OLD DIARY LEAVES, Third Series (1883-87)
by Henry Steel Olcott
ESTABLISHING A BUDDHIST FLAG
THE American Consul sent me, on 5th February, a gentleman's visiting-card, which rolled back the panorama of my life, twenty-odd years, to the period of the American War of the Rebellion. It was that of a Mr. Miller, of Sacramento, who had been one of the clerks under me when I was attached to the War Department. A greater contrast between myself as I was then and now could not be imagined; and it was with a feeling of real pleasure that I called on my friend and his wife at their hotel, and, in the exchange of reminiscences about persons and things, the magic of memory brought up in my mind the long-hidden pictures of those awful days when our nation was fighting for its existence, and my hair was turning grey with the load of responsibility which was cast upon me by my official position. The chance of his voyage around the world having brought him to Colombo was grasped by our leading Buddhists to get from Mr. Miller, at first-hand, some details about my public record and private character at home, to serve as weapons of defence against the hostile parties in the Eastern pulpit and Press, who trod as near to the line of actionable slander as they dared, in their attacks
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upon our Society and its Founders. A great calamity impended, however, over the head of my friend, for within the next week his wife died at the hotel, and the Consul and I followed her remains to the grave.
It was at this time that our Colombo colleagues had the happy thought of devising a flag which could be adopted by all Buddhist nations as the universal symbol of their faith, thus serving the same purpose as that of the cross does for all Christians. It was a splendid idea, and I saw in a moment its far-reaching potentialities as an agent in that scheme of Buddhistic unity which I have clung to from the beginning of my connection with Buddhism. With the many points of dissemblance between Northern and Southern Buddhism, the work of unification was a formidable one; yet still, in view of the other fundamental features of agreement, the task was not hopeless. My Buddhist Catechism was already circulated in Japan in two translations, and now this flag came as a powerful reinforcement. Our Colombo brothers had hit upon the quite original and unique idea of blending in the flag the six colors alleged to have been exhibited in the aura of the Buddha, viz., sapphire-blue, golden-yellow, crimson, white, scarlet, and a hue composed of the others blended.1 The adoption of this model avoided all possible causes of dispute among Buddhists, as all, without distinction, accept the same tradition as to the Buddha's personal appearance and that of his aura:
1 In Pali the names of the colors are Nila, Pita, Lohita, Avadata, Mangasta, and Prabhasvara.
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moreover, the flag would have no political meaning whatever, but be strictly religious. As the Colombo Committee had sketched the flag, it was of the inconvenient shape of a ship's long, streaming pennant, which would be quite unsuitable for carrying in processions or fixing in rooms. My suggestion that it should be made of the usual shape and size of national flags was adopted, and when we had had a sample made, it was unanimously approved of. Accepted by the chief priests as orthodox, it at once found favor, and, on the Buddha's Birthday of that year, was hoisted on almost every temple and decent dwelling-house in the Island. From Ceylon it has since found its way throughout the Buddhist world. I was much interested to learn, some years later, from the Tibetan Ambassador to the Viceroy, whom I met at Darjeeling, that the colors were the same as those in the flag of the Dalai Lama.
The importance of the service thus rendered to the Buddhist nations may perhaps be measured with that of giving, say, to the Christians the Cross symbol or to the Moslems the Crescent. The Buddhist flag, moreover, is one of the prettiest in the world, the stripes being placed vertically in the order above written, and the sequence of the hues making true chromatic harmonies.
In pursuance of the policy of unity, I held a Convention in Colombo on 14th February (1885) to agree upon a line of action as regards the tour I had come to make in the interests of education and religion. Sumangala, Megittuwatte, and personal representatives
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of Wimelasara and Ambagahawatte were present, and we were able to come to a perfectly unanimous conclusion. Waskaduwe Subhuti, who was unavoidably absent, called on me the next day, and was, as usual, extravagantly liberal in promises and compliments.
