Following the 1997 controversial article 'The Theosophical Society and its Future', Geoffrey Farthing returned to issues regarding the neo-theosophical material primarily 'promoted' by the Adyar organisation. This proved to be even more controversial as evinced by the correspondence below, that follows the proposal. Although the Association that Geoffrey suggested did form, it did not continue after Geoffrey's death in 2004.
link to original HCT article (opens new window)
The May 2000 edition of High Country Theosophist introduced Geoffrey Farthing's suggestion that an Association of Master Theosophists be formed, with the following comments;
Loyalty to Adyar: What does it mean?
The following letter was received from Geoffrey Farthing, recently. We have been highly enthusiastic with his previous offerings, but find we have serious reservations to some of the proposals advanced in his letter. For these reasons we didn’t feel it appropriate to print his letter, and our reply. When, however we found these issues the subject of an editorial appearing in Fohat, we decided to print brother Farthings letter, our reply and the Fohat editorial and open the topic to readers’ opinion in the HCT. [Fohat was a publication of the Edmonton Theosophical Society, Canada, that ran between the Spring of 1997 and the Winter of 2008.]
Brother Farthing’s letter, our response, and the Fohat editorial (reprinted with permission) follow.
Master/H.P.B. Association of Theosophists
This letter aims to form a loose association of people interested in the Master/H.P.B. theosophical literature. My idea is to form an association of genuine and enthusiastic students of first generation classical literature, i.e., by the Masters, H.P.B. and Judge, together with any subsequent writings that may be consonant with it. Until a yardstick of real knowledge of the Masters’ Theosophy has been established, students are warned to be careful what they accept as Theosophy from other writers, however authentic it may seem. Many of the Eastern religious teachings, for example, are consonant but do not go into the areas of Occultism dealt with by the Masters.
The association could be for groups but essentially it must be for individuals. As said, these should be genuine students, not people who just think they ought to be or whose study of the literature is desultory or spasmodic. Members of the association should at least know each others’ addresses. I propose compiling a list. It is likely that you will know such students, and I would like to contact them with a view to bringing them into the fold if they are interested. It seems there are people “out there” working faithfully on their own, and in need of friendly support. This association could provide that. Please send me postal and e-mail addresses of anyone genuinely interested.
The envisaged association will have no administrative centre of its own. The idea is that members should know one another and share communications. I feel it important that all member students should feel a loyalty to the Adyar Theosophical Society as the one, and only one, originally set up by the Masters through H.P.B., Olcott and Judge. There were certain specific intentions for it which in my view have not yet been fulfilled. I would make the point that the whole theosophical movement has been weakened by fragmentation. This fragmentation, no matter what reasons or excuses are made for it, has not been the result of real ‘doctrinal’ differences. There cannot be any differences at the higher mind (impersonal) level. Doctrinal here of course refers to the teachings as originally given us. There cannot be differing opinions regarding these teachings.
The credibility of Theosophy has also been weakened by the people, some of them very gifted, who have talked in the name of and presumed to write on what they thought was Theosophy without’ having studied the original literature in depth and persevered with it. This emphasis on the original teachings does not in any way detract from what we are pleased to call freedom of thought, nor does it mean that those who may be inclined to join this association are not free to read or study anything they like. In my view the idea of freedom of thought has been abused to justify a multitude of personal views. Some of them perhaps may be psychically based, but in fact they are at variance, in some cases seriously, with the original teachings. This has led to considerable confusion throughout the theosophical movement as to what Theosophy really is. It is not my purpose in this letter to attempt any definitions. I am making a plea for Unity in the matter of serious theosophical study. I am also suggesting that, if those people who left the original Society for whatever reason had stayed in it, the Society would have been infinitely stronger and effective in its intended purposes. Further, as a democratic body its general character would have been different by reason of their influence. A loyalty to the Adyar Society is, - by way of its freedoms of study and personal practices, e.g. meditation, compatible with a loyalty to any other theosophical organization which does not impose restrictions to the contrary.
After fifty years of fairly intense study I have come to the conclusion that that original outpouring of occult knowledge from the Masters, to the extent that they then gave it out, was a unique world event. It has not been properly appreciated as such. Please lets have your views.
All the best for this Millennium Year, Yours very sincerely,
The article, which was originally printed by Fohat magazine, was published alongside the following editorial:
Editorial From Fohat, Spring 2000
Theosophy and The Theosophical Society: Where Lies the Spirit?
One thing is certain; with the exception of Colonel Olcott everyone seemed to banish the Masters from their thoughts and Their spirit from Adyar. Every imaginable incongruity was connected with these holy names, and I alone was held responsible for every disagreeable event that took place, every mistake made. In a letter received from Damodar in 1886, he notified me that the Masters’ influence was becoming with every day weaker at Adyar; that They were daily represented as less than “second-rate Yogis,” totally denied by some, while even those who believed in, and had remained loyal to them, feared even to pronounce Their names. - H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings Vol. XII, p.163.
