To Don: On the Teachings of Besant, Leadbeater & Bailey
Sep 13, 2007 11:03 AM
Thanks for your posting at:
I have several comments.
"Should we discount everything she [Bailey] (or Besant or Leadbeater)
says because we find one or two differences with another teaching that
we've spent so much time and brain-intuition-heart-power on?"
First of all, are we talking about ONLY "one or two differences"???
Go back and look at the the many differences listed in the papers on
Also look at the NUMEROUS differences cataloged in the Besant-
Leadbeater critique done by Margaret Thomas:
As Alvin Boyd Kuhn summaries the Thomas findings:
"The differences concern such matters as the personality of God, the
historicity of Jesus, his identity as an individual or a principle,
the desirability of churches, priestcraft and religious ceremonial,
the genuineness of an apostolic succession, and a vicarious
atonement, the authority of Sacraments, the nature and nomenclature
of the seven planes of man's constitution, the planetary chains, the
monad, the course of evolution, and many other important phases of
Seems like a pretty big catalog of differences!
And secondly, are we discussing only MINOR trivial differences or are
we dealing with major doctrinal differences?
As A.B. Kuhn summarizes it:
"[The Thomas material] indicate[s] wide deviations, in some cases
complete reversal, made by the later interpreters [Besant,
Leadbeater, Jinarajadasa] from the FUNDAMENTAL statements of the
Russian Messenger [Blavatsky] and her Overlords [the Mahatmas]." caps
The scholar Dr. James Santucci characterizes the differences with
"...[the] new teachings [of Besant and Leadbeater] ... were often in
total opposition to the Theosophy of [Madame H.P.] Blavatsky and her
Notice the description: TOTAL OPPOSITION.
"This exhaustive research has made it apparent that the later
exponents have allowed themselves to depart in MANY IMPORTANT POINTS
from the teachings of H.P.B." caps added.
And I notice that even you write about Bailey:
"I do see IMPORTANT divergences from HPB-Theosophy hierarchies in her
books...." caps added.
Furthermore, I have always asked myself: why the divergences, the
Take just one of them: Leadbeater's teaching on life after death.
Master KH in his numerous letters to Sinnett over several years
propounds a consistent teaching on the states of
consciousness/unconsciousness after death. He spents a great deal of
time trying to clarify the views about the bardo states, correcting
Mr. Sinnett's mispreceptions time and time again.
And yet we then find Mr. Leadbeater advocating what amounts to the
spiritualistic view of life after death which clearly contradicts
what the Master had been teaching.
Why is this? Why? I suggest we should be seriously ruminating on
why such contradictions.....
Or take the Mars/Mercury controversy. See:
"Mistakes have now to be checked by the original teachings and
You would think that what HPB had written on the subject would settle
the matter, but we find later Besant and Leadbeater teaching what
Sinnett had originally written before HPB corrected the teaching.
You also ask:
"Should we throw out the baby with the bath water?"
"Should we discount everything she (or Besant or Leadbeater) says...."
I would say, No, we shouldn't discount everything! Speaking for
myself, I have found some value in some of the writings of Besant,
Leadbeater and Bailey.
But the problem is that it is extremely hard to read the works of
Besant, Leadbeater and Bailey and to be able to judge the real worth
of what they write.
By that, I mean they claim to follow in the footsteps of HPB, they
claim that they are in contact with the same Masters that HPB was in
contact with, they claim that they are giving out the same Theosophy
as HPB. But without knowing what HPB first claimed and first taught,
I would suggest that it is extremely difficult to be in a position to
evaluate the worth of the writings of the later writers if one
doesn't know the writings and teachings of HPB.
William Doss McDavid writes:
"We have to remember that the modern Theosophical movement owes its
very existence to H.P.B. and the Masters, whose faithful agent she
claimed to be. It would be extremely unwise to reject the teachings
given through her without understanding what those teachings really
were in the first place. And how can we acquire this understanding if
we do not study her writings? We don't have to blindly accept what
she says or take her views as the last word, but at least we should
become familiar with those views firsthand. Then we can reject or
accept intelligently. When the works of other and later writers who
claim to be continuing the work begun by H.P.B. present viewpoints
and 'revelations' which are at direct variance with the original
lines of teaching, we may feel justified in questioning the source of
the newer pronouncements. A familiarity with the original writings,
therefore, provides a criterion for intelligent judgment."
