An increasing number of Theosophists are hearing about the annual event known as the ITC or International Theosophy Conference. These conferences are organised by International Theosophy Conferences Inc. which is currently led by five main officers (President, two Vice-Presidents, Treasurer, Secretary) supported by a board of eight directors.
In the article The Four Branches of the Theosophical Movement we have provided a brief but accurate overview and summary of the four branches or “streams” of the Theosophical Movement which exist today, namely The Theosophical Society – Adyar, The Theosophical Society – Point Loma, The Theosophical Society – Pasadena, and the United Lodge of Theosophists. The ITC conferences are organised and attended by individuals from each of these branches of the Movement, as well as by unaffiliated and independent Theosophists from around the world.
Its website – theosconf.org – states under the heading “Purposes of ITC”:
“International Theosophy Conferences Inc. is a platform where Theosophical organizations and all other earnest students of Theosophy meet. This infers that ITC won’t typically function as another Theosophical vehicle, in spreading Theosophy itself. Instead ITC is committed to connect all Theosophists, supporting them in their common cause in the light of the purposes of ITC, which are:
“1. To maintain the principles of the Modern Theosophical Movement presented by H. P. B. as a living power in the minds and hearts of Humanity, encouraging explorations in the light of her teachings.
“2. To foster mutual meaningful intercommunication, understanding and respect among the Theosophical mainstreams, stimulating thereby continuous spiritual Unity.
“3. To be a platform, supporting and sponsoring the annual international Conference of Theosophical Organizations.
“4. To unite people in sharing the Philosophy of Theosophy, studying and further exploring Religion, Philosophy and Science from a Theosophical Perspective.”
Taken at face value, this sounds good, noble, and inspiring. Why, then, is there such growing concern about the ITC amongst numerous Theosophists? We say “growing” because we know that a number of people who were formerly on its board of directors and connected with it in other capacities have over the past two or three years entirely distanced themselves from it and privately informed others that they wish to have nothing more to do with it. Others who have attended ITC events have said that they won’t be going to any more.
We have even received an anonymous e-mail from a visitor to our site who, amongst other things, shared his or her view that the ITC poses a major threat to the future vitality and effectiveness of the genuine Theosophical Movement, by which he/she meant the work of those Theosophists who are committed to presenting and promoting the Theosophical teachings in the way they were originally given to the world.
This raises some important questions that need to be addressed.
One involves the way in which the work and events of the ITC are generally promoted by its associates and supporters. On Facebook, for example, members of most Theosophy-related groups have probably noticed repeated instances of what can only be described as “ITC Spamming.” One particular individual proceeds to join Facebook groups and thereafter attempts to flood the group pages on an almost daily basis with posts, links, and comments promoting and praising the ITC. The same person, or perhaps several, also goes round lots of Theosophy-related groups and pages posting comments simply consisting of the ITC website address link.
We can only conclude that such people are either deliberate and conscious spammers or extremely overzealous about what they view as a good cause.
Either way, this is hardly desirable and easily leads to the ITC being viewed in a somewhat negative or suspect light by those who are well aware that this is nothing other than the spamming tactic known as “flooding,” in which a spammer does his or her best to (a) keep something constantly before the eyes and mind of those he wants to influence and affect, and (b) “drown out” existing posts and focus in a group or on a page by replacing them with his own.
Whether engaged in consciously or not, this is certainly what’s going on in the world of Facebook on an ever increasing basis and seemingly without any attempts to challenge, prevent, or at least reduce it. Even those who support the ITC can surely see that this isn’t the right way to go about doing things.
Then there’s the influence of Point Loma on all of this. In the article referred to earlier, we gave a summary of The Theosophical Society – Point Loma as follows:
“Focus and Teachings: The writings and teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge, Katherine Tingley, and G. de Purucker, with special and overriding emphasis on those by de Purucker.
“International Headquarters: The Hague, NETHERLANDS. Formerly San Diego, California, USA, as this Society and the Pasadena Society were originally one international Society, which split into two on disputed “successorship” grounds in 1951.
“International Influence: Several Lodges and Study Groups in the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden. There are also members in other countries, predominantly the USA, but no regular meetings are held there. The Society also organises two international conferences every year, the I.S.I.S. Symposium in the Hague and the Point Loma Convivium in San Diego, California. It is also heavily involved with the organisation of the annual ITC or International Theosophy Conference.
“Leadership and Organisation: An international Leader, who is always appointed by his/her predecessor as their successor, and remains Leader (equivalent to President) for life. There is no voting or elections. Each claims to be able to trace his successorship back to H.P. Blavatsky in a direct and unbroken line of chosen successors. The current international Leader is Herman Vermeulen.”
Herman Vermeulen is one of the most influential people behind ITC and is one of its two Vice Presidents. Although the location of the annual ITC conference is ideally meant to vary each year, the 2015 conference will be held in the Netherlands, as was the 2014 conference. The official program for the 2014 conference described Vermeulen as “a member of The Theosophical Society Point-Loma Blavatskyhouse since 1973. He has led this organization from 1985 onwards.”
True, but why not be open and honest enough to say it like it is? He has not only “led this organization” but claims to be H.P. Blavatsky’s true “Successor.” Presumably most, if not all, Point Loma Theosophists view and accept him as such. After all, he has even drawn up a chart for the Point Loma Society’s website in which he attempts to illustrate his direct line or lineage of occult successorship from HPB, purportedly via William Q. Judge, Katherine Tingley, G. de Purucker, A.L. Conger, W. Hartley, and D.J.P. Kok. (See http://www.blavatskyhouse.org/Theosophical_Society)
Unfortunately for the Point Loma Theosophists, the Leader of The Theosophical Society – Pasadena, namely Randell C. Grubb, also claims to be HPB’s true successor. Who then is the real one? Or is it neither?
A strong emphasis on “successorship” and “leadership” characterised not only Gottfried de Purucker’s own Theosophical career but still characterises these two existing organisations which survive as the remnants of the original Point Loma Theosophical Society over which he – and Katherine Tingley before him – presided. The emphasis and the very notion of Theosophical “leadership succession” is misplaced and misleading and it’s rather surprising that people are still willing to take either Vermeulen or Grubb seriously whilst they continue to keep up such a transparent and nonsensical pretence.
These are the only two of the four branches of the Movement today which continue to make such outrageous claims, although they have admittedly become less loud about it in recent decades, probably because the “Successors/Leaders” themselves feel somewhat embarrassed or ashamed to make such assertions about themselves.
Certainly Herman Vermeulen seems very shy and reticent about informing the crowds of ITC attendees of his true status (as he perceives it) and we wonder why. Perhaps because he is intelligent enough to realise the reaction of disbelief and lack of confidence – if not worse – that such a declaration is likely to evoke. We are sure, however, that Theosophists at large would prefer him to be open and up front about it rather than hiding his grandiose claim under a bushel. Let all those in attendance know that the man standing before them is the self-proclaimed “Successor” of H.P. Blavatsky and then see whether they are still as eager and open to his notions of “unity” and “fraternisation.”
It is perhaps not insignificant that a great number of those involved and connected with ITC, including its most prolific online spammers, are members of the Point Loma Society. Do these Theosophists truly desire a proper unity and harmony between all the various branches of the Theosophical Movement or do they secretly hope that some day all other Theosophists may unite under their banner with Vermeulen as supreme leader?
This was the aim and intention of the latter’s predecessor, G. de Purucker. It is quite well known in Theosophical circles that de Purucker placed emphasis on the need for union and unity amongst Theosophists and the various different Theosophical organisations and associations. The “Fraternization Movement” which he initiated is often referred to and praised today by ITC supporters, particularly those belonging to Point Loma, yet they tend to either whitewash, overlook, or simply not know about de Purucker’s actual aims and intents for such Theosophical fraternisation.
His seventh general letter to Society members, dated 11th July 1930, makes it clear:
“The fundamental cause of the trouble and distress in the other Theosophical Societies … is that none, outside of our own, recognizes and follows a responsible Teacher and Leader. … The great need of the Theosophical Movement, as contrasted with any Theosophical Society, is a living pulsating Heart, and an esoterically trained Mind, such Heart and Mind united in a Teacher and Leader whom all can trust. … The lack of such a spiritual Head accounts for the actual existence of these various Theosophical Societies, …
“Were all the Theosophical Societies to recognise one common Head as Leader and Teacher, my conviction is that all these troubles and intestinal difficulties and squabbles and the internecine war that is so frequently waged among them, would vanish as mists before the Sun. … Of course this is but one way of expressing the fact … of an esoteric succession of authorised and capable Teachers and Leaders.”
He had earlier written, in the fifth letter, that –
“Following instructions that have been given to me in very definite form, it is my duty to tell you that the time has now come when every true and devoted Theosophist should work toward a unification of the various, more or less scattered, and, in some cases, alas, antagonistic Societies of the general Theosophical Movement. Our own Constitution is so broad in its foundations and in spirit is so esoteric, … that I do believe that it is a model instrument under which every devoted believer in Theosophical teachings can work, no matter to what Theosophical Society he may belong.
“Comradeship, brotherhood, unity, union, combined efforts, and the sense of Theosophic solidarity, belong to the distinctive spirit of the new Theosophical Era into which we of the T.S. are now entering. …
“Addressing myself, therefore, specifically and directly to my own beloved F.T.S., I will tell you the following: Any member of any other Theosophical Society can become a Fellow of the T.S. under our Constitution and under my leadership, without of necessity feeling that he or she must resign from the other Theosophical Society in which he first saw the gleams of Theosophical Light. …
“Our Constitution is broad enough, I believe, to satisfy anyone. Our ideals are they of the original Theosophical Society of our beloved H.P.B.; our methods, as far as we can put them into operation at the present time, are identic with those of our beloved H.P.B.; and as regards policy, my policy and that of my great-hearted Predecessor Katherine Tingley, are identic, without a hair’s breadth of variation from that followed by H.P.B., under the command of her great Teachers.”
Purucker’s call for fraternisation and unification was for unification under HIM and HIS Society, with HIM as the “responsible Teacher and Leader whom all can trust,” “the spiritual Head,” and “one common Head.” Not surprisingly, neither this nor his gracious and generous offer that “any member of any other Theosophical Society can become a Fellow of the T.S. under our Constitution and under my leadership, without of necessity feeling that he or she must resign from the other Theosophical Society in which he first saw the gleams of Theosophical Light” were very appealing or inviting to other Theosophists and were thus almost entirely ignored and rejected.
Theosophists in general do not “crave” and “long for” a “Theosophical Leader and Teacher whom they can trust.” But de Purucker, caught up in and blinded by his own sense of spiritual self-importance, felt otherwise, as evidenced in these rather ridiculous words:
“There are Theosophists belonging to different societies in the world today who are heart-hungry for Theosophic truth, and for Theosophic guidance. They crave, they long for, a Theosophical Leader and Teacher whom they can trust; …
“The stream of Inspiration and Holy Light flows even now with undiminished intensity … Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. … Oh my beloved Theosophists! Take heed and listen well! You can drink at these Pierian Springs still, if such is your wish.”
