The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
October 1999 Vol. 2 Issue 8
There is no finer joy than to live for others, to put our own selfish tendencies away. It is the highest form of yoga to endeavor to focus one's attention towards another, to give our devotion to others as if to God - for does not God lie within all?
It takes an inner hand to gently guide our attention out to others, to all the lives around us, great and small: the plants that need watering, the spider that's trapped indoors, the dog that needs to play, the child who speaks, the husband or wife who needs companionship, the neighbor fussing with his mower or building a new fence, or a grandparent who needs a helping hand. All of these are wonderful moments in which to draw ourselves out and make life a little better for those around us.
Self-centeredness and self-absorption is a hard nut to crack. But with fortitude, it can be done. And once the sweet meat is tasted, there is the dawning of a new age for the inner man. He sees the fruitlessness of all his past toils to acquire things. He knows the worthlessness of striving for self. Happiness has been discovered to lie elsewhere, in the happiness of his brother. - Doreen Melbrod
Some years ago I was called to the bedside of an old man expected to live but a few days. We talked together for quite a while, my friend seeming to find relief in discussing thoughts that apparently had been much on his mind during his illness.
"I have been a visitor on this earth for more than eighty years," he said, "and looking back over that time I find one thing very clear: I may have done some good, but on the whole my life seems to have been one of neglected opportunities. I've been selfish, of a passionate and stub-born nature, and my thoughts and acts have been mostly centered around myself. I've done very little to conquer these weaknesses, and now when it is too late to change, I see my life as a failure. Whatever balance of good is transferred from one life to another will, in my case, be very meager."
Somehow I felt that despite his despair, his dying thoughts of recognition would go a long way toward getting him started right that next time in which he so firmly believed.
It is quite easy to see that faults of character have an effect on the inner as well as the outer man, holding back real growth if they are not weeded out. Such traits as vanity, anger, jealousy, fear - all have their origin in our selfish lower nature, and grow there like weeds if we do nothing to check them. Why do we allow them to stay there year after year doing their destructive work and choking out our higher aspirations?
For years I have believed that man has a Spiritual Companion, a Divinity, a Knower, who is ever waiting and ever ready to help, if we will do our part by earnestly trying to take our character in hand, endeavoring to purify it. By making our hearts beat more for others than for ourselves, we gain something that will never leave us: the conscious-ness of our Inner Divine Self. Every one of us is free to choose between good and evil - every moment of our lives. If we have sown seeds of selfishness, it is never too late to change. For as we sow, we shall reap, and the choice is ours.
The old man I visited had several opportunities during his life to change his character, but he had made little use of them. Only in the harvest-time did he have the courage to analyze himself - his acts, his motives - comparing the wrong things in his life with the right ones. These words then came home to me as never before:
Desire to sow no seed for your own harvesting; desire only to sow that seed the fruit of which shall feed the world. You are a part of the world; in giving it food you feed yourself.
If our efforts are continual, if no failure discourages us, with trust in the Law, we shall be harvesters of success - not for our ordinary acquisitive selves, but for that Spiritual Companion who is ever seeking to lead men to the Light. - W. Fekken
This month our subject is "Consciosness: The Ultimate Mystery." We will be discussing such questions as: What is consciousness? What are its essential characteristics? How do theosophy and modern psychology compare? How can we discover more about our consciousness, and in what ways can and should we develop it? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
November 18: What Are the Seven Jewels of Wisdom?
December: The Sacred Seasons of the Year
Our planet earth is a member of our solar system. Our solar system is a member of the galactic universe formed of many solar systems. Our whole galaxy, all included within the far-flung zone of the Milky Way, is one molecule in the physical body of an entity whom we cannot cognize or recognize or understand because of its immense spatial magnitude. Our little earth is an electron in an atom which is our solar system. We human beings live on this electron. Our galaxy is filled with hierarchies of conscious, quasi-conscious, self-conscious, spiritually conscious, and divinely conscious beings - gods, men, atoms, in the esoteric sense. Yet these beings who in their higher reaches live and think divine thoughts, gods, have their habitat in a molecule in the physical body of an entity whose mere physical shape is so immense, spatially speaking, that we cannot even see it. We simply see the solar systems of the galaxy by which we are surrounded.
Now turn the telescope around, the old-fashioned kind, and look through the big end, in other words, reverse the picture. Our bodies are formed of cells composed of molecules, builded of atoms, in their turn constructed of electrons. Who can say on how many of the electrons of any one physical body may not be living beings thinking divine or human thoughts, seeing a universe surrounding them as we see the universe surrounding us? Their universe is a single organ of our body, and their galaxy is a single molecule of a cell of that organ. This is consciousness, atman, not name and form or nama-rupa.
Let us follow consciousness rather than bodies and forms. These latter are suggestive, but discard the form and name and retain the thought. Indeed, I will go farther. For all anyone can say, there may be vast hierarchies of gods living in some molecule forming a part of a cell of a single organ of somebody's house cat, absurd as it sounds, or of a sparrow building its nest under the eaves.
Think of the wonder of the universe in which we live. Now that sparrow may be killed, and its dead body cast into the flames, and its molecules and its atoms dissipated into the air, into the water, into the earth. But that does not affect in any wise these infinitesimal beings. They are perfectly safe.
Now then, transfer your thought to us and our galaxy. A catastrophe of unimaginable immensity might happen to this galactic cosmic being. We might not know anything about it, or little of it. The solar systems, the atoms of the galaxy, would probably simply begin peregrinating as do the life-atoms which enter and leave our human bodies at every instant of time, these life-atoms carrying their burden of armies of beings. I repeat, we must free our minds from the magic, from the maya, of names and forms, nama-rupa, the greatest delusion of consciousness, and try to understand consciousness per se. You can only under-stand consciousness by stilling consciousness, not by thinking names and thoughts but by entering into consciousness, being it. For instance, you cannot under-stand life if you merely think of it as a name or as a shape. You have got to be alive to feel life, to be in it, to be of it, to be life before you can even grasp what it means. The same with consciousness in even larger degree. Consciousness has no magnitude. It will fill space, it will fill an atom, and things incomparably smaller than one of our chemical atoms. It is dimensionless, because it has no shape, no form, no rupa. It belongs to the arupa world. We now see the meaning of this term arupa, formless. All entities have forms, but if we want to understand them we must leave the rupas or forms of our universe, and enter into the arupa or formless which is pure consciousness. Then our minds can contact the consciousness of these other beings. We can begin to realize, to understand, to feel, inwardly to see what is, because we coalesce in our consciousness with these other consciousnesses. It is a wonderful thought this, that an entity may exist in the infinitesimal, thinking divine thoughts, itself composed of atoms and electrons on a still more infinitesimally infinitesimal scale. It lends dignity to us. We respect the universe around us. We respect our own bodies. We treat not only ourselves, but we treat others with reverence. Wonderful mystery.