On the 20th, in company with Messrs. Leadbeater, W. d'Abrew, Dharmapala, and my veteran Buddhist servant "Bob," I started in my travelling-cart for Negombo. But man proposes and God disposes, it is said, and I had my first and only serious attack of malarial fever since coming to the East. I could only lecture once, when we retraced our steps, and during the next fortnight Leadbeater had to do my work, while I lay abed and drank nasty herbal decoctions given me by a native doctor, that were enough to make a horse sick. I was out again on 5th March and took the platform at a place called Ratmalana. The tour in the Negombo district was resumed, and we visited the stations on our list, whose names may be judged from these few specimens: Pamankada, Hunupitiya, Naranpitiya, Wilawalla, Mokallangamuwa—which I commend to the managers of American "spelling bees" as good practice.
Returning from one of these outstations to Colombo, we held a bumper meeting at the Colombo Society's Headquarters, and broached the scheme of placing small earthen collecting-pots at private houses, into which the family and their friends should drop as many coppers as they felt they could afford in aid of the Buddhist National Fund. The packed audience
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responded fervently to Leadbeater's and my appeals, and fifty names were given in by persons who were willing to take pots. Our zealous brothers of the Colombo Society, accordingly, had a number of these money-pots made at a pottery, and, putting them into a cart, went through the streets of Colombo and distributed them. They would stop from time to time, call the neighbors around, make them a stirring address, and give pots to all who asked for them. Within the next twelvemonth a sum of about Rs. 1,000 was thus collected, if my memory serves me.
The cocoanut palm has been the theme of hundreds of poets, for it is one of the most beautiful objects of the vegetable kingdom. But to see it as we saw it on the night of 23rd March, at Ooloombalana, on the estate of Messrs. Pedalis de Silva and R. A. Mirando, was to take into the memory a picture that could never fade. The stars shone silvery in the azure sky, and in the extensive cocoanut grove many bonfires had been built to protect the fruit from the depredations of thieves. The effect of these lights upon the enamelled surfaces of the huge fronds was marvellously artistic. Their lower surfaces were brought out into high relief, and, standing at the foot of a tree and looking upward, one could see the great circle of starstudded sky that was opened out by the outspringing footstalks, while, as the wind shook the fronds, their spiky points would wave up and down and bend sidewise and back again, so that the hard, smooth, emerald-hued upper surfaces would glint and sparkle in the yellow
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glare of the fires. It was one of the most entrancing pictures I ever saw in my life. Our pitched cart with its white tent-top, the white oxen, our camp-fire, and our group of persons, were vividly lighted up, and I could not but fancy what an exquisite painting Salvator Rosa would have made of the quiet scene.
We entered the village of Madampe with a great procession that had come to meet us, and made noise enough with their barbaric tom-toms and horns to frighten away all the pisâchas within the circuit of five miles. Of course, our public lecture was attended by a huge crowd, who displayed much enthusiasm. Leadbeater, who is now working in America, will doubtless be entertained by these notes of our associated tourings. I doubt, however, his recalling with pleasure the trip from Madampe to Mahavena, in a country cart without springs, over a fearfully rough road, on which we got, as Horace Greeley did over a Kansas railroad, more exercise to the mile than was good for the soul. Every bone in our bodies was shaken up so as to make us painfully conscious of its anatomical position, while, as for poor Leadbeater, he suffered agony with his weak back. However, we came out of the experience alive, and that was something.
At one village, which I shall not name, we found the Buddhist killers of animals for food and drinkers and vendors of arrack—a pretty mess indeed—quite after the Indian Christian model. Well, it may be safely said that I walked into them in my discourse, citing the Silas to show what a real Buddhist should
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be, and pointing to what they were. The very head man whose hospitality was offered us was an arrackrenter, and fish-catching and selling was the order of the day. In defining Nirvana and the Path towards it, I gave them one and all to understand, on the authority of Lord Buddha Himself, that if they imagined that they could get to Nirvana with a jug of arrack in one hand and a string of fish in the other, they were mightily mistaken: they had better go over to the Christians at once if they believed that, for fishing and arrack-drinking put a man quite outside the pale of Buddhism!
