That we may be as thorough as possible in our review of the Heindel-Steiner issue, we shall make reference to some additional material. It is not our aim to break down and divide, but to reconcile and unite. To our thinking, the more open and candid we are, the better we can achieve this aim.
The results of our inquiry have led us to conclude that Max
Heindel, according to his own dedicatory words to the first edition of the Cosmo, obtained a substantial amount of
esoteric information from Rudolf Steiner which he incorporated in the Cosmo and, perhaps to a lesser degree,
other subsequently published Fellowship books. This material was most likely
ratified by the Elder Brother who became Heindel’s Teacher, for the very reason
that Steiner’s Teacher was Christian Rosenkreutz. It would not be entirely
correct to say, however, that the “apparition” who came to Heindel’s room in
Additionally, Heindel writes of hoping that the teacher who his friend Dr. Von Brandis urged him to visit would be able to advance him on the path of attainment. But his hopes were dashed, for Heindel “probed his teaching to the bottom and forced him to admit certain inconsistencies in it which he could not explain” (ibid., p 100). However, this statement is contradicted by the Cosmo itself, which is a recapitulation of these very teachings. If inconsistencies exist, they are in the Cosmo as well. To the knowledge of the writer, and all of the hundreds of “authorities” who met and worked with Steiner in person, none “forced Steiner to admit certain inconsistencies” in his teachings “which he could not explain,” for, by his own words, he taught only what he could obtain first-hand, and so confirm, and only what he could explain. That was the criterion for imparting his material. We leave the matter of inconsistencies without further comment because of its manifest incorrectness, which suggests that a misunderstanding was involved.
The similarity between the Cosmo
and Steiner teachings was quickly recognized by persons familiar with the work
of both Initiates, and this observation gave rise to a rumor that plagiarism
was involved. In fact, Steiner himself makes such an allegation in a lecture in
The same observation holds true, frankly speaking, for the Rosicrucian Fellowship. And Max Heindel was the first one to say this: Rosicrucianism must not be identified with the Rosicrucian Fellowship. Societies are the work of humans, exclusively. If they become too rigid, too bureaucratic, ingrown, censorious, and dogmatic, the impulse that gave rise to them withdraws and finds another mundane channel for expression. So too, said Mr. Heindel, the day will come when the Fellowship “will bind itself by laws and usurpation of power,” causing it to crystallize beyond usefulness to the Brothers (ibid., 152).
As disturbing as this prospect may be, the healthier and wiser view is to recognize that the Western Wisdom Teachings and the spiritual Impulse that generates them is not subject to this blockage and ossification. Living esoteric streams will always be available to the earnest seeker.
Lets us consider the allegations, for they come from both sides, and air them, make them public, putting them into the fullest possible context, and then move on in our effort to restore harmony and build consensus. We seek truth. As much as possible we rise above the personal issues and affirm the principles. We do so with the understanding that all humans, even those highly advance souls like Max Heindel and Rudolf Steiner, are neither intellectually infallible nor morally perfect. Both Initiates would be deeply disturbed by being idolized and idealized and by having their teachings used as an occasion for turf battles and partisan animosities.
We here quote from Steiner’s
“I am going to speak of an occurrence that happened some time ago....A certain Herr Grashof [Max Heindel was Grashof’s pen name] became a member of our Society. For a time he attended lectures in every town where they were given; he was always there. Naturally, you may ask, ‘Why was he admitted to membership?’ In certain circumstances it is impossible to refuse admittance to people, especially if they are introduced by trusted persons [referring to Dr. Alma Von Brandis]. It would be a question of foreseeing the future! Suppose a man like Grashof were to come and I were to say: We cannot admit him. Well, why not? Oh, because later on he will be a traitor to the Society. One cannot adopt this attitude about something that has not happened yet but will only happen in the future. Such people quite obviously must be admitted to the Society.
“This man Grashof attended
every lecture that he possibly could. He borrowed notes made by the members and
copied them all. And what people were unwilling to give him he extracted
through the intermediary of the person who had introduced him [Dr. Von Brandis,
the person to whom Heindel co-dedicated the Cosmo’s
first edition]. Then, after a time, he returned to
“The book was published in
“In the literary world proper such scandalous procedure is unthinkable. It is a scandal which ought everywhere to have been recognized as such—and it would have been if there had been any soundness of judgment. I should really like to count the names of the people who know the real facts. Few take any interest in such matters, however, and so they recur repeatedly.”
Prior to Vollrath’s translation and publication of the Cosmo, Steiner’s regular publisher had been approached for the same purpose. Steiner refers to this in a letter to his wife January 28, 1911: “Altmann [his publisher] writes that he has been offered the translation of Max Heindel’s book. I will have to explain the situation to him. It really is true that some of the things which happen cause feelings which one could do without.”
So much for Steiner’s oblique way of expressing his displeasure!
What is “the situation” that needs to be explained to Altmann? The answer can
be found in another letter written about a month later to Eduard Selander, the
leader of a theosophical center in Helsingfors (
“In this respect I mention only that, recently, a large part of my theosophical work has
been industriously printed in
Why was Steiner so disturbed? It wasn’t due to the republication of the information per se. That was inevitable, even desirable—if the reproduction kept the material intact, did not destroy contexts and emphases. This expectation, we must say, was naive. Moreover, we assert that, in the instance under consideration, the preponderance of the Rosicrucian Teachings did survive transmission and translation. They did so because their purveyor, Max Heindel, had an incisive intellect, a keen focus, and an unswerving commitment to be true to the spirit of truth—albeit as he saw it.
And this brings up another point relevant to our discussion. There can be no such thing as a purely objective presentation of supersensible truth on the plane of the senses. That is why, ultimately, each truth seeker must consult his “inner tribunal” where truth alone can be incontestably established. So Steiner’s purism or idealism sets a standard for the dissemination of spiritual wisdom which can actually frustrate that very objective.
Steiner felt a responsibility to the spiritual world from whence he drew his material. To properly fulfill his mission his words had to be faithful to his supersensible visions. He preferred that no notes of his lectures be taken because they were always formed to meet the circumstance of his hearers—who they were, where they were, and for the specific time of their hearing. His wishes were not respected, however, because, understandably, students knew that the world needed to hear what he was saying, even if nuances of inflection, subtle effects related to timing, and even grosser errors were committed in recording the lectures. “It would have pleased me best,” he writes in The Course of My Life, “if spoken words had remained spoken words. But the members wished the courses privately printed, so this came about” (p 337).
Seeing the inevitable, Steiner appointed several competent persons as authorized stenographers to transcribe his lectures, thus minimizing errors. From our vantage, we suggest that much of what Steiner might perceive as distortion or flawed rendering would be lost on most other persons, and would not violate the understanding of what he wanted to convey.
At the same time, when others copied his work, they were not necessarily aware of Steiner’s main objective in making his material available. He wrote and spoke in such a way that the content of his delivery was “designed to be taken up in inner experience....[A] rightly composed Anthroposophical book should be an awakener of the life of the spirit in the reader, not a certain quantity of information imparted. The reading of it should not be mere reading; it should be an experiencing with inner shocks, tensions and solutions” (Course, p 330). His aim was not to give information about the worlds of spirit in the same way that text books present facts relating to the physical world. Rather it was to plant seeds for spiritual growth in the reader and listener, to prompt inner movements of the soul, to encourage the development of individual supersensible faculties by transmitting leading thoughts and organizing them in a manner that demonstrated how non-sensed-based thinking was to proceed and eventually issue in visionary experience.
