By Richard Smolley
Visiting the Theosophical Societyâ€™s American headquarters, Radha Burnier, president of the international TS in Adyar, India, addressed the staff and volunteers at the Olcott campus in Wheaton on May 23. Although she had last been to the campus three years ago, she told the audience, â€œI have been acquainted with this place probably longer than any of you,â€ her first visit having been during the administration of former TSA president Dora Kunz.
Reminding the staff of the Societyâ€™s long heritage, Burnier went on to recount some of the TSâ€™s history, going back to its first founding in the U.S. in 1875. For that reason, she observed, â€œin Adyar there is a big board, giving the names of sections. The American Section comes first. Not long after, the Indian Section came into existence.â€
Burnier noted that she is having â€œa great deal of contactâ€ with lodges in countries where Theosophy has faced adversity, such as Russia, which now has three lodges, and Pakistan, which has two lodges left. The latter are â€œhaving a very difficult timeâ€ because of the opposition of certain Muslim groups who have even tried to take possession of lodge buildings.
In India itself, she said, â€œone of the important aspects of the work is unityâ€ beyond differences of caste and religion. Since its earliest days, Burnier stressed, the Societyâ€™s main goal has been to â€œmake people understand what are the real things, and which ones people should pay attention to.â€ Prime among these has to do with the Societyâ€™s First Object, which espouses the brotherhood of humanity and indeed of all life. â€œWe are different, yet the same,â€ Burnier said. â€œWe are one people from end to end of the earth.â€ For this reason, she said, it is necessary to emphasize love, â€œnot in a physical, material sense, but in a real sense. Love is in essence the realization of the unity of all creatures, to realize it in oneâ€™s heart.â€
To foster awareness of this truth is â€œwhy the Society is being kept aliveâ€ despite ups and downs in membership levels, Burnier went on to say. Describing the TS as â€œa forward-looking movement that will take people very far in their evolution,â€ Burnier looked forward to an increasing influence for the organization. â€œAlthough we are a small society, it is growing and inwardly taking shapeâ€ as a vehicle for helping people to realize â€œthe importance of the unity of human beings.â€
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