Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at The Hague

Freemasons Hall
April 29, 1951 — 2 p.m.
J. G. Crabbendam, General Chairman
Henk Lindemans, Local Chairman
Jan Hoogervoorst, Translator


Mr. Crabbendam opened the meeting, then turned the chair over to National Secretary Fred A. Lindemans.

Fred Lindemans: Everybody in this hall has awaited this day, a very important day for the future of the work in The Hague. In the week behind us we have all received a new feeling of freedom. We have seen the road before us become very sharp and clear. That road we can now walk on into the future if we wish to, and we hope we will find a word in Dutch that expresses exactly the same as that which is included in the English word partnership — which means to take care of each other as we take care of the work for the Masters. The members here have proven their devotion and loyalty to the work. We hope that the Leader will now give perhaps some suggestions and remarks about the work that would give us direction for the future.

JAL: Thank you very much. I will have to apologize for my condition. I will be frank with you and admit that I feel a little tired and I am sorry I come to you this afternoon without my normal supply of energy. Maybe I can work up to it after a while.

There is so much that has happened to me since I landed in Holland at Schiphol Airport just three weeks ago that it will take me a long, long time to assimilate and put it to the best use for the work and for Holland. I think that I shall remember the Freemasons Hall as a symbol of something Colonel Conger said to me several years ago now. I again mention Colonel Conger, but his very few words through the years have always spoken such volumes of truth that he has been often referred to as being able to say in a half a dozen words more than the average person could say in a dozen pages. The thought that comes to my mind when I stand here in this Freemasons Hall and consider the incidents that have taken place is imbodied in the words Colonel Conger spoke to me on the day he was elected leader of the Theosophical Society "by the very prosaic Cabinet" at Covina. The night before the Cabinet met to consider the matter, Colonel Conger and his party drove down to Point Loma to attend a meeting of the San Diego Lodge, and spent a night on the old Point Loma Headquarters grounds. All of the party except Colonel and myself slept in what was KT's home there at Headquarters. The Colonel and I slept in a little house annexing the Headquarters. In the morning while the others were looking around the Greek Theater and other points, Colonel and I were sitting in the station wagon before the temple, silently thinking our own thoughts. All of a sudden out of his silence Colonel said this: "We are witnessing the death of an old and the reincarnation of a new TS."

When I think of Freemasons Hall, of our meeting the other night, of the meeting that was referred to as being held here where Colonel's last message was given, and of the little meeting that we held here this morning with the children — all in all I cannot help but think of it as being the death of an old and the incarnation of a new Hague Branch, but with a far more significant connotation than the mere title of Branch or Lodge. Having occurred when it did, at such a critical point in the history of the Movement, and having been focalized in this particular pinpoint of our theosophical map, I think it bids well to be considered of really international importance.

Just a few moments ago we drove by the Peace Palace where now the sessions of the International Court of Justice are held. I could say a great many things that would make nice words and express fine thoughts, but I do not feel this occasion calls for that. To me this occasion is one of those rare, unsought opportunities where we begin to act in a positive manner for the work. You members here in The Hague have gone through a good bit of hell in the course of the past six months or so, and especially from the time that Colonel Conger took the lid off of the situation in the old Hague Lodge. I know that your hearts have ached as mine has and as others have, but nothing worthwhile is ever born without some labor pains. The Hague Lodge has had its pains and every good strong theosophic effort will always have its pains in coming to birth just as children have their growing pains. But we should not mind this, for that is what makes us strong.

The new Hague Branch that I hope can be formulated this afternoon has now the opportunity to go forward with this new cycle, and with a new hope and a new strength that was not possible before. While I think of it, should there be any other members here who have not perchance sent in their slips but are here for the purpose of this new cycle, they should not feel uncomfortable. I am not worried about slips, because if the spirit is right the slip can come along at any time. I want all of you to feel completely free and comfortable to discuss the work in The Hague from here on, and to see what we can do to reorganize the Hague Branch with the new spirit that is here.

