Theosophists: Reunite!
By F. Pierce Spinks

“Remain united as the Proverbial Bundle of Sticks”
H.P. Blavatsky

Originally published by
The Christopher Publishing, Boston,
in 1958.


Undaunted by the failure of earlier attempts at reunification, the author determined to try again, and this book comes at a period almost ten years later when he lays before the Theosophical world the basic idea and challenges them with the following proposition: Return to the integrity of The Original Programme of the T.S. written by H.P. Blavatsky in 1886. Basing his premise upon the principle of logic which says that an idea is necessarily true, when, to assume the contrary, is absurd, the author - making use of similar reasoning - believes that the White Lodge now wants a return to unity, fellowship and inter-relatedness among all Theosophists of all affiliations, for to assert the contrary would be absurd and contrary to the structure of the Movement itself.
The author contrasts the tremendous strides being made by the great religious groups today with the lack of progress attending the efforts of the various Theosophical societies in the chapter “Some Cooperative Trends Among Religions Today”. In the concluding chapter, Mr. Spinks makes an eloquent plea for a reunited society as it was in the days of its Founder, H.P. Blavatsky. Few that read the book will be left unimpressed by the intensity of the plea which he makes and the rationality of the arguments which he brings to bear on the problem.


F. Pierce Spinks was placed as a child of two in Katherine Tingley’s school at Point Loma, California, where he grew up and received his B.A. degree from Theosophical University. During World War II he left his business in San Francisco and traveled extensively in the Middle East, Europe, and the Orient.
During these travels he met members of the different Theosophical Societies and was struck by the similarity of purpose and ideals inspiring their actions. This stirred him to wondering why all units now separated could not co-exist on the same broad platform as they did in H.P. Blavatsky’s days. A few days before H.P.B. died she had specifically enjoined Theosophists to remain united as the proverbial bundle of sticks. Why had they failed? The professors of all faiths, all beliefs, she had insisted were to be welcome as members, and a belief in universal brotherhood was to be the only prerequisite to fellowship. Why, then, now do her followers still disavow this clearly stated wish and remain in separate societies, justifying this separative existence because of differing beliefs? Are not the Theosophists in uncomfortable disagreement with the Founders themselves? And is this not a case of what George Orwell calls “doublethink” - the power of holding two mutually antagonistic ideas in the mind simultaneously while accepting both?
These are some of the questions which tantalized the author’s mind and which he refused to let lie. Would H.P.B. and the White Lodge condone the present situation which finds the main Theosophical Societies not even speaking to each other? Is this the Brotherhood which each professes as a main commitment?
The inevitable conclusion which the author reached was that a general rapprochement of all Theosophical groups is imperative if the purposes of the Movement are to be achieved.
Theosophists: Reunite! is a strong challenge and an eloquent plea which no Theosophist can ignore.

This book is dedicated to my parents, themselves devoted Theosophists, to my wife, who generously helped in its preparation, and to the many members of all affiliations throughout the world who long for a return to the unity which H.P.B. begged us to preserve.


PLACED at the early age of two by my Theosophical parents in the school for children conducted at Point Loma, California, by the Theosophical Society (Point Loma), I grew up there and received my B.A. from the Theosophical University. During my childhood I readily absorbed the fundamental Theosophical ideas centering around the teachings of the inner divinity of man and of a universal brotherhood, teachings easily comprehensible to the child mind; but I was equally puzzled as I grew older to find in the often sharp criticisms of other Theosophical groups by some of our teachers and leaders what seemed to be glaring inconsistency between the theoretic doctrine and performance in word and deed. Attempts made to reconcile these inconsistencies by explaining to our young minds that our leaders were acting in an occult manner and that the brain-mind could not comprehend nor should it attempt to fathom or rationalize these actions, left us still more puzzled. Nor did it help to add that it was one’s intuition that should be called upon to provide the answer to one's intelligence rather than the intellect. The inner conflict in our child minds remained unsolved.

It was the hope of the management of this Theosophical group that children who thus grew up in this school would spend their remaining years in serving the headquarters of this particular Theosophical Society. But along with many others I left to engage in business activity. [7]

Later, World War II broke out, and I found myself traveling through the United States, Europe, and the Orient. Casually in these travels, and without solicitation on my part, I came across members affiliated with other Theosophical societies, and found that their ideals were similar to those of my own Point Loma group. These encounters were not sought by me and they kept recurring. So I began to give serious thought to their meaning, and came to the conclusion that they were not fortuitous, but were part of the working out of a plan, part of a design previously blue-printed now commencing to unfold. Perhaps I was, as so many before me, a tool for the unfoldment of a vast Theosophical development. The more I brooded over it the more convinced I became that this was so, and that the circumstances in my life, unsought as they were, which brought the vision of a reunited Theosophical Movement, were not in any way haphazard.

In the beginning Theosophists were united. I could not free myself of the thought: it burned itself into my very being. Why could we not enjoy this same unity once more? Why should a Movement having such eminent sponsorship be so sadly divided into groups refusing to cooperate with each other despite similarity of aims? This contrast between our professions of brotherhood and our divisiveness tormented me and I decided to do something about it. So while still in the Orient I began corresponding with leading Theosophical officials, recommending a merging of the various Theosophical societies. The first of these letters is dated December 9, 1948. Those interested will find this series of letters in the Appendix.

My efforts failed. But convinced that the plan was right, and knowing I should have no rest or inner [8] peace until I could put it before the rank and file of the different Theosophical Societies, I labored in many spare hours and over many months at this pressing task. This book is the result.

The reader is assured that from earliest childhood the fortunes of the Theosophical Movement have been of the utmost moment to me. Success for the Theosophical Society and a vast growth for its membership have been the fondest of my hopes - above all business fortune and all personal happiness of any kind. Thus this book is the fruit of years of longing to do something tangible for the Movement.

I feel strongly that there is danger in the disunited condition of the Movement today, a danger which could lead to its extinction if the process of disintegration which began with the first schism is not arrested. It is a case, as Tennyson said, of “the little rift within the lute that by and by will make the music mute, and ever widening slowly silence all.” The antagonisms and uncooperativeness within the Movement constitute the rift which could, if continued, slowly silence a noble Movement, one which is of high importance in the religious field of today. Evidence of decay is the lack of numerical growth during a time when most religious movements are growing stronger.

The main theme of the book is not original, having appeared in the writings of several generations of Theosophists. The ideas embodied here rather belong to all Theosophists. They are a Theosophical nosegay culled from many gardens. The writer is merely the matrix into which the ideas have been focussed.

In an effort to expose certain prevalent dogmatic attitudes in order that they might yield under the clear light of fact and truth, some repetitiousness may have [9] occurred. But if the end result helps to lead the Movement back to harmony and integration then this will perhaps not so greatly mar the work, as otherwise it might.

Finally, the value of this volume, if any, lies not in the presentation itself, but in the subsequent behavior of the Theosophists who read it. If it will increase Brotherhood and Wisdom among us and decrease dogmatism and bigotry, then it will have adequately served its purpose.

San Francisco, California, U.S.A.[10]








Statement of the Problem

IV. Comparison of Basic Teachings

Some Disagreements

VI. Who Is Infallible?
VII. Can Present Maladjustments be Resolved?
VIII. One World Theosophical Society - Previous Attempts
IX. Some Cooperative Trends Among Religions Today






Scilurus on his death-bed, being about to leave fourscore sons surviving, offered a bundle of darts to each of them,
and bade them break them. When all refused, drawing the darts out one by one, he easily broke them,
- thus teaching his sons that if they held together they would continue strong;
but if they were divided they would become weak.
Plutarch: Apothegms of Kings and Great Commanders - Scilurus.

One month before she died H.P. Blavatsky addressed these stirring words to the Boston Convention of The Theosophical Society in 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.” (Italics added)

Four years later, despite this eloquent plea, a schism rent the Theosophical Society from which it has never recovered. Shortly after this first rupture further cleavages took place, bringing at one time to twenty-two the [15] number of separate societies deriving their inspiration and teaching from the original Society.

How would Madame Blavatsky view the existence of several Theosophical Societies were she with us today? Is there reason to believe that she would approve? Does the existence of these groups, each having similar objects, yet separated by psychological barriers and Iron Curtains, lessen the effectiveness of the appeal to Brotherhood which each makes?

In this same message, her last, to the American Convention, H.P.B., as she was affectionately called, spoke of “these diabolical attempts of our powerful enemies - the irreconcilable foes of the truths now being given out.” Would she, we may ask, attribute to this same ‘enemy’ the present disunity in the Theosophical Movement?* (*When the Theosophical Movement is referred to, we are speaking of the organized Theosophical Societies of today and not the efforts of Theosophical groups throughout history before the nineteenth century.) What steps would she be likely to recommend to correct a condition which she begged us so pointedly to avoid?

Properly to understand the issues involved in the above questions it is important to be acquainted with the concepts underlying the formation of The Theosophical Society. These are clearly stated by H.P. Blavatsky in an article written by her in 1886 entitled “The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society”, portions of which we quote:

“In order to leave no room for equivocation, the members of the T.S. have to be reminded of the origin of the Society in 1875. Sent to the U.S. of America in 1873 for the purpose of organizing a group of workers on a psychic plane, two years later the writer received orders from her Master and Teacher to form the nucleus of a regular Society whose objects were broadly stated as follows: [16]

1. Universal Brotherhood;
2. No distinction to be made by the member between races, creeds, or social positions, but every member had to be judged and dealt by on his personal merits;
3. To study the philosophies of the East - those of India chiefly, presenting them gradually to the public in various works that would interpret exoteric religions in the light of esoteric teachings;
4. To oppose materialism and theological dogmatism in every possible way, by demonstrating the existence of occult forces unknown to science, in nature, and the presence of psychic and spiritual powers in man; trying, at the same time to enlarge the views of the Spiritualists by showing them that there are other, many other agencies at work in the production of phenomena besides the ‘Spirits’ of the dead. Superstition had to be exposed and avoided; and occult forces, beneficent and maleficent - ever surrounding us and manifesting their presence in various ways - demonstrated to the best of our ability.” [1]

The Objects, Rules and By-Laws of the Society were slightly modified over the years, but as early as 1878 a Circular was printed in which they are shown as being almost identical with those in effect today. [2]

Because all Theosophists look to H.P. Blavatsky as the agent of the White Lodge* (*Use of the term ‘White Lodge’ is well understood by students of Theosophy. It refers to a group of highly developed human beings who, because of their advanced state of evolution, may be said to represent the fine flower of human evolution. All of them are Initiates or Occultists of great spiritual stature. They are well organized and have their main school in Tibet, but with branches in other countries. Those who belong to this fraternity are usually referred to by students of Theosophy as Masters or Initiates. In a world of balance, it is to be expected that an organization such as the White Lodge, will have its “opposite number” and reference to this is to be found in many of the world’s Sacred Scriptures. Theosophists call this group the Black Lodge. They are committed to purposes which are opposite to the White Lodge: self-seeking, destructive and evil. H.P. Blavatsky refers to this Lodge as “the enemy,” though she also included in that term other entities equally committed to the destruction of human progress.) in founding the T.S., we [17] feel we may choose these words of hers to act as the axis around which we may safely launch our inquiry. But in considering this great problem it is essential that reason be brought to bear upon Theosophical affairs, recognizing that reason, as Descartes and Spinoza concluded, is properly used only as the mathematician uses it, that is, without bias, and directed by soundness of argument. So from this base, which should appeal to all because of the universal acceptance of H.P.B. as an agent of the Masters, we shall reach out to examine the events in Theosophical history which seem pointedly to run contrary to the wishes of the Founders, as expressed above by their spokesman. Trying to avoid prejudgment and emotion, we hope to encourage objective thinking, recalling Spinoza’s words, “Reason is the light of the mind, and without her all things are dreams and phantoms.”

The Founders of the Theosophical Society evidently fully realized the difficulties which would be encountered in inviting under one organizational roof representatives of many and diverse creeds. Consider the following taken from ‘The Original Programme’:

(1) The Founders had to exercise all their influence to oppose selfishness of any kind, by insisting upon sincere, fraternal feelings among the Members - at least outwardly; working for it to bring about a spirit of unity and harmony, the great diversity of creeds notwithstanding; expecting and demanding from the Fellows, a great mutual toleration and charity for each other’s shortcomings; mutual help in the research of truths in every domain - moral or physical- and even, in daily life.” [3]

Belief likewise in the infallibility of H.P.B.’s teachers was to be avoided, and criticism of a fellow member was strictly forbidden on pain of expulsion from the Society. Witness the following: [18]

(2) They had to oppose in the strongest manner possible anything approaching dogmatic faith and fanaticism - belief in the infallibility of the Masters, or even in the very existence of our invisible Teachers, having to be checked from the first. On the other hand, as a great respect for the private views and creeds of every member was demanded, any Fellow criticizing the faith or belief of another Fellow, hurting his feelings, or showing a reprehensible self-assertion, unasked (mutual friendly advices were a duty unless declined) - such a member incurred expulsion.” [4]

It is urged that readers keep these paragraphs strongly in mind during our discussion, because we believe the violation of these basic ideals to be a principal cause of the problems in the Theosophical Movement.

In the archives of The Theosophical Society at Adyar is preserved a letter from one of the Masters who helped to found the T.S. “Theosophy,” he writes,

“has to find objective expression in an all-embracing code of life thoroughly impregnated with its spirit - the spirit of mutual tolerance, charity and love ... As said before - no Theosophist should blame a brother whether within or outside of the association, throw slur upon his actions or denounce him lest he should himself lose the right of being considered a Theosophist.” [5]

Now let us ask ourselves whether or not the Theosophists have carried out this Program:

1. Do they blame each other?
2. Do they denounce one another for actions with which they disagree?
3. Do Theosophists today condemn other Theosophists for their shortcomings?
4. Do they respect the private views and creeds of other members?
5. If not, what has brought about the change in direction from the Original Program? [19]

To these questions we shall seek an honest answer. Recognizing that the matters we shall consider have to do with personal beliefs, and that the issues involved are somewhat emotionally charged, we shall aim to preserve that attitude advocated by the seventeenth century philosopher Descartes, expressed in his “Meditation I”, of suspending judgment “and with firm purpose avoid giving credence to any false thing.” We should be less than honest, however, if we failed to show that when reaching the area of inter-Theosophical relations Theosophists are inclined partially to abandon the great concepts which underlie the present Theosophical Movement, and to act in a manner contrary to the purposes which they profess. Dominated by a tradition which affects them with strong emotion, they seem unable to think and act free from passion and prejudice. Their “light of reason is dimmed.” As Professor John A. Nicholson warningly writes:

“Ordinarily the light of reason is dimmed by prejudice and emotion, which insidiously interpose in thinking and completely pervert it. Thinking becomes so degraded in the service of man’s passions that it gradually loses its power of attaining truth. Now, there is no more effective guard against this perversion than the method of the mathematician.” [6]

The emotions referred to usually derive from a feeling of insecurity, from clinging to tradition or dogma, because a position taken on a Theosophical question and long adhered to has been challenged and held up for scrutiny. An assault on this by a rational mind agitates the holder, because he is intelligent enough to know that the light of pure reason can dislodge the dogma or expose him to ridicule if he does not change.

There is an attitude adopted by one who disagrees with another which plainly says ‘I don’t know what you [20] mean, but I think you’re wrong!’ That is what has happened in Theosophical history and inter-relations, and is to be avoided. It reveals extreme pre-judgment. The mind is closed. Only after a proper reading can a reader say that he understands an author’s arguments. Then only can he with mature judgment say ‘I agree’ or ‘I disagree’. But Theosophists of one society do not give those of another Theosophical Society even a ‘proper reading’. How are they, then, in a position to say they ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’?

*  *  *

The Theosophical Society was founded in 1875. This was a time when Materialism was gaining strength, though it was being challenged by Spiritualism. The latter demonstrated satisfactorily to a number of well known scientists the existence of a non-material world. But the Spiritualists themselves had no adequate explanation for their phenomena. It was at this point that some members of the White Lodge thought it wise to send one of their agents to clarify the prevailing confusion. They chose for this mission H.P. Blavatsky, one of the Founders of the Theosophical Society.

After the headquarters were removed from New York City to India in 1879, the new Society grew rapidly, chiefly due to the hard work under very trying conditions of H.P.B. and Colonel H.S. Olcott, its Life-President. But as with all new philosophies, differences of opinion soon became apparent, and these degenerated into a clash of personalities resulting in the first schism in 1895.

