We are told that there are no mistakes, no mischances, no misplacing of even a single atom of the Universe, despite the way it may seem on the surface of things. Each one of us is placed by universal law where we belong in the scale of being at any moment of our lives. But we are individually responsible for the conditions we make for ourselves in the position we hold on that scale. The Lines of Life are mathematically and geometrically true. And what does that mean for you and me, here and now?
It means that instead of yearning to be somewhere else, or doing something else, we need to focus on the joy of NOW, and the job at hand, with perfect trust in the transcendental power that lead us to this moment, committed to the ideals that each of us perceives embodied in the Teachings of the Temple. In that focusing process, we need to ask ourselves, “What shall I Do to embody the things I believe in?” I am speaking of doing, not as frantic activity, but more as practice that enables us to BE. I read recently that salvation is a single moment: the moment one decides for consciousness. The ongoing exercise of that decision is the process of sanctification, of becoming one with God and all good.
The moving force in the life of the Temple is generated and pours out through the spiritual avenues of the Temple, much as electricity comes from the generator and pours out through the network of wires that is connected to it. The opportunity for growth is inherent in change and changelessness is inherent in Spiritual Law. To work with these two forces is a difficult but rewarding task daily testing both our resilience and our ability to hold fast. As aspirants there may be a time when it will be very hard to relinquish the desires of the personality to the integrity of the spirit, yet that is really our deepest desire, one that will turn us ever back to the principles of Divine Law, the highest aspect of which is Love.
We have been given rich treasures of teachings filled with techniques for daily living and we are responsible for choosing to use them. They are not in rule books, nor are they legislated from on high. That our teachings are presented in a form that requires mining with our intuition, with understanding, love, and tolerance is a testimonial to our spiritual maturity. With that maturity also comes the responsibility to do it, not just talk about it. The doing cannot be put on hold until a more convenient time, or only with people we love, or only with some people and not others. We must remember that the Christ speaks to each and every one of us today. He stands face to face with us, looking toward us with infinite patience for recognition, companionship, understanding, sympathy, and love. He stretches out His hands to us, hands filled with the priceless gems of Truth and Wisdom, of Opportunity and Power, and we all too often pass Him by as we become caught in the web of “too much to do, too little time, and besides, I know what is best!”
The Christ is the supreme embodiment of the Law of Love, which law is the very center of The Temple Teachings. Obedience to the principles which radiate from it will not only further individual evolution but will increase our privilege to serve in the Master’s great work toward Universal Brotherhood. Like charity, brother/sisterhood begins at home and perhaps our sense of belonging, of being enfolded and nurtured within our Temple Family may be a faint indication of what it could be like to live in a world operating under the Law of Brotherhood, which is the living practice of the Law of Love. We may squabble among ourselves as all families do, but after all is said and done, if we don’t love and respect the members of our larger family, and make some effort to understand them, then we are living a lie.
In looking toward this great work of the Masters, I would challenge each of us, as we move through our day, to bring a spirit of reverence to everything we do. Gray Zukav, in Seat of the Soul, states, “an attitude of reverence is . . .the sense of richness and fullness and intimacy of being. It creates compassion and acts of kindness. Without reverence, without the perception of the holiness of all things, the world becomes cold and barren, mechanical and random at the same time, and this creates experiences of alienation and acts of violence. It is not natural for us to live without reverence, because that separates us from the basic energy of the soul. . . . Reverence automatically brings forth patience (in ourselves and with others). The reverent person cannot consider himself or herself superior to another person or to any other form of Life, because the reverent person sees Divinity in all forms of Life and honors it.”
The word “Reverence” means honor or respect shown; profound, adoring, awed respect. Reverence is not a quality reserved for prayer time or church time. Reverence is an inner attitude of soul, of recognition of the unity of all life. Reverence is built into the very fiber of our lives as we gradually develop through service the power to recognize and obey the call of the Master, even in the swirl of passion, of labor, or the world’s most inhibiting vibrations. This may be hard to remember when someone has cut you off in traffic, made a cutting remark, disagrees with the way you raise your children, or wants a full-on argument; and yet, bit by bit, we can do it. We simply must choose to obey.
