EN 37 DECEMBER 2015     Website Home


  • Official TOS Peace Meditation

  • Helping to feed the homeless in Raleigh, NC, USA

  • An interview with our youngest TOS member

  • TOS International focus on women’s empowerment extended

  • Reflections on being a woman

  • Are Animals Our Neighbors?

  • TOS news from around the world
    * Belgium
    * New Zealand
    * France

  • What's new on the International TOS website?

  • From the UN on Syrian refugees

  • Some New Year's resolutions

“It is not necessary to believe in God to be a good person. In a way, the traditional notion of God is outdated. One can be spiritual but not religious. It is not necessary to go to church and give money – for many, nature can be a church. Some of the best people in history did not believe in God, while some of the worst deeds were done in his name.” - Pope Francis, 2015

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

Year end is a time for reflection. Who are we? What have we done this year? Have we followed our mission and fulfilled our goals? What are our plans for the future? How best can we accomplish them? These are questions that fill our minds as the yearly cycle comes to an end, and the New Year begins. Let us celebrate our accomplishments and look forward with clear eyes, open minds and compassionate hearts as we enter the New Year.

Let’s keep in touch and continue to share our experiences. Please 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 nancy.tosinternational@gmail.com

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

With best wishes in putting theosophical principles into action,
Nancy, Geoffrey, Rozi, Morry and Vicki


The editorial team (L. to R.)

Nancy Secrest, International Secretary of the TOS
Geoffrey Harrod, International TOS Webmaster
Rozi Ulics, Assistant TOS Webmaster
Morry Secrest, 2nd Assistant TOS
Vicki Jerome, Proofreader Extraordinaire


ANNOUNCING A NEW TOS Guided Meditation for Peace

We Theosophists naturally want to help bring about global peace. We realise that peace starts within each one of us because we cannot send peace to the world if we ourselves are not peaceful. Meditation is therefore a helpful element of our daily spiritual practice. This meditation can be used as an act of service and compassion for others. Read more.

Assembling lunches:
Melissa Auten, David Bland, Kay Jean Wilson, Ron Banister, Ellen Michal, Betty Bland, Farley Bernholz, Paul Schlosser and his seven-year-old son Kirpal. Stephen Cassell, who was unable to attend, also assembled and contributed to bag lunches.

Helping to feed the homeless in Raleigh, NC, USA

On a rainy Saturday in March, members of the Research Triangle Study Center assembled and delivered 100 bag lunches to the homeless in downtown Raleigh, NC. The group gathered at the home of Betty and David Bland, where members made amply proportioned peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Then, using a somewhat modified (and just a little chaotic) assembly line approach, they added a large red apple, small bottle of water, pieces of candy or a protein bar, and napkins to fill up their previously decorated brown bags. The artistic bags were a big hit with the men and women who filled the community room near Moore Square in Raleigh, with each one picking their favorite design – from hearts and flowers to messages like "We love you!" and "You are special." Read more.

An Interview with Shreya Padhi, the youngest member of the TOS

Allow us to introduce Shreya Padhi, a lovely young girl called Sasha by her family and friends. Sasha attended the international TS convention at Adyar in Chennai, India in December 2014 with her grandparents Mr Dhirendra Nath Padhi and Dr Deepa Padhi, President of the TOS Odisha Region and the TOS Mahabharat Group. Sasha, whose bright smile is a service in itself, has the distinction of being the youngest member of the TOS. Enjoy this short interview with her.

TOS International extends its focus on Women’s Empowerment

In September 2013, the International TOS announced a two-year focus on Women’s Empowerment inviting TOS Groups around the world to join the cause. Many of our TOS Groups responded favourably and have been working accordingly. However, we have only to watch this message from the UN Women Executive Director to see that the work is far from complete.
The TOS International has decided to extend its focus on women’s empowerment for two years.

Our initial focus was triggered by efforts made by the TOS Mahabharat Group in India to stop violence against women in the Odisha Region. In the last two years TOS members there have used billboards, street plays, signature campaigns, published a journal and presented workshops on gender equality in schools and other educational institutions to address the root causes of violence against women. The TOS Odisha Region, under the leadership of Deepa Padhi, President, has now published a book, Yes, She Can. Watch this video to see the contributing authors. The book contains all of the articles from the journal plus many others on various aspects of gender violence and women’s empowerment written by men and women renowned in their fields. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be utilised for the welfare of distressed women and on women’s empowerment issues. Contact modbooks.bbrs@gmail.com for more information or to order.

Celebratory Affirmation by Usha Shah MBE, Convenor TOS Kenya

In her lovely prose poem Usha celebrates womanhood in all of its aspects. We loved it. We hope you do too.

I write the following on behalf of every woman in our world and in the spirit of sisterhood. I celebrate being a woman because as a mother I am the creator and nourisher of a human being. I am an unsung heroine – strong, selfless, giving voiceless and yet eloquent love, sharing the growing up of my children, being with them in their times of joy and sorrow and then brave in letting them spread their wings and fly to a wider horizon, leaving my little nest. Read more…

Are Animals Our Neighbors?

