The Society

Mini–interviews Fourth 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.



Monica Maghiar

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

My name is Monica Maghiar. Originally from Romania, I'm now living at Madre Grande Monastery in Dulzura, California. I'm a member of the Paracelsian Order, a Theosophical group. I joined the International Theosophical Conference four years ago in Petaluma.

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

I'm a monk and also Secretary of the Monastery. We emphasize both healing and teaching. I actively assist other monks and friars in maintaining a sacred space conducive to authentic spiritual progress. We find it a common challenging endeavor and we encourage others to join our efforts.

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

I first learned about The Paracelsian Order from the Abbott, John Drais. I listened to him reading The Voice of the Silence on a CD. He communicated a remarkable energy I had rarely encountered before. When I contacted him, I learned this was part of an entire path for altruistic self-development open to everyone. Theosophy! He invited me to review similar works at Madre Grande's library. I followed his advice, and my son and I began full-time residency there in 2006.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy provides wisdom that enables us to live life to the fullest. It accomplishes this by showing us how to utilize every moment in service to others and to our highest aims. Its teachings are extraordinary tools by which we learn how to share our spiritual progress with others while still respecting their unique personalities and opinions. In this way, humanity's brotherhood is not simply acknowledged but concretely supported.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Voice of the Silence. It is incredibly comprehensive, unfolding so many subtle and yet powerful insights. For me, it has become a manual for successful living.

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

Without a doubt, its biggest challenge lies in continuing their work toward unifying the Theosophical movement worldwide.

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

I hope it strengthens its determination and thereby acquires the power to create more Theosophical schools.

 


Carolyn Dorrance



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

My name is Carolyn Dorrance. I was born in the state of Massachusetts in USA and primarily lived there until I graduated from Mount Holyoke College.  After traveling in Europe and the Middle East, studying in New York City and teaching in Virginia, I moved to Santa Barbara, California to complete my academic studies. There I discovered Theosophy. I have been an Associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists for forty-three years.

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

Among my activities at the ULT in Santa Barbara are giving Sunday night talks and participating in and sometimes leading study classes. For the last few years I have served as the coordinator for the production of the quarterly journal Vidya and helped organize in Santa Barbara a forerunner of the annual ITC conference in 2005.

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

Soon after becoming a student at the University of California in Santa Barbara, I was given a program card for the new ULT study group. After some hesitant, abortive efforts, I attended a talk given by Nandini Iyer and heard her explain some ideas that I had thought about when I was 17 and never had mentioned to anyone. I was immediately “hooked” and continued my introduction to Theosophy under the tutelage of Nandini and her husband, Raghavan Iyer. I signed the associate card a few months after the study group became a Lodge.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy means connection – connection with the Masters of Wisdom and the great galaxy of sages, adepts and teachers who offer a pathway to the  understanding of what is true and good, -- connection to the initiators of the modern Theosophical Movement, H. P. Blavatsky and William Quan Judge, -- connection to contemporary students and teachers who keep alive the current of Theosophia so that all who seek and sift a teaching that enlivens one’s insights can develop self-knowledge and experience brotherhood in a  community of like-minded learners.

Theosophy means peace – the peace of knowing that there is a teaching that nurtures the inner Self and guides one’s choices so that one isn’t awash in options and anxieties thrown up by the shadows and illusions of the lower mind.

Theosophy means challenges – the challenge of learning vast and complex metaphysics from The Secret Doctrine, -- the challenge of developing self –knowledge and meditative discipline, -- the challenge of learning to understand and interact with others in a way that expresses real solidarity.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I find that each Theosophical book becomes a favourite in one’s cycles of study. Never will I forget the lengthy “time outs” to study The Secret Doctrine and related literature. Currently, my “favourite” is The Friendly Philosopher with its collection of letters, talks and essays of Robert Crosbie. His elucidation of Theosophical teaching is clear, inspiring, philosophically to the point and full of supportive advice relevant to contemporary life. Reading just one paragraph can take the mind to awareness of the Spirit that unites all and nurtures all. In breaks from the busy engagement in the practical duties of life, Mr Crosbie’s teaching reminds us that there are no “breaks” and that everyone we encounter is part of the community of mankind.