Geoffrey Farthing has recently circulated a letter that he titled “Master/H.P.B. Association of Theosophists.” The letter is an invitation for those who believe that the original teachings, as embodied in the works of Blavatsky, the Mahatmas and Judge as well as later writers consonant with this body of work, have not been studied and adequately understood by students. There is also the belief that because this body of work has not been studied and understood, later writers have come along and presented ideas that may not be consonant with the original teachings, and these writers have been lumped under an ever-broadening umbrella of theosophical literature. This then presents a problem as new students become confused with different terminologies and irreconcilable doctrines.
Dr. C. A. Bartzokas presents this problem admirably in a recent issue of The High Country Theosophist. Dr. Bartzokas had been a student of Theosophy for some years and quite frustrated at the seemingly different doctrines before he was pulled aside and told that the doctrines may not only seem different but in fact be different and that he should make a choice as to which set to follow.
This then is a problem and it could very well be that those writings not included in the set of original teachings may in the end not even be consonant with the objects of the society. Consequently, the Theosophical Society may have, in misguided respect to the idea of freedom of thought, accepted teachings that are not harmonious with its objects, especially its first object.
Geoffrey Farthing first and foremost seems to want to bring together an association of serious students capable of studying and understanding the literature so that the integrity of the Theosophical Society can be protected.
In addition to a focus on the original teachings, Geoffrey Farthing also wants this group to acknowledge “a loyalty to the Adyar Theosophical Society as the one, and only one, originally set up by the Masters through H.P.B., Olcott and Judge.” He feels that “[t]here were certain specific intentions for it which . . . have not yet been fulfilled.”
It would seem fair to say that the full potential of the Theosophical Society as imparted by the Mahatmas has not been fulfilled, however, that potential, its spirit, would seem more likely to be found in the hearts and minds of earnest theosophists than in the dead or dying body of an institution that has lost its way.
If Geoffrey insists on such a loyalty, he may find that for no good reason he will end up denying entrance to this association of some of the most capable and resolute theosophical students in the world today.
A Society is a body and like any body it is born, grows, gets old, and dies. It may be that the Theosophical Society in Britain has been powerful enough to prosper under and despite the “so-called” parent society, but that has not been the experience of every Section. It may be that the British Section has experienced a democratic relationship with Adyar, but that is not the experience of every Section.
The Canadian Section was unceremoniously excommunicated from Adyar for what seems to be the politically expedient resolve of a few members at the top of the Adyar hierarchy of power. This was done with proxies entrusted to a few and no apparent consultation with the members who entrusted the few with these proxies - so much for democratic bodies.
If the Adyar Society is not dead, it is certainly the experience of some to be without theosophical spirit. It would seem that Geoffrey’s seed would grow much better in the hearts of committed students who did not have to work with the albatross of Adyar hanging about their necks. A seed planted in the soil of pure Theosophy could lead to unexpected bounties.
Just about every Theosophical Society in existence today can trace itself back to Blavatsky, Judge, and Olcott as these different Societies were simply a branch of a split in the Society. It is very probably the case that students filled with the Spirit of Theosophy can be found in all of these branches.
One of these branches or sub-branches may even have managed to hold on to that original spark that was generated by the Mahatmas. By limiting the membership of this Association, this spark may be refused admittance.
It is admirable to have respect and love for one’s mother, but the corpse that is decaying in the ground does not hold the soul of one’s mother and in order to honour her it might be better to look for her spirit in the living, in those whom she affected and shaped when she was at the height of her power. There came a time when Colonel Olcott had to choose between protecting the Society or protecting the reputation of Blavatsky. He chose to protect the name of the Society and some say that he chose wrong. What is a Society dedicated to Brotherhood if it does not protect the name of its representatives when slandered before the public? Olcott would have done much more to strengthen the Society had he chosen to protect Blavatsky’s honour and good name for then the Society would be seen to be living what it preaches. Instead he chose to endow the Society with the Spirit of political expediency and it may be that the Society has stayed true to that Spirit ever since. However, not all of its members have.
If Theosophists committed to the Spirt of Theosophy can be gathered together into a working force studying the original teachings, unexpected benefits could arise from this. One could envision in time a new Society forming, especially if this loose Association manages to get the Brotherhood Object right this time.
A Society capable of drawing members from all of the existing Societies would be an exciting and powerful force capable of fulfilling some of that potential imparted to the original Society founded in America. Certainly, the world is so dark at this time that a Society dedicated to Truth and Brotherhood would be like a blazing beacon in the wilderness. People would have to sit up and take notice. That they do not do so now is indicative of the states of the various organizations calling themselves Theosophical. Theosophy is the relationship between a body of people dedicated to Truth and to three objects, it is not a body of those holding membership in a certain club.
