Lilian Rainford, General Chairman
Peter Stoddard, Local Chairman
Lilian Rainford: I have the happy duty tonight to introduce our new leader to you. I have been with him since the beginning of the tour in England, and I am seeing theosophic history made, and in particular I have learned a good few lessons myself because I have had to be a little bit inactive! I have been waiting, and I have learned more of what that wonderful teaching of the Gita means when it says there is "action in inaction, and inaction in action." I have been inactive apparently, but there has been a great deal of action going on.
May I have the pleasure of introducing the leader to you, James A. Long.
JAL: Thank you very much, Mrs. Rainford. I see some Liverpool faces; I thought this was Manchester! I am glad to see you all here, and thank you for coming.
Mrs. Rainford mentioned something about theosophic history being made on this tour, and she is right. Not only history from the theosophic standpoint, but history from the standpoint of spirituality in action. Now I have no doubt that my habit never to make any plans has been disturbing to certain officials throughout this trip. Wherever I went I would be greeted with this type of remark: "What are your plans, what do you want us to help you carry out?" They soon discovered that I definitely will not make plans, but try to read as I go along what I have referred to as the daily karmic script, try to read the signposts that karma reveals from day to day, almost from moment to moment, so that we do the natural thing at the natural time and in the natural way, rather than putting my will, or anybody else's will, into the accomplishment of the mission that lies before us.
If the Liverpool members have no objection, I think we might talk a little about what happened at the Hotel Adelphi last evening in Liverpool. Some of you were at the general meeting at Liverpool the night before that too. Now as a result of the meeting at the Stork Hotel on Monday night, and the interviews that I held all during the next day at the Adelphi where my staff and I were staying, there developed an opportunity which the Liverpool members also recognized as I did: to do that which the karmic script called for, which gave me at the same time a clear indication of what should be done in England.
The Liverpool membership on their own unanimously in both the lodges there decided to turn over their charters as lodges and to go along as study groups temporarily, until such time when we would issue one branch charter connected directly with Headquarters. The fact that the need was recognized by the Liverpool lodges and the action taken last night made it clear to me that as I go on down through England on the rest of my tour I should present the thought to each group, and if they want to follow the same idea and do the same thing, we will by a natural and easy way have the lodges in England become branches attached directly to Headquarters.
Such action by the lodges would of course eliminate the English Section as it presently exists; it would terminate the national officers: the president, the regional vice-presidents, and so forth. It would mean that there would be appointed a national secretary, a national treasurer, and a recorder or recording secretary, and ultimately as time develops and the karmic needs are indicated, assisting committees might be appointed to aid the national secretary. A little later on, if the president of the Manchester Lodge, Mr. Stoddard, agrees to it, he may ask your opinion on the matter. If you wish, I will be glad to elucidate further the idea, but before doing that I might say just this: I ask you not to miss the real value of these changes that are taking place naturally in the TS. They are not suggested to please the leader or to conform with an idea that he has had. It is not simply the matter of revamping the organizational structure of the TS and of the national sections, not at all. It is in reality a spiritual thing, a basic theosophic thing, that is intended to strengthen our work and to further to a much greater degree the original program of the Masters and of HPB.
Well now, how can what seems to be a minor change in organization bring that about? The revamping of the organizational structure isn't going to do it, because organizational structures can be manipulated all you want but in themselves will never change the heart of things. Through the years in the different national sections various organizational and other problems have arisen so that in each country where we have had a section, there has been a need for some readjustment. In England, as you all know, we have in the north a few lodges; in the Midlands we had in Liverpool a couple of lodges, the Southport and Manchester Lodges, and in the South we have the Bournemouth Lodge, and the London and Croydon Lodges besides a few small groups or lodges in that area, and the Corresponding Fellows Lodge. All are more or less working as autonomous units literally — not completely disassociated, but each living its own life in its own way, which is perfectly all right, but with a lack of national cohesion, not in the nationalistic sense but in the unity sense. That is no fault of the members; it is no fault of any officials. It is something that has just developed through many years.
