Given in The Temple by Eleanor L. Shumway, Guardian in Chief, on January 13, 2013
The New Year begins. Many of us turn to making resolutions to guide us through the time ahead. We have such guidelines in our teachings in great abundance and I want to share some of these this morning.
The lessons in The Teachings of the Temple are given to us by the Masters in many guises. Some are presentations of great truths, others are expressions of Their love for humanity, and still others are filled with metaphor and poetic expression as a means of showing what must be done by each of us to take the next step in our unfoldment.
The latter is so clearly expressed in the lesson entitled, “Closer Cooperation With the Oversoul.” Through the metaphor of house cleaning, the Master tells us what must be done individually and collectively that we may take the next step together.
I will explore this lesson with you, much as Harold did with me many years ago. I will never forget sitting with him as we talked at length about the lesson. With my proclivity for cleaning and order, it appeals strongly to me.
The Master begins by suggesting, “Try to understand the meaning of what you are going through.” Note the word try. Not must, should, or you will but try. In other places we read that it is in the trying that we generate a force that the Masters use in Their work throughout the world. This request implies a partnership and contained in this lesson are definite instructions on what to do on this journey through life. This will help us to rediscover the sacredness and freshness in the teachings, ceremonies and rituals in our Temple life, and indeed in our everyday life.
He goes on to tell us “First of all it is a world condition in which you are involved and which must be borne in mind constantly if you are to have any intelligent outlook and be able to control situations or keep them within command.” How often do we lose sight of this in the personal minutia of everyday life such as taking out the garbage, feeding the cat, cleaning the toilet or fixing dinner? In Life we are given a major paradox: we have a personality through which we learn the lessons we must learn, and yet that very same personality can blind and mire us. Of course, we think the personality IS us, IS who we are. As always, we must learn to use it, rather than being used by it. We are discovering that personality is a tool to be used in learning the lessons of Life. As we do so, we must look beyond ourselves and see the world condition in which we are involved, whether we want to or not. The payoff is that by seeing the larger picture we can deal with the smaller one much more easily and with more insight.
The lesson continues, “There is a world house cleaning in process, a most thorough one indeed. Every room, closet, corner, crevice and shelf in every department of life is being overhauled.” Every room, closet, corner, crevice and shelf in every department of life… oh dear! What does this imply? Every department of life? Are we being told to clean up for some gigantic white glove inspection? What about my “stuff”, all of which is valuable, which I may use someday or which helps define just who I am? He doesn’t tell us to throw it all away, just to overhaul it. This means to handle it, put the Light of consciousness on it, dust it, clean it, put it in another place, or pass it along to someone who needs it more. This is on the physical plane, but this process is equally valid on all the inner planes. I will never forget how my mother taught me about the connection between the inner and outer planes when she showed me my messy bedroom and pointed out in a very reasonable voice, “If your physical environment is a reflection of your inner self, your real self, what does this mess say about you?” It must have said a lot, because all these years later, I still chuckle with her on the very few mornings I do not make my bed, or pick up after myself!
This lesson is very specific about what all the facets involved: including first cleaning the mops, brooms and buckets we will use in the cleaning process. “The very vessels and articles for carrying on the process must be cleansed themselves before the work can fully go on. Tubs, piled one within the other, but partially drained, must be upturned, scrubbed, scalded, sunned and made ready for fresh, sanitary waters, to be used lavishly otherwise.” In applying this metaphor not only to our physical environment, but our inner one inside our heads, I would ask what constitutes our inner vessels and articles, what are our inner tubs, what is the fresh sanitary inner water? I would suggest these things include an open mind, a willingness to listen to others and really hear what they are saying, a willingness to acknowledge that we might be wrong and a quiet certainty when we are in line, a willingness to modify our mindset when necessary, a receptive attitude, and a commitment to consciously working with the grand design of the evolution of matter, force, and consciousness. The fresh sanitary inner waters include the clear Light of Love and Compassion and a deep and abiding connection with All That Is.
The lesson goes on to say, “Here again care and wisdom must be brought to bear. Certain skill, born of interest, concentration and devotion to higher principles must be used rather than anything gained by outer skill and discipline [through] technical instruction or command.” Again I hear His trust in us and our attention to the higher principles of kindness, tolerance, patience, compassion and love which bring intuition into focus. He assumes we have that certain skill. Simply learning by rote, or because we have been so ordered is useless in the end. By using the key of intuition we open up inner doors that will bring us the solutions to the problems at hand. And if that solution does not seem to come as fast as we want it to, does it ever occur to us this is the time to acknowledge “not my will but Thine be done?” Do you ever stop to think the Masters DO see time in a larger frame?
