- What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
My name is Kayla Upton and I’m from New Plymouth which is a coastal town on the west side of New Zealand. I’ve been a member of the Theosophical Society for 3 years however I would say that I had a very Theosophical upbringing.
- Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
Very much so, I’m currently serving as secretary for our local branch and my husband is our branch President. Last year we had a lot of opportunities to be able to travel to other NZ lodges to present talks and meet other Theosophists. We were also able to attend both Youth and International conventions in India, which gave us lots of ideas and inspiration to bring back home to our NZ lodges.
- How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
I was raised on occult philosophy so the name Helena Petrovna Blavatsky would often pop up in research and conversations. But it wasn’t until recently that I came across the society by chance while wandering past a public talk on Nepal. Being a little bit familiar with Buddhism; I wandered in. I listened and chatted with the members. I think it was the brochures and magazines that won me over, with titles like “reincarnation” and “meditation” I couldn’t really help myself.
- What does Theosophy mean to you?
This is a bit of a strange example but if religion is mathematics, then Theosophy is counting. Mathematics is theories and arguments but counting is just counting. There’s no arguing with it. It’s the structure that precedes our questions.
- What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?
The Tarot is often called the Book of Keys. I believe it’s ultimately Theosophical, as it dives into what underlies our world mythologies and how these ideas form the universe around us.
However if you meant a Theosophical Society book, well that seems to change every week but today I’d have to choose Human Regeneration by N. Sri Ram. It was the basis of the latest youth convention widened the entire text up for me and really got me to question myself, my motives and my emotional reactions to things.
- What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?
Youth engagement. I think it’s no secret that there is a waning in youth memberships. I feel that this is a problem that is being actively tackled by our national section by supporting youth to get involved with conventions, making events with a more practical approach and having an online presence with https://www.theosophy.world/ and streaming on social media. In the relatively short amount of time I’ve been involved with the TS I have already seen great improvements and I see us overcoming this issue as we speak.
- Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
The time for armchair occultism is over. I am greatly excited by the practical swerve that the Theosophical Society is taking with initiatives such as the Theosophical scientific research division and the new talk formats being experimented with for example the 20 minute TED talk inspired “TIP” (Theosophy in practice) talks and the short lecture/group discussion/presentation format used in the 2019 youth convention.
From my personal bias: I would love to see Theosophical Arts being actively supported. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have, rather than a travelling lecture, a travelling Theosophical art exhibition or workshop? I feel that there are so many other ways people connect to spirituality and quite often it’s through something much more abstract than a book or a talk, so let’s explore that. I’m hoping to run some trial Theosophical sculpture workshops this year, so wish me luck!
If you are interested in seeing streams of my talks and other members from my local branch follow along at facebook.com/TheosophyNP
Also my artworks and adventures can be found at facebook.com/kaylaupton.nz
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.