Issue14 - Feb 2011       Back to newsletter | to TOS website

Joy MillsThe possible and the necessary

by Joy Mills


“Some good things have happened to us this year. The trouble is we haven’t happened to anything.” So wrote a correspondent recently, commenting on activities within a lodge. There is, of course, a vast difference between letting things happen and making them happen. It is essentially the difference between following the path of hope and choosing to walk the road of risk. For hope is sustained by the possible, out of unquenchable faith that whatever may happen to us will find us prepared and able to meet the event. Risk, on the other hand, means the abandonment of worn-out certainties and, with a certain humility and a fresh provisonality, seeking ways for achieving the necessary.

Even to accomplish the possible takes some courage. Not everyone is willing to undertake the possible, for it can mean some slight discomfort to one’s personal patterns, some interruption of personal pleasure. To assess what is possible for engaging in theosophical service means to take the measure of ourselves, our resources, our capacities, our talents, our weaknesses, our strengths. Yet so many good things are happening to us just now – opportunities that have seldom if ever been available, challenges that test our commitment; it is for us to happen to all these good things!
But beyond the possible, what is necessary? Early in the correspondence with A.P. Sinnett, one of HPB’s Mahatmic teachers wrote: “We are playing a risky game and the stakes are human souls.” (See The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, Letter 9.) The crises of our times demand more than what is possible, for we are still involved in that ‘risky game’. We dare not shrivel our dreams to match our deeds; rather our ideals should always exceed the possibility of our acts. Only when we cease to take the measure of ourselves against what is possible and forget ourselves in a total commitment of all we are and all we have for what is necessary, will we truly measure up to humanity’s needs.

Whether we opt for the continuum of tension and anguish or for the continuum of peace and love is the choice before us. There are risks either way. It is possible to fail in our efforts and we can take the risks of failure. But it is necessary that we succeed and our risks should be those of ultimate triumph. For the Theosophist can never be content with letting things happen, however good or promising the events may be. We must happen to the world in such a way that we, becoming inwardly transformed, transform the world. This is not to say we must become activists in every good cause (though activist we may become on occasion and if we so choose), but that we are active (at least in thought for thought itself is an active power) at every moment in that single cause which is the enlightenment of all humanity. “To live to benefit mankind is the first step”, The Voice of the Silence reminds us.

It is possible to do lip-service to the ideal of brotherhood; it is possible to repeat the worn-out certainties of book learning; it is possible to continue the same routines, the same types of programmes, the same methods of study, the same kinds of presentations, year in and year out. It is possible to be satisfied that we are doing the best we can, to be satisfied that we are too small, too weak, too lacking in talent or capacity, to do more, to be satisfied that occasionally some really good things do happen to us. But the unrest around us, the desperation of human need, the urgency of human hunger (not simply for bread, but for the bread of wisdom), demand we move beyond the possible to the necessary.

It is necessary that we be willing to live out, in daily encounters, the very essence of brotherhood. It is necessary that we probe the old truths for new meanings that can only emerge in the revelation of our lives. It is necessary now that we speak clearly, so convincingly; so meaningfully, in terms that will alert the mind and awaken the heart to a new mode of being which is compassion incarnate. It is then not impossible to conceive that one day it will be said that humanity turned from the madness of war, poverty, pollution, greed, to the sanity of peace and understanding not only because the light of Theosophy shone upon the world, but because there walked in the world Theosophists whose lives gave forth the fragrance of love, the beauty of caring. Yes, because we happened to the world in its hour of need.
Extracts re-printed from Theosophy in Australia, September 1994


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