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.

 

Gary Kidgell

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

Gary Kidgell, Dundee, Scotland. I have been a member of the Theosophical Society since 1994.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I am currently the Organising Secretary for the Scottish Section. I have previously been president of the Dundee Lodge for a period totalling eight years. I have recently presented a DVD entitled ‘The Inner Journey’ which has been distributed to national TS presidents throughout the world.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I came into contact with the Theosophical Society through a suggestion by a local member to form a Lodge in Dundee. At the time I was running a metaphysics group focussing primarily upon the works of Dr Douglas Baker, Alice Bailey, Madame Blavatsky and other authors whose work is rooted in the wisdom teachings.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

I consider it my life’s work to study and teach Theosophy. I consider the first object of our society to be as noble an objective as that of any organisation on the planet as it is based upon the realisation that we all emanate from the same divine source and that we shall all ultimately return there having fulfilled the objectives of our long evolutionary sojourn.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

It is tempting to offer an answer of the ‘too numerous to mention’ writings as I have derived so much inspiration and insight from any of the works based on the classical teachings which I have read. However, I shall state here Madame Blavatsky’s, The Voice of the Silence and Mabel Collin’s, Light on the Path as their contents are so profoundly inspiring and each offer something new to ponder upon each time that I revisit any of their contents.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

In my opinion I consider the biggest challenge for the TS is to enhance both the vitality and the visibility of our organisation worldwide.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

Other than the achievement of universal brotherhood, I believe that there is a pressing need for the wisdom teachings to be promulgated amongst all who are willing and able to receive them as potentially they can transform our world if they are applied to areas of life such as religion, science, politics, economics etc.

 

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Wies Kuiper

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Wies Kuiper, I am from the Netherlands and I have been a member of the TS from 28th March 1985

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

In the Theosophical Study centre in my city I am the person leading and organising, and for the national section I am the chairman (woman) of the foundation that has as its duty the maintenance of the Headquarters building and the securing of accommodation for the Society.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

My first contact with the Society was when I visited the Liberal Catholic Church in my city and that felt like coming home. In the same building were the meetings of the Theosophical Society, with its three objects and several members of the church were members of the TS. It was more or less a normal step to go also to the meetings of the TS.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy changed my life totally. Before that time I was not able to get or find or understand answers on the most crucial questions: Who am I? What is my duty here on earth and where am I going after death? I found answers in Theosophical books and lectures and it made me a seeker, always trying to look further and deeper.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

It will not be a surprise that my favourite book is The Secret Doctrine, because is gives so much to ponder over, is not fundamentalist and it gives so much insight on several levels that it needs a life time to study it.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

Perhaps the biggest challenge as an organisation is to understand the changing world.  When the Founders started in Adyar, India, it was clean, the river was pure and Madras (now Chennai) was far away. Through the years Adyar has grown into a big estate in the middle of an overcrowded city, with a lot of traffic noise and a bad smell all around. And the municipality looks at it with big eyes because it always needs more room for its growing number of inhabitants.

Also to cope with the fact that India is no longer a typical third world country, and in the long run that will cause great difficulties. Just think of the salaries for all the workers that are needed to run such a large estate. Perhaps the biggest challenge will be to search for a place somewhere else in India, where nature is beautiful and clean, but not as large as Adyar, with a library, a publishing house, archives and headquarters activities.  

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

For every organisation it is important to have a strong and honest leadership. The rules and regulations should be clear and the financial basis good. That is the body of the Society. But the future of the Theosophical Society does not need only a body but also a soul and spirit. In Theosophical words, the whole of the sevenfold body should be present. That means a vertical and a horizontal leadership. It is not necessary that the leadership of all Theosophical bodies has to be concentrated in one person. The horizontal leadership has to be democratic and also up to date.
It is my deepest wish that in the leadership of the higher bodies of the vertical structure will have a correspondence with the spiritual, such that we all can recognise it and mirror it in ourselves.

