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(p. 138)





IN his preface to Esoteric Buddhism, Mr. Sinnett expressed himself respecting our work as follows: –


            “Let me add that I do not regard myself as the sole exponent for the outer world, at this crisis, of esoteric truth. These teachings are the final outcome, as regards philosophical knowledge, of the relations with the outer world which have been established by the custodians of esoteric truth, through me. And it is only regarding the acts and intentions of those esoteric teachers who have chosen to work through me that I can have any certain knowledge. But, in different ways, some other writers are engaged in expounding for the benefit of the world – and, as I believe, in accordance with a great plan, of which this volume is a part – the same truths, in different aspects, that I am commissioned to unfold. A remarkable book, published within the last year or two, The Perfect Way, may be specially mentioned as showing how more roads than one may lead to a mountain-top. The inner inspirations of The Perfect Way appear to me identical with the philosophy that I have learned. The symbols in which those inspirations are clothed, in my opinion, I am bound to add, are liable to mislead the student; but this is a natural consequence of the circumstances under which the inner inspiration has been received. Far more important and interesting to me than the discrepancies between the teachings of The Perfect Way and my own are the identities that may be traced between the clear scientific explanations now conveyed to me, on the plane of the physical intellect, and the ideas which manifestly underlie those communicated on an altogether different system to the authors of the book I mention. These identities are a great deal too close to be the result either of coincidence or parallel speculation.”


            Esoteric Buddhism was, then, the book which, as the chiefs of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, we were bound to study, and upon which, as the writers of The Perfect Way, we were equally bound to pass judgment, and this not for the sake merely of the members of the Society, but for the sake of our own work, and for the vindication before the world of the teaching committed to us, and which we knew of ourselves to be true,

(p. 139)

while – as the writer of Esoteric Buddhism frankly admitted – he was entirely dependent for his knowledge upon teachers of whom he had no personal knowledge, but whom, nevertheless, he had learnt to trust implicitly.

            Such being the position, our course seemed to us to be clear. This was to ignore persons, and judge the doctrine on its own sole merits, making appeal only to the understanding. Having ourselves insisted on the possibility of man’s attainment of knowledges and powers even transcending those claimed for the Eastern Adepts, we were by no means averse to the idea that such persons may actually exist. But there was no sufficient evidence of their existence, or of the possession by those who asserted their existence of the ability to recognise them, even in the case of contact with them. For, as only they who possess the Christ-Spirit in a measure can recognise the Christ, so only they who are themselves adepts in a measure can recognise the Adept. And even if the teaching in question really came from the source alleged, what guarantee was there that it had not undergone in transmission a change sufficient to vitiate it? Our own position in regard to the current Christianity was that the Church had all the truth, having received it from a Divine source, but that the priests had materialised it, making themselves and their followers idolaters. (1) And might not the same thing have happened with the teaching now propounded, and this while its propounders were acting in the best faith, owing to the lack of spiritual insight on the part of the recipients? The very designation, Esoteric Buddhism, moreover, was open to grave question. And there was the further consideration, that to accept it upon authority, and independently of the understanding, would be but to establish a new sacerdotalism in place of that which we and they alike sought to dethrone.

            And, indeed, it very soon became evident that matters were not only in danger of tending in this direction, but had already gone far in it. The idea of a group of divinised men, dwelling high up in the fastnesses of the Himalayas, and endowed with transcendent knowledges and powers, possessed a fascination for all but the strongest heads; and that many had succumbed to the glamour of the supposed “Mahatmas,” as the adept masters were called,

(p. 140)

was evidenced by their readiness to accept implicitly all that was put forward in their name, even to resenting as blasphemous the suggestion of need for caution and deliberation, and their refusal to recognise the presence of an esoteric element in Christianity corresponding to that which was claimed for Buddhism.

            There was also much in the tone and character of the publications issued from the headquarters of the parent Society in India of which we disapproved as not only calculated to impair the credit of the Society with the public, but as harmful in itself and incompatible with its real aims. For, while we recognised the Society as at once representing high aims and possessed of invaluable knowledges, we were compelled to recognise the presence of other and conflicting elements which, unless eliminated, would assuredly wreck the whole movement. This is to say that, although, owing to the heterogeneous nature of its elements, chiefly as regarded the personalities of its foremost representatives, it was but a chaos, we discerned in it the possibilities of a kosmos, provided only those elements could be duly redeemed from their limitations and fused into harmonious accord. For us its promoters were as children who, having become possessed of a valuable instrument which they were as yet incapable of appreciating, were in danger of destroying it through the exuberance of their child-nature, and their consequent disposition to play with it, instead of setting seriously to work to apply it to its proper uses.

            In view of these objections, “Mary” addressed the following letter of remonstrance to Colonel Olcott in his capacity of President of the Parent Society. (1)


LONDON LODGE, October 31, 1883.

            “DEAR SIR AND BROTHER, – It gives me great pleasure to address you officially for the first time, as President of the British Theosophical Society. This letter must do duty as a delegate from our Lodge to your Anniversary Meeting of December, it being impracticable to send you any one of our brethren as a representative.

            “I venture, therefore, to ask that you will permit me, as chief of your British Fellows, to lay first before you in your official capacity, and subsequently before the readers of the Theosophist, a brief resumé of what I believe to be the right aim and method of our work in future, and the wisest policy possible to our Society.

(p. 141)

            “I have read with interest, and hail with joy, the evidence published in the October number of your Journal (pp. 10 and 11 of Supplement) of a rapprochement between the Theosophical Society of India and the Christian Mission established in that country.

            “To me, personally, it has always been a matter of regret that in attacking the orthodox presentation of Christianity, your Society has hitherto been hardly careful to guard itself against the imputation of antagonism to the essential mysteries of that religion.

            “In my inaugural address, delivered at the Soirée, held by the London Lodge last July, (1) – an account of which is given on p. 4 of the Supplement to the October Theosophist, – I endeavoured to put before our Fellows and our guests what I hold to be the true attitude of Theosophy towards all the great popular creeds of past and present; and I was gratified to hear read quite unexpectedly in the course of Mr. Sinnett’s subsequent discourse, a letter from one of the Indian adepts, in which my own view was emphatically endorsed and ratified. The writer said: –

            “‘Once delivered from the dead weight of dogmatic interpretations and anthropomorphic conceptions, the fundamental doctrines of all religions will be found to be identical in their esoteric meaning. Osiris, Chrishna, Buddha, Christ, will be shown as different means for one and the same highway to final bliss. Mystical Christianity, that is to say, that Christianity which teaches self-redemption through one’s own seventh principle, – the liberated Para-atma or Augoeides, called by the one, Christ, by the other, Buddha, and equivalent to regeneration or rebirth in spirit – will be just the same truth as the Nirvâna of Buddhism.’

            “These are wide and far-seeing words, and ought to sound for us the keynote of our policy and aims, especially in regard to the work of the Society in Christian lands like England and France. It is not by wholly setting aside and rejecting names and symbols hallowed by familiar use among our people from their birth as a nation that we shall create for ourselves the largest sphere of usefulness. It is not so much the revelation of a new religious system that is needed here as a true interpretation of the religion now existing.

            “In the country in which your labours are conducted, you are undoubtedly right in adopting as your platform the exposition of that form and system of doctrine which is indigenous to the race and soil of India. The terms you employ, the names of the various deities, principles, and conditions, etc., to which continual allusion is made, whether in the pages of the Theosophist or in your own oral addresses, are familiar to the mass of your Oriental readers and hearers. But in this quarter of the world they are meaningless and unintelligible, save to a few – a very few – students of Asiatic literature. Most of us, in reading such expositions, skip the terms and names unfamiliar to us, and lose, of course, utterly, the force of their interpretation. Not knowing their exoteric acceptation, it is impossible for us to appreciate the demonstration of their esoteric value.

            “And if this be the case with Fellows of the Society, it is easy to

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judge of the insuperable difficulties which such reading must present to those who are altogether strangers to our system and design. It is too much to ask English-speaking people, with but little leisure, to devote the necessary time, toil, and trouble to the study of a foreign language and theology as a preliminary to the explanation of problems which are related to that theology, and which do not immediately involve or concern their own, so far as they can see. Much more, the mysteries of existence, which underlie all religious structures, ought to be expounded in familiar terms, as well to Occidental as to Eastern inquirers, without need of recourse to foreign epithets or reference to processes which, to the Western mind, must necessarily be so obscure and difficult of comprehension, as to repel it from the serious consideration such matters demand.

            “Orthodox Christianity, both in Catholic and in Protestant countries, is languishing on account of a radical defect in its method, – to wit, the exoteric and historical sense in which, exclusively, its dogmas are taught and enforced. It should be the task of Theosophy in these countries to convert the material – and therefore idolatrous – interpretation of the ancestral faith and doctrine into a spiritual one; to lift the plane of the Christian creed from the exoteric to the esoteric level, and thus, without touching a stone or displacing a beam of the holy city, to carry it all up intact from earth to heaven. Such a transmutation, such a translation as this, would at once silence the objections and accusations now legitimately and reasonably brought by thinkers, scholars, and scientists against ecclesiastical teaching. For it would lift Religion into its only proper sphere; it would enfranchise the concerns and interests of the Soul from the bondage of the Letter and the Form, of Time and of Criticism, and thus from the harassing and always ineffectual endeavour to keep pace with the flux and reflux of material speculation and scientific discovery.

            “Nor is the task thus proposed by any means a hard one. It needs but to be demonstrated, first, that the dogmas and central figures of Christianity are identical with those of all other past and present religious systems – a demonstration already largely before the world; next, that these dogmas being manifestly untrue and untenable in a material sense, and these figures clearly unhistorical, their true plane is to be sought not where hitherto it has been the endeavour of the Church to find them – in the sepulchre of tradition, among the dry bones of the Past, but rather in the living and immutable Heaven to which we, who truly desire to find the ‘Lord,’ must in heart and mind ascend.


“‘Why seek ye the Living among the dead?

He is not here, He is risen.’


            “Lastly, it should be demonstrated that these events and personages, hitherto wrongly supposed to be purely historical, accurately represent the processes and principles concerned in interior development, and respond perfectly to the definite and eternal needs of the human Ego. And that thus the Initiate has no quarrel with the true Christian religion or with its symbolism, but only with the current orthodox interpretation of that religion and symbolism. For he

(p. 143)

knows that it is in the noumenal and not in the phenomenal world, on the spiritual, not on the material plane, that he must look for the whole process of the Fall, the Exile, the Immaculate Conception, the Incarnation, the Passion, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and the Coming of the Holy Spirit. And any mode of interpretation which implies other than this, is not celestial but terrene, and due to that intrusion of earthy elements into things divine, that conversion of the inner into the outer, that materialisation of the Spiritual, which constitutes idolatry.

