by C.W. Leadbeater
And "the Lives of Alcyone"
Some facts described, by
With notes by C. Jinarajadasa
Privately published by C.
IN the course of a lecture tour in the United States during the years
1922-23, Mr. Ernest Wood was in Washington, D.C. from February 2-5. There
existed at that time in the Capital a group of Theosophical students (not
organized into a Lodge) who called themselves "The Lightbearers". They invited
Mr. Wood to a meeting where they asked him various questions. Among them
were some about Mr. Leadbeater (as he then was) and his powers of clairvoyance
and the writing of the "Lives of Alcyone" that had appeared in The Theosophist
from April 1910 to February 1911. Mr. Wood's remarks were taken down by
a stenographer, and the "Lightbearers" published them in a large four-page
leaflet in small type for free distribution to all interested. I was not
aware of the existence of this interesting paper till a few weeks ago it
came into my hands for the first time.
What Mr. Wood said is of very great historical value, and so I republish
it at once. I have taken the opportunity to add many notes, to amplify
what Mr. Wood said, and especially I have drawn upon the diaries of Bishop
Leadbeater, and the voluminous correspondence which passed between him and
Dr. Besant during the long years of their collaboration. These letters are
in my custody, and I have quoted from them about the coming of Krishnamurti,
the investigation into his past lives, and the incident with the Deva of
Adyar which led to the vision of the future embodied in the series of articles,
"The Beginnings of the Sixth Root Race".
February 12, 1947.
Of Interest to T.S. Members
Mr. C. W. Leadbeater is, and has been for many years, one of our
best known and much beloved T. S. leaders, a few members have had published
the following questions and answers concerning him to distribute among T.
S. members, who had not the good fortune to hear Mr. Ernest Wood of Adyar
The questions and answers were given at a T. S. members meeting,
while Mr. Wood was in Washington, D.C., and constitute first-hand knowledge
on the part of Mr. Wood, who has had the splendid opportunity of having been
Mr. Leadbeater's private secretary and closest associate for five years.
The refinement and beauty of Mr. Wood's own nature were forces felt by all
who contacted him and left no doubt as to his sterling honesty and truthfulness.
Question - Can you tell
us something about Mr. C. W. Leadbeater when you knew him? Could you tell
us how "Lives" was written? Can you give us some of your experiences while
with Mr. Leadbeater? In view of the fact that you have been Mr. Leadbeater's
secretary for some time, can you tell us something of his method in writing
the "Lives" and something of Mr. Leadbeater himself?
Answer. -I shall have
to make a personal statement first of all with regard to this. You see I
was in England working there for our T. S. and I went to
Adyar in 1908. Mr. Leadbeater came there about the end of January, 1909,
(1) and a very short time later I
became his private secretary, and worked for him until he went away to Australia
in 1914. (2) During that time he went
away once or twice on tours to Italy (3)
and to the Dutch East Indies (4) for a
short time, but while at Adyar I was with him nearly all the time and saw
his investigations. In fact, nearly all those books written during that
period were dictated to me. I took them down in shorthand and had them typed
out by various people, some of whom had learned to read my shorthand writing;
(5) but some of them also were the
results of questions and answers, so you will see I had very intimate touch
with Mr. Leadbeater, when you take into account that he is a man who works
very hard, and it was his custom to start his work about 6.30 every morning
and continue it till very late at night.
He would be up at half past six ready for work. Then we would take
a little coffee or a couple of bananas just to begin the day, and then begin
his work with correspondence or letters or a book that he was writing, or something of the kind, and generally he would sit there
at his table or desk until about five o'clock in the afternoon (6). We used to clear the papers away in
order to bring him his lunch in the middle of the day and he would stay
there and eat his simple food and then go on it his work. (7)
At five o'clock it was his custom to take his physical exercise,
a bath in the sea generally, and then have a little soup, which was his
evening meal, and then we had our meeting from 7.15 to 8.15 (8) and then a quarter of an hour more for
meditation.(9) I used to be with Mr.
