Coats John B. S.
1906 - 1979

   

Rodil sem se 8. julija 1906 na Škotskem in zato živel z mnogimi duhovi! - na gradu Sundrum. Po osnovni šoli sem od leta 1918 do leta 1924 šolanje nadaljeval na Eton College.

Potem me je moja družina poslala za osemnajst mesecev v Francijo, da bi se tekoče naučil tega jezika. Naučil sem se res veliko in to mi je zelo pomagalo pri delu za Teozofsko društvo na mnogih evropskih poletnih šolah in v ložah.

Nato sem bil vpeljan v družinski posel, J. & P. Coats, in okoli dve leti delal v naši pisarni v Glasgowu, nakar so me poslali v vzhodno-evropski urad na Dunaju, kjer sem ostal okoli tri leta. Tu sem se naučil nemško, kar mi je prav tako prišlo zelo prav pri mojem kasnejšem teozofskem delu. Tako sem bil sposoben predavati tako v francoskem kot nemškem jeziku in sem v obeh tudi delal napake.

Ko sem zaprosil za prestavitev v Anglijo, so mi povedali, da je v domači pisarni že preveč družinskih članov in da moram ostati na Dunaju, kar pa sem zavrnil. Tako sem zapustil podjetje in se vrnil v London, kjer sem leta 1931 srečal svojo bodočo ženo. Vendar pa sem ohranil mnoge poslovne stike z Dunaja, ki so bili povezani z izgradnjo helikopterjev. Tako sem se vrnil na Dunaj, kjer sem v kavarni srečal tujca, ki mi je spregovoril o teozofiji, kar je korenito spremenilo moje življenje.

Ker sem imel zelo neprijetno izkušnjo s ptico, ki sem jo v mladosti ustrelil in ranil, sem se že davno pred tem srečanjem odločil, da bom vegetarijanec. Deloval sem tudi v okviru Moral Rearmament (ki se je tedaj imenovalo Oxford Group Movement) in se ob tem odpovedal kajenju in pitju alkohola.

Ko sem se oktobra leta 1932 vrnil v London, sem se tako pridružil Teozofskemu društvu v Angliji. Takrat je bila dr. Besantova še živa, tako da je na moji članski diplomi, in tudi na Betsanijini, njen podpis. Takrat je bil živ tudi še C. W. Leadbeater, vendar pa se nisva srečala z nobenim od njiju. Z Betsan sva se poročila oktobra leta 1933 in nato gojila najino družinsko zanimanje za teozofijo, ki je odtlej prevladovalo v najinih življenjih. Pogosto sva zahajala v Stanford House, kjer je z veliko skupino članov živel H. L. Gardner - na kar se pogosto spominjam z občutkom nostalgije. Podajal je zelo vzpodbujajoča in razsvetljujoča predavanja, na katerih sva srečala zanimive ljudi - na primer Alice Bailey. Nekega dne sva bila povabljena na srečanje z C. Jinarajadaso, kar je bil velik dogodek; leto kasneje pa sva srečala dr. Arundalea in Rukmini.

To je bil začetek štirih delovnih in izjemno srečnih let v tesnem stiku z G. S. A. Predvidevam, da sem se od njega naučil več o globoki realnosti teozofije in o Starejših Bratih kot v katerem koli drugem obdobju mojega teozofskega življenja.

Leto 1935 naju je zateklo na najinem popotovanju po svetu, nakar sva šest let preživela v Adyarju. Nato sva se lotila dela v Evopi - potovala leta 1936 z Arundalovima v mnoge dežele, vključno z Balkanom in Skandinavijo - in poskusila s prvimi predavanji v Angliji.

Leta 1935 sem bil vključen v preoblikovanje World Federation of Young Theosophists, za kar si je globoko prizadeval sam dr. Arundale. Kar nekaj let je bil predsedujoči te organizacije, in z zadovoljstvom lahko rečem, da je ta sedaj celo močnejša kot kdaj koli - ne zaradi mojega, ampak svojega lastnega delovanja.

Leti 1937/38 sva s svojima dvema otrokoma znova delovno preživela v Adyarju. Betsan je pomagala Rukmini organizirati umetniško razstavo, jaz pa sem delal v predsednikovem uradu, kar je bila velika izkušnja. To je bilo v času pisanja Lotus Fire (Lotosov ogenj), ko je v Adyarju vladalo to, čemur bi lahko rekli 'Poglobljena Yoga'. Leto 1938 je prineslo nove dogodke, med katerimi je bilo za naju najpomembnejše oktobrsko slovo od Arundalovih (G. S. A. nisem v tem življenju nikoli več videl živega, čeprav sva si precej dopisovala), smrt mojega očeta v avgustu in 13. decembra usodna nesreča mojega sina Christopherja.

Nato je prišla vojna, ki je korenito spremenila življenja mnogih od nas. V Angliji sem se pridružil vojski, varnostnim silam, ter upal, da mi ne bo potrebno nikogar ubiti! Imel sem precej resno nesrečo z motorjem, zaradi katere sem preživel več mesecev v bolnišnici in bil kot invalid odpuščen iz vojske.

Leta 1941 so bile v Angliji volitve za novega generalnega sekretarja, na katerih sem bil izvoljen in nato zasedal ta položaj do leta 1946. Zaradi vojne so bila to težka leta, vendar pa tudi polna priložnosti v zelo neobičajnih okoliščinah. Navkljub zatemnitvam in bombardiranjem, nujnim omejitvam zaradi napadov na državo, kar se je v Angliji dejansko dogajalo vse do preobrata, smo se trudili delovati po najboljših močeh. Betsan je skrbela za hišo na deželi, kjer je bilo včasih tudi po petdeset ljudi. Ti se niso vedno najbolj razumeli med seboj, vendar pa so se vsi tja zatekli pred bombardiranjem. Negovali smo medsebojne odnose, tako kot so jih tudi pribežniki iz londonskih revnih četrti.

V Londonu so bile noči pogosto temne, tako da smo vstajali ob zvokih siren in se nato odpravljali po dolžnostih po mestnih ulicah. 'Buzz-bombs', kakor smo jih imenovali, so nam priskrbele mnoge priložnosti za resno razmišljanje, v enem trenutku o življenju, že v naslednjem pa o smrti. Uspelo mi je, da sem z vojaškim letalom poletel v Francijo na Dan Zmage v Evropi. Na pariških ulicah so bile ogromne množice ljudi in vsi so peli in plesali; vse je bilo zelo ganljivo. Nikoli ne bom pozabil dneva, ko so se francoski člani zopet srečali v svojem glavnem stanu (med vojno ga je uporabljal Gestapo za mnoge nesrečne namene) in prinesli lilijine cvetove v počastitev H.P.B.-jinega dneva Belega Lotosa. Leta 1946, ravno ko sem zapustil položaj generalnega sekretarja, sva bila zaradi nekajletnega dela povabljena v Združene Države Amerike. V tistem času je bil predsednik C. Jinarajadasa. Z njim sem bil med vojno v zelo tesnem stiku, saj je bil pogosto v Londonu, v centru, ki ga je tam izgradil. Hišo so kupili leta 1939 in v njej je brat Raja preživel večino vojne, ker je veljalo prepričanje, da se je potrebno osredotočiti na London (ker je bilo pričakovati zasedbo Nizozemske) in center v Huizenu ne bi več normalno deloval. To je bila čudovita priložnost za druženje z bratom Rajo in biti deležen njegove modrosti. Tri, oziroma tri leta in pol, v ZDA so prešla zelo hitro. Predavala sva gor in dol po deželi ter obiskala Kanado, Mehiko in Kubo. Odvijale so se konvencije in srečanja federacij, poleti pa se je ponujala priložnost obiskati Divji Zahod in druge čudovite kraje v tej prostrani deželi. Najini otroci so bili v šoli v Ojai Valley, kar je na njih pustilo dober vtis. Leta 1949 sva se z Betsan in družino vrnila v Anglijo ter nato za šest mesecev odpotovala v Avstralijo in na Novo Zelandijo in delala za T. D.

Leto 1951 je prineslo selitev in precejšnje spremembe v najinem načinu življenja. Betsan je odpotovala predavati v Avstralijo, jaz pa na obisk lož po vsej Evropi in v ZK. Dobila sva se leta 1952 v Južni Afriki ter obiskala lože še v tej deželi. Nato sva odšla v Kenijo in se srečala z mnogimi indijskimi člani Vzhodne Afrike, nato pa z ladjo do Adyarja na konvencijo 1952/53, s tremi otroci, ki so z veseljem obiskovali šolo v Adyarju. Bila sva prisotna, ko je brat Raja predal predsedniški prstan bratu Sri Ramu. To je bil navdihujoč trenutek. Leta 1953 sem postal tajnik g. Van Diessela, ki je takrat vodil Evropsko Federacijo z več kot dvajsetimi državami. Potrebno je bilo veliko potovati - prisostvovati in organizirati poletne šole ter obiskovati lože po celotni celini. Znanje jezikov mi je bilo precej v pomoč, saj sem lahko obiskal številne lože, ki prej skorajda niso bile deležne nobenega obiska. Preteklo je že skoraj leto, odkar je Betsan sprožila 'Wings of Friendship', ki naj bi pomagala nesrečnikom v begunskih taboriščih po Evropi. Pomagal sem že od vsega začetka, vendar pa je bila to njena zamisel. Nekako sva uspela uskladiti obiske številnih taborišč v Nemčiji, Avstriji, Italiji in Grčiji. To je bilo res delovno obdobje.

1957. je Betsan odšla z najinim najmlajšim sinom v Avstralijo in delala na načrtu izgradnje prehodnega hotela za begunce, dokler ne bi dobili ustrezne zaposlitve. Načrtovano šestmesečno delo se je raztegnilo na petnajst let.

Leta 1959 sem bil izvoljen za predsednika Evropske Federacije in to delo opravljal vse do leta 1968. Devet let se zdi dolga doba za neko delo; verjamem, da so spremembe dobrodošle. Med tem časom sem na podlagi povabil večkrat obiskal Indijo, trikrat Južno Ameriko, Združene Države in Avstralijo, s kratkimi postanki v Izraelu in Afriki. Dvakrat smo organizirali čarterski prevoz na konvencijo v Adyar ter tako pomagali, da so bili ti srečni trenutki bolj mednarodno obarvani! Adyar je daleč! Leta 1966 me je Sri Ram prosil, da bi pripravil svetovni kongres - prvič po letu 1936, ko je bil v Ženevi. To je zahtevalo veliko potovanj v Salzburg, vendar pa sem bil deležen precejšnje pomoči. Brat Sri Ram je predsedoval okoli 1.300-tim članom z vsega sveta in misim, da so vsi čutili, da je bil kongres dejansko koristen.

Leta 1968 sem, potem ko so se moji otroci poročili in odšli od doma, prodal hišo v Angliji ter se podal na popotovanja zaradi potreb Društva. Obiskal sem Južno Ameriko, Zahodno Indijo, Mehiko, ZDA in Kanado, Honolulu in Fidži, Novo Zelandijo, Avstralijo, Indonezijo, Malajo, Vietnam, Filipine in Japonsko, Indijo, Ceylon in Pakistan, Vzhodno, Južno in Zahodno Afriko, Izrael in skoraj vse države v Evropi. Hvaležen sem za vso gostoljubje, ki sem ga bil deležen povsod, pa čeprav se včasih z nostalgijo spominjam svojega doma. No, sem pač rak! Dokler sem bil še dejaven v Evropi, me je Sri Ram prosil, naj naredim vse, kar lahko, za Theosophical Order of Service, in to delo me je vedno zelo zanimalo. Mislim, da moramo biti dejavni, v takšni ali drugačni obliki, kakor tudi pripravljeni širiti teozofski ideal. In svetu, ne le naši mali skupini, moramo nameniti naš glavni napor.

Biographical Notes, John B. S. Coats, The Theosophist, April 1980

I was born in Scotland on 8th July 1906, and lived with many ghosts! - In the Sundrum Castle. After preparatory school I continued my education at Eton College from 1918 to 1924.

After this, my family sent me to France for eighteen months or more to acquire fluency in the language. I learned a lot which has stood me in good stead with Theosophical Society work in many European summer-schools and lodges.

I was then taken into the family business of J. & P. Coats, and worked in our Glasgow office for about two years after which I was sent to the Eastern European office in Vienna, where I worked for about three years. Here I learned German which also helped me very much in subsequent Theosophical work. Thus I have been able to give talks in both - French and German - and I have made mistakes in both languages!

When I asked for a transfer to England I was told that there were already too many of my family in the home office and so I would have to stay in Vienna; this I refused to do. So I left the firm and I returned to London where, I took a job in the Stock Exchange. It was in London in 1931 that I met my future wife. However, I retained several business contacts in Vienna to do with the building of helicopters. I was back there in 1932 when I met a stranger in a cafe, who spoke to me of Theosophy and this radically changed my life.

Having had an experience with a bird I had shot and wounded earlier, I had already decided to become vegetarian and I was already one before this meeting. I had also worked with Moral Rearmament (then called the Oxford Group Movement) and through this had given up smoking and alcohol.

So when I came back to London in October 1932, I joined the Theosophical Society in England. At this time, Dr. Besant was still alive and her name is on my membership diploma and on Betsan's too. C.W. Leadbeater also was alive but we never meet neither of them. Betsan and I were married in October 1933 and then began our family-cum theosophical interest that has dominated our lives ever since. We used to go very often to Stanford House where H. L. Gardner lived with a large - I sometimes think a bit nostalgically home - group of members. He gave very stimulating and illuminating talks and we met interesting people there - Mrs. Alice Bailey, for instance. One day we were invited to meet C. Jinarajadasa and that was a great occasion; a year later we meet Dr. Arundale and Rukmini.

That was the beginning of four busy and especially happy years rather close contact with G. S. A. I suppose that I learned more from him and though him felt more the deep reality of Theosophy and of the Elder Brothers, than in any other period of my theosophical life.

1935 saw us going around the world, and then we spent some six years in Adyar. After this, there was a work in Europe - traveling in 1936 with the Arundales to many countries including the Balkans and Scandinavia - and we were busy in England with our first attempt as given talks.

In 1935 I was involved in the reformation of the World Federation of Young Theosophists in which Dr. Arundale interested himself deeply. For a number of years, I was its President-Chairman and am pleased to say it is now going even stronger than ever - not due to my efforts, but to its own.

1937/38 saw us again in Adyar with two children and we were very busy there. Betsan helped Rukmini to arrange an art exhibition and I worked in the President's office, which was a great experience. It was at the time of the writing of the Lotus Fire and an atmosphere of what we might call 'Yoga in Depth' ruled Adyar. 1938 brought other happenings, of which the most telling for us were a farewell in October to the Arundales (I was never to see G. S. A. alive again in this life, although we had much correspondence), the death of my father in August and the fatal accident to my son Christopher on 13th December.

Then came the war that was to change the lives of so many of us so radically. I went into the Army in England, joining the security forces and hoping I might not have to kill anyone! However, even during the course of training I had a rather severe motor-bicycle accident which kept me in and out of hospital for many months and resulted in my being invalid out of the army.

There was an election for General Secretary of the English Section in 1941 and I was elected; I remained in the post until 1946. They were difficult years because of the war, but also full of opportunities in very unusual circumstances. We just did the best we could with the blackout, the bombings, the restrictions necessary for a country besieged, as England virtually was for some years before the tide turned. Betsan kept house in the country with sometimes as many fifty people in our home. Not all the varied types of persons mixed particularly well, but they were all there to escape for a time of the Bombing. We had our own relations as well as evacuees from the slums of London.

In London the nights were spent, often enough, getting up when the siren sounded, to go out on duty in the streets.  The 'buzz-bombs', as we called them, provided us with many an opportunity for serious consideration of life one moment and death the next. I manage to go over to France in an Army plane on Victory in Europe Day. There were vast crowds in the streets of Paris and everyone was singing and dancing; it was all very moving. I shall never forget the first time the French Members met again in their own headquarters (it had been used by the Gestapo for many unhappy purposes) with everyone bringing lilies of the valley for H. P. B.'s White Lotus Day commemoration. In 1946, just after I stepped down from the General Secretary's job, we were invited to go to the United States of America to work for some years. By this time C. Jinarajadasa was President. I had had very close contact with him all during the war when he was frequently in London at the Centre he had built up there. A house had been bought in 1939 and here Bro. Raja lived for most of the war, it being thought necessary to have such a focus in London when (the fall of Holland having been foreseen) Huizen would no longer be able to function properly. It was a marvelous chance to be often with Bro. Raja and to benefit from his wisdom. Three or three and half years in the USA passed very quickly. We were very busy lecturing up and down the country, and there were visits to Canada, Mexico and Cuba. There were conventions and federation-meetings and in the summer, the opportunity to see the Wild West and other beautiful places in this vast country. The children were at school in the Ojai Valley and this has left a good mark on them. In 1949, Betsan and the family returned to England and I went on to Australia and New Zealand for six months in each country touring on T.S. work.

