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CHAPTER V - Part 1



This chapter indicates a complete line of demarcation between the world with which I have been dealing and the world with which I am dealing now (1947).  An entirely new cycle appears.  Up till now I have just been Alice Bailey, socialite, mother and church worker; my time has been my own; nobody has known anything about me; I have been able to arrange my days to suit myself except as far as the children were concerned; no one was clamouring for appointments; there were no proofs to read; no public lectures to give; and, above everything else, no unending correspondence and letter-writing to claim my attention.  I sometimes wonder if the general public has the faintest idea of the literally appalling number of letters I both dictate and receive.  I am not exaggerating when I say that some years I have dictated over 10,000 letters and once I timed myself as regards a current day's correspondence and it took me forty-eight minutes simply to slit the envelopes before I withdrew the letters.  When this is the case and when to this must be added the thousands of form letters which I have signed plus the letters which I have written to entire national groups (to which I have affixed no personal signature) you can understand my saying to my husband one day that upon my tombstone there should be the words:  "She died smothered in papers."  Today my record is about 6,000 letters per year because I delegate so much of my correspondence now to men and women who can give more thought, time and consideration to the answering of my correspondence.  Sometimes I sign these letters; sometimes I do not and I would like to give my grateful thanks at this point particularly to Mr. Victor Fox and one or two [176] others who have written perfectly wonderful letters for me to correspondents (letters which have received grateful thanks) and have themselves received no credit for the writing.  This is what I call selfless service—to write a letter which you do not sign and for which someone else receives thanks.

This whole section of my life, 1921-1931, makes relatively dull reading.  I find it difficult to bring into it a light touch or anything that would serve to relieve the monotony of the treadmill into which I entered during these years.  Neither Foster Bailey nor I had planned any such life and we have often said that had we known what the future held we would never have started the things which we undertook.  It is an outstanding case of the truth of the proverb that "Ignorance is bliss."

After that completely shocking annual convention of the T.S. in Chicago, Foster and I returned to Krotona utterly disillusioned, profoundly convinced that the T.S. was run strictly on personality lines, with the emphasis upon personality status, upon personality devotions, upon personality likes and dislikes and upon the imposition of personality decisions upon a mass of personality followers.  We simply did not know what to do or along what line to work.  Mr. Warrington was no longer president of the society and Mr. L. W. Rogers succeeded him.  My husband was still national secretary and I was still editor of the national magazine and chairman of the Krotona committee.

I shall never forget the morning when, upon his assumption of office, Mr. Rogers took over, we went up to his office to tender to him our desire to continue to serve the T.S. Mr. Rogers looked at us and asked the question, "Is there any way which you can think, by which you can be of service to me?"  Here we were, therefore, without jobs, no money, no future, three children and utterly uncertain [177] as to what it was we wanted to do.  A move was instituted to have us ousted off the Krotona grounds but Foster cabled Mrs. Besant and she immediately squashed the effort.  It was just a little too raw.

This was a most difficult time.  We were not married and Foster was living in a tent on the grounds of Krotona.  Being a very circumspect English woman I had a lady living with me to act as a chaperone and prevent dirty gossip.  One of the things I have attempted and I think successfully to do is to rescue occultism from defamation.  I have tried to make the vocation of occultists respectable and have been surprisingly successful.  Whilst I was unmarried and whilst the children were tiny I always had some elderly friend live with me.  After marriage my husband and the children themselves have proved adequate protection.  For one thing, I have never been interested in any man except my husband, Foster Bailey, and, for another, no really decent and self-respecting woman would live in such a way that her children as they get older are critical of her.  This has been very good for the occult movement for today the word occultism has a respectable connotation and lots of worth-while people are perfectly willing to have themselves recognised by the rest of the world as occult students.  I feel that this is one of the things that it was my destiny to help carry out and I do not believe that ever again will the occult field of thought fall into the same disrepute as it did from 1850 until now.

Books are still being written defaming H.P.B. and Mrs. Besant and one wonders what their writers hope to achieve.  As far as I can ascertain the modern generation of investigating students are not the least interested in the pros or cons of their characters.  It is quite unimportant to them whether so-and-so approves or disapproves of either of these two people.  What they are interested in is the [178] teaching and the truth.  This is wholesome and right.  I wish these modern writers who spend months in raking up dirt and endeavoring to prove someone was vile would realise the stupidity of their activities.  They do not touch the truth; they do not change the loyalties of those who know; they do not change the trend towards occult realisation and they hurt nobody but themselves.

Life in this post-war world is too important to any man or woman to occupy themselves with defaming and running down people who have been dead for decades.  There is work to be done in the world today; there is truth to be recognised and proclaimed and there is no room for muckraking and personality slandering by those who want to make a few hundred dollars from the enemies of a teaching.  This is one reason why I am writing this autobiography.  The facts are here.

