Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Copyright 2004.
The United Lodge of Theosophists
and The Mahatma Letters
by Daniel H. Caldwell
James Santucci, in an article on The United Lodge of Theosophists for "The Encyclopedia of Cults, Sects and New Religions" (Prometheus Press, 1998, page 503), wrote:"In 1909, [Robert] Crosbie, with these same interested acquaintances who shared his views that only the Source Theosophy of Blavatsky and Judge should be studied, formed the United Lodge of Theosophists in Los Angeles. What set this group apart from other theosophical societies was (and continues to be) its stress only on Source Theosophy (EXCLUDING EVEN the letters of the masters K.H. and M written between 1880 and 1884 to . . . A.P. Sinnett). . . ." Caps added.In the 1930s, H.N. Stokes, the editor of "The O.E. Library Critic" (Washington, D.C.), wrote at least two articles on the United Lodge of Theosophist's attitude toward "the letters of the masters K.H. and M." The articles are:"Is the ULT Boycotting The Mahatma Letters?" ("The O.E. Library Critic," April, 1934.) "Magazine Theosophy Places The Mahatma Letters on ULT Index Expurgatorius." ("The O.E. Library Critic," May-June, 1935.Stokes noted that soon after "The Mahatma Letters" were first published in London in Dec., 1923, "Theosophy" Magazine (the Los Angeles based ULT periodical) "hailed" the publication of these letters as follows:"These letters are, beyond all question the one great and final contribution to Theosophical literature and history since 'The Secret Doctrine.' They solve the hitherto baffling and inscrutable mysteries in connection with the public course of the Movement, by bringing to light the missing links of its degradation through theosophists, theosophical societies, and the world at large. ... Let all true Theosophists rejoice at the light that is now shed on the dark places of the past and present." "Theosophy" Magazine, March, 1924But Stokes pointed out that four ULT magazines (including "Theosophy" Magazine) subsequently had the practice of quoting from "The Mahatma Letters" but never telling their readers that they were quoting from the book entitled "The Mahatma Letters To A. P. Sinnett." Stokes found that in the years 1928-1933, these four ULT magazines had quoted 87 times from the Letters. Stokes wrote:"Of the 87 quotations from The Mahatma Letters only one gives reference; the others afford not the slightest clue to the source, not the slightest possibility of the student locating it without laborious search. He is not even permitted to know the existence of such a book as 'The Mahatma Letters'." "The O.E. Library Critic," April, 1934In the other article mentioned above, Stokes discussed an article published in "Theosophy" Magazine for February, 1935. The anonymous ULT associate wrote for two or three pages on "The Mahatma Letters" but then concluded:"All that is taught in the Letters is contained in 'The Secret Doctrine' ... and is there presented in proper form for students under the direct instruction and sponsoring of the Mahatmas themselves. The publication of the 'Mahatma Letters' in violation of Their own injunction, and recourse to these Letters [by Theosophical students] instead of to The Secret Doctrine for instruction in Occultism, shows the difference between true and false psychology. Mr. Sinnett's use of the Letters was such as to close to him the door opened via H.P.B. with the Mahatmas: What will be the effect of the unlawful publication and use of them thus made possible to so many hopeless Incurables in the Mysteries?"Stokes pointed out that several of the assertions made in this quotation are not true. Stokes went on to say:"But when the 'Theosophy' Magazine writer speaks of 'false psychology' and of 'hopeless Incurables in the Mysteries' one is prompted to ask whether these rather strong terms do not apply to himself. He is constantly referring in these articles to 'The Mahatma Letters.' Consequently he must have read them. If so, why does he do that which he thinks it improper for others to do because of their private nature? And why did the magazine 'Theosophy' in its series [of articles] later published as 'The Theosophical Movement' [in 1925 as a book] constantly quote from documents [written by H.P.B. and] marked private and issued to E.S.T. members under pledge of secrecy? Are we to suppose that this anonymous writer, or the editors of 'Theosophy' Magazine, are above all rules applying to lesser mortals? No, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If 'The Mahatma Letters' are private documents today, no one without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others, or to discourage others from doing what he does himself when it suits his purpose ... .Sensible students will not be deterred by talk from those who do not practise what they preach." "The O.E. Library Critic," May-June, 1935.It would appear that in the intervening decades, many ULT students have continued to object to the publication of The Mahatma Letters. For example, on Theos-Talk in Nov. 2002, Steven Levey, a ULT student, wrote:". . . I was a member of the T.S 30 years ago and after a short stay of a couple of years, I joined the United Lodge of Theosophists. . . . My study and the closest students within my circle of study feel as if they (The Mahatma Letters)are nearly impossible to use since their context or focus seemed to be to individual students. They are valid as productions of the beings attributed to, but their subject matter seemed to be limited to the student on the original receiving end. Therefore, and as such, they should never have been published to a general audience. I read them when they came my way as a member of the T.S. At that time, as I do when I read something difficult to characterize or to practically use, I put them on a 'back burner', so to speak. Upon spending many years studying HPB's The Secret Doctrine along with her collective writings as well as William Quan Judge's, Robert Crosbie, and others, it became clear to me that students who flaunt knowledge of the Mahatma Letters are doing so for some egocentric purpose. Why? Because when you place what the Mahatmas have said in the context in which they are placed in thoughtful writings aimed at giving the student as much context as possible in which to understand their wisdom, one might learn something useful. Otherwise, the Mahatma Letters stand only as an enigma. Real, but rather practically useless. Those in HPB's direct lineage, which leaves out many, if not most writers in the Theosophical Society, who have received further instruction from the Lodge of Mahatmas, have never given a collection of the Mahatma letters to be printed. They have ALWAYS been exerpted and put in the context of principled ideation regarding a subject matter in discussion. Why exerpted? Because it is clear to students of the Wisdom religion, that the Chelas of Mahatmas are given