On 7th April we closed the tour and started back for Colombo, but in the night our driver, having fallen asleep, dropped from his seat, and the bulls drew the heavy cart over his foot, so my servant "Bob," who was up to any emergency, took his place and brought us at 3 a.m. to the house of our good friend Hendrik Aracchi, where we stopped until 9 o'clock the next morning and then proceeded on towards home. We got to the Headquarters at 3 p.m., and I went at once to my desk to deal with arrears of work.
Sunday, 11th April, being the Sinhalese New Year's Day, Leadbeater and I and others went to Kelanie temple, a very sacred shrine, a few miles from Colombo, to offer flowers and address the multitude. It was an animated scene indeed, what with the crowds of worshippers, the flower offerings before the images of Lord Buddha, the babel of chattering voices, the drawling intonations of the Five Precepts by the priests, and the
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full roar of repetitions by the people, the thousands of little lamps alight around the Bo trees, dagobas, and buildings, and the general stir and bustle. Buddhist "worship" is simplicity itself. The pilgrim, carrying flowers of the lotus, lily, champak, and other sweet-smelling plants and trees, doffs his sandals at the threshold of the house of statues, holds his joined palms to his forehead, lays the flowers on a marble slab before the image, bends his body reverentially, pronounces a phrase or two of the sacred teachings, and then quietly retires to give place to the next comer. That is all, and what could be simpler or more unobjectionable? The image is not worshipped; the devotee offers his fragrant blooms to the ideal of the world-savior, Gautama Buddha, whom he professes to follow in the Eightfold Path (Aryastanga Marga) which He traced out for all men, and whom he holds enshrined in his heart of hearts. The Buddhist monk is no mediator, his prayers can do nobody good save himself, and then only as practically worked into his daily life, thought, and conversation. The Tathâgata was a man who, through countless rebirths, had at last reached the goal of Wisdom and Divine Powers, and who had preached the doctrine that Nirvana was attainable by all men who would profit by His discoveries and walk in the path of good and wise men. No infallibility had He claimed, no dogma enforced on assumed authority of divine inspiration. He had taught in the Kalama Sutta, on the contrary, as I have above noted, that one should believe nothing taught by a sage, written in a
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book, handed down by tradition, or supposedly proved by analogy, unless the thing taught was supported by human experience. Full of compassion for all beings, moved to heartbreaking by the volume of human woe, He had voluntarily taken rebirth after rebirth to learn more and more, develop more and more His insight, and gradually fit Himself to be the Leader of ignorant mankind out of the quagmire of Ignorance on to the firm ground of Truth. One has only to mix with such a crowd as we saw at Kelanie to realise how deep is the devotion and love for the Buddha in the hearts of His followers of to-day, ignorant, and petty, and backward in civilisation as they may be.
The next important public work that I had to take up was the reorganisation, on a stronger basis, of the Buddhist Defence Committee, a body which—as may be remembered—we formed in 1884, when I was leaving for London, to represent certain grievances of the Ceylon Buddhists to Lord Derby, the Conlonial Secretary. The results of the Colombo Riots of that year, when a peaceable Buddhist procession was murderously attacked by Roman Catholics, showed the necessity for some permanent committee which should be the channel through which the community might transmit their petitions to Government and secure redress for grievances. Until then, the Sinhalese had had no organisation of a national character, and, consequently, no semblance of public opinion that carried any weight. To the Theosophical Society is due the state of affairs now prevalent, viz., a Committee
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of Defence and a popular newspaper, circulating throughout the Island and even reaching those who live in the most distant countries as merchants, servants, or in other bread-winning capacities. The remodelled Committee, formed on 18th April, 1885, had the High Priest Sumangala as Honorary President and the most influential laics as active members. I was elected an Honorary Member, and have had frequent occasion to assist with counsel and otherwise my co-religionists. The remaining few days of my stay in the Island were taken up with business in Colombo, and on the 26th I sailed for Madras on the "Chindwara", on board which comfortable ship I found in the Captain and other officers old "shipmates" of former voyages in Indian waters. During the tour I lectured thirty-two, and Leadbeater twenty-nine, times; tours were made among the villages of the Western and North-Western Provinces; several hundred rupees were collected for the National Fund; a new Sinhalese edition of 5,000 copies of the Buddhist Catechism and 2,000 of Mr. Leadbeater's Sisya Bodhya, or elementary Catechism, were published; the accounts of the Colombo Buddhist Theosophical Society, and of our vernacular paper, the Sandaresa, were overhauled and audited; subscriptions amounting to Rs. 3,000 were collected towards the cost of Headquarters' buildings; the Defence Committee was permanently organised; and, last but not least, the Buddhist Flag was devised, improved, and adopted. A fair show of work, one would say. I returned alone, as it was
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arranged that Mr. Leadbeater should stay as my local representative and take the general supervision of Buddhist (secular) affairs.
I found all well on reaching home on 5th May, and dropped at once into work. T. Subba Row came to see me on the next day, and we had a long talk about H. P. B. and the project of her return to India. For some reason his feelings towards her had entirely changed; he was now positively inimical, and protested that she should not be recalled for another year or two, so as to give time for the public animosity to subside, and avoid the scandal that would be caused by the Missionaries setting on again the Coulombs to sue her for libel. His views were shared by only a few of our members, however, the great majority inclining towards her return as soon as her health should be sufficiently restored to permit it. Subba Row came again a few days later, bringing with him a letter from one of our Indian members, in which was found, on opening it, a postscript in blue pencil, in the K. H. handwriting.
After showing me it, he re-mailed it to his correspondent, asking him if the blue writing was in the letter before it left him. His reply came in due course and—to me at least—was unsatisfactory. At about this time some man in Northern India was advertising widely in the papers that he had been allowed to photograph Mahatma K. H. in the Tibetan Borderland, and that he would sell copies at two rupees each. Of course, we knew that it must be an impudent swindle and did not send for a copy, but one was sent me by a
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friend, and it was far worse than even we had expected. Instead of the Master's Christlike face, this was the picture of a brutalised Dugpa lama, with his paraphernalia of human leg-bone pipe, drinking-cup made of a skull, coarse red dress, peaked red cap, and heavy rosaries. It was like a personal insult to me, who had seen the real Personage face to face, talked with him, and seen the spiritual radiance which lights up the countenances of the Wise Ones. No doubt the scoundrelly speculator made a good thing of his photograph, and much good may the money have done him!
On the 24th several of us attended the wedding of one of our younger Madrassi members, Mr. Ramanjulu Naidu, and were much amused by the performances of a buffoon, who, with a simple bit of betel-leaf held by his two hands to his lips, imitated the singing and whistling of various birds, and, by breathing through his nose, the sounds of brass and stringed instruments. He also caricatured cleverly a missionary trying to preach in Tamil, a European scolding his servant, and some types of Hindu character that one meets from time to time in social intercourse.
A most sad case of the suicide of a young lad, the son of beloved European friends of ours, was reported to me in this month. He was only about twelve or fourteen years of age, had a happy and luxurious home, and parents who loved him dearly; his father was in a position to ensure him just such a career in life as he might have preferred. But suddenly, without provocation, he shot himself dead in his own room.
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This was not all; his brother had done the same, at about the same age, in the same house, a year or two before. The two events seem to have been related, and it is an interesting problem what peculiar Karma could have made it necessary that these two bright, affectionate lads should have taken their own lives at the same age, and thus have wrenched with a double agony the hearts of their noble parents. Can anyone imagine my happiness in hearing from the dear mother that, but for the support and consolation of Theosophy, she should in all probability have gone mad? The complete realisation of the truth of the theory of Karma dried her unavailing tears and calmed her affrighted soul. How admirably has Mr. Fullerton stated the case for the beneficent and consolatory working out of karmic results, in his pamphlet, Theosophy in Practice, and Consolations of Theosophy! If these parents suffered, it was no accident, no "mysterious Providence" that caused it, but they themselves: of what they had sown long before, they now reaped the harvest.
