[A Critical Look at the Claims and Teachings of Alice A. Bailey]
by Nicholas Weeks
[This article is a revised and expanded version of one that appeared in the Summer 1997 issue
of Fohat, a Theosophical magazine published in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.]
Men must learn to love the truth before they thoroughly believe it. (1)
This article is intended mainly for those attracted to the New Age books of Alice A. Bailey. Her claim that her teachings came from the same Occult Brotherhood that taught HP Blavatsky, the founder of the modern Theosophical Movement, is not valid. This short piece is not about whether Bailey's writings are inspiring, wonderful or contain any truth; but simply whether HPB and AAB had the same mentors, as claimed by Bailey. Bailey's guide professed to be the same Djual Khool that was one of HPB's teachers. Bailey also declared that her guru was the same Master Koot Hoomi that Blavatsky knew. This paper will propose that the so-called Tibetan and the Hierarchy of Masters portrayed in Bailey's books, were not Djual Khool and the Adept Brotherhood known to HPB.
Bailey asserted that her teachings are grounded in and do not oppose in any fundamental way Theosophy as lived and taught by HPB and her Gurus. This assertion is false. Her books are rooted in the pseudo-theosophy pioneered by CW Leadbeater. For example, one of CWL's favorite revelations was the return to earth of "Maitreya" the Christ. Bailey accepted this fantasy. She placed an immense spiritual value on the Great Invocation (2) which is supposed to induce Christ and his Masters to leave their hidden ashrams, enter into major cities and begin to dictate the redemption of Aquarian society. Contrariwise, the Theosophy of HPB and her Gurus emphasizes reliance on the Christos principle within each person. As Blavatsky explained: "[Christian theology] enforces belief in the Descent of the Spiritual Ego into the Lower Self; [Theosophy] inculcates the necessity of endeavouring to elevate oneself to the Christos... state." (3) The discovery and altruistic expression of our innate divinity uplifts each individual and thus, very slowly, all of humanity.
Channels such as Bailey are sincere and convinced that their inner voices and visions are real Masters. Unhappily, sincerity is no protection from delusion. In 1884 Master KH wrote to a psychic of that time, giving an explanation for the befuddling of a channel or seer.
Since you have scarcely learned the elements of self-control, in psychism, you must suffer bad consequences. You draw to yourself the nearest and strongest influences " often evil " and absorb them, and are psychically stifled or narcotised by them. The airs become peopled with resuscitated phantoms. They give you false tokens, misleading revelations, deceptive images. Your vivid creative fancy evokes illusive Gurus and chelas [disciples], and puts into their mouths words coined the instant before in the mint of your mind, unknown to yourself. The false appear as real, as the true, and you have no exact method of detection since you are yet prone to force your communications to agree with your preconceptions. (4)
Efforts to discern reality from illusion must not be confined to our study and meditation times, but should also pervade our ordinary daily life. Should devotees of Bailey wish to compare closely the main principles of real Theosophy with their present faith, they might consider using some of the three methods mentioned in this article. Hopefully, followers of Bailey will not rely exclusively on her own explanations. Surely, if she really teaches the same basic Theosophy as HPB, one could resolve any conflicts between their teachings without acceding to AAB's every proclamation. The template of basic Theosophy is in the original writings of HPB and her Gurus. Bailey's key teachings must match this template or they cannot be from the same sources that taught HPB.
1) Contrast primary goals and objectives. One such purpose of the real Brotherhood was expressed by Koot Hoomi, the actual Guru of Djual Khool and supposed mentor of Bailey's Tibetan guide.
The God of the Theologians is simply an imaginary power... Our chief aim is to deliver humanity of this nightmare, to teach man virtue for its own sake, and to walk in life relying on himself instead of leaning on a theological crutch, that for countless ages was the direct cause of nearly all human misery... The best Adepts have searched the Universe during millenniums and found nowhere the slightest trace of [God], but throughout, the same immutable, inexorable law. (5)
Bailey's Tibetan theologian (the supposed disciple of KH, the author of the passage above) gives his view of deity and law.
A law presupposes a superior being who, gifted with purpose, and aided by intelligence, is so coordinating his forces that a plan is being... matured... A law is but the spiritual impulse, incentive and life manifestation of that Being in which [a person] lives and moves. [A law] which is sweeping him and all God's creatures on to a glorious consummation. (6)
This superior being is gifted and aided from the Supreme Being with purpose and intelligence, no self-induced evolution needed for him. This deity is certainly a law unto himself, which is just what the Church has preached for hundreds of years. God's law will simply sweep all of us up and away to some sublime end. One just needs to "pass... through himself as much of that [Being's] spiritual life impulse" (7) as one can. This New Age theology sounds familiar. Her Tibetan has just replaced that old, prosaic God and His angelic cloud of witnesses with the Solar Logos and his devas. Jesus and his disciples are supplanted by Maitreya Christ and his disciples, the Masters of the Hierarchy.
