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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Cleather, Alice Leighton

(1846-1938). Prominent early member of the Theosophical Society (TS). Cleather was born in April 1846 in England, the daughter of an Anglican minister. She joined the TS in 1885 and the Esoteric Section in 1888; was admitted to the inner group in 1890 where she had instruction from Helena P. BLAVATSKY. Cleather was given the task of recording the meetings and her careful notes were used in 1940 for a report in the Theosophical Forum (Point Loma). During this period Cleather wrote a number of articles, most importantly those published in The Theosophist from March 1890 to August 1895 under the title Theosophy in Western Lands. These articles are a valuable data source regarding theosophical activities at the London headquarters.

Alice Leighton Cleather
              Alice Leighton Cleather

In 1895 William Q. JUDGE seceded from the Adyar TS and Cleather became a close associate of Katherine TINGLEY, Judge’s successor, accompanying her on her world tour and remaining in Europe to lecture on theosophical subjects.

Cleather was intensely loyal to the teachings of Blavatsky and in 1899 she disassociated herself from the two theosophical groups on the grounds that they were deviating from the pure Blavatsky teachings. In 1920 she was one of five Europeans to take Buddhist vows at Buddha Gaya under the auspices of Geshe Rompoche at the Donkar monastery, Chumbi Valley. These were the first Europeans so to do. At the end of 1925 she journeyed to Peking and met the Tashi Lama who gave her a Buddhist “Testimonial” which read:

Special Gelukpa Buddhist of the English race, faithful and devoted, to be treated as a Buddhist, to be afforded every assistance and help, and not to be injured or wrongfully opposed.

She also received a special passport for Tibet and in company with Basil Crump and her son traveled into Tibet and then down the Yellow River where they were robbed by bandits, arriving at Sining in North West China after six months of exhausting travel. From Sining she traveled by air back to Peking and there published two pamphlets in Chinese: Why I Believe in Buddhism, and Some Thoughts on Buddhism.

Cleather, together with William Kingsland, founded the H. P. B. Lending Library and in 1923 she established the BLAVATSKY ASSOCIATION. She was an outstanding musician and orator, who, together with Crump, toured extensively giving slide lectures on theosophy and also the esoteric significance of Wagner’s operas.

She died on May 4, 1938, at Darjeeling, India.

Cleather’s published works include: H. P. Blavatsky, a Great Betrayal, 1922, Thaker Spink and Co., Calcutta; H. P. Blavatsky: Her Life and Work for Humanity, 1922, (Thaker); H. P. Blavatsky as I Knew Her, (with addendum by Basil Crump), 1923, (Thaker).

 

P.S.H.

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