Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at The Hague

Freemasons Hall
April 27, 1951 — 8 p.m.
J. G. Crabbendam, Chairman
Jan Hoogervoorst, Translator


Mr. Crabbendam welcomed the assembled membership in Dutch, closing his remarks by stating that it was an especial pleasure to meet in this hall because it was here that the last message of Colonel Conger was delivered about a month ago by their National President, Fred Lindemans.

JAL: I want to thank all of you for coming tonight. I did not know that this was the place where that meeting was held, but I am awfully glad that I am having this meeting here tonight.

It is hard, very hard, to put into words that which might give just a little bit of the atmosphere of a change in leadership. I think I can say safely that practically all of The Hague members through the years have had at one time or another the opportunity to read and to study, both exoterically and esoterically, some aspects of the mysteries surrounding leadership. If we have looked into that at all, we can readily see the truth of Colonel Conger's statement, I think in 1943, written to Iverson L. Harris, who was then Chairman of the Cabinet, that a leader — or a prospective leader or a doubtful leader if you like (whatever you want to call it, the name does not make any difference) — is surrounded with mirrors and that those especially who have difficulty in seeing clearly, find that individual surrounded with mirrors and that each individual looking in that direction sees himself.

Now in these opening remarks it is not my intention to explain anything with regard to the change of leadership. My purpose in calling this meeting, as with the rest of the meetings held during this past week, is to get acquainted with you and to answer any questions that I might be able to answer for the benefit of the work, which has gone ahead with such great momentum in every national section that it has been remarkable.

I would like to say just this one thing, that through the years each one of us builds up a curtain or veil of maya, and when a time of decision comes it is part of our own individual initiation to penetrate that veil of maya which was self-created. For that reason it is a terrible danger and a terrible injustice for one member to interfere with the initiation that takes place within the consciousness of another member at a time of decision.

I myself am not interested in who supports me as leader, and who does not. I want that thoroughly understood. But I am interested in the self-development and the strengthening of the character of every FTS in this Society. Whether they support me or not is irrelevant. The Masters' work is the Masters' work, and when we understand the work of this Society, we join it to make of ourselves better men and better fitted to help our fellowmen — not to tear it down, not to tear down the work of the Masters, for that is to tear down our fellowmen. I think that is enough of an introduction.

After last night's meeting at Utrecht, our old and devoted Brother Jan Goud, who could not attend the meeting, sent via his daughter a question and asked me to answer it. As soon as I got back to the Atlanta Hotel I dictated him an answer. His question is this:

A member of more than 53 years' standing, one of the oldest members of Holland asks:

Could the many who did not ask to renew their membership not be saved for our work if they had got more time to decide?

We learn from the proceedings of the Cabinet at Pasadena, that two members of that Cabinet, who had known Mr. Long for years, asked 24 hours' time for consideration.

How much more time is then needed for those members who know nothing about the present leader and especially in this case, where Colonel Conger also appointed Mr. Hartley as his successor.

I remember very well, that in the Judge-Besant case Judge wrote: "Go slowly Dutch Members!"

Why so much haste?

(Signed) J. H. Goud

I should like to make this public statement of deep appreciation to Brother Goud for sending that question, because it points up that I did not make my thought sufficiently clear at the Congress at Utrecht. This will give you the answer as I gave it to him:

It was not my intention to leave the impression in the minds of the members that they had only ten days in which to make up their minds as to whether they wanted to sign the slip and take part in the new cycle of work, and in the partnership which is now operating. I mentioned that only because then we would be here and able to endorse their cards very quickly while we were still in Holland.

You are absolutely right in your feeling that no leader has the right, nor would he do so, to tell a member he could never again join the ranks of those who work for Masters and humanity; and least of all would he allow such a misinterpretation to stand in the mind of anyone. Since you raise this question, it is apparent that many others may feel the same as you, and I will dictate for general distribution to the Dutch membership a statement clarifying this matter.

As you know from your many years of experience, each one of us is different, and what you yourself have seen and recognized in the new cycle, not in me, but in the new cycle, so quickly, may take another member who is temporarily blinded by peculiar mayas that arise as smokescreens when a change in leadership takes place — may take such a member longer, and he may never dispel the maya. But if he does, it is his inherent right to join hands with those who serve Masters' cause as They would have them do.

