Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at Utrecht

April 26, 1951 — 8 p.m.
J. G. Crabbendam, General Chairman
Henk L. van Aller, Local Chairman
Jan Hoogervoorst, Translator


Mr. Crabbendam welcomed the members and then, addressing the leader, tells him that as he was coming in he was handed a letter by one of the members, which he now would like to read:
"It is known that our leaders have pledged themselves never to ask anything for themselves and never to bring forward anything in their own personal defence. In this respect they fully depend on the intelligence and devotion of the members of the staff at Headquarters and all other members. The following thought expressed by Mr. Long during his last stay here in our country is in my opinion of great value in this connection. I should like to repeat it here now. Mr. Long's words came down to the following:

"Every time we make contact with another there are two possibilities: either we give or bring something to the other, or we come to receive something from the other. Mr. Long said these words with regard to Colonel Conger who was visited day by day by a flood of people of whom it was understandable that they came rather to receive than to give. Colonel Conger, bound by his pledge, was not authorized to change the situation. This fact was also considered as one of the possible reasons why Headquarters were removed to Pasadena.

"Dear Leader, I am very grateful for those words and I hope I will remember them during every contact. They will help me not to be too desirous of receiving. They gave me to understand that if we continue to work for the self-confidence in our higher self, as pointed out by you in Utrecht, there will be an ever increasing certainty, trusting in the karmic law, that all questions will be answered in due time in our hearts.

"We have now our new leader in our midst, bound by the same pledge. May intelligence and devotion surround him!"

JAL: That is a beautiful gesture and expression.

Mr. Crabbendam then introduced the president of Utrecht Lodge as the Local Chairman.

H. L. van Aller: May I welcome you, for you come to Utrecht for the second time, and I must thank you for all you have done already for us, and for all that you will do in the future, not alone for us but more especially for mankind. I hope that I speak for all of our members, and I know that I speak for most of them, when I say that we will try to do our best to become good instruments for the Masters and to help you with your work, and to make theosophy a living factor in our lives.

JAL: Thank you very much, Brother van Aller. No welcome that anyone could receive could be any better than that stated by Brother van Aller, when he says that you will do all you can to help your fellowmen. That is our big job.

You will have to excuse my voice tonight. It is not too fiery, but I will try to get it warmed up after a while. I caught a little cold somewhere along the line.

But first, Brother van Aller, I want to modify one of your statements. This happens to be my seventh time in Utrecht! Three times on my first trip; and this is the fourth time I have been in Utrecht on this trip. So many things have this evening, within a few minutes in fact, pointed to the keynote that should be struck here tonight: the letter that Crab read, the welcome by Brother van Aller, and my seventh visit to Utrecht.

I spoke last night in answer to a question about the fifth column. I will speak no more about the fifth column. But I will speak tonight with a few opening words about what I like to think of as the seventh column. But let us not go out and use this phrase that I am using tonight, because it will be completely misunderstood. I want to use it tonight in order to express a few thoughts to you. I mentioned this term, as I come to think of it now, several years ago to Colonel Conger, and he said he thought it was a fine idea. At that time I was going to write an article on it, but with the political situation as it has been, he suggested that I not use it as it might jeopardize the work of the Society. That was several years ago. But the thought fits in perfectly, and I use the term, not to be used again by you, just to express the concept that is in my mind and that seems to have rolled itself into a good-sized idea that will help you and me to see the real work of our Theosophical Society as it actually should be carried on from the individual point of view.

The work of this seventh column is the direct opposite of the other column. Those members of the TS, and those members who are direct agents of the Great White Lodge — and I am not speaking now of leaders, I am speaking of their agents in the world, and there are plenty of them — the way they work for Masters' cause and the way many, many FTS work for theosophy is in the stream of what I am calling tonight the seventh column: unknown, unrecognized, unobtrusive, self-effacing, desiring no credit, desiring nothing except the advancement of Masters' work. You see them, here and there, and you do recognize them sometimes, doing this job and that job. It may be a menial job, it may be, metaphorically, drying the tear from a companion's eye. They do not ask for orders; they do not seek encouragement. They have only one objective: the spiritual advancement of the TS and the human race.

I have seen a great many of them in Holland. When the Congress took place on the 15th of this month, we all know the feelings of trepidation and anxiety that were in the hearts of many members in Holland. I know from remarks that I overheard, which were later made to me, that there was anxiety as to what might take place when I asked for this series of meetings in order to get better acquainted with our Dutch companions, and to think out loud with you. Well, they may not realize it, but I do, that the seventh column went to work immediately: quietly, probably not one of them said anything to anyone else. I have noticed their protection, the safeguard that has been thrown up at these meetings in the event anyone or any force attempted to interfere with the straightforward truthful presentation of theosophy that we have tried to make. Silently, strongly, in the background, but yet in the foreground, the representatives of the seventh column have kept theosophy alive for these seventy-five or seventy-six years, and will keep it alive for many, many more.

There is nothing formal about the seventh column that I speak of. There is no badge; there is no recognition of any kind. There is no organization; they see their job and they do it. I speak of it as an ideal that each one of us as members of the Theosophical Society might strive to attain. It is that complete selfless sacrifice and devotion that a member gives, not seeking recognition, not seeking even the satisfaction of knowing he did his job and helped a little bit, which contributes a terrific amount to that spiritual reservoir that the Masters have to work with.

There is today throughout the Society more of that type of activity than there ever has been in the TS. If it were not so, we would not have pulled through the four or five years of the pit of this century. Colonel Conger had to meet the opposition head on, but thank the gods the seventh column, as I refer to it, came through.

At the pit of Colonel Conger's great trial — I don't know if I can tell you this story — at the pit of his great trial, I flew out to California on one of my visits. Prior to that I never knew exactly why I had to go out, but I always found out very shortly after I landed that I was there for a purpose. But on this trip I did not know and I did not find out. I was there a day, 24 hours, and half way through the second day when I said to the Colonel: "Colonel, I never know why I am supposed to come out here, but I usually find out in a few minutes after I arrive. On this trip I have not yet found out why I am here."

And he looked at me and said: "You are familiar with the story of Pilgrim's Progress?"

I said "Yes, I am, Colonel. I don't know what you have in mind, what part of it."

He said: "Well, you have come to rescue a brother from the slough of despond." And then I knew. The Colonel was very lonely. He was faced with a decision, a decision how to handle the situation that was confronting him in the TS. He saw members devoted for a long time become blind — mentally, spiritually, and almost physically — who had chosen a will-o'-the-wisp. He wanted to do something to try to save them, but he did not know what to do. Those who felt they could not recognize him were scattering about all kinds of tales — lies and lies upon lies. I will try to repeat his decision as he repeated it to Dr. Osvald Siren of Sweden, when Dr. Siren visited him in Washington a year afterwards. He said: "I had two choices. Either I could speak the truth and the whole truth, and prove the liars to be what they were, or I could remain silent and trust in the intuition of the old and devoted members. I chose the latter course." His choice paid dividends, because those old and devoted members were those members whom I refer to as the seventh column in the TS, that seventh column that has saved the TS in the past, saved it in Colonel Conger's time, and has already saved it this time. And I thank all of you.

Henk Lindemans: When I heard for the first time of the partnership, I asked myself what can be the reason in a Society which held the idea of brotherhood, to bring in the new term partnership? I am persuaded that the leader had a specific meaning, and I would like to ask him whether he would be willing to explain the special meaning he had when he used that term for the first time.

JAL: Thanks very much, Henk. I will try to do it as briefly as I can, and yet as comprehensively as I can, because obviously there isn't anything that is done in the stream of Masters' work that has just one meaning to it and one reason behind it — someone said there must be at least seven, and there might be ten or twelve, and if you keep on there might be seven times seven, and seven times that! In reality the TS has always been a partnership; but the membership never recognized it as such. That is one simple statement. And yet they did recognize it as such; but during the period from 1875 until 1939-42, that partnership was more or less a hope, a hope that might one day become a practical working device. But we were then on the downward arc, as we have referred to it, which is the key to many of the things that have taken place in the past five to seven years. During the last five years we have experienced the transition from the receiving to the giving end of theosophy. Those of us who have been in the Society a little while, and even those who have been in only a short time, have heard much of the ideals of a working brotherhood, or the formation of a nucleus of a universal brotherhood. Sad to relate, in some instances brotherhood in the TS has taken on more or less the form of lip-service. Now I don't say that has been the case all through the TS, but here and there. Yet as Henk Lindemans pointed out, brotherhood is a partnership. If we follow the cycles within the bigger cycle, we can very easily trace a certain characteristic in the administrations of HPB and Mr. Judge and KT, and then not necessarily a repetition, but somewhat of a revivification in part, of the HPB cycle in GdeP, and of the Judge force in Colonel Conger, getting down to practical occultism. I will not attempt to indicate what may happen now, because I have already felt in this short time that there are about 16 sticks of dynamite all rolled up in one ready to burst inside of me!

