A Talk Given in The Temple by, Eleanor L. Shumway, Guardian in Chief,
February 8, 2015
Here we are in a brand new year, encountering the same old problems, and yet, we are always asking for new directions, new words, new resolutions, new interpretations, new, new, new. We are really sold on “NEW IS BETTER.” We don’t want to hear the old stuff over and over. There must be some new magic, easy insight. And we want it now, not realizing that we have all the tools needed for spiritual growth, and that we have them now!
Let’s explore these tools for spiritual growth. We have had these directions, words, resolutions and interpretations since the beginning of time. We have just tuned them out! During each time of need in humanity’s unfoldment, someone has come forward to restate these truths in words in the vernacular directing us, the humanity of the time, to look at universal principles in words we could, or would, hopefully understand. Like a dog worrying a large bone, we have worked on these principles until something else came along to distract us, precipitate us into crisis, require a new banner bearer. That process is repeated again and again.
Here in the Temple we have been given a rich outpouring of teachings resulting in eight hard-bound books of Temple Teachings, plus much unpublished material. We are privileged to have come into being under that so-called “new” teacher, Helena P. Blavatsky. When you look at the shelves full of her writings, you might wonder if she wrote twenty-four hours a day with both hands, especially since all of it was produced with pen and paper. She was followed by William Quan Judge who was nearly as prolific. Humanity has moved forward and we again have these banner bearers who have inspired countless other banner bearers to hold high the Truth in its myriad expressions. I am frequently told, “Well, yes, all those books have the truth, but the language is archaic, the examples dated, and besides, that was then and this is now. Things are different.”
This is true. Things ARE different now. I used to say the same thing to the former Guardian in Chief. He would just smile and say, “OK, you rewrite it.” Through the years I have come to see that the Golden Key that unlocks everything we aspire to is Self Responsibility, and what I understand about those Wisdom Teachings that fill my very being is what I have dug out by my own effort. The time is long passed when it was appropriate for us to be told what to do. Besides, we seldom did it anyway, or only when it was convenient. We are at the point in our evolution when we must decide, based on universal principles, what it is that we must do, and then how we will go about it. Not only that, we must decide and do in the company of all of humanity. We are told “Love ye one another.” That’s easy to do with friends; but try it on your enemies!
We cannot go it alone; we must all evolve together. With the amazing advances in the fields of information dissemination and communication, we may feel as if we are in an impenetrable jungle of words with no guide and many pitfalls. A message in From The Mountain Top tells us that God spoke to men and women in the old days, they listened and were blessed. But now, when current times are particularly dark and we need Him, God no longer speaks and we are cursed. Sometimes it sure feels like that, doesn’t it? Foolish, self-centered, and blind we (or everyone else) seem to be. God has never stopped speaking to us, BUT we have stopped listening, destroying our true sense of hearing by listening too intently to the muffled thunder of the sound waves of human passion pounding against our inner ear. We call out to God, to the Masters, to anyone who seems to know his or her way or professes to see into the future, to lead us through all of this seeming darkness to a “promised land” where all will be clear, all will be peaceful, and where we will all be able to rest forever. Nonsense!
There is a portion of ourselves that knows we each must be our own guide, but there is always the testing force looming larger than life, pushing us to look for the easy way out. We spend hours, days, even lifetimes, lost in the beguiling maze of the mental world, hypnotized by words, ideas, theories, philosophies and gadgets. We read at home, we have long or short discussions with friends and neighbors. Too much of this can lead us in divergent directions away from our true path. We might feel we know it all and sit complacently by, or we might be blinded by all the words, or we might become intoxicated by those same words and want more, more, and still more. One begins to understand the feelings of Eliza Dolittle, in My Fair Lady, when she sings about “words, words, words, all day long all I hear are words. Is that all you blighters can do? Don’t give me words, SHOW ME!” I would ask how do we find the true direction? the true balance between head and heart? between the darkness and the light? between truly doing and truly being?
