The Theosophical Society in America

President's Diary

Printed in the  Fall 2017     issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Herbert, Barbara, "President’s Diary" Quest 105:4(Fall 2017) pg. 34-35

Barbara HebertSpring and summer 2017 have been a time for meeting old and new friends, for transitions, and for growth and learning. Early spring brought a visit to the Theosophical Society in Portland, Oregon. It was wonderful to visit this vibrant group and to experience their gorgeous Victorian-era building, which houses a main meeting room, a library, and smaller meeting and administrative rooms. The members extended a tremendous welcome. Nancy Secrest spent hours driving me around the area so that I could experience its natural beauty. We also had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Lan Su Chinese Gardens and lunching in the teahouse. The garden is the result of a collaboration between the city of Portland and its sister city in China, Suzhou, famous for its Ming Dynasty gardens. This incredible botanical garden is based on 2000-year-old Chinese traditions, which meld art, architecture, design, and nature in perfect harmony. The visit to Portland combined the joy of meeting old friends (some for the first time in this incarnation!), the stimulation of sharing Theosophical ideas and concepts, and the bright light of warm hospitality.

In April, Ananya Sri Ram Rajan and I had the privilege of doing a workshop at Ojai’s Krotona School of Theosophy entitled “Empowering the Divine Feminine.” The workshop was well attended, and everyone seemed to enjoy having the opportunity to talk about self-nurturance on the spiritual path. Once again, it was joyful to meet old and new friends. Being at Krotona is always a delight. I lived there and worked on staff for four years, so it always feels like home to me. The Ojai Valley provides beauty, a sense of peace, and a connection to nature that is not found in many places. The trip also involved the extra pleasure of family! My sister, Lindy, accompanied me to Krotona, and my cousin, Kate, lives in nearby Ventura and attended the workshop. Both are lifelong Theosophists. Together with Ananya and Kate’s husband, Pete, we spent time together enjoying the beauty of the area.

  Portland
  Barbara Hebert speaking at the
Portland Lodge

The Texas Federation held its annual meeting in San Antonio at the beginning of May. Sharing time with Texans from across the state reminded me of the spiritual closeness that we all feel. Even though we are separated geographically, once we are together, it feels as if we have always been together! It has been said that Theosophists like to greet, meet, and eat. That is very true of the Texas Federation meeting. Members spent a great deal of time hugging one another after a separation of a year or more. We certainly had a series of interesting meetings in which many members discussed various aspects of walking the spiritual path. And of course there was a great deal of eating, from snacks provided in the meeting room to a wonderful dinner at a local Indian restaurant. As usual, the conversations about Theosophical topics continued throughout the entire visit.

June brought a time of transition for me as well as for our international president and former national president, Tim Boyd, and his family. I spent the entire month of June preparing for my move to our national headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, while at the same time Tim and his family were getting ready for their move away from Wheaton and into Chicago. Preparing for a major move is an interesting experience, especially in regard to attachment. It is shocking to me how many things one accumulates over time—or perhaps I should really own that statement and say that I was shocked to realize what I had accumulated. As I sorted and recycled items that needed a new home, I began to worry that the person at the second-hand store would run in terror when he saw me drive up to deliver yet another load. This experience certainly left me with a strong desire (yes, I said desire!) not to continue the behavior of accumulation.

At the end of June, Lindy and I drove from my home in southern Louisiana to Wheaton. Lindy’s plan was to help me move into my new abode, the president’s house, in which Tim and Lily had lived for the previous six years. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, it was not to be! My furniture did not arrive as expected. In fact, it was delayed for a week. Therefore, we took the most reasonable option available to us—Lindy and I played tourist in downtown Chicago for two days. We saw all of the sights and ate deep-dish pizza. It was wonderful! Sadly, Lindy had to return to Louisiana for work, and later in the week, my furniture finally arrived.

 I was able to unpack enough so that I could provide dinner at my house for the board members on the night before the first board meeting. As you know, we have six board members—two from each district—who come together twice a year to discuss the business of the TSA. They are joined by the national president, the national vice-president (Kathy Gann), the national secretary (David Bruce), the national treasurer (Floyd Kettering), the chief financial officer (Augie Hirt), and the Olcott chief of staff (Christopher Dixon). These amazingly dedicated Theosophists spend three-and-a-half days listening to reports from the various departments at Olcott, discussing budgetary issues, and determining the path of the TSA.

BarbaraCynthia.jpg  
Barbara with Cynthia Talboys
of the Texas Federation.
 

This July board meeting went very well. It was absolutely amazing to listen to the Olcott staff talk about the many and varied methods they are using to share Theosophy with the world—from webinars to live streaming of lectures at Olcott, from ebooks and audiobooks to the Theosophical YouTube channel—just to name a few!

Once the board meeting finished, it was time for our 131st Summer National Convention (SNC). The topic, chosen by Tim Boyd, was “Ecospirituality: Embracing the Soul of the World.” Over 100 people attended the three-and-a half-day conference. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time greeting old friends, attending the educational sessions, and eating the delicious food (especially the desserts!). It was delightful to see so many friends—old and new—at the SNC, and I look forward to sharing next summer’s convention with even more friends!

The programs at the 2017 SNC were eye-opening in many ways. The speakers were absolutely phenomenal. As Sr. Gabriele Uhlein mentioned in her final talk on Tuesday morning, the entire conference was “a donation to the evolution of humanity.” From her, we learned that “eco,” at its root, means “home,” and that ecology means the study, logic, and work of home. From Dr. Richard Heinberg, Dr. Roger Gottleib, and Dr. Will Tuttle, we learned that our home, our Great Mother, is in serious trouble. From Dr. Robyn Finseth, we learned that we can become partners with the unseen beings who work to nourish the Mother and her children. The content of every talk was enlightening; however, the talks were also disconcerting and very sobering at times. If you did not have the opportunity to hear them, I strongly encourage you to seek them out on the Theosophy YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheosophicalSociety). It may be life-changing for you, as I believe it was for many who attended the conference.

 As seekers on the path, we received a call during this convention. No longer can we turn a blind eye to what is happening in our world. We cannot unhear what we heard. We cannot hide behind our books and say, no matter how truthfully, that energy is never lost, what dies will come again in another form. We have been called to act—to become ecospiritually active in accordance with Theosophical teachings

First, we must look within, seeking increased awareness and understanding of ourselves and of our connection to all beings. What happens to one of us happens to all of us. What happens to the water, to the trees, to the animals happens to us.

  Krontona
   A session at the Krotona workshop on “Empowering the Divine Feminine.

Then we must look outside of ourselves. We must accept our responsibility—daring to connect with each other and with all of nature. The Theosophical Society cannot and will not tell us what actions to take: each of us must look to ourselves and our own paths to make that determination. Some of us may take huge steps into ecospirituality, making major changes in our lives. Others may change one small thing at a time. These are decisions that can only be made by each individual.

Make no mistake, however: we have been called to make changes—to see what is happening in our world today and then to act on what is before us. We learned that it is essential for us all to move forward, secure in the knowledge that we can and will make a difference in our world.

I share with you all my gratitude, not only to our Great Mother and all of her helpers for their very existence, but also for the opportunity to move forward as their coworkers in nourishing and restoring our world.

Barbara Hebert