E.L. Gardner on Leadbeater

Edward Lewis Gardner (1869-1969) was an eminent member of the Theosophical Society in England (1907-1962). He founded and led a Theosophical Community at Stamford House, Wimbledon, 1926-1940, and was one of the founders of the Tekels Park Estate, Camberley, in 1928. He was the General Secretary of the English Section of the Theosophical Society, 1924-1928, and travelled widely as an international lecturer for the Society.

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In 1963 Gardner’s small work, There is No Religion Higher Than Truth, Theosophical Publishing House, London, was published. It sought to explain what Gardner considered to be Leadbeater’s unconscious self-deception in his claimed clairvoyance.

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Gardner wrote two other works on the same subject: The Liberal Catholic Church and The Theosophical Society, 1966, and The Rev. C.W. Leadbeater Problems, 1966, neither of which has ever been published. Copies of the manuscripts of were sent, labelled “Private”, to a few of Gardner’s closest associates. In addition, Gardner wrote a series of twelve letters on the same subject to Boris de Zirkhoff, 1964-1966. Those letters were kept in the archives of Point Loma Publications, California, and appear to have perished when that archives was destroyed by fire. It may be that copies exist elsewhere.

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In the two published works, and in the letters, Gardner offers somewhat startling details of the results of his inquiries into Leadbeater’s sexual teachings and practices, as well as into his claims to clairvoyance. Gardner suggests that his unpublished works need to be read in conjunction with his There is No Religion Higher Than Truth, 1963, and with Jinarajadasa’s On The Liberal Catholic Church, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1953. An understanding of Gardner’s comments is also enhanced by reference to his “Kriyashakti, Conscious and Unconscious”, The Theosophist, July, 1963.

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Having visited one of my off-site storage sites this morning, I was able to retrieve one of the large archival boxes of material relating to Leadbeater, including the file of Gardner’s writings and copies of his correspondence on the subject, and reproduce here the first page of The Rev. C.W. Leadbeater Problems, 1966, and the first page of what appears to be the first letter from Gardner to de Zirkhoff. I hope in due course to be able to publish an annotated collection of this material, and some other relevant material, subject to clarifying some issues relating to intellectual property rights.

One of those associates to whom Gardner gave copies of his unpublished material, and with whom he discussed his theories regarding Leadbeater, sex and psychic powers was Rex Dutta, an English Theosophist, who published some of that material in the strange journal he edited, Viewpoint Aquarius – which combined work on theosophy with work on “flying saucers”: see particularly Viewpoint Aquarius July/August, 1982.

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