This objective explains why many people have difficulty with Steiner’s mode of delivery. They describe it as too difficult, too involved, too abstract, too repetitive, too dry, too didactic, too etc. But his heuristic style is scrupulously intentional—and those who exert and discipline themselves will benefit from the effort.
We introduce another document at this point which reflects the surprise and confusion that must arise when avid readers of Western Wisdom literature encounter the books of both Heindel and Steiner. The purpose of this study is to make sense of their shared objective and to come to conclusions that will do justice to our two benefactors’ intentions and best serve our own spiritual needs.
“Dear Sir, May I venture to approach you with a question, or
indeed with more than one question? I must mention first of all that I am here
on a short visit, and that my home is in
Further light may be shed on Steiner’s reaction to Heindel’s venture from the comments he addresses to Eduard Selander in the first part of the above-quoted letter:
“[I]t must not be overlooked that the time required to deliver theosophical truths in a lecture is the least part of the time required to transform the knowledge of the higher worlds into forms which are suitable for expression on the physical plane. One has a double burden of responsibility: first, towards the higher worlds; nothing must be said which will not stand up to their scrutiny. Second, towards the physical world: everything has to be presented in such a way as to achieve a congruence between the physical words and the facts of the higher worlds. That has to be taken into consideration when judging the time needed for theosophical work...[Owing to time constraints] it has been impossible to channel the truths which stand before me in spirit onto paper. And yet I know from the spiritual world that this piece of work [on a specific subject] should be made available as soon as possible.”—op. cit., p 286
When the clairvoyant gives birth to visions of the higher worlds in a body comprised of words drawn from the physical world, a travail, a labor, is involved. And the issue has something of the clairvoyant’s own soul in it, even as it carries a totally objective truth. But from Max Heindel’s point of view, once the truth is given, there is another responsibility—to make it known, to share it, to use it. Given its value, how can one not disseminate it as widely and as zealously as possible?
We would be remiss if we did not record a letter in our possession that Max Heindel wrote to a student. It reveals him also in an all-too-human moment:
“In respect to what Dr Steiner’s pupil said, I do not care a snap. Dr. Steiner has no connection with the Rosicrucians since he became General Secretary for the Theosophical Society. Before that time he received a little instruction from a lay Brother, such as I have since become, and he was never in real touch with the Elder Brothers, and will never attain in this life because his inordinate desire for position and power led him to forsake western Teachings and shirk the pioneer work I am now doing, to oust Mrs. Besant (who is head in name only of the outer section and has no control over his so-called ‘Inner school’).
“When I dedicated the first edition of the Cosmo I was ignorant of his true position and his jealousy [of Heindel!] has made him forget even the courtesy of a common gentleman for he has never thanked me for the book with autograph I sent him.”—Letter to Mrs. Laura Bauer, the translator of the Cosmo into German, October 14, 1911
For Heindel’s labor of love, he got not a word of thanks. One might ask, however, why he should have expected a word of thanks? Surely pique at not receiving a note of appreciation for his monumental undertaking wouldn’t, in itself, have occasioned such a venting of spleen. The material contained in this study shows that Heindel’s allegations are without substance. But pejorative statements like these have been credulously absorbed and have negatively influenced certain members of the Rosicrucian Fellowship who have not sought to determine their validity and have thus perpetuated errors and expressed unwarranted ill-will towards him who was the source for much that is contained in their beloved Cosmo.
(1) Steiner became General Secretary of the German Section in 1904. His contact with Christian Rosenkreutz is documented to be at least as late as 1915.
(2) One who obtains all his esoteric knowledge first-hand does not need “a little instruction from a lay brother,” such as Max Heindel later became.
(3) If Steiner “was never in real touch with the Elder Brothers,” it would only be due to his ability to relate directly with the Head of the Brothers’ Order. However, in her account of the “Birth of the Rosicrucian Fellowship,” Heindel’s wife contradicts what is said in Heindel’s letter. She states that Steiner “had been under their [the Elder Brothers’] instruction for several years” (p 4).
(4) The allegation that Steiner was driven by an “inordinate desire for position and power” is unfounded. Rather does his life’s work attest to the contrary. We recur to a passage quoted earlier: “Only those who renounce completely all personal influence are really worthy of working in the realm of occultism. The highest ideal of occultists who want to accomplish anything worthwhile is the absolute avoidance of achievement via their own personalities and as far as possible, the elimination of personal sympathies and antipathies from everything attempted.”—The Effects of Esoteric Development p. 145. Does this sound like one driven by a lust for power and position? Or the following? “If we bring personal interest and aspirations into areas of clairvoyant observation where only human and universal interests should claim our attention, it acts like poison” (ibid., pp. 181-2). In his Cosmic Memory (1904) Steiner writes: “The more deeply one works his way into true mystery science, the more modest he becomes....Pride and arrogance finally become names for human qualities which no longer make sense at a certain level of cognition....he who promulgates such [supersensible] knowledge needs modesty and true self-criticism, an unshakable striving for self-knowledge and the utmost caution” (p 144). And a final quote: “[P]ersonal interests must be transformed into universal interests if we want to see the true reality of the spiritual world” (ibid., p. 155). Steiner ever abjured these base worldly values because the spiritual world retreats and becomes mute before one so engaged. As for hero worship: “A large part of the members were fanatical followers of individual heads of the Theosophical Society,” which “repelled” Steiner. He wanted an audience “which attended my lectures only because of their content” (The Course of My Life, p 313). He ever spurned the sensation mongers and guru seekers.
(5) Steiner did not oust Besant. Again, this statement is a reversal of the facts: Besant committed the leadership of the German Section to her “good colleague” and told him that it would be better “if his pupils were to form a separate organization under his care.” Furthermore, she states, “He teaches the Christian Rosicrucian way...[which] is different from ours.”—History and Contents, p 261. Max Heindel was not in possession of all the facts relating to the division in the Theosophical Society. These facts emerged only gradually, and even then they became apparent only to those who could correctly discern the distinction Steiner had made at the beginning of the 20th century between Christian and pre-Christian Theosophy. It is a distinction that remains to this day but narrowly understood. The Rosicrucian Teachings are Christian Theosophy.
(6) That he shirked the “pioneer work” Max Heindel was doing is also a reversal of the facts. If anyone in the modern era has been a spiritual pioneer, it has been Rudolf Steiner, as amply demonstrated by his original work in many domains of human endeavor: Anthroposophic medicine (which treats the four-fold human); philosophy (Post-Kantian thinking as a spiritual activity); religion (Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal that grew out of a request by a group of German pastors); education (Waldorf Schools—originating out of the request by the director of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory for a school to which his employees could send their children); theater (initiatory drama—the four Rosicrucian mystery plays and dramatization of Edouard Schuré’s, The Children of Lucifer and the Eleusian Mysteries); dance (Eurythmy—which is used as an educational tool and a therapeutic modality, as well as an artistic activity and an esoteric language); art (including new ways of using materials and rendering forms in painting, sculpture—the 27-foot wooden Representation of Man—and stained glass); architecture (the Goetheanum and other innovative buildings); agriculture (Biodynamic gardening—originating in a course of lectures requested by a group of farmers concerned about the destructive trend of ‘scientific’ farming); economics; the Camphill movement (the creation of homes, schools and village communities for handicapped children and adults, now flourishing). By their fruits you shall know them. There is nothing in modern experience that can compare with the wide diversity of achievements resulting from Steiner’s application of supersensible truths to the spectrum of human endeavor. Here is the apotheosis of epigenesis, in light of which Heindel’s remarks must appear merely petulant and unworthy of his noble nature.
