The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
April 2009 -- Vol. 12 Issue 2
Come explore, enquire, and enjoy The Circle of Diversity Interfaith Fair. Visit information booths hosted by members of local faith and interfaith organizations. Gain in knowledge and understanding by considering not only the beliefs we have in common, but even tough and touchy aspects of faith in an atmosphere of friendliness. Enjoy food and entertainment from a variety of cultures. Participate in moderated discussion groups. “Knowledge is Light” is this year’s theme and discussion will center on such issues as: Why knowledge? What conditions favor the growth of knowledge and understanding of others’ beliefs? What in your own spiritual understanding do you find most beneficial to you personally when dealing with life’s joys and difficulties? How can we each bring more light into our communities? In what positive ways can we respond to ignorance and prejudice? See you at the Fair!
A present day artist, when traveling across the desert one day, saw a formation of clouds in the sky of such beauty that he stood watching it enraptured as long as it lasted. It was a broken halo around the sun, of rainbow colors, with a long, trailing formation of filmy clouds which faded away into the distant horizon. The whole thing was suggestive of wings and heavenly beings. Still under the spell of its unearthly beauty, he went home and painted a picture of it, trying to imprison on canvas something of the inspiration he had felt, feeling all the while how inadequate were his talents to represent so sublime a scene.
Recently a group of us were examining petroglyphs on the rocks in Arizona, at the base of a range of mountains remarkable for its picturesque ruggedness, rising abruptly from the level desert floor in a setting of saguaro and palo verde trees. This spot had been a favorite camping place on a travel route of the Native Americans from time immemorial. Records of their journeys are engraved on the rocks – information about food, water, the weather, animals to be found in the locality, time required for traveling – in fact a prehistoric travel bureau.
On the face of a huge boulder, somewhat apart from the main path, we found something quite distinct from the other symbols and writings. Imagine my amazement to find on its flat, triangular surface the carving of a sun with a large halo around it – with no other smaller carvings to detract from it, the setting was perfect and befitting its importance.
It was deeply moving to see here on this rock the workmanship of another and very ancient "Watcher of the Skies," carved with the crude implements of those early people. Could he also have looked upon a scene of such splendor that he was impelled to record it in this way for the delight and inspiration of others? He too must have felt his limitations as he worked with his primitive tools. Only an engraving on a rock, yet he too hoped, or knew in his heart, that some day it would be interpreted aright by the insight of those looking upon it. – L.R.
“Good! There comes George," and my love went out in fullness towards this cherished friend. I was grateful for the privilege of enjoying his friendship in return. Then, as the man came nearer, I saw that it wasn't George at all, but a perfect stranger. So I withdrew my love from him, enclosing it again in my heart, because I had been mistaken.
But now a voice from within me seemed to speak, saying: "Why do you withdraw your love from this stranger? It could well be that he has more need of it than George. Remember there is little merit in loving only one's friends, but much merit in learning to love all men."
And so I came to one more signpost along the endless road to understanding. – Kurt Reineman
This month "How Are We Connected?” is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What is our relation to the underlying reality or ground of being? Is life on a fundamental level one or separate? What implications for our lives does our answer have? Is there an inner dimension to the web of life? Why do we often feel isolated, alienated, or hostile? Why is there so much conflict? How can we become more open and reach out to others? How can we further recognize and strengthen our connections to other people and the natural world? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
These subjects are currently being considered for the Monthly Discussion group. As always, those who have a particular topic they would like to have featured are encouraged to contact us.
May 21: Science and Spirituality
June 18: Is Anger Justified?
July 9: Faith, Knowledge, Experience
August: Finding Balance in Life
September: The Seasons of Our Lives
October: Peace and Justice
November: The Universe Within
December: Service to Humanity
From the looks of things we seem to be separate beings, distinct entities who move independently and have individual characteristics and free will to do as we please. So how could we possibly be connected? Are we connected by families, friends, nations, nationalities? By soccer clubs, chess tournaments, or reading circles? We definitely are. However, those seem like such fleeting associations, here one day and dissolved the next, changed over the course of our life.
But is there any lasting connection, something inherently around us that connects us with each other? Is the physical body, which we usually identify with, all there is? I know I have a mind; is that just random firings of electro-chemical processes in the brain? I have a hard time believing that I don’t voluntarily control my life and therefore direct my own evolution. It seems to me, then, that mind is not physical, like the brain or the rest of my body, but that it is invisible. It is part of what surrounds us, yet also actually part of us.
This deduction implies that we are more than what we see. Certainly many religions and philosophies posit this, like the Christian body-soul-spirit of Paul. Many theosophists break human nature down into seven principles which interpenetrate each other. These emanate from most spiritual to most material, and are: divinity, intuition, intellect, desires, life-force, model-body, and physical body. Well, we can see the physical body and perhaps sometimes the model-body, but the other aspects are invisible to our eyes. We would need much more refined senses to ‘see’ them. Of course we know invisible things actually do exist, just as we know the sun exists on a cloudy day, or radio rays, or thoughts. And our invisible aspects are actually more parts of our selves than what we experience day-to-day in our physical world.
If these parts of ourselves stretch all the way from divinity to the physical, and if we believe divinity is pervasive in the universe, perhaps it is common to all sentient life – and everything is alive. Some things may not seem so, but even the atoms of a rock spin in unison. Who are we to say a rock does not possess some type of mind? What makes its constituent parts cohere together? Maybe this is how we are connected within ourselves and between each other. Thus our interpenetrating principles or “bodies” run the gamut from invisible to visible, expanding outward from the physical to the most ethereal. And if they do expand out from our physical self, they must collide with the higher principles of others around us. Maybe that’s how we are connected: invisible interpenetrating principles (bodies)!
And perhaps that is how we get an instant impression of someone we meet for the first time, an immediate like or dislike, because our emotional bodies touch and we can ‘feel’ the other. Maybe that’s how ideas are learned or transmitted across vast spaces – how often two people familiar with each other have the same thought at the same instant, or utter the same phrase simultaneously. Perhaps we are not so independent as we might think!
It may be that families and nations are connected on this inner level. And could we not say that all of humanity is one group – or just One! That we are part of that One as the cells in our body are part of One whole? That would make each of us responsible for not only ourselves, but for every other, all partners in a vast spiritual journey, the journey we normally call Life. Each part of a whole which works together toward a common purpose, striving for divine harmony. Every one our sister or brother, each responsible for all the rest, as in a hologram where each part contains a reflection of the whole. What a wonderful thought, to be part of a whole that is working toward a common purpose. That is how I believe we are connected. What do you believe?
To be is to be related, for relationship is the essence of existence. In the very first instant when the primitive particles rushed forth, every one of them was connected to every other one in the entire universe. At no time in the future existence of the universe would they ever arrive at a point of disconnection. Alienation for a particle is a theoretical impossibility. . . .Nothing is itself without everything else. Our Sun emerged into being out of the creativity of so many millions of former beings. The elements of the floating presolar cloud had been created by former stars and by the primeval fireball. . . . The universe advances into community – into a differentiated web of relationships among sentient centers of creativity. – Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme