Theosophists: Reunite!
By F. Pierce Spinks


“Now I beseech you, brethren ... that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren ... that there are contentions among you.
“Now this I say, that everyone of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
“Is Christ divided? ...”
- I Corinthians, 1,10-12

FROM the previous chapter we have learned that despite the expressed wish of the White Lodge and their spokesman, H.P. Blavatsky that the Theosophists should remain united at all costs, there are now several societies calling themselves Theosophical which do not even communicate with each other. They do not display “a spirit of unity and harmony” as called for in “The Original Program of the T.S.”; nor do they show “a great mutual toleration and charity for each other’s shortcomings” required by the Founders and written into the said Program. Moreover, they do not extend each other “mutual help in the research of truths in every domain,” as specifically called for in this “Original Program.” On the other hand some of them willfully and knowingly encourage an attitude of non-cooperation with other groups of Theosophists. Some of the leaders of the groups know that this is contrary to the first and prime Object of all the groups, but they [106] steadfastly refuse to cooperate with those who have in the past attempted to induce friendship and brotherliness among Theosophists. It is difficult for their followers to disassociate themselves from a policy which is set for them by their leaders, but a growing number of these followers are slowly realizing the folly of this leadership (to the extent that it supports disunity), which moves against the noble aim of all of us - A Universal Brotherhood of all men.

All the Theosophical Societies have much in common - more than is necessary to live together in harmony in One World Theosophical Society. All agree on the following:

a. Objects of the Theosophical Society
b. Universal Brotherhood as the main objective
c. Basic Teachings of Theosophy (see Chapter IV)
d. Belief in a White Lodge of Initiates whose members they call Masters
e. Belief that H.P. Blavatsky was the chosen spokesman of the Lodge.

These agreements are unquestionably sufficient to warrant a re-association of all groups as in H.P.B.’s day.

We are now to review some statements by prominent Theosophists in each of the Societies which will substantiate the assertion that a very unsatisfactory situation exists in the Theosophical Movement today, one which the Founders and the White Lodge would unquestionably condemn, as do the majority of the rank-and-file Theosophists throughout the world. As already stated, the breadth of the platform which the Founders designed in establishing the Society allowed plenty of room for people of widely dissimilar beliefs to come together and work in harmony towards the attainment [107] of the Objects of the Society. The Master K.H. once wrote to Mr. Sinnett that for any success in occultism it was necessary to associate people of dissimilar forces and polarities around the dominant idea of Universal Brotherhood. Obviously this means that some sacrifice in the form of tolerance is called for, and this sacrifice is of the very essence of occult progress. As Sidney A. Cook, Vice-President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), once said:

“Our differences are not to divide us; they are not merely for addition; they are for multiplication of our powers so that we bring together our respective ideas and opinions and blend and integrate them into strength.” [1]

John Dewey said that a problem well stated is half solved. This is felt to be a sufficient excuse, if one is needed, for holding up a mirror to the Theosophists of today, and spelling out the problem, unpleasant though the task be. “Facts,” said Aldous Huxley, “do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” If by scrutinizing the unpleasant facts which mar the Theosophical scene of today the Movement can thereby return to the integrity of the Original Program of the Theosophical Society, then no apology need be made, for a necessary task will have been accomplished.

Written evidence of the problem is to be found in many sources. For example in The Canadian Theosophist, of May 15, 1954, we read:

“Individuals have realized that the continuance of the cleavages in the Movement is wrong, but nothing has been done by the ‘successors in guidance’ to correct the wrong. Pride, ignorance and a disdainful indifference have contributed to this; the situation will not be changed until either the increase in the number of those who desire to see the barriers removed is such as to force official action, or ‘the successors’ themselves come together in round table discussions.” [108]

The phrase “successors in guidance” refers to the great need which H.P.B. stated her successors would have of unbiased and clear judgment in the guidance of the Society.

In the same issue is to be found an article entitled “A Draft Preliminary Memorandum on an Alternative Policy for the T.S.” by T.H. Redfern, President of ‘Peace Lodge’ (Adyar) Theosophical Society, in Hyde, Cheshire, England, which reads in part:

“We regard the present relations (or lack of them) between the several branches of the Movement as a breach of the First principle of Brotherhood, and consequently a serious weakening in the power of the Movement to render its due service in the world. The main branches we refer to are The Theosophical Society (Adyar), The Theosophical Society (Pasadena) and The United Lodge of Theosophists, but we do not ignore lesser branches, and the principle applies to all. We hold that these breaches should and can be healed, but only members in all three bodies who behave as Theosophists can do it.”

Common to both these statements is a dissatisfaction with the present situation and a feeling that it must and can be corrected. The conviction is present that the power of the Movement to do its proper function in the world is seriously weakened by the disunities which prevail. Brother Redfern further says:

“In a world in which there is a growing interest in occultism, The Theosophical Movement should be outstanding as the united body of such students as are distinguished by the evident practice of brotherhood amongst themselves and in their relationship in the world, and by their mutual, equipoised respect for divergencies of understanding in their co-working!”

Mutual respect for divergent viewpoints is central to the Theosophical structure. For how can any group of heterogeneous elements function successfully side by side without this basic tolerance of opinion and respect for the beliefs of others? The Original Program [109] of the Society demanded it of all Fellows of the Society on pain of expulsion.

There can be no better authority on the supreme importance of unity than the Master K.H. himself. In his letter Number Four to Mr. A.P. Sinnett, dated Amrita Saras, October 29, 1880, he says:

“I must ask you to remember that the new Society shall not be allowed to disconnect itself with the Parent Body, though you are at liberty to manage your affairs in your own way without fearing the slightest interference from its President so long as you do not violate the general Rules.”

The “new Society” referred to was the proposed formation of an Anglo-Indian Branch of the Society. He said it “would be a mortal blow at the Theosophical Society” to form a new and independent Society, having the same objects and directors behind the scenes as the Society already established.

H.P.B.’s ideas on this subject are forcefully presented in a letter which she wrote to Rev. Arthur Gebhard from Ostende on July 13, 1886:

“But for you to talk of forming ‘an independent Branch’ - i.e. one that will be regarded as a rival or an inimical one I find a treason to the Masters (Underscoring is that of H.P.B.). And how can you ever suppose that the Masters will have anything to do with, or even notice a Society if it has nothing to do whatever with the Parent T.S.? ... But do not talk of independent Societies if you are Theosophists, and if you do not want to renounce the Masters more even than Franz did.”

From this it is a certainty that H.P.B. would vehemently oppose any and all schisms from the Parent Theosophical Society.

Suggestions as to the presence of more serious imperfections in the Movement are to be found in the next excerpt written by a correspondent to the Editor [110] of The Canadian Theosophist, and appearing on page 171 of the issue of January 15, 1952. It reads:

“Is it the ‘Theosophists’ Movement’ to which we would call the world’s attention? Surely internecine warfare, backbiting, calumny, slander and vindictiveness are not Theosophical inventions - they will never make a name for our Movement!
“What a curious spectacle - how She and They must laugh!
- to see small, jealous groups of rival Theosophists sedulously avoiding each other, while trying to do the work of H.P.B. and the Masters. Within recent months three new volumes of undeniably Theosophical literature have come off three different presses: the fifth volume (1883) of the COMPLETE WORKS OF H.P.B.; H.P.B. SPEAKS (Vol. I); and PRACTICAL OCCULTISM from the private letters of W.Q. Judge. Did hosannas go up from Theosophical groups everywhere upon the appearance of these labours of love? Not noticeably.”

The references to calumny, slander and vindictiveness are very disturbing and should have no place in a Movement committed to Brotherhood. Written documents will unfortunately bear out this statement. In the preface (page V) to The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, published anonymously by The Cunningham Press of Los Angeles, California, the statement is made that the previous issue of this History covering the period from 1875 to 1925 was published “in the face of a threatened libel suit.” A reference to this previous volume will find much harsh criticism of various Theosophical groups. A detached scholar would be compelled to agree that this criticism of fellow Theosophists is not in keeping with the spirit of the Original Program of the Theosophical Society.

It is a matter of record, also, that the Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society (Point Loma) under Katherine Tingley’s leadership distributed widely two pamphlets, Incidents in the History of the Theosophical Movement and Annie Besant and the Moral [111] Code, which severely reproached the Theosophical Society (Adyar) and some of its prominent members. While the Society itself took no official notice of these unfriendly attacks, they aroused deep resentment on the part of many of the members and only served to worsen the situation.

There can be no doubt that these and other incidents which follow demonstrate how far some of the Theosophical Societies of today have wandered from The Original Program of the Theosophical Society. In her “Preliminary Memorandum” of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), H.P. Blavatsky wrote:

“The Masters can give but little assistance to a Body not thoroughly united in purpose and feeling, and which breaks its fundamental rule - universal brotherly love, without distinction of race, creed or colour; nor to a Society, many members of which pass their lives in judging, condemning, and often reviling other members in a most untheosophical, not to say disgraceful, manner.” [2]

It is to be feared that the ‘reviling’ of other members in a ‘disgraceful manner’ is present today, for we find the Editor of Theosophical Notes (Berkeley, California), writing in the October 1955 issue making the statement that the members of a certain group of Theosophists “would die before they would join the Theosophical Society of Adyar.” How greatly this contrasts with H.P.B.’s ideas regarding the necessity for cooperation and unity can be seen from the Memorandum she wrote to members on the eve of her departure from India with Colonel Olcott in February 1884:

“What the Society expects from all its Branches and individual members is cooperation and help in its grand task of uniting the East and the West, the North and the South, in [112] a Scientific Brotherhood armed against dissension and consequent failure by the principle of Mutual Tolerance and Mutual Intellectual Sympathy ...”

There are many who feel that the existence of several Theosophical Societies is in itself a distinct curb to its progress. Dudley W. Barr, editor of The Canadian Theosophist (Adyar), once said:

“I can never write ‘other Theosophical Societies’ without feeling how incongruous it is to have more than one ‘Theosophical Society’ - to have ‘the wisdom of the god’ relating as it does to the Universal Brotherhood of man, parcelled out by different organizations, none of which will have anything to do with the firm next door.” (Italics added).

Here is a serious charge and one which is undeniable, that the different Theosophical Societies are not on speaking terms with each other. Obviously this impedes the creation of the brotherhood which the Movement was designed to create.

For Theosophists to be divided, says T.H. Redfern [3]

“is a contradiction in terms, an impossibility, and for those who would be Theosophists to remain divided is therefore a confession of failure.”

The editors of Eirenicon, [4] speaking of the disunion of those who should be united, emphasize the same note:

“The disunity of the Theosophical Movement is so radically contrary to its essential mission and message to mankind that the Movement is seriously invalidated and cannot fully sustain the power necessary for its complete success.”

Readers will generally agree that commitment to the ideal of brotherhood is incompatible with the existence of bad relations between sister societies. The writer of the above article goes on to suggest that it may be that reunion cannot start at the top but will [113] be brought about “through some of the ordinary rank and file in the several Societies who deplore the disunion, seek one another out, begin to meet and banish barriers and serve as leaven in the Societies and Lodges to which they belong.” Without such a reunion he doubts that the present Movement will be found “usable as a launching platform ... by the expected Messenger from the Brotherhood of Adepts in 1975.” He is referring here to the theory generally held by Theosophists that the Initiates of the White Lodge attempt to help mankind more openly during the last quarter of each century. Most Theosophists hope that the problems in the Movement can be solved by then so that this Brotherhood of highly evolved men will have a strong vehicle through which to work.

In an unsigned article appearing in The Canadian Theosophist, May 15, 1954, we read:

“Today the Theosophical Movement is split into various separate organizations and the ‘solidarity,’ ‘unity of purpose and feeling’ and ‘brotherly love’ is still missing - and missing also is ‘the more tangible help’ from Those who were behind the founding of the Society.”

In harmony was further evidenced when Mrs. Alice L. Cleather, prominent in her day as a pupil of H.P.B., formed “The Blavatsky Association” and denied membership therein to members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).

An editorial in The Canadian Theosophist, September 1951, raises the question as to whether any of the schisms in the Movement were necessary in view of the fact that wide divergencies of opinion are permitted to continue within the Adyar Theosophical Society. What would have been the effect, it boldly queries, [114]

“if in spite of all provocations, all groups had remained in the one Society, each quietly and firmly maintaining its own independent approach, and contributing ideas to the whole body? Many words have been written in justification of these divisions ... But notwithstanding all rationalizations, the fact remains that we did undertake to form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, and that we have now a half-dozen Universal Brotherhoods who do not speak to each other. Can we do something about this in the short time remaining?”

The Theosophical Society (Adyar) does permit this free expression, an assertion amply borne out by the criticism of some of its policies which has long been made by the Canadian Section and certain Lodges elsewhere.

An article on “White Lotus Day” appearing in The Canadian Theosophist, May 15, 1953, declares the Movement has such viability that it moves forward despite “our human foolishness and downright stupidity, our egotism and self-righteousness.” These characteristics have arrested its progress together with “distortions of the original message,” the “power complexes of many ‘leaders’,” and “the activities of little ‘holier-than-thou’ groups within the Movement.”

Recognizing that the situation was unsatisfactory, some attempts were made to rectify it. The largest scale effort will be dealt with in a later chapter. But all these efforts failed to reunite. And why? Because the real aim was not to unite the Societies but rather to attract members to themselves, not only individual members, but whole groups.

A good deal of effort was expended by The Theosophical Society (Point Loma) in an attempt to have Theosophists of all affiliations meet annually in common observance of the anniversary of the death of H.P. Blavatsky, a day called White Lotus Day. The [115] United Lodge of Theosophists have never officially cooperated in this effort, though Lodges of other affiliations have. The San Francisco Lodge of the T.S. (Point Loma) used to invite the local U.L.T. annually to this joint celebration, but they steadfastly declined. On one of these occasions two members of the U.L.T. heard of the invitation and attended. Noticing them there, the Point Loma group reported the meeting as a “joint” celebration with the T.S. (Adyar) and the U.L.T. This report disturbed the officials of the U.L.T.

Mr. T.H. Redfern, President of the Peace Lodge of the T.S. (Adyar) in England, whom we have already quoted, has made similar efforts to bring together on White Lotus Day members of the Point Loma T.S. and the U.L.T. with Adyar members. He reports the following incident in Eirenicon, August-September 1948. He visited the London office of the U.L.T. early in 1948 and asked if they would join in a White Lotus Day celebration which was being contemplated by the Adyar and Point Loma lodges of the Northwest. The U.L.T. replied that they could have no joint celebration until the Adyar and Covina Societies “have the same policy as we do,” that is, the study of the “unaltered Message of H.P.B.” Mr. Redfern then asked them if their members would join in a meeting not sponsored officially by any lodges but merely by individuals, the idea motivating them being a mutual admiration for H.P.B. The reply was that individual students were free to do as they liked about such a meeting.

Mr. Redfern commented that there was much which he deeply admired about the U.L.T. - and so do we - but he doubts that either H.P. Blavatsky or W.Q. Judge would approve of their attitude towards other [116] Theosophical Societies. We are certain they would not, for obviously some of these attitudes flagrantly violate “The Original Program of the Theosophical Society” written by H.P.B. herself.

At about the same time another effort was made to bring the Societies together. It was the occasion of the Annual Convention of the English Section of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). Mrs. Groves, General Secretary, sent invitations to the Point Loma T.S. and the U.L.T. to attend the opening session. The Vice-President of the English Section of the Point Loma T.S. attended and on invitation made a speech. Not so the U.L.T., who sent a letter stating why they could not cooperate. Nevertheless, in a beautiful and dignified display of brotherhood in action, Mrs. Groves attended a special U.L.T. meeting in memory of Robert Crosbie, founder of the U.L.T. She stated that she went personally to assure the U.L.T. that only friendly sentiments had prompted her invitation. She added that while the U.L.T. members were friendly to her personally, they expressed themselves strongly that the other Societies were “on the wrong lines,” and they gave this as their reason for avoiding fraternization. The U.L.T. (London) followed this with a letter to Mrs. Groves stating that they appreciated her efforts towards friendliness, but reiterating their stand that H.P.B.’s teachings had been “modified, twisted and distorted beyond recognition by individuals calling themselves Theosophists.” “There could be,” the letter stated, “no possible cooperation between ourselves and your Society until the Theosophical Society (Adyar) repudiates the teachings of its false teachers.”

It is well known that all members of all Theosophical societies are united in admiration for H.P.B. One might [117] ask where are the sensitive feelings of a group that would refuse to pay a tribute in death to the one to whom all owe so much. She had nothing in life but a wish to serve all of us; so how can we so steel our hearts to the common urge to pay her homage, on this one day of the year, that we must do so in separate corners, disunited, willfully so, despite her last wish that we remain united? What kind of homage is this to the Teacher-Foundress?

These unsatisfactory inter-relationships extend even into the area of the publication of H.P.B.’s works, for it is related by a former official of the United Lodge of Theosophists that his group proposed to the T.S. (Point Loma) that they should print a joint issue of The Secret Doctrine without the imprimatur of either Society on it, but the Point Loma T.S. turned down the offer. This, it should be added, was some years ago, in the middle twenties.

Evidence of bitterness is present in The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, a book generally believed to have been written by members of the United Lodge of Theosophists, though no author is shown. Speaking of the conditions in the Theosophical Society in India after 1885, this book states:

“A Society with this sort of leadership was worse than none, for its policy was one of semi-conscious hypocrisy, justified by fear. It may be added that there has been no appreciable change in the Adyar Society from that day to this.” [5]

This is an assertion which decidedly does not harmonize with the requirements of The Original Program of the T.S. as to not hurting the feelings of a fellow member. Nor does it present the full story which, when told and read by unbiased minds, amply justifies the actions which the leaders of that day took. In [118] the passage just quoted the largest segment of the Theosophical fraternity is held up for condemnation in a book purporting to be a history. It is noteworthy that a few paragraphs later in this same volume H.P. Blavatsky is quoted as highly praising that very leadership of the Adyar Society which the U.L.T. deplore:

“Ceylon was the foyer from which the religion of Gautama streamed out to Cambodia, Siam and Burma; what then could be more appropriate than that there should be borne from this Holy Land a message of Brotherhood to Japan! How this message was taken, how delivered by our President, and with what magnificent results, is too well known to the whole Western World to need reiteration of the story in the present connection. Suffice it to say, it ranks among the most dramatic events in history, and is the all sufficient, unanswerable and crowning proof of the vital reality of our scheme to beget the feeling of Universal Brotherhood among all peoples, races, kindreds, castes, and colors.” [6]

Another sweeping disparagement of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) is found later in the same work:

“When H.P.B. left India in 1885, the Adyar Society quite evidently lapsed to the status of a religious organization, subject to all the weaknesses and defects of organizational sectarianism. Thereafter the chief function of Adyar seems to have been to harrass H.P.B. and to impede her work, and, after her passing, to do the same to William Q. Judge. To continue the history of the Adyar Society in detail after 1900 would be to perform a melancholy ritual in the name of historical ‘completeness,’ while neglecting the vital currents of Theosophical influence, if any, arising from other sources.” [7]

Can the author be making these generalizations merely for the sake of building up another organization of Theosophists? It is suggested that it would be less melancholy if this author were to record the obvious plus-factors as well as what he believes to be the minus-factors, and include all the excellent work which noble ladies and gentlemen dedicated to a high [119] purpose have done and are doing to promote the Objects of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). It would seem only fair to mention both. Not to do so in a ‘history’ of the Movement could be taken as showing bias. Particulars of these worthwhile achievements are to be had for the asking, and include such activities as listed below:

A group of scientifically inclined members form sub-groups to undertake research projects. They have published a long list of monographs linking Theosophy and modern science.

A group in New York City for the most part, with similar ideas to the London group. So far they have put out only mimeographed materials for the orientation of new workers.

An English group dedicated to the helping of parents. Publishes The Parents Group Bulletin, a Quarterly now near the end of its second year. An outstanding magazine.

Last year 628 libraries were visited and 4773 books were placed in 738 libraries. Sixteen titles of Theosophical Books are offered to libraries and subscriptions to The Theosophist. Most of this work is done by Miss Edith Grey, but many others help in time and contributions. The books are free to the libraries.

Braille Library of over 700 volumes serving blind readers on a national basis: 656 volumes loaned last year; 79 volumes added to library.
Theosophical Braille Quarterly of 68 pages: Members’ supplement sent out eight times a year.
Talking books for those who cannot read Braille: 148 books; 22 new added last year. [120]
The Directors, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Snyder, recently returned from a year in Asia. In Pakistan they trained 32 people to write Braille, 5 of them blind, and helped them to start educational work for the blind. In India they taught Braille to a class at the Theosophical Headquarters; when trained they will start a Braille section of the Adyar Library.

Food and clothing parcels to needy persons in the U.S. and abroad.
Hospital Service
Recreation work for patients including showing movies Service to patients - reading, errands, etc.
Work with crippled children
Encouraging prison reform
Combatting juvenile delinquency
Work with prisoners
Classes in a few prisons
Letters to prisoners
Books in prison libraries
Camp Kolikinthou, near Athens, Greece
European Theosophists adopted this camp to try to help the persons there. They called upon American Theosophists for help. Supplementary diet furnished to the refugees there improved the mental and physical condition of adults and children so that only 20% of the children in this camp needed special treatment for lung conditions as compared to 85% in other camps. Now all families who wish to do so have been aided to start life outside and given $100 each to make a start. This leaves in the camp only those who wished to remain, all of whom have employment, and the U.N. (United Nations) is building houses for them. The complete job of rehabilitation has been held up to other groups assisting in other camps as an ideal.

To demonstrate the appreciation of the United Nations Department for Refugees for the quality of work accomplished by the Theosophists at Camp Kolikinthou we quote from a letter written by Mme. Ariane de Berg in Geneva to the Chairman of the American Theosophical Committee for Camp Kolikinthou: [121]

“Through my previous communications and the Theosophical Press you know how greatly our work is appreciated by the High Commissioner’s for Refugees Office in Geneva. Since we started our ‘Camp Adoption Scheme,’ 50 camps have been adopted, and I have been told many times that we were the only ones to have made a constructive job of it ...
“I have been asked to write ‘The Story of Camp Kolikinthou Adoption’ for distribution among the other organizations who have adopted camps after our example, to serve as a guide in their work. I have been asked also to have it recorded as part of a broadcast on the U.N. High Commissioner’s for Refugees work.”

Another letter from the Secretary on Foreign Relations of The Theosophical Society, Athens, Greece, to the Link Officer for St. Michael’s Center, Huizen, Holland, pays tribute to the excellence of this work:

“Several families have been rehabilitated and having left the camp, they now live in their homes, full of gratitude. Most of the other refugees have been helped to find work and earn their living. Young people, especially girls, have been trained in professions and crafts or have been helped to finish their education in schools, so that they may earn their livelihood in a respectable way ...
“This great Theosophical achievement has been recognized by all official agencies - by the Greek Government, by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by the World Council of Churches and by many others.”

Thus there are many constructive and soundly Theosophical activities in progress at all times, and these so transparently outweigh the errors which everyone has made that we ask: Where is the profit in harshly criticizing brother Theosophists, particularly in a book which is read as history by the public? Does this not damage the Movement rather than help it?

A new student who might not have access to other histories and other estimates of this Society might indeed conclude that the Original Program had altogether been forsaken. But the evident self-righteousness [122] of this critique violates the demand of the Founders that all Fellows show “great mutual toleration and charity for each other’s shortcomings.” The same paragraph speaks of “the betrayal of William Q. Judge” by the first two Presidents of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), i.e. Col. H.S. Olcott and Mrs. A. Besant. These are strong words of condemnation, whereas the Original Program demands of its members complete tolerance of other members’ shortcomings. One of the Masters wrote that “no Theosophist should blame a brother ... throw slur upon his actions or denounce him lest he should lose the right of being considered a Theosophist.” It is feared that the denouncements made by the anonymous writer above quoted would hardly have the approval of the Master who wrote the passage just cited.

The same anonymous writer in The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950 criticizes C. Jinarajadasa, then President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), for using the word ‘God’ in certain of his writings.

“The President of the Theosophical Society ought to heed the advice of his predecessor in office, Mr. Arundale, and gain a definite acquaintance at least with the spirit of The Secret Doctrine, for he would find in that book the categorical statement by Madame Blavatsky that ‘Initiates never use the epithet “God” to designate the One and Secondless Principle in the Universe; ..: As one who, in 1925, was not merely an ‘initiate,’ but, according to Mrs. Besant’s Ommen revelation, a first-string ‘Arhat,’ Mr. Jinarajadasa betrays an amazing ignorance of the customs of his ‘degree’.” [8]

Madame Blavatsky did reject the idea of an extra-cosmic, personal and anthromorphic God; but she propounded instead a Universal Divine Principle.

“It is not the One, Unknown, ever-present God in Nature, or Nature in abscondito that is rejected, but the God of human dogma and his humanized ‘Word’.” - The Secret Doctrine, I, p. 9, 1st edition. [123]

So what difference does it make whether we call this Divine Principle God, Jehovah, Supreme Being, Creator, Nature, Allah, Yah, Adonai, Ain-Soph, Tao, Brahman, Osiris, Adi-Buddha, or any other appellation that attempts to convey to the mind an idea embodying an impersonal, divine Deity? It is a question of semantics and not a case wherein criticism of one group of Theosophists by another is justified. If this writer is an agnostic, we can sympathize with the point of view which candidly asserts that it does not know if God exists. But if he denies the existence of God, his profession makes him an atheist, guilty of a dogmatic assertion without the slightest evidence to support it.

The following pertinent story is told in Dun’s Review, March 1956, p.96, and the temptation to quote it is too great to resist:

“During World War II a heated argument developed during a meeting of the British and American Chiefs of Staff Committee. The British brought in a memo on an important point and proposed to ‘table’ it - which to them meant to begin immediate discussion. This brought a protest from the Americans to whom ‘tabling’ means putting aside, and the argument became rather warm before both groups realized they wanted the same thing.”

Let us not get into the way of being querrulous about terminology. The Christians use the word God, Father, Lord, Creator, Redeemer, and we use the words Supreme Being for the same purpose. We speak of Divine Beings, and they speak of Angels; we speak of The Lords of Karma, and they use the term Angels of the Lord who administer justice; we use the Sanskrit word Karma, and they use the phrase “As ye sow so shall ye reap.” There IS no objection to using a different set of word-forms to convey the same idea, provided we advise our hearers that they are the same, [124] and that our use of a different term does not constitute a declaration of a new dogma. The human mind is prone to abstract a different meaning from different terminologies, and therefrom draw or abstract different inferences. Thus it is seen that the use of different terminologies to describe the same fact or process tends to lead seekers for truth along different pathways. An over-ambitious person might seek to capitalize on this situation by forming a new sect or church or society (with themselves as the head) and by declaring the first party in error as to beliefs.

Alfred Korzybski said that if you destroy the terminology of a science you destroy the science. The same might be said of religion. When these differences between groups of Theosophists are emphasized and a fellow Theosophist is held up for ridicule because of his belief, the Original Program of the T.S. is violated.

To use the terminology of General Semantics, a new branch of knowledge now struggling for deserved recognition: Maps are not the Territory - they only represent it. There is nothing wrong with the term ‘God’ except the Maps which we have of It, in some cases. H.P.B. tried to change those Maps, but she did not claim that the Territory which the Map was supposed to represent did not exist.

*  *  *

During a European Conference of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) held at Molle, Sweden on August 22 and 23, 1953, its leader, J.A. Long, made the statement that it was only his society through which the Masters work. [9] This same statement was also frequently made on his trip through Europe in the Spring of 1951. [10] [125]

This is an assertion, unverifiable and non-corroboratable, which cannot help but breed disunity among the Theosophists of today, for if this, the smallest of the three Societies, is the only one which the White Lodge sponsors, then similar claims made by other Theosophical Societies must be spurious.

But how can this group deny to other Theosophical groups the validity which it claims for itself? This and similar statements only widen the gap between the Theosophical groups. They are not, we reiterate, in keeping with the spirit or letter of The Original Program of the T.S. It should not escape the average intelligence that deception on the psychic and alleged occult plane is the simplest kind to put forward, and these claims probably exceed the true ones by ten thousand to one. The true occultist will make no public claims. The case of H.P.B. was a rare exception.

The problem of bad inter-Theosophical group relations is augmented by bad intra-Theosophical group relations in several instances. The Point Loma T.S. was rent by internal dissensions at the time of the assumption of leadership by Colonel A.L. Conger in 1945, and this caused a number of its prominent members to leave the Society. A further and more serious trouble took place in 1951 on Colonel Conger’s death as related in the previous chapter.

Additional evidence of disharmony between the sister societies of the Movement is the barrage of heated criticism levelled at so-called ‘neo-Theosophy’ and its advocates by some of those who have come to be known as ‘pure-Theosophists’ in the ‘Blavatsky tradition.’ Present in much of this is rancour, bitterness, and denunciation of the beliefs of the ‘neo- Theosophists,’ [126] qualities which do violence to the Original Program of the T.S. Passages could be quoted to illustrate this, but they are purposely omitted because of their severity and inappropriateness in a work devoted to finding ways to restore harmony in the Movement. No one even partly acquainted with what is going on in the Movement today will deny the existence of this discordant undercurrent. One feels constrained to remind these critics of the oriental proverb which says, “Thou shalt not swat the fly on thy neighbor’s forehead with a hatchet.”

This harsh criticism usually originates in two of the groups and is directed at members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), many of whom have found the formulations of neo-Theosophy worthy of their belief. Criticism of beliefs is not necessarily to be deplored, as it can produce progress. But it must be done in a friendly spirit and in a manner not to offend, as required in the Original Program. “Honest differences of views and honest debate,” says Herbert Hoover, “are not disunity. They are the vital process of policy-making among free men.” But separate Societies, devoted to the same objects, which do not speak to each other, and which harshly criticize each other, are a case of disunity. In the Theosophical Society an open invitation is made to people of widely differing beliefs to join in forming a brotherhood. Respect for differing creeds is mandatory not only by reason of the nature of the Society itself, but also because of the specific injunction to that effect in “The Original Program.”

It must be clearly understood that the abolition of constructive criticism is not being advocated. Historically, critical statements are of positive value because [127] they focus attention on any weakness, and this forces change. There are many who are against the skeptical attitude. They say: Unless you have constructive criticism, do not give destructive criticism. From the intellectual viewpoint that request is quite dubious. It is clear in the history of the intellect that skepticism has always preceded anything constructive. Quite a number of scientists and philosophers developed and expanded their theories after skepticism had revealed their flaws. If there are no strong objections to any particular thesis, then the thesis stands. The burden of skepticism, criticism and questioning forces the adherents of a theory to turn back to its foundations in order to meet the objections. They must then either develop the theory more strongly or they must modify it.

A new member of the Corresponding Fellows Lodge in England wrote the editor of the “Bulletin” some months ago expressing surprise that in an organization devoted to Brotherhood there should be disharmony. He was particularly concerned because this Lodge had been “turned out of the Point Loma T.S.” It reminded him of earlier schisms in the Movement. He felt it was “high time that all bodies … teaching Theosophy under the same name should hold a World Congress to thrash out their differences” and work out a new plan “for achieving a United Theosophical Brotherhood.” Other members, new and old, are becoming increasingly vocal in this regard, showing that they reject the old unbrotherly pattern and want to re-establish the Movement on the basis set by the Founders.

Perhaps the most serious harm caused by dissensions in the Movement is the confusion created in the mind [128] of the public when they see the Theosophical Societies all separated though professing brotherhood. As Mr. A.P. Warrington, Vice-President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) said at the International Convention held at Adyar 24-27 December 1932:

“As it is, the broad Theosophical Movement, with its twenty or more different kinds of Theosophical Societies, can but impress the inquirer as following unfortunately in the footsteps of religious Protestantism with its numberless dissensions and sects.” [11]

This situation is deplorable and puts the public in much the same predicament as the hypothetical animal, Buridan’s ass. This creature, usually credited to the French philosopher Jean Buridan (14th century), suffered from the hypothetical dilemma of perfectly balanced but conflicting desires for two different piles of hay. Hypothetically the poor ass died from starvation.

As early as July, 1930, Marie R. Hotchener, a prominent Theosophical writer, expressed regret that the Theosophists should continue to criticize and condemn each other, and pointed out that this had hurt the progress of Theosophy everywhere. She added:

“How can the general public accept as genuine our professions of spiritual brotherhood and tolerance if one group of Theosophists condemns another group? And how can Theosophy become a vital force for world peace if it does not first prove itself a unifying force for peace among Theosophists themselves?” [12]

Other Theosophical groups have more or less serious internal dissensions, and perhaps this must be expected in the present imperfect state of man’s evolution. But the Founders’ broad platform provided the widest latitude for differing viewpoints. This has been singularly demonstrated in the case of the Canadian Section of the T.S. (Adyar). For years they have voiced strong [129] disapproval of policies and doctrines enunciated by the Leaders of their own international organization. But they have done this within the framework of their own national society, as loyal members of it, and without seceding from it, a fact which is highly commendable. This leads one to ask why all other differences in the past could not have been handled in the same way. In the T.S. (Adyar) intra-Theosophical difficulties are also to be found. In his Presidential Address to the 80th International Convention at Adyar, December 26, 1955, Mr. N. Sri Ram said:

“I am glad to advert here to the annual report from France, because it strikes a note of serene hope, following the dissensions which have agitated the members of that Section during the last six years. Another Section where there have been differences of a disturbing nature, but which is now able to report a state of unity, is Chile in South America ... I personally have the trust that in a Society which stands for so beautiful a teaching as Theosophy and has had the inestimable blessing of having been started under the inspiration of the Masters of the Wisdom, all dissensions and differences due to our human frailties and ignorance must disappear sooner or later like mist before the sunshine.”

The above are a few of the many instances which could be cited which prove that the inter-relations between the Theosophical groups of today are far from satisfactory. One would have no hesitation in saying that the Founders would strongly disapprove of such a situation, and the assertion is confidently made that the rank and file Theosophists of today yearn to see it corrected.

Herbert Hoover, on the occasion of the Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation, said that “the duty of men in public office ... is to lead in standards of integrity.” How much more is it true that it is the duty of those who presently lead the different units of the broken Theosophical Movement to lead in standards of Theosophical [130] integrity; and these standards must of necessity conform to the Original Program of the Founders of the Theosophical Society. There is danger of decay in the Movement if the Theosophists, through complaisance with error, allow policies to continue which are basically unfriendly to that Program.

*  *  *

Now let us return some sixty years on the time track to the Tenth Convention of the American Section in Chicago on April 26, 1896. Colonel Olcott is addressing the members. Viewing the secession of the previous year with pain in his heart, knowing that it would cause anguish in the heart of H.P.B. also, he is heard to say that the split must be recognized as an accomplished fact, and he wishes his late associates well in all the good work they might do in the future, “patiently waiting for the time when they shall be ready to undo the wrong they have done us and smooth the way for closer and more brotherly cooperation. The initiative must come from them. We can do no more than we have, viz. to declare our readiness to meet them half-way, to forget the past, and to forgive the injuries they have done us collectively and individually.”

Since then several expressions of a desire for unity in the Movement have been made by leaders of the different groups. In Dr. de Purucker’s Letter to Members of the T.S. (Point Loma) dated February 17, 1930, we read:

“Following instructions that have been given to me in a very definite form, it is my duty to tell you that the time has now come when every true and devoted Theosophist should work towards a unification of the various more or less scattered, and in some cases, alas, antagonistic, Societies of the general Theosophical Movement.” [131]

In his Messages to Conventions Dr. de Purucker underscores his desire to eliminate “the Theosophical disgrace” of separate disunited Societies, and his earnest appeal for a reunification of all Theosophical Societies into one Society.

Annie Besant, President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) from 1907-1933, said:

“I think we both hope so to work that eventually there will be really only one Theosophical Society in the world.” [13]

Dr. G.S. Arundale, former President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), said in his address at the Diamond Jubilee Convention held at Adyar from 25 December to 5 January, 1936:

“I hope the day is not far distant when those movements which have become detached from the parent stem will once again become part of our Theosophical Society, indivisible in its all-inclusive Brotherhood, but diverse as to the many modes of understanding and interpretation of Theosophy.”

The United Lodge of Theosophists have made a declaration in favor of unity among all Theosophists which is to be found in Robert Crosbie’s work “The Friendly Philosopher”:

“The unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever and however situated, is SIMILARITY OF AIM, PURPOSE AND TEACHING. The acceptance of this principle by all Theosophists would at once remove all barriers ... THE WAY TO UNITE IS TO UNITE - NOTHING PREVENTS IF THAT IS THE DESIRE.” [14]

*  *  *

We have stated the facts. They cannot be ignored. The Proposition is now laid down that the bad inter-relations of the Theosophical Movement of today, evidenced by [132]

a. Uncommunicativeness between the groups, promoting bitterness and disharmony
b. Harsh and bitter criticism of each other
c Lack of support for each others’ activities, and
d. Lack of attendance at each others’ Lodge and public meetings

constitute a serious problem which impedes the Movement’s progress. This problem must be solved, for it is an evil which leads away from the common goal of each of the groups - the establishment of a nucleus of Brotherhood.

It is strongly believed that the White Lodge, which sponsored the Theosophical Society in 1875, would now like to see a complete rapprochement between all Theosophists, resulting in a return to the Theosophical unity enjoyed in H.P. Blavatsky’s day and which she begged us to preserve. They, it is believed, would have us now return to harmony, reintegration, communicativeness, mutual helpfulness, and they would have us proclaim anew, as a holy call, the Evangel of Brotherhood, that healing, cohesive substance which is the very heart of the Theosophical Movement itself.

Today the call for a return to unity enjoyed by all in H.P.B.’s time is being increasingly heard. What then holds us back? What is this inertia which binds us to what is old and unwanted? Is it fear of the unknown, or resistance to change or to new ideas? If so, then there is real danger of disintegration in the Movement.

We are told by psychologists that these negative characteristics cause many of our maladjustments because nature is a process, a constant change. If we resist this process, obviously our maladjustment [133] increases as the days go by. This fact was recognized in antiquity, for in his Dialogue de Oratoribus, Sec. 18, Tacitus the Roman historian says:

“The fault lies in the carping spirit of mankind, that we are always praising what is old and scorning what is new.”

One of the greatest pains to a human being is caused by a new idea. Men resist new ideas and cling to the old like a drowning man to a straw because they think their security is being challenged. “But,” said Carlyle, “today is not yesterday. We ourselves change. How then, can our works and thoughts, if they are always to be the fittest, continue always the same? Change, indeed, is painful, yet ever needful.”

In a talk at the National Press Club in the Spring of 1954, Harvard University’s President Nathan Pusey said:

“A scholar ... has an obligation to investigate and report new ideas in his field, even when his conclusions may be unpopular among the general public.”

In The People in Your Life, Margaret Mead says:

“Any society that is working at improving inter-racial relations and inter-religious and inter-group relations is dependent for its progress on individuals who object to the current position.” [15]

The advocates of Reunification object to the present situation because it moves contrary to the main current of human brotherhood. Additionally, the Masters did not create the Theosophical Society to be broken up into many little unfriendly, uncommunicative pieces. If division of the Theosophical Society were desirable and carried out in its entirety, the eventual result would be a regression into some form of Solipsism.

Dr. J.B. Rhine of Duke University, North Carolina, wrote: [134]

“It is a noteworthy fact that the great religious advances have come as heresies, reformations, or schisms under the stress of great need and of glaring inadequacy in the existing situation.” [16]

The Advocates of Reunification consider that the contrast between the Original Program of the Theosophical Society and the present disunity in the Movement can be characterized as a “glaring inadequacy” which calls for urgent corrective action.