(7) Sad to say, the attribution of “jealousy” to Steiner may be closer to an instance of projection. This spiritual dynamo had no time to indulge such a trait. Nor, for that matter, did Heindel.
Clearly, there were moments of all-too human—and not exactly laudable—expression of personal feelings by both Steiner and Heindel. While these rare manifestations are curious and potentially polarizing, we should resist the impulse to form alliances and partisan groups based on our reading of these expressions. We do not like to see our heroes show their foibles and frailties. We would prefer to purge the historical ledger of such blemishes, or at least to justify them out of existence. But, in all honesty, we cannot. Humans are human and have lapses. Let us be rid of the sad need to have to defend a person’s occasional failure or flaw. A Christian is not wholly Christ-like but striving to be like Christ.
If but a few people know that Max Heindel dedicated the first edition of the Cosmo to Rudolf Steiner (see below), fewer still have read Heindel’s explanation for the withdrawal of his dedication from subsequent editions. In the book’s second edition an explanation is given. We quote both texts in their entirety.
From the first edition of The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception we reprint the Title Page and Dedication page:
Heindel retracted the first edition’s dedication
statement in the second edition of the Cosmo, printed in 1910. A facsimile of the retraction page is provided below, followed by a larger
In RE: Dedication
From the beginning of November, 1907, to the end of March, 1908,
the writer devoted his time to the investigation of the teachings of Dr.
Steiner, who was absent from
Dr. S. then urged that if any of the teachings promulgated by him were used he ought to be mentioned as authority and source of information. In consequence the writer agreed to dedicate the work to Dr. Steiner.
During January, February and March, 1908, the Elder Brother, whom
the writer now knows and reveres as Teacher, came at times, clothed in his
vital body and enlightened the writer on various points. In April and May,
after unwittingly passing a test, the writer was invited to journey to the
estate on which is found the
There he met the Elder Brother in his dense body; there he was given the far-reaching, synthetic philosophy embodied in the present work—which in the opinion of many old students in England, on the Continent, and in America, embodies everything that has been taught in public or esoterically in the past, besides much more that has never before been printed.
Therefore the unfinished manuscript for the book mentioned to Dr. Steiner was destroyed, but as the later and more complete teaching given by the Elder Brother corroborated the teachings of Dr. S. along main lines, it was thought better to dedicate the book to Dr. S. than seem a plagiarist. Of that there would have been small danger, however, for the plagiarist invariably gives less than the authority from whom he steals, and it will be found that in any case where previous works are compared with the present, this book will in all cases give more information.
The dedication has therefore been a mistake; it has led many people who merely glance at the book to infer that it embodies the teachings of Dr. S. and that he is responsible for the statements made herein. This inference is obviously unfair to Dr. S. and a careful perusal of pages 8 and 9 will show that it was never intended to convey such an idea. The writer does not see how to convey the true idea in a dedicatory sentence, hence has decided to withdraw the same with an apology to Dr. S. for any annoyance he may be caused by the hasty conclusions concerning his responsibility for the Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception. [emphasis added]
The above explanation for Heindel’s retraction conveys a spirit of generosity. He affirms that Steiner’s teachings are “corroborated,” that is, are confirmed, “along main lines” with those given by the Elder Brother. In fact, this passage implies that the dedication would have been retained if Heindel could be assured the reader would not hold Steiner responsible for the book’s verbatim (p. 9) contents. This is a curious word to use (the original word was “authoritative”) for it suggests a fully articulated predecessor.
If some Rosicrucian Fellowship students have previously harbored reservations about the appropriateness or relevance of Steiner’s writings, surely now those doubts may be dismissed, for Heindel, not to mention the Elder Brother, implicitly sanctions their value. The reason for his dedication remains in effect—much valuable information had been received and continues to resonate, “along main lines,” with the Brother’s transmission. But in deference to Steiner, to prevent Cosmo readers from assuming that the book is an authoritative statement of Steiner’s teachings, Heindel withdrew the dedication.
This honorable gesture leaves Steiner’s integrity and the importance of his teachings intact and suggests that Cosmo readers will find compatible material in Steiner’s work. Such an exposure would certainly expand and vitalize the Fellowship’s Western Wisdom resources and free them from the misbegotten need of having to defend Heindel at the expense of denigrating a spiritual compatriate whom Heindel calls his “friend.”
In short, there is no rational basis for a refusal to accept the enrichment of Fellowship Teachings through an exposure to Steiner’s science of spirit.
With the bulk of Steiner’s books and lectures currently available, it is clear that the information he publicly imparted through 1907 was immense and greatly exceeds in scope and detail what could be contained even in a volume of such masterful economy and compression as the Cosmo. Most people at that time may not have been aware of this vast amount of knowledge because it took such diverse forms and was delivered in dozens of venues, many quite private (esoteric groups), and could not easily be collected and organized.
Then and to this day the synthesis of Rosicrucian Christian teachings as embodied in the Cosmo by Max Heindel is a remarkable achievement and satisfies a great need for such a compendium of esoteric knowledge. But, we repeat, it presents information that was extant at the time of its composition, and contains little of an occult nature which was not already part of Steiner’s public dispensation.
This being the case, what was it that the Elder Brother gave Max
Heindel if its equivalent was already enunciated by Steiner and a matter of
public record? If Heindel destroyed his manuscript containing much of Steiner’s
work that was delivered to the
We again wonder at this juncture why the Cosmo was not dedicated to the Elder Brother from whom these teachings purportedly issued? As, for instance: “To the Elder Brother, in grateful appreciation for much valuable information received.” Surely Heindel was not under pressure to placate Steiner, to confer on him an honorable mention for having made a good effort. And again we wonder at the profusion of disclaimers for the authority and reliability of the Cosmo contents (cited on pp 37-38 of this study), since the Elder Brother is the source. If the source were more derivative, we could understand the appeal to be cautious and to test the information. Yes, Heindel is fallible. But what comes from the Elder Brother is authoritative, and we can be confident it is true, can we not? Yet Heindel writes in “Word to the Wise” that he “feels compelled to guard also against the possibility of this work being taken as an authoritative statement of the Rosicrucian Teachings” Neglect of this precaution might give undue weight to this work in the minds of some students.” (p 9). Was he not chosen as the authorized representative of these authoritative teachings?
We also wonder about the discrepancy between the statement above, repeated in Augusta Heindel’s Memoirs and in Teachings of an Initiate (p 102), concerning meeting the Elder Brother “in the flesh,” and the answer to Question 76 in The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. 2, pp 243-251, which implies that Heindel had never seen the Elder Brother(s) in a physical body and therefore had to speculate on their physical appearance; specifically, their age. On the basis of “conversation with some of the lay brothers who had been connected with the temple for twenty, thirty and forty years in this life,” Heindel surmised that the Elder Brothers “seem now to be about 40 years of age” (p 49). How is it that he must conjecture on the appearance of the Brother in this writing when he had seen him face to face several years earlier?
