriental mind made the establishment of branches phenomenally successful.
Shortly after their arrival H.P.B. made the acquaintance of T. Subba Row, an orthodox Brahmin, a lawyer, a man of ability, immense erudition, and great influence among the native inhabitants. His friendship and attachment to the Society paved the way for many accessions. Damodar K. Mavalankar, a native Brahmin youth of high caste, met H.P.B. and recognizing in her his Guru, forsook family, fortune and all worldly prospects to become her devoted follower, pupil and servant. "The Theosophist" was founded by H.P.B. within less than a year after the arrival in India. Contributions were invited and obtained from native writers of ability and repute on the various subjects afforded by Eastern philosophy and religion, and these, with H.P.B.'s own articles, soon made of the magazine a forum which attracted attention far and wide.
These activities quickly drew the notice and aroused the ire of the missionaries of the various Christian sects established in India. Almost immediately rumors began to circulate that H.P.B. and Col. Olcott were disreputable characters, practically forced into exile from their own land. A sinister purpose was alleged to be behind their Society, and that purpose the overthrow of British rule in India. H.P.B. was said to be an immoral woman, a Russian spy, and Col. Olcott her dupe and her abetter. Nothing could have been better calculated to prejudice their mission, and nothing could have been more difficult to counteract and disprove. The Government set a watch upon their every movement and for many months the spies of the secret service dogged their every step. In the end, however, nothing of an objectionable nature was discovered, and Col. Olcott was able to submit to the central authorities indubitable documentary proof of the antecedent good character and repute of himself and his colleague. Fortunately, also, within the first year, the Founders met Mr. A. P. Sinnett, editor of the Allahabad "Pioneer," the official government organ, and Mr. Allan O. Hume, late secretary to the Government. Both of these gentlemen had been interested in spiritualistic manifestations, and learning something of the nature of H.P.B. and the scope of her teachings, became members of the Society and active in its behalf. They busied themselves in removing all misconceptions as to the nature and purpose of the Theosophical Society, the authorities became friendly, and the reaction was of positive benefit, for it speedily brought the Society to the favorable attention of many well-known English residents.
Other stories were circulated that H.P.B. and Col. Olcott were "godless," atheists as well as "infidels," and their purpose equally to destroy the Hindu religions as well as the Christian and make of India a land of materialism. The pages of "The Theosophist" as well as its "supplements" during the earlier years, show how unbrokenly and in what varied fashion the opposition to the Society and its teachings continued. One device was the importation of the Rev. Joseph Cook, then a widely known American clergyman and lecturer, who came to India ostensibly on a tour, but whose lectures were almost uniformly devoted to such misrepresentations of Theosophy, the Society and its Founders as would have done honor to a hired mercenary. He was repeatedly invited and challenged to meet the Theosophists in debate, but always avoided any such direct issue and comparison. Finally, he was publicly denounced in a signed card published by a British army officer, and thereafter speedily departed the country. A similar stratagem was employed in the case of the Rev. Moncure D. Conway, who, while in India, visited the headquarters and was cordially received there by H.P.B. He afterwards published articles in leading magazines of America and England in disparagement of Theosophy and the work of the Society and declared that H.P.B. had admitted to him in his interview with her that her phenomena were all "glamour," hence fraudulent. Once or twice, in unguarded moments, the assailants of the Theosophists laid themselves open to proceedings which enforced public retractions and apologies, but in general the assaults were too cunningly made to permit of redress or rebuttal. So much for the general course of antagonism to the Society's progress.
The first serious ripple within the Society occurred when Dr. George Wyld, President of the London Lodge, resigned his Fellowship and became extremely antagonistic. Dr. Wyld was a well-known and highly educated man, a Christian and a Spiritualist. When he came to learn that the teachings of H.P.B. were opposed to the theories of "spirit communion," and to all ideas savoring of a "personal God," he attacked her, her "Masters" and her Theosophy with equal violence.
