Just as there is a season to plant and a season to reap, incarnation for activity and excarnation for assimilation, a period for the rise and a period for the fall of a civilization, so there are times when the prevailing tides of spiritual growth inspire, favor, and require the development of certain facets of consciousness in mankind. For there was a time when humanity on our earth did not have the faculty of ratiocination and a time during which it acquired or awakened this power, when mind as we know it today became operative.
Activity in harmony with any natural tide, whether cosmic or human, obviously brings results peculiar to that tide and is the appropriate step forward in evolutionary development. I believe that the tidal impulse of today is moving toward selflessness, and for mankind this means the awakening of a faculty higher than mind. It is the old, old command of "Give up your life if you would live." In the past there have always been individuals who have attained this stature, and they have stood out as lesser or greater leaders; they have given, and the large majority has taken. In the present cycle, there appears to be a strange dearth of leaders, but in reality there is no dearth; it is only that the type has changed to fit the times and often we do not recognize the new type.
The age of dogma, the list of definite "do this" and "don't do that" items, has passed and each individual is feeling, however vaguely, the pressure and necessity to discover or uncover within his own inner nature the signposts for the part he is meant to play in the purposeful and orderly life of our universe. If he can forget himself, his personal wishes and wants, and with all of the sincerity and strength he has at his command, ask: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" then he will know the way he is to respond to the demands of his daily life in harmony with universal law. If he then follows that way to the best of his ability, he will find as the months go by that he has a growing source of vision and strength. He will also find that the instant his personal wishes interfere he will lose this, as surely as he loses the light when he switches off the electric current.
Generally speaking, from a material standpoint, a child is largely on the "getting" end until his schooling is completed; then he is on his own. He must earn what he gets; he gets what he earns. Today humanity all over our world is in a sense grown up, is spiritually at the stage where each person has an opportunity and a mandate as never before to attain what in the past was attainable only by the few — a firmer sense of inner guidance, a reliance in lesser or greater degree, depending upon the individual, upon his own inner Christ, Buddha, Lord, Self. Those who are able to make this conscious step forward will in time enter a new area of motivation, with new sorrows and new joys, new problems and new solutions — truly a shifting of the center of their consciousness.
Life is purposeful, and the individual walking the path of selflessness as best he can comes to understand that purpose by cooperating with it. He is then indeed in the process of assuming a larger share of the universal responsibility. Something beyond the mind has begun to function in him.
When we follow this path, we find leaders and helpers outer as well as inner — not to tease along, cajole, or lay down hard and fast rules as in the past, but by example and suggestion to inspire and help us to awaken and use our power of discernment to meet our own problems in our own way. Leaders have not become indifferent, but humanity is coming of age and must for its survival learn to recognize and fulfill its greater responsibilities. Because of ignorance and limitation we often fail, but once we have even a faint perception of the possibilities before us, we will be impelled to keep on trying, to the end that all may be free in the fullest sense of the word.
(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)