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Betty Bland

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Betty Bland; I have been a member for over 41 years and have recently completed a nine year term as national president of the Theosophical Society in America.  For retirement my husband David and I relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, where we are settling in, working on house and yard.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

To say that I am active in my Section is an understatement.  My many areas of participation and service catapulted me into the role of president which definitely kept me busy.  Earlier in my life I started a number of study centers and was active in federations and other related TS groups.  I continue to serve on the boards of the Theosophical Order of Service and the Theosophical Book Gift Institute.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I discovered Theosophy in my late twenties after having a near-death experience, which propelled me into an urgent search to understand my experiences and to put them into the context of a coherent worldview.  The first book I read, Gina Cerminara’s Many Mansions, brought me into contact with the basic ideas of the Ancient Wisdom for the first time and it began a love affair with what I very rapidly discovered to be available within the Theosophical Society through its many published works. 

Being located at the time in a small town in North Carolina, my only access to Theosophy was through books and correspondence.  The discovery that TS books were as near as my mailbox (via the Olcott Library), led me into explorations of many Theosophical ideas and authors. The crowning joy of my search was to develop a correspondence with Virginia Hanson, then the head of the TSA Department of Education.  She had a wonderful way of not really answering questions but referencing the books that would allow me to discover my own pathways in trying to solve some of life’s riddles.  I was hooked!

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy informs my philosophy of life, my worldview.  I cannot imagine my life without this deeper understanding of its purposes.  Theosophy also provided me with a way to understand and appreciate the Christianity of my roots while at the same time freeing me of its limiting baggage.  Once my rector asked me when I was going to give up my infatuation with Theosophy and dedicate more of my time to the church. I replied, “Never.  It is only through my understanding of Theosophy that I can approach Christianity.  Theosophy is the foundation for my approach to the spiritual life.”  I think that sums it up pretty well.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

My favourite book has been a moving target as I have evolved in my studies.  At first I would say my favourites were some of the Annie Besant books such as A Study in Consciousness and The Ancient Wisdom, as well as C. W. Leadbeater’s Man Visible and Invisible, because they helped me understand some of my experiences and put them into the context of daily living.  Also Leadbeater’s Masters and the Path was tremendously inspiring to me. Throughout my earlier years Krishnamurti’s At the Feet of the Master served as my guidebook for self-discipline and ethical determinations.  Now I find The Mahatma Letters and Blavatsky’s Collected Writings to be an endless source of inspiration and challenge, but I recognize that I am still dabbling at the edges.  My favorite recommendation for an introductory book is Ed Abdill’s The Secret Gateway.  My very long answer to a simple question should indicate my love of books, especially those that enrich life-understanding.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

The biggest challenge for TS Adyar is to bring our teachings to the world in such a way that we impact 21st century thought and culture.  In order to do that we have to be in tune with world events and the latest technology, which is moving faster than most of us can imagine.  Engaging the younger generation who have grown up with the newer technologies plus being a leader in the arena of interfaith understanding are two of the most critical factors in achieving this goal.   

In addition to engagement with the outer world we must develop individually and corporately a shining example of living as loving, inspired, and sensitive human beings.  Whether actually psychic or not, all humans are drawn to this kind of energy.  So I feel strongly that we need greater focus on encouraging individual spiritual practice and providing a meeting ground for mutual support for our members to grow in this practice. 

We also need to be honest with ourselves in the need to heal from the international polarizations that have occurred over the last several years.  We speak of brotherhood and truth as two of our main tenets but we have not been open enough to one another in actual practice. Although we have the gift of being a worldwide organization, we also face the difficulty of being scattered geographically and culturally.  Yet, when I have travelled around the globe, I have been struck by how we all as Theosophists have the same problems, interests, and aspirations.  So, we should be able to resolve concerns about elections nationally and internationally by setting up scrupulously transparent and stringently monitored election procedures.  Misunderstandings need to be a thing of the past.

Beyond our boundaries, I am now seeing opportunities for the separate Theosophical entities to be drawn together for mutual purposes.  To this end, TSA will be hosting the International Theosophy Conference in August 2012. As each organization has developed its own character and leadership, one should not dominate another but we can all be in closer contact with mutual appreciation and respect.  As I told one member of a different group, we don’t have to get married, but we can recognize each other as close cousins of the same family. 

In summary, our greatest challenge and specific mission is to bring Theosophical ideas to bear on the world arena.  Theosophy can be and should be a bridge builder, creating a foundation for all faiths and those of no faith to unfold to their greatest potential in bringing humanity into a peaceful and loving relationship with itself and all of creation.  This requires a deep commitment of every member to work toward the lofty ideals passed down to us by the founders, who must have seen the coming collisions between cultures and religions of the world.  Our world is shrinking rapidly and it is up to us and like-minded people to influence some kind of reconciliation, peaceful reconstruction and sustainable living. What a daunting challenge and glorious possibility lays before us!

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I have a vision of wholeness and relevancy for the Theosophical movement, incorporating all of the groups who trace their roots back to the founding of the Theosophical Society.  With cross-pollination and appreciation of each other, our movement will be vital and applicable to the needs of today.  As evidenced by the TSA’s July event featuring the Dalai Lama and involving the interaction of multiple faith communities, the Theosophical Society can enter the worldwide stage of encouraging and building a foundation for interreligious friendship, thus working toward world peace as envisioned by our founders.

 

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Clarissa Elósegui Navarro

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Clarisa Elósegui Navarro and I live in Terrassa, in the province of Barcelona, Spain. I have been a member of the Theosophical Society since January 1998.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I am an active member in my Lodge in Terrassa and, in this Lodge, I give courses every Thursday from 5 to 9 pm and from 9 to 10:15 pm, and every Saturday from 5 to 9 pm. Also on the second and fourth Wednesdays, of every month, I give a course in another city, Sant cugat del Valles, from 5 to 7 pm and every third Sunday  we have a meeting  in the city of Lleida, from 11 am to 1 pm and from 5 to 8 pm. Since October 2007, I have been serving the TS as the General Secretary of the Spanish Section, so, apart from the activities mentioned before, I also visit the Lodges of our Section which ask me to go and I fulfill the multiple tasks related to the post.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

In 1981 I met an old Theosophist and since then I have tried to know myself better and to bring about, in myself, the transformation Theosophy speaks about. I did not find the Theosophical Society until October 1995 and, as I mentioned in the first paragraph, I did not become a member until January 1998, supported by Saturnino Torra, a distinguished member of the Spanish TS.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy has been for me a great blessing which has led me gradually from suffering to peace.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Although there are many more, Light on the Path is, for me, a real Light.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

The biggest challenge that I see is not outside, as it seems to be for many people. I think that the challenge is always to apply Theosophy in a practical way in our lives, constantly and firmly, so that every day is different and better than the previous one, without justifications of any kind. These keep up in us the same miseries both mental, emotional and also in our same actions and words, which maintain the constant suffering in the world. The Theosophical Society is nothing without its members and it is nothing if its members do not become true Theosophists, in every aspect of life, family, work, society, Theosophy, religion, etc.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I am afraid that what I wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement would not fit within the current circumstances, as I see the situation on a global scale. I think that as members of the TS, WE MUST, if we want to keep the inner commitment that we have with our own Self and with the occult aspects of the TS and the Hierarchy, transform in ourselves all those separative aspects that are still an energy, and step away from our actions and the source that cause suffering and conflict, both inside the TS, and in our relationships outside of it. (I deliberately use the modal “must", as we cannot postpone what we need to do now) No competitive aspects must remain in us, and we always have to act in a spirit of cooperation and faithfulness to the "cause of Theosophy", which is the improvement of the condition of humanity and, as a result, the decrease of the suffering in the world. Everything we have to do is clearly expressed in the Theosophical literature we have in the world and there must not be any justifications of any kind to postpone what has to be done.

