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Re: Theos-World To Don: On the Teachings of Besant, Leadbeater & Bailey

Sep 13, 2007 11:54 AM
by Scribe

Hi, Daniel,

Thanks for your educational and heartfelt reply.

I asked:

"Should we throw out the baby with the bath water?"

"Should we discount everything she (or Besant or Leadbeater) says...."

You answered:

"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." 

That was all I said in my previous post.

You added:

"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."

I agree. As for myself I did study the works of HPB before I started to read the others, although, like I intimated, over the years things do tend to get intermixed, and that's what I need to sort out.

As for others, especially new-comers who feel impelled to study more of the Ancient Wisdom, I suggest making the differentiation that has been made in American politics with the "Conservatives"--the distinction is made between the original "paleo" Conservatism as promulgated by the Founding Fathers and the original country itself, then the new "neo" Conservatism as preached by ex-commies and Liberals. To give you a case in point: A paleo-Conservative would never have invaded Iraq, raised taxes or been irresponsible in fiscal or social government. The opposite has happened to my country and even the Liberals who love it know enough to call our self-styled  "conservative" administration "neo-Conservatives." 

As we know--and that's what we're talking about--there's been a confusion and admixture in the term 'Theosophy'. My point being perhaps we should either only call HPB's original Theosophy by that appelation, or call hers 'paleo-Theosophy' and the other later ones 'neo-Theosophy'. 

It seems to me making a clear distinction of HPB's teachings at the outset helps to maintain the importance of them, as well as give a clear guide to students. We could say hers is the "authorized" Theosophy, or, if the name and title 'theosophy' has been appropriated by copy-cats, charlatans, or just misguided souls, we could release the term 'theosophy' to them if they have desecrated it so much, and in return label HPB's theosophical works simply the "Ancient Wisdom," or compilation thereof.


  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: danielhcaldwell 
  Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2007 2:02 PM
  Subject: Theos-World To Don: On the Teachings of Besant, Leadbeater & Bailey

  Hi Don,

  Thanks for your posting at:

  I have several comments.

  You say:

  "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 
  Bailey at:

  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 
  Theosophic doctrine."

  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 
  these words:

  "...[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.

  Again Kuhn:

  "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" 
  of HPB????

  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 
  to them." 

  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!!!



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