This interview was first published in December 2014
1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
My name is Renee Sell, I live in New Zealand. I was originally brought up in Australia but have lived my adult life in New Zealand. I have been a member of the TS now for 17 years.
2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
Yes I am an active worker in New Zealand. I coordinate the program at the H. P. B. Lodge in Auckland and over the years, I have held various positions on committees and have been actively involved in the study program for as long as I can remember. I present both locally at branch level and nationally for the TS in New Zealand.
Over the last 11 years I have coordinated nationally The Theosophical Order of Service in New Zealand. It has been through this work that I have come to know the journey of Service. We have a very supportive national section that has encouraged members throughout the country to get behind TOS activity. It really is a pathway that helps in the unfolding of the heart as you throw yourself into the work. In my experience with the TOS, it seems very much, where there is vibrant TOS activity, the TS itself is enlivened and energized because people come together in a spirit of co-operation for the work or activity at hand.
3. How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
I married into a Theosophical family but not once did my husband or his family mention this, although my father in law helped to wake up my mind to questioning out of blind faith. Funny enough, after being married for 10 years, I found an advert in the paper when I was pregnant with my third child. The title of the advert was “What is the purpose of life?” and above this title was the Theosophical emblem, which I am sure spoke to something within. I attended the TS study course those first few months after joining the Society, breastfeeding my youngest daughter at these meetings.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?
Theosophy is a key part of my life providing purpose and meaning. For me, any opportunity to help anyone who crosses my path, no matter where I am is such a privilege. I am so appreciative to have come across the teachings of Madame Blavatsky that I know the only way to honour this truly remarkable Soul is to share in our turn when opportunities present themselves. I remember once I met a lady on an airplane when I was travelling to speak at a TS branch in New Zealand. She was so keen on hearing about the ancient wisdom that I ended up discussing with her about Theosophy and giving my presentation on the plane trip. I do not believe there is one single accident in terms of people we meet on our journey through life and how wonderful it is that I get to share about Theosophy.
5. What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?
This is an easy one The Voice of the Silence because it stirs something deep within my heart and I never tire of this little gem. My bedside reading for life!
I have also a special place for The Secret Doctrine. After reading one particular line from the proem of the book, the turn of my studies and work changed in quite a dramatic way. This quote was: “The pivotal doctrine of the esoteric philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses.” Life for me has never been the same after pondering on this!
6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?
I feel the biggest challenge TS Adyar faces today is being that centre and nucleus for the modern Theosophical movement and not to lose sight of the original purpose and aims of why TS was brought into being.
TS Adyar is a vehicle for Theosophy, albeit our home and headquarters. With this in mind it is important for us not to look for answers outside ourselves to the challenges that are faced. I believe it is only as individuals change and strive to be a centre of work within themselves, that transformation and/or regeneration is possible within the TS. It is up to me and you, to be the change we want to see in the society and in the world. If we all look to TS Adyar for the ‘answers’ we are in trouble. The change required sits on our shoulders fairly and squarely wherever we are in the world. I am reminded here of a quote from Madam Blavatsky that really spells this out very clearly: “…each man should strive to be a centre of work in himself. When his inner development has reached a certain point, he will naturally draw those with whom he is in contact under the same influence; a nucleus will be formed, round which other people will gather, forming a centre from which information and spiritual influence radiate, and towards which higher influences are directed.” I believe this to be the key to the future of our work!
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
I would wish that all the members throughout the world could make Theosophy a ‘living power’ in their lives as Helena Petrovna Blavatsky did. It is through this alone that our movement will regenerate and grow to the heights to what it was brought into being for, the most serious movement of our age for the benefit of humanity.
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.