by Fritz Kunz
at Indralaya - August 6 1957
I want to say something first of all I wanted to say the other evening - I probably don’t have to point it out - what strikes me as a very wonderful thing, the facility that Helen has with her voice and with the instrument itself. Have you noticed that? She’s not sort of bringing the guitar in at the last minute with a few plunks, it runs right along as she goes - it’s a beautiful performance. Another thing - it’s been on my mind since this morning, and that’s one thing I want to say. It seems that Dulcie, when she saw all those stomata on the bottom of the leaves - you know, their mouths, she said “If I see any more mouths I’ll scream!”
I’m very glad to talk about some personalities in the T.S. from this point of view, and I will start with C.W. Leadbeater himself because I knew him first among the principle people I have known in the Society. I knew him best, and he was infinitely kind to me, and helpful and it was due to my having met him first after having begun to read the early books in 1896, I first read the theosophical books, that gave me the chance to move right into the middle of this thing and I’ve been in it ever since. I don’t have any other kind of life, and I’m not interested in any other kind of life than that which .... with.
Well, as I said earlier, he got connected with the Society, went bang into it, and went out to India, and there got in touch with this person whom we call the Master Koothoomi psychologically and later on in person. And from there on, from the time he made this resolution he never faltered, he never hesitated, he never drew back until the end of his days he was one of the great forces in the Society. Now, people say, traveling with him and so on, must have been a wonderful experience with respect to occultism - and, you know, phenomena. But by 1884 you must remember, the Masters had withdrawn, they had drawn the curtain down on all that, they’d had enough of that through the difficulties that arose through Madame Blavatsky’s use of these powers, and Leadbeater’s principal interest was that nobody saw anything, if possible. Nevertheless now and then one did see things like that, and as I don’t write about these things and don’t have a chance to tell you, let me just exemplify by a single example the kind of powers that he possessed, and that were bottled up in him and he was using all the time in his own way. I’ll just tell you a single story among the few that are significant and you’ll see what he was really like.
About 52 years ago, I was in Honolulu with him and we were staying with a lady by the name of Mrs Hendrickson. She had a house out on the slopes of Diamond Head - you understand 52 years ago Honolulu was a civilized place, there were practically no Americans, and it was mostly Hawaiians and there was a street car line but it didn’t even get out to Diamond Head. Mrs Hendrickson was a woman of wealth, and she kept a carriage and a pair, and it was the duty of the Chinese coachman to take us to the street car and then it was a long drive into Honolulu - it’s quite a long ways - and then we’d get on the street car and go to the meeting and then we’d come out and he would be there to meet us with the carriage. Well, this night - a bright moonlight night it happened to be - and we got off the streetcar and there was no Chinaman. So we waited about a minute or two, and it was a beautiful bright moonlight, you know what the Hawaiian Islands are like - so we decided we’d walk. In front was Basil and Mrs Hendrickson, and in back was C.W. Leadbeater and I myself. And he was as usual carrying his hat. He hated hats, but he usually carried one to show that he had one (laughter) because he felt that The Theosophical Society should be correctly represented, you understand? If he went without a hat in those days that was peculiar. He also carried gloves - he didn’t really much care to wear gloves, but gloves were proper so he carried them. And sometimes he put them on when had to shake hands with people - and this caused great offense I may tell you! (laughter) I admit - it’s really funny, but not if he puts them on when he’s going to shake hands with you, you understand - especially ladies! He was still going through various aspects of his self training and education.
