Is the Theosophical Movement proving it’s urgency still?

My brother said something wise this weekend when we ran into each other on a train station. He said that artists have to continually prove their urgency. He’s in training to be an actor, so he’s obviously thought about the topic. I’m used to disagreeing with this brother – I will always try and point out issues he’s missed or important nuances. This time, I could not. I was like: hey, he’s absolutely right. More: that’s exactly what I have to do to, in my online business: continually prove my urgency.

Thinking about it some more, I think the principle allows for even further application: it’s true for the Theosophical Movement as well – and every theosophical organization, lecturer and author too.

Blavatsky and Olcott proved the urgency of their work, back in the 19th century, by championing the rights of the ‘natives’ – the people of India and Ceylon. How are we proving our urgency today?

One of the reasons I was disappointed with the program for the Theosophical World Congress this year, was that it did not respond to the urgency of the situation we’re in. However, my disappointment with Radha personally was checked a bit (at that time) by the great School of the Wisdom program running this winter. That’s how it works: if the job gets done, we don’t worry too much about the details, but when the job is not getting done, we do.

This is true for members as well as those who might become members in future. We look at the TS and when it’s proving it’s worth we can live with a lot of details being off. When it’s not, when we don’t think it’s doing it’s job, the issues get magnified.

Appropriately enough, the theme of this year’s School of the Wisdom is the urgency of transformation. I’m not sure it proves the urgency of the Theosophical Society, however, it does show it’s value. It’s a program no other organization would be likely to put up.

For the sake of future readers of this post – this is the program of this winter’s School of the Wisdom.

Theme: The Urgency of Transformation

1 to 12 November 2010

Transformation: Vedanta Perspectives
Director: Swami Chidananda

The statement ‘That Thou Art’, from the Chandogya Upanishad, points to a dimension of our existence that is free from all limitations and negative energy. The Vedanta tradition offers insights into inner change that are comparable to waking up from a long dream. The non-dual teachings of this system give us a vision of oneness of the universe which can eliminate unrest and insecurity and promote love and compassion. This session will explore important passages of the Mundaka Upanishad and also of selected observations by Śankarāchārya, the well-known commentator on the Upanishads, which contain substantial food for thought, if not the ending of thought.

Swami Chidananda is the Director of the Rajghat Education Centre, Krishnamurti Foundation India, Varanasi. He studied Vedanta under Swami Chinmayananda and has lectured on that subject both in India and overseas. He is the author of a number of books, including Flame of Who Am I?

15 to 26 November 2010

The Urgency of Transformation
Director: Prof. P. Krishna

The state of our society is a projection of the state of human consciousness. It cannot change in any fundamental way unless we bring about a change in our consciousness. Our consciousness does not change through intellectual understanding or the changing of opinions and views. Knowledge and experience do not alter consciousness. Therefore time does not help to bring about the transformation of consciousness. How can the human consciousness come upon wisdom? In this session we shall explore these questions in depth and attempt to discover the truth for ourselves.

Prof. P. Krishna is in charge of the Krishnamurti Study Centre, KFI, Varanasi. He was the Rector of the Centre and Principal of the Rajghat Besant School from 1986 to 2002. He has lectured widely on Education, Science and Society and is also a Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy.

29 November to 10 December 2010

Transformation in the Teachings of N. Sri Ram
Director: Prof. R. C. Tampi

N. Sri Ram compared humanity to ‘an ancient plant that has seen many seasons.  It is preparing for a new flowering, which will not be a reproduction of the old, but the flowering of a new species evolved from the old.’ This course aims at a serious study of selections from Sri Ram’s writings on the nature and scope of human transformation.

The following books by N. Sri Ram are recommended reading:

An Approach to Reality

Seeking Wisdom
The Nature of Our Seeking
Consciousness: Its Nature and Action
Thoughts for Aspirants, Series I & II

N. Sri Ram: A Life of Beneficence and Wisdom (a biographical study)

Prof. R. C. Tampi, a long-standing member of the Theosophical Society, is the Director of the School of the Wisdom at Adyar and Retired Professor of English. He is also a National Lecturer for the Indian Section of the TS.

5 January to 9 February 2011

Theme: Inquiry into the Nature of the Self in the Upanishads
Director: Dr Ravi Ravindra

Many sages in India have stressed the importance of discernment between Self and non-Self, and they have said that the major characteristic of a basic human ignorance is the blurring of this distinction.  What is the Self?  How can we approach the understanding of the Self? How do we distinguish this from the usual many manifestations of self?  The Upanishads regard the aim of human existence to be Self-realization and they present a model of a free, bold and non-sectarian inquiry into the nature of the Self.  This course will draw upon the insights of the principal Upanishads in an exploration of the Self.

Dr Ravi Ravindra is Professor Emeritus at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia in Canada, and the author of a number of books including Yoga and the Teaching of Krishna, The Yoga of the Christ and Whispers from the Other Shore. He has directed a number of sessions of the School of the Wisdom in the past.

Recommended Texts:

The Principal Upanishads
, translated and edited by S. Radhakrishnan
The Upanishads, translation and commentary by Sri Aurobindo
Yoga and the Teaching of Krishna by Ravi Ravindra