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.



Antonio Girardi


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

My name is Antonio Girardi. I came into contact with the Theosophical Society in 1978 when I was 26. I became a member of the Italian Section in 1980.

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

Since I joined the T.S., I have always been an active member of the Theosophical lodge in my town, Vicenza and then a member of the Executive Committee of the Italian Section. I became General Secretary in 1995.

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

I came into contact with the T.S. after reading a book on Theosophy and the Theosophical Society (La Dimensione Umana by prof. Bernardino del Boca). I immediately contacted the writer, who was a Theosophist, and since then we had a large number of meetings in which we shared mutual knowledge and friends in the spirit of Universal Brotherhood without distinction.

4.   What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy has been the only real revolution of my life because it linked some inner feelings I had since I was a child to the dimension of knowledge and insight.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I have a special fondness for The Voice of the Silence, which contains three fragments transcribed by H.P. Blavatsky. It’s an esoteric text of highly symbolic value that helps us better understand other Theosophical books, such as The Secret Doctrine.

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

I am convinced that the Theosophical Society still has a considerable task to fulfil. After influencing the evolution of human consciousness throughout the 19th and 20th centuries by introducing the concepts of: Universal Brotherhood without distinction; the Unity of Life and Service; and inspiring cultural and scientific approaches of a systemic and holistic nature, the T.S. is now called to demonstrate some “good practices” with regards to its Three Aims. The role of Adyar is fundamental to make this happen increasingly better. Indeed, Adyar not only represents the history of the T.S. but also its unity and paradoxically even its future. Adyar is the place of fraternal experimentation in an intercultural international atmosphere. It’s a bridge connecting tradition both to present action and the Theosophical dream for the future. For such reasons Theosophists from all over the world should repeatedly return to Adyar in order to support its work, acknowledging its fundamental value on the plane of unity.

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

For the above-mentioned reasons I am convinced that the Theosophical Society will have a great future. This will be possible if each one of us keeps in mind that “the future of the Theosophical Society is also in our hands”. It will depend on our work and enthusiasm as well as on our fraternal positive actions; the work of service with the Theosophical Order of Service; the interaction with the world of science (in particular regarding neurosciences); the world of culture; and on the circulation of the Theosophical literature. Finally, we should never forget that the seed of Brotherhood able to germinate the fruits of the Platonic ideals of Beauty, Good and Truth lies in the evolution of the individual consciousness.

 

 


April Hejka-Ekins & Jerry Hejka-Ekins

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

April Hejka-Ekins—I was born and raised in near Chicago, Illinois, and I have resided in California since 1981 where I earned my Ph.D. from the University of Southern California. I moved to the Central Valley & have taught graduate courses in Public Administration at California State University, Stanislaus since 1988. I became a member of the TS in 1980.

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

When I moved to California in 1981, I became an officer of the Theosophical Society in Los Angeles. Along with my husband, Jerry Hejka-Ekins and other lodge members, we worked to provide a full range of Theosophical classes, speaker and events. One of our primary objectives was to network with the other Theosophical organizations in the Los Angeles area. We became associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists and members of the Theosophical Society in Pasadena.   In 1988 I completed my Ph.D. and began teaching at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock, CA. After I received tenure, Jerry and I started an independent Theosophical group that focused on the Ancient Wisdom by studying mythology, philosophy and religion from East and West Wisdom Traditions. We used the writings of H.P. Blavatsky and other Theosophical writers as our foundation.  In 1999, we incorporated as a non-profit organization, called, “Alexandria West,” which is dedicated to the study, promulgation and perseveration of the Ancient Wisdom Tradition.  Our objectives include preserving a Theosophical Source Library of over 16,000 volumes, offering classes, workshops and other educational opportunities to explore the Ancient Wisdom, and engaging in service projects that benefit our community and sustain our environment.

