ITC Newsletter Autumn 2015

Purposes of ITC

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International Theosophy Conferences Inc. is a platform where Theosophical organizations and all other earnest students of Theosophy meet. This infers that ITC won’t typically function as another Theosophical vehicle, in spreading Theosophy itself. Instead ITC is committed to connect all Theosophists, supporting them in their common cause in the light of the purposes of ITC, which are:

  1. To maintain the principles of the Modern Theosophical Movement presented by H. P. B. as a living power in the minds and hearts of Humanity, encouraging explorations in the light of her teachings.
  2. To foster mutual meaningful intercommunication, understanding and respect among the Theosophical mainstreams, stimulating thereby continuous spiritual Unity.
  3. To be a platform, supporting and sponsoring the annual international Conference of Theosophical Organizations.
  4. To unite people in sharing the Philosophy of Theosophy, studying and further exploring Religion, Philosophy and Science from a Theosophical Perspective.

Welcome word from the ITC president

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Herman_Gene_Jan.jpg
Herman C. Vermeulen, Gene Gennings and Jan Kind

We at ITC extend a deeply felt spiritual welcome to members and friends viewing this newsletter.

Our newsletter aims to facilitate communication between members, and when necessary with the board of directors. It has a link to the ITC Bylaws for those interested in how we function or do business. There are also links to the Naarden Declaration, which came into being, due to the contributions of all individuals present and working together at our 2014 ITC Conference.

The newsletter is intended to be a forum for communication of current concerns, events impacting ITC, and upcoming events such as our ITC conference, to be held in Santa Barbara California, from August 11th till August 14th, 2016. It will also contain timely information thought to be important for the membership and associates to know; contributions, with links when necessary, on experiences of individuals from different traditions working together during the year as a result of our international efforts to keep alive the modern teachings of HPB. There will be discussions concerning elections, results of conference evaluations, invitations at times from the readers to offer comments, and more.

Our newsletter is a new endeavor, based upon, and following our ITC purposes, and it exists to a great degree because of, and for you, as members and associates. As such, we expect it will evolve with your continued contributions and suggestions. We hope that it will serve your needs well and become yet another tool to connect Theosophists around the world in meaningful spiritual communication and work.
May all come to a full realization of themselves as spiritual Light.
Thank you.

Gene Jennings




Conclusions in relation to the Naarden Declaration

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The goals set in the Naarden Declaration during ITC 2014 (see below) are very ambitious, and from a historical point of view a milestone. The path we have to go to implement them will take much time. One of the most important things we have learned in Naarden to my surprise, was that when Theosophists are getting together, talking with each other about Theosophy there is not much of a border between Theosophists from different Theosophical main streams.

That doesn’t mean that there are no differences, but it is very easy to speak about them with mutual respect. In Naarden this led to fruitful dialogues, better understanding and a deepening of insight.

Now, a year later, we see the first effects of that meeting. ITC’s board has rephrased the ITC purposes in line with the Naarden Declaration, and this gives ITC clearer directions for its policy. We also see more international contacts; a first start for a wider exchange. We have not finished taking steps for cross-pollination. There are still many ideas waiting for further exploration.

The process has just started during our ITC 2015 Conference in The Hague and it needs to be given more attention when the ITC 2016 Conference in Santa Barbara, USA, takes off. Cross-pollination means learning from each other, always with respect for each other’s traditions. There is no main stream that cannot learn from another one.

To keep our Theosophical minds sharp below the purposes again:

Purposes of ITC

International Theosophy Conferences Inc. is a platform where Theosophical organizations and all other earnest students of Theosophy meet. This infers that ITC won’t typically function as another Theosophical vehicle, in spreading Theosophy itself. Instead ITC is committed to connect all Theosophists, supporting them in their common cause in the light of the purposes of ITC, which are:
1 To maintain the principles of the Modern Theosophical Movement presented by H. P. B. as a living power in the minds and hearts of Humanity, encouraging explorations in the light of her teachings.

2 To foster mutual meaningful intercommunication, understanding and respect among the Theosophical mainstreams, stimulating thereby continuous spiritual Unity.

