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A dissenting voice and vote from Brazil - An open letter
to the TS members
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Dear brothers and sisters:
The upcoming election for President of the International Theosophical Society is causing much pain to many MTS.
In Brazil, our National Council upheld the proposal of our General Secretary to back up Radha Burnier for one more term of office, her fourth, in view or his assurances that the incumbent President is in good health, physically and mentally, and perfectly able to carry on her duties as she has done in the past. Since that time more information has filtered down from India indicating that age, she is now 85, and a disabling stroke have taken their toll. For this reason some MTS in Brazil decided to express openly their disagreement with the proposal of our General Secretary and intend to vote for John Algeo with his platform of renewal. The number of dissenters is growing as more facts relating to Radha’s condition and administration become known.
While governments and institutions the world over realize the need for renewing periodically their cadres and their approaches to management, we at the TS seem to be going backwards in this respect. But we have a choice. Our actions (or inaction) today will determine what we will reap tomorrow.
Before we decide on whom to vote it might be appropriate to recall Blavatsky’s words, in A Key to Theosophy, that the future of the TS “will depend almost entirely upon the degree of selflessness … and wisdom possessed by those members, on whom it will fall to carry on the work and to direct the Society after the death of the Founders”. Do we see selflessness and wisdom in our leader today?
I leave here my plea to our future President to endeavor to alter our Statutes so as to limit the tenure of future Presidents to two terms only. Fourteen years is more than enough for anyone to bring his contributions to our cause. Thus we would prevent the recurrence of such an embarrassing situation in the future. After all, the ST is not the Vatican where the Pope only relinquishes power when he dies.
Last but not least, I take advantage to express my gratitude to our sister Radha for her tireless work behind the presidency for twenty one years. After such a long term of service it is natural that she now needs some time of her own. Therefore, I invite all brothers and sisters of the theosophical movement to express fully our gratitude wishing her wisdom and strength to follow the tradition of her own culture, thus capping a life of dedication to work in the outer world with a retirement into the inner world in her last years of life as a sannyasin.
If you agree with these considerations feel free to share them with others.
God bless us all.
Raul Branco, MTS – Brazil
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A letter by Ricardo Lindemann to Raul Branco
Brasilia, 14th of April, 2008.
I do believe that you have full right to practice your discrimination and exercise your freedom of thought, but if you really intend to continue your campaign against our O.H., making questions of this nature (i.e.: "Do we see selflessness and wisdom in our leader today?") about her, in my humble opinion you should resign from E.S., as Alberto Brum de Souza and many others have already done. I do believe that Loyalty and Confidence (as you can find in the well know book “At the Feet of the Master” by J. Krishnamurti) are not only essential for the Spiritual Path, but to tread it without them can even be extremely dangerous. Attached you can see some letters for your reflection, and if you doubt that our O.H. has still mental capacity to work, please talk with her by the phone (00xx91-44-2491-5552) and evaluate for yourself, if you think that my information is not up dated.
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A letter by Raul Branco to Ricardo Lindemann
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Dear friend Ricardo:
I acknowledge receipt of your e-mail, in English, dated 04.14.08.
I am going to reply in Portuguese because this is our language. I am sending a copy of our correspondence to other people in Brazil, just as you did, because it is in the interest of our members to know what is happening in this election. I will attach also a translation of your letter into Portuguese.
I had trouble to recognize, by the tone of your letter, my friend of such a long time.
Why are you exerting such a pressure for me to stop my campaign, though it is a legitimate thing to do, as you yourself say in your letter, in favor of a renewal of the TS leadership?
Could there be some special interest, unknown to me, for one more reelection of the incumbent International President? Could it be that you feel obliged to show that you are doing your homework in defense of your candidate, as indicated by the fact that you write to me in English, with copies to three Brazilians and an addressee in India (firstname.lastname@example.org), electronic address of the President of the TS, who does not know Portuguese?
I believe, however, that you faithfully believe that Radha has a special mission to perform, which demands a fifth mandate and, if she will be still alive seven years from now, a sixth mandate. Your attitude seems to confer on Radha the status of being irreplaceable in the TS Presidency. The effort that is being spent in her maintenance in the Presidency, seems to indicate that there is a faction that indeed believes that. My observation, however, is that this opinion is not shared by most Theosophists in Brazil. We will have to wait the result of the election in order to know in which direction the pendulum of power will swing.
This belief that Radha is irreplaceable is dangerous, unsustainable and inconsistent.
It is dangerous because it could lead, by analogy, into an autochthonous movement demanding that you, as General Secretary of the TS in Brazil, with so many services rendered to the Theosophical cause, also be considered irreplaceable, regardless of the legal limitation preventing you from being reelected again.
