Clairvoyant, a Dedicated Theosophist, and Founder of Therapeutic Touch
A presentation by EDWARD ABDILL for the European School of Theosophy on September 23, 2020.
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(i.e. a verbatim transcript)
Dora was born in the Dutch East Indies with the gift of clairvoyance, and her mother was also clairvoyant. The family lived on a sugar plantation owned by her father. When Dora saw a recently deceased person, so did her mother. Dora thought everyone saw what she and her mother saw, so it was not until she was an older child that she found out that very few people were clairvoyant.
Beautifull "black & white" of Dora
As some of you know, when Dora was eleven years old, living with her parents in Indonesia, the clairvoyant, C. W. Leadbeater, wanted to start a training camp in Sydney, Australia, for young sensitive children. CWL asked Dora’s parents if they would allow her to go with him to Australia. Dora’s parents told Dora that she should decide whether or not to go, and whatever she decided, they would abide by her decision. Her mother told her to go to the meditation room, think about it, and decide what to do. To their great shock, Dora said she would go. Dora did not speak any English, and she was shy, but she said she thought it was the right thing to do. Of course, I did not know Dora then, but she told us about her adventure to Australia. Dora was in Australis during the First World War. Many young Australian men were killed during that war, and the parents of those who were Theosophists wrote to Leadbeater to ask him to look up their deceased sons and let them know how they were doing. Leadbeater got so many of these requests that he did not have time to answer all of them. Therefore, he gave Dora the task of looking up the deceased men. Dora did that, and typical of Dora, she called the task, “Looking up Deaders.” When Dora was a young woman, she met and fell in love with Fritz Kunz, a fellow Theosophist. Fritz was an American citizen, so he and Dora came to the United States and got married here. Dora believed she should learn about American history, so she studied it thoroughly. She soon knew more about our history than almost anyone in the country.
When Leadbeater was working on his clairvoyant observations of the seven sacraments, he enlisted Dora’s help, and also several other clairvoyants. CWL required that they all agree on what they saw before he included the observations in The Science of the Sacraments.
After the Roman and Anglocatholic churches began to say mass after twelve noon, the then presiding bishop of the LCC asked Bishop Pitken in New York to ask Dora to observe a mass to be said at 5:30 PM. She did. In answer to the bishop’s questions, she reported that the angel of the Eucharist did appear at the invocation, the nine orders of angels came at the preface, and that the oblations were consecrated. She said all was as usual, except that at the breaking of the Host, the energy was not distributed to the neighborhood. Rather, it was grounded through those present.
In 1927, Dora, Fritz, and others founded our first Theosophical camp. It was on Orcas Island in the Puget Sound near Seattle, Washington. They named it Camp Indralaya, place of the gods. The camp is still active and popular.
Dora, Fritz, and some others wanted to have a camp on the East coast, so they began a search for a location. In 1937 Fritz and Dora, along with Emily and John Sellon found a farm for sale upstate New York. When Dora saw a mountain stream flowing through the property, she said, “This is it.” Dora had a strong premonition that they should put a down payment on the property at once. She did not know why, but she trusted her intuition, so they did just that, assuring their purchase. The next day a wealthy gentleman came to purchase the farm. He wanted to fill the stream with trout. He tried his best to offer a great deal of money to the Theosophists to abandon the sale, but they refused. They named the camp Pumpkin Hollow Farm, Pumpkin Hollow being the village in which it was located. The camp thrives to this day.
Dora’s cabin at the camp was quite a ways into the woods, away from other cabins. After an evening program, she would walk home through the woods. Someone asked her if she was frightened walking through the woods in the dark. She responded that she was not at all afraid. Then, she explained that during the day the tree spirits were busy with photosynthesis, but at night the tree spirit expanded some distance from the tree trunk. She said that is what people felt at night in the woods. They thought someone was there, but it was only the tree spirit.
