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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Buddhist Society, London, The

In 1924 a Buddhist Lodge was founded within the English Section of the Theosophical Society (TS) by Christmas Humphreys. The main object was “To study, disseminate and attempt to live the fundamental principles of Buddhism in the light of Theosophy.”

This object was easily carried out in the light of Theosophy as taught by Helena P. Blavatsky, but many members of the TS were going through a period of being more interested in other subjects and activities. At the time the dichotomy was too much for a young Lodge to handle. An Associateship was formed, so that newcomers wishing to study Buddhism did not also have to accept the new and perhaps unacceptable theosophical tenets, but many members left. At last came the crisis. Christmas Humphreys’ diary of October 11, 1926, reads “Crawled to Lodge from bed of flu” to find 3 members and 5 others — no quorum. Position desperate. “We have 11 members; 3 in Portsmouth, 3 duds and the remaining 5 all needed for a quorum.”

This was the turning point — there were many members of the Buddhist Lodge wanting to learn more about Buddhism than theosophy. The Lodge, as such, seceded from the TS in order to carry on with its main work — studying and sharing Buddhism. Most of its members remained theosophists, whether attached or not.

The new Buddhist Society, was to prove the pioneer framework for building up the Buddhist movement in Britain. It later became the Buddhist Society of London, having an open platform for all Buddhist Schools and publishing a quarterly magazine The Middle Way. Owing to the work of the Society there are in Great Britain now over a hundred Buddhist organizations, including monasteries located on spacious grounds.

M.D.

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