Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at Bussum

Baptist Church
April 25, 1951 — 8:00 p.m.
J. G. Crabbendam, General Chairman
H. Oosterink, Local Chairman
Jan Hoogervoorst, Translator


Mr. Crabbendam [after opening the meeting]: Well, I think it is not necessary for me to translate what I have said to the members, because it is just the same as the other days.

JAL: It sounded just the same! [Laughter]

Henk Oosterink: Our dear American brothers and members of the Theosophical Society: it is a great privilege to me to welcome you this evening in Bussum. First, because you and your party are Americans, and at this moment I will mention that our hearts are full of gratitude for what your very nobleminded and noblehearted Americans have done for our country after the time of Occupation. But what they brought when they rendered help to our country was a material help, and what you are bringing is a help on a much higher level, the spiritual one. When a man is poor because he has a lack of material possessions, he is unhappy. But it is much more terrible when a man has no spiritual treasures to lean upon. So it is a great worth for us to have you here this evening and to receive your help.

This evening is a very remarkable evening for it is exactly twenty years ago that one of your predecessors, GdeP, delivered here his first public lecture on his first journey to Europe. Many of the members who are present here will remember very well that beautiful evening, because they were then inquirers. For to be honest, the Bussum lodge existed only at that time with four members. Thus you see we have grown in the course of time.

JAL: Well, with such a warm welcome, and with the increased heat or temperature of the spiritual fire that is flowing from the hearts of the members with each successive meeting, I don't know whether I can take very much more. You speak of my leaving something here. I feel ashamed to even try, because you have already so much here. When I think of what I can give, it is so little.

I had the good fortune this evening to visit two of your older members who are in their sickbeds, and those two gentlemen are perfect representatives of what you have in Bussum and what you have in Holland: fighters, young men in their hearts, their physical vehicles not what they used to be and maybe not able to hold them much longer, but young men, strong men, who will be back soon working for theosophy in Holland. Beautiful characters — representative of the strength of character, the strength of theosophy, in Holland.

When you say we as Americans have provided something for Holland at a time of need, I don't think any of you can appreciate what you provided us in the way of an example of courage and strength of national character, and of the real spiritual stamina that you exemplified in coming through that ordeal. We in America have a lot to learn in that direction so that I think really the scales are much more heavily balanced the other way round, Henk. That is my sincere feeling. We may have given you some material things, but you have given us an example of the spirit in action which will last for centuries.

As usual I made no plans for this evening, and decided to allow the unfolding of that daily karmic script to tell me what to do and it does not fail. I have here three questions that some young lady had on her mind. I did not want to ask her to read them because I understand and can appreciate the fact that some people find it difficult to speak in public, if they have never spoken or taken part in a group discussion. But when I read these questions I knew then what I wanted to start this meeting with. It is a shame that I do not even know the young lady's name, but she certainly deserves a lot of credit for thinking about questions such as these, and I want to talk about them for a few moments.

The first one: "Could it be possible to give us at the beginning of this new cycle a better insight, a better view, or a better opinion, into the causes of the crisis that exists in the world today?"

The second one: "And can you give us a lead on the way in which we as FTS can help to bring this crisis to a good solution?"

And the third, and they are all really one question: "What possibilities have we as theosophists therefore, and which of the methods to be used are the most effective?"

These three questions, and what we might consider in connection with them, tie in directly I think with the opening remarks of Brother Oosterink. The first question: what can I give in the way of insight at the beginning of this new cycle as to the cause of the situation, the difficulties in the world today? Well, my first reaction to that is that it does not require any insight. There is only one thing that causes trouble in the hearts of men, and that is selfishness, self-centeredness, whether of an individual, a lodge, a society, an organization, or whether of a nation — it doesn't matter. Selfishness is at the root of all difficulty, and at the opposite pole the solution of any difficulty is unselfishness or selflessness.

However, they are simple words to state. We know they are true but, as an example, what body of men sitting around the large table of the Political Committee assembled at Lake Success at New York in the United Nations are going to listen to that and solve their problems? I have been there. I know how they work because in 1946 when I was with the State Department I was sent to the United Nations at Flushing and Lake Success as an advisor to the United States Delegation to the General Assembly. I was there nearly eight weeks. Some of the delegates do present a national unselfishness, but not all are so motivated.

