A Ravine in Tibet
[CWL joined the Theosophical Society in November 1883. After his contact with Madame Blavatsky in London he became very keen to offer himself as a chela (disciple) of one of the Mahatmas. He wrote him a letter in March 1884 but only received his reply in October of that year. Below is the text of the Master’s letter to CWL.]
Last spring – March the 3rd – you wrote a letter to me and entrusted it to “Ernest”. Tho' the paper itself never reached me – nor was it ever likely to, considering the nature of the messenger – its contents have. I did not answer it at the time, but sent you a warning through Upasika.
In that message of yours it was said that, since reading Esot. Bud: and Isis your “one great wish has been to place yourself under me as a chela, that you may learn more of the truth.” “I understand from Mr. S.” you went on “that it would be almost impossible to become a chela without going out to India”. You hoped to be able to do that in a few years, tho' for the present ties of gratitude bind you to remain in this country. Etc.
I now answer the above and your other questions.
 It is not necessary that one should be in India during the seven years of probation. A chela can pass them anywhere.
 To accept any man as a chela does not depend on my personal will. It can only be the result of one's personal merit and exertions in that direction. Force any one of the “Masters” you may happen to choose; do good works in his name and for the love of mankind; be pure and resolute in the path of righteousness [as laid out in our rules]; be honest and unselfish; forget your Self but to remember the good of other people – and you will have forced that “Master” to accept you.
So much for candidates during the periods of the undisturbed progress of your Society. There is something more to be done, however, when theosophy, the Cause of Truth, is, as at the present moment on its stand for life or death before the tribunal of public opinion – that most flippantly cruel, prejudiced and unjust of all tribunals. There is also the collective karma of the caste you belong to – to be considered. It is undeniable that the cause you have at heart is now suffering owing to the dark intrigues, the base conspiracy of the Christian clergy and missionaries against the Society. They will stop before nothing to ruin the reputation of the Founders. Are you willing to atone for their sins? Then go to Adyar for a few months. “The ties of gratitude” will not be severed, nor even become weakened for an absence of a few months if the step be explained plausibly to your relative. He who would shorten the years of probation has to make sacrifices for theosophy. Pushed by malevolent hands to the very edge of a precipice, the Society needs every man and woman strong in the cause of truth. It is by doing noble actions and not by only determining that they shall be done that the fruits of the meritorious actions are reaped. Like the “true man” of Carlyle who is not to be seduced by ease – “difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death are the allurements that act” during the hours of trial on the heart of a true chela.
You ask me – “what rules I must observe during this time of probation, and how soon I might venture to hope that it could begin”. I answer: you have the making of your own future, in your own hands as shown above, and every day you may be weaving its woof. If I were to demand that you should do one thing or the other, instead of simply advising, I would be responsible for every effect that might flow from the step and you acquire but a secondary merit. Think, and you will see that this is true. So cast the lot yourself into the lap of Justice, never fearing but that its response will be absolutely true. Chelaship is an educational as well as probationary stage and the chela alone can determine whether it shall end in adeptship or failure. Chelas from a mistaken idea of our system too often watch and wait for orders, wasting precious time which should be taken up with personal effort. Our cause needs missionaries, devotees, agents, even martyrs perhaps. But it cannot demand of any man to make himself either. So now choose and grasp your own destiny, and may our Lord’s the Tathagata’s memory aid you to decide for the best.
(Source: Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, Edited by C. Jinarajadasa, letter #7)
[This was received on the night of the same day in which CWL received the first letter.]
Since your intuition led you in the right direction and made you understand that it was my desire you should go to Adyar immediately – I may say more. The sooner you go the better. Do not lose one day more than you can help. Sail on the 5th if possible. Join Upasika at Alexandria. Let no one know you are going and may the blessing of our Lord, and my poor blessing shield you from every evil in your new life.
Greeting to you my new chela.
Show my notes to no one.
(Source: Letters of the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, letter #8)
Facsimile of the second letter received by CWL from Mahatma K.H. (Source: The Theosophist, February 1927)
[The following message appeared written on the back of a letter from Madame Blavatsky to CWL, dated 23 June 1886, while she was in Germany, and he was in Colombo, Sri Lanka.]
TAKE courage. I am pleased with you. Keep your own counsel, and believe in your better intuitions. The little man has failed and will reap his reward. Silence meanwhile.
(Source: Letters of the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, letter #50)