1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
My name is Jenny van der Tak, live in The Hague – the Netherlands, and I am a member of The Theosophical Society Point Loma – Blavatskyhouse since September 2004.
2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
I became a member of the TS because I wanted to support the organization that makes Theosophical ideas accessible for everybody who is interested in them. I was grateful when I discovered that the TS exists and I just wished that everyone could have the same fortunate circumstances as I had, being able to attend lectures close by, and to learn about Life and the knowledge that has been passed on to humanity throughout the ages.
In the organization, I am always willing to do whatever is needed. It’s a great privilege to work together with such an inspiring, motivated group of people, who all have the same goal. Over the years, I have become increasingly active. I realize with gratitude that if one does something with attention and dedication or devotion, one learns so quickly that soon more time and energy can be found to give even more.
Before I became a member, I went to the weekly lectures in The Hague for four years and the last two years I followed the courses Thinking Differently and Life Wisdom. My first contribution when I became a member was assisting with the audio-recordings of the lectures. I was asked to take on this task because the person who had always done this had unexpectedly passed away and so ‘they’, now I would say ‘we’, were looking for someone to take care of this job. I did this for many years with pleasure and have been witnessing the huge progress of the recordings from audiocassettes, to better equipment and finally to livestream-video. All under the inspirational supervision of Ben den Hartogh.
Two years ago I finished the recording work and started to do the coordination for the weekly Dutch, and for the monthly English lectures that are given in The Hague. They can be watched on this website: http://www.blavatskyhouse.org/videos . This switch was needed to make it possible, so that the previous coordinator could spend more time for other important tasks in the organization that needed his typical skills. My d recording-task was taken over by Bouke van den Noort. That’s how there is a constant and natural flow in our organization. Nobody is attached to any job, and all are always willing to do whatever is needed, thus contributing to the whole.
I must be honest though and admit that I enjoy doing my ‘old job’ twice a year with the microphones, during the yearly Symposium in The Hague and during the annual ITC Conferences. That’s probably why some of Theosophy Forward’s readers will recognize me being ‘that girl running around with the microphones’ during the ITC gatherings.
Next to these jobs, after being a member for about one year, I was asked by the board of the The Hague Lodge to help its secretary, because it is quite a large lodge with lots of activities, I was happy to help here as well, assisting the board and the Lodge in The Hague in general. After a training of four years I became the Lodge’s secretary.
I also hand out and place monthly flyers and posters in shops, restaurants, all around the city of The Hague to make our lectures known to the public at large; I study with the lodge; I study as well with a small group for the preparations of White Lotus Day; I attend the working party that comes together every Saturday morning to prepare the yearly Symposium in The Hague and sometimes I assist the conductor of the courses Thinking Differently and Life Wisdom. For example: this year I assist Herman C. Vermeulen.
I have been familiar with the activities of International Theosophy Conferences (ITC) since 2010. I try to attend the conference each year. Until now I only missed the Wheaton Conference in 2012 due to my financial situation at the time. I really like to support the ITC initiative, which I think is of the utmost importance. We work together for the same goal: to make Theosophy a living power in the world.
I decorated my life in such a way that I would earn just enough money for a simple life, by working three days a week only. Because of this I can give a lot of my free time and energy to Theosophical work. Even my job as family-coach I see as “Theosophy in practice.” I visit families who have many and complicated problems, trying to assist them to solve their issues in a durable way, in order for them to get hold of their lives again.
3. How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
In 2000 – when I was studying to become a social worker - I went to a Theosophical lecture for the first time. I was in shock by the parallels of my thinking and Theosophy, of which I had never heard before. I experienced the connection so profoundly. Theosophy was able to give words to that what I already knew and I felt inside of me, but which I couldn’t express in such a clear, simple, logical, deep, true and pure manner. I experienced a profound recognition.
During that first period there were many new and odd ideas which I had not considered yet in this incarnation. I was not raised in a religious or philosophical family. Needed time to process those new ideas and I took that time. Eventually I came to see that all the little parts perfectly fitted together and formed a bright and universal whole. That picture is still expanding, and I know now that it will constantly expand, fully in accordance with the Theosophical teachings. So, by attending the weekly lectures I had the opportunity to get to know Theosophy and the organization. I thought about it during the rest of the week and was figuring out in my daily life whether these ideas would make sense to me. I discovered that I already acted intuitively according to the teachings, but now I was also able to understand why. As a student first, and later as a social worker I had the opportunity to meet many people from different backgrounds and witness a lot of life-processes, all in line with Theosophical teachings, which gave me a comprehensive guideline in determining what the best way to help is.
