Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

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Ananda Metteyya [Charles Henry Allan Bennett]: The First British Emissary of Buddhism [Excerpt]
by Elizabeth J. Harris
Secretary for Inter-faith Relations for The Methodist Church in London. She holds a doctorate in Buddhist studies from the University of Kelaniya and co-produced the recent BBC series, "The Path of the Buddha".
Collected Wheel Publications, Volume XXVII: Numbers 412-430
by Y. Karunadasa, Susan Elbaum Jootla, John D. Ireland, Ananda W.P. Guruge, Elizabeth J. Harris, Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano, Ashin Ottama, Bhikkhu Nanamoli



Chapter 1: Ananda Metteyya: A Dedicated Life

His face was the most significant that I have ever seen. Twenty years of physical suffering had twisted and scored it: a lifetime of meditation upon universal love had imparted to it an expression that was unmistakable. His colour was almost dusky, and his eyes had the soft glow of dark amber … Above all, at the moment of meeting and always thereafter, I was conscious of a tender and far-shining emanation, an unvarying psychic sunlight, that environed his personality.1

Clifford Bax, artist and dramatist, wrote these words after meeting Ananda Metteyya in 1918. A sick man incapacitated by asthma for weeks at a time, he was then wearing the clothes of a lay person and had reverted to his civilian name, Allan Bennett. Yet, ten years earlier, as the Venerable Ananda Metteyya, he had led the first Buddhist mission to England from Burma. The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland had been formed to prepare the way for him.

See e.g. Harris (1998). The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland (BSGBI) was  founded by T. W. Rhys-Davids and others in November 1907 solely in anticipation of Bennett‘s  arrival and the BSGBI is similarly regarded as the first of its kind.

-- The First Buddhist Mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892, by Brian Bocking, University College Cork; Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland Maynooth; and Shin‘ichi Yoshinaga, Maizuru National College of Technology

Bennett, in fact, was the second British person to take on the robes of a Buddhist monk and his influence on Buddhism in Britain in the first decades of the twentieth century was deep.

Even within his own lifetime Allan Bennet
was a controversial figure. In 1894, he joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a society concerned with spiritual growth through esoteric knowledge. He gained a reputation as a magician and a man of mystery, which was not completely shaken off even when he embraced Buddhism several years later. In the early years of the twentieth century, he was much praised by Western Buddhists. Yet, as time passed, he became more and more marginalized as asthma took an ever deepening grip on his life, leading to dependency on drugs. By 1916, his case is described as a “sad” one by The Buddhist Review, published by The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland. In 1917-18, he managed to give a series of lectures and when he died in 1923, he was the acting Honorary Secretary of The Buddhist Society. Yet, his final years were marked by poverty. Clifford Bax wrote in the conclusion of his 1918 article:

As a Buddhist, he was an alert and powerful personality: as Allan Bennett, a poor man, dwelling unknown in London, he was a sick creature prematurely old. As he was putting on his overcoat, I heard Meena Gunn saying, “Why it’s riddled with moths,” and Bennett responding, “They’re such pretty little things,” and Meena continuing, “Some day we must get you a new one: this coat is too full of holes,” and Bennett answering, shy of his pun, “But, you see, I’m supposed to be a holy man.”2

Bennett was buried without a memorial stone in Morden cemetery. His lifelong friend, Dr. Cassius Pereira, wrote:

And now the worker has, for this life, laid aside his burden. One feels more glad than otherwise, for he was tired; his broken body could no longer keep pace with his soaring mind. The work he began, that of introducing Buddhism to the West, he pushed with enthusiastic vigour in pamphlet, journal and lecture, all masterly, all stimulating thought, all in his own inimitably graceful style. And the results are not disappointing to those who know.3

Allan Bennett was a holy man. His writings reveal sensitivity, conviction, and passionate concern that Buddhism should grow in the West. He combined a poetic imagination, a scientific mind, and a deep concern for justice and peace. He was also able to make the Buddhist path live, not so much through lectures as through the written word. In this study, I seek to make his thought come alive. I look at his life and place him in historical perspective. Then I probe his view of the world and his interpretation of Buddhist doctrine. I show how his thought developed through the trauma of the First World War, and finally I discuss the relevance of his writings today.

Of course, it is impossible to re-create the thought of Ananda Metteyya with authenticity two generations after he died. I rely mainly on what he published in England and Burma, a few personal letters, and the impressions of his contemporaries in Sri Lanka and the West. Furthermore, no biographical writing is objective. It reflects the biographer’s character as much as it portrays the person written about. Allan Bennett, or Ananda Metteyya, will elude any attempt to pin him down. He was a man of his time, born when the British Empire was at the height of its power and the wish to probe new religious pathways was gripping many young minds. Yet, I believe the message he strove to share is still relevant. A probe into his life not only uncovers forgotten history but can give inspiration to the present.

The Search for Truth

In piecing together the biography of Allan Bennett, I am heavily indebted to the writings of two of his closest friends: Aleister Crowley and Dr. Cassius Pereira (later Ven. Kassapa Thera).4 Bennett’s relationship with Crowley was not lifelong. It began when Bennett was more interested in esoteric mysticism than Buddhism and petered out as Crowley sank deeper and deeper into study of the occult. The friendship with Pereira was based on a more solid foundation, that of commitment to Buddhism. They met on Bennett’s first visit to Sri Lanka in 1900 and the relationship continued when Bennett went to Burma. Alec Robertson5 told me that Ven. Kassapa had told him he had had such a close rapport with Bennett that the two could communicate by telepathy. Each knew the other’s thoughts, even at a distance.

Allan Bennett was born in London on the 8th December 1872. His father, a civil and electrical engineer, died when Allan was young. Cassius Pereira claims he was adopted by a Mr. McGregor and kept this name until McGregor died, a fact repeated to me by Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya.6 Yet, it is possible that his mother was still in contact with him, since Crowley refers to him being brought up by his mother as a strict Catholic.7 His education was in Bath after which he trained as an analytical chemist. He was eventually employed by Dr. Bernard Dyer, a public analyst and consulting chemist of international repute who was based in London as an official analyst to the London Corn Trade at the time of Bennett’s association with him.8

Information about Bennett’s early years is sketchy. What is available suggests that he was a sensitive and serious young man who became alienated from Christianity both because it seemed incompatible with science and because he could not square the concept of a God of love with the suffering he saw and experienced. The asthma which plagued him throughout his life seems to have begun in childhood. As a young man, it prevented him from holding down a permanent job. Together with his family circumstances, this meant that he was at times desperately poor. Suffering, therefore, was part of his life from an early stage. Crowley, in fact, wrote of him, “Allan never knew joy; he disdained and distrusted pleasure from the womb.”9

If Bennett distrusted pleasure, he certainly didn’t distrust the search for truth and goodness. This seems to have informed his life from youth. Nineteenth century developments in science gripped him, particularly in the areas of chemistry and electricity, and scientific metaphors permeate his writing. Science meant far more to him than technical knowledge. He linked it with the search for truth about the human being and human consciousness. In his youth particularly, it was intertwined with his religious quest. After rejecting Roman Catholicism, he turned first to Hinduism and Buddhism. In 1890, at the age of eighteen, he read Edwin Arnold’s poem, The Light of Asia. Some say he became a Buddhist at this point but this is doubtful. The poem certainly had a profound influence on him but it was part of a larger exploration which included Hindu literature as well. Both Cassius Pereira and Aleister Crowley refer to him practicing yogic forms of breath control and meditation at this time, a practice closer to Hinduism than to Buddhism. Pereira thought these exercises might have exacerbated his asthma. Crowley refers to him experiencing, at eighteen, Shivadarshana, which Crowley describes as an extraordinarily high state of yogic attainment. “It is a marvel that Allan survived and kept his reason,” Crowley remarked, but he also claimed that Bennett had told him that he wanted to get back to that state.10

In addition, Bennett was also being drawn both into Theosophy and spiritualism, psychology and Western esoteric mysticism. Spiritualism entered Britain in the mid-nineteenth century, based on the conviction that there was a spirit world which could be contacted by clairvoyants. It became linked with interest in alchemy, magical invocations, and esoteric or secret knowledge. Helena Blavatsky, one of the founders of Theosophy, for instance, claimed she was in contact with mahatmas, masters in the spirit world. Significant for Bennett was the creation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1889 by William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers.11 At first his members were little more than spiritual philosophers, interested in such things as astrology, alchemy, mysticism, and the kabbalah – esoteric practices connected with Judaism. Later, magical rituals were developed and practiced. Bennett joined in 1894. He took the name Iehi Aour, Hebrew for “let there be light,” and rapidly became an important member, respected for his psychic powers.

At this point most of the available information about Bennett comes to us through the eyes of Aleister Crowley, who joined the order in 1898. Crowley’s first impression of him was that he possessed “a tremendous spiritual and magical force.”12 He finds him living in a tiny tenement – “a mean, grim horror”13 – and says of his appearance:

Allan Bennett was tall, but his sickness had already produced a stoop. His head, crowned with a shock of wild, black hair, was intensely noble; the brows, both wide and lofty, overhung indomitable piercing eyes. The face would have been handsome had it not been for the haggardness and pallour due to his almost continuous suffering.

Despite his ill-health, he was a tremendous worker. His knowledge of science, especially electricity, was vast, accurate, and profound. In addition, he had studied the Hindu and Buddhist scriptures, not only as a scholar, but with the insight that comes from inborn sympathetic understanding.

I did not fully realize the colossal stature of that sacred spirit; but I was instantly aware that this man could teach me more in a month than anyone else in five years.14

An unpublished manuscript by Crowley cited by Kenneth Grant adds more:

We called him the White Knight, from Alice in the Looking Glass. So lovable, so harmless, so unpractical! But he was a Knight, too! And White! There never walked a whiter man on earth. He never did walk on earth, either! A genius, a flawless genius. But a most terribly frustrated genius.15

Crowley also claimed that he was known all over London “as the one Magician who could really do big-time stuff,”16 and in two places he recorded an incident when Bennett used a wand to render motionless a sceptic who doubted its power.17

By the year 1899, therefore, Bennett was deeply interested in the religious heritage of the East. He was appreciated as a gentle person who would be loathe to harm anyone. (Crowley was later to write that he was, “the noblest and the gentlest soul that I have ever known.”18) He was widely read and had practiced some forms of meditation, probably using yogic methods of breath control and trance-inducement. He felt an affinity to Buddhism and had been influenced particularly by The Light of Asia. He was also interested in Western esoteric practice and magic and had discovered that he possessed certain psychic powers. Asthma had already made deep inroads into his health. He was knowledgeable about the latest scientific discoveries and optimistic about science’s potential.

In 1900, Bennett travelled to Sri Lanka, the cost of his passage raised by Crowley.19 It was an attempt to save his life. His friends feared he would die unless he was sent to a warmer climate. Crowley also hoped that Bennett would spread Western esoteric lore in the East. He did not. Crowley’s hopes were ironically twisted. Bennett turned away from the emphases of the Order of the Golden Dawn, became a Buddhist monk, and eventually brought Buddhism to the West, convinced that it was Buddhism alone which could meet the religious crisis there.

In Sri Lanka

Bennett spent between one and two years in Sri Lanka. He learnt Pali, developed his meditation practice, and delivered his first sermon on Buddhist doctrine. All the evidence suggests this period was a turning point. His asthma improved. He gave up the cycle of drugs he had found so necessary in England.20 Most of all, he found a focus for his religious quest.

Bennett began by spreading his exploratory net quite wide. According to Cassius Pereira, he went to Kamburugamuwa and studied Pali for six months under an elder Sinhalese monk. But the end of six months, he could converse in it fluently – “Such was the brilliance of his intellect,” Pereira adds.21 Yet, he did not restrict himself to Buddhism. Crowley, who visited him, claimed that he learnt much about the theory and practice of yoga from the Hon. P. Ramanathan, the Solicitor-General of Ceylon, a Tamil gentleman who engaged Bennett as a private tutor for his son. Crowley’s descriptions of Bennett show a person experimenting with different practices. According to Crowley, for instance, Bennett could, with a breathing trick, release leeches from his arm, having purposely fed them.22 He could also enter such a deep state of trance-like meditation through his breathing exercises that his whole body could be upturned without him realizing it.23 Pereira confirms this. He later wrote that Allan had taught him much about meditation at this time. He had thought it was all Buddhist in origin but later realized that it also contained “mystic Christian, Western ‘occult,’ and Hindu sources.” His conclusion was that Bennett’s knowledge was then “vague, wonder seeking, and really only played about the fringe of a truly marvelous avenue for study and practice.”24

So, was Bennett merely a person who selected what he wanted from a variety of sources? The Order of the Golden Dawn certainly did this. Yet in Sri Lanka another process was at work. Bennett gradually came to see that eclectic experimentation with psychic power and the development of iddhi was a mundane accomplishment, divorced from true wisdom or liberation. Theravada Buddhism gained the upper hand. According to Crowley:

Allan had become more and more convinced that he ought to take the Yellow Robe. The phenomena of Dhyana and Samadhi had ceased to exercise their first fascination. It seemed to him that they were insidious obstacles to true spiritual progress; that their occurrence, in reality, broke up the control of the mind which he was trying to establish and prevented him from reaching the ultimate truth which he sought. He had the strength of mind to resist the appeal of even these intense spiritual joys.25

In July 1901, Bennett gave his first Buddhist address before the Hope Lodge of the Theosophical Society, Colombo. His subject was the Four Noble Truths. For the young Cassius Pereira it was a turning point which directed him towards his eventual renunciation.26 Almost certainly, Bennett, by this time, was speaking from the depths of his own conviction that renunciation, as a committed Buddhist, was the only path for him. During his visit Crowley concluded that, in spite of his experimentation, “Allan was already at heart a Buddhist. The more he studied the Tripitika, ‘the three baskets of the law’ … the more he was attracted.”27

Bennett decided to become ordained in Burma. Crowley’s writing suggests that Bennett saw Burma as a place where the Sangha was in a purer state than in Sri Lanka.28 Bennett was disillusioned, for instance, by such practices as “devil dances” …


and the Kandy Perahera.29

Other accounts do not mention Bennett’s reason for leaving Sri Lanka but it is certain that he left realizing that the path of magic, psychic power, and esoteric lore was inadequate. In all his later writings he condemned it.30 The message of the Four Noble Truths became uppermost.

In Burma

On 12th December 1901, Allan Bennett was ordained a novice at Akyab in Arakan, Burma. The name he took was the Venerable Ananda Maitreya. Later he changed the second name to the Pali, Metteyya. At Akyab, he continued his Buddhist studies, supported by Burmese lay people. Pereira and Crowley mention one Dr. Moung Tha Nu, the resident medical officer, as one of these.31 Six months later, on 21st May 1902, he received upasampada, higher ordination, under the Venerable Sheve Bya Sayadaw. Crowley visited Ananda Metteyya in February 1902 and it is again interesting to see through his eyes. He refers to Allan, in robes, as seeming to be “of gigantic height, as compared to the diminutive Burmese” but claims, “The old gentleness was still there.”32

Unfortunately, Crowley also referred to the return of Ananda Metteyya’s asthma. He puts it down to the cold air of the pre-dawn alms rounds and shares a wish that “sanctity was not so incompatible with sanity.”33 As a new monk, Ananda Metteyya would not have wanted to have broken any of the accepted practices.

The next time Crowley visited Burma, Ananda Metteyya was in Rangoon. He went there soon after his higher ordination and stayed in a monastery about two miles from the city. Two interesting points emerge from Crowley’s writing: the suspicion of the British authorities, who imagined political dangers when Europeans “thought Burmese beliefs better than their European equivalents.”34 and the fact that Ananda Metteyya’s health was still not good because of lack of proper medical attention and “his determination to carry out the strict rules of the Order.”35

Yet, it was from Rangoon that Ananda Metteyya began to plan what he had come to see as his life’s mission – bringing Buddhism to the West. The first step was the forming of the Buddhasasana Samagama, an international Buddhist society which aimed at the global consociation of Buddhists. Its first meeting was on 13th march 1903. Ven. Ananda Metteyya took the role of General Secretary. The Honorary Secretary was Dr. E.R. Rost, a Westerner and member of the Indian Medical Service.36 Buddhism - An Illustrated Quarterly Review was launched, edited by Ananda Metteyya, the first volume appearing in September 1903.

The six issues of Buddhism which were published between 1903 and 1908 -- it soon became evident that it could not be a quarterly review -- give much information about Ananda Metteyya's priorities. His vision was missionary and international. The aims of the journal, as set out in the first issue, were:

Firstly, to set before the world the true principles of our Religion, believing, as we do, that these need only to be better known to meet with a wide-spread acceptance among the peoples of the West -- an acceptance which, if manifested in practice, would in our opinion do much to promote the general happiness -- Secondly, to promote, as far as lies in our power, those humanitarian activities referred to in the latter portion of THE FAITH OF THE FUTURE37 and, Thirdly, to unite by our Journal, as by a common bond of mutual interest and brotherhood, the many Associations with Buddhist aims which now exist.38

From Rangoon, Ananda Metteyya maintained a network of international contacts and kept abreast of developments in science, Buddhist scholarship, and politics in Buddhist countries. By 1904, the journal was being sent free to between 500 and 600 libraries in Europe on the condition that each copy be left on the Reading Room table until the next was received. 39. Burmese donations made this possible. The Buddhasasana Samagama gained official representatives in Austria, Burma, Ceylon, China, Germany, Italy, America, and England. The articles published were drawn from scholars worldwide. Ananda Metteyya's comments embraced all his interests, religious, scientific, and political. He could write about the life of philosopher-scientist Herbert Spencer, discoveries concerning the origins of life at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge,40 and research on the dangerous effects of alcohol.41 Since Sri Lanka is also mentioned in every edition of Buddhism, it is obvious that Ananda Metteyya remained in close contact with the country and he went back there at one point. Pereira records that he gave "several inspiring addresses from the Maitriya Hall."42

During these years, two men who eventually became better known than Ananda Metteyya joined him. The first was J.F. McKechnie. Inspired by Ananda Metteyya's article on Nibbana in the first issue of Buddhism, he wrote to him in 1904 to offer his services in business management free. He was accepted. Once in Burma, he learnt Pali and took on far more than business management as his book reviews in the October 1905 issue of Buddhism reveal. By 1908, he was Ven. Silacara. Then, by the beginning of 1905, Ven. Nyanatiloka was also staying with Ananda Metteyya. Nyanatiloka or Anton Gueth was born in 1879 in Wiesbaden, Germany. He was ordained in Burma in 1903, after a period of exhausting travel which had included Sri Lanka. Ananda Metteyya facilitated his return to Sri Lanka to learn Pali,43 a return which sealed the future for Nyanatiloka. He spent almost all his monk's life there, and at his death was given a state funeral.44

The Mission to England

Health continued to elude Ven. Ananda Metteyya. This was one reason why the publication of Buddhism became erratic. Apologies for delays due to illness appear in almost every issue. Yet, his ailment was not serious enough to prevent him from commencing the first Buddhist mission to Britain. Ananda Metteyya had entered the Order “chiefly with the object of eventually forming a Sangha in the West.”45 His life was inspired by the conviction that the West had only to understand the message of Buddhism to embrace it. He was convinced the West was ready. Yet, the first step in this process was not an unqualified success.

Ven. Ananda Metteyya arrived in England on 23rd April 1908 with some of his most faithful supporters, Mrs. Hla Oung, her son, and his wife. He remained until 2nd October of the same year, “the time allotted to the Mission,” according to Christmas Humphreys.46 The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, formed in preparation for the mission the previous November, welcomed him eagerly.

See e.g. Harris (1998). The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland (BSGBI) was  founded by T. W. Rhys-Davids and others in November 1907 solely in anticipation of Bennett‘s  arrival and the BSGBI is similarly regarded as the first of its kind.

-- The First Buddhist Mission to the West: Charles Pfoundes and the London Buddhist mission of 1889 – 1892, by Brian Bocking, University College Cork; Laurence Cox, National University of Ireland Maynooth; and Shin‘ichi Yoshinaga, Maizuru National College of Technology

Ananda Metteyya himself told a Rangoon paper on his return that he was highly gratified with the visit47 but the response of some of his British supporters was different. Disappointment comes across, for instance, in the account later written by Christmas Humphreys. The positive, according to Humphreys, was this:

He was then thirty-six years of age, tall, slim, graceful, and dignified. The deep-set eyes and somewhat ascetic features, surmounted by the shaven head, made a great impression on all who met him, and all who remember him speaking of his pleasing voice and beautiful enunciation. It seems that his conversation was always interesting; and in his lighter moments he showed a delightful sense of humour, while his deep comprehension of the Dhamma, his fund of analogy from contemporary science, and power and range of thought combined to form a most exceptional personality.48

Humphreys continues to explain that by “correspondence and constant interviews” Ananda Metteyya collected around him a body of scholars who supported the mission and that he “formally admitted into the fold of Buddhism all who wished to be received.” Yet, the negative side of the mission included: the difficulties supporters faced in ensuring Ananda Metteyya could follow the Vinaya rules; the uncomprehending and sometimes ribald laughter leveled at his orange robes in the streets; the uncharismatic nature of Ananda Metteyya’s public speaking style; and his frequent ill-health. Ananda Metteyya was understandably unwilling to compromise when it came to handling money, eating after noon, or sleeping in the same house as a woman. This meant he could not journey alone, his programme had to allow for a meal before noon, and the team needed two houses. For a small group of supporters, this was perhaps more than they had bargained for.49

As for his communication skills, in private conversation, he was probably engaging and impressive. Humphreys declares that “he was popular wherever he went.”50 Yet, in public speaking, he seems to have been self-effacing, avoiding eye contact by keeping his eyes cast down on a prepared script, from which he deviated little. Such an attitude would have been the norm for a monk in Burma, but for those who had enthusiastically hoped for a flowering of Buddhism in Britain, his inability to engage with his audience would have been disappointing, perhaps even embarrassing. The deterioration of his health must also have caused serious concern.

There can be no doubt, however, that the young Buddhist Society was strengthened by Ananda Metteyya’s visit because it attracted enthusiastic scholars. It also sealed a friendship with Burma which was to prove invaluable in terms of financial support in the years ahead. The Buddhist Review, the organ of the newly-formed Buddhist Society, was able to say in 1909 that he left behind him “golden opinions and the friendship and respect of all who had the privilege of meeting him.”51

Years of Crisis

Ven. Ananda Metteyya hoped that he would return to England in two and a half years to establish a permanent Buddhist community in the West.52 This was the next step in his mission plan. The hope died. He remained in Burma until 1914. During 1909, records show that he was still mentioned with much respect at The Buddhist Society in Britain. For instance, he and his colleagues were congratulated for pressing successfully for Buddhism to be taught in schools in Burma.53 The 1911 mission was anticipated. Yet, as time passed, he was mentioned less and less. Ven. Silacara’s name began to arise more often than his in The Buddhist Review. In 1912, Ananda Metteyya appeared in the Minutes as having sent many copies of his book, The Religion of Burma, to the Society as a present54 but when bringing a bhikkhu to England was discussed later in the year55 he was not mentioned. It was Ven. Silacara who was eventually considered.56 By 1914, Ananda Metteyya’s mission was remembered with respect but he was no longer considered a possible future missionary.

One reason for this silence, of course, was his health. According to Cassius Pereira, his health began to fail rapidly on his return to Burma, with gallstone trouble superimposed on his chronic asthma. “He was operated on twice,” Pereira wrote, “and on the urgent advice of his doctors, he reluctantly decided to leave the Order where he had now attained the seniority of Thera or Elder.”57 Pereira did not give a date for this. In 1912 and 1913, The Buddhist Society was still referring to him as Ven. Ananda Metteyya,58 but it is possible that he had already disrobed by this time. In 1914 doctors in Burma pressed him to leave the country if his life was to be saved. His Burmese friends, therefore, sent him to England where he was to meet up with his sister, who had come from America to lead him back to her home in California. A passage from Liverpool was booked but the ship’s doctor refused Bennett permission to board because he feared the American authorities would deny him a landing permit on health grounds. His sister travelled without him. Bennett, now a lay person, was left to the mercy of British well-wishers.

From this point onwards, Allan Bennett’s story was a sad one. A member of the Liverpool Branch of The Buddhist Society, a doctor, took him in and gave him incessant medical care. During the First World War his sister came back from America but she stayed with friends and could not look after her brother. For the doctor’s family, the financial and emotional burden of having a chronically sick, prematurely old person in the house was great. Mrs. Hla Oung, offered 10.00 pounds a year towards maintenance but it was not enough. At this point an anonymous group of well-wishers were forced to write to The Buddhist Review in 1916 appealing for money to save Bennett from being placed “in some institution supported by public charity.”59 His asthma attacks were occurring now more than once a day.

Help did come, from overseas as well as Britain. Yet, Bennett’s final years were far from comfortable. The First World War, which killed a generation of young people in the trenches of France, had a profound effect on him, as it did on many sensitive Westerners. It drove him into deep introspection about the human condition, the sustainability of Western culture, and the contribution of Buddhism. There was also the ever present awareness that his health had prevented him from realizing his hopes for Buddhist outreach in Britain. Yet, the very trauma of the war eventually impelled him into writing and speaking again. In the winter of 1917-18, he was persuaded by Clifford Bax to give a series of papers to a private audience in Bax’s studio. These were later published as “The Wisdom of the Aryas, just two months before his death.