In these early days of which I write no one would have believed that the time would come when the teaching that I was just beginning to give out and the work to which Foster and I dedicated ourselves would assume such proportions, that its various branches are now internationally recognised and that the teaching would have helped so many hundreds of thousands.  We stood alone with, perhaps, a few unknown followers against one of the most powerful so-called occult bodies in the world.  We had no money and we saw no future ahead.  Our joint finances on the day when we sat down to size up the situation and to lay plans for the future were exactly $1.85.  It was the end of the month, the rent was due, the grocer's bill for the past month was not paid, nor was the rent or the gas, light or milk bill.  As we were not married none of these were Foster's responsibility but, even in those days, he shared all things with me.  We were drawing no salaries [179] from the T.S. and my very small income was not available.  There seemed nothing for me to do.

Personally, though I am recognised all over the world as a teacher of meditation I have at the same time never relinquished my habit of prayer.  I believe that the true occultist uses prayer and meditation interchangeably according to need and that both are equally important in the spiritual life.  The trouble with prayer has been that the average human being makes it entirely a selfish thing and a means of acquisition of things for the separated self.  True prayer asks nothing for the separated self but it will always be used by those who seek to help others.  Some people are too superior to pray and regard meditation as far more exalted and more fitted to their high point of development.

For me it has always been enough that Christ not only prayed but taught us the Lord's Prayer.  To me, also, meditation is a mental process whereby one can acquire clear knowledge of divinity and awareness of the kingdom of souls, or the kingdom of God.  It is the mode of the head and of the mind and is greatly needed by the unthinking people of the world.  Prayer is of the emotional nature and of the heart and is universally used for the satisfaction of desire.  Both should be used by the aspiring disciples of the world.  Later I will touch upon Invocation which is the synthesis of the two.

Anyway, in this time of material need I—again as usual—stuck to prayer and that night I prayed.  The next morning when I went out on to the porch I found there the needed cash and, within a day or two Foster Bailey got a letter from Mr. Ernest Suffern offering him a position in New York in connection with the T.S. of that city at a salary of $300 a month.  He also offered to purchase a house for us in a small commuting-town across the Hudson.  Foster accepted the offer and left for New York whilst I [180] stayed behind to see what the developments were and to take care of the children.

Living with me at that time was Augusta Craig, commonly called "Craigie" by all of us who knew and loved her.  She lived with us off and on for many years and was greatly loved by me and the children.  She was a unique person, rippling with wit and mentality.  She never approached a problem in the ordinary way or from the ordinary angle.  Perhaps this was because she had been four times married and had a vast experience of men and matters.  She was one of the few people to whom I could go for advice because she and I so thoroughly understood each other.  She had a caustic tongue and yet was so permeated with "It" that no matter where we were the postman, the milkman and the iceman, if unmarried, all tried to beguile her away from me.  But she would have none of them.  She decided life with me was interesting enough and she stuck with me until a few years before her death when she went into an old ladies' home in California, largely, she told me, because she had no use for old ladies.  However, being an old lady and over 70 when she left me she thought they might profit from some of her experiences.  I do not think she enjoyed the other ladies but she felt she was very good for them and I'll guarantee she was.  She was always very good for me.

The time came at the end of 1920 when Foster wrote to me to join him in New York and I left the children in Craigie's care, knowing they would be safe, cared for and loved.  I travelled to New York where Foster met me and took me to an apartment house in Yonkers, not far from the lodgings in which he was living.  We married very shortly afterwards, going to the City Hall one morning, procuring a license, asking the man at the license bureau to recommend a clergyman for the marriage ceremony and [181] getting married at once.  We returned to the office immediately for the afternoon's work and from that moment we have carried on for 26 years.

The next step was for us to furnish the house which Mr. Suffern purchased for us in Ridgefield Park, N. J., and then for Foster to go West and fetch the children.  I stayed behind to get things ready, make the curtains, stock the house with necessities—most of which Mr. Suffern provided—and await anxiously for the return of my husband with the three girls.  Craigie did not come with them; she followed later.

Never shall I forget their arrival at the Grand Central Terminal.   Never did I see a more weary, worn out man than Foster Bailey.  The four of them appeared up the ramp, Foster with Ellie in his arms and Dorothy and Mildred hanging on to his coat tails and how glad we all were to settle down in the new home.  It was the first time the children had ever been East.  They had never seen snow and had seldom worn shoes and it was for them like an entirely new civilised experiment.  How he ever managed I do not know and I think this is a good place in which to point out what a marvellous stepfather he was to the children.  He never allowed them whilst they were children to realise they were not his own and their indebtedness to him is very great.  I think they are devoted to him and well they should be.

