The Society

Mini–interviews First Quarter 2013

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.


Edi Bilimoria

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

My name is Edi Bilimoria; I live in England and have been a member for 36 years.

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

No, because I have just resigned from the TS. Previously I was very active in England and recently in Australia where I was Education Coordinator for the Australian Section for two years.

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

By being inexplicably drawn to an advertisement I saw at Tottenham Court Road Station in London about the Theosophical Society’s bookshop opposite the British Museum (this was of course in the grand days of the English Section, now long past).

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

In the same way that Newton’s Laws of Motion explain the fundamental mechanical laws governing all physical matter in motion, so theosophia explains the spiritual laws that underpin life at all levels; as well as showing a path to transform book knowledge of those laws to their actual realization and direct experience.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

1. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton.
2. The original writings of Ramana Maharshi
3. The Heart of Religion by P. D. Mehta
4. The Secret Doctrine

Of these the Brunton Notebooks are in my opinion by far the most important. It is a CRIPPLING WEAKNESS of classical theosophical literature that whereas the grand scheme about Cosmos and Man is set out in eloquent detail there is virtually nothing at all on the PRACTICAL STEPS needed to embody these truths in our daily lives (other than a few early books by Annie Besant, and in the Voice of the Silence, which is hardly a book for the neophyte). There is no guidance on the ‘tools and techniques’ to convert the high level vision into ones daily experience. Interminable sermons and platitudes on unity and brotherhood achieve nothing other than throwing a smokescreen of glamour. What the Brunton teachings do is to make the individual face himself. Self-Inquiry: The Search for Self is vastly more important than occult theory on karma, or rounds and races or the principles of man.

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

To act as an active hub and focus for the worldwide Theosophical movement instead of being an isolated ivory tower detached from and totally unconcerned about the welfare of Theosophical sections in the rest of the world. For this to happen there would have to be a massive updating of the organization based on modern (not 19th century) management principles; and an even greater degree of goodwill and motivation.

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

To live up to (not merely talk about) its motto: ‘There is no Religion (dharma) Higher Than Truth’. This means putting the whole emphasis on inquiry rather than preaching a set of doctrines by H. P. B. or anyone else.



 


Eldon Tucker

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

I’m Eldon Tucker, currently of West Hills, California. I joined the Adyar T.S. when I was fourteen. I’ve belonged to the Salt Lake City Study Center, and the San Diego, Los Angeles, and Ojai lodges at different times, and am currently a National Member. I have an ULT Associate card on file at the Los Angeles lodge since February 1984, and joined the Pasadena T.S. in the early 1990s.

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

Currently, I’m not working on any projects, but attend two regular classes. One is an independent class on The Secret Doctrine, held at the home of Dara Eklund and Nicholas Weeks. The other is at the West Los Angeles Study Center on The Mahatma Letters, held at the home of Martin and Susan Leiderman.

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

At the age of fourteen, I bought some Leadbeater books mail order, then joined the Adyar T.S., and perhaps a year later learned of the Salt Lake City Study Center, which I began attending. While a college student, I spent three summers working as a volunteer on the camp crew of the Far Horizons Theosophical Camp in Northern California. I had read almost all of the books by Leadbeater and Besant, found little left to discover in them, considered reading Alice Bailey’s writings, and thought I could not further improve unless I became clairvoyant and developed paranormal powers like Leadbeater had claimed that he had.

While there, I met Ken Small, got some books by de Purucker, and found there was an enormous amount of information on Theosophy that I had previously missed. I lost my interest in Leadbeater and the paranormal. I became involved in Point Loma Publications and later joined the ULT and started attending classes by all the different groups. I also helped organize and work on the Theosophical Network of the 1980s, managing the content of the quarterly directory of Theosophical groups that we would mail out worldwide. I set up books for publication for PLP including some of Geoffrey Farthing’s, helped Carin Elin with problems with the index for the H. P. B. biography, actively participating on the theos-l and theos-talk mailing lists online, and published THEOSOPHY WORLD for many years as an independent Theosophical monthly e-zine.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?


