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Re: What draws them in?

Oct 10, 1995 06:12 PM
by Bee Brown

>>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.

By a full house I mean 25 people so in a population of around 42,000 that
isn't a lot anyway. I do not advocate changing the material but rearranging
it so that it is interesting to a wider range of seekers. Our dream workshop
was by a ex national lecturer and included aspects of the astral world and
other Theo ideas that fitted into the context. All who attended really
enjoyed it and they got a little look at the Theo teachings in amomgst the
Dream Session that actually drew them in.
>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.

I intend to give it a try. We are selling our present building and have an
option on one in a higher profile area. I hope to be able to open it to
casual visitors 2-3 afternoons a week in the library and encourage our few
members to participate. We have a Poly Tech just up the road and maybe a
cuppa and a chat may be the start of something more profound in their
learning. Who knows but it doesn't hurt to give it a go. I have the time and
that is free.
>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.

It would be a pity to see the teachings go underground. I have just
discovered de Purucker and feel he should be promoted more as he is easier
to understand than HPB. After him then maybe, for us mere mortals, HBP might
be more understandable. Next year our study group should have arrived at Vol
3 of SD and after reading Esoteric Traditions, it will be interesting to see
if I can understand more clearly.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
>-- Eldon

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