This interview was first published in June 2016
1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
My name is José Manuel Anacleto, I am from Lisbon Portugal, although I rather consider myself a citizen of the world. I began to study Theosophy in 1979 and I did it with a group of friends, so I didn’t feel the call to join a Theosophical organisation, even at the time when we visited the Theosophical Society in Portugal (Adyar). Later (in 1988) I was one of the founders of an institution, the Centro Lusitano de Unificação Cultural-CLUC (Lusitanian Centre of Cultural Unification), (which is still active today, and is managed by myself), and although it is not strictly a Theosophical organisation, Theosophy is its key reference. At the CLUC, we publish several books and the Biosofia magazine ( www.biosofia.net ). I give conferences and courses and organise other activities (e.g. meditation practices) which are mostly Theosophical or generally connected to Esoteric Philosophy. In 2001, I became a member of the Portuguese Section of the Adyar Theosophical Society, basically to give my contribution. There, I was active for about 2 or 3 years, but stopped for several reasons. A little later (in 2006) I joined the United Lodge of Theosophists (ULT).
2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
I was active at the Portuguese Section of the Adyar Theosophical Society for about 3 years only. I am still a member of the United Lodge of Theosophists, but I cannot say that I am a true activist because I am greatly absorbed by my responsibilities and work at the Centro Lusitano de Unificação Cultural (www.centrolusitano.org ). There are, however, in the ULT, some good students of Theosophy, just as in the Adyar Theosophical Society, in the Pasadena Theosophical Society (Point Loma), in small groups or at a most isolated level. There is no question about this.
3. How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
When I was about 14 years old (around 1975), I began asking myself about the meaning of Life, and especially in the beginning, on the so-called problem of Evil. I was raised in the bosom of Christianity, but I left a year later, for I couldn’t find the satisfactory answers to the questions I posed myself. At that time, I spoke about this thoroughly with a high school classmate and friend. We shared the same fundamental interrogations, and we both had come to fairly similar provisional findings by ourselves. This friend of mine, through the father of another mutual friend, came into contact with books of Theosophy and Esoteric Philosophy, and he told me about those books. So I bought The Key of Theosophy, the very first Theosophical book I read, where I started to find the connections that were missing in relation to the ideas which I had already formulated by myself.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?
It is the substrate of the Consciousness from which I try to see, interpret and understand all things. Theosophy sheds light on all things, connecting and giving a meaning to everything. As a universal and timeless wisdom, it provides a key to understanding more quickly and deeply than any other system and from it you can draw additional supporting elements from the understanding that you attain. To me, personally, Theosophy has widened to unlimited horizons and helped me to reach a more permanent contentment.
5. What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?
The Secret Doctrine for many reasons:
a) For all it exposes, which is unparalleled, both in substantial dimensions and in values, and for all that is left open, as meditative seeds for further investigation. Today, with the multiplicity and ease of access to traditional and scientific sources that Helena Blavatsky did not have (which makes her work even more admirable), there is an immense labour to perform, of development/deployment and proof of facts from the clues that the book left us;
b) For the magnificent Cosmogenesis, Anthropogenesis and Evolutionary Plan that it exposes, which largely transcends any other philosophy (and having studied many, I say it with founded conviction);
c) For the odd and almost endless combination of various spiritual traditions, philosophies, religions, mythologies and scientific perspectives;
d) For its reading always reveals new and richer meanings;
e) For teaching us how to think in the esoteric way, i.e., from the general to the particular, from the level of causes to the level of effects, and considering the interconnectedness and interdependence of everything;
f) For being a transformative reading and thus eminently practical (although it may apparently seem otherwise). It is a Jnana Yoga supreme masterpiece.
Following The Secret Doctrine, I would elect The Mahatmas Letters and The Voice of Silence.
6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?
The biggest challenge is to resume the original Theosophy with the same Wisdom, inspiration, courage, lucidity, and the ability to break free of prejudices that characterized Helena Blavatsky and her best associates and disciples. What was said after her death should be carefully reviewed, not because all is necessarily wrong but because there were, undoubtedly, misconceptions and illusions. It is not a matter of condemning anyone: simply, it is easier to have a clearer vision, with the hindsight of time and without having been involved in the past situation. Nor should it be claimed that HPB was infallible which she was the first to reject unequivocally, nor to erect dogmas that cannot be discussed, but noting that through the deepening of study and research this leads to the realization that she and the Mahatmas had a superior vision, science and discernment. Let us, then, based on such foundations, deploy rigorously, but creatively, Theosophy’s numerous applications that will contribute decisively to a new Humanity and a new world, more wise, just and compassionate; and that the Theosophical Movement may again have the impact it has had on the world.
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
I wish that we shall not lose the impetus given in 1875 and the years that followed, to avoid that later a new start over will have to occur, with a different form. I wish that the Theosophists are good students – never assuming they already know all that matters, with vague Reincarnation and Karma notions (attached to a theistic belief that was never welcomed by the Mahatmas or HPB) – and good practitioners (not only in a 30 minute meditation but in their continued life experience); in other words, to be true Theosophists. That a deep and founded Theosophy shall throw light on our illusions, whims, personal partialities and protagonist desires at all cost. That we don’t give into fads and easy solutions, so that the high quality Theosophical works don’t keep being pushed away from the bookstores by poor quality substitutes. That the current situation might be reversed, where many more or less successful impulses and movements in the world, directly or indirectly, owe their existence to the pioneering spirit of Theosophy, without this being recognized. Such recognition is more than a matter of justice: it is also useful, so that people can turn their eyes back to the original source.
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.