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leadbeater again

Dec 01, 1993 05:03 PM
by eldon

Jerry H-E & Sarah K:

When we talk about Leadbeater, the type of person he was, the life that
he led, the validity of his psychic powers, and his status in the Adyar
T.S., we are just looking at the personality of one fellow among the
ranks of theosophists.

Leadbeater was a key figure in T.S. history, except for in 1906 when he
was expelled and denounced by Annie Besant, but later reinstated and
accepted back into the T.S. He wrote a large number of books, some
assisted by Ernest Wood, his personal secretary, who, for instance,
wrote portions of and assembled "Talks on the Path of Occultism" from
lecture notes of his and of Annie Besant's.

Not every aspect of his personal life was good by today's standards,
and not everything that he claimed to see psychically held up as real.
(He did not know, for instance, that one of his invisible helpers
friends had died, and wrote him a letter.)

His writings, though, are easier to read, and even if they lack the
depth of Blavatsky's works, they can interest people in the philosophy.
My personal experience is an example, I got into Theosophy through
first reading his books.

It is possible to make side-by-side quotes to show where he differs
from Blavatsky. Such an approach, though, is subject to abuse, since
someone's published views could change over time, and it might depend
upon which quote was selected whether there was agreement or not.

The best approach is to work on uncovering and presenting the major
points of philosophy missing from what Leadbeater taught, and those
that Leadbeater misunderstood. When he came to Theosophy, for instance,
he first read the writings of Sinnett, and read that Mars and Mercury
were part of the earth chain. H.P.B. plainly states in "The Secret
Doctrine" that such an idea is wrong, but Leadbeater had read that they
were part of the earth chain and thought he saw them as such, in his
psychic explorations.

It's a fact of the psychic senses that our expectations bias what we
see, and a good portion of Leadbeater's materials are presentations
based on his psychic experiences, rather than upon his *study of the
philosophy*, and they therefore were subject to error.

His books are mostly light reading, because they were written plainly,
and not in the indirect manner in which the Mysteries were taught,
as Purucker's were. When young, I found such books as "Invisible
Helpers" fun to read, and believing that they described real, possible
experiences, and I was stimulated to want to be psychic like
Leadbeater was.

It was only later, with further study in Theosophy, in reading books
more in line with the original teachings as found in Blavatsky's works,
that my interest in his books began to wane. As I came to see that
what he wrote was not possible, in the theosophical scheme, but rather
matched more closely the view of the Spiritualists, I lost interest
in his books.

There is some of the theosophical philosophy in Leadbeater's books,
some mixed in with other elements that are not quite right. These
other elements may attract people to study Theosophy who might not
have otherwise noticed it. And like Alice Bailey, he refers readers
to Blavatsky, so there is the possibility that readers will move on
to more advanced works later. His writings could be considered as an
introductory step to learning Theosophy.

When I introduce people to Theosophy, there are a number of books by
other authors that provide an excellent introduction. They do not
contain the other material, the divergent views of Leadbeater's, so I
prefer to recommend them to new people.

I would not, though, tell someone who studies Leadbeater to stop doing
so, to change over to other authors. I realize that the process of
learning requires new ideas to arise *from within* and I cannot
externally bring another to change his views.

The best approach that I've found to dealing with others is to allow
them their own views, to go as deeply into the philsophy as I can, and
try to share what I've found to the extend that I'm able to do so.
Others can read what they like, although for myself there's not enough
hours in the day to read every book that may come my way. I know where
my goldmine of study is, and leave it to the discrimination of others
as to where and what they may mine for.

As long as we go for the best that we can find, as we delve into the
philosophy with an open mind and an eager intellect, as we try to
truly give expression in our lives to the grand truths that we find,
we are doing well. Let's find the best sources of study for our own
purposes, and allow our fellows the right to do the same.

                               Eldon Tucker (

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