CWL: AN APPRECIATION
In Brazil, theosophical literature has been translated from English into Portuguese since the beginning of the twentieth century. The most popular authors there have been C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant. The Secret Doctrine had its first Portuguese edition only in the mid 1960s and has been in print ever since. But Theosophy was popularized on a vast scale by the works of those two authors.
The books by Besant and Leadbeater were an integral part of my theosophical education. When my knowledge of English started to improve I began reading other theosophical authors, like Geoffrey Barborka, J. J. van der Leeuw, I. K. Taimni and N. Sri Ram, besides many international magazines. In 1981, I got my first copy of The Mahatma Letters. It was a turning point in my theosophical studies. I remember having struggled for years with the well-known Letter 10 ("we deny God both as Philosophers and as Buddhists"), and discussing it with Virginia Hanson, Joy Mills and other senior students. But what really interested me in the Letters was not so much the philosophical and theoretical teachings, fascinating as they are, but the section on Probation and Chelaship, which contains real pearls of spiritual instruction on the deeper aspects of Theosophy as a living Wisdom. A number of books by CWL and AB also deal with the teachings about the spiritual path and are very inspiring.
I had the great privilege of working in India, at the International Headquarters at Adyar, for four and a half years and visited several TS Lodges in that country. The public prestige the TS enjoys in India is second to none in the world and it is owed primarily to one woman: Annie Besant (AB) and her vast contribution to the freedom and cultural regeneration of India. She maintained that India is the spiritual mother of the world, and I feel this to be true with every fibre of my heart. Besant embodied in her life the soul of Theosophy: selfless service to the "poor orphan", suffering humanity.
Criticism within the Theosophical Society
Contrary to what some maintain, there are critical writings of CWL in the TS. One of them is There is no Religion Higher than Truth by E.L. Gardner (1963), a former General Secretary of the English Section of the TS and a staunch student of HPB's writings. A copy of it is in practically every theosophical library in the English-speaking world. One of his criticisms is that the "Masters" Leadbeater claimed to be in contact with were creations of his own mind. Interestingly enough, this argument from a TS member became almost paradigmatic with a number of those who write about the subject.
N. Sri Ram and E. L. Gardner at Camberley, Surrey, UK, in 1959.
N. Sri Ram, international President at that time, commented on Gardner's work (The Theosophist, February 1964) and even agreed with him in his attitude of skepticism about certain things, for example "the discrepancy between the view of the Masters on religion, God, etc., as stated in The Mahatma Letters, and the statement that the Liberal Catholic Church ritual and various details of ecclesiatical procedure had Their approval." But he also added: “I feel that no one – and not only Brother Leadbeater – should be considered infallible, and such a view is consistent with the highest respect to the person concerned, and with faith in his integrity.”
Theosophy is for all
Both Besant and Leadbeater referred their readers to The Secret Doctrine, which is the source-text of modern Theosophy. But they also took very seriously the mandate given by the Maha-Chohan in his communication via Mahatma K.H. (1881): "To popularise a knowledge of Theosophy". As Besant explained in the preface to the Theosophical Manuals (1896):
Some have complained that our literature is at once too abstruse, too technical, and too expensive for the ordinary reader, and it is our hope that the present series may succeed in supplying what is a very real want. Theosophy is not only for the learned; it is for all. It may be that among those who in these little books catch their first glimpse of its teachings, there may be a few who will be led by them to penetrate more deeply into its philosophy, its science, and its religion, facing its abstruser problems with the student’s zeal and the neophyte’s ardour. But these manuals are not written for the eager student, whom no initial difficulty can daunt; they are written for the busy men and women of the work-a-day world, and seek to make plain some of the great truths that render life easier to bear and death easier to face.
There was, and I think there still is, a great deal of gratitude to CWL in the TS for his many years of dedicated service, his many books and his overall contribution. Some of his books are no longer reprinted, like Man: Whence, How and Whither, The Lives of Alcyone, among others. But the fact that there is still demand for his books indicates that his message is found useful. In Brazil, for example, I have seen his books for sale in bus terminals in very remote areas of the country.
A Vision of the Future?
