The 10th World Congress of the Theosophical Society

Not only am I going to the World Congress, but I was planning to live-blog it. But now that I’ve seen the proposed program, I’m no longer so sure. In fact, I’m wondering why I’m going in the first place. For entertainment purposes I have put up the program as it was published at the Adyar TS website this week in this post.

Seriously – the theme is ‘Universal Brotherhood without Distinction: A Road to Awareness’ – If that second part hadn’t been there, I’d have to have wondered: could you get any more boring? As it is, I’m afraid I can already tell you what most of the speakers are going to say:


Theme: ‘Universal Brotherhood without Distinction: a Road to Awareness’

Rome, 10 to 15 July 2010


Saturday, 10 July

10.30 am Prayers of the Religions


Welcome by General Secretary, Italian Section


Address by Mrs Radha Burnier,
International President, TS

4.00 pm LECTURE:

‘Why do we Belong to the Theosophical Society?’

Mrs Linda Oliveira,

International Vice-President, TS

I’m sure this is a question many of us ask ourselves a LOT: ‘Why do we Belong to the Theosophical Society?’ Unfortunately, the fact that it gets asked on this platform isn’t exactly a good sign. I’d rather the program itself were an answer. Instead it made me ask the question for myself – remind me again why I’m a TS member? It took me a few minutes to come up with the answer: I love the lodge work and the The Hague Lodge is really doing great.

How did she come up with that title to use in a lecture for a room full of people who are some of the most devoted and invested members of the Theosophical Society? Is she, the VP of the TS, asking herself this question? Well, I guess she’ll tell us that we’re members of the TS because that way we’re supporting the Mahatmas in their quest for transformation of humanity – or something. That as long as we practice brotherhood amongst ourselves, They will be happy with us and support our work. I’m sure that Mahatma quote will come up: ‘As long as there are three members in the TS worth supporting, We’re there too.’ (No, that’s not the actual quote, it’s something like that) I do wonder how they picture that, but I’m sure we won’t be hearing about that.

6.00 pm Reception – Italian Section

Now that’s good: a mixer for us to get to know each other and get reacquainted with old friends.

8.45 pm Cultural Programme by Dr Edi Bilimoria
‘Musical Yoga – Study is Transformation’

Sunday, 11 July

9.00 am LECTURE:

‘What Divides Us?’

Prof. P. Krishna
Secretary, Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India

Now this promises to at least be a good lecture. But given Krishna’s Krishnamurti background, I guess he’ll say that it’s our conditionings that divide us.

11.00 am SYMPOSIUM:

‘The Theosophical Society as a Regenerating Brotherhood’

Is a symposium a collection of three smaller lectures? I’m sure one of them will quote the Mahatma Letters again – about those three deserving theosophists.

Mr Ricardo Lindemann

former General Secretary, Brazilian Section, TS

It’s a controversial choice, this Ricardo Lindemann as a speaker for the world congress, given the issues the Brazilian section is dealing with.

Mrs Patrizia Calvi

Italian Section, TS

Mr Jan Jelle Keppler

General Secretary, Belgian Section, TS

2.30 pm Italian Section Meeting

4.00 pm WORKSHOPS:

The choice of putting workshops into this program is one of the redeeming aspects of this program. I mean – I suppose the object of such a world congress is for the active TS members to get to know each other, get inspired by each other. Workshops at least help them get introduced. Personally though I’d have put in a ‘future of the TS’ or ‘the theosophical work’ workshop as well.

1. ‘Forgiveness and Interconnectedness:
Two Key Elements in Brotherhood’

Mrs Betty Bland

General Secretary, American Section, TS

2. ‘Challenges in Brotherhood’

Ms Marja Artamaa

General Secretary, Finnish Section, TS

3. ‘Living Brotherhood’

Mrs Marie Harkness

Organizing Secretary, TS in Ireland


‘The Discovery of Self’

Mr Colin Price,

Former General Secretary, English Section, TS

Now this is a lecture I’m really looking forward to.

‘The TS on Probation’

Mr Pedro Oliveira

Officer in Charge, Editorial Office, TS International Headquarters

I wonder, does Pedro think the TS is STILL on probation after more than a century? I guess our continuing troubles could be explained in this way: each generation of theosophical students, leaders and teachers has to be tested all over again.

8.30 pm Musical Programme:

Italian bel canto with Soprano, Tenor, Baritone and Piano

Monday, 12 July

9.00 am LECTURE:

‘The Scientific Basis of Universal Brotherhood’

Dr Dara Tatray

General Secretary, Australian Section, TS

I’m an admirer of Tatray’s work. Her vision for the future of the TS is very close to my own. But really, a scientific basis for brotherhood? That’s going to either be a dud, or a very interesting lecture.

11.00 am SYMPOSIUM: ‘Brotherhood as a Road to Awareness’

Miss Tran-Thi-Kim-Dieu,

General Secretary, French Section, TS

Mrs Lissette Arroyo,

General Secretary, Mexican Section, TS

Mrs Ing-Britt Wiklund

Swedish Section, TS

Good topic. But the main point is clear in advance: practicing brotherhood is hard. To really do it well, we have to constantly train ourselves in awareness. I would guess Kim Dieu just might put something in there about brotherhood not being the same as having everybody walk all over you. And she’d be right.

4.00 pm WORKSHOPS (continued from Sunday)

Now this is a disappointment: we’re supposed to sit in on the same workshop we were part of on Sunday?


Again, I wonder, what’s the difference between a symposium and a collection of short lectures? And given that this starts at 5.30 – will we have time for dinner?

‘In the Beginning is my End’

Miss Mary Anderson

Former International Vice-President, TS

This poetic title is too complicated for me to guess what her point might be. However, I do think her speaking at this conference is a sign that the disagreements between Radha and Mary have been over stated in the online gossip mill.

‘Self-Perception and Fraternal Action’

Mr Marcos Resende

General Secretary, Brazilian Section, TS

Again: to be able to act brotherly, you need awareness. This is a bout statement. I’d say fraternal action leads to self-perception, I’m not sure it’s the other way around. If self perception is needed for brotherhood, there’s not much hope for any of us. To have a second speaker from Brazil is a statement in TS politics, I’m afraid.

8.30 pm Musical Programme:

Italian Classical Music – Rome Town Band

Tuesday, 13 July


‘Love and Service – Twin Stars of Brotherhood’

Mr S. Sundaram,

General Secretary, Indian Section, TS

‘The Meaning of nosce te ipsum in the Practice of Universal Brotherhood’

Prof. Graziella Ricci

Professor of Spanish Linguistics and Literature

I just googled that: apparently ‘nosce te ipsum‘ means ‘Know Thyself’ and is the Latin version of the phrase at the Oracle of Delphi (of course there it was in Greek). So we’re back to the relationship between brotherhood and self-knowledge. I hope this professor realizes we’re not there for a linguistics lecture, nor for a display of his own genius.


8.30 pm Italian Section General Assembly Meeting

Free evening for other delegates

Wednesday, 14 July


11.00 am WORKSHOPS:

More workshops. Good.

1. ‘Solidarity and Cooperation: Practical Expressions of Brotherhood’ –
Mr Antonio Martinez and Mrs Julia Ballesteros, Presidential
Representative, Colombia

2. ‘Practical Brotherhood in Our Everyday Life’

Dusan Zagar, Organizing Secretary, Slovenia

3. ‘Self-Knowledge as the Foundation for Brotherhood’

Carlos Guerra, General Secretary, Portuguese Section


‘Service as a Road to Awareness’

Mrs Diana Dunningham Chapotin

International Secretary, The Theosophical Order of Service

Mr Timothy Boyd

Vice-President, American Section, TS

Mr Vic Hao Chin. Jr

General Secretary, Philippine Section, TS


‘Life: A Symphony of Art and Beauty’

Mrs Manju Sundaram

Indian Section, TS

Well, I’m sure many would argue with that one. Life a symphony, tell that to the people still suffering in Haiti (for instance). But that’s probably my prejudice against literature speaking.

‘The Plucking of a Flower Affects a Distant Star’

Mr Bhupendra Vora

English Section, TS

7.30 pm Slide Programme by Mr Pedro Oliveira

‘Theosophical Centres around the World’

Why was this put at the end? Surely this is the sort of thing we came all this way for?

Thursday, 15 July 2010


Prayers of the Religions

Brief Impressions of the Congress

Closing Address, Mrs Radha Burnier, International President, TS

For those of you who’ve read to the end of this post – any of you going? Let me know. I propose we skip one of the more boring lectures and go out for coffee (or herbal tea) in some Italian bar or something for a future of the TS powwow. Do they serve herbal tea in Rome? Let’s find out!

First published here:

Views: 222

Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by Katinka Hesselink on June 28, 2010 at 7:08am
You're right: there's a Mexican Delegate coming. There's apparently a whole section of the TS in Mexico. They have a website too: - so the Adyar TS website tells me. Been there since 1919 apparently. Ignacio Mariscal, 126, Col. Tabacalera Mexicana, Mexico, D.F. 06030

Comment by Katinka Hesselink on June 13, 2010 at 9:54am
People - calm down - I've turned on moderation on here and deleted quite a few comments, because a lot of what was posted here has nothing to do with the World Congress.

