HARMONY OF INDIVIDUAL RELATIONSHIPS (1)
FELLOW-STUDENTS: If we hope to reach any degree of understanding in considering such a subject as this, we must meet heart to heart. Of course we must meet intellectually also; but if we do not bring into play the powers of our hearts we shall not come to any result at all as far as harmony is concerned. Therefore it shall be my endeavor to open my heart to you and tell you about my own humble experiences, in the hope that they may give you something — touch some responsive chord.
First of all, what do we mean by individual relationships? I should say that we mean Humanity. Consider if this is not true. We speak eloquently about helping humanity, giving Theosophy to humanity, bringing the heart-force and the light to humanity. What is this humanity we speak of? I fear we use the term rather cheaply sometimes, or make of it a vague generalization; but that humanity which we meet at home, in our places of business, in the shops where we buy our shoes and clothes or foodstuffs, and in the street and in the tramcars, and so forth — all these people whom we meet and with whom we have any sort of contact during our daily life — they are to us humanity.
Then how can we better approach humanity than through these dear fellow-humans themselves? I will remind you of a saying in the Bible: How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother whom you see? In other words: how can you love humanity — that big, diffuse something — if you do not love those human beings with whom you go through your daily life, with whom you have all your daily business and conversation, and in common with whom you strive to realize the best that is in you? Your Companions, for instance, in the Theosophical Society? It is these close individual relationships which together form the instrument on which you play to express your love for humanity, and your hope of giving humanity something of the help that your own heart is for ever pouring forth.
Well, how to do it? Expressed in the spoken or written word, it seems so simple, but when we come to follow it out in action, it is by no means so easy, because of the complexities of human nature both in ourselves and in the men and women we meet. We find it very often much more difficult actually to love our fellow-humans because of the dissimilarities between them and ourselves. A good way to follow — I am sure it is the best way — is that pointed out in the third chapter of The Voice of the Silence. I am sure you remember it, all of you: The Seven Portals; and what is said there about cultivating in ourselves the feeling, the knowledge, that I am you and you are I; I am in all and everything, and all and everything is in myself. It teaches us to cultivate a certain introspection — a looking inwards. This is very easy, really a very interesting game. It is indeed a game that will help us tremendously in our lives if we only try it.
You read the newspapers, of course, all of you; and I dare say that every day you find there horrible descriptions of crime and cruelty. Have you ever tried to identify yourself with the criminal, with the man or the woman who committed the crime? I am sure that is not a habit with many of us, but I think it is a good thing sometimes to try to identify ourselves — not with the crime, with the evil force of it, of course; but with the unfortunate victim of that evil force; because we can do that: we have everything within ourselves. There is not a crime, not a cruelty, nothing in the world which does not exist in ourselves as something we have already conquered, something we are now fighting against in our daily life, or something which is like a seed of coming strife: and if we can do this — look inward into ourselves — then it becomes very easy indeed to feel compassion for those who sin, because we are never lacking in compassion for ourselves — never. We have all sorts of forgiveness for our own sins — not for the sins as such, but for the sin when the sinner is ourself. So we see the importance of cultivating this form of introspection: looking inward, trying to identify ourselves with everything that is.
I find that I have been dwelling rather on the darker aspects of things. But do not think that I mean to neglect the bright and beautiful aspects. We know that they in themselves produce harmony, and that is what we are trying to create; and the difficulties that we constantly meet in this effort come from the other pole of our constitution. They come from lack of Brotherhood in all forms. But we, gathered here in this beautiful room, under the aegis of such a Movement as this that we belong to — a comradeship based on the realization of Universal Brotherhood: we know that harmony comes of itself from love and from common striving with a high aim.
Now there are of course temptations. If we begin this effort to identify ourselves with all and everyone, we do not meet these temptations all at once — of course not. But they meet us at almost every step we take. For example, there is a person whose peculiarities irritate me, and I lose my temper, and utter words which make me want to bite my tongue off because I cannot take them back again — yet these are only steps on the Path, you see. As soon as you realize that what you are meeting is a temptation, there is no great danger of your failing. We have to realize that in all the small duties of our daily life, everything which tends to put us out of harmony with those around us is a temptation. That realization is the first step. But it is not always so easy. Still, if I feel that a temptation is very hard to overcome, and I feel my own weakness, I can realize that a few minutes thinking Cosmic thoughts — thinking of Father Sun, for instance, or reciting to myself the Gayatri — will help me to overcome it. I am sure that if that wonderful Gayatri can be recited silently in the heart and in the right spirit, there is no temptation in the world that can overtake us. Not only because of the wording, beautiful as it is, but because the spirit and content of that invocation to Father Sun, and to the spiritual side of our Universe, are so enormously strong, working directly on our hearts.
Speaking of introspection — looking inwards — do not for a moment think I mean to lead you into the way which so many people follow, where everything that comes under their observation immediately causes them to say: "Yes, I have had the same experience," "I have done so-and-so myself," and so on. That is so extremely egocentric, dear fellow-humans, and it can be so tiring. That is not the thing, you see, absolutely not. Love is not egocentric; love is giving all the time: so that I am all the time trying to find out the best way, in my relations with my Comrades and my fellow human beings, to help them out of their difficulties, not to stand out myself as something very distinguished — not at all.
Just because you have in your hearts that which can help all things, you have to love your fellow-humans in that way: you have to find in your heart the answers to all the questions that present themselves; and if you do this, be assured that harmony will radiate from you, not only now and then, but all the time. You will be such a source of happiness and joy in your surroundings and in your individual relationships as I think it must be the hope of every true Theosophist to become.
1. Address delivered at the London Convention, August 2, 1936. (return to text)
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