Site for Esoteric History 

The State of the TS (Adyar) in 2008: A Psycho-esoteric Interpretation (draft)

Govert Schuller

All organizations, and maybe spiritual ones more so than others, suffer from the 'human, all too human' aspect. Maybe 'suffer' is too strong or incorrect a term to use. I think the idea is that, especially in organizations sponsored by the Masters, the human side is pushed into the open to be transformed, not only for the sake of the individual and his/her spiritual evolution, but also for the sake of the efficacy of the organization as a tool to spread Their teachings.

I also think that these opportunities for transformation come and go cyclically and are either of a personal kind or, more collectively, come for the whole organization. I think that the TS (Adyar), with ups and downs, did manage to grow through individual and collective transformations till the fateful days of Krishnamurti's abdication. First some Theosophists lost it in the face of K's teachings around 1925 (for example the "Huizen manifestation"), then K himself lost it around 1927, and then the whole of the TS lost it when K dissolved the Order of the Star in 1929. Therefore, imo, all failed and the consequences were dire for the world. In my pamphlet on the Masters and their emissaries I wrote:

"Through Theosophists Cyril Scott and David Anrias, the Adepts communicated their evaluation of the project and declared it an almost complete failure. Krishnamurti caused so much confusion in the ranks of the Theosophists, that the Theosophical Society was disqualified as the spearhead of the work of the Adepts. … Three months after Krishnamurti had dissolved the Order of the Star, the crash on the New York Stock Exchange happened. This event was the starting point of an unprecedented disastrous sixteen-year-cycle of economic depression, militarism, fascism and war, culminating in the Holocaust and the use of the atomic bomb. This was no coincidence. One of its main causes was the earlier mentioned confusion amongst many advanced souls. They were not able anymore to keep the forces of darkness at bay."

So, how did the TS collectively deal with this? Initially there was a healthy distancing between the TS and K under the presidency of Arundale, but because Arundale was one of those who were problematic in the first place, his leadership was not necessarily helpful in processing the failed world teacher project. The next president, Jinarajadasa, was more neutral towards K policy-wise and actually, on a personal level, was offering to come to work for K if he would accept him. Later, with Sri Ram and especially Radha Burnier, the TS came into a more open reconciliation with K, which was good, but it went too far in that it engendered the increasingly held perception that K did not fail and that it was only the TS that was to blame. I obviously disagree with that assessment and with me are many more, though so far only Hodson's pupil William Keidan has come clearly into the open in support of a critical position regarding K. I know others keep silent (except Anand Gholap), partially because the un-official party line in the TS (Adyar) is perceived as pro-K.

My explanation from a psychological point of view for the somewhat sorry state of the TS these days is that its membership actually still is in a state of collective spiritual shock because of the failed world teacher project. It is still in a state of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is clouding its vision and is creating the tendency towards only blaming itself and idealizing K, not unlike-and this might sound very harsh, but the structural congruency is striking-the battered wife who keeps coming back to her husband, blaming herself for her being abused and still looking for comfort with her husband. (BTW abused person syndrome is a sub-category of PTSD). And every member is participating in this drama in his/her own unique way, whether they know it or not and regardless of their position on Krishnamurti.

For what Theosophists had to endure from K starting in the late 1920s the following comparison of Theosophical and Krishnamurtian positions will be helpful to get an empathetic understanding of their troubled relationship:

Comparison between Theosophy and Krishnamurti

It is in this psycho-esoteric framework I now understand the often-repeated claim that K actually did the TS a favor through his iconoclasm and harsh criticism, something I found always somewhat puzzling till I put it in a more psychological context and see it as an evasive re-interpretation to cope with K's abusive message. With the syndrome also comes a dismissive or even aggressive stance towards anybody offering help. The concrete help I'm referring to is the one offered by the Masters through Cyril Scott and David Anrias and their early 1930s esoteric assessments of K. For more than 75 years these possibly curative insights have never been properly processed by the TS. The only notable exception of a Theosophist engaging the Scott-Anrias oeuvre is Jean Overton Fuller, but she comes down on the side of K and dismisses his two critics as not having understood him properly. When I asked a prominent theosophist about Scott's and Anrias' work I received a completely unexpected aggressive answer that left me speechless. Now I understand.

Another unfortunate side-effect of this state of the TS is that it missed the opportunity to recognize the moves by the Masters in the last quarter of the 20th century, a subject that has been certainly on the minds of some Theosophists as HPB made it clear that the Masters take discernable actions at those last 25 years of each century.

The question now is, that-if the foregoing psycho-esoteric interpretation of the history of the TS in its relation to the world teacher project with Krishnamurti is plausible enough to ponder-what possible implications might that have? This question is especially important as far as the election for the presidency of the TS is concerned. Finally we, the rank and file of the organization, have a choice amongst candidates and thereby have an opportunity to make our voices heard through our ballots. But what are the differences between the two candidates as far as proposed policies? From their "bio-data" provided with the ballots nothing much can be inferred. Therefore I have to fall back on trying to gage their position on this very important subject of Krishnamurti and the world teacher project and weigh which candidate I think might be better, or less bad, in moving the society towards a more balanced, independent position regarding Krishnamurti.

Fortunately we can know their respective perceptions of Krishnamurti. Radha Burnier basically sees K as the expected Messiah and the TS as initially having failed to recognize him as such. John Algeo is more agnostic about K's metaphysical status and actually warned against the tendency to idealize K with the possibility of the TS creating a new kind of sectarianism. Ergo, I will vote for John Algeo. Of course the health issue and the attitude towards technology are also important in this election, but, for me, they pale in significance in comparison with the Krishnamurti issue.

At the same time Algeo might not make a big difference in this regard as it is up to the thinkers in the field to work out the questions regarding K's metaphysical status and to test the apparent operative assumption in the TS leadership that a fusion is feasible between the Theosophical and Krishnamurtian paradigms. I hope, and will work at, the logical conclusion that this fusion is actually not feasible as Krishnamurti himself, and some of his students, especially Hans and Radhika Herzberger, have indicated. Maybe thereafter the realization will set in that a different, more esoteric, Theosophical angle, represented by Scott, Anrias and Hodson, will have to be developed to properly process Krishnamurti, but that might take a while.


Originally posted here on May 16, 2008 on "The Theosophical Society: A forum for the discussion of institutional issues."



Copyright © 2001 - G.W. Schüller