The Theosophical Society in America

President's Diary

January 2005

Betty Bland

India now seems far behind us. We met some wonderful people among the Indian, European, and other foreign delegations, and are sorry that we are all so distant—but these friendships of mutual interest will bloom again whenever our paths cross.

Because of the trauma from the tsunami, the entrances of the Adyar campus were lined with donations of food and clothing for distribution to those in need.. Diana Dunningham-Chapotin, international vice-president of the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS), Maitreya, a capable member from the local area, and David Bland dressed in their western business finery to visit the management of a local bank and solicit support for the TOS disaster relief.

The bank was most impressed with the delegation’s international flavor and professional air. The group was unsuccessful in obtaining immediate cash contributions for the short term, but the bank seemed quite interested in exploring long time support for TOS projects. They were impressed that two westerners—from France and USA—had arrived to provide support so promptly after the disaster!

On our last evening in India, I was late for a meeting, which I had promised Diana I would attend, so walked ahead of David at a pretty good clip, past the skinny old beggar man who spent his days and evenings sitting in one spot, hoping for some handout—which we were warned not to give unless we wanted to be overrun with young and old beggars. I had just glanced at my watch and concluded that there was no possible way to arrive on time, when a motorcycle stopped and an attractive young lady leaned over to offer me a ride. After I was on the back of the cycle, the lady told me she was only passing through the property and didn’t even know where the main hall was! As we were flying by I almost missed its location myself. So I arrived at my last meeting—on a motorcycle driven by a stranger—just in the nick of time, but in the rush I did the unpardonable and left my sandals on. Oh well, one can’t win them all.

Upon our arrival in Singapore, Sanne Chong and his wife Lily whisked us away to their yacht parked in a bay at the Singapore Yacht Club. Staying on a boat was a new and interesting experience for us. Pleasant meals, soft breezes, and gentle rocking lulled us into a wonderful state of well-being.

We would like to clone Sanne and Lily for the Theosophical world. They became active in the Singapore Lodge about six years ago and have increased the membership from a small number of elderly members to about 300. Their organizational and people skills, coupled with their solid knowledge of Theosophy and the regular Theosophical introductory courses they conduct have proven to be a winning combination. There were ninety people in attendance at my “members only” lecture on a weekday evening. It was an interesting eclectic group of many faiths.

One woman we met had recently decided to join a Christian group that required her to give up her lifelong Islamic faith. She now faced a new dilemma. The evangelist working with her had informed her that she would also need to renounce Theosophy in order to receive baptism. She felt torn by the whole ordeal because in Theosophy she found an open acceptance and respect for all religions that helped reconcile her feelings of allegiance to both Christianity and the Islamic faith. She is now rethinking her decision with the Christian group if it is going to be so restrictive and unbrotherly.

Moving right along to “Down Under,” we arrived in New Zealand a couple days before their conference began. After enjoying a brief rest, our time was filled with attending and conducting programs, and indulging in conversations and mealtimes. Early morning yoga, taught by Tania Dyett, a delightful 82 year-old lady, stretched our minds as well as bodies. Throughout the conference, the Theosophical Order of Service, particularly active under the leadership of Renee Sell, auctioned and sold art and other items in an effort to raise money for worthy projects.

The spirit of fellowship that grew throughout our New Zealand visit stayed with us as we wended our way to the last leg of our journey, Australia,. Brisbane’s sweltering weather greeted us almost as warmly as the Australian Section. Although my other presentations there were in buildings with air-conditioning, my afternoon public talk A Theosophical Perspective on Near-Death Experiences was in an airless chapel. As the audience of close to 100 melted into their seats I wondered if they were having their own near-death experiences, or perhaps they were grateful to think of an alternative in the afterlife other than being dangled over the “fiery hell-pits” as described by some theologians.

My pace continued at warp-speed as I arrived at Olcott and prepared for winter Board meetings. Our integrated efforts to make the Society more visible and Theosophy better known kept the Board busy exploring creative ideas and budgetary constraints. Though productive, the meetings also had a bittersweet aspect as several Board members will be rotating off this time. It has been an excellent Board and we owe them gratitude for their service.

Betty's World Tour

(click to enlarge)


American visitors

Dr. Srinivasan, BB,
Flemming & Birte Hansen

Leadbeater chambers

musical performance

Children performace at
Social Welfare Center

BB and Mary Abdill

presenting certicicate's at
Social Welfare Center


Singapore Lodge Library

Sanne & Lily's Yacht

Lily & Sanne Chong



BB & David

BB & Preethi Muthiak

New Zealand

John Vorstermans,,
Janine Sullenberger, BB,
Melanie Closs

New Zealand

BB & Lara

Bland's & Sell's