OLD DIARY LEAVES, Sixth Series (1896-98)
by Henry Steel Olcott
REVISION OF T. S. RULES
THE next evening I presided at the Blavatsky Lodge where Mrs. Besant gave a superb lecture on “Evolution as Seen by Occultists”. There was a reception given at our headquarters on Friday; the 3rd (July), to delegates who had come to the Convention. The Convention met the next morning and everything passed off quietly, my Address being delivered and the Agenda being all disposed of. A tricky letter from the Judge party was handed in but, seeing that it was but a thinly-veiled repetition of the attempt to put us in a false position, I simply laid it upon the table. In the evening there was a public meeting at Queen’s Hall at which addresses were made by Messrs. Mead and Keightley, Mrs. Besant and myself. The Convention finished its business the next day, after suggesting certain revisions of the T.S. Rules. There was a garden-party at Headquarters on the afternoon of the 6th, and on the 8th I went with Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Faulding, whose guest I had now become, to a meeting of the
REVISION OF T.S. RULES 47
London Lodge, at Mr. Sinnett’s house, at which he lectured on the subject of “Alchemy,” showing us that there was a great deal more in the teachings and writings of the Alchemists than a mere search after the gold-making mystery. After the meeting he took us into his laboratory and showed us, in many cases for the first time, experiments with the Röntgen Rays.
A General Council meeting was held on the 9th at which the various suggestions from Sections, Branches, and individuals for a revision of the Society’s Rules were patiently examined and carefully considered in the light of their bearing on the peculiar circumstances of the whole Society. When several amendments touched the same clause, the various improvements were incorporated in the form finally adopted. Only one important recommendation was rejected—that of removing the President and Vice-President of the Society for cause shown. On mature consideration, and in view of the circumstances attending the Judge secession, it was decided that no Rule could be of use if such an emergency arose. If a majority, or even a strong minority, desired to dispossess one of these officers, while he retained the confidence of a large number of members, a split in the Society would result, let the Rule be what it might. It was therefore thought better to leave the Society free, under
48 OLD DIARY LEAVES
the powers vested in the General Council, to deal with any serious case if unfavorable circumstances should arise. At the meeting in question the following members were present, viz., the President, the Vice-President, the General Secretaries of the European and Indian Sections, Mr. C. W. Leadbeater, as proxy (under specific instructions) for the General Secretary of the Scandinavian Section, and Mrs. Besant as proxy for the General Secretary of the American Section. The Australasian Section’s views were represented in the official Report of the General Secretary, and the New Zealand Section had been so recently chartered that it had not had time to submit its wishes for the consideration of the General Council. In publishing, for the information of the members of the Society, the text of the revised Rules, in an Executive Notice of date, London, 9th July, 18961 I made the following explanatory remarks:
“The undersigned takes this opportunity of correcting the mistaken idea, which prevails in some
RULES OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
As Revised in General Council, July 9, 1896
1. The title of this Society, which was formed at New York, United States of America, on the 17th of November, 1875, is the “Theosophical Society”.
REVISION OF T.S. RULES 49
quarters, that the T.S. Rules and the wording of its “Declared Objects” are substantially what they
2. The objects of the Theosophical Society are:
I. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood
of Humanity, without distinction of race,
creed, sex, caste or colour.
II. To encourage study of comparative religion,
philosophy and science.
III. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and
the powers latent in man.
3. The Theosophical Society has no concern with politics, caste rules, and social observances. It is unsectarian, and demands no assent to any formula of belief as a qualification of membership.
4. Every application for membership must be made on an authorized form, and must be endorsed by two members of the Society and signed by the applicant; but no person under age shall be admitted without the consent of their guardians.
5. Admission to membership may be obtained through the President of a Branch, the General Secretary of a Section, or the Recording Secretary; and a certificate of membership shall be issued to the member, bearing the signature of the President-Founder and the seal of the Society, and countersigned by either the General Secretary of the Section or the Recording Secretary of the T.S., according as the applicant resides within a sectionalized or non-sectionalized territory.
6. The Society shall have a President, a Vice-President, a Recording Secretary, and a Treasurer.
7. The President-Founder, Colonel H. S. Olcott, holds the office of President of the Theosophical Society for life, and has the right of nominating his successor, subject to the ratification of the Society.
8. The term of the presidency is seven years (subject to the exception named in Rule 7).
9. The President shall nominate the Vice-President subject to election by the Society. The Vice-President’s term of office shall expire upon the election of a new President.
10. The appointments to the offices of the Recording Secretary and the Treasurer shall be vested in the President.
50 OLD DIARY LEAVES
have been from the commencement and therefore entitled to some special immunity from change. So
11. The President shall be the custodian of all the archives and records of the Society, and shall be one of the Trustees and administrators for property of all kinds, of which the Society as a whole is possessed.