Then, on Vesak Day (May) 1918, Bennett gave to The Buddhist Society what Christmas Humphreys called “a ‘fighting speech’ which aroused the listening members to fresh enthusiasm.”60 It marked a return to active work. He opened by reminding his listeners that it was ten years since his mission to Britain, “the first Buddhist Mission which for over ten centuries had been sent forth from any Buddhist country.” He reported with sadness that the parent body of The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, the Buddhasasana Samagama, had completely broken up, and he referred to the war as “the opening of an era of well-nigh universal calamity and woe.”61. He went on to tackle the central question of how the “priceless treasure of the Law” could offer solace, strength, and clear vision even when “it appears that all our world is rocking about us to its fall.” The wider content of his talk I will deal with later. What is important here is that Allan Bennett returned to active work in Britain. He seems to have been helped financially by friends in Britain and Sri Lanka. Cassius Pereira refers to Clifford Bax and Dr. C.A. Hewavitarana as patrons.62

According to one account, Bennett moved to London in 1920.63 Although he was incapacitated for weeks at a time, he took over the editorship of The Buddhist Review from D.B. Jayatilaka, who returned to Sri Lanka. He spoke at meetings organized by the Buddhist Society and became actively involved in the Society’s plans. His conviction that Buddhism offered hope for the West remained unshaken, as his first editorial in 1920 made clear:

These facts, we consider, justify us in our conclusion that in the extension of this great Teaching lies not only the solution of the ever-growing religious problems of the West; but even, perhaps, the only possible deliverance of the western civilization from that condition of fundamental instability which now so obviously and increasingly prevails.64

By 1922, however, Allan Bennett was dying. The January 1922 edition of The Buddhist Review was the last that he edited and indeed the last that was published. Before his death he was reported to have lived at 90 Eccles Road, Clapham Junction. His financial situation was grave, but help continued to come from Dr. Hewavitarana and probably Cassius Pereira. He died on 9th March 1923. A Buddhist funeral service was prepared by Francis Payne, a prominent Buddhist and convert from the 1908 mission, who was present when he died. Dr. Hewavitarana cabled money from Sri Lanka to buy a grave in Morden Cemetery in South London. Humphreys wrote that “flowers and incense were placed on the grave by members of the large gathering assembled, and so there passed from human sight a man whom history may some time honour for bringing to England as a living faith the Message of the All-Enlightened One.”65

Travers Christmas Humphreys, QC (15 February 1901 – 13 April 1983) was an English barrister who prosecuted several controversial cases in the 1940s and 1950s, and later became a judge at the Old Bailey. He also wrote a number of works on Mahayana Buddhism and in his day was the best-known British convert to Buddhism. In 1924 he founded what became the London Buddhist Society, which was to have a seminal influence on the growth of the Buddhist tradition in Britain.

-- Christmas Humphreys, by Wikipedia

No gravestone has ever been placed on Allan Bennett’s grave. This could have been due to suspicions which continued to surround his name after his death. For instance, Bennett never completely outlived his reputation as a magician and a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The young Buddhist Society was keen to dissociate itself from anything esoteric. Allan Bennett’s involvement as a young man with a movement which was controversial and his early friendship with Aleister Crowley, by then a known occultist, would have been cause enough for suspicion. It is significant that several articles during his lifetime took pains to stress that he was not a man of “mystery”, that he had rejected that part of his past. “It is necessary to say this, since some attempts have been made to surround him with mystery. There is no more mystery attending the Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya than any other person,” an editorial of The Buddhist Review stated in 1909.66 Clifford Bax said something similar in 1918: “At first glance I realized that he never could have played at being a man of mystery.”67

Ven. Ananda Metteyya rejected the path of “mystery” as a hindrance to the goal. It was not “mystery” and magic which taxed his mind but two quite different aspects of life: the search for truth and the pain within human existence. He brought the sensitivity of the poet and the mind of the scientist to this. Yet, he occasionally shared a conviction that there was a power, an energy, which moved to goo and which could be used by humans on their way to liberation. This could mistakenly have struck some Western Buddhists as touching the theism they had rejected. As for his friendship with Aleister Crowley, it ended as Ananda Metteyya travelled further and further from the path Crowley chose. His influence on Crowley was great but ultimately Crowley chose to reject it.

Another reason for suspicion might have been his illness. Throughout his life, he was reliant on dependency-creating drugs such as cocaine, opium, and morphine, no doubt first prescribed by a doctor, although by the end of his life some of the dangers were known and new remedies were being tried. The consequence, however, could have been times of hallucination, giving the appearance of the “mystery” with which some linked him. The truth is that it was an injustice to a person who, in his writing, communicated the message of the Buddha with a poetic sensitivity and a scientific directness which still speaks to us today.



1. Clifford Bax, “Ananda Metteyya” in The Middle Way, Vol. 43:1, May 1968, p. 23.

2. Ibid., p. 27.

3. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

4. Dr. Cassius Pereira was a prominent Sri Lankan Buddhist. Together with Ven. Narada, Dr. W.A. de Silva, and Hema Basnayake, in 1921 he founded the Servants of the Buddha, an organization which provided a forum for English-speaking Buddhists to discuss the Dhamma. At the age of 65 he was ordained with the monastic name Kassapa, receiving both novice ordination and higher ordination on the same day. Throughout his life, he was an influential exponent of Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, stressing its rationality. His father built Maitriya Hall (Lauries Road, Bambalapitiya), which was named after Ananda Metteyya.


It is early Saturday evening and the Galle Road at Bambalapitiya is a comfortable cacophony of weekend activity but a turn into Lauries’ Road, finds the Mettaramaya; an escape from the noisy sights and sounds. The temple this evening is a peaceful hum of activity as a few individuals make their way past the stupa to the back, where stands a chapel- a building one would hardly expect to see in a temple.

If such a sight caused surprise in the mind of the casual observer, it clearly didn’t bother the men and women who removed their shoes at the entrance and stepped inside; a practice that has been taking place for close to a century as they prepared for the weekly meeting of the society of ‘The Servants of the Buddha’.

“In my personal view it goes to real Buddhist philosophy,” explains Mrs. Jayakuru who had joined the society in the early 90s. More of a forum rather than a typical “bana” or sermon, meetings take place every Saturday at 4.30 p.m. “We go through the minutes of the previous session and then meditate for about five minutes,” clarifies Dr. Kosala De Silva, President of the society. A guest speaker either from the clergy and laity conducts the session. For the members, it is comprehensive and allows them to question the Dhamma and share their views and opinions- all in English.

With a history that has witnessed many events such as birth of the country’s independence and two world wars, the walls of the Maitri Hall, as the chapel is known have always provided its visitors with a spiritual escape while offering them the freedom and liberty to examine Buddhism from a layman’s point of view.

Established almost 40 years after the acclaimed publication “The Light of Asia” by Sir Edwin Arnold, KCIE CSI, the study of Buddhism in English built a bridge between the East, the West and Buddhism. With interest in the doctrine spreading across America and Europe over the next few decades, an Englishman -- Allan Bennett was ordained as a Bhikkhu in Ceylon, believed to have been only the second Englishman to take the robes. As Ven. Ananda Metteyya, he had a vision of teaching the Dhamma in English especially in Anglicised schools as Buddhism was not part of the school curriculum at that point.

Having heard Ven. Ananda give a sermon, Dr. Cassius A. Pereira, LMS (Cey), LRCP (Lond) embraced Buddhism. Ordained as Bhikkhu Kassyapa of the Vajiraramaya Temple, he worked diligently toward the spread of the Dhamma and together with Ven. Rambukwelle Siddhartha Thera, Ven Narada Maha Swaminwahanse and a few others formed the Servants of the Buddha Society in 1921, becoming its first president.

Since its inception the society has attracted the clergy and laity, scholars and even those of different faiths.

Over the years little has changed within the society. The medium of communication remains English. In fact the Servants of the Buddha is believed to be one of the only Buddhist societies in Sri Lanka to conduct their meetings exclusively in English. While introducing Buddhism to schools was a primary objective, Dr. De Silva believes that conducting sessions in English may have been done to create a sense of familiarity among English speaking Colombo of the colonial ’20s.

Another, if not the most atypical feature of the society is in the hall itself. The Maitri Hall located at the back of the Mettaramaya with long open doors familiar to a classical church building, has a chapel-like atmosphere, complete with a high ceiling, pews and even an altar. Softly lit, one feels quite at home seated in one of the pews, feet touching the cold cement floor. The building is rustic and simple. A small vestry of sorts adjoins the hall, where two cupboards make up the humble ‘library’ with books dating back to the last century. “The building itself captures attention,” adds a member, and yes, it is in need of repair.

For Dr. De Silva little has changed since he can remember. Although he joined only about three and a half years ago the Servants of the Buddha is a society linked to him from his childhood. “My father used to come for meetings, even from Panadura,” he reminisces. Having attended Dhamma school as a child, his father’s spiritual influence was deeply rooted within young Kosala, who would later on become a keynote speaker at many a meeting, before becoming a member, and more recently the society’s president.

Mrs. Jayakuru joined the society during her late husband‘s period as President. “We have a lot of professionals -- lawyers, doctors, engineers, even naval officers,” she explains, as to the diverse group of people who make their way to the Maitri Hall with a thirst of knowledge and maybe even inner peace.

Retired teacher Badra Yatamagamuwa who has been attending meetings for the past 30 years still doesn’t call herself a member per se. She comes for the opportunity to listen and learn, she says, and some speakers go “straight to the heart”.

The weekly meetings attract around 20 to 25 people, while they do see bigger crowds especially young people coming in on Vesak poya day.

On the last Saturday in July when the Sunday Times dropped in, the meeting was devoted to one and a half hours of meditation. Not everyone was able to remain in full concentration, and some waited till the end to ask questions and discuss their own doubts with Prof. Rajah De Alwis, the guest speaker for the day. All in an atmosphere of calm that seems to characterise the society.

-- A Spiritual Escape, by Pumima Pilapitiya, The Sunday Times

5. Alec Robertson, a prominent exponent of Buddhism, has been linked with the Servants of the Buddha since 1948, since 1970 as its President. He was a close associate of Dr. Cassius Pereira.

6. Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thera was born in 1896 and entered the Bhikkhu Sangha in 1911, gaining higher ordination in 1916. During his life, he has earned international renown as a scholar and spiritual leader. Still alive and in good health at the time this publication goes to press (1998), he was one of the few people I met during my research having first-hand memories of Ananda Metteyya’s era.

7. The Confessions of Aleister Crowley: An Autohagiography, eds. John Symonds & Kenneth Grant (Penguin (Arkana), Harmondsworth, U.K., 1989), p. 180.

8. Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival (Frederick Muller Ltd., London, 1972), p. 82n.

9. Confessions, p. 234.

10. The Magical Revival, p. 85.

11. See R.A. Gilbert, The Golden Dawn: Twilight of the Magicians. A Concise history, drawing on new material from privately printed and manuscript sources, of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, UK, 1983); Ellic Howe, The Magicians of the Golden Dawn: A Documentary History of a Magical Order (The Aquarian Press, Wellingborough, UK, 1972); Kenneth Grant, The Magical Revival.

12. Confessions, p. 178.

13. Ibid., p. 179.

14. Ibid., p. 181.

15. The Magical Revival, p. 82.

16. Ibid., p. 85.

17. See Confessions, p. 180; The Magical Revival, p. 85.

18. Confessions, p. 234.

19. Ibid., pp. 181-82.

20. In the late 1880s, the remedies prescribed by doctors for asthma included cocaine, opium, and morphine. Bennett was heavily dependent on them in Britain. See Confessions, p. 180; James Adam, Asthma and its Radical Treatment (Henry Kimpton, London, 1913), which advises the use of cocaine and, with restrictions, morphine; A.C. Wootton, Chronicles of Pharmacy (MacMillan & Co. Ltd., London, 1910), which affirms the beneficial effects of laudanum, an opium-based drug, in a variety of ailments; John C. Thorowgood, Asthma and Chronic Bronchitis (Bailliere Tindall and Cox, London, 1894), which recommends arsenical cigarettes, cocaine, cannabis, and morphine together with less toxic drugs.

21. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

22. Confessions, p. 247.

23. Ibid., p. 246.

24. Dr. Cassius A. Pereira, “Why do I renounce the World?” Ceylon Daily News, Vesak Number 2491 (1947), (Colombo, Sri Lanka), p. 67.

25. Confessions, p. 249.

26. See “Why do I renounce the World?”, p. 67.

27. Confessions, p. 237.

28. Ibid., p. 237.

29. Ibid., p. 250.

30. See Buddhism, Vol. 1:4, pp. 677-68, where Ananda Metteyya justifies representation of the first International Freethought Conference because Buddhism is opposed to all supernaturalism; Buddhism (Vol. 1:1), p. 27, where Buddhism is divorced from the esoteric.

31. See The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6; Confessions, p. 271.

32. Confessions, p. 270.

33. Ibid., p. 271.

34. Ibid., p. 462.

35. Ibid., p. 464.

36. For further information about Rost see Christmas Humphreys Sixty Years of Buddhism in England (1907-1967) (The Buddhist Society, London, 1968).

37. "The Faith of the Future" mentions arbitration instead of warfare; equality between the sexes; humane treatment of criminals.

38. Buddhism: An Illustrated Quarterly Review, Vol. 1:1, pp. 63-64.

39. Ibid. Vol. 1:3, p. 473.

40. Ibid. Vol. 1:3, pp. 503ff.; Vol. 2:1, p. 119.

41. Ibid., Vol. 1:3, p. 515.

42. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

43. Unpublished letter from Ven. Ananda Metteyya to Dr. Cassius Pereira (Forest Hermitage, Kandy, Sri Lanka).

44. William Peiris, The Western Contribution to Buddhism (Motilal Barnasidass, Delhi, 1973), p. 139.

45. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 9, 1917, p. 184.

46. Humphreys, Sixty Years of Buddhism in England, p. 7. It is unlikely that Ananda Metteyya came to England intending to stay on permanently and that failure sent him back to Burma. More probably, his visit was intended to begin a process that would eventually produce an indigenous monastic Sangha in the West.

47. Ibid., p. 7.

48. Ibid., p. 6.

49. See also Sandra Bell, “British Buddhism and the Negotiation of Tradition,” paper given at a symposium on “The Invention and Re-Invention of Tradition” held at St. Mary’s College, 22-24 September 1994. Bell writes, “Those middle classes and upper class late Victorian Londoners who chose to support the activities of Ananda Metteyya were, despite his British origins, faced with alien forms of behavior to which they had difficulty in adapting.”

50. Christmas Humphreys, “Ananda Metteyya,” in The Middle Way, Vol. 47, 1972, p. 133.

51. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 1, 1909, p. 3

52. Ibid., p. 3.

53. Minute Book, December 3rd, 1909 (The Buddhist Society, London).

54. Ibid., April 4th, 1912.

55. Ibid., November 1st, 1912.

56. Ibid., December 23rd, 1914.

57. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6.

58. See Minute Book, April 30th, 1912; March 14th, 1913; December 9ths, 1913 (The Buddhist Society, London).

59. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 8, 1916, pp. 217-19.

60. Humphreys, Sixty Years, p. 14.

61. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 9, p. 141.

62. The Buddhist, 28th April 1923, p. 6

63. Kenneth Mullen, “Ananda Metteyya: Buddhist Pioneer” in The Middle Way, Vol. 64, 1989.

64. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 10, pp. 186-87.

65. Humphreys, Sixty Years, pp. 16-17.

66. The Buddhist Review, Vol. 1, 1909, p. 3.

67. Clifford Bax, “Ananda Metteyya” in The Middle Way, Vol. 43:1, p. 23.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 20, 2019 3:44 am

Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/19/19



Under Construction

C. Jinarājadāsa

Curuppumullage Jinarājadāsa (16 December 1875 – 18 June 1953), was a Sri Lankan scholar, lecturer, and writer who served as the fourth President of the Theosophical Society based in Adyar, Chennai, India from 1945 to 1953. An accomplished linguist, he traveled extensively for fifty years as an international lecturer, speaking in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as Sinhalese and Tamil. He was known to his wide circle of friends as "Raja", "Brother Raja", or "CJ".

See also Jinarājadāsa writings.

Early years and education

CJ as a young man

Mr. Jinarājadāsa was born on December 16, 1875 in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) of Sinhalese Buddhist parents in a town about fifteen miles (24 km) south of the capital city, Colombo. The name Curuppumullage indicates a person "Curuppu" living in the house or town of Mullage. The surname Jinarājadāsa can be interpreted in various ways, but is a combination of three words: jina (winner), raja (king), and dāsa (servant).

His association with Theosophy began at the age of thirteen when, as one of the first students of Ananda College, he met C. W. Leadbeater. Brother Raja wrote of that year:

There was a certain day for me in November 1889, when I was thirteen when my feet were "washed in the blood of the heart." That day the Master received me as his chela.[1]

He wrote more of this event in his book Christ and Buddha.

The following year, A. P. Sinnett asked Mr. Leadbeater to return from India to England to tutor his son Denny and George Arundale, Leadbeater brought Raja with him. The three boys were close in age: Raja was born in 1875, Denny in 1877, and George in 1878. Jinarājadāsa met Madame Blavatsky for the first time. For two years, Raja and Leadbeater lived in the Sinnett household, but after that they moved into tiny quarters supported by Leadbeater's work giving English languages to foreigners. Raja attended classes to prepare for university.[2]

On March 14, 1893 he became a member of the Theosophical Society through the London Lodge, and 1894 was admitted into its Inner Group where he "was present at the intimate and informal gatherings of the Group which were held on most Sunday mornings in Mr. Sinnett's library for discussion."[3]

In 1896, Raja was admitted to St John’s College, Cambridge, and four years later took his Degree in the Oriental Languages Tripos. He also studied Law, and was coxswain of the College boat in the rowing team. He then went back to Ceylon where he became Vice-Principal (1900-1901) of Ananda College in Colombo. In 1902 he returned to Europe to study literature and science at the University of Pavia, Italy. In 1904 he went to America, where he began his career as an international lecturer of the Theosophical Society.[4]

Influences on C. Jinarājadāsa

In 1928, Mr. Jinarājadāsa spoke of some major intellectual influences on his life:

There are four great writers of the West who have influenced my thinking very profoundly. One is Richard Wagner. It was his ethical conception of life, linked to his marvellous creations, that made a profound impression on me. Another is Plato. As far as the West is concerned, ever since Plato wrote, wherever there is any kind of philosophical thought which deals with civilization or tries to understand the principles of art, every political writer and every exponent of art has more or less to follow Plato's trail... The third great writer is Dante, whom I consider the greatest poet humanity has yet produced... The supreme value of Dante is that he is utterly unique, so far as I know as always rising with his poetic art to the plane of the Buddhi. Whatever he says has a quality of intuition about it which is not characteristic of many other great poets...

The other writer is Ruskin. I well remember the great revolution which took place in my whole attitude toward life when I began to receive the volumes of Ruskin which Bishop Leadbeater sent to me in 1900. He had always been an admirer of Ruskin and he was brought up in the tradition of looking at Ruskin as someone very great indeed. When I received those volumes, there was that exhilaration which you yourself doubtless experienced when you came across Theosophy. It was a revelation... He emphasized the thought that the laws that should govern human life are not the ordinary laws of supply and demand as stated in the schools but that the primary factor in economic life is the human being, not as a producer but as a spiritual being who has an eternal destiny.... Ruskin refused to acknowledge that theology as such was separate from life, or that political economy was not as necessary to the salvation of the soul as any kind of prayers...[5]

A. P. Warrington with Jinarâjadâsas


In 1916, Mr. Jinarājadāsa married Miss Dorothy M. Graham, an English member who founded the Women's Indian Association with Margaret Cousins.

Theosophical work

During the administration of Annie Besant, Brother Raja served as Vice President of the Society, from 1921 to 1928, during the presidency of Annie Besant. For a few years beginning in 1934, he was Head of The Manor, Mosman, Sydney, Australia.[6]

He was one of the founding members of the Order of the Brothers of Service, along with his wife Dorothy and Fritz Kunz. In 1934 he succeeded C. W. Leadbeater as Outer Head of the Esoteric Section.

Mr Jinarâjadâsa was editor of The Theosophist for three periods of time. Annie Besant turned over that responsibility when she was interned for three months in 1917, and again in 1931-33 during her last illness. He resumed the editorship during his term in office as President of the Society from 1946–53.


Travels as international lecturer
Because of his deep knowledge of Theosophy, his inspiring personality, and his proficiency in English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, Raja was much in demand as a lecturer. The first speaking tour was in 1904 in the United States of America. He presented lectures at annual conventions of the international Society in 1914, 1917, 1921, and many times afterward.

In 1930, Brother Raja was asked to deliver the Blavatsky Lecture. His topic was "The Personality of H. P. Blavatsky".

This is a partial listing of his lecture tours: TO BE ADDED

Adyar library and archives

During the years 1930-1932 and 1935, Mr. Jinarâjadâsa served as director of the Adyar Library and Research Centre. TO BE EXPANDED

He was highly engaged in organizing the archives of the Society, and in publishing materials found there. TO BE EXPANDED


Following the death of George Arundale,Mr. Jinarâjadâsa ran unopposed for election to the presidency. He took office as President of the Society on February 17, 1946 and served until 1953, when he resigned due to illness. His successor was N. Sri Ram.

According to his official biography:

As President, during the post-war years, Brother Râjâ, as he was affectionately called, was very concerned about Adyar as it was affected by a shortage of workers, military occupation of the ocean frontage and consequent public traffic through the estate. He did his best to free Adyar of all its entanglements and restore it to its earlier serenity, as the centre of Theosophical thought and the symbol of the unity of the Society, and preserving its international character.

In 1949 Jinarâjadâsa founded the School of the Wisdom at Adyar, for the study of Theosophical teachings in depth as given in the textbooks, but primarily because a student knowing these things could with widened vision ‘sit in the centre’ of his own being and ‘enjoy clear day’ in his understanding of the world of men and affairs. The School was also to devote its studies to the thoughts of the great and the affairs of men in the larger sense through historical time. Its yearly sessions attract students from several countries to this day. He tried to make the Headquarters once more a centre for students and gradually reorganized the estate for that purpose. Jinarâjadâsa could always present his thoughts with clear and delicate appreciation of the pictures his words would create in the minds of his readers.[7]

Other accomplishments:

1949 - Led an appeal by scholars to the new nation of India "to accord Sanskrit the honored position which belongs to it" as a foundational source of spiritual and practical wisdom.[8]


Other activities

Brother Raja was fond of the American sport of baseball:

Base Ball originated in America. It was introduced into India by Mr. Jinarajadasa, who took with him on his return from this country a supply of bats, balls, gloves and rule books, and as always his work has taken root. We have a letter from Mr. Felix Layton, the Head Master of the Besant Theosophical School at Adyar, stating that that team has won the Madras Schools' Base Ball Championship. In other respects, also, the school is doing well.[9]


Final letter to Boris de Zirkoff

Final years

Memorial service in Olcott Library

Ashes scattered in Fox River

The strains of his travels took a toll on his health. In a 1946 letter to James Perkins he wryly commented on the hot climate of Adyar, India:

If only Adyar would cool off 20° between day and night we would manage quite well. As to my stay in Bangalore, the one who worked hardest was Elithe [Nisewanger, his secretary], because I gave several lectures and talks and she took them all down. The skin irritation stopped with 10° cooler than Adyar, but by compensation to equalize karmic debits, knees and particularly my left shoulder (I am left handed) got going. However, all these ups and downs are part of the order of the day.[10]

On February 17, 1953, suffering from diabetes and heart disease, Mr. Jinarājadāsa resigned from the presidency of the Society after one term in office. He was the only President who declined to stand for re-election, and in February of that year Nilakanta Sri Ram became his successor.

CJ had committed to a lecture tour of the United States. When he reached the headquarters of the American Section, he became ill. On June 10th he wrote a final letter to his longtime friend Boris de Zirkoff describing his heart attacks. Despite the earnest efforts of Dr. Henry A. Smith, other doctors, and the staff to help him, Mr. Jinarājadāsa passed away on June 18, 1953. A memorial service was held in the library, and all of his ashes were scattered on the Fox River by James S. Perkins, Kathrine Perkins, Helen Zahara, Caroline Tess, and Geoffrey Hodson, according to Brother Raja's specific instructions. A very detailed account of his final days was written by Mr. Perkins.[11]

A few years before his death, he composed an epitaph for himself:

He loved children, the sea,
Beethoven, Wagner’s Ring, the
Hallelujah Chorus, and his
Gospel was Ruskin.[12]


C. Jinarājadāsa was one of the foremost Theosophical writers. A list of his works is in a separate article, Jinarājadāsa writings.

In 1913 he was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his extensive contributions to Theosophical literature.

Articles are indexed in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals. Over 1600 articles are listed under the name Jinarājadāsa. Searching under CJ will result in a lengthy list that includes work by Charles Johnston, a Sanskrit scholar who was married to Madame Blavatsky's niece, and who was also known the same initials. Within the results list, the articles by Mr. Jinarājadāsa will include those in the periodicals: The Adyar Bulletin, The American Theosophist, The Australian ES Bulletin, The Herald of the Star, The Messenger, Sishya (The Student)], The Theosophic Messenger, The Theosophist, and World Theosophy. Articles by Charles Johnston appear in Theosophical Quarterly, Theosophy, The Path, and The Irish Theosophist.

Awards and honors

In 1913, Mr. Jinarājadāsa was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his contribution to Theosophical literature. A grove was planted at the Olcott campus with a plaque and stone bench. A Raja Commemorative Fund was established to support travel expenses of lecturers.

Photo gallery

CJ with Ensor and Yarco, Theosophical Messenger, March 1911

CJ in tent in Chicago, summer 1911.

CJ as Fire Guard in World War II London. Image from TSA Archives.

CJ with Sidney Cook, on Olcott campus, 1930s or 1940s.

Additional resources


• "C. Jinarajadasa" by Surendra Narayan. This article was originally published in Quest 93.6 (November-December 2005): 228-229.
• C Jinarajadasa 1875-1953 Memorial Program.


• Jinarajadasa Collection in


• Theosophy UK C Jinarajadasa from the Theosophical Society in Nottingham and Leicester. Audio file on YouTube with photos.
• Occult Commentaries by C. W. Leadbeater, G. S. Arundale & C. Jinarajadasa

Social media

• Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa on Facebook.


1. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters to C. W. Leadbeater (Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1941), 56.
2. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters," 68.
3. C. Jinarājadāsa, The "K. H." Letters," 74.
4. "Jinarajadasa, Curuppumullage," The Theosophical Year Book, 1938. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 189.
5. C. Jinarājadāsa, "Ruskin - A Herald of the New Age," The American Theosophist 34.11 (November, 1946), 245-247. Taken from unrevised notes of a lecture given in 1928.
6. "Jinarajadasa, Curuppumullage," The Theosophical Year Book, 1938. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 189.
7. "C. Jinarājadāsa (1875–1953)", TS Adyar Web Page. Available at TS Adyar Web page.
8. "To Lovers of Sanskrit," The American Theosophist 38.1 (January, 1050), 23).
9. "Base Ball Championship at Adyar," The American Theosophist 28.5 (May, 1940), 117.
10. C. Jinarājadāsa letter to James S. Perkins, July 30, 1946. James S. Perkins Papers. Records Series 08.06. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
11. James S. Perkins to Dr. P. W. Van den Broek [at The Manor]. August 9, 1953. James S. Perkins Papers. Records Series 08.06. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
12. "C. Jinarājadāsa (1875–1953)," Theosophical Society, Adyar web page.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 20, 2019 4:46 am

Louis William Rogers
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/19/19



L. W. Rogers

Louis William Rogers was an American lecturer and editor who served from 1920 to 1931 as General Secretary and President of the American Theosophical Society in the Theosophical Society based in Adyar. He was a man of great energy and vision, who organized dozens of lodges in the United States.