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

The biggest challenge for Theosophical organizations is to offer in a relevant and uncompromising way the core teachings of Theosophy while innovating the methods of that offering. In a way, Theosophical organizations are challenged by the success of the Theosophical movement. Theosophical teachings are everywhere, and seekers of truth may find intimations of truth, spiritual experience and moral guidance in a variety of groups and settings. The philosophical study of Theosophical ideas may not appeal to those attracted by more active psychic or ritualistic practices, some of which may be quite  shadowy. Mankind is now offered a rich feast of spiritual and social teachings in a “New Age” of competing claims. But each student must sift through these offerings and experiment with their practical value. This process of sifting and developing self-chosen paths for the assimilation of true ideas will go on slowly and invisibly for decades, indeed for centuries without certain confirmations of its results. Meanwhile dogmatic movements create violent environments in which personalities are intimidated and the promise of soul thought is hidden.

Small groups of students engaged in formal meetings within Theosophical organizations may seem isolated and irrelevant to the great unfoldment of Self-consciousness and the new opportunities for individual growth and interaction.   Yet that steady persistence in the concentrated study of Theosophy even by a few and the effort to apply these teachings in daily life will, we are assured, place stepping stones for many others in the path of true self-realization and encourage the experience of human solidarity. 

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

I would wish that the original teachings of Theosophy be preserved and successfully disseminated all over the world. I wish that all participants in Theosophical organizations and study groups get to know one another in truly fraternal ways while recognizing the different ways in which various organizations contribute to the mission of the Theosophical movement. I wish that students of Theosophy would learn more about the ancient and persistent expression of Theosophia in civilizations of the past. Most importantly, I wish that Theosophy would contribute significantly to the reduction of violence in our contemporary world.




Ebrony Peteli


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

My name is EBRONY PETELI. I was born and live in Zambia Africa. I came into contact with Theosophy in 1985 while in High School. I remained in touch and officially joined the TS in 1988 in Mufulira

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

I am very active in the Mufulira Lodge and am currently Assistant General Secretary in the East and Central Africa Section of the TS Adyar

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

In October 1985, a childhood friend had borrowed a book. When I needed it back he didn’t want to return it that day. As he walked away I followed him up and missed him in the crowd as it was finishing time. I made several inquiries, only to find him in the Library Store Room where TS meetings where being held.  It was then a small study group, but the fire is still burning ever since.  The pioneers of this group were all teachers. Only my friend and I were pupils.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is somehow my religion. It is not a path yet a path. IT is a neutral ground for seekers after truth. Theosophy provides insight and a platform understanding the unity, oneness and interconnectedness of life.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine, although I have not read it directly. Also The Masters and the Path by CWL, books by Clara Codd,  Geoffrey Hodson’s  The Hidden Wisdom in the Bible and the recently published, Esoteric World of Madam Blavatsky.
6.    What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?

Administration: relating to succession to the office of International President and democracy in elections.  The principle challenge is selflessness.

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

That members come to a practical understanding and appreciation of Unity, Purpose and Love.



Helena Kerekhazi

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

My name is Helena Kerekhazi.

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

Currently, I co-teach the Monday night The Secret Doctrine Study Class at ULT NY. I started with assignments when I was 14 and became a member then in 1973. I started giving talks at about 20; taught Theosophy school for many years; helped plan the annual gatherings; co-planned the 1993 World Parliament in Chicago. Celebrating 40 years soon my oh my!

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

My best friend was looking for a babysitting job and a Dutch woman hired her so she could study at ULT NY. After they discussed the class, and my friend said I have to go too, I got the job. After they got home from class, I said sorry you have to hire someone else, I want to go too! She was delighted and we studied Theosophy for many years together.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

It’s where I learn everything I really need to know.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I love The Key to Theosophy, Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge and the Bhagavad Gita is very dear to me. I really enjoy The Commentaries now also. The articles are very handy.

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

Adyar? I don’t know them perhaps as well as I should. I have heard some say they have difficulty with Westerners, well at times I do too.  Maybe each case is individual; but perhaps culturally we have bridges to build still. I have met some Adyar Theosophists and they seem to be quite lovely people; and some are thoroughly amazing in the reach and range of their work for that orphan, humanity.