It is a presentation of penetrating insights that require one to be a mystic to grasp. It has a scattering of details about life that are correct as far as they go, and sometimes about hidden, unseen worlds and experiences. It gives a foundation of philosophical principles upon which a good life could be led. It trains people, when it can, to develop insight into life, to move beyond thinking for themselves and understanding what they read, to have direct, clear, unique insights that weren’t told them. It has a content of doctrines that are useful to learn and ponder, but also is a practice with techniques leading to the development of insight into life. It is also a work of creativity, something artistic, something beautiful that can be admired. Like any good art, it communicates more than the artist intended. It acts as a springboard from which the person coming to it can be touched and changed.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Fundamentals of Esoteric Philosophy by G. de Purucker, because of the depth of the materials and how he presented them. They not only conveyed deep philosophical ideas, but also taught the reader to learn to think and arrive at them for themselves. The book taught both ideas and the practice of contemplating deeply and arriving at original insights that go beyond what one is reading.

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

It needs to emphasize the self-growth and empowering of people to find and make their individual contributions to the world. If it over stresses doctrines and beliefs, it will turn into a church and want a profession of faith for membership. If it over stresses a review of select authors, it will become like the Browning Society, a club for the shared enjoyment of the writings of a particular person or select group of people. If it only emphasises self-help classes, it will be no different like the multitude of self-actualization groups around. It is okay to be like others in many ways. It can do things that are not unique and different. The unique contribution might be the inspiration and passion for changing the world and the willingness to question everything that we know – that feeling that the founders of the T.S. held which only later became replaced and the pioneers passed on and the custodian mentality took over.

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

I like the deep philosophical ideas, and hope that they stay in public thought, rather than disappearing like languages do when they die. I hope the sectarianism and friction between different Theosophical groups will go away. With the advent of the internet and social networking sites, organizations are rapidly losing their ability to filter and control the thought life of their members, and organizations are getting less relevant as people can meet and do things easily without needing to be a member of any group. Profound people started the Theosophical movement. Even so, many marvellous people come in each generation, and they all add their own gifts to the world. I’d like to see that what came of the work started by Blavatsky can still do as much good as it might, even knowing that the world is never without exceptional people, always giving their best. We too do our best to help when we realize what is unique in us and show it concretely in the world.



Erwin Bomas

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

My name is Erwin Bomas. I am from The Hague, The Netherlands and I have been a member of The Theosophical Society Point Loma – Blavatskyhouse, The Hague since 2006.

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

I am active in all kinds of activities, I am webmaster of www.blavatskyhouse.org and a number of other websites, I am one of the speakers for our lecture program in several cities in The Netherlands, and this year I started as a course leader for our course Thinking Differently. I am also active for PLC (the yearly Point Loma Convivium in San Diego) and ITC (the yearly International Theosophy Conference).

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

My aunt Elly Teeuwen told me about the course Thinking Differently and I got interested. She gave me the course as a present when I got my master’s degree. Best present ever.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy means for me the way of life. Without any dogma, it offers all we need to understand, to know and to practice. It is the most practical philosophy of life and the most ethical. Its core teachings, such as the Seven Jewels of Wisdom, are companions for every choice or situation in life. So for me it means trying to live it everyday as much as I can, trying to be part of the ‘Ocean of Theosophy’ so I can make others taste it, tipping its shores or fathoming its depth.

