Conrad Ahlberg, Chairman
Arne Wettermark, Translator
Conrad Ahlberg: I give you a hearty welcome here in Stockholm. The leader has given Lodge No. 1 this evening so that we shall have the opportunity to ask him some questions, and also I think he will give us some information in order to do good work here in our lodge and for theosophy.
JAL: Thank you very much. Of course I am available for questions. I am grateful for this opportunity to sit down and think out loud together with you, and perhaps ask you some questions rather than have you ask me questions — not that I don't want questions; I do, and will be glad to have them. I have met a number of you since I have been in Stockholm, and I find in the hearts of each one of you a very strong desire to work harder and to do the right thing for theosophy here in Stockholm. It is because I have recognized that strong desire that I have wanted to sit down and think together with you as a lodge — about the work, what your thoughts are, what you have in mind, any suggestions that you may have — and try to get for myself an accurate picture of just how Lodge No. 1 functions and works, what makes the wheels go round, who pays the bills — not that I am interested in finances from a Headquarters standpoint, but I am a practical business man, and all of these things together are part of the operation of any branch. Thus I wanted to talk over with you frankly the whole matter of Lodge No. 1's work and problems, and perchance out of such a thinking out loud together we may find that course to follow in the future that will make everybody happy working for theosophy.
As an additional thought, we must always remember that we are all human beings, and that each one of us has personality characteristics which appeal to some and do not appeal to others. It becomes our job to find, not only in Stockholm and Sweden but throughout the TS, that unifying element that will bring together the diverse personalities and ideas of all of us as human beings, so that the work can without any hindrances whatever move forward. It is really with that purpose in mind that I want to talk with you tonight, and find out what your ideas are and discuss them frankly and honestly with you.
With that brief introduction, let me ask if there is anyone who has any question he would like to ask me? I will try to answer it, and maybe that will prompt me to ask some questions of you.
Hulda Boman: I have no particular question to ask, but only wished to express some thoughts about the collaboration of Lodge No. 1 with Lodge No. 15. I think that the work in Lodge No. 1 is going on quite well and I presume that the work in Lodge No. 15 goes very well too. I think that the two lodges each ought to continue their work, but concerning the public meetings I consider collaboration to be very good. This lodge room we love very much, but the members in Lodge No. 15 have expressed the thought that this place is not so good as it is according to my view, and I feel quite opposed — no, that is too hard a word — but a little upset, disturbed about this question. Public meetings if held in collaboration between the two lodges I think ought to take place here in this lodge room.
JAL: I want to express my deep appreciation to Hulda for that frank expression, and it is that sort of thing we need to do: to face squarely and honestly the situation that we think exists. I for my part have had the opportunity to talk to individual members of Lodge No. 15 also, but I have heard absolutely no objection to this location, this property.
I feel certain that should some plan work itself out whereby the two lodges collaborate, either as one lodge cooperating in public work, or remaining as separate lodges, you will then find that whatever plan is right will work itself out. You won't work it out, I won't work it out, Peter Flach won't work it out, Lodge 15 won't work it out: it will naturally work itself out. That is why I am talking here tonight, and that is why I want to talk to Lodge No. 15 separately also. I want to be able to come in from the outside, not in criticism, but to see what the natural plan is for the work in Stockholm. Whatever is the natural thing, that is what we do. And always when the right answer comes, it means that everyone, with diverse points of view, will have to give up something in order to get something else — always. But what are we as theosophists but givers and receivers? I think most of us in many ways give and give and give, and one of our hardest jobs has been to learn how to receive properly. But when it comes to giving up what we have sweated blood for in theosophy, because it seems wise to give it up, then we find it a hard thing to give. But it really isn't hard when we see the bigger picture.
Now don't get the impression, please, that I have any specific plan or idea in mind. I don't at the moment. I want to hear as much as I can of what all of you think, and then I will sleep over it. I will hear what Lodge No. 15 has to say. I think that is a practical way, a sane and honest way.
Always it is foolish misunderstandings based upon some silly idea which cause us to think matters are radically wrong. Before I was leader and since, I have untangled more knots in theosophic relationships than I can tell, simply by meeting people and helping them to be honest, helping them to face, not each other but simply the truth. That is the only way we can work in theosophy, and if we try any other way we are only deceiving ourselves.
