May 17, 1997 03:21 PM
by M K Ramadoss
Here is an extensive quote from a book by Ernest Wood, "Is this Theosophy?"
which is an extremely rare book and you may not find it in your lodge library.
For anyone who does not know about Wood, he was an Englishman who after
being exposed to Theosophy and its ideal, went to India when he was 25 years
of age. He paid his own way and sustained himself with his own funds. For
the first five years he was the personal secretary of CWL and knew him
better than anyone else. Later, he was one of the tutors of Jiddu
Krishnamurti. After the death of Annie Besant, he ran for the International
President and George Arundale was elected.
The following excerpt is of great interest in that it touches upon the
subject of TS, ES, and Masonic Organization and the observations and
comments comes from someone who has had first hand knowledge. I am posting a
separate msg on some of the things he has discussed here.
Dependence upon leaders was always a weak point in the
Society, although the original intention had been to base
everything on rationality, even in the study of abnormal things.
Some would say: " See how the mother cat has to carry her
kittens about while they are small. Why should it not be so in
occult matters ? "
Others, thinking this a trifle extreme, would prefer the simile
of the young monkey, which clings to its mother with its own
hands. This " monkey policy " was often put forward by
leaders and would-be leaders who considered that the act of
choosing a leader to be approached for orders and hints to be
obeyed implicitly constituted all the positivity of character
necessary for occult development. Only a few held that if
members of the Theosophical Society had not yet been weaned
it was about time to begin; I was one of these, and therefore
destined for ultimate unpopularity. But I anticipate.
My membership in the Theosophical Society brought into my
life a social element which had been lacking before. At first I
used to walk part of the way home from the Lodge meetings
with a young business man who was very much taken with a
literary young lady who used to bore us with her excessive
enthusiasm for Plato. They tried to supplant our President, and
put the young lady in office instead, but the scheme was not a
success. The young man did not remain a member for very
After that, I generally walked home with a lady who was
about thirty years my senior, but as lively as a cricket, and I am
almost tempted to say as small. She had been manageress in
some sort of factory where many girls were employed, and
had retired on a tiny pension. We used to talk much about
systems of yoga and methods of meditation, in which I was
She was a member of the Eastern School of Theosophy, an
organization composed only of members of the Theosophical
Society, but not officially connected with it. There were
frequent references to this school in the writings of Mme
Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant. When introducing new members
to the Society Mrs. Besant would often speak of the " further
step " which they could take after some time by joining the E.S.
Its proceedings were entirely secret, under pledge, so I could not
ask what its methods of
meditation were. But I used to tell my friend that I was
puzzled by the fact that its members appeared to have no more
knowledge and no more self-control than other people, and I
disliked the slight atmosphere of superiority and sacerdotalism
which seemed to surround it. When it came to matters of
election to office, or the selection of speakers, membership in
the " E.S." was certainly an asset. At the time of the election
of Committee members for the British Section of the Society,
lists of " suitable people " were sent round privately.
I joined the School after some time, and did not find its
systems of meditation as good as those which I already knew
and had been privately practicing. In saying this I do not break
any pledge, for I do not say what those meditations were.
I was always very much against anything which might have
an hypnotic effect in meditation. Repetition of formulas;
dwelling in thought on Masters' forms, with vows of fidelity
and obedience; prayers to the Masters, asking them for
guidance and blessing. All seemed to be bad psychology and
bad reverence. If Masters were there, surely they would do
their utmost without being asked. And the habit of thinking
every day of them or of their disciples with requests and hopes
for orders or guidance seemed to me to lead to paralysis of
initiative, in which alone I thought either intuition or inner
guidance could find its opportunity.
I was ready to admit the principle of mystical union with
higher intelligence than my own. That was a matter of both
logic and experience. Logic, since in the world visible to the
senses our physical powers are enchanced by harmonious co-
operation with the laws and forces of nature. I disliked the
formula " the conquest of nature " often employed in
connection with scientific achievement. In the use of wind,
steam, electricity, we were simply co-operating or associating
intelligently with the forces of the greater world outside our
To one convinced of thought-transference such association
mentally was also a reasonable idea. When a thinker has a
flash of intuition, as is common among scientists and
philosophers, I could regard it as a kind of mental contact with
a deeper intelligence, or a world of ideas, even a universal
mind or some great world of life in which live the liberated
souls. That also was in accord with experience. Many people
had declared that they sometimes felt themselves illuminated
with an intelligence altogether greater than any which they felt
that they could call their own. I had myself! had such
experience a number-of times. Even if the Masters did retain
actual human form, their aim would be to advise: men to
become responsive to that world, not to become worshippers of
themselves and mere followers to carry out orders or hints
given by them. Such were my thoughts. Certainly above
everything I wanted to meet a Master, not to worship him
externally, but to be of his company and his mode and order of
The new social contacts of the Lodge were most precious to
me. Here was friendship and brotherhood, without safeguards
such as those of the drawing-room, where religion and
economics are tacitly avoided. I resented the E.S. a little, as
forming a cleavage within our brotherhood. How could we
discuss important subjects if some among us were pledged to
mental reservations, or if you assumed that they knew what
others did not know and were not allowed to know ?