            “For, such of us as know and live the inner life are saved, not by any Cross on Calvary eighteen hundred years ago, not by any physical blood-shedding, not by any vicarious passion of tears and scourge and spear; but by the Christ Jesus, the God with us, the Immanuel of the heart, born and working mighty works, and offering oblation in our own lives, in our own persons, redeeming us from the world and making us sons of God and heirs of everlasting life. (1)

            “It is because I earnestly desire to rescue the Divine and lovely teaching of Christianity from the abyss of anthropomorphism, idolatry, and contempt, that I have deprecated with fervour the apparent endorsement given by the Theosophist to the coarse and ignorant ribaldry with which these teachings are befouled by such writers as the authors of certain anti-Christian tracts. These persons are materialists of the grossest type, and their indecent onslaughts on Christian faith and doctrine are wholly devoid of intelligence and learning. They are ignorant of the very alphabet of the sacred tongue in which are written the Mysteries they presume to criticise and vilify. It is no love for orthodoxy, nor desire to spare it, that calls forth from me this protest. Bigotry and religious exclusivism are intolerable to me; such movements and demonstrations as that afforded by the ‘Salvation Army’ are to me the very type of the abomination that maketh desolate. But it is inconsistent with the whole end and aim of Theosophy – the Science of the Divine – that it should lend its countenance to the desecration of Divine things, and to the dissemination of shallow witticisms and flippant suggestions bordering on the obscene. Many of the men who perpetrate these attacks on the Christian mysteries are upholders of the worst cruelties of materialism; the special organ of their school advocates Vivisection and Malthusianism, and pleads the lowest utilities and the most sensual enjoyments as a sufficient vindication of practices alike repugnant to justice, to morality, and to the highest interests of the race. Surely our Society would wish its fair fame cleared of the suspicion of approving such views of Man’s destiny and place in Nature as their teachings imply.

            “Confident as I am that the idea I have thus ventured to put forward of the attitude which our Society ought to take in respect of Christian doctrine, will meet with the approbation of those highest in authority among you, I venture to add a few words on a kindred subject affecting the direction to be taken, in this country above all, in regard to what I may fairly call the Theosophical creed. That creed should be essentially spiritual, and all its articles should relate to interior conditions, principles, and processes. It should be based

(p. 144)

upon experimental knowledge, not on authority, and its central figures should be attributes, qualities, and sacraments (mysteries), not persons, nor events, however great or remarkable. For persons and events belong to time and to the phenomenal, while principles and processes are eternal and noumenal. The historical method has been the bane of the Churches. Let Theosophy and Theosophists remember that history and individual entities must be ever regarded by them as constituting the accidental, and not the essential element in a system which aims at repairing the errors of the theologians, by reconstituting the Mysteries on a scientific and intelligent basis.

            “Suffer me, in conclusion, to expound for your readers’ meditation a certain passage in the Christian evangel (1) which has hitherto been supposed to bear a meaning purely circumstantial, but which, in the light of the interpretative method, appears to carry a signification closely related to the work which I trust to see inaugurated under the auspices of a truly Catholic Theosophy.

            “‘And it came to pass that as the multitudes pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesareth.

            “‘And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets.

            “‘And going into one of the ships, that was Simon’s, He desired him to draw back a little from the land. And sitting, He taught the multitudes out of the ship.

            “‘Now when He had ceased to speak, He said to Simon: Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

            “‘And Simon answering said to Him: Master, we have laboured all the night, and have taken nothing: but at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a very great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners that were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came and filled both the ships, so that they were almost sinking.

            “‘Which when Simon Peter saw, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying: Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

            “‘For he was wholly astonished and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.

            “‘And so were also James and John the sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners.

            “‘And Jesus saith to Simon: Fear not: from henceforth thou shalt catch men.’

            “In this parable the Christ standing by the water-side is the Logos, the Word of God, and the lake by which He stands is the Psychic element, the soul of the Macrocosm and Microcosm (Gennesareth, the Garden of God). Beside these spiritual waters there are two ships, but they are empty; their owners have gone out of them and are washing their nets. These empty ships are the two ancient parent Churches of East and West, the Oriental and the Pagan. At the time of the re-birth of the Mysteries under the Christian dispensation, both these Churches were barren and vacated, the life and vital power which once thundered from their Sinais and Olympuses were

(p. 145)

dead and gone out of them, the glory of their ancient oracles and hierarchies was no more, the nets with which they once had caught the Gnosis and spiritual graces needed cleansing and renovation; the vivifying Spirits or Angels which had animated these two Churches had forsaken their shrines.

            “And the Christ, the Word, entered into one of them, which was Peter’s, and desired him to thrust out a little from the land. The ship into which the Christian Logos thus entered at its outset was undoubtedly the Pagan Church, which had its headquarters at Rome. It can be proved from monumental evidence and from the writings of the Fathers (see, inter alia, Monumental Christianity, by Presbyter Lundy), that the new faith, whose epiphany must have been at Alexandria, adopted from its earliest age the symbols, the rites, and the ceremonials of the expiring pagan system, incorporating them into its own Mysteries, endowing them with new vitality, and thus perpetuating and preserving them almost intact to our own times.

            “Peter is the universally accepted representative of the Genius of Rome. Peter’s ship is the Roman Church of this day, even as the ship of Janus was in pre-Christian times the appropriate symbol of Pagan Rome. Peter is the opener and shutter of the Gates of the Church, even as Janus was of the portals of heaven. It is, therefore, into this Pagan Church of Rome that the Logos enters, and prays its Genius to thrust out a little from the land. Now, in sacred allegory, the ‘land’ or earth is always a figure for the bodily element, as opposed to water, or the soul. It represents Matter, and the material plane and affinities.

            “We see, then, that the Word, or ‘Christ,’ demanded in this first age of the Christian dispensation the partial spiritualisation of the existing Church, – demanded the basis of doctrine and dogma to be shifted from the mere dry earthy bottom of materialism and hero-worship on which it had become stranded, to the more appropriate element of ethical religion, the province of the soul, – not yet, however, far removed from the shallows of literalism and dogma. This done, the Word abides in the renovated Church, and, for a time, teaches the people from its midst.

            “Then comes the age which is now upon us, the age in which the Logos ceases to speak in the Christian Church; and the injunction is given to the Angel of the Church: – Launch out into the deep and let down your net for a draught. Quit the very shores and coasts of materialism, give up the accessories of human tradition which, in this era of science, are both apt to offend and so to narrow your horizon as to prevent you from reaping your due harvest of truth; abandon all appeals to mere historical exegesis, and launch out into the deeps of a purely spiritual and metaphysical element. Recognise this, and this alone henceforward, as the true and proper sphere of the Church.

            “And the Apostle of the Church answers, Master, all through the dark ages, the mediaeval times in which superstition and sacerdotalism reigned supreme and unquestioned – the night of Christendom, – we toiled in vain; the Church acquired no real light, she gained no solid truth or living knowledges. But now, at last, at thy word, she shall launch out into the deep of thought, and let down her net for a draught.

(p. 146)

            “And a mighty success is prophesied to follow this change in the method and system of religious doctrine. The net of the Church encloses a vast multitude of mystic truths and knowledges – more even than a single Church is able to deal with. Their number and importance are such that the Apostles or Hierarchs of the Christian Church find themselves well-nigh overwhelmed by the wealth of the treasury they have laid open. They call in the aid of the ancient Oriental Church, with its Angels, to bear an equal hand in the labours of spiritualisation, the diffusion of truth, the propaganda of the Divine Gnosis, and the triumph of esoteric Religion. Henceforth the toilers in the two Churches of East and West are partners; the Vedas and the Tripitakas find their interpretation in the same language and by the same method as the Christian evangel; Chrishna, Buddha, and Christ are united, and a true Brotherhood – a true Eirenicon – is preached to men.

            “From that day forth, the Church Catholic and Christian need have no fear, for she shall indeed ‘catch men.’

            “And so, dear partner and fellow-fisherman of the Oriental Church, suffer me to remain, fraternally yours,




            Our dissent from Mr. Sinnett’s book, and our altitude towards the alleged “Masters,” produced in the Society a feeling which called forth the following letter from Mary: –


“THE VICARAGE, ATCHAM, November 2, 1883.

            “DEAR MADAME DE STEIGER, – l do not know what view you may have taken of the manifestation of feeling elicited at last Lodge meeting by the reading of my Letter. I can only say that, for some reason or other unknown to me, you all took a view of that Letter which was certainly not in my mind when l wrote it. I never dreamed of disparaging the Brothers, nor of imputing that I did not believe in them. But you must be aware that experience has shown the folly of the course pursued in the latter half of last season by Mr. Sinnett, of dragging the names of the Brothers forward into undue prominence, and so making our Society ridiculous in the eyes of the world and of the press, so that in more than one paper we have been held up to public ridicule, as followers of a company of ‘Indian jugglers,’ on ‘whose alleged feats’ we have built our whole system. It is deplorable that we should figure thus before the public. Yet this statement actually occurred in a leading article of the Standard at the close of this summer. Mr. Sinnett dislikes my being President for reasons of his own, and if I were to retire would not be slow to accept the vacant Chair. A hint is enough on this matter. The fact is patent to all who have eyes to see. Following his lead, you have, most of you, read into my address a meaning I had not the least wish to convey, and I am heartily sorry so many of my friends should so much have misunderstood me. Mr. C.C. Massey, at whose lead, as you know, I first joined the T.S. and became your President, under what we all then thought such happy auspices, is coming up to town specially to be present at Sunday’s meeting,

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the 4th, and to do his best to break down the cabal raised against me. I hope you will support him, and I hope also that others of my friends will do likewise. Can you manage to get a little private conversation with Mr. Massey before the meeting, and exchange ideas with him? You will then learn exactly what it is he proposes to do. I have written him a letter to read at the meeting. Mr. Sinnett will doubtless propose to call on me to retire from the Chair and from the Society; because this is his policy. Do not be misled by him. Both Madame Blavatsky and ‘Mahatma K.H.’ himself are, I have reason to believe, anxious to retain me as President. I had a long and cordial letter from Madame B. herself yesterday, with a kindly message from ‘K.H.’ I feel sure they would all be grieved to hear I was displaced. – Yours affectionately,



“ATCHAM VICARAGE, November 5, 1883.

