I’m not really into Alice Bailey’s work, nor into that of ‘The Tibetan’, but this autobiography is great. Funny, full of self knowledge and simply fascinating from the point of view of esoteric history.
Alice Bailey was born and raised in England in 1880. She lived through both world wars and lived the transition from riches to poverty – from life with servants at every step, to doing your own laundry. She was a missionary, an abused wife, a divorcée when that was still unusual, and then a spiritual teacher in her own right – helped by the love of her life and second husband.
This is an Unfinished autobiography. The manuscript was still being worked on by the author and her editors when she passed in 1949. As such it does have a slightly rough style – repetitions here and there on points Bailey clearly felt strongly. When I put on my historians hat, I’m most annoyed at her inconsistent naming of people. Sometimes they’re left anonymous, sometimes they’re named. When a name is given, it’s very often not on the first mention of them.
She says she was taught by three personal students of Blavatsky’s, but she names only one. We’re left to guess about the other two and I suppose the only way to find out their names is to go through Theosophical Society’s records and the magazine of the Arcane School. Why does it matter? It’s not very likely that Bailey would find three personal students of Blavatsky’s in the USA. Blavatsky didn’t really have that many personal students. On the other hand, she did have a huge correspondence. Each of those people might feel themselves to be a ‘personal student’ of Blavatsky’s. However, I think it’s pretty clear it means less than the phrase suggests. And to base on that the claim, which Bailey makes in this book, that she’s closer to Blavatsky’s real teachings than her critics would allow, is rather stretching things.
The main reason I bought this book is that it gives an uncensored look at the Theosophical Society in the first half of the 20th century. Few books have been written about that period. One has to dip in very diverse waters to get a glimpse of what it was like.
Alice Bailey’s main work ended up being outside the Theosophical Society, yet her attitude to central occult aspects of that organization are precisely what one hears amongst members nowadays. I guess she was, in this respect at least, ahead of her time.
About pronouns and political correctness
Like her contemporaries, Alice Bailey writes using words like ‘all men’, ‘fellowmen’ etc. This does not refer just to men, but to women too: to all people. She’s of a generation in which there was no sense that the words we use confirm the patriarchal structure of society. There was no idea as yet that one should look for, and preferably use, gender neutral words when no gender is meant.
Unfortunately, this does render her ‘Invocation’ less useful for our time than it might otherwise be.
About her education – moral values (A.A.B. Quote)
Alice had gotten rid of all the valuable possessions of her governess. Then Alice read her diary, to find out that the governess knew very well who had done it. Still, she did not say a thing. Three days later Alice confessed only to find:
“To her, it was a greater sin to be dishonest enough to read private papers than it was to destroy material things. She gave me my start in the first great lesson of occultism; to distinguish between the Self and the not-Self and between intangible values and the tangible. ” (p. 31)
The Great Invocation
From the point of Light within the Mind of God
Let light stream forth into the minds of men.
Let Light descend on Earth.
From the point of Love within the Heart of God
Let love stream forth into the hearts of men.
May Christ return to Earth.
From the centre where the Will of God is known
Let purpose guide the little wills of men –
The purpose which the Masters know and serve.
From the centre which we call the race of men
Let the Plan of Love and Light work out
And may it seal the door where evil dwells.
Let Light and Love and Power restore the Plan on Earth.
“The above Invocation or Prayer does not belong to any person or group but to all humanity. The beauty and the strength of the Invocation lies in its simplicity, and in its expression of certain central truths which all men, innately and normally, accept – the truth of the existence of a basic Intelligence to Whom we vaguely give the name of God; the truth that behind all outer seeming, the motivating power of the universe is Love; the truth that a great Individuality came to earth, called by Christians, the Christ, and embodied that love so that we could understand; the truth that both love and intelligence are effects of what is called the Will of God; and finally the self-evident truth that only through humanity itself can the Divine Plan work out.”
Read quotes from the book: Alice A. Bailey Quotes from her Autobiography
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Lucis Publishing Company (December 1994)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0853301247
- ISBN-13: 978-0853301240
- Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.7 x 0.8 inches