instructions as to how the wisdom of the Teacher will be used. This trust is beyond question amongst those so chosen. . . . " Quoted from: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/theos-talk/message/9217There are a number of strange, misleading and erroneous statements in the above which could be corrected simply by reading the Mahatma Letters for oneself.Here is another example. In a recent issue of the "Aquarian Theosophist" [edited by an ULT student], there is an article titled "How the Masters approach an Aspirant." See page 7 at the following URL: http://www.teosofia.com/Docs/vol-3-6-supplement.pdfNowhere in the main text or the footnotes do I find where these two extracts from the Master KH are taken from. To paraphrase Dr. Stokes, the article does NOT "afford the slightest clue to the source [for the Master's words], not the slightest possibility of the student locating it without laborious search."Turning again to the ULT writer previously quoted who wrote that the "publication of the 'Mahatma Letters' [is] in violation of Their own injunction," I will now explore this aspect of the subject. It is true that the Master Koot Hoomi wrote the following concerning the publication of his own letters and notes to Sinnett:"The letters, in short, were not written for publication or public comment upon them, but for private use, and neither M. nor I would ever give our consent to see them thus handled." Mahatma Letter No. 63But one should read the whole letter from which I have quoted in order to see the context in which those words were made. But this K.H. quotation should ALSO be viewed in light of another letter from the Mahatma K.H. which throws additional light on the issue of publishing the letters from the Masters. In the summer of 1884, Mohini Chatterji and Laura C. Holloway were writing a book on Theosophy entitled "Man: Fragments of Forgotten History." Both Mohini and Laura were chelas of K.H. In a letter addressed to Mohini, Master K.H. wrote:"You may, if you choose so, or find necessity for it, use in Man [the above titled book] or in any other book you may chance to be collaborating for, anything I may have said in relation to our secret doctrines in any of my letters to Messrs. Hume or Sinnett. Those portions that were private have never been allowed by them to be copied by anyone; and those which are so copied have by the very fact become theosophical property. Besides, copies of my letters at any rate those that contained my teachings have always been sent by my order to Damodar and Upasika [H.P.B.], and some of the portions even used in 'The Theosophist.' You are at liberty to even copy them verbatim and without quotation marks. ... Thus not only you, a chela of mine, but anyone else is at liberty to take anything, whole pages, if thought proper, from any of my "copied" letters and convert their 'dross' into pure ore of gold, provided they have well grasped the thought. Show this to L.C.H. who was already told the same." Letter 39 in "Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom," First Series.It should also be pointed out that a great deal of the teaching letters from K.H. and M. were quoted in the following books published in the 1880s and 1890s: "The Occult World" by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1881) "Esoteric Buddhism" by A.P. Sinnett. (First edition published 1883) "The Occult World" by A.P.S. See 4th English edition, 1884, Appendix, pp. 145-149 for an additional KH letter. "Man: Fragments of Forgotten History" by Two Chelas [Chatterji and Holloway) (First edition, published 1885) "The Secret Doctrine" by H.P. Blavatsky. (First published 1888). See especially Vol. I where H.P.B. quotes from several of KH's letters to Sinnett. In additional to the above books, excerpts from the Masters' letters were published in various articles in "The Theosophist" (1881- 1883). Also W.J. Judge published lengthy extracts from K.H.'s letters to Sinnett dealing with Kamaloka and Devachan. See "The Path," August, 1889, Nov., 1889, May, 1890 and June, 1890. These articles have been reprinted by The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, in their compilation "Theosophical Articles and Notes," 1985, pp. 236-247. H.P.B. also quoted extracts from KH's Letters to Sinnett in the pages of "Lucifer." Judge published the Prayag Letter [also contained in "The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett"] in "The Path" in the early 1890s.And there are more . . . . It would be an interesting exercise to take a copy of "The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett" and underline in red all the passages that have been published in the above sources. Directing attention back to KH's letter to Mohini in which mention is made of the "copied letters" which have "become theosophical property", Francesca Arundale, an early Theosophist, had "three manuscript books" of "these early teachings" from the Masters. Evidence indicates that Sinnett copied these "teachings" from the letters of the Masters and sent them to London for the benefit of Arundale and other students of Theosophy. These "teaching letters" as found in Arundale"s manuscript books were eventually published by C. Jinarajadasa in 1923 under the title "The Early Teachings of the Masters 1881 to 1883." This book by Jinarajadasa was published some months before A. Trevor Barker published the complete collection of letters from the Masters K.H. and M. in London in Dec. 1923. In the light of the above historical facts, would ULT students be willing to study "The Early Teachings of the Masters"? Would the United Lodge of Theosophists be willing to publicly circulate this volume by Jinarajadasa or a similarly compiled work? Remember what Master K.H. wrote in the summer of 1884. Now another issue. Many ULT associates privately read and study "The Mahatma Letters." But if we are to take literally and at face value the Master K.H.'s prohibition on the publishing of the letters in their entirety, then once any ULT student reads this prohibition, would not reason and logic dictate that he should close the book and never pick The Mahatma Letters up again? As H.N. Stokes wrote:"If 'The Mahatma Letters' are private documents today, no one without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others."One final thought. I have noticed that one prominent ULT writer, Dallas TenBroeck, quotes a great deal from "The Mahatma Letters" in his postings on various Internet Theosophical discussion groups. It would appear that Dallas TenBroeck does not take the following words from KH's letter as a prohibition not to read and quote from the letters:"The letters, in short, were not written for publication or public comment upon them, but for private use, and neither M. nor I would ever give our consent to see them thus handled." Mahatma Letter No. 63For more on the Mahatma Letters, see:
The Mahatmas & Their Letters: Online & Printed Sources