Charles Webster Leadbeater

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Charles Webster Leadbeater (16 February 18541 March 1934) was an influential member of the Theosophical Society, author on occult subjects and co-initiator with J. I. Wedgwood of the Liberal Catholic Church. Originally a priest of the Church of England, his interest in spiritualism caused him to end his affiliation with Anglicanism in favour of the Theosophical Society, where he became an associate of Annie Besant.

See also: The Other Side of Death
We often speak of Theosophy as not in itself a religion, but the truth which lies behind all religions alike. That is so; yet, from another point of view, we may surely say that it is at once a philosophy, a religion and a science.
Let us set ourselves to try, each in our own small circle, to bring nearer that bright time of peace and love which is the dream and the earnest desire of every true-hearted and thinking man. At least we ought surely to be willing... to help the world onward towards that glorious future
To comprehend the plan of the battle of life we must withdraw our selves from it for the time, and in thought look down upon it from above
Put shortly, and in the language of the man of the street, this means that God is good, that man is immortal, and that as we sow so we must reap.
It is perfectly possible to learn to know about all these things instead of accepting beliefs blindly at second-hand, as most people do; and knowledge means power, security and happiness.


The Other Side of Death (1903)[edit]

(See also: The Other Side of Death for larger collection of quotes)
  • Death is a subject which cannot but be of the deepest interest to every one, since the one thing which is absolutely certain in the future biography of all men alike is that one day they must die, still more since there is hardly anyone, except the very young, from whose kin death has not already removed some dearly loved one. Yet though this is thus a question of such universal interest, there is perhaps none about which the misconceptions current in the popular mind are so many and so serious.
  • It is impossible for us to calculate the vast amount of utterly unnecessary sorrow and terror and misery which mankind in the aggregate has suffered simply from its ignorance and superstition with regard to this one most important matter.
  • Things of real worth, such as the mental life of the ant or the crab, fill psychological and scientific literature; but such a thing as death, which involves the whole human race more intimately than anything else possibly can - since all must die - is regarded as hardly worthy of serious discussion!
  • The first and most fatal of all misconceptions about death is the idea that it is the end of all things; that there is nothing in man which survives it. Many people seem to be under the impression that this gross form of materialism has almost died out from among us; that it was a mental disease of the earlier part of the last century, and that the race has now outgrown it. It is much to be wished that this view represented the facts of the case, but I fear a careful student of contemporary thought can hardly endorse it.
  • It is happily true that this noxious weed of materialism no longer - rears its, head in high places with the confidence of yore, for the men whose opinion is worthy of attention have by this time learnt better than that. But there is still an immense mass of blank ignorance in the world, and, worse still, there is much of that most objectionable of all\ forms of ignorance which, having picked up a few scientific catch-words, inflates itself with aggressive self-conceit and believes itself in possession of the wisdom of the ages. Among the unfortunate beings who are suffering under that variety of mental thraldom there is even yet much of the crudest materialism.

Clairvoyance (1903)[edit]

Full text online
  • Chapter One
  • Clairvoyance means literally nothing more than "clear-seeing,"... It has been called "spiritual vision," but no rendering could well be more misleading than that, for in the vast majority of cases there is no faculty connected with it which has the slightest claim to be honoured by so lofty a name.
  • For the purpose of this treatise we may, perhaps, define it as the power to see what is hidden from ordinary physical sight. It will be as well to premise that it is very frequently (though by no means always) accompanied by what is called clairaudience, or the power to hear what would be inaudible to the ordinary physical ear; and we will for the nonce take our title as covering this faculty also, in order to avoid the clumsiness of perpetually using two long words where one will suffice.
  • I am not writing for those who do not believe that there is such a thing as clairvoyance, nor am I seeking to convince those who are in doubt about the matter... I am addressing myself to the better-instructed class who know that clairvoyance exists, and are sufficiently interested in the subject to be glad of information as to its methods and possibilities; and I would assure them that what I write is the result of much careful study and experiment.
  • I am writing in the main for students of Theosophy, I shall feel myself at liberty sometimes to use, for brevity's sake and with out detailed explanation, the ordinary Theosophical terms with which I may safely assume them to be familiar.
  • Should this little book fall into the hands of any to whom the occasional use of such terms constitutes a difficulty, I can only apologize to them and refer them for these preliminary explanations to any elementary Theosophical work, such as Mrs. Besant's Ancient Wisdom or Man and His Bodies. The truth is that the whole Theosophical system hangs together so closely, and its various parts are so interdependent, that to give a full explanation of every term used would necessitate an exhaustive treatise on Theosophy as a preface even to this short account of clairvoyance.
  • Clairvoyance, like so many other things in nature, is mainly a question of vibrations, and is in fact nothing but an extension of powers which we are all using every day of our lives. We are living all the while surrounded by a vast sea of mingled air and ether, the latter inter-penetrating the former, as it does all physical matter; and it is chiefly by means of vibrations in that vast sea of matter that impressions reach us from the outside. This much we all know, but it may perhaps never have occurred to many of us that the number of these vibrations to which we are capable of responding is in reality quite infinitesimal.