This is exactly where we got it wrong the first time; if we are not careful, we may get it wrong a second time. There may not be a third time. Geoffrey Farthing is right; those dedicated to the original program have to align themselves more formally with one another. An attempt must be made to rekindle the flame while the spirit still lives in the heart of some of us. The world is badly in need of an example of a nucleus of a Brotherhood of Humanity. This was true at the end of the nineteenth century and it is still true today at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Great movements always fall on the shoulders of a few; perhaps there are a few among us ready to take up the challenge.
The response of the Editor of High Country Theosophist (HCT) to Geoffrey Farthing (as published in HCT May 2000) is as follows:
I must apologize for my delay in replying to your letter of 24 February 2000. The reason for my delay is that there are points in your letter that I am having difficulty with. I will address these points in serial order.
1. It is O.K. individually for one to take notice of instances in which the original teachings are ignored, but for a group to do so borders on establishing a dogma.
2. I, personally have a problem with a “loyalty to the Adyar Society.” Witness the fact that the Adyar Society under Radha Burnier excommunicated the entire Canadian Section a few years ago. See September 1992 H.C.T. In addition, I am aware that H.P.B stressed loyalty to the movement rather than the organization [see Endnote 1]. W.Q. Judge has made similar observations with regard to organizations as such.
3. As a matter of history, we have examples of Theosophists who tried to remain within the Adyar Organization and work within it. B.P. Wadia made an attempt to work within the Adyar Organization and found his efforts were frustrated and finally had to leave. With these concerns in mind it is my opinion that much of the effective work is being done by dedicated individuals outside of the organizational structures. Examples of these workers would be David Reigle, Michael Gomes, Robert Hutwohl among others.
In view of the above, I am uncomfortable with forming a recognizable structure of association. In closing, to identify one group of individuals as genuine and dedicated Theosophists would necessarily exclude other equally dedicated workers and cast them in a unfavourable light.
Very Sincerely, Dick Slusser (Editor, High Country Theosophist)
End Note 1 (Dick Slusser's - is a quotation from H.P. Blavatsky)
... It is pure nonsense to say that “H.P.B. . . . is loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar” (!?). H.P.B. is loyal to death to the Theosophical CAUSE, and those great Teachers whose philosophy can alone bind the whole Humanity into one Brotherhood. the degree of her sympathies with the "Theosophical Society and Adyar" depends upon the degree of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B. calling the T.S. disloyal, will shake it off like dust from her feet.
And what does "loyalty to Adyar" mean, in the name of all wonders? What is Adyar, apart from that CAUSE and the trio (not one Founder, if you please) who represent it? Why not loyal to the compound or the bathroom of Adyar?
H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings Vol. XI, pp. 380-81
link to June 2000 HCT issue Vol 15. No. 6 (opens new window)
Last month we printed an article “Loyalty to Adyar: What does it mean? -- an editorial examination of the proposals put forward by Geoffrey Farthing for an association of “genuine and enthusiastic students of classical theosophical literature.”
Primary among my concerns were:
(1) The danger of establishing a dogma of “approved” literature,
(2) My problem with the political policies of Adyar leadership resulting in the expulsion/excommunication of at least four national sections.
Because of the importance of these issues thus raised, I felt it imperative to solicit the wisdom of the HCT readership and open the questions for commentary and debate.
Dick Slusser (Editor, High Country Theosophist)
An HCT subscriber writes: It is an interesting controversy in the latest HCT. I am referring to Geoffrey Farthing in regard to “Loyalty to Adyar". As for the T.S., H.P.B. stated: “Theosophy has aimed at uniting all broad religious people for research into the actual basis of religion and scientific proofs of the existence and permanence of the Higher Self.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, Vol XII, page 296) This necessarily includes all paths that are expressive of the unity of all that is being the Higher Self, not just the Brotherhood of Humanity. All doctrines, all thoughts, that serve the Higher Self and Conscious Unity whether individual or collective are Theosophy, therefore is Theosophy the only pathway along which Truth can be found?
The more we study with an open mind the better we can answer the above question.
Stay well and keep on the drive.
Another subscriber writes:
How could Adyar excommunicate those who seek the truth; there are those who study differently from others, have different thoughts, paths and etc. No one should be pressured into Loyalty to any one “house,” or have one set doctrine. Of course, we need to keep Theosophy pure and not become a dogmatic organization. At best let the selfish ones run their politics; that is not for us. I respect Mr. G.A. Farthing as well as all other Theosophists and students, but understand your noble plea for Unity. Theosophy is not weakened nor is there a loss of credibility in the heart. I am a student who respects all those working to enlighten those who seek the greater light, no matter what house or place. If it would ease the readers mind they may have my name and address, just ask the editor of the H.C.T.; I am open to all.
Dara Eklund writes:
Geoffrey’s appeal did surprise us a little and I have to agree with your response. There are good students of basic Theosophy in all groups. That is why we have no qualms about being a member-at-large in more than one group. We support true Theosophists whether independent or in a membership; the association being of the heart.
Best to you both, Dara
Ramon Sordo writes from Tepoztlan, Mexico:
... Your H.C.T. is an excellent forum, where the students that write and the articles you choose to print are very diverse, showing almost the same tendency that was already present in H.P.B.’s time.
On the one hand you have students following the best they can the original lines laid down by the Masters and H.P.B for the Theosophical Movement and on the other hand there are those who have fallen into a pseudo-theosophic side track. There are yet others trying to make sense out of the contradicting teachings.
We have been in communication with Geoffrey Farthing since 1994, later on with Chris Bartzokas and at the beginning of 1999 with Richard Robb and a brief exchange of publications and a letter with Mrs. Joan Sutcliffe from Ontario.
For us it has been very rewarding the exchange of ideas, know knowledge and information about their activities with the above students. Geoffrey Farthing has been a great inspiration for us, even if he gave me more work to do, translating some of his books and articles into Spanish like Deity, Cosmos and Man; The Manifesto; Etheric Double; Theosophy The Wisdom Religion.
To give you an idea of our background, I send you two photocopies of part of two letters I sent to Richard Robb last year. Our study group on The Secret Doctrine became a few years later, a Blavatsky Lodge in Mexico City, chartered from Adyar. Although we had an influence upon certain individuals and lodges which started to discover and study the original Theosophy H.P.B\Masters, over the last years; the organization as such still remains the same permeated as it is by the policies and views established more than eighty years ago by A.B. and C.W.L.. These policies are implemented at present by the E.S. and the Inter-American Theosophical Federation, with its headquarters at Brasilia leadership of a Cuban Liberal Catholic Priest. As you cannot put “new wine in old bottles” and we needed freedom and space to breathe, we created in Cuernavaca two Blavatsky Foundations, in Spanish: La Fundacion Blavatsky: Fraternidzd Teosofica. A..C., according to the Original program of the T.S. and its three objects, as stated by H.P.B. in The Key To Theosophy page 39.
Having a terrible vacuum in the Hispanic World concerning the original literature and not having any institution in charge of its preservation, one of the specific objects of the foundation is: To translate and transmit with fidelity the writings of H.P.B. and the Mahatma Letters which together form the main nucleus of the original Theosophical teachings, including the works of other authors closely related to the Esoteric Tradition of H.P.B\Masters, like W.Q. Judge, Damodar and some of the S.D. references books.
Each lodge is autonomous linked to the federation by the adherence to the Original Program. We have no fees for membership. Each one gives according to its will second means, is either in time, work or money. Each lodge should establish a library with the main original Theosophical literature in English and as much as possible in Spanish. For the moment the only library is in my house here in Tepoztlan where some of our members come from time to time. Concerning your request to print my letters to Richard Robb and yourself, you have my permission ... . In connection to pseudotheosophy I enclose for you a copy of a letter I had written to Geoffrey Farthing in December of 1995. If some day in the future you see it fit to print it in your H.C.T., you have my permission. I enclose two copies of Deity Cosmos and Man in Spanish for your H.C.T. library.
My very best regards
A. Ramon Sordo
link to July 2000 HCT issue Vol 15. No. 7 (opens new window)
Geoffrey Farthing writes regarding his proposals
Association of Master/H. P. B. Theosophists
In a letter dated 24"’ February I made the suggestion that there should be a loose Association of all people within the theosophical movement who were keen and dedicated students of the original theosophical literature, i.e. that given us by the Masters through H.P.B. and in their own writings. I have had some replies, some enthusiastic, some with reservations.
My letter made reference to a loyalty to the Adyar Society but in some quarters strong exception was taken to this. I now modify my view and feel that the Association should be for students of the original teachings quite irrespective of any theosophical organization they may belong to. I did deplore the fact that the Theosophical movement had for one reason or another been fragmented and that this had created a division of loyalties within the movement. The Association, it is hoped, will override all these differences and provide a base for a single common interest and loyalty, i.e., the theosophical message as originally given us.
I regard the outpouring of Theosophy at the end of the last century as a world event. It was obvious that it could have affected many thinking people in the fields of science, philosophy and religion, had what was given out been fully appreciated. As a result of H.P.B.’s stupendous literary efforts we have those teachings, as far as they were given out, intact now.
There is also little doubt that at the outset a theosophical society was envisaged. Most of us know the story from the Society’s founding in New York and that that Society was never officially wound up. Whereas, however, Judge remained in America, Olcott and Blavatsky went to India where they set up in Bombay the Theosophical Society which later transferred its headquarters to Adyar. Olcott remained there as President up to 1907. H.P.B. left India in 1886 never to return. From that moment it is on record that the influence of the Masters at Adyar declined until we have it in their own words, “and we have let it go”. Later, soon after H.P.B.’s death, Judge left the Society and continued to disseminate Theosophy in America to very good effect.
