Robert Crosbie Biography - Part 2 of 2
Mar 01, 1998 10:32 AM
by M K Ramadoss
Continued from Part 1 of 2
In reviewing this period, Mr. Crosbie wrote:--
"I was in Boston and had no reason to doubt the statements of those in N.Y.
whom I believed to be sincere and of good training and judgment. I should
have known by other means the true state of affairs...when Judge passed out
of life, I lost touch with him; doubtless I relied on him too much, and had
not exercised my own intuition; from later events my comprehension is, that
this loss of touch was purposely done in order that I might strengthen my
weakness in that direction. I went to Point Loma at Mrs. T's urgent request
to assist in the proposed work, and was there two years, helping to prepare
the way for the expected developments, before I began to get back the touch
I had lost. I am prone to excuse inconsistencies and deviations in others, so
that although I had begun to doubt, and to see, it was more than a year
afterwards I saw so clearly and unmistakably that I took occasion to tell Mrs.
T. the facts as I saw them, and to state my intention to withdraw from all
connection with her. She tried of course in every way to change my
determination, but finding me unchangeable, she let me go, and as I
afterwards heard, gave out that she had sent me away for 'bad conduct'--just
what I do not know."
(AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL NOTE by R.C.)
Mr. Crosbie married his second wife: Josephine Parsons, on April 10th
1900, in Manchester, N.H. They had two children: a daughter named
Kathleen, (Kay, Kittie) and a son: Cameron. These two went to High School
in Long Beach, Ca. They had neighbors who also came to U.L.T. and were
students of Theosophy and who remember them well. (R. McOwen, R. Law)
1900 - MOVE TO POINT LOMA
Mr. Crosbie was summoned by Mrs. Tingley to take up residence in Point
Loma outside of San Diego, California, where a Headquarters had been
located for the TS IN A, now renamed UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD.
Mr. Crosbie noted that he had been active in Theosophical matters in Boston
for some 14 years.[THY 7 293]
He went there with Mrs. Crosbie, and as was required then, all his assets
were turned over to the organization when he became a resident there. He
gave his support to Mrs. Tingley, as can be noted from several articles and
letters of his written during those years.
[THEOS. MOVEMENT ('75-'50),p. 317-19 THY 65 159-60]
Considering the close relationship that existed between Mr. Crosbie and Mr.
Judge, and the special position that Mr. Crosbie occupies in the Theosophical
Movement of modern times, one wonders whether Mr. Crosbie might not be
considered a "shepherd" who was following his straying "flock." And when
that "flock" dispersed, the "shepherd" went in search of a new one.
1904 - LEFT POINT LOMA
Conflicting reports were circulated as to why Mr. and Mrs. Crosbie left the
Point Loma establishment. None of the family assets which he turned over at
the time of entry were returned to him. He and Mrs. Crosbie left and were
penniless. [ There have been hints ( Lischner Pamphlet ) of financial
irregularities at Point Loma. Mr. and Mrs. Crosbie were not the only ones to
leave at that time. Point Loma was going through a crisis around the time of
Mrs. Tingley's death. They were heavily taxed without warning by the
government on their extensive lands. They were "land rich and cash poor" at
[THEOS. MOVEMENT ('75-50); THY 317-19; THY 23 492; THY 7
Mr. Crosbie is reported to have said: -- "We quietly left Point Loma." And
that closed the subject. (The Register of Members kept in Point Loma shows
a smudged remark in red ink against his name: "EXPELLED 1904.")
Mr. & Mrs. Crosbie found a house to rent in South Pasadena. He secured a
job as a bookkeeper in Los Angles with the Los Angeles Times. This work
was arduous and required long hours standing, and was not well paid. Like
many others he rode the "Red Cars" (street-cars) to work.
Mr. Crosbie became acquainted with his neighbors in South Pasadena: the
Garrigues, the Cloughs, the Laws, and the Churches. He found that they
were interested in theosophical ideas, and with their joint interest they
instituted a study class in Theosophy using Mr. Judge's The Ocean of
Theosophy and Mme. Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy as the first texts
studied along with the BHAGAVAD GITA, the Theosophy of 5,000 years
"Robert Crosbie preserved unbroken the link of the Second Section of the
theosophical Movement from the passing of Mr. Judge in 1896, and in
1907--just eleven years later--made that link once more Four Square
amongst men. In the year 1909 the Third Section was restored by the
formation of the United Lodge of Theosophists. In 1912 he founded the
[THY 7-289 THY 3-187/8; THE ULT ITS MISSION & FUTURE, p.8.]
