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Is Theosophy becoming a Religion?

Jun 16, 1996 10:25 AM
by senzar

 The following copyrighted article is posted here with
 the permission of the author.


          "... A CHURCH ON MY GRAVE."
                 by S. Treloar
       (Copyright February 1996 S. L. Treloar)

 [The following is the address and conflation, that the
 writer would have delivered to the 120 anniversary of
 the T.S., at Toronto Lodge last November, had he been
 able to attend.]

 	My concern, now that the Theosophical Society has
 passed the 120 year mark since its inception, is whether
 it will survive in any recognizable form, or even
 survive - period. Any organization that stiffens,
 crystallizes in its beliefs and attitudes, will then
 break apart and die, to paraphrase a Master. This can be
 seen amply by looking at the history of organizations
 and in particular, religious organizations. Why does a
 form, any form, die? So that the life within can escape,
 and if not perfected, go into another form (or create
 it) that allows for further growth and expression and
 expansion in new ways. The crystallized form has become
 too rigid to suit: the form is more plastic to the needs
 of the life, until the new form begins to stiffen. The
 more changeable the form, and therefore the more
 adaptable, far longer the life of the form, organism,
 organization. The personality expressions in an
 organization type of form are part of the form, and not
 its life. The life is the Soul aspect, which ever

 	H. P. Blavatsky said, shortly before she died,
 speaking of what she could `foresee would be happening
 to her T.S.: "... they are going to build a church on my
 grave." And this said with tears in her eyes. Some have
 said that this was a prediction of the presence of the
 Liberal Catholic Church on the grounds of Adyar, or the
 prevalence of the Liberal Catholic Church amongst many
 T.S. members, and almost nowhere else. This is not so.
 H.P.B. was complaining that the TS she helped to found
 would become a religion, which is now to so many
 members, if not in actual legal fact, but treated as
 such. The TS was never intended to be a religion. HPB
 and the Masters quoted in *The Mahatma Letters* had many
 condemning words to say against religion and
 priestcraft, and with good reason, in particular the
 dogmatism that is part and parcel of any religion. One
 reads in the masthead page of *The Theosophical Digest*,
 "Theosophy is not a religion. The term has been used as
 an expression of the ageless wisdom of life that has
 existed since time immemorial and which may be found in
 the great spiritual traditions in the world." The TS was
 not founded to be a religion nor a set of fixed beliefs
 which is the prominent characteristic of a religion, yet
 this is the desired condition of the TS today among many

 	The purpose and pursuit of an organization should be
 those as expressed in its Objects. The organization that
 concerns me here and now is the TS. It has a set of
 Objects. These have been changed a bit over the years
 from the original set, but at present are quite
 suitable, and all members should follow them, in a broad
 pursuit of these Objects, and I would suggest that too
 many do not, but act as if the Society's purpose was to
 follow a rather restricted path of beliefs and
 doctrines, which vary somewhat between TS groups, and
 the word "dogma" also comes in, but never officially

 	The Objects of the Society are:
 a. To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of
 Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste
 or colour.
 b. The study of comparative religion, philosophy and
 c. The investigation of the unexplained laws of Nature
 and the powers latent in man.

 	The above recited vary slightly as some groups have
 sought to alter for political correctness. The only one
 I would alter would be the first to indicate the oneness
 of all Life, and reword to include at least the Animal
 Kingdom as well as the Human. However, such a wording
 thus briefly hinted at, is not the purpose of this

 	It is to be noted that nowhere in these objects does
 it state that the purpose of the TS is the study and
 acceptance of the writings of HPB and *The Mahatma
 Letters* only, and the few other books that some claim
 as being the only ones fit and proper.

