Re: Theos-World Steve, did you know Marion Meade "explains" the cup and saucer incident??
Mar 09, 2002 08:42 PM
by Steve Stubbs
I can't agree with Paul's statement that anything
which cannot be explained can still be dismissed even
though it cannot be explained. There are only two
possibilities here. Either the cup and saucer
phenomenon was a phenomenon or it was not. If it is
impossible for it to have been a trick, then it must
indeed have been a materialization by default.
Now let us consider the theories that have been
advanced as to how it could have been done by
Theory Numero Uno: Blavatsky has the tea cup and
saucer planted in the ground months or years before
the "phenomenon," during which time tree roots grew
all around them and the ground hardened. This theory
makes no sense because it assumes (1) that Blavatsky
could plan a phenomenon years before the fact, and (2)
that she could remember years later the precise spot
at which the objects were planted. This theory is too
absurd for words.
Theory Numero Duo: That Babula tunneled through
several meters of ground, did this on short notice,
and somehow deposited the cup and saucer in the ground
from below. He then packed the earth in such a way as
to make it appear the cup and saucer were in tightly
packed ground and he covered up any evidence of
tunneling. That makes no sense because it would have
required special tools and a very clever coolie. I
couldn't do it, and from what I have read about
Babula, anything I couldn't do I don't think he could
have done either. It also assumes Sinnett and Olcott
were extraordinarily stupid men who were unable to
find plain evidence of a tunnel having been excavated.
Emma Coulomb says Babula confessed to her that that is
how it was done. But since it is the uncorroborated
testimony of a known liar, Emma Coulomb's word has no
evidential value whatever. The fact that Meade would
credit anything Emma said indicates her value as a
That said, there is a third possibility, not broached
by Emma, Sinnett, Henderson, or anyone else. We know
Sinnett was an incredibly lazy man, as were all the
other Englishmen in India, or, as he would have
preferred to say it, that he was a gentleman of
leisure. He had a full time job as editor of the
PIONEER, but only worked a couple of hours a day.
When he was fired, he blamed that on his Theosophical
connection, but the truth could very well be that his
boss decided to replace him with someone who could be
expected to shake a leg.
So here we have a very hot day in India. It is
proposed to take a shovel and dig into hard ground
which is impacted with tree roots in the middle of a
boiling hot day. I can guarantee you that Sinnett did
not turn a hand in that operation, but entrusted the
job to one of the Indian servants, while he laid back
The servant, who is not a confederate, then spends
some considerable time trying to break through hard
ground and tree roots. This is not very entertaining
so Sinnett and the others get bored. At some point
they are easily distracted by conversation. The
digging goes on but nobody is watching what is
Suddenly, one of the chelas walks up and quietly
offers to take over so the servant can have a rest.
By this time there is a hole large enough that a cup
and saucer can be inserted in it. While nobody is
looking, the chela inserts the objects, then calls the
attention of the previously distracted Europeans to
his "find". It was not necessary for the original
servant to conceal these objects on his person because
they were brought to the scene by the chela.
If he wanted to get really slick about it, he could
have filled a small pan with mud, then inserted the
cup and saucer in it. He could have then cooked the
system slowly, so as to dry the mud without turning it
into brick. He could then insert the whole thing into
the ground, so that the observers could watch the cup
and saucer being dug out of packed earth. If they
were extracted properly, there would be no evidence of
how the trick was done.
Now I hope nobody is cynical enough to think this is
how the deed was actually done, as opposed to an
astonishing and unexplainable miraculous
materialization of a cup and saucer out of thin air.
But I do think as historians we can dismiss theories
#1 and #2 above completely out of hand, since they are
both wildly impractical. This new theory of mine
would be a way of producing the phenomenon by trickery
if one wanted to do so, and as Maskelyne once said, it
could be done by "the merest tyro in conjuring." It
wouldn't take a Houdini, in other words.
Now let us consider a fourth possibility. This is the
"phenomenal" hypothesis. This assumes there was a cup
and saucer somewhere in the world and presumably that
it was owned by Blavatsky, since otherwise she would
have had to steal it, thereby violating one of the
Five Grave Precepts. The cup and saucer both were
disintegrated in one place and reintegrated in the
ground. Blavatsky therefore did not "create" them,
but rather teleported them from one place to another.
I believe this word "teleport" was invented by Charles
This fourth possibility is the one which will appeal
to Theosophists. It is apparent what happened was
either the third possibility or the fourth
possibility. But the claim was not made by Blavatsky
herself that she "created" something which did not
previously exist. This is an important distinction.
Now let us apply this to the origin of the universe.
Suppose an observer were present at this event.
According to the Blavatskyan interpretation, the
observer would see the celestial bodies seemingly
coming into existence out of nothing. It would not
really be out of nothing, because "empty" space is not
really empty. It only appears to be. But that is
what the observer would observe, or what he would
think he observed.
Now suppose that this process is similar to the
teleportation of the cup and saucer mentioned earlier.