Mr. Crabbendam: This is a dangerous place for me to sit here!

JAL: No, but I like to inject a little humor too. Really, it has been our responsibility at this time in the history of the Society to look realistically at the brotherhood within our own ranks to begin with, and then set an example of a real partnership and a real brotherhood, a working partnership, so that the world can look on and say: "Those fellows have something. They are not just talking about it. They are doing it." That is one of the reasons I have made such a point of the partnership.

In the past, and up to this transition period that Colonel Conger initiated, the membership, and rightfully so, in most cases looked to the leaders to tell them what to do, where to go, and how to do it, and it was perfectly all right because that was the receiving end of theosophy. But we are past that period. We are now in the giving end. Well, the men will have to buckle up their belts one notch further, and the ladies knit a little faster, and all of us go to work in this partnership. I cannot say what to do, how to do, or when to do. But if we take seriously my little ditty about the daily karmic script and its unfolding, we will never be at a loss as to what to do, when to do, and how to do.

In reality, instead of a leader telling the membership just what to do, and instead of pouring out new teachings and so forth, the membership is asked to participate with the leader in pouring out and giving out the teachings. In so doing you will discover that to the degree that that job is done in the true spirit of the time, will you attract new teachings, possibly beyond your expectations. You may not receive them in any formal sense, because as one lady said, and I repeat it again, the form is going down and the spirit is coming up. You will get them, but in no formal way, and you won't fail to recognize them when you receive them in the silence, or in some other quarter. I could go on and talk and talk and talk, but I think that maybe I have said enough to answer your question. If not, please try again, and I will try to answer some more.

Mr. H. Lindemans: Thank you so much.

Hans Kooistra: Would it be better to state for a new member, instead of believing in brotherhood in nature, to believe in a hierarchical structure in the cosmos? For we have seen in the past that some members have very comical thoughts about brotherhood, and it would be better to bring the idea more into the reality of their being. Is this clear?

JAL: Very clear to me, and I am sorry I am going to have to disappoint Mr. Kooistra. This is no criticism of you, but the day that we take brotherhood off of our slogan, no matter how many people laugh at it, is the day I want to leave the Theosophical Society. That is an absolutely bald statement. It is just the same as if we said: "People are afraid of theosophy because they see people down the street making psychic fools of themselves, and I don't want any parts of it." It is just the same as if we say we want to stop using the name of theosophy and say that we belong to a School of International Philosophy, or something like that; as though we wanted to take down the theosophic flag! We must show what brotherhood is, and then they won't laugh at it. Do you understand?

I hope you don't feel that this is any criticism at all, but that is a very important point. We have had in the history of the Society all kinds of requests to change the name, and to change the objects, and all of that sort of thing. You might as well say we don't want anything to do with you, Master M and Master KH. We want somebody else to run the TS. It is the same thing.

Now, don't be afraid to ask questions. I won't be rough on all of them! [Laughter]

Anneke Goud: May I ask this question about Greek theology? Orestes killed his mother to revenge his father. He was persecuted by the Eumenides. Oedipus killed his father and married his mother, partially unconsciously and partially consciously because he was warned by the Oracle of Delphi. Oedipus when he got blind went to Colonus, a wood consecrated to the Eumenides. I would like to ask if you could tell us the esoteric meaning of these two stories, and is there any connection between them? Because I was puzzled by it, and when you lay them next to each other, you see a difference and a resemblance.

JAL: May I ask you a question in turn? How long have you been in theosophy?

Miss Goud: I was at Point Loma years ago, and I have always been interested in it.

JAL: And have you been studying it all the time, and have you studied the ancient Mysteries?

Your question is a very good one, and an interesting one, and I will say briefly that there is a connection and there is a definite symbolic esoteric meaning that ties in closely to the esoteric teachings of theosophy. But for me to attempt in a meeting of this kind to go into the various symbolic ramifications in order to satisfy the questioner's mind would take too long. And I would have to know more about what you have studied, and what has given you the trouble, and what is not clear to you, so that I could make clear to your own mind what is missing there for an understanding of it. I do not think it would be fair to the other members here to attempt to answer further than to say the following: All of these stories in the Greek mythology and the Scandinavian mythology, etc., are in the same class as the Christian scriptures. They are stories of experiences either during, before, or after initiation. If you can read them knowing that they are in reality stories of the inner birth of the soul which have come down from our own school of teachers in different ages, you will be able to find the keys.