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

I attended a series of lectures presented by Bing Escadero at the Theosophical Society in Wheaton, Illinois in 1979. I resonated with the three objects of the society and decided to investigate it further.  In the summer of 1980, I attended a Theosophical Conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and met Jerry, plus many other members of the Theosophical Society that I got to know over the years. Jerry introduced me to members of other Theosophical groups such as Emmett and Carmen Small from the Point Loma Society.  I was planning to move to California in a year but wanted to really get into studying Theosophy. Emmett referred me Vonda Urban, who was my first Theosophical teacher. I studied the writings of Blavatsky, the Mahatmas and G. de Purucker before moving to California. Since 1980 I have spent a significant amount of my time studying the history and wisdom traditions of the Theosophical Movement.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is based on the notion that there exists a universal set of symbolic teachings that point the way towards the mysteries of life and are expressed throughout human history in the mythologies, religions and philosophies of humanity.  Studying these wisdom traditions, practicing the development of wisdom through meditation and living altruistically for the benefit of others are the cornerstones of a spiritual life. Theosophy has been and continues to be my spiritual foundation. 

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Voice of the Silence and The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky are the heart and head teachings of the modern day Theosophical Movement. Also invaluable are the Mahatma Letters, which have helped me to gain an understanding of the Mahatmas themselves and their approach to Ancient Wisdom.

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

To be perfectly honest, I believe all the Theosophical organizations over time have faced moral leadership issues that have brought out the worst aspects of selfishness disguised as spirituality. Groups have broken away from the original society due to power struggles as to who is going to control the direction of the Movement. The result in a little over 100 years has been a decentralizing and plurality of Theosophical organizations. I believe the best approach at this point is to NETWORK with all the Theosophical groups over our common objectives and to find ways to work together to benefit humanity. This may mean working with complementary groups whether they are spiritual or environmental or both. The test is an ethical one of all of us. Can we be aware of our own egotistical tendencies, keep them in check and actually work in an altruistic capacity? If we cultivate our own spiritual garden, pursue our love of knowledge and live altruistically, the Theosophical Movement will take care of itself. 

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

I believe that all of us those committed to lead a Theosophical life need to develop insight regarding our own foibles and honestly understand ourselves, so that when we act our motivation is coming from Heart Wisdom, and not our own egos. This is a process that takes many lifetimes but now is a good time to start.

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

Jerry Hejka-Ekins (pronounced: HAY-KA-E-KINS).  I have been a member of the Theosophical Society in the American Section (Wheaton) for forty-seven years; a member of the Theosophical Society International (Pasadena) for about thirty years; and an associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists for about thirty years. 

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

I was active in all three organizations until 1990. That was the year we moved to Central California where there are no Theosophical Organizations or activates within a hundred miles of us. Accordingly, we founded our own Theosophical Organization (called, Alexandria West) and incorporated it in 1999. Our activities are much like any other Theosophical group. During the 90s we organized twice-monthly classes and study groups in comparative religions, The Secret Doctrine, mythology etc. for interested students who live in the area.  We also organized annual 3-day Networking Conferences (drawing from Theosophists of all affiliations around San Francisco, Los Angeles and Northern California) and held them on our 160 acre ranch in the Sierras. After we incorporated in 1999, we added summer field trips, and two public events per year on various subjects, in order to increase our local exposure. 

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

In 1963, a neighbour invited me to accompany her to a “Theosophical Meeting.”  The meeting turned out to be a presentation by the (then) International President, N. Sri Ram. The gathering was held in a very large public auditorium in Los Angeles. There I met and became friends with Lina Psaltis, who was Boris de Zirkoff’s assistant and student. It was Lina, who became my primary Theosophical Teacher for the next eighteen years. Through her, I came into contact with students from the various Theosophical traditions, and learned their various teachings and approaches in addition to hers. Lina passed away in 1980.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

To me, Theosophy (as HPB presented it), is the purest expression of a universal perennialism that I am aware of. Even today, IMO, nothing comes close to matching, let alone exceeding, the awesomeness of its vision, the beauty of its expression, and the promise it offers to humanity.  Yet, that same perennialism is encoded in all the world’s religions, mythologies, and within nature itself. 

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine. It is the first Theosophical book I ever read. I purchased it a couple of days after my initial discovery of Theosophy, began reading it immediately, and continue to read and re-read it to this day. For me, it is forever a fresh work that brings new and deeper insights with every re-reading. 

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

In my opinion, the biggest challenge of the TS Adyar (as well as the other TS organizations, and their off-shoots), is the karma that these Institutions have accumulated over the past 130 years and failed to properly resolve. I’m not speaking of specific historical events per se, but of the hidden causes that brought them about. For instance, the controversy over the “Judge Case” that resurfaces again and again, is merely one of many symptoms of a much deeper “sickness” that continues to plague the TS Organizations, and will continue to do so, until they abandon their efforts to preserve and assert their Institutional personae. They must instead, allow the truth of what is in the past into the light, for all to see, without defence or condemnation.  Secrets are designed to hide “truth,” and the institutionalization of “truth” has a way of creating secrets. Rather, these TS Organizations must allow themselves to become transparent to all concerned. That includes ridding themselves of the illusion and/or pretence that they are, or are the only true representative of “The Theosophical Movement” (TM).  Instead they must seek to take their intended place as instruments for the TM’s work. To put it another way, it is foolish to try to enclose the sun, or even a ray of the sun, in a box. Apropos to this, you may have noticed that over the last 30 years or so, the most significant Theosophical efforts have been made by independent students, largely, if not wholly independently of the Organizations.  This is not a mere coincidence.  

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

The Theosophical Movement has been with us since the beginning of humanity and will continue until the last sentient being awakens to its true nature. My wish is for a fruitful and joyful journey for each of us in our discovery of, and the treading of our unique paths.




Caren Elin

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

Born as Caren Mindy Robak in Patterson, New Jersey and assumed the name Caren Mindy Elin at the age of twelve when my mother remarried. Since the age of two I lived in Long Beach, Long Island, New York and moved to New York City at the age of 12. I found The United Lodge of Theosophists in New York City when I was 19, and became an Associate by signing a Pledge to “My Higher Self” in the early 70’s. I became a member of the TS-Philippines in 1986 upon meeting Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. Later in time I also joined the TS- America and the TS- Pasadena. I have been committed to the Theosophical Ideals for over 40 years. 

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

I was active in many of the Theosophical organizations as a volunteer lecturer. I also volunteered to help in whatever ways I was needed. I chose the pen name Carey Williams and became Sylvia Cranston’s co-author and researcher since I was in my early twenties. We maintained our partnership in work until her death in 2000. At this time I carry on our work alone.  I also serve on the Board of The Theosophical Book Association for the Blind, Inc., which was once a chartered Lodge of the TS.

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

I first learned of Theosophy when I walked by the window of ULT in NYC when I was 19. The window had a copy of The Secret Doctrine opened to view. I later learned that the TS was still very much alive when I parked in front of the TS in Boston, MA when I was about 22-23. I remember the day, Jan.9th, but not the exact year.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy offers me the proof that a Universal Brotherhood indeed exists, and that there is ONE TRUTH that exists in all Religions. There is indeed a symbolical language to unlock the keys to the Voice of the Silence and the Universality of Truth, as well as the means to apply it to our daily lives. 

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I have two gems of equal importance to me, HPB’s-The Voice of the Silence and Mable Collin’s-Light on the Path. Both golden gems sing to my heart and resound the eternal path.

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

To me the challenge that exists today is applicable to ALL organized Theosophical groups equally. That challenge is to LIVE and demonstrate that a Universal Brotherhood is being exemplified. We must be united amongst ourselves as an organization within a diversity of organizations now a part of the Theosophical Movement first before we can become a beacon light to others. This means that individualized aspirations must be nurtured allowing for the seeds of growth and a diversified development to occur. No one organization is more important or truer than the others. Until we all follow the lines of the Divine Laws we will fumble and weaken. A beautiful symphony can and will be created because of all the available unique instruments within this incredible movement.

