Vol. 68 No. 5 Toronto, Nov.-Dec., 1987
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document.
THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL
- Joan Sutcliffe
Man has always been drawn to the mysterious. The analytical mind and rational philosophy may serve him well in everyday business affairs, but will only take him so far. When it comes to a search for the origin of his real being, the purpose of his life, where his soul goes after death - then he knows that the answers must lie on some higher plane of understanding, hidden from the usual daily consciousness. Through the ages he has sought the answers through psychic magic of shamans, teachings of holy men, religious ceremonies. But these do not touch the deeper part in man which responds to the beauty of nature and feels kinship with the soul of the forest and the sea; and which sometimes experiences a sense of oneness with the great expanse of a starry sky. It is too immense to be contained only by the body it dwells in. It is part of all that has been and is yet to come.
Such inner yearnings are intimations from an inner Self, the first stirrings of a growing Soul within us, which one day we have to fully awaken. It is this inner Self which is the real disciple and will one day become the Initiate. For the most part of our lives our consciousness is focussed entirely in the personal self, immersed wholly in activities that involve only the personal life. Yet this personality lasts only for the lifetime. It is the inner Self which is the continuing Ego, which carries the thread of soul memory from life to life; and it is this inner Self which is the direct link with the divine spark within us, our god within. The search for the mystical instructions on how to awaken this inner Self, how to identify our waking consciousness with it, how to gain knowledge of the spiritual laws that govern its existence on its own high plane - this is the Mystic Quest: this is the search for the Holy Grail.
There has always been this Wisdom in the world, and Masters to guard and teach it. It has been preserved in sacred writings. It has been passed on from guru to chela. It was taught in the temples of ancient Egypt and secretly enacted in the Mysteries of Greece and Rome. The Medicine men of the North American Indians have long had guardianship of this knowledge, and everywhere it has been collected in allegorical myth and legend. There are also highly symbolic structures of these teachings, for instance in the Tarot and Kaballa. And we have them today in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky.
One of the basic teachings of metaphysics is that there are two opposite forces in the manifested Cosmos. How we describe them depends on the point from which we are philosophising. We meet them in physics as the positive and negative charges of the atom. In considering man's spiritual evolution, the opposing force would be that which would draw him back to matter and make him forgetful of his spiritual nature.
In the Dark Ages in Europe this force operated through the church, which purposely sought to keep man in ignorance, and stymied free thought with the fear of persecution. It formulated its own doctrines to build up its authority and power as being the only mediator between man and the spiritual world. Any teaching that might lead man to realize the power of his own Soul, and his own responsibility for its growth was anathematized. It sought to prevent any stirring of the Soul by crystallizing thought into materialized dogmas.
Throughout the Dark Ages, however, a spark of the Ancient Wisdom was kept alight. In her book, Masonry and Medieval Mysticism, Isabel Cooper-Oakley traces this thread of mystical teachings as one group of valiant souls keeps the light burning for a while until it is taken up by another body of aspirants and taught secretly in hidden places. The Rosicrucians had their initiated teachers; the Masons took their ceremonies from those performed in the Great Pyramid and developed a system of secret signs and passwords in order to recognize their fellow sympathizers; the Knights Templar were formed for the outward pretext of protecting pilgrims traveling in the Holy Land, but their secret purpose was to restore esoteric teachings; the Troubadours were minstrels who came from noble families in Europe and who traveled from town to town singing ballads of love but using a mystical language in which the beloved represented the Inner Self. Perhaps the most courageous of all were the Albigensians, who had centres of study where they taught reincarnation, karma and the inner development of the Soul. And part of this long thread of mystical teachings were the legends of the Holy Grail.
In the wake of the Crusades and the movement from the east of Arabian culture, which brought about the dawning of the Age of Chivalry, the legends of the Knight's quest for the unworldly object of the Grail became very popular. The flourishing literature of the Grail which abounded in Europe in the 12th century saw the merging of several traditions. There was the tradition from the East; there was also a Gnostic source based on the apocryphal gospels of Nicodemus. Then there were the stories of King Arthur's Knights of the Round Table and Merlin (the Magician), with which were incorporated the old Celtic myths of Ceridwen's Cauldron and the mysterious kingdom of Avalon.
The Church then invaded the legends of the Grail and Christianized the teachings. It turned the Grail into a Christian relic, and chose a new hero, Galahad, free from the Pagan associations of Perceval. The Knights on the quest for the Grail sought the advice of pious monks who presented Christian interpretations and doctrines throughout, culminating in the highest mystery of the Grail becoming the saving Grace of the church.
Isabel Cooper-Oakley holds that the real origin of the legend of the Holy Grail is in the occult teachings of the East, and traces the source to India. In that wonderful period of the Renaissance in Europe, philosophers, artists and poets poured from Arabia across North Africa into Spain, and in their wake came the mystic wisdom from the East. Cen-
tres of learning in northern Spain became permeated with Arabian mysticism.
To such a centre in Toledo came Guiot de Provins, a learned scholar of the Albigensian tradition. Here he discovered a mystical book compiled by an Arabian astrologer in Sanskrit, containing the legend of the Holy Grail. This is the source on which the troubadour, Wolfram von Eschenbach, bases his writings, later immortalized by Richard Wagner in his greatest work, Parsifal. An esoteric interpretation of Wagner's opera is given by Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump in their book, Parsifal, Lohengrin and the Legend of the Holy Grail, where is shown the symbolic teachings of man's inner nature which underlie the story of the Knight's quest.
Now to consider the background setting of the Grail legend. We learn that in the remote history of humanity there was once a most beauteous and fertile land where fields abundant in growth were watered by fresh springs. It was ruled by initiate kings who gained their wisdom and vitality from the daily contemplation of the Holy Grail, which was enshrined in a sacred spot in the heart of the kingdom. The Grail was under the guardianship of Knights of whom was demanded the highest standard of purity and chivalrous conduct. These rulers were benevolent and wise, and instructed their subjects in the spiritual sciences; and the race blossomed in knowledge and virtue. Those who came to the royal court went away refreshed both physically and spiritually. This was the Kingdom of the Holy Grail.
Details of the inception of this wondrous race are shrouded in the deepest mystery. From the thread of the Eastern tradition, von Eschenbach draws a very occult figure named Titurel, who because of his spotless character was chosen by unearthly beings as the first Grail king and founder of the Grail race. This unusual person arouses an almost mystical excitement, for we are told so little about him and yet given so many hints. As we shall see, Titurel is symbolic of a Theosophical teaching. He taught the secrets of the Grail. Only the elect may see the Grail; only those who are pure and without strife are fit to assimilate its power; and no tongue can describe its true nature. Contact with the Grail bestowed on him longevity and when Titurel was 400 years old he was instructed to marry in order to establish a line of heirs to continue the Grail race. Finally, we are told, Titurel died in India, more than 500 years old. However, he merely left his body, and his Nirmanakaya (or Inner Self) is still watching over humanity from the inner planes.
This is the earliest thread of the Eastern version, and sets the scene for the telling of the story of the Quest. The succession of Grail kings continues down to Amfortas, also known as the Fisher King. Amfortas represents the fall of humanity, and because he yielded to the temptations of his lower nature he became wounded in the thigh. Now he is permanently sick, kept alive only by the daily sight of the Grail. With the wounding of Amfortas, what was once the glorious kingdom of the Grail turned into a desolate wasteland: the springs dried up and the elect race died out.
The maimed king now lives out his existence in constant suffering and pain in the Grail castle, hidden from view in a wild and treacherous forest. There is a weird cryptical element about this castle, for at times it cannot be perceived by the earthly senses; but when the right person approaches at the right time it is suddenly discovered as though appearing from another plane of existence. Now the enchanted castle awaits
the coming of the perfected knight, he who is pure and worthy, to contemplate the meaning of the Grail. This knight will heal the sick king and set the Grail Kingdom free from the dark spell.
