Sincerity is the First Step, And There Can Be No
‘Search for Truth’ in the Absence of Truthfulness
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Franz Hartmann and Helena P. Blavatsky
The contrasting complexity of human soul must be recognized as a fact, if one is to understand the spiritual path, which is, of course, the steep and narrow path to truth.
Very different impulses coexist in each human being. Loyalty, therefore, is not a simple process, although it is indispensable. Honesty and truthfulness are the first inevitable step, without which theosophy and spirituality make no sense. Yet they cannot be taken for granted.
Dr. Franz Hartmann is a shining example of that. There is no reason to consider all his writings honest and reliable, or to think that the letters he said he received from the Masters were authentic. Their originals never appeared. Such “letters” are full of personal compliments and praise to Hartmann, while real masters never flatter anyone.
Moreover, Hartmann was a compulsive liar and a living paradox. He continuously harassed and calumniated H. P. Blavatsky while presenting himself as her friend.
There were karmic reasons for Blavatsky and other theosophists to tolerate Hartmann within the esoteric movement. The doors of the movement have to remain open. A chance must be given to all. The theosophical project has always been under probation and having to confront one karmic test after another, since its foundation in 1875. Everyone’s discernment and love for truth must be strengthened by facing a thousand challenges in many different ways. The fact remains that Hartmann was a liar, according to the founder of the movement, and evidences of that are available even now. Referring to him, Blavatsky wrote:
“The magnetism of that man is sickening; his lying is beastly; his slander of Hübbe Schleiden, his intrigues unaccountable but on the ground that he is either a maniac – utterly irresponsible for the most part, or allowed to be possessed by his own dugpa Spirit. He is exceedingly friendly with me – and was trying all the time to put me up to every kind of mischief.” [1]
She also said:
“Poor Hartman. He is a bad lot, but he would give his life for the Masters and Occultism, though he would do far more progress with the dugpas [pseudo-spiritual liars] than with our people. He is like the tortoise – one step forward and two back; with me now he seems very friendly. But I cannot trust him.”[2]
In 1938, Mr. H. N. Stokes, the editor of the magazine “The O. E. Library Critic”, uncovered one of the hidden, ambiguous attacks made by Hartmann against Blavatsky.
Mr. Stokes cautiously calls Hartmann an “eminent author”, while clearly unmasking him as a man who defends lies:  
“I recently read a pamphlet by Dr. Franz Hartmann, published many years ago and entitled Wahrheit und Dichtung, or as we may translate, “Truth and Romance”. In this it was maintained that while Madame Blavatsky occasionally indulged in fraudulent phenomena, according to the author’s suspicious, this was a matter of small importance because her philosophical teachings were valuable. In short, it was a defense of committing fraud, provided no one reality suffered financially or otherwise, in order to sustain a good cause. With all respect for the eminent author this seems to me wholly abhorrent. It is the Jesuitical dictum, ‘The end justifies the means’, all over again. It is permissible to lie, to cheat, to swindle, provided it hurts no one, if thereby some good end is effected. If you can save a soul by performing a fake miracle, or cure its body by passing off the leg bone of a sheep as the relic of a saint, well and good.”
And H. N. Stokes adds:
“There must be something fascinating about this view, else no otherwise honorable person would accept it. Is it theosophical? The motto of the Theosophical Society is: ‘There is no Religion higher than Truth’.” [3]
Stokes then shows in his article the importance of demonstrating the most basic fact that in spite of what her calumniators – “friendly” or unfriendly – may say, Helena Blavatsky was a totally honest woman, and is only attacked because she uncovered the frauds of dogmatic religions.
It is easy to find misinformed and good-willing people in esoteric circles who believe that “a little falsity” is part of life, and that promoting false teachings or protecting a “friendly” fraud can be helpful to the cause of altruism. 
It is necessary therefore – for both ethical and pedagogical reasons – to let the people who approach the movement know from the very beginning that any and every form of deliberate falsehood involving teachings leads to a true hell – the hell of delusion and disconnection from truth.
‘The Talking Image’: the Attack
Disguised  Under a Friendly Attitude
In his serial novel “The Talking Image of Urur”, published in “Lucifer” magazine starting in December 1888, Franz Hartmann uses deliberate ambiguity to attack the theosophical movement under the elegant appearance of a good-willing satire.
The novel and its mockery got gradually more offensive from month to month, until HPB lost her patience and the novel “ended” in the February 1890 edition. This happened a little more than one year before her death.  Blavatsky’s mission was facing various problems.[4] Significantly, that same issue of the magazine opens with HPB’s article “The Last Song of the Swan”, which she starts by discussing “the poetical but fantastic notion (…) about swans singing their own funeral dirges”, and goes on to examine the killing power of influenza in those years. She would die of influenza, in May 1891. The many disgusting lies and covered attacks made by Hartmann between 1884 and 1890 didn’t help her, or her mission.
One can see how HPB tries to deal with the novel “The Talking Image of Urur” and related difficulties within the movement, in her article “On Pseudo-Theosophy”.
[1] “The Letters of H. P.  Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett”, TUP, Pasadena, California, 1973, 404 pages, Letter L (50), see p. 121.
[2] “The Letters of H. P.  Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett”, TUP, Pasadena, California, 1973, 404 pages, Letter XLVIII (48), see pp. 118-119.
[3] “The O.  E. Library Critic”, edited by H. N. Stokes, March 1938 edition, front cover, article “To the Friends of Madame Blavatsky”, first paragraph.
In order to know more about the ill-disguised hostility of Dr. Franz Hartmann against the theosophical leaders and the cause of humanity, see the article Letters Between Blavatsky and Judge – 01”. 
The article “Franz Hartmann or the Need for Honesty” was published in the independent websites on 21 November 2021. An initial, anonymous version of it can be found in the October 2021 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pp. 05-07, under the title “Franz Hartmann’s Falsity or, Why a Profound Honesty Is the First Step”.
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Helena Blavatsky (photo) wrote these words: “Deserve, then desire”.