I appreciate Hulda Boman's expression very much, for it makes an excellent starting point.
Karin Wahlberg: First I will say that I think what Hulda Boman says is very fine, just exactly what I wanted myself to say. But may I go a little further? I would like it if we had one thing more together with Lodge 15, and that is that at least once a month we should have one evening together. I think it very important just now when we can get so much news from the Headquarters, and on that night I should like it if Peter Flach would give all the news he has received during the past month. Then every other time maybe we could have both Lodge 1 and Lodge 15 together in a converzatione or with speeches, or anything like that. Because I think it is very important that we begin to have one evening together, and then we will get used to each other and perhaps like to work together.
JAL: There is no question in my own mind that ultimately, and I don't think it is so very far away, all of you and all of Lodge 15 will like to work together, Karin. I am sure of that. In fact, having inaugurated this partnership, I as leader would like to see the old barriers dropped, even if I needed to come to Stockholm twice a year! Then I would try to come, and if it were necessary the funds would be provided. But I don't think it is necessary. Not that I am picking on Stockholm, or Lodge 1 and Lodge 15, for you represent only an example of unnecessary barriers that have grown up through the years in several places.
We are attempting to establish the nucleus of a universal brotherhood, and it is my job and my hope to make that nucleus so welded together throughout the world that its effect on the outer plane will do what every leader in the past has dreamed it would do: ameliorate the suffering of the human race and alleviate the international tensions that exist. What are we theosophists for anyway, in our different countries? We are representatives, advance guards of a race to come. That is what we are; and here we fool around, making much ado about nothing, over this or that personality. Anybody who has any heart in him can recognize the Lodge force — I don't care where he may go. That is the thing we have got flowing through our work. When that works in the heart, there is no problem about any member working with any other member.
Now in Los Angeles — which has been a trouble spot for years, for Mr. Judge, for KT, so much so that she closed everything up; for GdeP as well as for Colonel Conger — I had a meeting in the new headquarters property, the Deodars, a beautiful spot. I talked to them and asked them all to turn in their charters as lodges, and made this proposition for them to think over: instead of continuing with six or seven lodges to have just one lodge or branch for Los Angeles; but as many study groups and study-group meetings as each group desired, even if there were two or a dozen on the same street. But when they have a public meeting, I begged them to have one of the whole branch all working together, to show the world what working together means, what really can be done. And if an inquirer comes into the public meeting, and he is properly treated and wants to come again and attend a study group, then send him to whatever study group is nearest or most convenient for him to attend. If he does not fit into that study group and prefers another, give him freedom to attend any study group he may select. We cannot like everybody, and we naturally work better with certain people than with others. But let us not use that as a means to break down our theosophic work. Let us rather use it as a means to build it up. But when we work for the public, whether it is once a month or once a fortnight, let us consider forming one branch only and thus have one front to the public.
I dropped the matter at that, asking them to think it over. I will have a meeting with them when I return, and we will talk it over some more. I think you are right, Karin, that whatever has to be done, we start from here. We start from where we are, and that is why I am here talking with you. I am sure there is a natural answer which we won't have to figure out with our brains.
I can see now that my trip around the world, which had as one of its duties to contact the officials both TS and ES, and key members in the different national sections, with a view to getting their houses in order, was in preparation for what Colonel Conger called the round-up. Do you know what a round-up in America is? ["No!"] Well then, I will try to explain it. In the west of the United States they have there thousands and thousands of acres, which are the great ranches on which they raise cattle. Each year at a certain time they turn the cattle out and let them go. They may turn out eight to ten thousand head of cattle, letting them run and propagate. Then at a certain period they have what is called a round-up, in which they pull together all of the cattle in order to select the best. These they send to the market, keep the cows, and a certain number of bulls, and then send them out again. Thus each year they have the round-up.
That is why this particular period we are going through now was referred to by Colonel Conger as the round-up, for which he sent me around the world to prepare. I know this now, though I did not then. I certainly did not know it was going to be my karma to be his successor. We only find that out at the very last moment; and the leader who is passing finds it out, knows it definitely, only at the very last moment when the thread breaks. Therefore the clause in our Constitution which says the leader shall appoint his successor, is what I have referred to before as an exoteric blind or smokescreen, and an esoteric truth. None of the leaders has ever named his successor, not one of them. They may have had ideas and hopes, but they never knew until that last moment when they could not influence the karma; and the successor never knew until the very last moment that he was going to be the successor. Invariably he is the last person who would have expected to be the successor, but when the mantle falls, it falls, and there is no denying it; there is no passing it up. There isn't anything to do but accept it.
