This morning I revoked my membership of the Theosophical Society.
Many of you will have seen this coming, of course.
Since I’ve been so very visible a member, I think I owe you all something of an explanation.
First off: my online work won’t change. I’ll still quote Blavatsky where it fits my topic, the theosophical material on my site will remain up etc.
However, I have given back my vows. Let me explain that: as is recommended, I took the three objects of the Theosophical Society very seriously: I took them as a Buddhist does their vows. Buddhists also have the option of giving back their vows, not all vows, but the most traditional ones do have that option. A Buddhist monk or nun can give back their vows and marry, for instance.
Similarly I have given back my devotion to the three objects. As my site testifies, I’ve given a lot of thought to those three objects. Unfortunately, I no longer believe in them as a guide for my actions.
I did my work within the TS as a devotion to the White Brotherhood. I saw the Theosophical Work in general in that light as well. I saw both as ultimately in service to humanity.
I can no longer see myself working within the TS. I can no longer see how I can contribute to a well functioning TS. I no longer think that the best I have to give fits the direction of the Theosophical Society. And before the other theosophical organisations start patting themselves on the back: I can’t see how the best I have to give fits the direction of ANY organisation that calls itself theosophical.
This doesn’t mean that I’m not available for lectures. In fact, I have two lectures scheduled for the coming lodge season (in two separate theosophical lodges) and I will give those lectures as planned. One is a Buddhist lecture that I’ve given several times already – since I’m now a practicing Buddhist I’m sure that lecture will be even better than it’s previous incarnations. In thanks to the Theosophical Society – it helped raise me after all – I will continue to be available for lectures free of charge.
Although I’ve doubted the existence of the White Brotherhood in my process over the past year, I don’t now. I trust the White Brotherhood to be a loosely organized group of highly evolved yogi’s who have humanity’s best interests at heart. However, for my own personal path I need teachers whose words my physical ears can hear, so that my own active imagination doesn’t supply them. The fact that some teachers within the FPMT are able to actually answer questions without me having to ask them out loud ads to my devotion to them.
That said – I want to repeat what I said in my newsletter a few days ago:
I spent 18 years in the TS. Most of that time it was not only my spiritual home, but a place where I could learn and feel accepted as I was. I want to thank everyone who contributed to that feeling, everyone who works for the TS and everyone I worked with for the opportunity. Those of you with whom I disagreed, or who worked in ways that didn’t fit my style or direction: I want you all to know that you are forgiven. It’s water under the bridge. I would not be on the path I’m on now without the lessons I learned from each of you.
For the Theosophical Movement as a whole: I do hope you work in the direction the White Brotherhood would wish on you, that you work in ways that fit Their vision for mankind as a whole and that as a result They can light a lamp on your path when you need it. I’m absolutely convinced that They care more for humanity as a whole than for any specific organisation, whether they helped start it or not.
Those of you who mailed me after my last post: thanks for the support. I agree: being a Buddhist and being a Theosophist aren’t necessarily in conflict. Blavatsky and Olcott themselves were Buddhists after all by that ancient definition of having taken refuge and pansil (the lay vows).
The issue is simply that I can’t serve two masters and since I’ve had such trouble dealing with one of those masters (the TS) over the past few years, the choice is easy. The FPMT has realized spiritual teachers and a path on which I have much to learn. In contrast: in the TS the path to further growth was blocked for me in several ways. I need the challenge. I need to work on myself, in order to become my best ‘self’. I need teachers, and books, and meditation instruction.
That’s as far as spiritual practice is concerned.
When it comes to cosmology and metaphysics I’ll have a lot to think about, as this conversation on Theosophy.net testifies. Thankfully (and essentially) neither Buddhists nor Theosophists have any stake on my mind: I’m still as free to make up my own mind as I was a year ago. I can’t tell yet whether Blavatsky or my Tibetan Buddhist teachers will prevail when it comes to topics like reincarnation and the afterlife. However, before I become qualified to give more than a tentative answer to any of the questions the confrontation between the two traditions calls up, I will need to finish the FPMT ‘basic program’, which will likely take me several years. I’m looking forward to the journey.
In closing I would like to remind you all of Blavatsky’s ultimately Mahayana vision of the spiritual path in her Voice of the Silence:
Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bôdhisattva – Compassion speaks and saith: “Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?”
I do believe that for most of you, when the time for this choice comes, you’ll choose the Bodhisattva path and devote your energy after enlightenment to the saving of all sentient beings from the rounds of rebirth instead of the bliss of Nirvana. May that moment come quick and may your work within the Theosophical Movement help you on that path.