The Society

Let’s get on with it! – An interactive editorial

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil


Jan, April - 2019

In March and April of 2009 the first articles appeared in a brand new e-Magazine called Theosophy Forward. The start of the magazine was quite an amazing undertaking, because the initiators, including myself, didn’t have any experience in putting such a magazine on the rails. What counted most of all then, was the motivation and intention. All other more technical details were to be solved at a later stage. After a rather tumultuous period that the TS-Adyar had to endure (linked to an election for the International President), the inauguration of Theosophy Forward was a kind of “let’s show that there are also a lot of good things happening” initiative.

I was saddened in those times, because, due to much confusion and misinformation on the Internet – yes, also in 2008 and 2009 fake news was all over the spectrum – a number of Theosophists seemed to have unsurmountable issues with living up to the First Object. It was painful to see that old friendships had broken up, and that every “new” initiative, if not in line with the standards that certain individuals had desperately tried to hold to, was met with suspicion. The urge on the part of a few of us to shine a bright light in the apparent darkness, was most definitely heartfelt. Consequently, Theosophy Forward was born.

In those early days I was fortunate enough to have some very capable folks close to me who were willing to help out, wherever that was needed. For the technical part, my brother Hans provided the sever, situated in the Netherlands, while Gilson Moraes, a sergeant of the Brazilian army who had no connection with Theosophy whatsoever – became the webmaster. Gilson, after more than a decade, is still helping out installing articles! For the editing, writing and compiling, John Algeo became my mentor. Collaborating with him was quite a challenge and it was a bumpy ride at times. I would send articles I had written to him for a thorough check, and in spite of me having thought I had written my very best piece, they often were returned completely in red, with a simple message underneath the epistle saying: “Not good enough, start all over again.” As I said, that was challenging and tough, but in a short period of time I learned so much from him. And for that I will be always grateful.

 


John Algeo

John Algeo himself also contributed to the e-Magazine with many articles and as well as some monumental series, such as his commentaries on The Voice of the Silence, which came in 20 chapters. Another series he contributed was his own and very special look at the Ancient Wisdom of Harry Potter, covering seven Harry Potter Books written under his nom de plume, Prof. Abditus Questor. Among his numberless articles, “My Life in Theosophy and Otherwise” written in 2015, is one of my favorites. At the end of this superb and touching piece he writes:

“I do a lot of work on the computer, editing material for the Web site Theosophy Forward, for example. I’m also currently on an Agatha Christie binge. I’m collecting citations from her fiction and annotating them – I’m not sure why but I enjoy it and it keeps me off the streets and more or less out of trouble. Agatha Christie was amazingly proficient and productive. She belonged, incidentally, to an Oxford group called the Inklings, a number of whom were interested in the occult and even Theosophy and one of whom was the Charles Wrenn with whom Adele and I studied Anglo-Saxon when he was a visiting professor at the University of Florida.

All in all, I am at peace with this world and look forward to experiencing the delights of the next in Devachan when its time comes.

Blessings on the heads of all who read this! Cheers, John”

I love you John, blessings on your head.

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/1510-my-life-in-theosophy-and-otherwise

In those very first publications, next to articles of interest, in my editorials, I tried to point to the unique independence of the Theosophical Society by referring to the Freedom of Society Resolution. In a write up published in March 2009 I write this:

“At times, members of other organizations have infiltrated the Theosophical Society and were able to take control of local bodies. As a result, the Society sometimes lost credibility, members, and even properties. The result often seriously affects the functioning of the Theosophical Society as a vehicle for Theosophy.

The same thing can happen if members of the Theosophical Society begin to use its resources – lecture platforms, meetings, publications, contacts, reputation, and so on – to propagate the interests of another organization. Even if the ideals of the other organization are similar to those of the Society, the two should be kept clearly separate and not confused in the minds of either Theosophists or the public.”

I feel strongly that now, 10 years on, those lines are still actual, the Freedom of Society Resolution, without any doubt, is a crucial resolution and it should be considered at all times.


