As a Grain of Sand

By Don Wilder

After nearly fifty years of life, the thought has come to me, as no doubt to many others: what have I accomplished, what have I done worth while; is the world a better place because I have used and occupied a part of it? By far the greater number of people have a desire to be of help to humanity, or at least to their own family and circle of friends; but most of us feel ourselves to be so limited in talent and ability as to consider our endeavors hardly worthy of results.

Science tells us that there is a great magnetic field completely surrounding the earth, and this field is in a continual state of flux. Is it too difficult to conceive of a spiritual field also surrounding our planet -- using the term spiritual for the lack of anything more definitive or descriptive? There must be a storage place or reservoir of some kind for the higher aspirations, hopes, and desires, the unselfish thoughts, the sympathy and compassion of all mankind. Can anyone doubt the expenditure of energy in the compassionate concern for a loved one seriously ill, or in the self-denial and sacrifice of parents for their children? These things are a form of energy. If, as science also tells us, energy cannot be destroyed, then there must be some place for these energies, some state or condition in which they may be stored. Can we not call this a spiritual field?

There are few to whom it is given to be of great service and benefit to mankind. Yet it is recognized that a grain of sand dropped into the sea will eventually move every drop of water in that sea. We know that a pebble tossed into a lake will cause a ripple that will travel to the farthest shore of that lake. How then can we know the far-reaching effect of a single thought or deed? It can be so slight a thing as a smile in return for a frown, a gentle answer instead of an angry retort, a helping hand when trouble stalks, or a sympathetic ear for a friend in need. No, we do not need to be rich to pay our share of taxes, nor a saint to help the needs of humanity. I believe that every unselfish thought or act, every benevolent altruistic form of self-denial and self-control, adds to this reservoir of spiritual energy; nor does it make the slightest difference what the race, color, or creed of the person may be.

I further believe that those who qualify may draw upon this spiritual energy, and that the amount withdrawn is conditioned only by the spiritual desire and aspiration of those who tap this source; and that every person who has an unselfish desire for harmony among nations, that peace might result, contributes in a small but potent way to that end.

So let us not feel ineffectual that we cannot change maps, reform humanity, or make great discoveries. As the sea is composed of numberless drops of water and the shore is formed by a multitude of tiny grains of sand, so is our life made up of a vast number of successive moments of time. Each of these moments, within limits, is ours to do with as we please. Will it be a clear and crystal drop to add to the waters of our life; a clean and well formed grain to deposit on the shores of our consciousness?

This spiritual field is formed for the greatermost part by such as these. The important thing for you and me is not to save and hoard our energies for the supreme act of sacrifice or for the heroic deed of valor which hopefully we may do sometime in the hazy future; but to live our lives so that each moment of the present may, in degree at least, contribute to this spiritual reservoir or field. If all mankind could but in a small measure so live, mountains could be moved and seeming miracles come to pass.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 2004; copyright © 2004 Theosophical University Press)

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