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No religion higher than truth by E.L. Gardner. Publisher T.P.H. - London 1963, 24 pages

Under the title "No religion higher than truth", the well-known motto of the T.S., the author, one of the few remaining wise and scholarly writers in our society, who knew all our great leaders intimately and in close proximity, published a booklet which maybe will hit like lightning and destroy much that is held as dear and holy. The gentlemen V. Wallace Slater and L.H. Leslie-Smith, also prominent persons in our movement, have helped him in the composition of this booklet.

[30] Mr. Gardner poses the question to what extent the statements of Mr. C.W. Leadbeater in the era of 1910 till 1930, which have had a tremendous influence on the spirit of the society and led to the foundation of the Order of the Star in the East and the Liberal Catholic Church, were based on truth, i.e. on true statements by one of the Greatest of the occult Hierarchy, whom he presented as Lord Maitreya, the Bodhisattva or the Christ, or if all he stated was merely the result of a strong imagination, which he took in all honesty as concrete reality. Gardner's reasoning is based on the study of the very difficult theme of Unconscious Kriyashakti, a psychic phenomenon that received very much attention from depth psychology under the concept of subliminal self-projection. It is the cause of psychological deviances of very gifted and highly developed persons.

Gardner thinks to have convincing proof that this was the case with C.W. Leadbeater and makes us aware of the tremendous dangers of this phenomenon, against which both H.P.B. and the Masters and Dr. Besant have warned us explicitly. He thinks and presents facts, that C.W. Leadbeater was the victim of self-projection and thereby did drag the T.S. in a catastrophic mistake, the calamitous results of which are still operative and causes great damage to the society.

The great mistake, which became the reason for the formation of the Order of the Star in the East, could be halted by the decisive and sharp rejection in 1930 by Krishnamurti himself. In that year the whole edifice fell apart. The big stadium in Sydney was sold, the estate and castle in Eerde were given back to its original owner, all publications halted, the Star-shops closed and all propaganda definitely stopped. All ended, because the great mistake was seen through and openly acknowledged.

This was not the case with the Liberal Catholic Church because there was obviously nobody who could act publicly to denounce the movement and put the mistake right. The LCC thus continued its work and still has many faithful followers. Gardner describes in dramatic fashion how Dr. Besant shut down her occult powers in connection with her political work for India. She then put unlimited and blind faith in the powers and unimpeachable honesty and sincerity of C.W.L., not aware that even very Great Ones can fall victim to the wiles and tricks of unconscious Kriyashakti. Gardner recounts how Dr. Besant in 1930 during a meeting with bishops Leadbeater and Wedgwood apparently suddenly realized what had happened and saw through the catastrophe. How terribly the thought must have pained her that she might have been the only one who could have prevented this accident from happening if she had stayed alert and had not blindly accepted, even endorsed, what Mgr. Leadbeater stated and which was accepted in good faith by most members of the T.S. She still could participate in the dismantling of the Order of the Star, but in relation to the LCC her insight came too late. This shock and the political setback by Gandhi's actions in India were too much for this tremendous and indomitable woman. Shortly thereafter she collapsed both physically as well as mentally by the inner tensions and she left her mortal coil several years later in 1933. The booklet is indeed painful reading-matter, but we cannot serve the truth by closing our eyes to the facts, because then we will be easy prey to the dark powers, which serve ignorance. Alert and critical should be our motto and personally I think that we have often failed in that and have accepted and went along by only faith and trust. Indeed I am convinced that Mr. C.W. Leadbeater deserved the full 100% of our confidence. I do not belief there are many people in this world who can be set at the same level as this great Occultist as far as honesty, sincerity, love of truth, faith and complete selflessness. Mr. Gardner doesn't doubt that either. Therefore the guilt of these happenings is maybe more due to us who accepted without critical thought, than the great Seer, who was not aware of all the dangers coming with his clairvoyance, because he was alone in his investigations.

But it seems to me that it is our duty to face all of this [31] and not avert our gaze, saying: "It has happened and we cannot do anything about it anymore". Because others-outside our Adyar Theosophical Society-will not refrain from using this publication to ask us how we will process all this and bring it to a good solution. All those who in the very first place feel to be members of the T.S. will have to take cognizance of the content of this booklet, without prejudice, an open mind, accepting the truth in whatever form it comes to us, how much pain it might incur to keep following her Light and accept the probably bitter consequences of an honest mistake. Because, if we as T.S. members do not realize that the motto: "better turned around half way than lost the whole way", is applicable to us, as well as to anybody else, then we will not have stayed faithful to the motto of our society: Satyan n' asti paroh Dharma and we will have to reject all compromise with such most decisively.

In The Theosophist of October is an article by N. Yagnesvara Sastry, titled "Limitations of Occultism", in which the dangers of clairvoyance are clearly analyzed, also in relation to the occult statements by different luminaries in our T.S. We will soon publish a translation of that article in Theosophia.

[A.J.H. van Leeuwen]



In connection with the so-called review of the pamphlet by E.L. Gardner: "No religion higher than truth", I think I have to express a serious objection:

1st against the assumption-because it is not more than that-that Bishop Leadbeater, as br. A.J.H. van Leeuwen writes: "was the victim of self-projection and thereby did drag the T.S. in a catastrophic mistake, the calamitous results of which are still operative and causes great damage to the society". (Theosofia, Jan. '64, p. 30).