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

Yes, it is my wish that an atmosphere of Mutual Respect and Non-Judgement prevail amongst all Theosophists. I wish for organizations to stop carrying on “OLD” separatist behaviours and to nurture the Unconditional Love that brought forth the 1875 impetus of The Current Theosophical Movement, so that it can endure and thrive as a beacon light for the more difficult challenges that lie ahead for the world.


Dan Smolla

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

My name is Dan Smolla and I have been a member of the TS for about four and a-half years.

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

We have a lodge here at The Theosophical Society in America in Wheaton, the national headquarters, where I work in the library. I assist with making the Wednesday lodge meetings and Thursday staff study group on the Mahatma Letters accessible through online webinars. Another way I am active locally is by doing service work through the Olcott Drama Troupe. We perform old-time radio plays for nursing homes. In addition, I am active by being part of a music band along with fellow Theosophist, Juliana Cessano: Into the Real. Juli and I quite seriously think of the music we create as Theosophical, spiritual, healing, and celebratory in nature. Writing the music for Into the Real is one of my primary spiritual practices.  I write after long periods of meditation and intuit a spiritual source to both the lyrics and music that comes through me. Juli and I would love it if anyone would take the time to check out our Into the Real Facebook page! We’ve got free music and video available there which we love to share: http://www.facebook.com/intothereal

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

I first learned about Theosophy from a book I picked up at my brother’s house in Dekalb, IL, about twenty years ago: Buddhism by Christmas Humphreys. I read the book in one sitting and was really surprised to see the place of publication was the Theosophical Publishing House in Wheaton, IL, about an hour drive away. Wheaton is town sort of known for Christian conservatism, so I decided to drive out there the next day and the fun began. While waiting in line at the toll booth on my way to my first visit to the TS, a question popped into my mind, “I wonder if there are really higher beings out there who guide us here on earth.”  In retrospect I find this interesting because I had never had an idea/question like that before, it just popped into my head on my way to the Theosophical Society (and I didn’t really know what the Theosophical Society was.) When I got to the front of the line at the toll booth, the worker in the booth was laughing and he waved me on saying the woman in the car ahead of me had paid my car toll for me. I tried in vain to catch up to her on the highway (it’s always interesting to get a glimpse of strangers who pay your way).  I did get close enough to her car just before she exited to see that her license plate said Gemini.  Astrologically Gemini is my sun sign, though at that time I wasn’t yet interested in astrology. I ended up finding the old building of the TSA, being impressed by the Harry Potter feel of it, joining the library and checking out books from the library on and off for many years, though I was unaware for the most part of the Theosophical Society itself and that there were programs and a whole line of Theosophical ideas, etc.  After being away from the TS for a while, I was quite viscerally re-drawn to it again about five years ago, and stated working there shortly after that.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Divine Wisdom.  I think Divine Wisdom manifests in many ways:  great spiritual books and teachers, spontaneous acts of compassion, insights and guidance during meditation that seem beyond the limits of our everyday mundane (lower) selves.

5.    What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?

I like At the Feet of the Master for its brief, simple method of calling people to altruism.  But I like Krishnamurti’s later works the most—it sort of seems to me like he covers similar territory in all his talks so I do not necessarily have a preference. I really like the way he gives people clues on how to catch their own mind games and traps.Similarly I like all the works of Pema Chodron the Tibetan Buddhist nun who is not (officially) a Theosophist but who is my favorite writer about manifesting unity in everyday life and growing compassion for ourselves and others regardless of how muddy and mucky the situation and emotions may be. Like Krishnamurti, but perhaps with a bit more empathy and sympathy, she reveals to people how we tend to evade certain thoughts and emotions, especially emotions. Both of these teachers are expert at taking mystical truths and applying them in a very graspable and compassionate way to every day psychology.

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

I confess I have very little idea about what is happening at TS Adyar so I have no opinion.

