January 2017 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the January 2017 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
“A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! This seems easy enough to say, and everyone expects some such greeting. Yet, whether the wish, though it may proceed from a sincere heart, is likely to be realized even in the case of the few—is more difficult to decide. According to our theosophical tenets, every man or woman is endowed, more or less, with a magnetic potentiality, which when helped by a sincere, and especially by an intense and indomitable will—is the most effective of magic levers placed by Nature in human hands—for woe as for weal. Let us then, Theosophists, use that will to send a sincere greeting and a wish of good luck for the New Year to every living creature under the sun—enemies and relentless traducers included. Let us try and feel especially kindly and forgiving to our foes and persecutors, honest or dishonest, lest some of us should send unconsciously an “evil eye” greeting instead of a blessing.”
H. P. Blavatsky
“May no further karma attach to those who have sinned last year in thought as well as in deed. Personally they are forgiven. Let a new year and new hopes begin for them.”
Significance of The New Year
“.... let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfil them consistently.”
H. P. Blavatsky
The Why of The Theosophical Society
Chairman’s Address at the 2016 AGM
Once again it is my pleasure to address you on the occasion of our Annual General Meeting. It has become a tradition for me to start by keeping you informed of our membership strength, both current as well as historical. Historically, you can see that the volatility of the membership due to lapses in renewal continues to be our greatest challenge.
It is not that we do not get new members joining but the fact that many allowed their memberships to lapse. In the last fiscal year although 35 new members joined the Singapore Lodge, due to lapses in membership, the total membership as at 30 September 2016 dropped 5.6% from the previous year to 368. However, in the meantime, mainly through the recently completed 42nd edition of A Course in Theosophy, we have an intake of 20 new members. So, as we speak, we have 388 members on our register.
I would like to reiterate what I have often said. Membership is important, as the Society exists only when there are members. We need members to keep the Society alive, vibrant and relevant. Yet our annual intake of new members could hardly keep pace with the number of defaulters. The sad fact is that many of the defaulters may not actually have the intention to let their memberships lapse – simply cases of “out of sight, out of mind”. That is the unfortunate consequence when members do not come to the lodge to participate in the lodge’s programmes due to other commitments or activities. It is a pity. Otherwise the lodge would be a lot more vibrant. This brings me to my keynote for this AGM.
Seventeen of us recently attended the 13th Triennial Conference of the Indo-Pacific Federation of The Theosophical Society which was held in Auckland, New Zealand. The theme of the conference was “The Why of The Theosophical Society”. The theme might strike some as strange as one would have thought the why of the Society would have been obvious and ingrained in all members and needs no further deliberation or elucidation. But sadly this is not so. While the “why” may be clearly defined in the Society’s charter, surprisingly it is not evident to the casual member. Most members, unfortunately, are not mindful of it. Indeed, many members may not know why the Society was founded. This is the reason why we reaffirm The Purpose of The Theosophical Society every year on our anniversary to remind our members of the “Why” of the Society. Even then, it may not be in the consciousness of every member.
The Why of the Theosophical Society is unequivocally stated in the Mahatma Letters. Indeed, it is for that very reason that I chose to give a talk on An Overview of the Mahatma Letters at the 13th Indo-Pacific Conference. It would be good if members take up the study of the Mahatma Letters. I believe that every member who studies the Mahatma Letters earnestly will be in tune with the why of the Theosophical Society and become an emissary for its cause.
We know that much of the world’s woes and man’s suffering stem from ignorance – ignorance of the laws of Nature. It is precisely for this reason that the Theosophical Society was founded – to give man knowledge. In this regard, we are exhorted by the Maha-Chohan to “popularise a knowledge of theosophy”. This is reiterated by another Great One saying.
“You should, even as a simple member, learn that you may teach, acquire spiritual knowledge and strength that the work may lean upon you, and the sorrowing victims of ignorance learn from you the cause and remedy of their pain.”
“The only object to be striven for is the amelioration of the condition of man by the spread of truth.”
How wonderful it would be if we could all relate to the Cause and the Why of The Theosophical Society and strive with one mind to popularise a knowledge of Theosophy for the benefit of mankind.
Unfortunately, not all members see the Theosophical Society in the same light. Most members of the Singapore Lodge came to the Society through A Course in Theosophy. Many were attracted by the subjects covered in the course which introduced new propositions and opened up a whole new vista of the invisible worlds to them. They have found the subjects intriguing, if not fascinating. Happily, they joined the Society hoping that by becoming members they would be able to know more. Indeed, members have privileges including study classes, restricted lectures and access to the Library. Now, acquiring knowledge is good if only that knowledge can be put to good use or imparted to others as exhorted by the Great Ones.
