Dealing with Our Emotions – A Case in Practical Theosophy
Abraham Oron – Israel
Theosophy as the Divine Wisdom is very much alive in our world. The Divine Wisdom is the life force and intelligence which sustain the world. However, the teachings of Theosophy are not alive in most human hearts and minds.
Why is it that such a wonderful holistic philosophy of life, such a profound wisdom as we find in Theosophy, does not attract spiritual seekers worldwide? Why is the Theosophical Society not widely known as one of the leading spiritual movements of the world?
About 25 years ago we started introductory courses in Theosophy in Israel. The four first lessons were: What is Theosophy, The Plan, Man and his Bodies, Life after Death.
It took us about five years to understand that it is inappropriate to start with subjects which are too abstract and too removed from the everyday experience of the average newcomer to Theosophy.
Life was much easier for the facilitators of the introductory courses when we changed the first three lessons to the following: The Art of Serenity, Concentration and Focusing, Meditation and Inner Listening.
In these three lessons in which participants with restless minds learned how to calm down and had some intervals of peace and serenity, we laid the foundation for the whole introductory course. After that the fourth lesson about the power of thought and the fifth about the planes of Nature and man's bodies were more easily accepted. The first three lessons created trust between the facilitator and the students and gave the students some practical tools to improve the quality of their lives.
If Theosophy is to become a living force in the lives of men, we, the members of the TS, who were trusted with the mission of illuminating more and more minds with the Truth and the Light of Theosophy, have to be more creative in finding ways and means to reach out to the masses who are not highly philosophical, those of whom The Voice of Silence says:
"seek out him who knows still less than thou; who in his wretched desolation sits starving for the bread of Wisdom and the bread which feeds the shadow, without a Teacher, hope or consolation, and -- let him hear the Law."
At the Israeli TS we try to reach out to these masses who are in great need of simple tools and insights that can help them deal more effectively with stress and harmful emotions and thoughts, by offering them (in addition to our introductory course of Theosophy) a five-day workshop named "Learning to Help Ourselves". (this workshop developed into the publication of the booklet Helping our Neighbor and Promoting Theosophy) The objective of this program is to teach them ways of coping with the distress and hardships of life using mindfulness and attentiveness tools.
In these workshops we emphasize that all harmful emotions have their roots in ignorance and separateness. Ignorance of the power of our thoughts and desires create harmful feelings and emotions.
The following are some of the principles we teach and which I feel are in harmony with the principles of Theosophy:
1. Harmful emotions are the outer expressions of hidden patterns of thoughts and beliefs. They are messengers from within, showing us the separative and disharmonious tendencies we hold within us.
2. We created these emotions through our ignorance of the creative power of our consciousness. Repetition of thoughts give it power and create strong emotions that become automatic responses to this kind of thoughts or events that trigger these thoughts.
3. Our character is the result of such hidden patterns of thoughts and beliefs. By discovering these patterns and the suffering they cause us, we can start changing them.
4. We cannot change if we are not willing to see and experience our emotional states even if they are painful. Usually we run away from unpleasant feeling, and that is why we are stuck with the emotions that produce this feeling. This is what Krishnamurti meant when he spoke about running away from "what is".
5. We have to learn to differentiate between the consciousness, the onlooker, and the emotions. This can be done only when we learn to look within without judgment. If we can do this, then we can observe our emotional states without being emotional, and feel our emotions without hating them or ourselves. This is the beginning of real self-knowledge.
6. This kind of observation, in which we make space for our emotions and make peace with them, is also the best way to transform their destructive nature.
To summarize, making Theosophy a functioning force in our world depends very much on making Theosophy more understandable, practical and experiential to the average man and woman. We cannot advance in spirituality if we ignore our lower self with its selfishness, anger and fear. The Light and treasures of the Spirit are hidden beneath the shadows of our personality. When more of us are able to engage in this inner work and teach it, Theosophy will flourish in our world.