The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
October 2004 Vol. 7 Issue 8
Every season reveals something of nature's divine genius, and opens doorways in our consciousness to the spiritual promise that lies ahead. The seasons are also qualities expressive of the rhythmic flow and ebb of life. Their beauty suggests they are but reflections of what is going on of far greater moment on inner planes. It has long been known that at the four sacred seasons -- the winter and summer solstices and spring and autumn equinoxes -- stronger spiritual energies can be felt by those who are receptive.
At the autumn equinox, "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness," advanced human beings, through eons of discipline have earned the right to experience death self-consciously, traversing the planets and the sun itself. Those rare souls who return have conquered death and give up their nirvanic rest to help humanity. In our present human stage tests of character and of inner strength come to us constantly in what we may call daily initiations. These are still all that we can safely handle; more than this requires a preparedness beyond anything we can now imagine. Yet prepare we must, continually, for preparedness is fundamental in nature and therefore in our own lives. In the long-range picture we are gods in the making.
During autumn, the inbreathing phase of the year, extensive preparations are taking place behind the scenes: trees transfer more and more sugar into sap to thicken it before the onset of winter's cold; squirrels gather nuts for the lean months, and some insects crawl into the earth or spin cocoons. Such foresight is an indication of intelligent planning and gives one confidence that the safe road toward spiritual advancement is the slow and steady one. -- Ingrid Van Mater
For several years a young niece would travel 1800 miles from her home to ours to stay months at a time with our family. Joyce wasn't the same age as our girls, but had that rare quality of fitting in with everybody. She was happy and carefree, and always saw the humor in things; in fact, never once do I recall her "losing her cool" over anything.
Although deep down she was a compassionate person, she didn't show it outwardly, and often when hearing about another's mishaps, she'd just shrug it off and say "It's his own fault!" After saying this once too often to my feeling, I jokingly told her I hoped nothing terrible ever happened to her because if it did, we'd just consider it to be "her own fault." Never in my wildest imagination did I dream those words had a ring of prophecy to them . . . and I hope Joyce never recalled them.
Joyce, who was the picture of health with seldom even getting the common cold, suddenly became very tired and listless. The grim news came soon enough -- Joyce had acute lymphocytotic leukemia and was immediately isolated for treatment. I had the privilege of being with her on the last day of her life on earth. One thing she said that day I will never forget: "You know-something? I don't know why I got this disease, but I accept it." Not being a religious person in the orthodox sense, Joyce was certainly drawing such wisdom from her own inner source. Somehow she had "gotten it all together," and was accepting her circumstances without any self-pity -- perhaps even feeling it was "her own fault"? Being a believer in karma, I cannot help but feel that each person has that "still, small voice" within that is always ready to guide us through our trials. -- Trudy Rugland
October 7th we will continue reading and discussing the Tao Teh Ching by Lao-tzu. This month we will resume with verse 22. Those attending are encouraged to bring any translation of this classic that appeals to them.
Feel free to drop in at any meeting! Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
"The Infinity Within" is our topic this month. We will be discussing such questions as: Who are we? What are some practical approaches to self-discovery? Can truth be found by looking within? How do these findings compare with various scientific and religious ideas? What does it mean to say that each of us has an inner god, immanent Christ, or divine spark? If some aspect of us is infinite, why are we so imperfect? 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 do we mean by the inner god, the personal ego, the higher and lower self, and how do they relate to ordinary living? The inner god is the most enlightened part of us, active when we exercise the finest human qualities: tolerance, love, understanding, and compassion. Buddhists call it the living Buddha within; Christians, the I AM or the Immanent Christ. G. de Purucker says of it:
Mystics of all the ages have united in teaching this fact of the existence and ever-present power of an individual inner god in each human being, as the first principle or primordial energy governing the progress of man out of material life into the spiritual. . . . The inner god in man, man's own inner, essential divinity, is the root of him, whence flow forth in inspiring streams into the psychological apparatus of his constitution all the inspirations of genius, all the urgings to betterment. -- Occult Glossary, pp. 66-7
This inner god is the "eternal soul" that reincarnates again and again, an inexhaustible fount of life, intelligence, and consciousness. In a previous universal cycle it gained experience in every form of life then available, becoming in the process a "god." That universe died, and when it manifested again this essence issued forth as an unselfconscious "god-spark" in a higher stage of life. This crowning achievement of the preceding evolutionary cycle is the inner god. It is relatively perfect compared to the various "vehicles" through which it is learning in the present universal cycle. Just as lesser beings provide the means for it to learn, the inner god provides the means for them to develop and grow towards it. It is a dual learning process towards a higher state of knowing.
The lower self is associated with opposite qualities, such as self-seeking, narrow-mindedness, a limited view of one's responsibility to others, competition, separateness, and selfish ambition. It is the Dragon of the legend of St. George, the Minotaur of the myth of Theseus in the Labyrinth, and Darth Vader of Star Wars. While most of us, thankfully, are not completely absorbed in this aspect of ourselves, unfortunately neither are we able to retain the inspiration of the higher self for long periods. We are riding a roller coaster of consciousness between the two extremes, often seeming to have little control over which aspect of our nature is dominant at any time.
Great religious and mystical teachers have pointed out that it is our responsibility as human beings to overcome the temptations and limitations of the lower self and merge our consciousness with the higher self. Through countless minor victories we allow the spirit within to emerge from where it has been quietly waiting through the ages. We must strip away the impediments to the light of the higher self, which always burns bright within but too often shines dimly without. Plato described this process as "unforgetting" our way back to the inner fountain of knowledge and wisdom.
How can we, inhabitants of the technological world of the 21st century, begin polishing the mirror of consciousness so that our light can blaze forth upon the world? Having the spiritual will power to reach up to the inner god is of paramount importance, and no person or god outside us can do this for us. It is not suitable for the inner god to reach down to the level of the lower self, but for our everyday consciousness to constantly reach upwards. As Katherine Tingley often said, "The gods await." But if the inner god is so powerful, why is this task so difficult? The divinity within is like the sun, gloriously shining and all powerful in its own realms. But on earth its rays do not select this or that plant to shine upon. If we transfer a plant where sunbeams cannot reach, the sun will not follow it. So it is with the higher self: unless we gravitate towards it, the personal ego will have the upper hand. As William Q. Judge says:
The appeal to the Higher Self, honestly and earnestly made, opens up a channel by which flow in all the gracious influences from higher planes. New strength rewards each new effort; new courage comes with each step forward. So take courage . . . and hold on your way through the discouragements that beset your earliest steps on the path. Do not stop to mourn over your faults; recognize them and seek to learn from each its lesson. Do not become vain of your success. So shall you gradually attain self-knowledge, and self-knowledge shall develop self-mastery. -- Echoes of the Orient 3:288-9