On The Feeling of Respect for One’s Teacher
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
To be able to defend one’s teacher from slanders and persecution is a privilege, if not for all students of Theosophy, at least for those who have some real knowledge of the esoteric philosophy and its ethical implications.
The many beneficial effects of such a defense should be identified and remembered. It is a fortunate circumstance, in a way, that since the 1880s theosophists from different parts of the world have had a number of occasions to defend Helena P. Blavatsky from her various slanderers. Yet if the same theosophists were in different points in time, the privilege would lead them to defend other sages.
Pythagoras, Socrates, Hypatia, St. John of the Cross, Paracelsus, Giordano Bruno, Baruch Spinoza, Alessandro Cagliostro and H. P. Blavatsky, all suffered persecution. And they are not exceptions in History. Examples are countless.
Wise people challenge the delusional routines of organized ignorance, and thus become the object of criticism.
For millennia now, nearly every brave soul who did any important work in favour of mankind’s evolution has been in one way or another misunderstood and attacked by his contemporaries. A Master of Wisdom wrote:
“It has ever been thus. Those who have watched mankind through the centuries of this cycle, have constantly seen the details of this death-struggle between Truth and Error repeating themselves. Some of you Theosophists are now only wounded in your ‘honour’ or your purses, but those who held the lamp in preceding generations paid the penalty of their lives for their knowledge. Courage then, you all, who would be warriors of the one divine Verity …” 
Whenever a teacher of universal wisdom is unjustly attacked or persecuted, Karma Law creates an opportunity for his or her students to preserve the common source of learning, thus creating good karma for themselves and for all those involved.
Through an active solidarity, the learner enhances his own magnetic link with the Messenger, and with the Wisdom behind the Messenger. By omission, though, the learner has his link to the source either damaged or destroyed, depending on the circumstances. The challenge is both individual and collective. Entire societies may fail the test.
The story of an event in the early days of the theosophical movement will illustrate the karmic consequences of defending - or not defending - one’s Teacher.
One day - during the late 1870s - Henry S. Olcott, the co-founder of the theosophical movement, met in New York a man with whom he stopped for a few moments to chat. Olcott wrote in his autobiographical work “Old Diary Leaves”:
“He was very prejudiced against H. P. B., and spoke very harshly against her, keeping to his opinion despite all I could say. At last he used such objectionable language that, in sheer disgust, I hastily left him and went on my way.”
A few hours later, when Olcott was at home, a paper was materialized - or precipitated - before him. It was a copy of three paragraphs from the Buddhist “Dhammapada” and one from the “Sutras”. The text came with the signature from one of the Adept-Teachers and a two-word message which simply said:
“The verses were reproaches to my address for having allowed H. P. B. to be reviled without defending her; unmistakably referring to my encounter down town with the person I had met, although no names were mentioned.” 
The importance of this event is that the lesson given by the message with the quotation from the “Dhammapada” and the “Sutras” is not limited to the past. The message will remain valid to the students of HPB in the 21st century and in the next centuries as well. The paragraphs quoted by the Master and sent to Olcott give every student real food for thought. Especially if students acknowledge that the soul of H. P. B. is, in fact, their brother. The three main paragraphs say:
* “He who hears his brother reviled, and keeping a smooth face leaves the abuse unnoticed, tacitly agrees with the enemy, as if he admitted the same to be proper and just. He who does it is either mouse-hearted, or selfishness is at the bottom of his heart. He is not fit as yet to become a ‘companion’.”
* “Revenge is sinful and throws the ‘companion’ in the embrace of Zahak. He who permits his left hand to be polluted with dung without immediately wiping it with his right cares little for the cleanliness of his whole body. What constitutes the integral? - Parts. Of what is composed a human body? - Of limbs. If one limb cares not for the appearance of another limb, is not Zahak ready with trowel and brush to blacken the whole? Such a ‘companion’ is not ready to become a Brother.”
* “It is easy to destroy the poisonous houâbà in its first germination. It is difficult to arrest its progress when once allowed to mature. Its unhealthy emanations will fill the atmosphere with miasmas. It will spread and infect its healthy brethren and cause the limpid waters of the lake to stagnate and dry. Avoid the houâbà and its husbandman, Beloved.” 
The message from the Master is as clear as clean water. Unfortunately, it did not prevent Henry Olcott from making other mistakes along the same line, later on.
Yet Olcott had the merit of defending H. P. Blavatsky against Mr. V. Solofiov’s libels. He wrote that Solofiov was “as heartless and contemptible, though fifty times more talented, than the Coulombs”. 
It is comparatively easy by now to see Olcott’s mistakes. Instead of dwelling too much on that, one should ask oneself: “What about my own failings?” No one should think he or she is automatically better situated than Olcott in this regard: self-examination is always useful.
Perhaps all sincere sectors of the theosophical movement need to deeply think about and learn Olcott’s lesson - in order to obtain more vitality. Thus they will be better able to fulfill their duty as to mankind’s progress, in the present century as in the future ones.
 “The Mahatma Letters”, Transcribed by A.T. Barker, T.U.P., Pasadena, California, see Letter LV, p. 322.
 “Old Diary Leaves”, H. S. Olcott, First Series, TPH, Adyar, 1974, 490 pp., see pp. 414-415.
 “Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom”, Second Series, transcribed by C. Jinarajadasa, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1973. See Letter 23, pp. 47-49. We did not find these passages in the versions of the “Dhammapada” that are presently available to us and to the public.
 “Old Diary Leaves”, H. S. Olcott, Third Series, T.P.H., Adyar, 1972, 460 pp., see p. 185.
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