Our last comment on Heindel’s retraction statement (that “the plagiarist invariably gives less than the authority from whom he steals”) is that, technically, plagiarism has nothing to do with the amount of material that is taken from an uncredited source and presented as one’s own; it defines the action itself, irrespective of how much material one so uses. We further wonder why Heindel should have introduced the term at all. The Cosmo’s first edition acknowledges Steiner as the source of “much valuable information received,” and plagiarism is defined as “the use without due credit of the ideas, expressions, or productions of another.” Heindel, to our thinking, gives due credit. Nor is the term applicable if the Brother is the source.
In any event, using the word in this situation can only be inflammatory, provocative, and nonproductive. No one can stake an exclusive claim on truth, nor patent it or copyright it. It is not the possession of a particular group. It defies sectarian affiliations. It is no respecter of persons. Let not our search for truth be restricted by those who aspire to communicate it. We thank them for their offering, but let us not deify them. Let us put away childish ways and assume our share of the fortunate responsibility for determining truth’s identity.
Those of us who have immersed ourselves in Max Heindel’s formulation of the Rosicrucian Teachings are confirmed in the honesty, integrity, and holy zeal of this advanced soul. In whatever manner the material contained in his book was acquired, we are convinced that he was guided by noble aims and impulses which are highlighted in the very story that relates the condition for his receiving them—that they be given to spiritually benefit the widest possible public. Service to humanity was Heindel’s guiding principle. He knew the Teaching’s value. He rightly presumed thousands like him would esteem them just as highly, that communicating them could save lives—materially and spiritually.
Even after the withdrawal of his dedication to Steiner, the Cosmo itself retains implicit reference to Steiner’s prior public presentation of Rosicrucian teachings in two references (on page 250). Firstly, Heindel describes the Cosmo (“This work”) as “one of the first few fragments of the Rosicrucian knowledge being publicly given out.” “One” of the first. Which are the other “first” fragments? Heindel’s dedication of the Cosmo’s first edition tells us—Steiner’s writings and lectures, from which Heindel received “much valuable information” (see page 97). Secondly, “All that has been printed as such [purporting to be authentic “Rosicrucian knowledge”], previous to the last few years, has been the work of either charlatans or traitors.” Note that Heindel does not say “prior to this work” but “previous to the last few years,” say, between 1902-1908, during which time Steiner made public “fragments” of Rosicrucian knowledge that Heindel admitted copying (see withdrawal statement, page 98).
So where does all of this leave us? With the Teachings. Both as they exist through the current canon of Rosicrucian Fellowship publications, and as they exist in Steiner’s published books and printed lectures, and as they continue to emerge and take form in the minds and hearts of developed Egos devoted to soul growth along the lines of Rosicrucian Christianity.
In the final analysis, we feel that mapping out the transmission lines by which the Fellowship obtained its original body of teachings is somewhat of a side issue, a diversion of our energies and primary needs. For whatever be the actual channel(s), whatever be the claims for authenticity or exclusivity, each of us will have to prove all things for ourselves, and then hold fast to that which we find good (and true). That is why Paul’s words begin and end the Cosmo’s first and second editions. To accept a teaching solely on the authority of its alleged provenance is a practice unsuited to the needs of our time and runs counter to our calling and obligation to be self-reliant in all matters, particularly as they pertain to confirming truth. It is emphatically an individual responsibility.
What we would hope, indeed what we expect, is that given this inner tribunal, the definitive court of appeal, it is our duty to refer all issues of truth to it. We shall charge it with the holy task of determining the merit of all propositions, irrespective of the merits (or demerits) of those who propound them, be they Max Heindel, Rudolf Steiner, the Pope, the anonymous science “expert,” or the medical “authority.” Nor would the first two named individuals advocate anything less or other.
We will reiterate words concluding Section 2 of this study to
drive home our point. The Rosicrucian Fellowship is not the Max Heindel
Fellowship, nor would he approve of the quarantine on spiritual truths that has
existed here. There was a veritable ferment of ideas existing at
In the event the casual reader overlooked it, we will also take the liberty here of asking the question posed on page 39 of Section 1: Is not Steiner at least as qualified to merit our attention as the hundreds of people, including this writer, whose opinions and thoughts have been featured in the Rays magazine, and The Rosicrucian Fellowship’s other, more enduring, publications—including Prentiss Tucker, Elman Bacher, Theodore Heline, Annet C. Rich, Robert Lewis, Esme Swainson, Corinne Heline, the many authors of Aquarian Age Stories for Children, the anonymous author of Etheric Vision and What It Reveals, and the many authors of the New Age Vegetarian Cookbook? Based on the foregoing information adduced in this study, does not Steiner have at least as much to offer us as the aforementioned writers? Surely the occultist who stood in all solemnity of spirit before the Event of Golgotha and identified the Christian Rosicrucian path as the only path suited to Western egos warrants being quoted and referred to as a friend and promoter of our deepest spiritual interests.
It has been the purpose of this report to share certain information pertaining to Rosicrucian Teachings as promulgated by the Rosicrucian Fellowship with the intention of clearing our common air of error-based prejudices, moldering secrets, and withering and unwarranted partisanships. We are impelled by the need to more fully and more effectively realize our mission—which is to know Truth and do good by it and through it—for the benefit of all. We believe that the rehabilitation of Steiner’s opus and person is in line with this objective. Knowing is a dynamic process of increasingly-conscious becoming. As we continue to know, we continue to grow. And we may be certain that what we previously knew will be altered by new revelations, new understanding. We will be required to surrender old ways of regarding things. At times our comfort levels will be severely challenged. So be it. Comfort is not our goal, but comprehension, intelligent, loving comprehension. Or, as Max Heindel expresses it in the penultimate sentence of the Cosmo’s first and second editions, we strive for that level of Self-consciousness where our “faith may be swallowed up in knowledge dedicated to the service of Humanity.”
Since the foregoing Study was written, additional information bearing on the relationship between Max Heindel and Rudolf Steiner and their respective presentations of Rosicrucian Teachings has come forward. It is introduced here for the reader’s consideration.
A typewritten copy of the Cosmo exists. This text antedates the printed galley proofs and consequently, the First Edition proper. This typewritten version shows Heindel’s extensive handwritten corrections. The dedication page at this time is different from that of the First Edition. A facsimile is here reproduced. (The background shows a proposed design for the book’s cover—a serpent entwined around the cross.) Here Heindel dedicates the Cosmo “to my esteemed teacher and valued friend Dr. Rudolf Steiner and to my more than friend Dr. Alma von Brandis in grateful recognition of the inestimable influence for soul-growth they have exercised in my life.” The use of the word “teacher” is particularly significant in view of Heindel’s later use of the term to designate the Elder Brother who served as his “Teacher,” although, Heindel writes in Letters to Students (p 98), this Brother, “whom I, perhaps mistakenly, speak of as Teacher—has never taught me directly since the first short period when that which is embodied in the Cosmo was given.”
Dr. von Brandis, was an osteopath who had been a fellow member of
Steiner’s impact on Heindel surely is given by the latter’s use of
the word teacher as well as Heindel’s
appreciation for Steiner’s “inestimable influence for [his] soul growth.” We
would be remiss were we not to ask why the Elder Brother, rather than Steiner,
is not mentioned in this context—as being both Heindel’s “esteemed teacher” and
providing “inestimable influence for his soul growth,” since, according to the
most popular account (Birth of the Rosicrucian
Fellowship, p 4), “this man [Steiner] had little to give him [Heindel], and
that what he gave out was not new to him”? Indeed, the June 1914 Echoes from
The third section of The
Heindel-Steiner Connection considers Heindel’s statement of withdrawal of
the Cosmo’s dedication to Steiner, which appeared in the book’s second edition.
In that statement (p 98) Heindel uses the word “plagiarist,” because he had
already (1910) received comments regarding the similarity between the Cosmo’s contents and Steiner’s books and
lectures. Subsequently, the term (plagiarism) is also used by Steiner on
several occasions. An additional instance occurred in October 1913 in
“A man from
A few persons are exercised by Steiner’s early use of the term “masters” to refer to humans of advanced spiritual attainment. Earlier in this Study (p 29) it was remarked that: “Some persons may object to the use of the term Master. The independent Western mind associates the word with Eastern religions and an undue exercise of authority. At the beginning of the twentieth century such a construal was muted. After all, the Gospels refer to Jesus as “Master” (Rabboni) approximately forty times. Max Heindel, as well, refers to the work of “Master Jesus” during the so-called “Dark Ages” (Cosmo, p. 409)”.
In fact, in the typewritten version of the Cosmo, Heindel himself uses the term Masters of Wisdom, not Elder Brothers. The term “Elder Brothers,” with quotation marks, appears once in the typewritten version, and it appears in this form on p 327 in all book versions. Heindel uses the term Masters of Wisdom six times and “the great Masters” is used once. (See facsimile for one instance of this original usage.) In the First Edition this designation is changed to Elder Brothers, which in later editions occurs six more times when additional material on the Rosicrucians was added at the end of the Cosmo. The point is that originally Heindel also used the term Masters of Wisdom to identify the spiritual leaders of the Western World, suggesting that his source also used the term.
Some Steiner critics feel that he does not meet their criteria for a sufficiently Western orientation, that he intermingles Eastern influences. More than a passing familiarity with his work proves the contrary (see below, for examples). These critics would do well to consider the five pages in the Cosmo (pp 270-275) Heindel devotes to explaining how Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine and A.P. Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism, two “very valuable works,” though apparently differing, are essentially in agreement. These works are “valuable” for whom? Apparently for the author. Apparently also for the reader of the Cosmo, else Heindel would have made no mention of them, certainly not praised them. But they have an Eastern slant, do they not? After all, Sinnett’s book is on Buddhism, not Christianity. Yet Heindel finds value in it.
The taboo some would impose on Eastern occultism, to the degree of absolute proscription, is not Heindel’s position. In fact, much of Western occultism, particularly truths relating to cosmogenesis, has been imported from the Eastern wisdom intact, and is congruent with it. There is an invidious tendency of a few to caricature Heindel’s stressing of the Western perspective to the point of regarding all things Eastern as toxic. So doing, how can the “purists” accommodate this five-page passage which concludes with the words, “nor are we to leave the Earth at some future time to take up our abode on the planet Mercury, as the other work mentioned [Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism] states, with the intention of correcting an error in the first one [Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine].” Heindel could have simply ignored mention of these books. After all, they are concerned with “Eastern Wisdom.” But they are “very valuable works.” They can benefit the student of spiritual science and Heindel wants to bring their contents to the reader’s attention, albeit with errors corrected.
Later in the Cosmo Heindel again lauds Blavatsky’s contribution to our occult knowledge. Yes, she was “a faithful pupil of Eastern Masters,” but her “unexcelled work” [This is a superlative term—not to be excelled. High praise indeed!] has much to offer the student of Western Wisdom teachings, including physical facts that are hidden or occulted from material scientists—including facts relating to the earth’s “third movement,” and the “atomistic theory” (pp 512-513).
For the sake of fairness and honesty, let us be consistent in applying our standards of judgment. It is natural to have preferences, but let them not violate our objectivity nor compromise our search for truth.
Here follow additional instances showing the similarity between Heindel’s writings and what Steiner had already made public prior to 1908. These quotes supplement Section 2 of the original Study (see pp 43-91).
“[T]ruth may be compared
to the view from a mountaintop, which is the same for all who reach it,
regardless of whether they chose different paths to get there. When you are
standing at a certain spot on the side of a mountain and see a path, you do not
walk round the mountain to look for another path.”—Who Are the Rosicrucians?, Lecture,
“Truth is many sided and eternal; the quest for truth must also be all embracing and never ending. We may liken truth to a mountain, and the various interpretations of that truth to different paths leading up to the summit.”—p 149
“...some of its [the
Rosicrucian Brotherhood’s] secrets were betrayed and made public in the wrong
way in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries...the writers had
heard something but failed to understand what they heard...A major newspaper
[wrote]...‘Yes, the philosophers’ stone does indeed exist. Most people know
about it and most even had it in their hands’...it was seen as an elixir of
life...Anyone who knows the real facts of the matter must admit that these
descriptions are indeed true in a strange way. However, those who do not know
the secret are left none the wiser.”—Lecture,
Cosmo (First Edition)
“Such a ‘leak’ [of occult truths] as mentioned above occurred in the beginning of the 19th Century and caused considerable discussions in Germany, even in the official papers, concerning the Philosopher’s Stone. The Reichs-Anzeiger said, in one article: ‘Yes, there is a Philosopher’s Stone. It is an Elixir of Life. It is all, and much more than has ever been claimed for it. Moreover, most people have had it in their hands often, but know it not!’ How absolutely and unqualifiedly true that is, yet at the same time how thoroughly misleading.”—p 518
begins in earnest only when we learn to work into the etheric (life)
body.”—Lecture (“The World-Historical Significance of the Blood That Flowed
from the Cross”), March 25, 1907,
“His [man’s] esoteric training and the earlier Initiations are devoted to work on the vital body.”—p 381
“The Golden Legend goes
something like this....Seth took the wood from the tree [of Life, that grew out
of Adam’s grave]. Many things were made from it, including Moses’ magical
staff. The gate of Solomon’s temple was made of wood from the offspring of this
tree, and later...it formed the Cross on which the Redeemer hung.”—Lecture,
June 29, 1907,
“According to an ancient
legend Adam took with him three cuttings from the tree of life when he was
forced to leave
One thing, however, does remain the same in the physical and astral worlds and in devachan [World of Thought], namely logical thinking. This reliable guide protects us from all flighty and illusory thoughts. Without it we never learn to distinguish illusion from reality.”—“Stages of Rosicrucian Initiation,” Lecure, Düsseldorf, December 15, 1907
“The pupil will do well to remember that nothing that is not logical can exist in the universe and that logic is the surest guide in all the Worlds...”—p 440
“Before the Christ
principle, the Sun of Righteousness, could appear on Earth, the Jahve principle
had to send down on Earth this light of righteousness, toned down in the Law,
to prepare the way. And so what lay in the old Jehovah principle, in the old
Law—the spiritual light of the Moon—was for esoteric Christians the reflected
spiritual light of the higher Christ principle.”—“Goethe’s Rosicrucian Poem, ‘The Mysteries,’” Lecture,
“The Race religions of the lunar God, Jehovah, conveyed the will of God to mankind in an indirect manner through seers and prophets who were but imperfect instruments, as the lunar rays reflect the light of the Sun. The mission of these religions was to prepare mankind for the universal religion of the Sun Spirit, Christ, who manifested among us without an intermediary as the light which comes direct from the Sun....Christian religion gives no laws, but preaches love as the fulfillment of the law.”—pp 450-451
“Through the transparent
Earth he or she [the novice] saw the spiritual light of the Sun, the Christ
light. This fact, which marked a profound experience for the Mystery novice,
was recorded in the expression, ‘To see the Sun at midnight.’”—Goethe’s Rosicrucian Poem, “The Mysteries,”
“To their spiritual vision, the solid Earth became transparent and they [pupils ready for initiation] saw the Sun at midnight—‘The Star!’ It was not the physical Sun they saw with spiritual eyes, however, but the Spirit in the Sun—The Christ.”—p 391
“the Cross, which is a
symbol of the fourfold nature of the human being, and the red roses, which are
the symbol of the purified blood.”—Lecture, Goethe’s
Rosicrucian Poem “The Mysteries,”
“This then is the great ideal toward which we are striving: to cleanse ourselves from the taint of egoism and self-seeking. Therefore we look upon the emblem of the Rose Cross as an ideal. The seven red roses typify the cleansed blood.”—p 57
“You many live in intimate friendship with an initiate, and yet a gap severs you from his essential self, so long as you have not become an initiate yourself.”—Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, p 4, 1904
“Only the Rosicrucian knows the brother Rosicrucian. Not even the most intimate friends or relatives know of a man's connection with the order. Those only who are Initiates themselves know the writers of the past who were Rosicrucians, because ever through their works shine the unmistakable words, phrases and signs indicative of the deep meaning that remains hidden from the non-initiate.”—pp 250-251
If Steiner speaks and writes from the Rosicrucian perspective, giving only first-hand information gleaned from the spirit worlds, are not his offerings of interest and potential value to students of the Rosicrucian Fellowship? Much material was given in the original Study (see pages 26-36) identifying Steiner’s Rosicrucian focus, which we summarize and supplement below.