            “DEAR MME. DE STEIGER, – In thanking you for your letter, which is, I suppose, a fair exposition of the present views of the London Lodge T.S., it would not be honest in me to leave you without a clear statement of my position in the matter that has arisen between us.

            “(1) When I was invited to join the Society, I was emphatically and distinctly told that no allegiance would be required of me to the ‘Mahatmas,’ to Mme. Blavatsky, or to any other person real or otherwise, but only to Principles and Objects.

            “(2) Consequently, I am no traitor to the express conditions on which I entered the Society when I say that I neither owe nor do I acknowledge the allegiance which now appears to be required of me to persons of whose existence and claims I am utterly unable to affirm or deny anything positively.

            “(3) If, then, it is the deliberate opinion of the whole Lodge – which it certainly was not six months ago – that it ‘must have a President whose allegiance to the Mahatmas is sans peur et sans reproche,’ then I certainly am not, from the nature of things, fitted to occupy your Chair. And I do not see how anyone can occupy it, on such terms, who is not, of his own personal experience, in a position to testify to the existence and claims of the ‘Brothers.’ This even Mr. Sinnett cannot do, as he only knows them ‘through a glass darkly, and not face to face.’

            “(4) I cannot consent to pose before the world in the absurd position of a person claiming to act on principles of exact knowledge and scientific methods, who has abandoned the platform of Historical Christianity because its so-called events and personages are impossible of verification, and who yet accepts as indubitable another set of events and personages the evidence for which is meagre and unsatisfactory in a degree surpassing even that of Historical Christianity. All that is affirmed may be true; but I am not in a position to know of its truth, and cannot therefore say I believe it, or disbelieve it.

            “The utmost I can say in the present matter is – and this I say cordially – that I am heartily willing and anxious to hear all that comes to us from the East, with serious attention, provided I am not called upon to connect it with subservience to any personal

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authority claiming my belief and confidence as a duty; and provided also that I may fairly and freely criticise what I hear, and test it by reason and experience.

            “(5) Madame Blavatsky calls the ‘Mahatmas’ Masters. Her experience and evidence may justify this epithet for her, but they do not justify me in using it. I do not, therefore, and will not, apply that term to any earthly being soever.

            “I may add that it is not I who seek to separate Esoteric Buddhism from Esoteric Christianity. First, the system expounded by Mr. Sinnett is not – so far as I can see – esoteric at all, being simply a scheme of transcendental physics; and, secondly, he is deliberately seeking to silence every other voice but that of the ‘Mahatmas.’ If there is to be unification and brotherhood, there must be equality. It now seems to me that I am the only representative of Christian doctrine left among you!

            “In conclusion, I would like to add that, personally, I sincerely thank Dr. Wyld for the criticisms he has from time to time contributed to Light on the subject of Mr. Sinnett’s book. I think he is a wholesome check upon extravagances and assumptions which, but for the timely part he plays, might land some of us in abject fetishism. – Always affectionately yours,



            Meanwhile, with a view to the vindication of our own position in regard to [Mr. Sinnett’s] Esoteric Buddhism, we wrote a pamphlet in two parts [the two parts covering twenty-nine pages], the first of which (1) was by Mary, and the second (2) by myself, addressed to the London Lodge. (3) In her part of it, after recapitulating the circumstances under which we had been induced to join the Society, and citing some passages from the address delivered by her at the Princes’ Hall meeting, (4) she said: –


            “I had not at that time had an opportunity of carefully and critically studying the work to which Mr. Sinnett has put his name, and which had then but just issued from the press, nor had it occurred to me that the system set forth in that work was intended by its compilers to supplant every other and to monopolise for themselves the exclusive allegiance of the Theosophical Society. Had I been in the least degree apprehensive of such pretensions as these, I could not have spoken as I did in introducing Mr. Sinnett to the public. But the attitude subsequently assumed by him as

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the apostle of this system, the positive prohibition laid upon any expression of dissent from or criticism of it, or of its supreme authority, and the tone taken respecting certain attempts of my own to stem the current of a tide that appeared to me likely to lead us into an undesirable channel, induced me to give to Esoteric Buddhism a more special examination than I had hitherto bestowed on it.

            “This study, shared by Mr. Maitland, resulted in the abstract of its doctrine appended to this Preface, (1) to which abstract I shall add only a few remarks of my own: –

            “It may not be generally known that those points in Esoteric Buddhism which are really attractive to students of metaphysical philosophy are not by any means peculiar to the doctrine of the school introduced to us by Mr. Sinnett, but are derived mainly from an Oriental system older even than Buddhism itself, of which in some measure it was the basis, that of Kapila, known as the Sânkhya. This philosophy affirms two primary principles, Purusha (soul or spirit), and Prakriti (essential substance). Prakriti is the primary root from which are produced what Kapila calls the ‘seven productive principles’ not as external resultants, but as modifications of the pre-subsistent principle itself. These are: (1) Buddhi, or Mahat, the Great one, or supreme Mind. (2) Ahankara, or self-consciousness, the individual ego; and these two alone are indestructible in their nature. The other five principles are the ‘subtile rudiments,’ the ground of outer personality and of cognition. Of these seven principles, Buddhi is defined as the seat of virtue, knowledge, and power, power being defined as the subjugation of Nature.

            “Here, in inverted order, is the exact classification given in Esoteric Buddhism, a classification with which, in its original order and purity, I am far from wishing to find fault, since it is precisely that followed by all esoteric doctrine. But the inversion it has suffered at the hands of those who have taken it from the Sânkhya is profoundly significant, and due to the fact that, as I shall presently show, they have given to the root-principle – Prakriti – a meaning quite other than that intended by Kapila’s doctrine.

            “Again, all the theories of Karma, of transmigration, of evolution in obedience to law, of Nirvâna, of Avitchi, of the devachanic and astral states, have been presented to us over and over again in Vedantic, Buddhist, Bhagavat, Hermetic, and even Christian theosophy, so that for these no originality can be claimed. And in this fact, indeed, lies their value and importance; wherefore I again emphatically disclaim any wish to disparage them as true doctrine.

            “Further, with regard to the passage of souls from planet to planet, this doctrine, of which traces may be found in many Western theosophies, was accepted in popular Buddhist schools, and is thus formulated in Colonel Olcott’s Catechism, issued under the sanction of the Southern Church, which differs radically from the Thibetan section whence Mr. Sinnett’s teaching is derived, and which, according to Colonel Olcott’s own statement, has produced no ‘adepts’ and no so-called ‘esoteric’ doctrine: –

            “(I translate from the French edition, p. 41.)

(p. 150)

            “‘Q. Does Buddhism teach that man is reborn only on our earth?’

            “‘A. No. We learn that the inhabited worlds are innumerable. It is the preponderance of individual merit or demerit which determines the world in which a person is to be reborn, as well as the nature of the reincarnation. In other words, the ulterior lot is, as science would say, influenced by anterior attractions.

            “‘Q. Are some of these worlds more perfect and developed than our earth, and others less so?

            “‘A. So Buddhism teaches, and also that the inhabitants of every world have a development corresponding to the condition of that world.’

            “I venture to submit that this doctrine is far more in accord with the suggestions of scientific and spiritual thought, cognisant and considerate of the innumerable and subtile differentiations and potencies of human character, than the mathematical precision of the clock-work arrangement invoked by Mr. Sinnett’s mechanical system.

            “Be this as it may, it is once more evident that the doctrine in question is the property of the Buddhist Church at large, and is not now unveiled for the first time by the ‘adepts’ of the North.

            “There appear, however, to be good grounds for believing that the elaborate scheme presented to us in the name of the latter, of a ‘planetary chain’ of physical globes, has its real origin in an entirely metaphysical and esoteric doctrine – one of the profoundest and most beautiful of the subtile Buddhist theosophy. In the course of spiritual progress towards Nirvâna, Buddhism teaches that the Saint must pass through four dhyanas, or mental stages of abstraction, known as ‘worlds of form’; and after these, through certain still more interior conditions of pure thought, or ‘formless worlds,’ the last of which is Nirvâna. These ‘worlds,’ it seems, may, and perhaps must, be traversed many times before final and absolute beatitude is attained; and he who will, after reaching the last round, and standing, as it were, on the very brink of fruition, may forgo it for the benefit of mankind, and return out of pure love to redeem other souls yet in the earlier stages, and point them to the ‘path of release.’ (1)

            “Analogous conceptions are found in the Greek Gnosis. A well-known exponent and critic of Oriental theosophy says, in commenting on the above system of metaphysical stages and transitions, that the endless repetitions and recurrences of numbers involved in its details, “are not to be taken in a literal sense; they indicate simply the perpetual monotone by which the thinker’s imagination is limited, and to which it perpetually returns’; a ‘cadence of formulas’ expressing varying and renewed approximations in orderly series to a definite and transcendent ideal (Samuel Johnston).

            “We find, indeed, in Buddhism, the germ of all the apparently novel doctrines contained in Mr. Sinnett’s book, from which

(p. 151)

doctrines, as presented by him, I am compelled to dissent; for Buddhism, as Buddha and his disciples taught it, represents an esoteric and spiritual philosophy of which Mr. Sinnett’s version is a materialised reproduction. To give a more special instance, there is no doctrine in his book which is more repugnant to common sense, and to the intuitive conception of the fitness of things, than that which attributes the physical creation of the worlds to perfected men, or Dhyan Chohans. We are told that they and they alone are the artificers of the planets and the reconstructors of the universe. This doctrine is but a materialised presentation of one which is common to Buddhist and to Christian belief. It is taught by the former of these religions that whenever a Buddha passes into Nirvana, his Karma is poured out through the worlds as a fullness of living moral energy, whereby a fresh influx of spiritual life is developed. And from all the great souls (Mahatmas) who thus pass into the highest or seventh sphere of Divinity or Rest, flow miraculous energies which, spiritually, revivify Nature. It is through the merits of all beings in these higher stages that the worlds are renewed; and it is through the vices of all degraded beings that they are destroyed. Buddhistic substantialism personified spiritual energy, and made of Karma a separable entity or ‘genius’ regarding it in much the same light as that in which Christianity regards the Holy Ghost, and represents Christ as declaring – ‘If I go not away, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.’ Thus, on Buddha’s assumption into Nirvâna, as on Christs ascension into Heaven, the Karma or energy of the one, and the Divine Spirit of the other, is shed abroad over the earth, and re-creation, the special function of the third Person in the Trinity, occurs on the spiritual plane, as originally occurred by the operation of the same Power, creation on the physical plane.