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Tim Boyd

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

Tim Boyd. I joined the TSA in 1974.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

Since May I serve as President of the American Section (USA).

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

My first exposure to Theosophy was as a late teenager. It came through an active, but unorthodox, TS member. In meeting him it was clear that whatever it was that gave such vibrancy and power to his life and words, I wanted. I became convinced that Theosophy, as a living and applied wisdom, was that something.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

While it certainly is a body of teachings that can be written and spoken about, for me Theosophy is an experience – an encounter with truth.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

One of the early books I read was by Annie Besant, In the Outer Court. I like it so much for a couple of reasons: it is short and can fit in your pocket; it is also a profound description of progressive unfoldment from someone who has clearly lived what she describes. It is a good book for new and old students alike.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

Fragmentation and irrelevance.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

An infusion of youthful energy; whether in the form of new members of a young age, or older members who embody a flexibility of mind and heart. The ideal would be young and old working together.

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James Colbert

1.       What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is James Colbert. I never have been a member of the TS but have been a member of ULT since I was 5 years of age (72 years ago).  The early period of Theosophy School and Theosophical Pathfinders enriched so much of my life. Through some of the great Theosophists of the 50’s and 60’s I learned of Erich Fromm, Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow and so many more leading to a career in psychology.  It also brought forth my wife Sally. She was 5 and I was 7 when we first courted.

2.       Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

In San Diego, California we have a small but dedicated group of students who probably have been together for lifetimes. I am President of San Diego Theosophists, Inc. and Treasurer for International Theosophy Conferences, Inc. The latter organization held their annual conference this August in our beautiful mountain town of Julian, California. To be one part of this is truly inspirational.

3.       How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

When I was 5 I had a friend who lived upstairs in our four family flat. He was six. We were inseparable. He told me that on Sundays he went to Theosophy School. I asked if I could go too.  Later my mom wanted in on this experience. It was in Los Angeles, California and from there the journey began.

4.       What does Theosophy mean to you?

It is a path of understanding that opens and reopens the majesty of each moment. It provides the substratum for living a life yet has a cosmic view sometimes making you feel caught between significance and insignificance. Underneath you are grateful a direction has been revealed.

5.       What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

A number of years ago I would have had trouble picking between The Voice of the Silence and The Key To Theosophy. Of late it is The Secret Doctrine. So many things are found now that I could not see before.  Just the other day I read of “the infinity of universes.” This concept now seems to be the darling of today’s physics.  Why did I not see this before? 

6.       What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

Probably in finding its heart. It is my view almost any form of an organization will work when the heart leads the way. Of course, this is the most difficult. TS Adyar needs love too. The First Object is forming a nucleus of universal brotherhood. Somehow, to me, this term seems not quite right for the age. Forming a nucleus of universal compassion seems to taste a little better. Whatever the term, somehow this is the challenge for TS Adyar. It is the challenge, as well, for each and all. 


7.       Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

The Theosophical Movement will take care of itself. Theosophical students, however, have a lot of work to do. Theosophy is so much needed in our world. It seems time that these teachings regain the world stage. To do so we need to diminish division between Theosophists so that strength can come forth. If one looks around not only historically, but at the present time, there are some incredible human beings who are Theosophists belonging to different Theosophical traditions.   Think of the magnetism if we were working together.

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Vicente Hao Chin Jr.

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

I’m Vicente Hao Chin Jr. of the Philippines. I’ve been a member since 1970 or 1971.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I served as President of the Philippine section for many years, and stepped down last year. I still serve in the national board. I also serve as the President of Golden Link College Foundation, a Theosophical school established in 2002 that offers classes from preschool to tertiary levels. I sit also in three other foundations established by the TS in the Philippines. In the Theosophical Digest, I serve as the Editor-in-Chief.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I studied yoga and a companion of mine told me about the TS library. After I visited the TS, I immediately felt an affinity with it. I started volunteering for small things in the headquarters until I was asked to handle the national magazine. After that I became involved in the administrative work of the TS in the Philippines.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

