Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at Nuremberg

Hotel Carlton
June 2, 1951 - 8 p.m.
J. G. Crabbendam, Chairman
Wilhelm Oehrens, Translator


Kirby Van Mater, Secretary General: Companions and Friends: Since most of you have not met him, I should like to introduce to you Mr. James A. Long, the Leader of the Theosophical Society.

JAL: Before we get down to the business of the evening, I should like to express my appreciation to the Nuremberg members for the welcome they have given me and for the beautiful flowers they sent to me making me welcome. I also feel I owe you an apology because your president, Mr. Geer, asked me through Doctor Oehrens what time my plane would arrive and whether they could not meet me at the airport. I suggested that this be not done, and I should like to give you my reasons for this. It is not because the leader and his party feel as though they are high and mighty, and have to have this, that, or the other thing. The reason is twofold: first, because my staff has been working hard, and we have been taking notes of all of the meetings in all the countries. Miss Knoche in her capacity as secretary has found it impossible to keep the notes transcribed up to date, and has worked much more than I should like to see her work on this trip. Mr. Van Mater, the Secretary General, has been of general assistance in so many ways that it is impossible for me to enumerate them.

Those of you who have done much traveling by air will know what I mean when I say that because I have flown before, I have assumed the responsibility to see to all of the numerous details in connection with our flights and our landings and the handling of the luggage properly so that there are no hitches. Thus when we arrive at our destination, by the time the details are taken care of, and the luggage passed by the customs and the passport control — not that it involves much work, but it does attention — if members meet us at the plane it is absolutely impossible for me or my staff to give to them the kind of attention we should like to give.

Secondly, this trip of myself and my staff is to meet with the members and to get the partnership which I have inaugurated going ahead full steam. In order for me to do that in Amsterdam, in Utrecht, in Stockholm, in Stuttgart, Munich, and in Nuremberg, when I leave one town, one city, I have to change gears, as it were, from the city I leave to the city to which I am going. And there are no two cities or places alike in this world. And if I want to fulfill my honest duty as leader of this Society, then when I talk to Stuttgart, I must talk to Stuttgart with no thought of Stockholm, Munich, or Nuremberg. To do this, when I arrive in a city where there is going to be some work with the lodges and the members, it is absolutely essential that I make every effort to keep myself completely open to the impulse and the feeling of the city and of the membership that I am about to serve. There is nothing that helps me more to do that than a quiet drive from the airport to the hotel, feeling and observing as I go, and when we get to the hotel, to unpack and get our business accoutrements — typewriters, files, etc. — arranged, our clothing hung, and then quietly begin to go to work.

Now that work does not consist of immediately typing and writing or dictating or anything like that. It consists of quiet thoughtfulness for the duties that lie ahead. And in that quietness we get the first still impulse of what the members need. Then we are ready to meet members, and it has been our invariable experience that the members we meet and talk to and listen to confirm the correctness of the impulse we have already received from the silence. That, companions, is why I asked Herr Doctor Oehrens to tell Mr. Geer that we would prefer to go right to the hotel.

Now I thank all of you for coming here tonight. There is nothing I enjoy more than to be able to talk with the members. I don't mean talk to them, I mean talk with them, simply, informally, and honestly. And the members in Holland and Sweden, and thus far in Germany, have come to know that I refuse to evade facts or issues. I like to take them head on: without pulling any punches — [to Dr. Oehrens] Is that hard to translate? ["Yes, it is."] All right, without any hesitation so that we can frankly and quickly get to the root of the problem and correct the causes.

I feel myself in a rather peculiar position tonight. I will say that I gave a terrific amount of thought to this meeting this Saturday evening, and I don't know if I can even now express myself so that all of you will understand what I am about to say, but I feel it my duty to try. I also want it strictly understood before I say a word further that what I say now is not to be considered in any way as a criticism or condemnation of any of the Nuremberg members, including those who signed the letter about which I am going to speak. I want them to understand and believe that I have nothing but love in my heart and a desire for an honest understanding.

Thus the peculiar position that I feel myself in tonight is this: I am speaking to members who in the confusion of a fog that settled down felt it expedient to write a letter to Headquarters, which letter was turned over to me, stating that those members could not accept me as leader of this Theosophical Society. Even after I got to Germany, I was informed that I would be welcome as Mr. Long, but not as leader of the Society. I cannot come here as Mr. Long; that is impossible. On February 22, 1951 Colonel Conger died, and so did Mr. Long. There will be no more Mr. Long in this incarnation. So you see how impossible it is for me to come to you as Mr. Long. I cannot describe to you at all the feeling in my heart, faced on the one hand by that letter, and on the other hand by my duty as leader, who in accepting that responsibility accepted the karma of every individual member of the TS. Thus you can see that I was confronted with a decision. Here I stand, having made the decision that my first duty lay with the members, and that I as well as everyone else could not allow that letter to stand between me and my true duty as leader of this Society.