Another movement which seemed to me to harm our
brotherhood was the Co-Masonry, which was taken up eagerly
by some of our members some time after I had joined the
Lodge. I was perhaps a little jealous of this, as the members
who would not help the Lodge in its financial difficulties could
find much money for the new Masonic movement. We had had
various proposals to reduce expenditure. We had even
removed the Lodge to smaller premises, comparatively obscure
and inconvenient. Scarcely had the removal taken place when
up came this question of starting a Co-Masonic Lodge. All the
leading members were canvassed on the subject; it was
whispered round that the Masters were keenly anxious to have
the new movement promoted, and would give of their power
and force to or through those who joined it. In a trice the
members hustled to ransack their monetary resources, and
very soon hundreds of pounds were forthcoming. Most of
those who could afford it could not resist the concreteness and
the its organized access to the Masters' power and blessing.
Again and again prominent members pressed me to join the
Masonic movement. Did I not believe that there was a
European Master behind it ? He would probably manifest
himself visibly to the members; it might be at the meetings to be
held during the forthcoming Theosophical Convention i in
Budapest. One leading member told me about a doctor who
helped a certain poor man as soon as he learned that he was a
Mason. This was real brotherhood, was it not ? No,
communalism. But that was a step towards universal
brotherhood ? It did not seem so to me; it was a step
Downwards from it. Later, I joined the movement in India, on
the proposal of Mrs. Besant. After the first meeting I was
chatting with Mr. Leadbeater.
" How did you get on ? " he asked.
"I have told more lies to-night than in all the rest of my life,"
I sadly replied. This was, of course, no criticism of Masonry. It
is no secret that there are rituals and formulas. It was simply
that I had said what I had been told to say, but again and again
it did not agree with my own thought and belief.
After I had been Vice-President of the Lodge for two or
three years, our President fell ill and it became my duty to
carry on his work. At last he died, and I was elected President
in his place. During these years a deep friendship had grown up
between us. I had been a frequent visitor at his house and had
even been on holidays with him and his wife and little girl. We
went to the country and to the Isle of Wight. It was something
new to me to pick flowers in the woods with a little child.
When the father died, I was there to help, to console, to fill the
gap to some extent, or rather to be a distraction from the
emptiness. Often after that I took the little girl, now thirteen
years old, for bicycle rides. Something new, clean and simple
came into my life, which till then had consciously known
nothing but struggle and conflict.
I had no intention of going to India. That was brought about
by psychic experiences. I cannot say whether these in turn
were brought about by some activity of my subc Conscious
mind or were actual occurrences. I can only report what
happened, or seemed to happen.
One evening, when I was sitting in meditation with the
group of friends I have already mentioned, I suddenly became
aware of a Master standing opposite me across the table, and
speaking to me. He put me through a kind of catechism. Did I
understand what honesty meant ? Did I know the importance
of it ? Did I consider myself honest ? Somehow I was made to
see the tremendous value of perfect honesty not simply
honesty in speech and in dealing with others, but also honesty in
knowing oneself. Yes, I was very honest according to the
world's standards, but I could not say that I was always
fundamentally honest to myself. After some time there was a
pause and suddenly I became aware of a hand lightly resting on
my left shoulder. Looking that way although I do not think that
I opened my eyes or made any movement saw, or thought I
saw, Mme Blavatsky (who had then been dead for about
seventeen years) standing beside me. She was laughing, and
looking not at me, but across in front of me towards my right.
Following her gaze I saw Colonel Olcott standing there (he had
been dead about a year). Mme Blavatsky spoke to him, merely
the words: " He's ripe, Olcott; we'll send him to India."
Then the vision faded. I opened my eyes and became aware
again of my friends sitting round the table. At the time the
vision gave me no surprise. It seemed perfectly natural that the
Master should be there he was as familiar to me as my own
father. It seemed quite natural also that Mme Blavatsky and
Colonel Olcott should be there, like familiar friends.
It was not this vision that decided me to go to India,
however. I was not prepared to give so much credit to visions.
Besides, had I not seen in our experimental group that even
reliable clairvoyants unconsciously embellished what they saw
with elements drawn from their own personalities ? I went on
with my life as usual, merely wondering whether I would ever
go to India or not. Something more happened, however. One
night, as I was going home alone on top of a tramcar, I seemed
to see Mrs. Besant in front of me, asking me to come to her.
Still, I took no notice. In my opinion there was nothing decisive
enough to call for any action. Then another vision came. I was
going down some steps from a railway station at night. The
steps were roofed in, and only dimly lighted. Suddenly the
whole cavern-like place was brightly illuminated, and
I saw Mrs. Besant standing before me in a golden radiance.
She spoke: " I want you to come and help me."
That night, when I reached home I told my father that I had
a fancy to take a trip to India for three months. Would he help
my brother to look after the business in my absence ? Yes, of
course. I did not tell him nor my friends at the Lodge of my
reason for going, though I had told my friends in the meditation
group of my vision there. I took a Japanese steamer to
Colombo from London, in November, 1908, and my father came
with me to London to see me off. I meant to go for a three
months' trip to see what would happen. I had no idea that India
would become my home and that I should not see England
again for over thirteen years.
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