Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society

November 2008 -- Vol. 11 Issue 9

Lighting the Fires of Mind

What is it that gives us the power to change the world? It is our mind.  Ever since its awakening, human beings have been thinking, aspiring, exploring, and changing their lives. To scientists this awakening that happened so long ago remains an "unexplainable wonder."  Before it, we were innocent and irresponsible like preschool children.  But when our minds were set aflame with the fires of thought we were able not only to know ourselves and what was "good" and what not, but also to begin consciously to direct our own evolution.  Today this wondrous happening is repeated daily. Parents and teachers light fires when they stimulate imagination and start their youngsters asking questions.  Although commonplace, isn't it always a wonder when an idea suddenly comes in and illumines a problem we've been pondering?

"Lighting the fires of mind" is an intriguing expression. Lighting implies the inflaming of that which has the potency to be lit.  Fire suggests upward movement, change, combustion, transformation, whether this occurs to heat our houses, cook our food, light our study, or change our lives – and we do change our lives when we change our thinking.

Theosophic writers tell of great-hearted manasaputras or "sons of mind" from spiritual realms who incarnated among early mankind and instilled in the minds of those who were receptive thoughts that inflamed their mental faculties and, in degree, awakened their spiritual awareness.  Doing this, they not only impregnated individual minds, but impressed the thought-atmosphere of the earth with the archetypal ideas basic to civilized life.  These ideas embrace the laws of hygiene and medicine, of agriculture, architecture, celestial navigation, metallurgy, the skills of social and political struc-ture, jurisprudence, philosophy, and religion.  From then on, these ideas have been part of our moral and intellectual being, providing us with an instinctive sense of what is just and true in all areas of our lives.

Under the manasaputras' care and instruction the early human races learned much about the wonders of the natural and stellar worlds; learned how to erect cities and lay the foundation of cultured and technological civilizations.  Then, when they felt mankind could go on alone, these spiritual teachers withdrew their physical presence, remaining in the wings, as it were, ready to guide with an inspired idea.

What an ingenious way this was to protect their sacred knowledge from the ravages of time that has so mercilessly destroyed all that has been recorded on parchment and stone. The tenuous fabric of our minds endures through lifetimes: storing truths there not only preserves them, but keeps them available to every man and woman.– Eloise Hart

Ever since we had a mind that could respond to the wonder of starlight and the beauty of love, we have encountered the light and the dark side of human nature.  What is needed today is an expanded vision that reaches far into the past and into the future – a theosophic perspective that rejuvenates the spirit and gives renewed hope and courage to handle daily karma.  Assuredly, every life-spark throughout the cosmos is divinely born, each with its unique evolutionary potential.  Let us hold fast to the knowledge that we are first and foremost stellar beings, imbodying as humans for a sublime purpose.  A short poem by Emily Dickinson is wonderfully apt:

We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.
The heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the cubits warp
For fear to be a king.

– Grace F. Knoche

Monthly Discussion Group

"Becoming Completely Human is our subject this month.  We will be discussing such questions as: What qualities distinguish us as human?  How can we live so as to most fully express our positive human potential?  What practices and views are helpful?  What can we learn from the great people of the past?  Are figures like Buddha and Jesus fully human or superhuman? What would a completely human being be like?  In what sense are all human beings “created equal”? Is there a limit to our potential? What should our role be, as individuals and as a species, in society and as part of our planet?  Come and share your ideas!

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge

Upcoming Topics

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.

December 11: Agreement among Religions
January 22: The Mysteries of Birth
February: What Is Inspiration?
March: Solstices and Equinoxes
April: How Are We Connected?

Theosophical Views

Humanity Is Made of People

By Jean B. Crabbendam

Sometimes the goals pointed to by sages and teachers inspire and discourage us at the same time.  We know our-selves fairly well; we realize how far away we are from those peaks of spiritual attainment.  Still, there are signposts we overlook.  By exemplifying the teaching they propound, the seers and guides of mankind reveal attitudes that can be far more helpful in our daily life than the vast knowledge we might gain from a close scrutiny of metaphysical ideologies.

Who of us, for example, has not been thwarted by frequent interruptions?  If we are in the middle of work we consider important – work, moreover, that must be finished – and suddenly the phone rings or someone knocks on the door, what happens?  Perhaps these are superficial social calls. Isn't it easy to become irritated beyond reason?  We may even be rude in our efforts to shake them off, justifying our action by the importance of the task at hand.  But are we justified?

Porphyry, with some wonderment, described Plotinus in this familiar situation.  During long tedious hours of writing down his philosophical concepts, thinking as he went along, he had a constant stream of visitors – people who generally had no vital business with him. Instead of concluding that their casual calling was blocking an essential task and turning them aside as quickly as possible, Plotinus put down his pen, welcomed them warmly, gave of himself as long as they wished, and only then returned to his labors.  Obviously, as he saw it, his guests, whoever they might be, unfailingly represented his immediate duty; the treatise could wait.

Jesus was chided for giving comfort to various persons whom his followers considered unworthy of attention and concern.  We all know his reaction: no one was ever turned away.  Years ago I came across these words by W. Q. Judge:

“You dislike to be interrupted. You have decided to sit down and write or read on some useful subject.  A person comes who perchance happens to be a bore or who is not agreeable personally to you.  First, you do not wish to have your fixed object laid aside, and, second, you dislike being bored.  Both these are solely personal.  In this case – unless of course some pressing duty to others requires you to go on – you should at once mortify the personal self by dropping the reading, writing, or whatever it is, and attend to the wants of the other person.  Judgment must be used.  But there will be every day and in all places opportunity after opportunity to pursue this practice. It is the giving up of yourself.”

This passage carried great impact, for the advice was exactly opposite to my own views and behavior.  I decided to try it out.  The understanding gained through the interchange of ideas, problems, and reactions in general conversation, with any individual who came to me – whom I no longer inwardly turned away – proved a gift of inestimable worth, to say nothing of being released from intense frustration.

Every system of religious thought asks that we trust implicitly in some divine Intelligence. This implies that there is meaning in everything, not excluding the events that happen to each living thing in the universe, from moment to moment, from age to age.  If ours is a universe of cosmic law and order (and evidence certainly supports this theory), then there can be no accidental happenings; there is purpose in every contact we make with other individuals, whenever and wherever this occurs.  There are extremely subtle currents flowing in the sphere of personal relationships.  A "chance" remark by a friend or stranger has the power to change the course of our lives.  And we may unconsciously give others a new outlook that will help them at just the right time.

We have been told: "Seek and ye shall find." Possibly we search too far afield, imagining that spiritual understanding comes only with thundering drums.  Might not enlightenment come in the wisdom of a child's observation, a neighbor's trials, an example of human courage?  These are little things, but the fullness of our lives is made up of just such moments of awareness.  Aside from the fact that we could not long endure a constant leaping from crisis to crisis, it is in the quiet times in between that we garner the strength and stability to meet whatever comes, regardless of its magnitude. The quality of our relations with others plays no small part in this.

We are inclined to become so mentally occupied with the intricacies of religious and philosophical doctrines that we largely ignore, or toss aside as mere ethics, many basic principles that could supply us with the answers necessary to successful living. The often understated teaching involved with the reality of inner ties that bind humanity together is an example.  Yet could we not spend a life pondering the impli-cations contained in the expression "Love ye one another"?

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