This entirely new cycle of living meant the adjustment of all of us to many changes.  For the first time there was not only the intense pressure of the work to be done for people and for the Masters but it had to be combined with family cares, with the running of a household, with the education of the children and—which I found the most difficult—with the growing publicity.  I have never been a lover of publicity.  I've never liked the inquisitiveness of [182] the general public or their feeling that because you write books and lecture on the public platform that necessarily you have no private life.  They seem to feel that anything you do is their business and that you must say the things they want said and portray yourself to them as they think you should be.

I shall never forget telling an audience of around 800 people, one day in New York, that all of them could attain a certain measure of spiritual realisation if they cared enough to do so, but that it would entail sacrifice as it had in my own life.  I told them that I had learned to iron the childrens' clothes, etc., whilst reading a book on spiritual or occult matters and that it did not mean I burnt the clothes.  I told them that they could regulate their thinking and learn mental concentration and spiritual orientation whilst peeling potatoes and shelling peas because that was what I had had to do, for I was no believer in sacrificing your family and their welfare to your own spiritual urges.  At the close of the lecture a woman got up in the audience and publicly berated me for giving myself away to so many people on such trivial matters.  I replied to her by telling her that I did not believe that the comfort of one's family was a trivial matter and that I had always had in my mind the work of a certain woman who was a well known lecturer and teacher but whose family of six children never saw her and the responsibility for their care was left to anybody who cared to be interested enough.

Personally I have no appreciation at all of the person who furthers a spiritual realisation at the expense of their family or friends.  There is far too much of this in various occult groups.  When people come to me and tell me that their families are not sympathetic in their spiritual aspiration I ask them the following questions,—"Do you leave your occult books lying around to annoy everybody?  Do [183] you demand complete silence in the house whilst you do your morning meditation?  Do you make them get their own supper whist you attend a meeting?"  It is here that occult students make such fools of themselves and bring the whole question of occultism into disrepute.  The spiritual life is not lived at the expense of others, and if people are suffering because you want to go to Heaven it is just too bad.

If there is one person in the world who makes me weary, tired and sick it is the academic, technical occultist.  The second group that makes me tired are the nincompoops who think they are in touch with the Masters and who talk mysteriously of the communications they have received from the Masters.  My attitude about all such communications is:  "I believe this is what the Master says; I believe this is the teaching; but use your intuition; maybe it isn't."  I may be considered by some as elusive as an eel but I do leave people free.

It was this contact with the general public that slowly began to start in 1921 and inaugurated a very difficult period in my life.  I have always felt that I should astrologically have Cancer rising because I like to hide and not be seen and the verse in the Bible that has always seemed to me to be so important refers to "the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land."  Many of the leading astrologers have amused themselves by attempting to cast my horoscope.  Most of them have given me Leo rising because they regard me as so individual.  Only one of them has ever given me Cancer rising and he had insight and sympathy with my problem of publicity, and I think that inclined him to make Cancer my rising sign.  However, I believe that my rising sign is Pisces.  I have a Pisces husband and a Pisces daughter and Pisces is the sign of the medium or the mediator.  I am not [184] a medium but I have been a kind of "middleman" between the Hierarchy and the general public.  I would have you note that I say the general public and not occult groups.  I know and believe that the general public is more ready for a sane knowledge of the Masters and more prepared for a normal and sensible interpretation of occult truth than are the members of the average occult group.

The children were now reaching the age where the normal physical care which engrosses the attention of the average mother was changing into emotional demands.  This cycle which lasts until they are in their 'teens is an exceedingly difficult one—difficult for the children and frightfully difficult for the mothers.  I am not at all sure that I reacted well or acted wisely and it is perhaps simply my good luck that today my daughters seem to like me.  They all had a far more normal time in their up-bringing than I ever had, left as I was to strangers, governesses and masters and that, perhaps, made it difficult for me to understand them.  I had a very exalted idea of what the relationship between mother and children should be.  They had no such exalted idea.  I was just somebody who could be expected to take care of them but who could also be expected to block what they wanted to do.  I learnt a lot during this short cycle of years and have found it most valuable when it became a situation of helping other mothers to handle their problems.  Looking back I don't honestly think that my children had a great deal of cause for disagreement with me for I honestly tried to understand and to be sympathetic but—taking it by and large—I am somewhat disgusted with the average parents in this country and in Great Britain.

