The Theosophic Life, To Live To Serve
Marie Harkness – Northern Ireland
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According to H. P. B., every true Theosophist, worthy of the name, should be a ‘beneficent force of nature.’ This could be interpreted as possessing a selfless, kindly energy and capacity which can, through example, influence for the better all life, but particularly the mind and behaviour of others.
To totally understand and to be able to share with, in an intelligent way, we must love others unconditionally so as to be able to empathise with them at all levels. To perceive truly, we must see the whole situation with spiritual eyes and be non- judgemental. Where there is empathy, we can intimately sense, intuit the thoughts, feelings and motives of others. The capacity to do so is a sacred gift which must never be abused, but ever provides an opportunity to help, to bless, to heal.
Often understanding comes about when we have had a shared experience, such as the bereavement of a loved one. Although, through our Theosophical study, we may have more understanding of the process of death, that it is only a stage on a long journey, we can from our hearts support and greatly help another, as it is sensed that there is a sharing, a oneness at a deeper level.
N. Sri Ram, a former International President (TS Adyar) said: “We have to learn to give from our hearts. When we help from the very soul of ourselves, there can be no consciousness of a helper separate from the one who is being helped.”
We can give of ourselves at many levels. Physically we can give practical help where needed, give a donation or a gift with love or spend time with someone in need. True giving is done with the heart, as a spontaneous gesture with no strings attached or expectation of return, otherwise it is not giving but calculated trading. We can give emotional support by a ready smile with a blessing, a comforting hand on the shoulder or by just being in companionable silence. It is also possible to greatly help others by consciously using our minds for higher purpose. There are numerous opportunities throughout the day (and night) to serve, to radiate blessings, goodwill, helpful thoughts and love to all beings. This can be done while taking a morning shower, travelling to and from work, doing housework, out walking, in town, when shopping, at train stations, airports, when writing letters and sending out messages on the internet. We can consciously project light ahead of us in all these situations and especially before visiting people in their homes or in public places. Thus in this way our minds are focussed not on the negative, but on helping others by loving, helping and healing. Even a spontaneous genuine smile can uplift someone bowed down with troubles. We can also project powerful healing thoughts and energy worldwide in our daily meditations and tune-ins.
The Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hahn’s wise words are encouraging and reassuring: “Every word, every look, every action, and every smile can bring happiness to others”.
We are all on this earth plane, this school, to garner experience and in so doing, to become better beings, more perfect and increasingly more conscious of and identified with our God Selves, of ‘the Inner Ruler Immortal’. The only exceptions are those great Masters, our Elder Brethren, who having earned ascension, have chosen to remain on earth. Their combined presence, with many other enlightened Beings, form a wall of light around this planet thus protecting mankind and preventing many potential catastrophes. Their real purpose is to aid, to awaken humanity to realising its innate greatness. The chosen Path of perfection is not an easy route, nor is it suited to all as it has been referred to as ‘razor-edged’, but all in time will eventually get there, by the slower, more conventional way. This Path is dedicated wholly to the welfare and upliftment spiritually, of the human and non-human kingdoms alike. Selfishness, in any form, has no place on this journey and only serves to hinder all development.
In The Voice of the Silence we find: “To live to benefit mankind is the first step.” In Light on the Path we are advised to grow as the flower grows “unconsciously but eagerly anxious to open its soul to the air.’ Also ‘press forward to open your souls to the Eternal. But it must be the Eternal that draws forth your strength and beauty, not desire of growth.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama has written: “The closer one gets to being motivated by altruism, the more fearless one becomes in the face of even extremely anxiety-provoking circumstances’ and ‘selfishness of mind causes ignorance, anger and passion which are at the root of all the troubles of the world.” He states: “If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace.” We realise that if the love within our minds disappears “the result is suffering and confusion.”
To truly live as Theosophists, we must share and empathise in every sense with our fellow men. For example, money, on which there is so much reliance and emphasis in today’s world, is said to be the root of all evil but it is a great force with enormous potential. It must flow, be shared and used rightly to benefit all, not the few. We arrive into this world and leave it with absolutely no material acquisitions. Money, all our possessions, even our children are not ours. They are on loan to us, to quote Kahlil Gibran on this subject: “They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you. You give them your love but not your thoughts.” It is essential that children are surrounded by loving kindness, understanding and beauty and are taught to share with others from an early age.
In order to tread the Path safely and steadfastly, we need inspiration and the wisdom to intuit how to think, speak and act wisely, and how and when to help without interference. The Paramatman light is needed to illumine our minds and the road ahead of us. In Light on the Path it is written: “For within you is the light of the world, the only light that can be shed on the Path. If you are unable to perceive it within you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere. It is beyond you because when you have reached it you have lost yourself.” The small, petty ego has to go, to die, for us to selflessly and effectively serve the whole.
In The Mahatma Letters, the Master KH tells us: “The first object of the TS is philanthrophy. The true Theosophist is a philanthropist – not for himself but for the world he lives.” And again we are instructed: “Forget self in working for others and the task will become an easy and a light one for you.”
Every one of us the Gods, the Masters of Compassion and the various grades of Angelic Beings are ever-becoming, are en route to perfection. We may enter the light, which ever recedes, but we will never touch the flame. We each have a nucleus, a burgeoning light within us. The acorn holds within it the potential for a mighty oak tree. We are told that it is this growing light alone which attracts the attention of the Holy Ones. Understanding others, knowing how to share and love in a higher sense, must become an intrinsic part of our nature, a way of life.
What is the future that may lie ahead of us? In The Voice of the Silence we are told: “When once thou hast become like the fix’d star in the highest heaven, that bright celestial orb must shine from out the spatial depths for all – save for itself; give light to all, but take from none.”
And finally this beautiful and haunting verse by his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, will strike a chord with all those determined to follow in the Masters’ footsteps.
Are we ready to make such a commitment?
“For as long as space endures, And for as long as living beings remain Until then may I, too, abide, to dispel the misery of the world."