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Re: theos-talk Theosophical movement in Russia: in interview

Mar 27, 2011 06:04 AM
by MKR

Thanks for posting it here. Some of the points you have made are right on
target and I hope theosophists around the world read it and think for
themselves. Also if any theosophist from the West happen to visit Russia or
Ukraine on other business, they should try to meet theosophists there. It
would definitely help, no matter whether one is inclined to Adyar or ULT or


On Sun, Mar 27, 2011 at 3:23 AM, Konstantin Zaitzev <>wrote:

> As I remembered about unpublished interview (given in last summer) I
> publish it her, for I don't like to spend my work in vain.
> It was taken because, as they said,
> "We feel the Russian theosophical movement is far too important not to have
> strong permanent links with the theosophical movement in Western Europe,
> India and the three Americas. We are also gathering data and testimonies in
> order to produce a sort of "world map of the theosophical movement and its
> vitality". For that, a good dialogue with theosophists in Russian is of the
> essence."
> ---
> To: Carlos Cardoso Aveline <>
> cc:
> Subj: Re: Theosophical Movement in Russia
> Hello Carlos,
> Thursday, July 29, 2010, 4:16:04 PM, you wrote:
> > You can give a fully public answer in your own name ("on the record");
> OK, granted that the text will be left unchanged.
> > 1) Your full name - Konstantin Zaytsev. Correct? Year of birth?
> I would rather spell it as Konstantin Zaitzev. Yet the above version is
> also correct. 1968.
> > 2) You live in Moscow?
> Yes.
> > 3) Editor and publisher of "Messenger of Theosophy"? Is the journal
> > electronic or in paper? What is its periodicity? Monthly? When was
> > it founded? How many readers?
> It has both electronic and printed versions. It is published 3 times a year
> and contains 32 pages of A4 format, 9 point size text in two columns. It
> somewhat reminds "The Theosophist" of its first years by its volume and
> outer appearance. It contains mostly translated material, though almost
> every issue contains one original Russian article.
> Initially the magazine was founded in 1908 and was an official mounthpiece
> of the Russian Section. In 1918 it was closed by the communist regime. In
> early 1990's an attempt was made to renew the magazine but only two issues,
> in 1992 and 1994, were published. In 2008, in its centennary, it was renewed
> again in rather humble scale. Up to this date (summer 2010) already 7 issues
> were published. It's hard to report an exact number of readers due to the
> pecular manner of publication. 150 copies are being printed in Moscow and
> distributed mostly there, some for free (in the theosophical meetings) and
> some are being sold almost for the cost price (around $1 per copy). Some
> other cities which have theosophical groups print small quantities around
> 10-50, two big cities in Ukraine print more, around 100. So the total
> quantity of copies of the first issue was around 400. Each group decides how
> to distribute them, for money or for free. An electronic version in PDF
> format is also available on the website. The project of digitization of all
> previous issues is on, though only 20% of the work is done. The digitized
> magazines are already put online.
> > 4) What's your general view of the theosophical movement in Russia?
> > What's a bird's eye view of its historical origin and evolution?
> The most characteristic trait is perhaps spontaneity and lack of
> organization. Only for 10 years, in 1908-1918, it had regular character and
> was a section of the Theosophical Society, though even then there were
> independent theosophical groups, or those connected directly to some foreign
> section. After the revolution many prominent theosophists, including all
> leadership, fled to emigration and later formed the Russian Section Abroad.
> Yet those who remained in Russia continued their work underground; the
> president of former Moscow Branch Sofia Gerye became the head of the
> movement, though she naturally lost connection with some parts of it. In
> 1991 Russian theosophists with participation of those who previously worked
> underground, reinstalled the Russian Theosophical Society, which wasn't
> approved by TS Adyar.
> Yet the attention of the public is much more attracted by the Roerich
> movement, which has theosophy in its basis but with some substantial
> doctrinal changes, while the theosophical teaching as taught by HPB and her
> close associates has not so much adherents. The New Acropolis in Russia has
> one of its biggest sections and is more active and numerous than the
> Theosophical Society. The both movements publish works by HPB.
> Another phenomenon worth to be mentioned is the publishing activity which
> is really wide and surpasses the publication efforts of the biggest
> theosophical sections of the western counties, though conducted by the
> commercial publishers, sometimes in cooperation with theosophists. The
> Secret Doctrine, Isis Unveiled and Key to Theosophy are always in print, and
> at least 3000 copies of each title are sold every year. Unfortunately, the
> economic crisis has undermined this activity and forced the publishers to
> migrate to more superficial literature. See an appendix which lists Russian
> theosophical publications for the last several years.
> > 5) What about its vitality? Is it increasing or decreasing
> > right now? Why so?
> There was some growth in the last two years, but the vitality is rather
> sporadic, as the experience of the previous years shows, and I'm not sure
> about steady growth. The remarks about the organizational aspects below
> partly explain why. And people are not much active. A theosophical book with
> our address can be sold in several thousands copies but we receive only few
> letters. Also I met many theosophists who regard theosophy as a kind of
> revelation from omniscient Mahatmas given to us throgh their messenger.
> Among Russian intellectuals it gives an impression of theosophy as yet
> another sect and impedes its admission.
> > 6) How much of real interest in the inner and ethical aspects of the
> > original theosophy there is in the Russian theosophical movement?
> It's hard to say, it seems that everyone finds his own aspect of interest.
> For some it's philosophy, for others ethics, for some theosophy-science
> connection and even experimenting. For me it was the scientific aspect,
> theosophy has attracted me because it clearly explains phenomena which are
> regarded miraculous, unexplained or even non-existing by the general public.
> > How far goes the interest for its 'fashionable" or superficial aspects
