What draws them in?
Oct 08, 1995 05:02 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
>We had a talk, last
>year on the Spiritual Aspect of the Tarot and we had a full house. Then we
>have a good solid Theosophical talk and only the members were there. We had
>18 to a workshop on Dreams and 7 to one on Alchemy. There seems to be a
>reluctance to use the 'grey matter' which seems to be reflected in
You bring up an important point here that we're all making in different
ways. What do we teach and how do we teach it? When we change the materials
we present, we can draw in large crowds. Is that good? It depends.
There's an important distinction between changing the manner of presentation
to make the theosophical teachings more attractive and easy to comprehend and
changing the content to something more popular.
When we look at the declining membership at Wheaton, for instance, from
a high of 5550 in June 1989 to 4246 at the present, we see a dramatic drop,
one which has only leveled off in the past few months.
We have to ask ourselves some hard questions. Is the competition winning out
(other metaphysical groups attracting people)? Could we be slow to change to
current forms of organizational structure and educational methods? Or could
the public need for what we are offering be declining, along with memberships?
I'd say that the simpler part of Theosophy that was intended to work its
way into public thought, as a minor adjustment to the materialistic western
science of the last century, has done its work. There are many groups
promoting similar ideas and ideas like reincarnation and karma and the
reality of the spiritual life have found popular, though not universal,
acceptance. Our work in this area may be declining, being taken over by
groups that offer generic philosophical thought to the masses.
The other aspect to the work, that of providing a junior college to the
Mysteries, is something that may appeal to a handful of people. The numbers
of people in this regard are small compared to the spiritual quest of the
masses. I could see the theosophical groups eventually going underground,
or semi-private, in future years, if they end up specializing in this
regard, where membership is by invitation.
Granted, ideals like a general acceptance of universal brotherhood and
tolerance for other views and open inquiry into the unknown are all useful.
But we as theosophical groups have no exclusive claim to these goals, and
we're not particularly effective in always carrying them out.
What makes us special, I'd say, is the Teachings themselves, and as long
as we preserve them as a living tradition, where there are students with
an understanding of them that can act as mentors to new students, our
highest value is maintained. When that is gone, we'll end up being another
fraternal organization like the Elks or Moose, and a publisher of obscure,
not-understood, metaphysical books of antiquity.
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