I want to add to this, that after we leave Holland to go to some of the other countries, if any members want to sign and send in their slips, they may send them to Fred Lindemans who will know where I am, and who will forward them to Kirby Van Mater, and he and I will see that they are handled promptly and the cards endorsed. After we are finished with our European work you may continue to send them to us, but then they may be sent to the Secretary General at Pasadena, where they will be taken care of just as soon as we return to California.

I might say that before I received this letter from Jan Goud he had already sent in his diploma which was a very, very old one, and of which he was very proud.

Mr. Crabbendam: The leader is ready to receive questions. [Silence]

JAL: Maybe I can start some questions off. I think I am going to take this opportunity to make an announcement with regard to the work in Holland. The work in Holland in the future will be carried on very similarly to the way it was in the past, with the exception that the formalized section framework will be eliminated. Instead of a national president, there will be a National Secretary. Instead of the board elected by the general council there will be a working committee to help the national secretary, which committee will be nominated by myself, subject to the secretary's approval and the acceptance of the nominations by the individuals nominated. The lodges in Holland will become branches, and will either have their lodge charters endorsed as a branch connected directly with Headquarters or, if they choose, as soon as they are printed we will issue a new charter as a branch. By-laws, regulations, and constitutions of the section have been eliminated.

The whole purpose, as most of you now see, is to eliminate the form and get on with the spirit of the work in this new partnership, so that there will not be anything that we as human beings may have as an excuse not to put theosophy to work in our respective areas.

The American Section has voluntarily done that. Other sections have been asking that I do the same thing for them, but I cannot do that until I get to the sections and see just what the svabhava of the section is as such, because we don't want to do anything that will interfere with the natural functioning of any country. But it is the hope that all of the national groups ultimately will have eliminated the separating tendency of a national section here, and a national section there — a Swedish Section here and a Dutch Section there, etc. — it is all too separative as such. This is a brotherhood, a partnership, and it is our hope that with the lodges as branches connected directly with Headquarters, operating with the help and assistance of a national secretary appointed by the leader, and his working committee, we will find all of the national sections functioning much more freely and in a better way in the future.

Now, I have not discussed actually the names I have in mind with anyone. I have tried to observe what Holland has been doing, and it has been doing a magnificent job. I can safely say it is the strongest focal point of spiritual force that we have in the TS today in any of the national sections. But I have not spoken to the individuals whom I nominate, except to Fred Lindemans.

I now appoint Fred Lindemans National Secretary for Holland. And I nominate, subject to their acceptance, the following working committee to help Fred Lindemans:

J. G. Crabbendam
Ab Bonset
Arnold van der Laan
Henk Oosterink
Jan Hoogervoorst
Fergus Goud
Piet Hagedoorn
Joop Brakel
A. Arink

Brother Arink will continue his function as treasurer; Ab Bonset as recorder, which is the same work he is doing now.

This will give Fred Lindemans a working committee or staff of nine men besides himself, and if they cannot do the job in Holland, then I don't think anyone can. I was particularly interested in getting some of the younger folk actively into the work. You folks here in Holland should be very, very proud of the strength of the young people you have in the work; and I want to tell you that the young people throughout the world are doing a bangup job. They are not having any difficulty seeing anything, and they are working for theosophy with all their strength.

The function in the future of the General Council, the group of lodge presidents which ultimately will be branch presidents, instead of being a legislative one, will be really a spiritual one. They will act not necessarily as a council, because that is a misnomer, but they will act as focal points in the different parts of Holland to help put this partnership into a more active swing with the aid of the national secretary. And the national secretary will feel free to call a meeting of branch presidents at any convenient time to discuss any problems or matters with regard to furthering the work of theosophy in Holland. In other words, what I am doing is simply making of Holland and the work in Holland a real partnership in itself. That is what I would like to see in every country: a partnership working together, getting its strength from the main trunk of the tree so that all of these national groups will not be separate national sections, but all a part of the same brotherhood of which we are attempting to form a nucleus. I think that covers it, and if there are any questions in connection with this I will be glad to try to answer them.

Mr. Crabbendam: The leader asks if those members who were nominated by him for the working committee to help Fred Lindemans accept the nomination? Those who do not, please stand. [All remained seated, expressing by nods their full acceptance]

Mr. de Bruin: We just heard that the way of the working of the Society has changed. We now are working with branches and not as lodges. I think this is a most difficult question, for you know originally the work with lodges was instituted by Mme. Blavatsky on the instigation of the Masters who told her to do so. So I wish to ask this: is this change of working also told to Mr. Long by the Masters, or is this a personal feeling?

