Alice Bailey

Alice Ann Bailey (June 16, 1880 – December 15, 1949), known as Alice A. Bailey or AAB, was an influential writer and metaphysical teacher in what she termed "Ageless Wisdom." This included spiritual, Esoteric Philosophy, Cosmology, occult teachings, esoteric psychology and healing, astrological, mystical Christian and other philosophic and religious themes. Alice Bailey was born as Alice LaTrobe Bateman, in Manchester, England at 7:32 am GMT.[1] She moved to the United States in 1907, where she spent most of her life as a writer and teacher.

Her works, written between 1919 and 1949, describe a wide-ranging system of esoteric thought covering such topics as how spirituality relates to the solar system, meditation, healing, spiritual psychology, the destiny of nations, and prescriptions for society in general. She described the majority of her work as having been telepathically dictated to her by a "Master of the Wisdom", initially referred to only as "the Tibetan", or by the initials "D.K.", later identified as "Djwhal Khul."[2][3] Her followers refer to her writings as The Alice A. Bailey material, or sometimes, as the AAB material.

Her writings were influenced by the works of Madame Blavatsky. Though Bailey's writings differ from the orthodox Theosophy of Madame Blavatsky, they also have much in common with it. She wrote about religious themes, including Christianity, though her writings are fundamentally different from many aspects of Christianity and of other orthodox religions. Her vision of a unified society includes a global "spirit of religion" different from traditional religious forms and including the concept of the Age of Aquarius.[4][5]

Controversy has arisen around some of Bailey's statements on nationalism, American isolationism, Soviet totalitarianism, Fascism, Zionism, Nazism, race relations, Africans, Jews, and the religions of Judaism and Christianity. Yonassan Gershom and others have claimed that her writings contain "racist" material.[6][7][8][9]

According to Robert S. Ellwood, her philosophy and publications are still applied by the groups and organizations she founded, such as the Arcane School,and the Full Moon Meditation Groups that follow her teachings.[10][11]

[edit] Biography

[edit] Childhood

Alice Bailey was born to a wealthy aristocratic British family, and as a member of the Anglican Church, received a thorough Christian education. She described a lonely and "over-sheltered" childhood and was unhappy despite the luxury of her physical circumstances.[12] Of her early life she wrote that she was appalled at the influences of the Victorian era, especially the wide gulf between the comforts of the upper classes and the struggles of the laboring classes, that those problems were caused at least in part by the unfairness of the "theology of the past", and that in turn those issues led to what she called the "present world war", referring to the years between 1914–1945.[13]

In her autobiography she related that as a child she was unhappy and did not find life worth living, and because of this attempted suicide three times: the first at the age of five, the second at age 11, and the third at an unspecified time prior to age 15. She wrote that after her third attempt, she lost interest in the idea, but that she "always understood the impulse." [14]

At age 15, on June 30, 1895, Bailey was visited by a stranger, "...a tall man, dressed in European clothes and wearing a turban" who told her she needed to develop self-control to prepare for certain work planned for her to do.[15] She supposed this individual was Jesus, but later she identified him as Master Koot Hoomi.[16]

[edit] India, evangelical work, and first marriage

At age 22 Bailey did evangelical work in connection with the YMCA and the British Army.[17] This took her to India where, in 1907, she met her future husband, Walter Evans. Together they moved to America where Evans became an Episcopalian priest.[18] However, this marriage did not last. She stated that her husband mistreated her and in one of his fits of temper, threw her down the stairs.[19] Bailey pushed for and received a divorce. She left with their three children; after formal separation in 1915. Then followed a difficult period in which she worked as a factory hand to support herself and the children.[15][20][21][22]

Bailey's break was not only with her Christian husband, but with Christianity in general. In her autobiography she wrote that "a rabid, orthodox Christian worker [had] become a well-known occult teacher."[23]

[edit] With the Theosophical Society

In 1915 Bailey discovered the Theosophical Society and the work of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (Bailey, pp 134–136). Theosophical Society states that Bailey became involved in 1917.[24] Theosophist Joy Mills states that in 1918 she became a member of the Esoteric Section of the society.[25] Theosophist Bruce F. Campbell notes, "She quickly rose to a position of influence in the American Section of the Adyar society, moving to its headquarters at Krotona in Hollywood. She became editor of its magazine, The Messenger, and member of the committee responsible for Krotona." [26]

Bailey claimed to recognize Koot Hoomi, the master who had visited her in her childhood, from a portrait she saw in the Shrine Room of the Theosophical Society. (Bailey, pp 156).[27] Bailey wrote much about those she called the "Masters of the Wisdom", which she believed to be a brotherhood of enlightened sages working under the guidance of "the Christ." In part, she stated her writings were an effort to clarify the nature of these Masters, and their work.[28]

[edit] "The Tibetan", split from Theosophy, and second marriage

Bailey wrote that, in 1919, she was contacted by a Master known as The Tibetan (later associated with the initials D.K., and eventually the name Djwhal Khul). Bailey stated that after initial resistance, she was eventually persuaded to write down the communications from this source. She wrote for 30 years, from 1919 to 1949.[2] The result was 24 published books on ancient wisdom, philosophy, religion, contemporary events, science, psychology, nations, astrology, and healing. Also in 1919, 32nd degree Freemason Foster Bailey (1888–1977), who was to be her second husband, became National Secretary of the Theosophical Society. (Bailey, p. 157) [29] They married in 1921.[30]

The Theosophist published the first few chapters of her first work, Initiation, Human and Solar, but then stopped for reasons Bailey called "theosophical jealousy and reactionary attitude."[31] Bailey "objected to the 'neo-Theosophy' of Annie Besant" and worked with Foster Bailey to gain more power in the American Section.[31] According to Theosophist Josephine Maria Davies Ransom, she became part of a progressive "Back to Blavatsky movement, led mainly by Mr. and Mrs. Foster Bailey".[32] She outlined her vision for the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society and announced ideals of tolerance and brotherhood.[33][34] However, her efforts to influence the society failed, and she and her husband were dismissed from their positions.[35]

According to author Olav Hammer, Bailey's early writings of communications with the Tibetan were well received within the society, but society president Annie Besant questioned Bailey's claims of communications with "the Tibetan" and allowed the Baileys to be expelled from the organization.[16] According to Bailey, she had come to see the society as authoritarian and involved with "lower psychic phenomena.".[15] In her writings, however, she continued to acknowledge the importance of Madame Blavatsky's works, and saw her own task as the continuation and further development of Blavatsky's teachings. (Bailey, pp. 168–177)

[edit] The Arcane School and the Lucis Trust

According to the Lucis Trust website, the Baileys founded a quarterly magazine of esoteric philosophy entitled The Beacon in 1922.[36]

In 1923, with the help of Foster Bailey, Alice Bailey also founded the Arcane School (also part of Lucis Trust), which gave (and still gives) a series of correspondence courses based on her heterodox version of Theosophy, which accepted the basic Theosophical views on karma, reincarnation, masters, a divine plan, and humanity's achievement of their original divine status (Bailey, pp. 192–193).[29]

The Lucis Trust website and Alice Bailey's autobiography also state that, together with Foster Bailey, she created the "World Goodwill" organization to promote what she called "Love in Action".[37][38] The stated purposes of World Goodwill, according to its sponsoring organization, the Lucis Trust, are: "To help mobilise the energy of goodwill; To cooperate in the work of preparation for the reappearance of the Christ; To educate public opinion on the causes of the major world problems and to help create the thoughtform of solution."[39]

About 100 of Alice Bailey's public talks and private talks to her more advanced Arcane School students are available online.[40] Bailey continued to work up to the time of her death in 1949.[2][41] Foster Bailey took over as head of Lucis Trust[citation needed] until his death in 1977, while his second wife Mary Bailey ran the Arcane School[citation needed] and after his death became president of the Lucis Trust.[42] Mary Bailey authored a book titled A Learning Experience describing her 33 years of work with the Arcane School and accounts of the early years of Alice Bailey's work with "the Tibetan."[43]

Formerly the school was structured in a series of degrees similar to Freemasonry and its early structure can be compared with the ceremonials of the Rosicrucian Order Crotona Fellowship.[44]

[edit] Writing

[edit] Comparison with Theosophy


Theosophists are divided on their assessment of Alice Bailey's writings. For instance, the noted contemporary Theosophical writer Geoffrey Hodson wrote a highly favorable review of one her books, saying, "Once more Alice Bailey has placed occult students in her debt."[45] Olav Hammer writes, "Her first book, Initiation Human and Solar, was at first favorably received by her fellow theosophists. Soon, however, her claims to be recipient of ageless wisdom from the Masters met with opposition."[46] The conflict is understandable since her works contain some criticisms of Theosophy, and at the time of the break she voiced her criticism of what she saw as dogmatic structures within the society, while questioning the pledges of loyalty to Theosophical leaders that were required. "During the annual convention of 1920 in Chicago, there was a power struggle between forces loyal to Besant and the Esoteric Section and others who believed that the ES had become too powerful. Below the surface was a hidden controversy regarding Alice's work with the Tibetan."[18] For a more recent example of Bailey/Theosophy division, see Theosophy in Scandinavia.

Campbell writes that Bailey's books are a reworking of major Theosophical themes, with some distinctive emphases, and that they present a comprehensive system of esoteric science and occult philosophy, cognizant of contemporary social and political developments.[47] Steven J. Sutcliffe points out that both Bailey and Blavatsky's work evoke a picture of Tibet as the spiritual home of the Masters and that Bailey claimed a more-or-less direct lineage to Blavatsky. He describes Bailey as a 'post-Theosophical' theorist, reporting that Bailey received instruction from "former personal pupils of Blavatsky", and notes that her third book (A Treatise on Cosmic Fire) not only reproduces Blavatsky's apocryphal Stanzas of Dzyan, but is dedicated to Blavatsky, as well.[48]

Jon Klimo, in Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources, writes, "As with Blavatsky/Theosophical material, and more recent contemporary channeled material from other sources, we find in the Bailey work the same occult cosmological hierarchy: physical, etheric, astral, mental, causal, and higher inhabited levels of existence."[49] Olav Hammer, in the book Claiming Knowledge: Strategies of Epistemology from Theosophy to the New Age, highlights Bailey's Theosophical similarities as well as noting what he thinks are some differences between them: "To a large extent, Bailey's teachings are a restatement and amplification of theosophy of the Secret Doctrine. Bailey inherited from Blavatsky and Leadbeater a predilection for profuse details and complex classificatory schemes. ... Her books have also introduced shifts in emphasis as well as new doctrinal elements." [50]

In contrast to the above, some Theosophical critics have contended that there are major differences between Bailey's ideas and the Theosophy of Blavatsky, such as Bailey's embrace of some mystical Christian terms and concepts and her acceptance of C.W. Leadbeater.[51][52]

Nicholas Weeks, writing for the Theosophical magazine Fohat in 1997, felt Bailey's assertion that "... her teachings are grounded in and do not oppose in any fundamental way Theosophy as lived and taught by HPB and her Gurus" was false, claiming her books are in fact "rooted in the pseudo-theosophy pioneered by C. W. Leadbeater." He claimed Bailey accepted Leadbeater's "fantasy" of the return of Maitreya, and disparaged Bailey's Great Invocation, a prayer supposed to "induce Christ and his Masters to leave their hidden ashrams [and] enter into major cities" to lead the Aquarian Age. This contrasts with the Theosophy of Blavatsky, he says, which emphasizes reliance on "the Christos principle within each person".[52]

The Blavatskian theosophists.
Some critics and often followers of the so-called Blavatskian theosophy on Atma-Vidya refer to the following quotes. The theosophical Master K.H. was given by H. P. Blavatsky to say: "the Salvation Army by hypnotizing people and making them psychically drunk with excitement, is Black Magic".[53] And H. P. Blavatsky stated in contrast with Alice A. Bailey's promotion of a Great Invocation arrival of a Maitreya Saviour in the flesh that: "(a) "the coming of Christ," means the presence of CHRISTOS in a regenerated world, and not at all the actual coming in body of "Christ" Jesus; (b) this Christ is to be sought neither in the wilderness nor "in the inner chambers," nor in the sanctuary of any temple or church built by man; for Christ—the true esoteric SAVIOUR—is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. " [54] This can be compared with Alice A. Bailey.s "The Externalization of the Hierarchy", p. 590.
H. P. Blavatsky also said in a letter to the honourable Abbé Roca: "In carnalizing the central figure of the New Testament, in imposing the dogma of the Word made flesh, the Latin Church sets up a doctrine diametrically opposed to the tenets of Buddhist and Hindu Esotericism and the Greek Gnosis. Therefore, there will always be an abyss between the East and the West, as long as neither of these dogmas yields." And further on she said, that a "true Theosophists will never accept either a Christ made Flesh, according to the Roman dogma, or an anthropomorphic God, still less a “Shepherd” in the person of a Pope".[55] Alice A. Bailey wrote: "We have fought over the historical Christ, and thus fighting, have lost sight of His message of love to all beings. Fanatics quarrel over His words, and fail to remember that He was 'the Word made flesh.'"[56] Alice A. Bailey wrote: "They will prepare and work for conditions in the world in which Christ can move freely among men, in bodily Presence; He need not then remain in His present retreat in Central Asia. "[57][58]

Another principle of Theosophy, the Law of Attraction was discussed in esoteric writings by Blavatsky,[59] Annie Besant,[60] William Quan Judge,[61] and others;[62][63] and was also discussed in the writings of Alice Bailey, including a whole chapter in one of her books.[64][65][66] The term has been embraced, in a simplified form, by the contemporary New Age movement and was recently popularized in the film The Secret.