 	In a religion, there are a number of common
 characteristics, especially in the exoteric form, and
 especially in the 6th Ray religion, (in this group are
 Christianity and Islam). There is a bad tendency for
 humans, to focus on the physical plane, the material,
 that they can see and fee and bite into. Thus in
 religions, there is a desired prophet or two, and the
 personality worship of the prophet or prophetess, and
 saints, if any, and usually there are, and above all,
 THE BOOK, something that sets down the what to believe,
 and what is permissible to believe - the Authority.
 Reading *The History of the Church* by the 3rd century
 bishop Eusebius recently, I was struck by the similarity
 of the formation of a religion of Theosophy by the Loud
 Minority of its members, with the similar
 characteristics in the early Christian Church. They had
 the Book of Authority, the Bible. They were very narrow
 minded against any unbelievers and of anyone else who
 might try to redefine or present another viewpoint, one
 instance being that of Manes or Manichaeus and his
 followers, the Manicheans. The Christians worshipped at
 cemeteries, doing so at the graves of saints and
 martyrs. They were and still are to this day somewhat
 obsessed with what is actually the worship of relics of
 saints. This done to the extent that the RC Church has
 always had a problem of weaning many of its members away
 from the worship of saints and relics to the worship of
 at least a little bit of God and Jesus and/or the

 	This was noted in a book read a couple of years ago
 on the (current) process of how the Church makes saints.
 Noted too, in a book about the finding of the bones of
 St. Peter under the main altar of St. Peter's Cathedral
 in the Vatican, is the mention of the early Christians'
 habit of worshipping at the graves of saints, building a
 church thereon, if possible, therefore leading the
 archaeologists working in the crypt under the altar in
 St. Peter's to the conclusion that at least one set of
 the several skeletons found there was the remains of St.
 Peter. Eusebius mentions that in the two centuries of
 the history of the Church that he was covering, (he died
 339 AD) the Roman Emperors variously allowed
 Christianity or proscribed it, depending on the frequent
 change of Emperor. When Christianity was forbidden,
 along would come an edict banning Christians meeting in
 cemeteries. Why? Because that is where one could find
 Christians worshipping at saints' and martyrs' graves,
 and other religions had no such morbid habit. There is a
 great tendency for theosophists to do an equivalent form
 of over attention to what can be seen, the physical,
 rather than to the Spirit. One finds personality
 worship, usually HPB but not exclusively so. The
 Canadian TS favours HPB and the Founders and this may
 also be found, to some extent, both here and abroad.
 Other groups include those whom I call the Latter Day
 Saints - Besant, Leadbeater and perhaps some presidents
 of the TS in Adyar, providing that they are dead now.
 Great attention is given to the history of the TS
 saints, founders and prophets. This is personality
 worship, a great human trait. It will be acknowledged if
 deemed glorious, but if it is deemed that someone is
 suggesting that this worshipping is pejorative, then it
 will be denied that it is ever done. The denial lie.

 	Where in the writings of HPB which we are supposed to
 follow if we are "true theosophists", does she say that
 her personality shall be worshipped or otherwise
 glorified, and only her writings and those of certain
 approved (not by her, but by a later Loud Minority!)
 other writers are to be studied to the exclusion of all
 other works, excepting favorable commentaries on her
 writings? Our ultra conservatives deem that this is the
 only way to go, and all others must go this way too, the
 6th Ray personality trait.

 	The illusion is that they are purists: the reality is
 that they are narrow minded.

 	The question of where did HPB say that her writings
 only and her personality to be given extreme attention,
 was put to some members earlier in 1995, (and then
 spread around many more, not at my expense, which was my
 idea and intent for an economical dissemination) and not
 yet has there been an answer given, because there is
 none. HPB was a very advanced Soul, and as such would
 have no patience with the waste of time of personality
 worship. She was also very broad minded and knew and
 could quote of the writings of very, very many, thus
 implying, if nothing else, the setting of an example for
 following theosophists. Being beyond the need for
 personal accolades and ego pumping. HPB would never have
 approved of being the object of personality worship, or
 a Blavatsky personality cult, which, unfortunately,
 exists, nor would she approve of the notion, which
 exists in some quarters, that her writings were to be
 for exclusive use and belief. That being so, why do
 those who would follow her as an ideal not follow her
 teachings in all things? The answer is obvious: human
 nature which tends to exalt that which can be seen and
 touched, the Prophet or Saint, and the chosen bible, the
 form and not the spirit. Thus are religions formed of
 the exoteric type, and theosophy as presently practiced
 by so many is exoteric, of the form and not the spirit.
 In view of HPB's attitudes on these subjects discussed
 in this paragraph, why do not her avid followers not pay
 attention to her intention?