One of the fair principles regarding published works is that they are to be judged on their own merit. I would like to draw attention to two passages of Man: Whence, How and Whither. It is a record of clairvoyant investigations done at Adyar in the summer of 1910 by both Besant and Leadbeater, although the parts I am quoting from refer to his vision of the distant future:
The daily newspaper has disappeared – or perhaps we may rather say that it survives in a much amended form. To make it comprehensible it must be premised that in each house there is a machine which is a kind of combination of a telephone and recording tape-machine. This is in connection with a central office in the capital city, and is so arranged that not only can one speak through it as through a telephone, but that anything written or drawn upon a specially prepared plate and put into the box of the large machine at the central office will reproduce itself automatically upon slips which fall into the box of the machine in each of the houses. What takes the place of the morning newspaper is managed in this way. It may be said that each person has his newspaper printed in his own house. When any news of importance arrives at any time it is instantly forwarded in this way to every house in the community; but a special collection of such news is sent early each morning and is commonly called Community Breakfast Chat. (chapter xxvi)
Was he describing, in the language of his time, what we now call the Internet?
Practically the whole world has federated itself politically. Europe seems to be a Confederation with a kind of Reichstag, to which all countries send representatives. This central body adjusts matters, and Kings of the various countries are Presidents of the Confederation in rotation. (chapter xxvii)
Was he describing what we know today as the European Union and the European Parliament?
The late Dr Hugh Shearman, a distinguished TS member, who was awarded the Subba Row Medal in 1996 for his contribution to theosophical literature, in his article "Exploring the Past" (The Theosophist, May 1985) questioned the way we perceive history and historical events:
Probably most people think that history is the story of the past. History, however, is by no means the story of the past; it is the story of the past constructed by certain methods and according to certain standards.
People also imagine that history is either true or not true. Again the idea must be rejected, for the truth of any work of history can never be more than relative. It must depend on the material available for its construction, the adequacy of the methods used and the standards of judgement prevailing at the time when it was written. ...
History, then, is no simple tale of the past events. It is a demanding discipline which extends a challenge not only to our view of the past but to our view of the present, from which it can never provide an escape. It is truly 'theosophical' in that it asks more questions than it can answer.
Madame Blavatsky on CWL
The letters of Madame Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett are a clear evidence of her attitude towards him. In one of them she says:
It is not to Leadbeater, dear Mr. Sinnett, that you ought to have written about the suppression of everything in The Theosophist relating to me and my defence, but to the Executive Council at Adyar.
(The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, letter LIII)
Its members were Norendro Nath Sen, A.J. Cooper-Oakley, Franz Hartmann, S. Ramaswamier, Naoroji Dorabji Khandalavala, H.R. Morgan, Gyanendranath Chakravarti, Nobin K. Bannerji, T. Subba Row, P. Sreenivasrow, P. Iyaloo Naidu, Rudolph Gebhard, R. Raghoonath Row and S. Subramania Iyer. This Committee met in December, 1884, during the TS Convention at Adyar. (Source: Old Diary Leaves, Third Series, p.192)
In another letter she says:
See how those Theosophists love each other! Now Leadbeater is accused of having turned from a thoroughly good man into a bad Anglo-Indian, under the influence of Cooper-Oakley! He is accused of saying bad things of me, and what not! (LBS, letter L)
