Thoughts and Responsibility

By J. W. Engelse

One of the most difficult questions that can be asked is: Who do you think you are? One might answer like the ancient Hindus, aham asmi parabrahma ("I am Parabrahma") or tat tvam asi ("you are That"). Isn't it true that everything we perceive is born in the mind? From the cup and the ballpoint pen we use to the houses we live in, all originated in the designer's or architect's mind before they were given their form. Is this not true also for our actions and for the words we utter? Don't these make the world as it is today, and isn't this the responsibility of all of us? In H. P. Blavatsky's words:

As mankind is essentially of one and the same essence, and that essence is one -- infinite, uncreate, and eternal, whether we call it God or Nature -- nothing, therefore, can affect one nation or one man without affecting all other nations and all other men. This is as certain and as obvious as that a stone thrown into a pond will, sooner or later, set in motion every single drop of water therein. -- The Key to Theosophy, p. 41

This adds another dimension to our daily responsibility. If we earnestly wish to do something about it, then we must set our alarm clocks five minutes earlier, and use that time to try to feel at one with Parabrahma, That, or our higher self -- only for a few seconds in the beginning. We might do the same before falling asleep. Then we might try to find another moment during the day, and so on. At last after many efforts we could stay in touch with our higher self while we were doing our jobs all day, be it in the office, in a shop, or washing the dishes -- something in the background, a kind of sound or feeling perhaps. In so doing we add the quality of thoughts to the reservoir of higher thought humanity so desperately needs.

In the same vein, we need not look at the TV news or read the daily papers too intensely; they cover only the sensational, composed of thoughts that benefit nobody. What is really important for the improvement of humankind and the earth -- and ourselves as a byproduct -- is not in the news and the newspapers, but the boy who on his free Saturday does the shopping for his invalid neighbor, the girl who babysits free for a family, the nurse who lovingly looks after the elderly or disabled, and thousands of such smaller and greater sacrifices. These keep our world turning.

In a way, each of these acts makes our lives easier, and makes it easier also to make difficult decisions; every such act strengthens our feeling of trust and confidence in the rightness of whatever happens to us, pleasurable or unpleasant. It then becomes part of our day-to-day thinking that all that happens to us is right, from red traffic lights to illness, and even worse. Walt Whitman said it so beautifully: "What will be will be well, for what is is well." We need not be afraid of anything that comes on our path: we need only accept it in as positive and cheerful a way as we possibly can -- actually our thoughts are all that happens to us.

It is the time for action. Nature will take care of herself -- holes in the ozone layer, pollution, and everything else -- if and when we start to take care of our thoughts and act accordingly.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Theosophical University Press)

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