Some people were attracted by our third object “To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man” thinking that they might learn how to become a clairvoyant perhaps, if they became members. They quickly got disappointed when they realized that is not quite possible. But in all cases, the general tendency seems be “what (more) can I get from the Theosophical Society?” as a member and not what one could do as a member to further the cause of the Society. In other words, the Why of The Theosophical Society is all but lost on them.
The work of The Theosophical Society would be so much more efficacious if more members could be mindful of its mission and work together as one body to accomplish it. The motivation would have to change from that of self-interest to that of service to mankind. Not the self-serving expectation of what one could gain from the Society but the altruism to help the Society bring a knowledge of theosophy to as many people as we could reach. The change from self-interest to service to humanity would be a powerful motivation for members to remain in the Society. Membership will become self-fulfilling and sustainable.
If, on the other hand, one were to have only self-serving interest in theosophy, it would not take long before the novelty wears out. Having attended some lectures and read some books, the member may decide that he already knows it all and there is nothing more to learn. That is when the member stops coming and consequently allows the membership to lapse. Ironically, the true student would know that there can truly be no end to learning in the ocean of Theosophy.
We are all attracted by the metaphysics of Theosophy, in particular the psychic abilities of man, a power some people covet. In truth, the metaphysics of Theosophy, intriguing as it may be, is the means and not the end of the esoteric teachings. An appreciation of the metaphysics would no doubt help one in the understanding of the laws of Nature. Knowledge of the laws of Nature would make one respectful of their workings and consequences. A knowledgeable person would be inspired to change his conduct and mode of living to live a life in perfect harmony with nature. It is the duty of members to propagate that knowledge.
Ultimately, Theosophy is spiritual philanthropy. As a Great One has said, “The only object to be striven for is the amelioration of the condition of man by the spread of truth.” By serving others, we also serve ourselves. We would remain in the Theosophical Society, keeping it strong and able to provide such spiritual philanthropy in keeping with The Why of The Theosophical Society.
given by Chong Sanne on 17 December 2016
Sister Trân-Thi-Kim-Diêu, the chairperson of the council of the European Federation of the Theosophical Society and former General Secretary of the French Section of the TS, is visiting us in early January.
Born in South-Viêtnam, Trân-Thi-Kim-Diêu’s post-graduate degree is from Montpellier University (France) in Pharmaceutical Engineering, a field in which she worked for ten years. She ended her career to serve the TS, starting in Adyar. Since joining the TS in 1972, Kim-Diêu has worked for the French Section, the European Federation (EFTS), and the Naarden Centre (ITC) where she was Chairperson. Kim-Diêu co-founded the School of the Wisdom at Naarden and launched the project for establishing a Study & Research Centre. She is the current re-elected Chairperson of the Council of the European Federation of TS. Kim-Diêu has presented programmes in Eastern European Countries, helped publish theosophical literature in local languages, and helped found the first lodge in Russia. In addition to lecturing extensively, conducting seminars in Europe, and giving a monthly course at HQ in Paris, she lectures at Summer Schools, Congresses, Conventions, the European School of Theosophy, the Krotona School, the Schools of the Wisdom at Adyar and Naarden and has lectured in Australia and New Zealand.
Come and meet Kim-Diêu and listen to her talk on Sunday, 8 January 2017, at 3 p.m.
One of the annual talks is on the Purpose of The Theosophical Society. This talk reminds us why the Society was founded in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. More importantly, we are reminded of the words of the Great Ones on the true purpose of The Theosophical Society. Understanding the purpose of the Society is important if the Singapore Lodge, as a part of this great worldwide movement, is to contribute to the noble ideals of the Society. We must realize our specific mission. As this talk will be given on 14 January 2017 when we celebrate our 128th anniversary, you have one more good reason to come and join us in our celebration.
Another annual talk which is intended exclusively for members is The Occult Hierarchy. As students of theosophy, we know that just as there are many below us climbing the ladder of evolution, there are also many above us, way ahead of the mass of humanity, who have achieved perfection—the Adepts. We also know that amid the seeming chaos in the world, there is perfect law and order supervised by the Inner Government of the World. In this talk we learn about the quest for perfection and the august fraternity of humanity who have reached the other shore—The Masters and The Path. This talk is scheduled for 21 January 2017. Don’t miss it if you are a student of occultism.
Let’s Celebrate Our 128th Anniversary
The Singapore Lodge Theosophical Society was formed by Col. H.S. Olcott on January 24, 1889. Many of us may not realise that we have been in existence for 128 years! As a matter of fact, the Singapore Lodge was formed only 14 years after the founding of the parent Theosophical Society in 1875.
To commemorate this momentous occasion, we are gathering together on Saturday, 14 January, 2017, to have an anniversary bash. On this day, we shall remind ourselves of the Purpose of the Theosophical Society and reaffirm our dedication to it.
This is one of our most important days in the year. Do come and join the merriment and rejoice together. Remember, it will be on Saturday, 14 January 2017 at 5 p.m.