Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.


Esoteric Buddhism.

by W.T. Brown

[Reprinted from Light (London), November 10, 1883, p. 494]


To the Editor of "LIGHT"

SIR, -- May I be allowed to say some words once more upon the subject of Esoteric Buddhism. Having left England for India on August 25th, I have been unable to keep en rapport with the discussion while it lasted, and to communicate with you at a time perhaps more suitable than the present.

I am enabled to write in answer to your Spiritualistic correspondents, because I am in sympathy with all honest Spiritualists and am a corresponding member of the Central Association in London. While acknowledging, however, the phenomena of Spiritualism to be scientific, I have been enabled by some study to see their rationale, and to rise to Esoteric Truth, which masters of Occultism and Theosophists can understand.

Well, then, I proceed now to offer some resistance to the attacks of your contributors and of the journalists of London generally.

I refer first to an opinion expressed in regard to the erudition of Rhys Davids as opposed to that of our President-Founder. It would not be real modesty to refrain from asserting that no one with so-called normal powers can know nearly so much of Buddhism as the prominent members of the Theosophical Society.

I now proceed, sir, to deal with some contributions to the paper under your editorial direction. In answer to them generally, it may be said that we expect, and are prepared for, the scepticism, of which we have recently had a sample. It would be vain to expect other things from those who having eyes yet do not see. The doubting of the existence of the Occult Brethren is a matter which, in the real Theosophist, provokes a quiet laugh. The speaking disparagingly raises feelings of indignation and of pity. Accepted Chelas, of whom there are many in this Empire and four of whom I have the honour of knowing personally, are in constant communication with their masters, have seen them frequently in both ordinary and to us extraordinary circumstances, and know them as they know their own souls. The statement that "the Brothers" are not seen is, indeed, absurd and untrue.

And now I proceed to notice particularly the letter of one of your correspondents, Mr. Henry Kiddle. Mr. Kiddle’s letter is written conscientiously and in a good spirit: and there is no doubt but that, from an ordinary standpoint, there is fair reason for the protest with which we have been favoured.

Mr. Kiddle, "not to put too fine a point upon it," accuses one of our respected masters of nothing short of plagiarism. Mr. Kiddle will not, I am sure, maintain that the ideas in his excerpts are original and are placed by him for the first time before an attentive world. Our master puts the same ideas before us (in pretty much the same words, it is true), but refers, beforehand, to a gentleman of the name of Plato. The sentences to which Mr. Kiddle lays claim are found among a number of others bearing on the subject, but the latter are not, so far as we have heard, to be found in any discourse delivered at Mount Pleasant or elsewhere. Whence come they? is the query which arises.

We will not answer Mr. Kiddle by saying, in the words of Solomon, that there is nothing new under the sun; but will tell him, instead, that the explanation is occult, and deals with an essence known as "astral light." Our master has, no doubt, seen the idea, and, being tired (as indicated at the close of the paragraph referred to), has written or impressed it hurriedly without regard to the feelings of Mr. Kiddle on the one hand or of Plato on the other.

To us who are within the pale, it is unpleasant to write letters of a nature such as this, in answer to unsympathetic and sceptical men. But as time goes on it will be recognised (though we say it, perhaps, who should not) that an explanation such as this is good-natured; for the absence of knowledge on the part of Mr. Kiddle is assuredly his loss -- not ours. -- I am, Sir, yours truly,

W. T. BROWN, F.T.S.,
                       Bachelor Legis.

Adyar, Madras (India).
      October 8th, 1883.