Early life

Louis William Rogers was born in the Midwestern state of Iowa on May 28, 1859. He taught in the public schools of Iowa and Kansas for five years, beginning late in the 1870s.[1] In the 1880s Rogers became a public lecturer in the Free Thought movement, which had Rationalism as its underlying philosophy.

Railroad career and union activities

Rogers began a railroad career with a job as a brakeman, and went on to edit a series of periodicals related to railroads and their unions. In 1888 Rogers launched a short-lived newspaper, the Railroad Patriot of St. Joseph, Missouri.[1] The next year, he moved to Colorado, where he became active first in the Brotherhood of Railroad Brakemen and then in the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen.[1] From 1889 to 1892 he edited several periodicals - the Railroad Brakemen's Journal, the Denver Patriot, and the Vona Herald. Early in the 1890s Rogers returned to the Midwest, moving first to the rail hub of Galesburg, Illinois, then to Chicago, and finally in 1892 to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. He published a new paper, the Age of Labor, which merged in 1893 with The Labor Advocate, a prominent labor newspaper of the day.[1] That year he helped to establish the Wisconsin Federation of Labor.[1]

L. W. Rogers

American Railway Union activities

In 1894, former Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen official Eugene V. Debs established the American Railway Union (ARU), attempting to create an industrial union that joined all the railway workers in a powerful, centralized organization. Rogers became a member of the ARU's executive board, and was appointed editor of the organization's weekly newspaper, Railway Times.[1] In 1894, the United States Attorney General responded to the ARU's famous Pullman Strike by issuing an injunction ordering the union to cease striking against any train carrying U.S. Mail.[2] L. W. Rogers, Eugene V. Debs, and two other union officials were found to be in contempt of the injunction, and they surrendered to authorities on July 17, 1894. Bail was set at $3,000 each, and all four ARU officials waived the right to post bail. They were immediately taken to Cook County Jail. Rogers later recalled that the substantial amount set for bail was not the cause of the decision to waive bail, declaring, "If it was $2, I'd go to jail. This is a mighty test between labor and capital, and we will fight it to the finish."[3] The four were released on July 25.[4] After a trial, the union and its leaders were found guilty of having conducted an illegal strike in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.[5] Rogers was sentenced to three months to be served in McHenry County Jail, which was served from June to August, 1895.[6] Debs and the union were subjected to further charges in a case that was defended all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court by the famous orator Clarence Darrow, although the unionists ultimately lost.

Later union activism

Rogers moved to Pueblo, Colorado, where he worked as an organizer for the American Federation of Labor, and edited another labor newspaper in 1896, the Industrial Advocate.[1] In 1897 he returned to Chicago to edit The Social Democrat, the journal of Eugene V. Debs' new politicl party, the Social Democratic Party of America. He also helped to organize Debs' lecture tours for two years.[1] He remained involved with the labor movement, serving as President of the Michigan Federation of Labor from 1898 to 1899.[1]

Theosophical Society activities

L. W. Rogers

In the 20th Century, Rogers' attention turned to spirituality, after Eugene V. Debs gave him a book about reincarnation.[7]. In 1903 Rogers joined the American Theosophical Society.[8] He threw himself whole-heartedly into the Theosophical movement, lecturing extensively and publishing numerous books, articles, and pamphlets on reincarnation, life after death, karma, and dreams, and other matters. A firebrand speaker, Rogers was much in demand as a lecturer. Within fifteen years he had organized 53 new lodges.[9]

From April, 1908 to October, 1909 he edited a periodical with the name American Theosophist, published in Albany, New York.

Over the course of many years, Mr. Rogers maintained a close association with Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater. He made two world-wide lecture tours through Europe, the Far East, and Australia.[10]

Mr. Rogers’ granddaughter, Virginia Roach, commented on his strong friendship with Manly Hall, in an interview conducted by Robert and Leatrice Bonnell: “They were the closest of friends and spent many evenings exchanging views of lecturing locations pointed out on a world map spread before them. She also recalled the many Hall lectures, which L. W. enthusiastically attended.”[11]

L. W. Rogers with members in Caspar, Wyoming, 1940.

Lecture tours


Both as a union organizer and as a Theosophical worker, Mr. Rogers was known for his great skill in lecturing.

An incident in 1934 illustrates the challenges of cross-country lecture tours:

Mr. Rogers and Grayson were on their way to Denver from St. Louis... when they struck an unexpected layer of loose sand, the car overturned and turned over at least twice on its way down an embankment. Mr. Rogers suffered a good many bruises and was badly shaken up, but a crushed finger was the only injury demanding hospital treatment. They were able to flag a train and get into Denver without too long delay, and Mr. Rogers kept his evening lecture engagement without allowing what he termed a rather disreputable appearance, to say nothing of a painful finger, to interfere.[12]

L. W. and May Rogers in Hollywood

Theosophical Society activities of Rogers family

May Rogers accompanied her husband on many of his lecture tours, including two long visits to Australia. After L. W. had stirred up interest in a new location with his rousing public lectures, Maysie would teach a beginning class in Theosophy for two weeks, so that a new lodge could be left well-established. She also served for a time as secretary to Annie Besant in Adyar in 1929.

Sons Grayson and Stanley were also involved with the Society. In 1926 George S. Arundale, then General Secretary of the Australian Section, wrote that "We are indeed blessed with Mr. Stanley Rogers, a printing expert, the son of the American General Secretary and of Mrs. Rogers. What we should do without him I do not know."[13] Stanley worked in the printing department of Advance! Australia.[14]

Vice President and Acting President

He was elected Vice President in 1918 during the administration of A. P. Warrington.

1920 Convention


On March 18, 1920, A. P. Warrington addressed a letter to the Trustees of the Section, announcing his resignation.[15] The annual convention that year was turbulent, but ultimately, Rogers was elected as President (General Secretary) of the Section.

President of the American Theosophical Society

President L. W. Rogers at desk, 1927. Image from TSA Archives.

Ceramic sculpture of L. W. Rogers by Lillian Zimmermann

His first actions as President were decisive. Within a month, he changed the venue for the Thirty-Fourth Annual Convention from Seattle to Chicago. The National Secretary, Foster Bailey, was replaced by Mrs. Betsey Jewett. At the same time, Rogers removed the editor of the Society's periodical, The Messenger, Alice Evans, who later became Alice Bailey. Mrs. Grace Boughton Voce became Editor. Woodruff Sheppard, the Publicity Director, was removed from his position, and Bruno Ussher temporarily took over.[16]

In May he published a statement of policy that he had promised to the membership. While the American Theosophical Society was sound financially, its affairs were complicated by the economic disarray of the Krotona Institute of Theosophy. Ultimately the property in Hollywood was sold. The Esoteric Section moved to Ojai, California, and Rogers moved headquarters operations back to Chicago, which he considered to be more suitable due to its central location. The Theosophical Book Concern was re-established to increase publication and distribution of Theosophical books. His plan was to emphasize publishing as a major activity of the national organization, and to strengthen the local groups with national lecturers. In 1920 alone, he opened 55 branches of the Society. A tireless organizer, he continually lectured all over the country.

By 1925, the headquarters location in Chicago had become very overcrowded, and an initiative was undertaken to find a new permanent location. Rogers and his board wanted to stay in a central location within 500 miles of Chicago, and to create a campus where administrative activities could be conducted along with educational events and retreats. The National Secretary Kay Campbell found suitable land in Wheaton, Illinois that eventually became known as the Olcott campus. Members donated and loaned money so that the headquarters building could be built, and operations were moved into it in September 1927. The headquarters structure was eventually renamed the L. W. Rogers Building in honor of the President who made it happen.

Among the other accomplishments of the Rogers administration are these:[17]

• Increasing membership from 3,000 to over 8,000 members.
• Increasing the number of lodges from 100 to 209.
• Founding the Theosophical Book Gift Institute.
• Revising the national by-laws to a more democratic platform.
• Founding the Messenger newsletter.
• Encouraging vegetarianism for establishing a Vegetarian Cooking Club.
• Establishing a Purchasing Service Bureau managed by Dr. Ernest Stone to sell hard-to-find foods and other items to members.

90th birthday on May 28, 1949 in Florida

Later years

Sidney A. Cook took over as president in 1931. During the years after his presidency, Mr. Rogers continued to lecture around the country on behalf of the Society. In 1931 Mr. Rogers reported that 48 new members joined the St. Louis Lodge after a week of lectures, and regarded that as "the largest number ever obtained during a single week by one Lodge in his entire experience of 28 years."[18] Another spectacular success in his later years of lecturing came when he toured Mexico in 1939: "Inspired by the leadership of Mr. L. W. Rogers, thirty-eight members in Mexico City have joined hands in a new lodge for the spreading of Theosophy in Mexico. Mr. Rogers writes that thirty-six of these members are entirely new to the Society."[19]

In order to reach southern and eastern locations more easily, Rogers moved in 1944 from California to St. Petersburg, Florida, but in 1947 at age 88 he announced his retirement from the lecture circuit.

Instead he undertook expansion of the Theosophical Book Gift Institute. In the first year he and Mrs. Lillian Carr of Paterson Lodge (New Jersey) placed 5-6 books in each of 502 institutions - 254 public libraries, plus academic libraries, and collections in hospitals, naval bases, and prisons.[20]

The organization incorporated as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation in 1948. At the passing of Eugene Wix, who initially served as secretary-treasurer, Mr. Rogers took on the position of secretary, and Herbert A. Kern, Sr. became the treasurer. Rogers wrote,

Mr. Kern is not only a long-time member of The Theosophical Society but is a man with very wide business experience. T. G. B. I. is indeed fortunate to have him on its working staff.

With this improvement in its working force T. G. B. I. will carry on the work with renewed energy. Its past work has scattered thousands of theosophical books over the nation; and they are now available to readers in scores of universities, colleges, public libraries, hospitals, on the ships of the United States Navy and in military camps and training stations. [21]

Louis Rogers died in Santa Barbara, California, on April 18, 1953.[22]

Editorial work


Rogers served as the editor of two of the Society's other periodicals — Ancient Wisdom, which he edited from 1935 to 1936, and The Voice, beginning in 1952.

Writings about Theosophy

Mr. Rogers wrote hundreds of columns and articles for The Messenger, The Theosophic Messenger, The American Theosophist, The Theosophist, Discovery, and other periodicals. They are listed in the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals under the names "LW Rogers", "L W Rogers", and LWR. In 1949, Mr. Rogers was awarded the Subba Row Medal for his contributions to Theosophical literature.

These are some of his numerous books and pamphlets, listed in order of publication:

• The Evidence for Theosophy: A Lecture. Harrogate: Theosophical Publishing Committee, 1906.
• The Occultism in Shakespeare's Plays. New York: Theosophical Book Co., 1909. Available at Internet Archive and Hathitrust.
• Occultism as a Factor in Civilization: A Lecture on the Two Phases of Human Evolution Represented in the Civilization of the Occident and the Orient. Ridgewood, NJ: Theosophical Book Company, 1910.
• The Hidden Side of Evolution: A Lecture on the Reasonableness of the Existence of a Spiritual Hierarchy and the Guidance of Human Evolution. Chicago: L.W. Rogers, n.d. [c. 1910s].
• What Theosophy Is. Chicago: National Publicity Department, Theosophical Society, 1910.
• Soul Powers and Possibilities: A Lecture on Some of the Methods by which those powers that are latent in all human beings may be evolved. Ridgewood, N.J.: Theosophical Book Co., 1910.
• Karma: Nature's Law of Justice: A Lecture on the Law of Cause and Effect as Operating in Some of the Affairs of Love. Los Angeles: Theosophical Book Concern, n.d. [c. 1910s].
• Hints to Young Students of Occultism.
• 3rd Edition - Ridgewood, N.J.: The Theosophical Book Co., 1911. Available at Hathitrust.
• 4th Edition - Los Angeles: Theosophical Book Concern, 1917. Available at [Available at Hathitrust and another Hathitrust version.
• Chicago: Theosophical Theosophical Concern, 1931.
• The Inspired Life. Los Angeles: L.W. Rogers, 1915.
• Self Development and the Way to Power. Los Angeles: L.W. Rogers, 1916. Available at Overdrive Content Reserve and Hathitrust.
• Elementary Theosophy. Los Angeles: Theosophical Book Concern, 1917. Seven more edition by Theosophical Press and Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois. 1917 edition available online at Internet Archive and Hathitrust.
• The Life Sublime. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1917.
• Reincarnation from the Scientific Viewpoint: A Lecture Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1917.
• Reincarnation: Do We Live on Earth Again? Chicago: National Publicity Dept., Theosophical Society, 1917.
• The Logic of Reincarnation: A Lecture. Chicago: Theosophical Book Co., 1918.
• Beyond the Border: A Lecture. Chicago: Theosophical Book Co., 1918.
• Occultism as a Factor in Civilization: A Lecture. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1918.
• Scientific Evidence of Future Life: A Lecture. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1918.
• The Invisible World About Us: A Lecture on the Unseen Regions Beyond the Grasp of the Physical Senses and the Life We Live After Bodily Death. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1918. Available at Hathitrust.
• Australian War Speeches and the Soldier Dead. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, c. 1918.
• Dreams and Premonitions. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1923 and Wheaton, Ill.: The Theosophical Press, 1948.
• Theosophical Questions Answered. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1924.
• Gods in the Making, and Other Lectures. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1925. Republished in 1950 as Man: An Embryo God, and Other Lectures.
• The Purpose of Life, and Other Lectures. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1925.
• The Soldier Dead; and A Scientific Religion. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1925.
• Universal Brotherhood. Chicago: Theosophical Concern, 1925.
• The Coming Civilization. Chicago: Theosophical Book Concern, 1934.
• Olcott Manual: First Series: Theosophy, Religion, Science, Philosophy. With Annie Besant. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1934.
• Reincarnation, and Other Lectures. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, n.d. [1940s].
• The Ghosts in Shakespeare: A Study of the Occultism in the Shakespeare Plays. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1949 and 1955; New York, Haskell House Publishers, 1972; and Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1973. First edition was in 1925.
• Man: An Embryo God, and Other Lectures. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Press, 1950. Published in 1925 as Gods in the Making.
• Karma: The Law of Human Destiny. New York: Philosophers Book Shop, n.d.
• A World in Distress: the Remedy as Seen by the Theosophist coauthored by C. Jinarājadāsa and Charles Leadbeater.

Online resources


• Memories of L. W. Rogers by Robert Bonnell and Leatrice Kreeger-Bonnell.
1. tuart B. Kaufman, Peter J. Albert, and Grace Palladino (eds.), The Samuel Gompers Papers: Volume 4: A National Labor Movement Takes Shape, 1895-98, (Urbana, IL: Illinois University Press, 1991), 547-548.
2. David Ray Papke, The Pullman Case: The Clash of Labor and Capital in Industrial America., (Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1999), 40.
3. Quoted in Papke, The Pullman Case, 44.
4. J. Robert Constantine (ed.), Letters of Eugene V. Debs: Volume 1, 1874-1912, (Urbana, IL: Illinois University Press, 1990), 72.
5. Papke, The Pullman Case, pp. 49-50.
6. Constantine (ed.), Letters of Eugene V. Debs: Vol. 1, pg. 98, fn. 9.
7. Joy Mills, 100 Years of Theosophy in America, Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 68.
8. Robert Bonnell and Leatrice Kreeger-Bonnell, Quest, 92:6 (Nov.-Dec. 2004), 224-226. Available at "Memories of L.W. Rogers,".
9. ""About the Candidates: L. W. Rogers," The American Theosophist" 33.4 (April, 1945), 86.
10. ""About the Candidates: L. W. Rogers," The American Theosophist" 33.4 (April, 1945), 86.
11. Robert Bonnell and Leatrice Kreeger-Bonnell, "Memories of L. W. Rogers" The Quest 92.6 (November-December 2004), 224-226. Available at Quest website.
12. Anonymous, "Mr. Rogers' Accident" The American Theosophist 22.6 (June, 1934), 139.
13. "News Items" The Messenger 14.3 (August 1926), 65.
14. "News Items" The Messenger 14.8 (Jan 1927), 180.
15. The Messenger (April, 1920) ????????.
16. Mills, 68-69.
17. Robert Bonnell and Leatrice Kreeger-Bonnell, "Memories of L. W. Rogers" The Quest 92.6 (November-December 2004), 224-226. Available at Quest website.
18. "What Lodges Are Doing" The Theosophical Messenger 19.5 (May, 1931), 402.
19. "New Lodge In Mexico, " The American Theosophist 27. 10 (October, 1939), 239.
20. L. W. Rogers, "Theosophical Book Gift Institute in 1947" The American Theosophist 35.1 (January, 1947), 17-18.
21. "T. G. B. I. Affairs," The American Theosophist 36.5 (May, 1948), 119.
22. State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics. California, Death Index, 1940-1997.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:13 am

Foster Bailey
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/19/19



Foster Bailey

Foster Bailey was an American publisher and writer who established the Lucis Trust, the Arcane School, and The Beacon magazine, working with his wife Alice Bailey.

Early life

Foster Bailey was born on March 16, 1888 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.[1][2] His parents were William Kimball Bailey, a civil engineer, and his wife Cora. The family included another son and daughter.[3] Foster Bailey became an attorney. He enlisted in the U. S. Army on September 18, 1917 and was released from service on March 28, 1918.[4]

Theosophical Society work

Bailey was admitted to the American Theosophical Society on October 27, 1917, probably on a "Liberty" membership that was offered to servicemen in World War I.[5] After the war he served as National Secretary of the American Theosophical Society at its headquarters in Hollywood, California. There he met an Englishwoman, Mrs. Alice A. Evans, editor of the organization's magazine The Messenger. When L. W. Rogers was elected President of the Society in 1920, he replaced both of them with other workers and moved the headquarters to Chicago. Bailey and Evans moved to New York City. They were active in the Central Lodge, cosponsoring Marie M. Montreuil for membership on an application signed March 7, 1921, one week before their marriage.[6]

In the postwar climate of anxiety about the birthrate, an proposal for public sex education evoked heated opposition. Accordingly, proponents reverted to the traditional panacea of maternal "tact."58 When the Paris Medical Faculty endorsed a proposal to make sexual hygiene a branch of public education, the assembly of French cardinals and archbishops rejected "scientific initiation" because courses might promote "physiological laws [such as the dangers of sexual continence] contrary to truth as much as the moral order."59 In the mid-1930s many teachers thought that they should teach children about sexual life at school but were reluctant to do so because of parental conviction that the subject was "dirty."60 The Ministry of Public Education did not introduce sex education into the school system until the mid-1970s -- and then provided few instructional resources.61

Yet, other attempts to provide sexual education were beginning to reach at least some young French women in the interwar years. In the early 1920s, Dr. Montreuil-Strauss of the French Association of Women Doctors, for example, joined with the French League against the Venereal Peril to organize a series of educational meetings for women. In 1925, the Association of Women Doctors went on to establish the Feminine Education Committee, which gained the support of the French Union for Women's Suffrage, the League for the Rights of Women, Red Cross societies, and 175 other student, nursing, and even Catholic youth groups. With subsidies from the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Social Insurance, the committee held 644 conferences between 1925 and 1935 on subjects like maternity and venereal diseases, attracting more than 140,000 people. The committee also distributed 83,000 brochures to almost a third of all female public school teachers.62 In talks sponsored by the Ministry of Health, Montreuil-Strauss favored "biological education for maternity" and warned about venereal diseases. Indicative of the changes, however slowly, underway in French society in the interwar years, the conservative Association for Christian Marriage printed a report by Montreuil-Strauss, documenting that young women were not shocked but rather reassured by sex education.63

-- Secret Gardens, Satanic Mills: Placing Girls in European History, 1750-1960, edited by Mary Jo Maynes, Birgitte Søland, Christina Benninghaus

Bailey continued to be a member of the Society almost continuously until June 30, 1930.

Marriage and personal life

On March 14, 1921, Foster and Alice were married in Manhattan, New York.[7] She was divorced with three daughters – Dorothy, Mildred, and Ellison. It was through this marriage that she became a naturalized American citizen.[8] The family traveled to Europe several times.[9] Apart from a few years in Connecticut, they mostly resided in New York City and New Jersey.

Lucis Publishing and Lucis Trust

In 1922 the Baileys founded a quarterly magazine called The Beacon, which is still being published. They founded Lucifer Publishing Company, which was later renamed as Lucis Publishing Company. They began producing correspondence courses in esoteric philosophy, offered as the Arcane School under the umbrella of Lucis Trust.


In 1913, Bailey was initiated into the Charles W. Moore Lodge of Freemasons. He rose to 33rd degree, and wrote The Spirit of Masonry.[10]

Charles W. Moore Lodge of Masons has been an integral part of the community of Fitchburg [Massachusetts] for one hundred fifty years. The lodge was established in 1865. In that span, which touched three centuries and two millennia, local Freemasons have been witnesses and influencers to events and changes that have shaped the world into what it is today.

This year, as we prepare to celebrate a milestone in our history, the Brothers of Charles W. Moore Lodge are making a renewed commitment to one of the primary goals of Freemasonry – making good men better. Would you like to join us in our endeavors?

For the curious, Freemasonry is not a cult, nor do we have any connection to the occult. A belief in God is a requirement to join, but we are not faith specific. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others all gather together under the starry canopy of our lodge, united by common goals and a sincere desire to make our community and our country a better place.

We screen our members thoroughly because we only want men of strong moral fiber who are willing to serve the needs of others. Hope, Faith, and Charity are more than aspirations. They are requirements. A Freemason needs to hold himself to a higher standard, so we set the bar high when we conduct interviews and vote on new candidates.

Are you a good man who wants to be better? Do you think you have what it takes to be a Freemason? It’s not the life for everyone, but the rewards for those who follow this path are beyond measuring, in this life and beyond. If you want to be a part of that, fill out the form below, include your phone number, and we’ll call you to set up an appointment.

-- About Us, by Charles W. Moore Lodge AF & AM

Later years

Bailey died on June 3, 1977 in New York City.[11]


Foster Bailey wrote about 130 articles under his own name for The Beacon, according to the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals, and probably quite a few more under initials or anonymously. He also wrote several books, several of which were translated into German and French:

• Changing Esoteric Values. Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Lucis Press, 1955.
• The Spirit of Masonry. Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Lucis Press 1957 and London: Lucis Press, 1972.
• Running God's Plan. New York: Lucis Publishing Co., 1972 and London: Lucis Press, 1972.
• Things to COme. New York: Lucis Publishing Co., 1974 and London: Lucis Press, 1974.
• Reflections. New York: Lucis Publishing Co., 1979.

He also wrote chapters of his wife's work, An Unauthorized Autobiography, which is available from the website of Lucis Trust.


1. U. S. Census, 1930.
2. Massachusetts Birth Records, 1840-1915.
3. U. S. Census, 1910.
4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010.
5. Membership Ledger Cards Roll 1. [Microfilm record] Theosophical Society in America Archives.
6. Membership Blue Ledger Cards Roll 1. [Microfilm record] Theosophical Society in America Archives.
7. New York Marriage Index, 1866-1937.
8. Passenger List of S.S. Galway, sailing from Galway to New York in 1940.
9. Passenger List of S.S. Westernland , sailing from Cherbourg to New York in 1931.
10. Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990.
11. U. S. Social Security Death Index.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Sun Oct 20, 2019 5:36 am

Alice Bailey
by Theosophy Wiki
Accessed: 10/19/19



Alice Bailey

Alice Ann Latrobe Batemen Bailey (June 16, 1880 – December 15, 1949) was a teacher and writer and the founder, together with husband Foster Bailey, of a spiritual movement growing out of the theosophical tradition. She was one of the first writers to use the term New Age.