It has been said that if mankind were able to live according to the Golden Rule and the Sermon on the Mount there would be an instantaneous heaven functioning on earth. As one reads these rules of conduct they almost seem simple enough to practice, but a few efforts at trying to incorporate them consciously into daily life makes one realize that only the words are simple. What is outlined is a life of complete dedication to principle, and this seems to be a long way from the activating forces that are shaping the humanity of this day and age. With wide opened, honest, inner eyes, truthfully examine yourself and not the other person. What do you see in yourself and not the other person? How can you, yourself, take the first step toward changing what you know to be less than true?
Psychologists tell us the average person falls short of true adulthood to the extent that he or she is unable to handle the mass of conflicting forces within the self for constructive purposes. According to this standard the level of maturity of much of humanity offers little to boast about, especially as one reads the newspapers or watches the nightly news. The philosophy of something for nothing holds great attraction for the spiritually indolent, as does the notion of special privilege for the mentally arrogant. Those who adhere to these unrealistic philosophies or any part thereof, meet life with clenched fists and closed ears and minds, thinking to measure individual success by the force of personal will. Sadly we take note of the growing number of those who, in the name of freedom, rights, identity, and other misnomers, seek to reap rewards toward which they have contributed little or nothing, and thereby solve all their problems. Great indeed must be the disillusionment which follows upon the realization that it just doesn’t happen that way.
Our teachers would not expend the energy to spell out these goals for us if they did not know that we are able to follow them and to slowly and steadily incorporate Brother/Sisterhood, which is Love, into our every thought, word, and deed. Of course, we have the power of choice and we sometimes think we can choose NOT to learn. However, learn we will, for under the Higher Law every atom in the Universe is learning, evolving, growing and changing. If we think about it, basically the only choices we have are to chose when we will learn and to then choose to influence the qualities of the experiences we will have as we learn. But the act of choosing to learn consciously by putting the spiritual dimension into every, and I mean every single action in our lives can bring a radiance into our lives that is indescribable.
We tend to take each other for granted. We must practice the common courtesies of life toward each and every person we meet throughout the day. I am speaking of the kind of courtesy that gladdens, brightens, purifies and strengthens. The kind of courtesy that quietly stays the hurtful word, that bears with and does not provoke, that withholds rather than gives ridicule or criticism, that uses empathy to light the heart of others with no thought of return. The next step in this spiritual self-discipline is to translate it into soul courtesy and spiritual chivalry. This involves obedience to the Highest, service to the Lowest.
The first thing necessary in almost any change is a thorough cleansing, a clearing out of the old to make way for the new. Our two authoritative guides, the Bible and The Temple Teachings, have much to say about the importance of cleanliness on all planes. The eighth Beatitude of Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” and The Temple Teachings assert, “Only by a return to the state of Purity can man regain his lost estate.” At this time in our history, purity seems to be a most unimportant virtue, the emphasis being generally on its opposite. The pollution of air, water, food, body, mind and soul have become so common that they have largely ceased to shock and so have achieved a sort of passive acceptance among many who are too apathetic to fight what they tell themselves is a losing battle. But all battles are losing battles to those who do nothing to win them. Greed, envy, malice and selfishness of every conceivable type are a part of the very air we breathe. They constitute an emotional pollution more deadly by far than the contaminants that foul our physical atmosphere. It is imperative that a purifying process take place on several levels of being.
One of the first services performed for a child after birth is the thorough cleansing necessary to prepare that child for living fully in its new environment. From this time on, physical cleanliness plays an important part in his or her life and well being. Purity has been an ideal of all true teachers throughout the ages, from the ancient philosophers of the East to the Western teachers of the present day. Ignorance, circumstances, superstition, and apathy have made this a slow moving ideal, but gradually, through communication and education, this picture is beginning to change. Even a minimal attention to hygiene, as simple a thing as the habitual use of water to cleanse the exterior and interior of the physical body can, for some, change a whole outlook on life, and for these individuals the practice of purity has begun at its most observable level.
