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Issue 25 – March 2013



·     The TOS honours Aman Amir

·     Bringing smiles to children’s faces in Nairobi

·     Insights through service

·     TOS news from around the world


     Dominican Republic



·     What’s new on the International TOS website?

·     A Charter for Compassion

·     The Elders: working for humanity

·     Is there a smarter way to combat hunger?

·     Murmuration: a natural wonder



Dear fellow-members of the TS and TOS around the world,

In 2013 we are looking forward to building on our achievements of the past years. In particular, we are excited about the opportunity for working with representatives from many of our groups at the international TOS Conference in July. Here, we will collectively share ideas, celebrate successes, and refine our plans for this decade as an international TOS community.

We are happy to let you know that with the last-minute help of many of you, we were able to qualify for the 2012 Kern Foundation matching grant of US$18,000 to support the Golden Link College in the Philippines. A big thank you!

Remember that the newsletter is designed to be read while you are connected to the internet.

Please also consider sending photographs of your TOS activities and news items that might be of interest to fellow TOS members. We would welcome your contributions by email to the editors at

With best wishes in putting theosophical principles into action,

Carolyn, Diana and Geoffrey


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The editorial team (L. to R.)

Diana Dunningham Chapotin is the International Secretary of the TOS

Geoffrey Harrod is the International TOS Webmaster and

Carolyn Harrod is the past National Coordinator of the TOS in Australia.



There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.

The Dalai Lama



The TOS honours Aman Amir

It is with sadness that we let you know of the passing to higher service on January 3 of the Hon. Treasurer of the TOS in Pakistan, Mr Aman Amir, in his 75th year.  Aman was closely associated with both the Theosophical Society and the Theosophical Order of Service for several decades.  His determination to keep both these institutions alive in Pakistan despite considerable difficulties was a testament to his belief in the universal values shared by all of us.  He served both these organisations in a voluntary capacity for a great many years and was deeply involved in their administration, both in Karachi and from Sydney, where he lived for the last several years.  We extend our deepest sympathy to his loving wife Fareeda and their daughters Zehra and Azra.   Read more…





Bringing smiles to children’s faces in Nairobi


On Saturday 22 December 2012 Christmas festivities had already begun – but not for many in Nairobi, especially the ones living in the impoverished, ill-reputed northern suburb of Gachie.  On this eve of the outdoor Christmas Party the TOS in Kenya had planned in cooperation with its fellow organisation, the Karuna Charitable Trust, the sky was overcast and the rain soon came down in buckets. The weather cast a few frowns on the faces of the organisers but when Sunday came the grey clouds dispersed. The sun made its appearance and warmed the hearts of our volunteers and of the 16 children who were looking forward to their party.  These are the children who come to read books, be read to, and taught reading by volunteers every second Saturday.

The party was to start at 11 a.m. but the children and Mary, their supervisor arrived well before that.   Read more…



Insights through service

Many TOS members have found that their service to others has brought with it a deeper understanding of themselves, of relationships and of the theosophical principles that inspire their service. In the fifth article in this series, TOS member, Olga Gostin of Adelaide, Australia, relates some of the different kinds of service in which she has engaged during her lifetime and reflects upon the motivation she perceives as having given rise to each – from simple self-interest to impersonal and even anonymous giving.

She writes, “Now in my seventies, I reflect with some amusement on my ongoing volunteering at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. I provide directions to visitors who come to the Information Centre. It may be as simple as showing where the nearest toilet or drinking fountain is, or as challenging as identifying the garden bed where a particular plant may be found. This is low-level volunteering, and several of my fellow volunteers have expressed frustration at our lack of status.  I think this concern touches at the very heart of the whole business of volunteering: it is not about self-preservation, the assuaging of guilt, benefits or self-promotion, social imperatives or bursting the ego bubble – though all of these may well have played a role at some time in one’s life.

In the end, I think, it is about being there, doing what needs to be done, and letting it go. I look forward to the day when an anonymous rug will land on my own knees, and I hope that I may yet be lucid enough to bless the multitude of fingers that contributed to that gift.”   Read more….


TOS news from around the world

In this issue you’ll find news from the TOS in France, about their project to knit teddies to comfort children and you’ll read about the TOS in The Dominican Republic that delivered medicine and toys to a foundation for children. There’s also news about an initiative of the TOS in Uruguay to raise awareness of healthy vegetarian food. Finally, the TOS in America shares news about three successful, on-going projects.   Read more….



Here we see victims of violence standing in two rows with candles to receive the Governor. These girls are not acceptable to their families because of the stigma attached to them. They are staying in a home for the destitute.


What’s new on the International TOS website?

Our Latest News this month provides links to the programs for both the international TOS Conference from 23 July to 26 July, 2013 and the Summer National Convention of the TS in America from 19 July to 23 July. You’ll also find links to the registration form.

The new Featured Article is by Pamela Zane Keys, editor of TheoSophia, the magazine of the Theosophical Society in New Zealand. This is her third article in a series sharing the personal transformation that can take place when a serious health challenge is faced with the aid of the perennial wisdom.

In our Featured Project we bring news of an exciting and challenging project initiated by the TOS in Bhubaneswar, “Change the mind-set to stop violence against women.” The project was recently launched by the Governor of the State of Odisha in India and had excellent media coverage.

You’ll also find additions to the TOS photo gallery and the expanded Inspiration section. We look forward to adding more new stories and videos over the coming year. Go to




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A Charter for Compassion

The Charter for Compassion is a document that transcends religious, ideological and national differences. Supported by leading thinkers from many traditions, the Charter activates the Golden Rule around the world.

The Charter for Compassion is a cooperative effort to restore not only compassionate thinking but, more importantly, compassionate action to the centre of religious, moral and political life. Compassion is the principled determination to put ourselves in the shoes of the other.

The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.

The International TOS is a signatory to the Charter which has been translated into more than 30 languages.   Read more and sign the Charter….




The Elders: working for humanity

The Elders are independent global leaders who offer their collective influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity.

An occasional newsletter is published: see the link labelled ‘Email signup’ at the top right corner of every page of the website.  The names of the eleven leaders associated with this initiative are:  Nelson Mandela (founder), Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Graça Machel, Fernando H. Cardoso, Martti Ahtisaari, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi and Gro Harlem Brundtland.   To learn more go to their website… 


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Is there a smarter way to combat hunger?

While billions of dollars are put into providing food aid in poor countries, minimal progress is being made in reducing world hunger. In a report released in October 2012 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, it was estimated that nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. Since 2007-2008, global progress in reducing hunger has slowed and levelled off. In Africa hunger has actually risen with the number of hungry growing from 175 million to 239 million.

Pedro Sanchez, of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, argues that changes also need to be made in the way that food aid is provided so that funding is shifted from providing grain produced in developed countries to funding agricultural development.   
Read more…




Murmuration: a natural wonder

Murmuration is a mystery of nature. No one knows why they do it, yet each fall, thousands of starlings dance in the twilight above England and Scotland. The birds gather in shape-shifting flocks called murmurations, having migrated in the millions from Russia and Scandinavia to escape winter's frigid bite. Scientists aren't sure how they do it, either. The starlings' murmurations are manifestations of swarm intelligence, which in different contexts is practised by schools of fish, swarms of bees and colonies of ants.

Even complex algorithmic models haven't yet explained the starlings' aerobatics, which rely on the tiny birds' quicksilver reaction time of under 100 milliseconds to avoid aerial collisions and predators in the giant flock. Despite their tour de force in the dusky sky, starlings have declined significantly in the UK in recent years, perhaps because of a decline in suitable nesting sites. The birds still roost in several of Britain's rural pastures, however, settling down to sleep (and chatter) after their evening ballet.

Two young ladies were out for a late afternoon canoe ride and fortunately one of them remembered to bring her video camera. What they saw was a wonderful murmuration display, caught in a short video. Watch the variation of colour and intensity of the patterns that the birds make in proximity to one other. And take a look at the girl in the bow of the canoe watching the aerial display.   View the video….


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