It became the quest of many knights to set out in search of the Holy Grail. The quest of each knight concerns adventures, for there are trials to be undergone in the course of the search. There are tests and temptations to pass beyond. There are failures, and there are successes. Only the perfect knight will achieve the goal. He must be pure of character and brave, for he has many challenges to face. He has rules of conduct to follow, and ideals of chivalry to live up to. The Grail castle is visited many times by many knights, but the hero is Parsifal (Perceval in the Celtic tradition).
The story of Parsifal abounds in symbolism, and in this pure knight we see the ideal of what the disciple should be. Parsifal represents the gradual awakening Inner Man. He is brought up alone by his mother in simplicity in a rustic setting, and shielded from knowledge of the harsh world. One day he meets some knights in the woods who tell him of the quest of the Holy Grail, and from then on this becomes his one-pointed ideal. By an old knight he is taught some of the rudiments of manners and knightly customs; and then he leaves his mother, who dies of grief at his parting, and rides off in search of the Grail.
It is not long before the Grail castle appears in front of him. He enters inside and sees the injured king. He also sees the Grail carried by a maiden who is exceedingly beautiful and chaste. However, because he fails to ask the right questions, he is overtaken by a deep sleep and awakes to find the castle deserted and himself lost in a wild forest. He meets an ugly, unkempt woman who berates him angrily for his failure. An overwhelming sadness consumes Parsifal, and he vows that he will never rest two nights in the same spot until he has found again the Grail castle and healed the sick king and restored the kingdom. Parsifal meets with several trials and temptations, but he comes through and achieves the quest.
As mentioned, there always have to be two forces in the manifested universe. In the legend of Parsifal, the dark opposing force is represented by the character of Clinschor, a magician skilled in the art of sorcery. He seeks to entice the knights away from their quest by luring them to his castle through the means of the attractions of seductive maidens who have fallen under his hypnotic power. Parsifal seems to be the only knight who passes this test.
What are the qualities peculiar to Parsifal, that make him unique among the knights? It seems that they are his spotless purity, his naivety, his compassion and his one-pointed determination. Mrs. Cleather tells us that he is described by Wagner as the "pure fool" and we are told that only the "pure fool" shall see the Grail. She also reminds us of the innocence required by the neophyte in occult studies. It is actually a very mystic state. The naivety is really the lack of attaching importance to the affairs of the physical world, so that the disciple may be free from the destructive forces that work through the emotional and intellectual natures. "The pupil must regain the child-state he has lost ere the first sound can fall upon his ear," The
Voice of the Silence instructs. In Light on the Path, it says, "...that power which the disciple shall covet is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men."
That is a real power, for it is the dawning of self-forgetfulness, the loosening of the hold of the personal desires. It is the personal man that wants to be separate and looked up to by his fellow men; and it is this personal pride that can be hurt and then its pain becomes all-consuming and blinds out the faint perception of the real Ego. The characteristic of the Inner Man is impersonality and oneness. He is content to be part of a "beneficent force in nature," working unnoticed and unappreciated by others for the great movement of hidden Laws.
(To be continued)
The synthesis of the three Fundamental Propositions, as defined by H.P. Blavatsky in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine, is indeed a joy to read and use. The Propositions serve to untangle the varying philosophical and metaphysical statements of past time, and help clarify our outlook. They open up an understanding of our western heritage of ideas, and before we are very far into that background, we find that we are now also aligned to eastern thought. A fundamental unity becomes apparent in what we once imagined was a diversity of ideas. The thought of Plato's Academy, for instance, highlights the ideas of the eastern sages; and the Upanishads and Vedas illuminate the ideas of the Academy.
Who has not run aground on the shoals of the definitions laid down by the PreSocratics? Who has not spent endless hours trying to decipher the departure points between the concepts of the Lyceum, and those from the line of Plato down to Antiochus of Ascalon? Who has not locked horns with the conflicting offerings of the philosophers of the Middle Ages, or wondered why the ideas of two hundred years ago were no longer lucid in the treatment of basic philosophical problems?
On the other hand, the clear, explicit explanations of first principles by H.P. Blavatsky have been, for our generation, a most excellent illuminator. Do we appreciate just how fortunate we have been? It has been said that unless one had lived at the time when candles and kerosene lamps were the mode of home lighting, one could not appreciate the benefits conferred by incandescent illumination today. The S.D. Proem is of the quality of an illuminating source that lights up without shadow the truths that lie in the depths of our consciousness. Before such a light the candles of modern philosophy fade out and recede into the haze of yesterday. The Proem offers, through its use, the light of understanding.
However, in those areas of Philosophy today, where Theosophy has not been welcomed, the pattern is little changed since the middle ages, or for that matter from the earlier Aristotelian offerings. That is, of course, with the exception of a few who are again giving consideration to the ideas of the Platonists and the Gnostic thinkers. But even
this is a difficult road without Blavatsky's guiding hand to point the way through the labyrinth of the many errors that have found their way into the study of philosophy down the years.
It appears that in the realm of ideas where the intellect alone holds sway, there is little consistency or adequacy to modern philosophic study. There are many opinions, many partial truths, but no system that can stand sufficient unto itself. Even systems that are academically acclaimed by this or that group are not original or complete. Each takes segments from other systems and weaves them into the fabric of its own principles. But when a rigorous proof is demanded in terms of meeting all conditions, they fall short and end up on the stock heaps of other failed attempts.
The history of ideas of the past has even had those as its attendants who have longed with bated breath for the arrival of an all-pervading and complete synthesis. The philosophers who braved academic derision and took it upon themselves to examine fully the composite ideas of The Secret Doctrine found that synthesis. They exalted that for them, at long last, this was the confirmation of the peak ideas of those great past cycles of thought, both eastern and western.
Yet, before our time, in the late 17th century, the flow of ideas seemed almost to have dried up. It was like in nature before a major storm, when there is a hush and a stillness. Then the atmosphere changes from dull and leadened to bright and fresh. The process is usually accomplished by much thunder and the lightning that recharges and re-awakes. In those days, the march of messianic Christianity had all but covered over the font of ideas. The inquisition was an ever-present reminder of the uniqueness of that missionary effort.
The institutions of the State had also played their part in enclosing man in an iron grip and made him feel smaller and smaller until he could go no further without rebelling. The great eruption was bound to happen, and happen it did with the French Revolution coming as the immediate effect. It was like a great cry from the depths of man's consciousness demanding once and for all his freedom of expression; it was a statement of his dignity as a human being, and the rebellion was against every form of enshrined authority. The rights demanded were not only for freedom of place and choice; they called out in the human conviction of inherent justice for the recognition of man as a thinking agent.
The demands grew, and required that all were to be included in the idea of freedom - no one anywhere was to be left out. Was not this the call from the heart of mankind for a universal brotherhood? Was not this the true basis of man's hope from all time? For in his greatest distress it had found voice. In his highest moment of aspiration it had taken hold, and expressed itself, not just for men here and there, but for all men, everywhere.
The inherent sureness expressed in the demands made it abundantly clear that man had emerged at last from the pressures and suppression by church and state. He had reached the point in time where he could no longer conform to their views, which up to now had seen him in terms of the lowest level of human kind. They had looked on him with suspicion, and had inculcated fear as the matrix of their common bonding, rather than the quality of love that was the measure of the human heart.
Yet before much time had passed, the great cry began to weaken. There were immediate concerns that took priority over the ideal. The cries for brotherhood and freedom
became for the most part cries here and there in the political arena, and in the marketplace. Church and state had habit on their side, and again tried to impose their authority through the priests and ardent soldiers.
