Re: Theos-World Synthesizing Organisational Discussion
Jul 05, 2009 07:35 PM
Robert Bruce, has given an excellent summary of the issues in putting
together a properly functioning TS.
Any fundamental change is going to take time and going to be a complex job
due to the International nature of TS. In the interim, I would like to add a
few comments concentrating on the current situation in TS. In my opinion,
the issues underlying the current crisis can easily be understood by looking
at three events that took place and this may help find a fix for the crisis.
Then we can consider re-vamping the the organizational structure of TS.
The key event is the now famous ultra secret disenfranchisement attempt by a
handful of general council members to take away the direct voting of members
in the election of the president and general council members take over the
power to appoint the president. Currently, it is the general council members
who have the monopoly to nominate the presidential candidates. By
monopolizing the appointment power, the general council members take total
control of presidential appointment, thus the TS.
The timing of this attempt and those behind it, speaks for itself. It was
immediately after the attempt to defeat Radha Burnier failed miserably. The
quartet behind the attempt included the defeated candidate and three general
council members who nominated the defeated candidate. Many members saw this
as a final end run attempt to seize control of TS after losing the election.
Once, the control is seized, the general council can change the rules any
way they want to without telling the membership. It was a very smart move.
But early discovery and broadcast to members with the help of Internet saved
Before visiting other two significant prior events, we need to remember that
each section has one member in the general council. India has about 12,000
members and there are other miniscule sections with a couple of hundred
members, each represented by one member. This lop sided arrangement gives
undue representation for these very small sections and the section leaders
enjoy this power. So without counterbalance of direct voting by members -
one vote - one member - it is only time before disaster strikes TS, because
human nature being what it is, pride and power can be very strong motivating
forces. Everyone can easily see through the mind set of anyone who wants to
do away with direct voting. This is very dangerous to TS.
Disenfranchisement attempt was the third act. The first act was the
allegation that Radha Burnier was mentally and physically fit and hence she
should not be elected. It was based on the opinion of lay men and women.
Initially it appeared credible because those behind the allegation were well
known leaders. The allegation was knocked down when three well regarded
independent physicians from two continents certified that she is fit,
mentally and physically. On health matters, we rely on professional opinions
and not hear say from lay men and women. Still, the allegers, did not
retract even after seeing the physicans' reports, and this shocked many
The second act followed immediately after the election. Due to significant
number of members in India, Indian membership support is critical for any
one who wants to get elected as president. Even as early as 1930, Annie
Besant, most saviest of all leaders with wide experience in organizing and
leading people, was fully aware of this. And she openly advised George
Arundale before he ran for the office to get to know the Indian Section
members. An allegation was made that there were procedural errors in the
election in the Indian section. Indian section challenged the allegers to
substantiate the allegations and none was forthcoming.
Also the discord between two groups of general council members was reflected
in the voting tally in the general council meeting. We do not know if
anything is going on to resolve the cleavage among the general council
Transparency is the built-in protection in the open societies. Master KH,
in his 1900 letter to Besant warned her that - Misleading secrecy has given
the death blow to numerous organizations. None of the leaders, elders, and
scholars seems to have picked up on its critical significance to the TS.
TS is not a secret society and hence there is no reason why immediate full
implementation of transparency should not take place. Sections are totally
autonomous. Section leaders, who are members of general council, cannot be
removed by the general council. So, sections can implement total
transparency immediately and they do not need assent from anyone. Members
would joyously welcome it. As a first step, they can open up their board and
committee meetings to members. If they need practical help, they can talk to
their local school boards, county and city government. These have extensive
experience in running their administration and meetings in the open. In the
USA, there are criminal penalties for public bodies for failing to do all
their discussion and decisions in the open. This forces the discussions and
decisions to be made in public and not in secrecy.