This first clash centered around the personality of W.Q. Judge. He had claimed intimacy with the Masters, a claim which President Olcott regarded as [21] fraudulent, “contradicted by the whole drift of his private letters” to him. Complaints had come from various members, all concerned with the receipt of “messages” from the Masters transmitted through Judge. The storm grew and finally culminated in the “Judge Case.” Among other matters, a question of authority was involved, since some of the purported messages expressed the wishes of the Masters regarding the management of the Society. This was bound to upset President Olcott as he was a firm believer in organizational lines of authority, and he was, after all, the Society’s administrative head.

As an outcome of this dispute, a majority of the Lodges of the American Section of the Society, sympathizing with Mr. Judge, seceded from the Parent Society in 1895. But most of the Lodges in Europe and in other parts of the world supported President Olcott. Since that date, sixty-two years ago, other disputes have created new groups calling themselves Theosophical, each claiming guidance from the White Lodge, though this claim is sometimes subtly made. The most important of the present groups, around which our discussion will largely revolve, are:

a. The Theosophical Society with international headquarters at Adyar, Madras, India.

b. The Theosophical Society, formerly with international headquarters at Point Loma, California, later at Covina, but now at Pasadena, California, U.S.A.;* (*The Theosophical Society having its present headquarters at Pasadena, California, is referred to throughout as the Theosophical Society (Point Loma), because that is where most of its history took place.)

c. The United Lodge of Theosophists, with headquarters in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. [22]

The United Lodge of Theosophists, generally referred to as the U.L.T., was founded in 1909 under the guidance of Robert Crosbie, who was formerly an associate of W.Q. Judge and later a student member at Point Loma. He pointed out that all the difficulties that have arisen in the T.S. raged around personalities, rather than over doctrinal differences. He added that this was ‘significant’ - an assertion which should be underscored and remembered, because today the advocates of the status quo in the Movement refer to differences in teaching as the primary reason for maintaining separate societies. Mr. Crosbie also asserted that Col. Olcott, Founder and life-President of the Society, was not important in the Movement, and that only H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge were really important. This has become the official attitude of the U.L.T. The majority of Theosophists, however, do not agree with this view; they feel that Colonel Olcott’s place in Theosophical history was equally as important as that of H.P.B., he having been specially chosen by the Masters to jointly found the Society with H.P.B. He was the administrator, she the agent through whom the doctrines known as Theosophy were channelled into the Society.

In the case of the Point Loma Society, Col. Olcott’s place in history was almost ignored for many years, doubtless because this group’s existence as a separate entity was based on a disagreement with him. This attitude has been modified of late into a more realistic acknowledgment of his important place in early Theosophical history.

The Theosophical Society (Adyar) has given more stress to the Third Object (investigation of man’s psychic and spiritual powers), and the main books of the [23] Society, written by Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, reflect this interest.

The main teachings of Theosophy, and those in which there is main agreement between the three Theosophical Societies above-mentioned, are to be found in H.P. Blavatsky’s major works: “Isis Unveiled,” “The Secret Doctrine,” and “The Key to Theosophy.”

On the question of doctrine the United Lodge of Theosophists confine themselves to what H.P.B. and W.Q. Judge taught. The Point Loma T.S. adds to these the writings of G. de Purucker, second ‘leader’ of that Society. The T.S. (Point Loma) and the U.L.T. have never given any encouragement to the investigation of the latent powers in man, usually referred to as the Third Object, and have emphasized instead the application of Theosophy to daily living. The community life at Point Loma was an example of this idea put into action, and largely derived from the concepts of Katherine A. Tingley, first ‘leader’ of this group.

On Mrs. Tingley’s death in 1929, G. de Purucker, her successor in office, inaugurated the “Fraternization Movement,” an attempt to weld into one Society all the groups which had sprung from the original T.S. G. de P. felt that there should be a spiritual head and an administrative head as in the days of H.P.B. and H.S. Olcott. He never declared in so many words that he himself should be the spiritual head, but it is possible that he felt that after the Theosophists of the other Societies came to know him they would recognize in him one who could lead spiritually. This fine effort to achieve, first, friendliness between all Theosophical groups, and later complete unity in a World Theosophical Society, never fully achieved its noble target. Its partial failure is ascribed by most students to the [24] thesis upon which it was based: that all other groups should join his (the Point Loma) Society, which was the smallest of the three main groups. There can be no doubt, however, that G. de P. was completely sincere in thinking that this arrangement would be the best one for the future of the Movement itself.

Later in our study we shall learn that the Objects of the various disunited groups are practically identical. In each case the main Object is “to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.” We shall learn in a brief resume of the history of the present Movement that though the Founders expressly wished to invite adherents of all faiths into the one organization - The Theosophical Society - the followers of those who seceded now use as a valid reason for continued disunity certain differences in belief which are present in the various Theosophical groups. We shall examine the rationality of this position, for it would appear to be the very opposite of the Founder’s wishes. The original platform of the Society, as we have seen, encouraged those professing widely different beliefs to join together in a nucleus of Brotherhood. The situation today, therefore, will be seen to be in violation of the Original Program.

A comparison of certain Basic Teachings of Theosophy, which we shall undertake, will show that all groups, though they may differ as to the details, are in agreement on the main teachings.

We shall also examine the question of infallibility and show that it is this which breeds the kind of Dogmatic Attitude which produces Dogmatic Assumptions followed by a lessening of tolerance and brotherly love. The cycle does not end until bitterness of feeling is [25] aroused. We learn that even the Masters are not infallible, so how much more prone to fallibility must their agent be, and any leaders in the Movement who followed her! To say that dogmatism does not exist in the Theosophical Societies of today is unfactual, and our discussion will show that the leaders of the various groups are generally conceded by the lay membership to be in psychic rapport with the White Lodge. We must admit that these dogmatic attitudes lead to the very bigotry which the Founders wished to avoid.

Examination will likewise be made of some of the gigantic mergers that are now taking place in the religious field, and examples will be cited of how inter-faith and inter-racial tolerance is building up in religious areas today which once displayed the greatest intolerance. It may shock the Theosophist to learn that he is not achieving similar breadth and strength which unity can give.

The United Nations, in the field of world relations, is an example of this drive for unity. Progress here was demonstrated on March 9, 1956, when the flags of sixteen newly admitted members were flown for the first time at the United Nations headquarters. At the flag-raising ceremony Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold said that these sixteen flags, added to the flags of the sixty old member nations, were symbols of a “uniting force - an affirmation of belief that there can be brotherhood in diversity, that constructive cooperation for the common benefit is an attainable alternative to war.” But do present-day Theosophists show an equivalent trend toward “brotherhood in diversity?”

Other movements which betoken the world urge toward unity despite diversity are the Atlantic Union Committee, the Federal Union Plan which proposes to create a federation of nations under a new government, [26] and, even more ambitious, The United World Federalists, a plan to strengthen the United Nations into a world government. The compelling urgency for one or another form of union on a large scale is heightened by the existence of the H-bomb. The price for non-union may well be general misery and death.

The split in Theosophical ranks took place in an era which bore little resemblance to the times in which we live now. That was the horse and buggy day. Since then dynamic changes have taken place in every phase of life. One might reasonably expect an equivalent change in inter-Theosophical relations; but this is not to be found. What is wrong? Why should the Theosophists, who have greater than average intelligence, or they would not embrace a philosophy which requires them to think rather than accept the words of others on blind faith - why should they, we ask, act in a manner which moves contrary to their profession of Brotherhood? We are forced to conclude that the irrational forces at work in the world today have found acceptance in the minds of whole segments of the Theosophical Movement.

What, then, is to be done to generate greater sanity, greater rationality and tolerance of fellow- Theosophists? Is it possible that the mass of intelligent Theosophists are desirous of ending a situation described by one scholar as “the Theosophical disgrace of our time,” but that certain leaders for purely personal reasons prefer to maintain the status quo? Why can not all Theosophists, attached as they are to a noble commitment, act towards each other as did the Good Samaritan, as told by Jesus in LUKE 10, v-23? How can we turn away from a brother as did the priest and the Levite? But does our attitude fundamentally differ from theirs if we condemn each other or castigate members [27] of other groups with severe criticism for differing from us?

Suggestions to correct these maladjustments will be proposed. To generate the humility in which to adjust our inter-relations it is well to keep always in mind the old proverb:

Errare humanum est; perseverare demoniacum.

It is the last two words which need careful attention - “to persevere (in error) is demoniacal.” For is it not correct to say that the quality which, more than anything else, characterizes ‘the enemy’ referred to by H.P. Blavatsky in our opening paragraph, is perseverance in error, in evil? The Theosophist will not wish to be so classified.

It is urged that we approach these studies in that state of mind described in the empiricists’ doctrine of ‘tabula rasa’ - a mind as yet free from impressions. If we bring along our pet prejudices the chances of a solution are already weakened. When the blackboard of our mind is covered with a lot of extraneous figures where is there room for demonstrating and explaining other things? Let us, then, examine the issues unemotionally and impartially, with a disposition to rid ourselves of opinions or beliefs which the discussions show to be untenable, recalling the words of Rene Descartes, who said of a similar effort he himself made:

“for these ancient and commonly held opinions still revert frequently to my mind, long and familiar custom having given them the right to occupy my mind against my inclination and rendered them almost masters of my belief.”

He, too, recognized “how many were the false beliefs that he had from earliest youth admitted as true, and how doubtful was everything he had since constructed [28] on this basis.” And from that time he had become convinced that he must once and for all “seriously undertake to rid himself of all the opinions which he had formerly accepted, and commence to build anew from the foundation,” if he was to establish any firm basis for progress in the future. By steadfastly conforming to this formula he blazed a trail which rendered much easier the task of future searchers for truth.

Perhaps we Theosophists can, by relentlessly following this same method, sweep away the cobwebs of confused thinking which have arrested our progress and which have come to us as our inheritance from a previous generation. We can best do this by returning to the integrity of the ‘Original Program’ written by H.P.B., using it as a sub-structure in all our thinking. With the Theosophical edifice thus cleansed, why should we not look forward to as great an advance in the Movement as that which followed the breaking down of medieval superstition by Cartesianism?

The world today is teetering on the brink of calamity. The situation is engaging the earnest attention of our most constructive minds. But so are their “opposite numbers” busy with their evil designs. As the climax approaches, it is compelling for all men to unite in the common cause of averting disaster. Educators, businessmen, leaders everywhere, and more particularly those in the religious field, are aware of the climate of disastrous possibilities which hangs like Damocles’ sword over our heads. They are making common cause to find a solution.

What contributions are the Theosophists making? The following pages are an effort to respond to this challenge. Conceived in the spirit of Brotherhood, they present what appeals to the writer as the most [29] practical and constructive contribution we can make - the idea of all Theosophical groups reuniting to form one Theosophical Society as it originally existed in the days of H.P. Blavatsky and Henry Steele Olcott. Is this an impractical dream? Let us examine the issues.


[1] The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society, by H.P. Blavatsky, written in 1886, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1931, pp. 1 and 2.
[2] A Short History of the Theosophical Society, by Josephine Ransom, 1938, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[3] The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society, by H.P. Blavatsky, written in 1886, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1931, pp. 4 and 5.
[4] Ibid, p.6.
[5] Ibid, p.46.
[6] Philosophy of Religion, by Professor John A. Nicholson, p.58, The Ronald Press, N.Y., 1950.


“Search for the truth regardless of where the search may lead.”
(Taken from Statement of Purpose of the Oberlin Theological Seminary)

IN an effort to deal with the problems which beset the Theosophical Movement today an attempt will be made to ascertain their cause, for with a knowledge of the cause we can the more easily seek and apply the remedy.

What is the historical background of the various schisms which have taken place in the Movement? What are the factors which caused them? What are their effects on the Movement today?

Properly to answer these questions it is necessary briefly to turn back the pages of Theosophical history itself. Some good historical material is to be found in:

1. Old Diary Leaves by Col. H.S. Olcott (Six volumes).
2. A Short History of the Theosophical Society compiled by Josephine Ransom.
3 The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925 anonymously written.
4. The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950 anonymously written.
5. Modern Theosophy by Dr. Hugh Shearman.
6. H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement by C.J. Ryan.
7. The Point Loma Community in California 1897-1942 by Emmett A. Greenwalt.

There is no current need to add to the already excellent histories now available to the students, so the present is not intended to be an exhaustive study, but merely an effort to briefly acquaint the reader with salient highlights which are relevant to the main issue, bringing out enough information to enable us to answer the questions posed above.

The history of the earliest period of the Theosophical Society is best obtained by reading an account of it written by the one who, along with H.P. Blavatsky, literally created it with his bare hands, for there were no funds available then to accomplish the purposes of the young Society. The two ‘Founders’ started with nothing except a profound faith in their mission and Those who planned it, and actually created the Theosophical Society out of their toil, sweat and tears. Colonel H.S. Olcott was the one chosen by the Masters to be associated with H.P.B., as she was affectionately known, in this creation. His account of this fascinating period is to be found in Old Diary Leaves. As the pages of this epic narrative are turned, the Theosophist of today will bow his head in grateful reverence to the two pioneers whose valiant struggles in an often hostile world, made available to students who followed them, a new and vital philosophy, one which has made their lives more purposeful, worthful and meaningful.

Colonel Olcott remarks in his Introduction to Volume II that his veracity has not once been challenged by [32] his readers and he adds that “not a single denial of my facts has been made.” [1] But the student should not read this or any other history uncritically. If, as is asserted, Colonel Olcott’s recording of facts and happenings are indisputable, there are the inferences and conclusions which he deduces which can legitimately be questioned. Dr. H.N. Stokes in his O.E. Library Critic of some thirty years ago, claimed that a few statements in The Golden Book of the Theosophical Society edited by C. Jinarajadasa, then Vice-President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), were incorrect. Lest any Theosophical history (including the present one, it goes without saying) be accepted uncritically, the reader is referred to some comments made in the Theosophical periodical Eirenicon (Issue No. 86, p. 10), regarding the authenticity of The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925. The Editors of Eirenicon refer to a brochure entitled The United Lodge of Theosophists - Its Mission and its Future, and to a passage therein reading:

“... students are encouraged to study the vicissitudes of the Parent Theosophical Society as given in The Theosophical Movement, - an authentic and verifiable record of fact and philosophy from 1875 to 1925.”

The Editors of Eirenicon then recommend enquirers who want to know why the Movement is divided, to read not only The Theosophical Movement but also A Short History of the Theosophical Society by Josephine Ransom and H.P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement by C.J. Ryan. Says Eirenicon further:

“If there is any suggestion of infallible correctness in the words ‘authentic and verifiable,’ we unhesitatingly challenge it, for we have the strongest evidence, hitherto unpublished, that one episode in The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925 is [33] misrepresented ... However, knowing the book to be unreliable in one passage, we must regard it as open to and requiring careful scrutiny throughout.”

In the later edition of The Theosophical Movement covering the period 1875-1950, an effort was made to correct the above misrepresentation but the revision is not fully satisfactory, inasmuch as Colonel Olcott’s good name is still assailed, whereas the actual facts could not substantiate such an imputation. Colonel Olcott was, as none will deny, chosen by the Masters to work with H.P. Blavatsky and their loyalty to him was not withdrawn during his life. If a Theosophical group which followed him, adopts a policy which belittles him, we might be justified in saying that this group is not disinterested, but finds that it must undercut his stature in order to achieve its own objective of building up another.

We must remember in our reading that authors must give some fealty to patterns whose over-riding influence they feel when preparing their work. There are also economic and political influences which are felt. Not to be overlooked are the Basic Assumptions of the author. These can act as power fields, persuading the author’s pen to slant historical events to conform to his preconceived pattern. Influences such as these are present in most histories.

*  *  *

The first event which bears upon our problem is the death of H.P. Blavatsky in London on May 8, 1891. On the passing of the Teacher there arose, inevitably, the question as to who would take her place as Outer Head of the Eastern School of Theosophy (sometimes known as E.S.T., Esoteric School, or E.S.). While [34] H.P.B. was the Outer Head, no one doubted the words of her Master: “She is our direct agent.” But these words did not say that the Masters would send another agent to take her place when she died. Nevertheless it is assumed by many of the Theosophical groups who operate such schools, that the one who is the Outer Head of the School is likewise an agent of the Masters.

On July 27, 1891, Col. Olcott issued an Executive Notice which assured the members officially that the activity of the T.S. would continue without change. At this time the Council of the E.S.T. held a conference and decided to continue the School. At the suggestion of Mr. Judge it was divided into two Divisions, Eastern and Western, the first to comprise India and Europe and the second to consist of America. There were to be two joint Heads, Mrs. Besant for the Eastern Division and Mr. Judge for the Western.

A full discussion of these schools is avoided here because it might involve us in a discussion about teachings, and likewise because these schools have been officially declared outside of the Theosophical Society. But because they are so closely related to the events which follow, a few comments on them are included.

There is a tendency to speak of these schools as ‘occult’ in character. But this is misleading, as the Book of Rules given to each student as well as the First Preliminary Memorandum of the School makes it clear that the development of psychic or magical powers would not be taught. The real purpose of the school was “to help the future growth of the Theosophical Society ... in the true direction, by promoting brotherly union at least among a choice minority.” It was to create a sort of ‘elite corps’ within the Theosophical Society which would be pledged to greater efforts [35] towards making the exoteric Society successful. It was in this sense an esoteric body, meant for a select few, with teachings and instructions that were more recondite and profound than those given to members in the exoteric society.

Mrs. Besant herself did not entirely approve of the control which the new esoteric group exercised over the exoteric, as can be seen from her remarks in The Theosophist of October 1907:

“In the T.S. we have a curious mixture. The Exoteric Society is purely democratic - it is only fair to admit this fully. On the other side we have an Esoteric body which is practically autocratic in its constitution ... The existence of a secret body to rule the outer Society made the constitution of the T.S. a mere farce, for it was at the mercy of the inner … All the differences that arose between the Colonel and myself were on this point; he could not believe that I was serious in saying that I would not use the E.S. against him, but slowly he came to understand it ... The greatest power will always be in the hands of the E.S., and not in the head of the Society ... I know that I exercise a quite unwarrantable power. This is what makes some people say there should not be an E.S.T. … We must recognize the danger and try to neutralize it. At any time during the last fifteen years I could have checkmated the Colonel on any point if I had chosen ...”

An inquirer might reasonably ask whether or not the Outer Heads of all the Schools are or have been as judicious in the use of their power, as was Mrs. Besant; and if not, to what extent are the problems of the Movement due to the abuse of this power?

A circular sent to E.S.T. members on March 29, 1892, signed by both Annie Besant and W.Q. Judge, reaffirmed the policy of H.P.B. that “The E.S.T. has no official connection with the Theosophical Society.”

A student of Theosophical history is apt to wonder [36] how authentic this separation is, for he finds that the high officials of the Schools hold similar positions in the Theosophical Society. Does this constitute the official disconnection which the School advocates? In a pamphlet entitled The Essentials and Non-Essentials of a Theosophical Organization by the well-known Theosophist William Kingsland, we read:

“It is quite right that members of an Esoteric Group or Section - who may be supposed to be somewhat in advance of the ordinary run of members - should be a leavening influence in the outer Organization. But that they should control that Organization by reason of a pledge to obey the instructions of any particular Head of the Section - thereby practically establishing an autocracy - is utterly wrong both in principle and in practice.” [2]

In his narrative about this period the President writes of his arrival in London shortly after H.P.B.’s death:

“Mr. Judge and I, being such old acquaintances, and, until somewhat later, personal friends, passed most of our time together and discussed the situation in all its aspects ... My confidence in him, however, received a severe shock, for he made pretences of intimacy with the Mahatmas which were absolutely contradicted by the whole drift of his private letters to me since we parted at New York; he had been constantly importuning me to get messages from them, and complaining of their obstinate silence.” [3]

In the account of this period by the anonymous writer of The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950 it is stated:

“In this conference of the Advisory Council (of the E.S.T.), Mr. Judge represented the American Councillors, and he also attended as the representative of H.P.B. under a ‘general power’ - which ‘general power’ was contained in an E.S. document written by H.P.B., dated December 14, 1888, stating Mr. Judge’s position of sole authority as representative of H.P.B. in America.” [4] [37]

In this connection it should be remembered that H.S. Olcott was also given the same assignment for Asiatic countries by H.P.B. in 1889, though he was never a member of the School. (See Old Diary Leaves IV, p.197).

To add some confusion to the situation H.P.B. had written to Mr. Judge on March 27, 1891, expressly speaking of Mrs. Besant as her ‘successor’. She said:

“Judge, she (Annie Besant) is a most wonderful woman, my right hand, my successor, when I will be forced to leave you, my sole hope in England, as you are my sole hope in America.”

But in Old Diary Leaves Colonel Olcott writes that he could “name a number of women who hold her letters saying that they are to be her successors in the T.S. [5] He added that “if the successorship letters were collected they would form an amusing compendium,” [6] and that she had made “many similar offers” to men and women from first to last. [7]

At about this time Mr. Judge wrote a letter to the Editor of the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times (reprinted in Lucifer for March 1892) in which he said:

“Madame Blavatsky has no ‘successor,’ could have none, never contemplated, selected, or notified one.”

In her first Message to the American Section of The Theosophical Society, addressed to Mr. Judge, then its General Secretary, H.P.B. wrote:

“My Dearest Brother and Co-Founder of the Theosophical Society:
“In addressing to you this letter, which I request you to read to the Convention summoned for April 22nd, I must first present my hearty congratulations and most cordial good wishes to the assembled Delegates and good Fellows of our Society, and to yourself - the heart and soul of that Body in America. [38] We were several, to call it to life in 1875. Since then you have remained alone to preserve that life through good and evil report. It is to you chiefly, if not entirely, that the Theosophical Society owes its existence in 1888. Let me then thank you for it, for the first and perhaps the last time publicly, and from the bottom of my heart, which beats only for the cause you represent so well and serve so faithfully.”

Here is unmistakable evidence of the high regard in which H.P.B. held Mr. Judge. It was about this time also, that Mr. Judge went to London, and there, at the request of H.P.B., drew up the plans and rules for the new Esoteric School which she launched shortly thereafter.

But her fondness and regard for Annie Besant is equally impressive as is seen in the extracts from three undated letters appearing below. The first was printed in the Theosophist Vol. LIII, Part I, No.5, February 1932, pp.509-510 and reads in part:

“Jersey, Wednesday
“DEARLY BELOVED ONE - (Underlined three times by H.P.B.)
I am proud of you, I love you, I honour you. You are and will be yet before all men - the star of salvation.
“Now don’t kick oh thou, dove-eyed one, it’s all sincere ...
“Oh Lord how I do wish to see you! We are coming back on the 20th or 21st of August. Olcott is expected on the 24th or 25th of August. I do hope he will listen to you. Goodbye dearest. I kiss you on both your dear dear cheeks and I see your big lotus-like eyes peeping into mine and I do see and visit you if you don’t. Love and two fraternal kisses to H.B.”

The second letter appeared in the Theosophist, Vol. LIII, No.6, March 1932, pp.632-33. On the envelope appears the notation: “Annie Besant, F.T.S., The one and the only one.” The text bears the notation “Esoteric Section.” The letter follows: [39]

“Dearest Friend -
“I have just read your letter to Old, and my heart is sick for the poor little ones! Look here, I have but 30 sh. of my own money, of which I can dispose, (for, as you know, I am a pauper and proud of it) but I want you to take them, and not say a word. This may buy 30 dinners for 30 poor little starving wretches, and I may feel happier for 30 minutes at the thought. Now don’t say a word and do it; take them to those unfortunate babes who loved your flowers and felt happy. Forgive your old uncouth friend, useless in this world?
“Ever yours whom I respect with every day more - H.P.B.”

The third appeared in the Theosophist, Vol. LIII, Part III, No.7, April 1932, pp. 20-21 and is marked “Esoteric.” It reads in part:

“... Annie, I am most profoundly miserable. Why, you would hardly understand. I believe but in one person in England and this is YOU.”

There is also in the record (Old Diary Leaves IV, p. 51) a letter from Mr. Judge to Col. Olcott dated June 8, 1888, which displays Mr. Judge’s keen desire to preserve the American Section as an integral part of the Parent Society in India. It reads:

“Certain matters are occurring here which need attention and action ... His (Coues’) policy is to place himself at the head of some wonderful unknown thing through which (save the mark!) communications are alleged to come from the Masters. He also in a large sense wishes to pull the T.S. away from your jurisdiction and make himself the Grand Mogul of it in this country ... I know that ... policy is to retain complete control in you, and my desire is to keep the American Section as a dependency of the General Council in India; hence you are the President. It was never my intention to dissever, but to bind, and the form of our Constitution clearly shows that. That’s why no President is elected or permitted here ... So I would recommend that you call the Council and consider our Constitution, which ought long ago to have been done - and decide that we are in affiliation and subordination to India, and that we are recognized as part of [40] the General Council, with power to have a Secretary as an (official) channel, but not to have a yearly President, but only a chairman at each Convention. I cannot work this thing here properly without your cooperation.” [8]

In view of subsequent developments in the Society, it is interesting to note the letter of greeting, signed by Mr. Judge as General Secretary, from the American Section, read during the Convention of the European Section, T.S. in July 1891:

“... Unity is strength; division leads to weakness, decay and final dissolution. Hence the American Section views with pleasure the prospect of all the European Branches being closely massed together with a common object, a single organization ...”

On September 29, 1891, the President went to San Francisco, after lecturing in many cities across the country. Here he met Judge, and came to an understanding with him about Theosophical matters, for, according to Josephine Ransom:

“there were already difficulties concerning the claims Judge had begun to make with regard to his relations with the Masters.” [9]

On November 18, 1891 Mrs. Besant sailed for America to consult with leading Theosophists on the affairs of the Society:

“She conferred with Judge and other responsible officers about information she had received concerning Col. Olcott, which, if true, rendered him, she thought, unfit to remain President. After anxious consultations, a statement was drawn up to put before the President, and a demand made for his resignation. To ensure strict privacy, it was decided to send the statement personally with Mr. E.T. Sturdy to Adyar.” [10]

Mr. Sturdy arrived in Adyar on January 19, 1892. Col. Olcott’s only mention of this is in his Old Diary Leaves IV, p. 459, where he says: [41]

Exaggerated reports had been spread about me; (Italics added) the Judge influence was paramount in London ... Every other possible thing was done to reduce my position to that of a sort of cipher or figurehead; so I met the thing halfway with my resignation.”

In The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950 the anonymous author, while commenting on this resignation, writes:

“The notice of this decision, (to resign) which appeared in the Path for March 1892, came as a complete surprise to all but a handful of the members of the Society. While Col. Olcott attributed his retirement to ill-health, the real reason came to light several years later, in a letter by Herbert Burrows to the English Theosophist for November 1895. Explaining his own resignation from the Society, Mr. Burrows referred to the ‘accusations of grave immorality against Col. Olcott, laid before him by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge, and in consequence of which the Colonel resigned his presidency.’” [11]

The resignation should not, according to the same authority, the anonymous writer of The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950,

“be construed as certain evidence of Olcott’s ‘guilt,’ but rather of his desire to protect the Society from any breath of scandal. According to E.T. Sturdy, who was Mrs. Besant’s emissary, the charges related to an incident in Col. Olcott’s private life.” [12]

It should be noted that no public charges were brought against Col. Olcott and therefore they required no refutation. In the Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Convention of the European Section of the T.S. and the First Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society in Europe, Mr. G. Mellis is quoted as saying:

“I protest against your (Col. Olcott’s) occupying the chair at this convention until we have investigated the charges brought against you by Mrs. Besant, because I believe on those charges you are not a fit and proper person to represent us at this present meeting.” [42]

Mrs. Besant replied:

“I rise to say that I have brought no charges of any kind against Colonel Olcott, and therefore the statement made is not the fact.”

Thus the Colonel did preside as Chairman at that meeting and hence the charges were publicly denied, that is, by Mrs. Besant, who was the person who went to America to consult with W.Q. Judge about the matter.

In view of their non-establishment as facts, it is indeed regrettable that the rumor should even be mentioned, as everyone knows how easy it is to belittle a person’s character by starting an unfounded rumor which reflects on his private life. The incident, in any event, if verifiable, may have referred to Colonel Olcott’s early life before he joined the Movement. It is the more regrettable because it tends to cast an aspersion on the Society through the person of its highest official. The reader must inquire into the possible motives for the inclusion of such anecdotes in a history of the T.S. Was it to hurt the Co-Founder so as to get him out of the way in an effort to build up another? Was it to establish this other person as the more spiritual of the two so that subsequent schisms in the Movement would acquire more validity? On the other hand the members of the Society were overwhelmingly in favor of the Colonel remaining as President to the end of his life. The White Lodge too stood by him and told him he should remain at his post. On February 10, 1892, shortly after his resignation, he received a message from his Master to the effect: [43]

“a. That a messenger from Him would be coming and that I must be ready to go and meet him;
b. That the relationship between Himself, H.P.B., and myself was unbreakable;
c. That I must be ready for a change of body, as my present one had nearly served its purpose;
d. That I had not done well in trying to resign prematurely; I was still wanted at my post, and must be contented to remain indefinitely, until He gave me permission to abandon it;
e. That the time was not ripe for carrying out my scheme of a great International Buddhist League, and that the Maha-Bodhi Society, which I had intended to use as a nucleus for the scheme, would be a failure;
f. That all the stories of Him having cast me off and withdrawn His protection were false, for He kept constant watch over me, and would never desert me.” [13]

Before the receipt of this message it was quite apparent that Olcott really wanted to retire. He had three offers of support for the rest of his life, one from Prince Harisingji, who called him his ‘son.’ But the call to duty was again stronger than his urge to leave his strenuous duties. He thereupon wrote to Judge on February 18 about the receipt of the message from his Guru, without revoking his resignation. He also asked Judge to come to Adyar as Acting President, after resigning as General Secretary of the American Section. Judge acknowledged this by cable on April 2, 1892, agreeing to give up the General Secretaryship.

In his Old Diary Leaves volume 4, page 462, Olcott states that “in every letter he (Judge) was asking me to nominate him for the full term of his life.” (for President) .

On April 21, 1892 Judge cabled Olcott to remain in office, as he (Judge) had very important news from The Lodge. He stated there would be a great change in his policy as of April 24, 1892 (the date of the Convention of the American Section of the T.S.). On [44] April 20, 1892, Judge sent Olcott what the latter termed “a rambling fraudulent Mahatma letter.” Included in it were the following instructions received by him (Judge) from a Master:

“He (Judge) has been recently ordered ... to change his policy ... He will cause it to be done as follows at the meeting in April (the American T.S. Convention); and has before this prepared for it a resolution to be passed, declaring, first, that your resignation has been received; second, that the meeting notes that all the Branches have in this land voted for him as the successor; that the meeting, as in duty bound, declares the vote of the Section to be for the person selected by the Branches; fourth, that, however, that vote is to be operative only in case that the old leader (Olcott) cannot be induced to remain at the demand of the most powerful Section, and that he is directed to find out, to wait until the other Convention, to write to the old leader and ask him to revoke, to sway the others in July to do the same, and in all ways to try to bring that about.” [14]

Colonel Olcott comments:

“The comical aspect of this affair is in the fact that this change of his policy is ‘ordered’ in the bogus authoritative letter received by him, as pretended, at least a month after his receipt of my letter telling him about my clairaudient message!” [15]

The narrative goes on to say that Mr. Judge went to London in July as putative successor to the Presidency, and as representative of his Section, and that instead of obeying his ‘orders’ to sway the Convention, he kept silent on the matter, and allowed the European Convention, in ignorance of the wishes of the Master, to accept Olcott’s resignation, and vote for him (Judge) as President.

According to H.S. Olcott in his Old Diary Leaves:

“Mrs. Besant, Mr. Mead, and their colleagues got their first intimation of this from my Executive Notice of 21st August 1892, in which I announce my revocation of the letter of [45] resignation and resumption of active duty; incidentally mentioning the circumstance of the clairaudient message, and of Mr. Judge’s alleged message on April 20th. Mrs. Besant, in embodying this case of double-dealing in one of the charges made by her against Judge, says: ‘This startled the London workers, as it made them think that they had unwittingly acted against the Master’s will, and G.R.S. Mead wrote to Colonel Olcott - “The order you quote from is quite sufficient; and if we had had a ghost of an idea of the existence of such an order, the resolutions passed would have been different. Judging from W.Q.J.’s letter, he is as ignorant of this quoted matter as we were.”’” [16]

This aroused their suspicions and in consequence they wrote to Mr. Judge and asked him to explain. Several letters on the matter were interchanged and their contents were printed in the pamphlet The Case Against W.Q. Judge.