Firstly, let Heindel
himself tell us who belongs to the School of the Rosicrucians: “Generally
speaking, it may be said that all the
people of the Western World belong to the
And what does Annie Besant, head of the Theosophical Society when Heindel and Steiner were both members, have to say about Steiner’s persuasions?
“Dr. Steiner’s occult training is very different from ours. He does not know the Eastern way, so cannot, of course, teach it. He teaches the Christian and Rosicrucian way, and this is very helpful to some, but is different from ours.”—letter to Dr. Hübbe-Schleiden, June 7, 1907, History and Contents of the First Esoteric Section 1904-1914 (H&C), p. 261
A year before Besant wrote the above statement, Steiner wrote Besant a letter in which he unequivocally articulates what was the right path for him both to pursue and to teach:
“With good foresight into the peculiarities of the fifth-cultural epoch, the Masters of the Rosicrucian School have elaborated the ‘path’ that is the only one appropriate for a Western person in the current cycle of development....[in which] occultism must be publicly spelled out....In Middle Europe the direction of occult endeavor has been determined since the fourteenth century, and we, of strict necessity, are obliged to follow this direction....I am conscious of my devotion to the Masters in every word of this letter.”—From letter written by Steiner to Annie Besant, 1906, H & C, pp. 270-72
In his first address to the Western Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society in Munich, June 1, 1907, Steiner says the following: “At the head of our Western School there are two Masters: the Master Jesus and the Master Christian Rosenkreutz. And they lead us along two paths: the Christian and the Christian-Rosicrucian way....The former educates through feelings, the latter through understanding. The dying cultures of the East still need the Eastern teachings. The Western teachings are for future cultures.”—H & C, pp. 305-314
The primacy of the
Rosicrucian Brotherhood in the development of the Western world is spelled out
in the following statement: “The
Rosicrucian Brotherhood is actually the source, the origin, of all other
brotherhoods that have been absorbed into European culture”—Lecture, “The
Original Impulse behind the Theosophical Movement: The Brotherhood Idea,”
Steiner states elsewhere that “The Rosicrucian method of initiation is especially for modern people; it meets the needs of modern conditions....It will for long centuries to come be the right method of initiation into spiritual life....”—Supersensible Knowledge, 13 lectures, Berlin, 1906-1907, p. 149,
Just as clearly Steiner writes the following: “[I]t should be understood that the introduction of a correct esotericism in the West can only be of the Rosicrucian-Christian type, because this latter gave birth to western life and because by its loss mankind would deny the meaning and destiny of the Earth.”—Letter, 1907, Correspondence and Documents, p.18
One more Steiner quote: “For persons much occupied with science, the necessary path towards Initiation is the Rosicrucian, for the Rosicrucian method shows that the highest knowledge of mundane things is thoroughly compatible with the highest knowledge of spiritual truths.It is precisely through the Rosicrucian path that those who have been led away from Christian belief by what they take to be science can learn to understand Christianity truly for the first time.”—At the Gates of Spiritual Science (1906), pp. 130-1
Finally, Steiner’s wife,
Marie Sievers, in 1947 decided to publish some of the more important teachings
that were given in Steiner’s
Since some prejudices die hard, there may yet be some people who continue to doubt the centrality of the Rosicrucian perspective in Steiner’s teaching. After all, they may contend, he used the term Anthroposophy. In response to these persons we quote from a recent publication of the Anthroposophic Press, which publishes Steiner’s complete works and many other books by numerous authors along Rosicrucian/ Anthroposophic lines. The Press’s Editor, Christopher Bamford, has selected representative documents that explicitly refer to Rosicrucianism in Steiner’s writings and lectures and compiled them in a book entitled The Secret Stream, Christian Rosenkreutz and Rosicrucianism (Great Barrington, MA, 2000). In a lengthy introduction to the selected texts, Bamford writes: “Rosicrucianism is vital not only for an understanding of the history of Western spirituality, science, and culture but also—as this collection of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures makes very clear—for the promise of its future. Stated most simply, since true knowledge is suffering (we can truly know only what we have suffered), Rosicrucianism—which is the union of the Cross and the Rose—stands for the union of science (knowledge) and love. The Rosicrucian question, first formulated by Goethe in his poem ‘The Mysteries,’ and repeatedly posed by Rudolf Steiner, therefore becomes who added love to knowledge? Or, who added compassion to suffering?”
