Posted by on March 26, 2024

Passion, Involvement, and Commitment

by Guardian in Chief Richard A. London

Given in the Blue Star Memorial Temple

March 24, 2024

In many parts of the world, today marks Palm Sunday. Also known as Passion Sunday, it begins Holy Week and culminates with Easter.

There’s an old business fable that illustrates the varying degrees of passion one contributes towards any endeavor or mission. The fable begins with breakfast, specifically regarding the roles of the Chicken and the Pig — think bacon and eggs. The Chicken is more or less involved by offering its time, effort, or resources, while the Pig is committed to offering its very existence to the ultimate purpose and goal. While a slightly earthy allegory for the sentiments of this week, it dramatically underscores the true nature of selfless service and sacrifice, the true essence of Holy Week.

It may not always seem true, but we all have choices, and choose we must — especially when we are on the path of the Pig. Our choices may not be the best, but nevertheless our lot in life is the result of lifetimes of choosing. Whether on an individual level or as the consequence of the ways and means we become involved and committed to a multitude of relationships, here we be.

Having grown up Jewish and then marrying into the Catholic Faith, I take heart in the meaning of this Holy Week and the various ways to interpret the significance of this sacred time of the year. For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, it can represent a season of renewal, when “the refreshing green of nature” begins to once again overwhelm our senses with “the beauty, fragrance, and form of the flower world.” For others, there is deep meaning in the remembrance of the Last Supper — the Passover Seder — and the humility of entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, the choosing of Barabbas, and the passion, courage, and wisdom that made Jesus’s involvement and commitment to the Law of Love the highest of exceptional examples.

A number of portraits on the inner walls of the Temple of the People honor founders and guides such as Helena Blavatsky and Jesus of Nazareth. Today I’ll be taking a closer look at the life of William Quan Judge and his commitment to the true essence of the Theosophical Society.

After my nearly thirty-year connection with Halcyon, it is only of late that the politics and schisms of the Theosophical Society have caught my attention. Between our visitors from the Krotona Institute of Theosophy last year, and my visit to the Theosophical Society International Headquarters in Pasadena last week, I’m finding an even deeper appreciation for why William Quan Judge’s portrait is in the Temple and why the Judge Library, with its precious collection of theosophical works, bears his name.

During this process I have become even more grateful for Radiance From Halcyon: A Utopian Experiment in Religion and Science, the scholarly resource of Theosophical and Temple history written by our beloved Dr. Paul Eli Ivey. Paul goes into great detail about how the Theosophical “fabric,” as originally woven together by H.B.P., was torn into separate and independent organizational pieces.

Following the passing of H.P.B., her original T.S. fabric was torn in half. In essence, one half eventually found its way to Pasadena, while the other half made its home in Adyar, India. The Temple of the People was torn from the same fabric that ended up in Pasadena, the half that followed the path of William Quan Judge. Temple founders Francia LaDue and William H. Dower, the first and second Guardians in Chief, were both members of the Syracuse Branch of the Theosophical Society, where they encountered the personal touch and tutelage of William Quan Judge. Since the Syracuse Branch was under the auspices of Judge, it’s no wonder that Dr. Dower eventually became its president.

We learn much about Judge in this excerpt from the preface of the first volume of Letters That Have Helped Me:

“William Quan Judge was born in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1851, son of Alice Mary Quan and Frederick H. Judge, a Mason and student of mysticism. Of William’s childhood there is little to say except for a memorable illness in his seventh year. Shortly after the physician had declared the child dead, it was discovered that he had revived. During convalescence he showed aptitudes and knowledge never before displayed. He seemed the same and yet not the same. Upon recovery he devoured every book he could obtain relating to Mesmerism, phrenology, character reading, religion, magic, Rosicrucianism, and the Book of Revelation. But the magnetic link so abruptly renewed in his near-mortal illness was perhaps never fully vitalized for he remained physically frail. His mother died at the birth of her seventh child, and when William was thirteen, the family moved to the United States, arriving in New York on July 14, 1864.

“W. Q. Judge worked as a clerk before entering the law office of George P. Andrews, later a justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York. On coming of age, Judge became a naturalized citizen of the United States and in May 1872 was admitted to the bar of New York, specializing in commercial law. In 1874 he married Ella M. Smith of Brooklyn, by whom he had a daughter, whose death in early childhood was long a source of deep, though quiet, sorrow to them both.

“At this time the tide of occult inquiry and speculation was high and the (psychic) experiences of numbers of people at the “Eddy Homestead” in Vermont were attracting wide attention. A series of articles by H. S. Olcott appeared in the New York Daily Graphic (later published as People from the Other World), and Judge wrote to the author for further information. On learning of his interest, H. P. Blavatsky invited the young lawyer to call on her. Thereafter he spent much of his time with her and Colonel Olcott, studying under her direction. He was among those present at her rooms at 46 Irving Place, New York, on the evening of September 7, 1875, when the proposal was made to form a society for research into the spiritual laws governing the physical universe. Judge was called to the chair and he nominated Olcott as chairman; he himself was nominated as secretary. This was the beginning of the Theosophical Society.