These questions lead us to the concept of Self Responsibility. Again and yet again! Well, what does that mean? As I sat thinking about it, I thought about other tools we have been given to help us in our lifelong task of growing and transforming, that each of us must pick up and use ourselves. On the physical plane, I pictured Chris, James or others leaving town to go to work in a truck filled with modern tools for carpentry, masonry, electrical work, etc. The next picture that flashed into my mind was one of my father sixty years ago as a general contractor, leaving town in his pickup truck with a wooden box he could carry himself, filled with hand tools to do much the same kind of work as Chris, James, or others. Using this analogy, a self responsible occult student might well ask him/herself just what basic tools are really needed for the job of growth and transformation?
If you ask fifty sincere Temple students for a list of ten basic rules to live by, I am reasonably sure that you might very well get lists of three or four hundred different rules. Each list would reflect the unique point of view of the student. There would be some overlapping, of course. That overlapping might very well include the following rules which are actually the only tools one needs for this entire lifetime, let alone any lifetime that will follow. They are the “Ten Rules of Discipleship” paraphrased in the following manner.
1. Love God, your neighbor and yourself with a love that is totally unconditional.
2. Obey the laws of life as expressed on all the planes of existence.
3. Be especially mindful of the sacred Creative Fire contained within. s
4. Hold all life sacred.
5. Do not speak falsely, unnecessarily or critically about anyone. Because when you do, the force put into action rebounds mightily against you.
6. Never forget that every thing and every body is a part of God and act accordingly.
7. In the morning and in the evening set aside a time to talk to God with all your heart and soul, speaking in words that hold all you know of purity, thanksgiving and unselfishness.
8. Give from your abundance to the poor. Give your selfishness and lower desires to the Great Mother, that through her love she can help you to overcome any negativity.
9. Honor all aspects of Matter, Force, and Consciousness including your own, having faith beyond any doubt that you are in the right place, at the right time, doing and saying the right thing.
10. Divine Love, expressing itself through karma, has brought us to the place where we can begin to see the path that leads to spiritual illumination. We must keep that path clear for ourselves and others and obey the Master.
These ten Rules embody all the truth and universal principles humanity can use at this time. Until we can put each one into daily and hourly practice all the time, like breathing out and breathing in, we are not ready for anything “new”; it’s the just same “old” stuff. We cannot go on to the next classroom until we master this one. We need to practice dispassionate, loving but firm, self-examination of our obedience to these Rules. Each small step in our understanding, acceptance, and use is an important one. Remember that old saying: “The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” We might add, “. . . asmall bite, chewed carefully and thoughtfully, and swallowed slowly.”
Another basic tool for our spiritual growth would be the books From The Mountain Top. “Wait a minute!” I can hear some of you insisting, “The books of the Teachings are the most important.” It is true they are important, but the passages in From The Mountain Top speak to the intuition, providing the vital balance to the busy brain that sets up such a deafening noise that we miss the quiet, still voice of truth. We are told this very point in a Mountain Top message entitled Simplicity reminds us that we are so busy clothing the simple thoughts of God in too many words, too much rhetoric, that we miss the precious vital spark, the truth contained in those simple thoughts. This truth might well feed and warm a hungry shivering multitude whose hands are lifted to us in wordless supplication!
We are so busy gathering others of our kind to listen to an ever flowing stream of extravagant exaggeration and senseless phrasing that we are missing the fact that the simple unclothed truth pleads silently to us for simple words. Is it any wonder that so many people feel so tired so much of the time? If we would listen with the ear of spirit we might hear and hearing, gladly pass the living word to deadened ears.
“The simple things, the simple words, the simple deeds of daily, hourly life, hold treasures vast beyond computing, for in these treasures lie the first faint shadowing, the first beginnings of the seed of all the flowers of spirit, the seed of life eternal.”
George Carlin once said, “[We] . . .spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We have conquered outer space, but not inner space. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.”