JAL: Thank you very much. In the first instance, in the very beginning the lodges were called lodges, but only for a short time, and then Mr. Judge changed them to branches. They were branches for a long time, and then KT changed everything, and there were hardly any branches at all. When they were opened up again, they were called lodges. GdeP had specific reasons at that time when he created the national sections on an autonomous basis. But autonomy was wrongly interpreted after a short time, and the national sections, as well as the lodges which were autonomous within the sections, began to assume they were operating as separate and independent units and thus would not have to do anything they did not want to do. That of course is true with every individual. But that was not the meaning of autonomy which GdeP had in mind. GdeP was thinking of svabhava, using the technical term of autonomy, hoping that the lodges within the sections, and the sections within the Society, would grasp the idea of that immense diversity of svabhavas working in a unified way for the furtherance of Masters' work. All that is taking place now is eliminating, as I said, the formality aspect to the greatest degree possible, and working in the true spirit of theosophic work.

Now, as to your question about the Master's instructions to HPB and to the other leaders: I should like to make this very, very clear, not for our brother's sake alone, but for everybody. A leader never will do anything on his own. It will either be called forth by the membership, or it will be called forth by some other means. But he will never do anything on his own of a major nature. Otherwise he would not be fulfilling his responsibility. He is the servant of the membership and of the Masters. He is the go-between, if you want to call it that. He is the one who assumes the karma of every individual FTS in the Society on his shoulders; and it is his job to protect each one of those members to the best of his ability. As I said at the Congress, when a leader takes action to cancel the membership of any individual, or to do anything in connection with the work of the Society, it is for the work's protection or for the individual's protection, regardless of how much it may seem otherwise in the brain-mind reasoning of this or that person.

There is not one of the members in this Society who has been a member for years and years who goes out of sight of the Masters and the leaders. The Masters do not look to tomorrow, or to the next day or next week or next year, or even to this life or the next life. And the leaders must do likewise. If an individual, no matter who he is — and we have seen it happen in the history of the Movement time and again, but thank the gods sometimes they see the error of their reasoning and do come back stronger in this same incarnation — if an individual who has built up a treasure of spiritual value through devoted and one-pointed efforts for Masters' cause in a lifetime, has not conquered ambition, then unfortunately in many cases at an older age something happens. The usual thing is he makes a wrong decision, a decision based upon reason or sentimentality instead of intuition and judgment. And then just as surely as the sun rises in the morning, he can lose his spiritual reserve and bank account for this incarnation, just as a man, who accumulates a large sum of money to take care of him in his old age and then makes a wrong decision and invests it in a poor stock, loses everything and becomes poor. The same thing can happen in spiritual values as in material values, and as the Master said to George Wright in 1895, before the so-called Judge-Besant split:

You have faithfully worked for us by aiding the T.S. and often wondering if we really exist. That we do you should know from intuition alone as phenomena cannot prove it. But a crisis now has come, foreseen by us, the importance of which you do not know. It demands judgment not sentiment, intuition not reason, and a firm support of the Cause. . . . Reflect then before you set an organization above our great Cause.

That, Companions, is one of the reasons why we are making the change to branches connected directly with Headquarters. On this upward arc of the century's cycle, we would be absolutely crazy not to eliminate any barriers that might again bring about this condition that the Master speaks of.

Reflect then before you set an organization above our great Cause.

A wide and noble future lies before those who shall aid us by aiding our real movement: the Salvation of the human Race.

Now, this is a long answer to your question, but I will tell you the background of that letter. On my trip around the world before he died, Colonel Conger had this letter sent to me, and it was obvious that the Master had asked the Colonel to see that I got this to use as a guide in analyzing the situation in the TS around the world. I hope that this answers your question.

Mr. de Bruin: Mr. Long, I am very grateful to you for this explanation, but I think the question is not completely clear for me. The meaning of my question was: is the change of working an order of the Masters or not? Now the thing you said left that open for it to be from the membership or from the Masters, as you know. So do you wish to answer this question or not?

JAL: I think that the question was answered very directly when I said that a leader does nothing on his own. It is either called forth by the membership or by the Lodge. If you expect me to say that the Masters told me to do this I will never say so — if that is what you mean. But I have said that a leader will never do anything on his own. It must be either called forth by the Lodge, or by the membership, for a leader is the servant of both. He is the go-between.

