Lilian Rainford, Chairman
Lilian Rainford: I have a very happy duty to perform tonight in introducing the leader of the Theosophical Society to you. I think you will agree with me that as he progresses through England he will be leaving at each place that he speaks more of that wonderful force, that Lodge force, so that we can all accept some of it too. I don't want to talk to you because I don't want to take up a moment of his time. So, dear companions — the leader, James A. Long.
JAL: Thank you very much, Mrs. Rainford. I wish also to thank those who were responsible for making the arrangements for this meeting, who made it possible for me to meet with you and speak with you.
Now I should like to pick up any introductory comments that I make from the thought the chairman expressed when she said that I would leave something of the Lodge force with you as I go through England. The thought, of course, was beautiful, and I have no criticism of the chairman nor of the spirit of her comment. But I have found in my trip through Holland, Sweden, Germany, and at our first meeting yesterday in England, that what may seem to be leaving a bit of the Lodge force here and there is really an illusion. I cannot do that. What has occurred is that those members whom I met with have attracted by the very spirit of their attitude a certain amount of Lodge force which they themselves kept with them, but which I did not leave there. That is exactly what has happened. Most of us have read the Christian scriptures where the Master Jesus says: "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I also." Thinking of that from the theosophic standpoint, we know that where two or three are gathered together in the name of the Masters or of the Lodge, there is the Lodge force also. The law operates in such a manner that where two or three are gathered together in the right attitude and in the right spirit, nothing will stop the inflow of that Lodge force to that little gathering.
Thus we have found, and I think my staff as well as Mrs. Rainford will agree, that I bring nothing to any meeting except a desire in my heart to be of service; but that in the course of the conversations, questions, and answers, the members by their very attitude do attract something which makes them feel better and stronger than when they came. So it is they who deserve the credit, if credit is needed.
Many changes have taken place since the Society was founded in 1875 — outward changes, but no inward changes. In those instances where the outer activities conformed to the changing times, there has been progress. Where the outer activities did not conform to the changing times but remained more or less static then there was little progress. For example, those who understood HPB and worked in her stream were able, when two or three came together, to do so in the right spirit and attract the Lodge force. When Judge came along, those members who felt the pulse of Judge's cycle were able to do likewise. But there were some who still felt that this, that, or the other thing should have been done in the same manner as it was done under HPB. Those then did not attract that force which the others did.
One of the greatest stumbling blocks that we have in our work as theosophists is that we allow ourselves to be confined within the limits of our own consciousness, our own point of view, our own attachments. We need to do more of what KT did. One day she was sitting on the banks of the Merrimac by her home town in New England, looking far into the distance. One of her members asked her what she was doing. "I sit by the sea and watch the weather," meaning the weather of the future. I think one of the greatest responsibilities we have as active members is not to try to read the future in any prophetic sense, but to try to read the present and study the trends toward the future so that we might recognize the natural changes that are taking place in life about us. If we continue to analyze only the current circumstances of daily life, we will not be able to fit them into the whole scheme of natural development of theosophic work.
I have a great respect for the Quakers. I do not know how well the Quakers are known in England, but we as youngsters in Pennsylvania used to have a game called Quaker Meeting. The leader of the game would start by saying firmly: "Quaker meeting has begun; no laughing, talking, chewing gum," and the first one who broke the silence was out.
John Tierney: That's right.
JAL: You remember it? Well, that typifies or symbolizes the way the Quakers held their meetings, not only their meetings of worship, but also their business meetings. I don't know if today they follow this principle as closely, but in my youth they would not attempt to conduct any business, if they were a board of directors for example, until they had first sat down quietly enough to feel the "spirit of the meeting." And then when the spirit moved, someone would speak, then a second person. And only after everyone in the room had felt the spirit of the right thing to be done would they act. They never made a decision based upon a majority opinion. Their decisions were made by a unanimous feeling of the spirit of the decision.
I think we can take a page from the book of the Quakers in considering our theosophic work. In my experiences in the several national sections that I have visited, both on this tour and on my world trip, there were times when the natural instinct to get the full feel of the spirit of a meeting was lacking. If that is so, I would suggest as a good beginning point to wait upon the decision, discuss it thoroughly but always amicably, and then let the matter wait awhile. Then bring it up again later, and maybe this time either the first solution or a better idea may come as that expression which can be unanimously felt to be the right one. When it is so unanimously agreed upon, it usually does express the true spirit of the situation which has been squarely faced and dealt with.
That may seem to be a long way round from the initial comment of "where two or three are gathered together," but it really is not. I don't believe there is a member of the Society who has not had the experience of feeling the power of spiritual force that flows into a group wherever there are two or three, or two or three hundred, when the attitudes and the hearts and the thoughts are right. The one thing that we can consider doing which will rightly bring that about more than anything else is to do our natural duties as they come to us in daily responsibilities. In so doing them without compromise we will begin to recognize the impulses and the tendencies in our own characters that are endeavoring to express themselves, rightly or wrongly. We will recognize those that are the positive and constructive tendencies, and those that are negative and destructive. In the analysis and study of these influences that come into our lives from day to day, we have the opportunity to maintain the right attitude and thus attract to ourselves individually a little help from that inner source. But we won't do that if we are not square and honest with ourselves.
We have talked about these things for years, and have studied and studied them, but the time has come in the destiny of civilization when we must put our theosophy to work in everyday occurrences. We must turn that corner of our consciousness where we are no longer willing just to receive, but must start giving — not words but our life force and our life energies — that the world may benefit. As we said yesterday in Teesdale, it was during the cycle of the descending or involution arc when we were supposed to receive into our consciousness the theosophical teachings and to absorb all the light and help from the teachers and leaders that we could. But now we are on the ascending arc of the century where we must take that which we have received and assimilated and transform it into our daily actions, so that by our examples we will light a little brighter the buddhic flame that has been attempting to burn in the heart of each of us. Then and then only will we attract those of our fellowmen who are looking for their home in theosophy, souls who may have perchance been in this work before and are searching for just that light to attract them homeward again.
