The United Lodge and the Theosophical Movement
An Anonymous Associate of the U.L.T.
Robert Crosbie (photo) was the main founder of the ULT in 1909
The editors received the text below from
an experienced Associate of the ULT in the
United States of America. Its author is unknown.
The United Lodge of Theosophists (U.L.T.) presents itself not as an organisation, but as an organism, a living body of students, devoted to the dissemination by study and otherwise of the original teachings of Theosophy as recorded in the writings of the Founders of the modern Theosophical Movement, H.P.B. and William Q. Judge. The only ‘official’ document of the U.L.T. is a brave Declaration of principles, and one of these principles holds that the unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever and however situated, is “similarity of aim, purpose and teaching”, and therefore has neither Constitution, By-Laws nor Officers, the sole bond between its Associates being that basis.
Although the above words sound simple and clear, it still may be difficult to understand their real meaning and thereby missing the unique character, mission and purpose of U.L.T. Unacquainted with the history of the Theosophical Movement one may think that U.L.T. is just another theosophical group, especially when from a purely historical and chronological view U.L.T. only originated in 1909, and thus may be considered as only one of the many off-shoots of the original Theosophical Society, founded in 1875. In order to comprehend U.L.T. and its declaration it is therefore helpful to point out the difference between the Theosophical Movement as a whole and any theosophical organisation in particular. W.Q. Judge gives some interesting thoughts on this important subject:
“There is a very great difference between the Theosophical Movement and any Theosophical Society. The Movement is moral, ethical, spiritual, universal, invisible save in effect, and continuous. A Society formed for theosophical work is a visible organization, an effect, a machine for conserving energy and putting it to use; it is not nor can it be universal, nor is it continuous. Organized Theosophical bodies are made by men for their better cooperation, but, being mere outer shells, they must change from time to time as human defects come out, as the times change, and as the great underlying movement compels such alterations. The Theosophical Movement being continuous, it is to be found in all times and in all nations. Wherever thought has struggled to be free, wherever spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and dogmatisms, have been promulgated, there the great movement is to be discerned... One can therefore see that to worship an organization... is to fall down before Form.” (from the text “The Theosophical Movement”, in “The Path”, August, 1895)
H.P. Blavatsky herself once declared, in reply to those who tried to commit her to the Theosophical Society and its headquarters in Adyar:
“It is pure nonsense to say ‘H.P.B... is loyal to the Theosophical Society and to Adyar’ (!?). H.P.B. is loyal to death to the Theosophical CAUSE, and those great Teachers whose philosophy can alone bind the whole of Humanity into one Brotherhood. Together with Col. Olcott she is the chief Founder and Builder of the Society which was and is meant to represent that CAUSE... Therefore the degree of her sympathies with the ‘Theosophical Society and Adyar’ depends upon the degree of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B. calling the T.S. disloyal will shake it off like dust from her feet. And what does ‘loyalty to Adyar’ mean, in the name of all wonders? What is Adyar, apart from that CAUSE?... Why not loyal to the compound or the bath-room of Adyar?” (from “A Puzzle from Adyar”, Theosophical Articles I, p. 219, The Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 1981)
These statements are self-explanatory: while any theosophical organisation has a historical beginning and end - due to the fact that it is an organisation - the Theosophical Movement is meta-historical or trans-historical in the sense that it is a Movement of perennial Ideas and eternal Ideals and not of perishable forms, personalities and man-made structures through which the Movement may be embodied and exemplified. It also stands to reason that any organisation or group can only be called an expression in time and space of the timeless and spaceless Theosophical Movement when it tries to live up to these Ideas and Ideals. Any group may call itself theosophical, but this will remain only a nominal or formal description without content if such a group is not rooted metaphysically and ethically in the Theosophical Movement. Any theosophical group may have its historical roots within the Movement, but that in itself is not enough reason to call it theosophical. If that were true, being born in a family of theosophists would be sufficient reason for calling oneself a theosophist!
The U.L.T., founded in 1909 in Los Angeles, California, was formed under the inspiration and guidance of Robert Crosbie and some of his fellow students. Mr. Crosbie was a Theosophist residing in Boston during the time of William Q. Judge. He worked very closely with Judge, enjoying his confidence. When, after Judge’s death, the members most active at the New York headquarters raised Mrs. Tingley to the position of Judge’s successor, Mr. Crosbie gave her his loyalty and support. About 1900 he went to Point Loma to assist the work. However, in the course of a few years he realized that nothing constructive was to be accomplished by remaining at Point Loma, and that the original teachings and objects of the Movement were being diluted and changed by the methods and program instituted by Mrs Tingley’s authoritarian leadership. He left - some would say he was expelled from - the T.S. Point Loma in 1904 and came to Los Angeles. He gradually began to gather around him a few students to undertake once more the task of promulgating Theosophy as originally intended and presented by the Founders of the Movement. In 1909 the U.L.T. was formed to carry out the purposes in view.