Organized Theosophical meetings were first held by Mr. Crosbie under a
charter obtained from the TS IN A that Hargrove had reformed, after
splitting away from the Point Loma TS, in New York 1898/99. This had
attracted a number of Mr. Judge's earlier close companions including Dr. A.
Keightly and his wife, Julia, better known as "Jasper Niemand." [THY
A year later this Society in New York decided to change their appellation
back to : "The THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY." Since this was considered
injudicious, some in the L.A. Branch rejected the change.
Mr. Crosbie and 7 others decided to organize on their own, adopting the
original principles and the original program of the Masters which HPB and
Mr. Judge had embodied practically during their life- time. These
PRINCIPLES are to be found in the
DECLARATION OF THE UNITED LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS
Nov. 17th 1908
Mr. Crosbie issued an announcement:--
"TO ALL OPEN-MINDED THEOSOPHISTS"
[THY 24 341; FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, 409]
February 18th 1909
U.L.T. was launched. The DECLARATION is its only basis. An initial
explanatory statement will be found in :
[THY 23-337 and FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER, p. 412-14]
"No formal bond existed among the Associates of the ULT, the sole object
being the study and dissemination of Theosophy pure and simple." [THY
23-102 & THY 23-548-9]
There were 7 original associates. [THY 23 102 F.P. 412-4]
The "Third Section" was said to be restored by the formation of the U.L.T.
THY 7 289; ULT ITS MISSION & FUTURE, p. 8
"All sincere Theosophists deplore the evils in the Movement and long for
their eradication. They "dimly perceive" that these evils have an originating
and sustaining cause which must be counteracted, but so long as their
attention is fixed on effects, how can they , except with "divided mind,"
the producing cause or causes ?...They cannot learn the truth about nature
and themselves in any other school than that provided in Theosophy and in
the lessons to be learned from self-study and the study of theosophical
history. The Theosophists of today are ... faced with the same inherent
difficulties, the same problems, the same weaknesses...but the real lack then
is the real lack now--the disposition to face the facts, to make the necessary
effort to gain first-hand knowledge of Theosophy as a basis and standard of
discrimination and judgment--and then the will to act upon those finely
established principles thus self-perceived...From the beginning, but a handful
recognized the gravity of the issues involved, and that is still the case. ...
work--the will to study, apply, and so come to understand the play of forces
in human nature--is the practical application of the 3rd. Object." [THY
The "semi-esoteric character of the U.L.T." was a phrase that Mr. Crosbie
used. He also said that the ULT had to do work, which the various TSes,
then in existence, had all failed in. It had to work to restore the
the Original Impulse, as laid down by Masters through HPB." [THY Nov.
1951 THY 50 338]
Crosbie stressed impersonality and anonymity to protect the work and to
help protect the workers from "pride," and "ambition."It was recorded that in
his work Mr. Crosbie was "undeviating." [THY 52 252]
As regards himself and family, Mr. Crosbie was always well dressed in
public, at work and at the Lodge rooms, so that Theosophy might not be
rated on a poor personal appearance. He made a point of this to all those
who worked at ULT.
The children of Mr. & Mrs. Crosbie later on: 1. their daughter, Kathleen
(Kay), married a Mr. Deeds (they had two children: Scott and Keith). 2.
Their son's name was Cameron. After Mr. Crosbie's death, Mrs. Crosbie and
the two children moved to Long Beach. Mrs. Crosbie eventually went to live
in Corona, where she was "house mother" at a girl's boarding school. She
was not heard of after 1935.
Cameron Crosbie became a professional organist. During the depression he
moved to New York and kept up some desultory contact with Mr.
Garrigues, while he was there, at the New York ULT. He eventually stopped
coming and was no longer heard from.
Mrs. Josephine Crosbie was always well regarded by those who knew her.
She and Mr. Crosbie were neighborly, and as said earlier, they made friends
with Mr. and Mrs. Garrigues, Mr. and Mrs. Clough, Mr. and Mrs. Law, and
Mr. and Mrs. Church. Later still, Mr. and Mrs. Bentley ( Mrs. Bentley was
for almost 35 years the superintendent of Theosophy School ); Mr. and Mrs.
