by Erwin Bomas
From July 26 – 29 we gathered in Berlin for ITC 2018. It was the start of a new experiment. During the previous ITC in Philadelphia, we committed ourselves to organizing ‘working conferences’ elaborating ‘hot topics’, such as sources of suffering for many in this world. Coming together as Theosophists from all four corners of the globe, from different traditions and backgrounds, and combining our lives-long experience of study and practice, we were going to harness our geniuses to develop signposts for solutions that could be used to enter the arena*. And so we did.
The members and the Board of ITC came up with three hot topics around the central theme ‘What is a Life Worth Living?’: 1) religious intolerance, 2) end-of-life issues and 3) depression. To prepare ourselves, as we did in preceding years, the members collected relevant study material from HPB, her Teachers and writings from Theosophical authors belonging to the various streams that are in accordance with Theosophical principles.
Each day we focused on one of the three topics and formed study circles with a mix of the different traditions to maximize cross-pollination. In those circles we followed the process of going from universals to particulars and back to universals, so well described by Damodar:
“The student must first learn the general axioms. (…) What the student has first to do, is to comprehend these axioms and, by employing the deductive method, to proceed from universals to particulars. He has then to reason from the “known to the unknown,” and see if the inductive method of proceeding from particulars to universals supports those axioms.” (1)
Not surprisingly, the three fundamental propositions of The Secret Doctrine proved to be the perfect axioms for addressing each issue. At the end of the day, in a plenary meeting, we developed a mindmap together, consisting of the most important points that were being contributed by the study circles. Those mindmaps can be used as input for articles, lectures, presentations or other forms of public work and are now published on our website.
The conference in Berlin was a new step in the evolution of ITC. In 2010 ITC was organized for the first time outside the USA and went international with the conference in The Hague, the Netherlands. In 2014 we had a new milestone when the Naarden Declaration and, based on it, our purposes were formulated. We also started with a more interactive approach adding workshops to lectures. During ITC 2016 in Santa Barbara, USA, we continued the trend of increasing the interaction between participants by forming study circles. As stated before, when ITC 2017 took place in Philadelphia, the idea was born to organize working conferences around hot topics.
Among the participants were many returning visitors from past ITC’s who have become members, but we also welcomed new participants from England, Greece, Spain, the Netherlands and Ukraine. As always the atmosphere was great, truly brotherly. In between, during the breaks and the lovely vegetarian meals, we made new friends, met with old friends and could share a lot of ideas on how to carry on our shared Work. As one of the participants said: “we talk about cross-pollination, but there is nothing to cross.”
The experiment in Berlin showed to be very successful.
*) In the Maha Chohan letter we read that Theosophy must enter the arena: be made practical in the world we live in.
(1) Damodar and the pioneers of the theosophical movement. The Theosophical Publishing House, second printing 1978, p. 399