This is the text of a lecture given by the author at a public meeting of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Melbourne, Australia. The ideas expressed in all our public meetings are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the TS (Pasadena).

 

The founders of the Theosophical movement and leaders of our Society in particular, have emphasized that the lessons of enlightened living are not far away from our everyday circumstances, but with us every moment if we have the eyes to see. Let’s explore together the concept that our lives are an unravelling of a karmic script, exactly suited to the needs of each individual to learn a little more of the universal harmony with each day and each lifetime.

Part 1 – Players in the symphony of life.

We are players in a vast symphony of Life. From sub-atomic particles to star systems, Nature gives evidence of a magnificent balance and harmony like a great orchestra blending countless keynotes into “the music of the spheres”. If we can listen to this music even for a moment, we realize that disharmonies will eventually blend with the greater harmony as a natural progression in the survival and development of the Whole. In the process of overcoming disharmony, individual players will learn something from their errors and grow to understand a little more of the greater scheme of the Melody. The ancient wise men of the East call this essentially compassionate process of learning “Karma”, the law of action and reaction, the reaping of what we sow in and our thoughts and action as we learn the lessons each life has to teach.

If we are players, then where is the Conductor? Theosophy teachers that we are composite beings, literally a vortex of forces and energies composed of the greater sea of life in which we are immersed. The enduring part of us, often referred to in theosophical literature as the Higher Self, animates the lower material forms and energies with which we are more familiar and sends us forth periodically on a voyage of understanding which is each lifetime. As we experience life’s challenges, Theosophy teaches that the Higher Self never provides a greater load of karmic lessons in one life than we have the strength to bear. The joys and hardships each one of us encounters in our own way, are exactly balanced by the “conductor” so we will appreciate a little more of the greater harmony after each life. Herein lies the principle that Life is our teacher, that everyday experience provides the opportunity that we each individually require for growth and understanding – that life is an unravelling day by day of a “karmic script”, if we have the eyes to see it.

By intelligently and attentively attending to the lessons that Life is trying to teach us, we grow in our ability to express the balance within ourselves and in Nature generally and therefore in our capabilities to help others and bear a greater understanding of Life’s mysteries. Therefore it is logical to try and develop the ability to read the karmic script. This ability will enable us to appreciate a little more of the higher purpose that our Higher Self is trying to communicate each second as it urges our tardy footsteps along the path to greater understanding to the Oneness of Being. As the Buddhists put it so beautifully: “It is necessary to live the life to understand the Doctrine”.

Religious, philosophical and theosophical teachers in various ways have all offered sign-posts along the way towards developing our ability to read the daily karmic script. Let’s search for a few of these signs over and perhaps this will stimulate our own efforts in the days ahead to “life the life”.

THE DAILY KARMIC SCRIPT : Part 2 : Developing positive attitudes towards life.

In these days of uncertainty in world affairs, it is easy to slip into the habit of becoming absorbed in the dark, side of human experience. Yet if we are to discern the patterns of the “daily karmic script” our Higher Self is trying to communicate to us each moment so we can grow spiritually, we should rather look to the positive aspect of all our experiences – good and bad. How can we achieve these insights amidst the concerns of daily affairs?

We can start by making the effort to look for the highest aspect of every person and every situation rather than falling into the temptation of always thinking and talking negatively about the state of the world. A wise friend once spoke of this habit as looking for the “Saint George and not the Dragon” in each person and situation! No easy task when the people or problems which can aggravate the most are often close to us and there is no ready avenue of retreat. There is a simple practice we can follow to help strengthen positive attitudes towards life. As advised by former Leader of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Grace Knoche … “In the early morning and on retiring at night, empty ourselves of all selfish and irritable thoughts, hurt feelings, and the jangle and pressure of our modern lives; then, in the privacy of our deepest being, revivify the vow taken lives ago; to resolve one day, however long and difficult the passage, to become a bodhisattva and live and work for the liberation and enlightenment of all living beings. This is our talisman, our inspiration, and our guide.”