Now the funny thing was that I had the feeling that he was galloping higher than we were, that is to say that he galloped at the top of us - he didn’t gallop at the level at which we were walking. And he disappeared in the distance, his hoofs died away, and Leadbeater let go of my hand and I heard no more, see? Well, I realized that it was something that he had been observing clairvoyantly and looking into, and I didn’t say much because I knew already that he didn’t like to talk about these things to Tom, Dick, and Harry - or Mrs Hendrickson - and so he kept quiet. And then presently from the direction of the house the Chinese coachman with the two horses and the carriage came trotting along from the opposite direction. Well, when we got home I asked him about it. And he said “Well, you know, I was looking into the records of the Islands” - the psychic records, what people call the Akashic record, that’s the only way that Akasha is applied in most modern literature, he said “I was looking into the record of the early days here when the Europeans came here”. And you know you can run over a record like that very rapidly apparently clairvoyantly. And he said: “I was observing when the missionaries first brought horses and what effect they had. It just happened that there was on this trail - “ this was before it was a road, you understand, and it was higher too, they had cut the road down to make a new road - he said “there was an episode when there was some violence and the chief had sent the man by horseback along this trail. I was just watching it when you brushed against me”. His clairvoyance, you see was so tense, was so powerful that it sort of poured over by the fact that I just brushed against him. And of course when he hung on to me it all came in very powerfully. I didn’t see anything, I just heard. Clairaudience is much easier for some people than clairvoyance.
He was once, for example, the guest of some people in a certain city in this country, and if you’ll excuse me I will speak rather frankly of certain things. And there was a boy in the house who had gotten into certain difficulties in the high school along certain lines, and the mother was married to a man who had no interest in these matters. She knew that Leadbeater’s advice was very valuable along many lines, and she knew that if this fact came out about this lad’s behaviour and way of living and so on came to his father’s attention, it would be simply terrific - he was a man of most violent tempers. So she appealed to her guest, C.W. Leadbeater, who undertook to straighten this boy out - and he did. And that was passed over and the father knew nothing of it and the boy was helped very markedly. Well, years later the second son, the younger boy, got into other difficulties, and by this time C.W.L was in India and I was there with him - as a matter of fact we were in Benares - and this boy, instead of standing up to his own troubles, accused Charles Webster Leadbeater of being the real origin of his difficulties. Now you would expect that - there were other things, I won’t go into all of them, I know them all and nearly all the people involved - you would expect that in ordinary life a man like that would immediately begin to clear himself. But the question is AT WHOSE COST? You see, that, at whose costs? That, to him, was the important thing. At whose cost? We wont go into all the details - I just want to say this, that the moment he heard of these problems, they were rather complex - they came in the mail - he swept all the mail together and went straight into Mrs Besant who was his great .....?......all through his life, laid all the documents and stuff in front of her - the whole business - and they spent two or three hours, I shall never forget that day, he was wearing his raincoat. It was winter and I tell you in Benares it can be awfully cold - he was wearing his raincoat and we’d see them occasionally - he would be walking up and down and they were talking. And he had what he thought was an arrangement with her that she would join him in London and they would deal with this matter face to face together - face to face with his accusers. Well, I don’t know whether he had such an understanding or not. I don’t want to say yes, or no, but I’ll only say this, that when we got to Bombay later, she did not come. And I shall never forget watching him stand on the car-rail of the boat when the boat pulled out and she neither came nor was there a message from her what she would do. And he went off to London to face his accusers - very unpleasant people, I’ll just tell you that. I knew them all. The principle man they sent over there was a man of just no account whatever, let me assure you. And there the various things said about C.W.L of which I am sure he was quite innocent. And then a dreadful thing happened. I just want to tell you this for the moral value that’s in it. Col Olcott presided over the investigation, over this hearing - it wasn’t a proper hearing - and there were all of the people who had been jealous of C.W.L. because of his closeness to Mrs Besant and who believed that they were the right heirs to H.P. Blavatsky and all the rest of it you see. And at one stage Olcott, he was old, he was senile, he was to die in a year or two, said to Leadbeater “Look Charles, if you would just resign from the Society then our friends here would just drop all this and everything would be alright” - see? Well, this was too much for Leadbeater and he said “I don’t think this is the right way to go about this, let’s have this out, if you like, as a formal hearing and we’ll get done with it ...” He knew what the facts were, you see. But I must explain to you that he was a man of extraordinary loyalty to leaders, if he ever gave a promise to anybody or any kind of