Nov 17, 2016

Pledges in Theosophy, Real and Phony

Esoteric Frauds Use Vows to Obtain
Political Control Over Sincere People

Carlos Cardoso Aveline

The decision to search for truth has many a challenging result and consequence, since all that glitters is not gold. 

There is for instance a complex relationship between truthfulness and brotherhood, along the path to wisdom. 

A “brotherly hypocrisy” leads no one to spiritual liberation. Friendship and brotherhood cannot be put above truthfulness.   An “ugly” truth is better than a “beautiful” lie. However, choosing truth in every occasion and under whatever form implies a degree of sacrifice.  We shall see that in the next few paragraphs.

The Vow of an Aspirant

In the esoteric school founded by H.P. Blavatsky in 1888, every new member made a vow with seven clauses, the seventh and unnumbered clause being an appeal to one’s own higher self, or immortal soul.

The vow said:

1. I pledge myself to endeavour to make Theosophy a living factor in my life.

2. I pledge myself to support, before the world, the Theosophical movement, its leaders and its members.

3. I pledge myself never to listen without protest to any evil thing spoken of a Brother Theosophist and to abstain from condemning others.

4. I pledge myself to maintain a constant struggle against my lower nature, and to be charitable to the weaknesses of others.

5. I pledge myself to do all in my power, by study or otherwise, to fit myself to help and teach others.

6. I pledge myself to give what support I can to the movement in time, money, and work.

“So Help Me, My Higher Self.” [1]

Loyalty is of great importance in theosophy, and a few questions should be examined, regarding points 2 and 3 above.   

* How can one who made such a pledge denounce the fabrication of phony Masters, or criticize the invention of false portraits of Masters and the creation of imaginary dialogues with Mahatmas, all of which was done by well-known “theosophists” and leaders of the esoteric movement?  

* Could that be an unbrotherly attitude towards Mrs. Annie Besant and her associates, among them the Catholic priest Geoffrey Hodson?

* Is not the protection of lies and frauds the inevitable result of such a brotherly vow, as long as the wrongdoing is committed by our own best leaders and friends?

* Is it not correct to piously cheat, lie and act in a dishonest way, as long as we tell ourselves that we are doing that for a noble cause and to serve the theosophical Mahatmas?

Higher Self the Final Authority

The matter of fact is that fraud, pious or not, leads one away from theosophy and from any wise teachers.

And - true vows can never lead to blind obedience.  However, one must admit that esoteric frauds use Vows to obtain political control over sincere people.

Two main things must therefore be acknowledged with regard to the pledge reproduced above. 

1) The first one is that the pledge in the esoteric school created by H.P. Blavatsky is something whose expression is not for the others - “authorities” or otherwise - to judge. It is a commitment made by each one before his or her conscience, above all. No bishop, priest, formal leader, or public opinion is entitled to say whether anyone broke or not his commitment to his own higher self. The authority is the wordless voice of one’s conscience.

2) The second point is that no pledge is ever valid, if interpreted as an obligation to protect fraud, lies, or treason.  

A mafia (or a priestly organization) can induce people to promote and to protect lies in the name of loyalty. This does not apply to a sacred pledge involving one’s own higher self.

No pledged member of a theosophical movement or association has the obligation to protect what he considers falsehood or wrongdoing. 

In 2002, I presented to Mrs. Radha Burnier - the leader of the Adyar Esoteric School - documented evidence that Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater had created a fraudulent version of discipleship. Mrs. Burnier answered in writing and said that everyone is entitled to think according to his conscience. She then washed her hands. I was a Pledged or Senior member of the Adyar Esoteric School by then. Various Adyar friends and colleagues invited me to keep silent as to the evidence I had gathered.  However, that was not acceptable: I did not believe in blind belief. 

Another example of the same principle of individual responsibility as to pledges made can be useful, and it does not involve the Adyar Theosophical Society.  

Robert Crosbie (1849-1919)  is often accused of having broken his pledge of allegiance to Katherine Tingley’s Esoteric School (in the Point Loma Society) when he walked away from it in 1904 and formally founded the United Lodge of Theosophists, ULT, in February 1909.  

In this case, too, as in several others, people should understand that the authentic pledge is made to no outer authority. It is a commitment of oneself to his own higher self. Crosbie would have broken his Vow to his higher self only if he had remained in an Esoteric School which had lost his confidence. [2]

The Adyar Esoteric School pledge of obedience to the Outer Head (made and signed in paper by its “Pledged” or Senior members) has therefore no real value, and, if taken seriously, is phony.

Mrs. Radha Burnier, the Outer Head of Adyar School between 1978 and her death in 2013, implicitly showed she understood that.

Following Krishnamurti’s ideas into a large extent, she had no firm faith in the esoteric fraud fabricated by Annie Besant. Since Mrs. Burnier did not appoint anyone to succeed her in the Esoteric School, the present and future of this school is at least uncertain and basically irrelevant.   

One must admit that the problems of the Adyar Esoteric School are not recent. Starting in 1895, it was totally distorted by Annie Besant and made to serve the parody of the Return of the Christ (1911-1930). Even now, the Adyar School members are seldom invited to study any text of real theosophy.  It is due to the good law of karma that the Besantian version of HPB’s esoteric school has been seriously debilitated since the end of 20th century. Many of its members do not take its pledges seriously: the international elections of 2007-2008 clearly showed that. [3] The death of Radha Burnier in 2013 opened a new page in the process of Adyar’s decadence.  

The Adyar School is not the only example of an unrealistic approach to the challenge of aspiration for lay discipleship.

There are several of them, all of which are based on blind belief. They must be re-examined in the present century from the point of view of the law of self-renewal that guides all life.  

The true, non-bureaucratic approach to lay discipleship is available through classic theosophy and its timeless ethics; but it needs researching minds, and no lazy brain will be able to attain to it in the next few centuries. 


[1] From the text “The Meaning of a Pledge”, by “One Who Is Pledged”, which is available at our associated websites.

[2] See in our associated websites the article “Whether Crosbie Broke His Vows”.

[3] Readers are invited to examine the text “The 2007-2008 Events in Adyar”, by Pedro R. M. de Oliveira, in our associated websites.


In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.