These talks from former Temple Guardian in Chief Harold Forgostein were delivered at the Sunday Service on September 20, 2020 by Damian Rollison.
It is always refreshing in our day of intellectual recourse to four syllable words to hear some abstruse metaphysical hypothesis expressed in short words and engaging music. The spiritual called “All God’s Children Got Wings,” settles once and for all any speculation on a number of possibilities which confront the modern parent. According to the song there are children who do not have wings, and these are not as yet God’s children.
For the big and little children who are in the borderline area between having wings and not having wings, between belonging to God as do our children or not belonging to God as is the case with the neighbor’s children, there is a critical turning point. It is variable as the wind, and we to our innermost selves will occasionally wonder whether our own children do really have wings, whether we ourselves do really have wings or if they are not at this stage possibly optional equipment.
The chief point seems to be not the desirability of wings, but of wanting wings, of wanting to be God’s Children, for this is the ultimate goal toward which the children creep, crawl, stumble, walk, run and eventually fly. No one questions the value of being air-born. It represents a freedom from the conventional restrictions of time, space and gravity. With wings the Children of God surmount the difficulties which beset the path of those who do not have wings. The crash landings which mark the beginners flight are made tolerable by the attractive goal––the view seen while aloft.
If the possession of wings is regarded figuratively, or as a power of will, faith, and imagination, the truth of the song is quite remarkable. Throughout the story of evolution have the Children of God been guided by their brothers and sisters who have wings. Wings which have carried them high into the realm of morals and religious precepts, of ethics and law. Wings which have carried them high into the sciences of mathematics and chemistry. Wings which have borne them high into the arts where music and color and design hold forth in purity of light and sound. Yet always do those who fly so high remain within a viewing and guiding distance for those whom they teach, for those who are just learning to fly.
Of the many preparations which bear on such flights certainly discipline and obedience are of great importance. Life’s laws are reasonably discernible as air and earth and fire and water. Mother acquaints her children with the use of the laws of life. The older children guide the younger children. The disciples guide the parents. The Initiates guide their disciples. The great Masters, Dhyani Buddhas, Christs are each the spiritual parents of their wondrous children. This arrangement of life is called Hierarchy and rests on the response of one to another, of child to mother, in immutable sequence.
Obedience or disobedience. Each exacts its price. Disobey and the wings are lessened, clipped, even removed to be grown all over again. Obey and the wings are heightened, glorified, empowered with the very substance of God.
Why, then, is there any challenge of authority? Why is there not an automatic acceptance of the truth of the issued commandment, since this is an expected and required state of life and living? Well, granting the one obvious fact that the child as an individual can not experience the life of anyone else, much as we would be saved from ourselves by our parents, we are therefore not only entitled to make our own mistakes, we will undoubtedly do just that, for no one can endow us with good or bad except ourselves. The point should be made immediately that all of us, however, have had so many opportunities to learn the Law of Brotherhood that we can no longer insist on the privilege of choice in that regard, that is, of making mistakes forever. The indebtedness to our spiritual parents has possibly far outgrown our potential for paying off that indebtedness. We may decide to defer our own advancement but we have not the right to stop the whole program of life. The energy required because of our persistent rejection of the Golden Rule to bring us to a point of acceptance may be exhausted for this cycle. It has been a delicately balanced margin for many years. It is always an imminent possibility that this world of men and women may be abruptly set back in irreparable evolutionary loss. The children of God could learn a great lesson on the subject of warfare by realizing the present nuclear precipice to which they have brought themselves. This is such an abyss on the evolutionary path as may be spanned only by the wings of the Great Bird whereon the Master stands.
Leading up to the unrest of this predicament are the every day crises of people, crises which recognize no national barrier. Parent and child, big child and little child, teacher and pupil, leader and follower––the personnel of evolution learning the hierarchy of life.
The chain reaction of discipline, obedience and loyalty is fast being recognized as an essential part of living. It is, in fact, so widely accepted that any difficulty in this reaction seems to arise in discrepancies between the word, the act, and the thought rather than in the denial of the need for obedience and loyalty. It takes a great deal of living for people to really understand one another. Just who has the right to point out what he or she regards as false in the other person’s motives and deeds must be predetermined before a rule is laid down. The natural relation of mother and child or teacher and pupil includes this exchange of command and obedience. But it includes also the right to illustrate by example, by the ability to act, even more than to speak. No one will accept the authority of an unidentified stranger and render the same obedience to their commands. But the power of example, of hisor her way of life, easily overcomes this barrier, especially when the deeds are those of good doing.
However, no more than a person can sit down for the first time and play the piano can we perfectly follow the example of such a leader. The capacity for trial and error and the willingness to try again are part of what the spiritual Mother-Father is looking for. “All I am or hope to be” ––those are words and ideas as yet sublime beyond realization. It will take time and effort to make them a part of daily living.
