Diana Dunningham Chapotin – France
“May Theosophy grow more and more a living power in the lives of each one of our members, and may the coming year be yet more full of good work and healthy progress than the one just closing, is the wish of your humble co-worker and fellow member.” Helena Blavatsky’s her third letter to the American Convention, April 1890, Collected Writings 12:151.
How can we make Theosophy a living force in our world? This question has been addressed by a number of Theosophists on this website. Without reading the contributions of those who have already expressed themselves, one can guess what they have to say: namely, each in their own way and with varying emphases and colors, that we must study Theosophical doctrine deeply, show its relevance for people’s daily lives and for their spiritual practice, and above all demonstrate it as a living force within ourselves? Is that far off the mark?
So what can I contribute that hasn’t already been said beautifully? Actually, the longer I am a member of the Theosophical Society, the more I tend to think that we are collectively already doing the best we can. “What?!” I hear you say. “Is the writer of this article blind to our monumental defects?” Perhaps what I perceive to be acceptance is simply a certain (jaded) resignation brought on by middle age. Either way, let me assure you, I believe that Theosophists have a role to play in making Theosophy a living force in the world and I acknowledge that every group must aspire to doing . . . even better than its best! Here then are a few suggestions for what we might do in the future. Our organization needs to be four things:
1. A center where people can find clear in-depth instruction in the fundamental principles and literature of Theosophy, such as The Secret Doctrine. In cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis, we have an inspiring metaphysic that totally and radically changes the way the world and human beings are viewed. It would be helpful if our groups focused on the primary literature as a basis for their study.
2. A resource center, clearing house or forum where people can meet other like-minded groups and individuals. The TS in America is just one Section that is doing well in this respect. The brilliant community outreach of its national headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, comes to mind – its sustained interfaith work, for example.
3. A center where people can find in-depth instruction in spiritual practice, including meditation, spiritual psychology and conflict resolution. Our own in-house spiritual instruction still consists largely of nineteenth-century moral exhortation, such as lecturing each other about the need to be brotherly. Happily, highly respected leaders like the Buddhist monks Thich Nath Hanh and Ajahn Sumedho are being invited to our international headquarters to lead retreats. The meditation practice encouraged by teachers such as these is not intended for the faint-hearted—and so much the better.
4. A center where people can explore contemporary issues of concern in the light of spiritual principles and be inspired to enlightened social action. Consider the theme of a three-day participatory event handled in recent years by the TS in America: “War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.” How does the following testimony written about the event by participants strike you?
“Thanks and blessings to all. The work you do has convinced me of both the need for and the effectiveness of the approaches I witnessed. . . . I felt honored to be in the presence of these soldiers, their families, to hear their narratives, and to have my heart opened to their realities. . . . It was a privilege to be part of that group and to witness the healing that occurred. . . . The Theosophical Society facilitated this healing by kindly allowing us the sacred ground to plough, plant, and grow toward new and renewed life. . . . Throughout our time together we managed to accept the hand of the Luminous Other to raise us from our deathly fever to our new life, whether that hand was seen as the hand of Jesus, the Bodhisattva, the Elder Spirit, or simply another one of our own circle, our own lodge. Souls that had been rendered dark, emerged, showing light.”
When we read testimony like that, perhaps we can take heart and permit ourselves to believe that we really are—in modest measure—making Theosophy a living force in our world.