*  *  *

History records the names of many whose ideas, ahead of their time, were at first ridiculed but later vindicated. H.P.B. is a case in point. Galileo, and his assertion that Jupiter had moons, was another. Even when he built a telescope through which these moons were visible, he could get no respectable savant of that time to look through it. From Florence, Italy, he wrote to Kepler in Germany:

“What would you say of the learned here, who, replete with the pertinacity of the asp, have steadfastly refused to cast a glance through the telescope? What shall we make of all this? Shall we laugh or shall we cry?”

But they still refused to put their eye to his lens because the ‘Holy Writ’ of that day had no place for his assertions. Nikolas Krebs of 15th Century Europe, and later Copernicus, aroused vast antagonism on the part of the ‘authorities’ of their day.

Turning to more modern illustrations, we find the cases of those who, late in the last century, were thought by their contemporaries to be quite erratic, almost mad, because they dared to dream of flying in the skies. One of the earliest of these, a Frenchman named Louis Mouillard, after seeing some eagles fly, [135] made some wooden wings and climbed a mountain in Egypt to try them out. Those who saw him dubbed him “AI Magnoun el Fransaoui,” Arabic for “The French Fool.”

In 1907 the British Admiralty was offered the patents of Orville Wright, aeronautical inventor. The First Lord’s reply:

“I regret to have to tell you after careful consideration of my Board that the Admiralty, while thanking you for so kindly bringing the proposals to their notice, are of opinion that they would not be of any practical value to the Naval Service.”

And a well known American general, some forty years ago said:

“I see no reason why the range of a military aeroplane should ever exceed three days’ march by the infantry.”

The scientific world did not accept Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood for a whole generation. The use of antiseptics in surgery, put forward by Lister, was at first opposed by the medical world. The psychological discoveries of Sigmund Freud had difficulty gaining acceptance. Charles F. Kettering, highly successful inventor and businessman, in a book called How to Train Workers for War Industries, said:

“As I look back over the years, it is pretty much of a definite law that man is so constituted as to see what is wrong with a new thing, not what is right. I think that a critical view of history would indicate that man has tended to persecute the man with the new idea and then - if the idea was good - honor him.”

This same writer added that in the course of his career he had submitted a good many ideas to committees composed of average men, and that “their [136] reaction is to see the wrongness, to obliterate ninety per cent of rightness which the average eye cannot see for the sake of ten per cent wrongness which the conventional eye always sees.”

Pioneers in any line of thought, even if constructive, are usually looked upon with displeasure, for they threaten existing modes of behaviour. But ideas which have the merit of truth in them eventually prevail. A reunited Theosophical Movement, we hold, has in its favor the validity of Theosophical principles themselves. It needs no learned argument - its merit is intrinsic, self-evident.

One or two members whose support has been sought for the Project embraced in this book have declared in a half uncertain voice that they did not think they could go along with the idea. But on asking the reason for their lack of interest they were unable to give any reply. This brings to mind the words of Dr. Coyne Campbell. Addressing the Central States Speech Association in Oklahoma City in 1941, he stated that of all the patients brought to him who were judged seriously maladjusted, there was one symptom common to them all: None of them were able to tell him clearly what their trouble was. It is found that in such cases it helps a great deal to make a written statement of the situation. It seems appropriate to add at this time, however, that most of those to whom the reunification project has been presented have reacted favorably to it.

But some members on hearing of the idea have stated that there is no need to change the status quo, as any attempt to do so would make more enemies than friends, and anyway there is a kind of unity already existing. As to the former, Jesus did not think [137] of the enemies he would make when he drove the money changers out of the temple; and Krishna berated Arjuna for his despondency before the battle:

“A soldier of the Kshatriya tribe hath no duty superior to lawful war, and just to thy wish the door to heaven is found open before thee through this glorious unsought fight, which only Fortune’s favored soldiers may obtain.”
- Bhagavad-Gita

Science records its greatest periods of progress when individuals have held up old time-tested assumptions for examination and possible discard. An outstanding case of the latter is the instance of a Polish mathematician, Lobachevski, who decided to drop the Euclidean postulate that parallel lines never meet, and he and others formulated a new geometry based on this new stand. There are now a number of these non-Euclidean geometrists (Ganss, Rieman, Nils Bohr, Heisenberg and Lillian Lieber are some). Euclid also assumed that the three angles of a triangle always made two right angles. He could not prove this, as it was based on another unprovable proposition. So he set it up as an axiom, though it was not self-evident, but was needed in his other formulations. The non-Euclidean geometrists also dropped this postulate and assumed that the three angles of a triangle added up to more or less than two right angles. It was this revision of the Euclidean formulations which led Einstein to his theory of Relativity. And this theory of Relativity led to the reduction of the Atom, which in turn ushered in The Atomic Age with its enormously increased possibilities for growth.

The important point to bear in mind here is that once the human mind was released from the bondage of an established pattern, a tremendous growth in [138] knowledge took place. So today, may it not be possible, too, that the Theosophists, if they release themselves from the present tensions of conflicting interests and bad inter-relations, may open up an era of vastly increased membership and progress? Why not discard the assumption that the Theosophists of Group “A” are unable to reunite with Group “B” because of a schism that took place sixty-odd years ago? Why not assume instead that the individual Theosophists in both groups would happily welcome this re-association with their brothers in the same Movement? Are we not alive to the hindrance to our progress which a continuance of the status quo imposes on us?

There is no occasion to be fearful because of the novelty of the idea. There has been a definite trend in the past few years towards lessening the gap between the Theosophical groups, and this has been attained largely through a demand for ‘straight Theosophy’ as it is called. If a stranger to Theosophy were to visit some of the Lodges of the different Theosophical Societies, he would find great similarity today, equivalent almost to sameness, as brought out in our first chapter. When told that each group he visited belonged to different organizations he could hardly be blamed if he expressed surprise. It reminds one of a story told about Emerson. He had invited all the ministers of differing denominations in Boston to hear his lecture on the Vedas. After the lecture each one of them came up to him in turn and said: “I am so glad to know, Mr. Emerson, that you are one of us and believe as we do!”

The sponsors of this Project are aware of the views of some, referred to before, that there is no harm in having a number of Theosophical Societies. The [139] argument is that the members of different groups have loyalties which cannot be submerged, and these loyalties stand in the way of a fusion. But can we not expect Theosophists to show greater loyalty to a nobler objective than to a lesser one? - to the Original Program of the T.S. rather than to personalities? Can we not reasonably expect of them that they will discard the lesser in order to attain the greater, if the two conflict? Is it not a reasonable expectation that they will, if given the opportunity, be loyal to H.P.B.’s plea for unity, to the Master’s desire for unity? One wonders if this point of view does not stem from a desire to justify the situation as it is today rather than carry on what appears to them to be a hopeless struggle against it. However, with a feeling of charity towards those who honestly hold to this view, I must present my earnest conviction here that I think this viewpoint is decidedly wrong.

It has been remarked that in H.P.B.’s day unity was comparatively easy to maintain because she was the center of gravity in the Theosophical Society. What was Theosophy in 1880? It was the sum total of H.P.B.’s writings. The same was true in 1890. But the original and fundamental object of the Theosophical Society was, and is, to form a Universal Brotherhood. With the passage of time, however, the wealth of H.P.B.’s teachings furnished us with a philosophy which can be called Theosophy. But membership in the Society does not depend on our believing a single one of its teachings. Universal Brotherhood is the only commitment. And yet the promulgation of Theosophical teaching has become a very principal object to many of the members of the Theosophical Societies. Rightly enough, they want to spread Theosophy abroad. [140] But we are not committed to do this when we become members. It is the emphasis which is wrong today. To make this clearer it might be advisable to separate these two activities and place them onto two levels, viz:

a. Form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood - MAIN OBJECT
b. Promulgate Theosophy - not essential for membership, though a highly desirable activity, as it provides a comprehensive base for Brotherhood.

It is on the second of these levels where we run into many of our difficulties, as each group classifies, codifies, and enlarges upon the basic teachings and, alas, makes statements that this set of teachings is canonical and that set put out by a different Theosophical group, is not, thereby getting the new member, who is committed only to Universal Brotherhood, involved in something which he had not bargained for.

It is the Theosophists with their Theosophy who cause the difficulties in the Movement - not the Buddhists, the Christians, the Hindus, the Mohammedans and representatives of other faiths - because they seem to fear that they will be driven apart by other Theosophists with their Theosophy. But these fears and quarrels take place on the outer perimeter. Basically only Brotherhood is essential in any true Theosophical Society. All argument as to what Theosophy is and what it is not, is on the fringe of things. It is not germane. In The Mahatma Letters we are warned that the Theosophists are slowly manufacturing a creed. This has been going on for some time. Ideological fences have been created in the Movement: those inside are the pure, the redeemed, the blessed; those outside are the impure, the Theosophical vagabonds, [141] unreliable, unredeemed. And as they peer over each others’ fences, fears and dislikes are inevitable. Those on the outside looking in, or vice versa, are going to look upon the other group eventually as an enemy, to be despised, feared, disliked. In this climate tolerance, kindliness, communicativeness, and brotherhood cannot grow.

So again to keep clear of the dust of our own raising, we ask, What, then, is important? And the answer cannot be denied. It is this: THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY MUST STAND BY ITS OBJECTS. And these Objects do not require us to teach “pure” Theosophy, or “H.P.B.” Theosophy, or to condemn any other kind of Theosophy. The Objects are broad enough, catholic enough, to appeal to professors of all faiths. And by the same token they should be broad enough to appeal to all Theosophists. They did in 1875. Why cannot they do so now?

We can well leave that as a question and proceed to note that it is accepted as a basic psychological principle that our responses are determined by that to which we attend. If we continue to watch a yawning man we will begin yawning ourselves. If we make a hero out of some person, we tend to adopt some of his characteristics. By attending to that which we find blameworthy in other Theosophical groups, we are apt to develop similar qualities in ourselves. We may not readily recognize this growing quality in ourselves as stemming from its real source, because we do not care to be associated with that which we condemn in others; but if we are honest we shall eventually face it as something that cannot be denied.

Why cannot all Theosophists come into one Theosophical Society in the same way that the various other [142] faiths do? If people of such divergent beliefs as Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, and Mohammedans, can come into one Theosophical group and not fear that they will suffer thereby, what keeps the Theosophists themselves from doing likewise?

*  *  *

It has also been suggested that merging all Theosophical Societies is like merging all Universities. But this statement is erroneous; there is no parallel. Universities teach the discoveries and methods of others. Thus we study psychology as formulated by Freud, Adler, Steckel; philosophy contained in the teachings of Plato, Bergson, Kant, Spinoza, Descartes, Hume and Russell. New discoveries in science or philosophy may replace the old, rendering it useless, and the student is always urged to make new discoveries himself.

Theosophy, on the other hand, conveys to the world the existing divine teachings of the Masters, which teachings derive from a higher source. Professors in Universities give lectures which are based on various and sometimes contradictory sources. Thus the Behaviorists disagree with the Hereditarians and the theories of Freud are not in agreement with the theories advanced by others. Often the professor, after a lecture in which he gives all the known theories on the subject, will conclude that he is not in accord with any of the theories advanced. He thereupon presents his own, formulated as a result of his own tests.

In Theosophy, however, we have a different situation, inasmuch as it is claimed that all great teachers: Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, Moses, etc., belong to the same school, the White Lodge. Theosophy claims that [143] the Lodge selected H.P.B. to help form a Society through which they gave transcendental teachings, and these teachings are uniform, undeviating and unchanging. It is not possible to believe, therefore, that

a. The Masters will give out different and varying teachings, or that
b. They will give their teachings to societies which are antagonistic to each other and yet bearing the same name - Theosophical.

Universities do not claim to possess all the wisdom and all the truth, and on the contrary they claim that they do not know which school and which professor is right or wrong. Universities investigate, test, experiment and try to discover which is right and which is wrong, but they do not claim to be absolutely sure or to possess the truth exclusively. Theosophists, however, claim that they can not err provided they cleave to the teachings which have been given them by the Masters of Wisdom. It is just as unthinkable to pretend that such Masters are going to communicate the same teachings through various different Societies bearing the same name and to sponsor disunities and divisions among them, as it is to believe that Jesus sponsored various and differing denominations with antipathies towards each other, through which to convey His teachings.

No; a parallel between the Universities and the Theosophical Societies does not exist unless it is stated as a major premise that the Theosophists are like students in Universities, trying to find the truth, but without any reliable source towards which to turn, with the exception of the researches and writings of [144] previous students. If we posit this as a premise, we remove the distinctive source of the teachings, in just the same way as we would if we postulated that Jesus did not receive his teachings from God, and Moses did not obtain his religious doctrines from a divine source, and that both were expressing merely philosophies of their own. If we postulate that the teachings and philosophies expressed by Jesus and Moses were of their own inventions, and if we know that Moses and Jesus were both human beings, then since all humans are subject to error it follows that their teachings too may be erroneous.

It is believed that no Theosophist will care to establish such a premise, which would remove the very core, the very basis, for supporting the Theosophical Society.

The Theosophical Society, then, claims to convey to the world not primarily the results of researches by its students, but the teachings of the Masters, those who have sublime wisdom, those who help to govern and guide humanity in its evolution. In making this claim people will follow the Theosophical Society because it is energized by something divine, by something beyond normal human imperfections. If this basic assumption did not underlie the Theosophical Movement the whole would collapse, as it would then not differ from other research movements. Instead of going to the Theosophical Society we would then all go to the Universities for knowledge, try to get what knowledge they can give, test it, compare it, and reach some possible conclusions. When we go to church it is because there we expect to find something revealed by a Divinity, and what is offered in the case of any church is bottomed by Revelation. In the case of the Theosophical Society we receive something which is transmitted to us by the Masters.

Some have expressed pessimism over the possibility of tidying the Movement up so that it will be a fit instrument for its originators to use again. But to what degree is this pessimism self-induced? It brings to mind George Berkeley’s remarks in his Introduction to Of Human Knowledge: “We have first raised a dust, and then complain we cannot see.” If we will avoid raising the dust of intolerance and self-righteousness we will see our problems clear up. The alternative is a bleak thought, and has been mentioned as a possibility by several thoughtful writers - that the Masters would abandon all Theosophical Societies and sponsor a new group, the old being unworthy of support because lacking the foundation of success: Brotherhood.

The thought is basic to this writing that the situation is by no means hopeless and that there is reason to believe that all Theosophists will transcend past differences and recreate the Unity necessary for the flow of teachings from the Masters which existed during H.P.B.’s time. It is recognized that the undertaking is in effect plowing into a difficult soil, but there is comfort in the kind of spirit shown by Napoleon when he said “impossible is not French.” The pessimism of the prophets of Theosophical disaster need not claim our attention if the message of this writing is heeded.


[1] The American Theosophist, April 1953, pp.72-3
[2] The Original Programme of The Theosophical Society by H.P. Blavatsky, 1886, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1931, p.66
[3] T.H. Redfern, in Peace Lodge Papers, No.21, p.4
[4] Eirenicon, March-April 1947, p.1
[5] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, p.112
[6]  Ibid, p.1l5
[7] Ibid, p.301
[8] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, p.296
[9] See “European Conference of the Theosophical Society, Aug. 22, 23, 1953, Molle, Sweden,” published by The Theosophical Society, Pasadena 15, Calif., U.S.A.
[10] See The Leader’s Tour in Europe, April-June 1951, Part Three, Germany, published by The Theosophical Society, Pasadena 15, Calif., U.S.A.
[11] From the General Report of the International Convention of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) held 24-27 December 1932 at Adyar, Madras, India, p.9
[12] The Theosophist, Vol. I, No.7, July 1930, pp.575-578
[13] Peace Lodge Papers, No.21, p.1
[14] The Friendly Philosopher by Robert Crosbie, 2nd Ed. 1945, pp.410-11, The Theosophy Co., Los Angeles
[15] The People in Your Life, Margaret Mead, Ch.V, p.142, Albert A. Knopf, New York, 1951
[16] The New World of the Mind by Dr. J.B. Rhine, p.221, Wm. Sloane Associates, New York City


“Work for Theosophy, and try to find the points of union and contact with each other, my Brothers, and the difficulties will vanish away because seen to be what they are - affairs of relatively small importance.”
G. de Purucker, Messages to Conventions, p.230

WHAT is the cornerstone on which Theosophy rests? If each member of the different Theosophical Societies were to answer that question after careful thought would they not be compelled to reply: Universal Brotherhood? This is the leitmotif of the Theosophical Society founded by H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott, and is the main object of the Society. It is also the main objective of the Theosophical Societies which have sprung from the parent society. This is the vital, compelling doctrine which overshadows all the others, without which all other doctrines would be on uncertain ground. It is the fount from which flows all spiritual teaching. Without it the other doctrines would fall, for they need this to support them.

Universal Brotherhood, our central theme, might be likened to the apex of the pyramid of Theosophical teachings, the four solid bases upon which the apex rests, being the well-known Theosophical teachings of:

Man’s Divine Origin
Karma [148]

The reader is assured that this “pyramid of Theosophical teachings” is not in any sense offered as a new dogma. The number of teachings which are similar as between the different Theosophical organizations can be made greater or smaller than these just mentioned, and the results will be the same, viz: that there is great similarity of teaching between the different Theosophical Societies. But the teachings appearing in this discussion have been chosen from among many because:

a. It is believed they are of greater fundamental importance in the philosophy than are some of the other teachings;
b. They tend more readily to support the main commitment than do some of the other teachings; and
c. They are among the most familiar and most often discussed teachings.

It is recognized, too, that Universal Brotherhood is not entirely a teaching, since it is likewise a commitment which all Theosophists embrace. But in its broad implications it can as well be labelled a teaching as a commitment, and for the purpose of the discussion it has been placed in that category.

If the various Theosophical Societies are in agreement as to the leitmotif, it may be said that a basis for unity among them exists now. If on further examination it is found that these same Theosophical Societies teach the four doctrines above mentioned, then there is a still broader basis for unity; and this is true even if in some of the details there is not complete agreement, for we must always keep in mind that we have no dogmas which must be believed in order to gain admittance [148] to our brotherhood. H.P.B., ever anxious to keep the basis for membership in the T.S. as broad as possible, frequently stated that the main purpose behind the formation of the T.S. was the establishment of a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. “It is well known,” she wrote in Lucifer, issue of November 1887, “that the first rule of The Society is to carry out the object of forming the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood.”


The Theosophical Society (Adyar) has as its first Object: “To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.” To show the importance which its officials attach to this object, it is recalled that at the Theosophical World Congress in Chicago, Illinois, August 25-31, 1929, Annie Besant, second President of the Society, offered a Resolution that there should be only one Object, to promote Brotherhood. The Congress decided to request the General Council to take a postal vote on the matter. This was done, but a large majority voted to retain the objects as they were. [1]

This same idea of making acceptance of the principle of Universal Brotherhood the sole test for membership in the Theosophical Society (Adyar), was an idea which, nevertheless, persisted. It was again brought up by Dr. G.S. Arundale, who succeeded Annie Besant as President. He wrote:

“Sometimes I think ... that I would make acceptance of the First Object of The Theosophical Society the sole and acid test for membership. What matters more than Brotherhood, what matters but Brotherhood? And many there may be who feel no urge to make a comparative study of religion, philosophy [150] and science, nor to venture forth into the unknown. These too, have I said to myself, must find place in our Society ...
“Still, why ask for sympathy for these special features, when our supreme preoccupation should be Brotherhood, and nothing more? All these sympathies will be added once Brotherhood is there.” [2]

The third Object of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) is “to form an active Brotherhood among men.” Its former head, G. de Purucker, spoke strongly in favor of this pivotal objective when he said:

“We are by natural law, and therefore we should be in our acts and in our thoughts, brothers: brothers in thought, brothers in conduct, brothers in act, brothers in work; and all the teachings of the Masters and of their Messenger H.P.B. lead directly to that one objective, a practical Universal Brotherhood.” [3]

And the same author expands the idea:

“The Theosophical Society was founded by the Masters of Wisdom for one purpose mainly ... the purpose was to give to mankind a religio-philosophical and scientific explanation of life’s riddles, based on the natural fact of Universal Brotherhood, which would bring about a moral and spiritual revolution in the world.” [4]

Annie Besant echoed this basic belief in brotherhood when she stated:

“The recognition of this brotherhood intellectually, and the endeavor to live it practically, are so stimulative of the higher nature of men, that it was made the one obligatory object of the T.S., the single ‘article of belief’ that all who would enter its fellowship must accept. To live it, even to a small extent, cleanses the heart and purifies the vision; to live it perfectly would be to eradicate all stain of separateness, and to let the pure shining of the Self irradiate us, as a light through flawless glass.” [5]

The United Lodge of Theosophists has published a leaflet entitled Theosophy Simply Stated which declares: [151]

“Behind all perceiving and knowing and experiencing is the One undivided Self. The power in us to perceive, to know, to experience - apart from anything that is seen, known or experienced - is the One Self, the one Consciousness, shared by all alike, the Power of every being. Herein lies the true basis of Brotherhood - the unifying bond for all above man and for all below man.”

