Mahatma Letter No. 18

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Written by: Koot Hoomi
Received by: A. P. Sinnett
Sent via: unknown
Written on: unknown
Received on: July 8, 1881 See below.
Other dates: unknown
Sent from: unknown
Received at: Bombay, India
Via: unknown 

This is Letter No. 18 in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 4th chronological edition. It corresponds to Letter No. 9 in Barker numbering. See below for Context and background.

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Cover sheet 1




Cover sheet 2

Prior to writing Occult World [Editorial note: These words are crossed out.]



Cover sheet 3

Pri a Phil
from K.H., first letter rec'd on return to India, July 8th, 1881.
Containing rough sketch of planetary evolution
Rec'd by me while staying with Mme B. at Bombay for a few days



  • Number 61 penciled at right.
  • Pri a Phil might be "Pri & Phil" indicating that Sinnett classified this letter as private and philosophical.

Page 1 transcription, image, and notes

Welcome good friend and brilliant author, welcome back! Your letter at hand, and I am happy to see your personal experience with the "Elect" of London proved so successful. But, I foresee, that more than ever now, you will become an incarnate note of interrogation. Beware! If your questions are found premature by the powers that be, instead of receiving my answers in their pristine purity you may find them transformed into yards of drivel. I am too far gone to feel a hand on my throat whenever trenching on the limits of forbidden topics; not enough to avoid feeling myself — uncomfortably so — like a worm of yesterday before our "Rock of Ages" my Cho-Khan. We must all be blindfolded before we can pass onward; or else, we have to remain outside.

And now, what about the book? Le quart d'heure de Rabelais is striking, and, finds me, if not quite insolvent, yet quasitrembling at the idea that the first instalment offered may be found below the mark; the price claimed — inadequate with my poor resources; myself led pro bono publico to trespass beyond the terrible — "hitherto shalt thou go, and no further," and the angry wave of the Cho-Khan's wrath swamping me blue ink and all! I fondly hope you will not make me lose "my situation."

Quite so. For, I have a dim notion that you will be very impatient with me. I have a very clear notion that you need not be. It is one of the unfortunate necessities of life that imperial needs do sometimes



  • le quart d’heure de Rabelais is a French expression that means it is time to pay the bill; named after a trick the writer used in a restaurant to avoid paying.
  • pro bono publico is a Latin phrase meaning "for the public good," generally used to describe professional work undertaken voluntarily and without payment.

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force one apparently to ignore the claims of friendship, not to violate one's word, but to put off and lay aside for a while the too impatient expectations of neophytes as of inferior importance. One such need that I call imperial is the need of your future welfare; the realization of the dream dreamt by you in company with S.M. That dream — shall we call it a vision? — was, that you, and Mrs. K. — why forget the Theos. Soc.? — "are all parts of a large plan for the manifestations of occult philosophy to the world." Yes; the time must come, and it is not far — when all of you will comprehend aright the apparently contradictory phases of such manifestations; forced by the evidence to reconcile them. The case not being so at present, meanwhile — remember: it is because we are playing a risky game and the stakes are human souls that I ask you to possess yours in patience. Bearing in mind that I have to look after your "soul" and mine too, I propose to do so at whatever cost, even at the risk of being misunderstood by you as I was by Mr. Hume. The work is made the more difficult by my being a lonely labourer in the field, and that, as long as I fail to prove to my superiors that you, at least — mean business; that you — are in right good earnest. As I am refused higher help, so will you fail to easily find help in that Society



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in which you move, and which you try to move. Nor will you find, for a certain time much joy in those directly concerned. Our old lady is weak and her nerves are worked to a fiddle string; so is her jaded brain. H.S.O. is far away — in exile — fighting his way back to salvation — compromised more than you imagine by his Simla indiscretions — and establishing theosoph. schools. Mr. Hume — who once promised to become a champion fighter in that Battle of Light against Darkness — now preserves a kind of armed neutrality wondrous to behold. Having made the mirific discovery that we are a body of antidiluvian Jesuits of fossiles — self-crowned with oratorial flourishes, he rested but to accuse us of intercepting his letters to H.P.B.! However, he finds some comfort by thinking "what a jolly argument he shall have elsewhere (Angel Linnean ornithological Society, perhaps) with the entity which is represented by the name Koothoomi." Verily has our very intellectual, once mutual friend, a flood of words at his command which would suffice to float a troop ship of oratorious fallacies. Nevertheless — I respect him. . . . But who next? C. C. Massey? But then he is the hapless parent of about half a dozen of illegitimate brats. He is a most charming, devoted friend; a profound mystic; a generous, noble minded man, a gentleman — as they say — every inch of him; tried as gold; every requisite for a student of occultism, but none for an adept, my good friend. Be it as it may, his



  • his [Olcott's] Simla indiscretions refers to the publication of his article "A Day with Madame Blavatsky" where he mentioned the names of several prominent Englishmen present during the phenomena at Simla. See Mahatma Letter No. 5
  • Establishing theosoph. schools. H. S. Olcott was in Sri Lanka (a Buddhist country then dominated by Christians), establishing Buddhist schools. His work was remarkable and today he is regarded as a national hero in that country.
  • mirific means miraculous.