In the next paragraph, Harold wanted me to seriously consider the applications and implications. We discussed them at length. The lesson reads: “For instance, rare articles are needing preservation in various places. Some are being destroyed by wear and tear, exposure to dust, climatic conditions and neglect. You have passed them by so many times without seeing, have brushed against them so repeatedly, have shoved or shuffled them out of sight or mind until tomorrow that it would be doing you a wrong to specify in particular just what they are and where they are to be found.” Rare articles in need of preservation? Things? yes, for example, did you realize that perhaps the plain, nondescript green vase that occasionally you move from one side to the other when dusting, is a rare Roseville pottery vase deserving of a place in a museum collection? And I thought our Roerich painting was just an old badly framed calendar picture! But what about the stuff inside our heads? How about the mechanical repetition of mantrams or Temple hymns? How about zoning out during the noon service or during a talk by someone with whom we do not agree in the best of times? Or taking for granted the close-at-hand outer signs and symbols of inner treasures as we look for something new and seemingly brighter. What is it that is hidden in those dry, familiar words that needs to be made fresh and sacred again by our attitude, rather than by a rewrite job?
Apparently we do this far too many times since He points out “You have passed them by so many times without seeing, have brushed against them so repeatedly, have shoved or shuffled them out of sight or mind until tomorrow that it would be doing you a wrong to specify in particular just what they are and where they are to be found.” He expects us to have the inner maturity to identify these things that are under our very noses so to speak and THEN do something about it. To me, in that expectation is implied His faith in our ability to do what is asked. Then He goes one loving step further when he tells us how to do it! “You must call up the activities of your own inherent mental faculties, your so highly important, so hardly achieved powers, and apply them where most needed that the reconstructive forces of the Lodge be injected into the work with power, rather than allow the straining of Their souls to find you in the dark.” Very plainly stated: you have it, so you will be held responsible to use it. In fact, it is a crime to have these gifts and NOT share them. Open those doorways between the Lodge and yourselves so no energy is wasted trying to find you in the dark. The wise use of energy is of paramount importance in the Universe.
Instead of just shuffling along on the physical plane we are admonished to jerk ourselves into spiritual activity. This means to demonstrate the wealth of spiritual food we have by our very being, by what we do and say AND think every day, minute by minute. We can and must feed the hungry souls standing on every side but only through our “. . .own persistent, incessant, determined faith, courage and cheer; your positively promised knowledge that Light Will Come, the darkness will be vanquished. Power, Possibilities and Opportunity will be present. Patience and Endurance must be used unto the end, and in repeated new beginnings if efforts fail you temporarily.” Here it is again: try and try again. There is really no failure if we will but try it again, perhaps a little differently, but do it again and again. “Failure in effort is only temporary.” We would not be asked to use Patience and Endurance if we didn’t already possess them deep down in our very being. We may not care to acknowledge having them for fear of what we might be asked to do. Nevertheless, we cannot duck or sidestep the issue. We are being asked to use them, so therefore we do have them. Besides, nowhere is it written that life will always be pleasant and comfortable. It is always full, rich, rewarding and interesting, but not necessarily comfortable. Someday we will evolve beyond the need of being taught through pain, but we are not there yet, so we might as well look for the lesson in every experience and put our energy there. The paradox is, that as do this, the pain lessens, the joy increases, and we move deeper and deeper into our connection with Spirit.
The lesson ends by pointing out that each time we try to clean up our inner and outer acts, we find that truer and better beginnings are the result. Each time we renew our efforts we find greater and more efficient union with the Divine. This means we have put ourselves into closer cooperation with the Over Soul of the Human Race of which each and every one is an important part.
As we do this we find that we are in purer alignment and adjustment with the Master Forces of our lives. He tells us that by so doing we are in touch “. . .with the Great Lodge of which you are in reality a necessary and integral part, without whom can not be accomplished the complete and perfected work, which ever confronts you and the [human] race in all cycles of time.”
In this new year it is time to examine your inner and outer mops, brooms, dustcloths, pans of clean water and get consciously with the program of the “. . .world house cleaning in process, a most thorough one indeed. Every room, closet, corner, crevice and shelf in every department of life is being overhauled.” It takes courage, determination and strength. We would not be asked to do this unless a compassionate God knew we had it within us to do so. The rewards are immeasurable: The Light of Understanding and Compassion, the gold of the sacred within everything we experience, the inexpressible comfort of the connection with the Divine.
I will close with this message found in From the Mountain Top Volume 3, entitled “The Search for God:”
SEARCH where you will, in the cosmic heights or in its depths, for the God of your longing; you will never behold His face until it has been first pictured in your inmost heart.
When once you have beheld that face you will see it mirrored in every dewdrop, star and sun, on the wings of a gnat, and in the eyes of your fellow men and women. However brutal or distorted, however pure or beautiful those forms and faces seem to others, you will only see the face of God therein when you have fixed that pictured face within your heart.
If you could see the face of God reflected in the eyes of one whom other men had tempted to her fall by lust, could you turn away from her in scorn? If you could hear the voice of God in the plea for mercy uttered by the twisted lips of thief, or murderer, or wastrel, could you harshly sentence him to prison or to death?
Could you trample ruthlessly the wayside flower if you could sense the breath of God wafted to you in perfume? Or could you thoughtlessly bring down a bird if you could see God’s pleasure in its flight?
I say to you, No! for when you have found your God you shall know His measuring line was laid upon the garment Love was weaving for you.
Eleanor L. Shumway