undertaking, he would keep that no matter what might happen to him. Well Olcott turned on him and he said” Charles, I just want to ask you whether you wont oblige me in this matter. If you’ll just quietly resign from the Society, then our friends will just drop all this and the Society will be better” Oh my God! Excuse me, that’s my language! You can’t get anywhere like that! I’m not challenging Olcott, he was very old he was always managing things anyhow instead of going straight out. “Well” Leadbeater said “if you insist. You are our President”. I can’t tell you how he reverenced office of that kind, and so he introduced his resignation and the moment he did so, all these jackals whose word had been given that they would drop the matter, then really began to attack him, and said his resignation is proof that he’s guilty. But not at any time he has ever charged these people or fought them back. I will tell you something - when one of these people who was in the United States, that was most evil of all, fell afoul of the law for the very thing that had been attributed to Leadbeater, and of which this other man was guilty, I got a letter from Charles Leadbeater saying “You’re the only person in the United States that I know who might go and do all you can for so and so” - on his behalf, see? Now I tell you this because you are dealing with a man who has moral standards of a height I needn’t explain - indeed they cannot be explained; but whose ethical standards, you see, which are just as high, are mixed up with his - are involved in his criteria about occultism - about the welfare of the Society - about the good of the work and all that kind of thing, you see. It’s quite impossible to explain that, that overrode any personal considerations whatever - anything whatever. And unless you are on the inside of all these stories you cannot possibly estimate what kind of person he was. Well, I happen to know what kind of person he was. Now, just to finish this particular episode -later on Mrs Besant realized what had transpired, and she came to the United States in person - she was heroic in her way - she came to the U.S. in person. And I’ll never forget her confronting all these people at one of our national conferences - conventions. I might tell all of you who go to our national conventions now, you ain’t seeing anything . . . She was as big as he was, she was a tremendous person you know, and she came to this country to do the right thing. And she did it. She did it. Very wonderful to see. And she invited him to Adyar and he came. Of course he rejoined the Society. Of course his resignation was a nominal thing, you can’t resign from what you are , you know. He was the Society - a piece of the Society - And that is where he got in touch with Krishnamurti’s father and the two boys - I told you about that the other day . . . .and so you see A.B’s inviting him to Adyar had that very important outcome - the discovery of Krishnamurti - if you think that’s an important thing. And I wish to say that I do, in case anybody has any question about that! One of the most important that the Society’s ever managed to do. It’s nearly killed itself off, like mother giving birth to a child under trying conditions and so on, but it is without doubt one of the greatest things that has ever been ventured. And it is having immense effect, and it may have more effect, if we ever have world peace - if Krishnaji lives on into world peace.
Now as a result of this he had all sorts of extraordinary powers and insight, and I might add one more - I don’t want just to tell stories - I don’t think that’s the best thing, but I will tell a story which some of you have heard but many of you are new, and it’s a fascinating item and the kind of thing you don’t come by very often because of this interdiction you see in 1884, to this use of extraordinary forces. In 1906 I was in North India with C.W.L. and we visited in Agra. You know Agra is the place where the Taj Mahal is - and I must explain this too otherwise you wont get the point. In those days we were very popular with the Indian Rajas, and the Maharaja of . . ? . . had put a little private carriage at our disposal. You mustn’t have any vision of sumptuosity, you understand, it was a little carriage with coupe and another compartment with some water in it and a fan and that’s all - hard benches and so on - but the advantage was, we left all our luggage in it and we traveled all the way from . . .. very nearly to Bombay in this. Never had to take our luggage out, it was marvelous you see - “shunted” as the British say in their ignorance - “switch” to a side line in the railway station points, and we were now in Agra with this and we left the carriage in the morning to go to see all the sights - Taj Mahal and everything, and came back in the evening to get it again. Well, we were tired with all we’d done, and had fruit to eat in the carriage and C.W.L. always had - it was hot in the sun you know - an umbrella in his hand, and he had a couple of marble Taj Mahal’s in his arm - you know in boxes, everybody buys them and they always come home broken, and oh we were laden down and so on, and then a very strange thing happened. It was dusk. And really gloomy in the railway station. A great covered thing reverberating with the noises of the engines and things, and we came in on one side believing that our carriage was over there - it had been spotted over there. And as we came along - quite a long way, it was an immense station - C.W.L. was behind, and I was in the middle, and Basil - he was a long legged fellow - in front. And C.W.L saw Basil cross over like that he called to me to ask whether that was the carriage, you see? At least that’s what I thought he called. And I started to cross like that. But it seems that he had