Thus I know that my trip around the world was in preparation for the job I had to finish. And I am here tonight in Sweden at this time, taking the first steps in finishing the job, as the Colonel put it the night before his heart attack — "finish the job you have started to the very end" — which means the very end of my life. So I am beginning now to do that job: to try to get this partnership really operating, and endeavor to create an honest-to-goodness nucleus of a brotherhood instead of a group bound just by lip-service, hiding under the lip-service, excusing ourselves for this and that and the other violations of the pledges we have taken, even as FTS.
We are all human. We have all made mistakes; but as Mr. Judge says, to fail is nothing, but to cease trying is awful. Thus I don't consider anybody a failure. I don't consider any lodge, any section, any individual a failure. And as I explained last Sunday, the cancellations of membership were not punishment; not at all. They are intended to avoid the strong possibility of permanent failure, and they will avoid it. You will find out in time.
Thus to summarize my thoughts again, you have no real problem in Stockholm. It has grown up — from what? It doesn't matter. What I am interested in is finding the natural answer to the work in Stockholm. I will talk to you frankly, and see what you can all do about it until I get back next time.
Mrs. Lundh: I do not have much time to do very much for theosophy because I am in Stockholm only during four months in the year. From childhood I have been in Halsingborg, and came in contact with Dr. Bogren who was very prominent, and a great man in the spiritual sense of the word.
JAL: Yes, he certainly was.
Mrs. Lundh: He lived just as he taught. Now if there is anybody here in Stockholm who wishes to work actively in the public meetings, he or she ought to say honestly to himself or herself: Do I really live as I am teaching? Because if anybody speaks in a public meeting, about whom it can be said that he or she does not live as he teaches, then the public will say: "Oh, he speaks so many beautiful words, but that is all." That will not give theosophy a good impulse. If there are persons who wish to work in the public meetings, those people must be honest.
JAL: Thank you very much, Mrs. Lundh. If I may, I would like to comment a little further. There are two aspects to the matter which you bring forward. The one you have made very clear. To your question that you suggest the public worker ask himself or herself, I should only like to add the following phrase: Am I living my theosophy to the best of my ability I would add those last few words because, Mrs. Lundh and all of you, none of us is perfect, and theosophy and the Theosophical Society was founded for sinners, not for saints. Every leader has made that clear, and we are not fair to our fellow member if we expect him, if he has the aspiration in his heart to do something for theosophy, to be perfect, because he won't be. We cannot be perfect. But those of us who have pledged ourselves have said: I will endeavor to make theosophy a living power in my life.
Now, the big trouble comes in, Mrs. Lundh, where an individual is not really trying to be a better man or woman, is not really trying to live his theosophy, is not really endeavoring to make it a living power in his life. When that person gets on the speaker's stand, the audience knows it, without a doubt. But I don't care how many times an individual fails, if he tries, really tries sincerely, when he gets on the speaker's stand, giving of his heart, no matter how poor English or Swedish he may speak, how poorly educated he is, if he is trying to give to the public from the sincerity of his heart and his aspiration, the public will get the message. It does not matter if he fails, because naturally he is going to fail again and again. We will make one step forward, sometimes two or three steps back. Even the Masters are human. They failed and failed, but they never stopped trying. It is what a man thinks in his heart that is important.
To get back to that grand example of a theosophist, Dr. Erik Bogren: he built up in Skane and in Sweden something that will never die. One of the chief reasons for my going to Halsingborg is to pay respect to Dr. Bogren and lay the groundwork for the reestablishment of a new branch of the Society in Sweden in his memory, so that those members who have written to me, wanting to carry on the work in this partnership, could move ahead. I am seeking for the hearts that want to work for theosophy in the way that Dr. Bogren did. All other troubles, such as disagreements between lodges, then will disappear.