Now it is my feeling that theosophy belongs not only to England or to Holland or Sweden or Nigeria, but is something that belongs to every nation in the whole world. And I feel that in England, especially in these days of stress, you in this country would not be weakened one bit by having a good strong spiritual anchor to windward. And I know of no better spiritual anchor to windward than a cohesive strongly unified group of theosophists in England, thinking seriously and working seriously in their own hearts in the true spiritual sense. I believe firmly that if and when the lodges in the English Section become branches attached directly to Headquarters, to the heart of the Movement, we will begin to see the immense possibilities. The national sections were created by GdeP for specific purposes at a specific time. That purpose has been fulfilled and has passed, and we must now carry on as the times indicate. That is about all I need to say for background in this connection, and in the forum period you may ask all the questions you want.
This is my third visit to Manchester, though I don't know whether you realize that. But I was here twice in January, and now this time. Manchester has theosophic roots buried deep beneath the surface, and it has had its ups and downs as all theosophic centers which have weathered many storms have had. Manchester Lodge was going long before your present president held his office, and Manchester is still here. There is something about theosophy which gets under our skin, and we cannot do much about it. It is there, and it never lets us rest. We may become inactive in one way or another from time to time, but we cannot stay inactive very long. I will add this: that the lodges here in England, however widely scattered they may be and however unattached they may have seemed, have all fulfilled that responsibility, which HPB referred to in one of her letters to Mr. Judge, as defending forces, which are so few that they need to be strategically placed. As I view the picture, not only from a national standpoint but from a world standpoint, those defending forces have been strategically placed. If you will note the location of your real centers in England, for example, you will observe that the British Isles are covered from north to south, east to west, sufficiently strongly to hold the light until we can put the whole power of those groups into motion along inner lines of unity. Thus what may have seemed to be an inactive cauldron viewed from one angle will become a powerful spiritual current of theosophic strength which will be felt on the outer plane.
As soon as possible I should like to throw the meeting over to you, and will ask you to speak exactly what is on your mind, much preferring to talk with you about those matters which you want to discuss. So, if you have no objection, Peter, let us have the questions now, and see what happens.
Harry Kay: I must be truthful with you, Mr. Long and Mrs. Rainford. I would just like to say that I feel sure we are extremely pleased to have a visit from the ambassadors from America, and the personality of Mr. Van Mater struck me very much indeed — the twinkle in his eyes and pleasant smile and the cheery grip. That is one thing, because in Manchester we are businessmen to a certain extent, and when we are meeting people our first impressions last a considerable time. I feel it rather a quick honor to be singled out to say a few words, but I would like to say this at this particular time, that my heart and soul are in the work for theosophy.
The development of theosophy, not only in this country but in every country of the world, I submit is one of the most gigantic and most inspiring, and at the same time most worthwhile, tasks that any human being can indulge in. I know no greater. Preparation has to be made for that job, not only as an organization, but individually. How can we, all different people, develop sufficiently enough to interest all the various gradations of humanity as we find it today? There was just one particular suggestion in your remarks. I felt you meant to infer that the spirit of theosophy could probably have some effect on the political thought of the present time, but we as a Society have to be very, very careful about expressing our political thoughts, particularly amongst friends. We can be easily misunderstood. How can we interest the people — well, you understand I think.
JAL: Thank you for the question and comments, Mr. Kay. That is what I wanted, and now we will go to town. Before answering your question, I feel impelled to say this: I did not imply any direct relationship between our theosophic activities and efforts and the political situation in the world. And if any members or nonmembers read that into it, I wish they would read it out. Officially we are nonpolitical, nonsectarian, in every sense of these words. And to clarify my simple statement in my introductory comments, I will very briefly say this: theosophy is interested in getting to the cause of difficulties, working with causes and not with effects. The political situations, and every other unsatisfactory situation in the world and in our lives that we see and come in contact with, are effects. Theosophy and the Theosophical Society are interested in correcting the wrong causes which bring those wrong effects into being. Those wrong causes can only be corrected from an inner standpoint, not fantastically, but from an inner spiritual approach, and in that manner alone can we affect the political or any other situation in any nation or in the world at large — but not as a direct objective by any means. Our interest lies in so changing the hearts and minds of men that they will become more spiritual, more selfless, more thoughtful for the wellbeing of others than for themselves. When more of that attitude is felt in the hearts of members and men generally, then the outer effects will change correspondingly.
