Letter №29


Letter №29 (ML-29)

Mahatma M. - A.P. Sinnett/A.O. Hume

October, 1881

Covers - 1.  Pages - 18.

Cover sheet


Letter №29 Cover sheet

M's letter about Hume.


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In answer to yours I will have to reply by a rather lengthy letter. To begin with I can say the following: Mr. Hume thinks and speaks of me in a way which need only be noticed so far as it affects the frame of mind in which he proposes to apply to me for philosophical instruction. For his respect I care as little as he for my displeasure. But passing over his superficial disagreeableness I recognize fully his goodness of motive, his abilities, his potential usefulness. We had better get to work again without further parley, and while he perseveres, he will find me ready to help — but not to flatter, nor to dispute.

So utterly has he misunderstood the spirit in which both the Memo and P.S. were written, that had he not placed me during the three last days under a debt of profound gratitude for what he is doing for my poor old chela, I would have never gone to the trouble of doing what might seem as an excuse, or an explanation, or both. However that may be, that debt of gratitude is so sacred, that I now do for her sake, what I might have refused doing even for the Society: I crave the Sahibs' permission to acquaint them with some facts. With our Indo-Tibetan ways the most sagacious English official is not yet acquainted. The information now offered may be found useful in our future transactions. I will have to be sincere and out-spoken and Mr. Hume will have to excuse me. If I once am forced to speak I must say ALL, or say — nothing.

I am not a fine scholar, Sahibs, like my blessed Brother; but nevertheless, I believe, I understand the value of words. And if I do, then am I at a loss to understand, what in my P.S. could have so provoked the ironical displeasure against me of Mr. Hume? We of the Indo-Tibetan hovels

sagacious means far-sighted or discerning.

Sahib means "friend" in Arabic and was commonly used in the Indian Sub-continent as a courteous term in the way that "Mr." and "Mrs." are used in the English language.

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never quarrel (this in answer to some expressed thoughts in relation to the subject). Quarrels and even discussions we leave to those, who unable to take in a situation at a glance are thereby forced before making up their final decision to anything to analyse and weigh one by one, and over and over again every detail. Whenever we — at least those of us who are dikshita — seem, therefore to an European not "quite sure of our facts" it may be often due to the following peculiarity. That which is regarded by most men as a "fact" to us may seem but a simple RESULT, an after thought unworthy of our attention, generally attracted but to primary facts. Life, esteemed Sahibs, when even indefinitely prolonged, is too short to burden our brains with flitting details — mere shadows. When watching the progress of a storm we fix our gaze upon the producing Cause and leave the clouds to the whims of the breaze which shapes them. Having always the means on hand — whenever absolutely needed — of bringing to our knowledge minor details we concern ourselves but with the main facts. Hence we can hardly be absolutely wrong — as we are often accused by you, for our conclusions are never drawn from secondary data but from the situation as a whole.

On the other hand, the average man — even among the most intellectual — giving all their attention to the testimony of appearance and outward form, and disabled as they are from penetrating a priori to the core of things are but too apt to misjudge of the whole situation left to find out their mistake but when too late. Owing to complicated politics, to debates

dikshita is a Sanskrit term for initiated or dedicated.

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and what you term, if I mistake not, — social talk and drawing-room controversies and discussions, sophistry has now become in Europe (hence among the Anglo-Indians) "the logical exercise of the intellectual faculties," while with us it has never outgrown its pristine stage of "fallacious reasoning," the shaky, insecure premises from which most of the conclusions and opinions are drawn, formed and forthwith jumped at. Again, we ignorant Asiatics of Tibet, accustomed to rather follow the thought of our interlocutor or correspondent than the words he clothes it in — concern ourselves generally but little with the accuracy of his expressions. Now this preface will seem as unintelligible as useless to you, and you may well ask: what is he driving at. Patience, pray, for I have something more to say before our final explanation.

A few days before leaving us, Koot'hoomi speaking of you said to me as follows: "I feel tired and weary of these never ending disputations. The more I try to explain to both of them the circumstances that control us and that interpose between us so many obstacles to free intercourse, the less they understand me! Under the most favourable aspects this correspondence must always be unsatisfactory, even exasperatingly so, at times; for nothing short of personal interviews, at which there could be discussion and the instant solution of intellectual difficulties as they arise, would satisfy them fully. It is as though we were hallooing to each other across an impassable ravine and only one of us seeing his interlocutor. In point of fact, there is nowhere in physical nature a mountain abyss so hopelessly impassable and obstructive to the

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traveller as that spiritual one, which keeps them back from me."

