When the cat is abroad the mice dance in the house it seems. Since Colonel Olcott sailed for Japan, the Theosophist has never ceased to surprise its European readers, and especially the Fellows of our Society, with most unexpected capers. It is as if the Sphinx had emigrated from the Nile and was determined to continue offering her puzzles broadcast to the Œdipuses of the Society.
Now what may be the meaning of this extraordinary, and most tactless “sortie” of the esteemed acting editor of our Theosophist? Is he, owing to the relaxing climate of Southern India, ill, or like our (and his) editor-enemies across the Atlantic, also dreaming uncanny dreams and seeing Lying visions – or what? And let me remind him at once that he must not feel offended by these remarks, as he has imperatively called them forth himself. LUCIFER, the PATH and the THEOSOPHIST are the only organs of communication with the Fellows of our Society, each in its respective country. Since the acting editor of the Theosophist has chosen to give a wide publicity in his organ to abnormal fancies, he has no right to expect a reply through any other channel than LUCIFER. Moreover, if he fails to understand all the seriousness of his implied charges against me and several honourable men, he may realise them better, when he reads the present. Already his enigmatical letter to Light has done mischief enough. While its purport was evidently to fight some windmills of his own creation, an inimical spiritualist who signs “Colenso” has jumped at the good opportunity afforded him to misrepresent that letter. In his malicious philippic called “Koothoomi Dethroned” he seeks to show that Mr. Harte’s letter announces that the “Masters” are thrown overboard by the T. S. and “Mme. Blavatsky dethroned.” Is it this that “Richard Harte, acting editor of the Theosophist,” sought to convey to the Spiritualists in his letter in Light of July 6th?
Without further enquiry as to the real meaning of the Light letter, what does he try to insinuate by the following in the July number of the Theosophist?
The Editor of the Theosophist has much pleasure in publishing the following extracts from a letter from Mr. Bertram Keightley, Secretary of the “Esoteric Section” of the Theosophical Society, to one of the Commissioners, which have been handed to him for publication. It should be explained that the denial therein contained refers to certain surmises and reports afloat in the Society, and which were seemingly corroborated by apparently arbitrary and underhand proceedings by certain Fellows known to be members of the Esoteric Section.
To this 1, the “Head of the Esoteric Section,” answer:
1. Mr. Bertram Keightley’s letter, though containing the truth, and nothing but the truth, was never intended for publication, as a sentence in it proves. Therefore the acting Editor had no right to publish it.
2. Fellows of the E. S. having to be first of all Fellows of the Theosophical Society, what does the sentence “Fellows known to be members of the E. S.” – who stand accused by Mr. Harte (or even by some idiotic reports afloat in the Society) of “arbitrary and underhand proceedings” – mean? Is not such a sentence a gross insult thrown into the face of honourable men – far better Theosophists than any of their accusers – and of myself?
3. What were the silly reports? That the “British or the American Section,” and even the “Blavatsky Lodge” of the Theosophical Society wanted to “boss Adyar.” For this is what is said in the Theosophist in the alleged “disclaimer”:
Mr. Keightley tells this Commissioner that he must not believe “that the Esoteric Section has any, even the slightest, pretension to ‘boss’ the Theosophical Society or anything of the kind.” Again he says: “We are all, H.P.B. first and foremost, just as loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar as the Colonel can possibly he.” And yet again he says: “I have nothing more to say, except to repeat in the most formal and positive manner my assurance that there is not a word of truth in the statement that the Esoteric Section has any desire or pretension to ‘boss’ any other part or Section of the T. S.”
Amen! But before I reproduce the acting editor’s further marvellous comments thereon, I claim the right to say a few words on the subject. Since, as said, the letter was never meant to be paraded in print – chiefly, perhaps, because qui s’ excuse s’accuse – it is no criticism to show that it contains that which I would describe as a meaningless flap-doodle, or, rather, a pair of them, something quite pardonable in a private and hastily-written letter, but quite unpardonable and grotesque when appearing as a published document.
1st. That the E. S. had never any pretensions to “boss the T. S.” stands to reason: with the exception of Col. Olcott, the President, the Esoteric Section has nothing whatever to do with the Theosophical Society, its Council or officers. It is a Section entirely apart from the exoteric body, and independent of it, H.P.B. alone being responsible for its members, as shown in the official announcement over the signature of the President Founder himself. It follows, therefore, that the E. S., as a body, owes no allegiance whatever to the Theosophical Society, as a Society, least of all to Adyar.
2nd. It is pure nonsense to say that “H.P.B. . . . is loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar”(!?). H.P.B. is loyal to death to the Theosophical CAUSE, and those great Teachers whose philosophy can alone bind the whole of Humanity into one Brotherhood. Together with Col. Olcott, she is the chief Founder and Builder of the Society which was and is meant to represent that CAUSE; and if she is so loyal to H. S. Olcott, it is not at all because of his being its “President,” but, firstly, because there is no man living who has worked harder for that Society, or been more devoted to it than the Colonel, and, secondly, because she regards him as a loyal friend and co-worker. Therefore the degree of her sympathies with the “Theosophical Society and Adyar” depends upon the degree of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B., calling the T. S. disloyal, will shake it off like dust from her feet.