Now as to your question. I have given the key to the answer in what I have just stated, I believe. I have had a little experience with human nature, and have been kicked around pretty much in this world. I too am a businessman, and I will tell you the big lesson that I had to learn, which cost me a great deal of pain in heart and soul as well as in body and mind. But the big lesson I had to learn helped me to spread theosophy better than anything. That lesson consisted in just this: putting myself and my ideas and my thoughts into the background, and learning to listen and to understand and to consider the other fellow's ideas. I learned an enormous amount in a short time after that first lesson. Suddenly I realized: Jim, they are not all out of step except you; you'd better look to yourself first. I saw that it was I who was out of step because I was so anxious to share my ideas first.
I used to go to theosophic study groups and could not keep my mouth shut, for I thought I had to explain matters. Then one day a friend spoke to me and said: "Jim, I am going to be honest with you. You are just spoiling things." I liked this man. We had a chat. I quietly sat down and took a big strong look at myself, and then I began to learn. It caused much pain and anguish. I put my heart and soul into this thing, and before I knew it, instead of my having to have a say in everything, I found myself glad to let the chairman and everybody else handle the discussion. Then after about nine months or so, I not only was giving theosophical talks, at their request, but I was learning something far greater than I had dreamed possible. I learned more through the silence, the true silence of my heart, than I had learned in my whole life. From then on all the relationships and the situations in my business and in my personal life began to make sense, and I found that opportunity after opportunity came naturally, without my seeking them, to be of real help to people.
That is practical altruism, practical theosophy. Again and again I was reminded of Emerson's simple statement in one of his Essays: "What you are cries out so loud I can't hear what you say." That, I truly believe, carries the answer to your question. That statement covers one of the most occult activities or laws that operate in the silence. What a man is in his heart speaks far louder than any thousand words.
Now how are we going to affect these various gradations of personalities: by our examples, by what we are, not by what we say. That is the only solid way to affect our fellowmen. Then what we are will become so patent that the people we meet in our various walks of life will feel it. Something will pass from our hearts to their hearts, and when we say something, it will be of real value and not just like a recitation from a textbook.
That is a simple answer, Mr. Kay, but I believe it to be a true one. There are no fancy regulations or set of rules. You have been a businessman, and so have I. We have attended sales conferences and sales meetings and all that kind of thing, and heard outlined just what we must do in order to get more business and bring more people into our sales rooms, and so forth. That is all right; that is business. But the Theosophical Society is not a business organization. This is an occult institution, and by the word occult, I mean altruistic, spiritual. The Theosophical Society has not been kept together by salesmanship, or by any other set of rules than that which has as its core, as its first objective, the attempt to establish a nucleus of a universal brotherhood. The only way that that can be brought about is by thinking seriously and self-consciously more of the other fellow's situation and problems than of our own, enlisting ourselves in the service of others. Then we find ourselves truly in the service of the Law. When we do that, that inner heart of us will cry out silently in the right way and will attract those who need what we have to give.
This may be the opportunity, Peter, if you care to do so, to get the opinion of your lodge with regard to the lodges becoming branches, etc. And then we can take up some more questions. You are the president, and I myself would be interested in hearing the frank reactions of the members themselves.
Peter Stoddard: Well, Brother Long, if we could clarify in our minds exactly what the action is going to be? If we do this, it would help. What is going to happen, Brother Long? I ask that question not in any critical sense, but merely as a desire to make the situation perfectly clear to every member here. Do I understand that the charter that we hold now, and the by-laws of the English Section and all those official documents which we have often appealed to in our various ups and downs — is it proposed entirely to do away with them, and instead attach ourselves to the International Headquarters at Pasadena as just a branch of that organization with some official in the lodge in direct contact with yourself?
JAL: You are stating your question very well, and I will be glad to answer it now. It means, companions, that any section by-laws, provided I receive the unanimous consent of each lodge as I go through, which I have had so far (in the United States they required a two-thirds vote), it would mean that the English Section By-laws and the English Section as a separate entity in the TS would no longer exist. It would mean that the by-laws of the individual lodges in the English Section would no longer exist, and that their work in the future would be as branches. I do not mean they would be directed from Headquarters, but they would operate with a national secretary who would be the leader's contact-man until such time as he needed a national committee such as in Holland where they are very, very active.
The whole purpose is to eliminate the barriers that have grown up between the membership and the Headquarters. That is the chief objective. The whole endeavor is to allow the national svabhava of each country to develop in its own national essence as a part of this whole TS body, so that England and Sweden, Holland and Germany, Wales and the United States, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria — all of them would have their individual svabhava contributing vitally to the whole without any barriers.
All of you in England know that here in Europe you have had a terrific task in these late years without having the Headquarters contact as close as it was originally in GdeP's time. I don't mean the personal contact, but with the natural tendency with each section organization during the war growing and working as it has had to do alone and separately, there has developed an overemphasis of section consciousness far beyond its healthy state. In other words, we find here an English Section, there an American Section, a Dutch Section, etc. We are not interested in the English or in the American or in the Swedish Sections as such, but what we are interested in is theosophy and universal brotherhood as it can work and live and grow in England and in the United States and in Sweden and in every country the world over. It is my definite feeling that if we take down any semblance of barriers and make a real partnership out of this thing, not in an exoteric sense but in a truly esoteric sense, the Lodge force as it flows from the Headquarters will freely be distributed to every member in every section, every lodge, and through these focal points reach out to the world about us and to our fellowmen. And this is important too: that world force which is out there that has been touched by the finger tips of the members themselves will also be brought back through those members, through those lodges, and through the Headquarters back to the Lodge. In this way the natural circulation of the force will flow as it should, bringing to the Lodge what it can bring, sending to the membership what it can send.
Actually that has not been happening as it should, and if we are going really to work for our fellowmen and for the progress of humanity, then let us get about doing it in the right way. Let us not kid ourselves with a lot of paper barriers that have grown into barnacles to the progress of the work. It is my job as leader to see the thing in the broad perspective, and to do that which I can to help the membership become more conscious of their individual responsibility.
Mr. Stoddard: Thank you, Brother Long. I greatly appreciate what you have said, and personally I entirely agree with it, but that does not guarantee that all our members think the same — not by any means. And I don't know whether they do. They may have been impressed by their contact with you this evening, which I think they would be. But it is rather a sudden demand to make on the membership so far as I know the minds of the membership. Nevertheless, if they are sufficiently intuitional and sufficiently clear-headed to come to a decision straight away, I have no objection. I have already come to my decision.
JAL: Pardon me, Peter, but may I suggest that you ask the members to give expression to their thoughts? Then you will know whether they are intuitional or not!
Mr. Stoddard: Yes; would the membership prefer to take a decision now, or would they prefer to consider the matter for a day or two, when another meeting could be called within a few days or a week or so? Is there anyone to speak on that subject, please?
Questioner: Could I raise a point, Mr. Stoddard? There is just one thing that arises that worries me a little, and that is over-centralization. I am not afraid of the thing as it stands, but having seen centralization in all its worst forms, as well as its better ones, I think that the danger in any organization is transferring all power to one central authority. I think it has become obvious in political and economic and even religious life that once the power is garnered into one central authority, danger arises. That can be seen, of course, in a political sense, and in the Roman Catholic Church and in other organizations. It is that that I fear, but it is just a point.
JAL: Would you like me to say something on that?
Questioner: Yes, if you would, please.
JAL: I must again repeat the statement that this is not an average organization, and the centralization of power, as you put it, exists. It never has been otherwise. And whether there are national sections or not, and by-laws or not, that power has been centralized entirely. The whole structure of the TS is built upon that. That was the basis upon which the Masters and HPB established it. There was an exoteric and an esoteric section. The Esoteric Section now is closed, and that force is flowing through the TS, and it is basically for that reason that this outer change must conform — not to increase anybody's power, because the power is there — but to allow the members to receive the power that is already there and stop the possibility of its being constantly dammed back.
If you think the leader of the Theosophical Society, any leader, is asking for power or wants power, then we have very little trust in the Masters and the way they work. The fact remains that the power is and has been there. The link has been unbroken, and what I am trying to accomplish is not getting more power but giving more power to the membership — not my own, but the Lodge force that is there waiting to be utilized, but which has been held back at times by national personalities and artificial barriers. It is for this reason that I feel that the membership, individually, is entitled at this turn of the century to come into more direct contact with that force. At this time the whole structure of our inner effort must become different, not in principle but in practice and in operation, up the ascending arc of the century, and we have got to put into practice the things that have been given to us. With the esoteric now become exoteric, and the exoteric feeling the impact of the esoteric, it would in my opinion be a high crime for me not to make the effort, strenuously if it is necessary, to remove any barriers that may be in the way of the Masters' efforts reaching each individual member of the TS, wherever he may be.
