A New Continent of Thought
- Published: 13 June 2010
Grace Knoche – USA
Everyone counts. Intuitively we know this, but do we grasp sufficiently the profound implications of this powerful truth? It is self-evident that thought and feeling move us to action, yet few of us are convinced that our private feelings and thoughts really do count in the totality of mankind. In this we err. It is no trifling matter that our merest emotion or thought affects to some degree not only our brothers of every kingdom, but also the universe. Truly, the magnetic interchange of responsibility and destiny among all living beings within the sun's domain is awesome: there is not a moment of our waking hours or during sleep (albeit in a different manner) when we do not exert some type of influence upon the auric atmosphere surrounding our globe in which the whole of humankind partakes.
How is this possible? In his first letter to A. O. Hume in 1880, KH wrote: "[E]very thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself—coalescing, we might term it—with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind's begetting, for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offspring of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, a current which reacts upon any sensitive or any nervous organization which comes in contact with it in proportion to its dynamic intensity. [Mahatma Letters, appendix 1, from The Combined Chronology, ed. Margaret Conger, p. 33]
We are indeed "continually peopling our current in space" with the sum total of what we are. With every passing moment we are sending forth thought or desire impulses which, uniting themselves with elemental energies as and when they will, have capacity to nurture or retard the soul. By virtue of the continuous circulation of life-atoms, what we think and do affects not only ourselves and our family and environment, but likewise every living being on our globe.
Moreover, our thoughts and emotions are automatically registered on the astral light that surrounds our globe as well as on our own astral substance. Since the astral light is both receiver and expeller (as well as recorder) of the thoughts and emotions of every human being who has ever lived, at certain times when there is an opening it discharges both its lower and higher emanations upon the mass consciousness of humanity. This means that what we are now will be leaving its mark upon countless lives yet unborn, for the reason that every thought, emotion, and aspiration impressed on the earth's astral light in time reflects itself back upon ourselves and on others. What one is, therefore, is vastly important.
The present thinning of demarcation between the astral and physical is proving of mixed value, and much depends on what we choose to identify with. At present, the astral light appears to be disgorging more than usual of its basest content; on the other hand, a greater number of persons are becoming responsive to energies from higher levels and, at times, receiving ideas and inspirations of sufficient worth to change many lives for the better. All the more reason to maintain a balanced outlook and not give way to feelings of hopelessness—either about ourselves or about the future of humanity. The debilitating influence such moods have on us infects the vital circulations of thought-energies through our planet. Too much is at stake for any of us wantonly to add negative thinking to the world karma.
Those subject to recurring depression are notably more sensitive than others to the cyclic highs and lows in nature and may oscillate rather violently between exaltation and despair. It is possible, indeed mandatory, to temper our reactions and focus attention on the golden midpoint between extremes. Every sage and rishi before and after Gautama Buddha knew and observed the ancient rule: when "unworthy images" fill the mind, instantly induce "worthy images." Then, with hatred, ill will, and selfish desire conquered, the "inner heart is made firm, tranquil, unified, and strong" [Majjhima Nikaya, quoted in Fountain-Source of Occultism, by G. de Purucker, p. 35]. Katherine Tingley understood this well; she knew the power of visualization and urged her students, when gloom or despondency crept in, immediately to conjure up their opposites and thus initiate a new quality of energy. The influence of this new thought-current would in time prevail, and the student would feel a new sense of purpose, a new joy in his duties. In her book The Gods Await [124-5] she quotes a remarkable statement by her teacher: "You know, the atoms of the human body become weighed down as a rule with the burdens of the mind—the irrelevant ideas, the preoccupations and anxieties. They go through series of changes momently, affected by the thoughts of the brain-mind. The lack of trust, the lack of inspiration that people suffer from—the hopelessness—bring these atoms down halfway to death. But they can be quickened to a kind of immortality by the fire of the divine life and attuned into universal harmony."
If at times it seems impossible to lift our consciousness out of the pit to the sunlight within, we can do the next best thing: give to the duty at hand the fullness of our attention. Before long the atoms that we had weighed down "half way to death" will have been transformed into the light-atoms of self-forgetfulness and generosity of feeling. We will have charged with light, and lightness, the full complement of our atoms, physical, mental, and spiritual. More importantly, such a private transmutation of attitude is global in its beneficent effect, radiating far beyond our limited circle of influence and giving hope and renewed stimulus to others.
The thought is enough to give binding assurance that every staunch effort to stand for the true does count and, when selflessly maintained, its potency for good is magnified beyond reckoning. I wonder if we realize how greatly we strengthen others by quiet, consistent response to the noblest within us; and, contrariwise, how potently we affect for ill those in the grip of fear or weakness when we indulge in unworthy thought or behavior.
