Published by Blavatsky Study Center. Online Edition copyright 2004.

Mr. W.H. Harrison's Delusions.

by H.R. Morgan

[Reprinted from the Supplement to The Theosophist,
(Adyar, Madras, India) December 1883, p. 29-31.]

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In the Medium and Daybreak, October 5th, 1883, under the heading of the "Himalayan Brothers," Mr. W. H. Harrison, Author of "Spirits before our Eyes," has written an article that is manifestly unfair, so far as its reasoning powers go, and is so wanting in knowledge of Madame Blavatsky, Col Olcott and the BROTHERS, that it only seems right that such an article should not be allowed to go forth unchallenged.

He commences by saying "those who had given laborious study "for years to the Medial Phenomena, in the endeavour to discover their source, necessarily found it within their province to examine these new claims." Now what I complain of in Mr. Harrison is, not that he examined these new claims, - but that he proceeded to pronounce upon them. Had he restricted himself to the former, no one could have objected; but when he, a mere inquirer into Occult Science, possessing no previous knowledge or training, takes upon himself to deliver a verdict of ‘not proven,’ he oversteps the boundaries of what is fair and only shows himself to be a superficial examiner at best.

Had Mr. Harrison read in the "Occult World," the communications of Mahatma Koot Hoomi a little more carefully, he might have seen at page 100 (2nd edition), "that Occult Science has its own methods of research as fixed and arbitrary as the methods of its antithesis, physical science, are in their way." Now I would ask what qualifications has Mr. Harrison brought to enable him to decide on the powers of the Brothers, Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olcott?  It appears that for some years he was occupied in probing Spiritualism and in testing Mediums, and that he thus considers that the numerous inquiries and tests instituted qualify him also to pronounce ex cathedra on the above persons’ qualifications. Had he ever been in India and seen the wonders performed by jugglers, in the open air, without dark rooms, sealing of tapes and the hundred and one ways of testing Mediums, he might have ascertained that there are some secrets which he had yet to learn, and that his mode of examination could not qualify him to pronounce upon even the simplest wonder performed by a poor naked native juggler. These secrets have been mostly acquired by severe study, and the ‘modus operandi’ has been handed down for thousands of years. And if these poor minor students of Occult Knowledge have achieved so much, what must the leaders in the same science have accomplished?  Does Mr. Harrison suppose for a moment that these mediums of yesterday are to be compared to those Occult students who are the recipients of a wisdom thousands of years old, and the result of which is the mastery of Nature’s secrets? That some wonderful things have been done in the seance room, few who know anything of the subject will deny, but that simply proves, that the powers working in the seance room possess some of the secrets of nature. Mahatma Koot Hoomi’s saying (page 144, 2nd Ed): that the Western mind was, as a rule, incapable of appreciating Occult Science is clearly verified by Mr. Harrison, who ignores study, the peculiar modes of life and the guiding hand of the Adept. Indeed one can hardly conceive him to be anything but a sceptic who has never fairly inquired. Let us examine a few of the so-called facts that he advances in support of his verdict. "1st, Madame Blavatsky is a strong spiritual Medium; 2nd, that she could not control the manifestations; 3rd, that Mr. Sinnett’s conclusions were mostly errors, due to absence of antecedent knowledge, and experience of mediums and physical phenomena; and 4th, that he, as a novice, believed and printed what the communicating intelligences said of themselves." Now to oppose to all this I have the following facts.