[edit] The Seven Rays of energy

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.[67] This energy is life itself.[68] From one essential energy, divinity, proceed seven rays that underlie and shape the evolution of human life and the entire phenomenal world.[69] On a cosmic level these seven rays of energy are the creative forces of planets and stars. On a microcosmic level they are the creative forces conditioning the physical, psychic, and spiritual constitution of man. (Jurriaance, p. 73–152)

In Esoteric Psychology I, the first book of A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Bailey writes that the "one Life sought expansion" resulting in seven aeons, or emanations, manifesting in the expression of life, becoming the "seven Rishis of all the ancient scriptures." [70]

She enumerates these seven as:[71]

  1. The Lord of Power or Will
  2. The Lord of Love-Wisdom
  3. The Lord of Active Intelligence
  4. The Lord of Harmony, Beauty and Art
  5. The Lord of Concrete Knowledge and Science
  6. The Lord of Devotion and Idealism
  7. The Lord of Ceremonial Order or Magic

Although described as "Lords" and "persons", Bailey states that these "great forces" are not to be understood in terms of human personality. She also cautions that any description of such things must be couched in terms of our particular planet, such that humanity can understand it, but that these "pure Being[s] ... have purposes and activities in which our Earth plays only a minor part."[70]

In Bailey's concept the rays and all things manifest in centers of energy and their relationships.[72] All rays and centers are focuses of some type of evolving life or consciousness. (Jurriaance, p. 35–52) This includes everything from atoms to centers or chakras in the human constitution, and upwards through the human aura to groups of humans as centers, and cities and nations as centers. (Jurriaance, p. 79- 90 ) Humanity as a whole is conceived as a center of energy as are the masters of wisdom of which she writes.[73] Likewise, planet Earth as a whole, with all its subsidiary centers of life, is viewed as a center of life within the large life or divinity of our solar system.

The concept of the seven rays can also be found in Theosophical works.[74] Campbell writes that Bailey, "...was the first to develop the idea of the seven rays, although it can be found in germ in earlier Theosophical writings."[51] The seven rays also appear in Hindu religious philosophy.[75][76]

[edit] The constitution of man

In line with previous Theosophical teachings,[77] Bailey taught that man consists of a soul of abstract mental material, working through a personality—a technical term used to describe the physical, emotional, and less-abstract mental bodies considered holistically.[78][79] She uses traditional terms for these lower three "vehicles" or "sheaths": physical body, astral body and mental body. There is also the etheric body which directly corresponds to the physical but is the vital energizing agent for the whole of a man in all his forms of expression. These auric aspects of the human being are defined as partial emanations or expressions of the soul, which is itself synonymous with the evolving human consciousness. The mind is not conceived to be simply an ephemeral brain effect, but as the motivating energy responsible for the inner constitution of individuals, and which also manifest as the aura.[80]

In Bailey's writings, evolution is defined as the process of bringing the "lower nature" his physical, emotional, and mental selves into integration and alignment with the will of the soul—the "at-one-ment" of the personality.[81] It is this transformation that leads to "right human relations" and spiritual revelation or awakening. Discrete steps on the spiritual path are called initiations, which is to say that the evolving consciousness is entering into new and wider fields of awareness, relationships, responsibilities, and power.[82][83] In terms of her ray concept, the note of the soul is imposed (or superimposed) on the note of the personality.[78][84]

[edit] The spiritual Hierarchy, Sirius, Venus, and Shamballa

Bailey wrote that behind all human evolution stands a brotherhood of enlightened souls who have guided and aided humanity throughout history.[85] For Bailey, the evolution of humanity was intimately bound up with its relationship to this Spiritual Hierarchy. She believed that the stimulating and uplifting influences of religions, philosophies, sciences, educational movements, and human culture in general are the result of this relationship,[86] and though in time humanity debases all these developments, they are all in their original impetus conceived as the result of the Spiritual Hierarchy working in concert with evolving human potentials.[87][88][89]

