[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

CWL and Theosophy

Oct 02, 1995 00:32 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins

Rich Writes:

>So let's get this straight:
>Charles W. Leadbeater was accused (with some proof) of molesting

 Yes. Keep in mind that he originally admitted the charges
made against him, but after the testimony was sealed by Olcott
and Besant brought him back into the TS in 1908, he denied all of

>he is pretty much proven to be a very bad clairvoyant,

 I never seen any formal proofs, but upon reading his
observations that they don't publish anymore, he looks pretty
ridiculous to me. The Mars civilization observation is just one

>and he founded the Liberal Catholic Church to carry on those
>very rituals and dogmas which HPB took such great pains to

 Others were involved in the LCC chapter too. Since it was
supposed to be the vehicle for the new religion that Krishnamurti
was to bring into the world, one wonders why it still exists.

>I don't understand why CWL would be drawn to use Theosophy as a
>vehicle for his "teachings" in the first place.

 Interesting question. Tillett suggests a likely answer to
this: In the early 1880's the Theosophical Society's membership
was mostly among the educated upper and professional classes of
people. When CWL joined through Sinnett, he made himself seven
years older, invented a university education for himself, had
traveled to South America, and gave his father an upper class
profession. Thus the TS was CWL's opportunity to move up in
society and make a name for himself. As for his teachings, they
don't strike me as original or systematic, but sort of a
hodgepodge of Sinnett's misreadings and CWL's imagination.
Remember CWL was in London Lodge and began by taking his queues
from Sinnett.

>When we compare Leadbeater to say, Judge, the difference is so
>great as to astonish one who realized that both were called
>"Theosophists" in their day.

 CWL was very much in the background until 1895 when he
started publishing a series of articles on occult chemistry. By
that time Judge was on the outs and the American Section was
declaring autonomy. So Judge and CWL were never really
contemporaries in this sense. Judge died just as CWL's career
was starting. Another difference was that Judge's writings
stayed very close to HPB's, while CWL, in the beginning, played
off of Sinnett who was involved with contacting the Masters
through a medium at that time. In the general sense of the term,
I think we have to call CWL a theosophical philosopher. The more
important question to me is whether CWL's writings are a true
continuation of HPB's. IMHO they are not.

>Nearly all of Leadbeater's books deal with psychism, while
>almost none of Mr. Judge's writings even mention psychic
>studies, except to condemn them.

 I think some of Judge's best articles are on psychism. The
difference is that Judge wrote about psychism, but didn't write
on the authority of his own clairvoyance, as did CWL. I think
the quality of Judge's writings on this subject still hold today.
Perhaps this is what you mean.

>I'm still incredulous that the majority of Theosophists in the
>world at that time respected and followed CWL while scorning
>HPB's teachings.

 Ignored might be a better word than scorned. CWL and Besant
just allowed her books to go out of print while they promoted
their own books. The explanation at the time, and even today,
was that HPB is very difficult to read, and that her writings are
"full of blinds" because she was not allowed to give out the
teachings in a clear manner. CWL and Besant on the other hand,
were able to give out the teachings in a more conplete and
clearer manner. Therefore, one should read Leadbeater and Besant
instead, and once you have a full understanding of the teachings,
you might take a look at HPB. This was the Adyar line, I still
hear it today, and most members don't question it.
 I think Brenda's recent post suggests the reason why people
love, respect and follow CWL. Remember she ended her "Love that
CWL" post with something like: "And to think, someday we will be
just like him." My guess is that most people who are long time
devotees of the Adyar TS find it exciting to think that we have
the potential to remember our past lives, to see what is going on
anywhere in the world or on other planets without leaving our
living room sofa. That through our benign will we can bring
blessings onto the world and raise its spiritual vibration, and
that someday we will be revered by the masses as one of the
Masters of wisdom. CWL's writings promise all of this, and the
ES was the path to accomplish all of these things. On the other
hand, HPB's writings are hard to read and they only offer
philosophical ideas. She also discouraged people from practicing
occultism until they get their own act together on a moral level.
Look at the ES instructions in Volume 12 of the collected
writings. HPB's rules had to do with behavior--gossip, back
stabbing, pride, passive agressiveness etc.--all of the problems
that plague the TS today. Yet, members wanted practical teaching
not moral training. Thus when the magical order of the Golden
Dawn formed in 1888, TS members left in droves to join that
organization. Nothing like it was offered in the TS or the ES.
The Golden Dawn had ceremonies that were supposed to create
magical effects. People want to learn practical occultism and to
be powerful. They want to fight those nasty black magicians who
conspire to destroy the TS by spreading all of those "lies" about
CWL. They want to be clairvoyant just like CWL. In 1908 (now
that Olcott was safely dead) CWL and Besant revived and
reformulated the ES to include CWL's notions of an inner
government of Masters, with the ES becoming the door through
which a member may gain initiation into Masterhood. They also
created ceremonies to create "eucharistic forms" to raise the
spiritual vibration of humanity. They were told that they were
"doing the Master's work" by participating in these ceremenies.
Thus the desire for personal power was satisfied, and all of
HPB's warnings about moral and ethical behavior is lost in
confusion. Even today, people in general, never mind the TS,
confuse following the law with moral behavior, and education in
moral and ethical reasoning is passe. Kant's ethical imperative
of acting in the best interests of the whole is replaced by the
situational ethic of asking onself; "what action will bring the
most personal advantage. No wonder HPB commented in the ~Voice
of the Silence~ that the Eastern ethics are so far beyond the
West that it would do no good to repeat them. I think Damodar
was right when he argued that TS members should be given a moral
and ethical education before they are allowed to study
theosophical teachings. I raised this issue on theos-l a year or
so ago. I was angerly told by one participant that "ethics has
no place in theosophy." Another told me that the "discussion of
ethics was a waste of time." So this is where we are, and it
makes me sad.

>Is it any wonder that Theosophy has so little public hearing
>today, so little attention paid by the intelligentsia and
>empowered folks?

 Under HPB the TS was a progressive and controversial
organization that attracted some of the greatest minds of the
time. After 1908, the TS became a cult, and today is ridiculed
as such. As far as I'm concerned, the TS is just reaping its own
karma. What bothers me is that due to general ignorance
concerning TS history, the general public blends CWL and Besant
together with Blavatsky. HPB's accomplishments are forgotten in
light of what CWL and Besant made of the TS.

>It makes me very, very sad that Theosophy was de-railed by the
>very people who were charged with upholding it until the next
>Messenger was to come.

 The members assumed in the early 1890's that Judge would
succeed Olcott, since Judge was the only other founder of the TS
who stayed with it. This was never questioned until Besant and
Olcott began their campaign to discredit him. As for the
successor to the ES, it is not at all clear what HPB's intentions
were. Adyar has a pseudo history that the successorship was
passed to Besant at the time of HPB's death, but this was
impossible because Besant was out of the country when HPB died.
Also there are no domuments or witnesses to support this supposed
successorship. IMHO, the ES and the Inner Group should have been
closed because no teacher equal to HPB ever appeared. But one
thing is very clear, neither Olcott, Blavatsky nor the Masters
ever intended that one person hold both the offices of President
and Outer Head. See letter #19 in Jinarajadasa's ~Letters to the
Masters of Wisdom.~ IMHO, putting all of that power into the
hands of one person was the tragic mistake that created the
monster that we have today.

Jerry Hejka-Ekins
Please reply to:,
and CC to

[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application