Lessons in Becoming Human–II

To become truly human we need to understand that we are one with all things. The Bodhisattvas are those who have made a vow to save all living creatures. This may seem like a tall order, but the seeds are planted in our lives now. One does not go straight to a desire and ability to help all beings in the way that the Masters of Wisdom do; we start with small steps like helping our neighbour or doing acts of kindness to anyone we come in contact with. But we need to make a conscious effot to do these things; we need to generate the Bodhisattva heart. Kwan-Yin, who is exoterically the Goddess of Mercy, but esoterically the Voice of our Higher Self or conscience, made this vow:

Never will I seek nor receive private, individual salvation; never will I enter into final peace alone, but forever, and everywhere, will I live and strive for the redemption of every creature throughout the world.

Also, these verses from Buddhist teachings are worth meditating on:

If you are unable to exchange your happiness
For the suffering of other beings,
You have no hope of attaining Buddhahood
Or even of happiness in this life.

If one whom I have helped my best
And from whom I expect much,
Harms me in an inconceivable way,
May I regard that person as my best teacher.

I consider all living beings
More precious than "wish-fulfilling gems,"
A motivation to achieve the greatest goal:
So may I at all times care for them.

This is reminiscent of a chapter from the Lotus Sutra, which is the ultimate Buddhist Sutra for those wishing to lead the Bodhisattva Path. There is a character in this work called the Bodhisattva Never Despise. This being achieved enlightenment by the very act of revering the Buddha-nature in all things despite the fact that he was laughed at and persecuted by most people. Yet he followed to the letter the words in the above verses.

We can all think of many who have done this. H. P. Blavatsky was one such, who braved the insults and taunts of the ignorant and malicious to bring us priceless teachings. She too must have taken the Bodhisattva Vow, and towards the end of her life translated some wonderful precepts regarding the Path of Compassion in the book The Voice of the Silence.

If we try to universalize these teachings and apply them to our daily lives, we shall see that revering the Divine in everyone stems from the fact that inwardly we are all one. No matter how much we think we despise a certain person, essentially that person is us wearing another mask. It goes back to the fact that all the great Teachers who come to help humanity owe their inspiration to the same Being—the Silent Watcher—yet mankind, because of the Great Dire Heresy of Separateness, invents religions and all those things that reinforce the idea of separateness. And we do the same in our daily lives. The above-mentioned vow plants seeds in our mind that will eventually dissolve these illusions and help us to awaken to the beauty in the heart of our fellow-creatures. It will help us to develop that feeling that makes us truly human.

There is an interesting quote from H. P. Blavatsky's Message to the American Convention of 1888:

The function of Theosophists is to open men's hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learned to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.

A wonderful vision this. If we act from our true nature, the higher part of our nature, then we will truly function as human beings and develop an undying love for all things. The true Path lies in widening the sphere of our Love, as the Masters tell us. They say that the greater the progress towards deliverance, the more all personalities will dissolve, "becoming blended into one universal feeling, the only true and holy, the only unselfish and Eternal one—Love, an Immense Love for humanity—as a Whole!" Until we reach this stage, we have to develop through being aware of the highest expression of human feeling, and learn to read the hearts of others with love, compassion and understanding.

Furthermore, the Masters tell us that it is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is capable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical Brotherhood, who is entitled to the possession of their secrets. Love, then, opens doors and brings us to an awareness of our Oneness with all things. It is this and this alone that can help us to flower as humans. This needs to be coupled with an understanding of Theosophical doctrines, so that we do not wander along side roads and get lost. This is the reason why the Masters decided that the time was ripe to help humanity, because they could see that materialistic science and dogmatic religions were leading people along these side roads.

So the Path to true understanding of our fellow human beings begins here and now, on this very spot, at this very time. It is we ourselves who plant the seeds in our Holy Garden, no one else. It is we who must become aware of the values attached to true humanity and strive to live in tune with our Higher Selves. This is something that we all can do, because we are all Spiritual Beings in reality, though we have fallen victim to the overbearing influence of society. We tend to feel that to make a commitment to the Spiritual Path will take us away from all things that we love in the world, but once we come to understand that these things that we love are actually just fragmented substitutes for the unbroken love that lives in all our hearts, we shall act from purer motives. What is more, we tend to be frustrated by the fact that we cannot communicate properly with those around us. This is because we have a disjointed view of ourselves and others; we look into a broken mirror and the image is distorted. We are separated by the misunderstandings we have of one another; the more we learn to understand the hearts of others, the closer we shall grow and the walls that divide us will become bridges which we can cross to reach to others. No matter where we are on this journey, we can make a beginning. We can learn to share all those things that raise our spirits and bring us joy. We should do this with eagerness and enthusiasm. There is not a person who cannot do this at his or her particular level and derive great joy from the experience. Although the snake of selfishness has bitten us all, we can find the antidote, which is altruism—love for our fellow creatures. The Ashtavakragita says that:

The wise man knows the Self,
And he plays the game of life,
But the fool lives in the world
Like a beast of burden.

This means that he who has realized that the Self is everything and has attuned himself to the permanent part of his nature, sees life as a game which has to be played by its rules, while the "fool," which is another name for the ignorant, lives in the world like a beast of burden, getting stressed out about every little thing that he or she regards as being of importance. Even the fact that people starve and suffer in third-world countries is because the few with all the money regard it as being so important that they will not share it with their less fortunate brothers and sisters. They do not understand that life in the personal self is temporary and that all that we take with us when we leave this world is the Spiritual Knowledge we have gained; material knowledge and material wealth cannot benefit us in the long run. Did not Jesus tell us:

Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where it grows rusty and moth-eaten, and thieves break in to steal it. Store up treasure in heaven, where there is no moth and no rust to spoil it, no thieves to break in and steal. For where your wealth is, there will your heart be also.

