Skip to main content

Long, James Albert

(1898-1971). Long was international head of the Theosophical Society (TS), Pasadena, from 1951 to 1971. His administration was marked by an emphasis on the practical expression of theosophy in daily living and, to combat crystallization, a reorganization of the Society’s methods and activities.

Long was born in York, Pennsylvania, on August 27, 1898. Following a career in private business, he worked during World War II as management consultant in the Office of the Quartermaster General in Washington, D.C., and was later transferred to the Department of State where he assisted in the changeover to peacetime responsibilities. While there, Long was sent as an Adviser to the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations at the opening of its Second Session in 1946.

In 1935 Long joined the Theosophical Society, then headquartered at Point Loma, California. He was appointed business manager of its American Section by Colonel Arthur L. CONGER in 1939, and Cabinet member of the TS in 1945. Upon retirement from government service in 1947, he joined the staff of the TS headquarters (relocated at Covina shortly after the outbreak of WWII), where he continued to work closely with Conger, the Society’s leader at that time. In December 1950, Conger sent Long on a world tour in order to contact officials and members with regard to the future work of the Society. He returned just ten days before Conger’s death and succeeded him as leader in February 1951.

Frequently referring to his predecessor’s and his own administrations as a transition period from the “receiving end to the giving end” of theosophy, Long urged members to share their theosophic knowledge from their own experience, in their own words without propagandizing, i.e., with sensitivity to what is being called forth by karma and the need of others. To this purpose, he founded and edited Sunrise magazine as a bridge between theosophy and the general public, each issue offering theosophic perspectives on relevant trends in science, philosophy, and religion, as well as studies in ancient and modern theosophy.

Recognizing the membership’s greater understanding of the Society’s objectives and the necessity of periodical renovation, Long placed the TS entirely on a volunteer basis without fees or dues. He also brought to completion a consolidation program initiated by Gottfried de Purucker, and continued by Colonel Conger, so that incoming generations could rebuild organizational forms and activities relevant to their needs. Accordingly, Long requested that virtually all branch activity be temporarily discontinued and that members give greater emphasis to realizing theosophic ideals in daily life — to become better examples of true brotherhood in action, the original program of the TS.

To enhance the flow of theosophic teachings into the world, he strengthened the publishing activity of Theosophical University Press and its overseas agencies, featuring the primary source books and classics of theosophy, including the first soft-cover editions of The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled. A number of Long’s writings, drawn largely from his editorials and “Roundtables” in Sunrise magazine, were published in 1965 as Expanding Horizons, which has been in wide use as an introductory text on theosophy. Long died on July 19, 1971, and was succeeded by Grace F. KNOCHE.


© Copyright by the Theosophical Publishing House, Manila