The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
September 2005 -- Vol. 8 Issue 7
To fail is to achieve the unexpected. But it is still an achievement, however unintentional. There is no way of failing utterly.
Failure never comes at the end of an endeavor; it comes at the beginning. Inert timidity is failure; active courage is success. Meanness is disaster and defeat; generosity is already a victory. What matters in this context is not the outcome but the input.
An event that the world calls failure is merely the proof of having tried. It is a far more solid evidence of courage and vitality than success is. Success can come without trying -- in which case it is no more a victory than sleep is action.
I think the fear of failure is really something else -- fear of disappointment, fear of wasting time or toil or money, fear of ridicule. These anxieties are invented enemies, and they can't defeat us unless we use them as weapons against ourselves. We don't have to do that. Defiance of failure is a victory already. -- Neil Millar
What are hormones, the mysterious and marvelous agents in our body that we hear about. According to science, the well-being of our body depends on the influence of these chemicals. They are found in certain glands, which pour them into the blood and thus produce various effects on our body and our health. But here comes a difficulty: for science also says that the body manufactures these hormones. Now is not this very like saying that an engine manufactures its own steam, or that a dynamo is driven by the current which it generates? It is what logicians call a vicious circle.
Again, the same difficulty as regards life. Does life drive the body, or does the body make life? Is life the cause or the effect of our activity? Or are there two kinds of life, one driving the body and the other generated by the body?
We know for a fact that our thoughts and emotions influence the production of hormones in our body. So then, our thoughts produce hormones, and hormones drive the body; and this is understandable; the hormones may be an intermediate link between mind and body. People have speculated endlessly on how mind can act on matter and have never been able to imagine a connecting link between them. But as long as we begin by imagining mind and matter to be separate, we shall never be able to explain how the one acts on the other. The fact is they are not separate: mind and matter is an artificial distinction which we have made for convenience, but the distinction is not real. The only real thing in nature is spirit-matter, life. Scientists have discovered that matter, when deeply probed, vanishes into nothing but radiating centers of energy. Our thought is a form of energy, which transmutes itself into one form after another and finally manifests itself as physical or bodily energy. Also, it is equally true to say that our thoughts are a form of matter, which becomes denser until it is manifested as the matter of our body. Thus the thoughts and the hormones and the bodily functions and tissues form a continuous chain.
There are interactions between mind and body; each influences the other. By injecting hormones into the blood with a syringe, you can produce various effects on the body and hence on the mind. But however useful this may be in emergencies, it is not to be commended as a way of living. Thought comes first. Let us rule our thoughts by our will, and the hormones will take care of themselves. -- H. T. Edge
You have power over your mind -- not over outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. -- Marcus Aurelius
On September 1 we will reach the end of the Tao Teh Ching by Lao-tzu, picking up with verse 76.
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
"Overcoming Fear" is our topic this month. We will be discussing such questions as: What about the anxieties and worries in our lives: fear of being wrong, making a mistake, being unprepared, failing, dangers, sickness, death, national or world situations? In what part of us does fear originate? Is it ever a positive emotion? Why does it feature notably in so many religions? How can we keep ourselves from being controlled by fear? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
October 20: Mind --Trickster, Transformer
November 17: The Seven Jewels of Wisdom
December: The Inner Nativity
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.
Beware of fear that spreadeth, like the black and soundless wings of midnight bat, between the moonlight of thy Soul and thy great goal that loometh in the distance far away.
Fear, O disciple, kills the will and stays all action. If lacking in the Shila virtue, -- the pilgrim trips, and Karmic pebbles bruise his feet along the rocky path. -- H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence, p. 53
All of us know the torturing, restricting, paralyzing feeling of the daily fears which destroy so much: fear of being wrong, fear of making a mistake, fear of being unprepared, fear of failure, fear of old age, sickness, and death. While it is difficult to find the root of these feelings, I believe they are largely the results of experience over many incarnations.
Fear is a feeling of our human ego which comes when it is drawn down to the animal soul, when the thinker is governed by the strong feelings of its lower desire nature. Look at the consequences of fear: the body pours out hormones, the mind is veiled, all senses concentrate on the one point which could harm the human ego. In vain the soul tries to bring the person back into a human state of mind. Fear governs the person; it makes us incapable of doing what is reasonable. This refers not only to concrete fears -- such as a bus running us down -- it concerns daily life. We often fail because we are not courageous enough to take the necessary and right step even when we know what is right, because we are afraid of the consequences of our actions. We often fail because we do not trust our ability to finish the job due to our projections which make the ego believe we would look ridiculous or unprepared.
We cannot escape life's experiences once we accept that we have to solve all the problems lying ahead of us: we can-not go around them, we can at best postpone them. When we recognize that our existence is not limited to this poor life on earth and know that our innermost essence is immortal, we have a wonderful basis for future action.
But how can we approach the overpowering feeling of fear? This, at least, is clear: thoughts mold people. Therefore, we must use the power of ideas, of imagination, and above all the power of intuition, to free ourselves from the influences of the animal soul and turn to the spiritual aspects of our-selves again. As G. de Purucker says:
Love is a mighty power. Perfect love casteth out all fear. He whose heart is filled with love and pity never knows what fear is; there is no room for it in his heart. Love all that lives and you then ally yourself with invincible cosmic powers and you become strong and spiritually and intellectually clairvoyant.
You can overcome fear by visualizing to your-self actions and thoughts of high and noble courage. Think of yourself as doing courageous actions. Study and admire courageous actions in others. Grow to love courage, so that you follow it. Then you become it and fear will vanish away like the mists of the night before the rising sun.
. . . Men will be ruled by fear just as long as they love themselves; for then they will be afraid of everything that is going to happen -- afraid to venture, afraid to act, to do, to think, for fear lest they lose. And they will then lose. "That which I feared has come upon me!" It is always so.
It is the great men who do not fear, who venture, who act, who do -- for they are the doers; and they are also the thinkers of the world; because in either case they have no fear. They love the things that they do. Therefore they have no fear. -- Golden Precepts of Esotericism, pp. 118-19
The goal of evolution is a fully developed human being -- a god. All of us, even the smallest center of consciousness in and around us, will reach the level of a buddha and then move beyond. If huge or small fears hinder us from taking the right step, we must learn to overcome them. And everybody can do this for him or herself.