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Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey - Chapter VI
We had been in correspondence for some little while with a woman in Switzerland who had a good deal of knowledge and who was interested in what we were teaching and in doing something to reach the world with the Ageless Wisdom. She had a beautiful home on Lake Maggiore in Switzerland where she had built a lecture hall and accumulated a very good library. One day in the fall of 1930 she turned up late one night at our home in Stamford, Connecticut, and spent a little time with us there, talking over many things, laying her various ideas before us, finding out what was our point of view and offering herself as a collaborator with us. She suggested the idea that with our help she should start a spiritual center at Ascona near Locarno on Lake Maggiore and that it should be undenominational, non-sectarian and open to esoteric thinkers and occult students of all groups in Europe and elsewhere. She had these lovely houses, this lecture hall and these beautiful grounds which would be her contribution, and Foster and I should go there and start the project and lecture and teach. She offered us full hospitality and was willing to have the three girls accompany us if we went to Ascona, offering board and lodging to all of us, but not our travelling expenses.

We naturally could make no sudden decision but promised her we would think the matter over most carefully and would let her know soon after the New Year of 1931.

There were many problems involved. The travelling expenses of five people were no light item and we were not at all sure that we wanted to undertake such an enterprise on such conditions. I had been twenty years in America without going to Europe. I could not go to Europe without [218] visiting my own country and there were many considerations before we knew exactly what was right.

My friend, Alice Ortiz, at this time came to me with a proposition which had a bearing on the whole situation. Without knowing anything about the proposal of Olga Fröbe, she said to me one day, "Which would you prefer for your girls, that I should send them to college for several years, or would you prefer to have them travel abroad? I will defray either expense, but you must do what you think best for the girls." I talked it over most carefully with Foster and we decided that foreign travel was much more useful and broadening for the girls than any college degree. Anybody can get a college degree but few people could travel widely. I suppose I was influenced in this decision because I had traveled so much myself and also had had no degrees.

Only twice have I been sorry that I had had no college degree. Such degrees are frightfully overrated in this country and though I have no degrees I know I am as well educated as those who have. Not so many years ago I was asked to give a series of lectures at The Postgraduate College in Washington, D.C. I was to speak on the intellect and the intuition. The announcements were printed and sent out by the college, but when they discovered I had no degrees after my name, they proceeded to cancel the lectures. I later received a letter from the president of the college indicating that the faculty believed a mistake had been made but that it was too late for them to do anything. Shortly after I was asked by Cornell University to go there and meet the students and speak to them on the modern spiritual approach to truth and to talk to little groups of students. This was also cancelled because I had no college degrees.

Anyhow, my attitude was that the girls would learn to be more useful human beings if they got to know more about [219] people in other continents, not by visiting monuments and galleries but by getting to know the people themselves, so we gave up all idea of an academic college training for the girls and launched them into the college of life.

Looking back over our decision, I have never regretted that the girls did not go to college. They have learned to know human beings and to realize that the U.S.A. is not the one and only country in the world. They discovered that there were just as nice people, just as intelligent people, just as bad people, just as good people in Great Britain, Switzerland, France, etc., as there are in the United States.

The thing we have to develop in the world today is the world citizen and bring to an end this crude nationalism which has been the source of so much world hate. I know nothing more pernicious than the slogan "America for the Americans." I know nothing more insular than the habit of the British to regard all others as foreigners, or the belief of the French that the French are the leaders in all civilized movements. All that sort of thing has to go. I find the same people in the many countries in which I have lived. Some countries may be more physically comfortable than others but the humanity in that country is the same.

I suppose as I have gone through city after city in the States, Great Britain and on the Continent and have listened to what the different people say about each other and the way they disparage each other and deride each other and despise each other I have noticed it more than most people do, and it was the sense of the oneness of humanity that I wanted the girls to get. I think they have a wider point of view than the average person they meet and this they owe to the way they have traveled and which I owe also to the way I have traveled not only horizontally out into the many countries but vertically also, up and down the social ladder. It is a great education to like people and I was born liking [220] people. One of the best men I ever knew and regarded as a friend was the son of an emperor. The first and dearest friend I had thirty-five years ago when I came to the U.S. was a Negro woman and they stand with equal importance to me in my consciousness and I think of them with equal affection.

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