Rick London, Guardian in Chief
Given June 11, 2023
Blue Star Memorial Temple
While preparing for our first in-person Temple Convention in several years, I’m finding a sense of joy at the prospect of adding back the touch of sitting across from one another in conversation and while breaking bread together.
Back in June of 2009, following the May International Gathering held here in Halcyon, our Guardian in Chief Emeritus, Eleanor Shumway, offered these words about joyous living:
As we approach Convention, people have commented to the effect that we reached such a high place, did such a fine job in May, how can we top that? My response is that the May event was a gathering together of our Temple family and friends to learn more about each other and the work we do so reverently. We did indeed become living examples of the theme of the gathering, There is a Light.
Convention is, by its very definition, a convening or coming together on the physical plane at the same time the Masters convene on inner planes. Many of the people who came to the May Gathering from other places in the world will also be convening simultaneously in their respective cities and will add their force to ours, as we send it to the Masters to be used in their work. In turn, the Masters bathe us with their Love and support. Through this process we become energized and strengthened as we become the embodiments of the qualities in which we believe. We will blend the forces generated in May with the forces of Convention, giving us a strong basis for the ensuing year. The theme for this  Convention is Joyous Living. In the stress of everyday living, we sometimes forget that Life is meant to be joyous. Joy is a constant in the Universe; we can choose to participate joyously or not.
In the spirit of preparing for this year’s Convention, I would like to share two talks with you today. The first is a social science talk I gave at that 2009 Convention, entitled “Joyous Living.” The second is a thoughtful essay by Eleanor, which she titled “Pre-Convention Musings.” I hope you enJOY!
Theosophy in action is Joyous Living. To me, a verse from our “Hymn of Thanksgiving” sums it up very nicely when we sing, “Humbly and gratefully we raise, songs triumphant in Thy praise.” I am often reminded of this verse when rising first thing in the morning. For those of us who equate fun and happiness with joy, it can be challenging to imagine living joyously by simply endeavoring to realize humility and gratitude as living powers in our lives. The second half of this verse inspires my reverence for Love, Balance, Karma, my Higher Self and my responsibility for aligning my will with Thy Will.
From being in love, to maintaining mental and physical balance, to having good karma — all on the surface sound delightfully delicious to my hungry lower self. They sure taste like the right ingredients for a joyous life. Yet there are those of us who have soured on life after acquiring everything our hearts and minds desire, while some who exist on the paltriest basic necessities of life find the will to muster a soulfully contagious smile with the greatest of ease. Truly, patience and tolerance are the salt of the earth.
Being present enough to be available to give and receive, to honestly perceive what’s alive in and around us, is another simple secret. Practically speaking, living one day at a time takes courage and is necessary before one can exist in the more natural state of joyous living. Joyous living and indulging in enjoyment are not necessarily one and the same. We may find that forgiving and healing eventually trump partying.
I believe that true joyous living has its roots in the perpetual sustainability of balance. As our physical bodies and societies are subject to the Laws of Cycles and Centralization, many incarnations of experience evolve our abilities to intentionally develop our internal gyroscopes, centering and stabilizing us even while we are navigating through the most turbulent storms of life.
Scientific research is beginning to tell us that those who are willing and able to maintain a diet or mild state of hungriness tend to live longer than those who live to eat. For many of us, just satisfying hunger and thirst constitutes joyous living, while others have begun to feel the connection between abstaining from overindulgence and joyous living. Of course, just living longer is no guarantee of joyous living.
When our romances, finances and constitutions are in good working order, joyous living may be taken for granted. Yet, it is when our needs and wants go unmet that we may discover what is truly meant by a “joyous living state of being.” Just believing the Native American proverb that says, “My soul would have no rainbow, if my eyes had no tears” is enough at times for me to try to turn the lemons of my life into the lemonade of my aspirations.
Many factors are in play throughout the evolution of matter, force and consciousness, one being the Law of Polarities, the Yin and Yang of life. Universal Balance is fostered by the positive-negative, masculine-feminine dance within every aspect of attraction, repulsion and cohesion. Balancing our need for protection and nurturing is all about our individual and collective journey from instinctual love through fear into the Higher Love we will all come to understand and cherish. Since leaving the Garden of Eden we have been known to personify places and things. Many of us continue to think of God as He, while most of us think of Earth as She. Yet there are ever-increasing examples of more men and women sharing — if not completely exchanging — what many of us have come to rely on as the traditional roles of protector and nurturer.
Nevertheless, the moment protecting turns into selfishness or nurturing becomes enabling, we may find the beginning of the end of a cycle of joyous living, no matter how or where the masculine-feminine forces appear to be manifesting themselves. I do believe, however, that we are now living in a cycle where Karma is requiring much higher degrees of nurturing both ourselves and each other, despite most of us feeling a greater need to protect what we believe to be our rights to own or control people, places and things.
I am fond of thinking to myself that through Faith, Hope and Charity I will come to know Grace, who will always introduce me to Harmony, and then to Joy. I find it curious and comforting that our society has chosen as baby girl names so many of the words I associate with nurturing my soul and the keys to my joyous living. Yet it is also through my reliance on my good old friend Will, as I endeavor to practice choosing wisely, that I am Able to nurture my ability to strengthen and protect my moment by moment practice of everyday Joyous Living.
Humbly and gratefully I raise, my songs triumphant in Thy praise.
[Richard A. London: Social Science talk from the 2009 Convention]
I chose today’s readings as preparation for our upcoming Convention, which will be held August 5-13. Its theme is There Is No Going Back. I would next like to share with you some of Eleanor’s perspectives from this 2013 talk, which she called, appropriately enough:
Convention has always been an uplifting battle of one sort or another. As the Convention forces converge on this Center, all of us have felt those feelings of intense pressure that we misinterpret as being the result of our neighbor’s stereo or dog, or the pressure of life and our own weariness, or someone’s remark about a particular act of ours. Caught in the heat of the moment, it is very difficult to step back onto the plane of forces to see how the high gathering energy is impacting our actions. But the most important first step we can take is that of knowing that such a step is even possible and that we can then have a different kind of control over our own reactions.
In the words of Master Hilarion, “…your relationships one to another must be stripped of all pretense, all self-seeking, all selfishness. The tests you will continue to meet are based on the Law of Brother-Sisterhood and involve the finer courtesies of life, the gentle services for youth and age, the ability to withhold rather than to give ridicule or criticism, to bear with and not to provoke, to entertain the Christ within your hearts in such a way that you become the absolute embodiment of Light and Love.”
I recently came across this paper from Francia LaDue, written at Convention time in 1916. She was writing as the Guardian in Chief. It was printed in The Temple Artisan and was sent out worldwide as a separate pamphlet. As I read it over several times and thought about her questions, I felt her words were as fresh and germane to my life, our lives, as if she was standing in the room speaking to me and to you. I want to share it because it behooves us all to take her words into the Silence of our own souls now as Convention approaches. Her words will help us to meet those gathering high forces with consciousness and cooperation.
My Comrades Dear:
In tender love and deep appreciation, I thank the great Father that I am enabled to meet and greet you once again.
For eighteen years some among the comrades now gathered here [in 1916], with other dear ones now scattered over the face of the earth, have stood together, most of the time with our backs up against the wall, to use a graphic metaphor, and fought the forces of death and disintegration, fought them more with the weapons of love, faith and endurance than with material weapons. One by one many of those who were with us in the early years of our work have passed on into other fields of labor, and others have stepped in to fill their vacated places on the physical plane, but their love for the Temple and the comrades who had grown so dear to them was such a vital thing in their lives it could not die, and never were they nearer to us while they were here in body than they have since been on the first Sunday of August in each year as we have come together in Convention.