First it opens up a rationally consistent vista of the cosmos and human life. It has very credible explanations of many riddles of life. Then its organizational structure is consistent with its philosophy of true inner freedom. Its non-dogmatic nature is the main reason why I could stay in it, for I am unable to survive in an organization that imposes dogma. And it espouses a way of life that is consistent with the time-tested experiences of mystics, sages and spiritual teachers. It rings a bell of truth and rightness, despite the imperfections of its advocates. The Mahatma Letters presented a view of the unseen world that made sense and they called a spade a spade, even if it showed unflattering sides of themselves, unlike many exaggerated though well-meaning claims of many spiritual teachers, especially those who are beholden to some religious dogma. In short, theosophy offers the most integrated understanding of the human life and the cosmos, and espouses a noble and transcendent way of life.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The works of Krishnamurti have changed my life permanently. The writings of H. P. Blavatsky have a force and internal authority that I have learned to deeply respect, even if many of them cannot be substantiated by science for now. The Mahatma Letters and the Letters of the Masters of the Wisdom have been truly valuable sources of Theosophical wisdom and insight. The Light on the Path is one of the most treasured mystical works I have read.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

We are too passive when it comes to the outer work of the TS. We are not active enough in bridging the gap between Theosophy and the realities of the outer world. There is no one else who will supply such a bridge except Theosophists. Hence we must now go out and demonstrate applied Theosophy in the problems of individuals, society and the world. To do so, we must internally strengthen the nurturing of true Theosophists. Second, we must take risks in institutionalizing theosophical practices so that they are continually being demonstrated to every generation.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

The Theosophical Society and the seeds of Theosophy that it sows have the elements needed for the future religions of the world. Today, religion continues to be a major source of division, strife, unbrotherliness, irrationality, and even evil. The principles of Theosophy then must become part of the mainstream of human thought and culture. Such mainstreaming must arise from ongoing established practice that must be popularized by the TS. After a hundred years since the founding of the TS, we should be more outward looking and do active transformative work in the outside world. We must build institutions, schools, practices, and similar things that will make the wisdom principles a strong, living part of our society.

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Sudarsan Ramu

1.   What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

Everyone calls me Ramu, my first name or given name (Full name: Sudarsan Ramu). I am from Chennai. India. I have been a member of the Theosophical Society for 10 years and am now a life-member.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

Yes, quite active. In fact, more active (especially qualitatively) than during my 40 earlier years of corporate life. My responsibilities are: 

- Executive Committee member of the Adyar Lodge – Coordinate in organizing fortnightly meetings.
- Vice-President of the Madras Theosophical Federation - Obtain inputs and prepare the monthly Federation Bulletin and release it for printing and coordinating the administrative arrangements of the monthly inter-lodges meetings.
- Olcott Education Society (OES) - Member of the Board. Participate in Board meetings and assist in the recruitment of teachers and non-teaching staff of the School.
- General Manager of Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar - Implement decisions of the TPH Council in all activities of publishing and distributing books and related matters such as copyrights and drawing up agreements with authors; manage revenue and expenditure of TPH, including its Bookshop and the editorial office.
- Occasionally speaking in meetings and writing for the TS journals.
- Patron Member of TOS.     

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

Through the books of the TPH and the Adyar Library; and also seminars / lectures in the International Headquarters.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Wisdom (the comprehension of what is true coupled with good judgment as to right action.).

5.    What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?

At the Feet of the Master and Theosophic Life. These are simple yet profound and comprehensive guides for living Theosophy. (There are many other books too that have been sources of inspiration and better understanding of life.)

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

The lack of a shared vision for the growth and development of the organization and the resultant stagnation.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

May it move with the times and reach out deep, far and wide, strengthened and driven by the full potential of its teachings. And for their dissemination, to imbibe the greatest spirit of brotherhood in the largest possible proportion of the population of humanity and become well-known for its service to all living beings! (All great ideas have to take expression in ‘work’ for real benefits to all living beings!)


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