[Reprinted from The Theosophist (Adyar, Madras, India),
Supplement, March 1884, pp. 52-53.]
Somebody of old has said:
"Give ye not that which is sacred to the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, for the swine will tread them under their feet and the dogs will turn and rend you."
It is therefore with a great deal of hesitation and reluctance that I make up my mind to pen the following account of my experiences. If this article were destined to go into the public papers, it would certainly never have been written; for not only is it disagreeable to throw ones name to be devoured by the vultures of criticism; but especially because it pains me to see the names of our revered Masters bandied about by fashionable dandies and unfashionable dunces.
In a public paper I would have three classes of readers:
The first class would read it as they would read the market report about the price of potatoes and lay the paper aside without giving the subject a further thought, and this class I consider a very amiable one.
The second class would conclude that I was "one of the ring," that I had come all the way from America to amuse myself by concocting ghost stories, for no perceptible purpose except to fool them. This class I consider very stupid and I pity them.
The third class are men and women of intelligence, who neither accept nor reject anything without sufficient reason. They probably have heard of such things before; still they may have some lingering doubts, which they desire to have removed. This class I consider my friends, and only for their benefit, and to try to help to guide them along on their tedious path through the mists of doubt and disbelief, did I consent to have this printed in the Journal of our Society --- a paper published for the special use of the members of our Association.
On the twenty-first of September, 1883, I left my home in Colorado in the United States to go to India; partly for the purpose of representing the Theosophical Societies of America at our eighth Anniversary, partly because being of a very skeptical nature, I was anxious to investigate more fully the subject of Occultism and to remove my doubts. And how could I expect to do this better than by going to the Headquarters?
It would have been easier and cheaper for me to go by way of New York and Marseilles, than by way of California, Japan and China; but I had a certain business to perform in San Francisco, which is of too delicate and private a nature to be mentioned even in this paper. So I went to San Francisco. But, alas! for the weakness of the human nature, of even an occultist in embryo! The charm of a pair of beautiful black eyes proved almost too strong for the would-be ascetic. Saint Anthonys temptation was as nothing, if compared to mine, and my trip to the promised land came very near to be a delusion and a snare. However, I succeeded in tearing myself away, left, and went to China.
A week or two after my arrival at Adyar, seeing that several others, strangers as well as members of our Society, occasionally received letters from the Masters either by having them dropped from the air, whirled at them through solid walls or sent them through the "Shrine," I thought by myself that it was about time that I should be equally favoured; for although considering myself a sinner, I could not see that I was a great deal worse and therefore less worthy of consideration than the majority of those that received letters. Encouraged by this thought, I concluded to see whether a letter of mine would elicit an answer from the Masters.
Accordingly I wrote the following lines:--
Revered Master! The undersigned offers you his services. He desires that you would kindly examine his mental capacity and if desirable give him further instructions.
Respectfully yours, etc.
I copy this letter verbatim, so that the kind reader may not think me so silly as to trouble the "Adepts" of the Himalayas with my little private affairs, which, however interesting to me, can be of no possible interest to them. Besides this, I am in the habit of keeping my own counsel, and there was no one in India or outside of San Francisco that knew anything about the said affairs. I gave my letter to Col. Olcott and he put it into the shrine.
A couple of days afterwards, I reasoned with myself about this matter, and thought that, if the Masters should find it worth the while to say anything to me, they would undoubtedly do so without my asking, and I therefore begged Colonel Olcott to return me my letter. Colonel Olcott would have done so, but my letter had disappeared in a mysterious manner in spite of locks and keys and was never seen again. But in place of my letter I received another in the well known handwriting of our revered Master, the contents of which showed not only a complete knowledge of myself and a knowledge of some of the events in my past life, but it also said: "You have committed an act of great imprudence while in San Francisco" --- and then went into details about that very private and delicate business to which I referred above, and the details of which I will give to our kind Theosophists, if he or she will call on me and promise, of course, never to reveal it.
Now such a "test" ought to be satisfactory to anybody; but having had a twenty years experience with Spiritualism, my doubts were not yet fully conquered. Could Col. Olcott have written this letter? What did he know of my private affairs? How could anyone know anything about it, as there was no mail received from San Francisco since I arrived by the last steamer, and who in America would take the trouble to write or telegraph anything, and who could do so, as I am almost as much a stranger in San Francisco as I am in Adyar.
But again: might not Colonel Olcott or somebody else have become clairvoyant and read my mind, and then by some unconscious cerebration, or somehow or other, some spirit or something might have written it, and who knows but I might have been taken in after all.
These thoughts, in spite of all reasoning, were left lingering in my mind, until I was so fortunate as to see the Master myself in his astral body, when, of course, they were silenced for ever.
But something more wonderful was in store for me; and although it did not surprise me at all after all I had seen and heard, it will be interesting to those who have no personal experience in such matters.
This morning at half-past eleven I went upstairs to Madame Blavatskys room and had a conversation with her in regard to society matters. After this conversation the thought came in my mind to ask her opinion in regard to a certain subject of which I had been thinking. Madame Blavatsky advised me to apply to the Master himself, to ask him mentally, and that the Master himself would surely answer my question. A few minutes later she said she felt his presence, and that she saw him writing. I must say that I too felt his influence and seemed to see his face, but of course this circumstance will carry conviction to no one but myself.
Just then another lady came in, to my great annoyance, and expressed her wish to have a pair of pincers, which she needed for some purpose, and remembering that I had such a pair of pincers in the drawer of my writing desk, I went downstairs into my room to get them. I opened the drawer, saw the pincers and a few other things in there, but no vestige of any letter, as I had removed my papers the day before to another place. I took the pincers and was about to close the drawer, when --- there lay in the drawer a great envelope, addressed to me in the well-known handwriting of the Master and sealed with the seal bearing his initials in Tibetan characters. On opening it, I found a long, very kind and somewhat complimentary letter, treating of the identical questions, about which I had just been talking with Madame Blavatsky, besides giving a detailed and satisfactory answer to the very question which had so perplexed my mind, and a satisfactory explanation of certain matters, which for some time had been foremost in my mind, but of which I had said nothing at all.
Moreover, there was in the same envelope a photograph, cabinet-size, of the Masters face, with a dedication to me at the back. This picture will henceforth be considered as the greatest treasure in my possession.
Now, if I know anything at all, I know that my drawer contained no such letter, when I opened it, and that there was nobody visible in my room at that time. The letter, giving a detailed answer to my question, must have been written, sealed and put into the drawer in less than four minutes, while it took exactly forty minutes to copy it the next day; and finally, it treated a very difficult problem in such an elaborate and yet concise manner, that only an intelligence of the highest order could have done the same.
Any further comment I consider unnecessary.
F. HARTMANN, M.D.
Adyar (Madras, India),
February 5, 1884.