623271900 Letter from Master KH to Annie Besant - Some Comments
- Jul 28, 2014The 1900 Letter from Master KH to Annie Besant - Some Comments
The letter received by Annie Besant from Master KH in 1900 is one of the most important. It provides a road map for the theosophical movement in the decades to come. Rarely we see it discussed or lectured in theosophical forums -- lodges, conventions etc.
The full letter is at: ----- <http://www.katinkahesselink.net/lastkh.htm>
Here are some important background information for the readers.
1. It was received nine years after HPB passed away and it is the only letter ever received after HPB passed away.
2. The letter was kept secret for several decades and was first published in 1937 by C Jinarajadasa. Even then, several parts of it were redacted. It was alleged that the redacted parts relate to the occult side of Besant. The implication was that the members need not know about them.
3. Eighty seven years after receipt of the letter, the unredacted letter was first published in 1987 in the Eclectic Theosophist, an independent theosophical publication.
4. Seven Presidents, including Radha Burnier kept the full letter secret from members. When the full letter was published, everyone were surprised to find the deleted portions dealt with very critical TS and ES organizational matters and had nothing to do with occult side of Besant as claimed by CJ.
5. Looking with hind sight, several issues covered in the letter has very serious implications for the TS and its future.
Let us consider various issues covered in the letter:
1. A psychic and a pranayamist who got confused by the vagaries of the members.
Members’ statements and actions, when they are erratic, unpredictable and not justified by common sense, will and does confuse anyone. This is especially so when the member is a long standing one and a leader. What was noticed in 1900 can be seen happening even today. All one needs is to look at the way all the GC members acted during the last election.
2. TS and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed.
The Adept saw what was going on in TS and the problems it is leading to. The recent Presidential election seem to point to behind the scenes strangle hold of a creed.
We are also reminded of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s comment that a creed would take control of TS and cause continuing problems. We are witnessing it today.
3. Tibetan proverb ‘credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy’.
A dictionary defines credulity as - willingness to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence; gullibility. This is happening even today.
4. Are we to be propitiated and made idols of?... We ask not for the worship of ourselves.
Dictionary defines propitiate as - win or regain the favor of (a god, spirit, or person) by doing something that pleases them.
Theo-sophia presented to the modern world is based on principles and not on persons. Historically most religions and spiritual movements centered around idols, or pictures or people - living or dead. TS was never intended to replicate what has been going on for centuries by replacing traditional idols or persons with that of the Adepts. Anthromorphization of the Masters by the leaders who followed HPB and HSO, was foreseen in this comment and thus the warning. But the trend continues to this day, unfortunately.
The above comment should be extended to the theosophical leaders as well. Many have seen an tendency in some members to eulogize theosophical leaders and some times one gets the feeling that the leaders seem to enjoy the limelight and self-importance. This destroys the self confidence of the followers and impedes their self transformation which is what is really needed.
5. The disciple should in no way be fettered.
Fetter is defined as - to restrict the freedom of.
In temporal world, there is the human tendency to fetter the pledged disciple because the power to do so is ever present.
Once the disciple knows the principles governing his spiritual and temporal life, he or she should be free to make his/her choices and face the consequences, good or bad. How else can a disciple grow? As the occult maxim says an Adept is self-made.
6. Beware of esoteric popery.
This is a very strong warning. Due to the airtight- commitment that a student of the esoteric schools have to make to it’s leader, the leader can and many times do have enormous power over the disciple.
According to dictionaries, popery was also used to label other characteristics, such as arbitrary rule, radical motives. This taken together with the comment that the disciple should in no way be fettered, seem to indicate the Adept’s concern about the direction in which the relationship of Besant and her followers (especially in the ES) was moving. May be, this has been going on ever since Besant’s days.
7. The TS must safely be ushered into new century.
The key word in the sentence is ‘safely.’ This advise seems to be applicable even today.
According to dictionary, the word is derived from Old French sauf, from Latin salvus 'uninjured'.
This comment points to the importance of TS moving forward without being injured. Misdirected and unwise decisions by theosophical leaders can injure its mission.
Many members do not think that the recent engineering of the election of a part-time itinerant little known person as President, is a wise move to help usher TS into new century. The damage it has done continues and when TS will heal the damage is any one’s guess.
8. You have for some time been under deluding influences.
This is a startling observation. Besant was a very seasoned and experienced First Ray leader with a very strong will and for her to be deluded, shocks everyone. Forces for the Good of the Humanity never use delusion as a tactic to influence anyone. That leaves only the Dark Forces which would use any devise to further their ends.
This brings another important issue. If Besant could be deluded, how much easier that any one of us getting deluded. Moreover, the possibility of a group getting deluded is there. This leads to the question, is it possible and likely that the entire General Council fell victims to the deluding influences in that they were engineered to get a part-time President elected. Their unanimity in observing the policy of silence during the election and not openly protesting when credible allegations came during election process, indicates they being victims of mass delusion. There is no other way one could explain how the election was handled and its outcome.
9. Shun pride, vanity and love of power.
The advise given to Besant surely can be applied to her successors as well.
Several members who are familiar with Radha Burnier, are of the opinion that during the last decade or more, she was paranoid about retaining her position. While she had done yeoman service to TS all her life, her not developing successors can be traced to the Master’s comment.
She was advanced in age and knew she is not going to live long. Also, there could be unexpected passing away. She failed to take active steps to develop capable and knowledgeable candidates to succeed her. She should have spotted potential candidates and made them travel and lecture in lodges in India and around the world so that the members around the world would get to know them as well as the candidates will have first hand knowledge of conditions and issues facing lodges around the world. TS has been harmed by her inaction in this aspect and we are witnessing the result of TS ending up with a part-time itinerant president very little known to members around the world.
