Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
No. : 79 April 2003
664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162 AUSTRALIA
Tel.: (03) 9528 1001 Fax: (03) 9528 3907
Email : email@example.com
WWW Homepage : www.theosofie.net/australia/
ISSN : 0814-569
There is no time!
New worlds to sing in
Seven Jewels of Wisdom - Stefan Carey
Excerpt - Democritus
THERE IS NO TIME!
“How on Earth do you get the time to read all these books and know all this esoteric stuff!” - this is a comment that is often heard at our meetings The pressure of modern life, particularly, on young people, to get qualified and stay up-to-date with technology and the thousand demands of modern living are almost overwhelming for most people. Not to mention the distractions of TV, computer games and the Internet diverting one’s attention from spiritual matters. Surely, such a search is for the elite who have the luxury of the time and money to devote to such pursuits - they say. But is this the case really when you think about it?
It very much depends on how you use the available time as to whether there is ‘No Time’ or plenty of time and opportunities for spiritual searching. You have heard the old story of two thirsty men who were offered half a glass of water. One bemoaned the fact that he had only half a glass. The other said “Great, here I have half a glass of cool water to slake my thirst!”. We really have plenty of time for the most important spiritual exercise - living up to the best of ourselves and trying to see the best in other people. This is a matter of attitude rather than time and can be followed by anyone in any situation.
Going a step further, we can ponder on spiritual questions whilst our hands are busy with the other demands of life. We can put our spiritual reflections on ‘the middle burner’ so to speak, instead of filling our minds with demeaning or destructive thoughts about other people as we can often be tempted to do at work or at home. So you can truthfully say that there is plenty of time to develop the best of ourselves inside and that we don’t need a formal situation for this spiritual exercise. For this we don’t particularly need to spend a lot of time reading every book on spiritual ideas that comes onto the market. We have the core ideas in such books as the Indian religious classic, The Bhagavad Gita, and from theosophy Expanding Horizons or our new book To Light a Thousand Lamps. Here the core concepts of all religions, Brotherhood, Karma and Reincarnation are clearly stated. A wealth of questions present themselves for meditation and further exploration whilst we are immersed in daily chores. As HPBlavatsky said : “Read little, think much.”
We don’t need complicated courses in doing the natural thing! We need to practice removing the obstacles to the flow of the energies from our Higher Self through us - the flow of the ‘Tao” as the Chinese Taoists would say. Religion provides a focus for many people to feel and develop the flow. However, we don’t need formal religious rituals to practice giving ours energies to something bigger than ourselves and having this as our focus in daily life. HP Blavatsky encouraged us to forget yourself and “Live to benefit Mankind”. This she said was the first step on the path of genuine spiritual instruction. We might also say it is the last step, as our attitude at the beginning of the spiritual search largely conditions the directions in which we develop spiritually later. Rather than saying ‘There is no time’ for spiritual reflection and learning, we all have plenty of time and opportunity to live up to the best of what we are inside, and practice this no matter our personal situation.
A quiet hero : how often does it happen that we hear about good people quietly getting on with the job of helping others and keeping this troubled world going? At Dandenong Hospital in suburban Melbourne Thelma Sparks, their oldest volunteer at the age of 89, retired in February this year. Thelma epitomises the spirit of volunteers everywhere who sacrifice their time and effort quietly without any desire for recognition or reward to take a little of the burden off the shoulders of others. At her retirement function, Thelma simply said : “In life, it is always important to give something of yourself to others.”
Ankh Antiquarian Books : many people interested in Theosophy have a natural interest in the culture and religion of Ancient Egypt. Did you know that there is a specialist bookshop in Melbourne for books on Ancient Egypt and indeed many cultures of the ancient world. Ankh bookshop can be contacted on (03)9888.1990 or on the web at www.ankhantiquarianbooks.com.au.
‘Downshifters’ : a new study indicates that many more people are choosing to reject a materialist lifestyle and ‘downshift’ to a slower more spiritually rewarding way of life with less money. Research in 2002 by the Australia Institute indicates that nearly a quarter of adults aged between 30 and 59 have initiated lifestyle changes in the past 10 years resulting in taking home less pay. A Newspoll survey taken at the end of 2002 showed that 90% of such ‘downshifters’ were happy with the changes they had made. In the USA a study in the mid-1990s showed that 20% of adults had similarly made such lifestyle changes to earn less money and spend more time with their families, persue a healthier lifestyle, find greater personal fulfilment and more personal balance. The tremendous popularity of the ABC television show ‘Seachange’, which depicts the experiences of such a ‘downshifter’, indicates the appeal of this trend to many people in today’s pressured world.
NEW WORLDS TO SING IN
The following true story was related at a Headquarters meeting, but was originally placed by an anonymous author on the Internet.
When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our neighbourhood. I remember well the polished old case fastened to the wall. The shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother used to talk to it.
Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an amazing person with the name "information please" and there was nothing she did not know. "Information please" could supply anybody's number and the correct time. My first personal experience with this genie-in-the-bottle came one day while my mother was visiting a neighbour. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer. The pain was terrible, but there didn't seem to be any reason in crying because there was no one home to give sympathy. I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger. Finally, arriving at the stairway...the telephone! Quickly I ran for the footstool in the parlour and dragged it to the landing. Climbing up, I unhooked the receiver and held it to my ear.
"Information please," I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A click or two and a small, clear voice spoke into my ear. "Information." "I hurt my finger..." I wailed into the phone. The tears came readily enough now that I had an audience. "Isn't your mother home?" came the question. "Nobody's home but me," I blubbered. "Are you bleeding?" "No," I replied. "I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts." "Can you open your icebox?" she asked. I said I could. "Then chip off a little piece of ice and hold it to your finger," said the voice.