Nevertheless, in The Key to Theosophy written in 1888 there are sundry references to the Theosophical Society. An important one reads as follows:
... Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love and wisdom, reflecting its radiance on the earth, while the Theosophical Society is only a visible bubble on that reflection. Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible, and its Society human nature trying to ascend to its divine parent. Theosophy, finally, is the fixed eternal sun and its Society the evanescent comet trying to settle in an orbit to become a planet, ever revolving within the attraction of the sun of truth. It was formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its Eternal Verities. [Key, Or. Ed., p 57]
In a place in the Countess Wachtmeister’s memoirs, H.P.B. is reported as having said that she had given her heart’s blood to the Society. In another place in the Maha Chohan’s letter (1881) it is said that “The Theosophical Society was chosen as the corner stone, the foundation of the future religions of humanity. In other places H.P.B. referred to it as persisting only if its members remained true “to its original programme”. Some of this original programme is encapsulated in its objects which went through some changes even before H.P.B. died, but essentially remain the same.
Significantly we have H.P.B.’s three letters to the American Convention and her very important supplement to the S.D. in the form of the Instructions to her Inner Group which operated until her death. Interestingly all the members of that group had to be members of the Theosophical Society.
It is to that Society which now remains only as a dream, a memory, an ideal, that I owe a loyalty. I was asking would-be members of the Association also to give it their loyalty. As this idea was so nebulous and impractical and raises the question of what happened to it in numbers of ways so soon after H.P.B.’s death, I completely withdraw this suggestion. Let us have an Association of earnest students and let that be the sole consideration. Such an association of students could in time become a kind of substitute Society and with their common interest in original Theosophy they might survive as a unified body and fulfil the tasks intended for the original Society.
Two dangers immediately become apparent: one is that of the teachings becoming dogma, and the other opinionated interpretations of those teachings. As far as dogmatism is concerned there is the saying that “the letter killeth”. In the case of opinions these cannot be countered by other opinions. This merely leads to argument and dissension. To combat dogmatism all aspirants would need to hold their views very lightly, realizing their limitations and honestly admitting some fundamental ignorance. The adage, “Thus have I heard” should be the attitude of those who put themselves forth as conveyers of information. Few I imagine would presume to assume the position of Teacher.
The kind of ‘loose’ Association I envisage would be one whereby a central register of members with their particulars would be kept and sent out to all members. Communication between them would then be on the basis of knowing what the others did and had done. This would make the ‘organization’ world-wide. There would in fact be no other organization than this central clearing-house of particulars which function I would be pleased to perform while I can. There would be no officers, no fees, no expenses, no establishment but there could well be projects put forward for the dissemination of Theosophy in which all members could participate if they were felt to be worthy and practical. Some enterprises might need money. If this was found necessary it likely that the Association, by way of its members, could find the finance. The responsibility for the execution of projects would lie with the person who proposed them. It is suggested that there should not be any publications. There is a wealth of literature and articles already available which could be classified and catalogued and that information made available to members.
The principal language has to be English but amongst the members there will be students able and willing to supply translations of all significant material. This will be particularly valuable for Internet purposes. Members of the Association could hopefully subscribe to the view that their sole guide in theosophical matters should be the classical literature. Since that was written, however, much other material has been produced, some with considerable claims to be authentic. The one sure guide amongst this later writing must be that of H. P. B., the Masters and Judge, who was known to be a direct accepted chela of one of the Masters for many years. This does not apply to the other authors.
Nothing of what is said here is meant to imply that later writings by way of commentary, supplementary information, etc., are valueless. The problem is to establish their proper value, however authentic they may seem. The question of the difficulty of understanding the original literature is often raised. The contention here is that the envisaged members of the Association are not beginners; they must have the mental capacity and have spent the time necessary to appreciate the value and meaning of the teachings. That literature was given out just the way it was in full knowledge of its likely readership. Those who cannot immediately understand it can at least grow in comprehension and faculty until they can. The Masters knew what they were doing. If you are in favour of the suggestions made above, and have not already done so, please complete the enclosed form with your personal details, addresses, accomplishments, publications and present activities, and perhaps you could let me have the names and addresses of anyone not on the enclosed list of addresses who you feel might qualify as, or be interested to become, a member.
My very kind regards to you,
G A Farthing
Richard Robb writes:
ref: HCT, Vol. 15, #5, May, 2000: Geoffrey Farthings’ Letter.
In 1961 I joined the American Branch of the TS Adyar, and heard a lecture by Henry Smith in New Orleans. I perceived a basic honesty in his demeanour, and a few years later was surprised to find he was forced from office. Allegations against him date from his desire to abolish the Adyar Society. I knew then that he was an honest man. The Adyar ‘Esoteric Section’ had become a political entity, whose interference in the outward affairs of the Society had a Jesuitical character. A succinct chronology is shown in the Dudley Bar article in the Canadian Theosophist, Vol. 47, #3, of July-August, 1966. After being disbanded, it was re-established with a completely new format, and was the Esoteric Section in name only. Therein lies one of the causes of the deviation of the Adyar Society from Theosophy.
