Feb 02, 1997 07:18 PM
by M K Ramadoss
Here are some excerpts from "A SHORT HISTORY OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY" on
In this year (1916) he (CWL)entered the Liberal Catholic Church, was
consecrated a Bishop by the Rt. Rev. J. 1. Wedgwood, and made Regionary
Bishop of Australia, 22 July. He intimated that an exalted member of the
Occult Hierarchy had recommended that there were three ways in which the
members of The Society should show how things should be done:
1. In Education; to show what schools should be in the hands of those
working selflessly for the children they love
2. The Ideal Church; with a purified ritual, to be in the hands of Theosophists.
3. Co-Freemasonry; in which Theosophy should supply the ideal Freemasonry,
and the universal inclusion of women.
Two other suggestions were: a. A Medical College, in which no vivisection
would be allowed, no alcohol and no tobacco; b. To experiment with simple
Theosophical Communities.With these activities, it was thought, Theosophists
might usefully concern themselves, adding them to the intellectual headway
being made everywhere.' Mrs. Besant received the same instructions and sent
them to Bishop Leadbeater, their letters crossing on the way.
In Australia, (1918) Mr. Martyn felt disturbed about the development
of the Old (Liberal) Catholic Church. Bishop Leadbeater had been so closely
associated with the work of the Society in Australia, that Martyn felt his
vigorous promotion of the Church would lead to confusion of the two in the
At the Convention, March, Martyn submitted three Resolutions:
1. That the Theosophical Society disclaims any official association with the
Old Catholic Church, or any division of the Christian Church or with any
other Religious organization, and reasserts its firm adherence to the first
Object of the Society . . .
2. That the activities of The Theosophical Society and the Old Catholic
Church be at all times carefully distinguished from each other, and
conducted in different premises;
3. That all priestly titles in the Old Catholic Church be avoided in
connection with Theosophical activities.
Most speakers heartily endorsed the spirit of the Resolutions. Bishop
Leadbeater emphasized that there was no official relation whatever between
the two organizations but in the minds of many there seemed to be a
connection because the same great Masters were behind both.
Mr. Martyn (1919) went on a visit to the United States, and was warmly
received as a lecturer and well-known worker. He did not approve of the
Constitution of the Liberal Catholic Church and wished it to be remodelled.
He wanted the Church to be conducted by volunteer laymen (instead of by
professional priests), not set apart from the world, but ordained in the
Since Mr. Warrington was head of both The Theosophical Society, as General
Secretary (or National President, as is the title used in the United
States), and of the E. S., opinion had grown up that these posts combined
gave him too much power. A group was presently formed which worked under the
title of "Towards Democracy League," urged by the idea that the Society, as
such, should be free from all entanglements with any Cause whatsoever.
A study of the magazines of this period shows that there was an uneasiness
lest the priesthood of the Liberal Catholic Church, composed mostly of
prominent workers in The Society, should lead to the dominance of
ecclesiastical influence, and so draw it into the sectarianism from which it
had always kept clear. Many Sections passed resolutions disclaiming any
official association with any and all divisions of the Christian Church, or
with any religious or anti-religious bodies, and affirmed the entire liberty
of belief or disbelief of each Fellow, and his freedom to work in any
organizations he might wish "whether closely associated in the public mind
with The Theosophical Society or not."
When the American Section met in Convention, Chicago, 4 September, the
question of the relation of The Society to the Liberal Catholic Church was
very fully discussed, for it was charged by some that if priests of the
Church worked at Krotona [#1] this was a " rank violation of the ideals
which The Society was founded."
Mr. Warrington pointed out that though "sanction and encouragement" had
been given to the new Church by Mrs. Besant and Bishop Leadbeater, the
Society as such had not done so. He recalled that the "same kind of sanction
and encouragement was given to Buddhism by Col. Olcott and Mr. Leadbeater,
and to Hinduism by Mrs. Besant in the early days . . .
"A cablegram was received from Sydney from Bishops Wedgwood, Leadbeater and
Cooper declaring "Society and Church absolutely independent." a Opinion was
expressed that there was danger in having pledged priests in official
positions, as that might result in complete dominance of The Society by the
head of the L.C.C. It was urged that all priests of the L.C.C. holding
offices or positions of trust in the Section be asked to resign, in order
that the Theosophical Society might preserve impartiality towards all
religions and sects. A cablegram was sent to Mrs. Besant asking her opinion,
and she replied that she " disapproved any disabilities imposed on religious
[#1 In 1910 a Theosophical centre was started, in pursuance of Mrs Besant's
recommendation to Mr. Warrington to found a centre, which was to be a
training ground for leaders, and to establish and maintain a School or
Institute of Theosophy. In April 1912 a site was purchased in Hollywood, and
named Krotona. When Mr. Warrington became General secretary in 1912, both
The Theosophical society and the E.S. were combined in Krotona and the
property was under Mrs Besant's control, but managed by a local committee It
proved somewhat difficult to maintain financially In 1919.21 problems arose,
and criticism was focussed on Krotona Eventually, 1922, Mrs. Besant decided
to sell sufficient of the property to pay off the mortgage, and to retain a
suitable section of the Estate for the E.S.. Anyone thinking the property
was owned directly by the American section could have his donation
transferred to the Section. The Section Headquarters were transferred back
to Chicago and finally to Wheaton. The whole property was eventually sold.
The Krotona Institute and the E S offices were transferred to a new Krotona
In the March (1920)Theosophist, Mrs. Besant published a " Letter to the T.S.
on the Liberal Catholic Church." She said that Brotherhood without
distinction was often called "neutrality," but meant "a loving recognition
of each creed as one of the roads by which the Highest may be reached . . .
a readiness to serve all. . . "
The unwise zeal of some Church members had caused friction in Great Britain,
Australasia and America. Protestant traditional feelings against Roman
Catholicism played their part. She regretted her name had been used by both
sides. "Lectures on Religions come within our Second Object; proselytism
breeds antagonism and is against our principles."Lodges were at liberty to
restrict their membership to members of a particular religion, but should be
careful not to grow narrow. There was need to recall Christianity to its
deeper spiritual principles and to bring back the more occult teachings....
It was the policy of The Theosophical Society definitely not to identify
itself with any doctrinal or theological issue of any religion or church, or
to limit in any way the "broad platform of our Theosophical Movement which
we especially cherish.... "
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