Sep 21, 2016

Independent Lodge and the Movement

Part of the Theosophical Community
Remains Free from Bureaucratic Illusions

Carlos Cardoso Aveline

 Theosophy teaches a global vision of life, free from any attachment, and impersonal


Small events may have great consequences, and the creation of the United Lodge of Theosophists, in 1909, is a clear example of that. One hundred and seven years after 1909, the founding of the Independent Lodge in 2016 potentially expresses the same aspect of the Karmic Law, in a different cycle of History.

The ULT was founded by a few students in Los Angeles on 18 February, 1909.  

By that time, the theosophical movement had lost contact with its guiding lights. There were two rival Theosophical Societies, both walking away from the original teachings of Theosophy, built by H. P. Blavatsky between 1875 and 1891. Besides, their leaders had no common sense.  

The Adyar Society saw scarce value in the teachings of HPB. It was fascinated by the use of lower psychic powers and imaginary talks with Masters. In the two first decades of 20th century, the leaders of the Adyar TS repeatedly declared to the wide public, with ill-disguised pride, that soon the world would see the Return of the Christ.

The new Messiah was Jiddu Krishnamurti, a young disciple of Annie Besant. Thousands of sincere idealists were deceived during decades by spectacular statements coming from one or another “clairvoyant disciple”, even after Krishnamurti himself, personally disappointed, denounced the whole farce and abandoned the Adyar Society.

Those frauds and illusions have not been accepted as such yet, and they continue to form the foundation of the bureaucratic structures of Adyar. As we will see in the present article, the struggle to attain common sense and to preserve it continues to be a historical necessity, not only to the Society which  produced the false Messiah of the 20th century, but also for the theosophists of the other lines of thought, with no exception.

Progress and Mistakes in Adyar

The worship of fake masters and ritualistic ceremonies still make it very hard to search for truth in the Besantian Society.

Since the second half of the 1930s, however, there was real progress in the long march back to common sense. Time does not pass in vain, and Karma ripens through actual facts.

In spite of partial steps taken in the right direction, the ethical dilemma remains unsolved since the abandonment of the authentic Theosophy, a few years after Helena Blavatsky’s death in 1891. 

Ms. Radha Burnier served as the international president of the Adyar TS during some 33 years, starting in 1980 and up to her death in October 2013. Radha was an honest and thoughtful person, an idealist, and her world vision has essential points in common with Theosophy. This must not be forgotten.  

Radha was also the heir and manager of the pseudo-theosophical structures fabricated during the first half of 20th century. She did not want to make Adyar recover from such delusions, or she was not capable of doing that. However, as she saw that her incarnation was nearing its end, she refused to nominate any “successor” as the Outer Head of the fake Esoteric School created by Annie Besant.

Radha also did not accept the idea of indicating a successor for the direction of the “Egyptian Rite”, the elite “occult” body secretly placed above the Adyar Esoteric School.[1] And she did not name anyone to succeed herself as president of the Society.  

Thus Radha interrupted the “line of succession” of the fraud inaugurated by Mrs. Besant in the beginning of 20th century, and closed her incarnation by ushering the Adyar Society into a quicker transitional period whose result can be either a rebirth, or destruction.   

The step taken by Mrs. Burnier in refusing to nominate successors was useful. It was also timid. The Adyar Society looks like a church today.  However noble the intentions of its members, they still have to use their best discernment and choose between two alternatives. The first one is to promote a sense of respect for the facts and to stimulate the return to common sense by adopting once more the original teachings.

The second possibility is to go on with the present process of decay.

The question that remains unanswered is: how long will it take for the first option to be chosen, which is necessary for the Adyar Society to start experiencing a rebirth? The same issue is valid to the United Lodge, for, in its own way, the ULT also got out of tune regarding its original impulse.

The Dilemma of the United Lodge

Since it was founded in 1909, the United Lodge of Theosophists started to change in the movement as a whole the dynamics of departure from the original theosophy.

The ULT emerged under the leadership of Robert Crosbie and John Garrigues, with the aim of restoring the common sense and the authentic teachings. Approximately two decades after the foundation of the ULT, the Societies of Adyar and Point Loma (Pasadena) had their fancies and “innovations” caught in blind alleys. Then both started to gradually see once more the value of the philosophy taught by Helena Blavatsky. In the Point Loma-Pasadena Society, the process was stronger. In Adyar, the march back to common sense was interrupted during the 1990s. 

How did the United Lodge work as long as John Garrigues lived?

The ULT ignored political and organizational divisions of the movement. It looked to the movement as a living process, a dynamics transcending external forms. It believed that the sincere search for truth is the common ground where all theosophists can come together. It proposed the original teachings of the founders as the unassailable basis of unity among theosophists.

However, the ULT is far from perfection. A significant part of its lodges, especially in the Western countries, is rather limited to the mere repetition of the writings of Helena Blavatsky and William Judge, and refuses to look at the challenges faced today by mankind.

Other groups of the ULT cannot see the need to actively unmask pseudo-theosophy. Yet there are sections of the ULT and independent truth-seekers scattered in various countries that are open to a renewal and potentially apt to a new cycle. In India, where the influence of Mr. B. P. Wadia’s life and writings is strongly felt, the ULT seems to remain strong. The insightful international magazine “The Theosophical Movement” is an indication of that. [2]

An Independent Lodge Emerges

In 2016, the Brazilian-Portuguese lodge of the ULT declared its independence. It respectfully disaffiliated itself from the Office of the ULT in Los Angeles and adopted the name of Independent Lodge of Theosophists.

Active in various ways in English language, the small association considers that it is not the material dimension or number of followers that gives legitimacy to a school of thought. The opposite frequently takes place: only those who do not wish to be the biggest can concentrate on substance and quality.

The successful experience of the ULT in the first decades of its existence constitutes a guiding light for the Independent Lodge. One of the key factors in such a success is in the fact that it was wise enough to remain small, acting with creativity and independence. Theosophy teaches a global vision of life, free from any attachment, and impersonal.

In the first decades after 1909, the ULT avoided both artificial growth and attachment to routine. Its priority was the criterion of affinity. In general terms, it avoided the mistake of subconsciously considering the search for universal truth less important than the search for “believers”, followers and material possessions. In spite of that, it gradually lost vitality after the death of John Garrigues in 1944.

The Independent Lodge is a complex proposal, such as the United Lodge was for most of its trajectory. A part of the Lodge flows above the denser aspects of the physical plane movement.  

It is not an institution. It is not a legal entity.  From a formal point of view, it has no leaders.

According to Robert Crosbie, a theosophical lodge must be a set of ethical and universal principles. It is also a community of people who learn and teach. It does not sell its knowledge, for it considers that the eternal wisdom is like the air one breathes. It belongs to all beings: how could one try to sell it?

The associates of the Independent Lodge do not have to pay fees of any kind. The donations which sustain the works are freely given. It sells books, but works in papers are but the material tools of the teaching. The courses and studies it offers are free. [3]

In various aspects the method of the Independent Lodge is similar to that of the ULT, and some students may see it as mysterious and hard to understand.  

It does not work as a conventional institution.  It must be understood in a gradual way. The rule of the Universal Brotherhood is to live and work in internal communion, without unnecessary noise, and preserving external diversity.

In order to make it easier to understand at least in part the Independent Lodge, it is useful to remember the authentic schools of philosophy in the past - in the West and the East alike - did not charge for their teachings, and did not demand money at all. They were not legal entities, and their teachers and students led simple, austere lives.

Only the Sophists, denounced by Plato in his Dialogues, got payment from their students and adapted their commercialized “verities” according to the interest of each client and circumstance.

Time is cyclic.

The philosophical schools of the future will do the same as those of antiquity.  

From this point of view, the modern theosophical movement can be seen as a timeless and multidimensional school of wisdom.

The Independent Lodge thinks that the modern theosophical effort is not attached to a dead letter view of the original teachings, nor to organizational structures that easily get old and dysfunctional.  The movement is classic, Platonic and Neoplatonic. It should try to express the original teachings in a loyal, ethical and creative way, with no distortions. It is Eastern. It is an Eclectic School like the one in ancient Alexandria. It is a school of Jnana Yoga, a science older than our mankind. It also belongs to the future; and, being less than 200 years old, it is young.

NOTES:

[1] See the article “The Fraud in Adyar Esoteric School”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline. The text is available in our associated websites.  

[2] The Theosophical Society of Pasadena, which is present in some ten countries, has more than one aspect (both positive and negative) in common with the United Lodge. The “Point Loma” Theosophical Societies are active in a few countries. These seem to have a top-down political structure and apparently constitute the school of thought with less points in common regarding the vision of movement largely shared by the ULT and the Independent Lodge.

[3] See the article “O Dinheiro Segundo a Teosofia” (“Money According to Theosophy”), by Carlos Cardoso Aveline, which is available in our associated websites. 

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