By Gracia Fay Ellwood

A new edition of the booklet Are Animals Our Neighbors?, written by Gracia Fay Ellwood and published by the TOS-USA, is now available free of charge in English to members around the world. An updated Spanish language edition is also in the works. Contact nancy@theoservice.org to order physical copies of the booklet. A pdf copy of the booklet can be downloaded and/or printed from the TOS-USA website.

In Are Animals Our Neighbors? the author uses an intelligent and sensitive approach to encourage a plant-based diet and lifestyle and decry the cruel treatment and slaughter of animals, especially those raised for food or food products. In summarising her booklet, the author points out that, “The booklet reflects on the basic principle of the major religions and ethical systems, summarized in 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' and 'Do unto others...' This principle is probably more often broken than observed." Read more here . . .

TOS news from around the world

In this issue you’ll find news about Belgium’s first year of TOS work, and you’ll read about the TOS in New Zealand and their creative idea for sponsorship of a student at Golden Link College. There are also a couple of bright and happy photos of TOS members in France celebrating the 90th birthday of their longest serving member, Madeleine Reymond, who has been active in the TOS for 40(!) years. Read more…

Like us on Facebook!
What’s new on the International TOS Website?

Find Us on Facebook!

Our Latest News TOS International has a Facebook Page! In today’s world social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow us to connect with a large group of people in a short period of time. Not only can we use them to make the TOS better known, and to share what we do with our TS friends, but also to share with all others in our circles of family and friends. Given the examples of videos that have ‘gone viral’, there are no other media that can make the world aware of the TOS as quickly as social media can. Social media are also the best and quickest way to connect with each other in the event that we need to mobilise a fund drive or other action following a natural disaster. And what better way is there to connect with youth? With all of this in mind, we set up a Facebook Page and have begun to send messages that we think are important to our friends. The first message that was sent, announcing the new page, got 221 likes as of the end of October.

If you have a Facebook presence – and I know many of you do as we are already Facebook friends – please find us and “like” us so that we can begin to develop a TOS network of friends.

Flying Fingers Knit 15,000 Teddies in the UK!

Seven years ago, Atma and Cynthia Trasi, Coordinator and Secretary of the TOS in the United Kingdom placed an article in the Telegraph & Argus, a newspaper in Bradford, England, asking for volunteer knitters to help make teddies. These little nine inch bears, complete with costumes, are knitted for a programme called ‘Teddies for Tragedies’, our Featured Project this quarter. Read more.

Featured Article - A lot has been written about Annie Besant’s fight against many forms of social injustice but how much is documented about the courage of TS members in combating racial segregation in Africa at around the same period? In our Featured Article, Bhupendra R. Vora writes about the influence of the Theosophical Society on world thought and its impact in Kenya in particular. Read more.

The UNHCR on Syrian Refugees:

“We are witnessing human suffering on an epic scale . . . Without massive support from the international community, it will be impossible to respond to this dramatic humanitarian situation in and around Syria.”
– António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Now, in 2015, there have been four full years of fighting in Syria, and according to the UNHCR almost 12 million people have fled their homes with the number expected to increase each month. We have all heard of the plight of Syrian refugees who are not being allowed access to other countries, and of the need for humanitarian aid in refugee camps and elsewhere. Some of our TOS Groups and members have already responded to this crisis. The following short video offers a thought-provoking perspective on the situation and may help each of us to develop our own view. Watch the video here.

We ask TOS members, who wish to and can do so legally and safely, to make their voices heard in the campaign to offer asylum to Syrian refugees, half of whom are children, and/or donate to the UN Refugee Agency toward humanitarian aid.

Some New Year’s Resolutions

In 1932, Annie Besant suggested a New Year’s resolution for that year. Her hand-written resolution is pictured to the left. It says: “I will try each day & all day long, to tune my nature into fuller harmony with that of the Divine Master who dwells in my heart.”

For this issue of our e-newsletter at the approach of the New Year, we sent this historical information to several TOS workers, inviting them to offer a New Year’s resolution for us all in 2016. Here is the result….

A big Chanukah Menorah in front of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

Children lighting a Chanukah Menorah (candelabrum) at home.

, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is celebrated for eight days beginning at sundown on December 7, 2015. An eight-day celebration, Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C.E. during the Maccabean revolt against oppressive Greek rulers. Jews celebrate the holiday by lighting a nine-branched candelabrum, commonly called a Menorah. The candle light must be seen and not used.

TOS Hungary Christmas 2014

A Nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.

(meaning Christ’s Mass) is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, observed most commonly on 25 December as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world, both Christian and non-Christian. Christmas is a National Holiday in many countries.

In India the Christmas Holiday is known as Bada Din (Big Day). Each state in the sub-continent celebrates in its own unique way. Instead of Christmas trees, lights are sometimes strewn on mango trees with candles or lighted lamps playing a part in the decoration and symbolism as well.

However you celebrate the Holidays, the TOS wishes you a very happy festive season and a splendid New Year of service to all living creatures.


This newsletter is a publication of the Theosophical Order of Service, “a union of those who love in the service of all that suffers.” Contact address: nancy.tosinternational@gmail.com.