The big news of July was our 118th Annual Meeting and Summer School with Martin Liederman teaching a series of lessons on The Secret Doctrine. "Chaos, Order, and the Divine Plan" was a most appropriate theme, since the gathering was characterized by creative chaos. Just a few weeks before the big event, our audio/video specialist Steve Schweizer made a breakthrough in working out how to achieve live broadcasting over the Internet at an affordable rate. Supported by the Internet Services/Information Technology Department headed by Ruben Cabigting, and the advances our staff and equipment have made over the last few years, we were able to make webcasts of all our scheduled programsâ€”and some unscheduled ones.
Part of the chaos was due to a last-minute scramble to get the word out to as many of our members as possible. But, last-minute or not, many tuned in from all over the country and around the world. In fact, we had responses from Brazil and England, as well as New Zealand. The atmosphere of this historic event was pervaded by a deep sense of our universal connections with fellow Theosophists around the world. Members who were unable to attend in person could sit in their own homes, view the proceedings, and send in their comments and questions via e-mail, to which the speaker could respond ediately.
An elderly member wrote to tell us how much it meant to her to feel a part of things again. Another who has not lived near a lodge or study group said that the program had inspired her to study Theosophy with new zeal. And the greetings and warm wishes poured in to enhance the expanded sense of brotherhood for all. A selected number of the programs are still available on our Web site, http://www.theosophicalinstitute.org/medialibrary/medialibrary.php . If you log on, you may catch some of the enthusiasm of the moment.
One special event that was broadcast and still resides on our Web site was a readersâ€™ theater production based on the first volume of The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky, entitled "HPB Live!" . The Theosophical Publishing House staff, especially Nicole Krier, publicist, and Sharron Dorr, managing editor, became entranced by the multifaceted character of HPB revealed in the letters. They decided that a good way to promote the book was to dramatize some of the events. It provided grand entertainment and a fascinating glimpse into the private side of our enigmatic founder. Check it out for yourself on our Web site.
Entertainment included world-class musicians Carmelo de los Santos (violin) and Regina Yeh (piano), as well as Martin Pazdioch (tenor). It was amazing to sit among friends in our lovely national library as we listened to outstanding performances. Our last eveningâ€™s fun night showcased many of our talented members.
As soon as everyone had left, I was on my way to participate in the fiftieth anniversary program of Far Horizons Theosophical camp in the High Sierra Mountains of California. During the several nights in which we viewed old slides of the building process and all the people who made the camp possible, I was struck by its rich history of dedicated Theosophists and workers over the past fifty years. They committed many summers and even some winters to transform that beautiful wilderness into a welcoming retreat center. I discovered that not only were they hard working, but they were fun loving, as we danced the Virginia reel and other folk dances.
Although August is generally considered our slow month, with no programs, it was not so this year. Olcott was privileged to host a touring display of Buddhist relics in the Tibetan tradition on August 21 and 22. Between 500 and 600 people came through our doors to see the explanatory video, receive a blessing, circumambulate, and meditate in the presence of the beautiful relics purported to be from Gautama Buddha and other highly venerated holy men. The exhibit brought many new faces to our door and generated additional interest in the Society.
At the end of this far from dull month, my husband, David, and I traveled to the northwest, where I gave several presentations in Tacoma and Seattle, followed by a workshop at Indralaya Theosophical camp on Orcas Island. This was the first workshop that David and I have led together, and we felt it was very successful. Together we planned a way to empower members to commit to a Theosophically related service project tailored to where they live and supported by a buddy system to help them see the task through to completion. We were excited by the results of this model, which has the potential to energize our members with a "can do" attitude, and we look forward to the promised six-month progress reports from all participants.