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Sam Harris dishonesty about Helena Blavatsky in “Waking Up”

Sam Harris mentions Helena P. Blavatsky in the first chapter of Waking Up: Guide on Spirituality without Religion (2014), and he committed a poor mistake, with a very inaccurate, and incompetent account. It is rare for such an author to even mention Blavatsky, but it is unfortunate again, as always, that it is a slight, or sneer, and gives the wrong impression.

Sam Harris states the following:

“Everything about Blavatsky seemed to defy earthly logic: She was an enormously fat woman who was said to have wandered alone and undetected for seven years in the mountains of Tibet. She was also thought to have survived shipwrecks, gunshot wounds, and sword fights. Even less persuasively, she claimed to be in psychic contact with members of the “Great White Brotherhood” of ascended masters—a collection of immortals responsible for the evolution and maintenance of the entire cosmos.

Their leader hailed from the planet Venus but lived in the mythical kingdom of Shambhala, which Blavatsky placed somewhere in the vicinity of the Gobi Desert. With the suspiciously bureaucratic name “the Lord of the World,” he supervised the work of other adepts, including the Buddha, Maitreya, Maha Chohan, and one Koot Hoomi, who appears to have had nothing better to do on behalf of the cosmos than to impart its secrets to Blavatsky” (Sam Harris, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion, pg. 24.).

This is highly incorrect, and this is in first chapter, and goes entirely unaddressed.

  1. The mention of her weight. Why do researchers on Blavatsky like repeatedly mentioning her weight?
  2. Harris doubts her travels. Sylvia Cranston has dealt with this in “H. P. B.: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky.”
  3. She never called the school of her teachers in the Trans-Himalayas, the “Great White Brotherhood.” Stop it. This was Charles W. Leadbeater (and this is not a racial term).
  4. Ascended masters are fake. H.P.B. never mentioned anything about ascended masters. She criticized the idea of her copyists.
    • They were being promoted as Solar adepts by opportunists. K.H. and M. even mock in a letter, the ideas entertained about them. Their roles shift from students to “teachers” naturally, when they begin expounding on their philosophy and instructing the two Englishmen, A.O. Hume and A.P. Sinnett.
    • K.H., M. and the Chohan were flesh-and-bone men, and utterly repudiated being confused to be disembodied spooks.
  5. There is no leader from the planet Venus. You are a liar. Shambala is a mythical kingdom in Hindu and Buddhist tradition. What is the point?
  6. Sam Harris persists with this “Lord of the World” from Venus.
    • H.P. Blavatsky never mentions such an idea. This is Pseudo-Theosophy.
  7. By consequence, and by the choice of those teachers, she became their “agent.”
    • We advise the removal of the idea that this is something messianic.

One cannot defend oneself on air and podcasts about others misconstruing your words, but do the same, and get a freepass. We are different, believing there are ways the Modern Theosophists can be critiqued, but this creates a strawman, that we find too often on the internet.

Take a look at this forum in 2010 on Prison Planet.

  1. Eugenics is a great thing to Theosophists. What?
  2. The desire of the T.S. is to produce a new messiah or new age. No it is not. It was originally explicitly designed to expose such desires of groups. Unfortunately, some people after H.P.B.’s death had other plans. Alice Bailey makes this claim in her book, and people have quoted that, without even seeing if H.P.B. claimed such a thing. Bailey lied to buttress her claims.
  3. Theosophists have a fascination with UFOs. Lies.
  4. These people on this forum can’t even differentiate between Benjamin Créme, Alice Bailey, Hubbard and H.P. Blavatsky.
  5. Venus (lucifer) is special to Theosophists.
    • Not true, and the Theosophists do not worship Venus.

All their source information is through secondary works, or averse criticisms and cheap websites.


  1. This is a very good and much needed article.

    You quote Sam Harris as saying:

    “Their leader hailed from the planet Venus but lived in the mythical kingdom of Shambhala, which Blavatsky placed somewhere in the vicinity of the Gobi Desert. With the suspiciously bureaucratic name “the Lord of the World,” he supervised the work of other adepts, including the Buddha, Maitreya, Maha Chohan, and one Koot Hoomi . . .”

    Either Harris has not bothered to do his own research and is content to merely repeat others’ misunderstandings and misrepresentations or he is deliberately falsifying the facts.

    Either way, it was C.W. Leadbeater who introduced the notion of Sanat Kumara from Venus as Lord of the World, just as it was he also who first wrote about this Sanat Kumara governing and supervising the work of Buddha and Maitreya, the latter of whom received no emphasis in the original Theosophy of H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, and the actual Masters. Once more, it was Leadbeater who began the Maitreya craze, in 1909.

