10 stories of people having supernatural experiences after dying and then coming back to life.
Leadbeater, Charles Webster
(1854? -1934). A leading figure of the Theosophical Society (TS) “second generation” (c. 1900-1934), Charles W. Leadbeater was a prominent theosophical writer, speaker, and teacher. The author of some forty books and many more pamphlets and articles, Leadbeater has been read more widely than any other theosophical author, and has had an influence, direct and indirect, on western occultism, including the “New Age” movement, perhaps greater than any other single person of his time or since. His influence on modern art, through the concept of “thought-forms,” also cannot be overlooked. (See ART, THEOSOPHY AND.) In addition, he was an important figure in the Co-Masonic movement, and the second Presiding Bishop and a leading theologian and liturgist of the LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH. At the same time, Leadbeater was and remains a controversial figure, admired by some and trenchantly criticized by others both for his own character and his influence on theosophy.
Life. According to conventional accounts, Leadbeater’s birth, at Stockport, in the English county of Cheshire, was on February 17, 1847. However, as The Rev. Hugh Shearman stated in Charles Webster Leadbeater, A Biography (1980), “Charles Webster Leadbeater was born on February 16, 1854, at Stockport, Cheshire, England and this is the date given in his birth certificate. For some unknown reason his birth date was later frequently given as February 17, 1847, and that date appeared on his passport” (p. 2). Gregory Tillett, in his biography, The Elder Brother (1982), presents a reproduction of this birth certificate. Shearman states that Leadbeater seems to have been an only child, and Tillett has also found no documentation for stories that his father was a railway executive who took the boy to South America in 1859?-61, where a younger brother, Gerald, was killed by “Indians.” In fact, his father, who died in 1862, was a railroad bookkeeper. As a young man, the future theosophist and Liberal Catholic bishop appears to have worked in clerical positions until 1878, when he was made a deacon in the Church of England; he was ordained priest the following year. There is no record of Leadbeater’s having attended a university; he qualified for ordination through private study and examination. He served in the parish of Bramshott in Hampshire as a curate to his uncle, the Rev. William Wolfe Gapes, a man of wealth and a classical scholar of some distinction as well as rector.
Leadbeater’s life as a curate prefigured in interesting ways his later theosophical career. He worked particularly with young people, having about him a circle of boys which enjoyed many social as well as spiritual activities together. He established a youth branch of a Church temperance society. He studied Spiritualism, attending seances, listening to lecturers of this persuasion. He also took up with high church, sacramental Anglicanism, joining the Angle-Catholic Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. All these varied concerns return later in the form of important aspects of his theosophical and Liberal Catholic life and teaching.
The change to that new life came in 1883, when Leadbeater read Alfred P. SINNETT’s The Occult World. That striking and readable book, with its juxtaposition of occult teaching and phenomena, led the young curate to contact the Theosophical Society in London. Leadbeater was accepted for membership on November 20, 1883. He was welcomed into the London Lodge on February 21, 1884, together with Professor William CROOKES, the distinguished physicist and psychical investigator, and Mrs. Crookes. Then, on April 7, 1884, Leadbeater met Helena Petrovna BLAVATSKY and Henry Steel OLCOTT at a turbulent election meeting of the London Lodge. Deeply impressed by Blavatsky, from that day on Leadbeater’s commitment tilted more and more away from Anglicanism and toward theosophy. He received a letter from the Master KOOT HOOMI (K.H.) in October 31, 1884, just prior to Blavatsky’s return to India. Leadbeater responded by writing a letter on November 1 in which he offered to give up his career in the Church and go to India with her to serve theosophy. He took this letter to Blavatsky in London and asked her to read it, which she did reluctantly (as she felt it was a private correspondence). Leadbeater then accompanied her to the home of the Cooper-Oakleys where, “after midnight” (i.e., early November 2, 1884) a reply materialized on Blavatky’s upturned hand while Leadbeater was watching. This letter instructed him to leave England forthwith, if that was his desire, and to join her in Alexandria. This he did, precipitously resigning his priesthood, putting his affairs in order, and sailing for India on November 5.
