Lilian Rainford, Chairman
Lilian Rainford: This is the last call on the tour of the various centers which we have been doing, and I have been with the leader all the time, and it has been a very great experience. I have learned quite a few things, little lessons all along the way. It has been an experience where we have seen quiet people gathering, some rather anxious faces, wondering what was going to happen; and then all those faces have broken down into happiness, and it has really been a joyous time all the way. I know you are going to share that happiness, and I have pleasure now in introducing the leader, James Long.
JAL: Thank you very much, Mrs. Rainford. The way Mrs. Rainford speaks you would think that she is the only one who has learned some lessons! Don't forget that the leader is learning lessons all the time, and has been on this tour too.
In London we are making a fresh start, if I know my theosophic history. The London Lodge has been newly re-formed and is making a new beginning after a period of — not pralaya, nor even obscuration, but just rest. We have with us this afternoon two or three other lodges represented here, Croydon, Bow, and another one in the London area, I believe. Now if I were to give any kind of a message or basic thought to start our discussion rolling, I would choose the main theme as represented today at this particular point in the history of the Society and its work: that we no longer dare sit back and receive and receive and do nothing about it, but henceforth we must consciously make the theosophy that has been lavished upon us a part of our innate character, and start giving it, not in words so much as giving a part of ourselves to theosophy and thus to the world.
The Masters are interested primarily in the causes that bring about unsatisfactory results; and as a Society we have for years attempted to get our finger on the causes of the world's difficulties. It is a big job, but it is ours as theosophists to do. It is really an inner job that we have to do. And what is that? We have members in England, Wales, Germany, Sweden, Holland, United States, Finland, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, and in other countries where there have not been enough to form a section. Wherever there have been members of the Society there has been an opportunity for real work on the part of theosophists to help correct the wrong causes that have brought about and are continuing to bring about the unhappiness in the world today. We don't have to stretch our imaginations too far to realize and to understand that if each one of us, wherever we may be located, took our theosophy seriously and endeavored to make of ourselves strong men and women, spiritually, we would find that we had contributed something of inestimable value towards correcting the disturbing causes that have been mentioned.
We have had a grand experience on this trip since the Congress in Utrecht, and the light that has shone from the eyes of the members throughout Europe and in England has really been something to see and feel. There has been gold found in the hearts of FTS all over the world, strategically placed, as HPB put it, as guardians for the safe progress of the human race.
The arrangement of the room here this afternoon attracted me when I first came in because it was so similar to what we used to have in Washington, DC, when I conducted roundtable discussions some years ago now. I am delighted to see you all. Let us now think together, and feel just as though you were at home talking with me in your own living room, and do not hesitate to speak of whatever is on your mind or heart.
Frank Keep: The morality of civilization as it is believed in by the peoples, I am very much interested in, in connection with the true spiritual point of view.
JAL: Do you mean: what is our attitude with regard to the task we have confronting us as theosophists with our particular point of view of morality, as you used it, in meeting and helping the average human being with what you conceive to be a different concept of morality, to help him see our point of view? Is that the essence of your thought?
Mr. Keep: Yes, that is it. I believe in it so, and they say if you behave and agree to the laws of civilized life, you will have every chance in the world and in the world after. That is so impressed on their minds.
JAL: Yes, I think I see your point and your question. The whole basis and background, or at least 99 percent of it, of the civilized moral structure that we find has been developed and evolved from the Christian basis. I think you all will agree with me that in the West generally, the basic concept of morality and religion is Christian; and all of our laws, civil and otherwise, have sprung from that root.
Now we cannot change the hearts and minds of men overnight, and we cannot rush out to the man in the street and tell him that his idea of morals is not quite complete enough, and that we theosophists have better ideas so he should listen to them and change his concept. Obviously we cannot do that. But this is what we can and should do. Original primitive Christianity was no different from theosophy. Our quarrel has not been with the Christianity that Jesus is supposed to have taught, but with that which has been grafted on the pure teachings, known by the apt term Churchianity. We make a great mistake in attempting immediately to convince inquirers of our most technical theosophical teachings. We scare them away almost immediately instead of being able to talk to them in their own language and give them a theosophic key which they can use in their own scriptures, helping them to understand their faith better. The same principle applies to Buddhists or Mohammedans, or whatever faith the peoples of the world are devoted to.
The only practical way that I know of to help broaden the concept of true spiritual morality in the minds of the masses is by starting right at our own front doors, by ourselves putting into practice that which we have been preaching and talking about for 75 years. That is the only way it will truly work out in a practical occult way. It is simple, but true. We read about karma, and we glibly say everything is karma, and so forth. We say that theosophy is the most practical philosophy there is, but do we really put it into daily, hourly practice? Theosophy is no good whatever if we don't live it; it can't get us anywhere unless we make our living the instrument of the heart. Every teacher has made clear that it is the heart which is the core of all our being, the source of all our thinking and action. It is the heart that is the organ, the spiritual center, literally the pathway to that spark of divinity which is struggling so hard to manifest its influence in our lives.
That is practical occultism. It is not a thankless job; it is not a job that will give us glory and compliments; but it is one which will add spiritual strength to the world. Thus a new and wider concept of morality will gradually be accepted by the peoples of the earth. Does that touch upon your question enough for the moment?
Mr. Keep: Yes, thank you.
Questioner: Does it matter whether a person realizes it is theosophy he is receiving?
JAL: It does not matter at all. But let me enlarge upon this thought and apply it to an inquirer who comes to us at a public meeting, and why I think we will not get satisfactory results if we urge someone to become interested in theosophy; or if he has begun to show interest, if we urge him to become a member right away.
