Theosophical Order of Service
Photo by JJ Harrison; Licensing
Dear TOS Liaisons and TS Group Leaders,
The TOS Intention Experiment I proposed last month is taking shape, so this newsletter will feature the final details for those who would like to participate, though I'll be sending one more email just before we start the experiment.
Please RSVP if you haven't already, as part of my documentation will include the number of people participating. A quick reply to this email is enough--just to let me know you'll be participating, or a total count from your group.
Dates of participation: We will send our intentions daily from August 20, 2012, through and including August 26, 2012, at noon (or as close to noon as you can manage). If you're unable to do this at noon, do it whenever you can during your day, but include an intention that your efforts will carry the power and intensity of the noon hour. Studies have shown that "retroactive healing" meditation actually works (where meditators sent healing intentions to people who had been sick or injured many years ago), so we should be able to tap into the noon-hour power in a similar way.
Text of intention:
Linking mentally with other TS/TOS workers participating in this intention (you can envision us doing this together in a circle if that is helpful), say (aloud or mentally):
Om . . . Let us relax our physical bodies, quiet our emotions, still our minds, and harmonize our consciousness. Enclosing our group in a sphere of white light, let us center ourselves in that place within where we are whole and where we are one with all that lives.
Let us think of theosophical groups in cities around the country, seeing them as centers of light, radiating brilliant white light into their community for the benefit of all who seek the light of theosophy and for the highest good of all concerned.
Let us think of Olcott, the national center of the Theosophical Society in America, as a center of intensely brilliant white light, pouring out light that radiates like a powerful current through all the local TS centers and throughout the entire United States, serving as a beacon for all those who seek the light of wisdom. We intend that TSA's internet outreach such as online programs and classes, articles, and videos be a brilliant source of light, comfort and guidance for those who seek it.
We intend that those who seek the light of theosophy may find the Theosophical Society in America through Olcott or through a local group.
We give thanks that this is so. Om . . .
Please consider forwarding this to anyone who may enjoy it.
Kathy Gann, TOS Liaison Coordinator
TOS workers serve extraordinary hospice for the homeless
Rozi Ulics is a TOS Co-Liaison for the Washington DC Lodge, a long-standing group undergoing a beautiful renaissance. She is a newer member of TSA and had never heard of theosophy prior to attending her first meeting only three years ago.
Rozi shared how she found theosophy as well as some ideas about service, "I was doing my own study, heard reference to this mysterious organization (I now realize it was the TS), found the DC Lodge online and attended a lecture. It still feels like serendipity. Of course I was immediately hooked, not just because Theosophy validates some ideas I'd already had, but because I was so
I joined the TSA officially in 2010. There's so much to learn, which I love. Since then (in addition to being the TOS co-liaison since January 2012) I'm the Lodge VP, webmaster and give talks occasionally.
As far as service, my conviction is it has to start first with being the absolute healthiest person you can be. Then, even small acts of kindness can have the most profound effect. Besides getting some DC service projects off the ground, I personally support hospice, some other favorite charities, and foster cats for the SPCA."
Read the article below to learn about the extraordinary hospice that has captured the DC TOS group's heart.
Joseph's House: seeing God in everybody
The big gray house. Gwendolyn, a member of the Washington DC TS group, often wondered what went on in the big old gray house up the street from where she lived. It was "Joseph's House," a hospice caring for the dying homeless, and after taking a tour, Gwendolyn told her fellow TS members they just had to see this for themselves. So Rozi and the others went, wondering what they were walking into. For Rozi, as for most of us, "Death is an intimidating thing and when you throw in homelessness, it almost seems hopelessly overwhelming."
Hospice on steroids. Hospice provides support and care for persons in the last phases of an incurable disease so they may live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice sees the dying process as part of the normal process of living and focuses on enhancing the quality of remaining life. Joseph's House is an intentional community affiliated with a Christian church, but they also include Zen Buddhist practices in their daily routine to ensure that the residents get the most loving care possible, and also to prevent burnout and depletion among the staff and volunteers. "You really have to see it to believe it," Rozi says. The staff practices compassionate care "so that the act of service itself becomes a source of healing, both for the served and the server." Founder David Hilfiker explains, "Our hope is not to present God to anybody, but to SEE God in everybody."
|Rozi saw how precious each resident is to the staff, who make sure the residents' last days "are filled with all the compassion and dignity and love they didn't get on the streets. Then they memorialize them after they die so they are not forgotten." Joseph's House calls it "healing into death." Rozi calls it "hospice on steroids" and noticed that the healing doesn't stop with the residents. Staff members love to tell stories about the profound impact each resident has had on their lives.
|Love grows. Director Patty Wudel wrote, "I don't know what I thought love in a hospice for the homeless could look and sound and feel like long ago before I first encountered Joseph's House, but I can tell you that at Joseph's House it is gloriously different from anything I could have imagined!" Patty tells the story (one among so many) of James, a resident with end-stage lung cancer, and Brittney, a young volunteer. Patty says that James "knows he is dying, but he is not waiting to die. Every day James [an artist] opens his heart and mind and he attunes to the world around him. Others attune to James.
