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Re: Freedom of Thought

Aug 03, 1996 02:47 PM
by Maxim Osinovsky

Hello Sy:

What you wrote about--I mean those expulsions--disturbs me very much, partly
because I am an Alice Bailey student, but mostly because I hate
restrictions of freedom.

So I consulted the national bylaws as published in Early Autumn 1995
issue of American Theosophist (AT) and John AlgeoFs articles in most
recent issues of AT to see what's going on.

It looks like those expulsions WERE legal!  Bylaw 9, Section 6 says in part:

"Section 6. Cancellation of a Charter. Whenever in the opinion of the
Board of Directors a lodge has ceased to perform the functions for which
it was chartered, or shall have engaged in activities contrary to the
best interests of the Society, or shall have failed to abide by its own
bylaws or those of the national Society, <snip> the Board shall by
resolution declare that lodge to be inactive."

So it's clear enough: The Board of Directors has full authority to
dissolve local lodges if something goes wrong. In general it is OK with
me except a vague phrase, "activities contrary to the best interests of
the Society" that seems to be unacceptable.  I believe it is this
provision that has been used to expel the Boston group, right? It's
highly subjective. Who is going to judge about it? Obviously the Board as
is implied by Bylaw 7, Section 1. So it seems that this provision gives
the Board an enormous, virtually unlimited power over local lodges.

I am VERY concerned about that provision because I came as a refugee to
this country from the former Soviet Union, and I know very well how many
crimes very commited against many Soviet citizens--all "in the best
interests" of the people. Exactly the same phrase, "in the best interests
of..."  (substitute your pet interests) was available in the Soviet
Constitution, too, so it may serve as an excellent tool of manipulation.

The above interpretation is fully confirmed by what John Algeo wrote in
AT (emphasis added):

Late Spring 1996 issue, p.2: "Local groups are extraordinarily important
to the welfare of the Society, but they are SUBSIDIARY, NOT PRIMARY."

"National sections areL Ithe representatives of the parent Society in
particular countries. Local groups--lodges and study centers--are its
representatives in specific localities. These subunits are very important
for carrying on the work of the Society, having their particular roles in
that work. But ultimately there is only one Society, and all Theosophical

In other words, all Theosophical Fellows are property of  their
respective national societies, while national societies are property of
the "parent Society."

The Big Brother (John Algeo) is well and alive...

Sy: I wonder if the expulsion of the Boston group has been covered in AT.
If so, could you provide reference(s)?


Regarding the "Freedom of Thought" letter and the Editor"s (i.e. John
Algeo"s) response:

What I have discovered in the national bylaws, is not encouraging either.
The Preamble reads in part:

"The Theosophical Society, while reserving for each member full freedom
to interpret those teachings known as Theosophy, is dedicated to
preserving and realizing the ageless wisdom..."

Now, it says that the members are free to interpret THEOSOPHY as they
wish, but it does not explicitly say that the members are free to study
in their branches and study centers something else.

What happens if some members study, let's say, Alice Bailey? According to
the letter of the bylaws they may be expelled if the Board of Directors
thinks such a study does not further "preserving and realizing the
ageless wisdom"--as they understand the ageless wisdom.

Unfortunately, the bylaws make it extremely easy to expel the members.
Section 9 "Termination of Membership" of bylaw 4 says in part:

"(b) Membership may be rescinded by a two-thirds or greater vote of the
Board of Directors on recommendation of the National President." There is
absolutely no qualifying statement as to why and under what circumstances
the President may give such a recommendation and the Board may approve
it--all that is left to their personal opinion and judgment.

So, in the light of these findings, what John Algeo replied to Mathias
van Thiel is nothing else than hypocrisy.


Sy: The two loopholes mentioned above make it very difficult for you and
the like-minded members to advance your agenda. It looks like the very
way TS is structured will oppose any attempts at change. In any case,
serious changes to the international and  national bylaws will be needed,
otherwise the members will still remain less significant than the Society
embodied by the Board.


On Thu, 1 Aug 1996, Sy Ginsburg wrote:

> In the current issue of the American Theosophist (Late Summer 1996) there
> appears the following letter to the editor under the title "Freedom of Thought":
> "I have been quite impressed with the information that you greet new members
> with.  It is a valuable job well done.  I have, however, heard a disturbing
> rumor that the Society has and will censure people who engage in studies not
> within the framework considered "Theosophy." I hope I was misinformed."
> (signed) Mathias Van Thiel, Hayward, CA.
> The editor replies: "Indeed you were misinformed...." and goes on to recite the
> general council (Adyar) resolution on "Freedom of Thought" which it says is
> published regularly in the Adyar Theosophist, and "The Theosophical World View"
> statement which appears on the back cover of the American Theosophist.
> I assume that new member, Van Thiel, will be reassured by the editor's
> statements, as I was when I joined the Society 18 years ago, and saw that the
> only requirement for Society membership was to be in sympathy with the 3
> declared objects.
> But after uncovering facts through independent investigation, on behalf of the
> TS in Miami & South Florida, and largely unknown to most members, I am
> embarassed by the reply given Mr. van Thiel, because the Editor's statements do
> not accord with the bahavior of National and International officers, who have
> taken actions opposed to freedom of thought by expelling Lodges and National
> Sections.
> I discovered that the Danish National Section was expelled by Adyar in 1989
> primarily for what appears to me to be overemphasizing the Alice Bailey
> teachings.
> I discovered that the Boston Lodge was expelled from TSA in 1993 primarily for
> what appears to me to be overemphasizing the Alice Bailey teachings.
> I also discovered that the Canadian National Section was expelled by Adyar in
> 1992.
> I discovered that the Yugoslavian National Section was expelled by Adyar  in
> 1984.
> At the Theosophical Society in Miami & South Florida we have hanging on the wall
> a beautifully framed rendering of the 3 declared objects.  When prospective new
> members inquire about membership requirements, we show them the National
> Membership Application, and point to our framed rendering of the Objects.
> Indeed, the National Membership Application in 1996 has imposed no further
> requirements than the application I signed in 1978. The sole membership
> requirement as stated continues simply, to be in sympathy with the 3 declared
> objects.
> But now that we at Miami know what happened in Denmark and in Boston, it has
> become an embarassment to continue to say this to prospective new members.  And
> I would be embarassed if I were the AT editor and made the reply to Mr. Van
> Thiel that was made.   If the AT Editor really means what he replied to Mr. Van
> Thiel, then why has there been no move on the part of the TSA officers to
> redress what was  done to the Boston Lodge and make an effort to bring them back
> into the larger Society?  Similarly, why has there been no move on the part of
> Adyar to bring Denmark and Canada back into the larger Society?  So far as I
> know, even as recently as the July convention, there has been no move on the
> part of the officers of TSA to take any positive steps in this direction.
> Eldon Tucker wrote to this list on 7/31 under "Elitism or Esotericism":
> "They do try to stick to their brand of Theosophy (Adyar), although the politics
> involved and the expulsions are, to put it mildly, undesirable."
> Yes, that's putting it mildly, Eldon.  How can the officers and directors of TSA
> go about mouthing the 3 Declared Objects but acting contrarily to them?  And how
> can TS members who presumably do care about the TS, simply say that "expulsions
> are, to put it mildly, undesirable" and let it go at that, not letting their
> objections be strongly heard by the national officers?
> The expulsions  of Lodges and National Sections, are unacceptable if we who are
> members of the TS(Adyar), really believe in the 3 Declared Objects, and care
> about the T.S.   Some of us TS members do care and do not want to see the TS
> dwindle into insignificance, as is rapidly happening, because of actions not in
> accord with the 3 Declared Objects.  We  will be holding a Conference in St.
> Louis October 5th to reaffirm our sympathy with the 3 Declared Objects and to
> otherwise work on this matter.  As I mentioned on this list earlier, if anyone
> wants to participate and cares enough, please Email your name and address and/or
> those of your interested  colleagues to me and I will mail you the information
> about the Conference.
> Sincerely
> Sy Ginsburg

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