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Jun 19, 1996 06:21 PM
by Alan


In continuing the scanning of the REPLY to the President's Letter
   begun as CWL03A.TXT, I have had to work with a very poor copy,
   and the work is taking much longer than anticipated.  This pamphlet
   is about half finished.

Some readers may wonder (again) what point there is in dredging up
   these past "scandals" in the Theosophical Society.  The view of
   masturbation as "self-abuse" would raise few supporters today, and
   the fact that the British Section make such strong condemnation of
   it simply reflects the views of the Victorian era of which they
   were a part.

This, however, although mentioned at length in the literature, is not
   the major concern, when one looks beneath the surface of the
   circumstances.  The real problems arose because the International
   President, together with other officials of the T.S., *lied* to
   her own members, *denied* them full access to all the relevant
   documents, and, with CWL, could be said to appear to manipulate
   the Society and its members to her own purposes.

It has been argued, in very recent times, that a similar attitude has
   prevailed within the T.S. in America, and it would not be the first
   time in the history of the Society that similar allegations have
   been made.

My task here, however, is not to draw conclusions, but to present as
   much of the evidence as is available in a case which was crucial
   to the future (and therefore the present) nature of the Theosophical
   Society itself.  No doubt, at the end of this exercise, which will be
   a long one, I shall offer some more thoughts and opinions.

For the moment, let us read some more of the REPLY to Annie Besant made
   by some members of the British Section in November, 1908:


The President's Pledges.

In April, 1907, in answer to a telegram from the Council of the
   Blavatsky Lodge in these words: "Would you as President permit
   X's [Mr. Leadbeater's] readmission?" - Mrs. Besant replied:

"If publicly repudiates teaching, two years after repudiation on
   large majority request of whole Society, would reinstate;
   otherwise not."

What Mrs. Besant meant by "repudiation," and what we have all
   understood her to mean, is quite clear from her public letter to
   the members of the British Section, dated March 24, 1907 (p. 5).
   [This was written nine months after Mrs. Besant had received the
   official Minutes of the Advisory Committee, and her opinion,
   therefore, was then not based on alleged "false information."]

"As regards his [Mr. L.'s] readmission to the Society - I do not
   know that he wishes readmission - I shall continue to oppose it,
   as I have hitherto done, until he says publicly that the
   teaching is *wrong* [italics Mrs. Besant's], not only that he
   will refrain from it, as he promised to do in February, 1906,
   and also before the Advisory Board in London." [In his letter to
   The Vahan (May, 1907), Mr. Leadbeater himself says that he does
   not wish to rejoin.]

At the Convention of the American Section, 1906, Mrs. Kate
   Buffington Davis read the following from a letter of Mrs.
   Besant's, dated from Benares, August 9, 1906. [Mrs. Besant had
   also already received her official copy of the Minutes by this

Any proposal to reinstate Mr Leadbeater in the membership of the
   T.S. would be ruinous to the Society. It would be indignantly
   repudiated here and in Europe, and I am sure in Australia and
   New Zealand, if the facts were known. If such a proposal were
   carried in America - I do not believe it possible - I should
   move all the T.S. Council, the supreme authority, that the
   application of membership should be rejected. But I am sure that
   Mr. Leadbeater would not apply.

Why Mrs. Besant italicises the word "wrong" in the last quotation
   but one is quite evident to all who remember her exceedingly
   strong, unequivocal, and repeated acceptance of the phenomenal
   pronouncements published by the late President-Founder just
   prior to his decease.

In his Presidential Address at the Adyar Anniversary Meeting,
   December 29, 1906 (see General Report, p.3), referring to the
   Leadbeater case, and to the specific question as to whether Mr.
   Leadbeater's teaching was right or wrong, Col. Olcott stated:

"So when Mahatma M. came to me last Friday night I asked Him the
   question, and He replied "wrong.""

In a letter to Mr. Leadbeater, dated January 12, 1907, Colonel
   Olcott writes on his death-bed:

"Both Mahatma M. and Mahatma K.H. assured me you did well to
   resign; that it was right to call a Council to advise upon the
   matter, and that I did right in accepting your resignation; but
   They said we were wrong in allowing the matter to be made
   public, for your sake and the good of the Society. They said you
   should have stated in your resignation that you resigned because
   you had offended the standard of ideals of the majority of the
   members of the Society by giving out certain teachings which
   were considered objectionable. They have told both Annie and
   myself that your teaching young boys to . . . is wrong."

In Colonel Olcott's report of one of the Adyar "interviews," dated
   January 11, 1907, in reply to a leading question, the answer
   reported is:

"No, we cannot tell you this, for that concerns himself alone, but
   it is different when he teaches things to others that will

And in answer to another question:

"Write and ask him, it is not for us to say. We do, however, affirm
   that these teachings are wrong."

Moreover, in her pamphlet on The Testing of the Theosophical
   Society (one of her Election addresses), Mrs. Besant writes
   (p.7), in reference to Col. Olcott's "Conversation with the

"I may add that the " Conversation" in no way suggests Mr.
   Leadbeater's reinstatement, and that we at Adyar could not read
   that into it, as we were told at the same time that the Master,
   in answer to a suggestion to that effect, has sternly refused
   his approval."

We do not cite these utterances as authoritative for ourselves, nor
   do we pause to criticise them, we simply place them on record to
   show why Mrs. Besant emphasised the word "wrong."

On this point at least we thought we were all agreed on ordinary
   grounds of morality whether we accepted or rejected the
   authority of the phenomenal answers reported by Colonel Olcott.
   The thing was unquestionably wrong under any circumstances.

"Mahatmic" Contradictions.

In May, however, of this year, Dr. van Hook, the General Secretary
   of the American Section, and as such a member of the General
   Council of the Society, in Open Letters to his Section, declared
   that Mr. Leadbeater' s teaching on the point was right in every
   respect. (Addendum, May 5th, 1908, p.6):

"No mistake was made by Mr. Leadbeater in the nature of the advice
   he gave his boys. No mistake was made in the way he gave it."

It was at the same time widely circulated privately on his own
   declaration, that these Letters were not really his, but
   "dictated verbatim by one of the Masters." These astounding
   statements obtained the widest credence, and the result was that
   Mr. Leadbeater was invited to take the post of editor of part of
   the official organ of the American Section, by a large majority
   referendum vote.

In face of this, many of the members of the British Section could
   no longer remain silent; they were bound to protest, and call
   attention to the very grave danger that threatened the Society,
   and in which it is now actually involved.

These "Mahatmic" pronouncements, however, were not the ground of
   that protest; it may be left to those who believe in their
   authenticity to reconcile their glaring contradictions. No
   decision on such manifest incongruities was asked for, and
   therefore, Mrs. Besant's argument as to official ruling. on pp.
   13 and 14 of her Letter is quite beside the point.

The Logical Consequence of Dr. van Hook's Contention.

What was strongly objected to and most energetically protested
   against was the public declaration by a responsible officer of
   the General Council that Mr. Leadbeater's teaching is right.  If
   Mr. Leadbeater's teaching is right, and he made no mistake in
   any way whatever, as Dr. van Hook (or his "Master" if he prefers
   it) contends, why should not Mr. Leadbeater continue such
   teachings, as they have proved, according to Dr. van Hook, of
   the greatest value; and by a parity of reasoning, why should not
   any pupil of Mr. Leadbeater's or anyone else in the Society who
   wishes to follow his footsteps, do the same?

Against this hideous prospect we protested and do protest.  If Mr.
   Leadbeater's teaching is right, then it should he followed.
   That is the only logical position. Mr. Leadbeater himself says
   it would be "dangerous" only "If promiscuously given"; he as an
   occultist knows when it should be given, he claims.  It is not
   really dangerous for him to give it; and he simply bows to Mrs.
   Besant's "opinion that it is dangerous." Mr. Leadbeater is
   consistent in this, that he has never recanted; he has defended
   this teaching in the face of everything. What conclusion is
   likely to be drawn from this by those who believe that Mr.
   Leadbeater is a high adept? Simply that he knows on this
   subject; and has only promised not to do it again because of
   prudish convention, ignorant "hysterical" uproar, and "insane
   prejudices." He is the "martyr" occultist persecuted for his
   knowledge! What results?  That his pupils will think as he
   thinks; that they will do as he has done.  Why not, if he was
   and is right?