Bamford introduces each of the book’s chapters with a few comments, including:
“Steiner is clear that there are many paths to initiation, all of which lead to the truth; but, he says, there is one path above all that is appropriate for modern Western human beings and that is the Rosicrucian path of initiation.”—p 41
“Against a background of evolution viewed from a Rosicrucian perspective, Steiner describes the stages of Rosicrucian training. He introduces the Rosicrucian approach to spiritual practice as being for the sake of the world rather than for individual salvation.”—p 60
“Rosicrucianism, for Steiner, is not just a question of theory or of history or even of practice simply as such, it has above all and primarily to do with spiritual facts, realities—that is, with encountering and knowing spiritual beings, in this case, the being of Christian Rosenkreutz himself.”—p 127
“Rosicrucianism and alchemy are, in fact, central and even determinant for Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual path and teaching.”—p 137 (original in italics)
In this essay “Steiner magisterially delineates the crucial difference between ‘mysticism’ and “alchemy”—which is clearly his path and the Rosicrucian path.” That is, Steiner’s path is the Rosicrucian or alchemical path, a path of spiritual science and occult self-transformation. This essay, Bamford writes, “helps us understand the depths to which the Rosicrucian-alchemical impulse penetrates in Steiner’s life and philosophy.”—pp 155-156
“[T]his is the most important task: to make Rosicrucianism contemporary. We must become twenty-first century students of Christian Rosenkreutz.”—p 229
“Rosicrucianism is, above all, a path of practice. Throughout his life Rudolf Steiner gave many indications and meditation practices to his students that were explicitly Rosicrucian in nature.”—p 239
“Anyone threading their way through this volume alert to the subtext and its implications will have realized that, implicit in these lectures and writings, is the affirmation of the primacy of Rosicrucianism both for Rudolf Steiner personally and for anthroposophy, the spiritual science that he initiated. Rosicrucianism, in fact, is the golden, unifying thread that runs through Steiner’s life and work.”—p 248
“The Rosicrucian directive, however, guides Steiner not only esoterically but also through modern science and philosophy and determines the form and content of the work that he does in these fields...he repeatedly proposes his own earliest epistemological works—Truth and Knowledge and Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path—as paradigmatic of Rosicrucian study, thereby affirming the famous epistemology itself to be Rosicrucian.”—249
“All of this is to say
that anthroposophy, as Steiner conceived
it, marks the ‘return’ of Rosicrucianism as he understood it. Around 1650,
in the aftermath of the Thirty Years’ War, the ‘true’ Rosicrucian Brotherhood
supposedly left Europe for the East, some say for the Baltic states, some for
If anthroposophy is root and branch Rosicrucian, if Rudolf Steiner is characterized by the Editor-in-Chief of the Anthroposophic Press, which publishes hundreds of Steiner books, as a teacher and practitioner of the Rosicrucian perspective; who asserts that “For many centuries to come, Rosicrucianism will be the right method of initiation into spiritual life” (Berlin, March 14, 1907); who invites the world to join him in making “what is expressed in ‘the Cross wreathed in roses’ our ideal and watchword” (ibid); who states that “the Rosicrucian path is the safest, most profound way to understand Christianity,” and that “The deepest, truest Christianity is found in Rosicrucian schooling (Kassel June 28, 1907), and that the “Rosicrucian method...is the most appropriate and fitting for today’s human souls” (Macrocosm and Microcosm, lecture 8, March 28, 1910); who maintains that “It is the work of the Rosicrucians that makes possible the etheric vision of Christ” (Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz, Neuchatel, September 27, 1911); if such an individual through his works and words is Rosicrucian, how can a student of the Rosicrucian teachings not benefit from studying Steiner’s contribution? What is the rationale for the current Rosicrucian Fellowship policy of exercising a tacit prohibition on quoting him—or even mentioning his name?
In view of the
foregoing—Steiner’s avowed and amply documented Rosicrucian perspective—it is
ironic that he formally declined to serve as a messenger of the Rosicrucian
Order. The popular history states otherwise—that Max Heindel was chosen to
disseminate the Teachings contained in the Cosmo
only after the Brothers’ first choice (never named, but presumably Steiner)
failed whatever test was allegedly given him. If this account were true, the
test could not have been the same as given Heindel (to keep the information
secret), because Steiner had been giving out Rosicrucian Teachings for at least
seven years prior to Heindel’s visit to Germany, as the collation of Heindel
and Steiner texts in the Study’s second section makes clear. That is, many
occult truths that later appeared in the Cosmo
had already been made public by Steiner, who gives an account differing from
the above. At the end of the second of ten lectures on The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century, delivered in
Why did he decline the offer to be a formal messenger? Informally, he already was a messenger. It was his destiny, a task he assigned himself, to obtain his knowledge directly from the spirit worlds. In the seventh of the above-cited series of lectures Steiner spoke of this mission: “I regard it as my task to say nothing which I cannot guarantee to have been tested and proven.” In the introduction to An Outline of Occult History (1909) Steiner writes, “My knowledge of things of the spirit is a direct result of my own perceptions.” In his spiritual autobiography, The Course of My Life, Steiner affirms that “What I possess of spiritual knowledge is entirely the result of my own research.” Would the student of the Rosicrucian Fellowship benefit from access to this “spiritual knowledge”? We must answer yes if we credit Heindel’s statement that the instruction the Elder Brothers gave him “corroborated the teachings of Dr. S. along main lines.” And this is in reference to what Steiner had presented to the public up to 1908. He continued to disclose esoteric truths for sixteen more years (through 1924).
Rays Contents When Heindel Was Editor
The stated objective of the Study and this Addendum is to show the merit of returning to the more open-minded editorial and wisdom-exchange policy that existed while Max Heindel was living, and to propose additional sources for expanded Western Wisdom study. Though Rudolf Steiner’s contribution to esoteric knowledge is vast and specifically Rosicrucian, there is much else that Heindel thought students would find instructive. His interests were broad indeed. Consider what he deemed admissible contents for the Rays magazine while he was its Editor (until Jan 1919):
a) September 1915. A seven page article on colors copied from the magazine South African Women in Council, which contains quotes from various people, (Madame de Rambouillet and Ruskin) and discusses heraldry.
b) November 1915. An article on magic. “It is absolutely necessary” that men and women should become “practical magicians.” The anonymous author gives exercises for training the will, through the use of symbols, including chain, altar, oil, scourge, dagger, circle, lamp, pentacle, cup, wand, lamen, incense (yes!), bell, and crown.
c) March 1915. A three-issue study of astronomy by “Gamma Beta,” who was not a member of the Fellowship, but was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and prominent in solar photography.
d) April 1916. Reprint of a chapel talk that recounts the narrative of an Arabian legend about “The wise Pasha Suleiman,” his efforts to spread Islam, and his daily encounter with the Angel of Death and personal destiny.
e) June 1916.
“Experiments and Experiences in Psychometry,” a nine-issue series of articles
by Elizabeth Denton, which information came from negative clairvoyance. The series included an article by
Consider entering such an article in the present-day Rays! What a hue and a cry would issue from certain quarters! Yet Max Heindel set the precedent. He saw no compelling reason to dismiss the information simply because the sane and intelligent person from whom it issued possessed the increasingly rare gift of passive second sight.
f) July 1916. “Voodoos
and Witches.” Heindel writes at length on a newspaper clipping which reports
the murder of a centenarian in
Charles Leadbeater was a
controversial figure in the Theosophical Society. He possessed some degree of
negative clairvoyance and was a commanding presence and effective lecturer. It
was in this latter capacity that Heindel was first introduced to occult truths.
One day, in late December 1903, while walking the streets of
of Table of Contents for the issue of The Theosophist containing Heindel’s
letter to C.W.Leadbeater, entered under the title “How Max Heindel Came to Theosophy.
In introducing Heindel’s letter, the Editor, C. Jinarajadasa, writes, “I owe
a good deal to Max Heindel. When I met him in
Before you leave
Curiosity drew me to hear your first lecture; your statement that every man had in him clairvoyant faculties—which I reasoned would benefit me personally — prompted me to attend. Your 2nd lecture, in the hope of getting some information on how to develop this much desired and desirable power and when in your 2nd lecture you said that this faculty should not be used for selfish purpose—I sneered inwardly—what good would it do a man if he did not use it to his own interests.
The next day I applied for the “Astral Plane” at the library, that was the plane I wanted to find out about where one could go and, with advantage to himself, learn other people’s secrets. However I did not get it—the librarian had none to loan or for sale; they were all out.
But I got Mrs. Besant’s “Karma” and “Reincarnation” and when I had read them I understood why occult powers must be used reverently as a help to humanity and not for personal gain. I saw that I had a place in this great cosmic scheme and it seemed all so real to me that I needed no argument. I believed every word I read and it was in a frame of mind very different indeed from what it had been at the first two lectures that I presented myself at your lecture on Reincarnation.