After that, I called "information please" for everything. I asked her for help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk, that I had caught in the park just the day before, would eat fruits and nuts. Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary died. I called "information please" and told her the sad story. She listened, then said the usual things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was unconsoled. I asked her, "Why is it that birdies should sing so beautifully and bring joy to all families, only to end up as a heap. She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, "Paul, always remember that there are other worlds to sing in." Somehow, I felt better.
Another day I was on the telephone. "information please." "Information," said the now familiar voice. "how do you spell 'fix'?" I asked.
All this took place in a small town in the pacific Northwest. When I was 9 years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend very much. "Information please" belonged in that old wooden box back home, and somehow never thought of trying the tall, shiny new phone that sat on the table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those childhood conversations never really left me. Often, in the moments of
doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.
A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle. I had about half an hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then, without thinking what I was doing, I dialled my hometown operator and said, "information please."
Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well, "information." I hadn't planned this, but heard myself saying, "Could you please tell me how to spell, 'fix'?"
There was a long pause. Then came the soft-spoken answer, "I guess your finger must have healed by now." I laughed. "So it's really still you," I said. "I wonder if you have any idea how much you meant to me during that time." "I wonder," she said, "if you know how much your calls meant to me. I never had any children, and I used to look forward to your calls." I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I could call her again when I came back to visit my sister. "Please do," she said. "Just ask for Sally."
Three months later I was back in Seattle. A different voice answered "information." I asked for Sally. "Are you a friend?" she said. "Yes, a very old friend," I answered. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this," she said. "Sally had been working part time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks ago."
Before I could hang up she said, "Wait a minute. Did you say your name was Paul?" "Yes.” "Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called. Let me read it to you. The note said, 'Tell him I still say there are other worlds to sing in. He'll know what I mean.'"
I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.
SEVEN JEWELS OF WISDOM : The Doctrine of the Two Paths
Stefan Carey - Melbourne
Though it seems that talk of Buddhahood is far away across the mountains of spiritual achievement, this ‘jewel’ refers to the quality of our daily spiritual efforts and therefore is very relevant to our lives now. Simply put it means this - do we pursue our spiritual efforts for our own advancement chiefly? In which case we follow the ‘Pratyeka Path’. Or is our principal goal service to others without a strong concern about how far we are advancing ourselves along the Path of spiritual attainment - the Path of Compassion. Theosophy advocates that we follow the Path of Compassion rather than the many ‘occult’ schools which concentrate on individual achievement and escaping from the plight suffered by other people in this suffering world of ours. The choice is ours every moment in our daily life and not just in the direction we give to our spiritual studies.
So what about a practical example of the difference between the two Paths. I would say that absorbing oneself in spiritual study centred on your own development and specifically designed to escape from the human condition, would be following the Pratyeka Path. Individuals on the Path of Compassion would not primarily be concerned with themselves, but rather would be doing whatever is necessary and at hand to help other people, the spiritual development and insights just come along naturally and in the fullness of time.
The Pratyeka Path has been described as one of “pure intellectualism and selfishness, eventual spiritual suffocation and obscuration”. If this is the case, then maybe we have never had an easier decision to make! I recall the story of the tortoise and the hare, one of Aesop’s fables. The implication being that in our haste for spiritual knowledge for the exaltation of ourself, the real goal is lost. Yes, eventually the Pratyeka Buddha will find the bliss of Nirvana that he/she has directed their power to achieving for so long. There they will reside for long ages whilst the bulk of Humanity catches up to their stage of spiritual development, but then goes beyond them in terms of spiritual awareness at the end of the active life of the planet. When we emerge for a new planetary Round of life experience, the Pratyeka Buddhas will also awake and be propelled into life experience again - but far in the rear of The Buddhas of Compassion who chose to stay with the bulk of struggling Humanity from which we cannot be separated forever. As we have been told by spiritual teachers repeatedly throughout the Ages, we cannot escape the Brotherhood of Man - like it or not, we are all part of one entity and we are bound to them even at the high level of Buddhahood!
More information on ‘The Two Paths’ can be found in HPBlavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence available from our library or bookshop in Melbourne. Next issue : the final part of this series :Knowledge of the Supreme - ‘Atma Vidya’
Excerpt from LUCIFER Journal Vol. 8 No. 43 March 1891
It is a great thing to be wise when we are brought into calamitous circumstances.
Repentance after base actions is the salvation of life
It is necessary to be a speaker of the truth and not to be loquacious.
He who does an injury is more unhappy than he who receives one.
It is the province of a magnanimous man to bear with mildness the errors of others.
It is comely not to oppose the law, nor a prince, nor one wiser than yourself.
A good man pay no attention to the reproofs of the depraved.
It is hard to be governed by those who are worse than ourselves.
He who is perfectly vanquished by riches can never be just.
Reason is frequently more precious than gold itself.
He who admonishes a man that fancies he has intellect labours in vain.
Our thanks and appreciation to the many friends around Australia and the world, who send their newsletters to us. We encourage you all to read them as they are kept in our library in Melbourne, or photocopies can be sent. They include : Impuls (Netherlands), Contact (South Africa), The Link (USA), Theosophy North-West View (USA), Kali Yuga Rag (USA), San Diego TS Newsletter (USA), Compass (England), Pashupati (Australia), Melbourne TS Lodge Newsletter (Australia). Also, Dutch and German language translations of Sunrise magazine are sent to us regularly.
Australasian TS Newsletter is issued three times per year in April, August, and November and is edited by Andrew Rooke. We can be contacted at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Australasian Section, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162, AUSTRALIA. Tel : (03) 9528.1011 Fax : (03) 9528.3907 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web homepage at www.theosophie.net/australia/ The current issue of this newsletter is also published electronically on our website and copies can be sent via email.
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