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Hierarchical Structure

Feb 13, 1997 04:48 AM
by M K Ramadoss

Some years ago, the GS of England wrote an article about the Hierarchical
Structure of TS and effect of information age on it. As I recall from
memory, the article raised the question as what kind of changes that may be
necessary or coming to make the TS very efficient in it operation. This
question applies to all organizations in today's world.

Transportation and communication are the two key elements of efficiency. We
have seen that the Adepts has at their disposal the most efficient means of
both. So it appears that we ordinary mortals are moving in the direction of
having faster means of transportation and communication and they are bound
to affect the way we do business.

I have seen first hand the effect of e-mail communication in large
corporations. Almost 20 years ago, I was a lower level technical employee
and on technical matters which had nothing to do with administration and
finances, routinely there was exchange of communication directly between
myself and some of the top most officers of the corporation. These took
place without the communication passing through formal hierarchical
channels. I have also seen the typical British hierarchical bureaucratic
system established almost 200 years ago in the colonies and how inefficient
they are.

So far, what we have seen, is that in all matters -- technical,
philosophical, and financial and administrative, organizations like TS have
used the hierarchical means of communication. Usually the prime medium is
the periodical newsletter or magazine that is sent out from Adyar or
National/Sectional Headquarters. It is mostly one way communication. Top
down with very little bottom up.

We are dealing with human beings at all levels of the hierarchy, each with
their own egos, ambitions (spiritual or otherwise), prejudices, biases
coupled with money and property and the real or imaginary power that is
derived from it. So what we see is that all communication gets distorted by
the time the recipient receives them. I do not see an easy way to fix it
until may be in a future manvantara all of us are perfected Supermen/Superwomen.

In Internet e-mail and other cyberspace tools, we have an unbelievable
opportunity and a challenge. In matters of money and property, there may be
a need for hierarchical structure. In all matters of communication, there is
a levelling in that all of us are in the same level playing field. Each one
of us can communicate with anyone who has access to e-mail, no matter where
the person is physically located. The communication is direct. The
communication is not distorted or censored. This direct communication also
allows us to communicate with a large number of people, ie broadcasting.
Coupled with this is the fact that some have tried to impose the framework
of the information control methodolgy built-in pre Internet age. Some have
tried to have "moderated" == censored e-mail lists. Small lists can be
moderated or censored. Large ones cannot. Take one for example if we had
10,000 members on the list, and 10% of them post 10 messages a day, we would
seen need an army of censors just to read them. In addition, because of the
nature of the communication medium, users will bypass and start parallel
means of communication.

So all evidence seem to point to the breakdown of the traditional
hierarchical means of communication. We all need to be prepared to make use
of the unusual fundamental characteristic of the new communication medium.
Any organization which refuses to move with the times and clings to the old
means is likely to be either left behind or run over by the newer tool.

So I see a day when all Theosophists world over will have multi-way
communication with everyone from the ordinary member, visitor, to the
highest elected leader. We may not have a choice in the matter.


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