The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
June 2001 Vol. 4 Issue 4
In 1879, several months after Helena Blavatsky arrived in India, she began The Theosophist, subtitled "A Monthly Journal Devoted to Oriental Philosophy, Art, Literature and Occultism: Embracing Mesmerism, Spiritualism, and Other Secret Sciences." At that time Christianity or materialism (or both) dominated most western religious and philosophical scholarship and publications. This first theosophical periodical met two resulting needs: "the necessity for an organ through which the native scholars of the East could communicate their learning to the Western world, and especially, through which the sublimity of Aryan [Hindu], Buddhistic, Parsi, and other religions might be expounded by their own priests or pandits"; and "the need of a repository for the facts – especially such as relate to Occultism – gathered by the Society's Fellows among different nations." Theosophical University Press has published the first issue of Volume I online, and will add subsequent issues as they are ready.
TUP is also adding articles by Blavatsky, particularly from the 1870s and early '80s, to its "Blavatsky Articles" section, which already has links to the many articles found on blavatsky.net and other theosophical sites, the majority of which are from her later magazine, Lucifer.
The answer is this: If you are strong enough, rise and go out in service to others. Forget yourself, your sorrows and your pains, in alleviating the sorrows and pains of others, lightening them – the first duty that comes to hand; because all our pain and sorrow, all our wretchedness and misery, when it comes and as it comes and whatever it may be, arises from a reaction on our own human mentality and feelings, of conditions that we ourselves have brought about but grieve to face.
"Hold on like grim death"; never despair; that is failing. But in addition to holding on, seek out others who are suffering more than you are and extend the hand of helpful-ness, and your own sorrows will vanish away like wisps of mist in the morning before the sun always. It will never fail. Most people don't like it, because (this may astonish you) many, many, many people – most human beings, perhaps – like to suffer! There is an extraordinary psychology about this. They love to torment themselves. There are men and women who deliberately, for the pleasure of the thing, make themselves miserable and other people around them too.
Help others, and you will be amazed how many you will find whose faces you can gladden with a smile, whose hearts you can lighten with a kindly word. Forget your sorrows! Forget your misery! It does no good to linger upon them. It just increases them. If you are normal, you know that life is full of sorrow and pain. We have to accept these things. We are in a very low state of evolution; but how great, how grand, is the man or woman who can rise above these things and be helpful to others! There is where the real chela spirit, the Master spirit, comes in.
It is our duty to throw off our own sorrows and to work to help others. Try it; and you will go to sleep that night with a light heart, at peace with yourself and the world. If you practice it, it becomes continuously easier, ever more easy, every day a little easier; and finally you will attain peace, a place of peace and inner rest, where you will be actually above the reach of pain and sorrow. – G. de Purucker
The Great Lakes Branch of the Theosophical Society is sponsoring theosophical meetings, presentations, and discussions, from September 4 - 9, 2001, timed to coincide with the Wheatland Music Festival (September 7 - 9). There will be various events in Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Rodney, and Remus, including talks by National Secretary Alan E. Donant. For more information, contact John Rau at P.O. Box 370, Mecosta, MI 49332; at firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit their website at www.centurytel.net/theosophy/.
This month "The Remedy for Suffering" is our subject. We will be exploring such questions as, what is the cause of suffering? Is it a necessary part of life and evolution? To what extent can it be reduced or eliminated? How can we deal constructively with suffering in our own lives, as well as with the suffering of peoples on a larger scale? What can we learn from the world's philosophies and religions that can be applied practically? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
The topics for the monthly discussion group for the next few months are:
If we believe that the law of order and harmony that prevails in celestial spheres is reflected in the world of human affairs, then we must know that what a man sows in the field of his character he will reap accordingly, whether in this life, or in some future arena of experience. And if we seriously consider our lives from this perspective, we realize that every circumstance in which we find ourselves today we must have created somewhere along the line. That being the case, surely there is not a moment that is without purpose, for are we not in very truth on a ladder of evolution, midway between the atoms and the stars – with each and all evolving and growing and learning to bring forth their own measure of godhood?
The mills of the gods grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small. What we sow, we must reap – the Eastern writings call this karma, implying that every action is followed by its corresponding reaction. It is a useful word, now adopted into the English language, because it comprehends the whole philosophy of harmony and justice as well as the compassionate provision of nature that allows a man to learn with exceeding thoroughness by meeting the results of his thinking and deeds
We all have different ideas as to why there is suffering, but nature knows no more beneficent way to alert us to our limitations or to the wrongs we do than by permitting us to meet the precise effects of our foolish and selfish acts – just as we benefit to the last jot and tittle by the results of every truly unselfish thought and deed. This whole process of adjustment accents the selfless facet of nature, which acts and reacts as impersonally as the sun and the rain.
It is the immortal element in us that is the source of our greatest inspiration and strength, for it carries within itself the wisdom and knowledge of all our past, the indestructible record of our suffering and aspiration, our hopes and our dreams. It is the recorder of all things thought and done, from which flow the effects of causes set in motion today, yesterday, and in lives gone by.
Thus in the cosmic book of destiny, there is no recording angel to allot divine reward or satanic punishment. It is man alone who has inscribed his past, who must read and interpret his present, and in so doing shape his future. As we understand more clearly our own particular chapter in the larger, universal script of destiny, we shall observe that the circumstances and events that arise day by day operate so scientifically, so accurately, and so compassionately that all whom we contact are of necessity brought to us and we to them for each of us to learn and to grow, to receive and to give.
There is not a thing that happens but carries with it an opportunity to adjust our attitudes and consciousness toward a larger vision and a more understanding feeling for others. If it is a problem, we are challenged to meet and solve it; if a sorrow, to try to feel the compassionate working of the Law through it all; and if a joy, to see how and where we might share its blessing. Nevertheless, I do not believe that every trial or difficulty is the effect of wrongdoing. Error and weakness do bring suffering in their wake, obviously, for that is nature's surest way of teaching. But there is a higher karma that may draw us magnetically into the valleys of pain in order to shock us out of our old and comfortable grooves into fresh pathways of thought.
It is a simple fact that through the ages we have accumulated a lot of effects of former actions so that we are faced now with a collection of karmic responsibilities dating from the far past, from which the immortal element in us has chosen a certain portion for this lifetime. This portion is neither too heavy nor too light, as perfect justice rules throughout the entire cosmos.
To me there is no such thing as good or bad karma, for the results, the effects of our actions and thoughts, are nothing more nor less than opportunity. That is the key. Karma as opportunity gives everybody the same possibility of growth. Now I don't consider that a heavy load to bear. All we need do is temper our reactions to our circumstances and meet them with the right attitude. But if we are foolish enough to feel revulsion to the so-called unpleasant events of life, we extend the effects of wrong causes further and further until finally we wake up and realize that we are rebelling against nothing but ourselves.