The Words of the Perry Family

Theosophic Society

David Perry
July 20, 2000

I would like to tell you about a book I read. It's the French translation of an American book, "Madame Blavatsky's Baboon" by Peter Washington. It's a look at the Theosophic Society (TS) from it's creation by Blavatsky and Olcott to Krishnamurti's death.

I found it interesting on two different levels. The most obvious is the Comparison of the TS and the UC. Two movements based upon the spiritual communication of a charismatic leader, that must be accepted with unquestioning faith; spiritual communication being used to control and manipulate followers.

In the case of the TS we see the politics and in-fighting that take place before and after Blavatsky dies. There is one major splinter group that sets up on its own, the Universal Brotherhood of Katherine Tingley, and several people who came in contact with the TS and went their own way, Rudolf Steiner and Ouspensky. Ouspensky went on to follow Gurdjieff, who was in a similar orbit to the TS.

This book makes one wonder about the future of the UC. Will it become a small spiritualist group, made up mostly of older folk, accepted by society as a harmless group of esoterics? Will the GYW's major contribution be to stimulate others who break out of his orbit and build their own foundations.

But this book is also interesting as a history of esoteric spirituality of the past century. One by one these people, that have touched many in one way or another, are brought up; their ideas and visions presented, their shadow-sides brought out of the closet.

The person who comes out of it all the most attractive for me is Krishnamurti. His conclusion, after being controlled and manipulated for many years by the TS, was that each person has to find their own path. No guru, no messiah, no movement, can do it for them.

Everyone else was either using their movement to control others (Blavatsky, Tingley, Gurdjieff) or trying to discover "the system" for spiritual growth (Steiner, Ouspensky). While Steiner seems very sincere in his search, it remains too much of a "one size fits all" type of thing for me.

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