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Service to Humanity

Update on TOS February Board Meeting

TOS-USA - Sat, 04/28/2018 - 06:59
April 28, 2018

Our February board meeting was, as usual, very productive. As it is the month before the end of our fiscal year, the budget for the following year is discussed along with grant proposals and ideas for new national projects.

This year the TOS board has decided to provide grants to

  • The Golden Link College
  • The Lakota Waldorf School
  • The Native American Scholarship fund
  • The Olcott Educational Society’s Women’s Vocational Training
  • The TSA’s Education Department Prison Program
  • The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee
  • Safe Haven for Cats
  • Midwest Homeless Veterans Shelter

Money was also designated toward a refugee project. Efforts are being made to find one that is in sympathy with the principles of the TOS.

Two new board members Van Ly from the Houston Vietnamese Study Center and Peggy Heubel from the East Bay Lodge in Oakland California, were elected to the board. Rozi Ulichs, from the Washington DC lodge and Lloyd Standish from Costa Rica will be rolling off. Rozi will continue running our Animal Healing Network and participating in various projects as time permits.

We hope to have a photo of the new board in our next newsletter. 

Categories: Service to Humanity

Summer National Convention 2018

TOS-USA - Sat, 04/28/2018 - 06:54
April 28, 2018

This year the TOS and TSA will be sponsoring a half day of service as part of the Summer National Convention program. Participants will be able to choose from one of several different service projects: helping in the garden, preparing groceries at the nearby Humanitarian Service Project, packing items for Notes to a Friend that will be distributed to nearby homeless shelters, or participating in a world meditation. 

HPB stressed the need for Theosophy to be made practical. We hope that these small acts of kindness will inspire members to create service projects their lodges and study groups, thus making Theosophy practical in their own communities.

Categories: Service to Humanity

Sir Paul’s Campaign

TOS-USA - Sat, 04/28/2018 - 06:50
April 28, 2018

The TOS is always looking for interesting tidbits to pass on to readers. Here’s one from former Theosophical Society in America president Betty Bland.

In 2009, Sir Paul and his daughters Mary and Stella launched a non-profit campaign called Meat Free Monday ( The website provides a number of tasty vegetarian recipes and the facts behind the universal benefits of going meat free, even for a day.

In 2017, Sir Paul McCartney was interviewed by National Geographic about his work in helping save the planet. The interview is insightful and educational. And who knew that National Geographic was the inspiration for Lady Madonna?


Categories: Service to Humanity

For the Love of Life goes Online

TOS-USA - Sat, 04/28/2018 - 06:44
April 28, 2018

In an effort to cut down on printing and mailing costs and reduce our carbon footprint, the Theosophical Order of Service is creating an online version of its journal For the Love of Life. If you would like to continue receiving a copy of For the Love of Life in digital form, please send your email address to Hard copies of future issues will no longer be available.

Hard copies, however, of back issues still are available for free if anyone would like them for their lodge or study center and PDF versions of recent issues of the magazine, which can be printed out, are available on our website

Categories: Service to Humanity

Suffering and Fear

TOS-USA - Sat, 04/28/2018 - 06:34
April 28, 2018

One of the questions that arises in discussions with TOS workers is whether we fear the suffering that we encounter in our work. Despite our Theosophical background, we are human. And despite being human, we carry within us the animal instinct to protect ourselves for our survival. We respond to threats in different ways. We either confront it, run from it, or just stand there unable to move. Granted, unless we live in the wild, we no longer need to worry about being eaten by animals, but everyday our fight, flight or freeze response is activated depending on what we are facing: the boss we don’t like, the homeless person we pass every day, the crabby neighbor who never says hello, whatever it might be, we respond by either avoiding them, “dealing” with them apathetically or, if in a place of power, begrudgingly. When looked at simplistically, these are all a response to fear.

