Alice Bailey

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© Photo: The Lucis Trust
Alice A. Bailey, c. 1920

Alice Ann Bailey (June 16, 1880 – December 15, 1949) was a writer on spiritual, occult, esoteric and religious themes who was among the first to popularize the terms New Age and Age of Aquarius. She wrote on subjects such as meditation, healing, spiritual psychology, the destiny of nations, and prescriptions for society, publishing twenty-five books, most of which she claimed had been telepathically dictated to her by a "Master of the Wisdom" whom she referred to as "The Tibetan". [1] [2][3] Like many works of an occult or metaphysical nature, her writings are romantic with many obscure or esoteric references including "a bewildering variety of terms".[4]

Bailey's writings have much in common with those of Madame Helena Blavatsky, a Theosophist in that her followers believed her to be a mediator or channel for sages or wise men from the East. Like Blavatsky, Bailey claimed inspiration from Eastern sources and sages, but unlike Blavatsky, Bailey also used Christian terms and symbols.

Althought she regarded traditional religious forms as divisive human creations, Bailey elaborated a vision of a unified society that includes a global "spirit of religion," and founded The Lucis Trust to promote "World Goodwill." [5]

Life

Alice Bailey was born as Alice LaTrobe Bateman, in Manchester, UK, to a wealthy family, and received a Christian education. She describes being uncomfortable in the "well-padded, sleek and comfortable world" of her youth and in a "Victorian" society that she was out of sympathy with and that she came to see as rooted in a false theology.[1] She wrote that, at age 15, she was visited on June 30, 1895, by "...a tall man, dressed in European clothes and wearing a turban." [6] She first supposed this individual was Jesus, but later identified him as a theosophical master, Hoot Koomi. [7]

"He told me there was some work that it was planned that I could do in the world but that it would entail my changing my disposition very considerably; I would have to give up being such an unpleasant little girl and must try and get some measure of self-control." [1]

At age 22, Bailey did some evangelical work which took her to India where, in 1907, she met her future husband, Walter Evans. Together they moved to the USA, where Evans became an Episcopal priest. However, she stated that her husband mistreated her and she divorced him in 1915, subsequently working for a time as a factory hand to support herself and their three children. [6] [8] Bailey's break was not only with her Christian husband, but with Orthodox Christianity in general; she wrote that “a rabid, orthodox Christian worker [had] become a well-known occult teacher.” [1]

In 1915, Bailey discovered "Theosophy" - a mystical doctrine which holds that all religions are attempts by the 'Occult Brotherhood' to help humanity evolve to greater perfection - and the Theosophy Society - Adyar, the original Theosophical Society which had been founded by Helena Blavatsky in 1975.[9] [10] She claimed to recognize Koot Hoomi, the master who had visited her in her childhood, from a portrait in the Shrine Room of the Society. [11]. She rose to a position of influence in the Society, and became editor of its magazine "The Messenger. [12] In 1919, Foster Bailey (1888-1977), who was to be her second husband, became National Secretary of the Theosophical Society [13]

Bailey claimed that, in 1919, she was contacted by a teacher she called "The Tibetan":

“I heard what I thought was a clear note of music which sounded from the sky, through the hill and in me. Then I heard a voice which said, 'There are some books which it is desired should be written for the public. You can write them. Will you do so?' Without a moment's notice I said, 'Certainly not. I'm not a darned psychic and I don't want to be drawn into anything like that.'" [1]

She states that she was persuaded to write down the communications from this source, and between 1919 to 1949 she wrote 24 books. Bailey wrote much about the “Masters of the Wisdom,” which she believed to be a brotherhood of enlightened sages working under the guidance of "the Christ." She stated her writings were an effort to clarify the nature of these Masters.[14].

The Theosophist published the first few chapters of her first book, Initiation, Human and Solar, but then stopped for what Bailey believed was "theosophical jealousy and reactionary attitude." [12] She led, with her husband Foster, a "Back to Blavatsky" movement, [15][16] but her efforts to influence the society failed, and she and Foster were dismissed from their positions.[17] In 1923, with Foster, Bailey founded the Arcane School, which gives a correspondence course based on her books.[18] They also organized an 'International Goodwill Movement'.