But it could never be the same again. The chord once struck, forever resounds. The heart-light once seen, captures the imagination for all future time. Hope may simmer, and the ideas may glow in the inner consciousness while awaiting a new time and place. And as sure as time itself they will have birth. That birth yet needs a catalysis, and it has to be in the realm of thought. It has to be the coming of age of a philosophy of being that will give full vent to the "cry of the heart" in a system which is complete and provable.
H.P. Blavatsky saw the need, and moved to supply the metaphysical and philosophical foundations for it. She showed the true grandeur of the idea of brotherhood and its ramifications. She emphasized that humanity is perfectable; and individuals can make their own act of awareness that would free them in the real sense - as long as it was self-initiated and deliberate. She showed the images ahead, the perfected beings toward which humanity is moving.
In her declaration of principles, she offered the true meaning of Theosophy - Divine Wisdom. She presented her method squarely to the public and private mind; to philosophers, metaphysicians; to the eyes of all those who would assume their heritage and think. ln the Proem of The Secret Doctrine she states the three great Fundamental Propositions that would be the basis of all future considerations, and would explain the cycles of the past, giving their meaning and purpose. She spoke of this universal enterprise at whose head are living perfected men who belong to no one race, or to no one period of history, and who are the proof of the human perfectability. She pointed out the laws connected with universal brotherhood; showed that it was a fact in nature, and patent in all the kingdoms of nature; also that it applied to the moral and rational individual, whose thoughts as well as actions be under the Law: causation ruling on every plane.
Madame Blavatsky knew that man's intuitive understanding of these truths was the key to their fulfilment. It was not just an expression of hope, or possibility, it was Law. The results are now before us - the impacts in social and political realms have perplexed and puzzled because of the swiftness with which they happened. There is now a developed sense, in the spiritual and intellectual realms, that brotherhood is an evolution, and is inherent in the whole of humanity. It is a matter of each individual giving it birth. In terms of philosophy it is, then, a moral and spiritual ideal which is axiomatic. It will circle the great globe, and through the spread of spiritual knowledge will confirm man's true position as the hero in the cosmic unfoldment under universal law.
She spoke of the future being composed of self-reliant individuals. She emphasized that the perfected individuals, the Adepts, were not silent and alone, but were engaged in working with the whole of humanity, and ever have been. Further, that great adventures of the mind and of the spirit are ahead; that man will vindicate in his life the facts of universal interdependence and will declare, not so much in words but in acts, his own living reality.
What a time 1875 was, and what a future she predicted! Does not philosophy stand in pale contrast before such a picture she painted? What if man fully assumes his spiritual birthright and, in the future, by deliberate acts of creative imagination, controls in
full measure his consciousness, and moves towards perfectability in a universe of Law? What metaphysics comes near that, what hope down the years offers that future? Yet H.P. Blavatsky's ideas are the same ideas as those of all the great teachers of that circle. Her thought has now been called the flowering of 20th century enlightenment. We are indeed fortunate to be part of this enterprise.
THE DISSEMINATION OF THEOSOPHY CONFERENCE
New York City, August 8-9, 1987 (Condensed from the Conference Report)
The Conference was hosted by Theosophical Sparks magazine, and funded by contributions from members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), the United Lodge of Theosophists and independent students of Theosophy. The Conference was organized completely independently of any theosophical organization or group. A total of 60 people attended. The general mood was warm and friendly, and there was much interest, enthusiasm and participation among those in attendance.
Summary of Presentations
(Papers were read on behalf of absent authors.)
1) "Dissemination Through Lectures and Study Groups," by N.C. Ramanujachary.
Mr. Ramanujachary reminded us of our responsibility to make theosophical teachings available to the general public, which he feels is more important than increasing membership and branches. He
suggested giving talks outside the branches at places such as Rotarians, Lions Clubs and professional bodies, and that the content of the talks should be directly related to daily living and practical application.
2) "The Dissemination of Theosophy: Old Techniques for a New Age," by Joy Mills.
Miss Mills' paper gave an account of the SPOTLIGHT (Speed Popularization Of Theosophy) program initiated by the TS in America in 1946 and revived in the 1950s and 1960s. These programs were lecture tours undertaken in different areas of the country to increase public awareness of theosophy and theosophical philosophy. The lectures were given outside the branches and study groups. Some of the other points mentioned in this paper were the importance of personal contact and the need to use language appropriate to the times when communicating theosophical teachings.
3) "The Dissemination of Theosophy in the Modern World," by Dianne K. Kynaston.
Miss Kynaston reminded us that modern man is better informed and better educated than was the audience for theosophical teachings in the past. She suggested that we must try to communicate ideas in relation to the people we are addressing and that personal contact is still the best way to reach people, although we must be aware of the vast potential offered by the entertainment media, especially film, music and television, as means of conveying theosophical ideas.
4) "Service and the Theosophical Life," by Jean Gullo.
This was a presentation about the Theosophical Order of Service, its history and work of "advocacy of human rights, animal welfare, social justice, a foundation for peace, protection of the planet, the right nurturing and education of children and parents in the goals of Theosophical living, and
the healing of the psyche and the body in accord with nature."
5) "Seminars in the Suburbs," by Joe Pope. Mr. Pope's talk related current efforts of ULT, principally in New York and Los Angeles, to make the general public aware of theosophical teachings by giving talks and seminars in suburban hotels as a way to reach people who live in areas where there are no Lodges.
6) "Theosophy on Television," by David Grossman.
Mr. Grossman told us about the ULT television show that is broadcast on public access cable TV in the New York City area. A ten-minute film clip was shown.
7) "Communication in the Theosophical Movement: Networking or Notworking," by Donald Ramer.
Mr. Ramer's talk dealt with the lack of communication between theosophical students and organizations, and the lack of publicity in getting theosophy known among the general public. He suggested that a key to the rectification of these problems is increased networking among theosophists and more cooperation among theosophical organizations.
8) "Letters from Abroad."
Adam Warcup shared some thoughts on the current status of theosophical dissemination work in England and pointed out the need for more advertising and publicity. Okon Obot of Nigeria stressed the need for greater dissemination efforts in Africa, and Hans Dieter and Helga Rex informed us of the founding and goals of Theosophische Informationsstelle, a theosophical networking effort in West Germany.
9) "Parents' Theosophical Research Group: A Theosophical Service to Parents and Children," by Nadine Hunter.
Ms. Hunter's paper reported on the history
and current work of the Parents' Theosophical Research Group, a department of the Theosophical Order of Service.
10) "On the Dissemination of New Ideas About New Age Techniques for the Disseminating of Theosophy to the World at Large," by Leonardo Hermes Mason.
Mr. Mason suggested that an effective way to reach large numbers of people would be to utilize the mass media, for example, by relating the life stories of well-known figures who led theosophical lives. He suggested that there must be theosophists with writing, production and other media related talents that could work together on such projects and suggested ways these projects could be financed.
11) "Ars Gratis Theosophia," (Art for the Sake of Theosophy) by Paul Meier and Rebecca Reynolds.
Mr. Meier and Miss Reynolds spoke to us on a videotape specially made for the Conference. They are both involved in the theatre arts and suggested ways in which the arts could be used to convey theosophical teachings. A traveling theosophical arts workshop was suggested.
12) History of the Dramatic Work of the Universal Brotherhood," author unknown.
This paper was an edited version of a rough draft written in 1906 or 1907 by a member of the Universal Brotherhood. It was an eye-witness account of the dramatic work conducted by Katherine Tingley at Point Loma.
13) "An Overview of Theosophy: The Introduction of Theosophy to Newcomers," by April Dennis and Jerry Ekins.
Dr. Dennis and Mr. Ekins stressed the importance of having a coherent introductory program for newcomers to theosophy. They reported on such work they currently do at their TS Adyar branch in Los Angeles. They
offer a two-hour presentation consisting of equal parts history of the Theosophical Movement and summary overview of the teachings. The program is currently presented as a narrated slide show but is now in the process of being put on videotape. A portion of the tape was shown.