Anton Rozman (left) and Jan in Rome in 2010, talking and enjoying an “authentic” cappuccino

At this point I must also mention the name of Anton Rozman who came on board a year after the magazine took off. Anton is from beautiful Koper, a picturesque city in Slovenia. I was able to meet up with him personally during the World Congress in Rome in 2010 and for some years we were engaged in a productive and truly artistic joint venture. Anton produced wonderful e-Books of our issues and he was also responsible for the special publications in e-Book format, which still can be found on Theosophy Forward. Go to the top bar on the homepage and click on SERIES or on ARCHIVES - previous issues, special editions and arts and craft studio. Not only was Anton a marvel in the artistic field of making booklets, he occasionally would write amazing articles. Here is an excerpt from his “How To Move Forward? Back to the Mountain Top”, which was published in July 2009:

“We, men of the mountain peaks, experienced through the numerous obstacles we had to take, came down to the towns to talk to the people about beauties of Alpine valleys and steeps, about the freshness of Alpine air, about our efforts and struggles, and remained there. Comfort and ease of city life have slowly absorbed us. We forgot that we were destined to become mountain guides, destined to lead people to the mountains, so that they will be able, through their own effort, to experience what we experienced. Yes, our precious flower can bloom only on the mountain heights, theosophy can be lived only through constant individual effort and our aims and ideals can be experienced only through constant collective effort, through solidarity and collaboration.”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/series/how-to-move-forward/104-how-to-move-forward-back-to-the-mountain-top

Anton and I worked together intensively up until 2014-2015. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, Anton was not able to continue working for the magazine, but his invaluable contributions are still available for all to see and enjoy.

The study of Theosophy as such and its practical application in daily life was often a subject my I would shine light on. In April 2009 in a piece entitled “Playing the Piano with three Fingers” I state this:

“The world is the way it is because we are the way we are, so the Society is the way it is because we are the way we are. If there is egotism, it is because we are egoistic, if there is division, it is only because we are divided from within, and if we fail, it is our collective failure, and not that of the Society. If dogmatism, abuse of power, and nepotism exist under the vehicle’s banner, we cannot blame anyone but ourselves; we allow this to happen, right action is not taken.

We cannot change anything significantly because we claim to know what’s best for the Society or because we want things to change, and wish and pray for it. Real change only surfaces when there is deep understanding.

One of the ways to come upon understanding is to take a deep breath, stand still, be silent, and, above all, study and learn. Instructions passed on to us, while making our quest, are never to be followed blindly, but must function solely as pointers along the way.”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/112-playing-the-piano-with-three-fingers

Since September 2010, Theosophy Forward regularly publishes so called mini-interviews. The idea to do interviews first came from the “Chairwoman” of the European Federation Ms. Tran Thi Kim-Diêu. With more than 350 participants until now, the series over the years has been so successful that it is likely that the series will go on for at least another decade. The first interviews were done during the 10th World Congress held in Rome from 1-15 July 2010, and were a part of the article “Rome in Retrospect and the Theosophical Movement in Prospect.”

To read the original article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/252-rome-in-retrospect-and-the-theosophical-movement-in-prospect


Gene Jennings, President ITC

Theosophy Forward, the e-Magazine, has always wholeheartedly supported the lofty goals of International Theosophy Conferences (ITC). This unique organization came to my attention through an article I spotted and later also published, written by its current President Gene Jennings. In it Gene gives an impression of an ITC meeting held in The Hague the Netherlands, in 2010. From “ International Theosophy Conference of 2010 in The Hague, a Personal View”, an excerpt:

“It was only several years ago when an idea was reborn. It reincarnated almost immediately out of the dream of Wiley Dade, who initiated a series of simple Theosophical gatherings over a six or seven year period some fifteen years ago. The gatherings were intended for a simple sharing of Theosophical ideas and friendship, amongst student souls who had such an interest. Many said that wherever Wiley went, she succeeded in gathering about her a group of beings interested in the Theosophical studies and life. That was both her karma and her magnetism.

From such humble beginnings has arisen a young but growing spiritual motion to bring together, in the spirit of nonsectarian Theosophical sharing (a kind of “Theosophists beyond Borders”) students of the various Theosophical perspectives and schools, and also inquiring souls, dedicated to a study, promulgation, understanding, sharing, or interest in Theosophical ideas.”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/251-international-theosophy-conference-of-2010-in-the-hague-a-personal-view

Through my keen interest in ITC as a platform where Theosophists of all vehicles, but also those students who are not affiliated, can meet, I got in touch with two great souls who, now in 2019, are no longer with us: Sally and James (Jim) Colbert. I remember vividly that in our first Skype chat, all three of us felt that an old bond was renewed and that we shared the same awareness that Theosophists from all four corners of the globe belonging to the different Theosophical groups, had a lot in common and that the divisions or splits were actually only imaginary.


James Colbert, Sally Colbert and your editor. Photo taken at Olcott in Wheaton in 2012

In this respect, Dorothy Bell from Australia, in her introduction to Roots and Shoots, the Family Tree of Theosophy wrote the following striking and poetic lines:

“Over the years, lines of demarcation have been drawn in the sand, fences have been built, territories established and guarded. In time, lines drawn in sand lose their definition, but not so those lines in the mind that are caught in memory, in history. In the past, perceptions of lost ideals, wrong directions, and diluted teachings bred disharmony, division, and separation – and new patterns of birth, growth and renewal, or decline and decay, evolved.

But the original impulse that produced the seed and the tree, the branches and offshoots, the underground runners with their place in the sun, is still within, seeking expression and fulfillment. There is no need to change any boundaries, annex other territories, or dissolve any compartments, save in the prison of the mind. And a mind that is crippled by memory – by separation and fear – can never be free. We can find our own place in the sun by going beyond the bondage of the past and serving that impulse wherever we are.

That is our territory; that is our center; that is our Theosophical family.”

Over time, Sally, Jim and I became close friends and during a number of ITC gatherings, let’s say from 2011 until 2015, our working together was intense and fruitful. In September 2010 the Colberts wrote a review of Theosophy Forward in their own ITC magazine. (This periodical is no longer on line or available).

In their introduction Sally and Jim wrote:

“In reviewing current Theosophical magazines, we were delighted to thoroughly review Theosophy Forward. As a result, a wonderful communication has begun between Jan Kind (Editor of Theosophy Forward) and ourselves. There is no question but that this publication is helping pave the way towards greater Theosophical unity. Besides this, it’s a very good magazine – Editors.”

Sally left our plane on 2013, while Jim passed away on February 4 this year. Until his passing, he continued contributing to Theosophy Forward, with a number of excellent articles. Here is one of them:

“Karma, Disability and Meaning”, click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/theosophy/2131-disability-karma-and-meaning


Not Knowing

There is a saying that one cannot please all, which is so very true. Since its conception Theosophy Forward had many friends and sympathizers, but there were also some who just could not stop writing silly things about it, placing question marks behind every issue that came out, doubting its good intentions and independence, labelling the magazine as the mouth-piece of the leadership of the Theosophical Society. I actually had long given up reacting to this utter nonsense, but once in a while, just for the sake of it, I would sigh and write a fiery rebuke. It is so simple: some who otherwise would have remained in obscurity, through the means of the Internet, all of a sudden felt that they were heard. My rebukes didn’t stop the trolls from doing what they were doing, and let’s be honest, they won’t stop no matter what. But just to let it go, for me at least, was not always possible. In an editorial entitled “Am I in the Wrong Movie?” published in December 2014, Theosophy Forward was five years old, among other things I write:

“ Not knowing, having a high opinion of oneself, being stubborn, silly, and badly informed often contribute to misunderstandings, misconceptions, and confusion. Often it surprises me that some insist on having an outspoken opinion about everything at all costs, looking as if there is no room for uncertainty. Mr or Mrs “Know it all” make their entrance, throwing words around, sounding like hastily renovated oracles, pointing fingers at people who do their best to reveal the truth, dismantling lies and painful occurrences. There is no observation, no impartiality, and above all no silence, only an avalanche of words and more words; quite a cacophony; it is arrogance, ignorance combined with stupidity. When I am confronted with this, I feel as if I am in the wrong movie. This shouldn’t take place in a Theosophical environment since it causes great damage to our cause and if we were willing to look openly at the issues before us, we could have simply done much better and reason instead.”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/1343-editorial-am-i-in-the-wrong-movie-2

A positive and always vibrant approach, even if we sail against the wind, is better and in my various editorials I have tried hard to reiterate this stance. In September 2015, after I had spent some time in my native country, the Netherlands, I write along these lines:

“Attentive readers must have noticed that in this third quarter issue of Theosophy Forward there is a lot of news about events that took place, or are going take place in the Netherlands. It is not just a coincidence; much is currently going on in the “lowlands” and it is good to take notice of that. Next to what currently is happening there, the country, small as it is, has always been very influential Theosophically speaking, just think of Theosophical scholars of world fame like Johan van Manen and Henk Spierenburg, or the painter Piet Mondrian, and what to think of the renowned architects J.L.M. Lauweriks and K.P.C. de Bazel. Recognizing the value of other beautiful places on earth however, your editor hereby solemnly pledges not to leave the rest of the world out, of course not, so do have a good look around in the third quarter issue and in future issues of your favorite Theosophical magazine’”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/1546-who-are-we

