Compass Newsletter Autumn 2015 No.30


Giving and Receiving by James A. Long
Creative Opportunities by James A. Long

Who could not be moved by recent events and events that have happened throughout the year, and before? So much pain, sorrow. Seemingly senseless acts and happenings that leave us reeling in our attempt to find reason in what appears a world out of control! The weight of news stories and images are sometimes overwhelming. And yet we need to, somehow, get beyond the immediacy of the almost instant reporting at times of truly horrifying events and remind ourselves that each one involved in the events have been brought to the point of event through a whole history of karmic strands that seem to defeat our deeper understanding. Sorrow, fear, anger, hatred are the first things that force themselves on us, creating a maelstrom within us. Should we allow these things to find a place in us? We can look to a comment from Mr. Judge which may help…”You will always find victory over evil thoughts most practicable if they are grappled with on first appearance and before making headway. It is for their reception and not for their appearance that one is responsible. A minister, once consulted on this topic, replied with an apt illustration: — “I cannot prevent the birds from flying over my head, but I can prevent their making nests in my hair.” There is very much in this.”… (Practical Occultism, Letter dated Feb 14th, 1888).

We understand that mankind is living through the period of Kali Yuga, the ‘iron’ or ‘black age’. This period of our evolution is the shortest but most challenging of all the periods of a particular period of evolution. Is there a connection? We (our Higher parts) understood that we are ‘up to the task’ to be involved in this period, for ‘Isvara’ knows what is best. We are affected by events but to what extent should we allow them to ‘make nests in our hair’. We are human and we have emotions! Theosophy need not be complicated and the complexities within ourselves exist also in others. By examining our complexities may lead to understanding those of others. Hopefully the articles following bring perspective enabling a clearer view.

Giving and Receiving

By James A. Long


Man is not a recent inhabitant of the globe: as a spark of the universal divine Intelligence he is infinitely old and infinitely wise, for who can measure the age or wisdom of Divinity? In terms of human development, we are still young; but just as the infant must learn to feed himself, so as maturing humans we are being challenged, by the force of evolution, to drop forever our outgrown habits and think for ourselves.

The wine of truth flows unceasingly from our higher selves through the vineyard of our
consciousness, while karma — the fruitage of all our past sowing — brings in season the grapes of joy and pain, of grief and laughter, from which we may distill each day’s draught of wisdom. Have we lost faith in ourselves, in our power to receive and to give? Our problems are largely self-made, created by mental and emotional doubts of our true stature. Until we learn to discard our worn-out thoughts of fear and self-doubt, we shall never feel the wine of the inner self warming and strengthening our lives.

No one of us sees himself as others do. We forget that seldom do we reveal our innate potential, but more often merely our idiosyncrasies. And when we regard another, do we remember that deep within the recesses of his consciousness there may be an understanding far mellower than ours, pressed from ages of suffering? For at the core of every human being who is struggling between the higher impulses and the lower, there is in truth a flaming god-essence sprung from the selfsame Divinity that brings a universe into birth. If we can remember this, we shall know that regardless of what another says or does, he has something of inestimable value that only he can share.

Why then is it so difficult for us to give expression to our inmost feeling? Trust begets trust; doubt begets doubt and more doubt. If we do not trust the current of Divinity that brought us here on earth, how can we hope to build the proper vessel to receive and to share the understanding that we have been slowly but surely distilling through the long cycles of our earth experience? When we are too immersed in the immediate importance of our own affairs, that in itself automatically acts as a barrier to the flow of spiritual force, not only from our higher selves but from those who are ever working to kindle and encourage the heroism in man.

Let us remember that all who would self-consciously aid their fellowmen, in whatever area of responsibility, are participants in the highest service function in the world. And as we recognise this and in true humility allow the spirit of selflessness to permeate our efforts to serve, to that degree will the circulation of aspiration flow from us to others. As the sun daily warms and nourishes our earth and brings life and light to all the peoples of the globe, so does nature in her beneficence provide for the exchange of spiritual vitality from one to another.

Surely there is a constant movement of life force from galaxy to atom, from sun to planet, from man to man, for all life is a partnership, a giving and a receiving throughout the ages-long drama of soul growth. “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, . . . For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

Action and reaction, cause and effect, giving and receiving: these are not separate functions in nature; they are one, for the true giver is the recipient of blessings untold, and the true receiver is the giver in full measure of his character value to others. Nothing happens but what it affects countless others besides the actor. Our highest duty, then, is to allow the natural circulation of aspiration to flow in and out untrammelled, reaching others as we give of ourselves, and touching us as we receive from them.