Wyman; Mr. and Mrs. Brinton Jones; Dr. and Mrs. Frederick F. Strong;
Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Manske; Miss W. Egan, and many others.
Letters "In The Beginning" (The Friendly Philosopher) were written by Mr.
Crosbie to early students at various ULTs. Some of these lived and worked
out of the San Francisco and other area. These few letters concerned
themselves with the principles on which the ULT was. Impersonality and a
direct approach to the actual teachings of HPB and WQJ was stressed again
and again. [ Friendly Philosopher pp.376-7, 382-3]
THEOSOPHY magazine was founded, Mr. Crosbie serving as chief editor
until his death in 1919. [THY 7-291]
"In 1912, the mid-point of the 2nd quarter of the Movement, the magazine
THEOSOPHY was founded to provide a medium for dealing with
theosophical philosophy and history, free from sectarian affiliations or
influences. Slowly the effort spread despite all obstacles and opposition,
impregnable basis of impersonal devotion keeping the work unsullied, an
impersonality strictly continued after the death of Mr. Crosbie in 1919."
[THY 23-102 & THY 23-548]
THEOSOPHY magazine, in its second volume started to publish a series of
articles on Theosophical History under the title: MASTERS AND THEIR
MESSAGE. This historical review of the events and the documents of the
modern THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT forms the basis for the book later
issued under the title: THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT: 1875-1925,
edited by Mr. Crosbie.
THEOSOPHY SCHOOL was started. This activity was adopted and
implemented by most ULTs as they became established.
"BECAUSE -- FOR CHILDREN WHO ASK WHY" edited by Mr. Crosbie,
Two new Theosophy Schools started around new ULTs in San Francisco
1917 - 1918
Mr. Crosbie set most of the Theosophy School songs to music himself.
"(Mr. Crosbie's) ... burdens during many years have been enormous. In
addition to his other work, he was a frequent speaker at the meetings of the
United Lodge; he was constantly at the service of the hundreds of students
who sought his wise and benign counsels in their many problems; he
attended personally, under no matter what pressures upon his time and
energies, to an incessant stream of correspondence from unknown inquirers
who came in some unknown ways to learn of him and to seek his kindly
advice and suggestion. He never denied his help, but gave freely, without
stint or limit."
"Worn out in these unselfish labors for the benefit and advantage of his
fellow men, burdened with the toll of advancing years, the frail body could
no more sustain the increasing demands upon it. He died as he had lived,
calm and serene, with no word of complaint during the days of intense
suffering that preceded his release.
Something of his firm principles and the impersonality of his life and work
can be gained from his last published article, printed in the (July 1919
THEOSOPHY :-- "Is Theosophy a Progressive System of Religion ?").
June 25th 1919
Death of Mr. Crosbie [THY 7 320]
It is valuable to note that H.P.B.'s last article was "My Books" published in
April 1891. It is a resume of evidence showing that her writings were the
recorded teachings of the Masters of Wisdom. In April 1896 Mr. Judge's last
article appeared: "H.P.B. Was Not Deserted by Masters"--his statement of
the reliability of the Messenger.
Mr. Crosbie's last article: "Is Theosophy a Progressive System of Religion ?"
(July 1919) reiterates the position that Theosophy is not a constantly
changing set of ideas, but a consistent and complete body of knowledge to be
studied, applied and promulgated as originally presented.
[ Mr. Fussell of Point Loma TS wrote some letters containing some
slanderous statements against Mr. Crosbie's character, after his death. Mr.