H. P. Blavatsky in an 1889 photograph by Enrico Resta.
But it is in a letter of 1886 to CWL (who was in Ceylon at that time, helping with the educational work Col. Olcott had started there), published in the HPB Centenary Issue of The Theosophist (August 1931), with editorial comments by C. Jinarajadasa, that she makes two direct references of CWL as a chela (disciple) of the Masters. The subject of this letter is "Bawajee" (Dharbagiri Nath), an Indian chela who had been sent to Europe to help in the TS work there but who later turned against both HPB and the Society. Some letters by both HPB and Countess Wachtmeister, in Letters from Blavatsky to Sinnett, also deal with the "Bawajee" (sometimes referred to as "Bawaji") crisis. I quote relevant portions of the letter:
My dearest Leadbeater,
I was glad – sincerely – to receive your welcome letter. As to the enclosure I really do not take upon myself to send it. I cannot do it, my dear friend; I swore not to deliver any more letters and Master has given me the right and privilege to refuse it. So that I have put it aside and send it to you back as I received it. If Mahatma K.H. had accepted or wanted to read the letter he would have taken it away from my box, and it remaining in its place shows me that he refuses it. Now learn new developments. Bawajee is entirely against us and bent on the ruin of the T.S. A month ago he was in London and ready to sail back to India. Now, he is here - heaven knows when he will go away for he lives with Franz Gebhard (the elder son who sides with him and whom he has utterly psychologized) and he has sown dissention and strife in Gebhard family, the mother, father, and two sons Arthur and Rudolph remaining true to the teachings of Masters and me and F. siding with him. ... Moreover, he has slandered persistently Subba Row, Damodar, Olcott and everyone at Adyar. He made many Europeans lose confidence in them. Subba Row, he says, never said a truth in his life to a European; he bamboozles them always and is a liar; Damodar is a great liar also; he alone (Bawajee) knows the Masters, and what They are. In short, he makes of our Mahatmas inaccesible, impersonal Beings, so far away that no one can reach Them!!! At the same time he contradicts himself: to one he says he was 10 y. [years] with Mahatma K.H.; to another 3 years, again he went several times to Tibet and saw the Master only from afar when he entered and came out of the temple. He lies most awfully. The truth is the he (B.) has never been to Tibet and has never seen his Master 100 miles off. NOW, I have the assurance of it from my Master Himself. He was a chela on probation. When he came to Bombay to the Headquarters, your Master ordered me to tell all He accepted Krishnaswami, and had sent him to live with us and work for the T.S.
T. Subba Row, Bawajee and HPB, Madras, circa 1883
Later on in the same letter to CWL, HPB writes:
When I showed him Master's writing in which your Mahatma corroborated my statement and affirmed that he (Bawajee) "had never seen HIM or go to Tibet" - Mr. B. coolly said it was a spook letter, for the Mahatma could neither write letters, nor would He ever say anything about his chelas.
She then ends her letter to CWL with encouragement and affection:
Good bye, my dear fellow, don't lose courage however. The Masters are with us and will protect all those who stand firm by Them. Write to Ostende, poste restante to me, I will be there tomorrow.
Yours ever faithfully,
H. P. Blavatsky
C. Jinarajadasa adds the following editorial comment:
[On line 5 of this letter, H.P.B. informs C.W. Leadbeater regarding the letter which he sent her to be forwarded to the Master K.H.: "I have put it aside and send it to you back as I received it". But when C.W. Leadbeater opened the envelope, the letter was no longer there. But on the last page of H.P.B.'s letter, there were written, across the page diagonally, in the well-known blue-pencil handwriting of the Master K.H., the following words, evidently precipitated in transit through the post:
Take courage. I am pleased with you. Keep
your own counsel and believe in your better
intuitions. The little man (2) has failed and
will reap his reward. SILENCE meanwhile.
(2) ["Bawajee", who was small in stature] C.J.
The above communication from Master K.H. to CWL is included as Letter 37 in Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series.
Facsimile reproduction of part of Madame Blavatsky’s letter to C. W. Leadbeater, of June 1886, with the message of the Master K.H. written in transit through the post. (Source: The Theosophist, February 1927)
An Independent Investigator
In a letter written in January 1923, CWL answered to an enquirer as to how to undertake the
study of Theosophy. (Published in The Theosophist, October 1967)
The broad ideas must be assimilated first, and they must be realized as facts in Nature. The most important thing about Theosophy is its effect upon practical life; and to obtain that, a man must put himself into the Theosophical attitude towards his surroundings and should learn to look at everything from theTheosophical point of view.
As an independent thinker, CWL was presenting his own understanding of the original teachings and there is plenty of room in theosophical studies for that. The fierce exchanges between HPB and Subba Row (The Theosophist, April 1887 onwards) are an example of it. HPB preferred the septenary constitution for both the human being and the cosmos, while Subba Row held to the fourfold division.
CWL never claimed that his books had been dictated by a Master. He wrote them himself. In An Outline of Theosophy, for example, he wrote:
Furthermore, I claim that it [the Theosophical teaching] is a fact which may be verified at first hand by any person who is willing to devote the time and trouble necessary to fit himself for the investigation. I am not offering to the reader a creed to be swallowed like a pill; I am trying to set before him a system to study, and above all, a life to live. I ask no blind faith from him; I simply suggest to him the consideration of the Theosophical teaching as a hypothesis, though to me it is no hypothesis, but a living fact.
The Open Field of Theosophical Investigation
Some have suggested that because his teachings departed, in some respects, from the teachings of HPB, they are not true. In this regard, it is interesting to consider the following statement by Madame Blavatsky on absolute and relative truth:
To sum up the idea, with regard to absolute and relative truth, we can only repeat what we said before. Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of mind, during which Man is at one with the UNIVERSAL MIND – he can get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from whatsoever philosophy or religion. Were even the goddess who dwells at the bottom of the well to issue from her place of confinement, she could give man no more than he can assimilate. Meanwhile, every one can sit near that well – the name of which is KNOWLEDGE – and gaze into its depths in the hope of seeing Truth’s fair image reflected, at least, on the dark waters. This, however, as remarked by Richter, presents a certain danger. Some truth, to be sure, may be occasionally reflected as in a mirror on the spot we gaze upon, and thus reward the patient student. But, adds the German thinker, “I have heard that some philosophers in seeking for Truth, to pay homage to her, have seen their own image in the water and adored it instead.”
("What is Truth?", Blavatsky Collected Writings, vol. IX)
CWL's writings are based on the fundamental principles of Theosophy as presented by HPB, i.e., the fundamental unity of all existence, the cyclicity and lawfulness of the universe and the essential identity between the human consciousness and the universal Spirit. But he was not just a writer, he was also an investigator of the unseen dimensions of existence. Like every clairvoyant, whatever he "saw" was through the filter of his own cultural and intellectual background. He said numerous times that he did not expect his readers to believe him, but that he only reported what he had seen.
Some of the things he saw were corroborated later on. For example, he did see a great spiritual teacher in the young Krishnamurti, although he probably did not foresee the form in which the teacher would express himself later on. He declared to Ernest Wood, his assistant at Adyar at that time (1909) that there was no particle of selfishness in Krishnaji’s aura. The capacity to see a great spiritual potential in a malnourished, lice-ridden, vacant-looking poor boy was indeed a remarkable achievement.
There are clear differences between Theosophy as presented in HPB's writings and in the Mahatma Letters and CWL's presentation. If one may say so, the original presentation is utterly impersonal and profoundly metaphysical. It is, as the Mahatmas and HPB mentioned, a system, which is logical, consistent and based on fundamental premises. In CWL's case, his presentation was bound to be distinct from the early teaching since most of it consists of descriptions of clairvoyant investigations which he undertook. He was bound to differ in some instances from the original teachings because he was describing things that he himself had seen as an independent researcher, and he recognized, more than once, that there were many pitfalls on the path of the investigator. In his writings he always regarded The Secret Doctrine as the main source of the theosophical teaching, although he aimed at a presentation of Theosophy which was accessible to the vast majority of readers.
What is remarkable is the fact that his books have helped countless people for the past one hundred years. Many, in many countries, who have proceeded to study the early literature, may not quote him any more in their books and articles, but in their hearts are grateful for the contribution of a man that helped to bring the light of Theosophy to thousands in this world. Although his writings may apparently contradict some ideas of the early literature, they are clearly imbued with the same altruistic spirit which was inculcated by the Founders of the Theosophical Movement.
A Prolific and Influential Writer
CWL wrote over 1400 articles published in different theosophical magazines worldwide in a span of forty-six years. He lectured for the Society in many continents. He had almost a hundred books and booklets published, which were translated and published in many languages. His books brought the teachings of Theosophy to dozens of thousands in many countries. It is simply impossible to compute the number of students who proceeded to study the deeper teachings of Theosophy after an introductory acquaintance through his books.
His joint work with Annie Besant on Occult Chemistry has received renewed attention recently and is due to feature in a biography of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry of 1922, Francis William Aston. His observations on the inner aspect of ceremonies attracted the attention of many students, both within and outside the TS.
The above plate, from the book Thought-Forms by Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater (1901), depicting a clairvoyant description of sudden fright, was published on the opposite page of the title page of the book The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985, co-published by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Abbeville Press Publishers, New York, in 1986. The above publication was part of an exhibition that included in its schedule the Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Haags Gemeentemuseum, The Hague, during the period of November 1986 and November 1987. In the abovementioned book there are eleven references to the book Thought-Forms as well as to Leadbeater’s books Man Visible and Invisible and The Chakras, illustrating the influence of Besant’s and Leadbeater’s clairvoyant investigations on key exponents of the Modern Art Movement like Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Hilma af Klint.
Sense of Humour
CWL also cultivated a sense of humour as the following example shows. In August 1931, writing to a correspondent, he presented his unique perception of the funeral of Madame Blavatsky:
The most interesting thing I have seen here this week is a new edition of a book that was published forty years ago, directly after H.P.B.’s demise. It is called H.P.B.: In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky by Some of her Pupils. It may be said to consist of a number of essays or short tributes to H.P.B. by some of those who had been in close association with her; and it has its value from that point of view, as showing how thoroughly they appreciated her even then. We now are sometimes called upon to give our memories of her; but after all forty years have passed, and though they have certainly not lessened our love for her they may have diminished the sharpness of our memories; whereas this book gives you direct testimony of what people had seen and known up to a few days before her death. It gives an account of her actual passing away and of her cremation, which I think would interest you; but it does not mention one feature of that cremation which struck me as very characteristic – that she herself attended it in her astral body, and came so near to materialization that she frightened a horse to such an extent that he overturned the carriage to which he was attached, and spilled four people out of it on to the drive just in front of the door of the Crematorium! I think that on the whole she liked Mead’s speech and the general demeanour of the people, but she was distinctly scornful of some who wept uncontrolledly. Some of you may have seen the book, since it was issued in London by the Blavatsky Association; quite possibly it may have a good sale.
A Modern Seer
He always considered it his duty to observe the inner realities of existence and to report his observations as accurately as possible. He declared, more than once, that he did not expect people to believe his clairvoyant descriptions of the unseen world, although he said that for him they were a reality. If we take any teaching as final and absolute we stultify our inquiry and our capacity to learn more about life and about ourselves. Let us take, for example, the teaching about the after-death states, which a number of students of HPB’s writings very often use as an example of why, in their opinion, CWL's writings are wrong. If there is, for the most part, only unconsciousness after death, as such students claim, why is it that the Tibetan Book of the Dead, to mention only one tradition, affirms the existence of several bardos (transitional states) which consciousness goes through from death to rebirth?
This is what Sogyal Rinpoche says in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying (HarperCollins, 1994):
During the first weeks of the bardo, we have the impression that we are a man or woman, just as in our previous life. We do not ealize that we are dead. We return home to meet our family and loved ones. We try to talk to them, to touch them on the shoulder. But they do not reply, or even show they are aware we are there. As hard as we try, nothing can make them notice us. We watch, powerless, as they weep or sit stunned and heartbroken over our death. Fruitlessly we try to make use of our belongings. Our place is no longer laid at the table, and arrangements are being made to dispose of our possessions. We feel angry, hurt, and frustrated,”like a fish”, says the Tibetan Book of the Dead, “writhing in hot sand.”
He also described a more dramatic experience:
Some Western people who recently visited Tibet told me about the following incident they had witnessed. One day a Tibetan walking by the side of the road was knocked over and killed instantly by a Chinese truck. A monk, who happened to be passing, quickly went over and sat next to the dead man lying on the ground. They saw the monk lean over him and recite some practice or other close to his ear; suddenly, to their astonishment, the dead man revived. The monk then performed a practice they recognized as the transference of consciousness, and guided him back calmly into death. What had happened? Clearly the monk had recognized that the violent shock of the man's death had left him terribly disturbed, and so the monk acted swiftly: first to free the dead man's mind from its distress, and then, by means of the phowa, to transfer it to a buddha realm or toward a good rebirth. To the Westerners who were watching, this monk seemed to be just an ordinary person, but this remarkable story shows that he was in fact a practitioner of considerable power.
Life on Mars?
Regarding Mars, CWL's clairvoyant descriptions were not confirmed, except for the one that says that there is life on Mars. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was quite laughable to affirm that. It does not seem that laughable now in view of expanding scientific knowledge. Recently, scientists in Europe have announced that a huge, frozen sea lies just below the surface of Mars. Professor John Murray, from the Open University, UK, said that "the fact that there have been warm and wet places beneath the surface of Mars since before life began on Earth, and that some are probably still there, means that there is a possibility that primitive micro-organisms survive on Mars today."
Both AB and CWL took responsibility for their books and did not claim approval of a higher authority for them. In the Introduction to one of their most controversial books, Man: Whence, How and Whither, Besant and Leadbeater wrote:
The writers of this book, having been taught the method of gaining touch [with the "Memory of Nature"], but being subject to the difficulties involved in their uncompleted evolution, have done their best to observe and transmit, but are fully conscious of the many weaknesses which mar their work. Occasional help has been given to them by the Elder Brethren, in the way of broad outlines here and there, and dates where necessary.
As in the case of the related books which have preceded this in the Theosophical movement, the "treasure is in the earthen vessels", and, while gratefully acknowledging the help graciously given, they take the responsibility of all errors entirely on themselves.
Dora van Gelder Kunz’s Testimony
Dora van Gelder Kunz was born in 1904 at Tjeweng, near Djombang, in the Dutch East Indies, with clairvoyant faculties, which were further trained during her association with C. W. Leadbeater in Australia. She developed with Dr. Dolores Krieger, in the US, the Therapeutic Touch, which is a healing method used today by thousands of nurses in many countries. Dora Kunz was National President of the Theosophical Society in America from 1975 to 1987. She passed away in 1999.
Her publications include: The Chakras and the Human Energy Fields (with Dr. Shafica Karagulla), The Christmas of the Angels, Letting Go: Perspectives on Death and Dying (with Erik Peper), The Personal Aura, The Real World of Fairies: A First-Person Account, Spiritual Aspects of Healing and Therapeutic Touch, besides many audio CDs of her talks over a period of many years.
On the subject of clairvoyance, Renee Weber, in her foreword to Kunz’s book The Personal Aura, has this to say:
An acquaintance of mine – a successful and experienced psychiatrist who had already been through an analysis – once consulted Dora when he was at a crossroad in his life. "In all my life I have never felt so profoundly understood by anyone," he later told me. "I felt as if she could see right to the bottom of me. The nuances of her perception are without equal in my experience." A complex, skeptical and critical man, he offered the opinion that, although he did not believe in clairvoyance, he believed that Dora was indeed clairvoyant.
Dora van Gelder Kunz
Later on in the book, writing about her personal history, the author wrote:
As for my clairvoyance, I suppose I began to become aware of it and develop it when I was around six or seven years of age. At about that time, C. W. Leadbeater (who was a famous clairvoyant and theosophical author) came to visit us, and he was very much interested in me and what I saw. Later on, when I was about twelve years old, we went to live in Australia and I was in contact with him daily for a number of years. I cannot say that he ever trained me in the use of my clairvoyance, but he did put specific tasks to me – some of which were very difficult for a shy young girl – and through trying to accomplish these tasks I learned to have more confidence in myself.
But perhaps the early training which has been most useful to me came from my father's insistence that I think for myself and learn to uphold my ideas in spite of opposition. My father loved argument, and he made me defend the positions I took, so that I learned I could not take anything for granted.
Thus at an early age I was taught not to expect that people would necessarily agree with me. This has stood me in good stead in my work with the medical profession, for if I happen to be associated with doctors who are skeptical about my clairvoyance, this attitude does not seem unreasonable to me and never interferes with my willingness to collaborate with them. In other words, I am not bothered by the fact that people may think clairvoyance is nonsense, for I believe that every person has the right to accept claims of others only if they make sense to him or her.