OK, OK, we say, I’ll pay attention to the simple things, words, and deeds and that will be easy, right? Not possible, not even desirable. Real growth and insight comes another way as outlined in The Path is Hard from the first volume of From the Mountain Top. Filled with truth and Love it says, “In a sense we may say it is the same path that the Master Jesus followed. There is no other path, no other way to find the true self, save through effort and suffering. When we think of it from an earthly standpoint, it seems pitiful that poor, weak, human beings should have apparently so little light to guide them on the way, so little of the comfort that it would seem might be theirs; but those of you who have had an opportunity of watching the wealthy or the so-called ‘well-to-do’, those who seem to enjoy all the good things of this life, know that they are often ‘of all men or women most miserable.’ They are using the gauds of earth to dress up their scarred and tainted carcasses, while their souls are often naked and hungry; and that would show you how little the soul can gain from worldly wealth. It is the strain, the stress, the exercise of power, that gives the final victory.”
The Master goes on to tell us if there were any other way, he would have told us, but we are, as He is, of God, and only through the strength of the God within ourselves and the power we can gain over these adverse conditions through endurance and courage will we be enabled to meet and overcome what will be before us in this and in many lives. Anyone who tries to make us believe that we can gain spiritual growth without passing through ‘Golgotha’ is deluded. But there is no reason why we should not see the beauty, the good, and the glory that there is in life. It is around us on every side; it is ours to take and use as it seems best, always in the right spirit. He would not have us look only at the hells of life, but more often at the heavens which also lie about us.
Another tool for our spiritual growth I would suggest is that of a truly open mind. An open mind that does not judge, that listens with empathy and sees beyond the facade that each of us build so carefully. Speaking for all of us, that famous and often quoted author, Anonymous, once wrote in part:
PLEASE HEAR WHAT I’M SAYING
Don’t be fooled by me.
Don’t be fooled by the face I wear.
For I wear a mask, a thousand masks,
masks that I’m afraid to take off,
and none of them are me. . . .
Who am I, you may wonder? I am someone you know very well.
For I am every man you meet and I am every woman you meet.
As we move through this year of 2015 let us resolve to express with open arms, hearts and minds our willingness to consciously do and to be. In our resolutions if we use such phrases as “I should,” “I must,” or “I must not,” we set up barriers for ourselves. Louise Hay once said “Stop should-ing on yourself!”
We create the necessity to try and see what we can get away with, to figure out how we can get around the conditions we have set up for ourselves. One of the most destructive acts we participate in (and I am sorry to say we seem to do it on a daily basis) is that of criticizing others by thought or word. This is terrorism in its most elemental form. The idea seems to be that if we put down, or criticize, someone else, we feel better about ourselves. There are a couple of one-liners from the Teachings that pound themselves against my consciousness over and over: (1) “The same life is in those we hate as in those we love, so why hate ourselves?” and (2) “When will humanity learn that there is more than one right way to do things?” But if every thought and word is centered in “my way is the only way”, then anything done by others is judged as being “wrong”, and the terrorist within shoots poisoned, critical words. This is NOT God in action.
God takes action everywhere. God in action is expressed through OUR thoughts, words, and deeds; and insofar as these are in harmony with our ideals we will be in harmony with God. This is not a miraculous process, not a quick fix; that of “If I get it right I can have instant whatever-it-is-that-I-want gratification.” This is a process of self-discovery, of learning from our failures. We must go through the self-discipline and constant practice of using those tools we discover to be right for us, over and over again until they become a part and parcel of the fiber of our being.
Remember that story about the pianist Paderewski who was asked by a musician, “Could you be ready to play a recital on short notice?”
“I’m always ready,” Paderewski answered. “I’ve practiced eight hours daily for forty years.”
“I wish I had been born with such determination,” sighed the other.
“All are born with it,” replied the pianist. “I just used mine.”
I would suggest we need to ensoul our resolutions, our ideals, in words that allow us to flow, even in small steps, toward those ideals, thereby becoming much closer to the reality of God in Action. These words include “I will, I feel, I honor, I allow, I believe, I am.” And we might also include “you will, you feel, you honor, you allow, you believe, you are.”
So, in this New Year, we will use the tools of old and tried directions, of words, of resolutions, and of interpretations with which to tackle life. I urge you to simplify, simplify, simplify, and open your eyes and hearts and look on everyone with humanity, with humility, and with rejoicing in our unity, one with another. With enthusiasm, with renewed commitment and insight we can make this year, 2015, into a banner year of brother/sisterhood, peace and commitment to the Higher Law.
Eleanor L. Shumway