The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Amendments to the Society's Rules and Regulations

Letter by Duane Carpenter
22. 10. 2008

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Dear Theos-talk,

I have been intermittently following some of the dialog presented on this forum on the Theosophical society’s election rules and regulations. I am moved by the seemingly impossible situation that the regular members may have found themselves in as we see changes and attempted changes of the bylaws at the highest levels of the society.

Some years ago when I was the Theosophical President of the Boston Lodge one of my first duties when elected was to fend off Nationals (Wheaten) aggressive move to seize the assets of the local lodge. It seemed that national felt any of the asset of its charted lodges were a part of their portfolio. National’s legal action failed after a long and protracted law suit and the Theosophical Lodge in Boston was finally restored to its original integrity. Interesting the original board of directors and trustees before I took office were in a process of changing the bylaws and rules so that more power would be focused into the hands of fewer and few people.

One of the many arguments that those who proposed changing the bylaws  to exclude the rank and file membership from direct  interaction and control of many aspects of the Lodge was that the regular members were not not as committed nor as knowledgeable as they. Therefore why should they share in the immense responsibility of electing the governing body at its highest levels? It only seemed logical to them that those at the head of the organization should make policy to keep the Lodge alive, active and vibrant.

It would be good for those who are interested in this ongoing controversy to understand this position however untrue or biased it may seem. For it may have much to do with the present situation from the elected official’s point of view.

I understand that this rational or insight that I am now sharing may be nothing new in the ongoing controversy but should be clearly understood by all those who seek to understand the motivation at the highest levels of the Theosophical Society and any possible long term solution.

When you factor in the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical society this even exaggerates their position more fully. Many who post here on Theos-talk may see these changes that are attempting to take place at the highest levels of the society as an injection of a religious sect (Esoteric Section), trying to unduly influence the society. The members of the Esoteric Section do not see themselves as a “religious sect” but see their work as “true theosophy” in its deeper aspects and what many other rank and file members do as peripheral and not of any depth. 

I understand that we can argue what is theosophy? And who are the real theosophist till eternity freezes over and may never come up with a tangible and satisfactory answer but this is the mind set you will have to deal with.

There are a number of important consideration here to consider one of which is if you become a chartered lodge through the Theosophical Society from  Wheaton can they have any claim on this chartered lodges assets?

Do you have or have you ever had a Quest bookstore in your lodge. Was it ever funded by grants or gifts by National? If so the liability to the local lodge’s assets may be greater. The Boston Lodge was able to maintain its integrity from national and keep its own assets because it dug in and fought for its life. It was able to do this because of the contributions of some legal minds and attorneys trained in the art.

The suggestion by one of Theo-talk participants that we need a couple of good lawyers at this point is an important consideration. Instead of sitting around wringing our hands over the injustice of the situation members need to get more involved. Somewhere out there in Theo-land that are a couple of good attorneys who when there conscious finally catches up to their  legal training will research these grievances by-law by bylaw line by line and see what real course of action can be taken.

Many readers may feel this suggestion on my part is very un-theosophical. To the contrary the actions exhibited by some of the leaders of this organization are not only not theosophical but outright illegal. I hope the reader will not be fooled or lulled into a false sense of complacency. Any rule or bylaw can be changed by a good attorney skilled in the art in a number of different ways, particularly if people sit around and debate endlessly and do nothing.

One last footnote to this letter.

Another rational for this attempted corporate takeover of the Boston lodge by national was national’s charge that “true theosophy” was not being taught at this lodge. In addition to teaching the works of HPB, which I personally sponsored and supervised there were many who studied the additional works of Alice Bailey, Rudolph Steiner and many others. I find it of some interest that if the works of Alice Bailey are even mentioned on this forum that many who subscribe to it immediately go into a frenzy of criticism and hostility as if the devil itself were mentioned. How ironical I find this for in a somewhat oblique and indirect way the same mindset is now being applied to many of those who post here and may feel that they are being treated unfairly. And what is my point? Simply that one group of so called theosophist trying to control and dictate to another group what they may study or explore or believe may not be Theosophy.

When all is said and done Theosophy may be superficial by one person’s standards or it may be deep by another. To me who has had the privilege of serving Theosophy for my entire adult life I simply ask the question at the end of the day does it help the student understands themselves or the universe in which they live. Does it open their Heart to tolerance and goodwill? Memorizing endless tidbits of occult jargon and technical minutiae may not in the final analysis be as important as simply rolling up your sleeve's and getting involved in many simple or practical ways.

Another irony that may never be explained in this lifetime is that it was many of the Alice Bailey students, who I might add, also studied HPB extensively, who led the charge and gave there last nickel to fend off National illegal takeover of the Theosophical lodge in Boston. I am curious how many so called committed Theosophists now reading this email would do the same in return? Each generation of Theosophist defines themselves by what they can contribute not only to their own growth but to the growth of a wider and more universal understanding of Theosophy and its principals.

In closing this letter I am reminded of a quotation that summarizes my thoughts of this subject under discussion.

“All that is required for evil to flourish is for one good man to do nothing”

Blessings to you, may the Masters guide you in your work and Life,
Duane Carpenter

Last update: January 2009
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