FOOTNOTES TO “A GLANCE AT THEOSOPHY FROM OUTSIDE”
[Lucifer, Vol. III, No. 14, October, 1888, pp. 137-142]
[James A. Campbell, a broad-minded Spiritualist, contributes a friendly article in which he gives a general appraisal of the work of the Theosophical Society, the character of H.P. Blavatsky, and the basic ideas of Theosophy. Several footnotes are appended to various passages in his article, as shown within square brackets in what follows.]
[. . .in Philosophy and Religion, no less than in prize-fighting, it is important to have a good mob-backing.]
And the changing of water into wine: was this no more dignified a “miracle,” also for “mob-backing”? For simple, honest folk, elementary phenomena; for the Gamaliels, philosophy.
[ . . . . however reprehensible it may be to become . .a miracle-worker. . . . . .for the sake of a philosophical al Idea. . . .]
No true theosophist—the accused party least of all—believes in miracles, though every true theosophist ought to believe in the existence of` abnormal powers in man; "abnormal" because, so far, either misunderstood or denied. All such objective physical phenomena, however, are simply psychological “glamour,” i.e., if not witchery, at least “a charm on the eyes and senses.” This, people
may call brutally “trick,” but since they are psychic, they cannot be physical: hence, no conjuring or “sleight of hand.” As well call “tricksters” the grave medical celebrities, who hypnotize their subjects to see things which have no reality! “Theosophical phenomena” differ from these in this: that while hypnotic hallucinations are suggested by the operator’s idle fancy, occult manifestations are produced by the will of the Occultist, that one or a hundred men should see realities, generally hidden from the profane, e.g., certain things and persons thousands of miles away, whose astral images are brought within the view of the audience. Thus a cup may never have been broken in reality, and yet people are made to see it shattered in atoms and then made whole. Is this a juggler’s trick? Occult phenomena are then simply a hundred-fold intensified hypnotism, and between the hypnotic hallucinations at the Salpêtrière and the magic of the East there is chiefly a question of degree.
[Appended to an enumeration of various cultural activities of the Society]
Why omit that branch of our work, which many deem the noblest, the founding of an Oriental Library which may become the most valuable in India, if present appearances arc not deceptive; the opening of many Sanskrit schools; the publication of the Vedas in the original tongue? And why not mention our several charitable dispensaries, where from 10,000 to 15,000 poor patients are annually treated free of any charge?
[As regards metaphysical infallibility. . . .with evolution, etc., etc. . . . . to start with, a little subtle and diligent interweaving by an educated Hindu, or a speculative Scotchman, would bring something very similar to birth in a year.]
Then why has no one of them done so, before us? Moreover, no one, as far as we know, has ever claimed metaphysical infallibility—not even the Masters who do not demand from the Europeans even their due—a simple recognition of their wisdom.
[Theosophy warns us away from absorption in common life, just as fervently as does Buddhism or monkish Christianity.]
So does it, also, warn us against ascetic retirement, save in those very rare and exceptional cases where the individual has brought over from his last preceding birth an irrepressible attraction for the life of the Spirit and repugnance for the life of the flesh. The normal man is in normal sympathetic relation with his fellow men at each successive stage of human development. But under the law of psychical differentiation, there are in each epoch beings ahead of the average of the race at that time. From their number develop the teachers, seers and saviours of mankind.
Respecting the whole tenor of the above, we have only to thank our esteemed contributor for the doubts expressed in his article. In these days of wholesale slander:—
“. . . . that worst of poisons (which) ever finds
An easy entrance to ignoble minds,”
—as Juvenal says,* even an honest and cautious doubt must be gratefully received. Moreover, there is a line of demarcation beyond which one ought rather to feel proud of being slandered, than otherwise. For Swift’s remark: “the worthiest people are the most injured by slander, as we usually find that to be the best fruit which the birds have been pecking at”—may serve as a consolation.
* [Satires, XIV, 173-176; though not identical to the poetical rendering used by H.P.B. from some unknown translation, this reference seems to be the one most likely meant.—Compiler.]