Given in the Temple by Eleanor L. Shumway, Guardian in Chief, Sunday, September 9, 2012
Living The Paradox (or: Am I confused Yet?)
The word, paradox, can be defined as an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises. Having spent my professional life as a teacher checking papers, the answer is supposed to be either right or wrong, and yet I always knew that there were other arguments my students could advance. So I have struggled with paradox, not only professionally but prsonally. The more I study the Temple Teachings, the more I understand the Master’s statement that two diametrically opposed methods of action can possibly both be right. Let us explore paradox a bit.
The Temple Teachings on the one hand tell us we must live together to prepare a place where the over shadowing Christ can come to bring the message the world has waited for so long. On the other hand, we must “Love Thy Neighbor,” while enduring the sandpapering that we must do to and for each other AND don’t take any of it personally! Some of us are also asked to live at the Center, with a particular assignment under the intensities of the forces that flow through such locations. A nice place to live? yes. A cauldron? yes. A fish bowl? Sure. A tightly knit community of group hermits? That, too! The forces here at the center work on the shadows in our own nature to a degree and intensity that is often uncomfortable. We cannot prepare a physical place of quiet, calm, and peace until we have established those conditions within our own souls and hearts, and then, most importantly, in our physical lives. It doesn’t happen just through material activities such as painting, remodeling, or rearranging stuff, although these things definitely have their proper place. The preparing of that place for the Avatar paradoxically comes in the moments of conflict, of confusion, and disorder. For it is in the choices made in the heat of those moments that we build, little by little, that inner place of peace.
Does this mean we should always be a Pollyanna, seeing only goodness and light? No, we are human after all, and emphatically charged to learn to become fully, consciously, human, seeing both sides of every situation, with an awareness of our connection to everything in the universe, and especially our connections to our selves and to our neighbors. The Golden Rule is not child’s play. It is a serious assignment, demanding everything we have interiorly to manifest the action of that Golden Rule onto the physical plane.
A wise man once told his chelas, “God spoke to man, saying there are many veils between man and God, but there are no veils between God and man.” Our job is to remove the veils, one by one. We are told we are drawn to the Temple by choices made at the soul level, responding to the Master’s call. We get here and, all too often, we attempt to change Halcyon and The Temple according to our own lights, and when it doesn’t change at the speed, or in the direction we personally desire, we project the blame onto our neighbors, The Temple, or other outside circumstances. Is self-responsibility needed here, by chance?
The very forces that brought us here are operating to test our staying power, to help us burn the dross from our lower natures and to nurture us, if we could but understand that. At best, it takes a lot of heat from those spiritual fires before we begin to even dimly see a larger picture. The farther we progress on the path the more and more subtle the tests become, always testing the individual Dweller on the Threshold.
When we draw a line between Temple members and non-Temple members anywhere we turn our back on God, hanging up a veil that obscures our clarity of vision. And yet we are told that joining the Temple, and especially the inner orders, is an irrevocable step in which we pledge to consciously continue the spiritualization of our beings, for indeed we have been working on this process for a very long time. At this point of consciousness a different kind of testing begins, and becomes much more subtle. Such a paradox! It is a privilege indeed to be a part of this organization of service; and yet The Temple of The People is symbolic of the Temple of Humanity, and the Temple of the Universe. It is not an elitist club, excluding anyone or anything.
Our assignment is The Golden Rule: “Do unto others . . .” There is no mention of which kind of others: members, nonmembers, black, white, yellow or brown, old, young, drinkers, nondrinkers, slobs or neat-nicks, the list is endless. Everyone is “others”. Think of the magnitude of that simple word, “others”. We have to learn to live TOGETHER with all the conflict, all the glory, all the sorrow, and all the joy that implies. I cannot tell you what to do in each circumstance, I can only point out the general direction and have faith that the way you work it out will be the wisest for you, trusting that you will fit your individual way into the fabric of the whole, those many wholes that include your self, your family, your neighborhood, your physical AND spiritual community, your county, your state, your nation, and your world. The concentric circles about each one of us spread out, out, out; intersecting, overlapping, interweaving a magnificent whole; while the challenge, or paradox, is to avoid getting to the point of jealously guarding our own personal pattern to the exclusion of any one else’s pattern.
Our outer physical environment is an expression of our inner environment. Absolutely everything and every event is tightly connected. As we take pledges to our Higher Selves in each new step on the Path, we set into motion certain Laws of Life. It may look like we are getting away with something or arranging things to suit some personal agenda, but sooner or later, slowly but inexorably, the Higher Law demands an accounting to restore the balance of the Divine Pattern.
Usually at that time, our lower self swings into frantic action, projecting all sorts of stuff onto our mates, our families, our neighbors, onto any visible target, even onto ourselves as “bad” people. The premise seems to be, “better the familiar darkness than the unfamiliar Light.” But the wonder, the glory, the saving grace, is that our lower self is not all we really are. It is only the vehicle through which we gather life experiences. We can take that small “self,” into the arms of our hearts, comfort it, quiet it, reassure it, and help it to understand that the next small step is right and true, and that we can learn to take those steps together. It is a matter of listening. The listening doesn’t have to be intense periods of meditation, it doesn’t have to be in quiet Nature places, though both meditation and Nature have much to teach us. The listening is a state of inner awareness, of being alert for that small still voice. That voice does not pound on the door of our consciousness. It waits quietly with downcast eyes for us to notice, to listen, and to act.
We are being trusted by the Law to notice, listen, and respond appropriately. The fact that we were drawn to these teachings means that we are already fitted for the responsibility to live them every day in every way. We have to know with every fiber of our being that we are so fitted. We cannot be like the man who said, “Vitamins are no good, I tried one once and it didn’t help me at all.” The vitamins on the spiritual path work just like those on the physical plane. Taken regularly with right habits of living, they enhance life, giving it a richness, a depth of dimension that takes your breath away with the glory of it all. But it is not a one-time shot, administered by Master in a doctor’s coat. We have the responsibility of daily, hourly, self-administration, thereby enriching not only our own lives, but all the lives around us. What a simple task, what a paradox, what an awesome task….but if we weren’t up to it, we wouldn’t be here. . . . . . .What are we going to do about it?
What are we going to do about it? What can we do about it? I see a few simple steps, the first of which is to lighten up. LIGHTEN up our material lives of things, for each physical thing has an energy that either pulls on us or lifts us. LIGHTEN up our mental things. Our brain minds drive us unmercifully and we need to take a deep mental breath and decide on who or what is running our show, the real self or the brain mind. LIGHTEN up our psychological selves. See our strengths and rejoice in them, savoring who we really are instead of heaping ourselves with recriminations on who we are not or should be. A very wise lady once said, “Getting rid of ‘should’ and substituting ‘could’ helps to build into our consciousness the concept of choices.” We slowly develop the faith that we not only can choose, but that we are learning to choose wisely through experience.
LIGHTEN up our concept of time and learn how much time pressures us. Facing the pain of living in today’s world, we numb our consciousness by driving ourselves to do more, more, more, until we, in truth, are spinning out of control, while paradoxically congratulating ourselves on how much we are getting done, how much we are fixing. We become addicted to the cycle of pain, fix, pain, fix, until we forget how to break free.
We have forgotten that our real self is truly free, free to become One with God and all Good. Our God-given task is that of working hand in hand with the evolution of consciousness, specifically, our own consciousness. Master Hilarion tells us, “Consciousness is all that is. It calls with inner ether and is complete within itself, is the with-in-ness of all things, all life forms and without which nothing is. If master consciousness be called, held toward or regarding any person, condition or problem, master consciousness responds, for it is itself speaking within itself in Call and Answer. Each is inseparable from the other. If love consciousness be sent forth to any being or object, love answers, though it may not be known or realized immediately in a definite way by the answering point.
“The answer however cannot be withheld. It follows the law that nature abhors a vacuum. Answer and Call are one in themselves. It is the same as when a breath is taken by the body, air is drawn in. Or while outdrawing a breath is taking place, the indrawing one has been set in action at the same instant. Hate consciousness manifests in the same way indicated above as do all the varied multiplicities between the two poles of love and hate.
“You send me conscious outreach and I am with you. You give your brother or sister conscious love and he or she is near. You give me doubt and I am far distant. You hate your brother or sister and he or she knows you not. It has nothing to do with form, time, or space. Through experience you learn to know and sense the signs of differed consciousness. You smell smoke, you sense fire. You see light, you know day. You are filled with fear, you watch for an enemy. You are filled with peace, you are in the Presence of your friend. You breathe the Fragrance of Sandalwood, I am with you. You are charged with electric prickings, the Lodge is imminent. You are penetrated by living fires, the Watcher is on the Threshold. Light rose perfume wafts over, the Great One is near.
“The responsibility implied in the foregoing need scarcely be mentioned, it stands in such bold relief. What we are in consciousness, that we are. The Call in Consciousness is the positive pole around which responsibility centers. The answer, the negative pole, follows and takes course in accord with the Call. It cannot do otherwise. Its power is dependent upon the Call, lies inherent within it. The Moment of Call is a Moment of Initiation to the one sending it out and a test to the one receiving it. Though the process of initiation seems indirect and far removed this nevertheless is identical in reality to the finest minutiae. The initiation consists in consideration of one’s brother or sister, one’s other selves, the lesser selves, the Answer, before and while sounding the Call. It behooves you who would tread the Path of Initiation to Call Truly if you would have Dependable Answer, Reliable Guidance, Safe Home, with Peace and Rest at the Last.”
Answer and Call are one in themselves; this is the Divine Paradox.