Now I am not in any mood to preach a sermon, though it sounds almost as if I were doing just that; but I am not. We have had problems in the Society time and again of one kind or another, and those who have found the answer to those problems have always found it in the same place — in their hearts. Today I am glad to report to you here in Liverpool and to those of you from elsewhere, that our Theosophical Society is stronger in fundamental quality than it has ever been. What I have seen and found on the continent, in Sweden, and here so far, has made it clear that while the outer activities may seem to be slower in certain respects, in certain places, there have been a staunchness and a loyalty to the cause in the hearts of the members that have done more to keep the roots strongly anchored, much more strongly than we have any idea of. The job we have now is to make this transition from the receiving to the giving end, from the study to the practice end, more of a self-conscious thing in our lives.
We all know that in correcting a situation that is not satisfactory, we cannot get very far dealing with or treating merely the effects. We must make the causes right, then the effects will take care of themselves. This is self-evident on the physical plane, but how many of us apply these simple laws of nature on the mental, moral, and even spiritual planes? Theoretically yes, but what about practicing a little of the spiritual wisdom that we have inherent in our consciousness? In theosophy we try self-consciously to work with nature, and therefore try always to work with causes, correcting the wrong causes in our natures first, and then branching out where we can in helping to correct the wrong causes and influences in our surroundings.
The same applies to the work of the Society and its influence in the world. We have many organizations in the world dealing with the effects of things. But we in theosophy know that the world situation, the international relationships that have been strained and tense for some time, can only be corrected and harmonized by correcting the causes. You and I as members of the Society can do very little about that outwardly. If theosophy were not rooted in inner causes, we would have been dead as a Society long ago. Our membership is not even a drop in the bucket from an outer standpoint. What effect on the psychology of a nation does our membership in any nation have outwardly? We could go and ascend the housetops and shout our doctrines far and wide, but we would not affect the world, no matter how much truth we spoke. But we will affect it to a far greater degree than we can possibly realize if somehow we would really live our theosophy, make of ourselves real examples of all that we believe.
Theosophy we have said again and again is an inner thing, and represents what HPB calls an active heart doctrine manifesting in our lives. Therefore we can see the responsibility we have as individuals in the world, as lodges or branches, as national sections, and as a Society — the inner responsibility that we have. We cannot emphasize too strongly that the power of a pure spiritual thought and attitude when it breaks through into the world of effects is tremendously magnified, multiplied — not squared, not cubed, but beyond that.
Thus, if we as members of this Society who have worked with the unbroken links of the chain since 1875 — sticking closely to what we might call the raja yoga system of character building, the genuine practical theosophic system of life — if we who have worked in that stream really take ourselves seriously in hand and begin to do what KT enjoined her students to do, consciously direct our own evolution, more consciously than we have ever done in the past, we shall find ourselves members and participants in that great fraternity, able to contribute to the Great Lodge a power and a force that will allow Masters by karma to work even more actively in the world of men; touching this person and that person on the shoulder, and giving quiet but strong help in the silence. We shall find that the causes which have been wrong for so long will ultimately become right causes, and the effects correspondingly will be right effects, and we as theosophists will be a little closer to having brought about more of that universal brotherhood and that alleviation of the suffering of humanity which was and remains the original program of the Masters.
I wish I could make that thought even more clear, but I don't want to dwell on it too long. Whether we realize it or not, this whole task of ours is a very practical one and really a very simple one. As we simplify and bring to the practical level all of the teachings we have had, no matter how technical they are, we shall find that they do answer problems of every sort that our daily life brings. They will answer ultimately the international problems and bring about more harmony and peace.
Now usually I speak for about ten or fifteen minutes, and then throw the meeting open to questions, and in the course of the question and answer period we generally have a fine exchange of thoughts and ideas. I feel this evening that I need say no more in introductory comment, except just this: I have sensed a tendency, not toward formality, but rather a tendency to accept something prior and predetermined, predecided. That is not good, and I would like all of you to feel less formal. Let us feel as though we were sitting around in a circle and exchanging thoughts back and forth. Let me know what is on your minds and hearts. If I don't have the answers I will tell you, and we will find the answers together. Does any one have any questions?
Peter Stoddard: Does the leader envisage in his plans any alteration in our methods of public meetings and study classes, different from what we have been doing during the last fifty years? And may I add, whether it is possible to get better results than we have done in the past by any change or improvement?
JAL: Thank you, Peter. I think as we come to know each other more and more in this work you will find that I don't have any plans. I have not had any and I refuse to make any. I have certain principles that we must always follow, but I have made no plans whatever as to how we are going to do this or how we are going to do that, because I think it would be a tremendous mistake for me to say, even to this group which represents two or three or four places, that no public meetings should be held in this way or that study groups should be conducted in that way. There are no two lodges or two individuals alike, and I don't know what is best for Manchester until I talk with Manchester and see what the circumstances are. Then I might be able to think with you about it. No more do I know what Liverpool should do precisely. But when I get the picture we might find that one thing works for Manchester, and another approach for Liverpool.
That is where we make our mistakes. We hear that Punxsutawney in the United States has had great success with its public meetings, and so we say we must do over here exactly like they do: it is good there, it must be good here. But, Peter, that is not necessarily true. In all our business dealings in any walk of life we know that one man's meat may be another man's poison. What I hope to do is to make this an honest-to-god partnership where we can sit down around the table, either literally or by mail, and talk things over, see what the circumstances are that each member or branch has to face. You may, for all I know, be doing theosophy more harm than good by public meetings. On the other hand, by that very effort you might be doing the very best thing possible.
As an example of this, in Germany there were two groups in one city, each trying desperately hard to maintain public meetings, but with no unity in spirit. The public senses the pulse of a lodge far more quickly than we have any conception. It was wrong, absolutely ridiculous in fact, to expect that any lasting good could come of those efforts. So I asked them please in that place to stop all public activity. We talked frankly together, and they saw the point and have stopped public work until such time as they can work together with the real spirit of theosophy uppermost. In another city in Germany I encouraged them very definitely to continue their public meetings and all activities connected therewith, because the branch itself was so closely knit spiritually that no matter what kind of public activity they would undertake, the force of that group would be an example to the inquirers. That lodge has nearly 200 members.
My job as leader of this Society and as a member of this partnership is not to go around and decide everything for every place. It is rather to help each lodge or branch, and the members themselves, to build a solid foundation for the future. It is the future we are interested in, not only today, tomorrow, or even this lifetime. We have not only to carry this work to 1975; we have to carry it on so that when the messenger comes in 1975 or thereabouts, that messenger will have something that will give theosophy and this ancient wisdom such momentum that it will carry on for many, many centuries. I am satisfied that we can do it. We have made a good start. Numbers are unimportant at this time, but the right spirit in our hearts, the right quality of thought, is very, very important, and that is what we have got to look to first.
That ancient Oracle of "Man, know thyself" is just as potent and effective today as when it was first uttered, and each one of us will benefit tremendously if we sincerely do a little self-analysis, thinking primarily that the inner things are more important than the outer, for when the inner is right, the outer is bound to conform — keeping ever in mind in addition that from now on, with the esoteric forcing itself into the exotericism of our lives on this turn of the cycle, we must make that inner transition in our hearts from the exoteric approach to the inner esoteric. Colonel Conger's statement that the TS was becoming more potent than the ES ever was, was no idle remark. He was speaking the deepest esotericism.
This is getting a long way from your question, Peter. But I would like to talk just a moment on that aspect of the esoteric having become the exoteric, and vice versa. This does not apply solely to the esoteric teachings that have been made public, to the words in the books that we read with our brains and our intellects. We can take them in esoterically, and let them come out to our intellects exoterically, but what does even this accomplish, what does it do? That should be done and can be done, but that is only part of the job. Why have we been given esoteric teachings in the first place? Not so that we might know more than our fellow theosophists, or more than one who is not a theosophist. That would not mean a thing, but would only flatter our pride. The esoteric has been given to us that we might make its force a part of our lives; that we as theosophists, having all of the esoteric teachings available, in meeting the inner problems of daily life might make the effort to look at them, analyze them, and try to solve them with the esoteric or inner keys.
What are those esoteric keys? What is esotericism, what is pure occultism, but altruism? It has nothing whatever to do with yogis who develop psychic powers and all that sort of thing. It is the unfolding of that divinity which resides in the heart of each one of us. It means that we begin to try to live the Golden Rule — to live it, not merely to talk about it. It means that we begin to do those things which have been given us time and time again, but first and foremost to think consciously more of the welfare of others than always worrying first about our own. In that way we will begin to alleviate the great world suffering, not by doing what many of us have done by becoming involved in the duty of another, or by meddling, but by helping impersonally, so that those whom we would help are helped to help themselves. Let us give something from our hearts. If we are really desiring to help, we will be alert to the possibility of what the soul of those we would help is asking for. Even if it is just a thought, just an impulse to touch something in his nature, not as a propagandist, not to try to make him a member of the Society, but to help make his life a little brighter and the road a little clearer. If our deepest desire is to help our fellowmen, then that impulse from our higher nature will touch the higher nature of the one we would help, and when he needs it most someday that little touch will penetrate into his lower consciousness and he will receive an impulse of strength toward the right direction. That is being brotherly in the true sense — that is being a theosophist.
That, Peter, is our real job if we want to help our fellowmen. That is the way we will most effectively help the international situation, unconsciously to ourselves. We should do as the Gita says: act because it is right and good to act, but forget the results. Leave the results to the Law and to the Masters — completely detached and impersonal. I can assure every one of you that if you will do that for one hour every day you will be a better man already. If you can increase that to two and three hours, and finally all day — you will feel some of that Lodge force flowing into your nature and making it alive. It will clean the wick of your consciousness so that the buddhic light will shine far more brightly than now you can imagine.
Maybe there are some other questions. Peter, you can take the blame for that long answer!
Mr. Stoddard: I am grateful to you all the same.
Mrs. Q. Martin: As a comparatively new member, perhaps my question may be a little unnecessary, but do you think that as a new member of the Society it would be safe to teach what we only seem to learn ourselves as a theosophist?
JAL: I think I understand your question correctly, but may I try to rephrase it and see if I have your thought?
Mrs. Martin: Yes, please.
JAL: As a relatively new member who has not had the opportunity to study a great deal of theosophy but has recognized something there that is worthwhile and really worth studying further, is it right for one in that position, before he knows what he thinks may be all the answers, immediately to go to work trying to exemplify what he knows and help others to receive it? Is that your question?
Mrs. Martin: More or less.
JAL: Well, if it isn't, won't you clarify it, because I want to answer your question.
Mrs. Martin: In most cases as regards theosophy it seems a lot of book knowledge, but there is something far beyond book knowledge which is very hard to pass on to others, yet you inwardly feel you have that knowledge within yourself. Do you think it is safe to put that forward without having the technical or book knowledge of the ancient wisdom?
JAL: Now I have your thought. Thank you. Let me refer for a moment to the fact which I have spoken of before, that everyone we meet comes to us either to receive something or to give something. Now that may sound like a very simple thing, but it has far-reaching ramifications when we begin to analyze and study from an esoteric standpoint the contacts we make in our day-to-day experiences. It does not matter if a member has been a theosophist for only a month, and perhaps has never even read one paragraph of the Gita; he has something to give when the right person comes to him.
Now I should not advise any member, whether a month-old member or one who has been in the Movement for over 60 years, to go out on the street and tap John Jones on the shoulder and say to him: "Mr. Jones, I have known you for some time. You are having a lot of problems. Now I have run across theosophy, and it has solved many of my own. I would like to tell you about it because I think it will help you." That approach in my judgment is a great mistake. This may sound strange to you, for hundreds of theosophists are doing just that, and here I come along, a mere whippersnapper in theosophy they think, and dare to tell people who have been following that method for perhaps 50 or 60 years that it is all wrong. However, they are my convictions, and I am going to stick to them until I find something better.
On the other hand, you go out on the street or to your business, and even if you are only a month-old member, if the desire in your heart is deep enough to want to help in the right way, it may well be that John Jones will himself come up to you and say: "Mr. Long, I have been having lots of problems and difficulties lately, and I don't know what in the devil to do. Have you any ideas?" Now even if you have read only one paragraph of the Gita but it has touched your heart, karma will take care of the rest and you will find that you will be given what to say. Do you remember what the Master Jesus told his disciples: Take no thought of what you are to say when brought before the magistrate, it will be given to you what to say. That is an occult truth, and it works. Something from the Gita has touched your heart, and if you are absolutely sincere in your conviction of the truth that you have seen and felt, your heart will touch the other person's — and the Law will operate. In this case John Jones came to you, by karma, and therefore he himself opened the door for the theosophic thoughts that karma has given you, and you will be given what to say. The Law will operate naturally. We will never lack opportunities to help our fellowmen if we do our part.
There again, it is example, the right force of aspiration, which helps one to be of help when the call is made, but without any conscious effort on our part. If he is searching, he will find the light that you are; if he is not searching and you try to blazon your light, you may end up by blinding him instead of lighting the pathway before him. Does that answer your question at all?
Mrs. Martin: Yes, certainly it does.
JAL: There is no prescription that you can write out, for every member is an individual and must find the way that is most suited for him to follow. But there are general principles which are good to follow in these matters and which can be adapted individually.
Question: Would you regard it safe to lead a man from his own religion?
JAL: I think it is completely unsafe and unnecessary. We don't have to take anybody away from any religion. I would never attempt to lead a Christian away from his church because I think that theosophy is better or more inclusive. Theosophy is not any better than pure Christianity, for they are one and the same thing: they spring from the same source. But theosophy as we have it today will help them to be better Christians, and to understand that there is much more truth in this world than they have been taught; that in fact religion, philosophy, and science are three aspects absolutely linked together.
A few nights ago I gave a public lecture at The Hague, called "Is Theosophy Practical?" My purpose was to show how simple and practical theosophy is, without getting into the technical ramifications. Taking this threefold aspect, the religious or ethical, philosophic, and scientific, I showed that the religious aspect is the what of things, what we should do; the philosophical is the why we should do a thing; and the scientific or the practical aspect tells us how we should go about doing something. That simple statement translates itself into a basic formula: for the what, you have the idea or ideal; for the why, the plan of bringing that idea into fruition; and the how, the application of that plan. With that formula you can analyze any problem in life and see where the trouble is: if the idea is all right, then it must be either in the plan itself or in the application of that plan. If the plan and the idea are solid, then the trouble must lie in the way we put that idea and plan into effect in our daily lives. No matter what the problem is, if we apply that basic formula we will be amazed at the ease with which we can isolate the difficulty, which once recognized for what it is, the battle is half won.
Now going back to your question: one of the basic objects of our Theosophical Society is to study ancient and modern religions, philosophies, and sciences. Why should we study comparative religions, modern or ancient? For our own personal knowledge and benefit? Of course not. The answer is simple: in order to help our fellowmen understand the religion to which they have been attached all their lives. When we approach the study of comparative religions and philosophies with that motive, we will find that we will never lack the right word of encouragement and help to any brother along the way.
I am speaking rather forcefully here, because these are points which from experience I am very keen about, keen in the sense of eager to try to help our members recognize the responsibility that is theirs along those lines.
Who else has a question?
Mrs. H. Berman: In reading the reports of some of your talks, you speak a great deal about a partnership, which I think is a very wonderful idea, and about the lodges and the groups of the Society and the individual. That is what I would like to know about. When an individual comes along and wants to join the Society, and asks you what are his duties as a member, or what are his obligations, what would you say?
JAL: Thank you, Mrs. Berman. Your question and comment cover a much wider area than the partnership question, and I will try to cover the whole area as briefly as possible, though I may have to treat them separately.
First of all, let us talk about the new prospective member. We may then get a little light on the way the partnership has already worked. I know that hundreds and hundreds of members have had the idea that all they need to do when they have an inquirer is to assure him that it is very easy to join as he only has to believe in the principle of universal brotherhood. Technically, a belief and acceptance of the principle of universal brotherhood is all that is required, as we have no creed or set of beliefs that any member must subscribe to. But to become a member of the Theosophical Society is a far more significant thing than that. I rarely if ever ask a person to join the Society. Now I don't state that as a policy for everyone to follow, because there again each individual and each inquirer is different. But I myself will never urge an inquirer to become a member of this Society, just for the sake of getting another member on the rolls. I won't say I never will, because when I make a definite statement like that, karma catches up with me very quickly, and it may be that I will find myself in a position where karma urges me to help an individual to help himself. But I am expressing a principle.
When an inquirer comes to me and wants to join the Society as a working member, I usually tell him: why don't you wait a little while until you know a little more what theosophy really is, and what the responsibilities of membership are? Then I explain to him, not the responsibilities to any leader or to any lodge or branch president, or to any section president or to any member, but the responsibility to himself. I make it clear that membership in the Theosophical Society requires a belief and a willingness to work for the principle of universal brotherhood, and what that implies occultly, spiritually.
Further, in my opinion, it should be made clear to each member that when be steps across the threshold of ordinary life into membership in this Society he has in reality entered the courtyard of a temple universal in its scope. And the circumstances in which he places himself are such, particularly today with the occult force flowing through the TS as strongly as it is, that a heavy responsibility is placed on each one to make of himself a better man consciously — and that is not an easy job. All of us know who have tried it. There is nothing easy about it. It is a hard and difficult job consciously to improve oneself.
Every time I am asked, I define theosophy — or at least I express what I consider theosophy to be, as it cannot be defined — as a system of character building. That is what it is reduced to its simplest terms. When a man steps into that courtyard of the temple, he takes upon himself a responsibility to himself, which effort, in accordance with his aspirations, will bring about the difficulties he will encounter. If he is sincere in his heart and is truly aspiring, he will have as potent reactions and as much pledge fever as any one who ever joined the Esoteric Section. I have seen this, especially at this period. Thus it behooves us not to hold members off, but to be honest with them and frank, and let them know that there is a responsibility, not to us but to themselves.