Garrigues showed these letters to Mrs. Crosbie. She indignantly repudiated
the statements that Mr. Fussell made. She stated that they were false and
untrue. She also challenged Mr. Fussell to prove them. He made no response
to this. (THY 23 390 THY 23 491-2)]
In the August 20th 1919 issue of the O.E.LIBRARY CRITIC, published by
Dr. Stokes from Washington D.C. wrote:--
"One cannot help comparing the exaltation of personalities and the
self-advertising which is so much in evidence in the official journals of the
T.S. with the policy of the magazine THEOSOPHY, in which all the
material, editorial or otherwise, which is written by still living persons, is
anonymous. For nearly seven years this journal has published admirable
original articles and editorials and not once have the names of the writers
The excellent letters written by the United Lodge of Theosophists to
inquirers are never signed, except by the name of the Lodge. It now appears
for the first time that Robert Crosbie, who recently died, was not only the
chief editor of THEOSOPHY, but the author of many of the best articles and
letters issued by the Lodge. From the first issue of the journal up to the
issue, announcing his death, not once does the name of Robert Crosbie, or
even his initials, appear. Nowhere are we recommended to get his
photograph and meditate upon it; nowhere are we regaled with accounts of
his movements; nobody tells us how miserable they are because Robert
Crosbie has gone to Boston and not telegraphed back from each station; not
one line is given to expatiating on his greatness.
And herein we see the true theosophical spirit exemplified, the desire to
without reward other than the privilege of rendering the service...To the
work of teaching real Theosophy, Robert Crosbie not only devoted his life,
but sacrificed it, seeking neither reputation, honor nor glory, yes, more,
deliberately turning his back on them. "To be seen of men," that is a form of
personal ambition, "the first curse,--the great tempter of the man who is
rising above his fellows." "Kill out ambition," that is the first precept
down in LIGHT ON THE PATH...." [Dr. H.N.Stokes, O.E.L.C.] (Aug.
== = = = = = = = = = = ==
Again, In the March 1933 issue of the O.E.LIBRARY CRITIC,
Dr. Stokes writes:
"Aside from the Great Lights of Theosophy, few theosophical writers appeal
to me more than Robert Crosbie, founder of the United Lodge of
Theosophists, and I rejoice in the occasional quotations from his talks which
appear in the U.L.T. magazines. Further, it is always a joy to note when any
of his devoted followers of the United Lodge, here, there or anywhere, live
up to the spirit of his dictum (Theosophy, Feb. 1920, page 107):
"Neither Jesus nor H.P.B. lived and died in order that a book or books might
be swallowed wholesale, nor even that men should become disciples, but that
all men should become brothers."
To this one might add that Robert Crosbie did not live in order that books or
pamphlets lauding--and misrepresenting--him should be "swallowed
wholesale," but that truth should prevail...
The magazine Theosophy, which was edited by Robert Crosbie up to the
time of his death last July , has just begun publishing a series of his
articles, letters and talks. Many are extremely lucid and illuminating,
theosophical student should miss them, no matter to what society he
belongs." [Dr. H.N.Stokes, OELC (Nov. 1919, OELC)]
++ = = = = = = = = = = =++
Following the principles of the ULT DECLARATION neither Mr. Crosbie,
nor any student of the ULT has ever made any special claim as "successor,"
"leader," or "teacher." Each student and inquirer has been carefully put into
direct touch with H P B, our teacher through her writings--original and
unchanged. Each has been encouraged to study, work for Theosophy and
practice that universal brotherhood which forms the unifying basis of all
Nature. Mr. Judge's writings have been selected for study and reproduction
because they most faithfully and carefully follow and supplement Mme.
Blavatsky's writings and all students are encouraged to prove this for
B I B L I O G R A P H Y
THE FRIENDLY PHILOSOPHER -- Letters and talks by R. Crosbie
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY --
Unedited selections from questions asked and answers given by Robert
Crosbie in study classes in the Ocean of Theosophy by Wm. Q. Judge
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT : 1875 - 1925 -- edited by R.C.
BECAUSE -- FOR CHILDREN WHO ASK WHY -- short stories
illustrating practical Theosophy for children. -- edited by R.C.
THEIR COLLEAGUE PASSES -- an appreciation of his work in and for
ULT and THEOSOPHY magazine [THY 7-289]
THE GUIDANCE OF ROBERT CROSBIE -- THY 26-337
LOYALTY: [ OF ROBERT CROSBIE ] -- THY 19-337
THE RECORD OF ROBERT CROSBIE -- THY 25-337
THEOSOPHISTS AND ROBERT CROSBIE -- THY 24-337
ROBERT CROSBIE -- THY 21-337
HE KEPT THE LINES UNBROKEN --THEOS. MVT. 16- 99
FOUNDER OF THE ULT --THEOS. MVT. 4-113
THE U.L.T. AND ITS FOUNDER --THEOS. MVT. 14-113
=== end of Part 2 of 2 ====
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