Mr. Crabbendam: Does that answer your question?

Mr. de Bruin: Of course not, but there is nothing more to be said.

JAL: No reflection on you, Sir. But when a question of that nature is asked by anyone of a leader, he can do nothing but smile very broadly inside himself. One of the greatest values in theosophy — the thing that causes the greatest expansion of consciousness in the hearts and minds of the members — is the paradoxes that we find all through our literature and in the words of the leaders from HPB on. When the paradoxes are eliminated from theosophy, you will have no more theosophy.

If anyone expects a genuine leader to be put in a corner where he will say this, that, or the other thing, so that somebody can have a smile all by himself, he is making a big mistake, because he won't do it. This is no reflection on you personally. I am speaking to everyone. I am a frank-spoken individual, as you all know who have come to these meetings. Some people expect a leader to be a damn fool, but he can't be a damn fool and be a leader too.

Just before the translation, I should like to take this opportunity to announce that on Sunday next there will be a meeting here in The Hague for all The Hague members who have signed their slips and thus indicated their desire to participate in the new cycle of work. All of you are welcome who have thus indicated that you wish to enter into the new cycle of work here in The Hague.

Here followed a long introductory commentary in Dutch by Mr. de Berg; finally, after pulling out a letter and reading from it, he asks his question, which Mr. Crabbendam then summarizes in English:

The gist of it is that the gentleman refers to a meeting which took place in The Hague Wednesday last and says there should be freedom of action here, and that he cannot find it any longer. He says he belongs to that group and asks if the leader and the board which has just recently been nominated are willing to submit to an examination with regard to the events in the TS that have taken place since October 5th, 1950. Is this clear?

JAL: It is very clear, and I have a good answer for the gentleman too. It is the same answer that I gave at Zwolle: those members who have not signed the slip are not welcome. Now if you sign the slips and want to work with theosophy, you are welcome to come. Come and bring the signed slip. I will simply say this: so far as events from October 5th on — you can no more stop the Theosophical Movement by a research of events from October 5th of last year, or any other time, anymore than you can stop the birth of a child while you research the astral mold of that child. This new cycle is born and it is going ahead, and we are not going to stop for anybody.

Now, I am not speaking in any other sense than in firmness. My job as leader is to be leader of the Theosophical Society, and not to cater to or to answer questions of a derogative nature, or of any aspect other than the work of the Movement and the Masters. Let us understand it. I personally do not care if there were only three members of the TS throughout the world who would support this cycle, for it will still go on. Now do not misunderstand me. I have no ill-will towards you or anyone who does not choose to come in with this new cycle of work. That is your privilege, and everybody else's privilege, to choose. But the opportunity is now open, and will remain open, for anyone in Holland to participate in the new cycle of work under my leadership. But they have got to work for theosophy, and not for their own ambitions nor my ambitions nor anyone else's. They have got to work for theosophy and for their fellowmen.

I don't know how I can make it any more clear. And in spite of my strong words, my heart aches tonight. It has ached for a long time, and I know that no words of mine, and no words of anyone else's, are going to change the hearts and the minds of those individuals who don't want their hearts and minds changed. I can only trust as Colonel Conger did to the intuition of those devoted members who have kept the Theosophical Society where it is today, and kept it alive. If I or anyone else attempted to establish the work of the Theosophical Society, the work of the Masters, on the basis of documents or answering questions to satisfy the whims and fancies of a few individuals who have had ambitions frustrated in one way or another, the Theosophical Society would have died long ago. But thank the gods there are those members in this Movement who do support the work and stand by. And it is to those devoted members we owe our allegiance, to whom the Masters owe their allegiance, and whom the Masters must protect so that the work can go on, and we can, as Master M said in this letter that I read a few moments ago, get about our real job of the salvation of the human race. That is all I have to say.

I am sorry, but I am afraid that you are trying to make propaganda for whatever your interest is. The letter from which you read came to Zwolle Sunday last and was shown to me by Fred Lindemans, who asked me what to do about it. I took that letter up myself for you at that meeting, and I want to say this: this meeting is not to propagandize or to promote whatever ideas you may have. However, the mails are free, and if you wish you can send your letter to as many members as you like. But I called this meeting to discuss theosophy, not to tear it down and not to propagandize anything that you or anyone else may have in mind. I am talking about theosophy. I am the leader of the Theosophical Society, and I have no objections to answering or attempting to answer questions that are constructive and have some value for the work. But questions and discussions such as you proposed this evening have no place in theosophic work. None whatever. If you have an interest other than theosophy, I encourage you to follow it or anything else that you would like. But do not expect us to propagandize and further your opinions.

