The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby RaktaZoci » Wed Jan 11, 2017 1:30 pm

On commenting the content of the letter (II) in general, I'd like to make a few points, even though I agree with much already said by fra obnoxion and others.

From what I'd gathered from KH's words was that, in addition to the ethical question that fra obnoxion already pointed out, another key figure behind the motive of the aspirant is intention. This has been emphasized over and over again in the philosophy of the SoA as well. If intention is unclean, or selfish as presented here, the outcome can not become ethically acceptable, so to speak.
Mahatma Letters wrote: "..to finally learn...the whole truth about our Lodges and ourselves; to get...the positive assurance that the "Brothers"...are real entities"
The quote above would, from my point of view, prove that the intention of the author (Sinnett) is not of such nature as previously mentioned, i.e. clean. This is also related to the faith issue fra obnoxion pointed out. I do not personally see a reason why everything would have to be proven physically to be able to be plausible? Moral issues, for example, cannot be physically shown by, or to, anyone, but I doubt very few people question their integrity. By faith I also do not mean the so-called blind faith, in which one would take things for granted just because they are given out by a figure of authority.

It seems to have been forgotten here, as is so often in our everyday life that:
Mahatma Letters wrote:"..chief object of the T.S. is..to serve our fellow men"
And
Mahatma Letters wrote:"..in our view the highest aspirations for the welfare of humanity become tainted with selfishness if, in the mind of the philanthropist there lurks the shadow of desire for self benefit or a tendency to do injustice, even when these exist unconsciously to himself."
The SoA also ratifies the three objectives of the TS, one of which include:"To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour."

In this light I'd find the highlighted parts particularly important.
Mahatma Letters wrote:"And supposing you were thus to come..supposing you were to abandon all for the truth..would you consider it just, if,..we were to grant to Mad. B. or Mr. O...the terms you now ask for yourselves?"
I find this an important question to present here, as it brings forth the matter of self-sacrifice. This needs to be, however, executed in the light of the aforementioned matters without the aspiration for personal benefit or gain. These will be delivered, obviously, but as a result of an altruistic wish (need would be the wrong word here) for higher purpose. The goal is self-sustained.
Mahatma Letters wrote:"By itself the "brooch" affair is — in the eyes of the world — completely useless,"
To this, and other affairs alike, we will return in the following letters, so I will leave it be, for now.

As of a general opinion towards Sinnett, and this is, once again, part of my personal ravings, I have found him slightly suspicious. For some reason I thought that he had in mind to form a "new" theosophical society, which was only open to Westeners or atleast those with "higher moral standing", which in his view would mean higher middle class. I see this clashing with the idea of universal brotherhood quite badly.

However, there is a possibility that I'm mixing him up with another person, perhaps Anna Kingsford, who, I believe, was in competition with Sinnett about the presidental position of the TS London office and would later form the Hermetic society from the remnants of the Hermetic Lodge of the TS.
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Nefastos » Wed Jan 11, 2017 3:35 pm

RaktaZoci wrote:As of a general opinion towards Sinnett, and this is, once again, part of my personal ravings, I have found him slightly suspicious. [...] However, there is a possibility that I'm mixing him up with another person, perhaps Anna Kingsford, who, I believe, was in competition with Sinnett about the presidental position of the TS London office and would later form the Hermetic society from the remnants of the Hermetic Lodge of the TS.


Might be either way. About those London lodge incidents there will be talk in the later letters of section 5 – which we will most probably never reach by this group, since there is so much material between. Kingsford, the author – or a scribe – of the great Perfect Way, seems to have shared some problematics with Sinnett (although more religious in form), if we can so call them from such a distance.

By the way, from Kingsford we can find one of the best available presentations of Satan & Devil that the theosophists have given. Frater Krieger has kindly translated it for our Finnish members use, here. Those who are more able or willing to read it in the original language can find it from The Perfect Way, lecture III:13-36. (It should be available online legally by now.)
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Yinlong » Wed Jan 11, 2017 7:57 pm

Thank you Frater Nefastos for clarifications!
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby RaktaZoci » Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:01 pm

The introduction for the third letter was on my behalf, so here we go..

The letters (which are presented by 3a, 3b and 3c) are quite short compared to the previous ones, but there are still matters to discuss on what they pertain. First of all, in case not everyone are acquainted with the historical occurrences surrounding these letters, let me enlighten you..

There was talk in the end of the letter no. 2 of "the brooch incident". This was a reference to an occurrence which took place in a house of Mr. and Mrs. Hume, where HPB was asked to produce a brooch belonging to Mrs. Hume, which she has lost in the past. This brooch was described to her (HPB) after which she enclosed a coin in two cigarette papers and placed it on her person. After a while she informed that the coin had vanished. Later she told the party that she had seen the brooch fall into a bed of star-shaped flowers. After some careful prospecting the same cigarette papers were found in a flower bed outside, containing the mentioned brooch. This whole incident can be found from TheosophyWiki here.

So, as Master KH mentions "something I took away" in the letter 3a, this is a reference to an item, also a brooch, belonging to Mr. Sinnett's wife, Patience. Now, the following letter, 3b, which mentiones "brooch, No. 2" is a mention of this item. The letter (3b) was, as a matter a fact, found inside a pillow while the party was on a picnic (as mentioned in the introduction to the letter 3a). This was accomplished (to my knowledge) to answer Mr. Sinnett's constant inquiries about the truthfulness of the nature of such occurrences to happen. This incident is also described in detail in the previous link.

Only thing that puzzles me slightly is the mentioning of "the amorous Major and...his great folly and injustice" in the end of letter 3c. Maybe Nefastos can fill this in for me..?

Naturally, these occurrences most likely arouse either annoyance, awe or scepticism in the reader. But what is their nature, exactly? Is it mainly to prove that these things can indeed be done or is their a more profound purpose behind them? From what I've gathered, I'd believe (emphasis on the word) that after an Adept has reached a certain point he/she has the power over such matters, i.e. material world, but, then again, he/she has no reason to conduct it thusly as here presented. Also, we should remember the wisdom given out in the two previous letters concerning the nature of a.)"the great masses" and b.) that of the (mundane) human mind. What is the actual requisite derived thereof..?
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Nefastos » Tue Jan 17, 2017 12:11 pm

Thank you RaktaZoci for clarifying the background, much appreciated. As it comes to the amorous Major, I do not know the meaning, or at least, cannot recall. Most likely it was not known to others but Sinnett from the beginning; some military friend of his who had voiced his skepticism about occultism?
RaktaZoci wrote:From what I've gathered, I'd believe (emphasis on the word) that after an Adept has reached a certain point he/she has the power over such matters, i.e. material world, but, then again, he/she has no reason to conduct it thusly as here presented.


In her later years Blavatsky herself came to this conclusion, and cursed herself for ever presenting magical phenomena. But as we see, actually it really is done, although not for the masses, but for a particular person. It seems that KH thought Sinnett to be such a help for the Work if he could just let go off his skepticism that occult phenomena was produced to give actual proof to him (and just him) personally.

Blavatsky's magic, on the other hand, almost always seems to have been done impromptu, as a part of spending time with her friends. It is never pompous, but often quite funny, and done when a friend asks to see something extraordinary. Her temperament – of which we will soon learn more from the letters too – was very peculiar indeed, and she seems to have abhorred all kind of normality & standard procedures vehemently. To the top of other occult effects that in the long run change the advanced occultist's psyche because of several reasons, I also am quite convinced that the immense psychical stress alone will necessarily break one's outer personality like an eggshell eventually, and what emerges is a something much more eccentric & elemental and much less formal. (Which is not to say that every rascal guru is a true occultist.) Blavatsky herself also seems to much preferred this situation where her masters did the planning, where she could be like a servant who carried out the orders; something very similar can be seen in monastery mysticism in many religions – including Tibetan Buddhist tantra which forms the outer basis for Blavatsky & her teachers. So, from Blavatsky's everyday actions it is not often easy to scoop deep wisdom, but more like anecdotes of her playful & even chaotic nature. Her teachings (which she claimed were not hers, but her masters), on the other hand, were much more thoroughly pondered.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Yinlong » Tue Jan 17, 2017 8:05 pm

RaktaZoci wrote: Only thing that puzzles me slightly is the mentioning of "the amorous Major and...his great folly and injustice" in the end of letter 3c. Maybe Nefastos can fill this in for me..?
Thank you for posting the link for the Theosophy Wiki! I didn't know of it's existence, and now it's a lot more practical to read the letters for me. :) From the same: http://theosophy.wiki/en/Philip_D._Henderson

