Compass Newsletter Spring 2011 No.13
“I would never let the least fear or despair come before me, but if I cannot see the road, nor the goal for the fog, I would simply sit down and wait : I would not allow the fog to make me think no road was there, and that I was not to pass it. The fogs must lift.”
– William Q. Judge
By Ingrid Van Mater
A simple inscription on a piece of old Chinese porcelain reads: “The flower opens, and lo! another year.” Reflecting on this in one of his journals, Thoreau writes: “How many times have the flowers opened and a new year begun . . . How old is spring, a phenomenon still so fresh!” How old indeed? Year after year we look forward to its arrival, for the impulse is deeply felt. From far past ages this season has been held sacred, for the transition from darkness and cold to the incoming tide of light and warmth and joy evokes a birth in us, a spiritual renewal.
When we consider the antiquity of our earth, and particularly of the civilizations that stretch further back than the mind dare contemplate, think of the countless springs that have been witnessed as the planet makes its yearly circling round the sun. Is it not amazing that always the same freshness, the same pristine quality, accompanies this season? What could this vibrant element be but the divine force that animates all things, the sovereignty of the spirit, without which there would be no life at all? This divine aspect draws everything into a harmonious whole and gives to each event and entity an equal place in the cosmos.
“The flower opens, and lo! another year” — does this not epitomize spring? It is all so familiar, such a common occurrence, yet cosmic in its impact. The flower is the crown of the plant’s growth, yet can we say that all this extravagant beauty is created merely to give life away in the bearing of seed ? We need but think how necessary flowers are to our well being, not only in practical ways, but to uplift and nourish the soul. What greater proof of divinity than these brave messengers from nature’s finer worlds, masterpieces of color, form, fragrance, and precision of design; simple in basic plan, yet infinite in variation. The marvel of flowers alone keeps alive one’s sense of wonder. Tennyson believed that if he could understand what a flower is, “root and all, and all in all,” he would know what God and man is.
Beyond springtime’s pageantry and the thrill of life reborn lies the thought of intelligent forces behind the scenes, causing the seasons in their ordered sequence to express the essence of what they are with unfailing consistency. Every time of year has its beauty, its mystery. Not only do the seasons have their counterpart in the human life cycle and in the cycle of each day, but the qualities they manifest are part of our own inner being. Youth and adolescence belong to spring; adulthood to the teeming life of summer; the mellow wisdom of the older years to the ripeness and maturity of autumn which, as the cycle leads to an indrawing of consciousness comparable to the trees’ withdrawal of sap in winter. In the day’s unfolding there is a close connection between dawn and spring, noon and summer, twilight and autumn, night and winter. Especially suggestive is the association between dawn and spring, for the birth of each day brings with it fresh opportunity to start anew. It is a time most mystical and peaceful when the light of early morning dispels the darkness.
Between man and nature is an eternal alliance. What we learn from close observation is that we have endless regions of spiritual wonder yet to be explored within ourselves. Untold grandeur is there — the dawns and twilights are in us, the vibrancy of spring, the glory of suns. Each time we respond to higher influences we are by so much awakening those depths within, for the vitalizing force of divinity is ever present, the promise of spring is eternal in the human heart. Each lifetime is like the opening of a flower.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2004; copyright © 2004 Theosophical University Press)
By Grace F. Knoche
When to the new eyes of thee
All things by immortal power,
Near or far,
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star; . . .
— Francis Thompson
Poets and bards of every age sing of our kinship of spirit, and we respond joyously. How strange that we allow intolerance and hate to mar our lives, more particularly when the whole of nature is a continuing reminder of our connectedness. As naturalist John Muir soon discovered, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”
People everywhere intuitively long for a complete turnaround in our civilization, with war seen for what it is: an outrage against the human spirit. Strange how difficult it is to achieve what surely the vast majority of the billions of human beings on our planet ardently long for — peace and a spontaneous, disciplined give-and-take — so that all together we might move consciously into a new era of respect for one another, where instead of wars and their disastrous consequences there will be thoughtful resolution of personal, national, and international crises. It’s time we consciously move out of the mental and psychological grooves made by centuries of distorted thinking, and recognize that periodic wars are not inevitable; more important, that all change in civic and world affairs must start with the individual. We cannot expect nations to act wisely and brotherly until all of us first take ourselves in hand, and vow with all the soul strength at our command to make the Golden Rule an ever-living presence in our deepest being so that it will be reflected in daily practice. We place our trust in the invincible power of the human spirit eventually to forge and sustain an honorable and durable peace among all nations and races. If this seems utopian, let it be so.