Compare such words with Vermeulen’s words in recent issues of his Society’s “Lucifer” magazine about the vital importance, if not necessity, of Theosophists having “a strong Leader” to keep them united and directed, and one may see a pattern beginning to be repeated.
But on the other hand, Point Loma, Pasadena, Adyar, and the ULT, are all described and referred to by some of the ITC’s most influential figures as being merely “traditions.” They speak of “the Point Loma tradition” or “the ULT tradition.” If any branch of the Theosophical Movement is simply a “tradition,” we may as well forget all about it right now. Each and every branch of the Movement is meant to be something living and active, working for the great Theosophical Cause, and not a “tradition.” While it’s undeniable that any organisation or association eventually ends up having some of its own traditions, in terms of its customary way of doing things, none should end up actually being a tradition.
To describe any branch of the Movement as a “tradition” is to belittle and depreciate it, in our view at least. Any association which views and describes itself as a “tradition” is probably already half dead. Theosophists ought to be interested in genuine Theosophy and the genuine Theosophical Movement – which latter transcends any man-made organisation or association – and not in traditions.
As its name suggests, the United Lodge of Theosophists was established – by Robert Crosbie in 1909 – with a particular emphasis on union and unity.
Crosbie once wrote in a letter, “There are hundreds who have gone off on one wrong track or another. They all have some good traits – Karmic inheritances; but these do not bring Wisdom nor Will. They need guidance, not leadership. Study and work is their only salvation and we can help them all to the degree that our Karma and theirs permits, if only by example. Our work is with all Theosophists. As far as I can see, “U.L.T.” is the only real “olive branch” in the Movement, for it means peace with all, in unity of aim, purpose, and teaching.” (“The Friendly Philosopher” p. 386)
Three months prior to the founding of the ULT, Robert Crosbie sent out an open letter to many individual Theosophists. We reproduce it in full here because of its relevance to the subject currently under discussion.
~ * ~
TO ALL OPEN-MINDED THEOSOPHISTS
When the Messengers departed from this scene, all that was left here was the Message (exoteric and esoteric), and its students of more or less proficiency in the assimilation of that Message.
With the altruistic example of the Messengers and the inspiration of the Message, the Theosophical Society should have been able to stand alone and united.
Unfortunately, history tells another story; disintegration began at once, and still goes on, and a grand opportunity to impress the world with the spirit and life of the Message has been lost, through neglect of the essentials and pursuit of non-essentials.
The First Object—the most important of all—the others being subsidiary—has been lost sight of in its direct bearing upon all the changes and differences that have occurred. “To form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood without any distinctions whatever” was, and is, the key to the situation. Let me quote a few sentences from H. P. B.’s last message to the American Theosophists in April, 1891:
“The critical nature of the stage on which we have entered is as well known to the forces that fight against us, as to those that fight on our side. No opportunity will be lost of sowing dissension, of taking advantage of mistaken and false moves, of instilling doubt, of augmenting difficulties, of breathing suspicions, so that by any and every means the unity of the Society may be broken and the ranks of our Fellows thinned and thrown into disarray. Never has it been more necessary for the members of the T. S. to lay to heart the old parable of the bundle of sticks than it is at the present time; divided, they will inevitably be broken, one by one; united, there is no force on earth able to destroy our Brotherhood. * * * After all, every wish and thought I can utter are summed up in this one sentence, the never- dormant wish of my heart: ‘BE THEOSOPHISTS, WORK FOR THEOSOPHY.'”
These were prophetic words—but the warning was not taken.
It now remains for those who are able to take the words that express the never-dormant wish of her heart as the key-note of the present and future: “Be Theosophists, work for Theosophy,” and get together on that kind of a basis; for these are the essentials.
The unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever and however situated, is SIMILARITY OF AIM, PURPOSE, AND TEACHING. The acceptance of this principle by all Theosophists would at once remove all barriers. A beginning must be made by those whose minds have become plastic by the buffetings of experience. An agreement between such is necessary; an assembling together in this spirit.
To give this spirit expression requires a declaration, and a name by which those making the declaration may be known.
To call it The Theosophical Society would be to take the name now in use by at least two opposing organizations. To even call it a Society has the color of an “organization”—one of many, and would act as a barrier. The phrase used by one of the Messengers is significant, and avoids all conflict with organizations, being capable of including all without detriment to any. That phrase is:
THE UNITED LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS
Members of any organization or unattached, old and new students, could belong to it without disturbing their affiliations, for the sole condition necessary would be the acceptance of the principle of similarity of aim, purpose, and teaching. The binding spiritual force of this principle of brotherhood needs no such adventitious aids as Constitution or By-Laws—or Officers to administer them. With it as basis for union, no possible cause for differences could arise; no room is found here for leader or authority, for dogma or superstition, and yet—as there are stores of knowledge left for all—the right spirit must bring forth from “Those who never fail” all necessary assistance. The door seems open for those who would, but cannot see a way. Any considerable number, living, thinking, acting, upon this basis, must form a spiritual focus, from which all things are possible.