            “And, carrying on the idea thus conceived in regard to the regenerative function of the Effluence proceeding from an ascended Christ and a glorified Buddha, it is held by the followers of both that the merit, or Karma, of all beatified Saints is effectual for the release and assistance of souls still on the earthly plane, and can be applied to their spiritual renovation. Conversely, the vicious Karma of evil-doers, even after their departure from the world, infects its mental atmosphere, and becomes a cause of spiritual depression, harassment, and obscuration, though, being not positive, but negative in its mode of action, it is a cause far less potent than that of the good Karma of the Saints. This last point, however, Buddhistic teaching leaves somewhat indefinite, because it is connected with that mystery of the ‘eighth sphere,’ of which I venture to assert that Mr. Sinnett’s exposition has completely distorted the meaning.

            “Thus it is evident that conceptions sound in principle and spiritual in application, have furnished the nucleus of the materialised doctrine given us in a book, which, far from representing esoteric Buddhism, is in reality a more exoteric version of it than all the Eastern sects together – and their name is legion – have yet dared to formulate openly. For the doctrine of spiritual renovation and recreation by means of the beneficent and life-giving energy of the Blessed in Nirvâna, is substituted that of material creation by the

(p. 152)

‘Past Grand Masters’ of occult science; and for the conception of the effluent evil proceeding from disintegrating egos as an element of spiritual contamination infecting the mental world, is substituted the notion of physical cataclysms, terrestrial catastrophes, and dooms with which esoteric religion can have no immediate concern, and the dogmatic enunciation of which at once removes the system credited to the Thibetan ‘adepts’ from the altitude of spiritual science to the low level of mere exoteric history.

            “A similar process of degradation has been applied to the Sânkhya and Buddhist idea of Prakriti, which, in the hands of the compilers of the book under notice, has become molecular matter, but which, in its original and only proper meaning, is not ‘divisible’ at all, but is the ideal root-principle or self-subsistent Archè taught in Greece by Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle, having ‘no property of body’; that ‘immutable essence which enfolds and evolves mind and sense through the presence and purpose of Spirit.’

            “This, again, is the Hermetic, Kabalistic, and Alexandrian doctrine necessary to the true scientific conception of the genesis and unity of existence; but throughout Mr. Sinnett’s book we find the word Matter substituted for Essence, and the idea persistently conveyed that divine (?) and human volition, and the creative principle itself, are but ‘matter in motion.’ Of course, this perversion of the words ‘Prakriti’ and ‘Purusha’ into Matter and Motion accounts for the important inversion already noticed of the order of the seven principles, since it is obviously impossible to derive pure spirit (Atma, or supreme Mind) immediately from unconscious and molecular agents, Thus the first in the true series becomes the last in the travesty, and the celestial generation is presented to us upside down in the order of terrestrial evolution. And hence many of the strange inconsistencies and incongruities of the later pages of the book.

            “Pure Buddhism is in no radical respect different from pure Christianity, because esoteric religion is identical throughout all time and conditions, being eternal in its truth and immanent in the human spirit. I am myself as much the disciple of Buddha as of Christ, because the two Masters are one in Doctrine. But, in my view, such a system as Mr. Sinnett’s book reveals to us is as opposed to Buddhism as it is to Christianity, and is utterly incompatible with the avowed aims and teachings of the Society under whose ægis it is issued. No universal religion, no catholic brotherhood, can be built on such a foundation as this; – it is but the germ of a new sect, and one more materialistic, exoteric, and unscientific than has ever yet been presented with serious claims to the modern world. Its tendency is to divide, to scatter, to repel, making all chance of unification impossible, instead of reconstructing, consolidating, and reconciling. East and West will never meet on such a bridge as this doctrine, nor will the conflicting testimonies of history and scientific criticism be silenced by enunciations of transcendental physics which directly impinge on their domain. In a word, this book is neither ‘Buddhistic’ nor ‘esoteric.’

            “But a solution of the riddle it offers, the only solution of a satisfactory nature possible, remains to be put forward. My co-worker has touched on it in his ‘criticism,’ and I shall but offer a few further suggestions in support of it.

(p. 153)

            “It is a well-known custom of Oriental Masters to subject aspirants to occult science, seeking instruction at their lips, to severe ordeals, with a view to test their fitness for the reception of the knowledge sought. These ordeals are as often addressed to the mind as to the body, and we are expressly told in the Theosophist, by accredited authorities, that not infrequently ‘chelas’ will be tempted by their own ‘Gurus,’ and traps set in their way into which, if wanting in intelligence and perception, they may fall, and thus give evidence of their unfitness for higher initiation. Traces of this kind of ordeal are to be found scattered throughout the sacred books of the West also, and it is even asserted of Christ that He was Himself ‘tempted’ or tried, and that He taught His doctrine in ‘hard sayings’ that only those who had ears might hear. It is possible that ‘Esoteric Buddhism’ may be a ‘hard saying’ of this nature, intended to test the capacity of the would-be ‘chelas’ of the West, and that not until these have vindicated their powers of discernment by penetrating and unveiling the true purpose of the Masters, will the veritable ‘esoteric’ secrets of the East be trusted to them. It may be that, if we steadily refuse to accept as serious the system now presented to us, we shall find it declared to be after all but a fable, in which true meanings have been purposely reversed and inverted, spiritual verities materialised, and essentials converted into images, not so much to delude as to test us. Mr. Yarker, F.T.S., in his Mysteries of Antiquity, writing of the customs of initiation observed by the Bektask Dervishes, says: – ‘Before reception, a year’s probation is required, during which false secrets are given to test the candidate.’ Perhaps it is too much to expect the adept Mahatmas of the East to yield at once and without trial into strange and unknown hands the treasured wisdom and lore of ages. If such as this prove to be indeed the true solution of this Sphynx’s riddle, I shall rejoice at finding myself in the position of Oedipus.

            “Meanwhile my co-worker and I wish to lay before the London Lodge, of which as yet we have the honour to be respectively Vice-President and President, the following proposition: –

            “That, on the recurrence of the elections for 1884, two Sections be created in the London Lodge, one of which shall be formed by those Fellows who desire to pursue exclusively the teaching of the Thibetan Mahatmas, and to recognise them as Masters; and that the Presidency of this Section be conferred on Mr. Sinnett, the only person now in this country competent to fill such a position. The other Section should be composed by Fellows desirous, like myself, to adopt a broader basis, and to extend research into other directions, more especially with the object of encouraging the study of Esoteric Christianity, and of the Occidental theosophy out of which it arose. In this Section we should welcome papers from students of Hellenic thought, we should inquire into the relation of Greek Individualism to Vedantic Pantheism, and should endeavour to find a ground of reconciliation between the hitherto apparently antagonistic conceptions of Life, posited on the one hand by the Oriental philosophy of ‘illusion,’ and on the other by the Hellenic idea of the joyous reality of existence. I should myself hope to lay before this Section certain studies in thought which might conduce to the inauguration of that Eirenicon after which I so earnestly aspire.

(p. 154)

            “This Section might be known as ‘The Catholic Section of the London Lodge.’

            “Of course, Fellows belonging to either Section might belong to both, and freely attend each other’s meetings, but it would be understood that at those held under Mr. Sinnett’s Presidency, the attention of Fellows would be exclusively directed to the development of the system recently presented by him to the public; while in the Catholic Section that system would be regarded as occupying but a minor share of recognition, our principal studies being addressed to the analysis of the great religions and philosophies which have swayed mankind in the past, and which divide their allegiance in the present.

            “In concluding, I may mention that the Letter closing this pamphlet, (1) has been sent by me to the President Founder of the Parent Society, in connection with one, conceived in similar tone, from the President of the French Theosophical Society, with whom I am in perfect accord, and hope always, as now, to work in concert.

            “It is certain that sooner or later Esoteric Christianity will be proclaimed as a religious science to the Western half of the world. I ask you by your endorsement of the proposition just suggested – to wit – by the creation of a Catholic Section in your Lodge, to ensure to the Theosophical Society the distinction of bearing the renewed Evangel to our race, and of making known to a desponding and divided Christendom the advent of the ‘Christ that is to be.’”


            My portion of the pamphlet, which is far too long for reproduction here, consisted in a criticism which, by contrasting various statements in the book with each other, and with sound reason, convicted it of incoherencies and inconsistencies fatal to its claims to be regarded at all as a system of thought. And as there was no one on this side who felt competent to reply to us, our protest was referred to the Society’s headquarters in India. Meanwhile an admirable essay entitled, “The Metaphysical Basis of ‘Esoteric Buddhism’ was issued by C.C. Massey, which coincided in all essential respects with our view of that book. The great majority, however, of the Lodge were strongly adverse to the line taken by us, for reasons apparently personal rather than philosophical, in that they resented our attitude towards the Mahatmas. And it became clear that, when the time came, as it would come in January, for the annual election of officers, we should be displaced. This was a conclusion which, so far as concerned ourselves, we contemplated with more than equanimity, with positive satisfaction and relief. The turmoil

(p. 155)

of the position and the personal conflicts engendered were distasteful to us in the extreme; and only the hope of saving the Society from its own discordant elements, to become a redeeming influence in the world, reconciled us to a continued association with it. Meanwhile both sides represented their views of the situation to the Founders, Mary writing a letter of some 4000 words to Madame Blavatsky, and one nearly as long to Colonel Olcott. While awaiting the election we received the following letter from Dr. Gryzanowsky: –


LIVORNO, December 16, 1883.

            “MY DEAR SIR, – I trust you have received my post-card in which I acknowledged the receipt of your interesting letter of Nov. 17, begging you at the same time to convey my thanks to Mrs. Kingsford for the gracious promise of her photograph. As to the two pamphlets I received together with your letter, I do not know whether I have to thank her or you for them.

            “Roi ou Tyran? I had read already, and very good it is – too good, one might say, for M. Richet. But even more valuable, it appears to me, is her English essay on ‘Unscientific Science.’ That is the nail which our hammer must hit (at least in quarters where other arguments are not understood). Science deceives herself about her own dignity and the firmness of her foundation. The modern (Darwinian) habit of considering the organic and the in-organic worlds as a continuous whole has led to the false belief in the validity and legitimacy of a single method of research. This illusion has to be destroyed, and the exactness of experimental physics must not be allowed to be a feather in the biologist’s cap. Even physical science is not quite so ‘exact’ as it appears to be, but it has corpora vilia at its disposal, which biology has not. You say nothing about Le Zoophile, which sprang so unexpectedly from Miss Cobbe’s jovial head, nor whether the Champion has any chance of starting into existence after this. However this may be, I am glad of Le Zoophile, as I should have been glad of Le Champion, for purely linguistic reasons.

            “I now come to Mr. Sinnett’s book, and to your critical remarks about it. And let me begin by telling you that I agree with you as far as the atheistic character of the doctrine is concerned. It is curious to see how often theosophy becomes atheistic. In Gunther’s and (I think) also in Baader’s theosophic philosophy the processus of the universe consists in a gradual self-creation or self-evolution of God. God is its consummation, not its beginning and origin. In the beginning there was unconscious causation; in the end there will be conscious effect, the divine Ego as a result. Strictly speaking, we find the same in Hegel’s philosophy, where the processus begins (as Schelling calls it ironically) with the ennui of the Parabrahm, and ends by his becoming the Absolute in the ideal end.

            “In Esoteric Buddhism there is a dormant or potential God, as seventh principle, in every human being. This principle may, or may not, develop itself, but the result is sure to be a plurality of

(p. 156)

godlike beings whose ultimate late is Nirvâna, or (as Mr. Sinnett defines it on p. 163) ‘conscious rest in omniscience.’ Although Mr. Sinnett disclaims Agnosticism, he is agnostic himself on p. 179 with regard to the world outside our solar system. Within that system the Adept knows everything (p. 177) and considers everything as knowable, i.e. as subject to law.

            “This would, indeed, be a grossly materialistic view (such as our men of science are wont to take), if he had not added the words ‘plus the guiding and modifying influence of the ... Dhyan Chohans.’ Where, one might ask, does this influence, which negates and corrects the law, where does this divinely free will come from? As an outcome of evolution it cannot negate and disturb evolution. It must come from somewhere else. But whence? What is an influxus divinus without the Deus?

            “This inconsistency spoils the Adept’s theosophy, which is theistic by implication, atheistic in appearance, and agnostic involuntarily.

            “You call it a ‘transcendental Materialism.’ But this judgment seems to me a little too severe. It is true Mr. Sinnett himself calls Buddhism a transcendental Materialism (p. 153), but duobus dicentibus idem, non est idem, one might say here. For your remark implies the reproach of non-spirituality. ‘It deals, not with the spiritual,’ you say, ‘but with the occult.’ And this, it seems to me, is only partly true. I do not know how far Mr. Sinnett is authorised to speak in the name of the great Buddhist priesthood, but he certainly insists, in many passages, on the eminently spiritual character of Oriental philosophies in contrast with the purely intellectual character of Western philosophy and of Western civilisation in general. He admits the practical dangers of incomplete or un-merited initiation, the temptation to jugglery. But the jugglers are only the thieves of the mystery, the burglars of the Sanctuary, and although Mr. Sinnett does not use this simile, he certainly condemns such practices. In fact, one might say, there are similar dangers and abuses in the Christian Church. Witness the liquefaction of the blood of San Gennaro and other miracles of the Hagiology; and I, for one, would insist on the necessity of making the same distinction between Esoteric and Exoteric Christianity as the Adepts make between Esoteric and Exoteric Buddhism. If the visible Christianity were the Esoteric one, the many learned Hindoos who come to Europe would not invariably say they prefer Buddhism to Christianity.

            “Before I tell you why I do not agree with these Pundits, I feel bound, in justice bound, to mention the many valuable truths and exquisite beauties I have found in Mr. Sinnett’s representation of Esoteric Buddhism. It opens long vistas of thought and speculation, and the Adepts horizon is altogether so wide, so immeasurably vast, that the sphere of Western thought, and even that of Christian eschatology, appears, at first sight, painfully small. Moreover, there are a great many metaphysical and logical riddles which we Occidentals can never solve, but which the Buddhist solves by not putting them. I am not speaking of the antinomy of free will and prescience, which the Buddhist avoids by eliminating the prescient God. But such puzzling problems as the origin of the different races of mankind, the ‘missing link,’ the phenomena of mediumship,

(p. 157)

the born cripple, the apparently revolting inequality of our start in life, the fate of dying infants, the effects of suicide and of all violent deaths – all these things find a surprisingly plausible solution or explanation in this esoteric doctrine, and there is a singular charm in the dry common sense with which the mystic revelation is at times suffused. For instance, when Mr. Sinnett says a sudden or violent death cannot be a death at all, one hardly requires any proof of the assertion. The theory of the seven Principles, of the occasional subdivision of the fifth, of the occasional separate existence of the two upper ones, which have to ‘grow a new astral principle’ for incarnation, are most convenient keys with which many a lock can be opened.

            “Having read quite recently a highly interesting review (in the Bayreuther Blätter) of Count Gobincan’s work, Sur l’Inégalité des Races, I was particularly glad to find in the ‘Esoteric Doctrine’ an easy (albeit mystic) explanation of these wonderful inequalities which sorely puzzle us, not only scientifically, but morally. Not only are the yellow races separated from the white ones by a great gulf, but there are similar gulfs between European races too. I am quite willing (indeed I am anxious) to consider the Latin races as Atlanteans whose native island vanished long after the Aryans had peopled the East and North with heroes and prophets. But where did the Buddhists get the idea of Lemuria from? I thought this fatherland of the anthropoid Ape was a creation of Professor Häckel, our German Darwin.

            “The Cycles and Manvantaras help us over a great many difficulties, and thus far I am ready to go with Mr. Sinnett. But his Planetary Chains I do not understand and cannot appreciate. He talks of the seven chains of seven planets each, four of which are always in pralaya (or Brahma’s night). But what are we to say to such things, even if we know nothing of astronomy? You justly complain of a want of vraisemblance, but an Adept might retort that if vraisemblance were a criterion of truth, Buddhism would belong to the intellectual plane of Western science. The Credo quia absurdum may be one of the ordeals of the would-be initiate.

            “I agree with you in admiring the doctrine of Karma and the description of the kama loca. The idea of making, not the devachanic existence itself, but only its end, the rebirth, the proper retribution of our karmic merits or demerits, and of making this rebirth a matter of natural selection, is highly satisfactory, far more so than Swedenborg’s ideas on retribution, which do not (as this doctrine does) explain the initial inequality of human lives.

            “Yet, on the whole, I miss the moral element in Buddhism. Whatever Mr. Sinnett may say about it, and whatever Max Müller (p. 158) may say about the perfection of Buddha’s moral code, Buddhism is (as far as I can see) essentially and above all a system of revealed dogmatic philosophy in which there is a place for everything, even for evil. But in its cold serenity, Buddhism has no wrath, no scorn, no indignation, no passion. With what weapons could it battle against the iniquities of life if it talks of evil as of something ‘necessary’ (sic!), and of Satan as something rather heroic (p. 128), more likely to secure immortality than human mediocrity? There is no message of peace and of hope to the weak

(p. 158)

and the ‘poor in spirit,’ nothing like Paul’s mighty dialectic paradox proclaiming the strong of the world to be God’s waifs, and the sages of the world to be God’s fools. Buddhism, after all, is (and that is the curse of all evolutionary doctrines) a sort of struggle for life (à la Darwin), and of survival of the fittest. The question is not, ‘May he survive? Is he worthy of surviving?’ but, ‘Can he survive (p. 127)? Is he strong enough to survive?’

            “The historical Buddha was a converted profligate. He preached moderation and wisdom, temperance rather than abstention and asceticism. His doctrine is practical, and fits into human nature. He died of flesh-eating. He utilises evil as we utilise steam, as a motive-power, and he offers to destroy human suffering on condition of the sufferer’s being susceptible of certain knowledge.

            “Christ, the historical Jesus, was pure and spotless, apparently divine. He preached love and mercy, but also perfection: ‘Thou shalt be perfect as thy Father in heaven is perfect.’ His doctrine was unpractical, unearthly, heavenly, and has never fitted into human nature or human life. Christianity has never existed; it is a thing to come, a beacon in the rough sea of life and in the dark night of history. Christ makes no bargain with existing evil. He has temper enough to curse the fig-tree, and to whip the usurers out of the Temple; but He offers salvation to whosoever comes in search of it. He died after an unbloody repast. He died on the Cross, and prayed for His tormentors, ‘Father, forgive them.’

            “I could never accept Buddhism as more than a most interesting and (partly at least) most satisfactory (revealed) philosophy. It is, somehow, too Asiatic for me. Without being a Christian believer, I miss Golgotha in it, and only under the Cross can we find the passion and the weapons for our crusade against the dragon.

            “I am glad you have taken some steps towards ascertaining whether, and how far, your London Lodge can make its programme compatible with the Hindoo doctrine, and whether the Indian chiefs can be induced to make their programme more catholic. Your book (The Perfect Way) is, on the whole, more congenial to me than Mr. Sinnett’s. They agree in a good many points, even on the androgynous nature of the First Cause (though Mr. Sinnett does not call it Cause). But further comparisons would lead me too far. Even as it is, I must apologise for the great length of this letter.

            “I thank you beforehand for the promised ‘little Christmas book’ on the end of the world in 1881. If I could offer you an exchange of photographs (which, at this moment, I cannot), I would take the liberty of asking you for yours, with the promise of mine for the spring.

            “With best wishes to you, and kind regards to Mrs. Kingsford. – Yours sincerely,



            The meeting of January (1) passed without any overt action affecting the situation, the elections being postponed until such

(p. 159)

time as word should be received from India. The following letter from Mary to Lady Caithness refers to the meeting: –



January 28, 1884.

            “DEAR FRIEND, – Thank you very warmly indeed for your kind and sympathetic letter. The meeting is over, but I cannot say it has advanced us much. There has been no election; it is postponed for a fortnight, by which time it is thought that letters will have arrived from India, and by these I suppose the Lodge will be entirely guided. Whether the reply of ‘K.H.’ will be in accordance with our hopes or not, my conviction will, of course, remain entirely unshaken. The doctrine we have received is that of all Hermetic and Kabalistic teaching from time immemorial; and to forsake that and embrace the strange and inconsistent creed put forth as ‘Esoteric Buddhism’ would be to turn our backs at once and definitively upon all that is divine and true, in the highest sense. None of us are capable of such folly as that would be. Mr. Ward (‘Uncle Sam’) (1) sent me his vote, accompanied by an affectionate letter. Of course many hard things were said of us, but all quite incorrect and unwarrantable. – Always affectionately yours,



            When the time came for the decisive meeting to be held, the occasion proved to be in the highest degree dramatic. The tension was extreme, so high did feeling run on both sides; and when, at the moment that the crucial question was to be put, Mary produced a telegram (2) from India saying, “Remain President,”

(p. 160)

and signed “Koot Hoomi,” the sensation was indescribable. The mandate was at once recognised as imperative, and the election was but a formality. And such was the effect of the sudden coup on our American friend [Samuel Ward], ardent believer as he was in “Mahatma Koot Hoomi,” that he wept outright with joy and triumph.

