A New Season

By Anneke Simis

The hand of the cosmic clock registers the motion of the earth and sun steadily and accurately. We see once again how summer with its intense colors, warmth, and ripe crops makes way for autumn.

We have been able to walk or swim under the blue sky, or to lie quietly and dream a little. If there has been sufficient equilibrium between the things we have done and the talents we have applied to them, we have been able to recharge ourselves and to flow along in the fullness of summer. We can then face autumn with optimism and look forward to new activities.

I read with great interest an article in the NRC Handelsblad [The Netherlands] of 4 July 1998 about the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In The Evolving Self, he speaks of the phenomenon of "flow." Byproducts of a flow experience are happiness and meaningfulness. Happiness and a meaningful existence -- is that not what everybody is seeking? Csikszentmihalyi asked himself what makes people happy. To answer this question, he carried out lengthy research into the endless stream of experiences and thoughts that come to one in the course of a day. His answer is that by becoming absorbed in our work and forgetting time, we enter a flow in which we can be ourselves and yet interact with our surroundings, with reality.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow-generating activities include music, gardening, sport, caring for others, and work. They enrich the personality, and our preoccupation with our lesser self recedes into the background. He adds that this sort of happiness has nothing to do with the feeling of well-being that comes from eating or drinking, etc. It goes beyond what the French call le petit bonheur.

In Golden Precepts of Esotericism, in the chapter "The Great Heresy of Separateness," G. de Purucker warns us of the human limitations that can lead to rigidity and a feeling of separateness. Happiness, meaning, movement, and growth then give way to blockages, inflexibility, and perhaps depression. In very strong language, he points to the dangers that can hinder the path of spiritual growth. But his loving and practical tips inspire us to activate the best in ourselves. He speaks of the sweet fruits of self-forgetfulness and emphasizes the joys of impersonal service. In the following quotation Purucker gives us advice that can lead to happiness and meaningfulness, and therefore to the flow experience that Csikszentmihalyi discusses.

Tending a tree, tending a flower, looking after the interests of some human being, busy with your book, with your writing, with your machine, with your tools, whatever it may be -- anything that will cause you to forget the personal self -- helps you in spiritual growth, self-forgetfulness. -- Golden Precepts, p. 101

Taking an active role in society, studying and exchanging ideas demand of us a positive involvement and the realization that each of us has his origin in the common source of life. We are all one with the universe, one with the divine. With that thought, may we all have a fruitful new season in which we may mirror, however modestly, a buddha of compassion.

  • (From Impuls, newsletter of the Dutch Section of The Theosophical Society, September 1998; reprinted Sunrise magazine, October/November 1998.)

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