Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at Amsterdam

April 24, 1951 — 8 p.m.
J. G. Crabbendam, General Chairman
G. Geerlings, Local Chairman
Jan Hoogervoorst, Translator


Mr. Crabbendam and Mr. Geerlings welcomed all present and explained the general purpose of the meeting.

JAL: That was a beautiful and a warm welcome. As usual I have nothing prepared to say. I would like you to feel, however, that we can think together, informally, and exchange our thoughts and questions with regard to the work ahead. I have the feeling that there are some questions here tonight that you would like answered before I outline some thoughts that I have.

Hans Kooistra: I have received two questions, of which I shall read the first to you.

JAL: Please state the name of the questioner. I would much prefer that each ask his question himself. May I speak on this, please?

Mr. Crabbendam: Certainly, please do.

JAL: In this matter of questions, it is not a cut and dried thing. If I want to do my full duty as the leader in this work of ours, then you have got to be honest with me, just as I try to be honest with you. I am speaking to you collectively. I cannot and I will not attempt to answer a second-hand question. Now, I say that not unkindly, but in fairness to the individual who wants the answer. If I can make myself clear: there is only one way to answer a question honestly, and that is to have the questioner ask the question himself, as he understands the question in his heart. By the contact the questioner makes with me I will be able to give the answer in accordance with the questioner's asking of it. Thus if one has a question, and it is given to a second or third party, the karma is mixed up before the question is even asked. This is practical occultism, and if we cannot be practical and work honestly, we are going to fail before we begin. I say this to help all of us to understand each other and to help us to work together properly.

There is one other thing I would like to say in that connection. I don't want to embarrass anyone, so that if there is someone who has a question that he does not feel he wants to ask in public, or in a meeting of this kind, I don't want him or her denied the right to ask the question or to get the answer, if it is possible to give it. For that reason, if there are such at any of these meetings, I want them to feel free to tell me, and I will be glad to speak to them privately afterwards. After all, there are some questions in the minds of people which are of a private nature, and the answers to which would not mean anything to a group of people. I want to be completely fair. I don't want to evade any questions. On the other hand, I have got to be fair to the questioner. It would be very simple to throw in 101 questions and not get a satisfactory answer to any of them if we mix them all up.

Mr. Crabbendam then asked Mr. Kooistra if the questioner is here, to which Mr. Kooistra replies: "Yes, it is Cor."

Cor den Buitelaar: Dear Leader: In Utrecht you spoke about that spiritual reservoir by means of which the Masters could work for humanity, and I am sure that many of us would like you to tell us something more about the spiritual reservoir, and how we can try to strengthen it?

JAL: Thank you very much, Cor, and I hope you do not feel embarrassed by the preliminary conversation, but that is the way I like to be — simple and honest and straightforward, and then we all get along much better. I can see you wanted it phrased in Dutch for the Companions, and that is fine.

It is a beautiful question, one that I love to think about, a subject that I love to talk about, and as theosophists we cannot get too full a picture of just how really practical the Masters are, and what tools or instruments they have to work with and what are their supplies and equipment. Those of us who have studied a little technical theosophy and a little of the practical background of the occult laws that operate in this universe and in this life of ours, know that there is a reservoir of material resources available for physical existence; that there is a reservoir of mental resources available for our mental and intellectual existence — and I will only take the threefold aspect — we know that there is a spiritual reservoir, there must be, available for our spiritual subsistence.

What is it in the first place that puts the material in these several reservoirs to make them available to us? Certainly, on the material plane it isn't too hard to understand, because the universe came into being, and this globe came into being, with a certain reservoir of material essence of matter that has broken down into the various kingdoms and is available for the use of all of us. It is constantly changing, the atoms even in that chair are moving at great rates of speed and, as science admits, the chair isn't really as material as it seems. We know that the atomic structure of our physical bodies changes every seven years, and we don't have to use our imagination to know and to see what goes on with those life-atoms as they are constantly leaving our physical constitution and having their particular peregrinations through the various kingdoms of nature before they again come back to us.

When we get to the mental plane, it becomes a little more difficult to follow, yet in principle it operates the same way. Our individual minds are working all the time, and there is a constant stream and a constant circulation and peregrination of all the thoughts and ideas that pass through all our minds, coming from and going into a universal reservoir of thought. I don't think I need to go into a lot of detail there. There is nothing new under the sun, it is said, and when we get what we think is a new thought to us, we think we have created it, that we have found it and no one else has ever had it! But in a little while, when we catch up with some of our reading matter, maybe in a year, maybe half a lifetime, we find out that someone had that thought several hundred years ago, or perhaps a thousand years ago. We discover then that those thoughts which the ancients had are still circulating! We give them impetus or we slow them up, we add value to them or we detract value from them, as they pass through our own mental consciousness.

Now as we come up the ladder of hierarchies through the several planes and principles of our constitution, we see that the elements that are utilized on those several planes become more subtle to our perception. And we also realize and we know that the more spiritual those elements become, the more potent they become in their effect on the outer plane.

I will just set that thought aside for a second and go back to the early days of the human race when, we are told, there were those forerunners who by karma in the early periods had the responsibility of setting the mold for the humanity that was coming. Those forerunners were the first ones to pour into that reservoir of spiritual force their very essence, so that we started off at that early date way back there with what you might call a spiritual bank account deposited to our credit, for our use. Now I will quickly come up to date — I don't want to make a long story out of this. It isn't too difficult to realize that when mankind was given free will at that point which is referred to in the Christian scriptures as the Garden of Eden story, and Adam partook of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, from that time on he became a self-conscious individual and was put on his own. He had to then, whether he was conscious of the fact or not, direct his own evolution, by trial and error at first, of course, until he finally caught up with theosophy or its equivalent in the appropriate age, and began to realize that he was consciously self-directing his evolution. Well, within that long course of time, an individual sometimes contributed to that spiritual reservoir, sometimes he overused his share. The fact remains that for every truly spiritual thought each one of us has, for every spiritual deed and act, we do contribute something to that reservoir of spiritual force which is still available and still utilized by those guardians of the human race or their successors, let us say, the Great White Lodge.

Now, taking the whole of humanity, we cannot borrow money, spiritual money, in life. In other words, the Masters, the Great White Lodge, if they should happen to run out of spiritual resources, just as an extreme example, from that bank account, they cannot borrow any to tide them over, because there is just so much available that has been put there in this manvantara and that is all there will be, except what we add to it. So don't you see, as we go up this ascending arc of the century now, how vitally important it is that we as theosophists should all of us recognize that we have a responsibility self-consciously not only to direct our own evolution, but self-consciously to contribute to that spiritual reservoir of force that is available for Masters' use? More particularly today, with the international scene and our fellowmen internationally having the deep-rooted problems that they are facing, the Masters cannot help that situation with any more material than we send them, than we provide, plus what is already there. They must work with karma.

Thus it gets back again more or less to the starting point where we as theosophists can serve the Masters and serve the work and serve our fellowmen best of all by becoming good examples of theosophists in our daily lives. And as I said at the Congress, the widow who in the fullness of her heart and in the true spirit of Masters' cause contributes to a neighbor a needed postage stamp does far more than many, many individuals in the world, whether inside or outside of the Society, who without this spirit think they are doing great spiritual work. Some of them are, but the quiet simple spiritual effort is the one that counts for the most, and that which we do in the secrecy of our own heart and in the quietness of our own closet, as the Master Jesus has said, is rewarded openly. I don't mean the individual is rewarded, but the results are seen openly in a very potent manner. Does that answer your question, Cor?

I would like to add just a few words. I stopped where I did because I want now to mention the obvious outcome of the individual's effort to contribute something to that reservoir of spiritual strength, and what happens so far as the Society is concerned when each individual does his one-pointed duty in unity with other companions; what effect that strength of spiritual force so united, flowing to the Lodge and out therefrom to the world, will have on the outer planes when it reaches there, and when the Masters use it at the appropriate time. We must set the example individually and collectively, and when we as an international body of FTS in the different countries in the world become unified in the diversity of our work and effort, then will the strength be so potent that it will enforce in due course a more active brotherhood outwardly among the nations of the world.

Mr. v. d. Noordt: Is it possible that non-theosophists also can help to make this reservoir?

JAL: I am afraid if mankind depended entirely upon the quantity that got into that reservoir as the result of theosophists only, we would not be having a home right now on this world. Yes indeed, yes indeed I say, with all the emphasis that I can put on it. A spiritual quality is a spiritual quality, if it comes even from a cow, which it cannot. But I mean that literally. The Masters are bound to the occult law, the natural law, and will not distinguish one person from another if there is spiritual quality there. It all goes into the reservoir. But there is a big difference when one becomes a theosophist. There is a big difference, let us say, in the potency between the spiritual contribution to that reservoir if it comes about in the normal course of an unconsciously good man, from that which comes about as a result of self-conscious impersonal contribution to that reservoir. For the conscious spiritual will to contribute adds a tremendous number of volts to the strength of that charge, or to the addition to that reservoir. My heavens, men and women for ages and centuries before the founding of the Theosophical Society have contributed to it in great volume. All of the true martyrs of the past during the Inquisition, and others before that, from time immemorial, have contributed before they ever knew there was ever going to be a Theosophical Society. Theosophy is nothing new. Primitive Christianity and theosophy are identical. There is no difference. When I say primitive Christianity, I mean the original Christianity which you don't read about in the Christian scriptures. You have got to have the theosophical and occult keys to understand what they were driving at after the scriptures were mutilated — for that is what it amounted to through the translations and the mistranslations, and the annotations, and the tampering by the early Church Fathers. Certainly, any individual who brings his consciousness to the level of wanting to contribute a spiritual thought to the raising of mankind does indeed add a spiritual force to that reservoir. But once we give it the vitality of a self-conscious spiritual will, not for oneself but for the benefit of mankind, don't you see how much more value that has, and especially if we all do it understandingly and as a unified body?

Cor den Buitelaar: We would like to know if possible something more about your view of some of the methods we have used in the past, whether they are also right for the future. I mean, our public work, if we have to go on with our public lectures and our study classes, or if there will be some difference for the future? Our children's work, and so on. Do you have the idea that we must go on in the same manner as we did until now, or will you give us some hints to follow some other way?

JAL: Do you mind if I stay seated now and discuss that with you? I must again approach it from a practical standpoint, and say that we start in any direction, no matter where we must go, from where we stand, so that naturally we carry on just as we have been for the moment. I think it is impossible for anyone to determine what is the best way to carry on the work for theosophy in Amsterdam, in Dordrecht, in New York City, or in Berlin, or in any place else. There is no set way of carrying on theosophical work anywhere. There are just as many ways as there are individuals and as there are lodges; and the thing that we need to avoid is to carry on theosophical work in Amsterdam in exactly the same way that it is done in some other city, simply because it works in that other city, and vice versa. In those days when everybody was comparatively green in theosophy, KT could say: "Now, you do this, you do that, and you over there do the other thing." But she had already done the thinking for the local people more or less, sizing up almost at a glance what this area needed, or that area required, and that was the way she worked with the different national sections. In one place she appointed a board, in some other place she would not even think of having a board.

Thus, you see, every town and every group should study the circumstances in which they have got to work for theosophy, and then find out, if necessary by trial and error, which is the best way. Generally speaking, in the United States lecture work at present is not worth very much in spreading theosophy, but I don't agree with that so far as the European countries are concerned, because you do get results with lectures over here. They certainly do in Germany, and in Sweden, and here too. In England not so much. We have got to do what is necessary in each particular environment. It may be that some of the cities do not get the best results by lectures, I don't know. But I will tell you this, and that is where the partnership idea comes in, and where my thoughts with regard to the elimination entirely of the Dutch Section as such, and having the lodges become branches attached directly to Headquarters, and the elimination of Associate Membership, have a bearing on this whole matter. All of it ties in to the basic thought of doing what comes naturally. In our country we have a popular song. I wish I could sing it for you, but it carries a real basic truth in its refrain: "just doing what comes naturally." That is repeated again and again, in one way or another, to indicate that even though one had no education, one could get by, "just doing what comes naturally." That is occultism in its simplest form: doing the natural thing in the natural way. Now I don't mean following just our personal idiosyncrasies. But if we do the natural thing in its own natural time we are bound to get results.

I have no preconceived thought of how the work should be conducted in Amsterdam or in Bussum or in New York. I will work with Amsterdam and with Bussum and with New York, and with their problems, and help with them. We will talk it over and work it out together.

Now with regard to the young people and the children: Glory be to the Father in the Highest, let us do all we can. I am crazy about the young people, and the more we do in that connection the better. I have some ideas about the work for young people, and they are a little different from those in the past, but let us not stop working with the young people just because you have heard I may have some ideas. Give me a little time to work them out with you by letters and otherwise, because I will have opportunity as time goes on. My letters to the members will not always be General Letters to every member. There will be some for Holland, and some for Sweden, depending upon the circumstances, because each nation as I have said before in these meetings has its own svabhava, and we have got to get all of these svabhavas working together, with one purpose in mind, and we are going to do it. There has never been in the history of the Society such a unified and solid support of this idea of a partnership, for this new cycle, as has been expressed during the past two months. It is absolutely overwhelming. I don't want to use a lot of fancy words, but it has actually made me very humble to realize how much true spiritual value and true spiritual perception is in the hearts and minds of the membership throughout the world. I found out on my trip around the world with what seriousness you have taken as individual members the responsibility of the work on your own shoulders. The recognition of the need from here on to be more and more spiritually self-reliant has been one of the greatest things that has happened to the Theosophical Movement and the cause of the Masters.