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secret is his own, and I have no right to divulge it. Dr. Wyld? — a christian to the back bone. Hood? — a sweet nature, as you say; a dreamer, and an idealist in mystic matters, yet — no worker. S. Moses? Ah! here we are. S.M. has nearly upset the theosoph. ark set afloat three years back: and, he will do his level best to do it over again -— our Imperator notwithstanding. You doubt? Listen.

His is a weird, rare nature. His occult psychical energies are tremendous; but they have lain dormant, folded up within him and unknown to himself, when, some eight years or so, Imperator threw his eye upon him and bid his spirit soar. Since then, a new life has been in him, a dual existence, but his nature could not be changed. Brought up as a theological student, his mind was devoured by doubts. Earlier, he betook himself to Mount Athos, where, immuring himself in a monastery, he studied Greek Eastern religion, and it is there that he was first noticed by his "Spirit guide" (!!) Of course, Greek casuistry failed to solve his doubts, and he hurried on to Rome, — popery satisfying him as little. From thence he wandered to Germany with the same negative results. Giving up dry christian theology he did not give up its presumable founder with all that. He needed an ideal and he found it in the latter. For him Jesus is a reality, a once embodied, now a disembodied Spirit, who, "furnished him with an evidence of his personal identity" — he thinks, — in no less a degree than other "Spirits" — Imperator among the rest — have. Nevertheless, neither the religions of Jesus nor yet his words, as recorded in the Bible and believed by S.M. authentic — are fully accepted by that restless Spirit of his. Imperator, on whom the same fate devolved later on, fares no better. His mind is too positive. Once impressed it becomes easier to efface characters engraved upon titanium than impressions made upon his brain.



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Whenever under the influence of Imperator — he is all alive to the realities of Occultism, and the superiority of our Science over Spiritualism. As soon as left alone and under the pernicious guidance of those he firmly believes having identified with disembodied Souls — all becomes confusion again! His mind will yield to no suggestions, no reasonings but his own, and those are all for Spiritualistic theories. When the old theological fetters had dropped off, he imagined himself a free man. Some months later, he became the humble slave and tool of the "Spirits"! It is but when standing face to face with his inner Self that he realizes the truth that there is something higher and nobler than the prittle-prattle of pseudo Spirits. It was at such a moment that he heard for the first the voice of Imperator, and it was, as he himself puts it: "as the voice of God speaking to his inner Self." That voice has made itself familiar to him for years, and yet he very often heeds it not. A simple query: Were Imper. what he believes, nay — knows him to be, he thinks, — would not he have made S.M.'s will completely subservient to his own by this time? Alone the adepts, i.e. the embodied spirits — are forbidden by our wise and intransgressible laws to completely subject to themselves another and a weaker will, — that of free born man. The latter mode of proceeding is the favourite one resorted to by the "Brothers of the Shadow," the Sorcerers, the Elementary Spooks, and, as an isolated exception — by the highest Planetary Spirits, those, who can no longer err. But these appear on Earth but



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at the origin of every new human kind; at the junction of, and close of the two ends of the great cycle. And, they remain with man no longer than the time required for the eternal truths they teach to impress themselves so forcibly upon the plastic minds of the new races as to warrant them from being lost or entirely forgotten in ages hereafter, by the forthcoming generations. The mission of the planetary Spirit is but to strike the KEY NOTE OF TRUTH. Once he has directed the vibration of the latter to run its course uninterruptedly along the catenation of that race and to the end of the cycle — the denizen of the highest inhabited sphere disappears from the surface of our planet — till the following "resurrection of flesh." The vibrations of the Primitive Truth are what your philosophers name "innate ideas."

Imperator, then, had repeatedly told him that "in occultism alone he should seek for, and will find a phase of truth not yet known to him." But that did not prevent S.M. at all from turning his back upon occultism whenever a theory of it clashed with one of his own preconceived Spiritualistic ideas. To him mediumship appeared as the Charter of his Soul's freedom, as resurrection from Spiritual death. He had been allowed to enjoy it only so far as it was necessary for the confirmation of his faith; promised that the abnormal would yield to the normal; ordered to prepare