10. No one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his conscience.
The above comment was made in connection with Besant heading the ES. One of the allegations in the election has been that voters in Karnataka Federation were forced to vote for the American Candidate and those who were behind it were members of the ES. The possibility is very high in that the voters’ membership in the ES may have been exploited in the attempt. Only a full investigation would bring out the facts. This was never done and one has to assume that the authority was exploited.
11. The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into spirituality. It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional worship.
The foundation of Theo-sophia is that everything in the universe is governed by laws. Once the broad paradigm is presented to the intellectual world, it would work out the logical relationships which would require no beliefs. Emotional worship is just that and emotions take over and common sense and critical thinking goes out. Anyone who has taken time to study some of the theosophical classics can see this very clearly.
This comment is also a warning against developing a creed and emotional worship of an individual or a picture or an idol.
12. The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all actions in the TS and ES. We never try to subject to ourselves the will of another. At favorable times we let loose elevating influences which strike various persons in various ways. It is the collective aspect of many such thoughts that can give the correct note of action.
The key words are -- collectivity and all actions in TS and ES. Here we see the emphasis on (all) members of TS and the need for the thoughts of members in their collectivity in the actions of TS and ES. The Adept points out the importance of participation of members in all actions of TS and ES. It is clear that much emphasis is placed on members and no mention of the leaders (especially the GC members). By implication, correct note of action is not the exclusive prerogative of the General Council members.
It is clear that the Adept did not look on members as ‘ballast’ as some leaders today seem to view.
13. We show no favors.
This tells how even handed are the Adepts. This is also to remind that no one from top down should expect any favors because of their membership in ES or any leadership position they hold. It is possible that the Adept saw a mistaken trend developing in those who are in the ES and/or holding leadership positions in TS/ES expecting special favors from the Adepts.
14. The best corrective of error is an honest and open-minded examination of all facts subjective and objective.
In the current context of serious allegation in the recent election, serious errors may have been committed by many in their misguided and misdirected enthusiasm. TS has become a laughing stock and its future is at stake. Quick action is needed to correct the errors and the Adept has gives us guidance as to how to correct them.
Also, many members feel that it is a serious error on the part of the current President in not being candid with voters during election and his not disclosing his plans with regard to holding two jobs concurrently and not residing at Adyar and working full-time as President. An open-minded examination of all facts, as suggested by the Adept would be the right step for him to take to fix the error.
15. Misleading secrecy has given the death blow to numerous organizations.
This comment is perhaps the most important one in the entire letter.
Starting with the leadership of Besant, a culture of secrecy developed in TS. This ultimately has trickled down and pervaded to all sections of the world and continues to this day. This seems to have been an extension of the secrecy of the ES into the TS and was facilitated by the membership of all the leaders at all levels invariably being members of the ES and hence misleading secrecy accepted without any question.
We all witnessed in 2008, the failed ultra secret attempt to disenfranchise all members in the election of the president and how its timely discovery by a courageous member and subsequent world-wide broadcast using Internet prevented its implementation.
Misleading secrecy is also the driving force behind the policy of silence in the last election as well as withholding of critical information regarding American Candidate from members that ended up with TS getting a part-time, itinerant and little known President.
There is another reason why misleading secrecy dealt a death blow to many organizations. One aspect of reality that is rarely talked about is the mischief by the Dugpas. They are always looking for chances to impede good work being done.
All nefarious things are more easily done in secrecy rather than in an open environment. When an advanced person such as Laura Holloway could fall victim to Dugpas and not realizing it, exploiting lesser personalities is a piece of cake. Also, taking over a group of people and not even any of them realizing it, is quite possible. Especially operating under secrecy, deluded by Dugpas, they may act as if they are doing the right thing and acting in error. Transparency is a built-in safeguard to prevent such a development. Many members wonder if Dugpas were behind the crises that TS is facing since 2008.
Careful reading of the comment shows that it is a direct and serious warning. Looks like a natural law leading misleading secrecy to the give the death blow to organizations. This has to be read in conjunction with earlier comment “The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all actions in the TS and ES.” If higher thoughts of the members in their collectivity must guide all action in TS and ES, misleading secrecy does not fit in with it.
The warning applies to both TS and ES. All the Presidents from Besant to Radhaji never took the warning seriously and never took steps to bring transparency. From a practical worldly view, it is easier to operate in an environment lacking transparency. Also all of them kept the full letter a secret from the members for 87 years. This is in spite of the fact that the Adept never indicated that the letter be kept secret.
16. The TS was meant to be the cornerstone of the future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead must leave aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in inner thought and outward observance.
Again this comment indicates the danger of TS becoming another creed. Even the great teacher Shri Shankaracharya taught that all rituals and ceremonies are not going to lead to spiritual progress.
It was during Besant’s Presidency, Co-Masonic and LCC got defacto integrated into TS activities. The Adept must have foreseen this development and thus the warning. But alas, the warning was ignored by all Presidents Besant onwards and warning itself was kept secret from members for 87 years.
The above warning also fits into the comment in ML to APS - vain rituals and empty ceremonials which have in too many cases been productive of the greatest calamities.
All of the above are my views and surely, the Adept has given to the theosophical movement advise on a lot of aspects to help it serve the future generations. It is for the members and the organizations to make use of the advise so that theosophy can help the Humanity in the years to come. If the advise is ignored and adverse consequences follow, no one but the theosophists have to be blamed. Let us hope all of us are smart enough to make full use of the advise and be beneficiaries of the good Karma arising from them.