Tim Boyd – USA, India
Many years ago in the United States I participated in one of the very large ceremonies that the Dalai Lama does, the Kalachakra. Around 10,000 people attended. When he would perform this ceremony in Asia more than 100,000 people gathered. In talking to some of the monks who were involved, they said that although everybody would receive something of value, the entire ceremony was intended for that one person who would fully get it, for whom this moment was the moment of awakening. From the Dalai Lama’s perspective, this was the whole point of the ceremony.
In Chicago, where I have lived for many years, there is a tree called the cottonwood tree. It is so called because its seeds look like fluffy pieces of cotton. The tree grows quite tall and in springtime these huge trees become a bit of a nuisance to people, because they produce so many of these cottony seeds that the ground almost looks like it was covered with snow. They will produce millions of seeds for one tree to grow.
Nature’s abundance is remarkable — millions of seeds for just one tree to actually take root, grow, and become a shelter for other forms of life. In many ways it is analogous to what we try to do in our work in the Theosophical Society.
For me it has been a growing awareness during this pandemic period, that our work is not dependent on something material. It is not dependent on the lecture hall, or physical bodies.
I have come to realize that in meetings with groups, each of us is in a different space of mind. Sometimes when we come together we are focused, sometimes we are not. Even in online meetings, with 100 thumbnail pictures of faces, it is possible to notice one person that is fully invested in the moment, and speak to that person. If it carries to others, it is wonderful, but that one is hearing what is said.
Any sacred space has been made so by a dedicated, constant use, and by attention over many years. But the sanctifying agency is not material. We are working with consciousness. It is present everywhere, and the fact that it is experienced through the Internet does not diminish its universality or its power.
We frame the work we do in terms of the expansion and unfoldment of consciousness, or the purification of consciousness. These are valid terms, but only in relation to us as individuals. It is a personalized way of looking at it. Consciousness does not enlarge or cleanse itself of taint. Regardless of our unfoldment, consciousness remains universal and ever-present. What we think of as the process of unfoldment is becoming aware of our own limitations, which constrict our access to the fullness of consciousness.
The introduction of what we regard as Theosophy took place by H. P. Blavatsky (HPB) working at the direction of her Masters. She was very clear that much of what she communicated was beyond her grasp. It was given to her to pass on to future generations. This was the work she did at the direction of her Masters. However, during the course of her entire life, only on rare occasions, that she treasured, was she actually ever physically in their presence. Out of her work in a realm not limited by physicality came the work that we attempt to do here together.
For two intense years we have been in various stages of pandemic-induced isolation from one another. After such a period it is good to examine ourselves, and ask ourselves if and how we have changed. The turmoil and crises of the past two years have been an opportunity. Given such an opportunity, what has come out of it? What is different within us? Perhaps more importantly, what, if anything, has shifted in our relationship to the Ageless Wisdom, to Theosophy?
One of the things HPB has said was: “To the mentally lazy, Theosophy will always remain a riddle.” It is always beyond our reach; we should not fool ourselves that we can fully express the Ageless Wisdom. For us to work within this theosophical setting requires some activation of our thought and thinking. Always it comes back to the mind as both the gateway and obstacle to a more universal experience of consciousness. It has a certain function within the divine mind with which we are connected, but we experience it through the more limited sphere of our own mentality. So how do we care for, protect, and utilize the mind?
From the theosophical point of view the function of the mind in the human context is to connect highest spirit and lowest matter. It is the link or bridge between those two poles, without which we cannot be fully human. As a human being, escape from the material is an impossibility. To be fully the Spirit is not really the goal, but rather to link the two is the function of the mind.
When we come to teachings, such as those of the Ageless Wisdom, that attempt to activate this mind link, how do we treat or try to understand it? In Buddhism there are practical examples that can be very helpful. One of the examples they use relates specifically to those who feel drawn to the Ageless Wisdom. They say there are three conditions of mind that we need to avoid. They give the example of Three Vessels, or Pots.
The first is the pot that is already full. We approach the Ageless Wisdom for the life-giving waters of truth, but if our mind is full of our own ideas, filled with concepts about teachings we have come to regard as truth, then there is no room within this container that is our mind. They say we need to see what we are full of. In most cases we are full of our selves. There is no room for much else, because our focus is on our needs, wants, and ideas, which generally we regard as prized possessions. Empty it, and we become available to the Wisdom.
The second condition we need to avoid is the pot that is not clean. A mind stained with all sorts of misguided thoughts and cravings will only pollute even the purest water. Water poured into a container that is full of grease, debris, and filth is not going to be useful.
The third one is the pot that leaks. In that case we can pour a river into it, but it will not hold anything. This speaks to the value of becoming attentive, present, and aware. Truth is not confined to teachings. It is inherent, and so continuously available, in everything. Inattention blinds us to its omnipresence.
The pot, the mind itself, is not the goal. Our own experience will bear out that in the moments when we find our minds uncluttered, not distorted, fully present, only in those moments is there the possibility for illumination — for something else to shine on the surface of this clean, unbroken, undisturbed surface that is our mind. In those moments we talk about special sorts of experience. In the language of the Ageless Wisdom, the illumined mind (manas taijasi), becomes our actual experience.
We can fill our minds with facts and information. We need structures of knowledge. But we also need to be able to release them when they have served their purpose. That is our most difficult challenge. It is said that the person who is proud of their great intellect is like the prisoner who is proud of his large prison cell.
This is a little bit of a description about the conditions for our work. Each of us needs to examine for ourselves and really see what we can see. This is because the process seems to be as simple as actually seeing clearly. And at such moments as that is our experience, then we can talk about the truth, Theosophy, and wisdom.
There is an expression from a Christian mystic: “God [or Wisdom] never has and never will give itself to a will that is alien to its own. Where he finds his will, he gives himself.” Where wisdom finds an unobstructed pathway it becomes active, expressed, known. It is our experience of truth.
This article was also published in The Theosophist VOL. 143 NO. 7 APRIL 2022.
The Theosophist is the official organ of the International President, founded by H. P. Blavatsky on 1 Oct. 1879.
To read the April, 2022 issue click HERE