Given In The Temple, by Eleanor L. Shumway, Guardian in Chief, June 9, 2013
Many of us have computers, IPads, smart phones and email, Twitter, YouTube, and endless other social sites. Through all of these we regularly get inspirational, thought-provoking material sent by friends, as well as commercial sales pitches and other kinds of junk mail that can clog our devices. However, I have recently gotten some of the former, thought-provoking variety that made me stop and think about the message in conjunction with our teachings. I want to share them with you and then, using these messages as a springboard, explore some of our teachings, perhaps from a different perspective.
Halcyon is a village of 105, more or less. Take a minute right now and in your imagination, stroll through town, visiting with the community members, looking at the homes and empty spaces, getting a feel for the 105 more or less, of us. Now, keeping that feeling in mind, add this to your sense of our community: if we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth
1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
1 would own a computer
The following is also something to ponder… If you woke up this morning with more health than illness…you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are in a better situation than 500 million people in the world. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death…you are more blessed than three billion people in the world. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep…you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace … you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If your parents are still alive and still married … you are very rare, even in the United States and Canada.
If you can read, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all. When we consider our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent. I recently read that, ”Imagination is the capacity programmed into us to see pictures in our heads. It is spirituality’s companion, the window to the soul/spirit.” So, using the power of our imaginations we can populate our village with these statistics, translating the numbers into people, who are our walking, talking neighbors and what do we do?
These numbers set me to thinking deeply about our human family and our responsibilities in that family. At the very least, we must begin with gratitude for what we have materially, what we have been given as spiritual tools, and the Law that brought us to this physical place at this particular time. Not a simple gratitude, a sort of off-hand thanks tossed to God. Rather, I see this gratitude as a powerful force that fills every cell of our being, that pours out of our hearts, minds, and souls through every thought, word, and deed of every minute of our lives. Anne Morrow Lindberg once said, “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”
We may not be able to personally teach those two billion people to read, or personally feed all the hungry, but the “in kind” can be translated onto the inner planes through our prayers, our gratitude, our compassion. “In kind” on the physical plane might possibly be expressed through donating an hour a week to the local literacy campaign teaching one child, or perhaps donating to the relief funds we see constantly.
How is one effort by one person going to help? There is no evading the fact that the interests, the aspirations, the intelligence and the morality of any one of our human family are increased or decreased by every thought and act of every other person. We are united by a spiritual tie under the one head of the Great White Lodge. We are evolving together. So what you do, what I do, does help, or hinder, as the case may be.
Thomas Mann said, “The world has many centers, one for each created being, and about each one lies his own circle. You stand but half an ell from me, and yet about you lies a universe whose center I am not, but you are… And I, on the other hand, stand in the center of mine. For our universes are not far from each other so that they do not touch; rather, God has pushed them and interwoven them deep within each other.” We can’t really get away from each other, no matter how hard we try.
We need to simply love and go on doing what we need to do silently and effectively in spite of the forces of gossip, slander and personal criticism, doing the duties that lie at hand, without retaliation or even ill feeling. Through this we bring our circles closer and closer together in alignment with Divine Love. We are blessedly provided with the tools we need by occultism, which is the art of living. According to Sallie MacFague, faculty member at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill., the essence of art is taking the ordinary, familiar experience and giving it a new order, shape and form.
Since the beginning of time, the art of story telling, oral or written, has been the way we have kept a sense of who we are, of where we came from, and where we might be going. Metaphors, similes, symbols, parables, poetry, dreams, myths, legends, and fables, all serve to help us internalize Truth, and open us up to understanding and meaning. The imagery of story does not have to be explained, but rather felt or experienced imaginatively. Madeleine L’Engle once said, “We’re a mixed lot, but what a rich mix we are, and what material we provide for story…..story which gives us glimpses of truth which otherwise might remain hidden!”
And in her book, Speaking in Parables, Ms. McFague writes of metaphorical language as a “mirror of our constitution: the unity of body and soul, outer and inner, familiar and unfamiliar, known and unknown.” She further holds that metaphorical language “makes connections, sees resemblances, uniting body and soul—early, temporal, ordinary experience with its meaning.” In whatever form, story can be the bridge between eternal verities, our own inner self, and all the other units of the manifested world.
I want to share this story, sent by a friend in England, which has helped me make some important connections in my own ongoing process of becoming more fully conscious of the unity of all Life.
THE CRACKED POT
A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to his master’s house.
Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.
“I am ashamed of myself and I want to apologize to you.”
“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”
“I have been able for these past two years to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaw, you have to do all of this work and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.
The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered the old pot. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.
The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flow and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day while we walk back from the stream, you have watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without your being just the way you are he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”
MORAL: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots. But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. We’ve just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them, and there is a lot of good out there. There is a lot of good in you! Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape. Remember to appreciate all the different people in your life! Or as I like to think of it — if it hadn’t been for the crackpots in my life it would have been pretty boring and not so interesting. Thank you, all my crackpot friends.
Such a story turns us in the direction of the Teachings where over and over we read about the problems encountered when we dare to judge one another. As I was writing this talk, I opened Volume 3 of the Temple Teachings, and my eyes hit this paragraph which vividly describes the process of judging and giving voice to that judgment:
“The effect of calling attention to the faults of others is far greater than you know—or rather than you can remember at the moment. You do not sufficiently take into consideration the immense power of thought and of sound. For instance, you have a suspicion against some other person. You fondle that suspicion, and turn it over in your mind, thus creating the first live center of force. You then begin to try to corroborate that suspicion, sometimes by what the world calls underhand means. You then give VOICE to the suspicion which you have by this time decided to be a fact, and there springs at once into active life within your aura a center of consciousness and form, which is your own child. We will leave out of the question its effects on the first person, and return to its effects on you. That child which you have created, and given power of action to, remains indefinitely in your aura, whether you ever think of it again or not. The Karmic action of your fault returns to you through some one you care for, or who is attached to you, and who therefore receives your thought currents. The force of the suspicion you first entertained is sown in the mind of that person, the form you have created is reflected on his consciousness; suggestion awakes desire, and the first thing you know, the very evil you have imputed to some one else, comes back to you with added force through the one you love the best. That is the modus operandi, the Karmic action of both good and evil thought and speech; the evil is intensified because of the nature of the lower plane on which you most commonly function.”
All Life is one, and that same life is in those we hate as well as it is in those we love, so why hate ourselves? Love sent out and then returned by another, be it pet or partner, sets up a current or circle of Love through which the Divine can flow. Why do we, humanity, so constantly take ourselves out of that current? Perhaps one of the problems is that we take ourselves far too seriously. We need new perspectives to lighten our load, to laugh, to be joyful, to be merry, without hurting anyone in the process. It is not a question of “eat, drink, and be merry. . .” but rather of simply being, of allowing Life to flow cleanly through the channels of our inner most self, to laugh to God, and listen as God laughs back through us.
We might even gain a new perspective of where we are, what is the purpose of the rich diversity, complexity, and subtle nuances of present time, and catch a glimpse of the Light in which we are constantly bathed, if we will only open our inner eyes. It is worth the joyful effort. It is a wonderful perspective on all Life.
Eleanor L. Shumway