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Letter to the Editor

Govert Schuller

Dear editor,

I read with interest Pablo Sender's article "Mahatmas versus Ascended Masters" in the summer 2011 issue of Quest. He seems to make a strong case for Theosophists not to take the Ascended Master teachings coming from the Ballards and Prophets serious. The discrepancy between on one side the writings of Blavatsky and the Mahatma Letters and on the other side the channeled material from Ascended Master groups is just too big for the latter to have any footing. But on closer reading there are numerous methodological, factual and metaphysical problems confronting the more attentive student. Please allow me therefore an amicus brief on behalf of the defendants in this case.

First, the almost thirty notes within the text coming from a selection of eleven publications are practically all primary Theosophical sources. These precise sources are then pitted against generalized, un-sourced depictions of what the writer perceives to be accurate presentations of Ascended Master teachings, with all channelers lumped together without any other differentiation. Sometimes he is right, sometimes he is wrong. How can a reader of this magazine, absent adequate and fair references, find out for him or herself? And even if references were given, one would not find any works by Ballard or Prophet at the Olcott Library at The Theosophical Society of America. I was assured that some works were present at the library but were purged by orders from a leading Theosophist. The situation in the Netherlands is more fortunate with the main library of the Dutch Section of The Theosophical Society carrying more than sixty titles by the Ballards and Prophets in both English and Dutch.

Secondly, many of the depictions of Ascended Master teachings are not accurate. I have been a member of The Summit Lighthouse founded by Mark Prophet and I am very familiar with its teachings. Contrary to what Mr. Sender posits, those teachings on the dangers of the human ego, the illusory nature of reality, the value of compassion and altruism and the essence of a Master are in spirit similar, if not, at least highly compatible with Theosophy. Admittedly, there are serious discrepancies also, but those can have multiple reasons and are not, in my opinion, necessarily to be decided in favor of Blavatsky or the Mahatma Letters. That would boil down to a dogmatism Blavatsky herself would abhor. Nor should these discrepancies be construed as sufficient evidence to dismiss the Ascended Master teachings. So far students of Theosophy and Theosophical libraries have been quite tolerant, even appreciative, of many metaphysical authors deviating from the Blavatskyan oeuvre, like C.W. Leadbeater, Rudolf Steiner, Alice Bailey and J. Krishnamurti. Even the New Age channelers J.Z. Knight, Shirley MacLaine and Helen Shucman are not left in the cold. Why this, and here I speak also from personal experience, cold shoulder to a body of influential and serious teachings?

Lastly, to put the whole problematic in a historical perspective, I like to present the following overarching hypothetical narrative, within which the problematic of discrepancies takes on a quite different color. The Theosophical Society was founded, not only to re-introduce to the west the idea of an Ancient Wisdom, but also to prepare the world for the coming of a great teacher. This World Teacher Project was started with J. Krishnamurti as the possible vehicle for this teacher. Unfortunately Krishnamurti decided to go his own way, denounced Theosophy, and gave the world a terse and exoteric version of Advaita Vedanta. Meanwhile the Masters implemented Plan B to give the world the new teachings promised and to compensate for the failed World Teacher Project. This was done, starting in the early 1930s, with Guy and Edna Ballard. They released what is now known as the Ascended Master teachings, which were a continuation, with here and there some corrections, of Theosophy. Their torch was carried on later by Mark and Elizabeth Clare Prophet with the latter being a good candidate of principal messenger for the Masters in the Theosophically significant last quarter of the 20th century. (For a footnoted version of this narrative see my "The Masters and Their Emissaries: From HPB to Guru Ma and Beyond."

Given the above considerations I do not think the case Mahatmas vs Ascended Masters can be decided in favor of the plaintiffs and I urge any potential juror to do his or her own independent research.

Govert Schuller
Naperville, Illinois


Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America 100/1 (Winter 2012): 4.


Above is the longer, original letter to the editor. A shorter version was published because of space constraints.

See also response by Paula Kehoe.



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