Jun 27, 1996 10:13 AM
This is from a carbon copy of a transcript of an original letter
from Helen I. Dennis. Punctuation and variations between
British and American English usage are as in the copy before me.
New York, N.Y., April 9th. 1906.
My Dear Mrs. Besant:-
Your letter of Feby. 26th. 1906 in reply to my letter of Jan.
25th., preferring charges against Mr. Leadbeater, of teaching
secret practices to boys, has been received. I at once came to
New York to consult with Mr. Fullerton and other E.S. and T.S.
Officials, before framing my inevitable reply.
It is with deepest regret that I must write to you that your answer
is most unsatisfactory to me and to the other signatories of the
letter of Jany. 25th.
Perhaps you can imagine the inner conflict I have endured before
writing the following letter, which stands for my conscience of
Your belief that Mr. L. teaches these theories only "in rare cases"
to boys in trouble, is proved incorrect by the letter to Mr.
Fullerton, in which Mr. L. himself explains making "One
experiment" on a thirteen year old child, at that time immature
even for his years and who did not reach puberty until three
Up to the present time, it is known that four boys under the age of
fourteen have been taught and one has been committed to a
sanitarium for treatment of epilepsy which his physician claims
to have been the result of self abuse.
Your claim that Mr. L. had agreed to discontinue these practices is
tacitly refuted by his complete silence on this point in his
letter to Mr. Fullerton, and by his own attitude of defence of
the merits of his theory.
My argument and protest to you is therefore based on the ground of
Mr. L's defence of the theory. I must protest that Theosophy is
diametrically opposed to such a theory and that its ethics
cannot tolerate the deception, hypocrisy and treachery practiced
on the parents of these boys.
In common honesty, he should have made known his theory to the
parents, instead of inculcating ideas of concealment from them.
A fourth boy when questioned, replied that he must get
permission from Mr. L. before he could answer. He stated that
he had been told by Mr. L. that he must not attempt to explain
it to his parents as he would not be able to make them
understand the theory. At present writing his mother can learn
Equally in common honesty, those who follow Mr. L. as an occult
leader, should know what he advocates, that all may decide for
themselves, whether or not they will elect to follow and lend
him their moral support.
That the crime of which Mr. L. stands self confessed can sanely be
argued upon from the basis of "good motive" seems incredible.
Such sex practices proposed as a substitute for and an
improvement upon the marriage relation, strike at the very root
of the physical welfare of the humans race and inevitably result
in mental and moral degradation.
We who appeal to you as the head of the E.S.T. can but stand
appalled at what seems to be your attitude of condoning this
offence, by your public support, even though you disclaim
approval of it.
It is an offence which would be recognized as a moral cancer in any
worldly organization, and which would render one guilty of it, an
outcast and an exile even in the secular professions or in any
educational institution in America, and we hope and believe,
anywhere in the civilized world.
When we learn that he has been licensed to stand before the world
for twelve or fifteen years, with these persistent rumors
stalking at his side, in Ceylon, in India, and in Europe, what
can we understand?
When for all these years, he has allowed you to believe these
rumors false and permitted you to hold him up before the world
as a worthy exponent of Theosophical teachings of purity; when
in the face of the facts that within the past few months, in
answer to a petition, from India, that you depose him his place
at your side, he even allowed your name to be used as a shield
in an article in the February 1906 Theosophist, signed by
Colonel Olcott, to the effect that these rumors were slanders
and the vile imaginings of "Hysteriacs;" when this deliberate
deception has been carried on for years; when finally actual
proof reaches you from America, that these slanders are living,
breathing, corrupting facts, and you reply to me that you "know
that his motives are good and pure," what can we think? What
*are* good motives?
In the words of our beloved and honoured General Secretary, Mr.
Fullerton, "we could weep tears of blood."
But should we as officials deal with the motives or the facts? Is
the point at issue one of personal friendship or one of official
honor and support? Should not the E.S. and the T.S. be, like
Caesar's wife, above reproach and especially on the sex
By the code of even common worldly ethics, we had the right to
confidently expect, that without an instant's delay, you would
retire him into complete obscurity, thus taking the first step
towards purging the Theosophical Society from within.
If such action would result from a purely worldly standpoint of
ethics how much more should we rightly expect this evidence of
purity in the Head of an Occult School?
A body which does not purge itself from within cannot live. It
must ultimately decay or be shattered by attacks from without.
I can only repeat that I protest and protest again that on this
matter of honor and purity, I can accept no compromise, nor can
I lend myself to the deception of E.S. and T.S. members that my
standing silent would imply.
I have therefore laid the matter before Mr. Fullerton, the General
Secretary, and the Executive Committee of the American Section,
so that, that phase of the case has passed out of my hands.
The chaotic condition of mind, of an ever increasing number of
members and officers of the E.S., as this knowledge is rapidly
spreading, makes an organised unity of the School ever more and
more remote, and in order to avoid the sham and pretense on my
part it is necessary to do otherwise, I am therefore temporarily
suspending certain activities of the School, such as admission
of members, the issuance of documents, etc. It is also my
intention to suspend certain group activities wherever in my
judgment it becomes necessary because of the development of
circumstances and pending receipt of further instructions from
Deeply as I regret having to write such a letter as this, far more
deeply do I deplore the circumstances that have made its writing
necessary in the name of common honesty and purity.
(Signed) Helen I. Dennis.
Transcribed and uploaded by Alan Bain, June 1996
Ancient Wisdom for a New Age
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