Dr. Anna Bonus Kingsford then became President of the British Society. Though she remained friendly to H.P.B. and sympathetic toward the general objects of the Theosophical Society throughout her life, Dr. Kingsford had very pronounced ideas of her own. These are embodied in her work, "The Perfect Way, or the Finding of Christ," originally delivered as a series of lectures before a private audience during the summer of 1881, and published in book form in 1882. Herself a "psychic" and strongly colored with Christian mysticism, it appeared to Mrs. Kingsford that the Society was devoting too much attention to purely Oriental teachings, which she considered to be more or less anti-Christian and tainted with a materialistic bias. Together with Mr. E. Maitland (associated then as thereafter with her in her teachings), Dr. Kingsford issued in 1883 a pamphlet "Letter to the Fellows of the London Lodge," containing a severe arraignment of some of the statements embodied in Mr. Sinnett's "Esoteric Buddhism." A good deal of more or less acrimonious discussion followed and finally, very early in 1884, T. Subba Row published, with the approval of Madame Blavatsky, a pamphlet for private circulation among the Fellows. This pamphlet contained some "Observations" on the various questions raised and in it Mr. Subba Row discussed the general teachings as outlined in "Esoteric Buddhism." He defended the book as a whole, while admitting the justice of some of the criticisms, which he explained by reciting Mr. Sinnett's unfamiliarity with the Occult tenets, and by correcting some of Mr. Sinnett's erroneous deductions and expositions. To Subba Row's pamphlet in turn Mr. C. C. Massey gave attention in a 70-page booklet bearing the title, "The Metaphysical Basis of Esoteric Buddhism." Mr. Massey's booklet was on the whole an ably argued support of the position taken by Dr. Kingsford, and, in addition, embodied some criticisms and complaints on his own account of Madame Blavatsky's policy. He charged her with teaching, first one thing and then another on the same subject, and of countenancing opposing views propounded by her pupils and followers. In due sequence, also, Mrs. Kingsford and Mr. Maitland returned to the fray and published a "Reply" to Subba Row, reiterating and further fortifying their earlier criticisms and objections.
Mr. Massey's charges against H.P.B. really originated from an article in "The Theosophist." As early as June, 1882, she had published certain questions addressed to her by "Caledonian Theosophist" on the apparent lack of consistency and uniformity of some of the statements in "Isis Unveiled" with later articles in "The Theosophist" supposedly emanating from the same source. To these queries, published under the title of "Seeming 'Discrepancies'," H.P.B. had replied in an Editorial Note, closing her explanation with the words: "But there never was, nor can there be, any radical discrepancy between the teachings in 'Isis' and those of this later period, as both proceed from one and the same source -- the ADEPT BROTHERS." In the English Spiritualist publication "Light," for July 8, 1882, "C.C.M." (C. C. Massey) took up "seeming discrepancies" and more or less directly charged H.P.B. with equivocation in her reply to "Caledonian Theosophist," and instanced that in "Isis" the subject of Reincarnation was treated in a manner not reconcilable with her later writings on the same topic. To this challenge H.P.B. replied in "The Theosophist" for August, 1882, denying any contradictions in teachings, but stating that much in "Isis" was preliminary and special only, therefore incomplete, but not in actual conflict with anything subsequently given out. Various other articles appeared thereafter in "Light," in "The Theosophist," and in other publications in English and in French on this mooted subject of the Theosophical doctrines on "reincarnation," with arguments, speculations, charges and counter-claims by different writers, but H.P.B. held her peace, and not until 1886 did she break silence on the much discussed passages in "Isis," Volume I, pp. 346-351 et circa. This will be considered in its proper sequence.
Another fruitful occasion for external attack and internal disturbance arose out of the publication of Mr. Sinnett's book, "The Occult World." This work contains extracts from letters of the Master K.H. to Mr. Sinnett and an unnamed friend who was, in fact, Mr. A. O. Hume. In one of these letters the Master took occasion to refer to spiritualistic ideas and theories. In 1883 Mr. Henry Kiddle, a highly reputable and well-known American lecturer on Spiritualism, published in "Light" a communication in which he claimed and proved that Mr. Sinnett's published extract was in large part made up of unacknowledged quotations from an address of Mr. Kiddle's delivered in the summer of 1880 (a year prior to the publication of "The Occult World") before a Spiritualist camp-meeting at Mount Pleasant, New York. He published in "deadly parallel" the germane portions of his address as printed at the time in several papers, and the quotations from the "Master's letter" in "The Occult World." Mr. Kiddle's letter was, of course, very widely copied in Spiritualist publications and the secular press, and numerous spiritualists and other commentators made merry over the discomfiture of the Theosophists. The vaunted "Adepts," it seemed, were not above stooping to "borrow" without credit from ordinary human exponents of doctrines these "Masters" professed to consider erroneous and false. In many quarters the episode was quite sincerely believed to be not only proof of plagiarism, but a complete exposure of H.P.B. and her pretended Adepts. The existence of Masters and of a Wisdom-Religion was derided; they were ascribed to the