Geoffrey Farthing´s Manifesto
Dec 10, 2010 10:10 PM
Mr. Geoffrey Farthing was one of the main Adyar Theosophists in the
period after the second world war.
He also was the most outspoken and best known voice in defense of the
original theosophy in Adyar Society since the 1920s.
He had much in common with Mr. B. P. Wadia. The difference being that
Mr. Wadia left Adyar to help the growth of the United Lodge of
Theosophists in 1922, while Farthing remained within Adyar up to his
death in 2004.
I reproduce below some of the most important parts of this 1996
Manifesto on the future of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
Best regards, Joaquim.
FROM GEOFFREY FARTHING'S 1996 MANIFESTO
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY AND ITS FUTURE
SECOND GENERATION THEOSOPHY
The fact that neither Annie Besant nor CWL, after maybe one or two
initial incidents, was actually in touch with any Master although they
may have genuinely believed they were has serious implications when
considering what they said and did when they assumed positions of
The whole tenor of the Society thereafter was one of make-believe! It
became a pantomime, largely devised and orchestrated by CWL: a fairy
story, but with a thread of truth running through it.
Except for passing references to HPB as 'our revered teacher', her
literature as such was seldom referred to or studied. There was,
however, a flood of literature purporting to be 'theosophical' from both
Annie Besant and CWL, and later from others.
CWL's writings were largely colored by his own real or imaginary
clairvoyant insights and his interpretations of them.
It is noteworthy here that, in the HPB/Masters literature there is
little reference to, and no diagrams of, the Chakras so much featured by
later writers. What little there is is in the papers to the Inner Group
(incorporated by Annie Besant into her Vol III of the S.D.)
Whereas the Annie Besant and CWL literature can be criticized from a
purely theosophical point of view, much of what Annie Besant wrote was
significant spiritual instruction. It was, however, of the conventional,
classical religious type, derived largely from the Indian scriptures but
with a Christian and a 'theosophical' flavor.
She had reviewed THE SECRET DOCTRINE at the time of its publication;
this must have made a lasting impression on her but apart from
acknowledging her debt to HPB, she seldom, if ever, specifically
referred back to its teaching, or to that in THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY.
CWL seems never to have read either of these books. He puts himself in a
very false position as an 'occult' author in the Introduction to his
book THE ASTRAL PLANE where he says that his manuscript was considered
so excellent as an exposition that the Masters wanted it for their
It is difficult to see why this should be; much of the information given
us in the book is at variance with their teaching and furthermore it is
not clear, for example, which 'astral' plane he is describing, the HPB
or the A.B./CWL one, the former being the 2nd plane of Nature and the
latter being the 4th.
There is no mention of the 'etheric double' in the HPB/Masters
classification of the human principles. It is to this double that CWL
ascribes many of the qualities that HPB attributes to her astral body.
The changes of numbering of the principles where Kama (emotion, desire)
was put 2nd instead of 4th is important. An aid to the understanding of
THE SECRET DOCTRINE is analogy and correspondences.
In the Masters' literature Kama as the 4th principle is emphasized in
the evolutionary stages of development in the 4th Round, the 4th Race,
the 4th Substance, not the 2nd. One example of the extent to which the
members of the Theosophical Society, from senior members to the newest,
were 'infected' by CWL is exemplified by Jinarajadasa's acceptance of
the fact that CWL's Astral Plane manuscript had in fact been transmitted
magically to the Masters.
Obviously also Jinarajadasa's statement that he, in common with others,
had had several initiations about which he knew nothing except what CWL
told him, again raises the question of CWL's veracity.
As the years progressed the divergence between the HPB/Masters teachings
and the second generation Theosophy widened; even basic information was
changed, e.g. the introduction of the 'etheric double' (with four
'etheric' states of physical matter), the alterations to the
classification of principles and planes, and the CWL account of the
after-death states which is quite different from that of the Masters,
The divergence of the two systems became clearly apparent with the
publication of the Mahatma Letters in 1924/5. It was unfortunate that,
for a number of reasons, their publication had been delayed till then.
Apart from 'occult' material in them, these letters set a background of
specific purpose to the founding of the Society. This was closely
related to the Masters being regarded as one tier of membership in the
Society, with their accepted Chelas as a second and the ordinary members
To begin with this was the case but it obviously ceased to be so on
HPB's death (if not before). An attempt to reintroduce it by edict later
was obviously spurious.