Theosophical leaders, have too long operated behind the scenes. Also there
seems to be an elitist attitude in assuming they do not need to interact and
exchange ideas with members. Unless this is understood and leaders change
their mode of operation, it is going to be very difficult to lead. Currently
after all the events since the start of election, many members have a very
low level of trust in their leaders. It is the leaders' responsibility to
understand it and take bold steps to turn it around.
The effect of all of the above is being felt in the membership trend. Most
sections outside India are having a hard time to recruit and retain members.
We are also hearing of long-time members leaving the TS.
When leaders do not act, it is time for the dues paying members take it upon
themselves and demand change. Passivity in the membership only encourages
the leaders to ignore the members and make decisions which the leaders are
deluded to think are good for TS and theosophy, while in reality they are
counter productive. It is time to tell the leaders that the King has no
Visit www.theosophy.net and enjoy.
On Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 1:02 PM, robert_b_macd <
> Can we synthesize some of the related discussions going on in Theos-Talk
> in order to get a broader picture of what the issues are at putting
> together a properly functioning TS?
> MKR has been writing passionately on how the Adyar TS must protect the
> member's right to elect their own president. In a recent post on TT
> (Message #52022) he outlines the structure of the TS, the autonomy of
> the various levels and how it is the autonomous members who finally
> elect the president of the Society.
> In an earlier post I had suggested an entirely different way of choosing
> a leader (Message #49995). My motivations were prompted by a look at
> the latest election at Adyar and a thought that it was possible that
> many members might not have any confidence in either of these two
> candidates. I suggested a constitution where again the autonomy of the
> members was protected, and anyone gaining power would have to withstand
> the scrutiny of the members of their own lodge, those who know these
> people best. In theory, all leadership would come from among the best
> that each lodge has to offer. In practice, of course, the best that a
> lodge has to offer may not be in a position to take on such roles due to
> other obligations. Also, the discussion of the ES brought up another
> facet to the whole leadership question.
> One way of looking at Tibetan Buddhism, is that traditionally, the Dali
> Lama was the Head of Buddhism in Tibet, and the Panchen Lama was the
> Heart. Similarly, in the TS, Olcott was the Head and Blavatsky the
> Heart. Olcott looked after organizational matters but always deferred
> to Blavatsky on matters of doctrine. In the ideal world, Head and Heart
> become one, but in the material world they are divided, the perfect
> circle becomes the ellipse. In this setup, it appears that it is
> acknowledged that it is difficult or impossible to have a leader who is
> both organizationally adept and doctrinally adept. Therefore the two
> are separated. If the Head allows itself to be guided by the Heart,
> then all is well, if not then decay will ultimately set in.
> As I was concerned with getting some Heart into the position of
> President, I was looking for a way of choosing the President that took
> the power of nomination away from any small body, and also took into
> consideration that those with the most Heart will tend to be more
> introspective and less known to the membership at large. Of course such
> leaders may also be organizationally inept, thereby making the current
> organizational structure and voting method of the TS as outlined by MKR
> the preferred one. You will get an organizational Head in the
> position of President when you allow traditional and honorable
> politicking to occur. Some might feel the problem with the current
> president at Adyar is that in trying to be both Head and Heart, she has
> attempted the impossible, especially given that she may have had a
> greater tendency towards doctrinal matters, than she does organizational
> ones. Clearly, the Adyar TS needs a competent organizational leader to
> be President. The nomination process needs to be looked at with
> questions of how elections can be opened up giving those with good
> organizational skills the ability to become noticed and ultimately
> elected to the position of president of the TS.
> If we are looking for organizational excellence in a TS President, it
> would be argued that the leader of the ES should never become president
> of the Society. There is an inherent dynamic tension in the
> relationship between Head and Heart, when the two are separated. There
> is the necessity of movement and the possibility of growth when the two
> roles are conducted properly. When the two roles are one, there is
> inevitably stagnation as the roles get blended and debased.
> I will continue with further analysis of the ES and its head in my next
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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