I assure you that you will be hearing from me. I am getting the "feel" of Holland by these meetings. I appreciate your coming here, and when I get home finally I will have had the feel of Sweden and of Germany and of England, possibly of Wales, and of the United States together with Holland, and I know that we are going to have some happy times, even though I won't be able to come here too often. I will come as often as I can. We have some ideas, and I want to give you the benefit of what I get in the other national sections that I think may be of value here, and when I get home you will be informed of everything that goes on. As I said in my earlier reports, I will not hold back anything. I will not allow any secrets. Every member is welcome to know everything. We will have no private inner groups that get all of the cream off of the ice cream, leaving only the melted ice to somebody else.

Mr. de Boer: I have been a member for ten years of the Amsterdam lodge, and I have read the circular sent to all members in which it was said that all memberships have been cancelled, and that it was an opportunity to ask for renewal. Now I want to ask if a member does not do so, is he considered no longer a member of the Theosophical Society?

JAL: If the membership has been cancelled, and it is not renewed, then the membership is cancelled. But I want our brother there to understand the cancellation. May I ask, do you understand enough English? Were you at the Congress? [No] The translation of the entire proceedings of the Congress will be in the hands of every Dutch member very shortly. Of course the message that I gave to the Dutch membership there has already been translated, and I suppose you have received it.

Now this is the point I want to be sure is translated correctly. The Lodge is responsible for the safety and the success of the Theosophical Society, and it must take any steps necessary to keep it, especially at this particular time, on a good sound basis so that we can all work together for theosophy and the welfare of our fellowmen to the very best of our ability. It would be very unfair for me as leader to pick out John Jones and Mary Smith and this person and that person and say to them: "You are not being a theosophist. Therefore you can no longer belong to the Theosophical Society." Who am I to judge a man's heart? I cannot do it. I would not attempt to do it. But I must protect the work of this grand Society of ours. So there is only one thing to do: cancel the membership of everybody in Holland, not as a punishment, but to give those who want to work for theosophy in this new cycle an opportunity to do so; and those who do not want to, to give them an opportunity not to do it. Thus any individual member of the Society in Holland who wants to work with The Netherlands' effort to bring theosophy to the world, and stick to the original program of the Masters and of H. P. Blavatsky, will find that nothing will ever stand in the way if he will sign the little slip and send it in. That slip does not say anything except that you want to work for theosophy in this new cycle, and that your membership will be restored immediately without any lapse, as those of you who have received them back know. I have signed everyone of them myself. I have stamped everyone of them myself, and have seen that everyone received his back who sent one in, because the spirit shown by those who have immediately responded has been a beautiful thing to me.

I disliked very much to have caused you all that trouble, but I know from the expressions that have come in that it has been worthwhile, because now we move ahead with such strength and vitality that could not possibly have come to the fore in any other way. It is not a punishment; it is an opportunity. If the individual wants to work in this Theosophical Society, in this new cycle, he is welcome, and it makes us extremely happy to see the number of people who have already in this short time expressed their desire to do so.

To those individuals who want to work in another way, that is their privilege. I would not criticize them. I would not force them to do differently under any circumstance. But from the midpoint of the century on we can no longer have the fifth column type of division in the ranks of the TS. I am not going to cut people's heads off. There have been a few cancelled memberships, because I have a perfect right to protect my predecessor, Colonel Conger, and I would do it with my life. But I would never cancel anybody's membership because he would not support me. But there is nothing to stop me, should it be indicated, from cancelling every member's membership in the whole TS if it became necessary, and then let every member who wants to continue, carry on. But we can no longer have that type of division within our ranks on the upward swing of the cycle. We have got to get to the 1975 period with a clean slate, so as to be ready when he or she comes. It is supposed to be HPB, but whoever it is, we will attract the one if we are ready and if we have the instrument to use to carry this work so strongly over the 2000 year mark that it will never again be lost until the end of this manvantara. That is the purpose of it all.