            The result of the reference of our criticism of Esoteric Buddhism to India was a pamphlet of some forty-five pages, bearing the name of “T. Subba Row, Counsellor of the Parent T.S.,” and written jointly by him and Madame Blavatsky, in support of Mr. Sinnett and refutation of us. It necessitated a rejoinder (1) from us, which took the shape of another pamphlet of thirty-one pages, in which we showed conclusively that the reply, so far from being an answer to us, was inaccurate and incoherent, and left our position untouched. And we still had to wait for the presentation of doctrine which was to remove the objections we had formulated against Esoteric Buddhism. This came in due time, but not until the publication of The Secret Doctrine. In this, her magnum opus, Madame Blavatsky threw over Mr. Sinnett’s presentation in favour of ours, having meanwhile informed us that it had been as much as she and Subba Row could do to make a plausible defence of Esoteric Buddhism, as we were right and it was wrong, through its writer’s misapprehension of the teaching received by him. “But,” she added, with the candour characteristic of her in her best moods, “we were obliged to support him then because he represented us. But when the Secret Doctrine was concerned, it was necessary to tell the truth” – a position at least intelligible.

            The following passages occur in the rejoinder: –


            Holding, as we do, that Consciousness is the essential of personality, and is implicit in Being, we do not regard Being as non-conscious and impersonal when, instead of concrete, limited, and manifest, as by form and dimension, it is abstract, unlimited, and unmanifest. Hence, for us, that is a rational, and the only rational,

(p. 161)

Theism which regards Deity as infinite personality, and holds that but for such personality in unmanifest Deity, there could be no personality in the manifest Cosmos. Herein we but maintain the universal application of the laws of Correspondence and Heredity.


*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *


            We find it stated acquiescingly [in Mr. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism] that “the Dhyan Chohans,” or “Gods who once lived on this earth as men,” are the “Elohim of the Western Cabalists.” (...) We would ask how, if this be true, are to be denoted, and what becomes of the “Seven Spirits of God,” who, subsisting indefeasibly in the Divine Nature, as the seven rays of the prism in light, find manifestation through the Trinity, as do those rays through the prism, and by the power of their inherent Divinity produce and sustain alike macrocosm and microcosm, which last is Man, who, when perfected by them, is “God Manifested”? (...) Yet another reference to the Dhyan Chohans. To grant them, as represented in Esoteric Buddhism, the power to come into such contact with matter as to be able to destroy a continent and its inhabitants, is surely to invest them with something more than the powers to which Mr. Subba Row now restricts them. Neither should we regard such a use of their power as a Divine one. Far better, we presume to think, when a race has “reached the zenith of its physical intellectuality and developed its highest civilisation,” that “its progress towards absolute evil be arrested,” as that of our own race is now actually being arrested, by the destruction, not of the race itself, but of its false and pernicious system of thought and conduct – a system wholly materialistic and nihilistic – by means of such further interior unfoldment of man’s spiritual consciousness as will supplement and correct mere intellect by a pure intuition, and thus enable man to realise his higher potentialities. It is to promote a destruction of this kind – a destruction which is really a renovation by further evolution – that the work represented in The Perfect Way is intended; and it was in the hope of finding an efficient ally in this work that we consented to join the Theosophical Society. In preferring, however, physical applications to spiritual ones, that Society will not only show itself blind to the significance of what is actually occurring in the world, but will enhance the difficulties in the way of the world’s sorely needed regeneration. (...)

            In Madame Blavatsky’s note are two or three things which call for remark. First, The Perfect Way is not, as she implies, the work of a single person, but is, both in conception and in execution, dual, as befits its peculiar mission. Secondly, it is a mistake to regard us as seeking to “set off Esoteric Christianity against Esoteric Buddhism,” and this for the very reason assigned by her, and in which we have great pleasure in agreeing with her, namely, because to do so would be “to offer one part of the whole against another part of the whole.” For, as stated at some length in The Perfect Way (pp. 256-9), (1) we regard the two systems as complementary to each other, each being indispensable, as concerned with, or

(p. 162)

representing different stages in man’s spiritual evolution; Christianity, rightly interpreted, representing the later, and therefore the higher, in that it alone, unequivocally, “has the Spirit.” In token of which may be adduced the fact that, while it is a moot point, even for the Buddhists themselves, whether or not Buddhism is an “atheistic” system, no such question is or can be raised concerning Christianity. The reproach of seeking to set one system against the other, or to exalt one unduly at the cost of the other, if chargeable against any section whatever of the Theosophical Society, lies not with that to which we belong, but with that which is seeking, and this avowedly, to make of the Society an agency for the subversion of all spirituality, and the exaltation of a mere Occultism, or Nature-worship, under the name of Buddhism.

            The third and remaining point in Madame Blavatsky’s note is one of which the personal nature makes us loth to speak, but of which, nevertheless, for the sake of our special work, and to prevent further misconception, it is necessary to speak.

            This is the question respecting the nature and range of the faculty by the possession of which the President of the London Lodge is removed from the category of ordinary inquirers into Esoteric science. This, she wishes it to be clearly understood, is not an occult faculty in the common acceptation of the term. It involves no abnormal powers voluntarily directed, or acquaintance with any method requiring to be imparted by initiation of the secondary intellectual principles. Nor, again, does the condition in which it is exercised resemble the trance of ordinary clairvoyance. She is, therefore, neither a “trained occultist” nor a natural clairvoyant. The faculty she possesses is one with which she was born, and it has been developed by a fourteen years’ abstinence from flesh-food, and by a series of experiences and a manner of life not altogether at first the result of choice. Students of the Platonic philosophy will recognise the condition in question as one of illumination affecting the soul rather than the mind. It is believed by her to be the result of psychic reminiscence, through which the gnosis acquired by initiation in a previous birth is revived and unfolded to her perception. She has strong reason for the conviction that the school, in virtue of her initiation into which these illuminations occur, was the Greco-Egyptian. The state during which they present themselves is one of intense and breathless concentration. The whole outer personality appears to be superseded and transcended, and knowledges are vividly borne in on the interior understanding as a vision, often of symbolic character. It has been shown by means of these very illuminations that this condition, described as the result of psychic reminiscence, is in her exceptionally developed in consequence of the period now reached by her interior selfhood in its planetary evolution. Hers is represented to be an advanced Ego, which, having returned to definite existence more rapidly and persistently than is the normal case, has thus got ahead of the race generally and thereby developed a faculty which will in time be attainable by all souls who have been really initiated in a former birth. But this reminiscence is possible only in respect of the religious gnosis, dealing with principles and metaphysical truth, not in respect of that which, being intellectual and dealing with the condition and

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exercise of occult power, affects the physiological memory, and cannot be transferred from one birth to another in the manner described.


*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *


            Mr. Subba Row characterises our criticism not only as “illogical,” but as “quite uncalled for” (prefatory letter). Having disposed of the former charge, we will now dispose of the latter, and in so doing place before the Lodge our view of the existing situation and its exigencies. As Mr. Subba Row wrote in complete ignorance, or at least with one-sided knowledge of the circumstances under which our criticism was written, his denunciation of it as “quite uncalled for” represents, not the impartial decision of the judge, but the hardy assertion of the advocate.

            The occasion was the eve of an election which involved not only the possibility of a censure upon ourselves, but the policy and character of the Theosophical Society itself – at least, so far as this country is concerned – certainly for a whole year to come, and probably in perpetuity. Our Lodge had ceased to be a secret or private body, Mr. Sinnett having insisted on a radical change, the effect of which was to bring it prominently before the public. This is stated not as a reproach, but as a fact, and one which most materially affects the case, both as it then was and as it still is. We had joined the Society not as mere inquirers, but by express invitation; and we were already known as exponents of the Esoteric doctrine of Christianity, a subject equally with Buddhism comprised in the programme of a society calling itself Theosophical, but for which, although our special subject, we desired no precedence within the Society, as we regarded as having equal claims to consideration all the forms under which Theosophic truth is presented. For, as already said, so far from regarding Buddhism and Christianity, properly interpreted, as antagonistic and rival systems, we regard them as one and the same system under different modes of presentation; so that what would conduce to the understanding of one, would conduce to the understanding of the other. Of course, the title of the Society being Theosophical, it went without saying that the last charge which could be brought against it would be that of Atheism. On joining the Society we expressly reserved our independence; and finding, after joining it, that certain amendments were needed in its conduct and programme, we took the requisite steps to effect those amendments. Among these was a revised set of rules, and the exclusion from the Society’s publications of advertisements and statements calculated to bring it into disrepute on grounds both social and philosophical. Our representations on these points were favourably received both at home and at the Society’s headquarters in India; our rules were revised; the desired change was made in the Society’s recognised representative organ, the Theosophist, Mr. Sinnett, who had recently come from India, assenting; and the Lodge set itself to study, with the aid of its author’s expositions, the book out of which the present situation has arisen, our prepossessions being in favour both of the book and of its author. No sooner, however, had this course of study been entered upon than the position changed, for it appeared that instead of being proposed as a contribution to occult knowledge, and as such fairly liable to criticism, the book was exalted as an infallible product of infallible authorities, and the system described

(p. 164)

in it as destined to supersede all other systems, any expression of dissent being regarded as an impertinence and even as a blasphemy.

            Meanwhile the result of the addresses given outside the Lodge was such as to induce the belief – which found expression in the public Press – that the object of the Society was to form a new religion upon the basis of the feats of Indian magicians; and that we ourselves had abandoned the teaching we had expounded in The Perfect Way, and adopted this new cult. And so far from remonstrance being of avail, an address in which the President sought to stem the current, by showing that such excessive devotion to human authority partook of the nature of the idolatry which had always been fatal to truth, and would, moreover, render the Association ridiculous in the public eye, was actually met by a vote of censure, wholly regardless of the fact that she had been expressly invited to fill the post in virtue of her possession of the perceptions which justified such an admonition. It thus became obvious that the London Lodge was in a fair way to become a place for those only who were prepared to yield abject submission to the authorities propounded by Mr. Sinnett. And it was no secret that the resignation of all who were not so prepared was deemed desirable in order that Mr. Sinnett, who had recently determined to remain in England instead of returning to India, should have the undivided direction of the Lodge. Meanwhile the belief was sedulously inculcated that the independent attitude of the recalcitrant members would be so deeply offensive to the Mahatmas as to lead to the withdrawal of their promised teaching.

