Ernest Pelletierís Viewpoint
A 2011 Dialogue On the Karma and
Dharma of the Theosophical Movement
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
Front cover and opening page of “The Judge Case – A
Conspiracy Which Ruined the Theosophical CAUSE”, a
hardcover, large-format volume with 1,007 pages and 71 photographs.
“If it wasn’t for the few, who struggle,
who try to reconnect with the Spirit of the
Original Program, there would be no hope at all.”
With friends and readers scattered through different continents, Mr. Ernest Pelletier is one of the most active members of the small but influential Edmonton Theosophical Society (E.T.S.), which for twelve years (1997-2008) issued from Canada the international magazine “Fohat”.
In 2004, the E.T.S. published Pelletier’s groundbreaking book “The Judge Case”. This vast and fully documented volume discusses the obstacles facing the theosophical movement in the 21st century.
Some may think that Pelletier’s vision is not optimistic enough: each reader must evaluate that. Pelletier is a lifelong worker for the Cause, and his contribution - as that of the Edmonton Society - is significant for the theosophical effort as a whole. Pelletier also sees the narrow, uphill path ahead, and he points to it.
The following questions have been submitted to Mr. Pelletier in written form, for publication in our associated websites.
1) What is the background of your connection to the theosophical movement?
In order to understand which perspective I’m coming from it is important to understand some of the history of Edmonton Theosophical Society. Here is a brief summary.
Firstly, it has been an honor for me in this life, since the mid-1970s, to be part of the Theosophical Movement. I was never a joiner of organizations but interesting circumstances at the time convinced me that I should join the Edmonton Lodge. The teachings, as presented to me at the time, covered a whole range of interesting philosophies, ideas and explanations which immediately connected with my inner being. My mentor who had studied Theosophical philosophy for many years was regarded in Canada as an authority on “The Secret Doctrine”. He always kept a low profile, but corresponded with the best minds of the time.
Here is part of what I wrote in my introduction to “The Judge Case: A Conspiracy Which Ruined the Theosophical Cause” (TJC):
“When my wife and I joined the Society in 1977, through The Theosophical Society in Canada, Edmonton Lodge (now Edmonton Theosophical Society), two elderly gentlemen were the firm anchors of the group. The elder of the two, Emory P. Wood, was a serious student interested in theosophical history and completely dedicated to H.P.B., the Masters, and to the Original Program. The other gentleman, Bertram J. Whitbread, a few years younger and just as dedicated, was involved with the Esoteric Section (E.S.) and also associated with a Lodge that had priests in the Liberal Catholic Church (L.C.C.). He studied Alice Bailey’s writings as well. Group study was always centered on the original teachings as presented by Blavatsky and the Masters, and these two gentlemen, both sincere and serious students for over sixty years, maintained a balance within Edmonton Lodge. I am grateful for the wisdom and guidance they provided and the technique of study they taught us. Students were encouraged to investigate everything and to determine the truth for themselves. It was recommended that they start with an understanding of the original program, its source literature, and its history before exploring other concepts.”
Edmonton Lodge was part of the Theosophical Society in Canada, and the T.S. in Canada was a member of the Society at Adyar. When Edmonton first joined in 1911 we were chartered under the American Section as a branch society and later amalgamated with T.S. in Canada when a Section was formed by Albert Smythe and others.
2) W. Q. Judge is still little known by a great part of the theosophical movement. What is the real importance of understanding his life and work and benefitting from his example?
It has been noted historically that there was influence by the Masters in the forming of the original Theosophical Society with its designated Objects. The importance of three people gathered together with a common purpose has been mentioned in various writings. It seems logical to conclude that H.P. Blavatsky, Colonel H.S. Olcott and W.Q. Judge were destined to be the three individuals providing the impetus for the Movement. How they came together is outlined below.
Olcott and Judge were brought together through their legal practices well before either met Blavatsky in 1874. Judge clarifies his early involvement with Olcott before the formation of the Theosophical Society in a letter to Casper L. Robertson where Judge explains the facts relating to the rumors regarding Olcott, his marriage and divorce, stating “I myself attended to part of this for him . . .”
According to New York County Court House, Olcott’s divorce was finalized on December 28, 1874. Further research has revealed that Olcott’s law practice serviced such clients as the New York Stock Exchange, the United States Treasury, and the City of New York by way of the Corporation Counsel. The Corporation Counsel served as New York City’s chief legal officers and acted as legal advisors to the Mayor and all City agencies. Edward Delafield Smith and later George P. Andrews both served as Corporation Counsel. W.Q. Judge worked for both these men.
These facts provide us with some details regarding Judge and his early relationship with Olcott and his family, before they met Blavatsky. It would be prudent to recognize the fact, based on the evidence provided, that Judge knew Olcott quite well, prior to Olcott’s account of the phenomena of the Eddy family published first in the New York “Sun” in the summer of 1874, and his articles in the New York “Daily Graphic” which were later published as a book, “People from the Other World”, in March 1875.
Judge explained that he had known Blavatsky since 1874 in his article “Yours till Death and After, H.P.B.” where he wrote: “In 1874, in the City of New York, I first met H.P.B. in this life.” This meeting would have occurred in the fall or early winter of 1874 while Olcott was sending his reports to the New York “Sun”and prior to his 1875 book, “People from the Other World”.
Blavatsky wrote in a letter to Franz Hartman that she was sent by the Mahatmas “to America . . . and sent to the Eddys. . .” to expose what the various knockings and apparitions at seances were and what they were not. She settled in New York City and proceeded to the Eddy Farm in Chittenden, VT, where she met Olcott.
When reading the official inaugural Minutes of the Society (included in TJC) one quickly discovers three important facts. 1. That Col. Olcott proposed that a Society be formed . . . 2. That upon motion from W.Q. Judge it was resolved that Col. H. S. Olcott take the chair. 3. That it was also resolved that W.Q. Judge act as Secretary. These resolutions don’t just happen by chance; they are organized by people who are drawn together by common interests and special circumstances. These facts cannot be denied - Judge was an integral part in the formation of the Theosophical Society in 1875.
One of the important reasons to take Judge’s involvement in the theosophical Cause seriously is made plain by HPB herself. In 1886, commenting on Judge’s magazine, “The Path”, she described it as “pure Buddhi”. In 1889, speaking in the third person about Judge, she stated “W.Q.J. is part of herself since several eons” and that he was the link between “American thought & the Indian - or rather the trans-Himalayan Esoteric Knowledge”. This alone makes it clear Judge was an integral part of the plan. It was acknowledged among those who knew him intimately that he was never known to have ever lied. Influential business people who defended him claimed that Judge could have anything he wanted from them but asked for nothing, and gave selflessly of himself. In spite of the persecution he suffered over the false accusations against him, the worst he could say after the years of torment was, when speaking of Annie Besant, “I pity her in her next life”.
3) Why should students read Judge’s books and writings in the 21st century?
One can definitely benefit from studying both his writings and his exemplary attitude and life. As mentioned previously, it is clear that he was closely involved with the forming of the Theosophical Society. I maintain that his deep involvement within the Society was purposely kept low-key so as to not draw too much attention to him as he progressed on his spiritual path. In October 1886 HPB wrote to Judge:
“The trouble with you is that you do not know the great change that came to pass in you a few years ago [while in India]. Others have occasionally their astrals changed and replaced by those of Adepts (as of Elementaries) & they influence the outer, and the higher man. With you, it is the Nirmanakaya not the ‘astral’ that blended with your astral. . . .”
This implies a very refined spiritual state on the part of Judge. Yet unsubstantiated innuendoes have been given greater credence than HPB’s personal remarks as to the trustworthiness of Judge’s character. Blavatsky’s statements have been dismissed repeatedly by those who choose to discredit Judge. Theosophists need to think for themselves, but most accept others’ statements rather than doing their own investigating. An examination of the evidence will demonstrate that Judge was chosen to be part of the theosophical movement from the onset. Researchers now unfortunately are mostly merely archivists, and that is not what the theosophical Cause is about.