The line very likely refers to Major Philip D. Henderson, a British Chief of Police, who was in charge of the investigations against H.P.B, and another proof of occult phenomena earlier referred as Cup and Saucer incident: http://theosophy.wiki/en/Cup_and_Saucer_(phenomenon)

To spare the readers for googling, here's a very short version of the incident. The Sinnetts, H.P.B., Henderson, Olcott, and Mrs. Reed were going for a picnic at Simla. On the way the party stumbles upon Judge Syed Mahmood, so they invite him to tag along. According to the initial plans, Mrs. Sinnett had only packed tea cups for six, so somebody from the group suggests that H.P.B. would produce a cup for Mr. Mahmood by magic. H.P.B. agrees to this, presumably because both the Judge and the Major have had skeptical attitudes towards Theosophical Society, and perhaps H.P.B. thought a little demonstration would convince them once and for all. According to the story, H.P.B. asks Henderson to dig from ground for the cup and to his surprise he founds a cup matching exactly the set Mrs. Sinnett had brought along. From another spot indicated by H.P.B. he even finds a matching saucer. Obviously stunned, Henderson asks for an explanation from H.P.B. how this was possible. H.P.B. denies to explain, as Henderson is not a member of T.S. Henderson ultimately asks to join T.S. on the spot and H.P.B. produces magically a membership diploma for him. However, later Henderson regrets his hasty decision and starts suspecting he has been fooled. When he explains his doubts and asks for further prove from occult phenomena H.P.B. shows her famous fiery side. Depicting from the late 19th century text, no curse words were spared :) In any case, Henderson later becomes a vocal critic of Theosophical Society and wrote about the incident in a letter to the Times of India. The picnic is referred here http://www.blavatskyarchives.com/olcott01.htm.
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby RaktaZoci » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:58 pm

Thank you YinLong from clarifying this. I remember this incident (Cup & Saucer), but was not clear of the particulars of the persons involved. I also remembered a mention of "a major" in the party, but was not sure who it was. But now I know! :)
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Smaragd » Tue Jan 24, 2017 12:40 am

The next letter was so short that I grapped a couple extra ones for this weeks presentation of the Mahatma Letters. Try to bear with me.

On the letter No. 4 or 143, as it's marked in the online version, we have more talk about dealing with magical phenomena. In the spirit of perseverance I'll go through them but I must warn you there is some repetition here. But as it's written: "Repetitio mater studiorum est". I'll also jump into a letter No. 205 which is linked on the online version for alternative "next letter".
Mahatma Letters wrote: Would you wish the pillow phenomenon described in the paper?
A. P. Sinnett.

It certainly would be the best thing to do, and I personally would feel sincerely thankful to you on account of our much illused friend.
Koot Hoomi Lal Sing.
Mahatma Letters wrote: Letter No. 205
{Olcott had, very indiscreetly, allowed to be published in an Anglo-Indian paper a letter from him describing a day at Simla and giving the names of several promenent Englishmen as having certified to the genuineness of the phenomena.}
Private.

——the situation is thrown into serious danger by recent wild indiscretions and the Khobilgan deeply incensed——
Yours ever truly,
K. H.
I was under impression the Pioneer was a paper of occult matters but it seems to have been quite casual Indian newspaper written in English. After all we've found from these letters, publishing this particular, quite neutral, phenomenon to be read by the masses were considered helpful for maybe catching the curious minds and eventually help them to turn their curiosity into more serious effort. But in the exchange between Blavatsky and K. H. another phenomena written about by Olcott (the above mentioned Cup and Saucer I presume) is considered "wild indiscretion" (Letter No. 205). This seems to base on the fact that Olcott appeals to "prominent Englishmen" certifying the phenomena which would not prove anything in the eyes of western science, on contrary agitate it to shoot such "proof" down and only cause harm to the infectious relations. After all, the Anglo-Indian newspaper must have been a collision area of these two worlds. Instead of creating such conditions of juxtaposit nature with smoke screen targets, more neutral examples should be provided. Secondly, publishing a story describing the casual nature of Blavatskys use of magic would cast dangerous ideas over casual readers of using these powers in a light hearted manner.

