Examining a Book Which Is
A Pot-Pourri of Truth and Lies
The following article was first published at the
Canadian international magazine FOHAT in its Fall
2005 edition, pp. 58-59, and then at “The Aquarian
Theosophist”, in the edition dated December 2005,
pages 14-16. The text makes an evaluation of the
book “The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky”,
by Daniel Caldwell (Theosophical Publishing
House, T.P.H. / Quest Books, USA, 2000, 452 pp.).
Jerome Wheeler is the founding-editor of “The Aquarian
Theosophist”. He makes a fine examination of the editorial
style followed by those who attack both Theosophy and H.P.
Blavatsky from inside the theosophical movement.
The pot-pourri of lies and truth which Daniel Caldwell has served up to the public entitled “The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky”, needs a few comments to warn the unwary. This book has items by Emma Coulomb, Moncure D. Conway, Solovyoff, and Richard Hodgson scattered in its pages, usually WITH NO WARNING; as if this batch of known liars were presenting a truthful picture of Madame Blavatsky’s so-called milieu, or soirées.
Mr. Caldwell is very careful to tell us about what animated him, and uses H.P.B.’s advice as a cover for his policy:
“. . . Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Theosophist”, July, 1881, p.218)
He even adds that he wants the reader to be able to compare notes and hear both sides. What is wrong with that?
Daniel is proud to say he “CHOSE” the enemies and liars found in his book; that moreover he did this as a way of creating contrast and thereby arriving at the truth.
But does the use of evidence in the book actually support this claim?
From the dust jacket onward the volume takes a parlor-game approach to Madame Blavatsky’s life. The reader is treated to phenomena, phenomena, and more phenomena until he is transformed into a veritable thaumaturgical sot, drunk on the wonders of his emotional thirst for marvels.
Emma Coulomb’s disgusting description of the Master is presented with the casual almost offhand comment that it was untrue. Then why present it!!
Again and again similar incidents of known liars are presented as they were respectable sources of evidence, though eventually proven untrue.
If you go to the biography “H. P. B. , The Extraordinary Life . . .”, by Sylvia Cranston, a heavily documented volume, and look up words like, Coulomb, Conway, Solovyoff, etc. you will see that Daniel Caldwell is using these insertions as a way of poisoning the well of available information, of destroying by innuendo - partly by what he uses for insertions, partly by what he chooses to leave out.
Remember, Daniel is presumably following H.P.B.’s advice that -
“Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision.”
OK, but is the reader getting an honest contrast, or a Hall of Mirrors?
If an editor inserts a single sentence in the beginning of his book that he will be presenting the views of both enemies and friends, but usually does NOTHING to say which is which as the items actually turn up, is the editor presenting contrast or confusion?
What about the readers? You who have read this book, have you found a page of philosophy? Has Daniel treated you to H.P.B.’s two-page article describing the rise and fall of phenomena as part of his contrast¸ so that you, the reader, can hear both sides? In fact, good reader, did you run across any ethics? Did Daniel carefully leave out of his book those incidents of phenomena that would show CONTRAST, that would give another view of this Spiritual Teacher than that presented by the Conways and the Coulombs - something beyond growing tea-cups and catching letters?
What about the way Madame Blavatsky made her voyage to America? In steerage! In the 19th century only cattle, slaves and immigrants traveled steerage. Was it a normal nightmare, or an unusually bad one - this steerage trip?
According to Lloyd’s of London it was an unusually trying voyage. What about the reason she purchased her steerage ticket?
When purchasing her first-class ticket, H.P.B. noticed a woman in tears. On asking the problem she discovered that the lady had been sold bogus tickets. Thereupon H.P.B. exchanged her first-class ticket for steerage tickets for herself and the woman with children. Arriving in New York without money H.P.B. used her artistic talents to survive, making ties and artificial flowers.
The ethical CONTRAST is left in the shade. Hearing both sides is inconvenient when it lends wings to the eagle.
In fact, the greatest phenomena if you are thirsty for real occult phenomena rather than the type presented in this book is the Theosophical Philosophy. The 18 and plus books written and published by Madame Blavatsky in 15 years, saving millions of people from skeptical disbelief and the jungle of conflicting religions is a phenomenon of the first order.