More important than the issue of success or failure, of professed motive, declared intention, is the fact that such a goal takes its aspirant out of the realm of the black side of life. For even while contending with negation, depression and despair or boredom, we can, if we want, realize the unending help, encouragement, preparation, guidance, unalterable worthiness that has been set up around us so that we could consciously attain to the fulfillment of our heart’s desire.
It takes a long time for the baby, the child, the teenager to realize how much preparation for life has been given us by our mother. It takes a long time for us to realize how every condition of life has been made bright, cheerful and constructive by a mother’s guidance. And the wings do not grow over night. The use of their power is not a matter of time or space in this physical world. The emotional stress which proves the courage and patience of one of God’s children will not necessarily provide another with an equal opportunity for growth. The demand for intelligence in a problem may open a new realm of light for one person and be a prohibitive barrier to another. Each must resolve his or her own experience and none can compel another to accept their own. Good is not separated once and for all from bad in the long line of lives that each person lives, and the flight from one to the other gives eventual growth––the awakening consciousness of all of life.
Following this figure of speech into its most sublime practical value is the Message from “From the Mountain Top” called “Grow Wings and Fly High.”
“Grow Wings, my child, wings of pure thought, aspiration and high courage; wings strong and virile enough to bear thee to the heights of life, where safe placed thou mayest glimpse the pit now hidden from thy view by murky clouds.
“The wind from the heights, fanned into motion by thy wings, will blow away the ashes from its mouth and give thee sight of lurid flames and hosts of demons spawned by hatred, greed, and avarice of man. Full of guile are they and wise enough to seek and find the entrance to the soul which gave them birth for food and nourishment on which to grow ’til strong enough to drive that soul from its own place and take possession full.
“Then grow wings, my child, and fly high. There is naught between thee and the stars but thine own will.”
You have asked me about the Teachings of the Temple. Although you may not know them by that name, you are already knowledgeable about them, as am I, as is all of humanity. You have somewhere heard of the Golden Rule and have been living your life with some degree of compliance with it and quite possibly some violation too. Probably none of us can judge and say how much, how good we are or how bad we are. It would serve us no purpose since we must all admit to being less than perfect. What would it matter if we tried to place each other in a scale of one to ten with God representing ten?
Probably we have different ideas about God –– if we admit there is a God –– and we would find ourselves comparing His various powers to our own advantage. There are today skilled scientists suggesting that the whole universe developed from a primary “big bang” resulting in the accidental but systematic creation of everything in that universe. Then there are others who prefer to think that, maybe yes, but that Somebody had to set off that “big bang”. Some feel that a divine Intelligence loved everything into being because, with the possible exception of man, ourselves, the rest of the known universe seems to move in exquisite harmony and balance, whether it be a galaxy or a wilderness or a flower.
Curiously, of all the kingdoms of nature, only man has the power of speech –– a facility of communication that dominates his world –– not always for the best, but always for some purpose. His communication––that of asking questions and answering them; wanting to know, to tell––is not always as subtle as that which prevails in the animal, vegetable or mineral kingdoms, or as that which obtains in fire, air, earth and water. Their communication is recognized by man as laws of nature on which their interdependence, their obedience is implicit. Man, on the other hand has power of choice. He can communicate “yes” or “no”.
So it is well to avoid in speech a complication of words making communication word-bound instead of serving to express ideas. For you and I may each take different and possibly contradictory meanings from the same words. One teacher (William Quan Judge) has suggested that if all the terminology of the scientific world –– electronics, chemistry, physics, biology, geology –– were withdrawn; if there were no system of words to describe them by hypothesis or measurement, still the world would go on in a government of principles. Mountains, volcanoes, oceans, rivers, winds, the sun itself would not cease to exist in any way. And while countless civilizations have preceded ours that undoubtedly had some way of referring to the universe –– all different –– and have risen to great heights of achievement, this could not apparently have prevented them from degeneration. Meanwhile the world moves steadily on in an orbit that is governed by irrevocable laws called in words gravity, attraction, love, cohesion, loyalty, refracted rays, colors: facets of material and spiritual sunlight.
Frequently the Temple Teachings are referred to as theosophy, an old word meaning theo-god, sophy-wisdom, knowledge. It is a good word but too limiting except as one doorway into the study of the Teaching for like all such words it tends to imply sectarianism and creeds. The point is, my friend, that you are already acquainted with what the word means, what the Teachings are illuminating. You are not inquiring into a strange and foreign world. For you understand enough of the world in which you move to get along happily or unhappily in varying mixtures of emotions: your now existing relationship to the universe dependent upon your intelligence and physical, mental and spiritual well being.
