The Publication of HPB's Esoteric Papers
by Daniel H. Caldwell
Since I first published The Esoteric Papers of Madame Blavatsky in early 2005, students of the United Lodge of Theosophists "tradition" have written to me "protesting" that I should not have published these private papers which HPB had originally intended only for her esoteric school students. Some of these ULT students even believe that this publication is an "injustice" to HPB and the Mahatmas and that I have also created "bad" karma for myself.
I should also point out that some of these ULT students who have strongly objected to my publishing of HPB's esoteric papers have admitted to me that they also have access to these esoteric papers of H.P.B. and even read and study them. Therefore one might seriously ask: who has given permission to these present-day ULT students to read and study these esoteric papers which were originally published by H.P.B. decades before they were even born? As Dr. H.N. Stokes once wrote:
"If .... [HPB's esoteric documents] are [still] private documents today, no one without a diploma of sanctity and a special permit from the Mahatmas is more entitled to read them than any others, or to discourage others from doing what he does himself when it suits his purpose ... ." Italics added.
For more on this line of thinking, see What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander??.
But in this article I want to try to give the interested Blavatsky student some insight into some of my thinking about HPB's esoteric papers and why I published them.
The reality of the situation is that in 1897 Mrs. Annie Besant published the bulk...yes the bulk of HPB's Esoteric Instructions and Inner Group teachings in the third volume of The Secret Doctrine. This 1897 volume has been reprinted probably at least 6 or 7 times in the last 108 years. The 3rd volume of the SD was even published in the 1980s under a different title as a Quest Book by the Theosophical Publishing House (Wheaton, Illinois) and more recently by Kessinger Publishing. (1)
Therefore during these intervening 108 years thousands of readers, inquirers, seekers and Theosophical students have read these esoteric papers of Madame Blavatsky in this third volume of the SD.
And probably the vast majority of readers and students who were introduced to this material in this third volume had no idea that these were possibly still private and confidential papers that should never have been published.
Read Annie Besant's own note about these papers to be found on page 434 of the third volume:
"Papers I. II. III. of the following were written by H.P.B and were circulated privately during her lifetime, but they were written with the idea that they would be published after a time. . . . . The 'Notes of some Oral Teaching' were written down by some of her pupils and were partially corrected by her, but no attempt has been made to relieve them of their fragmentary character. She had intended to make them the basis for written papers similar to the first three, but her failing health rendered this impossible, and they are published with her consent, the time for restricting them to a limited circle having expired."
Notice Mrs. Besant's words: "...they are published with her [HPB's] consent."
I'm not asking anyone to believe what Mrs. Besant said. But my point is that thousands of readers have probably read these words of Mrs. Besant and simply assumed they were true.
And without knowing more about the inner history of the Esoteric School, how would any of these readers be in a position to even start to ascertain the validity of Mrs. Besant's statement.
But the end result is that countless students of Madame Blavatsky's teachings have found a great deal of food for thought, insight and inspiration in those esoteric teachings as given in Vol. III of the SD.
More than 25 years ago I remember first encountering and studying this material and I believe I learned a great deal and even had a few of those insights for myself.
It was only later when I delved more deeply into the history of the Theosophical movement that I discovered that some Theosophical students questioned Mrs. Besant's assurance quoted above.
But.....even if every student and reader who ever read and studied the esoteric papers as given in Vol. III had also found out later that possibly these papers were not suppose to have ever been published, what pray tell should or could they do?
Are they suppose to erase from their minds all the study, insight and inspiration that they may have gained from these pages in Volume III?
How (and why) do you close the barn door after the horses have already run away?
The bottom line is that the bulk of HPB's esoteric papers are out there and have been in the public domain for 108 years.
Probably somewhere in the world as I type these words, some inquirer or new student has purchased a copy of this volume III and is starting to read these esoteric papers of HPB's.
Later I also discovered allegations that Mrs. Besant had edited and changed some of the text of these esoteric papers. Since I believed these papers were important and part of Mme. Blavatsky's literary heritage, I wanted to know more about these allegations of tampering and editing.
Why? I thought if Mrs. Besant has tampered with these papers then maybe this changing/editing of words may have also changed HPB's original meaning.
Naturally I wanted to see the originals to verify for myself if the allegation of tampering was true or not. And if the tampering allegation was true, I also wanted to see and study the originals so that I would not be laboring under various misunderstandings/misimpressions based on Mrs. Besant's alleged editing.
If the reader had been in my shoes, he/she may have thought differently. I don't know.
In summary, my intention was to discover and preserve the unedited versions of these papers not only for myself but also for other sincere, serious students. As the years went by, the uppermost thought in my mind was to set the record straight, to preserve for posterity the earliest available original, unedited versions of HPB's esoteric papers.
Therefore, if this endeavor of mine and the subsequent publication of The Esoteric Papers of Madame Blavatsky creates negative karma for myself, then I will bear with it for in the long run I think the publication of this 2005 volume is productive of much lasting good.....
See also the related articles titled:
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander??
Dzyan Esoteric School--- Blavatsky's Esoteric Instructions Issued on Whose Authority?
Did Robert Crosbie Break the Seventh Clause of His Solemn Pledge as a Member of the Esoteric School?
Mr. Crosbie & Mrs. Tingley IN TOUCH with the deceased W.Q. Judge?
E.S.T. Order No. II of 1894
(1) It should also be noted that different versions of these esoteric instructions have also been published in Volume XII of HPB's Collected Writings (Wheaton, TPH) as well as under the title Secret Instructions to Probators of an Esoteric Occult School (Health Research).