5.    What is your favorite Theosophical book and why?

For me it is difficult to name just one. Maybe because what I find in a lot of Theosophical books have the same meaning? I can keep reading the Esoteric Instructions No. I & II and the Golden Precepts of Esotericism from G. de Purucker. The same holds true for the Proem of The Secret Doctrine. It is so fundamental; it lifts you up to Cosmic spheres. And I love the humor of H.P. Blavatsky in her writings, for instance in the introductory of The Secret Doctrine, the preface to The Key to Theosophy, the few words in The Voice of the Silence (‘with no kind regards’). Another favorite is The Esoteric Tradition from G. de Purucker for its clarity and the light Theosophy shines on modern science including several of the scientific dogma’s that are still popular today.But, although they are not public books, the courses Thinking Differently and Life Wisdom of D. J. P. Kok were my first introduction to Theosophy. For me they still hold the essence of Theosophy and provide the path to universal brotherhood step by step. They make you realize that brotherhood is a fact and not just a possibility, and also make you discover the path in yourself. Those courses have made me want to become a Theosophist. I frequently reread the lessons and discover new insights every time.  I also very much favor the works of Plato, the Tao Teh King and Mahâyâna Buddhist Sutra’s I have read so far.

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

I think one of the main challenges is to keep the teachings pure.  And for me pure means not fixed. Like water has to flow to keep pure.  For me it means to preserve the original literature, teachings and meaning as given by our Theosophical Leaders as much as possible. Meanwhile, trying to apply these teachings in daily practice and to make them a living power in life, so to become a living example. And then, if we are in the position to do so, to spread Theosophy using actual examples of modern life and making sense of the Theosophical teachings by applying them to the issues of our fellow men in this world. So that means using our own words and recognizable examples while pointing to the original source.

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

That it will hold the position in the world it deserves. 



Judy Saltzman

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

Judy Saltzman-Saveker. I have been an associate of the United Lodge of Theosophists since 1969.

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

I am an active participant in Santa Barbara ULT. I attend the Sunday evening meetings, and give talks about once per month. I also have written for their Journal VIDYA.

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

I learned about Theosophy from a late colleague, Helena Hale, at Santa Barbara City College. I was a philosophy and sociology instructor there. She had been brought up as a Theosophist, and told me that, with my interests, I would like Theosophy. She said I had to meet Professors Raghavan and Nandini Iyer of UC Santa Barbara, who had come from India and studied at Oxford. They came to teach us.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

The understanding of and practice of Divine Wisdom is the most important aspect of my life.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine. This book contains the teachings of the Adepts given through H.P. Blavatsky.

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

I enjoyed a visit to the TS Adyar in 1991. I attended The School of Wisdom. It was a lovely time, but we never really focused on The Secret Doctrine and its teachings. Dr. Ravi Ravindra was a very interesting speaker, but I think we needed more focus on the original teachings. However, as an associate of ULT, I cannot say what the biggest challenge for TS Adyar has at the moment. The ULT needs to focus on its own problems. I think some members of the ULT think that “impersonal” means to be cold and unfriendly. It does not mean that. It just means not focusing on personalities, but teachings. We need to work on that. I think the TS Adyar has intelligent people who will meet their challenges.

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

The genuine practice of Universal Brotherhood and Sisterhood or Universality. We need to drop our concerns about our differences in historical interpretations and approach to the material, and spread the fundamental teachings of Theosophy as H. P. B. gave them to us.





Jack Hartman

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

Jack Hartmann and I live in Johannesburg, South Africa.  I have been a member of the TS
for 12 years.

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

I am currently the General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Southern Africa.

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

Searching for certain reference works on the Para-normal led me those to be found in the library of the Johannesburg lodge and hence exposure to the Theosophical teachings.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Conceptually it provides me with a way of understanding the evolution of my consciousness.

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

A pamphlet by Annie Besant “Emotion, Intelligence and Spirituality”- It illustrates the conceptual depth of Theosophy.  There is a postulation of one the Society founders in 1914 which is reflected in the so called theory of today`s “Spiral Dynamics”.


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

Like all institutions or organisations, where the executive leadership has been unchanged for decades, the TS Adyar has become myopic and self-centred  and as a defence mechanism against

this inadequacy which is dictatorial. In Africa it is witnessed in the Mugabe rule of Zimbabwe.

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

That we as an organisation collectively (the cerebral resources are in place) use our efforts to expose the Theosophical concepts to the up and coming generations. Market research which I have done using “cutting edge” diagnostic techniques that delve into the collective unconscious has shown a high degree acceptability of the objects of the TS amongst this generation.