Now where does the partnership angle come into this? The basic idea of the partnership is this: now that we have turned the corner of the cycle and must give what we have received in such generous quantity; now that we are going up the evolutionary arc of our theosophic experience; now that the esoteric teachings have become public, and the exoteric approach must become esoteric living — it is essential that the leader to the best of his ability become more and more a servant, not only of the Lodge but of the membership. To the degree that we can get our hearts so welded together in this work of developing and carrying on the original program of the Masters, to that degree will the impress of that spiritual effort be felt in the world.
Why was it that when I declared myself the leader — you all have read the documents — I stated that this leader would be considered not first among equals, but as one among equals? The time has come when we must be partners in a practical outward sense, just as we were partners in a less active sense previously, though many of us did not realize it. The partnership is no new thing, it has always existed, but it has become more active, more outer in our day-to-day work. Thus I hope to be one with you all in this very real partnership working for the real cause in which we are interested: the salvation of the human race.
Mrs. Berman: Thank you very much.
Mrs. E. Glasby: This is not exactly a question, but your last few words are a repetition of words that GdeP said in Holland in 1937. He said he was not apart from us, he was with us. And you have practically said word for word what GdeP said. It sounded very prophetic.
JAL: Thank you; I did not know GdeP said that, of course, but I do know that all of the leaders have felt exactly as I feel. But the idea and the conception that the membership gets in a natural way is sometimes flavored by a certain type of maya, self-created, in the course of their study and work in theosophy. Thus they automatically begin to set a leader on a pedestal, which has had terrific dangers in the past, because the member doing so, unconsciously to himself, allows himself to become attached to the personality of the leader, whoever he or she may be. That member becomes so absorbed in the personality traits and so attached to the way that particular leader does things, that when the time comes for him to pass on, the member is left high and dry because the successor does not do things that way, does not have the same kind of a personality, does not act the very way the previous leader did. Thus they were confused and sometimes some members were lost for the rest of this incarnation, whereas if they had attached themselves to that which was expressing itself through the personalities of the leaders, they would not have floundered.
Every leader has abhorred this so-called leader-worship that has occurred. In fact, I will tell you a little story. There were those members who did not accept Colonel Conger, who stated that he was the elected leader but that somebody else would be the Outer Head. There were also those who loved Colonel Conger at Headquarters and elsewhere, but a few, unfortunately, began to worship the very ground he walked on, and would come to him: "Dear Leader, Dear Leader, I just want to sit in this spiritual atmosphere for a while," and all that sort of thing. I don't blame anybody, but to give you an indication of the effect such an attitude had, one evening as I went in to say good night, as usual I said: "Is there anything I can do for you before I turn in, Colonel?"
He looked rather forlorn, and said: "Yes."
"You name it," I replied.
"I wish you would write for the Forum a story, a parody, on leader-worship. I wish you would make the setting of it on a South Pacific island, where the members could take their leaders and worship them all they want for a good long time." Then he added with a twinkle in his eye: "Put it on good and thick."
Well, I knew he was blowing off steam, as all leaders do occasionally. I said: "Well, Colonel, I can appreciate how you feel. We will sleep over that one." Of course, I never wrote the article!
We must not lose sight of the fact that leaders are human beings, the only difference, if difference we can say there is, is that they do try with all their being to be servants of humanity. Masters are human beings. They do not claim perfection, but they are servants of higher servants of still higher servants. They are also servants of lower servants of still lower servants — all human. So let us not put any leader on a pedestal. Let us think of him as one among equals, one who is hoping to be of service not only to the membership, but to mankind and to the Great Lodge.
Harry Berman: May I ask a question? We know that each lodge has its own autonomy, almost complete autonomy. And in his wanderings around the world so very recently, has the leader found that the autonomy which was given to each lodge during Dr. de Purucker's leadership proved beneficial? On the whole, has it worked well?
JAL: Thank you, Mr. Berman. That is an important question and brings up a subject I am happy to talk about. Poor GdeP — if he had been buried I know he would have been turning over in his grave time and time again. His ideas on fraternization have become completely misinterpreted; his ideas on technical theosophy have been crystallized and also completely misinterpreted; and his ideas on national and lodge autonomy have likewise been run into the ground. GdeP was not a legal man, he was a student, a scholar. He came to us to write a tremendous commentary on The Secret Doctrine so that we would have something until the end of the century and beyond, something already prepared for the next messenger to start with.
When he put that autonomy into the constitution he was thinking naturally the only way he could think, as an esotericist. He was thinking of svabhava. You could not use the word svabhava in a public document. He was thinking of the national svabhava of England, and of Holland, of Germany, and of the other national units. He was thinking of the individual svabhava of this lodge, that lodge, and another lodge within the nation, within the country, and so forth. He came to do certain work which was to demand practically his entire attention and thought, and could not give personal attention to everything, and therefore had to rely on others. I feel assured that what originally in GdeP's mind was conceived as giving each national section the vehicle that would help bring out the national svabhava and develop individual and national responsibility, was misconstrued into a consciousness of separateness, and in certain places became a parliamentary barricade to the progress of the work. Thus we had decisions being made in national sections, and in lodges, feeling they were autonomous in the literal sense of the word and therefore they could do as they pleased so long as they voted in their own group to do so and kept within the letter of the law, regardless of whether they were working within or cooperating with the spirit of the work as it changes from time to time.
That is why I was so happy that in the American Section they voluntarily abandoned their section framework, and decided among themselves to become branches attached directly to Headquarters. In Holland too, as you will see from the reports of the meetings, there is no longer any national section as such. The lodges there have become branches attached directly to Headquarters, with a national secretary.
It is my hope ultimately, when the time comes, that the svabhava of each national section will call for the same thing, in a natural way, so that we do away completely with any aspect of the idea of separateness. Please understand that this is no criticism of GdeP, because he had a definite reason for allowing this form of national development to take place. But when anything becomes crystallized away from the main stream, as all things do when they go on for years and years without change, then in order to revitalize the work a new type of vehicle must be used.
