The Leadbeater Question

Bruce Michael

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Dear All,
I once knew a member of the TS Pasadena group who always warned about Leadbeater but never told me the full story. Now of course the cat is out of the bag.

Here is the quote from Gregory Tillett's book The Elder Brother:
Certain charges had been made against Leadbeater.
"Further, it might also have involved 'indicative action', including
touch. This seems to have so shocked the Committee that far from
endeavouring to clarify what was meant, they promptly changed the
subject. Leadbeater later claimed that much of the evidence against him
in the transcript of the 1906 hearing had been 'fabricated' or was the
result of transcription errors. However, in the custody case over
Krishnamurti in Madras in 1913, Leadbeater again admitted that he had
taught boys masturbation (the precise meaning of the word 'taught' was
never fully explored). He denied touching the boys, but in answer to one
question talked about a case in which he had done so. He declared that
he gave specific sexual advice to boys on the basis of the thought forms
he could see hovering about them, indicating their sexual arousal and
emotional disturbance.

Claims that he had initiated sexual activities were specifically made by
two of his pupils in the USA in relation to the 1906 'troubles', when it
was claimed that he had indulged in mutual masturbation, alleging that
this would promote physical vigour and have occult results as well.
Hubert van Hook also alleged, in later years, that Leadbeater had
engaged in sexual relations with him. But other than these three boys,
and one in Australia, none of his pupils ever offered any public
suggestion of sexual irregularities. Mrs Besant had stated that sex was
not permissible for an Initiate, and the pupils all repeated that
Leadbeater stressed the importance of purity. There were, however, a few
things which might have led the suspicious to wonder. Why did Leadbeater
invariably sleep with a young boy in his bed? And why did he invariably
have a boy in the bath with him? It has been argued that his weak heart
necessitated such companionship for fear he might have some sort of
attack whilst alone; but does companionship require mutual nakedness in
close proximity? And why did Leadbeater insist on communal bathing for
his pupils at The Manor, with all of them in the bathroom, naked, at the
same time? He was given an enema every morning by one or other of his
pupils, in the presence of the others whilst they bathed. This, said the
close associate of Leadbeater's who told of the morning ritual, may have
given rise to misinterpretations. One could understand why.
Dr. Steiner was not surprised that Leadbeater had made such a 'slip' considering the path he had set himself upon.

Furthermore, there was a strange occult relationship between Leadbeater
and some of his pupils, which seemed to have unhealthy implications. In
his article 'A modern Socrates', A.J. Hamerster recalled that the
pupil-teacher relationship often employed 'spiritual induction' whereby
the pupils not only receive something from their teacher, but give
'something from their vital energy whereby the ancient Teacher was
enabled to recuperate some of his failing strength'. In his own copy of
this article, bound in with his Collected Articles in the Adyar Library,
Hamerster has noted, in handwriting: 'Often was this phenomena observed
by me in C.W. Leadbeater's latter days in Adyar and many times I heard
it from the lips of his young disciples how they actually felt their
strength being drained from them.'

There were those who defended Leadbeater's 'teachings' (popularly
assumed in the TS to have been condoning masturbation) on grounds whichsuggested the teachings involved more than was commonly known. Somesuggested the teachings were given occultly in Mrs Besant's The Pedigree of Man. Others argued that it was a necessary means for humanity to return to the hermaphroditic state, and yet others said that it was too esoteric a system for anyone other than a disciple to understand. The O.E. Library Critic even suggested that Leadbeater's book, The Monad,
included a reference to some form of 'psychic orgasm'.

Eventually evidence was found that Leadbeater had taught a sexual
technique, other than masturbation in the sense understood by the 1906
enquiry, to a highly select group of his closest pupils, and that he
gave an occult and spiritual basis for this teaching. Details of the
teachings were contained within the diaries of one of Leadbeater's
closest pupils. Unfortunately, access to this material was closed almost
immediately it had been given; it does, however, provide a solution to
the mystery. That Leadbeater promulgated these teachings was later
confirmed by one of his closest associates, who was reluctant to give
the information, feeling that it would be misunderstood. He did not
regard Leadbeater's teaching as 'immoral' or improper, but, as
Leadbeater claimed, occult. In simple terms, Leadbeater taught that the
energy aroused in masturbation can be used as a form of occult power, a
great release of energy which can, first, elevate the consciousness of
the individual to a state of ecstasy and, second, direct a great rush of
psychic force towards the Logos for His use in occult work. Leadbeater
declared: 'The closest man can come to a sublime spiritual experience is
All in all a dangerous process that had been warned about as far back as Moses.

During masturbation, the mind should gradually be elevated
towards the Godhead and, in his words, 'as soon as the seed can be felt
in the tube', the consciousness should be so exalted that the great
release of physical and psychical energy is directed to the Logos or to
an image of Him. This occult knowledge of sex was regarded as too
dangerous to give to the average person, or, indeed, to the average
pupil of Leadbeater's. It was reserved for the select few, who were
sworn to secrecy, and told that they were justified in not telling the
truth about this highly occult matter should they be questioned. It was
so secret and sacred a matter that a dual standard of morality - that of
the ordinary man, and that of the spiritually evolved occultist -
applied. The select pupils, on rare occasions, engaged in group ritual
masturbation which was intended to send out especially powerful

Once the sexual passions were aroused, Leadbeater taught, they should be
properly directed, and not wasted. Such sexual exercises could lead to
the development of psychic powers and experiences of 'Nirvana' and the
higher worlds. One thus re-reads a passage in his book, Clairvoyance,
with a somewhat different understanding:

Let a man choose a certain time every day - a time when he can rely upon
being quiet and undisturbed, though preferably in the day time rather
than at night - and set himself at this time to keep his mind for a few
moments entirely free from all earthly thoughts of any kind whatever
and, when that is achieved, to direct the whole force of his being
towards the highest spiritual ideal that he happens to know. He will
find that to gain such perfect control of thought is enormously more difficult than hesupposes, but when he attains it it cannot but be in every way most beneficial to him, and as he grows more and more able to elevate and concentrate his thought, he may gradually find that new worlds are opening before his sight.

Does this, on its 'inner side', have reference to anything more than
meditation in an intellectual sense?
From this sexual teaching of Leadbeater's two interesting themes can be
followed. The first is that it fits in with a considerable 'movement in
aesthetic and religious circles at the end of the nineteenth and the
beginning of the twentieth century in which a spiritual relationship,
with sexual implications, between Teacher and Pupil was exalted to a
sacred degree. Timothy d'Arch Smith, in his study of 'Uranian' poets,
began by noting:

between the eighteen nineties and the nineteen thirties a boy was a very
quiet, self-effacing and unobtrusive creature indeed. The Uranians'
adoration of such a person was not therefore immediately suspect as it
is in modern society where the state is intolerant of any intrusion into
her prerogative of wet-nurse or where certain Sunday newspapers are as
thoughtlessly swift to condemn such relationships as they are immorally
prompt to arouse their young readers' erotic ardour with pictures of
near nude females, and it is probable that the Uranians' love of boys
gave genuine help and affection where no official organization
or counsel existed outside the home or school .
The term 'Uranian' was coined, d'Arch Smith notes, by those who
advocated 'boy love' in the period from the 1880s to the 1930s, and
included such figures as Oscar Wilde, Edward Carpenter, John Addington
Symonds, William Johnson Gory and Ralph Nicholas Chubb. Of the last
named, it was said he endeavoured 'to raise paederasty to a form of
religious devotion'.
Amongst the religious figures d'Arch Smith includes Fr Ignatius of
Lianthony, George Reader, Frederick Widdows, Frederick Samuel Willoughby
(who consecrated Wedgwood), and Leadbeater. Obviously Wedgwood and some of his associates should also have been included. Many of the Uranians were characterized by a retrospective longing for the days of classical Greece, when the teacher-pupil relationship, including a sexual
relationship between an older and a younger man, was held to be the
pinnacle of culture. One recalls the irony in Leadbeater's frequent
reference to his own last incarnation in ancient Greece, as the pupil of
one of Pythagoras' disciples. And one wonders whether Leadbeater felt as
d'Arch Smith suggests Ralph Nicholas Chubb did: 'This spiritualizing of
paederasty absolves him from the guilt which makes him hate society and
turn into a recluse. His is no longer a common human weakness, for he
has felt the cleansing fire of divinity.'

But his sexual teachings did not only link Leadbeater with an aesthetic
and religious 'movement'; they also relate directly to an occult and
magical tradition which employed sexual activities in a ritual context.
Even more relevant, the magical use of masturbation is not unknown in
some traditions of western occultism. The theories of sexual magic can
be summarized:

(1) Man possesses hidden powers (often identified with the subconscious
mind) which give him greater perception, raise him to states of ecstasy,
expand his consciousness, stimulate increased physical, emotional and
mental powers;
(2) These powers lie 'buried' beneath some 'barrier' which conscious
control cannot penetrate, but which can be overcome by a variety of
techniques, including to some extent drugs and alcohol;
(3) This 'barrier' can be penetrated through heightening the physical,
emotional and intellectual focus of the body by sexual stimulation,
leading to a 'break through' at the point of orgasm,
at which energy is released.~

Techniques employed are heterosexual, homosexual or autosexual."
I felt it was best to quote the entire passage in order to make the matter clear.


Leadbeater certainly had a murky personal life, and some of his religious ideas were downright goofy. However, some of his writings were great, for example, his explanation of the differences between Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya is the best I have ever written.
I think AndrewX was asking what the point was supposed to be.