Through the ages teachers and saviors have come among us and imparted the same challenging truth: that we cannot eradicate the selfishness and greed that are choking the soul of mankind unless we each root them out in our own character. Clearly this is not readily done, but just the fact that it may take an entire lifetime or many lives to achieve, is no reason not to begin. Among the Gnostic documents found in Nag Hammadi, one of the Sayings attributed to Jesus is relevant: "Whoever has ears let him hear. Within a man of light there is light and he lights the whole world (kosmos). When he does not shine, there is darkness" [Gospel according to Thomas, 24].
The determination to follow the mystic path of compassion opens a channel between the personal nature and the intuitive, higher self, and because of this the responsibility to oneself and all others is a hundredfold increased. Every time we indulge in petty or unkind feelings we close ourselves off from our inner light and thereby cast a shadow on the lives of others; conversely, every glint of radiance from the buddhi within helps by so much to illumine our surroundings.
When we see on television pictures of the terrible conditions that exist around the world, millions of ill and starving children for instance, it goes to the core of our being. Whoever of us is able to help relieve the distress and the hunger and pain should certainly do all that is possible—"Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin." (The Voice of the Silence, "The Two Paths," p. 31) But in our longing to feed the starving in faraway places, let us not forget our family at home or the needy in our neighborhood. Our responsibility is to fulfill our dharma, our inner duty where it lies.
Though we all long for the day when the desperate conditions of millions of our fellow humans will be relieved, we can be certain that when the dominant quality of a life is attuned to the heart cry of all others, this has a sustained beneficial effect on the group karma. Seeds sown in good soil germinate, take root and, in the course of time, flourish in season. So, too, thought and aspiration born of selfless yearning to ease the sorrow of man result in deeds, if not through ourselves, then through others karmically favored to bring to fruition what we had envisioned.
The work of healing and of compassion must be accomplished on the ideative plane first, if it is to have lasting effect on the physical plane. We must labor in the vineyard of minds and hearts and center our energies on rooting out the inner causes of the wretched conditions on our globe. While many of us may not be able to do much in a practical way to better the material conditions, there isn't one person who cannot contribute to the unselfishness in the world, who cannot strengthen the light forces.
When we are overburdened by the enormity of suffering endured by so many, we can circle the globe in consciousness and take note of the heroic labors of individuals and groups engaged in active philanthropic efforts to bring relief and restoration of hope. Not only is the exercise beneficial to our own state of mind but, more importantly, we lend force along inner lines to their altruistic endeavors. We cannot be grateful enough to those who, at great personal sacrifice and often at risk of their lives, undertake this saving work.
Light points are shining in different places, foci of compassionate helpers working in the world. They may not blazon forth their names or their accomplishments, but they are steadfastly at their post, which is more an inner than an outer post. We have spoken of the network of individuals that has existed ever since our self-conscious mind was quickened ages ago. This fraternity of illumined individuals labors in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive human hearts. What we see is but the tip of an immense spiritual effort which has been in existence for many millions of years, and prior to that in previous world cycles. That network still exists, and the realization of a universal fraternity, hand in hand with the spiritual enlightenment of humanity, remains the "aspiration of the true adept." "And we will go on in that periodical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice . . . will be found to prevail" [The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pp. 17, 51].
Today we are witnessing a revivification of the ancient dream of the onehood of all lives among a cross section of individuals committed to making it a fact in human relationships. There is indeed generated a power, a dynamic energy, wherever individuals of dedication are aspiring, even momentarily, in synchrony with the heart of Being. No one of us singly may be of particular significance, spiritually or otherwise; but collectively, each person contributing spontaneously of his unique quality of soul essence to uplifting mankind—who is to say what unpredictable and potent effect this might not have on inner lines? Jesus but repeated the ancient law: "where two or three are gathered together in my name, . . ." Spiritual teachings have power to elevate human beings; and whereas noble ideals in the thought-atmosphere have potency in themselves, when they are undergirded by individuals living those ideals, a certain magic can occur.
To think that our civilization is fated to continue its selfish and destructive habits is to prostitute precious thought power to negative ends. Conversely, to see ourselves as we truly are is to make a total change in our perspective: we are not separate, warring personalities but offspring of the cosmos, divine beings currently passing through the human phase for the sake of broadening and enriching our experience. While no one person can achieve single-handedly the miracle of world regeneration, millions of personal victories over self can have a miraculous effect.
Suppose that an increasing number of altruistically-minded people were to direct their aspirations toward high thinking and unselfish deeds, inevitably sufficient power would be generated to effect a spontaneous transmutation of humanity's life-patterns—from narrow egocentricity to largeness of compassion.
What the karma of the world will be is not ours to know; but if we simply and wholly offer our best, impersonally, we will be building bridges leading to that "new continent of thought" of which the Master speaks.
From To Light a Thousand Lamps, by Grace F. Knoche (Pasadena, CA: Theosophical University Press, 2001).
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