That, companions, tells you the true story of my heart with regard to Nuremberg Branch. That letter has not affected me and my love for every member one iota; and if the members had not showed up here tonight, I think I would have been heartbroken. I am satisfied that there are many thoughts in your minds that you feel you would like to have answered. I am satisfied, on the other hand, that your hearts have no questions to ask. It would not be fair to you this evening not to allow you to ask all the questions you want. But I am sorry that I cannot see the real occult value for me to enter a discussion at this point on certain types of questions that you may have in your mind, by answering them myself. Because, don't you see, as soon as I might answer certain types of questions, I could then be presumed to be attempting to influence your minds in favor of myself as leader of this Theosophical Society? That is not my responsibility. My responsibility is to protect the work of the Theosophical Society.

The documents that were sent from Headquarters of the Cabinet meeting reports have stated all that has taken place. There isn't anything else. If anyone were to ask me to prove that I was leader of this Society, I could say nothing more than I said in the Cabinet meeting. You have my unsupported word. If I said anything more, I would not be the leader.

Thus in fairness to you, and not to embarrass you in any way, I should like your permission for whatever period you desire, either shorter or longer, to withdraw, and to turn the chairmanship over to Mr. Crabbendam. You may ask all of the questions you want, and anything you want. Not that I don't wish to be here, but I don't want to offer any barrier whatever to your asking questions. I don't care what they are. This is strictly to give you the full opportunity that you should have. When it is time for me to come back in, I will be only too happy to return and add to anything that has been said, or endeavor to be of any use that I can.

I have only one more word, and that is for you to be honest and speak your thoughts and ask your questions while you have this opportunity. I have asked Herr Crabbendam of Holland to be chairman for this period, and it will be up to him as to whether he chooses to answer the questions, or whether he wishes Miss Knoche or Mr. Van Mater to do so. All three are thoroughly trusted members of the Cabinet. Miss Knoche was on GdeP's secretarial staff for a period of seven years, I think. She was secretary to the chairman of the Cabinet during the three year Cabinet period. She was secretary to Colonel Conger for his administration, and later he made her a member of the Cabinet. Kirby was on GdeP's staff also, on his Cabinet; was a member of the Cabinet during the three year administration. He was on Colonel Conger's Cabinet, and he received the appointment of Secretary General from Colonel Conger. Herr Crabbendam was a member of Colonel Conger's Cabinet. He has paid a visit to Headquarters, knew Colonel Conger, met all the people at Headquarters, and has my gratitude for remaining as a member of my Cabinet.

Mr. Crabbendam: Thank you.

JAL: I think these three members have been close enough to several changes in the Society to be able to answer your questions. I forgot to mention that Miss Knoche was born at Point Loma and had some intensive training under Katherine Tingley also. So I feel they are fully equipped to answer your questions satisfactorily. If they are not, then it is my duty to assist if necessary. So please do not feel anything but relaxed and informal. I am going out in the lounge and smoke a cigarette or two or three, and I hope you will benefit by the little period of question and answer, longer or shorter as you care to make it.

I should like to introduce Herr Crabbendam who will take over the chairmanship at this point.

The leader then left the room and the members put questions to the three Cabinet members until 10:30 p.m., when the Chairman was requested by the audience to invite the leader to return and continue the meeting.

Paul Selinger: I as leader of the Treuchtlingen Branch have the feeling that it is very difficult to fight for each member. I now have learned this evening that there is a document between the Nuremberg Branch and you, our leader, and I beg to bring forward the question as to who is the person responsible for that document, who has signed it, and what this document means, for I believe that strife would come from such a fact.

JAL: We have got to consider these matters in their proper perspective. When we come into a period in the history of the Society as we are now in, and the cycles converge as they have at this present time, then we have to consider from the true theosophic standpoint just what is taking place. Those of you, and I suppose most of you, who have been in theosophy a little time at any rate, realize that the path of a true theosophist is not a bed of roses. If he has sincerity in his heart and is facing the facts of theosophic life, he is faced with one test after another; and those tests are not placed there by a leader, or a Cabinet, or a section president, or a lodge president, or by any other individual in the Society. Those tests arise from the natural effects and situations in his daily life, not only in the course of his duty to his job and to his family, but to his work in the Society. We all know that from experience if we have tried to make of ourselves real theosophists.

