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Membership issue in TS today

Mar 06, 2010 09:19 PM
by MKR

Membership issue in TS today

Some time ago, a well known member of TS who has been lecturing on
theosophical classics quoted the well known comment from one of the Adepts
that so long there are 3 members, TS will survive, seeming to imply that
membership growth or decline is unimportant. This was a shock to me, because
most of us are working hard to see what we can do to popularize theosophy to
the suffering masses who need it very badly. That was the goal set in the
famous Maha Chohanâs letter which is considered as the charter for the TS..


In any membership organization, an objective measure of growth or decline is
the number of members.

Indian section has shown a steady growth from year to year, resulting it
becoming the largest section. This seem to confirms the wisdom of the
Founders when they moved the HQ from NY to India at a time when travel in
and outside India and living conditions in India were very very difficult.

In rest of the countries outside India, membership is either shrinking or
frozen. American Section which is the next largest, the story is very sad
indeed. It is reported that it is now about half of what it used to be a
couple of decades ago. This is despite being led by dedicated, able,
scholarly, intellectual leadership over the years. This says something about
the approach by TS being wrong at a time many spiritual organizations have
shown very strong growth.


Over the years, especially since the start of the International
Electioneering, there is a deafening silence from the GC members and General
Secretaries of the Section, while we have heard a lot about International TS
rules and procedures.

Recently, I was able to get hold of the minutes of GC meeting for the last
couple of years and I pored over the minutes to get some idea of how the GC
has addressed the membership issue. I was in for an unexpected shock. In
none of the minutes, there was no discussion of the membership trend outside
India or any exchange of ideas between the GC members who are supposed to be
wiser than ordinary members like you and me. It also puzzled me.

Here are some possibilities.

1. Sectional Autonomy: Since each section is totally autonomous, no one
outside the section has any right to question or discuss the membership
growth or decline issue. It is an internal matter that only the section
leaders and their members can talk about. Could it be that some sections
have decided, for reasons of their own, that membership freeze or decline is
good for the Section.

2. May be there is a consensus among GC members that - quoting the famous
statement that TS is the Corner Stone for future religions of humanity, and
corner stones do not grow. So there is no point in spending any effort to
increase membership.

3. Is there some unwritten command or suggestion from Higher Realms that it
is a good idea not to push for membership growth.

4. TS Leaders, consisting of politicians, professors, occultists and Elders
continue to live in the safe cocoon developed in non-transparent operation
of the TS, cannot see the membership issue that stares at them.

5. Membership is a very radio active issue that no one wants to talk about
it. Any discussion will  only put the leaders in a very bad light since the
decline has taken place in their backyards perhaps in their watch and they
have no satisfactory explanation, in spite of the tall talk from them trying
to show off their learning, erudition, bookish knowledge about the
theosophical classics.

6. A very observant member recently commented that recently there is much
focus on who is mowing the lawn in Adyar, an very unimportant issue from the
organizational growth and future.  Figuratively speaking, the politicians
and professors and elders and occultists seem to be diverting the attention
of non-thinking members by diverting attention from the important
membership issue to a more emotional issue of âmowing the lawnâ everyone can
easily relate to.

Sectional Autonomy squarely puts the responsibility of the growth of the
organization in the hands of the Sections, and not on any outside power or
authority. So it is up to the Sections to see what needs to be done and do
it quickly. If not, when the treasury runs out, the Sections would become
extinct. Let us remember that even the great Roman empire disappeared when
its time was over.


We have seen all the noise that have been created about the International
Rules, procedures and decisions taken in the GC meetings. While, for some,
these rules may be an easy target to divert the attention of members from
more important issues of TS and theosophy, especially in the West, the
growth of TS does not depend on the rules.

Any tinkering with rules may be satisfying and self-serving for some
leaders, (let us not forget the ultra secret attempt to disenfranchise you
and me and seize control of the Presidency by a handful of GC members, which
would have succeeded but for its early discovery and broadcast over
Internet), no one has shown how tinkering is going to suddenly spur the
growth of  membership in the countries outside India.


The most urgent need for the future of TS and theosophy, is for the leaders
to put their heads together in a cooperative and friendly manner and attack
the membership issue head on and come up with some ideas which can be
implemented quickly. Not only these ideas be acted on, but transparently
shared with membership world-wide because whole hearted support and active
cooperation of membership is essential for any ideas to be effectively and
efficiently implemented in the various Sections. It is also time to bring
transparency in Sectional activities and this will only enhance the standing
of leaders in the minds of membership.


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