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Local health vs. global sickness

Mar 13, 1998 07:39 AM
by K. Paul Johnson

Last weekend I went to the first meeting of the Charlotte Study
Center since I'd become a member.  I'd visited as a guest a
couple of times and enjoyed it, and when I decided to rejoin the
TSA it was combined with commitment to be active in a local
group.  There were a couple new to Theosophy there; we chatted
for half an hour, then I talked about Cayce and meditation, and
our discussion started at the Meads' house and went on in a pizza
place nearby.

I was quite struck by the same taste, or vibes, that I'd felt in
every encounter with a local TS group in my life.  That includes
the DC lodge, Maryland Lodge, Atlanta Lodge, and the Oakland Study Center.
There's a kind of effortless flow, an easy communication, a
universal eagerness to explore new ideas and expand one's
horizons.  Never a trace of power-tripping, or proselytizing for
"my way the right way" to understand Theosophy, or looking down
on anyone for not knowing or believing the same things.  An open,
friendly, curious, supportive, eclectic, expansive kind of group
vibration that is unique in my experience to the TSA.  Totally
welcoming, totally laid back.  That, to me, is Theosophy in
action at the local level.

And when I've met folks at Wheaton as individuals that's mostly
how they've been.  Yet, the recent manifesto from Geoffrey
Farthing, a onetime General Secretary of the English Section (I
think) gives a diametrically opposed flavor or vibration, and one
that resonates with what I've seen from John Algeo and Radha
Burnier.  Lots of power tripping, lots of proselytizing for "my
way is the right way," lots of looking down on people for lack of
knowledge or different beliefs, little openness, not much
friendliness, lack of curiosity, unsupportive, narrow rather than
eclectic, constrictive rather than expansive.  Quite unwelcoming,
totally up tight.  That, to me, is Theosophy at the level of
national and international leadership.

Why is this?  Most other groups I've experienced, like the
Baha'is and the ARE, are pretty much the same vibes locally and
nationally.  We talked about this at the Study Center and I was
far from alone in the observation that TS is at its best locally
and its worst at "higher" levels.  But no one had any theories
as to why this would be so.  (Of course the ES is presumed to
have something to do with it, but that's more a "how"
explanation than a "why" one.)  Makes me feel like a manic
depressive to swing between high hope for the TSA when
experiencing it locally, and despair when experiencing the
mindsets of the leadership.  (A couple of super dogmatic pieces
in the latest Theosophist are typical.)

Any speculations, observations, contradictions hereby invited.

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