On the one hand for over five years I have had personal knowledge and experience of Mediums and physical phenomena. A large Library of Spiritual works is on my shelves, - and the study of Spiritualism was at one time my special occupation. Moreover I know much more than most people about mediumship - because my mediums were not open to trickery, being among my own children, and thus my knowledge was not acquired by haunting seance rooms, but by unimpeachable testimony in my own family. On the other hand my knowledge of Madame Blavatsky’s powers was acquired in the same way, namely, in my own house, where she remained for over two months. My mesmeric acquaintance with Col. Olcott, was derived in the same way, and what I know of the Brothers is from personal experience, not from hearsay. First, I know for a fact that Madame Blavatsky can produce raps when she likes, also the Astral bells; that her communication with the Brothers depends more on her trained magnetism (not mediumship) than on anything else; that she is a vegetarian; that she has a wonderful knowledge of the Occult Sciences, but that her principal works are performed by the power of the Brothers; that her life has always been a pure one, all vile calumnies to the contrary notwithstanding; that she has devoted herself to the cause which the Brothers are concerned about. Hence it is not surprising that she should be able to perform wonderful feats, which certainly no medium that I ever heard or read of could perform, and if her magnetism may fail her sometimes, through ill health, this does not prove that she has not the phenomena under control. That Mr. Harrison "has held all along that her powers are but the usual John and Katie King" whoever they may be, proves nothing, for he has never seen her nor investigated her powers; nor does he know the Brothers with whom she communicates, and for whom she has given up everything and come to India. What was done in America has no connection with what she does here with the aid of the Brothers. That Madame B. should have investigated the materialisation of the Eddy Brothers surely cannot be construed into her being a spiritualist, and believing all that has been advanced regarding Spirits. If Mr. Harrison had read "Isis Unveiled" carefully and impartially, he never could have stated that John King "was a regular attendant of her’s;" for I rather think (in Col. O.’s book "People from the other World") it is stated that Madame B. - on one occasion ordered John King to prepare a certain materialisation. Not having the book by me, I cannot quote chapter and verse, but my impression is very strong, that the fact was as above stated. (1)  So the "regular attendant Spirit" vanish into thin air, and the authority for this unfounded assertion is simply that of Mr. Harrison. "John King" is a generic name, as she often told her friends, and no one except herself and the Colonel know what is the entity hiding under this name. Again it is stated that at the Eddy seances several of the manifestations were due to Madame B-. This surely is a double-edged statement. For, in such case, it remains to be settled whether these manifestations took place independently of her will and wish, or that they were produced at her command - the latter being a clear case of Occultism. Only as coming from Mr. Harrison, the assertion has very little foundation, since it is directly contradicted by that other statement of Colonel Olcott, who states very distinctly that several hundred manifestations were produced when Madame B - was not present. I can give an instance of a marvel myself, and shall do so at the end of this paper, showing what the Brothers are capable of doing. As neither Colonel Olcott nor Madame B - was present, some other hypothesis than their mediumship must be had recourse to, in order to explain the phenomenon. Mr. Harrison quotes from Colonel Olcott’s book, who at that time was not a Theosophist, but who would now repeat what he then wrote, namely: - That she (Madame B -) "differs from all other mediums he ever met;" for instead of being controlled by, she controls, the "Spirits" herself.

The above was written in 1875. And if Colonel Olcott was right at that time, then surely at this date (1883) Mr. Harrison has no right or reason to assume that Colonel Olcott was mistaken, for we know as a fact that she does control the elementals and elementaries - with our great Brothers’ permission - as she always explains. With regard to the latter quotation, page 453, Colonel Olcott would probably, by the light of nearly eight years’ experience, be inclined to modify his opinion on this head, viz, "that this very outbreak of Spiritualistic Phenomena, "is under the control of an order, which, while depending for its results upon unseen agents, has its existence upon earth among men." In those days, Colonel Olcott had only just met with Madame B -; hence his mistaken conclusion. It is not for a moment supposed that those who criticise our belief in the Brothers do it through "malice." At the same time, when, to support an untenable position, facts are distorted and quotations are introduced, which to experienced eyes do not suit, but are simply used for the purpose of throwing dust in the eyes of the unwary, what can be said of those who resort to such shifts to prove their case? It can only be assumed that Mr. Harrison has done so, through a profound ignorance of the subject he is dealing with. There is no question here of "Spirit identity," for the Brothers are not Spirits. In the Occult World, Mahatma Koot Hoomi distinctly states (page 148, 2nd Ed.) "that the only spirits we know of are the higher planetary Spirits." Once more here, Mr. Harrison has, for purposes of his own, misquoted KOOT HOOMI. He writes that Mr. Kiddle’s ideas have been purloined by K. H., and quotes what Mr. Kiddle said on August 15th, 1880, viz., "My friends, ideas rule the world, and as men’s minds receive new ideas laying aside the old and effete, the world advances," and Mr. Harrison then places opposite the identical words of K. H. a letter to Mr. Sinnett in the Occult World," but with malice propense carefully omits the fact that "K. H." preceded the said sentences with the remark - "Plato was right. Ideas rule the world," &c., giving thereby an oblique narration of what was said at Lake Pleasant, evidently on the strength of Platonic reminiscenses. And when the ideas, if not the very sentences, can be proved Plato’s, then who is the greater "plagiarist" of the two, Mr. Sinnett’s correspondent, or Mr. Kiddle? The former, who shows the sentences to be if not quotations at least not his own ideas, or the latter who throws them out into the cars of his audience without tracing them by one word to their original source? The most that could be said is, that the Mahatma attributed to PLATO that which belonged to KIDDLE, doing thereby the last named individual an honor that he certainly deserves very little, Inspector or Director of Public Instruction though he be. The significant fact that both Mr. Kiddle in Light and Mr. Harrison in Medium and Daybreak carefully omit the introductory words - "Plato is right" - is more than suspicious; it shows deliberate malice on its very face.