14) "Some Thoughts on the Dissemination of Theosophy," by Ted. G. Davy.
Mr. Davy raised the questions: To whom should we disseminate? and What should we disseminate? He also stressed the importance of computer technology in relation to its potential for theosophical dissemination.
During the afternoon of each day of the conference, four workshops were held which were selected by attendees from a list of sixteen suggestions. The workshops on Disseminating Theosophical Teachings Through Culture and the Arts, and The Theosophical Education of Children and Young People were selected both days. Other workshops were: Formation of a
Theosophical Speakers Bureau; Developing New Educational Approaches to the Teaching and Study of Theosophy; Dissemination by Individual Students; Advertising, Publicity, Promotion and Public Relations. During the Workshop Summary Period notes were made of all the ideas that came up and these notes will eventually be made available to any theosophist who wants them.
All papers submitted for the Conference (both those read and not read) will be made available to theosophists pending approval of the authors. The intention is to have the papers photocopied, bound and made available for the cost of reproduction and mailing. For additional information: Michael Revere, THEOSOPHICAL SPARKS, P.O. Box 6849 F.D.R. Station, New York, NY 10150-1907 U.S.A.
The work of our Theosophical Society is a magical one, that it is to lay down on the face of the earth the best projection we can make of such things as we believe to exist on the inner planes of being, and one thing above all others, an inner and compassionate Society pledged to the enlightenment of mankind. Primarily, then, we are incarnating among men - giving such body as we can to - a process for the renewal of a wisdom tradition regarding man's origin, his nature and his destiny.
It is not enough that we enunciate that tradition. If mere enunciation were the purpose, the Masters who make up that Inner Society could do it far better than we. A few books of great power, some appearances in the flesh and a few simple and well attested miracles could convert the world in a year. This kind of conversion of the world is obviously not the immediate purpose of our effort. Not only must we enunciate the ancient tradition, but we must enact such things as we know to be inseparable from it in order that as men living among men... we may make the Theosophia a valid and convincing guide to life.
- Roy Mitchell, Theosophy in Action, p. 65
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
I am pleased to welcome into our fellowship the following new members: Mrs. Kalwant Bal, of St. Paul, Alberta, Dharma Study Centre.
Mrs. Joan Holtz, Sherwood Park, Alberta, Member-at-large. Mr. Gary Lawrence and Mrs. Victoria Lawrence, Calgary Lodge. Mrs. Kavita Sharma, Hermes Lodge, Vancouver, B.C.
I regret to announce the death on November 7 of Mr. Arthur Cooper, of Vancouver. He was the Treasurer of Hermes Lodge. He was also the Canadian Section's accountant for the past several years, preparing our annual Financial Statement for us. On behalf of all the members, I extend condolences to his family and friends.
The Annual Meeting of Members was held in Toronto this year, on September 12, 1987. The turnout was quite good, as was the lecture by our Guest Speaker, Miss Joy Mills from Ojai, California. I got to meet old friends and some of our new members, and regrettably missed meeting one or two that I particularly wanted to speak to, due to the press of all that went on during that afternoon.
Next year I expect that we shall be in Victoria, B.C., for our Annual Meeting.
A Study Group of the T.S. in Tuscon, Arizona, is looking for copies of the book, Basic Theosophy, by Geoffrey Hodson. This is out of print. If anyone has a copy of this book surplus to his/her needs, then please contact: Rainbow Moods, L. Karin Elliott, 3322 N. Country Club, Tuscon, Arizona, 85716 U.S.A. (Phone: 602-326-9643)
Herewith my delayed contribution to World Animal Day - a few words to hopefully induce the human, who is an animal while in incarnation, to cease oppressing his younger non-human brothers.
An editorial in the Mar. '83 Cat Fancy mentions a survey by Dr. Alice de Groot, who questioned 1,400 people who were "surrendering" (disposing of) their pets. Her conclusion, originally printed in the Norden News Spring '82, said in part: "Time and time again the reason for surrender came down to convenience ... it would be more convenient not to have a pet than to take whatever actions (that) might be necessary to keep it." She adds: "We are a consumer society, and pets are one of the things we consume ... like any convenience item, the household pet can be discarded when it is judged incapable of satisfying our needs... Every year we overtly trash millions of animals." In the above quotation, we, as Theosophists, could substitute for "pet(s)", the words "life" or "lives".
I see no difference in the value and deserving of respect - respect for life - between "animal" animals and the human animal. The Master D.K. has said that even those whose psychic abilities can see only the etheric physical sub-planes can see the continuum of life, that all lives are but part of One Life, and that there is nothing that is not
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- Mollie Yorke, 1959 Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6J4
- Emory P. Wood (Honorary Director), 9360 - 86 St., Edmonton, Alberta T6C 3E7
EDITORIAL BOARD, CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST
All letters to the Editors, articles and reports for publication should be addressed to the Editors, 2307 Sovereign Crescent S.W., Calgary, Alta. T3C 2M3.
- Editors: Mr. and Mrs. T.G. Davy
Letters intended for publication should be restricted to not more than five hundred words.
The editors reserve the right to shorten any letter unless the writer states that it must be published in full or not at all.
Rannie Publications Limited, Beamsville, Ontario
life. Yet so many people view animals as being just "things" (as one Ontario politician publicly expressed it) - a sort of not-made-by-man robot, usually fur-covered.
The Church long ago sanctioned a do-as-you-want attitude towards animals by stating that animals do not have souls, so anything done was all right. If one wants to get empirical, as science tends to want, one can say without fear of contradiction that it has never been proven whether humans have souls or not, and likewise of animals. The use of the concept of having a soul, or lacking it, as the criterion for sanctioning a do-as-you-want behaviour to animals is a colossally stupid one, and an indication of the level of intelligence of the source of that idea. The criterion must be: do animals have nerves? They do. Therefore intelligence and logic dictates that animals should be treated with the same respect with regard to pain and killing as we would want for our individual self.
Funny, isn't it, that the same Church with the do-as-you-want attitude to animals because of the alleged soul lack, had no hesitation to kill millions of those other animals, humans who, they claim, do have souls, mostly by burning at the stake, "to save their souls." This logic makes one wonder if souls are amenable to heat treatment as are metals and ceramics.
While standing by a large cage containing two kittens, in a pet store this summer, I overheard a young girl say, "Oh, what cute little kitties!" To which her mother replied, "Yes, but they soon grow up." I have seen it happen before, where the young pet is loved and adored; then it commits the crime of growing up, and the love, so transient, goes and the pet is trashed - condemned to death if it is lucky, or to torture in the researcher's laboratory. In my Province, some undeveloped politicians put through a bad law
years ago permitting seizure of animals in pounds for research. So the animal that once knew human love and kindness then gets tortured. It cannot understand the why of the sudden cruelty from a speciocentric animal (human).
By being cruel to animals it is just as easy to act just as badly to humans, and trash them. (The "Holocaust" and the Pol Pok regime in Cambodia, to give two recent big examples.) In spite of laws for so-called lifesaving purposes (seat belts, work condition codes, etc.) I have never seen much indication that humans, particularly those in authority positions, really do care to keep life intact. Whenever a politician, or government or law enforcing body, whether army or secret police organization, deem themselves annoyed or threatened or criticized, there is never any hesitation to kill or torture. We need not look back to the Middle Ages for this: it is happening now. Nor need we look to a Third World dictatorship for this: it happens also in the North American countries. "All that is needed for evil to prevail is for decent men to remain silent."
The notes for this essay were written in early September. In the interim my wife and I recently rescued two kittens that were trashed beside an aunt's very isolated farm in Northern Ontario. One of these, an ingrate, even chewed up a corner of my rough draft before I could type it. On reflection I note that of the eight cats in my immediate family's three branches, only one is not a rescued trash cat.
Since typing these notes I have found yet another trashed cat, almost a year old. (See comments above about fate of kittens that grow up.) This cat's kind owners moved, and left him behind to meet his fate. I conned another member of my family to take him in, not that she needed more, but my house by now is already quite fur-lined.)
LETTER TO THE EDITORS
This has reference to the following two questions (especially the last) asked in the article, "What Kind of Theosophical History?" by Jean-Paul Guignette (C.T. Mar-Apr 1987, p.6).
Are we sure that the true cause of the ignorance of numerous Theosophists as regards the history of their Movement result, not from "a lack of interest" but from the "unavailability of complete and objective studies"? Or could it be that some Theosophists simply will not face certain historical realities?
Recently, having occasion to send something to a neighbour - a veteran "Theosophist" of sorts - I told her that I happened to be reading H.P.B., and one or two lines, including the following sentence, was quoted to her:
"Adyar is the laughing stock of the Theosophists themselves, let alone their enemies."
To these words of Blavatsky, I received this note: "Please do not inform me. I do not wish to know."
Bombay, India. - D.J. Buxey
Calgary Lodge resumed its meetings after the Summer break by welcoming Joy Mills to a members' meeting on Sunday, September 6, at the home of Laetitia and Hank van Hees. The meeting took the form of an afternoon and evening talk and discussion. Joy's title was: "The Stanzas of The Secret Doc-
trine." Between the sessions a pot-luck supper was enjoyed by members of both Calgary and Lotus Lodges.
On Wednesday, September 9, Joy delivered a public lecture at the Memorial Park Library to an audience of over fifty. Her subject was "Encountering Reality: The Mystic in the Modern World." Following the question period, refreshments were served and a number of Theosophical books were purchased and free literature taken by members of the public.
On Tuesday, October 13, Doris and Ted invited members and friends to their home to meet Jean Coulsting and Rex Dutta from Tekels Park, in England. Jean is editor of Viewpoint Aquarius, and Rex is an international authority on UFO's. Rex spoke on "Theosophy and Flying Saucers," and his talk was interspersed with relevant readings by Jean from The Secret Doctrine.
At the regular Lodge meeting the following evening, the topic was "The Inner Rhythms of The Secret Doctrine, " and Jean and Rex explained the Concentric Key method of studying this work. Both meetings were followed by question and answer sessions, and those present also had an opportunity to talk informally while partaking of refreshments.
During the visits of all our guests, the weather was lovely, and we were able to show them something of the beauty of the Canadian Rockies.
The Lodge is continuing with its regular S.D. Study Class on Wednesday evenings, and the regular end-of-month presentations. On the last Wednesday in October we reviewed the videotape, "A Philosophy for a Turbulent World," by Rohit Mehta. The tape also includes a musical interlude in which Mrs. Sridevi Mehta plays the tambura and sings. In addition to the Lodge members, we were pleased to welcome a number of guests to this meeting.
Doris Davy, Secretary
Meetings of Edmonton Lodge resumed in a most delightful way after the summer recess. We had the pleasure of welcoming Joy Mills in our midst at that time.
In May, the Edmonton Lodge headquarters was moved, together with the library, to the Pelletier residence. Joy's lecture on September 1 was the first official gathering at the new headquarters. It was, therefore only befitting the occasion that a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place. As the President and Vice-President held it, Joy cut the ribbon and declared the new HQ officially opened. We were honoured that such an internationally respected personage could be present for this event.
Joy then proceeded with the first segment of her three-part lecture series titled "Theosophy: Religion, Philosophy or Science?" That evening, "Theosophy as Religion" was thoroughly discussed. The following evening, "Theosophy as Philosophy" was dealt with and at the last lecture on the next day, she discoursed on "Theosophy as Science." During each lecture Joy quoted from various new books demonstrating how the Theosophical worldview has permeated religious, philosophical and scientific thought. Joy maintains that many modern writers appear to be looking beyond long-held materialistic views and that many of their statements parallel teachings and information in H.P.B.'s writings.
All three lectures were both video and audio taped. Please contact Edmonton Lodge for further information.
Rogelle Pelletier, Secretary
It has been an unusually exciting season, as we have entertained three well known speakers in the persons of Joy Mills, Jean Coulsting and Rex Dutta. As well, a very successful fund-raising garage sale was held in July to help finance our Newsletter, Pathways.
In August we welcomed Joy Mills to our midst. On Sunday, August 23, a delightful potluck lunch was held at the new home of our President, Fiona Odgren. Members provided a wonderful variety of delicious food. The situation and surrounding countryside provided possibilities for serious contemplation.
The next evening Joy delivered a most thoughtful lecture in the Camosun College auditorium. Her subject was "Path to Human Freedom." On Tuesday, the Lodge held an informal meeting which gave Joy an opportunity to tell of her work and answer questions. As usual, Joy's delightful sense of humour was evident.
On October 2, Rex Dutta and Jean Coulsting arrived for a three-day stay. Next day, a well-attended public lecture was held in the Windsor Park Pavilion. On this occasion Rex spoke on "Humanity's Glorious Spiritual Destiny."
The following day, Sunday, an afternoon meeting was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.L. Squance. There, members and friends heard Rex talk on UFOs. Afterwards, members were invited to Fiona's home where Rex introduced them to the use of the Concentric Key in the study of The Secret Doctrine.
On Monday afternoon members met at the Lodge Rooms to hear a most interesting lecture by Jean entitled "Mind, the Spiritual Pivot." Afterwards, ten members attended a buffet supper at a local restaurant. The final event was again at the Lodge, where Rex lectured on "Deeper Levels of Living."
Since then, we have settled into a more usual routine. Gordon Limbrick is conducting a series of six talks on "The Challenge of Self-Transformation." Alternate Wednesdays, a group has begun a study of The Secret Doctrine. On other Wednesdays, the meetings are in the form of question and answer sessions.
All meetings thus far have been well attended.
Mollie Yorke, Secretary
1988 EUROPEAN SCHOOL OF THEOSOPHY Tekels Park, Camberley, England July 23 - 29, 1988
This 1988 European School of Theosophy will be held at Tekels Park during the week immediately preceding the European Congress. Transportation from Camberley to the Congress will be arranged.
Prospective students, including those from abroad, are advised that the two events are quite distinct. The School will offer an intensive 5-day study program, and admission will be by application on the appropriate forms. The Directors will as usual reserve the right of selection among applicants.
Program details, charges, etc., will be available in due course. Meanwhile, application forms and further information may be obtained from the Secretary of the European School of Theosophy, Mrs. Elise Probert, 21 Alfreda Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF4 2EH, Wales, U.K.
SIN AGAINST LIFE
- H P. Blavatsky
A newspaper paragraph lately declared that a certain American lady of great wealth, residing in London, had conceived the strange desire to possess a cloak made of the soft warm down on the breasts of birds of Paradise. Five hundred breasts, it was said, were required for this purpose, and two skillful marksmen, the story went on to aver, had been sent to New Guinea to shoot the poor little victims whose wholesale slaughter must be accomplished to gratify this savage whim.
We rejoice to observe that the whole statement has been flatly contradicted by the World, apparently on the best possible authority; but, however little the lady concerned may deserve the reproach which the authors of the calumny endeavoured to evoke against her, the feeling it may have excited is worth analysis in a world where, if bird of Paradise cloaks are rare, most women who dress luxuriously adorn themselves in one way or another at the expense of the feathered kingdom.
The principle involved in a bonnet which is decorated with the plumage of a single bird, slaughtered for its sake, is the same as that which would be more grotesquely manifest in a garment that would require the slaughter of five hundred. Too many rich people in this greedy age forget that the grandest privilege of those who possess the means is that they have the power of alleviating suffering.
Too many, again, forget that the sympathies of those who rule the animate world should extend beyond the limits of their own kind; and thus we have the painful spectacle of human "sport" associated in civilized countries still, with pursuits which should no longer afford pleasure to men who have emerged from the primitive life of hunters and fishers. But how is it possible, let us consider, to stoop lowest from the proud estate of humanity in search of ignoble gratification? It is bad to kill any sentient creature for the sake of the savage pleasures of the chase. It is bad, perhaps worse, to cause their destruction for the sake of coldly profiting by their slaughter, and it is bad to squander money in this hard world of want and wide-spread privation on costly personal indulgence. But the acme of all that is reprehensible in these various departments of ill-doing is surely reached when women - who should, by virtue of their sex, be helping to soften the ferocities of life - contrive to collect the cream of evil from each of these varieties, and to sin against a whole catalogue of human duties by cruel acquiescence in an unworthy fashion.
- Lucifer, November, 1887, p 211. (In H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. VIII, pp. 249-250.)
HOME STUDY COURSE
A Theosophical correspondence course is now available to Canadian residents only. It is offered to new students of Theosophy, especially those who are unable to participate in local study groups.
Further information may be obtained by writing HOME STUDY, 57 Eleanor Crescent, Georgetown, Ont. L7G 2T7.
BEATRICE HASTINGS AND THE "DEFENCE OF MADAME BLAVATSKY"
- Michael Gomes (Continued from page 80)
Vsevolod Sergeevich Solovyov's 1895 book, A Modern Priestess of lsis, was probably the most damaging portrayal of Mme. Blavatsky to be published in English in the decade after her death. This Russian writer had met her briefly in Paris in 1884 on her European visit, and again in 1885 after her return to the continent. Solovyov (1849-1903), who specialized in historical novels on Russian themes, is now totally forgotten, obscured by his better known brother, the philosopher Vladimir Sergeevich Solovyov (1853-1900).
A Modern Priestess of lsis (Sovremennaia Zhritsa Izidy), Vsevolod Sergeevich's only work translated into English, initially appeared as eight articles in the 1892 Russian Messenger (Russki Vestnik), and was published in book form in St. Petersburg the next year. It was written, the author says, to counteract (and capitalize) on the interest generated by a long biographical sketch from H.P.B.'s sister, Vera Zhelihovsky, in the Russian Review (Russkoye Obozreniye) in 1891, which, translated, appeared in Lucifer Nov. 1894 to April 1895.
As "abridged and translated on behalf of the Society for Psychical Research" by Walter Leaf, the edition put out by Longmans, Green and Company, London, in 1895, is a complex document. Chapters I to XXV are a rambling account of Solovyov's European encounter with Madame Blavatsky, replete with their conversations from a decade before, and culminating in her long letter to him titled "My Confession." Chapter XXVI to XXIX attempt to recount the origin of the Theosophical Society based on H. P.B.'s letters from New York to the Russian editor, A.N. Aksakov. An abstract of Mme. Zhelihovsky's reply, "H.P. Blavatsky and a Modern Priest of Truth," forms a 35-page Appendix A; this is followed with Solovyov's rejoinder in 31 pages as Appendix B. As if this is not enough, a further assault is made in an Appendix C by William Emmette Coleman, one of H.P.B.'s most virulent critics, claiming plagiarism as the "Sources of Madame Blavatsky's Writings."
Solovyov, who was in Paris in the spring of 1884 gathering material at the Bibliotheque Nationale for a novel, heard of H.P.B.'s arrival in the Paris press which was full of the sparkling receptions held for her by the Duchesse de Pomar in the Faubourg St. Germain. At the time, she was known to him only for her Russian writings, the popular series, From the Caves and Jungles of Hindostan, under her pen-name of "Radda-Bai". He gained an introduction, and according to his letters in Mme. Zhelihovsky's appendix, pestered Mme. Blavatsky to be put on the path of occultism. He was rewarded by an astral visitation by Mahatma M., which he later credited to a case of bad nerves, and after which, H.P.B. says, "having had a good look at him Master would have nothing more to do with him." (15)
Although he later claimed that he was playing the role of the docile inquirer, Solovyov's name appears in a number of letters to the press testifying to the validity of
Theosophical phenomena. The publication of Richard Hodgson's damning report of H.P.B. in the December 1885 Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, and the attendant ridicule it brought to the adherents of Theosophy, must have caused him to reconsider his position, for his attitude toward her radically changed.
"Solovyov has turned against me like a mad dog," H.P.B. informed the President of the London Lodge, A.P. Sinnett, early in February, 1886. (16) Her aunt, Mme. de Fadeyev, had found out that his "wife" who had accompanied him was actually "his unmarried sister-in-law, his other wife's sister, that he seduced when she was only thirteen," (17) and had written to Vera that this "wife" was "no fit company for her daughters." Vera showed this letter to Solovyov who in turn responded with one threatening H.P.B. with the news that General Blavatsky, her first husband, "whom you (H.P.B.) have prematurely buried," was still alive, making her a bigamist.
H.P.B.'s reply, headed "My Confession", is the highpoint of his narrative. While Vera Zhelihovsky has charged him with manipulating certain passages in this letter it can be regarded on the whole, even in translation, as a representation of Mme. Blavatsky's feelings. Her statement begins with an allegory, a fragment of which she quotes in a letter to Sinnett on Feb. 7, 1886: "Did you ever picture to yourself an innocent, harmless boar, who asked only to be left quietly to live in his forest, who had never hurt a man, and against whom a pack of hounds is let loose to turn out of that wood and tear him to pieces?" (18) One by one the wild animals who were his friends join his attackers, and when the boar sees his beloved forest on fire and beyond saving, he turns on the pack, and then "woe to the latter."
"I will snatch the weapon from my enemies' hands and write a book which will resound through all Europe and Asia," she replied to Solovyov. "In this book I shall simply say: In 1848, I, hating my husband, N.V. Blavatsky (it may have been wrong, but still such was the nature God gave me), left him, abandoned him - a virgin (I shall produce documents and a letter proving this; and he himself is not such a swine as to deny it). I loved one man deeply, but I loved occult science still more, believing in magic, enchantments, etc.... I will even take to lies, to the greatest of lies, which for that reason is the most likely of all to be believed. I will say and publish it in the Times and in all the papers, that the 'Master' and Mahatma 'K.H.' are only the product of my own imagination: that I invented them ... And to this I have been brought by YOU. You have been the last straw which has broken the camel's back under its intolerably heavy burden." (19)
Not much of a confession by any standard, but Solovyov manipulated fragments he translated into French for members of the Paris branch, making it seem much more damaging. Although he had the audacity to write her back, "if you compare yourself to a wild boar, and want to bite, very well, the traps are laid," (20) he did nothing, but waited until she was dead and truly powerless, and then he struck. His explanation that he was only correcting the false impression given by Mme. Zhelihovsky's 1891 review of her sister's life, is flawed, for she had also issued a far more important sketch, "The Truth About Mme. Blavatsky", for the St. Petersburg journal Rebus, in 1883, which was issued as a pamphlet around the time of his initial break with the Theosophists.
Since much of his narrative and Mme. Blavatsky's admissions are reported in the form of their conversation, we have only Solovy-
ov's word for much of what he gives, but when he attempts to reconstruct the events that led to the founding of the Theosophical Society based on some early letters of H.P.B.'s to Alexander Aksakov, his blunders can be checked. An example of his slanting evidence is shown on page 253 of the book where, after quoting a long letter from H.P.B. dated May 24, 1875, he gives as his own brief summation her motive for starting the Society: "Here, you see, is my trouble, tomorrow there will be nothing to eat. Something quite out of the way must be invented." Worked into his text these words, contrary to the events, leave the impression of being H.P.B.'s, and have been quoted with the complacency of subsequent biographers as if they were.
Mrs. Hastings' treatment of Solovyov's story remains, like her volume on Mme. Coulomb's pamphlet, the only study devoted solely to refuting the author's charges. Her handling is ingenious, and by sifting through the charges and countercharges that circulate in the pages of A Modern Priestess of Isis, she reconstructs what actually occurred - the "plain tale" verified by documents, dates and chronology, from Solovyov's "perverted tale" which belongs to fiction. Her Defence volume on Solovyov was initially advertised to follow one that dealt with the "Shrine" at Adyar and Hodgson's 1885 report on it, but she had come to believe that the demolition of Solovyov's account should take precedence. Unlike Hodgson's Report, for which the Society for Psychical Research had repeatedly disclaimed responsibility, this book carried a prefatory note by the Founder-President, Henry Sidgwick, who was "authorized by the Council of the Society for Psychical Research to state formally on their behalf that the present translation of Mr. Solovyov's A Modern Priestess of Isis has been made and published with their approval." (21) Mr. Solovyov's "entertaining, narrative" would make "an Important supplement" to the S.P.R. Committee's 1885 Report.
This crucial work was the last of her many writings that Beatrice Hastings saw through the press. The Dec. 15, 1943 number of The Canadian Theosophist carried a blackbordered notice on page 312 that she passed away peacefully on Oct. 30. She had suffered from ill-health for some time: a copy of Raphael's Ephemeris in which she made marginal notes has next to the date of 8 Nov. 1941, "getting ill."
The Jan. 15, 1944 issue of the C.T. contained an expanded notice of Mrs. Hastings' death. According to the inquest, quoted from the Worthing Gazette of Oct. 31, 1943, "the coroner returned a verdict of suicide while the deceased was mentally unhinged." Medical evidence was that the deceased must have suffered "considerable pain" for a long period of time, from the condition of the internal organs.
Miss Doris Lilian Green, who occasionally acted in a secretarial capacity for Mrs. Hastings, and who became the executrix of her estate, wrote me, correcting part of Smythe's obituary, that "her passing was peaceful even if she hastened the end herself - not in the kitchen but in the room she used as a bed-sitting room. She took a pillow of eiderdown and seated herself comfortably on the floor and turned on the gas-fire tap. A Mrs. Nolan, who was attending her then, found her ...I don't think she had cancer - tho' she believed she had, and certainly did suffer acutely from the gastro-enteritis, or whatever it was." (22) One of her last tasks was to indicate that her library of books, pamphlets and typed papers that she had built up during her Defence of Madame Blavatsky cam-
paign be sent to A.E.S. Smythe, and this was done after the War.
Beatrice Hastings brought a new impetus to the field of Theosophical research, and in the decades following her death, her insistence on thorough documentation proved a marked influence on other writers. K.F. Vania issued his 1951 study, Madame H.P. Blavatsky, Her Occult Phenomena and the Society for Psychical Research, as a fulfilment of her intention to deal with Hodgson's 1885 Report. Mr. Vania referred to her as "my worthy and illustrious predecessor" in his preface, acknowledging that "her work has always been a fount of inspiration to the present writer." A selection of her annotated books, pamphlets and unpublished notes on the Shrine Room at Adyar, was loaned for some years to Walter Carrithers, the author of Obituary: "The Hodgson Report" on Madame Blavatsky, 1963. He believes that "her work was probably as much inspiration as rationalization."
Her work provides a sharp demarcation with the studies of the Blavatsky case that had preceded hers - William Kingsland's 1927 analysis of the Hodgson Report, which he undertook for the Blavatsky Association; and Annie Besant's 1907 summation of the testimony of the Theosophists in this case. While they approached the subject with "great reluctance and distaste," as admitted by Kingsland, Mrs. Hastings entered on her work with a certain gusto. She tracked down as much of the original literature as possible, including old pamphlets and reports. Some came from the London bookseller, John Watkins; other volumes were loaned from William Kingsland's library. She even made a special visit to R.A.V. Morris of Hove, Sussex, whom Barker had told her had "every magazine and book he can lay his hands on." What she could not get, she had typed copies made.
She follows a line of action indicated by H.P.B. herself in a letter to Sinnett, where she says, "Show systematically the unheard of persecutions, conspiracies, even the mistakes made, and that will be our justification." (23) As Mrs. Hastings informed one of her F.M.B. members, "We have to prove first, not that the phenomena were occult, but that they could not have been done in the fraudulent manner alleged; and the Masters can at best only be taken for granted, as it were, as I take them myself in my writings, not insisting - until HPB herself is cleared, for she is their witness. The same applies to the other witnesses, Olcott, Damodar and others: we must clear them first . And we CAN!" (24)
Mrs. Hastings must have hit the quiet London community of Theosophists, especially around A. Trevor Barker and the Hon. Iona Davey, like a meteorite. Described to me as a set of "crusty old tories" by someone who knew this group, Mrs. Hastings' bohemian attitude, her constant smoking Du Maurier's red label cigarettes, and her other idiosyncrasies, would have inevitably proved a friction. There was also the physical and psychic pressures of the War, and the deteriorating condition of A. Trevor Barker. Mrs. Elsie Benjamin, secretary to Dr. de Purucker, leader of the Point Loma Theosophical Society, who came to England in 1937 and met Barker, the President of their English Section, wrote me that "all during that time Trevor was a very ill man, and his illness particularly taking the form of deep depression and excessive fatigue, which would be bound to colour his correspondence and outlook." (25)
In the end, Beatrice Hastings' association with Theosophists proved fatal, for recent
biographies, whether they be on members of the Paris art scene during the First War, or of London's "literary underworld" as Virginia Woolf called them, use this connection to detract from her contribution. After admitting her influence on the artist Modigliani, his biographer, Pierre Sichel, dismisses her as having "ended with a crew of bogus amateur Theosophists who hung on her words." (26) She was enough of a woman of the literary world to know this would happen but she continued on her Defence campaign. Early in her correspondence with A. Trevor Barker she wrote him, "I do this work because I wish to leave the record behind me ... It will bring me neither kudos nor, probably money ... The literary world will think me a fool to spend my time on H.P.B. and several lukewarm enemies will become real ones ... As for Theosophists ... after reading the stupid articles on the Hare book, I very much doubt whether the writers would indeed welcome an outsider who puts them all to shame from the only tribune that matters a damn in this case, the documentary." (27)
15. H.P.B. to A.P. Sinnett (late Feb./early Mar., 1886, Wurzburg), Letter LXXIX, in The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett (LBS), p. 192.
16. H.P.B. to Sinnett, (early February, 1886), Letter LXXII, LBS, p. 175.
17. H.P.B. to Sinnett (Mar. 3, 1886), Letter LXXX, LBS, p. 192.
18. H.P.B. to Sinnett (Feb. 7, 1886), Letter LXXVI, LBS, p. 179
19. H.P.B. to V.S. Solovyov (dated by Mrs. Hastings as "about Feb. 13, '86, or earlier, probably 8 or 9"), A Modern Priestess of Isis (MPI) London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1895; reprinted, New York; Arno Press, 1976), pp. 176-81.
A note on spelling: the translator of his book, and Mrs. Hastings, follow the old spelling, Solovyoff; I prefer an -iov ending as it gives the reader a better guide to pronunciation, but Cambridge University Press uses the more traditional Solovyov for the entry on his brother in Nineteenth Century Religious Thought in the West, 2,1985. I have decided to use the -yov ending. If the reader tries to follow up material on him there would probably be more under this spelling.
20. V.S. Solovyov to Blavatsky (Hastings' date: "about Feb. 13, '86"), MPI, p. 317. 21.
21. Henry Sidgwick, MPI, p. iii.
22. Doris Lilian Green to myself, Sept. 1971. Mrs. Hastings' collection of books and pamphlets left to Smythe went to the H.P.B. Lending Library in British Columbia shortly before his death in 1947.