“During the writing of Isis Unveiled — H. P. Blavatsky’s first major theosophical work — Judge was one of those who assisted her and Colonel Olcott with the final preparation of the manuscript. The next year, December 1878, H. P. Blavatsky and Olcott went to India, appointing Major-General Abner Doubleday president pro tem and W. Q. Judge recording secretary. They carried on the responsibilities of the Theosophical Society in America as best they could. Although the work went slowly at first, with little activity, the link was kept unbroken. Theirs was a difficult task indeed, because H. P. Blavatsky, who was the one great exponent, had left the field, and the curiosity and interest excited by her original and striking mission had died down. Henceforth the Society was to subsist on its philosophical basis alone, and this principle Judge adhered to until his death, his energies being devoted to the dissemination of the theosophical philosophy and the practical realization of universal brotherhood.

“In 1884, Judge joined H. P. Blavatsky in Paris, spending a few months with her before traveling to India; then, after a brief stay in Madras, he returned to America to pick up his professional and theosophical duties. Little by little he gathered about him a number of earnest seekers, and gradually built up a strong American section. From scoffing and jeering, the press began to accept his articles on theosophy. In 1886 he founded and edited The Path magazine, started a printing press, and wrote unceasingly: books, articles, and letters to inquirers and members all over the country. He lectured from coast to coast, accomplishing the work of several men.

“Finally, when the work had increased to large proportions, Judge relinquished his profession to give his entire time to the Society. However, as a result of continuous overwork and weakened by recurrent Chagres fever [malaria] contracted in South America years earlier, his health gave way and, shortly before his 45th birthday, he died in New York on March 21, 1896.”


Many of William Quan Judge’s significant writings, from within his short lifespan, continue to be the focus of Temple study classes from time to time.

I find it notable that Mr. Judge died on March 21st, and that Dr. Dower was born on March 22nd — and even though it was in different years, a death on one day and a birth on the very next suggests the symbolical passing of the Golden Thread. However, there has never been a broad consensus that the Theosophical Golden Thread was passed on from H.P.B. to W.Q.J., let alone from W.Q.J. to the Temple of the People. But then, Who’s Right has a way of dominating, if not distracting from, What’s Right.

From the Jewish perspective, this season celebrates the Exodus from slavery out of Egypt, with the Passover Seder serving as an eternal reminder that Moses received the Word from God, as offered by way of the Ten Commandments.

From the Christian perspective, the Easter season serves as an eternal reminder that Jesus received the Word from God, as offered by way of the Sermon on the Mount.

From my perspective, Holy Week signifies the tearing in half of the Western Religious fabric, where both halves ended up holding the Ten Commandments as sacred but only one holds the Sermon on the Mount as the Word of God. Unimaginably for some, Eastern Religions during those same times were nurturing involvement and commitment. In fact, increasing the general awareness of Eastern religious perspectives in the West has always been a priority for the Theosophical Society.

The Who’s Right perspective is a trap that has snared generations with a polarizing kind of paralysis. Getting along within our own tribes, let alone different tribes getting along with each other, is no simple task — yet Hiawatha and the League of Six Nations were able to nurture their involvement into commitment to the wellbeing of each other.

Being open to the common need for threading together diverse perspectives takes commitment, which begins with involvement. One can be involved without being committed, whereas being committed requires involvement. We can be involved with the Temple of the People and still not be committed to living by the Rules of Discipleship.

Surely many were involved, if not committed, to the Theosophical Society back in the day. Nevertheless, I have come to believe that William Quan Judge was one of its Pigs and not just a Chicken.

From many religious perspectives, being committed to “a clean life, pure aspiration, and unselfish service” exemplifies living by the Word of God. From the Theosophical perspective as it is today, that level of commitment has never seemed enough for a collective validation that a particular group is in direct contact with the Lodge of Masters.

I believe the emphasis on Who’s right rather than on What’s right was the catalyst behind the crucifixion of Jesus, and that it not only stimulated the factions within the Theosophical Society but also is a significant reason for the disunity that continues to plague our Humanity.

The following is an excerpt from Judge’s private letter to the E.S.T., the Eastern School of Theosophy, also known as the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society. It is dated November 3, 1894, which was four years before the Temple was founded. I offer it to convey a sense of the distractive forces at play, back in those days:

“And now it becomes necessary under instructions received to give the members of the School some account of the things behind the scenes in connection with the recent investigation attempted at London upon the charges against me.

