The Theosophical Society in America

President's Diary

July - August 2006

Betty Bland 

The early summer rains brought out the lushness of the grounds at Olcott which welcomed participants to the National Board meetings and Summer National Gathering.









The presence of Radha Burnier, international president, enhanced a full agenda exploring "Theosophy in Action." Programs featured Radha giving the Founders' Address, Joy Mills speaking on "The Vitality of Living Truth," John Algeo with a set of two lectures based on Madam Blavatsky's last communications to the American Section, and special guest, Diana Dunningham Chapotin, who helped highlight a renewed focus on the Theosophical Order of Service.

John Algeo, Joy Mills, Radha Burnier

Diana Dunningham Chapotin

Diana led us in an informative question and answer session based on the Society's early writings and history, as well as a less edifying but fully entertaining talent evening. Discussion groups, meditation classes, superb vegetarian meals, musical performances, poetry readings, and classical Indian dance rounded out a successful annual gathering.

A series of maintenance crises plagued an otherwise problem free session. The summer rains, not always so gentle, revealed the presence of several critical roof leaks, and the heat brought on the failure of the air conditioning system in the Mill's Building-guest rooms and offices. These repair issues did not make our overstrained budget any easier to deal with, so we determined it necessary to borrow the funds from the Theosophical Investment Trust, to be repaid over a period of five years. This situation points up the need to develop additional sources of long term support for our beautiful center and the services it provides to members.

After a few interim days to prepare for an overseas adventure, David and I departed for London and the English Section Summer School, held near Northampton on the campus of a small college during the school's vacation. The long walks between venues and cool moist weather did nothing to dampen their warm welcome. The audience responded positively to my Blavatsky Lecture, which explored the practical implications of the keys and portals of the third fragment of The Voice of the Silence. My other responsibilities included a public lecture on "A Theosophical Perspective on the Near-Death Experience" and a three-day workshop series on "Living Theosophy." In addition to participating in the many programs and workshops, I had the opportunity to sit in on the English council meeting of the Theosophical Order of Service, the TOS being a continuing interest of mine.

Because of a connection through John Cianciosi, Quest Books author and former abbot of a Buddhist monastery, we were invited to visit the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and Retreat Center in Hertfordshire. John's friend, Bhukki Vajiro, gave us a lovely tour around the grounds, while sharing with us his gentle wisdom. Ajahn Vijaro had studied Theosophy under Adam Warcup in the 1970's so we found some pleasant correspondences. The center even had a Theosophy section in its library, for which TPH may have remainder titles that might prove useful.

Our timing for travel was perfect. The conference ended exactly on the weekend that the terrorist plot for bombing planes at London's Heathrow airport were exposed. During our week of vacationing we followed the news, but did not worry over much about the bedlam and heightened security. We rightfully surmised that the crisis would be short lived, but still allowed four hours to clear security rather than the usual two. Thanks to the commendable efforts of airport authorities we arrived back in good old US of A without mishap-well rested except for the annoying circumstance of jet lag.

During our absence, the traveling exhibit of ancient and sacred Buddhist relics, called the Maitreya Heart Shrine Relic Tour, was on display in our auditorium at Olcott. The beautiful and inspiring display brought over five hundred people to our campus over the weekend and all who attended surely benefited from the heightened healing energy present. For a few days our national center also served as a movie set for Shady Milkmen Productions' filming of The Strip. After exploring several sites in the area, the film company selected the grounds at Olcott for the setting of a Pakistani wedding scene. With the film's 2007 release, the location credit will provide some additional exposure for the society and of course some extra income does not hurt. Several staff members also had the opportunity to serve as extras.

We now are preparing for TheosoFest, our "open house" festival with presentations, activities, food, and fun taking place in September. Thus begins our new cycle of programs and activities for the Fall.

English Section Summer School

Barry Gornalls & BB


BB & Bhikkhu Vajiro

Cynthia & Atma Trasi with BB

Colin Price & BB

Movie Set "The Strip"

Chris Bolger

Rogers Building

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