THEOSOPHY, Vol. 23, No. 6, April, 1935
(Pages 241-251; Size: 31K)
(Number 4 of a 10-part series)
IVThe thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.NO more than Jew or Christian have Theosophists kept in mind the law of Karma, of recurrent cycles, of reincarnation, of the persisting Self "from whom come memory, knowledge, and also the loss of both." The two horns of existence which we name a "dilemma" are also the poles of Isis, goddess of Wisdom. Tossed back and forth between the horns of outer and inner circumstances, men are "ceaselessly self-deceived" into the futile task of attempting to reconcile the "pairs of opposites," and so, seldom rise above them into the clear atmosphere of the Law under which both good and evil effects can be traced to their creator, their hapless creature -- Self, still victim of its own Mayas or mind-images. The course of the Theosophical Movement is a demonstration of the "dangers of the lower Iddhi," the "psychical powers latent in man" as a human being, but capable of being aroused to an intensity which, conquered, make him a Disciple, but which, "ruling instead of being ruled," drive him head-long to every species of excess. What the ordinary man only experiences in dream, in delirium, in insanity or intoxication while incarnate, becomes with the medium, the mystic, the "sensitive" and the "psychic" a "reversion to type" -- spiritual atavism, in short.
Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.
--Ecclesiastes, I, 9-11.
Theosophists of all men should recognize that they have reached the "mid-way point of evolution" in their present incarnation -- that point where they are "in opposition" (exactly opposite) to that point in the Great Cycle called the "Third Race" when the "incarnation" of the "mind-born sons" occurred. That crucial point in the Great Cycle has its Individual correspondence in the "birth vision" of the reincarnating Ego. But its "opposite," the crucial point in the present Great Cycle called the "Fifth Race," has its correspondence in the "death vision" of the individual Ego. When the "psychic powers" of the living man are roused to "concert pitch," it means that the normal barriers between states of consciousness are dissolved, "the circle pass-not" of ordinary human existence can be crossed. What does this imply?
Patanjali, greatest of all psychologists, has answered in his Yoga Aphorisms: either "Spiritual Clairvoyance," or -- "meditation with a seed." In one case a Buddha, a Christ, an Arhat; in the other a Saint, a Seer, a "Yogi" whose subjective visions become for him the only "reality." Human history and tradition contain abundant examples of both. Average mankind has never understood either, and therefore has continually mistaken the one for the other. Great Teachings come from the first class, all religions and religious sects from the other. History is replete with the record of those who, after the departure of a great Teacher, succumb to the delusion variously called "the second Coming," the "second Advent," Chiliasm, and the Millennium. Its victims are those who, while alive, have been absorbed in one or another of the states which normally bind men only after death -- a form of "concentration" unrecognized in modern pathology and psychology, and to which true Occultism holds the only key. Hence the gravity of the warnings of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge on this vast subject -- warnings which those most in danger almost invariably failed to heed.
The philosophy and ethics of Theosophy, their intelligent application in daily life, the study and work, the self-discipline which all men ought to practice, and which every man could pursue as a training in the "first Object" -- this has proved as little inviting to the would-be Theosophist as to the average layman. The "third Object" has been the "dazzling flame of the night lamp" which has lured all too many "unwary moths" into the "viscid oil" of the "Great Ensnarer, Mara." There have been, and there will be, many Annie Besants as the cycles roll their rounds. Yet any ordinary mind could see and should see that if Mrs. Besant and her satellites were Arhats, as she proclaimed, then H.P.B., her Masters and her Theosophy, were but a gigantic delusion; conversely, that if the great Messenger is a true Teacher in the Mysteries, then Mrs. Besant and the rest are anything but true Disciples. The idea of Karma and that of any species of "personal God" can never be reconciled.
Great numbers of Theosophists, harassed, wearied, discouraged by the procession of these resurrections of the "ghosts of the past," have lapsed into inertia, leaving the Movement to the undisputed possession of its incarnate Skandhas; others have succumbed to the "broad and glittering path" of the pseudo-occultists; a few only have fought on as best they knew against the recrudescence of the "ancient enemy of mankind." Much may be learned from the observation of the course of Mrs. Besant in opposition to that of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge; so, much could be learned by students of today in following up the reaction of the members to the revelations of the controlling "occultists" in the various theosophical and off-shoot mystical bodies.
