Mahatma Letter to H. S. Olcott - LMW 1 No. 54

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Written by: Narayan
Received by: Henry Steel Olcott
Sent via: unknown 
Written on: unknown
Received on: August 1877
Other dates: none
Sent from: unknown
Received at: New York
Via: unknown

This is Letter No. 54 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, in which Master Narayan comments to Henry Steel Olcott about Emily Kislingbury.[1] In editions 1945-1974, before the First Series was resequenced in 1988, this was called Letter 41.

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Note by Master Narayan

Note written in red following postscript:

She is a sweet, truthful, sincere nature. Would to heavenly powers there were a few more like her in London. Teach her & take care of her.

[Signature in unknown script]
Tell her I was several times with her at the Hdqrs.



  • The signature was by the Master Narayan, also known as Rishi Agastya.
  • the Hdqrs refers to the headquarters of the British National Association of Spiritualists in London.

Page 1 transcription, image, and notes

Emily Kislingbury letter to Col. Olcott:

Niagara Falls. Sept 30th 1877

Dear Col. Olcott

Very many thanks for so fully answering my letter. I hope I am not bothering you too much by writing some more. It is time that I shall see you in a few days, but I can think so much better alone, & my travelling companion having just left me, I have a whole day's complete solitude & silence, and you can answer me when I come.

1) If Jesus had the complete knowledge of man's true nature & of the powers appertaining thereto, why did he not teach the same to his disciples who were, as shown in some recorded instances, anything by self-controlled?

2) Why did not he, or they, frame



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a system of self-discipline, or make a training in the same a condition of baptism, or true membership of their churches, instead of framing a system of theology built upon faith, which has been a subject of dispute ever since, & productive of some of the worst passions?

3) if Jesus had understood his own mission, could he have been so misunderstood by his followers, & would the Christian Church have been so great a failure as it is now?

What I find in the teaching of Jesus, is the substitution of unselfish for selfish motives, of unselfish for selfish aims. Love your enemies & do good, hoping for nothing again; "be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." But the means to



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this desirable end, the line of rails between the starting point & the goal, is nowhere laid down. A few have tried self-discipline, and it has degenerated into a barren and self-righteous asceticism, or into a hollow & sensuous ceremonial. Some have attempted benevolence & charity, but these being generally being misdirected, have corrupted more than they have healed.

"Keep the commandments & thou shalt live" was surely a better injunction than "sell all that thou hast & give to the poor;" & it seems to one that the young man went away sorrowing, not because he had great possessions, but because he felt the insufficiency of the reply.

If from a knowledge of the occult or true powers of the spirit & the



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astral body can be evolved a system of training which can be applied more or less to all men & women, the world will indeed be the gainer & this is what the world's thinkers are waiting for. We are weary of criticism, & of demolishing the old land-marks, & if example can be of any avail, I am most willing to give up every thing for this one end. But how are we to do it, if those who know go & busy themselves in Ceylon, & save their own souls, while Europe, even London alone, has its starving millions, we strive for the bread of life?

But there again, suffering the body to be in perfect subjection, can there be anything higher than love for one's ...., ..., & truth for its own sake? Any greater discipline than self-denial for the good of others, are not these, after all, in the teaching



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of Jesus, though hidden under masses of theology, & made of secondary importance in the teaching of the Churches?

I quite accepted the doctrine of the trinity in main, and I think you will find it prevail, more or less distinctly among our English Spiritualism. What I would want to know is – by what means is the spirit to be sustained & strengthened, if there is no prayer, no communication between this world & a higher one, no leaning on an arm that is stronger than our own, no guidance along dark paths, no help outside of ourselves?

Must we continue to go blundering along, buying our own experience, & never arriving at any solution of the



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mysteries of our existence? shall we never have done surveying the country, & be able to lay out charts for the guidance of ourselves & others? And now I wonder whether I have troubled you unnecessarily, or whether all these things are going to be solved in "Isis Unveiled." If so, God speed the distribution of that book, for it is sadly wanted.

I have just been reading Emerson's Essay on Immortality. It is very [??] stuff indeed. He acknowledges that he can say very little on the subject.

I have head from London that my leave of absence has been extended to three months by a special resolution of the Council, proposed by Mr. Lowe. So now I shall have plenty of time to learn my lessons with you.

Very truly yours,

Emily Kislingbury



  • leave of absence is from her position as secretary of the British National Association of Spiritualists.

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Note attached to letter

Letter 41

See comment in red pencil by Master Agastya at end of letter following postscript

"She is a sweet, truthful, sincere nature. Would to heavenly powers there were a few more like her in London. Teach her & take care of her. [Signature] Tell her I was several times with her at the Hdqrs."



Context and background

Mr. Jinarajadasa provided this background information:

There is a photographic reproduction of this Letter in The Theosophist, December 1933, p. 310. It appears at the bottom of the last page of a letter written by Miss Emily Kislingbury to Colonel Olcott. She was the secretary of the British National Association of Spiritualists of London. She went to the U.S.A. on a holiday in August 1877. She had already joined the Society in February of that year. She wrote to Colonel Olcott from Niagara Falls to announce her arrival in New York, and on opening her letter he found this message. The Master who wrote it is the same as the writer of Letter 24 in the second series of these letters. At the bottom of Letter 24, H.P.B. has written in blue pencil, ‘the old gentleman your Narayan’, as the signature in it is in an unknown script. The handwriting of the letter which is at the end of Miss Kislingbury’s note is the same, though the signature, again in an unknown script, is different. This Adept is he who helped H.P.B. constantly in he writing of Isis Unveiled, and was often in her body writing and meeting people. He is known in India by the name which he bore thousands of years ago, the Rishi Agastya, and is one of the few adepts who are in old bodies. In 1885, he was living not far from Madras, and C.W. Leadbeater has narrated how T. Subba Row and he went by train to visit the venerable Master. The Master has all India under his charge as the occult administrator of her destinies, and has been therefore called by some, the Regent of India. I have been unable to find where the original letter is, though a speech of Miss Kislingbury’s after her return to London is pasted in H.P.B.’s scrap-book, vol. IV. It describes phenomena by H.P.B., and states about her, ‘my acquaintance — my friendship — a friendship to last I hope for life and for ever, with the being called Madame Blavatsky’. ‘Headquarters’ evidently refers to the offices of the Spiritualist Association. Miss Emily Kislingbury was faithful to the end, and was of the group round H.P.B. when she passed away. A faded photograph of her is reproduced in The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society, p.25.[2]

Physical description of letter

The original of this letter is preserved at the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai, India.

Publication history

There is a photographic reproduction of this Letter in The Theosophist, December 1933, p. 310. It was not published in the early editions of Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series. It first appeared as Letter 41 in the 1945 edition, and was renamed as Letter 54 when the First Series was resequenced in 1988.

Commentary about this letter

Additional resources


  1. C. Jinarajadasa, Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series (Adyar, Chennai, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 2011), 118, 168-170.
  2. C. Jinarajadasa, 168-170.