But does the problem of personal God or impersonal Principle really matter? The Master Koot Hoomi answered a similar query long ago.
You say it matters nothing whether these laws are the expression of the will of an intelligent conscious God, as you think, or constitute the inevitable attributes of an unintelligent, unconscious "God," as I hold. I say, it matters everything... Immutable laws cannot arise, since they are eternal and uncreated; propelled in the Eternity and... God himself, if such a thing existed, could never have the power of stopping them. (8)
Koot Hoomi also wrote that the "very ABC of what I know" and "the rock upon which the secrets of the occult universe" are "encrusted" is the certainty of there being no personal God, only the infinite mind's "regular unconscious throbbings of the eternal and universal pulse of Nature." (9)
Bailey's view that the Theosophical Movement revolves around humanity invoking an avatar and his hierarchy is foreign and opposed to Theosophy as taught by HPB and the Adepts. Theosophists "try to replace fruitless and useless prayer by meritorious and good-producing actions." (10) Bailey recommended chanting the Great Invocation to supplicate and vacuum forth from their high plane, our saviors, the Christ and his Masters. As if Masters and avatars are too nonchalant, ignorant of mankind's trials or powerless to come forth and help us, without millions first imploring them. Granted, the question of why and how avatars descend is profound. HPB's teachings mention causes and conditions such as a divine seed for all avatars, certain time cycles and the Spiritual Sun being a source. (11) Bhavani Shankar, a disciple of KH, wrote that the Divine Principle sometimes responds to someone attaining high Adeptship by sending forth an avatar. (12) As for the Occult Brotherhood encouraging humanity to pray for (and even supplying the invocation for) avatars and Masters to come forth and usher in the New Age, real Theosophy says: "work is prayer." (13) While entreaty by the suffering masses for divine aid (with or without the Great Invocation) is an understandable, ancient attitude, it has no invocative pull on avatars or Adepts, as Bailey suggests. The Occult Brotherhood knows the karmic cycles of mankind and is constantly helping us; even supplying avatars when karma permits, not just when we want them. Many people are eager to have a constant presence of godly elder brothers guiding their lives and civilization; which happens to be just what Bailey and Leadbeater and much of the New Age promises, thus its popularity. Spiritual evolution, says Theosophy, takes place because of our "self-induced and self-devised efforts," (14) not from our prayers and invocations for Christ and his Hierarchy to govern civilization.
Unlike a traditional view of avatars, such as found in the Bhagavad Gita (4, 6-8) which says the Lord comes when virtue is almost extinct, Bailey's advisor teaches that the Christ will come only after humanity has shown good faith by refining itself psychically and socially. Much of Bailey's writings revolve around preparing the reader for this advent by urging purificatory study and meditation on, and proclamation of, the reappearing Christ and his Masters. This preparation requires extensive reading and pondering on the occult technology of this world's political and social relations, plus initiation, psychology, telepathy, astrology, healing, the seven rays, etc. Her books inform us about the Hierarchy, (of this planet, of the solar system, of Sirius and beyond) its constitution, work, goals, principal members and their projects. The Brotherhood known to HPB was not called "Occult" for nothing; very little was given out about Them. Nor were comprehensive, detailed volumes on occult subjects furnished by HPB; unlike Bailey's artificial esoteric treatises. Why? Because pondering on descriptions of superior beings and the occult side of the universe will be of very little help spiritually. Furthermore, if the teachings are patently spurious, as Bailey's are, our imagination is stimulated and overfilled with images and concepts that lead us far away from the real Adepts and our rightful spiritual destiny. This trumpeting of Christ's arrival with his Hierarchy has been going on for many decades. Surely when a genuine avatar descends he is not announced by thousands of promoters wailing and hailing for years beforehand. HPB wrote that to draw near the Masters "can only be done by rising to the spiritual plane where the Masters are, and not by attempting to draw them down to ours." (15)
Consider another HPB quote and note the spiritual self-reliance and impersonal nature of divinity advanced.
Each human being is an incarnation of his God [Higher Self]... As many men on earth, so many Gods in Heaven; and yet these Gods are in reality One, for at the end of every period of activity, they are withdrawn like the rays of the setting sun into the Parent Luminary, the Non-Manifested Logos, which in its turn is merged into the One Absolute... Our prayers and supplications are vain, unless to potential words we add potent acts, and make the aura which surrounds each one of us so pure and divine that the God within us may act outwardly... [A] prayer, unless pronounced mentally and addressed to one's "Father" in the silence and solitude of one's "closet," must have more frequently disastrous than beneficial results... (16)
The fact that for thousands of years most people have not worshipped their own inner divinity as suggested above, is one reason why the Theosophical Movement was reborn a century ago, to try to counter this separative tendency to invoke an external, personal deity. Since Bailey's Great Invocation is to be droned by the masses in this conventional way, it opposes the self-reliant, philosophically atheistic attitude (and silent practice) suggested by the Brotherhood. This is another point in favor of Bailey's guide not being Djual Khool.
So what should a follower of Theosophy rely on (and recommend to others) to subdue their passions and selfishness and thus foster planetary redemption? "His Higher Self, the divine spirit, or the God in him, and...his Karma." (17) Karma means altruism in thought, word and deed now. It means practicing "virtue for its own sake," not in order to speed the descent of Christ and the Hierarchy. To put it simply, as one of the Masters wrote to Olcott in the 1870s: "Act as though we had no existence. Do your duty as you see it and leave the results to take care of themselves. Expect nothing from us, yet be ready for anything." (18)
A letter from an Adept to Annie Besant warned her about the worshipful attitude towards the Masters developing in her Theosophical Society. Bailey was critical of the TS and yet the jargon and gush she wrote about the Hierarchy over 30 years (1919- 49) was as bad, if not worse, than that in the TS of the same period. The Adept wrote:
Is the worship of a new Trinity made up of the Blessed M[orya], Upasika [HPB] and yourself [Besant] to take the place of exploded creeds? We ask not for the worship of ourselves... The cant about "Masters" must be silently but firmly put down. Let the devotion and service be to that Supreme Spirit alone of which one is a part. Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to ourselves and the repetition of our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work. (19)
This Trinity of HPB, M and AB was (thankfully) never put forward by Bailey. Instead she chose the fantastic Triune God of Manu, Mahachohan and the Bodhisattva, another revelation from CW Leadbeater. If the Adepts' work was being hindered by the "confused aura" exuded by the references to themselves in 1900, ponder how much their work, up to the present time, must have been thwarted by Bailey's books, Great Invocation, Arcane School etc.
2) Contrast key terms or themes. One of the most pervasive themes in AAB's work and writing is the feverish pursuit of spiritual status. Her Tibetan's first two books (20) were dedicated to initiation and occult meditation. Several other books focussed exclusively on her variant of discipleship and the spiritual path. Nearly every text she channelled is strongly colored by an advocacy of discipleship. After less than five years of being the medium for her Tibetan, she formed the Arcane School. This school is just the sort of nursery for occultists HPB's Gurus would have nothing to do with. Bailey's book on occult meditation even gives the floor plan and curriculum for a prophesied occult college. Master KH wrote that one "who is not as pure as a young child had better leave chelaship alone." (21) Blavatsky told the American theosophists:
The [Theosophical] Society was not founded as a nursery for forcing a supply of Occultists - as a factory for the manufacture of Adepts. It was intended to stem the current of materialism... By "materialism" is meant not only an anti-philosophical negation of pure spirit, and, even more, materialism in conduct and action... but also the fruits of a disbelief in all but material things... A disbelief which has led many... into a blind belief in the materialization of Spirit. (22)
The Secret Doctrine mentions the "depraved tastes" of humanity that craves "the materialization of the ever-immaterial and Unknowable Principle." (23) Alice Bailey's writings cater to the human weakness for having divinity and divine fields made understandable to our personal mind. Rather than uplift our personal awareness to our actual spiritual nature and know Spirit in truth, most of us prefer the comfortable fiction.
Another key theme is the nature and relationship to humanity, of the Occult Brotherhood. According to Bailey one of the prime aims of the Hierarchy was to prepare humanity for the reappearance of the Christ. (24) In addition to Christ's Second Coming there will be an externalization of the Hierarchy. Part of this advent involves several of the Masters descending from the etheric plane and taking up lodgings in various cities around the globe. An entire book, (25) plus many passages in her other tomes, expound on this theme. The Masters, as dutiful planetary civil servants, will apportion tasks concerning economics, religion, education, etc. amongst themselves. At that point they will proceed with the task of directing the planned new world order.
