II would like to make it very clear, these comments do not apply to any specific individuals. In fact, it is very safe to say that among the contributors on this site are some of the warmest, most thoughtful folk I have ever encountered in this movement. It's an honor to be able to discuss, chat with and even work together with all of you who take the time to come to this site. You could spend your time and effort elsewhere and hopefully we are meeting your needs.

What I am discussing here, in general are several troubling memes that seem to have been with, and continue to infect the Theosophical movement. We are not relevant for many reasons and I have tried very hard over the last several years to understand the causes. Here is a summary of those memes, and a thought at the end on a concept common with many leading companies, called a Value Proposition.

So far there seem to be several memes common to the Theosophical movement.

a) Everyone was (and still is) out to get HPB.

See Paul Johnson's fine graphic on Blavatsky Searches on Google. Long term, it tells a very disturbing story. Before long few will be talking about HPB, much less mounting attacks.

b) The Theosophical Movement is openly hostile to questioning. If you do, prepare to become a pariah and labeled a non-believer or at least treated like one. Authority trumps reason or logic.

c) Theosophy has secret knowledge which must be hidden from the profane.

d) Theosophy is not about making people happy. Is there any self-help literature in the Theosophical tradition? Especially anything that is very practical and not loaded with unpronounceable words?

e) Helping people understand everyday life is of no concern to Theosophy/Theosophists.

f) The emotional or material needs of people are automatically considered greed by Theosophists.

To someone just becoming acquainted with our movement, what reactions and feelings do you think these type of memes engender? The reaction of most people who are NOT "true believers" upon finding out that the ES exists is one of shock, horror and indignation. This is a natural reaction.

Are these feelings those you would want your parents, siblings, children and co-workers and friends to have towards you, knowing that you are involved with a movement which demonstrates the above stated values? This is, of course, keeping in mind that most Theosophists are deathly afraid of telling non-Theosophists about Theosophy because of fear of retribution or simply ridicule.

In the world of business, there is this concept of a "Value Proposition". A Value Proposition states what a company seeks to provide their customers in return for payment of goods and services. A Value Proposition goes beyond saying that "I will sell you something for a certain price". More than that, a Value Proposition promises a number of behaviors and benefits that a company agrees to provide to customers in addition to the product. Typically this covers such things as environmental activism, commitments to various causes, and details of how customers should expect to be treated.

What is our Value Proposition? What should we be providing to our users, and that includes you, if you're reading this.

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Theosophists do not handle being human well, it seems. Actually they do not seem to know how to express it and when they try they come across as very uncomfortable and awkward. Now, if you actually know them, it is not so bad because you can tell what they are trying to say, but to an outsider it seems cold and uncaring.

The problem is that our brethren are stuck in the language of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the way things were expressed back then don't work now. And people have different personal concerns.

Let me give an example of the cultural differences that Theosophy has failed to adapt to. In the Mahatma Letters, there is a reference to "the sternest of the Kobiligans." Now, aside from the obvious question of what in the hell a Kobiligan is and why would anyone care, there is the use of the word "sternest." Now, to the Victorian mind, "stern" was a compliment, a recognition of virtue. It was a good thing. To our people, it is an insult, a word rarely used, "tight-assed" being the contemporary equivalent and anyone who manifests it is deserving of intense ridicule. And they get it, usually from me. After all, there is nothing wrong with a Kobiligan that a dose of itching powder down his back won't cure. (memo to Morya from the Desk of the World Teacher: Stock up on itching powder.)

The painful truth is that Theosophists, at least in their public face, come off as standoffish, judgemental a*******, incabable of understanding emotion and capable only of speaking in unknown and imaginary tongues. The interesting thing however, is that there are still segments of society where being a Theosophist carries social value. I remember when my Grandmother told a religion professor from the United Church of Christ college that I graduated from (he was filling in for the minister who was on vacation and had come to visit her) that I was a Theosophist, she said he virtually beamed with pleasure. But that is the capital of our past and we must adapt, change and even change and abandon some dearly held notions if Theosophy is to survive in any way at all.
Joe, you really should differentiate between "Theosophical movement" and "Theosophical Societies".
As you are aware, the Movement is infinitely larger than what is left of the TSs. We have been mailing about that already in the past months.
The spiritual world works in various ways through people, many of whom probably never have heard of the TS.
Personally, I was part of a relatively large group that split of a particular branch of TS in 1992,
for reasons that are not important here. Since then, I felt myself part of the Movement, but less so of the TS (though this split-off group did form a small ts-society of its own of which I have been a member).

