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Response to Paul

Aug 18, 1994 11:24 AM
by Gerald Schueler

Paul: Yes, Crowley was influenced, to some extent, by the TS, through
Wynn Westcott, one of the three founders of the Golden Dawn and also a
member of HPB's inner circle.  Mathers, another G.D.  founder and
leader initiated Crowley into the higher degrees, and he (Mathers)
stated that he had met HPB and admired her.  I know that Israel
Regardie, who published the secret G.D.  material and who was Crowley's
personal secretary for a time, liked and admired HPB, because he told
me so shortly before he died.  Crowley never met HPB but openly admired
her.  However, he had an interesting misunderstanding of her Buddhism.
As you may know, Crowley wrote a lengthy commentary to her Voice of the
Silence in which he belittled and criticized her knowledge of Buddhism.
Crowley himself had been instructed in Buddhism by his good friend,
George Cecil Jones, who eventually left the G.D.  and England, and
became a Buddhist monk.  However, Jones was a Theravadin or Hinayana
Buddhist.  HPB wrote almost solely from the viewpoint of the Mahayana
Buddhist, of which very little was known in her day.  It was not until
D.T.  Suzuki and other Mahayana Buddhists (mostly Zen) began to write,
and to translate into English, that the Mahayana became better known.
Of course, a lot of credit here must also go to Evans-Wentz who
practically single-handedly brought Tibetan Buddhism to the West (I say
"practically" because Alexandra David-Neel and a few others also
helped).  And.  as you know, Evans-Wentz was a theosophist.  Anyway,
Crowley's attacks seem to me to be soley based on his misunderstanding
of the Mahayana teachings.  To Crowley, all Buddhism was Buddhism.  But
from my perspective, understanding both the Hinayana and Mahayana
(these terms were invented by the Mahayana Buddhists, by the way), both
Crowley and HPB are correct in what they wrote.  Apparently Crowley was
never made aware of his misunderstanding.  Anyway, this one work of his
is, to my knowledge, the only material Crolwey ever wrote that is just
plain wrong - and I think that it was the result of his confusing the
Mahayana and Hinayana teachings.

                                                Jerry S

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