“The two persons around whom its noise arose are Mrs. Besant and myself. Prior to that in 1891, after the death of H.P.B., Col. H. S. Olcott, the President, was the center of a disturbance due to his resignation, and that disturbance was due to the same forces working from behind to try and disintegrate the T.S. by causing its old-time President to leave office before his death. The recent troubles centered around us because I was made the object of an attack in the guise of an attempt to purify the Society, and Mrs. Besant was thrown forward as the official accuser of myself — a friend who was certified to her by H.P.B., her teacher, and well known as working for the T.S. for many years. All this needs light, and the best interests of Mrs. Besant and of the E.S.T. demand that some of the secret history shall be given out, however disagreeable it may be, in order that the very purgation which was improperly directed to the wrong quarter shall take place now. The difficulty arose when in January or February Annie Besant finally lent herself unconsciously to the plot which I detail herein; but prior to that (from August, 1893), those managing that plot had begun to work upon her.

“The plot exists among the Black Magicians, who ever war against the White, and against those Black ones we were constantly warned by H.P.B.; this is no fiction, but a very substantial fact. I have seen and also been shown the chief entity among those who thus work against us and who desire to destroy the whole movement and especially to nullify the great work which H.P.B. began for the Western nations.

“These Black Magicians have succeeded in influencing certain Brahmans in India through race-pride and ambition, so that these, for their own advantage, desire to control and manage the T.S. through some agent and also through the E.S.T. They of course have sought, if possible, to use one of our body, and have picked out Mrs. Besant as a possible vehicle. One object of the plot is to stop the current of information and influence started by H.P.B., by deflecting thought back to modern India. To accomplish this it is absolutely necessary to tear down the tradition clustering around the work of H.P.B., her powers and knowledge have to be derogated from; her right to speak for the Masters has to be impugned; those Masters have to be made a cold abstraction; her staunch friends who wish to see the real work and objects carried on have to be put in such a position as to be tied hand and foot so as not to be able to interfere with the plans of the plotters; it has to be shown that H.P.B. was a fraud and forger also. These men are not the Chelas of our Masters.”


Judge’s letter goes into greater detail about the extent of his endeavors to authenticate the legacy of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Of course, the references to the “Black Magicians” refer to the intent of the distracting forces, and have nothing to do with race or skin color.

Some 100 years after H.P.B. passed, after enduring accusations of forgery and fraud during her lifetime, we now are able to find an acknowledgment of the inaccuracies of those allegations from Theosophy Wiki, which points out that:

“The Hodgson Report was a document that arose from an investigation by the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) on H. P. Blavatsky, her performance of psychic phenomena, and the production of the Mahatma letters. In November 1884, Richard Hodgson of the SPR went to India and visited the Adyar headquarters of the Theosophical Society. He was deceived by Emma Coulomb and her husband Alexis into believing that Madame Blavatsky had faked phenomena and forged letters. Hodgson wrote a 200-page report that he presented to the SPR. Even though the Society for Psychical Research never officially endorsed the report, the public invested Hodgson’s writings with the full authority of the London Society. An international scandal ensued, and Hodgson’s denunciation of Blavatsky was treated as authoritative in many books and encyclopedias for decades, to the great detriment of her reputation and that of the Theosophical Society.

“Whether H. P. B. had authored the letters signed by Master K.H. was an important issue in the Hodgson Report.

“In the 1960s, Dr. Paul L. Kirk, Professor of Criminology at Berkeley University, compared photographic specimens of the two handwritings, as shown in Hodgson’s Report — without any knowledge of the identities of the principals involved — and gave a decision against the Hodgson conclusions. Dr. Kirk’s verdict was that the H.P.B. and K.H. handwritings were not by the same person.

“Dr. Vernon Harrison, an expert on forgery, examined the evidence of the case using Twentieth Century forensic methodology. He published an article in the April 1986 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, followed by a book, H. P. Blavatsky and the SPR: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885, in which he outlined flaws in Hodgson’s work. On May 8, 1986, the Society for Psychical Research issued a press release in support of Harrison’s findings, and rejecting the Hodgson report.”


No matter what we may know, or think we know, the truth will always boil down to how we live our lives and by how we treat every living thing and creature. May we each know a tree by its fruit. May we each know a person by their thoughts, words, and deeds. And may we know that both Judge and Jesus held true to their Higher Aspirations, until they were overcome by the arrogant ignorance of their distractors.

I find a sense of refreshment and renewal from six words attributed to Judge near the end of his life: “Be calm. Hold fast. Go slow.”

I find a sense of refreshment and renewal from nine words attributed to Jesus near the end of his life: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

On this Passion Sunday, let us take those words of Judge and Jesus — those reflections of their lives of commitment — into our hearts and minds as we endeavor to transform lower degrees of involvement into higher degrees of commitment, by passionately practicing the Golden Rule and the Law of Love in our daily lives.


Guardian in Chief Richard A. London

March 24, 2024

Posted in: Temple Talks