Oct 15, 2015

The Making of ‘The Fire and Light’

In Life as in the Theosophical
Movement, All is Not Easy to Understand

The Editors of The Aquarian




The making of the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature” took long years, since its project began in 2005, and readers have asked the editors of “The Aquarian Theosophist”:

“Why did The Theosophy Company (Los Angeles) not actively support the publishing of the volume, which defends the truth about Helena Blavatsky? [1] After all, it is everyone’s duty to defend a teacher of divine knowledge who is unjustly attacked, and we know that individuals of the Theosophy Company accompanied the preparation of the book.”

As a matter of fact, in life and in the theosophical movement, all is not easy to understand.

One must take into consideration that Sylvia Cranston’s extraordinary biography of Helena Blavatsky[2] also got published in an independent way in the 1990s, although Sylvia Cranston was a lifelong associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists, whose ideals the Theosophy Co. exists to serve.

Jerome Anticipates the Future

Jerome Wheeler, the founding editor of “The Aquarian”, clearly foresaw the reasons to publish in an independent way the book in defence of H.P.B. and her teachings.  Eight years before the publication of “The Fire and Light”, which exposes the slanders against HPB, Jerome wrote to Carlos Cardoso Aveline and anticipated the need for self-sacrifice and firm determination.

Referring to the future volume, he said on 7 June 2005:


“This will most likely be published under the Aquarian Theosophy imprint. Fiduciary institutions tend to be gutless on matters such as this. Individuals have to freely give their blood, sweat & tears to the project. However, it probably will get a mention in the ULT-Day Letter, but it is very doubtful if Theosophy Company will get on the bandwagon.”

The ULT-Day Letters ceased to be published in 2011, two years before “The Fire” appeared.

A long-standing theosophist born in August 1935, Jerome Wheeler founded “The Aquarian” in November 2000.  In 2005, the journal started the project of a book in defense of HPB. Jerome worked for the project as long as he could, and left the task to other hands - for health reasons - in July 2006.

The Audacity of Defending Blavatsky

The project was initially devised to publish in paper the Letters of HPB, only leaving aside the infamously false texts fabricated as a way to slander her. Later on, however, it was seen that the volume should be more comprehensive in the way it dealt with the theosophical literature, authentic and false.

While a number of authentic Letters from HPB were published online [3], a much wider defense of the authentic literature was developed for the book in paper.

When “The Fire and Light” finally appeared in 2013, its language and style were condemned for “not being diplomatic enough”.  The book was said to be too blunt in the way it shows the editorial mistakes of some politically powerful “theosophists” who promote and protect slanders against Helena Blavatsky.

Criticism Against the Book

According to some friends, it is unkind and unbrotherly to show in public the frauds of those who attack the center of the aura of the theosophical movement with slanders covered in nice and politically correct wording.

As no one can forbid theosophists from defending the truth against slanderers, the accusers can only say that “The Fire and Light is too direct in style. “There should be less frankness in language”, they suggest in careful, indirect language. And although they seem to be wrong, we must examine the issue with an open mind.

How neutral and cold-blooded should one’s tone and language be, as one defends Helena Blavatsky from “theosophical” slanders? Is it one’s duty to abstain from saying the truth, in order not to offend disloyal people who happen to be politically influential?

As an answer to these questions, we might adopt HPB’s own words. She wrote:

“No ‘Cultured’ man or woman will ever show anger in Society. To check and restrain every sign of annoyance shows good manners, certainly, but also considerable achievement in hypocrisy and dissimulation. There is an occult side to this rule of good breeding expressed in an Eastern proverb: ‘Trust not the face which never shows signs of anger, nor the dog that never barks’. Cold-blooded animals are the most venomous.” [4]

Although “The Fire and Light” attacks no persons, it shows frauds and does not hide the names of those who are responsible for them. This is done out of respect for the readers. One must observe in public how editorial projects unfold. The teaching of HPB regarding editorial work is clear, and it inspires many around the world:

“Theosophists and editors of Theosophical periodicals are constantly warned, by the prudent and the faint-hearted, to beware of giving offence to ‘authorities’, whether scientific or social. Public Opinion, they urge, is the most dangerous of all foes. Criticism of it is fatal, we are told. Criticism can hardly hope to make the person or subject so discussed amend or become amended. Yet it gives offence to the many, and makes Theosophists hateful. ‘Judge not, if thou wilt not be judged’, is the habitual warning. It is precisely because Theosophists would themselves be judged and court impartial criticism, that they begin by rendering that service to their fellow-men. Mutual criticism is a most healthy policy, and helps to establish final and definite rules in life - practical, not merely theoretical. (.....) I maintain (......) that criticism is the great benefactor of thought in general; and still more so of those men who never think for themselves but rely in everything upon acknowledged ‘authorities’ and social routine.” [5]

It is useful to examine what Robert Crosbie, the main founder of the United Lodge of Theosophist in 1909, had to say about such a question.

It is the karma of everyone who defends truth to be accused of being "unbrotherly". Crosbie was attacked in the same way, and he wrote:

“You say that our attitude toward these things seems to many like ‘condemning’ others. It is the duty of esoteric students to unmask error and hypocrisy; to face lie with truth; not as personal criticisms but as facts against misstatements. It is assumed in charity that one who wrongs the Truth does so in ignorance; but the custodians of Truth voice it in the face of lie, ignorance and error, and take every opportunity possible to correct erroneous impressions. Theosophy is in the world for that purpose.”[6]

We sincerely thank our critics.

Right or wrong, fair or unjust, criticism helps us verify and evaluate our efforts, as we fulfil our duty. A frank diversity of views strengthens theosophical associations.  

NOTES:

[1]The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, Carlos Cardoso Aveline, The Aquarian Theosophist, Portugal, 2013, 255 pages.

[2]HPB - The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement”, by Sylvia Cranston, 648 pp., G.P. Putnam’s Book, New York, 1994.

[3] See for instance, in our associated websites, the two series of documents entitled “Letters Between Blavatsky and Judge” and “The ‘Judge’ Letters of H.P.Blavatsky”.

[4] In the article “From the Notebook of an Unpopular Philosopher”, by H.P. Blavatsky. It is available in our associated websites.

[5] From the text “In Defense of Criticism”, by H. P. Blavatsky, which can be seen in our websites. 

[6]Freedom From Pseudo-Theosophy”, by R. Crosbie. The article is published in our websites.  

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To know more on the preparation of “The Fire and Light”, see the first chapter of the book. Here is a 62 seconds video showing images of its printing in Portugal, in 2013:



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In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.  

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E-Theosophy e-group offers a regular study of the classic, intercultural theosophy taught by Helena P. Blavatsky (photo).


Those who want to join E-Theosophy e-group at YahooGroups can do that by visiting https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/E-Theosophy/info.

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