OLD DIARY LEAVES, Fifth Series (1893-96)
by Henry Steel Olcott
STATEMENT BY ANNIE BESANT
Read for the Information of Members at the
Third Session of the European Convention
of the T.S., July 12th, 1894
I speak to you to-night as the representative of the T.S. in Europe, and as the matter I have to lay before you concerns the deepest interests of the Society, I pray you to lay aside all prejudice and feeling, to judge by Theosophical standards and not by the lower standards of the world, and to give your help now in one of the gravest crises in which our movement has found itself. There has been much talk of Committees and Juries of Honour. We come to you, our brothers, to tell you what is in our hearts.
I am going to put before you the exact position of affairs on the matter which has been filling our hearts all day. Mr. Judge and I have agreed to lay two statements before you, and to ask your counsel upon them.
For some years past persons inspired largely by personal hatred for Mr. Judge, and persons inspired
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by hatred for the Theosophical Society and for all that it represents, have circulated a mass of accusations against him, ranging from simple untruthfulness to deliberate and systematic forgery of the handwritings of Those Who to some of us are most sacred. The charges were not in a form that it was possible to meet, a general denial could not stop them, and explanation to irresponsible accusers was at once futile and undignified.
Mr. Judge’s election as the future President of the Society increased the difficulties of the situation, and the charges themselves were repeated with growing definiteness and insistence, until they found expression in an article in The Theosophist signed by Messrs. Old and Edge. At last, the situation became so strained that it was declared by many of the most earnest members of the Indian Section that, if Mr. Judge became President with those charges hanging over him unexplained, the Indian Section would secede from the T .S. Representation to this effect was made to me, and I was asked, as well known in the world and the T.S. and as a close friend and colleague of Mr. Judge, to intervene in the matter.
I hold strongly that, whatever may be the faults of a private member, they are no concern of mine, and it is no part of my duty, as a humble servant of the Lords of Compassion, to drag my brother’s faults into public view, nor to arraign him before any tribunal. His faults and mine will find their inevitable harvest of suffering, and I am content to leave them to the
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Great Law, which judges unerringly and knits to every wrong its necessary sequence of pain.
But where the honour of the Society was concerned, in the person of its now second official and (as he then was thought to be) its President-elect, it was right to do what I could to put an end to the growing friction and suspicion, both for the sake of the Society and for that of Mr. Judge; and I agreed to intervene, privately, believing that many of the charges were false, dictated and circulated malevolently, that others were much exaggerated and were largely susceptible of explanation, and that what might remain of valid complaint might be put an end to without public controversy. Under the promise that nothing should be done further in the matter until my intervention had failed, I wrote to Mr. Judge. The promise of silence was broken by persons who knew some of the things complained of, and before any answer could be received by me from Mr. Judge, distorted versions of what had occurred were circulated far and wide. This placed Mr. Judge in a most unfair position, and he found my name used against him in connection with charges which he knew to be grossly exaggerated, where not entirely untrue.
Not only so, but I found that a public Committee of Enquiry was to be insisted on, and I saw that the proceedings would be directed in a spirit of animosity, add that the aim was to inflict punishment for wrongs believed to have been done, rather than to prevent future harm to the Society. I did my utmost to prevent a public Committee of Enquiry of an official
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character. I failed, and the Committee was decided on. And then I made what many of Mr. Judge’s friends think was a mistake. I offered to take on myself the onus of formulating the charges against him. I am not concerned to defend myself on this, nor to trouble you with my reasons for taking so painful a decision; in this decision, for which I alone am responsible, I meant to act for the best, but it is very possible I made a mistake—for I have made many mistakes in judgment in my life, and my vision is not always clear in these matters of strife and controversy which are abhorrent to me.
In due course I formulated the charges, and drew up the written statement of evidence in support of them. They came in due course before the Judicial Committee, as you heard this morning. That Committee decided that they alleged private, not official, wrong-doing, and therefore could not be tried by a Committee that could deal only with a President or Vice-President as such. I was admitted to the General Council of the T.S. when this point was argued, and I was convinced by that argument that the point was rightly taken. I so stated when asked by the General Council, and again when asked by the Judicial Committee. And this put an end to the charges so far as that Committee was concerned.