Over the six months or so that he has lived at Joseph's House, James has fallen in love. He fell in love with Brittney, a beautiful young lover of life if ever there was one – and she fell in love, gradually, with James. In her mind he went from being a suffering, grumpy old man whose life experiences had nothing in common with her own to being James, who she delights in. They have become each other's favorite. When James and Brittney are together the rest of us feel happy. We feel the love. For Brittney, this is surely God's love; so steady and generous and real."
|Magic is not a metaphor. Don't miss Patty Wudel's short video "The Blue Dress" where she tells about the magic that happened around midnight one Christmas Eve as she sat up late with Randi, a former singer with end-stage AIDS. Enjoying the stillness, twinkling lights, and Nat King Cole playing softly as everyone else slept, Randi made an unusual request--she asked to borrow Patty's special blue dress. Patty will never forget what happened next, and when you hear Patty tell the story, you'll know that "the magic of Christmas" is no mere metaphor.
Joseph's House has found new friends in the Washington DC TOS group. TOS workers have helped with fund raising, monetary contributions, and have donated specialized professional expertise. Rozi says, "There are just so many lessons they have for us about living intentionally and loving whole-heartedly. It applies to all of us."
"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
|What dying people talk about
Hospice chaplain Kerry Egan has found, through her years of experience talking to people who are dying, that very few of them are asking the "big" questions. They are not even, as the old joke suggested W.C. Fields was doing as he read the Bible on his deathbed, "looking for loopholes."
So what DO dying people talk to chaplains about? Probably the same thing everybody else talks about—their families. Kerry says, "They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally."
Years earlier, Kerry had a professor in divinity school who didn't think much of these family-oriented deathbed conversations. He thought that a chaplain with a respectable depth of spiritually would have dying people talking about the big topics--the meaning of life, God, and the like.
If Kerry could talk to that professor again today, she would explain that "people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is how we talk about God. That is how we talk about the meaning of our lives. That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence."
She refers to family as a "crucible of love" where we learn lessons of love and lessons of forgiveness. Read Kerry's memorable blog here.
|Practical help for caregivers NOW . . .
Do you know someone who is dying and you're not sure what to do or how to help? Long-time theosophist and hospice nurse Nelda Samarel has written a book called "Helping the Dying: A Guide for Families and Friends Assisting Those in Transition," and you can have it right now for free. Click here for a pdf download.
For e-book and Spanish versions, click here.
|Golden Link College: awakening the higher nature
|An idea whose time had come. What we know today as the Golden Link College had humble beginnings in 2002 as a preschool called the TOS Learning Center in Camarin, Caloocan City in the Philippines. In 2003, the school accepted elementary school pupils. Community members wanted more, so in 2005 the school opened its doors to secondary school students. 2006 saw the beginnings of the Golden Link Institute for Teacher Training to provide education for its own teachers as well as college students studying education. In 2009, approval was granted by the Commission on Higher Education to open two collegiate courses: Bachelor of Secondary Education (major in English, Mathematics or Physical Sciences) and Bachelor of Elementary Education (major in General Education or Preschool Education). As Victor Hugo said, "There is one thing stronger than all the world, and that is an idea whose time has come."
Leah Danzalan with nursery students
Playing during a break
Learning for the love of it. The educational approach of the Golden Link College is founded on a theosophical understanding of human nature. Every human being is composed of an external, personal nature (persona, or psyche) as well as an inner individuality that transcends personal conditioned preferences. The two must be integrated rather than in conflict. Thus education means the training of the personality while drawing out the inner nature of the student. In doing so, the educator must take care that the training of the personality does not produce habits or characteristics that eventually conflict with the student's inner individuality and values.
The school incorporates three pillars of education described by Vic Hao Chin, President of Golden Link College:
* Integrated understanding of life;
* Development of sound character; and
* Acquiring life skills.
At Golden Link, fear is conspicuously absent, and students help set the rules of the school. Love of learning, not competition, is the primary motivator of students.
The first Golden Link college grads!
History in the making
A perfect match. Thanks to a generous Matching Grant offered by the Kern Foundation, your gifts to the Golden Link College, if made through TOS-USA, will be matched by the Kern Foundation, up to a total of $18,000! If you or your group would like to help the Golden Link College, click here, then select "CEF: The Golden Link School (Manila, Philippines)" from the drop-down menu.
Sponsoring students for a year including books is easy, especially with the Kern Foundation's help:
$195 for a preschool child
$280 for an elementary school student
$360 for a high school student
$565 for a college student
"While constructing the Golden Link School, the thought has sometimes popped up in my mind that we are witnessing history in the making. We are writing our own history, not using paper and pencil but with the power of our love, which will last well beyond our lifetime."
--Rekha L. Nehar, Administrator of the Golden Link College
Theosophical Order of Service
"a union of those who love in the service of all that suffers"