A Talk Given in The Temple by,
Eleanor L. Shumway, Guardian in Chief,
May 17, 2015
Never be afraid to try something new.
Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark.
A large group of professionals built the Titanic.
I want to begin with this story:
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around; then a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.
She said, “Hi, handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”
I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.
“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.
She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.”
“No, seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
“I always dreamed of having a college education, and now I’m getting one!” she told me.
After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this time machine as she shared her wisdom and experience with me. Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon easily making friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up, and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.
At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent, and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know. ” As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success.
“1) You have to laugh and find humor every day.
“2) You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!
“3) There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything, I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change.
“4) Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”
She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year’s end, Rose finished her college degree she had begun all those years ago.
One week after graduation, Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.
I am sure all of us can remember people who were special teachers for us, teaching by example rather than by words. In the Temple Teachings, we are told that there are no mistakes, no mischances, no misplacing of even a single atom of the universe. We are each placed by universal law exactly where we belong in the scale of being at any moment of our lives. But we are individually responsible for the circumstances we create for ourselves in any position we hold in that scale. The lines of life are mathematically true, whether or not we passed math in school–––grand ideas, majestic in scope, timeless, universal in application, and eloquently simple. In fact, these lines of life are so simple that we often overlook them, convinced that such lines must be difficult. What does this mean to you, to me, to us today?
It means that instead of yearning to be somewhere else, or doing something else, we need to focus on the joy of the NOW, the job at hand, trusting in the power that leads us to this moment, committed to the ideals that each of us perceives as embodied in the Temple Teachings. In that focusing process, we need to ask, “What can I DO to embody the things I believe in?” I am speaking of DOING, not as a frantic activity, but more as a practice that enables us to BE.
We have been given rich treasures of teachings filled with techniques for daily living, and we must chose to use them. They are not in rulebooks; they are not legislated from on high. That these teachings are presented in a form that requires using our intuition, with understanding, love and tolerance is a testimonial to our spiritual maturity. With that maturity also comes the responsibility to DO, 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 need to remember: “To each and every of us the Christ speaks today. Before each and all of us He stands, face to face. Beside and among us, one and all, He walks daily, hourly, looks toward us with entreaty infinite for recognition, companionship, understanding, sympathy, and love. With hands outstretched, He extends to us the Priceless Gems of Truth and Wisdom, of Opportunity and Power; and we pass Him by, we know Him not.”
The same Master’s message points out, “Truth, the Christ, does not precipitate Itself, is not spectacular, loud, sudden, bombastic. It walks in the silences, dwells within, breathes, lives, loves, gladdens, brightens, purifies, strengthens, lifts, around and about, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute, each second and interval of time, calling you into Itself, Your Self, Self of the King from whom all shadows have disappeared, and in whom there is naught but Beauty and Holiness.”
So what are we actually doing? We must strive each day to walk in the Sacred Silence in the middle of the noise and strife of our daily lives. We tend to take each other for granted. We assume the other people in our lives know that we love them; that they know we imply “Please, and Thank You” when we make a request; that they know we notice what is happening in their lives. These are huge assumptions, and like all assumptions, they can be flawed out of all recognition. In order to make a genuine connection with others, we must practice the simple, common courtesies of life toward every single one we meet throughout the day. 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 lift the heart of others with no thought of return. The next step in this kind of self-discipline is to translate it into soul courtesy and spiritual chivalry. This involves obedience to the Highest, service to the Lowest.
Pursuing the idea of “What can we do?” I would challenge each one of us, as we move through our day, to bring a spirit of reverence to everything we do. Gary Zukav, in SEAT OF THE SOUL wrote, “. . .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.”
Reverence is defined as honor or respect shown; profound, adoring, awed respect. Reverence is not a quality reserved for prayer time or church time; it 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, through the power to recognize and obey the call of the Masters, even in the swirl of passion, of labor, or the world’s most inhibiting vibrations. It’s a tall order, but the very fact that we are asked to do it means we are capable of doing it!
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 incorporate brother/sisterhood into our every act. Of course, we do have the power of choice, and for a time we can choose not to learn. However, learn we will, for under the Higher Law every atom in the Universe will learn, evolve, and grow. The choice we have is really when we will learn and 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. Dr. Dower has told us that the one essential requisite for all of us as Templars is to be earnest students of life and believers in the occult statement that progress is the law of life. We must be willing to work with mind, heart and strength for the up-building of the Temple of Truth, composed of all Humanity –––past, present and future.