Happily, we have been permitted, many of us, to look behind the veil of the "parallel passages" mystery, and the whole affair is very satisfactorily explained to us; but all that we are permitted to say is, that many a passage was entirely omitted from the letter received by Mr. Sinnett, its precipitation from the original dictation to the chela. Would our great Master but permit us, his humble followers, to photograph and publish in the Theosophist the scraps shown to us, scraps in which whole sentences, parenthetical, and quotation marks are defaced and obliterated, and consequently omitted in the chela’s clumsy transcription - the public would be treated to a rare sight, something entirely unknown to modern science - namely, an akasic impression as good as a photograph of mentally expressed thoughts dictated from a distance. Moreover the world of sceptics and scoffers would be shown whether men possessed of such wonderful knowledge have any occasion to resort to plagiarism from unknown and very indifferent lecturers. It seems incredible that Mr. Harrison could write his flippant accusations! As for Mr. Kiddle, it is to be hoped he reads the Theosophist, and may see these lines, when perhaps he will find it was his guiding spirit that induced him to palm off on his audience indifferently constructed sentences of Plato’s ideas, for his own. It appears Mr. Sinnett (so writes Mr. Harrison) could not account for the plagiarism except by supposing that the Himalayan Brothers wrote thus to test the faith of their followers." This reads very like a gratuitous supposition on the part of Mr. Sinnett, and I leave himself to answer. Mr. H. seems at one time to have held this theory regarding physical mediums, but had to give it up. It is to be hoped that his mind is now set at rest on this head, and that the reputation of the Brothers has been too triumphantly established to run the risk of being upset by his criticism. Truly may Mahatma K. H. write (page 144, Occult World) "Such is unfortunately the inherited and self acquired grossness of the Western mind, and so greatly have the very phrases expressive of modern thought been developed in the line of practical materialism, that it is now next to impossible either for them to comprehend or for us to express in their own languages anything of that delicate, seemingly ideal machinery of the Occult Kosmos." These words apply most especially to Mr. Harrison’s remark - but original document from a higher sphere do not receive the respect one would desire.

Mr. Sinnett’s work on Esoteric Buddhism distinctly points out that the time had come for imparting some knowledge of the future to those whose minds were receptive but his book is too strong for the multitude amongst whom we may number Mr. Harrison. If Moses "had kept the text of the "ten commandments to himself" - the world would not have lost much. The captions manner of describing "some of the things recorded as occurring in the presence of Madame B. - as testified by seeing mediums," is another proof of the writer’s unfairness, for how about those wonders described by those witnesses who are not seeing mediums? Of letters coming in full day-light through ceilings in closed rooms in the presence of several witnesses, not seeing mediums? This has been seen several times in my own family and house, where no medium was present unless Madame B - could be called one. It is correct to say that if the magnetism is good, it can be used for performing what may appear magical feats, but is in fact nothing more than a knowledge of the secrets, of nature. However, Mr. Sinnett has evidently written the Occult World, in vain for Mr. Harrison, who cries again - it is the spirits or humbug, never a human being . . . and Colonel Olcott is a medium" that is, his magnetism is made use of by the Brothers, as Mr. Harrison might have learnt in the Occult World on page 184, 2nd Edition. "The magnetism thus brought to the house established conditions which for a short time rendered some manifestations possible." Again, page 190, K. H. writes - "to force phenomena in the presence of difficulties magnetic and other is forbidden as strictly, as for a bank cashier to disburse money which is only entrusted to him." Colonel Olcott is a strict vegetarian, he obeys all the rules laid down for an adept’s pupil, hence - his excellent magnetism. Clearly Mr. H. is all abroad on this head; his mind is so saturated with Seances, Mediums and Spirits, that no room is left for belief in the Arcana of Nature. What have trance mediums to do with the subject? Has he read in the "Occult World" on page 147, 2nd Ed. that "The truths and mysteries of Occultism constitute indeed a body of the highest spiritual importance at once profound and practical for the world at large?" As for his question remaining unanswered, viz., "Theosophists who wish to come into communication with the Brothers and to enter their fraternity, are told they must live a pure life, abstain from wine, spirits, meat and tobacco * * * How then is it that Madame B - who is not an ascetic has been successful, when those who carry out the instructions she does not follow may fail?   It may be answered now. First of all as Poeta nascitur non fit, "the Adept becomes and is not made." He is the efflorescence of his age, and comparitively few ever appear in a single century. (Occult World, page 134). Secondly, Madame B - is not an Adept, though she has gone through several stages of initiation. Thirdly, those who practise a pure life and practise asceticism may yet fail of Adeptship in this birth, but succeed in it in the next. What Mr. H.’s experiences with physical Mediums in England may have been, it is certain that they bear no relation to the powers of the initiates in India, and Mr. H. is clearly very ignorant of the subject if he can say that "asceticism would probably reduce their Mediumship (Powers?) to Zero instead of strengthening their powers." Again he writes that Madame B - is "inaccurate." To this may be replied "humanum est errare," the moreso, as some of the first who accused her of it are known to be still more "inaccurate" themselves. No one has ever claimed infallibility for Madame B.

And now I come to the "Toda" charges. Here I can speak with full authority, for if an accurate knowledge of the plateau and slopes of the Neilgherries entitles one to an opinion, then my forty years of exploring these Hills should count for something. To begin with, it does not "so happen that the Toda country has been well explored from end to end." The vast forests on the southern "slopes of the Neilgherry Hills touching the silent valley" have never been explored; one or two sportsmen in the last fifty years have just skirted the valley, principally to stalk the bison and sambur in the open, I may say without being doubted that for forty years I have known personally all the great elephant shots, and I never knew one who had explored the southern slopes. In fact in many places the vast forests are impenetrable, and unless following after elephant it would be simply impossible to explore them. As for the grand temples, they may have been in existence years ago (see Isis Unveiled, page 615, Vol. 2) in places that are surrounded by impenetrable forests, nay, they may even be in existence still, who knows, and rumours to their effect are many. Who the Todas still, no one knows. It is true that the present visible munds are entered on all fours - but that proves nothing against the existence of other temples. It may not be easy for any one not an adept to ascertain the truth about these temples. One thing is certain: the Todas are the most mysterious, as the least known, of all the tribes in India who have many a secret unknown but the few.

In his final paragraph Mr. H. contends that it is against all experience that "abnormal purification" increases the power to produce physical phenomena. It may be asked what evidence to this does he produce? Does Mr. Harrison suppose that the wisdom of accumulated generations of adepts, is not superior to his ephemeral experience? All the ancient writings of India tend to show that certain powers have been always possessed by Rishis and the Adepts and for countless generations, yet, Mr. Harrison would put his pigmy experiences, forsooth, against such evidence! It must be confessed that the man who does not know how little (2) he knows is very hard to deal with; arguments are wasted on him, assured facts become in his eyes no facts at all, and for such men "The Occult World," I say again, has been written in vain. They have a theory into which all things must fit, be they ever so contradictory. Here is a specimen, the attributes of the - Himalayan Brothers are "not very high ones" in Mr. H.’s estimation. How on earth does he know what their attributes are?