On the way he took PANSIL (P), formally becoming a Buddhist, in Colombo, Ceylon, and then arrived in Adyar in December 1884. From 1884 to 1888, Leadbeater was recording secretary of the Theosophical Society (TS), assistant to Olcott and a student of the Ancient Wisdom called theosophy. It was during this time at Adyar that he undertook a course of meditation which awakened his clairvoyance. In 1886-89 Leadbeater resided much of the time in Ceylon, directing educational and theosophical work on the island. While in Ceylon he met a thirteen-year-old boy, C. JINARAJADASA, whom he believed to have a theosophical vocation which required education in England. After some difficulties, he took the future president of the Theosophical Society with him to his homeland in 1889, where he called on Blavatsky receiving from her an inscribed copy of the VOICE OF THE SILENCE. He served as tutor to Jinarajadasa, and also to George Sydney ARUNDALE, another future international President, and to the son of A. P. Sinnett, Dennis. Leadbeater and Jinarājadāsa lived in the Sinnett’s house in Nottinghill, London, for two years.
Leadbeater also stepped up his occult investigations and related writings in those London years, publishing The Astral Plane in 1894, The Devachanic Plane in 1895, and in 1895-9, in collaboration with Annie Besant, papers that were the basis of Occult Chemistry (1908). In these still popular works Leadbeater inaugurated the style with which he would continue throughout his writing and lecturing career: that is to say, to the end of his life. He presented very clear, distinct, easily visualized word-pictures of forces, entities, and patterns of life on the inner planes; the terminology and the broad concepts were theosophical but the concrete detail undoubtedly owed much both to his independent clairvoyant examination and to his earlier background in Spiritualist studies.
Something of the same can be said of Thought-Forms (1905), also prepared in collaboration with Annie BESANT; this work, which has had a remarkable influence on modern art, presents through the medium of vivid color illustration the subtle energy patterns generated by various moods and feelings, as seen by a clairvoyant eye. It suggested, to a world moving rapidly beyond the literalism of Victorian art, the expression in painting of surreal forms and forces underlying, but different from, the visible world. These writings were all presented in a smooth, matter-of-fact manner that belied the sensational material invisible to virtually all but the author, as though no more than a scientific description of some newly-explored island or, in the case of Occult Chemistry, observations of the atom with a super-microscope. (See OCCULT CHEMISTRY.)
In 1899 The Christian Creed was published, presenting an esoteric view of Leadbeater’s natal faith and, despite the antipathy of some theosophists for Christianity, building bridges from his old life to the new that were to be shored up more and more strongly as the years advanced. It was followed by other classics of the Leadbeater approach to theosophy, all based on lectures: Man Visible and Invisible (1902), An Outline of Theosophy (1902), and The Other Side of Death (1903).
Leadbeater made London his home until 1909, though increasingly spending long periods of time on international lecture tours in the years 1896-1906 as his fame grew within the theosophical world, especially after the publication of his first books. By the turn of the century Leadbeater was recognized by many as one of the greatest theosophical authorities on psychic and occult phenomena. It was in the course of one of those lecture tours, however, that the problems arose which were temporarily to eclipse Leadbeater’s rising star. Letters were received early in 1906 by Annie Besant, with whom Leadbeater had established a close working relationship, from officials of the American Section of the TS and of the Esoteric School in America. They charged that the lecturer had immorally taught masturbation to boys approaching puberty, and demanded that he be expelled. Leadbeater admitted having so taught in a very small number of cases, defending the instruction on therapeutic and occult grounds. He was supported by Besant and others. But new information came out, including an incriminating letter in code to a boy. It was a time when Victorian attitudes toward “self-abuse,” quite different from those of today, prevailed in the minds of many. The aging International President, Olcott, was compelled to appoint an investigative committee, and after its work, including interviews with the subject, Leadbeater resigned from the Theosophical Society. He lived on the Continent including Italy and pursuing his occult investigations.
The hiatus in his Theosophical career was not to last long, however. In December 1908, after Besant had succeeded Olcott as President, the General Council of the Society, meeting during annual convention at the TS headquarters at Adyar, voted to reinstate Leadbeater. He returned to Adyar. During the next six years of residence and work there, in close association with the new President, Besant, he accomplished some of his most significant and remarkable work. It was in 1909 that he discovered the boy J. KRISHNAMURTI (1895-1986), becoming inwardly convinced that the boy might become the vehicle for the World Teacher, and leading to the messianic fervor that would sweep the Adyar theosophical world for the next twenty years. On January 11, 1910, it was said that the boy received initiation at night in his astral body. Later in 1910 Krishnamurti wrote about teachings which were to become a theosophical classic, At The Feet of the Master (1910). The same year the Order of the Star in the East was founded to promote the cause of the World Teacher.