Now someone asked me with reference to Mr. Hartley: why don't the two of you get together and work together? Well, on the surface it would look as though, if two lodges could do so, two leaders could get together and work together. But that is really ridiculous. Forget the personalities. There can be only one leader, and only one. And I don't attempt to set myself up on a pedestal; I want you all to know that. That is why I said to the Cabinet, from now on, from the moment I declared myself, I will be one among equals. I will say this, that if anyone sets me up on a pedestal and starts this leader-worship which has come near to wrecking and ruining the TS from time to time, he will hear about it from me — not unkindly, but I want a group of partners. They will recognize the authority that speaks through me. I don't have to be up on a pedestal. Certainly I respect the respect of those who work with me. But let us understand that this is really a partnership.
My heart has broken to tears more than once when I have seen in this short time good souls influenced, absolutely influenced, unconsciously to themselves, by the forces of destruction that would tear down this temple that we have worked so hard to build. I cannot and will not refrain from raising a strong voice against that sort of thing. I am not raising it against the individuals, but against the force that momentarily is flowing in and through those individuals. I must protect them and protect the work.
I fly down to Goteborg on Saturday morning, and am planning to take the train to see a very old member in Trollhattan, and then have a meeting at the Park Avenue Hotel that night with Mr. Fredenholm and the other lodge there. I spoke to Mr. Fredenholm tonight: I had heard that the lodge of which he is president was solidly behind Mr. Hartley, and therefore had no interest in meeting me. However, I wrote because I thought it was only fair to the members for each one to make his own decisions. I had a very warm letter from Mr. Fredenholm today, making me most welcome. I spoke to him on the phone, and he assured me that the members would be glad to meet with me.
I go to Goteborg Saturday, to Halsingborg Sunday. Thursday night, this week, I meet with Lodge 15. Next Tuesday, after my trip to Skane, I hope to be able to meet together with both Lodge 1 and Lodge 15, hopefully here. I have not made arrangements for this yet, and we will see how that works out. But since we are thinking out loud together I have given you these thoughts for whatever they are worth. I can only speak in the moment, of the moment, and by the moment, as you pull it out of me. I can only speak to you, or to anyone, in the atmosphere of the moment in which combined and individual feelings draw or pull out of me what is needed to be said. It comes back to the daily karmic script — moment by moment is the only way we can live, the only way we can think together, work together.
Mr. Ahlberg: I wish to ask a question concerning what you just said a moment ago. I was thinking of Mr. Hartley. Could not Mr. Hartley through you get such a letter as Mr. Fredenholm has got from Mr. Long, or someone else in a letter to Mr. Hartley could say that you have given us so much concerning true theosophic work that Mr. Hartley perhaps, after getting such a letter, should be willing, should desire to cooperate with you, considering you as the leader? Mr. Hartley has most probably during many, many years in his life cooperated with other leaders, and why should Mr. Hartley not be able to cooperate with you? After Mr. Hartley read that from those who have had the privilege of meeting you, why should he not wish to help you in his true work for theosophy? Perhaps Mr. Hartley himself is very sorry for what has happened. It is very difficult to conquer oneself, but if a hand is given to Mr. Hartley with a wish of offering him a possibility, an opportunity, of giving his forces to the work, perhaps Mr. Hartley would accept.
JAL: I am going to speak slowly, and I want you to get this carefully so that it can be translated accurately. I am afraid Brother Ahlberg does not have the true picture of the situation, and that is no criticism. If you have read the minutes of the Cabinet meetings, which I assume you have, you will know that I made two efforts to talk to Mr. Hartley as a brother, and in both instances Studley Hart was with me, but when I poured out my heart to Mr. Hartley I was accused of attempting to hypnotize him. I say that not unkindly. My heart goes out to Mr. Hartley more than you realize, and every member of my staff has heart pains for him. We know the man. We have lived with him. And his wife has grieved terribly at his actions, because she herself says that "he is under the influence of somebody else" — these are her words.
Others have written him letters, kind letters. I can no longer do anything. Time and karma must do their own good work, and I am in no position to read the past lives of Mr. Hartley that would outline to you or to anyone the karma that has put him in this terrifically unpleasant position. He is indeed a very, very unhappy man, I know that. He is being used, absolutely being used.