Those of you who may have followed some of the meetings during this past week know that I have discouraged the use of regulations and by-laws and majority voting and all of that sort of thing. I will attempt to demonstrate my thought this afternoon by the manner in which we talk things over and decide what is to be done and who is to do it. To start the ball rolling, I think the first thing you need to do is to select the president for the new Hague Branch — if it is a new branch you want to form. I am assuming, and I hope not wrongly, that that is what all of you would like to do, to get a new branch started here in The Hague as soon as possible. Therefore I am interested in knowing if anyone has any suggestions or nominations to make with regard to a candidate for the presidency of the new branch.

Mr. Crabbendam: Yes, I have.

JAL: You have? Well, the floor is open.

Mr. Crabbendam: The leader has asked for nominations for president. If he can have two functions together, one as a member of the working committee and the other as president of the new Hague Branch, I should like to nominate Fergus Goud.

JAL: Well, I don't propose to run this meeting, but I said I would try to show you a little bit of what I have in mind as to how a branch can work together, and after full and free discussion come to a unanimous understanding of what is to be done, and when and how to do it. It seems to me I have heard the name of Fergus Goud before! Now I don't believe in building anyone up to such an extent that he will fall down. The president of the branch should be pretty much of a nonentity, and if everybody agrees that Fergus Goud might try the job, then I for one am going to make it very hard for Fergus to feel as though he is important. That is the last thing in the world any theosophical official should think concerning himself.

I would like to know, however, if anyone else has anything at all to say in regard to this matter of the presidency. Don't assume it to be a foregone conclusion that Fergus is your new president. If anyone has any other person to propose as president, or if anyone wants to second the nomination that Mr. Crabbendam has made, I will be glad to hear the comments. Let us hear what you all have to say. [Silence]

I don't like to assume that silence gives consent always. Sometimes it does, but I really wish if anybody has anything to say in favor of or against the nomination, not to hesitate to say it. I do not anticipate really any great differences of opinion in this new branch of The Hague. I think that we will experience one of the most unified groups of working theosophists that we have had in a long time, simply because, like an individual, the lodge has gone through the terrific scorching fires of an initiation and has come out with such a pure insight into the real spiritual aspect of our work that I do not anticipate any real difference of opinion insofar as the basic job to be done is concerned.

I myself do not know Fergus Goud very well at all. I hope some day to know him a little more and a little better, but I like the idea if for no other reason than that he represents a generation younger than Crab, for example, and younger than Fred and the others. I think we make a very, very grave mistake in not giving way, each of us, to the generation that follows — not in the sense of giving way to it and letting it run rampant over the wisdom and experience that the older ones may have. The difficulty arises too often with the older folk. I found this out in the case of my own daughter, for I had to try like the very devil not only to keep up with her and her thoughts and her progress, but had I not kept a step ahead of her I could not have helped her to become the fine young lady that she is. Now that is a simple analogy of what I have noticed in theosophic work throughout the world. I am not talking about Holland, for Holland has done a real job in bringing the younger folk to the fore. But that is not the case with all the national groups. I have found that the older generations in theosophy have been so afraid that these young people might do something wrong that they never gave them a chance. Invariably the older people were the losers, because the young people had something to give that they did not have. Therefore I think that where a lodge or a branch can organize itself with one of the younger members in the presidency it will bid fair to succeed. That president must make himself flexible and open, and sufficiently of a non-entity from the standpoint of having any personal wish other than the furthering of Masters' work in the best way possible. He must keep himself open to the thoughts and ideas of the older generation, of his own generation, as well as of those after him, keeping in mind particularly those after him because one day he is going to have to pass on to someone younger the staff of his office. Now, I don't mean by that that Fergus Goud is to be president ad infinitum, any more than the committee that I have nominated for the Dutch Section is to remain forever and ever.

Mrs. Hols-Stoutsjedijk: I should like to propose Brother Crabbendam for the presidency.

Mr. Crabbendam: I am afraid I will have to refuse because I am of an older generation, and the Leader has already made it clear that one from the younger generation would be advisable!

Arnold van der Laan spoke at some length, seconding the nomination of Fergus Goud for the presidency, stating that he felt that the work of the new Hague Branch would be safe in the hands of Mr. Goud, and that he himself would give him full support in his new task.

