[Electronic correspondence related to the work of the Theosophical Society in Puerto Rico]
26 January 2011
Mrs. Radha Burnier
The Theosophical Society
Adyar, Chennai 600 020 INDIA
Dear Mrs. Burnier:
Several senior members of the Theosophical Society in Puerto Rico are asking these questions: are the books penned by Alice A. Bailey allowed to be studied in our Lodges? If not, why not?
We understand that the Bailey books may not be suited for introductory studies and we fully agree to restrict such introductory studies to the classical Theosophical books (e.g., HPB/Besant). However, once introduced to the basics of the occult constitution of the human being and the study in consciousness, the facts of life after death, the laws of evolution (e.g., reincarnation and karma), the power of thought and the practice of occult meditation, some students may decide to exercise the Objects of the Society as summarized by the statement found in your home page: "The Society imposes no belief on its members, who are united by a common search for Truth and desire to learn the meaning and purpose of existence through study, reflection, self-responsibility and loving service."
Of course, we are aware that the Society provides study tracks for advanced studies (such as the Esoteric Section) and this option is always presented to all members. However, we believe in the fundamental freedom of the human soul to choose its way and we see no reason to impose the belief that the Bailey books do not merit consideration as a subject of study --including their critical assessment-- in our Lodges and study groups.
We have asked these questions to Mrs. Magaly Polanco, our Presidential Representative. As far as she knows, there is not an official policy statement in writing about this matter that may guide our deliberations. Given the language barrier (Spanish is our vernacular in Puerto Rico), I am directly addressing (in English) these questions to you for an authoritative answer.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.
Dr. José Becerra, M.D.
Member, Theosophical Society in Puerto Rico
cc: Mrs. Magaly Polanco, Presidential Representative for Puerto Rico
28 January 2011
TO: Dr Jose Becerra
Dear Dr Becerra,
In your letter of 26 January 2011 you have asked the question whether books by Alice Bailey can be studied in your Lodges. I would like to point out that we do not take up for study in TS Lodges, books by anyone who has not been a worker of the Theosophical Society and who has written about what is of value.
Alice Bailey was a member of the TS, but left in order to pursue her own line. She created her own organization Lucis Trust, because she felt that her teachings were apart from those of the Theosophical Society. If people wish to study her books from the Theosophical point of view we do not object, but it must be done in her place among her group of students. It cannot be considered as part of our studies in the Theosophical Society.
If Alice Bailey’s books are studied in the Theosophical Society then there are others which also can be studied, but they are not. The Theosophical Society exists for its own purposes and not to inculcate Alice Bailey’s ideas. If some people wish to study her writings they are free to do so, either by joining her organization the Lusis Trust, or individually, but not in the Theosophical Society, which would set a precedent. .
29 January 2011
Dear Mrs. Radha Burnier:
I thank you very much for your kind and prompt attention to my letter of 26 January 2011 requesting an official written statement about the scope of the freedom of thought in our Society. I also sent it to you as an original signed letter by regular international mail. [ 1 | 2 ]
As stated in the membership page of the TS: "The Theosophical Society is composed of students belonging to any religion in the world or to none, who are united by their approval of the Society's Objects. Their bond of union is not the profession of a common belief, but a common search and aspiration for Truth in an environment of freedom of thought. The Society welcomes as members those who are in sympathy with its Objects and who are willing to abide by its Rules."
Nowhere in the whole website is it stated that "we do not take up for study in TS Lodges, books by anyone who has not been a worker of the Theosophical Society." If so, I would respectfully suggest that such statement be included in the invitation to new members. However, I would imagine a reluctance to do so because explicitly stating such policy would amount to creating a new Bible and to repeat the history of other religions, thus contradicting "a common search and aspiration for Truth in an environment of freedom of thought." If, in fact, people who wish to study any aspect of the Truth from the Theosophical point of view must do so elsewhere, except if such Truth has been sanctioned by the Theosophical Society, then it would be impossible to pursue the three Objects of the Society without coercion.
As to the Rules of the TS, they are not explicitly stated either. So, I would respectfully suggest that they be included in the Society's website too. In the absence of more information, I can only rely on a probably unauthorized version of the original Rules of the Esoteric Section as published elsewhere in the world wide web (see Addendum).
In my letter, I requested an "official policy statement in writing about this matter that may guide our deliberations." I assume that your reply in the form of a "President's Office" letter provides such official policy statement and that no other documentation exists to suggest that H.P.B. would have supported such policy. It is now up to us to deliberate and to reach a personal decision on how to reconcile a policy clearly inconsistent with the Objects of the Society.
When Galileo faced a similar ultimatum by the Church he was forced to recant his factual convictions in order to save his life. Five-hundred years later, the Church apologized. In the meantime, science made great strides in the service of humanity while the Church stagnated in its dogmas and political maneuverings. I am a scientist by training and a free-thinker by vocation who cannot be coerced to recant his factual convictions about the continuity of the spiritual revelation since H.P.B. penned the Secret Doctrine. I do not impose my personal convictions on others nor do I allow others to impose theirs on me.
I do respect your personal opinion about the Bailey books and it is not my intention to change your mind about them. I do respectfully suggest, however, the need to align the current TS policy that you have articulated with a tolerance for dissidence, in the spirit of our first Object: "To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour." One's "creed" should not separate anyone from the TS.