When Mary and I used to go to PHF, the camp had a “set up” weekend in the spring and a “put away” weekend in the fall. The weekends were to open or close the camp. One year, John Coates, then international president of the TS, was at the “set up” weekend. All of the mattresses had been placed in one cabin in the fall. Rat poison was placed around them because if not, the rats and mice would destroy the mattresses. Each mattress had a name on it so that we could identify where the mattress belonged. We were collecting the mattresses, placing them in a truck, and taking them to the appropriate cabins. One mattress had two names on it, so we did not know where it belonged. Dora was there with John and me. She cocked her head like a chicken, flopped down on her back on the mattress, jumped up, and said, “Margaret’s cabin.” Years later I reminded Dora of that, and she said, “Well, I didn’t want to waste time.” Her sensitive nature came in handy that day, and because of that we knew where to put the mattress.
Every summer Dora would lead a silent retreat weekend at the camp. They were amazing. Participating in those weekends was equivalent to having an internal shower. All the dross was flushed out, and one was left with a profound peace. On one of those weekends, the trees were suffering from a disease that killed many trees. At our final meditation that weekend, Dora said, “Let’s think of the trees.” We did, and after the retreat ended, we asked Dora to say how the trees responded. She said, “To tell you the truth, they were surprised.” On another occasion after a silent retreat, I was riding with Dora and a few others in a car going home. Someone asked Dora if a recently deceased member had attended the meeting. Dora said that they had because she had seen her last week and told her about the retreat. We all laughed, and Dora asked why. I said, “Well, most people don’t see dead people on alternate Tuesdays.”
Years later, Mary and I occasionally went to Indralaya. Weather permitting, Indralaya always had a camp fire in the evening, and there would always be some entertainment or a talk. One day when we were there, Dora said that “for the children” at the camp fire that evening, she would talk about the fairies. Of course, all of the adults attended.
She said the west coast fairies were larger than the east coast ones, and they lived longer. She said the wild animals could see them, but the domesticated ones had lost that ability. She said that when there was a forest fire, the fairies would lead the animals to safety. Finally, there was an explanation for the amazing ability of animals to flee danger. They followed the fairies.
In 1959, when I joined the New York Theosophical Society, we had a dinner before the Wednesday member meeting. It began at 5:30 PM, and cost the astounding amount of $1.50. The meal always consisted of a casserole, a salad, desert, and a beverage. Dinner was followed by a twenty minute meditation that Dora led, and that was followed by the meeting.
Dora Kunz and Emily Sellon, both prominent and dedicated TS members lived next to one another in Port Chester, a suburb of New York, just north of Manhattan. One week, Dora would prepare the casserole, and the next week Emily would prepare it. They drove into Manhattan early on Wednesdays, made the salad, and just before 5:30, warmed the casserole up in the Society’s kitchen oven. One Wednesday I was in the kitchen with Dora when the casserole was dropped upended on the floor. Dora said, “Shut the door.” I did, and Dora scooped up the casserole, leaving only a small amount on the floor. No one ever knew we had a casserole from the floor.
Before I joined the NYTS, I had heard that Dora was clairvoyant who helped people with their physical and emotional problems. I knew nothing about clairvoyance, but I was fascinated by it, and anxious to meet Dora. I met her when I attended my very first member meeting. She was serving the food. Since Dora attended every member meeting, and I did also, I got to know her, and we soon became friends. We were fond of one another, and since we both had a sharp sense of humor, we had many laughs together. Sometimes, Dora would laugh (It was always a cackle) when we had no idea what had struck her funny. Her laughter was so contagious, that soon everyone was laughing.
Mary joined the TS just before we were married in 1973. It was what Dora did for her that inspired her to join. One Wednesday, Mary called me from work. I was manager of the Quest Bookshop then, and the shop was located in the NYTS building. Dora was there when I got the call. Mary told me she did not feel well, so she would go home after work rather than come to the member meeting. Dora heard my end of the conversation, and she realized that Mary was not well. Dora turned aside for a moment, and I knew she sent Mary healing energy. Mary showed up at the meeting, and I said, “I thought you were going home..” She said I was, but suddenly I got hot and thought, “Now I’m getting fever, then I felt much better.” I said, “Dora thought of you.”
On another occasion I asked Dora how I might help relieve the severe menstrual cramps that Mary often got. Rather than tell me anything, Dora had Mary sit down. She worked on Mary’s head for a few minutes, and all of the cramps disappeared.
Dora was Ms. Malaprop personified. She often mixed metaphors, seldom finished a sentence, and frequently used the wrong word. Yet, somehow she projected her meaning in spite of the incomplete sentences and wrong words. I remember once she made a comical mix of two metaphors, the acid test, and the proof is in eating the pudding. It came out as, “That was the acid pudding.
After I’d been a member for some time, Dora asked me to give a talk at a member meeting. I was asked to do it with a more experienced member, Margaret Wagner. Our topic was “The Path of Outgoing and Return.” When Dora announced our talk, she said, “Eddie and Margaret will be talking about the Path of Outgoing and No Return.” We roared with laughter, and Dora laughed along with us.
Every Wednesday afternoon, Dora would see clients. Dr. Otellia Bengtson, a dedicated TS member, always worked with Dora. If a client needed a prescription, the doctor would write it. Dr. Bengston was a saint. If a client could not pay for a prescription, she would pay for it. The doctor and Dora would never take any money for their services. If anyone insisted on paying, Dora would tell them they could make a contribution to the Theosophical Society.
I cannot remember why, but after I had been a member for a few years, I consulted Dora about a problem. Dr. Bangtson was with her. I was not nervous about seeing Dora, because I thought she must have seen far worse than me, and I knew in spite of my faults I was doing my best. Dora must have been used to people being nervous when she observed them, and must have been surprised that I was not nervous. Several times, Dora said, “Well, he’s not nervous.”
I only consulted Dora a few times more after that, but each time Dora proved that she had a remarkable ability to see a person’s feelings and thoughts, especially habitual ones or events that had made a deep impression.
I had spent two years in the army, just before I joined the TS. I despised it. The second time I consulted with Dora, the very first thing she said to me was, “Your experiences in the army disgusted you, didn’t they.” I had not come to her to discuss my experiences in the army, but she saw the disgust immediately.
The last time I consulted Dora it was at our upstate TS camp, Pumpkin Hollow. Because I had a high PSA count, I was afraid I might have prostate cancer. Dora could always easily spot cancer, so she took a look at me on a Sunday afternoon. The very first thing she said to me was, “Eddie, you are depressed. You don’t want to do anything now, do you.” I had not realized I was depressed, but I was, and did not want to do anything. She told me when I got back to New York I should look at the trees and notice how beautiful they are. I took her advice, and when I came into the NYTS on Wednesday, Dora scrunched up her face, then smiled, and said, “Eddie, you look so much better.” I told her of course I did because I had taken her advice. Obviously, I did not look different physically, but Dora could see my mental/emotional state and noticed it was much better.
Since I am fluent in Spanish, Dora would sometimes ask me to interpret for a Hispanic client who did not speak English. I remember once interpreting for a client who did not speak or understand English. Dora said to me, “Ask her what is wrong.” I did, and she replied she was worried about her heart, and that she had a frightening dream that she thought embodied some evil psychic influence. Dora got quiet, turned her head to the side as she always did when viewing clairvoyantly, and said, “There’s nothing wrong with her heart, but she needs a diuretic. Ask her if she is taking one.” I did, and at first she said not, so Dr. Bengtson wrote a prescription for one. Later she said she was taking a diuretic, so the doctor trashed the prescription. Then, Dora said, “She is constipated, but her intestines are irritated.” So she asked the doctor to prescribe a mild laxative. I then told the woman that there was nothing wrong with her heart, and that the dream was simply a nightmare and not dangerous. Dora and the doctor got up to leave, and then the woman said, “I forgot to tell her, I am constipated.” I replied, “We already know that.” She had come in to ask about her heart and a dream, and Dora told her she needed a laxative. I had a good laugh about it.