Mrs. Minderman: It does not matter who is president if he only works impersonally, is a nonentity. Therefore we shall give the new president every support we can. It is not so important who is to become the president. The important thing is, how is he going to do it. I do not know Fergus Goud very well. I only hope that he will act impersonally and take an example from how his predecessor failed.

JAL: If you will excuse me just a moment, but I would like to thank the lady here, whose name I do not know, for her comment, because that is the real secret. That is why I have referred to a president being a nonentity. You have put your finger exactly on the vulnerable part. You are right also in that it does not matter who is the president. You have to have a president. You have to have somebody that you can "make the goat"! A good impersonal man or woman does not mind that at all. They submerge themselves into the current of the cause, which is the important thing. I am very grateful for your comments because that is the way we must work.

This is a real partnership, and when the branch president has a problem and when the national secretary or the working committee has problems in any aspect of the work, sit around the roundtable and discuss them. If you cannot find the answer, then all of you together decide that maybe you had better talk this over with the leader, and write me a letter. I was going to suggest that Fred Lindemans write the letter, but I do not want to set any cut and dried way of handling all matters; I know Fred won't. Nor do I want any branch president to feel that he cannot write to the leader any time he wants. If a branch president is dissatisfied with a national secretary, however, and should write a letter to the leader saying, "I don't like Fred Lindemans and I don't want to have anything to do with him," that is perfectly all right for a branch president to do, but the leader would not be the leader if he did not recognize what was behind that letter. Don't be afraid of divergencies of opinion. There have to be open, frank expressions and disagreements — I don't like the word disagreements; differences of opinion is better. That is the way I feel about it, but I think I interrupted this gentleman over here who wishes to say something.

Mr. van der Noordt: I should like to put up another candidate for discussion, because maybe the Leader would think there might be still another one. I like the name of Fergus Goud: he is pure as gold, and I liked his father who was president. I know Fergus better because we work together in getting out our Lucifer, and I am sorry we are going to lose him as an editor because if he has both functions he will be too occupied. Therefore I would nominate Henk de la Rie as Branch President in order to keep Fergus Goud as editor of Lucifer.

JAL: Is Henk de la Rie here? Please stand up. What do you have to say about this?

Henk de la Rie: I would like to thank my friend who put me up as a candidate, but I would like to say two things. I had the karma to be on the board of the former Hague Lodge; therefore I should like to see a fresh and new person as president. Secondly I have the thought that both functions as editor and president could be combined because I think there would be no difficulties. I think we can help Fergus to do both of these functions. That seems to be the better thing. Therefore I have this thought: let us keep the first candidate.

JAL: This is wonderful to me. This is the way I like to work. I think Mr. de la Rie has given a clue to the answer all right, but I think the gentleman who proposed Mr. de la Rie expressed a fine thought, and a very protective thought. We must all maintain those protective thoughts for the work that is being done. It is my feeling that the starting out of this new Hague Branch is too important to allow anything to stand in its way, and from what I have observed there is enough talent in Holland to allow many of the responsibilities that are now carried by two or three people to be shared a little further. Maybe I am wrong. If Fergus Goud does strictly the editorial work — that is, the functional editorial work and not all the details — I don't believe that his responsibility there would be affected. If it is, and you find that it doesn't work out, it is easy to change a president. He will be the first one to say it is not working out.

As far as Mr. de la Rie's comment with regard to the so-called board that existed in the old lodge in the past: instead of a new board, I think we had better stick to working committees or just a partnership of a group which is responsible, a working staff, anything you want to call it — it doesn't matter. That by any other name will smell just as sweet as a rose! I think that we ought to consider this afternoon having a working staff to help your president, just as we have a working committee to help the national secretary. We don't have to do this now and I don't want to keep you here a long time. But if I may assume some of the chairmanship, Fred, if there are no objections, no further comments, and I have heard no objections to Fergus Goud, I would like to consider that he is the president of the new branch overwhelmingly agreed upon.