“Without a vision the people perish”; by the same token a vision such as the one above, held steadfastly, generates its own dynamism. Constancy to a noble and altruistic goal will indeed make all possible in time. During the last century the world has come a long way in fraternal recognition of the uniqueness of the spiritual, intellectual, artistic, and material gifts that each people and race contribute to the totality of human culture. We must at all costs keep alive the vision, while remaining aware that in personal as well as in global affairs no change for the better can be achieved by legislation or committee decision alone. There must first be a genuine change of heart, of mind, and of will in each of us, is a brother pilgrim, aspiring as we are to discern the true in the false and to follow the mystic “golden mean” between extremes.
Truly we are a brotherhood, linked by our common humanity. Our individual successes and failures exert a rippling effect on the whole of mankind. A sobering thought, to realize that in lives long past, in the present, and in the aeons to come, our individual and collective karmas have been, are, and will be linked. More to the point, we are bonded not only with one another but also with every kingdom of nature, with the celestial realms as well as with Gaia, our Mother Earth. Because we are at the core of our being one in essence, how the least of us thinks and acts leaves a tracing, faint or deeply etched, on every other human being, indeed on every life-atom in the cosmos. Every time we indulge in petty or unkind feelings we close ourselves off from our inner light and by so much cast a shadow on the lives of others; conversely, every glint of radiance from within us helps to illumine our surroundings.
Ever since we had a mind that could respond to the wonder of starlight and the beauty of love, we have encountered the light and the dark side of human nature. What is needed today is an expanded vision that reaches far into the past and into the future — a theosophic perspective that rejuvenates the spirit and gives renewed hope and courage to handle the daily karma. Assuredly, every life-spark throughout the cosmos is divinely born, each with its unique evolutionary potential. Let us hold fast to the knowledge that we are first and foremost stellar beings, imbodying as humans for a sublime purpose. A short poem by Emily Dickinson is wonderfully apt:
We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.
The heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the cubits warp
For fear to be a king.
Despite the menacing signs all around, I feel an immense hope for the future. It is as though an armageddon were in process before our eyes, between the altruistic urgings of the heart and the selfish demands of the personal nature, between the creative energies and the destructive, the spiritual and the psychic/material: an armageddon sparked into being by revolutionary ideas of universal brotherhood, of the oneness of all life, of divinity rather than matter as the kinetic agency behind evolution. These very ideas have now penetrated all strata of society, so that hundreds of thousands of all ages and backgrounds are pressing for their wider acceptance. While the forces of opposition are powerful, let us never forget that eventually the light triumphs because backed by nature’s forward evolutionary current. Regardless of the backlog of karma an individual, people, nation, or race may have stored up, the scales of karma are thoroughly just, and in that justice is profound compassion. Light and darkness, peace and strife — there is purpose in nature’s seeming duality of method and structure. Nothing happens, not even the most fearful calamity, but there is healing in its wake, though time may be needed for this to be recognized.
Our oneness in divinity with all other god-sparks fortifies our resolve to fulfill not only our individual dharma, but the larger dharma of which we partake by virtue of being an intrinsic part of the macro-universe. We come to realize that the weighty problems faced by millions over the globe are not theirs alone, but are ours as well. We have a signal part in helping to eradicate the causes of humanity’s heartache and hopefully, in time, to lessen appreciably the cruel suffering in our world. Gautama Buddha said: Let your love penetrate first to one quarter of the world, then to a second, a third, and to the fourth until it encompasses all beings everywhere. Millions of people do just this, without prompting — not as a formal rite, but as a spontaneous gift of the heart. The very outreach of concern lifts the thought-atmosphere of the globe, for love is healing; it regulates disturbed equilibrium and, when pure of selfish intent, goes far to dissolve those mental and emotional knots that are at the root of destructive tensions. So exquisite in design is nature’s economy that our selfless aspirations to ameliorate human sorrow pass both inward and outward simultaneously: inward to nourish our god-essence, and outward to sustain the efforts of all who have a genuine care for their fellow humans. Every loving thought and deed, offered spontaneously and without regard for self-benefit, adds potency to the creative energies that flow through and enliven the whole of nature, from cosmos, to sun, moon, earth, and every one of nature’s families of lives. Indeed, the karma of all is amazingly interwebbed: “The stars are beautiful, because of a flower that cannot be seen” (Saint-Exupéry).