    The following are a few excerpts from the article “Sanat Kumara and the Pratyeka Buddhas” at

    – – –

    According to the original teachings of Theosophy, the Kumaras are the divine beings with which humanity is most concerned but none of them are described as dwelling at Shamballa.

    There is a Lord of Shamballa but, according to HPB and the Masters, he is a Great Being “which has to remain nameless.” This Great One is referred to as the Initiator, the Great Sacrifice, the Nameless One, the Wondrous Being, etc., and it is taught that he entered upon our globe in the early period of the Lemurian Root Race – prior to the awakening of individual consciousness in the general mass of humanity, which began to occur around the middle of that Root Race – into a physical body which had been created for him by Kriyashakti, in order to fulfill the most important and highest possible position here.

    . . . HPB made a point of explaining (in Volume 2 of “The Secret Doctrine”) that the Lord of Shamballa she describes is not any of the seven Kumaras but is higher than all of them. He is also not the Planetary Spirit of the Earth, for that Planetary Spirit – also spoken of as the Terrestrial Spirit and the Earth Spirit – is not of a very high grade, according to original Theosophy, and is in fact not a personal individual entity at all but a class or synthesis of “Forces of nature acting under one immutable Law.”

    The Wondrous Being who resides at Shamballa is the Supreme Head of the hidden esoteric Brotherhood which guides and watches over the spiritual evolution and advancement of humanity.

    However, according to neo-Theosophy or pseudo-Theosophy, the seven Kumaras all live at Shamballa and their chief is Sanat Kumara, who is presented as being not only Lord of Shamballa but also Lord of the World.

    It is claimed that he is the physical incarnation and representative on Earth of the “Planetary Logos” (remember that HPB and the Masters never once speak of a Planetary Logos or use this term at all) and that he came to our Earth from Venus in the middle of the Lemurian Root Race. This was 18 million years ago according to Alice Bailey and 6.5 million years ago according to C.W. Leadbeater. Leadbeater describes Sanat Kumara as descending to Earth in a giant fiery chariot from the actual planet Venus, whereas Bailey states that he actually came from “the Venus globe of our Earth Chain,” which is a concept unique to her.

    Neither HPB nor the Masters ever indicate any type of connection between the planet Venus and the Lord of Shamballa, nor between the planet Venus and Sanat Kumara. This concept is solely the invention of C.W. Leadbeater.

    In pseudo-Theosophy, Sanat Kumara is also called “The Ancient Days” but in original Theosophy this term refers to the Universal Logos and the Logos is of course not any type of Being or Entity whatsoever, as we have attempted to make clear in the articles ‘Understanding the Logos’ and ‘The Three Logoi.’ In Alice Bailey’s book “Initiation: Human and Solar” it is taught that Sanat Kumara is “a direct reflection of the One God,” that “none of us can pass beyond the radiance of his aura” and that it is in him that we live, move, and have our being. He is called “the Great King” by Leadbeater and Annie Besant and is even on occasion directly called “God” by Alice Bailey. This is the very thing which original Theosophy denounces as idolatry, superstition, and foolishness.

    . . . Some critical biographers of HPB have berated and ridiculed her in their writings about her life for concocting such a bizarre and fantastical tale as that described above about Sanat Kumara, apparently entirely oblivious to the fact that she never even taught or suggested such a thing. So HPB is ignorantly and unjustly made to pay the price for Leadbeater’s lies and delusions . . .

    – – –

    As you quite rightly point out, docility and timidity have no place in the life and work of students of Theosophy. It is our duty and responsibility to find out the facts and then present them as they are.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The appeal of Truth is weakening with every passing year.

    As the old saying goes – “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • I actually think people don’t understand Sam Harris, and he makes a mistake here. Wouldn’t call him a dummy or egoist though. He has a blindspot, but seems to be willing to listen to views, and alter them accordingly. However, his book was very widespread and published. So, millions have read this mistake in his book, which is very sad drawback. .

      Liked by 2 people

      • Well, I couldn’t cut the guy a break on this one, its pretty unforgivable and is sneering and dumb. On a couple of points, Blavatsky had Crones Disease and Dropsy, which I don’t remember the details, but the latter causes one to retain water and appear fat. Olcott remarks feeling the musket ball that was still in her arm(?). Bad karma for Harris.

        Liked by 1 person

      • To keep from spreading tales, the “Crone’s” disease is wrong. I believe it was Bright’s disease (high blood pressure, etc.) but don’t have a reference to hand.


    • I think he wouldn’t consider it. I haven’t read the book either, but I have heard of their team’s research, and it is interesting.


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