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James Long biography

Nov 04, 1993 08:40 AM
by eldon

I received the following from Andrew Rooke a few weeks ago, and
thought it might be of interest to share with the list. At about
130 lines, it's short enought to be considered a message, rather
than an article.

I'm passing it on to help share some information about the
Pasadena T.S., form its own point of view, in a sympathetic
light. I'm not saying that I necessarily agree with its view
of how things happened, or Long's role in theosophical history.
Events on the Point Loma side of the theosophical family tree
are little known in Adyar circles, and it's good to give them
some exposure.

                           Eldon Tucker (


> Many thanks for your message of Oct 19 regarding Jim Long's
> biography. Please find below the biography published in the
> Australasian TS newsletter no7, Sept 1984. Please feel free
> to make this available to any others interested.


Following upon the death of his friend and mentor, Col Arthur L
Conger in Feb 1951, James A. Long assumed Leadership of the
Theosophical Society (Pasadena). His leadership marked a major turning
point in the organizational structure of the work of the Society and
paved the way for the present period of public work and open
discussion of theosophical teachings.

Jim Long or even "Uncle Jim" as he was affectionately known amongst
the thousands of people he met on his many overseas tours, was born
at York, Pennsylvannia on August 27, 1898. At four years of age he
was severely crippled with polio, long before modern therapy had
found the means to relieve its after effects. But typical of his
tenacious spirit, he turned this "handicap" into a blessing for it
brought with the passing of time a depth of compassion and richness
of understanding which come to few in a single lifetime. Graduating
from York High School in 1916, he specialized in the study of
business administration and entered private business as an accountant
and auditor. He later became a business management consultant
following his profession in Pennsylvania, Michigan and in the US
capital, Washington, DC.

At the outbreak of World War 2, Mr Long entered government service as
a management consultant in the Office of the Quartermaster General.
There, with other consultants, he assisted in streamlining the
procurement and distribution procedures in order to epidite the
supply of Quartermaster's materials to the US armies at the foreign
theatres of operation. In addition to the task of cutting red tape,
it became his duty to develop and conduct concentrated training
programmes involving the development of training procedures and
methods for the proper instruction of supervising personnel. Upon
completion of his work with the Office of the Quartermaster General,

Mr Long was transferred to the War Production Board in 1944, where he
participated in the planning necessary for the readjustments required
for the domestic economy at the cessation of hostilities. This
involved the preparation of a satisfactory means of making the
gradual transition from rationing of commercial vehicles and other
major products, as well as planning for the de-control of industrial
output and distribution.

At the conclusion of the war in 1945, Mr Long was transferred to the
Dept of State where he assisted in making necessary organizational
changes to meet the Departments peacetime responsibilities. During
his assignment there, Mr Long was sent to the 1946 General Assembly
of the United Nations then in session at New York as advisor to the
United Nations Delegation. Whilst there, he was also commisssioned to
fulfill certain Management Consultant's responsibilities for the
Control Office of the Assistant Secretary of State in connection with
the council of Foreign Ministers also in session in New York at that

In October 1947, Jim Long resigned from the State Dept and came to
California, placing himself at the service of Col Conger, then Leader
of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena). Mr Long's association with the
Theosophical Society had commenced a decade earlier. In 1935, shortly
after taking up membership of the Society, Mr Long assisted in the
work of the American Section accepting the appointment of Business
manager thereof when Col Conger was made President of the American
Section in 1939. Therafter, Mr Long having moved to Washington DC
worked closely with Col Conger in his theosophical activities. When
Col Conger assumed the office of Leader in 1945, Mr Long was made a
member of the Cabinet of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena).

In December 1950, Jim Long was sent on a world tour shortly before
Col Conger died in order to contact officials and key members with
regard to the future work of the Society. Jim Long with the very
difficult task of closing down the Esoteric Sections of every country
visited for the time had come for the "esoteric has become exoteric
and exoteric has become esoteric". This presaged other directives
under his leadership which dismantled much of the organizational
structure of the National Sections. This in turn precipitated a new
age of theosophical endeavour where members were given the
opportunity for a long period of reflection and inculcation of the
teachings already given out in 75 years of theosophical work. In some
sections this unique initiative was strongly opposed by some members
who subsequently left the Society. This reflected the depth of the
challenge it was Jim Long's karma to present to the membership of
adhering to the original programme of the Society rather than
becoming entangled in its organizational aspects. From the
perspective of the developing work of the 1980s we can percieve the
wisdom of this initiative as those servants of the work who adhered to
the original programme throughout this long period of challenge, are
now doubtless better fitted to convey the essence of theosophy to a
generation of seekers.

Jim Long as well qualified by training and temperament to this
difficult task. he was a man who had little time for what he called
"intellectual tennis" or for those who indulged in merely dissecting
the shell of the doctrine while the kernel of applied soul wisdom lay
unnoticed. In his many tours of the National Sections, his lectures
to the young across the country, and in his writing, he re-emphasized
the heart doctrine over the intellectual speculation which is a
constant temptation as the organizational and consequent
"theological" aspects develop in any religious or philosophical

This message pervaded the new theosophical magazine he founded in
October 1951. Sunrise, which continues today, was founded not as an
official or overly learned journal, but as an informal meeting-ground.
He envisaged it as a magazine dedicated to the embracing purpose of
forming "bridges of understanding" between the seeking restless souls
of every generation and the ageless body of wisdom-teachings which
are the quintessence of every religious and philosophical system. The
beauty of this approach th theosophy is encapsulated in his book
"Expanding Horizons" published in 1965. This book provides a straight
forward introduction to theosophical teachings yet maintains a depth
for reflection the equal of any of the theosophical classics. For
this reason it has frequently been used as an introductory book for
enquirers and continues to fulfill this function as the basic text
for the Theosophical Correspondence Course no1 introduced in 1984.

For twenty years Jim Long steadfastly maintained his objective as
Leader; to present these enduring spiritual principles simply and
directly, so that all who wanted seriously to search out the sources
of truth and discover in the process a deeper meaning for man's
existence, would have the opportunity to build a sound philosophy by
which they could live. This charge was passed to his successor, our
present Leader Grace F Knoche upon Jim Long's death in 1971. In this
age of renewed organizational activity and public work, today's
theosophists have taken up the challenge to convey this core message
of theosophy to a new generation of seekers without becoming overly
obsessed with personalities or the outer trappings of the Society's
work. Theosophists have had the opportunity to learn basic lessons
about the true nature of this work and the pitfalls that await its
servants due to the efforts of Jim Long and his co-workers. They are
therefore better fitted to carry its message of Universal Brotherhood
forward to a new century and beyond."


> Phew! That was a long typing job and I have no copy on disk as I have
> had trouble downloading before and did not want to risk it with this
> biography. If you want further information, I suggest contacting the
> Theosophical University Library in Pasadena and reading Grace
> Knoche's article "The Quality of a Life" Sunrise Sept 1971.

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