I do not like to speak of international politics on a theosophical platform. Let us rather think in terms of principles. The whole international problem has been and is the result of selfishness in one form or another: ambition, to get power for oneself alone or one nation alone, instead of for the benefit of all men. But you cannot talk to a group of men at the United Nations, you cannot talk to the top officials of any government in those terms. There is, however, a way that we can correct the situation — it won't happen overnight, of course not, but it will happen — and that is by each one of us being better citizens of the respective countries in which we live, better citizens from the standpoint of what theosophy gives us in order to help us to become better citizens of the nation to which we are karmically attached.

To the degree that we as members of the Society exemplify theosophy in our daily lives — wherever we may be, in Holland, Germany, England, the United States, it doesn't matter — and really live theosophy in our hearts, we will begin to attract more and more citizens who will become likewise. And we will begin to throw into that reservoir of thought that I spoke of last night at Amsterdam, quantities of seeds of thought of unselfishness rather than selfishness. Those thoughts that float around in that reservoir are easily picked up by anyone who has a tendency to think a little bit unselfishly himself. We haven't the slightest idea of how really strong a right thought and a right spiritual gesture or attitude is when it breaks through into the outer plane. We have seen how bad thoughts affect people when they are picked up by someone else. But good thoughts with the true force of the spiritual will behind them will do far, far more.

Now let us try to bring this whole matter a little closer to our TS and see how we can really help. I think we can learn a little from my own experience in government circles, which has not been extensive, but my profession is the type that it did get me into all departments of the government at all levels of organization, and I did have an opportunity to see how government functions. I would like to say this as a basis for what expression I want to make in a moment. Let us never believe that the party in power is the one that actually makes the wheels of government go. They are there, yes, chosen in a democracy by the people, but they come and go, one party one time, another party another time; one group of officials one time, another group of officials another time. I don't care what nation you speak of, there are changes and changes, but there is something that stays there all the time: those quiet, unheralded, unrewarded individuals who are working for their nation as civil servants, if you will, without party affiliation of any kind, but who are interested solely in good government. Some, I admit, are interested only in their paychecks, but I am talking about the real people who keep the wheels of the government going. They are the nonmembers of the Movement in our different governmental organizations. They are as selfless as any group of individuals I have ever met. They get kicked around and pushed around, but yet they stick to their job and work for the best interests of the government they love. That doesn't apply only to the clerical worker, but it applies to some of the high-level officials and executives who are in the background of the temporary figures who are elected or appointed; and it is they who provide the elected officials with the basis and the background for their decisions.

Now, it doesn't require too much imagination to see that those individuals are in a position really to do a lot of good for their nation and for mankind. It is those men whom the Masters of the Great White Lodge keep an eye on, and once in a while one or the other of those background officials and selfless workers will get a "touch on the shoulder" at a critical time, at a time when that touch on the shoulder will turn the balance of the scales in favor of progress rather than retrogression.

The big problem today is the fact that we are at the midpoint of the century, or beyond it, and the dark forces, those elements of destruction which are interested in tearing down and not in building up, are putting forth every effort to hold back the progress that the positive forces would make. They don't stop at any means to do it. Anyone who allows this, and allows his consciousness to dip down to that level of operation, will get caught for the time just as a fish gets caught in a net.

Now that is what we have in the background in the international situation. This young lady has stirred up a peck of trouble with her question! It is a question that I can answer halfway only. But that is going on all the time. And when you mix up a whole group of individuals, good, bad, and indifferent, in that seething caldron, with some completely ambitious and selfish, some completely unambitious and unselfish, and others of all different shades in between, you see that it is quite a problem on the surface. But one ounce of complete unselfishness does really weigh much more than one pound of selfishness, because selfishness is not attached to the same root of truth that unselfishness is. Selfishness is attached to that which is below, of the earth earthy, heavy in a material way but very, very light in a spiritual way. Unselfishness is attached to that which is above, very light materially but attached to that which is very, very weighty spiritually. Thus when the two come together there is no question as to what happens: and the ways and means that the forces of destruction use are unlimited. They are not regulated by karma in the high sense that the constructive forces are. They can do as they please. They do not have to follow an unselfish pattern, whereas the forces of light and construction, if they are that, will not work against the natural unfoldment of the law of karma. They will work with karma, and they will do nothing but constructive work. We find that battle going on in the circles of international relations today. And I don't mean politically, I mean it in the real sense.