When you enter the Theosophical Society, you enter the outer court of a sacred temple, and no one can step across the threshold of that court consciously, with aspiration in his heart, without feeling a reaction. Everyone who has a deeply rooted impulse to become better crosses that threshold, but the moment we do that life demands almost in the next breath that we prove our aspiration. Where there is sincere and deep aspiration, the testing process automatically goes to work.
I know from experience. When I got into theosophy, karma descended upon me like a ton of bricks, saying more potently the more I determined, prove it, prove your worth, prove your aspirations. When I entered the Esoteric Section which is now closed, it was terrific, for the fires that burn upon the threshold of purification really scorch one's soul if one is sincere. Sincerity and the strength of one's aspiration are the controlling factors — they are the barometers.
I am afraid I have gotten away from your question. No, it isn't necessary to shout immediately that you are a theosophist. Let your inquirer ask you. You will reach much further into his heart if he wants to find out what your philosophy is, rather than have you try to sell him yours. I don't know if you have as we have in our country salesmen coming to the door and trying to "sell you a bill of goods." What is your immediate reaction? You can't close the door of your house, but instantly you close the door of your mind and decide not to buy. It may be he has a good article to sell, but you haven't asked to see it and therefore don't want to be bothered with it. That is exactly what happens when you try to "sell" theosophy, when you hunt people out to tell them they ought to be interested. You have lost your "sale" immediately. But if a person sees how you react to the daily exigencies of life and knows you are a theosophist, or even if he doesn't, he will when he is ready come to you and say: "Look, I have seen how you meet certain circumstances, both at your work and elsewhere. What is it you have? How do you manage to keep calm and keep your perspective?" Right away he is asking you, giving you the opportunity. Because the door of his heart is open, you are invited to enter and talk to him, and what you have to say will mean something. Perhaps it will mean something so powerful as to change the whole course of that man's future destiny.
That is the way I think we should go about trying to interest people in theosophy. But I would not set this as a rigid rule, not at all. Each one of us has our individual svabhava, and we must work with that, not against it. As a general principle, however, I think the above has the possibility in time of attracting those souls who are on the fringe of becoming theosophists, though they do not yet know what they are looking for.
Frank F. Potter: May I put a question? This is one on the strictly practical organizational work of the Society and in London. I am assuming that one has done what he can to bring this inner thing to birth within himself; and coming down to the practical plan of the organizational work of the Society, and particularly in London — we have here a huge city, I believe Greater London to have ten to twelve million inhabitants, and it is fast expanding so that you can go from one side to the other, twenty miles or so, with houses and buildings and things all the way — we have three lodges, the London Lodge, Croydon Lodge, and the Bow Lodge.
I know that members are not the important thing, but the question that I really want to ask is this: Do you recommend holding fast to what we have, building up those few centers? Or do you recommend also trying to spread out and build up other centers, because that latter thing has been tried to some extent from London, and not very successfully from an outward plane of results? People cannot come long journeys to local lodges. Croydon Lodge is ten or eleven miles, and Bow Lodge is also several miles out from here. It is a practical question as to what you would recommend.
JAL: Thanks, Frank. There are no two places alike, and I do not know the exact answer for London. In principle the answer for London may be, though we should feel this out, to have ultimately one lodge for Greater London, and have as many study groups as you possibly can. However, the moment I say this I realize that there are many details to the picture which may make this quite impracticable, at least for the present. A lodge exists as such by reason of the group getting together primarily to do public work. If it is there just to study theosophy and do nothing about it, you would not need a charter at all. It could function just as a study group, which it would be in fact. You have public meetings I take it in Croydon, and possibly you also have public meetings in Bow. It may be advisable to have three public meetings in the London area. You see there should be no set rule or fixed plan.
In Los Angeles where the distances are at least double your distances, and we have no underground, they had seven or nine lodges there, and at the beginning of Colonel Conger's administration he had hoped for them to have just one lodge, with all the rest study groups; and periodically as circumstances proved the most satisfactory have a large public meeting where all of the efforts of these lodges financially and otherwise could be pooled together; then to maintain as many study groups as possible in the various areas.
One trouble we have to watch is that differences of personality do not interfere with the main objective of our work, which is for humanity. To allow differences of viewpoint, clashes of personality, or even jealousy between lodges, to set in is just plain hypocrisy. If we cannot find that small center of unity in our diverse personalities, then let us quit posing as theosophists. Of course we cannot succeed 100 percent, but we can watch ourselves that we don't run into this problem. I don't believe you have this difficulty in London. But see the picture: an inquirer comes to such a public meeting, and there are present members from several different lodges. One says, "You come to our lodge meeting"; another says, "No, you come to ours"; and a third says: "Ours is the one you really should come to," etc. Nip that attitude right in the bud, and announce in your public meeting where all of the study groups are located so that the inquirer himself can feel that he may try out any or all of them, and decide himself which one he would like to select to attend. If we act in this manner we will not only be doing the inquirer a favor, but actually we will be doing the greatest good for theosophy, because people will see that theosophists are acting in a truly brotherly manner and not vieing with each other for the most members, etc.
As far as London is concerned, I would like to talk the matter over with you, Frank, and Mrs. Rainford and with Dorothy Adams after this meeting, and see what your thoughts are. I personally see no difficulty in London, and so long as everything is going all right in the London area, you can work the matter out one way or another. The whole point is this, Frank: we should do whatever is necessary and natural in our respective communities to bring about and further this active spiritual partnership. It is nothing new, only we have not worked very hard at it, and now I would like really to see this partnership in action so that there is a natural freedom of interchange between Headquarters and the members everywhere.
I might mention here in passing, that while HPB was universal in her work, Mr. Judge fought for autonomy so-called and independence from Adyar when it began to go off the track when HPB left Adyar; then KT came along and ripped everything organizationally apart. Things had begun to crystallize by the time she came, and in order for her to allow the circulation again of that force between the Headquarters and the members she closed up nearly all of the formal lodges in many countries, and gave specific directions of what to do, how to do, and where to do. Then KT died, and GdeP came along and established autonomous national sections again. Colonel Conger in what he called his transition administration did not do anything about that kind of thing, but concentrated upon sowing the right kind of seeds in the right places, so that when the next phase of the work was to come we could do that which would again free the inner force to the membership. So what happens now? Autonomy so-called again is going out the window. Here is where the danger lay in the past, and where with the help of the gods I will not allow it to happen again. This is a partnership. The times have demanded that the leader be not first among equals but one among equals, which means that I am going to try to work with the members throughout the world.
We are building today for the future, and we should not have to have any more of this zigzagging as in the past, where the swing of the pendulum goes too far one way and then has to be given a great push to swing it the other way. It is a big job we have, this partnership, and I need your help and the help of every member to think together honestly about the problems that arise, not only in your individual efforts, but in the national efforts. I am grateful beyond words for the strength and understanding and comprehension of our members in the various countries. Did I answer your question, Frank?
Mr. Potter: Yes, thank you very much.
JAL: At this point I should like to ask if there are any members here who have to leave at a particular time?
Questioner: Could you tell me when a person enters the Esoteric Society under persuasion, how does the pledge affect him or her then?
JAL: I have not had that question asked before, and I thank you very much for it. But I have seen that occur in my experience, and my heart ached when I saw it happen, but I could not do anything about it. That is certainly putting the cart before the horse in this business of occultism. We should never, never encourage anyone to take that step. Never. But for me to read the karma of a situation such as that, I would have to know details — not to read the detailed karma, but to give a closer answer to your question. However, depending entirely upon the inner basis of the degree of knowledge the applicant had, that individual who urged, and by so much forced by his will the applicant into the Esoteric Section, then it is my feeling that in proportion to the knowledge the applicant had will be the difficulties of the one who persuaded him to enter. In other words, we have not the slightest idea how we entangle our own individual karma in the karma of another when we put our finger into what is that person's business and none of ours — whether it is joining the Esoteric Section or the TS.
There is danger in the duty of another, and particularly when matters of this kind are involved, and we cannot take it too seriously. To take upon oneself the responsibility of influencing another in esoteric matters is a terribly dangerous thing. I saw what happened in this matter of accepting or recognizing a leader during Colonel Conger's administration. During his entire leadership a few of GdeP's highest group at Headquarters, who had the respect of the membership throughout the world, utilized that position and that respect to attempt to influence the minds of other members. This was esoterically a wrong thing to do. We have seen the karma of that operate. The fire of reaction that those members of that higher group have had to work through and live through, in spite of the blindness of their self-created maya, has been the result, in my humble opinion, of the reaction of partaking in the duty of another. It cannot be otherwise, because as soon as we in an unnatural way by the use of our personal will involve ourselves in the duty of another, we find that our difficulties will become just as hard to resolve as it would be to separate a drop of ink from clear water once the ink has been placed in it. That is exactly what happens in our karmic relationships when we impose our will upon another individual.
The same thing has happened in varying degrees with many individuals who have touched the stream of spiritual force that flows through this Society. We need not look far in the history of our work to see it. A member who has the true spirit of theosophy in his or her heart contributes much to the work, very much. Then he gets to a point where he begins to feel that he has done pretty much and must be quite important. But you and I and the other fellow are not the ones who should take credit. If we are sincere, we make ourselves channels, for a longer or shorter period; and as long as we make ourselves clear channels, the Law is such that the Lodge force must pour through that channel to a greater or less degree. But the moment anyone begins to think he is important and that he is the one who is doing all that good work, then the channel closes. Human nature being what it is, self-justification and other aspects of the negative side of human nature come into play, one by one; and sadly, those who thought they were really important, key figures, pass out of the picture. And it will continue that way. There isn't anyone important in this work. We are all channels and should strive to remain such, so that the natural laws can flow through our whole being and allow us to be truly theosophists in action.
No, I should never never encourage or urge another member, if the Esoteric Section were open, to become a member of that section. Each one of us must step across the threshold ourselves. The only way we can really encourage one to take that step is by being a worthy example, and then he may inquire about it. It is dangerous, highly dangerous, to put our wills into the duty of another. Does that answer your question?
Questioner: Yes, thank you.
Questioner: Why is it that in teaching or trying to help sometimes, there seems to be a tendency to take on, as it were, that thing from the other person that you are working against for the time being?
JAL: Let me understand your question. In other words, if by natural circumstances a fellowman comes to me or to you with a problem, and you are attempting to help him solve his problem, then you or I take on the effects or take on the difficulties that that individual is experiencing. Is that what you mean?
Questioner: Partially, or having the feelings? Is it necessary?
JAL: It isn't necessary. I will remain as simple as possible in what I have to say, and not get into technical aspects of things. The best way I know to answer that is again to refer to the unfolding daily karmic script that I have so often spoken of in relation to the people that we meet from day to day, and also keep in mind the things we have said with regard to persons seeking us out for help, or we seeking other people out in order that we might help them. I will venture the opinion, or the guess, that where an individual does experience what you have mentioned and takes on the shortcomings, or whatever it is, of the other person, it has resulted from the fact that he sought out the other person in order to help him.
Now this may sound like a paradox. Sometimes there is a pull from an individual, without words. And that is why I say we must try to read the daily karmic script and try to keep our personal wills in the background. I don't mean that if you see a man having a difficult experience, you should just pass by and, as I have heard some theosophists, say: "O well, that is his karma." The good Samaritan came by and helped the man, dressed his wounds; that is our duty. But discrimination is necessary. In helping someone, the best protection for both is to become as impersonal as you possibly can: impersonal and selfless. If he comes to you and asks for assistance and help, then if you try to help him to help himself, there is not much danger. But if you actually do something for him, then you become enwrapped with his difficulty immediately.