Letter Nr. 4 or 5 in my printed version.
Mahatma Letters wrote:Our Maha (the "Chief") has allowed me to correspond with both of you, and even — in case an Anglo-Indian Branch is formed — to come some day in personal contact with it. It now depends entirely on you. I cannot tell you more.
Here it seems as if Koot Hoomi is testing Sinnett where he might stumble down or if he can find the right way to continue his work on formation of Anglo-Indian branch of Theosophical Society. Instead of following instructions to the point, it is important as an occultist to let your own mind find the way and ask the right questions.
Mahatma Letters wrote:He is one who never questions, but obeys; who may make innumerable mistakes out of excessive zeal but never is unwilling to repair his fault even at the cost of the greatest self-humiliation —— I admit that his connection with an A. I. Branch would be "an evil" — hence, he will have no more to do with it than he has with the British, (London Branch)
Here K.H. is defending Olcott, referring to his mistakes within the letter which was discussed on the letter No. 205. Henry Steel Olcott was a military officer which in addition to above quote points to his nature of doing well in a systems of hierarchy. He is presented as an ideal right-hand path follower, an altruist who, for example, when in military serves his best to accomplishing the mission he is given and the mission the institution tries to achieve, which necessarily isn't ideal from occultists point of view. Outside or opposing forces aren't given much thought and the oversight is a magnet for trouble. K.H. doesn't look down on such vices like I would expect from a master student relationship. This suggests that it is ok to have imperfections of character, one just has to pick ones battles. From satanist point of view one can try to "fulfill" oneself as far as it is possible, but such continuous intensity has it's problems. We see K.H.'s soft attitude also towards Blavatsky earlier in this letter:
Mahatma Letters wrote:But our friend is not one to cause her mind to reflect the philosophical resignation of Marcus Aurelius. The fates never wrote that she could say: "It is a royal thing, when one is doing good to hear evil spoken of himself."
Mahatma Letters wrote:—— he said, "you who preach the highest standards of morality, of truthfulness, etc., you would have me play the part of an imposter. You ask me to change my clothes at the risk of giving a false idea of my personality and mystifying the gentleman you send me to. And what if he asks me if I personally know Koot'hoomi, am I to keep silent and allow him to think I do? This would be a tacit falsehood, and guilty of that, I would be thrown back into the awful whirl of transmigration!"
The neophyte can not accept the idea of giving false impulses outside even from his outer form nor keeping silent which might suggest towards conclusions untrue. In his state of mortification, he escapes the social and cultural conventions for higher cause which Sinnett is not expected to understand from beneath his prejudices. Though the neophyte isn't completely ignorant of these conventions but his current state demand such position towards them. So the neophyte can't approve the mission given to him with suggestions untrue to his own state. This brings me back to the subject above, of a master not being unquestioned authority but rather a gentle guide when the real authorities work within. Same goes for the Anglo-Indian Society Sinnett is working on; Koot Hoomi as a representative of the mother society, working as a master, who doesn't intervene too much but rather gives the new branch space to find it's own way as long as general rules are followed.
Mahatma Letters wrote:The field is yours and no one will be allowed to interfere with you except myself on behalf of our Chiefs
Mahatma Letters wrote:I must ask you to remember that the new Society shall not be allowed to disconnect itself with the Parent Body, though you are at liberty to manage your affairs in your own way without fearing the slightest interference from its President so long as you do not violate the general Rules.
Mahatma Letters wrote:Far be it from me to discourage one so willing as yourself by setting up impossible barriers to your progress. We never whine over the inevitable but try to make the best of the worst. And though we neither push nor draw into the mysterious domain of occult nature those who are unwilling; never shrink from expressing our opinions freely and fearlessly, yet we are ever as ready to assist those who come to us; even to — agnostics who assume the negative position of "knowing nothing but phenomena and refuse to believe in anything else." It is true that the married man cannot be an adept, yet without striving to become "a Raja Yogi" he can acquire certain powers and do as much good to mankind and often more, by remaining within the precincts of this world of his. Therefore, shall we not ask you to precipitately change fixed habits of life, before the full conviction of its necessity and advantage has possessed you.
Further on Koot Hoomi explains his soft attitude towards his "disciplines" and sceptics. Progress is made with small steps and certain knowledge is waiting for it's right time to come under attention. No sceptics nor aspirants are forcefed with teachings, but everyone will be helped when the time comes. There's also differend paths of which everyone will find their own and as we see from the world, a pushy attitude or straight out crusade type of thing will get people feeling smothered and a serious danger of going astray.