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

I would like to see the Theosophical Movement embrace the arts in a deeper way. It seems art is viewed by most Theosophists I have encountered as mere entertainment, as a nice way for taking a break from the real work. Gifted mystical spiritual artists help to make the archetypal energies accessible and relevant to contemporary people, so for clues on realizing timeless truths experientially, art, it seems to me, should be at the forefront of the spiritual path along with meditation (of course that’s just my personal preference.)

http://www.facebook.com/intothereal

 


Els Rijneker

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

My name is Els Rijneker. I have been a member of the Dutch section of the TS (Theosofische Vereniging) in the Netherlands, since February 1998.
I work professionally as a speech therapist in a small clinic for people with reading and writing problems, also known as dyslexia.

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

I consider myself an active student of Theosophy. I like to attend activities in lodges, the national study groups on The Mahatma Letters, The Secret Doctrine, and national and international seminars and schools at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden (which is only half an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, where I live). I have been a member of the editing board of the Dutch magazine Theosofia since 2000, and editor- in- chief since 2004. For several years I served as a general board member of the Amsterdam Lodge. I have been a member of the national board since 2002, as Vice Chairman since 2008 and as General Secretary since September 2009. I have visited the International Convention in Adyar six times, made many international friends there, and followed several Schools of the Wisdom. I had the great privilege to help Paul Zwollo twice with the yearly exhibition in the Adyar archives. It is really amazing and nearly mind- blowing to have had the opportunity to be close to our Theosophical roots in India, which are so clearly tangible in Adyar! The themes of the international exhibitions where I helped were: the International Presidents of the TS; H.S. Olcott, on the occasion of the centenary of his death; Annie Besant and One Hundred Years of the Theosophical Order of Service, A Union of Those Who Love for the Service of All Who Suffer. As our dear friend Paul passed away in the summer of 2007, Loes Moreno Benseny- Frikken and I, who were already working together the year before, had to organise the exhibition about Annie Besant all by ourselves. Loes scanned many pictures and Radha gave us permission to send these really unique materials out to all General Secretaries in the world. 

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

I had already visited the Amsterdam Lodge several times. On the occasion of a lecture course by Paul Zwollo about The Mahatma Letters I became a member, since these meetings were only accessible for members and I have never regretted it... The Mahatma Letters, which I also was able to peruse in the British Library in London, made a great impression on me. 

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

For me Theosophy is quite practical. It is a way of looking at daily life, realizing that we all have to live together and share the ‘possessions’ of this planet, from the physical, emotional and mental levels, up to the spiritual level where all is one. The word ‘possessions’ is in apostrophes, because we do not possess anything. My mother always said that you never own anything (for instance ‘your’ children): things are only there to borrow for a short time, but you have to pass them on, in good shape and order. Another thing she taught me was that you can never escape the result of any action, good or bad. Not knowing anything theoretical about Theosophy, she in fact explained the law of karma to me when I was very young.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

As I already mentioned: The Mahatma Letters, and other ‘jewels’, such as  the mystical Theosophical classics, The Voice of the Silence, Light on the Path and At the Feet of the Master. The facts of life are to be found in art, poetry, nature, myths and fairy tales. The reason why I find this so attractive is that it points to this mystical silent spot within, at the levels of love and freedom. To me it is all about answering this call from inside, this big longing to go beyond.

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

Let us please stay open and brotherly towards each other and let us not fall in the trap of separation and division. As far as I see, we are all working for this extraordinary special TS! Let us go on working together as a team, in a constructive and respectful way. It is refreshing to disagree with each other from time to time. That keeps you sharp and alert about your goals in life. It is a waste of precious energy to quarrel, to impose opinions on each other. It prevents the free flow of vital energy. Let us use our creative energy in building together.

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

There is nothing that can’t be done if we stand together as one. I think this sentence was used by Michael Jackson, and it is so true. As a matter of fact I am quite positive about the future of the TS. If we put positive principles in practice in things in our daily lives and are brave enough to let go of old patterns, things will be all right.



Joop Smits

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

I am Joop Smits and I live in The Netherlands. I have been a member of the Theosophical Society Point Loma – Blavatsky House for 23 years.