Take a physical analogy: I find myself, because of wrong actions, wrong attitudes, wrong ideas, in a difficult financial position. I go to the bank, or to anybody, to borrow some money. It helps me over a little while, but it doesn't correct my difficulties. And the same thing happens again; and I borrow some money again. Perhaps I even have not been able to pay the other fellow back yet, nor what is more important have I done anything about the thing which has got me into financial difficulty. You can see, therefore, what the bank or the people who have lent me the money have run into: they have taken on the results or the effects of my weakness in that they are undoubtedly going to lose the money. And what have they done to me? They have weakened me rather than strengthened me.
Now this does not apply to every case, not at all, because each individual circumstance and situation is different. But the principle is there. If as theosophists, for example, we knew definitely that I was in this bad financial state because I was getting too much of the wrong kind of help, somebody doing something for me where I should have been carrying my own load, then the real brotherly thing would be not to loan me the money, but to allow me to find out the hard way so that I would change those qualities of my character and living to become more self-reliant. But as I say, each case is different.
Generally speaking, I don't think the individual who has had the natural opportunity to help someone else will take on that which the other person is suffering, if he is helping that individual to help himself rather than doing something actually for him to weaken him. Does that answer your question, at least in principle?
JAL: Mostly; well, won't you state what part it doesn't answer?
Questioner: Particularly moods of people, and even in argument or in trying to show them a way. It seems like give and take: they get something and you lose something.
JAL: I think I see what you mean now. This little angle you may not have thought of, or maybe you have. If we are discussing something with someone, and we are not getting anywhere and are not able to touch his heart or mind and the door is closed, we might as well stop, because words will never do it. To the degree that you or we allow ourselves to become engulfed in the same maya in which that individual is engulfed, we will feel the effects of it. However, there is another way, and just as effective in the long run, but you won't see the results probably. That is not to argue and not to speak, trying with your brain to touch the other's brain, but to listen quietly, sympathetically, and say as little as possible.
Colonel Conger gave me some excellent advice one day after I had been feeling very blue about the fact that a certain person whom I had tried to help had simply turned around and become even worse than he was, in spite of the fact that I had been led to believe he was really trying to straighten his life out. When I was all finished telling the Colonel about it, he looked at me with fire in his eyes: "Young man, you forget that there is such a thing as karma." I saw a lot quickly!
I said to him then: "What would you do in a case like that?" And his answer was: "There isn't much you can do except when you do talk to him, don't expect your words to have an effect, but let your words make their appeal from your higher self to his higher self, and forget about results." I have found that that works, and very speedily too. In that way, you don't take on anything and yet you really help where the help is needed: you thus strengthen the inclination of his higher self to break through a little further into his lower consciousness. That is what he needs. We don't then impose our will. But in the kindness of our hearts, we send a thought to his higher self with our higher self. Then the magic will work. That is about all we can do at a certain point.
Questioner: There is another aspect of that in the case of where you are surrounded with all kinds of attitudes, and where you try very hard to stick to things that you know are right, nevertheless you do tend to take on that difficulty.
JAL: That is true, and I don't want you to get the impression that what I have said in the positive sense can be attained just as quickly as you turn on a light. No, it takes time and perseverance and understanding. I know exactly what you mean, because it is a terribly hard job under certain circumstances of daily life. But theosophists are practical individuals, or should be; and we must start now to put some of our philosophy into practice. The more sensitive we become, the more we notice and feel the atmosphere of places. There is only one thing we can really do, not with our words, and that is this: come with a strong impersonal attitude, and do not try to change things, but just give a right thought into that atmosphere, and let it go. It will have its effect in time.
Remember what I have said again and again: every person, every circumstance, every atmosphere if you like, which we meet offers one of two things: either to give you something, or to receive something from you. Now if you give a right and constructive thought into that atmosphere, and don't attempt to impose your ideas or argue your thoughts, but quietly do your job, trying to see the good and the fine in people even though their outer ways may seem very disturbing, I think you won't have too much trouble. You may find that that very atmosphere will help to build certain qualities in your own nature of strength, patience, and understanding that we all need. If we run away, then we are not fulfilling our responsibility of giving that something which perhaps is the one thing needed to change the entire polarity of a condition.
Frank Hunter: I have been reading a book on India by Paul Brunton. I have heard a lot about him, but do not know whether he is a true occultist or not. What is your attitude toward such a person who delves into yoga and the idea of personally reaching the grand experience?
JAL: We had a person in the public meeting in Berlin ask a question similar to this. I told this young lady that I had read Paul Brunton in the early days of my searching for truth. I am familiar with his books, not in detail, but I will say this that I don't think anyone would lose anything by reading him. The main difficulty I found in Brunton was that after a certain point he becomes so completely absorbed in his own mysticism that he loses his practicality which he needs and we all need in our daily life; and for a member to allow himself to get floating off in the clouds, thinking he is not far off from complete identification with the divine, is not good. But in his earlier books in particular, Paul Brunton is one of the safest I know, and I would not discourage anyone from reading him, because it is a step toward the real thing. I would suggest that you not try to follow his later books, where he goes more deeply into the various types of yoga, because when you come right down to it theosophists must always look for one thing: the basic true raja yoga. This is practical occultism, and however good any other philosophy or system of training may seem, unless it is the true raja yoga, it is not true theosophy. If we stray from that, we get into difficulty. On the other hand, if theosophy does not have an answer to any problem in life, then I will begin to look for something else myself!
Please feel completely free to express yourselves, as long as you have questions to ask.
Questioner: Do you get much opposition from the Church?
