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RE: Theos-World Rich Taylor on a very disturbing issue with far reaching implications

Nov 14, 1999 05:11 AM
by W. Dallas TenBroeck

Nov 13 1999

	Re:  Rich Taylor 2nd Chapter draft on BN
		-- Questions & Comments by Dallas TenBroeck

Dear Daniel

I quickly read through Rich's posting on BN regarding the 2nd
chapter (draft) of his thesis.-- and your notes and comments.
(appended hereto)

I will refer hereafter to Mme. Blavatsky, for brevity, as "HPB."

I would say that HPB ought to be here to answer his comments.  As
she is not, I will try to answer those that I feel able to.  But,
I see that perhaps she did so in advance.

I have said before (and repeat now)  it is hardly fair to attempt
to pillory HPB in her absence, and perhaps by making comparisons
with texts that may not be authentic.


I would say, as I have in the past again:  I do wish to make sure
that the source for the texts that are quoted is accurate.
Also, in the mater of ancient texts, whether they are modern
copies (who vouches for their accuracy ?) or are the original
texts written by the hand of the authors that are claimed for
them.  That is important.  [I would say that the recent
discussion on the "Tantras" has made this clear, especially in
the case of those that are "today" attributed to Tsong-kha-pa
when he lived in the 14th Cent.]

	"Eye" vs. "Heart" Doctrines

The Occultists claim that the accuracy in doctrine of any
document is ascertainable by them because they know what the
"Heart Doctrine" is.  Scholars and orientalists today are
essentially limited to the "EYE-Doctrine," they have no other
source (and even that may be faulty if the MSS they use are not
authentic copies - as I say above).  Literalism is not the point
or the question.  Accuracy in doctrine and in motive is.  Do the
academics deal in that?  Are they capable of dealing in that?  Do
they have the requisite  knowledge?  If I were such a scholar,
would I not make certain that my observations were based on a
careful disclaimer of that nature. [ see footnote in VOICE, p.
25,  ULT edition  (at the beginning of THE TWO PATHS) on the
difference between the 2 doctrines.]

	HPB's DISCLAIMERS to be considered

I think he is less than generous in his phrasing characterizing
HPB, and does not seem to be aware of her disclaimers -- at least
he does not mention them, and to be fair, I think he ought to.
He has to rest on his own integrity and the integrity of that
which he is comparing and criticizing.  It is integrity alone
that will gain for him the honor he seeks as a student.  Either
what he says is true or he will be on the defensive for the rest
of his life once that he has published.  I say this as a long
time editor of scientific texts.  One has to be very cautious so
as to cover all possibilities.  No one's studies are ever totally
accurate, and especially in the absence of the person who is best
qualified to answer questions and queries, namely, in this case
HPB.  It is neither safe, nor is it very generous to blame her
for things that she may not be responsible for.

She states in many places that she was writing on behalf of (or
even under the dictation of) the Masters of Wisdom, whether one
"believes" in them or not -- Olcott and Wachmeister (among
others) make corroborating reports of this, and she says so
repeatedly.  [ They (the Masters) have also authenticated this
fact to Dr. Hubbe-Schleiden --- see PATH magazine, April 1892,
Vol. 8, pp. 1-3 ].  She also says that much if not all she wrote,
was supervised or reviewed by them.  She does say in regard to
ISIS that the proof-readers made errors.  It is also to be
remembered, (as detailed by her in MY BOOKS) that her own
knowledge of English was fragmentary.  She depended on Olcott and
others for making it readable.

Her writing might be criticized, as she did herself, and her own
critique ought to be offered for the consideration of the reader.
In my opinion Rich ought not to open himself to criticism by
those who have read more extensively than he has in theosophical
history and literature.  I would also add that if he had first
consulted you, you could have pointed this out to him.  In any
case it is only a draft, and he may decide if he wants to make
himself more criticism-proof to suitably modify it.

	Sources, Accuracy, Acknowledgment

HPB (and the Masters) evidently employed selected passages from
both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism in showing how Theosophy
coheres, not only as doctrine, but also as a base for practice
and self-improvement if the reader decided to make applications
of the ethics that are exposed for use by himself.

But HPB did far more than employ Buddhism, she also used
Hinduism, ancient Chinese and Japanese philosophy, Tibetan,
Zoroastrian,  Chaldean, Hebrew, Egyptian, Greek, Scandinavian and
other systems.  HPB writes of "pre-Vedic Buddhism"  (or
Bodhism -- 'wisdom' that antecedes the Vedas -- and indicates
that the teachings of Sakyamuni, Gautama the most recent Buddha
are in line with those antique doctrines and statements.  As I
believe, our Academies and Orientalist "authorities" do not
"recognize" such claims and have no basis of "Eye doctrine"
documentation to "prove" this.  They may reject the claim without
being able to say either yes or no.

She did not write for "scholars" but for those interested in the
philosophy of the soul. She drew on innumerable sources, not all
referenced, as she states in her last article MY BOOKS -- dated
April 27 1891 and published in the May 1891 issue of LUCIFER at
the time of her death. [BCW  I3, p. 191]

She made it clear, as one can read in the Introductions and
Prefaces to ISIS UNVEILED, and again in  the SECRET DOCTRINE,
that she was the "writer under dictation," not an author claiming
primacy in  presentation.

