March 2014 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the March 2014 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
Our Duty to Elect The Eighth International President
Some members may feel that it does not matter whether or not they vote or that their single vote would not make the least difference to the result or are simply indifferent to the occasion. They are quite happy to leave the election process to others and accept whatever the outcome might be. Nevertheless, as an eligible voting member, it is your duty to participate in the election of the Eighth International President for The Theosophical Society. Every organization needs an illustrious head to provide the leadership to give it direction and reinforce the mission of the movement and in the case of The Theosophical Society, to uphold the three declared Objects of the Society. It is incumbent upon us to elect a new President who could lead us into a new era. Your single vote may well make a difference in our selection of a new President.
Like all organizations that have been around for over a century, the Society must necessarily undergo some reformation and modernization to keep up with contemporary demands. What worked a hundred years ago may no longer be as effective today. We would have to embrace advances in technology to propagate our message and find new instruments to popularize a knowledge of Theosophy to the world. A President who is proficient and adept in modern facilities would be able to utilize all the modern aids he could find to further the cause of the Society.
Foremost on the priority list of the new President is the need to stem the fall of membership, not only to arrest the declining membership but to reverse the trend. Size does matter and membership is strength. For the movement to be relevant and influential we must have a strong membership. Indeed, we need a strong membership that includes prominent people, imbued with theosophical knowledge to influence world thought and change the world for the better. To quote a Master of the Wisdom
“The only object to be striven for is the amelioration of the condition of MAN by the spread of truth suited to the various stages of his development and that of the country he inhabits and belongs to.”
There must be a concerted effort headed by the President to attract and enlist new members, to grow the Society so that it becomes relevant. In this world of close connectivity, it should be easier today to reach out to enquirers seeking answers to the perennial questions of man, god and the universe than when the Society was first founded. The Theosophical Society has the answers for all truth-seekers if only it becomes ubiquitous. In this respect, a dynamic new International President would harness all the worldwide resources he could find and build a sustainable platform accessible to all of humanity.
We must take our duty of electing the new President seriously and vote responsibly. The importance of the office of the President could be seen in some of the remarks of the Inner Founders of the Society. In The Mahatma Letters Letter 92 received by Mr. A. P. Sinnett in Simla in October 1882, the Master K. H. says
“Each Branch has to choose its well-defined mission to work for, and the greatest care should be taken in the selection of Presidents.”
This was in the context of the election of the President of the Simla Eclectic Theosophical Society. That the presidency is watched over by the Great Ones is evident from the following statement in the same letter,
“... I would submit it to our venerable Chohan, who now gently smiles from the corner of an eye, instead of frowning as usual — ever since he saw you become President.”
And earlier on in the same letter, ML 92, the Master K. H. says to Mr. A. P. Sinnett,
“It was pleasant news for M. and all of us to hear how unanimously and quietly you were elected President, and we all — ‘masters’ and chelas — greet fraternally and warmly your ascension to the office.”
That the Great Ones in the early years of the TS watched over the election of Presidents even for individual lodges is remarkable. Indeed, They intervened in the election of the President for the London Lodge in 1884. At that time, Mrs. Anna Kingsford had been President of the London Lodge for about a year. This was really due to the efforts of C. C. Massey, who felt she was the only one who could keep that group from dying. But Sinnett had been back in England for about nine months, and he himself very much wanted to assume that post for the London group. There was considerable division in the lodge as a result. However, Mr. Sinnett received a letter, ML 119, from the Master in January 1884 telling him.
“Mrs. K. has to remain President — jusqu’ au nouvel ordre (until the new order).”
This was followed by a letter, ML 120, addressed “To the Members of the “London Lodge,” Theosophical Society, — Friends and Opponents” which says,
“I have just ordered two telegrams to be sent to Mrs. A. Kingsford and Mr. A. P. Sinnett to notify both that the former should continue to be the President of the ‘London Lodge’ Theos. Society.”