Local Lodges could be formed using the name and promulgating the basis of union, recognizing Theosophists as such, regardless of organization; open meetings; public work, keeping Theosophy and Brotherhood prominent; intercommunication between Lodges, free and frequent; comparing methods of work of local Lodges; mutual assistance; furtherance of the Great Movement in all directions possible; the motto: “Be Theosophists; work for Theosophy.”
THE WAY TO UNITE IS TO UNITE—NOTHING PREVENTS IF THAT IS THE DESIRE.
~ * ~
The “declaration” of the ULT states, in part, that “It holds that the unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever and however situated, is “similarity of aim, purpose and teaching,” and therefore has neither Constitution, By-Laws nor Officers, the sole bond between its Associates being that basis. And it aims to disseminate this idea among Theosophists in the furtherance of Unity.”
One might ask in what way the above differs from the aims and work of the ITC in its attempts to produce unity, union, and fraternal harmony amongst Theosophists. Perhaps the most obvious distinction is that neither Crosbie himself nor the ULT as an association ever set up special conferences or events designed to promote and achieve such an aim. He simply wrote a few important things about it, including composing the ULT Declaration which is largely derived in its wording from written statements by HPB and William Q. Judge, and left it at that, relying on Karma and people themselves to do something about it individually of their own accord.
The ideal of Theosophical Unity was as dear to Crosbie’s heart as it ostensibly is to those who run International Theosophy Conferences Inc. but the ULT has no interest, neither then nor now, in an external or superficial “unity” and “tolerance” amongst Theosophists.
The ITC have implied that one of the main things that puts seekers and searchers off from Theosophy is the lack of unity and brotherly co-operation between the different branches of the Movement. We disagree. People who are sincerely seeking after Truth are interested in Truth, wherever they may find it, and have next to no interest in the facts of organisational differences and disputes.
The ITC propound the idea that if only Theosophists could all just “get along” with each other and ideally forget about or ignore the reasons for their past differences, it would be a wonderful thing for the Theosophical Movement and for humanity. But in this case, who judges and decides as to what actually counts or doesn’t count as unity and tolerance? Who is the arbiter as to whether or not a Theosophist or Theosophical group is being truly brotherly and tolerant and working on the true lines of unity and harmony? The people who run the ITC! And these are mainly Adyar and Point Loma people, who have alone decided what is and isn’t “acceptable” or “right” amongst Theosophists in their relations and associations with one another.
For Robert Crosbie and the ULT, “tolerance does not mean “fraternizing” with everything and everyone that demands it [and the ITC certainly “demand” it, partly through their excessive use of the words “Unite” and “Unity” at each and every possible occasion!]; it only means that no one is to be condemned for his opinions. We may not care to spend time and energy in his direction, which is our privilege – and if he were himself tolerant he would not wish us to. Many who talk “tolerance” seem to think it means that every one else should endorse what they want to say or do. The tolerance is of little value which consists in the egotistical attempt to enlist the support of those who have their own duty to attend to.” (“The Friendly Philosopher” p. 372)
Again, true unity and tolerance “does not mean indiscriminate acceptance of everything and everyone. The attitude of “namby-pambyism” is but a pseudo-tolerance. Carried to its legitimate conclusion, this false idea of “brotherhood” would signify that sin, sorrow, suffering, error, all religions and all philosophies are all right; that everybody is doing the best he can, and the best he knows how to do, and cannot do any different, and that all are steps of learning.” (p. 12)
Members and prominent representatives of ITC have long implied, if not expressly stated, that in their view the attitude and approach of the ULT is one of the main hindrances to “Theosophical Unity.” The ULT has had its own conception for 106 years of what is necessary and essential in order to bring about real Theosophical Unity and now the ITC has theirs. But while the ULT as a whole has nothing to say about ITC and simply continues along its own lines, ITC has plenty to say about the ULT and makes it clear that in their view the ULT needs to change and become more tolerant and accepting of others, particularly other forms and presentations of “Theosophy” than those of HPB and WQJ. Who, then, are the intolerant and unbrotherly ones in this case? To many people, ITC’s approach verges on being describable as veiled pressure tactics and subtle bullying.
Indeed, the ULT tends to be the main brunt of the “theosophical jokes” made at some ITC events and in some ITC publications. Faithfulness and loyalty to HPB and the Masters’ own teachings is apparently something worthy of being mocked or ridiculed. Strangely enough, there are no “jokes” made about Annie Besant or C.W. Leadbeater or about lineages of occult successorship. We wonder why? Even the ULT’s policy of anonymity and impersonality is held up for criticism, questioning, and a false bemusement, despite the reasons behind this truly Theosophical practice having been clearly explained many times over many years by many people, including in our article On Anonymity and Impersonality.
What is emphasised in the ULT Declaration and in Robert Crosbie’s writings is (a) there is an “unassailable basis for union among Theosophists”, and (b) this “unassailable basis” is “similarity of aim, purpose and teaching.” The following is an excerpt from an article titled “Can Theosophists Reunite?” published in the Indian ULT’s monthly magazine “The Theosophical Movement” in March 2003:
“What has separated organizations of Theosophists? There are many reasons for this, and a recapitulation or analysis of these should serve only one purpose – avoidance of a repetition of errors. If unity on the physical plane is desired, then it must be preceded by unity on the inner planes of mind and heart, and by the redefinition of one’s own aims and objects, which should be in line with the original Impulse.
“Where to find the Lines laid down by the great founders of the Theosophical Movement? In the writings and teachings of H.P.B., the Masters’ Messenger for our era – where else? Do those so-called “Theosophists” who have accepted others as their teachers and who disregard or underrate H.P.B. and her teachings know Theosophy? How many accept the false as the true without verifying things for themselves! This indifference leads to biased attitudes and false claims, and gives rise to disunity.
