The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
August 2007 -- Vol. 10 Issue 6
Every people has borne the sacred burden of the Divine in its deepest heart. How strange, with this wondrous heritage, that we should ever feel "widowed of the presence of the gods," as though the link with our divine source had become frayed, no longer assured. We are not the first civilization to feel lost and bewildered, nor will we be the last, but this does not mean there is no remedy. Help has always been within our grasp: to ally our whole being with the building energies of the universe and to refuse to strengthen by default – certainly never by design – the destructive forces that are ever alert to attack the irresolute soul.
The higher self is our real teacher, our inner buddha. This is a time-honored truth: it places responsibility for growth, for inner advancement, squarely on ourself. We have no one but ourself to blame for our fumbles, no one on whom to shift our burdens. We are our own awakener, our own savior, for we are the steps we must travel and the truth we so long to find. Yet few of us feel adequate to fulfill the demands of our dharma, or self-disciplined enough to meet with equanimity the impact of daily karma. Trust is the key: to trust karma is to trust ourselves and to trust that we have the inner resources to handle whatever befalls. Having made the choice to live mindfully, there can be no turning back. We are not required, however, to take more than one step at a time; this is our protection, for by meeting life's challenges one day at a time we gather strength and sufficient wisdom for the daily need.
Once we grasp the fact that we are the path before us, never again will we know that aching loneliness of despair, for we shall have come in touch, if ever so fleetingly, with our light-source. Should periods of despondency return, they need not take firm hold, for a part of us, having entered into companionship with our higher self, remains en rapport with the larger fraternity of the spirit that touches every aspirant on the path. In proportion as we allow our buddha-nature to illumine our ordinary self will the Tathagata-light, the Christos-sun, irradiate our being and the path ahead. Since we are one humanity, the lighted path of a single individual makes the path of all others that much clearer. – Grace F. Knoche
Man is an infinitely small copy of God. That is glory enough for me. I am a man, an invisible atom, a drop in the ocean, a grain of sand on the shore. But, little as I am, I feel that God is in me, because I can bring forth out of my chaos. I make books, which are creations. I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down; the new shoots are stronger than ever. I know I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with the reflection of unknown worlds. You say the soul is only the result of your bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. There I breathe at this moment the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets and the roses, as twenty years ago. The nearer I approach the end, the more plainly I hear the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple. It is a fairy tale, and yet is it historic. For half a century I have been writing my thoughts in prose and verse, history, philosophy, drama, romance, tradition, satire, ode, and song. I have tried it all, but I feel that I have not said a thousandth part of what is in me. When I go down to the grave I can say, like many others, I have finished my day’s work; but I cannot say I have finished my life. My day will begin again the next morning. The tomb is not a blind alley: it is a thoroughfare. It closes on the twilight, it opens with the dawn – the dawn of an immortal morning! I love this world as my fatherland. My work is only beginning. My moment is hardly above its foundation. I will be glad to see it mounting and mounting forever. The thirst for the infinite proves infinity.
Our next subject is "Inner Alchemy." We will be discussing such questions as: What brings about inner transformation? How do different aspects of our being interact and change? In what ways are we microcosms or miniature universes? Who were the alchemists, and what do symbols such as the philosopher's stone, elixir of life, and various elements and processes represent? How can we transmute the lead of ourselves into gold? What are some other ways the process of human growth and spiritual development have been symbolized throughout the ages? 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.
September 20: Is Theosophy Relevant Today?
October: Music of the Spheres
November: The Uses of Adversity
Wikipedia says of Alchemy: "In the history of science, alchemy refers to both an early form of the investigation of nature and an early philosophical and spiritual discipline, both combining elements of chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, astrology, semiotics, mysticism, spiritualism, and art all as parts of one greater force. Alchemy has been practiced in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Persia, India, and China, in Classical Greece and Rome, in the Muslim civilization, and then in Europe up to the 19th century in a complex network of schools and philosophical systems spanning at least 2500 years.
"Today the discipline is of interest mainly to historians of science and philosophy, and for its mystic, esoteric, and artistic aspects. Nevertheless, alchemy was one of the main precursors of modern sciences, and many substances and processes of ancient alchemy continue to be the mainstay of modern chemical and metallurgical industries.
"Although alchemy takes on many forms, in pop culture it is most often cited in stories, films, shows, and games as the process used to change lead (or other elements) into gold. Another form that alchemy takes is in the search for the Philosopher's Stone, in which to obtain the ability to transmute inexpensive metals such as lead into gold ("chrysopoeia" in the Greek language) or create an elixir that grants eternal life."
The main point I cull from this description and would like to concentrate on is the transmutation of lead, or a base metal, into gold, or a precious metal. I believe that is the physical description of a process which is actually an analogy for an invisible process. This process would be the transformation of one's lower, animal, or base self into their higher or spiritual self. It is taking the lower passions and not annihilating them, not trying to destroy them, but transforming their energy into a higher expression of the lower quality – "Inner Alchemy" in its essence.
Why would we want to do such a thing, one might ask? Why don't we have just one self to begin with if that is the way we are supposed to be? We are composite beings. Congeries of lives inhabit and make up our whole being. Our composition and those lives that make us up span the spectrum from physical to spiritual. At the physical end we can see what we are dealing with, as in our physical bodies. At the spiritual end things are invisible to us though they are just as real as the physical. They are, in fact, even more real, for many of them do not die and disintegrate with the body but live on from life to life being like the thread in a string of pearls, connecting our many lives.
As composite beings we are on a journey to our origin, the origin of all things. From That we came and to That we must return. The way we return is having learned through experience in our many lives of the true nature of things and inculcating that knowledge and wisdom into our being. On our return to the higher part of ourselves, it is necessary that we bring along those lower aspects of ourselves rather than trying to simply annihilate them. They are part of us, as everything is part of us. The physical separations we see in our world are only visible because we see only a certain spectrum with our eyes. Multitudes of lives infill what we perceive as the empty spaces between.
Our journey has taken us from the sublime spaces of the cosmos to the subtle space we now occupy. We are moving ever forward, with the flow of nature. Our only measure is the speed with which we become more. While I am not advocating trying to do anything in a fast manner, I am noting that as we align ourselves with the natural flow of things we begin to move with it. Think of a boat in a river. As the boat moves into the flow of the water, it gains momentum and begins to move faster than it would on its own without the flow. That is what we do as we step into harmony with the universe, following its processes and true nature.
Our task therefore is to blend with the nature of nature, the universal cosmos that we are an integral part of in our life and death. To move in concert with the energies and harmonies that are all around us. To live to benefit humanity and the myriad species of fauna and flora that abound in this great world of ours. By so doing we will accelerate our own Inner Alchemy to flow with the currents of Life and thereby transform our place in the universe to true humanity, living in the higher part of our being, a beneficent force for good in the world.