These remarks are to be found under the heading “First Fundamental Idea.” Thus the U.L.T. accords it the place of importance which both the Adyar and Point Loma Societies have given it.

Other Theosophical writers of note have expressed themselves similarly on this topic. C.J. Ryan of the Theosophical University, Point Loma, wrote:

“Theosophy does not teach that Brotherhood depends upon external conditions - social, political or even intellectual. Its root lies in the order of Nature, in the organic unity of the human race, physically, and above all, spiritually. Universal Brotherhood is not something to be constructed; mankind is really a great family, and it is only our blindness that prevents us from recognizing this and acting accordingly. Mankind is an organism; men are its constituent cells, and what injures one hurts all ...
“The Brotherhood of Man, therefore, is not a sentimental theory, framed to ameliorate stern realities; it is a fact in Nature, and Nature will ultimately compel us to accept it, even if it takes ages of suffering to bring about.” [6]

The above ideas are likewise well expressed by C.W. Leadbeater in his widely read Text Book of Theosophy. Were his name not shown as the author, one would imagine that the writing was merely a continuation of the paragraphs immediately preceding by various other Theosophical writers.

“Since he (a Theosophist) knows that we are all part of one great evolution and all literally the children of one father, he sees that the Universal Brotherhood of humanity is no mere conception, but a definite fact; not a dream of something which is to be in the dim distance of Utopia, but a condition existing here and now. [152]
“... Cognizant as he is of the absolute spiritual unity of humanity, he knows that, even in this lower world, no true profit can be made by one man which is not made in the name of and for the sake of humanity; that one man’s progress must be a lifting of the burden of all others; that one man’s advance in spiritual things means a very slight yet not imperceptible advance to humanity as a whole; that everyone who bears suffering and sorrow nobly in his struggle toward the light is lifting a little of the heavy load of the sorrow and suffering of his brothers as well.” [7]

This is essentially the same teaching propounded by H.P.B.:

“All men have spiritually and physically the same origin, which is the fundamental teaching of Theosophy. As mankind is essentially of one and the same essence, and that essence is one - infinite, uncreate, and eternal, whether we call it God or Nature - nothing, therefore, can affect one nation or one man without affecting all other nations and all other men.” [8]

Mr. C. Jinarajadasa, former President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), gave a talk to the headquarters staff on his work in Europe upon his return therefrom on December 9, 1948. “Again and again,” he said in conclusion,

“in the letters of the Masters emphasis is laid upon the fact that the work of the Society is to inculcate and emphasize in every way the fundamental basis of human Brotherhood ... The Theosophical Society stands still unique in asserting that its primary aim is to make a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood.”

The fact that the Theosophical Societies comprise people of many different religions, with many and divergent viewpoints, compels its members to exercise a wide degree of tolerance and forbearance for the opinions of other members. Each is requested to show the same respect towards the beliefs of others which he expects others to show towards his own. This tolerance is to be expected in a Society where Brotherhood is officially set forth as a main Object. And yet [153] it was found necessary to make a written statement of this policy some years ago. Annie Besant, then President, formulated this policy for her Society, and since no one objected to it, she stated that it represented the general view:

“No person’s religious opinions are asked upon his joining, nor is interference with them permitted, but everyone is required to show to the religion of his fellow-members the same respect as he claims for his own.
“The Society has no dogmas, and therefore no heretics. It does not shut any man out because he does not believe the Theosophical teachings. A man may deny everyone of them, save that of human Brotherhood, and claim his place and his right within its ranks.” [9]

Bespeaking the importance which she attached to the principle of Universal Brotherhood, Katherine Tingley, when reorganizing the American Section of The Theosophical Society on February 18, 1898, renamed it The Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society; and in her official public statement of the policy of the Society affirmed that “acceptance of the principle of Universal Brotherhood is the only prerequisite to fellowship.”

To demonstrate that Brotherhood is a cardinal feature in the Theosophical program, James S. Perkins, National President of The Theosophical Society in America, wrote recently to a new member:

“In associating yourself with us you join a world-wide group of friendly students whose purpose is not alone to study but to shed light upon the practice of brotherhood. This effort has an especial importance in our time when brotherhood is recognized as a vital issue and the failure to practice it threatens the orderly processes of civilization.”

In a talk given at the Summer School for Theosophists at Wheaton, Illinois, in 1949, the same writer suggested: [154]

“Brotherhood may be thought of as differences made whole. … When all the differences, the uniquenesses, have been completely unfolded, as they are being unfolded in evolution, and when they are added together, the wholeness of Brotherhood, the perfect Brotherhood of Life, will be attained. I like that idea because it suggests that there is no such thing as inferiority and superiority. There are differences, and these differences are destined to be added together in an ultimate wholeness of life.
“... Thus, The Theosophical Society is establishing Brotherhood in the world in a very real way. To be a part of that effort fulfills the deepest yearning of many members of the Society throughout the world to be of real help to mankind. How wonderful it is that we should discover the opportunity that is ours to engage in this activity! But the deeper we go into it, the more aware we will become of the twofold task involved, the ever-present demand for self-conquest, and for action to alleviate the suffering of the world.” [10]

In A Theosophist Looks at the World, Mr. Sri Ram, President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), says that the implementation of the ideals which the Society stands for is left to the individual. “Even our Brotherhood,” he adds, “the one truth of practical action and ethics which is our bed-rock, is left to be practised by each member according to his lights.”

In his Annual Presidential Address of 1954 at the International Convention of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), he likewise declared:

“I ask you to join with me in sending from here a greeting to every Theosophist, wherever he may be on the face of this globe, and every group of Theosophists, whether Lodge or Section. Is it not true that Love conquereth all, whether within us or without us? To a heart radiant with goodwill and brotherly feeling, space is as nothing; the differences of latitude and longitude, of dress, language and customs are also as nothing. Our First Object being to form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, for which we are the constituent material, though perhaps only partially galvanized, let us begin this Convention in a state of goodwill that reaches far and wide, willing to regard anyone anywhere as a Brother, a sharer in the universal life ...” [155]

And in agreement with other Theosophical authorities on the subject, he states:

“The Society’s mission has been, as we can now clearly perceive, to press the idea of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, so necessary for the organization of the ‘one world’ of today, and place before the world certain root-ideas of the Wisdom called Theosophy, in order to facilitate the transformation which was to take place in the world of thought, and following it, in the world of human conduct ... This is still the Society’s mission.” [11]

Annie Besant expresses the subject under discussion so beautifully that her words are used to close the formal presentation of ideas on Brotherhood, by representatives of the different Theosophical Societies.

“Never let it be forgotten that this Brotherhood is, whether men ignore it or deny it. Man’s ignorance does not change the laws of Nature, nor vary by one hair’s breadth her changeless, irresistible march. Her laws crush those who oppose them and break into pieces everything which is not in harmony with them ... Therefore can no nation endure that outrages Brotherhood, no civilization can last that is built on its antithesis. We have not to make Brotherhood; it exists. We have to attune our lives into harmony with it, if we desire that we and our work shall not perish.” [12]

Because the members of all Theosophical Societies claim H.P.B. as their spiritual parent, it is well to compare her teachings on Brotherhood with the writings of all her followers which have just been quoted. The essence of her words is clear:

a. The most important single object of the Society is to establish a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood;
b. All men are of the same origin, and this provides the basis for the Brotherhood of man;
c. Elevation of the human race can only be attained by practicing human solidarity;
d. Every Theosophist is bound to teach and live this principle. [156]

As we study with care the words of all the other Theosophical exponents presented in this chapter we cannot fail to be impressed by their spiritual and intellectual accord with H.P.B.’s expressions. They all agree that acceptance of a belief in Universal Brotherhood, with all its implications of identical spiritual parentage, is the cornerstone of all Theosophical teaching because based on the very order and behavior of nature itself. They are in accord in recognizing the importance of living this brotherhood, not merely preaching it, and that to press for a recognition of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity is the pledged mission of all true Theosophists - an objective and ideal still unique among societies and individuals of the world today.

Thus, we see, there is unanimity of viewpoint among the Theosophists of different affiliations on this subject of primary importance. Does not this fundamental accord represent a strong and appealing basis for reunification?

The importance which the Theosophist attaches to this idea is not without precedent in religious history; and, believing that it will be stimulating, the discussion of this subject is concluded with a story about a Hebrew Rabbi, famed in his day, Reb Hillel, who lived in Massora, Mesopotamia, about 1100 A.D. An insolent gentile once came to him and declared himself ready to be converted to Judaism on condition that Reb Hillel teach him the entire Torah in the short space that he could bear to stand upon one leg. The great Rabbi, far from driving the scoffer from his sight, accepted the bargain, saying:

“Do not inflict on others what you would not undergo yourself; this is the whole Torah - all else is commentary.” [157]


We turn now to the teaching of the Divine Origin of Man, and offer, as before, the words of H.P.B.

“From the remotest antiquity mankind as a whole have always been convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the personal physical man. This entity was more or less divine, according to its proximity to the crown. The closer the union the more serene man’s destiny, the less dangerous the external conditions.” [13]

Answering an inquirer’s question as to how Theosophy can eradicate the perversity of doctrines which make Universal Brotherhood a Utopia at present, H.P.B. says it is possible for Theosophy to do so:

“By demonstrating on logical, philosophical, metaphysical, and even scientific grounds that: - (a) all men have spiritually the same origin, which is the fundamental teaching of Theosophy. (b) As mankind is essentially of one and the same essence, and that essence is one - infinite, uncreate, and eternal, whether we call it God or Nature - nothing, therefore, can affect one nation or one man without affecting all other nations and all other men. This is as certain and as obvious as that a stone thrown into a pond will, sooner or later, set in motion every single drop of water therein.” [14]

The writings of other Theosophical authorities are now compared with these statements. Writes G. de Purucker:

“Everyone of you, my Brothers, is a divinity encased in vehicles, in sheaths, of an enshrouding lower selfhood; and all the work of growth, all the work of evolution, is the thinning out of these sheaths, is the dissolving of the gross physical aspects of them, and the raising of them to become ethereal, translucent to the rays of the inner god-sun, the god within.” [15]

C. Jinarajadasa makes frequent reference to man’s inherent divinity:

“Because man is Divine, the Wisdom is his heritage. Nay, not Wisdom alone, but Power also - power to dare, to suffer, and to conquer.” [16] [158]

Discussing the Deity in one of his smaller works, C.W. Leadbeater says:

“That He is within us as well as without us, or, in other words, that man himself is in essence divine, is another great truth which, though those who are blind to all but the outer and lower world may still argue about it, is an absolute certainty to the student of the higher side of life. Of the constitution of man’s soul and its various vehicles we shall speak under the heading of the second of the truths; suffice it for the moment to note that the inherent divinity is a fact, and that in it resides the assurance of the ultimate return of every human being to the divine level.” [17]

We find Robert Crosbie, founder of the U.L.T., voicing much the same teaching:

“We all proceeded from the same one Source - not many - and are proceeding on the same path to the same great goal. The ancients said that the Divine Self is in all beings, but in all it does not shine forth. The real is within, and may be realized by any human being in himself. Everyone needs that realization that he may shine forth and express the God within, which all beings but partially express.” [18]

Mr. N. Sri Ram, President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), says:

“Man is a fragment of the Divine Nature, fallen from the high estate of a unitary, dimensionless, unlimited consciousness, into limitations of matter, in which he starts as a spiritual seed that grows and grows until it is eventually a universal tree, that is, a tree of consciousness which pervades every part and particle of the universe; thus lifts himself up to the source from which he came.” [19]

Theosophists are wont to refer to the Bible as an esoteric work, full of truth, though requiring interpretation. H.P.B. holds the Bible in great respect though she admonishes us against a too literal interpretation of parts of it. In Lucifer, issue of November 1887, she writes:

“... the Christian Canon, especially the Gospels, Acts and Epistles, are made up of fragments of gnostic wisdom, the [159] groundwork of which is pre-Christian and built on the MYSTERIES of Initiation ... The more one studies ancient religious texts, the more one finds that the ground-work of the New Testament is the same as the ground-work of the Vedas, of the Egyptian theogony, and the Mazdean allegories.”

She adds that the primitive writers of the Gospels certainly knew the truth, but that later successors had lost their real meaning. Because of this high esteem a few passages bearing on the subject are presented:

“And He (God) said: ‘Let us make man to our image and likeness, and let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth.’
“And God created man to his own image; to the image of God he created him.” [20]
“For God created man incorruptible, and to the image of his own likeness he made him.” [21]

In a chapter on “Sacramental Mysticism,” C. Jinarajadasa writes:

“Now, man from the beginning is an expression of Divinity; man’s aim in existence is to know himself as God. This realization is given in some types of mysticism through love or contemplation or ecstasy; sacramental mysticism achieves the same result through a ritual.” [22]

Here again is the teaching of the Divinity of man, the basis of all speculation about man and the purpose of his life here. Without this concept it would be difficult to construct a spiritual philosophy, and it is the lack of this doctrine which produces materialistic thinking. From this teaching flows much of the inspiration and hope which characterize the Theosophist’s outlook on life.

So again in noting the teachings of the three main Theosophical Societies, as expressed through leading exponents, we are struck by a closeness of agreement amounting almost to identity. [160]


All Theosophists agree that man is constantly evolving, that all progress is attained through this process of evolution. The broad principle is accepted by all, even though some differences in the details may be found. It is felt, however, that too many are apt to point to these differences as sufficient cause for disunity. The answer to this, as already emphasized, is the broad platform which the Founders of the Society erected. On it there is room for these differences, for a wide freedom of interpretation.

In defense of this freedom of belief G. de Purucker once said:

“In striving to retain the purity of the teachings of our God-Wisdom, let us never drop into the dogmatic attitude, which will spell the death of free conscience, free thought, free speech, sane and legitimate freedom of all kinds in the T.S.” [23]

An official statement on Freedom of Thought within The Theosophical Society appears on the cover page of each issue of The Theosophist, official international organ of the Society (Adyar). It reads:

“As the Theosophical Society has spread far and wide over the civilized world, and as members of all religions have become members of it without surrendering the special dogmas, teachings and beliefs of their respective faiths, it is thought desirable to emphasize the fact that there is no doctrine, no opinion, by whomsoever taught or held, that is any way binding on any member of the Society (Italics ours), none which any member is not free to accept or reject. Approval of its three Objects is the sole condition of membership. No teacher nor writer, from H.P. Blavatsky downwards, has any authority to impose his teachings or opinions on members. Every member has an equal right to attach himself to any teacher or to any school of thought which he may choose, but has no right to force his choice on any other. Neither a candidate for any [161] office, nor any voter, can be rendered ineligible to stand or to vote, because of any opinion he may hold, or because of membership in any school of thought to which he may belong. Opinions or beliefs neither bestow privileges nor inflict penalties. The members of the General Council earnestly request every member of The Theosophical Society to maintain, defend, and act upon these fundamental principles of the Society, and also fearlessly to exercise his own right of liberty of thought and of expression thereof, within the limits of courtesy and consideration for others.”

This statement is actually a Resolution passed by the General Council of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) on December 23, 1924.

This emphasis on freedom of thought is needed, for there are those who allege that the different Societies do not agree with each other on the details of this teaching of Evolution and also that some of these details in teaching are not in harmony with those taught by H.P. Blavatsky. But note that they refer only to the details of a main teaching, not to the teaching itself. It is doubtful if any two pupils of the same teacher would agree entirely on all details of a major teaching, such as Evolution.

Speaking of the antiquity of this doctrine, H.P.B. wrote:

“Before any of our modern teachers thought of evolution, the ancients taught us, through Hermes, that nothing can be abrupt in Nature; that she never proceeds by jumps and starts, that everything in her works is slow harmony, and that there is nothing sudden - not even violent death.” [24]

In regard to the possibilities for the individual, which this doctrine embraces, she wrote:

“Theosophy considers humanity as an emanation from divinity on its return path thereto. At an advanced point upon the Path, Adeptship is reached by those who have devoted several incarnations to its achievement.” [25] [162]

To avoid confusion in the use of terms, H.P.B. made a few explanations which she proposed to use in her work Isis Unveiled. About Evolution she wrote:

“EVOLUTION - The development of higher orders of animals from the lower ... In Evolution, as it is now beginning to be understood, there is supposed to be in all matter an impulse to take on a higher form - a supposition clearly expressed by Manu and other Hindu philosophers of the highest antiquity.” [26]

In his address to the Convention of The Theosophical Society in America (Adyar) in Chicago on June 25, 1949, President Jinarajadasa said:

“Now this process of evolution takes place in infinite time, that is to say, it is unceasing, it is unhurried, and each one has an infinity of time for the work of perfecting himself. This plan operates through races and race cultures, through long periods called rounds and chains, and all the time that plan is perfecting the evolution of man and of his world.” [27]

It is here pointed out that evolution involves self-perfection in due course of time, which is precisely what H.P.B. means when she states that Adeptship can be reached by means of Evolution.

G. de Purucker was a highly respected scholar, and many of his views have met with general approval, even by Theosophists of other affiliations; hence his works; are rather liberally used to point up the official ideas of the Point Loma T.S. The following are excerpts from his Man In Evolution:

“Evolution is not merely an automatic response to external stimuli, but it is first of all action from within, unceasing attempts in self-expression; and each response to the external stimuli, which the natural environment provides, gives opportunity for a larger and fuller measure of self-expression than before existed.” [28]

On the same subject C. Jinarajadasa states: [163]

“The evolution of life is not a receiving but a giving. For at the root of the life itself, as its very heart and soul, is something greater still, a Consciousness. From HIS fulness of Power, Love and Beauty, HE gave to the first speck of life all that HE is. As all the rays from the glorious panorama of a mountain range may be converged by a lens into one invisible geometrical point, so each germ of life is as a focal point of that illimitable Existence. Within each cell HE resides in HIS fulness; under HIS guidance, at the proper time, Shakespeare and Beethoven step forth, and we call the action Evolution.” [29]

The late H.T. Edge, a pupil of H.P.B., and long on the staff of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma), writes:

“So evolution is a process of self-realization or manifestation carried on by the Cosmic Life or Spirit or Intelligence; God unfolding and revealing himself, we might say in Theological language; and Nature the visible garb of Deity.” [30]

Because he has spoken so clearly on the subject, we quote now from C.W. Leadbeater:

“This brings us to that aspect of Theosophy which we have called religious. Those who come to know and understand these things are dissatisfied with the slow aeons of evolution; they yearn to become more immediately useful, and so they demand and obtain knowledge of the shorter but steeper Path. There is no possibility of escaping the amount of work that has to be done. It is like carrying a load up a mountain; whether one carries it straight up a steep path or more gradually by a road of gentle slope, precisely the same number of footpounds must be exerted. Therefore to do the same work in a small fraction of the time means determined effort. It can be done, however, for it has been done; and those who have done it agree that it far more than repays the trouble.” [31]

W.Q. Judge, regarded by many Theosophists, particularly those of U.L.T. and Point Loma affiliation, as a reliable authority on these matters, writes in his best known work: [164]

“What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood.” [32]

Robert Crosbie of the U.L.T. once wrote:

“We are the reincarnating egos who will continue to incarnate until the great task which we undertook is completed. That task is the raising up of the whole of humanity to the highest possible stage of perfection on an earth of this kind … We have to bring ourselves in touch and tune with the whole great purpose of Nature which is the evolution of the Soul, and for which alone all the universe exists.” [33]

Observations on the subject of Evolution by well known Theosophical authorities are now in the record. These authorities represent generally the viewpoint of the Founders and the three main Theosophical Societies. For the reader’s convenience some of the main points of agreement in these observations are enumerated below:

1. The principle of evolution is conceded by all;
2. Its purpose is the perfecting of man and all creatures through self-expression, self-becoming;
3. The evolutionary process is carried on by means of repeated incarnations and the law of cause and effect;
4. All matter contains consciousness, which is evolving;
5. Evolution is not mechanical, but the result of a Divine Plan, guided by intelligence;
6. Evolution is twofold: Descent into matter and subsequent ascent into Spirit;
7. Man’s evolution can be speeded up or self-directed. [165]


This teaching is so well known and so generally accepted among Theosophists that it may seem at first thought superfluous to include it in our study. Nevertheless, a comparison of the views held by the different authorities is included for the sake of the record.

Since the establishment of the Theosophical Society eighty-two years ago reincarnation has been so widely publicized that numerous people outside the Society are acquainted with the teaching. Many of them, though not members, will concede that it merits further study as a possible basis for explaining the inequalities of life. But Theosophists by and large, recognize it as an essential part of the Theosophical structure, as a self-evident truth, without which the rest of the Theosophical teachings would not fit together. It has gladdened the lives of all the members, for it gives hope of a finer future. It is doubtful if any Theosophists could be found who do not use this teaching as a working tool in solving daily problems.

For purposes of comparison an apt quotation on this topic by H.P.B. is introduced first:

“... For logic, consistency, profound philosophy, divine mercy and equity, this doctrine of Reincarnation has not its equal on earth. It is a belief in a perpetual progress for each incarnating Ego, or divine soul, in an evolution from the outward into the inward, from the material to the Spiritual, arriving at the end of each stage at absolute unity with the divine Principle. From strength to strength, from the beauty and perfection of one plane to the greater beauty and perfection of another, with accessions of new glory, of fresh knowledge and power in each cycle, such is the destiny of every Ego, which thus becomes its own Savior in each world and incarnation.” [34] [166]

This well expresses that phase of the teaching which leads some Theosophists to call it the doctrine of hope. There is always another chance; no matter how dark the present situation may seem, other lives will bring success if we continue to do our part. Perpetual progress is the rule in life and this is accomplished by means of repeated incarnations through which we evolve from the material to the Spiritual.

C. Jinarajadasa echoes this note of optimism when he says:

“Life, without Reincarnation as a clue, is a wild, wild drama indeed, as it seemed to Tennyson once, in spite of his Christian faith ... But grant that life, indestructible and undying, also evolves, then the future of each individual is bright indeed. In the light of Reincarnation, death loses its sting and the grave its victory; for men go ever onward to Deification, hand in hand with those they love, with never a fear of parting. Mortality is but a role which the soul plays for a while; and when the playing is done, when all lives are lived and all deaths are dead, then the soul begins his destiny as a Master of the Wisdom ...” [35]

Annie Besant declares that:

“Every life is a new opportunity, and if we have wasted one life, we have always ‘another chance.’ Reincarnation is essentially a Gospel, good news, for it makes an end of despair, encourages effort, cheers with the proclamation of final success, and ensures the permanence of every fragment, every seed, of good in us, and time enough for the least evolved to flower into perfection.” [36]

In a leaflet entitled “Theosophy Simply Stated,” which was received from the Theosophy Company of Los Angeles in answer to an inquiry, the following is printed, representing the official view of the United Lodge of Theosophists, as The Theosophy Company “works cooperatively with the U.L.T. for the purpose of publishing authentic Theosophical literature”: [167]

“The doctrine of Reincarnation is the very base of Theosophy, for it explains life and nature. It is one aspect of evolution, since evolution could not go on without reimbodiment. Reincarnation was believed in at the time of Jesus and taught by some of the early Christian Fathers. According to the view offered by Karma and Reincarnation, each is his own judge, and his own executioner; one’s own hand forges the weapon which works for his punishment, and each earns his own reward.”

Robert Crosbie once wrote:

“What reincarnates is a mystery to many minds because they find a difficulty in understanding such a permanency as must stand behind repeated incarnations. They know that the body is born and dies and is dissolved, but their minds are so identified with the body in its relations and surroundings that they are unable to dissociate themselves from it. They think of themselves as persons, as bodies of a physical nature, and hence cannot see where in them may reside that power of incarnating from life to life.” [37]

W.Q. Judge devoted three chapters out of seventeen to this subject in his well known Ocean of Theosophy, from which the following is taken:

“We come back to earth because on it and with the beings upon it our deeds were performed; because it is the only proper place where punishment and reward can be justly meted out; because here is the only natural spot in which to continue the struggle toward perfection, toward the development of the faculties we have and the destruction of the wickedness in us. Justice to ourselves and to all other beings demands it, for we cannot live for ourselves, and it would be unjust to permit some of us to escape, leaving those who were participants with us to remain or be plunged into a hell of eternal duration.” [38]

C.J. Ryan of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) calls attention to the prevalence of this belief in ancient times:

“Reincarnation is a very ancient and world-wide doctrine. It is a particular instance of the General Law of Reimbodiment, which Law applies not only to human beings but even to planets, suns, and universes ... [168]

“Reincarnation is briefly defined as the doctrine that man lives many times on earth as a human being, the conditions of each incarnation being the natural result of the causes set in motion in former lives. Between the incarnations the higher nature enjoys a blissful interval of rest and happiness in a subjective state. When his evolution has progressed as far as possible on this globe, man will advance to higher spheres.” [39]

On this topic C.W. Leadbeater wrote:

“There is perhaps no Theosophical teaching to which more violent objection is made than this great truth of reincarnation; yet it is in reality a most comforting doctrine. For it gives us time for the progress which lies before - time and opportunity to become ‘perfect’ even as our Father in Heaven is perfect.” [40]

The study of this section is concluded with an inspiring excerpt from an Address to the Convention of the Theosophical Society in America at Chicago, on June 25, 1949, by its then international President C. Jinarajadasa:

“In this great philosophy that we profess, there is one definite characteristic which it continually brings out; it is that of hope - hope, for instance, for the failures in life that they will succeed. There is no one who fails for ever. He may seem to be thrown upon the scrap-heap of life, but when he understands the principle of Reincarnation, how opportunities now lost will return again, all sense of depression and despair disappears, and there is a sense of hope ... This hope which is absolutely the center of Theosophy gives us the assurance that we shall succeed. Each dream of good and beauty and hope and love and power, all will become ours some day.”

The accent here is on the promise of progress, and the certainty of eventual success which this doctrine contains. This is in harmony with H.P.B.’s writings on the subject.

Theosophical literature is replete with excellent material dealing with this teaching. The reader will doubtless concede that the similarities in teaching shown here are striking. [169]


Karma, the last of the bases of the Theosophical pyramid postulated in our first section, is a teaching believed in by all Theosophists with whom contact has been made. There are few inquirers who will not accept it when a reasonable explanation of it is made. Lecturers on Theosophy probably refer to it more than to any other teaching. The commonly accepted law of compensation in the physical universe is familiar to most people, and it does not jar the sense of logic of an intelligent person when he is told that the Theosophist applies this law to the realm of causes.

Again, the selections which follow are from writers of different Theosophical organizations and have been picked without any attempt to select thoughts which would fit into the pattern of the premise. The first is from one of H.P.B.’s numerous writings on the subject:

“Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable.” [41]

When asked generally how the Theosophist describes the law of Karma, H.P.B. replied:

“We describe Karma as that Law of re-adjustment which ever tends to restore disturbed equilibrium in the physical, and broken harmony in the moral world. We say that Karma does not act in this or that particular way always; but that it always does act so as to restore Harmony and preserve the balance of equilibrium, in virtue of which the Universe exists.” [42]

H.P.B., then, teaches that Karma is a universal law which intelligently adjusts effects to causes. Let us [170] compare this with what Annie Besant says. “Karma,” she writes:

“being the result, at any given time, of all the thoughts, desires, and actions of the past, manifested in our character, our opportunities, and our environment, it limits our present: If we are mentally dull, we cannot suddenly become brilliant; if we have few opportunities, we cannot always create them; if we are crippled, we cannot be hale. But as we created, so can we change it; and our present thoughts, desires, and actions are changing our future Karma day by day.” [43]

C. Jinarajadasa confirms in the following H.P.B.’s teaching that there is intelligence directing the adjustment of effects to causes.

“We can understand now, how to some extent, there is for each man a ‘fate’, for ‘fate’ is that quantity of good and evil Karma selected for him by the Lords of Karma for a given life. His parents, his heredity, those who help him and those who hinder him, his opportunities, his obligations, his death - these are as his ‘fate’; but while these forces spend themselves, they do not impose upon him the manner in which he shall react to them. Small though his will is, as yet, that will is still free; he can react to his old karma and produce good rather than bad new karma. It is true that he is greatly handicapped, both by his past tendencies and by the pressure of his environment; yet the Divine Spirit lives within him, and, if he will but rouse himself, he may co-operate with the Divine Will in evolution, and not work against it.” [44]

The viewpoint of the United Lodge of Theosophists is next presented:

“Karma is inherent law and its operation must therefore be impersonal. Some might take this to be ‘merciless’, but that would only be because they desire escape from consequences that are unpleasant ...
“Now as Law reigns in the material world, it can be seen to rule in the mental and moral world as well. Karma simply means ‘action’ and its consequent ‘re-action’. There is no Karma unless there is a being to make it or feel its effects; unpleasant effects predicate causes that send forth unpleasantness in the world, affecting others, and finding the restoration of equilibrium at the point of disturbance. There can be, [171] then, but one consideration, and that is, Justice. Why should we desire anything but Justice to be done?” [45]

In a well written booklet on Karma which is handed to new members by the American Section of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), Karma is described as “the law of spiritual dynamics that enables man to act in absolute certainty of the results.” Its writer points out that in mixing chemical elements, the reaction may be more or less delayed, and “this is no less true in the chemistry of living, as we bring together actions, thoughts and feelings ...”

The booklet further states:

“The law of spiritual dynamics makes of man a self-reliant being, with the realization that he neither desires nor seeks to escape from responsibility. Rather he wishes to become a self-conscious master of his environment. Only by understanding and working with it, can he master natural law, as an aviator learns to fly by understanding the law of gravity and opposing to it other natural principles. Similarly, in the moral world does man transcend the inevitableness of consequences by understanding the law of karma and setting in motion causes that will produce the desirable effects and neutralize the undesirable. In the inviolability of law lies his potential freedom, for it enables him to modify, change and remake the character that is the outcome of his past living and create more perfectly the character of his future.”

For an interpretation of Karma by the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) we now turn to the writings of G. de Purucker:

“Yes, human beings come into the world strictly according to the laws of what we call Karma. The average man may perhaps call it the law of Cause and Effect. I much prefer our own Theosophical explanation of Karma, as the doctrine of Consequences: meaning the fruits, the results, the consequences, of what you have sown yourself or done or thought. These you reap and nothing else, for you yourself sowed the seed of which you are now reaping the fruit.” [46] [172]

The Point Loma viewpoint is further illustrated by a passage from C.J. Ryan:

“Karma is essentially the law of adjustment of causes to effects, the restoration of broken harmony, ‘even after many days’. We cannot deny the law of cause and effect in the material world, but Theosophy carries it farther than that, for it shows that this law goes to the root of all being.” [47]

The views of W.Q. Judge are that:

“no spot or being in the universe is exempt from the operation of Karma, but all are under its sway, punished for error by it yet beneficently led on, through discipline, rest and reward, to the highest heights of perfection ...
“Viewed from another point it is merely effect flowing from cause, action and reaction, exact result for every thought and act. It is act and the result of act; for the word's literal meaning is action.” [48]

From these few extracts we conclude that on this basic teaching there is a uniformity of viewpoint which is almost equivalent to identity.

Some of us have not read the books or magazines of other Theosophical Societies than our own, and we do not know what enlightenment they may contain. Our prejudices have kept us from acting as scholars should. There are gems to be found in the writings of all Theosophical groups - despite the presence, too, of some error - and we are the poorer for not having searched for these gems, and, indeed, for not even having had the will to do so.

It is plain that the basic doctrines dealt with have found complete acceptance on the part of the authoritative writers of all Theosophical groups. The similarity between the ideas expressed by each author quoted, and the words of H.P.B., are quite evident. [173]


Now that we have examined the foregoing five basic teachings of Theosophy, as propounded by the different Theosophical organizations, let us appraise the examination for the purpose of drawing conclusions therefrom. The problem before us can be briefly summarized by the following questions:

1. Are these five teachings the foundation upon which the whole Theosophical structure rests?
2. Will an understanding of them help to lead towards the establishment of a Universal Brotherhood, which is the prime Object of the Theosophical Societies?
3. Do the different Theosophical organizations agree on them and do they give similar instructions about them?
4. Is there any ground for disunity among the different Theosophical groups when the basic teachings are similar?

An attempt will be made to solve each of these questions. To appear to consolidate into five divisions all the basic Theosophical teachings may seem presumptuous, but we find a similar precedent for this in religious history. It is recorded that once a certain Wise Man was asked to summarize the whole of the Judaic teachings in one sentence. His reply: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” [49] Thus did he compress into seven words the ethics contained in years of study and in a multitude of writings. (It is interesting to note that these seven words are reduced to only three in ancient Hebrew: Veahabta lereakha kamokha). Similarly, Theosophical teachings, though embracing [174] several realms of knowledge, all rest upon basic teachings which lead towards one goal: How to attain Universal Brotherhood and the reason why its attainment is essential.

Unlike the religions, Theosophy cannot impose dogma on its students; it can only prove, explain, demonstrate, and try to persuade and convince people that Universal Brotherhood is not just a myth but that it is an innate result flowing from precedent cause inherent in Being itself. It reveals the vast scope of life, which includes evolvement from lower to higher planes by means of repeated incarnations. In this way all may eventually achieve the highest degree of evolution. It tells us that like students in college we can hinder or quicken our evolution, and it is through the experiences of life that we carve out our own futures. It demonstrates the unerring law that like effects follow like causes, and this it calls the law of Karma, which replaces all possibility of our lives being lived by hap or hazard or the result of the action of some whimsical God.

Karma is to be balanced through a series of incarnations. The differing fortunes of individuals, difference in race, in health, in social position, all are to be accounted for by this law, which is unerring, and by the different degrees of evolution attained by each. The student perceives that these teachings give equality of opportunity to all, and eternity in which to achieve their goal.

Reincarnation and constant Evolution imply the Immortality of the Soul, which in turn leads to a wider problem: What is the origin of human beings if the Soul of each is eternal and if this Soul is in process of Evolution? If all have the same opportunity to attain the supreme heights then all human beings must [175] inherently be the same, though at vastly different stages of this evolutionary attainment, comparable to the periods of infancy, youth, adolescence, maturity and old age. It follows that humans had a common origin and likewise have a common destination which is the highest rung of the evolutionary ladder.

Faced with these teachings, the deduction must follow: We are all brothers, united in that which matters most: our origin and our destiny, our goal, and all under the same compulsion to perfect ourselves and to accept ourselves as responsible for all our acts under the law of Karma.

From the foregoing it necessarily follows that the Theosophical Society is not at all like those fraternal organizations which profess brotherhood but do not explain it; which command us to act as brothers but do not convince us of the reality of such brotherhood. Such organizations do not explain that in practicing brotherhood we are not only helping ourselves, but also our fellow men, as no one can evolve, be it ever so slightly, without raising the evolutionary status of the entire human race of which he is a part. A Theosophist will call his fellow men brothers, not because he is asked to do so but because he is convinced of the reality of brotherhood and genuinely feels and, we may say, knows himself to be a brother to his fellow men. For him it goes without saying that until he is convinced of this basic reality, until he understands how the four sons of one father are still brothers, though one be a holy man, another a criminal, another a scholar, and the fourth a dullard, due to their differing grades of evolution, until he realizes that it is his duty to believe and act towards humans like brothers, to help them, guide them and enlighten them, he will not [176] evolve very fast. He knows that until he discards his national, his racial, his local prejudices, he will be bound by limitations which will stifle progress. He knows that until he realizes that his interdependence is so great that the shame of a brother reflects on him, and the progress or retardation of one individual is felt by the entire brotherhood, the full meaning of brotherhood has not truly awakened his soul.

The foregoing answers the first question by establishing the fact that the five teachings we have discussed are basic teachings and are the ones, perhaps more than any others, upon which the whole structure of the philosophy rests. If the key objective of the Theosophical Society is thoughtfully analyzed it will convince us that a complete understanding of these five topics alone is sufficient to help us attain that nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood which is our goal. This disposes of the second question.

Answering the third question, perusal of the five preceding sections discloses that though each writer treated the subject in his own manner, all were seeking to convey the same basic truth. It is the same with the world religions: their spokesmen, according to Theosophy, are members of the Great Lodge of Initiates, but each has differed in the manner of presenting the subject. In the case of our five basic teachings, there are obvious similarities in the use of the terms:

Karma, Reincarnation, Evolution, and the Common Origin of Man. It was also found in our study that all authorities quoted were in harmony with the teachings advanced by H.P.B. It therefore follows that they are in harmony with each other.

But it is difficult to believe that a Society formed for the purpose of promoting Universal Brotherhood should [177] limit itself to five main beliefs and have no wider scope. It is true that the Founders emphasized the great importance of the only pre-requisite to membership. It is also true that the teaching of the five afore-mentioned topics explains the need for the dissemination of the teaching of the Brotherhood of Man. But is this enough to occupy the minds of generations of Theosophists? Is it not to be feared that a Society with such a crystallized scope would turn dogmatic as have so many of the ancient religions? Is it not wise to look upon the Theosophical Society, just as the Founders did, not as something static, but as a dynamic evolving school of teaching, with its doors wide open to researches, investigations, comparisons, and to any field of study directly or indirectly related to its principles? This being so, and in accord with the objects of the Society, the full participation in such researches by the members is to be encouraged and fostered. For through the study of comparative religion we will learn tolerance, just as a study of the five basic teachings has taught us Brotherhood. In the same manner, researches into the powers latent in man will give us proofs of all of our studies. Whereas up to now we ourselves have only been convinced of the immortality of the soul through religio-philosophical speculation, still some people of a more skeptical disposition will want some solid proof possibly, and will want in addition some solidly plausible explanation regarding the so-called miracles with which our literature abounds.

From the above it may be seen that whereas the five basic teachings have to do with the main object of the T.S., the subsidiary objects have to do with researches and investigations. Here, then, the door is [178] wide open for all members to engage in researches. The results might be meager, or they might conflict with the investigations of other members; but no member is any less a Theosophist because his particular researches may not produce what are considered worthwhile results.

Such results can in no way bind the Theosophical Society, nor will they alter the main objective of the Society. Therefore as long as the different Theosophical organizations agree on the basic teachings and the main object, all other teachings - which we may classify as supplementary teachings - can be considered in the nature of researches; and if the different Theosophical organizations disagree as to these supplementary teachings, these disagreements can not be considered valid grounds for disunity. A great many scientists disagree among themselves in regard to their scientific findings, and philosophers have expostulated paradoxical philosophies, but that never has been reason for changing a scientific or philosophical disagreement into a cause for despising or hating each other.

This brings us to the fourth question. It has been found that the objects of the Founders of the T.S. were threefold: To promote a Universal Brotherhood not only among the members but also among men in general. This object could be attained by means of the five main subjects already considered and in regard to which we find all Theosophical organizations are in accord. The second and third objects are subsidiary. The study of ancient and modern religions has two objectives; namely, to show the similarities in all religions, and to make men more tolerant of each others’ views. Of course this study was actually intended to strengthen the main object again: Universal Brotherhood; [179] for, if through the studies and researches of the Society, humanity could appreciate the common basis of all religions, then there would be less ground for friction, less ground for disunity and more tolerance. Is it a vital activity leading towards the attainment of Universal Brotherhood? Even if considered only contributory or supplementary, it is also important, providing that the student has thoroughly grasped the value of the five main teachings.

The third object of the Society is to investigate the latent powers in man. Here the terminology used by the Founders is significant: They do not say ‘study’, nor do they use the word ‘cultivate’. They say ‘investigate’. (See A Short History of The Theosophical Society compiled by Josephine Ransom, p.549). Investigation involves researches in order to ascertain facts; it involves a detailed and careful examination, even experimentation, but it does not mean ‘study’ of a preconceived doctrine. In the minds of the Founders, their obvious will was to encourage members into the fields of investigation of the latent powers of man. Why? Up to that point the whole emphasis was upon the attainment of Universal Brotherhood through explanations, through philosophico-religious speculation, and through a study and comparison of the various religions. But after establishing the Divine Origin of Man, and after having laid down the principle that the Theosophical Society was a group formed to intensify the study of mysticism and allied subjects, they wanted the collaboration of the members towards a third Object. In this the members were left a free hand to investigate, to make searching inquiries into and to make systematic and thorough attempts to learn the facts about this complex and hidden problem. It is [180] obvious, too, that their contributions in this regard were to be a welcome addition to the work of the Society.

And what was to be expected from the results of such investigations? Possibly more proofs which might explain to the materialist the immortality of the soul, the continuation of life after death, the inner powers in man which science has failed to explain materialistically, possibly even substantiation of the doctrine of reincarnation.

Should the results of such investigations be deemed useless? Would the structure of the Theosophical Movement be undermined by them? Obviously not, as a priori the founders explained to all through the Constitution of the Society that the third object comprises merely investigations, researches, and was not to consist of inspiration from the Masters, to which much weight is to be attached. Because the Masters themselves made no claims to being infallible, and on the other hand asserted that they were human and subject to error, a fortiori the various members engaged in research work and investigation could not bind the entire Theosophical Movement by the results of their work, their examinations, or their systematic efforts to find out something about the hidden or occult side of life.

All investigators and researchers could err, without thereby involving the Theosophical Society and without undermining its basic teachings. The very variety of topics forming the objects of researches would constitute a safeguard against a confounding of the basic teachings; and if any member or official of the Society should err in his findings he should not be put under a taboo by the others, nor should this constitute sufficient grounds for sectionalism in the Society, unless said [181] member willfully intends to lead the student astray and unless he presents his researches as a dogma. And here again the Founders foresaw the possibility of such a danger, and to forestall it they proclaimed that the Theosophical Society would not impose any dogmas on its members or students save only that of a belief in Universal Brotherhood.

We feel the reader may be well advised to pause and re-read the preceding pages in the light of this analysis. Will he not find the great likeness and similarity with which these main topics have been conveyed to the world by the writers of the different Theosophical organizations? Will he not come to believe that the subjects beyond these five are to be considered as auxiliary or supplementary to the five, and therefore of somewhat lesser importance? And since many of them are the result of personal investigation, will the reader not naturally find them to be more subject to error, misconception, and misunderstanding? If so, is it not reasonable to say that the fruit of such researches should be questioned and investigated with a fraternal motive and in a dignified and brotherly manner, rather than in a way condemnatory of a whole segment of the Theosophists of the world, and without even doing so in a scientific and reasonable manner? The reader is left to ponder and reflect upon these ideas and to draw his own conclusions.


[1] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.490, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[2] Freedom and Friendship by G.S. Arundale, pp.354-55, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[3] Messages to Conventions by G. de Purucker, p.49, Theosophical University Press, Covina, Calif., 1943
[4] Ibid, p.183
[5] The Doctrine of the Heart by Annie Besant, p.11
[6] What Is Theosophy?, pamphlet by C.J. Ryan, p.22-3, Theosophical University Press, Point Loma, Calif.
[7] A Text Book of Theosophy by C.W. Leadbeater, p. 138, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[8] The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, The Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 1930
[9] Theosophy by Annie Besant, p.90
[10] The American Theosophist, September 1949, p.193
[11] A Theosophist Looks at the World by Sri Ram, p.19, 1950, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[12] Theosophy and the New Psychology by Annie Besant, p.173, The Theosophical Publishing Society, London
[13] The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, p.181-82, 1930 Ed., The Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, Calif.
[14] Ibid, p.41
[15] Questions We All Ask by G. de Purucker, Series II, p.10, Theosophical University Press, Point Loma, Calif.
[16] First Principles of Theosophy by C. Jinarajadasa, p. 373, 1944 Ed., Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[17] An Outline of Theosophy by C.W. Leadbeater, p.26, 1910 Ed., Theosophical Publishing Society, London
[18] The Friendly Philosopher by Robert Crosbie, p.235, 1945 Ed.
[19] A Theosophist Looks at the World by Sri Ram, p.15
[20] Genesis, I, pp.26-27
[21] The Book of Wisdom, II, p.23
[22] The Nature of Mysticism by C. Jinarajadasa, p.59, 1934 Ed.
[23] Messages to Conventions by G. de Purucker, p.193
[24] Isis Unveiled by H.P. Blavatsky, Facsimile reprint compiled by A. Trevor Barker, p.257
[25] The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, p.217
[26] Isis Unveiled by H.P. Blavatsky, xxx-xxxii
[27] The Theosophist, October 1949, p.12
[28] Man in Evolution by G. de Purucker, p.205, 1947 Ed., Theosophical University Press, Covina, Calif.
[29] First Principles of Theosophy by C. Jinarajadasa, p.22-23, 1947 Ed., Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[30] Evolution by H.T. Edge, pp.2-5, 1942 Ed., Theosophical University Press, Point Loma, Calif.
[31] A Text Book on Theosophy by C.W. Leadbeater, p.5, 5th Ed.
[32] The Ocean of Theosophy by W.Q. Judge, p.60-61, 1932 Ed.
[33] The Friendly Philosopher by Robert Crosbie, p.238-39
[34] The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, p.154-55, 1930 Ed.
[35] First Principles of Theosophy by C. Jinarajadasa, p.88-89, 7th Ed.
[36] Theosophy by Annie Besant, p.60
[37] The Friendly Philosopher by Robert Crosbie, p.234-35
[38] The Ocean of Theosophy by W.Q. Judge, p.84
[39] What is Theosophy? by C.J. Ryan, p.50-52, 1948 Ed.
[40] An Outline of Theosophy by C.W. Leadbeater, p.50, 1910 Ed.
[41] The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, p.201
[42] Ibid, p.205-6
[43] Theosophy by Annie Besant, p.64
[44] First Principles of Theosophy by C. Jinarajadasa, p.92-106, 7th Ed., Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[45] The Friendly Philosopher by Robert Crosbie, p.50-51
[46] Questions We All Ask by G. de Purucker, pp.154-55, 1947 Ed
[47] What is Theosophy by C.J. Ryan, p.60-61, 1948 Ed.
[48] The Ocean of Theosophy by W.Q. Judge, p.89-90, 1932 Ed.
[49] History of Philosophy by Will Durant, p.223


“Magna est veritas et prevalebit”

DURING my student days at Point Loma I listened to many discussions about the twisting of the Theosophical teachings by other groups of Theosophists, and gained the impression that the members of these groups were introducing their own ideas into Theosophy, and that these ideas were foreign to those set forth by the Masters through H.P.B. This argument was the one usually used to justify a continued separation of the Theosophical Societies. These discussions often expanded to include other points of disagreement, such as:

a. Which is the original Theosophical Society?
b. The development of psychic powers
c. Claims to representing the Masters
d. C.W. Leadbeater-
- i. The Liberal Catholic Church he founded
- ii. His alleged teachings to certain boys
e. The validity of books on Theosophy published by The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

These disagreements are now held up for scrutiny in order to ascertain if they are serious enough to warrant the presence of disunity in the Movement. While it is recognized that this discussion has to do with events which took place some thirty-odd years ago, it will be [185] seen, as the discussion proceeds, that the issues which disunite us today are much the same as those which separated us in those days.


One or two of the smaller Theosophical Societies have attempted to interpret Theosophical history in such a manner as to justify their claim to being the original Theosophical Society founded by H.P.B. and Col. Olcott. This claim is given little credence and is practically ignored by all other groups as being untenable. It hardly deserves much comment and in any event it is largely a question of prestige and false pride, and the outcome would neither establish nor disestablish any virtue in the claimants. If the reader is interested in obtaining facts about the issue, he is referred to the histories enumerated in Chapter II. The danger, however, is often present when a Theosophist writes on controversial subjects that he will slant history to suit his basic assumptions. This is difficult to avoid and should be borne in mind. We must be careful in reading these histories to distinguish between events, which it is the historian’s job to record, and the inferences which he is likely to draw from these happenings. If the historian starts out with the basic assumption that the characters he is dealing with were Theosophical mountebanks, this will be reflected in his conclusions and may result in the juggling of facts to fit the basic assumptions.

It is apparent to the researcher that the claim of the Theosophical Society in America to be the Parent [186] Society is based on insubstantial ground. In A Historical Retrospect (1875-1896) of the Theosophical Society, published in Madras, India in 1896 by the Theosophical Society (Adyar), the President-Founder related:

“The meetings held on the evenings of July 16, 1877, and August 27, 1878, have become historically important because, on these occasions, full powers were given the President to remove the Society’s Headquarters to foreign countries and to carry on the work at his discretion. The quorum on both these occasions was composed of H.P.B., Mr. Judge, myself and others, and was perfectly legal.” (Italics added).

On arrival in London, President Olcott issued “Foreign Order No.1,” dated London, January 17, 1879, in which he appointed General Doubleday President, ad interim, of the Theosophical group which remained in New York after he and H.P.B. had left for India. Other members were appointed to other offices. Being appointees, selected by virtue of his new powers, their tenure of office was subject to his discretion.

On April 2, 1879, W.Q. Judge wrote to President Olcott asking for authority to establish a Branch Society in Los Angeles, California.

In April 1880, General Doubleday was elected one of nine Vice-Presidents, and Mr. Judge one of two Joint Recording Secretaries. The General wrote H.P.B. on June 10, 1880, and accepted “with gratitude the honor the General Council of the T.S.” had tendered him in appointing him “one of the Vice-Presidents of the Parent Society.”

Col. Olcott states that “from the beginning up to the end of 1894, 394 Branch Charters had been issued throughout the world, each bearing my signature as President of the Society. Not one from the New York nucleus.” [187]

It is thus abundantly clear that the headquarters of the Parent T.S. had been legally moved to India and that Col. Olcott was its legal President and H.P.B. its Corresponding Secretary. But when seceding the American Section inserted a paragraph in the second Preamble of their Resolutions claiming that the different forms of organization through which the T.S. had passed since 1878, were merely de facto and not de jure. An article appearing in The Path, May 1895, (pp. 55-60) stated that the original organization was kept up at New York until after January 1, 1882. But the Minute Book of the Society, according to the record of Col. Olcott, shows that the New York Society “existed only in name and no meeting is recorded in the Minute Book of the Society from November 15, 1876 to March 22, 1882.”

Believing in the legal principle of ante liti motum - things said before a suit begins are more apt to be true than what is said afterwards - we quote a letter written to Col. Olcott by W.Q. Judge dated New York, April 30, 1881:

“The Society is suspended here, I think very properly. As I have had no instruction on it, I exercise my own judgment and I say it ought to remain torpid for some time yet, here.
“The Society is in status quo here, absolutely doing nothing.”

Col. Olcott claims that if the two Society meetings (July 16, 1877, and August 27, 1878) referred to above, were lawful, “then every act performed by me under them was lawful.” He adds that if he was empowered to admit new members and appoint officials, such as General Doubleday, and have Rules and By-Laws amended, “then the Society has never for one moment lost its legal status nor ceased to be, de jure, the same [188] Theosophical Society which was formed in New York in 1875.”

On January 16, 1882 Mr. Judge wrote President Olcott that some people in Rochester, N.Y., wanted to form a Branch, and asked him (Olcott) to send immediately “a dispensation to the Society here, permitting the organization by us of Branches wherever we may see fit.”

Other evidence is also available which strengthens Col. Olcott’s assertions as to the legal existence of the Parent Society in India and which contrariwise weakens the assertions made by the seceding group that they are the Original T.S.

In conclusion we might ask, What is the Theosophical Society today? In the eyes of the public it is the Theosophical Society with international headquarters at Adyar, India - quite naturally, in view of its having a membership which is much greater than all other Theosophical Societies combined.


For a number of years after the first schism the members of one of the Theosophical groups alleged that the primary interest of the members of a competing group was the development of their psychic powers. Strong disapproval was registered against this alleged activity, it being claimed that great harm was being done to the individuals themselves and to the cause of Theosophy by this interest. This·strong censure served to widen the gap between the Theosophical groups involved and its effects remain to this [189] day. This is so notwithstanding the official position assumed by the censured group in their magazines and literature, which is outspokenly against the undue and premature development of these powers. It is felt that a clarification of the situation is desirable. If a study will show that the problem arose more as a result of misunderstanding than anything else, then it will be eminently worth our while, for we shall have taken a long step on the road to a general rapprochement.

The so-called “Third Object” of the original society is present in the Objects of all the major groups. But despite this, a few of the groups have given little real attention to it. This object calls for an “investigation into the powers latent in man,” a unique and fascinating study, not present in any of the other major religious groups. A few of the Societies have kept this activity of the Theosophical Movement completely in the background. Among these was the administration at Point Loma. The entire emphasis of this Society was away from the subject. The student was forbidden to cultivate these powers, and was warned of the dangers in so doing.

If the policy had stopped here, there could only be commendation for it. But as in so many phases of modern culture we find the Aristotelian Law of the Excluded Middle working here. Not only was the student advised to refrain from developing his psychic powers, but he was practically forbidden from carrying on any ‘investigations’ into those powers, thus denying in effect, the existence of the above cited object of the Society. The student was to carryon his studies of ethics, and Theosophy in so far as they referred to philosophies and comparative religion, but [190] the very unique and interesting field of research into the area of psychic phenomena, clairaudience, psychometry, mesmerism and related subjects, was forbidden territory.

Speaking on one of these topics the Master K.H. said:

“There is no reason why you should not ‘attempt mesmeric cures’ by the help not of your locket but the power of your will ... To heal diseases it is not indispensable, however desirable, that the psychopathist should be absolutely pure; there are many in Europe and elsewhere who are not. If the healing be done under the impulse of perfect benevolence, unmixed with any latent selfishness, the philanthropist sets up a current which runs like a fine thrill through the sixth condition of matter, and is felt by him whom you summon to your help, if not at that moment engaged in some work which compels him to be repellent to all extraneous influences.” [1]

Here is no stricture making everything in this field verboten. How many of us have done this?

C. Jinarajadasa, former President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), spoke in London on Adyar Day, February 17, 1949, emphasizing that “the Society’s Third Object says investigate, not cultivate, the powers latent in man,” according to Josephine Ransom, in The 75th Anniversary Book of the T.S. (p.198). In his message to the European Congress in 1949 Mr. Jinarajadasa declared:

“The object of Theosophical studies is, first, to lead men to Truth, and then to discover the powers latent in man. He desires those powers, not to increase his personal stature, but in order to have more tools in his hands to create a world more perfect for all men than it is today.” [2]

Here is official evidence of the desire of the T.S. (Adyar) to pursue the objective in the manner prescribed by H.P.B. and the Founders. The statement should be reassuring to the Theosophists of all affiliations. [191] Additionally, our estimate of 1900, while it may have had elements of correctness at that time, may be quite incorrect in 1957. It is thus seen that categorical condemnation of an entire segment of Theosophists is improper. This is a method of approach to problems usually resorted to by those who have no solutions of their own.

The Master K.H. warned only against indiscriminate mediumship - “materializations and transpossessions especially.” [3] But he urged Mr. Sinnett to unite to himself “several determined men and women and make experiments in mesmerism and the usual so-called ‘spiritual’ phenomena.” [4] This advice was not given to all Theosophists, but at least no restrictions were placed on those who were to assist in the experiments.

From personal observation it can be said that the Point Loma group made no investigations of psychic phenomena. But one wonders how much valuable data could have been accumulated if such investigations had been carried out. Possibly by this time we would have had some acceptable scientific proof of reincarnation, of the existence of the soul, or even of the brotherhood of man.

An interesting study along these lines is contained in a book by Professor Benito F. Reyes* (*Professor Reyes is President of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines (Adyar) and Chairman and Professor, Department of Philosophy and Psychology, Far Eastern University, Manila. His degrees include L.R.D., Litt.D. from the National College of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.) entitled Scientific Proofs of the Existence of the Soul. Professor Reyes concludes that the soul exists and that “There is in man a non-physical element which alone can explain a multitude of phenomena concerning human [192] life and behavior.” The proofs which he employs in his discussion relate to the nature of psychic research, hypnotism, dreams, sleep and death. This is an example of the kind of studies and conclusions which the Third Object of the Theosophical Society seeks to bring forth from its members. Prof. Reyes quotes Doctor J.B. Rhine’s work wherein he states that “the soul-theory has been established,” and in this connection the experiments made by Dr. Rhine and Duke University (North Carolina, U.S.A.) are of great interest. But surely the students of a Theosophical University, because of the background of their philosophical studies, are better equipped to make these researches.

H.P.B. tells us that “real divine theurgy requires an almost superhuman purity and holiness of life; otherwise it degenerates into mediumship or black magic.” [5] She also states that it is comparatively easy to learn the methods of using the subtler forces of physical nature. The powers of man’s animal soul, “the forces which his love, his hate, his passion, can call into operation, are readily developed. But this is Black Magic.” [6]

The above thoughts explain the difference which the Theosophist makes between the kind of ‘miracles’ performed by Jesus and the sorcery which results from development of the psychic powers for unworthy purposes. It should be the cynosure of every Theosophist to some day attain the level of occultism reached by Jesus and taught by him to his disciples. From this level the beneficent forces of healing can be used to produce the valuable results depicted in the Bible, wherein the sick were healed, the blind made to see, and devils were cast out of the bodies of otherwise normal individuals. (It would be interesting to know [193] what percentage of the apparently hopeless cases in psychopathic wards are due to this type of ‘possession’. Research and investigation of man’s latent powers might help us to find the answer.) This is what H.P.B. terms “divine theurgy,” and is within the realm of possibility for all of us, if we correctly interpret our philosophy. This is the area of great need where the laborers are so few and the necessity for the harvest of benign deeds so plenteous. The grievous burdens carried by so many people could be lightened if more of us would only hurry up and attain the level sufficient for instruction in this divine theurgy, which is real occultism. It is the noblest calling this world affords. Its attainment would make us partners in the working out of the Divine Plan, the harmonizing of all disharmonies, the healing and making whole of all that is ugly in life. This goal is not a mirage; it is a quest worth making. The Theosophist has the story, the rationale of its attainment more, perhaps, than any other group. He has the latest revelation* (*Use of the word ‘revelation’ in connection with the transmittal of teachings from the White Lodge to the Theosophical Society through H.B. Blavatsky, has a restricted meaning. Its usual meaning is reserved for religious bodies who claim that their Prophets have received ‘Revelation’ from God or from some Divine source, not available to the ordinary man. The special connotation used in this book covers the ‘conveying’ or ‘giving’ of spiritual knowledge by occult means through the chosen spokesman of the White Lodge, and there is no known parallel for this in orthodox religious annals.) from which he can make definite advances towards this not-impossible level. This “steep and thorny road” is pointed out to him in these revelations, and a general course is chartered which will lead him to this road. Once on it, there is nothing which can stop him from reaching the peak if he has the determination to get there. [194]

It is believed that the critics of psychic development correctly assume that the psychic realm only partially mirrors the beauty of the spiritual realms to be found on a higher level of perception. But even this partial simulation is sufficient to capture the attention of the uninformed student so that he is liable to waste his time in the lower levels of the psychic, feeling that what he finds there is of extreme importance. In an effort to forestall this the critic will often take the extreme position, even to condemning a scholarly research into facts and happenings pertaining to this realm. This “all or none” position discourages that very investigation which was sought by the Founders when they wisely placed this activity in the Objects of the Society. But let these critics not discourage that natural human interest in the unknown, the unseen universe, which interest, properly guided, can lead directly to the goal of the Theosophist - real occultism, with its fascinating possibilities for tangible and effective service to all men. It is the errors of the over-zealous critic which this study seeks to expose. Motivated by a basically good drive, they nevertheless work an injustice when they make sweeping condemnation of all activity in this interesting field.

