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Leadbeater and the Movement 1906 - 2006

Apr 04, 2006 07:08 AM
by carlosaveline cardoso aveline




Dear Friends,

One hundred years ago, in April 1906, a scandal exploded like a bomb in the Adyar Theosophical Society.

It was the first of the sex scandals involving children, created by C. W. Leadbeater.

Henry Olcott was alive and presided the Society. The Adyar T.S. Historian Josephine Ransom reports in her book “A Short History of the Theosophical Society” that the process started in February, when the director of the Adyar Esoteric Shool in the USA, Mrs. Dennis, wrote a letter to Annie Besant, the head of the School denouncing Leadbeater for immorality.

In the letter, Mrs. Dennis said:

1) Leadbeater was “teaching boys given into his care demoralizing personal practices”.

2) Leadbeater was “doing this with deliberate intent and under the guise of occult training or with the promise of an increase of physical manhood”.

3) Leadbeater “had demanded, at least in one case, promise of utmost secrecy”. (1)

In April 1906 the issue came to the hands of Olcott and the investigation started. Confronted with the facts, Leadbeater confessed : the pseudo-clairvoyant was “teaching masturbation” to young boys.

Annie Besant then said she entirely disagreed with Leadbeater’s “advices” and “teachings” to the boys. Preparatory steps were taken for the expelling of Leadbeater from the Society. The process would start from his own theosophical Lodge. The presidential delegate in charge of the issue, Mr. R.A. Burnett, took a clear position, as Josephine Ransom reports:

“If Mr. Leadbeater agreed to resign all connection with the Adyar Society and its work, it was understood the prosecution before his Lodge would not be pressed: if not, his expulsion from the Society was called for.” (2)

The false clairvoyant resigned from the Theosophical Society. C. Jinarajadasa, who defended Leadbeater’s innocence, was led to resign too.

Mr. Henry Olcott started to deliver public talks about “The Dangers of Psychism”, an obvious warning about what had happened to C. W. Leadbeater. But for some reason, weeks later, H. Olcott got gravely ill and the karmic tide changed.

As soon as Olcott died, in February 1907, Leadbeater disciples invented some messages from the Mahatmas suggesting his innocence, and he came back to the Theosophical Society. With him, came back the sex scandals.

Several influential members then abandoned the Society. But Besant depended on Leadbeater’s “clairvoyance” to stimulate her own fancies that she was an initiate and that Adyar was in contact with the Masters. She needed him, and soon Leadbeater was visiting physical plane houses and cities in Mercury and Mars; examining Martian extensive agriculture; and describing its politics and culture.

Here on earth, Leadbeater started preparing the young boy Jiddu Krishnamurti to be “Lord Christ”. He announced that this new Messiah would end all wars in the 20th century. Every armed forces would be dissolved, since Julius Caesar would reappear together with the Christ to create a world government. Leadbeater said this was absolutely sure – after all he had full contact with, and frequently talked to, “Lord Christ” in person.

Most of such absurdities are in Leadbeater’s books. This is the reason why many of his books have been silently disappearing from bookstores since the 1950s.

What do the present-day Adyar authorities think about this? Anyone who talks about C.W. Leadbeater to Mrs. Radha Burnier will observe the president of the Adyar TS does not actively defend him as a person, nor as an author, and much less as a “clairvoyant”. Ms. Radha does not defend Leadbeater publically or in private. She only recomends to the questioners – “not to make too much noise about this”.

Such has been the policy since the 1930s. This “selective silence” in fact expresses a subtle denial of reality and a disrespect for actual facts which but conceals a lack of courage to face them in an open way.

In the first decade of the 21st century, it is too late to go on with this. There are better things to do.

Both the Adyar TS and the theosophical movement as a whole have a lot to gain from the acceptance of true facts. Key, positive lessons will be learned when people calmly examine the incredible mistakes of the Besant/Leadbeater period. There is no reason to keep on with a policy of denial. After all, we all know that there is no religion, or corporate interest, higher than Truth.

Far from being “defeated”, by accepting the facts of History the Adyar Society will only expand its horizons and rediscover the importance of Truthfulness. It will get rid of rituals, rites and the false clairvoyance that led to them. It will be able once more to study and live the real Theosophy of H.P.B. and the Masters. This may happen in a few decades, perhaps.

What about the rest of the movement? As Adyar improves, many of the difficulties of the non-Adyar groups and institutions will disappear. The reason for this is that the movement is only one, and its inner magnetic field is the same. No “separation” is possible at the occult level.

On the other hand, Adyar must not be seen as a scapegoat. Common sense says that Adyar is far from having the monopoly of mistakes in the movement. Everyone must improve. No one owns truth.

An active co-responsibility for the future of the movement belongs to each and to all of us, whether we are independent theosophists or members and associates of this or that organization.

Best regards, Carlos Cardoso Aveline.

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(1) “A Short History of the Theosophical Society”, by Josephine Ransom, TPH, first edition 1938, first reprint 1989, 589 pp., see p. 356.

(2) “A Short History of the Theosophical Society”, p. 358.

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