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C.W. Leadbeater on why Mahatma Letters should not be published
Below are extremely important
passages written by Mr. C.W. Leadbeater regarding Mahatma Letters. Publication
of Mahatma Letters was forbidden by Mahatmas for various reasons. Below we see
those reasons and also disastrous implications if they were published.
"I have mentioned various ways in which messages are received from the unseen world, but there is still another type of communication which is perhaps of more immediate interest to some of our students, and that is the message or instruction occasionally given by a Master of the Wisdom to His pupils. Such messages have been sent at intervals all through the history of our Society. They have, however, been of many different kinds, and have come in diverse ways. Some have been public— addressed, that is to say, to all enquirers; others have been intended for certain groups of students only ; yet others have been strictly private, containing advice or instruction to a single pupil. A vast amount of what, now that it is systematized, we usually call Theosophical teaching, came to us in the shape of phenomenally-produced letters, written (or rather precipitated) by order of one or other of the Brotherhood to which our Masters belong.
Students should, however, bear
in mind that those early letters were never intended as a complete statement of
the ancient doctrine ; they were the answers to a number of heterogeneous
questions propounded by Messrs. Sinnett and Hume. By slow degrees the outlines
of that doctrine began to emerge from this rather chaotic mass of revelation,
and Mr. Sinnett tried to reduce it to some sort of order in his Esoteric
Each of his chapters is an able statement of the information received on one branch of the subject, but naturally there are many links missing. Madame Blavatsky herself essayed the same gigantic task in her monumental work The Secret Doctrine; but, wonderful as was the erudition she displayed, the arrangement was still imperfect, and she so over-weighted her volumes with quotations from scientific (perhaps sometimes only quasi-scientific) writers, and with more or less corroborative testimony from all kinds of out-of-the-way sources, that it was still almost impossible for the average man to grasp the scheme as a coherent whole. We owe an immense debt of gratitude to Messrs. B. Keightley, A. Keightley, G. R. S. Mead and, above all, to our President, for their long and arduous labour of systematization and re-arrangement; indeed, it was not until the last-mentioned author published The Ancient Wisdom that we had before us a clearly comprehensible statement of Theosophy as we now understand it.
It was not the intention of our Masters that those original letters should be published; indeed, in one of them the Chohan Kuthumi quite clearly stated: " My letters must not be published" ; and later in the same epistle: " The letters were not written for publication or public comment upon them, but for private use, and neither M. nor I would ever give our consent to see them thus handled." Mr. Sinnett promised that at his death he would leave these letters to our President for preservation in the Society's archives; but most unfortunately he either changed his mind or forgot to do this, and so they fell into the hands of one who thought himself wiser in this matter than the Masters, and therefore did just what They had forbidden, though They had given clear warning that to do so "would only be making confusion worse confounded . . . would place you in a still more difficult position, bring criticism upon the heads of the Masters, and thus have a retarding influence on human progress and the Theosophical Society ". This is very readily comprehensible to an ordinary intellect when we see how much of purely personal matter and of advice on questions of merely temporary interest those early letters contain ; still more so when we remember that Madame Blavatsky said of them :
"It is hardly one out of a hundred occult letters that is ever written by the hand of the Master in whose name and on whose behalf they are sent, as the Masters have neither need nor leisure to write them ; and when a Master says " I wrote that letter," it means only that every word in it was dictated by Him and impressed under His direct supervision. Generally They make Their Chela, whether near or far away, write (or precipitate) them, by impressing upon his mind the ideas They wish expressed, and, if necessary, aiding him in the picture-printing process of precipitation. It depends entirely upon the Chela's state of development how accurately the ideas may be transmitted and the writing-model imitated." (Lucifer, vol. iii, p. 93.)
Furthermore, in order to enable him to estimate aright the value in detail of these letters, I most strongly recommend the student to re-read carefully another of Madame Blavatsky's definite statements on this subject, printed on page 617 et seq. of the Centenary number of The Theosophist, in which she clearly explains that the " direct supervision " mentioned above was not always exercised, but that a chela was ordered to satisfy correspondents to the best of his or her ability. I am not for a moment maintaining that the information given in some of those letters was not of the very greatest value and importance to us ; on the contrary, it was the beginning of the whole Theosophical revelation ; but I do say, having seen the originals, that there are some unquestionably obvious mistakes in detail, and some statements that no Master, with His almost omniscient knowledge, could possibly have made ; and I have no doubt that the reasons for such errors are precisely those which Madame Blavatsky gives us."
According to H.P. Blavatsky, mistakes in precipitation of letters are quite possible due to various reasons. Below are the paragraphs of H.P. Blavatsky from her article Precipitation. These paragraphs explain the process of precipitation and why mistakes can happen in this process.
“The work of writing the letters in question is carried on by a sort of psychological telegraphy; the Mahatmas very rarely write their letters in the ordinary way. An electromagnetic connection, so to say, exists on the psychological plane between a Mahatma and his chelas, one of whom acts as his amanuensis. When the Master wants a letter to be written in this way, he draws the attention of the chela, whom he selects for the task, by causing an astral bell (heard by so many of our Fellows and others) to be rung near him, just as the despatching telegraph office signals to the receiving office before wiring the message. The thoughts arising in the mind of the Mahatma are then clothed in word, pronounced mentally, and forced along the astral currents he sends towards the pupil to impinge on the brain of the latter. Thence they are borne by the nerve-currents to the palms of his hands and the tips of his fingers, which rest on a piece of magnetically prepared paper. As the thought-waves are thus impressed on the tissue, materials are drawn to it from the ocean of ákas, (permeating every atom of the sensuous universe) by an occult process, out of place here to describe, and permanent marks are left. . . .
From this it is abundantly clear that the success of such
writing as above described depends chiefly upon these things: (1) The force and
the clearness with which the thoughts are propelled and (2) the freedom of the
receiving brain from disturbance of every description. The case with the
ordinary electric telegraph is exactly the same. If, for some reason or other
the battery supplying the electric power falls below the requisite strength on
any telegraph line or there is some derangement in the receiving apparatus, the
message transmitted becomes either mutilated or otherwise imperfectly legible.
The telegram sent to
To turn to the sources of error in the precipitation. Remembering the circumstances under which blunders arise in telegrams, we see that if a Mahatma somehow becomes exhausted or allows his thoughts to wander off during the process, or fails to command the requisite intensity in the astral currents along which his thoughts are projected, or the distracted attention of the pupil produces disturbances in his brain and nerve-centres, the success of the process is very much interfered with.”