I'll leave you couple extra interesting quotes to be discussed. Important points but quite self explanatory. As if this wasn't too long already. :)
Mahatma Letters wrote:There is a tone of complaint in your question whether there ever will be a renewal of the vision you had, the night before the picnic day. Methinks, were you to have a vision nightly, you would soon cease to "treasure" them at all. But there is a far weightier reason why you should not have a surfeit — it would be a waste of our strength.
Mahatma Letters wrote:The term "Universal Brotherhood" is no idle phrase. Humanity in the mass has a paramount claim upon us, as I try to explain in my letter to Mr. Hume, which you had better ask the loan of. It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind and it is the aspiration of the true adept.
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Smaragd » Wed Jan 25, 2017 9:01 pm

Just so we'll stay on the map with these letters, above I went through Letter No. 143, Letter No. 205, and Letter No. 4 as numbered in this particular online version.
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Re: The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett (Reading Group)

Postby Nefastos » Thu Jan 26, 2017 3:54 pm

Thank you Smaragd. Very nice to see how the letters bring different thoughts from different brethren, and how people are also willing to delve into the historical events to fleshen out the background of references.

I would like to point out few passages in this quite lengthy a letter, which touches many different subjects. One red thread going through it seems to be telepathy, and how the the thoughts are and are not transmitted through challenges of space between.

it is men not ceremony-masters, we seek, devotion, not mere observances. More and more a dead formalism is gaining ground, and I am truly happy to find so unexpected an ally in a quarter where, hitherto there have not been too many — among the highly educated classes of English Society.


This practicality of work is exceedingly important. Remembering that of the "Mahatmas" several were connected to the Tibetan lamaseries, I think that KH didn't mean only Western formalism, but also the ceremonial formalism in Eastern religions. (There has already been some criticism toward formal religions at large, and much more will follow in the later letters.)

What other speculations might have followed I cannot say. But just as I was taking advantage of the awful stillness which usually follows such cataclysm, to get a clearer view of the present situation and the disposition of the "mystics" at Simla, I was rudely recalled to my senses. A familiar voice, as shrill as the one attributed to Saraswati's peacock — which, if we may credit tradition, frightened off the King of the Nagas — shouted along the currents "Olcott has raised the very devil again! . . . The Englishmen are going crazy. . . . Koot Hoomi, come quicker and help me!" — and in her excitement forgot she was speaking English. I must say, that the "Old Lady's" telegrams do strike one like stones from a catapult!


This anecdote always makes me smile, & I often remember it when talking with someone about Blavatsky. Telepathic rapport between the occult guides & students really has its challenges.

There is so very minute a point of contact between the two civilisations they respectively represent, that one might almost say they could not touch at all. Nor would they but for the few — shall I say eccentrics? — who, like you, dream better and bolder dreams than the rest; and provoking thought, bring the two together by their own admirable audacity.


Nowadays the East has become more and more like West, the development of which KH already speaks in another part of the letter. Regardless, that difference between the "archetypical" East and West (nowadays both archetypical, practical & global) are greater than it is often understood by a casual observer of news about surficial cultures.

But to make an independent A.I.B. [Anglo-Indian Branch of the Theosophical Society] with the self-same objects, either in whole or a part, as the Parent Society and with the same directors behind the scenes would be not only to deal a mortal blow at the Theos. Soc. but also put upon us a double labour and anxiety without the slightest compensating advantage that any of us can perceive.


And yet this exactly was what happened later, so that we have had two "Parent" Theosophical Societies almost a century.

My good Brother, are you certain, that the pleasant impression you now may have from our correspondence, would not instantly be destroyed upon seeing me? And which of our holy Shaberons has had the benefit of even the little university education and inkling of European manners that has fallen to my share?


Here is something to think about. The gap between the Eastern (or spiritual/magical) and Western (or practical/rational) approaches cannot be bridged without both the parties trying their best.

It is true that the married man cannot be an adept, yet without striving to become "a Raja Yogi" he can acquire certain powers and do as much good to mankind and often more, by remaining within the precincts of this world of his.


Fra Smaragd already pointed out this one, but I wanted to underline it once more. Here we see the Right Hand Path's important idea for celibacy (and perhaps also LHP's demand of freedom from familial bonds) mentioned strictly enough; but also possibilities to advance without it to a certain degree.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"

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