Leadbeater all this time and he would do a great deal of answering of letters
and looking up things for people who wanted to know about the dead or about
obsession, a great variety of things. And then at night he would begin again
after the meditation was over at half-past eight and go on with some work
until 11, 12, 1 or 2, or whatever time it was finished. Every moment was
filled up with work. I have not met a more energetic man.
The way in which he worked differed according to the work he was
doing. There were some things apparently that he could do quite easily.
Some were more difficult. One of great interest was the investigation into
what is called in the U.S. "Lives," or "Rents in the Veil of Time." It
came about as the result of a question which I put to him about past lives
or intervals between lives, especially of Hindoo people - because there
are some things you don't find in other races.
He said he would look into the lives of some people.(10) There were some boys living near who used
to play about (11) and quite a little party
of them who used to come down to the sea after school hours and watch us
bathe. Two of them were sons of an old T.S. member, and Mr. Leadbeater asked
his permission to look into the past lives of these boys, and that is how
it came about that the Lives of Alcyone were published, because one of these
boys was Krishnamurti.(12) One evening when
meditation was over and I went down with Mr. Leadbeater to see if anything
was to be done, he said, "Well, those lives must be done. When shall we
begin?" And I said, of course, "Now." There was no other thing to say,
and he started that night after meditation and dictated one of these "Lives."
He had a clever way of recuperating himself when tired by what he called
five minute sleeps. He would get up quite refreshed. Those "Lives" were
done in his own room, his little octagon room down near
the river at Adyar. He did 28 of them and Mrs. Besant did two.(13) I sat at the desk and he used to walk round
the room, partly to keep himself awake while he was centering on other planes
when the physical body was tired; and he went on speaking about what he
could see, what he was watching and seeing, and simply wrote that down.
He did one of these "Lives" every night.
On one occasion there was an interruption. He suddenly stopped and
said, "I must go away for ten minutes. The boys have come for me. It
is something urgent." He said, "Call me if I am not back in ten minutes."
So he lay down on the couch and went to sleep, and that was an occasion
on which a certain rather striking experience among the invisible helpers
occurred. The boys, who had been floating about [on the astral plane] had
found a man who was about to commit suicide in a cabin of a ship and they
could not prevent him and came for Mr. Leadbeater. This was a little time
after we had got to know Krishnamurti more and he was in the habit of coming
around every morning and writing down what he could remember
of his night's experience. He wrote down quite a long account of this experience
in the Bay of Bengal.(14) Mr. Leadbeater would
finish the writing of a "Life" and then would say, "Have you any questions
to ask, anything that you want to know about it?" I remember that in the
first "Life" Mr. Leadbeater dictated - the one in which the Lord Buddha appears,
(15) the 28th in the series, (16) and I said, "Well, since you have the Lord
Buddha in view, won't you give us one of his sermons?" And he gave the
one about the fire. (17) He worked at the rate
of about one every night and got the work through very quickly. He was
a prodigious worker, and he seemed very rarely to have any time for preparation
of his work. He was always occupied in it from very early until very late
Another piece of work was the beginnings of the
sixth root race. That was more difficult, that piece of looking into the
future. It began one Sunday morning.(18) Mrs.
Besant was away from Adyar at the time and Mr. Leadbeater had been describing
certain forms of worship.(19) After the meeting
I found him lying on his couch, and Mr. Leadbeater said, "That description
of worship which I was giving you this morning was from a picture of the future
shown me by a Deva.(20) I find that I can go
out into the street and see the life of the people, and other things."
I noted it all down, and when he got up and said, "Well, that is
enough of that". Mr. van Manen, who was there, said, "Well, look here,
this seems to be a very important thing that you have struck." And we asked
him whether this was not a matter that he might take up in full. He said
that he would look into it and see, and an hour or two later he said, "Yes;
that is a matter that has to be dealt with and I shall investigate further.
You must put it all to me in the form of questions." It was, I should imagine,
more difficult for him to keep a good supply of consciousness in the physical
brain in this case than with perhaps any other of his work, so it was all
done by question and answer, and that was done in the afternoon, four or
five hours every day for about a week. In the end I had a big collection
of questions and answers, and these were typed out on some slips of paper
and Mr. van Manen and I sorted them under their headings: Education, Economical
Question, etc. And then we gave him the pile of questions in their order,
and he dictated the whole thing through in literary form, and that is what
you have as the second half of the book, "Man, Whence, How and whither."*
* Also published separately as "The Beginnings of
the Sixth Root Race."-C.J.