Here in the United States we are so lax and lenient with our children that they have very little sense of responsibility or self discipline whilst in Great Britain the discipline [185] and parental demands and supervision and control are enough to make any child revolt.  In both countries it works out exactly in the same way—revolt.  Today the British young generation seems to me, from what I can gather, to be in a state of complete bewilderment as to what they want to do and what the younger generation should stand for in this world, whilst the shocking behavior of the G.I.s in the U. S. Army when over in Europe and elsewhere has been such that they have seriously damaged the prestige of the U. S. in the world.  I do not blame the American boys, I blame their mothers, their fathers, their school teachers and their army officers, who have given them no sense of direction, no sense of responsibility and no true standard of living.  It is certainly not entirely the boy's fault that so many of them went hay-wire during the war and when they went overseas.

When I was in Europe and Great Britain in the summer of 1946 I got direct first-hand information from the nationals in many countries as to their behavior; as to the tens of thousands of illegitimate children they left behind uncared for and unrecognised and as to the hundreds of girls they married and deserted.  One of the most interesting things to me was to discover in what high esteem the negro troops were held for their courtesy and their niceness to the girls, taking no advantage of the girl unless the girl herself were willing.  When I make this criticism of the American boys, and it is also somewhat true of the more disciplined British troops, I recognise, as I said several times in England to the people who were criticising the G.I. boys to me,—"That's all very well, and I'm quite ready to believe that the American boys are all that you say, but what about the dirty little English and French and Dutch girls—for it takes two to play that game."  Though our boys had too much money and were told by our officers to "take the [186] lid off" when on active service yet the girls of foreign nationality must also be held accountable.  It is somewhat understandable that these starving girls and these underfed girls would choose to go with our American soldiers when it meant chicken and bread for their families.  I say this is no excuse for them but I have to say it because it is a plain statement of fact.

This whole problem of sex and of the relationship between the sexes is perhaps one of the world problems which have to be solved within the next century.  How it will be solved is not for me to say.  I suppose it is largely the question of corrective education and of the instilling into young people in their later 'teens that the wages of sin is death.  One of the cleanest men I ever knew who never in his life misconducted himself, as it is puritanically called, told me that the only reason was that at nineteen his father took him into a medical museum and showed him some of the results of misconduct.  I'm no believer in the use of fear for the correction of behavior and weakness but it is possible that the material evidence of material wrong-doing has its value.

I have no intention of dealing at greater length with this subject but it has its bearing on the problem with which I was confronted when we settled down in the house at Ridgefield Park.  I had to send my children to the public schools in New Jersey.  I was accustomed to the idea of co-education but only among an exclusive set of children all of whom were under ten years old.  I, myself, was not the product of the co-educational system and was not at all sure I liked it for children who were nearing their 'teens but I had no alternative and I had to face the issue.

Given the right kind of home and given the right parental influence I know no better system than that of co-education.  The amazement of my own daughters when [187] they first arrived in England and found out how the English girls looked upon the English boys was almost funny.  They found the English girls over-estimating the English boys, full of the mysteriousness of sex and not knowing in the least how to treat boys; whereas the American girl, brought up with boys every day, sitting in class with them, sharing luncheons, walking to and from school together, playing together on playing grounds had a much sounder and more wholesome attitude.  I hope before long we shall see co-education systems in every country in the world.  But behind these systems must stand the home, complementing and offsetting what the scholastic system lacks.  Teaching boys and girls right relationship and responsibilities to each other, and giving them much freedom within the certain, mutually understood limits—a freedom based on trust—is essential.

The three girls started in the public school.  I cannot say they ever distinguished themselves.  Every year they made a grade but I do not remember their ever getting to the top of their class or getting honors.  I do not regard this as any reflection on them.  They all had fine minds and have proved to be highly intelligent citizens; but they just were not particularly interested.  I remember Dorothy bringing me an editorial from the New York Times when she went into High School.  The editorial was dealing with the modern educational system and pointing out its usefulness for the mass.  It went on, however, to point out that the system broke down for the highly intelligent, creative or gifted child.  "And that," said my daughter, "is us and that's why we don't make better grades at school."  She was probably right but I took care not to let her know it.  The trouble with mass co-education is that the teachers have too large classes and no child can get proper attention.  I remember asking Mildred one day why she was not doing her homework, 'Well, mother," she said, "I have calculated [188] that as there are 60 children in my class it will be three weeks before the teacher gets around to me and I don't need to do anything at present."  Anyway, they stewed away at school and got through each term and graduated normally and that was that.  They were, however, great readers.  They were constantly meeting interesting people, listening to interesting conversations and in touch, through Foster and myself with people all over the world, and their education, therefore, was really a very broad one.

All this time Foster was acting as secretary to the Theosophical Association of New York—an unofficial independent organisation—and I was cooking, sewing, doing house-keeping and writing books at home.  Every Monday morning Foster and I would get up at 5 o'clock and do the weekly wash including the sheets for there was little money coming in and it has been only within the last year or so of my life that I have been free of some of my housework.

