Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Message to the Dutch Members

Delivered April 15 immediately following the General Congress at Utrecht


FELLOW MEMBERS OF THE DUTCH SECTION:

Ever since I heard there was such a thing as a Dutch Section in my early days in theosophy, I felt a peculiar attraction which I can only lay to the fact that I am born of the stock in the United States that is referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch. It is a mixture of Dutch and German. However, I find now that there was more than that which had that subtle hidden effect of creating that attraction.

When it became my privilege to work with Colonel Conger in Washington, when he was President of the American Section of the Society, it used to irk me to hear this person and that person, and get this letter and that letter, saying: why does not the American Section do this, that, or the other thing the same or as well as the Dutch Section? So you see whatever karma is involved between the Dutch Section and myself, it has ended up, first in my coming to Holland on my trip around the world, and now with this opportunity to speak to you as one of the partners in this business of theosophy for the future.

I should like to pay deep respect and honor to your National President, Fred Lindemans, who has been to me a brother in the true sense of the word. Not only because he looked after me while I was here before, and is looking after my comfort while here now, but primarily because he has had an interesting karma in relation to the Theosophical Society and its leaders. I happen to know, for example, that as a much younger man during the administration of KT, when she had her accident and was at Visingso waiting to die, Fred Lindemans was there, and that literally while the last breath didn't occur, KT in reality died in Fred Lindemans' arms. And it was Fred Lindemans to whom karma had given the responsibility to take the Master's ring and see that it got into the hands of KT's successor — the same ring that I wear today.

Thus it is not unusual in the way of theosophic affairs that Fred Lindemans is standing by an old friend. And I consider Fred also a much older friend in the work. So I have an unusually soft spot in my heart for Holland — not to single it out above anything else, no! But even the Masters have their own personal likes and dislikes, as they say. It is not nor has it been a brain-mind decision of the Cabinet and of the Leader to hold this Congress in Holland.

I should like to be able, in the brief time I have, to help you sense and feel the real importance of theosophy in the world today; but I can't do it. I will make an effort to see you all before I leave, in your respective areas of Holland where you can get together satisfactorily and I can talk with you more informally, and help you to sense and feel the responsibility that the Society and you and I have at this time.

I have had the privilege, through my years of association with Colonel Conger and through him with GdeP, to have witnessed knowingly the parallelisms that occur in the world about us, and their relation to the incidents and occurrences in the Theosophical Society. At an Esoteric Section meeting about two years ago, a member asked Colonel Conger whether there is a relationship between the work of the Society and the international experiences of our fellowmen; and if so, which occurs first, the international incident or the incident in the Society? And the Outer Head's reply was, "You should know that there is a parallelism and it should be obvious to you that the incident in the Theosophical Society comes first." Now what does that mean to you and to me as individual theosophists? Doesn't it point up in a real sense our individual responsibility?

How little do we know what a thought of division brings forth on the outer plane in the life and in the experiences of our fellowmen. If the karma of an act rested solely upon the individual, it would be a simple matter for us as theosophists and pledged members to go our way as we please without any thought of our brothers. But it does not stop there. We are living and working and having our being in practical occultism. We have studied and studied, and have thought and thought, and we cannot deny the fact that when one enters the folds of the Theosophical Society he becomes a changed man and the currents that flow through every corner of his nature are charged with a higher powered battery. That we know. That is why when we do something good it counts for much more than an average act of goodness, and also the reverse: when we do something in error, it counts for more error than with the average individual.

The question has been asked quite often, not only by people young in theosophy but by members who have been in it for years: why is it that when a difference of opinion comes up in the Theosophical Society there is so much thunder and lightning? It's a simple answer: we have the power of the Great Lodge behind us. If they are the guardians of humanity and we have pledged ourselves to them, do you think they would be smart in letting us go along just as average individuals — getting to the peak, to the top of the mountain, winding around and around for a long, long series of incarnations — when we who have joined the TS and have decided to help our fellowmen have said in so doing, "No, I'm not going to take all that time, I'm going to climb right up the side and get there so that I can really be of some help to the Masters"? All right! When we do that, life says prove it — and I don't mean life in the daily affairs of life only. I mean life in the Theosophical Society and in theosophic work.

There is nothing more dangerous to the work of the Theosophical Society than one member, I don't care who he is or where he is, thinking that he is important. Let's keep in mind that ours is an impersonal work. It's a thankless job from the outer point of view. And if we expect thanks for it and expect recognition for it, and expect to be patted on the shoulder because we have gotten this member, or that member, or another member — I'm telling you honestly, that is a mistake.

There are no words more truthful and more potent than Master M's spoken to Mr. Judge: "Brave soldiers need neither orders nor constant encouragement." Now we have got to decide, as individual members of the TS at this critical point in its history, whether we are going to try to become brave soldiers or not. We have got to decide whether or not we joined the Theosophical Society to help our fellowmen or to help ourselves. We have got to decide whether we want to stand on our own two feet and become spiritually self-reliant as well as physically and psychologically and mentally self-reliant. There is danger in the duty of another.

We have a responsibility to ourselves in a selfless manner that will help karma and the Masters to whip us and whip us and whip us into shape as better instruments for their work. And if we would do that we must train ourselves to read and to understand and recognize the signposts that are revealed in the unfolding daily karmic script of our lives. Each one of us comes into incarnation with a portion of karma that is mixed, of course. I do not like to think of rewards and punishments; I do not like to think of good and evil karma. To me they are misnomers. I like to think of karma as opportunity: only one word for both the so-called good and the bad. The good karma that we have brought with us represents in fact that we have in the past overcome certain weaknesses in our nature and constitution and have earned the right, by the improvement of those qualities, to put them to work in Masters' cause. The so-called unpleasant karma that comes to us is not a punishment but it represents an opportunity for us to self-consciously go to work and improve the quality of those weaknesses, to make them more capable of strengthening the truly spiritual side of our nature that we may be more worthy instruments in Masters' hands.

There isn't a thing that happens to us any day of our lives, from the time we wake in the morning until we go to sleep at night, that isn't part and parcel of that daily karmic script. And a theosophist who really wants to be a worker in Masters' cause will study the events of his daily life which formulate themselves into true signposts as to what he is to do or what not to do.

Now if a theosophist sincerely works at that job, he cannot find those signposts if he lets someone else do his thinking for him. Immediately that is done, that other individual's karma is mixed with his, and once it is mixed it's like dropping some ink into the clear water in that pitcher there on the table — it is awfully hard to separate them, and they may not be separated for an incarnation or two.

I'm leading up to the situation which a few members, and I say few members, throughout the world and in the Dutch Section, feel is an unhappy one. I don't think so. Every human being, and especially every theosophist, is given and has the inherent right to do as he pleases. He has made no pledge to any leader, to any lodge member, to any society, to any Outer Head, if he has pledged himself. He has pledged himself to his higher self, to those noble qualities in him which one day, thank the gods — and which means I believe everyone of us here, one day, if we keep on — will be in association directly with the Masters of Compassion and of Peace and Harmony. But it's a long, hard road.

We have heard this afternoon the Proclamation, and I have nothing to say about it. Mr. Hartley or anyone else has a perfect right to proclaim, to announce, to do anything. Everyone has a perfect right to recognize or support anyone whom he may choose. No one would deny him that right, least of all a true theosophist, because our Constitution is based upon the fact that we have just as much thoughtfulness regarding the feelings of others and the thoughts of others as we expect them to have of ours. And I agree with Voltaire 100 percent when he said: "I may not agree with a thing you say, but I will fight with my life for your right to say it."

However, let us individually become spiritually self-reliant. It is that quality that has made the Masters what they are. It is that quality, and that quality only — true spiritual self-reliance — that has made the buddha of compassion, not the pratyeka buddha nor his long line of successors. Spiritual self-reliance: it is that quality that keeps the universe alive and in its proper position. And when anyone of us attempts to interfere with the inalienable right of another to think for himself, we are doing not only him a grave injustice, but we are doing Masters a grave injustice, as well as ourselves.

Now there have been a few members here and there who have been inclined to be alarmed because a small minority of the membership of the Society in the several national sections does not fall into the line of thought and spirit and feeling that is flowing through the TS today. There is no need for alarm. We can do exactly what we want to do, each one of us. We can work in the stream of Masters' efforts through this TS, or we don't have to. That is our privilege. And I say that in no independent sense. I'm speaking now of the very real occult fact that each one of us must be individual working units.

Each one is different, but we must learn also how to express unity in that diversity of individual personalities and characters. That is our job as a Society. First, the individual must become spiritually more self-reliant. Secondly, for our work to proceed, knowing that each individual is different, we have got to learn the keynote of how to express unity in our combined efforts in spite of the diversity of our personalities and characters. There is only one way to begin: that is from where we stand — by immediately coming to realize that we alone are responsible for our own acts; no one else is responsible.

Leaders in the past have taken action — not very often, but occasionally. On the downward arc of the century, the involution arc, it was necessary to be as lenient with every member in his position in the work as it was possible for a teacher and leader to be. When they have taken action in the form of the cancellation of memberships or any other such steps that they may have taken, those who do not know the true basis and background of a leader's responsibility considered it as a punishment. That is wrong. A teacher never, never will punish a pupil or member. He will take action, but that action is taken, however much misunderstood, to protect the member for the future, because the teacher must think in terms of lifetimes, not just this moment and this life. And there have been in the past, and there will be in the future I am sure, members who can do the same thing in theosophy as a businessman can do in business. He can accumulate profits and a fortune by wise and prudent judgment and intuition until he reaches the age when he can retire with ample to take care of himself. But then he becomes imprudent, for one reason or another, and he will take a chance. His judgment will waver. He uses his head instead of his heart, and overnight he has lost it all for this incarnation.