            Of course resignation was the easiest and not least agreeable way of getting out of the difficulty. But persons, no less than principles, were at stake. For there were those in the Lodge who stood by us, and by whom, therefore, we were bound to stand. And there was the further and supreme question, to which did the Lodge belong, and who had the best right to belong to it, the Theosophic or the Atheistic element – those who accepted the constitution as defined in the rules, and exercised freedom of judgment, or those who violated that constitution and denied such freedom? In this dilemma, to have resigned our fellowship would have been to grant the correctness of Mr. Sinnett’s view, and hand over the Lodge to those who avowedly rejected the principles implied in its very name and constitution, and who, moreover, were bent on making it an engine, not for the interpretation of religious thought, but for the subversion of all religion, and the negation of all thought, – for that is not thought which is not free. Such was the emergency in which we issued what Mr. Subba Row calls our “quite uncalled for” criticism of Esoteric Buddhism.


            The following letter, which was elicited by a recently published article written by Lady Caithness, throws so much light on the situation as to be well worth reproducing. And if Mr. Sinnett finds in it anything to resent, I hope that his reception of it will be such as to show that he has, as I believe, far outgrown the limitations which at that time exacerbated his attitude

(p. 165)

towards us, and will welcome rather than resent a recital so important to the history of the great movement in which he has enacted so distinguished a part: –


“To Lady Caithness

LONDON, March 11, 1884.

            “MY DEAR FRIEND, – Let me before all congratulate you very heartily and earnestly on your splendid letter published in the last number of the M––. It is beyond praise, but a great deal too valuable for publication in such a periodical. I am almost sorry to see you descending into the vulgar arena of mere spiritism to contest with such unworthy opponents as the majority of the readers of the M––. Most of these people are without education, and belong to a class addicted to personalities and to the ‘calling of names’ on the smallest provocation. It is for these reasons that I never myself write in that print. It seems that to give expression to any ideas unfamiliar to its supporters is to expose oneself to a volley of abuse. All this, however, does not detract from the value of the contribution you have made to the metaphysics of true Christianity in your excellent homily. If the rest of the work on which you are engaged be as lucid and as profound as this example of it, then we may look forward to some hope of illuminating the world at last. Do you know Baron Spedalieri of Marseilles? He is a very advanced and learned Theosophist, a friend of ‘Eliphas Levi’ and now ours. He would be delighted with your exposition. You should send him a copy of it with your compliments, if you have not yet corresponded with him. Of course he knows you well by reputation, and we have often spoken to him of you and of our association with you.

            “Mr. Maitland and I have just completed a reply to Mr. Subba Row’s pamphlet, in which we have clearly shown the obscurities and confusion of the greater part of his argument. Of course, he had a very difficult, and indeed an impossible, task to perform. For he had to defend Mr. Sinnett against us while well knowing that our charges were by no means ill-founded. Thus he endeavours to rebut our suggestion of the exoteric character of Mr. Sinnett’s book by saying ‘it is not wholly allegorical,’ and that he is not at liberty at present to ‘speak publicly’ of the esoteric doctrine of the Buddha. We never said he was; but why pretend, then, that Mr. Sinnett has done so? It is manifest from Mr. Subba Row’s exposition that the truth of our statements respecting Esoteric Buddhism is virtually conceded by him and by his directors. And I think that our reply will make this fact unmistakably clear.

            “Neither Mr. Maitland nor I have the smallest desire to adopt towards Mr. S., or anyone else, an attitude of hostility. We have from the beginning done our utmost to impress on him and on our fellow-Theosophists the fact that we are contending for certain Principles, and not against any persons soever. I hope you will take the opportunity, when you meet Madame Blavatsky, of impressing this fact upon her, because – judging from a paper which Mr S. read to the assembled Lodge at its last meeting, and in which very violent language was used against us – it is highly probable that he may

(p. 166)

have written to her or to Col. Olcott in a similar strain, and so imported into our controversy a personal element which ought studiously to have been avoided. I cannot say what he has written to India, nor what he has received from thence, as he persistently refused to communicate to the Lodge, or even to the council, any letters or parts of letters passing between him and his Chiefs. In fact, we know little or nothing of the views entertained at headquarters on matters of philosophical interest; for all these are jealously reserved from us, and shown, if at all, to those only who are prepared to accept everything coming from the ‘Masters’ with blind faith.

            “The fact of the matter is that Mr. S. has a personal and intense aversion to Christianity, and regards with absolute intolerance any attempt to unfold its esoteric meanings. Truth to tell, the very word ‘esoteric’ is not understood by him; for he interprets it only of that which is not commonly known, rather than of that the nature of which is interior and spiritual. Thus, for him, transcendental physics are ‘esoteric,’ the tale of the submerging of the geographical Atlantis is ‘esoteric’; and so forth. He does not understand that things occurring on the historical plane, and capable of verification by ordinary physical scientific processes, cannot possibly belong to ‘esoteric,’ that is, to spiritual, truth. When I seek to unfold to him, or to the Lodge, truly esoteric mysteries affecting not the mere intellect, but the soul, he characterises such expositions as ‘cloudy’ and ‘hazy.’ He is utterly wanting in the qualifications which alone fit a man for the study of the deep things of God. There is nothing spiritual in him; he hungers and thirsts, not after Justice, but after mere occultism, and to this he would reduce all the studies of the T.S. Lodge. The more I see and hear him, the more I marvel that ‘K. H.’ or any ‘Adepts’ should have permitted such a man to be the bearer to Europe of their philosophy. For they must have known the kind of presentation it would receive in his hands, and the character of the interpretation of it on which he would insist. His language against us at the last Lodge meeting caused a lady who was present, and who was previously inclined favourably to him, to write to a friend a letter which he showed me, in which she said, ‘As I listened to Mr. Sinnett I wondered where peace and joy and brotherhood had fled to; and when Mrs. Kingsford rose to answer him I marvelled at her great moderation. Surely one so gentle as she is in such a trying position is far more fitted to be our President than one who, like Mr. S., whatever may be his loyalty to the Masters, loses his temper so readily.’

            “I do not know whether you have yet read Mr. C.C. Massey’s new pamphlet on Esoteric Buddhism called forth by the recent controversy. It is a most excellent and philosophic little treatise, and will, I doubt not, prove of the greatest value and service, to us all. Massey is not only a scholar and a clear thinker, but he has the ‘spiritual mind’; and if it be thought advisable that I should retire from the Presidency, he is the only man who is, in my view, likely to direct the Lodge with knowledge, prudence, and charity. But he has already refused the office, being inordinately modest and diffident. When I hear from you that Madame Blavatsky has

(p. 167)

arrived at Nice, I will write to her on several subjects of vital interest in our Lodge. Meanwhile, will you tell her from me that she mistakes me in two points – first, the question of ‘belief’ in K.H. I don’t quite know the theosophical meaning of this word ‘belief’ but if it implies belief in the existence of ‘K.H.,’ then I believe in that quite as much as I do in her own. All that I see reason so far to doubt is the exact significance to be attached to the terms ‘Adept,’ ‘Mahatma,’ etc., as applied to him. The other point regards her own conception of the nature of the ‘gifts’ with which she is good enough to credit me. I have no occult powers whatever, and have never laid claim to them. Neither am I, in the ordinary sense of the word, a clairvoyant. I am simply a ‘prophetess’ – one who sees and knows intuitively, and not by any exercise of any trained faculty. All that I receive comes to me by ‘illumination,’ as to Proclus, to Iamblichus, to all those who follow the Platonic method. And this ‘gift’ was born with me, and has been developed by a special course and rule of life. It is, I am told, the result of a former initiation in a past birth, and the reason that I am enabled to profit by it is that I am an ‘old spirit,’ having, by ‘thirst of life,’ pushed myself on to a point of spiritual evolution somewhat in advance of the rest of my race, but to which all can attain in time who have really been once initiated. My initiation was Greco-Egyptian, and therefore I recall the truth primarily in the language and after the method of the Bacchic mysteries, which are indeed, as you know, the immediate source and pattern of the mysteries of the Catholic Christian Church.

            “But powers of the ‘occult’ order, the exercise of which depends on the knowledge of certain natural modes of law, and on the development of an intellectual will, competent to grapple with and direct ‘akasic’ magnetism, – these can be communicated only by the initiation of the intellectual mind; and this, I have reason to believe, is not transferable from one birth to another, because it affects a vehicle of the human kingdom which is renewed at every new birth. Wherefore it is only to be attained by severe training and rigid exclusion from the world; and when thus the desired power is educed, the natural object of the fully developed occultist becomes to perpetuate the life during which only this initiation will be available. I will explain myself more fully, should you wish it, at another time. – Always your very affectionate friend,



            The testimony received from the personage just named (1) transcended

(p. 168)

in value that of any other person known to us to be alive. Baron Giuseppe Spedalieri, a native of Sicily and a resident at Marseilles, was the ripest living veteran of spiritual science in Christendom. He had been the friend and disciple, and was the literary heir, of the renowned magician, the Abbé Constant, who wrote under the name of “Eliphas Levi,” and was at once Hermetist, Kabalist, and Occultist, and to his knowledges Baron Spedalieri added a wisdom and understanding surpassing his master’s, as was amply testified to by the multitude of his letters to us by which his discovery of The Perfect Way was followed. The weighty utterance in which he first announced to us – writing as a perfect stranger – his judgment on our book has already seen the light on two occasions, one of which was the introduction to the Second Edition. But the plan of this biographical history of our work calls for its inclusion here also. Originally written in French, I render it in English, in which language he afterwards conducted his correspondence with us. This is the deliverance in question, written exclusively upon the strength of the intrinsic merits of the book. Such an utterance, like the occasion of it, is unique in history, and it proves that “When the Son of Man comes, He shall indeed find,” not only “faith,” but knowledge “on the earth,” though not necessarily within the pale of the Church visible: –


            “As with the corresponding Scriptures of the past, the appeal on behalf of your book is, really, to miracles, but with the difference that in your case they are intellectual ones, and incapable of simulation, being miracles of interpretation. And they have the further distinction of doing no violence to common sense by infringing the possibilities of Nature; while they are in complete accord with all mystical traditions, and especially with the great Mother of these, the Kabala. That miracles such as I am describing are to be found in The Perfect Way, in kind and number unexampled, they who are the best qualified to judge will be the most ready to affirm.

            “And here, à propos of these renowned Scriptures, permit me to offer you some remarks on the Kabala as we have it. It is my opinion –

            “(1) That this tradition is far from being genuine, and such as it was on its original emergence from the sanctuaries.

