[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

RE: Theos-World Response to Leon followed by Peter's original posting on "Thin Oblong Squares".

May 04, 2000 05:50 AM
by W. Dallas TenBroeck

May 4th


Dear Peter and Leon:

Pardon my breaking in on this exchange, will you ?

RE:  "Thin Oblong Squares" (or "Discs" or "OBLONGS")  -- on which
THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE  texts were originally seen and from
which copied by HPB. (Introduction).

[ As usual the scholars are all excited -- but how about the
TEACHINGS?  What no comments ?  All this without any disquisition
on the value of the TEXT ?  Why not give at least equal time to
that ? ]

That (the changes) is something I could not easily explain
without Tony's good work.

I mean the several changes, now that my attention is drawn to
them.  I admit that with me, this meant very little, as long ago
(around 1942) I had compared (proof-read) the T. Co. publication
with the 1st Edition of 1889 and found it accurate and
trustworthy enough, so it could be used by a student (in spite of
Stokes correct observations as to changes from the 1st Edition of
1889, of which I was also aware since many years -- I always
blessed whoever thought of bringing the end-notes under the text
so that they were transformed into easily referable foot-notes --
now I find it was Mr. Judge in the 1893 first New York printing
of the VOICE).

I was, and have always been, focussed on what was SAID, on what
HPB TAUGHT US.  And not how it was physically recorded.  Once
that I assured myself that I could use the modern printing
without worry, I paid no more attention to that side of things.
Look at the amount of time we have recently spent back and forth
on the matter.  As far as I can see it is a waste.  But perhaps
that is my exasperation speaking.  As Karma would have it this
"loose end" is now caught and fastened.


Have we actually deepened our Heart and Mind perception -- or is
all this -- froth and fuss -- on the mere surface of things?  I
fancy that a 100 or a 1000 years from now no one will care as to
HOW the Text was recorded so long as IT WAS RECORDED -- and that

In passing may I observe that when I was living in India, Ceylon,
Burma, etc... (35 years) one could occasionally find old "ollas"
or "palm-leaf books, sized in appearance as "squares" or
"oblongs,"   inscribed with a stylus in the physical matter of
the still green and soft (now dried) palm leaves.  They were
squares and ovals and sometimes long parts (10 or 15 inches long
and about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches wide) of actual (now) dried palm
leaves -- and generally they were all threaded together by 1 or 2
strings,  so the continuity was maintained as the student read
them and then reassembled them for storage -- usually between a
pair of carved or painted "Book-ends" of wood.

I have also seen ancient paper "squares" or "oblongs" and even
"discs" -- all lacquered, and threaded together to keep them
assembled in the right order -- and these were generally stored
in a small painted or carved wooden box (when not between
book-ends)  -- and such records might contain copies of original
texts or commentaries on them, or other matters.

So I admit I paid no special attention to the description of the
physical side of the record -- I always wanted to understand what
was written, and why.

Similarly for the changes in the way the information was
re-presented to us, students:  was the text essentially correct?
For instance in the 1st Edition the word UPADYA does not exists
in either Sanskrit or Bengali.  The correct word is UPADHYAYA,
(as corrected in the 2nd 1893, London Edition).  Anyone who has
been in Bengal for a while knows that the term means "Spiritual
Teacher", and some Brahmin families use it as a surname.

So I admit I am not a purist in the mere physical aspect of
things.  However, to broadly and pointedly smear the publication
is also not correct and is in fact an exaggeration.  All facts
ought to be admitted so that an "even field" of fairness and true
accuracy is established.  The first allegations have been
modified by late findings as several students cooperated in
ferreting out the facts.  So it is incorrect as well as
ungenerous to maintain them without acknowledging that subsequent
work does, in fact, adjust matters.  Those are my opinions,

I suppose that this that I write, will be used and attacked also.
Enough time has been wasted, I think.

Best wishes,




-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Peter
Sent: Tuesday, May 02, 2000 4:49 PM
Subject: Theos-World Response to Leon followed by Peter's
posting on "Thin Oblong Squares".

