An Intro to TI
Jul 05, 1996 06:57 PM
by Dr. A.M.Bain
AN INTRODUCTION TO THEOSOPHY INTERNATIONAL
A PERSONAL VIEW by ALAN BAIN
I have called this a personal view because Theosophy International,
by its very nature, does not have a corporate view beyond the
commitment of its members to its three objects. At the same
time, each member's perception of the significance and
interpretation of them will almost certainly vary in some
measure or another, partly because of the understanding of the
language used, and partly because each of us is likely to have
different priorities, and different emphases.
I begin, as is natural with the objects themselves. Those sections
of what follows which are in quotes are from the Theosophy
International statement of intent as it stands at the time of
writing. Words or sections contained between asterisks are the
Internet equivalent of *italics* in print, and are used for
"THEOSOPHY INTERNATIONAL comprises men and women who, of their own
free choice, subscribe to the spirit of the three objects first
formulated by the Theosophical Society, but in a more up-to-date
form based on suggestions by members of the Internet community,
and expressed thus:
"1. To form a nucleus within the universal human family, without
distinction of sex, sexual orientation, creed, class, or color."
The original Theosophical Society version of this object used the
words "... a nucleus of the Brotherhood of Humanity" and a
reference to "caste" which applied at the time to the people of
India, but in which country the caste system is now illegal, and
so the expression is redundant for the twenty-first century.
The *concept* of a "Brotherhood of Humanity" and the spirit which
lies within it is as noble now as it was in 1896, a hundred
years ago. In direct proportion to the success of the ideal
which does not discriminate against a person on grounds of their
sex, the word "brotherhood" has lost its former connotation
whereby the founders of the theosophical movement men and women
alike, would all have understood the term to include both (or
The importance of what is to me a spiritual principle inherent in
the scheme of things, and which is the essence of the original
concept of "brotherhood" lies in the recognition that all life
is one, and all life is inter-connected. It is a *fact* in the
scheme of things rather than a concept or ideal to be achieved.
That does not mean that there is nothing to *be* achieved, far from
it. If this view is accurate, the achievement lies firstly in
*recognising* this fact, and secondly in putting the
implications of it into practice. How this is to be done will
vary from individual to individual, and there for now I will
leave the matter. The question that does arise from this
however, as another member of TI recently remarked, is the
validity of seeking to "form a nucleus" - which could be seen as
exclusive rather than inclusive, or even elitist. This could
well be a matter for further and ongoing discussion.
"2. To encourage and engage in the study of comparative religion,
theosophy, philosophy, and the scientific method, according to
individual ability and inclination."
The founders' second object was less specific, confining itself to
encouragement, but lacking a commitment to *engage* in study.
It seemed, when formulating the TI statement, that to encourage
study without engaging in it could, in theory, lead to a
situation where there existed a large number of people busily
encouraging others to study, while precious few engaged in study
themselves - a charge that has been levelled, with some
justification, against the Adyar-based Theosophical Society as
it stands today.
Where TI has "scientific method" - seeking to indicate a disciplined
approach to study - the original wording contented itself with
the single word "science" - which in 1875 or 1896 had more value
as a term, but what we *now* call "science" is in reality a
conglomerate of very many *sciences* some of which bear little
or no relation one to another.
"3. To investigate mysteries of nature and unrealized human
potential and abilities, with an underlying respect for all
This is the object which, in its original form, has been most
frequently the subject of disapproval. It spoke of "unexplained
laws of nature and the powers latent in man."
Again, the term "man" has lost its nineteenth-century inclusive
character, and is seen by more and more people as a direct and
*singular* reference to the male sex. To continue using it
today would be in direct conflict with the intent of the first
"Laws" of nature have, during the past century, been shown to be
variables, not constants, so that one person's explanation of the
"unexplained" will vary from another's explanation of the same
observed phenomenon. We even know that some apparent "laws" are
directly modified by the fact of their observation!
Nonetheless, there are still a great many mysteries, and the
need to investigate them remains.
As for "powers" latent in "man" - well, we have all seen, by means
of one disaster or another, where the obsession to acquire
"powers" has led the human race, through two major world wars
and the Nazi holocaust, to the insidious, invisible and creeping
horror arising from the effects of nuclear energy getting out of
control, whether deliberately, as with Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
or by accident, as with Three Mile Island in the U.S.A. or
Chernobyl in the former U.S.S.R.
So, in Theosophy International we recognise that there exists
"unrealized human potential" and ability, but we - or I - do not
wish to see their development used as control mechanisms to make
one person bend to another's will. And we include a reminder from
the spirit of the first object to the effect that all life is
one, by adding the words, "with an underlying respect for all
"THEOSOPHY INTERNATIONAL is a voluntary network, whereby it is
sufficient to declare one's sympathy and/or allegiance to the
three objects, and to be registered as having done so. No
belief system is required - nor assumed to be held - by any
member. All have the right to choose, without trace of
coercion, the path by which they seek understanding.
"There are no fees, no subscriptions, although voluntary donations
and/or contributions could be made to specific projects or even
individuals for particular and specified purposes. As THEOSOPHY
INTERNATIONAL does not have and does not need rules, whether
anyone participates in or supports any such activity is an
entirely personal matter.
"We hope to be of service, and to share what we have in amity with
other theosophical, occult, and esoteric organizations, as also
with like-minded individuals."
Precisely because of the emphasis on *power* which has become the
dominant impulse within the Adyar (India) based Theosophical
Society from which other theosophical movements, including this
one, owe their origin, and more especially because of the
perceived *abuse* of that power, Theosophy International
developed a non-hierarchical approach from the very beginning.
Where there is no "leader" there can be no "followers" to
manipulate. We seek to work through co-operation and consensus,
as part of the inter-connectedness of the human family of which
we are all members. And while we recognise that we are all
brothers and sisters (or sisters and brothers!) within the
family, we also recognise that family members do not always
agree, and do not have the same needs or desires in life.
We have set ourselves a daunting task in more ways than one. If we
are to establish a genuine unity, it will be unity in diversity,
not unity that depends upon faith in a creed, or allegiance to
What I personally hope we shall be able to do is the *celebrate*
our differences, to find joy in the diversity of human and
indeed all life. To end on a personal note, my friend and I
have a shelf on the window ledge outside the living room of my
top floor apartment where food is placed for the birds. Some of
the birds in this part of the world are seagulls, and there is
one who, if there is no food ready when he arrives, taps
insistently on the window pane until the lack is remedied.
We call him Cyril.
To join Theosophy International, send an e-mail message asking to
be registered to
or give your name and other details you wish to share to whoever
"TI" has members in eight countries.
Ancient Wisdom for a New Age
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