The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
January 2008 -- Vol. 10 Issue 11
The mystic is one who lives ever in the consciousness of his divinity. He senses intuitively the divine life in all things. He sees within the outer, which is fleeting and perishable, an inner which is imperishable and eternal. He in whom the soul is ever active, ever urging to compassionate thought and deed – he is the true mystic.
The path of the mystic is a secret path, in a sense, and a silent and wonderful path. Yet it is open to all, and is so simple and so near at hand that many who long to tread it yet turn away from it, thinking it to be something else.
The difficulty is that, in making his choice between duty and desire, the disciple has ever two roads before him. He can follow after the vanity of vanities, or seek the mystery of mysteries. The wrong way is miscalled the easy way. In reality it is the hard way. The path of self-conquest, if only we travel as we can and as we should – that is the easy way.
It is in the silence that we shall find the key, if we choose to search for it, that will open books of revelation in our natures. We shall find there a strength that has never been ours before and that never could be until we sought this path. We shall find there the peace that passeth understanding. It may not come in a moment, nor in accord with puny wishes and desires, but if the motive is unselfish, it will come.
When in the silence we become conscious of our own divine nature, we realize if only for a moment that we are different from what we seem. We begin to feel that we are gods; we begin to let the imagination pulse through our hearts, telling us of mighty things beyond ordinary comprehension, to feel something of our duty to humanity. This is discipline.
Discipline comes in many ways, but theosophy shows one how one, without help of book or creature, may yet find his own inner power, be no longer a mere potentiality. He will dig into the depths of his being that he may find wisdom. He will discover within himself a new quality of intuition and, at last, when touched by the "feel" of this diviner life, the power of self-discipline will come to him, and he can stand and say: I know!
You invoke in such an effort the magic power latent in the silences of life. False ideas are gradually eliminated under such a process, and true ones find their way in. Things once deemed necessary to the personal life become no longer so; and in thus moving out into a larger field of thought and aspiration you move towards self-adjustment.
In such thought you eliminate your weaknesses, and you learn also one great truth, a truth accentuated by the Nazarene: that you cannot serve two masters. You cannot move in opposite directions at one and the same time; you cannot ride two horses at once; and those who try it are certain to find themselves, sooner or later, arriving nowhere and more than likely trampled under the feet of both.
We have but to take the first step in the true spirit of brotherliness, and all other steps will follow in natural sequence. We have to be warriors and fight the old fight unceasingly, but leagued with us in this ancient fight are all the hosts of light. Behind us, back of all things, broods the eternal spirit of compassion. – Katherine Tingley
Kindness is a word with a cozy feel, related etymologically to being “kin” or family. It’s related in meaning to compassion, but that’s a heavier word that asks for more than I can usually deliver. It asks us to love unconditionally, and while I don’t come close to achieving this I’ve found that I can do one of the steps leading to it – I can be kind. This is not about following the Golden Rule. Truth to tell, I’ve never liked “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” as it can be a fairly selfish way to act. More to my liking is “do unto others as they would like.” To pay close attention to what others like or need, and help them in that way, is true kindness. There are no formulas to follow: we behave kindly to an orange tree differently than to a crying child or an angry policeman. We discover, in the moment, what’s called for and try to act from the highest part of our being. – Nancy Coker
Our next subject is "Where Is Our Path?" We will be discussing such questions as: How do we find direction in life? What is our purpose and goal? Where can we look for guidance? Is every person’s path unique or are its general features common to all? Is there one right path for us, or many possibilities? Do we have choice and free will in tread- ing our path or is its course fated, whether by karma or God? Do we progress during our lives, and does humanity as a whole advance? What is the “still, small path” that spiritual texts speak of? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
These subjects are currently being considered for the Monthly Discussion group. As always, those who have a particular topic they would like to have featured are encouraged to contact us.
February 21: Overcoming Ourselves
March: Meanings of Easter
April: The Magic and Mystery of Numbers
May: Facing Illness
By Sally Dougherty
How can we discover our path on this amazing journey through time and space? Perhaps we can start by thinking in different ways about who we are. In Chinese terms, we are among the “10,000 things” which come forth from the union of heaven and earth (or spirit and matter). As such, we partake of this primal duality, symbolized by the yin-yang symbol. But the underlying reality – whether we call it the Tao, That, God, the Infinite, Unknowable, or Nameless – remains beyond the pairs of opposites that mysteriously emerge from it. We can consider the road that leads toward realization of this ineffable principle either as the path to the heart of the universe or as the path to the core of our own being. This is because the inmost aspect of the Whole also forms the very heart of each of its parts.
Hinduism uses the metaphor of the universe flowing forth from the Divine as silk does from a spider weaving its web. In the same way, we could picture our inner being emanating ourselves and the world we experience. Along these lines the Aitareya Upanishad says: “We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson expresses a similar idea using a different analogy: "Everything divine shares the self-existence of Deity. All that you call the world is the shadow of that substance which you are, the perpetual creation of the powers of thought, of those that are dependent and of those that are independent of your will. . . . You think me the child of my circumstances: I make my circumstance. Let any thought or motive of mine be different from that they are, the difference will transform my whole condition and economy. I – this thought which is called I – is the mould into which the world is poured like melted wax. The mould is invisible, but the world betrays the shape of the mould. You call it the power of circumstance, but it is the power of me."
There is a natural quality and pace to our development, just as there is for a plant, river, or mountain. We begin life on the human path as infants. Who of us remembers our awareness as we learned to perceive the world as separate from us, to control our bodies, and to establish the many skills and habits that allow us to live successfully on earth? At some point we began to develop a sense of “I” or ego. In time we learned to picture our life to ourselves as a story of past, present, and future involving our ego as the main character, the star, who we are. Having our identity center on the temporal history of our ego is a learned response. We consider this type of awareness natural and normal, but it is only one of several types we might use as a default.
This highly developed sense of self affects our view of everything. Few of us see the world as it “really” is; our senses and awareness act as filters which determine what we perceive and how we interpret it. Most often the reality that exists in our minds is a reflection of our own consciousness, which we see mirrored everywhere we look. Much of our path is a process of freeing awareness from self-imposed limitations so it can participate in the reality around us more fully. But how can we find our way to this goal?
Teachings of Zen Master Linji provide an interesting perspective. This 9th-century Chinese teacher held that the enlightened person is someone with “nothing to do” and “nowhere to go.” We all tend to think too hard, plan too much, anticipate and fear. Much of the time we’re on autopilot, letting our habits and reflexes control our actions. How often our awareness settles into the past or future or into fantasies. Linji held that study, scholarship, teachings, programs and plans, debates, even reverence for past teachers, as well as all other types of intellectualism, only serve to reinforce the ego’s stranglehold on our life. Being enlightened involves transcending the ego and its roadblocks by living in a way that allows us to be fully present in each moment. The crucial point is to do it.Reality is ever present if we are open to it. Taoist masters warned about imposing distinctions, constructs, and values onto the chaos of the actual, then taking these projections for realities. Similarly, Linji urged us to break through the shell of unconscious egoism, with its past-present-future consciousness and the mental concerns it takes so seriously. In both cases the path involves doing “nothing” while coming closer to things as they are, rather than pushing them away with what we imagine or think they are.