The other being the lack of good W.Q. Judge-ment. I can understand Mr Farthings desire to reform Adyar. But it will take a strong entity with the linguistic abilities of John Coates to do it. Coates spoke French, German, and Spanish, and while international president, spoke directly to all the branches. But he was also a Liberal Catholic, and disinclined to change the status quo. Today’s president is, unfortunately, not a theosophist, but an administrator.
The idea, is more important than the organization. We now have a Theosophical Movement, and countless individuals unaffiliated with any organizations. It is not very likely that T.U.P. and U.L.T. would join with Adyar given the disparity in thinking. If Adyar ever shapes up, perhaps... in a few generations... if we started now. An excellent example of what Mr Farthing suggests by way of co-operation, occurred when Point Loma was split by James Long’s administration. The “excommunicated” simply banded together without any formal status, and maintained a lively theosophical interaction, which continued to spread theosophy. Elsie Benjamin’s Corresponding Fellows Lodge Bulletin, issued from 1946 to 1981 was one result. The Eclectic Theosophist was another. If the motive and discretion is present, the organization is superfluous. There are many who have started discussion groups on their own, based on the literature. One cannot wonder if, all these splits result in a wider exposition of theosophy.
in the same issue, the following;from Carlos Cardoso Aveline
I hope you’re in peace. It’s a pleasure to write to you. I’d like to submit you a few ideas and questions.
The creation of the Master/H.P.B. Association seems to take place in an interesting moment from the occult viewpoint: right at the end of a century and at the threshold of a new millennium. Besides, the Association proposed by Geoffrey Farthing means not only an opportunity for dialogue, but for practical action.
The theosophical movement was originally conceived as an action-oriented group of organizations. After 125 years, it still owes its vitality (whether we consider it great or small) to the action of its members, organized in different countries, languages and manners. The future of our Association also depends largely on the work we actually do. I write you to say I’d like to hear from you and exchange views on our common - immense - potential for action.
Possibly all of us feel, think and have an intuition that the occult life of the theosophical movement - and hence its outer life, too - depends largely on a correct understanding of the teaching given in the period 1875-1891, with the help of H.P.B., and on the ability to “act accordingly”. If that is so, our Association may help to accelerate and deepen the historical process of “rediscovering” the importance and content of the teaching produced by the Mahatmas. A process only in partly accomplished by now.
1) Can we, then, try to determine with some clarity which is our goal as an Association?
2) Can all (or some) of us associate freely and create objectively new facts?
3) Can the Association become a forum for debating significant issues relative to the past, present and future of the theosophical movement, in a way so as to create more light than heat, and to stimulate a calm search for truth, with mutual respect and understanding of differences?
4) Can issues dealing with the mistakes of the “second version” of the teaching (from, let’s say, the year 1900) be treated openly and respectfully, as HPB and the Mahatmas did with controversial matters - especially in the pages of The Theosophist, when H.P.B. was its editor?
5) What could be our first steps?
6) The dialogue itself, I believe, is more important than our conclusions. The questioning after truth is eternal; the answers, eternally temporary.
I’d like you to write offering answers to the questions above, making commentaries, raising other questions or suggesting guidelines. It would be nice to try and help circulation of ideas, as well as to support initiatives from members of our Association. Looking forward to hearing from you,
Carlos Cardoso Aveline,
HCT Editors reply
1. We cannot at this time form an idea of the goals of the association but, however, we have a fairly clear idea of our role as the voice of the HCT as we envision it. It seems clear that the service of the HCT to the association falls under number one of our editorial objectives: “To serve the greater Theosophical Movement as a forum for the free interchange of ideas and commentary in the pursuit of Truth and to facilitate various projects in furtherance of Theosophical principles.” We are aware that not all of our subscribers, many of them dedicated workers in various phases of the movement, have the technological advantage of personal computers and for some the HCT forms the only access to news of events in the movement. Because of this the HCT serves as a vital communication link. Accordingly, our pages are open to communications relating to the Master/HCT Association and to those having a vital interest in its work.
2. We know of individuals, David Reigle for example, who are doing work which has the potential of establishing new facts which will, “arrest the attention of the highest minds.” We know of others, Daniel Caldwell and Michael Gomes for example, whose work is establishing facts which fill in the history of the movement.
3. A primary ethical objective of the HCT, as an independent journal is to print all sides of a controversy without narrow sectarian bias. Our minimum editorial responsibility is to serve as an unbiased moderator. We hope that in providing this forum that we can help the association achieve its goals.
