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Mr. Sinnett doubts some of the Mahatma Letters

Nov 09, 2004 11:11 AM
by Daniel H. Caldwell

In 1884, Sinnett started doubting some 
of the Mahatma Letters.

You can see this in a letter H.P. Blavatsky
wrote to him in July of 1884:

My dear Mr. Sinnett,

It is very strange that you should be ready to deceive yourself so 
willingly. I have seen last night whom I had to see, and getting the 
explanation I wanted I am now settled on points I was not only 
doubtful about but positively averse to accepting. And the words in 
the first line are words I am bound to repeat to you as a warning, 
and because I regard you, after all, as one of my best personal 
friends. Now you have and are deceiving, in vulgar parlance, 
bamboozling yourself about the letter received by me yesterday from 
the Mahatma. The letter is from Him, whether written through a chela 
or not; and -- perplexing as it may seem to you, contradictory 
and "absurd," it is the full expression of his feelings and he 
maintains what he said in it. For me it is surpassingly strange that 
you should accept as His only that which dovetails with your own 
feelings, and reject all that contradicts your own notions of the 
fitness of things. Olcott has behaved like an ass, utterly devoid 
of tact; he confesses it, and is ready to confess it and to say mea 
culpa before all the Theosophists -- and it is more than any 
Englishman would be willing to do. This is perhaps, why, with all his 
lack of tact, and his frequent freaks that justly shock your 
susceptibilities and mine too, heaven knows! going as he does against 
every conventionality -- he is still so liked by the Masters, who 
care not for the flowers of European civilization. Had I known last 
night what I have learnt since -- i.e. that you imagine, or rather 
force yourself to imagine that the Mahatma's letter is not wholly 
orthodox and was written by a chela to please me, or something of the 
sort, I would not have rushed to you as the only plank of salvation. 
Things are getting dark and hazy. I have managed last night to get 
the Psychic Research Society rid of its nightmare, Olcott ; I may 
manage to get England rid of its bugbear -- Theosophy. If you -- the 
most devoted, the best of all Theosophists -- are ready to fall a 
victim to your own preconceptions and believe in new gods of your 
own fancy dethroning the old ones -- then, notwithstanding all and 
everything Theosophy has come too early in this country. Let your 
L.L.T.S. go on as it does -- I cannot help it, and what I mean I will 
tell you when I see you. But I will have nothing to do with the new 
arrangement and -- retire from it altogether unless we agree to 
disagree no more. 

HPB hits the nail on the head when she writes to Sinnett:

"For me it is surpassingly strange that you should accept as His only 
that which dovetails with your own feelings, and reject all that 
contradicts your own notions of the fitness of things."

Sinnett never doubted the existence of the Master Koot Hoomi. And 
neither did he deny that he had been in real communication via 
correspondence [The Mahatma Letters] with the Master. But he did 
come to believe that SOME of the letters from the Master were, as
HPB graphically puts it, "not wholly orthodox":

". . . you imagine, or rather force yourself to imagine that the 
Mahatma's letter is not wholly orthodox and was written by a chela to 
please me, or something of the sort. . . . "

Several years later in the pages of her magazine "Lucifer," H.P. 
Blavatsky wrote the following relevant words which apply to Mr. 
Sinnett although he was not specifically referred to:

"We have been asked by a correspondent why he should not 'be free to 
suspect some of the so-called 'precipitated' letters as being 
forgeries,' giving as his reason for it that while some of them bear 
the stamp of (to him) undeniable genuineness, others seem from their 
contents and style, to be imitations. This is equivalent to saying 
that he has such an unerring spiritual insight as to be able to 
detect the false from the true, though he has never met a Master, nor 
been given any key by which to test his alleged communications. The 
inevitable consequence of applying his untrained judgment in such 
cases, would be to make him as likely as not to declare false what 
was genuine, and genuine what was false." 

"Thus what criterion has any one to decide between one 'precipitated' 
letter, or another such letter? Who except their authors, or those 
whom they employ as their amanuenses (the chelas and disciples), can 
tell? For it is hardly one out of a hundred 'occult' letters that is 
ever written by the hand of the Master, in whose name and on whose 
behalf they are sent, as the Masters have neither need nor leisure to 
write them; and that when a Master says, 'I wrote that letter,' it 
means only that every word in it was dictated by him and impressed 
under his direct supervision. Generally they make their chela, 
whether near or far away, write (or precipitate) them, by impressing 
upon his mind the ideas they wish expressed, and if necessary aiding 
him in the picture-printing process of precipitation. It depends 
entirely upon the chela's state of development, how accurately the 
ideas may be transmitted and the writing-model imitated. Thus the non-
adept recipient is left in the dilemma of uncertainty, whether, if 
one letter is false, all may not be; for, as far as intrinsic 
evidence goes, all come from the same source, and an are brought by 
the same mysterious means. But there is another, and a far worse 
condition implied. For all that the recipient of 'occult' letters can 
possibly know, and on the simple grounds of probability and common 
honesty, the unseen correspondent who would tolerate one single 
fraudulent line in his name, would wink at an unlimited repetition of 
the deception." 

"And this leads directly to the following. All the so-called occult 
letters being supported by identical proofs, they have all to stand 
or fall together. If one is to be doubted, then all have, and the 
series of letters in the 'Occult World,' 'Esoteric Buddhism,' etc., 
etc., may be, and there is no reason why they should not be in such a 
case-frauds, 'clever impostures,' and 'forgeries' such as the 
ingenuous though stupid agent [Richard Hodgson] of the 'S.P.R.' has 
made them out to be. . . ." "Lodges of Magic," Lucifer, October, 

In the same article, H.P. Blavatsky also wrote the following and this 
no doubt also applies to Mr. Sinnett's case: 

"Occult truth cannot be absorbed by a mind that is filled with 
preconception, prejudice, or suspicion. It is something to be 
perceived by the intuition rather than by the reason; being by nature 
spiritual, not material. Some are so constituted as to be incapable 
of acquiring knowledge by the exercise of the spiritual faculty; e.g. 
the great majority of physicists. Such are slow, if not wholly 
incapable of grasping the ultimate truths behind the phenomena of 
existence. There are many such in the Society; and the body of the 
discontented are recruited from their ranks." 

"Such persons readily persuade themselves that later teachings, 
received from exactly the same source as earlier ones, are either 
false or have been tampered with by chelas, or even third parties. 
Suspicion and inharmony are the natural result, the psychic 
atmosphere, so to say, is thrown into confusion, and the reaction, 
even upon the stauncher students, is very harmful." 

"Sometimes vanity blinds what was at first strong intuition, the mind 
is effectually closed against the admission of new truth, and the 
aspiring student is thrown back to the point where he began. Having 
jumped at some particular conclusion of his own without full study of 
the subject, and before the teaching had been fully expounded, his 
tendency, when proved wrong, is to listen only to the voice of his 
self-adulation, and cling to his views, whether right or wrong. The 
Lord Buddha particularly warned his hearers against forming beliefs 
upon tradition or authority, and before having thoroughly inquired 
into the subject." "Lodges of Magic," Lucifer, October 1888


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