The Society

Mini-interviews November-December 2010


Ana Lorena Howell

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

Ana Lorena Howell from Costa Rica. I have been a member since 1997.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I´m the Correspondence Secretary in my Lodge.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

Through an introductory course. The Theosophical teachings came to me just when I most needed a different direction in my life. That was in 1990, but I spent seven years as a regular sympathizer before requesting to be a formal member.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Everything – I cannot imagine to living without Theosophy. Once you confirm in your heart at least some of their splendid teachings, there is no other way to go. Theosophy means to live with a more open mind, a more open heart. There is a profound ethics of life in the core of the teachings that links us with all life. For one aspiring to perceive the truth of the wonderful beauty, the great goodness, the merciful essence that pervades the whole Universe, Theosophy imbues a sense of purpose in his life. This supports our conduct and is like a navigator’s compass that helps us to maintain the right course. That is why I think – based on personal experience alone – that we need to study as seriously as we can the core teachings presented in The Mahatma Letters and The Secret Doctrine.  

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett because I found in it a proof of the presence of these Great Beings in the world and in the TS. I also find in them a tremendous treasury of wisdom. The Mahatmas show not only their mastery of the esoteric science, but also, according to me, the letters have fundamental implications for our lives: Their deep knowledge of the human nature, our weaknesses of character, our egoistic motives that darken even our highest aspirations, our search for power, recognition, our need to influence the minds of others. They also indicate herein all the obstacles of comprehension in the achievement of the ideal of universal brotherhood, the highest and noble aspiration for the human being. Moreover the Mahatmas show us the way to overcome these obstacles with compassion: “it is the business of 'magic' to humanize our natures with compassion for the whole mankind as all living beings ” (Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Chronological Edition, Letter No. 15, page 48). Only through this entire transformation in ourselves with our own effort can we go so far as to have this largeness of vision, this “major sense of humanity.” It is also in the letters where we find the high intention of the Theosophical Society, of its members, and the direction we must take: “It is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical Brotherhood who is entitled to the possession of our secrets. He alone, such a man — will never misuse his powers, as there will be no fear that he should turn them to selfish ends” (Mahatama Letter to A.P. Sinnett, Chronological Edition, Letter No. 33, page 100).

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

As members of the TS Adyar, we all together are the organization. Maybe sometimes we see Adyar headquarters as something far away from us or maybe we want that the organization work in a certain direction or in a way that we consider the best. But this is because of our tendency to see ourselves as separate from the totality. If all of us make a profound promise to do the work that the Mahatmas leave in the hands of the TS, if we put all our capacities and our best abilities in this work in each one of our countries, thinking that our work is not personal, nor for the benefit of only a few, we will not only strengthen the whole organization but also open a strong stream of light and life between Adyar and all its Lodges and Sections. The challenge is for all us, as it was in the past. The international President and the workers at Adyar need the cooperation and goodwill of all us, the members, to keep alive the flame of Theosophy in the world.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical movement?

I wish the best for all who integrate the Theosophical movement. I wish also that we all really have the fortitude, the perseverance, and the commitment, to serve the work of the Mahatmas and leave a better world for the future generations. Sometimes we can feel hopeless about the state of the world, or we become disappointed by problems in the TS or with members. Perhaps many of us have passed through that kind of challenge and some have decided to quit. They can step aside for a while and recover again the enthusiasm and confidence in their hearts. But there are others who are always giving support to the work and no amount of trouble makes them retire from it. Probably they have a better comprehension of the great purpose behind the TS. I wish all of us to develop this deep comprehension too, and be better instruments for the work.


 

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Dolores Gago

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Dolores Gago. I was born in Montevideo, capital city of Uruguay, South America. I came to know of the existence of the TS in 1947 and became a member in 1950, since   which time I have not interrupted my membership. 

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I have been active since my early days as a member. I have been a Lodge President (of which Lodge) and General Secretary of the Section in Uruguay during three different periods. In 1975 I started a weekly radio programme with Theosophical material including Theosophical approaches to the fields of science, religion and philosophy. The material was sourced from contemporary Theosophical writings in English which I translated. I was wholly responsable for the programme which went on for almost 20 years after that it was handed over to the National Committee of the Section. I was invited to work at Adyar where I became the international Secretary – a post I held for more than ten years. I was also resposible for organizing the study programmes at the School of Wisdom, Adyar, besides being a lecturer there for some programmes. In addition, since 1950 I have been a translator for all the English-speaking lecturers who visited the Spanish-speaking countries. At present I am back in Uruguay where I will assume the office next month of National President for the Regional Association, which is the equivalent at Adyar of Organizing Secretary.

3.     How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

In 1947-49 I was working in an American School in Colombia, South America, and was invited to participate in the creation of a feminist political party with the purpose of working towards granting women the right to vote, with the promise that if the request met with a favorable response, the feminist party would be dissolved. Soon I discovered that the principal ladies involved in that campaign were members of the International Order of Co-Freemasonry and/or of the Theosophical Society.(The campaign proved successful and the party was dissolved.)

