An anonymous reader asks my opinion on the Trans-Himalayan teachings, as they’ve been called, going from H.P. Blavatsky to Mabel Collins Cook to the Temple of the People to Agni Yoga to Alice Bailey etc.
First of all: Mabel Collins wrote during Blavatsky‘s life, so it isn’t so much that she replaced Blavatsky as that there were different people channeling* the masters during Blavatsky’s life. Blavatsky being the main channel and Mabel Collins writing two or three pieces that also reflected the same source. (generally her Light on the Path is seen as directly inspired by an Egyptian master. Her piece on karma as well. Her story The Blossom and the Fruit is seen as inspired by the masters, but her original ending was claimed by HPB to be inspired by black magic, so the latter took it upon herself to change the ending. Through the gates of Gold is a not so well known story that also has Blavatsky’s approval.)
As for the others you mention. I think of the white brotherhood as a very informal affair. I don’t think there is a line or anything like that. Any person who speaks on behalf of universal truth and peace and love between all beings speaks on behalf of the universal brotherhood or the white brotherhood, or whatever you want to call it. This is true exactly to the extent that their teachings are true and the wisdom they preach is practiced. Central values should be personal responsibility and independent thought as well as brotherhood regardless of faith, sex, color, etc.
I have of course a tendency to believe more in those messengers that speak in ways that don’t directly contradict Blavatsky’s message. Which ACIM doesn’t, as far as I can tell. As far as Agni Yoga and Alice Bailey go: they aren’t my cup of tea. But since I haven’t studied their work in detail, I can’t presume to tell you whether they are or aren’t pure reflections of universal truth. From what I’ve read the work of Alice Bailey is more along the lines of Leadbeater than of Blavatsky, which implies that I would not trust her on what happens after death.
One of the issues is: to what extent do these teachers stress a personal God? There are theories in theosophical circles that the belief in a personal God – who lords over people and has the power to save them – is one of the principle reasons people don’t take responsibility for their own lives. This is one of the reasons why the doctrine of karma is so very important.
That doctrine could be used as a measuring stick against most spiritual teachings. The less stress is put on personal responsibility, the less valid the teachings from a theosophical point of view. In ACIM for instance, as far as I can tell (I may be wrong), God is something immanent, something used as a metaphor for the spiritual power in each of us – which is a reflection of the universal source of everything. In other words the word God is used as a metaphor for the fact that each of us is capable of spiritual transformation. This is obviously quite a healthy message.
Ultimately it comes down not so much to what people claim for themselves or their tradition, but to what extent what is taught is true. ‘No Religion Higher than Truth’ is the watchword of the Theosophical Society. The second criteria is obviously whether people practice what they preach.
* I am using the term channeling here, because that term is current. Blavatsky herself wrote about how in some way she could be seen as a medium, which was the term current in her day. Actually the term channeling fits her better, because it is understood that channelers vary in their method. Some are conscious during channeling, while others go into trances. Blavatsky and Mabel Collins both remained conscious when writing.