"The father, in some past time, when himself a father, had made life bitter to his children, or had been unsympathetic to those dependent on him, and had then formed a record which had to be expiated later on. Then the conditions were reversed, and the iron which he had driven into the souls of the helpless is now driven into his own. The pain is hard to bear, yet he knows that thus only can atonement be made, the debt to Justice be wiped out, the future freed from
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anxiety and sorrow. And so he becomes reconciled to an expiation which is reassuring, and is consoled at the thought that he has but brought upon himself what he deserved, etc."
This would explain why these two entities, self-doomed by self-generated Karmas to suicide in boyhood, had drifted into this particular family circle to take birth. The antecedent karmic tie between them brought it about that one should first, rush into Kamaloka, and then hypnotically draw his companion culprit along the same dark path. As for the present mother of them, if there was ever a woman and mother more lovable, I have never seen her. But that she had done something in a past life to draw upon herself the suffering resulting from such a tragedy is plain enough, if we live in a world of balanced cause and effect, and are not the sport of devils and astral tramps.
In an earlier chapter I have noted a peculiar case of family Karma that came under my notice in Northern India. Two sons of a respectable and healthy family had each been stricken with paralysis on attaining his twelfth year. When I saw them, one was fourteen, the other twelve years old; and although I had cured some two hundred paralytics by my curative passes I could do nothing for these poor lads: evidently it was their Karma to suffer in this way, and their cases were incurable.
The book of Adolphe d' Assier on the state of man after death 1 pleased me so much that I asked and,
1 L' Humanitté Posthume.
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in due course, obtained his permission to bring out an English edition with annotations of my own. I began the task on 27th May (1886), and, with intervals of other duties attended to, finished it on June 24th. It was published in a neat form by Mr. Redway, and had a gratifying success. To my mind, it is one of the most useful books of reference in our occult literature, especially so because of the author's having been a Comtist, and having led us, as it were, past the tomb, into the shadowland. That he deserts us midway through the gloom, matters not; he has at least disposed of the objectors in his old party who refused to stir one step beyond the sill of the door of the sepulchre.
On 6th June the Council met and approved of my plan for the organisation of an American Board of Control to have charge of our movement in the United States of America. Shortly after, however, a quarrel sprang up between Mr. Judge and Dr. Coues, the latter wanting to be appointed President for life of the American Section—an anomaly, since a Society can have but one head if it be really an entity, or corporate body. He wrote H. P. B. and myself the most fantastical, self-adulatory letters, in which gross flattery was mingled with boasting and peppered with covert threats. He explained to us how he played upon the American public, now exciting its curiosity and wonder, anon destroying its hopes of ever solving the mystery which he was hiding from the profane. In short, he gave me the impression that he was a most dangerous and undesirable man to have dealings with; and when
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he had brought things to a certain point, I got the Council to agree to dissolve the American Board of Control and replace it by a sectional form of organisation, based on purely republican lines, and having in itself the elements of stability. How well the scheme worked, under Mr. Judge's direction, is now a matter of history. Dr. Coues was ultimately expelled from our membership.
A letter came to me from Bombay, from Tookaram Tatya, which gave us all a great surprise. On the first page he writes feelingly about the disappearance of Damodar and of our not knowing whether he was dead or alive. On the second page, left blank, I found a long message from Mahatma K. H., or at any rate in his familiar script, giving me full information in answer to Tookaram's plaint. Damodar, it said, was alive and safe; he had tried to pass through a terrible ordeal of initiation, but had failed through physical weakness; he would, however, ultimately succeed. The time had come for us all to realise that there was an inexorable law of Karma and act accordingly. The tone of the message was admirable, and I felt rejoiced to see its stern reminder of our personal accountability: it seemed the harbinger of better days, the knell of sham holiness, of which there had been too much. I re-posted the letter to Tookaram, and asked what he knew about it, as Subba Row had in the previous instance. He answered in a letter, received on the 17th of that month, expressing his real joy over the occurrence, and telling me how other
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leading men of ours shared his feelings. As H. P. B. was in Europe and Damodar in Tibet, this phenomenon could not be attributed to them by even their most dishonest critics.