Now I cannot walk around and touch each one on the shoulder and have a personal correspondence with each member, but I can ask them to allow of their own decision the inner structure of things to be adjusted to where it was originally with HPB, so that we can get going with the job of this half of the century. And now it has become my responsibility to pick up the threads that Colonel Conger turned over to me and carry on.
The reason I mentioned Liverpool, and the beauty of that experience, is simply this: for years and years there was an attachment to a symbol — symbols are wonderful, but we should not become attached to anything but the vital force which the symbol represents. Without any hesitation they turned over to me two charters, one dated 1888, I believe, which replaced an original one given in 1879, and a charter issued later. When handing these in, their president said to me: "It is just a piece of paper." Now that is removing barriers, friends and companions. That is spiritual activity in the right way. The more we cling to something that we think is ours, the less theosophy we are able to give. And let us not forget that, because that is the thing we must break down. I am trying urgently to break these clinging attachments in order to reach the hearts of every member in this TS. We are theosophists, and we are going to have to live theosophy and make theosophy a practical thing in our lives.
No, when the day comes that any leader, or any member, thinks he should have power, then this TS will be dead, absolutely dead. More trouble has been caused in this TS by individuals thinking that he or she was important. That is dangerous. There is not one of us who is. Our job is to be impersonal channels for the Lodge force, unattached to the results, unattached to symbols, unattached to anything but truth, real truth, as it flows from the Lodge down to the leader and to every member. I am determined to carry out my mission. That is what this partnership is going to be, if I can help to make it so.
Mr. Dean: May I say a few words? I would say just for myself that I am with you wholeheartedly, Mr. Long. Yes, wholeheartedly.
Mr. Kay: Mr. Long: could you explain very simply what this means? It has been rather confusing, and rather a shock to me personally — not shock in the strict sense of the word, but surprising. Do you mean to say that the officials in the British Isles will be in future non-existent?
JAL: The existing officials, including Madame President, will be non-existent.
Mr. Kay: Well, what will be the alternative structure to the organization, so that it can function in the way that it does? Each lodge has been under the presidency of one particular person, and all of them linked with other lodges; and it was stressed that the lodge was more or less a separate part of the whole, but at the same time it could formulate its own independent laws.
JAL: I think I get your point, Mr. Kay. Here is the difference, and it is a very important one. I explained it in brief, but I will now enlarge upon it. The present official status will be non-existent, but there will naturally have to be something to replace it, not as a separate organization but, as said, a national secretary and a treasurer and a recorder will be appointed by myself. The lodges, as they are now constituted as autonomous units within the English Section, will become branches connected directly with Headquarters. The charters, instead of being issued by Headquarters through a national section, will be issued directly to the branches, and they will get their force and strength directly from the trunk of the tree, without anything in between. Their "independence" will be in function just as the branch of a tree. Each lodge will be a different branch, but not separated off from the main trunk. Each branch will have its own individual svabhava, its own natural tendency to growth in this, that, or the other direction, but getting its lifeblood directly from the trunk of the tree, Headquarters, and under the guidance and watchful protection of Headquarters. Headquarters will not tell the branches what to do. The same policy that the Masters follow with the leaders will be followed between the leader and the branches exactly. They do not guide or direct the Society, they have said; they protect it, however.
We are looking to the present and the future, not to the past. We have turned the arc, and we are going ahead, trying to do our job on solid ground. It is really nothing new, but trying to work along natural and basic lines.
Mr. Kay: Will the president of the lodge also be non-existent?
JAL: No, no. Each lodge or each branch, when the new charters are issued, will select its president, just as is now done. I will repeat what we talked about in Holland. They liked the idea and are doing it: that is, when you have a decision to make, whether it is the selection of a president or anything else, then I think you should sit down and discuss it quietly, and not make a move, even in the selection of a president, unless it is unanimous. Then we will get somewhere. If you cannot be unanimous, then wait. Don't act yet. I don't believe there is a branch in this Society that cannot sit down and select a president or chairman unanimously. I don't care how often you have to meet before a decision is finally reached. Talk, discuss, bring up all opposing and minority views, amicably of course, and air every side of a situation. As I told them in Holland, to me the best president of a branch should be just as much of a "nonentity" as I consider myself to be: the servant of the membership of the branch, as well as the servant of theosophy. Now if I had to tell every branch and every member what he had to do, then I would have failed right at the start, for I cannot help any branch or individual by telling them what they should be doing. I can help only by helping them to stand on their own feet. Then we are building foundations that will last forever. But if every time I had to tell them what to do, we would be giving them crutches to lean on, and should those crutches break, they would fall. By-laws are not needed to select a president; and the quicker we get away from leaning on that sort of thing in theosophy, the quicker theosophy will really bloom, first in our hearts and then in our own individual nations.
Annie Johnson: I have been a member of this Society under four leaders: under KT, GdeP, Colonel Conger, and now you, under whom I am going to finish to the end because I shall probably not have many more years to live. But I am going to live under the guidance that I have had all the time, and it has been a very helpful one, helpful in everyday life. You can see things differently through the theosophic ideas. It is nothing very peculiar, but you look upon things from a different angle, and it gives you great courage to live and see the beauties of everything around you which I think is the divinity. You can see the divinity in each one of us in the same way, and it is through sticking to theosophy. I am not a student. I am not going to say I have read all the fundamentals of the metaphysics. I agree with you that that is all right in its place, but I am not one for that. I have often put it this way: when you want to do something for yourself in the way of study, perhaps the milk is going to boil over, then I have got to put the book down. Somebody once suggested you should do it at the expense of the milk. But you see, that milk might be for the baby, his food, mightn't it?
JAL: Thank you, that is very true.
Mr. Baring: As a Manchester Lodge extending over the years, I think we can truly say we are a happy family, under the three presidents we have had. We have something to be grateful for. We have had the pure teachings of theosophy, and after hearing our leader tonight speaking, I say we have something to be grateful for, each one of us. I don't think anything can disturb the Manchester Lodge, and I would like to see a unanimous vote — not a vote, but an acclamation of what our leader has put forward. I would like to see it tonight before we leave. For myself, wholeheartedly.
Enoch Holmes: Madame Chairman, we have had intimations of this new move for some while — not in so many words, but in the feelings, in the air. Peter Stoddard, our president here, has characterized our English activities as being amorphous, and it has been agreed that some integration of this has been required. One of the great works which our national section has been engaged in has been carried out by going around and breaking the molds of mind. This new move is nothing more than an extension, as I see it. I vote fully for it.
JAL: Thank you, Enoch. You realize that it would be a simple matter for me to say: it is done. I have the power, incidentally! [Laughter] But I am not going to use it unless I must to protect the work. There is no danger to the work here. But don't you see the occult value, the real spiritual strength, that will ensue automatically if Manchester Lodge, sensing the impulse, voluntarily and unanimously follows it through?
Theosophy is inward, not merely an outward expression of beautiful thoughts. Let us not forget that. It is the inner force that goes with a voluntary decision to improve ourselves individually that does the real trick. The same thing applies to a group. The Law does not change just because it affects or works through a group: whether a Manchester Lodge or a Liverpool Lodge. If theosophy had not been centered well in Manchester, this lodge would not be here, and we would not be having this meeting.
In reality, you do not need any rules to know what is the spirit of the meeting. As I have said, we should really consider taking a page out of the book of the Quakers. They know how to sit together, in silence, until the spirit of the meeting is felt, and then one by one speaks, naturally, quietly, and after everyone has a chance to speak, the full and right spirit of the meeting is sensed and understood. That is what I meant by coming naturally to a unanimity of decision. It is the spirit of the meeting that we have got to catch and utilize, not manufacture it by a high-powered sales talk. No, that is wrong. But quietly, simply, let the spirit of the situation take over, and then you will recognize the signposts that you will be able to follow.
Mr. Baring: That is typical of the Manchester Lodge.
JAL: I think I know what the spirit of the meeting is, and what the spirit of England is. What they did in Liverpool was this: they went round to each member in the room at the hotel last night, and asked for an individual opinion: do you care to do this, or don't you? You don't want to have anybody, Peter, in this room say tomorrow that he did not have a chance to speak, if he wants to think it over. Why don't you ask each one?
