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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
Dear fellow TS members,
In my first Open Letter to you, “ILLEGAL CHANGES,” I shared with you, as a long-standing member of the TS, my perceptions on the John Algeo (JA) plan before you, to convert the TS into a corporate institution based on analysis - an institution in which the true democracy that the TS is and has been up to now, would come to an end. In the second, “VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION,” I addressed issues related more specifically to Betty Bland’s (BB) misinterpretations of the Rules on the process of choosing a new Vice-President. Those two Open Letters to you provide a background for this message, which addresses JA’s and BB’s interest in changing Rule 9, relating to the President’s term of office. For the benefit of TS members not in the GC, and to be clear, I begin by quoting from the Rules. The changes suggested by BB are in ALL CAPS:
9. President’s term of office
The term of office of the President shall be FIVE [‘seven’ at present] years from the date of assuming office. NO PERSON SHALL SERVE IN THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT FOR MORE THAN THREE CONSECUTIVE TERMS.
“REASON: A TERM OF 7 YEARS MAY HAVE BEEN APPROPRIATE IN EARLIER TIMES WHEN COMMUNICATION WAS MORE DIFFICULT. BUT CONSIDERING BOTH TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGES AND THE CHANGES PROPOSED BELOW FOR RULE 10, A SHORTER TERM IS PREFERABLE AND FEASIBLE. THE PRACTICE OF UNLIMITED TERMS IN AN EXECUTIVE OFFICE IS NOT THE NORM IN MOST ORGANIZATIONS AND IS ILL-ADVISED AS INHIBITING ADAPTATION AND EVOLUTION.”
Many members have protested against these changes, which BB connects specifically to the changes she proposed for Rule 10 - proposals that were discussed in my first Open Letter, and which, as shown therein, would transmogrify the TS from a spiritual-moral institution, into a corporate-analytical one. I now submit to you that all of these changes imply a much greater ambition on the part of BB and JA than may appear on the surface: With these changes, they appear to be proposing an analytical theory inspired by corporate “success,” a theory that could be called, appropriately, “Cosmic Downsizing.” To be clear: Corporate downsizing consists of corporations eliminating millions of jobs for the sake of making higher profits while having a “downsized” working force.
But Cosmic Downsizing is not just about the TS continuing to lose members, worldwide, and promoting ways of preventing its growth in places like the Indian Section - though that has been already achieved in the TSA, where the membership has gone down to around 4,000, in a country of more than 300 million people. It is important to note that the TSA has achieved a loss of membership while it had in place changes to its Bylaws similar to the present proposals before you, to change the Rules of the TS. But apart from having this consequential effect, the theory of Cosmic Downsizing has its deeper roots in an analytical understanding of the way Nature works, and of how Nature itself can be downsized, so that it works more efficiently. Though at first it may sound strange, Cosmic Downsizing is actually the foundation for the suggested changes to Rule 9.
At its core, Cosmic Downsizing consists of demanding to end the “old ways,” in which Nature “used to” express itself in SEVENS, and replacing Nature’s “old fashioned, nineteenth century” approach with a corporate committee that would determine that from now on, Nature shall express itself, instead, in FIVES. Thus, no longer will we have seven colors. Five will be sufficient in the new, far more efficient, corporation-inspired, regime. We do not need, “surely,” seven musical notes, the new downsizing theory declares. FIVE is the new number, which the committee, in its wisdom, will impose on Nature. The human head will no longer have seven orifices. The committee will determine which two are to be left out, in the new, FIVE-dominant era thus created. The seven planets of all traditional astrology will be downsized to FIVE; the committee will decide which will be the unlucky planets to be taken out (in all likelihood Jupiter and Venus, rulers of wisdom and compassion, respectively, in traditional astrology).
Then, of course, there is the “pesky” issue of cycles, on which HPB’s teachers were so keen. “For some reason,” the theory implies, these perennial teachers always seemed to be talking about cycles upon cycles upon cycles - “you know, all that NINETEENTH CENTURY ‘STUFF.’” Among other things - and crucial to understand in the context of this discussion on proposed changes to Rule 9 - HPB’s TEACHERS SPECIFICALLY REFERRED TO SEVEN-YEAR CYCLES IN CONNECTION WITH THE WORKINGS OF THE TS, including its administrative functions.
