This morning (July 11th) we had the lecture by Professor P. Krishna. His talk was inspiring. He talked about a lot that most of us have heard before: the interconnectedness of everything, ecology and how those isses are caused by people not realizing deeply enough that it’s all us. This post is a combination of my notes from Krishna’s talk and my own thoughts about the issues the TS is dealing with. It’s loosely based also on my talks with individual theosophists at this congress.
What are the causes of division, he asked… We can look at that question both in the world and in the TS. Belief we are brothers certainly won’t make it real. It is just as hard as ‘Love your Neighbour’…
Everything that obstructs that needs to be gone from our consciousness. Brotherhood is fragile. Disagreements and self interest are a problem.
Unfortunately Krishna didn’t go deeply into either of those. The main issue is, as far as I can tell, that in the TS we don’t know how to deal with the basic fact that people disagree.
Phrase the question like that and the rest of Krishna’s otherwise excellent talk becomes irrelevant. It’s just not to the point. Well, that’s perhaps overdoing it.
He talked about ignorance as a cause of sorrow. Ignorance and illusion. However much that may be true: When there are misunderstandings in the organisation, when there is not enough transparency ‘- it is no wonder that people are ‘ ignorant ‘. After all – they are kept in the dark.
Krishna went on to say that facts can not be changed. We just have to cope with them. The issue is though (me talking again) – if we’re not told the facts, how can we deal with them correctly? But the illusion part of problems, the part that’s the result of our conditioning, our identification with side issues (like whether we are Jew or Christian, have black skin or white etc.) That sort of identification is something we can at least learn to recognize the limitations of.
Krishna said that the quest for truth is our main responsibility as theosophists. We have to investigate them in our own consciousness. That way we can grow in wisdom.
Real change is a byproduct of wisdom. Real change is not about decision; It is not a product of belief.
All very true when we are talking about issues of personal transformation. But when we are talking about practical matters, where the right decision needs to be made – all this talk of conditioning is not going to help. Instead what we need is opennness, transparency and the willingness on the part of our leaders to really listen to the issues of the members and potential members. The TS needs to be transformed into something that is relevant to today’s world.
So I ask again: how does all the talk about brotherhood help us deal with real life practical disagreements?
I have talked to a lot of people and it seems clear to me that there are many out there who feel that disagreements are not dealt with very well in the TS.
Disagreements are a fact of life. If they are not dealt with head on, they will fester and blow up in all of our faces. We have all seen this happen.
While I totally agree that our conditionings play a part in conflicts – to an extent it’s an evasion of whatever issue is at hand to start talking about it. The TS is a collection of free thinking people who are often at the same time looking for security in a leader. This paradoxical fact makes for a difficult organisation to manage. The only way to do it and avoid bickering is to give people a chance to contribute genuine sollutions to genuine problems.
One cannot expect smart people, free thinking people, to ignore serious issues or even issues of policy. And it should be a matter of course that people have a right to express such opinions. In fact, wise leadership would use such contributions as checks on their own blind spots.
The internet has enabled all members (or at least those with an internet connection) to express our opinion publicly. This fact has to be accepted as a given by leadership. No longer can the organisation expect to hush up any controversy. So, it has to find another way of dealing with it.
Perhaps media training ought to be considered on the highest levels.
Instead of treating outspoken members as interlopers or loose canons (though some are) they should be judged by the content of their message.
You know: is this issue real? And if so, can it be fairly addressed publicly?
If the answer to both questions is ‘ yes’ – why can members not get a plainly spoken answer? You cannot expect people to avoid giving explanations to strange events. If no information is given, people will fill in the blind spots. And they will usually fill them in more blackly than the facts deserve. But how can they help it if the facts are not out in the open?
A lodge treaserer seemed negligent in his work. People complained, to each other, to the treaserer. This went on for a year – till the bomb burst: there were serious medical complaints. All the gossip and worry could have been far better targeted if that treaserer had just told his board that there were medical problems. And conversely: if the board had not been so afraid of talking about anything personal, they might have asked WHY he was not getting things done… The organisation can only help solve a problem, if it knows it exists.
 Photograph by Tom Dede, from Hungary [/edit]