A Textbook of Theosophy (1912)[edit]

(Full text online)
  • Chapter I. What Theosophy Is
  • "There is a school of philosophy still in existence of which modern culture has lost sight." In these words Mr. A.P. Sinnett began his book, The Occult World, the first popular exposition of Theosophy, published thirty years ago.[1881]... During the years that have passed since then, many thousands have learned wisdom in that school, yet to the majority its teachings are still unknown, and they can give only the vaguest of replies to the query, "What is Theosophy?" Two books already exist which answer that question: Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism and Dr. Besant's The Ancient Wisdom. I have no thought of entering into competition with those standard works; what I desire is to present a statement, as clear and simple as I can make it, which may be regarded as introductory to them.
  • It is at once a philosophy, a religion and a science. It is a philosophy, because it puts plainly before us an explanation of the scheme of evolution of both the souls and the bodies contained in our solar system.
  • It is a religion in so far as, having shown us the course of ordinary evolution, it also puts before us and advises a method of shortening that course, so that by conscious effort we may progress more directly towards the goal.
  • It is a science, because it treats both these subjects as matters not of theological belief but of direct knowledge obtainable by study and investigation.
  • It asserts that man has no need to trust to blind faith, because he has within him latent powers which, when aroused, enable him to see and examine for himself, and it proceeds to prove its case by showing how those powers may be awakened... for the teachings which it puts before us are founded upon direct observations made in the past, and rendered possible only by such development.
  • As a philosophy, it explains to us that the solar system is a carefully-ordered mechanism, a manifestation of a magnificent life, of which man is but a small part... it takes up that small part which immediately concerns us, and treats it exhaustively under three heads—present, past and future.
  • It deals with the present by describing what man really is, as seen by means of developed faculties. It is customary to speak of man as having a soul. Theosophy, as the result of direct investigation, reverses that dictum, and states that man is a soul, and has a body—in fact several bodies, which are his vehicles and instruments in various worlds.
  • Man has an existence in several of these, but is normally conscious only of the lowest, though sometimes in dreams and trances he has glimpses of some of the others.
  • What is called death is the laying aside of the vehicle belonging to this lowest world, but the soul or real man in a higher world is no more changed or affected by this than the physical man is changed or affected when he removes his overcoat.
  • All this is a matter, not of speculation, but of observation and experiment.
  • Theosophy has much to tell us of the past history of man—of how in the course of evolution he has come to be what he now is. This also is a matter of observation, because of the fact that there exists an indelible record of all that has taken place—a sort of memory of Nature—by examining which the scenes of earlier evolution may be made to pass before the eyes of the investigator as though they were happening at this moment.
  • By thus studying the past we learn that man is divine in origin and that he has a long evolution behind him—a double evolution, that of the life or soul within, and that of the outer form. We learn, too, that the life of man as a soul is of, what to us seems, enormous length, and that what we have been in the habit of calling his life is in reality only one day of his real existence. He has already lived through many such days, and has many more of them yet before him; and if we wish to understand the real life and its object, we must consider it in relation not only to this one day of it, which begins with birth and ends with death, but also to the days which have gone before and those which are yet to come.
  • Put shortly, and in the language of the man of the street, this means that God is good, that man is immortal, and that as we sow so we must reap.
  • There is a definite scheme of things; it is under intelligent direction and works under immutable laws. Man has his place in this scheme and is living under these laws. If he understands them and co-operates with them, he will advance rapidly and will be happy; if he does not understand them—if, wittingly or unwittingly, he breaks them, he will delay his progress and be miserable. These are not theories, but proved facts. Let him who doubts read on, and he will see.
At the moment of consecration the Host glowed with the most dazzling brightness it became in fact a veritable sun to the eye of the clairvoyant... The light... poured forth impartially upon all, the just and the unjust, the believers and the scoffers.

The Hidden Side of things (1913)[edit]