Foster at this time organised the Committee of 1400—a committee pledged to endeavor to swing the Theosophical Society to its original principles.  This committee was in miniature a tiny replica of the major world cleavage which has climaxed since 1939 in the World War.  It was essentially a fight between the reactionary, conservative forces in the Society and the new liberal forces which were working to see the original principles of the Society restored.  It was a fight between a selective, isolationist, superior group who regarded themselves as wiser and more spiritual than the rest of the membership and those who loved their fellow-men, who believed in progress and the universality of truth.  It was a fight between an exclusive faction and an inclusive group.  It was not a fight of doctrines; it was a fight of principles and Foster spent much time organising the fight.

[189] B. P. Wadia returned from India and we were at first hopeful that he would give strength to what we were trying to do.  We found, however, that he planned to take over, if possible, the presidency of the T.S. in this country with the help of Foster and the Committee of 1400.  Foster, however, had not organised in order to put into power a man who would represent the committee.  The committee was organised to present the issues involved and the principles at stake to the membership of the T.S.  When Wadia discovered that this was so he threatened to throw his interest and weight into the United Lodge of Theosophists, a rival and most sectarian organisation.  They represent the fundamentalist attitude in the T.S. along with one or two other Theosophical groups who represent the point of view of the orthodox theologian, holding that the last word was spoken by H.P.B., that there is nothing more to give out and that unless their interpretation of what H.P.B. said and meant was accepted one cannot be a good Theosophist.  Perhaps this accounts for the fact that all these fundamentalist groups have remained very small.

The Committee of 1400 went ahead with its work.  The next election took place, the membership named its choice (or rather the E.S.  dictated its choice) and the work of the Committee, therefore, came to an end.  Wadia threw his weight, as he had said he would, into the United Lodge of Theosophists, and eventually went back to India where he started one of the best magazines along occult lines extant today.  It is called "The Aryan Path" and is exceedingly fine.  The word Aryan here has nothing to do with Hitler's use of the word.  It concerns the Aryan method of spiritual evaluation and the way in which people belonging to the Fifth Root Race make their approach to reality.

I, in the meantime, had started a Secret Doctrine class and had rented a room on Madison Avenue where we could [190] hold classes and see people by appointment.  This Secret Doctrine class was started in 1921 and was exceedingly well-attended.  People from the various Theosophical societies and occult groups came regularly.  Mr. Richard Prater, an old associate of W. Q. Judge and a pupil of H. P. Blavatsky came to my class one day and the next week turned his entire Secret Doctrine class over to me.

I mention this for the benefit of United Lodge of Theosophists and for those who claim that the true Theosophical lineage descends from H.P.B. via W. Q. Judge.  All the Theosophy that I knew had been taught me by personal friends and pupils of H.P.B. and this Mr. Prater recognised.  Later he gave me the esoteric section instructions as given to him by H.P.B.  They are identical with those I had seen when in the E.S. but they were given to me with no strings attached to them at all and I have been at liberty to use them at any time and have used them.  When he died many years ago his theosophical library came into our hands with all the old Lucifers and all the old editions of the Theosophical magazine, plus other esoteric papers which he had received from H.P.B.

Among the papers which he gave me was one in which H.P.B. expressed her wish that the esoteric section should be called the Arcane School.  It never was and I made up my mind that the old lady should have her wish and that was how the school came to get its name.  I regarded it as a great privilege and happiness to know Mr. Prater.

Another old pupil of Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olcott, Miss Sarah Jacobs, gave me the photographic plates of the Masters' pictures which were given to her by Col. Olcott so that I have more than a happy feeling that the personal pupils and friends of H. P. Blavatsky approved of what I was setting out to do.  I had their endorsement and their help until they passed over to the other side.  They [191] were, naturally, all old people when I first met them.  The attitude of the current Theosophical leaders and membership has always amused me.  They have never approved of what I taught and yet what I taught came direct from personally trained pupils of H.P.B. and is more likely to be correct than that which has come from those who have not known her.  I mention this because for the sake of the work I would like to have its sources recognised.

From the Secret Doctrine class arose groups of students all over the country who received the outlined lessons that I was giving to the class on Madison Avenue.  These classes grew and prospered until they aroused definite Theosophical antagonism and I was warned by Dr. Jacob Bonggren that the classes were under attack.  He was an old pupil of H.P.B. and his writings are to be found in the earlier magazines and I am very proud that he stood behind me in those earlier days.