4. We make a distinction between issues which were labelled by the Masters\HPB as mistakes i.e. The Mars and Mercury Controversy from what we choose to call “alleged” divergences i.e. The Alice Bailey Teachings. One area of the Alice Bailey teachings is that of the seven rays as determinants of human personality traits, a topic not covered to any meaningful extent by HPB and the Masters. Under this topic we would also include a need to address the issues surrounding the active pursuit of the third object including methods of Hatha Yoga and Meditation.
5. The HCT’s first step is inviting the dialog to begin.
In 2002, HCT printed the following letter from Geoffrey
link to May-June 2002 HCT issue Vol 17. No. 3 (opens new window)
Memorandum to Master\HPB Associates
by Geoffrey Farthing
Our numbers very slowly increase.
It was understood by all of us at the inception of this Association that it was not intended to be another theosophical organisation. We have too many of those already. The idea was to let it be known to each other that there were dedicated H.P.B. students still active and to put them in touch with one another. These Associates can be members of any theosophical organisation or none as they see fit. In spite of our loose, liberal and indefinite constitution some significantly beneficial effects might accrue to the theosophical cause and the world in general from the Association or rather its individual members.
We can encourage each other with our thoughts. During the year a number of stimulating contributions have appeared on the Internet. I would guess, however, that each of us has realised that such activity as there has been is within a closed shop, in house or domestic. Very largely we are talking to each other. There may be others, however, outside who are already interested or becoming so, maybe noticing what is appearing on the Net. If this is the case it is very important and we must be careful what we put onto it. Quality and brevity should be our watchwords.
The great need in the world today is for Theosophy to become known. There are various aspects of it included generically in the term Theosophy. The principal one, which in doubt we all agree on, is brotherhood. Something has to be done to make the peoples of the world realise that, whatever their differences of caste, creed, sex or colour may be, they are still in the final analysis human beings. As such they share common emotions, common items of self interest, a common desire for affection and recognition, a feeling of worth.
One of the tragedies of the lot of human kind at the moment is that so many are deprived, not only of physical possessions or even a home but of the opportunity to make any contribution towards their own well-being and even less to the well-being of humanity at large or even their own community. I am obviously talking here of the many thousands of refugees that for one reason or another have no proper resting place. They are all dispossessed and without any standing in the eyes of others and worse still, in their own. This undeserved inflicted misery is the very antithesis of brotherhood, whatever meaning is given to that word. Their troubles have resulted from revolutionary wars and religious strife. Even if it could be conveyed to them, no message of the good tidings of Theosophy would do any good, except to perhaps raise the hopes of a few who could appreciate it. Another main aspect of Theosophy, its philosophic/religious message, has to be brought to the attention of those self-styled leaders of society who for largely quite selfish reasons obtain power and then set groups of people against each other. In this self interest, whether it be for wealth or power or both, is the motive. The Karmic consequences must inevitably be dire indeed but those inflicting the suffering are totally oblivious to them. In the long run of course the Law will act as the redresser of all these wrongs but is there nothing we can do in the short term? Are we utterly without voice? Surely this is worth thinking about.
By and large I think we would all agree that the world is not yet significantly a better place for the advent of Theosophy. Generally Theosophy is not known about at all. It can have had little or no serious impact on the thinking of religious people, of politicians, of business tycoons or even of the ordinary man in the street. Even the very name is not known and certainly not what it stands for. We have significant aid organisations arising from the compassion and understanding of those who found them. This we might claim is Theosophy in action: the larger vision of Theosophy includes the masses of people, the orphan humanity referred to by the Masters. Even the rudiments of the theosophical teachings could alter behaviour and bring some relief. Here is an enormous challenge for all of us dedicated students. Somehow or another we have got to get the message across; to let is be known that such a thing as Theosophy exists and in terms as meaningful as possible, to tell the world what it is. This effort has to be addressed to those outside our movement. It must not be a repetition of what has already gone on for over a hundred years by way of stimulation within the already existing theosophical family. How do we do this? Can we do it?
It would seem that modern media, principally the Internet, could be one of the means, but there are other immediate ones. Lately there has been a large increase in the number of magazines on the market. Most of these are of ephemeral interest, having to do largely with celebrities and gossip, but there are a few that are, as it were, seriously minded. Some of our daily or weekly newspapers contain material for the more serious thinker, but do we have writers with the necessary skills to talk or write versions of Theosophy suitable for all? A reference to Theosophy with some indication as to what it is on the television or in plays would at least call attention to the fact that there is such a thing of immediate concern to us all. But how do we get references to Theosophy included in the programmes? Judging by the size of present-day bookshops there ought to be an opening for authors to write appealingly to the general public in terms which they will enjoy and appreciate but with a theosophical content. Have we got the authors? It is difficult to see how far theosophical books of even a light-weight textbook character could ever be publicised to make any impact, but books on such topics as the after-death states and psychic phenomena ought to be of some interest. How can we stimulate that?