I don't know what Crab has just said. He always speaks in Dutch!

Mr. Crabbendam: I just said we have never asked Fergus whether he would take the position or not.

JAL: What about it, Fergus?

Fergus Goud: Well, I am not a man of many words and I must say that this afternoon comes to me as lightning from a blue sky.

JAL: I believe that.

Fergus Goud: Well, I must say I am grateful to you and to all the companions for the trust you have placed in me. I can say only this at the moment that I will do my utmost and I will hope and I am sure that I have the help from all of you. I hope you will watch me so that if there is anything of personality that ought not to be there — well, you will warn me. And further, I think we all have the responsibility and so I think we share the responsibility of keeping this new branch free and sunny. Well, I think we do it all together. That is all.

JAL: Thank you, Fergus. That simple truth is the answer to all your problems. When a branch president makes of himself an impersonal instrument for the force of Masters' work to flow through, and if those whom he is serving share with him strongly and honestly that responsibility, it never will fail. I know you will all help Fergus.

I do not think we should take the time this afternoon to attempt to appoint your working committee or working staff. I think I am going to suggest that Fergus and Fred Lindemans get together at a convenient time and talk it over before I leave. I would like to make this suggestion, that when you select those on your working staff, such as a secretary, you include some of the older generation. I am not going to name them. I want to see how you think about the matter. The only reason I want to know of them is not to influence the matter at all, but I have had a little experience with human nature and I should like to see the combination of svabhavas you select. I have no doubt it will be all right, but before you make any announcement of the fact I should like to know what individuals you choose. It is my feeling that Fergus should be the one to name them, subject to the approval of the national secretary, because what, in the final analysis, is going to be the lifestream? The membership through their branches, through their president, through their national secretary to the leader. Not that that is a cut and dried thing, but that is it in principle. You will find that the force will be circulating like the circulations of the cosmos and will be going back and forth from the headquarters to the members much more freely.

Thank you again, Fergus. That was a beautiful expression.

I would like to make one little suggestion, Fergus, and that is that you not make your working committee too large, but you need not hesitate to ask any member of the branch, whether he is on a committee or not, to help to do this, that, or the other thing. Not hunting jobs of course, but the more people you can get busy helping you, the more success you will have. They all love the work and you should give everybody as much of a chance as possible to help with that work.

You think it over and talk it over with Fred when you have an opportunity. Then let me know what your thoughts are. I will be in Holland for another few days before I go to Sweden and I hope I will feel well enough to call together in Rotterdam the national working committee that was appointed to work with Fred. Then when I come back from Germany I hope to be able to meet with all of the branch presidents, with what was the old General Council. I would like to meet with the committee of the presidents together so that we all will have a clear understanding of just what the work ahead is, not so far as specific plans are concerned, but as to how the partnership will work and how we can all work together.

What is today's date, the 29th? Tomorrow is the 30th, the birthday of the Queen. All right. By virtue of the authority that is vested in me in the Constitution of the Theosophical Society, I declare as of today, or as of tomorrow if you prefer the Queen's birthday, the establishment of a new Hague Branch in Holland with Fergus Goud as its first president.

We are in the process of printing new branch charters at Pasadena. There is no hurry, but when you are ready and you want to send in a formal application signed by your charter members of the new branch, we will try to have each name inscribed on the charter itself. You do not have to hurry. Give the people who may still wish to sign the slips time enough to come in. I do not want to rob them of the opportunity, so wait as long as you want. You can operate without that piece of paper, because that is in reality secondary. Give everybody the chance to come in, wait a month or two or three if you wish. You can function in the meantime.

Now I will see if there are any questions at all right now before we consider closing. There may be some members here who have some other questions to discuss further.

Mr. van der Noordt: May I ask a question? You stated in Rotterdam yesterday that the Dutch members have been very unfortunate because the former national president of the Dutch Section did not inform the membership about the difficulties concerning the change in leadership of Colonel Conger. Is it possible that we, the Dutch members, could not give that love and help the leader needs for his work for Masters? My question is: Has it been a great danger, I mean that lack of love and help, because we were not wholly informed of the circumstances? That is my first question.

