Nov 26, 1993 10:31 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Thanks for your comments concerning C.W. Leadbeater. We've known
each other for many years, so I don't need to tell you that I
also don't derive much value from his writings either. If that
means as Brenda suggests, that my lack of appreciation for
Leadbeater indicates that I lack some spiritual perception, then
so be it.
On the other hand, my point concerning Leadbeater is that there
are people who do find value in his writings and are inspired by
him to become a better person and to live a more spiritual life.
For these people, it really doesn't matter about C.W.L.'s sexual
beliefs and practices. His followers are offended to hear about
these things, and deny or rationalize the documentation in such a
way as to maintain their belief in Leadbeater's spiritual status.
Don't forget, many theosophists believe Leadbeater was an Arhat.
H.P.B. also understood that certain people and institutions can
have less than ideal pasts, yet serve towards a spiritual good.
When she wrote ISIS UNVEILED, a large portion of the book was
dedicated to the origins of Christianity and makes a distinction
between the teachings of the Biblical Jesus, and the practices
and teachings of the churches. She exposed the Churches as the
power institutions that they are; yet, in the Introduction, she
expressed the hope that devout Christians who's lives have been
strengthened though their belief in Jesus, *not read* what she
says about the church in ISIS UNVEILED. In other words, she did
not wish to destroy the faith of those who live and practice the
ethics of true Christianity, by exposing them to the rather
unpleasant facts concerning historical Christianity and of the
Therefore, I will still hold to my opinion that "one way to test
relevance of the message of a teacher is to see how long it lasts
before it is forgotten." Take for instance your example of the
BOOK OF MORMON. The very reason that a following had arisen is
because people found spiritual meaning in this book. It really
doesn't matter that many of the animals it describes never
existed on the American continent, or that the Indians are not
generically related to the Jews. What is important is that the
devout followers of this religion try to lead better lives
because of it. When the Mormon religion ceases to have relevance
to its followers, then it will die as a movement. But I wouldn't
waste time waiting for this to happen soon. Presently it is one
of the world's fastest growing religions.
As the Maha Chohan said, religion is mostly superstition anyway.
The Theosophical Society was intended by the founders to be a
place where people would have an opportunity to separate truth
from superstition through study and realization. Yet there are
many members of the Theosophical Organizations who read and
absorb theosophical books and the pronouncements of the leaders
in the same manner as a devotee to a religion. They treat the
teachings as *revelation*, rather than helps to realization. It
has been my experience that followers of Leadbeater more often
take his teachings as revelation. But I have also seen this with
many students of Blavatsky. This, I believe, is contrary to the
purpose of the theosophical movement, and is the real problem
I agree with you that Leadbeater's ideas have blended with New
Age popular ideas. The popular understanding of theosophical
terms such as "astral" "Mahatma" "karma" "after death states" are
all consistent with the teachings of Leadbeater, and
contradictory to those of Blavatsky and the Mahatmas. Gregory
Tillett in the first part of THE ELDER BROTHER did a very good
analysis of this phenomena. What is sad to me, is that people,
including most Adyar theosophists attribute Leadbeater's
definitions to Blavatsky. I find this very sad and personally
frustrating when I try to carry on a conversation with these
On this note, I appreciate your essays on theosophical teachings,
and hope people are finding value in them. I would suggest,
however, that you take care to distinguish when you are drawing
information from Purucker's writings and when you are drawing
from Blavatsky's writings. Also, it might be helpful for you to
give references, where students may read these things for
themselves. If for no other reason--it is a good practice of
Received your message of November 22. The problem is as you
already understand it: You can send messages to my mailbox, but I
can't send any to you neither through Peacenet nor Internet. I'm
sure there is a solution, but this is all over my head, so I
asked John to help us, as he understands these things.
Regarding your question concerning vegetarianism in the
Theosophical Society, it started with Besant and Leadbeater.
Blavatsky, Olcott and Judge all ate meat and smoked. Though
Olcott tried vegetarianism for a while but went back to meat,
because it endangered his health. Blavatsky does discuss
vegetarianism briefly in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY (pp. 260-61), where
she argues for physical and psychological benefits in a
vegetarian diet. However, elsewhere, she argues that people do
not become more spiritual merely through being vegetarian. Even
"elephants are vegetarian" she says.
Besant and Leadbeater were vegetarians and were very influential
in making a large portion of the membership vegetarian also.
When Besant took over the Esoteric Section, she changed the
rules, making vegetarianism a condition for acceptance. During
Blavatsky's time, an E.S. member could smoke and eat meat, and
the only dietary prohibition was against the use of alcohol.
For the most part, members in the Theosophical Society (Pasadena)
and the United Lodge Theosophists are not vegetarians. Smoking
has gone down among these members, but I think this has been more
because of the influence of our past Surgeon General (Koop) than
any Theosophical teaching. Robert Crosbie, founder of U.L.T.
smoked and so did G. de Purucker. Purucker was a vegetarian part
of his life, but I understand that he ate meat during his time as
Leader of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). I believe Crosbie
also ate meat.
Regarding the smoking of cigarettes: I have often wondered if
the chemicals that they have been spraying on tobacco leaves
since WWII, (or earlier?) might be carcinogenic, and perhaps more
dangerous than the cigarettes. If this is so, than tobacco may
have been much safer in H.P.B.'s (1831-1891) or even Purucker's
(1875-1942) time than they are now. But not surprisingly, I have
never seen a study done on this.
I once jokingly asked an E.S. member if the Mahatma Morya would
be allowed to attend an E.S. meeting at Krotona (the national
E.S. center for the Adyar Theosophical Society). She replied:
"Of course we would, providing he leaves his pipe at the bottom
of the hill!"
The quote that we are looking for is somewhere past the middle of
the book, and, according to Arvind, relates to a prophesy of a
coming teacher in the 20th century who will expand on H.P.B.'s
Regarding the issue of "Truth," that I mentioned as "a much more
metaphysical question than appears on the surface"--I didn't go
into this in my last communication because of time. But in my
opinion, it is a subject that doesn't receive enough attention.
In our new study group here in Central California, we began with
an inquiry into the subject "Truth," and had some ten hours worth
of discussion and debate, before we had to cut it off to cover
other things. I think the first thing that we have to realize is
that most people unconsciously operate under the Comtian-
Positivistic conception of "truth." Auguste Comte (1798-1857)
is probably the least known of the influential philosophers that
we have. His philosophy of Positivism permeates all of the
sciences and the entire educational system that we grew up under.
Positivism has continued from the 1850's into the 1960's without
any serious opposition. Even now, though it is being openly
questioned, it still maintains as strong of a toe hold as even on
the institutions that shape our thinking. Positivism begins with
the assumption that truth exists "out there" and can be known
through observation and experimentation. H.P.B. made great sport
out of Comte in ISIS UNVEILED, trying to discredit him, because
of all of the underlying materialistic assumptions within his
philosophy. Another conception of truth that H.P.B. was trying
to promote was the Platonic idea that TRUTH (i.e. absolute truth)
exists and is symbolized in this idea of forms, but this TRUTH is
not knowable on this plane of existence, and is in fact only
knowable by Brahman (to use a theosophical phrase). Therefore,
the only thing that is knowable are relative truths. We can know
chairs, and even have a generalized concept of "chair" but we can
never know (as embodied beings) "chairness," that is the true
"form" of the chair. After "absolute truth," and "relative
truth," we get down to "personal truth." Those are the ones that
we know best, but unfortunately, the vary from person to person.
They don't exist "out there," but "in here," and are
discoverable through experience and dialogue. Sometimes they
lead us to greater truths--sometimes not.
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