On another occasion, Dora asked me to interpret for a client who I discovered did not need an interpreter. Her hand was gnarled with severe rheumatoid arthritis. At the time, I was manager of the Quest Bookshop at the NYTS. Dora was staying in the TS guest room, and in the morning she bought a Chinese coin that we sold for use with the I Ching. I did not know why she wanted it. Dora was always honest with her clients. When she met the woman, she told her she could not cure the arthritis. Then, she took the coin she had purchased and gave it to the woman. Dora said, “When it hurts badly, put this in your hand. It will relieve some of the pain.” Dora had magnetized the coin with healing energy. The woman got up to leave, got a few steps toward the door, and Dora handed me money to cover taxi fare and said, “Give this to her. She should take a taxi home.” When I gave the money to the woman, she teared up and said, “I’ve heard of people like her, but I never thought I’d meet one.” Dora had a heart of gold.
Early in the 1960s Dora and Fritz went to India. When they returned, they gave a small gift to several close friends. I was one of them. Dora gave me a ring that was adjustable, so it would fit anyone. When she gave it to me, I thought, “I’ll have Bishop Pitkin bless it for me.” As soon as I thought that, Dora read my mind and said, “Would you like me to magnetize it for you?” Of course I said I did, so she took it and returned it to me the next week fully charged. I have worn it ever since.
Similar to HPB, Dora had a difficult personality. She could send people crying from a room. Yet, she was a spiritual giant. When she spoke of the masters, you felt you were in their presence. Dora was compassionate, but she did not pity people. She saw hundreds of clients, some of whom had endured terrible tragedy, or were seriously ill. She would do whatever she could for them, but when she could do no more, she would wish them well, leave, and happily join her friends.
In the 1960s Dora learned of an amazing healer who lived in Canada. She contacted him and invited him to Pumpkin Hollow. His name was Oskar Estabany, and he had been an officer in the Hungarian cavalry. He told Dora he discovered his healing ability when a horse hurt its leg, and it would probably have to be put down. Estabany felt compassion for the horse, and he put his hands on the horse’s leg. Suddenly, he felt an enormous energy flowing through his hands and into the horse. In the morning, the horse was so well that it was able to go in as usual. Estabany tried to teach his men to heal, but the men were not able to do it. Estabany decided that healing could not be taught.
Dora observed Estabany heal and said she had never seen such a powerful healer. Being a strong minded woman, Dora decided that despite Estabany’s point of view, healing could be taught, so she began to experiment with participants at Pumpkin Hollow, and later at the NYTS. Dolores Krieger, who had a PhD in nursing, worked with Dora and gave the methodology the name of Therapeutic Touch, often called TT. Dolores got TT into the nursing school at NYU, and eventually it got into many nursing schools both in and out of the USA.
Dora had a highly developed clairvoyant ability. She was able to see the energy pattern of internal organs, and she learned to determine if an organ was diseased. Doctors who knew Dora would sometimes send her a patient they had been unable to diagnosis. Dora would observe that person, tell the doctor where the problem was, and the doctor would then take the appropriate diagnostic tests that proved Dora had been correct.
In the early 1970s Dora became the subject of a study by a neuro-psychiatrist, Dr. Shafica Karagulla. Dr. Karagulla had been given a grant to study clairvoyants. The doctor got Dora into Sloane Kettering cancer clinic to observe patients. She would bring a patient out, place the patient in front of Dora, and ask, “What is wrong with her?” Once Dora said she had never seen anything like this before. The doctor said, “Tell me exactly what you see?” Dora said, “There is a place in the patient’s brain where there is no energy at all.” The doctor asked Dora to point out exactly where that was. When she did, the doctor looked at the patient’s chart and discovered that portion of the brain had been excised.
Like all groups, the NYTS had its share of difficult people. One in particular, Lillian, was especially difficult. No matter what anyone said at a meeting, she would say, “You said…, but Theosophy clear teaches…” She thought she alone knew the teaching of Theosophy, and everyone else was wrong.
At one member meeting, Lillian was at it again, and the tension in the room built to a maximum. Dora was upstairs in our library, and at the most tense point, she came down, looked into the room, and defused the situation. Later, I asked Dora why she came down at the moment we needed her. She replied, “Well, I was sitting in the library, and a lot of prickly stuff kept coming up through the floor, and I thought, “Is that a Theosophical meeting going on down there.”
Dora asked Emily Sellon and me to talk with Lillian about the problem We did, and told her it was all right to disagree with everyone, but she should not imply that she alone knew Theosophy. It seemed to work for a while, but finally it got so bad that member meetings went from about twenty to about three or four. We went to our by-laws to find out what we could do about such a member, and discovered that if three members wrote a letter of complaint, we could call the difficult member before the board and put that member on probation. We did that, and in the middle of our interview, Lillian jumped up, said, “None of you are Theosophists” and left, never to be seen again.
Dora was president of the NYTS when she was elected national president. She asked me to finish her term, and I did. Later, I was elected as president. It was necessary for the national president to live at the headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, so Dora moved there.
While I was still manager of the Quest Bookshop in New York, Dora called me one day to ask me to speak at the national convention in July. She said I would share the program with a wonderful woman who was in the CIA. After praising the woman, Dora asked if I would do it. She was obviously shocked when I said no. I said, “Dora, I could never speak with someone from the CIA.” She then burst into laughter. She had meant the CIIS, the California Institute of Integral Studies. I accepted, and gave my first national talk that July.
In 1981, Mary’s father died. I knew that for TS members, Dora would check on recently deceased loved ones, so I encouraged Mary to contact Dora. She did. Dora asked Mary to send her a picture of her father, and that she would talk to Mary about him at the next TS convention which we were to attend. When Dora spoke to us about Mary’s father, it was as though she knew him all her life, when she had only met him in a reception line at our wedding. The first thing she said was, He knows I’m your friend and that I’ll talk to you about him.” Then she said, “I’ve never seen a man so tired in my life.” Mary’s father felt tired for many months before he died. Dora said someone close to him, also dead, was with him and kept saying, “You don’t have to feel tired anymore.” It must have been his brother, recently deceased. Then, Dora told us things about the family. She said you father says….but I think… We laughed. That was exactly what her father believed, but Dora was right. After listening to Dora, I said to Mary, “If I ever had any doubt about ife beyond death, it is gone now.”
One of our members, Anna Lemkov, was devastated when her Canadian brother committed suicide. She contacted Dora. Afterward, Anna told me she was amazed that Dora was able to tell her about her brother’s family and friends in Canada, even though she knew nothing about them until she looked up the brother.
The last time I heard Dora give a talk it was at the home of a member in New Jersey. I thought I had heard it all before, but always enjoyed listening to Dora, so Mary and I went to the talk. It was on life after death. To my surprise, Dora said something I had never heard before. She said that just before reincarnation, the inner self had a limited choice in how much of its karma it was willing to work out. Then she was asked if she thought the masters were still interested in the TS. She said if we were doing what they wanted, they were; if not, they would not be interested.
After Dora finished her term as national president, she moved to Seattle, Washington to live in a granny apartment her son, Johnny, had built for her in his home. Dora had such a difficult personality that it drove Johnny’s wife, Aino, near mad. It got so bad that Aino said Dora had to leave. Fortunately, Dora had a brother who lived nearby, and she moved in with him.
When Dora realized she was near death, she refused all food and drink. She died at age 95 on August 5, 1999. We miss her wonderful laugh and her amazing clairvoyant help. We hope to work with her again in a future incarnation.
Other material on and by Dora Kunz on Theosophy Forward:
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The editor wishes to thank Erica Georgiades in Athens, Greece and Janet Kerschner in Wheaton,Ill-USA