As this left the main issue undecided, and left Mr. Judge under the stigma of unproved and unrebutted charges, it was suggested by Mr. Herbert Burrows that the charges should be laid before a Committee
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of Honour. At the moment this was rejected by Mr. Judge, but he wrote to me on the following day, asking me to agree with him in nominating such a Committee. I have agreed to this, but with very great reluctance, for the reason mentioned above: that I feel it no part of my duty to attack any private member of the T.S., and I think such an attack would prove a most unfortunate precedent. But as the proceedings which were commenced against Mr. Judge as an official have proved abortive, it does not seem fair that I—responsible for those proceedings, by taking part in them—should refuse him the Committee he asks for.
But there is another way; which I now take, and which, if you approve it, will put an end to this matter; and as no theosophist should desire to inflict penalty for the past—even if he thinks wrong has been done—but only to help forward right in the future, it may, I venture to hope, be accepted.
And now I must reduce these charges to their proper proportions, as they have been enormously exaggerated, and it is due to Mr. Judge that I should say publicly what from the beginning I have said privately. The President stated them very accurately in his address to the Judicial Committee: the vital charge is that Mr. Judge has issued letters and messages in the script recognizable as that adopted by a Master with whom H. P. B. was closely connected,1 and that these letters
1Two scripts, not one only, in red and blue, purporting to be the handwriting of the two Masters, “M.” and “K. H.” appear in the material now at Adyar in connection with the charges against Mr. Judge.—C.J.
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and messages were neither written nor precipitated directly by the Master in whose writing they appear; as leading up to this there are subsidiary charges of deception, but these would certainly never have been made the basis of any action save for their connection with the main point.
Further, I wish it, to be distinctly understood that I do not charge and have not charged Mr. Judge with forgery in the ordinary sense of the term, but with giving a misleading material form to messages received psychically from the Master in various ways, without acquainting the recipients with this fact.
I regard Mr. Judge as an Occultist, possessed of considerable knowledge and animated by a deep and unswerving devotion to the Theosophical Society. I believe that he has often received direct messages, from the, Masters and from Their chelas, guiding and helping him in his work. I believe that he has sometimes received messages for other people in one or other of the ways that I will mention in a moment, but not by direct writing by the Master nor by his direct precipitation; and that Mr. Judge has then believed himself to be justified in writing down in the script adopted by H. P. B. for communications from the Master, the message psychically received, and in giving it to the person for whom it was intended, leaving that person to wrongly assume that it was a direct precipitation or writing by the Master himself—that is, that it was done through Mr. Judge, but done by the Master.
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Now personally I hold that this method is illegitimate and that no one should simulate a recognized writing which is regarded as authoritative when it is authentic. And by authentic I mean directly written or precipitated by the Master himself. If a message is consciously written, it should be so stated: if automatically written, it should be so stated. At least so it seems to me. It is important that the very small part generally played by the Masters in these phenomena should be understood, so that people may not receive messages as authoritative merely on the ground of their being in a particular script, Except in the very rarest instances, the Masters do not personally write letters or directly precipitate communications. Messages may be sent by them to those with whom they can communicate by external voice, or astral vision, or physic word, or mental impression, or in other ways. If a person gets a message which he believes to be from the Master, for communication to anyone else, he is bound in honour not to add to that message any extraneous circumstances which will add weight to it in the recipient’s eyes. I believe that Mr. Judge wrote with his own hand, consciously or automatically, I do not know, in the script adopted as that of the Master, messages which he received from the Master or from Chelas; and I know that, in my own case, I believed that the messages he gave me in the well-known script were messages directly precipitated or directly written by the Master. When I publicly said that I have received since H. P. Blavatsky’s death,
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letters in the writing H. P. Blavatsky had been accused of forging, I referred to letters given to me by Mr. Judge, and as they were in the well-known script, I never dreamt of challenging their source. I know now that they were not written or precipitated by the Master, and that they were done by Mr. Judge, but I also believe that the gist of these messages was psychically received, and that Mr. Judge’s error lay in giving them to me in a script written by himself and not saying that he had done so. I feel bound to refer to these letters thus explicitly, because having been myself mistaken, I in turn misled the public.
