TS - A view from the International President
Oct 19, 1996 09:12 PM
I saw the following in the TS Homepage setup by Rodolfo Don at
which I thought might interest some who may not have seen the following
article by the International President.
Why the Theosophical Society?
Reproduced from "The Theosophist", (On the Watch-Tower), July 1996 issue.
Everyone who applies for membership of the TS must be in sympathy with the
declared Objects of the Society, as the application form itself makes clear.
One can surely expect that, when subscribing to the Society's objects, more
specifically to the universal brotherhood it seeks to bring about in the
world, the applicant pays proper attention to what the Society stands for,
and that joining the TS is not entirely a careless or insincere act.
It is therefore surprising when, after some years of membership, someone
says that he or she joined the Society not in order to support the Objects,
but for some other reason; or still worse, holds the view that the Objects
should be quite other than what they are. If the Objects were to be changed,
then the Society would not be the Theosophical Society, but something else.
In some countries, even the legal status of the Society would be
The Inner Founders of the Society, the Teachers of H.P. Blavatsky and H.S.
Olcott, who inspired them and brought them together in America, were very
clear about what the Society should stand for, as evidenced by the letters
which They were gracious enough to write. In 1880, addressing Sinnett, KH
wrote (ML 3rd ed., letter 2):
The Chiefs want a 'brotherhood of humanity', a real Universal Fraternity
started; an institution which would make itself known throughout the world
and arrest the attention of the highest minds.
Again and again their intention had to be emphasized because the
correspondent was unable to grasp its importance and wanted to gain
knowledge from the Teachers, for knowledge gained brings a certain immediate
satisfaction, while toiling for universal brotherhood is hard and seemingly
less rewarding. The search for knowledge may become a selfish undertaking,
and hence the note of admonishment: 'It is he alone who has the love of
humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping the idea of a regenerating
practical Brotherhood, who is entitled to the possession of our secrets.'
Because the words of the Mahatmas did not go home, HPB reminded Sinnett
(Letter 138): 'You cannot have forgotten what I told you repeatedly at Simla
and what the Master KH wrote to you himself, namely that the TS is part of a
Universal Brotherhood...' It is very probable that for those whose vision is
far seeing, and for whom past, present and future are like an open book,
humanity's further descent morally and spiritually was already known. They
may have foreseen that bitter conflicts and ruthlessly selfish activities
would trouble the world for a long time to come. The emphasis on brotherhood
could not but be considered as the potent remedy which they wanted to
administer to humanity in the mass, which they declared was their paramount
Humanity today has its back to the wall. It will either survive by realizing
that brotherhood and cooperation are unavoidable norms for human growth, or
civilization will perish as a result of the 'progress' that includes
possession of deadly weapons, poisoning of the environment, and other
irresponsible acts. As the resources of the earth decrease and competition
becomes more intense, individual as well as group selfishness become more
aggressive than ever, and a twisted philosophy is being developed to support
Recently some books have been published promoting racist ideas under the
guise of science. Genetic engineering is a tool that these 'scientific
racists' could put to use to accomplish their designs. IQ tests are also
being conveniently manipulated to prove their theories about racial
superiority. But the basic question is: What is real intelligence? Those who
believe that compassion, sympathy and self-sacrifice have nothing to do with
intelligent living could themselves be regarded as deficient in IQ. If this
basic point is examined and defined without
prejudice. Are the smart people with high IQs creating a better world, or is
it getting worse? Does intelligence consist in generating widespread
violence, corruption and insecurity, which is happening everywhere today?
Amenesty International reports that the present century has surpassed every
other age in torturing people. A recent report in The Guardian Weekly (2
June '96) says the United States budget for erecting prisons has risen from
2 to 10 percent. Out of every 100,000 Americans, 565 are behind bars.
Running prisons has become a sort of industry with consultants and private
companies having a hand in organizing and supervising. This may soon
happen in many other places.
Therefore, working for cooperation, trust and brotherly relations at the
individual, national and every other level is vital for humanity. The
Theosophical Society has by no means an obsolete aim. It must propagate
universal brotherhood without distinction of race, religion and so forth,
and also show by example that selfishness can be replaced by mutual trust
and sympathy to the great advantage of all. The arguments in favor of unity
Even ordinary people can now see that if we proceed along the present
direction of ruthless selfishness, there will be increasing difficulties.
Progressive minds are viewing life as a whole. It is not necessary in the
present context to acquire a deep philosophical insight, let alone wisdom,
in order to realize that brotherhood is the only sane course
and there is no other alternative.
Some TS Lodges, especially those which are in theosophically remote areas,
tend to center their work on whatever their own small membership finds
interesting. Lodges and groups within our Society do have the freedom to
work on themes of particular interest to them, and carry on activities which
are to their liking, but the freedom must be exercised within the framework
of the Society's character and structure. Were each unit to function without
regard to the whole, the Society would not exist as a worldwide body, a
globally spread family of
harmoniously minded members.
Behind every foolish act of human beings is some kind of philosophical
assumption. The aggressive, competitive attitudes prevalent today have their
roots in the assumption that there is nothing beyond the material world and,
as material things appear to be separate from each other, the underlying
philosophy encourages promoting the interest of the particular at the
expense of the whole.
Therefore members must probe deeply and discover how the human mind
fragments life and brings about inequality and continual strife; also that
the only philosophy which illumines the whole field of human activity and
inundates it with happiness is the holistic one. Using words like unity or
wholeness is one thing, but in order to grasp their deep meaning, and know
how to apply the newly acquired perspectives to the different aspects of the
human condition, we need not only a thoughtful, but a brotherly attitude.
Let us remember that although we may have entered the Society for a variety
of reasons, we should not remain in it without applying ourselves in a
direction which will change world-thought by sweeping away the cobwebs of
prejudice and suspicion.
Mrs Radha Burnier is current International President of the Theosophical
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