The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Keeping the Flame Burning
By Preethi Muthiah

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Dear all,

One-and-a-half years after my moving away from the President of the TS, I stand at the point where I am being told for some reason that the number of critics-behind-her-back has risen, and when these meet me they seem to think I must continue my fight against a President who has clearly shown she is unwilling to listen. I, on my part, think if they approve of what I am doing, it is time they showed their disapproval and raised their voices against what they think is wrong with the administration at Adyar.

On the whole I find that these critics-behind-her-back are greater in number within the Indian Section than they are within the Western ones, perhaps because the West by and large are more assertive in expressing their views, either way. But the Indian lot needs to find that courage within them to express their frustrations with the current head of the TS openly.

I was at the TS Adyar on 9 November 2010, to buy some books and then to go out for a cup of coffee with a friend. As life would have it, I finished my work at the Bookshop earlier than my mum could pick her up from Leadbeater Chambers, where she is residing to attend the current session of the School of the Wisdom. And so, I went along in my mum's car to pick the friend up from Chambers. Respecting the President's wish to not have me visit Adyar, I sat within the car itself while my mum got out for some fresh air as we waited for this friend to come down from her room. And again, as life would have it, one of the staff there was just closing up the office room and walked up to talk with me. And the first thing he told me was that most of the staff who had worked with me while I was there had left, and that they are finding it difficult to work with such a paucity of workers. This was information I had not asked for, but given nonetheless. So I did ask him if there were too many guests staying at Chambers and he said, thankfully there are just five people, but Convention time would be a challenge.

Frankly, I have been mourning since then, because there is so much potential in the TS, in the teachings that are given out through it and to see it in this state. ... The words I said to the President about a year ago regarding the fate of a place where honesty and righteousness is punished are now being realized, but I suffer from no happiness. My heart aches to see the plight of a resistant, exclusive, suicidal lot that will not walk towards the Light, but prefer to walk around in the shadow of their desires crying for the Light. They say when Mary had to see Jesus being crucified she had to watch on helplessly, watching and aching from within as only a mother's heart could. If you can imagine that, you might understand some of what Preethi goes through watching the Adyar Estate and its few workers suffering the decisions of its “caretakers”. Preethi cannot do anything about this situation because this death, this stagnation, this paucity, this degeneration is what Adyar's chief “caretaker” has chosen for it. This is what members of the Theosophical Society have chosen for it – death, stagnation, exclusivity – while Life exists on the other side, which is where Preethi lives. She is the one who swam away from the vice-like grip (pun intended) of the President of the TS; the one who chose Life over death, inclusion above exclusion, growth over stagnation.

In this over-a-year since I began a resistance against the slow death overtaking the TS Adyar, I have met many kinds and manners of “Theosophists”, all convinced that Preethi must walk towards them, but none willing to walk towards her. Caught up in their theories of love, compassion, wisdom, and just about every thing that has been written about in the vast tomes of literature, free unasked for advice is one thing Indian Theosophists never tire of. As a result this friend we met was convinced Preethi needs a rudraksha to protect herself and to bring out the best in herself.

In all the lack of language I suffer from currently, I could not ask her the simple question: Hasn't Theosophy been able to give you this? And I could not make her see that Theosophy has the potential to do these and much more. She has been a member longer than I have; she is still a part of the ES, the Masonic and the TS, but she has, alas and sadly, not discovered this potential in Theosophy, but resorts to wearing the rudraksha as a better way to “protect” herself. And, not being content with that spent the better part of the time we were together trying to convince me that I must get myself a rudraksha; insisting at every turn and corner of our shared conversation that nothing can save Preethi except the “rudraksha”.

I could not – perhaps because of the shock of discovering the plight-filled state of members of the Theosophical Society – ask her (a) why anyone fighting for the right – even at one's level of evolution – would need protection, because Life protects such people; (b) who would I seek protection from, because the world consists of people I love and thus that Love protects me; (c) why one must suffer from the illusion that threats exist if one has journeyed diligently on the path of self-knowledge, for one would then know that the perception of threat exists solely on the level of the ego seeking to perpetuate itself?

Threat and fear do not contaminate the soul. When one feels it, one must look at oneself and what one's ego is trying to express, much as disease tells us something is not right with the body. Instead of looking without, one must at that point sit with oneself, listen to and care for oneself. Self-healing has to be a part of healing the world; and vice versa, for it to be a complete deed.

On 9/11/10, I was convinced that I must condemn the members of the TS to the damnation they are so diligently asking for – of course they don't realize that that is what they are asking for. Two bouts of sleep later, I look at these incidents as mere obstacles that come in the way of my efforts to keep the flame burning. They are much as the stormy winds that blow at high speed seeking to put out the light within oneself. I take heart and courage in the words given in The Idyll of the White Lotus , “Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.”

And this that I am going through is part of what I have chosen for myself – constantly keeping the door open for those who will enter it. At the moment they do so only to shed their color on my door and walk away. These are also those who have shoved off the responsibility of looking after the TS on the shoulders of the Masters of the Wisdom and the many Teachers of humanity, rather than choosing to be responsible for their part and thereby becoming co-workers in Their uplifting cause. They are not interested in the love I feel for them unless, of course, it is expressed in terms that will please their ego and give them much delight. But, alas, for me ego boost and love are entirely opposite, and so I may not give them the ego boost they so seek in contrariness of the spiritual path they seek to tread.

In 2005, when I sought to join Adyar as a worker the President asked me if I would do anything for the TS and I replied saying, “Yes, I would.” It occurs to me that her idea of what she would think I must do for the TS and what I think is right to do for the TS would be different.

Another friend talking to me over the phone the other day – this once again is an Indian Theosophist – tried to insist that I pay my membership dues, which I have chosen not to do this year, telling me that the TS needs people who can clean it up; but her saying this is of no point because the ones who are in charge of the TS have clearly told me they do not like the fact that I am trying to clean it up. And I respect their need to remain unclean, corrupt, or whatever. On my part, the way I do not buy products that involve cruelty to animals, in like manner I do not put my money into an organization that encourages corruption.

To these and any other such members, I have some things to say: Show me that you are willing to work with a cleanser like me, and you will find me by your side. Show me that you are willing to work upon yourselves, and you will find that I lend you my shoulders to rest upon when you're tired and hold up the light for you when your hands have been held aloft for too long. Show me that you want to open out to Love as it exists in the Universe, and you will find that my heart is always open to you.

But if you would have me participate in your gossip sessions against the President and her administration of the TS, count me out. If you would have me do all the work – your share included – count me out. If you believe that the TS is a cake and Adyar its icing that must be got at through competition, count me out. If you would have me walk all the way towards you without you taking a step towards me, count me out. If you are afraid of change and build resistance walls against it, I am not your kind of person. And remember, I am not a cosmetologist; I am a cleanser.

And since I care much for keeping the flame alive, I have chosen to opt out of Adyar and wait in the sidelines, watching patiently for any of you who may – at the drowning hour – seek to walk towards Life.

Fraternal regards,

Last update: December 2010
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