“Unity has to be sought in matters of principle, and the external particulars will take care of themselves. If each one pays attention to his own work, his own virtues, and tries hard to reduce his real faults, unity will automatically result.
“We do not need large numbers of people who call themselves “Theosophists” and pretend externally to be “united”. We need an inner harmony and a unity of aim, purpose and teaching, achieved through individual study, discernment, discipline and sacrifice.”
Many of those connected with the ITC would object to such words as these, viewing them as “narrow,” “biased,” “dogmatic,” and so forth. We have observed in particular that such statements as “the redefinition of one’s own aims and objects, which should be in line with the original Impulse” tend to provoke and irritate many who are the most vocal about bringing about “Theosophical Unity.”
Incidentally, we are aware that some of the loudest promoters of such unity and of the ITC are certain members of the Adyar Theosophical Society, particularly its American section known as The Theosophical Society in America, who quite readily admit that they know nothing about the history of the Theosophical Movement and next to nothing about the life, work, and teachings of H.P. Blavatsky. Some of them have no wish to know anything about the facts of history and yet are the ones who call the loudest for “Unity” whilst remaining puzzled as to why those who do know their history are nowhere near as eager and keen about it as they are.
Emphasis on sticking to “the original” – as often referred to in and by the ULT – is considered outdated, old fashioned, unprogressive, and sectarian, by many ITC supporters. Yet the ITC claims to uphold HPB and her Masters first, last, and all the time. How, then, do they manage to overlook, ignore, or fail to mention the fact that it was the Masters and HPB themselves who repeatedly emphasised the vital importance and necessity of Theosophists staying true and faithful to what they variously called the original lines, the original program, the original impulse, the original system, and the original teachings?
Surely if one has genuine respect and reverence for THEM as their Teachers, one will do all in one’s power to endeavour to follow the lines and principles that THEY laid down, rather than imagine that they can somehow “improve” on and “modernise” them? Observe the emphasis made in the following excerpts (bold added), which are just a few of many that could be used to make this point:
“There are not many left true to the “original program”!” (Master Morya, “The Mahatma Letters” #XCVII, p. 433)
“Ready to lay down our life any day for THEOSOPHY – that great cause of the Universal Brotherhood for which we live and breathe – and willing to shield, if need be, every true theosophist with our own body, we yet denounce as openly and as virulently the distortion of the original lines upon which the Theosophical Society was primarily built, and the gradual loosening and undermining of the original system by the sophistry of many of its highest officers. . . . The wise horticulturist uproots the parasitic herbs, and will hardly lose time in using his garden shears to cut off the heads of poisonous weeds.” (H.P. Blavatsky, “Is Denunciation a Duty?”)
“Consider all this, and then tell me whether I am too sanguine when I say that if the Theosophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original impulses through the next hundred years – tell me, I say, if I go too far in asserting that earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now!” (H.P. Blavatsky, “The Key to Theosophy” p. 307)
“It is pure nonsense to say that “H.P.B. … is loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar” (?). H.P.B. is loyal to death to the Theosophical CAUSE, and those great Teachers whose philosophy alone can bind the whole of Humanity into one Brotherhood. … The degree of her sympathies with the “Theosophical Society and Adyar” depends upon the degree of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B. calling the T.S. disloyal, will shake it off like dust from her feet.” (H.P. Blavatsky, Supplement to “The Theosophist,” July 1889)
“Let it be clearly understood that the rest of my life is devoted only to those who believe in the Masters, and are willing to work for Theosophy as They understand it, and for the T.S. on the lines upon which They originally established it.” (H.P. Blavatsky, “Why I Do Not Return to India”)
“We welcome a witty satire always, and defy ridicule or any efforts in this direction to kill the Theosophical Society, so long as it, as a body, remains true to its original principles.” (H.P. Blavatsky, “On Pseudo-Theosophy”)
“I have sent Vol. I of the S.D. to Adyar and am now on Vol. II – the Archaic. This alone with the new information in it will be more than you will be able to digest in 25 years with the explanations promised – if you succeed in forming a Society of your own, faithful to the original programme and doctrine and the Masters, or their teaching.” (H.P. Blavatsky, “The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett” #C, p. 222)
If the ULT is “dogmatic” and “fundamentalist” then so are HPB and the Masters!
The fact of the Closing Cycle is also conveniently overlooked and ignored by many ITC proponents. Despite it being very clearly stated by HPB, WQJ, and the Masters, that the Masters were only willing or able, under the very real and severe restrictions of cyclic law, to give out new teachings to the world between 1875-1900 and that no further or deeper information would or could be made available from the Gupta Vidya – the Secret Doctrine itself – until the closing quarter of the following century, i.e. 1975-2000, itself being provisional, many Theosophists choose to reject this because it doesn’t sit well with their own personal preferences and the way they would like things to be in order to give validity and legitimacy to later “Theosophical” teachings claiming to be inspired by the same Masters.
We ask associates of the ULT who are currently involved with the ITC or considering supporting it in some way – do you really want “unity” and “fraternisation” with Theosophists who rate their own personal opinions, preferences, likes and dislikes, higher than the Masters, their Message, and their Messengers?
It has been said that “Truth is One, and cannot admit of diametrically opposite views,” (Master K.H., “The Mahatma Letters” #IX, p. 49), “Our doctrine knows no compromises,” (Master K.H., “The Mahatma Letters” #X, p. 52), “We have no two beliefs or hypotheses on the same subject,” (H.P. Blavatsky, “The Key to Theosophy” p. 87), and “Occult Science has its changeless traditions from prehistoric times,” (H.P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 516) – and yet our friends at the ITC would ideally like all Theosophists, those of the ULT included, to accept and tolerate, if not celebrate, anything and everything which calls itself “Theosophy” as actually being Theosophy, regardless of how many and extreme may be the differences, discrepancies, and contradictions in teachings and aims.
They would like us to somehow manage to convince ourselves that the differences are not actually differences, that any differences are in fact only “imaginary” (as asserted by Jan Nicolaas Kind, the other Vice President of the ITC), and to stop noticing differences and instead accept and embrace HPB’s teachings along with the Leadbeater/Besant teachings along with the de Purucker teachings – and perhaps even the Alice Bailey teachings, seeing as a few of ITC’s most loyal devotees are Alice Bailey students – as one wonderful big “Theosophy.” We should even apparently accept and be friendly towards the Liberal Catholic Church, viewing it as a legitimate and integral part of the Theosophical Movement. Jan Nicolaas Kind’s “Theosophy Forward” magazine can be found to contain interviews with priests and bishops of this so-called “Theosophical Church,” who we are encouraged to accept as being just as much true Theosophists as any student of HPB.
We are implored to forget about the Masters’ and HPB’s statements and warnings in this regard, thus to compromise and dilute their pure Eastern Esoteric Philosophy, and to celebrate “unity in diversity.” If we do not, they warn, the Theosophical Movement will never be united and the Theosophical Cause itself will always be severely hindered in the world. Does not the attitude of such individuals plainly demonstrate that they have no comprehension of what the Theosophical Cause actually is?
It would seem that the ITC’s motto or slogan should be “External unity – at ANY cost.”
In light of the various factors mentioned above, it may perhaps now be seen why our anonymous correspondent expressed the idea that the ITC poses a major threat to the future vitality and effectiveness of the genuine Theosophical Movement. Whether it does so deliberately, through a carefully orchestrated conspiracy, or simply through sincere and well-meaning but misguided and misinformed individuals, is not for us to say, nor even to contemplate either way, since we have no idea. All we know is that there are many good reasons for an increasing number of Theosophists viewing ITC with concern and suspicion.
Ironically, the annual International Theosophy Conference began originally as an annual ULT event, designed to bring together associates and friends of the ULT from around the world. Before long, however, members of the Adyar Society managed to gain a foothold and, in company with Point Loma, succeeded in gradually altering the nature, tone, and content of the event, so that it eventually ended up as what it is today.
Some ITC supporters are pleased to note an ever widening acceptance of William Q. Judge amongst Adyar Theosophists and thus increasing references to him at the ITC conferences. But what does it really mean to accept William Judge? It means nothing to simply “accept” that he was indeed one of the three main co-founders of the Theosophical Movement. This is a simple and evident fact of history, distorted and obscured for many decades only by the deceitful political machinations of Annie Besant and her followers. To truly accept WQJ means to look upon him as HPB looked upon him and in the light of her own recorded statements about him, many of which are extremely significant and important from an occult perspective. The articles Who was William Quan Judge? and The Welcome Influence of William Q. Judge may be read in this regard.
No-one who continues to accept or revere Besant, Leadbeater, de Purucker, Hodson, Bailey, etc., can be said to have truly accepted or understood William Quan Judge or his central role and importance for the Theosophical Movement, past, present, and future. One who truly accepted and understood him was Robert Crosbie, his colleague and pupil, and it was Crosbie who wrote these words, which can be found in letters published in “The Friendly Philosopher”:
“Much as it may seem like dogma, there is but one philosophy; there are Masters, there is Their Message. It is not dogma because it is a statement of fact, which each is invited to prove for himself – and shown how to do it. True knowledge has been lost to the world; the Masters restore it. They help those directly whom They can; those so helped help others directly and indirectly. The cycle has an upward, less material, tendency; it needs right direction, which the direct and indirect influence of the Message provides. Blessed are those who are able to perceive and take the direct way.” (p. 76)
“I am no believer in diluted Theosophy. The Masters did not dilute it. We either carry on Their work or we do not; there is no need for hypocrisy nor self-deception. Others in the world, not able to perceive the Oneness of Theosophy, nor its bearing at the present time, may and do use portions of it – some of them, it is to be feared, to their own condemnation and the further bewilderment of mankind. Are they right, or to be praised or “tolerated”? Is it not the bounden duty of those who know, to hold aloft the White Standard of Truth? It must be so, else how could an enquiring one perceive it? Theosophy has to be held aloft in such a way as to confront errors of every kind, with their handmaidens of cant and hypocrisy.” (p. 12)
“Every student worthy of the name knows that H.P. Blavatsky gave a body of knowledge to the world; that She named what She gave “Theosophy” and that She explicitly declared it to be from the Masters of Wisdom.
“In justice to the Message, to the Messenger who brought it and to the ideal of Masters, nothing should be named Theosophy but this Message. Whoever takes any other position violates the first laws of occultism by belittling both Message and Messenger, and cannot expect to benefit by them.