Now here is where we as theosophists of the Theosophical Society come into the picture: by forgetting ourselves and thinking of our fellowmen. To the degree that we, as individuals and as a collective group in the TS in the world, can exemplify and bring about that spiritual unity in the diversity of our own personalities and efforts, to that degree will the spiritual force created by that effort have such an impact on the world at large that it will make available for the Masters more and more of the spiritual strength from that reservoir so that they will touch more and more individuals on the shoulder in those circles where it counts most. Of course they won't touch someone who is a selfish individual, but those silent workers who are working for the benefit of their fellow citizens have an unselfish streak in them which creates a form of buddhic light, actual buddhic light. To the degree that they are unselfish will they be attracted to the Masters. The Masters will help. They never fail. Because for every step we take in Masters' direction, Masters and the White Lodge must go that far in our direction. They will never fail us, individually or collectively. For every effort we make in our spiritual will for pure theosophy, or the White Lodge, they are forced to come that much closer to us.

Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom.

Mrs. Bonset: Colonel Conger gave a document to Mr. Hartley in which he declared Mr. Hartley as his successor. We feel that as strange for Colonel Conger, but know, of course, that a leader does not need a document, because a leader comes to the foreground as a cork in the water comes to the surface. We think Mr. Hartley must have known this too. We can find it in our teachings in which often it is said that a leader is, and is not chosen. Was it a test for Mr. Hartley and maybe also for the TS, and to test the intuition of every individual in the TS? We mean of every member. Is it done on purpose, and maybe with a certain object?

JAL: As I heard the question my mind again went back to the statement that the "Lord works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform." The chief question it seems to me is the last. You make a statement of facts, and then ask the question: Is this to be considered a test? Anyone who has been in the Theosophical Society very long knows that every day of his life, from the time he wakes in the morning until he goes to sleep at night, is a series of tests.

Of course it was a test, and the biggest test of all was not mentioned in the question: the test for one JAL. Not when I took over the leadership at the Cabinet meeting — that was not the test for me. I knew what to do there. That was no test. The test for me was in 1946 when Colonel Conger told me in confidence that he gave that document to Mr. Hartley and what was in it. It was a test, a terrific test. And for two days and two nights I was half crazy, did not sleep, until I could get my consciousness and my heart and my mind to the point where I could visualize Mr. Hartley as leader and work under him with an open heart and an open mind. That was a test for me. But I did it. I never told a soul what was in that document. But you know the rest of the story. I have nothing to say about Mr. Hartley. It has been obvious that he revealed the contents of that document. It was obvious in the Cabinet meetings that I went to see him twice to fulfill a responsibility, and he refused to produce the document. I am giving you the facts. He refused to produce it before the Cabinet, the only authorized link in the Constitution that exists after the passing of the leader.

Yes, it was a test in many ways, but in reality from another standpoint, the biggest test was for Mr. Hartley himself.

Now the question comes, and is implied in this rather than asked: Why would Colonel give such a document in the first place? And since he did give it, why did he not refute it before he died? He had all the opportunity in the world. I talked to the Colonel about it several times. Now what I am going to tell you I have not told anyone, and you will have to use your own intuition and judgment. To the question, why did Colonel Conger write the document in the first place, the truthful answer is that Master M asked him to do so. Why did he not cancel it in the latter place when he had ample opportunity? The answer comes because Master M did not ask him to. That is the truth.

The Masters are very practical individuals, as I have said every time I have talked this week. I think all of you here and all with whom I have spoken in these meetings have been able to see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts the marvelous job that has been and is being done for the Masters and the Theosophical Society by that document. It was a godsend to the Movement, and the Master knew what he was doing. Who are we to criticize him? I am not. Sure, it has been a test; and it has been a test to everyone, everyone. But thank goodness, the overwhelming number have passed the test.

I say all of this in defense of Colonel Conger and his actions, because some members have criticized the Colonel for not rescinding the document. I say it not for myself. I don't know if that answers the question or not, Mrs. Bonset, but that is about as far as I can go.

Mrs. Bonset: Thank you very much.

