How can I possibly make a difference to this suffering world?

Should we rush out and volunteer for service in the developing countries, or shout religion and theosophy from the roof-tops! Most of us are not in the position to do anything dramatic about many of the world’s problems. We have families to feed and ever increasing mortgages to pay, and the world is already full of people promoting their religious ideas all over the place! Theosophy tells us there is one enormously effective thing anyone can do to quietly assist the positive forces trying to relieve suffering in the world.

It is simply this – doing the duty before you no matter what your station in life, and thinking right thoughts can make a big difference. Making a sincere effort to live the ‘Golden Rule’ – doing unto others as we would have them do unto us – is within the reach of everyone and is a most powerful way of helping. How can this be you say? Surely we must be doing something more spectacular than this?

Living in a ‘Thought Atmosphere’

Theosophy teaches that our every thought and emotion impacts our fellow humans, and all other kingdoms of life. The quality of our thoughts for good or bad creates an atmosphere of dynamic ‘thought-forms’ around us individually and the entire world which reflects the general quality of human thought-life – the ‘thought atmosphere’. Quite literally there is a ‘continent of thought’ floating around us all the time to which we are adding with the quality of our thoughts.

How is this possible?

One of the Masters of Wisdom who founded the Theosophical Society comments:

“… every thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself — coalescing, we might term it — with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind’s begetting, for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, a current which reacts upon any sensitive or and nervous organisation which comes in contact with it in proportion to its dynamic intensity. — Margaret Conger, Combined Chronology, p. 33

The Effect of Thoughts on the Astral Light

Our thoughts and emotions automatically register on the Astral Light surrounding us and the Earth. There are cyclic times when there are openings or ‘thinnings’ between the astral and physical worlds. This can happen at the conjunction of cycles – such as at the present time. Then the contents of the astral world can find their way back into the physical world. This can affect sensitive people when the mostly negative thoughts and impressions of generations of conflict and exploitation which form the substance of much of the thought-life of humanity are reflected back on people living in the world today, eg. People suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness, people tempted to commit crimes, drug affected individuals, and people under extreme stress – and effect their behaviour in everyday life.

What one IS, is therefore is vastly important.

OK! But What Can We Do Here and Now?

Balance our emotions: maintain a balanced outlook and not give way to feelings of hopelessness — either about ourselves or about the future of humanity. The debilitating influence such moods have on us infects the vital circulations of thought-energies through our planet. Too much is at stake for any of us wantonly to add negative thinking to the world karma!

Use the power of visualization to balance negativity: when gloom or despondency creep into our minds, immediately conjure up their opposites and thus initiate a new quality of energy. The influence of this new thought- current will in time prevail, and we can feel a new sense of purpose, a new joy in our everyday duties.

Give the duty at hand the fullness of our attention: if it seems impossible to lift our mood the next best thing to absorb ourselves in the duty at hand. In this way we will become self-forgetful of the negatives weighing us down. We will charge our atoms with a lightness and generosity of feeling radiating outward in terms of our attitude to others.

Start with brotherliness to our own family: if we have trouble feeling good feelings to others, start with such feelings to our own family and then think of others in our circle in the same positive way, and thus gradually widen the circle of unconditional love outwards towards others.

We Must Start With Ourselves

We cannot eradicate selfishness and greed in the world unless we root them out of our own character. Such an effort takes lifetimes to achieve but that’s no reason not to start right now – and everyone can do this no matter what our circumstances. By such efforts we strengthen the pathways to the Higher Self and by so much we illumine ourselves and our surroundings.

As the Buddhists say: ‘The flowers come into bloom when the sage walks through the garden’ or in India there is a saying: ‘The bees come of their own accord in search of honey when the flower is in full bloom.’

These thoughts were expressed beautifully by the American civil rights leader MARTIN LUTHER KING Jnr in 1963 when he said:

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

What About The Starving Millions?

These are fine sentiments you might say, but what about the starving and suffering millions we see on the TV news every night? Surely something practical has to be done? We can all do what we can to practically support those brave individuals who are helping in our own and in war-torn countries far way. But the truth is most of us are not qualified or don’t have opportunity or money to help out as we would like to do. While many of us may not be able to do much in a practical way to better material conditions, there isn’t one person who cannot contribute unselfishness in the world through their attitudes at home or to needy neighbours and in such ways strengthen the light forces in the world.

When we are overburdened by the enormity of suffering endured by so many, we can encircle the globe in consciousness supporting in thought and heart those individuals practically helping in those countries. This helps our own state of mind and helps relief workers along inner planes.

“… Seeds sown in good soil take root in the fullness of time. So too, thought and aspiration born of selfless yearning to ease the sorrow of man result in deeds, if not through ourselves, then through others karmically favoured to bring to fruition what we envisioned….” – Grace Knoche.

A Reservoir of Spiritual Force

Theosophy speaks of a Brotherhood of enlightened individuals who labour in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive hearts – called by various names in different cultures – Mahatmans, Ascended Masters, Masters of Wisdom, Sons of the Sun, Kahunas, Ankh (The Living) – and their helpers in the outer world. They are constantly working to alleviate suffering in the world and guide us forward on the path of spiritual evolution. However, Theosophy teaches that they can only work with the ‘reservoir’ of karma that has been put there for this ‘manvantara’ (cycle of activity) and that is all there will be – unless we add to it. It is therefore vitally important that we have a responsibility self-consciously to direct our own spiritual evolution and to contribute to that ‘spiritual reservoir’ of positive energy that is available for the Masters to use.

The Power of the Reservoir

The power of simple spiritual energy coming forth from the heart of a sincere and compassionate person when it adds to that reservoir of spiritual force which the Masters of Wisdom only can use, and nothing more than we send there, is so great when it finally breaks through on the outer plane of ordinary life that we have not the slightest possible conception of the results that are given and received by the average ‘man in the street’.

The results of our quiet efforts of good will and living the Golden Rule will be felt by our fellowmen as a spiritual strength and a guidance, however unconscious it will be to them, that will lead our civilisation a real step on the pathway towards the Masters of Wisdom. To the extent that we reach up through the quality of our thoughts and aspirations to these representatives of the ‘Hierarchy of Light’, is the extent to which they in turn can reach ‘down’ and assist our faltering footsteps along the path of spiritual evolution.

Our Individual Duty

As our former Leader Jim Long said during a lecture tour of Europe:

“Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom.”

Our Possible Future as Co-Workers with the Masters of Wisdom

If we try and live this philosophy, we may qualify one day to be co-workers with the Masters of Wisdom in their compassionate work transforming the root causes of human suffering to an enlightened future for humanity. The Hidden Reality or Hidden Knowledge which they teach is a living philosophy for all the reasons we have mentioned in this article. Neither a religion nor a philosophy, it is a practical way of life based on intuitive knowledge and inner guidance where everything about oneself, about others, and about matters outside of oneself is placed under constant study and observation for the purpose of mastery in all aspects of life.

The fraternity of illumined individuals emerging from these initiatory trials – the Masters of Wisdom – labours in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive minds and hearts. The spiritually enlightening movements we see working outwardly in the world today, and others that remain unseen, are but the tip of an immense spiritual effort which has been in existence for many millions of years, and prior to that in previous world cycles.

This network of these enlightened teachers and their helpers still exists, and the realization of a universal fraternity, hand in hand with the spiritual enlightenment of humanity, remain the “aspiration of the true adept”…

“And we will go on in that practical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice … will be found to prevail.” – The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, pp. 17,51.

What Future for the World? Building a New Continent of Thought

Suppose that an increasing number of altruistically-minded people were to direct their aspirations toward high thinking and unselfish deeds, inevitably sufficient power would be generated to effect a spontaneous transmutation of humanity’s life patterns – from narrow self-interest to largeness of compassion.

If we simply, sincerely, and wholly offer our best, impersonally, we will be helping to build bridges leading to that new continent of thought which the Masters of Wisdom and their servants strive to achieve throughout the long ages. – compiled from the writings of Grace F. Knoche and James A. Long.

Further Reading:

This article is based on Grace Knoche’s book: To Light a Thousand Lamps especially the chapter: A new continent of thought, available in print from our Melbourne library or free online at:

James A. Long: 1951 European Tour Report online at:

James A Long: Expanding Horizons available from our library in Melbourne or online at:


If you wish to contact the author please email: