Corrections Concerning the Controversy on Occultism
Bulletin Mensuel de la Société Scientifique d’Etudes Psychologiques, Paris, May 15, 1883
Translation from the original French text.
We have received from Mme Blavatsky a letter dated from Madras, April 17. In this letter, the eminent Secretary of the Theosophical Society and Editor of The Theosophist, asks for some corrections which we hasten to publish. We quote the exact text of her letter:
In the Bulletin of March 15, 1883, you say that the article (on the constitution of man, the nature of what are commonly called spirits, and mediumship in general, published in the February issue) was written by Col. Olcott. Nothing of the kind. That number of the Fragments, of which eight have already appeared, was written by Mr. A. O. Hume, ex-president of the Theosophical Society of Simla, “the Simla Eclectic T.S.” He wrote it at the beginning of his occult studies, in answer to Mr. Terry of Melbourne, and took as a basis some passages he found in the letters from the “Mahatma Koot Hoomi,” and from another great Adept-Master of the Himalayan Brotherhood. It was the first one he wrote and it was very superficial indeed. Correct in general, he erred considerably in details, and you would be making a great mistake in seeing the Alpha and Omega of our science in it. Since its appearance, our Brother Koot Hoomi—or rather our Master and benefactor—has undertaken to give the world something which has never been given out to the present time; and through the agency of Mr. Sinnett who is well known to you all. It is the latter who has written almost under his dictation (if the innumerable letters written to him by the Master may be called dictated); in brief, it was Mr. Sinnett who compiled from the letters of his Master and regular correspondent, the seven numbers (following the first) which have already appeared and which give the public the correct teaching of the Buddhist Arhats. Mr. C. ought to translate them first, and it is only then that they can be criticized, because, I repeat, number one is very incorrect indeed in its details.
This is the passage in Madame Blavatsky’s letter relating to the article which provoked the criticism of almost all the Spiritists.
Although the rest of the letter does not demand of our impartiality the same publicity, we believe there is no indiscretion in reproducing it. There are some excellent things in it of which our readers will be able to appreciate the justice—more or less—and perhaps to profit by. Madame Blavatsky, undoubtedly alluding to the article published in the Bulletin of March 15, under the title, “Science and Philosophy, or two civilizations facing each other,” expresses herself as follows in addressing the President of the Society of Psychological Studies:
I thank you, dear Sir, for the compliments you have paid me, but I hardly deserve them. I am only doing my duty, and I am but the humble disciple of our great Masters. You are right, in holding your own opinions as we are in holding ours. “From the clash of opinions light springs forth.” That is what is necessary. A work that does not advance, retreats. It is better to have a good quarrel among ourselves—a friendly quarrel, it should be understood—than to ignore one another as we have done till now. I believe that even Mr. Cahagnet, my venerable friend and our brother, is opposed to our ideas. So much the worse. Truth is truth, and facts can never be metamorphosed into fictions because they displease certain factions. Occultism supports and proves Spiritism, while Spiritualism (Anglo-American) is diametrically opposed to its most important teaching, reincarnation.
You base yourself on, and put all your trust in, what “the spirits” tell you and in what the “Clairvoyants” (mediums) make them say, leading them where they will and how they will. The very nature of these spirits not yet being proved, because the identification (identity) of their personalities is accepted on their own affirmations, which it is impossible for you to verify, how do you know that you are not mistaken and that these so-called souls are not something quite different from what they tell you they are. An angel of darkness (a clerical expression) knows as much as an angel of light, and is able to personify whomsoever he will. Not that I believe in the one or the other, but I am saying this as a simple example.
We do not believe in the possibility of an infallible knowledge. We reject the idea that absolute infallibility can be bestowed upon even the highest adept. But we at least are acquainted with our Masters and know with whom we have to deal. But we know that, mortal men as they are, like the long generations of other adepts who have preceded them, they are never in contradiction with one another and have always declared that, in their clairvoyance, during which their spirits soar in the very regions where the so-called souls and “suffering spirits” dwell, they have studied the nature of the latter and can speak from knowledge. On the other hand the Spiritualists are obliged to trust to, and abide by, what their spirits say, spirits which they can neither see, nor touch, nor understand, except in the materializations, which are after all only a fata morgana, that is to say a mirage of the senses, so to speak. It is impossible for you to avoid having more or less blind faith; we, on the contrary, do not assume, nor accept anything on faith. We have mathematical proofs and we stand by them.
Yours with sincerity and respect,
H. P. Blavatsky.