Theosophical University Press Online Edition

James A. Long — 1951 Tour Reports


Meeting at Stockholm

Tegnergatan 29 — Lodges 1 and 15
May 22, 1951 — 8:00 p.m.
Peter Flach, Chairman and Translator
Lars Eek, Translator


JAL: It is good to be here again. I started my work in Sweden here with a meeting in this hall, and this in a real sense is a sort of farewell meeting — not because my work is completed, but because it now has started.

We have had a relatively busy time in Sweden. We have not been able to stay here as long as in Holland because there was not as much work to be done here. The work in Holland involved considerable detail because, as most of you know, I canceled the membership of every member of the Dutch Section, giving them immediately the opportunity to express their willingness to work in this new partnership in the new cycle. We had to make ourselves available right in Holland so that the Secretary General and I could endorse the diplomas as they came in so that there would be no lapse in the membership of those who really wanted to work for theosophy in the new cycle. It was dramatic, but it was a drama that everyone could see and everyone could feel.

My experience in Sweden has been different. There has been a beautiful drama here, but not one that you could see readily, or that the average member could feel readily. It was more an inner than an outer drama. Because of that, it was in a real sense more beautiful to observe. The Swede reflects almost exactly the long rugged winter, which penetrates pretty deeply into his character and consciousness. But if we have the patience and the desire in our hearts really to understand the Swede, then with that patience and kindliness we can penetrate that outer winter and find the bright sunlight that is inside. The intensity of the devotion that is in the heart of the Swede is hard to beat, but it is hard to get to also.

It points up to me the very strong need for all of us to try to penetrate the outer consciousness of any national character in any country in order to reach to his heart. Many of us from all countries are too eager to judge our brothers in other countries simply because we have not had the patience, or taken the time or had the warmth in our own heart, to penetrate the outer veil of our brother to see what is inside. In our impatience we oftentimes stir up the outer consciousness of the one whom we really would like to understand. Instead we grow farther apart. I am speaking generally, for this is part of the responsibility of a leader: to understand the members in every national section, and attempt to reach to their hearts, talk to them heart to heart, think with them heart to heart. If we can do that, it will be no long time until the Swede's heart is talking heart to heart with the Dutchman, the American, the Englishman, and with every other national character.

I have talked to many members since I have been here, and their hearts have talked to mine, and I hope they have heard my heart speak to them. My job in Sweden is not finished; it is only started. I will be back and we will then understand each other even more. You have all been so kind, and the members have turned out at all of the meetings here and in the south, allowed me to look in their eyes, let me feel the pulse of their consciousness and find the summer sunshine beneath the outer winter cloudiness, so that I am going to leave Sweden a very happy man, because I have found a very great deal of sunshine even before summer got here.

I have no special message for the two Stockholm lodges. I have met with both of you individually, and in both cases we started to talk about the work in Stockholm, but the real theosophic spirit flowed through both of those meetings so that I think we talked about 10 percent of the time regarding the work in Stockholm, and 90 percent about the work for theosophy. In both the meetings the last question of the evening was so far from the problem of the individual lodge that I was visiting that you might have thought we were in a different universe. Therefore, why should I talk to these two lodges about problems? It would just spoil really the beautiful spirit, the combined spirit, that I feel in you tonight. Let any questions that come tonight come from your heart. Let our hearts talk together during this last visit with you before I leave on Thursday morning early.

Johan Alin: I should like to ask about the karmic script. In what way do we perceive it? Is it by the spiritual part or by the intellectual or by the brain-mind, or in what way do we perceive it? Should we, as the Englishman says, "wait and see" the karma coming, or should we be positive in some way and do something about it, or should we just be negative and wait for it?

JAL: That is a very good question, Johan. How shall I answer that? A theosophist, especially after he has been such for some time and recognizes what theosophy truly is, learns that it is a system of character building which is accomplished by self-conscious, self-directed evolution. The whole purpose of the evolution of a theosophist at this point in our experience is to help to fully incarnate our fifth principle and to get to work on our sixth sense or sixth principle. The average human being has very little of his fifth principle incarnated in the normal run of evolution. To the degree that a man succeeds in strengthening his character, his theosophic character, more and more of that principle becomes incarnated, and he begins to put to work and pull into this daily round called life more and more of his sixth or intuitional faculties. Thus it is not one or the other principle that reads the signposts that we find in the unfolding daily karmic script. It is a collaboration and working together of all of these elements, Johan; and where we run into difficulty is when we work on that job too strongly with the mind, too strongly with the intellect, for then it is awfully hard to find the signposts if we use that alone. More and more must we learn to develop in our consciousness a team with our heart and mind, working together each day, consciously.

