Biography of Allan Bennett

Charles Henry Allan Bennett (1872-1923) is best known as the first magical mentor of Aleister Crowley, whom he met when they were both members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. However. Bennett’s greatest spiritual contribution, however, was his activity to popularize Buddhism in the West.

Bennett received the name Bhikkhu Ananda Metteyya at his ordination as a Buddhist monk and spent years studying and practicing Buddhism in the East. He was the first Englishman to be ordained as a Buddhist monk (Bhikkhu) of the Theravada tradition and was instrumental in introducing Buddhism in England. He established the first Buddhist Mission in the United Kingdom.

Bennett was born in London on December 8, 1872. Orphaned at an early age, he was taken under the protective wing S. L. MacGregor Mathers. Although originally brought up by his mother as a Roman Catholic, he was introduced to magic by MacGregor Mathers, who eventually initiated him into the Golden Dawn. He took the motto of Frater Iehi Aour ("Let there be light").

Bennett had high regard for Golden Dawn leader S. L. Bennett assisted MacGregor Mathers with his work on the book of correspondences of magical hierarchies that Crowley later plagiarized and deceptively published as though it were his own work as Liber 777.

Soon after meeting, Crowley invited Bennett to come stay with him, as Bennett was living in a dilapidated shared apartment. In return, Bennett trained Crowley in the basics of magick and tried to instill a devotion to white magick. Together with Crowley, Bennet experimented with mind altering drugs, investigating the borderline between subconscious and supernormal aspects of the mind.

In 1900, at the age of 28, Bennett traveled to Asia to relieve his asthma, and to dedicate himself to Buddhism. First he traveled to Ceylon where he studied Hatha Yoga under the yogi Shri Parananda. In 1902 Crowley came to visit him there, and was instructed in Hatha Yoga. During this time both men agreed as to the truth of Buddhism. Later, in Burma, Bennett took the vows of a Buddhist monk, under the name Bhikku Ananda Metteyya, "bliss of loving kindness." In 1903 he founded the Buddhasasana Samagama or the International Buddhist Society. He later began a periodical called Buddhism: An Illustrated Review. Back in England in 1908, Bennett attempted to spread the study of Buddhism on his native soil and published "The Training of the Mind" in The Equinox.

Some sources say that Bennett intended to travel on to California due to health reasons. But with the outbreak of World War I he found himself stranded, and forced to live in poverty and illness. He died on his native English soil at the age of 51. He wrote two books: The Wisdom of the Aryas (1923) and The Religion of Burma (1911, reprinted in 1929 by Theosophical Publishing House as The Religion of Burma and Other Papers).