It was exceedingly interesting to me to note the way in which those
questions, asked quite at random, dovetailed and fitted in together. There
were other trifling, interesting things in connection with that, for instance,
it was probably the only work in which I have known Mr. Leadbeater slip
out of his body apparently unintentionally. But it seems in answering these
questions, just once or twice, in the middle of the answer, suddenly his
voice would drop away. He was fast asleep with his eyes closed. A minute
or two later he would open his eyes and say: "What did I say last?" And
I would tell him, and he would say, "But I said lots more." And I would say,
"No, that was all," and he said, " But I thought I was speaking." And he
would then go over the missing portion again.
There was a lot of other work. Many people used to write about their
friends or relations who had died, whether the Invisible Helpers could take
care of them in some way. Mr. Leadbeater would always go to work patiently
and just investigate the matter and either dictate a reply or tell me to write
such and such a thing. There was a case in which he gave instructions for
the use of that mantra which you will find in my book on Concentration.
There was a bad case of fire elementals that was occurring in the north of
India. Wherever a certain person went, things used to catch fire. Mr. Leadbeater
got me to write down the mantra, sent it up there and explained how it should
be used, and our friend in the north of India used the mantra and the fire
elementals were cleaned out entirely. People would sometimes send lockets
to be magnetized and afterwards would say that they had been relieved of
the voices that were annoying them or the fears that were oppressing them.
I did not at first go to Mr. Leadbeater with a great admiration or
liking for him before I met him myself because I did not feel that I was
on his line, but circumstances drifted me into his service and I learned to admire him immensely for his splendid work and also for
his character. I worked for him from 1909 to 1913, inclusive. (21) He was a man of immense physical strength.
He is almost a giant (22) and has a tremendously
strong arm. And to his character, I would sum it up along two lines - extremely
loving and affectionate and extremely scientific. In all his investigations
he is always very cautious and careful. He is without any speculative tendencies
In his scientific work he would say, "Now, let's have facts. Let
me be careful that I see as clearly as I can and then put it on record."
And when people used to say, "How would you reconcile so and so?" he would
say, "It is not my business to reconcile anything at all; it is my business
simply to see, understand, and describe; that is the post for which I have
been trained." People would say, "You cannot expect people to believe these
things." He said, "I do not expect anybody to believe them. I see these
things and it is my duty to publish them, and I do not expect people to believe
what I say. I am convinced of the accuracy of my own
work, and I am as careful as I can be." He seemed to be of a perfectly scientific
temperament, (23) but his affectionate disposition
was even stronger. His scientific investigations would be interrupted by
people coming for some help, because Mr. Leadbeater was a man who could scarcely
say No to anybody if they wanted some help. People would come in and say:
"But we must have an article for this or that magazine or the circulation
will go down." And he would put aside, perhaps, his important investigation
and allow himself to do what would please or satisfy other people. I think
that this is the explanation of what some people saw in America or New Zealand,
that sometimes he would put people off and keep them off; that was nothing
but the self-defense of a very sensitive nature.
There is a question attached to one of these: "Is it true that his
powers are failing?" That is, of course, a thing of which I cannot have any direct knowledge. I have not seen Mr. Leadbeater
on the physical plane since he went to Australia. (24) I have been occupied with other work ever
since, but I have met several people who have been to Australia. They say
that he is recovering very well from that difficulty that arose in the heart;
(25) that his powers do not seem to be
failing in the least.
Why did he have that illness? It happened that before he came into
the Theosophical Society, he was decorating his church one day and had climbed
up on a ladder to put up some holly or something, and he fell back from
this ladder right down across the back of a pew and that injured something
in his back. The result was that occasionally, but quite rarely, he would
feel this pain in his back, and sometimes he used to lie down on his couch
for a little time on account of this pain. Then in Australia he overstrained
his heart, I think in some mountain climbing or a long walk, and the heart
became enlarged and he was weak for a long time.