Fear is an interesting emotion. It often surfaces as anger, jealousy, the need to make fun of everything, or even a false sense of contentment where everything is “fine.” Perhaps we fear the suffering of others because it reminds us that we too have our own difficulties to bear. Or we may be afraid that we will be rejected if /when we lend a hand to another whose trials are worse than ours. Suffering often causes us to take things very personally. Whether we are the ones being helped due to a difficulty or the one helping another, the feeling is very personal. Suffering tells us that things are not right. Or that we have failed in some sense. But why? It is a question we need to ask ourselves because it is often what stops us from reaching out to those in need or asking for help.

At an event the other day, a fellow volunteer confessed that he sometimes got tongue-tied when he was with someone in distress or needing help. He volunteered because he wanted to help others, but his head got in the way. We discussed his discomfort a bit and then I said “Start with hello, how are you?” He laughed at the simplicity and asked “Are you serious?” I was because it is really that simple. We get very caught up in the situation surrounding a person instead of just seeing the person and really listening to them. We need to forget the story, drop our own story as well (that includes our fear), and just listen. We can never harm someone by giving them our full attention and listening to them.

When we help another person because we truly care about them and what they are going through, we cannot go wrong. Nor can we go wrong when we allow ourselves to be cared for and helped by another. In the process of caring for the giver and the receiver, there is a softness that happens, a vulnerability and an intimacy, that puts us in touch with something extraordinary where there is no fear. It is a moment of compassion.

A friend of mine sent me a quote from Venerable Bhante Sujatha that states “Compassion is rooted in love, refined through practice, and established through action.” This quote summarizes the work of the TOS. The more we put ourselves in uncomfortable situations to help another (or ask for help), the more we refine and strengthen our practice of compassion. Where there is compassion there is no fear and when there is no fear, suffering itself, whether our own or someone else’s, changes.   

Categories: Service to Humanity

Meet Our Latest Scholarship Recipient: Joanne Thompson

TOS-USA - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:43
February 20, 2018

My name is Joanne Thompson and I am in my last semester of the nursing program at the Oglala Lakota College. I am from a federally recognized Ojibway tribe, Pine Creek. I am one of 14 siblings and I come from a generation that lived by the old traditions. I will become the third person [in my family] to become a Registered Nurse, I have two sisters who became nurses in the 2004. Upon graduation, I plan to work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation as a nurse. Plus, I am looking forward to working the South Dakota Native Nurses Association to support health promotion awareness, and promote nursing education. I feel very fortunate to have the support of the faculty and students while studying to become an RN.

Categories: Service to Humanity

Kern Matching Grant

TOS-USA - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:34
February 20, 2018

In our October 2017 newsletter, we wrote about how the Kern Matching grant was started in 2008 to help the Golden Link School. Since the school’s inception, it has grown tremendously and now provides a college education to students who are financially disadvantaged. (Please see the article “Donate $20.00 or more to the Golden Link College. Here’s why.”)

As we all know, education is important. A good education should not be available only to those who can pay for it. But sadly, that is what happens in many parts of the world. Every child deserves a standard of education that prepares them to navigate and excel in the world today. However, character building and right action need to be taught as well so children can succeed through right means. At the same time, “success” should not be something external to a child, but what they feel within themselves. Self-confidence and self-esteem should also be provided to a child, so that what matters to them is not based on what society is telling them, but what they are telling themselves. This is a very tall order for an institution of education, but one that the Golden Link College has continued to meet. And this is why the TOS-US and other TOS groups around the world, along with individual donors continue to support the Golden Link College through the Kern Matching Grant program.

We are pleased to announce that we have met the goal of raising $19,500 for the 2017 matching grant and would like to thank all of you who donated. This year will mark the tenth year of this endeavor and we are truly grateful to those of you who have helped keep this project going. We are also very grateful to John Kern and the Kern Foundation for their commitment to the work of the TOS.

We have now started the process of collecting funds for GLC for 2018. To donate, click on “Donate” and select Golden Link College on the drop down menu at the bottom. We thank you in advance.