In 1925 the total membership in Mrs. Besant's Adyar Society was, according to the official figures in The Golden Book of the T.S., just over 41,000. That was only ten years ago. During these recent ten years over 60,000 new members have been gained, yet the existing membership is only approximately 31,000 -- 10,000 less than at the time of the "Jubilee Convention." What has become of the other 70,000? A few have died, but the great majority has dropped out, lured by other pseudo-teachers and pseudo-teachings. Here and there one and another has profited by the experience gained and has turned to true Theosophy. Upon the alliance of these real students, within and without the various societies, must rest the future of the true Theosophical Movement. Isolated, hampered by associations with the false, their course is a difficult where not a tragic one.
The reaction within the Adyar Society to Mrs. Besant's Second Adventism has been shown in the rope of sand disclosed by membership figures. It is also disclosed in the fate of the "Order of the Star." From a membership of 100,000 at the time of the Ommen Congress in 1925 it had already shrunk to approximately one-fourth of that number when "Krishnaji" cut the Gordian knot by dissolving it and by repudiating the whole "inspired" program so elaborately heralded by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater. Figures have never been authentically given of the "Liberal Catholic Church" but it is certain that its activities have shriveled into insignificance from the blatant claims and pretensions of ten years ago. The "World University" has moved to some other "world" indeed -- as innocuous as the Point Loma "Theosophical University," its Tingley predecessor. The "World Mother," "arhat" Rukmini Arundale, proclaimed by Mrs. Besant as the "feminine" counterpart on earth of the "King of the World" for whom Krishnamurti was to be the "chosen vehicle" -- that "World-Mother" episode is now tactfully forgotten in "arhat" circles, along with a dozen-and-one other exhibits launched by "arhats" Besant and Leadbeater. It is more than probable, on an actuarial basis, that not more than 10 or 15 per cent of the present membership in the Adyar society have been in it for ten years. Judging from the published literature of the books and magazines issuing from that source, it is certain that not a single one of its "authorities" has any more knowledge of real Theosophy than the Patristic writers had of the real mission and message of Jesus.
In only two quarters have there been continuous efforts to make head against the current of psychism begun in 1895 and now a maelstrom in the Adyar society. What may be called the negative opposition to the Adyar society leadership has centered in Dr. H. N. Stokes of the O.E. Library Critic. Like a "sea-lawyer" among the crew of a mismanaged ship, Dr. Stokes has retained his membership in the Adyar society while diligently striving to provoke a "mutiny" against the disastrous course taken. In his Critic, number after number, has been published authentic information in the nature of exposure of the many Adyar schemes. While purely iconoclastic, the Critic has none the less opened the eyes of many to the iniquities perpetrated in the name of Theosophy. Students of the "second Object" will have noted the parallelism between the writing and work of Dr. Stokes and that of the "fiery Tertullian" in the early history of the Christian churches. Tertullian, capable only of doing scavenger work, was unsparing in his denunciation of the "psychics," as he called them, then dominating the church at Rome and, during his life-time, almost the only one among the Church bigots, fanatics, and partisans, who had the courage and ability to check in some degree the excesses, morally and religiously, prevalent in his day among those who claimed Successorship to Jesus. Dr. Stokes course can be understood in both its virtues and its defects by observation of his own theosophical history. Deceived and betrayed by his trust in one of the earliest of the pseudo-occultists who had "set up shop" on her own account, Dr. Stokes engaged in prison-reform work and transferred his theosophical allegiance to Leadbeater and Mrs. Besant. Disillusioned again, he thought to see in Mrs. Alice A. Bailey a great occultist. Once more his eyes were opened to the negative truth, "all is not gold that glitters." Since this discomfiture Dr. Stokes has been more bent on exposing the false than finding the true. The pages of the Critic are a sort of theosophical "rogues' gallery," but the miscellany of literature continually advertised affords as little aid to true theosophical education as the "finger-print" records which comprise the bulk of the text of the magazine itself. As a study in Karma, the Critic is an informative example of the "law of correspondences:" the attempt to "reform criminals" in one direction has its analogue in the effort to punish criminals in the other.
The only other opposition to the Besant-Leadbeater subversion of the Adyar society has been that carried on in the Canadian Theosophist, the official organ of the originally "Canadian Section" of the Adyar T.S., now designated as "The Theosophical Society in Canada." The editor of the Canadian Theosophist from its commencement has been Mr. Albert E. S. Smythe, the General Secretary of the Adyar T.S. in Canada.
Mr. Smythe's theosophical career has been a valuable one in many ways and when properly appraised is an index or "log" of the difficulties besetting the voyage of the theosophical ship itself, a personification of the troubles facing every member of its "crew." After the death of Mr. Judge, Mr. Smythe accepted, as did practically the entire membership, the "Succession" of Madam Tingley. The disclosures of the ensuing two years were more than enough to convince Mr. Smythe along with many others of the colossal blunder perpetrated on the members. He retired from the Tingley "Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society," and in a small publication of his own, the Lamp, continued for a number of years to throw almost the only gleam of light across the stormy waters of contention between the Adyar and Point Loma societies. He continued unabated his activities in the Toronto Lodge, then as now by far the largest Theosophical body in Canada.
After the death of Col. Olcott, Mrs. Besant in assuming the mantle of President in addition to her hegemony of the "E.S." in the Adyar society, came to Europe and America, both to strengthen her position among the Western members, and to propose a "fraternization" of her own devising to the various independent and quasi-independent theosophical societies and groups. Whereas, after the American "secession," as Col. Olcott called it, he and Mrs. Besant had been instrumental in enacting that no one could become a member of the Adyar society and at the same time be a member of any other theosophical body, a rule strictly enforced during the remainder of the Colonel's life -- Mrs. Besant now offered to receive into the Adyar fold Lodges or individual recalcitrants with "no questions asked" as to former affiliations or convictions. Imbued with the desire for theosophical fraternity and the hopes bound up therewith, the Toronto Lodge which had received its original Charter prior to the disruption of the Parent T.S., resumed its place as a recognized Branch of the Adyar T.S. Mr. Smythe as President of the Toronto Lodge, as General Secretary of the "T.S. in Canada," and as editor of the Canadian Theosophist, thereby entered upon a role that by its very nature forced him into a compromise course. He was bound in honor to live up to the moral obligation of his several official duties, while at the same time he retained his convictions as to the Theosophy of H.P.B. and Judge. At no time did he have, nor could he have in these circumstances, any sympathy with or belief in the pseudo-theosophy everywhere being promulgated and accepted among the members at large.
To steer a consistent course in such conditions was a manifest impossibility. Mr. Smythe made no concealment of his own convictions and so from time to time expressed them unmistakably, both as to what is true Theosophy and as to fraternity among theosophical bodies. Thus the contents of the Canadian Theosophist were a mixture of Jordan and Dead Sea waters as unpalatable to "straight Theosophists" as to the "psychics." Every effort was made to unseat Mr. Smythe, but the Toronto Lodge, at all times the controlling factor in the "T.S. in Canada," supported him throughout. He finally became such a "thorn in the side" that the Adyar rulers, not deeming it politic to "expel" him and his adherents, as had been done with Mr. Martyn and his Sydney, Australia, adherents, and as had been done earlier in the case of Dr. Rudolph Steiner and the "German Section" -- the "General Council" officially gave the "loyal" Canadian members direct affiliation with Adyar instead of with the Canadian section or society.
When, then, the Ommen and "Jubilee Convention" following, with their "superhuman kingdoms" and their very human "arhats" as the earthly counterparts of the "King of the World" and his modern Olympian family of gods -- when this heavenly-earthly deific nebula assumed the cometary stage, Mr. Smythe, having himself two foci of devotion, was of necessity forced into a similar elliptical path. No more than Adyar could he be true to both the "Blavatsky tradition" and the Besant-Leadbeater revelation. Hence, the pages of the Canadian Theosophist mirror for the ensuing years the "double refraction" of the human mind. There are today very many Theosophists who long for "fraternity" and who think the road to the coveted goal of "universal brotherhood" lies in some kind of compromise of the true with the false. The syncretism inherent in such vain hope is well illustrated in the fortunes of the "T.S. in Canada," which has not only made no headway but has lost ground in the ten years last passed; and in the contents of the Canadian Theosophist. The genuine constructive knowledge of true Theosophy and of Theosophical history possessed by Mr. Smythe and other sincere and able workers in the "T.S. in Canada" have served but as a feeble dam against the torrent of psychism in the Adyar society at large. They could not be consistently advocated without also consistently opposing the enemy forces in command of the very society to which they were bound hand and foot by membership and by office.