Did Caldwell recount to you the mysterious phenomena that occurred when H.P.B. was forced out of India by the betrayal of Col. Olcott  and other fair-weather friends? On the voyage to Italy the Masters went into high gear on behalf of their betrayed, almost dead, but doggedly loyal AGENT. For you see, good reader, ingratitude is not one of their vices. Every morning sheaves of MSS  for the forthcoming Secret Doctrine were appearing on her work area - an area quite bare on retiring.
A book of this type does not create CONTRAST or aid one to hear both sides of the story. On the contrary, by ignoring the ethical and the philosophical, you create a poison stream for future pilgrims, and leave us in a HALL OF MIRRORS. Every circus has one. They are built by the misuse of contrast.
The dust jacket of “The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky” carries a quote from the well-known lecturer and editor Joy Mills, as one supporting its publication. If this is so, I can only conclude that she has not read the contents. If she has, are we to conclude that this past-president of the American T.S. supports the practice of mixing lies with truths? Mr. Algeo, the immediate past-president, has also issued a similar volume of lies mixed in with truths. Is this to be standard practice in the future for a Society whose motto is “There is no religion higher than Truth”?
Truth cannot be permanently stifled by such one-sided efforts. The transmission of real theosophy will continue as the new cycle gains strength with every passing day. The detractors may throw up a smoke-screen, BUT THEY CANNOT STOP IT. Those who planted the causative seed for this new beginning were far too wise to be hood-winked by the “money-changers.”
Mr. Crosbie pointed out, in one of his letters, this age-old process of destruction from within:
“The article made me think of the way the Jesuits side-tracked Masonry. They entered it, obtained its secrets, invented ‘higher degrees’ to draw attention from what lay hidden in the original ones, and gradually made it innocuous and incapable of leading to the knowledge that they feared. Much that is going on and has gone on in the . . . . . society has the appearance of leading into innocuous desuetude. This is the mode of working of Brahmano-Jesuitical forces, and the ordinary thinker is unable either to perceive, or credit it if warned. It is not believed that there are Dark Forces and their agents in the world, and that they war within that which they would destroy; that they dress themselves up in ‘sheep’s clothing’ so as to be unsuspected.” (“The Friendly Philosopher”, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, p. 161)
In the forthcoming volume (.....)  to be issued by the HPB Defense Fund, there will be a warning to serious students about such dishonest methods of slanting history to suit one’s own prejudices.
 Or in Colonel Olcott’s own words: “She kept urging me to take her to a judge, or solicitor, or barrister, no matter which, for her to file her affidavit and begin our action [against the Coulombs], but I positively refused (.....). She fretted and stormed and insisted, but I would not stir from my position, and, when she threatened to go by herself and ‘wipe this stain off her character,’ I said that I should, in any case, resign my office and let the Convention decide between us.” (“Old Diary Leaves”, by Henry S. Olcott, T.P.H., India, third series, pp. 197-198.)
Vernon Harrison, of the Society of Psychical Research, summed up the betrayal most succinctly, a century later. In discussing the decision not to initiate a court case against the Coulombs, Dr. Harrison remarks that he cannot exonerate them [the delegates at the 1883 convention] from failing “to allow their founder [a] fair defense. They seemed concerned only with saving their own reputations. Whether she was impostor or not, HPB was entitled to a fair hearing. She never had it. Had she been allowed the legal and expert help she begged for, both Hodgson and the Society for Psychical Research would have been in dire trouble,” and the Coulombs too. (“J’Accuse: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885,” an essay by Vernon Harrison, at the “Journal of the Society for Psychical Research”, April 1986, p. 309.) (J. Wheeler)
 According to Dr. Hartmann and those traveling with her. (J. Wheeler)
 Note by the editor: We have updated this 2005 sentence. “Forthcoming volume” is a reference to the book then intended as a defence of H. P. B., and which was published in October 2013 by “The Aquarian Theosophist” under the title of “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”. (CCA)
On the defence of H. P. Blavatsky and the difference between truth and falsehood in the esoteric movement, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.