Mr. Stoddard: It won't make any difference to our devotion, nor the attempt to put theosophy into daily life. In fact, this proposal may result in an increase of efficiency from the spiritual point of view.
The members of the Manchester Lodge then each in turn signified either verbally or by a nod of the head that they were in favor of the idea that the lodges become branches attached directly to Headquarters.
Mr. Kay: I don't understand it but I will say this — and I want you to take this very carefully — the impression that our friends from America have given me is that anything that we place in their hands is exceedingly safe. So that really answers the question, doesn't it?
Mr. Stoddard: Then I can happily report that it is unanimous.
JAL: I am not going to thank you for myself, I wish you would thank yourselves for yourselves. That is what I am interested in: Manchester Lodge, not myself.
Mr. Stoddard: Well, that is a courteous remark, but through the years I have discovered this, that anything we do for this Society comes back to us in great benefits of one sort or another.
JAL: There is one thing I have not mentioned, and Mr. Kay touched upon it in his last statement: the one thing that accomplishes the most in this work is the little five-letter word trust — not trust in the leader, Jim Long, not trust in Peter Stoddard, the personality; no, but trust in Masters and the Law. That is the important thing, and if we put our trust there, and get our personal will out of the way, nothing will stop the progress of theosophy in the world. It is my job to get this partnership moving. It has always existed, but it is my responsibility to try to get the members to understand that it carries an individual responsibility to help the leader, and not lean on the leader, so that we can make this work go not merely to 1975 — that is only the very first step — but to give it such an inner strength and momentum that when the messenger does come around 1975 he or she will have something to carry it on for centuries to come. If we fall down on that job, then we have failed. We cannot be concerned with one century; not at all. GdeP has repeatedly urged in his writings for us to think in terms of centuries and centuries and centuries. That is what we are trying to do.
Mrs. Glasby: I feel as if Mr. Long is carrying on the work that GdeP was doing, and we at Liverpool, the officials and those who knew the way that GdeP worked, we all feel the same way: that the work is going on just the same as when GdeP was here, and that this new move GdeP would have done in time. That is what I want to say.
JAL: Well, I do appreciate what you have done tonight for the work. You will find, I am sure, that the work in England is going to progress in a much freer way than it has for a long time. You may not see the results immediately.
L. M. Skaife: Would you like just a remark? I feel the only thing that stops anything in human nature from growing old is to keep the elastic tissues so alive that the connections are still youthful, and that the currents will pass freely from the center to the circumference, and from the circumference to the center, without any barriers. I feel that that is one of the things that is occurring here. That is my impression.
Then there is another point: the voluntary character of the decision. To me it is a matter between life and death. If the decision were to be imposed, it would savor of the latter; but being undertaken voluntarily, it gives life to the proceedings and insures the future. I have no misgivings at all.
JAL: Thank you. It is getting close to teatime, I see, and I will try to say a few words afterwards.
Intermission — tea and coffee
JAL: While sitting here, I was given a letter to read which in the postscript includes the story of the little boy saying his prayers, and ending them up this way: "And please, God, put the vitamins in pie and cakes instead of in castor oil and spinach. Amen." Not only the story caught my eye, but the word God, because immediately my thoughts went back a couple of days to a visitor who came to see me at the hotel in Liverpool — an inquirer, not a member. She came as a result of my utilization of the Christian scriptures at the first Liverpool meeting at the Stork Hotel. For those who were not at the Liverpool meeting I will repeat this thought: we cannot expect an inquirer to come into our meetings and grasp theosophy in ten easy lessons, or even in one hundred lessons. He cannot do it that way. We must deal with that inquirer from where he stands, talk his language, use his idiom and gradually let him see that theosophy does not mean he has to give up his Christianity if that is what he wants, but that it will help him to understand his own faith better. In time he will see that what he thought was Christianity was Churchianity. Then he will recognize the keys that theosophy alone can provide, and he will become either a very good Christian, or he may even become a good theosophist.
I hope that in this new cycle of work you will keep that in mind and take thought seriously of how to prepare ourselves as theosophists to meet the hundreds and hundreds of searching inquiring minds who are steeped in the Christian tradition of thinking and yet are seeking light on what they believe and love. I do not at all mean to throw away the theosophical textbooks, not at all; that would be sheer stupidity. But let us understand and learn how to talk with our inquirers who feel intuitively they may have found their home, but are still held by the old bonds of the faith they were raised in. Let us help them to understand what they really have, and not frighten them away with our great knowledge of the theosophical teachings and calisthenics.