Two days later when his "retreat" was decided upon in parting he asked me: "Will you watch over my work, will you see it falls not into ruins?" I promised. What is there I would not have promised him at that hour! At a certain spot not to be mentioned to outsiders, there is a chasm spanned by a frail bridge of woven grasses and with a raging torrent beneath. The bravest member of your Alpine clubs would scarcely dare to venture the passage, for it hangs like a spider's web and seems to be rotten and impassable. Yet it is not; and he who dares the trial and succeeds — as he will if it is right that he should be permitted — comes into a gorge of surpassing beauty of scenery — to one of our places and to some of our people, of which and whom there is no note or minute among European geographers. At a stone's throw from the old Lamasery stands the old tower, within whose bosom have gestated generations of Bodhisatwas. It is there, where now rests your lifeless friend — my brother, the light of my soul, to whom I made a faithful promise to watch during his absence over his work. And is it likely, I ask you, that but two days after his retirement I, his faithful friend and brother would have gratuitously shown disrespect to his European friends? What reason was there, and what could have caused such an idea in Mr. Hume's and even in your mind? Why a word or two entirely misunderstood and misapplied by him. I'll prove it.

Don't you think that had the expression used "coming to hate the Sut-phana" been changed into and made to read "coming to feel again flashes of dislike" or of temporary irritation this sentence alone would have wonderfully changed the results? Had it been so phrased Mr. Hume would hardly have found an opportunity for denying the fact as vigorously as he did. For there he is right and the WORD is wrong. It is a perfectly correct statement

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when saying that such a feeling as hatred has never existed in him. Whether he will be as able to protest against the statement in general remains to be seen. He confessed to the fact that he was "irritated," and to a "feeling of distrust" created by H.P.B. That "irritation", as he will no longer deny, lasted for several days? Where does he then find the misstatement? Let us moreover admit, that the word to use was an incorrect one. Then, since he is so particular in the choice of words, so desirous that they should always convey the correct meaning, why not apply the same rule of action to himself? What might be well excused in an Asiatic ignorant of English and one, moreover, who never was in the habit of choosing his expressions, for reasons given above, and because among his people he cannot be misunderstood ought to — become inexcusable in an educated, highly literary Englishman. In his letter to Olcott he writes: "He (I) or she (H.P.B.), or both between them, so muddled and misunderstood a letter written by Sinnett and myself as to lead to our receiving a message wholly inapplicable to the circumstances and such as necessarily to create distrust." Humbly soliciting permission to put a question — when did either I, or she or both of us, see, read and hence "muddled and misunderstood" the letter in question? How could she, or I, have muddled that, which she had never seen, and I, having neither inclination nor right to look into and mix myself in an affair concerning but the Chohan and K.H. — never paid the slightest attention to? Did she inform you on the day in question, that it was in consequence of that letter of yours that I had sent her into Mr. Sinnett's room with the message? I was there

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respected Sahibs, and can repeat to you every word she said: "What is it?. . . What have you been doing, or saying to K.H." — she shouted in her usual excited nervous way to Mr. Sinnett who was alone in the room — "that M., (naming me) that he should be so angry — should tell me to prepare to go and settle our headquarters at Ceylon?" were the first words she said, thus showing that she knew nothing certain, was told still less, and simply surmised from what I had told her. And what I had told her, was simply that she had better prepare for the worse and depart to settle in Ceylon than make a fool of herself, trembling so over every letter given to her to forward to K.H.; that unless she learned to control herself better than she did, I would put a stop to that dak business. These words were said by me to her not because I had anything to do with your or any letter, nor in consequence of any letter sent, but because I happened to see the aura all around the new Eclectic and herself, black and pregnant with future mischief, and I sent her to say so to Mr. Sinnett not to Mr. Hume. My remark and message upsetting her (owing to that unfortunate disposition and shattered nerves) in the most ridiculous way, the well known scene ensued. Is it because of the phantoms of theosophical ruin evoked by her unbalanced brain that she is now accused — in my company — to have muddled and misunderstood a letter she had never seen? Whether there is in Mr. Hume's statement one single word that might be called correct — the term "correct" being now applied by me to the actual meaning of the whole sentence, not merely

dak, (Hindi dāk, from Sanskrit drāk, "quickly") refers to a system of mail delivery or passenger transport by relays of bearers or horses stationed at intervals along a route.

