Sir, --- In a letter chiefly relating to Mr. Scott
Elliots paper on the Evolution of Humanity, read at a meeting of the London Lodge of
the Theosophical Society in February, Mr. J. W. Read asks some natural
questions about certain statements in that paper in conformity with the views of
Esoteric Buddhism, but at variance with a passage in Madame Blavatskys
Secret Doctrine. The point has to do with the question whether the
family of humanity to which we belong occupied Mars at some period in the remote past, and
at some period in the remote future will pass on to Mercury. The question in itself
can only interest close students of Theosophic teaching, but for various reasons it seems
desirable that I should say a few words in explanation. On the basis of unequivocal
answers from the adept teacher who gave me the information on which Esoteric
Buddhism was written --- in reply to unequivocal questions --- I stated that Mars
and Mercury do in this way form part of our chain of planets.
I had previously learned as an isolated fact that Mercury belonged to our chain.
I then asked: ---
"What other planets of those known to ordinary science, besides Mercury, belong to
our system of worlds?" [See Mahatma Letter No. 23a,
Question 23. BAO Editor.]
The reply was: ---
Mars and four other planets of which astronomy knows yet nothing; neither A. B.
nor Y. Z. are known, nor can they be seen through physical means, however perfected.
Letter No. 23b, Answer 23. BAO Editor.]
This answer, which as I write I copy from the original letter, is quoted in the passage
of the Secret Doctrine to which Mr. Read refers, but somewhat misquoted.
It there appears Mars, etc., and four other planets, and so on. [See The Secret
Doctrine, I, 163.]
The etc. imports an appearance of indistinctness into the reply by which it
was not really impaired; and the argument of the Secret Doctrine seems to be
to the effect that the Master thought I meant something by my question that was different
from what I did mean, and gave me a reply which for my ears would thus be necessarily
On that subject he has recently communicated to me words to this effect: If he
could have been capable of paltering with the truth or of using words in a double sense in
the way that has been imputed to him, not one line of all the manuscript of his which I
possess would have been worth the paper on which it is written.
Of course, the view which Madame Blavatsky took of the Mars and Mercury question led me
long ago to make inquiry as to whether I had blundered in this matter or not, and the
teaching as given in Esoteric Buddhism was quite definitely confirmed.
I do not feel called upon at present to offer any speculation as to how it was that in
this matter Madame Blavatsky became attached to a view which personally I regard without
hesitation as erroneous, but in saying that much, I give my reply, for what it is worth,
to Mr. Reads question as to how it is that Theosophists hold themselves at
liberty to teach as true a doctrine which the High Priestess of their faith has expressly
declared to be false. As I read the Theosophic revelation --- and by the light
of all that has ever been said to me on the subject by the Masters --- I regard any
attempt to set up any Theosophical writer as an infallible authority on the Esoteric
teaching to be a deplorable departure from the spirit of that revelation. However
valuable a contribution to modern knowledge Madame Blavatskys wonderful literary
work has been, its importance would be altogether misapprehended by anyone who should
desire to impose it on Theosophical students as the final word of the Masters
teaching. It is blemished here and there by failures to cast that teaching correctly
in the mould of our thought and language, and I do not believe that the authoress can ever
have departed so widely from the tone she always took in discussing the treatment of
Theosophical doctrine with me, as to have consciously encouraged even her most devoted
friends to study her writing with an unintelligent subordination of their understanding to
Mr. Read makes reference at the end of his letter to what he regards as a conflict of
statement between a sentence in Esoteric Buddhism about the Atlanteans not
having peopled India and Egypt with colonies from their continent, and a statement
in a recent article written by me, on the basis of more detailed information on that
point, about the profound influence on the character and destinies of Egypt exercised by
an immigration of Atlantean adepts. It seems to me there is not much conflict
here. Egypt and India were certainly not peopled by that immigration,
the effect of which on the civilisation of Egypt was nevertheless enormous. But if
there are not as a matter of fact many mistaken statements in Esoteric
Buddhism (and I have had the Masters definite assurance that there are not),
the comparative freedom of that work from error is due to the extraordinary care I took
not to run in any speculations of my own in amplification of the information on which I
wrote. In writing books of enormously greater magnitude, covering much more ground,
and drawn largely from the stores of a wider general knowledge of occult teaching than I
possessed, Madame Blavatsky has naturally enlarged on her information more boldly.
The consequence is that a great deal of her latter writing must be read with an
intelligent appreciation of its value rather than in the blind spirit of intellectual
submission which it seems to me high time for earnest Theosophical students to protest
A. P. Sinnett.
[See Mr. Read's Reply to Sinnett.---BAO Editor.]