The Society

Mini–interviews Second Quarter 2012

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.

 


Gaspar Torres

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

Gaspar Torres, originally from Cuba, living at the Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California since May 2011. March 11, 2012, was the 55th anniversary of my TS membership.

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

I have been active in the TS since my early youth. In my original Lodge and Section, the Dharma Lodge of the Cuban Section, in Matanzas, I have helped in every way and held all their Board posts. In the Cuban Section I was National President and National Treasurer for several terms. I have made presentations at Adyar, in the Caribbean Basin, for the Inter-American Theosophical Federation and Krotona, and have contributed to the work of other TS Sections, Centers, and Lodges internationally. Since last November I have also been actively participating twice monthly in the Logia España, the Spanish-speaking branch in North Hollywood, giving talks as requested.

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

I was born into a Theosophical family, so I have heard about Theosophy since my childhood.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is the Divine Wisdom transmitted to Humanity through the symbols and allegories that the human mind is capable of understanding.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine by H.P.B., because it is the best and most practical synthesis of Theosophy, if we accept Master K.H.’s words about the writing of this book in one of his letters to A.P. Sinnett.

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

I believe that the biggest challenge, not only of The T. S. Adyar, but of all the organized forms of spiritual help to Humanity, is to maintain the purity of the original purposes of the Founders without any kind of bias or mixture of these purposes with worldly interests.

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

Understanding between all branches of the Theosophical Movement and their reunification in the original purpose of disseminating Theosophy without criticism of or resentment toward any form or opinion of participating individuals or branches.

 

 


Gene Jennings

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

My name is Eugene Jennings, and I am currently residing in the Pennsylvania area. I have been affiliated with the New York City ULT since the mid 1970’s until 1988. Thereafter I relocated to the California area and affiliated with the Los Angeles ULT until 1999. From 1999 to current I have reconnected with the New York City ULT.

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

I remain active in the New York lodge as time allows, contributing to the Wednesdays classes as chair person, when not conflicting with my work schedule; contributing to the Sunday evening presentations by giving talks, answering questions or participating on panels; and contributing to the quarterly NYC – Philadelphia – Washington inter-lodge symposium meetings when scheduled throughout the year.

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

My first contact was with ULT. I read about HPB and Theosophy during my formative years in a work written by “Vera Alder”. Very shortly thereafter I came across two advertisements simultaneously in the NY “Village Voice”, a paper I never read, but one, which someone had left, in my house one afternoon. Browsing through it, I came across lectures being given on Theosophy, one by the ULT, and the other by the TS. Finding this an interesting and timely coincidence I decided to go. Yet I had to choose as they were on the same day. Then I recalled a statement by Vera Alder in her book attributed to HPB, “Spiritual Knowledge can never be brought or sold”. Since the ULT meeting was free, and that of the TS had a cost, I went to the NYC ULT Lodge, and have been affiliated with it and Theosophy since that time.

4.     What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy to me is Universal Brother/Sisterhood, it is equivalent to the Paradigm of all form, its Essence, Ground and Being. It is the Causal Ground and Eternal Truth of wisdom, the path to acquire it, and the practice whereby one “Consciously Becomes It”, for the benefit and service of all Life. It is the symbolic representation of that greater unspoken and unspeakable truth that can only be realized in the silence of our Eternal and Divine Natures. And it is through and according to such a realization that one begins the daily practice to awaken the “self reflective and self conscious” faculty within one’s Eternal nature that allows one to understand the Esoteric Implications within the words of the Theosophical Teachings. Finally Theosophy is that science which points to and eventually helps one Become that Highest Wisdom embracing all knowing, Action, Evolutionary expression, Service and Duty in or out of bodily existence.

5.     What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

My favorite “two” works, which compliment each other, are HPB’s Secret Doctrine, and her commentaries on the Pistis Sophia. For myself, taken together, and following her leads, references and teachings, these both illuminate each other, and demonstrate the actual objective path as it exists for humanity, subjective and objectively. It demonstrates that there is a structure and paradigm of great nature, and how one must act and live in order to become one of the helpers, if not destroyed out of wrong motive during the process. It makes clear how subjectivity becomes objectivity and one makes progress onwards and inwards to arrive at the first (of several) level of the goal, which is the self-reflective conscious appreciation of One’s “Spiritual and Eternal Ego”, which again is no personal ego. And from here it points out even higher levels to be realized and the responsibility that accompanies such realization in the service of all. Theosophy means this and yet so much more.

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

The biggest challenge for the Theosophical movement currently may involve overcoming the glamour associated with the products and modern day magic of technology, immediate sensual gratification, and lost of mindfulness regarding others and self. This is in fact causing many (individually, collectively and nationally) to use less and less of their human and soul based skills, and generating more and more a reliance on technological advancement. Instead of bringing us for the time closer to our true selves and in greater search of our spiritual natures, it appears to be doing the opposite. (This is not to say that such technology cannot be used for spiritual awakening for in some quarters it is being used just for that reason, but in general, how it is being used by the bulk of humanity.) Becoming enmeshed in and infatuated with technology, as we are enmeshed in and deluded by our bodies, the exercise of effort, discipline, study, cultivation of mental and moral powers, and the practices conducive to spiritual unfolding run the risk of being lost individually and globally. Having said that, it should also be appreciated that technological development can be and is in some circles being used to foster global awareness compassion communication and spiritual growth. As usual, it would be using the technological in the service of the personal as opposed to using it for the benefit, and in the service of the immortal that is the great obstacle. Just as HPB had to work against the current of the crass spiritualism of her day, trying to clarify and teach truth, so technology in its way poses a formidable challenge.

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

I would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement, individuals that are selfless, who understand the global stakes, who practice and live the life, thereby knowing the teaching. Such individuals, no matter where, will be able to see behind the transitory masks of personality and lower vehicles, awaken to the utter emptiness of apparent objects in their relation to the soul, and thereby sense the great purpose of the Theosophical movement as it silently infiltrates all scientific, philosophic and spiritual disciplines to bring out their great truths related to the greater divine and global truths. Understanding that purpose and using the universal language and teachings of the original message of Theosophy and its Roots, they will succeed in bringing the humanity of the world closer together in spiritual awareness, unity and living, such that we may hasten the arrival of those great souls whose duty it is to bring in the new ages, rounds and humanities, living according to the great precepts of spiritual morality, brother and sisterhood thus contributing to the evolutionary development of the global life.




Ing-Brit Wiklund

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

Ing-Britt Wiklund, I am from Sweden. I have been member of TS, Adyar, since 1973.

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

I am active in the Örebro-group of TS and also in the Swedish board. Earlier I was chairman of the section for eighteen years. Now I am just a member of the board and also editor of our magazine Tidlös Visdom (Timeless Wisdom).

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

I was interested in spiritual questions and read a lot. My mother-in-law was a member of TS and once when I tried to talk to my husband about these things he phoned his mother and gave the phone to me. She asked me to come with her to next TS-meeting. That was the way it started.

4.   What does Theosophy mean to you?

It means a lot. It gave my life a meaning. Everything is a part of the whole. Whatever we do or what happens, it has a meaning and is important for the whole. It makes me more humble and I hope more unselfish. I really try.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?


It is hard to find just one, but I like what we used to call “the small books with the great message”, Light on the Path, At the Feet of the Master and The Voice of the Silence. They give me something new every time I read them because I have changed and can understand a little bit more. Among the new books I like Ancient Wisdom – Modern Insight (Shirley Nicolson) and Reincarnation Explored (John Algeo). They give the Ancient Wisdom for people of today.