And what does “loyalty to Adyar” mean, in the name of all wonders? What is Adyar, apart from that CAUSE and the two (not one Founder, if you please) who represent it? Why not loyal to the compound or the bath-room of Adyar? Adyar is the present Headquarters of the Society, because these “Headquarters are wherever the President is,” as stated in the rules. To be logical, the Fellows of the T. S. had to be loyal to Japan while Col. Olcott was there, and to London during his presence here. There is no longer a “Parent Society”; it is abolished and replaced by an aggregate body of Theosophical Societies, all autonomous, as are the States of America, and all under one Head President, who, together with H. P. Blavatsky, will champion the CAUSE against the whole world. Such is the real state of things.
What then, again, can be the meaning of the following comments by the acting Editor, who follows Mr. Keightley’s letter with these profoundly wise remarks:
It is to be hoped that after this very distinct and authoritative disclaimer no further “private circulars” will be issued by any members of the Esoteric Section, calling upon the Fellows to oppose the action of the General Council, because “Madame Blavatsky does not approve of it”; and also that silly editorials, declaring that Theosophy is degenerating into obedience to the dictates of Madame Blavatsky, like that in a recent issue of the Religio-Philosophical Journal, will cease to appear.
Whenever “Madame Blavatsky does not approve” of “an action of the General Council,”1 she will say so openly and to their faces. Because (a) Madame Blavatsky does not owe the slightest allegiance to a Council which is liable at any moment to issue silly and untheosophical ukases; and (b) for the simple reason that she recognizes but one person in the T. S. besides herself, namely Colonel Olcott, as having the right of effecting fundamental re-organizations in a Society which owes its life to them, and for which they are both karmically responsible. If the acting editor makes slight account of a sacred pledge, neither Col. Olcott nor H. P. Blavatsky are likely to do so. H. P. Blavatsky will always bow before the decision of the majority of a Section or even a simple Branch; but she will ever protest against the decision of the General Council, were it composed of Archangels and Dhyan Chohans themselves, if their decision seems to her unjust, or untheosophical, or fails to meet with the approval of the majority of the Fellows. No more than H. P. Blavatsky has the President Founder the right of exercising autocracy or papal powers, and Col. Olcott would be the last man in the world to attempt to do so. It is the two Founders and especially the President, who have virtually sworn allegiance to the Fellows, whom they have to protect, and teach those who want to be taught, and not to tyrannize and rule over them.
And now I have said over my own signature what I had to say and that which ought to have been said in so many plain words long ago. The public is all agog with the silliest stories about our doings, and the supposed and real dissensions in the Society. Let every one know the truth at last, in which there is nothing to make any one ashamed, and which alone can put an end to a most painful and strained feeling. This truth is as simple as can be.
The acting editor of the Theosophist has taken it into his head that the Esoteric Section together with the British and American Sections, were either conspiring or preparing to conspire against what he most curiously calls “Adyar” and its authority. Now being a most devoted fellow of the T. S. and attached to the President, his zeal in hunting up this mare’s nest has led him to become more Catholic than the Pope. That is all, and I hope that such misunderstandings and hallucinations will come to an end with the return of the President to India. Had he been at home, he, at any rate, would have objected to all those dark hints and cloaked sayings that have of late incessantly appeared in the Theosophist to the great delight of our enemies. We readily understand that owing to lack of original contributions the acting editor should reproduce a bungled up and sensational report from the N. Y. Times and call it “Dr. Keightley speaks.” But when jumping at a sentence of Dr. Keightley’s, who in speaking of some “prominent members,” said that they had been “abandoned or been read out of the fold,” he gravely adds in a foot-note that this is “another mistake of the reporter,” as “no Fellow of the Theosophical Society has been expelled of recent years”; it is time some one should tell the esteemed acting editor plainly that for the pleasure of hitting imaginary enemies he allows the reader to think that he does not know what he is talking about. If through neglect at Adyar the names of the expelled Fellows have not been entered in the books, it does not follow that Sections and Branches like the “London Lodge” and others which are autonomous have not expelled, or had no right to expel, any one. Again, what on earth does he mean by pretending that the reporter has “confounded the Blavatsky Lodge with the Theosophical Society?” Is not the Blavatsky Lodge, like the London, Dublin, or any other “Lodge,” a branch of, and a Theosophical Society? What next shall we read in our unfortunate Theosophist?
But it is time for me to close. If Mr. Harte persists still in acting in such a strange and untheosophical way, then the sooner the President settles these matters the better for all concerned.
Owing to such undignified quibbles, Adyar and especially the Theosophist are fast becoming the laughing stock of Theosophists themselves as well as of their enemies; the bushels of letters received by me to that effect, being a good proof of it.
I end by assuring him that there is no need for him to pose as Colonel Olcott’s protecting angel. Neither he nor I need a third party to screen us from each other. We have worked and toiled and suffered together for fifteen long years, and if after all these years of mutual friendship the President Founder were capable of lending ear to insane accusations and turning against me, well – the world is wide enough for both. Let the new Exoteric Theosophical Society headed by Mr. Harte, play at red tape if the President lets them and let the General Council expel me for “disloyalty,” if again, Colonel Olcott should be so blind as to fail to see where the “true friend” and his duty lie. Only unless they hasten to do so, at the first sign of their disloyalty to the CAUSE – it is I who will have resigned my office of Corresponding Secretary for life and left the Society. This will not prevent me from remaining at the head of those – who will follow me.
Lucifer, August, 1889
H. P. Blavatsky