The Writings of Alfred Percy Sinnett
Alfred Percy Sinnett
The Occult World
A P Sinnett
Later Occult Phenomena
Chapter was added
to the second English edition.
I CANNOT let a second edition of this book appear without recording some, at least, of the experiences which have befallen me since its preparation. The most important of these, indeed, are concerned with fragmentary instruction I have been privileged to receive from the Brothers in reference to the great truths of cosmology which their spiritual insight has enabled them to penetrate. But the exposition even of the little, relatively, that I have learned on this head would exact a more elaborate treatise than I can attempt at present.[ Subsequently published as Esoteric Buddhism. ] And the purpose of the present volume is to expound the outer facts of the situation rather than to analyse a system of philosophy. This is not entirely inaccessible to exoteric students, apart from what may be regarded as direct revelation from the Brothers. Though almost all existing occult literature is unattractive in its form, and rendered purposely obscure by the use of an elaborate symbology, it does contain a great deal of information that can be distilled from the mass by the application of sufficient patience. Some industrious students of that literature have proved this. Whether the masters of occult philosophy will ultimately consent to the complete exposition in plain language of the state of the facts regarding the spiritual constitution of Man, remains to be seen. Certainly, even if they are still reticent in a way that no ordinary observer can comprehend, they are more disposed to be communicative at this moment than they have been for a long time past.
But the first thing to do is to dissipate as much as possible the dogged disbelief that encrusts the Western mind as to the existence of any abnormal persons who can be regarded as masters of True Philosophy -distinguished from all the speculations that have tormented the world - and as to the abnormal nature of their faculties. I have endeavored already to point out plainly, but may as well here emphasise the reason why I dwell upon, the phenomena which exhibit these faculties. Rightly regarded, these are the credentials of the spiritual teaching which their authors supply. Firstly, indeed, in themselves abnormal phenomena accomplished by the willpower of living men must be intensely interesting for every one endowed with an honest love of science. They open out new scientific horizons. It is as certain as the sun's next rising that the forward pressure of scientific discovery, advancing slowly as it does in its own grooves, will ultimately, and probably at no very distant date, introduce the ordinary world to some of the superior scientific knowledge already enjoyed by the masters of occultism. Faculties will be acquired by exoteric investigation that will bring the outworks of science a step or two nearer the comprehension of some of the phenomena I have described in the present volume. And meanwhile it seems to me very interesting to get a glimpse beforehand of achievements which we should probably find engaging the eager attention of a future generation, if we really could, as Tennyson suggests -
-" sleep through terms of mighty wars,
And wake on science grown to more,
On secrets of the brain, the stars,
As wild as aught of fairy lore."
But even superior to their scientific interest is the importance of the lesson conveyed by occult phenomena, when these distinctly place their authors in a commanding position of intellectual superiority as compared with the world at large. They show most undeniably that these men have gone far ahead of their contemporaries in a comprehension of Nature as exemplified in this world; that they have acquired the power of cognizing events by other means than the material senses; that while their bodies are at one place, their perceptions may be at another, and that they have consequently solved the great problem as to whether the Ego of man is a something distinct from his perishable frame. From all other teachers we can but find out what has been thought probable in reference to the soul or spirit of man : from them we can find out what is the fact; and if that is not a sublime subject of inquiry, surely it would be difficult to say what is. But we cannot read poetry till we have learned the alphabet; and, if the combinations b-a ba, and so on are found to be insufferably trivial and uninteresting, the fastidious person who objects to such foolishness will certainly never be able to read the " Idylls of the King."
So I return from the clouds to my patient record of phenomena, and to the incidents which have confirmed the experiences and conclusions set forth in the previous chapter of this book, since my return to
The very first incident which took place was in the nature of a pleasant greeting from my revered friend, Koot Hoomi. I had written to him (per Madame Blavatsky, of course) shortly before leaving
For some time the gift of the letter from Koot Hoomi in the way I have described was the only phenomenon accorded to me, and, although my correspondence continued, I was not encouraged to expect any further displays of abnormal power. The higher authorities of the occult world, indeed, had by this time put a very much more stringent prohibition upon such manifestations than had been in operation the previous summer at Simla. The effect of the manifestations then accorded was not considered to have been satisfactory on the whole. A good deal of acrimonious discussion and bad feeling had ensued; and I imagine that this was conceived to outweigh, in its injurious effect on the progress of the Theosophical movement, the good effect of the phenomena on the few persons who appreciated them. When I went up to Simla in August, 1881, therefore, I had no expectation of further events of an unusual nature. Nor have I any stream of anecdotes to relate which will bear comparison with those derived from the experience of the previous year. But none the less was the progress of a certain undertaking in which I became concerned -the establishment of a Simla branch of the Theosophical Society -interspersed with little incidents of a phenomenal nature. When this Society was formed, many letters passed between Koot Hoomi and ourselves which were not in every case transmitted through Madame Blavatsky. In one case, for example, Mr. Hume, who became president for the first year of the new Society - the Simla Eclectic Theosophical Society, as it was decided it should be called -got a note from Koot Hoomi inside a letter received through the post from a person wholly unconnected with our occult pursuits, who was writing to him in connection with some municipal business. I myself, dressing for the evening, have found an expected letter in my coat-pocket, and on another occasion under my pillow in the morning. On one occasion, having just received a letter by the mail from England which contained matter in which I thought she would be interested, I went up to Madame Blavatsky's writing-room and read it to her. As I read it, a few lines of writing, comment upon what I was reading, were formed on a sheet of blank paper which lay before her. She actually saw the writing form itself, and called to me, pointing to the paper where it lay. There I recognise Koot Hoomi's hand-and his thought, for the comment was to the effect, " Didn't I tell you so? " and referred back to something he had said in a previous letter.