I mentioned that he is a man without any diplomatic characteristics,
a very simple man who has not mixed much with the world at all, a very retired
and quiet sort of man, and just the other day I came across a quite striking
sort of example of the absence of diplomacy in his character and that was
regarding Christian Festivals, and when he was writing about Christmas and
the Christ he tells us that Christ was in a previous life Shri Krishna of
India and also that Jesus was Shri Ramanuja of India in the twelfth century.
If he was simply trying to build a Christian Church and he wanted to draw
Christians to his standard, I should say that that was just about the best
way to defeat his own ends. It just illustrates his position which he has
always held that it is his duty just to put down what he sees. He is very
devoted to Mrs. Besant, whom he regards with the profoundest respect.
Question. - Did Mr. Leadbeater
train Krishnamurti and what were the methods?
Answer. -I was there
when Krishnamurti appeared with his father at Adyar and I knew him before
Mr. Leadbeater did. He was a school boy. When we first knew Krishnamurti
he was a very frail little boy, extremely weak, all his bones sticking out,
and his father said more than once that he thought probably he would die,
and he was having a bad time at school because he did not pay any attention
to what his teachers said. He was bullied and beaten to such an extent that
it seemed the boy might fade away from this life and die, and the father came
to Leadbeater and said: "What shall we do?" Mr. Leadbeater
said, "Take him from school and I will inform Mrs. Besant." (26) Mrs. Besant had done much for Hindu boys.
She had the Central Indian College, (27) in
which many of the boys were entirely maintained by her - food, shelter,
education, everything. So it was nothing unusual for her to look after
boys. Mrs. Besant was in America at the time. She replied that she would
be very pleased to see to their welfare, so the two boys were taken from
the school; Krishnamurti's younger brother was all right, but they didn't
want to be separated; and some of us agreed to teach them a little each day
so that they might be prepared to go to England for their further education.
(28) Seven or eight of us taught them
a little each day. The boys used to sit in Mr. Leadbeater's or one of
the adjacent rooms, with their teacher. I do not know that it could be
said that Leadbeater trained him in any sort of particular way.(29) To be anywhere near Mr. Leadbeater was a
training for anybody. He made him drink milk and eat fruits. Krishnamurti
did not like this. He [C.W.L.] attended to his health. He did not much
like this eating fruits and milk, but did it. He also arranged for swimming
and exercises in the way of cycling and other things, and they played tennis
in the evening, so that very soon Krishnamurti was quite a healthy and strong
boy and began to take more interest in the world. I think that he must have
been always more or less psychic and therefore did not pay attention to
his teacher. I noticed very soon that Krishnamurti used to collect people's
thoughts, and I have seen him do some quite remarkable feats of conversation
with dead people while still a little boy, and that developed quite naturally.
I do not know of any special and deliberate training in that way. In Mr.
Leadbeater's room and in his company, of course, he really received the
best of training in courtesy, etc.
That went on till Mrs. Besant came back and Mrs. Besant, took the
boys with her on a tour and then it was that Krishnamurti went up to Benares
and there wrote his little book, "At the Feet of the Master." At Benares
there was Mr. Arundale and a number of the students. They got together and
were so impressed with this boy that they questioned him about meditation,
and he used to advise them and at last he wrote the little book and sent
it to us in Adyar. When I read the manuscript I said to Mr. Leadbeater,
"Look here, it is a curious thing some of the things Krishnamurti has in the
book are almost the same things that you have in `The Inner Life'". I showed
him some of the passages and he said, "Well, here is the explanation: `The
Inner Life' was made by you. It is a collection of notes of what I have
been saying." He said, "I have been with Krishnamurti many times when he
has been talking with his Master on the other planes during sleep, and I
heard the Master teaching him and sometimes I have used
those bits of teachings in my own addresses to you and especially in my Sunday
morning teaching, (30) and you have put them
into my book when they were not mine at all."
If you can use more of these circulars, please notify
1657 31st St. N. W.
Apartment 204 WASHINGTON, D.C.
Footnotes by C. Jinarajadasa
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