The news from Europe was now cheering. At the head of our movement in France we had a gifted and extremely able man, M. Louis Dramard, who, most unfortunately for us, went into a rapid consumption a little later, and died just when a field for unlimited usefulness was opening before him. Had he lived, we should have had, within the next five years, a very large following among the higher class of French Socialists, of whom Bernard Malon and Dramard, pure altruists, were types. Even as it is, we have members in the National Assembly—or had, at all events, three years ago, when I was last in Paris. The fact is, this pollen of Theosophy has been wafted all over the world, and fructified thought-seeds in thousands of brains that the world does not suspect of such affinities. When Tennyson died, a copy of The Voice of the Silence lay by his bedside on the night-table, and more than one royal personage has our books on the shelves of his private library. And why not? Thoughts are things, and great thoughts more potent than the most absolute monarch on earth: before their majesty even he had to bow in reverence. Cry out, then, O warders on the walls of our citadel! for the wind will waft your call to the ears of those whose clairaudient sense is waiting to hear it, and whose hour of Karma has struck.
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A letter from H. P. B., about the writing of The Secret Doctrine, that I have just come across, is so suggestive that I shall use it in, this place. She says:
"Sinnett has left, after stopping with me three weeks, and Mrs. . . . remains for ten days more. She is very kind, and copies for me The Secret Doctrine. The enormous (volume) of Introductory Stanzas, the first chapter on the Archaic Period and Cosmogony, with numberless appendices, is ready; but how to send it to Adyar? Suppose it is lost! I do not remember one word of it, and so we would be cooked! Well, old boy, Z. has read it through twice and begun again for the third time. He has not found one part to be corrected in the English, and he is amazed, he says, at the 'gigantic erudition and the soundness of reasoning in its showing of the esotericism of the Bible and its incessant parallels with the Vedas, Brahmanas, etc.' This is a little more wonderful yet than Isis. Then you corrected, and Wilder suggested. Now, I am absolutely alone, with my arm-chair and inkstand before me, and no books to speak of. I wrote a whole section and the interpretation of a whole stanza (about 40 pages), without any books around me, and without stopping, for about four hours, simply listening. This is no humbug, old boy, anyhow."
Now for a coincidence. As I write, among the exchanges laid on my table is the copy of The Banner of Light for February 25th (1899), in which appears an article entitled, "Was Talmage Inspired?" and apparently from the pen of the editor. It. says:
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"Many of our readers will remember a poem published some months ago in The Banner, entitled, ‘The Stage of Life,’ by Madge York. This poem was received, laboriously spelled out word by word, on the Ouija board, by a gentleman, who, though not widely known in spiritualistic circles, has been singularly blessed in his own medial powers. A year ago last summer the editor was informed by this gentleman that he had received another most remarkable communication on the Ouija board, of many pages in length, concerning occupations in spirit-life. He and a friend sat several evenings to receive it, one transferring the words to paper, and the other furnishing the power with which the intelligence guided the pointer to the letters. Oftentimes a word was spelled over and over again in order that there might be no mistake. Being uncertain regarding many historical characters referred to, the gentleman sat up nearly the whole of one night verifying by the encyclopaedia names and statements given. In every instance he found them absolutely correct.
"While the communication was received in response to queries and a personal desire for knowledge, he yet felt that the information was given for the benefit of others as well as himself, and fully intended some time to share it with the world. He hesitated to do so because of the assurance that the message was not quite completed. In the meantime he read it to many friends. About a year and a half ago he took it to a typewriter in New York and had it copied. Lawyers, merchants,
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and prominent business men read the document, or heard it read, and speculated as to its source.
"We now come to the strange part of our narrative. On January 22, 1899, Rev. T. De Witt Talmage delivered from his pulpit in Washington, D.C., a sermon entitled, 'What Are Our Departed Friends Doing Now?' taking his text from Ezekiel i: 'Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened.'