4) The book “The Judge Case” has been described by some as a “one-volume library”. Its size is comparable to that of the “Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabrigded Dictionary of the English Language”. It has a great value as a source of information. It also has an intriguing subtitle: “A Conspiracy Which Ruined the Theosophical CAUSE”. Up to what extent did the 1894-95 conspiracy against William Judge actually ruin the Cause?
The book was given the title “The Judge Case: A Conspiracy Which Ruined the Theosophical CAUSE” for many reasons.
The Cause was the Original Program outlined by the Mahatmas. A movement was built around this noble Cause, with the Theosophical Society as its vehicle. Judge possessed exceptional clarity of thought and promoted self-culture. He was able to express the “heart doctrine” and stressed ethics in all his writings. When Judge was attacked the Original Program, the Cause, was attacked along with him.
Besant, although perhaps sincere, became confused. Was she to follow the President of the Society or the spirit of Theosophy? Maybe it was ambition, or because of the attention she received from Olcott and later from Chakravarti. Maybe all the accolades as a wonderful speaker with great intellect prevented her from having clearer perception. Maybe she tried to do too much too fast with little spiritual knowledge.
We must not forget that Annie Besant spent very little time with Blavatsky. She only joined the Theosophical Society in May 1889. Blavatsky died two years later. During those two years Besant spent most of her time lecturing in England, going from town to town, and once to North America. No matter which confusion weighed heaviest, when she became President of the Society she changed practically everything. Those who became close to her, such as men like Chakravarti and later Leadbeater dominated her consciousness to such a degree that she conducted her life through the conscious awareness of those men. An example of this is Krishnamurti, the one chosen by Leadbeater as the “Vehicle for the Coming Christ”. Krishnamurti renounced all ties with Leadbeater pronouncing him “evil” but claiming that Besant was sincere. My two part article titled “Annie Besant: Her Passions and Her Relationships” explores these avenues. This article was published in “Fohat” magazine, Winter 2000 and Spring 2001 and is available at theosophycanada.com. It was not included in my book but it certainly formed part of an underlying understanding of it.
Not only Besant was confused; so were the ones close to Judge in North America. Despite Judge’s warning that “There should be calmness. Hold fast. Go slow”, they became confused. After his sudden death they were scrambling to find a successor. Panic set in and confusion prevailed. Katherine Tingley came to the forefront as the new Leader of the Theosophical Society in America. It was attempted to portray Tingley as the Theosophical Leader for the whole world but that failed miserably. The Theosophical Society in America was usurped and became a subsidiary of Universal Brotherhood - a new organization with a new constitution. They also changed the Society’s focus from philosophical to a “Salvation Army business” or as John M. Pryse called it “ephemeral philanthropy”. The focus was changed from the Original Cause to a personal cause, with Tingley as autocratic leader.
I maintain that if Judge had achieved what he was well on his way to achieving by way of influencing thought towards a more spiritual bent, the purpose of the Theosophical Society, which the Masters described as “to stem the tide of materialism” would indeed have made a difference. Destroying Judge’s reputation ensured he would remain discredited for a very long time and that what he did present would be ignored.
5) Can the Adyar Theosophical Society have a future, without renouncing ritualism and pseudo-theosophy?
Adyar, as a Society, as the vehicle for the dissemination of the WISDOM-RELIGION, has had no future since they rejected Judge. Blavatsky wrote “Judge is one of the Founders and a man who has ever been true to the Masters. . . . And Judge will be the President of the T.S. after our death or the T.S. will die with us.” [See TJC, p. 26] Besant had been working behind Judge’s back to discredit him whereas it was forbidden to speak ill of a fellow member of the Esoteric School. It was realized that Besant’s confusion had caused her to be influenced to pursue two distinct paths of instructions, which was also forbidden in the rules of the Esoteric Section. This caused a schism within the ranks. By rejecting Judge, Adyarites have also rejected HPB. Olcott saved the Society, but the spirit of the Masters’ influence has long vanished from Adyar.
