The Society

Editorial

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

About New Initiatives, Changes, Replacements and Further Growth


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New initiatives are always welcome because new challenges offer the possibility to go deep, investigate and renovate. Not everything that takes off as “something new” will ultimately end up being successful, sometimes it is quite the opposite, but we should always try and go for renewal and innovation. Last May when the new roof of the Adyar Theater collapsed it was such a setback, not only for the team headed by International President Tim Boyd, but also for all members. At the same time, this unfortunate incident also offered new possibilities to work harder and do better, for which (and this is obvious) plain courage is required. 

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Why Change?

There is often resistance when new ideas or plans appear; why change? For some it is difficult (if not impossible) to step out of their comfort-zone, and they prefer to cling on to the old and worn out, limiting themselves to superficial and cosmetic measures. According to Torben Rick, a senior European executive, it is interesting to investigate why resistance to change does exist, and how that resistance actually functions. Below is a list of the twelve objections which will give a better insight on what one might encounter when change is knocking on the door.

Top twelve typical reasons for resistance to change:

1. Misunderstanding about the need for change when the reason for the change is unclear — If staff do not understand the need for change you can expect resistance. Especially from those who strongly believe the current way of doing things works well…and has done for twenty years!

2. Fear of the unknown — One of the most common reasons for resistance is fear of the unknown. People will only take active steps toward the unknown if they genuinely believe, and perhaps more importantly, feel that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction.

3. Lack of competence — This is a fear that people will seldom admit to, but sometimes change in organizations necessitates changes in skills. Some people will feel that they won’t be able to make the transition very well.

4. Connected to the old way — If you ask people in an organization to do things in a new way, as rational as that new way may seem to you, you will be setting yourself up against all the "hard-wiring": the emotional connections to those who taught your audience the old way – and that’s not trivial.

5. Low trust — When people don’t believe that they, or the company, can competently manage the change there is likely to be resistance.

6. Temporary fad — When people belief that the change initiative is a temporary and fleeting.

7. Not being consulted — If people are allowed to be part of the change there is less resistance. People like to know what’s going on, especially if their jobs will be affected. Informed employees tend to have higher levels of job satisfaction than uninformed employees.

8. Poor communication — It’s self evident isn’t it? When it comes to change management there’s no such thing as too much communication.

9. Changes to routines — When we talk about comfort zones we’re really referring to routines. We love them. They make us secure. So there’s bound to be resistance whenever change requires us to do things differently.

10. Exhaustion/Saturation — Don’t mistake compliance for acceptance. People who are overwhelmed by continuous change resign themselves to it and go along with the flow. You have them in body, but you do not have their hearts and morale can be low.

11. Change in the status quo — Resistance can also stem from perceptions of the change that people hold. For example, people who feel they’ll be worse off at the end of the change are unlikely to give it their full support. Similarly, if people believe the change favours another group/department/person there may be (unspoken) anger and resentment.

12. Benefits and rewards — When the benefits and rewards for making the change are not seen as adequate for the trouble involved.

The fact that the Theosophical Society is a “spiritual” organization, supposedly not to be compared with an ordinary business enterprise, is only valid up to a certain point. I would argue that also within bodies like the TS, changes must find their way, since everything that exists is subject to constant change. Resistance to change therefore is unnatural, not workable and counterproductive; it is an old axiom. Technically speaking, Adyar (the compound), is an estate. Running an estate, making it function, maintaining its properties and having the grounds accessible to its members in an appropriate manner (ethically and structurally fully in line with Theosophical thought) is like running a business. It ought to be solely executed by people who know what they are doing, in other words by professionals, who, without a doubt must have a profound link with Theosophy. Adyar in its function of  International Headquarters is also often referred to as "the Home of the Masters." Although I personally find that the Masters are "at home" at any place where good and genuine energy manifests itself, shouldn’t that specific reference be a reason to see to it that we prepare and reconstruct it, so that it’ll be structurely sound and functional for at least the next 200 years to come?

