Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
February 2006 -- Vol. 8 Issue 12

Creating Our Selves

What does it mean to create our selves? Who are we? How did we get here? Either something greater than our selves created us; or we are a confluence of assorted things flung together fortuitously; or, as I choose to believe, we created (and each moment continue to create) our "selves." Through reincarnation and karma, via our thoughts and actions, we create ever fitter vehicles for self-expression. At the core of each of us is a spark of divinity which is our true essence. We are multidimensional beings composed of many interpenetrating aspects, from divine spirit to mundane body.

The most divine part of us gives birth to the other parts, each in its due course, during the great periods of time in which we have grown into the beings we are today. Through our thoughts and actions we have literally created the entire spectrum of who we are. As we enter each new incarnation we make our selves again in the image of our past intuitional, mental, emotional, and physical selves, with all our tendencies preserved as propensities and motives are neatly carried with us through each life and from previous lives. Because of this, the way we act, from initial thought, to tendency, to habit, molds us. If our motive is true and pure, unadulterated by personal or selfish gain, then we are heading in the right direction regardless of outcome. The Bhagavad Gita teaches us to not be attached to the results of our actions; to do what we believe to be right, and then to let go and let the karmic background solve and adjust the consequences. It is direction that is important, not speed. We must always be working for the right, for truth, regardless of how slowly we may approach the goal. If we try to forcibly assert ourselves, or if our motive is impure, selfish, or personal, then though we may seem to prevail, we will actually lose. Such a course will have taken us in the wrong direction, far from the path we are all inwardly seeking. We need to constantly check our motive.

What does it mean to create? To bring something out of nothing? Is that even possible? Surely that something would have to be inherent in that nothing, for even energy is not lost but merely transformed. And considering energy and matter as opposite ends of one continuum, similar to spirit and matter, the same applies. To create could certainly mean to mold, to shape, to form, as in to sculpt:: we take raw material and shape it into a semblance of something, or into a new shape or form which we conceive in our thoughts.

And what do we mean by our "selves"? Our body? Our soul? Our spirit? We have many aspects, which can be categorized into two "selves": an animal or lower self, and a divine or higher self. Our higher self is that aspect of us which flows from life to life and creates new vehicles for expression, from spirit down through the physical realm. Self-directed evolution has taken us humans through a phase of animal-like propensities or expression, which in many respects is still with us. Yet we ever strive by the divine within us to rise above the lower aspects and fully open our bud of divinity. We will the higher divine self to fully rule over the lower animal self. By our thoughts and the actions that grow from them, we send out waves before us, as it were, which shape us when we reach the point where we intercept these influences, which is the time when we may benefit most from the knowledge gained from the experience. It is through instilling this wisdom into our self that we grow and become ever more enlightened beings.

We shape our selves according to our thoughts, motives, and actions. If we work in accord with the ever-beneficial forward flow of nature, we become part of that equilibrating force. If we think and work counter to it, we get bumped around in the turbulence until through conscious direction we come to know the harmonic stillness that is Unity. -- Scott Osterhage

A noiseless, patient spider,
I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them -- ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, -- seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form'd -- till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul. -- Walt Whitman

"Creating Ourselves" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: Who are we, and how do we change and grow? What can we control, and how can we deal with what is beyond our control? What are the challenges and possibilities of self-directing our development? What role does self-knowledge play? Come share your ideas!

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
Upcoming Topics
March 16: Prayer and Meditation
April 20: Mysteries of Memory


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.

Theosophical Views

Who's in Control?

By Sarah Belle Dougherty
"Everything divine shares the self-existence of Deity. All that you call the world is the shadow of that substance which you are, the perpetual creation of the powers of thought, of those that are dependent and of those that are independent of your will. . . . You think me the child of my circumstances: I make my circumstance. Let any thought or motive of mine be different from that they are, the difference will transform my whole condition and economy. I -- this thought which is called I -- is the mould into which the world is poured like melted wax. The mould is invisible, but the world betrays the shape of the mould. You call it the power of circumstance, but it is the power of me." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a radical statement of the power of thought and self, and made over 160 years ago! Few of us feel so in control of ourselves, our environment, or our destiny. We are hardly aware that our essential being is dynamically creative, transcending the restrictions of space and time. Yet the experiences of mystics and other seekers throughout the ages imply that our inmost self is one with the Boundless, Divinity, God, the All -- whatever we care to call the unity which lies beyond dualistic conceptions. And because it partakes of this fundamental oneness, the mathematical point of Being at our core is one with the inmost self of every other being and thing. Moreover, it is one with the underlying creative impulse that brings forth the universe and drives the change and growth we see everywhere. If we could open our everyday awareness to this universal "self-existence" deep within, we would be able to draw upon its creative powers with transformative results.

Why do so few people make a serious attempt to do this? Instead of realizing our true selfhood, we identify with the superficial aspects of ourselves and focus our conscious-ness far from our spiritual core-self. The ego, with its self-interests, judgments, and sense of separateness, its emotions and opinions, is the star of our day-to-day drama. It consigns the rest of the world, and of ourselves, to the supporting cast, if allowing them on stage at all. This personality, formed so largely of habit and conditioned responses, makes choices that are largely predictable and determined, and allows us to float along on autopilot. Nonetheless, we can assume control of ourselves if we choose to. What holds us back? Inertia is a powerful influence, as is attachment to mental, emotional, and physical habits. Then too, taking charge of ourselves can often seem like trading an enjoyable, childlike state of irresponsibility and indulgence for a solemn, self-disciplined, unrelenting task. The examined life, while worth living, can seem like asking for a lot of extra angst.

Unfortunately, suffering and unwelcome change are the main agents that wake us up and get us looking around with fresh eyes, as we seek to figure out anew what life is all about and how to make wiser choices. Once we are motivated to re-create ourselves to some degree, what techniques can help us take control? While well-known and straightforward, most are also challenging. Thinking of others and finding natural and welcome ways to lend a hand is a unfailing way to expand our awareness. Especially useful in controlling the ego's excesses is keeping awareness in the present, rather than in the past or future, and seeking to live deliberately instead of routinely. Some people discover or generate exercises or rituals that embody and reinforce the things that matter most to them. And new ideas and inspiration from others are always available by reading, listening, discussing, or participating in activities that attract us.

Whatever course we decide on, slight or far-reaching, the most important aspect is practice, keeping at it despite the discouragements and problems that inevitably arise -- and of course that's the most difficult part! To overcome impatience and keep things in perspective we can draw on our sense of humor and the knowledge that we can only proceed step by step rather than arriving at our goal in one bound.

While we can't control what is around us, we can in time learn to control our thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Taking a different view toward ourselves, others, and circumstances gradually brings our physical and mental habits into line with our beliefs. As spiritual beings we can't help but exercise our will and make choices for which we are responsible as we continuously re-create ourselves, knowingly or unawares

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