It is not possible here to do more than indicate the mistaken strategy and tactics which would at one and the same time wage war for what is regarded as the True, and still remain in any species of alliance with what is regarded as the False. It is this all too common error of human nature which is the real "substratum and support" of the traitor, the pseudo-leader, and the malingerer. Every student of the great mysteries of human nature needs to observe their manifestations in the light of the firmly established principles of Theosophy. Without an education in these principles the lessons of theosophical history remain largely unlearned, and the would-be Theosophist must rely on the unstable perspectives afforded by his individual and personal experiences on "the field of battle." Only brief extracts can here be given illustrative of the bewilderment and confusion inseparable from the equivocal course which divided allegiance compels in all conduct, and most of all on the path of true Theosophy or Occultism which admits of no compromise. That which tempts to compromise between true and false is that which leads to equivocation, to the destiny of betrayer or betrayed. There is, and there can never be, compromise or quarter between true Occultism and "the lunar path." Read in this light, the Canadian Theosophist reproduces the frame of mind of Arjuna "between the two armies," as pictured in the opening of the Bhagavad-Gita. Mr. Smythe's "despondency" appears in the Canadian Theosophist for April, 1924, in a review of the then just-published Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:"A study of these Letters will indicate hour far the majority of the members of the Theosophical Society have strayed from the original conceptions of the Movement. Chief of all these errors is the insistence upon a leadership which was never authorized and an apostolical succession which is mythical. The result of this, whether intentional or not, has been that a vast Apocrypha has grown up which has submerged the original instructions which are now relegated to top shelves and locked cupboards when they are not prohibited altogether,..."In the next number, under the title "Democratic Principles Neglected," is the following:"The greatest virtue in the minds of many members of the Theosophy Society to-day is loyalty to a leader. This is wofully wrong."Another article in the same number remarks upon the cross-currents within the Adyar T.S.:"During the last twenty-one years the marked divergence from the early policy and teaching of the Society and the Secret Doctrine has been notable.... And many of the earlier members have been unable to adapt themselves to the change, nor even to accept with tolerance, as they should, a situation which involves nothing more than a change of mind on the part of some prominent members of the Society -- a change to which they are entitled without criticism or fault-finding -- and a response from a different type of mind than had formerly been appealed to."In the November, 1924, number, at which time Mrs. Besant was up for re-election to the presidency, the Canadian Theosophist comments, over Mr. Smythe's initials, as follows:"There are two obstacles to the progress and development of the Theosophical Society.... The spirit of centralization still persists.... The weakness of the local lodges everywhere is a testimony of the danger of the centralizing spirit whose influence still draws members to look for help from afar instead of finding it within themselves....Mr. Smythe could scarcely have been unaware that Mrs. Besant herself was the chief in the "infinite fatuity of the psychics" who staged the "Adyar manifestations" at the time of Col. Olcott's death in 1907.
"The real difficulty in the T.S. is the fiction that the E.S. has no official connection with it.... As soon as ... Mrs. Besant, the head of the E.S., became also the head of the T.S., there could no longer be maintained the independence of interests necessary to the wholesome existence of each ...
"The E.S. now demands implicit and unthinking obedience from its members. Those who cannot yield this are expelled....
"There is no adequate successor to Mrs. Besant in sight. She may not be all that is wanted, but she is miles ahead of any present possible substitute. The people who arrange these things around headquarters cannot be trusted to display the commonsense or the perspicacity that might be desired or expected in the circumstances, if we may judge by the last occasion.
"When Col. Olcott died there was no one but Mrs. Besant to follow him. With infinite fatuity some of the psychics got together and staged a revelation, the very last thing that was needed ... it serves to show what would be done by partisans, if it was felt to be really necessary to support a candidate by 'occult' displays. Hordes of psychics could be got to testify to the apostolic character of this, that or the other aspirant to office."
In April, 1925, under the title "Our Index Expurgatorius," Mr. Smythe mentions The Theosophical Movement, and the photographic reprint of The Secret Doctrine, both then just off the press, and remarks:"This is another volume for the Theosophical Index Expurgatorius which the great high Leaders on the physical plane are preparing for the suckling Theosophists who come under their care. We are progressing rapidly, and fortunately in two opposite directions. The Index Expurgatorius now in course of preparation will be the best guide that real students can have to the really valuable literature of the Theosophical Movement. The facsimile edition of the Secret Doctrine ... is another waymark."In June, 1925, the leading article is devoted to a long review by Mr. Smythe of The Theosophical Movement. He says:"After reading the more or less anonymous work, 'The Theosophical Movement' ... and finding it of vast interest, there is nothing to be done but to recommend it to those who may be concerned and are unprejudiced....The October, 1925, number contains notice of the refusal of the "T.S. in Canada" to subscribe to the mergence of the society in Mrs. Besant's "World Religion." The next number of the Canadian Theosophist contains Mr. Smythe's "Address at the Jubilee Celebration" held by the Toronto Lodge on November 17, 1925. The Address rehearsed in brief the lamentation of a theosophical Jeremiah:
"There is no doubt this book is the most complete of any record of the Movement that has been produced up till now...."Then H.P.B. died. And then Judge died. And worse still a great many of the leading members began to have views of their own, quite different from the things that we had been told and which we read in the Secret Doctrine. New prophets and teachers arose every few months, and gathered a following....In December, 1925, the Canadian Theosophist notes the November number of the Theosophist, filled as we have seen with the Ommen revelations. Mr. Smythe remarks editorially:
"So it came to pass that the elder students who had been banded together gradually died or left the Society or drifted away until ... only one [Mrs. Besant] and she the youngest in the Society and the least acquainted with H.P.B., now remains in it. And she has just proposed that we should give up all that we have striven and suffered for and betake ourselves to the golden idols of the past.... Those who were not content with what H.P.B. left behind her for our instruction but sought out new instructors with a different message, could never have been very deeply-grounded in the Wisdom-Religion...."This November issue should be read and preserved by all members ... in order to keep in mind the range of tolerance which the Society embraces."In January, 1926, Mr. Smythe protests over his initials that "Mrs. Besant and Mr. Jinarajadasa have violated" the principle of neutrality in trying to force their "World Religion" on the T.S. In another article he says:"Theosophy teaches one thing and sacerdotalism and Hierarchialism another. We know where Mr. Leadbeater stands, and we know where Mrs. Besant used to stand. We are all of us, and the whole Theosophical Society, facing a cycle of extremely bad Karma. Shall we face it bravely and truthfully, or shall we run away from it?"In March, 1926, Mr. Smythe asserts that there are but two tenable views of Mrs. Besant's course: "the claims are valid, or, Mrs. Besant is herself the victim of illusion. The analysis of why these claims 'do not ring true' will not be undertaken now. Later this may be done if deemed desirable." In another article Mr. Smythe continues:"It is out of no disrespect that one takes the ground that Mrs. Besant may be mistaken....In still a third article Mr. Smythe says:
"'The Coming of the World-Teacher' sounds like Mr. Jinarajadasa, Mr. Leadbeater and the seance room, the medium and the speaking trumpet....
"...we may be sure that the Mrs. Besant of 1891 is no longer present with us.""...nothing can be clearer than that the ideals of 1891 are not those of 1926. Madam Blavatsky the patron of a Messiah and preaching in a Liberal Catholic Church pulpit is inconceivable, but Mrs. Besant who claims to be her successor accepts both responsibilities."In the number for July, 1926, Mr. Smythe gives a brief review of Mr. Jinarajadasa's Golden Book:"It is a most creditable production considering the difficulties under which it was produced, including the loaded dice which affects some phases of the history.... There is, of course, a great deal about the charges brought by Mrs. Besant against Mr. Judge, but there is nothing said about his having been a chela of fourteen years standing on the testimony of Madam Blavatsky, nor of his authority to convey messages when the Master desired him, nor of Mrs. Besant's admission that the messages were genuine messages but had been conveyed in a manner different from that which she had thought.... It would be interesting to know on what evidence it is stated that 'some months before his death, Mr. Judge had appointed, as the head of his E.S.T. in America and Europe, a person who was utterly unknown to most of his followers. This was Mrs. Katherine A. Tingley.' A great many people would like to see that evidence. Mrs. Tingley would be delighted to publish it herself."From month to month the Canadian Theosophist continued to publish protests in similar fashion, alongside articles duly "orthodox" from the Aydar standpoint, and others highly derogatory to the bona fides of Mr. Judge and H.P.B. It does not appear that the course pursued by Mr. Smythe produced any real obstacle to the complete perversion of the society to the Adyar program. Mrs. Besant undertook a lecturing tour and in due course arrived at Toronto where she met Mr. Smythe and other Canadian members who were apparently "reconciled."
The weakness of Mr. Smythe's course lay, unavoidably, in his continued devotion to the "Society" regardless of its having been converted into a machine for revelations and policies to which he could but be at heart opposed; in his continuing to hold office and membership in such circumstances; in his ideas of "tolerance" and "fraternity." His theosophical attitude and policy in the face of the great betrayal of what he himself regarded as the true teachings and the true teacher -- all this has been the characteristic of many members of the various societies, who have either remained supine or have contented themselves with "luke-warmness" in the great struggle between the contending forces of the Movement. Any student can easily compare such a course and its sterile resultants with the fruits of the path taken by The United Lodge of Theosophists.
The three "twilight years" following 1925 made clear, on the opposing sides alike, the definite and irreconcilable nature of the conflict within the Theosophical Movement. Within the Adyar society all the elements alien to the plans and "revelations" of "neo-theosophy" were placed in a position where they had to remain passive or were forced out of the society. The parasite growths continued to flourish unabated to the death of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Leadbeater, the election of "arhat" Arundale to the presidency of the Adyar society, and the promulgation of a fresh crop of promises to the faithful.
(Part 5 of a 10-part series)
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