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The S.S. Shannon Letter from Koot Hoomi

Nov 03, 2002 10:42 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

Below is most of the S.S. Shannon Letter written by Master Koot Hoomi 
to Henry S. Olcott. The letter was received by Colonel Olcott on 
August 22, 1888 on board the S.S. Shannon in the Mediterranean Sea. 
Olcott was on his way to London. Madame Blavatsky was living in 
London at this time. 

In Olcott's handwritten diary for the above date, I find the 
following notation: 

"Weather fine. Received in my cabin while dressing a [three dots 
here in the form of a triangle] letter of instructions."


Again, as you approach London I have a word or two to say to you. 
Your impressibility is so changeful that I must not wholly depend 
upon it at this critical time. Of course you know that things were so 
brought to a focus as to necessitate the present journey and that the 
inspiration to make it came to you and to permit it to the 
Councillors from without. Put all needed restraint upon your 
feelings, so that you may do the right thing in this Western 
imbroglio. Watch your first impressions. The mistakes you make spring 
from failure to do this. Let neither your personal predilections, 
affections, suspicions nor antipathies affect your action. 

Misunderstandings have grown up between Fellows both in London and 
Paris, which imperil the interests of the movement. You will be told 
that the chief originator of most, if not of all these disturbances 
is H. P. B. This is not so; though her presence in England has, of 
course, a share in them. But the largest share rests with others, 
whose serene unconsciousness of their own defects is very marked and 
much to be blamed. One of the most valuable effects of Upasika's 
mission is that it drives men to self-study and destroys in them 
blind servility for persons. Observe your own case, for example. 
But your revolt, good friend, against her infallibility -- as you 
once thought it -- has gone too far and you have been unjust to her, 
for which I am sorry to say, you will have to suffer hereafter along 
with others. JUST NOW, ON DECK, your thoughts about her were dark and 
sinful, and so I find the moment a fitting one to put you on your 

Try to remove such misconceptions as you will find, by kind 
persuasion and an appeal to the feelings of loyalty to the Cause of 
truth if not to us. Make all these men feel that we have no 
favourites, nor affections for persons, but only for their good acts 
and humanity as a whole. But we employ agents -- the best available. 
Of these for the past thirty years the chief has been the personality 
known as H. P. B. to the world (but otherwise to us). Imperfect and 
very troublesome, no doubt, she proves to some, nevertheless, there 
is no likelihood of our finding a better one for years to come -- and 
your theosophists should be made to understand it. Since 1885 I have 
not written, nor caused to be written save thro' her agency, direct 
or remote, a letter or line to anybody in Europe or America, nor 
communicated orally with, or thro' any third party. Theosophists 
should learn it. You will understand later the significance of this 
declaration so keep it in mind. Her fidelity to our work being 
constant, and her sufferings having come upon her thro' it, neither I 
nor either of my Brother associates will desert or supplant her. As I 
once before remarked, ingratitude is not among our vices. 

With yourself our relations are direct, and have been with the rare 
exceptions you know of, like the present, on the psychical plane, and 
so will continue thro' force of circumstances. That they are so rare -
- is your own fault as I told you in my last. 

To help you in your present perplexity: H. P. B. has next to no 
concern with administrative details, and should be kept clear of 
them, so far as her strong nature can be controlled. But this you 
must tell to all: -- With occult matters she has everything to do. We 
have not abandoned her; she is not "given over to chelas." She is our 
direct agent. I warn you against permitting your suspicions and 
resentment against "her many follies" to bias your intuitive loyalty 
to her. In the adjustment of this European business, you will have 
two things to consider -- the external and administrative, and the 
internal and psychical. Keep the former under your control and that 
of your most prudent associates, jointly; leave the latter to her. 
You are left to devise the practical details with your usual 
ingenuity. Only be careful, I say, to discriminate when some emergent 
interference of hers in practical affairs is referred to you on 
appeal, between that which is merely exoteric in origin and effects, 
and that which beginning on the practical tends to beget consequences 
on the spiritual plane. As to the former you are the best judge, as 
to the latter, she. 

I have also noted, your thoughts about the "Secret Doctrine." Be 
assured that what she has not annotated from scientific and other 
works, we have given or suggested to her. Every mistake or erroneous 
notion, corrected and explained by her from the works of other 
theosophists was corrected by me, or under my instruction. It is a 
more valuable work than its predecessor, an epitome of occult truths 
that will make it a source of information and instruction for the 
earnest student for long years to come. . . . 

You had better not mention for the present this letter to anyone -- 
not even to H.P.B. unless she speaks to you of it herself. Time 
enough when you see occasion arise. It is merely given you, as a 
warning and a guide; to others, as a warning only, for you may use it 
discreetly if needs be. -- K.H. -- Letters from the Masters of the 
Wisdom, First Series, Letter 19, 5th edition. caps added.

Quoted from:

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