Giving and Receiving

By James A. Long

Man is not a recent inhabitant of the globe: as a spark of the universal divine Intelligence he is infinitely old and infinitely wise, for who can measure the age or wisdom of Divinity? In terms of human development, we are still young; but just as the infant must learn to feed himself, so as maturing humans we are being challenged, by the force of evolution, to drop forever our outgrown habits and think for ourselves.

The wine of truth flows unceasingly from our higher selves through the vineyard of our consciousness, while karma — the fruitage of all our past sowing — brings in season the grapes of joy and pain, of grief and laughter, from which we may distill each day's draught of wisdom. Have we lost faith in ourselves, in our power to receive and to give? Our problems are largely self-made, created by mental and emotional doubts of our true stature. Until we learn to discard our worn-out thoughts of fear and self-doubt, we shall never feel the wine of the inner self warming and strengthening our lives.

No one of us sees himself as others do. We forget that seldom do we reveal our innate potential, but more often merely our idiosyncrasies. And when we regard another, do we remember that deep within the recesses of his consciousness there may be an understanding far mellower than ours, pressed from ages of suffering? For at the core of every human being who is struggling between the higher impulses and the lower, there is in truth a flaming god-essence sprung from the selfsame Divinity that brings a universe into birth. If we can remember this, we shall know that regardless of what another says or does, he has something of inestimable value that only he can share.

Why then is it so difficult for us to give expression to our inmost feeling? Trust begets trust; doubt begets doubt and more doubt. If we do not trust the current of Divinity that brought us here on earth, how can we hope to build the proper vessel to receive and to share the understanding that we have been slowly but surely distilling through the long cycles of our earth experience? When we are too immersed in the immediate importance of our own affairs, that in itself automatically acts as a barrier to the flow of spiritual force, not only from our higher selves but from those who are ever working to kindle and encourage the heroism in man.

Let us remember that all who would self-consciously aid their fellowmen, in whatever area of responsibility, are participants in the highest service function in the world. And as we recognize this and in true humility allow the spirit of selflessness to permeate our efforts to serve, to that degree will the circulation of aspiration flow from us to others. As the sun daily warms and nourishes our earth and brings life and light to all the peoples of the globe, so does nature in her beneficence provide for the exchange of spiritual vitality from one to another.

Surely there is a constant movement of life force from galaxy to atom, from sun to planet, from man to man, for all life is a partnership, a giving and a receiving throughout the ages-long drama of soul growth. "Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, . . . For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

Action and reaction, cause and effect, giving and receiving: these are not separate functions in nature; they are one, for the true giver is the recipient of blessings untold, and the true receiver is the giver in full measure of his character value to others. Nothing happens but what it affects countless others besides the actor. Our highest duty, then, is to allow the natural circulation of aspiration to flow in and out untrammeled, reaching others as we give of ourselves, and touching us as we receive from them.

(From Sunrise magazine, February/March 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)

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