Categories: Service to Humanity

Spiritual Midwifery

TOS-USA - Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:32
February 20, 2018

During our last webinar on “What Inspires You?” (see our website under “Resources”), one of the participants asked how the TOS is different than any other service organization. It was a valid question. There are many service organizations in the world that help the homeless, advocate for animal rights and the environment and so on, what makes the TOS different? This led to a deeper discussion about why we do what do and what the significance of the TOS is in our lives. One participant said when she discovered the TOS, she found it helped her live the principles of theosophy that she was learning. This is what makes the TOS different.

The Order of Service is just a service organization like any other. What makes it different is Theosophy. It is the Theosophical Order of Service. Theosophy is not just the teachings that we read in The Voice of the Silence or The Secret Doctrine or even The Mahatma Letters. These are just words (beautiful as they are) on a page. In The Key to Theosophy HPB writes that Theosophy is altruism. In The Mahatma Letters, the Masters write that Theosophy must be practical. In other words, without the applicability of Theosophy, the writings mean nothing. They continue to be words on a page.

“Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun. Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer’s eye. But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain, nor ever brush it off, until the pain caused it is removed.”

These words from The Voice of the Silence, so often quoted, show that our work as members and supporters of the TOS have a task before us. It is only one example of the instructions we are given in the theosophical teachings. Otherwise, they remain poetic words on a page in a book we refer people to, without ever having tried to live what is written. Once we begin living the teachings in our own lives, we begin the process of spiritual midwifery. Meaning, we begin birthing a different way of living for ourselves and everything and everyone we come into contact with.

Kinship or brotherhood with other living beings on our precious Mother Earth is not just a fanciful term. It is an underlying fact of the unity of all life. We cannot survive without the help of other beings. It is absolutely impossible. Those who feel this are not thinking about the fact that the food they eat to survive comes from the earth. The earth itself is alive because of the sun’s heat and light. Life is symbiotic at many levels. This basic understanding is a fundamental principle in Theosophy and one, we as workers of the TOS, must live and teach to others through our work. The suffering of others is our own suffering.

An Order of Service also has its own significance. As brothers and sisters of the Theosophical movement, we must find a way to work in harmony with one another so our work and its vibration is of the highest quality. Often it is mentioned in many theosophical books to work together as fingers on one hand. The analogy is wonderful. Try working with just one finger! You won’t get a whole lot done, nor will you do it efficiently. Aside from that, you will find the hand becomes fatigued. The same thing happens when only a few people do the majority of the work in a group. The group, like the hand, loses vibrancy. Learning to work together as a unit, more work can be achieved and more needs met. We cannot help birth the spiritual lives of others, when we ourselves are not practicing brotherhood in our lodges and study groups.

Theosophy provides a beautiful explanation to the why’s of our existence. When we are with others unfamiliar with theosophy, do we hid the teachings that give meaning to our life or when given an opportunity, explain it? And do we explain it in our own words from our own experience, or do repeat lines from a pamphlet? Many of us are afraid to do so because of how we may be perceived. The founders of the TS gave little attention as to how they were perceived because they believed in the work they were doing. Do we? It does not mean that we need to start proselytizing Theosophy. But when comforting another, do we connect with the vibrant energy around us to provide calm healing? Are we comfortable mentioning the resilient spirit which lies within us all? There are ways to promote Theosophical service, in other words, theosophy, through our demeanor, our words, and our actions without ever having to get into a heavy conversation.

Our work in the TOS must connect to the Theosophical principles or, like the unlived teachings in a book, it will lack the power to bring unity to the divided, love to the fearful, and peace to the conflicted. Our work must take into consideration the realms of consciousness, seen and unseen. Not just of humans, but of all life. That is true Theosophy in action.

Categories: Service to Humanity

For the Love of Life Winter 2017-2018

TOS-USA - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 04:49
February 14, 2018
Categories: Service to Humanity
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