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  • Much of what is written here has appeared in the form of articles in The Theosophist and elsewhere; but all has been revised, and considerable additions have been made. I trust that it may help some brothers to realise the importance of that far larger part of life which is beyond our physical sight to understand that, as the Lord Buddha Himself has taught us: The unseen side of things are more.
    • Forward
  • Students, who should know better, perpetually speak as though the hidden side of things were intentionally concealed, as though knowledge with regard to it ought to be in the hands of all men, but was being deliberately withheld by the caprice or selfishness of a few; whereas the fact is that nothing is or can be hidden from us except by our own limitations, and that for every man as he evolves the world grows wider and wider, because he is able to see more and more of its grandeur and its loveliness.
    • Chapter I
  • When we look upon the world around us, we cannot hide from ourselves the existence of a vast amount of sorrow and suffering... It often seems as though evil triumphs, as though justice fails in the midst of the storm and stress of the roaring confusion of life, and because of this many despair of the ultimate result, and doubt whether there is in truth any plan of definite progress behind all this bewildering chaos. It is all a question of the point of view the man who is himself in the thick of the fight cannot judge of the plan of the general or the progress of the conflict. To understand the battle as a whole, one must withdraw from the tumult and look down upon the field from above. In exactly the same way, to comprehend the plan of the battle of life we must withdraw our selves from it for the time, and in thought look down upon it from above — from the point of view not of the body which perishes but of the soul which lives for ever. We must take into account' not, only the small part of life which our physical eyes can see, but the vast totality of which at present so much is invisible to us.
    • Chapter II
  • Perhaps the greatest of the many fundamental changes which are inevitable for the man who studies the facts of life is that which is produced in his attitude towards death. This matter has been fully treated elsewhere; here I need state only that the knowledge of the truth about death robs it of all its terror and much of its sorrow, and enables us to see it in its true proportion and to understand its place in the scheme of our evolution. It is perfectly possible to learn to know about all these things instead of accepting beliefs blindly at second-hand, as most people do; and knowledge means power, security and happiness.
    • Chapter II
  • There are sacred rivers also — the Ganges, for example. The idea is that some great person of old has magnetised the source of the river with such powder that all the water that henceforth flows out from that source is in a true sense holy water, bearing with it his influence and his blessing. This is not an impossibility, though it would require either a great reserve of power in the beginning or some arrangement for a frequent repetition. The process is simple and comprehensible... what would be beyond the power of the ordinary man might possibly be quite easy to some one at a much higher level.
    • Chapter VII
  • My attention was first called to this by watching the effect produced by the celebration of the Mass in a Roman Catholic church in a little village in Sicily. Those who know that most beautiful of islands will understand that one does not meet with the Roman Catholic Church there in its most intellectual form, and neither the priest nor the people could be described as especially highly developed; yet the quite ordinary celebration of the Mass was a magnificent display of the application of occult, force.... At the moment of consecration the Host glowed with the most dazzling brightness it became in fact a veritable sun to the eye of the clairvoyant, and as the priest lifted it above the heads of the people I noticed that two distinct varieties of spiritual force poured forth from it, which might perhaps be taken as roughly corresponding to the light of the sun and the streamers of his corona. The first rayed out impartially in all directions upon all the people in the church; indeed, it penetrated the walls of the church as though they were not there, and influenced a considerable section of the surrounding country.
    • Chapter VIII
  • I said that there was a second effect, which I compared to the streamers of the sun’s corona. The light which I have just described poured forth impartially upon all, the just and the unjust, the believers and the scoffers. But this second force was called into activity only in response to a strong feeling of devotion on the part of an individual. At the elevation of the Host all members of the congregation duly prostrated themselves— some apparently as a mere matter of habit, but some also with a strong feeling of deep devotional feeling. The effect as seen by clairvoyant sight was most striking and profoundly impressive, for to each of these latter there darted from the uplifted Host a ray of fire, which set the higher part of the astral body of the recipient glowing with the most intense ecstasy.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Clearly one of the great objects, perhaps the principal object, of the daily celebration of the Mass is that everyone within reach of it shall receive at least once each day one of these electric shocks which are so well calculated to promote any growth of which he is capable. Such an outpouring of force brings to each person whatever he has made himself capable of receiving; but even the quite undeveloped and ignorant cannot but be somewhat the better for the passing touch of a noble emotion, while for the few more advanced it means a spiritual uplifting the value of which it would be difficult to exaggerate.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Naturally, having watched all this, I then proceeded to make further investigations as to how far this outflowing of force was affected by the character, the knowledge or the intention of the priest. I may sum up briefly the results of the examination of a large number of cases in the form of two or three axioms, which will no doubt at first sight seem surprising to many of my readers. Ordination ...only those priests who have been lawfully ordained, and have the apostolic succession, can produce this effect at all. Other men, not being part of this definite organisation, cannot perform this feat, no matter how devoted or good or saintly they may be. Secondly, neither the character of the priest, nor his knowledge, nor ignorance as to what he is really doing, affects the result in any way whatever.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Having myself been a priest of the Church of England, and knowing... the disputes as to whether that Church really has the apostolic succession or not, I was naturally interested in discovering whether its priests possessed this power. I was much pleased to find that they did... I soon found by examination that ministers of what are commonly called dissenting sects did not possess this power, no matter how good and - earnest they might be. Their goodness and earnestness produced plenty of other effects which I shall presently describe, but their efforts did not draw upon the particular reservoir to which I have referred... When the priest is earnest and devoted, his whole feeling radiates out upon his people and calls forth similar feelings in such of them as are capable of expressing them. Also his devotion calls down its inevitable response, as shown in the illustration in ThoughtForms and the downpouring of force thus evoked benefits his congregation as well as himself; so that a priest who throws his heart and soul into the work which he does may be said to bring a double blessing upon his people, though the second class of influence can scarcely be considered as being of the same order of magnitude as the first. Ch. 8
    • Chapter VIII
  • The ringing of bells has a distinct part in the scheme of the 'Church, which in these days seems but little understood... those who know the delights of the proper performance of a triple-bob-major or a grandsire-bob-cater will perhaps be prepared to hear how singularly perfect and magnificent are the forms which are made by them. This then was one of the effects which the ordered ringing of the bells was intended to produce. It was to throw out a stream of musical forms repeated over and over again, in precisely the same way, and for precisely the same purpose, as the Christian monk repeats hundreds of Ave Marias or the northern Buddhist spends much of his life in reiterating the mystic syllables Om Mani Padme Hum, or many a Hindu makes a background to his life by reciting the name Sita Ram.
    • Chapter VIII
  • If these bells are, to begin with, strongly charged with a certain type of magnetism, every form made by them will bear with it something of that influence. It is as though the wind which wafts to us snatches of music should at the same time bear with it a subtle perfume- So the bishop who blesses the bells charges them with much the same intent as he would bless holy water—with the intention that, wherever this sound shall go, all evil thought and feeling shall be banished and harmony and devotion shall prevail—a real exercise of magic, and quite effective when the magician does his work properly.
    • Chapter VIII
  • The bell which is often rung in Hindu or Buddhist temples has yet another intention. The original thought here was a beautiful and altruistic one. When someone had just uttered an act of devotion or made an offering, there came down in reply to that a certain outpouring of spiritual force. This charged the bell among other objects, and the idea of, the man who struck it was that by so doing he would spread abroad, as far as the sound of the bell could reach, the vibration of this higher influence while it was still fresh and strong.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Incense. The same idea carried out in a different way shows itself to us in the blessing of the incense before it is burned. For the incense has always a dual significance. It ascends before God as a symbol of the prayers of the people; but also it spreads through the church as a symbol of the sweet savour of the blessing of God, and so once more the priest pours into it a holy influence with the idea that wherever its scent may penetrate, wherever the smallest particle of that which has been blessed may pass, it shall bear with it a feeling of peace and of purity, and shall chase away all inharmonious thoughts and sensations.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Services for the Dead. What I have said in the earlier part of this chapter will explain a feature which is often misunderstood by those who ridicule the Church—the offering of a Mass with a certain intention, or on behalf of a certain dead person. The idea is that that person shall benefit by the downpouring of force which comes on that particular occasion, and undoubtedly he does so benefit, for the strong thought about him cannot but attract his attention, and when he is in that way drawn to the church he takes part in the ceremony and enjoys a large share of its result. Even if he is still in a condition of unconsciousness, as sometimes happens to the newly-dead, the exertion of the priest’s will (or his earnest prayer, which is the same thing) directs the stream of force towards the person for whom it is intended. Such an effort is a perfectly legitimate act of invocatory magic; unfortunately an entirely illegitimate and evil element is often imported into the transaction by the exaction of a fee for the exercise of this occult power—a thing which is always inadmissible.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Perhaps the greatest and most disastrous of all the taboos that we erect for ourselves is the fear of what our neighbours will say. There are many men and women who appear to live only in order that they may be talked about; at least that is what one must infer from the way in which they bring everything to this as to a touchstone. The one and only criterion which they apply with regard to any course of action is the impression which it will make upon their neighbours. They never ask themselves, “ Is it right or wrong for me to do this?” but “What will Mrs. Jones say if I do this?” This is perhaps the most terrible form of slavery under which a human being can suffer, and yet to obtain freedom from it it is only necessary to assert it. What other people say can make to us only such difference as we ourselves choose to allow it to make. We have but to realise within ourselves that it does not in the least matter what anybody says, and at once we are perfectly free. This is a lesson which the occultist must learn
    • Chapter X