	HPB Made no Special claims for Herself

At no time did she ever exhibit pride in authorship, nor claim
that she was doing anything more than providing the needed
messaging source, for the teachings of the ETERNAL PHILOSOPHY,
(or the WISDOM RELIGION) to re-emerge.  She claimed only to be
the "string" that was used to bind a nosegay of culled flowers.
[SD I xlvi]   But she also averred that "ISIS contains a mass of
original and never hitherto divulged information on occult
subjects."  At the end of her last article "MY BOOKS," she says
regarding the SECRET DOCTRINE that "from first to last...the
fundamental doctrine, the philosophical conclusions and
teachings...nothing of that have I invented, but simply given it
out as I have been taught..."  Her modesty alone assures her of
deep respect.

	Volume 3 of THE SECRET DOCTRINE (Published posthumously)

I note that Rich has quoted from "Vol. 3, p 415" of the SECRET
DOCTRINE and this was material assembled from unedited and
unpublished manuscripts AFTER HPB's death.  It contains
manuscripts that HPB had not edited or reviewed for final
publication.  She ought not be given the responsibility for their
use by those who constituted themselves her succeeding editors,
and who also made extensive changes (unauthorized and
unsanctioned by her) in the original text of the 1888 edition of
that book, issued in 1894, three years after her death, in my

	Plagiarism and Piracy

As an editor of some experience myself, plagiarism has been
defined as an actual verbatim use of large sections of text which
are appropriated from another's work, and embodied as though they
were original in the body of one's own (supposedly novel)
production.  HPB claimed no novelty.  As said earlier she said
she was a reporter writing under dictation.  To be strictly
accurate, one might attack the wording of her text, but not her.
She quite apparently did not have any ordinary motives.

Further, I would not call the very partial, phrases, words and
so-called parallel expressions and explanations used by HPB --
that Rich has offered  as examples of "plagiarism".  As an
example of what I mean, one need only compare the parallel
meanings of words that WEBSTER'S DICTIONARY offers in comparison
with the wording and the explanation given in (for the same word)
ENCYCLOPEDIA and compare its definitions as contained in a
similar work published by MCGRAW HILL, or the entries that one
can read in the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA.  Any one will soon see
that in explaining scientific or philosophical and metaphysical
words and data a parallelism of expression is essential to enable
these works to be factually and usefully offered to a reader.
The great question then would be:  Who plagiarized from whom?
Personally, I see no plagiarism in the examples that are
advanced, nor any special "appropriation" of another's
explanations.  Does every one who says "2 + 2 = 4" plagiarize?
Does everyone who uses Einstein's relativity formula:  " E = MC2"
without mentioning his name and a source plagiarize?


Incidentally in the VOICE OF THE SILENCE you state that somewhere
HPB has appropriated text from Schlagintweit, do you mean in the
footnotes on p. 51, and, or p. 77 (of the ULT Edition that I use)
where S. is mentioned?  What sections of text are meant ?  Is
this a few words or a whole page or what?  How are they used?
Can some more be given?

I am somewhat nonplused at the neglect of investigating the
nature of the "Heart" doctrine?  If that is mentioned many times
in the VOICE there has to be a good reason for it.  Even if
Academia as a whole does not yet recognize or approve, there are
some scholars who are beginning to take this "Heart-doctrine"
into account -- but how do we know that gradually the field of
orientalism and antiquarianism will not do so as a whole, when
they gain the opportunity of making broader comparisons?  Then,
perhaps they will find that HPB (on behalf of the Masters of
Wisdom) only opened a portal to a far wider vista than they are
at present aware of ?   After all our Western orientalism is
hardly 300 years old.

Best wishes,




-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of
Sent: Friday, November 12, 1999 8:38 AM
To: Caldwell, Daniel
Subject: Theos-World Rich Taylor on a very disturbing issue with
reaching implications

Rich Taylor writes in the rough draft of his dissertation on
Blavatsky and

"I merely state here the objective fact that Blavatsky's writings
the words and ideas of other Western writers, unacknowledged, and
that these
appropriations sometimes are made to appear as emanating from a
hidden or
occult source like Tibetan Buddhist Tantras."   See

One should be aware that Rich's contention of "appropriation" is
contrast to what Anita Atkins (Sylvia Cranston) and Michael Gomes
publicly stated in their biographical writings on Blavatsky.  See
dissertation for his detailed documentation.

Earlier in the same section, Rich gives more details:

"HPB has altered Schlagintweit's text [in his THE BUDDHISM OF
especially the correspondences in the three realms-but there is
no question
that overall she has lifted this passage from his book
originally. Nota bene
Blavatsky's footnote, where she claims to be giving out
statements from the
secret portions of the Kålachakra Tantra. However, HPB's
statements are
merely rephrasings of Schlagintweit, taken from his chapter on
where he gives the Tibetan translation Dus Kyi Khorlo-a
technically correct
and not a phonetic spelling, which as we have seen (at length
above) was the
habit of HPB. In HPB's ten-page chapter entitled "The Mystery of
which this passage is taken from, Blavatsky does not mention even
Schlagintweit, his book, or any contemporary Western author
except A.P.
Sinnett, her student. For all HPB's unique knowledge of
Kålachakra Tantra,
as described in the previous section, this appropriation of
published work
(and many others like it) would appear to be quite damaging to
her claims."

If the unacknoweledged appropriations appear damaging, what
appears even
worse is that "these appropriations sometimes are MADE TO APPEAR
emanating from a hidden or occult source like Tibetan Buddhist

Why would Blavatsky attribute appropriated material from
book  to a hidden or occult source?

And I believe there is at least one example of this in HPB's
translation of
the VOICE where she appropriates text from Schlagintweit and
makes it appear
to be from a "hidden or occult source"!

How many more examples are there of this kind of which we are

I'm curious Rich:  Has anyone written to you about any of this
after reading
your dissertation on Blavatsky Net?


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