By-the-by, it may be as well to inform the
reader that during the whole of the visit to Simla, of which I am now speaking,
for several months before it, and until several months later, Colonel Olcott
was in Ceylon, where he was engaged in a very successful lecturing tour on
behalf of the Theosophical Society , in reference to some of the phenomena
which occurred at Simla in 1880, when both he and Madame Blavatsky were
present. Ill-natured and incredulous people -when it would be glaringly absurd
about some particular phenomenon to say that Madame Blavatsky had done it by
trickery of her own -used to be fond of suggesting that the wire-puller must be
Colonel Olcott. In some of the newspaper criticisms of the first edition of
this book, even, it has been suggested that Colonel Olcott must be the writer
of the letters that I innocently ascribe to Koot Hoomi, Madame Blavatsky merely
manipulating their presentation. But inasmuch as all through the autumn of
1881, while Colonel Olcott was at Ceylon and I at Simla, the letters continued
to come, alternating day by day sometimes with the letters we wrote, my
critics, in future, must acknowledge that this hypothesis is played out.
For me myself -as I think it will also be for my appreciative readers -the most interesting fact connected with my Simla experience of 1881 was this : During the period in question I got into relations with one other of the Brothers, besides Koot Hoomi. It came to pass that in the progress of his own development it was necessary for Koot Hoomi to retire for a period of three months into absolute seclusion, as regards not merely the body -which in the case of an Adept may be secluded in the remotest corner of the earth without that arrangement checking the activity of his " astral " intercourse with mankind - but as regards the whole potent Ego with whom we had dealings. Under these circumstances one of the Brothers with whom Koot Hoomi was especially associated agreed, rather reluctantly at first, to pay attention to the Simla Eclectic Society, and keep us going during Koot Hoomi's absence with a course of instruction in occult philosophy. The change which came over the character of our correspondence when our new master took us in hand was very remarkable. Every letter that emanated from Koot Hoomi had continued to bear the impress of his gently mellifluous style. He would write half a page at any, time rather than run the least risk of letting a brief or careless phrase hurt anybody's feelings. His hand writing, too, was always very legible and regular. Our new master treated us very differently: he declared himself almost unacquainted with our language, and wrote a very rugged hand which it was sometimes difficult to decipher. He did not beat about the bush with us at all. If we wrote out an essay on some occult ideas we had picked up, and sent it to him, asking if it was right, it would sometimes come back with a heavy red line scored through it, and " No " written on the margin. On one occasion one of us had written, " Can you clear my conceptions about so and so ? " The annotation found in the margin when the paper was returned was, " How can I clear what you haven't got I " and so on. But with all this we made progress under M-, and by degrees the correspondence, which began on his side with brief notes, scrawled in the roughest manner on bits of coarse Tibetan paper, expanded into considerable letters sometimes. And it must be understood that while his rough and abrupt ways formed an amusing contrast with the tender gentleness of Koot Hoomi, there was nothing in these to impede the growth of our attachment to him as we began to feel ourselves tolerated by him as pupils a little more willingly than at first. Some of my readers, I am sure, will realise what I mean by " attachment " in this case. I use a colourless word deliberately to avoid the parade of feelings which might not be generally understood; but I can assure them that in the course of prolonged relations- even though merely of the epistolary kind -with a personage who, though a man like the rest of us as regards his natural place in creation, is elevated so far above ordinary men as to possess some attributes commonly considered divine, feelings are engendered which are too deep to be lightly or easily described.
It was by M--------- quite recently that a little manifestation of force was given for my gratification, the importance of which turned on the fact that Madame Blavatsky was entirely uninfluential in its production, and eight hundred miles away at the time. For the first three months of my acquaintance with him, M------ had rigidly adhered to the principle he laid down w hen he agreed to correspond with the Simla Eclectic Society during Koot Hoomi 's retirement. He would correspond with us, but would perform no phenomena whatever. This narrative is so much engaged with phenomena that I cannot too constantly remind the reader that these incidents were scattered over a long period of time, and that as a rule nothing is more profoundly distasteful to the great adepts than the production of wonders in the outside world. Ordinary critics of these, when they have been thus exceptionally accorded, will constantly argue, " But why did not the Brothers do so and so differently ? then the incident would have been much more convincing." I repeat that the Brothers, in producing abnormal phenomena now and then, are not trying to prove their existence to an intelligent jury of Englishmen. They are simply letting their existence become perceptible to persons with a natural gravitation towards spirituality and mysticism. It is not too much to say that all the while they are scrupulously avoiding the delivery of direct proof of a nature calculated to satisfy the commonplace mind. For the present, at all events, they prefer that the crass, materialistic Philistines of the sensual, selfish world should continue to cherish the conviction that " the Brothers " are myths. They reveal themselves, therefore, by signs and hints which are only likely to be comprehended by people with some spiritual insight or affinity. True the appearance of this book is permitted by them, -no page of it would have been written if a word from Koot Hoomi had indicated disapproval on his part, - and the phenomenal occurrences herein recorded are really in many cases absolutely complete and irresistible proofs for me, and therefore for anyone who is capable of understanding that I am telling the exact truth. But the Brothers, I imagine, know quite well that, large as the revelation has been, it may safely be passed before the eyes of the public at large just because the herd, whose convictions they do not wish to reach, can be relied upon to reject it. The situation may remind the reader of the farceur who undertook to stand on Waterloo Bridge with a hundred real sovereigns on a tray, offering to sell them for a shilling apiece, and who wagered that he would so stand for an hour without getting rid of his stock. He relied on the stupidity of the passers-by, who would think themselves too clever to be taken in. So with this little book. It contains a straightforward statement of absolute truths, which, if people could only believe them, would revolutionise the world; and the statement is fortified by unimpeachable credentials. But the bulk of mankind will be blinded to this condition of things by their own vanity and inability to assimilate super-materialistic ideas, and none will be seriously affected but those who are qualified to benefit by comprehending.
Readers of the latter class will readily appreciate the way the phenomena that I have had to record have thus followed in the track of my own growing convictions, confirming these as they have in turn been inferentially constructed, rather than provoking and enforcing them in the first instance. And this has been emphatically the case with the one or two phenomena that have latterly been accorded by M------. It was in friendship and kindness that these were given, long after all idea of confirming my belief in the Brothers was wholly superfluous and out of date. M------ came indeed to wish that I should have the satisfaction of seeing him (in the astral body of course), and would have arranged for this in Bombay, in January, when I went down there for a day to meet my wife, who was returning from England, had the atmospherical and other conditions just at that period permitted it. But, unfortunately for me, these were not favourable. As M----- wrote in one of several little notes I received from him during that day and the following morning, before my departure from the headquarters of the Theosophical Society, where I was staying, even they, the Brothers, could not " work miracles; " and though to the ordinary spectator there may be but little difference between a miracle and anyone of the phenomena that the Brothers do sometimes accomplish, these latter are really results achieved by the manipulation of natural laws and forces, and are subject to obstacles which are sometimes practically insuperable.
But M------, as it happened, was enabled to show himself to one member of the Simla Eclectic Society, who happened to be at Bombay a day or two before my visit. The figure was clearly visible for a few moments, and the face distinctly recognised by my friend, who had previously seen a portrait of M-------.
Then it passed across the open door of an inner room in which it had appeared, in a direction where there was no exit; and when my friend, who had started forward in its pursuit, entered the inner room, it was no longer to be seen. On two or three other occasions previously, M----- had made his astral figure visible to other persons about the headquarters of the Society, where the constant presence of Madame Blavatsky and one or two other persons of highly sympathetic magnetism, the purity of life of all habitually resident there, and the constant influences poured in by the Brothers themselves, render the production of phenomena immeasurably easier than elsewhere.
And this brings me back to certain incidents which took place recently at my own house at Allahabad, when, as I have already stated, Madame Blavatsky herself was eight hundred miles off, at Bombay. Colonel Olcott, then on his way to Calcutta, was staying with us for a day or two in passing.
He was accompanied by a young native mystic, ardently aspiring to be accepted by the Brothers as a chela, or pupil, and the magnetism thus brought to the house established conditions which for a short time rendered some manifestations possible. Returning home one evening shortly before dinner, I found two or three telegrams awaiting me, enclosed in the usual way, in envelopes securely fastened before being sent out from the telegraph office. The messages were all from ordinary people, on commonplace business; but inside one of the envelopes I found a little folded note from M-----. The mere fact that it had been thus transfused by occult methods inside the closed envelope was a phenomenon in itself, of course (like many of the same kind that I have described before) ; but I need not dwell on this point, as the feat that had been performed, and of which the note gave me information, was even more obviously wonderful. The note made me search in my writing-room for a fragment of a plaster bas-relief that M----- had just transported instantaneously from Bombay. Instinct took me at once to the place where I felt that it was most likely I should find the thing which had been brought- the drawer of my writing-table, exclusively devoted to occult correspondence ; and there, accordingly, I found a broken corner from a plaster slab, with M-----'s signature marked upon it. I telegraphed at once to Bombay, to ask whether anything special had just happened, and next day received back word that M----- had smashed a certain plaster portrait, and had carried off a piece. In due course of time I received a minute statement from Bombay, attested by the signatures of seven persons in all, which was, as regards all essential points, as follows: -
" At about seven in the evening the following persons " (five are enumerated, including Madame Blavatsky ) " were seated at the dining-table, at tea, in Madame Blavatsky's veranda opposite the door in the red screen separating her first writing-room from the long veranda. The two halves of the writing-room were wide open, and the dining-table, being about two feet from the door, we could all see plainly everything in the room. About five or seven minutes after, Madame Blavatsky gave a start. We all began to watch. She then looked all round her, and said, , What is he going to do ? ' and repeated the same twice or thrice without looking at or referring to any of us. We all suddenly heard a knock -a loud noise, as of something falling and breaking -behind the door of Madame Blavatsky's writing- room, when there was not a soul there at the time. A still louder noise was heard, and we all rushed in. The room was empty and silent; but just behind the red cotton door, where we had heard the noise, we found fallen on the ground a Paris plaster mould, representing a portrait, broken into several pieces. After carefully picking the pieces up to the smallest fragments, and examining it, we found the nail, on which the mould had hung for nearly eighteen months, strong as ever in the wall. The iron wire loop