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Charles Webster Leadbeater 1854-1934 
A Biographical Study
by Gregory John Tillett
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Chapter 8: Annie Besant and Occult Work

          Reflecting on the forces of destiny which brought them together, Leadbeater recalled that he had first seen Mrs Besant about 1876 or 1877 when he attended a lecture by her at the Hall of Science in City Road, London.  It is interesting to speculate on the direction both of them would have taken had their friendship originated at this date and this less esoteric setting. [1]

          It is impossible to summarize adequately even that portion of the life of Annie Besant prior to her conversion to Theosophy in less than a whole book, and her biographers - friendly, hostile or impartial - have taken whole books to do just that. [2]   She was born in 1847, the year Leadbeater claimed for his birth, no doubt to emphasize his links with her, and as a devout young Anglican lady of twenty married the Reverend Frank Besant (1840-1917), Vicar of Sibsey, Lincolnshire, and brother of the author, Walter Besant.  At twenty-seven, she left her husband and her home, leaving a son behind and taking her daughter with her, for a career in the then-fashionable Freethought movement. [3]

          She became closely associated with Charles Bradlaugh (1834-1891), wrote pamphlets attacking the Church and the Establishment, propagated birth-control (then


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equated with atheism and immorality), founded the Freethought Publishing Company, and joined the Fabian Society. [4]  In 1889 she was given a copy of HPB's The Secret Doctrine by W.T.Stead to review for his Pall Mall Gazette. [5]  Mrs Besant had read Sinnett's Occult World, and, like Leadbeater, had been experimenting with spiritualism:  "At forty-two, veteran of Secularist, Socialist and Malthusian battles, Annie Besant admitted she was ready for Theosophy." [6]  She was converted by HPB's book, The Secret Doctrine, and joined the TS, to the horror of her friend and colleague in social reform, George Bernard Shaw, who thought she'd gone mad, and threw herself into Theosophical work with the enthusiasm which had marked all the other phases of her varied career.

          Mrs Besant was accepted as a pupil by HPB, and quickly became the leading ---[?] in the TS in London.  In July, 1890, she established the London headquarters of the Society at her own residence at 19, Avenue Road, London, which she deeded to the Society.  It became a home for both HPB and other leading Theosophists.  From that time onwards, Mrs Besant dealt with HPB's correspondence, and helped to edit Lucifer, the magazine HPB had established in London to rival The Theosophist at Adyar.

          The household at Avenue Road became something of


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a Theosophical commune.  It consisted of HPB, Mrs Besant, Archibald and Bertram Keightly, the Countess Wachmeister, George Mead (HPB's secretary), Claude Wright, Walter Gorn Old (the well - known astrologer, "Sepharial"), Emily Kingsbury, Isabel Cooper-Oakley and James Pryse. [7]  Their routine was a fixed, almost monastic one:  breakfast at 8.00 a.m., then work until lunch at 1.00 p.m., further work until dinner at 7.00 p.m., and then a meeting in HPB's room.

          Foreseeing her approaching death, HPB intensified the training of her own pupils.   Her health was failing.  She suffered from Bright's disease, rheumatism, and a bad heart, all aggravated by her peculiar life-style, eccentric habits and heavy smoking.   In the spring of 1891 she caught influenza, and on May 8th she died.  Mrs Besant was on her way to the USA, and Olcott was in Australia.  HPB was cremated at Woking Cemetery, the funeral service being conducted by George Mead. [8]  Leadbeater, accompanied by Jinarajadasa, attended.  HPB's ashes were divided between America, Europe and India, being carried by Olcott from London, across the American continent, thence to Japan and to Ceylon, and then to India where, despite the objections of orthodox Hindus who believed that their presence would defile the Adyar estate, they were deposited in an urn.

          Mrs Besant quickly assumed the mantle of Elijah,


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and succeeded HPB as the effective leader of the TS.  Olcott, although nominally head as President, had never been able to compete with the charisma of HPB and could not now compete with her successor.  Mrs Besant had been the leading figure in the Esoteric Section of the TS which HPB had established and to which Olcott had expressed his opposition.  The ES (as it was known) had been founded on October 9th, 1888, as a group of the personal pupils of HPB.  Sinnett had already established an "Inner Group" of the London Lodge (of which Leadbeater was a leading member, and of which Mrs Besant had been a member for a time) and HPB had previously set up a small group of her own followers.  Olcott allowed the establishment of the ES under protest, and its constitution and sole direction was vested in HPB.

          Sinnett declined to participate, although some of his own students did join the ES.  Leadbeater was never associated with HPB's ES, and continued working with Sinnett.  Mrs Besant was appointed Chief Secretary of the Inner Group, and Recorder of the Teachings on April 1, 1891, and W.Q. Judge was appointed to establish the ES in the United States. [9]  Although officially the ES was just HPB's private group of pupils, and had no formal place within the TS, it quickly became the power centre of the Theosophical movement.  After HPB's death, Mrs Besant and W.Q. Judge were jointly appointed by the ES Council to rule over it.


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          On the physical plane life may not have been easy for Leadbeater, but since his meeting with Mrs Besant, he was, Theosophically speaking, on the ascendant.  His name was found alongside that of Mrs Besant, George Mead and A.P. Sinnett answering questions in the British TS journal, The Vahan [10], and he was becoming increasing popular as a lecturer in London and the surrounding area.   In 1894 he wrote the first volume in the vast range of occult literature that was to flow from his prolific pen in the course of the next forty years.

          At that time, the London Lodge under Sinnett held no public meetings, and, apart from regular meetings for members, there were only three or four occasions during the year on which Sinnett issued invitations to a select few people whom he believed had the potential for developing an interest in Theosophy.  On one such occasion, Leadbeater was invited to lecture, and chose the topic, "The Astral Plane." [11]  He set about preparing his notes for the lecture on the backs of old envelopes, a habit originating in his years of poverty and one which continued throughout his life.  He delivered the lecture on November 21st, 1894, and then began to transcribe it for publication in The Transactions of the London Lodge.  This transcription was also written on the insides of old envelopes, and Jinarajadasa wrote the


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manuscript up from these scraps of paper, a process which took him four weeks.  He and Leadbeater divided their time between this work and their ordinary daily activities.  Eventually the manuscript went to the printers, and was returned with a copy of the printer's proofs.  In the ordinary course of events, the original manuscript, now dirty and worn from useage in the printer's office, would have been thrown away.

          But like so many other events in Leadbeater's life, the ordinary course of events was interrupted.

          " ...now happened an unusual and unexpected incident which distinctly flustered [him].  One morning he informed me that the Master K.H. had asked him for the manuscript as He desired to deposit it in the Museum of Records of the Great White Brotherhood.  The Master explained that The Astral Plane was an unusual production and a landmark for the intellectual history of mankind." [12]

          The Master had gone on to explain that never before had such a scientific study been made of the astral plane "in a manner similar to that in which a botanist in the Amazon jungle would out to work in order to classify its trees, plants and shrubs, and so write a botanical history of the


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jungle."   Therefore the Master wanted it placed in the secret occult Museum, of which he was Keeper of the Records, along with a range of objects of historical interest to the Masters.  These included old texts relating to the origins of religions, and models of the earth at various stages of its evolution. [13]

          Leadbeater set about carrying out the Master's instructions, although unhappy that the manuscript was soiled and torn.