            “(2) That when Guillaume Postel – of excellent memory – and his brother Hermetists of the later middle age – the Abbot Trithemius and others – predicted that these sacred books of the Hebrews should become known and understood at the end of the era, and specified the present time for that event, they did not mean that such knowledge should be limited to the mere divulgement of these particular Scriptures, but that it would have for its base a new

(p. 169)

illumination, which should eliminate from them all that has been ignorantly or wilfully introduced, and should reunite that great tradition with its source by restoring it in all its purity.

            “(3) That this illumination has just been accomplished, and has been manifested in The Perfect Way. For in this book we find all that there is of truth in the Kabala, supplemented by new intuitions, such as present a body of doctrine at once complete, homogeneous, logical, and inexpugnable.

            “Since the whole tradition thus finds itself recovered or restored to its original purity, the prophecies of Postel and his fellow-Hermetists are accomplished; and I consider that from henceforth the study of the Kabala will be but an object of curiosity and erudition, like that of Hebrew antiquities.

            “Humanity has always and everywhere asked itself these three supreme questions: Whence come we? What are we? Whither go we? Now these questions at length find an answer, complete, satisfactory, and consolatory, in The Perfect Way.”


He subsequently wrote: –


            “If the Scriptures of the future are to be, as I firmly believe they will be, those which best interpret the Scriptures of the past, these writings will assuredly hold the foremost place among them.”


            The accordance of our doctrine with that of the Kabala – but obtained by us entirely from interior sources, and in complete ignorance of the Kabala – was subsequently testified to by Mr. S.L. Macgregor Mathers, who dedicated to us his learned work, The Kabala Unveiled, in these terms: –


            “I have much pleasure in dedicating this work to the authors of The Perfect Way, as they have in that excellent and wonderful book touched so much on the doctrines of the Kabala, and laid such value on its teachings. The Perfect Way is one of the most deeply occult works that has been written for centuries.”


            In a letter dated February 15, 1884, Dr. Gryzanowsky refers as follows to the present crisis in the Theosophical Society: –


            “The idea of issuing cheap editions of select chapters of Theosophic lore seems to me a very good one, provided the object of your Lodge is not secrecy, but propagation of faith. From all you tell me about the Himalayan Brethren and about occult science, I must infer that you dissent from these mysterious powers on matters of doctrine, but not on the principles of occultism. Your doctrinal differences, as set forth in your joint printed letter, seem to me well founded, and I shall look forward with sincere interest to the reply from India which is to put an end to the present crisis. Mrs. Kingsford’s proposals of putting Mr. Sinnett in her Presidential chair, and of forming a more ‘catholic’ and quasi-independent section, are very good, and ought to be accepted. A complete secession from the Hindoo Society would seem to be necessary if intentional

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mystification were proved to be one of its accepted ordeals. I revere the veil of Isis, I respect the Sphinx, the oracle, the symbol; but the symbol is not a lie. Ordeals always are lies, but may be excused or justified when they are used as temporary tests for temper and character. Doctrinal ordeals I can neither justify nor excuse, and would secede from any society, or church, or lodge that sanctioned them. The intellect bears reticence and oracular symbolisation, but revolts against intentionally falsified doctrine.

            “On such occasions I cannot help asking myself: Why should seekers of Truth and students of Theosophy ever club together and form a society? Association is useful for militant purposes. I understand a church, a lodge, a religious order, but study and investigation are individual pursuits, and gain nothing by being made collectively. No independent thinkers, no two members of the T.S., will have the same theosophy, and so the theosophic lore must become dogmatic, and the Society itself a Church; and considering what the established ‘Churches’ have become, such a substitution or addition would be no doubt salutary in these days. Only I would avoid the term Society and insist on Lodge, and on masonic organisation.

            “The English doctors have formed an ‘Association for the Promotion of Medical Science by Research.’ But this name is a misnomer. It is in reality an association for militant ostentation, or for defence against our agitation; but the ‘research’ can only be individual. At most two may join, one acting as assistant and amanuensis to the other. But a society as such can never study or investigate anything. (Of course I admit the dual co-operation of two complementary beings, on which you justly lay great stress, and which has proved so fruitful in your and your fellow-worker’s literary productions.)

            “In The Perfect Way, App. V, 23, (1) I read (there are three gates of sense), ‘The gate of the eye, the gate of the ear, and the gate of the touch.’ If you consider smell and taste as mere modes of touch, the vision and hearing must likewise be regarded under that category, all sense-perception implying some sort of contact (molar, molecular, or atomic) between interior and exterior. Is not your tripartition somewhat arbitrary?

            “But it would be pedantic to dwell on such details, which, I can assure you, in no way lessen my admiration for these unique writings. Such an apophthegm, for instance, as that which follows the verse just quoted, is so sublimely true that it matters little whether the physiological analogon that underlies it is a trias or a pentas.

            “Have you ever heard of Professor Jäger in Stuttgart, who has written a book on the discovery of the soul, and who tries to prove that the sense of smell is the highest, most refined, and immaterial of all the senses, and that, if a soul could be physically perceived, it would be through that sense alone? From a purely scientific and ‘astral’ point of view, the olfactory perception is a most mysterious phenomenon, since it reveals to us matter so highly attenuated that

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one might almost call it dematerialised matter, or perhaps ‘radiant’ matter, as Mr. Crookes calls it. The eye can only see surface, but the sense of smell seems to reveal the ‘essence’ or intrinsic quality of matter.”


            My reply to his criticism on our tripartite division of the senses elicited a cordial acceptance of the explanation. That explanation was as follows: –

            Smell, taste, and touch involve contact with the object itself that is perceived, no matter how finely divided it may be, as in the case of smell (which entirely does away with Professor Jäger’s hypothesis, which represents the fallacy of mistaking the infinitesimally small material for the spiritual, dematerialisation being an altogether different thing from minute subdivision). The other two senses, sight and hearing, involve contact, not with the object itself that is perceived, but with vibrations set up by that object in an intervening medium, such as the luminiferous ether, or the atmosphere.

            According to the teaching received by us, Cerberus, the three-headed dog, the conquest of which is the last and crowning feat of the spiritual Herakles, is the body, whose three heads are these three true senses. In its highest aspect this “labour” consists in the indrawal of the body from the physical into the spiritual to its complete dematerialisation, and constitutes the “ascension of Christ.” See The Perfect Way, VIII, 22, etc.





(139:1) See Vol. I, p. 201.

(140:1) This letter was not included in the previous Edition. It is taken from Part III, of the pamphlet referred to on p. 148 post. – S.H.H.

(141:1) See pp. 123-126 ante.

(143:1) See The Perfect Way, Lect. IV, par. 32.

(144:1) Luke V, 1-10.

(148:1) “A Letter to the Fellows of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society.” It is dated “Atcham, Shrewsbury, December 1883.”

(148:2) “Remarks and Propositions suggested by the perusal of Esoteric Buddhism.”

(148:3) The pamphlet also contained a third part, namely, Anna Kingsford’s letter, dated October 31, 1883, to the President of the T.S., Madras. (See p. 140 ante.)

(148:4) See pp. 123-126 ante.

(149:1) The reference is to the second part of the pamphlet, written by Edward Maitland.

(150:1) I must not be understood as questioning in this place the fact of planetary evolution and transmigration, but only as pointing out, in the actual version of it under consideration, a confusion which seems to arise from the mixture of the idea of spiritual states with that of physical localities. – A.K.

(154:1) The letter, dated October 31, 1883, written by Anna Kingsford to the President of the T.S., Madras. (See p. 140 ante.)

(158:1) The meeting was held on January 27, 1884.

(159:1) Samuel Ward, a noted representative American, and the uncle of Marion Crawford. His esteem for Anna Kingsford was great, and, Edward Maitland says, “his death, which followed not long afterwards, filled her with grief as for a valued friend of long standing.” – S.H.H.

(159:2) The telegram had been received by Anna Kingsford on December 9, 1883, after the printing of the pamphlet on Mr. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism, addressed to the Fellows of the London Lodge (see p. 148 ante). Further, in a letter dated “Adyar, November 25, 1883,” written by Madame H.P. Blavatsky to Anna Kingsford, and received by her on December 21, 1883, Madame Blavatsky, writing “under orders,” asserted that the policy and actions of Anna Kingsford were known to and approved of by the Mahatmas. The following is an extract from Madame Blavatsky’s letter: – “I happen to know – and I write this to Mr. Sinnett to-day – that notwithstanding your own doubts and slight misconceptions of our Masters, and the opposition you experienced (or rather Mr. Maitland) on the afternoon of October 26 – and all the rest, They are still desirous (and ‘more than ever,’ as my Guru expresses it) that you should kindly pursue your own policy, for they find it good. This I write à l’aveugle, for I know nothing either of the said policy or what has been the nature of the disagreement between you in its details, though acquainted with its general character. I simply communicate to you the Order I receive, and the words used. ‘Future alone will show why we take another view of the situation than Mr. Sinnett’ – are the words used. (...) I have always understood the Chelas to say that They – the Masters – knew and watched your proceedings, that you were notified of Their presence, and that you are the most wonderful sensitive in all Europe, not England alone.” – S.H.H.

(160:1) The rejoinder, which is dated March 18, 1884, is entitled Reply to the “Observations” of Mr. T. Subba Row, C.T.S. It is a joint pamphlet-letter by Anna Kingsford and Edward Maitland “to the Fellows of the L.L.T.S.” – S.H.H.

(161:1) The reference here is to the First Edition of The Perfect Way. For the corresponding passage in the present (Fourth) Edition, see Lecture VIII, pars. 49-51, both inclusive. – S.H.H.

(167:1) Baron Spedalieri. Anna Kingsford’s letter of March 11, 1884, was followed (on a page which she had left for the purpose) by one from Edward Maitland, at the end of which he referred to Baron Spedalieri. In his letter, which referred also to the then pending controversy, Edward Maitland said: – “With regard to the T.S., I shall say only that our critics seem to have forgotten that what we were criticising was not only Mr. Sinnett’s book, but Mr. Sinnett’s action and personal expositions in regard to the book, the effect of which, whatever may have been the intention, was obviously to substitute an atheistic occultism for all religion, Buddhist or Christian.” – S.H.H.

(170:1) I.e. the First Edition of The Perfect Way. (See n. 2, p. 33 ante.) The reference is to verse 28 of Anna Kingsford’s illumination, “Concerning the Great Work,” given in full in Clothed with the Sun (Nº. V). – S.H.H.



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