A Note On Eliphas Lévi

[To the Editor of “The Theosophist.”] Madam, – Since you have published a posthumous letter of my master and beloved friend, the late Éliphas Lévi, I think it would be agreeable to you to publish, if judged suitable, a few extracts of the many manuscripts in my possession, written expressly for, and given to, me by my ever regretted master. To begin with, I send you “Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan” from his pen. I cannot close this letter without expressing the deep indignation aroused in me by the base diatribes published in the London Spiritualist against your Society and its members. Every honest heart is irritated at such unfair treatment, especially when proceeding from a man of honour as Mr. Harrison (editor of The Spiritualist) who admits in his journal anonymous contributions that are tantamount to libels. With the utmost respect, I remain, Madam, Yours devotedly, – […] Read More

1879: “Not A Christian”!

Before entering upon the main question that compels me to ask you kindly to accord me space in your esteemed paper, will you inform me as to the nature of that newly-born infant prodigy which calls itself The Bombay Review? Is it a bigoted, sectarian organ of the Christians, or an impartial journal, fair to all, and unprejudiced as every respectable paper styling itself “Review” ought to be, especially in a place like Bombay, where such a diversity of religious opinions is to be found? The two paragraphs in the number of February 22nd, which so honour the Theosophical Society by a double notice of its American members, would force me to incline toward the former opinion. Both the editorial which attacks my esteemed friend, Miss Bates, and the apocalyptic vision of the modern Ezekiel, alias “Anthropologist,” who shoots his rather blunt arrows at Col. Olcott, require an answer, […] Read More

1889: A Puzzle from Adyar

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 […] Read More

1882: Esoteric Axioms And Spiritual Speculations

    In a lengthy review of A. Lillie’s book, Buddha and Early Buddhism, by M. A. (Oxon), our esteemed friend, the critic, takes the opportunity for another quiet little fling at his well-wishers, the Theosophists. On the authority (?) of Mr. Lillie, who seems to know all about it, the reviewer contradicts and exposes the assertions made and theories enunciated by the Theosophists. We will now quote from his review “Buddhism and Western Thought,” published in the October number of the Psychological Review:     “It will be evident to any reader, who has followed me so far, that the Buddhist belief is permeated by what I have described as a distinctive, ‘a peculiar note of Modern Spiritualism – the presence and guardianship of departed spirits'(!?)1 I confess that this struck me with some surprise, and, I may say, pleased surprise, for I had come to think that there was […] Read More

H. P. Blavatsky on Precipitation and Other Matters

[The following is the greater part of a letter written by H. P. Blavatsky some years ago at a time when, subsequent to the Psychical Research Society’s Report on Theosophical phenomena, not only the public but fellow members of the Society were doubting her, doubting themselves, doubting the Adepts. Its publication now will throw upon her character a light not otherwise obtainable. Written to an intimate and old friend for his information and benefit, it bears all the indicia of being out of the heart from one old friend to another. Those who have faith in her and in the Masters behind her will gain benefit and knowledge from its perusal.] Now what you advise me to do, I have for the last three or four years attempted most seriously. Dozens of times I have declared that I shall not put the Masters any worldly questions or submit before […] Read More

Echoes From India

What Is Hindu Spiritualism? Phenomena in India – beside the undoubted interest they offer in themselves, and apart from their great variety and in most instances utter dissimilarity from those we are accustomed to hear of in Europe and America—possess another feature which makes them worthy of the most serious attention of the investigator of Psychology. Whether Eastern phenomena are to be accounted for by the immediate interference and help of the spirits of the departed, or attributed to some other and hitherto unknown cause, is a question which, for the present, we will leave aside. It can be discussed, with some degree of confidence, only after many instances have been carefully noted and submitted, in all their truthful and unexaggerated details, to an impartial and unprejudiced public. One thing I beg to reaffirm, and this is, that instead of exacting the usual “conditions” of darkness, harmonious circles, and […] Read More

1884: Mahatmas and Chelas

A MAHATMA is a personage, who, by special training and education, has evolved those higher faculties and has attained that spiritual knowledge, which ordinary humanity will acquire after passing through numberless series of reincarnations during the process of cosmic evolution, provided, of course, that they do not go, in the meanwhile, against the purposes of Nature and thus bring on their own annihilation. This process of the self-evolution of the MAHATMA extends over a number of “incarnations,” although, comparatively speaking, they are very few. Now, what is it that incarnates? The occult doctrine, so far as it is given out, shows that the first three principles die more or less with what is called the physical death. The fourth principle, together with the lower portions of the fifth, in which reside the animal propensities, has Kama Loka for its abode, where it suffers the throes of disintegration in proportion […] Read More

Mistaken Notions on the ‘Secret Doctrine’

    Ever since the publication of the Secret Doctrine Students of Theosophy (outside the inner ring of Occult Sciences) have complained that the teachings contained in the work do not satisfy them. One, mentioning the lengthy and rabid abuse of it by an old, though really insignificant, if brutal, enemy, takes me to task for leaving a door open to such criticism by taking too little into account modern science and modern thought(!); another complains that my explanations are not complete; thus, he says:     For the last ten years, I have been a close reader of theosophical literature. I have read and re-read the Secret Doctrine and collated passages, and nothing is more disheartening than to find some of the best explanations on Occult points, just as they begin to grow a little lucid, marred by a reference to some exoteric philosophy or religion, which breaks up the train of […] Read More

Pertinent Questions

    Will you or any of your readers enlighten me on the following points: What is a Yogi? Can he be classed with a Mahatma? Can Visvamitra, Valmiki, Vasistha and other Rishis be classed with the Yogis and the Mahatmas? Or with the Mahatmas only? Or with the Yogis only? Did the Yogis know Occult Science? Is vegetarianism necessary for the study and development of Occult Science? Did our Rishis know Occult sciences? By throwing some light on the above questions you will oblige. Yours truly, – H. N. VAKIL Bombay, 30th April 1883, 161, Malabar Hill. __________________ WE REPLY 1. A Yogi in India is a very elastic word. It now serves generally to designate a very dirty, dung-covered and naked individual, who never cuts nor combs his hair, covers himself from forehead to heels with wet ashes, performs Pranayam, without realizing its true meaning, and lives upon alms. […] Read More