Bailey associated the spiritual hierarchy and its branches with the system of Sirius, the planet Venus, and the mythical land of Shambhala (which she spelled "Shamballa"), the residence of Sanat Kumara, "Lord of the World". Bailey wrote, "The energy of Sirius by-passes (to use a modern word) Shamballa and is focused in the Hierarchy. [...] The entire work of the Great White Lodge is controlled from Sirius...."[90] Monica Sjoo, in an essay about the New Age movement, explained her interpretation that "Bailey taught that the Hierarchy of Masters exists in Shambhala and that Venusians founded this fabled city some 18 million years ago on the sacred Gobi island, which is now in the Mongolian desert."[91] It may be noted here that, in Bailey's concept, "city" is figurative since she states that Shamballa is not physical in the common usage of that word but is rather located in "higher ethers." [92]

[edit] The Great Invocation

The Great Invocation is a mantra given in 1937 to Bailey by Djwhal Khul. The mantra begins with "From the point of Light within the Mind of God, let light stream forth into the minds of men." with the rest of the passage reinforcing this idea of men acting in accordance with the plan of God. It is well known by some followers of the New Age movement, where it is used as part of meditation, particularly in groups.[93]

The invocation has been used in the Findhorn Foundation community since the 1970s. In response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Great Invocation was used as a central element of a new daily program at Findhorn known as the "Network of Light meditations for peace".[94] Findhorn's use of the Great Invocation later spun off to various other groups they had influenced, including groups interested in new age UFO philosophies.[95][96]

Rosemary Keller described the Great Invocation as a call for "the Christ to return to Earth" and wrote that Bailey-related groups purchased radio and television time to broadcast the invocation as part of their mission, and that often the invocation was recited in what Keller called "light groups", to accomplish what Bailey's disciples considered to be attracting and focusing "spiritual energies to benefit the planet".[15] Researcher Hannah Newman described what she found to be an antisemitic element in the Great Invocation. According to Newman, "the Plan" named in the invocation refers to the plan authored by "the Hierarchy", that Newman states places "high priority on removing all Jewish presence and influence from human consciousness, a goal to be achieved by eliminating Judaism." [9]

[edit] Discipleship and service

Bailey elaborated the relation of humanity to the Hierarchy in her teaching on Discipleship in the New Age. A disciple is an accepted student, or chela, in the spiritual ashram of a Master. In this scheme, all awakening souls stand in some relationship—for a long time unconsciously, but eventually in full conscious awareness—to some particular Master.[97][98] The integrated personality, coming under the influence of the soul, is simultaneously coming under the influence of this Master.[99] This relationship is determined by karma, by evolutionary status, and (most importantly) by the aspirant's capacity for work to be done on behalf of humanity.[100] This service aspect is strongly emphasized throughout Bailey's writings.[101] In her concept, the greatly increased ("stepped-up") evolution of consciousness that results from this Master–pupil relationship is made possible only in and through service to humanity.

Bailey's writing downplayed the traditional devotional and aspirational aspects of the spiritual life, in favor of serving "the Plan of the Hierarchy" by serving humanity.[102] According to her, this is primary, and everything hinges upon it.[103] For Bailey, discipleship means work—service—and the evolution of those sensitivities and powers that enhance that labor. Disciples will never gain such powers or awareness unless and until they will be used solely for unselfish service. (Bailey, p. 38)

[edit] Unity and divinity of nations and groups

Underlying Alice Bailey's writing is the central concepts of unity and divinity.[104][105][106][107]

Although she often identified groups of people by their race, nationality, or religion, she said the key matter was not race or religion per se, but the evolution of consciousness that transcends these labels.[108] In her writings about the races, she focused on the humanitarian concept of unity and stated that the source of human problems is the spirit of separation that causes individuals and groups to set themselves apart from the rest of humanity. (Bailey, p. 375)

Ross describes Bailey's teachings as emphasizing the "underlying unity of all forms of life", and the "essential oneness of all religions, of all departments of science, and of all the philosophies."[109] Campbell notes that the New Group of World Servers was established for "... promotion of international understanding, economic sharing, and religious unity."[51]

[edit] On fanaticism and intolerance

Alice Bailey wrote strongly against all forms of fanaticism and intolerance.[110] She saw this fanaticism in churches, in nationalism, and in competing esoteric schools. (Bailey pp. 15 & 453) [111] She associated this fanaticism with unintelligent devotion and holding on to old ways and ancient theologies. Bailey indicated that these problems were found mostly in the older generations, that their fanaticism would limit their personal growth and that they would mostly find a solution for that limitation through devotion, and the forward movement of spiritual evolution.[112]