We are interested in theosophy, and I think I can say that the majority of the people in this room are interested in the same platform. Now if you want to try to influence their judgment, send them a long letter. Send them more. I will encourage it, because we are not afraid of truth. We have only one enemy, and that is the opposite of truth. I am interested in theosophy, and to research any events of the past, I don't care what they are, doesn't mean a thing. It is the present that we are living in, and we cannot move forward from October 5th, 1950. We can only move forward from this moment. I hope I am clear, and I do not want to be unkind, but certainly it is just ridiculous to think that the Masters' work must stop until someone has a chance to see what happened since October 5th. The sun comes up tomorrow morning regardless of whether it shone on you or on me this morning. We cannot roll it back and make it shine on me yesterday before it comes back tomorrow morning. That is the way the Movement works. To do anything else is to work against nature.

A young man arose and immediately started speaking in Dutch. The Chairman asked him please to wait as another gentleman had risen before him. He paid no attention but insisted on speaking; he wanted to announce the fact that he was going to leave the meeting, which he did at that moment. The Chairman then acknowledged the other young man who had risen to speak.

Young man: I am very sorry, Mr. Long, but who gives Mr. Long the right to force us to sign those slips?

The Chairman: There is no question here, but I will ask a question of the members: Has anyone who has signed the slip been forced to sign it? [Almost the entire audience expressed indignation by gesture and words at this.]

The Chairman: The leader asks everyone who has signed the slip to stand up. [About 150 of the 180-odd persons stood up.]

JAL: Has any one of you been forced to do so? ["No, no indeed."]

JAL: That is my answer.

At this point about twenty-five or thirty of the former Hague members left the room. After a moment or two of silence, an elderly gentleman rose in the back of the room and stated that he had not yet signed the slip, but would he be permitted to remain?

JAL: Yes, you are quite welcome to stay. [A few moments of silence] This meeting was called for every member in The Hague, and I am glad everyone came. But, companions, you have seen a perfect example of what makes a leader's heart ache. I am terribly sorry, but I can do nothing else but stand for the truth, and those who care to follow are most welcome. But my heart really aches tonight to have seen a demonstration of that power and that element which for good reasons comes into the experience of every leader. But I am very very grateful to the Masters that this point in our work and at this change in leadership, it has come so beautifully out in the open. My predecessors did not have that privilege. They were not blessed as I have been with the karmic opportunity to have those forces that operate for one reason or another — it is not for me to judge why, or to judge the individuals, it is only for us to judge the actions — to have those actions come so frankly and openly to the fore. It now makes it possible for those who wish to carry on in the true tradition of the Great White Lodge of Masters of Compassion and Love, to do so, to carry on, doing our real duty by those who stand behind the whole human race.

I have to thank, here before all of you, my predecessor for setting the stage so nobly that this could be my lot. He had to — and I suffered the torments of hell with him — he had to contend with those forces in the background, stealthily pricking here, pricking there, lying here, lying there, telling all kinds of untruths, and he suffered greatly. I know. He and I both together cried like babies when we saw good brothers going astray, and he tried all he could to get those brothers to see the light.

And now we have the great privilege, you and I, of experiencing the accumulation of that dissatisfied element from several previous administrations all piled into one at this time coming right out into the open. It is nothing new; it is nothing to be alarmed about because we are strong. We are very strong in that spirit which will not have difficulty overcoming any barriers between now and 1975 and beyond.

We are privileged in that all of these accumulated forces are operating now in the open. It is really a godsend, and I want in the deepest humility here in The Hague to express to each one of you my very warm heartfelt gratitude for the support you have given theosophy in Holland and in The Hague.

I am not a big strong man, but I will say this: I will not tolerate anything that tends to break down the work that has started here in Holland now. It has been a beautiful experience, not to me personally, but to me who really is the servant of each one of you. It has been a deep experience, and I hope that someday I will be able to do something to repay it all. Thank you.

I feel impelled tonight to close this meeting here in The Hague by asking Miss Knoche if she will be so kind as to recite the Gayatri in Sanskrit.

The meeting closed at 10:15 p.m. with the recitation of the Gayatri.

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