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Dealing with CWL

Aug 15, 1994 09:51 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

Since I feel caught somewhere in the middle of the Brenda vs.
Jerry discussion, it would be smarter to keep my head down, and not
risk making both sides madder.  But a sense of loyality to the
theos-l dialectic is making me stick my neck out this far:

If I thought the Adyar TS and its national sections were strongly
pro-Leadbeater, I wouldn't belong to the Society.  As a member who
is a friend of Gregory Tillett and accepts his work as the best to
date on CWL, I regret the reception his book received.  But I can
understand it.  My reading is that CWL's intellectual, emotional
and spiritual influence on the minds and hearts of members has been
going steadily downward for 50 years and will continue to do so.
A public repudiation of him by the TS would to some extent violate
the freedom of thought of members who retain ties to him.  But
Brenda, you are wrong in my opinion to treat Jerry's public
criticisms as violations of your personal freedom of thought.  How
can they possibly be?

My reading of the Theosophical approach to CWL is that there is a
core of loyalists who want to read his books and revere him; the
majority of members is embarrassed by his life and teachings; a few
want to publicly repudiate him; the leadership wants to minimize
conflict concerning him.  The whole issue of Krishnamurti's real
status and relationship to the TS will continue to engage our
thinking for a long time to come, and CWL is a key player in this
story.  So it all has to be hashed out eventually, but I'm willing
to wait a long time rather than see us torn apart by the process
starting now.

I have a regret about the touchiness of the CWL issue that probably
is quote opposite to your feelings, Jerry H-E.  My sense is that
Annie Besant really was one of the great world leaders of her time,
and did approximately what HPB's Masters wanted to be done for
India.  Properly appreciating her accomplishments and virtues is
made difficult, however, by the passions aroused by the CWL debate.

Another controversy.  While Jerry's position that HSO threw HPB
overboard to some extent is true, I see Olcott in a much more
positive light than his critics do.  After all, he continued to
have close, trusting relationships with a variety of distinguished
Asian spiritual leaders well after HPB's death.  Olcott was much
more "in the loop" and proactive in Theosophical history than has
been acknowledged by his critics.  The extent of his
accomplishments, like Besant's, makes him deserving of much greater
honor than he has received.

There are a lot more than two sides to this issue, and I hope that
we can all accept that our dialectic (not just on theos-l but
generally as new research and discussion emerges) will bring forth
all sides until a more comprehensive understanding emerges.  And
that we can somehow keep loving one another through all the
inevitable differences of opinion.

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