FOOTNOTES TO “THE WORK OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETIES”
[The Theosophist, Vol. II, No. 10, Supplement, July, 1881]
[While on a visit to Ceylon, Col. Olcott visited Colombo. He wrote in part: “I lectured at the College last evening to an audience of about five hundred. . . . I had in my hand a paper on which the High Priest, the Rev. Sumangala, had entered all the lies about the Theosophical Society I was to refute. . . . I defied everybody, Christian or otherwise, that had anything to say either about the Theosophical Society or ourselves, to come on the platform like men and say it to my face . . . . But . . . . not a soul dared open his mouth.”]
And the Missionary organs, like the Lucknow Witness and others, denounce us yet for our lack of sympathy for the padris and Christian converts! For six years we have to fight step by step, falsehoods, slanders and vilification invented with the sole object of making the public lose every confidence in the Theosophical Society. And all that in the name of the Bible, which commands—“Thou shalt not bear false witness,” and in that of Christ, of Him, who,
represented as the meekest and the most forgiving of all men, is said to have died for humanity to save the world from sin! Verily more crimes are perpetrated, and false evidence daily given in the name of the “meek Nazarene” by His followers, than there ever was among those Jews and heathens He called—a “generation of vipers”! Can TRUTH ever need such weapons?
[The Ceylon Times reports in detail the incidents mentioned by Col. Olcott, including his answers to questions during his lecture at Galle. To the question whether the Society is Buddhistic or not, Col. Olcott is alleged to have answered that the “parent society may be said to be Buddhist.”]
The Reporter must have misunderstood our President. The Parent Society cannot be said to be “Buddhist” since (a) it is more unsectarian than any of its branches, and (b) its numerous body being composed of members professing the most widely separated creeds—many of them are liberal Christians, Mohammedans, Hindus, Parsees, etc., while others, and the greater number, are materialists and spiritualists. The “Parent Society” is not composed only of the two Founders (now in India) and the Recording Secretary, these three alone being openly Buddhists, but of other original Founders who are scattered about America and Europe, and of members, half a dozen or so of whom also profess that faith and “take refuge in Buddha.” But even the fact of the two Founders being Buddhists does not make them respect any the less for it the Vedas and especially the Vedanta. After as much study as we could give to it, we came to the firm conviction that Vedantism and Buddhism were two synonymous, nearly identical philosophies, in spirit, if not in practice and interpretation. The Vedanta system is but transcendental or so to say spiritualized Buddhism, while the latter is rational or even radical Vedantism. Between the two stands Sankhya philosophy.
[The Harbinger of Light, Melbourne, (Australia), reports “the receipt of a photograph of the Theosophical Society’s Buddhist School at Point de Galle, where a reform in the right direction was initiated and is now in active operation, viz., the redemption
from blind Christianity to rational Buddhism of the Singhalese ‘rising generation.’” . . .
“Buddhism is, pure Theism.” To this H. P. B. remarks:]
Our esteemed friend is mistaken. Buddhism is no “Theism,” since Buddhists do not believe in a “personal god,” and reject altogether Revelation. They “take refuge in Buddha” and call him “Saviour” not because they regard him as a god but, on account of the “Enlightened Teacher” having saved humanity from the great darkness of superstition, from blind faith in the teachings of fallible men and belief in their authority. Siddhârtha Buddha is a saviour indeed, for, taking us by the hand he was the first to show us the way to true salvation—deliverance from the miseries of human life; future everlasting misery and eternal bliss depending but upon our own personal merits. We are our own Saviours.