THEOSOPHY, Vol. 51, No. 9, July, 1963
(Pages 248-250; Size: 8K)


[Article number (9) in this Q&A Department]

It seems that as soon as a person attempts to raise himself out of mediocrity and to lead a more sensitized kind of life, he finds himself constantly hindered, interrupted by a thousand trivial situations. He may, for example, be trying to read or write a poem, -- or "feel" a symphony, or sense some of the mystery behind a simple object -- when suddenly the phone will ring or a friend will come in and slam the door. At such moments, a person is likely to have a sinking feeling, a sense of desperate frustration. Yet surely there must be a better attitude one could take, a more positive reaction to the flood of dulling trivialities in which we live.

It is said that any concentrated effort in the direction of good stirs up an equally strong antagonistic force. This is quite understandable, on one level at least. It is inevitable that a prisoner will feel his chains most acutely when he is trying to escape from them. Yet any negative feeling -- even towards the chains which bind us -- must be wrong. It is the equal and opposite reaction to our positive aspiration; and therefore, however pure the sensitivity we are striving to achieve, it is completely voided if we feel annoyed or frustrated with the person who interrupts our "meditation." At such times of mental discomfort, it is also possible to futilely turn on ourselves, and to be suddenly filled with the devastating feeling that we are of no real help to anyone in the world, that all our fine thoughts and perceptions are mere vanity, since our relationships with our friends are full of friction. And yet that feeling also -- so hard to avoid at times -- is quite negative, unless it can in some way be used to goad us into a more positive, buoyant attitude towards ourselves and those around us.

"I know it was hard, my children," says the old blinded Oedipus, a few moments before his incredible sufferings are to come to an end in death, "and yet one word makes all those difficulties disappear: That word is love." If Oedipus is right, what are the implications? Can we love all these illusions and limitations which constantly threaten to overwhelm us?

Perhaps we can, if we understand -- as Oedipus did -- that there are two kinds of love. The first is the blind psychic involvement with matter (symbolized by Oedipus' relationship with his mother), while the second is the pure, all-including sunlit love born of spiritual perspective (symbolized by his love for his children). This is not a mere literary abstraction. Such subtle opposites, which words are often too blunt to express, compose the very stuff that life is made of. And the growing ability to discern such shades of difference makes us love life all the more -- love, that is, in the sunlit sense of the word.

Usually, it seems, we lurch through life, like a car without brakes on a downhill grade, veering this way and that to avoid the pain of hitting obstacles. Yet if we could somehow achieve an internal quietness and steadiness -- if we could, in Henry Miller's wonderful phrase, "stand still like a hummingbird" -- we might not be thrown into despair when our pursuit of some subtle perception is interrupted by a sudden noise, or the imposition of some thought-cluttering obligation. It would seem, then, that we must keep an internal balance (much like a hummingbird's), so that we can change our course instantly to adjust to new conditions, no matter how fast we may be "flying."

A slamming door is beautiful. If we do not find it so, we are spending our time waiting to live. Ideally, then, we should have no preferences in life, but should be able to give ourselves fully to every subtle change in the current of existence, so that eventually we may be able to make the plunge into the ultimate mystery behind our living and dying, in much the same way that a fish gathers itself together and hurtles out of the water. Yet it is another of the subtle paradoxes of life that this heroic leap of the soul is in a real sense effortless. If we are consciously trying, we are at the same time excluding. If we grasp at some perception, and try to hold it in our hands, it will die, become an "ism," and we will miss the flow of life.

It would seem, therefore, that if a friend barges in while we are deep in thought, we should let go of our precious perceptions, and without a moment's regret, turn to our friend and meet him as fully as we possibly can, at the same time recognizing the change of tone, of level, and savoring the subtle quality or atmosphere of that transition. Along with seeking realizations about life, we must also learn simply to let life happen. It will.

As Rilke so powerfully puts it:

                    Don't think I am wooing,
Angel, and, if I were, you wouldn't come.
For my appeal is always full of refusal.
You cannot stride against so strong a flood.
Like an outstretched arm is my call. And its grasping
Upward open hand stays before you,
Open, as safeguard and warning,
You unseizable one, wide open.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


It is true, we must aspire ardently, and blessed is the one who, after the first aspiration, is wise enough to see the Truth.

Three qualities forever encompass us: Satwa (truth and stability), Rajas (action, war, aspiration, ambition), Tamas (indifference, ignorance, darkness).

None may be ignored. So the path lies from Tamas, up through war, ambition, and aspiration, to Satwa, or truth and stability. We are now in Rajasika regions, sometimes lifting our fingers up to the hem of the garment of Satwa, ever aspiring, ever trying to purify our thoughts and free ourselves from the attachment to actions and objects. So, of course, the ardent student naturally aspires for power. This is wise. But he must soon begin to see what he must do for real progress. For continual aspiration for power, merely, is sure to sow for us the giant weed of self. 


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[Article number (10) in this Q&A Department]

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