Beginning wherever you are, doing whatever you are doing is the most vital and important truth in the universe for you, since you obviously have not an alternative.
Since we do have power of speech we must admit that constantly, from whatever we call the beginning, a certain law has been pronounced in all our countless languages: “As ye would that others do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” There is no way that all humanity can not be primarily involved with that law.
That is the purpose of the Teachings of the Temple, to deal with us all as we are now, involved in knowledge and ignorance, love and hatred, selflessness and greed, common good and waste, regardless of the words we may affirm or deny, but without fail impelling us on to a fuller meaning of the life we are in. For you have found that your life is a learning process that has no limits. It represents achievement of skill in the physical, mental and emotional worlds wherein you dwell. The possibilities of those skills is unlimited. They are yours for the earning. There is no way for us to know how much we can learn but there is a realistic evaluation of them in terms we already know –– arts, sciences, ethics, morals, government, religion and indeed, communication. We can put no limit on this learning except to call it infinite. Some call it the Mind of God. What we learn and earn is but a part of what already exists as we are learning to find out.
You may have learned that somehow you have become responsible for the knowledge you have. Or you may feel vastly imposed upon. You may feel that you live only one life –– that life being responsible for placing you eternally thereafter in heaven or hell. You may feel that you were born out from annihilation and you will die back into it. Or you may feel that Jesus died for your sins, and that therefore you are absolved from the word responsibility, as from all the rest of the world’s inequities. Theologians call this doctrine, vicarious atonement. That is a priestly government of fear and supplication. But many people feel that this does not fit at all into a daily life where self-responsibility is shared by all the people you live with, even if you do not know them.
You may subscribe to some kind of organized worship that has brought you comfort, wisdom, guidance, and inspires you to do good, to do better. If so, be happy in that security. No kind of worship can do more for you. If it has brought you to today where you find yourself in need of other answers to your life questions, be grateful that yesterday has brought you to today; and now you seek anew and so you ask about the Teachings of the Temple.
They will tell you that you reincarnate lifetime after lifetime as do cells, atoms, worlds, ideas, laws, civilizations. For us there is an unending path of learning from the unknown past to the unknown future, bridged by the time called now, the present, the most important moment. The word reincarnation is a name, an idea, a force called hope. The Teachings tell us how to make the most of that moment. They do not dwell upon the psychic, mediumistic, spiritualistic, the so-called occult.
The Teachings tell you that nothing exists that has not been caused to exist. Nothing is accidental, although we may not know what caused it to happen. Therefore you are constantly creating causes which become effects, which become further causes as you walk your path of life and effect all the world as it affects you. The goal of life is not contained in technology but in the integrity of character, common good. This self-responsibility is called in Sanscrit, Karma; cause and effect, and renewed balance, and is directly related to reincarnation.
Reincarnation and karma –– hope and responsibility –– are simply two keys that help to unlock the great mysteries. (W.Q.J.) You may not know enough about either to believe in them but you cannot live without hope and self concern. Actually there is very little we know about anything, even cause and effect, our own world and ourselves.
But we have learned enough about life to know that we must eat our own food, breath our own air, and no one can do it for us. Therefore, says the Teachings, each one of us is a part of the vast universe that no one can replace. We must do our own work because no one can do it for us. But we can only do that work because of all the work that others have done before us –– and do ours that those who follow us can do theirs. Nor can we fail so long as we try again to do that work, and hopefully do it better.
And in this world of which we are an essential responsible part, there are most obviously degrees of creative intelligence, power and beauty that we can hardly understand. But this perfection reflects clearly to us from the lives of men who have gone before us, who are greater than we are and in reality are always living among us. They fire our hearts, our imagination, our minds. They sing our songs, paint our pictures, pioneer us from the known to the unknown. They are our Teachers of the art and science of daily living. They hold our hand, They guide us on. They light our path through joy and sorrow, war and peace. They have given us laws and principles –– laws like the Beatitudes, the 10 Commandments of the Old Testament, the sacred precepts of Buddha, the Commandments of the Teachings of the Temple. These precepts did not evolve by trial and error anymore than does man. They are no more subject to referendum or committees or votes than are gravity or electricity. These are not word bound directions requiring intellectual or material epitome. They are what man has always recognized as a power greater than himself –– a Father-Mother Love surrounding him as sunlight, though some men turn it into fear and vengeance.
The Teachings of the Temple are to be studied to answer the how and why and what and when and where for all of us. Day by day answers to pain and suffering, expressions of joy and beauty, as all of us constantly change. Always do the Teachings point out the next step and always with love and concern, wisdom, service and enduring sacrifice. No man anywhere is a stranger to this guidance; it powers his life. And that is why you are already well into the Teachings of the Temple, known to you by whatever name or act.
If this letter has helped you along it is because of its truth which you have recognized because of the authority within yourself.