Printed in the Summer 2014 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Boyd, Tim. "From the International President" Quest 102. 3 (Summer 2014): pg. 83.
It has been a long strange road that led me to the Theosophical Society's international headquarters at Adyar, in Chennai, India. As I write, Adyar is where I am now serving as the TS's eighth international president. As much as we Theosophists believe that change is the nature of life and that all is in a continual state of flux, April 27, 2014, will be a day that marks an obvious and dramatic shift for the TS, and for me personally. That was the day that the election ballots were counted and the day that I stepped into the Adyar headquarters building to assume the president's position.
Just to give you a little background: In May of 2011 I had just taken over as the president of the Theosophical Society in America. It was an exceedingly busy time. Not only was I acquainting myself with the ins and outs of the national headquarters' operation, but I was also directing the endless details of the Dalai Lama's fast-approaching visit. It was a heady time, in which the TS's name and reputation received a great deal of favorable attention. Good wishes poured in from around the world. Soon after, in December, I attended my first meeting of the TS General Council at Adyar. After almost forty years of membership it was my first visit to the international headquarters. Then-president Radha Burnier had asked me to give a public talk to the twelve hundred people assembled for the annual convention. During my time at Adyar I spoke with Radha, inviting her to visit with us at Olcott when she came to the U.S. in 2012. She assured me that she would.
Life went on, but it seemed to be taking on an international character for me. Radha came to the U.S. and we talked about many things. Specifically, she wanted to explore my suitability and availability to serve as international president. We parted agreeing that we would both think about it. At Olcott each year we hosted at least one major international eventâ€”in 2011, the Dalai Lama; in 2012, the International Theosophy Conference, which brought together the diaspora of Theosophical groups; in 2013, the international Theosophical Order of Service planning conference. On the invitation of various Sections I participated in TS schools and conferences in New Zealand, Singapore, India, Brazil, and Mexico. Then in October 2013 Radha passed on, and the TS was thrown into the selection process for a new president.
Fast forward to today. The international elections have come and gone. In the U.S. the TSA elections have just been completed with the same result â€” my election as president. While this dual presidency is unprecedented, it is the fact of the moment. For the time that this state of affairs lasts, it will require a division of my time between the two centers. The American Section is strong and has systems and people in place to advance the work. The international headquarters at Adyar needs a great deal of attention. Toward the end of Radha's life and during the six months since her passing, many functions ground to a halt in anticipation of a new president. The Adyar center has many dedicated and qualified long-time workers, but we are seriously understaffed. People here are performing two, even three different jobs to make sure that the work gets done. The result is that our people are spread thin. The level of commitment to the work is inspiring, but the workload many have taken on is unfair.
Although the maintenance of the Adyar headquarters is only one part of the international work, it is an important part. The TS is an international organization. In recent years some of the sense of the TS as a global body has begun to fade. Many of our Sections have struggled. Going forward, we will have to give greater attention to reestablishing a genuine global participation. All around the world our various national Sections find themselves strapped for resources. Often, just like at Adyar, the main resource lacking is dedicated workers. Since I have taken office, every day has brought members to my door asking to volunteer their time and skills, as well as e-mails from India and abroad asking, â€œHow can I help?â€ Step by step an international team is forming.
As great as the task seems, my experience in every situation of my TS life encourages me. Sincere aspiration, commitment, and intention are unfailing in calling forth a response from those Great Ones who support this and all work on behalf of humanity. The TS worldwide will be fine. My greatest hope is that you will find your way to participate in this special moment. I will wait to hear from you.