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to isolated words — I leave to the judgment of minds superior to those of Asiatics. And if I am permitted to question the correctness of opinion in one, so vastly superior to myself in education, intelligence and acuteness in the perception of the eternal fitness of things — in view of the above explanation, why should I be held as "absolutely wrong" for the following statement: "I have also seen the growing up of a sudden dislike (say irritation) begotten of distrust (Mr. Hume confessing to, and using the identical expression in his answer to Olcott — please compare quotation from his letter as given above) on the day I sent her with a message to Mr. Sinnett's room." Is this incorrect? And further: "they know how excitable and ill balanced she is, and this hostile feeling on his part was almost cruel. For days he barely looked at her let alone speaking to her — and inflicted upon her supersensitive nature severe and unnecessary pain! And when told of it by Mr. Sinnett he denied the fact! . . ." This last sentence, continued on page 7 with many other like truths, I tore out with the rest (as upon enquiry you can ascertain from Olcott, who will tell you that originally there were 12 pages, not 10, and that he had sent the letter with far more details than you now find in it, for he is unaware of what I have done, and why it was done. Unwilling to remind Mr. Hume of details long forgotten by him and irrelevant to the case in hand, I tore out the page and obliterated much of the rest. His feelings had already changed and I was satisfied.)

Now the question is not whether Mr. Hume "cares a twopence" if his feelings are pleasing to me or not, but rather

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whether he was warranted by facts to write to Olcott as he did, i.e., that I had entirely misunderstood his real feelings. I say he was not. He can no more prevent me from being "displeased," than I can go to the trouble of making him feel otherwise than what he now feels, namely, that he does "not care a twopence whether his feelings are pleasing to me or not." All this is childishness; and he who is desirous to learn how to benefit humanity, and believes himself able to read the characters of other people, must begin first of all, to learn to know himself, to appreciate his own character at its true value. And this, I venture to say, he has never learned yet. And he has also to learn in what particular cases results may in their turn become important and primary causes, when the result becomes a Kyen. Had he hated her with the most bitter hatred, he could not have tortured her foolishly sensitive nerves more effectually than he has, while "still loving the dear old woman." He has done so with those he loved best, and, unconsciously to himself, he will do so more than once in the hereafter; and yet his first impulse will be always to deny it, for he is indeed fully unconscious of the fact, the extreme kindness of his heart, being in such cases entirely blinded and paralyzed by another feeling, which, if told of, he will also deny. Undismayed by his epithets of "goose" and "Don Quichote," true to my promise to my Blessed Brother, I will tell him of it whether he likes it or not; for now that he has openly given expression to his feelings, we have either to understand each

Kyen refers probably to the Tibetan word rKyen that means "conditioning factor, a secondary cause."

Don Quichote refers to the main character of the novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes.

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other or break off. This is "no half veiled threat" as he expresses it for "a threat in a man is like the bark in a dog" — it means nothing. I say, that unless he understands how utterly inapplicable to us is the standard according to which he is accustomed to judge Western people of his own society, it would simply be a loss of time for me or K.H. to teach and for him to learn. We never regard a friendly warning as a "threat," nor do we feel irritated when it is offered to us. He says that personally he does not care in the least, "were the Brothers to break with him to-morrow," the more reason then that we should come to an understanding. Mr. Hume prides himself in the thought that he never had "a spirit of veneration" for anything but his own abstract ideals. We are perfectly aware of it. Nor could he possibly have any veneration for anyone or anything, as all the veneration his nature is capable of is — concentrated upon himself. This is a fact and the cause of all his life-troubles. When his numerous official "friends" and his own family say that it is conceit — they misstate and say a very foolish thing. He is too highly intellectual to be conceited: he is simply and unconsciously to himself the embodiment of pride. He would have no veneration for even his God, were not that God — of his own creation and making; and that is why he could neither be made amenable to any established doctrine, nor would he ever submit to a philosophy that did not come all armed, like the Grecian Saraswati or Minerva, out of his own — her father's — brain. This may throw light upon the fact why I refused giving him during the short