I have since then been literally devouring Theosophy and I have put in practice in my life by discontinuing the use of intoxicants and tobacco, though I did not know until the other day that that was one of the Buddha’s precepts, but worse than that I was a sensualist and a liar and I never had any idea that I could help it or that my thoughts did any harm or that I could banish them, but when I found out that I could control my thoughts I set out with a steady purpose and rejoice to say that my waking hours are very nearly free from obscene thoughts; if I could but say the same of my sleeping hours I would be happy indeed but I have no doubt that by persistent effort I shall soon have it entirely obliterated, specially as I have started a few days ago to live on a vegetable diet after reading your argument in “Glimpses of Occultism.”
I hope my long letter has not tired you, for long as it is it does not cover a tenth of what I would like to say if I could but find words to express myself. It is wonderful I can scarcely realize it that I who thought myself a mere earthworm living today and as I believed dead for all eternity when I died, that I am to live for ever. Do you wonder that I feel grateful and feel the need of expressing my gratitude to you who opened my eyes to the high and noble destiny in front of me?
Once more I thank you and wish you god speed.
Rays Contents (Continued)
g) August 1916. “De Sun Do Move.” Heindel reprints what purports to be a phonetic equivalent of a pre-eminent southern Negro preacher’s (John Jasper) sermon. Heindel clearly esteems the man: “He was a God-made preacher, great in bondage [as a slave for fifty years] and immortal in freedom.” The sermon was intended as a refutation of the Copernican Theory that the sun is stationary relative to the planets. One gets the flavor of the text from the last printed line: “I’ve pruved my pint, dat de Sun DO MOVE, and defy any one to say I haint.”
h) September 1916. “Links of Destiny—An Occult Story.” This is more like an occult novelette. It runs for thirteen issues, ending on September 1917. It is written in the Victorian style, with a lot of conversation and impressionistic description. Heindel liked a good story.
i) September 1916. “Amulets, Birthstones and Planetary Colors.” Heindel describes how to assign stones to a native’s sun sign, and metals and colors to the planet ruling the ascendant. Further, colors and metals are “prescribed” to offset negative influences from challenging planetary aspects. Compounding metal alloys and using complementary colors to promote favorable planetary conditions are also considered.
j) October 1916. “The Crucible.” Of this sixteen-sided figure Heindel said: “If you use it in your meditation it will reveal itself to you, and you will never be able to tell anyone what you learn, for no human tongue can ever tell the deepest and most beautiful experiences of the soul, and it would be sacrilege to even try to tell.” The Rays published the best interpretation of this symbol.
k) November 1917. “The Sufi Mystics.” Heindel introduces this article by saying that “the reports of those who have studied them [the Sufis] all laud their transcendent spirituality.” They are not Rosicrucian, but they have wisdom, for all that, and Heindel believes the reader will “undoubtedly profit” from reading about these wise men. He adds: “There is a striking analogy between the Sufis in their relation to Mohammedanism and the medieval Alchemists in their relation to the then dominant church. Both Sufis and the Alchemists had the leaven of truth and both were forced to hide it under symbols and signs.”
l) November 1917. “Dr. Jekyll Up To Date.” Heindel reprints a submission to “Bedside Stories” in the magazine The Nurse, relating the effect of an overdose of a drug called veronal, which turned a “maudlin, blear-eyed shambling debauchee into an upright, self-respecting gentleman, while its effect lasted.” Heindel doesn’t moralize, he doesn’t instruct. However “If we are to believe the narrative,” the suggestion is that the man reverted to past life behavior. Analogously, Heindel implies that Robert Louis Stevenson’s “fictional” Dr. Jekyll was the incarnation of an Ego who was formerly like the evil Mr. Hyde.
m) November 1917. “The Conqueror of Pain.” Heindel reprints an article from Collier’s Weekly on the use of an anesthesia in WW1. It is inspiring. Reader’s Digest has published hundreds of such stories over the years. But Heindel is not bound by a rigid, patrician publishing policy. If an account has heart, it qualifies.
n) Letters. Heindel published many letters from people recounting their supernormal experiences—all resulting from involuntary clairvoyance. Presumably he presents them because, as he writes in response to a November 1917 letter, “they bear witness to the verities of the invisible world and the doings of the people who live there.” Today there are thousands of such reports.
o) June 1918. “Commentary on The Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam.” The writer describes his three-part article as “an exegetic study in comparative religions,” and calls attention to the spiritual value of “the great esoteric and philosophical epics of antiquity, including the Bagavad Gita, the I Ching, the Book of Dzyan, and the Upanishads.
p) August 1918. “Maria
Mantellata.” A long short story by Blanche Cromartie that ran for four issues
of the Rays. The action takes place
q) October 1918. “In the Land of the Living Dead.” Prentiss Tucker’s story of a wartime death and awakening in the spirit world. Appeared in eleven issues.
r) November 1918. “Some
Women of Ancient
s) December 1918. “The
t) January 1919. “The
Lion. A Scene from a Past Life.” Another reprint from The Occult Review in which the author remembers living in ancient
u) January 1919. “Fijian
Witchcraft.” Also from The Occult Review.
The writer’s brother tells him the story of a voodoo rite to avenge the bad
treatment of a Samoan girl. The article concludes: “It is a beautiful place, is
Max Heindel had omnivorous interests. He gives a full-spectrum approach to the occult. In Teachings of an Initiate he maintains that the Rosicrucian Fellowship advocates the study of astrology and palmistry by all its members (p 128). Moreover, Heindel regards phrenology, the study of skull shapes and surfaces, and palmistry as a “spiritual sciences” (1Q&A, p 308). While this assertion may have its detractors, at least Heindel is open to seeing the spiritual behind all material manifestation.
In the scheme of Heindel’s universalist approach to knowledge, what is the relative merit of the information Rudolf Steiner has to offer? Surely an individual who is one of the Western world’s few advanced positive clairvoyants, a Christian, and a self-professed exponent of the Rosicrucian path deserves at least the exposure given to the hundreds of contributors to the Rays magazine and the authors of Fellowship books not written by Heindel.
In the July 1914 Echoes Heindel wrote that “The Rosicrucian teachings have only been barely touched upon in the Cosmo, which we may regard as the quintessence. This could be elaborated piecemeal, and many new points would open up to any one who would undertake this work. Thus the world would be the gainer, for no great philosophy can be brought out in all its phases by one man.” Is Steiner any less qualified to bring out phases of this philosophy than authors of the articles mentioned in this list?
Let Max Heindel have the last word on this matter. In the January 1917 Rays, the Editor reprinted a “particularly gratifying letter” from the leader of the “Order of Christian Mystics,” Dr. Curtis, who wrote that though “the Rosicrucian seeks to lead into the Gate of Wisdom those who are attracted by the Path of Knowledge, while the Christian Mystic seeks to lead in to the gate of Realization those who are attracted by the path of Love, yet neither one excludes the other.” Curtis added, “Fundamentally there cannot be, and in practice there should not be, any sense of rivalry between the various spiritual movements.” Heindel warmly concurred with Dr. Curtis, stating that “When the leaders or advanced students in any movement tear down the leaders of another movement working for the same end they ought to realize that their actions belie their teaching and that by so doing they lose the respect and confidence of any reasoning person within their hearing...The Editor has often thought of ways and means to overcome this mistaken attitude of jealousy upon the part of leaders and induce them to join hands in good fellowship and perhaps concerted action would lead to more beneficent results in all movements so joined.