Instead of constantly blaming other people, the government, God or fate for the problems which befall us, pause a moment to reflect on what we know from theosophical teachers on reincarnation and the law of Karma. We then should realise that we have generated the circumstances of our lives whether in the choices we made today or in days long gone in other lives which have landed us now in difficult (or pleasant) circumstances. Also, we should be mindful that we are part of a greater environment – families, nations, races, the Earth and Cosmos, and we have had our hand in making the present state of the world in past lives when we may not have lived as responsibility as we are trying to do now. Such reflections can tell us that we should develop some measure of acceptance of our circumstances, encourage in ourselves the habit of looking for lessons from all the public and private aspects of living, and to do our best to alleviate a little of the suffering we see everywhere in today’s world. The development of the patience, balance, understanding and endurance that such an approach to life implies is not easily achieved, especially these days when the values of aggressive self-interest and emphasis on the externals of life are highly prized. Also we must remember that the power of an inner vow to live up the highest of ourselves may call forth an acceleration of karmic challenges required to prove such a promise is not ill-founded. Far from expecting a sheltered life as a natural result of our religious and ethical sincerity, we may find ourselves projected into new and outwardly difficult circumstances which if successfully met, will help build inner strength. Always such challenges, if met with a positive attitude, have an increased potency to teach us lessons which we may otherwise have overlooked in a more comfortable lifestyle. For example, illness and infirmity may open new vistas of ourselves and understanding of others of which we may have previously been completely unaware, giving the opportunity to develop strength in future to empathize with similar problems experienced by our brothers.

Let’s not forget perhaps the most powerful aid to developing positive attitudes to life experience – a sense of humour. If we can see the funny side of difficult situations or people we meet inevitably in daily affairs we can more easily maintain our balance and not get wrapped up in the negatives. Scientists tell us that laughter releases the body’s inbuilt mechanisms to help with healing and well-being and we all know how it lifts our spirits to have someone make us laugh in difficult times. Many of the world’s religious teachers show such a sense of lightness of being. The Dalai Lama is always punctuating his lectures with laughter even when discussing the most outwardly sad topics. Reading the Mahatma Letters, one of the foundation texts of theosophy, indicates to me that the Masters of Wisdom who inspired the foundation of the Theosophical Society, shared this quality of seeing the brighter side of all experience. It is not always appropriate to be spreading philosophic teachings on the proper conduct of life when we or others are having a tough time. But we can try, at leat, to maintain a positive attitude, to give a light word or happy look at the right time which can help more than all the philosophy books under the sun in many situations!

THE DAILY KARMIC SCRIPT : Part 3: Habit and Change:

Habit and change form a leading role in the evolutionary drama of all living beings. Modern thinkers such as Rupert Sheldrake and David Bohm point to the importance of memory and habit in nature forming the blueprint for the development of all living things from cells to human societies. Similarly, theosophical teachers have taught that the universal harmony in nature is the result of the guidance of intelligent beings… ”gods…whose will and thought direct and protect the mechanism and the type and quality of the universe in which we live.” (from G. de Purucker’s Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p.158).

In developing our ability to live in harmony with the unravelling patterns of the daily karmic script, it is important to watch our habits as these build over time to become character and character helps determine our destiny. It is not only the more easily identified negative habits of thinking and minor addictions that we have to try and be aware of, but more the deeply engrained patterns of many lifetimes which may show themselves as intolerance and self-righteousness which can form real barriers to greater self-understanding. Theosophical founder, H.P. Blavatsky, taught that such regular habits literally form what she called “brain paths” which require enormous effort and time to change. The Buddha stressed the habit of forming the opposite images to those negative thoughts which often invade our consciousness to help in the process of inbuilding balanced habits of thought and action. Similarly, in our own time, Dr. David Bohm has pointed out that in Western society we have overemphasized the development of the left hemisphere of the brain, the seat of analytical thinking, at the expense of the creative-intuitive functions of the right hemisphere, leading to many of the problems we see in the world which arise from a lack of the sense of wholeness. Sages throughout history have taught that it is not necessary to become the prisoners of our own limited habits. Besides the sometimes dramatic opportunities life gives all of us for change, we should learn to apply our god-like qualities of intelligence and empathy in everyday life to understand ourselves and make the necessary adjustments to more harmonious patterns of behaviour. Here a type of meditation recommended by theosophical teachers is of particular value. H. P. Blavatsky and G. de Purucker, recommend a type of meditative practice advocated by the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras. It is suggested we develop the habit of reviewing the events of the day before sleep each night and consciously try to derive lessons for the improvement of one’s character and to discern opportunities that we have had for spiritual understanding from the events of the day just completed. The Golden Verses of Pythagoras state this method of building constructive habits beautifully:

“Never let sleep approach they wearied eyelids,Ere thrice you review the day you did:Wherein have I sinned? What did I?What duty was neglected?All, from first to last, review:And if you have erred, grieve in your spirit,Rejoice for all that was good.With zeal and industry this, then, repeat;And learn to repeat it with joy.Thus wilt thou tread the paths of heavenly virtue.”

It is also said that this type of meditation provides a valuable preparation for the panoramic visions recalling the events of the life just lived which occur just after we physically die. Perhaps this is something of what the Dalai Lama meant when he prepares for death daily.

THE DAILY KARMIC SCRIPT : Part 4 : Dharma:

The Buddhist teachings on “Dharma” give depth to our understanding of the daily karmic script. Dharma comes from the Sanskrit word “dhri” meaning right religion, right philosophy, right science and right union of these three and hence “The Law”. It also means equity, justice, conduct, duty and the essential characteristics, quality, or peculiarity of each individual in his road of learning.

These teachings encompass the idea that each one of us has natural duties which are set or prescribed for us to complete in each lifetime. (See G. de Purucker’s Occult Glossary pp. 37-38). These duties relate to the conduct of every aspect of our lives including livelihood, family responsibilities, attitudes and relationships. Our “dharma” is to meet these duties which our own Higher Self has set for us in each life, with selflessness, courage and fortitude conditioned by the results of choices we have made in past lives.

Thus, one person may pursue the dharma of a doctor, another a labourer or a housewife, all these, and any other occupation, provide the opportunity for soul learning which is appropriate for each individual. Our obligation to ourselves and to others is to meet the challenges of our particular dharma by fulfilling the needs of each daily situation no matter how humble as best we can without anxiety about the outcome of our actions. In this way we gradually build strength of character that enables us to empathize and therefore help others along their road of learning. Theosophical founders laid great emphasis on the fulfilment of one’s dharma in self development and in our contributions to the progress of others. William Quan Judge for example says: “What then is the panacea finally, the Royal talisman? It is Duty, Selflessness. Duty persistently followed is the highest yoga, and is better than mantras or any posture, or any other thing. If you can do no more than duty, it will bring you to the goal…and again… “He only who studies all things and learns from them, as he finds them, will be permitted to enter (behind the veil of Nature’s mysteries)… It comes as softly and imperceptibly as the opening of a flower. Live well your life, strive to realize the meaning of every event. Strive to find the Ever Living and wait for more light.”

The ability to read the daily karmic script arises from an enlightened attitude to real life situations. If we consciously try to shift our focus of concern from the lower to the higher aspects of our life experience, then we slowly attune ourselves to the natural state of Universal Harmony. We thus add our energies, be they ever so small, to the positive forces protecting and guarding Humanity. This effort required courage and fortitude because we need to face ourselves and be prepared to act in defence of what we believe to be right rather than leaving these ideas at the level of academic discussion. Let’s finish this series with some advice from one of H.P. Blavatsky’s teachers on developing the ability to read the daily karmic script and eventually perhaps to climb the “golden stairs” to greater understanding and service of the Law:

“Behold the truth before you, a clean life, an open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, a brotherliness for one’s co-disciple, a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction, a loyal sense of duty to the teacher, a willing obedience to the behests of TRUTH, once you have placed your confidence in, and believe that Teacher to be in possession of it, a courageous endurance of personal injustice, a brave declaration of principles, a valiant defence of those unjustly attacked, and a constant eye to the ideal of human progression and the perfection which the secret science (“Gupta Vidya”) depicts – these are the golden stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the Temple of Divine Wisdom”.

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