Early Years

Alice Bailey

Alice Bailey was born to well-to-do parents in Manchester, England. Her upper middle class background was religious and also service oriented. Although she showed mystical tendencies, her childhood was generally unhappy: “They were for me the years of greatest physical comfort and of luxury; they were years of freedom from all material anxiety but they were, at the same time, years of miserable questioning, of disillusionment, of unhappy discovery and of loneliness.” [1]She began already at a young age to search for the world of meaning and believed that progress was rooted in mystical consciousness. [2]

Both parents (Frederic Foster La Trobe-Batemen and Alice Hollinshead) died of tuberculosis by the time Alice was eight, so she and her sister lived from then on with their grandparents in Surrey. They were educated by governesses and later attended a finishing school in London. [3][4]Their young life was completely disciplined by people or the social conventions of the time; but she and her sister were also taught to care about the poor and sick and to realize that fortunate circumstances entailed responsibility. [5]

After finishing school at the age of eighteen, following a family trend, she did religious work in the Young Women’s’ Christian Association and the Y.W.C.A. sent her to India, where she delivered strongly evangelic sermons to British troops. It was during that time that she gained experience in leadership and management. In India she met Walter Evans, an American studying for the Episcopal priesthood. They were married in 1907, and she returned with him to the U.S. where he was ordained in the Episcopal Church. The couple settled in California and had three daughters. She was a busy minister’s wife, and Bible class teacher but the marriage failed “due to his appalling temper” [6] and the couple separated in 1915 and was divorced in 1919. [7][8]

Theosophical Society involvement

In order to support her daughters, Alice worked in a sardine cannery in Pacific Grove, California and discovered Theosophy during that time at the age of 35. As Mrs. Alice Anne Evans she was admitted to the American Theosophical Society as a member on September 1, 1915. She is listed as one of fifteen founding members of the Pacific Grove Lodge (formerly Monterey Lodge) in California according to the charter dated September 17, 1915.[9] In 1918, she was admitted to the Esoteric Section.She spent the next several years working while studying the new Theosophical ideas – attending meetings, poring over The Secret Doctrine, and attempting to integrate these ideas with the strict Christianity of her upbringing. Her mystical side found certain ideas, such as the law of karma and the existence of the Masters, appealing and helpful to her during this difficult time.[10] She moved to Hollywood, California, where she at first worked in the vegetarian cafeteria of the Krotona colony. In Krotona she met Foster Bailey, national secretary of the Theosophical Society, whom she subsequently married.[11] Foster Bailey and Alice Anne Evans reached high positions within the Society - she became editor of the Society's periodical, The Messenger, and member of the committee administering Krotona.[12] They were both dismissed in 1920, when L. W. Rogers was elected President of the Society, [13] which was disappointing to both of them: “Thus, ended our time at Krotona and our very real effort to be of service to the Theosophical Society.” [14]

Foster Bailey

Mrs. Evans and Foster Bailey moved to New York, where they became members of the Central Lodge and were active for several years. On March 17, 1921, for example, Alice and Foster both sponsored Marie M. Montreuil for membership in that lodge. The Baileys participated in a panel discussion at the 1921 annual convention of the Society in Seattle. She spoke on the topic "Theosophy and the Public," and Mr. Bailey was a featured speaker at the final banquet of the event.[15] Mrs. Bailey's membership in the Society continued, with short lapses, until June 30, 1939.[16]

In Alice Bailey view “the movement initiated by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was an integral part of a Hierarchical plan. There have always been theosophical societies down the ages. The name of the movement is not new but H. P. B. gave it a light and a publicity that set a new note and that brought a neglected and hitherto somewhat secret group out into the open and made it possible for the public everywhere to respond to this very ancient teaching. The indebtedness of the world to Mrs. Besant for the work that she did in making the basic tenets of the T.S. teaching available to the masses of men in every country, is something that can never be repaid. There is absolutely no reason why we should overlook the stupendous, magnificent work she did for the Masters and for humanity.” [17]

Master Khoot Humi and Master Djual Khul

When Alice was a teenager in England she had been under the supervision of a mysterious man who had visited her in person twice. She described the first encounter with Master Koot Hoomi in her unfinished autobiography:

He told me there was some work that it was planned that I could do in the world but that it would entail my changing my disposition very considerably; I would have to give up being such an unpleasant little girl and must try and get some measure of self-control. My future usefulness to Him and to the world was dependent upon how I handled myself and the changes I could manage to make.[18]

Many years later, after she had joined the Theosophical Society and lived in Krotona and the first time she went into the Shrine room of the Theosophical Lodge, she saw a portrait of this man on the wall and only then learned that his name was Master Koot Hoomi and that he was a member of the Spiritual Hierarchy.[19][20]Her spontaneous recognition was viewed by some member of the Lodge as an effort to claim special status. [21] Bailey’s relationship to the Theosophical Society suffered more strains when she claimed reception of new communications from Masters in the theosophical tradition.

In November 1919, as she was walking in the Hollywood Hills near Krotona, she said she was contacted by Djual Khul, known popularly as “The Tibetan”, who wanted her to serve as his amanuensis. He began dictating to her by means of telepathy and the first book produced in this manner, Initiation: Human and Solar, appeared in 1922; it was followed by others over the next thirty years. Uniformly bound in blue they are the basic texts of the Bailey work.[22]

Life after Krotona

After leaving Krotona, Alice and Foster Bailey went to New York, where they were married the following year. In 1922, they established the Lucis Trust to publish her books. According to the Lucis Trust website, it is still today dedicated to the establishment of a new and better way of life for everyone in the world based on the fulfillment of the divine plan for humanity.

They founded the Arcane School in 1923, a training institution for students of the Tibetan’s teaching. The school has a website and trains people in meditation and service to develop their spiritual potential. The purpose of their training is to help students understand and accept discipleship responsibility and to recognize the part that they can play in the evolution of consciousness by serving humanity.

The remainder of her life was spent in writing and the administration of the School and other activities which the work of the Tibetan inspired. Alice Bailey died on December 15, 1949.

The Great Invocation

In 1937 Bailey published the prayer called The Great Invocation. Widely used in occult and New Age circles, it is very well known and associated with her name:

The Great Invocation

From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
From the center where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men –
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the center which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.

Followers of Alice Bailey’s philosophy see The Great Invocation as a world prayer. It was translated into over 80 languages and dialects. It is said that it was given to Alice Bailey in April 1945 in a message for all people of goodwill. [23]

Perhaps as well as anything could, the tone and thrust of these simple lines suggest the distinctive ethos of the Bailey work. It clearly shares basic theosophical teaching concerning human nature. Karma, and the claimed existence of a hierarchy of a generally invisible but transcendent Masters guiding individual spiritual development and the evolution of the planet. [24]

In Hidden Foundations of the Great Invocation author John Berges details cryptographic evidence that Master Rakoczi may have authored or influenced the composing of this invocation[25].

Groups in the Bailey Tradition

Groups in the Bailey tradition have had several names, among them World Goodwill, Triangles, Meditation Groups for the New Age. World Goodwill was founded in 1932 with the purpose of helping establish right relationships among the peoples of the world; it is an “accredited non-government organization” at United Nations centers in New York and Geneva. The Triangles group was established in 1937 to create teams of three people each of whom would unite daily in a mental chain to send energy into the world. The Meditation Group for the New Age, the Group for Creative Meditation and other such works are sponsored by Meditation Groups, Inc. and are headquartered on a mountainside near Ojai, California. [26]

Alice Bailey's basic texts



The Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists numerous articles by or about Alice Bailey: 12 under the name Alice Evans and over 300 under Alice Bailey. Most of the latter were published in The Beacon, the journal of the Lucis Trust. During her early years as editor of the American Theosophical Society's periodical, The Messenger, she would have written many other articles anonymously for that journal.


All of Alice Bailey's books were published by Lucis Publishing Company, New York and London. Some of her most important titles are listed below.

Written with Djwhal Khul

These books are among those that begin with a two page Extract from a statement by the Tibetan, indicating that Bailey took mental dictation and collaborated with the distant author who wished to avoid the emotional aspects of master worship.

Among other assertions the extract states that the books 'may or may not be correct, true and useful,' and begs the reader to use the intuition and right practice to evaluate the ideas presented.

• Initiation, Human and Solar. 1922, 1951.
• A Treatise on Cosmic Fire . 1962, 1925, 1973, 1982.
• The Light of the Soul. 1955, 1927, 1972, 1983. (commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
• A Treatise on White Magic. 1934, 1951, 1984. (more readable, a good overview)
• Glamour - A World Problem. 1950 (recommended for group and individual study)
• The Reappearance of the Christ. 1947.
• Discipleship in the New Age. 1955, 1968, 1972.
• The Externalization of the Hierarchy. 1957. (Ends on page 701 with humanity's two goals)
• A Treatise on the Seven Rays:
• Volume 1: Esoteric Psychology I. 1936.
• Volume 2: Esoteric Psychology II. 1942.
• Volume 3: Esoteric Astrology. 1951.
• Volume 4: Esoteric Healing. 1953.
• Volume 5: The Rays and the Initiations. 1960. (The last DK book, his name revealed on page 738)

Credited to Alice Bailey writing alone

• The Unfinished Autobiography. 1951.
• Consciousness of the Atom. 1922, 1961.

Additional resources

• Ellwood, Robert. "Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman" in Theosopedia.
• Alice Bailey Natal Horoscope.


1. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 6, Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
2. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 12, Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
3. Biography of Alice Bailey. School of Esoteric Studies. Web. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017
4. Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman. Theosophical Encyclopedia. Print. Quezon City, Philippines. Theosophical Publishing House, 2006
5. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 14ff, Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
6. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 50, Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
7. Biography of Alice Bailey. School of Esoteric Studies. Web. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017
8. Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman. Theosophical Encyclopedia. Print. Quezon City, Philippines. Theosophical Publishing House, 2006
9. Charter of Pacific Grove Lodge. September 17, 1915. Records Series 11.10. Records of Dissolved Groups. Theosophical Society in America Archives, Wheaton, Illinois.
10. Biography of Alice Bailey. School of Esoteric Studies website. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017
11. Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman. Theosophical Encyclopedia. Print. Quezon City, Philippines. Theosophical Publishing House, 2006.
12. Campbell, Bruce, F., Ancient Wisdom Revived, a History of the Theosophical Movement, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1980, p. 151
13. Sørensen, K. Alice Bailey and Theosophy. website. Accessed 18 August 2017
14. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 79, Web. Accessed 19 Aug. 2017
15. "Program," The Messenger 9.2 (July 1921), 47.
16. Membership records. Theosophical Society in America Archives.
17. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. Available at website. Page 80. Accessed 19 August 2017,
18. Alice Bailey, An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 18, Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
19. "Biography of Alice Bailey." School of Esoteric Studies. Web. Accessed 17 Aug. 2017
20. Bailey, A. An Unfinished Autobiography. ... graphy.pdf. Page 71, Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
21. Biography of Alice Bailey. School of Esoteric Studies. Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
22. "Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman." Theosophical Encyclopedia. Quezon City, Philippines. Theosophical Publishing House, 2006. Also available in Theosopedia.
23. The Great Invocation. Lucis Trust in Social Media. Web. Accessed 18 Aug. 2017
24. Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman. Theosophical Encyclopedia. Print. Quezon City, Philippines. Theosophical Publishing House, 2006
25. John Berges. Hidden Foundations of the Great Invocation. Print. Northfield, New Jersey. Planetwork Press, 2000
26. Bailey, Alice Ann Latrobe Bateman. Theosophical Encyclopedia. Print. Quezon City, Philippines. Theosophical Publishing House, 2006
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15. CONVERT TO COMPASSION: Allan Bennett, Excerpt from Theravada Buddhism and the British Encounter: Religious, Missionary and Colonial Experience in Nineteenth Century Sri Lanka
by Elizabeth J. Harris
© 2006 Elizabeth J. Harris



Behind all this thrilling, hoping life, reigns Death...Nature is a battle-field....all this life is a cheat, a snare, – so long as you look at it from this standpoint of the individual.....

Buddhahood consists not in His humanity, but rather in the fact that, through lives of incredible effort and endurance, He has attained to a spiritual evolution which renders Him as different from a human being as the Sun is different from one of its servient planets; which makes of Him, His personality whilst it endures; His teaching, after that personality has passed away; a focal centre of spiritual power no less mighty in its sphere than that of the Sun in the material realm....

Crowds ... turn their faces to bathe them in the splendour of His very presence...

A follower of The Buddha, rightly will he merit the name of Buddhist, who walks the Way The Buddha found...

Life, so far as it is individualised, enselfed, ensouled is – even as the Reason teaches – evil, coterminous with Pain . . . Give up all hope, all faith in Self . . . Dream no more ‘I am’ or ‘I shall be’ but realise, Life suffers; and only by destruction of life’s cause in Selfhood can that suffering be relieved, and Life pass nearer to the Other Shore....

Just as all the waters of the ocean are one water, and one body of water, so it is with this universal teeming life; and just as, in the great ocean, there is, and can be by the very nature of it, no individual body of water separate from the rest, so in life’s ocean there is – and can be by the very nature of it – no single separate unit or body of life, whether it be the highest or the lowest, most subtle or most gross . . . Each satta – each living being that our Nescience makes us regard as an individual, a real and separate entity, a self or soul or Atma – is in truth only one such wave, whether a billow or a ripple only, upon the surface of life’s ocean....

Pity is the highest Law of Life, – this is in Buddhism accounted the true beginning of all righteousness, – unselfishness that gives all...

Seeing . . . how Life is One . . . let us live no more for self’s fell phantasy, but for the All . . . let us live so that the All, the One, may be the nobler and the greater for our life..... the observation and classification of thought, speech and action and ‘the constant application to each and all of them of the Doctrine of Selflessness’ with the thought, ‘This is not I, this is not Mine, there is no Self herein’....

Samadhi... ‘ecstacy’... non-dual insight into the ‘One Life’....

Suddenly the lightning flashes, and for an instant the unseen world gleams forth in instantaneous light, light penetrating every darkest corner, flushing the clouded sky with momentary glory.... No words, no similes, no highest thought of ours can adequately convey that mighty realisation... we shall realise that all our life has changed of a sudden... the utmost attainment that the mind or the life of man can compass – that is ours at last; we have won, achieved, and entered into the Path of which mere words can never tell....

Annihilation of the threefold fatal fire of Passion, Wrath and Ignorance... the annihilation of conditioned being, of all that has bound and fettered us; the Cessation of the dire delusion of life that has veiled from us the splendour of the Light Beyond... the End of All – the end of the long tortuous pilgrimage through worlds of interminable illusion; the End of Sorrow, of Impermanence, of Self-deceit.... from the torture of selfhood an eternal Liberation......

A Way that all might follow to the Light Beyond all Life....

That force whereby we are ever, so to speak, drawn upwards out of this life in which we live, towards the State Beyond – Nirvana.

-- Convert to Compassion: Allan Bennett, by Elizabeth J. Harris


His face was the most significant that I have ever seen. Twenty years of physical suffering had twisted and scored it: a lifetime of meditation upon universal love had imparted to it an expression that was unmistakable. His colour was almost dusky, and his eyes had the soft glow of dark amber . . . Above all, at the moment of meeting and always thereafter, I was conscious of a tender and far-shining emanation, an unvarying psychic sunlight, that environed his personality.

(Bax 1968: 23)

This was Clifford Bax’s impression of Allan Bennett (1872–1923) in 1918. Bennett was then a lay person, and he was sick, incapacitated by asthma for weeks at a time. But ten years earlier, as the venerable Ananda Metteyya, he had led the first Buddhist mission to England, from Myanmar. The Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland had been formed in preparation.

Allan Bennett’s life, after his discovery of Buddhism, was inspired by the conviction that the West needed Buddhism and had only to understand its message to embrace it. He laid down a threefold agenda in the first edition of the journal he edited from Myanmar. First, he imagined a West that was losing both religious and moral awareness:

Apart altogether from the misery that that civilization has spread in lands beyond its pale, can it be claimed that in its internal polity, that for its own peoples, it has brought with it any diminution of the world’s suffering, any diminution of its degradation, its misery, its crime; above all, has it brought about any general increase of its native contentment, the extension of any such knowledge as promotes the spirit of mutual helpfulness rather than the curse of competition?

(Bennett 1903a: 12)

‘No’, was his answer and he backed this up with reference to the West’s ‘crowded taverns’, ‘overflowing gaols’, ‘sad asylums’ and its neglect of mental culture (Bennett 1903a: 13). Second, he rejected three ‘misconceptions’ about Buddhism: that it was heathen and idolatrous; that it was connected with ‘miracle-mongering and esotericism’; that it was ‘a backboneless, apathetic, pessimistic manner of philosophy’ (Bennett 1903a: 25). Third, he put across what he believed Buddhism to be: rational and optimistic. Later he would contest, in addition, two ‘onlys’: that Buddhism was only a rational philosophy; and that the Buddha was only a remarkable and enlightened teacher.

To this apologetic task, Allan Bennett brought a poetic imagination, a scientific mind and a deep concern for justice and peace. And in Allan Bennett, compassion moves centre stage as Buddhism’s sine qua non.

Bennett’s life

In piecing together the biography of Allan Bennett, I am heavily indebted to the writings of two of his closest friends, Aleister Crowley and Dr Cassius Pereira.1 Bennett was born in London. His father, a civil and electrical engineer, died when he was young. Pereira claimed he was adopted by a Mr McGregor and kept this name until McGregor died, a fact repeated to me by the venerable Balangoda Ananda Metteyya (Harris 1998: 4). Yet, it is possible that his mother was still in contact, since Crowley refers to him being brought up by his mother as a strict Catholic (Symonds and Grant 1989: 180). This might explain his later opposition to any form of religion that placed more importance on ‘sin’ than love. After an education in Bath, he trained as an analytical chemist and was eventually employed by a Dr Bernard Dyer, a public analyst and consulting chemist then based in London (Grant 1972: 82).

The limited information available suggests that Bennett was a sensitive and serious young man, who became alienated from Christianity both because it seemed incompatible with science, and because he could not reconcile the concept of a God of love with the suffering he saw and experienced. The asthma that plagued his life seems to have begun in childhood. It prevented him from holding down a permanent job, meaning that he was at times desperately poor and ill. ‘Allan never knew joy,’ Crowley wrote, ‘he disdained and distrusted pleasure from the womb’ (Symonds and Grant 1989: 234).

Bennett did not, however, distrust the search for truth and goodness. And his two keys to this were science and religion. His religious quest was experimental, even daring. After rejecting Roman Catholicism, he turned first to Asia. At the age of 18, The Light of Asia influenced him, but it was part of a larger exploration that embraced Hindu literature, yogic forms of breath control and meditation (Grant 1972: 85; Symonds and Grant 1989: 246–7) and eventually Western esoteric mysticism.

In 1894, Bennett joined the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, founded in 1889 by William Wynn Westcott and Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, taking the name Iehi Aour, Hebrew for ‘let there be light’. He rose to the top rapidly, known for his psychic powers.2 Most of the available information about Bennett at this point comes through Crowley, who joined the Order in 1898. He speaks of Bennett as tall but stooped because of illness, with ‘a shock of wild, black hair’ and a noble head, adding, ‘I did not fully realize the colossal stature of that sacred spirit; but I was instantly aware that this man could teach me more in a month than anyone else in five years’ (Symonds and Grant 1989: 181).

The next stage in Bennett’s life began when he travelled to Sri Lanka in 1900 for health reasons, Crowley paying his passage in the hope that this would save his life and spread Western esotericism in the East. But Bennett was more interested in exploring the local, learning yoga, for instance, from P. Ramanathan, the Solicitor-General.3 According to Pereira, he also went to Kamburugamuwa and studied Pali under an elder Sinhala monk. By the end of six months, Pereira claimed, he could converse in it fluently, adding, ‘Such was the brilliance of his intellect’ (Pereira 1923: 6).

Sri Lanka was a turning point for Bennett. His asthma improved. He gave up the cycle of drugs he had found necessary in England.4 Most of all, he found the answer to his religious quest in Theravada Buddhism, rejecting his former eclectic experimentation with psychic and esoteric power (Symonds and Grant 1989: 237, 249). By the time he addressed the Hope Lodge of the Theosophical Society, Colombo, in July 1901, he had probably decided that he would become a Buddhist monk.

Bennett was ordained a novice in Akyab, Arakan, Myanmar on 12 December 1901, taking the name Ananda Maitreya, which he later changed to the Pali, Metteyya. Higher ordination followed on 21 May 1902, under the venerable Sheve Bya Sayadaw. When Crowley next visited Myanmar, he was in a monastery just outside Rangoon. From there, on 13 March 1903, he inaugurated the Buddhasasana Samagama, an international Buddhist society that aimed at the global networking of Buddhists.5 It soon had official representatives in Austria, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, China, Germany, Italy, America and England. In the same year, he launched Buddhism – An Illustrated Quarterly Review, which, by 1904, was being sent free to between 500 and 600 libraries in Europe.6

The first Buddhist mission to England

Ananda Metteyya arrived in England on 23 April 1908 to an eager welcome from the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland, formed the previous November. He remained until 2 October, ‘the time allotted to the Mission,’ according to Christmas Humphreys (Humphreys 1968: 7). Although Ananda Metteyya told a Rangoon paper that he was highly gratified with the visit, it was a qualified success. On the positive side there was his grace and dignity, his ‘pleasing voice and beautiful enunciation’ (Humphreys 1968: 6), his knowledge of Buddhism, the scholars he gathered around him through ‘correspondence and constant interviews’ (Humphreys 1968: 6) and his engaging manner in private conversation (Humphreys 1972: 133). Yet, ensuring he could follow his monastic discipline stretched his supporters to the limit (Bell 2000). His orange robes in the streets caused laughter, and his public speaking style was uncharismatic, since he would avoid eye contact, keeping his eye on a prepared script. Nevertheless, the Buddhist Society’s journal, The Buddhist Review (BR), could say in 1909 that he left behind him, ‘golden opinions and the friendship and respect of all who had the privilege of meeting him’.7

Ananda Metteyya hoped he would return to England within three years to establish a permanent Buddhist community in the West. The hope died. One reason for this was his health, which failed rapidly on his return to Myanmar. Pereira records that he underwent two operations and reluctantly agreed to leave the Order on medical advice (Pereira 1923: 6).8 In 1914, Burmese friends sent him to England where he intended to sail from Liverpool to America to stay with his sister, but the ship’s doctor refused him passage.

From this point onwards, Allan Bennett’s story was a sad one. A doctor who was a member of the Liverpool Branch of the Buddhist Society took him in, but the financial and emotional burden of this proved too great. In 1916, an anonymous group of well-wishers appealed for money through the Buddhist Society to save Bennett from being placed ‘in some institution supported by public charity’.9

Help came, from overseas as well as Britain, and Bennett’s health rallied. In the winter of 1917–1918, he gave a series of papers to a private audience in Clifford Bax’s studio. Then, on Vesak Day (May) 1918, Bennett gave to the Buddhist Society what Christmas Humphreys called ‘a “fighting speech” which aroused the listening members to fresh enthusiasm’ (Humphreys 1968: 14).

According to one account, Bennett moved to London in 1920 (Mullen 1989: 92). Although he was incapacitated for weeks at a time, he took over the editorship of the BR from the Sri Lankan scholar, D.B. Jayatileka. The January 1922 edition was the last he edited and indeed the last that was published. He died on 9 March 1923. A Buddhist funeral service was prepared by Francis Payne, a prominent Buddhist convert from the 1908 mission.10

I will use three main sources to explore Ananda Metteyya/Allan Bennett’s representation of Buddhism. The Religion of Burma and other Papers published by the Theosophical Publishing House of India in 1929 contains talks given in Myanmar, belonging to the first decade of the twentieth century. The Wisdom of the Aryas, published in London in 1923, the year of his death, consists of the lectures delivered in 1917–1918 plus one additional paper on rebirth. Finally, his writing in the journal Buddhism is most important.

A suffering world

Ananda Metteyya’s understanding of Buddhism began with awareness of suffering (dukkha). Speaking of the progression of thought in one who attempted to look at the world with ‘the cold, clear light of Reason’, he wrote:

Firstly, he sees Life, – the interminable waves of Life’s great Ocean all around him; the pulsing, breathing, gleaming waters of the Sea of Being; and, at first thought and sight of this, he thinks: this Life is Joy.

He lives. Living, he learns. Learning, he presently comes to know – for Learning is Suffering, and Suffering is Life. He sees beneath this so fair-seeming face of Nature lies everywhere corruption. Behind all this thrilling, hoping life, reigns Death; certain, inevitable, and by all life abhorred . . . He looks deeper into life, hoping that thus he may find the secret of happiness . . . Learning more, he sees that this Nature is a battle-field.

He sees each living creature fighting for its life, Self against the Universe . . . He sees at last how all this life is a cheat, a snare
, – so long as you look at it from this standpoint of the individual. If he had had faith in God, – in some great Being who had devised the Universe, he can no longer hold it; for any being, now he clearly sees, who could have devised a Universe wherein which was all this wanton war, this piteous mass of pain coterminous with life, must have been a Demon, not a God.

(Bennett 1908a: 183–4)

Ananda Metteyya’s conclusion was that it was sacrifice that pervaded existence, not joy. His phrases were vivid: ‘Life ever offered up to Life on its own altar’ (Bennett 1923: 3); nature as ‘a slaughter-house wherein no thought of pity ever enters’ (Bennett 1929: 156); ‘Life alone can feed life’ (Bennett 1929: 170). And in ‘the Vast Emptiness’ of the cosmos there was a, ‘a horror of living past conceiving, full of the Pain of Being, darkened by Not-Understanding; thrilling with Hope in youth, and ever aging in Despair!’ (Bennett 1929: 142–3).

Part of Buddhism’s attraction for Ananda Metteyya was that it looked the truth of suffering in the eye (Bennett 1923: xiv). ‘To dare to look on life as it really is’ was the first step along the religious path (Bennett 1929: 221). It was into this suffering world that the Buddha came as liberator.

The Buddha

At a time when most Westerners were stressing the humanity and historicity of the Buddha, Ananda Metteyya was pointing out that no comparison with ordinary humanity was possible:

but his Buddhahood consists not in His humanity, but rather in the fact that, through lives of incredible effort and endurance, He has attained to a spiritual evolution which renders Him as different from a human being as the Sun is different from one of its servient planets; which makes of Him, His personality whilst it endures; His teaching, after that personality has passed away; a focal centre of spiritual power no less mighty in its sphere than that of the Sun in the material realm.

(Bennett 1923: 111)

It was compassionate self-sacrifice in innumerable lives preceding Buddhahood that qualified the Buddha for this, according to Ananda Metteyya, a sacrifice, ‘so great, so utterly beyond our ken, that we can only try to dimly represent it in terms of human life and thought and action’ (Bennett 1923: 16–17).

Acts of devotion to the Buddha, therefore, did not seem unnatural or irrational to Ananda Metteyya, and in this he knew he differed from some Western Buddhists (Bennett 1929: 341–2). When, in Myanmar, he came across an atmosphere of worship so intense that the air seemed to vibrate with a ‘palpable’ potency, an ‘immediate’ presence (Bennett 1923: 7), his reaction was not disdain but wonder. His disdain was for those who denied that the Buddha could be present in the lives of the people:

There, into the daily lives, the very speech and household customs of the common folk, this ever-present sun-light of the Teaching penetrated; there, hearing at a fiesta the gathered crowds take refuge in the Buddha, you could all but see them turn their faces to bathe them in the splendour of His very presence – till one could understand how, instead of getting angry when they hear the Christian missionaries tell them they are taking refuge in a Being whom their own religion tells them has passed utterly away, they always answer, as they do answer, only with a wise and a compassionate smile.

(Bennett 1923: 6)

The devotion of dependence and blind faith, however, he did criticize, as something akin to childhood. It could lead to heavenly rebirth but not to the ultimate goal (Bennett 1929: 370). There was a higher devotion connected with questioning, investigation and recognition: ‘the devotion that comes in the train of Understanding’ . . . ‘when we attain some glimpse of the tremendous meaning of the Love that has for us resulted in the knowledge of the Law we have’ (Bennett 1929: 320). Yet, ultimately:

The true worship of the Buddhas is not even in divinest-seeming outer offering or praise; rightly that one shall be called a follower of The Buddha, rightly will he merit the name of Buddhist, who walks the Way The Buddha found; that is, the Way, that He, the Master of Compassion, walked first Himself, twenty-five centuries ago in India.