In 1921 we formed a small meditation group of five men and my husband and myself who used to meet every Tuesday afternoon after business hours to talk about the things that mattered, to discuss the Plan of the Masters of the Wisdom and to meditate for awhile on our part in it.  This group met steadily from the summer of 1922 until the summer of 1923.  In the meantime I was continuing to write for the Tibetan and "Initiation Human & Solar," "Letters on Occult Meditation" and "The Consciousness of the Atom" had been printed.

People are apt to assume that if you write a book on such a technical subject as meditation that you know all about it.  I began to get letters from all over the world from people asking me to teach them to meditate or to put them in touch with the Masters of the Wisdom.  The latter request always amused me.  I'm not one of those occult teachers who claims to know exactly what the Master [192] wants done or to have the right to introduce the curious and the dumb to the Masters.  The Masters are not contacted that way.  They are not the prey of the curiosity seeker, the gullible or the unintelligent.  They can be found by the selfless server of the race and the intelligent interpreter of the truth but by no one else.

I have given out the teaching as it has come to me by the Tibetan but it is His responsibility.  As a Master of the Wisdom He knows what I do not know and has access to records and truths which are sealed to me.  The assumption that I know all that is given out in His books is a false one.  As a trained disciple I may know more than the average reader but I have no knowledge such as that possessed by the Tibetan.  He has vast knowledge and I frequently give a little chuckle when I hear myself described by some antagonistic Theosophist (I could mention names but I will not), as "the peculiar lady who keeps her ear at the keyhole of Shamballa."  It will be a long time before I have earned that right "to enter into the place where the Will of God is known," and when I do I shall need no keyhole.

In the summer of 1922 I went away with the family for three months to Amagansett, Long Island, and undertook to write a letter once a week to the group of men to study and read during our absence.  In many cases this letter seemed appropriate to send to those inquiring about meditation, about the way to God and about the spiritual plan for humanity, so we sent them copies of these letters as we wrote them.  By the time we returned to New York in September 1922 it was necessary to consider in what way we could possibly handle the correspondence that was accumulating as a result of the increasing sales of the books and how to meet the demand for Secret Doctrine classes and how to handle all the appeals for help along spiritual [193] lines with which we were confronted.  We, therefore, in April 1923, organised the Arcane School.

The four or five men associated with my husband and myself in the Tuesday afternoon class rallied around us.  Two of them twenty-four years later are still working with us and two of them have passed over to the other side.  We had not the faintest idea how to handle such work.  We had none of us—with one exception—ever belonged to a correspondence school or knew anything about handling people by correspondence.  All we had was good intention, a burning desire to be of some help, and three books on occult subjects.  Since that time over 30,000 people have passed through the school.  Many hundreds who joined the school, ten, twelve, or eighteen years ago are still with us and the work of the Arcane School is known and recognised in almost every country in the world except Russia and about four other countries.

Had we possessed the slightest indication as to the extensive and all-engrossing work ahead of us I question very much whether we should have had the courage to even make a start.  Had I appreciated the headache and anxieties it would entail and the responsibilities any esoteric school has to shoulder I know I would not have attempted this work; but fools rush in where angels fear to tread, and I rushed.

I could have done none of this without the support and wisdom of my husband.  I shudder to think of the mistakes I would have made, the errors in judgment of which I would have been capable and the legal end of it in which I would have found myself embroiled.  His clear legal mind, his impersonality and his constant failure to get excited when I thought he should, has saved me constantly from myself.

It is not an easy thing to run an esoteric school.  It is [194] far from easy to take the responsibility to teach people true meditation.  It is difficult to tread the narrow, razor-edged path which leads between the higher psychism, or spiritual perception, and the lower psychism which many people share with the cats and dogs.  It is not easy to discriminate between a psychic hunch and an intuitive perception and then, also, take hold of peoples' lives spiritually, when they voluntarily put themselves into your hands for training, and give them what is needed.  None of this would have been possible for me to the extent it has been had it not been for the wonderful help given by the workers at Headquarters and the student-secretaries out in the field.  We started with one room.  We now (1947) have two floors at 11 West 42nd Street with a very large staff of workers, with Headquarters in England also and in Holland, Italy and Switzerland.  Today, apart from the Headquarters Staff we have a group of 140 secretaries, senior students who help in the instruction of the other students.  These secretaries are scattered all over the world and it is owing to their disinterested and voluntary help given steadily over the years that we are able to keep the work going.