Let us think the matter through. At this particular time in world history, why should we have national autonomous units, each working off on a tangent of its own? It just breeds the very nationalism that is causing the trouble in the world today, breeds it in an inner sense, breeding separateness rather than unity.
Now I don't believe in making any changes in any national section with an axe on my shoulder, because I would then be defeating my very purpose if I tried to effect this or that, out of time or out of tune with the needs of the country. I have not done anything in any national section that has not been asked for, not only in words but by natural circumstances. When England's time comes — it may be tomorrow, it may be next month, it may be next year — I will know it; and when the time comes naturally, we will do it, and we will find ourselves as a national group of theosophists working in England for theosophy without the barriers of separateness.
Mr. Berman: What about the autonomy of lodges, as such?
JAL: That goes at the same time as the national separateness, and when that change is made, then all by-laws are dead and buried. That happened in the American Section and in the Dutch Section. And I have encouraged those places, when they make decisions, to try to sit down and get the spirit of their task, and they will find themselves invariably coming up with the right decision, unanimously reached. Good Lord, let us get away from trying to solve all our theosophic problems with rules and regulations. Let us try to find the inner solution, the only type of harmony that will last. Let us try as national units and as individual branches to exemplify the brotherhood we preach about, exemplify it in an active sense, then we will find ourselves moving forward with ease and in the right direction.
Now I must add this in support of GdeP's action in establishing national sections. It was a good idea at that time, primarily because GdeP was terrifically burdened with a double responsibility far beyond that which any human being would ordinarily be asked to carry: first, that immense writing and teaching job that he had to do for the future; and second, to dig the Headquarters out from the terrific burden of debt which Point Loma was in, and to follow the Masters' injunction to get smaller Headquarters. He did both. How was it possible for him, who was responsible to every member in the Society, to carry on those two major responsibilities and still hope to have something accomplished in the different countries? There was only one way out, just what you or I would have done under similar circumstances: delegate some of that responsibility, and attempt to delegate it in the best manner possible for the time being, so that the work there would not be neglected but carried on. He entrusted it into the hands of those in whom he had confidence, beginning from Headquarters on. That is why I say the word autonomy was used. But with all things, when the one who initiates a thing passes on, and others who do not realize what is behind a move simply carry on the outer forms, the whole thing becomes fixed, crystallized, and then very soon loses its spiritual value.
The time is here now to do away with all barriers to a flexible framework in our work so that the force can flow freely to and from the membership. The responsibility is ours now to further and bring into active fruition this matter of practical theosophy, and with the help of all we will be able to do the job. I can do only what you allow me to do, and since it has fallen to my lot to do this job, I have given my all to it. I have received great encouragement on this tour for the work. Holland, Germany, Sweden have come through with flying colors in support of Masters' work. In the one or two cases where lodges were having difficulty, after we had had a chance to think out loud about the inner causes of their problems, they have hoisted the theosophic flag at the top of the mast, and are going forward with the rest of the lodges. Their hearts had become clouded by a maya, not only self-created but created by people trying to do their thinking for them. But having given themselves a fair chance to do their own thinking and reflecting, they are seeing clearly what our work in this Society is and are going ahead with it with strength.
John Tierney: My question is this: would it be true to say that the standard works of GdeP, seeing they are so full of technical language, were never really intended so much for ES members but to reach out to the church authorities and the leading men of science so that eventually, in the course of time, instead of being directly for the benefit of ES members alone, he has actually done greater work through these standard books, using that technical high-flown language so that the fruit of his labors may never be lost, so that his labors will affect not only our small theosophical groups, but the whole human race?
JAL: I want to compliment John Tierney upon touching one of the most fundamental aspects of a leader's task that anyone has touched upon in my whole trip. Thank you very much, John.
Mr. Tierney: Thank you.
JAL: I wish more theosophists would think that far. Now let me tell you what I believe in that connection. A leader does not do this or that or the other thing in order to accomplish any particular object conceived by himself. A leader makes of himself in every part of his being to the best of his ability an instrument for the Lodge force to flow through to the membership and to the world. And he may not know when he says or writes or does this today what specific effect it will have in the future. But before I go on with my comments, let me read something which I cut out from an old issue of the Forum. It will help you to understand what I am driving at:
"The Masters do not guide the Society, not even the Founders; and no one has ever asserted that they did: they only watch over, and protect it. This is amply proved by the fact that no mistakes have been able to cripple it, and no scandals from within, nor the most damaging attacks from without, have been able to overthrow it. The Masters look at the future, not at the present, and every mistake is so much more accumulated wisdom for days to come."
That was stated by Madame Blavatsky. Now what I would like to say is this: when HPB wrote The Secret Doctrine she had in some instances no knowledge of what she was doing, what she was even writing. How much less would she know that today in the university libraries the pages of her Secret Doctrine are dog-eared by scientists and students of philosophy and religion, using them for research: scientists using her ideas in their investigations and in their papers, not with any credit to HPB or theosophy — of course not. But can you imagine how happy that would make HPB to see even her brightest dreams far outdistanced? HPB did not know, but the Masters knew what would happen with The Secret Doctrine. That is why we need not worry about trying to look for results of our theosophic efforts. Let us be practical theosophists and work because we must give our lives to humanity, and leave the results to the Law, to the Masters. They will be far better than if we put our finger in that pie.