          "The question then arose how the manuscript was to be transported to Tibet.   This, however, did not bother him because [Leadbeater] had certain occult powers which he did not reveal to others, though I have observed them on certain occasions." [14]

          The manuscript was tied with a ribbon, and placed in a small wooden box which had been Leadbeater's mother's workbox.  A pile of books was placed on top of the box, since the key had long been lost, and Jinarajadasa hoped to have some sort of proof to offer of a real "phenomenon".  The following morning the box was opened:  not unexpectedly, the manuscript was no longer there.  Jinarajadasa concluded:

          "My chagrin at losing the opportunity to prove a


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phenomenon was not consoled by being told [by Leadbeater] that I myself had taken astrally the manuscript to the Master." [15]

          The small difficulty of how one would remove a physical  object in the astral body - since Leadbeater says in The Astral Plane that astral bodies cannot affect physical objects - is not explained.   Presumably it was part of "certain occult powers", or due to the intervention of the Master. [16]  While the manuscript reposed safely in the Museum of the Records, the printed version was published by Mrs Besant as Manual Number 5 in her series of Theosophical Manuals. [17]

          While he was undertaking the research for The Astral Plane in 1894, Leadbeater was also developing new areas of interest in employing his clairvoyant powers, and beginning his characteristic emphasis on the scientific nature of these investigations:

          " ...sight on [the astral] plane is a faculty very different from and much more extended that physical sight.  An object is seen, as it were, from all sides at once, the inside of a solid being as plainly open to the view as the outside;  it is therefore obvious that an inexperienced


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visitor to this new world may well find considerable difficulty in understanding what he really does see, and still more in translating his vision into the very inadequate language of ordinary speech. [18]

          "But he has to learn not only to see correctly but to translate his memory of what he has seen accurately from one plane to the other;  and to assist him in this he is trained to carry his consciousness without break from the physical plane to the astral or devachanic plane and back again, for until that can be done there is always a possibility that his recollections may be partially lost or distorted during the blank interval which separates his periods of consciousness on the various planes." [19]

          In May, 1894, Leadbeater began his investigations in the past lives of Theosophists;   reincarnation had been one of the doctrines of the TS almost from its beginnings. [20]

          "This is the scheme of evolution appointed for man at the present stage - that he shall develop by descending into grosser matter, and then ascend to


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carry back into himself the result of the experiences so obtained.  His real life, therefore, covers millions of years, and what we are in the habit of calling a life is only a day in this greater existence.  Indeed, in reality it is only a small part of one day;  for a life of seventy years in the physical world is often succeeded by a period of twenty times that length spent in the higher spheres.  Every one of us has a long line of these physical lives behind him, and the ordinary man has a fairly long line still in front of him.  Each of such lives is a day at school." [21]

          Past lives, as well as the occult history of the earth and all that constituted Man's past, could be "looked up" by consulting the Akashic Records:

          " ...whatever happens within our system happens absolutely within[?] the consciousness of the Logos, and so we at once see that the true record must be His memory." [22]

          The Akashic Records are consulted, to put it simplistically, by psychically "tuning in" to the mind of the Logos, the Soul of the world, within which everything that has happened is recorded or "remembered". [23]


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          Leadbeater's first investigations of the Akashic Records were stimulated by a discussion in the London Lodge on the subject of Root Races, and sub-races (later to become almost an obsession of his).  John Varley, an eminent Theosophist and a former pupil of HPB, was requested to make a study of modern ethnology and to compare it with the history of the races from occult sources and published in The Secret Doctrine. [24]  To assist Varley in this work, Leadbeater offered to discuss the subject with one of the Masters while in the astral body that night, thus supplying information which might not otherwise be available.  The results of the collaboration between Leadbeater and Varley were published in the Transactions of the London Lodge, and they were encouraged to continue their research.

          Leadbeater focused on the person of Varley himself, delving into his past lives and associations.  For these researches, Leadbeater did not find it necessary to leave his physical body, and carried out his investigations whilst fully conscious and awake.  Sixteen past lives were examined and details noted so far as the investigator could "bring back" the overwhelming mass of material at his disposal.