added something in the reverberation I didn’t hear - whether it would be alright to cross, whether it would be safe to cross. Why did he ask that, I don’t know, but he did it seems. So, you see, Basil crossing at right angles and me obliquely and Leadbeater more obliquely like that, we started to converge on this carriage. Basil was very close to it, he was nearer to it – when I had a tremendous sort of uneasy feeling and I looked around in the gloom just in time to see C.W.L ...?... like this, he couldn’t help himself, save himself - step into what is called a clinker pit, you know? You know a hole between the tracks where you could pull an engine over and get the clinkers out - you must have seen things like that in the early days. Anyhow, they exist. He fell in! Just fell down! Now the first thing is that he didn’t fall over on his head and bash himself to death on the opposite rail. And then, behind him I saw coming up a switch engine, shunting engine on the same line. Well I’ll tell you I just nearly died of fright and paralysis! And then with my own eyes I saw one of these phenomena's that you see very seldom. C.W.L. arose out of this pit all in one piece - he was breast high in it you understand - all in one piece complete with parcels and umbrella. Put his foot out on the opposite side of the hard ground from the air - that’s all I can tell you - and marched past me - just as if he were made of steel! Put his foot on the lower step which was high up you know the kind of steps that are at a landing platform, stepped up there, marched up exactly like a man of steel - one of these automatons you know, went in - I was then by the steps and I could see inside - put down his parcels, collapsed in the corner - and I tell you collapsed! He looked exactly like jelly and he shook like jelly. Basil had been in there trying to light the gas light - I don’t know whether you are old enough to know about gas light in carriages - and he had seen nothing of what had transpired out there, but he was shaking so that he couldn’t get the match over the little orifice by the gas - he had never seen anything at all - but something had happened! And C.W.L said in a sort of low tone: “It just isn’t fair, just isn’t fair” - meaning that the use of such energy is entirely out of order. And he was very sharp with me, if I may tell you, in his gaze, for though a jelly-fish he was all there! And I went out and sat on the carriage step for a little while until everybody calmed down.
Now Sue has asked about his life in Australia. I’ll talk a little about that - you could get more from Dora. In 1914 he went to Australia for certain reasons of his own. And there he joined forces with a man named T.H. Martin who had been a severe critic of his in earlier days. But Leadbeater made nothing of those things - he was for the Society rather than for himself. And the movement in Australia prospered from that point on very remarkably, very remarkably. And Leadbeater drew around him quite an extraordinary group of young people. He loved these children and they loved him and they respected him. And he had a way of putting steel in people’s backbones. Now I must be very plain with you - it was not all beer and skittles - living with him was not just cake and ice-cream you know - that’s the equivalent of beer and skittles. You worked for what you got, I want to tell you that! And the more you responded to what he believed you could do, the more he went after you! Now I must explain to you that he never lost his temper. But he could put on a display of temper that you could not tell from the real thing. Now I’ll show you the kind of a thing he would do - I’ve seen him do this thing quite often, he did it to me too until I got old enough to see through it, see! And then I wasn’t being kidded any more and then he stopped, see? It was always to get you going, to get you rooted, I mean unrooted - get you loose from the rut you’re in. He would, for instance, have ..? .. that’s one of the boys that was down there at that time, he would have him already to catch the mail - catching the mail was a sacred ritual with Leadbeater. He knew when every mail left, and he would calculate exactly the ferry that would cross to Sydney in time for the boy to get up to the Post Office just in time to catch the mail - right? He much preferred it so - he could have an hour to space but that wouldn’t be catching the mail, see? Alright. Well, . . ? . . would be there with the letters in his hand, you see, and maybe only 5 minutes to spare to catch the ferry and if you don’t catch the ferry you don’t get across the bay, if you don’t get across the bay you don’t catch the mail, see! So C.W.L would talk to ....... he would engage him in conversation, and then all of a sudden he would turn on him and say: “Do you realize you’ve very nearly lost that ferry!” And . . ? . .would turn tail and dash out of there for the ferry a mile a minute. Why did he do that? He was a funny bag of tricks. This was one way of getting at people, see? And, as I say, if you came to a point in your maturity when you found out that he was trying to get a rise out of you, you see, make you lose your temper, make you annoyed or something, and you quietly departed with the mail in good time no matter what he said to you, then he would never do this. He did that to me when I was growing up. I caught on fairly soon, and that was that - no more. What was he after? Well, he was trying to find out from the people who went through his hands, the kind of people who might be willing to take hold of themselves and become responsible for themselves in this work. He didn’t find very many. I won’t discuss the group in Australia - very few of them survived because of that fact. Dora’s the only specimen who’s there with all four feet.