23. H.P.B. to Sinnett (after 13 April, 1886), Letter LX, LBS, p. 147.
24. Hastings to C.W.F. Bellgrove of Melbourne, Australia, March 30, 1938, Worthings. Hastings Collection.
25. Elsie Benjamin (nee Savage) to myself, 7 April, 1971, Worthing, England.
26. P. Sichel, Modigliani, p. 305.
27. Hastings to Barker, Nov. 17, 1936, Worthing. Hastings Collection.
A READER'S NOTES
A new revised and expanded edition of the Bibliography of H.P. Blavatsky, compiled by Jean-Paul Guignette, has been issued by the Theosophical History Centre.
Copies may be obtained from the Theosophical History Centre, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1 H 3HJ, England. Price including postage, $4.00 (U.S.).
A new Theosophical magazine Protogonos, is in circulation. The Editor is Mark Jaqua.
Issue No. 1 is undated. It contains reprints of articles by H.P. Blavatsky and G. de Purucker, and retells Bertram Keightley's famous anecdote concerning "The Gem." There are also original articles including one by the Editor.
Protogonos is sent free of charge four times a year upon request. It is supported in part by free-will contributions. Further information from: Isis Books, M-793 Road 7, Napoleon, Ohio 43545, U.S.A.
Hermes Library, established over 50 years ago in Hermes Lodge of Vancouver, B.C., is a growing, well-developed special library which acquires books, journals, pamphlets and cassettes on Theosophy. The Library is open to the public on Saturday afternoons and before and after public meetings.
To aid research and to support further the Theosophical Society, Hermes Library is extending its service across Canada. Books and cassettes are available for borrowing by mail to members of Hermes Library anywhere in Canada.
Membership in Hermes Library is available free to members of Vancouver T.S. Lodges. Members-at-large, members of the Society who live outside the Vancouver area (anywhere in Canada) and non-members may borrow books by purchasing a Library card for an annual fee of $10.00 ($5.00 for seniors).
Reference service and enquiries to: Hermes Lodge, Theosophical Society, 2-2807 West 16th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6K 3C5 (Phone: 733-5684)
NOTICE TO SUBSCRIBERS
Commencing with this issue, the annual subscription to The Canadian Theosophist will be $9.00; individual issues $1.50 each. The increase will also be reflected in members' dues, which include a magazine subscription.
The change in rates is regretted, but it has been necessitated by rising printing and postage costs over the past several years.
T.S. IN CANADA TAPE LENDING LIBRARY
Audio and video cassette tapes of lectures, etc., are available on free loan from the T.S. in Canada tape lending library. (This service is for residents of Canada only.) Write for list to: Doris Davy, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W., Calgary, Alberta. T3C 2M3.
S.D.Q & A HELD OVER
Lack of space necessitates holding over the Secret Doctrine Question and Answer Section. The series will resume in the next issue. - Eds.
"THE SLEEPING SPHERES"
Now available: "The Sleeping Spheres", by Jasper Niemand, with notes by Willem B. Roos. Price $2.00 including postage. Available from: The Canadian Theosophist, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3C 2M3
REPRINTS OF OLD THEOSOPHICAL LITERATURE
Edmonton Lodge is pleased to announce its program to produce a number of rare Theosophical books and journals in a quality reprint format.
Some of the titles already available are:
An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, by William Wynn Wescott (1926).
The Bhagavat Geeta. (1849 Trilingual edition in Sanskrit, English and Canarese. English translation by Charles Wilkins.)
Dawn, An Independent Australian Theosophical Journal (1921-1924).
Psychic Notes, A Record of Spiritual and Occult Research. A Journal published in India January to April, 1882. (Mentioned in The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett. )
Theosophical Notes. Written and published by Victor Endersby from 1950 to 1978. Ten large volumes.
All the above are in good quality bindings. Write for complete list to: Edmonton Lodge, Theosophical Society P.O. Box 4804
Edmonton, AB Canada T6E 2A0
Toronto Theosophical Society Traveling Library
The Traveling Library of the Toronto Theosophical Society is operating and offing books on loan by mail to Society members only in Canada. Inquires to: Mrs. B. Treloar, Apt. 288, 2095 Roche Ct., Mississauga, Ontario L5K 2C8
THE H.P.B. LIBRARY
c/o M. Freeman, Site No. 19, Comp. No. 2, R.R. 1, Vernon, B.C. V1T 6L4
Comprehensive literature of the Theosophical Movement lent by mail. Catalog on request. The library also publishes the following:
- The Voice of the Silence (Peking Edition)
- Works by Alice Leighton Cleather:
H.P. Blavatsky - A Great Betrayal
H.P. Blavatsky - Her Life and Work for Humanity
H.P. Blavatsky - As I Knew Her
- Works by Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump:
Buddhism - The Science of Life
The Pseudo-Occultism of Mrs. A. Baily.
- Nine "H.P.B. Pamphlets", including early articles from Lucifer.
- Write for price list.
BEACONSFIELD STUDY CENTRE: Secretary, Mrs. Suzanne Hassanein, 81 Heritage Rd., Beaconsfield, P.Q., H9W 3V2. (Phone 695-2618 or 697-8198).
CALGARY LODGE: President, Mr. Ted G. Davy, Secretary, Mrs. Doris Davy, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W. Calgar, Alta. T3C 2M3
DHARMA STUDY CENTRE: Secretary, Mrs. Diane Mottus, Box 145 Glendon, Alta., T0A 1P0
EDMONTON LODGE: President, Mr. Ernest E. Pelletier; Secretary, Mrs. Rogelle Pelletier, South Side Edmonton Post Office Box 4804, Edmonton, Alta. T6E 2A0. (Phone 434-9326).
HAMILTON LODGE: President, Sharon L. Taylor; Secretary, Mr. Richard D. MacPhail, 200 Hunter St. West, Apt. 18 Hamilton, Ont L8P 1R6 MONTREAL LODGE: President, Mrs. Phoebe Stone; Secretary, Mr. Fred Wilkes, 3679 Ste. Famille, No.22, Montreal, P.Q. H2X 2L5
TORONTO LODGE: President, Mr. David Zuk; Secretary, Mr. Wilf Olin (Phone 922-5571)
VANCOUVER LODGE: President, Mrs. Marian Thompson; Sec.-Treas. Mrs. Anne Whalen, Lodge Rooms, Room 413, Dominion Building, 207 West Hastings St., Vancouver, V6B 1H7.
HERMES LODGE, VANCOUVER: President, Mr. Larry Gray; Secretary, Mrs. Eva V. Sharp. Lodge Rooms: 2 - 2807 West 16th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6K 3C5. (Phone 733-5684 or 266-7340.)
KALEVALA STUDY CENTRE, VANCOUVER: Secretary; Mrs. Hellin Savolainen, 2282 Gravely St., Vancouver, B.C. V5L 3C2.
ORPHEUS LODGE, VANCOUVER: President, Mrs. Lillian Hooper. (Phone 987-8633 or 731-7491.)
VICTORIA LODGE: President, Mrs. Fiona Odgren; Secretary, Mrs. Mollie Yorke. (Phone 592-9838).
ATMA VIDYA LODGE: Secretary, Mrs. H. Tidberry. Enquiries c/o General Secretary.
BLAVATSKY INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS
2307 Sovereign Crescent S.W., Calgary, Aberta T3C 2M3
- Modern Theosophy, by Claude Falls Wright Cloth $1.75
- The Exile of the Soul, by Roy Mitchell - a key to the understanding of occult psychology. Cloth $2.75
- Theosophic Study, by Roy Mitchell, a book of practical guidance in methods of study. Paper $1.00
- Course in Public Speaking, by Roy Mitchell. Especially written for Theosophical students. $3.00
- The Use of the Secret Doctrine, by Roy Mitchell. 10c
- Theosophy, An Attitude Toward Life, by Dudley Barr. 50c
- The Wisdom of Confucius, by Iverson L. Harris. 25c
Postage extra on all titles