Yet who has a "familiarity with the original writings"??? How many
students have such a familiarity???
A former president of the Adyar TS wrote:
"The percentage of members, who have not as yet
ever read any books by H.P. Blavatsky is
regrettably high." The Theosophist, Feb., 1975
"There's a great need for the deepening of the
individual member's understanding of theosophy.
A lot of people skate superfically over the
surface of theosophy without really going into
it in depth." The Theosophist, Dec. 1975.
So how many have the needed "familiarity with the original writings"
And last but not least, was HPB herself and the Masters themselves
also concerned about "distortions" of their teachings, of what could
be called "Pseudo-Theosophy"?
See a compilation of mine on this very subject:
On Pseudo-Theosophy and Pseudo-Adepts
Since I value the teachings of Theosophy as given by HPB and her
Masters, I also take to heart what is written in the above
compilation on "Pseudo-Theosophy and Pseudo-Adepts."
In this compilation, HPB wrote:
"The great evil of the whole thing is, not that the truths of
Theosophy are adopted by these blind teachers, for we should gladly
welcome any spread, by whatever means, of ideals so powerful to wean
the world from its dire materialism - but that they [the truths of
Theosophy] are so interwoven with mis-statements and absurdities that
the wheat cannot be winnowed from the chaff, and ridicule, if not
worse, is brought to bear upon. . . [the Theosophical]
movement. . . ."
Yes, how does one winnow the wheat from the chaff? Especially when
one doesn't even know that there may be chaff mixed in with the
Certainly Master KH himself seemed concerned about the "disfiguring"
of the Theosophical teachings when he wrote to A.P. Sinnett:
"I dread the appearance in print of our philosophy as expounded by
Mr. H[ume]. I read his three essays or chapters on God (?)
cosmogony and glimpses of the origin of things in general, and had
to cross out nearly all. He makes of us Agnostics!! We do not
believe in God because so far, we have no proof, etc. This is
preposterously ridiculous: if he publishes what I read, I will have
H.P.B. or Djual Khool deny the whole thing; as I cannot permit our
sacred philosophy to be so disfigured. He says that people will not
accept the whole truth; that unless we humour them with a hope that
there may be a 'loving Father and creator of all in heaven' our
philosophy will be rejected a priori. In such a case the less such
idiots hear of our doctrines the better for both. If they do not
want the whole truth and nothing but the truth, they are welcome.
But never will they find us -- (at any rate) -- compromising with,
and pandering to public prejudices."
So if Hume could disfigure the teachings, could Besant, Leadbeater
and Bailey have also disfigured the teachings? Could some of these
"contradictions" mentioned above actually be "disfiguring" Theosophy?
And notice what HPB wrote in THE SECRET DOCTRINE:
"The publication of many of the facts herein stated has been rendered
necessary by the wild and fanciful speculation in which many
Theosophists and students of mysticism have indulged, during the last
few years, in their endeavour to, as they imagined, work out a
complete system of thought from the few facts previously communicated
So I ask, could Bailey, Besant and Leadbeater have also "indulged"
in "wild and fanciful speculation"?
Could some of these "wild and fanciful speculations" mentioned above
actually be "disfiguring" Theosophy?
Plus also consider what HPB and the Masters wrote on "psychism":
Psychic VERSUS Initiate Visions & Knowledge
I don't have the time to go over this material but I would simply
suggest that what is contained in this compilation has A GREAT DEAL
OF RELEVANCE to the major issues you and I are writing about.
In summary, Don, you yourself will have to study this material for
yourself and try to come to your own conclusions. I do hope that you
will in this process also study quite carefully what HPB wrote and
taught on all these points.
Personally I don't think there are any easy answers on these issues
but I do believe that there are insights to be gained.
I'm hoping that maybe some of us can delve more deeply on Theos-Talk
into some of these issues. We tend here to be somewhat superficial
in our discussions and I sometimes get the impression [I could be
wrong!] that many on Theos-Talk don't want to really discuss in a
calm and intelligent way these difficult and controversial matters.
In a rush since I'm working on a big project right now!!!
[Back to Top]
Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application