Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

The Mahatmas and Their Instruments

[Part I]

Madame Blavatsky and the Masters -
Precipitated Letters and Their Recipients

By L. C. L.
[Laura C. Holloway]

[Reprinted from The Word (New York), May 1912, pp. 69-76.]

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Comparatively few of the thousands of Theosophists in the world have ever been the recipients of letters from Mahatmas, about which they all have heard so much and known so little. On the other hand, a few individuals have received these direct testimonials under certain extraordinary conditions, and have been permitted to write letters which, though they were never posted, were answered in part or at length.

One long letter well remembered because it was the outpouring of a turbulent and persistent young soul, was placed in a drawer of a desk in a London bedroom. A few moments later, the writer, who had not left her seat at the side of the desk nearest to the drawer, pulled the latter open and the letter was gone. How often would such a thing as that happen to anyone, anywhere? It did happen, and under these circumstances. Madame Blavatsky sat at that desk, and it was with her permission that the letter was put into that empty drawer "to go to Mahatma ----- if it could be delivered."

That was many years ago, and time and death have been powerful factors at work in the lives of those concerned since then. But the memory of the events of that morning, when the air of England was filled with the warmth of spring and laden with the perfume of flowers which grew in the beautiful gardens back of the mansion, is just as fresh as though it had happened today. And the atmosphere of peace and hospitality pervading that home, is recalled with a sense so real that its intensity is both painful and pleasurable.

There was no mystery or magic or complex purpose conceived with the circumstance; the only explanation that was given then and is repeated now, was the intensest desire, the determined purpose to know the Masters, if they could be reached through love. What mattered it that the laws governing the transmission of messages was not understood? What fear could be felt when affection alone inspired the writer and influenced the agent? Madame Blavatsky was the channel through whom all the Mahatma letters had come to those of the West, and she it was who knew the fate of the letter referred to. She must have been aware of the manner in which its answer was to come, and did come.

The next morning, while dressing in my room, I had a sudden sense of an electric signal; something unexpectedly shocked me, and I put down the hair brush I held in my hand and turned toward the door. No one had knocked, yet I was in a state of expectancy and felt that either I should see some one, or hear something. The bed was on the side of the room between the bureau and the door. I glanced at it or over it, in looking toward the door. Suddenly an impulse moved me to go to the side of the bed; I did so and for some reason, I cannot clearly explain, I lifted the small pillow which I had used, and under it lay a sealed envelope, addressed to me. The contents of the envelope surprised me not more than finding it where it was found. Had it been there all night? I do not know, but I think not. The maid had prepared the bed as usual at night and I had not changed the position of the pillow, so far as I could recall, but I did not think then, and I do not now, that I could have slept with the letter under my face without realizing its presence. Many persons who were about me at the time saw the letter and heard the statements made concerning it, and its predecessor. I was closely questioned concerning it by those who believed me and those who perhaps doubted my story, but no one ever thought as much about it as I did, or pondered its contents with more sincerity and perplexity. Of all who talked with me I recall that Mr. Stainton Moses, the noted editor of Light, the leading organ of the spiritualists in England, cheerily explained it to be the work of the spirits, and told me I was a real medium. He assured me that there was no other possible explanation of the matter, and this he earnestly believed.

I knew, however, that it was the work of a Great and Living Soul, who for some reason for so doing, had given me and others through me, this signal proof of his desire to help us in our effort to learn the spiritual side of nature, and to understand the laws governing it. Madame Blavatsky vouch-safed no explanations, merely corroborated my statements that I had a tremendous wish to hear from a Mahatma, and took the only method I know of to accomplish that purpose; saying also that I interrupted her while she was writing her weekly Russian newspaper article and told her the one wish of my life was to be recognized and in the one way I had selected. I remember how she gazed at me as though I had suddenly become demented; but I, undaunted, had said, "where shall I put it?" My letter was a bulky one in a square envelope and she laughed when I had taken it from my bag and placed it before her on the desk. A volley of reproaches would not have surprised me, but she sat quietly leaning back in her arm chair looking at me. Then I pulled open the small upper drawer on the side of the desk and said, "In here?"

"Yes," she said, "you may put it there and find it there when you come for it again." For answer I opened the drawer again instantly and the letter was gone. So great was my joy that I could not decide what to do, but I had been reading Edwin Arnold’s "Light of Asia" and was prompted to quote the couplet:

"Om Mani Padme Hum; the sunrise comes,
The dew drop slips into the shining sea."

Then courtesying low and swiftly to her, I left the room.

I was a child in my spiritual growth then and had the courage of ignorance. But then as now I loved the Masters - those Beings who had passed the race on its onward march and had achieved a knowledge of Nature so immensely extended that it seemed to us in our ignorance, as impossible. It was intuition that aided me to know these finished products of humanity, and because they represented my ideals I loved them. And, loving them, it seemed but natural that I should ask for aid, and offer to serve with their permission in the order and on the plane to which I belonged.

What amazed me then, however, and amazes me yet after this long lapse of time, is the confidence I felt in the certainty that my letter would be answered. There was not a doubt in my mind; and I was not surprised to find my letter gone from where I had put it not two minutes before. The feeling I had when I made the discovery was one of exhilaration, of soul satisfaction, and I went from that room into the beautiful gardens at the rear of the house in order to be alone. I was in a state of suppressed excitement, but it was not the common sort of excitement, and was not in the least related to a feeling of personal vanity or triumph. Even after the lapse of nearly twenty years, I feel again the spiritual exaltation; the overmastering sense of gratitude, and humility which possessed me. I walked among the roses and sweet-scented star jasmine blossoms; listened to the birds singing in the trees; watched the children at play in the walks - and steadied my nerves and quieted the beatings of my heart, with the holy joy that pervaded my being.