Colonel Olcott adds that:

“The discriminative reader will not overlook the fact that the action of Mr. Judge and the American Section entirely contradicts and makes absurd the resolutions of 1895, when the American Convention passed, by a preponderating majority of our American Branches, a vote to secede from us, and declared that there never had been any de jure Theosophical Society outside the fragment of the original body at New York.” [17]

Apparently these messages caused considerable unhappiness among the members, who began to doubt their authenticity. As Josephine Ransom says:

“A certain amount of opinion had formed that Mr. Judge was issuing letters purporting to be in the handwriting of a Master, with His signature, and some had upon them the impress of the ‘seal’ bought so long before at Delhi by Col. Olcott, because he thought it resembled the Master M’s cryptogram. Judge denied having done so. A little later he asked the Colonel not to force an enquiry into ‘bogus letters’ and the ‘Lahore brass’ i.e., the Delhi seal.” [18]

In December 1892 Walter R. Old arrived in Adyar, and after long consultation with him and others: [46]

“the President concluded that Judge was deeply at fault. The records were submitted to Judge Khandalavala, who counselled the Colonel to prosecute the case against Judge.” [19]

The matter was considered too serious a menace to the Society’s welfare to permit it to continue.

A question the reader will naturally ask is: Would the Masters, after choosing Olcott as President of the T.S., issue instructions concerning the management of the Society, through a second party and intended for a third party, which went contrary to the wishes of the President?

It must be understood that what was at issue was the authenticity of certain messages which Mr. Judge had sent to a number of members, alleging that they had been received through him from the Mahatmas of the White Lodge. The writing resembled that of the Mahatma K.H. and was in his familiar script, which all the members were acquainted with as being the script used by him in letters received phenomenally by H.P.B. in the early eighties.

Mrs. Besant’s friendship and respect for Mr. Judge as a mystic or occultist, were very great until she went to Adyar in 1893 and compared notes with other officials there. In her talk at the Annual Convention of 1894 she stated that all the evidence, when put together -

“made so strong a body of evidence that it became a duty to the Society that it should be placed before it, and that Mr. Judge, as its Vice-President, should be given an opportunity of definitely meeting the charges if he could, so that an end might be put to a position so painful to all concerned, and so dangerous to the reputation and the honor of the Society.” [20]

It must not be forgotten when studying this issue that Mr. Judge was a very prominent member of the Society, being its Vice-President as well as General [47] Secretary of the American Section of the T.S. He was highly respected as such, particularly for his ability, energy and devotion in building up the American Section from very small beginnings to a powerful group.

After making a triumphant Indian tour Mrs. Besant arrived in Adyar on December 20, 1893. Since the problems arising in connection with the Judge situation were worsening, the President held a consultation with her and his advisers, the latter including Countess Wachtmeister, Messrs. Sturdy, Edge, Old, and Judge Khandalavala. It was decided that the situation demanded clarification. Therefore Col. Olcott requested Mrs. Besant to draft and sign the charges against Mr. Judge.

The reader should understand that the terms of the Society’s Rules provided that in all cases of misconduct of a General Secretary or a Vice-President, the President is called upon to act. Col. Olcott points out that he strongly disapproved of the next step taken by Mrs. Besant: that of sending Judge a copy of every piece of documentary evidence on which the case rested, these documents being in his custody alone, and only usable with his consent and knowledge. He says she was “led into it through her then intense personal friendship for our delinquent colleague.” [21] He adds that Mrs. Besant’s motive was of the highest, she only wishing to help out a dear friend in difficulty by showing him all the cards held by the prosecution.

On March 10, 1894, Judge answered Olcott’s charges, cabling:

“Charges absolutely false; you can take what proceedings you see fit; going to London in July.”

Mr. Judge supplemented his cable by a circular dated [48] March 15, 1894, entitled Charges against William Q. Judge from which we quote:

“On constitutional and executive principle I shall object from beginning to end to any committee of the Theosophical Society considering any charge against any person which involves an inquiry and decision as to the existence, names, powers, functions, or methods of the ‘Mahatmas or Masters.’ I shall do this for the protection of the Theosophical Society now and hereafter, regardless of the result to myself ...
“... The form which the whole matter has taken now compels me to say what I have never before said publicly, namely, that not only have I received direct communications from Masters during and since the life of H.P. Blavatsky, but that I have on certain occasions repeated such to certain persons for their own guidance, and also that I have guided some of my own work under suggestions from the same sources, though without mentioning the fact. - WILLIAM Q. JUDGE.”

In substantiation of his judgment that the alleged letters received by Judge from the Mahatmas were bogus, Col. Olcott speaks of his getting together

“a large number of Judge’s private letters to H.P.B. and himself in which he (Judge) complains of his absolute inability to get into touch with the Masters and begs us to intervene on his behalf. Of course, this proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the falsity of the pretensions he had been making to his American colleagues and others, that he had been allied with those Personages for many years and was doing what he did under their instructions and with their approval.” [22]

The letters referred to were published in The Theosophist from January 1931 to December 1931.

It is important to note that no specific charges were made by Mrs. Besant and Col. Olcott at that time. These were preliminary measures only. The implication was that if guilty, Mr. Judge would quietly retire, and if innocent he would consent to a committee investigation in order to set at rest all the rumors. But his immediate reaction was to cable a denial of guilt, [49] which forced the President to call the Committee and try the charges. Thereupon the President issued an Executive Notice on April 27, 1894, calling a meeting of the Judicial Committee for June 27 in London. He also included in this copies of the detailed charges and specifications drafted by Mrs. Besant as Accuser.

The official reports of the various events which took place in 1894 - a period marked by excitement and unhappiness in the Theosophical Society - show a commendable degree of forbearance on Mr. Judge’s part. For example, after the President had suspended him from the office of Vice-President, Mr. Judge, as General Secretary of the American Section, went ahead with plans for the eighth annual convention in San Francisco on April 23-24, 1894. The Resolutions adopted by the American Section at this convention fully supported Judge’s position. Through them the delegates declared their “unswerving belief in his integrity and uprightness.” They regarded official investigation into the existence and methods of Mahatmas as unconstitutional and illegal, and added:

“RESOLVED: That, if in the face of this protest and opinion of this Section, there is to be an investigation to decide whether or not William Q. Judge is or was in communication with said Mahatmas, and whether or not he has ‘misused the names and handwriting of said Mahatmas,’ or whether or not pretended or real communications or orders from said alleged Mahatmas have been issued or given out by him, then, in the opinion of this Section, an investigation should also be had to decide whether or not Col. Olcott, A.P. Sinnett, Annie Besant, and others have had, given or promulgated such or any communication from the Mahatmas, whether real or pretended; and that they be required to show evidence of the possession of a commission from said Mahatmas, and of the truthfulness of their claims as heretofore frequently made and announced by them in public.” [50]

The Convention further resolved that only a Body of Mahatmas appearing at the sessions of the Judicial Committee could pass upon the authenticity of any alleged Mahatmic messages.

This put the President of the Society on the defense in an issue which was difficult to decide. Few Theosophists, even to this day, have questioned the authenticity of the messages received by H.P.B., A.P. Sinnett and H.S. Olcott. But now the new claimant made what on the face of it was a reasonable request: That if his claims to receiving Mahatmic messages were to be investigated, then the claims of all the others should likewise be examined.

The Judicial Committee met on July 10, 1894, and proceeded to act under Sections 2, 3 and 4 of Article VI of the Society’s Rules. The Minutes of this Committee and of the General Council Meeting (held on July 7, 1894), were printed by Col. Olcott in an Executive Notice dated London, July 21, 1894. [23]

Apparently no one was satisfied with the result of the enquiry, and according to the President “the European and Indian Sections seethed with discontent” because the charges had been side-stepped. For one thing Mr. Judge contradicted his own plea, for in his circular dated New York, March 15, 1894, he stated: “The charge is made against me as Vice-President,” but he added that his duties as such were merely nominal and only twice exercised. In short, he performed the duties of the office as called upon and thus his plea at the hearing moved contrary to his previous statement.

On November 20, 1894, Col. Olcott, then at Adyar, learned that W.R. Old, Treasurer and Recording Secretary [51] at Adyar, had arranged to publish all documents in the case in the Westminster Gazette. They appeared in October with unfavorable comments about the Society and its principals. These are the documents which were never previously published because the Judge Case did not go to trial. In his capacity as Recording Secretary Mr. Old had access to them; but they belonged to Col. Olcott and Mr. Old had no right to give them over to publication without the Colonel’s written consent. The publication of these papers, without authorization by the President, undoubtedly helped to precipitate the actions taken by the Judge faction shortly after that. Mr. Old later regretted his action, not having foreseen the trouble it would cause.

On November 4, 1894, Mr. Judge issued a circular entitled By Master’s Direction addressed to members of the E.S.T. in which he declared himself the sole head of the E.S.T. He declared, “under Master’s direction” that Mrs. Besant’s headship in the E.S.T. was at an end.

Col. Olcott comments that “coming from a man who, during ten of his years of his pretended close relationship with the Masters, was writing me the most despairing letters and complaining that he was unable to get the smallest sign of their personal interest in him, this was a piece of audacity indeed.” [24] The reader will find comment on this matter later in the text.

At the Annual Convention of the T.S. at Adyar in December 1894, Mrs. Besant introduced a Resolution, which was voted affirmatively, calling on the President-Founder immediately to request Mr. Judge to resign the office of Vice-President. Reasons given for submitting this Resolution were several, among them: [52]

“a. His office of Vice-President was for the life of the President
b. Resignation from office was the course always taken by honorable people when a challenge is made - not that the challenge is necessarily true
c. As a precedent H.P.B. resigned her offices in the Society when the Coulomb charges were made
d. Mrs. Besant herself resigned as President of the Blavatsky Lodge as soon as Mr. Judge made charges against her
e. In an esoteric document written by Mr. Judge it was stated that:
(1) There is a plot amongst black magicians influencing certain Brahmans in India through race-pride and ambition, to control and manage the T.S.
(2) That the Brahmans and their agents engineered the charges against Mr. Judge
(3) That Mrs. Besant practiced black magic on Mr. Judge and two others
f. Mr. Judge stated there were no true Initiates in India and praised the West as against the East
g. That the above stirs up disunion, unbrotherly feeling and strife in the Society’s midst and therefore contradicts the First Object
h. Mr. Judge misrepresented the feeling in the West about India - there was no such feeling as he affirmed.”

Mrs. Besant asked the convention not to expel him, as that would put a stigma on him, and she was unwilling to forget the services he had rendered. The essence of her charges against Mr. Judge are contained in a Statement by Annie Besant read at the Third Session of the European Convention of the T.S., July 12, 1894. Key thoughts in this Statement were:

“I wish it to be distinctly understood that I do not charge ... Mr. Judge with forgery in the ordinary sense of the term, but with giving a misleading material form to messages received psychically from the Master in various ways, without acquainting the recipients with this fact ... I believe that he has sometimes received messages for other people in one or other of the ways that I will mention in a moment, but not by direct writing by the Master nor by his direct precipitation; [53] and that Mr. Judge has then believed himself to be justified in writing down in the script adopted by H.P.B. for communications from the Master, the message psychically received, and in giving it to the person for whom it was intended, leaving that person to wrongly assume that it was a direct precipitation or writing by the Master himself - that is, that it was done through Mr. Judge, but done by the Master.
“Now personallly I hold that this method is illegitimate and that no one should simulate a recognized writing which is regarded as authoritative when it is authentic ... If a person gets a message which he believes to be from the Master, for communication to anyone else, he is bound in honour not to add to that message any extraneous circumstances which will add weight to it in the recipient’s eyes. I believe that Mr. Judge wrote with his own hand, consciously or automatically, I do not know, in the script adopted as that of the Master, messages which he received from the Master or from Chelas.” [25]

It was pointed out by H.P.B. in Lucifer (October 1888, Vol. III, 89) in an article entitled “Lodges of Magic,” that it is

“hardly one out of a hundred ‘occult’ letters that is ever written by the hand of the Master, in whose name and on whose behalf they are sent ... Generally they make their chela ... write (or precipitate them, by impressing upon his mind the ideas they wish expressed and if necessary aiding him in the picture-printing process of precipitation. It depends entirely on the chela’s state of development, how accurately the ideas may be transmitted and the writing-model imitated.”

In 1895, at the request of many Lodges and representative members of the T.S., Mrs. Besant published a booklet entitled The Case Against W.Q. Judge. This was a reprint of the Statement prepared for the Judicial Committee, July 1894 by herself. It also included an eighteen page summary of the case by her, from which we quote:

“Those who believe in Occultism and the Great Masters should never forget that there are innumerable invisible agencies, hosts of Elementals and Elementaries - from little [54] Nature-Spirits to the highest Angels, from Puck-like mischievous imps to the Arch-demon himself - pervading all space. A neophyte, therefore, cannot be too careful in distinguishing impressions, sounds, visions, caused by the dark side of Nature, illusions thrown up by his own subconscious desires, or cast by embodiments of falsehood, from the voice and teaching of the Brothers of the White Lodge, the sage precepts of the Incarnation of Truth.” [26] ...
“The view so much pressed that the Committee would have infringed the doctrinal neutrality of the Society by listening to the charges and the defense, blurs the essential fact that Mr. Judge escaped the investigation on a purely technical plea, and by his own action prevented the charges from being heard ...” [27]
“There was clear and indubitable evidence that frauds had been committed by the use of two scripts, recognized as adopted for Mahatma communications. The evidence connecting Mr. Judge with these frauds was so cogent that, failing a satisfactory explanation from him as to some form of lower mediumship, of which he was the unfortunate victim, his guilt must be taken as proved.” [28]
“Remembering that all I was certain of was, what I knew from the Master, that they were done by Mr. Judge, and that this did not exclude the possibility of automatic writing, you will agree with me that most thoughtful and responsible persons would have suspended judgment as I did till the challenged person had been heard.” [29]

*  *  *


The Convention of The American Section of the T.S. was held at Boston, April 28-29, 1895. As usual Mr. Judge gave a report of the progress of the work and outlined also the events which had taken place regarding the charges against him. He had refused to resign the Vice-Presidency, he said, because to him that would have been a confession of guilt. He stated that the basis for the attack on him was disbelief in his being a channel of the White Lodge.

Resolutions were adopted by 191 to 10, seceding [55] from the Parent Society and declaring their name to be henceforth “The Theosophical Society in America.” W.Q. Judge was made President for life. President Olcott was given recognition for “long and efficient services rendered to the Movement.” Constitution and By-Laws were adopted and officers elected. Before the final vote, Mr. Fullerton, later appointed General Secretary of the American Section of the T.S. (Adyar), made a speech in which he showed conclusively that “there was no occasion for the proposed secession except to relieve Mr. Judge from replying to the charges against him.” [30] Obviously the secession plans had been in preparation for some time, as the transformation from one body to another could not otherwise have been so speedy. The number of Branches in the American Section before the secession was 103 with a membership of 2503. The number of Branches which seceded was 89, with a membership of 2223. This left only 14 Branches with a membership of 280 which remained loyal to the Parent Society.

As a result of the secession, the new Theosophical Society in America appropriated all the moneys, documents and property belonging to the old Theosophical Society (Adyar), though provision was made that those “not wishing to continue their membership under the new name shall on demand be entitled to their per capita share of the said moneys and funds.” [31]

By an Executive Notice dated June 5, 1895, the President (Olcott) abrogated the Charter of the American Section granted in the year 1886; annulled all Charters of Branches which voted for the Secession; cancelled all diplomas of membership of all Fellows who participated in the secession; confirmed the validity of the Charters of those who were not a party to the Secession; appointed a Special Committee to have [56] charge of all American affairs pending issuance of a Section Charter.

The Notice concluded with a denial of “the wholly false and misleading idea, that the Theosophical Society, now existing, is not de jure the continuation of the Society which was formed by H.P.B., the undersigned (Olcott), and our colleagues, at New York in 1875.” Ample proof was given to refute the idea. Students especially interested in this refutation are referred to A Historical Retrospect (1875-1896) of the Theosophical Society, which is an extract from the twenty-first Anniversary Address of the President-Founder of the Society, published by the Society (Adyar) in Madras, India, in 1896. Here the de jure character of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) is established in a manner which is indisputable. The matter is mentioned because it has been claimed otherwise by certain parts of the Movement.

In his Old Diary Leaves President Olcott recounts having received, after the secession, from Dr. Buck, a copy of his own undated Circular to the “Members, Branches, and Sections of the Theosophical Society.” Dr. Buck is quoted as saying:

“There is a ready and efficient method of ending the bitter strife which has already made our Society a laughing-stock. That is, the separation of the Sections, the abolition of the offices of President and Vice-President, the giving of complete autonomy or ‘home-rule’ to every Section. In other words, to be like Canada, self-governing in every particular, with its own laws, legislature and Governor, though still in the Empire. (Italics added) ...
... I therefore urge the American Section to pass unanimously a vote of Secession, and declare their entire autonomy, and to proceed to organize this Section on this basis, and make it effectual in the best sense for the promotion of the real brotherhood of man on the lines laid down by the Master and H.P.B.” [57]

A study of this and other documents confirms the assertions of some commentators on the secession, that the secessionists did not intend to make a complete break with the Parent Society, and wanted at all costs to maintain cordial and sympathetic relations with it. Else how could the chief architect of the secession have urged his fellow-members to secede organizationally, though still remaining in the Empire, as in the case of Canada?

In her Short History of the T.S. Josephine Ransom says (p. 311) that “the Constitution (of the new Society) was to provide that W.Q. Judge should be President for life, with power to nominate his successor.” This latter power was never exercised, as a later review of the events immediately following Mr. Judge’s death will show. This statement is documented by E.A. Neresheimer in Some Reminiscences of William Q. Judge, a copy of which was handed the author by Mrs. E.A. Neresheimer on learning of the desire of a group of Theosophists to reunite all Theosophical groups. This leads us to conclude that Mr. Judge did not hold the well-known successorship hypothesis which certain of his later followers have affirmed.

The new Society, wishing to generate approval for some statements made by them, issued a writing entitled Historical Sketch of the Theosophical Society which was described as “Inside Facts from the Records of the T.S., from 1875 to the present day.” Josephine Ransom states:

“This recital had as object to try to show that the legal history of The Society was with the little group in America left behind in 1878. One instance will serve to show the interpretation put upon events. It is said, page six, that the ‘earlier Branches (in America) were formed by delegates from New York and they established the old “Board of Control.” The fact that their charters of existence were supplied from India [58] and signed by Col. Olcott and H.P. Blavatsky as President and Corresponding Secretary respectively, and that the Board of Control was authorized and its members appointed by Col. Olcott, was suppressed. The General Councils were described as ‘alleged,’ despite the twenty years obedience to their mandates ...” [32]

It was claimed that it was upon the “inadequate information supplied in this document” that a legal advisor gave it as his opinion that “the so-called Theosophical Society ... has no regularly adopted constitution or by-laws, no regularly elected president or vice-presidents or other officers, and none other than a de facto existence.” [33]

In his Annual Address to the Convention of the Theosophical Society on December 27, 1895, the President attempted to demonstrate “where the vortex of this movement of ours was from the time of our leaving America to, say, the close of 1887.” So he gave the following statistics as to the number of branches formed by H.P.B. and himself, as compared with those formed in the U.S.A.:

“In 1879, 1880, and 1881 those in charge of the New York centre formed no new Branches, H.P.B. and I formed 24. In 1882 the St. Louis and Rochester Branches were formed, we had formed 52; in 1883 the dead New York Society was reincarnated in the Aryan T.S., Mr. Judge obtaining the charter from us; in the whole United States there were three Branches at the close of 1883, but we had formed 95; in 1884 there was one Branch formed in the United States, making 4 in all, while we had 103 elsewhere; Mr. Judge met the Founders in Europe in that year, was home again in 1885, and two new Branches sprang up, we had chartered 124 in all; in 1886 two were made in America and 136 charters were extant; finally, to the end of 1887 - twelve years after our beginning, and nine after the Founders came to India - eleven charters had been issued by me to American Branches and 147 to others in other countries. Whether de facto or de jure, it is evident that H.P.B. and I were doing the hard work of building up the Theosophical Society and making its name and objects known throughout the whole earth.” [34] [59]

At this time the President also made clear the distinction he drew between an autonomous and a seceded Section:

“A Section of our Society may ... be autonomous in the full meaning - self-law-making - of the word; that is to say, may make its own by-laws and rules with the President’s approbation, but with the proviso that they ‘do not conflict with the Objects and Rules of The Theosophical Society’.” [35]

With a note of unhappiness Col. Olcott sent a message to the American Section of the T.S. (composed of those who had not seceded) which held its Tenth Annual Convention in Chicago on April 26, 1895, despite the secession. He pointed out that:

“With regard to our seceding brothers ... if they had confined themselves to withdrawal from The Society and the formation of a new body, we should have had no cause to protest, but could have worked with them in full brotherly affiliation, both Societies being moved by a common impulse. But when they went so far as to proclaim all of the Society outside their party as irregularly and unconstitutionally existing, cooperation became impossible; we might work with any other society or association, of whatsoever kind, in the whole world, but not with them. This is the parting of the ways.” [36]

During the year 1895 there had been some extensions of the American secession, particularly in the Scandinavian Section. Before the secession there were 428 Chartered Branches belonging to the Parent Society, while after it the number was reduced to 338.

On March 21, 1896, less than a year from the date of the secession, Mr. Judge passed away. His health had been impaired since his trip to South America some years previously, during which he contracted chagres fever. His last year was one of slowly failing health. In an Executive Notice appearing in the Theosophist for April 1896, Col. Olcott announced the [60] fact of his death with the following tribute to his memory:

“Mr. Judge’s services to our Society, from the beginning and until the date of the secession of last year, were conspicuous for their value and the zest and practical judgment which were displayed throughout his work. As it was his Karma which brought him into the Movement, so is it the same mysterious and inflexible power which has snatched him away in the prime of life and the fullness of his hopes, but with his plans unrealized. It behooves us all to keep in mind his many good deeds, to bury our private grievances out of sight, and to express to his family and our respected late colleagues, our regrets for their crushing bereavement.” [37]

Mr. Judge had, and still has, many admirers. Not the least of these was Dr. J.D. Buck, Vice-President of the new Society at the time of Judge’s death. In appreciation of him, he wrote:

“People on the other side of the ocean never understood Mr. Judge’s position in America, where he was well known in connection with his work, nor how impossible it would be to shake confidence in him ... He was never narrow, never selfish, never conceited. He would drop his own plan in a moment if a better were suggested, and was delighted if some one would carry on the work he had devised, and immediately inaugurate other lines of work. To get on with the work and forward the Movement seemed to be his only aim in life.”

*  *  *


A new period in the Movement’s history now commenced, with two societies called Theosophical in the field instead of one. If the secessionists hoped to continue to work along parallel lines within the Theosophical empire, as publicly declared by both the President and Vice-President of the T.S. in America, their successors very soon altered this policy. [61]

Following Mr. Judge’s death there was a period of great confusion among the prominent members, for despite his illness, his death was unexpected. They naturally wondered what instructions he had left for the continuation of the Society. An interesting account of this period is to be found in a statement previously referred to, entitled Some Reminiscences of William Q. Judge by E.A. Neresheimer. Mr. Neresheimer was a highly respected businessman, known to his associates as a man of complete integrity and leaning towards realism rather than emotionalism. He was called from his home in Long Island the Sunday morning after Judge’s death, by a telegram from Mrs. K.A. Tingley and immediately responded. Both of them discussed what was to be done with Mrs. Judge. The latter asked Mr. Neresheimer to go with her on the day after the funeral to the bank where Mr. Judge had a safety-deposit-box which she wanted to open in his presence.

The funeral took place on the following day, March 23. On Tuesday, March 24th, relates Mr. Neresheimer in his narrative:

“I accompanied Mrs. Judge to the bank. Opening the box there, we found Mr. Judge’s Will, some purely personal matters and other papers ... I requested Mr. Hargrove and Mr. Griscom to be present in the segregation of the large collection of papers left by Mr. Judge, and in their examination, to which they readily consented. We worked together thus for several evenings far into the night. We went through all Mr. Judge’s private papers ... Among all the papers and other documents left by Mr. Judge, we found nothing whatever in his handwriting bearing upon the future conduct of the Society after his death. Nor did we find anything in his writing naming Mrs. Tingley, or anyone else, either directly or indirectly, as his successor in the affairs of the Theosophical Society in America or in its Esoteric Section, or any directions of any kind to be followed in the event of his death.” [62]

There follows a description of some notes in Judge’s handwriting. In several there were signs which he used to designate some of his close associates. Mr. Neresheimer recognized one of these signs as applicable to Mrs. Tingley. He pointed it out to Messrs. Griscom and Hargrove as being that of a ‘chela’ with whom Mr. Judge had been associated for several years. He did this because his experience with her had led him to believe that this term of ‘chela’ was applicable to her, and because he thought it best not to mention her name at that time.

On Wednesday morning, March 25, 1896, Mr. Neresheimer was called to Mrs. Tingley’s home to discuss the names of certain prominent members who were to be invited to a meeting with the ‘chela’. As a result, Mr. Neresheimer invited to lunch, on Thursday, March 26, at the Hardware Club, all those who had been selected and who had received invitations to the ‘chela’s’ home for that evening at 8:30. Mr. Neresheimer told the gathering that Mr. Judge had left no instructions for the future and had nominated no successor to carry on his work. But he added that Mr. Judge was in close touch with one who was apparently a ‘chela’ and the latter had invited them to meet at her residence that evening. The meeting lasted until daybreak but no decisions were made. Mrs. Tingley regaled her guests with intimate accounts of Mr. Judge and appeared to have real knowledge of the Society and its members.

A continuation of the meeting was held on Friday, March 27, at which Mrs. Tingley stated that an uninterrupted effort must be continued until a satisfactory plan was evolved that would insure the future stability [63] of the Society. It will be noted that she had already assumed the initiative and the very calling of the meeting of eight dominant members in her home helped to assure her command of the situation. She herself was until then an obscure member, unknown to all but a handful.

At this meeting several suggestions for the Presidency of the Society were made, including the name of Mrs. Tingley herself. But she steadfastly refused to consider it. She did, however, almost peremptorily assume the direction of the Esoteric Section, and declared that she already was its Head.

On this same Friday evening, March 27, 1896, an E.S. Notice was mailed out calling a General Meeting of the Esoteric School on Sunday, March 29, 1896. At this gathering an Announcement was read which was signed by the above-mentioned eight prominent members, in which they asserted that an examination of Mr. Judge’s private papers showed:

“that the future of the School was not left to chance ... His papers further show that he did not stand alone in the work, but that ... he had assistance right at hand, and that he left this assistance behind him, not withdrawn by his death.”

In this Announcement all were requested to trust the writers “even as he trusted us,” but further communications would be issued soon “proving from his own papers the correctness of all that is written above ...” [38]

On April 3, 1896 a report of this meeting was sent to all E.S. members, signed by the same eight members, declaring that Mr. Judge had left instructions for the future of the E.S. and had selected the new Outer Head. The latter was to remain incognito for one year. In reading from Mr. Judge’s diary at the meeting, Mr. Hargrove stated:

“… Reason alone should show us that he (Judge) could not have left that body if he had not had an occult heir and successor to take his place, for that is the law of the Lodge …” [39]

The second annual Convention of the T.S. in America was held at the end of April 1896 and E.T. Hargrove was elected President. Mrs. Tingley’s identity was soon made known to all by the publication of an interview with her in the New York Tribune.

In September 1896 began a World ‘Crusade’ during the course of which Mrs. Tingley was proclaimed “Leader of the entire Theosophical Movement throughout the World.” A party of seven leading members accompanied her. When they reached Colombo, Ceylon, it is recorded that in addition to the above title given Mrs. Tingley, the Crusaders announced that:

“The members of the Tour wish it to be distinctly understood that they have no connection with that organization to which Mrs. Annie Besant is attached and of which Colonel Olcott is President.” [40]

It is difficult to understand what Theosophical progress they expected to result from such an announcement, as it obviously gave notice to the audience that good relations between two groups of Theosophists had been ruptured, despite the brotherhood plank in the platform of each. A similar announcement was made at every weekly public meeting held by them in Isis Theater, San Diego, for many years. This must have struck an unpleasant note in the minds of inquirers, for were not the Theosophists seeking a Universal Brotherhood?

On their return to America in 1897 a corner-stone was laid at Point Loma, California, which had been selected as the site for the “School for the Revival of [65] the Lost Mysteries of Antiquity.” Later the headquarters of the Society was moved there.

Signs of discontent with Mrs. Tingley as ‘Leader’ soon became apparent among many of the prominent members. E.T. Hargrove resigned as President. Mrs. Archibald Keightley and Mr. Neresheimer had a disagreement over the editorial policy of the Path. Mr. and Mrs. Claude Falls Wright left the Society, as did Mrs. Alice Cleather. Mr. Hargrove stated that “serious and obvious defects exist in the management of the Society,” and he objected to Mrs. Tingley’s overpowering authority.

The 1898 Convention of the Society was held in February, two months earlier than usual. A plan was adopted, the vote being almost unanimous, whereby the T.S. in America became a department of the “Universal Brotherhood.” (See Report of Fourth Annual Convention of the T.S. in America in “Universal Brotherhood,” March 1898, XII, 313). Mrs. Tingley became “Leader and Official Head” of both bodies and under the new constitution received paramount authority to manage the group as she saw fit. No right of appeal existed under this arrangement and she could appoint or remove all officials of the Society. Mr. Hargrove and his friends, numbering a minority of about two hundred members, left the Convention, held their own meeting, declared the convention of Mrs. Tingley’s group illegal, formed their own Theosophical Society and elected their own officials.

During the convention he headed, Mr. Hargrove read a series of letters he had written to Mrs. Tingley in which he deposed her as Outer Head, “by Master’s order.” One of these, dated January 30, 1898 reads in part: [66]

“Now, my dear friend, you have made an awful mess of it - that is the simple truth. You were run in as Outer Head as the only person in sight who was ready at the time ...
“Our enthusiasm and anxiety to see all go well carried some of us too far - carried me too far to the extent of ... leading me to use my personal influence with people to get them to accept you as O.H. I thought it was for the good of the work, but since then I have learned better. (Italics added)” [41]

Mr. Hargrove’s Sociey headquartered in New York, publishing until 1935 a magazine called The Theosophical Quarterly. This society is relatively dormant now. During its active period it had its ‘chelas’ and “messages from the Masters.” Mr. Hargrove was regarded as ‘Master’s Agent’ by some of the most cultured minds in the Movement. Among them were, according to the anonymous writer of The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950:

“Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Griscom Jr., Mr. Charles Johnston (to whom are owed exquisite translation of the Upanishads and of Shankaracharya’s Crest-Jewel of Wisdom), Dr. Archibald Keightley and his wife (‘Jasper Niemand’), Dr. J.D. Buck, and Prof. H.B. Mitchell.” [42]

Early in 1899 there appeared another offshoot of the Society which Mrs. Tingley had inherited, “The Temple of the People.” It had its ‘chelas’ and ‘Messages from the Masters’ too. Early in the century it established a colony in Halcyon, California, where it still publishes a bi-monthly publication, The Temple Artisan.

“The Theosophical Society of New York” began in 1899 also. It was founded by Dr. J.H. Salisbury, and Mr. Donald Nicholson, managing editor of the New York Tribune, both long-time friends of Mr. Judge. It has long been dormant.

Dr. J.D. Buck, one of the supporters of H.P.B. and [67] Mr. Judge, Vice-President of the T.S. in America after it seceded from the Parent Society, supported Mrs. Tingley until 1898, when he followed Mr. Hargrove out of the Tingley group. He then became attracted by the “Temple of the People.” He later became an ardent devotee of another sect which offered a scientific formula for adeptship. He was said to have died broken-hearted when this, the latest cause embraced by him, was exposed as a fraud.

Alice L. Cleather, a member of H.P. Blavatsky’s ‘Inner Group,’ of students, dropped out of the Tingley group and later formed “The Blavatsky Association” to perpetuate the work of H.P.B. This group is now defunct. Her writings in defense of H.P.B. depict her belief that Mr. Judge was deluded in his later years and dominated by Mrs. Tingley. In one of these books she states:

“When I first met Mrs. Tingley she was known only to a few of Mr. Judge’s intimates, but even they did not know the nature of the influence she exercised over him. He introduced me to her at the Boston Convention of 1895, a year before his death, as a very special and mysterious person. She was then the directing intelligence behind the scenes of all he did, culminating in the fatal division in the T.S. which was then decided on. On our return to New York he requested me to visit Mrs. Tingley and report to him everything she said. I was staying with Miss Katharine Hillard, the learned Theosophical writer, at the time, and she urged me not to go, telling me that Mrs. Tingley was a well-known public medium, and expressed surprise that Mr. Judge should consult a person of that description. But my faith in Mr. Judge, as an occultist who must know what he was doing, was then absolute; so I disregarded her warning and went. Mrs. Tingley then told me, among other things, that Mr. Judge was really the Master K.H.; and Mr. Judge did not discourage this idea when I gave him my report of the interview. It was not until I had worked under Mrs. Tingley for some time that I was forced to come to the conclusions I have briefly stated in this Addendum.” [43] [68]

Mr. G.R.S. Mead, an early member of the Parent T.S., resigned his membership in 1909 and formed “The Quest Society,” devoted to psychical research and comparative religion. This group is now defunct. His reason for leaving was his disagreement with the “Adyar Manifestations.” These were declarations made by Mrs. Besant that the Masters had visited her and ‘impressed’ her that she was to be Olcott’s successor.