Albert B. Johnson: Mr. Long, may I say a word? What you have said just now is something that I have been trying to work for for fifty years. I have had opposition from my colleagues and theosophists generally. Not that I don't agree with the Bhagavad-Gita and Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms, and all these other things which I have perfect respect for, but I feel centered in the Christian faith, and after I studied Boehme and men of that caliber I came back to the Christian scriptures.
I came into this when I was quite a boy, and this cognition resulted in my early differences and getting kicked out of Sunday school because I was asking too many questions that could not be answered by people who were supposed to know! I have endeavored in my life to find out what these things meant, and to a large extent I have been able to find them out. And I think my colleagues in Manchester will agree that I have stood up very much for the Christian religion — never for Churchianity, but for the Christian religion. I cannot help but endorse your views. I shall very willingly cooperate in work of that kind. As a matter of fact, Mr. Long, we are going back, but paradoxically we are going forward. Of course I quickly recognized, as soon as Colonel Conger turned up, that he was continuing some work that had been dropped for a period.
JAL: He called his administration a transition administration. Now you can be sure that at least seven different transitions were covered!
We can say the same thing about Buddhism, Brahmanism, Taoism, etc. Our job is to study comparative religions; it is part of our objects. If we study strictly and literally only technical theosophy without any relation to anything else, we will begin to pray to the gods to have some real vitamins in other things! Frankly we will lose our perspective and our sense of proportion in regard to the millions who are searching for the very bridges we should have been building from our theosophic point of vantage to theirs. What we have to offer will seem truly like the little boy's castor oil and spinach instead of something more palatable!
Mr. Johnson: That reminds me, Mr. Long, of Thoreau in his Walden. He wished to have the Bhagavad-Gita in place of cold water, for it cleansed his spirit. But on one occasion he read a passage in the New Testament, and someone was passing and he got hold of this fellow: "Come here, read that, I am certain you have never read that before." It was a passage in the New Testament which he saw in a new light. That is how these books should be read: between the lines and underneath.
JAL: Thank you. It is about time to close the meeting now. If I can leave no other thought with the membership around the world, except that each of you individually is responsible for the welfare of mankind, to take seriously and do what he can about it, I think much will have been accomplished. I don't think we realize as theosophists just how effective a right thought and right action are. Mrs. Rainford said that she had found out something about action in inaction, and inaction in action. The greatest action that I know of, and which is referred to in the Gita, is that action that takes place in the secret recesses of our heart when we make a determination to become stronger and better men. We all go through the severe gateways of purification and trial. We must; that is part of the karmic ordeal. On the outside, there is no action at all. But on the inside, the real alchemical action is taking place, the alchemy of the spirit going to work. If our aspirations are strong enough, then life will demand that we prove them to the last farthing. We do not have to wait long if our aspirations are genuine — perhaps only minutes, hours, a day, or a week. That is truly the daily initiation which Mr. Judge referred to. Our daily lives are in fact the only true initiation chamber today. We may make three steps forward, and two steps backward, but if we keep on trying, we get there.
I have had the experience, and I know all of you have to a greater or less degree, of finally coming to realize during those periods of purification and pledge fever that we have created around ourselves barriers of maya, self-created, which make us blame everybody and everything else for our plight but ourselves. When we experience that realization, when it begins to hurt and hurt and hurt, inside as well as out, then we face the facts as they are and determine to set things right from the inside out. When we do that, then we begin to learn the real joy of accomplishment. Then too the gods lean down to help, for they cannot refuse. They must follow the occult law that for every step the pupil takes in Masters' direction, Masters take one in theirs. To the degree that we can make theosophy work as a power in our lives as we go up the arc of this century, putting into practice that which we have received for so many decades now, to that degree will we carry this movement forward and accomplish the job that we are expected to do.
Just as the meeting was about to close, Kirby Van Mater requested permission because of the "beautiful and strong atmosphere present here" to share a portion of the leader's talk with the Stockholm members on May 17. It follows the Intermission of that meeting. At the conclusion of the reading, Mrs. Rainford closed the meeting.
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