Vegetarianism and Occultism (1913)[edit]

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  • For the moment we will put aside the consideration of the effect upon others — which is so infinitely more important — and think only of the results for the man himself. It is necessary to do this because one of the objections frequently brought against vegetarianism is that it is a beautiful theory, but one the working of which is impracticable, since it is supposed that a man cannot live without devouring dead flesh. That objection is irrational, and is founded upon ignorance or perversion of facts. I am myself an example of its falsity; for I have lived without the pollution of flesh food — without meat, fish or fowl — for the last thirty-eight years, and I not only still survive, but have been during all that time in remarkably good health. Nor am I in any way peculiar in this, for I know some thousands of others who have done the same thing. I know some younger ones who have been so happy as to be unpolluted by the eating of flesh during the whole of their lives; and they are distinctly freer from disease than those who partake of such things.
    • p. 4-5
  • The destruction of life is always a crime. There may be certain cases in which it is the lesser of two evils; but here it is needless and without a shadow of justification, for it happens only because of the selfish unscrupulous greed of those who coin money out of the agonies of the animal kingdom in order to pander to the perverted tastes of those who are sufficiently depraved to desire such loathsome aliment. Remember that it is not only those who do the obscene work, but those who by feeding upon this dead flesh encourage them and make their crime remunerative, who are guilty...of this awful thing. Every person who partakes of this unclean food has his share in the indescribable guilt and suffering by which it has been obtained.
    • p. 25
  • Would the delicate ladies who devour sanguinary beef-steaks like to see their sons working as slaughtermen? If not, then they have no right to put this task upon some other woman's son. We have no right to impose upon a fellow-citizen work which we ourselves should decline to do. It may be said that we force no one to undertake this abominable means of livelihood; but that is a mere tergiversation, for in eating this horrible food we are making a demand that some one shall brutalize himself, that some one shall degrade himself below the level of humanity.
    • p. 27
  • Beyond all question the future is with the vegetarian. It seems certain that in the future — and I hope it may be in the near future — we shall be looking back upon this time with disgust and with horror. In spite of all its wonderful discoveries, in spite of its marvellous machinery, in spite of the enormous fortunes that have been made in it, I am certain that our descendants will look back upon this age as one of only partial civilisation, and in fact but little removed from savagery.
    • p. 28
  • Let us at least make the experiment; let us free ourselves from complicity in these awful crimes, let us set ourselves to try, each in our own small circle, to bring nearer that bright time of peace and love which is the dream and the earnest desire of every true-hearted and thinking man. At least we ought surely to be willing to do so small a thing as this to help the world onward towards that glorious future; we ought to make ourselves pure, our thoughts and our actions as well as our food, so that by example as well as by precept we may be doing all that in us lies to spread the gospel of love and of compassion, to put an end to the reign of brutality and terror, and to bring nearer the dawn of the great kingdom of righteousness and love when the will of our Father shall be done upon earth as it is in heaven.
    • p. 40

Invisible Helpers (1915)[edit]

