At the center of everything is Divinity, and around this immutable core every entity builds a suitable form during each incarnation. Through the infinite ages this material vehicle clothing the manifested godspark is transmuted by the rhythms of life, thus enabling the center of Being to shine through in ever-increasing brilliance. Seen from this perspective all things have majesty, not withstanding any material aspects that a beholder may judge to be repulsive.
To lose sight of this beauty and unity, which binds us to each other and to every animate or (to us) inanimate thing, is to blind ourselves not only to the wonders that surround us but also to the intimate wonder of our true self. How can we fully acknowledge our divine center if we fail to accept, and treat accordingly, all things containing a similar portion of the same immutable substance? Our inner eye looks out at the world through a fortress with dark windows formed by our thoughts, aspirations, prejudices, and perceptions. It is this encasement of the immortal consciousness that has to be clarified of dross and made suitably translucent so that we can see the ethereal realms of the spirit ever more clearly.
It is as if we have a very bright light focused on the false self — that element of ourselves that desires worldly things such as fame, possessions, acclaim, control, and vengeance. When we look through the windows of the soul, the brighter the glare on the false self, the more we see only the reflection of this self and are unable to see much beyond the glass. This makes it difficult to perceive or understand the universal needs of our divine nature. If we dim the lights on our passions and desires, the reflection is less opaque and we can see more clearly the world that belongs to our true center, allowing us to act in ways that are in accord with the concerns of divinity, namely altruism and compassion.
There is a Buddhist saying: "To light a candle before the Buddha one must first extinguish the self." This self refers to the small, petty self; the true self can never be extinguished for it is the carrier of the flame of immortality. The profound truth is that the candle we need to light is a polished soul that we have freed from the snares of illusion cast by worldly desires and the lesser self.
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2004; copyright © 2004 Theosophical University Press)