JAL: It depends upon the locality. In some places, none at all. In other places, very much. I think one of the reasons for continued opposition is that the average clergyman has not experienced the sympathetic and understanding attitude from many theosophists toward Christianity. On the other hand, clergymen who have done a little studying themselves are wide open to the theosophic influence. In fact, I know of one or two places where the minister himself mentions HPB and has quoted from her Secret Doctrine. I have a friend in my own home town who is a theosophist and has charge of the Men's Bible class in a Presbyterian Church there. The minister knows he is a theosophist and has invited him to give talks to his own class. I gave one of them on invitation on the Mysteries in their various aspects. More and more broadminded clergymen of certain denominations are opening up to theosophy. The Unitarians in our country are very liberal, and there is an increasing number of others. The Congregationalists too are broad — obviously they would be because they have begun their effort toward brotherhood in their congregational organization.
It all depends upon the part of our country you are in, and I imagine the same general thing is true here. In the East in our country, they are still pretty fixed in their beliefs — particularly in New England is it difficult; likewise in the South we still have a great many of the revivalist type of churches. Generally speaking, too, that is where we have the fewest members. But in the Middle West and the Far West we have very little opposition, if any.
You find here and there a clergyman who is extremely bigoted, which reminds me of the story of one minister in particular in the south of Sweden, who rose in his pulpit and started laying down the law about theosophy, saying it was "the work of the devil," and in order to prove it, he told his audience that "whenever you speak theosophy, or look at a theosophical book, or talk to a theosophist, all you see is a blue light!" I don't know what he meant, but associating that shade of blue with the devil just did not make sense in my mind. One of our members in Sweden told me about this, and I got a good chuckle over it.
Questioner: I have a friend who was confirmed a short while ago, but before she was taken in, she said to the minister: "I believe in reincarnation, is that all right?" She said he sat for a few minutes, then said: "All right." So that is looking as though they are thinking about these things anyway.
JAL: They have got to. Intelligent people in the clergy as well as their congregations cannot evade much longer the fact that around 80 percent of the world's population accepts reincarnation. The whole East does. It is an accepted fact, and critical students of the Christian scriptures have dug out enough evidence to indicate that the Master Jesus accepted it. There are evidences in the scriptures that the translators and commentators thought they had removed certain clues, but they did not succeed very well. All of these things are good signs. I myself know some very fine ministers and dignitaries of the Church who are very broadminded.
Questioner: I should not ask this, because I am new, but I have had an interest in what is generally called Spiritualism because they are tending very much towards what is really theosophic thought. And they are getting away from the phenomena and all the funny business that has brought them into disrepute, and they do really prefer speakers with a theosophic point of view and tendency. I do feel that it is a great pity that something cannot be done. I really don't know what, but I was hoping that something could be done in the future to amalgamate or bring them into our work more actively. I feel that we have rather treated them as we have treated Christianity. We have rather looked down our noses at them.
JAL: Thank you for the comment and the thought. I too am very glad to have found that in certain quarters Spiritualists are beginning to get away from the phenomena aspect. I don't think there is any doubt that in time, if they are sincere and really seeking for truth and not for justification of their own ideas, they will automatically as individuals come into the theosophic work. It was not without basic reason that HPB when she began to work in the United States sought out the Spiritualists in the hope that she could show them the truth, get them on the right track, and use them as the first nucleus to found this Society. But they were too enwrapped in what they had found, and would not understand. She had to drop them. Since that time there has been an improvement, but not to the degree that they themselves want the true philosophy behind their phenomena, however many good and very sincere people there are among them.
From an organizational or group standpoint, however, it is not our responsibility to attempt to bring about spiritual unity by any outer adjustment on organizational lines. Spiritual unity is an inner thing, and to the degree that we exemplify our theosophy, then those with open minds who are seeking truth will find in us an example that they will want to follow. They will then come to learn more about it. The magnet is that which we carry in our heart, for what our hearts say cries out so loud, to paraphrase Emerson, no one can hear a word we say. That is the truth, for that which we are in our hearts as theosophists will cry out forcibly, regardless of our words.
I believe that the real reason that the Spiritualists have begun to drop some of the phenomenalistic aspect and are looking a little more in the direction of theosophy — I am not saying in the direction of the Theosophical Society, but theosophy per se, the god-wisdom — is that some of the seeds that were implanted there by HPB are beginning to take root as ideas. In the cycles of time and generations, I too hope there will be more and more recognition, and that they will follow along the right line of endeavor.
Others are doing the same thing. In fact, in Cardiff one of our members speaks regularly in a Spiritualist group. He is a Welsh miner and speaks straight theosophy all the time.
Questioner: Do you think that justifiable and advisable?
JAL: Why certainly. Any theosophist can go to any Spiritualist group, or any other. Individually he has that right. We do not interfere with the individual rights and responsibilities of any member. But I would not make a blanket statement and say that officially it is all right for this person to do that or another. But if anyone asks my opinion about this case or that case, I would want to know the facts pertaining to that particular case. Individually, a member can do whatever he pleases; he can go to any church, belong to any organization he cares to. This is not a dictatorship. But when he represents the Society officially, that is another matter.
Questioner: I myself was in the Spiritualist group. I got tired of all the phenomena, and wanted something more, and here I am.
Questioner: Regarding joining our Society: I think even in GdeP's fraternization idea of the theosophical groups, they were not expected or invited to join.
JAL: Now you bring up a point that has been raised in Manchester and in Liverpool, and it has likewise come up in other countries of Europe as well as in our own United States. In the brief period of my administration I have had a number of questions asked with regard to this, because obviously people say: well, you are interested in brotherhood, and yet you don't feel that the two societies should fraternize. As I have said repeatedly, any member of the Society is free to attend any meeting of any kind, theosophical, social, historical, or what not. But officially we have a one-pointed duty as theosophists of this Society, and that is to work for theosophy in the stream in which we karmically have our responsibility. We know what caused the splits in the first place, and we know that the separation of the two societies was for the health of the Movement. We know that HPB was ordered to leave Adyar long before she died and work away from that atmosphere which had become more and more exoteric and further away from living theosophy.
