The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
June 2004 Vol. 7 Issue 4
It is significant that the constellation Gemini the Twins presides over June. This zodiacal sign suggests versatility, and also the harmonizing of the conflicts that confront us almost daily between the dual forces of light and of darkness. This idea was cleverly woven into the Greek myth of the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, popularly emblems of sun and moon as well as of light and the adversary of light. In one version of the allegory these twins became symbols of man's dual nature: the immortal spirit, Pollux, is son of the mighty god Zeus, while his human counterpart, Castor, is son, by the same mother, Leda, of the mortal king, Tyndareus of Sparta.
Their relationship is touchingly described in a story which recounts an incident during their battle against the sons of Aphareus. Although both fought heroically and victory was theirs, Castor was mortally wounded, and Pollux, in utter despair at losing his brother, beseeched Zeus to allow him to die also. But the king of the gods reminded his son, "Thou canst not die altogether, thou art of a divine race." However, he offered a choice: either he, Pollux, could remain immortal and dwell eternally among the gods in Olympus; or, he could share Castor's fate, be subject to old age and death, and spend half his existence on earth and half in heavenly abodes. Without hesitation Pollux chose the latter, and in so doing sacrificed an eternity of bliss in order to restore his brother to life, and give to him a portion of his own divine nature.
This path we more consciously tread when we reach the mature summer years of our lives: when, instead of seeking benefits for ourselves, our concerns are primarily for the welfare of others, of our family, of our community, and even perhaps of the larger environment and fraternity of the whole world.
Once we pass this threshold, we approach the mystical midsummer solstice: the time, according to many traditions, when stirrings of the soul can be felt, and we can know, if we pause and invite it, the wonder and Oneness of life. Then, as if by magic, clouds disappear and we challenge the future unafraid.
But, summer has a challenge of its own. With thunderbolts and torrents it tests our resolve: Are we really at-One? Can we truly shed brightness on shadow? After the struggle comes peace and those "perfect days" of the poet when nature herself, so it seems, offers thanks to the sun that so strengthens our life. -- Eloise Hart
Perhaps the simplest form of meditation is silence. A few moments of silence in a day are a most potent practice. No formality is needed. To be silent as well as to have silence requires no special sitting position or paraphernalia. To allow ourselves silence is to allow ourselves freedom to be what we truly are.
By living up to our best, by being silent, by living selflessly and impersonally, and by exercising our own intuitive abilities, we learn to know our true inner self. Through this doorway we shall ultimately commune with the god within, forever keeping in mind that our highest aspirations lift the planetary being to whom inwardly we are a sacred thought. Insofar as we dare to live greatly in the small, the vastness lives greatly in us. Is this not what meditation is about? A method to be used all day long, for our daily existence not only provides us with the opportunity to live to be a benefit to mankind, but it is the very initiating element toward becoming what we heretofore have only dared to dream. -- Alan Donant
June 3rd we will continue reading and discussing the Tao Teh Ching by Lao-tzu, starting at verse 6. Those attending are encouraged to bring any translation of this Chinese classic that appeals to them. Note that, through August, these meetings will be held at the Bellevue Regional Library.
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
"Suffering and Evil: Are They Necessary?" is our topic. We will be discussing such questions as: Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there a purpose to pain and sorrow? Can suffering be avoided or ended? What do we mean by evil, and does it exist independent of humanity? Are good and evil absolute or relative terms? How can we understand and deal with the appalling or tragic events that sometimes overtake individuals or whole nations? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
The topics for the monthly discussions are chosen by members of the Northwest Branch. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, or if you have ideas or suggestions about the meetings, please do not hesitate to email or mail them to the Branch or to mention them after the meetings.
What is good? What is evil? Are they things-in-them-selves, or are they conditions through which entities pass? Good is harmony because relative perfection, and evil is disharmony because imperfection; and these two, good and evil, insofar as we are concerned, apply solely to our hierarchy of existence. Our "good" is "evil" to entities existing in a superior hierarchy. Evil signifies a state of an entity or group of entities in greater or less degree opposing the forwards-moving evolutionary stream of life.
Whence comes the evil in the world, if the divine which is mightier than evil is everywhere? One would think from such a question that evil is an entity, a power or a force, which flows forth from the heart of some thing or being. On the contrary, it is merely the condition of an evolving entity which has not yet fully manifested the latent divinity at its core, and thus is inharmonious with its environment because of its imperfection.
Good is not created. Evil is not created. They are two poles of the same thing. There is no Devil in the universe, wrongly supposed to be the creator and arbiter of evil. Equally so, there is no God, wrongly supposed to be the creator and arbiter of good. It is all a question of growth. Human beings are evil entities when compared with the gods. The gods in their turn could be called evil by entities still loftier than they.
Good is not spirit, evil is not matter, the nether pole of spirit, because that would be saying that matter is essentially evil, which it is not. Evil, whether spiritual or material, is whatever is imperfect and passing through a phase of growing to something better. Neither matter nor spirit is in one or the other condition absolutely and for eternity. A spiritual entity is evolving just as much as any material entity. Nevertheless, because spirit and spiritual beings are nearer to nature's heart, they are, collectively speaking, more perfect, therefore less evil than matter and material entities.
It is the balance of spiritual and material existences -- the natural course of universal being -- which gives the diversity in the universe. There is no power (or powers) which keeps the universe either all good or all bad; for it is neither the one nor the other. Vast hierarchies are the universe, hierarchies on the invisible planes and likewise on that cross section we call our physical world; and it is the differences in evolutionary degree attained in these hierarchies and in the hosts of entities composing them which provide the vast diversity that the universe manifests. It can at no time be either all good or all bad, for it is perpetually advancing; and this marching army is without beginning and without ending.
A tidal wave comes in upon the land and sweeps twenty thousand human souls into the waters and drowns them. Is there therefore evil in the world? What brought that catastrophe about? Or again, an earthquake shakes down a city, and more than a hundred thousand perish. Is that evil per se? The earthquake is an event, as is the tidal wave. Nature's law is that effect succeeds cause. Nature is strictly harmonious at its core and through all its parts, and all its movings are towards a restoration of harmony -- which is equilibrium. What we sow, we shall reap. Nothing happens by chance. And if a person is caught by a tidal wave or killed in an earthquake, it is because he himself by his past karma has put himself in those surroundings. He is reaping what he has sown.
We should have a lunatic universe were karma non-existent, if people could wreck the lives of others and then escape scot-free. Nature is not so built. Man is a god in his inmost and, because he is linked with the divine elements as well as with all the other elements of the universe, what he does, nature reacts against. He has free will, and so reaps the consequences of all that he thinks and does and is. Through-out the cosmos we see that evil is the conflict among entities, arising because of their as yet imperfectly developed spiritual powers. Applying this to mankind and its works, the conflict of human wills and intelligences which strive against each other produces disharmony, pain, disease, and all the host of evils. Yet when we learn the lesson that our interests are one instead of diverse, we shall work together in a constantly increasing ratio as our spiritual understanding unfolds.