A letter to TS General Council Members
Dec 16, 2008 04:05 PM
Dear Brothers & Sisters:
The upcoming meeting of the TS General Council, will be a very important one
due to the critical situation arising out of the events since last December.
The attached letter to the Members of the General Council was sent
yesterday. The letter speaks for itself. I am sending it to you since it may
interest you as a committed member. You may want to call your National
Secretary/President and communicate your views and suggestions.
A dissentious organization led by leaders who do not command a high level of
trust of the members does not bode well to the future of TS. Let us hope GC
will make wise decisions in the best interests of the TS.
M K Ramadoss
December 15, 2008
To: All General Council Members
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
As an ordinary member, looking at the events since last December, I am very
saddened and sometimes I wonder what is in store for the TS and theosophy in
the near future. Now TS is certainly at a very critical juncture like of
which I have not seen in my lifetime.
I am just an ordinary member and do not hold any positions, elected or
appointed. I also do not aspire for any positions in the future. I am trying
to present to you all, for your consideration, my view of the events which
will be that of thousands of ordinary members who are in my situation. This,
I hope will provide the GC members a totally different perspective than seen
from the viewpoint of GC members who are too close to day to day
administrative involvement with the TS.
Since the upcoming meeting of the GC will be one of the most important ones
in our lifetime and thought I should share my views, in the hope that they
would help the GC members take decisions which are in the real best
interests of TS and theosophy. Wrong decisions may cause serious damage to
TS and hurt the spread of theosophy and revival would take a long time and
would be very difficult.
BACKGROUND TO CURRENT CRISIS:
The first inkling of the election issue came to many members when we
received a letter from our GS informing us that Radha Burnier is mentally
and physically sick and hence we should vote for her opponent. Members hold
their GSs in very high regard and have a high level of trust in them. After
all the keynote of TS is "Brotherhood" and the motto is THERE IS NO RELIGION
HIGHER THAN TRUTH.
Lo and behold, shortly thereafter, thanks to the Internet, we learnt that
two well-known and highly reputed physicians who had examined Radhaji,
certified her to be fit, both mentally and physically. This was followed by
a third physician from Europe (who also happened to be a General Secretary)
independently came to the conclusion that Radhaji is fit, mentally and
physically. We place high confidence in the professional evaluation of
physicians when health matters are concerned. This new information
certifying Radhaji's fitness was known only to those who have access to
Internet. Those who did not have access to Internet were under the mistaken
view that Radhaji is sick. So, we expected that the GSs would take the
trouble to inform all the members about this new professional information.
We expect theosophists, above all, the leaders to be up-front and have a
duty to provide accurate, timely and full information to members so that
members can make up their own minds and decide whom they want to vote for.
Also brotherhood and justice demands that all actions be evenhanded and also
seen to be evenhanded. This did not happen and the GS's did not pass on the
physicians' certification information to the members, thus tilting the
election process. Is this brotherhood in action? The consequence of this
(in)action to inform members, is that when members found out what the GS's
have done, they lost trust in their leaders. No leader can lead an
organization whose members have a very low level of trust in their leaders.
POST ELECTION EVENTS:
In spite of the above attempts by some GC members to defeat Radhaji, members
worldwide elected her with overwhelming majority. Members thought that the
matter was settled and we expected everyone to move forward to address
various problems facing the TS.
But members were in for a surprise and shock. The same group of GC members
who sought to defeat Radhaji sent to GC, a clever and shocking plan to
disenfranchise members worldwide and seize the presidency and make the
president a puppet. No one was told about the disenfranchisement and rule
change to seize control of the presidency. The plan was super secret, known
only to the GC members. The hardworking members at Adyar and Olcott woke up
one day and found out about it not from the leaders, but from Internet. A
few brave souls who saw the secret plan, and its far-reaching consequences,
had the wisdom and courage to let the members know what is going on.
The intent of the plan was to be taken up speedily by the GC at its December
meeting and get it approved. It would have been a done deal, but for
Internet. General membership around the world would have been surprised and
shocked by the coup.
If this was a done deal, the only recourse for members is to take legal
action against TS by filing a lawsuit. Litigation is very expensive and time
consuming and members do not have resources to do it. TS will it fight it
out using the money in the Treasury.
TS was very lucky because Internet helped to break the story and make it
known worldwide and members are discussing it. Moreover, this surreptitious
move by some GC members further damaged the trust members had in their
leaders. The trust level in the leaders is lowest many of us have seen in
MEMBERSHIP GROWTH AND RETENTION
Theosophy is for everybody, not for a privileged few. All the leaders,
starting with the Founders, HSO & HPB, worked very hard to spread theosophy
worldwide by opening new branches and thus increasing the membership. Let us
look at the current situation.
The membership around the world presents a dismal and shocking picture.
Except in India, the numbers have been going down for years. For example, in
the USA, which has the largest membership next to India, the recent Annual
"In spite of our many efforts on behalf of building membership, it has
remained more or less the same as the last several years, currently, 3,899,
a disconcerting drop of 172. Lest we get discouraged, it is helpful to look
at past statistics. At the end of 1933, the TS in America reported 4,544
members. Since then, membership has generally ranged from 4,000 to 6,000,
with a great deal of turnover." This statement needs to be viewed from the
angle of the growth of population in the USA. The population in 1933 was
125,578,763 and in 2008 it is estimated to be 305,800,376. So in 75 years,
the population has grown by 244%. If TSA has kept up with the population
growth, we would have 11,087 members today. In the past, members have raised
this issue with the leadership. In 1998, a member asked: the TSA
President/NS, "From 8000 members in 1980 when I joined, to less than 4000
today, how could you let this happen?" There was no response till today.
