The Light of Understanding

By Herbert Miller

It seems impossible to grasp the world's reality in the mind's net of words and concepts. We squint through our own personal peephole under the illusion that what we see is the whole world of life. What we see seduces the imagination, and in a vain attempt to appear smart, practical, we often impose a straitjacket on our natural thoughts and feelings. From out of our clouded perceptions we arrive at certain fixed assumptions; and yet what is an assumption but a trap to limit what we would try, narrowing the range of our experience?

Not only is man surrounded by symbols and signs outside himself, but even more mysterious and provocative are the vague stirrings deep within. We would be quit of the little prejudices that nibble at us, but are reluctant when our opinions and convictions are upset. The unexpected, the unfamiliar at our doorstep, may cause us to retreat into the safe kingdom of familiar concepts. Sooner or later, however, the restlessness and expectancy seemingly inborn in man goad us to continue our search for a touchstone. Thus we are often at civil war with ourselves. If we would only remember to be more still. If we only knew how close we are at times to the growing edge of the Infinite, how our courage would soar!

Somehow we feel an intuition that there is a grand and undefeated purpose expressing itself in all the tangled web of things. We stumble upon a truth -- that of forgetting ourselves, bending our efforts to understand and love others. There lies the key to our destiny. On every hand we are surrounded by lives being worked out in courage, and from them we learn that fate is not a blind, relentless force that forever obstructs the realization of human hopes. In every quarter we find living examples of fortitude and the will to overcome. Contemplating these unsung heroes who give dignity to the art of living, there seeps into our hearts the light of understanding. Above all, we discover we are not alone, for there is a tie that binds us one to another; and if we feel we are an island in the sea of life, it is because we do not understand.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)

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