Theosophical Society: a Re-appraisal

Eric Marsh

In April last year(Vol.121 #7), The Theosophist published a lengthy article entitled "Theosophy in the 21st Century" by Dr Robert Ellwood an American academic, read at a Convention Lecture at Adyar in December 1999.

It was of particular interest to me to see if Benjamin Creme and Share International's message had any place in this forecast, either directly or indirectly.- No surprise! it didn't. Neither did Aryel Sanat in his new book on Krishnamurti. Had he done so, Quest may not have published it, - a reaction given to the widow of Geoffrey Hodson when she offered his Autobiography for publication. This was because he related contact with the Perennial Masters of Wisdom.

What did surprise me in the Doctors discourse was a quotation from H.P. Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy in which the founder lambasted the Society over its failures, hard-and-fast dogmas and degeneration. She went on to say that if this continues "the result can only be that the Society will drift off on to some sandbank of thought or another and there remain a stranded carcass to moulder and die." Strong words after only 19 years from foundation but no notice has been taken of it since.

Radha Burnier also surprised me when, as editor in 1989, she published K's Core of the Teaching 1929 which opened saying "Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization..." Since the search for Truth is an expressed aim of the Society, K was giving members of the TS a salutary message.

The title "Freedom of Thought" (by Resolution of the TS General Council) which now prefaces the magazine is confusing. Surely freedom of thought is a misnomer. Thoughts are with us all the time. Many have argued for less freedom and more control. Stop all thoughts! is the advice of many gurus and teachers. Others only become affected when thoughts are expressed. Was not "Freedom of expression" the intended heading, on a basis of "I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it?"

This resolution goes out of its way to stress the importance placed on neutrality in its "fearless exercise on the right of liberty of thought and expression thereof " but then in practice, reserves its own right to clamp down on the expression of such thoughts. The wording of this Resolution has been so carefully considered that the Council seems to have overlooked that thoughts have no effect on others until they are expressed. In stating "No teacher, or writer from H.P.Blavatsky onwards(changed in my magazine to 'downwards') has any authority to impose his or her teaching or opinions on members" it seems to suggest wanting to stick to H.P. Blavatsky's teaching and no other can even be 'introduced'.

Perhaps the TS would like to respond to the fact that as the teaching as expounded by HPB, came from the Perennial Masters. Likewise the writings of Alice Bailey came from the same named Masters, who are also responsible from what now comes via Benjamin Creme. Anyone closely familiar with the essence from all three cannot fail to recognise this authenticity. So why do the TS remain silent on this contemporary exposition and keep members in the dark? Do they believe it's faked?

Dr Ellwood's Convention lecture summarises an optimistic prediction for the theosophical movement and ideas but sees the TS itself "falling away, its work done in an institutional form, leaving the future in the hands of ultra-enhanced group consciousness achieved by actual telepathy or other transmission methods". This, he predicts, "may make humankind one great mind, obviating the need for the books, lectures and boards of officers so beloved by the TS as it now is". (I wonder if the leaders winced on hearing this?)

He concludes with: "Our job now as Theosophists is to interpret what is going on in the world as best as we can, so that as many good choices as possible are made convergent with evolution toward infinity". This emphasis epitomises for me the height of duplicity, for the TS to have remained silent during the last 25 years to what has been evolving , thereby avoiding any inquiry or interpretation for the benefit of those members who have become aware of this revelation during the past 30 years.

I don't know why the TS have chosen to remain silent. Pure speculation suggests it is the desire for the power structure to remain in Adyar. After all, Annie Besant gave a cold shoulder to life-time member and Master's amanuensis Alice Bailey, who afterwards carried on to form her own Trust & school. It should also be noted that outside of the two editors of Share International, Creme has no organisation to oppose the TS. Because of their common interest, he has been asked many times about this lack of recognition by the Theosophical Society. His answer has always been "they are not yet ready" whatever this may mean.

The "falling away" of the TS as predicted by Professor Ellwood is already unfolding. Continuation of this ostrich-like attitude is, in my opinion, sure to accelerate his prediction. The "boards of officers" should heed the observation of HPB when she reminded them that all members have been born into some creed or religion with a likely warped judgement and therefore biased by some or all of these influences, making it difficult to assimilate theosophy. The "Secret Doctrine", as I have observed, meted out to would-be aspirants, does not make the task any easier. The prolific volumes from the Master to Alice Bailey were little better until a student followed the expressed advice of the Tibetan Master and made an easy to read Compilation called "Ponder on This". Two decades on, Benjamin Creme has simplified it further in his three Volumes of "Maitreya's Mission", without changing the Essence contained in all the previous publications.( Neither should we forget J Krishnamurti "At the feet of the Master". It is sad that TS members are always being encouraged to struggle with past books and history as opposed to the present or future. As J. Krishnamurti has said the past is memory and memory is dead, coming to life only in contact with the living present. It is interesing to note the conversation between K & Mary Zimbalist when she asked him "why, if the Masters existed, they had spoken then [in the heyday of the theosophical movement- 5 decades] but not now?" This was shortly after Mary Lutyens book The Years of Awakening, was published in 1975. K replied "There is no need now the Lord [Maitreya] is here". He arrived, according to Creme in July 1977. This is what Maitreya' Mission is all about.