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

I am participating in various activities of the Theosophical work. For example, I keep in touch with our members whom live abroad. I give lectures in 8 cities in The Netherlands. This year and last year I gave a presentation at the International Theosophy Conference.

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

I started following lectures in Theosophy in The Hague in 1984. Subsequently I followed the course ‘Thinking differently’ in which I learned the importance of how the human thinking works. After that I followed the course ‘Life Wisdom’ dealing with the ‘Sapta Ratnani’ , the Seven Jewels of Wisdom,  the teachings on: Reincarnation, Karma, Hierarchical structure of nature, Swabhava or essential characteristic of any entity, Progressive Evolution, The two Pathways and the Knowing of Self.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy means for me that science, philosophy and religion are brought into harmony with each other, instead of the common idea that they are in contradiction with each other. Studying and comprehending Theosophy gives insight in the meaning of life and the ethics of it. And you can only really broaden and deepen your understanding by trying to live those ideas, such as the spiritual unity and the interconnectedness of all beings.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

My favourite Theosophical book is Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy by G. de Purucker. The reason is that this book gives a very fundamental explanation of the main Theosophical teachings which were discussed in a Theosophical study group in the 1920’s. In this group the so called Eastern study method was used i.e. a method in which the student first gets a broad picture of a certain Theosophical concept. The student can internalize this concept himself, according to his own insight and experience. And subsequently more details are added to the concept until the student has build up his own mental picture. My other favourite book is The Esoteric Tradition of G. De Purucker, because it throws Theosophical light on a number of major scientific issues.  

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

The biggest challenge for any Theosophical organisation, and also for the TS Adyar, is how to ignite the inner light of our fellow human beings. In order to do this I think we have to train ourselves to be able to ‘translate’ the original Theosophical teachings in practical thoughts and images of present day so that people will be able to recognise them easily as being part of their own inner wisdom. I see the dissemination of those ‘translated’ and applied - original- Theosophical ideas as the biggest challenge at the moment. 

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

My wish for the entire Theosophical Movement is that it will succeed in giving Theosophy the rightful place in the world, based on the compassionate character of this philosophy.
As Theosophists we can learn quickly from each other by exchanging our ideas and experiences and apply this in the areas in society where we are active and where Theosophical concepts can help to improve the evolution of mankind and of all beings. When we take spiritual unity as a common basis, an open and cordial cooperation between Theosophists will strengthen their ability as a spiritual leverage in any situation or place in the world.




Ruth Richards


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

Dr. Ruth Richards, Berkeley area since 3 years old minus 20 years in Boston, Professor at Saybrook University, Graduate  College of Psychology and Humanistic Studies (an alternative university and college, where I am privileged to teach in Consciousness  and Spirituality).  I am also Research Affiliate at McLean Hospital in the Boston Area and Lecturer, Dept. of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, where I continue to do research with colleagues on my main and evolving interest, over decades, creativity and health.  I have belonged to the TS for at least 12 years (minus one year I dropped out...) and am a lifetime member of TSA.

Creativity –what?  Some people see this as just a frill or hobby. Try instead a survival capacity. And...an opening to life’s greater mysteries!  This is our “originality of everyday life,” which, as a process, is about being present, richly aware of options, beyond biases, preconceptions, memories, and expectations, spontaneous, intuitive and alive!  It can become a way of life; indeed it can be part of a spiritual path.  I didn’t start out with this larger view, but happily have seen it (and me) expand.  The TS has helped.

And what is health?  I’m sure you folks in the TS will know what I mean. This harmony and balance of mind-body-spirit transcends our conventional manifest world and even the present lifetime!  I do a lot of writing and have co-edited or edited two books, Eminent Creativity, Everyday Creativity and Health (1998) and Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature (2007), and have another book in progress.

