Barbara Hebert – USA
When we look around our world today, we can quickly become overwhelmed with all of the problems and difficulties we see before us. Poverty and hunger are endemic in many areas; intolerance, discrimination, and inequality continue to plague the world; violence seems to be the primary means to solve conflict. Around the world, we face the scourge of substance abuse with its multiplicity of venal tentacles that cause untold suffering and sadness to its users and to the loved ones of those users. As we look around our world today and see the reality of suffering, it seems as if the only solution is to sadly shake our heads and whisper quietly, “Oh, this orphan humanity.”
As Theosophists, we have been accused of “hiding” in our books, of not living in the real world. We are accused of being “head” focused, not “heart” focused. That is, knowing that individually we cannot even begin to make a dent in the tragedies suffered by humankind, we can return to our studies, safe in the understanding that suffering is the way of the world at this time in evolution because it is the Kali Yuga. Correct? Absolutely not.
Theosophy is about the study of the ancient wisdom which prompts us to strive for conscious awareness of our own divinity and the unity of all beings. Theosophy is about wholeness. If one individual falls into the mire, then we all fall into the mire. If one suffers, we all suffer. We cannot separate ourselves into “head” and “heart.” Both head and heart are part of who we are; both are needed for successfully functioning in the world; both are needed on the journey toward conscious awareness. Think for a moment….what would it be like to have only one’s mind as one makes this journey?....what would it be like if one only had one’s heart for this journey? We need both, we have both, and we must use both!
Studying allows us to understand the tragedies faced by individuals the world over. Our minds help us to make some sense of the suffering we see. Our minds grapple with concepts such as karma and dharma. Through our minds, we reach for ultimate understanding, for our journey’s end—not simply to know, but rather to KNOW. However, we cannot reach the journey’s end through our minds alone. Our hearts must accompany us.
Our actions, our love, our hearts reach out to those who are suffering. We see sadness, and we act to assuage it. We see intolerance, and we work to mitigate it. We see poverty and hunger, and we attempt to end it. Through this karma yoga, we move toward our journey’s end, not simply to love all of creation, but rather to SERVE all aspects of life in the most divine sense. However, in order to avoid being swept up in the emotions of serving, our minds must accompany us on our journey.
Our minds and our hearts must meld in order to provide the balance needed to both KNOW and SERVE. Knowledge without service is useless; service without knowledge is helpless. How then do we move forward?
Using our studies to provide the basis of knowledge from which we serve seems reasonable. If we did not have some tentative understanding of the laws of karma, we would likely be overwhelmed with the heartache that exists in our world. At that point, we may simply give up in despair; thus, instead of helping, we would be adding to the desperation that exists in so many places. Through our studies, we know that thoughts have power and can influence others. We can use our thoughts to help others. Also through our studies, we know that meditation can help to raise the very consciousness of humanity as a whole. It seems that possessing an understanding of the divine wisdom can only enhance our service. And serve, we must.
The axiom “Theosophy is who Theosophy does” propels us toward service. We must DO Theosophy. We must put the teachings of Theosophy into action. For some, the idea of putting the teachings of Theosophy into action may sound daunting; for others, this may sound like a clarion call! Those of us who are daunted may wonder…“What can I do to help? I don’t have much money. I have to work and take care of my family. How can I serve?” Regardless of whether we are racing to the forefront to challenge the inequality in our world or whether we are helping our neighbor during a time of need, we are “doing Theosophy”!
Each of us is unique and can thus serve in our own unique manner. We can use our thoughts to help others. Sending kind and caring thoughts to someone who is clearly having an especially difficult day is a form of service. For instance, if someone cuts us off in traffic, we could send thoughts of peace and caring to that individual (rather than the normal thoughts we send in his/her direction!). We can also use our actions to serve others. Peppering our lives with random acts of kindness is truly a means of serving. On a very simple level, we can hold the door open for someone (whether they need us to do so or not!). We can make eye contact and smile genuinely at others throughout the day. Of course, we can add to these simple methods of serving by focusing our thoughts and actions on a broader scale—meditation. We can use our meditation practices to help raise the consciousness of humanity, to raise it above the mire of suffering and hurt so that all beings can live in the Light.
Thus, when we look at our world today we can see not just the suffering that seems endemic, but also the endless possibilities of serving through the use of both our heads and our hearts. We can not only balance ourselves but help to balance the world in which we live through both Knowledge and Service. We can “do Theosophy”!