February 2013




Theosophical Order of Service
Liaison News
Grand Teton Nat'l Park by Alan D Wilson; terms of use
Dear TOS Liaisons and TS Group Leaders,
Looking over the articles in this issue, I'm struck by the power for positive change we can wield when we put our hearts together for a common cause.  Please feel free to share this newsletter with anyone who may be interested, and consider copying and pasting the "Intention to Alleviate the Suffering of Exploited Animals Worldwide" onto Facebook or other networking sites.  People love to help, so don't hesitate to share this opportunity . . . who knows how many people will forward it, re-post it, share it, like it, and (best of all) perform this month's healing intention for suffering animals. 
Applications are now posted online for TOS grants for other organizations, as well as seed money grants for your local TOS projects.  Click here to access the applications.  If you know of a group doing great work to alleviate suffering in the world, please consider inviting them to apply for a grant from the TOS.
Together, we can create positive change.
Kathy Gann
TOS Liaison Coordinator
TOS Healing Intention for Animals

Rozi Ulics, TOS Co-Liaison for the Washington DC Lodge, has crafted a beautiful healing intention for animals.  If everyone reading this will perform this meditation at least once daily for seven days, think what a powerful stream of energy-for-good we can create together.  Then again . . . why stop at seven?

Many thanks to Rozi for this article and loving intention.

Our current agriculture and medical research systems cause needless suffering to millions of animals per year. For example, according to the animal advocacy organization The Humane League (www.thehumaneleague.com), "Today 90-95% of all meat and dairy products come from factory farms, industrial warehouses where animals are treated like units of production rather than living beings." Conditions on factory farms are well-known to be filthy, cramped and miserable for farm animals, who are specifically excluded from the protections of state animal cruelty laws. This leads to a situation where factory farmed animals lead their entire lives in abject misery for the purpose of cheap food and agribusiness profit.

So what can we do? Many Theosophists already follow a vegetarian lifestyle, avoid wearing animal products or support animal advocacy organizations. At the same time, even these noble actions seem dwarfed by the problem of so many animals suffering this minute just to support today's modern lifestyle. However, as Theosophists, we also understand that thoughts and feelings of outrage and helplessness can only make the situation worse.

That's why it's time as Theosophists to again "put our money where our mouths are" in a positive and elevating way.  Patanjali called it "pratipaksha bhavanam" or substituting positive thoughts for negative ones.  We are so powerful together!  So join us in an intention to bring immediate comfort to exploited animals around the world and shift humanity's approach away from causing so much needless suffering in the name of agriculture or medical research.

"Intention to Alleviate the Suffering of Exploited Animals Worldwide"

Let us close our eyes and quiet our minds
And taking three cleansing breaths
Let us clearly envision a loving, white, angelic light enveloping us in its embrace.

May this Intention serve
As a conduit for loving Universal Energy
May It flood us with Its power
And flowing through our hearts
Let It be guided to the innocent, suffering animals in our midst.
That each may be comforted, soothed and protected
Until the time to depart our earthly plane.
And from this moment forward,
Let every animal lead a natural life
Free from stress, abuse and fear.
And open the eyes and hearts of men
To recognize our animal brothers
As fellow sentient beings
Worthy of our good will, kindness and love.
May this be so.

Dharma Study Group makes theosophy practical
Founded by Danelys Valcarcel and Elvira Carbonell in 2012, the Dharma Study Group in Wheaton, Illinois, emphasizes self-transformation via study, meditation, and service.  The group's first meeting was on White Lotus Day (May 8), 2012, when the members determined to forge bonds with each other over the summer by performing some very practical service on the campus of the Theosophical Society in America's national center.

Members of the Dharma Study Group in the family room at Olcott

Working under the tutelage of fellow TS member and professional gardener Diane Hunter, Elvira recalls that the members "weeded, clipped and raked the old dead stuff that had accumulated over time," activities that serve as a beautiful metaphor for the beginning of self-transformation.  In September, 2012, the group commenced its study in earnest. 

Each study meeting begins and ends with meditation.  The group's mission is "not only to study the doctrines of Theosophy but also to engage in meditation practice and in service projects in order to bring about a conscious change." 

Caps, scarves and slippers to Hesed House

Packing boxes at the Humanitarian Service Project

Each month, members of the group participate in a service project.  In November 2012, Danelys delivered beautiful hand-knitted scarves, hats, slippers, and peace signs to homeless children and adults at Hesed House in Aurora, Illinois.  The knitted pieces were lovingly hand-made over a period of a year by a prisoner participating in TSA's prison-mentor program.  Hesed House personnel were deeply touched by the prisoner's gesture.

Dharma Study Group members raised over $200 to sponsor Theosophical Society memberships for nine prisoners.  A recent informal study shows that, of the prisoners who study Theosophy while incarcerated, only 11% return to prison after release, compared to a national average of 67%.

In December 2012 the group pitched in at the Humanitarian Service Project in Carol Stream, Illinois, packing over 50 boxes of food and toys for distribution to low-income families in DuPage County.

Through these projects, Danelys and Elvira "see sacrifice and character building taking root," and feel that a conscious change is being produced in the lives of group members.

History buffs may enjoy knowing that the Dharma Study Group was named after the Dharma Lodge in Cuba, chartered in 1908 by Annie Besant.  Danelys was a member of that group prior to moving to the USA.

Baby cuddling:  best volunteer job on the planet

In a perfect world, every newborn baby would be welcomed into its family with abundant cuddling and loving touch. In reality, many babies must be separated from their parents at birth, either due to unsuitability of the parents, or due to the baby's medical condition that requires special treatment.

Worried parents can't always be with their baby as much as they would like. Sometimes babies must be transferred to a specialized facility away from the parents' home town, and the already highly-stressed parents may not be able to follow.  They may have other children to care for, or may not be in a position to leave their jobs.

You can help provide the nurturing, loving contact that is critical to a newborn baby's life-long emotional well-being.  Knowing there's a loving person cuddling and nurturing their baby may also help reduce the trauma of parents separated from their baby at the time of the baby's greatest need.

Cuddling a baby makes a life-long difference, as children who are deprived of close physical contact have lower levels of social bonding hormones, according to research by the University of Wisconsin. Cuddling helps a baby develop social skills, increased learning ability, and stronger self-esteem. Babies deprived of cuddling tend to have greater difficulty forming healthy relationships later in their lives.

Baby cuddlers are needed at hospitals, orphanages, nurseries, and other long-term care facilities. Most facilities provide free training. Volunteers must typically pass a medical test and background check for the safety of the babies. To get started, contact a hospital near you and ask to speak to the Volunteer Coordinator, or you may be able to find information and applications online at the hospital's website.

You can help teach a baby its first lessons:  I am safe . . . I can trust . . . I am loved.

What did you feed the field today?

The Institute of Heart Math created the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI) as a way to bring people's hearts together to create powerful, positive change for themselves and the planet.  GCI scientists are exploring how we affect the environment and how it affects us.

In their new video, "Together in the Heart," Dr. Rollin McCraty explains that "collectively, we create a field that interacts with the earth's magnetic fields and energetic systems."  At the end of each day, Dr. McCraty asks himself, "What did I feed the field today?"   Your kindness, care, and joy is health food (perhaps even soul food?) for the field.  Enjoy this short (5:37) video and feel free to share the link.

Stuff we can do in 15 minutes

Share your vision, literally.  In a third-world country where eyeglasses can cost up to a year's salary, failing eyesight might mean that: 1) a blacksmith has to close up shop; 2) a woman can no longer earn a living with her embroidery and becomes destitute; 3) a mother never clearly sees the faces of her children; or 4) a child fails in school because they can't see to read. 

Meanwhile, an estimated 4,000,000+ pair of eyeglasses go into the trash each year in North America alone. 

Here's where you come in--drop off your old prescription eyeglasses at one of these locations that participate in the OneSight program:  LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut, Lions Club, or Target Optical.  You can also donate sunglasses (prescription or not) to prevent sun damage in the eyes of those who live near the equator.

If you prefer, you can mail your eyewear directly to: New Eyes for the Needy, 549 Millburn Avenue, P.O. Box 332, Short Hills, NJ 07078, according to these shipping instructions.

In 2011, OneSight volunteers served their 8 millionth patient, 35 year-old Marokey, during a Global Clinic in The Gambia.

Marokey works as a gardener and told Clinic doctors her blurry vision made it challenging to work, cook and thread a needle. With her new glasses she can now see everything clearly.

Eyewear donation can be done on a one-time individual basis, or it can be an activity your group shares.  TS meetings can become convenient collection points for eyewear headed to the OneSight program, either as a temporary "Eyewear Drive" or as an ongoing service.

More than we can chew . . .

"It was a small thing, watching a robin carry a twig too big for its nest. It tried once, then twice, to use it, and somehow, with its very small bird brain, it knew it was no good. It simply flew off and picked another.

American Robin by Alan D Wilson; terms of use

I went and found the twig. There wasn't a mark on it. I rolled it in my hand and thought of all the times I've labored, trying to make things too big fit. So often what we want is like that twig, too big to be of use, and we stay lodged in an unhappiness created by holding on to something that can't complete our nest. 

It was humbling to watch a small bird work, singing as it went, leaving what it couldn't use as it found it."  Excerpted from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo.

How often do we wonder if we're doing enough, serving enough, helping enough?  How often are we tempted to take on something too big that doesn't fit?  Or perhaps we freeze up, fearing that we may not accomplish something grand, so we'd better not start at all. How comforting it is to know that, like the robin, we can leave aside what doesn't fit and move on to find a twig that's just our size and neatly improves the collective nest.

"What anyone may do with a good intention and in a totally selfless spirit, whether it be a large or small thing, is of the same value; for it is the spirit that counts."  --N. Sri Ram, Thoughts for Aspirants, Second Series

Feeling a little fried?

Too much of a good thing? Despite Mae West's assurance that "too much of a good thing can be wonderful," servers may at times find they have taken on more than they can comfortably sustain. A TS member once told me of a mysterious problem with her right arm that kept her on the brink of overload. "Whenever somebody asks for volunteers," she explained, "my right arm shoots up of its own accord!"

In "The Occult Side of Service," Canadian TOS member Tim Marin discusses the potential for servers to feel burned out, or to become frustrated that no matter how much they do or give, the suffering of the world and its claim on the server's heart will never end. Tim reveals the ultimate source of regeneration ever available to servers, and discusses service as a means of self culture. 

"a union of those who love in the service of all that suffers"



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