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

I think it is to meet the people of today in their every-day-life. To give them an entrance to the ancient wisdom, help them to find the first step and then give them time to read and listen and to understand that it must take its time. Everything is going to be so fast nowadays and we must reach young people. As an organization I think the TS must not be afraid to change, the international organization must acknowledge that the TS is an organization of today and listen to its members, make the charters modern, otherwise we will lose members, in particular young people.   

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

See my answer above (6)

 

 


Ingmar de Boer

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

Ingmar de Boer, I live in Naarden, The Netherlands and have been a member since 1989.

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

I am active in lodge work and voluntary work at the International Theosophical Centre, Naarden.

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

My first encounter with Theosophy was with a copy of The Secret Doctrine that drew my attention in the local library.  Much later I visited the lodge for the first time attending a lecture on astrology in relation to a Theosophical world view.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

It represents, among other things, a vision for the future. The ideal of a brotherhood of mankind, to me, is not only a fact of nature which is to be recognized by us, but also a perspective for society on a global scale. As an ideal, it is as difficult as it is essential.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine is still my favourite. Another (perhaps less obvious) work would be Bhagavan Das’ The Science of Peace. This work is philosophically orientated, like The Secret Doctrine when understood at a certain level. 

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

I would avoid using the term “challenge” for the TS Adyar. Sometimes people tend to think negatively about the TS, its growth and development. Instead we could try to project a vision for the future, a clear, well defined idea of where the TS is now or should be going in the near future. The present TS has so many different aspects to it, that it is not easy to formulate a clear picture.

Moreover, I think the right publicity is very important. Letting the world know what the TS is about, and of course reformulating its essential ideas for our time, and the near future. Waiting for “divine providence” to direct new members to a lodge is in my opinion a bad strategy. Unfortunately this view on publicity is still held by some.

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

I think it would be nice if the TS enters a new phase, respecting the old but embracing the new, making younger people feel at home in the society, while on the other hand providing enough possibilities for development and deepening wisdom for older members. Different levels may all be addressed at the same time or in succession, true spirituality always being the guiding principle.




Jacques Mahnich

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

My name is Jacques Mahnich. My mother's family came from Croatia and immigrated to France at the beginning of the twentieth century. My father was from Brittany since generations. Now retired, together with my spouse Anne-Marie we have had 4 kids, and 3 grand-children, and we live in France. I joined the French Theosophical Society in 1978.

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

I am currently taking care of one Lodge in Paris, the “Branche Saint-Jean”, which was revived recently by the President of TS France. I am involved since the beginning of this year in providing Theosophical courses at the headquarters in Paris, together with talks and translation of articles for the Lotus Bleu. Aside from these activities, I am also member of the TOS France, sponsoring Tibetan students in India.

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

Since early in my life, I have been searching and looking for an understanding of life. I discovered and studied Eastern traditions, and one day, just passing in front of an old library in Marseille, I just spotted a pile of used books named “La Doctrine Secrète” from Mme Blavatsky. This was the beginning of the story. I then joined the Marseille Theosophical Group and learned all I could regularly participating in meetings, Summer Camps and Events.

Since, the family has been moving around the world for the last 40 years, including two stays in the USA (Cincinnati, OH and Binghamton, NY), I have had the opportunities to get in contact with other Theosophical streams. And since the beginning of the internet age, I have been active on many Theosophical forums. This new communication media is also another opportunity to discover and work with Theosophists from all countries. Recently, and together with other scholars, we have opened a web site dedicated to the study of the origin of the Stanzas of Dzyan.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

An unique tradition free of dogmas (at least in the original proposal) and full of tracks to explore. It is like a map in the jungle of life. It is a road for the never-ending quest for reality. It is an encyclopaedia of the world's traditions. And it is a vehicle for the incarnation of altruism. Putting in motion the first Objective of the TS is a concrete way to participate actively to the reduction of suffering in the world.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Having a scientific mind, The Secret Doctrine remains my principal focus, together with The Voice of Silence, which talks directly to the heart.

