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Re: Theos-World Re: TS Membership Trend

May 15, 2008 07:47 AM
by MKR

Let me add my 0.02.

In the USA, where I live, what I have seen is whenever there are
theosophical lecturers -- whether they are titled as such by the National HQ
or not -- visited the lodges and lectured, it always raised local interest
from the public and had a very elevating influence. For the last two
decades, the frequency of the lecturer visits has not been been good and
even perhaps going down in many parts of the country.

Sam Walton, the man who started the world's largest stores -- Walmart (which
has the largest computer systems next to US military) -- had a simple
policy. When he was alive, he had a policy of visiting every store
personally to see what is going on. He piloted his own airplane till he was
old, and knew long-distance tele-conferencing, remote management and other
modern communication is no substitute for on-hands approach -- he lived at
the city where the company is headquartered. While there are thousands of
stores in the USA he visited each one of them every year until he died. Why,
it was his baby and he owned it and really cared for it.

That was a model I thought would be something that TS could try. With travel
in the USA being comparatively easy, this might have helped rejuvenate the
lodges (some are on life-support) and perhaps starting new lodges. This was
not done in the last two decades.

All efforts seems to be concentrated at the National Headquarters. Any
amount of publishing and writing does not seem to have much of an impetus on
increasing the membership. Also, to have a dramatic turnaround, one needs a
young, charismatic, trustworthy person to lead. Statistically and
historically speaking, upcoming and growing organizations always had young
and middle aged leadership and not septugenarians and retired persons taking
up a second career. Just look at Jesus or Shankaracharya or Buddha or even
Microsoft or Walmart.

Let us all pray with the hope of seeing better days for TS.


On 5/15/08, prmoliveira <> wrote:
> --- In <>,
> "kpauljohnson" <kpauljohnson@...>
> wrote:
> > 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
> the
> > 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
> trend
> > which runs counter to the rest of the world outside India, if I'm
> not
> > mistaken? Some years ago I did a google trends search on Blavatsky
> and
> > 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!
> Cheers,
> Pedro

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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