The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
October 2009 – Vol. 12 Issue 8
Sometimes people seem to need conflict in their lives, and war between nations and within nations is just the enlargement of the petty squabble that arises from lack of tolerance, communication, compassion, understanding, and respect. If you go a bit further, it is clear that tolerance without understanding can still cause a great deal of tension. We have all come across situations in our lives that we have failed to understand, and where tolerance is really not enough. Tolerance by itself causes undercurrents of tension which can escalate and spill over into negative action. An unguarded thought and word can become an act of supposed retaliation. What do we tolerate, and what not? To what do we retaliate – or not? What do we understand or not? Is all tolerance positive? Is all retaliation and rebellion negative? What makes the dictator dictate? These questions provoke more and more questions.
Sometimes we can work ourselves up into a state of agitation that is unbearable, and that is the time of great danger, when we can lash out at everything and everyone. This scenario going on in our head is the beginning of war. The seed is sown, and seeds have a way of traveling on the slightest breeze and landing where they can flourish best.
So what do we do? I who am upset, angered, distraught at all the images that I see, read, hear about all the time, and feel so utterly helpless to do anything about? The suffering is just so horrendous. What can I do? The only thing that I can possibly do is see to myself. As a once-popular song stated, "It begins with the man in the mirror." I must stop and be still and restore the balance and harmony to myself. I cannot do it for anyone else and cannot force anyone else to do it. I must find the love within me and face the fear within me, for love and fear are two sides of the same coin. Fear is what makes a tyrant tyrannize. Do I then have the tyrant in me? If my actions betray my fear, then I must find the love and translate that into actions. Not easily done.
Have I become so complacent that it takes a war on the other side of the world to make me look at myself and the war that rages within? War separates people from their loved ones in so many ways. Does my internal war separate myself from my Self? And when we speak of karma, be it national, global, or family, we cannot separate it from our own, for all is one, and one is all. I found the following lines from Katherine Tingley helpful:
“There is but one true and legitimate battlefield: the mind of man, where the duality of our nature keeps us constantly at the only rightful war there is – the war of the god in us against the lower self. We should no longer seek to arm ourselves against our neighbors. Our whole care should be to protect our neighbors against our own lower selves. “The hidden truth about us is that we do love our neighbor as ourselves, though we have not found a way to express the love we do not even know exists. But it is there: the love of our fellows sleeps latent in our hearts with the deity that watches there. Though we are quite unconscious of it, our very humanity implies its existence.”– By Livija Evans
"This month "Peace and Justice" is our subject. We'll be discussing such questions as: What is the duty we owe to others? Are there responsibilities we have simply by virtue of our humanity? How do we balance our freedom of choice with other’s welfare? How much weight should be given to self-interest and how much to the common good? Do non-human beings deserve our respect? How do issues of justice and peace apply to our relationship with the environment? What can we do to promote these two principles in our own lives, in our community, and in the world at large? 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.
November 12: The Universe Within
December 10: Service to Humanity
January: Collective Consciousness
Few subjects have given rise to more talk, more trouble, more fighting than justice; and there is no easier occupation than that of denouncing the injustice in life! Many have been led to the conclusion that there is really no such thing as justice. Yet how could we object to injustice if we didn't have inside of us, behind the mind, a conviction that there is justice in life? Don't we all have a belief or feeling that each human being has some natural, individual right which ought not to be violated? We may take it as a fact, then, that there is in nature and in man a principle of justice, and that law and order are different ways of expressing the rightness of things.
In many ancient philosophies it was maintained that though each human being has a mind and has a body, he is a soul, a spiritual being, existing by right of his own innate godhood. The essence of justice is thus within us; and to achieve it we must constantly strive for a more perfect expression of our own inner nature. Many talk about expressing themselves, but they often mean only their less developed or animal nature. You can live according to nature – as a pig or a bird does; or you can live according to nature as a human being should. And when we try to find what is the real human being, we learn from all the old teachings the same thing: we are souls, and all souls are reflections from the one Light, separate in form but not in essence.
In ancient India justice was known thousands of years ago under the name of karma, and was made intelligible by the doctrine of reincarnation. The idea prevailing in the West is that we come from nowhere; against our own will we are thrown into this world, live, suffer, die, and then are judged worthy of an eternity of pain or of bliss. The whole scheme is utterly impossible and unnatural to any rational being; it offends our sense of justice. It is no use covering up by saying that the ways of the Almighty are inscrutable and that we must not question; the mind protests against it. Surely we belong to the universe and did not come unwillingly into this life! We must have been born, then, because of our innate desire to exist, and this same overwhelming urge is leading us back again and again to life's experiences.
I believe that what we are and what happens to us results from the workings of a law of absolute justice, that is, absolute in principle, for in operation the most precise principle may be interfered with. The law of gravity is very perfect and simple: a body will fall unless it is prevented from doing so; but the law remains unaltered. In the same way the law of justice is not destroyed by obstacles that come in the way of the natural working out of its objectives.
When we realize that law and order are the primary functions of the universe and that, since we are part of it, cosmic justice is the root of our own lives, the cause of our very being, we begin to see that there is system in life. Fortunes and misfortunes come to us not by blind chance but result from things that have happened in the past, seeds sown in other lives; and by the same token, whatever will come to us in the future will be the harvest of the present. Once this idea catches hold of us, we look differently upon those who do wrong, and are not so anxious to avenge injustice; because seeing a little farther, we recognize that they will learn in time by suffering for what they have done. It is inevitable, and we do not have to take charge of that; our task is justly and mercifully to reestablish the harmony that has been disturbed.
To restore harmony – this is justice; and we find the best laws of the wisest legislators aimed in this direction. The noblest minds are free entirely from the idea of retaliation and revenge. What is basically necessary is to help awaken the understanding in the minds of all people that in the heart of things there is law and order, and that we have but to assist this inherent principle to manifest in appropriate laws and customs. We cannot expect perfection, but at least we shall have this ideal towards which to strive.
So when we observe injustice in the world, we are simply recognizing that life is evolving and that we are in a state of growth in which imperfection is natural. If we wish to progress, we have to rise above that condition of mind which argues and reasons from the outside and get into our inner self, into our own hearts, and find there the reflection of that cosmic justice which is at the core of the universe.
The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves. – Eric Hoffer