1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?
Mr. Halldór Haraldsson, born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1937. I have been a member of the TS since 1960.
2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?
Since 1960 I have been more or less ative in the Veda Lodge in the Iceland TS and from 2006 – 2010 . I was the General Secretary for the Icelandic Section of the TS and again since 2012.
3. How did you first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?
As a teenager I discovered books on spiritual matters and among them some TS literature in my grandfather´s library. Later I came to know personally the General Secretary in 1960, Mr. Gretar Fells, a well known writer and a poet who was very active, wrote books and gave many lectures both in the TS and on the State Radio.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?
It has been stated that Theosophy has two aspects:
a) From an absolute point of view as the ultimate wisdom.
b) Various relative theories concerning man and the universe.
To me this means that the former gives us an opportunity to approach the living spiritual reality through yoga, meditation etc. and the latter opens up for us quite a wealth of knowledge, e.g. the “ancient wisdom.”
5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?
I simply can´t select just one book and I don´t like that viewpoint (sorry), too much influenced by competitive society! On the other hand I can point out several books that I treasure. The books by HPB such as the Secret Doctrine etc. are of course classics. I also like books that are not on the usual TS booklist and reflect the same Theosophical openmindedness. Here we have books by J.Krishnamurti, The First and Last Freedom , The Commentaries of Living etc., Living Zen by Robert Linssen, a remarkable book that gives an interesting comparison between Zen and Krishnamurti, A Path With Heart by Jack Kornfield, one of the best books nowadays on the practice of meditation. As Theosophical teachings are very much based on Indian philosophy I find The Spiritiual Heritage of India by Swami Prabhavananda includes a good overall view, not to mention the Collected Writings of Swami Vivekananda for a deeper study. The reason for these selections is that they not only give important knowledge but also a deeper understanding which is of great value.
6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?
In the early days of the TS Adyar it served a very important role in widening people’s horizon in the West and was the main instrument in presenting eastern teachings to the West. In recent years we have witnessed an enormous interest in eastern teachings , yoga, meditation practices etc. which have in fact become big business. All this has attracted many people who would otherwise have attended TS meetings. This is not altogether bad, because we could also see this as the good result of what the TS has been presenting during many years in a new form. Still we must of course also look for what is the best form of our activities today.
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
I think that we have to face the fact that the TS membership and activities have been decreasing for quite many years. In my answer above on the “biggest challenge to the TS” I stated one of the reasons being other spiritual organizations with similar views etc. But it is probably also that the activities of many TS sections have somehow got stuck in certain tracks. Very often the topics of lectures and articles in TS magazines tend to be based on or about the same TS authors. This gives the misleading notion that the TS is a religious organization which it is not. Here we need new “blood”. There are so many fine authors outside the TS presenting fresh writings/lectures on similar lines as in the TS. In the TS we have the knowledge side of things and the practical side. Good authors inside the TS have pointed at that there is too much emphasis on the theoretical/knowledge side. More emphasis should be laid on spiritual practice and the “transformation“ of man´s consciousness. Many sections are giving meditation courses which is fine. Could we not have meditation also in the lecture meetings, make more use of music and the arts? The old saying that the the letter kills but the spirit gives life may be worth thinking about.
Obviously we have to face our challenge and revive the TS activities. I would not advocate “out with the old and in with the new”, but to learn from the old and be ready for the new. Therefore we can say: We can learn from “back to Blavatsky” and we can go forward with Blavatsky.
This what I wish for.
From the editor:
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.