12. The President shall have the power to make provisional appointments to fill all vacancies that occur in the offices of the Society, and shall have discretionary powers in all matters not specifically provided for in these Rules.
13. On the death or resignation of the President, the Vice-President shall perform the presidential duties until a successor takes office.
14. Any seven members may apply to be chartered as a Branch, the application to be forwarded to the President through the Secretary of the nearest Section.
15. The President shall have authority to grant or refuse applications for charters, which, if issued, must bear his signature and the seal of the Society, and be recorded at the Headquarters of the Society.
16. A Section may be formed by the President of the Society, upon the application of seven or more chartered Branches.
17. All Charters of Sections or Branches, and all certificates of membership, derive their authority from the President, and may be cancelled by the same authority.
18. Each Branch and Section shall have the power of making its own Rules, provided they do not conflict with the general rules of the Society, and the Rules shall become valid unless their confirmation be refused by the President.
19. Every Section must appoint a General Secretary who shall be the channel of communication between the President and the Section.
20. The General Secretary of each Section shall forward to the President, annually not later than the 1st day of November, a report of the work of his Section up to that date, and at any time furnish any further information the President may desire.
21. The General control and administration of the Society is vested in a General Council, consisting of the President, VicePresident and the General Secretaries.
REVISION OF T.S. RULES 51
far is this from true, that the objects have been re-stated and the Rules altered several times, as the
22. No person can hold two offices in the General Council.
ELECTION OF PRESIDENT
23. Six months before the expiration of a President’s term of office his successor shall be nominated by the General Council, and the nomination shall be sent out by the Vice-President to the General Secretaries and Recording Secretary. Each General Secretary shall take the votes of his Section according to its rules, and the Recording Secretary shall take those of the remaining members of the Society. A majority of two-thirds on the recorded votes shall be necessary for election.
24. The Headquarters of the Society are established at Adyar, Madras, India.
25. The Headquarters and all other property of the Society, including the Adyar Library, the permanent and other Funds, are vested in the Trustees, for the time being, of the Theosophical Society, appointed or acting under a Deed of Trust, dated the 14th day of December, 1892, and recorded in the Chingleput District Office, Madras, India.
26. The fees payable to the General Treasury by Branches not comprised within the limits of any Section are as follow: For Charter £1: for each certificate of Membership 5s.; for the Annual Subscription of each member, 5s.; or equivalents.
27. Unattached Members not belonging to any Section or Branch shall pay the usual 5s. Entrance Fee and an annual Subscription of £1 to the General Treasury.
28. Each Section shall pay into the General Treasury one-fourth of the total amount received by it from annual dues and entrance fees.
29. The Treasurer’s accounts shall be yearly certified as correct, by qualified auditors appointed by the President.
30. The Annual General Meeting of the Society shall be held at Adyar and Benares alternately, in the month of December.
52 OLD DIARY LEAVES
growth of the Society and its altered conditions rendered the same necessary. The version now adopted is, apparently, the best and most comprehensive that we have had for years, and in the expression of the Objects, the line traced out in the minds of the Founders is strictly followed. The form given to the second Object has been adopted to meet an almost general view that all religions, etc., deserve study, as being based on the same general principles. In this, in her Isis Unveiled Madame Blavatsky led the way, which is now traced out for all future students of Theosophy and sympathisers with our work.”
In practical working these Rules have proved to be good and no important modifications have been found necessary. In some minor matters the President-Founder has used the “discretionary powers in all matters not specifically provided for in these Rules,” and in a few instances the votes
31. The President sba1l also have the power to convene special meetings at discretion.
32. The Rules of the Society remain in force until amended by the General Council.
C. W. LEADBEATER.
Secretary to the Meeting of Council.
REVISION OF T.S. RULES 53
of members of Council have been taken through the medium of circulars sent around to them from Headquarters. This, however, is a very dilatory process, the time required for collecting the votes being ordinarily as much as six months, and even at the present writing all the General Secretaries have not yet voted upon some questions propounded by the General Secretary of the French Section a year ago.
The next few days were occupied with matters of minor importance, except that on the evening of the 9th, Swami Vivekananda lectured at the Blavatsky Lodge on the subject of “Bhakti,” and Mrs. Besant spoke at the same place on the evening of the 12th on “Karma”. It has always struck me as one of the most wonderful facts of our movement that the reading public of, we may say, the whole world, has been made acquainted with this profoundly important philosophical and ethical teaching. In my opinion it has done more to strengthen our movement and recommend it to thoughtful persons than anything else, for it is the enunciation of the grand truth that human experiences are the outcome of human actions, and that a law of universal and inflexible justice rules throughout the universe.