I came to the World Congress mainly for the people – as I do for any theosophical meeting. And the people were great. I met inspiring and hard working people from all over the world, and have learned about theosophical issues and activities all over the world. I do think in general the atmosphere of this congress was great: relaxed, friendly, cheerful even.
In planning such a congress I do think there are two possible roads to take:
- Going for a theosophical theme and really making it inspiring in that sense
- Taking advantage of having over 500 (!) active theosophists to get them to share and learn from each other on how to tackle the issues involved with running the TS.
Neither of these possible paths was taken in the way this congress was set up. The success of the congress, and I do think it can be called a succes, was mostly despite the program – not because of it. Though the long breaks over lunch (siesta) surely helped create a calm atmosphere.
The lecturers were obviously selected mostly for political reasons: making sure a variety of sections was represented and no attention payed to the quality of their English.
The workshops were not about how to improve our work in the TS, and most were mini-lectures instead of workshops. Don’t get me wrong though: it takes real skill to do a workshop for a hundred people like Betty Blend had to do. The only theosophist I know who has training to take on that kind of large group and make it interactive and ‘work’ for everybody is Marja Artamaa – on whose workshop I will be reporting later (see Marja Artamaa’s workshop).
Neither was the theme of the congress conducive to deep spiritual reflection. There really is only so much one can say about Brotherhood that active theosophists haven’t heard a thousand times already. As I told someone: the very theme of the world congress was an invitation for sermons.
I do wish the organisation of this congress had involved more of Vic Hao Chin’s approach. He really impressed me yesterday with his vision for the management of the TS work. This is really someone who charts his own course and knows what PR is, and how to manage an organisation so that PR is more than just having a website and put up ads for important events. He has ideas on how the TS should be perceived in the world, on how to shape the public expressions of the TS in such a way that those themes get stressed.
After reflection on his talk I was like: I do hope Vic runs for president next time there is an election.
Back to the congress: I have the impression that it was an expression of brotherhood in a practical sense and I believe that despite the program, most delegates will go home with renewed enthusiasm for the work and perhaps some added views on how to move forward in that work.
 Based on the pictures by Tom Dede, I’d say at least one other workshop was a success. I guess we’re not as hopeless as I thought.
The picture shown here is also by Tom Dede. It shows the lecturers at the table at the closing of the Congress. [/edit]