He was so wonderful in his affections in addition - his non-professional life - wonderful in his affections. This Basil I think he loved as much as he loved anybody in the whole world. Basil died as a result of wounds in the First War, and we can’t say what might have come of it all, but all during his middle years when he was at Oxford and so on he lived a happy, good, worldly life and so on, and Leadbeater’s love for him and devotion to him never altered by one bit, nor to the very end. And he had the same feelings for all the other people whether they did well or did ill in the Society. If any of them came in on him afterward, he would bounce up full of affection and delight, you know, even though he felt, well, we haven’t got anywhere with him. He was a very complex person.
Other Voices: yes , yes ...
You may say, did she have no effect on the younger generation? She had a powerful effect. And the effect she had was this - when she came into contact with younger men, like George Arundale when he was just a young fellow out of university life - she had an effect on them which amounted really to invoking in them a kind of devotion. They were ready to do anything she asked of them whatsoever. And many people were affected by her in that way. And Raja Jinarajadasa, used to say “She makes men out of young men” She had that power. She was very wonderful.
Fritz: Yes, I knew a man in Kansas City, he told me this story. He had met her, but you’ll see how slight it was. He was at a lecture, and she came down the aisle with Max Wardall - you know, Ray’s brother - and Max singled this man out and called him to the aisle, a couple of seats to the aisle and he introduced him; and Mrs Besant lifted her . . .eyes and she looked at him. She never said a word, see? She just looked at him. And then she put her hand lightly on his shoulder and went on. That’s all she did. This fellow said that he never was the same again. He was a business man, married to a Catholic. This completely altered his whole life, you see that? And in spite of all of the problems of the Society he never faltered. She was really a magical person, actually a magical person. I never met anybody who could perform such instantaneous miracles. Later on I knew her well because when Leadbeater was in Australia I was a Principal of a College in Ceylon and later was a Journalist on her paper New India. I wrote editorials and things like that, and I was with her when she had to confront Gandhi because she knew if he were not checked to some extent it would be the French Revolution over in a worse way. On account of the poverty and starvation in India. I’ve been with her when she came down from a platform - they wouldn’t even hear her speak, they were so angry that she had dared to challenge Gandhi, and we had to surround her and protect her from excited people. We mustn’t judge them, they were just patriots. I’ve had my shirt torn off and all that sort of thing, you know. Hot stuff! But the most marvelous thing - I’ll conclude with this - about her that I had anything to do with, really a dramatic story.
Now how has it gone on since then? Well, that is a long and complicated story, and not perhaps the correct thing to pursue, especially late at night like this. But all I want to say is that all my personal experience in this movement has shown me the miraculous fashion in which these extraordinary personages who founded the Society managed to find a few people - not too many - a few people who see the light in this matter, and then don’t kid themselves - too much at any rate - and then somehow or other pick up the threads and keep it going on and growing a little bit and so on. And that is why we’re quite certain, you know - from that, in intellectual reasons, why it really is what they call in India the Bodhi, the undying tree of Truth, which has been planted again.
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