Given in The Temple by, Eleanor L. Shumway, June 8, 2014
The abundance of wisdom we have been given through the Teachings of the Temple is overwhelming. The Temple has eight hardback volumes in print and probably enough material for five or six more. There isn’t a page we can open at random that doesn’t speak to us specifically about some aspect of our lives. The task seems to be overwhelming as we flounder about scattering these wonderful teachings in all directions as a beginning swimmer scatters drops of water to sparkle in sunshine while he or she paddles furiously to keep afloat.
Pushing that analogy a bit further, the new swimmer learns to be still, to use the water to keep afloat, to trust the water and him/her self and then, with self-discipline and experience, to swim using any one of a number of strokes. No one can learn to swim for someone else. No one can learn to swim without getting into the water and practicing. Through experience will come wisdom, and the disciplined ability to move around in another element with a degree of comfort, skill and trust in that element.
So it is with our paddling about in the element of spiritual aspiration as manifested by the Temple Teachings. There is an old cliché, “All roads lead to Rome,” i.e., all paths lead to God. And all those paths lie within each of us. Our responsibility is to choose and to follow steadily. We are told the surest and most rapid progress on the path is not necessarily made by the professed student of occultism. In the lesson, “Solar Family,” This idea is very clearly stated:
“Knowledge of occult terms and written opinions of others on esoteric subjects will notadvance one a single inch on the path. True inner knowledge comes only from experience. The artist, the musician, the inventor, the scientist and the artisan, gain this inner knowledge by devotion to their work or studies. However apparently great or lowly the duty–if that duty is performed in the right spirit, the necessary links are being forged that some day will connect the brain-mind with the soul, and open up to the mind glimpses of the infinitudes. Right work and thought along the lines of duty at hand, prepares in the aura, definite grades of substance that act as conductors or channels for inner and latent forces to manifest through. Right occultism does not require one to know the name of the soul in Sanskrit and several other languages, nor does it require that the memory be stored with the nomenclature of the seven spheres or lokas, talas, principles, etc. Right occultism does demand however, that the heart be set right–attuned to the great anthem of brother/sisterhood–and that the neophyte should realize more and more, that not a person, creature or molecule of matter in the universe, however apparently degraded, is unworthy of his notice and love–that all such must be redeemed some time–brought back to the source from which they have fallen.” We must never forget that we are irrevocably connected in consciousness with every person, creature and molecule of matter in all the universes and act accordingly.
In another place we are told that we, humanity, seek for happiness in other people, in conditions, in material objects and we find only temporary pleasure, then satiety, then disgust and despair. With telling insight the lesson comments on our very human tendency to be obstinate, insisting on doing it ourselves, “Yet no sage, no god, can prevail with man or woman to accept the truth graciously, and thus save himself or herself years of fruitless labor.” Each of us insists on learning for our selves the long hard lesson. But we can choose to learn it with Joy and Love and Gratitude because these are the building blocks of all Life.
We are drawn to The Teachings of The Temple by our soul’s recognition of the time, the place and unique opportunity for unfoldment at this time on our Path. It would stand us in good stead to remember that the soul is in reality a cosmic force and is of a greatness and power beyond the imagination of our personal mind. It has been building since the world began. We tend to have the idea that each one of us, with more or less trouble, drag our soul around with us throughout life. We don’t seem to have any particular use for it on earth but we know we had better take good care of it or it tends to get “lost” somewhere. The soul comes in handy at death–you just get into it–and away you go. Well, the truth is it is not you or me who has a soul, the Soul has you and me.
The lesson, “Center of Light,” tells us: “The soul is both practical and ideal. It is the Knower. It is the propelling force of all progress. Its power enables us to wrest from Nature her secrets; it arranges into forms the substance of thought for the inventor, the scientist and the discoverer. Flashing its light through the organs of sense, it enables the personal mind to judge, weigh, and balance the divers qualities in humanity and things. It enables the mind to follow the sweep of stars–to feel the Infinite. It is the Relator of God to each man and each woman.”
In another place, the Master tells us, “I say unto you, Follow me, (for I cannot carry you) and I point you to the mile-stones along the Path which I have traveled. You are at first fired by enthusiasm, and strike out bravely, crying out before you have passed the first mile-stone, ‘Give me something harder to do,’ ‘Set me some difficult problem,’ ‘Pour out Secret Instructions upon me, and you will see how quickly I can absorb them.’
“I say to you, you must conquer certain characteristics, you must purify your body, before it is even possible for you to become individually conscious of the Infinite to which you aspire; and I show you why this is necessary, even from a scientific or selfish aspect; and lo! your enthusiasm is dampened at once. I tell you that absolute Faith, not only in me, but also in those who represent me, is a necessary factor in your development along both psychic and spiritual lines, and endeavor to show you by correspondence and analogy, that the word Faith, as understood by you, is in reality but another name for one of the most potent forms of Energy in manifestation, and that its right application and use is essential to the evolution of certain characteristics of the soul. But frequently one of you revolts and exclaims, ‘that is very well in theory, but give us facts, let us see for ourselves,’ when it would be just as reasonable to ask for an opportunity for investigating the Source of Electricity, though the effects of both forms of energy are clearly demonstrable by means of material agencies.”
So here we are, brought to these teachings, and often brought to this geographical place, in order to take the next step on the path. We join the Temple because we recognize on some level that the teachings call to us. I have known some folks who join the Temple because they thought they could more easily get a house in Halcyon! But having joined, then the fun begins. (Of course it may depend on what one defines as “fun!”)
What changes occur in our lives when we join the Temple? More than ever before we are held accountable for our selves, a process which is better known as conscious Self-responsibility. We are now in a stream of action that includes not only our personal selves but also every other person, place or thing in our life experience. That sounds like a noble endeavor, but how does one translate “noble endeavors” into daily action? Our teachings are filled with references to “there are no little things.” As a human being, all of us are apt to think, “I can get away with it this time. It is such a small act, a small white lie, a sharp surge of anger that nobody sees that I can fly under the radar!” No such luck, the entities manning the “big grade book in the sky” never sleep, always notice everything, but, paradoxically, never operate with an attitude of bad or good, things are simply noted as an action or learning experience to be brought into balance at some point.
We have irrevocably pledged ourselves to begin the self-conscious journey on the Path. We are given opportunities to practice what we must learn, and at the same time we are tested on our performance. Then we get to do it again, and again, and again, and . . . until we finally make the correlations. We operate on the physical plane because we must, because we must learn to translate spiritual truths into physical plane actions. For me the biggest paradox of all is that we are asked to experience the physical plane through our personalities. However, we are NOT the personality, it is simply a tool through which the real person learns and teaches. In this process, we are asked to be kind: not just when we feel like it, but all the time. Be kind: not just in our group, but to all people everywhere. Be kind: not just to other people but to all manifested expressions of consciousness. That includes animals, plants, and the earth itself.
We are expected to think before we speak. We must question ourselves on the impact of our words on the other person. Do those words come from a place of Love or Anger? Do we remember what WQJ once wrote: “Anger ruptures the cohesion of the particles that compose the inner man/woman.” He is talking of what anger does to us, NOT the other person at whom we direct the anger.
We need to say the mantrams with regularity. Dr. Dower pointed out in “Letters of Light” that as we speak them, we need to “take the position that it is not the personality that utters them but the Divine Spirit in you, and that is a part of the God-head itself, and brings you closer to it in the right attitude of both humility and spiritual desire. By saying these mantrams over and over again you draw the force into yourself that ensouls the words; thereby you are helped.”
We are asked to help build the Temple on all planes. How to do this? Does it even need to be helped? What can I do that will benefit me, let alone others? We could speak of “little things” such as kindness, forbearance, acceptance, love, tolerance, and the whole list of positive attributes. I was calculating roughly that I have spoken at least once a month, over the past thirty years. That comes out to about 360 times I have probably addressed these qualities in some form or another! They are so important to my vision of Life as it is meant to be lived.
This morning I would like to speak of some other “little things” that focus on another side of spiritual life. One of these is the simple act of the offering of ourselves in physical form. How many times have we decided not to attend a class, service, or event in the Lodge based on the rationale, “I don’t get anything out of that service, gathering, or that speaker; or I’m too tired, upset, or out-of-sorts to attend?” Have we even thought of what we take to the service, gathering, or class and how it benefits the consciousness of The Temple? One might rationalize that if, “I am too tired, my fatigue will only pull the group down.” However, if we can make the sacrifice of attending, we might find our fatigue will be relieved; and if we could see reality on the inner planes we would find that the essence of our sacrifice enhances the group consciousness in a way that is many times the power of the initial fatigue! Of course, if we go with a martyr’s attitude of how wonderful we are and what a sacrifice I am making, we have defeated the power of the offering, and actually subtract force from the group. The paradox again! We must choose because it is the right way to do things, not because we will earn spiritual brownie points!
And let me emphasize that there are indeed times when the choice of NOT attending a class, service or event is the wisest choice we can make. We just must be sure of the real motive back of our choice!
A very wise man once told me to bring my fatigue, disgust, anger, discouragement, or whatever was going wrong with me to the Temple or class and lay those feelings on the altar and say to the Master, “Please help me!” (and do it without giving Him a list of HOW to do it). Conversely we must bring our gratitude, love, idealism, joy, and energy to The Temple or class and lay it on the altar and say, “I offer you my greatest treasures.” It is amazing what such choices can do to enlarge the group consciousness as well as our own. It will smooth out the surface of the day.
With the Temple teachings in place inside of ourselves, we can bring to every minute of every day the consciousness that all we say, do, and think is a sacred act, offered to All That Is. We don’t have to change the things we do as we make a living, raise a family, scrub a floor, or talk to a neighbor. The change comes in our inner focus, the very focus that brought us to The Temple. The responsibility of being a Temple member or simply living by the rules set forth in the teachings seems to be at time overwhelming, but it is met by a love and trust from the Masters that is awe inspiring.
This concept is expressed so eloquently in the message “From the Mountain Top” entitled YOU WHO WANDER
Come back to me, my child! You who wander – come, before fall of the night of life, when all enwrapped with dense shadows, you cannot see the way.
As deep has called to deep across the centuries of time, so have I called to you, and in your egotistic blindness every path save one, – the right one – pulls you farther from me, and I am compelled to stand still and see you go to certain sorrow.
The star which entices you is not the home you seek, nor can you reach the nearer star where I now stand, unless you now will take my hand and let me lead you home.
I do not threaten you, child of mine, but with my soul in arms against your foes, I plead with you to turn your back on all the voices of the night, and even though it be on sharpened rocks which pierce your feet, retrace your steps……and come back to Me.
This is a great partnership!