The Inner Life, originally two volumes, was published 1910-11, and The Hidden Side of Things in 1913; these two massive works, based on lectures, present Leadbeater’s fundamental view of human nature and life, with considerable attention to discipleship under the Masters, the spiritual path, religion, and the moral life. In regard to religion, it may be noted that evidence of Leadbeater’s strong interest in the symbolic/esoteric, and no less the ceremonial, side of Christianity was already quite fully developed well before its expression in Liberal Catholicism. The moral side of Leadbeater’s thought, also stressed in these books as elsewhere, must be appreciated as well; passages such as those on the evils of consuming meat or alcohol, or on the importance of kindness to children and animals — based on seeing them in evolutionary terms — are among the most effective writings of this lucid stylist.
In 1910 Leadbeater began a series of articles on the past lives of theosophists, to be first published, in collaboration with Annie Besant, in book form as Man: Whence, How and Whither in 1913; they assigned “star-names” to the subjects, beginning with Alcyone (Krishnamurti). This venture, detailing with remarkable specificity the dates and lives of persons as far back as 23650 BCE, tested the credulity even of persons prepared to accept Leadbeater’s visions of the astral plane and the atom. But, like much of what Leadbeater did in his self-assured manner, it provided occasion for lively discussion, and some competition for pre-eminence in the theosophical community during a period of great overall theosophical vitality. Worldwide the Society grew from some 16,000 members in 1911 to 36,000 in 1920, climaxing at 45,000 in 1928, all years of Leadbeater’s greatest influence.
Nonetheless Leadbeater was always controversial. He was attacked as a “degenerate” by the press in various parts of the world although enquiries following charges brought against him disclosed that there was an absence of convincing evidence. In 1913 further discussion of the charges of 1906 was aroused by a court case brought by Krishnamurti’s father, Narayaniah, over custody of Krishnamurti and his brother, Nitya. Eventually the case was decided by the Privy Court in London in favor of the theosophists on a technicality, and they were free to send him to England to further his education (however, Krishnamurti failed to be admitted to a university there), and later to Ojai, California.
In the meantime, in 1914, Leadbeater removed to Sydney, Australia. Perhaps the change was in part to find a new venue after the latest troubles at Adyar, but it probably had more to do with the discomfort of Leadbeater, a staunch Tory and imperialist, with Annie Besant’s increasing labors on behalf of Indian home rule. Most of all, it may have just reflected a lifelong pattern of seeking an occasional change of air, and appreciation of the welcome which many (though not all) Australian theosophists had given him on a 1913 lecture tour. His British loyalism was soon tested by the fires of World War I, and he rose to the occasion, in lectures and tracts portraying the conflict in near-apocalyptic terms, between the forces of cosmic evolution and the “Lords of the Dark Face,” and, according the Divine Plan, a necessary prelude to the Coming of the World Teacher. He also promoted his belief that Australia and New Zealand were to be the homes of the next, and much more advanced, subrace, an idea naturally very popular “Down Under.” At this time he lived with a group of theosophical boys and girls, from Australia, Java, India, and the U.S., who had been placed with him for training in spiritual development. In 1922 Leadbeater moved into The Manor, a mansion commanding a spectacular view of Sydney Harbor, which was and still is a center of esoteric theosophical work.
All did not go well for him in Sydney, however, in 1921-22 he was again the subject of newspaper attacks and investigations by the police on the old “morals” charges, at the same time bitterly dividing the Sydney Lodge on the issue, basically, of Leadbeater versus “Back to Blavatsky.” His opponents charged both homosexuality, a count brought again by a few parents of boys that had been placed under his care, and that his teaching represented grievous deviation from the original theosophy of HPB. No criminal activity in regard to the former was ever established, despite strenuous efforts by those who were sure something was wrong. As for the latter, that was a matter for personal decision, and one which divided the Sydney Lodge into two.