JAL: I don't quite feel the heart of your question. Let me try though, and maybe I have it. Do you understand enough English for me to ask the question myself? ["Yes."] If I understand the question correctly, you asked this: Whether the fact that you as the Dutch members were not informed, has in reality made it impossible during these years of Colonel Conger's life for you to give him the strength and the love and the help that you would ordinarily have liked to have given? Is that the basis or the point of your question?

Mr. v. d. Noordt: Yes, it is.

JAL: All right. Thank you very much. It is important, and you have touched upon the real occult basis of the relationship between the member and the leader in this occult institution. There must be a direct contact — not by letter, not by wire, not by personal acquaintance — but there must be a direct contact between the leader and each member, because the leader does assume the karma of every member of the Society when he takes on that office.

Now, we will just suppose as an example that at the time of GdeP's passing he had the hearts and the heart touch of every member of the TS. We will suppose that a new leader took over and that there were differences of opinion, and that in this country and that country and in the other country all of the facts of the situation were given. The members in those countries had then the opportunity to view and examine those facts and make their decision, and once made, either by word or by thought they made the contact with the new leader. Certainly it was a test and a trial for each one, but when the test was over and each member had assimilated the facts, whether it took a longer or a shorter time, and he saw the light, then the strength of his conviction reached the leader and gave him strength.

Over here, however, is another country which had none of the facts given it and never had the opportunity to make a decision and to give a conscious effort to the support of the new man, but were more or less floating around in mid-air, actually detached from Headquarters because the whole story had not been given. Now, to come right down to the Dutch Section — this was the state of affairs that existed here. It was not conscious on your part; there could be no blame placed on the members for that. But obviously there is a point of blame, and that is on the individual who interfered with the duty of another and many others. That is why I have laid so much stress upon each individual's right to think for himself, because this whole process of theosophic relationship is one big initiation from day to day. Our consciousness is expanded and grows as a result of those daily initiations, but if we are robbed of those things, how will we ever become strong?

Suppose you are learning a trade in a shop, but the man who teaches you tells you only half of the things you should know. How well will you learn that trade? The same thing is true in theosophic work. We have got to know the whole truth, not half of it, not that which is pleasant only, and to keep away from us that which is unpleasant — not at all. Thus you see as soon as we, or anyone else, interfere with the natural processes of daily initiation, we are robbing the individual of an opportunity to grow, to grow stronger. The stronger one becomes the more help he can give to the TS and to the leader and to those who help him. Does that answer your question at all?

Mr. v. d. Noordt: Yes, thank you very much.

JAL: It is a beautiful situation, this relationship between the leader and the members. I cannot put too much stress upon the very practical value of the experiences of our daily lives, and the need for an individual self-conscious realization that every moment of the day every person we meet has either something to give us or we have something to give him — which process in the final analysis is the process of initiation. When we recognize the need to give and give, and recognize the need to receive and receive understandingly, that circulation back and forth expands and strengthens the hearts and minds of each of us, so that ultimately we will have in this partnership a bona fide nucleus of a universal brotherhood. That is what we are here to establish.

This is on another subject, but I have forgotten one important thing in connection with the organization of the new branch which I should have mentioned before. If I understand correctly, there were in the past two lodges in The Hague. One of them voluntarily closed down when the trouble occurred in the other. I am assuming, and I hope not wrongly — because if there is any difference of opinion let us speak of it now — that all of you want to work together in the one new branch. To me that would be the only unified and solid thing to do. I feel, however, that the organization and the appointment of the working staff should take this into consideration. I should have mentioned this earlier, but it slipped my mind. I hope that meets with everybody's approval, because a unified front is needed. I think we have got it, and with everyone working together, in the branches, in the sections, and in the headquarters, nothing can stop us. Of course there is no reason why you cannot have as many study groups as are advisable because of location or convenience of time, but all working together to feed and strengthen the main body.

Fred Lindemans: Has anyone any more questions?