The Tingley group, or Theosophical Society (Point Loma) have more or less consistently claimed to be in communication with the Masters. In contrast to this claim there are the historic slanders of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) by this group under Mrs. Tingley’s leadership. This led Josephine Ransom to remark:

“Mrs. Tingley remained the unrelenting opponent of The Theosophical Society (Adyar) and from time to time launched abusive attacks upon its leaders.” [44]

From a membership of some 2500 which this Society inherited from Mr. Judge, only a few hundred remained at her death. Her efforts gave emphasis to applying Theosophy to one’s daily life, to education and to art. Accomplishments of this group in the latter two fields were noteworthy and have been well described by Professor Emmett A. Greenwalt in his recent book The Point Loma Community in California 1897-1942. The penetrating reader is likely to ask, however, if more Theosophical progress could not have been achieved, if the years of effort spent in these two departments had been spent in Theosophical research in the fields covered by the second and third objects of the Society - Comparative Religion, and the Investigation of Man’s Latent Powers. [69]

Doubtless the most notable contribution made by this group under Mrs. Tingley was the school for children which she founded. Despite its many shortcomings it advanced a basic idea which modern education might do well to adopt: That character-building was of greater importance than scholastic attainment. Others had discussed this subject centuries earlier. Among the more recent advocates of the idea were Thomas Arnold (1795-1842) while he was headmaster of Rugby School in England and Annie Besant, when she started her Central Hindu College in 1893.

Mrs. Tingley died in Sweden on July 11, 1929. Dr. Gottfried de Purucker followed her and in some respects pursued an opposite policy to hers. But he continued the claims to occult successorship affirmed by his predecessor. In a letter to his members dated July 29, 1929, he said:

“Thrice recently, before and since the passing of Katherine Tingley, has one of the Great Teachers been with me here in Lomaland ... The two Masters who originally founded the Theosophical Society, and who are the Chiefs of the E.S., are still working within the Society both inner and outer, and for it ...
“I have seen and conversed with Master M, within this last month, and twice has Master K.H. been in my office, once alone, and once with a chela ...”

The trouble with such statements is that they are unverifiable and non-corroboratable. If true, and if their author is not a poseur, those who read them tend to the theory that theirs is the only Society where such relations exist. This automatically casts doubt on all other Theosophical groups making similar claims. The result is a head-on clash with the other groups, including the Parent Theosophical Society (Adyar), which has made several such claims. [70]

On September 1, 1929 Dr. de Purucker wrote another letter to his members, assuring them that:

“... as I am the intermediary or mediator between the Great Lodge of the Masters ... and the general membership of the T.S., and more particularly of the E.S. ... so also am I therefore the Teacher, and will hand on what I may and can to those who prove themselves fit and ready to receive.”

One of his first acts as leader of the Point Loma T.S. was to change the name from Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society back to The Theosophical Society.

A second and vital current which he began was a reversal of his predecessor’s policy of hostility to one of friendship with all other Theosophical Societies and their members. This was a major and constructive move of his administration. Another was his revision of the Society’s constitution towards a more democratic form. This era of accord and friendship with the other societies was sustained during his entire leadership. His members were supremely loyal to him and to the ideals he cherished. During this period of economic depression they only survived the serious handicap of a mountainous debt inherited from Mrs. Tingley’s regime by heroic sacrifice. There were times when the headquarters staff had barely enough to eat, and this caused a great deal of sickness among the staff, whose advanced age was an added burden. When a complete and unbiased history of the modern Theosophical Movement in all its ramifications is written, not slanted to suit any ‘party line,’ this period of great hardship and devotion to an ideal on the part of the humblest worker of this Society, will undoubtedly rank as one of the finest. Personal acquaintance with the actors in it enables me to pay this deserved tribute to them. [71]

One of the few cases of internal disagreements in which G.deP. was involved was that of Captain P.W. Bowen. He joined the Irish Section of this Society shortly after it was created by G.deP. A couple of years later he left it to resuscitate the old Hermetic Lodge - the one which had previously functioned under George Russell (A.E.). This Lodge is now defunct.

G.deP., as he was fondly called by those of us who knew him, left some valuable contributions to Theosophical literature. But his followers are prone to place them on the level of infallible authorities on Theosophy.

The Point Loma headquarters was moved to its new location at Covina, California, in 1942, for financial reasons. Hardly had this been accomplished when G.deP. died suddenly on September 27, 1942. An inter-regnum period of three years followed in which a Cabinet managed the Society’s affairs. During this period an attempt was again made to change the Constitution of this Society to a more democratic form.

In 1945 the Cabinet announced that Colonel A.L. Conger, formerly President of the American Section of this Society, had been elected to the office of Leader. Claims as to his occult standing were often made by his followers. For many years he had been seriously handicapped by Parkinson’s disease, and this was particularly true of the last two years. It must therefore be assumed that he was not in complete control of the situation for some time before his death. I myself talked to him a year before his passing and could not understand anything he tried to say, so great was his speech difficulty. He died on February 22, 1951.

Colonel Conger had made a written appointment [72] of Mr. William Hartley as his successor to the office of ‘leader’ as the Constitution of this group required. On going to keep the appointment after Conger’s death he was met by a Cabinet which opposed him and his appointment as leader of the group. Several of them were inimical to him. Mr. J.A. Long secured the Cabinet’s agreement to rejecting the written appointment because it was a photostat instead of the original. It is of course well known that a photostat is commonly acceptable in Courts of Law and in order to attack a photostat you have to be able to attack the original.

After the rejection of the photostat appointment Mr. Long announced that the ‘Leader’ had taken possession of the office when he, Long, had rejected Hartley’s written appointment. Long thus became the de facto leader of the Society.

Rejecting such actions, a great many members of this now very small Society, left the group, and formed small groups of their own. The supporters of Mr. Hartley, now a fraction of the society left by Col. Conger, remained almost without activity until his death on May 10, 1955, at the age of 76. Mr. Hartley left certain instructions as to the carrying on of the T.S. (Point Loma). An Advisory Board of ten members will divulge those instructions “when the proper time arrives” according to the Chairman of the Board in a communication dated June 27, 1956.

Mr. Long continues to make the claim that his is the only formal organization through which the White Lodge works. This group has never given out its membership figures, but from long acquaintance with its members this writer confidently asserts that it is [73] not over a few hundred throughout the entire world. The Constitution and By-Laws of this group are included as Appendix “B” for the reader’s information.

*  *  *

In sketching the progress of the T.S. in America after Mr. Judge died, we have left the 14 Lodges which remained loyal to the Parent Society temporarily unnoticed. But they were not neglected by the Parent Society. Countess Wachtmeister spent fourteen months in the U.S.A. and formed twelve new Lodges. When the Annual Convention met on June 27, 1897, General Secretary Fullerton announced that six more had been formed, making a total of thirty-two. By year-end the number had risen to fifty and the membership from 281 to 1164. Some few years later it rose to about 7000.

The Parent Society was not without its own internal troubles, despite great growth and extension of its Branches to almost all countries of the globe. Countess Wachtmeister, a confidante and great friend of H.P.B. repudiated Mrs. Besant in later years, and resigned from the Society. The number of dissidents grew at one time into alarming proportions. Particularly was this true from 1909 onwards in connection with the introduction of Krishnamurti and the Liberal Catholic Church.

In 1912 difficulties arose between the German Section and headquarters. Dr. Rudolph Steiner, in conjunction with the German Section Executive, had unconstitutionally expelled members because they belonged to the Order of the Star in the East. Since no member can be penalized for an opinion, Mrs. Besant, [74] who had been elected President after the death of Colonel Olcott in 1907, met the situation by cancelling the Charter of the Section and reviving it in the case of those Lodges willing to work within the Constitution of the Society. Dr. Steiner then formed the Anthroposophical Society, which has followed a course of its own with modest success to the present day.

In 1920 Mr. Wadia, manager of the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, became involved in a sectional difficulty while in America and first used the slogan “Back to Blavatsky.” He claimed the T.S. was not following the lines laid down by H.P.B. This movement gained strength as time went on, though many felt then and still feel that it indicates a tendency towards orthodoxy in Theosophy.

In 1923 Mr. T.R. Martyn, formerly General Secretary of the Australian Section of the T.S. (Adyar) was removed from the Society’s rolls along with eleven other members, as being “a continued focus of disturbance.” He had become hostile to the Liberal Catholic Church and officials of the Society. This resulted in a public newspaper campaign against Mrs. Besant and her fellow-workers as well as the Liberal Catholic Church. Mr. Martyn then formed “The Independent Theosophical Society” but died a year later, at which time the new group lost some of its momentum. Mr. Leonard Wade, Hon. Secretary of this Society, in a communication dated June 23, 1956, states that his Society no longer has any publications but holds weekly public lectures and regular Lodge meetings. The Objects of the group are the same as those of the Parent Society. Though small at present they hope to hold on “until the breaking of the spiritual dawn towards the end of the century.” [75]

The numerical strength of the Parent Society was greatest in 1928. There were then 45,100 members. Since then the figure has receded to 33,908, which was the actual count on September 30, 1956. It has remained at approximately this figure for some years.

The United Lodge of Theosophists (referred to generally as the U.L.T.) was founded in 1909 by Robert Crosbie. He had been a devoted student of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge and followed Katherine Tingley until 1904. At that time he left Point Lorna, feeling that the purposes of the Movement were not being served by Mrs. Tingley. This exit from his Theosophical home involved a decided change in philosophy. As an instance he was one of the speakers at the Fisher Opera House in San Diego on April 1, 1901, at which time he said:

“It should be noted here, that the Leaders of the Theosophical Movement did not become so by virtue of an election by vote - nor were they self-appointed. Mme. Blavatsky was the first leader, by the force of her wisdom and power of leadership, and all the true students of Theosophy accepted her as such. And when she appointed William Q. Judge as her successor, his leadership was accepted for the same reason - and so, too, with Katherine Tingley, who was appointed by William Q. Judge as his successor. And when she dies she will appoint her successor who will be followed by the faithful members. And thus is preserved the line of teachers and the continuity of the Movement.”

This represents quite a different conviction from his later rejection of the theory of ‘successorship.’ But we must admire one who is flexible rather than rigid in his attitudes, for it denotes a disposition to grow with the times and as experiences prove earlier positions erroneous.

On this same occasion he also spoke of [76]

“the immortal three - H.P. Blavatsky, William Q. Judge and Katherine Tingley.” [45]

Mr. Crosbie formulated a platform to outline the purposes of the U.L.T. which is to be found herein as Appendix “D”, and which is known as the U.L.T. “Declaration.” It claims independent devotion to the cause of Theosophy, “without professing attachment to any Theosophical organization.” The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925 states:

“The parent United Lodge disclaimed absolutely any authority over its own associates or over any other group, and itself has never had any formal organization whatever ...” [46]

Those who “join” this group by signing the “Declaration” are called “Associates” and thereby adopt this platform. It claims to have “neither Constitution, By-Laws nor officers” and this makes one trained in business organization wonder just how it functions. On investigation it is learned that there are two organizations:

a. The United Lodge of Theosophists - a group of students banded together for the sole purpose of studying Theosophy;
b. The Theosophy Company, a Corporation which owns and controls all assets, such as buildings, equipment of various kinds, moneys, inventories, etc.

It is the Trustees of the latter who attend to all business matters of the U.L.T. Obviously then, it cannot be said that there is no organization, nor do the facts justify making a fetish of this. The large amount of work incident to operating an organization such as this, is actually undertaken by earnest, devoted Theosophists, many of whom make real sacrifices in time and money in pursuit of their ideal of teaching [77] Theosophy. This is a great credit to them, and as is usual in organizations of this type, the bulk of the work falls on a few. But it must not be overlooked that other Theosophists in other societies, do equally self-sacrificing work.

The Articles of Incorporation of The Theosophy Company appear herein as Appendix “C” for the reader’s information. Reference to the Charter of The Theosophy Company (Incorporated) will show that it is governed by a Board of seven Trustees who serve until their successors are elected. No provision is made for annual meetings. Since it is the corporation which controls the property and funds, it is the Trustees who are the top management of this group. The “Associates” have no official voice in its direction, as authority is centered in the Trustees.

There can be no doubt about the laudable sincerity of Mr. Crosbie in conceiving this group in its present unique form, but one could question his realism in expecting thereby to avoid errors due to human weaknesses. No form of organization can avoid these unless it has at the top one who is the perfect human being and to whom all the lesser officials give absolute obedience. This obedience in itself destroys the very substance which a spiritual body must encourage: Complete-self-reliance. To attain this the democratic privilege of making mistakes and profiting by them is mandatory.

It is in the “Articles of Incorporation” of the Theosophy Company where one finds the Objects usually referred to as the Three Objects of The Theosophical Society, and they are almost identical with those of The Parent Theosophical Society (Adyar).

In creating this group, Mr. Crosbie was evidently [78] motivated by a desire to divorce the organizational apparatus from the teaching activity - that is, the teaching of Theosophy. He was against ‘leaders,’ false gurus, claims of ‘teachers’ to occult status, and all showmanship in Theosophy. He wanted to place the primary emphasis on the teachings of Theosophy and avoid the clash of personalities which had marred the scene so often. Following this purpose all public activity in this group is anonymous. Something can be said in favor of anonymity but it can lead to abuses. For instance the anonymously written Theosophical Movement has harsh things to say about other parts of the Movement.

One might also raise the question, though certainly with no invidious intent: Do the “Associates” ever see the “Articles of Incorporation”? If not, how are they made acquainted with what are commonly known as the Three Objects, and which appear in the statement of purposes and objects of the corporation known as The Theosophy Company? There is no mention of the Objects in the Declaration which they sign. The latter states that the purpose of this group is the dissemination of Theosophy. But the Founders of the original Theosophical Society did not limit its activities to this restricted compass. Whereas all other Theosophical groups, in addition to studying Theosophy, likewise investigate the latent powers in man, and broaden these studies to include ancient and modern religions and philosophies, the United Lodge of Theosophists, on the other hand, restrict their studies to Theosophy alone, and even limit these studies solely to the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge. Thus the activity of this group represents a departure from the broad platform of the Founders. This is, [79] of course, legitimate, as it is quite proper for a group to come together with limited objectives, such as the exclusive study of Theosophy as contained in the works of H.P.B. and W.Q. Judge. It is only improper if condemnation is made of the activities and researches of other groups having a wider compass, such as is embraced in the Objects of the Parent Theosophical Society.

The United Lodge of Theosophists has not been without its dissensions, as a number of well-known dissidents can testify. But this must be expected in any human endeavor.

For those who believe in the “Back to Blavatsky” movement, the U.L.T. might qualify as a natural choice. But to those who believe that Theosophy is an expanding philosophy and that it did not necessarily cease expanding when H.P.B. died, other groups will suit their needs more fully. The official organ of the U.L.T. - Theosophy - is recognized by all as of excellent quality. The editors, however, admit of no authority on Theosophy outside of H.P.B and W.Q. Judge.

*  *  *

The reason for printing the governing Rules of each of the three Societies under discussion, is to enable the reader to determine the character of each: whether democratic or authoritarian. In a provocative book entitled Resolving Social Conflicts by Kurt Lewin, [47] he describes an interesting social experiment undertaken some years ago at the Iowa Child Welfare Research Station, to demonstrate the effects on children of democratic and authoritarian atmospheres. [80] Two separate groups were chosen and both were equated as to age, activities and leadership qualities. Eleven meetings of each were held, the first under atmospheres controlled by embodying democratic techniques, and the second under atmospheres embodying only autocratic ones. These experiments brought out some interesting data, which were scientifically determined:

a. In the democratic group greater cooperation was prevalent between the members; and flowing from this more constructive ideas were generated.
b. The autocratic group displayed much greater submission to their leader while at the same time they were far less submissive to each other.
c. In the autocracy hostile and destructive attitudes were present to a much greater degree than in the democracy.
d. Self-assertion as opposed to group or “we-centered” feelings, was twice as strong in the autocracy as in the democracy.
e. It was found that in the democracy there was spontaneity in the formation of sub-divisional groupings; moreover, they worked together twice as long as in the autocracy, where the groups disintegrated much faster when left to themselves.