Unsustainable and inconsistent because, either only Radha is irreplaceable and no other of the previous Presidents, or all others were also irreplaceable. The latter alternative is an obvious absurd, in view of the continuity of the Theosophical movement along the years, even with the natural changes in leadership that occurred throughout our history. We are left with the alternative that only she is irreplaceable. It seems that our own President believes in that, given her insistence on remaining in office.
Your conviction that Radha must be reelected again, and that everything must be done to this end, perhaps explains your moral coercion in suggesting that I should resign from the EST, since I have expressed the opinion that the TS would be better served at this historical moment by a renewal of its leadership. Since this renewal is taking place at this very moment in Brazil, why should it be anathema on the international scene? Could it be that you, with your marvelous memory, really forgot the Resolution of 12.25.1996 of the TS’s General Council on FREEDOM OF THOUGHT? In order to refresh your memory, on the inner-back cover of our periodical TheoSophia it is written: “Opinions or beliefs neither bestow privileges nor inflict penalties … Every member of the TS … should fearlessly exercise the right of liberty of thought and of expression thereof, within the limits of courtesy and consideration for others”.
And that is exactly what I am doing.
Unfortunately, my friend, I fear that you are mixing things. You refer to a supposed offence that I committed against the O.H. But, it is obvious for those who read my correspondence, both in English and in Portuguese, that I am referring to the candidate to the Presidency of the Theosophical Society, and not to the head of the Esoteric School. It seems that there is some difficulty in separating the person from her different offices. I believe that the expression of my opinion regarding the attitude of candidates to an elective office is covered by the Resolution on Freedom of Thought referred to above, moreover when expressed “within the limits of courtesy and consideration for others”.
I would like to get back to the point in your letter in which you declare that if I really intend to continue my campaign against our O.H. (wrong, in favor of the renewal of the International Presidency of the TS), then, “in your humble opinion I should resign from the EST, as Alberto Brum de Souza and many others have already done”. First of all, you are wrong again. Alberto Brum, as well as Jane Dullius, his wife, and our brother Pedro de Oliveira and others, did not resign from the EST. They were summarily expelled by the O.H.
As you well know, I have been a member of the TS for 18 years and, till last year I did not want to enter the EST exactly for that fact that you alluded to, though in a way that was not entirely correct. I did not apply to the School because I disagreed, in 1994, with the injustice committed against Jane Dulius, who was taken out of the EST for the only and exclusive reason of being Alberto’s wife. And that was done without explanation or appeal.
As years passed I heard from many friends in the TS that I should not stay out of the EST on account of my opinion about that case. Thus, I accepted the argument that it was essential to separate the person from the office. Finally, last year I applied for admission, conscious that one of the prerequisites was to accept Mme. Radha as the O.H. of the School – which I did. Therefore, if you find that in any way my opinions constitute insults to our O.H., I consider it your duty, as General Secretary in Brazil, to request from the School Correspondent, Mrs. Olinda Pugliesi, or even directly from Mme. Radha, my dismissal from the School. My commitment to Theosophical work and my devotion to the Masters were made obvious throughout the years that I was not a member of the EST. And it will continue the same as it was before even if I am removed from it for exercising my right of opinion, even though acting in accordance with the Resolution on Freedom of Thought.
Finally, Ricardo, I find it odd that, with your critical sense, you did not point out the only thing that was really wrong in my letter. I refer to my statement that Radha was vying for a fourth term at the Presidency, after twenty one years in power. As a matter of fact, she has been President for twenty eight years and she is seeking her fifth mandate. Why didn’t you correct me in this respect?
As you in your letter expressed your “humble opinion” about what I should do, I feel entitled to do the same. I think that the role of a leader like you, President of all members of the TS in Brazil with their different points of view, should be to act with neutrality in order to present our voters with the qualities of BOTH candidates, without taking sides, thus helping each one of us to make our individual and sovereign decision backed up by all possible information. Unfortunately, politicians in power have always taken advantage of their office in order to influence elections, for themselves or for their protégées. It is for this reason that democratic governments invariably institute limitations for the reelection and electoral practices of their rulers. On the other hand, a leader of the Theosophical Society, to paraphrase a Master that we admire, should say that “My kingdom is not of this world” and then act as the ruler of ALL and not only of his faction. In this respect I praise the neutrality of one of the candidates, who simply set up a site, where he placed his C.V. and his plans, while the other candidate is carrying on an electoral campaign by correspondence, taking advantage of the prestige of the office.
Well, my friend, how about putting an end to this quarrel?
I hope, with all my heart, that our “political” disagreements will not affect our friendship, because I hold you in very high esteem.
Much light and peace to you and your family.
Last update: July 2009