In the vast world of individuals, we are each thinking and feeling our way through the corridors of time to a distant spiritual goal. Although we do not yet comprehend all the steps necessary to be taken, and the goal continually recedes, it is obvious that we are on this journey through the ages together. As far as we can discover there is no step that others have not taken before us; all our questions have been answered long ago, in principle. Their traces are evident in customs, in literature, and most profoundly in philosophical and religious thought, all the way up to the highest quality of human experience. When we need them most, and search deepest, we can always find inspiring guides to fuller truth. There seems to be a magnetic power in the desire for enlightenment that leads us to them, or draws them within range of our perception.
Thinking is our most free and priceless privilege. The thoughts we attract do nothing for us in themselves; it is the quality of our discernment and motives for seeking them that make them useful to us, or otherwise. How often do thoughts of high inspiration flow far too quickly through our minds, and we cannot retain them, though we long to do so. We simply receive them and let them go again — only to find later that they are difficult to recall.
The use we make of thoughts thus depends upon our ability to discard the false elements and transform some degree of their true quality into the fabric of our daily action and attitude. This is the equality of opportunity we all have, and in this sense we are each the architect and contractor of ourselves. When the motive is in terms of the highest values we know, we find that our concern is as much for the welfare of others as for our own.
We create our lives by thought and effort, a fabric so intricately blended with companions on this journey that we cannot begin to separate the threads of infinite variety that we have received. Everything in our experience is composed of give and take between ourselves and others. Even the talents which seem so precisely our own, how could they have been exercised except through the opportunities brought about by our relationships with other people? Can we claim full credit even for a talent? It sometimes seems to me that everything of any account at all in myself I owe to what I have received in time and attention, effort and thought, from others. So — and I know I am not alone in this — we have our moments of being exceedingly grateful for all that we have received from the great stream of human life, and in fact from all nature. Because we feel such gratitude, we long to make our own contribution to it more valuable. While we feel no less dependent upon the stream of life from which we continually take, we know that we have to discover how to give in higher quality, how to become more dependable.
The natural way is to learn from the day-by-day experiences we share as best we can in terms of a wider scope of both time and perception: to look through today and our present selves into the eternity of time through which we have come and into which we are traveling. Actually, without thinking of it we are doing just that, in degree, for we know we cannot remain static in time nor in our own growth — whatever we hope to become. Through the tiny opening of each moment we look into duration, and the lens that amplifies or cramps our view is finely ground from the mill of remembered — and forgotten — experience.
There is immense comfort in the realization that we are moving forward together, that if we can be big enough, open-minded enough, to accept the opportunities that come our way, they will always be there for our mutual benefit. For we are inseparable from each other. Best of all is the inspiring example of those who have already traveled the high-road and left all the instructions that we can possibly put into practice for finding the way to spiritual understanding — even up to the very gates of the gods.
(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 2004; copyright © 2004 Theosophical University Press)