Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

The Evolution of Humanity
[Letter to the Editor.]

by A.P. Sinnett

[Reprinted from Light (London), April 22, 1893, p. 191.]

Sir, --- In a letter chiefly relating to Mr. Scott Elliot’s 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 Blavatsky’s “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.” [See Mahatma 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 misleading.

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. Read’s 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 Blavatsky’s 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 its letter.

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 Master’s 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 against.

A. P. Sinnett.

[See Mr. Read's Reply to Sinnett.---BAO Editor.]