January 2011 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the January 2011 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
"A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! This seems easy enough to say, and everyone expects some such greeting. Yet, whether the wish, though it may proceed from a sincere heart, is likely to be realized even in the case of the few—is more difficult to decide. According to our theosophical tenets, every man or woman is endowed, more or less, with a magnetic potentiality, which when helped by a sincere, and especially by an intense and indomitable will—is the most effective of magic levers placed by Nature in human hands—for woe as for weal. Let us then, Theosophists, use that will to send a sincere greeting and a wish of good luck for the New Year to every living creature under the sun—enemies and relentless traducers included. Let us try and feel especially kindly and forgiving to our foes and persecutors, honest or dishonest, lest some of us should send unconsciously an “evil eye” greeting instead of a blessing."
“May no further karma attach to those who have sinned last year in thought as well as in deed. Personally they are forgiven. Let a new year and new hopes begin for them.”
Significance of The New Year
“.... let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year. The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfil them consistently.”
New Executive Committee
Our 2010 AGM was held on 18 December 2010. It was attended by 54 members in person, which is more than the required quorum, and 31 through proxies. The following office bearers and members of the new executive committee were elected without contention.
President: Chong Sanne
Vice President: Kam Chai Heng
Secretary: Lily Chong
Asst, Secretary: Tang Kwok Choon
Treasurer: Djimmy Ong
Asst. Treasurer: Choong Chi Pin
Librarian: Vivekhananthan M.
Asst. Librarian: Serena M. L. Lee
Choong Tsui Wei
Lee Suit Fun
Universal Brotherhood —
Road to Awareness
Reprinted from On
the Watch-Tower in the September 2010 edition of The Theosophist
We can see very clearly, if our eyes are open, that Universal Brotherhood is an essential basis for any flowering of human life. Brotherhood, in the ordinary sense, is what most of us know, in a lesser or greater dimension. But being kind, good, and all that the word ‘brotherhood’ implies, is a very small improvement from being a savage. It means being brotherly to one’s family — if it is a nice family — to friends, colleagues, etc. But that is far from enough when we refer to Universal Brotherhood. This implies a state of heart and mind which feels warm and friendly towards all people, whether they are black or brown, white, yellow or anything else, good or bad, learning quickly or slowly. This is itself a difficult task. We have to work at it so that our life becomes more and more of an example of how a human being should live.
Universal Brotherhood cannot be brought about by force, superstition or means of that kind. It is as impossible as to create peace by war. This is a simple idea, but it seems very different for those who like to fight over any of their own ideas. There are instances of a wrong approach all the time in one country or another. We can see that the whole world has prospered materially, but is unable to make that prosperity equitable. Beginning a war in Iraq might appear right from a certain point of view, but it leads to many other problems. All women could be put under the burka, but that will not solve the problem of distress, contempt or any other human failing. This is because the method is wrong.
Not only has the need for real equitableness and promise of improvement to be tackled, there is another vast problem. The human being is becoming all powerful in regard to the very existence of other creatures. We may think with a quiet mind over this problem: what sort of a relationship should we have with the rest of the world, to bring about a state of harmony, goodness, and promise of further growth. The whole of man’s relationship with Nature, with the elements, with creatures of various kinds which make this world a wonderful place, must be considered afresh. Should man use everything for his own pleasure, or only just a little to sustain himself? This is a serious and vital question which faces us in the present, apart from the question of relationships with other human beings.
Thirdly, when he manages to establish some sort of good relationship even with people he does not care for, can man prove himself ready to proceed towards a higher way of life? When man is freed of all encumbrances, mostly psychological, which trouble him at the moment, if his attitude is one of denial or ignorance of the future, can he proceed further? I would think not — he must have what the Christian world calls ‘Hope’. That is a mark of a mind which is not materialistic. The human being needs to shed all forms of ignorance which hold him down at present, and rise to a state of growth like a plant which bursts through the earth, but has yet to grow — perhaps to grow into a vast tree. So hope signifies a great impulse and lies hidden in every heart. It involves the impulse to look beyond personal circumstances, and to see more than what a person does when his eyes do not ever turn towards the light.
Giving importance to all this is our first duty. Our duty also is as Theosophists to have some idea of the future, and to do this the mind must not flutter between the past which pulls a person down and makes him half or more blind, and a future where new things await him. That is where attention is necessary.
In all matters when attention is given, then work is done better. We often think that attention needs to be given to certain important things, that otherwise it does not matter whether something is carried out with partial attention and not with the full mind. This promotes the habit of distraction — a part of the mind is given to the work that has been undertaken, and part of the mind is elsewhere. How much is apart we will not say because it will vary, but the fact remains that the mind is split; part of it is with one thing, and another part somewhere else. The other part may, in fact, be wandering around and not even directing itself to something different from what is being done.
