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.

Read more: Mini-interviews November-December 2010

Ninety Years of Joy

On October 9, Joy Mills attains the glorious status of nonagenarian. Ninety is, of course, ten (the perfect number) times nine (which has remarkable qualities in mythologies and esoteric systems all over the world). Nine is said to symbolize successful search and creative fulfillment. For Theosophists all over the world, Joy is Madam (or to be as up-to-date as she always is, perhaps we should say “Ms”) Theosophy. No one else has served the Society in more places and in more ways than she. No other living soul is better known around the globe or more widely admired than she. No one else has been more perfectly successful in the search we are all engaged on or has more creatively fulfilled their raison d’être.

Joy Mills links generations, plays a significant historical role in the Society, influences numerous lives, and embodies the values of important cultural, religious, and philosophical lineages. She has been a student and a teacher by both profession and avocation. Her bachelor’s degree was from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; her master’s in English literature was from the University of Chicago; her additional post-graduate study of American history was at the University of Washington; but her greatest degree of learning was earned in the school of Theosophical living.

Read more: Ninety Years of Joy

Rome in Retrospect and the Theosophical Movement in Prospect

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Impressions of the 10th World Congress of the Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Rome, 10–15 July 2010

Theme: "Universal Brotherhood without Distinction: A Road to Awareness"

I came to Rome to experience my second world congress. Sydney, some nine years earlier, had been the first, and my memories of that event are still vivid and fond. The first-ever world congress was held in Paris in 1921 under the presidency of Annie Besant. That meeting was attended by 1,400 members, representing 34 nations. Apparently the main discussion during that first global gathering was devoted largely to the theme of educating the young. Whatever happened to the ideals and dreams that Theosophists shared at that time?

Much has been written about the Rome congress already, and many photos were distributed on the Net. Many have done excellent work by reporting on what happened in Rome, almost on a daily basis. The hard-working Italian organizers, who at the last moment were able to realize live streaming video broadcasts of the event on the Internet, deserve all our admiration.

In Rome I spoke with many fine and talented people. Once again it became clear that there is much potential in the Theosophical Society and much willingness to do what Theosophists are supposed to do. At the same time, I also felt that many, because of the developments since December 2007 in the Adyar Society, are "locked in" or "stuck," as a participant from Holland put it so very well.

Of course it is great and typically Theosophical to talk about being aware or mindful of the higher principles, to probe what it is that divides us, to investigate impartially our differences of opinion, or to emphasize once again that we have to be good to all the creatures living on our planet. It is a blessing when we, in all sincerity, reach out to others who might think differently and allow ourselves to become vulnerable in that process, hoping that the other is willing to do the same.

Many participants interacted informally. An animated exchange of ideas and opinions included reaching out to those who have great differences of opinion, which somehow cleared the air. When identifying visitors at the Congress to interview, I deliberately included one person with whom I have considerable disparity of views. In spite of the apparent distance between us, I approached him, and he unconditionally agreed to talk with me. We could meet on a common ground, which was really the theme of the Congress.

The formal level, however, as far as I could perceive, lacked such openness altogether. Instead, prominent members of the Adyar administration were primarily seeking reconfirmation of stances taken previously. On several occasions I saw one of them painfully looking the other way, when someone not recognized as a trusted supporter would come too close, trying to make contact.

On that level, notably the formal administrative one, expressions like "reconciliation" and "reaching out" were rare or unused all through the Congress. It seemed as if the motto of this 10th World Congress, on that level, had changed into "Brotherhood our way or … the highway."

At one point, however, I thought there was going to be a breakthrough. The husband of the Vice President of the Adyar Society had contributed prominently to a social networking site called TheosTalk, frantically advocating one side only of the election controversy going on at that time. In his talk to the congress, he said that he was sorry he had put certain things on the Internet during the election debate. All well and good, but regrettably he went no further in sharing what exactly he was sorry he had said.

Next to a fascinating presentation on "Musical Yoga – Study is Transformation" by Edi Bilimoria on July 10, the presentations that impressed me most were those given during the Theosophical Order of Service gathering on July 14. Diana Dunningham Chapotin, Tim Boyd, and Vic Hao Chin Jr. gave excellent talks. The theme was “Service as a Road to Awareness." These three always modest and hard workers hold a promise for our Theosophical future.

Following are the mini-interviews I had with some of the participants. I must especially thank Elinore, John, Marie, Ulysses and Anton for their kind cooperation.