The charge of theosophical innovation was also brought, partly provoked by Leadbeater’s work with CO-MASONRY, and above all by the LIBERAL CATHOLIC CHURCH. Both of these activities were undertaken in conjunction with James Ingall WEDGWOOD. In 1915 Wedgwood came to Sydney and initiated Leadbeater into Co-Masonry. Then in 1916 the former, himself a newly consecrated bishop, returned to Australia and ordained Leadbeater a bishop in this church. Leadbeater and Wedgwood had quickly become enthusiasts for the ceremonial expression of theosophy, working closely together to create a full liturgy and set of standards for the new church. They believed that, under the Master SAINT GERMAIN, in charge of ceremonial matters according to Leadbeater’s schema, both Co-Masonry and Liberal Catholicism were part of occult preparation for the Coming of the World Teacher, and so reflected the highly eschatological mood of theosophy in those years. Leadbeater then undertook occult investigations of these new ways of engaging the energies of the inner planes, and published two of his best books, The Science of the Sacraments and The Hidden Side of Christian Festivals, in 1920. The Hidden Life in Freemasonry followed in 1926. In 1923 Leadbeater became Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church upon the retirement of Bishop Wedgwood, retaining that position until his death.
In 1927-28 a group of seven girls from the Dutch East Indies, inevitably dubbed the “Seven Virgins of Java,” were placed under Leadbeater’s spiritual direction at The Manor, the first of their sex (apart from Dora van Gelder) to be so trained. They were to work together as a spiritual and ceremonial team, reflecting the bishop’s heightened belief in the importance of this mode of spiritual expression. But the group dispersed when he moved back to Adyar in 1929.
During the twenties Bishop Leadbeater continued his work, inner and outer. In 1925 a book which is a favorite of many was published: The MASTERS AND THE PATH. It combines colorful and concrete pictures of the lives of the Masters in the Him€layan retreats and the like with chartings of Leadbeater’ s developed view of the hierarchy of Masters, aligned with the seven rays and various spheres of influence (e.g., Saint Germain with ceremonial, the Master Jesus with devotion), and finally often profound interpretations of stages of spiritual initiation and advanced spiritual states. The Chakras (1927) has long been a theosophical classic; it combines esoteric yoga and theosophy to offer a fresh view, colorfully illustrated, of those hidden centers of psychic power.
In 1929 the enthusiasm over the World Teacher and the Order of the Star in the East came to a dramatic end with Krishnamuri’s renunciation of his former role and disbanding of the Order in August at the Star Camp at Ommen, in the Netherlands. Leadbeater was on a well-publicized tour to the Indies and further east at the time; he moved back to Adyar from Australia that fall. He tried to minimize the impact of the renunciation, saying only that “the Coming has gone wrong,” but it was clear that C. W. Leadbeater’s career, influence, and style of theosophy had all peaked that fateful summer. As indicated, Leadbeater returned to Adyar in 1929. His last few years cannot have been as happy for the theosophical patriarch as in earlier times. The inevitable effect on membership numbers of both the economic depression and Krishnamurti’s renunciation of his role coupled with Annie Besant’s failing health were far from encouraging. Annie Besant died in 1933; he in 1934 at Perth in Western Australia. Teaching. The key to Leadbeater’s teaching and theosophical style is the idea of clairvoyance, the capacity to see things that are hidden from ordinary eyes, but which are fundamental to understanding the real significance of what appears on the surface of life. As Leadbeater says in the first chapter of The Hidden Side of Things (1913): Occultism, then, is the study of the hidden side of nature; or rather, it is the study of the whole of nature, instead of only that small part of it which comes under the investigation of modern science. At the present stage of our development, by far the greater part of nature is entirely unknown to the majority of mankind, because they have as yet unfolded only a minute proportion of the faculties which they possess. . . . The occultist [clairvoyant] adopts a far more comprehensive view; he takes into account those forces of the higher worlds whose action is hidden from the materialist, and so he moulds his life in obedience to the entire code of Nature’s laws, instead of only by occasional reference to a minute fragment of it. (pp. 4-5)
Leadbeater then proceeded to expound this idea with a typically graphic, quasi-scientific, and unforgettable illustration. Suppose a person could see only solid matter, but not liquid or gas. How imperfect would be his knowledge of how the world works, and how puzzling would be certain simple phenomena, like the sudden appearance of the tiny craters formed in dust by raindrops, or the coastal results of waves and tides, not to mention the greening and flourishing of vegetation after a benign shower! So it is with most of us, toward the movements of forces and entities on inner planes which are the real explanation of why life is as it is, yet are invisible to all but the suitably clairvoyant among us. The centrality of the principle expresses itself in several directions. First, it allows Leadbeater to expound an elaborate view of the “invisible government of the world,” based both on basic theosophical concepts and his own clairvoyance to fill in the details. All of those details are much too elaborate to present here, but a few basics will give some idea of Leadbeater’s vision.
First, law and evolution. Like Blavatsky, Leadbeater posited ultimately a monistic, impersonal universe, composed of material of varying degrees of fineness of which matter and consciousness are different aspects, and governed by law, including karma and its great cycles of involution and evolution.
The “divine plan” for the evolution of all beings is, overall, upward, though seeming setbacks may occur along the way. This perspective, as we have seen, permitted Leadbeater to maintain optimism even in the face of such evils as the Great War. It also enabled him to see good and evil, even in such moral or religious categories as guilt, sin, and righteousness, in terms that can appear unexpectedly impersonal, as when, in The Science of the Sacraments he speaks of sin as that which is contrary to evolutionary force — divine Will acting as “a steady pressure upward and onward” — creating a “strain” in the etheric, astral, and mental matter; confession and priestly absolution can channel forces which relieve the strain (pp. 78-80).
All this is part of the development of the individual “ego” or “soul,” or expression of the monad in this world, as it strives to purify itself on all levels. In several books Leadbeater presents diagrams of the “Three Outpourings of the Divine Life in our evolutionary scheme,” which correspond to the “Three Aspects of the Logos, the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity,” which then evolve back through, or to, the physical, astral, mental, buddhic, nirvanic, monadic, and divine or €di planes to full self-consciousness of itself as divine ego, then as monad of divine life, and finally as the Divine itself (The Masters and the Path pp. 188-9).
An important topic to be noted here is the life of the ego after death. Leadbeater clarified and refined, in ways that show some influence of spiritualism, the theosophical view. In works like The Other Side of Death (1903) he pictured the postmortem separation of the subtle body, its experiences amid the strange and wonderful denizens of the astral plane, its repose in the mental plane DEVACHAN, and finally its reincarnate return.
But if the Divine in its own nature is impersonal, any uneasiness that notion might suggest is relieved by the Masters, who are described as far above ordinary humanity and who personify, as it were, the impersonal Divine. They range themselves on an intermediate level between humanity and the Ultimate. As painted by Leadbeater, who claimed to be in intimate contact with some of them, the Masters combine delightful personal traits with compassionate concern for guiding the evolution of the race, which is their major task in this world. But they do so in so subtle a way as to be consciously unseen by the eyes of most, in the way the sun causes the growth of plants; though they will take on individual students or CHELAS for special tutoring when such are prepared for it.
Leadbeater’s attitude toward morality and personal purity is best understood in connection with discipleship and the path, for it is in relation to personal spiritual evolution that its full purport is realized. In his writings Leadbeater often evokes a deep sense of compassion, yet just as strong for the spiritual path is importance of detachment from various forms of pollution, such as eating flesh or smoking tobacco. Lower astral beings are said to attach themselves with dire results to those who open themselves to their influence through bad thoughts, associations, or places. Objects carry “magnetism” that can be highly detrimental; that is especially true of animal products and things like polluted dishes, silverware, or money; or of places like restaurants, shows, and crowds in general; or of mental influences like novels and newspapers.
In The Hidden Side of Things (1923), there is an attractive parable which might suggest a correct balance. Two monks were particularly noted for their purity. The abbot, wanting to learn how they attained it, turned his clairvoyant sight on the pair one day in choir. He found that the first had surrounded himself with a shell of protection “as of glittering crystal,” so that when tempting demons, “impure thought-forms we should call them,” came at him, they struck against it and fell back. But then the abbot saw the second had built no shell, yet his heart “was so full of the love of God that it was perpetually radiating from him in all directions in the shape of torrents of love for his fellow men,” and in that wonderful outrush the demons had no way to enter. The second, the abbot considered, was nearer the kingdom of heaven than the first (pp. 350-1).
According to Leadbeater, and many other theosophical writers, the highest type of clairvoyance gives the clairvoyant direct and immediate access to the material that is expounded, and so dependence on other canons of authority, whether revelation, textual, institutional, scientific, rational, or the experience of others, is minimized; this is evident in his writings. There is reference to the books of Blavatsky and others, and to the whole tradition of Platonic, Neoplatonic, Gnostic. Kabbalist, Buddhist, and Vedantic thought which undergirds modern theosophy. But these sources are cited as cognate or confirmatory, but not exactly as verifications, of what is known through direct seeing.