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

As H. P. B. would say:  “Keep the Link Unbroken.”What Link?  Some people take that oh too literally and physically I’m afraid as opposed to the Spiritual Link. I think this has caused far too many problems and splits in the Movement that would have had her reeling and railing.



Jeffrey Forth

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

Jeffrey S. Forth, born Racine, Wisconsin.  Joined the TS in September 15, 1973, became a vegetarian after hearing Muriel Zupa talk about it, after fasting for a week, when I was 17. I have not gone back to eating meat since.

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

Currently I am a “member-at-large”, that is not attending a lodge. I was a staff member in 1975 to 1976 at the American Section. I was also a staff member from 1977 through 1981 at the American Section; Dora Van Gelder’s and my letters crossed in the mail, me asking for a position there and her offering me a position. I stayed at the Theosophical Society in America during my separation, and worked painting and fixing up the national headquarters in return for room and board, under Dorothy Abbenhouse’s administration.

Served as National Secretary from 2005 to 2010, one month shy of 5 years. I volunteered for the Humanitarian Service Project donating my time to print their Christmas Project newsletters.
Was active for over 5 years in the Therapeutic Touch Group that met at the national headquarters
I was also active in Woodridge Quest Study Center assisting with administrative questions concerning local groups. I am currently an active Liberal Catholic Priest using Theosophical concepts in homilies.

Have brought Theosophical concepts and ideas to thousands of people in personal conversations over the years, also using school papers and currently using Facebook wall to provide basic Theosophical Concepts and idea’s, mostly as theories. Was first to produce a Young Theosophist Group on MySpace during my tenure as National Secretary and this served as the stepping-stone for our current social media presence.

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

I first heard the word when I was 15 years old, from a woman, perhaps a member, who told me about this organization near Chicago, (fuzzy on that). Relocated to another state shortly after that and met people who were into paranormal phenomena, psychics and mediums. I learned about the Theosophical Society through them, and visited the Buffalo Lodge several times prior to joining. Heard John Coats speak there once.  I also had a dream when I was seven years old, talking to men in white robes and wondering what it would be like to live forever and ever.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

To me Theosophy is a way of life, its concepts of reincarnation (once human always human) and the law of karma explains the vast inequalities in people’s lives, and state of world affairs. I am most intrigued with the concept of being a monadic spark, expressing myself through a causal body, and a personality. Theosophy provides a tangible reality to our unlimited potential as human beings.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

It’s a toss-up, I have many favourite books. Favourite authors are C.W. Leadbeater and Geoffrey Hodson, along with Dora VanGelder Kunz, and Annie Besant. First Theosophical book I read was Masters and the Path, and that has kept me inspired since I read it when 17. I also like Science of the Sacraments, Light of the Sanctuary, Thus Have I Heard, The Personal Aura, and am currently reading Talks with a Class by Annie Besant.

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

I think that the Theosophical Society has to become more customer service oriented, i.e. people friendly. Too often I have heard that our more experienced members get too deep, too quickly, with very difficult material, while not thinking that even the most basic concepts, such as karma, reincarnation (once human always human), and the non physical planes of matter are daunting to someone exposed to theosophy or a theosophical group for the first time. In addition, some members, however well intentioned, when they become leaders at a local, regional, national, and international level, can be forgetful of the idea that we are here to serve others. Some leaders can and do over stay their productive time in those positions, which impedes progress. I see that some members become cliquish, and form "in groups" and "out groups," missing opportunities to be of service to those in the out group. The Masters have stated that we must appeal to what we have in common with one another, and I believe this means seeing the spiritual essence in each. None of us are perfect, yet often in a small global community such as ours, rumors and gossip abound, sometimes with statements designed to hurt others, which can kill their drive and enthusiasm to work for the society's goals. We do not have to perpetuate the conflictual nature of the early society, since that time has passed. We should be encouraging harmony, and building a sense of community, where everyone feels welcome. On a different note, I think that the society has been successful in creating a tremendous thought form, influencing and updating the world of thought for everyone, with its literature, lectures, and other work. This awareness can be seen in tolerance for religious and cultural diversity, greater belief in the continuation of life after death, (the movie Ghost and the 1960's television show Topper are illustrations), and personal accountability for ones actions and thoughts, (illustrated in the popular saying, what goes around comes around). Customer service should be that someone is always available for inquiries with a genuine interest in the other, as opposed to having to leave a telephone message, or someone standing outside closed doors during times regular businesses are open.  We all add a brick to thought form of theosophy, with our actions and thoughts. To grow as an organization, we have to embody a helpful attitude, and welcoming spirit, and not get caught up in the idea that we have the only way up the mountain of enlightenment.