Now there are of course many many fine members in the Adyar Society, excellent theosophists, just as there have been and are some poor examples of true theosophy in our own Society. I know also that there are many members and even lodges within the general framework of the Adyar Society who are working against the type of theosophy that the headquarters of Adyar has allowed to be promulgated, and still is permitting to be disseminated in their publications. One of their members, as a matter of fact, in Holland recently gave 50,000 guilders to have one of HPB's works translated, with the strict injunction that that money be used solely to get HPB on the map again theosophically.
Thus one day when the inner conditions are right, there will be a natural getting together, because then all will be truly following the original system of raja yoga, character building, with a close adherence to the original teachings and program of Masters. Nothing will be able to stop it when the time comes. But to try to manufacture organizational union is ridiculous. It will be a common recognition of truth for truth's sake. In the meantime we do have our karmic duty as members of this Society to live our theosophy and work for our theosophy as it has been given. Does that answer the question?
Mrs. Shaw: May I, Mr. Speaker, thank you for your tribute about there being some good members in Adyar. I am an Adyar member myself. I also joined Mr. Potter's lodge because I feel that we ought to try and be friendly, and in Croydon we do work in a very friendly way. But as I am an Adyar member, and have been since 1925, I did feel that I ought to tell you that there was one here.
JAL: Thank you very much. That is all right; I am not afraid of what I say because I have kindness in my heart. If there is any unkindness, then I have no business sitting here. Thank you again for speaking so frankly, it shows what a strong character you are.
Mrs. Shaw: I thoroughly enjoyed your talk. Thank you.
JAL: This matter of theosophy is an inner experience. When the real truth of the god-wisdom touches our hearts, I don't care what we belong to, we are brothers in the feeling and recognition of that truth. And the Masters are compelled by the occult law to recognize, not outwardly but inwardly, the buddhic light wherever it shines, and of course it shines in the hearts of many, many Adyar members, many ULT members, but not in all our members! No, I am not trying to create that impression!
The Masters work in many many places. Wherever the field is fertile, there will they plant the seed. When I have stated that the TS is the only formal organization that they have established in the world, that does not mean that it is the only organization they work through. It is the only formal organization in which they formally express themselves in the world. They do touch the shoulder of people here and there in high places, in governments and elsewhere, when the karma is right and the buddhic light is shining in the hearts of those individuals. They were not far away when the Constitution of our government in the United States was framed and written. And they are not far away in any country where the situation is right.
That is why I say it is up to us as theosophists to do our part inwardly, in order for them to have more and more opportunity to touch more and more people on the shoulder.
Mrs. Shaw: May I ask a supplementary question? With regard to GdeP and the Fraternization Movement, I understand from what you have said that GdeP never intended any organizational mixing up of different societies, but I did understand that he did want friendship between the individual members of the different societies.
JAL: That is quite a different thing.
Mr. Frank Potter: Because there was a kind of war between individuals.
JAL: I am not talking about friendship when I talk about fraternization. Fraternization anyway is a very poor word, I think. Friendship always, and I don't mean manufactured feeling, but friendship from heart to heart is always right. Organizational fraternization is something different.
We must realize above everything else that the occult laws are natural laws, simple laws, and that if every two blades of grass are different, no two alike, which science has proved to its satisfaction, then why in heaven's name should two societies that have by karma separated this way, be alike at this particular time, when karma and the natural situation has not pulled them together? But there is an inner unity developing in that diversity that we are interested in developing naturally, not by organizational manipulations, not by your will and my will, but by the examples that we make of that inner light. Inwardly we will find one day that we will be linked together on a thread of spiritual truth, working solidly, consciously, in the direction that was originally intended in order to ameliorate the sufferings of men and help along the progress of the human race as a whole. That is our real job as theosophists.
Dorothy Adams: Can you explain what GdeP meant at the Centennial Convention which was held in London when it could not be held at Point Loma? I was just employed by them as a telephone clerk. I was not in the office, but GdeP said that the object of the Convention had been achieved, and I always understood that the unity had been achieved on inner lines.
JAL: I am afraid that I cannot answer that question with any sense of feeling that I am telling you what GdeP meant. I don't know what he meant by that statement. If I had been there, maybe I could have attempted to say what he meant. But it is awfully hard for anyone to say what a leader means by this statement or that, especially when it is lifted out of context, and also if he does not amplify or explain it himself. Some statement may mean one thing in his day, but if I were to say the same thing under the same circumstances in this day, it might mean another thing. Personally I would not try to state exactly what GdeP meant.
You see the principle is this: a leader may at certain times and under certain circumstances make statements to one or two persons, especially when he is speaking unofficially, that may be understood in quite a different light by other persons whom he may not be talking to at the moment, but who hearing something give an interpretation to it that may have little to do with the inner issue a leader may have in mind.
Then there is the other case of a member coming to a leader full of his own ideas and plans, so full of them that he does not realize there is no room left for any idea that the leader may be waiting to give him. That person asks a leader a question, and what will he get? Colonel Conger, for example, would often say that the best way to teach anyone something is for them to learn by experiencing the fact that their way won't work. I remember one time a certain official felt that his prerogatives had been encroached upon, and he told the leader so. The leader replied simply: "The Masters are behind every appointment and every office in the TS." That was all he said. The individual in question immediately assumed that Colonel Conger was giving him carte blanche approval of his methods and ideas, so he went along on that basis. What the Colonel really was telling the member was that the Masters are behind every appointment, and that every appointment had a karmic responsibility to the work, all of which experience was for the benefit of the work and of the individuals. But he did not mean that every action of every individual and every effort for the work would not have its problems and difficulties, or that every individual was right in everything he said and did.