Theosophy was for me almost too good and assessable to be true. In fact, before I was first introduced to Theosophy, I wasn’t at all expecting to find an organization or a group with such a similar way of thinking. That period was quite intensive; I had just left my parental home and I was rapidly gaining more knowledge and experience in the world, and as a student for social-worker I was being confronted with much suffering as well. But when I saw people suffering, I always managed to see their higher potentials and that was always the starting point and my basis of my communication with them. I started to become aware that the world is urgently in need of a mutual view, practicing cooperation, aiming at an ethical direction that is beneficial for all life. But I saw almost no examples of it in my own, day to day life. There I was confronted with a lot of miscommunication, confusion; people working against each other and loss of energy.
I tried hard to resist sad conclusions, caused by these experiences. I thought that working in a group for betterment was doomed to be an illusion because everybody was defending his or her own opinions and this divisive conduct would certainly lead to stagnation. I thought that maybe it was better to focus on oneself, doing things the best one can, rather than losing energy in trying to work together. I was telling myself that I should become more realistic, because I wanted to live in the real world and contribute there, and didn’t want to live in my own idealistic, illusionary mind-bubble, which wouldn’t be helpful for anyone. But at the same time, I felt that there had to be a way, so I couldn’t let go of my ideals. Intuitively I knew that oneness, a common goal, which is inclusive and good for everyone without exception, and cooperation, are the only ways. I just didn’t distinguish the difference, between a personal and an impersonal way of thinking, and that is the key to solve obstacles instantly. It was a puzzling and disappointing period. So, that’s where I was at, when I started to tread the Path.
Just as with all intensive periods, there were also very beautiful experiences and special occasions. Shortly before I discovered the lectures, I read, although a bit veiled, but for me it was very clear, about chelaship and working together with the Lodge of Wisdom and Compassion in a Buddhist book. I immediately sensed an incredible connection. Remember vividly that when, I ultimately “met” workers for the Lodge of Wisdom and Compassion, by reading the book, it felt as if I had found “my family.” I had the urge to connect with them.
However, I didn’t take any action, because I found myself too pretentious and for sure far away from good enough to knock on any door, asking to be guided to attain more wisdom, and to offer my service. I found it an incredibly silly idea, because I was certain the others had better and more important things to do. But still the yearning persisted. That was the time when those lectures came my way! Many years later, in retrospect, I realized that even though I didn’t dare to knock on any door, inwardly I did knock on it and it opened; I had found my way to the TS.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?
Compassion, working for humanity and contributing to a harmonious growth of all life.
5. What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?
The Voice of the Silence. Because it’s about Compassion, as the structure of Life itself and about responsibility. It’s a guideline and helps to always be genuine, focused and alert. I also love The EsotericTeachings by G. de Purucker, especially the first two parts. I picked them from the shelves to read, when I first visited the Theosophical library. They are directly from heart to heart and teach all the essentials one needs to know.
6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?
To make it possible that all human beings everywhere in the world can come into contact with Theosophy.
To make the values, knowledge and insights of Theosophy known to the world in such a manner, that people can recognize and acknowledge their truths and values.
We need to realize that we – all Theosophists – are working towards that objective. Our organizations may differ, but that is quite irrelevant. All bodies differ from each other, but still we can work together! We can do so in our own organizations where we accept and respect our fellow co-workers with all their talents and their weaknesses. We are challenged to focus on our common goal and the work that is given to us which needs to be accomplished.
We don’t need to function as one body or one organization, but we are lined up together because we work towards the same direction. That’s a beautiful and powerful thought.
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
I wish that it will always be able to inspire the world and that there will always be people through whom the Lodge of Wisdom and Compassion can manifest itself. I hope that we as Theosophists will give the best we can give to our lodges and organizations contributing to the work of the Masters, so that they can work through us. I like the metaphor of the bundle of sticks, forming a solid unity. On a higher level, we already are united and work together. I wish we would realize that more, so we can focus all our energy on our important job: to help the world to develop and evolve in a more harmonious way.
It’s incredibly inspiring, knowing that all of you, all over the world, are giving your contribution. Small or large, all of us do it with the best intentions. We form a network of Theosophists all around the world, and it’s my hope that we will remain to be accessible for all those searchers for Truth, who are still unknown to us, helping them to find their way to the Ancient Wisdom.
Thank you my friends.
From the editor:
Opinions and ideas expressed in the mini-interviews are exclusively of those who are being interviewed. They don’t necessarily represent the ideas and opinions of the compilers of Theosophy Forward. The responses of the interviewees are not edited for content. Some contributors give short answers to the questions while others touch upon the subject more elaborately.