> only?
> An interest to superficial aspects isn't considerable, as those who have it
> are being attracted rather to different new-age schools than to theosophy.
> > 7) What about the organizational aspects of the movement in Russia? What
> is
> > the relationship between the Theosophical Society in Russia and the Adyar
> > Society? (Initially, it seems the Russian TS was not chartered by Adyar.)
> Yes, the above mentioned renewed Russian Theosophical Society wasn't
> approved by TS Adyar. In my opinion the good relations weren't established
> due to mistakes and arrogance of both sides. Several years later RTS waned
> and ceased an official existence due to the internal splits and lack of
> support from abroad. The biggest and most active remaining part of it is
> Moscow Theosophical Society which has no official status and no officers but
> helds regular meetings which are open for all.
> > How many lodges and theosophists does the Theosophical Society in
> > Russia have, in how many cities?
> TS Adyar still has no official branches in Russia though membership slowly
> grows. Most attendants of the theosophical meetings aren't the members, and
> many members don't visit the meetings, though the groups somewhat
> interpenetrate and people from the Moscow TS join TS Adyar.
> There are theosophical groups in other cities too but they aren't official,
> though some of them have friendly connections with Moscow group. Moscow T.S.
> sometimes helps them by literature or other ways, though hasn't any
> directing functions.
> > 8) Is there any work in Russia effectively linked to - or clearly
> inspired
> > by - the Pasadena Society (former "Point Loma" and "Covina")?
> No, as far I know.
> > 9) Is there any influence in Russia of the United Lodge of Theosophists?
> Not much. I am the only ULT associate in Russia which I know of, though of
> course there can be others. I met several people who strictly hold to the
> teachings of H.P. Blavatsky and W.Q. Judge only. In 1998 I've published ULT
> declaration in Russian both in the Internet and in the printed form. Several
> years ago "Ocean of theosophy" and some articles by W.Q. Judge were
> published, though the quality of translation of the former wasn't
> satisfactory. As far I know, it was an initiative of American ULT
> associates. There is an improved translation of "Ocean" on our website.
> > 10) How do you see the international movement today? What about its
> > strength and its vitality? What mistakes should be corrected, if
> > any, to increase its vitality worldwide? How do you see the three
> > main currents of thought in the theosophical movement?
> It seems to me that all the currents lack vitality. The leaders of the
> theosophical movement are too aged and often are completely out of time.
> There are exceptions but they are too few. In my opinion, the headquarters
> do too little to propagate theosophy, and even less to do it modern way. The
> resourses they have aren't used effeciently. Entusiastic persons often make
> much more than entire organizations and get not much support from them.
> > 11) How do you see the future of the theosophical movement in Russia
> > and in the world? What should be the international role to be played
> > by the Russian Theosophical Movement? How should it be fulfilled?
> The future is uncertain. It can grow or decay and die. Theosophical
> movement will grow and play important role it its leaders change their
> methods of work. Theosophical movement becomes alike many other schools or
> even sects, what it wasn't intended for. It should be a society for mutual
> spiritual help for people of all views who support Three Objects. Then it
> can be an important power in the world. As for the Russian theosophical
> movement, it's future will depend on general trends in Russia, i.e. will the
> country move to democracy or to clericalization. Christians cannot now join
> Theosophical Society as they have done before, for they would be anathemized
> by the Church. 100 years ago one could visit both the church and the
> theosophical meetings, what most Russian members did, now he has to make
> choice. So the theosophical movement is rather a part of underground than a
> part of mainstream which it almost succeeded to become in beginning of 20th
> century. Due to this it's hard to say anything about international role of
> the Russian theosophical movement, though 20 years ago many people thought
> that it will be the center from which revitalization of the world
> theosophical movement will begin. Probably we have to position the
> Theosophical Society as fully secular and even scientific society.
> > 12) What about the theosophical movement in Ukraine?
> Unlike that in Russia, it has much common with theosophical movement of any
> other western country. It has its official center in Kiev, 4 lodges, and
> good connection with Adyar headquarters. Ukrainian theosophists (they are
> mostly Russian-speaking) regularly visit international conventions and
> congresses, organize their own conferences and seminars which are sometimes
> attended by theosophists from Russia. The literature in Ukrainian language
> is lacking, the Russian translations are in use. (Russian and Ukrainian
> languages are much alike, like Spanish and Portuguese). Recently "The Voice
> of Silence" was translated to Ukrainian.
> > 13) How do you see the actual relationship between the theosophical
> > movement in Russia and the international theosophical movement?
> It isn't considerable. It is so probably due an inactivity from the
> headquarter's side and lack of knowledge of foreign languages from the
> Russian side. And many theosophists have not enough money to travel.
> > 14) In what aspects this relationship is strong and well?
> In digitization, translation and publishing activity.
> > In what aspects it is not well?
> In most others. Personal visits are rare.
> > What possible barriers are there in this relationship to be removed?
> Conservatism. Also it seems that there's a strong prejudice against
> Russians in the West, and some theosophists unfortunalely share it though
> they should be above prejudices against nations.
> > 15) In what ways can and should we take steps to increase the
> > cross-cultural dialogue and cooperation between the movement in
> > Russia and the movement in Western countries?
> Probably we need more personal visits. Conventions and conferences are not
> enough, theosophists of one country should be guests in the houses of
> theosophists of other country and live with them for weeks. We shouldn't
> forget that one of our objects is brotherhood.

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