(Sunrise magazine, February/March 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)



…”The Past! What is it? Nothing. Gone! Dismiss it. You are the past of yourself. Therefore it concerns you not as such. It only concerns you as you now are. In you, as now you exist, lies all the past. So follow the Hindu maxim: “Regret nothing; never be sorry; and cut all doubts with the sword of spiritual knowledge.” Regret is productive only of error. I care not what I was, or what any one was. I only look for what I am each moment. For as each moment is and at once is not, it must follow that if we think of the past we forget the present, and while we forget, the moments fly by us, making more past. Then regret nothing, not even the greatest follies of your life, for they are gone, and you are to work in the present which is both past and future at once. So then, with that absolute knowledge that all your limitations are due to Karma, past or in this life, and with a firm reliance ever now upon Karma as the only judge, who will be good or bad as you make it yourself, you can stand anything that may happen and feel serene despite the occasional despondencies
which all feel, but which the light of Truth always dispels. This verse always settles  everything: –“In him who knows that all spiritual beings are the same in kind with the Supreme Being, what room can there be for delusion and what room for sorrow when he reflects upon the unity of spirit?”…

(Letters That Have Helped Me, letter 8)

Creative Opportunities

By James A. Long


We have all seen people get emotionally heated over the fact that nothing is being done about this, that and the other thing, and they would revolutionisethe world from the outside in, which is an impossibility in the first place, and push that fester — whatever it was that was troubling them — back inside, as you would heal a boil from the outside, only to have it come out later with interest compounded. That isn’t the way. We must deal with causes, not with effects. We are experiencing the ills of the body of humanity, and these ills must be cured from within.

Mankind is progressing beyond the idea of national borders, and it is our task as men and women to recognise not only our individual responsibility but our opportunity to exemplify that we are brothers, regardless of race, or nation, or colour. We cannot change the outer conditions overnight, nor in a decade, a quarter of a century, a century, nor even in a millennium, but we can head in that direction; and to the degree that we, as individuals, recogniseand work with and cling to that inner unity, to that degree will we influence the hearts and minds of those with whom we come in contact, without our having to say a word.

We must think of the world situation today in its true perspective. I myself cannot become all hot and bothered about this or that nation, race, or situation, because each is only one small aspect of the whole picture. We must think of all our brothers, everywhere, and observe the three fundamental forces operative in the universe: that which creates, that which preserves the status quo and that which destroys. We must view the situation, not by the words of the politicians, not by the words of the religionists, or the scientists or anybody, but by the unfoldment of their actions and their effect upon the world. Then we can see what is creative and for the benefit of all, and what is destructive and for the benefit of the few; what is heading humanity toward real progress, and what toward stagnation or destruction. That is the way I think we should look at it. We cannot possibly
consider one aspect without considering its relationship to all others.

Before going further I would like to make clear my concept of that law of retributive justice called karma, or the reaping of what is sowed. People sometimes speak of good karma; bad karma; pleasant or unpleasant karma. To me there is no such thing as good or bad karma. This law of justice brings a reaction to every action and thought that we have, and the results, the effects, are nothing more nor less than opportunity, pure and simple. The reaction, or the result of an action, once it finds itself in an effect, is dead. The only thing that can possibly give further life to it is our wrong reactions to that effect. We cannot tell the world the thoughts that we have, but we can exemplify our reactions to the circumstances in which we find ourselves. That is the key. Karma as opportunity gives everybody the same possibility of growth.

Why are we here, as individuals, or as the human race? We as individuals and we as a whole human race are here in this school of life to learn the lessons of life. The only teacher that any of us has is life, that’s all. There are no other teachers, really, in the sense I am speaking of: humanity must evolve through that which it has before it. The only way we can learn, the only way that we can possibly help the divinity that is within the heart of each one of us to unfold, is by allowing the qualities of our whole constitution to become more like that divine spark that is at the core of us; and the only way we can do that is by meeting with understanding the effects of former acts and thoughts. The only thing that will help us to understand them is to experience them, and when we experience them, if we are foolish enough to do nothing constructive about them, then by our reactions and our revulsion from the so-called unpleasant circumstances, we extend these experiences further and further until finally we wake up and realise that we are objecting to nothing
in this world but ourselves. Now I don’t consider that, as many do, a heavy load to bear. All we need do is to recognisethe fact and temper our reactions to the circumstances we find ourselves in, if we are to meet those circumstances with the right attitude. It makes no difference how much misery any individual in this lifetime is suffering, because as stated in the Christian axiom: God fits the burden to the shoulders.

Point out an individual or a group of individuals, or a nation, that has a heavy karmic load on its shoulder, and you will point out automatically a strong soul. The individual who is going through real hell, a real daily initiation, is a strong soul who has earned by the strength of his inner aspiration, the right to test the metal of himself to the core.

If we are self-consciously working on this job, don’t you see the marvellous opportunity we have to affect the hearts and minds of our fellowmen? We are not going to do it with billboards, headlines, or any words at all. We are going to do it by the very manner in which we react to the circumstances Life finds us in. Reacting creatively and with a will to correct past errors we will automatically impress upon the consciousness of those with whom we come in contact the quality of our reaction, and give them some inspiration, however little, to try to do likewise.

(From Sunrise magazine, October 1953; copyright © 1953 Theosophical University Press)

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