You have asked an honest and sincere question, and I see the pain in your heart for Mr. Hartley as it is in many hearts, but there are times in the lives of each theosophist when he must go through the terrific gateways of purification, the trials of which, and the karmic ramifications of which, we know not. Then no one can do anything to give succor and aid to the one undergoing this purification. You who have had theosophy sincerely in your heart have undergone minor and major processes of purification, each one of you. I know I have suffered the torments of hell, and the more that people tried to help me, the harder it was for me.
I will tell you about the gateways of purification, and this is important. All of the leaders have had not only the use of the Esoteric Section, but they have had what were called inner groups. GdeP had the Esoteric Section; he had the KTMG, and he had another group. The members of those inner groups who felt they were, because of their membership, better than others, automatically opened the gates wide so that the purifying flame of karma could come into their lives. The higher they got, the more the flood gates opened, the more tests were put upon their shoulders. If the individual was a member of the Esoteric Section, he by his natural karma and the events of life in the TS said prove it. If he were a member of the KTMG, life in the TS said more strongly, prove it; and if he were a member of the other group, life said even more strongly, prove it. And there in that highest group the teacher put tests that were terrific. Of that group of GdeP's very, very few came out whole. The final test that GdeP gave them was the one in which they thought they were given power from on high as to how to judge an Outer Head and a leader. One of the members who came through that group whole approached GdeP after that particular meeting and said: "GdeP, why did you do that? That is dangerous." GdeP smiled and said: "That is a test. We will see what they do with it."
That I have never told to an audience before, but you have pulled it out of me tonight. Some members in Sweden were members of that group. That is all I need to say. Some members in Holland, some members in the United States were also. I need not say any more, for you all know that it was certain ones from that group who caused the most trouble.
Now if they had the right to have these tests, why should they not be protected? Then in another lifetime they may earn the right again. But to work under the forced draft of that purification — it is not fair to let them suffer and suffer and suffer indefinitely. Doesn't that make sense? Of course it does. That is why certain cancellations were made. Thank you, Mr. Ahlberg, for that question.
And now I believe I have gotten the feel of Lodge No. 1. I had a few questions I wanted to ask, but I think I will save them and ask them of the president or the officers. The one thing that makes a lodge strong in the work is when every member of the lodge really contributes something. It may be only a postage stamp by a poor member; it may be only a thought by a new member; but when they all contribute something, and especially if they all sacrifice a little bit in supporting the work of any branch, then the work grows strong. But if a section or a branch or lodge is too easy-going, and one or two or three members provide the finances, provide all the work, and the majority of the members just receive all the benefits given, the benefits soon lose their spiritual value. To the degree that a lodge or a section or the Theosophical Society itself has to sweat blood in order to keep its doors open, and work hard in order to work for theosophy, to that degree does the spirit flow freely through that organization or that group.
I don't know what the situation is in that regard with Lodge No. 1, but Sweden has had a pretty easy time of it from a financial standpoint; and I feel certain, thinking now of Sweden and the Swedish Section, that if the situation were to continue indefinitely as it has for the past four to ten years, it would not be long until the assets available for the work of theosophy would either disappear, or become a burden to the work rather than a help.
Now we are not rich in Pasadena. I don't want to create that impression at all. We need all of the money we have, and will need much more when the time comes to get into the real publishing program which has been given to us — for it is a tremendous thing. But I am going to try not to depend upon any national section, or any country, to provide funds for our work there. I will depend upon America only, and I have a real reason for doing that. It is not simply to make it easy for the other countries; not at all. My purpose is to allow those countries outside of the United States to accumulate funds for work within their own sections, their own countries, so that the leader can come more often than has been possible in the past. In this partnership which I have started, I can then come and work with you more often, and thus be one of you rather than spending the entire time in the United States and Pasadena trying to help you only by letters. I will write letters to Sweden, to Holland, to Germany, to all of the countries. But I want to feel able and free to come over to Europe from time to time and work with you.
Theosophy isn't only a matter of holding public meetings and getting new members and maintaining lodge quarters. This is a matter today of living our theosophy and getting together such a strong spiritual force actively and positively working for Masters' true cause that its influence will automatically break through into the outer plane and really contribute something to the welfare of humanity and the true progress of our civilization.
I think with that remark we will close the meeting tonight.
The meeting closed at 10:45 p.m.