The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
September 2001 Vol. 4 Issue 7
When first I read the Buddhist Confession of Faith called the "Three Jewels," I recognized it as the true founda-tion of my own beliefs:
I go to Buddha for refuge;
I go to Dharma for refuge;
I go to Sangha for refuge.
My "refuge" was not any external shelter or protection, but an inner sanctuary, a holy place within myself. "Buddha" was not a single person, but the idea of all those who devote their lives to improving the human condition. And "Dharma" was not any particular doctrine, but an ever-growing realization that everything in life, every moment, is alive with truth. Most of all, I found sanctuary in "Sangha," the idea of mankind, humanity, evolving toward a conscious, interdependent unity of mutual assistance.
These "jewels" can be expressed as moral obligations: duty to the teacher, duty to the teachings, and duty to the brethren. But this simplified interpretation often leads people to lay too great emphasis on one of the three at the expense of the other two.
There are many whose duty to the teacher becomes so important that they deify him: some try to visualize his face, others seek to have the teacher speak or act through them.
Then there are those who devote themselves solely to the teachings. They often become dogmatic, quoting chapter and verse in support of rigidly held interpretations.
Finally, there are those who have no particular interest in any teachers or teachings. They simply believe in universal brotherhood, the oneness of life. They have a genuine concern for others and are constantly striving for communion in the act of sharing.
On reflection, I began to ask myself: Doesn't the true essence of each teacher manifest in his teachings? And what is the purpose of the teachings, if not to guide, to show the way, to provide the keys whereby each of us can discover truth within ourselves and share it with others?
The manifestation of the Buddha or any other teacher is in the Dharma, the universal ideas which describe the unity of life and the dignity of mankind. They are the touchstones by which all people can recognize the truth in themselves and help others to do the same. And both the Buddha and the Dharma, the teacher and the teachings, manifest to their fullest extent in our genuine, thoughtful concern for one another. – James T. Belderis
To the earnest Disciple his Teacher takes the place of Father and Mother, for, whereas they gave him his body and his faculties, its life and casual form, the Teacher shows him how to develop the inner faculties for the acquisition of the Eternal Wisdom.– From the Book of Discipline in the Schools of 'Dzyan'
Even a teacher of ordinary subjects has a responsibility to his pupils in his influence upon their developments and ideals, while the pupils have an obligation of gratitude to one who has been an inspiration and perhaps opened to him doors of vision and resolve. But how much deeper is this bond of responsibility and gratitude between pupil and spiritual teacher – one who can show us how to solve all our apparently unsolvable problems and how to re-create our-selves and our lives. Yet such a spiritual relationship goes deeper even than this, since an occult teacher is one who can open for us the inner realms of being. It is not so-called religious instruction that he gives, though ethics and morals are the foundation of all genuine spiritual teaching. He not only gives knowledge but actually quickens the human soul, much as the flame of mind was quickened in the early races of mankind by the manasaputras or Promethean light-bringers. In a sense, a real spiritual teacher literally raises his chela from the dead, for unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. And as Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is within us. – Leoline L. Wright
This month "Our Spiritual Teacher" is our subject. How and where can we find spiritual guidance? Do we need to have a spiritual teacher? Is such a teacher within us or outside us, or both? Can it be a book, tradition, or the events of life? What about frauds and deluded teachers? How can we develop our spiritual discernment and learn to judge whether something is helpful or harmful for our development? 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:
Not so many years ago, on my first tour through Egypt and India, I received an invitation to meet a great teacher. I met this great character in India. I had my mind fashioned to see something quite remarkable, but when I reached this person, he was standing leaning against a tree with an English jackknife in his hand, cutting a little piece of wood. When he saw me he came to meet me, asking me to excuse him for a short time because one of the bullocks with which one of his chelas was plowing had suffered an injury to his neck and he was trying to repair the yoke.
I looked straight at the man. I would have said that he was then not more than thirty-two or thirty-three years of age. He appeared to be Tibetan, dark of skin. His face was unlike any other that I had ever seen before. His whole life was lighted up with an inner light that had toned his features, had brightened his eyes, and had brought to him the glow of youthfulness and splendor of character. One could not look merely at his face: – his whole figure commanded attention. Yet he was very unpretentious in manner.
He drew my attention to the plowman, one of his own chelas he said. "You know how the women here in India lave and anoint the feet of the pilgrims? Well, his feet after the longest day's journey have never been found hurt or damaged by the road. Why? Because he never dreads or even thinks of the distance, but goes on his way happily; and it never occurs to him to be troubled as to whether or not he may have missed the road or taken the wrong turning or the like. His mind is so buoyant with the joy of the spiritual life that it actually lightens his body for him.
"You know, the atoms of the human body become weighed down as a rule with the burdens of the mind – the irrelevant ideas, the preoccupations and anxieties. They go through series of changes momently, affected by the thoughts of the brain-mind. The lack of trust, the lack of inspiration that people suffer from bring these atoms down halfway to death. But they can be quickened to a kind of immortality by the fire of the divine life and attuned into universal harmony.
"The trouble with some aspirants is that they waste the strength of their lives looking at the goal ahead, rather than at the immediate moments and seconds of which the Path is composed, and so their better selves become exhausted. They should let the beaming thought pour itself into each arriving moment and be indifferent to the morrow. One can find in every instant of time, if one has the desire, the door into worlds of golden opportunity, the gateway to a glorious path stretching out into the limitless eternal. . . .
"To throw the mind, on moving out of sleep into waking, directly upon the outward things is to lose half the life of the day. One should awake in the morning with a beautiful thought, reminding himself that the battle for the day is before him and that the god within desires a moment's conference with the mind before the arduous duties of the morning begin.
"He should find something in the silence and sunlight of the first hours which should link itself with his own higher nature and bring forth the blossom and the fruit. He should free himself in the morning in the sweetness of the sunlight, beginning the day as gently as though he were waking a little child from its slumbers, bringing forward the truer and nobler side of himself – I do not mean working it out in words and language, but in thought approaching the richness and fullness of the spirit and letting the god within blossom into each moment as it rises."
We must all, sooner or later, believe in the marvelous powers of the spiritual soul of man. We must all fathom the depths of our own nature and find therein the royal talisman of wisdom and truth. This is what I found with and in this great teacher. Just while I was standing there with him, I discovered anew, under the great force of his presence, that there was something indeed in me more than the mere mentality, that there was a vital, latent force inside me that desired to come out and inspire me to achieve things that I had never done before. It seemed to me as if I had never really lived before that moment, and never known so much about life as I then knew.