Mrs. Minderman: I should like to ask you this question: you often hinted about the turning point of this century and I thought of the words of GdeP in his Esoteric Tradition where he spoke about the involution of the spirit and the evolution of matter, and then when the turning point would come the evolution of the spirit and the involution of matter. When I saw that in California the Headquarters properties were sold and you and Colonel Conger and his staff went to Pasadena, I often thought this: that the work with the public was no longer so important. I got the feeling that now we had to go somewhat into the background and work more spiritually and more intensively. Then I thought I would like to ask the Leader if that was his intention, and if my feeling is true that the public meetings to give theosophy to everybody are no longer as important as they were before. This afternoon I noticed that you did not mention public meetings.

JAL: Well, it was not because they were not important. There can be no set policy or plan with regard to public meetings. In the United States, for example, they are almost a dead fizzle. In a public meeting it is difficult to get more than thirty or forty or possibly fifty strangers, whereas in Germany or Holland you easily get from two to four hundred on such occasions. Therefore what is good in one country is not necessarily good in another. That is why I want to see all these things operate more naturally the whole way through.

In Holland I think you should have public meetings here, and I think The Hague branch should continue with them after it gets organized. Do not rush into it. We will talk the matter over, but I do not think we should stop public work. We must take the initiative and be right on the job. The time for public work isn't finished, not at all. Each person, each branch, and each national group must work for theosophy as it is called for in the respective areas of responsibility.

Now I think, and Colonel Conger has hinted, that our chief means of contacting the public generally is through our publications. Taking the world as a whole into consideration, this avenue is far superior to our public work, indeed yes. But that does not mean that you should give up your public work where it is effective.

Mr. v. d. Noordt: May I ask my second question now? In The Dialogues of GdeP, volume I, page 134, GdeP said: "Of course, even publicly, if I were asked whether I thought the T.S. was a channel for Truth, I would speak with emphasis: Indeed I do, Sir, or my friend. If I were asked if it is the only channel of truth in the world, I would say: Emphatically not, never has been. If I were asked by an E.S. student: Is there another body of students of the Archaic Occultism in the world directly connected with the Lodge, and helped by the Teachers, except ours, I would say: No, there is no other formally organized body or group or association, working albeit occultly, in the outer or exoteric world." This is my question: Is there a distinction between the TS now in the new cycle, and the TS and the ES at the time GdeP makes this statement?

JAL: Thank you very much for that question. I think I will pin a gold medal on you because that is a good question, and I can answer it with one word: Yes. Whether I should answer it any further than that I do not know.

The TS like any growing entity is never the same in any two moments, any more than you are the same this minute as you were the moment you asked the question. In that comment that you just read, GdeP gives a hint as to what actually is taking place today to a greater or less degree, as we shall see as time goes on. I think it was in the first volume he stated that one day those teachings that he was giving to the KTMG would be published, but that it was not for him to say when, or by whom, but there would be someone. Do you remember reading that? ["Yes."]

When a leader works in the stream of the Lodge force, as all the leaders must or they would not be leaders, they know that certain things will happen sometime, but they do not know when, how, or where and by whom. I like the way GdeP put it there. I myself have made the statement from time to time that this is the only formal organization through which the Lodge force flows. He used the phrase there, the only channel for truth. This is the only formal organization through which the truth of the Great Lodge flows, but it is not the only organization or the only channel through which truth flows out to the world, not at all. But when it comes to the Esoteric School, or that Holy Order that GdeP mentions, then you will not find that in any place other than in this TS. There isn't much more I can add to that.

I feel inclined this afternoon in closing this meeting with the new Hague Branch to say this: with the force of pure occultism, pure altruism, flowing more strongly through the TS today, each FTS who deliberately takes an active part in this new partnership will find himself, to the degree that his devotion has reached the depth of heart understanding that goes with true theosophic work and thinking, making contact with something that will give answer to the yearning of his heart. It will be recognized, answered, and he will know then that he has come a step closer to Master.

I thank all of you for coming this afternoon, and I hope when I come next year to Holland, if I do, I will see The Hague Branch sparkling even more than it is this afternoon. I cannot say any more except, God bless all of you!

The meeting closed at 11:30 p.m.

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