Edmond W. Fern

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Edmond W. Fern was a young Englishman born in India, mentioned in the The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. At the time of the letters, he was apparently serving as some kind of secretary to A. O. Hume at Simla and may have been living in the Hume home.

He joined the Theosophical Society and, in October 1882, was elected Secretary of the Simla Eclectic Theosophical Society. He was somewhat of a psychic and had certain latent possibilities, and the Mahatmas considered that he might become a centre of their magnetism for the transmission of messages, etc. For this purpose, he was placed on probation under the supervision of Master M. but failed to pass the probationary tests.[1]

Probation

In mid 1882, Mahatma M. took an interest in Mr. Fern and accepted him as a chela on probation:

The option of receiving him or not as a regular chela — remains with the Chohan. M. has simply to have him tested, tempted and examined by all and every means, so as to have his real nature drawn out.[2]
[W]hen we take candidates for chelas, they take the vow of secrecy and silence respecting every order they may receive. One has to prove himself fit for chelaship, before he can find out whether he is fit for adeptship. Fern is under such a probation. . .[3]
Fern is in the hands of two clever — ‘dwellers of the threshold’ as Bulwer would call them — two dugpas kept by us to do our scavengers’ work, and to draw out the latent vices — if there be any — from the candidates; and Fern has shown himself on the whole, far better and more moral than he was supposed to be.[4]

It seems that Fern had written about some "vision" he had had some time earlier. According to Hume, Fern wanted to know "if Morya wished it (his article) to be published," which was actually a trap devised to test [[Morya| Master M.]'s powers. The Master agreed to have the article published, and Hume thought the Master had fell in Fern's trap. The Master, however, argued that it was Fern who was being tested by the Master.

On August 18, 1882, Colonel Olcott was in Ceylon (while H. P. Blavatsky was in Bombay). He wrote in his Diary: "Night visit from M. who directed telegram to be sent A.H. about Fern's visions. Can't understand."

On September 1882 Fern was found lacking moral strength. Mahatma M. wrote:

Fern was tested and found a thorough Dugpa in his moral nature. We will see, we will see; but very little hope left notwithstanding his splendid capacities. Had I hinted to him to deceive his own father and mother he would have thrown in their fathers and mothers in the bargain. Vile, vile nature — yet irresponsible.[5]

M. wrote one letter to Fern, admonishing him for deceitfulness. It was published as Letter 75 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom Second Series.

On October 1882, Master K.H. wrote a letter to Mr. Sinnett saying:

If he fails next year again — and with all his great gifts, how can such an incurable little jesuit and liar help failing? — he will do his best to pull down the Society with him — as regards belief in the "Brothers" at least. Try to save him, if possible, my dearest friend; do your best to convert him to truth and unselfishness. It is real pity that such gifts should be drowned in a mire of vice — so strongly engrafted upon him by his early tutors. Meanwhile, beware of ever allowing him to see any of my letters.[6]

But on November 27, in Bombay, Col. Olcott recorded in his Diary: "A Brother showed himself in the lower terrace to a number of delegates. M. orders me to expel Fern. Reason not given. What's up?"

On December 6, Fern himself came to see Olcott and explained certain matters which the Colonel saw necessitated his expulsion. These reasons were not of a psychic nature but concerned business transactions, perhaps in connection with the Simla Eclectic TS. Mr. Fern was finally expelled from the Theosophical Society by the end of 1882. In 1883 Master K.H. wrote:

Fern was a most remarkable psychic subject, naturally — very spiritually inclined, but corrupted by Jesuit masters, and with his sixth and seventh Principles completely dormant and paralysed within him. No idea of right and wrong whatever; in short — irresponsible for anything but the direct and voluntary actions of the animal man.[7]

Notes

  1. George E. Linton and Virginia Hanson, eds., Readers Guide to The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 231.
  2. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 74 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 227.
  3. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 75 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 231.
  4. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 75 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 232.
  5. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 89 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 278.
  6. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 92 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 288-289.
  7. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 101 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 344.