This view, that Mr. Leadbeater is right, is already being adopted
   far and wide in the Society at this moment. In what way does
   Mrs. Besant's Letter help us to stem the tide?

Mrs. Besant's Contradictions.

Mrs. Besant's view (pp. 5 and 6) emphasised to a final utterance
   for those who accept her authority ("I speak as Occultist. 'He
   that is able to receive it, let him receive it'" leaves the door
   wide open for Mr. Leadbeater's teaching. But at the expense of
   what contradiction! Mr. Leadbeater has taught it, and refuses to
   repudiate the teaching; yet he is said by Mrs. Besant at the
   same time to be "at one " with her in condemning it as being
   "degrading, unmanly, unwomanly" (p. 61, while he himself
   declares that it is "dangerous" only "if promiscuously given"
   (The Theosophist, Feb., 1908), and Mrs. Besant herself elsewhere
   in her Letter (pp. 7 and 8) expresses only disagreement and
   withdraws condemnation.

But H.P.B. did not equivocate on the subject - and she, we suppose
   - could speak with as much authority on occultism as
   Mr.Leadbeater and Mrs. Besant. (She characterised it to me as
   "the sin against the Holy Ghost" - G.R.S.M.) [See The Secret
   Doctrine, iii. 445 (Diagram).]

Mrs. Besant has now entirely changed her former view on the
   subject, for in her Letter,* of June 9, 1906, she writes of her
   first impression on hearing the charges in February:

*{This is the " Simla Letter" sent to the E.S. wardens and
   sub-wardens, with a covering note in which occur the words: "
   You may use publicly my view of the fatal nature of the
   teaching, *should need arise.*" [The italics are Mrs.

"This was the first time I had heard of such a method of meeting
   the sexual difficulty, let alone of Mr. Leadbeater's
   recommendation of it. I had always regarded self-abuse as one of
   the lowest forms of vice, a thing universally reprobated by
   decent people. To me it was not arguable. But I have since heard
   that it is sometimes practised and recommended by ascetics,
   otherwise good men, for the sake of preserving chastity - as
   though self-abuse did not destroy chastity as much as
   prostitution, and in an even more degrading way!"

But Mrs. Besant now asserts (pp.5 and 6) that "Occultism" "condemns
   solitary vice as only less harmful than prostitution." To us it
   still remains "not arguable," and to this we make no exception,
   either on the ground of the lesser of two evils, or on the
   perverted ground of doing evil that good may come. and therefore
   we protest and appeal to all who love the good name of the
   Society, to pronounce unmistakably on this subject, and to
   resist the triumphant reinstatement Into the Society as an
   injured "martyr" of the man who has brought all this sorrow and
   suffering upon us. In a Society like ours, just because of the
   deference his many pupils, adherents, and admirers pay to Mr.
   Leadbeater's assertions, his obstinate insistence that his
   teaching is right is the most potent means of erecting it into a
   generally recognised Theosophical doctrine, of the first
   importance. This is proved by the fact that Dr. Weller van Hook
   in one of his Open Letters (Addendum, May 5, pp. 5 and 6)
   appeals to the doctrines of reincarnation and karma, as
   expounded by Mr. Leadbeater especially to suit his teaching, in
   justification of it. The boys' statements also that it was
   taught as "Theosophical" formed the basis of one of the charges.

This pernicious teaching is not merely "ascribed" to Mr.
   Leadbeater, as Mrs. Besant says in her opening words, it is
   fully and freely confessed by him and strenuously defended. In
   what way this teaching, which Mrs. Besant now refuses to
   condemn, when taught by Mr. Leadbeater, can make for "purity"
   and for "the Society's good name" (p. 3) is beyond us.

Ancient Wisdom for a New Age

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