 	HPB wrote: "Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither
 possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion,
 within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical
 Society a living and healthy body, its many ugly
 features notwithstanding. Were it not also for the
 existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds
 of the students of Theosophy, such healthy divergences
 would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate
 into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed
 would take the place of the living and breathing spirit
 of Truth and an ever growing knowledge." [It is ironic,
 in a matter that will be discussed here later, that this
 quote is from a letter that HPB wrote to the American
 Section of the TS.] It is the contention of this essay
 that "... a narrow and stereotyped creed" already
 exists, contrary to HPB's wishes, and created and
 maintained by those who hold her pronouncements as of
 supreme importance. But it was ever thus, only what
 suits one's predilections are used, the rest
 conveniently ignored.

 	To be more specific: a characteristic of the 6th Ray
 person, (which 6th Ray represents Devotion to an Ideal)
 and of some others too, on other Rays, is that they
 chose only that which they want from their "Truth
 Sources" based on personal preferences, while claiming
 to follow their Ideal Source, and ignore what is said by
 the honoured Source where it does not fit their
 preferences. Authority through the filter of their
 personality: not everything goes through. Another 6th
 Ray characteristic is that all others must believe as
 the 6th Ray person does: no exceptions. If you do not so
 believe, you are going straight to Hell.

 	In the TS, as with other organizations one finds
 those individuals who know it all, *self appointed*
 custodians of Truth, I call these the Loud Minority, and
 these get a following of sheep, who can't or won't study
 enough for themselves, so believe what the LM's say, and
 thus often from the Loud Minority we often actually get
 a majority. The L.M.'s decide what is Truth, and
 therefore what can be believed and taught, and thereby
 what books are correct. It was ever thus. Christianity
 has the Bible as the only book. The Moslems have their
 Koran. A Moslem general who once said that the Koran was
 the only book that needs to be read, then proceeded to
 burn down the library at Alexandria. (Not its first
 burning - one sees a bad habit forming)

 	HPB took the trouble to quote the Buddha: "The only
 Truth in this world is that there is no Truth in it."
 The Buddha meant the physical world. While rummaging
 through *The Secret Doctrine* a few years ago for a
 suitable quotation to begin an Annual Members' Meeting,
 I read a few other things here and there that caught my
 eye. HPB said in Vol. 2, if my eidetic memory serves,
 that while there is no truth in the lower planes, (only
 maya and illusion) there was still a degree of relative
 truth, but no real truth as our Deity (or God) would
 know it. The truth of anything can only begin to be
 found when one can lift one's consciousness to the level
 of the Nirvanic Plane, (3rd from the top) as this is the
 lowest direct manifestation of the Solar Logos, or Deity
 of our system, or God, choose your favorite name. I
 recall once mentioning this in an article, to which
 someone took offense, taking this statement apart
 (showing that she had not read too much if anything of
 her *Secret Doctrine* bible) and asked "What is my
 authority for such a statement?" (for quotation). There
 is a problem with too many especially the "academics",
 they have no trust in their own powers of mind or
 reasoning, perhaps have none, and must base all that
 they allow themselves to believe on some other person,
 an "authority" rather than allowing an idea of their own
 leak in, and they will not allow another person to have
 an original idea or conclusion. It is to be noted well,
 that those who require authorities, be it HPB or
 whoever, chose from any authority only that which suits
 their own predilections and prejudices, and also only
 that which is the realm of their ken or state of
 education (or lack). Requiring "authorities" is a great
 fault among theosophists, - others too, - but I am
 concerned here chiefly with the health or lack, of the

 	"Diversity of opinion" and "... a large amount of
 uncertainty" are those things which can lead the
 brighter to inquire further and broadly, and thereby
 have a chance of eventually finding Truth. On this
 physical plane truth will always be relative, but more
 of even that is still desirable. This is impossible if a
 broad scope of study is not allowed, or frowned upon.
 Krishnamurti said "Truth is a Pathless Land." Meaning
 that each one of us must find the way to Truth by our
 own wanderings, there is no set roadway. It is the
 intention of the Deity of our system that each of us
 shall find our way back to Him, the Source, by our own
 differing way. This is His Plan, and by the diversity He
 becomes perfected in a most broad way. Were it
 otherwise, there would be no need for Him to have
 created so many Monads. Why have a thousand or million
 people (read Souls or Monads) treading identical paths,
 having identical experiences, when to accomplish this,
 only one Monad would be needed, not a million.