As we who have borne the brunt of the work grow older, more weary and careworn with the passing years, our inner eyes naturally go out in a search for those who will take our places and carry on the work that will some day drop from our nerveless fingers, and a feeling of responsibility for those others comes over us with tremendous force and it is well that we should ask ourselves: Have we done our part in fitting those others for the burdens that they will take up? Have we shown our appreciation of the kind offices of others? Have we been brave enough to hurt those we love when some dire necessity arose, or in cowardice let them drift on to some rock which we plainly saw? Have we spoken the word to the stranger within or without our gates which might have brought him into the Temple fold, or allowed indifference, indolence to restrain us?
These and countless other intimate personal questions arise in our minds, as we think perhaps it may be just the one or more to whom we have or have not done these things who would be the karmic agents to stand in the breach when some future great battle was on and who would fail because we have been too indolent –– too cowardly or too selfish to do our part when on our courage and devotion the work might be utterly dependent.
The Master has very frequently reminded us of our personal responsibility for the success or failure of the Temple work, and yet, I fear, only too few of us fully appreciate the importance of his words. It is said that on some one person may depend the fate of a nation, a city, an organization, and yet as a rule the great majority of people both in and outside of the Temple ranks stand ready to shift all responsibility to the shoulders of the next in line if by so doing they can save themselves trouble, anxiety or loss in any form. We do not always realize the cowardice, the faithlessness of such an act, nor do we call to mind the fact that we may be losing the greatest opportunity that has ever come to us by so doing, for such opportunities generally come in some unexpected way; by means of some “little thing.” Truly is it said, “there are no little things.”
While we are thinking of the wealth of instruction we have been given, and the countless evidences we have had of the protection and help of the Masters through all these past eighteen years, do we as earnestly ask ourselves what have we given in return? Do we sufficiently realize that there is a Divine Law of reciprocity which demands that for all we receive we must render an equivalent, otherwise that Law will set up an account against us which we will have to pay someday with accumulated interest?
These are all serious questions, even personal questions, although not addressed to a personality, and the law of karma will compel us to answer them. They are serious, for we know not what effect their answers may have on the rest of the human race.
We are reminded over and over again of the critical era we are now in. Our responsibility for every act, word or thought is intensified in such periods as is the present, and it is our plain duty to teach this truth wherever we have opportunity.
I would far rather at this time tell you of all the beautiful things, the mystic or sacred things that impinge upon my consciousness at times, and which might interpret similar experiences of’ your own, but I feel that the two words I must leave with you, as forcibly as I am able to do at this time, are Self Responsibility.
In all tenderness, your comrade and sister,
— Francia A. LaDue
Guardian in Chief
This is interesting reading just from the historical point of view. But let us view it from the “Now” point. As the present Guardian in Chief, I would like us to apply it to our lives. Such timeless truths are always applicable.
Although written in 1916, circumstances have not changed in that we still do stand together interiorly and daily battle the forces of death and disintegration with Love, Faith and Endurance. In the heat of everyday living it may not feel this way. Ever feel the heat and not the Faith or Love? But they are there nonetheless. Our task is to remember them.
The Temple “work” spoken of in so many places in our teachings consists of fitting ourselves to be conscious instruments to be used in the uplifting of consciousness throughout humanity of which we are a part. How? By study and prayer, as well as by living and working with each other using the tools of appreciation, kindness, forbearance, devotion and courageous action. The paradox of this kind of “work” is that on the one hand we have been given a wealth of special instructions with the faith that we are able to do it, and on the other hand we have not been kissed on the forehead and set apart as a privileged class. To make such an assumption amounts to delusions of spiritual grandeur.
When we think of Blue Star, we are apt to assume she had perfect faith and insight. It is comforting to realize on her human side, she had doubts and fears expressed in the words, “As we who have borne the brunt of the work grow older, more weary and careworn with the passing years, our inner eyes naturally go out in a search for those who will take our places and carry on the work that will some day drop from our nerveless fingers, and a feeling of responsibility for those others comes over us with tremendous force and it is well that we should ask ourselves: Have we done our part in fitting those others for the burdens that they will take up?” With our 20/20 hindsight we can assume that she indeed had done her part in preparing for the future of the Temple, because here we are. And we know, in her point as Blue Star, she had unwavering Faith in the Master and His work.