3 To be a platform, supporting and sponsoring the annual international Conference of Theosophical Organizations.

4 To unite people in sharing the Philosophy of Theosophy, studying and further exploring Religion, Philosophy and Science from a Theosophical Perspective.

Herman C. Vermeulen



ITC 2015: Thank you to all

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group

Greetings to all members and friends of ITC. On behalf of our membership and board, we extend to the 2015 conference attendees a spiritual thank you for being present and participating in all this year’s program activities. Without you, it could not have been as inspiring and thought provoking as it was.
We deeply appreciate the time and energy each individual sacrificed and dedicated to the program by sharing, working, problem solving, and “cross pollinating” together. This demonstrates that Theosophists, individually and collectively, from different traditions and nations, can work together in harmony and solidarity. It gives hope to the idea that perhaps one day we can form, as suggested by our teachers, “A Brotherhood of Humanity, a real Universal Fraternity … an institution which would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds”. (ML VI, page 24)
Karma permitting, we look forward to seeing you all next year, at the ITC 2015 edition of our conference in Santa Barbara California.

Namaste.

Gene Jennings




Impressions ITC 2015

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Alice Bouwland – the Netherlands

Dear reader: sit down in an easy chair, relax for a while, take a few deep breaths and then imagine.

It is summertime; the sun is shining while a gentle breeze is cooling the Dutch summer heat cheerfully. You arrive by train in a city called The Hague. You start walking and looking around. Within a mile or so you pass by highly interesting examples of modern architecture, houses of parliament, the future palace of the king, three or four museums with pictures of the Golden Age of the country, the famous Peace Palace and last but not least many cozy streets packed with cafes and terraces, restaurants, bookshops and especially art-shops. Imagine … this is real!

But you walk on and reach your destination: the Carlton Ambassador. You’ll see a stylish and classical hotel with painted white and red sunscreens. It looks comfortable, inviting and warm. The rooms are decorated with huge curtains and painted walls, “where I feel like a princess”, as one visitor put it.

You enter this beautiful hotel and there you find the very best: a vibrant, inspired, intelligent community of people from all over the world. There are participants from Holland, Belgium, Germany, France, the USA, Brazil, New Zealand, India talking, exchanging, communicating and drinking coffee of course; don’t forget, this is Holland.

They welcome you. You get an information-map and you look around again. Wooh, this is well-organized. You see a whole bunch of IT-guys sitting behind their apparatuses, registering all proceedings on video and immediately putting it on the web.

And they have something to register! What a high level of lecturing. What a consistency in the program: a strong connection with the results of past achievements, logical steps which lead in different stages to a definite goal, the ability to stay interactive, using different working methods by which all participants are involved - the World café - and last but not least there is laughter too; fun and cheer joy!

Whatever you might have thought, here it becomes clear: the Theosophical movement is strong, healthy and alive!

These ITC meetings seem to be stepping stones towards ways of interacting far stronger and deeper which will be worked out in a nearby future when more of those gatherings are to come. From behind the veils you feel the stimulating impulses.

Dear reader, your Theosophical fata morgana has been real, but perhaps you missed this conference in The Hague. Do yourself a favor: save-up all your money and try to visit ITC 2016 in Santa Barbara, California, organized by this hardworking and growing nucleus of brotherhood. It is worth it.

Step out of your visualization, return to reality by taking a firm decision. Hopefully we will see each other “live” in Santa Barbara!

Jim Colbert – USA

It’s fun to watch the Dutch on their bicycles. They go very fast. Everybody, young, old, look like they know where they are going, and the best way to get there. I suppose this is true throughout Europe, but I was in the Netherlands for the International Theosophy Conference.

The setting was a hotel – the Carlton Ambassador Hotel, with meals, rooms, and meeting facilities. It was pleasant, efficient, and well organized. Although important for comfort, it was not the setting that made the trip. It was the incredible warmth, graciousness, and love coming from the Theosophists attending.

Maybe Theosophists on a mission to “do Theosophy” provide a center of light second to none. As the writer is a disabled person – use wheelchair – so much was given to me freely and to make my stay so rich in friendship. It was not the kind of giving that might be associated with volunteers, although most were, it was a kind of an aura of people doing something important for Theosophy which made their hearts shine above all.

An opportunity was given to me to provide a presentation on the Messianic Cycle and HPB. In preparing for this presentation, it made me look at a part of the philosophy I had previously not considered. There was something at the end, however, I forgot to include concerning Theosophical unity. I would like to put it in here. It related to the remark heard from many that we are all brothers and sisters from the family of Theosophy. This inferred that the different Theosophical traditions may have different approaches; there is a family level beyond which is greater than any tradition. I had meant to turn to the audience and ask all if they had any brothers and sisters. I would have suspected there would have been many hands upraised. I then wanted to ask the audience if their brothers and sisters go about life just as they do and ask for a show of hands. My anticipation would have been there would be very few hands. The point was that even though we all may approach life in different ways, we can be very conscious of our family connection which often goes beyond any of our individual styles. So it is with the different Theosophical traditions. It is the Theosophical family level which can lead to the greater unity.

Most all the presentations and the program as a whole were particular meaningful. Of particular satisfaction was the “World Café.” This is where the audience is divided by sitting around a table as you would in a café. A topic is given and the participants at each table begin a discussion. After approximately 15 minutes all the participants except one move on to other tables and continue the discussion. In this way one gets to meet so many from other Theosophical traditions discovering their essential similarity. Friendships grow from this. A recognition and respect can come from this and was felt so strongly by the writer.




2015 Board of Directors' Election Results

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Current board members Eugene Jennings, Jan Nicolaas Kind, Herman C. Vermeulen and Erwin Bomas have been re-elected for another term of three years.
One candidate withdrew prior to the election at the General Membership Meeting in The Hague on Sunday 9 August 2015, which left four candidates for four openings. Therefore no election was needed.

We thank all candidates for participating in this year’s election. Special thanks to the members of the Election Committee for their dedication and contribution to this important process.

For an overview of the governance structure of the organization and its current officers and directors please visit our website www.theosconf.org

Bianca Peeters - Secretary ITC

the board
Board of directors




Proposed Bylaws Revisions Approved

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The Board of Directors is pleased to announce that the proposed bylaws amendment was approved by 96 % of the voters at the General Membership Meeting in The Hague on Sunday 9 August 2015.
During the meeting some further small amendments proposed by members were approved. Most important of these minor amendments concerns the number of board members. It was agreed that any change in the number of board members needs approval from the membership.

The members’ feedback was greatly appreciated and extremely gratifying to the board.

The full text of the new bylaws can be found on our website www.theosconf.org

Jos Peeters




Evaluation ITC conference 2015 The Hague

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After the ITC conference in The Hague, we asked the participants to fill out an evaluation form, so that the board can learn from the feedback given and further improve the ITC conferences in the future.

What did we ask and what feedback did we receive?

The conference opened with a discussion on the mission of the Theosophical movement for which we used a letter of H.P.B. and a quote from The Key to Theosophy.

Participants were positive for several reasons. Many respondents felt that their understanding of the mission of the Theosophical movement had deepened. Participants also realized that the organizations have the same motive, and their own ways to manifest it.

Respondents were positive about the presentations of the mainstream organizations on how they embody HPB’s message. As one respondents put it “Knowing how the other organizations function is key to understanding the differences and identifying the best practice”. And “Very nice to hear how other organizations with same intention/heart put it into practice.”

Throughout the conference participants came together in small groups exchanging ideas on the theme of the conference. The workshop format was appreciated because “The best way to educate is to talk, to share and to explain to one another”, “Being together in a small group, every time with the same people works…”, ”It strengthened the brotherhood.”

We read why the ITC conferences were appreciated. Again some quotes that reflect what was generally felt: “I like the idea a lot of helping each other to formulate the principles in such a way that we can support and contribute on all the levels in society.” And “I notice that the ideas grow. So the input from this time is in progress and I hope that the ideas can be brought back later on.”

What did we learn from you and and what actions will we take?

Besides positive reactions we received feedback with recommendations for improvement: It was felt that the practical application of the teachings remains vague and it was advised that practical application could be guideline for ITC 2016.

Can we as members study a subject for a whole year and exchange our findings at the next ITC conference?

Sometimes presentations were too long. A maximum of 20 minutes prevents concentration loss.

One template for all PowerPoints allows for better readability.

Workshops should evolve around a clear question or assignment that has a distinct relationship to the presentations.

We are thankful for the recommendations and suggestions and we have taken some initiatives. The board and the organizing team for ITC 2016 will focus on practical application possibilities. We will report on the progress made in the next newsletters.

After the conference a number of participants formed a group intending to work out ideas together. We invite them to keep the membership up to date via this newsletter.
At ITC 2016 the workshops will take the form of study groups that work towards Theosophically founded suggestions on how to deal with today’s problems.




Ideas for ITC 2016 in Santa Barbara

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The ITC 2016 conference takes place in the retreat "La Casa de Maria" in the beautiful surroundings of Santa Barbara, California, USA.

ITC has reserved a meeting room, breakout rooms and sleeping facilities. The conference will take place from 11 August to 14 August 2016.

This conference will have its own challenges. This year, in The Hague, we started with the presentations under the title “Who we are, our mission and where do we stand now.” This was an invitation for an open discussion on where the different main streams stand, where we see similarities and where differences, and to find out where the challenges are.

Learning from each other means understanding each other. This process has just started; it is still in its infancy, and needs to be continued during ITC 2016 in Santa Barbara.

In a plenary meeting the focus for ITC 2016 was discussed and many ideas were presented on how we can work together and help each other bringing Theosophy into the world.

These ideas can be summarized as follows:

  1. More cross-pollination
  2. Exchange our Theosophical views on the way how Theosophy can find its place in the world
  3. A combined study in The Secret Doctrine and exchanging the results among speakers and audience
  4. How to bring the difficult teachings in The SD to the wider public in a practical and understandable way
  5. Give participants a topic for which they can prepare in the months preceding the ITC conference. As soon as the topics are known, pre-readings can be put on the website.
  6. A small work-group can work out a proposal for a theme and work together through Skype meetings.
  7. It would be nice to have an additional public day in Santa Barbara. A good subject is always reincarnation and karma and with a title ‘What are the opportunities in life?’ we can cover this topic.
  8. In order to prepare for a public day: we need to advertise, make flyers etc.

The board has started to work out a program based on these ideas.

We hope to see you all in Santa Barbara.

Bianca Peeters - Secretary ITC




Board meetings - What was done

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After the ITC conference in August ITC’s Board met twice; on August 30th and September 19th. On both occasions all board members were present and the local organizer for ITC 2016, Carolyn Dorrance participated in both meetings to discuss typical subjects concerning next year’s conference.

Resolved during the August 2015 meeting:

  • A flyer will be made for a first announcement for ITC 2016 in Santa Barbara. In October the flyer will be distributed among ITC members and contacts of the ULT, the TSA, the TS-P and the TS-Adyar.
  • In February 2016, the official letter of invitation with purpose and theme will follow.
  • A brainstorm about the 2016 theme took place. Suggestions were made. There was consensus that ITC participants should work together to develop ideas for social and ethical application. Study material to be made available to all participants beforehand.
  • The evaluation of ITC-2015 was discussed. 39 forms were returned. Suggestions for improvement such as: clear assignments for workshops, presentations to last no longer than 20 minutes, focus on possibilities to continue cross-pollination in between conferences. These recommendations are guidelines for ITC-2016.
  • The board discussed the content of the first ITC newsletter for members and associates which will be published in October 2015. Tasks and responsibilities were assigned to board members.

Resolved during the September 2015 meeting:

  • The first draft of the so-called “announcement flyer” was discussed. Work on the final text to be finalized before October 1st. Further announcements are planned for November and December.
  • A registration form will be in place by early October 2015, so that people can register early.
  • Title and theme of ITC 2016 were discussed. Purpose is to learn from each other and to take ITC one step further. There is consensus about focusing on Theosophy and social responsibility, as well as its practical application. Related subjects could be: which teachings are best suited to help mankind and how can the Theosophical approach be presented as a solution to problems our world is confronted with.
  • A deposit of $6,400 for the venue Casa de Maria was made. Changes in the number of rooms are allowed until 10 December. After that all rooms will be charged. The next deposit of $8,000 is due in April.
  • A model/format for the newsletter was discussed. A brainstorm about a name for the newsletter did not lead to a final decision yet.

Bianca Peeters - Secretary ITC