[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]

Re: TS Membership Trend

May 15, 2008 07:20 AM
by prmoliveira

--- In, "kpauljohnson" <kpauljohnson@...> 

> I grant your point that Radha has been no slacker at nurturing the 
> grassroots with visits around the world. Which is why I wondered if 
> events in Canada, Denmark, and Yugoslavia account for the overall 
> loss.  Why so much shrinkage outside India and so much growth 
within it?

Dear Paul,

I don't have statistics at hand, but the the membership in the three 
countries mentioned above certainly did not account for the overall 
loss. After the 1929 crisis, when K left, the TS, which had over 
45,000 members at the end of 1928, lost, in about two years, more 
than 15,000 members! One could even wonder how the organisation 
maintained its cohesiveness after such a monumental loss.

After that, and this is rather weird, for a period of almost 80 
years, the overall membership has fluctuated around 30,000, more or 
less. There were years that it could go up to 34,000 or more and 
other years in which it would descend to 28,000 or so, but the 
constant benchmark has been around 30,000. 

My own limited interpretation of the above patterns is this:
1)the TS has never presented itself as a mass movement; 2) After 
Besant, no other President had the same cultural and historical 
impact on the world that would result in a large increase in 
membership; 3) the TS was and is a gravitational field for "seekers", 
using this category in its broadest sense. Some stay, many come, have 
a look and move on.

Another factor that may have influenced the pattern of membership in 
some Sections is the approach to the theosopical tradition. England, 
for example, had over 2,000 members in 1975, and then it dropped, and 
until recently its membership was around 800. IMHO, this pattern may 
be associated to a Blavatsky-centered approach, which sometimes tends 
not to include many more authors. But now, if you see the list of 
public programs at 50 Gloucester Place, the HQ of the English 
Section, there is more variety and the membership has increased and 
crossed the 1,000 mark.

In Australia, which I know a little better, the overall approach to 
the theosophical tradition is more eclectic - there are study classes 
in the SD, Voice of the Silence, the Mahatma Letters, but also 
interest in Geoffrey Hodson and other authors. But even here, the 
membership statistics gravitate around 1,350, without notiaceble 
increases or decreases.

If I were to give a personal reply to your question I would say that 
what made me stay in the TS after my first meeting (which took place 
amidst intense crossfire between Brazilian, Argentinian and Uruguayan 
young theosophists in February 1978, in the south of Brazil) were the 
people. I was truly impressed by the fact that there were intensely 
emotional arguments during the sessions, but at meal times people 
would talk and listen to each other! I was very moved to see not only 
their dedication to the TS but also their commitment to a way of life 
that seeks first to understand instead of barking "You are wrong!" I 
was also impressed because no one criticized me for having a Saint 
Germain (I was a member of Bridge to Freedom then) sticker on the 
window of my Volkswagen!

> Can you give us more perspective on the South American membership 
> which runs counter to the rest of the world outside India, if I'm 
> mistaken?  Some years ago I did a google trends search on Blavatsky 
> found Brazil at the top of the list-- here's where it stands now:
> Did something happen in SA in early 2007 to cause a huge spike of 
> interest in HPB?

There may be a number o reasons:

1) The Cranston biography of HPB was published in Portuguese some 
years ago.

2) The Portuguese edition of "Madame Blavatsky Baboon" was also 
published and caused a bit of a national sensation after one of the 
main newspapers in Rio de Janeiro published a full page review of it.

3) Many TS Lodges in Brazil now have their own websites.

4) Some evangelical churches regularly attack Blavatsky in their 
newsletters, branding her "the originator of the New Age", 
of "ocultism", relating it to the black arts, etc. When I was still 
in Brazil, I saw one of these publications and it said that the Old 
Lady was a "satanist"! In order to prove their point, they quoted 
what HPB wrote about the concept of Satan in the SD!  

5) There are also some magazines which focus on spiritual traditions, 
new age, etc., that publish articles about Blavatsky and her legacy 
on a regular basis.

Both the Argentinian and Brazilian Sections - the largest - have lost 
members over the years, but it is also true that both these Sections 
have been able to maintain a core group of dedicated workers. And 
some of them are reading these messages. :)

It is 12:10am in Sydney and time to wish you a good day!



[Back to Top]

Theosophy World: Dedicated to the Theosophical Philosophy and its Practical Application