And the gratitude I felt far in excess of that created by the wonderful evidence given me of the existence of a power I did not understand and could not explain - was for the proof I had received of the genuineness of my own experiences:  the correctness of my own visions; the immortality and divinity of my own soul. Souls cannot be immortal without being a part of Divinity:  in that sense I felt my superior self that sunny June morning to be divine. I never was so happy in my life before; I may never expect to know a greater sense of joy.

In conversations with Madame Blavatsky regarding the transmission of this letter and of other manifestations I had witnessed, she made many interesting observations, some of which I transcribe from my note book for the benefit of the readers of THE WORD.

"Western people," she said, "are in their first phase of spiritual awakening, and want phenomena at every step."

Again she said:

"People expect too much from others in psychic matters. They demand to know about the Mahatmas and, when answered according to their understandings, they demand that I do just what they tell me by way of proof. When I refuse, they go away and abuse me. You know enough about the law of Karma to realize that I cannot interfere with it."

"I tell every one that it is possible for them to learn occult things; and how little or how big the results obtained will depend upon themselves, and what they have been in other lives. Because I know the Mahatmas and try to serve them, it does not follow that I can make others acquainted with them. It depends entirely upon thinking."

And then she quoted a paragraph from the Master’s letter which has been published by Mr. Sinnett, which is as follows:

"Everyone should try to break through that great Maya against which occult students, the world over, have always been warned by their teachers - the hankering after phenomena. Like the thirst for drink and opium, it grows with gratification. The spiritualists are drunk with it, they are thaumaturgic sots. If you cannot be happy without phenomena you will never learn out philosophy."

One day there came a Mahatma letter to one of our number who was a member of the London Lodge, in which the writer, after reminding her that the Mahatmas were not public scribes or clerks with time to be continually writing notes and answers to individual correspondents, said, as to Chelaship:

"Time enough to discuss the terms of chelaship when the aspirant has digested what has already been given out, and mastered his most palpable vices and weaknesses. This you show or say to all. The members of the ------- have such an opportunity as seldom comes to men. A movement calculated to benefit an English-speaking world is in their custody. If they do their whole duty, the progress of materialism, the increase of dangerous self-indulgence and the tendency towards spiritual suicide, can be checked. The theory of vicarious atonement has brought about its inevitable re-action: only the knowledge of Karma can offset it.

"The pendulum has swung from the extreme of blind faith towards the extreme of materialistic skepticism, and nothing can stop it save Theosophy. Is not this a thing worth working for, to save those nations from the doom their ignorance is preparing for them?

"Think you the truth has been shown to you for your sole advantage? That we have broken the silence of centuries for the profit of a handful of dreamers only. The converging lines of your Karma have drawn each and all of you into this Society as to a common focus that you may each help to work out the results of your interrupted beginnings in the last birth. None of you can be so blind as to suppose that this is your first dealing with Theosophy. You surely must realize that this would be the same as to say that effects come without causes. Know, then, that it depends now upon each of you whether you shall henceforth struggle alone after spiritual wisdom through this and the next incarnate life or in the company of your present associates, and greatly helped by the mutual sympathy and aspiration. Blessings to all deserving them."

This letter was signed "K. H.," as is the following one, selected from a collection addressed to me, by the same Great Teacher. As a sacred treasure I value it, and have preserved it with loving care until this time, when I am told to share my possessions with those "who love the Masters and their love of men." Let the reader bear in mind that it was written for the benefit of a very young, wholly inexperienced and very ignorant "chela," whose exceptional advantages she did not then realize or appreciate. It is as follows:

"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 your 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 (H. P. B.) in this connection. She is not a ‘chela’ . . . You cannot acquire psychic power until the causes of psychic debility are removed. 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.

" . . . 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 this you can do 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 towards 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 . . . . and . . . . and . . . . have been counselling you entirely without prompting from us. As for U., 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 at a hint through whatever agency it may be given. ‘Sermons may be preached even through stones . . . .’ Do not be too eager for ‘instructions.’ You will always get what you need as you shall deserve them, but no more than you deserve or are able to assimilate. . . .

"And now the battle is set in array; fight a good fight and may you win the day."

Another, and far too personal a letter to be quoted in print, contains the following valued statements.

"The fundamental principle of occultism is that every idle word is recorded as well as one full of earnest meaning."

"I can do nothing unless you help me by helping yourself. Try to realize that in occultism one can neither go back nor stop. An abyss opens behind every step taken forward. . . ."

One day there came to me from the Master, in a letter addressed to Madam Blavatsky, these messages:

"Tell ------ from Mahatma ----- that spiritual faculties demand instruction and regulation even more than our mental gifts, for intellect imbibes wrong far more easily than good. ----- ought to bear always in mind these lines of Tennyson:

"Self reverence - self knowledge - self control,
These three alone lead life to sovereign power."

But to remember at the same time the extreme danger of self will when it is not regulated by the three above mentioned qualities, especially in a question of spiritual development.

. . . . Let her obtain self-control over self-will and a too great sensibility, and she thus may become the most perfect as the strongest pillar of the Theosophist Society."

(To be continued)