Seventy years have passed since Katherine Tingley died at Visingso, Sweden, on July 11, 1929, and Gottfried de Purucker succeeded her as head of the Theosophical Society and Esoteric Section (1). In retrospect, it feels as though Purucker was at the helm a good deal longer than a mere thirteen years, so packed were they with opportunities to explore in depth our theosophic treasury and to broadcast far and wide its liberating ideas.
A notable feature of GdeP's leadership was his trust in and placing of responsibility on the young people. One of his first acts was to form The Katherine Tingley Memorial Group (KTMG) composed of ES members among the HPB and WQJ Theosophical Clubs for young women and men. The KTMG was a further step in the esoteric cycle of studies. We met fortnightly in the Leader's residence but, unlike the ES, there were no passwords or other formalities; rather, a youthful expectancy, fresh minds and hearts in warm and friendly rapport with GdeP, whom we called Professor. No record was made of these early gatherings.
After a few months, the older ES members at the Headquarters were invited to participate in the sessions, provided they joined the young people's clubs — a requirement later dropped. At the first recorded meeting of November 27, 1929, GdeP spoke of the KTMG as
a child of my heart, in memory, in commemoration, of the life-work of our blessed K. T., . . . This Group began in a small way, and now the Group has become large. Seeds of the noblest trees are usually small. My hope was that from this one seeding originally in your Point Loma joint Club-work, would grow a spiritual tree, whose branches would overspread the earth; and this is coming.
I have decided therefore to have a stenographic record made of these meetings, beginning with this evening, for the purpose of enabling Katherine Tingley Memorial Groups, which are in process of formation in other parts of the world, to receive these teachings, and thus be associated with us in thought. — The Dialogues of G. de Purucker 1:1
From 1929 to 1933 GdeP responded to questions from students of all ages: from those who had joined the ES under HPB and WQJ to the youngest of us in years and in theosophic experience. As I think back to those days when the KTMG meetings were first held, it all was so natural. Nothing seemed strange or difficult to grasp. Yet the written record reveals an astonishing outpouring of inspired commentary by GdeP on a host of significant themes: on manasaputras and lunar pitris; the fateful "moment of choice"; pratyeka buddhas and buddhas of compassion; the nature and destiny of an avatara, and what such "descents" can mean, not only to humanity but to an individual who is inwardly receptive; and how the familiar doctrines of karma and rebirth are as applicable to universes as they are to us humans.
In a veritable cornucopia of teaching, GdeP time and again affirmed the ancient truth that we are not what we seem, adrift and without compass; rather, we are divinities going through the human phase of our evolution, an underworld to our god-self but a most necessary learning experience for the human soul.
KTMG meetings One through Thirty-three took place at Point Loma, California, at the Leader's residence. Then follow Answers to Correspondence (Nos. 34 and 35). As No. 35 contains questions asked by members from England, Ireland, Sweden, and The Netherlands, it is likely that GdeP's answers were given at a KTMG meeting in England attended by the London Group, British officials, and visiting members. The final meeting, dated September 26, 1933 (No. 36), was held at Oakley House, Bromley Common, Kent, England, which served as temporary International Headquarters for GdeP and his official and literary staffs in 1932-3. A Notice to all Members signed by GdeP preceded the printed Report and stated that this would be the last meeting of the KTMG to be issued for the present, as there is always the risk of "spiritual and intellectual indigestion" unless time is allowed for assimilation; also, there is the ever-present danger of
mere curiosity as to the next 'new teaching' which may be issued. This would indeed be fatal to the main object of these studies, which is rather to bring out from within the student's own constitution latent powers of reflection and judgment, involving discernment and discrimination, than merely overloading the mind with newer teachings steadily increasing in both volume and novelty. — Dialogues 3:390
It should be understood that all meetings of the KTMG were private and confidential, a practice that was strictly observed at Headquarters and abroad. In the beginning only 50 copies were printed for circulation among the KTMG membership; later, 100 copies were printed, and members were asked to handle them with care so that others could receive them in good condition.
Several meetings have Supplements, which represent additional commentary by GdeP when the Headquarters Group was studying the KTMG Papers between 1932-42. They include such topics as: Who Are the Gods?; Parent Stars; Beauty — Physical and Spiritual; Ten Families of Monads; Why Animals Suffer; The Cross of Initiation; The Mystic Rose: Symbol of the Unfolded Monad; The Three Panoramic Visions; Pratyekas Become Avataras in New Chain; Heart Illumines the Brain; Transcend Humanity for Divinity; and many more.
On October 29, 1941, GdeP appointed a committee, with myself as secretary and chairman, to consolidate the 36 KTMG pamphlets into 7, 10, or 12 booklets, each to deal with a specified aspect of the philosophy according to an outline which he had approved. We were to eliminate some of the more elementary questions, and he would add much new material. Work was enthusiastically begun, but GdeP's sudden death in September 1942 put a complete stop to the project.
While as chairman I felt we were in honor bound to fulfill GdeP's vision and had already completed a draft of the two booklets allotted to me, the others felt the work should cease, for, they said, without GdeP to review our work there was no one competent to do so.
At the KTMG meeting of May 26, 1942, GdeP had stated that
what we now call esoteric we shall publish broadcast, because the time will have come to do so. But that does not mean, if you please, Companions, that any one of you is entitled to break his oath of secrecy. It is not for me to say when. It is for Those who know more than any one of us here, but I can feel that it is coming. — 1:177-8
Six years later Arthur L. Conger, Leader of the Theosophical Society (1945-51), performed a signal service for the theosophical world community by issuing for the public the KTMG Papers in three volumes under the title: The Dialogues of G. de Purucker: Report of Sessions, Katherine Tingley Memorial Group. Rather than consolidating the material, the Papers were published with minimal editing by a committee headed by Colonel Conger, who met with us daily and participated in the entire editorial process.
Arthur L. Conger
The range of subjects is vast, giving assurance of riches in abundance for the first-time reader as well as the seasoned student, while the dialogue format allows a more relaxed presentation of profound truths. Opened at random, or read sequentially, a sense of cosmic grandeur is present. The Dialogues of G. de Purucker remain a living testimonial to GdeP's inspired teaching.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)
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We are not brought into existence by chance nor thrown up into earth-life like wreckage cast along the shore, but are here for infinitely noble purposes. — Katherine Tingley
1. Or Esoteric School (ES) founded in 1888 by H. P. Blavatsky, whose inner purpose was to form a nucleus of dedicated men and women who would give time, energy, and work to maintaining the TS as a viable outlet for the Masters' work in the world. (return to text)