The Theosophical Forum – September 1939

SEEING ROUND THE CORNER — Grace Frances Knoche

"If I could only see round the corner; if I could know for certain there is a road; get a glimpse of the future so that I could know how to act now." Alas! how often this cry of despair escapes from the soul in its human blindness. But perhaps if we were vouchsafed a vision, could we stand it? How many of us would not be blinded or turned to stone in our desire for illegal gain! Let us draw the veil from the past and study conditions: Suppose we had known to a detail all the horror and pain that was in store; suppose we had visioned that corner after corner would reveal yet more doors of loneliness and pain; until finally, after perhaps years of agonizing stupidity the soul would have so rebelled at its ignorance and desire, that it would break free, and once again climb slowly the steps of inner self-respect to beauty and freedom. Suppose all this had been revealed in cruel detail? Could we have stood the sight? Would we have had the courage to meet karmic consequences with even the small measure of innate decency that we did? Perhaps; but very likely we would have so cringed, so quailed, before the unflinching fire of purgation, that instead of remembering that it was our own self which ended our misery, we might have cursed others and thrown our lot in with downward currents, thus delaying for even a longer period the awakening fire of understanding and consequent freedom.

No; Nature is far kindlier in her methods than man. In the merciful withholding of her dark secrets, she blinds not, but gradually restores light to the stricken soul. As time turns the pages of destiny and we observe the lives of our brothers, we see victory born of defeat, and we marvel at her understanding. Had they known the pain; had they known the sorrow; had they foreseen the poverty to come, or the near destruction of their life's work — perhaps ultimate success would not have come; possibly more pain, born of weakness and cowardice, would have resulted, until the soul had learned bravely to take the karman of its past.

"If only we had known," how gratefully we would have tendered love and care instead of injury and indifference; how we would have sacrificed pettiness for generosity; selfishness for understanding. Possibly. The fact remains, however, that we were willing, though doubtless in partial ignorance, to walk roughshod over others" rights and feelings, showing that we needed badly to suffer the lesson of remorse. We had yet to learn, through the pain of awakening too late, how warming are the springs of forethought for others, how beautiful the silent sympathy for a comrade in travail, how worthy the determination to serve rather than receive.

In the heart lie the issues of life; the brain can be educated, trained, and polished; but progress in spiritual things is made only when the heart understands. No argument is stronger than unsatisfied desire springing from an unillumined heart; likewise no edifice of thought is superior to courageous sympathy born of the understanding heart. The ways of Nature are kindly: she does not argue with a man about his weakness; she leads him to meet the issue of his folly through trials of the heart: gently she guides him through the valleys of pain, sorrow, and restraint. Then the heart stirs: sympathy, compassion, generosity of soul take birth. Instead of the conflict of tragedy, the man's life becomes a benediction of peace and intelligent harmony. A new corner is rounded, a corner leading to light, strength, and peace.

In our present stage of evolution, when selfishness, ignorance, and avarice, are the marks of "civilization," it is a blessing that the future is hid from our view. Just imagine an unkindly man knowing the pitfalls ahead for a brother: what a subject for the cruelty of watchfulness; for the horror of premeditated taunts by the scheming and unprincipled. Furthermore, what of the folly of our knowing the successes ahead for ourselves: would we not become mere laggards, or worse, arrogant fools?

We should not worry, therefore, about rounding corners; rather should we endeavor to hold tight through the difficult places to all that is decent, upright, and generous. We should remember that there is always a road round the corner, despite the blanket of fog and mist. Perhaps a friend will come and bring courage and peace through friendship; maybe a new thought will find entrance into the heart bringing light in its train; perhaps a timely shock will open our eyes to beauties that in our selfish hugging of our sorrow we had shrunk from glimpsing, afraid to release our pain.

The future can be divined, at least in broad outline; but it is our protection that we can discern of it but a vague glimmering of events to come. The man of strong and selfless action alone can stand the brilliance of complete knowledge. His future is a road of light: what was once the way of loneliness becomes the pathway of solitude, what was pain becomes sensitive appreciation through sympathy, what was despair becomes knowledge of truth made living through service. Earthly experience is revealed as a passing event in the historic unfolding of the soul.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition