Theosophy Forward 4th Quarter 2013 Mini Interviews

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Mini interviews

John Algeo

James Andrew LeFevour

Domen Koèevar

David Grossman

Chaganti V.K. Maithreya

Deepa Padhi

Nancy Patterson Bragin

Opinions and ideas expressed in the mini ­interviews are exclusively of those who are being interviewed. They don’’t necessarily represent the ideas and opinions of the compilers of Theosophy Forward.

The responses of the interviewees are not edited for content. Some contributors give short answers to the questions while others touch upon the subject more elaborately.

the society mi 2 john algeo

John Algeo

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

John Algeo, from the U.S.A. I joined the T.S. at the age of 17 in 1947.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I was President of the Florida Lodge (Miami) shortly after joining. In later years, I was president of the Atlanta, Georgia, Lodge and chairman of the board for the Stil-Light Theosophical Center in North Carolina. In the American Section, I served on the National Board of Directors (1984–7), as First Vice President (1987–93), and as National President (1993–2002). I was international Vice President 2002–8.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I read a pamphlet about Theosophy as a “dangerous heresy” in the library of a Jesuit church in Miami; then I saw a T.S. meeting announced in the Miami Herald newspaper, attended, and joined a few weeks later. So I say that the Jesuits converted me to Theosophy.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy offers the most explanatory view of the cosmos and human life I have ever found, and it provides the best guide for successful living out of all systems of thought I’ve encountered.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The Secret Doctrine because it is the fullest exposition of the cosmos and humanity.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

The Adyar society needs to keep abreast (internationally) with current developments in communication (as Theosophy Forward is doing!) and with the presentation of the Ancient Wisdom for modern times. It also needs to critically appraise its form of organizational government and make whatever adaptations that appraisal leads to.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

The movement as a whole needs to work more assiduously at fulfilling the Mahachohan’s vision of its future and its contribution to the welfare of the planet and all humanity.


James Andrew LeFevour

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

James Andrew LeFevour, from Wheaton, Illinois, USA and I joined in 2010 so I have been a member for 3 years.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I am involved in our Study Lodge, Co-Masons, and I teach Reiki. My work entails photo editing for the publishing house, AV production, Webinar management, and being on the Programs Committee. I am also a Friar of The Paracelsian Order, and I enjoy volunteering my time and technical skills to Madre Grande Monastery.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I was introduced 3 times until it finally sunk in. The first is when my world religions mentor in high school took me and some of his favoured students to the Theosophical Society and showed it to us. The second time, I moved very near and was looking for a quiet place to write. I wandered to the campus almost in a daze and sat in a corner of the library. I saw some leftover lecture notes on The Secret Doctrine and it was like discovering very sacred glyphs. I knew that this book was important, and yet I was too shy to pursue it by asking more about the Society itself. The third time, I interned for my master’s degree at the publishing house. When my internship was over I had to come to terms with the fact that I was not capable of leaving this place. I got a membership and volunteered my time instead of moving onto another actual job somewhere else. Eventually they hired me because I wouldn’t leave.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

When I think of Theosophy I define it as perhaps the most recent incarnation of the Ancient Wisdom. While it is the Truth, and it is my path, I find it most effective to think of it as a very efficient tool. I think everyone should have their own Theosophical tool, that’s how great I think it is. And as any owner of a superior tool should, I have dedicated my life to learning how to use it properly.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

I’ll offer two books for different reasons.

My first favourite is The Key to Theosophy by H. P. B. That was the first book that gave me my much desired definition for what is Theosophy and how to practice it. Plus the old gal’s got some teeth when she writes it; she’s not just putting in the book what people want to hear.

My other favourite is The Light of the Sanctuary by Geoffrey Hodson. In my opinion, it is a genuine first person perspective of the journey through true Occultism. His sentiments and his experiences are so sincere, and yet there is struggle and there are pitfalls the same way you would expect from an aspirant on the path. I also appreciate that it was published posthumously as many might find it hubris for a chela to publish a diary on the subject otherwise.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

Relevance. Figuring out how young people think is not hard (I am 31), but you have to be willing to go out and talk with them. Address this generation’s concerns about life, which has more to do with them wanting to not feel insignificant more so than wanting to know what happens after we die. They are less about joining fraternities, and more about what activities we offer them today.

You don’t have to be technologically savvy to be modern, you just have to be willing to lead. If we have no leaders, no one will follow us.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I would wish for all Theosophical members to have a common goal amongst all our colourful differences. A house divided against itself cannot stand, and all Theosophists (in my opinion) are one house.