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

I was an unaffiliated member for all of ten years, but read your publications! Then I learned that Alex Pappas, with whom I’d worked in AHIMSA www.ahimsaberkeley.org, an interfaith and social change organization, was President of the Oakland Lodge.  Surprise!  I started attending, and have continued with Garrett Riegg and delightful others. 

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

Not sure at all, but this seems an important question in general, because how do others learn?  For me, perhaps by reading  a book or two by Leadbeater?  Whatever it was, there was an indescribable pull for which I am grateful.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

As per HPB, and others and in my own longstanding Buddhist and interfaith context, it’s a chance to go deeply into the ancient wisdom of the ages, in a search for truth and betterment for all beings and the planet.   We need to open minds and hearts and this is not easily achieved.  (Is this quest also about creativity?  Definitely.)

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Our lodge is studying The Secret Doctrine and this is surely amazing.  So vast and deep. But I am deeply moved as a Buddhist and practitioner by The Voice of the Silence.

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

Dissemination.  And unification of greater purpose across diverse perspectives and allegiances, related to the primary tenets of Theosophy. I believe, as Buddhists say, that the greatest form of giving is giving the Dharma.  The greatest good we can do is to spread the opportunity to pursue the wisdom teachings of Theosophy.  HH Dalai Lama’s interest is lovely and very useful in this regard.  We need to join together to make this wisdom, and group opportunities to pursue them, and to do good in the world, more available.  At Saybrook University, where I teach, graduate students have the chance to study the ancient wisdom, as in my student who just did an M.A. thesis on Alice Bailey.  Yet this is unusual.   I strongly believe we ourselves cannot be sectarian while speaking to a larger mystery and to greater truths that transcend words and concepts and, indeed, or very human organism.  In face of the ineffable, some humility and attention to all who travel the path with us.  Again...open hearts and open minds.  

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

Definitely.  More attention to PRACTICE, be this through meditation, contemplation, or in another form.  HPB conveyed The Voice of the Silence to and for us as practitioners.  I fully believe our greatest knowledge will not come from the books, and certainly not from intellectualization.  It will come from within.

www.ahimsaberkeley.org



Keith Pritsker

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

My name is Keith Pritsker.  I live in Los Angeles, California and have been an associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists since 1974. 

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

I am active in the Los Angeles Lodge of ULT and participate in meetings.

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

Theosophy came to my attention through a college professor at the University of California while I was an undergraduate student there.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

As H.P.B. says it is the epitome of common sense.  The fundamental propositions given in the beginning of The Secret Doctrine of unity, periodicity and evolution provide me with a rational basis for hope and responsibility as I approach the tasks of daily life.  Theosophy is the life coach that helps me by answering many questions and allowing me to live with optimism and love.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

My favourite book is The Bhagavad-Gita translated by William Q. Judge along with his Notes on The Bhagavad-Gita. These books constitute a treatise on human psychology.  Mr. Judge’s subtitle to this small volume is The Book of Devotion. As such it is both instructional and inspirational at the same time. Devotional books are especially useful in helping one to regain or maintain one’s grounding as a spiritual being while dealing with the many challenges that life presents to us.  

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

The biggest challenge facing the TS is staying true to the fundamental ideas and ideals of its founders while keeping these accessible to a changing world through application in our own lives and presentation through the use of current means of communication (such as internet, social media, e-books, etc.).  As Krishna tells his pupil, Arjuna, in The Bhagavad-Gita, “whatever path is chosen by mankind that path is mine.”   An excellent statement summarizing this challenge can be found within the Society’s own website in the article, “Keeping the Flame Alive” by Linda Oliveira, which can be found at:

http://www.ts-adyar.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Theosophist/Theosophist%202000/Keeping%20the%20Flame%20Alive.pdf

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

I wish that the concepts and goals of the Theosophical Movement become more widely known in the world.   As one of our texts says: “Even a little of this practice can save a man from great risk.”  If this is true for each individual how much more true might it be for the betterment of mankind.

http://www.ts-adyar.org/sites/default/files/pdf/Theosophist/Theosophist%202000/Keeping%20the%20Flame%20Alive.pdf

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