 

Read more: Rome in Retrospect and the Theosophical Movement in Prospect

International Theosophy Conference of 2010 in The Hague, a Personal View

Gene Jennings – USA

The International Theosophy Conference 2010, with as theme ”Making Theosophy a Living Power in the World” took place in The Hague, The Netherlands from 12 – 15 August. We thank Herman Vermeulen, Sally and James Colbert and Gene Jennings for allowing us to publish photos and a report about this important event.

S. T. Adelante – administrator

It was only several years ago when an idea was reborn. It reincarnated almost immediately out of the dream of Wiley Dade, who initiated a series of simple Theosophical gatherings over a six or seven year period some fifteen years ago. The gatherings were intended for a simple sharing of Theosophical ideas and friendship, amongst student souls who had such an interest. Many said that wherever Wiley went, she succeeded in gathering about her a group of beings interested in the Theosophical studies and life. That was both her karma and her magnetism.

Read more: International Theosophy Conference of 2010 in The Hague, a Personal View

Responses to Questions

From the August 2010 issue of  the I.T.C. Magazine -- http://www.theosconf.org/Magazine.html

In reviewing current Theosophical magazines, we were delighted to thoroughly review Theosophy Forward.  As a result, a wonderful communication has begun between Jan Kind (Editor of Theosophy Forward) and ourselves.  There is no question but that this publication is helping pave the way towards greater Theosophical unity.  Besides this, it’s a very good magazine.  In our correspondence, we posed a series of questions to Jan about Theosophy Forward.  These questions came about from our review of this magazine.  -- Editors

(1) [I]n the Editorial portion you mention that the magazine is, "independent," yet, on the other hand, there is a report regarding TS of A finances.  This would seem to suggest a strong association with TS of A.



Response: TF (Theosophy Forward) has no formal connection with, no support from, and no oversight by any Theosophical organization. It began with some conversation between a couple of us about the need for an editorially independent, up-to-date, open-minded presentation of Theosophy free from the quarrelsome bickering that characterizes many blogs. And that is still its editorial position. All of those who started TF are, however, members of the Adyar Society, in various national Sections; one of us is also affiliated with two other Theosophical organizations. We report on what we think is interesting information about various Theosophical organizations when we believe our doing so will not be offensive. A report about a particular group, such as the one mentioned, does not compromise our independence, but is part of legitimate reportage. The Adyar Society is the largest in the world, and its American Section is (in our opinion) the most forward-looking and innovative of its national bodies; therefore reports about it are within the purview of responsible journalism and are likely to be of wide interest. Some of us who are especially supportive of TF are members of TSA. That does not (we believe) compromise our independence in any way. The international character and the independence of TF are further attested by the fact that the workers who make the publication possible operate in various parts on the globe: North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

 

Read more: Responses to Questions

TSA Financial Support

Betty Bland – USA

Member support, in all its forms, is so very important to the future of the Society, but without the support of two very important funds we would not be where we are today. The first, The Kern Foundation (KF), is often misunderstood both in its scope and operation. KF and TSA are two independent entities with mutual purposes. KF was established by Herbert A. Kern, Sr., in 1959 as a legacy bequest to create an independent foundation, managed by bank trustees, with his two sons, John C. Kern and Herbert A. Kern, Jr., as individual trustees. In addition John Kern was named as advisor to advocate for the needs of Theosophy. The first of several stipulations of the KF trust document is that “Funds should not be used for the construction or reconstruction of buildings.”

The basic objective of the KF, as specified in the trust, “is to aid spiritual enlightenment of as many people as practical by exposing them to the theosophical philosophy.” At the time of creating the KF Mr. Kern felt that one of the ways his aims could best be accomplished was by assisting the TSA with special emphasis on reader activities. Without that support the TSA’s publishing enterprises could not have achieved their current levels of outreach to the public and would not continue to exist.

Herbert Kern’s older son John has served as family advisor since the inception of KF. He is an appreciated advisor, encourager, and long time friend of the Society. His presence has been and is invaluable in challenging the National Board and staff to try innovative approaches and to strive for excellence in all programs. KF encourages, but never dictates or establishes policy; it never attempts to develop programs of its own, but always acts as a supportive partner, providing financial assistance for selected TSA activities. Although KF is an important resource, it has only a certain amount of funds, certainly less during stringent economic downturns such as the current crisis. The Society has been blessed over the years with the support and challenges the KF has provided.

