On the Threshold of the 21st Century

By Wim Rinsma

Isn't it true that through education, habit, and rational thinking we pay too much attention to outer things? In religion we may look only at the dead letter of a text, thereby losing sight of its hidden meaning. Similarly, in judging the current state of the world, how easy it is, by looking only at outer circumstances, to see crime, deceit, and selfishness as reality instead of as an image of reality. The media in particular influence our thought-life greatly by continually selecting sensational and distressing news.

All this in a world with six billion people, of whom only a very small percentage has seriously lost its way. Therefore if we are not alert, we unconsciously overlook the large nameless majority who do their duty and are not involved in negative activities. With them rest the potential forces and eternal hope of the light side of world consciousness. These forces are nourished primarily by the essence of our thoughts and actions, living energies entering the thought-atmosphere which surrounds the earth like a memory bank. What energies we access from this reservoir depends on their similarity to our state of consciousness.

On the threshold of the 21st century we increasingly meet the sincere effort of numberless men and women to realize a more benign society. Indeed, the reincarnating egos of younger people play a very important part in this because of a more universal basis of thinking which rests on the idea that humanity is a brotherhood and unity. There is wider realization that the only intermediary between the individual and his inborn immortal spiritual self is his own soul. This development signifies a re-emerging call for more deeply felt individual responsibility and raises inspiring questions about our real origin, the secrets of nature, death, and rebirth, and the tide of an ascending cycle in motion.

World teachers of all times have referred to our power to bring out our latent spiritual possibilities by following the inner path toward the divine spark in the depths of our being. The secret is based on the well-tested method of sincere self-analysis: the wish, after having gone through some painful experiences, to try to conquer self in our day-to-day lives where our duty lies, and also to give a helping hand to others -- in short, altruism.

To keep this up requires a great deal of work, by trial and error. When we stumble, we reinforce our warning, evolving consciousness, the voice of experience in this and other lives. In his Dialogues, G. de Purucker says: "Conscience is the light of the inner god, and when that light is withdrawn, conscience ceases; and . . . there is no longer resident in the brain and heart of such an individual the consciousness of the laws of spiritual life" (2:111).

A little more than 2,000 years ago a world in spiritual distress was impregnated with the divine light of one of the great souls of history. It was the result of lives of sacrifice and struggle, the becoming-at-one of the immanent Christos or spiritual soul with the human constitution. Today this influence pervades a world which needs it as much as ever. One message was: "Greater works than these'' shall we do. Yes, we can have full trust in the future of mankind, and go on with courage and determination.

(From Sunrise magazine, December 1999/January 2000; copyright © 1999 Theosophical University Press)

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