Mini–interviews First Quarter 2014

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.

  Tim BoydTim Boyd

 

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
(This interview was first published in October 2011)

Tim Boyd. I joined the TSA in 1974.

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

Since May I serve as President of the American Section (USA).

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

My first exposure to Theosophy was as a late teenager. It came through an active, but unorthodox, TS member. In meeting him it was clear that whatever it was that gave such vibrancy and power to his life and words, I wanted. I became convinced that Theosophy, as a living and applied wisdom, was that something.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

While it certainly is a body of teachings that can be written and spoken about, for me Theosophy is an experience – an encounter with truth.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

One of the early books I read was by Annie Besant, In the Outer Court. I like it so much for a couple of reasons: it is short and can fit in your pocket; it is also a profound description of progressive unfoldment from someone who has clearly lived what she describes. It is a good book for new and old students alike.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

Fragmentation and irrelevance.

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

An infusion of youthful energy; whether in the form of new members of a young age, or older members who embody a flexibility of mind and heart. The ideal would be young and old working together.

The Society MI 4 AngelsAngels Torra

 

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

My name is Angels Torra, I am from Barcelona, Spain, and I’ve been a member of the TS since 1972.

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

I am the General Secretary of the Spanish Section since October 2013. 

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

I was born in a Theosophical family. My father was the Presidential representative for Spain during the long years of dictatorship, when Theosophy was not allowed in Spain. 

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

To me, it represents a set of parameters leading to a better understanding of myself and the world. 

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Light on the Path, The Voice of the Silence, for their mystical inspiration; the Bhagavad Gita; The Secret Doctrine, and so many others … my interest cannot be reduced to one single book.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

Times have changed; it’s time to work in a team, since there are no more prominent figures to be leaders. We need to work together to respond to today’s necessities. 

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

When it started, it was the avant-garde of the world thought, way ahead of its time. The initial impulse has taken us to where we are now. We need to activate our search within to find a way to self-transformation, not only of ourselves but for the entire Society in general. 

Jan KindJan Nicolaas Kind

 

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

My name is Jan Nicolaas Kind, I am originally from Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and I first became a member of the TS–Adyar in November 1994. Later I also became affiliated with the TS–Pasadena and the United Lodge of Theosophists. My good friend, the late Henk Spierenburg always told me that if one cannot beat those Theosophists it’s better to join them all. At present I live in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

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

I have held several positions in The Netherlands, Brazil, and India. Now I am not active in any Lodge in particular, but serve as editor-in-chief of the independent Web magazine Theosophy Forward and work for ITC, International Theosophy Conferences Inc., currently as co-host for the 2014 Naarden conference taking care of all publicity matters.

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

It was in Amsterdam during the famous sixties, then a long-haired hippie, when I first heard about Theosophy from a Jewish violinist with whom I had become acquainted. I was fascinated by his stories about the laws of cause and effect, our place in the universe, the one-life, and his sublime interpretation of what compassion is all about. It took me more than twenty-six years, a lot of soul searching and a few travels around the world actually to become a member.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is a coherent system of thought. The esoteric doctrine embraces the three pillars of our thinking: science, religion, and philosophy. For me personally Theosophy became the ultimate eye-opener, for which I am forever grateful. 

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

This is a very difficult question. Let me just say that I am in particular touched by the writings of William Judge and Robert Crosbie because of their profound simplicity, here I refer to their complete oeuvre. Annie Besant’s In theOuter Court and especially Thought Power are gems; also the works of Gottfried de Purucker such as Fountain Source of Occultism and The Esoteric Tradition are invaluable. The wonderful essays by Boris de Zirkoff are a joy to go through, and from the typical Adyar authors I enjoy reading I. K. Taimni’s books as well as some of C. Jinerajadasa’s earlier publications. The MahatmaLetters to A. P. Sinnett and all that H.P.B. wrote, especially The Voice of the Silence and The Key to Theosophy, are all-time study books that I greatly appreciate. 

