to Paul & Bart: re Blavatsky & Bailey
Mar 14, 1998 12:30 PM
by jim meier
There are two statements in recent theos-l threads that I would like to
comment upon, both concerning Alice A. Bailey:
from K. Paul (? - this is a 2nd source quotation; apologies if
mis-attribution of authorship)
on the Farthing thread:
>> 'Fringe' literature can be obtained in ordinary bookshops or from other
>> organizations, e.g. the Arcane School, the Anthroposophical Society,
>The mentality that decides Bailey and Steiner are "fringe" while
>their own favorite post-HPB authors are "mainstream" is
>responsible for driving many people away from the Society. The
>Baileyites and Steinerites are dogmatic about their own stuff
>being authoritative. The TS is called upon to be open, eclectic,
Earlier in his post, Paul made the comment that "those who believe their
statements are not speculation, opinion, or theory but fact are a dime a
dozen." To which I say, Amen, and would add further that many such believe
that ONLY "their statements"... etc. Lord save us from those who would
save us, as the saying goes. I agree 100% with his assertion that such
dogma drives people from the TS(A), and I've written other posts on this
list to that same point.
I do have a slight beef with his opinon that "Baileyites are dogmatic about
their own stuff being authoritative"; this is hard to accept, since each
and every book by Alice A. Bailey and the Tibetan, Djwhal Khul, opens with
a preface that says they are in no way interested in anyone claiming
"authority" for the books but, rather, "They may or may not be correct,
true and useful. It is for you to ascertain their truth by right practice
and by exercise of the intuition" and ends with, "If the statements meet
with eventual corroboration or are deemed true under the test of the Law of
Correspondences, then that is well and good. But should this not be so,
let not the student accept what is said."
Which seems pretty non-dogmatic to me -- at least at the source. On the
other hand, many (if not most) Bailey fans believe that D.K. is one of the
"Masters" (to use a Theosophical term) and that may be the source of
"authority" that Paul refers to. An open question: are Theosophists who
accept the writings in the book THE MAHATMA LETTERS TO A.P. SINNETT
Paul's first point (in the snippet above) is a key, imo, on the future of
Theosophy; i.e., the post-HPB writings, their proper place and importance
in our studies. Most of us, I suspect, believe that the "Ageless Wisdom"
doesn't end with THE SECRET DOCTRINE or even COLLECTED WRITINGS. The
arguments all seem to come with the "what next?" question.
Bart Lidofsky commented
> I have come to at least one conclusion that a lot of my own anti-Bailey
> feelings come from my Jewish upbringing. First of all, she was a
> near-fundamentalist Christian (Leadbeater's Christian symbolism is also a
> for me). Second is the attitude among many Baileyites that Blavatsky
> Theosophy, but Bailey completed it, which smacks of the Christian telling
> Jew that they are not a true Jew, because Jesus completed what Judaism
> and you need to be a Christian to be a Jew.
My comments on Bart's statement::
First, If this doesn't come out right, I hope theos-l readers will try to
see what I'm getting at rather than the words themselves. I've been a
subscriber of this list almost from the beginning, and I've seen any number
of discussions "go tangent" into mis-communications when (imo) there was
something useful that could have come from them.
Negative comments on this list over the years on the Bailey writings
generally fall into three categories:
1) "It's not HPB"
2) "It's anti-homosexual" and
3) "It's anti-Semitic"
there may be others, but they haven't been made here (that I know of; I've
been frequently away from the Net and theos-l).
Taking these out of order,
2) On homosexuality: as far as I can tell, the Tibetan doesn't say much
that could be considered pro-gay. Most of the very little *that is*
mentioned is along the lines that homosexuality is a misplaced expression
of human sexual force. For people who are "one-issue voters," this is
something that I cannot answer; this may be my mis-understanding of his
writings or an actual position against homosexuality -- as it is claimed by
most. Theosophy appeals, mostly, to people who are on the "liberal" side
of the political spectrum, so any non-pro-gay sentiments are perhaps
disproportionate to us. Then again, the Tibetan was writing in the early
part of this century, and perhaps that colored the thoughts expressed.
(note: this is only my opinion, here; as a "left-wing liberal," it isn't
easy for me to address this point. On the other hand, I don't pretend to
be an authority on the AAB writings...)
3) This is Bart's point above, and much as I respect Bart and his comments
on theos-l, I have to disagree with him on this one. The Tibetans writings
are certainly not ZIONIST, but we should remember that the last of the
Bailey books came out in 1949, and at that time the pro-Zionist movement
was a minority position even within the Jewish community. In summary, the
Tibetan's position was that the Jewish Diaspora occured for a reason, and
that the Jewish nation was best left dispersed to intermingle and effect
the many countries rather than to be consolidated as one nation back into
Palestine. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with this position,
but it should be pointed out that to this day not even all Jews agree among
themselves on the Zionist position.
imo and, I think, the Tibetan's, one can be pro-Jewish without being a
Zionist. My first bbs discussions with someone who was "anti-Bailey" (as
Bart described himself) was with a rabbi and professor of Jewish history
who (although we later became friends) refused to accept the idea that
Judaism did not equal Zionism. This is the cornerstone of Arab
anti-Israeli sentiments, and it is interesting to see how this plays out in
the Middle East drama (note: for anyone as ignorant as I was when my
Jewish friend and I started those discussions, Zionism is " 1) a plan or
movement of the Jewish people to return from the Diaspora to Palestine. 2)
A movement originally aimed at the re-establishment of a Jewish national
homeland and state in Palestine and now concerned with the development of
Israel." Am. Heritage Dictionary).
1) "It's not HPB" -- this is a valid criticism, from one view.
Theosophists who believe that "theosophy" stopped with HPB's teaching do
not accept Alice Bailey's writings (or anyone else's). Bart's second
criticism was "the attitude among many Baileyites that HPB started
Theosophy, but Bailey completed it...". He made the analogy to
Christianity "finishing Judaism," but no matter; the idea of Bailey
"finishing Theosophy" isn't quite right; to be accurate, the Bailey
writings are that HPB is the beginning of the modern exposition of the
Ageless Wisdom, the Bailey writings are the sequential installment, and
there is one more yet to come. This -- imo -- is the source of the
"anti-Bailey" sentiment in the TS; the implication is that the AAB writings
are somehow more "advanced" than the standard, orthodox 19TH CENTURY
Theosophical teachings. For those who do not accept this on face value, I
can only restate the preface to each of the AAB books: it is for each
reader to decide whether or not they are correct, true and useful.
To be sure, both Paul and Bart prefaced their comments as "most Baileyites
believe...", etc. My point is that it is better to "source the source," so
to speak, rather than to judge Christianity by Paul or Theosophists by any
"fringe" believers. Most "Baileyites," I suspect, consider themselves
Theosophists, while believing that the AAB writings are a sequential
follow-up to the initial revelation in modern times of the Ageless Wisdom
given in HPB's writings.
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