“But of course” - BB and JA are telling us - “then was then.” BB and JA have revealed for us that “the old ways” of all perennial teachers in history (and not just the Founders of the TS), based on the way that Nature always “used to” work, are no longer valid, now that we have sleek, state-of-the-art corporate models after which to pattern the TS’s administration. “We should turn our backs on those ‘old fogeys’ from the nineteenth century (and from long before), and welcome instead - with open arms, no less - the wonders of corporate power and its analytical modus operandi,” the Cosmic Downsizing theory implicit in these proposals is telling us, in no uncertain terms: In the TS, we should turn our backs to its spiritual roots, and choose instead to become one more analytical, corporate institution in the world. “Everyone else is joining that club, nowadays; so why shouldn’t we?” - JA and BB seem to be asking all of us, in reference to their theory’s clear intent to transmogrify the TS into a corporate-analytical institution.
Given that the corporate model is what is being proposed for implementation in the TS, it is important to look VERY CAREFULLY at just what is involved in this model. We need to look at facts regarding corporate methods in light of what these methods bring about. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
Cosmic Downsizing has its downside, just as does its parent, corporate downsizing. For instance, we all know how corporate downsizing promotes great wealth for a relatively few people, at the expense of not only wiping out numerous jobs: It is also responsible for creating immense poverty, elimination of civil rights, ending democracy, and generally bringing misery for the vast majority of humanity, as well as having brought the planet to the brink of a man-made catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. Corporate downsizing does not care to bring about these horrible consequences, because the only thing that matters to the corporate mind-set is the bottom line: If it produces profits, it is good, no matter what the consequences to actual human beings, or to our precious planet. It is this specific ambition that leads corporations to seek maximum efficiency and expediency, the qualities lauded by proponents of the proposals to change Rule 9.
But we are told by the downsizing theory that corporate dictators mean well. After all, such results are what the intrinsically analytical “bottom line” demands: So long as the profits are higher thanks to greater EFFICIENCY AND EXPEDIENCY, what actually happens to people does not matter, not at all. The theory points to the many new jobs created, but it does not say that these jobs are always much worse than the ones wiped out through downsizing, nor that numerous other rules and laws get to be broken in the process. What is important to corporate dictators is what’s on paper, not what happens “out in the field,” where there is always “collateral damage” in the form of people suffering and dying miserably. In such a corporate environment, the chances of forming a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity would be as likely as those of a snowball surviving the flames of hell. The TS is here for the specific purpose of evening the odds created by a world hell-bent on creating analysis-based societies.
It’s not difficult to see how corporate downsizing could be compared to Dr. Frankenstein’s dream of bringing about life, out of death: By sewing together surgically different parts of dead bodies together, Dr. Frankenstein created a new human life, just as out of a dead balanced sheet, corporate downsizing promises to bring about vibrant prosperity for all. The result of corporate downsizing, however, is a creature much more ominous to all of humanity than the Frankenstein monster was in the fictional story - a creature that we are all becoming better acquainted with (much to our chagrin and pain), no matter where on the planet we live, as we speak. Yet, strangely, it is the corporate administrative model that JA and BB are asking us to embrace (presumably in the name of efficiency and expediency, which are both analytical, not spiritual-moral), while discarding the true democracy that the TS is.
Downsizing the whole cosmos, so that it obeys the “bottom line” of a committee, has many points in common with its parent, corporate downsizing. Think, for instance, of what life would be like without the colors red and green, or without the notes do and fa, or with your head having two holes fewer than it now has (on the Cosmic Downsizing committee’s agenda would be issues such as “should we zap the eyes? or should we go for the ears? or should we take out ‘just’ one of each?”). The result would be monstrous. This is part of why in my first Open Letter to you I used the word “transmogrify” repeatedly, to refer to JA’s suggested changes to the TS Rules, as relayed to you by BB.
Students of theosophy know that in a seven-year cycle, just as in the musical scale or in the colored rainbow, each year within such a cycle has a particular tonality, a specific function within the whole of which it is a seventh. Cycles such as this, in any case, is what HPB’s teachers addressed in numerous ways, in practically everything they ever wrote or communicated to us through HPB’s writings. Each of those years in a seven-year cycle has a correspondence to a color, to a musical note, to an astrological cycle, to processes going on in each of our bodies - to cosmic processes that we cannot even fathom completely, at present. To pretend to downsize a cycle just because it seems “more efficient” to corporate minds to do so, is one and the same with attempting to recreate Dr. Frankenstein’s great “triumph,” and implement it as the analytical system to follow in the administrative aspects of running the TS.