To return to your thought about GdeP and his books: GdeP knew he was a channel; he knew he had to teach, teach, teach, and to give out that tremendous volume of technical expositions of The Secret Doctrine, which he reexpressed in terms of additional esoteric teaching, given first to his students and later in public form. You will remember what he said about the KTMG teachings: "Some day they will be published, I do not know by whom or when, but the time will come." They have been made public in The Dialogues published by Colonel Conger. It happened to be my good fortune to participate, together with Miss Knoche and a small editorial committee, in the accomplishment of that work under the daily supervision of the Colonel. It had to be done secretly, and in this the Colonel was very wise. Not because he did not want the membership to know — that was one reason, but only a very secondary reason. The real reason was because the dark forces operating in this world had to be surprised. We had to get the job done, at least the first volume out. Even so, during the process of the second and third volume, when it had become known that the project was in course of accomplishment, we found the task tremendously more difficult, to the degree that Colonel Conger said when we finally had completed the job to the printing of the last page, and the final volume was bound: "The membership and the public will never know the drama that went on behind the scenes in the publication of these books." We prepared the copy at Covina, secretly, with the Colonel sitting in his chair at the round table every morning at 10:30. We did not alter the writing at all, the main portion of the editorial work consisted in deleting unnecessary repetitions which naturally occur in the spoken word. GdeP would repeat two and three and four times the very same thing in a series of meetings, which was necessary in teaching, but in the printed word it loses its value to the reader. When a real question came up the Colonel would sometimes apparently be asleep sitting in his wheelchair at the table, and if we could not agree, or if we did come to an agreement and it was a wrong decision, Colonel would sit up as straight as a die and immediately come out with the right answer. What does that tell us? It was "hot copy" right off the esoteric press. You can see why he did not want the dark forces alerted to blockade it.
Now try to hold that picture: it gets to the heart of John Tierney's question. One day I happened to be standing at the large press in Los Angeles where we were printing The Dialogues. There were machines going all over the shop and the noise was terrific. But as I was watching the bed of that giant horizontal press moving back and forth, printing one signature after the other, I was privileged in a few moments of silence there — silence within myself that is, amid all that noise — to feel a little the purpose of the printing of GdeP's KTMG teachings. The picture presented was of enormous potency. It was small wonder to me when Colonel Conger remarked that in his view the publication of The Dialogues would be considered in the future of equal importance to the printing of The Secret Doctrine and The Mahatma Letters. It is my belief that The Dialogues will one day become more popular even with religionists and scientists and philosophers in the libraries of the world than The Secret Doctrine. Those who use these volumes and follow the teachings will probably not label what they do as theosophy, but that does not matter. We have helped our fellowmen impersonally, without attachment, instead of ourselves. The leaders have done it. That I believe is the answer to your question.
It is getting late, but do not worry about me. I am enjoying it, and can stay as long as anyone.
E. A. Holmes: The leader spoke of the onus and responsibilities of becoming a member. Would he agree that there are also joys and corresponding benefits?
JAL: Well, I hardly think I could, Enoch! You have stated the other half of the question, and I am glad. But I always like to tackle the hard thing first, and then to consider the easier and more joyous part. The benefits — who can find the end of them? I cannot. Who can find the end of the joy that comes from membership and the subsequent striving and failure, and striving and success? We are human. That pledge fever or that experience of going through the gateways of purification sent me into tailspin after tailspin, but the wonder and the beauty when one has the strength and the courage to hang on and stick to the job — the joy in overcoming is tremendous. "God helps those who help themselves" interpreted from the spiritual angle is an excellent axiom for a theosophist. When he begins to experience the help of the gods, who literally stoop down when once the first step is taken self-consciously, he then knows what real joy is. From then on, if he sticks to it, no matter how much he fails, there will be a joy far, far greater than all of the sadness of the failures. We will find as we go along with this task which I have tried to help the members recognize, the task of character shaping and making theosophy a vital power in our lives instead of merely lip-service, that our greatest joy and happiness will come to us as by-products of that effort. We have surely all had that experience. If we seek out the by-products of happiness and joy, then they will ever elude us, and even if we do attain our goal, it will be an empty shell. But when we forget them in pursuing the real objective of our hearts, we will experience without our will an unexpected joy which will come as a by-product of our right act. It is not hollow. It is filled with pure gold, studded with diamonds, and this we never lose. We will carry it in our hearts. That is part of the joys felt, and is the other half of the question.
Eleanor M. Leech: I have been having my questions answered by you insofar as I am able to apply them. How would you tackle, please, a question of removing the dead ashes that cover the latent sparks in those who were once members, one or two who were even Esoteric members of Point Loma, but through various circumstances have lost touch. How may I help to fan those flames together, without being dogmatic to them?
JAL: You all know the old Hermetic axiom, "As above, so below," as with the large, so with the small, and vice versa. Individual members, individual lodges, go through the same experiences that a planet or a kingdom or any unit of nature goes through. They have their obscuration period and their active period. Sometimes we have had lodges which have flourished and bloomed for a period and then, for some reason which we may or may not know, went into obscuration, and perhaps just one member of that old lodge kept his or her heart turned toward the light. Strangely enough, and yet not strangely, both Colonel Conger and I have been far more interested at times in those seemingly dormant obscured lodges and the individual who was holding the fort there, than in those lodges which were flourishing. Why? It is also karma. HPB said in one of her letters that the dark forces are as fully aware of the circumstances and the work of the Theosophical Society and its problems as we are, and that the defending forces are so few that they must be strategically placed in different parts of the globe. Thus wherever there has been a lodge that at one time flourished and then has dwindled down to one or two members carrying on in their own small but brave way, it may well be when the karma is right that if that member can hold the inner fort sufficiently strong, a re-forming of that lodge, maybe with new members, perhaps with some of the old again, will in time take place.
I can understand, however, the feeling in your heart, and in many hearts, where members who seemingly at one time were deeply rooted in the Esoteric Section have drifted away from the main stream. Some have done just that, others have become dormant, less interested. But actually there isn't so much we can ourselves do in the way of actively trying to fan the flame again — unless they want to come in again. It may be that some incident in the course of their lives will remind them of what they are missing, and they may in this lifetime turn the spark into flame again. I doubt myself whether we can or should try to effect that process by anything that we may do directly, or with that motive in our mind. The only thing I know to do in such case is to make of oneself the finest example possible. And further, to do what the Master Jesus taught his disciples: to go secretly into the closet of our consciousness and pray to our Father in secret. Those are his words. Interpreted theosophically, we should go into the silence of our being, of our hearts, and appeal to our own higher selves in the hope that some means may be found by natural karma to touch the higher selves of those companions who have left us, that they may be helped once again to fan the spark into flame. That is about all we can do unless they themselves make the move and come to us. When they are ready, there will be no difficulty. But I do not think we can convince by any initiative of our own, except to express the hope quietly and silently, and let the Law take over. Then maybe sometime the karma will be right so that the impulse will break through from their higher selves into their ordinary consciousness and once again they will take up the work.
