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Most Theosophists will agree that there are occult forces at work in their lives. This is taken for granted as a tenet of faith for some, a proven fact for others, and a point of conjecture for those awaiting confirmation. Service, in and of itself, is a noble endeavour rewarding merit to those who sacrifice their time, money and effort for bringing a little hope, light, and relief to those struggling with mere existence.
AII of us look to those who set aside self and reach out to others in need. There is no shortage of worthy causes: the poor, the sick, the displaced, our animal friends and even plants. But where does it end? When do we stop and say that we have contributed enough? Do we stop when we feel exhausted from the never-ending flood of human demands? How can we possibly serve them all?
There will always be another problem to solve, another dollar to be donated, another hour to be spent in the service of others. Some say this is the life that we are meant to live for it inspires the development of a higher consciousness in which no separation is perceived between self and others. Thus we come to an understanding and an appreciation of that great occult truth that we are all One. But we can exhaust ourselves from the feeling that what we have done today was not enough; that tomorrow will bring more need than today; that no matter how much we contribute there seems to be an ever-deepening well of despair to counter our limited time, money and capacity to make any difference at all in a world so much in need.
Yet, when the solution to this dilemma is found, it is the delight of those who have found it to be able to give even more without experiencing extra struggle or exhaustion. Service to others then becomes a consequence of our evolution, not a struggle at the energetic expense of ourselves. So what possible resource do we have access to that would allow such an abundant flow of energy in service to others?
No one, Theosophist or otherwise, has not heard the saying: ''It lies within ourselves.'' We read it everywhere and certainly revered spiritual leaders endorse this idea. However, when we experience an agonising desire to do more and look within, it seems there is nothing left to give. Yet, it is there within ourselves waiting patiently to be discovered – an abundant energy that can explode into a wealth of limitless, selfless service, difficult to fathom.
We may conceptualise that the answer lies within ourselves but in reality it is ourselves. Put aside the concept of within or without and look at the idea of ‘being’. It is our being that is the resource; it is the occult answer that is not apparent until we stumble upon it or are directed to it. So how can we Be so that this never-ending resource is accessible? That answer lies in what we consider to be the occult side – occult in the sense that we do not readily perceive it. It is occult in that it is there as us, as who we are. It is not that it is within us; it is us, as who we really are.
Do you ever have a day when nothing seems to be going right? You get cut-off in the grocery line, the store clerk is rude and inattentive, and nothing you do seems to be going your way. Or do you ever have a day when everything just falls into place seemingly of its own accord? Here lies the secret and the key to discovering what is happening in these situations: every thought, every emotion, every intent hidden within us is radiating into the universe. This is our occult nature, a nature that those with the skill to read auras can perceive. Those without this perceptual skill still receive these impressions and are affected by them. They are felt by others as impulses to act in certain ways which mirror the incoming intent, good or bad, positive or negative. Our thoughts and emotions don’t just pervade our aura but our very Being. We cannot hide or conceal this.
A simple experiment anyone can do will show this to be true. Next time you drive down the road and someone tailgates you, simply look in the rear-view mirror and say to yourself: ''I am transparent to your negative emotions.” Inevitably the tailgater will slow down and give you more room. Then if you are daring enough, change your attitude to one of feeling crowded and annoyed. Immediately, the tailgater will advance closer again. This simple demonstration shows how much our occult influence affects others. To relieve the pressure from the tailgater, pull into another lane and let them pass with your blessing.
This experiment relates directly back to who we are at the level of Being. In order to project into the world that which we want to project, we cannot just change our minds and harness our emotions. The change required involves our whole being and all those hidden layers of consciousness vibrating and radiating their influences. Self culture, self-directed and self-tested, is the goal. Look to those who have gone before and radiated positively their influence out into the world and into time itself. I. K. Taimni, an Indian Theosophist, bequeathed to us an instruction manual par excellence. It is called Self Culture in the Light of Ancient Wisdom. This was the last book l thought I would be interested in and I could only pretend interest when first picking up this book. But, the lightning of comprehension struck. The concept of the massive influence we have on those around us shifted my attention so completely that I am still reeling from this new understanding.
Service can become not a duty to be begrudged and tolerated but an opportunity to experiment with a truly selfless approach. Purity of mind, purity of head and purity of body is what is called for. Above and beyond these, the flag of Selflessness that truly makes a difference is Purity of Heart. We cannot escape this Truth. There is no place to hide our true intent; what we are, we project. Our salvation and the salvation of others is directly linked with who we are. Self culture is an ongoing practice. We have to start somewhere, and now, today, right here, is where it begins. The moment you decide to participate in your own self culture, positive forces begin to stir and assist you on your way.
With gentle perseverance and self-forgiveness, we can with humility and compassion guide our own footsteps towards a better self. Often it is heard that ''to change the world we must first change ourselves.'' Until the fruit of self culture shines forth, this remains a mysterious saying. Then the truth behind this adage dawns upon us in a way that the Truth always does, and we beg forgiveness for our arrogant ignorance.
The Theosophical Order of Service is for some an act of faith and humility, a concrete expression of the ideals we hold. For some it is a duty, a practice, an opportunity to help when one feels the call. Self culture practised daily becomes a driving force so unfathomable in its import and effect, that service becomes a joy, an expression of heart that screams to be let out. How simple it is. How sublimely simple it has always been.
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