Do you see the point I am trying to make? I repeat, it would be wrong for me to attempt to say specifically what GdeP meant at that time, because he was undoubtedly talking of some specific phase of the work and to a few individuals who would understand or at least grasp to a degree a part of what he had in mind.
Intermission — Tea and Coffee
You have been very patient all this time, and I don't want to tire you. This is a great life. In addition to having an Adyar member, I find we also have a door-to-door salesman here too! You remember I had been talking earlier about that type of salesman, and a young man came up to me during the intermission and said: "I am a door-to-door salesman." [Laughter] We understand each other, and we had a good laugh and a nice chat. It is all the difference between having an axe to grind and not. If we are trying to put our truth into practice, we will never run into difficulties with the personalities, for they will understand because our heart will have touched their hearts — in spite of our words. To me it is a perfect example of what can be done in this theosophical work.
Now I would like to emphasize for the benefit of the young man who asked the question regarding Paul Brunton, that the later works of his have definitely gone into the practice of yoga activities that are not of a healthy sort. I wish he had not allowed himself to do this, and just because I mentioned that I had at one time been an admirer of Paul Brunton's earlier works, I do not want any one to go away with the idea that this Society or its leader is interested in sponsoring anything that even remotely deals with breathing exercises or any yoga other than raja yoga. We believe in evolving our character from within out. All these exercises in order to bring out and develop all these powers of one kind or another will be of no use anyway at the end of this incarnation. They pertain to the four lower principles of our constitution and will certainly add nothing of spiritual value, and may in fact do a great deal of damage to one's inner nature. Our work is directed to the development of the true inner character of the human being, that which will incarnate from life to life. That is why it is much wiser to follow the raja yoga method and evolve those permanent characteristics from within out. Then all growth is lasting, and no efforts will be lost.
We have covered many points this afternoon, and I have enjoyed it very much. I want to give anyone who may have a last question an opportunity, and then I think we had better close as it is getting late. If there are any further questions, please ask now.
Questioner: I am too shy to ask it.
JAL: That's all right. Take your time.
Questioner: First, if we are all different, why do we have to become one? And then, the one I really want to know is, who are the Masters? Every one talks about the Masters, and I am a very new theosophist and I have never understood who the Masters are.
JAL: Well now, we have two questions. If I got your thought on the first question, you are asking: if each blade of grass is different, and each individual is different, then why all of the effort to become as one? Is that the thought?
Questioner: It is the feeling that everything is developing in nature and in the human being; and it seems to me that in theosophy all you are promised in the end is a cessation from developing, so that you can go into a common pool and lose all of the characteristics that you have taken all the trouble to build up. Also, who are the Masters?
JAL: I think we can handle the two questions together. In theosophy, we try to think in terms of long periods of time with regard to the evolution and the growth of the human race, as well as thinking of that task of evolution and the responsibility each of us has, thinking of it in terms of today. The two approaches are necessary. In the first place, the individual unacquainted with theosophy as regards this matter of self-conscious, self-directed evolution is gaining and will gain, we hope, in the end the same experience and the same opportunity and accomplish the same purpose of raising the qualities of his lower nature to the level of his higher nature, just the same as those who self-consciously try to do the job. But all life in this universe, all action in this universe, is cyclical and of a spiral nature. Now, I am not going to get technical, but I must use the spiral in this sense: that as we make the complete circle it goes always a little bit higher.
Now the human race in all its diversity in the process of gaining experience — each one of us individually, and all of us collectively, in the long ages of progress around that spiral within the life-wave of humanity — has experienced life in the first root-race, the second root-race, the third root-race. In the middle of the third root-race the separation of the sexes took place, the Garden of Eden story in the Christian scriptures, and man tasted of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, or right and wrong, positive and negative, I don't care what you call it. Man at that time became a self-conscious individual and was given the freedom of choice, the use of free will.
Questioner: May I ask a question just here? When you say that man became conscious of good and evil, do you mean before that time there was no differentiation between good and evil and the sexes?
JAL: That is right, as far as our consciousness of good and evil was concerned. It was at that point in evolution when the white magic, that beautiful experience, took place with the life-wave of humanity; when what we call the manasaputric action occurred; what the Christian followers who have the wrong understanding of it referred to as the fallen angels, or Lucifer. From that point on, that magic or quickening of mind in the human race made it possible for us, individually, to be self-conscious, with free will; from then on we began to make karma and get our experience and participate in the active working of the law of karma. The Master Jesus spoke of it when he said, not one jot or tittle is missed — and it is not.
Thus today we find ourselves in the fifth root-race, having accumulated a tremendous volume of what some people call good and bad karma — I don't like that phrase — but where we have accumulated tremendous opportunities. In the first place, each one of us came into incarnation with a certain portion of that past karma on our shoulders to be expended and worked through and worked with during this lifetime. The pleasant karma, the pleasant circumstances that we find ourselves surrounded by and in, are the result of good qualities that we have developed in the past by the use of our free will, and it is our responsibility to put those good qualities to work for the benefit of our fellowmen. The unpleasant things that we experience are not bad karma, no, but opportunities for us to work with ourselves to stop the operation of the causes which brought that negative karma into our lives, so that we by reading that daily karmic script can recognize the qualities in our nature that need to be improved.
Now in the cycles of time, each one of us being different of course, each of us gaining experience in the school of life has gone through and will continue to go through various grades of school of that type needed for our development. To the degree that we learn our lessons and pass the examinations of life, we advance to a higher grade, with additional qualities, spiritual qualities, in our nature developed.