Leadbeater never argued, never wavered, rarely retracted or admitted error. He simply went on telling what he saw with his clairvoyant sight, as though reporting objects viewed through a telescope, to companions without benefit of that lens. Certainly much of what Leadbeater saw is indeed congruent with what had been presented in the broader theosophical tradition, from the ancients through Blavatsky and William Q. JUDGE, as well as in some accounts from the annals of spiritualism, psychical research, and near-death experiences. But although there may have been unacknowledged influence (except for Blavatsky) from these sources, Leadbeater would have wanted his world view to be seen as fundamentally dependent on his own clairvoyance and his personal relationship with the Masters.
Assessment. By the accounts of virtually all who knew him, Charles Webster Leadbeater was a formidable figure. Tall, broad-shouldered, generally robust despite suffering from diabetes, possessed of flashing blue eyes and a flowing beard, with sparkling rings if not full episcopal garb, he was the sort of person who dominated every room he entered. He was thoroughly Victorian in manners and mentality, with the perfect self-confidence in his opinions of many men of his era. There was little capacity for questioning or self-analysis in this visionary. Bishop Sten von Krusenstierna of the Liberal Catholic Church, in his preface to the 1972 edition of The Inner Side of Christian Festivals, described the author, Leadbeater, in these terms: “His personality was that of a conservative Victorian gentleman, who at the same time could be very unconventional, both in ideas and behavior when he considered it right. . . . He would never defend himself against criticism, neither would he criticize others” (p. vi). What can we make of him now?
First, we must acknowledge that it is entirely appropriate to subject Leadbeater to the same kind of analysis as any other historical figure, despite any indication he might wish to have given himself that he ought to be above such critical analysis. Few today would, one imagines, hold that he was always right or incapable of any self-delusion. At the same time, it seems hardly necessary to hold that he was evil incarnate. According to Tillett, most of his former pupils have not persevered in his doctrines or practices, yet most have also maintained a sort of respect for him, or at least have not been willing to assert that he did any lasting harm, even in the controversial sexual matters. Like most of us, Leadbeater was neither saint nor total sinner, but a mixture of many strands. In the latter respect, his apologists argue that what he taught about masturbation is now accepted by most sex therapists.
Turning to Leadbeater’s construction of theosophy, in the end what can be said is that his was a work of clarifying in the manner of most religions — through myth and homily. It may be that few if any of his supposed clairvoyant observations have, or could have, empirical verification. But for many of those for whom the original theosophical world view has some sort of self-verifying resonance with what they sense is how things are, Leadbeater’s writing has often been most helpful. He is admittedly much easier for many people to read than the original texts of modern theosophy.
In large part this is because, like any good sermonizer, he uses homely examples, and he tells stories — stories which expand consciousness to the most inward and the farther dimensions imaginable, myths which connect theosophy to the myths of other religions, especially Christianity, and with their rites. He was a preacher and storyteller, not a philosopher or scholar. To be sure, he presented the word-pictures, the stories and the myths — of the hierarchies, the Masters, the inner planes, the life after death — as literally true, and no doubt for him they were, and true they may well be. He had no sense of such contemporary staples of thought about words and stories as critique in terms of myth, metaphor, model, or subtext. His persuasive strength lay in his impermeability to analysis on such levels, and so did his susceptibility to incredulity if not ridicule. There is none of the impressively complex learning in comparative mythology, philosophy, and science of Blavatsky’s great works, and none of the subtle sense of the multi-dimensionality of truth that give her labors their profundity and sometimes their movement beyond what can be well conveyed through words. In Leadbeater everything is just as it is, clear, distinct, and in vivid color, Leadbeater is a monumental presence in the history of theosophy, and it may be time for a balanced assessment of the man that goes beyond the polemics of his own time, or even the two or three generations after. He was one of the most remarkable men in theosophical history, and indeed of his times. He needs less to be compared to Blavatsky than taken and appreciated for what he was, in his own right. Let him be seen as a Columbus of the theosophical world, who saw much few had seen before, and who, though he may not have always rightly named or known what he discovered, was a worthy navigator. Let him be seen as a great theosophical storyteller, essentially true to his sources though, like any Homer or Virgil, adding something of his own time and character to them. Finally, let him be seen as a high priest, like any such of human clay unworthy of the mysteries committed to him, yet aware of their majesty.
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