“Those who accept the Message and belittle the Messenger, are equally unfortunate, for in belittling one, they belittle both. To these it should be said that it is folly to imagine that the Masters of Wisdom did not know enough to select a Messenger who would deliver Their Message correctly and in its entirety. The Masters’ wisdom being questioned, the whole edifice falls to the ground.” (p. 402-403)
“The responsibility for every failure [i.e. in the various branches of the Theosophical Movement] rests with those who interposed themselves between the Message and those who would learn. The woe of the world has been intensified by such as these, and surely a fearful responsibility is theirs. It is no small thing to obstruct the work of the Lodge of Masters, hence every student, be he prominent among his fellow-men or not, should take heed lest he fall and in falling drag down thousands with him.” (p. 403)
“While she lived there was one Society. After her departure, dissensions arose, resulting in several separate organizations. The basic cause of these divisions is to be found in differences of opinion as to “successorship,” even where other causes were in evidence. No such question should ever have arisen, for it is abundantly clear that H.P. Blavatsky could no more pass on to another her knowledge and attainments, than could Shakespeare, Milton or Beethoven pass on theirs.
“Those who were attracted by the philosophy she presented, or who were taught by her, were followers or students, of more or less proficiency in the understanding and assimilation of Theosophy.
“Once the idea of “successorship” is removed from consideration, a better perspective is obtainable of the Movement, the philosophy, and the principal persons – past and present – engaged in its promulgation.
“We have the declarations of her Masters that she was the sole instrument possible for the work to be done, that They sent her to do it, and that They approved in general all that she did. That work not only includes the philosophy she gave, but her work with the relation to others in the Movement; and where a relation is particularly defined – as in the case of William Q. Judge – wisdom dictates that full consideration be given to what she says.
“H.P. Blavatsky and William Q. Judge were co-Founders of the Theosophical Society in 1875. They were colleagues from the first and ever remained such. When H.P. Blavatsky left America – never to return – she left behind her William Q. Judge to establish and carry on the work of the Theosophical Movement in America. How well that work was done is a matter of history.
“H.P. Blavatsky departed from the body in 1891; William Q. Judge some five years later. He never claimed to be her successor; on the contrary, when asked the question, he said: “She is sui generis – she can have no successor;” the fact being that both he and she were contemporaneous in the work, he retaining his body for some five years longer in order to complete the work he had to do.
“The work of these two cannot be separated if the Movement is to be understood. The evidence of the greatness and fitness of William Q. Judge, as a Teacher, is to be found in his writings – a large and valuable part of which has become obscured through the organizational dissensions before spoken of. These writings should be sought for, and studied, in connection with those of H.P. Blavatsky. That study will lead to the conviction that both were great Teachers – each with a particular mission – that each was sui generis, that their work was complementary, and that neither of them had, nor could have, any successor.” (p. 413-414)
The theme for the 2015 International Theosophy Conference is “Helena Petrovna Blavatsky Through Different Eyes With One Heart.” Under this heading on the ITC website are the words, “What is our understanding of H. P. B.’s writings? How do they inspire all Theosophists, affiliated with an organization or independent, to embody and transmit her timeless message to the modern world?”
How can one have any understanding of HPB’s writings if they do not even bother to read and study them? This is the case for some involved with the ITC, who prefer to have their Theosophy filtered through the writings of later “teachers” and who protest strongly at anyone saying that HPB’s writings are not open to personal interpretation. They seem to think that she invited all Theosophists to “interpret” her work and words however they wish and however they see best. But is this the case? Not at all.
On the contrary, she stated in the preface to “The Secret Doctrine” that that book’s publication had “been rendered necessary by the wild and fanciful speculations in which many Theosophists and students of mysticism have indulged, during the last few years, in their endeavour to, as they imagined, work out a complete system of thought from the few facts previously communicated to them.” She added that “some facts” presented in her and the Masters’ teachings “have been seized upon by various writers, and distorted out of all resemblance to the truth.” Nowhere did she ever say anything to the effect of, “Do what you like with my teachings; interpret them however you want, in any light that you want, alter them if you want, and present them to others in whatever way suits you the most.”
If ever anyone attempted to do this, she protested strongly and attempted to counteract it. Why? Not because of any jealousy, pettiness, or wanting to be looked upon as some type of great authority, but simply because she was the one selected and specially trained, taught, and prepared by the Masters to do their work in the world. She was the one who knew them and who knew exactly what their teachings and philosophy are. She was the only one the Masters ever referred to as their “Direct Agent.” If we really and truly care about Theosophy as the MASTERS know it and as the MASTERS teach it, then we will not seek to trim it, change it, dilute it, or “interpret” it in any way at all, for her writings need no “interpretation,” neither from ourselves nor any others. They only need to be diligently and intensively studied – in their own light and not in the light of the teachings of others, which will only inevitably cause confusion and misunderstanding – and then they will be found to interpret themselves perfectly. It is difficult to comprehend the logic behind anyone wanting to be a part of the Theosophical Movement but at the same time not wanting to study and know Theosophy, the way the Masters chose to give it to the world.
Of course, it’s possible that the 2015 conference may turn out to be something very good indeed. Who can say?
We close with these words from Robert Crosbie’s article “Some Unavoidable Deductions,” published anonymously in the ULT’s “Theosophy” magazine, Vol. 1, No. 8, in June 1913:
“It should never be forgotten that She was and is the Teacher. Had this been remembered, with all that such remembrance implies, the years since Her departure would have a united body of theosophists before the world, and an increase in power and knowledge in that body, individually and collectively, which would have served to direct the thought of Western people into right channels, and avoided many disasters.”