The generalizations/memes do not appeal to me. It's all old stuff.
What is important is the vision one develops.
The original TS draw "elite" people to its ranks. That was fine and served a purpose.
In my mind, it is highly doubtful that a philosophy of life such as Theosophy will draw millions upon millions of people
as adherents, for obvious (and many) reasons. What about an adapted form of presentation (not New Age simplifications!) ?
That could draw some philosophically inclined people, to this website, for example.
Even then, people are so confused, brainwashed, programmed to believe in nonsense,
that it will be a very gradual process to build up a "customer base".
Centuries of materialistic belief and millennia of dogmatic religious belief cannot be undone with a snap of the finger.

Personally, I think that it would be a great service if people would learn to teach Socratic philosophy to children and adults.
Learning to see things in perspective is a very valuable thing. If I am correct, philosophy classes have been implemented
on many schools in the USA, nowadays. Many situations in daily life are the topic of discussion there, like "what is a (real) friend?" in the context of drug or alcohol abuse, for example getting others to drink excessively. Very practical and useful.
Something like that could be implemented on this website, I suppose. But the latter is more a discussion of means,
than of first principals/value proposition.
Interesting. My older son is a Philosophy major at the University of AZ. What he studies (and I might guess that he is not alone in his choice of classes) is about half classical philosophy and half stuff that I cannot pronounce. Seriously, it's been over a year since I could proof read any of his papers, because I do not recognize the terminology. He is a fantastic debater in the classical philosophy, but there are never any conclusions drawn, only that no one's opinion is ever right, unless that is a conclusion. He will make a good lawyer, but I don't see any theosophical benefit to what he's learning.
Susan, that is not the philosophy I'm talking about.
Some links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socratic_method
and Nelson: http://www.friesian.com/method.htm

There are different varieties of this method.
One commonly used in organizations has to do with reaching consensus about some hot issues.

Quite a number of philosophers in my country are working now with the latter form of Socratic dialogue in organizations. Like I said, on USA schools it is being used as well.
It clearly has potential to help people organize their thoughts about practical questions, relations with others, etc.
"Thanks for bringing up that point of differentiating between the Theosophical movement and Theosophical Societies. I am not a member of any organized TS. I would also hold that the issues are movement wide."

If you take the "movement" to be the outer ring of all TSs and related organizations, then there is something to be said for your POV. In the other case, you cannot know all that happens on the inner planes. So, what do you mean by the Theosophical movement?

"My particular view of future Theosophical efforts are very much founded on open source philosophies "

Like New Age philosophies that are a spin-off of earlier theosophical work and writings?

"and rather than dictating specific lifestyles, the focus should be on encouraging inquiry"

Yes, inquiry is always good, if done sincerely.

" and discovering tools to make life better, much in the sense that the Whole Earth Catalog or it's internet successors have done."

Could you provide a link to these internet successors? (I once had this catalog, I think, but either it's on the attic somewhere or got lost when I moved to my current location). Not everyone may know what you are referring to.

"We provide ideas and techniques from all sources and let folk adopt as they see fit and in turn encourage innovation. We need to build synergies and not create roadblocks."

The eclectic approach, eh? Could work, provided it stays true to the theosophical principles, such as the principle of unity in diversity. Some elaboration of your side would be appreciated.
My own approach is rather syncretic, researching philosophies and integrate concepts and ideas in a larger whole. In the long run, philosophical-scientific models have to be formulated that are of a true holistic nature in order to provide an ethical guideline for scientific development. This is still far away, it seems, and I see precious little people working on it.
Last sentence should read: precious few people working on it..
Your commented - . In fact, it is very safe to say that among the contributors on this site are some of the warmest, most thoughtful folk I have ever encountered in this movement.

It is very understandable. In a forum such as this, you have a very level field. You cannot bring in you other attributes such as - your official titles, academic and other achievements, etc. In addition, if you are fully independent, then one is free to comment without fear of losing a job or being marginalized. In such conditions, our real natures, which are basically good, comes out.
Dear friends

My views are:

We could try to read the following articles very carefully and maybe understand why some reach the hopelessly wrong conclusion given in a) to f) by Joe in the above. The snerrers and worshippers need something else first. And New Age provides it easily.

And I conclude, that it is not the TS name, but the doing which is important, no matter what name or terminology is needed at a given time and place, in a given culture or at given circumstances etc.

1. Mahatma KH to A. P. Sinnett:
"My Dear Brother,
I could assuredly make no objection to the style which you have kindly adopted, in addressing me by name, since
it is, as you say, the outcome of a personal regard even greater than I have as yet deserved at your hands. The conventionalities of the weary world, outside our secluded "Ashrums," trouble us but little at any time; least of all now, when it is men not ceremony-masters, we seek, devotion, not mere observances. More and more a dead formalism is gaining ground, and I am truly happy to find so unexpected an ally in a quarter where, hitherto there have not been too many -- among the highly educated classes of English Society. A crisis, in a certain sense, is upon us now, and must be met. I might say two crises -- one, the Society's, the other for Tibet. For, I may tell you in confidence, that Russia is gradually massing her forces for a future invasion of that country under the pretext of a Chinese War. If she does not succeed it will be due to us; and herein, at least we will deserve your gratitude. You see then, that we have weightier matters than small societies to think about; yet, the T.S. must not be neglected. The affair has taken an impulse, which, if not well guided, might beget very evil issues. Recall to mind the avalanches of your admired Alps, that you have often thought about, and remember that at first their mass is small and their momentum little. A trite comparison you may say, but I cannot think of a better illustration, when viewing the gradual aggregation of trifling events, growing into a menacing destiny for the Theos. Soc. It came quite forcibly upon me the other day as I was coming down the defiles of Kouenlun -- Karakorum you call them -- and saw an avalanche tumble. I had gone personally to our chief to submit Mr. Hume's important offer, and was crossing over to Lhadak on my way home. What other speculations might have followed I cannot say. But just as I was taking advantage of the awful stillness which usually follows such cataclysm, to get a clearer view of the present situation and the disposition of the "mystics" at Simla, I was rudely recalled to my senses. A familiar voice, as shrill as the one attributed to Saraswati's peacock -- which, if we may credit tradition, frightened off the King of the Nagas -- shouted along the currents "Olcott has raised the very devil again! . . . The Englishmen are going crazy. . . . Koot Hoomi, come quicker and help me!" -- and in her excitement forgot she was speaking English. I must say, that the "Old Lady's" telegrams do strike one like stones from a catapult! " (Mahatma Letters No. 4 - http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/mahatma/ml-4.htm )

To me the conclusion must be, that the theosophical teachings operates not only through a organisation named "The Theosoophical Society" or similar using Dead-letter terminology.

When reading the following from Idries Shah I found, that the theosophical teachings operates by the use of several methods unknown to the New Age would-be-Seekers. The word Sufi can conveniently be exchanged with "theosophy".

2. The Sufi Tradition
Interview with Idries Shah - by Elizabeth Hall
"Suppose we get a group of 20 people past the stage where they no longer expect us to give them miracles and stimulation and attention. We sit them down in a room and give them 20 or 30 stories, asking them to tell us what they see in the stories, what they like, and what the don't like. The stories first operate as a sorting out process. They sort out both the very clever people who need psychotherapy and who have come only to put you down, and the people who have come to worship. "

. . . . .
"I am sure that the best way is not to start a cult, but to introduce a body of literary material that should interest people enough to establish the Sufi phenomenon as viable. We don't plan to form an organization with somebody at the top and others at the bottom collecting money or wearing funny clothes or converting people to Sufism. We view Sufism not as an ideology that molds people to the right way of belief or action, but as an art or science that can exert a beneficial influence on individuals or societies, in accordance with the needs of those individuals and societies."