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In the East the existence of the invisible helpers has always been recognized, though the names given and the characteristics attributed to them naturally vary in different countries
  • It is one of the most beautiful characteristics of Theosophy that it gives back to people in a more rational form everything which was really useful and helpful to them in the religions which they have outgrown... in this teaching as to the immortality of the soul and the life after death, Theosophy...does not put forward these great truths merely on the authority of some sacred book of long ago; in speaking of these subjects it is not dealing with pious opinions , or metaphysical speculations, but with solid, definite facts, as real and as close to us as the air we breathe or the houses we live in - facts of which many among us have constant experience - facts among which lies the daily work of some of our students, as will presently be seen.
    • Ch. 1
  • In the East the existence of the invisible helpers has always been recognized, though the names given and the characteristics attributed to them naturally vary in different countries; and even in Europe we have had the old Greek stories of the constant interference of the gods in human affairs, and the Roman legend that Castor and Pollux led the legions of the infant republic in the battle of Lake Regillus. Nor did such a conception die out when the classical period ended, for these stories have their legitimate successors in medieval tales of saints who appeared at critical moments... or of guardian angels who sometimes stepped in and saved a pious traveler from what would otherwise have been certain destruction.
    • Ch. 1
  • Not long ago the little daughter of one of our English bishops was out walking with her mother in the town where they lived, and in running heedlessly across a street the child was knocked down by the horses of a carriage which came quickly upon her round a corner. Seeing her among the horses’ feet, the mother rushed forward, expecting to find her very badly injured, but she sprang up quite merrily, saying, “Oh, mamma, I am not at all hurt, for something all in white kept the horses from treading upon me, and told me not to be afraid.
    • Ch. 2
  • To anyone who has even a faint idea of what the powers at the command of an adept really are, it will be at once obvious that for him to work upon the astral plane would be a far greater waste of energy than for our leading physicians or scientists to spend their time in breaking stones upon the road. The work of the adept lies in higher regions... where he may direct his energies to the influencing of the true individuality of man, and not the mere personality which is all that can be reached in the astral or physical world. The strength which he puts forth in that more exalted realm produces results greater, more far-reaching and more lasting than any which can be attained by the expenditure of even ten times the force down here; and the work up there is such as he alone can fully accomplish, while that on lower planes may be at any rate to some extent achieved by whose feet are yet upon the earlier steps of the great stairway which will one day lead them to the position where he stands.
    • Ch. 4
  • The cases in which assistance is given to mankind by nature-spirits are few. The majority of such creatures shun the haunts of man, and retire before him, disliking his emanations and the perpetual bustle and unrest which he creates all around him.
    • Ch. 4
  • Although instances of apparitions shortly after death are by no means uncommon, it is rare to find one in which the departed person has really done anything useful, or succeeded in impressing what he wished upon the friend or relation whom he visited... but little help is usually given by the dead - indeed, as will presently be explained, it is far more common for them to be themselves in need of assistance than to be able to accord it to others... the main bulk of the work which has to be done along these lines falls to the share of those living persons who are able to function consciously on the astral plane.
    • Ch. 4
  • It is one of the many evils resulting from the absurdly erroneous teaching as to conditions after death which is unfortunately current in our western world, that those who have recently shaken off this mortal coil are usually much puzzled and often very seriously frightened at finding everything so different from what their religion had led them to expect. The mental attitude of a large number of such people was pithily voiced the other day by an English general, who three days after his death met one of the band of helpers whom he had known in physical life. After expressing his great relief that he had at last found someone with whom he was able to communicate, his first remark was: “But if I am dead, where am I? For if this is heaven I don’t think much of it; and if it is hell, it is better than I expected.”
    • Ch. 12
  • Many of the dead very considerably retard the process of dissolution by clinging passionately to the earth which they have left; they simply will not turn their thoughts and desires upward, but spend their time in struggling with all their might to keep in full touch with the physical plane, thus causing great trouble to any one who may be trying to help them. Earthly matters are the only ones in which they have had any living interest, and they cling to them with desperate tenacity even after death. Naturally as time passes on they find it increasingly difficult to keep hold of things down here, but instead of welcoming and encouraging this process of gradual refinement and spiritualization they resist it vigorously by every means in their power... thereby not only causing themselves a vast amount of entirely unnecessary pain and sorrow, but also very seriously delaying their upward progress and prolonging their stay in astral regions to an almost indefinite extent. In convincing them that this ignorant and disastrous opposition to the cosmic will is contrary to the laws of nature, and persuading them to adopt an attitude of mind which is the exact reversal of it, lies a great part of the work of those who are trying to help.
    • Ch. 12
  • How, it may be asked, are we to make ourselves capable of sharing in this great work? Well, there is no mystery as to the qualifications which are needed by one who aspires to be a helper; the difficulty is not in learning what they are, but in developing them in oneself. To some extent they have been already incidentally described, but it is nevertheless as well that they should be set out fully and categorically. Single-mindedness... Perfect self-control... Calmness. This is another most important point - the absence of all worry and depression. Much of the work consists in soothing those who are disturbed, and cheering those who are in sorrow; and how can a helper do that work if his own aura is vibrating with constant fuss and worry, or grey with the deadly gloom that comes from perpetual depression? Nothing is more hopelessly fatal to occult progress or usefulness than our nineteenth century habit of ceaselessly worrying over trifles - of eternally making mountains out of molehills.... Knowledge....while the slightest taint of selfishness remains in a man, he is not yet fit to be entrusted........
    • Ch. 14
  • In hearing of these different possibilities, people sometimes exclaim rashly that there could of course be no thought in a Master’s mind of choosing any but that course which most helps humanity - a remark which greater knowledge would have prevented them from making. We should never forget that there are other evolutions in the solar system besides our own, and no doubt it is necessary for the carrying out of the vast plan of the Logos that there should be adepts working on all the seven lines to which we have referred. Surely the choice of the Master would be to go wherever his work was most needed - to place his services with absolute selflessness at the disposal of the Powers in charge of this part of the great scheme of evolution.
    • Ch. 17
  • Although this path may at first seem hard and toilsome, yet ever as we rise our footing becomes firmer and our outlook wider, and thus we find ourselves better able to help those who are climbing beside us.
    • Ch. 17
  • Let no man.. despair because he thinks the task too great for him; what man has done man can do, and just in proportion as we extend our aid to those whom we can help, so will those who have already attained be able in their turn to help us. So from the lowest to the highest we who are treading the steps of the path are bound together by one long chain of mutual service, and none need feel neglected or alone, for though sometimes the lower flights of the great staircase may be wreathed in mist, we know that it leads up to happier regions and purer air, where the light is always shining.
    • Ch. 17
Let no man... despair because he thinks the task too great for him; what man has done man can do, and just in proportion as we extend our aid to those whom we can help, so will those who have already attained be able in their turn to help us.
So from the lowest to the highest we who are treading the steps of the path are bound together by one long chain of mutual service, and none need feel neglected or alone,
for though sometimes the lower flights of the great staircase may be wreathed in mist, we know that it leads up to happier regions and purer air, where the light is always shining.
The Existence of Perfected Men is one of the most important of the many new facts which Theosophy puts before us.