When we couple this with the other idea that we come into incarnation with so much karma to expend during this lifetime, we will begin to understand a little. Some of the karma is pleasant, some unpleasant. Obviously the pleasant represents that which in the past we have earned through overcoming, and therefore can benefit by the efforts we made in the past. That which is unpleasant, if we face ourselves squarely and honestly, we will find points definitely to certain qualities in our nature which need to be improved.

Now take those two things together and in the normal course of daily life when faced with decisions or circumstances, and you don't know what to do, take the whole thing together, sit down and think about it, and try to recognize not with your brain-mind alone but also with your heart what the answer is. Don't throw your brain-mind away; it is not the motor, but it is a valuable instrument when properly directed. Once you have looked the situation over, put it aside and sleep on it. You can take a problem to bed and forget about it, and sometimes the first thing in the morning the first thought will give you the answer. But get your intuition to work. You don't have to be thinking at all for it to work.

It is in the silence that the real truth comes. But we must stand aside and let the Warrior control the silence. When I say we, I mean the higher self which can only speak through the sixth principle, the intuition. Stand aside so that the Warrior can break through that stone wall of the brain-mind which is the curse of most of us, who instead of doing that, usually stir up the silence from the other end of the line to such a degree that the Warrior cannot do a thing about it.

Now that is a general answer, but it is about the best I can do without a specific problem to help you work out, which I am not going to ask for. When people are faced with a personal problem and approach it from any other angle, they usually run into difficulty. Some people will go to an astrologer, will buy an ephemeris; or they will study numerology, palmistry. None of this is good. Every member has a right to do anything he wants; that is entirely up to him. It is his choice. But every time we go to somebody else, we are just pushing our intuition back that much further. I do not mean to imply that there is nothing in astrology. True esoteric astrology has a great deal in it. I am willing myself to take HPB's word in the matter. Before I got into theosophy, I myself was in the same position of seeking for help outside of myself, and when I ran into astrology, it hung on to me a long time afterwards. But I learned that to use it to answer one's problems just puts back the time when intuition can take hold and become a power in a man's life. For anyone to use it for benefit, he must know all the correspondences of the cosmos in relation to the individual and this globe. It is obvious that that requires an adept, a true adept of the Great White Lodge, and such are not floating around Stockholm or New York or Washington, DC, or California, though we do have a lot of people professing to be other than they are. In California especially, we have all types.

Every time we do anything that tends to reduce or minimize or weaken our spiritual self-reliance, that genuine intuition which we as theosophists must develop, we make our job that much harder. I am not speaking against astrology per se, I am talking about anything that robs us of our inherent right to face our own situation. The reason I am putting so much emphasis on this daily karmic script is to help every member of the TS the better to help himself. I cannot help him or her. I would weaken him if I did. But if I can help someone to help himself, then he will get stronger; and the only way I have found of any lasting help in solving my personal and other problems was to try to read the daily karmic script. The more life hurt, the more I knew I had to find the signposts, and after I first learned the lesson the hard way I never after that looked any place else but within. Does that answer your question at all, Johan?

Mr. Alin: I am very grateful for it. But I was wondering whether you cannot read it?

JAL: Read the daily karmic script? Oh, that is just my way of expressing it. But your last question gives me the opportunity to tell of a little incident that occurred after one of my talks here. The other day a lady visited me at the hotel, she wanted to talk to me about the "daily karmic letter." She did not quite understand it. I had to explain, and she soon recognized, that when I spoke of "reading" the script, I was speaking figuratively: trying to understand the "handwriting on the wall." In other words, recognizing through the operation of the daily karma that is expending itself in your life and in my life in the normal duties that come before us, the impulses that are experienced in our lives, and trying to fit them together to make a picture of what that Warrior inside who is boss of the situation is trying to get us to see and to learn and to do — that is what I call reading the daily karmic script. Does that help?

Mr. Alin: Yes, now I think I understand.

Mr. Leander: How can we know that the inspiration is coming from our higher self?

JAL: The answer is simply this: If you have an inspiration or an intuition or a hunch, or if you have an impulse to make a decision, and you want to know whether it has really come from your higher self and is truly an intuition, there are one or two ways that you can tell instantly: 1) Is it of benefit to me or to someone else? 2) Does the application of it have a universal effect — that is, would it be good for everybody — or would it be just good for me or a limited number of people like the family? Is the impulse in reality an unselfish one, or is it a selfish one? That is the best answer I know. That will always tell you.

Another angle of this comes, of course, if you have an urge to fulfill a good impulse in two or more ways. How shall you know which way to take, having decided it is good? Take the one that is hardest for you, not the easiest, then you will be sure to take the right one. If you take the one that is easiest this time, the hardest will be all the harder the next time, for you will be faced with the same thing later. You might as well clean it up right away by taking the hardest. In the process of choosing the hardest, you will find that, because you have voluntarily made that decision, the Warrior helps and helps; and each time the intuition becomes a little more potent, a little more clear. It may not be perceptible, but the silence does a tremendous job with our hearts, with our intuition.