inventive imagination of Madame Blavatsky by some and by others called as much a plagiarism from the ideas of Éliphas Lévi as the "Master's letter" was a plagiarism from Mr. Kiddle. The faith of the Theosophists in the good faith of H.P.B., in the source of her teachings, and in her teachings, was considered to rest upon a basis more unsubstantial and more discreditable than the belief of the spiritualists in their mediums, their "guides" and "controls." Madame Blavatsky's phenomenal powers were either laughed at as mere humbugging devices or ascribed to the same character as mediumship. The defenders of the orthodox sects and the disbelievers in psychical manifestations of any kind made haste to avail themselves of the ammunition provided by Mr. Kiddle's "revelation," and used it with equal zeal to discredit both the Theosophists and the Spiritualists. Much feeling grew up out of the "Kiddle incident" and much of whatever amicable relations existed between the various spiritualist and theosophical exponents was dissipated by it. In the Theosophical Society, and among those friendly to it, a good deal of doubt sprang up, on the theory that where there was so much smoke there must be some fire. H.P.B. remained silent as the proverbial sphinx, but in time several cautiously worded articles appeared in "The Theosophist" and in other friendly publications, from Subba Row and others, defending the bona fides of Mr. Sinnett, of the Masters, and testifying from personal physical as well as psychical relations with them to the actual existence of Adepts as living and perfected men, with phenomenal powers over space, time and matter. Subba Row's article, in particular, contained some guarded statements on the subject of the "precipitation" of "occult letters." He also referred to the manifest discrepancies in the extracts published in "The Occult World," as indicating that in the process of "precipitation" some mistakes of omission or of commission had occurred. This article also was widely commented on, and the explanations hinted at were accepted of course by Theosophists with relief, by a few others with reserve, but for the most part by antagonists with sarcastic comments on the ex post facto nature of the explanations. Finally, in 1884, in the fourth edition of "The Occult World," Mr. Sinnett added an Appendix containing the Master's own reply to his letter of inquiry on the subject. The explanation given was received by many as not only wholly satisfactory in itself, but as containing some most valuable hints on occult processes; and by others as merely a further effort on the part of the Theosophists to extricate themselves from an embarrassing situation. As the "Kiddle incident" the matter has long since been forgotten or has never been heard of by present-day students, but it has an important bearing on the "Coulomb case," on the "Report" of the Society for Psychical Research, on the charges made a decade later against Mr. Judge, and on the whole subject of the phenomena of "precipitation," and the so-called "Occult letters." We shall treat the matter more fully at a later period of the Theosophical Movement.
The troubles over the Kiddle matter, the charges of contradictory teachings on the subject of "reincarnation," the disputes existing in the London Lodge as a result of the broadsides of pamphlets on the materialistic trend of "Esoteric Buddhism," occurred contemporaneously and were added to by sharp dissensions among the French Fellows. Practically all the members of the Society in France were Spiritualists, and believers in "reincarnation" and other subjects as developed by Allan Kardec. As the Theosophical teachings were at variance, both in theory and practice, with the Kardec philosophy, the zeal of the proponents of the respective views threatened to disrupt the Paris Lodge as well as the British. These and other reasons impelled H.P.B. and Col. Olcott to make a visit to Europe. They accordingly sailed from India early in 1884. The Paris difficulties were first adjusted and a new impetus given both to the Society and the Movement. It was while at Paris on this occasion that V. V. Solovyoff sought and made the acquaintance of H.P.B., became a Fellow of the Society and, for the time being, an assiduous worker and student. Mr. Judge had come over from America to meet the Founders. He spent some time with H.P.B. in France and then went on to India, returning to America via London, where he met Col. Olcott again, late in the year. After their Paris stay H.P.B. and Col. Olcott proceeded to London. Much time and effort were given to straightening out the difficulties in the London and Paris lodges, to meeting the Fellows of the Society, and in receptions to inquirers. An immense interest was excited by the presence in England of H.P.B., and it was at this time -- the summer of 1884 -- that the Society for Psychical Research began its investigations of the Theosophical phenomena. To this we must now turn our attention.
(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:
FROM THE SECRET DOCTRINE(2)
... Believers in, and the defenders of, the Secret Doctrine, however, will have to bear the accusation of madness and worse, as philosophically as for long years already the writer has done. Whenever a Theosophist is taxed with insanity, he ought to reply by quoting from Montesquieu's "Lettres Persanes." "By opening so freely their lunatic asylums to their supposed madmen, men only seek to assure each other that they are not themselves mad."
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 6 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(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. I, p. 676; see Vol. I, pp. 739-740 Third Edition.
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