Published by The Blavatsky Archives Online. Online Edition copyright 1999.
A Mahatma Letter
to Mrs. Laura C. Holloway
[The following Mahatma letter was written by Master Koot Hoomi in the latter part of August, 1884 to Laura C. Holloway, an American newspaper journalist then visiting the Gebhard family in Elberfeld, Germany. At this time H.P. Blavatsky was also staying at the Gebhard residence. Only portions of this letter have ever been published. See Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series (1973 printing) pp. 147-150 where the incomplete text is given as from two separate letters. A complete transcription of the entire letter is given below.---Daniel H. Caldwell.]
When you are older in your chela life you will not be surprised if no notice is taken of your wishes, and even birthdays and other feasts and fasts. For you will have then learned to put a proper value on the carcass-sheath of the Self and all its relations. To the profane a birthday is but a twelve-month-stride toward the grave. When each new year marks for you a step of evolution, all will be ready with their congratulations; there will be something real to felicitate you upon. But, so far, you are not even one year old---and you would be treated as an adult! Try to learn to stand firm on your legs, child, before you venture walking. It is because you are so young and ignorant in the ways of occult life that you are so easily forgiven. But you have to attend ours ways and put ------ and her caprices and whims far in the background before the expiration of the first year of your life as a chela if you would see the dawn of the second year. Now, the lake in the mountain heights of your being is one day a tossing waste of waters, as the gust of caprice or temper sweeps through your soul; the next a mirror as they subside and peace reigns in the "house of life." One day you win a step forward; the next you fall two back. Chelaship admits none of these transitions; its prime and constant qualification is a calm, even contemplative state of mind (not the mediumistic passivity) fitted to receive psychic impressions from without, and to transmit one's own from within. The mind can be made to work with electric swiftness in a high excitement; but the Buddhi---never. To its clear region, calm must ever reign. It is foolish to be thinking of outward Upasika in this connection. She is not a "chela." You wish confirmation of what has been told you about the cause and effect of your transfer from London to Elberfeld. Take it. The fact is as explained. You cannot acquire psychic power until the causes of psychic debility are removed. Your trouble is, that you "cannot take in" the doctrine of shells. You have scarcely learned the elements of self-control in psychism; your vivid creative imagination evokes illusive creatures, coined the instant before in the mint of your mind; unknown to yourself. As yet you have not acquired the exact method of detecting the false from the true, since you have not yet comprehended the doctrine of shells. Nevertheless it is not unreasonable emotionalism that can remove a fact from Nature. Your ex-friend is a shell, and one more dangerous for you than ten other shells---for his feeling for you was intense and earthly. The little of the spirituality in it is now in Devachan---and there remains in Kama-Loka but the dross he tried so vainly to repress. And now listen and remember:
Whether you sit for friends in America or London, or elsewhere as medium---though you now hate the word---or seeress, or revelator, since you have scarcely learned the elements of self-control, in psychism, you must suffer bad consequences. You draw to yourself the nearest and strongest influences---often evil---and absorb them, and are psychically stifled or narcotised by them. The airs become peopled with resuscitated phantoms.
They give you false tokens, misleading revelations, deceptive images. Your vivid creative fancy evokes illusive Gurus and chelas, and puts into their mouths words coined the instant before in the mint of your mind, unknown to yourself. The false appears as real, as the true, and you have no exact method of detection, since you are yet prone to force your communications to agree with your preconceptions. Mr. Sinnett against his own wish and unconsciously to himself has attracted about him a cloud of elementaries whose power is such over him as to make him miserably unhappy for the moment and shake his constance. He is actually in danger of loosing all he has gained, and of cutting himself off from me forever. Worse than all---he has severed himself from his protecting shield, his sweet child, through whom I could have acted (and have done so for a long time) to shelter him from the malignant influences about him. The pure boy is far away and no direct influence of mine can reach him. I cannot help him; he must help himself. I shall rejoice if he conquers; for by this practical experience his intuitions will have become sharpened and help him to distinguish truth from falsehood. At this moment he is enwrapped in a mist of maya, and whenever he approached you, you too were lost in it. I have denied---black on white communicating with him through you. I have never done so, and this I repeat; but he clings to his unwholesome illusion and by implication makes me a falsifier. (1) Poor friend, of India, to have been told such a deal and---learnt so little! (You may copy this and send her this if you like.)
How can you know the real from the unreal, the true from the false? Only by self-development. How get that? By first carefully guarding yourself against the causes of self-deception, and chief among them, the holding of intercourse with elementaries as before, whether to please friends (?), or gratify your own curiosity. And then by spending a certain fixed hour or hours each day, all alone in self-contemplation, writing, reading, the purification of your motives, the study and correction of your faults, the planning of your work in the external life. These hours should be sacredly reserved for this purpose, and no one, not even your most intimate friend or friends, should be with you then. Little by little your sight will clear, you will find the mists pass away, your interior faculties strengthen, your attraction toward us gain force, and certainty replace doubts. But beware of seeking or leaning too much upon direct authority. Our ways are not your ways. We rarely show any outward signs by which to be recognized or sensed. Do you think H.S.O., and Mohini, and Mad. Gebhard have been counselling you entirely without prompting from us? As for U[pasika], you love her more than you respect her advice. You do not realize that when speaking of, or as from us, she dares not mix up her own personal opinions with those she tells you are ours. None of us would dare do so, for we have a code that is not to be transgressed. Learn, child, to catch a hint through whatever agency it may be given. You were told ere now never to touch Mohini; you have done so out of sheer malice and brought upon yourself the displeasure of one of our chiefs. "Sermons may be preached even through stones." You will not be unwatched and uncared for, but you have to attract not to repel us and our chelas. Mohini's ideas about "judgement" etc., may sound unpleasant to the ears of Miss Arundale; but she has to accept things as he does if she would be taken notice of, at all. Do not be too eager for "instructions" any of you. You will always get what you need as you shall deserve them, but no more than you deserve or are able to assimilate. Your book is a good test in this direction.
And now the battle is set in array: fight a good fight even with your own friend, General H. (2) and may you win.
(1) Compare these statements with what K.H wrote in Mahatma Letter No. 62 (TUP Online edition):
"You ask me if you can tell Miss Arundale what I told you thro' Mrs. H. You are quite at liberty to explain to her the situation, and thereby justify in her eyes your seeming disloyalty and rebellion against us as she thinks. You can do so the more since I have never bound you to anything thro' Mrs. H.; never communicated with you or any one else thro' her -- nor have any of my, or M.'s chelas, to my knowledge, except in America, once at Paris and another time at Mrs. A.'s house. She is an excellent but quite undeveloped clairvoyante. Had she not been imprudently meddled with, and had you followed the old woman's and Mohini's advice indeed, by this time I might have spoken with you thro' her -- and such was our intention. It is again your own fault, my good friend. You have proudly claimed the privilege of exercising your own, uncontrolled judgment in occult matters you could know nothing about -- and the occult laws -- you believe you can defy and play with, with impunity -- have turned round upon you and have badly hurt you. It is all as it should be."
(2) Major-General Oliver Otis Howard. See his Autobiography (1907), Volume Two, pp. 536-537 for a brief account of his trip to Elberfeld and his visit with Mrs. Holloway and Madame Blavatsky.