On the other hand, HPB and her Gurus present the Brotherhood as quite aloof from society's affairs. Which is not surprising since they are liberated from self-centered, worldly concerns and have no interest in greasing the wheels of our banal, materialistic civilization. As Bodhisattvas They do help, but being creatures of the immutable Law of Karma, "can not stop the world from going in its destined direction." (26) HPB wrote:
The more spiritual the Adept becomes, the less can he meddle with mundane, gross affairs and the more he has to confine himself to a spiritual work... The very high Adepts, therefore, do help humanity, but only spiritually: they are constitutionally incapable of meddling with worldly affairs... It is only the chelas that can live in the world, until they rise to a certain degree. (27)
3) Contrast methods of teaching. This is not a new debate. With respect to Bailey's insular teaching method, which uses constant declaration with little or no supporting evidence, here is what Alice Cleather, a member of HPB's Inner Group, wrote in 1929:
Boiled down, what does it all amount to? Simply Mrs. Bailey's calm, unchecked (and uncheckable) assertions, for the validity of which she claims the equally unchecked (and uncheckable) "authority" of her "Tibetan". (28)
The late Victor Endersby pointed out:
There is a gulf as wide as the world between the presentation by H.P.B. and that of Bailey, in the matter of mode alone. H.P.B.'s was accompanied by voluminous evidence from many sources... Nothing of this appears in the Bailey output... the entire structure rests on her ipse dixit (29) alone. One thing is certain: whatever her "K.H." and "Djwhal Khul" may have been, they were not the mentors of H.P.B. That much is surely proven by the texts as anything could be. (30)
In 1882 HPB's Master Morya wrote:
A constant sense of abject dependence upon a Deity which he regards as the sole source of power makes a man lose all self-reliance and the spurs to activity and initiative. Having begun by creating a father and guide unto himself, he becomes like a boy and remains so to his old age, expecting to be led by the hand on the smallest as well as the greatest events of life... The Founders (31) prayed to no Deity in beginning the Theosophical Society, nor asked his help since. Are we expected to become ... nursing mothers...? Did we help the Founders? No; they were helped by the inspiration of self-reliance, and sustained by their reverence for the rights of man, and their love for a country [India]... Your sins? The greatest of them is your fathering upon your God the task of purging you of them. This is no creditable piety, but an indolent and selfish weakness. Though vanity would whisper to the contrary, heed only your common sense. (32)
Although the "sinners" mentioned by Morya were some Hindus of a century ago, Alice Bailey, her Tibetan and their followers share the same habit, fathering upon their Hierarchy and Planetary Logos, their indolent and selfish wish that Sanat Kumara, Christ and the Masters will purge humanity of sin.
These are just a few of the topics (barely touched on) that must be studied closely by those who wish to understand how inimical Theosophy and pseudo-theosophy are.
1. Blavatsky: Collected Writings Theosophical Publishing House,
vol. 11, 49.
2. It can be found in any of Bailey's books.
3. The Key to Theosophy, Theosophical University Press, 155.
4. From an unpublished portion of a KH letter to Laura Holloway; written in the summer of 1884.
5. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett 2nd. ed., TUP, 53, 142- 43.
6. A Treatise on White Magic, Lucis Publishing 10-11.
7. Op. Cit.
8. The Mahatma Letters, 143, 141.
9. Ibid 143, 138.
10. The Key to Theosophy, 70.
11. See Blavatsky: Collected Writings, vol. 14 and The Secret Doctrine.
12. See The Doctrine of the Bhagavad Gita, Concord Grove Press, chapter III.
13. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, vol. 9, 69.
14. The Secret Doctrine, TUP, vol. 1, 17.
15. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, vol. 12, 492.
16. Ibid, 533-35.
17. The Key to Theosophy, 73.
18. "Address of the President-Founder," The Theosophist, Aug. 1906, 829-30.
19. The Eclectic Theosophist, Sep./Oct. 1987.
20. Initiation Human and Solar and Letters on Occult Meditation.
21. Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, TPH, 1948, 34.
22. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, vol. 9, 244.
23. Volume II, 503.
24. As witness her book The Reappearance of the Christ, Lucis Publishing, 1948.
25. See her The Externalization of the Hierarchy.
26. The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in Chronlogical Sequence, TPH, 1993, 474.
27. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, vol. 6, 247.
28. Quoted in Theosophical Notes Special Paper, Sept. 1963, 14.
29. Latin -- he himself said it: an assertion made but not proved.
30. Theosophical Notes Special Paper, Sept. 1963, 40.
31. HP Blavatsky, WQ Judge and HS Olcott.
32. Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series, 107.
Theosophical Claims after HPB's Death