It should be generally understood inside and outside the Theosophical Society, that letters and messages may be written or may be precipitated in any script, without thereby gaining any valid authority. Scripts may be produced by automatic or deliberate writing with the hand, or by precipitation, by many agencies from the White and Black Adepts down to semi-conscious Elementals, and those who afford the necessary conditions can be thus used. The source of messages can only be decided by direct spiritual knowledge or, intellectually, by the nature of their contents, and each person must use his own powers and act on his own responsibility, in acccepting or rejecting them. Thus I rejected a number of letters, real precipitations, brought me by an American, not an F.T.S., as substantiating his claim to be H. P. B.’s successor. Any good medium may be used for precipitating messages by any of the varied entities in the occult world; and
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the outcome of these proceedings will be, I hope, to put an end to the craze for receiving letters and messages, which are more likely to be subhuman or human in their origin than superhuman, and to throw people back on the evolution of their own spiritual nature, by which alone they can be safely guided through the mazes of the superphysical world.
If you, representatives of the T.S., consider that the publication of this statement followed by that which Mr. Judge will make, would put an end to this distressing business, and by making a clear understanding, get rid at least of the mass of seething suspicions in which we have been living, and if you can accept it, I propose that this should take the place of the Committee of Honour, putting you, our brothers, in the place of the Committee. I have made the frankest explanation I can; I know how enwrapped in difficulty are these phenomena which are connected with forces obscure in their working to most; therefore, how few are able to judge of them accurately, while those through whom they play are always unable to control them. And I trust that these explanations may put an end to some at least of the troubles of the last two years, and leave us to go on with our work for the world, each in his own way. For any pain that I have given my brother, in trying to do a most repellent task, I ask his pardon, as also for any mistakes that I may have made.
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(The above statements as to precipitated, written and other communications have been long ago made by both H. P. Blavatsky and Mr. Judge, in Lucifer, The Path, and elsewhere, both publicly and privately.—A.B.
Note by Colonel Olcott: I cannot allow Mrs. Besant to take upon herself the entire responsibility for formulating the charges against Mr. Judge, since I myself requested her to do it. The tacit endorsement of the charges by persistence in a policy of silence, was an injustice to the Vice-President, since it gave him no chance to make his defence; while, at the same time, the widely-current suspicions were thereby augmented, to the injury of the Society. So, to bring the whole matter to light, I, with others, asked Mrs. Besant to assume the task of drafting and signing the charges. —H. S. O.)
STATEMENT BY MR. JUDGE
Since March last, charges have been going round the world against me, to which the name of Annie Besant has been attached, without her consent, as she now says, that I have been guilty of forging the names and handwritings of the Mahâtmâs and of misusing the said names and handwritings. The charge has also arisen that I suppressed the name of Annie Besant as mover in the matter from fear of the same. All
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this has been causing great trouble and working injury to all concerned, that is, to all our members. It is now, time that this should be put an end to, once for all, if possible.
I now state as follows:
1. I left the name of Annie Besant out of my published circular by request of my friends in the T.S. then near me, so as to save her and leave it to others to put her name to the charge. It now appears that if I had so put her name it would have run counter to her present statement.
2. I repeat my denial of the said rumoured charges of forging the said names and handwritings of the Mahâtmâs or of misusing the same.
3. I admit that I have received and delivered messages from the Mahâtmâs and assert their genuineness.
4. I say that I have heard and do hear from the Mahâtmâs, and that I am an agent of the Mahâtmâs; but I deny that I have ever sought to induce that belief in others, and this is the first time to my knowledge that I have ever made the claim now made I am pressed into the place where I must make it. My desire and effort have been to distract attention from such an idea as related to me. But I have no desire to make the claim, which I repudiate, that I am the only channel for communication with Masters; and it is my opinion that such communication is open to any human being who, by endeavouring to serve mankind, affords the necessary conditions.