Dear Leon,

With regards H.P.B's use of the term "oblong squares" in the
edition of "The Voice of the Silence" and its deletion in the
Company/ ULT edition, you wrote:

> The word "oblong square" is a meaningless term, perhaps
> even an oxymoronic one, that Judge, as both an occultist
> who was greatly trusted by HPB, as well as an accomplished
> writer, editor and scholar, recognized as a mathematically
> (as well as a scientifically) incredible term.
> there can be no such thing as an "oblong square."
> So, Judge was perfectly justified in editing out the offending
> words and substituting what was really meant.

First of all, Leon, putting aside who may have the edited out
this term, I
disagree with you that the term "Thin Oblong Squares" is a
meaningless term,
and I believe HPB also disagrees with you, as I will show in my
posting on this subject that follows.  It may APPEAR a
meaningless oxymoron
to someone looking at it from a purely linear and physical plane
point of
view.  But, HPB uses the term purposefully as one containing
significance.  It has to do with matters of 'the HEART', and not
of the

It is all very well for you to say the Judge was an Occultist
trusted by HPB and so on, I agree with you.  Can you also accept
that HPB
was an Occultist, "an accomplished writer, editor and scholar",
as well as
being Judge's senior and Teacher in Occult matters and greatly
trusted by
the Masters.  Where does this kind of reasoning lead us?

Importantly, if being an Occultist is the bases for knowing
whether what is
written is valid from an Occult point of view,  can you also
accept that as
an Occultist HPB might just have known what it was she intended
when writing
about the Golden Precepts, that:

"The original PRECEPTS are engraved on thin oblong squares.."
  (Original edition, page vii, caps added where italics put in

It was at her Master's request that HPB wrote the Voice of the
Writing to the members of the Esoteric Section, she stated:

"Read 'the VOICE', I say.  It was written for, and dedicated to
you, by

(Collected Writings Vol XII, p505, caps added at end of sentence)

I think that last phrase is worth reflecting upon by those who
would like to
justify the altering of HPB's words by making out that HPB
quickly "dashed
off" THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE and thereby  made careless
mistakes. Can
anyone who has studied HPB's life and work seriously suggest she
would "dash
off" such a work and leave careless mistakes when she was given
the task by

As a 'by the way', it is not clear to me that Judge did carry out
all the
alterations to THE VOICE.  For prior to Judge's 1893 edition,
there was a
London edition published in 1892, after HPB had died, and
probably done by
G.R. Mead.   This earlier edition contains all the alterations
that Daniel
mentioned in his recent post.  Perhaps Judge did not realise that
had been made to it when it passed through his hands - who knows.
But I
wonder, will you and ceertain others still be happy with the
made to THE VOICE if it turns out to be altered by Mead and
possibly Besant
rather than by Judge?

For me the simpler and truer course is to stick with the original
and study it as HPB wrote it.  While the Theosophy Company has
yet to
republish HPB's original edition of THE VOICE, it is with the
mentioned thought in mind that I feel grateful to the Theosophy
Company for
its sterling work over many many years in publishing and
spreading the
original teachings of HPB around the world.

My primary interest is NOT in *who* altered The Voice of the
Silence after
HPB died.  For me this is a complete distraction from the real
issue.   My
sole aim is to study and validate those teachings given out by
the Masters
and the Occult Brotherhodd through HPB, the latter being Their
agent", as claimed by Them.  I can only do that when I study what
ACTUALLY wrote and not by reading what other people BELIEVE SHE
SAID and thereby changed her words, after she died.

Leon, you also stated:

> I also cannot see how any such materially descriptive word,
> correct or incorrect, has any reference to theosophy, its
> truths, or its recommended yoga practices, esoteric or not.
> I hope we can all get back to discussing... "theosophy"

The post in question, where I share my own view on this term
"thing oblong
squares", along with other matters, will follow in my next mail.
It was,
and is, offered as a sincere attempt to show that HPB had very
THEOSOPHICAL and OCCULT reasons for using that term.  Whether or
not you and
others agree with what I present therein it is nontheless offered
as an
attempt to study Theosophy, which seems to be our joint desire.

I request it be treated as such, no more and no less.


-- THEOSOPHY WORLD -- Theosophical Talk --

Letters to the Editor, and discussion of theosophical ideas and
teachings. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message consisting
"subscribe" or "unsubscribe" to

-- THEOSOPHY WORLD -- Theosophical Talk --

Letters to the Editor, and discussion of theosophical ideas and
teachings. To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message consisting of
"subscribe" or "unsubscribe" to

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application