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

Customer Service, how many times have I called the Theosophical Society in America’s headquarters only to find a recorded voice on the phone and a maze of press this button or that, or leave a message and someone will call you back, how inconvenient to the caller. There is something to be said for a friendly voice, willing to help an answer questions. I hear Adyar has limited times for visitors and members to visit the compound, and that many family members reside there, and consider it their estate. I think this type of family habitation on what could be considered every members land, is what prompted the Roman Catholic Church to forbid priests to marry and have families. The future of the T.S. is largely in the digital realm, as it is for many other corporations. Members must walk the talk and not talk the walk. Thereby being examples and beacons of light to all they meet.




Joma Sipe

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

My name is Joma Sipe, I live in Porto, Portugal and although I am not a member of TS, I sympathize with the objectives, programs and the main ideas of TS.

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

I am not active in any Lodge/Section.

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

I first learnt about Theosophy when I was fifteen years old. I soon began by reading Theosophical literature in the public library where I found ancient books in Portuguese by Blavatsky and Besant. The knowledge on these books rapidly passed from “ancient” to “modern” and I found a language that was clear and not new to me. Then I soon realized a profound and inexplicable deep inner connection with Blavatsky, as a person and as a teacher. I had the opportunity to read Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, The Voice of Silence, amongst other texts by H. P. B.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

For me Theosophy is a word that describes the connection with the Divine Wisdom. By contributing with texts and knowledge to the general public, Theosophy also contributes to the way men seek to approach the Divine and each human being to His Essence and to His Self. Theosophy is a way to understand the world, visible and invisible, and to try to explain both, using the knowledge left by many teachers from the past and the knowledge that is appearing in the present. It prepares man for the achievement of its major objective: to know himself.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

My favourite Theosophical book is The Voice of Silence by H. P. B. I feel a deep connection with the text and with the symbolic images. For me, reading it is like re-learning the real truth about myself and about who I really am. It becomes a bridge between me and my Soul. The language is very symbolic and I can somehow link the images and the words. For me it is like being transported to another world, the World of the Soul, where the ego is apart and my Essence reveals Itself to me without barriers of any kind. It is a special book, because it was translated in 1916 by Fernando Pessoa, a great Portuguese writer and student of H. P. B.

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

NO Answer ...

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

I wish the Theosophical Movement can continue to respect the objectives for which it was created back in 1875. I hope that it continues to be open to all kinds of faiths, beliefs and opinions, because everyone has something to share with others. And Wisdom is really that, to share what each one has learnt from life. The maintenance of the Theosophical Movement is very important because it forms a real Brotherhood of persons that are interested in knowing more about themselves and the world, and such a Group will become in the future the equilibrium between mankind.




Shirley J. Nicholson

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

Shirley  J. Nicholson. I live at Krotona Institute of Theosophy in Ojai, California. I have been a TS member over 65 years.

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

I am a member of the local lodge.  I was the chief editor for Quest Books for ten years.  I was director of the The Krotona School of Theosophy for seven years and head of Krotona Institute for about eight years.

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

I learned about Theosophy from my brother while I was in high school and came in contact with the local lodge a couple of years later.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy has been a major part of my life and thought for many decades.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

H. P. B.’s The Voice of the Silence

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

I know that Adyar is short of workers at present and needs more capable people on the staff. 

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

I would also like for Adyar to try make the world-wide members and groups more in harmony with one another.  I would like the majority of members to have a good understanding of what the literature teaches and also the importance of living in a brotherly way and appreciating one another.


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