My editorial for this first issue of 2019 is by no means meant to give a chronological overview of what happened during the last decade. It is written to give the readers an idea how young, dynamic and versatile Theosophy Forward is, giving room to Theosophists of all existing groups or non-affiliated students. It points to the fact that there is ultimately One Life and One Truth, and that each one of us must find her or his own way, attempting to come closer one’s own Truth. Theosophists are supposed to be freethinkers, and there are, thanks to the great work of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a number a starting points, often referred to as the “teachings.” They enable us to, step by step, grasp the in-depth significance of the mysteries that surround us, to understand better that what which the external eye isn’t able to perceive. These teachings, or if you wish, eternal truths, all embedded in the Theo-Sophia, are mere pointers and function as such, and we, as seekers for truth, are to embark on our own journey, a journey that will most certainly differ from others who also took off in their search. There are no instructions as on how to interpret or understand that which was reintroduced, because in Theosophy there is no theology as we find this in the world’s religions. Since we are seekers, we therefore will never be able to declare what truth is. We can only make efforts trying to comprehend the wondrous panorama that unfolds in front of us, whilst being on our journey.

Radha Burnier, a former International President of the Theosophical Society-Adyar, in an article entitled Truth-The Highest Religion” published on Theosophy Forward in July 2009, writes:

“Despite innumerable attempts to respond to the question ‘What is truth?’ no satisfactory answer has ever been forthcoming. On the other hand, a multitude of tragic controversies and conflicts have their origin in varying dogmatic claims to knowledge of truth. Few have heeded the Teachers who proclaimed that truth is beyond thoughts, words and descriptions, and that hence no one can assert that his own ideas or those of chosen religious leaders are truth. Madame Blavatsky, one of the three main Founders of the Theosophical Society, said of her magnum opus that it does not contain the truth but only points to it, which is all that any person or book can do.”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/theosophy/55-truththe-highest-religion

Articles written by authors from all the existing Theosophical vehicles or independent scholars were published on Theosophy Forward over the past ten years. Here are a few names: Erwin Bomas, Nancy and David Reigle, Boris de Zirkoff, Herman C. Vermeulen, Nicholas Weeks, Dara Eklund, Jacques Mahnich, Joop Smits, Ali Ritsema, Shirley Nicholson. Joy Mills, Edi Bilimoria, James Santucci, Henk J. Spierenburg, G. de Purucker, Betty Bland, William Q, Judge, John Vorstermans, Leslie Price, James Long, Grace Knoche, I.K. Taimni, Lorraine Christensen, Marty Bax, Tim Boyd, Barbara Hebert, James Colbert, Jonathan Colbert, Vicente Hao Chin Jr, Ananya Rajan, Ed Abdill, Dora van Gelder-Kunz and many, many more.

 
Nancy and David Reigle

Patrizia Calvi, a dear friend from Italy, once told me that when she reads Theosophy Forward, it is as if windows are being opened with a view on the land of Theosophists. A wonderful metaphor I would say. In the list of authors above, the well-known scholar David Reigle is mentioned. In 2011, in his article called “Theosophy in Tibet: The Teachings of the Jonangpa School” he writes:

“Some seven centuries ago there arose in Tibet a school of teachings which has many parallels to Theosophy. This is the Jonangpa school. Like Theosophy, which attempted to restore teachings from “the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world,”1 it attempted to restore teachings of the earlier Golden Age. Like Theosophy, which teaches as its first fundamental proposition “an omnipresent, eternal, boundless, and immutable principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception,”2 it teaches a principle which is permanent, stable, quiescent, and eternal, which is devoid of anything but itself, or “empty of other” (gzhan stong), and which therefore transcends even the most subtle conceptualization. And like Theosophy, it was persecuted by orthodoxy.”

For the complete article click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/theosophy/420-theosophy-in-tibet-the-teachings-of-the-jonangpa-school

Theosophy Forward, appears quarterly and at present it has 13 categories. A special section is dedicated to articles in Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and French. Next to many articles exclusively written for the e-Magazine, it also publishes articles that have appeared elsewhere. According to recent statistics, the number of countries where it is read fluctuates between 98 and 110, while the readers’ numbers are steadily on the rise, even still. I try to give the magazine a typical portal function, allowing access to the wide range of what is freely available in the land of Theosophists, to use that metaphor I referred to earlier. Your editor works closely together with the editors and compilers of various Theosophical magazines, among them The Theosophist. (TS-Adyar, India), Vidya (ULT, Santa Barbara-USA), Lucifer (Theosophical Society Point Loma Blavatskyhouse, The Hague-the Netherlands), Theosofia (TS-Adyar, the Netherlands), The Theosophical Movement (ULT, Mumbai-India), TheoSophia (TS-Adyar, New Zealand) Sophia and Revista Theosophia (TS-Adyar, Brazil) and Revista Italiana di Teosofia (TS-Adyar, Italy)