Teachings

"...Bailey can only be described as a 'post-Theosophical' theorist... Her third book, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire (1925), is not only dedicated to Blavatsky but even reproduces the apocryphal 'Stanzas of Dzyan' upon which Blavatsky's own text had supposedly been based..." [19]

Her first book, Initiation Human and Solar, was well received at first by other theosophists, but her claims to be the recipient of ageless wisdom from the Masters[20] soon met with opposition. [21] The conflict is understandable since her works voiced criticisms of what she saw as dogmatic structures within the Theosophical society, while questioning the pledges of loyalty to Theosophical leaders that were required. [22]

Underlying her writings is the idea that all is energy and that spirit, matter, and the psychic forces intermediate between them are forms of energy.[23] From one essential energy, divinity, proceeds seven rays that underlie and shape the evolution of human life and the phenomenal world. She saw these rays as the creative forces of planets and stars, but also as the forces conditioning the physical, psychic, and spiritual constitution of man. [24] The concept of the rays can also be found in earlier Theosophical works. [25]

In line with Theosophy,[26] Bailey taught that man is a soul working through a personality consisting of mind, emotions, and body. Mind and emotions are conceived as psychical energies that are part of the 'aura' or inner constitution of individuals. She uses the traditional theosophical terms for these of etheric body, astral body and mental body. These aspects of the human being are defined as partial emanations or expressions of the 'soul'. In her terminology, "soul" is a synonym for evolving consciousness, evolution is a process of personality integration and alignment of personality with soul, and it is this transformation that leads toward right human relationships and spiritual revelation or awakening. Steps on the spiritual path are "initiations," an evolution that is an entering into new and wider fields of consciousness, relationships, responsibilities, and power[27]

She wrote that, behind human evolution stands a brotherhood of enlightened souls who have guided humanity throughout history. The influences of religions, philosophies, sciences, educational movements, and human culture are conceived by her as the result of this relationship.[28] She elaborates on this in her teaching on "Discipleship in the New Age." In this, all 'awakening souls' stand in a relationship to a particular "Master of Wisdom" that is conditioned by karma, evolutionary status, and the potential for work on behalf of humanity.[29] This "service" aspect is emphasized in Bailey's writings; she downplays the devotional aspects of the spiritual life in favor of service on behalf of humanity.

Unity and divinity of nations and groups

Underlying Bailey's writings are the concepts of unity and divinity.[30] "Catholics, Jews, Gentiles, occidentals and orientals are all the sons of God." [31] She believed that an individual's primary allegiance is to humanity as a whole, and emphasized the equality of man: "World democracy will take form when men everywhere are regarded in reality as equal..."[32] She believed that all religions originate from the same spiritual source, and that when humanity comes to realize this, it will result in the emergence of a universal world religion, "Then there will be neither Christian nor heathen, neither Jew nor Gentile, but simply one great body of believers ..." [1] She envisioned a "new group of world servers," of all races, classes and creeds who serve the Plan, humanity, the Hierarchy and the Christ. [33] She believed in the return of "Christ", but saw Christ as 'the energy of love' and his "return" as the awakening of that energy in human consciousness. The new Christ might be "no particular faith at all"[34]:

"He may appear as an Englishman, a Russian, a Negro, a Latin, a Turk, a Hindu, or any other nationality. Who can say which? He may be a Christian or a Hindu by faith, a Buddhist or of no particular faith at all; He will not come as the restorer of any of the ancient religions, including Christianity, but He will come to restore man's faith in the Father's love, in the fact of the livingness of the Christ and in the close, subjective and unbreakable relationship of all men everywhere." [35]

Bailey was critical of orthodox Christianity, "..the so-called heathen have demonstrated historically less of the evil of vicious conflict than has the militant Christian world." [36] [37]For Bailey, what was most important was not race or religion but the 'evolution of consciousness.'[38] She criticized many nations, groups and religions for violating the spirit of unity and brotherhood. "We could take the nations, one by one, and observe how this nationalistic, separative or isolationist spirit, emerging out of an historical past, out of racial complexes, out of territorial position, out of revolt and out of possession of material resources, has brought about the present world crisis and cleavage and this global clash of interests and ideals." [39]

Controversy

Bailey spoke against orthodox Christianity, American isolationism, nationalism, Zionism, Soviet totalitarianism, fascism, and Nazism. In 1947, in outlining the causes of world conflict, she cited the fight for oil and the fight over Palestine, "...a fight which has greed and not any love of Palestine behind it, and which is governed by financial interests and not by the humanitarian spirit which the Zionists claim".[40]

Her writing includes various prophesies, but with no specific dates attached to them. For instance, in the future, "...the whole field of religion will be reinspired and reoriented from Rome because the Master Jesus will again take hold of the Christian Church in an effort to respiritualize it and to reorganize it. From the chair of the Pope of Rome, the Master Jesus will attempt to swing that great branch of the religious beliefs of the world again into a position of spiritual power ..." [41][42] Bailey's iconoclastic writings have evoked harsh criticism from some orthodox Christians who believe she is an "antichrist." [43]