I might just add this thought: the real key to the answer is that which you will find in the Bhagavad-Gita when Krishna enjoins Arjuna apparently to slay his relatives and friends and teachers. The same principle is there. All of these individuals, as well as all of those characters named in the Greek mythologies, represent certain qualities, certain elements, that need to be raised or slain in the course of initiation. Therein you will find the basic key, I believe.

Now Miss Knoche has specialized in the Greek and ancient Mysteries, and I will ask her if she cares to add a point. Perhaps if we have a chance before we leave Holland we could see you privately, and could talk about these things. Miss Knoche, do you care to say anything further?

Grace F. Knoche: I hardly feel it necessary to add very much, because the leader here has given the broad principle to follow in his last statement, in attempting to understand or interpret any of these ancient mythologies: that they represent certain qualities, certain elements, such as Orestes, the struggling human soul who is attempting to avenge the wrong done to his Father, or higher self, by his Mother, here the passionate earthly self, etc. If Miss Goud would look up the old files of The Theosophical Path in the 'twenties, probably 1922, 1924, and 1927 when Katherine Tingley ran a series of photographs of her production of the Eumenides, she will find a fairly detailed account of the usual theosophical interpretation given not only to the various characters but to the plot in general of this particular drama of Aeschylus.

Hans Kooistra: You said at the Congress in Utrecht that a spiritual force that formerly flowed through the Esoteric Section now is going to flow through the TS. Why is this? Is it because the TS now has become such a refined instrument that it is worthy, or is it that the world situation makes it necessary?

JAL: I believe it was just this past Sunday, at Zwolle, that I answered a similar question, but I am glad to express a thought or two here. I did not say it was going to flow through the TS; I said that it was flowing through the TS. We do not have to wait for that, that is already born. When this Lodge force starts moving, you cannot stop it, and you cannot tell it to wait until you have a chance to analyze what happened, as someone put it, since October 5th, 1950!*

*[The date that Colonel Conger and his immediate staff, the TS Archives, and the TS and ES offices were officially moved from the international headquarters at Covina, California, to the new headquarters in Pasadena, California.]

You have in reality answered your own question. There is never just one reason for an action by the White Lodge. Certainly the world needs it; certainly the TS membership has earned it, or they would not get it. But let us not misunderstand what is meant by that. I think I explained at the Congress fairly clearly, though I could not go into details, that the Esoteric Section was closed. I was not speaking about the Esoteric School. The Esoteric School was in existence long before the TS was ever formed, and if the TS should happen to pass out of the picture as the TS, the Esoteric School will continue in existence. I am not going to nor am I privileged to explain the detailed modus operandi in which the FTS can make himself available for direct individual consideration with regard to the Esoteric School. I have given several hints during the course of these talks and meetings. The one was that the time has come when a member of the School in South America will recognize a member of the School from any other nation without the need of signs or passwords. I have also given a hint, and a very big one, in this partnership idea; and I have given a hint in repeating and repeating the Colonel's statement of doing our one-pointed duty as men, citizens, and theosophists, which he followed up by saying that by doing that task, one-pointedly, impersonally, the member would find himself one day associated in a unique fraternity.

I don't know what more I can say. I have really given a key thought when we talk about making theosophy a living power in our lives, for the Master himself has said that for every step we take in his direction, he is compelled to take a step in ours. The day of form is passed, and the day of spirit is here.

These are many, many hints, and just because I pass them over in a talk or in an answer to a question, does not mean that they are not important. This is a period of practical occultism where we put our theosophy to work in a practical and simple way, using our intuitions and judgment, not our reason and sentimentality. Put all these things together, analyze them, think about them, and you may get an answer, a direct answer. Thank you.

Mr. H. Lindemans: I would like to ask the leader what change he sees in the new procedures he is introducing here in the working of the Society? I myself thought that a national secretary was only another name for a national president; and because the national secretary would be helped by a body of people, what change is involved with the thought? Would you be so kind as to explain?

JAL: Yes, I will be glad to, Henk. Let us not think of it in terms of the Dutch Section. Let us think of it in terms of any national section with a national board. The difference is this: we are getting away from the form and getting into the true spirit of a practical working hierarchy through the TS. We can go to nature and see many examples in the hierarchical structure. Take a tree: it has its branches attached directly to the trunk from where it gets its lifeblood. There is nothing between a branch and the trunk — no national organization, no national president, no general council, no executive committee — nothing there to stop the flow of the life force from the trunk to the smallest branch. There will be nothing there in this new arrangement. But there will be life-atoms, if you will, who represent channels of spiritual force and practical working force that will allow the stream of the lifeblood to flow out from the Headquarters to the national secretaries and from them to the members, which will then come back to Headquarters. To the degree that we eliminate all forms, all the formality, from the Esoteric Section down to the national sections, and every other aspect of formality — for formality is passing out of the picture in our work — to that degree will we develop a unique fraternity, a unique partnership, such as has never been born before. Does that answer your question, Henk?

Mr. H. Lindemans: I think so. But I thought the national president should be a channel for the forces coming from Headquarters, and he should have the absolute trust of the leader, otherwise he would not be the right national president. When I change that name from national president to national secretary, I don't see what we in reality are changing.

JAL: Well, I will try again, Henk. And what about the members of the board, Crab? They were elected in Holland, for instance. They would now be appointed by the leader. Does that make any difference?

Mr. Crabbendam: In this new arrangement not only the national secretary but the committee would be appointed by the leader. This is a great difference.

JAL: I would like to answer that second point this way, and I think you will understand what I mean. Using again the tree as an example, do the leaves provide the trunk with the branch, or does the trunk provide food to the branch? Now I don't mean to imply by all of this change that there is going to be anything like regimentation of the TS, or any dictatorship. Not at all; just the opposite of that. That is why it is a partnership. It cannot be a dictatorship and remain a partnership. But if I did nominate someone on a committee, it is not because I have selected that individual. Let us keep that in mind. I will make no selections of individuals, whether they be national secretaries, working committees, a recorder, or a treasurer, or anything else. I will not select them, but I will name them. They will select themselves to the best of my recognition. And likewise, as I said in one of the other meetings, I hope that every branch will select their branch presidents on the same basis. Throw away the idea of a branch president being elected by a majority vote. Sit down together, and work it out. There will be among each group one individual — and I don't mean a guru, not at all; I mean somebody who really is of a selfless devoted character — who will act as a nucleus, as a focal point for the work of that lodge, and who will himself remain more or less in the background, apart from it. The real lodge president will attempt to get to know his members and help them to help themselves. That is working theosophically. We cannot help anybody by doing something for them. Never. That is not theosophy. We only give them a crutch to lean on. Then if somebody takes that crutch out from under them, they will fall flat on their faces, and then they will say theosophy is terrible. What we need to do is to help to build self-reliance and help them to help themselves. A real national president and a real national secretary will do just that.

The Secretary General has just reminded me that I had not mentioned by-laws and regulations. My thoughts always go back when by-laws are mentioned to the Prohibition days in the United States when they tried to force people to stop drinking alcoholic beverages by passing a law. They drank more than they ever did before. A piece of paper does not rule the hearts and minds of men. And by-laws and regulations for lodges and national sections were a real headache even to GdeP when he started the national sections. He himself never intended that by-laws should run either a lodge or a section. But as so often happens, members take a leader's word too literally and go and do many things, and make a leader's job harder, and then he has to undo that later.

I am trying to speak and present thoughts that have come to me in a simple way, present the spirit of them. The letter of the law always killeth, but the spirit quickeneth, as the sacred teachings of the Christians indicate.

I will just say this one thing, and then I think we had better close. I don't know how many of you have read The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. I believe it is there that Master M was writing to Mr. Sinnett about some problems with the London Lodge. The Master wanted him to do something, but Sinnett wrote back apparently to this effect that we could not do that because we have a set of rules and regulations, etc., that we have to follow. The Master replied that if the rules and regulations are in the way of your doing this, throw them away and get the job done. Now, I don't mean to imply that there is no need for right conduct, or anything like that. I am talking about the letter of things, not the true spiritual force.

Thank you again for coming tonight, and for your wonderful questions, and I hope to shake hands with each of you before you leave.

The meeting closed at 10:15 p.m.

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