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for the time when the Self within him will become conscious of its spiritual, independent existence, will act and talk face to face with its Instructor, and will lead its life in Spiritual Spheres normally and without external or internal mediumship at all. And yet once conscious of what he terms "external Spirit action" he recognised no more hallucination from truth, the false from the real: confounding at times Elementals and Elementaries, embodied from disembodied Spirit, though he had been oft enough told of, and warned against "those spirits that hover about the Earth's sphere" — by his "Voice of God." With all that he firmly believes to have invariably acted under Imper's direction, and that such spirits as have come to him came by his "guide's" permission. In such a case H.P.B. was there by Imper's consent? And how do you reconcile the following contradictions. Ever since 1876, acting under direct orders, she tried to awake him to the reality of what was going on around and in him. That she must have acted either according to or against Imper's will — he must know, as in the latter case she might boast of being stronger, more powerful than his "guide" who never yet protested against the intrusion. Now what happens? Writing to her from Isle of Wight, in 1876, of a vision lasting for over 48 consecutive hours he had, and during which he walked about, talked as usual, but did not preserve the slightest remembrance of anything external, he asks her to tell him whether it was



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a vision or a hallucination. Why did he not ask + I-r? "You can tell me for you were there," he says. . . . "You — changed, yet yourself — if you have a Self. . . . I suppose you have, but into that I do not pry." . . . At another time he saw her in his own library looking at him, approaching and giving him some masonic signs of the Lodge he knows. He admits that he "saw her as clearly as he saw Massey — who was there." He saw her on several other occasions, and sometimes knowing it was H.P.B. he could not recognise her. "You seem to me from your appearance as from your letters so different at times, the mental attitudes so various, that it is quite conceivable to me, as I am authoritatively told, that you are a bundle of Entities. . . . I have absolute faith in you." In every letter of his he clamoured for a "living Brother." To her unequivocal statement that there was one already having charge of him, he strongly objected. When helped to get free from his too material body, absent from it for hours and days sometimes his empty machine run during that period from afar and by external, living influence, — as soon as back, he would begin labouring under the irradicable impression of having been all that time the vehicle for another intelligence, a disembodied not an embodied Spirit, truth never once flashing across his mind. "Imperator," he wrote to her, "traverses your idea about mediumship.



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He says there should be no real antagonism between the medium and the adept." Had he used the word "Seer" instead of "medium" the idea would have been rendered more correctly, for a man becomes rarely an adept without being born a natural Seer. Then again. In September, 1875, he knew nothing of the Brothers of the Shadow — our greatest, most cruel, and — why not confess — our most potential Enemies. In that year he actually asked the old lady whether Bulwer had been eating underdone pork chops and dreaming when he described "that hideous Dweller of the Threshold." "Make yourself ready," she answered — "in about twelve months more you will have to face and fight with them." In October, 1876, they had begun their work upon him. "I am fighting" — he wrote — "a hand to hand battle with all the legions of the Fiend for the past three weeks. My nights are made hideous with their torments, temptations and foul suggestions. I see them all around, glaring at me, gabbling, howling, grinning! Every form of filthy suggestion, of bewildering doubt, of mad and shuddering fear is upon me . . . I can understand Zanoni's Dweller now . . . I have not wavered yet . . . and their temptations are fainter, the presence less near, the horror less. . . ."

One night she had prostrated herself before her Superior, one of the few they fear, praying



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him to wave his hand across the ocean, lest S.M. should die, and the Theos. Soc. lose its best subject. "He must be tried" was the answer. He imagines that + Imper. had sent the tempters because he S.M. was one of those Thomases who must see; he would not believe that + could not help their coming. Watch over him he did — he could not drive them away unless the victim, the neophyte himself, proved the strongest. But did these human fiends in league with the Elementaries prepare him for a new life as he thought they would? Embodiments of those adverse influences which beset the inner Self struggling to be free and to progress, they would never have returned had he successfully conquered them by asserting his own independent WILL, by giving up his mediumship, his passive will. Yet they did.

You say of + — "Imperator — is certainly not his (S.M.'s) astral soul, and assuredly, also, he is not from a lower World than our own — not an earth-bound Spirit." No one ever said he was anything of the kind. H.P.B. never told you he was S.M.'s astral soul, but that what he often mistook for + was his own higher Self, his divine atman — not linga Sarira or astral Soul, or the Kama rupa the independent doppelganger — again. + cannot contradict himself; + cannot be ignorant of the truth, so often misrepresented by S.M.; + cannot preach the occult Sciences and then defend mediumship, not even in that highest form



  • Doppelgänger (German, "double-walker") refers to an apparition or double of a living person.

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described by his pupil. Mediumship is abnormal. When in further development the abnormal has given way to the natural, the controls are shaken off, and passive obedience is no longer required, then the medium learns to use his will, to exercise his own power, and becomes an adept. The process is one of development and the neophyte has to go to the end. As long as he is subject to occasional trance — he cannot be an adept. S.M. passes the two-thirds of his life in Trance.

To your question — Is Imperator "a Planetary Spirit" and "may a Planetary Spirit have been humanly incarnated," I will first say that there can be no Planetary Spirit that was not once material or what you call human. When our great Buddha — the patron of all the adepts, the reformer and the codifier of the occult system, reached first Nirvana on Earth, he became a Planetary Spirit; i.e. — his spirit could at one and the same time rove the interstellar spaces in full consciousness, and continue at will on Earth in his original and individual body. For the divine Self had so completely disfranchised itself from matter that it could create at will an inner substitute for itself, and leaving it in the human form for days, weeks, sometimes years, affect in no wise by the change either the vital principle or the physical mind of its body. By the way, that is the highest form of adeptship man can hope for on our planet. But it is as rare as the Buddhas themselves, the last Khobilgan who reached it being



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Sang-Ko-Pa of Kokonor (XIV Century), the reformer of esoteric as well as of vulgar Lamaism. Many are those who "break through the egg-shell," few who, once out are able to exercise their Nirvva namastaka fully, when completely out of the body. Conscious life in Spirit is as difficult for some natures as swimming is for some bodies. Though the human frame is lighter in its bulk than water, and that every person is born with the faculty, so few develop in themselves the art of treading water that death by drowning is the most frequent of accidents. The planetary Spirit of that kind (the Buddha like) can pass at will into other bodies — of more or less etherialised matter, inhabiting other regions of the Universe. There are many other grades and orders, but there is no separate and eternally constituted order of Planetary Spirits. Whether Imperator is a "planetary" embodied or disembodied, whether he is an adept in flesh or out of it, I am not at liberty to say, any more than he would himself to tell S.M. who I am, or may be, or even who H.P.B. is. If he himself chooses to be silent on that subject S.M. has no right to ask me. But then our friend, S.M. ought to know. Nay: he firmly believes he does. For in his intercourse with that personage there came a time when not satisfied with + assurances, or content to respect his wishes that he, Imperator & Co. should remain impersonal and unknown save by their assumed titles, S.M. wrestled with him, Jacob-like, for months on the point of



  • Sang-Ko-Pa refers to Tsongkhapa, the famous teacher of Tibetan Buddhism.
  • "Break through the egg-shell" is a quotation from The New American Cyclopaedia, vol. 4, 1869 and 1870, p. 66.
  • Nirvva namastaka (wrongly transcribed as nirira namastaka in the printed editions) is a misspelling of the term nirvāṇa-mastaka, which can be translated as "liberation."

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that spirit's identity. It was the Biblical flim-flam all over again. "I pray thee tell me thy name" — and though answered: "Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?" — what's in a name? — he allowed S.M. to label him like a portmanteau. And so, he is at rest now, for be has "seen God face to face"; who, after wrestling, and seeing that he prevailed not, said "let me go" and was forced to come to the terms offered by Jacob S. Moses. I strongly advise you for your own information to put that question to your friend. Why should he be "anxiously awaiting" my reply, since he knows all about +? Did not that "Spirit" tell him a story one day, — a queer story, something what he may not divulge about himself and forbid him ever mentioning it? What more does he want? That fact, that he seeks to learn through me the true nature of +, is a pretty good proof in itself that he is not as sure of his identity as he believes he is, or rather would make believe he is. Or is the question a blind? — which?

I may answer you, what I said to G. H. Fechner one day, when he wanted to know the Hindu view on what he had written — "You are right; . . . 'every diamond, every crystal, every plant and star has its own individual soul, besides man and animal . . .' and, 'there is a hierarchy of souls from the lowest forms of matter up to the World Soul' . . .; but, you are mistaken when adding to the above the assurance that 'the spirits of the



  • the Biblical flim-flam quotations are from Genesis 32:29, when Jacob wrestled with an angel (or with Yahweh) and was given the name Israel. Flim-flam can refer to nonsense or to deception.
  • Portmanteau is a piece of luggage; it can also be a combination of two (or more) words or morphemes into one new word.
  • "Every diamond, every crystal..." etc, appears in The N. Y. Nation (Oct. 2, 1879, p. 229), which reported on Prof. Gustav Theodor Fechner's ideas.

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departed hold direct psychic communication with Souls that are still connected with a human body' — for, they do not." The relative position of the inhabited worlds in our Solar System would alone preclude such a possibility. For I trust you have given up the queer idea — a natural result of early Xtian training — that there can possibly be human intelligences inhabiting purely spiritual regions? You will then as readily understand the fallacy of the christians — who would burn immaterial souls in a material physical hell — as the mistake of the more educated spiritualists, who lullaby themselves with the thought that any other but the denizens of the two worlds immediately interlinked with our own can possibly communicate with them? However etherial and purified of gross matter they may be, the pure Spirits are still subject to the physical and universal laws of matter. They cannot if even they would span the abyss that separates their worlds from ours. They can be visited in Spirit, their Spirit cannot descend and reach us. They attract, they cannot be attracted, their Spiritual polarity being an insuperable difficulty in the way. (By-the-bye you must not trust Isis literally. The book is but a tentative effort to divert the attention of the Spiritualists from their preconceptions to the true state of things. The author was made to hint and point out in the true direction, to say what things are not, not what they are. Proof reader helping, a few real mistakes have crept in as on page 1, chapter 1, volume 1, where divine Essence is made emanating from Adam instead of the reverse.)