When the work started there were certain basic principles which we were determined should govern all the activities of this group.  I am anxious to make these clear because I think they are fundamental and should govern all esoteric schools and because after I am dead and gone I want to feel that these principles will still determine policies.  The basic training given in the Arcane School is that which has been given down the ages to disciples.  The Arcane School, if it is successful, will not therefore in this century at least have a large membership.  Those ready to be trained in the spiritual laws which govern all disciples are rare indeed, though we can look for an increasing number.  The Arcane School is not a school for probationary [195] disciples.  It is intended to be a school for those who can be trained to act directly and consciously under the Masters of the Wisdom.  There are in the world today many schools for probationers and they are doing great and noble and necessary work.

It was for a long time the cause of great bewilderment to me why the T.S. and particularly the E.S. members were so bitterly antagonistic to the work which I was trying to do.  I knew it was not due to our earlier activities in the society and that it was based on something else and that puzzled me.  It had seemed to me and still does that there is room in the world today for hundreds of true esoteric schools and that they all should be able to work in cooperation with each other, supplementing each other and helping each other.

I puzzled over this for a long time and then in Paris in the early 1930s I asked Mr. Marcault, then the head of the T.S. in France, what it was all about.  He looked at me with blank astonishment and said that they naturally objected to my not putting people into the E.S. instead of into my own group.  I looked at him with equal astonishment and told him that in the Arcane School we had four different brands of Theosophists, four different kinds of Rosicrucians and that not one of them wanted to join the T.S. of which he and I were members.  I reminded him that no one was admitted into the E.S. unless they had been for two years members of the T.S. and I asked him why people who were ready for esoteric training should be kept waiting for two years in some purely exoteric group.  He had no answer to this and I increased his bewilderment by pointing out (which I now see was not exactly tactful of me) what a pity it was that the Arcane School and the esoteric section could not work happily together.  I pointed out that the E.S. was the best school for probationers in the world as it fed the fires of aspiration and nurtured devotion in its membership [196] but that we were a school for training people to be "accepted disciples"—that is, those on the last stages of the probationary path and that our emphasis was impersonality and mental development.  I added that we made our work deliberately eliminative, only keeping those who would really work hard and who showed signs of true mental culture.  I told him that we dropped hundreds of the emotional, devotional type and that if only we could work together I could have passed many of these people on to the E.S.  He was neither impressed nor pleased and I cannot say that I blamed him.  It was not that I meant to be derogatory in my statement for to my mind both groups are equally needed; both can serve a spiritual purpose and whether one is a probationer or a disciple one is still a spiritually oriented human being requiring training and discipline.

This idea of status and position has been the curse of the T.S. and many occult groups.  Often have I said to the school secretaries that the fact that they have seniority in the A.S. need be no indication of spiritual development and that they may have in their group of students a beginner who is way ahead of them on the Path of Discipleship.  Why people should think that an emotional, strong feeling, sentient, perceptive person is less important than the mental type is another thing that has bewildered me.  Nobody can exist without their heart or their head and the true occult student is a combination of both.  No Arcane School member is permitted, by the heads of the T.S. to belong to the E.S. without relinquishing affiliation with us.  This is all wrong and part of the great heresy of separateness.

We require no such separation and we tell the students that if the School succeeds in deepening their spiritual life in widening their horizon and in increasing their mental perception it is up to them to work it out in the church, society, organisation or group, the home or community in [197] which their lot is cast.  Because of this we have active students who are members of the various theosophical organisations, each of which regards itself as the only true one.  We have students belonging to four different groups of Rosicrucians.  We have church members, Catholic and Protestant, Christian Scientists, Unity people and members of almost every possible organisation which has a spiritual or religious basis.  We take people who have no beliefs at all but who are willing to accept an hypothesis and attempt to prove its worth.  The Arcane School is therefore non-sectarian, non-political, but deeply international in its thinking.  Service is its keynote.  Its members can work in any sect and any political party provided that they remember that all paths lead to God and that the welfare of the one humanity governs all their thinking.  Above everything else, this is a school in which a student is taught that the souls of men are one.

I would like to add, also, that this is a school wherein belief in the spiritual Hierarchy of our planet is scientifically taught, not as a doctrine but as an existent and demonstrable kingdom in nature.  There has been much church teaching given about the kingdom of God and the kingdom of souls.  These are but terms for the phrase used above, the Spiritual Hierarchy of the planet.

It is a school wherein true, occult obedience is developed.  This occult obedience involves no obedience to me or any other head of the School or to any human being.  No oaths of allegiance or personal pledges to any individual are requested or exacted from students in the Arcane School.  They are taught, however, prompt obedience to the dictates of their own soul.  As the voice of that soul gets increasingly familiar it will eventually make them members of the Kingdom of God and bring them face to face with Christ.

