The Theosophical Forum – October 1937


To bud, to spread a receptive surface to the sun, the rain, and the air, to breathe for the parent tree, and by so doing to make beautiful the whole wood with the fresh green of Springtime, the rich foliage of summer and the changing glory of Autumn — these are the duties of the leaf. Then, the final renunciation of its life essence over, it falls, apparently unwanted, discarded and useless.

Useless? No. It has one more duty before it disappears. It helps to make the ground rich, to fertilize and strengthen the soil, that the parent tree may draw nourishment from it, and that other plants may grow.

Dead leaves? We know that nothing is dead in nature, that in her wise economy she finds a use for that which, losing one form, may take on fresh duties in another.

Some of us, grown old perhaps in the service of Theosophy, or incapacitated by illness and infirmity, feel at times a great weariness and dissatisfaction. However bravely we face the world, secretly we feel unwanted. It seems that there is no work for us to do. The activities of life are over, our muscular energy is used up. We have become lookers-on at things, and our hearts are apt to grow heavy with frustration and the apparent uselessness of our days.

Can we not help to make the ground rich? Have we so lost faith: — (Oh yes, it is desperately easy to do so when pain and weariness get us down)? Have we so lost faith in ourselves as to doubt the power of thought? Because we do not see thought working, are we going to deny our belief that it does so?

Many of us have our moments, hours, of despair. Shelley, in his great loneliness of spirit, invoking the West Wind, cried,

A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed
One too like thee, tameless and swift and proud.

— A bitter lesson. But perhaps before we can grow, it is necessary to experience in this incarnation loss of freedom, the curb, the situation that humbles our pride of achievement. We have to learn the power that can be generated by merely sitting still and controlling the mind, directing it with ever conscious effort towards good will.

Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like withered leaves to quicken a new birth.

If we leave out the word "dead," we take away from the balance of the meter, but we add to the truth of the idea. For thoughts are not dead. We can, each one of us, however enfeebled, while the will towards the Theosophic life lasts, be reservoirs of thought, storehouses of life-giving energy, though our thoughts work on another plane, and we cannot see their effects.

Nature is a great teacher. We cannot go far wrong if we study her plan. We learn that she has no waste. Like the leaves, we may be in the ditch. Let us not be mistaken and imagine that we are on the shelf.

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