  • Xtian is an abbreviation for "Christian"

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Once fairly started upon that subject, I will endeavour to explain to you still clearer where lies the impossibility. You will thus be answered in regard to both Planetary Spirits and — seance room "Spirits."

The cycle of intelligent existences commences at the highest worlds or planets — the term "highest" meaning here the most spiritually perfect. Evoluting from cosmic matter — which is akasa, the primeval not the secondary plastic medium, or Ether of Science instinctively suspected, unproven as the rest — man first evolutes from this matter in its most sublimated state, appearing at the threshold of Eternity as a perfectly Etherial — not Spiritual Entity, say — a Planetary Spirit. He is but one remove from the universal and Spiritual World Essence — the Anima Mundi of the Greeks, or that which humanity in its spiritual decadence has degraded into a mythical personal God. Hence, at that stage, the Spirit — man is at best an active Power, an immutable, therefore an unthinking Principle (the term "immutable" being again used here but to denote that state for the time being, the immutability applying here but to the inner principle which will vanish and disappear as soon as the speck of the material in him will start on its cyclic work of Evolution and transformation). In his subsequent descent, and in proportion of the increase of matter he will assert more and more his activity. Now, the congeries of the star-worlds (including our own planet) inhabited by intelligent beings may be likened to an orb or rather an epicycloid formed of rings like a chain — worlds inter-linked together, the totality



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representing an imaginary endless ring, or circle. The progress of man throughout the whole — from its starting to its closing points meeting on the highest point of its circumference — is what we call the Maha Yug or Great Cycle, the Kuklos, whose head is lost in a crown of absolute Spirit, and its lowest point of circumference in absolute matter — to viz. the point of cessation of action of the active principle. If using a more familiar term we call the Great Cycle the Macrokosm and its component parts or the inter-linked star worlds Microkosms, the occultists' meaning in representing each of the latter as perfect copies of the former will become evident. The Great is the Prototype of the smaller cycles: and as such, each star world has in its turn its own cycle of Evolution which starts with a purer and ends with a grosser or more material nature. As they descend, each world presents itself naturally more and more shadowy, becoming at the "antipodes" absolute matter. Propelled by the irresistible cyclic impulse the Planetary Spirit has to descend before he can reascend. On his way he has to pass through the whole ladder of Evolution, missing no rung, to halt at every star world as he would at a station; and, besides the unavoidable cycle of that particular and every respective star world — to perform in it his own "life-cycle" to, viz.: returning and reincarnating as many times as he fails to complete his round of life in it, as he



  • viz. is an abbreviation the adverb videlicet, derived from Latin, meaning "namely", "that is to say", or "as follows".

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dies on it before reaching the age of reason as correctly stated in Isis. Thus far Mrs. Kingsford's idea that the human Ego is being reincarnated in several successive human bodies is the true one. As to its being reborn in animal forms after human incarnation it is the result of her loose way of expressing things and ideas. Another woman — all over again. Why, she confounds "Soul and Spirit," refuses to discriminate between the animal and the spiritual Egos the Jivatma (or Linga-Sharir) and the Kama-Rupa (or Atma-Rupa), two as different things as body and mind, and — mind and thought are! That is what happens. After circling, so to say, along the arc of the cycle, circling along and within it (the daily and yearly rotation of the Earth is as good an illustration as any) when the Spirit-man reaches our planet, which is one of the lowest, having lost at every station some of the etherial and acquired an increase of material nature, both spirit and matter have become pretty much equilibrized in him. But then, he has the Earth's cycle to perform; and, as in the process of involution and evolution downward, matter is ever striving to stifle spirit, when arrived to the lowest point of his pilgrimage, the once pure Planetary Spirit will be found dwindled to — what Science agrees to call a primitive or Primordial man — amidst a nature



  • "Thus far Anna Kingsford..." The text beginning with these words and ending with the sentence "That is what happens" has been crossed out in the original letter with the blue ink typically used by the Master. Given that this section has a disparaging remark about women and a confusion of terms (Jivatma corresponds to atma-rupa and kama-rupa to linga-sharira) it is likely a misstatement introduced by the disciple precipitating the letter.

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as primordial — speaking geologically, for physical nature keeps pace with the physiological as well as the spiritual man, in her cyclic career. At that point the great Law begins its work of selection. Matter found entirely divorced from spirit is thrown over into the still lower worlds — into the sixth "gati" or "way of rebirth" of the vegetable and mineral worlds, and of the primitive animal forms. From thence, matter ground over in the workshop of nature proceeds soulless back to its Mother-Fount; while the Egos purified of their dross are enabled to resume their progress once more onward. It is here, then, that the laggard Egos perish by the millions. It is the solemn moment of the "survival of the fittest," the annihilation of those unfit. It is but matter (or material man) which is compelled by its own weight to descend to the very bottom of the "circle of necessity" to there assume animal form; as to the winner of that race throughout the worlds — the Spiritual Ego, he will ascend from star to star, from one world to another, circling onward to rebecome the once pure planetary Spirit, then higher still, to finally reach its first starting point, and from thence — to merge into MYSTERY. No adept has ever penetrated beyond the veil of primitive Kosmic matter. The highest, the most perfect vision is limited to the universe of Form and Matter.



  • Sixth gati. In Buddhism, the realm of desire (kama-dhatu) contains five (or sometimes six) domains called "gati," each with its own inhabitants:
1. Devas or gods; 2. Manusyas or humans; 3. Tiryaks or animals; 4. Pretas or hungry ghosts; 5. Narakas or hell beings.

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But my explanation does not end here. You want to know why it is deemed supremely difficult if not utterly impossible for pure disembodied Spirits to communicate with men through mediums or Phantomosophy. I say, because: —

(a) On account of the antagonistic atmospheres respectively surrounding these worlds;

(b) Of the entire dissimilarity of physiological and spiritual conditions; and —

(c) Because that chain of worlds I have just been telling you about, is not only an epicycloid but an elliptical orbit of existences, having, as every ellipse, not one but two points — two foci, which can never approach each other; Man being at one focus of it and pure Spirit at the other.

To this you might object. I can neither help it, nor change the fact, but there is still another and far mightier impediment. Like a rosary composed of white and black beads alternating with each other, so that concatenation of worlds is made up of worlds of CAUSES and worlds of EFFECTS, the latter — the direct result produced by the former. Thus it becomes evident that every sphere of Causes and our Earth is one — is not only inter-linked with, and surrounded by, but actually separated from its nearest neighbour — the higher sphere of Causality — by an impenetrable atmosphere (in its spiritual sense) of effects bordering on, and even inter-linking, never mixing with — the next sphere: for one is active, the other — passive, the world of causes positive, that of effects — negative. This passive resistance can be overcome but under conditions, of which your most learned Spiritualists have not the faintest idea. All movement is, so to say polar. It is very difficult to convey my meaning to you at this point; but I will go to the end. I am aware of my failure to bring before you these — to us — axiomatical truths — in any other



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form but that of a simple logical postulate — if so much — they being capable of absolute and unequivocal demonstration, but to the highest Seers. But, I'll give you food for thinking if nothing else.

The intermediary spheres, being but the projected shadows of the Worlds of Causes — are negatived by the last. They are the great halting places, the stations in which the new Self-Conscious Egos to be — the self-begotten progeny of the old and disembodied Egos of our planet — are gestated. Before the new phoenix, re-born of the ashes of its parent, can soar higher, to a better, more spiritual, and perfect world — still a world of matter — it has to pass through the process of a new birth, so to say; and, as on our earth, where the two thirds of infants are either still-born or die in infancy, so in our "world of effects." On earth it is the physiological and mental defects, the sins of the progenitors which are visited upon the issue: in that land of shadows, the new and yet unconscious Ego-foetus becomes the just victim of the transgressions of its old Self, whose karma — merit and demerit — will alone weave out its future destiny. In that world, my good friend, we find but unconscious, self-acting, ex-human machines, souls in their transition state, whose dormant faculties and individuality lie as a butterfly in its chrysalis; and Spiritualists would yet have them talk sense! Caught at times, into the vortex of the abnormal "mediumistic" current, they become the unconscious echoes of thoughts and ideas crystallized around those present. Every positive, well-directed mind is capable of neutralizing such secondary effects in a seance room. The world below ours is worse yet. The former is harmless at least; it is more sinned against by being disturbed, than



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sinning; the latter allowing the retention of full consciousness as being a hundred-fold more material, is positively dangerous. The notions of hells and purgatory, of paradises and resurrections are all caricatured, distorted echoes of the primeval one Truth, taught humanity in the infancy of its races by every First Messenger — the Planetary Spirit mentioned on the reverse of page the third — and whose remembrance lingered in the memory of man as Elu of the Chaldees, Osiris the Egyptian, Vishnu, the first Buddhas and so on.

The lower world of effects is the sphere of such distorted Thoughts; of the most sensual conceptions, and pictures; of anthropomorphic deities, the out-creations of their creators, the sensual human minds of people who have never out-grown their brutehood on earth. Remembering thoughts are things — have tenacity, coherence, and life, — that they are real entities — the rest will become plain. Disembodied — the creator is attracted naturally to its creation and creatures; sucked in — by the Maelstrom dug out by his own hands. . . . But I must pause, for volumes would hardly suffice to explain all that was said by me in this letter.

In reference to your wonder that the views of the three mystics "are far from being identical," what does the fact prove? Were they instructed by disembodied, pure, and wise Spirits — even by those of one remove from our earth on the higher plane — would not the teachings be identical? The question arising: "May not Spirits as well as men differ in ideas?"



  • A maelstrom is a very powerful whirlpool; a large, swirling body of water.
  • The three mystics. According to Daniel Caldwell, this probably refers to Stainton Moses, Edward Maitland, and Anna Kingsford, who were mediums and clairvoyants.

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Well, then their teaching — aye, of the highest of them since they are the "guides" of the three great London Seers — will not be more authoritative than those of mortal men. "But, they may belong to different spheres?" Well; if in the different spheres contradictory doctrines are propounded, these doctrines cannot contain the Truth, for Truth is One, and cannot admit of diametrically opposite views; and pure Spirits who see it as it is, with the veil of matter entirely withdrawn from it — cannot err. Now, if we allow of different aspects or portions of the Whole Truth being visible to different agencies or intelligences, each under various conditions, as for example various portions of the one landscape develop themselves to various persons, at various distances and from various standpoints — if we admit the fact of various or different agencies (individual Brothers for instance) endeavouring to develop the Egos of different individuals, without subjecting entirely their wills to their own (as it is forbidden) but by availing themselves of their physical, moral, and intellectual idiosyncracies; if we add to this the countless kosmical influences which distort and deflect all efforts to achieve definite purposes: if we remember, moreover, the direct hostility of the Brethren of the Shadow always on the watch to perplex and haze the neophyte's brain, I think we shall have no difficulty in understanding how even a definite spiritual advance may to a certain extent lead different individuals to apparently different conclusions and theories.

Having confessed to you that I had no right to interfere



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with Imperator's secrets and plans, I must say that so far, however, he has proved the wisest of us. Had our policy been the same, had I, for instance allowed you to infer and then believe (without stating anything positive myself) that I was a "disembodied angel" — a Spirit of pellucid electroidal essence, from the Super-Stellar phantasmatical zone — we would both be happier. You — you would not have worried your head as to "whether agencies of that sort will always remain necessary" and I — would not find myself under the disagreeable necessity of having to refuse a friend a "personal interview and direct communication." You might have implicitly believed anything coming from me; and I would have felt less responsible for you before my "GUIDES." However, time will show what may or may not be done in that direction. The book is out, and we have to patiently wait for the results of that first serious shot at the enemy. Art Magic and Isis emanating from women and as it was believed, Spiritualists — could never hope for a serious hearing. Its effects will at first be disastrous enough, for the gun will recoil and the shot rebounding will strike the author and his humble hero, who are not likely to flinch. But it will also graze the old lady, reviving in the Anglo-Indian press last year's outcry. The Thersites and literary Philistines will go hard to work, the flings, squibs and coups de bec falling thick upon her — though aimed at you alone, as the Editor of the Pioneer is far from being beloved by his colleagues of



  • The book is out refers to the publication of A. P. Sinnett's first book The Occult World.
  • Art Magic refers to Art Magic: Or Mundane, Sub Mundane, and Super Mundane Spiritism, first published in 1876. Spiritualist Emma Hardinge Britten announced that the book was written by ‘an adept’ of her acquaintance, Louis Constant, for whom she was ‘acting as translator and secretary’.
  • Coups de bec is French for "pecks," that is, taps or bites with a beak. It is used to mean "cutting or harsh remarks."

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India. Spiritualistic papers have already opened the campaign in London and the Yankee editors of the Organs of "Angels" will follow suit, the heavenly "Controls" ejaculating their choicest scandalum magnatum. Some men of science — least of all their admirers — the parasites who bask in the sun and dream they are themselves that sun — are not likely to forgive you the sentence — really much too flattering — which ranges the comprehension of a poor, unknown Hindoo "so far beyond the science and philosophy of Europe, that only the broadest minded representatives of either will be able to realize the existence of such powers in man, etc." But what of that? It was all foreseen and was to be expected. When the first hum and ding-dong of adverse criticism is hushed, thoughtful men will read and ponder over the book, as they have never pondered over the most scientific efforts of Wallace and Crookes to reconcile modern science with Spirits, and — the little seed will grow and thrive.

In the meantime I do not forget my promises to you. As soon as installed in your sleeping chamber I will try and. . . . [Here three lines in the original letter have been completely erased apparently by the writer thereof. — ED].

I hope to be permitted to do so much for you. If, for generations we have "shut out the world from the Knowledge of our Knowledge," it is on account of its absolute unfitness; and if, notwithstanding proofs given, it still refuses yielding to evidence, then will we at the end of this cycle retire



  • Scandalum magnatum is a defamatory speech or writing against a great individual.

