Love is the driving force behind the universe. As spiritual beings, it is our inmost essence, ever seeking to express itself in our lives, and particularly in our relations with others. At the same time we are faced with the reality of discord and evil in human life. How can we create harmony in ourselves and in the world around us? William Q. Judge gave the following advice to some of his students:
Be what you love. Strive after what you find beautiful and high, and let the rest go. Harmony, sacrifice, devotion: take these as keynotes. Express them everywhere and in the highest possible way.
Whether we wish to or not, we will in time become whatever we fix our hearts and minds upon. Our automatic tendency is to emulate whatever appeals strongly to us, because our psychological nature is plastic and impressionable. Through imagination, consciously or unconsciously used, we bring about and conform ourselves to whatever we focus on. Therefore it is particularly important to be careful about where we habitually center our mental and emotional energies. By aspiring toward what we find "beautiful and high," we begin to transform our whole being along corresponding lines.
Transformation is notoriously difficult to achieve, in large part because the law of physics that "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction" applies in the psychological realm as well. When we decide to concentrate on what is "beautiful and high," those parts of us attracted to opposite thoughts react equally strongly against our choice, and all too often succeed in reestablishing the status quo in our awareness and ambitions. Fighting these contrary forces is ineffective since the more we focus on them, the more power we give them. To struggle with them is to supercharge them with life. To acknowledge and then disregard these negative aspects cuts off their energy supply and loosens their hold upon us.
In striving to become more than we are now, it is vital, as Judge suggests, to "let the rest go" — to release all the hurts, wrongs, bitterness, disappointments, and negative feelings we cherish about others and their actions, and about ourselves. Otherwise we are focusing on the dark side of life, reinforcing the very energies we despise. We certainly cannot concentrate on what we love if we are focusing on what angers or grieves us. To release our concentration from the negative aspects of ourselves and others does not trivialize events that caused these thoughts or imply that our feelings are unfounded; nor does it exonerate anyone who performed unkind or malicious actions. It simply means we do not choose to invest our energy, attention, and will along those lines. Moreover, we can be confident that every cause set in motion will always give rise to the most appropriate and equitable results without our adding to the problem by brooding upon it, holding a grudge, or seeking revenge. By letting go of the past, we take away its power to limit and distract us.
In our attempts at external harmony, however, we all too often produce an artificial serenity which conceals an inner disharmony, because its peace results from a suppression of conflict or ill-feeling. True harmony reflects an inner condition arising from a profound recognition of our essential oneness with others despite inevitable disagreements and differences. And as we obtain increasing mastery of our own unevolved aspects of mind and feeling, we contribute less and less friction and psychological pollution to our surroundings.
One of H. P. Blavatsky's teachers has said, "There is no happiness for one who is ever thinking of Self and forgetting all other Selves. . . . The Universe groans under the weight of such [selfish] action (Karma), and none other than self-sacrificial Karma relieves it." (H. P. Blavatsky to the American Conventions, p. 22.) Certainly the grievous weight of human karma sometimes makes the earth seem a veritable hell. Our treatment of each other and of other living beings, our violence, cruelty, greed, and indifference, can be almost overwhelming, raising doubts about whether the human species can continue to exist if it maintains its present habits. One potent way we as individuals can counter these long-standing trends — in collective humanity and within each of us — is by putting the interests of others above our selfish concerns. This means sacrificing our lesser self, with its resentments and self-involvement, to our spiritual self, thus becoming karmic "antibodies" acting in the interest of the whole to which we belong. In this way we can lessen to some degree the poisonous atmosphere of selfishness that envelops mankind. To sacrifice is to make holy, and by self-sacrifice we sanctify or spiritualize our ordinary consciousness, raising it over time to a more universal, godlike level.
Nonetheless, to forgo "justice," to meet ignorance, selfishness, and perhaps malice, with compassionate understanding instead of some type of retaliation generally appears unrealistic and even dangerous to our day-to-day consciousness. But, as the teacher said, the strong currents of karma from human antipathy, aggression, and self-centeredness can be counteracted only by selflessness, loving kindness, and an absolute confidence in the ultimate justice of the spiritual foundation of the universe. Kindness does not imply blindness or foolishness, but rather courage to act appropriately in a situation without yielding to the demands of one's own egotism and smallness of character.
Few, however, will practice self-sacrifice unless they are devoted to something so much grander than their everyday selves that they are willing and eager to make the repeated efforts necessary to bring their personality into closer alignment with the radiant inner divinity at their heart, even at the cost of flying in the face of habit and conventional wisdom. But once we decide to be watchful of our feelings, to strive to be the best we can imagine and let the rest go, then we do begin to embody what we wish to become and, gradually, to express it everywhere in increasing fullness. Strangely enough, following this apparently inner path effectively betters the lot of those we never meet, while influencing for good our family, co-workers, acquaintances, and surroundings — not by our deliberately setting an example, seeking to sway others, or being relentless do-gooders, but by trying to live, as naturally and completely as we can, the compassion and harmony which sustain and ennoble the universe.
(From Sunrise magazine, February/March 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Theosophical University Press)
From our spiritual depths we come forth into worldly existence to resume a pilgrimage towards wider vistas of selfhood. This journey leads through various circumstances of our own design, enabling us in time to bring forth a greater divinity from within our own nature. On our self-made path of karma we surround ourselves with the most appropriate life experiences: joys and happinesses, trials and errors, pains and sufferings. The latter always bring the greatest teachings for the soul, for they burn away the dross of materialism and selfishness. They help to soften us, evoking a more compassionate, godlike, inclusive nature.
This pilgrimage of mankind — and in fact of every living being — has no definite beginnings or endings, only shorter or longer periods of rest. By our own vibrational quality we are attracted to the natures and conditions best suited to our past karmic seeds. There we grow in the fields of our own sowing, flowering forth the best that we have thus far achieved. After death the highest in us reunites with divinity, while the human soul rests and assimilates the experiences of its past life. Once these events have been digested, the soul stirs with an innate desire to obtain again a worldly existence, to awaken and participate once more in the unfolding drama of selfhood.
Cycles are everywhere and within everything: such is the law of nature. As the child comes into life seeking to grow from within itself to be like its parent, so the human soul seeks to become like its inner spiritual parent. Just as the child cannot mature in one day, the human soul cannot ascend to its spiritual source in only one lifetime. We see everything, great and small, participating in these cycles and revolutions; how, then, can we leave ourselves and human rebirth out of the picture? — Doreen N. Melbrod