The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
November 2003 Vol. 6 Issue 9
Occultism, or the science of hidden things, deals with human nature and if you can find anything more comic than human nature, well, I ask you! Take for example what one may easily regard as a sixth sense -- our sense of superiority. It is the one sense that is developed to the nth degree in every one of us. I don't believe many people could endure them-selves or the facts of human living for a single day without being able to lean on the prop of their own superiority over that part of the human race that they are obliged to contact.
A perfect example of the action of this sense concerns one of the antics of my own ego. I was young and afflicted with that peculiar hardness which belongs to the very young of all climes and eras. I was riding in an old-fashioned street-car where the seats ran longitudinally down each side and all the passengers sat facing one another. The car was well filled. Nearly opposite me sat an overemphasized member of my own sex crowned by -- certainly not by anything that could truthfully be called a hat! No -- she was sporting a millinery confection, monstrous and unbelievable. Her middle-aged complexion would not tolerate this outrage. And that is just what I was thinking, gazing at her more in sorrow than in anger, when I happened to catch her complacently roving eye. I had not time to shift my horrified eyes, but to my amazement she not only bridled, but smirked. It was as plain as can be that she believed me transfixed by envy!
So there both of us sat, ridiculous exclamation points to the delusion of our own superiority. And I have no doubt that anyone reading this is smiling at us both, tolerantly. If so, pause and corrugate the brow for a moment, dear Reader. For what is this toleration of yours after all but an infatuated sense of your own superiority to such absurdities? Whenever we find ourselves tolerating someone, let us realize that such toleration is preposterously intolerable. Only be sure we do realize it. In other words, let us practice real brotherhood and avoid the secret, self-satisfied smirk. For true laughter is directed always and only against ourselves. Is not this really one easy way by which each of us can transmute his self-justifying nature into the diamond heart? -- Leoline L. Wright
On October 25, the Northwest Branch participated in the first Eastside Interfaith Diversity Fair (special thanks to Lyn Lambert for informing us about it). The all-day event at Bellevue Community College was organized "to bring the diverse local spiritual communities together to learn to understand one another, respect one another, and celebrate one another's richness and individuality." There were educational displays by representatives of eight major faiths, and over a dozen smaller displays by interfaith and other organizations. Events included musical and dance presentations, workshops, food, and children's activities. The keynote speaker, Jawad Khaki, had received a Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award in May. In his acceptance speech in June in New York City, he said in part:
"I envision an America that with its rich tapestry of pluralism incorporates all ethnicities and religions. I envision an America that inspires not only those just within its borders but all those who inhabit this troubled planet of ours.
"But it is by action and not just words that we inspire others. Each one of us can take these simple actions. It could be as simple as sharing a cup of coffee with a person of a different background. It could be inviting someone from a different faith over for a meal to enhance our understanding in building lasting bonds of humanity. It may even mean signing up for and enlisting our colleagues, our neighbors, to swing a hammer, to install a roof where one does not exist. Most importantly, most importantly, it is looking in the eyes of a stranger and seeing a potential friend."
He closed his acceptance speech with this prayer:
"Almighty God, give us the inspiration and strength to build bridges of understanding between humanity, moving us from tolerance to respect, from mere acceptance to love and compassion for all that reside on this planet. Our dignity is in working towards dignity for all in this global society. It is through open hearts and minds that we can effectively communicate and reach understanding, strengthening our bonds and achieving unity as we focus on common causes."
The atmosphere at the Fair was extremely harmonious, with a palpable feeling of goodwill towards all. Organizers hope to hold an Interfaith Fair again next year.
The Bhagavad-Gita Book Circle continues on Thursday, November 6, 7:30-8:45 pm, at Newport Way Library. We will be reading Chapter 12. The following meetings will be November 20, December 4 and 18, and January 8, 7:30-8:45 pm, at the Newport Way Library, 14250 SE Newport Way, Bellevue. Feel free to drop in at any meeting!
Directions to Newport Way Library. From I-90: Take exit 11A to 150th, turn right onto 150th, go up the hill and turn right onto Newport Way at traffic light. The library is a short distance on the right-hand side, visible from Newport Way. Turn right onto 142nd SE and then right into parking lot. From I-405: Take the I-90 exit East, then follow the directions above. A map and directions are available online at www.kcls.org/npw/direct.cfm.
In November our monthly meetings return to Bellevue Regional Library and "What is the Meaning of Life?" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: Why are we here? How can we discover the purpose in and behind our own life? What are the roles of chance, fate, and free will? Do we ourselves create the meaning we find in life? Why do we suffer? Do we have a touchstone of truth within us? What is the role of humanity in the context of the earth and its other lives? Come share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour. -- William Blake
After nearly fifty years of life the thought has come to me, as no doubt to many others: what have I accomplished, what have I done worth while; is the world a better place because I have used and occupied a part of it? By far the greater number of people have a desire to be of help to humanity, or at least to their own family and circle of friends; but most of us feel ourselves to be so limited in talent and ability as to consider our endeavors hardly worthy of results.
Science tells us that there is a great magnetic field completely surrounding the world, and this field is in a continual state of flux. Is it too difficult to conceive of a spiritual field also surrounding our earth -- using the term spiritual for the lack of anything more definite or descriptive? There must be a storage place or reservoir of some kind for the higher aspirations, hopes and desires, the unselfish thoughts, the sympathy and com-passion of all mankind. Can anyone doubt the expenditure of energy in the compassionate concern for a loved one seriously ill, or in the self-denial and sacrifice of parents for their children? These things are a form of energy. Science also tells us that energy cannot be destroyed. Then there must be some place for these unrealized energies, some state or condition in which they may be stored. Can not we call this a spiritual field?
There are few to whom it is given to be of great service and benefit to mankind. Yet it is recognized that a grain of sand dropped into the sea will eventually move every drop of water in that sea. How then can we know the far-reaching effect of a single thought or deed? It can be so slight a thing as a smile in return for a frown, a gentle answer instead of an angry retort, a helping hand when trouble stalks, or a sympathetic ear for a friend in need. No, we do not need to be rich to pay our share of taxes, nor a saint to help the needs of humanity. I believe that every unselfish thought or act, every benevolent, altruistic form of self-denial and self-control adds to this reservoir of spiritual energy; nor does it make the slightest difference what the race, color, or creed of the person may be.
I further believe that those who qualify may draw upon this spiritual energy, and that the amount withdrawn is conditioned only by the spiritual desire and aspiration of those who tap this source; and that every person who has an unselfish desire for harmony among nations that peace might result, contributes in a small but potent way to that end.
So let us not feel ineffectual that we cannot change maps, reform humanity, or make great discoveries. As the sea is composed of numberless drops of water and the shore is formed by a multitude of tiny grains of sand, so is our life made up of a vast number of successive moments of time. Each of these moments, within limits, is ours to do with as we please. Will it be a clear drop to add to the waters of our life; a well-formed grain to deposit on the shores of our consciousness?
This spiritual field is formed for the greatermost part by such as these. The important thing for you and me is not to save and hoard our energies for the supreme act of sacrifice or for the heroic deed of valor which hopefully we may do sometime in the hazy future; but to live our lives so that each moment of the present may, in degree at least, contribute to this spiritual reservoir or field. If all people could but in a small measure so live, mountains could be moved and seeming miracles come to pass.