(Bennett 1929: 320)

What the Buddha taught

Ananda Metteyya would have agreed with the theosophists that the key to the Buddhist view of the world, as taught by the Buddha, was Law, as shown in the Law of cause and effect (paticcasamuppada). But he did not see this as the exoteric component of an esoteric vision, but as making the need for the esoteric, obsolete. With the Law of Cause and Effect as shown in the Four Noble Truths (Bennett 1929: 320, 356), the need for esoteric knowledge, the goal of his youthful experimentation, was wiped out.

Ananda Metteyya could graphically describe dukkha, the First Noble Truth. His representation of the cause of dukkha varied. Sometimes he stressed tajha, craving, and appealed to science. Take the amoebae, he suggested, and dukkha can be seen. Amoebae move only when irritated, when feeling aversion. When still, they are at peace. From this, he continued, all other animal reactions have developed. By the time human aversion is reached, a thousand complex suffering-creating cravings have arisen. Yet, he preferred to cite avijja, ‘ignorance’, rather than tajha, most particularly ignorance of anatta, non-self.

Without knowledge of Buddhist ideas, he wrote, it is almost impossible to become aware ‘how much every mode of expression of western thought involves the assumption of the existence of a Self’ (Bennett 1908b: 279). The would-be Buddhist, therefore, had to learn:

Life, so far as it is individualised, enselfed, ensouled is – even as the Reason teaches – evil, coterminous with Pain . . . Give up all hope, all faith in Self . . . Dream no more ‘I am’ or ‘I shall be’ but realise, Life suffers; and only by destruction of life’s cause in Selfhood can that suffering be relieved, and Life pass nearer to the Other Shore.

(Bennett 1908a: 186–7)

There are echoes of Arnold and Rhys Davids here, but Ananda Metteyya went further. The message of the Buddha, he believed, was that dukkha was inseparably linked with belief in self. The realization of the falsity of the soul concept was, ‘the darkest hour in all the evolution of a man’. But it was ‘the darkest hour which goes before the dawn’ (Bennett 1904a: 369–70).

Undergirding this in Ananda Metteyya’s vision was cosmic interconnectedness, raised to the status of scientific truth. All life was one. There was ‘One Life’. The simile he most frequently used was of a wave:

Just as all the waters of the ocean are one water, and one body of water, so it is with this universal teeming life; and just as, in the great ocean, there is, and can be by the very nature of it, no individual body of water separate from the rest, so in life’s ocean there is – and can be by the very nature of it – no single separate unit or body of life, whether it be the highest or the lowest, most subtle or most gross . . . Each satta – each living being that our Nescience makes us regard as an individual, a real and separate entity, a self or soul or Atma – is in truth only one such wave, whether a billow or a ripple only, upon the surface of life’s ocean.

(Bennett 1904a: 165–7)

Arnold had stressed the interdependence of all. Ananda Metteyya again took the imagery further. All animal and plant life was so fused together that every action, movement or thought affected the whole, rendering meaningless any distinction between good for self and good for others. Non-recognition of this was the main cause of suffering.

When the sense of self was blown out, when the ‘One Life’ was recognized, according to Ananda Metteyya’s reading of the Buddha’s teaching, something ‘immeasurable and indescribable’ was released, taking the place of self (Bax 1968: 26–7). Ananda Metteyya sought continually to define this ‘something’. He sometimes appealed to non-possessive love, but more often to compassion or pity, rooted in the realization:

that we ourselves are but as transitory waves upon the Ocean of existence, – that all the good we do, the love we have, the wisdom that we garner and the help we give is wrought but for the reaping of the Universe, wrought because Pity is the highest Law of Life, – this is in Buddhism accounted the true beginning of all righteousness, – unselfishness that gives all, whilst knowing yet that it shall never reap the gain.

(Bennett 1904a: 363)

Compassion was the highest point in human evolution for Ananda Metteyya and it led to a missionary commitment to spread a more humane ethic:

Understanding how all of it is doomed to sorrow – wrought of the very warp and woof of Pain and Suffering and Despair – let the divine emotion of Compassion that wakes in us at the thought of it kill out all Hatred from our hearts and ways. Seeing . . . how Life is One . . . let us live no more for self’s fell phantasy, but for the All . . . let us live so that the All, the One, may be the nobler and the greater for our life.

(Bennett 1929: 177)

Within the writers I have covered, Ananda Metteyya was the first, as far as I know, to use the phrase, ‘One Life’. But he was not the first Westerner in Myanmar to do so. A civil servant with an empathic understanding of Buddhism similar to Dickson’s, H. Fielding Hall, had used the term in 1898, claiming he had drawn from oral data (Fielding Hall 1906: 250). And Frank Woodward would use it after him, from Sri Lanka (Woodward 1914: 48).

Morality and meditation

Two distinct lines of teaching are present in Ananda Metteyya’s work about how to begin the Buddhist path: act with generosity and it will affect your mind; work on your mind through meditation and it will affect both your mind and your action. He was aware that many Buddhists in Myanmar were generous simply to gain a better rebirth. He did not condemn this, but claimed that the action itself could modify the motivation, by widening, ‘the petty limits of man’s selfhood’ (Bennett 1929: 65). In other words, the Dhamma could teach that, ‘like a flame of fire, Love kindles Love, grows by the mere act of loving’ (Bennett 1929: 66).

If action could be mind-changing, Ananda Metteyya insisted that meditation could be action-changing and that it was essential, even at the beginning of the path. Sila (morality) and dana (generosity)11 were not enough alone (Bennett 1929: 327). Only meditation could give insight into the how and why of the mind and heart, enabling a person to change the constitution of his being through the power of the ‘mental element’ (Bennett 1908b: 284).

Ananda Metteyya’s response to Westerners who branded meditation as selfish was simply that ‘from the Buddhist view-point, all reformation, all attempt to help on life, can best be effected by first reforming the immediate life-kingdom of the “self"’ (Bennett 1929: 232). In other words, if you wanted to help the whole world, there was no better place to start than with the self: ‘Each thought of love, each effort after purity man makes or thinks is gain to all’ (Bennett 1903a: 22). But it had to be the right kind of meditation. If it served only to magnify the ‘I’, it could be worse than the absence of meditation (Bennett 1929: 407–8).

One practice that Ananda Metteyya recommended as action-changing at the beginning of the path was meditation on a brahmavihara (divine abiding) or an attribute of existence. Meditation on compassion, the second brahmavihara, for instance, could, he believed, open up a path with ‘power to help relieve the sorrow of the world’ (Bennett 1929: 329–30).

Right ‘watchfulness’ or ‘recollectedness’, the translation he gave of sati, more frequently translated as mindfulness, was a further practice Ananda Metteyya recommended to all, including beginners. He defined it as the observation and classification of thought, speech and action and ‘the constant application to each and all of them of the Doctrine of Selflessness’ with the thought, ‘This is not I, this is not Mine, there is no Self herein’ (Bennett 1929: 87).12 This meticulous discipline, Ananda Metteyya taught, could lead to samadhi, which he judged a higher form of meditation that could bring sudden insight.

Ananda Metteyya could find no adequate English translation for the word samadhi, usually defined as concentration, preferring the word ‘ecstacy’. He linked it with non-dual insight into the ‘One Life’. Usually the mind is like a flickering flame, he explained, oscillating continually between consciousness and unconsciousness. In samadhi the flame burns steadily and, ‘the true understanding of the Oneness of Life that makes for Peace, can be won’ (Bennett 1929: 393).

Ananda Metteyya rarely mentioned the jhana, meditative absorptions. But his writings contain one intense description of an experience that he links with entering the first, although its quality speaks more of the attainment of stream-entry (sotapatti), the first of four traditional supermundane paths in Theravada Buddhism. Meditation on compassion came first and then, a burst of liberating consciousness:

As from the heart of a dark thundercloud at night time when nought or but a little of earth or heaven can be seen, suddenly the lightning flashes, and for an instant the unseen world gleams forth in instantaneous light, light penetrating every darkest corner, flushing the clouded sky with momentary glory – so then, at that great moment, will come the realisation of all our toil. No words, no similes, no highest thought of ours can adequately convey that mighty realisation; but then, at that time, we shall know and see; we shall realise that all our life has changed of a sudden, and what of yore we deemed Compassion – what of old we deemed the utmost attainment that the mind or the life of man can compass – that is ours at last; we have won, achieved, and entered into the Path of which mere words can never tell.

(Bennett 1929: 333–4)

Ananda Metteyya did not stress upekkha, equanimity, the quality normally linked with the third and fourth jhana. Yet, there is one interesting definition of it, possibly directed at those who linked the term with apathy: ‘Discrimination or Aloofness from the worldly life’ (Bennett 1923: 104).

Nibbana – inalienable peace

Lying in creative tension within Ananda Metteyya’s work were two images: nibbana as near and attainable; nibbana as distant and indescribable. When new to monastic life, in Myanmar, it was as though he could turn the page of anicca, dukkha, anatta and find nibbana lying on the other side (Bennett 1929: 174). He wrote down his thoughts on it in the first issue of Buddhism (Bennett 1903b). ‘Peace’ was the word he used most frequently at this point to describe it, a peace linked with the death of the ‘I’. ‘It grows but from the ashes of the self outburnt’ (Bennett 1929: 48) he graphically wrote. And those who would equate it with the nihilistic he vehemently challenged:

If I am asked, ‘Is the Nibbana Annihilation? Is it Cessation? Is it the End of All?’ I reply, thus even have we learned. It is Annihilation – the annihilation of the threefold fatal fire of Passion, Wrath and Ignorance. It is Annihilation – the annihilation of conditioned being, of all that has bound and fettered us; the Cessation of the dire delusion of life that has veiled from us the splendour of the Light Beyond. It is the End of All – the end of the long tortuous pilgrimage through worlds of interminable illusion; the End of Sorrow, of Impermanence, of Self-deceit. From the torment of the sad Dream of Life an everlasting Awakening, – from the torture of selfhood an eternal Liberation; – a Being, an Existence, that to name Life were sacrilege, and to name Death a lie: – unnameable, unthinkable, yet even in this life to be realised and entered into.

(Bennett 1903b: 133)

In 1917, as war raged, however, he was less euphoric:

Nirvana stands for the Ultimate, the Beyond, and the Goal of Life – a State so utterly different from this conditioned ever-changing being of the Self-dream that we know as to lie not only quite Beyond all naming and describing; but far past even Thought itself.

(Bennett 1923: 124)

Yet, in the same talk, he could add that it lay ‘nearer to us than our nearest consciousness; even as, to him who rightly understands, it is dearer than the dearest hope that we can frame’ (Bennett 1923: 125). Struggling to explain it to Clifford Bax, though, he drew on atomic science: what happened at arahantship could be similar to atomic disintegration. Forces that had been bound together were separated and transformed into something completely different (Bax 1968: 28).

The danger of science and rationalism

As a young monk, Ananda Metteyya saw Buddhism and science walking hand in hand to bring hope to the West. Before 1914, he could claim that the knowledge science fostered would pave the way to ‘a grander and more stable civilization than ever the world has known’ through ‘the true comprehension of the nature of life and thought and hence of the universe in which we live’ (Bennett 1904b: 533). It would be a ‘New Civilisation’ in which ‘unerring Reason’ would be substituted for ‘the transitory dreams of the emotions’ (Bennett 1904b: 540).

Reason, he believed, could lead to an appreciation of Truth that would humanize society and break war-generating hatred. He was also convinced that only time was needed for science to uncover the material and psychic secrets of the universe.

Lying behind this hope was an evolutionary theory, not the kind favoured by the theosophists, but a corporate form. He imagined it as a movement from childhood to adulthood with two trajectories: one connected with compassion and the other with wisdom. Within the first, the stage of ‘childhood’ was when good was done from fear of punishment. Adolescence came when the motivation changed to the selfishness that saw the fruit of good deeds. The stage of adulthood was when good was done with no expectation of reward (Bennett 1905: 3). Within the second, childhood was when moral imperatives were accepted without question as the dictates of a hypothetical supreme being. Adolescence was the age of investigation and questioning, and adulthood the age of understanding.

When Ananda Metteyya looked at the West from Myanmar before 1908, he saw the age of investigation. He saw reason beginning to triumph over an ontology based on unquestioning faith, the mark of childhood. He was willing to praise the Western mind for its ‘incomparable achievements’ in science (Bennett 1929: 253) and looked forward to an age of understanding, as science and Buddhism joined hands. Never did he slip into the ‘trope of the child’, as identified by postcolonial writers such as Sugirtharajah: the tendency of orientalists to locate the East in a pre-enlightenment, innocent state of childhood (Sugirtharajah 2003: 31–2, 67–9). It was the West that was emerging from a state of childhood.

The First World War changed this. Ananda Metteya’s belief that the West could be reaching adolescence through severing itself from blind faith was destroyed. So, in 1920, as Allan Bennett, he lamented that scientific advance had not been accompanied by ‘improvement in matters of morality and self-restraint’ and added,

For stability, it is essential that every advance in the conquest over nature should be accompanied by an equal advance in the conquest over self; – over the spirits of greed and passion and ambition, which have brought this late calamity upon our Western world.

(Bennett 1920b: 3)

In spite of this, the final writings of Allan Bennett were optimistic. He stood before the Buddhist Society on Vesak Day, 1918, while the war still raged, and admitted that force seemed to be triumphing over reason, hate over truth and love, and heartless greed over charity (Bennett 1920a: 141–2). He recounted the Buddhist narrative of the Sakyans’ willingness to be destroyed rather than fight, and suggested that Britain should have followed that path in 1914 (Bennett 1920a: 142) in stark contrast to words uttered in 1904.13 Yet, he also exhorted everyone to have faith that ‘the Good’ would conquer in the end, and to hold fast to cultivating the ‘Heart’s Kingdom’ where truth and compassion lay. He concluded:

When, then, the dark clouds of the sad world’s dreaming gather thick around us . . . when the vast agony of life about us grips our hearts well-nigh to suffocation; even when death itself draws near; in each and every bitter circumstance of life we can find solace and new inspiration in the Law our Master left . . . And so, remembering, remembering how that great hope came to us; how He that won it was no God, but one just like ourselves, who suffered through life after life, yet ever strove to find a Way that all might follow to the Light Beyond all Life.

(Bennett 1920a: 147–8)

After the war, he urged Buddhists in Britain to move outwards. One thing the war had done, he believed, was to shake people out of apathy and materialism. Therefore, in 1920, he could write, ‘no period could possibly be more propitious to the fulfilment of our aims than that upon which we have entered’ – the aim of building Buddhism up in Britain (Bennett 1920b: 181).14

Concluding thoughts

A progression can be seen in Allan Bennett/Ananda Metteyya’s thought. In his early years as a monk, science, reason and the Dhamma seemed to offer joint hope to the world. In his later years, he realised that it was not scientific advance that would pave the way for Buddhism’s success in the West but the experience of dukkha, suffering. So, eventually, it was the religious life of Myanmar, not the scientific laboratory, that gave Ananda Metteyya his primary inspiration. In his 1917 lectures, the contrasts he wove between the brightness and intensity of Buddhist faith in Myanmar, and the greyness of wartime England were aimed at the heart rather than the intellect, at experience rather than rational argument. ‘Till I went out to the East’, he declared, ‘I did not know what it was to experience the awakening to the Buddhist light of day’ (Bennett 1923: 5). In the West, he added, one cannot find religion as such ‘a vivid, potent, living force’ as in the East (Bennett 1923: ix):

For you must understand that this is no mere cut-and-dried philosophy – as it may seem to one who reads of it out here in books – but a living, breathing Truth; a mighty power able to sweep whomsoever casts himself wholeheartedly into its great streams, far and beyond the life we know and live.

(Bennett 1923: 7)

The intensity of this awareness sometimes made the Dhamma appear to him as a bright, almost tangible, external force leading human effort onwards. There is a remarkable passage from his 1917 talks in which the Buddha and the Dhamma are seen as the source of regenerating power. Echoing Edwin Arnold, Allan Bennett stressed that there was a power ‘whereby we may enfranchise that droplet of Life’s ocean which we term ourselves’, a power that moved to good and manifested itself as sympathy and compassion. He located it in the Buddha and the Dhamma, and claimed that it ‘constitutes that force whereby we are ever, so to speak, drawn upwards out of this life in which we live, towards the State Beyond – Nirvana, the Goal towards which all Life is slowly but surely moving’ (Bennett 1923: 119).



1 Crowley’s relationship with Bennett began when both were interested in occult mysticism, and petered out when Bennett became a convinced Buddhist. Pereira met Bennett in 1900 and the friendship lasted a lifetime. Together with the Venerable Narada, DrW.A. de Silva and Hema Basnayake, Pereira founded the Servants of the Buddha in 1921 to provide a discussion forum for English-speaking Buddhists. At 65 years he was ordained as the Venerable Kassapa. His father built Maithriya Hall, Bambalapitiya (Colombo) named after Ananda Metteyya.

2 Crowley claimed that he was known all over London ‘as the one Magician who could really do big-time stuff ’ (Grant 1972: 85), which included using a wand to render motionless a sceptic who doubted its power (Symonds and Grant 1989: 180).

3 Pereira later wrote that he had thought all Bennett had taught him about meditation at that time was Buddhist but later realized that it also contained, ‘mystic Christian, Western “occult” and Hindu sources’ (Pereira 1947: 67).

4 In the late 1880s, the remedies prescribed by doctors for asthma included cocaine, opium and morphine. Bennett was heavily dependent on them (Symonds and Grant 1989: 180). See James Adam 1913, which advises the use of cocaine and, with restrictions, morphine; A.C. Wootton 1910, which affirms the beneficial effects of laudanum, an opium-based drug; Thorowgood 1894, which recommends arsenical cigarettes, cocaine, cannabis, and morphine together with less toxic drugs.

5 Ananda Metteyya became General Secretary, with Dr E.R. Rost, a Western convert to Buddhism and member of the Indian Medical Service, the Honorary Secretary. For further information about Rost see Humphreys 1968: 3–5.

6 Editorial comment, Buddhism 1, 3 March 1904: 473.

7 BR, I, 1909: 3.

8 Pereira gives no date for this. See Harris 1998: 14.

9 BR, 8, 1916: 217–9.

10 No gravestone has ever been placed on Allan Bennett’s grave, perhaps because suspicions concerning his link with esotericism continued. See Harris 1998: 17.

11 In Sri Lanka, the traditional threefold classification is: dana, sila, bhavana (giving, morality, meditation). Ananda Metteyya describes his classification, sila, dana, bhavana, as: avoiding evil, charity, meditation.

12 See also Bennett 1923: 94.

13 A 1904 editorial by Ananda Metteyya had commended the war between Japan and Russia as the fight of Japan, a Buddhist power, against ‘the most ruthless of the Christian powers’ (Buddhism, I, 4: 649).

14 He added at the end:

These facts, we consider, justify us in our conclusion that in the extension of this great Teaching lies not only the solution of the ever-growing religious problems of the West; but even, perhaps, the only possible deliverance of the western civilization from that condition of fundamental instability which now so obviously and increasingly prevails.

(Bennett 1920b: 187)
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New Ideals in Education
by https://newidealsineducation.blogspot.c ... dmond.html
Saturday, September 8, 2018



The Beginning of New Ideals and Edmond Holmes

There were three key male figures behind New Ideals in Education, who helped create the first conference and supported the organisation and later conferences.

As already mentioned, in the last blog, there was Rev Bertram Hawker, who went on to work with Save the Children, the international student union movement and helped Kurt Hahn to establish (1934) Gordonstoun School. Edmond Holmes and Earl Lytton were the other two.

Edmond Holmes

Edmond Holmes had been Chief Inspector of Schools and like Bertram Hawker, was interested in Montessori, visiting her in Rome (late 1910) whilst using an interpreter, and writing a report for the Government (published 1912). Though he had originally been inspired before 1911 by a different woman, the headteacher of Sompting School, Harriet Finlay Johnson. This lead to him promoting her and her school to local authorities and assisting her engagement with other teachers and educationalists.

He was determined to seek out innovative practice, to observe it and share it with others, this was how to define and bring about the modern school. He argued that all inspectors, who knew of innovatory methods should do the same, and that there should be a Clearing House for such experiments. This would later be set-up for the world as the International Bureau of Education, now part of UNESCO, partly from people involved in the New Education (International) Fellowship and New Ideals. Though the history, as usual, was dominated by the Fellowship's founder, Beatrice Ensor, who wrote out the influence of New Ideals, though this history was contested publicly at the time.

In New Ideals of Education Holmes initiated 'experiment days' in which teachers shared their successful innovative methods.

“Ladies and Gentlemen – Experiment Days is for me the fulfilment of a long cherished dream. For five years I was what is called Chief Inspector of Elementary Schools in England, in which capacity I visited every district in the country and got to know every inspector. My colleagues showed me sport, in the form of interesting schools; and it did not take me long to discover that in many of our elementary schools experimental work of an original type was being done, and remarkable results – not of the conventional order – were being produced. But what distressed me… Apart from HM Inspectors, the local inspector, or director, a few neighbouring teachers, and the parents of the children, no-one knew what was being done… I felt then what an urgent need there was for the establishment of what I may call a clearing-house for educational ideas and experiences…” Edmond Holmes, August 18th 1917, New Ideals Conference, Bedford College, p85

Sompting children on nature walk interview each other as flowers.

He wrote What Is and What Might Be (1911), which was based on his views of Sompting School being the model school of the future, what all schools should be like. His hero was Harriet Finlay Johnson, who had started using nature in all her lessons, to teach maths, English, history... and then realised that drama was the key creative element in her teaching method. She later wrote one of the first books on the use of drama as a teaching method, The dramatic Method of Teaching, (review in New Statesmen 1911).

Harriet Finlay Johnson was invited as a key speaker at the Montessori Conference in East Runton. Edmond Holmes gave several presentations about her work.

Holmes was very influential in effecting the views of powerful people, he visited Sir William Mather, the industrialist, who subsequently became an enthusiastic member of the New Ideals community, funding such things as 6,000 free pamphlets for teachers describing five case models of successful practice in 'liberating the child'. Published in 1917 they were distributed free to teachers requesting them, and were all distributed by 1918.

More regional and national conferences followed the one at Elsinore, including a Commonwealth Conference organized by Nunn in London to further his plan for an Institute of Education to rival Teachers College, Columbia University and the Institut J. J. Rousseau.114 In France, a new group emerged to take over Pour l’ère Nouvelle. Included in this group was the Marxist psychologist Henri Wallon, founder in 1921 of Le Groupe Français d’Education Nouvelle, who held the chair of Education and Psychology of Children at Collège de France and the Communist educator Célestin Freinet, who had been much impressed by meeting Ferrière at Montreux115.

Wallon spoke at the next international conference held at Nice in 1932. The chair of the conference was the physicist Paul Langevin, who was an honorary president of Groupe Français d’Education Nouvelle. The attendance was lower than at the previous conference but there were significant numbers from England, the USA, Germany and France. Delegates attended the conference from fifty-three different countries. Around 27% of those who spoke could be said to be from the academy.116 The conference theme was “Education in a changing society”. Harold Rugg wrote, after the conference, that it marked a turning point in the history of the NEF. A reconstructionist, Rugg was opposed to the position held by the NEF throughout the 1920s. His claim that the very theme of the conference “was indicative of a change in the vision and drive of the fellowship” was more in the nature of a wish than a reality, and he added that his was a “personal interpretation” as the conference would not adopt a “clear pronouncement”.117 This was a reference to the new principles that had already appeared in The New Era and which were discussed at the conference. These shifted the emphasis from the individual’s to social needs. Hemmings interpreted this “retreat from freedom”, as he termed it, as a response to hopes dashed by the coming to power of Stalin in the USSR on the one hand and the “infiltration” and “virtual takeover” of the NEF by a number of professors on the other. He singled out Fred Clarke, Nunn’s successor as Director of the Institute of Education in London, as initiating the turn from educational radicalism.118 This judgement individualizes what was much more a collective reorientation. It also assumes, unjustifiably, that disciplinary fields have absolute autonomy. Boyd wrote of the 1930s that, “with the growth of fascism there was a shift of interest from child to society among new educators, and gradually the concern about methods dwindled”.119

-- A new education for a new era: the contribution of the conferences of the New Education[al] Fellowship to the disciplinary field of education 1921–1938, by Kevin J. Brehony

Other people included Sir Robert Morant, Holmes' previous boss, Permanent Secretary to the Department for Education, who attended and chaired presentations at several New Ideals Conferences.

Holmes is also recognised as influencing many people in supporting the work and values of Maria Montessori.

He was on the organising committee of New Ideals, attended all the conferences that he could, and spoke at numerous events, including on comparing the educations systems of Germany and England, linking their outcomes with the war.

“The pressure of autocratic authority tends to externalise life. The verdict of authority – external, visible, embodied authority – takes the place of the verdict of experience, of life, of Nature. An officer’s or a teacher’s estimate of worth is accepted as final and decisive. An examiner’s certificate determines a man’s ‘station and degree’. Class lists, orders of merit, prizes, medals, titles, grades, and the like interpose themselves between the soul and the ultimate realities of existence. Under such a regime the sense of intrinsic reality is gradually lost. What is reported to be is a man’s chief concern, not what he really is.” Mr Edmond Holmes, New Ideals in Education Conference 1915, 'Ideals of Life and Education – German and English', P14.

Like many other activists in the movement Holmes was interested in religions from the East, Buddhism, pantheism, mysticism and theosophy, in the free development of the spirit or soul.

His publications include (as listed in Wikipedia):

• Poems (1876)
• Poems (1879)
• A Confession of Faith. By an Unorthodox Believer (1895)
• The Silence of Love (1901)
Walt Whitman's Poetry: A Study & A Selection (1902)
• The Triumph of Love (1903)
• The Creed of Christ (1905)
The Creed of Buddha (1908)
What Is and What Might Be (1911)
• The Creed of My Heart (1912)
• In Defence of What Might Be (1914)
• Sonnets to the Universe (1918)
• Sonnets and Poems
• Experience of Reality. A Study of Mysticism (1928)
• Philosophy Without Metaphysics (1930)
• The Headquarters of Reality. A Challenge to Western Thought (1933).

The Creed of Buddha, by Edmond Holmes

A brilliant set of essays were published by Personalised Education Now in their journal Spr/Sum 2010-11 Issue No 14, ISSN1756-803X, Special Issue celebrating Edmond Holmes.