Another interesting situation arose from these experiments. It was found that the autocratic situation induced high tensions among the children and that these exploded in what the experimenters called “a scapegoat situation.” The children ganged up against one of their number in two of the meetings and the two children involved never returned. Commenting on this Mr. Lewin says: [81]

“Under autocratic rule any increase in status through leadership was blocked and the attempt to dominate was dictated by the style of living. In other words, every child became a potential enemy of every other one and the power fields of the children weakened each other, instead of strengthening each other by co-operation.” [48]

This is strangely reminiscent of some Theosophical groups which, despite the specific call to membership in H.P.B.’s Original Program of the T.S. to professors of all faiths and beliefs, yet attack those with whom they differ on the teaching level. Is this their scapegoat?

*  *  *

Besides the above-mentioned groups, which largely represent splinters from the original Theosophical Society, there are others which have used basic Theosophical concepts, and teach them to a public which seems more and more to lean in the direction of the Eastern teachings. Among these are:

a. The Gnostic Society, now in Los Angeles, which, though small, still studies the works of H.P.B.
b. The Rosicrucian Fellowship of Oceanside, California, founded by Max Heindel, who was formerly a field lecturer for The Theosophical Society (Adyar). His philosophy is contained in his great work The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception.
c. The Rosicrucian Anthroposophic League, San Francisco, California, an offshoot of the Oceanside Fellowship. This group are students of H.P.B. and a number of local Theosophists are regular attendants at their functions.
d. The Arcane School in New York City founded by the late Alice Bailey, together with its recent [82] offshoot, The School of Esoteric Studies, also in New York City.

*  *  *

This completes the brief review of events in Theosophical history which led up to the first schism in the Society and the events subsequent to that which show the process of disintegration which followed. We will now summarize the facts already related, and perhaps draw some conclusions which will be helpful in solving our problem.


Having briefly traced the historical background of the various schisms in the modern Theosophical Movement, it is now easier to suggest the factors which caused them, thus answering the first and second questions posed in the first part of the text.

A study of the events leading to the first schism forces one to conclude that it resulted from a clash of strong wills and personalities. The main participants, H.S. Olcott, Annie Besant and W.Q. Judge, were themselves leaders who commanded the respect of thousands who voluntarily chose to follow them. No one would argue that they were not strong personalities. Another common denominator was the claim made by each to being a pupil of the Masters of the White Lodge, and to the receipt of psychic communications from them. This claim has been made by all subsequent leaders of Theosophical groups and is one of the chief causes of inter-group difficulties, because such claims are always unverifiable and they tend to [83] collide with other claims made by leaders in other groups.

In the welter of voices which claim to derive from the Masters - all of which cannot be true because when taken together they represent too many pulls in different directions - it is difficult for us to hear and recognize a voice that is genuine, one which is really derived from that level. This sort of confusion is exactly what is wanted by “the enemy,” as H.P.B. calls it. The presentation of the Wisdom-Religion through H.P.B. was from the White Lodge and was intended to dispel the ignorance which causes the woes of humanity. But there is powerful opposition to this constructive effort and it derives from a highly intelligent but destructive “enemy,” which is just as real and purposeful as the White Lodge is at the other end of the pole. To the extent that we humans do violence to brotherhood, to that extent do we actually support this “enemy,” for they must have willing mediators at the human level in order to accomplish their purpose, just as the divine must find suitable instruments among us to accomplish its constructive patterns.

Attention is called to the emphasis which Theosophists place upon the Masters and their supposed omnipotence. Realizing that there is always a balance in nature it is well to call equal attention to the destructive hierarchy - those to whom H.P.B. applied the term “the enemy.” Though she clearly warned us that “the enemy” would do all in its power to disrupt the Movement, to sow seeds of dissension, there does not appear to be any attempt to ascribe to this “enemy” the dismemberment of the Theosophical Society which H.P.B. and Col. Olcott bequeathed to us. It does seem strange that within four years of her death and [84] her specific warning as to what might happen, the very thing she warned against took place. It is reasonable, we affirm, to credit the success of this schism, to “the enemy.” He used the weaknesses present in individuals composing the Society and exploited them successfully.

With so many people making claims to be in psychic communication with the Masters the lay member was bound to suffer from confusion. If the alleged ‘instructions’ were at variance with each other, it is difficult to see how they could originate from the same source. For there is only one White Lodge and it must be well organized. But as soon as the question of the authenticity of a ‘message’ arose, the rank and file took sides. Thus began the era of disruption.

In the beginning it was made perfectly clear that H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott were agents of the Masters - she as a Teacher of the philosophy and he in an administrative capacity. On many occasions they heartily disagreed with each other, as the record shows, but both were equally loyal to the Masters and the Cause they served.

Reams of material have been written in justification of each side of the controversial Judge Case, but little has been accomplished towards a lessening of the tensions which it caused. We shall, perhaps, evaluate the case better if we realize that the causes of human behavior are multiple. There is a tendency to look for one simple cause for everything that happens. With this in mind let us probe into Col. Olcott’s handling of the case and his attitude towards his colleague in the light of certain recent advances which have been made in the field of human relations. In doing this we might find as one of the Colonel’s purely human [85] qualities a certain pomposity which at times jarred the feelings of his associates and made them laugh at what they termed some of his fustian Executive Orders. In defense of the latter, however he says:

“If anyone had tried to keep in sound and working order such an incongruous and unmanageable body of eccentrics as the Theosophical Society ... they perhaps would have felt more like crying than laughing.” [49]

We believe we first encounter an attitude hurtful to good human relations in his reference to Mr. Judge a year after the T.S. was formed. He said:

“Mr. Judge was a loyal friend and willing helper, but he was so very much our junior that we could not regard him as an equal third party.” [50]

Was this somewhat condescending attitude extended into later years? Perhaps so, as we find him referring to Judge’s improvement on meeting him, shortly after H.P.B.’s death. But he also refers to him in the early days as “a very insignificant party, both as to character and position.” [51] Did this attitude greatly affect Col. Olcott’s handling of the Judge Case?

One of the first questions a student of good human relations is likely to ask is: Why could the entire matter not have been settled privately? In view of Mr. Judge’s frequently expressed high regard for Col. Olcott there must have been a better than even chance for such a settlement. Both were fellow attorneys and should have foreseen the results of an inquiry by a Judicial Committee: That the Committee would infringe the doctrinal neutrality of the Society by listening to the charges and the defense. Nowadays an attorney is expected to achieve a good percentage of settlements without resort to formal court action. A recent innovation adopted by many States in the U.S.A. [86] is the “Pre-Trial Conference” between opposing attorneys, refereed by a Judge. This Conference determines in private, what issues are to be tried, what evidence is to be introduced and what witnesses are to testify. The element of surprise is abolished. The effect of the Pre-Trial Conference is to settle a high percentage of cases out of court.

Every chance for such a settlement should have been explored before bringing the matter to public trial. The results of not doing so were ruinous. They are to be found even today in the hostilities which the dispute engenders among its partisans.

We might question another attitude which was present in Olcott’s handling of the case. He speaks of Judge having plotted the secession for a long time. This was unfactual as a letter from Mr. Judge dated March 10, 1895, addressed to “A.K., J.C.K., E.T.H. (and others)” will prove. In this he says:

“I have changed my plans because of information and instructions from . . in regard to an American split; ... Previously I was against talk of split (Italics added), proposing that April Convention should stand for unity ...”

Was Colonel Olcott not too harsh with his junior in years? The above shows that Mr. Judge made up his mind to support secession only six weeks before the Convention.

Again, Colonel Olcott had claimed that he was occasionally in touch with the Masters. Why should he have so peremptorily disallowed this intimacy in the case of one of his ablest co-workers? He stated that Mr. Judge had been writing him for years requesting to be put in touch with the Masters, and uses this as justification for terming Mr. Judge’s claims as false. But possibly this worthy wish of Mr. Judge’s was [87] realized later - say, on the death of H.P.B. Because Judge did not enjoy that relationship before, is not proof that he did not enjoy it subsequently.

Mrs. Besant on the other hand, felt great sympathy for her friend who was now in trouble. It is not true as some assert, that she with malice attacked her friend. She was requested by President Olcott to draw up the charges against Mr. Judge. To relieve the blow she sent him, against Col. Olcott’s wishes, a copy of every pertinent document. This does not show an unfriendly spirit, as some have charged.

Later Mrs. Besant softened the charges by asserting that she believed Mr. Judge did receive, psychically, messages from the Masters, though she objected to his giving them a misleading form by later writing them down in the familiar script of the Masters. That this is what Mr. Judge did, is apparently confirmed by Mr. C.R.S. Mead, an eminently respectable member. Mr. Mead wrote:

“I would believe no word against him (Judge) till he came over to London to meet the very grave charges brought against him and I could question him face to face. This I did in a two hours’ painful interview. His private defence to me was, that his forging of the numerous ‘Mahatmic’ messages on letters written by himself, after H.P.B.’s decease, to devoted and prominent members of the Society, in the familiar red and blue chalk scripts, with the occasional impression of the ‘M’ seal, which contained the flaw in the copy of it which Olcott had had made in Lahore, was permissible, in order to ‘economize power,’ provided that the ‘messages’ had first been psychically received. He also more than hinted that it was entirely in keeping with precedent, and that this was his authority for what he had done.” [52]

The integrity of both Colonel Olcott and Mrs. Besant in this case cannot be questioned. Both had had long records of faithful public service. Both of them felt [88] they were taking the only action possible under the circumstances, to protect the Society. There was no precedent to follow as this was the first case of its kind in the Society’s history.

When reviewing the case we must remember that H.P.B. had written to both Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge at various times, referring to each as her ‘successor.’  Thus each doubtless felt the mantle of occult prestige had been placed on him by competent authority. H.P.B. had also written to Mr. Judge (on January 27, 1887) complaining of his vacillating attitude toward her at times. She said:

“I have your letter, to which I have, as an only answer to write a series of denials. Ever since I left America you have been constantly believing at first what you heard of me and then coming gradually to the conviction it was not true ...
“Now - let your Karma be lenient to you Judge because you have been several times as unjust to me as I have ever been too devoted to you ...”

The student should not overlook the fact that Mr. Judge’s efforts in behalf of the Society were far from easy. When he undertook the task of reviving interest in Theosophy in 1885 he found it difficult to get together even three members, and at times he conducted meetings in which he was the sale participant. He suffered from extremely poor health. At the time of the secession he could barely speak because of tuberculosis. At the time of the ‘trial’ he was also a sick man. His family life was far from happy inasmuch as Mrs. Judge was unsympathetic to his Theosophical endeavors.

Not enough emphasis has been placed by either side to the dispute, we feel, on the possibility that any psychic message might emanate from sources which are low - even to the point of being cunningly evil, [89] though apparently good - to sources which are supremely high. In receiving such messages there are several possibilities of error. First there is the source. One must be skilled as an occultist, to be able to tell whether the message is from a high or a low source. Second, in receiving the message, the operator might err in recording it; third, he might unintentionally modify its meaning through not fully understanding it.

We recall the case of a well-disposed, spiritual gentleman who used a member of his family as a medium in obtaining ‘messages.’ This went on for almost two years and he became skilled. The content of the ‘messages’ was seemingly of high order and he assumed it was from a high source until one day the entity demanded: “Bow down before me, for I am God!” At this point the gentleman became suspicious and his investigations and subsequent events showed that the source was indeed distinctly evil. The later results on his health were almost tragic, for the entity had obtained entrance into his life and was thereby able to hurt the operator after being rejected.

We must be careful when dealing with the occult, for most of us have considerable ignorance in this field. It might even be said that the source of Mr. Judge’s messages was one that was attempting to destroy a noble movement, though the operator was quite unaware of this. It is not possible, though, to assert that the receiver was fraudulent and that his ‘messages’ were bogus, as Col. Olcott, averred. The source can always gain a receiver’s confidence first, by conveying thoughts which appear acceptable and spiritual in content. Mr. Judge was so eager to receive messages that perhaps he did not properly check their source. He may himself have been deceived. No one needs any [90] longer to apologize for believing that such phenomena are possible for their existence has been proved by scientists using methodology acceptable to empirical science. Cases such as Alan Kardec, Leon Dennis and others have been verified by the Society for Psychical Research. It is hardly fair, therefore, to say that the receiver of such ‘messages’ was a fraud or that his messages are ‘bogus.’ To say this implies that Mr. Judge wilfully falsified, whereas the evidence of Mr. Mead and Mrs. Besant confirms that ‘messages’ were received by Mr. Judge. Thus Col. Olcott’s use of the term ‘bogus’ is not justified in this connection. One is reminded of the Mother Superior in the story of Bernadette Soubirous. She was so jealous of her that she gave her only the most menial tasks. She told Bernadette that she had been kneeling in worship for seventy years and had received no appearance from God - “and yet you claim to have received messages” she scornfully added.

So even if we attribute the ‘messages’ received to other than the White Lodge, it does not follow that Mr. Judge was dishonest. He acted in accordance with his best judgment in giving them a material form resembling that of the Masters. This whole episode could have been initiated by some entity opposed to the Theosophical Society. And in view of the baneful effects which it produced, one could hardly be blamed for holding this hypothesis as a likely one. And in holding it, fraud is automatically excluded from the situation. And flowing from this it follows that the venom from the entire issue should be withdrawn.

It will be noted that automatic writing was not excluded as a possibility by the accusor in the case. Before passing judgment in the matter this aspect [91] should be looked into. As proof that this type of ‘message’ is not always reliable, we note that in the respectable and scientific Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, June 1891 (No. LXXXI, Vol. V) there is an account of the 46th General Meeting of the Society held on May 29, 1891. At this meeting Mr. F.W.H. Myers discussed certain “Problems of Personality” and in his talk he quoted from the November 1890 issue, pages 318-19 as follows:

“In a General Meeting (the 41st) of the Society for Psychical Research held on October 31, 1890, the chairman Mr. Pearsall Smith ‘quoted an instance of the automatic writing of a whole volume and its subsequent almost exact reproduction while temporarily lost, in the life of Mme. Guyon. He also spoke of the danger of believing information obtained through automatic writing, exemplified in the case of a lady he knew, who had wrecked her whole fortune by following planchette’s advice as to investments’.”

Does this not demonstrate the folly of being guided by advice given in a ‘message’ unless the identity of the entity who is talking is established? The discussion on Problems of Personality by Mr. Myers is continued:

“Colonel Hartley referred to the automatic writing of Mr. Stainton-Moses, which was executed with an ordinary pen or pencil. He believed that anyone who sat long enough would obtain automatic writing.
“Mr. Edward Maitland gave an instance of automatic writing within his own experience, when a question in a sealed envelope, unknown to the sitters, was appropriately answered by the writing.”

At the same meeting of the Society for Psychical Research, Mr. Myers urged that:

“Very many phenomena, apparently isolated and disparate, might be rationally colligated by regarding them as ‘messages’ sent up from the subliminal to the superficial or empirical self. [92] These messages might be nonsensical, as any dream or delirium, or they might contain new truths, - as in telepathic and clairvoyant cases, - but there was a general resemblance between the modes of manifestation of the false messages and the true. All such messages, falsidical as well as veridical, might be divided into four classes, with reference to their modes of manifestations, - the way in which they rose into the cognizance of the superficial self. There was first a class of impressions, neither definitely sensory nor definitely motor, but capable of being developed into either of those classes. Consequently there was a class of sensory messages - visual and auditory phantasms, and the like. To these, as distinguished from the motor messages, the title of passive automatism might be given. Then came the motor messages - automatic writing and the like - which constituted active automatism. And lastly there were cases like Ansel Bourne’s, where the ‘messages’ - alike sensory and motor - had usurped the place of the superficial consciousness.” [53]

In Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. XXV, 1911, (page 470), there is an interesting account of the case of a certain M. Til who attempted automatic writing and succeeded immediately. One day the script made disquieting accusations against his son, stating that he stole his employer’s cigarettes and had been dismissed. He was urged to go to see his employer, which he did. He thereupon found that his son had not even been accused. At that moment the father’s finger wrote automatically: “I fooled you, Michel; excuse me!”