At the same time, she spoke out against hatred of the Jews. In her autobiography, she stated that she was on Hitler's "blacklist" because of her defense of the Jews during her lectures in Europe. [1] "God has made all men equal; the Jew is a man and a brother, and every right that the Gentile owns is his also, inalienably and intrinsically his. This the Gentile has forgotten and great is his responsibility for wrong doing and cruel action." Nevertheless, her criticism of what she saw as their separative nature evoked charges of antisemitism. Victor Shnirelman, a cultural anthropologist and ethnographer wrote that "… racist and antisemitic trends are explicit, for example, in the occult teachings of Alice Bailey (founder of the New Age movement)." [44]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Bailey, Alice A (1951) The Unfinished Autobiography Lucis Trust
  2. Pike, Sarah M (2004). New Age and Neopagan in America. Columbia University Press, 64. ISBN 0231124023. 
  3. Balyoz, Harold (1986) Three Remarkable Woman Altai Publishers
  4. Roberts RRH, Pearson J, Samuel G (1998) Nature Religion Today: paganism in the modern world Edinburgh University Press ISBN: 074861057X
  5. Elizabeth Puttick (2008) "The Lucis Trust" in Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements Routledge, ISBN: 0415453836
  6. 6.0 6.1 Keller, Rosemary Skinner; Rosemary Radford Ruether, Marie Cantlon (2006). Encyclopedia of Women And Religion in North America. Indiana University Press, 763. ISBN 0253346886. 
  7. Hammer, Olav (2004). Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age. BRILL, 65. ISBN 900413638X. 
  8. Sutcliffe, Steven J (2003) Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices Routledge
  9. Mills, Joy (1987) 100 Years of Theosophy, A History of the Theosophical Society in America
  10. Meade, Marion (1980) Madame Blavatsky, the Woman Behind the Myth Putnam
  11. Ross, Joseph E (2004) Krotona of Old Hollywood, Vol. II Joseph Ross p. 340
  12. 12.0 12.1 Campbell, Bruce F (1980) Ancient Wisdom Revived, a History of the Theosophical Movement Berkely
  13. York, Michael (1995) The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements, Rowman & Littlefield
  14. Bailey, Alice A (1951) The Unfinished Autobiography. Lucis Trust. From the Preface by Foster Bailey
  15. Ransom, Josephine (1938) A Short History of the Theosophical Society, Adyar p 452
  16. "Bailey, Alice, A Vision of Krotona's Future in The Messenger
  17. Ross, Joseph E (2004) Krotona of Old Hollywood, Vol. II Joseph Ross
  18. York, Michael (1995) The Emerging Network: A Sociology of the New Age and Neo-Pagan Movements Rowman & Littlefield
  19. Sutcliffe, Steven J (2003) Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices Routledge
  20. Lewis, James R (2004) The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements Oxford University Press
  21. Hammer, Olav (2001) Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of epistemology from theosophy to the new age" BRILL p. 65
  22. Keller , Rosemary Skinner (2006) Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America Indiana University Press
  23. Bailey, Alice A (1936) Esoteric Psychology I Lucis Trust
  24. Jurriaance, Aart (1978) Bridges, " Bridges Trust, South Africa, c. 1978
  25. Wood, Ernest (1925) The Seven Rays, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois
  26. Leadbeater, CW (1914) A Textbook Of Theosophy, The Theosophical Publishing House, India, chapter I
  27. Bailey, Alice A (1953) From Bethlehem to Calvary Lucis Trust
  28. Jurriaance, Aart (c. 1978) Bridges, " Bridges Trust, South Africa
  29. Bailey, Alice A (1944) Discipleship in the New Age, Volume 1 Lucis Trust
  30. Bailey, Alice A (1951) A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Vol 3: Esoteric Astrology. Lucis Trust
  31. Bailey, Alice A (1957) The Externalization of the Hierarchy Lucis Trust p 208)
  32. Bailey, Alice A (1947) Problems of Humanity Lucis Trust
  33. Sutcliffe, Steven J (2003) Children of the New Age: A History of Spiritual Practices Routledge
  34. Bailey, Alice A (1951) Esoteric Astrology Lucis Trust
  35. Bailey, Alice A The Reappearance of the Christ
  36. Bailey, Alice A (1947) Probl ems of Humanity Lucis Trust
  37. Bailey, Alice A (1934) A Treatise on White Magic Lucis Trust
  38. Bailey, Alice A (1947) The Rays and the Initiations, Lucis Trust
  39. Bailey, Alice A (1947) The Externalization of the Hierarchy Lucis Trust
  40. Bailey, Alice A (1957) The Externalization of the Hierarchy Lucis Trust
  41. Bailey, Alice A (1949) The Destiny of the Nations Lucis Trust)
  42. Stephenson, James, Prophecy on trial: Dated prophecies from the Djwhal Khul (the Tibetan) to Alice Bailey, transmissions of 1919-1949
  43. McQuick, Oneil (2005) Demonology Revealed Liberation International Ministries
  44. Shnirelman VA. Russian Neo-pagan Myths and Antisemitism in Acta no. 13, Analysis of Current Trends in Antisemitism. The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. 1998. Retrieved 2007-08-22