of the portrait was perfectly intact, and not even bent. We spread the pieces on the table, and tried to arrange them, thinking they could be glued, as Madame Blavatsky seemed very much annoyed, as the mould was the work of one of her friends in New York. We found that one piece, nearly square and of about two inches, in the right corner of the mould, was wanting. We went into the room and searched for it, but could not find it. Shortly afterwards, Madame Blavatsky suddenly arose and went into her room, shutting the door after her. In a minute she called Mr. ------in, and showed to him a small piece of paper. We all saw and read it afterwards. It was in the same handwriting in which some of us have received previous communications, and the same familiar initials. It told us that the missing piece was taken by the Brother whom Mr. Sinnett calls , the Illustrious,'[ "My illustrious friend," was the expression I originally used in application to the Brother I have here called M-, and it got shortened afterwards into the pseudonym given in the statement. It is difficult sometimes to know what to call the Brothers, even when one knows their real names. The less these are promiscuously handled the better, for various reasons, among which is the profound annoyance which it gives their real disciples if such names get into frequent and disrespectful use among scoffers. I regret now that Koot Hoomi's name, so ardently venerated by all who have been truly subject to his influence, should ever have been allowed to appear in full in the text of the book.] To Allahabad, and that she should collect and carefully preserve the remaining pieces." The statement goes after this into some further details, which are unimportant as regards the general reader, and is signed by the four native friends who were with Madame Blavatsky at the time the plaster portrait was broken. A postcript, signed by three other persons, adds that these three came in shortly after the actual breakage, and found the rest of the party trying to arrange the fragments on the table.
It will be understood, of course, but I may s well explicitly state, that the evening to which the above narrative relates was the same on which I found Mr. -----'s note inside my telegram at Allahabad, and the missing piece of the cast in my drawer; and no appreciable time appears to have elapsed between the breakage of the cast at Bombay and the delivery of the piece at Allahabad, for though I did not note the exact minute at which I found the fragment - and, indeed, it may have been already in my drawer for some little time before I came home- the time was certainly between seven and eight, probably about half-past seven or a quarter to eight. And there is nearly half an hour's difference of longitude between Bombay and Allahabad, so that seven at Bombay would be nearly half-past at Allahabad. Evidently, therefore, the plaster fragment, weighing two or three ounces, was really brought from Bombay to Allahabad, to all intents and purposes, instantaneously. That it was veritably the actual piece missing from the cast broken at Bombay was proved a few days later, for all the remaining pieces at Bombay were carefully packed up and sent to me, and the fractured edges of my fragment fitted exactly into those of the defective corner, so that I was enabled to arrange the pieces all together again and complete the cast.
The shrewd reader -of the class of persons
who would never have been " taken in " by the man who sold sovereigns
on Waterloo Bridge -will laugh at the whole story. A lump of plaster of Paris
sent a distance of eight hundred miles across India in the wink of an eye by
the willpower of somebody Heaven knows where at the time -probably in Tibet !
The shrewd person could not manage the feat himself, so he is convinced that
nobody else could, and that the event never occurred. Rather believe that the
seven witnesses at Bombay and the present writer are telling a pack of lies
than that there can be anyone living in the world who knows secrets of Nature,
and can employ forces 'of Nature that shrewd persons of the Times- reading,
"Jolly Bank-holiday, three-penny 'bus young man " type know nothing
about. Some friends of mine, criticising the first edition of this book, have
found fault with me for not adopting a more respectful and conciliatory tone
towards scientific scepticism when confronting the world with allegations of
the kind these pages contain. But I fail to see any motive for hypocrisy in the
matter. A great number of intelligent people in these days are shaking
themselves free at once from the fetters of materialism forged by modern
science and the entangled superstition of ecclesiastics, resolved that the
Church herself, with all her mummeries, shall fail to make them irreligious;
that science itself, with all its conceit, shall not blind them to the
possibilities of Nature. These are the people who will understand my narrative
and the sublimity of the revelations it embodies. But all people who have been
either thoroughly enslaved by dogma, or thoroughly materialised by modern
science, have finally lost some faculties, and will be unable to apprehend
facts that do not fit in with their preconceived ideas. They will mistake their
own intellectual deficiencies for inherent impossibility of occurrence on the
part of the fact described; they will be very rude in thought and speech
towards persons of superior intuition, who do find themselves able to believe
and, in a certain sense, to understand; and it seems to me that the time has
come for letting the commonplace scoffers realise plainly that in the
estimation of their more enlightened contemporaries they do indeed seem a
Beotian herd, in which the better educated and the lesser educated -the
orthodox savant and the city clerk -differ merely in degree and not in kind.