          "In truth [the investigator] observes not only what


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he would have seen if he had been there at the time in the flesh, but much more.  He hears and understands all that the people say, and he is conscious of all their thoughts and motives;  and one of the most interesting of the many possibilities which open up before one who has learnt to read the records is the study of the thought of ages long ago - the thought of the cave man and the lake-dwellers as well as that which rules of the mighty civilizations of Atlantis, of Egypt or Chaldea." [24]

          Leadbeater realized the tremendous potential of these investigations both as a new way of exploring history, and, more interestingly, of "correcting" it.  Theosophical investigators - including HPB - held that the exoteric version of history revealed only the outer layer, and became distorted - either deliberately or with the passage of time - until the underlying facts were all but lost.  Through access to esoteric sources of knowledge the facts could be recovered.

          "What splendid possibilities open up before the man who is in full possession of this power may easily be imagined.  He has before him a field of historical research of most entrancing


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interest... [He can] review at his leisure all history with which we are acquainted, correcting as he examines it the many errors and misconceptions which have crept into the accounts handed down to us..." [25]

          The results of his investigations into the past lives of John Varley, and thus into the history of the civilizations into which he was incarnated, were eventually published as The Lives of Erato.  Erato - the Muse of lyric poetry - was the name given to the incarnating entity which was John Varley in the present life.  For, as Leadbeater noted:

          "As a history cannot be written without names, and as reincarnation is a fact - and therefore as the reappearance of the same individual throughout many succeeding ages is also a fact, the ego playing many parts under many names - we have given names to many individuals by which they may be recognized throughout the drama in which they take part... a human being, in the long story in which the lives are days, plays hundreds of parts, but is himself throughout - be he man or woman, peasant, prince or priest." [26]


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          It was originally intended that the names of constellations would be used, together with the names of stars and Greek heroes, for the incarnating entities, but as the number of the "lives" being investigated grew (reaching some three hundred reincarnating entities at its zenith) other categories were eventually included.

          Leadbeater usually required a "point of departure" in his investigations of past lives;  as he noted in Clairvoyance, a special link to put the investigator en rapport with his subject is a requirement of clairvoyant investigation of the past - either an object to be psychometrized, a memory of an historical place, or something similar to "tune in" to the point in time at which he wishes to begin his research. [27]  In the case of the first investigation with John Varley it was a particularly vivid dream of Varley's which was used.  Neither Varley nor Leadbeater initially interpreted the dream as referring to a previous life, and thought it but a strange astral experience.  But when Leadbeater "looked up" the dream on the astral plane, he discovered that it had been a recollection of a previous life "flashed" on the "astral light".

          From that point the investigations progressed with energy and enthusiasm.   Each of the lives was carefully tabulated:   an average of 1,264 years between incarnations


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was noted, with an average life-span of 55-1/2 years.  The lives were seen to run in cycles of gender, the first three and the last seven being male, and the intervening seven female.  They had information on seventeen lives, including the present John Varley, ranging from Chaldea 19,245 BC, in the 6th sub-race of the 4th Root Race, through Egypt, Atlantis, North America, China, Japan, India, Athens and to Germany in 1503 AD for the last incarnation before the present.  Great attention was given to detail - a characteristic of all Leadbeater's work - as, for example, in the account of the first life he investigated, that of a priest in ancient Chaldea:

          "Your ceremonial vestments are gorgeous and remarkable - a sort of triple tiara of white metal on the head, a robe of most curious texture seemingly metallic, white but taking various colours such as blue and red in different lights somewhat like shot silk." (28)

          Varley, his artistic interest aroused, enquired "whether it could be a mixture of spun glass with silk", to which Leadbeater replied:

          "Possibly ...but we hardly have time to deeply inquire into the matter just now." [29]


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          Precise dates were added later - after 1910 [30] - when each life was concluded with a statement of information as, for example, the first life in Chaldea:

          "Born 19,245 BC

          Died 19,159 BC

          Length of life 76 years

          Period in Devachan 2,022 [31]

          Note: The period in Devachan refers to the time spent out of earthly life [?] and includes the time spent in Kama Loka." [32]

          The process of dating clairvoyant investigations of past lives could be complicated:  in the case of events known to orthodox history these could be supplied from memory, although orthodox history was sometimes shown to be wrong.  However, for unknown events, or events in the very distant past, other methods were necessary.

          "It must be remembered that it is possible for the investigator to pass the records before him at any speed that he may desire - at the rate of a year in a second if he will, or even very much faster still.  Now there are one or two events in ancient history whose dates have already been accurately


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fixed – as, for example, the sinking of Poseidonis in the year 9,564 B.C.  It is therefore obvious that if from the general appearance of the surroundings that a picture seen is within measurable distance of one of these events, it can be related to that event by the simple process of running through the record rapidly, and counting the years between the two as they pass." [33]

          For the measurement of very distant periods - millions of years ago - Leadbeater made use of his astronomical knowledge and calculated time by the movement of the stars.

          During the course of his investigations Leadbeater identified various individuals by mystical names, some of whom he recognized in their present incarnations.  In some cases these identifications were revealed so that those concerned might know who they had been in the past lives.

          For example, in a past life in India from 4,032 BC to 3,987 BC Varley had been introduced to Leadbeater and Sinnett, and while in Peru, when he lived from 12,089 BC to 12,004 BC he had been a brother to the entity now living as Francesca Arundale.  In Atlantis, 9,603 BC to 9,564 BC, he had ignored the advice of his grandfather, and lost his life when the continent sank.  Much, of the information given in The Lives of Erato and those lives which followed it was sufficiently


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vague and general to be beyond either proof or refutation in a scientific sense.  Whether or not a particular scribe had lived thousands of years ago in a now lost civilization, the son of a "nice looking mother", had been a successful artist, and lost his own first son at an early age, is beyond scientific assessment. [34]

          However, in one of the lives Leadbeater offered what Jinarajadasa was to interpret as some sort of tangible proof of his historical accuracy.  In Life XV (Greece, 520 BC - 449 BC), when Varley and Leadbeater were brothers, Varley produced some statues under the name of "Kalamis".  Leadbeater gave a list of the statues, which included a number of figures of Apollo, including one in the British Museum, the "Apollo of Omphalos", and a figure of Aphrodite produced for a rich man named Kallias, who offered it to the goddess.   Upon this latter statue was an inscription in Greek.  Jinarajadasa, in his account of these investigations, recalled:

          "I well recall C.W. Leadbeater copying out this inscription.  He could make nothing out of it, though he knew a little Greek when at school.  At this time I was studying Greek for the London University intermediate examination;  but I had not studied Palaeography, so this was above me... I


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took it to my professor, who was an ex-Fellow of St Peter's College, Cambridge.  He read off instantly from the slip I gave him, and gave the meaning:   "Kallias son of Hipponikos, makes a votive offering." [35]

          It should be noted that Leadbeater had studied Greek for his examinations prior to ordination.

          This sort of phenomena impressed the Theosophists of the time, and contributed to Leadbeater's reputation as a clairvoyant.  And it was this reputation more than anything else which encouraged Mrs Annie Besant to develop a friendship with him, and to begin to work with him on a long program of occult research.  She began to collaborate in the investigation of past lives, and Olcott asked them to trace out his previous incarnations.  Leadbeater also explored the past lives of Dr Arthur Wells, formerly a Roman Catholic monk who had left the Church to join the TS, [36] and Basil Hodgson-Smith, the eight-year-old boy who was Leadbeater's companion at the time. [37]

          Mrs Besant, who had shown no inclination to psychic gifts prior to her meeting with Leadbeater, developed them "overnight" (as she said) under his influence, so that by 1895 Theosophical journals were giving


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accounts of their joint investigations into the astral and mental planes, life after death, reincarnation and past lives. [38]  In August, 1895, she invited Leadbeater and Jinarajadasa to move to the Headquarters of the TS in Avenue Road.  She also invited Leadbeater to accept the position of Assistant Secretary of the European Section of the TS, a position which had become vacant as the result of internal struggles in the Society, and the "schism" of W.Q. Judge in the USA. [39]

