Theosophical Encyclopedia

Katherine Tingley as I Knew Her

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

TE BDZ 2 img 6962zb katherine tingley founder of lomaland in her officejpg

Katherine Tingley, founder of Lomaland, at her desk

[written in 1979]

July 11, 1979, will mark the fiftieth anniversary of Katherine Tingley's "Passing into Light," after a long life dedicated to the service of humanity.

As is often the case with unusual people, her stature grows as her image recedes into the distant past. Misunderstood by some, violently opposed by others, misjudged by those whose materialism and ignorant conceit were challenged by her spiritual outlook on life, Katherine Tingley is slowly being recognized as an inspired leader of thought, and a witness to the undreamt of possibilities of the hidden powers in man.

The Point Loma Theosophical Center which she founded on the eve of the twentieth century, and of which she was the driving force and the inspirer, was another "witness," in the age-old meaning of this mystical expression, to the redeeming and the spiritually-constructive power of human brotherhood. Apart from being the Headquarters of a world wide organization, it was intended to be a nucleus of a mystery-school built on the traditional lines of ancient temple-schools, in which men and women who were ready in this incarnation were taught how to unlock from within themselves their inborn spiritual capacities, and how to put them into practice on lines of devoted service and unselfish endeavor within the structure of a cooperative effort in the cause of the Ancient-Wisdom.

Such an effort can be successfully started and harmoniously conducted only by an initiated disciple of esoteric knowledge, in touch with the Custodians of that knowledge, and laboring under their tutelage. Such an initiated disciple Katherine Tingley undoubtedly was, and I take this occasion to declare this as my own irrefutable conviction.

She was a powerful character, with an immense driving force, an unquenchable inspiration, a total dedication to the highest spiritual ideals, an inspiring outlook on life, on the potencies of every human being, and a disregard of the negative aspects of those whose positive qualities she incessantly fostered, and whose dormant capabilities she constantly urged into action.

She was a person of kindly and sympathetic attitude wherever these were required, and a person of great moral strength and dynamic force when such were needed. Some of her actions and plans showed rather plainly that she was able to use a power of foreknowledge not ordinarily common among men, and to rely on a thorough acquaintance with human nature gathered in previous lives. These made it possible for her to blend into concerted action the lives of a many-sided community made up of a large number of men and women from the four quarters of the globe. This, if nothing else, was a clear evidence of spiritual leadership, as a genuine leader is a man or woman who can sense the aspirations and higher desires of others and release them to action in harmonious unity. It is relatively easy to try and impose ones own will upon ignorant followers who happen to love authority where they see it. It is far more difficult to guide the potencies of other peoples' wills into constructive spiritual and ethical channels, and to lead them into forceful and sustained action in a great and impersonal Cause. Katherine Tingley was able to do that throughout her career.

Some have attempted to convince others that she was a medium and that she was occasionally engaged in mediumistic pursuits of a kind. Only ignorant people can hold this view, those unacquainted with Katherine Tingley's character and her opinion upon such matters. In all my association with her, never once have I seen the slightest tendency towards mediumism or anything commonly associated with it. She was adamant on psychic matters, warning against the development of any psychic powers, or abnormal psychic tendencies unregulated by reason and a sound intellectual understanding. However, it is understandable that some of her spiritual qualities of foreknowledge, direct perception of certain truths, and developed spiritual intuition, would APPEAR as akin to mediumism, to those whose knowledge about such things is almost nil, and whose information is usually distorted by other channels through which it had to pass before reaching them.

Neither the personality of Katherine Tingley nor the nature and objectives of her work can ever be adequately understood and justly appraised without taking into consideration the fact that she was an initiated disciple of one of the Teachers and was often acting as a DIRECT AGENT instructed to perform a certain task in the world, to leave a specific message for future generations of men, and to carry out a certain mandate better known to those under whose directions she worked. Unless this is taken into careful advisement, there will be misunderstandings and misjudgments as a natural result of wrong premises and distorted views.

As other direct agents of the Brotherhood of Teachers, Katherine Tingley exhibited upon occasion somewhat conflicting tendencies and characteristics which cannot be adequately explained without at least some knowledge of occult matters. This is almost invariably the case with such agents, and this fact alone, if nothing else, makes it very difficult to appraise their work, judge their actions, and assess their worth in proper relation to their surrounding and their karmic circumstances.

Agents of the Brotherhood are not mediums in the usual meaning of that term, which, as a rule, is connected in peoples' minds with one or another condition of trance. Such agents are MEDIATORS, in the sense of being channels -- selfconsciously aware -- through whom some specific teaching or work is to be conveyed, and these are sometimes different from the personal characteristics of the disciple and may be conveyed only partially or with slight modifications. Any careful study of the life of HPB or of W.Q. Judge will show this with considerable clarity. They were also MEDIATORS of their own type and kind. As a matter of fact, the Theosophical Movement -- using this term in a worldwide meaning, and without relation to any specific age or era of history -- has had a number of MEDIATORS who worked, and work even today, under the general guidance of the Brotherhood, to the extent to which they are able to channel that guidance through their own personal natures.

One of the major achievements of Katherine Tingley, and a crowning victory of her work and training, was the fact that she was able to hand over her Torch of Light to another direct agent of the Brotherhood -- Gottfried de Purucker -- who in his own quality of MEDIATOR formulated and outlined further installments of the Esoteric Philosophy from the same ageless source of Wisdom.

Now, fifty years after Katherine Tingley's departure from our scene of action, let this brief account stand as a declaration of trust and deep appreciation from the present writer for the inestimable privilege of having been led to knowing her personally, and for the karmic opportunity of having been for some years a pupil under her tutelage and guidance. The Center which she founded and led will someday be recognized as an integral part of the Mystery-Schools, which arise and disappear temporarily, on the shifting scenes of history, as links in an endless chain of similar efforts. They stand as Witnesses to the never-dying Wisdom of Those who guide the faltering steps of the human race through the stages of its immaturity and its search for the Light that can illumine all life, the Present and the Past, and throw its shining beam upon the Future.

[reprinted from THEOSOPHIA, Spring 1979, pages 3-5.]

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