I want to thank the brother from the bottom of my heart for that question. I want all of you here to realize that there is absolutely no ill-will in my heart toward anyone who does not agree with me or with our policies as they develop. There will be absolutely no ill-will toward anyone, and I implore, I beg all of you who support the work as it is now being carried on also to hold no ill-will towards those who do not support, or who by one means or another may attempt to make our task more difficult. May the gods forgive them because they do not know what they are doing. We are facing a critical period in the history of the human race, and those of us, those of you, who choose to help the Masters at this time cannot begin to realize the seriousness and the responsibility that rests upon the shoulders of each one.

In closing I would like to say a few words on this particular question. I have dropped a few hints at these meetings beginning with Sunday. There is something about these meetings which just pulls the esotericism right out of my mouth and my heart. Those members who have recognized the force of this new cycle — forget about me, I am only trying to be your servant, but think of the work — who have recognized what is taking place at this time, have attracted through the channels of this Society such an increased current of occult force, esoteric force which has heretofore flowed through what was called the Esoteric Section, that every FTS who works consciously and willfully in the channel of Masters' expression will in the silence of his heart get his reward. I do not mean he is doing it for reward. I am not promising anything because I cannot. But the man and the woman, the member in his own heart, who sends out such a call as has gone out from the hearts of the individuals in this short time, cannot help but attract the notice of Those who recognize and reward openly.

Mr. de Boer: I wish to express my grateful thanks and gratitude for the beautiful answer. It was a beautiful answer to me, and to all of us, because I had a thought if a man was a member once, he was a member of the Society always. He can never cease to be that.

JAL: That is also absolutely true: if he is a member in his heart he will never make a mistake. If he is only a head member, he may not always be a member.

Mrs. v. d. Noordt: There are many people who are more or less afraid of theosophy because it deals so often with the old religions. Now the question is: is it possible to form study groups which are studying especially the modern streams of thought, modern problems, and so on, and religion and philosophy?

JAL: Thank you very much. Your question does my heart a lot of good, because if you could have heard me during the past years virtually crying out against the crystallized methods of presenting theosophy to the public, you would have known how much your question appeals to me. It is my sincere hope that I will be able, with the aid of a very efficient staff that has been helping Colonel Conger and helped our other leaders and is now available to help me, to instill in the hearts and minds of our members that very need to become acquainted with the Christian religion. My chief complaint for years has been that we have been prone to look down our noses at the Christian inquirer, and express great superiority because we are able to understand much more about life and the philosophy of life than he. But when we realize in Western Europe and America that practically all our inquirers are people who have a Christian background, we are making a big mistake if we do not ourselves learn more about the Christian scriptures and apply the theosophic keys to them so that we can help those people understand first their Christianity. Then once they understand that, it will be an awfully easy step over the threshold into theosophy, if that is what they really want.

That is the way I came in. I said earlier tonight that primitive Christianity was pure theosophy. You have heard me repeatedly refer to the Master Jesus and the Christian scriptures. It is not my hope but my deliberate desire to help our members finally understand that we are dealing with a public today that is alive and awake, not the kind of public we dealt with fifty years ago where you had to be careful to mention nothing outside of the word God, or you would be put either in jail or ostracized socially. Those days are gone. The average inquirer who comes to us is waiting for an explanation, a sound explanation, of his own efforts at finding answers, and why it is he has not gotten the right answers.

Therefore I am absolutely behind any effort that will analyze any religion, ancient or modern, any philosophy or any science, ancient or modern, from the theosophic standpoint. I put out this one caution only. That is, in study groups where we do study theosophy and attempt to interpret or provide the keys to other types of thought, that they remain theosophic study groups, because there are always those individuals interested in promoting a philosophy of their own which is their particular hobby. They will try to come into your study group to take the ball out of your hands and be the whole show. Do not allow that. But study your philosophies and your religions and your sciences. The theosophic answer is in all of them. The more the better. You will find me supporting it 100 percent.

I think we have run over the time a good bit, Mr. President, and I should like to thank you very much. You hoped in the beginning that I would feel at home. I have really. It has been a beautiful evening. Though I don't like form very much, I feel so much at home that I wish to show my appreciation by asking Miss Knoche if she won't close the meeting for us by reciting, while we all stand, the Gayatri in Sanskrit. Will you do that, Grace?

The meeting closed at 10:45 p.m. with the recitation of the Gayatri:

Om! Bhur, Bhuvah, Svah!
Tat Savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat! Om!
[Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendor, illumine our hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognizing our oneness with the Divinity which is the heart of the universe, may see the pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light.  — paraphrase by G. de Purucker]

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