As to his coolly qualifying their powers, "not very high ones," this style of begging the question is not one that commends itself to the honest enquirer. Nor can there be anything "laborious" about it; it is simply hastily jumping to a conclusion on a subject that not only has not been carefully investigated, but one, of which the writer is positively ignorant. Let a few of the adept powers that are known, be enumerated, and it will be seen, that if they possess the powers we know of, these powers must include a number of the secret forces of nature, unknown to the greatest scientists of this generation.

The first and foremost is the power of dealing with other or Akasa - a power which includes alone a vast number of minor wonders, such as causing writing to appear in closed letters - where none was before; the disintegration and reformation of substances - thus enabling matter to pass through solid walls; the duplication of rings, brooches, etc., and other powers too numerous to mention. Again the Adept can send forth his Astral body to the Planets and accurately observe what takes place there, unlike the clairvoyant, who can retail but a very imperfect idea of what he has seen. He, the Adept, can in a few seconds transport his Astral body anywhere he pleases. In fact there "is no limit to his powers." All this, according to Mr. H., are not "very high attributes." It would be refreshing to know what he considers "as a high attribute. Again in that determined - "not-to-see" manner, he declares "the alleged (?) Brothers are secluded persons seeking their own advancement, instead of living the higher life of self sacrifice in the world for the general good of others." Without being profane, it might as well be said that the Highest Power should consort with men for their general good. If the creative Spirit, or the Deity is everywhere, cannot Mr. H. perceive that in a minor degree the Astral Body of the Adept may be working in the same way in various places for the good of mankind, but that being still human, though a highly perfected humanity - they cannot bear the coarse magnetism of the crowd and thus do not mix with the latter? If a delicate sensitive were thrust into, say, a gin shop reeking with bad tobacco, spirits and foul clothes, would the sensitive feel pleased or happy? The Adept has long ago lived "the higher life" and busied himself, for a time far beyond the span of man’s life, in working for mankind. What more does Mr. Harrison require? Surely his ideas of working for the benefit of mankind cannot equal those of the Adept. He should know that his knowledge compared with that of the Initiates is as that of the Australian savage compared with the most highly educated European.

I have written this article for two reasons; one is to assure the sceptical natives of India that so far as I know, the descendants of their ancient Rishis still exist, and the other to show to Western minds that what they do not know, would amount to a very large sum, indeed.

H. R. Morgan, F. T. S.

2nd November 1883.

P.S. - Adverting to Mr. Kiddle’s oration, in which he states Ideas rule the world, he certainly got this idea from Plato, for in the Dialogues (Whewell, Vol. iii., p. 291, &c.) we read of the Primordial essences being the Platonic "doctrine of Ideas," again, "Ideas, the only objects of real knowledge" "Real Philosophers are those who employ their minds upon absolute "ideas" and "Philosophers are the genuine rules of the world" - here we see the connection with ideas ruling the world, and for their application we have only to go to the French Revolution of 1788 to see how ideas ruled the world.  Liberty, equality and fraternity - how creeds and even powers crumbled before their onward march, crushed by their irresistible force - and so on * * * Louis Napoleen in making war on Italy declared it was only France that went to war for an "idea." Probably he also plagiarised from Plato. Does Mr. Kiddle think, he alone is to have a monopoly of "ideas?" It is too absurd!

And Mr. Harrison - does he know what a Bukht is or ever read of a Bukht’s doings? What does he think of a Bukht disembowelling himself coram publico, answering questions put to him whilst lying on the ground bleeding - the questions answered, taking up some of the blood (his own), waving it in the ether, replacing his bowels, applying the blood that has been subjected to the ether or Akasa to the vast wound, jumping up and showing scarcely a mark where before there was a huge gaping wound? These facts have been vouched for by several unimpeachable European witnesses. Does Mr. Harrison know of any medium who can do this?


(1)  On consulting Col. Olcott’s book I find my memory has not deceived me. See p. 444.

(2)  Socrates supposed that the Oracle declared him wise because he knew nothing, and knew that he knew nothing, while other people knew as little as he, and thought they knew a great deal, (Vol. 1, page 7, Plato’s dialogues.)