This is saying exactly the same thing. One who lives a life of material wealth or intellectual glory, though they may be lauded in this life, are spiritually bankrupt, whereas one who lives a quiet, anonymous life—studying spiritual literature, meditating and trying his or her best to help and inspire others, is gaining the true wealth. Such people are becoming "human" and finding that the real heaven is in the human heart and in the beauty and understanding gained from breaking down the barriers mentioned earlier. These are illusory barriers that we ourselves have raised in ignorance. We have a deep misundersting of what it is to be human, and find it difficult to appreciate our fellow creatures at the most profound level and to relate to others in ways that are beautiful and inspiring. Despite this, it is possible to create the Golden Age even amidst the gloom of this age of Kali, of darkness, and to make Love a beacon light that shines amidst the sadness of our self-created hell. Most of the world's suffering, physical, mental and moral, would disappear if we could only awaken to and live in our Oneness with others.

So it is necessary to attune ourselves to that first feeling of infinite tender compassion and mercy that arose in the consciousness of the creative ONE FORCE, as soon as it came into life and being as a ray from the ABSOLUTE. We have to nurture in ourselves an all-embracing desire for universal good, love for all that lives and feels, needs help and kindness. This is if we are to cultivate in our heart those things that will make us human. Rather than curse the darkness, we need to light a candle. We need also to desire to create an atmosphere of Happiness and Love amidst the ruins of a sad world. Our very speech must become a mantra, a song that calms and eases the minds of others. It is only by appealing to the better nature of others that we can truly understand them. Conscience is one of the lower manifestations of the Higher Self. Those who lose sight of the conscience are capable of anything. The Spirit is one in all—it shines on all like the sun, but it is as if we looked out at the sun through a window; if we allow the window to become dusty, we do not see clearly and eventually the light will disappear for us, even though the golden orb shines still as bright.

Responsibility is the beginning of wisdom, the start of losing the sense of separateness. We need to become more heart-centred, rather than head-centred; to cultivate the intuitional and spiritual rather than the instinctual and intellectual. The Heart is the true centre of spirituality. There are scores of rules and regulations for developing this heart-consciousness, but they can be crystallized into a few that appear in Buddhist Teaching: Kindness, the bestowing of joy and happiness on others, boundless compassion to save others from suffering, boundless joy on seeing others rescued from suffering, charity toward all things, harmony, patience with all beings, endurance of all kinds of suffering for the good of others, a meditative state of mind, and the acquiring of wisdom for the good of all things.

These are qualities that may seem a long way from our lives, but they are the principles that make us human. And why? Because at the very heart of the Universe itself is LOVE in its truest sense—the Harmony that only we individually and collectively can upset or seem to upset. In reality, it is only ourselves playing the game of life and creating our own phantoms. In truth we never change or die, not the actor—the Spiritual Ego in Theosophical Psychology. This is the talisman that guides us through the labyrinth of thoughts and feelings that prevent us from seeing into the heart of things.

In all of this there is nothing new that has been said. All the great teachings of the world scriptures exist just to show us the Path to our true nature. There are thousands of books that explain admirably the more technical side of the Spiritual Path, and these are all wonderful and essential to us on our journey; but the fundamental lesson of them all is that we should become aware of ourselves as spiritual beings and that we are in charge of our own spiritual progress. We can only be influenced by others if we allow ourselves to be. We create our own "mind-forged manacles." These teachings were given out by Jesus Christ, Gautama Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed and thousands of others less known teachers throughout the ages. It is nothing weird, though it may be wonderful. It is something that certainly all the world should hear, because an understanding of it would almost eliminate violence, depression, mental illness, cruelty, hatred. As H.P.B. has said, we should purify, ourselves inwardly and morally and fear no one and noght save the tribunal of our own conscience. In every conceivable case one must be a centre of spiritual action, and from him and his own daily individual life must radiate those higher spiritual forces which alone can regenerate his fellow men.

Of course these are all ideals to be worked towards. We must all start from where we are and see everyone as spotless from where they are too. Great changes for good can be brought to this planet if only a few will try to live to benefit mankind and to bring about a Golden Age of Light and Love to this shining orb on which we live and breathe and have our being. The diversity of our beliefs adds colour to this world; it sings in our hearts always and forever—but at the centre is a peace profound that is the same in everyone and everything. Jesus said that the Truth would set us free. In the depth of our heart is this great intuitional feeling of Oneness and Solidarity that will set us all free together one day. May the Holy Ones speed the advent of that Day!

No man is free until he is free at the centre. When he lets go there he is free indeed. When the self is renounced, then one stands utterly disillusioned, apart, asking for nothing. He anticipates the sorrows, the buffetings, the slights, the separations, the disappointments of life by their acceptance in one great renunciation. It is life by their acceptance in great renunciation. It is life's supreme strategic retreat....Everything belongs to the man who wants nothing. Having nothing, he possesses all things in life, including life itself. Nothing will be denied the man who denies himself. Having chosen to be utterly solitary he now comes into possession of the most utterly social fact in the universe, the kingdom of God. He wants nothing of the world of man or of matter. Now he is ready to come back into the world. He is washed clean of desires. This detachment is necessary to a new attachment. The fullest and most complete life comes out of the most completely empty life.

—E. Stanley Jones

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