If resistance to change persists, any body, any vehicle, and any organization will die a slow but certain death. The TS-Adyar as a vehicle, with its International Headquarters, after decades of stagnation, needs to undergo a thorough transformation; step by step and well-coordinated, while aiming toward the future. When it comes to the international rules and regulations, the infrastructure, functioning and overall set-up of the International Headquarters, preservation of the invaluable Adyar Archives, and the Adyar Library we cannot hesitate to make regular evaluations and adjustments. The main task of the TS, regarding this, is to bring the organization up to twenty-first century standards. This means, in short, not only evaluating and making changes to buildings and other properties on the Adyar compound as proposed in the Elephants Project, but also comprehensive thought must be given to the essential work of the TS. The membership needs to be far more actively involved. The first object of The Society is to form a NUCLEUS OF UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD. Without active involvement in this cause by membership, the TS is doomed to end up at H.P.B.’s famous sandbank or, even worse, it’ll end up in the hands of a just a few “career” theosophists.

A refreshing and significant initiative follows here:

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International President Tim Boyd wrote this to General Secretaries and responsible officers:

2nd International Gathering of Young Theosophists

February 25 – March 1, 2017 in Brazil

Following last year's inspired and energetic International Gathering the Youth Group in Brazil is arranging a second gathering in Brazil from 25 February to 1 March 2017 (arrival on 24th). The theme chosen for 2017 is DIVERSITY: A PATH TO UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD.

Because many young people cannot afford the costs of travel, we are encouraging our national Sections and units to financially support at least one young Theosophist (under 35) from their country to attend this event.

These gatherings of young Theosophists create bonds of friendship and understanding that will help the growth of the Theosophical Society today and in the future.

Again this year I have been invited as a special guest, and again it is my hope to see our young Theosophists together in Brasilia from all parts of the world. If you are able, I request your help to bring together new generations in our shared work.

Tim Boyd

A write-up from the Youth Group in Brazil:

“E pluribus unum” – Unity through plurality

For the International Gathering of Young Theosophists in 2016, we used the theme “The Search for Truth and Theosophy Today” to discuss the theosophical movement as an open space that encompasses a truth which is alive, dynamic, and aligned with our present age. We emphasized a searching process which develops through dialogue and exchange, and is based on the fundamental premise of universal brotherhood in the creation of this diverse theosophical environment.

When we propose the theme for 2017 “Diversity: a path to universal brotherhood”, we aim to embrace diversity as a potential to live in a more fraternal world. We can ask: “What is the role of diversity in the Theosophical Society and in society as a whole nowadays? Are we tapping this potential, or allowing it to die out due to ignorance?”

There are many possible perspectives, many needs of humanity, and an enormous work which needs to be done. May each one contribute to the great work of art, allowing it to be inclusive, so we can feel within our hearts what is obvious to the intellect: all colors together create the purity of a sunbeam.

In suggesting the theme, we are also inviting everyone, those belonging to any religion or none, theosophists and sympathizers, members of any theosophical group, in order to build the foundations of a world which is more just and fraternal, using the open space of a loving and compassionate dialogue.

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Magnificent meditation temple on the Theosophical Institute of Brasilia

The venue and prices:

The venue will be the beautiful, natural setting of the Theosophical Institute of Brasilia. Pictures of the venue are here: website.

The following preliminary rates include all meals:

• In Brazilian Real:

R $120/day (single accommodation); R $80/day (shared accommodation) 
R $50/day for camping facilities 
Registration fee: R $30 
Transportation fee R $40

• In US Dollar:

USD $37/day (single accommodation) 
USD $25/day (shared accommodation)
USD $15/day for camping facilities 
Registration fee: USD $10 
Transportation fee USD 12
--------------------------

 

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 Second from the left: Jan Nicolaas Kind, smiling behind a table in Santa Barbara during ITC 2016, with Herman C. Vermeulen (l) Jacques Mahnich (with beard) and on the far right Gerry Kiffe

Jim Colbert steps down, Jonathan Colbert fills in

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Jim Colbert, a giant

After the ITC conference in Santa Barbara, director Jim Colbert decided to resign from the board due to health reasons. The board asked his son Jonathan, to serve until the elections in 2017.