~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~
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(A later addition to the original article)
It was only to be expected that this article would catch the attention of and provoke some sort of response from the organisers or supporters of the ITC. Just a few hours after the article went online and before it had even been listed on the “Articles” page of the site, we received an email from Jan Nicolaas Kind, one of the two Vice Presidents of the ITC and referred to briefly in the article itself.
The implication of his message, although worded in a very friendly and brotherly manner, was that the writer of the article needed to explain himself and answer to Mr Kind and/or his associates for having written such things. We were informed that he intended to publish the link to the article on his “Theosophy Forward” page where he would accompany it with “a commentary.”
Due to various reasons we declined to respond to his email, as is our right, believing that we owe no-one any explanation and that we have the right to freedom of speech and opinion, just as do all Theosophists, ITC supporters included.
Having received no reply within 24 hours, Mr Kind then managed to discover a Theosophy related Facebook group of which the writer is one of the three administrators or moderators. He proceeded to send a request to join the group. His request being declined – again, as is our right, without having to offer any explanations or reasons – he then sent a second request to join the group only an hour or two later. This too was declined.
Later that day his response to the article appeared on his “Theosophy Forward” Facebook page. His response, which some could easily perceive as a veiled critique of the ULT in general, did not address a single one of the important ideological differences and concerns expressed in our article. Instead, they were simply quashed with a flurry of words such as describing the article as being “factually incomplete, historically erroneous, terribly one-sided, prejudiced, it contains many false starting points and furthermore it is filled with incorrect assumptions and conclusions.”
Of course, no-one is under any compulsion or pressure to address the real issues and concerns as raised in the article but if they choose not to do so, whilst still criticising and denouncing the article, it only has the effect of making people think that the ITC is incapable of addressing these things.
The aspect of most concern in Mr Kind’s post, however, was the fact that he quoted from a comment that had been made in the aforementioned Facebook group, whereas this group is a “closed” group – i.e. its contents are visible only to those who are members – and, as said, Mr Kind is not a member of the group and never has been, in spite of his sudden and peculiar persistence. He openly stated that what he was quoting was from this Facebook group. The only conclusion to draw is that someone in the group was copying and pasting comments from there and sending them to the ITC Vice President, perhaps also to others. Alternatively, he or she may simply have been taking screenshots and sending these to him.
This is quite a serious issue, not only because it means that the privacy and security which had until then been taken for granted in the group had been secretly violated by one of its members and in a rather inappropriate way, but also because it brings to light the painful fact that some “Theosophists” are so unethical as to be acting as “spies” (in a sense) monitoring and reporting on what people are saying and doing in a private and closed group. Up to this time no-one has admitted to being the culprit and we have learnt the important lesson that it’s unfortunately almost inevitable in the world of Facebook and social media that occasionally someone in a group will violate the privacy of others.
We are not aware of whether the individual in question did so entirely of their own accord and volition or at Mr Kind’s behest, although we have certain reasons for suspecting the latter.
Subsequent to Mr Kind bringing our article to the attention of ITC supporters and promoters, we were informed by some of the latter that our article was “not appropriate” and “very unbrotherly.” We then asked one of our accusers:
“Is it “not appropriate” and “very unbrotherly” simply to present an alternative viewpoint and state reasons for it? As said, the views and reasons expressed in the article are held by numerous Theosophists around the world. Are they not permitted to hold to anything other than a positive and favourable viewpoint about the ITC? Are they not permitted to have their reasons and concerns voiced and explained? If your answer to these questions is “No,” then it becomes very clear as to who the “unbrotherly” ones really are.”
The individual declined to answer, which virtually amounts to saying “No,” and then proceeded to denounce us as unethical for having brought to light the fact of unethical “spying” practices on the part of ITC promoters/supporters!
Unfortunately for them, much of their public response to the article has only had the effect of proving the accuracy and legitimacy of many of the points raised in it such as, for example:
“The ITC propound the idea that if only Theosophists could all just “get along” with each other and ideally forget about or ignore the reasons for their past differences, it would be a wonderful thing for the Theosophical Movement and for humanity. But in this case, who judges and decides as to what actually counts or doesn’t count as unity and tolerance? Who is the arbiter as to whether or not a Theosophist or Theosophical group is being truly brotherly and tolerant and working on the true lines of unity and harmony? The people who run the ITC! And these are mainly Adyar and Point Loma people, who have alone decided what is and isn’t “acceptable” or “right” amongst Theosophists in their relations and associations with one another.”
Clandestine activities in closed Facebook groups in order to find out what people are saying and writing in private about the ITC, along with the persistent and glaring evasion and failure to deal head on with any of the matters of concern, reflects very poorly on the ITC’s representatives and supporters. Now people who previously supported the ITC have started to question its ethics and motives, seeing as people have acted in this underhand way. We have received both public and private gratitude and support for our article, including from several people who had hitherto only a positive and favourable view of the ITC. They have informed us that Mr Kind’s response and actions have caused them to begin to question what type of influences are actually at work behind the scenes of the ITC.
So the whole aftermath has certainly had the effect of showing that at least some of the points and concerns expressed in the article are indeed valid and legitimate ones.
If Mr Kind and friends thought that they could stamp out this article and its influence, they were very much mistaken. To insist, as they have by means of response, that “There is no hidden agenda!” is worse than useless. Who, having a hidden agenda, would ever publicly admit to it or do otherwise than deny it? The ITC may not have a hidden agenda but the behaviour of some of its most prominent and vocal supporters is nevertheless starting to make people seriously think about it.
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