 	A religion accepts only orthodox control of what can
 be taught, and believed. This has entered the TS as its
 members have shifted the TS into a religion. The Loud
 Minority have decided what is correct and what is not.
 Those who do not accept this are frowned upon, made
 uncomfortable so that they will leave, shown the door,
 or so discouraged as not to join in the first place, as
 happened with two of my relatives - who still studied of
 things occult. The decision as to what is acceptable is
 arbitrary, a position seized upon by the pushy, the
 L.M.'s, by some who have studied a fair amount and in so
 doing assume they know more, and know best, impressing a
 few sheep in the process. If HPB is the ideal, her
 intentions if followed by these purists are purely co-
 incidental. I know of an incident in the past year where
 a member was literally escorted to the door. I learned
 from another that this ousted person was much more broad
 minded that was generally favoured in that lodge. In a
 religion, of the 6th Ray at any rate, and in semi
 religions (those in the making) much energy is spent in
 seeing that all are believers of the official line, Like
 political dictatorships, which sooner or later (usually
 sooner) spend a neurotic amount of energy on political
 pureness of the masses and seeking out the dissenters
 and unbelievers, religions too get to a stage where too
 much energy is spent in seeing that the members are not
 heretics of the official line. This to the extent of
 mass murder and torture as in the Inquisition. This
 deviated 180 degrees from what the Founder of
 Christianity taught, but this never bothered the
 participants, they choose only from their sources and
 authorities that which suits their predilections. The
 R.C. Church is and has been so obviously *not* based on
 the Bible, as one might expect it to be, that even the
 clergy enlightened enough to see this and admit it,
 excuse the Church by saying that the Church is based on
 tradition. The TS has this quality too of not being
 properly based on the Founders' intentions, and has been
 for some time. No Inquisitions (yet) for which thanks be
 given,just out-easing. The TS'ers who claim HPB is the
 one and only actually do not follow her line, as I have
 complained about herein. The only reason we do not hear
 her turning over in her grave is because she was
 cremated and her ashes scattered.

 	Control of beliefs in religion or theosophy,
 orthodoxy of beliefs brought into official control, are
 all contrary to HPB's statement the "orthodoxy in
 theosophy is impossible and undesirable.", thus it is
 obvious that the interpretation of what is meant by
 "theosophy" is *not* by HPB's instructions or teachings
 but by the arbitrary whims and dictates of others, who
 set themselves up as the "true" interpreters. Are these
 others to be regarded as more qualified than HPB? There
 are recent by-law changes in another country that will
 enable the dictating of what can be taught, which
 implies that someone must set themselves up as
 interpreters of the "truth". I challenge the HPB-only's
 to come up with glorious excuses and explanations as to
 why they deviate so willingly from the example and
 teachings of HPB whom they adore and falsely claim to
 follow, taking only what suits their predilections from
 her writings.

 	HPB was a grand lady with great revelations for our
 development. What a pit so few want to follow her broad-
 minded example. One finds in her greatest advocates her
 greatest distorters.

 	While I mostly deal with the matters as found
 prominent in the Canadian end of the TS, as seeing what
 has been closest to me for over 50 years better than
 what is distant. I have to report on a matter that has
 just recently come up in a country very close
 geographically to Canada. In that country they recently
 adopted some by-law changes. This happens all the time,
 as you might say, so what. Among several changes are two
 that are quite nasty and dangerous, and the sign that
 religionism has taken over. One by-law says that the
 headquarters can now dictate to lodges, (and members by
 implication one may assume) what can be taught. This
 implies also dictating what can be believed, in order
 that the "taught" person can safely assume it to be a
 "theosophical" belief. This has the approval of Adyar,
 and is touted to be right and proper and in consonance
 with the Rules of the International (Adyar) TS. If it is
 now, what was it before so that a change was deemed
 necessary, or was it not strict enough in the previous
 wording? It has been said for a long time now, probably
 predating my existence on the physical plane, that the
 Adyar Rules in parts are very undemocratic, placing
 dictatorial powers in the hands of whoever may be
 president. This and the obedience requirement for the ES
 members to the Outer Head - and the ES is dominant in
 the Adyarian TS world-wide - places too much power in
 one person. Thus the deciding of what is "kosher" to be
 taught has the potential for abuse, and I would suggest,
 has been abused already, which I will later deal with.