A sign of the times is the fact that the universities are now including Theosophy in some form or another in their curricula, notably the Sorbonne with Astrology. I was sent a packet of information downloaded from the Internet some months ago as to what some universities both in the U.S. and Europe are doing. It is interesting to see that, even if it is only in a small way, some notice now is being taken of Theosophy.
One of the big factors which has helped, at last, to make Theosophy academically respectable is Vernon Harrison’s (Ph.D) magnificent vindication of H.P.B. against the charges of fraud levelled against her in the Hodgson report. Hodgson’s report was accepted by the Society for Psychical Research here in England over a hundred years ago, and has bedevilled H.P.B.’s reputation by its imputation of fraud ever since, to the point that respectable houses of learning would have nothing to do with her. It also made it too easy for members of religious communities who for quite other reasons did not like her message, not only to have nothing to do with her but to oppose her as strongly as possible. Prior to Harrison of course there was Victor Endersby and Carrithers but they did not have the same weight that Harrison had. He was himself a member of the S.P.R. and such was his standing that the Society took notice of what he had to say. His refutation of Hodgson’s charges has been adopted by the S.P.R. as the effective counter to them. Academia will surely take notice of this, but of course it will take time. It will take even longer for the press to take notice.
Some months ago the Blavatsky Trust, a small ‘theosophical’ charity registered in England, having acquired enough money to do so, approached the University of Wales at Lampeter to see if they would be interested in the Trusts financing a Research Fellowship in Theosophy.
At first the University was not primarily interested in Theosophy as such because they all felt that it was little more than a sect, but they were prepared to look at it against a background of the Western Esoteric Tradition. This tradition includes all the great philosophers and thinkers from Plato onwards (and even before). The University said that if we (the Trustees) would allow the Tradition to be the subject of research, Theosophy could be included with it. This was agreed. The conversations and correspondence that followed ensured that H.P.B.’s writings would be given proper attention.
I am happy to be able to report that a Research Fellow was appointed about a month ago and has already taken up his duties at the University. There he will be teaching ‘modules’ on the Western Tradition and Theosophy not only at Lampeter but at other Universities. The Fellow is Dr. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, an Oxford Scholar. What is of significance as far as we are concerned is that he is enthusiastic about H.P.B., having already made some contacts with the Theosophical Society here, borrowing books from its library for research purposes. He is concerned at the time with H.P.B. through the writing of a book about her which will be included in a series on the Western Esoteric Tradition being published by Berkeley University (North Atlantic Books). His term is for five years. Who knows what he can accomplish in that time? He has already written a number of books on the influence Esotericism in politics, particularly in Germany, as an influence on Hitler.
Another Blavatsky Trust activity has been to produce a video entitled audaciously “Religion for our Time,” featuring David Soul - of Starsky and Hutch fame. We think he has made a very telling performance. A lot of theosophical ideas have come to him completely fresh and new in the material he had to put over. It was quite different from what he had been accustomed to. He seems to have been `sold.’ Time will tell. Some Associates are producing high-class magazines. It would be interesting to know their outside circulation and whether there is any feedback from them. It is quite apparent that there is very much to be done and very few of us to do it. We have to keep trying.
Fraternally and very sincerely,
HCT’s response to this Letter:
We will continue to support this growing Association. It is our intention to help make the “teachings of Theosophy” better known, not so much that the word “Theosophy” be known but that the teachings be better understood. We acknowledge that the task that lies before us is to disseminate the teachings of Theosophy to all people who are ready to hear. We have the HCT placed on Internet, we send it free to correctional facilities, and we give free copies of the HCT to anyone interested at local events that we attend. We make free subscriptions available to all seekers whom the cost is a hardship.
It is our intention to focus on the ethical principles set forth in the early works of H.P.B., the Masters, Judge, and Purucker and to expand or restate the teachings in the contemporary terminology. We would like to see less re-prints of past articles and more discussion thereon. We encourage reader feedback.
Geoffrey Farthing states:
“By and large I think we would all agree that the world is not yet significantly a better place for the advent of Theosophy. Generally Theosophy is not known about at all.” We disagree. Perhaps, Boulder [Colorado, USA, home of HCT] is a mecca for spiritual influences, but it still remains that many Theosophical terms such as: Karma, Evolution, Reincarnation, Guru, and Mantra are in common usage in the news. An example comes from this article where the word mantra was used.
“Wheeler suspects that this quantum uncertainty, as it is more commonly known, is the key to understanding why anything exists at all, how something, the universe with its laws, can come from nothing. Or as he likes to put it in the phrase that he has adopted as his mantra: `How come the quantum? How come the existence.’” “Quantum Physics Visionary Inspiration To Many.” The Denver Post. Friday, March 15th. These terms may be incorrectly used but they are everyday words. It is just because of this that our job is important. It tells us that people are ready for the terms; they need to be educated.