by Rick London, Guardian in Chief
Given July 9, 2023
Blue Star Memorial Temple
My first encounter with Theosophy came through the Halcyon Store nearly 30 years ago. Initially, it may have been merely the act of browsing that led me through a Temple pamphlet or two. It would take another year or so, before I was compelled to experience my first Noon Healing Service.
That was on Wednesday, August 2, 1995, the twenty-third anniversary of my kid brother’s death. Over the years I’ve held onto a practice of finding a special way of annually remembering my brother’s life. Seems like those first twenty minutes I spent in the Temple of the People had a significant impact on the recalibration of my life.
By then, I had already been living in Nipomo for two years, after a 15-year stint in New York. I had brought my wife and son, or they brought me, back to California and we still hadn’t made a real connection with any faith-based organization. For those first couple of years my family and I frequented the Halcyon Store, which continues to have some pretty neat stuff. To be honest, I have little recollection of hearing anything but suspicion and innuendo about the Temple of the People back then and was somewhat apprehensive about even reading the Temple pamphlets. At the time I had no idea what the Temple Convention was, or that it was about to begin.
Raised by a Holocaust survivor born in Berlin, and a second generation Lithuanian Jew whose family also immigrated from anti-Semitism, I grew up with my three younger brothers, in the Jewish tradition. Although my father’s mother kept a kosher house for a time, we did not. My mother did not know she was Jewish until she was nearly eleven years old and had become more familiar with Christian Science before the religion of her birth.
My youth was spent in Van Nuys, California, in a middle class neighborhood with very few Jews. I did my four years of Hebrew school at Valley Beth Israel, followed by my Bar Mitzvah in 1964 as I turned thirteen. I was a member of a Presbyterian Boy Scout troop and spent two summers working as a junior counselor at a Jewish “kosher keeping” sleep-away camp, where I met my first sweetheart.
During school desegregation, I drove a school bus for the Los Angeles Unified School District, taking white neighborhood children to black neighborhood schools and vice versa. I timidly protested against the Vietnam War. I had a loving relationship with the daughter of a Christian Science practitioner. I took a course in communism at Cal State Northridge while getting a degree in business administration. I married a Catholic girl and enjoyed attending Mass with my mother-in-law. My infant son experienced both the rituals of Judaism and Catholicism, grew up celebrating Hanumas and for a time, considered himself to be a Cashew. I spent a number of years in the music business where my extensive touring took me to many places including Israel, Cuba, and the USSR. These are just some of the influences affecting the calibration of my being.
Back to the summer of 1995: I was recovering from defending my reputation over the previous six years, in New York State Supreme Court. I had put all of my faith and trust in our legal system and was then trying to assimilate an extraordinary amount of disappointment after being severely let down. I was battling a deep sense of cynicism, as I was then certain that money controlled how the majority of us perceive what may or may not be true. My faith in our system was all but gone.
I was in desperate need of a mental, emotional, and spiritual recalibration and was blessed with enough compassionate people in my life to allow that process to begin — and as it turns out, to continue.
We all have our stories about the experiences and choices that have shaped our personalities and principles to any point in our lives. Of course, the only one who really knows my whole story, as biased as that might be, is me, myself and I. Whether or not your interpretation of my personality and principles lines up with the real me remains to be seen.
Following my first Noon Service, the next thing I know it’s the second weekend in September 1995 and I am participating in an event called Dune Spirit, with Halcyon playing a significant role in the activities and programs. By then I was intrigued, and it wasn’t long before I started checking out books from the William Quan Judge Library, attending study classes and services, and making new friends. To this very day, the more I read, the more I study, the more I question, the more I discuss, the more I wonder, the more I realize, the more I practice.
Despite the challenges of comprehending Reincarnation and the Lodge of Masters, the essence of the Wisdom Religion was making intuitive sense to me and seemed to be inclusive of beliefs that had been evolving in me over time. Besides, what could be wrong with living by the Golden Rule?
My familiarity with the Temple Teachings and Theosophy deepened over the next several years. I was delighted to realize that I had actually encountered an aspect of Theosophy as a teen when my mother had given me a copy of “Education and the Significance of Life” by Krishnamurti.
My recalibrating continued as I joined a Twelve Step Group, became very involved with Low Power FM Radio, and started looking into Nonviolent Communication. My family and I continued living with my empathetic father, while I contemplated a new career, attended study and support groups, looked for work, spent time in nature, exercised, volunteered, listened to music, watched TV, and went to the movies.
I even came down with a case of Pledge Fever, a condition I now know to be contagious, once I realized that I was making some people sick of me. I have since come to learn what it means to proselytize theosophically, which is so much easier said than done. Not unexpectedly, this period of recalibration strained my savings and my close personal relationships to and beyond their limits.
By 1997 I was starting to feel calibrated again and life was beginning to make more sense. My creative energies were being transferred from my social justice comic story ideas to a focus on children’s music, when smack, 1998 came along. It started out with me saying goodbye to relationships with some of my favorite libations and then a family separation. It seemed like in the twinkling of an eye, I was back to recalibrating.
It would not be until April 1999 that I became a member of the Temple of the People. The following month I gave my first Temple Talk. That was also the year I started working for United Way. I was calibrated again. My family had returned to the area, I was finally earning enough money to make ends meet, and I was able to introduce my son to Temple Builders.
At the time, Temple Builders had a crop of kindergarteners and my son was just turning twelve.
We ended up having mostly a father-son Builders, meeting here in the Temple, accompanied by other children from time to time. We did this until my son’s 14th birthday, when he gave his own Temple Talk. For me, that was like his Bar Mitzvah or Confirmation. I remain ever so grateful for the experience of spending so much time with my son, here in the Temple. That was 23 years ago.
This brings me to the evolution of my spiritual practice, and a metaphor that continues to germinate throughout my consciousness while assisting me to get clearer about the Universe and what is nearest at hand. It has to do with my relationship with the Divine Adjusters: the Lords of Karma. I have been using a thought-tool I call “Recalibrating Compassionately.”I will try to articulate to you this “effort of intention,” as I find these two words to be a very powerful combination of verb and adverb.
According to Merriam-Webster, “caliber” is a degree of mental capacity or moral quality or a degree of excellence or importance. It can also be the diameter of a bullet or other projectile or the diameter of a bore of a gun usually expressed in hundredths or thousandths of an inch. It is a fascinating dichotomy found in one word.
I would like to suggest that we are all created to a Universal Caliber. While the essence of that caliber is the same for each of us, it varies ever so slightly to where none of us is ever exactly the same as anyone else. However, there are other attributes, like our personalities, playing a role in perpetuating our variations.
According to Merriam-Webster, “calibrate” is to adjust or mark (something, such as a measuring device) so that it can be used in an accurate and exact way or to measure (something) in an exact and precise way against a standard (or caliber).
So, to re-calibrate would involve returning to a functioning calibration, which by no means guarantees an intentional connection to a caliber that is in the best interest of us all. That’s where the need for responsible degrees of compassion becomes ever so vital.
In my mind, a person of high caliber has been well calibrated. The sea turtle is a good example of a species that is born fully calibrated. Based on instinct alone, it is responsible for its own survival.
There is never a parent or elder around to protect the hatchling or to show it the way. As life experiences enhance the survival chances of the hatchling, their instinctual calibration is fine-tuned, maintaining the existence of their species.
“The Call of the Wild” is a novel by Jack London, published in 1903 and the first book I recall reading. Interestingly, I later came to learn that Jack London was a Theosophist and that the Temple had settled in Halcyon that very same year.
