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Re: Theos-World Some Comments on Publication of The Mahatma Letters and HPB's Es

Nov 26, 2002 03:36 PM
by Steven Levey

Daniel-I agree with most of what you said, but I have not seen such a prohibition. Perhaps each lodge in the ULT has different expectations, but each student must be free to draw there own conclusions. Prohibitions, by their nature, tend to highlight what aught to be done by the lower mind and are not counter-productive. Too much focus on these Letters.-Steve

----- Original Message -----
From: Daniel H. Caldwell
Sent: Monday, November 25, 2002 1:34 PM
Subject: Theos-World Some Comments on Publication of The Mahatma Letters and HPB's Esoteric Writings

Some Comments on Publication of The Mahatma Letters and HPB's  
Esoteric Writings

by Daniel H. Caldwell

[These comments formed one message in a discussion held on "Theos-L"  
regarding the value of The Mahatma Letters [available online at: ], and of how appropriate it  
may be for their publication and public discussion.]

One of the Masters (K.H.) wrote the following concerning the  
publication of his own letters and notes to Sinnett:

"The letters, in short, were not written for publication or public  
comment upon them, but for private use, and neither M. nor I would  
ever give our consent to see them thus handled."
— Mahatma Letter No. 63

One should read the whole letter from which I have quoted in order to  
see the context in which those words were made. [See: ]

But there is another letter from the Mahatma K.H. which throws  
additional light on the issue of publishing the letters from the  
Masters. In the summer of 1884, Mohini Chatterji and Laura C.  
Holloway were writing a book on Theosophy entitled Man: Fragments of  
Forgotten History. Both Mohini and Laura were chelas of K.H. In a  
letter addressed to Mohini, Master K.H. wrote:

"You may, if you choose so, or find necessity for it, use in Man [the  
above titled book] or in any other book you may chance to be  
collaborating for, anything I may have said in relation to our secret  
doctrines in any of my letters to Messrs. Hume or Sinnett. Those  
portions that were private have never been allowed by them to be  
copied by anyone; and those which are so copied have by the very fact  
become theosophical property. Besides, copies of my letters — at
any rate those that contained my teachings — have always been
sent by
my order to Damodar and Upasika [H.P.B.], and some of the portions  
even used in The Theosophist. You are at liberty to even copy them  
verbatim and without quotation marks. ... Thus not only you, a chela  
of mine, but anyone else is at liberty to take anything, whole pages,  
if thought proper, from any of my 'copied' letters and convert  
their 'dross' into pure ore of gold, provided they have well grasped  
the thought. Show this to L.C.H. who was already told the same.
— Letter 39 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First
Series [Man: Fragments of Forgotten History is available online at: ]

It should also be noted that a great deal of the teaching letters  
from K.H. and M. were quoted in the following books published in the  

* The Occult World by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1881)
[Available online at: ]

* Esoteric Buddhism by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1883)

* The Occult World by A.P.S. See 4th English edition, 1884, Appendix,  
pp. 145-149 for an additional KH letter. [Available online at: ]

* Man: Fragments of Forgotten History by Two Chelas [Chatterji and  
Holloway) (First edition, published 1885) [Available online at: ]

* The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky. (First published 1888). See  
especially Vol. I where H.P.B. quotes from several of KH's letters to  
Sinnett. [See:

* In additional to the above books, excerpts from the Masters'  
letters were published in various articles in The Theosophist (1881-

* Also W.J. Judge published lengthy extracts from K.H.'s letters to  
Sinnett dealing with Kamaloka and Devachan. See The Path, August,  
1889, Nov., 1889, May, 1890 and June, 1890. These articles have been  
reprinted by The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, in their compilation  
Theosophical Articles and Notes, 1985, pp. 236-247.

* H.P.B. also quoted extracts from KH's Letters to Sinnett in the  
pages of Lucifer.

* Judge published the Prayag Letter [also contained in The Mahatma  
Letters to A. P. Sinnett] in The Path in the early 1890s. [See: ]

And there are many more . . . .  

It would be an interesting exercise to take a copy of The Mahatma  
Letters to A. P. Sinnett [ ] and underline  
in red all the passages that have been published in the above sources.

Directing attention back to KH's letter to Mohini in which mention is  
made of the "copied letters" which have "become theosophical  
property", Francesca Arundale, an early Theosophist, had "three  
manuscript books" of "these early teachings" from the Masters.  
Evidence indicates that Sinnett copied these "teachings" from the  
letters of the Masters and sent them to London for the benefit of  
Arundale and other students of Theosophy. These "teaching letters" as  
found in Arundale"s manuscript books were eventually published by C.  
Jinarajadasa in 1923 under the title The Early Teachings of the  
Masters 1881 to 1883. This book by Jinarajadasa was published some  
months before A. Trevor Barker published the complete collection of  
letters from the Masters K.H. and M. in London in Dec. 1923.
[Jinarajadasa's compilation is available online at: ]

In the light of the above historical facts, would ULT students (who  
have usually objected to the publication of The Mahatma Letters) be  
willing to study The Early Teachings of the Masters? Would they be  
willing to publicly circulate this volume by Jinarajadasa or a  
similarly compiled work?