So in 1923 we started a school that was non-doctrinal, [198] non-sectarian and based on the Ageless Wisdom that has come down to us from the very night of time.  We started a school which had a definite purpose and a specific objective—a school which was inclusive and not exclusive and that oriented its students toward a life of service as the road of approach to the Hierarchy instead of the road of selfish, spiritual self-culture.  We determined that the work should be hard and stiff and difficult so the non-intelligent would be eliminated.  One of the easiest things in the world to do is to start a self-interest occult school and it is being done all the time, but we wanted nothing of that kind.

Little by little we learned how to organise the work and how to train the staff and how to systematise the records and take those businesslike methods that would insure our students being promptly serviced.  We have kept the school on a voluntary basis financially and make no charge for the work.  In this way we are under no obligation, financially, to the students and I feel free to drop a student any time if he is not profiting by what we do.  We have no "angel" back of the work and no large donor of any kind.  The work is supported by the small subscriptions of the many, which is very much sounder and more dependable.

I think this is all I have to tell you about the inception of the school and its functioning.  It is the very heart of all we do.  We now have a British section, a Dutch section, an Italian section, a Swiss section and a South American section with organised work in Turkey and West Africa and members scattered in many other countries.  The school papers go out in many languages and the students in these countries are handled by secretaries who speak their language.  The service activities extend into an even wider field and I shall not attempt to deal with them here.

The next six years, from 1924 to 1930, are somewhat monotonous.  As I look over them I am profoundly conscious [199] of a cycle in which day after day, week after week, month after month, I did the same thing as I continued to develop the Arcane School.  I was continuously writing school papers and articles.  I was eternally seeing people by appointment and by 1928 I was often seeing people every twenty minutes right through the day.  I never flattered myself that this was because I was such a wonderful person.  It was largely because I made no charge.

These were the years in which every kind of psychologist was lecturing up and down the land.  Every type of psyche-analyst was giving appointments and charging heavily for them.  I never made any charge and my days were full of seeing people who had some problem or other and hoped I could solve it.  There was one woman in New York at that time who charged $500 for a half hour appointment and she had a waiting list.  I'll guarantee that she never gave as useful advice as I gave for nothing.

One of the mysteries of human nature emerged most definitely into my consciousness at this time.  I discovered that people were perfectly willing to talk about the most intimate affairs in their daily lives, revealing their sex relations with their husbands or their wives to me—a perfect stranger.  I suppose my reaction against this was based upon my British background for we here in America have always talked more freely to strangers than has ever been the custom with the other half of the Anglo Saxon race.  Candidly, I've never liked it.  There is a certain reticence which is useful and right, and I have always realised that when people have been too frank with one and have given themselves away in intimate conversation they generally end by hating you—a type of hatred that is not warranted or merited by the person in whom they have confided.  I've never been interested in the sex relations of people but I realise that it is a major factor in individual harmony.

[200] This whole question of sex is today in a fluid condition.  I am myself a conservative Britisher, with a horror of divorce, with a dislike of sex discussions but I do know, however, that the modern generation is not entirely wrong.  I do know that the Victorian attitude was rotten and pernicious.  Their secrecy and the mystery they aroused around the whole problem of sex was a dangerous thing in an innocent group of young people in creative natural living.  The whispers, the secrets, the communications behind locked doors raised inquiries among young people and resulted in dirtiness in their thinking and is something difficult to forgive in the Victorian father and mother.  Today we are suffering from the reaction to this.  It is almost possible that young people know too much, but I personally believe it to be a far safer condition than the one in which I was raised.

Just what is the solution of the sex problem of the races I do not know.  I do know that under British law in foreign countries and presumably Dutch and any other laws, a man who is a Mohammedan may have a plurality of wives.  Men of every nation, American, British or any other nation have always had plurality of contacts.  Out of all this promiscuity and out of all this searching for an answer some true solution will eventually emerge.  The French haven't got it, for with the French nation there is the demonstration that "the mind is the slayer of the real."  They are such realists that the beautiful, spiritual, subjective thing is often forgotten and this indicates a great lack in the French equipment.  Their Senate assembles without any recognition of Deity; their Masonic orders are outlawed by the Grand Lodges of other countries because they recognise no Grand Architect of the Universe and their planned sex relationships are based upon a purely utilitarian [201] concept which is basically sound provided there is nothing in the world but material living.

Today, in 1947, the world is sex mad.  Great Britain, the U. S., and all other countries are riddled by divorce procedures; young people marry on the basis that if the union is not a happy one it can be dissolved, and who shall say they are wrong?  Illegitimate children as a result of the war psychosis in every country are almost the rule and not the exception.  Wherever marching armies march hundreds of thousands of illegitimate children are the result.  The church fulminates against the modern view of marriage and its disillusion but offers no solution, and both the Catholic and Episcopal churches of the U. S. and Great Britain hold the view that if a divorce is procured any later marriage is adultery.