Forgive me for being absolutely blunt, but we should promote what we believe in instead of pointing out how other Theosophists are wrong. This includes using terms like pseudo-theosophy and neo-theosophy against already established Theosophical institutions.

My genuine wish for the future is that the body of knowledge within different Theosophical organizations will be considered as different teachings within a larger field of study. To compare it with psychology, which has theoretical concepts within Jungian psychology, Freudian psychology, Adlerian psychology, etc. Theosophy would be viewed as one body of knowledge branching into ULT Theosophy, Point Loma Theosophy, Adyar Theosophy, etc. in a very non-competitive way.

I think that excellent examples of work in a positive direction are the efforts of the International Theosophical Conference and the Theosophy Forward publication.


Domen Kocevar

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Domen Kocevar and I’m from Slovenia. I’ve been an official member of TS Jivatma for 6 years and a member of TS America for a few years.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

Besides leading our study group in Celje on Patanjali’s sutras and meditation, I do some public talks on Theosophical subjects. I also lead the Theosophical library and reading room of Alma M.Karlin in Celje with more than 9000 books which is open to public.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I was introduced to Theosophy in 1998 through Aristid Havlicek who’s been involved in Theosophy since 1970. Theosophy was my love at first sight. Since that time, I’m part of our group. I do visit all Theosophical societies around the world, wherever I am, trying to connect with everybody whose work is connected to the foundations that were set by H. P. B. Also the ones that are forwarding the qualities of Theosophy without mentioning it. Although I believe that to be a Theosophist you don’t need to be a member of Theosophical Society, we did start an ‘independent’ Theosophical Society in 2007 that is open to everyone.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

I feel it as a huge attempt (to me the best so far in human history), to reach towards the greatest goal of understanding everyone and include everyone who is helping humanity on its path of evolution towards perfection. It is the endless attempt of moving towards Divine Wisdom. If you climb in direction of that ideal, your inclusiveness will grow, glimpses of deeper understanding will appear and most important of all, your concrete work in the big plan will slowly become clearer. And then you won’t have time to waste on unimportant quarrels that were/are still present also in the Theosophy.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Besides The Voice of the Silence, Light on the Path and At the Feet of the Master as endless pocket-size jewels, I was many times touched by Idyll of the White Lotus, a very inspirational novel. In our study groups we use works from I. K. Taimni, especially Self-culture in the Light of Ancient Wisdom and Science of Yoga with Taimni’s precious commentaries on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

I’ll be very abstract in this. Biggest, eternal challenge in this loud, noisy time, is to find silence inside and then more easily you know what to do in all situations. If all individuals will be clearer on their ‘personal’ dharma, dharma of our different but same societies will be acted out decisively. If we really try to do our work well, bridges of cooperation and future together projects pop up so naturally and inevitable.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I think almost all theosophical societies have at least a slight feeling that there were good old times when lodges, study groups, lectures where full of people and today’s situation is a bit slow and sad. Qualities that were set as a foundation for TS in general are today present around us but we don’t see them because they are not tagged with a ‘Theosophy’ sign. But that was never a goal. A lot of people are living Theosophy but don’t know for it. That makes me happy. And connecting with those people and activities in a bigger plan, and connecting with all Theosophists in the world will make us see that a lot of work has been done in sowing the seeds. That there are a lot of us here. And what makes me still happier? That a lot more work is still waiting to be done. Let’s find it, let’s do it.

The Society MI 8 David Gr
David Grossman

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is David Grossman. I’ve lived in Brooklyn New York for nearly half my life. I was born in Chicago, Illinois and later lived in Southern California where I first made physical contact with a Theosophical organization, the ULT in Los Angeles. I signed their membership card sometime prior to 1975. I am also a member of the TS.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I have not been active in any lodge in more than a decade. Recently I have become involved in ITC (International Theosophy Conferences) where I am the acting treasurer of the organization. In the early part of the first decade of this century I was involved in a Theosophical independent writing group and wrote articles and participated in a regular column in Theosophy Magazine. I also lent some of my photographic work to the magazine. The last years of the publication incorporated imagery into the magazine which really added a nice dimension to the publication. Unfortunately Theosophy Magazine was discontinued. I’ve participated in creating independent public workshops on Theosophy in New York City, some of which were presented at the Theosophical Society. Previous to that I was actively involved in the dissemination of Theosophy through the New York ULT and before that in Los Angeles. In New York I was involved in the production of a Theosophy television show that was distributed widely for many years in the New York area and other regions.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