The story he tells is set in the Yukon during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, when strong sled dogs were in high demand. The novel’s central character is a dog named Buck, a domesticated dog living at a ranch in the Santa Clara Valley of California as the story opens. Stolen from his home and sold into the brutal existence of an Alaskan sled dog, he reverts to atavistic traits. Buck is forced to adjust to, and survive, cruel treatments and fight to dominate other dogs in a harsh climate. Eventually he sheds the veneer of civilization, relying on primordial instincts and lessons he learns to emerge as a leader in the wild.
While this story is fiction, I’ve always found it to be quite realistic and I use it here as an example of the recalibration of Buck. The reverse can be true with the domestication of wolves, as Nature calibrates wolves to survive in the wild. The latter may be considered an example of recalibrating compassionately, especially with the rescue of a pup born wild.
On the other hand, today’s sea turtle may be unable to recalibrate or adapt to mankind’s relentless intrusion into their habitat. This is in spite of being an ancient creature that has been on the earth for more than 100 million years and surviving some 65 million years beyond the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Of course, we human beings have been known to be remarkably adaptable. In some respects our ability to manufacture just about anything we can think of has changed the material caliber of our lives. There are a variety of manufactured conveniences that we now depend on that come with a factory preset capability. As soon as you plug them in and turn them on, whatever the product may be, it is preset to function in a way that pleases the majority of its users.
In a sense, we human beings are evolving from a Creator preset or spiritual Caliber, if you will. Our goal is to be at peace with our Soul.
One could say this Caliber is the result of the Triple Key, the evolution of Matter, Force and Consciousness and the Universal Laws of Unity, Centralization, Polarity, Correspondence, and Balance, to name a few.
In the early years of each of our lifetimes, our experiences tend to strengthen or weaken the Caliber that comes preset at birth. Eventually most of us become calibrated to the point where the rest of us interpret that calibration as our personality and principles.
Once we are calibrated or believe ourselves to be mature, there is a very strong tendency to assume or take for granted that we are fully calibrated in our present state or status for life.
Yet, many of our individual, family, and community calibrations have strayed from the original Caliber we all come from. This, for the most part, is responsible for the Friction which is demanding a recalibration in many aspects of life on this planet.
I believe that there is a global need for Recalibrating Compassionately. But let us focus on what is nearest at hand. Many of us are able to adapt to change by merely tweaking our current state of calibration. Yet all too often, for reasons beyond or within our control, we find ourselves struggling to overcome unmanageable and dysfunctional modes of existence. Our calibration has evolved to a point of ineffectiveness and dissonance.
Wouldn’t it be grand if, like some of our manufactured conveniences, we could merely press the reset button and so simply return our lives back into some sense of order and harmony?
Teachings of the Temple Volume I begins with, “A Master is one who has become as a little child, who has entered the Eye of the Triangle in the Square within the Seven, and who, by sore travail of Soul, has won his Robe of Immortality, which Robe he must keep unspotted, not for fear of the spotting but lest the mud thrown against that Robe rebound and strike the thrower.”
While this expression could be the subject of several Temple talks, I offer it as the Supreme example of Recalibrating Compassionately. In my mind, a Master has recalibrated over many lifetimes to become “One” with the original Caliber, and in doing so has obtained the ultimate capacity for compassion.
I believe this bears repeating: “A Master is one who has become as a little child, who has entered the Eye of the Triangle in the Square within the Seven, and who, by sore travail of Soul, has won his Robe of Immortality, which Robe he must keep unspotted, not for fear of the spotting but lest the mud thrown against that Robe rebound and strike the thrower.”
I use this definition of a Master as a distant guide to remind me of my spiritual aspirations as a member of the Temple of the People.
I began this talk by highlighting some of the experiences that I believe continue to influence the calibration of my life. We can recalibrate in a moment, or over numerous lifetimes. The ways and means to do this are many. For one, I believe that the Twelve Step Program can be an effective strategy for Recalibrating Compassionately. The Serenity Prayer is a pretty cool strategy too. So is laughing.
