Who of us has not felt, in our desire to be of service to humanity, our utter helplessness in the midst of onrushing events, which seem to be sweeping away everything of value that we have been to such pains to build up in the past? There is a longing, I know, in human hearts everywhere, to be of help in some way.
"How I would love to do something for mankind, but I can't because I don't have the time or the means. I do not even have the strength and supply I need to keep myself going."
This, or something very similar, is the pattern of the thinking of thousands. So latent spiritual energies that might be used are bottled up, never given a chance for expression. We overlook the immediate — the beginnings — in our zeal to do something big, something which we consider worthwhile and effective, forgetting the fact that we have to begin where we are with what we have, giving thanks for our assets, whatever they may be. A thankful heart is an expanding, radiating heart, and has great attracting power. A grateful spirit, a heart full of love, is a priceless possession, and we can dedicate this with joy to the service of humanity, using whatever abilities we have. Nothing is small or insignificant in the spiritual life — in fact it is the seemingly little things that build and support it.
No one has control of our thoughts or inner life, which is the life of Reality. We can dwell forever in "the kingdom of heaven" and still be doing the outside necessary material work, and much more effectively and with more far reaching results, than without these inner resources. We need not concern ourselves too much with how it is done and supported. The material support will come, right along with our developing spiritual powers and talents. We have had the promise of a great teacher and master — Jesus the Christ: "Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all these other things will be added unto you."
What will be added? — All the desirable things that we feel we must have before we can really be of help in the world? Abilities and talents unrecognized until we have tried to use them will come to the fore, with courage and strength of character to inspire others. Those who dwell "in the kingdom" are supplied with their daily needs, opportunities turn up in the most unexpected places, and our eyes are open to see them. But this doesn't happen unless the necessary beginnings have been made.
You cannot have "the kingdom of heaven" within yourself and not radiate it to everyone with whom you come in contact, in fact to everyone towards whom you direct your thoughts. It is not necessary consciously to send your thoughts to anyone, nor is it right to try to influence others — to have the kingdom within is enough. Subtle forces will be set in motion that will bring your own to you, and you will be cared for. It cannot be a selfish thing. Everything must be shared and used for the benefit of others.
If we are doing these things; if we have this inner adjustment, we are already helping humanity, more than we can measure, and opportunities for service will come, just in proportion to our perseverance and faith — a faith in the unfailing working of the laws of the universe.
The grand and the heroic nearly always has had a very small and humble beginning, with a background of long preparation and struggle. The story of Mary Bethune in The Reader's Digest for February keeps coming into mind. She surely had about as little as anyone to begin with, and overcame handicaps that most of us would think insurmountable. But she did have an overwhelming faith, perseverance and love for her fellow human beings. With these spiritual qualities and no material means at all to start with, she brought education to her race, founded on sound spiritual and ethical principles. Bethune-Cookman College is a living and growing testimonial of a completely dedicated life.
All of us will not be led to such a heroic role, but undoubtedly every one of us has a special work which no one else can do. It may be a very quiet and humble place we are to fill, unknown to the world at large, or it may suddenly lead into something big we never dreamed of. Who can say which is the more important? The great could not be if it were not for the small — for the undying loyal support of the many.
(From Sunrise magazine, February 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)
It is better to do one's own duty, even though it be devoid of excellence, than to perform another's duty well. It is better to perish in the performance of one's own duty; the duty of another is full of danger — Bhagavad-Gita