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:

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Comments are closed for this blog post

Comment by M K Ramadoss on May 23, 2010 at 8:55am
It is well known that TS is far behind the curve in using Internet technology to communicate with members and the public. This has been talked about in various forums during the last ten years. Not effectively using Internet to further the interests of theosophy and TS, is simply missing a great opportunity and I wish there was a session in the congress devoted to this subject. Those who were responsible for developing the program, obviously did not think about this topic. Even now, it is not too late to add a session devoted to it. When the leaders public speak about this issue, the real cat will be out for all of us to see.

Comment by M K Ramadoss on May 19, 2010 at 12:54am
The range of topics and the leaders attending and presenting lectures presents an unique opportunity to the elected leaders to reconcile and move ahead with theosophical work.

Members around the world saw a display of deep cleavage and disunity among the General Council members in the proceedings of the December 2008 meeting. Since then, we have not seen any effort by any of the leaders to bring about unity in the theosophical world.

While business matters are not officially part of the congress, I believe, the congress provides a unique opportunity to leaders around the world to informally interact and reconcile and chart a new course of action to disseminate theosophy around the world, which is the duty and responsibility of every theosophist, which of course includes the elected leaders.

All the nice talks delivered in the congress may be material we may have already seen or heard in the past.

Let us wait and hope for positive developments to take place in the theosophical political world after the congress. This is far more critical to the mission of theosophy in years to come.

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