JAL: I received a very beautiful letter the other day, in which a member asked a few questions and made a few statements, and then ended up by asking the question whether it was all right for a member to raise questioning points in a letter to the leader, whether that was being loyal and so forth? It was a beautiful spirit, and I would like to take this opportunity to say this, that when the day comes that a member, any member anywhere, who being sincere in his heart cannot write to the leader and speak out his mind, regardless of what it is, that man is not the leader of the Theosophical Society, and the Theosophical Society is not worth having one. So don't hesitate, any one of you who has any questions, any differences of opinion, to write, and I will discuss them honestly with you. The questions asked in this letter I think were covered in the early part of our talk this evening on the international situation. The young man did not think it was wise to use the term "fifth column" in connection with theosophical difficulties. I should only like to add this: there is no more perfect term that can be used under certain circumstances. A fifth column as we have grown to know it has been that activity carried on under the cloak of sincerity and honesty and attachment to a given organization or function, by an individual or group of individuals, while utilizing that cloak and that protection to carry on activities that are working harm to the very organization which is giving that individual or group protection. That is what a real fifth column is.

There are fifth columns operating today in the various countries, and let us not for one moment think that the Theosophical Society is exempt from such a thing. The very fact that we are strong spiritually causes us to be attacked in various ways — from within especially. There is only one way that we can face these things, and that is by being honest with ourselves. I certainly do not want to feel that we are going to have always to be looking out for this, that, and the other thing. That is not working for theosophy. We can forget all about that now. That is past and gone. And especially in Holland, you all made a very bold and marvelous stroke in the right direction. And if we do our duty there will be no danger of any further fifth column work in the TS in Holland, or any place else. We must be realistic. The devil does not lose any opportunity to do his work, and as time goes on to the 1975 period, and even beyond, we are going to have to be more and more alert. If we don't love our theosophy, then let us forget all about it. But if we do, we are going to stand up and fight for it with our lives, because that is going to save humanity. And we cannot do so if we have a fifth column in our organization, trying to ruin humanity. We want to save humanity, not ruin it.

Question: How is it that the dark forces do not have to reckon with karma? I thought everything was karma.

JAL: I did not make my earlier statement sufficiently clear. In principle, the dark forces disregard the positive aspects of the law of karma to do their dark work. They would not be dark forces if they did not. But let me explain a little bit in order to clarify the matter. While the dark forces can, generally speaking, disregard karma to do their work, ultimately their actions catch up with them. They cannot really affect the working of the law of karma, but they can disregard it momentarily.

Let me use the following for example. Suppose you went to a Master, let us say, and you had a question to ask of him which was a very important question in your life. You had some problem, but the Master saw at a glance that you were not ready for his answer because of your karma, and because of the karma of your past lives, and that you had not yet suffered enough and had not reached the point at which an answer given by him would mean enough. So he did not give it, or maybe he gave just a little.

However, if it were the opposite of a Master to whom you came, he would disregard what your past life had been, or what your karma indicated, so long as he could get you to work for him.

Now that is just the simplest example, but that works on the big scale just the same. The Masters of Compassion are really compassionate in the true sense, and compassion, my friends, does not mean going around with a long-tailed coat, smiling to everybody and looking half sick with piety. Compassion is having the courage in your heart to tell a friend: "Look, brother, that is wrong. I love you just the same, but that is wrong." Compassion isn't being sweet and nice all of the time. Compassion requires a good fight once in a while, and when the membership doesn't have the gumption to stand up and fight for the right motive, then it doesn't deserve much. The right motive is never wasted. It is the motive that counts always. The action is insignificant, for the motive is the important thing.

Now for goodness' sake, do not tell everybody in Holland that I am encouraging a fight. Not that kind! But we have used that word at Headquarters in our committees when, before Colonel Conger died, the staff would fight like cats and dogs, as the saying goes, for the right answer to a problem, and not one of us would give up our idea until a better one came along. But when we saw a better one, then we would immediately jump to it, and usually came out with the right answer. If we didn't, the Colonel would certainly set us back on our heels. Now in your lodge work, talk things over. Do not be afraid to disagree. There is a great deal to be gained from disagreement so long as you have the one objective, to do the best thing for theosophy, and put your own feelings in the background. If anyone of us holds on to an idea because we want our idea accepted, and not the best one, then we are going to run into difficulty always.

I should like to go back again to the statement about the dark forces, and give one more example which may illustrate the particular point I had in mind. I hope I do not offend anyone who may be interested in Christian Science, but I use this illustration as a constructive criticism of this aspect of Christian Science. There have been innumerable cases where a Christian Scientist, or their so-called practitioners, have healed a given physical difficulty in one of their members, and sometimes the members do it themselves. The danger is that this is damming back karma that will come out sometime in the future. Just exactly as if you try to heal a boil on your arm from the outside before it breaks, it will only break out in some other place. The same thing is true with karma. If we don't take our karma as it comes and work it through, we have only to meet it again with interest. I don't mean not to take medicine, but I mean that we should not by mental power push a disease back into the mental plane once it has reached the physical plane. That is pure occult common sense even though error does begin and end in the mind. Thus we can easily dam it back with our mental energy if we will. It will come out again with more force than if we had worked it out when it naturally came, which latter would be working white magic, not black.

