Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cyril Scott as esotericist

In the 1920s and 30s three books excited enormous interest, especially among Theosophists and those interested in the Esoteric Tradition. They were first published pseudonymously, "by his pupil", but later editions gave the actual name of the author, Cyril Scott (1879-1970), English composer, writer and poet. The trilogy was named in sequence The Initiate. Some Impressions of a Great Soul (1920), The Initiate in the New World (1927) and The Initiate in the Dark Cycle (1932). These books still exert a far-reaching influence and are constantly published in new editions, aviable on-line. There is also a website dedicated to Cyril Scott.

These three books have for many years been among my favourite esoteric works and I use to recommend them to new students of esotericism as valuable alternatives to the standard textbooks by Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Bailey and Laurency. Names and places in the story have been changed to preserve the "wall of silence". An expression used by the famous Italian psychiatrist Roberto Assagioli, founder of the psychological school known as Psychosynthesis. Only a few of his closest associates knew of his connection with an adept of the Inner Government, the Planetary Guardians. The "wall of silence" is an unfortunate necessity on this planetary Alcatraz and Cyril Scott has done his best to preserve the integrity of his secret teacher.

Cyril Scott

Cyril Scott was a prolific writer. In addition the his Initiate trilogy he wrote several books on health, philosophy and psychology. Among his esoteric works Music: Its Secret Influence throughout the Ages, has become something of a classic. There are also a two autobiographical works: My Years of Indescretion (1924) and Bone of Contention (1969). Theosophical scholar Jean Overton Fuller spent several years of research trying to document the life and various ideological influences on Scott, using some of the novels written by his two wives. Although Jean Overton Fuller has doubts regarding some of Scott´s sources she states that he was definitely "on the side of the angels" (p. 53). Fuller´s monograph Cyril Scott and A Hidden School: Towards the Peeling of an Onion, was published by the independent scholarly journal Theosophical History - Theosophical History Occasional Papers, vol. VII (1998).

The Initiate trilogy is the life story of Charles Broadbent (Cyril Scott) and his involvement with a man, Justin Morewood Haig, to whom he is introduced in wordly London. Haig seems as first to be as other men but Broadbent soon comes to realize he is an initiate and accepts to be his pupil. The books combine the personal life history of Broadbent with the teachings given by Haig. The Initiate trilogy is a treasure trove of esoteric wisdom and sound psychological insights and advice, presented in a somewhat unusual context but easy and fascinating to read.

In his introduction to The Initiate Cyril Scott wrote: "THE story, if so it can be called, of Justin Moreward Haig is a true one, in so far that such a person does exist, although, as explained later, I have been compelled for many reasons to conceal his identity. And I emphasise the fact of his existence because there are a number of people who may doubt the possibility of attaining to that degree of perfection which he undubitably manifested, thus crediting me with writing romance instead of fact... Although I am aware that two such Masters (or Mahatmas, as they are often called) reside in the far distant fastnesses of Thibet, yet to suppose they all follow this example is to suppose a fallacy; for I know there are several such Masters living in England at the present moment, as well as in America and in almost all countries of the world. "

To normalise themselves himself in the eyes of the world Justin Morewood Haig and his fellow adepts sometimes affect some harmless vice or idiosyncracy, such as smoking. Haig also like to shock people with unexpected assertions, "casting conversational bombs into the arid chatter of conventional society". His views and advice, when it comes to psychological problems, can be very frank and down to earth. A woman who because of fear and vanity is afraid of emotions and has locked herself in an inner prison, can, according to Haig, only be cured by " a very deep and passionate love affair".

One of the most common mistakes made by clairvoyants and beginners in esotericism is misinterpreting inner visions and voices. With great conviction students excitely relate their contacts with masters, angels, space people or other exalted beings without realizing they have perceived thought-creations, astral automata, believing they represent real beings. Astral clairvoyance can be a real trap unless you have been trained to recognize how this part of the multiverse appears and functions. Referring to this phenomenon Morewood Haig mention an amusing episode: "Level - headedness and good sound common sense are what I try to instill into my pupils before I encourage them to peep into the hidden realms. A thorough grounding in philosophy is the first thing to be acquired- otherwise one’s up against hysteria and imagination of a wrong type, and all the other evils we know so well. I know of women who come down to breakfast every morning with the story of some wonderful vision they’ve had in the night, in which some supposed ‘Master’ has appeared and given them ‘teaching’, it turns out to be sheer nonsense or some moral platitude. Well, well- it is fortunate we gurus have a sense of humour.” (The Initiate in the New World, p. 48, 1991 ed.)

In my view, one of the great riddles of the Theosophical movement is why so many theosophists promote and endorse the teachings of Krishnamurti. I can well understand the frustration of Geoffrey Hodson when he was confronted with the peculiar form of advaita mysticism of Krishnamurti. An intellectual quicksand that gets you nowhere and with no relation to esoteric science. Blavatsky with her forthright manner and vulcanic temperament would probably have given him a harsh reprimand if they had lived during the same age. And Henry  T. Laurency, with his Blavatskyan temperament, is very critical and clear in his analysis of Krishnamurti. The Krishnamurti problem is given a forthright and lucid presentation in The Initiate in the Dark Cycle: "...Krishnamurti not only destroys the path - or paths - but the goal itself... he cut himself adrift from the White Lodge, and repudiated all of us." (pp. 66, 136, 1991 ed.)

The cultural influence of Theosophy worldwide has been impressive and generally beneficient when it comes to an understanding of the multiverse. But today the movement is more of historical interest, a society very much consisting of devotional mystics lost in the advaita world of Krishnamurti. Theosophists and the Theosophical movement receive some critical comments in The Initiate in the New World: "...latterly there has arisen a movement which, on the assumption that Madame Blavatsky said the last word on occult wisdom, condemns all never teaching as a sign of disloyalty to her memory.” “Why, I thought,” was my comment, “that even while she was still alive the Masters pointed out that as yet they had only ‘lifted a corner of the veil,’ and admitted that with all her qualities she wasn’t entirely reliable in some respects.”... Altogether I am sorry to see an attitude of dogmatism among Theosophical members - some of them go so far as to think that they as Theosophists have the exclusive right to attention from the Masters. They’d doubtless get a shock if you told them that there is many an atheist and even a harlot more receptive to the teachings of the Masters than they are." (pp. 125, 129, 1991 ed.)

In the introduction to the last book in his trilogy Cyril Scott writes a summing-up of his thoughts and experiences concerning the adepts and their philosophy: " The reason why I have been selected to write of such weighty matters as will be dealt with in the following pages, is that my life is so constituted that I am in the enviable position of being able to devote the greater part of it to the requirements of the Adepts. Indeed, I find Their activities--such of them as I am permitted to follow--the most absorbing and romantic interest of my present incarnation, and I can imagine no employment so inspiring and stimulation as that of being Their metaphorical “errand boy.”