As many of my theosophical readers know, I was the student of Henk J. Spierenburg. I owe him a debt he hoped I would be able to repay by teaching him theosophy in a next life. He in turn started his theosophical career in the ULT where he admired the smart students that turned up for meetings to discuss every detail. Henk stood in the tradition of independent theosophists. And as he gave me books, articles to read and magazine subscriptions it became clear to me just how important independent theosophists were in theosophical history.
It was an independent theosophist, Boris de Zirkoff, who gathered Blavatsky’s articles into what was to become the Blavatsky Collected Writings. It was eventually published by a publishing house connected to the Theosophical Society Adyar, of which I am (still) a member.
Independent theosophists (represented in the United Lodge of Theosophists among others) were the main players in the ‘back to Blavatsky movement’ which countered the excesses brought into the Theosophical Society Adyar (TS) by C.W. Leadbeater, Annie Besant and others like them.
Independent theosophists published Spierenburg’s books first. Point Loma publications was founded by former members of what is now known as the Theosophical Society with headquarters in Pasadena. Henk remained loyal to Point Loma publications as his publisher even when the Theosophical Society made it clear they would love to publish his works. Note that they only decided that when it turned out that his books were popular among many serious theosophists. Spierenburg refused to come from The Hague to Naarden (both in The Netherlands) when Radha Burnier wanted to meet him.
I guess he felt that because Radha Burnier did not appreciate his work earlier he had enough reason not to come to her, but to let her come to him. She did not. I don’t know whether I agree with that kind of fierce pride (is there a friendlier way of saying it?) – but that is how he was. I recognize that stubborn streak though. It’s a family trait I share. (Not meaning to imply any family relationship with Henk. There wasn’t any.)
I stand in the tradition of his independent theosophy. Henk was however, when I knew him, a member of the Theosophical Society Adyar. He advised its Dutch board behind the scenes. We never talked about it, but I assume he felt that the Theosophical Society Adyar, despite the flaws in its leadership, exemplified theosophical ideals best. I have so far agreed.
Implied in his support of my studies is a tremendous responsibility. I felt a similar burden yesterday when a lodge member (we had a great meeting yesterday in The Hague) said that he felt I was holding the TS hostage. People who felt it was important that I as a person stay in the TS would de facto have to agree with my position on the presidential issue – or risk loosing me. I said: I was merely being honest. While I did hope my ultimatum would shake some people up – I didn’t think my position was such that people would support my view on this merely because it was me they were supporting. I just hope people will consider this an important enough issue to think about and make up their minds about.
To be honest – the art of being convincing is a bit scary sometimes.
The fact is: as a theosophist I’m rooted not so much in the Theosophical Society but in the Theosophical Movement. That phrase was coined (as far as I know) by the United Lodge of Theosophists (ULT). It is a bit like the ‘inner church’ which unites all the outer diversity in the protestant church. The Theosophical Movement is all those people who call themselves theosophists combined. It combines the ULT, the various theosophical societies – and taken broadly such movements as the Anthroposophical Society and the Krishnamurti Foundations. I’m sure that is taking it more broadly than most ULT members would do. For me however – it is ultimately the free search for truth that is the starting point.
The members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) generally take that quite seriously – and that’s why I’m a member of that Theosophical organisation. It helps that the TS Adyar is the largest theosophical organisation in the world. I am sure one has something to do with the other.
But what if the leadership doesn’t take the members and lodges seriously enough? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself lately. What if the leadership decides they are what really counts and the membership should just trust them? Can that be a basis for sound growth? I don’t think so.
Which brings me back to the independent theosophists I was talking about. Seems to me I could be one. I could visit and even participate in lodge meetings that seem interesting. I could find out what the ULT is up to. I could study wicca and other modern offshoots of theosophical ideas and ideals. That is an exciting prospect. It also fits in with the attempt I have been making to reach out to the world beyond the theosophical society and see what makes spiritual people in this day and age tick. I’m 34 – I have a whole life ahead of me.
Since theosophical lodges don’t usually hold members only meetings, I would not have to disappear from the Theosophical Society altogether. I would just spend my time and money on the individual lodge(s) I visit instead of the world wide theosophical organisation. I would have more time for myself. Next year I might go on a normal holliday or perhaps a Buddhist retreat or something.
In other words: this whole election business is making me regroup and reevaluate my priorities. Of course if this thing is resolved in a way that I can live with, I will just go on much as before. Except that I trust the judgement of some of the leaders less than before.
As to my title: what do I owe the theosophical movement? I think I owe the theosophical movement to be true to my ideals and true to the truth as I find it.