The next step in the cleansing process carries one inward to face the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects that make up the whole person. This is considerably more difficult than cleansing the physical body and environment. It is largely a solitary process and may be pretty disconcerting at times. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”, and as our soul reaches for one it tacitly accepts the other. The first requirement is the desire to be cleansed and the first test of the sincerity of that desire will be the measure of courage that we can bring to bear on the initial problem involved: that of honest and true self-evaluation. It will not be an easy task. Now is the time to see it like it is: no glamour, no illusions, no rationalizations, just a deeply felt, sincere desire to discover the areas in need of purification and the courage to begin, even haltingly.
The Bible tells us, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” while the Temple Teachings use these words: “If any man or woman of average intelligence will faithfully examine their hearts and their lives, they will find therein old or new tendencies or full grown evil habits, gross selfishness or indications of a leaning toward the dark side of life.” Such words from these sources are not intended to heap guilt upon our heads, but rather to point out the direction in which we must go as self-responsible adults. These words do indicate that while the problem appears to be inclusive and general, the job to be done is very personal and specific. Here the keen edge of honesty will be needed to cut through any fuzziness of thought that might blur the sense of self-responsibility. In our very natural recoiling from pain, self-justification is almost automatic and is the first of many ties to the lower self which must be voluntarily cut, over and over, again. At this point guilt and chagrin may be deeply felt, but no personal sorrow or fearful measuring of the task to be faced should be allowed to overwhelm us, or even slow up the avowed purpose of cleansing the inner self. These are high acts of inner courage.
As we do this, we must beware of intolerance, avoiding crystallization and set forms of any kind whatsoever, for, while truth is Changeless, its manifold expressions on the outer planes are subject to incessant changes while matter itself still works for higher and higher expression of the true and beautiful. With practice we learn to achieve a sense of balance between the changeless truth within our own hearts and those incessant changes of the manifesting world about us. In turn, with this balance comes the ever increasing ability to move with grace and joy, with insight and love, with compassion and sympathy throughout the ceaseless, pulsing changes of our daily world.
The next step would seem to be the cleaning out of known mistakes and conscious violation of the Higher Law. This should tend to sharpen our perceptions so that a deeper look could bring to light those more shadowy thoughts and actions which have nibbled away at our integrities so slowly and insidiously that they were not even noticed. Now and then they may be forced upon our consciousness in a devastating flash. At such a time the soul may cringe at this searing knowledge and surely the boundaries of courage will be measured. However, once a commitment to the cleansing process has been made, passive grief for past failures must be counted as an indulgence. Time is of the essence and none should be wasted in fruitless regret. Not that regret does not serve a useful purpose, but like the surgeon’s cauterizing agent, once it has burned out the infected area further usage will cause only harm.
In a very practical suggestion for ways of cleansing our inner bodies, Master Hilarion tells us: “If I would give you the advice you most should heed, in form most concentrated for steady, instant, use at any moment, foreseen or unforeseen, I would embody it in the one word Hold. Hold that which you have gained, hold your defenses strong, secure on every hand. Hold your arms in readiness for surprise attack at any time. Hold your passions, emotions, reserve force. Hold your consciousness, your spirit high and glad, attuned to the highest principles you can conceive. Hold to the beauty and truth of life in every capacity and concern.”
He goes on to say that if we would read these six sentences once a day and then, honestly and sincerely examine ourselves in our inmost hearts as to our commitment and endeavor to do that kind of holding, we will win the spiritual power to transform our lives. As we transform our own lives, which is the most difficult task to do, we will transform all about us. He is very practical in his suggestion of technique: “Test yourselves by the tone of voice you hold during the situation in question, by the quality of your thought before and after the occurrence has taken place. In any point pertaining specifically to the work and the group as such, lay it upon the altar of your own heart and leave it there until you are called to carry it forth. In that which may pertain to your own Heart of Hearts my hands are outstretched to receive whatsoever you may wish me to protect or to have me receive for any impersonal reason.”
