The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
February 2008 -- Vol. 10 Issue 12
Years ago at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or intellectually disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-meter dash. At the gun they all started out, not exactly in a dash, but with relish to run the race and to finish and win. All, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to cry. The other eight heard the boy cry. They slowed down and looked back. Then they all turned around and went back . . . every one of them.
One girl with Down's Syndrome bent down and kissed him and said, "This will make it better." Then all nine linked arms and walked together to the finish line. Everyone in the stadium stood, and the cheering went on for several minutes. People are still recounting the story to this day.
Why? Because deep down we know this one thing: What matters in life is more than winning for ourselves. What matters in this life is helping others win, even if it means slowing down and changing our course. "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle." – Author Unknown
I have always reacted most favorably to the old injunction, "put your heart into it." It makes no difference what the duty may be, we compromise and weaken ourselves if we do not give it our best. Tasks around the house or at the office are often of a petty routine nature and we may feel half-hearted in taking care of them. Most of these, however, would take only a little more time to be done right, and when we finish them in that spirit, we feel good inside. Katherine Tingley had some fine words on this subject: "Do well the smallest duty, and when the day is done, there will be no regrets, no time wasted. Then joy will come." I feel this inner joy is a sure indication that we are on the right track when we have done the best we can. – Robert Treat
The sculptor exemplifies the creativity of purifying, sifting, structuring and refining, resting in the unusual position wherein the acts of creation and of appreciation inconspicuously merge, so that every gesture of the sculptor is tending towards his conception of beauty and perfection. He adapts the human form to the divine purpose and at the same time disseminates divine ideas in a self-aware, but egoless, activity. Leonardo would often give up sculptures midway because he felt he could not do adequate justice to his notion of divine perfection. Equally, Michelangelo, whenever he saw a thick and uncarved block, felt that he perceived a spirit waiting to be released. The sculptor is in the unusual position both of rendering beauty and attenuating the redundant dross into a pure refined truth. By reducing the excesses of self, he is subjugating self in order to release it. One could relate this to the Taoist notion of the uncarved block, which respects the integrity of the block, whether individual or collective, but also apprehends the sympathy that flows from non-being so that, when a sculptor is cutting away at himself to come to a chaster whole, he is also indirectly contributing towards the creativity of society.
The sculptor obviously provides an important model for self-examination if you think of the way he must move around his object in order to see it from every angle and from every perspective. So, too, when we are engaging in the process of self-scrutiny, it is necessary not merely to consider ourselves in terms mental, physical, spiritual, rational, but also to have an empathic distanced grasp whereby we can see ourselves from the perspectives of other people and from each angle, and thus come to a rounded wholeness while cutting away that which is superfluous. The sculptor involves himself in a symmetrical flow whereby he is fragmenting in order to make whole, a process pregnant with important corollaries. Man is at the gateway between mortal and immortal, and the sculptor is poised on that threshold, trying to bridge the gap between a perceptible humanity and a dimly apprehended divinity. – Pico Iyer
Our next subject is "Overcoming Ourselves." We will be discussing such questions as: What is the value of self- conquest, and how can we achieve it? Is it a peaceful or violent process? Which aspects of ourselves should we strengthen and which should we transform? How can we effectively control our thoughts, feelings, and actions? Are we one “self,” dual, or formed of many aspects? Is there an eternal part of our being? What symbols have been used in different times and cultures for the process of inner growth? What changes in awareness and habits does human evolution involve? 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.
March 6: Meanings of Easter
April: The Magic and Mystery of Numbers
May: Facing Illness
By G. de Purucker
How shall we overcome a fault such as timidity? The way is by thinking thoughts of courage, visualizing pictures of courageous actions as done, also of the beauty of courage; visualizing these and similar things so that they picture themselves in our minds as thoughts and leave mental deposits, and in time instinctively we will act courageously from habit. Then follows the next step in consciousness: suddenly we will find ourselves courageous. We are timid, fearsome, because it is a habit. We have allowed timidity and fear to grow in us, and therefore we see things in a timid and fearsome way. When courage becomes habitual, timidity will of itself fall away, and we won't know when it falls. It is far easier than being timid and fearsome, and undergoing the suffering and shame that result.
But the trouble is that we don't visualize. We lack the creative spiritual imagination. I believe that no man or woman ever sins from deliberate choice. Sin or evil is so ugly, so repulsive, in some aspects so horrifying, that if we could visualize it clearly, and thus see it and its consequences, it would repel us and we would run from association with it. Nor do I believe that there is any "judgment" for sin. Who would do the judging? We are not fit to judge our fellows with quasi-infinitely correct vision. In one sense, the highest god in highest heaven is not fit for such a duty. There is no judgment in that sense; and, strictly speaking, I do not believe that there is any sin per se. There is simply warped judgment, ignorance, lack of vision, ethical ugliness, or moral obliquity. On the other hand, there is high aspiration, high thinking, moral beauty, inward splendor, the aspiration of the heart: all the noble qualities. Which of the two paths, therefore, do we choose?
Of course we must remember that all evildoing, or what is popularly called sin, actually is a violation of the fundamental law of nature which is harmony, a rupture of the coordinated relations of the universe; and the whole pressure of the universal forces instantly tends towards reestablishing that harmony. Consequently, while there is no judgment for sin or evildoing, there is all nature's power and weight against its continuance; and the restoring of harmony certainly brings suffering and pain to the one who has ruptured nature's harmony. This is what is meant, I suppose, when people speak of "judgment for sin." At the same time, and for exactly the same reasons, those who work in harmony with nature have a reward or recompense in the increased power and vision that come to them, for they are working with nature and for her, and all natural harmony is with them.
How can one gain the insight that enables one to perceive one's own weaknesses and shows one infallibly the best way to help others? The one way is by sympathy, love. It is the easiest thing in the world to follow the path of sympathy and love. In this connection let me draw your attention to a beautiful rule of action expressed by Lao-tzu, the great teacher of Taoism in China: Do not struggle; do not fight. Do not be strenuous. Be calm. Be easy. Be collected. Be courageous. Love, forgive, have sympathy. This mode of action will bring you understanding. Having understanding, you will see. You will then know how to help. Love is clairvoyant, and a part of love is sympathy. Hence sympathy is clairvoyant.
But be sure that it is not love. In the latter case the veils of personality begin to thicken before the inner eye, because personal desire collects and thickens into one's aura the surrounding psychic atmosphere, and condenses it, and this it is which causes the thickening of the psychic veils, obscuring the inner vision and understanding. Everything that has as its motivating cause the desire for personal benefits is not true love. The essence of true love is self-forgetfulness, and to this rule there are no exceptions. Love forgives all things, and the reason that it does so is because it sympathizes, it understands. Understanding brings insight. Love shows the way and lights the path.
~~~When wisdom has been profitless to me, philosophy barren, and the proverbs and phrases of those who have sought to give me consolation as dust and ashes in my mouth, the memory of that little, lovely, silent act of love has unsealed for me all the wells of pity: made the desert blossom like a rose, and brought me out of the bitterness of lonely exile into harmony with the wounded, broken, and great heart of the world. –– Oscar Wilde