How are we to make practical use of our faith in universal brotherhood? One answer is by adventuring in brotherhood. Perhaps you object: "I have no time to practice idealism in daily life — I have a family to provide for!" Or, "The people I come in contact with have no interest in the spiritual human values — I should be laughed at were I to broach the subject of brotherhood!"
These points of view, valid though they appear at first blush, make us wonder if those who offer them have not missed something, a vital something. In fact, the chances are that one who so holds is like the man who builds his house on shifting sands, without substantial foundation. Before we can safely enter upon our adventures in brotherhood we must begin by being a brother.
Unless we base our quest on the solid rock of self-understanding, and have learned to restrain by the higher Self the selfish impulses of the lower mind, we may as well expect disappointment.
Let us then make our first brotherhood adventure an inquiry into the basic spirit underlying our enterprise. A simple method of doing this is to ask "to how large a circle of family, friends and acquaintances, am I really brother-minded?" We may find that there are very many degrees of brotherly feeling from the "greater love" that no man can exceed, to the mere tolerance with which we contemplate our fellow-men in, for example, Chinese or Hindu bodies. Then there is the type of character known as the good hater because of his strong antipathies to men or groups who have incurred his displeasure.
In the former case we discover at once that the easy method to apply is systematically to enlarge our sympathies with the ever-broadening circles of our human brotherhood; in case we find ourselves afflicted with hatreds, be they "good" ones or otherwise, each must be cured by sowing the seeds of love in our own minds: for hatred, love is the one and only positive cure.
We have now considered in outline the intensity and extent of our spirit of brotherhood; there remains to be brought under the spotlight its quality. To pass muster our brotherliness must be free from the taint of selfishness. If we hope for a return for our brotherly acts, whether it be in financial or other material terms, or merely in human applause, and whether we are aware or not in our conscious thinking that such a wish for self-benefit exists in our minds, we cannot expect to adventure far.
The cure for selfishness is to seek those objectives only which are pleasing to the higher Self — duty, truth, love!
But long before the purifying of our motives has been completed, the higher Self will begin to act through the lower, impelling us to venture forth upon some quest. We shall then view the world and its creatures in a new light. The higher Self in us will sound its clarion call to invoke the higher Self in our brother, whether that brother be Greek, Negro or Jew, master or servant. To the spirit in man conventionalities seem as trivial as do gradations of rank in a democracy. Despite all obstacles "Deep will call unto deep," be it in the office or in the home, in the market place or on a street car.
Once the spirit of adventure has taken hold of a man he will not for long have to wait for the next brother who needs help to appear. And as he learns to understand and to be able to assist others, so in turn does this strengthen his knowledge of his own inner being and make him more truly a worker for the sacred cause of universal brotherhood.
(From Sunrise magazine, March 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)
A GRADELY PRAYER *
Give us, Lord, a bit o' sun,
A bit o' work and a bit o' fun;
Give us aw in th' struggle and splutter
Eaur daily bread and a bit o' butter;
Give us health, eaur keep to make
An' a bit to spare for poor folks' sake;
Give us sense, for we're some of us duffers,
An' a heart to feel for aw that suffers;
Give us, too, a bit of a song,
An' a tale, and a book to help us along;
An' give us our share o' sorrow's lesson,
That we may prove heaw grief's a blessin'.
Give us, Lord, a chance to be
Eaur gradely best, brave, wise and free,
Eaur gradely best for eaursels and others,
Till aw men larn to live as brothers.
* Taken from a plaque on the wall of a country inn in Lancashire. Gradely — in modern use in Lancashire, with the significance of "decent, respectable, worthy." Under various spellings, this sturdy Anglo-Saxon word has continued since the early centuries of our era, probably deriving from Old Norse. — V. Pfleiderer