Sunday, May 8, 2011

Misinformation Files

Red Shambhala: Magic, Prophecy, and Geopolitics in the Heart of Asia by Andrei Znamenski is the title of a forthcoming book to be released in June by Quest Books, the publishing arm of the Theosophical Society in America. According to the author:

The first to introduce this legend [of Shambhala] into Western spiritual culture was the famous Western seeker Helena Blavatsky, founding mother of Theosophy,…Adjusting the Buddhist legend to the theory of evolution, which was becoming popular at the end of the nineteenth century, Blavatsky argued that Shambhala was the center of evolving superior wisdom—the abode of the so-called Great White Brotherhood located somewhere in the Himalayas. The hidden masters (whom she also referred to as mahatmas) from this brotherhood guided humankind in its evolution away from materialism toward the highest spirituality, which would eventually give rise to the superior sixth race that would replace contemporary imperfect human beings. Such politically incorrect generalizations, especially after what happened after World War II, might offend the sensibilities of current spiritual seekers, yet during Blavatsky’s lifetime and well into the 1930s, this kind of evolutionary talk was quite popular among all educated folk who considered themselves advanced and progressive, including Theosophists.

Blavatsky studies would have been enriched if the author had provided the source for his claims. Unfortunately, he has attributed later theosophical concepts that developed after Blavatsky’s death to her. This is also stated in another recent offering from Quest Books, but as Blavatsky News has pointed out: Blavatsky never used the term Great White Brotherhood. She never “argued that Shambhala was the center of evolving superior wisdom.” “Such politically incorrect generalizations” about Blavatsky do not inspire confidence in the rest of what Andrei Znamenski has to say in his book.

Read what Olcott had to say on the matter: The fact is—as I was told many years ago—the headquarters of the White Lodge [Olcott’s term, by his admission] is shifted from place to place according to the exigencies of occult management; it used to be in Arabia Petraea, but two years before the British came to possess themselves of Egypt it was removed to Tibet, not to Lhassa but to another place. When H.P.B. and I were preparing to come to India, arrangements were in progress for the removal of the White Lodge from Tibet to another retreat where there was the minimum chance of their being disturbed by any of these movings of pawns across the political chequer-board. The inaccuracy of the editors who have been talking about Lhassa as the “Mecca of Theosophy” will be apparent from what has been said above.—Old Diary Leaves, vol. 6.

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