But try to read all of the above article about the worshippers and snerrers. It is exactly the problem of worshippers and snerrers, which covers the TS today. Theosophical teachings are Prescribed. It adapts it self to time, place people, circumstances and culture. Yet, the eternal teachings of all ages past will always be forwarded.

3. Taken from "The Sufi Mystery" and rewritten:
"About what happened when H. P. Blavatsky died.
But, if, a teacher of the Wisdom tradition dies, (like H. P. Blavatsky did in 1891), or there is a gap in the teaching, what then? The interesting thing is, that the very gap is a part of the training. You may explain certain things to a child: shall we say teach her or him not to do certain things. Then you will pretend to go out of the house - and observe her or him. According to how well he/she has learned, so will he/she react. In this 'absence exercise', precisely the same thing happens to the teacher of Wisdom, though many are not conscious of it. - It is the same when a spiritual teacher or author dies or somehow disappears. Therefore the beginner Seekers aught to view the death of the Teacher and/or author in a quite different light, than they are used to. The spiritual Teacher or author can be said to be "away" for a period of time. Then another spiritual Teacher and/or author will arrive. Quite obviously the semi-blind among the people, during their 'waiting-period', will try to work out their own interpretation. They may, as have been done in the past, write books to explain what they have learned. This is the danger-point, because when a man/woman is accepted as, say, a philosopher (of wisdom) because she/he has written a book explaining a philosophy, he/she will not readily accept, that she/he only have been 'fumbling'.

He/She has quite possibly become a prisoner of his/hers lower self. The self-conceit of the man/woman is now bound up with his/hers 'creation', the book or the method, which he/she has used to organise the fragments, which he/she has. He/she is probably or possibly lost - for the cause. In order to break through this shell of accretions and fossilisations, the - second teacher - will tend to act in a different, perhaps in a certain dramatically different manner, from the original one. This could happen, to break the 'idols', which have been formed out of the thoughts, which were originally given. So very important: The use of ideas is to shape a man or woman, not to support a system - which is viewed in a limited manner. This is one way in which the Wisdom Tradition is 'living', and not just the perpetuations of ideas and movements. This seems important to understand and know about."

Maybe this can explain something about what is going on.

A few words.
Study and patience are still important to many Seekers.
And today we have already more than enough of literature and even movies, and because of this a number of Seekers tend to get confused, and just grab hold of 'something' instead of nothing. From time to time they get it all wrong and so it is in these days of our Informations Society. People in fact tends to get over-informed.

Meditation and calmness is still important.
People think: Who are you? Who am I? The Divine is within you says Master! It is? Where? There, there! Not there, but there!

The ordinary society today kills self-reliance. The theosophical teaching has been distorted, and now parts of the various Theosophical branches also kills self-reliance and its structure even feeds trolls and Ph.D. Guru's which can Not help themselves pretending to be so very very clever! And this is the mess, we could seek to change. :-)

Allright it is not that bad.....but I think you get the idea.

M. Sufilight
There's something in this discussion I want to respond to, though it may be more relevant to a different discussion, but I've noticed that, though you can find HPB and generally a handful of Theosophical books in most libraries, the fact is that in any corporate book store, you're much more likely to find the entire bibliography of Sylvia Browne than any Theosophical book. In fact, it's much easier to find Anton LeVey or Alistair Crowley than even something as palatable as Leadbetter and Besant's Thought Forms. Is it a problem of being independently published or are there other reasons?
A dream:

A multi-faceted networked organization that provides a framework for a modern (and future) type of integral spirituality (as a movement). This includes, among other things:

-some definition(s) of integral spirituality
-research on the history of spiritual movements (ideas, development,growth and decline)
-research on what organized religion offers to people (and what it doesn't or can't offer)
-an inquiry into much abused terms: "God", "sin", "sacrifice", "atonement", "spiritual", "paradise", "heaven","hell", and so on.
-research on the criteria for the long-term viability of such organizations and new types of organized spirituality
-provides clues for research on integrative models of natural processes (trans-disciplinary work)
-helping people to organize their thinking about integral spirituality
-some sound philosophizing (a crash course?)
-openness to ideas developed during the ages; willingness to consider these, redefine where necessary and integrate these into the framework (open source idea; criteria for inclusion based on deep consideration and insight)
-provides a hotbed of ideas that help reshape thinking and redefine direction of development of society
-includes a bit of self-help literature and an online support forum/network
-Interfacing with other movements and organizations that work in this direction