Paul, I've answered your organisation question here: People who want to complain about how the TS, or one of it's sections, is run - can do that there.

Estrella: Is there a delegate from Mexico coming? I had no idea and don't know if we'll be talking. Your question seems more appropriate for the TOS though.
Comment by EstrellaFugaz on June 12, 2010 at 10:49pm
Well i guess at least as a mild vacation Katinka can be served, oh boy good Italy! and GOOD italian food!!

And the Biscottis! Wood fired Pizza!

And the capuccino with Amaretti cookies...YUM...
Comment by EstrellaFugaz on June 12, 2010 at 10:48pm
BTW, dear Katinka , could YOU INFORM ME WHAT the TS delegate of Mexico did say? Did she talk about the headless Hummer-Riders in our own Sleepy Hollows of Terror in Chihuahua-Tamaulipas or south Mexico? WHAT did SHE say? if she said something...

Mexico is in the verge of REAL TERROR and i have the sensation of nobody doing nothing...

I really WISH for an organized TS section- In Mexico, the paradise of disorganization in comparison of England i'm afraid - that can be in charge of doing at least, an improvement of participation and lecture levels...i'm not asking much...

On the bright side, didn't knew actualy we had a TS in Mexico. Last i knew the "Logia Unidad" of TS dissapeared in 2001...
Comment by EstrellaFugaz on June 12, 2010 at 10:38pm
I will fall for a good cappucino with oregat (almond) and amaretto flavor.

And the biscottis don't forget, or even better: those HYPER- delicious amaretti cookies!! GEE!! I haven't tried one since 2003 when they stopped to bring them to Ensenada!!! I craaave for one of those...mmm

And THIS congress was for?? (sorry, the sound-flavors of my capuccino with amaretti kind of forget me of the purpose of *burp* And what else you can find in Rome...Roberto Begnini?)

No wonder young pepole kinda go away when they hear the words 'new age' except the new age freaks from Ocean beach/Hillcrest and some hippies of of Bob Marley BTW...

THANKS for the ad anyway Katinka! (I LIKE U)
Comment by Katinka Hesselink on June 11, 2010 at 7:18am
Alistair: I had not noticed the cynicism in the comment about Price. I AM actually looking forward to Price's lecture :) no cynicism there.

MKR: Yes - that daily blurp during convention should be turned into a blog for sure. Would be easy to do to: someone at adyar can create a Drupal site. WordPress is a piece of cake in comparison.

Comment by M K Ramadoss on June 11, 2010 at 12:58am
Years ago when I attended the International Convention at Adyar, there used to be a news release towards the end of each day summarizing the events of the day.

Would it not be nice, if the organizers of the Congress upload a blog each day to keep the membership around the world informed as to what went on each day.

With today's Internet, all it needs someone's time and ability to quickly writeup a summary. I wonder if any of the organizers thought of this. I will not be surprised if they did not since after all you have a group of very old people in charge who have a no clue to how to effectively and easily use Internet to keep in touch with members. I am afraid the we all would read a summary in print after several months and who cares to read the news which is old and stale.
Comment by Katinka Hesselink on June 10, 2010 at 6:05am
I guess Alistair that means your coming?

Comment by M K Ramadoss on June 7, 2010 at 12:19pm
To what you have said, let me add. Charity starts at home. Sections and its leaders need to make much more intensive use of Internet tools to communicate with their membership. They are too much tied to the snail speed print media. When have we seen any of the elected leaders out interacting and communicating with their membership? It looks like they are the same mode as the writers and thinkers were when printing was invented. Some leading thinkers of the day classified printing as evil. Only difference now is that no one dares to call Internet as evil.
Comment by Katinka Hesselink on June 7, 2010 at 10:35am
TS sections are catching up to the internet. Unfortunately, from my perspective as a web professional, they're making some rooky mistakes that will cost them traffic.

I set up a theosophy search engine this weekend (using google custom search) and it's disappointing how hard it is to find a topic where the Adyar TS shows up first.

To me it's more about not being in touch with what people want to learn about, than about learning about the internet.

Truth: commendable attitude. Sometimes I'm like that too. In this case I'm not. Even brotherhood could be tackled in ways that are more interesting. Why not ask Sheldrake or Amit Goswami to give their perspective on the topic?

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