[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

HPB on Reincarnation

Apr 27, 1998 10:06 AM
by Daniel H Caldwell

HPB on Reincarnation

by Daniel H. Caldwell

Concerning the various comments made concerning HPB
and her knowledge of "reincarnation":

Please note that in a letter dated April 12, 1875 (ie
very near the beginning of her public career) HPB
writes privately to Alexander Aksakof and mentions
in the course of her letter the name of Allan Kardec.
After his name, she adds:

"(though I do not believe in reincarnation in the same
sense as the French spiritists)" quoted in A MODERN


Context is always needed as Jerry Ekins consistently
points out. Consider what HPB writes on "reincarnation"
in ISIS UNVEILED, I, PP. 346-357.

What is HPB commenting on when she writes about
"reincarnation" on p. 351 of the same volume of
ISIS? WHAT IS THE CONTEXT?? In what sense does
she use the term "reincarnation"?

In 1875 (the date I quote from memory) Anna Blackwell translated
one of Allan Kardec's books into English. If one
goes and reads the various issues of the spiritualistic
periodicals of that time, you will find
many articles written discussing Kardec's views
on reincarnation. It was a heated discussion with
lots of controversy. [See the pages of THE SPIRITUALIST,

HP Blavatsky's comments in ISIS should be viewed in this
context and from this perspective.

Concerning these pages in ISIS, Mahatma M.

"By-the-bye, I'll re-write for you pages 345 to 357, Vol.
I., of ISIS---much jumbled, and confused by Olcott, who
thought he was improving it."

This is ML #13 in the first 3
editions. M. was writing in Jan. 1882 more than 10 years
BEFORE Olcott's "Old Diary Leaves" comments on HPB,
ISIS and "reincarnation".

Writers will quote Olcott but will NOT also quote and
compare what is said by HPB in later years about
her "reincarnation" comments in ISIS. Also
one should carefully read and compare EVERYTHING
the Mahatmas wrote about ISIS and reincarnation in their
letters. All of this is very relevant to the
subject and needs to be considered if one is to
have a balanced view on the subject.

I will be bold enough to say that if HPB was alive
today she would probably write against "quickie rebirth" being
viewed as *real* reincarnation. In many New Age books,
in the readings of Edgar Cayce, and the books of Dr.
Ian Stevenson, one gains the impression that
"reincarnation" occurs quickly, i.e., within a few
months to several years from the death of the "previous
person". There is no kamaloka, no devachan. In the
writings of HPB and her Masters we get a quite different
picture involving karmaloka, devachan, etc.

I've only scratched the surface on this subject.
There is much, much more to be said on this subject.

I know of no published book or article that has dealt
*comprehensively* with the subject matter of this

K. Paul Johnson wrote:
> Frank asks "what evidence?" in respopnse to my assertion that the
> evidence argues against the Theosophical dogma that HPB knew
> everything significant that appears in her writings before she
> started to write in 1874. That could generate a voluminous
> answer, but the simple answer is "Check out The Theosophical
> Enlightenment by Joscelyn Godwin" since this book goes into great
> length on the matter. I will mention a couple of pieces of
> evidence reported in my own books that are relevant, though.
> According to Dayananda's letters, HPB was an avid student of
> Sanskrit under him and was making tremendous progress as of the
> early 1880s. How can it be merely coincidental that her writings
> after that period are far more detailed and accurate about
> Hinduism than was Isis Unveiled? (Again, don't demand proof of
> this, but look to the sources and you will see it; she relies on
> dubious secondary sources in Isis, and cites far more reliable
> primary sources in the SD.) Another example of her learning is
> that the material on Tibetan Buddhism found in her very late
> writings is far more consistent with available source material on
> the subject than the things she earlier presented as emanating
> from Tibetan sources. As for conflicts indicating that she had
> no profound understanding of things Tibetan during her public
> career, I would refer you to an article by Ian Brown, a Gelugpa
> initiate, that was originally presented as a paper at a
> Theosophical History Conference in the 1980s. His article was in
> TH but I don't know the date.
> You may be right that she privately taught reincarnation from the
> beginning, but it appears that Judge's testimony conflicts with
> Olcott's on this, and I would favor the latter as having much
> more contact with her. I originally read the Collected Writings
> through the lens of Theosophical dogma, i.e. that she knew it all
> at the start and unveiled her knowledge gradually according to
> circumstances and orders. But rereading them in light of
> historical information about her associations during her public
> career shows influences constantly coming in that coincide with
> changes of emphasis and new kinds of information appearing.
> Cheers,
> Paul

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application