The results of my poll make it very clear that western members of the TS feel the president of the TS should be elected directly by the members. I think this is also the outcome of the online discussions. I feel that point should be withdrawn from the table by those who supported it originally.

Other parts of the original proposal were however supported by most of the people who voted in the poll. I do think the general council should take these up at the next available moment. However these points are generally of lesser importance in my opinion.

Discussions online bring out two other points of difficulty.

First of all the rules around lodges make them hard to start and maintain and give them little freedom to organize things as they wish. Beyond that it is clear that national theosophical organizations should be made into sections when they have enough members. Whether they have seven lodges or not should not be a consideration.

The essential point about lodges is that they are study groups where people practice the three objects. Whether they give a yearly report and help keep national headquarters busy with bureaucratic formalities should not be seen as essential. I also think it is fair that lodges have the freedom to decide on their own property, even if that means that in some cases the TS does not get access to them when the lodge disbands. Lodges sometimes feel that local interests are best dealt with by keeping the resources local. The decisions of the members of a lodge on such points should, I think, be respected.

The other point is that of transparency. While I don't think members need to be kept abreast of every little detail the general council discusses, we do want to know the main points. I don't really enjoy being whistle blower. I'd rather see the TS reinvent itself as an open organization where nobody feels threatened by honest discussion of organizational points. And where members are kept informed about major issues as a matter of course.

This does imply obviously that members take the responsibility of let's say 'acting their age'. We each represent the TS. That does mean we should keep our disagreements civil and on the point. It also means we need not repeat our opinions too often. [Yes, this is a response to recent flame wars online]

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I'm one who gets EVERYTHING from Madame Blavatsky and hardly anything, if much at all, from Besant and Leadbeater. No "flaming" to it. The "Back to Blavatsky" idea is a precious one to me, and Besant and Leadbeater are interlopers in many ways. Not that I don't respect them! They had their place, did their duty, and passed on. I'm afraid that myself and Anand Gholap have had our differences over this, and that is probably more healthy than sad. Anand, for instance, does not even list HPB in his list of books to read about introductory Theosophy. Why? HPB and the Buddha are my two favorite characters in all human history, the ones I would most like to have known personally. "Back to Blavatsky"? Absolutely!
What does this have to do with what I wrote here? If you want to discuss Blavatsky versus Besant, you're free to do so, but please just start a thread in the forum. However, I think many people are quite bored with it. Also - it's not going to get anywhere. It's a bit like discussing whether Jesus or Buddha was a better spiritual teacher. It would be more useful to just discuss what you've learned from Blavatsky that's so inspiring or true in your eyes.
I, perhaps wrongly, understood this thread to be about "differences." Sorry if I misunderstood and/or made anyone angry or made them have hurt feelings. I will try to do better later on.
With much Compassion!
Thank you, my Theosophical friend! "Policy concerns" are very little understood by me. I am a "freelance" Theosophist who tends to like the Pasadena Society and the U.L.T. Again, I did not intend to touch hurt feelings. Thanks again!
With much Compassion!
It's alright. We're all learning as we're getting along. Just make sure that in future you read the thread you're in before responding.
In regard to the issue about voting in the international elections: no doubt it is better to have individual members vote. But there are also serious questions about the validity of the ballot, particularly in the recent elections for president and vice-president. It's my impression that these were not conducted in a legitimate way, and that the results are, shall we say, open to question. Members should have the right to vote, but they should also have the right to know that their votes are not being overriden in favor of a predetermined outcome.

Regarding the lodge issue: I certainly wouldn't imagine that a lodge should have to report to the national organization about the least little thing. And if a lodge is really functioning as a lodge, of course it should keep its property. But what should happen when a lodge becomes moribund? Does that mean the property should then go to the last member standing?

These are all serious issues that are facing the TS today: they are not hypothetical cases.
Since the local lodge has created that capital, why should it not decide what is to happen with it? They could decide to give it to a local charity for instance.

I do feel that if a lodge really were to go under (and yes, I know that does happen), the property should be used theosophically. But in the cases I'm aware of (here in The Netherlands) where there is a lodge building, there is usually a trust specifically for that purpose, which does not answer to the TS (as far as I'm aware). As long as the regulations in the trust are theosophically sound - why should the national section claim precedence? And even if they aren't, the organisation will win nothing but ill will by being greedy.

The survival of the TS depends, I'm sure, ultimately not on whether moneys like this stay within theosophical circles (defined as part of the TSA), but on whether people continue to gather together and be inspired in the name of theosophy.