The universe would have to "disintegrate" at the
beginning of pralaya so that it could "reintegrate" at
the end of pralaya and the beginning of manvantara.
The cup and saucer, assuming the phenomenon was
genuine, would be a demo of the process whereby the
visible bodies in the universe came into manifestation
at the beginning of the manvantara. I am not saying
the phenomenon was real, because some cynics are going
to assume that hypothesis #3 above is the correct
explanation. To tell the truth, I am inclined that
way myself. But the INTENT of the demo was to at
least seem to demonstrate the process described in the
first volume of the SD.
The beginning of each manvantara would therefore
presume the end of a previous one, so that the
universe did not come into existence for the first
time, but has been going through endless cycles
throughout eternity. Going back to the teleportation
analogy, the cup would have to exist before it could
be disintegrated and it would have to be disintegrated
before it could be reintegrated.
The fact that you and I are conscious seems to be
proof that there is consciousness in the universe. I
don't see how anyone can dispute that. And the
concept of Being seems to imply consciousness as well
as objectivity (i.e., the possibility of becoming an
object of consciousness to The Other.) I do not see
how Being can be dissociated from consciousness, in
other words, even though that consciousness may be
primitive in some cases. It is therefore reasonable
to assert that if this theory of Manu and Kapila that
the universe has gone through endless cycles of
manvantara and pralaya is true, that consciousness is
involved in the process.
Since man participates in the consciousness that
exists throughout the universe, Blavatsky therefore
asserts that man has access to the creative forces
that called the universe into existence at manvantaric
If you are intersted in the SD, consider this and some
new things will start opening up.
Of course that explanation merely scratches the
surface of an extremely interesting and abstruse line
And it is also likely the cup and saucer phenomenon
was just a trick.
--- Daniel Caldwell <email@example.com> wrote:
> Brigitte Muehlegger now tells us to look for an
> explanation about the teacup and saucer incident in
> Marion Meade's MADAME BLAVATSKY, p.223-224.
> Brigitte, do you actually agree with Meade's
> Is Meade's explanation just one of many "possible"
> explanations or is Meade's explanation the most
> "probable" explanation in light of all the known
> evidence? In other words, are we at step 2 or at
> 4 with Meade's "explanation"?
> Anyway, as Brigitte ponders the above, I give
> "At the time and even later Alfred could find no
> loopholes in what came to be known as 'the cup and
> saucer incident.' He based his conviction mainly on
> the fact that Madame Blavatsky could not have known
> advance that there would be seven guests in the
> as the judge had arrived only at the last minute.
> OBVIOUSLY she did know, and so did Patience Sinnett
> because Olcott overheard her telling the butler: 'It
> was very stupid of you not to put in another cup and
> saucer when you knew that the other gentleman would
> have to have tea.' It seems reasonable TO ASSUME
> H.P.B. had instructed Babula to bury the cup and
> saucer, then led the picnickers to the spot herself.
> In fact, this notion had already occurred to the
> and police chief who later in the afternoon examined
> the site. Their final conclusion was that it was
> theoretically POSSIBLE for someone to have tunneled
> from below and thrust the cup and saucer up into the
> place where they were discovered. Apparently Babula
> later confided to Emma Coulomb that this was exactly
> what he had done. In the experts' opinion, the
> phenomenon could not be accepted as scientifically
> perfect and, somewhat indelicately, they
> challenged her to repeat it under test conditions.
> Helena, who had worked hard to stage the tableau,
> could not keep herself from exploding. Henry vividly
> remembered that 'she seemed to take leave of her
> senses and poured out upon the two unfortunate
> skeptics the thunder of her wrath. And so our
> party ended in an angry tempest.' " Caps added
> Well, Steve, what do you think of Meade's
> Now a few more questions to ponder:
> Is Meade actually explaining the incident [at step
> or is Meade simply speculating [at step 2]? See 4
> Process at:
> Is Meade simply using the "unpacking" method I've
> described before?
> As Ray Hyman wrote: "it is ALWAYS possible to
> 'imagine' SOME scenario in which cheating no matter
> how implausible, COULD HAVE occurred." Caps added.
> This is a step 2 technique.
> Is Meade simply using the "possibility/plausibility"
> method of argument? See
> for an example.
> Has Meade followed the Barzun and Graffe dictum?
> "The rule of 'Give Evidence' is not be be violated.
> . .No matter how possible or plausible the author's
> conjecture it cannot be accepted as truth if he has
> only his hunch [which is not evidence] to support
> Truth rests not on possibility or plausibility but
> probability. Probability means the balance of
> that, GIVEN SUCH AND SUCH EVIDENCE, the event it
> records happened in a certain way; or, in other
> that a supposed event did not in fact take place."
> Caps added.
> Daniel H. Caldwell
> BLAVATSKY ARCHIVES
> "...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate
> at their right value; and unless a judge compares
> notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a
> correct decision."
> H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.
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