The Masters and the Path (1925)[edit]

Full text online
Also see The Masters and the Path for a larger collection of quotations from this book.
  • The rapid changes in the world of thought, arising from the nearness of the Coming of the World-Teacher, render useful some information as to a part of the world in which he lives, information which may, perhaps, to some extent prepare the public mind for his teachings.
    Be that as it may, I desire to associate myself with the statements made in this book, for the accuracy of nearly all of which I can personally vouch; and also to say on behalf of my colleague as well of myself, that the book is issued as a record of observations carefully made and carefully recorded, but not claiming any authority, nor making any demand for acceptance. It makes no claim to inspiration, but is only an honest account of things seen by the writer.
  • The Existence of Perfected Men is one of the most important of the many new facts which Theosophy puts before us. It follows logically from the other great Theosophical teachings of karma and evolution by reincarnation. As we look round us we see men obviously at all stages of their evolution—many far below ourselves in development, and others who in one way or another are distinctly in advance of us. Since that is so, there may well be others who are very much further advanced; indeed, if men are steadily growing better and better through a long series of successive lives, tending towards a definite goal, there should certainly be some who have already reached that goal. Some of us in the process of that development have already succeeded in unfolding some of those higher senses which are latent in every man, and will be the heritage of all in the future; and by means of those senses we are enabled to see the ladder of evolution extending far above us as well as far below us, and we can also see that there are men standing upon every rung of that ladder. There is a considerable amount of direct testimony to the existence of these Perfected Men whom we call Masters, but I think that the first step which each one of us should take is to make certain that there must be such men...
    • Ch. 1
  • The historical records of every nation are full of the doings of men of genius in all the different departments of human activity, men who in their special lines of work and ability have stood far above the rest— indeed, so far that at times (and probably more often than we know) their ideals were utterly beyond the comprehension of the people, so that not only the work that they may have done has been lost to mankind, but their very names even have not been preserved. It has been said that the history of every nation could be written in the biography of a few individuals, and that it is always the few, towering above the rest, who initiate the great forward steps in art, music, literature, science, philosophy, philanthropy, statecraft, and religion. They stand high sometimes in love of God and their fellow-men, as great saints and philanthropists; sometimes in understanding of man and Nature, as great philosophers, sages and scientists; sometimes in work for humanity, as great liberators and reformers.
    • Ch. 1
  • Looking at these men, and realizing how high they stand among humanity, how far they have gone in human evolution, is it not logical to say that we cannot see the bounds of human attainment, and that there may well have been, and even now may be, men far further developed even than they, men great in spirituality as well as knowledge or artistic power, men complete as regards human perfections—men precisely such as the Adepts or Supermen whom some of us have had the inestimable privilege to encounter? This galaxy of human genius that enriches and beautifies the pages of history is at the same time the glory and the hope of all mankind, for we know that these Greater Ones are the forerunners of the rest, and that they flash out as beacons, as veritable light-bearers to show us the path which we must tread if we wish to reach the glory which shall presently be revealed.
    • Ch. 1
  • We have long accepted the doctrine of the evolution of the forms in which dwells the Divine Life; here is the complementary and far greater idea of the evolution of that Life itself, showing that the very reason for that wondrous development of higher and higher forms is that the ever-swelling Life needs them in order to express itself. Forms are born and die, forms grow, decay and break; but the Spirit grows on eternally, ensouling those forms, and developing by means of experience gained in and through them, and as each form has served its turn and is outgrown, it is cast aside that another and better form may take its place.
    • Ch. 1
  • There is no one physical characteristic by which an Adept can be infallibly distinguished from other men, but he always appears impressive, noble, dignified, holy and serene, and anyone meeting him could hardly fail to recognize that he was in the presence of a remarkable man. He is the strong but silent man, speaking only when he has a definite object in view, to encourage, to help or to warn, yet he is wonderfully benevolent and full of a keen sense of humour— humour always of a kindly order, used never to wound, but always to lighten the troubles of life. The Master Morya once said that it is impossible to make progress on the occult Path without a sense of humour, and certainly all the Adepts whom I have seen have possessed that qualification.
    • Ch. 2
  • To know that a certain man is an Adept it would be necessary to see his causal body, for in that his development would show by its greatly increased size, and by a special arrangement of its colours into concentric spheres, such as is indicated to some extent in the illustration of the causal body of an Arhat (Plate xxvi) in Man, Visible and Invisible.
    • Ch. 2
  • There are some who cannot make anything much of meditation, and when they try to study they find it very hard. They ought to continue to try both these things, because we must develop all sides of our nature, but most of all they should throw themselves into the work, and do something for their fellow-men.
    • Ch.3
  • The Effect of Meditation. Remember also that every one who meditates upon the Master makes a definite connection with him, which shows itself to clairvoyant vision as a kind of line of light. The Master always subconsciously feels the impinging of such a line, and sends out in response a steady stream of magnetism which continues to play long after the meditation is over. The methodical practice of such meditation and concentration is thus of the utmost help to the aspirant, and regularity is one of the most important factors in producing the result. It should be undertaken daily at the same hour, and we should steadily persevere with it, even though no obvious effect may be produced. When no result appears we must be especially careful to avoid depression, because that makes it more difficult for a Master’s influence to act upon us, and it also shows that we are thinking of ourselves more than of him.
    • Ch.4
  • In beginning this practice of meditation it is desirable to watch closely its physical effects. Methods prescribed by those who understand the matter ought never to cause headache or any other pain, yet such results do sometimes occur in particular cases. It is true that meditation strains the thought and attention a little further than its customary point in any individual, but that should be so carefully done, so free from any kind of excess, as not to cause any physical ill-effects. Sometimes a person takes it up too strenuously and for too long at a time, or when the body is not in a fit state of health, and the consequence is a certain amount of suffering. It is fatally easy to press one’s physical brain just a little too far, and when that happens it is often difficult to recover equilibrium. Sometimes a condition may be produced in a few days which it will take years to set right; so anyone who begins to feel any unpleasant effects should at once stop the practice for a while and attend to his physical health, and if possible consult someone who knows more than he does about the subject.
    • Ch.4
  • There has always been a Brotherhood of Adepts, the Great White Brotherhood; there have always been those who knew, those who possessed this inner wisdom, and our Masters are among the present representatives of that mighty line of Seers and Sages. Part of the knowledge which they have garnered during countless aeons is available to every one on the physical plane under the name of Theosophy. But there is far more behind.
    • Ch. 4
  • The Master Kuthumi himself once said smilingly, when some one spoke of the enormous change that the Theosophical knowledge had made in our lives, and of the wonderful comprehensiveness of the doctrine of reincarnation: “Yes, but we have lifted only a very small corner of the veil as yet.” When we have thoroughly assimilated the knowledge given us, and are all living up to its teaching, the Brotherhood will be ready to lift the veil further; but only when we have complied with those conditions.
    • Ch. 4
  • For those who wish to know more and to draw nearer, the Path is open. But the man who aspires to approach the Masters can reach them only by making himself unselfish as they are unselfish, by learning to forget the personal self, and by devoting himself wholly to the service of humanity as they do.
    • Ch. 4
  • The Wesak Festival. The occasion selected for this wonderful outpouring is the full moon day of the Indian month of Vaisakh (called in Ceylon Wesak, and usually corresponding to the English May), the anniversary of...[Gautama Buddha's] birth, his attainment of Buddhahood, and his departure from the physical body... An exoteric ceremony is performed on the physical plane at which the Lord actually shows himself in the presence of a crowd of ordinary pilgrims. Whether he shows himself to pilgrims I am not certain; they all prostrate themselves at the moment when he appears, but that may be only in imitation of the prostration of the Adepts and their pupils, who do see the Lord Gautama. It seems probable that some at least of the pilgrims have seen him for themselves, for the existence of the ceremony is widely known among the Buddhists of central Asia, and it is spoken of as the appearance of the Shadow or Reflection of the Buddha, the description given of it in such traditional accounts being as a rule fairly accurate. So far as we can see there appears to be no reason why any person whatever who happens to be in the neighbourhood at the time may not be present at the ceremony; no apparent effort is made to restrict the number of spectators; though it is true that one hears stories of parties of pilgrims who have wandered for years without being able to find the spot. (p. 286)
    • Ch. 14

Quotes about C.W. Leadbeater[edit]

  • In The Masters and the Path, C. W. Leadbeater has an interesting discussion of the three 'fetters' which the first degree initiate must 'cast off' before he is prepared for the Baptism initiation. The first of these fetters is the delusion of the separate self. This has to be replaced by the realization of oneness in the true Self.
  • His clairvoyant investigations went on to produce books of wide ranging appeal which brought many thousands of people in contact with the uplifting teachings of Theosophy. They include The Astral Plane, Thought-Forms (with Annie Besant), Man, Visible and Invisible, The Science of the Sacraments, The Masters and the Path, Hidden Life in Freemasonry, The Inner Life, The Chakras and The Hidden Side of Things, among several others.
  • CWL came to Adyar with no expectations whatever of occult advancement. He came in attitude of true dedication, hoping to find some work to do here. I think he had the idea that probably he would have to stick stamps on envelopes or sweep the rooms. In those days Theosophists had very little money and Adyar did not have such a staff of sweepers and servants as at present. He anticipated quite a humble role as a worker here; expecting nothing, he gained all. That is a very wonderful and significant point.
  • Perhaps HPB was not wrong about what she said to the young CWL when she first met him in London, in 1884, after he had written a letter to the spiritualistic journal Light in defense of Theosophy: ‘I don’t think much of the clergy, for I find most of them hypocritical, bigoted and stupid; but that was a brave action, and I thank you for it. You have made a good beginning; perhaps you may do something yet.’
  • Another important development during CWL’s journey to India happened in Colombo, Ceylon, on 17 December 1884, as Col. Olcott describes: While the party were in Colombo, en route for Madras, an interesting episode occurred. The Rev. Mr. Leadbeater, with H.P.B. and myself acting as sponsors, “took Pansil” from the High Priest Sumangala and Rev. Amaramoli, in the presence of a crowded audience. This was the first instance of a Christian clergyman having publicly declared himself a follower of the Lord Buddha, and the sensation caused by it may be easily imagined.

See also[edit]

Theosophical Teachers[edit]


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