Now, Peter, I have had the pleasure of a number of translators on this trip, but there is one whom I have missed. On the last trip Lars Eek did a little translating in one of the question and answer periods, and I wonder if you, Lars, would want to translate for the rest of the evening?

Mr. Lars Eek: Thank you. It will be a privilege.

Ruth Lundgren: Which is the best way to meditate?

JAL: Pardon my silence. I am trying to feel my way here. The question is simple, if I have understood the questioner. The answer is not difficult, but may I amplify the question a little, Miss Lundgren, to see if I am on the right track? Do you mean: For a theosophist who is really trying to become a better theosophist, and a better helper for his fellowmen, what is the best way for him to approach the matter of meditation?

Miss Lundgren: No, not only that, but just because influences are very low.

JAL: What influences, may I ask?

Miss Lundgren: During work, and of course I mean sometimes in the evening before I go to sleep too.

JAL: Yes, I see now. This matter of meditation is a very serious thing, very serious — and I cannot emphasize this too much — for the Western constitution. There have been many rules written by many so-called occult instructors, and they all have their respective objects and methods. But invariably they are rules transported from the East, either by Easterners or by Westerners who, thinking they have been given a crown of glory in the East, come West to tell us all how to become adepts in a very short time. Their efforts and their rules have ruined more good people than have become members of the Theosophical Society, let alone good theosophists! If we believe our teachers and the Masters, we in the West are supposed to be the very first beginnings of the forerunners of the next root-race whose home will be in America. Now isn't it just simply common sense that if the seed of that race is sown in America, that with the souls who have migrated there in this incarnation and have been doing so for generations and generations ever since and even before the United States was born, and with the souls that are coming into incarnation there as well as here — isn't it just simply common sense that something new in the way of practical occultism must grow up with that seed? That is what this Theosophical Society is for; that is why it was founded in New York in 1875, and not in Stockholm or in Shanghai.

Therefore, you will find very little in theosophical literature, or in the esoteric instructions, on meditation. What is there has been mistranslated by many students, by many members. I have found from personal experience and from a close and intimate contact with a great man, a great soul, Colonel Conger — the most practical occultist this Society has known — the following to be true: that to the degree that we consciously make a point of meditation as such, to that degree will we get further and further and further away from true meditation. Meditation in reality is a communion of the soul with the natural unfolding of the svabhava of the race and nation and the society of which we are a part. I know of no better way to sum up in a few words what I think true meditation is than by quoting again the statement of the Master Jesus found in the Christian scriptures. He calls it prayer. "But when you pray, go into the secrecy of your closet and pray to the Father in secret, and He will reward you openly." Thus when you feel the impulse — don't manufacture it — when you find yourself with a moment and feel the urge to let your heart or your higher self loose with the higher self of nature, then do it wherever you are. It does not matter what position your nose is in, or how you are sitting, in what posture — just let your higher self go, and say: "Here I am, do what you will. I am wide open." Let go of everything. Things happen in the silence.

Then there is that other type of meditation which does not happen at a specific time when you are free, or spontaneously, but is that which GdeP spoke of as a sort of "brooding" even while we are working, while we are playing, while we are doing anything. In the background of our higher self, consciously and yet subconsciously, we brood over the beauty of things beyond what is going on outside of us, and let it flow into us. That type of meditation helps us to live according to the daily karmic script. I hope that answers your question.

Miss Lundgren: Thank you very much.

Harald Kallstrom: Will you tell me what Socrates meant when he said, to know right is to do the right?

JAL: The way I would like to answer that question would be to say to you, if we were alone and had the time: "What do you think he meant?" And then I think we would have a pretty good answer. Socrates, in my opinion, was a very wise man, for that is the way he answered most of the questions that the young men put to him, with another question and another question. I cannot tell you what Socrates meant. Only Socrates can tell you that. But I can tell you what I think he meant from my point of view as a theosophist, or one trying to become a real theosophist. It is simply this: all of us who have sincerely tried to find the truth began to look around and to have experiences. We came across some things that we believed in, some things that we doubted; but even those things that we believed, we did not know. The only way we can really know anything is to experience it; then we know. Thus to me, Socrates' statement springs from that type of knowledge; and naturally, if we know something on the basis of having experienced it, then we have got to be it. And if we are theosophists or students of the ancient wisdom as Socrates was, we know that if we know and do not fulfill what we know, the karmic law picks us up pretty quickly. Thus there are many things we believe, yet we do not always put them into effect. But once we know them from experience, then we begin to do them. At first we fail, many, many times perhaps, but not so many times once you become engulfed in the stream of the force of the Society which at one time I feel sure flowed through that school of thought of which Socrates was a part.