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into solitude and our kingdom of silence once more. . . . We have offered to exhume the primeval strata of man's being, his basic nature, and lay bare the wonderful complications of his inner Self — something never to be achieved by physiology or even psychology in its ultimate expression — and demonstrate it scientifically. It matters not to them, if the excavations be so deep, the rocks so rough and sharp, that in diving into that, to them, fathomless ocean, most of us perish in the dangerous exploration; for it is we who were the divers and the pioneers and the men of science have but to reap where we have sown. It is our mission to plunge and bring the pearls of Truth to the surface; theirs — to clean and set them into scientific jewels. And, if they refuse to touch the ill-shapen, oyster-shell, insisting that there is, nor cannot be any precious pearl inside it, then shall we once more wash our hands of any responsibility before human-kind. For countless generations hath the adept builded a fane of imperishable rocks, a giant's Tower of INFINITE THOUGHT, wherein the Titan dwelt, and will yet, if need be, dwell alone, emerging from it but at the end of every cycle, to invite the elect of mankind to co-operate with him and help in his turn enlighten superstitious man. And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice guided by the Brethren of the Shadow will be found to prevail.



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But until that day of final triumph someone has to be sacrificed — though we accept but voluntary victims. The ungrateful task did lay her low and desolate in the ruins of misery, misapprehension, and isolation: but she will have her reward in the hereafter for we never were ungrateful. As regards the Adept — not one of my kind, good friend, but far higher — you might have closed your book with those lines of [Alfred, Lord] Tennyson's "Wakeful Dreamer" — You knew him not —

"How could ye know him? Ye were yet within
The narrower circle; he had well-nigh reached
The last, which, with a region of white flame,
Pure without heat, into a larger air
Upburning, and an ether of black blue,
Investeth and ingirds all other lives. . . ."

I'll close. Remember then on the 17th of July and. . . . [Here again six lines in the original have been deleted. — ED.] . . . ., to you will become the sublimest of realities.


Sincerely yours,

K. H.



  • The poem "Wakeful Dreamer" describes an adept who has reached a higher level of consciousness and cannot be perceived properly by a person whose vision is limited by a lesser state of consciousness, a "narrower circle."
  • investeth is an archaic form of "invests." Here it means "saturates" or "imbues."
  • ingirds or "engirds" means "surrounds" or "encloses" or "wraps," as with a belt. Thus, the outer region encircles the person in the narrower circle, and also saturates him, but he is unable to perceive this layer of reality.

Context and background

This letter marks the beginning of the real teachings from the Mahatma, although a good deal of it is concerned with a prominent English member of the Theosophical Society.

A. P. Sinnett has designated July 8 as the date of receipt of this letter. However, in The Theosophist Supplement of the August 1881 issue, Tookaram Tatya, secretary of the Bombay Theosophical Society, in a report dated July 7, 1881, states that Sinnett arrived in Bombay on July 4 and, the next evening, July 5, gave a talk in which he said clearly that on that very morning, after breakfast, while he was sitting at a table in full light of day, he received a letter from his “illustrious Friend Koot Hoomi.”

Sinnett’s description of how the letter was received is extremely interesting. It is found in The Occult World (pp.154-55, 9th ed.). It is not in the first edition, as that had already been published; it was included in the second edition under the heading “Later Occult Phenomena.” In the 9th edition, the chapter is headed “Conclusion.”

Sinnett had written to the Mahatma before leaving London and was a little disappointed that no reply was waiting for him in Bombay. However, the morning following his arrival, when he and H. P. Blavatsky had finished breakfast, he was sitting talking to her when the letter came. This is his description:

We were sitting at different sides of a large square table in the middle of the room, and the full daylight was shining. There was no one else in the room. Suddenly, down upon the table before me, but to my right hand, Madame Blavatsky being to my left, there fell a thick letter. It fell “out of nothing” so to speak; it was materialized, or reintegrated in the air before my eyes. It was Koot Hoomi’s expected reply—a deeply interesting letter, partly concerned with private matters and replies to questions of mine, and partly with some large, though as yet shadowy, revelations of occult philosophy, the first sketch of this that I had received.

On the next page, he comments that for some time this was the only phenomenon accorded him, as "The Higher authorities of the occult world, indeed had by this time put a very much more stringent prohibition upon such manifestations..." The effect of the events at Simla the previous summer, he mentioned, "was not considered to have been satisfactory on the whole. A good deal of acrimonious discussion and bad feeling had ensued, and I imagine that this was conceived to outweigh, in its injurious effect on the progress of the theosophical movement, the good effect of the phenomena on the few persons who appreciated them." Another point about this letter is that—like some of the others—it was to have repercussions. In this instance, these were due to Sinnett’s indiscretion, or unwisdom, in making copious extracts from it for Stainton Moses, whom the Mahatma discusses confidentially, and at great length, in this letter.

Physical description of letter

The original is in the British Library, Folio 1. According to George Linton and Virginia Hanson,

In blue ink on both sides of 13 full-sized sheets of white paper. There are some smears and write-overs. On the last sheet and the next of the last some of the text appears to have been erased.[1]

Publication history

Commentary about this letter


  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), 60.