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Esoteric School of Pasadena

Mar 01, 2006 01:53 PM
by gregory

In response to Damian's request for information on the Pt Loma/Pasadena ES I am
sending a summary of a section from a paper I gave at a Thosophical history
conference in California many years ago. It comes from a study of secret
societies and esoteric groups within the Theosophical movement. I hope to
complete the work for publication one day.

Dr Gregory Tillett

De Purucker died suddenly and unexpectedly on September 27, 1942.  He had left
specific instructions regarding his successor: the successor was to “emerge”
within three years after de Purucker’s death, and would be recognized by “the
proper proofs of spiritual leadership”.  During those three years, the Society
was to be ruled by a Cabinet.  If no Head emerged, then the Cabinet was to
elect a leader.

No successor emerged, and the Cabinet elected Colonel Conger.  The ES continued
without an OH. De Purucker had made no provision for a successor to be
appointed, but, at ES meetings he had given directions on the matter, and these
had been published in a confidential ES circular: if within three months after
de Purucker’s death or disappearance no-one could give “the proper proofs of
spiritual leadership”, “then you will know that you have failed”.  The ES was
meanwhile administered by a Council.

Conger began to make claims to this position.  At a meeting of the ES on
December 21, 1945, Conger claimed to be the OH of the ES.  The Cabinet divided
between those who accepted this claim (including John van Mater and Grace
Knoche) and those who rejected it (including Henry Edge and Emmett Small).

On December 25, ten leading members of the ES (including Small, Harrison and
Edge) presented Conger with a statement of protest against his claim.  They
challenged Conger to demonstrate knowledge of an inner degree of the ES. Conger
declined to do so.

A controversy developed between Conger and his supporters, and those who denied
his claims.  In March, 1946, Conger demanded the resignation of the dissidents.

It seems probable that the majority of members of the ES within the Point Loma
Society rejected Conger’s claim.

At a meeting on Paris 4, 1946, Conger announced the closure of the ES “by the
Master’s direction”, and declared that esoteric activities were now “forbidden
by the Master”.  However, in October, 1946, a circular was sent out announcing
that ES activities were to be resumed, and those wishing to take part must sign
and return a pledge, whereupon they would receive de Purucker’s ES instructions.

Conger died on February 22, 1951, and left a witnessed document appointing
William Hartley as his successor.  However, the Cabinet unanimously refused to
recognize Hartley and James Long was appointed as leader.

Long claimed that de Purucker had stopped giving out teachings about 1939, and
that there had been no instruction after that year even in the ES.  Long
finally closed the ES, saying, enigmatically, “the esoteric has now become
exoteric, and the exoteric esoteric”.

Following Long’s death on July 19, 1971, he was succeeded by Grace Knoche.

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