In yoga, there is a practice which some serious students follow in order to learn to keep the mind integrated and sustain it in that condition for some time. According to this practice what calls for attention for the time being may seem trivial, but in fact it need not be so for it helps the mind not to get divided, not to wander about and be in a state of distraction. Everything is done calmly and with full attention. As one follows this way, the result is a state of mind which is not in confusion or distraction. This sounds easy, but we are so used to being distracted, and drawn here and there that we are not aware when this is happening at any particular time. But, as the mind develops it should become more aware of what is happening to itself.
We find people sometimes who are less distracted than others, and they have a certain quality in their person which we cannot describe; while there are others whose minds seem to wander from one thing to another and who are never free from living in a state of confusion. But for all this to happen the mind must be developed. The simplest of minds, which we can find in small creatures, seem undistracted; they have a job to do and they do it. If we watch nature, we will find this. But as the mind grows and becomes larger and more capable it deals with a variety of things, and so distraction is easier. A sharp mind is very different from a composed mind which is capable of concentrating on any particular thing. A study of this subject could help individuals to become more capable of attention, and to suffer less from confusion. This does not always happen, but it can. When the mind is ready through paying attention to what it is doing and not allowing unnecessary enterprises and ideas to creep in, it is easier to see that the capacity to give attention comes in many ways. It can come through professions. A surgeon must give full attention to a surgical job while he is doing it, but at other times he becomes an ordinary man, not a person who is more capable of single-mindedness. This single-mindedness has been brought to our notice in many contexts. When attention increases then we might realize that awareness has immense value.
What is the difference between attention and awareness? Attention is the ability to attend to anything, however small, with complete disengagement from other things; it has a valuable, yet limited field of operation. Awareness on the other hand, is the ability to give quiet attention to almost anything. One finds this, for example, from J. Krishnamurti who says how he was able to watch as part of his life ants moving, or clouds forming; it could be whatever happens at the moment, including what other people are saying, the manner in which they say it and so on. Awareness does not prevent attention to one thing because of another thing. It can therefore comprehend the background of why a certain thing is done or of a person’s inability to do more.
When awareness grows, it seems to penetrate into areas which we have not touched yet with our consciousness. It can see beauty where it does not appear to us. It can find goodness hidden behind a rough exterior. Therefore, it is grounded in full measure in all of life. These are only examples, but one can see that an enlightened person can shed spiritual light and blessing on all things because he sees what others do not. This is the culmination of human life known from what people have said who knew. A new life begins here. This beginning is ‘the way’ and when you have found the end, its light will suddenly become infinite light naturally.
This new view of life will also bring with it great delight. So in the future when perception awakens, a new world will open. We do not know what it is, but we know it exists. Human life has within it wonderful openings into a world of beauty, truth and goodness.
We start the year with a number of talks in the month of January which may be of special interest to members. Indeed, these talks are restricted to members and are given only once a year, normally in January, if only for the benefit of new members. The talks which include computer-based illustrations are continually being updated either with additional information, graphics or pictures as they become available. All earnest members and students of theosophy will find these talks both interesting and useful. Those who have attended these talks previously may find it worthwhile to refresh their memory and see if anything new has been added and also so that they may be better equipped to do their part in spreading the theosophical teachings!
One of the annual talks is on the Purpose of The Theosophical Society. This talk reminds us why the Society was founded in 1875 by Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. More importantly, we are reminded of the words of the Great Ones on the true purpose of The Theosophical Society. Understanding the purpose of the Society is important if the Singapore Lodge, as a part of this great worldwide movement, is to contribute to the noble ideals of the Society. We must realize our specific mission. As this talk will be given on 22 January 2011 when we celebrate our 122nd anniversary, you have one more good reason to come and join us in our celebration.
For those who are interested to know more about clairvoyants and psychic abilities, you may wish to attend the talk on The Nature of Psychic Abilities on 8 January 2011. In this talk we will realize that the unfoldment of psychic powers is a natural process in evolution.
Another annual talk which is intended exclusively for members is The Occult Hierarchy. As students of theosophy, we know that just as there are many below us climbing the ladder of evolution, there are also many above us, way ahead of the mass of humanity, who have achieved perfection—the Adepts. We also know that amid the seeming chaos in the world, there is perfect law and order supervised by the Inner Government of the World. In this talk we learn about the quest for perfection and the august fraternity of humanity who have reached the other shore—The Masters and The Path. This talk is scheduled for 15 January 2011. Don’t miss it if you are a student of occultism.