1951 was a year of moving house and much change in our living-patterns. Betsan went off on a tour of Australia and I visited Lodges all over Europe and the UK. We all met in 1952 in South Africa and went around the Lodges in this country. We went up Kenya and made many contacts with Indian Members in East Africa. Then over by boat to Adyar for the Convention of 1952/53, with three children who went to school at Adyar and loved it. We were present to see Brother Raja to transfer the Presidential ring to Bro. Sri Ram. It was an inspiring moment. In 1953 I became Secretary to Mr. Van Diessel, at that time in charge of the European Federation with its more than twenty countries. There was much traveling - attending and arranging summer-schools, visiting Lodges all over the continent. My languages came in useful in that I was able to visit a number of Lodges that had hardly ever been visited before. It was already a year or more since Betsan had started 'Wings of Friendship' to bring help to the unfortunates in the refugee camps of Europe. I helped with it from the start but initially it was her idea. We were able to combine visits to the many camps of Germany. Austria,  Italy and Greece. This was a busy period.

In 1957 Betsan went off to Australia with our youngster son and began building her Hotel project to help refugees to emigrate to a decent job. A six months projected trip finally lengthened into fifteen years.

In 1959 I was elected President of the European Federation and continued to do the same kind of work until I stepped down in 1968. Nine years seemed long enough to hold a job; I believe in change, wherever feasible. During this time, and on account of a number of invitations received, I managed to visit India a number of times and there were three visits to South America, the United States and Australia, with shorter visits to other places, e.g. Israel and Africa en route to and from India. Twice we organized air charter-flights to India for the Adyar Convention, and these were happy occasions for all who took part and helped to make the Conventions a little more international! Adyar is far away! In 1966 Sri Ram asked me to arrange the World Congress - the first since 1936 when it was in Geneva. This necessitated many visits to Salzburg, but I had much fine assistance. Bro. Sri Ram presided over about 1.300 members from all over the world and I think everyone felt that the Congress was really useful.

In 1968, my children having married and gone away, I sold my house in England and set out on my wanderings on behalf of the Society. I visited South America, the West Indies, Mexico, the U.S.A. and Canada, Honolulu and Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Malaya, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, India, Ceylon, and Pakistan, East, South and West Africa, Israel and nearly every country in Europe. I am grateful for all the hospitality received everywhere, even if, at times, I sometimes think a bit nostalgically about Home. Well, I am a Cancerian! While I was active in Europe Sri Ram asked me to do all I could for the Theosophical Order of Service and this side of the work has always interested me very much. I think we have to be active, in some form or other, as well as being concerned with the spreading of the theosophical ideal. And it is to the world that we must direct our chief effort not solely to our own small group.

Biographical Notes by John B. S. Coats, The Theosophist, April 1980

Nastopni govor, 17. november, 1973 - odlomek

Inaugural address, November 17, 1973 - excerpt

Uravnovešen teozof je tisti, ki se usmerja tako navzven, proti obodu, kakor navznoter, proti jedru - navzven, da bi izkušal morje realnosti o Edinem, in navznoter, da bi delil to razumevanje s koristnim služenjem drugim ... Zato naša potreba, da se zanimamo za svet, v katerem živimo, in za vse, kar se v njem dogaja, za odkritja znanosti in za napore, ki jih opravljajo Združeni Narodi in druge mednarodne organizacije, da bi dosegli širno razumevanje temeljne človekove združenosti z vesoljem okoli nas in s soljudmi, ki so nam bližje ... Jutrišnji svet - En svet, o katerem tako pogosto govorimo - bo zahteval od vsakega od nas, pa najsi živi v mirni vasi v Indiji ali v hrupnem mestu v Združenih Državah, precej večjo pozornost za potrebe, interese, navade in upanja vseh drugih, ne le znotraj našega Društva, ampak v odnosu do širšega sveta, ki je navsezadnje naš svet, s svojimi neštetimi problemi in bolečinami.

A balanced Theosophist is one who goes out to the circumference as he goes in towards the centre-inwards to experience mare of the reality of the One, and outwards to share this understanding in a useful service to others … Hence the need for us to interest ourselves in the world in which we live and in all that is going on, in the findings of science and in the efforts being made by the United Nations and other international groups to bring about a widespread understanding of man’s essential unity with the universe around and with his fellows nearer at hand … The world of tomorrow - the One world of which we often speak - will demand of each one of us, whether he lives in a quiet village in India or a bustling city of the United States, a far greater awareness of the needs, interests, customs and hopes of all the rest of us, not only within our Society but in relation to the larger world, which is also after all our world, with its countless problems and pains.


Zakaj sem se pridružil Teozofskemu društvu.

Why I joined the Theosophical Society.

Pripravil: Anton Rozman