Now another issue. ULT associates privately read and study The  
Mahatma Letters. But if we are to take literally and at face value  
the Master K.H.'s prohibition on the publishing of the letters in  
their entirety, then once any ULT student reads this prohibition,  
would not reason and logic dictate that he should close the book and  
never pick The Mahatma Letters up again? As H.N. Stokes once wrote  
about this very subject,

If The Mahatma Letters are private documents today, no one without a  
diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the Mahatmas is more  
entitled to read them than any others.  

Speaking of H.N. Stokes, the editor of The O.E. Library Critic  
(Washington, D.C.), Dr. Stokes wrote at least two articles on the  
ULT's attitude toward The Mahatma Letters. The articles are:

"Is the ULT Boycotting The Mahatma Letters?" (The O.E. Library  
Critic, April, 1934.)

"Magazine Theosophy Places The Mahatma Letters on ULT Index  
Expurgatorius." (The O.E. Library Critic, May-June, 1935.

Stokes notes that soon after The Mahatma Letters were first published  
in London in Dec., 1923, Theosophy Magazine (the L.A.-based ULT  
periodical) "hailed" the publication of these Letters as follows:

"These letters are, beyond all question the one great and final  
contribution to Theosophical literature and history since The Secret  
Doctrine. They solve the hitherto baffling and inscrutable mysteries  
in connection with the public course of the Movement, by bringing to  
light the missing links of its degradation through theosophists,  
theosophical societies, and the world at large. ... Let all true  
Theosophists rejoice at the light that is now shed on the dark places  
of the past and present."
— Theosophy Magazine, March, 1924

But Stokes points out that four ULT magazines (including Theosophy  
Magazine) subsequently had the practice of quoting from The Mahatma  
Letters but never telling their readers that they were quoting from  
the book entitled The Mahatma Letters To A. P. Sinnett. Stokes found  
that in the years 1928-1933, these four ULT magazines had quoted 87  
times from the Letters. Stokes writes:

"Of the 87 quotations from The Mahatma Letters only one gives  
reference; the others afford not the slightest clue to the source,  
not the slightest possibility of the student locating it without  
laborious search. He is not even permitted to know the existence of  
such a book as The Mahatma Letters."
— The O.E. Library Critic, April, 1934

In the other article cited above, Stokes discusses an article  
published in Theosophy Magazine for February, 1935. The anonymous ULT  
associate writes for two or three pages on The Mahatma Letters but  
then concludes:

"All that is taught in the Letters is contained in The Secret  
Doctrine ... and is there presented in proper form for students under  
the direct instruction and sponsoring of the Mahatmas themselves. The  
publication of the Mahatma Letters in violation of Their own  
injunction, and recourse to these Letters [by Theosophical students]  
instead of to The Secret Doctrine for instruction in Occultism, shows  
the difference between true and false psychology. Mr. Sinnett's use  
of the Letters was such as to close to him the door opened via H.P.B.  
with the Mahatmas: What will be the effect of the unlawful  
publication and use of them thus made possible to so many hopeless  
Incurables in the Mysteries?"

Stokes points out that several of the assertions made in this  
quotation are not true. Stokes goes on to say:

"But when the Theosophy Magazine writer speaks of 'false psychology'  
and of 'hopeless Incurables in the Mysteries' one is prompted to ask  
whether these rather strong terms do not apply to himself. He is  
constantly referring in these articles to The Mahatma Letters.  
Consequently he must have read them. If so, why does he do that which  
he thinks it improper for others to do because of their private  
nature? And why did the magazine Theosophy in its series [of  
articles] later published as The Theosophical Movement [in 1925 as a  
book] constantly quote from documents [written by H.P.B. and] marked  
private and issued to E.S.T. members under pledge of secrecy? Are we  
to suppose that this anonymous writer, or the editors of Theosophy  
Magazine, are above all rules applying to lesser mortals? No, what is  
sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If The Mahatma Letters  
are private documents today, no one without a diploma of sanctity and  
a special permit from the Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than  
any others, or to discourage others from doing what he does himself  
when it suits his purpose ... .Sensible students will not be deterred  
by talk from those who do not practise what they preach."
— The O.E. Library Critic, May-June, 1935.

In the above quote from Stokes, he refers to the book The  
Theosophical Movement issued by the top officials of the ULT, Los  
Angeles, CA.

Speaking of publishing "private and confidential" communications, in  
Chapter XI ("Work of the Esoteric Section", pp. 163-177) of this ULT  
1925 book, the anonymous author(s) quote(s) from two of H.P.B.'s E.S.  
documents which were marked: "strictly private and confidential". The  
author of this chapter XI writes:

"Permissible extracts from the Preliminary Memorandum to the E.S.  
applicants show her esoteric treatment." [Compare:  
in Chapter 11.]

Then long extracts are given from this E.S. document. Permissible  
extracts? Who gave the writer of this chapter permission to quote  
from H.P.B.'s "strictly private and confidential" paper? This is not  
discussed in the pages of The Theosophical Movement.  

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