In the political arena, it makes a great deal of sense to have term limits, because of the notorious corruption that fills the ranks of politicians. Such corruption is typical of all institutions based on analysis - which, as noted before, is always immoral or at best amoral, whenever it’s misapplied to moral areas of human experience, where analysis clearly does not belong. Further, we need to keep in mind that the kind of world that surrounds us is based on making distinctions coming from analysis-conditioning. In such a world, political ideologies are the norm, because it is a highly politicized world. In such a world, political terms of office are shorter so that there can be more politics, more ideological divisions, more discussions about purely analytical issues that are unrelated to human welfare - let alone enlightenment. The TS was never intended to be part of such a world. It was intended, clearly and unambiguously, to be a beacon for humanity, a spiritual oasis in the midst of a vast (almost overwhelming) spiritual desert.
The TS is not a corporate-analytical institution. It is a spiritual-moral institution. We choose our leaders for their unique wisdom and for their sensitivity to spiritual dimensions - and despite their inevitable foibles or limitations, because nobody is perfect. It is sensible to take advantage of that wisdom, and to treasure it, for as long as it is feasible. Again, Nature does not have term limits, which is an analytical concept invented by limited, conditioned human minds. Whenever a living form decays, or does not adapt to circumstances, or is no longer relevant to actual conditions, some other form takes its place, if Nature deems it appropriate. Such replacements take place at every moment, and are never dependent on some committee deciding for Nature that the changes shall only take place within the “term” allotted analytically.
Shorter terms for the Presidency in the TS would promote more politics in the TS, more analysis - and less enlightenment. We do not need any more of that, than what all of us have had to suffer over the past few months. Please, let us put politics behind us. A refusal of the proposed changes to Rule 9 would be an important step in that direction.
Some may think that part of what I say above is “just satire,” and that it’s just too absurd to be considering all this. But I am submitting to you, in full earnest, that these proposals presented to you by JA and BB stand as ABSURDITIES that happen to be VERY DANGEROUS for the present welfare of the TS and for any future it may have as a viable spiritual-moral organization. THAT is why these proposals inspire absurd metaphors. To address them in declarative sentences is to be disrespectful of the GC - not to mention the Founders of the TS, who have entrusted the TS to its present leaders. Only by showing how absurd these propositions are does one do them justice. Sometimes one needs to do a REDUCTIO AD ABSURDUM, the way Euclid did in geometry, in order to discover what is true, as well as to see clearly what could never possibly be true: Sometimes in order to see the true as the true, one needs first to see very clearly the false as the false.
Since the TS is still a true democracy (and as such is still in tune with the way Nature operates), we the members have an opportunity to assess, once every seven-year cycle, whether the sitting President meets requirements that we expect from anyone in that position. We the members thus become the instruments whereby Nature determines whether someone else would represent better the TS before the world. There is nothing wrong with that manner of conducting administrative business IN THE TS. A prosaic American quip comes to mind here, as expressing that wisdom rather clearly: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Cosmic Downsizing may look very good on paper (when seen strictly analytically and with no reference whatsoever to spiritual-moral values), just as corporate downsizing does to people interested in the bottom line while having no concern for what happens to human beings. However, we are all seeing, all over the planet, the disaster that corporate downsizing has led to. I submit to you, my very dear fellow theosophists, that Cosmic Downsizing in the TS would have an even greater negative impact on the spiritual life of the whole planet, given the TS’s unique place in human history, and ESPECIALLY at this unprecedented time we now live in - which the Founders predicted, while singling out the TS for heralding the implications of such changes to the world at large.
Only someone not familiar at all with the perennial wisdom would propose such an absurd monstrosity, as that implicit in the proposed changes to Rule 9. We all need to keep in mind that having an analytic understanding of the perennial wisdom - what HPB and her teachers called “exoteric” - can lead into very dangerous territory, for us as individuals, and for the TS as a perennial organization.
Affectionately and respectfully,
Last update: January 2009