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

An organization is a living organism made of men and women who, from a common understanding and allegiance to some root principles, are combining their skills and energies to fulfil the objectives of the group. It is not a static entity and most importantly, it does not exist as a stand-alone entity apart from the world communities. Therefore, it has to “re-invent itself” on a regular basis, to adapt to the evolving environment. The world of today is no more the world of 1875, even the world of the 1970's. For the last 35 years, the world is experiencing a definite acceleration everywhere, which brings large evolution (revolution) in the ways people are living, interacting, growing together. It may look like if the world is “going mad” with the ever-growing selfishness, the rampage of earth resources, real-time communications world-wide.... Modern science keep plunging more and more inside the tiniest bit of matter-energy and the biggest visible world-system to unravel their secrets.
Theosophy must play its role in this new page of mother Earth’s life. To do so, the TS must probably renovate itself; revisit its objectives and priorities in the light of what is going on. The decline in membership is not the major challenge. Leadership, which has always played a big role in the capability for the TS to transmit the teachings, will be key to the success.

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

A revival of its capabilities to actively provide guidance to help the evolution of the men and women who, are both suffering individually and also collectively are endangering the basis their own life support system.



Maria Widjaja

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

My name is Maria Widjaja, from Bandung on the beautiful island of Java in Indonesia. I have been member since February 1986.

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

From 2006 until 2009 I was the coordinator for West Java and I headed the Sophia Lodge. Having acted as treasurer and I currently have a study group at my home where all meetings are held. 

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

My father was a member of the LCC and when I was still a child he took me to St. Albanus Liberal Catholic Church, and made me join The Round Table.  At a later point in my life I got more acquainted with Theosophy itself.

4.   What does Theosophy mean to you?

Everything, Theosophy is my life, although I would not like to describe myself as being a fanatic.

5.   What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Perhaps I should first explain that our Lodge faces some problems with which we are trying to deal. By reading excerpts from The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett and some of N. Sri Ram’s books we extend our knowledge and get inspiration. Hopefully this inspiration will enable us to deal with the problems we are faced with. Actually, at this moment I don’t have a favorite Theosophical book. I read in order to come to understanding so that I can cope.

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


This is a difficult question. There are many problems, in the Sections as well as in some lodges.  Even though some or maybe even many have reported their problems to the TS headquarters in Adyar, it seems that we have to find the solutions all by ourselves, since no support is given. So, the biggest challenge could be to come to the establishment of a more involved leadership that really cares and guides.

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

We all wish for a better world.  The first Object is “To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color”. If that would be practiced by each member of the TS, could we wish for anything more for the future of the Theosophical Movement?  It’s a great pity, but seeing the reality of today, sometimes I think that outside the TS there are more Theosophists than inside the TS.




Pertti Spets

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

My name is Pertti Spets, I was born in Finland but I have lived in Sweden for forty eight years. I have been member in TS since 1974.

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

I have been the General Secretary in Sweden for eight years and board member since 1978. I also organize study groups in the TS. Currently we study I.K. Taimni’s Selfculture. Last year we studied the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali in The Science of Yoga. I also give lectures in both Sweden and Finland.

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

The first time I came in contact with Theosophy and the TS was when I lived in Finland, while attending lectures in Helsinki. I was twenty-two years old at the time.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy for me is the wisdom of life, a way of living and learning how to know myself. I study religion, philosophy and science. For me the understanding of Hindu, Buddhist and yoga philosophy and psychology is very important.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I.K. Taimni’s The Science of Yoga and HPB’s The Secret Doctrine. There you’ll find everything you need to know about the world and about yourself. These are books you can study for your entire life.

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 is to study and deepen our self knowledge and live up to what we have learned in practice, rather than to quote from books.  We should speak more from our own viewpoint. I hear too many lecturers who only point to all sorts of literature, but who do not speak about their personal experience or understanding. We need to study more seriously and bring what we have studied in practice, we should meditate more and that will eventually lead to self knowledge.

