Sep 17, 1995 07:21 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Last week Art Patterson suggested that I might post or suggest a
book or article that we might focus on for a week. Along with
posting the article or subject he also suggested that I might
perhaps give an informal response and/or pose some questions.
In repose to Art's suggestion, I'm posting the text of a very
scarce theosophical pamphlet written by J.J. van der Leeuw and
published in 1930. The subject concerns the conflict between
revelation and realization that has existed in the Theosophical
Society since the beginning, which van der Leeuw (and I) believe
is at the root of the failure of the Theosophical Society. For
those who are part of the ULT and Point Loma traditions, I would
suggest that the issues in this pamphlet also apply to these
organizations, though he is only addressing Adyar theosophical
To give a little background, the Adyar Theosophical Society was
undergoing a crises at the time this pamphlet was published.
Krishnamurti had been for some time contradicting the Master's
revelations and orders as given through Annie Besant and C.W.
Leadbeater, and by the end of 1929 Krishnamurti ordered the
dissolution of the Order of the Star and resigned from the
Theosophical Society. The text I am posting was originally a
talk given by J.J. van der Leeuw, where he analyses the
Theosophical Society in order to discover what went wrong.
Though this pamphlet is over sixty years old, I believe that van
de Leeuw's insights are as relevant today as they were then. I
believe that the underlying problems that plagued the TS in 1930
are the same today.
Johannes Jacobus van der Leeuw (1893-1934) joined the TS in 1914
and quickly became a valued member of the inner circle. By 1921
he became a Priest of the Liberal Catholic Church and won the
Subba Row Metal for ~The Fire of Creation~, a theosophical
classic that I believe is still in print. He also published ~A
Dramatic History of the Christian Faith~; ~The Conquest of
Illusion~; and ~Gods in Exile~. Tragically, like many before him
who questioned the actions of the wrong people, J.J. van der
Leeuw lost his standing in the inner circle after privately
publishing this pamphlet. Of course, this pamphlet has never
been reprinted and has become very scarce. If anyone is
interested in a copy of the pamphlet, I have xerox copies
available for $1 or for a one pound note (just to cover costs).
I believe this pamphlet to be the most important theosophical
document published at the time, and one of the most important
theosophical documents ever to be published. Van der Leeuw
struggles with the issue of revelations and realization in the TS
and how this conflict brought about a crises, which is still with
us today, and is (IMHO) primarily responsible for the poor state
of affairs of not only the Adyar TS, but for all theosophical
Organizations. I believe that it is only when the TS's are able
to come to grips with this issue that they will ever have a
chance to take their position as an important movement in the
Concerning questions; I have a few that might help to stimulate
more ideas, and hopefully others will raise more:
1. van der Leeuw offers four definitions of Theosophy, all
of which are used in our theosophical literature. Do you feel
that distinctions are made between these four definitions among
most theosophists? What problems do you see arising out of
having four definitions for this single word?
2. van der Leeuw argues that the world has changed
considerable since the 19th century--that there was an antithesis
between spirit and matter that no longer exists in the 20th
century. Do you agree? Do you feel that the Present TS still
operates under this antithesis? Do you feel that Blavatsky's
writings expressed this antithesis? The Mahatma Letters?
3. van der Leeuw says that "...a thinker is always a
disturbing influence." and that there has been no place for
thinkers in the Theosophical Society. Do you agree with van der
Leeuw's assessment? What about the great thinkers who joined
during HPB's time but soon left after she died: i.e. Yeats;
Gandhi etc. Why did they leave?
4. van der Leeuw says that the "brotherhood" offered by the
TS actually creates a barrier. What does he mean by this? Do
5. van der Leeuw says that Lodge life breeds mediocrity.
What has been you experience in Lodges? Do you find anything
familiar in van der Leeuw's description?
6. What is your evaluation of van der Leeuw's central
argument that revelation and Authority have worked
disharmoniously in the TS? How can the TS conquer this duality?
The next two posts will be the text of the pamphlet in two parts.
The entire text is about 15 pages.
Please reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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