The Theosophical Society (Adyar)

Amendments to the Society's Rules and Regulations

Comments by Editor
26. 09. 2008

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Recent elections of the President of the Theosophical Society uncovered some serious inconsistencies in the functioning of the Society, namely the unconstitutional role of its President, Executive Committee and General Council, general violation of the determined election process and an inability to promptly address and solve the problems.

It was obvious, also because of various opposing high TS officials’ interpretations of the role of the Executive and Election Committees in the President Election process, that the General Council of the Society should address some fundamental questions concerning the actual operation of the TS bodies as soon as possible.

But it seems that actual administration, i.e. Executive Committee, do not consider present situation critical and it seems that it didn’t react, in last three months period, to the letters sent to it by John Algeo and Joy Mills. It seems to me therefore that the present proposal of amendments to the Theosophical Society’s Rules and Regulations is a reaction to the lethargy of the Society’s administration and an attempt to find a short cut towards the solution of the Society’s acute problems.

In the proposed amendments to the Society’s Rules and Regulations there are, in my view, some reasonable solutions but also the proposal which would seriously disrupt the subtle balance of power between the role of the President and the General Council.

First amendment (regarding the quorum of the General Council) is certainly reasonable and actually indispensable.

Second amendment (regarding the President’s term of office) seems, from the perspective of greater democracy in the Society, equally indispensable, but it probably suggests an unnecessary reduction of President’s term of office to five years as it then proposes the possibility of her/his re-election for two additional terms. Maybe a simpler solution would be to just limit it to two terms of seven years.

Third amendment (regarding the election of the President) includes several changes:

1. First proposal under lines (a) and (d) is reasonable, but in the case if the Secretary should be a candidate for the office maybe a better solution would be that she/he is simply obliged to resign from that office and that new Secretary is nominated.

Second proposal, of the transfer of the Executive Committee role in the election process to the General Council, is, in my opinion, an attempt to solve the problem of actual unconstitutional role and composition of the Executive Committee. I think that this proposal isn’t necessary and that the General Council should instead make an effort to establish the constitutional role and composition of the Executive Committee.

2. But the proposal under lines (e) and (f) completely disrupts the system of power balance between the President and the General Council or the executive and legislative branch of the Society. Namely, the President derives her/his executive powers from the direct election from the part of all Society’s members, while the General Council, as a body of representatives, has legislative powers and controls the functioning of the executive branch through the nomination of the Executive Committee. In the case of the election of the President from the part of the General Council that would mean that the General Council has also executive powers and that it transfers them to its representative, the President. This solution, besides being a strange hybrid, would represent even greater danger for the alienation of power as is it in the case of actual President and her administration. In my opinion it would be much better to make an effort to establish constitutional role of the President, General Council and Executive Committee than to completely change the organization of the longstanding Society.

Also declared reasons for such change do not stand serious consideration. Democratic proceedings are certainly more complicated and request more time then those of any other system, but the Theosophical Society is and should remain, at least on declarative level, the society of lovers of Freedom and Truth. Use of digital technology can certainly improve these proceedings and allow better dissemination of information to the members.

Further amendments (regarding the nomination and election of Secretary and quorum of the Executive Committee) are good and reasonable.

It seems that polarization in the Society continues and that there isn’t present any readiness to find common ground for necessary changes in the Society. In my opinion individual members and lodges can take, instead to allow of being drawn into “pro” and “against” race, more creative approach and begin to self-initiatively adopt more successful solutions for the promotion of the theosophy and for the enlargement of membership in their local environment. Actually, in my opinion, this situation is a test if our Society’s members can operate autonomously and freely interact between themselves to fulfil their mission or they still need an authority.

Anton Rozman

Last update: January 2009
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