One thinks of children as coming into a world in a state of pristine purity and indeed there often seems to be quite a period when the incoming ego is wrapped in the protection of heavenly innocence. But untested innocence seems to be the brief possession of the very young, for the physical plane is the plane of action, where learning is the result of experience, where right is realized by coming into conflict with wrong, and then making choices. Throughout the whole of life the measuring stick of contrast is always with us. Strength is contrasted with weakness, selfishness with service, lust with love, fear with faith, and so on. Decisions are constantly required, for one is faced with the law of opposites at every turn, and the lessons of life are inherent in one’s choices. As the cleaning up process on the physical level is often a back breaking job, so the inner cleansing process is apt to be a heart breaking job. Much that has been diligently built up, or unwittingly absorbed, must be rooted up, torn down, broken open, discarded. Perhaps in so doing, a frightening sense of emptiness may sweep over the soul. If so, it might be well to remember that an empty vehicle is a receptacle waiting to be filled, and one’s self-receptacle has the possibility of becoming a trash barrel or a Holy Grail. Here again, as always, the process involves two poles: license and the responsibility of choice.
Those who choose to assume the duty of self-purification as a first step toward transmuting the unredeemed in themselves must voluntarily submit to the fires of expiation. WQ Judge tells us, “The very minute high aspiration is entertained, that very instant the spiritual fire begins to work.” As the fires of purification cleanse, they also illumine. In their light a revitalized understanding of such principles as Motive, Humility, Compassion, and Selfless Love is possible. Attendant upon this understanding is the obligation to build it into patterns of usefulness in our lives. This will involve firm self-discipline and love, for those attitudes, thoughts, and emotions which thrive in the unhealthy atmosphere of the lower self must be brought under the loving control of the higher mind. We certainly will NOT meet with immediate and unwavering success, but we can be comforted and inspired by the fact that each experience of breathing the unpolluted atmosphere of a higher level of consciousness will surely draw us back again and again until it becomes our natural habitat.
Perhaps then we will have returned to the state of the “child heart”, and the condition of innocence may be brought about, that innocence which has been thoroughly tested by true humility and absolute obedience to the Higher Law. Our Temple assignment is to regain the state of childlike innocence with total consciousness, one step at a time. For us as Templars there is less excuse for drifting back into the dullness of familiar lethargies which soon cloud that momentary clarity of vision. We have been given a pattern, a ritual, which if performed in deep devotion can help quicken our often sluggish vibrations, sharpen our perceptions, and awaken our sleeping centers. We cannot go backwards to what may seem warm, safe, and comfortable. As we advance, step by step, on the Path of discipleship, the step behind drops off into the Great Abyss. There is only forward.
We must be still, to be silent within and without. To listen, truly listen, to the small still voice within; to listen, not just hear, the voices, the words, and the feelings of our neighbors, friends, strangers, loved ones, or even our enemies. We are told that the Secret of Secrets is whispered to us clearly from within, and it should be resounding around the world as a result of our steadfast listening. We can choose to be awake, accepting, and serene. John Varian told us all this so clearly when he wrote:
Before the soul has gained the power to heal, its heart must be washed to pureness with true, enduring, eternal love.
Before the soul can travel the high roadways, it must be shod with the seven league boots.
Before the soul can sing in the doorways of the god world, the words of its heart must ring true as steel,
Before the soul can strike the evils of life dead, it must hold the fire sword of the spirit in its hand.
Before the soul can meet the enemy of high growth, its auric armor must be rustless with purity.
Before the soul can become invulnerable fighting Hell and its cohorts, its shield must be the guarding power of the Avatar.