Blavatsky Archives Online.Online Edition copyright 1999.
A Letter from Mahatma Koot Hoomi
to Gustav Gebhard
[This letter from the Master K.H. was received August 25, 1884 in the house of Gustav and Mary Gebhard of Elberfeld, Germany. It was addressed to Mr. Gebhard. See below for the details surrounding the "occult" delivery of this Mahatma letter. This letter has never been published before. --- Daniel H. Caldwell, BAO Editor.]
Some people are neither hot nor cold; they do not know their own mind. One day fire and flame, the other --- ice. The records of western chelaship are full of such cases. I heard you speak very manfully in the carriage yesterday to H.P.B. about your view of subordination and duty to the Masters. The sentiment was most correct. We stand in no such authoritative relation to you, friend and brother. We have not the right to ask you to put your words into practice. But I am your friend and that of your wife and so is M. --- and I take a friend's liberty to say a few words. If age bringeth not wisdom to a man my brother, then has he lived to little purpose. As the shadow creeps forward the glitter of the toys of early life is lost in the gathering obscurity and the realities of existence come out in full view. Did you think of this on the 18th of this month, when friends were wishing you every happiness and your table bloomed with flowers, did you wonder to yourself how many more birthdays you should celebrate and how your life's account of Karma would be finally balanced, did you realise how you were on the threshold of a new stage of your career which might be made far more important than any other that you have passed through? When you broke that bread and found my talisman within, it was a sign if you chose to take it as such, that similarly there had been concealed within your worldly self a more precious self that also could be uncovered and revealed if you but cared to try and break through the selfish human crust. Thro' all this half century of worldly strife, ambition, and pride, all those long years of struggle for riches and the name of great merchant, you have kept that nobler true self hidden from view. Its voice has been almost unheard; its claims put aside for future attention. But time stalks on, sparing no one, and you will see no other half century close in this incarnation. How shall you force your balance good brother? Riches perish, gold melts, petty honours fade, and happiness to him who has not learnt to catch and keep her, the fleeting goddess ever escapes like a mocking elf, far ahead from her presence. If you would be happy, if you would be blessed and crown your years with joy and bliss and peace; if you would make the scales of Karma hang at an even balance, --- then friend and brother do what you can to spread Theosophy. The spiritual welfare of humanity is bound up within its success. Give wise counsel to your colleagues, plan discreetly, execute boldly, lay with your great practical sagacity a sure foundation for the work in Germany. Make your sons your willing loving helpers. Tho' never neglectful of your business, never relaxing your vigilance to build it up and consolidate it, you may still make abundant time to do all that could be asked of you, and by shaping your life by the high standard of Theosophy, you will give to your children and their children a more precious inheritance than wealth, --- that of a splendid example. One of them sadly needs it at this very hour --- poor lad! but I will look after him for his good Mother's sake, so will you --- forgive and forget --- for the same holy sacred cause, gratitude and remembrance of over 30 long faithful years. He must be helped and now I have answered. "Thy instructions" are all here.
Circumstances Surrounding the Delivery
of the K.H. Letter to Gustav Gebhard
Rudolph Gebhard, one of the sons of Gustav and Mary Gebhard, wrote the following account of the details relating to the phenomenal delivery of this Mahatma Letter:
"I have always taken a great interest in conjuring tricks. When in London, I had an opportunity of taking lessons from Professor Field, a most skillful sleight-of-hand conjuror, who very soon made me quite proficient in his art. From that time forward I have given performances wherever I went (as an amateur, of course), and made the acquaintance of nearly all our renowned "wizards," with whom I exchanged tricks. As every conjuror has some favorite sleight in which he excels, I was bound to be very careful in watching them, in order to make myself perfect in all the different lines of card or coin conjuring, or the famous mediumistic feats. This of course made me in good time a pretty close observer, as far as tricks are concerned; and I feel justified in giving here an opinion on the phenomena which came under my observation.
Two of them occurred in our house in Elberfeld, during the stay in it of Mme. Blavatsky, Colonel Olcott, and a small party of friends and Theosophists.
The first one was a letter from Mahatma K.H. to my father, and took place one evening in the presence of a number of witnesses. It was about nine pm. We were sitting in the drawing room discussing different topics, when Mme. Blavatskys attention was suddenly attracted by something unusual taking place in the room. After a while she said that she felt the presence of the "Masters." That they had, perhaps, the intention of doing something for us, and so she asked us to think of what we should like to occur. Then a little discussion took place as to what would be the best thing, and finally it was unanimously resolved that a letter should be asked for, addressed to my father, Mr. G. Gebhard, on a subject on which he should mentally decide himself.