Mrs. Versfelt: Why is it so very difficult to reach and touch the heart of people by theosophy so that they become members? Is that our fault that we do not try sincerely enough to live as theosophists?

JAL: That is an excellent question to end up on tonight, and it is really why we are here, why I am in Holland. I wish I had the words to do it justice. In this new cycle of work we have got to become more and more conscious of our responsibility in the world, and that responsibility is not primarily the getting of new members. New members will come in as the result of our carrying out our responsibility. If each one of us thinks back to what it was that brought us into theosophy, I think we shall find very few exceptions to these circumstances which I will relate. We met someone who appealed to us. We no doubt had been having some troubles, some difficulties, in our way of life, either in business or at home, or personally in some way, and we were trying to solve these problems, seeking a way of solution. One day we met someone who seemed to us to have an understanding a little beyond our own. We made it our business to find out more of what it was that that individual had that we did not have. After a while we found out that he was a student of theosophy, and a little while later we began to study theosophy and understand it, and became a member.

That is a very crude expression of how I came into theosophy after trying to find the answers to my problems in the various church congregations, Christian Science, and other things. Therefore, in the final analysis if we do our one-pointed duty as men and theosophists, as Colonel Conger put it, we will be fulfilling our responsibility as members of the TS.

As an additional thought and aside here: I don't know if you have ever observed that the things that truly count in life, the things that we have enjoyed most, are those things which we can call by-products of something that we have done of a spiritual or really good character. And when those things do come, they are so much more enjoyable and very much more effective. Now membership, and the getting of members, should be, and I hope it will become so, a by-product of our living the theosophic life, individually and together. What is theosophy anyway? It is a system of character building. And to get back to the Christian sacred scriptures, it is living the Golden Rule: doing unto others as we would have them do unto ourselves. There isn't anyone in this world who can convince me that if we as individual members of this TS tried to really live the Golden Rule with the background of theosophy that we have, we would not set the world on fire pretty quickly. Now it is hard to live the Golden Rule. It is hard to be real theosophists. Not one of us is anywhere near perfect. We have a long way to go. But what we do know and what we do have, let us put to work. I don't mean in sanctimonious conversation with this person and that person. Let us be real men and real women, and think of the other fellow before we think of ourselves. If any one of us could really try that for 24 hours or for one waking day, we would be astonished at the results. None of us does it — I am not saying that criticizingly; we have a long way to go, but many of you do it a good many hours of that day, and maybe all of them, I don't know. But if we consider theosophy, what it really is, a system of character building that will one day make of us a counterpart of Masters and even beyond, we never will have to worry about members.

In 1939 or 1940 in Washington when I had been talking with Colonel Conger for about two hours about how we could get more members, and he had listened very patiently, he said when I finished: "Mr. Long, the day will come when we won't have to worry about the membership, for it will be quite the thing to be a member of the Theosophical Society. Our problem then will be not how to get members, but how to keep out the undesirable ones." Now that was not an unkind statement, but he was showing it as something to guard against when the time came. For one day it will be quite the thing to be a member of the Theosophical Society, because the membership throughout the world is taking their responsibility seriously, and because of that they will attract wide attention in their respective circles, and more and more people will want to become members. That is why we are changing the basis of becoming a member, and will change it as time goes on, not to make it hard or impossible for an inquirer to join the Society, but to make it an understanding thing in his own heart and mind rather than just a matter of signing an application and sending it in.

Living the Golden Rule is the answer. It is the answer to the international situation. It is the answer to the real progress of mankind. It is for us in the Theosophical Society to live our theosophy to the best of our ability and to think a little more of the other fellow, and not worry about ourselves. That is real theosophy in action. Then we will have, as Colonel said, a unique fraternity.

The Masters are not missing a thing. They are very close to us all, and as we do our job and fulfill our responsibility we need have no worries about what they will provide. They are right there. All we have to do is to take our steps in their direction, and they will come toward us.

Thank you all very much.

The meeting closed at 10:30 p.m.

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