The U.L.T. is an integral part of the Theosophical Movement, not because - as some may think - it originated historically as a secession from the T.S. Point Loma, but because its associates are bound together by the tie of common aim, purpose and teaching, in the cause of Theosophy. U.L.T. is not so much historically linked with the Movement, and certainly not with any theosophical organisation, but is spiritually rooted in the Movement, because its sole raison d’être is to serve mankind through the study and application of the original philosophy of Theosophy. The link between U.L.T. and the universal Theosophical Movement lies solely in the Theosophical Message and its exemplification in practice, through a truer realization of the SELF; a profounder conviction of Universal Brotherhood.
The concept of U.L.T. as a vehicle for Theosophical work derives mainly from the experience and insight of Robert Crosbie, who throughout a long association with the original Theosophical Society, was witness to the schisms and divisions caused in the movement by organizational claims, controversy over “authority”, and the competition of personal leaders and self-appointed successors to H.P.B.. Looking superficially at the origin of U.L.T. one is likely to conclude that U.L.T. is nothing more than an historical reaction against the personality cult and the religious, but untheosophical concept of successorship that was polluting the Movement. Although certain tragic events within the different theosophical societies triggered U.L.T. into existence, this does not explain its real being, which lies not in the history, but in the meta-historical Cause of the Theosophical Movement, i.e. its Ideas and Ideals. Therefore the Declaration of U.L.T. cannot be understood as a partly historical, partly psychological reaction by Mr. Crosbie against the leadership of Mrs. Tingley or against any other power struggle within the then existing Theosophical Societies. If that were true, it would have made more sense for Mr. Crosbie to have formed another T.S. - with himself as appointed President or Leader - together with some other people leaving the Point Loma community as well, like for instance Mr. Hargrove, whom indeed followed that course. But Robert Crosbie didn’t, and that is something to consider and ponder about, no matter how one perceives or interprets the course of historical events. He started something entirely new and unique within the history of the Movement; instead of establishing another T.S. with people claiming authority and thereby creating another split within the Movement, Mr. Crosbie launched an impersonal platform, a forum for everyone interested in the study and application of Theosophy. In the words of Mr. Crosbie himself:
“ ‘U.L.T.’ and its Declaration will be compared by many with the claims made by the various societies and their exponents. Each of these makes the claim that he or it is alone right. What are our claims? - it will be asked. We make none: we point to the Message, the Messengers, and their enunciation of the Work - and carry on the latter in accordance; we have no ‘revelation’ to offer, we only hand on that which was known before. The position is unique and unassailable in that it makes no claim to any other authority than the Message and the Messengers... The Authority which we recognize is not what men term authority, which comes from outside and which demands obedience, but an internal recognition of the value of that which flows through any given point, focus or individual. This is the authority of one’s Self-discrimination, intuition, the highest intellection. If we follow what we recognize in that way, and still find it good, we naturally keep our faces in that direction. This means no slavish following of any person - a distinction which some are unable to grasp... The ‘U.L.T.’ Declaration should turn the attention of every open-minded Theosophist from forms to principles. It provides a real basis for study and work. Its reasonableness should awaken many to get busy on themselves. The door is open to all, but we cannot help those who will neither listen nor think. I was amused at the statement published in the Besant periodical that U.L.T. is a ‘secession from Point Loma’. I wonder how they made the deduction? As it is largely composed of Theosophists from different organizations, it might be better called a ‘secession’ from them all! The fact that ‘U.L.T.’ does not profess attachment to any organization, and that it has no organization of its own, does not appear to have registered with those who would pigeon-hole us as well as themselves... We must be watchful to correct the impression wherever it exists that ‘U.L.T.’ is a secession or succession, or anything but an Association to study and apply Theosophy pure and simple.”
(From the book “The Friendly Philosopher”, by R. Crosbie, Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, p. 372-373 and 388.)
To sum up: U.L.T. cannot be explained (away) as a mere psychological historical reaction, but must be understood as a noetic or spiritual meta-historical action, taken by its founder, who recognized that Theosophy in itself, regardless of organizations or personal authority, offers the basis for real Unity amongst theosophists. U.L.T. is therefore not an organization - although even some of its associates may misinterpret it as such- but an organism which stands for certain principles and ideas; those who associate themselves with these principles and ideas are attracted and bound by those principles and ideas only - not by their fellow students who do likewise or those fellow-men who refrain or whom cease to consider themselves to be bound. THE DECLARATION, together with its signed affirmation by the Associates, is a wide departure from anything that exists as an organization.
What are our claims? We make none: we point to the Message, the Messengers, and their enunciation of the Work. The position is unique and unassailable in that it makes no claim to any other authority than the Message and the Messengers...and points to where one might look for the impersonal Truth, impersonal because all inclusive.
We must be watchful to correct the impression wherever it exists that “U.L.T.” is a secession or succession, or anything but an Association to study and apply Theosophy pure and simple. (From “The Friendly Philosopher”, pp. 372-373 and 388.)
Casting the Umbrella of the Modern Theosophical Movement over all sincere students regardless of their affiliation.
“The true Theosophist belongs to no cult or sect, yet belongs to each and all.”
This statement at the end of the Declaration is considered by serious students as not just an idea, but rather as an Ideal that is realized through effort and Self growth.
On the role of the esoteric movement in the ethical awakening of mankind during the 21st century, see the book “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature”, by Carlos Cardoso Aveline.
Published in 2013 by The Aquarian Theosophist, the volume has 255 pages and can be obtained through Amazon Books.