Well now, if theosophy is a practical thing, and we know it is and we know that Masters are very practical, the same thing can happen with our spiritual bank account. And we can by a lifetime of devotion and service and loyalty accumulate a karmic merit on the right side of a spiritual ledger of accounts, and by a wrong decision, perhaps made because someone influenced us, we lose the whole balance, and we have to start again.

Thus you can see that in a case of that kind a teacher could not feel badly except — hurt. He could not feel as though he had to punish that individual, not at all. But if he saw by isolating, by removing him from the protection of the lifeblood of that karmic stream that makes us such fiery individuals — if he sees that he has started possibly one, two, three, or a small series of misjudgments by which, if continued under the protective wing of that potent occult force flowing through this Society, he would be ruined for future work by the intensity of the karma that came upon him — then is it not the merciful thing for him to cancel that man's membership and take him out of that stream, momentarily, so that any further acts will not bring upon his head a load of karma that he will not be able to stand, and possibly ruin his work and value to the Lodge in the next incarnation? That is the only way that the teacher can think. He does not punish.

Nevertheless we must be realistic. You members of the Dutch Section have seen here this afternoon the unanimity of spirit and devotion of all the national sections, including your own. And I might say for your own general information that since the change in leadership an overwhelming response has been coming into Headquarters. I do not consider it as support of me — not at all, I am merely the servant of all of you — but the support of the new cycle and the spirit shown by the people who have written in from all over the world has indicated that only a small handful have crystallized on this, that, or the other idea, and feel they cannot get on this caravan that is moving into the future.

It has been announced that if there were time I would make myself available to answer questions. I am sorry that the time has run so late and I have yet something else to say and do. But I will do this, I promise you. I have decided this afternoon to remain in Holland long enough to be able to get acquainted with all of you who want to get acquainted with me — I will come to your lodges or to groups of lodges all over Holland before I leave. I assure you I will answer to the best of my ability, if they are answerable, any questions you may raise. I do not want to disappoint you. I have promised to answer your questions or try to, and I will, but we cannot go into that this afternoon because I have an important announcement to make at this time, which ties into everything that has taken place here today and to what I have said to the Dutch members.

This matter of individual self-reliance and of the individual responsibility of each member, if it is not recognized by a few individuals and they insist upon attempting to make you or me or anyone else think the way they do, then it is the leader's responsibility to take what action is necessary to protect the work as well as the individuals who insist upon doing that sort of thing; not as a punishment, but as a protection to the work, and a protection to those in error, and also to do his duty to the great majority of the members of the TS who have seen the light of a new era dawning on this upward arc.

Therefore, I have decided to take advantage of an Article in the Constitution which reads as follows:

The Leader shall have the right, power and authority at any time to take such steps or measures as in his judgment shall be necessary for the safeguarding of the best interests of the Theosophical Society.

Because I have a fond affection for the Dutch Section, and because the support that has come to the heart of the Movement from the great majority of the members here, I feel I owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude as well as everything in my power that I can do to protect their own interest in the work. This is, ladies and gentlemen, going to be a partnership in the real sense of the word and I am going to fight with my life for every one of you who want to make this partnership a success. I pledge that right now. And in order to be able to do that I am, as of this moment, canceling the membership of every member of the Dutch Section.

I will be in Holland at least two weeks with the Secretary General and we will receive immediately applications for renewal of your membership and record them as having had no lapse in the period of your membership in the Society. We will either endorse your present membership card or we will issue a new one. But the fact remains that you will receive a letter in the next two days inviting every member to renew his membership, stating that it has been canceled, and enclosing a little slip which you may sign saying that you want to work with this partnership for theosophy and the cause of the Masters. You may then send it in to Kirby Van Mater, the Secretary General, at the Atlanta Hotel, Rotterdam, and it will be immediately endorsed and you will have had no lapse. Those who do not care to support the new cycle and the work of the Masters through this Society, need not sign it. Now that is plain and simple, and I hope you understand that there is no punishment intended, but we must go on with the work, and if I have to do that in every Section, I will do it in every Section.

We are not going to be stymied or held back by anything. This partnership must succeed, and I must fulfill the mission given by Colonel Conger to me on his deathbed to "finish the job to its very end," and that means to the end of my life.

The first membership that I renew, with the authority of my office, is that of Fred Lindemans, President of the Dutch Section, and he will help me accomplish the rest of this mission.

I want to thank you for being Dutchmen. I love you, everyone of you, whether you believe it or not, and I am going to stay in Holland in the hope that I can meet every one of you and talk to you personally, as a brother and as a partner in this great task ahead. Thank you very much.


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