"This sermon was reported by the Washington Post, copied by The Progressive Thinker last week, and will appear in the next issue of The Banner of Light. Excepting the introduction, certain other embellishments, and an orthodox coloring given by the brain through which it passed, the sermon is identical with the communication received on the Ouija board two years previously by our friend. Whole paragraphs are the same, without the variation of a word.
"From whence came the inspiration? The gentleman tells us he did not request the name of the intelligence who gave him such rich spiritual food. He does not care to have his name published at present, but he will communicate by letter with any who wish to verify the above, and will furnish them with the names and addresses of the typewriter and others who will cheerfully testify."
Every experienced occultist who reads this must see the bearing the case has upon the whole question of H. P. B.'s alleged plagiarisms. In the most merciless
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and savage manner her books have been dissected by her evil-wishers, and on the strength of their containing a large number of citations from other authors without giving credit, she has been charged with wilful and dishonorable plagiarism. Some of these traducers have, themselves, been Spiritualists of many years' experience with mediums and their phenomena, who ought, therefore, to have known that we have not yet learnt the secret of thought-currents on the several planes of mentality. Not one of them is able to explain the simultaneous or almost simultaneous discovery of scientific truths by students far removed from each other and not in mutual communication, or the putting of the same ideas into books issued at about the same time in different parts of the world.1 Presumably, not one of H. P. B.'s cruel critics would venture to say that Mr. Talmage had plagiarised his sermon from an unpublished mediumistic message two years after it
1 Just while I am writing, the current issue of the Bombay Gazette publishes the following paragraph:
"It is a singular fact (says a correspondent) that at the time of the publication of Kipling's first ‘Jungle Book,' Mr. Fred Whishaw actually had a Jungle Book of his own ready for publication. The coincidence was complete, for Mr. Whishaw had used the names of animals and animal expressions in much the same manner as Kipling had done. Suddenly the latter's ‘Jungle Book’ was announced, and albeit this incident happened several years ago, Mr. Whishaw cannot be persuaded to place his own work upon the market. It is among the most singular of literary coincidences. He has the manuscript still."
Which plagiarised from the other? Again: In 1842 Dr. J. R. Buchanan, then of Louisville, Ky. and Mr. J. B. W. S. Gardner, of Roche Court, Rants, England, acting independently of one another, announced their discovery of the power to suspend or excite cerebral organs by mesmeric action. Which plagiarised!
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was received by the medium, read by his friends, and, so far as appears, never brought to Mr. Talmage's notice. If, therefore, he is to be given the benefit of the doubt, why should less kindness be used in the case of H. P. B.? One can see, from the instance under notice, that H. P. B. may not have been guilty of a single conscious plagiarism in the writing of either of her greater books, but that she may have spiritually drawn them direct, or received them at second hand spiritually, from that great storehouse of human thought and mental products, the Astral Light, where, as drops are merged in the ocean, personal begetters of thought are lost in the totality of the Infinite Mind, save to those most advanced Intelligences who can count the sand-grains and the ocean-drops and pick out the atoms in their respective vortices. In her letter to me H. P. B. cites the fact of Mr. Z. having sat with her for hours while she was transcribing what was spoken to her clairaudient sense by a Master, invisible to him but seen by herself. The reader will find in the second volume of this Series (p. 466) my description of her method of writing from the dictation of an invisible Teacher as I myself saw it at Ootacamund. This very same thing I saw unnumbered times while she was writing Isis Unveiled: I have described it exactly as it occurred, 1 and quoted her own description of the process in a letter to her sister; it agrees perfectly with what she writes me as having occurred at Ostende. Shall we call this phenomenon plagiarism, then, or
1 Cf. OLD DIARY LEAVES, vol. i, p. 242.
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shall we not modestly confess our ignorance of that most awe-inspiring fact of the transmission of thought-vibrations from man to man physical, man to man spiritual, and man spiritual to man physical; its laws, its limitations, and its potentialities?