The Letters also describe in some detail the conditions that were
essential for a relationship between the Masters and their Chelas. These
conditions were very stringent, particularly as regarding honesty and
In the period after HBP's death and with the withdrawal of the Masters
once again into obscurity, instead of direct guidance from or
association with the Master, even if it were visiting him in the Astral,
the practice grew up of this being done indirectly.
For example, people were taken to the Masters in their astral bodies for
initiations etc., but about which next day they knew nothing apart from
what they were told. In one or two places the Masters do say that this
can happen in the matter of training but not by proxy. Further,
initiations are matters of enhancement of waking consciousness and this
can occur only when certain conditions created necessarily by the pupil,
not someone on his behalf, have been met.
Regardless of the state of the Society, thanks to the Masters'
insistence and help, and the sacrifices of HPB, the world and
particularly the Society have a voluminous and authentic
The Society itself is now a world-wide organization of an idealistic and
benevolent nature, inspired by the idea of universal brotherhood, but
the second and third objects are interpreted very loosely and widely to
include anything from UFO's to what is generally extraordinary and
All this, however, against a background of what might be termed
'religion' or spirituality, mostly by way of, for example, the Eastern
exoteric scriptures and various ideas on Theosophy, methods of yoga and
meditation. There is also in some places a strong adherence to the
Liberal Catholic Church and Co-Masonry as if they were indeed part of
the theosophical movement.
In some places, notably Africa, the Theosophical Society is identified
with the Theosophical Order of Service. Charity is impressed on every
member through the brotherhood idea; there are however hundreds of
charitable organizations to work for and there can be nothing special
about the 'theosophical' one to warrant its association with the
Similarly the Round Table is an admirable organization but again nothing
in it is specifically theosophical.
Theosophical Service groups while keeping interested members informed of
current scientific matters have seldom if ever related science to
anything specifically associated therewith in the classical theosophical
literature. Because some scientific members have found faults and
inconsistencies in 'scientific' statements in the literature they have
abandoned the whole grand theosophical system, demonstrating at least a
lack of a sense of proportion.
Where older Lodges have survived, and in Section central libraries,
books on Theosophy on display or listed in catalogues, are mostly those
of the second generation writers. Their contents on the whole are taken
to be Theosophy without question. A few individuals try to correct this
situation but their influence generally is very small. Only a scattered
and desultory interest is paid to the classical 'theosophical
literature' of the HPB/Masters era. The idea is widespread that the
jealously guarded freedom of thought of members can mean that anyone's
view or opinions about 'theosophy' can be put out as such.
This was certainly the case in the early days of the 20th century. It
was almost vehemently stressed then that there was no such thing as a
definite 'theosophical' system of thought, knowledge or teaching. The
great fear was of 'dogmatism'.
This word, however, was, and still is in places, wrongly applied. A
dogma means an obligatory belief and no such thing is imposed on
Theosophical Society members. This does not mean that there are not
authoritative statements of fact such as those given us by the Masters,
who claim to know what they speak or write about, i.e. they are not
speculating, voicing opinions or advancing theories.
All beliefs concerning Theosophy and the Theosophical Society ought
seriously to be questioned against what can easily be discovered of the
original teaching and intentions for the Society. A serious perusal of
THE KEY TO THEOSOPHY will do this.
What is said above about 'make-believe' in the Society also applies to
the E.S. The implied connection of it with the Masters through the Outer
Head is an example. There is in fact no such connection.
Furthermore, the implication by secrecy, or even privacy, that it
possesses some esoteric knowledge which it can impart to members is also
'make-believe'. It makes an appeal to would-be aspirants to chelaship
and imposes some preliminary disciplines but omit the necessity for hard
work in studying and assimilating the eternal verities of Theosophy as
given by the Masters.
First the Adyar Society must take an honest look, fearlessly, at the
present position against the background outlined above.
Loyalties to past leaders, to their personal influence and their
teachings, must become secondary issues. This means an acknowledgment
that all that happened to the Society as a result of C. W. Leadbeater's
influence on it, directly or indirectly, his influence on Annie Besant
and his enduring influence by way of his writings, is suspect. It must
be recognized that these writings are 'theosophically' defective and
Annie Besant's influence, by reason of her long term as President, must
also be very objectively assessed. Whatever her personal integrity she
was obviously misled and mistaken, witness the Krishnamurti fiasco, her
espousal of Co-Masonry as part of the Theosophical Society and her
handling of the Judge 'case' with its disastrous results.
For most members a change of mind or basic beliefs will at best be
painful and at worst difficult if not impossible. This means that only a
section of the existing membership can, in the first instance at any
rate, be expected to make any radical change, and this section will
necessarily include E.S. members who will obviously have their loyalties
but they will also presumably have acquired some self-reliance and have
learned to think independently.
Some members already have or will have difficulty with the question of
their membership of the Liberal Catholic Church and CoMasonry in the
light of their longstanding association with the Society. Many of these
institutions have in fact been regarded as 'theosophical', even
However, it is necessary that the Society should formally declare that
henceforth neither of them is really any part of, or has any special
association with, the Theosophical Society.
This does not mean that members are not free to join the Liberal
Catholic or any other Church, or become Masons or members of any other
institution they wish, provided that they are not inimical or
antithetical to Theosophy, and still be members of the Society.
The Society has is own special message to promulgate. This message only
exists in the writings of HPB and in the Mahatma Letters. This message
in its completeness (as far as it was given out) is unique.
The future direction of the Society must therefore include:
1. The eradication of the 'make-believe' Leadbeater influence?in
all departments including literature, and severance from the Society of
all other organizations, i.e., the Liberal Catholic Church and
2. A thorough examination of all literature purporting to be
'theosophical,' and a brave declaration, and no further promotion, of
any which is not wholly consonant with the original teachings. This is
no proscription but all books purporting to be theosophical which
strictly are not should be clearly labeled or marked that they are the
author's views on the subject and not necessarily authentic. Members
are, of course, free to read what they like but they can be warned, if
not guided. The section in any Theosophical Society library purporting
to be theosophical literature should be segregated from other material
offered, be clearly marked and the books given prominence on book lists,
3. The retention and promotion of the three objects of the Society
plus an active promotion of?Theosophy as given by the Masters.
4. At all Theosophical Society Centers, Headquarters, etc., there
should be someone qualified to discuss Theosophy, say what it is, and
recommend books to enquirers. This service should as far as possible be
available at all times or a notice displayed as to where it can be
5. Commercialism in any form, i.e., book selling or publication as
such, without specific reference to the promotion of a knowledge of
Theosophy, is not part of the legitimate activities of the Society.
'Fringe' literature can be obtained in ordinary bookshops or from other
organizations, e.g., the Arcane School, the Anthroposophical Society,
etc. This recommendation is made with our second object specifically in
mind. Study of comparative religion is encouraged by the Society but it
does not have to publish or supply the books.
6. Professionalism in the Society should be examined. Whereas 'goods
and services' must obviously be paid for, Theosophy as such cannot be
sold. Should exponents be paid? If so, to what extent?
7. Serious study of the 'prime' literature, whatever else is done in
Lodges, at Centers, etc., should be encouraged and all facilities
provided. Facilities should be provided for meditation?quite and
solitude if possible. Meditation should, however, be 'theosophical,'
i.e., classical (Patanjali), HPB Diagram, or just silence, not according
to local gurus and amateurs with 'special' methods, and NEVER for money.
8. The Society will obviously need a group of students dedicated to
the study of the literature and to the dissemination of what they
discover both in the writings, and in themselves, as they progress. This
can be supplied by some of the existing members of the E.S. At the
present there are no 'esoteric' leaders or teachers in the Society; it
will therefore in this respect have to 'lift itself up by its own
boot-laces' as the expression has it.
There is no justification for secrecy within the E.S. or the Society but
on occasion private member meetings could be efficacious for discussion,
exchange of information, mutual encouragement, etc. There is obviously
now no corporate connection with the Masters so that that 'make believe'
can be dispensed with. The E.S. study should be confined to the Master
or HPB writings. The Society has no other Initiate-inspired literature.
Where the E.S. members feel they need inspirational literature apart
from books like THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE, LIGHT ON THE PATH and some of
the classical mystical works like THE BHAGAVAD GITA, as this is a
personal matter they should be free to discover their own.
Discrimination as to what is consonant with theosophical teachings will
grow. Let students beware of self-styled teachers and of themselves
posing as such. They will know when they really are qualified?they
will have been 'authorized.' Let none pretend.
9. The Society's relation to 'computerization,' the Internet, etc.,
needs serious examination and Section given guidelines.
[ END OF PARTIAL TRANSCRIPTION OF GEOFFREY FARTHING'S MANIFESTO ]
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