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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Crosbie, Robert

(1849-1919). Founder of the UNITED LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS. Robert Crosbie was born on January 10, 1849, in Montreal. His parents were connected with the Hudson Bay Company in Canada. In 1865, Crosbie, raised a Presbyterian, was invited to join the communion. As he said he considered himself still “unfit.” Subsequent discussions he said caused him to doubt that church’s practices. He determined to independently find “the Truth, which must be knowledge,” and adopted the practice of constant questioning into life’s objects, pain, sickness, death, mercy, justice, fate. He found that religions around him offered no satisfactory answers when he questioned them. “. . . from his earliest years [he was] deeply interested in religious, philosophical and occult subjects . . .” (Theosophy, Vol. 7, p. 320).

Selling their business in Montreal, Crosbie and his partner went to Boston, and started a shoe and leather manufacturing business. It became well known and was highly respected. In 1888 he heard of the proposed establishment of a branch of the Theosophical Society (TS) in Boston. As the word: “Theosophia” suggested much to him, Crosbie went to the first meeting. He recognized at once that this was what he was searching for, and he immediately joined the TS on June 5, 1888.

In 1889, Crosbie was elected Secretary of the Boston Branch of the TS, Mr. Griggs was its President. On Mr. Griggs retirement, he was elected President of the Boston TS Branch. In 1895 he helped organize the 8th Convention of the American Section of the TS in Boston (April 28/29th, 1895). It was during this convention that the American Section passed resolutions that transformed it into the Theosophical Society in America, giving it full legal autonomy, and separated itself from the Theosophical Society with headquarters at Adyar, Chennai [Madras], India.

William Q. JUDGE died in 1896, and Katherine TINGLEY was elected to succeed him. She asked Crosbie to come and work at POINT LOMA in 1900. In 1904, due to disagreements with Mrs. Tingley, Crosbie left Point Loma. He and his wife rented a house in South Pasadena and he secured a job as a bookkeeper with the Los Angeles Times.

In 1907, Mr. Crosbie and 7 others decided to organize on their own, adopting the original principles and the original program of the Masters which Helena P. BLAVATSKY and Mr. Judge had embodied practically during their life time. The new organization was designed as an association and named it the United Lodge of Theosophists. As the term “member” had been politicized and abused, the Declaration of the ULT used the term “Associates.” “No formal bond existed among the Associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists other than the Declaration, the sole object being the study and dissemination of Theosophy pure and simple” (Theosophy, Vol. 23, p. 102). Crosbie stressed impersonality and anonymity to protect the work of Theosophy, and to help protect the associates from ambition. In November, 1912, TheosophyMagazine was founded, with Crosbie as chief editor until his death in June 25, 1919. His works include The Friendly Philosopher, Answers to Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy, The Theosophical Movement [1875-1925] (initially edited by him).

D.T.

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