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy has helped me to understand many of the riddles of life which at an early age created in my mind many doubts about the existence of justice in the world. Having to face the loss of my mother when I was still at school and at the same time having to listen about the existence of God (I was in an American School with Methodist influence) as something beneficent, created in me a great concern. When I started reading Theosophy, it was as if some powerful and wise voice was trying to explain to me the significance of the personal circumstances in which I had been living.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I do not have only one favourite book. Since I started travelling, I carry with me At The Feet Of The Master, Light On The Path, The Voice Of The Silence and The Bhagavad Gita. I always discover in them an additional approach not seen before.  But at times I do have a paragraph, or a poem that keeps me “on the trail”. At present my energy is being refreshed by the last paragraph of Ravi Ravindra's book Whispers from the Other Shore ending : ”From across the river the sound of the flute calls and demands:  “What do you seek? “What do you serve? “How?

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

At present Adyar is facing the challenge of maintaining the condition of a blazing Centre from which inspiration may reach all the Theosophical groups around the world, as also the challenge of being able to maintain a closer relationship with those members in whose hands lies the responsibility of carrying on the work in their respective areas, the challenge of communicating with the world in an understandable language and loving attitude.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I would like to see the valuable Theosophical writings of the so-called second era of the TS that so far have been printed in English also available in the Spanish language – a work that I am sure, with proper international workers could be done at the Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar. I am always ready to help in this work.

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Elvira Carbonell

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Elvira Carbonell, and I have been an official member of the American Section since 1986. However, my parents were Theosophists in Cuba, and its influence left an indelible mark as I was growing up there.  

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

Currently I am working at the American Section headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois. I normally attend Thursday evening lectures and a weekly study group. I also belong to the EST and Masonic lodge here at the center.  

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I came in contact with it through my parents.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is a body of eternal truths that have been tested and retested by the wise of each generation. Theosophy lays a stupendous map of cosmological and human evolution which helps us discern our heritage and purpose in the scheme of things. However, to realize and embody each level of the ‘ladder’s rung,’ one is left to one’s individual efforts with complete freedom of thought and action.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Any of HPB’s writings has always had a special resonance for me. However, I am grateful to other writers like Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater, and I. K. Taimni, who have made the abstruse teachings more readily comprehensible. I think it behoves each generation to rephrase the ageless wisdom into the particular diction and context of the time.  

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

The center is not international enough. The management for the past 20 years or so has been rather declining, stifling growth and innovation. The current President has enjoyed too much power and many important decisions continue to be made by a few individuals. In order for Adyar to grow, the General Council needs to engage more in Adyar’s everyday affairs, placing sound balanced checks of power and decision making. This means that the international bylaws and governing structure need to be updated and amended so ambiguities may be removed.  Allocation of funds needs special attention. As for example, the Archives department is in total disarray last time I was there. Precious old documents have become so tattered that I am afraid they are beyond repair.

On the whole, I am disappointed by the lack of communication that exists between Adyar and its Sections. Many members simply do not know what is really happening at our International center. It is high time that the General Council, supposedly the governing body of the Theosophical Society, become more proactive and engaging.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

Yes. I would want stronger ties between TS Adyar and all of its sections and groups. General Council Meetings can be held in cyberspace more regularly instead of the usual once a year.  This way, we will be increasing worldwide interaction and cooperation, in addition to making governance more transparent and meaningful. We need to give less power to an individual person such as the international President by introducing balanced checks. If these measures do not become the norm, I am afraid the reason for being connected to a center such as Adyar will lose its purpose and significance.  

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John Kern and Joy Mills

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is John Kern. My father became a member of TSA in the 1920s; I joined on my return from WW II in 1946. My wife and I live in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I have since 1966 been the Directing Trustee of the Kern Foundation, working with TS organizations and universities in the U.S. in support of broadening public awareness of Theosophy,  serving as chair of the TSA’s endowment (Theosophical Investment Trust) and advisor to the TSA Board of Directors.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

Through reading the books my father had in our library and discussing them with him, especially while a teen, Man: Whence, How and Whither, with its science-fiction style stories. With my later MIT education, I learned that, when utilizing personal-observation techniques, the observer almost inevitably affects what they are observing, though this does not mitigate the implications which can be drawn from the affected observations.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

An opening to partial understanding of our place in an on-going life cycle, and our obligation to be of service to all.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Can’t tie it down to one. I remember most those early classic books I read as a child. But having sponsored the Quest Book publishing from its beginning, appreciate the broader readership coverage we are achieving today.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

Coming back together as one brother/sisterhood body with differing views but a common fellowship and support for each other, hopefully less hierarchical and more democratic at our level of evolution.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical movement?

Continued support for wonderful work like you are doing, and like we at the Kern Foundation are supporting, such as through the young people at the national center of the TSA, who are constantly developing their web site and social networking to bring many more people worldwide into contact with Theosophy.