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

As mentioned in my answer to question six, deep study is required, in particular in lodges and groups. My sincere wish is that students will begin to understand that books only provide ideas but that reality is quite something else.  Simply said: theoretical ideas from books ought to be brought into practice!


Flowers from South India

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

M.L. Ramprakash. I have been an Associate of the ULT since about 1970

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

I am active in the Bangalore centre of the ULT. (South India)

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

I had been looking for answers to existential questions as to who we are and why we are here in life. That was in late 60’s and early 70’s and I was much disenchanted with whatever science or my religion offered. While on a walk on the road where the ULT is located I saw a board outside the building announcing a lecture that evening on Karma. I attended the lecture. It interested me and I continued to attend meetings and read W.Q.J., H.P.B. and Crosbie and found in them what I was searching for in this life.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Everything. It is my very life, my very self.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Key to Theosophy because it teaches practical application of Theosophy in life and The Voice of the Silence because it is the very Heart of Theosophy.

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


To do justice to Mr. W.Q. Judge by making public all the historical documents pertaining to the charges levelled against him by Mrs. Besant and Col. Olcott. They who throw mud in the face of the Teacher can neither benefit from the Teaching nor benefit the Cause of Theosophy. There cannot be a crime worse than doing injustice to another, especially to a righteous man who sacrificed his life for the Theosophical Cause.

To do justice to H.P.B. through reparation and removal of all those lines of conduct which H.P.B. pointed out in her article: Why I Do Not Return To India.

Restore Theosophy as given out by the accredited Messengers of Masters—H.P.B. and W.Q.J.—free from all later interpolations and uncalled for “improvisations.”

Reorganize and reform along the lines traced out by H.P.B., in letter and spirit, in her Five Messages to the American Theosophists 1888-1891.

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


T.M. being a name for spiritual and intellectual evolution of humanity, having begun in the night of time with the lighting up of the fire of Mind of mindless man 18 million and odd years ago, cycling through numberless civilizations, has reached ours, and will go on to the end of time, culminating in the perfection of such units of humanity as are morally fit, in the VII Race of the VII Round. The mighty universal Karmic and evolutionary law is irresistible and will go on along its appointed course which none can stay, whether we puny personalities remain indifferent or fail or succeed in our endeavours. It is like the Divine Ego which stands on high unaffected whether personalities fail or succeed—so much worse for the  personalities which fail to cling to it—but the Ego will go on in its appointed course, putting forth new personalities in place of those which failed or which it rejected as unworthy vehicles.

Perhaps the question could have been what one wishes for the corporate body of students who have voluntarily come together, inspired by the Message of Theosophy, to serve the Great Cause of Theosophy. That question has been answered by H.P.B. in the Key to Theosophy, in the last chapter, on “the future of the T.S.” What one can ever wish for the T.S. is it should remain loyal to the Messengers and Teachers—H.P.B. and W.Q.J.—Their Message and Their Teaching they called Theosophy, and work in unison, as one man, along the lines of study and work They have unambiguously laid down, which are all there plainly set forth in black on white.

Where are those lines of work laid down? They are to be found in the writings of HPB and W.Q.J: The Key to Theosophy, Five Messages of H.P.B to American Theosophists sent by her between 1888 and 1891 to the American conventions, and in number of articles by H.P.B and W.Q.J on TM and TS.

The body corporate to constantly monitor its course by referring to these guidelines and make mid-course corrections, whenever needed.

It will be very beneficial if all the many denominations of the TS agree to make a comprehensive compilation of all the guiding principles of Association, of study and work laid down by the Teachers, and resolve to make an honest self-appraisal in the light of those guiding principles, and to effect self-correction in order to better serve the Cause of Theosophy, and work united, untiringly, unselfishly for Theosophy along those lines. If we don’t, then in the Book of Life will the hand of Karma  make an entry—if it has not already done so—“Failure of the TS.”

 

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