No matter what strategy we wind up using in the end, I believe that we all need to be looking forward to a world where our youth are achieving their potential, our families are financially stable, and we all are healthy. We can do this if everyone is living compassionately, thinking preventively, and acting responsibly.
In May 1999, I titled my first Temple Talk “From the Fear of God—Through the Love of God—To God Is Love… .” After a brief preamble, I went on to recite in their entirety The Ten Commandments, The Sermon on the Mount, and The Ten Rules of Discipleship.
While I continue to draw from all three of these in my spiritual practice, it is the Sermon on the Mount that inspired my talk for today. I have never forgotten the instruction that despite all of the great bodies of work at our fingertips, from the Secret Doctrine to the Bhagavad Gita, if all of our teachings were to be set ablaze, it would be the Sermon on the Mount that we are to save. For the instructions given within those few pages is the basis for Universal Sister-Brotherhood.
We are encouraged by the Temple Teachings to study the Scriptures — we cannot study them enough — and to be intuitively open to possible hidden meanings within passages that on the surface seem antiquated, preposterous, or appear to make no sense. Being raised on the Old Testament and choosing to study the New Testament, I believe it is through my reverence for the Sermon on the Mount that I share with you my interpretation of the following three quotes from the Master Jesus.
These three quotes are just a couple of the numerous arrows I hold onto in my Theosophical Quiver as I endeavor to target Recalibrating Compassionately, as an ongoing intention within my life. I consider each of them a gateway thought-tool that inevitably sparks deeper thinking in me. They are:
1. “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Matthew 26:34
2. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:24
3. “Faith without works is dead.” James 2:26
These quotes vary widely depending on their origin, yet they will suffice nicely as I briefly connect my interpretation to the Principles they reflect.
They are meant to keep me present to my need for fidelity, humility, obedience, and courage; to keep me alert to our collective need for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Justice; and to remind me that there can be no true religion without its scientific basis, and that there can be no right economic system not based on a science that is religious and on a religion that is scientific. They are meant to motivate me to take aim towards the ultimate Caliber worth aspiring for, when it comes to my recalibrating compassionately.
For me, the first one is an allegory for Courage, Loyalty, and Trust, and requires a belief in a Power greater than ourselves. The quote comes from the Last Supper, the celebration of the Jewish Passover, when Jesus tells his disciples, in essence, that they will be unable to withstand the Testing Force heading their way.
“This very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” I believe this to be in reference to my connection with my Higher Self. Every day I endeavor to maintain my connection with my Higher Self as I struggle with my lower self’s efforts to disown that relationship, with even the slightest temptation.
I believe it is how we have evolved our calibration as to whether or not we can sustain our connection with the original Caliber we are all preset to. This is by no means an easy task, individually or collectively. Humanity has come to a point where there is fierce disagreement as to the meaning of the Universal Caliber we have all been preset to.
As I endeavor to accept my responsibility for advancing the common good, to be sure, I need to truly know myself and be clear about my motives. If I get lost or detached from my Higher Self, the Six Pillars of Character help me to recalibrate compassionately. If I am not trustworthy, responsible, respectful, fair, caring, and an engaged citizen, I may have disavowed my connection with my Higher Self.
We need common-sense compasses to help us navigate and recalibrate. The Six Pillars of Character make for a fabulous compass. Finding connection with one’s Higher Self, even if only on a par with Pinocchio’s Jiminy Cricket, is one thing; maintaining that connection is another matter. We’re linked when we’re grateful.
The second arrow in my Theosophical Quiver, to help support my efforts for recalibrating compassionately, has to do with patience, suspending judgment, and sustaining an open mind. From the Cross we hear, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I invoke this often, for myself and for others. It helps me to question my enemy image and to mitigate my fears and anger. This may be one of the highest callings and corresponds with the Master’s concern for the mud rebounding from His Robe and striking the thrower. It is very difficult to forgive when not connected to one’s Higher Self. Forgiveness is critical to our ability to heal and recalibrate our way back to a productive and useful life. “Judge not and ye shall not be judged” is the basis of forgiveness, and makes room for love and compassion. It is very difficult to move forward without forgiveness. Especially here do I find the reference to “Father” as a humble request to my Sacred Higher Self.
