The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
September 2004 Vol. 7 Issue 7
A little pool among the boulders on the beach lay warming itself in the sunshine. A gentle breeze rippled its surface, and tiny wavelets softly lapped upon the margin of the basin where it lay. "Here is my little kingdom," thought the pool every time one of its wavelets broke upon its boundary line. Other pools lay in sight and it was pleasant to compare its ample size, its graceful contour, and its flashing surface, with the lesser attractions of the neighboring pools. Far down the beach lay the ocean, a vast pool which seemed to have no boundaries and whose immeasurable range terrified the timid little pool lying in its petty isolation, behind the guardian ramparts which protected it from all association with its kind. "Here in solitary splendor I shall lie for ever," it mused, "shielded from all contamination with inferior pools and widely separated by a sloping stretch of sand from that appalling ocean whose rhythmic murmurs sound so faint and far away."
Small fish and gray shrimps darted to and fro about its shallows, and it was pleasant to feel itself the patron and protector of these small fry, and to reign as a monarch with-out a rival in its little kingdom. The sun grew hotter, and mounted the blue arch overhead, while the murmur of the distant waves grew louder as the time went by. "What would become of me if the waves should ever flood the beach?" thought the little pool. "My beautiful, clear water would be mixed with the other pools, and one and all would be engulfed in that vast ocean whose waves sound louder and louder." The tide was surely creeping up the beach. The long, blue breakers glided to the front and broke in thunder thereon. The liquid ruins were drawn back over the rattling pebbles; but always rose again with added volume and a louder roar. The pool trembled at the thought of its approaching destruction, until at last one towering billow breaking loose from the tossing multitude fell headlong with a sounding roar, poured its white cataract of boiling foam into the pool, and floated it away to mingle with the mighty deep.
No longer capable of thinking as a pool, an exultant surge of feeling soon drowned all sense of separated life. Its outlines melted in immensity. It had become the boundless sea itself. The petty throbbing of its individual life took on the grander rhythm of the ocean's giant heart. The breaking up of the limits of personal existence was the moment of its triumphant entry into the larger life, just as the man who loses himself in serving his fellows, grows suddenly great, and finds himself one with the heart of the universe. -- H. Percy Leonard
Doctors are currently rediscovering just how useful music can be in treating a wide variety of ailments both mental and physical. But if music can so powerfully affect our well-being, is it not equally possible that our thoughts and emotions also emit corresponding sounds, wonderfully musical or dully moaning as the case may be? Perhaps this would help to explain those occasions where someone was able to charm the anger or hurt right out of us, merely with a word or two, or even just by his presence. No doubt, if we had had the ears (and the heart) to hear it, we would have consciously recognized the magnificent and uplifting melodies pouring forth from that person's mind and soul. In this way each of us can live music at any time, in any place or condition. If, especially in time of stress, we quietly "come home" to our inner natures, and listen for the universal harmonies of our spiritual essence, we may well find just the right keynote to help all concerned resonate in sympathy with the great song of kindliness and love which is at the root of everything. -- Bill Dougherty
September 9th we will continue reading and discussing the Tao Teh Ching by Lao-tzu. This month we will resume with stanza 18. Those attending are encouraged to bring any translation of this Chinese classic that appeals to them.
Feel free to drop in at any meeting!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
"Moving Towards Brotherhood" is our topic this month. We will be discussing such questions as: Why is there so much conflict, cruelty, and division in human life? Is brotherhood "a fact in nature" or a utopian vision? Is there kinship among all life? How can we as individuals help bring about greater harmony, mutual respect, and understanding? 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 does brotherhood mean to you? Brotherliness in the larger sense is the ability to get on with people -- brothers after all are people; and all people are our brothers, for brotherhood lies in the organic unity of the human race physically and, above all, spiritually. Universal brotherhood is not something to be made but rests on the order of nature, and it is our blindness which prevents us from recognizing this fact. Mankind is one body and individuals are the constituent cells: when one is damaged all feel the impact. Civilization will never alter until all of us realize that harmony of life will never be attained as long as one part of civilization is at loggerheads with another. While it may take ages to bring human life in accord with universal brotherhood through the application of the law of love, the immediate response of people to the many disasters which assail the world gives evidence that the law of love is operative. This opening of hearts to the suffering of others is a natural working with the divine intelligence in the universe.
In order to experience this feeling of brotherhood one has to practice it in daily life, which is especially hard to do with some of the characters we come up against whose behavior hardly speaks of love and tolerance but rather of hate, vindictiveness, carelessness, and indifference. Still, it is by example only that the message of love and tolerance eventually goes home: the constant presence of a compassionate example must make some impression, a warming of the heart.
Scientific thought is inclined to admit the physical unity and common origin of all beings, but most scientists think that we perish after one life on earth. How can the ideal of brotherhood be maintained on such a basis? Many people are prepared nonetheless to sacrifice themselves in the service of others and, though they would deny this, their noble acts are proof of the influence of their spiritual selves. Where do we get our mental and spiritual capacity from? We realize, when we think upon this, that we get our spiritual development from all the previous lives we have lived. We also realize that it is our spiritual development which is the most important part of our lives. It is in fact our spirit -- the god within -- which dictates, or should dictate, our behavior towards our fellowman.
If we are to progress along spiritual and not merely materialistic lines, the practice of brotherhood will become even more necessary as we go forward into the 21st century. The human races are becoming more intermingled due to improved transport facilities, making the living of brotherhood an urgent necessity. This is particularly apparent where an ethnic community is intent upon setting up its own way of life and insulating itself against all other lines of thought. While we have no wish to force others into our way of thought, we may still have an earnest desire to bring about the brotherhood of all, irrespective of color, race, or creed. The great question that faces every thoughtful human being is: How can this be accomplished? A writer in Sunrise gives a hint:
"Why not begin by searching for the common ground among people of different beliefs? This could bring about a cross-fertilization of ideas and approaches that could stimulate a more widespread practice of brother-hood. At this most important time of cyclic change it is our duty to renew the commitments in our hearts to work towards universal understanding, love, and peace. Nothing, not even the smallest act, goes unrecorded. Through our thoughts and through our actions we can help uplift the whole of humanity."
Theological doctrine and dogmas have caused separation of religion, science, and philosophy, a separation of man from nature and the divine, of one religion from another, of nation from nation. Fortunately we see a breaking down of barriers and a mixing of ideas between different peoples so that a feeling of brotherhood begins to stir amongst nations and humankind. We are beginning to think and be conscious of our obligations and duties towards our fellow men. One thing is certain: there is a human commitment to universal nature which cannot be divided, for all its lives make up a complete whole. Knowledge of our deep bond with nature -- and that everything affects everything else -- is a step toward complete realization of brotherhood.