Annie Besant says that development of the psychic powers prematurely is useless and such people are not to be envied, for they find themselves “possessed of powers that they do not know how to use and which tend to disturb and distress them,” bringing into their lives phenomena which they do not know how to control. [7] She deplores an undue interest in psychic communications from the astral world, stating that they generally emanate from earth-bound souls of small intelligence, [195]

“and their communications are of no more interest (to those already convinced of the existence of the soul after death) than was their conversation when they were in the body …” [8]

C.W. Leadbeater urges Theosophists not to engage in mediumship:

“From my own point of view, based upon no inconsiderable experience, I should strongly warn my brethren against engaging in any kind of mediumship.” [9]

Geoffrey Hodson addressed a large public meeting in San Francisco (sponsored by The Theosophical Society, Adyar) on November 27,1955, on “The Theory and Practice of Spiritual Healing.” “It is very inadvisable,” he urged

“to use occult forces for personal gain ... This means you are attaching undue importance to material things ... It is in self-forgetfulness and a desire to help the world, that true progress lies ... Theosophists always warn that we should not demand that some good be given us through our knowledge of occult or inner powers ... Do not use the healing power for personal, financial or material gain. The true healer takes nothing in return.”

In the face of these statements by prominent members of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), it is believed that the general condemnation of this Society and its members by a former administration of another Theosophical Society, was unwarranted.

In addition to the warnings given above, mediumship is inadvisable because the medium allows himself to become passive; he is undeveloped in his evolution - in this respect unlike the occultist - he has no control over the manifestations which are produced by means of his passivity, hence is a slave to them; he is their tool and not their master. This being so the medium can easily be misled and even harmed. The occultist on the other hand is more evolved, is positive [196] and active at all times, and through his well-guided development he is fully aware of all that is taking place in these manifestations; he has self-control and can regulate, harness or control these manifestations at will, or prohibit them altogether. In this manner he can profit by them and avoid the dangers inherent in them. Illustrating this is that fascinating orchestral number “L Apprenti Sorcier” by Paul Dukas, which depicts the pandemonium caused by the magician’s apprentice when he used his master’s formulae to order the entities to bring water to his house. But he did not know how to stop what he had started! The music dramatically depicts the resulting anarchy, as well as the entry of the sorcerer himself, who brought an end to the disorder.

The reader must have patience if this point appears laboured, as it is deemed one of the basic misunderstandings between certain Theosophical groups. Books based on psychic investigations should be accepted only as “observations liable to modification, to correction, to reviewal,” declared Annie Besant. Thus these researches were offered not as dogmas but for acceptance or rejection. They were offered to students by researchers who considered themselves mature enough to avoid the dangers inherent in such study. We can illustrate this by comparing the psychic realm to a chemical laboratory. You do not allow a child to enter such a place. He might do the wrong thing and set off an explosion. But you do not prohibit that same child from studying chemistry when he is more mature and gaining enough knowledge to enter that same laboratory for experimental and research purposes in his college years. Visits for informational purposes can be useful. A pertinent proverb in the Koran comes [197] to mind: “Learn about sorcery but do not practice it.”

Lest we overlook the possibility of something worthy being transmitted by some entity through a medium, we give here a prayer dictated by an entity to a medium during a spiritualistic seance. It is taken from a French compilation by Leon Denis:

“My God, Thou who art Great, Thou who art All!
Pray let fall on me, the small, on me who exist only because
You willed it, a ray from your Light!
May it be that, surrounded by your love, I find Good easy
and Evil odious,
That animated with the desire to please You, my soul might
be able to surmount all obstacles which oppose the triumph
of Truth over Error, and fraternity over egotism!

“May it be that in each companion of trials I find a brother
as You see a son in each being who emanated from You
and must return to You!
And with the help of the torch that you will place in my hands,
illuminate me as regards the imperfections which retard
my advancement in this life as well as in the other!”

This displays an understanding of real fraternity and an urge to attain true progress. It would appear that contact with this spirit was productive of some good. It seems likely that a medium would attract the type of entity most nearly akin to his own development.

H.P. Blavatsky insisted upon attention being given to the Third Object of the Theosophical Society. She wanted:

“To encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, the so-called Occult Sciences, based on the true knowledge of nature, instead of ... on superstitious beliefs ...” [10]

She even urged pursuit of our inquiry into popular folk-lore and traditions, for she held that these, when sifted, “may lead to the discovery of long-lost, but important, secrets of nature.” [11] [198]

It is suggested that it would enliven our expositions of Theosophy if references to this absorbing and important study were made. It is the way that H.P.B. first attracted the attention of the public to her message, and indeed it was her first mission: To prove to the materialists that the spiritualistic phenomena were not fraudulent, and could be produced as well as explained. It is a method of expanding the public’s interest in Theosophy. They have always shown great interest in the subject, and we are one of the few groups that has reasonable answers to their questions.


This is admittedly a difficult subject to treat and is very confusing to the public. For instance, claims have been made by Theosophists of prominence to receipt of messages from the Masters at different times, which were of conflicting character and which tended to cause disharmony. The question arises, then, how could these ‘communications’ be in conflict when they were supposed to originate from a single source? Dr. J.J. van der Leeuw, formerly General Secretary of the Dutch Section of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), objected to these occult ‘communications’ and saw in them the cause of most Theosophical difficulties. He thought that each should speak “in his own name, authority and conviction, or not at all.” [12]

Other claims have been made. It is recalled that one prominent Theosophist stated that he received a Master at his residence, who advised him as to the future of his Society. Another was reputed to have [199] visited a Master while in India, and a picture to substantiate this statement was placed in one of the Society’s publications. The relationship, if held, should be one of complete silence. While the possibility exists, its probability would seem remote in most cases. If the relationship actually existed, claims would hardly be necessary, as the wisdom gained through such an experience would speak for itself.

In the earliest days of the Society H.P.B. spoke of the existence of Masters of Wisdom. She claimed to be Their pupil and to be acting under orders. Members of all the Theosophical Societies recognize that H.P.B.’s claims in this respect are true and her writings reflect this. But it is the claims made by subsequent followers of H.P.B. around which so much controversy has arisen. It is difficult to know which of these are genuine and which are not. According to the United Lodge of Theosophists the claims of self-styled teachers are numerous and threaten to becloud the real teachings of Theosophy in the coming years. But lest we become too skeptical, it is recalled that the Master K.H. once wrote A.O. Hume:

“Fear not; … our knowledge will not pass away from the sight of man … Our pilots are too experienced sailors to allow us (to) fear any such disaster. We will always find volunteers to replace the tired sentries, and the world, bad as it is in its present state of transitory period, can yet furnish us with a few men now and then." (Italics added) [13]

Many of those considered teachers in the past have had the touch-stone of humility as the criterion of their worth. Witness Jesus, born in a stable and a carpenter by trade; Buddha, a prince, who donned a beggar’s robe in order that he might learn to serve his fellowmen; Socrates, a stonemason; Simon (Peter) the fisherman, [200] a disciple of Jesus, who performed numerous ‘miracles’; John the Baptist, who announced the coming of Jesus; Moses the Prophet, a sheepherder; Bernadette Soubirous, the Saint of Lourdes, France, a simple and poor country girl of humble origin. Against this background of humility which is not too proud to wash the feet of disciples, we may expect to find a Man of God; not as likely, perhaps, among those who make claims. Moreover, many advanced students of the philosophy believe, as above stated, that one who is really a disciple of the Masters would preserve complete silence on the subject. This is in the nature of occult work, as is to be seen from the following occult warning:

“One must know in order to will;
One must will in order to dare;
One must dare in order to attain the Kingdom;

It is this area which is fraught with the greatest possibilities of quackery, humbuggery, charlatanism and fraudulence. As the seventeenth century French author Fontenelle remarked: “Show me four persons who swear it is midnight when it is noon, and I will show you ten thousand to believe them.” It is so easy to pretend to a knowledge deriving from revelation. But it is safe to say that almost all of such claims are false. When genuine, claims are seldom, if ever, made. Access to this level of perception requires special training and disciplines. Without them it is impossible for anyone consciously and willfully to place himself en rapport with the beings of high intelligence who are able to ‘reveal’. Those who are successful in this are extremely rare, as is evidenced by the comment in the Bible: “For the harvest truly is plenteous [201] but the laborers are few.” There is a rich reward in store for us, but alas, there are precious few who can profit by it yet.

Let those who shamefully traffic in the credulity of the seeker after truth by pretending to be its channel reflect upon the awful responsibility they have brought upon themselves by posing as teachers, agents of the Masters, or by pretending to be what they are not. Even intelligent students can be deluded by one who has a well-developed psychic nature. The new student sees in this a reflection of the reality he is seeking. It seems to him to be what it is not. There can be no more disgraceful thing than this: To take advantage of the pupil’s desire for truth. Yet there is evidence of this in the Theosophical Movement today. And it is not confined to one group alone. There are even those who allow their followers to believe that they are pupils of the Masters, or in touch with them. They know it is untrue, but they do not uproot the belief because its presence enhances their prestige - or so they think. Perhaps the following from the Bible can be applied to those cases we are speaking of. The “little ones” alluded to are the sincere students of simple, pure and spiritual naiveté who are deluded by the pretensions of some ‘teacher’ whom they follow in their humble search for truth:

“Whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believes in Me, it is better for him that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea.”

It would be a greater display of integrity if we were to discourage the student from making gurus or Initiates out of some of our leading members. An aspirant to wisdom feels the need of having someone in his life to whom he can look for guidance. This [202] need represents the law of service seeking an outlet, as those who would serve MUST have someone to serve. Let us not traffic in this natural human desire by raising to the status of an Initiate any of our members or officials merely because they hold a prominent place in our society. Let the devoted member serve his duly elected officials, but let the latter not deceive by pretending to a wisdom which they do not possess. Let us not pose as mediators between the divine and the human. Let us reserve this very high position solely for those qualified to assume it. It would greatly simplify the task of recognition, if those who belong in the lower levels, would keep their voices there rather than attempt to ventriloquize them onto a higher level where they do not belong.


As a student at Point Loma I heard much criticism of C.W. Leadbeater. It usually centered around two main headings:

a. The Liberal Catholic Church, founded by him, and
b. His alleged teachings to certain boys confided to his care.

The Liberal Catholic Church - Be it remembered that this Church is the creation of an individual member who was himself a clergyman of the Anglican Church. It is not called “The Theosophical Church” but “The Liberal Catholic Church.” The Theosophical Society is not bound in any way by its acts, nor is it responsible for its creation. C.S. Arundale, late President [203] of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), made the official position of the Society clear in the following:

“But definite organizations such as we have had in the Liberal Catholic Church, or in the Order of the Star in the East, cannot be permitted to function within the Society. They are best outside of it, for their own sake and for the sake of the Society. They should be most carefully guided so that all dangers even of the slightest identification with the Theosophical Society is minimized.” [14]

In The Theosophist, March 1920, Annie Besant, then President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) stated that many members had joined the Liberal Catholic Church, though she herself had not. She felt that the Theosophical Lodges should not be used as fields for propaganda of any special religion. “The public has grown out of the idea” she said, “that all Theosophists are Buddhists; we must not let it grow into the idea that all Theosophists are Liberal Catholic Christians.”

In the August 1929 issue she wrote:

“I think that the Theosophical Society is too mixed up in the eyes of the public with the Liberal Catholic Church, a form of Christianity which has eliminated the accretions which had grown up around the religion, and has a beautiful liturgy, free from all fear and very inspiring. While the L.C.C. was weak ... I felt I ought to lend a helping hand to it as a reformed presentation of Christianity, as in India I have helped the reformed Hinduism ... But Theosophy is the Mother of all Faiths and the Theosophist the servant of all ... Because of the danger of the identification of Theosophy with the L.C.C., I am not attending its services at present.”

It has been said that no member of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) is elected to a high official position unless he is a member of this church. But a careful check of this situation in the U.S.A. discloses that this statement is unfactual. [204]

The Theosophical Society is not a religious body. But we cannot deny to its members the comfort of worshiping God in a manner of their own choosing. Ritual is important in the lives of millions of people. It is their way of partial fulfilment of aspiration and spiritual hope. The Liberal Catholic Church tries to help its members

“to realize the divine Light in themselves - the Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world, but which too often is veiled and hidden by ignorance and wrong-doing - and then to see that Light in the heart of others, and to help them to unveil its divine splendor.” [15]

*  *  *

Bishop Leadbeater’s alleged teachings to certain boys: -
The facts of this situation are apparently well established. Official notice was taken of the matter by The Theosophical Society (Adyar ), as recorded in the following:

“Mrs. Besant wrote strongly to the Esoteric School members saying she regarded his (Leadbeater’s) teaching as something worthy of the strongest reprobation. Further she believed herself deluded in having thought she had stood in the presence of ‘the Highest’ with Mr. Leadbeater, when such had been his actions.” [16]

Bishop Leadbeater was not an official of the Society, but only a member, though a well-known one. It is a matter of deep regret to all Theosophists that this charge stands against the record of a prominent member. But obviously The Theosophical Society cannot be responsible for the actions of one of its members; and since Mrs. Besant officially reproved the action, this naturally relieved the Society itself of any of the discredit which might otherwise attach to it. And [205] this is true despite the fact that she campaigned later for the restoration of the repute of her colleague.

But who of us is free of blemish? Is it not reprehensible for a Theosophist to attempt to profit by another’s mistakes - as was done in this case? Even in business the policy of ‘knocking’ one’s competitor has long been discarded as being repulsive. It is unfortunate that reference had to be made to this matter, but had it not been brought up it is certain that attention would have been called to it.

It strikes this author as singularly in bad taste for any Theosophist to use the physical infirmities of another in order to profit thereby. But this is what has been done. Additionally, certain advances have been made by the medical profession, which now deals with these cases of inversion medically and psychologically. But here was a man who was above the level of the usual case of inversion. To the boys in his care he put his teaching forward as good philosophy. And it so happened that this element of error in C.W. Leadbeater’s life was of a character which is not socially acceptable, hence it drew far more attention and criticism than it would otherwise have drawn. But who of us can say that in the eyes of Divine Justice it weighs any more heavily than our own shortcomings? The fact that there are present in everyone of us, elements of weakness or error, makes a bad case for those who bitterly reproach others. Were these shortcomings not present we would have graduated before now from the human to the divine level. Present in the minds of those who vehemently denounce the errors of a fellow human being, is an assumption that they are superior to the one being stigmatized. Those who are of real superiority - the Masters - do not upbraid [206] or denounce. There are no instances where the Masters have singled out some folly of a member for public disparagement. They rather look upon our weaknesses with the indulgence of a parent, hopeful in the thought that time will bring us that fuller knowledge which will lead us to substitute good for evil actions. The rapping of knuckles is all done on the lower levels, and thus labels the rapper as belonging to those levels.

In any event this incident is an object lesson to the Theosophist of the very great harm than can result from the destruction of the dignity and leadership of The Society - because Bishop Leadbeater was a leader and was held in high esteem. But let us not allow the splendid contributions to Theosophy by him to be obscured. We must recognize that all the leaders of all the Theosophical Societies have their share of faults; but all of them too, have made certain contributions of merit to the Movement which we should not overlook. The duality of human nature is present in all of us. And Jesus said: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”

On January 12, 1907, Colonel Olcott wrote Bishop Leadbeater:

“Concerning the other matter about the disturbance your teachings have caused, both Mahatma M. and Mahatma K.H. assured me you did well to resign; that it was right to call a council to advise upon the matter, and that I did right in accepting your resignation; but They said we were wrong in allowing the matter to be made so public, for your sake and for the good of the Society. They said you should have stated in your resignation, that you resigned because you had offended the standard of ideals of the majority of the members of the Society by giving out certain teachings which were considered objectionable ...
“There is nothing I think that would tend to quell the present turmoil so much (and I should die happy if I knew you [207] had done it), as for you to bow to the Will of the Divine Ones behind the Movement, and save the situation. Certainly Their wisdom is your law as it is ours, and They have told both Annie and myself that your teaching young boys to relieve themselves is wrong. I do implore you from my deathbed to bow to Their judgment in the matter, and make a public statement that you will, and that you will give Them and us your solemn promise to cease giving out such teachings.”

Bishop Leadbeater did thereafter make this promise, and the matter was considered closed.

*  *  *


Much criticism has been made of books on Theosophy written by some of the members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). The contention is that the authors have advanced ideas which are not embodied in the teachings propounded by H.P. Blavatsky. For this reason, the critics claim, such books should not be offered to the public as Theosophy. The term ‘neo-Theosophy’ is used to describe all doctrines which clash with the teachings to be found in H.P.B.’s writings. The books to which this term is usually applied are:

Dreams by C.W. Leadbeater
Invisible Helpers by C.W. Leadbeater
Lives of Alcyone by C.W. Leadbeater
Man: Whence, How and Whither by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater
Occult Chemistry by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater
Science of the Sacraments by C.W. Leadbeater
A Study in Consciousness by Annie Besant [208]

They also praise the earlier writings of Annie Besant as being commendable expositions on Theosophy, such as:

The Ancient Wisdom
In the Outer Court
The Path of Discipleship
The Pedigree of Man
The Wisdom of the Upanishads

As reference works the critics usually point to two books in defence of their position:

Is this Theosophy? by E.E. Wood
Comparison between Theosophy and neo-Theosophy by Margaret Thomas

Professor Wood is a respected scholar and approaches his subject unemotionally and factually. He conceives it to be his duty to point up the differences between the Theosophy of H.P.B. and the Masters, and what is termed neo-Theosophy. He states that some of Mr. Leadbeater’s teachings are not supplementary teachings but are in opposition to those of H.P.B. He believes that it is perfectly all right for a speaker to say:

“This is what Mr. Leadbeater says” - and then hold him responsible for his own origination of doctrine. In that event there need be no quarrel over personalities or teachings, he thinks. Professor Wood spent over two thousand hours with C.W. Leadbeater in connection with his clairvoyant work. In a letter to Mr. Henry Hotchener on July 17, 1947, he said:

“My views with regard to this work now, after looking into it in retrospect, are that there were certainly a number of definite errors, and therefore I cannot regard any particular item as being reliable ... I now think the subject-matter of most of the researches as not of great importance for Theosophy.” [209]

Despite his ideological differences, however, he had warm regard for both Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater, for he wrote of them:

“Regarding Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater - they were grand people, sincere, pure and honest, devoted entirely to the welfare of mankind. I can illustrate this feeling and view by saying that if the Buddha were walking the earth and they were with him among his group of disciples, I think they would be regarded as in the forefront of that group - but they were not free from error!”

In Isis Unveiled, Vol. II, page 544, H.P.B. states that “the apostolic succession is a gross and palpable fraud.” Critics of Mr. Leadbeater point to his statement which runs contrary to this:

“Among students of Church history widely divergent views are held about the origin of Holy Orders. The Roman Church has always maintained that the three Orders (bishop, priest and deacon) were instituted by Christ Himself, and that the first bishops were consecrated by the apostles. Presbyterians and others, not themselves possessing the apostolic succession, contend that in the earliest times bishop and presbyter were synonymous terms ... Clairvoyant investigation into those early periods absolutely confirms the contention of the Roman Church ... They know that there has been no break in the apostolic succession.” [17]

H.P.B.’s assertion above referred to the well-known dogma of certain Christian Churches; but it should be remembered that despite the transparent error in the dogma, the idea from which it took shape is not incorrect: That there is a line of Initiates who preserve the White Lodge throughout the centuries.