Danger of Dogmatic Interpretations
Madame Blavatsky warned her students against dogmatic interpretations of Theosophy. In the Bowen Notes, for example, it is said:
If one imagines that one is going to get a satisfactory picture of the constitution of the Universe from the S.D. [The Secret Doctrine] one will get only confusion from its study. It is not meant to give any such final verdict on existence, but to LEAD TOWARDS THE TRUTH. She repeated this latter expression many times.
It is worse than useless going to those whom we imagine to be advanced students (she said) and asking them to give us an "interpretation" of the S.D. They cannot do it. If they try, all they give are cut and dried exoteric renderings which do not remotely resemble the Truth. To accept such interpretation means anchoring ourselves to fixed ideas, whereas Truth lies beyond any ideas we can formulate or express. Exoteric interpretations are all very well, and she does not condemn them so long as they are taken as pointers for beginners, and are not accepted by them as anything more. Many persons who are in, or who will in the there are, and will be others, and for them she sets out the following and true way of approach to the S.D.
Come to the S.D. (she says) without any hope of getting the final Truth of existence from it, or with any idea other than seeing how far it may lead TOWARDS the Truth. See in study a means of exercising and developing the mind never touched by other studies.
Later on, there is a comment on the approach to the study of the SD:
This mode of thinking (she says) is what the Indians call Jnana Yoga. As one progresses in Jnana Yoga one finds conceptions arising which though one is conscious of them, one cannot express nor yet formulate into any sort of mental picture. As time goes on these conceptions will form into mental pictures. This is a time to be on guard and refuse to be deluded with the idea that the new found and wonderful picture must represent reality. It does not. As one works on one finds the once admired picture growing dull and unsatisfying, and finally fading out or being thrown away. This is another danger point, because for the moment one is left in a void without any conception to support one, and one may be tempted to revive the cast-off picture for want of a better to cling to. The true student will, however, work on unconcerned, and presently further formless gleams come, which again in time give rise to a larger and more beautiful picture than the last. But the learner will now know that no picture will ever represent the Truth. This last splendid picture will grow dull and fade like the others. And so the process goes on, until at last the mind and its pictures are transcended and the learner enters and dwells in the World of NO FORM, but of which all forms are narrowed reflections.
Note the statement: "But the learner will now know that no picture will ever represent the Truth." Please note CWL's statement at the end of the Introduction to The Astral Plane:
(...) there is no certainty that the idea presented before the hearer's mind will be an adequate representation of the truth.
Madame Blavatsky and a dedication
And to conclude, a tribute of HPB by CWL:
It is not the method of great spiritual teachers to make everything easy for us. I first came into touch with occultism through Madame Blavatsky. She gave occasional crumbs of knowledge to her people, but she constantly applied rigorous tests to them. It was a drastic method, but those who really meant business remained with her, while others very soon abandoned her. She cured us of conventionality, but there was much searching of hearts among her followers in the process. Many people said she did things which a great spiritual teacher ought not to do. My own feeling was always this: "Madame Blavatsky has this occult knowledge, and I am going to get that knowledge from her, if she will give it to me. Whatever else she does is her affair. I am not here to criticize her; to her own Master she stands or falls, and not to me. She may have her own reasons for what she does; I do not know anything about that. She has this knowledge, she speaks of these Masters. I intend to get this knowledge; I intend, if it is humanly possible, to reach the feet of those Masters." I gave up everything else to follow her lead, and I have never regretted the confidence I placed in Madame Blavatsky. If one is critical by nature it is his karma; he will learn much more slowly than the man who is prepared to accept things reasonably.
(Talks on the Path of Occultism, vol. 1, p. 247, TPH Adyar, 1930)
Is it any wonder then that on the copy of The Key to Theosophy which she presented to him in 1891, she wrote (see below the facsimile reproduction of her own handwritten dedication to Charles Leadbeater. Source: The “K.H.” Letters to C. W. Leadbeater - with a commentary by C. Jinarajadasa)
"To my old and well-beloved friend
from his fraternally
H. P. Blavatsky."