Re: TS Membership Trend
May 15, 2008 07:20 AM
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "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
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
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!
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