(Charles Henry) Allan Bennett was a British occultist as well as one time teacher of Aleister Crowley when they both were members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Bennett’s inclination was more toward mysticism than occultism. He lived in London in poverty while racked by illness but made a profound impression upon his perceptive circle of friends for his dedication to Buddhism. Crowley said he witnessed Bennett levitate.
Bennett was born in London but orphaned at an early age and was adopted by S. L. Mathew Mathers who eventually initiated him into the Golden Dawn where he became known as Frater Iehi Aour “Let there be light.” He was educated at Hollesly College, and at Bath, England with an interest in scientific research. As a young man he worked in a chemical laboratory. His mother reared him Roman Catholic but his adopted father introduced him to occultism. He learned and progressed well in occultism, although he experimented with some poisonous drugs on himself attempting to determine the borderline subconscious and supernormal aspects of the mind. He lived alone in his small London apartment when studying Sir Edwin Arnold’s The Light of Asia, a translation of a Buddhist text. At 28 he decided to travel to the East to further his study of Buddhism, and to relieve the asthma from which he suffered.
In 1900, Bennett traveled to Ceylon where he studied Pali in Kamburugamuwa. Then in Colombo he became a pupil of yogi Shri Parananda who instructed him in Hatha Yoga asanas and Pranayama and meditations techniques. Later in Burma he became a Buddhist monk, taking the name of Bhikku Ananda Metteya (“bliss of loving kindness”). The name was appropriate for him because he was a particularly compassionate individual. Bennett founded the International Buddhist Society in 1903.
He still suffered from asthmatic problems and doctors advised him to go to California in the United States. He embarked upon the journey, stopping first in England. Events of World War I forced Bennett there. In London he was befriended by playwright Clifford Bax, and published The Buddhist Review to propagate the cause of Buddhism in Britain. He never reached California, but was forced to live in poverty as he suffered from illness. His publications include The Wisdom of the Aryes (London, 1923) and The Religion of Burma. A.G.H.
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