Every shaft of light that pierces the gloom makes a trail, and sensitive hearts looking in its direction feel the call to follow the gleam. Our present and continuing challenge is to match our lives to our ideals, which demand that we consistently strive to choose the wiser rather than the easier course in small as well as large concerns. If this is our goal, then we are on the banks of the bodhisattvic stream of service. When discouragement rears its head and we tend to despair over the plight of our civilization, too often out of alignment with its splendid possibilities, we would do well to recall how long-suffering are the Patient Ones, our guardians and protectors who watch and wait, confident that one day we will wake up and consciously self-direct our lives. Then we will joyously work with the creative forces of our planet, taking heart in the knowledge that every god-spark is a micro-universe in process of becoming. Given time, experience, and the urge to grow, no power in heaven, earth, or the underworld will be able to hold back the awakening human spirit.
(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 2006; copyright © 2006 Theosophical University Press)
“One Touch of Nature makes the Whole World Kin”
– Shakespeare –
Spring approaches and, if we allow ourselves, we may feel that ‘something in the air’. The gentle but definite push of new life, a new energy. Nature teases out ‘new life’ encouraging participation in a new cycle of growth and every form of life is invited. If we open ourselves up we may hear its beat. feel its rhythm. How wonderful, how instructive it is, if we can take advantage of the opportunities. Waking from apparent winter dormancy we find ourselves in a special ‘Now’. There’s not much point looking backward to the happenings of the winter. It seems unproductive attempting to anticipate how the future summer will play out. So we are only left with ‘Now’. Did I say ‘only’ ? ‘Now’ is filled with unknown and perhaps limitless possibilities. That’s what Nature provides us. Of course we learn, or should learn, from the past and it would be unusual if we didn’t, at some time, project into the future, but in both these we have nothing definite to offer. It is only here and now that we can achieve anything and tuning into Natures rhythms will help us enormously as it recognises us as a part of herself. As we watch the beauty of a flower opening to the energy of new life we also can open up to that same impulse. Do we feel it? Can we hear it?
“Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.”
– The Voice of the Silence, p.14, H. P. Blavatsky
Bits and Bobs
Contributing to Compass
If you have anything you feel you would like to contribute for publication in Compass Newsletter or have any comments you wish to share please let us know. We would be interested to hear about your ideas and thoughts.
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“Everything you can imagine is real”
– Pablo Picaso
Newsletters received from Australia: “Theosophy Down Under”, “Impuls” from our Dutch colleagues and “Contact” from our colleagues in South Africa and “21st Century Path” from our American friends.
From Australia Andrew Rooke asks the very interesting question, “Why Can’t We Change?” Also we are introduced to “Applying Eternal Wisdom to the Problems of Daily Life” with insights from James Long.
Andrew Rooke also answers his question by reassuring us that “Yes – We Can Change” with some thoughts from G de Purucker.
“Impuls” discusses “Action and Inaction” with Ellen Vissen. “Show Your True Character: an outline of our real nature” is given by JikkeHoekstra and Reinout Spaink shares “A Lens in the Stream of Light”.
“Contact” addresses the current global events through articles “On The Shores of Darkness There is Light”. An Article by Scott Osterhage makes us aware of “The Universal Cyclic Hierarchy” included the interesting article “2012: End of The Mayan Great Cycle”. The American Newsletter presents us with the very interesting venture “Tending Adam’s Garden” and discusses “The Occult Path” among many other topics.
Copies of these Newsletters are available on request.
Dormit in Astris
We salute and bid farewell to a Theosophical stalwart. Stewart Wilson passed on to his reward in February 2011. Stewart along with Vi, his wife, organised meetings at Liverpool for many years until handing on responsibility in the late 1980’s allowing them to join their family on the Isle of Wight where they enjoyed many happy years. Our love and gratitude go with him.
Pat & Sandy Powell