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Autonomy in the Theosophical Society

Apr 28, 2011 06:45 AM
by MKR

Autonomy in the Theosophical Society

One of the key features that differentiates Theosophical Society from all
organizations is the principle of autonomy at individual, lodge, and Section
level. Each is fully autonomous so long as none of the rules of the
organization are violated.

Autonomy is the key to most creative, efficient and effective functioning in
furthering the cause of theosophy.

Recent event surrounding the Orlando Lodge has brought to the forefront,
autonomy issue. Lodge activities are ok so long as the First Object of TS is
complied with. This lodge is 75 years old and has been continuously
operating with its own programs. It is no brainer to shut it down.

When American Section Board of Directors decided to withdraw the charter of
the lodge and then tried to seize the property and assets of the lodge,
members were shocked. There was no explanation as to specific reasons why
the decision was taken. None of the officers personally visited the lodge
either. It appeared as if the reasons for closure are great secrets that the
Board did not want to share with its dues paying members. It was all the
more bizarre in the midst of continuing drop in membership and shrinking of
number of lodges. (We now have half the membership we had in 1920s.)

The matter would have ended with the Section seizing the property and assets
with the help of the US Courts. This was not to be. The lodge appealed to
the International President for a review of the decision of the Board. This
is per due process procedure provided by the rules of TS. And, the
International President attached the lodge directly to Adyar for a period of
two years. The Section President unsuccessfully tried to personally convince
the International President to reverse the decision.

Finally a short account appeared in the official magazine sent to all
members. It was claimed that the Florida Federation complained to the
National President about the detrimental activities of the lodge and this
was supposed to be the reason for withdrawal of the charter. No specific
details were provided.

Federations have no standing relative to the lodges. Also they are
prohibited from interfering with the lodges and their activities. This being
the case, it is unexplainable as to why the Board listened to the Federation
complaints.  The Federation should have been told that it is none of their
business and point out to them they are prohibited from interfering in lodge
matters. Apparently this was not done, but the Board used their allegations
to support their decision to close the lodge.

Interference by the Federation is something that the Board should look at.
The officers of the Federation who interfered in this case should be
publicly reprimanded and all Federations should be reminded that they should
not directly or indirectly interfere in lodge matters. This will prevent the
Federations being used as a catâs paw to beat up the lodges where it is

In the above matter, the Board should take up this policy issue seriously
and transparently address it. I hope it does soon and let the members know
what they have done to fix it.


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