Now when we meet a time like this, and more especially when it coincides with the change in leadership, the genuine aspirations in the heart of individuals call forth that experience which has been referred to as passing through the gateways of purification. It not only applies to the individual. It applies to a lodge as such, any lodge, and to the Society itself. Thus the individual who is truly honest in his aspirations finds himself involved in a three-way series of tests, as an individual, as a member of a lodge if he is a lodge member, and as a member of the Society.

Now that seems a long way around to the answer to the gentleman's question. But the reason I have said all that is this: whatever the set of circumstances that may prevail in a given lodge will not necessarily affect another lodge. The only way it would do so would be if the members of the one lodge deliberately and by the force of their own wills tried to impose their own feelings on another lodge. To my knowledge, the document referred to by me this evening did not concern anyone in any direct sense except the members who signed it, and the ones to whom it was addressed who brought it to my attention, because I was involved in the sense that I was mentioned in the document. Thus I have the highest respect for the members of the Nuremberg Lodge for not attempting to impose what they felt on any other lodge.

I think the gentleman's question arises from a feeling in his own heart that he, loving theosophy as he does and being attached to his own group as he is, naturally feels that he should know all the details of what might affect his work in theosophy. And I don't blame him. But in this case, I don't think you have anything to worry about, because I feel certain that there has been no attempt to influence any other lodges. It was a matter between the members who signed the document and myself; and I would be the last person in the world who would object to such a document even though they were to say they would never recognize me for the rest of their lives. I am not interested in soliciting supporters for myself. I consider the document referred to as the product of a lack of information, plus misinformation, and a lack of patience. I am not here to scold anybody for writing documents or for doing anything wrong. That is not my responsibility either. I am working for theosophy, and nothing else. And when I stated in the beginning that the leader takes upon his shoulders, willingly, the karma of every FTS of this Society, it should be obvious to everyone here that my responsibility is to help them to understand their responsibility, help them to carry it so that they can help me carry mine. That is my job. That is all there is to it. There isn't anything else.

All of these details that crop up from time to time have absolutely nothing to do with the Masters' work, and the quicker we get them out of our mind and get down to living our theosophy and being more concerned about the welfare of our brother than we are about our own welfare, whether it is our own person or our lodge or our own TS, and do our one-pointed duty, the quicker will we find ourselves working members of a truly unique fraternity. Does that answer your question, Herr Selinger?

Mr. Selinger: Yes, thank you.

JAL: I am at your service, whatever the members want. Maybe tomorrow we can all come together and talk about theosophy, instead of talking about some of the troubles that arise when the Society goes through the gateways of purification.

I hope in my next incarnation I can speak 16 different languages, and then I can talk to you in German.

Mr. Crabbendam: That will not be easy for you.

JAL: I am going to assume something which I don't know: I am assuming that most of the time that I was away the questions and the discussion were pertaining to Nuremberg Lodge.

Many voices: Yes.

JAL: That being the case, I would like to get a little better acquainted, except with those from Munich and Stuttgart whom I have already met, and will ask those outside of Nuremberg to stand or hold up their hands.

Four gentlemen, including Mr. Selinger, from Treuchtlingen, Mrs. Haensler from Bamberg, and Mr. Trost from Mittelbayern, rose.

Mr. Selinger: One of our members has a commission received from Mr. Wening to work together with the Neu-Ulm Branch, and there the leader of the branch has brought into being a new youth group, a Lotus Circle group. Now he wanted to know whether you had any suggestions regarding the youth work for the future.

JAL: I could talk all night long when you speak about youth work, for you really get very close to my heart. I have been making little friends all over the world, and the folk at Headquarters will tell you what I think of the youth. But as I told a young man in Munich who came to the hotel to see me, and asked more or less the same question, the youth work also has been and is undergoing a change. I am sorry to say that a great many theosophists throughout the world have failed to follow one of the basic principles of theosophic teaching, and that is that there is nothing permanent in this world but change. So when Colonel Conger became leader, he found the youth work in certain respects being carried on almost down to the last detail exactly as it was when KT started it. I am sure that if KT were alive and saw the lack of change in approach to the youth work that was indicated even seven years ago, she would have been the first one to raise the merry devil, as she knew how to do.