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Loes Moreno BF

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Loes Moreno BF. I am from Holland and have been a member of the TS since 1997.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I was a board member for twelve years of the Amsterdam Lodge, and I worked as a volunteer at the headquarters of the Dutch Section in Amsterdam. Last year I was chosen as a board member of the Section, and also chosen as a member of the activities committee, responsible for organizing events. Apart from that, I help out in our bookstore once a week and assist at the International Theosophical Centre in Naarden during the various meetings organized there.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

That was when I was searching for something else. One day I visited a lecture given by Paul Zwollo, a well-known Dutch Theosophist, and from that day on I was connected with the Society. The year before Paul passed away, I worked with him and Els Rijneker, the current General Secretary of the Dutch Section, at the Adyar Archives compiling an exhibition featuring Henry Olcott, which was displayed during the international convention held that year.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

It means the full learning process in order to come upon self-realisation, which is not very simple.  It includes the study of perennial wisdom, but above all Theosophy means that we must learn to work together with others, who all seem to be different in character, but who in reality are identical to us.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

For me it is still Isis Unveiled, because this book is the first introduction to the great work of the Masters. Also love the series Old Diary Leaves by Henry Olcott, in which he describes the history of the TS.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

Working together and looking at the future. If we do that, we’ll see that there are many good workers who should be given the chance to do the necessary work. Furthermore, in our organization we will have to face the challenge to finally learn to really listen to each other, throwing any form of prejudice overboard.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

We ought to face up to our reality and circumstances, so I wish that through hard and dedicated work we do create a new and bright future, forgetting the ego, serving the cause.


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Roger Price

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

Roger Price and I have been a member for 26 years.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

Although I was active in the English section until the mid 90s, helping run the meditation group, giving talks for lodges and generally helping out, since I moved to Belgium I have been less involved in the TS except occasionally giving lectures and helping out with international events. For the last few years I’ve been trying to clarify and write about the path of spiritual transformation in the Theosophical teachings.

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

From quotations in a book I was reading from the Secret Doctrine, and then I saw an advert in the Guardian newspaper about the TS which led to my attending and becoming a member. Interestingly, my interest in “spiritual” things was begun with a book by Ernest Wood, an earlier prominent Theosophist when I was 16.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

I have been interested in many spiritual teachings but it is only Theosophy that touches me so deeply because both my intuition and intellect lead me to feel that it points towards “truth” and the underlying reality.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine because it gives such a broad and deep presentation of humanity’s place and purpose in the Universe, its true nature and the evolutionary journey that lies ahead, which to my knowledge cannot be found anywhere else.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

A renewing of the inspiration in the truth of Theosophy and its value for humanity, for which the TS as an organisation is here to promote in a spirit of universal brotherhood.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical movement?

That it will be able to bring the essence of the Theosophical writings about the divine nature of humanity and the laws inherent in life in a clear and modern way such that they will be intuitively understandable and helpful for those who are open to them to help them recognise their spiritual nature and deal with the difficult problems facing humanity.

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Preethi Muthiah

1.    What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Preethi Muthiah. I am from India. I had been a member of the TS since May 1994 to October 2010. I recently withdrew my membership from the TS Adyar, but I will continue to work for Theosophy and for the upliftment of humanity.

2.    Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?


I used to be active in my Lodge (Adyar Lodge, Chennai)/Section (Indian Section) till May 2009. I attended all the meetings of my Lodge; gave lectures both at the Lodge and at the Indian Section Convention (December 2007). In April 2009 I led a study camp on the Mahatma Letters to AP Sinnett at the NOIDA Theosophical Lodge at New Delhi, India. Since 24 May 2009, most people who visit certain social networking sites on the Internet came to know of me while I was raising my voice against the actions of the current group of administrators of the international headquarters at Adyar. Well, I’ve done my part and now I am moving on, travelling through India, to discover my gifts and what I am here to do!

3.    How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

Truthfully, I was called to Adyar as She appeared in my night-time dreams regularly since 1989, at which time I did not even know of her existence. I discovered her existence on the physical plane in January 1994, when my mother, Mrs Radha Muthiah—who also worked there in various capacities till recently—desired to work at Adyar on a voluntary basis.

4.      What does Theosophy mean to you?

Life and the living of it.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, for in it are given all the guidelines one needs in order to follow the higher life, the pointers to the pitfalls one will meet on the Path, and a brief glimpse into the enormity of a Master’s consciousness.

6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

I think the biggest challenge facing the TS today is that it still promotes the hierarchical way as the only way to run an organization. With the onset of the Aquarian Age, the emphasis has moved from hierarchy to equality. This needs to be implemented in the TS as well. Coincidentally, according to TS literature, the next Root Race will be characterized by human beings who have developed their higher mental faculties. Unless we are given the freedom and space to explore the potentials of the mind and to question the validity of its assumptions, we cannot reach to that mature state where equality exists. We are meant to be co-workers with the Masters, rather than their slaves; thus developing one’s intelligence is of paramount importance to them.

7.    Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical movement?

I will limit myself to the Adyar Society, since that is the group I am familiar with, so, first and foremost choose a wise international President the next time. Someone who is guided by the higher laws and knows how to guide those placed under her/him in the organization and on the Path. I think the rest would naturally fall into place.Without a firm rooting in ethics, brotherhood is impossible, and our ethical stance is rather weak, if not rapidly decaying at the moment.

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