Space does not permit a comparison of the many differences in teaching which the critics have pointed up. So we merely make passing mention of a few:

The Mars-Mercury teachings to be found in Man: Whence, How and Whither, on page 7, and in Textbook [210] of Theosophy page 124 and which should be compared with H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine original Vol. I, p.165-166. Also some details of the teaching on Evolution which appear in The Hidden Side of Things (1st Ed., I, pp.116-7) as compared with H.P.B.’s Secret Doctrine (orig. Ed. I, pp.274-275, 277). The student may also wish to compare Mrs. Besant’s thoughts on Vicarious Atonement (See Esoteric Christianity, London Ed. pp.199-200) with H.P,B.’s views (See Isis Unveiled, V 0l.1I, p.542); and likewise her views on Ceremonial (See Adyar Bulletin, March 1920, p.74) with H.P.B.’s writings (See The Theosophist, Oct. 1879, p.4 and Five Years of Theosophy, 1st Ed., pp. 440-41).

One of the more judicious critics writes that there is not the internal authority in Mr. Leadbeater’s books, though new students are attracted toward Theosophy by his facile presentation of difficult ideas. The reading of these books may serve a useful purpose, he thinks, if the reader preserves an open mind and is prepared to discard concepts which do not tally with the greater vision which will dawn upon him after a fuller study of Theosophy. But he regrets the presence of what he calls “the two types of Theosophy” which tend to confuse the inquirer, to the extent that they are incompatible. He believes, however, that the human cry for certainty in occult matters, is one which will not be satisfied for a long time.

It is only fair to point out, however, that there are instances where other prominent writers present ideas which are not in agreement with H.P. Blavatsky’s writings. For instance, W.Q. Judge in his well known work The Ocean of Theosophy states: [211]

“The ‘cell’ is an illusion. It is merely a word. It has no existence as a material thing, for any cell is composed of other cells ... Hence there is no physical cell, but the privative limits of one, the ideal walls and general shape.” [18]

This is in disagreement with H.P. Blavatsky’s thoughts on the subject to be found in her Studies in Occultism - III:

“Occultism regards every atom as an ‘independent entity’ and every cell as a ‘conscious unit’. It explains that no sooner do such atoms group to form cells, than the latter become endowed with consciousness, each of its own kind, and with free will to act within the limits of the law. [19]
“... Indeed, every organ in our body has its own memory. For if it is endowed with a consciousness ‘of its own kind’, every cell must of necessity have also a memory of its own kind, as likewise its own psychic and noetic action.” [20]
“... Every human organ and each cell in the latter has a key-board of its own, like that of a piano, only that it registers and emits sensations instead of sounds.” [21]

The criticisms levelled against the Theosophical Society (Adyar) or its members on account of their books should, if valid, be restricted to the authors themselves as individuals, and not be directed against the Society of which they are members.

The question of responsibility arises here: Is the Theosophical Society (Adyar) or The Theosophical Publishing House of Adyar, responsible for the contents of a book written by a member of the Theosophical Society? The only possible answer is that they are not. Furthermore the publisher and the seller of any book are not responsible for any of the ideas which the author expresses except when such ideas are forbidden by law. For instance in some countries there are laws forbidding the publication of criticism of the Government; in others, criticism of the King is forbidden (lèse-majesté); and in most, the publication [212] of pornographical literature is prohibited. In these cases the publisher and the author are responsible; but not otherwise.

C.W. Leadbeater was not listed as an official of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), nor was he a member of the General Council at the time of its incorporation on April 3, 1905. The General Council is the Governing Body of the Society.

G.S. Arundale, late President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar), admonishes us against the identification of Theosophy with any particular book:

“Our Society, our Sections, our Lodges, lose sight of their Dedication - unwritten though it be - if officially they identify Theosophy with any book or with any person.” [22]

Moreover, we are not compelled by the rules of membership to read any books on Theosophy. If we were, then the Theosophical Society could be charged with being dogmatic.

But even if we reject Leadbeater’s books or the books of others, we can still be united in one Society, if we are in agreement on the Objects. And is it not better to read all the books on a subject, as do other schools of learning, even if they are in some respects wrong? We might get one good idea from them, and that would be enough to justify their reading. Every Theosophist has the right to write a book, but his books do not bind the Theosophical Society.

Man: Whence, How and Whither? has been referred to as a distinct departure from the concepts of Theosophy enunciated by H.P. Blavatsky. But its title page states that it is “a record of clairvoyant investigation.” And in the Introduction the authors acknowledge the difficulties inherent in such an investigation due to [213] “their uncompleted evolution” and they “take the responsibility of all errors entirely on themselves.”

Other critics take the view that because the book is based on the use of the psychic powers, it should be rejected. It is only a trained occultist, they feel, that can use these powers with any degree of accuracy. These criticisms are based on the assumption, however, that some document exists, signed by a Theosophical Voice of Authority in which Theosophy is declared to consist of certain beliefs and no others. But though it is useful and desirable to call attention to variations between ideas advanced by H.P.B. and the Masters, and those put forward by later students, we must be careful to avoid the entrance of any Theosophical orthodoxy. The Masters did not leave us a Theosophical Bible with which to compare every new treatise on Theosophy. This would represent a crystallization of thought such as we condemn in the religions. A Resolution passed on December 23, 1924, by the General Council of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) reads in part:

As the T.S. has spread far and wide over the civilized world, and as members of all religions have become members of it without surrendering the special dogmas, teachings and beliefs of their respective faiths, it is thought desirable to emphasize that there is no doctrine, no opinion, by whomsoever taught or held, that is in any way binding on any member of the Society, none which any member is not free to accept or reject ...

This underscores the broad platform which energizes the various activities of the Society. There is no mention of what Theosophy is or what it is not in the Objects of the Theosophical Societies. The members are not bound by the limitations of any catechism. This freedom is not unlimited, in a sense, as it must [214] necessarily remain within the scope of the Objects of the Theosophical Society. But the way some Theosophists act towards each other is tantamount to saying:

I will admit that you are a fellow-Theosophist if your interpretation of Theosophy coincides with mine.

The Resolution quoted above was adopted during a period of time in which Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater were publishing a number of volumes which have received sharp criticism; and as both were prominent members of The Society, it follows a priori that they did not intend to put forth their views in any of their books as doctrines which their followers were expected to believe. Members were not required to even read these books. Theosophy remained exactly as before - not crystallized into a catechism. The books, whether good or bad, represent the efforts of individual members in their legitimate pursuit of one of the Objects of the Society.

The question as to whether or not these or any other books are or are not so-called ‘pure Theosophy,’ is another matter altogether. This involves a defining of the term ‘pure Theosophy,’ which in turn involves an agreement in the nature of a Concordat. But all real Theosophical scholars will refuse to consider such a Concordat for reasons previously discussed. The reader may find, as did this writer, that many of the ideas in Man: Whence, How and Whither, are unacceptable, yet he would be well advised to assume the same broad attitude which motivated H.P.B.’s article in Lucifer, quoted later. She felt that no views, if sincere, were destitute of truth.

G. de Purucker, formerly head of The Theosophical Society (Point Loma) also rejected such a Concordat, though it was suggested by “a number of prominent [215] Theosophical thinkers.” In his address at the H.P.B. Centennial Conference in London on June 24, 1931, he said it would not be “in accord with our broad and universal Theosophical Tradition. We must keep Theosophy undogmatic, free from even the suggestion of any doctrinal asseverations in the form of a Credo or a list of doctrinal teachings to which all must subscribe.”

The reason for not dealing in these pages with all books which the critics have denounced as pseudo-Theosophy, are two:

a. It is not the scope of this writing to review such books, nor to classify them as apocryphal or canonical
b. Reunification of Theosophists does not depend upon such a review or classification

There is nothing in the purposes of the original T.S. which denies membership to one who writes a book which could be termed neo-Theosophical. If we all agree on the cornerstones of Theosophy, on which the original Society was founded, would it not be more brotherly to reunite first and decide later on what books are to be considered good Theosophy and what are not? Our proposal is to buy the Theosophical edifice as it is today. Let all the estranged members of the family agree to join hands and live in it. It can then be made habitable for all.

*  *  *

A most striking contrast is to be found between the present parochial policy of condemning Theosophists for the books they write, and the broad policy of H.P.B., as outlined in an article appearing in her magazine [216] Lucifer some seventy years ago, entitled “What is Truth?” She stated that “no philosophical or religious views are excluded from its pages,” for one could extract truth from an incorrect as much as from a correct statement. The reader, she felt, should have the opportunity of comparing, analyzing and choosing from the different views set forth. Lucifer, she said “deems no views if sincere - entirely destitute of truth. It respects thinking men, to whatever class of thought they may belong.” She was willing to concede that the premises and statements of fact of a writer might be quite correct, and yet she would disagree with his conclusions; but she thought it wise to let her readers “profit by the adverse philosophy” if possible, even though believing that the Theosophists had “something higher and still nearer to the truth.”

For the benefit of those who are severe in denouncing books such as Man: Whence, How, and Whither? another observation by H.P.B. is offered. When the Society for Psychical Research was founded in London on February 20, 1882, she wrote in The Theosophist, Vol. III, July 1882, p.239:

“It was intended, in founding the British Theosophical Society, our London Branch, to cover this exact ground ... While something has, certainly, been done in that direction, yet for the lack of the help of scientific men, like those who have joined to found this new Society, the progress has been relatively slow. In all our Branches there is more of a tendency to devote time to reading books and papers and propounding theories, than to experimental research in the department of Mesmerism, Psychometry, Odyle (Reichenbach’s New Force), and Mediumism. This should be changed, for the subjects above-named are the keys to all the world’s Psychological Science from the remotest antiquity down to our time ... Let us, by all means, have an international, rather than a local, investigation of the most important of all subjects of human study - PSYCHOLOGY.” [217]

In the face of these remarks by our Teacher H.P.B. are we not justified in being less provincial in our attitude towards those books which are not considered ‘pure Theosophy’? The reader’s attention is called to the dissatisfaction which H.P.B. expresses over the tendency of the Theosophists “to read papers and propound theories” instead of devoting time to “experimental research in Mesmerism, Psychometry and Mediumism.” She wanted this procedure changed. But is it changed yet? The aridity of some of our lectures at public meetings is the impeachment of our policy and the answer to the question. And the lack of public response in some quarters is deplorable. It might be added that this experimental research has largely been done by numerous non-Theosophical groups, who thereby profit considerably in gaining a large public following. These groups research and investigate along the lines above recommended by H.P.B. How much better it would be if qualified Theosophists were to do this kind of research work! Better, perhaps, because the conclusions reached would be based upon the knowledge gained through a study of Theosophy. Books containing facts and data based on scientific experiments and research should be written. The deductions made by the author need not be accepted as unquestionable, but they would be more likely to be correct than the conclusions of one who is not a Theosophical scholar.

We need to distinguish between

a. Facts and Happenings
b. Our Observations of the above
c. Our Conclusions [218]

These three levels are apt to cause us trouble, if we jump too quickly from one to the other, or if we skip the second level altogether. We must make accurate observations of Happenings. If we do not we are not observing the Facts; we are not passing them along correctly to our readers, hence our Conclusions will suffer. Scientists do not always agree in their conclusions resulting from experiments and research in the field of exact science. It is reasonable, then, to expect still less agreement in a field which is less exact, and in which observations and researches are more difficult to make. It may be assumed that in many cases, even the ‘facts’ related by the author of such a book, may not be too well established. In the case of Man: Whence, How and Whither? it is permissible to doubt the facts which the authors observe and report, and the Foreword invites us to do so. Therefore we should not attempt to undermine the integrity of the authors nor the value of their work.

*  *  *

Another book which has drawn criticism is Occult Chemistry, authored jointly by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater. Here again, in justice to the authors, we must read all that is printed, including the Foreward. It is here stated that the book is offered as a series of observations, but is subject to checking “by fuller and repeated investigations.” The opening paragraph relates that the researches contained in the book are offered tentatively, and are subject to suggestions from students better acquainted with chemistry than the authors. They tell us that the method of examination employed was clairvoyance but that their observations [219] can not be regarded as established until others have corroborated them.

In addressing the Annual Convention in 1905 Annie Besant made it clear that while there is unity on “one strong rock, that of universal brotherhood,” the Society guaranteed complete freedom to the individual on every other point of intellectual opinion. She wanted her views to have only such authority as comes to them “from the truth they contain.” This liberal view contrasts sharply with those of her critics.

*  *  *

A defence of Mr. Leadbeater’s books is found in Peace Lodge (England), Papers No. 21, written in November 1950 by T.H. Redfern:

“Whatever his shortcomings he had great qualities. He was heavily assailed, but who can point to or tell of a single sentence of his with a venomous or vengeful tone? For my part I was helped by his writings when I needed help, and accordingly I am grateful to him.”

Mr. Redfern recommends that students should use their own good sense and judgment in making a fair comparison of the Blavatsky body of thought with Leadbeater’s ideas, note where they agree and disagree, and allow the reader to form his own conclusions “uninfluenced by acrimony or partisanship.” He believes these books should be read, but that the views of those who consider them misleading should also be considered.

Mr. Leadbeater himself once replied to a critic of his psychic studies:

“That which I see I put on record when it seems to me of interest; whether people accept it is exclusively their affair, not mine. It is open to any man to doubt whether I have observed correctly, or to suppose me to have been in error in [220] my deductions; but he has no possible right to accuse me of bad faith because he does not agree with what I have seen. … I make no claim to infallibility ...”

Need we inquire into the nature of ‘pure-Theosophy’ as contrasted with ‘neo- Theosophy’? If we do it will involve an inquiry into the epistemological basis of Theosophy. If the purpose of the ‘pure-Theosophist’ is solely to call attention to departures from the teachings of H.P.B., then theirs is a legitimate field of activity. But if they do not respect the beliefs of fellow-Theosophists and if they form Societies or groups which insulate themselves from the activities of other groups, merely because of attachment to restricted interpretations of Theosophy - how can this be called legitimate in view of the broad platform which the Founders erected? Is it not the very intolerance which they sought to avoid?

In urging a more catholic attitude on the part of fellow members throughout the Movement, the overlooking of error or willful fraud and insincerity is not being advocated.

An attitude which we should bring to our Theosophical reading is that advocated by Emerson when he said:

“Do you know the secret of the true scholar? In every man there is something wherein I may learn of him, and in that I am his pupil.”

A comment often made about The Theosophical Society (Adyar) by members of other groups is that reference to H.P.B.’s books is omitted in public gatherings. But when Geoffrey Hodson, considered one of the Society’s ablest speakers, was addressing a public session of the West Coast Conference of Theosophists on November 27, 1955, in San Francisco, [221] he stated that if he were asked what book contains the key teachings he would without hesitation say The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky.

*  *  *

This has been a difficult discussion to undertake, for it has to do with matters around which a great deal of bigoted feeling has accumulated throughout the years - and this feeling is at times almost fanatical. There are those who feel that Theosophy was formulated by H.P.B., W.Q. Judge and others and that no other formulations are permissible. This is equivalent to asserting that Theosophy must remain static. This belief has hardened into a dogmatic attitude and is found in some of the Theosophical groups today. The holding of this view tends to suppress freedom of expression and investigation and is therefore to be avoided by all means. It is this same hardening of the mind which brings crystallization into any religious group. It looks with suspicion on any independent research by students. The existence of books and treatises on Theosophy which do not fully coincide with the writings of H.P.B. and W.Q. Judge constitutes to them a stumbling-block to Theosophical unity. But this attitude, while understandable, does not fully harmonize with the other Theosophical facts of life previously referred to: The breadth of platform which understructures the Movement, the freedom of expression which the Society grants, and more notably than all, the dissimilarity of the faiths and creeds which the individual members bring into the Movement when they join the Society. How can Theosophists possibly reconcile these facts with their own present policies, which seek to castigate other groups of Theosophists [222] because of books they have written? This issue is one of the greatest, but least warranted, of all the stumbling-blocks to the reassociation of all Theosophists into one Society.

How can any group claim that they, and only they, are giving out the Truth, when all they can do, in actual fact, is to reveal that very small portion of it which they understand? Surely a more rational attitude is called for, one which will be more in line with the accepted standards of our regular institutions of learning. These encourage investigations and researches in a variety of fields, and the results are the theses of the students - which, however, in no sense bind their alma mater. Theses which follow in later years, might upset the conclusions of the previous generation of students, but each thesis, nevertheless, has some value.

Is it not the genius of the T.S., that it has the power to unite divergent religious groups around that central basis upon which all human progress is based - brotherhood? After committing themselves to this ideal, they thereafter agree on essentials, though disagreeing on less basic commitments. This idea of the Founders was a bold one, capable of success if the component units clung to the Basic Commitment. The intervening years, however, have seen the Theosophists paying too much attention to the things which disunite. It is felt that one of the activities which act in this manner is the disposition to make a great issue of the books with which we do not agree. If H.P.B. could welcome to the pages of Lucifer the views of those who were unfriendly to her, and those holding ideas which were opposed to hers, why must the Theosophists of a later era set up a more exclusive standard, a standard which [223] clashes openly with H.P.B.’s liberal viewpoint?

Nothing in the foregoing discussion is intended to be an endorsement or otherwise of the books under review.

*  *  *

In a Message to the members of The Theosophical Society published in the December 1949 issue of The American Theosophist, and said to have been inspired by a Master, the following words, appropriate to this discussion, are found:

“Within the Society itself let the Brotherhood for which it stands be real. We have had enough of divisions which separate. Let there remain only distinctions which enrich ... No one need or should leave the Society because he disagrees with other members, be they who they may. But a member might well have reason to leave if his membership is made intolerable by those who disagree with him ... Let no orthodoxy be set up in Our Society. Good members of Our Society, members whom we at any rate honor, are all who strive to live brotherly lives, be their opinions what they may, about Ourselves or about aught else. We do not ask members of the Society as a whole to hold aught in common save the first great object upon which We receive them into this outer court of Our Temple. But holding that object, honor demands that they shall maintain the Brotherhood they profess to accept, by insuring to others that same freedom which they rightly claim for themseslves. We welcome differences of opinion so be it that they are held and expressed in a brotherly spirit, courteously, generously, gently, however firmly. There is room in Our Society for any number of opinions and beliefs, however divergent, provided that those who hold them treat as brothers those with whom they have to disagree, whose opinions they may even feel constrained actively to oppose. Let it never be forgotten that all life is one, even though its forms may sometimes seem to clash.”

Why, then, are there several Theosophical Societies today which do not even communicate with each other?


[1] The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, compiled by A.T. Barker, p.342, T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1923
[2] The 75th Anniversary Book of the T.S., p.201, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1950
[3] The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, p.113
[4] Ibid, p.20
[4]* Scientific Proofs of the Existence of the Soul by Prof. Benito F. Reyes, The Lotus Press, Manila, Philippines, 1949
[5] Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, p.3
[6] Studies in Occultism, I by H.P. Blavatsky, p.3
[7] Theosophy and the New Psychology by Annie Besant, p.107, The Theosophical Publishing Society, London
[8] The Ancient Wisdom by Annie Besant, p.97
[9] The Masters and the Path by C.W. Leadbeater, p.120, 1945 Ed.
[10] The Key to Theosophy by H.P. Blavatsky, p.48
[11] Ibid, p.48
[12] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.497
[13] The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, p.215
[14] Freedom and Friendship by G.S. Arundale, p.26, 1935 Ed.
[15] Liberal Catholic Church leaflet No.5, p.11
[16] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.360
[17] Science of the Sacraments by C.W. Leadbeater, pp.282-286
[18] The Ocean of Theosophy by W.Q. Judge, p.37
[19] Studies in Occultism by H.P. Blavatsky, III, p.31, Published by Aryan Theosophical Press, Point Loma, Calif., 1910
[20] Ibid, p.38
[21] Ibid, p.39
[22] Freedom and Friendship by G.S. Arundale, p.470-71, 1935 Ed.

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