Theosophical Order of Service
Dear TOS Liaisons and TS Group Leaders,
I'm happy to have been hearing from some of you--thanks so much to those who have written to introduce yourselves and share a little about your group.
I'd love to hear from the rest of you too, and this newsletter does need stories . . . so don't hold back. This is our place to share with each other. If you know of a great charity or service activity that could be featured (whether or not your group is involved), please do let me know. Or maybe you have a question about service to pose to the group?
TOS Intention Experiment? I'm toying with the idea of a group experiment in the power of thought and intention . . . something along the lines of what Lynne McTaggart does with her Intention Experiments, but on a smaller scale. This idea is in the embryonic stages, so please help out by sharing your thoughts and contributing ideas. I'd like to start with a project where we could measure results in some way. Naturally, true altruists do the work for the sake of the work and do not look for the fruit of their labors . . . nevertheless hard evidence goes a long way in boosting enthusiasm, and I would love to measure results to gauge our effectiveness.
The thought I've had so far is to meditate on TSA being a source of light for all who wish to find theosophy. We could visualize Olcott as the center of the light and intend that everyone in the US who would benefit by theosophy will find it. Perhaps we do this daily at noon for 7 days, for example. Then we could measure the hits to the TSA website (and local sites, for the groups who have them) to see if there's any increased traffic. Wouldn't it be fun if we saw a discernable increase at a time when there did not appear to be any other explanation for the increase in web traffic?
If you can think of any other measurable thing to meditate on, we could certainly try it. It's hard to measure things such as "world peace" or "world hunger," so I'm looking for something quantifiable. I welcome your input and thoughts. Who's in?
Please consider forwarding this to anyone who may enjoy it.
Kathy Gann, TOS Liaison Coordinator
TS members broadcast light from long-term prayer group
Each Tuesday, several members of the Detroit Lodge gather together in meditative prayers. This group has been meeting and meditating together for many years, and the current participants are carrying on a several-decade tradition started by earlier members. In earlier days, the prayers were performed by members in a private meditation room, but now they are done at the start of public meetings. One can only imagine the bond of coherent harmony that exists among the regular participants. The effect of their efforts must be powerful and incredibly beautiful. The group has kindly shared their meditations with us, so if you would like to adopt them for your group (or even incorporate them into your individual meditation), please do. First is the Morning Meditation used at Olcott. Here's the text:
Olcott Morning Meditation
Let us center ourselves (in that place within where we are whole and one with all that lives).
Let us feel our connectedness (and know that each of us is linked with every other in this place and with all at Olcott, the earth, the plants, the animals, our fellow humans, and the devas).
Let us be aware of the connections between Olcott and all Theosophists across the land, through Adyar, and with all around the world (forming that nucleus of brotherhood and sisterhood for which the society exists).
Let us think of the great Teachers (the Bodhisattvas of Compassion, and offer this nucleus for their work and ourselves as their co-workers).
Let us ask that their wisdom, their compassion, and their peace may be expressed in our lives (in all we do and say and think, and let us send those thoughts of peace to orphan humanity around the globe, especially in areas we may be thinking or say).
Let us ask that we may be a channel of healing for all those who are in special need of wholeness, particularly those known to us, whose names we say ...
Let us ask that we may be a channel of healing for all those who are recently freed from their bodies, whose names we say...
May wisdom, compassion and peace surround them. May they be whole.
Like many local groups, meetings are closed with "O Hidden Life" and "O Powers of Love." Here's the text of these two beautiful meditations:
O Hidden Life, vibrant in every atom; O Hidden Light, shining in every creature; O Hidden Love, embracing all in Oneness; May each who feels himself as one with Thee; Know he is therefore one with every other.
O, Powers of Love We pledge to you our faithfulness, knowing that only love can redeem the world. We invoke your blessing upon all who strive to serve you. We invoke your blessing upon all who in these days of crisis have to endure suffering, that they may joyfully discover their unfoldment in your love, even in the midst of their affliction. We invoke your blessing upon all who willfully inflict suffering, that they may be moved to return to you and serve you.
Gary Contesti is the TOS Liaison for the Detroit Lodge, and has served the society as board member, Treasurer, Maintenance, Vice President, and President for many years. Gary was introduced to theosophy at the age of 28 by Nedra Brooks (and he will have turned 65 by the time you read this...Happy Birthday, Gary!). Gary says he loves the Theosophical Society because "it has given me a foundation that makes sense of the many different religions, philosophies, and sciences." From his fellow TS members, Gary has experienced "love, compassion, and the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood." A knowledge of theosophy has helped Gary&nbsnbsp;make sense of the many synchronicities he has witnessed. Gary feels the TOS is a great vehicle for those who wish to put their beautiful theosophical ideas into action.
The Power of Combined Thought
"When a group of people think together in a focused way, they can invoke currents of aid from the higher planes. The strength of those currents depends on the size of the group, its coherence, its enthusiasm, and its awareness of the process in which it is engaged. The increased force that comes from the united thought of a group is recognized not only by students of thought power, but by all who know anything about the deeper science of the mind." Excerpted from The Power of Thought by John Algeo and Shirley J. Nicholson.
I came across an article by David Spangler that beautifully explains the power and potential of our connection to each other. Here's an excerpt:
"I have recently been reading an excellent book called The Living Classroom: Teaching and Collective Consciousness by Dr. Christopher M. Bache. In it he chronicles and explores his discovery of how fields of consciousness come into being amongst his students and himself. These fields represent a level of participation and shared awareness above and beyond the normal channels of everyday communication. I am aware of these fields in my own classes, and they play an important part of my teaching strategy. Unlike Dr. Bache who works in a university, I teach online most of the time. What has always been amazing and wonderful for me is that even though the participants in a class are separated, sometimes by thousands of miles, a field of collective consciousness still develops between us. We become connected in subtle, energetic ways as well as informational.
These fields develop faster and more clearly when there is intent behind them, but this is not essential. They can emerge out of persistent and sustained acts of connection, such as happens between my daughter and her friends as they text together. And these fields can become means of transmission for any number of subtle energies and phenomena, such as love, blessing, even healing.
By many accounts, we are heading into a future dominated by climate change, environmental challenges, and social and economic vulnerability. It is a future that can be met and transformed drawing not only on our outer skills and efforts but on the power inherent in fields of subtle energy that can be created when human beings are in true connection with each other and with their world. Learning to create and use these fields as a form of subtle activism is, I feel, a vital skill to understand and develop. And it begins with learning how to connect." Copyright: David Spangler, 2010
I do hope you'll consider joining me in some "subtle activism" as I mentioned above--an upcoming TOS Intention Experiment.
|Using service to transform negative emotions
Everyone experiences negative emotions, but a person who takes complete responsibility for their thoughts, feelings and actions chooses a constructive response. A service mindset allows us to respond to stimuli in a constructive way. Following is an excerpt from "Becoming The Totally Responsible Person" by TRP Enterprises, Inc.:
1. A stimulus occurs, e.g., someone carelessly cuts in front of us on the highway.
2. We become aware that we are beginning to react negatively.
3. That awareness provides us with a moment of choice. At this moment we can choose the negative emotional reaction, or
4. We can choose to respond positively. That is called responsibility (the ability to respond).
There is a third alternative to 1) expressing our negative emotions (blowing off steam) or 2) suppressing them. It is to convert them to something useful....Converting or channeling our negative emotions can be illustrated by the following example:
A coal-fired electric generating plant has a boiler that is heated by the fire. The water boils and the pressure inside begins to build. If not relieved, it will explode. A worker may open the release valve and steam will escape into the surrounding environment. This is analogous to expressing our emotions, i.e., having a good cry, beating on pillows, shouting at our "victimizer" or coming home and taking it out on our spouse. The pressure is thus reduced and we "feel better." But in the power generating plant, the steam buildup is channeled to the turbines, which create electricity--a higher and more useful form of energy than the contained steam. As a result of direction and control, the energy in the boiler is changed and converted into the energy of electricity.
Similarly, the energy buildup in our emotional nature can be converted into something higher and more useful. We do this by substituting some positive behavior and attitude for the negative, e.g., striving for personal excellence. This is sometimes difficult to do, but we can "fake it 'til we make it." Serving others is the most powerful way to convert the energy to the positive. It reverses the flow of energy and attention from ourselves ("poor me" and selfish) to others (selfless).
Suppose someone cuts in front of us in a poorly-executed lane change. There is a brief moment of choice when we can either: 1) react from a victim mentality ("Look what he did to me! What a jerk. He could have hurt me."); or 2) we can respond from a positive, service-oriented mentality ("Wow, this guy is desperate to get into this lane. Maybe he's late for work or his mind is racing on overdrive. I can relate--I'll slow down and make his lane change safer and easier.").
You may be able to identify an opportunity in each negative stimulus where you can acknowledge that a person is acting a certain way because he is seeing the world through the lens of his past experience and understandings (many of which were acquired from others), and is triggered by his past hurts and perceived injustices. Using a service mindset, you can learn to diffuse the situation with kindness, understanding, and compassion. Though you do not condone or excuse the other person's behavior, you can understand that it may be fueled by past wounds and current pressures of which you are unaware. When your response is firmly (even assertively) positive and constructive, you have performed an act of service, and the tendency to react constructively is reinforced within you.
"We don't think our way into a new way of living, we live our way into a new way of thinking." --Henri Nouwen
|2012: a year to share and cooperate
The TOS and the United Nations share a long, intertwined history. Download this printable brochure to see how Annie Besant, George Arundale, and C. Jinarajadasa supported the work of the UN and its predecessor. This year, the UN has two major themes that tie in nicely with theosophical service work:
1. International Year of Cooperatives which aims at raising public awareness about the contribution of cooperatives to poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration.
2. International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. This theme provides a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of increasing access to energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy. It is a call to promote action on energy issues at the local, national, regional and international levels. The availability of sustainable energy is an issue for all of us. In developing countries, almost one and a half billion people are still lacking access to energy, and electricity in particular, and this often has an impact on the capacity of their community to generate employment. In our developed communities, much of our energy comes from polluting energy sources.
As synchronicity would have it, The Center for a New American Dream has just published a Guide to Sharing that you can freely download (and share). The guide has great information about our emerging sharing economy, as well as "how-to's" on: hosting a community swap, lending locally (how about a tool or a toy library?), sharing time, labor and skills through a time bank, and setting up a co-op such as community gardens and alternative energy co-ops.
|And finally . . . a word from our Humor Department:
Theosophical Order of Service
"a union of those who love in the service of all that suffers"