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

In 2010, I was fortunate enough to get to know Sally and Jim Colbert from Julian in California, who had been working for International Theosophy Conferences (ITC) for many years. Through them I was introduced to this organization. This unique initiative offers a platform on which Theosophists from all the various traditions can meet. In the past, attempts were made to come to a “constitutional” unity, one large Theosophical organization. This idea, I must emphasize, is no longer feasible. All traditions, respectable as they all are, definitely have their own places, relevance, and something distinctive to offer. That, by all means, should continue. When we refer to Theosopical unity in the 21st century, we refer to primarily a spiritual unity. So it is a challenge to bring all those who call themselves Theosophists together in a spirit of compassionate brotherhood, whereby particularly the art of listening is being exercised and mutual respect and understanding are achieved. So, the biggest challenge in my opinion is to further develop that idea. H. P. Blavatsky handed out much when she reintroduced the old wisdom that had long been forgotten; and that is precisely what unites all Theosophists, both those affiliated with the various organizations and also those who operate independently. When all of them gather once or twice a year under the banner of ITC, they can explore ways to ensure keeping Theosophy alive for future generations. ITC folks put it very clearly: “Not back to Blavatsky, but forward with Blavatsky.” In many of its publications, ITC refers to the following phrase, which is significant but also simple to understand by those not yet familiar with what this organization stands for: “... further explore the Path that all Theosophical traditions can follow to serve mankind in togetherness, respectfully and constructively, spiritually, and cooperatively untied, while each tradition remains loyal to what it holds and advocates.”

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

Is there anything to wish for about something that always was and always will be? I believe that the movement will take care of itself, so it all depends how one interprets this question. I wish that all those who feel attracted to the teachings, one way or another, would discover that being a true Theosophist means that one is committed at all times, for better or for worse. Too often some consider the Theosophical Society as their own little and exclusive playground, as if it were a kind of stage in a theatre where they can play their self-imposed roles as dominant figures or even as protectors. When egos are diminished to an absolute minimum, I see quite the opposite: a kind of eagerness is displayed, while hunger for titles, positions, or importance disappears. Some people consider themselves to be the “guardian angels” of Theosophy. How wrong can one be? Theosophy exists, and all we need to do is to serve it as humbly and silently as possible. Titles, so-called prominence, and positions are part of the material world; and that is where the phantom of spiritual materialism looms. So, again, if there is such a thing as a wish to be shared, I sincerely wish that all who are active in the Theosophical arena, in whatever tradition or independently, realize that there is but one reason why we’re here in this incarnation, on this planet, in this round at this level of consciousness and development, and that is to help those who are less fortunate and those who will come after us. Doing that requires unconditional commitment.

The Society MI 8 Manuela KaulichManuela Kaulich

 

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

My name is Manuela Kaulich. I am German and live in Regensburg near Munich. I am a member of the TS since 1989.

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

Since 2008 I am the General Secretary of the German TS after one period of being its secretary. In autumn 2008 I founded a new group in Regensburg and still lead it. In these positions I plan the German Summer Schools and the Southern German Meetings every year.

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

A friend brought me some books and among them I found Beatrice Flemming’s Theosophical WorldView. Reading the book I became more and more fascinated and therefore I bought the books of Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater of the same series. Then I went looking for the TS in a telephone book of Munich where I lived at that time and found my first Theosophical teacher Eva Diller.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

For me as the Ancient Wisdom Theosophy is that wisdom I get in contact with. And through the Theosophical teachings of H. P. Blavatsky, Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater etc. I get in constant touch with that eternal and infinite wisdom. In the Theosophical principles I found a certain guidance which helps me recognize my way and my duties and helps me to take difficult decisions even in my normal daily life.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Sometimes when I am looking for a certain theme I open the The Key to Theosophy. Often it is the first step of my studies on a special subject. And it is a good source for explanations for new Theosophical students. I like sentences like: ‘Altruism is an integral part of self-development. But we have to discriminate. …’ It is one of the basic books for me.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

 The election of our new International President is the biggest challenge for me at that moment. The sections need more connections to our headquarters in Adyar and among one another. We need new impulses, structures, a new agility with more young people. There are so many esoteric movements, serious and dangerous ones, but the Theosophical Society, the outer government of Theosophy, the mother of all of them; it seems like its sleeping. The Dalai Lama is very famous and travelling all over the world but nobody is speaking about Theosophy! Why is that? There should be no competition or comparison but I think people should speak about his and the Theosophical teachings at least in the same breath.

So we need a new President with charisma, openness but also devoutness firmly based on Theosophy who presents Theosophy to every single person who is interested.

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

As an example of Universal Brotherhood the different societies should still work more together. In the past there was much decomposition. It should become a demonstration of the deepness of Theosophy and its tolerance to show ‘unity in diversity’ to everybody.

