What exactly do you do?
That is kind of a hard question to answer...the 'doing' often being invisible to another...
From an overall perspective however, we stand for peace, justice and harmony in the world, and see that that work must start within ourselves, before these ideals can effectively spread to our immediate circles, out to the communities we live in and so on. If we see ourselves as separate 'from' in any way, even in positions of 'perceived' power, these ideals will be harder if not impossible to achieve. Disharmony and conflict will then always prevail. We endeavour to remember in these inevitable situations, as we are after all 'human' and 'reactive' creatures, that we are all ultimately made of the same 'stuff'....and to realise this in our core, not just in words. This is the real 'work' in every situation that life throws our way. That is why the 'doing' is 'invisible' to another....only we know what inner work we are 'doing'. Yet that is the most powerful force we can develop, and that then can uplift us in all situations and ultimately all of mankind at large. That is the journey we are all on. But the journey starts with small steps, where each small step set patiently in front of another has a huge impact. It is in fact the universal 'law of cause and effect'. We recognise however that each person's journey will be different and yet the same, perfect in each one's imperfection, as we are ALL students.....each one of us with our own personal learnings, yet whether we know it or not, all moving along towards that same 'endless' end.
How do you achieve your aims?
We disseminate a vast body of teachings and in particular, drawing from the wisdoms from all traditions, that have that common core of insights to help us deepen our own understanding of the interconnectedness of all and everything, that we are not separate. All is energy and energy as with thought vibrations, cannot be contained. What befalls one ultimately befalls us all as we are ONE. Yet we do not have doctrines or rules but instead encourge 'enquiry' within, in our quest for that Truth. Hence the motto of the Society 'There is no religion higher than Truth'.
Annie Besant advised that a mere accumulaton of 'knowledge' is worthless, but that 'knowledge combined with action' becomes wisdom. She emphasised that the spiritual path is a practical one. And her whole life was an inspiring example of that. To that end she founded the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS) for those members who wanted to fully embrace 'service' or 'karma yoga' to serve those in need, the poor, the homeless, for environmental sustainable projects, education for girls and boys, orphanages throughout the world, animal welfare....the opportunities for involvement being endless, if we live with open eyes and hearts.
What makes you different from others?
The Society's Three Objects are distinct, as is our Freedom of Thought. They are the only guidelines that we encourage all who attend meetings and in their daily lives to be bound by. With time just reviewing these daily to set the 'tone of the day', as we intereact with events and people in our lives, or to 'do a daily end of day review' changes how we show up in our world. Many Thesosophists say that these Three Objects and the Freedom of Thought, these uniting principles, are what drew them into the Society in the first place and what keeps them supporting it with their membership throughout their lifetime. Many also report how these have changed their lives and relationships in profound ways.
Do you publish annual reports?
Yes. Contact the Secretary's office to learn more. However you can also have access and insight into the workings of the Society by attending local meetings, subscribing to your country's Theosophical magazine, or indeed Adyar's own monthly magazine The Theosophist, or else attending the Annual end of year National or International Conventions, to which you will have access and at special prices, once you are a member.
What is a Center. How is it different from a Lodge?
Some properties are designated as Centers, Theosophical Centres, due to their primary use as places for study retreats. They host members and friends for week(s) long Schools of the Wisdom or themed study weekends, Summer Schools and courses. Accommodation costs are kept to a mininum to ensure as many people as possible can avail themselves of these sessions.
A Lodge is a group of seekers who meet and study regularly to deepen their understanding of human life and the meaning of life in general in the light of Theosophy. A Lodge is the smallest administrative unit and must have at least seven members to become one. Those who see a value in what the society stands for may apply to become members of Lodges. These, although autonomous in how they operate, are always guided by the uniting priciples of Three Objects and the Freedom of Thought.