We don't have to think very hard, those of us who are 50 years or older, to see in the youngsters of today of even 7 years to 10, older souls in the theosophic sense than we are. By that I mean that in many many cases they have had more experience in Master's work in the past than we have. If we want to believe Mr. Judge's words that we are the Egyptians, then we must realize that the life-wave coming through for the past few generations has been souls experienced in the work before, now looking for their home. We know also that the youngsters today have no difficulty in accepting reincarnation or karma or the other basic theosophic teachings. And we know that they are really ready for spiritual meat much earlier than we were, and than were our parents and grandparents.

Therefore it is our responsibility, and has been, to try to grow with our children; to try to keep a step ahead of them. If we don't, we are going to lose them. I don't know how it is in Germany, but the children of today don't seem to be as fascinated by the old-fashioned type of fairy tale as they used to be, with the exception of those that contain the real theosophic truth within them. They want something more practical, more solid, something that will satisfy their yearning for more truth. Our problem, therefore, is to recognize squarely that fact and work with it.

We have already begun in a small way under Colonel Conger. I have inherited the responsibility to carry it on, and in line with the present cycle and method of work in theosophy, that of developing true spiritual self-reliance, the youth work of the future that it is my hope to build will be developed on that continuing basis which is symbolized by the picture of the Master with one hand up, receiving assistance and guidance from those above him, and the other hand down to help those below or behind to get where he is.

Now that is a large order, because it means starting not with the youth, but with us older folks. In other words, it means in those lodges or groups where there has been a lodge president for years and years and years, and it is assumed that he has been elected to that office for life, we must re-educate ourselves and realize that the life-waves coming into incarnation, generation after generation, are each one a little different from the last, each one a fraction of a shade higher on the ladder. Thus it is my hope that in not too long a time we can establish a basis to carry on our work for theosophy so that the older member will relinquish his attachment, if he has it, to his position and give it to someone of the next generation and help him to take that responsibility; and when that person reaches the point when the next generation should have a beginning, he in turn should give them the start. Those too young to be members in the oldest age group will receive the hand from those in the generation above; and that group will have their hand extended to the next age group below, and so on down to the little Lotus Circle children — each group feeling actually a responsibility for the one below, as well as still feeling a responsibility to the one above. In this whole process the only way this will last and be of any real value will be if each group does the job themselves. Those children are not stupid. They are smart. And it is my hope that the young people themselves will build up the various groups and get the youth work re-started, using their own ideas. I have encouraged them all to write to me at Headquarters, tell me what is on their minds, tell me what they think they need, and I will help them help themselves.

I do not anticipate any real difficulty with the children and the young people. Our difficulty will be with us old folks, to get away from the crystallized thoughts that we have had, thinking we are right, that we are important. Our importance only begins when we turn the responsibility over to somebody younger than ourselves. Then we do become important to a degree, for we can then exercise the strength of our own characters by giving some freedom of action to the younger people, giving them wise counsel, and not being a ball and chain on their legs and arms. We have all made mistakes, all of us. There is no harm in making mistakes, for we know that they are, if we are sincere, stepping stones to success. The real danger is if we stop trying to become better.

Again I have gone a long way around to the answer to that question, but that gives a general idea of my thoughts with regard to the youth work. I am sure that the young people are going to have some ideas that are far better than you and I could conceive.

Those here who are interested in youth work, and have any young people who are interested and want to talk things over, tell them not to hesitate to write to me. Those at Headquarters who are helping me with the job will get together with me around the table and exchange thoughts across the miles, and I think then we will really get something accomplished.

Hans Geer: I believe that all of us here are sisters and brothers of one life, and we all love and esteem theosophy. I believe we shall remain until we are thrown out of this hall. Now I had the intention to bring forward a question. One has said to us that the Esoteric Section and School had to be closed down. And now I want to ask whether this kind of esoteric work as it has come down to us from HPB should stop at all?

JAL: Thank you, Herr Geer. That is a very fine question to ask. In the first place, no one has said that the Esoteric School was closed. It was said that the Esoteric Section was closed; and there is a big difference between the Esoteric School and the Esoteric Section, and we must draw that distinction very sharply. The Esoteric School was in existence long before the Theosophical Society, and if the Theosophical Society passes out of the picture in the next ten centuries, the Esoteric School will still be in existence.