In the ultimate worst case scenario a lodge could decide that the national section does not represent their vision of theosophy. They might want to leave the TSA - but continue with theosophical work in every other respect. Does that give the TSA the right, morally, to stop them from using that building - which the local people had financed? That too is not a fictional case, but has happened.
On election issues raised by Richard Smoley, a lot of discussions have taken place on theos-talk and the archives are open to public. I do not know if Richard had a chance to read all the msgs. Anton's website will help in navigation.

Many ordinary members have a very low trust in the leaders in the West after all that happened starting with the electioneering and subsequent ultra secret attempt by a handful of GC members to disenfranchise membership worldwide. But for Internet and theos-talk, it would have been an fait accompli.

Today, Keith Fisher who was the International Secretary recently has posted a msg on theos-talk offering to respond to any questions regarding Adyar events. Several questions have been raised and it would be interesting see his responses.
Hi, Paul:
Good to hear from you. As matters stand now, Indian Section is the largest one and anyone wanting to get elected as President need to travel and lecture in India so that the members get familiar with the person.

That is exactly what John Coats did. When he visited Bangalore City in India for the first time, where I was living at that time, he did travelled on his own in his personal capacity and without any prior notification to anyone in the city. He defeated, I think Rukmini and Radha. So it is possible for anyone from any part of the world, including US, to get elected as the president.

With the electioneering of the last election and the unsubstantiated allegations of irregularity in the Indian Section election, (recall the Indian Section challenged Algeo about the allegations and he never came up with a response) Western leadership have deeply hurt the feelings of most of the members from India, and thus anyone from the West hoping to get elected will have a very steep hill to climb.

Indians are quite open minded about choosing anyone as their leaders. While Hindus are a majority, India had a Moslem President and many top political giants are and were Moslem. So now it is up to the Western Theosophical leaders to find constructive ways to build trust in the minds of members in India and elsewhere before they can aspire to be elected.

If the ultra secret attempt disenfranchise members and seize control of the appointment of the president, had succeeded, then the West would have had monopoly of the presidency for decades to come because minuscule sections in the West have disproportionate representation in the General Council. Internet and theos-talk and Anton’s website are solely responsible in defeating the coup attempt.

We will have to wait and see how things evolve in future.
One problem with the dissolution of property is finding a balance of encouraging donations for capital improvement, and ensuring that there is no hostile takeover of lodges. Truthfully, it would not be difficult for a well-organized group to take over a lodge, convert it to their own purposes, and then split from the TS, grabbing all the property for itself. And it wouldn't necessarily be a theosophical group; it might be the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party. Let's say that there was a well-endowed lodge with only a hundred or so members. An organization can come in with a hundred of its own members for about $10,000. If all 100 give their proxies or vote, they can easily stage a hostile takeover, seizing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property for a small investment. Consider: without provisions to prevent it, 4000 properly placed people and $420,000 to pay their dues could probably take over the Theosophical Society in America, gaining millions of dollars worth of property and resources. And there are certainly a number of ostensibly Christian organizations with that kind of resources who would be considered doing that to be doing God's work.
Funny thing about the Boston Lodge. I have heard two mutually exclusive stories, from people who were at the center and, who, as near as I could tell, sincerely believed that they were telling the truth. Rashomon had NOTHING on them.

The one thing I DID gather by examining the correspondence was that what brought it to the lawsuit phase was a refusal of the governing board of the Boston Lodge to even communicate with the National Board, which the National Board took as a violation of the 1st Object. From what I was told and what I read in the correspondence, the point of view from the Boston Lodge was that it was an insult to be asked to defend their behavior, and that they wouldn't respond to an insult. I'm not sure if communication would have fixed things, but refusal to communicate was certainly not a good idea, nor was allowing emotions to get in the way of rationality.

Even given that, I think National should not have brought the issue to court.
I recall that there was a long msg on theos-L (almost 10 years ago) from the member who was the secretary of the boston lodge at the time of the law suit. It may in the archives. The name of the secretary slips my mind at this time. Let us see if someone can find it. The interesting thing is a lot of money was spent on lawyers and I think the property was divided and the defending lodge got a good chunk of it. Also, if my memory is right, TSA had the advise of a member who was in the thick of the Krishnamurti litigation as the member was a Trustee and his involvement in the K Trusts was kept in a low key until I accidentally discovered it.

I guess money and property brings in its own set of distracting problems.


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