We have all seen people get emotionally heated over the fact that nothing is being done about this, that, or the other thing. They would revolutionize the world from the outside in, which is like healing a boil from the outside only to have it come out later with interest compounded. But we must deal with causes, not with effects. We are experiencing the ills of the body of humanity, and these ills must be cured from within.
Mankind is progressing beyond the idea of national borders, and it is our task to recognize not only our individual responsibility but our opportunity to exemplify that we are brothers, regardless of race or nation or color. We cannot change outer conditions overnight, nor in a decade, a quarter of a century, a century, nor even in a millennium, but we can head in that direction. And to the degree that we as individuals recognize, work with, and cling to that inner unity, to that degree will we influence the hearts and minds of those with whom we come in contact, without our having to say a word.
We need to think of the world situation today in its true perspective, where each nation or circumstance is but one small aspect of the whole. We must think of all our brothers, everywhere, and observe the three fundamental forces operative in the universe: that which creates, that which preserves the status quo, and that which destroys. We must view the situation, not by the words of politicians, not by the words of religionists or scientists or anybody else, but by the unfoldment of their actions and their effect upon the world. Then we can see what is creative and for the benefit of all, and what is destructive and for the benefit of the few; what is heading humanity toward real progress, and what toward stagnation or destruction.
My concept of the law of retributive justice is that there is no such thing as good or bad karma. This law of justice brings a reaction to every action and thought that we have, and the effects are nothing more nor less than opportunity. The result of an action, once it becomes an effect, is dead. The only thing that can give it further life is our wrong reactions to that effect. Karma as opportunity gives everybody the same possibility of growth: we may not be able to tell the world the thoughts we have, but we can exemplify our reactions to the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Why are we here, as individuals or as mankind? We as individuals and as a whole humanity are here in this school of life to learn its lessons. The only teacher that any of us has is life: humanity must evolve through that which it has before it. The only way we can learn, and help the divinity within the heart of each one of us to unfold, is by allowing the qualities of our whole constitution to become more like that divine spark at the core of us. We do this by meeting with understanding the effects of former acts and thoughts. What will help us to understand these effects is to experience them, and when we experience them, if we are foolish enough to do nothing constructive about them, then by our reactions and our revulsion from so-called unpleasant circumstances, we extend these experiences further and further until finally we wake up and realize that we are objecting to nothing but ourselves. All we need do is recognize this fact and temper our reactions to the circumstances we find ourselves in, if we are to meet those circumstances with the right attitude.
We are not going to affect the hearts and minds of our fellows with billboards, headlines, or any words at all, but by the very manner in which we react to the circumstances life finds us in. If we are self-consciously working on this job, we have a marvelous opportunity. Reacting creatively and with a will to correct past errors we will automatically impress upon the consciousness of those with whom we come in contact the quality of our reaction, and give them some inspiration, however little, to try to do likewise.
(From Sunrise magazine, Fall 2007; copyright © 2007 Theosophical University Press)