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 Son Jonathan Colbert during ITC 2016

Jim Colbert, I do love him, is a true giant, and this description might still be an understatement. I first met up with Jim and Sally Colbert on Skype way back in 2010 during the preparation period for ITC 2011 in Julian, California. I was immediately struck by Jim's warmth, kindness, sharp eye, open mind and natural drive for unity among all Theosophical vehicles. Last August he decided that his time had come to step down as a member of ITC’s board.

ITC’s President Eugene Jennings wrote:

"The words that follow will not capture the essence of, nor the sincere degrees of thanks from all appreciative sources, seen and unseen amongst beings of Theosophy for the efforts put forth by Jim Colbert, (and Sally) in the ITC endeavor. The primary wish and goal of all Theosophy is simply a universal brother – sisterhood of humanity, if not fully, then simply as a nucleus, that is all. As said in the Great Master’s Letter, 'How - since the main objects of the Theosophical Society are misinterpreted by those who are most willing to serve us personally – are we to deal with the rest of mankind?' It is just such a recognition that prompted both Jim and Sally to consciously try, once again, to open lines of real concentrated and purposeful communication amongst the different streams of Theosophical thought, as well as 'Independents.' Together they worked to try to reintegrate a body that perhaps is fragmented, when looked at from its intent and purpose as a 'whole.'

To such a one, it is with that paradoxical feeling of happiness, mixed with sadness that we are saying so long to Jim Colbert as a Pillar of ITC, and as a long-standing member of the board. It was both He and Sally Colbert, who consolidated the roots of ITC, with the help of others, as the body it is understood to be today. (For those that remember history explicitly, forgive me if I err in details.) Slowly evolving, ITC is moving forward in time, although its effect, are already noted in Eternity. Although there have been many others trying to bring theosophists of different traditions together throughout Theosophical history, Jim and Sally Colbert, where the early initiators of this specific ITC effort, having persevered, for at least ten years, if not longer, to keep it alive.

As far back as 2006, when we shared in the Julian California conference, Jim and Sally were working for a greater Theosophical 'unity', through verbal exchange and sharing. It was not then, and is not now, a desire for sameness of actual beliefs or Theosophical approach, but simply of meaningful Theosophical communication, respect, and sharing. A knowing that we are all alive and bodies working in some way for humanity, no matter the tradition. As an aside, of course, prior to Jim and Sally, there was Willie Dade, the original source and well of inspiration for a gathering of students and sharing. But this so long is for Jim.

We are thankful for his efforts and persistence, thankful for his vision, motivation and inspirational demonstration of willingness to engage with others, regardless of race, creed, sex, caste, condition, or theosophical tradition. We are thankful for the constant critiques, bold and honest statements without emotional bias, for his openness and service in this humble effort towards transparent communication amongst all, without a request or looking for rewards, recognition, or egoic praise. We are thankful for his imperfections, and occasional verbal slaps. But most of all, we are thankful for his, Sally’s (and others), stubborn push and persistence, because of an inner nagging, belief and conviction, shared perhaps amongst the few silently, yet brought to life on an international scale, that Theosophist should talk, share, and live in the ocean of Theosophy together, no matter how different our efforts, focus and beliefs.

On behalf of all of us, thank you Jim for helping to keep ITC alive today." (President Eugene Jennings)

Although we are saying "so long," we are not saying goodbye to Jim Colbert. For one, we have a second generation, Johnathan Colbert, on the board as a temporary replacement until our next membership meeting. Welcome Jonathan! Second, we still expect to hear from Jim now and again, since he is a part of this effort, and he will always be present in its Theosophical karma throughout all Theosophical time.

Thanks reading this editorial; reactions and comments are always more than welcome.

May all swim comfortably in the OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY.

 

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