 	The other objectionable part to these by-law changes
 is that they state that all assets of the lodges belong
 to Headquarters. This can mean the national headquarters
 and by implication, and in past performances, Adyar.
 This is to apply even if the regional lodge is a
 corporation. The by-law has passed. It has been
 suggested by critics of the by-law change in that
 country that the vote was light, and perhaps not all who
 participated in the vote fully understood the
 implications. Be that as it may, several lodges are very
 much opposed to these two changes, the other changes in
 the by-law amendment are rather innocuous. If this is
 what the members of that Section want, I agree that each
 has the right to go to Hell in their own way, and if
 their way is wrong, Karma will adjust, rewarding or
 biting. I do not agree with the two parts that some find
 objectionable, but cannot directly interfere at this
 distance, and won't, other than to express an opinion. I
 strongly object to the idea of asset seizure. This is
 robbery, theft, unless done when a lodge collapses and
 there are no more members, then reversion of the assets
 to the headquarters is justified. If the lodge is still
 alive, and its direction does not suit headquarters, or
 the lodge wants to separate, they should be able to and
 take their assets with them on separation, which assets,
 in my opinion belong to them.

 	The dictating of what can be taught and claiming to
 own all assets of branches is a thing well noted in
 religions, so this is another step in TS religionism, (a
 favorite word of the late Alvin B Kuhn). HPB, Judge and
 Besant all said that there was autonomy of lodges and
 Sections, and that there was no "parent" society. The
 current management in Adyar may say that there is
 autonomy, but their actions in the past few years show
 that they believe otherwise. I am a strong believer that
 there is and should be autonomy of lodges and Sections.
 When a lodge wants to leave, they should go intact. I
 know of court decisions where the headquarters can grab
 the assets, and of court decisions where the courts
 decided otherwise. When lodges left in the Canadian TS,
 I did not even bother to inform the Board of Directors
 of this, (various court decisions) as a decision either
 way would be up to the judge that one got and the
 astuteness of the lawyers, and since the outcome would
 almost as a flip of the coin, only the lawyers with
 their large fees could win. Ask Adyar how much they
 spent to lose the Denmark affair. Besides, I believe in
 the autonomy of lodges etc.

 	Either there is autonomy or there is not. There is no
 grey area. Obviously Adyar and its obedient affiliates
 believe that there is not autonomy. This and the control
 of what can be taught, which can be called the
 episcopalian system, is what this nearby country's TS
 has now. That its president, whose writings I have
 publicly expressed as a great breath of fresh air, has
 adopted - gone along with - this narrow concept, can
 best be explained by the fact that he once was in
 training to be a Roman Catholic priest. Thus such
 control would not be an unfamiliar thing to him. To
 objections to the changes in the bylaws, officialdom has
 claimed that such strictures and control of teachings
 and assets were already in place, and these changes but
 emphasized them. All the defenses for the changes I can
 argue against, but that is not my purpose here, only to
 point out that it is a crystallizing event and a further
 consolidation of theosophy as a religion.

 	One of the leaders of a lodge objecting to these
 changes in by-laws has said that part of the reason is
 fear of some lodges teaching or allowing to be taught,
 classes on Bailey books. His lodge is very broad minded
 and allows anything along occult lines to be taught. He
 pointed out that in the past few years that the
 interference by Adyar into the affairs of lodges and
 sections, in Jugoslavia, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Denmark
 and Canada's excommunication, were based on the fact
 that Alice Bailey's books were being used in some
 classes. In this he was almost completely correct.
 Canada and possibly Ireland's incidents were not for
 this reason. He said that obviously Adyar and certain
 others who toed the party line were in fear of Bailey,
 and felt threatened. I agree completely with this as a
 valid psychological assessment.

 (To be concluded in July-August 1996 issue).

 The Canadian Theosophist, Vol. 77, No. 2., May-June
 1996, pp. 26-34
 Mail address of Canadian Theosophist:
 R.R. No. 3, Burk's Falls
 Ontario P0A 1C0

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