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Re:Decline and expansion

Apr 08, 1998 01:14 PM
by Bjorn Roxendal

K. Paul Johnson wrote:
> Govert points out the seeming contradiction between saying that
> the TS expanded by 50% in the 1920s and then shrunk by the same
> percentage in the 1930s, and saying that the TS decline began in
> 1907 with Besant's election. I would say this is a paradox
> rather than a contradiction, in that membership numbers rising in
> the Besant presidency do not reflect an increase in the value of
> the Society's work to humanity as a whole.

Mebership figures are membership figures.

The value of world service is very hard to estimate and compare.

> Here are some criteria that matter to me in defining when decline
> began. How much influence on wider culture outside Theosophical
> ranks did HPB's writings have? Did Olcott's work have? How does
> that compare with the cultural impact of Besant and Leadbeater's
> writings? (I grant Besant her full due as a leader in Indian
> education and the Freedom Movement, but these were separate from
> her Theosophical work.) By this criterion, Theosophy was a vital
> movement with an impact on cultures around the world in the
> 19th century, but from early in the 20th it declined into a
> self-involved cult not taken seriously by anyone much outside its
> membership.

The influence of Leadbeater's and Besant's writings has been, and still is, vast
and hard to quantify.

> philosophical abstractions or
> evasive Socratic word- and mind-games which is mostly what I find
> in K.

I am glad I can agree with you on something for a change. And I would like to
add that I find a not so small element of arrogance in those mind games K was so
fond of.


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