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5. Whatever messages from the Mahâtmâs have been delivered by me as such—and they are extremely few—I now declare were and are genuine messages from the Mahâtmâs so far as my knowledge extends; they were obtained through me, but as to how they were obtained or produced I cannot state. But I can now again say, as I have said publicly before, and as was said by H. P. Blavatsky so often that I have always thought it common knowledge among studious theosophists, that precipitation of words or messages is of no consequence and constitutes no proof of connection with Mahâtmâs; it is only phenomenal and not of the slightest value.
6. So far as methods are concerned for the reception and delivery of messages from the Masters, they are many. My own methods may disagree from the views of others, and I acknowledge their right to criticize them if they choose; but I deny the right of anyone to say that they know or can prove the non-genuineness of such messages, to or through me unless they are able to see on that plane. I can only say that I have done my best to report—in the few instances when I have done it at all—correctly and truthfully such messages as I think I have received for transmission, and never to my knowledge have I tried therewith to deceive any person or persons whatever.
7. And I say that in 1893 the Master sent me a message in which he thanked me for all my work and exertions in the Theosophical field, and expressed satisfaction therewith, ending with sage advice to
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guard me against the failings and follies of my lower nature; that message Mrs. Besant unreservedly admits.
8. Lastly, and only because of absurd statements made and circulated, I willingly say that which I never denied, that I am a human being, full of error, liable to mistake, not infallible, but just the same as any other human being like to myself, or of the class of human beings like to myself, or of the class of human beings to which I belong. And I freely, fully and sincerely forgive anyone who may be thought to have injured or tried to injure me.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
Having heard the above statements, the following resolution was moved by Mr. Bertram Keightley, seconded by, Dr. Buck and carried nem con:
Resolved: that this meeting accepts with pleasure the adjustment arrived at by Annie Besant and William Q. Judge as a final settlement of matters pending hitherto between them as prosecutor and defendant, with the hope that it may be thus buried and forgotten, and
Resolved that we will join hands with them to further the cause of genuine, Brotherhood in which we all believe.
The following important results have come out of the above enquiry: “(a) The absolute neutrality of
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the Theosophical Society in all matters of personal belief, and, the perfect right of private judgment in religious, mystical, and other questions have been authoritatively and permanently declared by Executive affirmation, endorsement by the General Council, and confirmation by a Judicial Committee organized under the provisions of the Society’s Revised Rules, and composed of Delegates chosen by the existing three Sections as possessing their respect and confidence; (b) The authoritative and dogmatic value of statements as to the existence of Mahâtmâs, their relations with and messages to private persons, or through them to third parties, the Society or the general public, is denied; all such statements, messages or teachings are to be taken at their intrinsic value and the recipients left to form and declare, if they choose, their own opinions with respect to their genuineness: the Society, as a body, maintaining its constitutional neutrality in the premises.
“As to the disposal of the charges against the Vice-President, the report of the Judicial Committee gives all necessary information: the public statements of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge contained in the Appendix showing how the case stands. No final decision has been reached, since the defence of Mr. Judge precluded an enquiry into the facts, and it would not be constitutional for one to be made by any Committee, Council, or Branch of the Society. To undertake it would be a dangerous precedent, one which would furnish an excuse to try a member for holding to the dogmas of
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the sect to which he might belong. Generally speaking, the elementary principles of tolerance and brotherliness which are professed by all true Theosophists, teach us to exercise towards each other a generous charity and forgiveness for displays of those human imperfections which we all equally share.”
In view of my long and intimate acquaintance with Mr. Judge, all this revision of events is most disagreeable and I write without a shade of animosity, but since 1894 over 300 new Branches have been formed by us and our thousands of new colleagues are entitled to know the essential facts about the Great Secession of Mr. Judge.
Further consideration of this matter must be postponed until next month. 1
H. S. OLCOTT
1 [This appeared in the Theosophist for April, 1903.]