So, again, what can we do? We simply give abundantly of our spiritual radiance each and every day to every single person we meet. ” How?” you ask? Simply with a smile, a glance to one who needs it, or perhaps a handshake, a hug, a compliment, a heartfelt prayer, a holding in the Light of Divine Love, an asking that the Divine purpose be served. We do not need to tell the other person what to do; indeed, we must not. We just need to be there for him or her, trusting that they will ask if they have need and feel safe with us. We build that place of safety within ourselves for others, small act by small act, in our interaction with those others. We can give of our radiance to the entire world by attending the Noon Healing Service. With reverence in our hearts, if circumstances of time or distance preclude our attendance, we can participate interiorly. We give of that radiance when we turn the eyes of our souls towards the throne of our God every morning and evening, as we offer prayers of gratitude, love and devotion. We give of that radiance when we act with kindness, compassion and responsibility toward the Earth and the other kingdoms with whom we share it. Practice on the little things: thank your shoes for supporting you through the day; tell your home “thank you for sheltering and protecting me” as you enter it each time, and for mirroring the beauty of your spirit back to you. Each of these small acts of gratitude builds radiance into your life, into Life itself.
We should beware of intolerance and avoid crystallization or rigid 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 expressions 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.
We can do as the Master beseeches us and I quote: “Do not despise the homeliest, most repulsive exteriors in your comrades, those most foreign to your own tastes and aspirations, but seek instead to discover and to understand their interior attitudes, motives, struggles, and efforts. Bear in mind most carefully that in your intense desire to attain the Diamond of Rare Brilliance it may elude you because it lies embedded beneath that jagged stone that tries you most in climbing, even as for another it may be difficult to stand because of the smoother surface of your own personality. It shall not escape you…the Lighted Diamond. You shall surely find it, you shall wear the Shining Gem upon your breast if you seek it not for yourself, if you look for it within your brother’s or sister’s life and heart. There is its home and yours.”
In our teachings, the Master points out: “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 continues by saying that if we would read these six sentences once a day and then, honestly, 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 go about the challenging task of transforming our own lives, we will help all others in their challenging task. 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.”
Again and yet again, what will we do? We could be still; we could be silent within and without; we could listen–––truly listen–––to the small voice within. We could listen–––truly listen to the voice, to the words and feelings of our neighbor, friend, stranger, loved one, or enemy. 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. The Masters find this lost from our possession many times and say, “instead we find you napping, criticizing, and disturbed. You may not wish to acknowledge that such is so, but I repeat, it is fact.” We can choose to be awake, accepting, serene.
We need to DO, to act to and for ourselves, to act to and for others. We must look past differences to the truth within. The Master tells us again and yet again we have been given rare and wonderful tools, and we must not withhold help from any one of another dress, design or color just because they are different from our own. In a special message entitled “To My People” he says, “I am the worlds. The world is mine, as you are mine indeed. All people draw I to my heart, call all to my hearthstone. Upon you I depend to greet them with me, to give welcome with arms of soul outstretched in understanding embrace. Try to put them at ease, see that they feel at home. Speak with them in language of their own when possible to you. Better to assume certain customs of theirs while they are becoming acquainted with you and their new surroundings. Do not turn them from you with lack of cordiality or appreciation.” He states that true hospitality reconciles differences through study and consideration. Start with a handshake, a smile, words of welcome that project genuine interest and joy.
With such simple acts we are working with the divine and natural purpose of the Master-Builder of the Temple of the Universe. I quote from the lesson in Teachings of the Temple, volume 2: “This [work] means strong search and effort, aspiration and sacrifice. There is no royal road. Whatever of lasting good comes, we pay the price for it in some way. If we gain spiritual wisdom we have paid the price in material sacrifices of some kind. If we gain the inner life, we have paid in some degree in terms of the outer life. In other words, we must redeem matter, our outer selves, as we near the goal of eternal light. We must be nourished daily perhaps on the fruits of injustice and misunderstanding, and be silent in the fire while the transmuting flames do the purifying work. Then the dross is burned away and the pure life remains a fit foundation on which to base spiritual responsibility.”
What will you do? What will I do? Most importantly, what will we do together?
—Eleanor L. Shumway