The Society MI 10 LLiliana Katharine Grossman

 

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

Hi! My name is Liliana Katharine Grossman, and I am from Brooklyn, New York. I have been a student of Theosophy since I could make the decision to go to the Children’s Discovery Circle at the United Lodge of Theosophists, at the age of three or four.

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

I am not an active member.

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

I was born into it. My father was a member.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is a way of being for me. It is a constant demand to take responsibility for the knowledge that has been imparted to me through the teachings. For me at the core of how I practice Theosophy is the heart doctrine, which is the practical application in daily life. It is crucial to cultivate compassion in oneself so to give to others what we would want done upon oneself, to all those one meets, as well as to oneself. One can not truly be compassionate towards others, if one isn’t compassionate towards oneself. So for me Theosophy is a practice, a discipline of self-cultivation, taking full responsibility for my actions, thoughts, feelings, speech, and in that process of “purification” becoming ever more Loving.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

My favourite Theosophical book is Concentration and Meditation by Christmas Humphreys. It is a constant guide. It is a part of my “tool kit”. I love it because it has deep wisdom of the Ancient Wisdom Traditions, and I can use the practices/meditations in my daily disciplines. It gives you the tools one needs for our evolution as Beings. In using what this book offers regularly I have the power to more adeptly discipline myself in a productive and sensitive way. Aiding me to focus in greater intensity on the task at hand, working towards a one-pointedness, I can manifest my dreams, my Destiny.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

There is too great a focus on learning the texts, and not enough taking action. We as a Theosophical Entity need to do the “Yoga” of the teachings we believe in. There must be a stronger practice that is a part of how we learn, of how we are students. This is why I believe we aren’t in a Renaissance, and there isn’t much of an influx of new joiners, young theosophists, and why some old Theosophists have left their lodge, or other organized house of practice. More youth would be interested if we paid more attention to the times, and had a section of our institution dedicated to the “Great Practices”.

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

A future that I would love to see manifest for the Theosophical Movement is a great growth, a transformation, a Renaissance. A face that is in the light of the general public, where it is being talked about, discussed, and is influencing the raising of the collective consciousness is a major way. To see each house of Theosophy, each lodge, bustling with people excited about being there, and doing the great work H. P. Blavatsky was beckoning us to step up to, wielding our will for the good of humanity, for the evolution of out race.

The Society MI Carlos G
Carlos Guerra

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

My name is Carlos Guerra. I am from Portugal. I am a member of the Theosophical Society since 1974.

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

At the moment (2014) I am the General Secretary of TS in Portugal.

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

I came in contact with the Theosophical Society when I was 17/18 years old. At that time, I was a student of a very well-known teacher of Philosophy (Maria Beatriz Serpa Branco), an active member of the TS in Portugal. She was an exceptional human being, and is a vivid reference, a rare example of,what living Theosophy means. 

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy means a permanent challenge, a way of questioning, an integrated vision of everything around us, a way of living in the dynamical movement of self-knowing. Theosophy means to avoid anchoring on static and moralising ideas, to deconstruct barriers based on dogmas. The open clues for a flexible research given by Theosophy are points of departure and not of arrival.  

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Indeed I have not a favourite Theosophical book or author. It would be reductive to name one Theosophical book or author. To refer just a book or just an author would imply to give them a major importance. What really matters is the Theosophicalteaching in itself. The right attitude of mind will give the capacity to find the essence of the teaching in any real Theosophical book by any real Theosophical author.  

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

It is to question/reflect, not only theoretically, about tradition as the main driving force of an organization. It is also the problem of real decentralization, which means a radical change in the backward-structure of the organization. A philanthropic organization does not need “leaders” but real organizers. Too much politics in such an organization will turn it into an ordinary organization with some members anxiously looking for power, for self-interests, feeling that they are experts on this or on that, trying to show that they have in one way or another reached some kind of illumination/initiation. The TS Adyar does not need a spectacular number of members, as in some moments of its history, but real and humble seekers without any sense of superiority. 

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

To wish something for the future of the Theosophical Movement is a mere exercise of imagination. It is an urgent need to look at the conditions of the Theosophical Movement now. Indeed we may say that the Theosophical Movement is an unending and dynamic movement, imperceptibly touching everywhere, as a natural movement. The future of the Theosophical Movement depends on the right answer to the following question: at the moment the TS Adyar and each of its members are promoting or obstructing the natural flow of the Theosophical Movement?

 

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