In the summer of 1970 I got a job in a small bookstore in Aspen, Colorado and ran into a copy of Isis Unveiled . In the natural course of events I met the person who recommended the bookstore carry the book. From him I learned about Theosophy, its history and the existence of various Theosophical groups in the U.S. and the world. A few years later I visited the United Lodge of Theosophists while on a trip to Los Angeles.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy means at least two things to me: the teaching, presented by H. P. B. and her teachers, and elaborated on by other Theosophical writers, is the most cohesive and informative presentation of that Ancient Wisdom Tradition, scattered throughout the religions, sciences, myths and philosophies of mankind across the ages. It is a master-key for the understanding of the underlying unity of all beings and the “progressive march toward a higher life” that all sentient beings are engaged in. Theosophy also stands for that great evolutionary impulse in all ages that we Theosophists call the Theosophical Movement appearing under many names and expressions but always upholding the dignity of man and the spiritual pedigree of every being.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

Isis Unveiled and Th e Secret Doctrine by H. P. B. are profoundly unique books, encyclopedic in scope and overwhelming in the evolutionary vision they present. I have found the Hindu classic, although not strictly a Theosophy book, the Bhagavad Gita, very rewarding in bridging the gap between Theosophical theory and living the life. It has been referred to as “the study of adepts.” One can’t forget The Voice of the Silence which resonates up and down the octaves of our nature.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

The biggest challenge is to remain relevant to the active evolutionary needs of the race; in other words to actively apply Theosophical principles which are universal, to the growing needs of civilization in terms of the environment, international relations, religious fundamentalism, world hunger and to combat the soulless onslaught of scientism or materialistic reductionism all too often carried forth in the name of science. This can be done by keeping the original teachings before the public and by acting as Theosophists in the uncompromising way H. P. B. did by speaking “truth to power”. The TS (all Theosophical groups) is made up of individuals. We can either hide behind the accomplishments of the past and think we are doing something special by attending meetings and mainly preaching to the congregation or we can infuse the movement with life by accepting the challenge of the present circumstances of the cycle. This demands participating in the public forum of ideas. Infusing Theosophical ideas into the public dialog is what H. P. B. did. Sometimes the worry of diluting Theosophy is misplaced. A worse fate is to be unrecognized at all. If we don’t speak up about Theosophy, the philosophy and its implications, others will paint a distorted picture of its teachings and founders as we have seen over the last 138 years.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

That it will be an ameliorating force & guide; a light, illuminating the many dark days of the Kali Yuga.

Chaganti V.K. Maithreya

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Chaganti V.K. Maithreya. I am from Adyar. I have been a member for over 44 years.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I am the President of the Madras Theosophical Federation and the TOS, Chennai. Besides, I am on the Indian Section Council & the National Board of the TOS, India.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I am a fifth generation member and hence came into contact with Theosophy since I can remember things.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

It is a holistic way of life I aspire to live and a body of truths I persevere to learn.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

The ML, LMW & The Secret Doctrine. [I find it difficult to choose.] There is no doubt that the SD is a unique work, unparalleled in modern times.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

There is a dearth among its members of youth, well-read persons and committed volunteers. All three combined present the biggest challenge to the organization.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I would like each member to live a Theosophical life and make efforts to “Popularize the knowledge of Theosophy.”

Deepa Padhi (left) with Tim Boyd

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

I am Dr. Deepa Padhi, retired Prof. of Philosophy. I have Indian Nationality as I belong to Odisha, a state in the Eastern part of India. I have been a member of Debapi Lodge, Bhubaneswar, Odisha for last 19 years.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

Am the Secretary of Debapi Lodge and President of TOS, Mahabharat Group. Most of the members of TS are members of TOS and some of the TOS members have joined the TS.

I organize meetings and invite eminent persons from different spiritual and religious organisations, scientists and philosophers to speak on science, spirituality, religion and philosophy. I invite as guests members of other social, spiritual and religious organisations so that they would at least know about Theosophy and its motto – “There is no religion higher than Truth”.

I also organize workshops / retreats on certain concepts of Theosophy and invite as participants students from University as well as members from other Lodges.

In our lodge, we celebrate the birth Anniversary of Dr. Annie Besant (October 1) and the White Lotus Day on May 8.

I give talks on ‘Theosophy’ and ‘Indian Philosophy’ in our federation meetings as well as lodge meetings. Sometimes I take study classes for three consecutive days and contribute articles to a journal ‘Theoscientist’ which has International circulation. I do sometimes contribute articles to ‘Viswadhara’ which is a Theosophical magazine in the local language.

Would like to mention here that our TS and TOS members are running a ‘play school’ for children below 4 years of age in a slum area whose parents are daily laborers.

We are also running a ’Day Care Centre’ for senior citizens below the poverty line which has 10 male and female members. They are provided food, clothing, medical assistance and three of them are given shelter as they are homeless.

We are continuing with the project ’Save a thalassemic child ’started in 2010 in which we sponsor 60 poor thalassemic children by providing blood transfusion free of cost through-out the year as per individual need.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

I would like to tell you that I belong to a ‘Theosophists’ family. My father, maternal, uncles, brothers, brothers-in-law and sisters were member of Theosophical Society. My father Late Dr. R. C. Rath had joined TOS in 1929 when he was only 19 and later on he become the founder President of Utkal Theosophical Federation, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. I grew up with a Theosophical background and formally joined TS in 1994. Interestingly my father had never asked me or any of my brothers and sisters to join the TS. He left it to our volition. I remember attending TS International convention at Adyar, Chennai, India when N. Sri Ram was the International President.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy to me is a way of life. It is not only an intellectual pursuit of ageless wisdom but practical teachings to be practiced in day to day life. Practical Theosophy as selfless service to bio community is what holds for me to-day.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

At the feet of the master’ is my pocket guide-book which is always there in my hand bag. It constantly reminds me of the Higher Power. I do like ‘The Secret Doctrine’ by Madam Blavatsky mainly because it is secular but contains the essence of all religions. There are many books by Dr. Annie Besant, C. W. Leadbeater, Paul Brunton, J. Krishnamurti, I. K. Taimni and Radha Burnier which I also consider as my favorites.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

The biggest challenge the TOS is facing at the moment is, in my opinion, the lack of motivation for self-transformation. We are being more theoretical and intellectual instead of being practical. It is practice that makes a man perfect. Unless the principles of Theosophy are practiced in our day-to-day life, all our studies are of no value. They become futile.

There are only a few Theosophists who follow the Path in their lives. The social impact, therefore, is getting lost. Possibly, that could be the reason why the younger generations are not only getting attracted to the study of Theosophy and its practices.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

Theosophical Society needs to emphasize on transformational practices and motivate members to be more open, tolerant, compassionate, and non-judgmental towards others. There should be less of speech more of practice.


Nancy Bragin

1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?

My name is Nancy Patterson Bragin, I live in Southampton, Pennsylvania, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I started studying Eastern Philosophy and then Theosophy in the late 1960’s, an auspicious time during the Vietnam War when we baby-boomers thought we would change the world. I still believe we will.

2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?

I  belong to the Abraxas Lodge and have been a member for six years. The founder of Abraxas, Bob Fahey, is a close friend, and we’re both concerned that our members are getting up in age and our recruitment of youth — the future of Theosophy — is non-existent. I’ve taken this on as my dharma — spreading the teachings of Theosophy in a modern way to those outside of the Theosophical community through social media, articles, blogs, producing videos and speaking at local events. I have a video series in development on the remarkable lesser-known Grand Dames of Theosophy such as Dora Van Gelder Kunz, Alexandra David-Neel and Clara Codd. By the way, Theosophy Forward is doing an excellent job of presenting the teachings in a modern, relevant and fresh way. Kudos.

3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?

While in college I became passionate about H. P. B. and her teachings. The fire still burns.

4. What does Theosophy mean to you?

Theosophy is the essence of my being; we are all part of the Eternal One, drops in the ocean, and together we can and will shift into unity consciousness. ‘Seek shelter in the Eternal alone’ nicely sums it up for me.

5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?

It’s impossible to pick my favourite Theosophical book – they permeate my life as daily reminders and inspirations. TheVoice of the Silence is always nearby – magical, poetic with beautiful streamers of consciousness. A favourite passage: “When he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE — the inner sound which kills the outer.”

I have to admit I haven’t been able to read the entire TheSecret Doctrine cover to cover. It feels like my head will explode at the thought. The largeness of it is overwhelming to my brain as it tries to sort it all out. It’s more of a staple in my life, a reference book with an index where all answers to my questions can be found. At the Feet of the Master rounds out my top three, a simple and elegant jewel of esoteric wisdom. I like to randomly open it up to a page, and find it timeless.

6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS is facing at the moment?

To stay true to the teachings of H. P. B. and at the same time remain current, appeal to and attract the youth of today through new and social media, for they are our future.

7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?

I wish for all Theosophical groups to stop the inner squabbling and unite as one strong voice to guide mankind not only by spreading the Masters teachings but more importantly, by being one united voice of Truth. We’ve got to walk our talk.

http://www.theosophyforward.com

2 thoughts on “Theosophy Forward 4th Quarter 2013 Mini Interviews

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