The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
— Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
If we believe that the law of Order and Harmony that prevails in celestial spheres is reflected in the world of human affairs, then we must know that what a man sows in the field of his character he will reap accordingly, whether in this life, or in some future arena of experience. And if we seriously consider our lives from this perspective, we realize that every circumstance in which we find ourselves today we must have created somewhere along the line. That being the case, surely there is not a moment that is without purpose, for are we not in very truth on a ladder of evolution, midway between the atoms and the stars — with each and all evolving and growing and learning to bring forth their own measure of godhood?
The mills of the gods grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small. What we sow, we must reap — the Eastern writings call this karma, implying that every action is followed by its corresponding reaction. It is a useful word, now adopted into the English language, because it comprehends the whole philosophy of harmony and justice as well as the compassionate provision of nature that allows a man to learn with exceeding thoroughness by meeting the results of his thinking and deeds.
So let us watch the daily unfolding of events in the light of the promptings from within and without, and we may perceive through the maze of action and reaction, of sowing and reaping, of giving and receiving on the objective plane, an "Ariadne" thread of guidance. If the works of the Divine are manifest through all things, then there is not a person we meet or an event that occurs but represents an opportunity for growth and a positive guide in the conduct of our lives. The same law that burns us when we touch the flame operates on the moral and spiritual planes as well, and it will continue to bring pain and sorrow of one kind or another until we awake to the fact that our better self is trying, desperately at times, to tell us something. And as we observe what is transpiring within our souls, we shall recognize that the quality or focus of our concern is gradually being raised from a lower to a higher level of consciousness.
We all have different ideas as to why there is suffering, but nature knows no more beneficent way to alert us to our limitations or to the wrongs we do than by permitting us to meet the precise effects of our foolish and selfish acts — just as we benefit to the last jot and tittle by the results of every truly unselfish thought and deed. This whole process of adjustment accents the selfless facet of nature, which acts and reacts as impersonally as the sun and the rain.
It is the immortal element in us that is the source of our greatest inspiration and strength, for it carries within itself the wisdom and knowledge of all our past, the indestructible record of our suffering and aspiration, our hopes and our dreams. It is the recorder of all things thought and done, from which flow the effects of causes set in motion today, yesterday, and in lives gone by.
Thus in the cosmic book of destiny, there is no recording angel to allot divine reward or satanic punishment. It is man alone who has inscribed his past, who must read and interpret his present, and in so doing shape his future. We cannot hope to decipher the entire script of our lives at once, but we should try to read the signposts of direction as they come. Our main drawback is in expecting karma to work too fast or according to our wishes. But as we understand more clearly our own particular chapter in the larger, universal script of destiny, we shall observe that the circumstances and events that arise day by day operate so scientifically, so accurately, and so compassionately that all whom we contact are of necessity brought to us and we to them for each of us to learn and to grow, to receive and to give. It is a natural and beautiful interchange of experience and, if we can quietly "feel" the karma as it unfolds from moment to moment, we shall begin to recognize the promptings of guidance. If, however, we anxiously hunt for signposts, we shall never see them. That is the paradox: when we seek for this or that specific form of help, it never comes; but if we meet each day unafraid, relying on our innate strength and wisdom, we shall have all the protection and help we can use.
Let us not delude ourselves, however, and fancy that real knowledge or inspiration will come to us if we just passively sit down and wait. All growth in understanding is achieved by consciously fulfilling our whole duty in every area of our responsibility. If we can keep this ideal in the background of our consciousness, we will instinctively look beneath the outer events and penetrate to the principle and essence behind them. When we do that, the inner value, the spirit and not merely the letter, of each experience becomes a part of our character, and life takes on a new atmosphere.
If we have had many lives in the past, surely we shall have repeated sojourns on earth in the future; some may be pleasant and successful by outer standards, others a veritable nightmare of frustration and trial. The author of our life, who is none other than ourself, has so designed the lights and shades of our present experience that we, with our free will and whatever intelligence and purity of aspiration we can muster, may perceive what qualities in our characters need reshaping, and what pillars of strength we may build on. Our greatest mistake lies in trying to get through the difficult periods as quickly as possible, forgetting entirely that the hellish moments are preparing us to give birth to something of immeasurable value which otherwise might be stillborn. How few of us when our happier moments arrive think of sharing with our fellowmen the golden values that are found in the crucible of suffering? As soon as better times appear, we avidly enjoy them, unmindful of the beauty and enrichment that accompanied the pain. That is why easy experiences can represent our most dangerous periods; difficult ones the most fruitful.
Thanks to the creative essence behind the universe, every minute particle in the cosmos is bipolar. Hence the most negative situation can be turned into a positive one, and the most material condition can be viewed from the spiritual pole of experience. We gain great strength from the overcoming of difficulties; even the minor stumbling blocks have merit, if we welcome all circumstances as part of our treasury of opportunity. The hurdles and obstacles that arise in the line of natural duty are the result of the long-term disciplinary responsibility of our higher self — for the progress of the individual, and indeed of the whole of humankind, is built upon self-conquest.
Thus there is not a thing that happens but carries with it an opportunity to adjust our attitudes and consciousness toward a larger vision and a more understanding feeling for others. If it is a problem, we are challenged to meet and solve it; if a sorrow, to try to feel the compassionate working of the Law through it all; and if a joy, to see how and where we might share its blessing. Nevertheless, I do not believe that every trial or difficulty is the effect of wrongdoing. Error and weakness do bring suffering in their wake, obviously, for that is nature's surest way of teaching. But there is a higher karma that may draw us magnetically into the valleys of pain in order to shock us out of our old and comfortable grooves into fresh pathways of thought.
We touch here the inner aspect of the unfolding script of our lives: when any individual sincerely strives to expand his consciousness, to become an impersonal servant of his spiritual will, he begins to activate the Christos-element within him. When that occurs, his consciousness shines a little brighter, and his higher self or guardian angel, recognizing the intensity of the call, dare not neglect it. Nature then provides that which is needed for him to prove the strength and fidelity of his aspiration. The Law operates in spite of your or my weakness or strength, and what a man is in the deepest recesses of his soul will be seen. No set rules or regulations, no Bible or Vedas or any sacred text alone, will help him now. He can know all the technical facets of the structure of atoms and galaxies, all about the many principles in the human constitution, but unless he has fulfilled the requirements of duty in every aspect of his nature, he cannot open the gate to wisdom. This path of growth may seem a lonely one, but it is a path of joy. Once we put the high principles of right thought into our every action, we shall know that the divinity that enlivens both atom and star also enfolds man.
Absolute trust in the Law brings into being an inner force that follows the lines of least resistance and circulates through the body of humanity. For the purity of one's devotion and loyalty will function without regard to time or place, to do the right good that you and I could not conceive of or predict or control. We do not need to know how it works; but if nature is endeavoring to allow divinity to reflect itself in every portion of the universe we can feel assured that, wherever enlightened hearts beat, good will follow and lessen by so much the burden of ugliness and evil in the world.
The Moving Finger writes — if we will try to read the script of our lives in this atmosphere of thought, we may find ourselves, unconsciously, becoming natural agents of protection to our fellowmen in the scheme of divine guardianship that is built around humanity.