The Beginning of New Ideals & Bertram Hawker
by ... rtram.html
August 21, 2018



The New Ideals in Education community started in 1914 as the first national conference of the Montessori Society held at East Runton, Norfolk, just along the coast from Cromer. Dr Maria Montessori sent them a supporting telegram, “I associate myself cordially with the Conference in favour of the liberation of the child. Grateful for the recognition of my work.” read out by the Chairman of the opening presentation, Mr B.V. Melville. 50 of the delegates were members of the Society, their names, as for later years, printed in italics in the participant list published in each conference report.

Child in Montessori School run by Bertram Hawker at E. Runton.

There were 250 delegates, many camping, and the conference was held in the grounds, buildings and barn of Rev Bertram Hawker's house, Runton Old Hall. There were the children and teachers from Hawker's Montessori School exhibiting the method. It had been created with support from the local elementary school teachers and local Board in November 1912. This was the first Montessori School in England, and reflected Hawker's enthusiasm for the method and ideas. Photographs of the school illustrated the first Montessori Handbook published in England. Hawker had given talks on Montessori around the country.

Picture from Dr Montessori's Own Handbook 1914

Hawker had been impressed by visiting Montessori's Casa dei Bambini in Rome in 1911, he funded Lillian de Lissa travelling in Europe to research methods of schooling and to be trained by Montessori. She also wrote a report for South Australian government, 'Education in certain European countries' (1915). He also helped fund and support the creation of the Kindergarten Union of South Australia, chairing their foundation meeting, as a result of being impressed by the work he saw at a special school for young children of families living at Woolloomooloo. It is interesting that the Union, founded and managed by women had to later fight the male dominated power structures of the University to maintain its autonomy over the training of Kindergarten teachers. Lillian de Lissa was opening speaker at the Montessori Conference in 1914.

Hawker earlier had worked in East London, was inspired by the settlement communities, and their work with poor children. He attended nearly all the New Ideals in Education Conferences, only speaking to replace a key speaker, like Edmond Holmes. Holmes had been chief inspector of schools in England. He saw the need for models of excellent practice to be supported, celebrated and shared. This community was inspired by the method and philosophy of Dr Maria Montessori, who believed in observing learning and teaching and basing methods on science. The founders, men and women, were practitioners and others, who saw innovative methods in practice. They would go on to create a growing community founded on innovation, observation and sharing. The common value to all this, as proposed by Percy Nunn, was 'liberating the child in the school'.

The Rev. Bertram Hawker

Despite the change in name before the next conference in 1915, and the acceptance of the value statement 'liberating the child', the conferences continued to discuss and share Montessori examples of practice; the New Ideals organising committee and delegates included members of the Montessori Society; and in the published delegates list members of the Montessori Society were continued to be highlighted in italics. This despite the anger of Dr Maria Montessori, who did not want to lose control of her methods and materials, and who ensured the new Montessori Society in England would protect her property rights.

This history shows there was no animosity towards her ideas, though healthy criticism and promotion of the idea of the ongoing development of methods, and an acceptance that they should contribute to the future of the English school. All the conferences and their reports start with a brief history of the community, always referencing the Montessori Conference at East Runton, as its birth. This does seem to contradict the history as retold by people who are from the modern international Montessori community.

One interesting thought about the relationship with Montessori was the importance of innovation and the practitioner, the scientist, the professor, was not to be elevated above the teacher. Each was to be judged by witnesses and reports of their practice.


The Most Remarkable Teacher You’ve Never Heard Of – Harriet Finlay Johnson
by Alan Parr
January 5, 2018



I recently wrote about how silly it is for critics to claim that “The Blob” introduced innovative teaching and learning methods and perverted schools in the 1960s. In fact such ideas can be traced back to a century earlier, and perhaps the most remarkable school of all could be found in a Sussex village between 1897 and 1910. Under Harriet Finlay Johnson Sompting School became famous across England and as far away as the USA and Japan.

One of the better times to be a teacher in an English elementary school was the first decade of the twentieth century. No longer did a single teacher have to cater for dozens of children in several different classes in one large room. Public attitudes had changed; large-scale absenteeism and illiteracy had been replaced by ever-increasing numbers of pupils voluntarily staying on, studying a curriculum that covered work we’d now see as largely of secondary school levels. Government and local authorities now were making it clear teachers and schools had the autonomy to teach as they themselves saw best and to take into account the needs of the school and the child.

Furthermore, the inspector’s role was completely different to before. No longer might the annual inspection humiliate children and teachers alike; he (I haven’t yet come across a female HMI, though the local authorities were now appointing women to inspect particular subjects) could now act as the friend and supporter of the school, recognising good practice and disseminating it to others.

So the climate was more friendly to experimentation and innovation than ever before. And something quite remarkable emerged in a Sussex village called Sompting. There were thousands of schools in such villages – I’ve studied half a dozen of them. A population of a few hundred, with between 100 and 150 children, many of them walking several miles a day to get to a school with just a couple of teachers. Between them, the church and the school were the focus of a way of life that was beginning to disappear as a more mechanised and urban lifestyle developed.

Harriet Finlay Johnson came to Sompting as the Head of the school in 1897. Over the next dozen years there were three features of her work that contributed to the school, and herself, becoming known across the country and far beyond. The first was a belief that children needed to be happy – “Childhood should be our happiest time” and “We do our best when we are happy.” Part of her philosophy was a strong belief that children had a personal contribution to make to the learning of themselves and their classmates – “Children have a wonderful faculty for teaching other children and learning from them.” This became the culture, not just in the main school but in the infant section as well.


Creating a positive approach to learning was more important to her “than the mere ability to spell a large number of extraordinary words, to work a certain number of sums on set rules, or to be able to read whole pages of printed matter without being able to comprehend a single idea, or to originate any new train of thought”. She went much further than this, and – in words that still seem pretty revolutionary more than a century later – worked towards the teacher being an equal partner with the child in the decision-making process “… the teacher, being a companion to and fellow worker with the pupils, … shared in the citizen’s right of holding an opinion, being heard, therefore, not as “absolute monarch,” but on the same grounds as the children themselves”.

The second reason for her becoming widely known was the emphasis she placed upon making the study of nature a main focus of the curriculum. Not as a sedentary classroom subject, but with frequent rambles and nature walks, and gardening. She was able to use the interest in nature as a basis for lessons across almost the whole curriculum – in singing, reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, composition, grammar, geography. Children without gardens of their own would adopt neglected areas in the village, and by 1903 her work in Nature Study had brought her recognition and she was invited to become a member of the Education Advisory Committee for West Sussex. In the following year she spoke on “The Teaching Of Nature Study in Public Elementary Schools” to managers and teachers.


The third aspect perhaps brought her most recognition of all. By her own account, it developed almost by accident as the result of a remark by a pupil. She’d always been keen to make use of role play, whether in geography, arithmetic, or most other subjects, and one day in a history lesson, a boy asked “Couldn’t we play Ivanhoe?” According to her, the effect was literally dramatic, eventually culminating in her book “The Dramatic Method of Teaching”.

Following the Ivanhoe suggestion the children threw themselves into the book ever more deeply. They needed to decide which episodes to dramatise, they researched costumes, dialogue, and the selection of props. With some satisfaction Harriet Finlay Johnson said “we had put the text book in its proper place, not as the principal means, but merely as a reference, and for assistance“.


Before long the “dramatic method” became the central feature of her school’s curriculum, so effectively that many children chose the works of Shakespeare as their leaving present. Indeed, in 1908 the young men of the village (many of them, of course, Harriet Finlay Johnson’s ex-pupils) asked her to help them form an evening drama club. Their version of Julius Caesar was performed at Worthing and received local and national praise.

I can best put her work into perspective by mentioning another school I’ve studied in some depth. I recently gave a talk to the local history group at Ayhno. The similarities could hardly be greater – Sompting and Aynho were both rural villages with about 120 children in the school. Both had heads with previous experience, who were both supported by close family members – Harriet Finlay Johnson had her sister to teach the infants, Allen R Hill at Aynho had his daughter Edith. Their careers were exactly contemporaneous – Harriet Finlay Johnson was at Sompting from 1897 to 1910, Allen Hill at Aynho from 1897 to at least 1908.

Yet their achievements and the atmosphere of their schools were completely different. On one occasion at Sompting an emergency meant there were no adults in the school. When Harriet Finlay Johnson finally arrived halfway through the session she found everyone hard at work. The oldest children had organised a programme, selected teachers and topics, and implemented lessons across both the main school and the infants as well.

But even after ten years at Aynho Allen R Hill had a school where commitment and discipline were a daily challenge. Not a week goes by without his recording bad behaviour and the use of physical punishment; on occasion he even calls the police. And Sompting pupils weren’t naturally angelic – they didn’t come out well in inspection reports before Harriet arrived, and when she left she was replaced by a strict disciplinarian who had to be dismissed when his severe beatings of pupils caused uproar.

Allen Hill accepted a ferocious workload and worked with total commitment, but even in Aynho he’s forgotten, while in Sompting the village community centre bears Harriet Finlay Johnson’s name and a blue plaque commemorates her life.


For several years visitors flocked to Sompting School. Four members of HMI came in a single year; the Chief Inspector made visit after visit. Cumberland – just about as far away from Sussex as a county can be – sent its inspector. Colleges sent tutors and their students, and reporters came from the Daily Mirror and Daily Mail.

She wrote a book called “The Dramatic Method of Teaching”, which received an enthusiastic review in The Spectator. Both the full text of the book and the review are easily available online: ... f-teaching

Interviewed many years later, ex-pupils remembered her ability to put her ideas into action and carry children with her. She gave children responsibility, and expected them to think for themselves. (“I began to see how it might be possible to throw more of the actual lessons, including their preparation and arrangement, onto the scholars themselves. Besides, in my opinion, more than half the benefit of the lesson lies in the act of preparing it, in hunting its materials out of hidden sources and collecting them into shape”).

This wasn’t necessarily popular – at a school entertainment evening a lady visitor said “This is all very fine, but if this sort of thing goes on, where are we going to find our servants?”

The Vicar had a similar complaint. In the same year (1907) he grumbled that too many of the village’s 13-yearolds were staying on at school rather than going out to work. He accused them of being “unenterprising”, but in fact their willingness to learn, commitment, and all-round knowledge meant Sompting pupils were highly sought-after by potential employers.

By the end of the decade important people in the education world were saying that Sompting was not just a wonderfully effective school, but the best school in the land. If, like me, you’ve never heard of Harriet Finlay Johnson, you may be wondering two things. Exactly how did she become so well known that her work influenced thinking as far away as Japan and the USA? And why did her classroom career come to an end in 1910, when she was still only in her thirties and had years more to offer?

I guess I’d better write part (ii) and tell you what happened.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Mon Oct 21, 2019 8:48 am

Montessori and the Theosophical Society
by Winifred Wylie
The Theosophical Society in America
Originally printed in the MARCH-APRIL 2008 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Wylie, Winifred . "Montessori and the Theosophical Society." Quest 96.2 (MARCH-APRIL 2008): 53-55.



MARIA MONTESSORI had her first acquaintance with Theosophy, early in the twentieth century, when she went to hear Annie Besant speak in London in 1907 after Montessori had established her first Casa dei Bambini (i.e., Children's House). Annie Besant spoke in praise of Montessori's work in education which pleased Montessori, and thus sealed their friendship.

There are many parallels between the lives of Montessori and Besant: both broke through barriers against women; both were interested in modern exact science and mysticism; and both were charismatic speakers who lectured throughout the world. But perhaps the most important parallel was their common vision of the evolution and the oneness of life.

Maria Montessori was born on August 31, 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, and died on May 6, 1952, just before her eighty-second birthday. By the time of her death, her schools were established all over the world. Her innovative ideas of having furniture designed to fit the size of children and providing climbing apparatus for them to exercise on, are both common in schools of today. Other teaching initiatives introduced by Montessori came after careful scientific observation of children and include the recognition that there are sensitive periods when children are ready to learn things, such as language, more easily than at other times in their development; the provision of mixed age classrooms where children help each other to learn; and also, a learning environment where children have the freedom to select their own materials to work with.

As a woman living in the Italy of 1870, Montessori was expected to marry and have children. But, over her father's objections, she insisted on going to technical school and then being trained as a doctor even though this was unheard of for a woman at that time. Maria Montessori would be surprised and encouraged to see how the role of women has expanded since her time, but unfortunately, she would also find the need for a new education that promotes world peace just as necessary today as when she wrote Education for a New World.

Montessori specialized in work with mentally challenged children, using ideas and apparatus inspired by early educators Itard, Seguin, and Froebel. She then designed new materials of her own to help the children learn. She was so successful in teaching these mentally challenged children that they passed the exam for normal children of their own age. Montessori felt that if these children could do so well, then normal children should be able to do much better, and she wanted the opportunity to work with them.

When the officials of Rome did a tenement clearance project in a very poor area called San Lorenzo, they were afraid that the children age five and under would mark up the walls because they were often left home alone. The officials invited Montessori to start a school for them. She agreed, and after careful observation of public school classrooms, she redesigned the San Lorenzo classroom with furniture made for the size of the children and also cabinets proportioned to their height to hold materials for them. She used the same materials she had used with the mentally challenged children and also designed new materials as the children learned quickly and needed them. The environment of the first Montessori classroom transformed the behavior of the children. They became independent, confident, orderly, and loving three, four, and five year-olds. This attracted the world's attention and began Montessori's life work of training new teachers and establishing new schools.

Montessori was sixty-nine years old when she first went to India. She was invited to give a Montessori Training Course at Adyar by the then international president of the Theosophical Society, George Arundale. He had made the invitation to Montessori while he and his wife, Rukmini Devi, were visiting her in Holland. It was fortunate that Montessori accepted the invitation and left Europe at that time. Later that year the Second World War broke out. All of the centers where Montessori had worked: Spain, Italy, and Holland, had become very dangerous places.

The Arundales went to the airport in Madras to meet Maria and her son, Mario. Despite her age, Maria was full of energy and eager to plan her training course. She felt very much at home at Adyar. It was a place where her mysticism was understood and could be shared with others. Theosophical workers arranged palm leaf huts and a palm leaf lecture hall at Olcott Gardens. Three hundred teachers and student teachers came from all over India to attend the training course.
This was a much larger group than had been expected! They were eager to hear Montessori and put her ideas into action. Maria spoke in Italian, and Mario translated into English.

When World War II began in the fall of 1939, Italy entered the war on the side of the Germans and England interned all Italians in the British territories. Mario was interned in a camp for civilians in Amednagar and Maria was confined to the compound at Adyar. (She was allowed to spend the hot summer months at the hill stations of Ooty and Kodaikanal.) But Maria was very unhappy that she and her son were being treated like prisoners. After all, Montessori had already left Italy in protest of Mussolini's treatment of her schools. Many of Montessori's supporters protested to the authorities.

Finally, on August 31, 1940, she received a telegram from the Viceroy of India that read,"We have long thought what to give you for your seventieth birthday. We thought that the best present we could give you was to send you back your son." Mario and Maria spent the remainder of the war years working together in India and the Theosophical Society sponsored it.

My own acquaintance with Montessori began through the Theosophical Society and reading her writings. In 1940, when I was seven years old, my family moved to a farm northeast of Ann Arbor, Michigan. My father's dream was to make it a Theosophical community and, for a while, it was. In 1956 my former sister-in-law, Barbara Bailey, and I started the first Montessori school in Michigan. In 1970, I took the Montessori Elementary training course for teachers in Bergamo, Italy and while there learned that some of the Montessori Elementary educational materials had been designed while Montessori was in India.

Many features designed for the elementary children reflect Montessori's deep thought and mystical perceptions about the work of humans and the environment of planet Earth. The elementary curriculum, called "Cosmic Education" was designed around the history of the earth. Everything that was taught was traced back to when it had been discovered in history: the roots of history, language, mathematics, and geometry were all traced back. Montessori felt it was very important to have the children know and have great respect for all the humans from the past who had contributed to making their life easier.

When Montessori looked at children, she saw what others did not. People had preconceived ideas of what children were like and they often saw what they expected instead of what was truly there. Montessori told her teachers to look for the hidden child and that it would reveal itself through creative work. The job of the teacher, she taught, was to find the right work for each child and when he or she was quiet and deeply absorbed in the work to walk on tiptoe, not to disturb this magical stage of the child finding him or herself. She said creative work by one child created an atmosphere that attracted other children to make their own search for creative work, and eventually, the whole classroom would become quiet as if in a state of meditation.

Montessori's formal training had been in the field of medicine and science and these influences were important in the development of the Montessori Curriculum. For example, the Curriculum included time lines of human history paralleling the time line of planet Earth, showing four and one half billion years of development from the Pre-Cambrian to the modern era. Everything on the earth contributes to the whole as well as to its own interests. During the training course I took, Seeora Honegar told a story about one child in the Montessori classroom who said that he did not want to contribute to the whole so he was just going to sit and do nothing. Another child said to him that even if he just sat there he was still part of the oxygen cycle. Then the child said he would die. The other child replied that even if he died his body would become part of the earth and would be used by the plants that would then be eaten by the animals.

Montessori said that evolution is not marked so much by the power of tooth and claw, but by the development of the power of love. The earliest creatures, such as the spawning fish, gave birth to their young and did not recognize them. But evolutionary time went on and birds developed. They kept their babies warm and fed them, and even would give up their lives to defend their chicks. Then there are mammals who carry their young safely inside the mother. Humans have the longest childhood of any of the mammals. They go through wonderful sensitive periods when they learn the unique qualities which make them human, such as the ability to speak the language of their parents; which they learn to do perfectly, beginning at the remarkably early age of about two. They learn so perfectly because there is a sensitivity to what they hear which is unique to them, and, for the rest of their lives, this is called their mother tongue.

Among the elementary materials, there is a chart showing water evaporating off the ocean like children climbing a high hill, and then, the children are blown over the land, sliding down again as water droplets, as if in an endless joyous game. Likewise, the rivers of earth are compared to the rivers of blood in our bodies, carrying nutrients everywhere and cleaning the planet. These images make one think of earth as a giant being, just as some scientists have come to the concept of Gaia.

Our modern world is poised between what can be observed by our five senses, that is, the realm of science, and that which we sense by intuition and our heart, the realm of mysticism. Maria Montessori and Annie Besant were both pioneers in the exploration of the areas where these two realms intersect. Their work combined the vision of exact measurement and comparison with the deep empathy of intuition. It is no wonder they became good friends. They left a legacy of awareness and understanding of the wholeness of life, which the world is sorely in need of today.

Winifred Wylie is a second generation Theosophist with a very rich history. She first visited the Olcott campus at the age of five where she met George Arundale and Rukmini Devi. She was also fortunate to hear L. W. Rogers speak on being a Theosophical lecturer. As a young woman, she was president of the Young Theosophists when Jim Perkins supervised the organizing of the youth circle at Olcott. After earning degrees in Classical Studies (she was interested in archaeology) and Education, she received her Montessori Elementary Diploma in Bergamo, Italy and started the first Montessori school in the state of Michigan. Winnie is actively involved in the Ann Arbor Lodge in Michigan.
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Re: Freda Bedi, by Wikipedia

Postby admin » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:46 am

Part 1 of 3

Wilhelm Reich
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 10/22/19



Wilhelm Reich
Reich in his mid-20s
Born 24 March 1897
Dobzau, Austria-Hungary (present day Ukraine)
Died 3 November 1957 (aged 60)
United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Cause of death Heart failure
Resting place Orgonon, Rangeley, Maine, United States
44.991027°N 70.713902°W
Nationality Austrian
Medical career
Education M.D. (1922), University of Vienna
Speciality Psychoanalysis
Institutions Vienna City Hospital; Vienna Ambulatorium; University of Oslo; The New School, New York
Known for
Character analysis muscular armour orgastic potency vegetotherapy Freudo-Marxism orgone
Notable work
Character Analysis (1933)
The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933)
The Sexual Revolution (1936)
Annie Reich, née Pink (m. 1922–1933)
Elsa Lindenberg (1932–1939)
Ilse Ollendorf (m. 1946–1951)
Aurora Karrer (1955–1957)
Eva Reich [de] (1924–2008)
Lore Reich Rubin (b. 1928)
Peter Reich (b. 1944)
Leon Reich, Cecilia Roniger
Relatives Robert Reich (brother)

Wilhelm Reich (/raɪx/; German: [ʁaɪç]; 24 March 1897 – 3 November 1957) was an Austrian doctor of medicine and psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of analysts after Sigmund Freud.[1] The author of several influential books, most notably Character Analysis (1933), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), and The Sexual Revolution (1936), Reich became known as one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.[2][n 1]

Reich's work on character contributed to the development of Anna Freud's The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence (1936), and his idea of muscular armour—the expression of the personality in the way the body moves—shaped innovations such as body psychotherapy, Gestalt therapy, bioenergetic analysis and primal therapy.[6] His writing influenced generations of intellectuals; he coined the phrase "the sexual revolution" and according to one historian acted as its midwife.
[7] During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of The Mass Psychology of Fascism at police.[8]

After graduating in medicine from the University of Vienna in 1922, Reich became deputy director of Freud's outpatient clinic, the Vienna Ambulatorium.[9] Described by Elizabeth Danto as a large man with a cantankerous style who managed to look scruffy and elegant at the same time, he tried to reconcile psychoanalysis with Marxism, arguing that neurosis is rooted in sexual and socio-economic conditions, and in particular in a lack of what he called "orgastic potency". He visited patients in their homes to see how they lived, and took to the streets in a mobile clinic, promoting adolescent sexuality and the availability of contraceptives, abortion and divorce, a provocative message in Catholic Austria.[10] He said he wanted to "attack the neurosis by its prevention rather than treatment".[11]

From the 1930s he became an increasingly controversial figure, and from 1932 until his death in 1957 all his work was self-published.[12] His message of sexual liberation disturbed the psychoanalytic community and his political associates, and his vegetotherapy, in which he massaged his disrobed patients to dissolve their "muscular armour", violated the key taboos of psychoanalysis.[13] He moved to New York in 1939, in part to escape the Nazis, and shortly after arriving coined the term "orgone"—from "orgasm" and "organism"—for a biological energy he said he had discovered, which he said others called God. In 1940 he started building orgone accumulators, devices that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.[14]

Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper's in 1947, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a "fraud of the first magnitude".[15] Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years imprisonment, and that summer over six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court.[n 2] He died in prison of heart failure just over a year later, days before he was due to apply for parole.[18]

Early life


Reich in 1900

Reich was born the first of two sons to Leon Reich, a farmer, and his wife Cäcilie (née Roniger) in Dobzau, Galicia, then part of Austria-Hungary, now in Ukraine. There was a sister too, born one year after Reich, but she died in infancy. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Jujinetz, a village in Bukovina, where his father ran a cattle farm leased by his mother's uncle, Josef Blum.[19]

His father was described as a jealous man.[20] Both parents were Jewish, but decided against raising the boys as Jews. Reich and his brother, Robert, were brought up to speak only German, were punished for using Yiddish expressions and forbidden from playing with the local Yiddish-speaking children.[21]

As an adult Reich wrote extensively, in his diary, about his sexual precocity. He maintained that his first sexual experience was at the age of four when he tried to have sex with the family maid (with whom he shared a bed), that he would regularly watch the farm animals have sex, that he used a whip handle sexually on the horses while masturbating, and that he had almost daily sexual intercourse from the age of 11 with another of the servants. He wrote of regular visits to brothels, the first when he was 15, and said he was visiting them daily from the age of around 17. He also developed sexual fantasies about his mother, writing when he was 22 that he masturbated while thinking about her.[22]

It is impossible to judge the truth of these diary entries, but Reich's second daughter, the psychiatrist Lore Reich Rubin, told Christopher Turner that she believed Reich had been a victim of child sexual abuse, and that this explained his lifelong interest in sex and childhood sexuality.[23]

Death of parents

Reich was taught at home until he was 12, when his mother was discovered having an affair with his live-in tutor. Reich wrote about the affair in 1920 in his first published paper, "Über einen Fall von Durchbruch der Inzestschranke" ("About a Case of Breaching the Incest Taboo"), presented in the third person as though about a patient.[24] He wrote that he would follow his mother when she went to the tutor's bedroom at night, feeling ashamed and jealous, and wondering if they would kill him if they found out that he knew. He briefly thought of forcing her to have sex with him, on pain of threatening to tell his father. In the end, he did tell his father, and after a protracted period of beatings, his mother committed suicide in 1910, for which Reich blamed himself.[24]

With the tutor ordered out of the house, Reich was sent to an all-male gymnasium in Czernowitz. It was during this period that a skin condition appeared, diagnosed as psoriasis, that plagued him for the rest of his life, leading several commentators to remark on his ruddy complexion. He visited brothels every day and wrote in his diary of his disgust for the women.[25] His father died of tuberculosis in 1914, and because of rampant inflation the father's insurance was worthless, so no money was forthcoming for the brothers.[26] Reich managed the farm and continued with his studies, graduating in 1915 with Stimmeneinhelligkeit (unanimous approval). The Russians invaded Bukovina that summer and the Reich brothers fled, losing everything. Reich wrote in his diary: "I never saw either my homeland or my possessions again. Of a well-to-do past, nothing was left."[27]

1919–1930: Vienna

Undergraduate studies

Reich joined the Austro-Hungarian Army during the First World War, serving from 1915 to 1918, for the last two years as a lieutenant at the Italian front with 40 men under his command. When the war ended he headed for Vienna, enrolling in law at the University of Vienna, but found it dull and switched to medicine after the first semester. He arrived with nothing in a city with little to offer; the overthrow of the Austria-Hungarian empire a few weeks earlier had left the newly formed Republic of German-Austria in the grip of famine. Reich lived on soup, oats and dried fruit from the university canteen, and shared an unheated room with his brother and another undergraduate, wearing his coat and gloves indoors to stave off the cold. He fell in love with another medical student, Lia Laszky, with whom he was dissecting a corpse, but it was largely unrequited.[28]

Myron Sharaf, his biographer, wrote that Reich loved medicine but was caught between a reductionist/ mechanistic and vitalist view of the world.[29] Reich wrote later of this period:

The question, "What is Life?" lay behind everything I learned. ... It became clear that the mechanistic concept of life, which dominated our study of medicine at the time, was unsatisfactory ... There was no denying the principle of creative power governing life; only it was not satisfactory as long as it was not tangible, as long as it could not be described or practically handled. For, rightly, this was considered the supreme goal of natural science.[29]

Introduction to Freud

Sigmund Freud

Reich first met Sigmund Freud in 1919 when he asked Freud for a reading list for a seminar concerning sexology. It seems they left a strong impression on each other. Freud allowed him to start meeting with analytic patients in September that year, although Reich was just 22 years old and still an undergraduate, which gave him a small income. He was accepted as a guest member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association, becoming a regular member in October 1920, and began his own analysis with Isidor Sadger. He lived and worked out of an apartment on Berggasse 7, the street on which Freud lived at no. 19, in the Alsergrund area of Vienna.[30]

One of Reich's first patients was Lore Kahn, a 19-year-old woman with whom he had an affair.
Freud had warned analysts not to involve themselves with their patients, but in the early days of psychoanalysis the warnings went unheeded. According to Reich's diaries, Kahn became ill in November 1920 and died of sepsis after sleeping in a bitterly cold room she had rented as a place for her and Reich to meet (both his landlady and her parents had forbidden their meetings). Kahn's mother suspected that her daughter had died after a botched illegal abortion, possibly performed by Reich himself. According to Christopher Turner, she found some of her daughter's bloodied underwear in a cupboard.[31]

It was a serious allegation to make against a physician. Reich wrote in his diary that the mother had been attracted to him and had made the allegation to damage him. She later committed suicide and Reich blamed himself.[31] If Kahn did have an abortion, Turner wrote, she was the first of four of Reich's partners to do so: Annie, his first wife, had several, and his long-term partners Elsa Lindenberg and Ilse Ollendorf (his second wife) each had one (supposedly) at Reich's insistence.[32]

First marriage, graduation

Two months after Kahn's death, Reich accepted her friend, Annie Pink (1902–1971), as an analysand. Pink was Reich's fourth female patient, a medical student three months shy of her 19th birthday. He had an affair with her too, and married her in March 1922 at her father's insistence, with psychoanalysts Otto Fenichel and Edith Buxbaum as witnesses.[33] Annie Reich became a well-known psychoanalyst herself. The marriage produced two daughters, Eva (1924–2008) and Lore (b. 1928), both of whom became physicians; Lore Reich Rubin also became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.[34]

Because he was a war veteran, Reich was allowed to complete a combined bachelor's and M.D. in four years, instead of six, and graduated in July 1922.[35] After graduating, he worked in internal medicine at the city's University Hospital, and studied neuropsychiatry from 1922 to 1924 at the hospital's neurological and psychiatric clinic under Professor Julius Wagner von Jauregg, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1927.[36]

Vienna Ambulatorium

Staff of the Vienna Ambulatorium, 1922. Eduard Hitschmann is seated fourth from the left, Reich fifth, and Annie Reich first on the right.