All movements start with a Dream, a vision, a seed-thought that forms the core of such a movement.
Nature itself shows how it works. To be attractive to others, one has to offer something. The above list constitutes quite such an offer. It really should (and will) attract the attention of creative, passionate people who want to contribute to such an enterprise.
The term "integral" does not specifically refer to Ken Wilber, but to a larger movement that concerns itself with that term (and holistic philosophy). Wilber has written some nice stuff, but lots of his work can be severely criticized, like is done on the World of Ken Wilber website. Frank Visser, Mark Edwards and others have even spoken on a forum of Wilber's integral movement. It seems that Wilber and co. are opening up to some of this criticism now (finally!). The absence of any ontology in Wilber's work is telling. His work "integral psychology" is certainly interesting to me, and I would have prefered Wilber to continue research into these matters along that line.
Perhaps the term 'integral' has become too much associated with Wilber's work. It's not that easy to come up with another term, although I stick to "integrative philosophy" for my part.
As to the other points/comments, I will have a look at that later.
Some more comments: I do know Frank Visser (he's a theosopher and a member of TS (Adyar) Amsterdam. At first he was very much charmed of Ken Wilber, but later on became one of his critics, as I pointed out when refering to his website. Personally, I think that the Wilber AQAL model is rather flawed. See the many essays on that at Visser's site. Those essays contain some good stuff, but require a lot of study, together with Wilber's work. My own preference is more focus on cybernetics, as you know by now, but let noone be disencouraged to study Wilber and his critics! It certainly will yield good study material and some useful ideas.

"understanding the social structures for conveying religious/spiritual concepts."
It may be worth the effort if you (Joe) sketched the Sufi method regarding this point.

"Organize thinking, philosophizing"
As to the first item, what I had in mind was a kind of Wiki on items of interest (a rough sketch of basic theosophical ideas about the human being, natural process, including some religious concepts such as heaven, hell, God, punishment, etc. That is info that helps people form an idea about theosophy and how it relates to beliefs, the human psyche and spirit, the afterworld, the spheres of our solar system, etc. Formulated as simple as possible.
We need some people to do some kind of stuff like that, IMO.

As to philosophizing, that is far more involved. Developing the philosophic mindset is not easy. It requires many things of a person. Dedication, equanimity, basic intuition about things, to name a few. It may not be for everybody.
The "crash course" has more to do with the Wiki kind of thing, but can integrate some starting points for philosophizing. It would be very nice if some cartoon-like booklet/animation/game could be developed. That needs good script writers and programmers. Any volunteers? There seems to be a comic/cartoon on a certain philosopher, can't remember whom.

www.edge.org : I'm not familiar with it. Will have a look.

"Theosophy is a movement that has attracted only people on the very high end of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs."
Yes, inevitably so, by its very structure and content. It must be highly simplified to appeal to a larger audience. A movie might do a better job than difficult books.

"The next level of commitment.."
Can be anything related to the spiritual that one feels like expressing on this forum (or outside). Ideally, a participation in some project.

"100 and 200 level"
What's that? Beginner courses?
If it is related to research, then it takes a lot of time to gather and compile data and info.
Nevertheless, a course on Youtube, etc., seems a good goal to strive for, once we have the people that can develop such a course.

"Theosophists don't play well with others".
True, but I noticed (experienced) that many other organizations and individuals of those organizations suffer from the same predicament..

Items to start with? That depends on the preferences of people on this forum and their willingness to get involved with some project.
Easiest thing, I suppose, is to set up a Wiki that explains some important concepts basic to religion and theosophy. It may be best to formulate questions and some proposed answers, stressing the preliminary nature of answers (i.e. non-dogmatic approach), viewed in the light of, say, a gnostic/theosophical/sufi/kabbalistic/etc. background (those esoteric movements which have a lot in common). It can serve as a framework for further work, e.g. for a game or application for teaching. It might (or should) also take some scientific findings in account.
Again, this needs a couple of volunteers.


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