The morning after the occurrence of the incident just detailed, B---- R-----, the young native aspirant for chelaship, who had accompanied Colonel Olcott, and was staying at my house, gave me a note from Koot Hoomi , which he found under his pillow in the morning. One which I had written to Koot Hoomi , and had given to B----- R----- the previous day, had been taken, he told me, at night, before he slept. The note from Koot Hoomi was a short one, in the course of which he said, " To force phenomena in the presence of difficulties magnetic or other is forbidden as strictly as for a bank cashier to disburse money which is only entrusted to him. Even to do this much for you so far from the headquarters would be impossible but for the magnetisms 0---- and B----- R----,- have brought with them -and I could do no more." Not fully realising the force of the final words in this passage, and more struck by a previous passage, in which Koot Hoomi wrote -" It is easy for us to give phenomenal proofs when we have necessary conditions " -I wrote next day, suggesting one or two things which I thought might be done to take additional advantage of the conditions presented by the introduction into my house of available magnetism different from that of Madame Blavatsky, who had been so much, however absurdly, suspected of imposing on me. I gave this note to B---- R----- on the evening of the 13th of March -the plaster fragment incident had taken place on the 11th- and on the morning of the 14th I received a few words from Koot Hoomi , simply saying that what I proposed was impossible, and that he would write more fully through Bombay. When in due time I so heard from him, I learned that the limited facilities of the moment had been exhausted, and that my suggestions could not be complied with; but the importance of the explanations I have just been giving turns on the fact that I did, after all, exchange letters with Koot Hoomi at an interval of a few hours, at a time when Madame Blavatsky was at the other side of India.
The account I have just been giving of the
instantaneous transmission of the plaster of Paris fragment from Bombay to
Allahabad forms a fitting prelude to a remarkable series of incidents I have
next to record. The story now to be told has already been made public in India,
having been fully related in " Psychic Notes," [Newton &
Co., Calcutta.] a periodical temporarily brought out at Calcutta, with
the object especially of recording incidents connected with the spiritualistic
mediumship of Mr. Eglinton, who stayed for some months at Calcutta during the
past cold season. The incident was hardly addressed to the outside world;
rather to spiritualists, who while infinitely closer to a comprehension of
occultism than people still wrapped in the darkness of orthodox incredulity,
about all super-material phenomena, are nevertheless to a large extent inclined
to put a purely spiritualistic explanation on all such phenomena. In
this way it had come to pass that many spiritualists in India were inclined to
suppose that we who believed in the Brothers were in some way misled by
extraordinary mediumship on the part of Madame Blavatsky. And at first the
" spirit guides" who spoke through Mr. Eglinton confirmed this view.
But a very remarkable change came over their utterances at last. Shortly before
Mr. Eglinton's departure from Calcutta, they declared their full knowledge of
the Brotherhood, naming the " Illustrious " by that designation, and
declaring that they had been appointed to work in concert with the Brothers
thenceforth. On this aspect of affairs, Mr. Eglinton left India in the
steamship Vega, sailing from Calcutta, I believe, on the 16th of March.
A few days later, on the morning of the 24th, at AIahabad, I received a letter
from Koot Hoomi, in which he told me that he was going to visit Mr. Eglinton on
board the Vega at sea, convince him thoroughly as to the existence of
the Brothers, and if successful in doing this notify the fact immediately to
certain friends of Mr. Eglinton's at Calcutta. The letter had been written a
day or two before, and the night between the 21st and 22nd was mentioned as the
period when the astral visit would be paid. Now the full explanation of all the
circumstances under which this startling programme was carried out will take
some little time, but the narrative will be the more easily followed if I first
describe the outline of what took place in a few words. ' The promised visit
was actually paid, and not only that but a letter written by Mr.
Eglinton at sea on the 24th describing it -and giving in his adhesion to a
belief in the Brothers fully and completely- was transported instantaneously
that same evening to Bombay, where it was dropped "out of nothing "
like the first letter I received on my return to India before several
witnesses; by them identified and tied up with cards written on by them at the
time ; then taken away again and a few moments later dropped down, cards from
Bombay and all, among Mr. Eglinton's friends at Calcutta who had been
told beforehand to expect a communication from the Brothers at that time. All
the incidents of this series are authenticated by witnesses and documents, and
there is no rational escape, for any one who looks into the evidence, from the
necessity of admitting that the various phenomena as I have just described them
have actually been accomplished, " impossible " as ordinary science
will declare them.
For the details of the various incidents of the series, I may refer the reader to the account published in Psychic Notes of March 30, by Mrs. Gordon, wife of Colonel W. Gordon, of Calcutta, and authenticated with her signature.
Colonel Olcott, Mrs. Gordon explains in the earlier part of her statement, which for brevity's sake I condense, had just arrived at Calcutta on a visit to Colonel Gordon and herself. A letter had come from Madame Blavatsky-
"dated Bombay the 19th, telling us
that something was going to be done, and expressing the earnest hope that she
would not be required to assist, as she had had enough abuse about phenomena.
Before this letter was brought by the post peon, Colonel Olcott had told me
that he had had an intimation in the night from his Chohan (teacher) that K. H.[
We had got into the habit at this time of using these initials for the
Mahatma's name. ] Had been to the Vega and seen Eglinton. This
was at about eight o'clock on Thursday morning, the 23rd. A few hours later a
telegram, dated at Bombay, 22nd day,21 hours 9 minutes, that is, say 9 minutes
past 9 P.M. on Wednesday evening, came to me from Madame Blavatsky, to this
effect: ' K. H. just gone to Vega.' This telegram came as a 'delayed'
message, and was I to me from Calcutta, which accounts for its not reaching me
until midday on Thursday. It corroborated, as will be seen, the message of the
previous night to Colonel Olcott. We then felt hopeful of getting the letter by
occult means from Mr. Eglinton. A telegram later on Thursday asked us to fix a
" time for a sitting, so we named 9 o'clock Madras time, on Friday, 24th.
