Is there ever a personal problem?

Anne Lloyd (Dara Eklund) – USA

Theosophy DE 3 b
Dara Eklund frequented gardens such as the Huntington Garden in San Marino, CA, On the photo the rose garden there

In the first place, we might ask, why do we think that a problem is personal, and what is that magic process which brings us to a point where it no longer seems personal? Ask a man if he has solved his problem of yesterday and he will often innocently inquire, “What problem? ... Oh! that!” - and both you and he together will see how foolish, or trifling, it seems in the light of today. In this case we might say that Time erased the cares of yesterday, and we, engrossed in today's happiness, are no longer concerned with past puzzles. Perhaps this is also Great Nature’s way of helping us to go ahead with the task of each moment.

Yet there is a Universal problem involved, even in this tendency of flitting with life’s moods, which in reality is common to all men, for it deals with that transitory illusive area of mental focus which is our present field of conflicts. In spite of man’s need to meet each moment without regrets of the past, he needs time for reflection with the guidance of Universal Conscience, if he is to go ahead without bolting, like a young colt, from one pitfall into another. True, as the colt bounds forward again, the sun is shining on the meadows - as it always was. But man, with that mysterious power called faith, can know that the sun is shining even when the darkness of the pit seems overwhelming. If faith is cultivated in the light of principles, he will begin to know where the pitfalls are - not only in his own “personal” problems, but in those of his family, of his friends, and of nations. He will begin to view human life with a true sympathy, as he appreciates the struggles of men, and he will be ready to laugh with them as they begin to admit that this or another problem isn't just “mine.”

What is it that keeps us from the self-reflection and calm deliberation that must accompany the gradual unraveling of our “terrible” mix-ups? What is it, apart from the mix-up itself? Perhaps it is that in our willingness to admit that no problem is as serious as we make it, we go to the other extreme by not realizing the seriousness of a problem's universal implications. And these are revealed in the very unraveling of a problem. Step by step, we observe that all of men's trials stem back from the same basic needs and from the multitude of human desires. In questioning their source in the right spirit, we are performing a valuable alchemy upon our common human nature. Krishna helps us realize that “actions are performed by nature only, and that the self within is not the actor.”

It is said, “The Lord receives no man's deeds, be they sinful or full of merit.” William Q. Judge wrote to a friend that most of our troubles are due to our way of looking at things, and that we should endeavor to change our attitude of mind. If we could realize the uplifting of hope for all men on the inner planes, that results from our new attitudes toward these age-old problems, we would perhaps more willingly take a broader view of them. We actually perform a duty to all life by the higher synthesis of matter, which occurs when we begin to work on the ground of principle. For although the lower nature rebels, and temporarily added difficulties arise, the teachers say it is a sign of real progress. We find it hard to face the loneliness, the yearning for understanding, or the self-pity that arise, yet by persisting in our attempts at right thought and action, we shall find true unity with our fellow men on inner planes, thus achieving the aims in life which these very problems are helping us to recognize. As long as we consider the seriousness of a problem when related to ourselves only - and go to the other extreme of dismissing it as foolish when it has “passed” and no longer disturbs us - we ignore a great responsibility toward our brothers in evolution.

We might say that the principle of brotherhood is our magic. Mr. Judge writes: “The veils that come over souls fall away when we work for others.” We have all had friends who have helped us “out” of a problem by showing us that others have had it also, or by focusing our attention on service to others. Or, perhaps, they took one aspect of the problem and - by knowing how we would ourselves regard it in our better moments - directed our attention to a more Universal line in accord with our more brotherly sympathies. Immediately, a new attitude is adopted. Sometimes, months later, we wake up and see that, after all, the principle involved concerns all men, and we are doing real service by facing the difficulty and solving it.

If we regret a problem which has arisen, we not only do injustice to ourselves, but to all others who might benefit from the lesson learned. The truth is, the regret re-creates the need or desire which caused the difficulty in the first place. Although we may smile at today’s sweet pleasures, we are carrying a hidden luggage which, under cyclic law, we must sometime lay down.

In the final analysis, how can our trials be personal, when we realize the law by which they arise? We ourselves make them personal by calling them “mine” instead of “ours.” It is up to us to change our way of looking at Karma. This may be considered our real problem. Yet even this burden is lightened when we think that “those who have been through all this before” are ready and waiting to help others find the simple and most natural way to living.


THEOSOPHIA, A Living Philosophy For Humanity, Volume VIII, No. 6 (48) - March-April 1952

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