Mr. E.L. Gardner has not given any single "convincing proof" of that, but merely offered his own opinions;

2nd because the developments around the situation with Krishnamurti and the Star camps has taken turns different from what most members expected (and about which both Dr. Besant and Bishop Leadbeater have warned us repeatedly), does not mean that Bishop Leadbeater made a "great mistake."

Mr. Gardner even writes in his pamphlet that he is convinced about the great clairvoyance and honesty of Mgr. Leadbeater; that it is a fact that C.W.L. did discover Krishnamurti by way of his clairvoyance as an extraordinarily gifted child; that both Dr. Besant and Mgr. Leadbeater took Krishnamurti out of his Indian surroundings and gave him and Mister C. Jinarajadasa the education, without interfering in the development of his consciousness, to prepare him for his later task. Moreover Mister Gardner acknowledges that Krishnamurti has indeed developed into an independent thinker, with a big influence in these days on the thinking public. Only some of our great leaders in close proximity to Krishnamurti and he himself exactly know what has happened, and I am sorry to say that I cannot count Mr. Gardner-with all respect for his books, which are mostly based on the study of "The Secret Doctrine"-amongst the few who can have a correct judgement about what happened in those days.

And exactly therefore I have the opinion that it is quite lamentable that the 94 or 95-year-old mister Gardner had to drag up after so many years a very old happening of 30 years ago. If he is convinced of his criticism, why didn't he write about that earlier?;

3rd I have to protest against the article as written by br. A. van Leeuwen. The foundation of the liberal Catholic Church of ca. 1916 has nothing to do with the Star camps;

4th "The great mistake, which became the reason for the formation of the Order of the Star in the East, could be halted by the decisive and sharp rejection in 1930 by Krishnamurti himself." Writes br. Van Leeuwen. In my opinion these words paint a completely wrong picture of the said Order. The Order of the Star in the East was originally founded as preparation for the work of Krishnamurti. When he started acting independently it was left to him how he would lead further the movement. The Order of the Star in the East was then dissolved because the time of preparation was over and the name was changed into The Order of the Star. I was witness to these developments when I participated in the Star camps every year from 1926 till 1936. After two years Krishnamurti dissolved this Order because thousands of people joined this Order thinking that thereby they would be in the proximity to the "World Teacher". Krishnamurti himself announced that that was not the intention at all; he did not look for followers. "If there are two or three people in this world, who understand my message, that would be sufficient to me."

5th "Others-outside our Adyar Theosophical Society-will wonder how we will process all this and bring it to a good solution", writes br. Van Leeuwen on p. 31. That is for me and many others no problem at all for which a "good solution" has to be found. When somebody creates a "problem" through, in my opinion, faulty interpretation, then we can leave that easily aside. The booklet is indeed "painful reading-matter"; for whom? For Mr. E.L. Gardner himself; many will wonder how it is possible that Gardner would be so unfair to blame only C.W.L., who cannot defend himself anymore.

In "The Liberal Catholic" will appear (or already appeared) an article by Bishop Vreede, which will be translated for the "Vrij Katholiek." I hope the editors of Theosofia will also publish it.

6th About the meaning of Kriyashakti one can find a lot in "The Secret Doctrine". It is a creative force, which only very high adepts possess and which cannot be compared with "subliminal self-projection". Mr. Gardner has indeed written a general article for "The Theosophist" of July '63 about "Kriyashakti Conscious or Unconscious" and br. Sri Ram dedicated some thoughts to it in "The Watchtower" as a warning to accept "messages from the Masters", coming from all kinds of people. In both articles no reference was made to Bishop Leadbeater.

7th I agree with br. Van Leeuwen that foremost we have to stand for the Truth. But this "Truth" is not dependent on statements coming from one person. In that regard I have always observed the three last sentences from "Light on the Path":

"Hold fast to that which has neither substance nor existence.
Listen only to the voice which is soundless.
Look only on that which is invisible alike to the inner and the outer sense."

If one abides by these rules, one can never be shocked by anybody.

W.C. Burger

Response to the above "letter".

That the review, and later also the brochure (pamphlet in the Dutch language is an ugly word), of Mr. Gardner would elicit reactions was to be expected and I am convinced that the writer and both his helpers, Mr. Slater and Mr. Leslie-Smith, did not expect, even maybe hoped, anything else, when this booklet was put together. To me it doesn't seem friendly to insinuate, because the author is 94 or 95 years old. Where do we have to draw the age-limit to consider somebody still "fully" capable? 85 or even lower? Isn't the issue how and what the author writes and not his age? Actually Gardner provides the reason why he couldn't do it earlier and why he could do it only now….

There is no reason for me to refute the above "protest". In my opinion it was written rather recklessly as a reaction to being "shocked", which is understandable and forgivable.

I can not give any other advice than to read the booklet, with an open mind, therefore especially unprejudiced. Sometimes that is difficult because one is not aware of one's own prejudices. Even more difficult is that when one is-direct or tangentially-involved in the problem. It has to be tried.

A.J.H. van Leeuwen

N.B.: According to [the Dutch dictionary] Van Dale pamphlet now means a libel, skit or lampoon. To lampoon means to deride, scold and disparage. I do not think we may ascribe such inferior motives to Mr. Gardner and his associates.


The review appeared in the magazine Theosofia (January 1964) of the Dutch section of The Theosophical Society (Adyar). The subsequent letter and response appeared in the March 1964 issue.

Translated from Dutch by Govert Schuller.

The full text of the booklet reviewed, E.L. Gardner's booklet "No religion higher than truth," can be found here.



Copyright © 2001 - G.W. Schüller