To have these moments of very human reactions is all right, for after all, we are human. Then we need to tune into those inner realms where we have hung the jewels of our spiritual aspirations bring that light back into our daily, hourly lives.
Reading over Francia LaDue’s words from our vantage point 97 [now 107] years later, can we say we have done our part? She mentions appreciation, kindness, forbearance, devotion and courageous action. She also mentions cowardice, indifference, indolence, and selfishness. Only we can judge where we are on the scale between these two poles. We cannot assume these qualities are not applicable to ourselves, both the pluses and the minuses. But woe be unto any of us if we dare to apply them to someone else. It requires clear-eyed courage to apply them to ourselves, and then to do something about them. It is a curious thing that as we really work on incorporating appreciation, kindness, forbearance, devotion and courageous action into our own lives, and eliminating cowardice, indifference, indolence, and selfishness, we can look around and find that our friends, neighbors and enemies might very well be doing the same thing! And really, it doesn’t matter if they have. All that truly matters is that we work on ourselves and cheer the other person on. True acceptance of each other, without the urge to change each other (even if we deem it to be “for your own good!”) is a very effective tool of living and loving.
Francia LaDue clearly and one-pointedly tells us: “The Master has very frequently reminded us of our personal responsibility for the success or failure of the Temple work.” Over the years we have all been guilty of assuming someone else will step up to the task at hand. We feel we must save ourselves trouble, anxiety or loss in any form and in so doing we may lose the greatest opportunity that has ever come to us, and it will come in form of one of the “little things” of life. Think about that one! Sobering and true, but in our very human effort to stand clear of the charge, it cannot become an opportunity to point the finger of blame at anyone else. How can we do the “work” of learning to living with each other if we avoid the opportunity to be together, cleaning up some trouble spot or simply visiting each other? Years ago, someone once observed to me that “Halcyon is a group of hermits!”
In her address, Francia LaDue was speaking of the richness of the teachings that had come to the Temple in the eighteen years since the founding. Ninety-seven [or 107] years later, the richness has been increased seven-fold. Also increased has been our indebtedness for such richness. How do we “pay off” such debt? As co-creators with divinity, how do we enrich Life about us? Think of the small gentle ways (the little things) by which we can express appreciation, kindness, forbearance, devotion and courageous action. No blare of trumpets, clouds of angels, widespread media coverage, or heavenly radiance, but simply the warm communication of genuine caring and love.
She goes on to say: “These are all serious questions, even personal questions, although not addressed to a personality, and the law of karma will compel us to answer them. They are serious, for we know not what effect their answers may have on the rest of the human race.” She isn’t pointing a finger at anyone but she is pointing out that personalities have come and gone and come again in an endless cycle, but the Soul of each of us must stand erect and clear. It is our Soul we must ask for dispassionate accounting, for clear direction, and for loving encouragement. This takes courage for “we know not what effect their answers may have on the rest of the human race.”
We, as Templars, are an integral part of humanity, and as such we must lead the way forward under the banner of SELF-RESPONSIBILITY. Not later when it is more convenient. Not later when we are with people we like better. Not later because we are faced just now with someone whom we deem is wrong, wrong, wrong! There is only now, this moment, and what we chose to do now could mean the survival of the human race. So it is a matter of SELF responsibility — mine, not my neighbor’s but me, myself and I; yours, not your neighbor’s but you, yourself and you — and the time is right here, right now! So, with clear eyes, clear minds and hearts, LET’S GET BUSY.
— Eleanor L. Shumway
Fifth Guardian in Chief
Given July 14, 2013
In closing, may we endeavor to realize the Joy in our very own self-responsibility, as we navigate its ebb and flow throughout our everyday lives.
— Richard A. London
Sixth Guardian in Chief