To nurture the true Cause, blind allegiance and oaths to the “Outer Head” and leader of organizations which are supposedly not part of the TS, must be renounced. HPB went to great lengths to discount “churchianity” and yet it is ensconced within (contrary to what is claimed) the Adyar society. Theosophy has no enshrined beliefs and no rituals. The esoteric section died when Judge died and, therefore, any connection with the Mahatmas was lost long ago.
6) Your viewpoint deserves respect from those who think differently. How do you see the life and vitality of the non-Adyar sections of the movement?
I see regions that are doing reasonably well; some have found a renewed impetus. They can make a difference.
7) Writing in 2011, what is your assessment of the Justice to Judge movement and its chain of yearly letters to India, which started in 2006?
I see individuals trying to understand what went wrong. I see individuals crying out for help to try and fix the damage that was done. But who is listening? The purpose of theosophy was to reignite a spark, a quality of MIND that was disappearing, in the few, so they in turn could pass that spark to others. That spark diminished greatly after Judge’s death. Members became followers rather than free thinkers. Theosophy is not a competitive sport jockeying for better position. It should be a cooperative interchange and understanding of Theosophical ideas. If it wasn’t for the few, who struggle, who try to reconnect with the Spirit of the Original Program, there would be no hope at all.
The Justice for Judge movement is an initiative that Adyar may ignore, but which I believe is being noticed by others who really matter. To quote from “The Mahatma Letters”, “Like the light in the sombre valley seen by the mountaineer from his peaks, every bright thought in your mind, my Brother, will sparkle and attract the attention of your distant friend . . . .[K.H.]”. And also from “The Mahatma Letters”: “Motive is everything”.
8) There’s an interesting, well-documented book on the History of the theosophical movement in Canada. It was published by the Edmonton T.S.
It’s “Theosophy in Canada: ‘The Split’ and other Studies in Early Canadian Theosophical History and Some Early Canadian Theosophists” (400 pp). The author is Ted G. Davy.
Mr. Davy is the most knowledgeable person on the history of the theosophical movement in Canada. From 1968 to 1986 he served as General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Canada. He and his wife Doris were co-Editors of “The Canadian Theosophist” from 1961 to 1991. Ted’s mainstay with the magazine was to continue in the tradition of its founder A.E.S. Smythe. Mr. Smythe was a good friend of Mr. Judge - both were Irish immigrants, one to the US and the other to Canada.
The first two hundred pages focus on the Early Years, Theosophy in Toronto, Social reforms, Canadian Autonomy, Adyar’s meddling in politics including Mrs. Besant’s visits to Toronto and her beliefs on “World Religion”. The remainder of the book profiles a few of the early members, the fine minded individuals who helped define Theosophy in Canada.
9) Besides “Theosophy in Canada” and “The Judge Case”, the Edmonton Society has published a number of other important books and texts. How can these materials be obtained?
Despite being a small independent organization Edmonton Theosophical Society has been very active in the Movement.
We were the first to republish many rare pamphlets, documents and old magazines in order to preserve much of the history and literature of the Theosophical Movement. Over the years we have published well over one hundred titles. We have defended the right that all documents must be preserved and that no document should be destroyed to avoid embarrassment. With the advent of the Internet we are leery of its potential because it is a two-edged sword. On one side much information can be had but much of that information can also be edited without notice, distorting details. Visit theosophycanada.com for information about us and what we stand for. Edmonton Theosophical Society can be contacted via our mailing address:
“P. O. Box 4587, Edmonton, Alberta T6E 5G4, Canada.”
The above text was first published in May 2011.
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.
E-Theosophy e-group offers a regular study of the classic, intercultural theosophy taught by Helena P. Blavatsky (photo).
Ernest Pelletierís Viewpoint