Dec 27, 1994 07:04 PM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Regarding your post of 12/24 concerning authority and
controversy--I'll see what I can do to correctly read your
question and to made an intelligible reply.
CWL is C.W. Leadbeater. The only extensive biography on him is
Tillet's ~The Elder Brother~ ($12.00 through me--I'm a book
dealer). It was edited from a much longer doctoral dissertation.
Though the book is carefully researched and painfully accurate in
its presentation of documentation, it is considered "biased" by
theosophists who are devoted to CWL. Though I'm yet to find
anyone who can specify any errors of fact. What follows is a
very brief sketch to give you an idea of his place in
theosophical history: Charles Webster Leadbeater (1857-1934) was
originally a cleric in the Low Anglican church in London and was
also very interested in Spiritualism. After reading A.P.
Sinnett's ~The Occult World~, (which gives an account of
Sinnett's meeting and correspondence with HPB's Masters),
Leadbeater contacted Sinnett and joined the London Lodge of the
Theosophical Society in 1882. In 1895, he did some clairvoyant
research with Annie Besant and published a series of articles
entitled "Occult Chemistry", which is a clairvoyant analysis of
the elements. This series brought him a great deal of attention.
His ~Man Visible and Invisible~ published in 1904, brought him
further attention and renown as a clairvoyant. Further articles
he published discussed the former lives of members, bringing him
further popularity. From 1895 until 1906, CWL toured the world
on and off as a theosophical speaker, and was very well received
everywhere he went. In 1906, while in Chicago, he accepted some
young boys into his care for "occult training." When the parents
discovered the nature of this "training", they sought to have CWL
expelled. (Information concerning the charges has already been
discussed, so I won't repeat it here). Because he was a member
of the British Section, and not the American, CWL was recalled to
London, where H.S. Olcott, the International President, along
with General Secretaries and other officials of the Society
examined the evidence and heard CWL's testimony. CWL offered his
resignation at that meeting, and never rejoined the Theosophical
In 1907, Olcott died, and Annie Besant became the second
International President. In 1908, Besant announced her intention
to continue working with CWL through the Esoteric Section. Her
announcement set off major protest from those who present at the
1906 inquiry, and resignations.
In 1910, C.W. Leadbeater found the fifteen year old Jeddu
Krishnamurti, who was promoted as the "Maitreya" (i.e. defined
here as the embodiment of the spirit that had previously
incarnated on this earth as Gautama the Buddha and as Jesus the
Christ). This revelation caused further resignations--the most
significant being almost the entire German section leaving the
Theosophical Society in 1912. This section became the
Anthroposophical Society, under Rudolf Steiner.
In 1930, Krishnamurti dissolved the Order of the Star, resigned
from the Theosophical Society, and renounced his "messiahship."
Annie Besant died in 1933, apparently still believing in
Krishnamurti's status. C.W. Leadbeater died in 1934.
AP> Excuse the ignorant question but did Blavatsky believe in
AP> Did she think it important to obey them or to consult them in
For herself, yes. But that was between her and the Masters. It
affected no one else.
AP> Are there parallels between seeking the guidance and
direction of the masters to seeking the guidance of the "saints"?
Perhaps in todays Esoteric Section as reformed under Besant and
Leadbeater in 1908, such a parallel may be drawn. But not during
HPB's lifetime (1831-1891)--even in the Esoteric Section. HPB
taught seeking guidance from the higher self--i.e. the god
within you--not from the Masters.
AP> Or are the Masters like angelic beings?
The Masters described themselves as human--with physical bodies.
That is also how HPB viewed them. Under Leadbeater and Besant,
beginning in 1908, that view has changed considerably. Many
present day theosophists of the Adyar Society see the Masters as
something much akin to "angelic beings."
AP> One of my greatest problems is sorting out the metaphysics of
these questions. Are we speaking in metaphorical language, or is
there some referent that is beyond the mythic construct?
Good luck. It depends upon the "brand" of theosophy you are
examining. But I think in all cases, there is a "referent."
AP> The question of Authority, I would imagine is central to the
understanding of Masters, and goes in my opinion to the very
heart of the issue.
Once again, it depends upon the brand of theosophy.
AP> Authority, in my estimate, is a quasi-religious term which,
if I remember some Latin, means "to bind to"; it is similar to
the word religion. What, who or how I bind myself to something
is a spiritual matter. In my life I find that authority tends to
come in four forms: Revelation (the Scriptures or Priordial
writings), Tradition (the Enlightenment of Interpretors),
Experience (direct personal) and Cultural (society's questions
There was a very important theosophical pamphlet published in
1930 that addresses precisely this issue. If interested, I will
send you a copy. Authority from revelation began in 1908 under
Besant and leadbeater. The Priordial writings in this case, were
Besant and Leadbeater's writings, under the authority of the
Masters. Authority through Tradition, Experience and Cultural
predominated before 1908. I think HPB encouraged a balance of
the three, with personal experience being the highest authority
(if I understand your distinctions correctly). Rather than
"faith," she talked about "certitude," and "discrimination."
AP> I have wondered if the Secret Doctrine is in the Tradition or
the Revelation category.
There may be individuals who regard it as revelation, but HPB
very explicitly warned against this.
AP> I have been viewing the disagreement between Liesel and Paul
from the vantage point of binding authority. If I could be so
bold as to suggest, with no intention of fueling the flames, that
the argument appears to be about the difference of appealing to
direct experience on one hand and to the Tradition on the other.
I appreciate both approaches tradition and experience. Of
course, I may be talking nonsense since I understand virtually
nothing of either the experience or the tradition. But it just
makes sense of what I am reading from my beginner's mind
I see it this way too.
The nature of your questions concerning Theosophy have changed
significantly recently. I suggest that you would do very well at
this point to read ~The Key to Theosophy.~ I recommend the T.U.P.
Thanks for your post. I hope we hear more from you.
Welcome back on the net. My two cents worth below:
DC> I am trying to compile a list of suggested reading for the
inquirer interested in Theosophy and for the beginning student of
DC>(1) What 12 titles would you recommend an inquirer of
Theosophy to read and study?
It depends upon their interests, approach, and how they process
information. I have recommended different first books to
different people: ~The Voice of the Silence~, ~Key to Theosophy~,
and even ~The Secret Doctrine;~ also ~The Ocean of Theosophy~ are
among my typical selections. At the risk of sounding self
serving, some people have also found our video to be a good
DC> (2) What titles by H.P.B. would you suggest that a new
student to Theosophy should read first?
For our introductory study groups, we created our own material
and special methods for teaching it. Not all of it is HPB
material however. The first HPB article we have been using is an
abridged version of "What is Truth." But it has problems, has
required extensive annotations, and I'm looking for an
alternative. Before we created our own manual, we used at
different times, ~The Key~, ~The Ocean~, and sometimes selections
from the ~Collected Works~ of Judge and/or HPB. I don't think
the text is as important as the method of teaching and the
competence of the presenters/group leaders/teachers etc.
DC> (3) If you were exiled to a deserted, isolated island for the
rest of your life, what 12 Theosophical titles would you be sure
to take with you?
The ~S.D.~, the ~Collected Works~ (Am I cheating?), the collected
works, ~Ocean~, G.deP.'s E.S. materials (~Fountain Source~,
~Dialogues~), ~Fundamentals~ (both), ~Mahatma Letters.~
DC>(4) What is the best introductory biography on H.P.B.?
Cranston. But your ~Occult World of Madame Blavatsky~, though
not a biography, is very important, and should be mentioned more
DC>(5) What is the best introductory book on Theosophy?
Depends upon the inquirer.
DC> (6) Should a new student to Theosophy read ISIS UNVEILED, THE
SECRET DOCTRINE AND THE MAHATMA LETTERS? Or should he/she read
other simpler, introductory books first and then later read I.U,
S.D. and M.L.? Reasons?
I've known inquirers who got through the ~S.D.~ with no problems,
and others who have been studying for years and still don't get
it. I try to assess the level of the student and make
recommendations from there.
DC> (7) Can you recommend one or two good, reliable commentaries
on H.P.B.'s SECRET DOCTRINE?
I don't like any of them. Too often I find people using them as
a crutch, and never get around to studying the ~S.D~ through
their own brain.
DC> (8) If you had the chance to open a book store, what 12
Theosophical works would sure to be on your shelves?
Since I have a book store, I can speak from experience. The
first twelve would be the same list as in question three. They
may not be the hottest sellers, but I'm not in it for the money
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