At this hour we three- Colonel Olcott, Colonel Gordon, and myself -sat in the
room which had been occupied by Mr. Eglinton.. We had a good light, and sat
with our chairs placed to form a triangle, of which the apex was to the north.
In a few minutes Colonel Olcott saw outside the open window the two' Brothers'
whose names are best known to us, and told us so; he saw them pass to another
window, the glass doors of which were closed. He saw one of them point his hand
towards the air over my head, and I felt something at the same moment fall
straight down from above on to my shoulder, and saw it fall at my feet in the
direction towards the two gentlemen. I knew it would be the letter, but for the
moment I was so anxious to see the' Brothers' that I did not pick up what had
fallen. Colonel Gordon and Colonel Olcott both saw and heard the letter fall. Colonel
Olcott had turned his head from the window for a moment to see what the I
Brother' was pointing at, and so noticed the letter falling from a point about
two feet from the ceiling. When he looked again the two 'Brothers' had
" There is no veranda outside, and the window is several feet from the ground.
" I now turned and picked up what had fallen on me, and found a letter in Mr. Eglinton's handwriting, dated on the Vega the 24th ; a message from Madame Blavatsky, dated at Bombay the 24th, written on the backs of three of her visiting cards; also a larger card, such as Mr. Eglinton had a packet of, and used at his séances. On this latter card was the, to us, well-known handwriting of K. H., and a few words in the handwriting of the other' Brother,' who was with him outside our window, and who is Colonel Olcott's chief. All these cards and the letter were threaded together with a piece of blue sewing silk. We opened the letter carefully, by slitting up one side, as we saw that some one had made on the flap in pencil three Latin crosses, and so we kept them intact for identification. The letter is as follows: -
"'S. S. Vega, Friday, 24th March, 1882. " , My DEAR MRS. GORDON,
-At last your hour of triumph has come! After the many battles we have had at the breakfast-table regarding K. H.'s existence, and my stubborn scepticism as to the wonderful powers possessed by the " Brothers," I have been forced to a complete belief in their being living distinct persons, and just in proportion to my scepticism will be my firm unalterable opinion respecting them. I am not allowed to tell you all I know, but K. H. appeared to me in person two days ago, and what he told me dumfounded me. Perhaps Madame B. will have already communicated the fact of K. H.'s appearance to you. The "Illustrious " is uncertain whether this can be taken to Madame or not, but he will try, notwithstanding the many difficulties in the way. If he does not I shall post it when I arrive at port. I shall read this to Mrs. B---- and ask her to mark the envelope; but whatever happens, you are requested by K. H. to keep this letter a profound secret until you hear from him though Madame. A storm of opposition is certain to be raised, and she has had so much to bear that it is hard she should have more.' Then follow some remarks about his health and the trouble which is taking him home, and the letter ends.
" In her note on the three visiting cards Madame Blavatsky says:
-' Headquarters, March 24th.
These cards and contents to certify to my doubters that the attached letter addressed to Mrs. Gordon by Mr. Eglinton was just brought to me from the Vega, with another letter from himself to me, which I keep. K. H. tells me he saw Mr. Eglinton and had a talk with him, long and convincing enough to make him a believer in the "Brothers," as actual living beings, for the rest of his natural life. Mr. Eglinton writes to me: " The letter which I enclose is going to be taken to Mrs. G. through your influence. You will receive it wherever you are, and will forward it to her in ordinary course. You will learn with satisfaction of my complete conversion to a belief in the "Brothers", and I have no doubt K. H. has already told you how he appeared to me two nights ago," etc., etc.. K. H. told me all. He does not, however, want me to forward the letter in "ordinary course", as it would defeat the object, but commands me to write this and send it off without delay, so that it would reach you all at Howrah tonight, the 24th. I do so. ...H. P. Blavatsky.'
" The handwriting on these cards and signature are perfectly well known to us. That on the larger card (from Mr. Eglinton's packet) attached was easily recognised as coming from Koot Hoomi . Colonel Gordon and I know his writing as well as our own; it is so distinctly different from any other I have ever seen, that among thousands I could select it. He says, William Eglinton thought the manifestation could only be produced through H. P. B. as a "medium", and that the power would become exhausted at Bombay. We decided otherwise. Let this be a proof to all that the spirit of living man has as much potentiality in it (and often more) as a disembodied soul. He was anxious to test her, he often doubted; two nights ago he had the required proof and will doubt no more. But he is a good young man, bright, honest, and true as gold when once convinced. ..
"This card was taken from his stock
today. Let it be an additional proof of his wonderful mediumship. ...K. H.'
" This is written in blue ink, and across it is written in red ink a few words from the other 'Brother' (Colonel Olcott's Chohan or chief). This interesting and wonderful phenomenon is not published with the idea that anyone who is unacquainted with the phenomena of spiritualism will accept it. But I write for the millions of spiritualists, and also that a record may be made of such an interesting experiment. Who knows but that it may pass on to a generation which will be enlightened enough to accept such wonders?"
A postscript adds that since the above statement was written, a paper had been received from Bombay, signed by seven witnesses who saw the letter arrive there from the Vega.
As I began by saying, this phenomenon was addressed more to spiritualists than to the outer world, because its great value for the experienced observer of phenomena turns on the utterly unmediumistic character of the events. Apart from the testimony of Mr. Eglinton's own letter to the effect that he, an experienced medium, was quite convinced that the interview he had with his occult visitant was not an interview with such " spirits " as he had been used to, we have the three-cornered character of the incident to detach it altogether from mediumship either on his part or on that of Madame Blavatsky.
Certainly there have been cases in which under the influence or mediumship the agencies of the ordinary spiritual séance have transported letters half across the globe. A conclusively authenticated case in which an unfinished letter was thus brought from London to Calcutta will have attracted the attention of all persons who have their understanding awakened to the importance of these matters, and who read what is currently published about them, quite recently. But every spiritualist will recognise that the transport of a letter from a ship at sea to Bombay, and then from Bombay to Calcutta, with a definite object in view, and in accordance with a prearranged and pre-announced plan, is something quite outside the experience of mediumship.
Will the effort made and the expenditure of force, whatever may have been required to accomplish the wonderful feat thus recorded, be repaid by proportionately satisfactory effects on the spiritualistic world ? There has been a great deal written lately in England about the antagonism between spiritualism and theosophy, and an impression has arisen in some way that the two cultes are incompatible. Now, the phenomena and the experiences of spiritualism are facts, and nothing can be incompatible with facts. But theosophy brings on the scene new interpretations of those facts, it is true, and sometimes these prove very unwelcome to spiritualists long habituated to their own interpretation. Hence, such spiritualists are now and then disposed to resist the new teaching altogether, and hold out against a belief that there can be anywhere in existence men entitled to advance it. This is consequently the important question to settle before we advance into the region of metaphysical subtleties. Let spiritualists once realise that the Brothers do exist, and what sort of people they are, and a great step will have been accomplished. Not all at once is it to be expected that the spiritual world will consent to revise its conclusions by occult doctrines. It is only by prolonged intercourse with the Brothers that a conviction grows up in the mind that as regards spiritual science they cannot be in error. At first, let spiritualists think them in error if they please; but at all events it will be unworthy of their elevated position above the Beotian herd if they deny the evidence of phenomenal facts; if they hold towards occultism the attitude which the crass sceptic of the mere Lankester type occupies towards spiritualism itself. So I cannot but hope that the coruscation of phenomena connected with the origin and adventures of the letter written on board the Vega may have flashed out of the darkness to some good purpose, showing the spiritualistic world quite plainly that the great Brother to whom this work is dedicated is, at all events, a living man, with faculties and powers of that entirely abnormal kind which spiritualists have hitherto conceived to inhere merely in beings belonging to a superior scheme of existence.
For my part, I am glad to say that I not only know him to be a living man by reason of all the circumstances detailed in this volume, but I am now enabled to realise his features and appearance by means of two portraits, which have been conceded to me under very remarkable conditions. It was long a wish of mine to possess a portrait of my revered friend ; and some time ago he half promised that some time or other he would give me one. Now, in asking an adept for his portrait, the object desired is not a photograph, but a picture produced by a certain occult process which I have not yet had occasion to describe, but with which I had long been familiar by hearsay. I had heard, for example, from Colonel Olcott, of one of the circumstances under which his own original convictions about the realities of occult power were formed many years ago in New York, before he had actually entered on "the path." Madame Blavatsky on that occasion had told him to bring her a piece of paper which he would be certainly able to identify, in order that she might get a portrait precipitated upon it. We cannot, of course, by the light of ordinary knowledge form any conjecture about the details of the process employed; but just as an adept can, as I have had so many proofs, precipitate writing in closed envelopes, and on the pages of uncut pamphlets, so he can precipitate color in such a way as to form a picture. In the case of which Colonel Olcott told me he took home a piece of note-paper from a club in New York- a piece bearing a club stamp -and gave this to Madame Blavatsky. She put it between the sheets of blotting-paper on her writing-table, rubbed her hand over the outside of the pad, and then in a few moments the marked paper was given back to him with a complete picture upon it representing an Indian fakir in a state of samadhi. And the artistic execution of this drawing was conceived by artists to whom Colonel Olcott afterwards showed it to be so good that they compared it to the works of old masters whom they specially adored and affirmed that as an artistic curiosity it was unique and priceless. Now in aspiring to have a portrait of Koot Hoomi, of course I was wishing for a precipitated picture, and it would seem that just before a recent visit Madame Blavatsky paid to Allahabad, something must have been said to her about a possibility that this wish of mine might be gratified. For the day she came she asked me to give her a piece of thick white paper and mark it. This she would leave in her scrapbook, and there was reason to hope that a certain highly advanced chela, or pupil, of Koot Hoomi's, not a full adept himself as yet, but far on the road to that condition, would do what was necessary to produce the portrait.