Read more: TSA Financial Support

MINUTES

MINUTES
of the
Meeting of the General Council of the Theosophical Society
held on Friday, 25 December 2009, at Adyar

PRESENT


Mrs Radha Burnier - President (in the chair) and proxy for Joy Mills,Ricardo Lindemann, East Africa and Mexico
Mrs Linda Oliveira - Vice-President
Miss Keshwar Dastur - Treasurer and proxy for Surendra Narayan
Mrs Kusum Satapathy - Secretary
Mrs DaraTatray - General Secretary, Australia and proxy for Greece and New Zealand
Mr Marcos L. B. Resende - General Secretary, Brazil and proxy for Argentina
Mr Jan Jelle Keppler - General Secretary, Belgium
Mr S. Sundaram - General Secretary, India
Mr Antonio Girardi - General Secretary, Italy
Mrs Helen Jamieson - Additional Member
Mr D. K. Govindaraj - Additional Member
Mr H. K. Sharan - Additional Member
Mr Sriram Panchu - Additional Member

Present as Observers by invitation:
Dr Dusan Zagar - Organizing Secretary, Slovenia
Mrs Agnes Gasemyr - Organizing Secretary, Norway
Mr Colin Price - England
Mr Aroon Parshottam - New Zealand
Mr Govert van der Wal - Netherlands
Maria Mengelt - Mexico
Patrizia Calvi - Italy

The list of proxies was read out as above.
The President welcomed those present.

Read more: MINUTES

What is Important?

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

If H. P. Blavatsky were with us today I am confident that she would have loved to make use of all the good things the Internet has to offer. Yes, she would have had her own Web site and blog. She would have been busy maintaining her social network: Orkut, Twitter and Facebook, you name it. It would have been a blessing for her, and for us, if she could have communicated her important message through the channels that are now at our disposal.

If used properly, the Internet can bring people together, build bridges, and diminish obvious differences. It can create platforms for dialogues or, if the common rules of decency are obeyed, even debates. It can be an enormous source of information, a guide for independent study, and an invaluable eye opener and pointer.

Read more: What is Important?

Moving Forward

Vicente Hao Chin, Jr. – the Philippines

Vicente is the President of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines and lives in Manila.  He compiled and edited the chronological edition of the Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, and is the Associate Editor of the Theosophical Encyclopedia. He has lectured on many subjects.

The first century of the Theosophical Society has been devoted to sowing the seeds of the Ageless Wisdom in the public mind. While this work is not yet completed and is still going on, we must move on to the second phase of the work: the incorporation of Theosophical principles into the mainstream of social practices and dynamics through the Theosophical Society and allied movements.

Read more: Moving Forward

Do We Truly Aspire To Universal Brotherhood?

Roger Price - Belgium

That the first and foremost objective “To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour” is seen as the basis of the working of the Theosophical Society is never in my experience disputed. However, despite that, do we truly aspire to it?

In the Mahatma Letters No 5 in chronological sequence page 20 speaking about Universal Brotherhood we find:

“It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind: and it is the aspiration of the true adept.”

Read more: Do We Truly Aspire To Universal Brotherhood?

Playing the Piano with three Fingers

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

The core of Theosophy is to think for oneself, and in order to learn how to do this, one sets out to collect information and instructions, so that the process may begin.

It’s like learning to play a musical instrument.  For many this doesn’t come on a silver platter; it takes years of profound and dedicated study.  Sitting behind a piano, no one but the student can play ‘the instrument of instruments’.  Are we studying the Esoteric Philosophy at all, and, if so, do we study it, for example, as if we were learning to play the piano?

Read more: Playing the Piano with three Fingers

Information concerning the Planetary Union

Theo Curans

The Planetary Union (PU) or União Planetária is a Brazilian organization that is being confused with the Theosophical Society. That confusion is not adequately recognized in the following statement from the minutes of the recent General Council meeting at Adyar:

Planetary Union, an organization created by members of the Brazilian Section, which broadcasts theosophical lectures to 66 cities in Brazil by cable TV, to all Central and South America by satellite, and globally on the Internet, was explained in detail.  The organization is a non-profit entity and managed independently of the TS so as to place no financial burden or risk on the assets of the TS in Brazil.  The directors are all TS members who receive no remuneration.  The President noted that this is a new idea and each Section needed to be free to develop its own way of promoting Theosophy.

Read more: Information concerning the Planetary Union

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