As a scientist and as a free thinker, I do intend to stay as a member of the TS, actively engaged in the study of comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science, and investigating unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in the human being, wherever these studies and investigations lead me, even if found outside the accepted creeds of the current leadership of the TS.
Thank you again for your kind and prompt attention to this sensitive matter.
Member, Theosophical Society in Puerto Rico
cc: Mrs. Magaly Polanco, Presidential Representative for Puerto Rico
RULES [source: http://www.interfaith.org/forum/theosophical-societys-esoteric-section-rules-8155.html ]
In the following the masculine includes the feminine; the singular, the plural; and vice versa.
1. Groundless condemnation on hearsay of others, theosophists or not, must be refrained from, and charity to each other's faults widely practiced within, as well as without, the theosophical area.
2. Repetition of statements or gossip derogatory of others must be avoided. But condemnation of crime, of social evils and systems of every description, in the abstract, is a duty of every member. Above all, the duty of every member is to fight against cant, hypocrisy, and injustice in every shape.
3. A derogatory or slanderous statement made against a fellow theosophist in the presence of a member, shall not be permitted by him to pass without protest, unless he knows it is true, in which case he should remain silent.
4. No member shall boast of being in this Section.
5. No member shall pry into the standing in this Section of a Brother, nor shall he uninvited seek to know if another theosophist is a member of it. Members may use the password of the Section for the purpose of recognition, but never from curiosity, nor a desire to discover if the person addressed is a member of the Section.
6. Any member may, if he chooses, remain unknown as such, and that desire, if suspected by others, must not be talked about nor referred to.
7. If a member, whether falsely or truly, asserts that he has received letters or communications from Masters, unless directed to divulge the same, he will ipso facto cease to derive any benefit from the teachings, whether the fact be known or unknown to himself or to others. A repetition of such offense gives the Head of the Section the right to expel the offender in discretion. In every case where a member shall receive a letter or communication purporting to come from Master or Masters, and which directs the divulgation of its contents or a part thereof, the same before being divulged shall be communicated to H.P.B. directly, if the recipient is in Europe, and to William Q. Judge, if in America, for transmission to said H.P.B. For deception is easy, and, without great experience, members are not able to decide whether such a communication is genuine or not.
8. No member shall, under any circumstances, bring any charge of whatever nature against another member, whether to H.P.B., William Q. Judge, or any other member of the Section. This rule does not imply that the Masters condone, excuse, or tolerate any fault or crime. But no member is the judge of the acts of another member or theosophist, in this Section less than in any other. For, while in every Exoteric Branch, its President and Council decide upon any charges against their Fellows, in this Section each member is to be judged by his Karma and the Masters alone.
9. No member shall pretend to the possession of psychic powers that he has not, nor boast of those which he may have developed. Envy, jealousy, and vanity are insidious and powerful foes to progress, and it is known from long experience that, among beginners especially, the boasting of, or calling attention to, their psychic powers almost invariably causes the development of these faults and increases them when present. Hence
10 No member shall tell to another, especially to a fellow-member, how much he has progressed or what recognition he has received, nor shall he by hints cause such to be known. Where students of similar tastes and dispositions desire to form a group or groups for mutual help in training, application must be made to H.P.B. for permission and advice as to the same. But hasty judgment as to the advisability of forming such groups must be avoided. For it may so happen, that two or more members united by a real friendship, may yet be so contrary in their magnetic idiosyncrasies and conditions that their friendship may be changed into hatred on the occult plane, if they form groups without esoteric knowledge.
11. No member shall ask for any orders or instructions as to the conduct of his business affairs or the management of his social relations, or the ordinary affairs of life, nor as to the cure of diseases, whether in himself or in any other person. Questions relative to the instructions given will alone be accepted and attended to.
12. It is required of a member that when a question arises it shall be deeply thought over from all its aspects, to the end that he may find the answer himself; and in no case shall questions be asked out of curiosity, nor until the person has exhausted every ordinary means of solving the doubt or of acquiring himself the information sought. Otherwise his intuition will never be developed. He will not learn self-reliance; and two of the main objects of the Section will be defeated. For an adept becomes such by his own exertions, by the self-developed merit of his own power; and no one but himself can effect this work. "An adept becomes, he is not made." The office of Guru or Guide is to adjust the disciple in his progress, and not to drag or push him forward.
Alice A. Bailey, H.P. Blavatsky and Helena Roerich
Cleavages between the followers of three traditions:
The Theosophical Society, The Arcane School, The Agni Yoga Society
by Phillip Lindsay © 2004
Frequently Asked Questions:
HR and AAB
by John Algeo
On the Alleged Tibetan Source of Alice Bailey's Writings (pdf)
by David Reigle
THE GOLDEN STAIRS
A clean life, an open mind,
A pure heart, an eager intellect,
An unveiled spiritual perception,
A brotherliness for all,
A readiness to give and receive advice and instruction,
A loyal sense of duty to the Teacher,
A willing obedience to the behests of TRUTH,
Once we have placed our confidence in,
And believe that Teacher to be in possession of it;
A courageous endurance of personal injustice,
A brave declaration of principles,
A valiant defence of those who are unjustly attacked,
And a constant eye to the ideal of human progression
And perfection which the secret science depicts-
These are the golden stairs
Up the steps of which the learner may climb
To the Temple of Divine Wisdom