“Faith without works is dead” is the third arrow in my Theosophical Quiver. I think of this one as walking the talk, as practicing what we preach, as being the change we wish to see in the world. This requires us to be mindful, as our perceived charity may end up enabling if not manipulating ourselves and others. What is the motive behind our recalibrating? Are we mindful of “Not my will but Thy will?” Do we know when to save our breath to cool our soup? Are we doing what is nearest at hand and needs to be done? Do we accept that forgiveness is not a release from Karmic debt? Have we discovered the power of the placebo effect in our faith?
Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.” His words ring true with me. Our challenge is to truly come to understand the meaning behind what is good and what is evil and to utilize that understanding to honestly measure our standing with the Universal Caliber.
Recalibrating compassionately during certain cycles can be possible with the greatest of ease. Regrettably, we can miss opportune times for recalibrating compassionately, either as an individual or as a group in a particular cycle, which can lead to greater amounts of pain and suffering over additional periods of time.
For me, these three arrows are interconnected and interdependent, for they are all for one and one for all. Without my mindful and intentional relationship with my Higher Self, it is difficult for me to forgive in a healthy and sustainable way — and is most certainly impossible unless I’m willing to do the work. From another angle, doing the work can become a burden without my partnership with my Higher Self.
In some cases the end of a relationship, as we once knew it, can be a time for grieving and mourning. We can naturally overcome this emotional state of being over time, but when the essence of sadness persists for an extended period, we start to label this behavior as depression. This is when we need, at the very least, to invoke the placebo effect and act as if we have faith if we are to ease the heaviness of our needed work. Is it time to hold on, time to let go, or time to leave our comfort zone? Our work is to recalibrate our connection with our Higher Self and initiate the process of forgiveness so we can have a chance to rediscover the love and compassion within our hearts. It would be so nice if there really was a Cupid, who could use those magic arrows to return joy and happiness to our lives.
Recalibrating compassionately is a strategy for turning discord into harmony, and for realizing that selfishness is unaware of its Karmic consequences. So many paradoxes, yet for harmony to continue, we must always be prepared for change, for nothing on this physical plane remains the same save one, which is reflected in our Temple motto: “Creeds Disappear, Hearts Remain.”
“Endeavoring to realize the Avatar as a living Power in my life” is all about my recalibrating compassionately. May I endeavor to hold true to the personality that is a reflection of the Principles that you and I believe we know and hold dear.
Hear this message in From the Mountain Top:
“There is no going back. You must go forward. It remains with you, however, whether or not you will win the Holy Grail, which is immortal life, or go back for ages. There is, as I say, no standing still, no peace; it is battle, battle, battle, with first one enemy and then another. The powers with which you are fighting are greater than you can conceive. Be on the alert. Have your armor on. Be ready for the foe at any time of either day or night, or you will be taken unawares and swept off your feet. And, my children, after all is said, it is the simplest thing that is asked of you — simple Faith, and Trust, and Love, and Work. You are asked to perform no great deed, nothing but your simple daily duty, one hour, one minute at a time. Nothing more nor less.”
Every day at Noon, we are reminded that, “There is a Peace that passeth understanding, there is a Power that maketh all things new. It lives and moves in those who know the Self as One. May that Peace brood over us, that Power uplift us, till we stand where the One Great Initiator is invoked. And may the Holy Trinity of Love, Will, and Wisdom be with us now and forever more. Amen.
From the simplest change to the grandest of initiations, may your version of Recalibrating Compassionately help you along your way to the Mountain Top.
— Richard A. London
Sixth Guardian in Chief