TS - What is Ailing and What can be done
Sep 29, 2008 08:59 PM
September 29, 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
I have been watching and thinking about the events that have unfolded since
last December. As a member, I want to share some of my views, which I hope
will make us all ponder and meditate, so that we all can come up with
constructive ideas which will help theosophy and TS.
CRITICAL ISSUES TODAY:
1. MEMBERSHIP GROWTH AND RETENTION
Only quantitative way to measure the growth is to count the bodies. When you
look at the numbers, over the past several decades, only in India, the
membership has grown. In rest of the world, it has gone down and in some
very drastically. We do not know the reasons contributing to the trend.
As for India, some have suggested that because Radhaji is an Indian (she is
actually a citizen of Switzerland), there is growth. Facts do not support
it. During the time when John Coats (who is from Scotland) was the
President, membership in India grew. So something right is being done in
India and members from the West should visit and spend time in India and
learn the secret to their success.
I have lived several years both in India and the USA. I found that the
lodges in India are very vibrant compared to what I have seen in the USA.
So, I am convinced that the vibrancy of the lodges contribute to membership
growth and retention, since lodges are fully autonomous with no interference
from the Section.
We are now in 21st century and Internet age. Democracy and Transparency go
hand in hand for the effective operation of democracy especially in the
autonomous setup of TS. Lodges and Sections are autonomous to carry out any
theosophical activity so long as the TS rules are not violated. In the USA,
all public activities are required to be transparent and techniques and
methods have been developed to deal with such matters as legal advise,
personnel evaluation etc in closed executive session so it is possible to
have transparency as well as confidentiality in matters which need to be
confidential. Transparency is needed to prevent decisions injurious to the
membership and to the TS made in secret.
Membership have no idea when the meetings are held, what the agendas are and
what decisions are taken and why the decisions are taken. Nor these meetings
are open to members who want to attend so that members can have a sense of
how the discussions go before decisions are arrived at.
This issue has come to the forefront, when accidentally some members found
out that a few GC members have sent in a proposal to GC to radically change
the International rules and also disenfranchise members by taking away from
members direct voting right in the election of International President. This
proposal was such a tightly held secret that even the worker bees at Olcott
and Adyar learnt it from outside sources and were surprised and disappointed
that they were not taken into confidence. Nor is there evidence that it was
deliberated in the TSA National Board meeting before submission. If this
measure were to be approved in the next GC meeting in December 2008, members
would have been surprised to find the rules have turned upside down and
members disenfranchised. Speed with which the proponents were trying to do
it is truly astounding. None of the members were told why the secrecy and
This experience makes it all the more critical that transparency is needed
at both National and International levels to prevent undesirable and
destructive decisions made in secret. So opening up the meetings and advance
notification of the agenda and member participation need to be implemented
In the 1900 letter to Annie Besant, Master KH warned "Misleading secrecy has
given the death blow to numerous organizations." This appears to be a
universal law and I do not want TS to be hit by it.
3. DIVIDE BETWEEN LEADERSHIP AND MEMBERS
The leaders are in their own private circle and there is insufficient
communication between that circle and the membership they are supposed to
represent. There should free exchange between the two groups for a cohesive
and strong TS.
In today's world it is very easy to implement it with Internet. We have
evidence that the GC members and other leaders are coordinating their
actions with the use of Internet for some years. But there is poor
communication between the leaders and the members. Just as an example, in a
free Internet maillist such as theos-talk, during the last decade I have
seen just one GS participating. It was Einar Adelsteinsson, who
unfortunately died in a swimming accident some years ago. One even gets the
feel that there is an unwritten code among leaders that they should not
participate in such Internet maillists since they do not control or own
them. This situation is not helping TS or theosophy.
4. PRESENT OVERALL CLIMATE:
The election of International President is the trigger that started all the
TS discussions on the Internet. Misleading information that Radhaji is not
fit to be elected because she was mentally and physically sick was used by
some GSs and GC members to influence general membership to defeat her and it
was not corrected even after incontrovertible information disputing that
assertion was openly presented.
Also all the past and present elected leaders were silent and did not speak
up to correct the incorrect facts going around. The result of this was many
members lost confidence in their leaders. TS members expect their leaders
act in a manner which generates a high degree of trust. In this case, they
failed and resulted in many members to have a very low opinion of their
RULE CHANGE TACTICS
As already discussed, the way the leaders tried to zip through in greatest
secrecy thru the GC, major and fundamental changes to the Rules including
disenfranchising of membership voting in International President Election,
made the members and worker bees disappointed and sad. The feel they are
being ignored in such major changes. Some also feel that a few GC members
are trying to seize the power and do not know what next they will do, if new
rules take effect. It is the vibrant active members who are the backbone of
the TS and its future. Ignoring them and not consulting them can only hurt
5. WHAT CAN BE DONE, AND DONE NOW
The current situation is very serious from every angle. Future survival and
growth of TS may well depend on what we do now. Here are some steps that
1. Immediately withdraw the proposal to GC to change the rules.
2. Bring full transparency to the operations at National and International
Level. Post the agenda of the Board meetings at least 30 days ahead of the
meeting and allow members to attend them as observers. Also a few minutes at
the start of the meetings should be allocated for members to address the
meeting. In Texas, in all public meetings, law requires public participation
by allowing each speaker to speak for 2-3 minutes on any topic. I have
personally addressed various boards over the years and it works well.
3. All the leaders and other theosophists who have access to Internet, which
I think most do have, should be encouraged to sign up and participate in
such public maillists as theos-talk. They are independent, free and are very
valuable due to world-wide free membership and participation. Such
participation can only help TS and theosophy.
I have been a member of TS for several decades and the above suggestions are
offered with the best intentions for the good of TS and theosophy. It is my
request that you seriously give consideration for the above, and take such
action you deem appropriate.
M K Ramadoss, Member TS, San Antonio, Texas USA
Note: You are free to disseminate and distribute this message to others, in
whole or in part in any manner you deem necessary.
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