Now my father had, at the time being, great anxiety about a son in America, my elder brother, and was very eager to get advice from the Master concerning him.
Meanwhile, Mme. B., who, on account of her recent illness, was resting on a sofa, and had been looking around the room, suddenly exclaimed that there was something going on with a large oil painting hanging over the piano in the same room, she having seen like a ray of light shooting in the direction of the picture. This statement was immediately corroborated by Mrs. [Holloway], and then by my mother also, who, sitting opposite a looking glass and turning her back to the picture, had also observed in the mirror, like a faint light going towards the painting. Mme. B. then required Mrs. [Holloway] to see, and say what was going on, when Mrs. [Holloway] said that she saw something forming over the picture, but could not distinctly make out what it was.
Everybody's attention was now fixed in the direction of the wall high above and under the ceiling, where so many saw bright lights. But, I must confess, that for my part, not being clairvoyant, I could neither see lights, nor any other thing except what I had always seen on that wall. And when Madame Blavatsky said she now felt absolutely sure that there was something going on, I got up (we had kept our seats all this while) and climbing on the piano lifted the picture right off the wall, but not off the hook, shook it well and looked behind itnothing! The room was well lit up, and there was not an inch of the picture which I could not see. I dropped the frame, saying that I could see nothing; but Madame Blavatsky told me that she felt sure that there must be something, so on I climbed once more and tried again.
The picture in question was a large oil painting, suspended from the wall by a hook and a rope, which made it hang over at the top, so that when the lower part of the frame was lifted off the wall, there was a space of fully six inches between the wall and the back of the picture, the latter being virtually entirely off the wall. There being a wall gas bracket fixed on each side of the painting, the space between the latter and the wall was well lit up. But the second time, no better than the first, was I able to detect anything, though I looked very close. It was in order to make perfectly sure that I got up on the piano, and passed my hand twice very carefully along the frame, which is about three inches thick, up and downnothing.
Letting the picture drop back, I then turned round to Madame Blavatsky to ask her what was to be done further, when she exclaimed, "I see the letter; there it is!" I turned quickly back to the picture, and saw at that moment a letter dropping from behind it on the piano. I picked it up. It was addressed to "Herr Consul G. Gebhard," and contained the information he had just asked for. I must have made rather a perplexed face, for the company laughed merrily at the "family juggler."
Now for me this is a most completely demonstrated phenomenon. Nobody had handled the picture but myself; I was careful to examine it very closely, and as I was searching for a letter, such a thing could not have escaped my attention, as perhaps would have been the case if I had been looking for some other object; as then I might not have paid any attention to a slip of paper. The letter was fully four by two inches, so by no means a small object.
Let us consider this phenomenon from a sleight-of-hand point of view.
Suppose several letters had been prepared beforehand, addressed to different persons, treating of different subjects. Is it possible to get a letter to an appointed place by a sleight-of-hand trick? Quite possible; it only depends what place it is, and if our attention is drawn beforehand to such a place or not. To get that letter behind that picture would have been very difficult, but might have been managed if our attention had for a moment been directed to another place, the letter being thrown behind the picture in the meantime. What is sleight-of-hand? Nothing else but the execution of a movement more or less swift, in a moment when you are not observed. I draw your attention for a short while to a certain spot, say for instance my left hand, my right is then free to make certain movements unobserved; as to "the quickness of the hand deceives the eye" theory, it is entirely erroneous. You cannot make a movement with your hand so quickly that the eye would not follow and detect it; the only thing you can do is either to conceal the necessary movement by another one which has nothing to do with what you are about, or to draw the attention of the looker-on to another point, and then quickly do what is required.
Now, in this instance all our attention had been drawn to the picture, before ever the question was put as to what we should like to have, and was kept there all the while; it would have been impossible for anyone to throw a letter without being observed. As for the letter having been concealed behind the picture beforehand, this is out of the question altogether, it could not have escaped my attention while I repeatedly searched for it. Suppose the letter had been placed on the top of the frame, and my hand had disturbed it passing along without my knowing it, this would have caused the letter to drop down instantly, whereas, about thirty seconds passed before it put in an appearance. Taking all circumstances together, it seems to me an impossibility to have worked this phenomenon by a trick. . . . "
[Quoted from Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky by A.P. Sinnett, London, 1886, pp. 27986. For more details about this letter see Letters from H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, London, 1925, pp. 350-1. For more background information on this period of Madame Blavatsky's life see my book The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky, WWW edition published by The Theosophical Society in America, Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A. For biographical material on the Gebhard family, consult H.P. Blavatsky's Collected Writings, Volume VI, pp. 434-6.]