That is the only answer I can give. It may not be what Socrates meant himself, but that is what I think he means.

I would like to add one further thought. When we think of our the physical organs and what is commonly referred to as the involuntary system, which through ages and ages of evolution we have developed — the organs of digestion and assimilation, and all those functions which we abuse many times, but yet we do not have to think about from day to day — when we realize that we not only built these organs, but learned consciously how to digest our food, to take care of it, to the degree that all of this has now become automatic and involuntary, we begin to understand a little of what Socrates might have meant. But when we move our thought up the ladder a bit, to the human, through experience we likewise come to know; and to the degree that that knowledge becomes what might be called an involuntary process, then I think to that degree will we have the real esoteric root of Socrates' statement: to know is to do. Move that on up higher to what we now see as an almost invisible goal of complete spiritual self-reliance, and you have a still further understanding of what I believe Socrates meant when he said to know right is to do right.

Johan Alin: You spoke at another meeting here about the whip of the Master.

JAL: I used the phrase, "whip us into shape."

Mr. Alin: Do you mean our inner Master or the outer Master?

JAL: What is the difference?

Mr. Alin: Well, I think there is a very great difference.

JAL: In reality, no. The actual statement was that the Masters allow karma to whip us and whip us and whip us into shape. I am going to answer your question in a general way, and you can draw your own inference as to the inner and the outer. It all goes back to the daily karmic script every time — you can't get away from it. Now I have said we all come into incarnation with a certain portion of karma, and that the Warrior within us is trying to direct this portion to the degree that we allow it to. The real Warrior is your inner light and Master trying to break through the walls that we have built up through incarnations and incarnations of unconscious unself-directed evolution, which from the middle of the third root-race on we have had the opportunity to build up because we did not know very much.

You all know the Garden of Eden story, when poor old Adam partook of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, the theosophical interpretation being that ever since that time, ever since the separation of the sexes and the descent of the manasaputric spark into our constitutions, our inner Master has been trying to tell us which way to go and what to do. The inner Master leads us into the natural karmic circumstances that will attain his ends. The outer Master, once we have done enough for the inner Master in making steps in the right direction so that the outer Master can contact, works with that same law of karma, and in a sense they become one in their effort to help us reach that further step of complete spiritual self-reliance which ends up finally as a buddha of compassion. In the long course of that experience we are literally, from an inner standpoint as well as an outer, trained by life, for life is the only initiation chamber, and we ourselves must finally do the whipping ourselves. We are really whipped and whipped and whipped into shape by karma functioning under the watchful eye of both the inner and the outer Master. Does that answer your question?

Mr. Alin: Yes, thank you very much.

Miss Lundgren: Does it happen that sometimes karma is kept back during one life if we have something special to do, and then karma is held back for the next incarnation with some interest?

JAL: I don't know whether I should say this or not, but your question reminds me of the Christian Scientist. We know that the weak and dangerous part of Christian Science, or any other so-called mental science, is that which encourages the individual by the force of his will to hold back the fruition of karma in this incarnation. We know, for example, that it is possible with our free will, if it is strong enough, mentally to force back disease, because all disease, all error, begins and ends in the mind. Thus when we meet the circumstances of the daily karmic script as it unrolls and unfolds, we have the power to become better or not. It is our choice, ever since we were given free will. Every time we postpone the active fruition of our natural karma, when it does come, it will come with interest as you put it. It may be that our wills are strong enough to push it back an incarnation. But I hope none of us is able, however unconsciously, to push it out of this incarnation. Does that answer your question, at least in part?

Miss Lundgren: Yes, thank you.

JAL: I think we had better close. It is getting a little late. I want to thank you again for all you have done for me. I am leaving Thursday morning early. I have had, and I know that Grace and Kirby have had, a wonderful time in Sweden. We love your country. We have had the opportunity to see quite a bit of it, down south at two wonderful meetings there — three in fact including Trollhattan — and we take marvelous memories back with us. If I leave nothing else with you, I hope you will keep in mind that Swedish winter and summer, for with the power of your spirit you can get to the warmth of your inner sun all winter long. Thank you.

Peter Flach: May I say something?

JAL: You should have a right. You are President of the Scandinavian Section!

Mr. Flach: I just said some words in Swedish. We have had the very great privilege of being together with you and with your staff. The first week I was with you all day long, also late at night, and the second week I have been with you and seen you in the short moments I had to spare outside of my work, and I want to say I told these friends of ours how much work you did, and how exceedingly much you devoted yourself to the great task you had in front of you. You did not spare yourself one moment, and I said to the members: what can we do in return for everything you have given us? I think the best thing we can do is to try to put into practice what you have strived to teach us: to live the life and let the heart be our guiding star. We thank you from the bottom of our heart.

JAL: Thank you, Peter, thank you. Goodnight all.

The meeting closed at 10:45 p.m.

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