re: "Martin to Jerry H.E. and Liesel"; proposal
Jan 03, 1995 03:11 AM
by Jerry Hejka-Ekins
ME> I feel it is time to step in (hesitantly) in this discussion
between you and Liesel. You seem to have quite a rosy picture of
The Point Loma & Pasadena societies.
ME> However, I know far too much about these two societies than
to be proud of their history. Especially the James Long vs.
William Hartley controversy (maybe unknown to you) is of far
deeper significance to the poor results of theosophical work than
most of us realize.
I believe that you have misread me concerning Point Loma and ULT.
I had mentioned that I found the people uplifting, not the
history. As for the Conger/Long/Hartley history, I am very
familiar with it, in fact, I have several file folders full of
documents concerning it. I also personally knew and know many of
the parties involved on both sides of this issue, including the
late Iverson Harris, the Smalls, the Plummers, the Barborkas,
Helen Benjamin, Judith Tyberg and Boris deZirkoff, as well as the
Pasadena People who represent the "other side." The issue is
still a very emotional one. I had hoped for some kind of an
attempt to do some healing before now, but such an event doesn't
seem likely. I'm also aware of the Kok-Hartley correspondence,
and have discussed it with someone who had read it. But never
having been to the Hague, I haven't personally had the
opportunity to see it.
The difference between the Point Loma Issue and the Leadbeater
issue is that in the former many of the people involved are still
alive, and there is still a chance of some reconciliation. As
for the Leadbeater issue, no one is alive, so it is too late for
the people involved. So for the Leadbeater issue, it is up to
the historians to straighten the mess out, and set the record
straight. For the Point Loma Mess, I think we have to wait and
see if anything will be done by those who are still alive. If
not, then when they are all dead, the historians will have
another mess to deal with. It is too bad that Organizations have
a need to hide their mistakes. It creates bad feelings all
around, and the issues never go away because the Organizations
are then forced to live their lies.
ME> Apart from this dark chapter in the history of Point
Loma/Pasadena societies, there are some unfortunate episodes in
the Point Loma section, from which I will mention only one:
ME> The meeting in the period of Katherine Tingley's leadership
of the Point Loma section (I can look up the date somewhere in an
old magazine of Theosophy/The Path from ULT), where she decided
to change the type of leadership from democratic to
Yes, I have a copy of those original bylaws. It was 1897, if I
recall correctly. The acceptance of those bylaws at convention
caused E.T. Hargrove to leave the T.S. with a group of
followers, and they continued on as a separate society until the
1940's when they "infolded." Most notable of the members of that
Society was Charles Johnson. Their journal was called
ME> Although a majority of people voted in favor of this, many,
many theosophists left this society, decimating it. Robert
Crosbie was one of them. He didn't get back his big investment
in the society. I don't know exactly what has happened in that
time, I doubt anybody on this list knows exactly, unless old
enough to have been a member at that time.
That isn't quite right. Crosbie followed Tingley in the
beginning, and lived at the Point Loma community. Eventually he
was expelled for reasons that don't make Crosbie look good.
After leaving the community, he came to Los Angeles and founded
ME> One is left with a strange feeling after reading Alice
Leighton-Cleather on the issue of Katherine Tingley as a
well-known trance medium. I for sure don't know what to think of
I don't think that the evidence for Tingley being a trance medium
is very conclusive. I believe that the likelihood is that
Cleather was in error on that one.
ME> And the list of accidents/misuse of power etc. goes on..
But enough of this. I only type this down in order to point out
to you, Jerry, that many things have happened in the history of
the societies that you probably don't know about. Many things
not to be proud of.
I have a library of theosophical books and journals approaching
10,000 volumes that represents all of the Theosophical Societies.
I also have five filing cabinets filled with historical
documents--some of which are unique, others very rare. I have
spent thirty years collecting and studying this material. There
may indeed be many things in the history of the societies that I
"probably don't know about", but on the other hand, I might know
a little more than you think.
ME>Indeed the practice of Brotherhood was hardly to been found in
the entire history of about all the T.S's. I wonder whether this
list-forum may be a modest start of this practice; a practice
that was the foremost goal of the inspiring forces of the T.S.:
the Masters of Wisdom and _Compassion_.
I think we agree in principle that this "list-forum" may be a
modest start. Method is another matter. I don't believe in
pretending that all of the mistakes made by the different
Organizations never happened--nor do I believe in refusing to
discuss these mistakes because someone with a different point of
view might get bent out of shape. This is not practicing
brotherhood in my opinion. Rather, it is practicing denial on
the one hand, and encouraging the practice of denial on the
other. I also think that the discussion of those mistakes can be
productive for those who don't live in denial of history, and can
find lessons in it. Yet I think some issues are more appropriate
for discussion than others. For instance Leadbeater and Tingley
are fair game because everybody concerned is dead, yet we are
still affected by those events because of the changes they made
in the Organizations. On the other hand, since people are still
alive who were involved with the Conger/Long/Hartley issues, I
think we should wait and give then a chance to resolve what
little can still be resolved, even if the likelihood of them
doing so is not great.
What are your thoughts?
Perhaps a jointly written FAQ file on CWL could be done. We
could evolve it in theos-roots. We did this some years ago on
the peacenet theosophical network, and came up with some
interesting things. I'll volunteer myself. The only thing is
that such a work should follow the guidelines of good
scholarship. That means stay with information that is supported
by documentation and stay away from speculation as much as
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