This is not the desire alone of either of us two, known to Mr. Sinnett, or of both, but the express wish of the Chohan Himself. Mrs. Kingsford’s election is not a matter of personal feeling between ourselves and that lady but rests entirely on the advisability of having at the head of the Society, in a place like London, a person well suited to the standard and aspirations of the (so far) ignorant (of esoteric truths) and therefore, malicious public.”
This is all the more remarkable as the directive came from the Maha-Chohan. Indeed, the Great Ones took an extraordinary interest in the affairs of the London Lodge as is evident in the next letter, ML 122, addressed “To the London Lodge, Theosophical Society” which says.
“Since the telegrams to Mrs. Kingsford and Mr. Sinnett and my letter from Mysore have not been fully understood, I was ordered by the Maha-Chohan to advise the postponement of the annual election, so as to avoid anything like precipitancy, and gain time for the consideration of this letter.”
The above illustrations go to show the importance the Inner Founders placed on the office of the President, even at the branch level, for the Simla Eclectic TS and the London Lodge TS. Of course one may say that these two lodges have special significance in the formative stages of the Theosophical Society when the Mahatmas not only got involved but intervened in the selection of Presidents. Nevertheless, if individual lodges deserved such great attention, what more can we say of the Parent Theosophical Society. Now we are talking about the election of the Eighth International President of the Parent Theosophical Society.
Two candidates have been nominated and will contend for the presidency, Bro. C.V.K. Maithreya from India and Bro. Tim Boyd from U.S.A. We have to choose one of them to be the next International President. Remembering the words of the Master, “the greatest care should be taken in the selection of Presidents”, brief biographical information has been sent out to all members. More detailed information will be made available to the eligible voting members. From such information, decisions will be made and ballots cast.
One of the questions being asked is whether the International Headquarters will be moved from Adyar should a Westerner be elected as the President. The TS was founded in New York in 1875 but moved to Bombay in February 1879 before the headquarters was established in Adyar on 19 December 1882 where it has remained till today, 131 years later. Adyar has been devotionally called The Home of the Masters as the Masters were known to have visited Adyar often in the early years and this was witnessed by some of the members of the day. The Headquarters is generally considered an occult centre, strongly magnetized and protected by the Masters. In A Short History of the Theosophical Society, Josephine Ransom writes under the Year 1908, “On a memorable occasion, 27 February, not only They but one of the Chiefs of the Hierarchy, and also H. P. B., came, Their presence being strongly felt by all, and seen by some. The Master M. said: ‘The First Section has come again to its own Shrine Room.’” In February 1931 Dr. Besant sent out a special “Call” to members of the E. S. to come to Adyar to help in building up “the Flaming Centre” asked for by the Masters. Hence, Adyar came to be known as “the Flaming Centre”. It was reported by George Arundale, the third President, that during the Second World War the Masters M. and K. H. both came to Adyar and walked around the TS estate, building a Guardian Wall of Will to protect it from evil forces created by the great conflict.
From what we know about Adyar and its attributes, it would be imprudent for any President to forsake The Home of the Masters and move the headquarters elsewhere. Interestingly, the great great grandfather, G. Muttuswamy Chetty, and great grandfather, G. Soobiah Chetty, of one of the presidential candidates, C. V. K. Maithreya, were instrumental in the purchase of the first 27 acres of Adyar for the Headquarters.
A related question to the above is whether the President will be domiciled in Adyar, even if the headquarters remain in the “Flaming Centre”. If not, could he be effectual running the headquarters remotely?
There are other questions of greater or lesser concern to members such as the inclination of the new President with regard to the theosophical teachings to be spread. Is he strictly a “back to Blavatsky” adherent or is he liberal and sympathetic to later teachings given by Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater and Geoffrey Hodson?
As voting members of the Theosophical Society, we have the duty and responsibility to select the President who would lead us effectually into a new era. There can only be one president - whom shall we select?
Come to the lodge on Saturday, 29 March 2014 when we shall have a presentation on the two candidates, their views, plans and aspirations before we cast our ballots.