GdeP in the latter portion of his KTMG meetings made the statement that someone would publish those meetings, but not he; but he did not know who would do it. They were the most esoteric teachings ever given out to mankind since the Greater and Lesser Mysteries of olden times. I had the very good karma to be associated with Colonel Conger for many years before he became leader, and it was my rare privilege to have had a little advance information, as he told me years ago that he would be the publisher of the KTMG Papers. GdeP himself stopped giving out esoteric teachings, at least in a formal way, quite some time before he passed on.

It may be well for me to repeat the story I told at some of the groups in Sweden. Every leader and Outer Head has had his or her inner group or groups, in addition to the probationers in the Esoteric Section. GdeP had the ES, he had the KTMG, but he had another group higher than that. Now, in direct relationship to Herr Geer's question, what does it mean to be a member of the Esoteric Section? If one's karma is right, what does it mean to be invited to be a member of a next higher group? And still further, if one's karma is good, what does it mean to be invited to that highest inner group? The wrong answer to that question or series of questions has caused more difficulty in Masters' work than any other one thing. Now why? What is the wrong answer that caused that trouble? A TS member becomes a member of the Esoteric Section. If he realizes and recognizes that he has become a member of a group in which by karma he is given the opportunity for more strong and more vital testing, he will not have much difficulty. But if he feels by becoming a member of the Section he has been favored, and after months or years of study in it he begins to feel that he knows a little more than this member or that member, then he is going to have difficulty. When we realize that the Esoteric Section is nothing more nor less than a probationary degree, we can understand why he would have difficulty.

If a member, however, does answer the question rightly with regard to the Esoteric Section and his membership in it, then the teacher may invite him to the next group. And the same situation pertains there as in the Esoteric Section, except that the currents of thought and activity and action and reaction are much more highly charged. Thus when he begins there to feel that he is a little better even than an Esoteric Section member, then he really has difficulty. If he succeeds, however, in answering the question correctly in that group, he may, if his karma is right, be invited to a higher group, and there the current is charged very, very much more highly. When he makes a mistake there, it can be almost fatal to his usefulness to Masters' cause. And as much as I dislike saying it, it is the members of that highest group of GdeP's who have made that mistake of thinking they were important, thinking that they knew more than their fellow theosophists, thinking that they had the right to tell their fellow theosophists what should or should not be done, thinking even that they were given by GdeP the power and the right to test an Outer Head to see whether he was an Outer Head or not, when all GdeP was doing was giving them another test. That, I am sorry to say, is what has caused most of the trouble in our beloved TS.

It is a very, very dangerous thing for anyone to think he is important or that he knows more than the other fellow. It is a completely wrong approach to working in and for theosophy. No one of us knows what is buried deep in the heart and the consciousness of our fellow member, so that when a member allows himself to become anything more than a mere channel, he begins to personalize rather than de-personalize his theosophic work.

Now, to get back to Herr Geer's question again: I have said the esoteric had become exoteric, and by implication it should be obvious that the exoteric has become esoteric. Coming as it does at this time when we must turn from the receiving to the giving end of theosophy, it should be obvious further that to the degree that we make of ourselves real examples of practical theosophists, doing our one-pointed duty to our job, our family, our nation, and our theosophy, to that degree will we become members of that unique fraternity of which Colonel Conger spoke. That does not necessarily mean that somebody is going to get a label for his buttonhole indicating that he is a member of this Esoteric Section or that group, entitling him to more consideration by the Masters than somebody else. The Masters are not interested in personalities at all. They are interested in the heart doctrine, working for theosophy.

Now I don't mean to imply by all of this that there will be no further teachings given out. Not by any means do I imply that. But when they are earned by the member, they will not in all probability come to him on a silver platter, with a little card saying: "These are esoteric teachings for you." They will come to the member to the degree that the buddhic light is shining in his nature. When he has earned further teachings, not only will the Masters know it, but the leader and Outer Head will know it also. And when these teachings come, they may be very simple and come in the silence of his heart. That is the way they mean most. That is what HPB hoped for, and that was why she started the formal Esoteric Section in 1888 to prepare a proving ground and a basis upon which ultimately and hopefully before 1975 there would be a nucleus of members who knew what theosophy was about, who would be prepared and ready, standing at attention, ready for service when the messenger came in 1975.

I think we had better close.

Mr. Crabbendam: Thank you very much, dear Leader, for this beautiful answer. The leader says after the meeting tomorrow and Monday, he will be available in this hotel for any interviews. And now I thank you all for coming.

JAL: It is too late tonight, 11:45 already, but tomorrow after the meeting I would like to shake hands with every member before you go. Thank you very much for coming this evening. Good night.

The meeting closed at 11:45 p.m.

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