There is also the shocking revelation that in the Dutch Section, not a
single new lodge has been chartered in 50 years, setting a new world record.
It has also been reported that in most sections outside India, the retention
rate is very low. Members come in and stay for a year or two and leave.
>From the above, it is very clear that decline in membership is the most
urgent and critical issue for the future survival of the TS.
Much of the present problems in the GC, while caused by the Karma of the
members - how else can we explain all this - could have been avoided if
there is transparency of the activities of the GC.
In the early days of TS, there was full transparency of the activities of
the General Council. But in the last several decades, everything related to
the GC and its activities are shrouded in greatest secrecy. Members know
nothing about the issues considered and decisions taken. Also, members have
no way of knowing why decisions are made and who are the proponents so that
the real and stated reasons can be seen by the membership.
For example, it is reported that in 2006 some changes were made to the rules
and members do not know what they are and why and who are behind them. Many
members feel that the current crisis has its roots in the lack of
transparency of the GC and its decisions. Even if we are able to solve the
current crisis, the lack of transparency only increases the likelihood of
more serious crisis showing up in the future. All of us have a
responsibility to prevent such an eventuality, because a future crisis may
deal a deathblow to the TS.
Master KH, in his 1900 letter stated:
"MISLEADING SECRECY HAS GIVEN THE DEATH BLOW TO NUMEROUS ORGANIZATIONS."
I do not see why TS should be an exception. So it behooves on all of us to
heed to the advice and act on it before it is too late.
As a start, the agenda and details of the proposals in all stages should be
made public. Details of items that deal with contract, legal/litigation or
employee evaluation can be part of the executive session. When matters of
importance are discussed in open forum and members can know who presented
what and who were for and who were against will have a salutary effect
because it is then the GC member will have stand up openly and be counted.
This may hurt their public images when they take stands injurious to the
members and beneficial to themselves and this fear of having to stand up
openly will make them think what the repercussions would be on unwise
stands. It will also give members a clearer picture of any manipulation
going on. It is also one of the reasons why all democratic debates and
voting are done not behind closed doors, but in open sessions. I am yet to
see a single GC member coming out and call for transparency of the
proceedings of GC. Why? It looks like for GC members, non-transparency
allows them to play all political games behind the scenes while presenting a
saintly, public face to its members hiding all their behind the scenes
maneuverings and the votings on the issues that comes before the GC.
Continued secrecy also allows the GC to possibly mislead the members of
their behind the scenes activities.
CHANGING THE RULES:
On the heels of the election, some GC members have attempted to make the
governance issue a priority and important one and the need to quickly and
urgently and secretly change the rules. It is a simple fallacy because rule
changes would do nothing to help the membership increase and membership
retention, because of the autonomous setup of the TS at the section and
lodge levels. Due to the timing, personalities and the great secrecy
involved, many ordinary members who have followed the events preceding and
following the election see this issue as a tactic by some of the GC members
disgruntled by the defeat of their candidate. Also, ordinary members see
this as an audacious attempt by a few GC members to seize control of the
presidency and make the president a puppet. I am sure that this is obvious
to many GC members as well.
INFLUENCE OF DUGPAS AND SHAMMARS:
This is a very sensitive subject with many traditional theosophists and no
one wants to talk about it. TS is facing a serious crisis not seen during
last several decades. After considerable thought, I decided to address it. A
comprehensive understanding of the current situation is needed before a
right future course can be charted by the GC.
C Jinarajadasa, the 4th International President wrote:
"We know from the letters of the two Masters, M. and K. H., that their
action in initiating the Theosophical Movement was challenged by those "dark
powers", called Dugpas in Tibet, who are ever on the watch to hinder the
progress of Humanity. The true originators of the Madras attack on the
Society were not the Coulombs or the Madras missionaries, but these dark
powers who used them (of course unknown to themselves) as cat's-paws and
What we have today is the most serious crisis TS has seen in the recent
decades. How Coulombs and Missionaries were used as cat's paws and agents
(unknown to themselves) gives some idea of how the dark powers operate.
Since they operate on principles opposed to Truth, Honesty, moral courage,
transparency etc. you can see their using deception, misinformation,
secrecy, "end justifies the means" principle, and above all cunningness and
cleverness. They stay behind the scene and let their unsuspecting agents to
do their destructive job. They also use multiple levels of agents just as
they did in Coulomb Crisis.
Looking at the current crisis, in my opinion, one sees the hand of Dugpas
and Shammars. We need to act taking this important factor into account.
MOST CRITICAL ISSUE - MEMBERSHIP:
As discussed earlier, decline in membership and low retention rate outside
India seems to be the most important and urgent issue key to the growth and
survival of TS. "No members and No TS." TS is organized on the basis of full
autonomy at Section and Lodge levels. The President gets involved when there
is a serious problem between Sections or within a Section. Hence the
membership issue is a local issue. Membership recruitment and retention
cannot happen without the dedicated and hard workers at the lodge level. No
amount of tinkering with the rules is going to bring-in new members or
retain existing members. So we all need to address it and try to find
solutions to it before all other issues.
I have also addressed the transparency issue and it is one of the easiest to
address and fix. All democratic institutions have found ways to have all
their important decisions deliberated and taken in open forums and the few
issues that need to be addressed in executive session are done so.
Transparency acts as a firewall against preventing backdoor moves and horse
trading to the detriment of the members and the TS and the TS movement.
It is hoped that wisdom will dawn on the GC members to see the criticality
of membership growth and retention for the long-term survival and growth of
TS and spread of theosophy and will try to address it in the next meeting.
Tinkering with the rules is not going to help membership issue.
M. K. Ramadoss, Member, TS, San Antonio, Texas, USA
THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN TRUTH
Copy to: Brothers & Sisters
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