That is the best answer I can give. It may not be very encouraging, but to me it is the only real way to help.
Mrs. Dearing: This is the trouble in Dublin as regards the apparent disintegration of the Society. There was Æ, W. B. Yeats, and a great many Irish people, practically all of whom have died. And the few I know are unable to get it going.
JAL: I understand fairly well the situation in Dublin. Now Ireland as a national unit by comparison with its former glory has been going through an obscuration period. But don't let it worry you please, because the spark of theosophy, the spark of the Masters, has not died in Ireland.
Mrs. Dearing: Oh no, by no means.
JAL: There is no need to be discouraged. You are there, and a few others are there, just as in other places where things seem to be inactive. One day it will flame up again. I would remind you once again about the defending forces scattered in different parts of the earth.
L. M. Skaife: Mr. Long, do I understand from your reply to the previous lady that you would under certain circumstances be prepared to reinstate certain people whose membership has been canceled?
JAL: Absolutely. The same principle operates there as in anything else, even for an inquirer or an old member who has formerly loved the work. It is not the leader's responsibility to keep out anyone. His responsibility is to protect the work of the Society and of the Masters, and to move it forward as best he can. And if to protect this, that, or the other individual or lodge or the work, it is necessary to cancel memberships or charters of lodges, then certainly by the same token the leader will welcome with open arms that lodge or those individuals when they themselves are ready to come back into the stream of work — not as I define it, but the real theosophy we are talking about. The thing that is important is the work, and we can recognize by a person's actions whether his heart is in it or not. We cannot condemn the individuals, but we can judge the actions, otherwise we would not be able to grow individually, as a lodge, or as a Society. When these actions affect Masters' work, then it is time for a leader to act. But the moment any individual or lodge has eliminated some of the confusion and is ready to take up the work again, that individual or lodge will be received gladly. This has been made clear.
Miss Skaife: In thanking you for that, Mr. Long, I would say I have touched the gold in more than one of those members. I will make it my business to encourage that.
JAL: I would not try too hard, companion. There are times in the experience of individuals and groups when they have the karmic opportunity to deal with and correct certain aspects of their consciousness which need correcting, not for this lifetime or for this particular period, but for the next and the next and the next lifetime. Please remember what I have stated repeatedly, that the Masters are interested in that part of the individual that is going to come back time and time again and be working for the Masters. They have no interest in the personality, the four lower principles. So if we, as the leader or as any member, do anything to interfere with the natural karmic processes that are working to remove the sore spots out of the constitution forever, we are doing that individual an injustice, however much it may seem like a kindness. We must be practical in our theosophic thinking and acts.
We are interested not in this one life, or even in the next incarnation. We are interested in getting that spark of divinity, which is at the core of that reincarnating element, unfolded in our own nature. If we put unnecessary obstacles in the way of another, even if it seems like the noblest act, we will retard the development of that individual. We can and should help them in thought, for compassion — not pity, but true spiritual compassion — will reach them, whether they recognize it or not. But let us not do it with our minds and try to force our ideas upon others. We must face the facts. We are playing with dynamite, with atomic energy; we are playing with spiritual power which exceeds the power of nuclear energy — far exceeds it. That is why I say, if we put the right spiritual force into operation on the inner planes of our consciousness, impersonally and without attachment, and throw that drop of real love and compassion into the reservoir of Masters, then when it does break through it will be magnified and multiplied far in excess of our mental concepts. That is true yoga of the type we are interested in.
John Tierney: May I say something? It is in reference to GdeP. I have often wondered if you can correct a false impression that has arisen in my mind for a number of years. I watched old Joseph H. Fussell when I was attending a meeting, and I particularly noticed that GdeP was an inveterate smoker and Joe Fussell was continually handing him cigarette after cigarette. This is my point: I want to know what was the real motive behind that, as regards driving out things, by using the incense in a church building to drive evil spirits out. I wonder if that was the intention?
JAL: Well, John, I love you for this question.
Mr. Tierney: I don't say there was anything in that because you were doing the same thing! [Laughter]
JAL: These are good old Players Navy Cut, manufactured in England — because I can't get any American cigarettes! I actually believe that smoking does have something to do with the atmosphere of any group meeting, for any smoke, from a pipe or cigar or cigarette, will cling to the atmosphere for a long time. But I don't smoke because I am trying to keep evil spirits away! I smoke because I like to. GdeP may or may not have smoked in order to give certain elementals an opportunity to do a service for him and for the members; but I would rather not go into the subject.
As far as I am concerned, I will state again that I smoke because I happen to enjoy it. However, if the time comes when I should stop smoking I won't tell a soul, I will just stop. If I went around and told everyone I was going to stop smoking, I would never do it. We could say a great many things about that. In fact, there are many clues in the teachings, but as Mr. Judge says we are not at the point in human or theosophic evolution where we need to know how to put the elementals to work at our command. It is too dangerous. Our job is the heart doctrine, and if we do that one day the voice of the silence will speak to us many new things that we do not now know. That is our real teacher — life and the voice of the silence which does not speak.
John, so long as there are members like you, the work will be solidly anchored.
It is growing late. I would like to invite anyone who cares to to come over to the Hotel Adelphi where we can sit down and talk. I will be there all day tomorrow, and any of you are free to come and have a cup of coffee with me, and ask more questions — and to smoke! If a great many come, I will either speak to you in a group, or if any wish to speak privately, we can go into my room. I cannot give too much time to each individual, but I will certainly give all the time that I have.
Thank you, each and all, for coming. It has been a real pleasure meeting with you, and I expect that I have enjoyed it probably a great deal more than you have.
The meeting closed at 10:30 p.m.