In 1922 Reich began working in Freud's psychoanalytic outpatient clinic, known as the Vienna Ambulatorium, which was opened on 22 May that year at Pelikangasse 18 by Eduard Hitschmann. Reich became the assistant director under Hitschmann in 1924 and worked there until his move to Berlin in 1930.[37]

Between 1922 and 1932 the clinic offered free or reduced-cost psychoanalysis to 1,445 men and 800 women, many suffering from shell shock after World War I. It was the second such clinic to open under Freud's direction; the first was the Poliklinik in Berlin, set up in 1920 by Max Eitingon and Ernst Simmel.[38]

Sharaf writes that working with labourers, farmers and students allowed Reich to move away from treating neurotic symptoms to observing chaotic lifestyles and anti-social personalities.[36] Reich argued that neurotic symptoms such as obsessive–compulsive disorder were an unconscious attempt to gain control of a hostile environment, including poverty or childhood abuse. They were examples of what he called "character armour" (Charakterpanzer), repetitive patterns of behaviour, speech and body posture that served as defence mechanisms. According to Danto, Reich sought out patients at the Ambulatorium who had been diagnosed as psychopaths, believing that psychoanalysis could free them of their rage.[39]

Reich joined the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Institute in Vienna in 1924 and became its director of training.[40] According to Danto, he was well-regarded for the weekly technical seminars he chaired at the Ambulatorium, where he gave papers on his theory of character structure, arguing that psychoanalysis should be based on the examination of unconscious character traits, later known as ego defences.[41] The seminars were attended, from 1927, by Fritz Perls, who went on to develop Gestalt therapy with his wife, Laura Perls.[42] Several commentators remarked on how captivating the seminars were and how eloquently Reich spoke. According to a Danish newspaper in 1934:

The moment he starts to speak, not at the lectern, but walking around it on cat's paws, he is simply enchanting. In the Middle Ages, this man would have been sent into exile. He is not only eloquent, he also keeps his listeners spellbound by his sparking personality, reflected in his small, dark eyes.[43]

Der triebhafte Charakter

Reich's first book, Der triebhafte Charakter: eine psychoanalytische Studie zur Pathologie des Ich ("The Impulsive Character: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Pathology of the Self"), was published in 1925.[44] It was a study of the anti-social personalities he had encountered in the Ambulatorium, and argued the need for a systematic theory of character.[45] The book won him professional recognition, including from Freud, who in 1927 arranged for his appointment to the executive committee of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society.[46] The appointment was made over the objection of Paul Federn, who had been Reich's second analyst in 1922 and who, according to Sharaf, regarded Reich as a psychopath.[n 3] Reich found the society dull and wrote that he behaved "like a shark in a pond of carps".[49]

Orgastic potency

Further information: Orgastic potency

Reich lived for a time on Berggasse in Vienna (seen here in 2010), where Freud lived at number 19

Beginning in 1924 Reich published a series of papers on the idea of "orgastic potency", the ability to release the emotions from the muscles and lose the self in an uninhibited orgasm, an idea that Freud came to call Reich's "Steckenpferd" (hobby horse).[50] Reich argued that psychic health and the ability to love depended on orgastic potency, the full discharge of the libido: "Sexual release in the sex act must correspond to the excitement which leads up to it."[51] He wrote: "It is not just to fuck ... not the embrace in itself, not the intercourse. It is the real emotional experience of the loss of your ego, of your whole spiritual self."[52] He argued that orgastic potency was the goal of character analysis.[53]

Whereas Reich's work on character was well received by the psychoanalytic community, Sharaf writes, his work on orgastic potency was unpopular from the start and later ridiculed. He came to be known as the "prophet of the better orgasm" and the "founder of a genital utopia".[54]

Rest cure in Switzerland

Reich's brother died of tuberculosis (TB) in 1926, the same disease that had killed their father. Turner writes that a quarter of deaths in Vienna were caused by TB in the 1920s. Reich himself contracted it in 1927 and spent several weeks in the winter of that year in a sanitorium in Davos, Switzerland, where TB patients went for rest cures and fresh air before antibiotics became widely available around 1945. Turner writes that Reich underwent a political and existential crisis in Davos; he returned home in the spring angry and paranoid, according to Annie Reich. Some months later he and Annie were on the streets during the July Revolt of 1927 in Vienna, when 84 workers were shot and killed by police and another 600 were injured. It seems that the experience changed Reich; he wrote that it was his first encounter with human irrationality.[55] He began to doubt everything, and in 1928 joined the Communist Party of Austria:

As if struck by a blow, one suddenly recognizes the scientific futility, the biological senselessness, and the social noxiousness of views and institutions, which until that moment had seemed altogether natural and self-evident. It is a kind of eschatological experience so frequently encountered in a pathological form in schizophrenics. I might even voice the belief that the schizophrenic form of psychic illness is regularly accompanied by illuminating insight into the irrationalism of social and political mores.[56]

Sex-pol movement

Partly in response to the shooting he had witnessed in Vienna, Reich, then 30, opened six free sex-counselling clinics in the city in 1927 for working-class patients. Each clinic was overseen by a physician, with three obstetricians and a lawyer on call, and offered what Reich called Sex-Pol counselling. Sex-Pol stood for the German Society of Proletarian Sexual Politics. Reich offered a mixture of "psychoanalytic counseling, Marxist advice and contraceptives", Danto writes, and argued for a sexual permissiveness, including for young people and the unmarried, that unsettled other psychoanalysts and the political left. The clinics were immediately overcrowded by people seeking help.[57]

He also took to the streets in a mobile clinic, driving to parks and out to the suburbs with other psychoanalysts and physicians. Reich would talk to the teenagers and men, while a gynaecologist fitted the women with contraceptive devices, and Lia Laszky, the woman Reich fell in love with at medical school, spoke to the children. They also distributed sex-education pamphlets door to door.[58]

Die Funktion des Orgasmus

Further information: Die Funktion des Orgasmus

Reich published Die Funktion des Orgasmus ("The Function of the Orgasm") in 1927, dedicating it to Freud. He had presented a copy of the manuscript to Freud on the latter's 70th birthday on 6 May 1926.[59] Freud had not appeared impressed. He replied, "That thick?" when Reich handed it to him, and took two months to write a brief but positive letter in response, which Reich interpreted as a rejection.[60][n 4] Freud's view was that the matter was more complicated than Reich suggested, and that there was no single cause of neurosis.[61] He wrote in 1928 to another psychoanalyst, Dr. Lou Andreas-Salomé:

We have here a Dr. Reich, a worthy but impetuous young man, passionately devoted to his hobby-horse, who now salutes in the genital orgasm the antidote to every neurosis. Perhaps he might learn from your analysis of K. to feel some respect for the complicated nature of the psyche.[62]

Visit to Soviet Union

In 1929 Reich and his wife visited the Soviet Union on a lecture tour, leaving the two children in the care of the psychoanalyst Berta Bornstein. Sharaf writes that he returned even more convinced of the link between sexual and economic oppression, and of the need to integrate Marx and Freud.[63] In 1929 his article "Dialectical Materialism and Psychoanalysis" was published in Unter dem Banner des Marxismus, the German Communist Party journal. The article explored whether psychoanalysis was compatible with historical materialism, class struggle and proletarian revolution. Reich concluded that they were compatible if dialectical materialism was applied to psychology.[64] This was one of the central theoretical statements of his Marxist period, which included The Imposition of Sexual Morality (1932), The Sexual Struggle of Youth (1932), The Mass Psychology of Fascism (1933), "What is Class Consciousness?" (1934) and The Sexual Revolution (1936).

1930–1934: Germany, Denmark, Sweden

Verlag für Sexualpolitik

Plaque on Schlangenbader Straße 87, Berlin-Wilmersdorf, the house in which Reich lived, 1931–1933.

Reich and his wife moved to Berlin in November 1930, where he set up clinics in working-class areas, taught sex education and published pamphlets. He joined the Communist Party of Germany, but grew impatient over their delay in publishing one of his pamphlets, Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend (1932), published in English as The Sexual Struggle of Youth (1972). He set up his own publishing house, Verlag für Sexualpolitik, and published the pamphlet himself.[65]

His subsequent involvement in a conference promoting adolescent sexuality caused the party to announce that it would no longer publish his material. On March 24, 1933 Freud told him that his contract with the International Psychoanalytic Publishers to publish Character Analysis had been cancelled. Sharaf writes that this was almost certainly because of Reich's stance on teenage sex.[65]

Character Analysis

Further information: Character Analysis

Reich published what Robert Corrington called his masterpiece, Charakteranalyse: Technik und Grundlagen für studierende und praktizierende Analytiker, in 1933. It was revised and published in English in 1946 and 1949 as Character Analysis. The book sought to move psychoanalysis toward a reconfiguration of character structure.[66]

For Reich, character structure was the result of social processes, in particular a reflection of castration and Oedipal anxieties playing themselves out within the nuclear family.[66] Les Greenberg and Jeremy Safran write that Reich proposed a functional identity between the character, emotional blocks, and tension in the body, or what he called character (or muscular/body) armour (Charakterpanzer).[67]

Reich proposed that muscular armour was a defence that contained the history of the patient's traumas.[68] For example, he blamed Freud's jaw cancer on his muscular armour, rather than his smoking: Freud's Judaism meant he was "biting down" impulses, rather than expressing them.[69] Dissolving the armour would bring back the memory of the childhood repression that had caused the blockage in the first place.[67]

End of first marriage

Reich had several affairs during his marriage to Annie Reich, which ended in 1933 after he began a serious relationship in May 1932 with Elsa Lindenberg, a dancer and pupil of Elsa Gindler.[70] He was living with Lindenberg in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933. On March 2 that year the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an attack on Der Sexuelle Kampf der Jugend.[71] Reich and Lindenberg left for Vienna the next day. They moved from there to Denmark, where Reich was excluded from the Danish Communist Party in November 1933 (without ever having joined it) because of his promotion of teenage sex and the publication that year of The Mass Psychology of Fascism, which they regarded as "counterrevolutionary". There were multiple complaints about his promotion of abortion, sex education, and the attempted suicide of a teenage patient. According to Turner, when Reich's visa expired, it was not renewed.[72]

He tried to find support among psychoanalysts in the UK so that he could settle there, and was interviewed in London by Ernest Jones, Melanie Klein, Joan Riviere and James Strachey. They decided that he had been "insufficiently analysed" and had an unresolved hostility toward Freud.[73] Anna Freud, Freud's daughter—whom Jones had contacted about Reich's desire to relocate to England—wrote in 1938: "There is a wall somewhere where he stops to understand the other person's point of view and flies off into a world of his own ... He is an unhappy person ... and I am afraid this will end in sickness."[74]

Reich and Lindenberg moved instead to Malmö in Sweden, which Reich described as "better than a concentration camp", but he was placed under surveillance when police suspected that the hourly visits of patients to his hotel room meant he was running a brothel, with Lindenberg as the prostitute.[75] The government declined to extend his visa, and the couple had to move briefly back to Denmark, Reich under an assumed name.[76]


Further information: Vegetotherapy

From 1930 onwards, Reich began to treat patients outside the limits of psychoanalysis's restrictions. He would sit opposite them, rather than behind them as they lay on a couch (the traditional psychoanalyst's position), and begin talking to them and answering their questions, instead of offering the stock, "Why do you ask?" analyst's response. He had noticed that after a successful course of psychoanalysis his patients would hold their bodies differently, so he began to try to communicate with the body using touch. He asked his male patients to undress down to their shorts, and sometimes entirely, and his female patients down to their underclothes, and began to massage them to loosen their body armour. He would also ask them to simulate physically the effects of certain emotions in the hope of triggering them.[77]

He first presented the principles of what he called character-analytic vegetotherapy in August 1934, in a paper entitled "Psychischer Kontakt und vegetative Strömung" ("Psychological Contact and Vegetative Current") at the 13th International Congress of Psychoanalysis at Lucerne, Switzerland.[78] His second wife, Ilse Ollendorf, said vegetotherapy replaced the psychoanalytic method of never touching a patient with "a physical attack by the therapist".[79]

The method eliminated the psychoanalytic doctrine of neutrality. Reich argued that the psychoanalytic taboos reinforced the neurotic taboos of the patient, and that he wanted his patients to see him as human.[78] He would press his thumb or the palm of his hand hard (and painfully) on their jaws, necks, chests, backs, or thighs, aiming to dissolve their muscular, and thereby characterological, rigidity.[80] He wrote that the purpose of the massage was to retrieve the repressed memory of the childhood situation that had caused the repression. If the session worked, he would see waves of pleasure move through their bodies, which he called the "orgasm reflex". According to Sharaf, the twin goals of Reichian therapy were the attainment of this orgasm reflex during sessions and orgastic potency during intercourse. Reich briefly considered calling it "orgasmotherapy", but thought better of it.[81]

Just before the Lucerne conference, Reich was asked to resign from the International Psychoanalytical Association, where Anna Freud was the "acknowledged leader" at the time, for prioritizing his revolutionary agenda over Freud's ideas. According to Lore Reich Rubin, Reich's daughter, Anna Freud was responsible for destroying her father's career, "she got rid of him". [82] [83] He arrived at the conference furious about his treatment. Turner writes that he cemented his reputation as a madman, camping in a tent outside the conference hall and reportedly carrying a large knife in his belt.[84] According to the psychiatrist Grete L. Bibring, Paul Federn declared, "Either Reich goes or I go."[85]

1934–1939: Norway


Willy Brandt

In October 1934 Reich and Lindenberg moved to Oslo, Norway, where Harald K. Schjelderup, professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, had invited Reich to lecture on character analysis and vegetotherapy. They ended up staying for five years.[86] During his time in Norway, Reich attempted to ground his orgasm theory in biology, exploring whether Freud's metaphor of the libido was in fact electricity or a chemical substance, an argument Freud had proposed in the 1890s but had abandoned.[87] Reich argued that conceiving of the orgasm as nothing but mechanical tension and relaxation could not explain why some experience pleasure and others do not. He wanted to know what additional element had to be present for pleasure to be felt.[88]

Reich was influenced by the work of the Austrian internist Friedrich Kraus, who argued in his paper Allgemeine und Spezielle Pathologie der Person (1926) that the biosystem was a relay-like switch mechanism of electrical charge and discharge. Reich wrote in an essay, "Der Orgasmus als Elektro-physiologische Entladung" ("The Orgasm as an Electrophysiological Discharge", 1934), that the orgasm is just such a bioelectrical discharge and proposed his "orgasm formula": mechanical tension (filling of the organs with fluid; tumescence) → bioelectrical charge → bioelectrical discharge → mechanical relaxation (detumescence).[89]

In 1935 Reich bought an oscillograph and attached it to friends and students, who volunteered to touch and kiss each other while Reich read the tracings. One of the volunteers was a young Willy Brandt, the future chancellor of Germany. At the time, he was married to Reich's secretary, Gertrude Gaasland, and was living in Norway to organize protests against the Nazis. Reich also took measurements from the patients of a psychiatric hospital near Oslo, including catatonic patients, with the permission of the hospital's director.[90] Reich described the oscillograph experiments in 1937 in Experimentelle Ergebnisse über die elektrische Funktion von Sexualität und Angst (The Bioelectrical Investigation of Sexuality and Anxiety).[91]
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Part 2 of 3

Bion experiments

Further information: Spontaneous generation and Abiogenesis

Cancer specialist Leiv Kreyberg (third from right; picture circa 1937) dismissed Reich's work.[92]

From 1934 to 1939 Reich conducted what he called the bion experiments, which he published as Die Bione: zur Entstehung des vegetativen Lebens in Oslo in February 1938 (published in English in 1979 and later called The Bion Experiments on the Origin of Life).[93] He examined protozoa and grew cultured vesicles using grass, sand, iron and animal tissue, boiling them and adding potassium and gelatin. Having heated the materials to incandescence with a heat-torch, he wrote that he had seen bright, glowing, blue vesicles. His photographs and films of his experiments were taken by Kari Berggrav. He called them "bions" and believed they were a rudimentary form of life, halfway between life and non-life. He wrote that when he poured the cooled mixture onto growth media, bacteria were born, dismissing the idea that the bacteria were already present in the air or on other materials.[94]

In what Sharaf writes was the origins of the orgone theory, Reich said he could see two kinds of bions, the blue vesicles and smaller red ones shaped like lancets. He called the former PA-bions and the latter T-bacilli, the T standing for Tod, German for death.[95] He wrote in his book The Cancer Biopathy (1948) that he had found T-bacilli in rotting cancerous tissue obtained from a local hospital, and when injected into mice they caused inflammation and cancer. He concluded that, when orgone energy diminishes in cells through aging or injury, the cells undergo "bionous degeneration". At some point the deadly T-bacilli start to form in the cells. Death from cancer, he believed, was caused by an overwhelming growth of the T-bacilli.[96]

Opposition to his ideas

Bronisław Malinowski wrote to newspapers in Norway in support of Reich.[97]

Scientists in Oslo reacted strongly to Reich's work on bions, deriding it as nonsense. Tidens Tegn, a leading liberal newspaper, launched a campaign against him in 1937, supported by scientists and other newspapers.[98] Between March and December 1938, more than 165 articles or letters appeared in 13 Norwegian newspapers denouncing him.[99][100]

In 1937 the Norwegian pathologist Leiv Kreyberg was allowed to examine one of Reich's bion preparations under a microscope. Kreyberg wrote that the broth Reich had used as his culture medium was indeed sterile, but that the bacteria were ordinary staphylococci. He concluded that Reich's control measures to prevent infection from airborne bacteria were not as foolproof as Reich believed. Kreyberg accused Reich of being ignorant of basic bacteriological and anatomical facts, while Reich accused Kreyberg of having failed to recognize living cancer cells under magnification.[101]

Reich sent a sample of the bacteria to a Norwegian biologist, Theodor Thjøtta of the Oslo Bacteriological Institute, who also blamed airborne infection. Kreyberg and Thjøtta's views were published in the country's largest newspaper, Aftenposten, on 19 and 21 April 1938. Kreyberg alleged that "Mr. Reich" knew less about bacteria and anatomy than a first-year medical student. When Reich requested a detailed control study, Kreyberg responded that his work did not merit it.[101]

By February 1938 Reich's visa had expired. Several Norwegian scientists argued against an extension, Kreyberg saying, "If it is a question of handing Dr. Reich over to the Gestapo, then I will fight that, but if one could get rid of him in a decent manner, that would be the best."[102] The writer Sigurd Hoel asked: "When did it become a reason for deportation that one looked in a microscope when one was not a trained biologist?" Reich received support from overseas, first from the anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski, who in March wrote to the press in Norway that Reich's sociological works were "a distinct and valuable contribution toward science", and from A. S. Neill, founder of Summerhill, a progressive school in England, who argued that "the campaign against Reich seems largely ignorant and uncivilized, more like fascism than democracy".[97]

Norway was proud of its intellectual tolerance, so the "Reich affair", especially following the country's 1936 expulsion of Leon Trotsky, put Nygaardsvold's government on the spot. A compromise was found. Reich was given his visa, but a royal decree was issued stipulating that anyone wanting to practice psychoanalysis needed a licence, and it was understood that Reich would not be given one. Throughout the affair Reich issued just one public statement, when he asked for a commission to replicate his bion experiments. Sharaf writes that the opposition to his work affected his personality and relationships. He was left humiliated, no longer comfortable in public, and seething with bitterness against the researchers who had denounced him.[103]

Personal life

Reich's home in Frogner, Oslo. A blue plaque, in Norwegian, reads: "The physician and psychoanalyst WILHELM REICH (1897–1957) lived and worked here 1935–39. Developed character analysis and the body-oriented therapy."

According to Sharaf, 1934–1937 was the happiest period of Reich's personal life, despite the professional problems. His relationship with Elsa Lindenberg was good and he considered marrying her. When she became pregnant in 1935, they were initially overjoyed, buying clothes and furniture for the child, but doubts developed for Reich, who saw the future as too unsettled. To Lindenberg's great distress, Sharaf writes, Reich insisted on an abortion, at that time illegal. They went to Berlin, where the psychoanalyst Edith Jacobson helped to arrange it.[104]

In 1937 Reich began an affair with a female patient, an actress who had been married to a colleague of his. According to Sigurd Hoel, the analysis would stop because of the relationship, then the relationship would end and the analysis would start up again. The patient eventually threatened to go to the press, but was persuaded that it would harm her as much as it would Reich. Around the same time, Reich also had an affair with Gerd Bergersen, a 25-year-old Norwegian textile designer.[105]

Despite the affairs, Sharaf writes that, as the newspaper campaign against Reich gained pace, he developed an intense jealousy toward Lindenberg, demanding that she not have a separate life of any kind. He even physically assaulted a composer with whom she was working. Lindenberg considered calling the police but decided Reich could not afford another scandal. His behaviour took its toll on their relationship, and when Reich asked her to accompany him to the United States, she said no.[105]

1939–1957: United States

Teaching, second marriage

When Hitler annexed Austria in March 1938, Reich's ex-wife and daughters had already left for the United States. Later that year, Theodore P. Wolfe, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, traveled to Norway to study under Reich. Wolfe offered to help Reich settle in the States, and managed to arrange an invitation from The New School in New York for Reich to teach a course on "Biological Aspects of Character Formation". Wolfe and Walter Briehl, a former student of Reich's, put up $5,000 to guarantee his visa.[106] Wolfe also pulled strings with Adolph Berle, an official in the State Department.[107] Reich wrote in his diary in May 1939:

I am sitting in a completely empty apartment waiting for my American visa. I have misgivings as to how it will go. ... I am utterly and horribly alone!

It will be quite an undertaking to carry on all the work in America. Essentially, I am a great man, a rarity, as it were. I can't quite believe it myself, however, and that is why I struggle against playing the role of a great man.[108]

He received the visa in August 1939 and sailed out of Norway on 19 August on the SS Stavangerfjord, the last ship to leave for the United States before the war began on 3 September.[107] He began teaching at The New School, where he remained until May 1941, living first at 7502 Kessel Street, Forest Hills, Queens, where he conducted experiments on mice with cancer, injecting them with bions. He built a small Faraday cage to examine the vapors and lights he said the bions were producing.[109] In October 1939 his secretary Gertrud Gaasland introduced him to Ilse Ollendorf, 29 years old at the time. Reich was still in love with Lindenberg, but Ollendorf started organizing his life for him, becoming his bookkeeper and laboratory assistant.[110] They began living together in the Kessel Street house on Christmas Day 1939. She was eight weeks pregnant, but according to Turner he insisted that she have an abortion.[109] Five years later, in 1944, they had a son, Peter, and were married in 1946.[110]

Sharaf writes that Reich's personality changed after his experience in Oslo.[100] He became socially isolated and kept his distance even from old friends and his ex-wife. His students in the United States came to know him as a man that no colleague, no matter how close, called by his first name. In January 1940 he wrote to Lindenberg to end their relationship once and for all, telling her that he was in despair and that he believed he would end up dying like a dog.[111]


Further information: Orgone

Orgone accumulator

It was shortly after he arrived in New York in 1939 that Reich first said he had discovered a biological or cosmic energy, an extension of Freud's idea of the libido. He called it "orgone energy" or "orgone radiation", and the study of it "orgonomy". Reich said he had seen orgone when he injected his mice with bions and in the sky at night through an "organoscope", a special telescope. He argued that it is in the soil and air (indeed, is omnipresent), is blue or blue-grey, and that humanity had divided its knowledge of it in two: aether for the physical aspect and God for the spiritual. The colour of the sky, the northern lights, St Elmo's Fire, and the blue of sexually excited frogs are manifestations of orgone, he wrote. He also argued that protozoa, red corpuscles, cancer cells and the chlorophyll of plants are charged with it.[109][112]

In 1940 he began to build insulated Faraday cages, "orgone accumulators", that he said would concentrate the orgone. The earliest boxes were for laboratory animals. The first human-sized, five-foot-tall box was built in December 1940, and set up in the basement of his house. Turner writes that it was made of plywood lined with rock wool and sheet iron, and had a chair inside and a small window. The boxes had multiple layers of these materials, which caused the orgone concentration inside the box to be three to five times stronger than in the air, Reich said. Patients were expected to sit inside them naked.[113]

The accumulators were tested on plant growth and mice with cancer.[114] Reich wrote to his supporters in July 1941 that orgone is "definitely able to destroy cancerous growth. This is proved by the fact that tumors in all parts of the body are disappearing or diminishing. No other remedy in the world can claim such a thing."[115] Although not licensed to practise medicine in the United States, he began testing the boxes on human beings diagnosed with cancer and schizophrenia. In one case the test had to be stopped prematurely because the subject heard a rumour that Reich was insane; there were stories, which were false, that he had been hospitalized in the Utica State Mental Hospital. In another case the father of an eight-year-old girl with cancer approached him for help, then complained to the American Medical Association that he was practising without a licence.[116] He asked his supporters to stick with him through the criticism, believing that he had developed a grand unified theory of physical and mental health.[117][118]

Experiment with Einstein

Reich discussed orgone accumulators with Albert Einstein during 1941.

