Under the Façade of Liberty
Mar 02, 2006 02:18 PM
by carlosaveline cardoso aveline
For extra-clarity, I am using double quotation marks in the paragraphs
written by E. Wood. Carlos.
Ernest Wood, ex-international secretary (Adyar), gives his testimony:
LIBERTY OF THOUGHT, OR LIBERTY BUT TO SAY “YES” and “AMEN”?
Fraternal greetings from my 3,000 volumes library, which is surrounded by
trees and birds and located in an area of environmental protection in
Besides having been the international secretary of the Adyar Society for
many years, Ernest Wood was also a candidate to the international
presidency in the election when George Arundale got the office, in the
Wood describes the moment when he perceived that the idea of liberty of
thought had become just a façade, under which everyone must obey and
exercise blind belief:
“"As the new tendency in the theosophical movement increased it offended me
more and more. My object all along had been to sift the gold from the ore,
but now it seemed that the ore was growing more and the gold less.
Theoretically there was freedom of thought and opinion, and the Society was
a truth-seeking body, and our truth-seeking was to be done as a brotherhood,
without distinction of race, sex, creed or colour. In this spirit we were to
study and investigate for the promotion of knowledge of the truth,
especially about man, his relation to his environment and his destiny. But
in practice there was more than a tendency to give the platform to the
believer and to squeeze out the critic or the independent thinker. Instead
of the subjection of all doctrines to a co-operative inquisition, ‘You
must respect the faith of your fellow-members’.”"
“"By 1925 prayers of all materially powerful religions were introduced in
the Society’s official platform, and the movement definitely degenerated
into a brotherhood of creeeds. Criticism of other people’s ideas became
‘unbrotherly!’ And besides, it ‘spoiled the work’, and the work was
largely a conveyance of blessings and forces by those who were admitted to
the systems of organized access to these things. On these grounds offices
were filled, and invitations were issued to leaders to preside and lecture
at the Society’s gatherings nearly all over the world. (...)”"
"“Bishop Leadbeater and his agents were eminent in the theosophical weakness
of wanting things both ways at once, though that was quite illogical. The
Society must be quite without dogma, and yet its councils must be governed
and its platforms occupied by those who were eager to promote certain
beliefs, leaderships and objectives, and members who opposed these must be
kept in the background.”"
To this “having both ways at once”, as expressed in authoritarian political
ideologies, the English author George Orwell gave the name of
“doublethink” in his remarkable though far from optimistic novel “1984”,
written in 1948.
Leadbeater and Besant in Adyar were contemporary with Mussolini in Italy,
Stalin in Russia, and with the rising of Hitler in Germany, and all of them
used the authoritarian way of thinking called “doublethink” by Orwell. That
sort of thinking is slightly outdated. It is time to improve.
Fortunately or unfortunately, there is no actual separation between Adyar
and the other theosophical groups and institutions. We must all dialogue our
way into some more realistic way of reasoning in the future.
Adyar shortcomings are by no means limited to Adyar itself. No one is
Everyone makes mistakes, and many of us try to learn from them.
That will be easier if we stop seeing criticisms as “attacks”, and abandon
the emotional blackmail which forbids independent thinking. Thus truth can
be gradually put above bias of any kind.
Best regards, Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
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(1) “Is This Theosophy?”, by Ernest Egerton Wood, London: Rider& Co.,
Paternoster House, E.C., 1936, 318 pp., facsimile edition by Kessinger
Publishing, LLC, Kila, MT, USA. See p. 301.
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