This incident serves to show how unreliable ‘messages’ may be in the hands of an unskilled person. And in a paper read to the Society at a private meeting on April 26, 1917, by Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, this quality is further emphasized:

“For similar reasons no one should treat his own automatic writing, and still less communications through other mediums as oracles ... There are people who seem too ready to accept mediumistic utterances uncritically at their face value, and [93] to regard them as revelations from spirits with better means of judging than themselves. Assuming ... we are really in touch with the supposed communicator, we have no guarantee that the communication reaches us as he desires to send it. Our evidence goes to show that it is often, if not always, much adulterated by the automatist’s own mind.” [54]

In the same Journal (page 407), Sir Oliver Lodge expresses the belief that the communicating intelligence with difficulty and imperfectly operates the brain of the medium in place of the medium’s own mind.

The well-known author Stewart Edward White speaks of the conviction that comes to the recipient of psychic messages, that “the material is unique, a revelation, that it imposes an obligation to convey it to the world.” He says this is praiseworthy “but in the vast majority of cases it is mistaken.” [55]

He also points out how easy it is to experience interference when receiving ‘messages.’ This ranges:

“from the receiving station’s own inability to distinguish and edit out subconscious contributions, to what may be strong opposition from mischievous, scatter-brained or downright inimical personalities. If the effort really has a serious ultimate purpose, the last may be the case, for constructive effort always calls forth its complementary opposition.” (Italics added). [56]

Mme. Blavatsky herself wrote on this topic on a number of occasions. On April 30, 1889 she wrote from London to Doctor Coues in America, from which we quote:

“I know nothing about the number of messages you may have received from Masters through Judge, whom I would never believe capable of it, or anyone else. (Italics added). Once Mahatma K.H. and my Master say they did not emanate from them, I am bound to believe what they say; and therefore must suppose such messages either tricks made by chelas [94] or pure frauds. I myself have lost several friends and the Society good members, by such fraudulent letters through Eglinton, in which my signature and that of the Masters were magnificently forged and I was held responsible for it. C.C. Massey was deceived thus and left the Society because of it. Therefore I do not see why you should not publish them, if it amuses you. If you say that they are forgeries, I shall not deny it; if you say that they come from Masters, I shall repudiate it.
“... Your wise advice that such Mahatma messages should be confined to one channel, ‘the only genuine and original H.P.B. your friend,’ was anticipated by Mahatma K.H. in so many words.” [57]

The reader will doubtless strongly agree with the policy above stated that “Mahatma messages should be confined to one channel.” No organization could survive if its Chief or President were to continually cut across all lines of authority and give ‘messages’ to lower echelons, unknown to the echelons above, that is to say, messages having to do with the organization and its activities.

In the following passages from the same letter she is talking about the giving out of esoteric instructions and strongly indicates that it is only through her that such information could be given. We quote:

“These instructions whether they emanate from a person besmeared with mud or glorified into a Saint - it does not matter - they are genuine, bona fide occult knowledge of Eastern science which I alone can give.” (Italics are H.P.B.’s).

*  *  *

From the foregoing we believe it is reasonable to assume that:

a. Mr. Judge may have received messages psychically, which he honestly thought were from the Mahatmas. [95]
b. That he may have written them on paper himself, using - on some at least - the well-known script of the Masters.
c. That he probably did not receive messages already written by the Master and phenomenally precipitated by them as had H.P.B. and Col. Olcott and Mr. Sinnett.
d. That it is probable that some, at least, of the messages he received psychically, were not from the Masters, but he was misled into thinking they were from that source.
e. That some of the messages may have emanated from a source inimical to the T.S., though Mr. Judge was unaware of it.
f. That the charge of dishonesty or fraud in this case is improper; Mr. Judge’s record right to the end is too evidential to the contrary.
g. That Mr. Judge, like so many others, made some mistakes in identifying the source of his ‘messages.’ The inimical entities could work in such an insidious way that even an Initiate could be misled.

As a result of this regrettable episode the Theosophical Society was thrown into confusion; Theosophists lost each others’ friendship; bitterness of feeling became manifest instead of the brotherhood which is the chief goal of all; generations of Theosophists have suffered from the bitterness which resulted; disintegration of the severed portion of the Society took place - for it subdivided many times; each subdivision claimed to be in touch with the White Lodge, - a claim which is false on the very face of it because most of them immediately became uncommunicative and non-cooperative with the other groups, thus violating their very [96] reason for existence. This is the unsatisfactory situation which has resulted from the first schism. The pattern is so obviously inimical to true progress in a Movement based on Brotherhood that comment is superfluous. Thus, answering the third question raised in the beginning of the chapter as to the consequences of the schism on the Movement, we would say they have proved to be almost disastrous.

The endless and bitter discussions which continue to this day as to why one side was right and the other wrong, achieves no worthy purpose. In a framework of brotherhood they are self-contradictory and irrational and should be abandoned forthwith. These bitter discussions remind one of a remark made by Sir Leslie Stephen that “it is a plausible, but wholly false, presumption that mankind in general act on rational principles.” [58] The Theosophist should not permit himself to be placed in that category. By continuing these arguments are we not making them the issue rather than the more important one of addressing ourselves to the public with a vital philosophy?

*  *  *

Some years ago when A.E.S. Smythe was Editor of The Canadian Theosophist, official organ of the Canadian Section of the T.S. (Adyar), he published a letter from a correspondent in Britain under the title Weighty Words from Britain. It is inserted here because it cogently expresses a thought which is basic in this writing and which it is felt would have the approval of the Masters, were it possible to ask their view, to-wit, that the first schism in the Theosophical Society was unnecessary and should have been avoided at all costs. We quote: [97]

“... Do you remember the passage in the Mahatma Letters (p.20) where the Master speaks of a Universal Brotherhood as ‘an association of affinities of strongly magnetic yet dissimilar forces and polarities centred around one dominant idea, ... necessary for successful achievement in occult sciences.’ H.P.B. seems to have worked consistently with this in mind, for she brought into the Movement all sorts and conditions of men and women - Christians, Spiritualists, Agnostics, Hindus, etc. as well as convinced Theosophists. The Movement was to derive its success from the union in bonds of brotherhood of these diverse elements.
“If this were the case, then the first split should have been avoided at almost any cost, for a split does not merely divide into parts mechanically separated, but actually sets up a process of decomposition (Italics added) by tending to segregate people into groups of similar types. I picture the ideal T.S. as a perfectly balanced, and a very complex compound built up, like a chemical compound, of atoms of different and dissimilar elements. Once decomposition sets in and these elements become segregated, the mass loses its original character altogether, and there is left a number of homogeneous groups, which while thus isolated, are quite sterile and unlike the body of which they once formed a part. In the T.S., as originally conceived, the various types of members - devotional, critical, practical, philosophical, and so on, would have tended to keep each other in bounds; but once separated, the devotional people became fanatical and credulous; the critical, skeptical and negative; etc., etc. Their qualities, so valuable in combination, became vices when isolated and unchecked.
“The moral of all this seems to be that, for Theosophists, brotherhood is even more important than correct opinions; and such brotherhood must start with Theosophists of other groups than one’s own. This is the most difficult kind of fraternity to cultivate. It is easy enough to feel kindly about people you never see or contact; but to accept the man who disputes your own pet views about Theosophical matters is much harder - and more important. Our greatest and most urgent need, as it seems to me, is to get the critical and the devotional types into combination once more. Can it be done, do you think, or have we drifted too far? I venture to think that you have had something of this sort in mind in your conduct of the Canadian Section.”

The 1895 schism could not be justified on the basis of a difference in the objectives of the two factions, [98] nor in a difference in teachings - though the latter was later and is now put forward as a justification for disunity. The objectives of the disjecta membra of the original T.S. are all basically similar, the platforms uniformly broad in theory, the basic teachings having great similarity as will later be demonstrated. Why then should groups of highly intelligent people have so lost sight of these common denominators, that they should have done injury to a Cause they all loved? Part of the answer doubtless lies in the personal fondness which the American leaders of that time had for Mr. Judge. I have heard some of them who knew him, speak of him with an emotional fondness that was indeed unusual. They probably felt that he was being mishandled by a powerful majority and his friends rallied around him to protect him from what they considered unfair treatment. The term ‘fair play’ has a great appeal in the sports-loving English speaking world and when foul play is suspected loud protest usually follows. There can be no question as to the devotion to the Theosophical Movement of all who participated in the dispute. But one is forced to conclude that there was a great deal of unnecessary emotionalism of a bitter character connected with it. This is typified by Col. Olcott’s statement in terming Mr. Judge’s actions the first case of perfidy in the Movement.

Cases of bitterness are understandably to be expected when a student engages in occult endeavors. They can be recognized by their virulent, acrid, contumelious character. While the storm lasts it is violent, unnatural, irrational. This was the character of the schism and the acrimony which has evolved out of it. It was no ordinary difference of opinion, surrounded by a desire [99] to live and let live, to forgive and love. It was a triumph of ‘the enemy.’ Some of the energies formerly spent in unified efforts to obtain a wider acceptance of the Brotherhood, were now spent in unprofitable, nay, destructive attacks by brother against Theosophical brother.

It may be allowed as a premise in the Theosophical Movement, that whenever occultists launch a constructive assault on bigotry and selfishness, very soon a counter-attack will be made by ‘the enemy’ whose purpose is the destruction of progress. The launching of the Theosophical Society with its three-pronged attack on ignorance was too important a move to pass unnoticed. It is our belief that the division of this noble Society into uncommunicative, unfriendly pieces, beginning with the first schism, was part of the counter-attack just mentioned.

By this means the Theosophists have been defrauded. Usually when a sacrifice is made, some corresponding gain is achieved. When Jesus voluntarily, consciously and knowingly made the supreme sacrifice of Himself which He did, He won an important and vital·gain. A general in battle will yield a position if thereby he can achieve a greater advance in another direction. But the Theosophists yielded their strong position of unity for an inferior position of lesser worth, of disadvantage. Should ever such an occasion arise again in the Movement it is to be hoped that one or both of the contestants will show a greatness of spirit by withdrawing from any prominent position they hold in the Society, thereby lessening friction and setting a noble example of harmony and brotherhood.

Ordinarily the margin of error rides high in human [100] undertakings. The Theosophist would do well to remember that it is impossible to bring to one focal point all knowledge and facts which bear upon a case of this nature. Recognizing this we will realize that though we may not know it we may be making an error. This should soften our judgment, call forth from us more humility and thus undercut our self-righteousness and arrogance.

It is clear that, like other groups, the Theosophists have neglected to apply to the Judge Case the philosophical principle of omnilaterality. Later students have brought forth facts which lend weight to Mr. Judge’s side, thus undercutting the certainty of his guilt. In any event it is difficult for a human being to deal with any situation omnilaterally, let alone one having to do with phenomena. In the light of his past service he was entitled to the benefit of every doubt. And how could a case involving psychic phenomena be other than full of doubt? Likewise it can hardly be denied that Mr. Judge was not given the benefit of the philosophical principle of optimum (the best) in the interpretation of his acts.

Many members, knowing the expressed wishes of the Masters for unity among Theosophists, have asked why they did not prevent the schism. In answer, a beautiful passage comes to mind from Pearl Twenty-Two in a book entitled Ainyahita in Pearls by Otoman-Zar-Adusht-Ha’ Nish:

“Verse 4 - Ainyahita addressed the Lord’s Anointed saying: O, thou Lord’s Anointed, who in company with all the Anointed Ones hast suffered much, tell me, if proper and in place, why must such horrible orgies be played on earth, when no one is benefitted by it and it by no means aids the progress of mankind? Why does not the Lord God prohibit these plays of indecency? [101]
“Verse 5 - The Lord’s Anointed answered, and said: Ainyahita thou reasonest well, but there are instances when even the Lord God Mazda is prohibited to use His powers, lest His own creations would suffer defeat.” [59]

Thus for man’s progress the opportunity to err must exist or he could not evolve. The White Lodge can exert force equivalent only to the difference between the sum of the two opposing forces - constructive and destructive. When an imbalance in favor of the latter occurs, then “plays of indecency” result. How important then, is our function as members of a Brotherhood, to make our every act conform to a constructive pattern.

But how can we have inner coherence, authenticity as Theosophists, if we carry on acrimonious debates about a schism which took place over sixty years ago? How can we expect to be a channel for the expression of the Masters unless we forgive our brothers for their mistakes and ask their forgiveness for our own?

Were it not better that henceforth all of us honor each of the three Theosophical leaders for their splendid contributions to a cause that is dear to all of us, though recognizing that the career of each was not without its share of mistakes? Is it not possible that with all the progress thus far made, we have merely established a beach-head in our march to the mountain-top? Perhaps it will be our good fortune, with help from the next agent, to establish a Base Camp so far up the mountainside that from its vantage point we will have a broader perspective than is now possible. From this new hill of discernment we will not concern ourselves with the errors of the past as our minds will be too occupied with fresh and more expansive horizons.

It seems a certainty that each of the participants [102] would strongly object to our making their names a casus belli, or in any way making a ‘cause’ out of their actions. If they could speak to us, each one of them, with regard for a Cause which they served with distinction and self-sacrifice, would ask their partisans to henceforth and forever seal their lips on this subject, because its continuance is divisive in nature, destructive of brotherhood, and likely to go on forever with no universally satisfactory solution being found. Wherever they may be, if we could call on them, they would all ask us to forgive the errors they made and leave to Divine Justice the adjustment of any wrong resulting.

Let us all help each other understand that there are three sides to every story - your side, my side, and the right side.


[1] Old Diary Leaves by H.S. Olcott, II, p.115, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1929
[2] The Essentials and Non-Essentials of a Theosophical Organization by William Kingsland, p.19
[3] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. IV, pp.346-47
[4] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, p.159, Cunningham Press, Los Angeles, Calif., 1951
[5] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. I, p.462
[6] Ibid, Vol. II, p. 98
[7] Ibid, Vol. III, p.380
[8] Ibid, Vol. IV, p.51
[9] A Short History of the Theosophical Society by Josephine Ransom, p.284, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, 1938
[10] Ibid, pp.286-87
[11] English Theosophist, Nov.1895, I, 22
[12] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, p.191
[13] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.287
[14] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. IV, pp.463-64
[15] Ibid, Vol. IV, pp.463-64
[16] Ibid, Vol. IV, pp.464-65
[17] Ibid, Vol. IV, p.466
[18] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.289
[19] Ibid, p.291
[20] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. V, p.80
[21] Ibid, Vol. V. p.81
[22] Ibid, Vol. V, p.148
[23] Theosophist, September 1894
[24] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. V, p.258-59
[25] Ibid, Vol. V, pp.200-202
[26] The Case Against W.Q. Judge by Annie Besant, 1895, p.6; The Theosophical Publishing Society, London
[27] Ibid, p.17
[28] Ibid, p.18
[29] Ibid, p.19
[30] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. V, p.358
[31] Ibid, Vol. V, p.365
[32] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.311
[33] Ibid, p.312
[34] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. V, p.453
[35] A Short History of the T.S. p.314
[36] Ibid, p.317
[37] Old Diary Leaves, pp.492-93
[38] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, p.265
[39] Ibid, p.267
[40] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. VI, p.97
[41] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1950, pp.271-72
[42] Ibid, p.279
[43] H.P. Blavatsky, Her Life and Work for Humanity by Alice L. Cleather, Published 1922 by Thacker, Spink & Co., Calcutta, India; p.121
[44] A Short History of the Theosophical Society, p.321
[45] In Honor of William Q. Judge, pp.46-47, pamphlet published by The Theosophical Publishing Co., Point Lorna, Calif.
[46] The Theosophical Movement 1875-1925 compiled by the editors of Theosophy (United Lodge of Theosophists), published by E.P. Dutton & Company, 1925, N.Y.
[47] Resolving Social Conflicts by Kurt Lewin, Harper & Brothers, N.Y., 1948
[48] Ibid, p.80
[49] Old Diary Leaves, Vol. IV, p.196
[50] Ibid, Vol. I, p.141
[51] Ibid, Vol. IV, p.346-47
[52] An article entitled Facts about The Secret Doctrine which appeared in The Occult Review of May 1927, Rider & Co., London, England
[53] Society for Psychical Research Journal, Vol.V, 1891-92, p.83
[54] Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. XXIX, 1918, pp.257-9
[55] The Stars are still there by Stewart Edward White, pp.107-08, E.P. Dutton & Co., N.Y.C., 1946
[56] Ibid, p.76
[57] Published from the original by W.Q. Judge in a pamphlet entitled Doctor Elliott Coues
[58] Occultism by Edward Clodd, published by Watts & Co., London, 1922 Ed.
[59] Ainyahita in Pearls by Otoman-Zar-Adusht-Ha’ Nish, published by Mazdaznan Press, Chicago, Ill., 1912, pp.183-84

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