In the course of all this, it should be obvious that there are many, many grades of human beings, many below the level of attainment that you have acquired, many above.
Questioner: That is what has puzzled me very much.
JAL: Yes, well, when we begin consciously to direct our own evolution we move ahead a little faster. I don't mean that we are better than others, because if we think we are better, then we will automatically drop back. The same thing can be illustrated by climbing to the top of a mountain peak. You can wind round and round and up and up a little at a time until you get to the peak, or you can if you choose say: "No, I will not take all that time. I am going to get right straight up the side." Self-consciously you begin to do it, and the opposition to that is terrifically greater, but it is possible to overcome that opposition. There are individuals who have recognized their sublime duty to their fellowmen and have decided to improve their character to such a degree and at such a rate that they will be able to qualify at an earlier time to really help humanity. There are several grades of such individuals with that attitude of mind. There have been forerunners of the human race, just as there are forerunners of the animal kingdom, and there will be forerunners of the next race, and so on. These forerunners in past cycles had attained the place where, had they chosen, they could have stepped across the threshold into what in Eastern terms is called nirvana, and enjoyed the perfect bliss they had merited by their efforts until the end of this great cycle. Instead of doing that, they said: "No, I shall not step across until the very last of my brothers can step with me." That is the quality of the buddha of compassion. The one who has attained spiritual perfection and who does step across the threshold of nirvana is referred to as the pratyeka buddha — but he has worked solely for his own advancement, not for the human race. When the next big cycle comes, the karmic merit, not the personal merit, of a buddha of compassion in having refused that bliss until the very last of his brothers could accept it with him, will be far greater, and he will find himself far in advance of the pratyeka buddha.
Now in these great cycles and lesser cycles, what is it that takes place in this life-wave of humanity? Even though every individual is different, there is one thing that is the same, and that is the spark of the divinity that is at the heart of each one of us. To the degree that we raise the qualities of our whole constitution to that point of divinity as represented by that divine spark, to that degree do we become more and more similar instead of at variance with each other. But until that last dewdrop slips into the ocean they are all different. When it does slip into the ocean, then that is the end of the big cycle. Yet nothing is lost. When the next cycle starts, the ray of divinity will be in the heart of each one again; and in the new cycle those who have made the grade, passed all the gradations of the previous cycle, will begin on a higher level another long series of experiences in schools of life. The spiral keeps on; in the final analysis, it is experience inner and outer that we are gaining in the process of our differences, yet we are never the same nor will we be the same spiritually or otherwise, until that spark slips into the ocean of divinity for the period of rest until it manifests again.
Is this helpful at all? At least in part, regarding the first question?
Questioner: Not all. What I meant really was: then the differences experienced during this upward rise actually don't count for much? They don't really mean anything?
JAL: The differences do indeed, because it is through these differences that we learn as a vehicle of evolutionary development. What would you learn if everybody and everything were alike? It is in the school of life that we learn to work with all kinds of conditions and receive all types of experience. There is no end of anything and nothing is wasted, because as the evolution of the individual attains what is relatively speaking its end, when it comes again into the next big cycle all of these experiences are there in essence within the character, and the cream of those experiences in the next cycle is there to be used in the further development for that spark of divinity on a higher level. Though we all as units disappear into the ocean of divinity at the end of the cycle, and it looks as though all has simply returned to its source and that all the trials we have passed through in developing and evolving individually are wasted, everything of spiritual value is held in seed in that spark of divinity which is you, which is me. And when the new great cycle comes around and those sleeping seeds of divinity, those sparks of divine fire, come forth again, then all that is latent as experience from the past has a chance to blossom forth again in the next cycle. Does that answer your problem a little better?
Questioner: Yes, it does very well indeed.
JAL: Now as to the Masters: they are what we call the Great White Lodge who have attained varying degrees of relative perfection, from the lowest grade of mahatma to the Maha-Chohan as we call him, their superior. Their duty in serving their fellowmen can only be carried out in the manner in which they work. They have reached that point at which they can do more for humanity, not by avoiding or running away from humanity, but from a position of greater perspective, outer and inner, and where they are in a better position to work self-consciously with karma.
Now that is a long way off for any of us to be able accurately to read the karmic script of another individual, but they work with the karma not only of individuals, but of the race and of nations. In order to do that they must not be too close to the trees so that they can see the forest. Obviously there are a great many levels of individuals, and if we have studied comparative religion and mythology at all we will find, as we can even in the Christian scriptures, that there are not only great men but grades and levels of gods up to the highest of this globe, called the Silent Watcher of this planet; and that other planes and globes have their silent watchers, as well as the sun too, and so on ad infinitum. There is no end to evolution.
The difficulty we have as human beings and as theosophists is to realize fully and completely what the Master Jesus said in answer to the question as to how he performed those miracles. His answer was: "It is not I that do these things, but the Father that worketh within me. And these things that I do ye shall do also, and even greater things." This is nothing more nor less than the basic teaching of the ancient wisdom: that there is a divine Father resident within each one of us, the spark of divinity that we have been speaking about; and it was that that the Master Jesus said performed the miracles, which were no miracles in fact. "These things that I do, ye shall do also, and even greater things": as theosophists, if we realize the potential greatness spiritually that we have residing within our hearts, and trust the Law, we too one day will do exactly as the Master Jesus said. We will then be contributing our spiritual strength to those guardians of the human race — those Masters of Wisdom and Compassion who in their wisdom and knowledge of the world's karma can work more strongly with that karma to bring about the salvation of the human race itself.
That is the original program of the TS. That is the program of the TS today. That is what I am trying to make more alive in the heart of every member of the TS, and I will keep on trying until I die.
I think we had better close the meeting.
The meeting closed at 6:15 p.m.