Clairvoyant Investigations by C.W. Leadbeater And "the Lives of Alcyone" (J. Krishnamurti)
Some facts described, by Ernest Wood
With notes by C. Jinarajadasa
Privately published by C. Jinarajadasa, 1947
IN the course of a lecture tour in the United States during the years 1922-23, Mr. Ernest Wood was in Washington, D.C. from February 2-5. There existed at that time in the Capital a group of Theosophical students (not organized into a Lodge) who called themselves "The Lightbearers". They invited Mr. Wood to a meeting where they asked him various questions. Among them were some about Mr. Leadbeater (as he then was) and his powers of clairvoyance and the writing of the "Lives of Alcyone" that had appeared in The Theosophist from April 1910 to February 1911. Mr. Wood's remarks were taken down by a stenographer, and the "Lightbearers" published them in a large four-page leaflet in small type for free distribution to all interested. I was not aware of the existence of this interesting paper till a few weeks ago it came into my hands for the first time.
What Mr. Wood said is of very great historical value, and so I republish it at once. I have taken the opportunity to add many notes, to amplify what Mr. Wood said, and especially I have drawn upon the diaries of Bishop Leadbeater, and the voluminous correspondence which passed between him and Dr. Besant during the long years of their collaboration. These letters are in my custody, and I have quoted from them about the coming of Krishnamurti, the investigation into his past lives, and the incident with the Deva of Adyar which led to the vision of the future embodied in the series of articles, "The Beginnings of the Sixth Root Race".
February 12, 1947.
Of Interest to T.S. Members
Mr. C. W. Leadbeater is, and has been for many years, one of our best known and much beloved T. S. leaders, a few members have had published the following questions and answers concerning him to distribute among T. S. members, who had not the good fortune to hear Mr. Ernest Wood of Adyar personally.
The questions and answers were given at a T. S. members meeting, while Mr. Wood was in Washington, D.C., and constitute first-hand knowledge on the part of Mr. Wood, who has had the splendid opportunity of having been Mr. Leadbeater's private secretary and closest associate for five years. The refinement and beauty of Mr. Wood's own nature were forces felt by all who contacted him and left no doubt as to his sterling honesty and truthfulness.
Question - Can you tell us something about Mr. C. W. Leadbeater when you knew him? Could you tell us how "Lives" was written? Can you give us some of your experiences while with Mr. Leadbeater? In view of the fact that you have been Mr. Leadbeater's secretary for some time, can you tell us something of his method in writing the "Lives" and something of Mr. Leadbeater himself?
Answer. -I shall have to make a personal statement first of all with regard to this. You see I was in England working there for our T. S. and I went to Adyar in 1908. Mr. Leadbeater came there about the end of January, 1909, (1) and a very short time later I became his private secretary, and worked for him until he went away to Australia in 1914. (2) During that time he went away once or twice on tours to Italy (3) and to the Dutch East Indies (4) for a short time, but while at Adyar I was with him nearly all the time and saw his investigations. In fact, nearly all those books written during that period were dictated to me. I took them down in shorthand and had them typed out by various people, some of whom had learned to read my shorthand writing; (5) but some of them also were the results of questions and answers, so you will see I had very intimate touch with Mr. Leadbeater, when you take into account that he is a man who works very hard, and it was his custom to start his work about 6.30 every morning and continue it till very late at night.
He would be up at half past six ready for work. Then we would take a little coffee or a couple of bananas just to begin the day, and then begin his work with correspondence or letters or a book that he was writing, or something of the kind, and generally he would sit there at his table or desk until about five o'clock in the afternoon (6). We used to clear the papers away in order to bring him his lunch in the middle of the day and he would stay there and eat his simple food and then go on it his work. (7)
At five o'clock it was his custom to take his physical exercise, a bath in the sea generally, and then have a little soup, which was his evening meal, and then we had our meeting from 7.15 to 8.15 (8) and then a quarter of an hour more for meditation.(9) I used to be with Mr. Leadbeater all this time and he would do a great deal of answering of letters and looking up things for people who wanted to know about the dead or about obsession, a great variety of things. And then at night he would begin again after the meditation was over at half-past eight and go on with some work until 11, 12, 1 or 2, or whatever time it was finished. Every moment was filled up with work. I have not met a more energetic man.
The way in which he worked differed according to the work he was doing. There were some things apparently that he could do quite easily. Some were more difficult. One of great interest was the investigation into what is called in the U.S. "Lives," or "Rents in the Veil of Time." It came about as the result of a question which I put to him about past lives or intervals between lives, especially of Hindoo people - because there are some things you don't find in other races.
He said he would look into the lives of some people.(10) There were some boys living near who used to play about (11) and quite a little party of them who used to come down to the sea after school hours and watch us bathe. Two of them were sons of an old T.S. member, and Mr. Leadbeater asked his permission to look into the past lives of these boys, and that is how it came about that the Lives of Alcyone were published, because one of these boys was Krishnamurti.(12) One evening when meditation was over and I went down with Mr. Leadbeater to see if anything was to be done, he said, "Well, those lives must be done. When shall we begin?" And I said, of course, "Now." There was no other thing to say, and he started that night after meditation and dictated one of these "Lives." He had a clever way of recuperating himself when tired by what he called five minute sleeps. He would get up quite refreshed. Those "Lives" were done in his own room, his little octagon room down near the river at Adyar. He did 28 of them and Mrs. Besant did two.(13) I sat at the desk and he used to walk round the room, partly to keep himself awake while he was centering on other planes when the physical body was tired; and he went on speaking about what he could see, what he was watching and seeing, and simply wrote that down. He did one of these "Lives" every night.
On one occasion there was an interruption. He suddenly stopped and said, "I must go away for ten minutes. The boys have come for me. It is something urgent." He said, "Call me if I am not back in ten minutes." So he lay down on the couch and went to sleep, and that was an occasion on which a certain rather striking experience among the invisible helpers occurred. The boys, who had been floating about [on the astral plane] had found a man who was about to commit suicide in a cabin of a ship and they could not prevent him and came for Mr. Leadbeater. This was a little time after we had got to know Krishnamurti more and he was in the habit of coming around every morning and writing down what he could remember of his night's experience. He wrote down quite a long account of this experience in the Bay of Bengal.(14) Mr. Leadbeater would finish the writing of a "Life" and then would say, "Have you any questions to ask, anything that you want to know about it?" I remember that in the first "Life" Mr. Leadbeater dictated - the one in which the Lord Buddha appears, (15) the 28th in the series, (16) and I said, "Well, since you have the Lord Buddha in view, won't you give us one of his sermons?" And he gave the one about the fire. (17) He worked at the rate of about one every night and got the work through very quickly. He was a prodigious worker, and he seemed very rarely to have any time for preparation of his work. He was always occupied in it from very early until very late at night.
Another piece of work was the beginnings of the sixth root race. That was more difficult, that piece of looking into the future. It began one Sunday morning.(18) Mrs. Besant was away from Adyar at the time and Mr. Leadbeater had been describing certain forms of worship.(19) After the meeting I found him lying on his couch, and Mr. Leadbeater said, "That description of worship which I was giving you this morning was from a picture of the future shown me by a Deva.(20) I find that I can go out into the street and see the life of the people, and other things."
I noted it all down, and when he got up and said, "Well, that is enough of that". Mr. van Manen, who was there, said, "Well, look here, this seems to be a very important thing that you have struck." And we asked him whether this was not a matter that he might take up in full. He said that he would look into it and see, and an hour or two later he said, "Yes; that is a matter that has to be dealt with and I shall investigate further. You must put it all to me in the form of questions." It was, I should imagine, more difficult for him to keep a good supply of consciousness in the physical brain in this case than with perhaps any other of his work, so it was all done by question and answer, and that was done in the afternoon, four or five hours every day for about a week. In the end I had a big collection of questions and answers, and these were typed out on some slips of paper and Mr. van Manen and I sorted them under their headings: Education, Economical Question, etc. And then we gave him the pile of questions in their order, and he dictated the whole thing through in literary form, and that is what you have as the second half of the book, "Man, Whence, How and whither."*
* Also published separately as "The Beginnings of the Sixth Root Race."-C.J.
It was exceedingly interesting to me to note the way in which those questions, asked quite at random, dovetailed and fitted in together. There were other trifling, interesting things in connection with that, for instance, it was probably the only work in which I have known Mr. Leadbeater slip out of his body apparently unintentionally. But it seems in answering these questions, just once or twice, in the middle of the answer, suddenly his voice would drop away. He was fast asleep with his eyes closed. A minute or two later he would open his eyes and say: "What did I say last?" And I would tell him, and he would say, "But I said lots more." And I would say, "No, that was all," and he said, " But I thought I was speaking." And he would then go over the missing portion again.
There was a lot of other work. Many people used to write about their friends or relations who had died, whether the Invisible Helpers could take care of them in some way. Mr. Leadbeater would always go to work patiently and just investigate the matter and either dictate a reply or tell me to write such and such a thing. There was a case in which he gave instructions for the use of that mantra which you will find in my book on Concentration. There was a bad case of fire elementals that was occurring in the north of India. Wherever a certain person went, things used to catch fire. Mr. Leadbeater got me to write down the mantra, sent it up there and explained how it should be used, and our friend in the north of India used the mantra and the fire elementals were cleaned out entirely. People would sometimes send lockets to be magnetized and afterwards would say that they had been relieved of the voices that were annoying them or the fears that were oppressing them.
I did not at first go to Mr. Leadbeater with a great admiration or liking for him before I met him myself because I did not feel that I was on his line, but circumstances drifted me into his service and I learned to admire him immensely for his splendid work and also for his character. I worked for him from 1909 to 1913, inclusive. (21) He was a man of immense physical strength. He is almost a giant (22) and has a tremendously strong arm. And to his character, I would sum it up along two lines - extremely loving and affectionate and extremely scientific. In all his investigations he is always very cautious and careful. He is without any speculative tendencies whatever.
In his scientific work he would say, "Now, let's have facts. Let me be careful that I see as clearly as I can and then put it on record." And when people used to say, "How would you reconcile so and so?" he would say, "It is not my business to reconcile anything at all; it is my business simply to see, understand, and describe; that is the post for which I have been trained." People would say, "You cannot expect people to believe these things." He said, "I do not expect anybody to believe them. I see these things and it is my duty to publish them, and I do not expect people to believe what I say. I am convinced of the accuracy of my own work, and I am as careful as I can be." He seemed to be of a perfectly scientific temperament, (23) but his affectionate disposition was even stronger. His scientific investigations would be interrupted by people coming for some help, because Mr. Leadbeater was a man who could scarcely say No to anybody if they wanted some help. People would come in and say: "But we must have an article for this or that magazine or the circulation will go down." And he would put aside, perhaps, his important investigation and allow himself to do what would please or satisfy other people. I think that this is the explanation of what some people saw in America or New Zealand, that sometimes he would put people off and keep them off; that was nothing but the self-defense of a very sensitive nature.
There is a question attached to one of these: "Is it true that his powers are failing?" That is, of course, a thing of which I cannot have any direct knowledge. I have not seen Mr. Leadbeater on the physical plane since he went to Australia. (24) I have been occupied with other work ever since, but I have met several people who have been to Australia. They say that he is recovering very well from that difficulty that arose in the heart; (25) that his powers do not seem to be failing in the least.
Why did he have that illness? It happened that before he came into the Theosophical Society, he was decorating his church one day and had climbed up on a ladder to put up some holly or something, and he fell back from this ladder right down across the back of a pew and that injured something in his back. The result was that occasionally, but quite rarely, he would feel this pain in his back, and sometimes he used to lie down on his couch for a little time on account of this pain. Then in Australia he overstrained his heart, I think in some mountain climbing or a long walk, and the heart became enlarged and he was weak for a long time.
I mentioned that he is a man without any diplomatic characteristics, a very simple man who has not mixed much with the world at all, a very retired and quiet sort of man, and just the other day I came across a quite striking sort of example of the absence of diplomacy in his character and that was regarding Christian Festivals, and when he was writing about Christmas and the Christ he tells us that Christ was in a previous life Shri Krishna of India and also that Jesus was Shri Ramanuja of India in the twelfth century. If he was simply trying to build a Christian Church and he wanted to draw Christians to his standard, I should say that that was just about the best way to defeat his own ends. It just illustrates his position which he has always held that it is his duty just to put down what he sees. He is very devoted to Mrs. Besant, whom he regards with the profoundest respect.
Question. - Did Mr. Leadbeater train Krishnamurti and what were the methods?
Answer. -I was there when Krishnamurti appeared with his father at Adyar and I knew him before Mr. Leadbeater did. He was a school boy. When we first knew Krishnamurti he was a very frail little boy, extremely weak, all his bones sticking out, and his father said more than once that he thought probably he would die, and he was having a bad time at school because he did not pay any attention to what his teachers said. He was bullied and beaten to such an extent that it seemed the boy might fade away from this life and die, and the father came to Leadbeater and said: "What shall we do?" Mr. Leadbeater said, "Take him from school and I will inform Mrs. Besant." (26) Mrs. Besant had done much for Hindu boys. She had the Central Indian College, (27) in which many of the boys were entirely maintained by her - food, shelter, education, everything. So it was nothing unusual for her to look after boys. Mrs. Besant was in America at the time. She replied that she would be very pleased to see to their welfare, so the two boys were taken from the school; Krishnamurti's younger brother was all right, but they didn't want to be separated; and some of us agreed to teach them a little each day so that they might be prepared to go to England for their further education. (28) Seven or eight of us taught them a little each day. The boys used to sit in Mr. Leadbeater's or one of the adjacent rooms, with their teacher. I do not know that it could be said that Leadbeater trained him in any sort of particular way.(29) To be anywhere near Mr. Leadbeater was a training for anybody. He made him drink milk and eat fruits. Krishnamurti did not like this. He [C.W.L.] attended to his health. He did not much like this eating fruits and milk, but did it. He also arranged for swimming and exercises in the way of cycling and other things, and they played tennis in the evening, so that very soon Krishnamurti was quite a healthy and strong boy and began to take more interest in the world. I think that he must have been always more or less psychic and therefore did not pay attention to his teacher. I noticed very soon that Krishnamurti used to collect people's thoughts, and I have seen him do some quite remarkable feats of conversation with dead people while still a little boy, and that developed quite naturally. I do not know of any special and deliberate training in that way. In Mr. Leadbeater's room and in his company, of course, he really received the best of training in courtesy, etc.
That went on till Mrs. Besant came back and Mrs. Besant, took the boys with her on a tour and then it was that Krishnamurti went up to Benares and there wrote his little book, "At the Feet of the Master." At Benares there was Mr. Arundale and a number of the students. They got together and
were so impressed with this boy that they questioned him about meditation, and he used to advise them and at last he wrote the little book and sent it to us in Adyar. When I read the manuscript I said to Mr. Leadbeater, "Look here, it is a curious thing some of the things Krishnamurti has in the
book are almost the same things that you have in `The Inner Life'". I showed
him some of the passages and he said, "Well, here is the explanation: `The
Inner Life' was made by you. It is a collection of notes of what I have
been saying." He said, "I have been with Krishnamurti many times when he
has been talking with his Master on the other planes during sleep, and I
heard the Master teaching him and sometimes I have used those bits of teachings in my own addresses to you and especially in my Sunday morning teaching, (30) and you have put them
into my book when they were not mine at all."
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