Interview for June 2013, Theosophy Forward edited by Jan Kind
1. What’s your name, where are you from and how long have you been a member of the TS?My name is Ken Small and I grew up in the area of San Diego, California called Point Loma. I am not a member of any particular TS and facilitate the ‘Point Loma School of Theosophic Perennialism’, (www.pointlomaschool.com) for study and classes in the Theosophic Perennialism, which is the successor organization to Point Loma Publications.2. Are you active in your Lodge/Section and if so, what do you do?Through the ‘Point Loma School of Theosophic Perennialism’, (www.pointlomaschool.com ) we host discussion groups and study in the Blavatsky and Theosophic Perennialism of the Point Loma tradition. Additionally I express my ‘theosophic’ effort in teaching meditation and mindfulness through Zen and Buddhist groups at Enso Meditation in San Diego and other groups. In my view, Theosophy met the interests and needs of the late 19th century with what was at the time, revolutionary teachings on karma and reincarnation. Today’s dynamic exploration and need is in the arena of understanding the nature of consciousness and also the very practical need to have tools to ameliorate our own stress and suffering. Meditation is relevant and offers solutions and understanding in both of these areas and Theosophic Perennialism has deep insights to offer here.3. How did your first learn about Theosophy or come in contact with the Society?My parents and grandparents were ‘Point Loma’ Theosophists, so I grew up immersed in the broad context of theosophy. I realize now, that there was perhaps an added openness of inquiry due to fact that my parents and their large global Theosophical network of friends and associates were all no longer associated with any particular Theosophical society. Being exiles due to the fragmentation of the Point Loma society because of conflicting leadership claims after dePurucker’s death, they were all in a sense quite free of organizational constraints. They manifest a rather unusual and continuous Theosophic creativity, which can be seen in the writings and work of this loosely associated group of dePurucker’s closest esoteric students. (e.g. deZirkoff, Iverson and Helen Harris, Gordon Plummer, Geofrey and Ila Barborka, Emmett Small, Helen Todd, Elsie Benjamin etc.) For example, this organizational freedom opened the door to a great deal of positive Theosophic collaboration especially with the Adyar society during the late 1960’s through mid 1980’s.
4. What does Theosophy mean to you?I find resonance with Blavatsky’s expansive idea where she says:’Vaughan offers a far better, more philosophical definition. “A Theosophist,” he says–“is one who gives you a theory of God or the works of God, which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis.” In this view every great thinker and philosopher, especially every founder of a new religion, school of philosophy, or sect, is necessarily a Theosophist.‘ I think it is important to always remember Blavatsky’s broad and generous view! It is also summed up in the Theosophical motto: “There is no religion higher than truth”.
5. What is your favourite Theosophical book and why?Blavatsky’s “The Voice of the Silence” I feel for myself, is still the most pivotal book in all Theosophical literature , because it opens the door to the practice of meditation and also the way of compassion and ideal of the Bodhisattva. It could be called a manual of the ethics for inner development, which is the inner ‘fuel’ that drives the Theosophical Movement.6. What in your opinion is the biggest challenge the TS Adyar (as an organization) is facing at the moment?Certainly it could be easily stated: ‘All the Theosophical organizations are ingrown and rather toxic’, but however true, this is too simplistic. The heart of the matter is in all of us. So to always remain clear that ‘I’ am the ‘biggest challenge’ and to keep in mind: “How do we authentically challenge ourselves?” I think this is the only real question and that all the organizational questions are quite secondary.
7. Is there anything you would wish for the future of the Theosophical Movement?
It appears that there have been at times, in the historical dynamics of Theosophy, the tendency to lapse into, either, mere metaphysical descriptive replication from the past or follow the incomplete delusions of personal revelation. I would hope that the Theosophical Movement will be able to maintain its root source which can guide it through this inauthentic tendency to externalize the genuine ‘inner light’.
Ken Small May, 2013 at ‘Point Loma School’ library and class room