Dear Brgruagach,
The point is accurate historical research. When Gregory Tillett's book first came out some theosophical bookshops wouldn't carry it- it was the first biography of Leadbeater. And he was hampered in his research by some who didn't want the critical material about Leadbeater to get out. Some of that material to this date has still not seen the light of day.

All this inspired Lesley Price to begin the Theosophical History project. So that is another good thing that came out of it.

Leadbeater's books were easy read- Tillet explains how Leadbeater developed his style.

Of course some folk like to keep their head firmly in the sand. But I say thank God for the Michaelic light which shines bright on all questions.

There are different degrees of clairvoyancy and different means of attainment. The occultist does well to study these things.

BTW Leadbeater did cause a split in TS ranks for a variety of reasons- pedophilia was just one of them.

This resulted in the "Back to Blavatsky Movement" evident in the Pasadena based group and the ULT.

You know, the funny thing about other people's mistakes (and ours) ... sins of omission and commission, Br Bruce ... is that once the sin is there, we can't do a thing in the world to remove those sins from "the record," as it were. ;)

A Christian might say, only God can do that. And an esotericist would probably say, nope, the Lipika now "have it on file," and the Soul in question must work with Them to set right his or her wrongs.

But there is something we can do to help the Soul involved. We can send them Light, and Love, and we can remember to forgive, just as Our Father Who art in Heaven forgives us.

Yes, when we transgress we transgress against the entirety of the Human Family, as well as God. But the ability - in fact the imperative and the Right Responsibility to forgive - is part of what we're here to learn, and to practice (practice makes Perfect).

What I question, is what motive we might have, when we set out to show the wrongs of others, or point out "where they strayed from the beaten path." :confused:

And sometimes, even when we mean the best, for all our good intention, we only do further injury - to the very Soul we might wish to help ... if we harp upon that person's supposed errors, or if we beat a dead horse. :(

I would advise you, Br Bruce, to do a little research on Vajroli Mudra ... and consider that, in fact, Leadbeater may have been teaching an esoteric practice which will one day be part & parcel of "growing up" - when society finally matures to the point that sex (and all associated matters) can become part of White Magic, and not black, or gray magic.

What we DO know for certain, to quote from an introductory article on the Esoteric Philosophy (found here), is that "Leadbeater’s action led to so much controversy that he was forced to leave the Theosophical Movement," and that "He certainly paid dearly for teaching something what could not be taught publicly at that time."

It should also be considered that on Henry Steele Olcott's deathbed, he was told by the Masters (presumably his own, and/or the Trans-Himalayan Mahatmas sponsoring the TS, including KH, M, et al) that he had been too hard on Leadbeater (regarding the "scandal," the questionable teachings which are really the topic of this thread).

Olcott addressed a letter of apology to Leadbeater, wherein he begged him to stop the teachings which the Masters considered wrong - because they "offended the standard of ideas of the majority of the members of the Society [TS]," yet in this letter Olcott also mentioned that "Leadbeater's help in the work would soon be needed again." (from Krishnamurti: The Years of Awakening, by Mary Lutyens)

And to take MY POINT one step further ... although I have searched, I cannot find an online reference, yet I am almost certain that I recall reading another deathbed visit - from the Mahatmas to a Theosophical Society President, this time Annie Besant. If memory serves, she was deeply concerned for Leadbeater's esoteric standing (future, karma, etc.), due to the "scandal" ... and also regarding Krishnamurti and the Order of the Star.

I do not remember the exact quote, but what the Masters indicated to Annie Besant, was essentially that CWL had certainly erred, but that his contribution to the Work was incalculable (or inestimable), and that he should not be judged too harshly.

And this, Brother Bruce, is what I am getting at. For as ye judge ... ;)


Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

>However, some of his writings were great, for example, his explanation of the >differences between Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya is the >best I have ever written.

Hmmm were you channeling him Nick?:confused:

"Hmmm were you channeling him Nick?"
--> Totally.

By the way, how do you see the differences between Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya?
Re: ~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~'`^`'~*-,._.,-*~

"Hmmm were you channeling him Nick?"
--> Totally.

By the way, how do you see the differences between Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya?

What does Charlie say about it?
I don't have a particular teaching on it, Nick. I just have some short explanations by G.R.S Mead:
Those three vestures- the Buddhic robes are described in the Voice of the Silence pp. 96,97.

" Quote:
Very little is publicly known of these transcendent Vestures, even by the Buddhists themselves, so that the accounts we have in books of various Oriental scholars are contradictory and misleading."

The highest vesture is the Body of the Law Dharma-kaya. If this Vesture is assumed every possible connection with the earth is at an end, and therefore the Buddhas of Compassion lay it aside that they may still remain and work for humanity.
-G.R.S Mead, The World Mystery.