          Shortly before this time Leadbeater had been living in Ealing, sharing a house with Dr Wells, and Jinarajadasa, although the latter was at Cambridge for most of the year.   Another Theosophist, F.T. Brooks, stayed with Leadbeater for several months, occupying Jinarajadasa's room, and engaging in conversations with Leadbeater who "dropped hints about occult development", and also investigated Brooks' past lives, although these were not published. [40]  Also in the house was Basil Hodgson-Smith, described by Brooks as "Leadbeater's boy-companion of the time".

          Brooks later achieved notoriety within the TS when he resigned and wrote a series of vitriolic attacks on the Society, Mrs Besant and Leadbeater under such titles as The Theosophical Society and Its Esoteric Bogeydom and


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Neo-Theosophy Exposed. [41]  In these he both attacked those of whom he did not approve, and revealed a great deal of "inside information" about the Esoteric Section of the Society of which Mrs Besant had now declared herself Outer Head (as contrasted with the Inner Head, who was a Master).  However, at the time he was staying with Leadbeater, Brooks was a young rising star, anxious to learn all he could from the leading figures of the Society.   But he did not like Leadbeater, and sought the advice of Bertram Keightley, an eminent Theosophist who did not like Leadbeater either. [42]  Keightley warned Brooks that Leadbeater was

          " ...persistently pursuing, in spite of many friendly warnings, a very risky path of psychical development.  It meant, in the forced unfolding and constant use of the astral and lower mental senses, a tremendous outpouring of the 'personality' at the expense of the real High Self, and might ultimately lead to most dire results, the least of which was an almost indefinite retardation on the day of real liberation." [43]

          Leadbeater himself, in one of his later books, referred to exactly the same dangers when talking about "Cases in which the personality captures the part of the ego which is put


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down, and actually breaks away", and talked about a type of Black Magician "in outward appearance more respectable, yet really even more dangerous because more powerful" who used the techniques mentioned by Keightley.  This person sought the acquisition of occult power "to be used always for his own gratification and advancement, to further his own ambition or satisfy his own revenge", and adopted "rigid asceticism as regards mere fleshly desires and starves out the grosser particles of his astral body" but "the centre of his energy is none the less entirely in his personality." [44]  There were some Theosophists, Brooks and Keightley among them, who saw or came to see this description by Leadbeater as a diagnosis of his own case.   Brooks felt himself being progressively and involuntarily drawn under Leadbeater's influence, and heeding the warning given by Keightley, appealed to Mrs Besant for help.  Eventually, she sent him to India.

          But, risky path or not, Leadbeater continued to make use of his psychic powers.   The Devachanic Plane was published in 1896 as Theosophical Manual Number 6, without any reference to Mrs Besant's role in its production.  Following the success of his works on the astral and devachanic planes, articles on his investigations appeared in The Theosophist and Lucifer.  The two small books - The Astral Plane and The Devachanic Plane [45] - are


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characteristic of Leadbeater's style when writing of his clairvoyant investigations, appearing to be scientific and objective even though the subject matter would be regarded by most scientists as unscientific to the point of fantasy.  Jinarajadasa, in his introduction to later editions of The Astral Plane, noted:

          "A close analysis and study of these facts by any eager student who has an unprejudiced and impartial mind, cannot but give him the feeling that, though he may be unable to believe in the statement recorded, yet nevertheless there is one characteristic about them, that they appear to be descriptions of objects and events seen objectively, as through a microscope or telescope, and not subjectively, as in the case of a novelist spinning out the incidents of a vivid story." [46]

          A typical example of this "objectivity is found in Leadbeater's record of a clairvoyant examination of Christians found on the devachanic plane after death:

          "The unintellectual devotion which is exemplified on the one hand by the illiterate Roman Catholic peasant, and on the other by the earnest and sincere 'soldier' of the Salvation Army, seems to


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produce results very similar to those (of other religions], for these people also are found wrapped up in contemplation of their ideas of Christ or his mother respectively.  For instance, an Irish peasant was seen absorbed in the deepest adoration of the Virgin Mary whom he imagined standing on the moon after the fashion of Titian's 'Assumption', but holding out her hands and speaking to him.  A medieval monk was found in ecstatic contemplation of Christ crucified and the intensity of his yearning love and pity was such that as he watched the blood dripping from the wounds of the figure of his Christ the stigmata produced themselves on his own body." (47]

          In 1897 Leadbeater contributed a series of articles to Lucifer entitled "Our Relation to Our Children" in which he outlined his views of children, parents and education.  Feeling it "presumptuous that a bachelor should venture to offer suggestions to parents on a subject so especially their own", he began with a brief account of his own experience with children:

          " ...though I have none of my own, I have always


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been fond of children, and in very close relation with them through almost the whole of my life - for many years as a Sunday School teacher, then as a clergyman, school manager and choir trainer, and as headmaster of a large boys' school.  So that I am, at any rate, speaking from long practical experience and not merely vaguely theorizing." [48]

          His conclusions, based on his observation and experience of children and the educational system, were that young people were being misled by the ignorance and perverted by the hypocrisy of their elders and the inadequacies of the schools.  He was harshly critical of the public school in particular and educational methods in general, and stated:

          "The practical result of nineteen centuries of ostensibly Christian teaching is that our boys live among us as an alien race, with laws and rules of life of their own..." [49]

          He nowhere commented on "our girls", but considering his eccentric attitude towards women, more manifest in later years but already developing, this is not surprising.

          He believed that children should be listened to,


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and talked to as individuals in their own right, given firm but gentle discipline, and encouraged to grow up into a carefully pre-planned mold.  As he commented:

          "It is simply impossible to exaggerate the plasticity of these unformed vehicles.  We know that the physical body of a child, if only its training be begun at a sufficiently early age, can be modified to a very considerable extent... Now if the physical body of a child is thus plastic and readily impressionable, his astral and mental vehicles are far more so." (50]

          He believed that not only the physical environment of the child was important, but that the very psychic atmosphere surrounding the child was vitally important in shaping his development, and the child could be damaged by negative or destructive thoughts emanating from the parents or friends.  Parents had a responsibility to protect their children from the undesirable influences which might be projected towards them.  Leadbeater, claiming to be possessed of clairvoyant powers, was in a better position to comment on such influences, and was capable of watching the inner development of the child, while its parents could only see the physical growth:


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          "If the parents themselves possessed the astral sight it would, no doubt, be of great assistance to them in showing exactly what were the capabilities of their child;  but if they have not that advantage, there need not, therefore, be the slightest doubt or question about the result, for that must follow sustained effort with mathematical certainty, whether the process of its working be visible to them or not." [51]

          The message was clear:  parents who could not observe the inner development of their children should accept the advice, or even the direction, of one who could.  And indeed they did.   Theosophical parents welcomed the opportunity to consult an occult paediatrician, and so the training and development of children became another area of special interest and concern for Leadbeater.

          He began to take two or three boys under his special care and tuition, bringing them up in accordance with the best Theosophical principles.  He was especially interested in cases of "difficult" boys, or boys with "difficulties".  Basil Hodgson-Smith, son of Leadbeater's close friend, Alfred Hodgson-Smith, had already been placed under Leadbeater's tutelage, and accompanied him on his travels for some years. [52]  Obviously, had there been any hints of immorality when Miss Arundale and Mr Sinnett


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withdrew their charges from his care, these were not widely known.  Leadbeater expanded his work with children when he took over the Lotus Circle in London, an organization for the children of Theosophists, which grew and expanded under his direction. [53]

 


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