Jan Jelle Keppler

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

My name is Jan Jelle Keppler and I was born in Amsterdam. I have been a member of the Theosophical Society, since I received a diploma from the English section on 26 July 1976. Later I also received diplomas from the Dutch and the Belgian sections. The last one gave me even two diplomas with the same number, one of which mentions the dates and numbers of the earlier diplomas. Shortly after receiving the first diploma in 1976, I experienced such strong phenomena about the hidden powers in man, that there existed no longer any doubt whatsoever in me about the veracity of the teachings propagated by the Masters of Wisdom.

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

I have been treasurer of the Lodge in The Hague somewhere around the year 1980, just before I moved to Brussels to work for the European Commission. The Dutch section had me as their national Treasurer from 1991 to 1993. I was elected in the board of the Belgian section and later, from 2003 when I retired from my job at Financial Control of the European Commission, I became the treasurer of the Belgian section.

In 2008 I was elected General Secretary of the Belgian Section, in which function I was re-elected in 2011.

On the 11th March 2012 we created a new Lodge in Leuven, the Belgian town, where I live, called the “Leuven Lodge”. This was the second time that I participated in the creation of a new Lodge. In the first Lodge, I also was the president, when it was created on 25th August 2006 in the town of Antwerp, where I lived at that time and studied comparative religion. In the lodges we organise study groups and public conferences and at national and international level we also organise summer schools, festivities like the centenary in 2011 etc.

I organised, gave and attended study groups on The Secret Doctrine, The Mahatma Letters, The Yogasutra’s of Patanjali, Introduction to Theosophy, The Voice of the Silence, The Key to Theosophy and similar subjects. Since my study at the Faculty for Comparative Study of Religions, I also give a number of presentations on different religions and philosophers.

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

I became member, because one of my colleagues asked me to start a study centre with him and two other persons in Willemstad, Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles (The Dutch West Indies). About the same time the then international president, John Coats, visited our place and gave a talk, which was very motivating.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

For many years, especially in the beginning, I have considered that Theosophy was the best thing that ever happened to me. Later it became clear to me, that the theoretical knowledge of the age-old wisdom implied a radical change in one’s behaviour and life style. This was not always very obvious or easy, but we tend to do the best we can and miraculously we keep surviving even though not yet ready to want to become a fully-fledged chela. The well-known saying that “the Master will be there when the disciple is ready” is a most comforting idea, for the time being, and explains a lot about the uncertainty we are experiencing. 

5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky. It is a very helpful and practical guide for me. 
I always take it with me when I travel.

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

The biggest challenge, which the TS Adyar is facing at the moment is its transformation from an old, 19th century- and nationally orientated organization, which is dying, into a vital and new international organization, which would be able and ready to face the world of the global village of the 21st century with all its technological innovations and would be known and respected world-wide. It should therefore represent a living example of the Theosophical teachings and the human perfections it propagates.

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

It might be a good idea if this Theosophical Movement would organise nationally and internationally an annual gathering for all the members of the different Theosophical Organizations, without this having to be interpreted as associating them all in one organization. The organizations would be nothing without their members, while there are as many Theosophists outside these organizations as there are inside.

As stated in the Maha Chohan’s letter:  “If they do not fulfil their task and take care of the wellbeing and salvation of the millions of ignorant, the poor and despised, the lowly and oppressed, they will rather be left to perish than that these organizations would be permitted become an academy of magic or a hall of occultism.”

What we are witnessing today is exactly this dilemma. The TS is a dying organisation and the TOS is not working at full capacity, if one compares its financial reserves with the charitable work and social actions undertaken.

An “Inter – Theosophical – Dialogue” for the leaders of the different Theosophical organizations might also be a good thing. I wish their members all to become stronger, wiser and more loving human beings. Then it would be easier for these organizations to become more co-operative in spreading Theosophy in theory and in practice.





Joseph Ross

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

Joseph E. Ross, a native of California, born in Culver City in 1943. I was a member of the Adyar Theosophical Society since 1968, joined the E.S. in 1971 at Krotona in Ojai California. I left the Adyar Theosophical Society and E.S. in 1986 after Rukmini’s Devi’s death at the request of Radha Burnier.

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

Since 1972, Rukmini Devi encouraged me to start collecting historical documents relating to the founding of the Esoteric Section of the Krotona Institute. I have devoted a greater part of the 40 years to building the rare archives and caring for the collection to be known as the Ross Collection. Included in this Ross Collection are 1st edition books, vintage photographs, original paintings, films, L.C.C. artefacts and jewellery of early leaders. The Ross Collection contains over 100 banks boxes of authentic letters and documents from the turn of the century to 2010. There are eight books written to this date. These books are not an advertisement for Adyar Theosophy, but as a factual history, as far as they go shedding light on the truth of what really happened within the power struggle of the Esoteric Section, and the role of J. Krishnamurti and his relationship to the Adyar Theosophical Society. These books are not easy to read, but they are a collection of historical documents, and should not be read as a novel, but used as reference source for future research. Visit: www.krotonaarchives.com

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

Although I didn’t realize what would happen at the time, I was 28 and it was the summer of 1971 that I had gone to Far Horizons a Theosophical camp in the Sierras. Rukmini Devi Arundale, wife of the Third President of the Adyar Theosophical Society was there, giving a lecture. She asked me if I would like to come and work with her in India. By October 1972, I was off to live on the Adyar Theosophical grounds with Rukmini Devi off and on until her death in 1986.

4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy means to me an investigation into the doctrines of Esoteric Wisdom, as laid out and presented in The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky.


5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

There are many, but one is The Dream of Ravan. It gives a great view to the nature of man.

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

J. Krishnamurti honoured what Theosophy points to, just as a map is appreciated when searching for treasure. Often self-centred projections, hopes, vanities and fears must be transcended to perceive and become that treasure. If the Adyar Theosophical Society is to survive, it will have to show the world concrete evidence of the existence of the Religious Mind that is waiting to be actualized once man can realize the possibility and see that the quality of the new brain required is attainable.

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

To understand the importance of searching out early writings within the Theosophical Movements, which as related historical data from around the world are important, and also the difficulty of preserving these records from human destruction. Why is it important to preserve this early material? Is it not to have the text of the writings available undistorted and in their original form for later students? Having a very detailed record of the History of the Theosophical Movements enables the researcher to really document objectively, so that there is a true record of what the leaders did and said.





P. Krishna

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

My given name is Krishna and my father’s name was Padmanabhan. I have no surname. As per the system in Tamil Nadu my full name is written as Padmanabhan Krishna. I was born in a house called Chandravilas within the TS compound in Adyar, Chennai. I have been a member of the TS since birth but formally registered on 3 Sept 1981 (Diploma No.64024). My father and grandfather were also members of the TS. I became a life-member of the Adyar Lodge on 5 March 1994.

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

I live in Varanasi so I am not very active in the Adyar lodge but do deliver lectures whenever I am invited and attend those I feel interested in at the lodge in Varanasi.

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

My father Nilakanta Padmanabhan was a member of the TS and the younger brother of N. Sriram; so I knew about the Theosophy from my early childhood.


4.    What does Theosophy mean to you?

The quest for Truth - Wisdom beyond ideas, concepts and religions.  It’s the essence of all religions, leading to liberation from all negative emotions the human consciousness is prone to.


5.    What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Seven Great Religions by Annie Besant since it gave me the essence of each religion and The Nature of our Seeking by Sriram as it gave me the true meaning of Theosophy.


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

To install a new generation of Theosophists to look after the affairs of the society and promote the objectives of the TS in the future.


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

To be able to attract the attention of young people to the ideals of universal brotherhood and create a learning mind in a non-denominational quest for wisdom, so that we can all become world citizens by renouncing our petty identities and live The Truth which Theosophy Points to.

 

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