Keeping the Link Unbroken: Theosophical Studies Presented to Ted, G, Davy on His Seventy-fifth Birthday

Keeping the Link Unbroken: Theosophical Studies Presented to Ted, G, Davy on His Seventy-fifth BirthdayEd. Michael Gomes

N.P: TRM [Theosophical Research Monographs], 2004, [vi]+xxxii + 197 pages.

Ted Davy is one of the central figures of Theosophy in Canada, perhaps most widely known for his thirty years of editing the Canadian Theosophist, which was one of the foremost Theosophical journals in the world under his editorship. The present volume is a Festschrift (a "festival writing") by some of his friends to mark three quarters of a century in his life.

The front matter includes a personal reminiscence by his wife, Doris, and a bibliography of his writings, two charming and useful introductions to the twelve pieces that follow. The body of the volume is eleven essays, which consist of five essays on Theosophical subject matter, six biographical essays, and a jeu d'esprit acrostic consisting of lines from the index to The Secret Doctrine, whose first letters spell out "Doris & Ted Davy."

In the first of the initial five essays, John Patrick Deveney asks why Theosophical historians do Theosophical history. His answer, apart from the inevitable Mt. Everest one, is an esoteric intuition that the isolated fragments of historical detail "will allow us to strip away the mask and allow us to see the truth beyond the history." Robert Hütwohl examines accounts of previous Buddhas, Henk J. Spierenburg looks at the secret doctrine of the Rabbis, and Leslie Price reconsiders Esoteric Christianity. David Reigle considers in patient detail "The First Fundamental Proposition of the Secret Doctrine" in a clear, well organized, and perceptive reading of what is arguably the most basic Theosophical statement ever written. His essay is a model of close reading and lucid explication, which should be studied by every serious Theosophical student.

The biographical essays, all of great historical interest, are treatments of Albert Smyth and Henry Newlin Stokes by James Santucci, of B. P. Wadia by Dallas TenBroeck, of Victor Endersby by Jerry Hejka-Ekins, of Henry Erie Russell and the trust he established in his mother's name by Ernest Pelletier, and of a number of early Theosophists by Joan Sutcliffe. Michael Gomes's essay on "Anagarika Dharmapala at the World's Parliament of Religions" is actually far broader than its title would suggest. It treats much in the life of this early Theosophist who became a champion of the Buddhist revival, in which Henry Steel Olcott also played a seminal role. The scope and detailed documentation in this concise treatment of an internationally and historically significant figure makes this essay an especially significant contribution.

This volume is a worthy tribute to an honored Theosophical scholar and gentleman. That final compound epithet is a cliché, but in this case its use is apposite and literal. One can only add one's best wishes ad multos annos!


September/October 2005