One of the problems of studying the three Buddhist Vestures is that no one has any information on them. When we research the three terms, all we get is, "There are three vestures, and Sambhogakaya is one of them," which is no help at all.

Leadbeater says Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya are two different levels of consciousness (perhaps it would be better to say they are two different Offices that can be held in the Hierarchy, at two different levels of consciousness). According to Theosophy, there are seven levels of consciousness in the universe, with sub-levels within the seven main levels. There are, we are told, Buddhas who manage affairs at each level, and Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya seem to be names of Offices of Buddhas at two different levels of consciousness in the Hierarchy. (I am, of course, using the Mahayana, not Theravada, definition of Buddha.)

Nirmanakaya can be described as an Office at the Astral Level.

Leadbeater says attaining the Dharmakaya vesture means becoming conscious at the level above the Nirvanic Level of Consciousness, while attaining the Sambhogakaya Vesture means becoming conscious at the Nirvanic Level of Consciousnes. This is rather surprising to me, as I would have thought both of them would be at lower levels. Be that as it may, I think Leadbeater got it right when he says Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya are names of Offices in the Hierarchy, each one higher than the other.
The entry in Purucker's Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary doesn't help much, but here it is:
Dharmakaya (Sanskrit) [from dharma law, continuance from the verbal root dhri to support, carry, continue + kaya body] Continuance-body, body of the law. One of the trikaya of Buddhism, which consists of 1) nirmanakaya, 2) sambhogakaya, and 3) dharmakaya. "It is that spiritual body or state of a high spiritual being in which the restricted sense of soulship and egoity has vanished into a universal (hierarchical) sense, and remains only in the seed, latent -- if even so much. It is pure consciousness, pure bliss, pure intelligence, freed from all personalizing thought" (OG 38). In the dharmakaya vesture the initiate is on the threshold of nirvana or in the nirvanic state. Sometimes the dharmakaya is called the "nirvana without remains," for once having reached that state the buddha or bodhisattva remains entirely outside of every earthly condition; he will return no more until the commencement of a new manvantara, for he has crossed the cycle of births. Dharmakaya state is that of parasamadhi, where no progress is possible -- at least as long as the entity remains in it. Such entities may be said to be for the time being crystallized in purity and homogeneity. This is, likewise, one of the states of adi-buddha, and as such is called the mystic, universally diffused essence, the robe or vesture of luminous spirituality
Howdy Sir Andrew,

> ... is that once the sin is there, we can't do a thing in the world to >remove those sins from "the record," as it were. ;)

They're there on the record- in Charlie's case the public record.
We have karma- you know that. Everyone can fall- no one is immune from failure.

Steiner informs me that Leadbeater's behaviour was a result of the spiritual path he had taken.

>I would advise you, Br Bruce, to do a little research on Vajroli Mudra ... >and consider that, in fact, Leadbeater may have been teaching an >esoteric practice which will one day be part & parcel of "growing up"

On the contrary, those practices are "old school" of the past. Best to keep 'em in the past.
They are no longer the correct path- no longer safe.

Besides the way of development these days should be "top down". If you haven't mastered the virtues of the higher chakras- I mean as far as the heart - don't mess with the lower.

> when society finally matures to the point that sex (and all associated >matters) can become part of White Magic, and not black, or gray magic.

There was nothing White Magic in what Charlie was doing.

>"Leadbeater’s action led to so much controversy that he was forced to leave the Theosophical Movement," and that "He certainly paid dearly for >teaching something what could not be taught publicly at that time."

I don't believe he was ever expelled from the Society.

We never reward or encourage bad behaviour. Often duty calls for explicit intervention, whereby one soul must actively discourage or reprimand another for his presumption of license which oversteps another's freedom. But inwardly we should not give over to responses of complete rejection to situations or to people, and by so doing so commit them with abusive judgement. For no one is fixed in their current predicament, and no thing is completely perceived in its entirety.
-The Whole Truth & Nothing but the Truth

>And this, Brother Bruce, is what I am getting at. For as ye judge ... ;)

In occult matters we must ensure our moral behaviour is on a higher level. For in occult development everything is brought into sharp contrast. The temptations are increased.

This can be a simple matter and yet why are there those who are content to overlook those things which do not correspond with true spirituality and expression? They do overlook very bad behaviour indeed!: excuse it graciously, as if one area of development will make good for the rest. It will not. If a man is so full of conceit as to believe that he need not review his soul, nor those of whom he trusts as teacher, then he shall not heed the warnings of his protective and suffering conscience. Esoteric teachers, we might add, are obliged to be reviewed critically for the sake of their beloved pupil, who is a part of their influence for the time that they give to them. Whether recognised or not they are accountable in every degree.

-The Brothers