The compiling and editing of Theosophy Forward, over the years, has turned into a 24/7 job and it is obvious that I cannot do this just by myself. I am so very grateful that I can count on a number of dedicated and loyal volunteers. In my editorial “This is Theosophy Forward” , published in the second quarter of 2018 I write:

“This second quarter editorial is not meant to be an historic overview of TF the magazine since its inception, but wishes to inform all of our readers, the world over, that the e-magazine is being maintained by a fabulous dream team of 19 (!!) volunteers. There are editors, regular contributors, translators and installers. When for example an article is edited and ready to be published on Theosophy Forward’s Joomla template the installers come into action. This is quite an operation if one realizes that per issue around 70 (!) articles need to go onto the website, plus around 80 or more images. So, no doubt, without all those fine workers Theosophy Forward would simply not exist. Let me introduce them to you:”

Read the article and meet them, click: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/the-society/2350-editorial-this-is-theosophy-forward

I wish to conclude this special “interactive” editorial by asking your attention to our TRIBUTES series. The first one in the series, published in June 2015, was dedicated to Richard Brooks and since then we honored Ianthe Hoskins, Einar Adalsteinsson, Shirley Nicholson, Paul Zwollo, Dora van Gelder-Kunz, John H. Drais, Dara Eklund, Geoffrey Farthing, Sylvia Cranston, Danielle Audoin, Victor Peñaranda and Ted. G, Davy. In the current issue we pay tribute to Shri Raghavan Iyer and in my introduction I write:

“As I mentioned on other occasions, it is imperative to work towards a future. One cannot simply live in the past or only care about the here and now. The present is our domain to create appropriate conditions for those who come after us, and who consequently will live in that “future.” Countless good people who lived in our past, and are no longer with us have left us precious tools with which we are able to build, create and deepen our understanding of the eternal truths that surround us. That is why TRIBUTES have their value, because by looking back we come to understand where we came from. When we have become conscious of that knowledge, we know where we stand now, and from that point onward we can build landing strips into the in the future. In this respect I must always think of what KH stated, it was a kind of hint, in that very first Mahatma Letter: “Madmen are they, who, speculating but upon the present, willfully shut their eyes for the past, when made already to remain naturally blind for the future.” (The Mahatma Letters, Nr 1)

Showing gratitude through honoring, highlighting and underscoring all good things that have come to us, best described as our sacred heritage, we learn, become aware and show our deepest respect.”

I enjoyed it much, putting all the TRIBUTES together, but the one dedicated to Sylvia Cranston (Anita Atkins) was especially dear to me.

The Society edit j
Sylvia Cranston

Follow the link and enjoy: https://www.theosophyforward.com/articles/theosophy/2140-sylvia-cranston-a-tribute

Theosophy Forward will now enter a next cycle. The other day, a friend of mine asked me: “Your baby is 10 years old now, rapidly turning into a teenager, so what are you planning to do in the next 10 years?” Well, there are many plans. I would like to restart publishing e-Books. Eventually there will be a need to create a newly designed site. There are serious plans to come to a closer working relationship with Professor James Santucci, editor-in-chief of Theosophical History, and I am happy that through the cooperation with Jaishree Kannan at the Adyar archives, we now are able to publish more historical material. I’d like to extend the category Theosophy and the Society in the Public Eye, and receive more contributions from Theosophists who are active in the arts, and I am determined to explore ways to ensure that Theosophy Forward indeed will live on for another 10 years, and longer even.

Your donations to secure the work and to see to it that plans materialize are now, more than ever, welcome. On the homepage, in the right column, is a large PayPal icon which makes donating fast and 100% safe. You may also use the LINK below!


link to PayPal

I am not the kind of guy who wants a tap on the shoulder; our work is simply necessary and has to be done, period! I wish to dedicate all your good wishes to our fine workers and finish up with a wonderful note, received from our friend and occasional contributor, Arni Narendran, in Mumbai, India:

"Dear Brother Jan, Many compliments to you and your team at Theosophy Forward (TF) having stepped into its 10th year of publication. TF e-Journal has become the most read and popular Theosophical journal amongst all Nations and the great spectrum of Theosophical organizations, bringing Theosophists and the multiple groups together. After all, we share the Path in Heart, Mind and Soul. We pray that TF shares the Light on the Path for many years to come."

Let’s get on with it … !

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