In December 1940 Reich wrote to Albert Einstein saying he had a scientific discovery he wanted to discuss, and, in January 1941, visited Einstein at his home in Princeton, where they talked for nearly five hours. He told Einstein that he had discovered a "specific biologically effective energy which behaves in many respects differently to all that is known about electromagnetic energy". He said it could be used against disease, and as a weapon "in the fight against the Fascist pestilence". (Einstein had signed a letter to President Roosevelt in August 1939 to warn of the danger of Nazi Germany building an atom bomb, and had urged the United States to establish its own research project.) Einstein agreed that if an object's temperature could be raised without an apparent heating source, as Reich was suggesting, it would be "a bomb".[119]

Reich was much encouraged by the meeting and hoped he would be invited to join Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study.[119] During their next meeting, he gave Einstein a small accumulator, and over the next 10 days Einstein performed experiments with it in his basement, which involved taking the temperature above, inside and near the device, and stripping it down to its Faraday cage to compare temperatures. He observed an increase of temperature, which Reich argued was caused by orgone.[n 5] One of Einstein's assistants pointed out that the temperature was lower on the floor than on the ceiling.[n 6] Einstein concluded that the effect was simply due to the temperature gradient inside the room. "Through these experiments I regard the matter as completely solved", he wrote to Reich on 7 February 1941.[120]

Reich responded with a 25-page letter in which he tried to change Einstein's mind.[121] To rule out the influence of convection he told Einstein that he had taken certain measures, including introducing a horizontal plate above the accumulator, wrapping it in a blanket, hanging it from the ceiling, burying it underground and placing it outside. He wrote that in all these circumstances the temperature difference remained, and was in fact more marked in the open air.[122][n 7] Einstein did not respond to this or to Reich's future correspondence—Reich would write regularly reporting the results of his experiments—until Reich threatened three years later to publish their previous exchange. Einstein replied that he could not devote any further time to the matter and asked that his name not be misused for advertising purposes. Reich believed that Einstein's change of heart was part of a conspiracy of some kind, perhaps related to the communists or prompted by the rumours that Reich was ill. Reich published the correspondence in 1953 as The Einstein Affair.[124]

Arrested by the FBI

Reich lost his position at the New School in May 1941 after writing to its director, Alvin Johnson, to say he had saved several lives in secret experiments with the accumulator. Johnson was aware of Reich's claims that he could cure cancer, and told him the New School was not an appropriate institution for the work. Reich was also evicted from Kessel Street after his neighbours complained about the animal experiments. His supporters, including Walter Briehl, gave him $14,000 to buy a house, and he settled into 9906 69th Avenue.[125]

Dr. Walter Briehl, a Los Angeles psychiatrist who helped to develop group psychotherapy, died of congestive heart failure Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 85 years old.

Dr. Briehl, who lived in Los Angeles, was a founding member of the Los Angeles Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and of the Southern California Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He also was past president of the Southern California Psychoanalytic Society.

In earlier years, he had been associated with the staff of Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons and of Mount Sinai Hospital.

In World War II, Dr. Briehl was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Medical Corps. After the war, he went into private practice and started a number of groups on the West Coast that were the forerunners of today's group psychotherapy.

Key Figure in Passport Case

In 1956 the State Department refused to issue passports to Dr. Briehl, Rockwell Kent, the artist, and Weldon Bruce Dayton, a physicist. Dr. Briehl and Mr. Kent had refused to sign affidavits as to past or present membership in the Communist Party, contending that the State Department regulations deprived them of due process of law.

Mr. Dayton denied under oath that he had associated with Communist espionage agents, but Secretary of State John Foster Dulles refused him a passport on the basis of confidential information.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which overturned the State Department regulations in 1958. The Court ruled, by a vote of 5 to 4, that passports could not be witheld because of ''beliefs and associations,'' but did not address the ultimate constitutional question of whether Congress had the power to do so.

Dr. Briehl, who was born in Paterson, N.J., was a graduate of the University of Vienna and trained at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute from 1924 to 1930.

He is survived by his wife, the former Marie Hurwitz; a son, Dr. Robin of Mamaroneck, N.Y.; a sister, Lillian Eimer of Media, Pa., and a granddaughter.

-- Dr. Walter Briehl, A Pioneer of Group Therapy Methods, by Joan Cook, Dec. 24, 1982, New York Times

On 12 December 1941, five days after the attack on Pearl Harbor and a day after Germany declared it was at war with the United States, Reich was arrested in his home at 2 a.m. by the FBI and taken to Ellis Island, where he was held for over three weeks.[126] He identified himself at the time as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute.[127] He was at first left to sleep on the floor in a large hall, surrounded by members of the fascist German American Bund, who Reich feared might kill him, but when his psoriasis returned he was transferred to the hospital ward.[128] He was questioned about several books the FBI found when they searched his home, including Hitler's Mein Kampf, Trotsky's My Life, a biography of Lenin and a Russian alphabet book for children. After threatening to go on hunger strike he was released, on 5 January, but his name remained on the "key figures list" of the Enemy Alien Control Unit, which meant he was placed under surveillance.[126]

Turner writes that it seems Reich was the victim of mistaken identity; there was a William Reich who ran a bookstore in New Jersey, which was used to distribute Communist material. The FBI acknowledged the mistake in November 1943 and closed Reich's file.
[129] In 2000 it released 789 pages of the file:

This German immigrant described himself as the Associate Professor of Medical Psychology, Director of the Orgone Institute, President and research physician of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation and discoverer of biological or life energy. A 1940 security investigation was begun to determine the extent of Reich's communist commitments. A board of Alien Enemy Hearing judged that Dr. Reich was not a threat to the security of the U.S. In 1947, a security investigation concluded that neither the Orgone Project nor any of its staff were engaged in subversive activities or were in violation of any statute within the jurisdiction of the FBI.[127]

Purchase of Orgonon

Wilhelm Reich Museum, Orgonon

Further information: Orgonon

In November 1942 Reich purchased an old farm for $4,000 on Dodge Pond, Maine, near Rangeley, with 280 acres (1.1 km2) of land. Calling it Orgonon, he started spending summers there, and had a one-room cabin built in 1943, a laboratory in 1945, a larger cabin in 1946 and an observatory in 1948.[130]

In 1950 he decided to live there year-round, and in May that year moved from New York with Ilse, their son, Peter, and Reich's daughter Eva, with the idea of creating a centre for the study of orgone. Several colleagues moved there with him, including two physicians with an interest in orgone, and Lois Wyvell, who ran the Orgone Press Institute.[131] The artist William Moise joined Reich as an assistant at Orgonon, later marrying Eva Reich.[132] Orgonon still houses the Wilhelm Reich Museum, as well as holiday cottages available to rent, one of which is the cottage in which the Reichs lived.[133]

1947–1957: Legal problems

Brady articles, FDA

Until 1947 Reich enjoyed a largely uncritical press in the United States. One journal, Psychosomatic Medicine, had called orgone a "surrealist creation", but his psychoanalytic work had been discussed in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry, The Nation had given his writing positive reviews, and he was listed in American Men of Science.[134]

August 1947 letter from the FDA about Reich, referencing the Brady article

His reputation took a sudden downturn in April and May 1947, when articles by Mildred Edie Brady were published in Harper's and The New Republic, the latter entitled "The Strange Case of Wilhelm Reich", with the subhead, "The man who blames both neuroses and cancer on unsatisfactory sexual activities has been repudiated by only one scientific journal."[98] Brady's ultimate target was not Reich but psychoanalysis, which according to Turner she saw as akin to astrology.[135]

Of Reich she wrote: "Orgone, named after the sexual orgasm, is, according to Reich, a cosmic energy. It is, in fact, the cosmic energy. Reich has not only discovered it; he has seen it, demonstrated it and named a town—Orgonon, Maine—after it. Here he builds accumulators of it, which are rented out to patients, who presumably derive 'orgastic potency' from it."[98][n 8] She claimed, falsely, that he had said the accumulators could cure not only impotence but cancer.[7] Brady argued that the "growing Reich cult" had to be dealt with.[137] On his copy of the New Republic article, Reich wrote "THE SMEAR". He issued a press release, but no one published it.[138]

In July 1947 Dr. J. J. Durrett, director of the Medical Advisory Division of the Federal Trade Commission, wrote to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking them to investigate Reich's claims about the health benefits of orgone. The FDA assigned an investigator to the case, who learned that Reich had built 250 accumulators. The FDA concluded that they were dealing with a "fraud of the first magnitude". According to Sharaf, the FDA suspected a sexual racket of some kind; questions were asked about the women associated with orgonomy and "what was done with them".[139] From that point on, Reich's work came increasingly to the attention of the authorities.[140]

Orgonomic Infant Research Center

Reich established the Orgonomic Infant Research Center (OIRC) in 1950, with the aim of preventing muscular armouring in children from birth. Meetings were held in the basement of his house in Forest Hills. Turner wrote that several children who were treated by OIRC therapists later said they had been sexually abused by the therapists, although not by Reich. One woman said she was assaulted by one of Reich's associates when she was five years old. Children were asked to stand naked in front of Reich and a group of 30 therapists in his basement, while Reich described the children's "blockages".[141] Reich's daughter, Lore Reich Rubin, told Turner that she believed her father was an abuser, although she did not say she had been abused by him, and she acknowledged that she had no evidence. She believed that Reich himself had been abused as a child, which is why he developed such an interest in sex and childhood sexuality.[23]

The sexual allegations apart, several people discussed how the vegetotherapy had hurt them physically as children, as therapists pressed hard on the body to loosen muscular armour. Reich's son, Peter, wrote in his autobiography, Book of Dreams (1973) about the pain this had caused him.[142] Susanna Steig, the daughter of William Steig, the New Yorker cartoonist, wrote about being pressed so hard during Reichian therapy that she had difficulty breathing, and said that a woman therapist had sexually assaulted her. According to Turner, a nurse complained in 1952 to the New York Medical Society that an OIRC therapist had taught her five-year-old son how to masturbate. The therapist was arrested, but the case was dropped when Reich agreed to close the OIRC.[143]

Divorce, cloudbusters

Further information: Cloudbuster

Reich with one of his cloudbusters

Reich and Ilse Ollendorff divorced in September 1951, ostensibly because he thought she had had an affair. She continued working with him for another three years. Even after the divorce, he suspected her of having affairs, and persuaded her to sign confessions about her feelings of fear and hatred toward him, which he locked away in the archives of his Orgone Institute. He wrote several documents denouncing her, while having an affair himself with Lois Wyvell, who ran the Orgone Institute Press.[144]

In 1951, Reich said he had discovered another energy that he called deadly orgone radiation (DOR), accumulations of which played a role in desertification. He designed a "cloudbuster", rows of 15-foot aluminium pipes mounted on a mobile platform, connected to cables that were inserted into water. He believed that it could unblock orgone energy in the atmosphere and cause rain.
Turner described it as an "orgone box turned inside out".[145]

He conducted dozens of experiments with the cloudbuster, calling his research "Cosmic Orgone Engineering". During a drought in 1953, two farmers in Maine offered to pay him if he could make it rain to save their blueberry crop. Reich used the cloudbuster on the morning of 6 July, and according to Bangor's Daily News—based on an account from an anonymous eyewitness who was probably Peter Reich—rain began to fall that evening. The crop survived, the farmers declared themselves satisfied, and Reich received his fee.[146][n 9]


Over the years the FDA interviewed physicians, Reich's students and his patients, asking about the orgone accumulators.[140] A professor at the University of Oregon who bought an accumulator told an FDA inspector that he knew the device was phoney, but found it helpful because his wife sat quietly in it for four hours every day.[148]

The attention of the FDA triggered belligerent responses from Reich, who called them "HiGS" (hoodlums in government) and the tools of red fascists. He developed a delusion that he had powerful friends in government, including President Eisenhower, who he believed would protect him, and that the U.S. Air Force was flying over Orgonon to make sure that he was all right.[140] On 29 July 1952 three inspectors arrived at Orgonon unannounced. Sharaf writes that Reich detested unannounced visitors; he had once chased some people away with a gun just for looking at an adjacent property. He told the inspectors they had to read his work before he would interact with them, and ordered them to leave.[140]

In February 1954 the United States Attorney for the District of Maine filed a 27-page complaint seeking a permanent injunction under Sections 301 and 302 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to prevent interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and to ban promotional literature.[149] Reich refused to appear in court, arguing that no court was in a position to evaluate his work. In a letter to Judge John D. Clifford, Jr. in February, he wrote:

My factual position in the case as well as in the world of science of today does not permit me to enter the case against the Food and Drug Administration, since such action would, in my mind, imply admission of the authority of this special branch of the government to pass judgment on primordial, pre-atomic cosmic orgone energy. I, therefore, rest the case in full confidence in your hands.[150]

The injunction was granted by default on 19 March 1954. The judge ordered that all accumulators, parts and instructions be destroyed, and that several of Reich's books that mentioned orgone be withheld.[151]

Chasing UFOs

Reich argued that orgone was responsible for the colour of the northern lights.

According to Turner, the injunction triggered a further deterioration in Reich's mental health. From at least early 1954, he came to believe that the planet was under attack by UFOs, or "energy alphas", as he called them. He said he often saw them flying over Orgonon—shaped like thin cigars with windows—leaving streams of black Deadly Orgone Radiation in their wake, which he believed the aliens were scattering to destroy the Earth.[152]

He and his son would spend their nights searching for UFOs through telescopes and binoculars, and when they believed they had found one would roll out the cloudbuster to suck the energy out of it. Reich claimed he had shot several of them down. Armed with two cloudbusters, they fought what Reich called a "full-scale interplanetary battle" in Arizona, where he had rented a house as a base station.[153] In Contact with Space (1956), he wrote of the "very remote possibility" that his own father had been from outer space.[154]

In late 1954 Reich began an affair with Grethe Hoff, a former patient. Hoff was married to another former student and patient of his, the psychologist Myron Sharaf, who decades later, with his Fury on Earth (1983), became Reich's main biographer. Hoff and Sharaf had had their first child the year before Hoff left him for Reich; the marriage was never repaired although the affair had ended by June 1955.[155] Two months later Reich began another relationship, this time with Aurora Karrer, a medical researcher, and, in November, he moved out of Orgonon to an apartment in Alban Towers, Washington, D.C., to live with her, using the pseudonym Dr. Walter Roner.[156]

Contempt of court

While Reich was in Arizona in May 1956, one of his associates sent an accumulator part through the mail to another state, in violation of the injunction, after an FDA inspector posing as a customer requested it.[157] Reich and another associate, Dr. Michael Silvert, were charged with contempt of court; Silvert had been looking after the inventory in Reich's absence. Reich at first refused to attend court, and was arrested and held for two days until a supporter posted bail of $30,000.[158]

Representing himself during the hearing, he admitted the violation but pleaded not guilty and hinted at conspiracies. During a recess the judge apparently suggested a psychiatric evaluation to Reich's ex-wife, Ilse Ollendorff, but this was not communicated to Reich. The jury found him guilty on 7 May 1956, and he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment. Silvert was sentenced to a year and a day, the Wilhelm Reich Foundation was fined $10,000, and the accumulators and associated literature were to be destroyed.[158]

Book burning

A.S. Neill

On 5 June 1956 two FDA officials arrived at Orgonon to supervise the destruction of the accumulators. Most of them had been sold by that time and another 50 were with Silvert in New York. Only three were at Orgonon. The FDA agents were not allowed to destroy them, only to supervise the destruction, so Reich's friends and his son, Peter, chopped them up with axes as the agents watched.[159] Once they were destroyed, Reich placed an American flag on top of them.[160]

On 26 June the agents returned to supervise the destruction of the promotional material, including 251 copies of Reich's books.[160] The American Civil Liberties Union issued a press release criticizing the book burning, although coverage of the release was poor, and Reich ended up asking them not to help because he was annoyed that they had failed to criticize the destruction of the accumulators. In England A.S. Neill and the poet Herbert Read signed a letter of protest, but it was never published. On 23 July the remaining accumulators in New York were destroyed by S. A. Collins and Sons, who had built them.[161]

On 23 August six tons of Reich's books, journals and papers were burned in New York, in the Gansevoort incinerator, the public incinerator on 25th Street. The material included copies of several of his books, including The Sexual Revolution, Character Analysis and The Mass Psychology of Fascism. Although these had been published in German before Reich ever discussed orgone, he had added mention of it to the English editions, so they were caught by the injunction.[162] It has been cited as one of the worst examples of censorship in U.S. history.[n 2] As with the accumulators, the FDA was supposed only to observe the destruction. The psychiatrist Victor Sobey (d. 1995), an associate of Reich's, wrote:

All the expenses and labor had to be provided by the [Orgone Institute] Press. A huge truck with three to help was hired. I felt like people who, when they are to be executed, are made to dig their own graves first and are then shot and thrown in. We carried box after box of the literature.[163]


Reich's record card from the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.

Reich appealed the lower court's decision in October 1956, but the Court of Appeals upheld it on 11 December.[164] He wrote several times to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI, requesting a meeting,[165] and appealed to the Supreme Court, which decided on 25 February 1957 not to review the case.[166] On 12 March 1957 Reich and Silvert were sent to Danbury Federal Prison. (Silvert committed suicide in May 1958, five months after his release.)[167] Richard C. Hubbard, a psychiatrist who admired Reich, examined him on admission, recording paranoia manifested by delusions of grandiosity, persecution, and ideas of reference:

The patient feels that he has made outstanding discoveries. Gradually over a period of many years he has explained the failure of his ideas in becoming universally accepted by the elaboration of psychotic thinking. "The Rockerfellows [sic] are against me." (Delusion of grandiosity.) "The airplanes flying over prison are sent by the Air Force to encourage me." (Ideas of reference and grandiosity.)[168]

On 19 March Reich was transferred to the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary and examined again. This time it was decided that he was mentally competent and that his personality seemed intact, though he might become psychotic when stressed.[168] A few days later, on his 60th birthday, he wrote to his son, Peter, then 13:

I am in Lewisburg. I am calm, certain in my thoughts, and doing mathematics most of the time. I am kind of "above things", fully aware of what is up. Do not worry too much about me, though anything might happen. I know, Pete, that you are strong and decent. At first I thought that you should not visit me here. I do not know. With the world in turmoil I now feel that a boy your age should experience what is coming his way—fully digest it without getting a "belly ache", so to speak, nor getting off the right track of truth, fact, honesty, fair play, and being above board—never a sneak ... .[169]

He applied for a presidential pardon in May, to no avail. Peter visited him in jail several times, where one prisoner said Reich was known as the "flying saucer guy" and the "Sex Box man".[170] Reich told Peter that he cried a lot, and wanted Peter to let himself cry too, believing that tears are the "great softener". His last letter to his son was on 22 October 1957, when he said he was looking forward to being released on 10 November, having served one third of his sentence. A parole hearing had been scheduled for a few days before that date. He wrote that he and Peter had a date for a meal at the Howard Johnson restaurant near Peter's school.[18]


Reich failed to appear for roll call on 3 November 1957 and was found at 7 a.m. in his bed, fully clothed but for his shoes. The prison doctor said he had died during the night of "myocardial insufficiency with sudden heart failure".[18] He was buried in a vault at Orgonon that he had asked his caretaker to dig in 1955. He had left instructions that there was to be no religious ceremony, but that a record should be played of Schubert's "Ave Maria" sung by Marian Anderson, and that his granite headstone should read simply: "Wilhelm Reich, Born March 24, 1897, Died ... "[171] None of the academic journals carried an obituary. Time magazine wrote on 18 November 1957:

Died. Wilhelm Reich, 60, once-famed psychoanalyst, associate and follower of Sigmund Freud, founder of the Wilhelm Reich Foundation, lately better known for unorthodox sex and energy theories; of a heart attack; in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, Pa; where he was serving a two-year term for distributing his invention, the "orgone energy accumulator" (in violation of the Food and Drug Act), a telephone-booth-size device that supposedly gathered energy from the atmosphere, and could cure, while the patient sat inside, common colds, cancer, and impotence.[172]

Reception and legacy


The psychoanalyst Richard Sterba wrote in 1982 that Reich had been a brilliant clinician and teacher in the 1920s; even the older analysts had wanted to attend his technical seminars in Vienna.[173] But according to Sharaf, they came to consider Reich as paranoid and belligerent.[174] Psychologist Luis Cordon wrote that Reich's slide from respectability concluded with the consensus inside and outside the psychoanalytic community that he was at best a crackpot and perhaps seriously ill.[175]

There were inaccurate rumours from the late 1920s that he had been hospitalized.[176] Paul Federn became Reich's second analyst in 1922; he later said he had detected "incipient schizophrenia" and called Reich a psychopath. Similarly, Sandor Rado had Reich as an analyst and in 1931 and declared him schizophrenic "in the most serious way". Reich's daughter, Lore Reich Rubin, a psychiatrist, believed that he had bipolar and had been sexually abused as a child.[177]

Sharaf argued that psychoanalysts tended to dismiss as ill anyone from within the fold who had transgressed, and this was never done so relentlessly as with Reich. His work was split into the pre-psychotic "good" and the post-psychotic "bad", the date of the illness's onset depending on which parts of his work a speaker disliked. Psychoanalysts preferred to see him as sane in the 1920s because of his work on character, while political radicals regarded him as sane in the 1930s because of his Marxist-oriented research.[174] - Despite Reich's precarious mental health, his work on character and the idea of muscular armouring contributed to the development of what is now known as ego psychology, gave rise to body psychotherapy, and helped shape the Gestalt therapy of Fritz Perls, the bioenergetic analysis of Reich's student Alexander Lowen, and the primal therapy of Arthur Janov.[178]


Norman Mailer owned several orgone accumulators.[179]

Reich's work influenced a generation of intellectuals, including Saul Bellow, William Burroughs and Norman Mailer, and the founder of Summerhill School in England, A. S. Neill.[180] The French philosopher Michel Foucault wrote in The History of Sexuality (1976) that the impact of Reich's critique of sexual repression had been substantial.[181]

The Austrian-American philosopher Paul Edwards said that the FDA's pursuit of Reich had intensified Edwards' attachment to him. He wrote in 1977 that for years he and his friends regarded Reich as "something akin to a messiah".
[182] Paul Mathews and John M. Bell started teaching a course on Reich in 1968 at New York University through its Division of Continuing Study, and it was still being taught at the time Sharaf was writing Reich's biography in 1983, making it the longest-running course ever taught in that division.[183]

Several well-known figures used orgone accumulators, including Orson Bean, Sean Connery, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Goodman, Jack Kerouac, Isaac Rosenfeld, J. D. Salinger, William Steig and Robert Anton Wilson.[180] Mailer—who owned several orgone accumulators, including some in the shape of eggs—wrote about Reich enthusiastically in The Village Voice, as a result of which Orgonon became a place of pilgrimage and the orgasm a symbol of liberation.[179]

Popular culture

"Cloudbusting" (1985) by Kate Bush

Reich continued to influence popular culture after his death. Turner writes that the evil Dr. Durand Durand in the feature film Barbarella (1968) seems to be based on Reich; he places Barbarella (Jane Fonda) in his Excessive Machine so that she would die of pleasure, but rather than killing her the machine burns out.[184] A film about Reich and the implications of his ideas, W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), was directed by Yugoslavian director Dušan Makavejev. An orgone accumulator made an appearance as the Orgasmatron in Woody Allen's comedy feature film Sleeper (1973). The use of orgone accumulators, a cloudbuster and representations of Reich's orgone therapy with patients, together with a snapshot of the FDA's hostile actions against Reich were dramatised in a short film called 'It Can Be Done', which was made by British director Jon East in 1999.[185] The film screened at the 56th Venice Film Festival on 11 September 1999.[186]

Patti Smith's "Birdland" on her album Horses (1975) is based on Reich's life.[187] Hawkwind's song "Orgone Accumulator", on their album Space Ritual (1973) is named for his invention.[188] In Bob Dylan's "Joey" from Desire (1975), the eponymous gangster spends his time in prison reading Nietzsche and Reich. Reich is also a character in the opera Marilyn (1980) by Italian composer Lorenzo Ferrero.[189]

Orgone chair, by Marc Newson (1993)

Kate Bush's single "Cloudbusting" (1985) described Reich's arrest through the eyes of his son, Peter, who wrote his father's story in A Book of Dreams (1973). The video for the song features Donald Sutherland as Reich and Bush as Peter.[190] Robert Anton Wilson's play, Wilhelm Reich in Hell (1987), is about Reich's confrontation with the American government.[191] Four-beat Rhythm: The Writings of Wilhelm Reich (2013) is a compilation album on which Reich's writings are adapted to music.[192] The Australian designer Marc Newson has produced a range of orgone furniture, most famously his Orgone Chair (1993).[193] In James Reich's novel Soft Invasions (2017), a fictionalized Wilhelm Reich is treating a Hollywood mogul using an orgone accumulator.[194]
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