Nothing happened that day nor that night. The scrapbook remained lying on a table in the drawing-room, and was occasionally inspected. The following morning it was looked into by my wife, and my sheet of paper was found to be still blank. Still the scrapbook lay in full view on the drawing-room table. At half-past eleven we went to breakfast; the dining-room, as is often the case in Indian bungalows, only being separated from the drawing-room by an archway and curtains, which were drawn aside. While we were at breakfast Madame Blavatsky suddenly showed, by the signs with which all who know her are familiar, that one of her occult friends was near. It was the chela to whom I have above referred. She got up, thinking she might be required to go to her room; but the astral visitor, she said, waved her back, and she returned to the table. After breakfast we looked into the scrapbook, and on my marked sheet of paper, which had been seen blank by my wife an hour or two before, was a precipitated profile portrait. The face itself was left white, with only a few touches within the limits of the space it occupied ; but the rest of the paper all round it was covered with cloudy blue shading. Slight as the method was by which the result was produced, the outline of the face was perfectly well-defined, and its expression as vividly rendered as would have been possible with a finished picture.
At first Madame Blavatsky was dissatisfied
with the sketch. Knowing the original personally, she could appreciate its
deficiencies; but though I should have welcomed a more finished portrait, I was
sufficiently pleased with the one I had thus received to be reluctant that
Madame Blavatsky should try any experiment with it herself with the view of
improving it, for fear it would be spoilt. In the course of the conversation,
M---- put himself in communication with Madame Blavatsky, and said that he
would do a portrait himself on another piece of paper. There was no question in
this case of a " test phenomenon" ; so after I had procured and given
to Madame Blavatsky a (marked) piece of Bristol board, it was put away in the
scrapbook, and taken to her room, where, free from the confusing cross
magnetisms of the drawing-room, M---- would be better able to operate.
Now it will be understood that neither the producer of the sketch I had received, nor M-----, in the natural state, is an artist. Talking over the whole subject of these occult pictures, I ascertained from Madame Blavatsky that the supremely remarkable results have been obtained by those of the adepts whose occult science as regards this particular process has been superseded to ordinary artistic training. But entirely without this, the adept can produce a result which, for all ordinary critics, looks like the work of an artist, by merely realising very clearly in his imagination the result he wishes to produce, and then precipitating the coloring matter in accordance with that conception.
In the course of about an hour from the time at which she took away the piece of Bristol board- or the time may have been less -we were not watching it, Madame Blavatsky brought it me back with another portrait, again a profile, though more elaborately done. Both portraits were obviously of the same face, and nothing, let me say at once, can exceed the purity and lofty tenderness of its expression. Of course it bears no mark of age. Koot Hoomi, by the mere years of his life, is only a man of what we call middle age; but the adept's physically simple and refined existence leaves no trace of its passage ; and while our faces rapidly wear out after forty - strained, withered, and burned up by the passions to which all ordinary lives are more or less exposed- the adept age, for periods of time that I can hardly venture to define, remains apparently the perfection of early maturity. M-----, Madame Blavatsky's special guardian still, as I judge by a portrait of him that I have seen, though I do not yet possess one, in the absolute prime of manhood, has been her occult guardian from the time she was a child; and now she is an old lady. He never looked, she tells me, any different from what he looks now.
I have now brought up to date the record of all external facts connected with the revelations I have been privileged to make. The door leading to occult knowledge is still ajar, and it is still permissible for explorers from the outer world to make good their footing across the threshold. This condition of things is due to exceptional circumstances at present, and may not continue long. Its continuance may largely depend upon the extent to which the world at large manifests an appreciation of the opportunity now offered. Some readers who are interested, but slow to perceive what practical action they can take, may ask what they can do to show appreciation of the opportunity. My reply will be modelled on the famous injunction of Sir Robert Peel: " Register, register, register! " Take the first steps towards making a response to the offer which emanates from the occult world - register, register, register; in other words, join the Theosophical Society -the one and only association which at present is linked by any recognised bond of union with the Brotherhood of Adepts in Tibet. There is a Theosophical Society in London, as there are other branches in Paris and America, as well as in India. If there is as yet but little for these branches to do, that fact does not vitiate their importance. After a voter has registered, there is not much for him to do for the moment. The mere growth of branches of the Theosophical Society, as associations of people who realise the sublimity of adeptship, and have been able to feel that the story told in this little book, and more fully, if more obscurely, in many greater volumes of occult learning, is absolutely true -true, not as shadowy religious " truths" or orthodox speculations are held to be true by their votaries, but true as the " London Post-Office Directory" is true; as the Parliamentary reports people read in the morning are true; the mere enrolment of such people in a society under conditions which may enable them sometimes to meet and talk the situation over if they do no more, may actually effect a material result as regards the extent to which the authorities of the occult world will permit the further revelation of the sublime knowledge they possess. Remember, that knowledge is real knowledge of other worlds and other states of existence -not vague conjecture about hell and heaven and purgatory, but precise knowledge of other worlds going on at this moment, the condition and nature of which the adepts can cognize, as we can the condition and nature of a strange town we may visit. These worlds are linked with our own, and our lives with the lives they support; and will the further acquaintance with the few men on earth who are in a position to tell us more about them be superciliously rejected by the advance guard of the civilized world, the educated classes of England ? Surely no inconsiderable group will be sufficiently spiritualized to comprehend the value of the present opportunity, and sufficiently practical to follow the advice already quoted, and - register, register, register.
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