By Karen Leonard, Washington
I’ve been thinking about our place in the universe. In a small context, it is to make each day a little bit easier for those around us. If we look long and hard enough we begin to understand and respect where each person we meet is coming from. And only when we understand them can we better understand ourselves. The people we contact allow us to look inwardly at ourselves with fresh information and new perspectives. This is partly why new friendships and relationships can be so exciting. If they challenge us, we meet two new people: them, and a new aspect of ourselves. Others are doing their best to lead a just and compassionate life, for each of us is on our own path, doing the utmost we are capable of and comfortable with, and we cannot expect anyone to do any more than that. If we do not learn from our mistakes and grow, then the many lives we live, and the lessons in them, become circular.
On a larger scale, thinking about our place in the universe should make us treat the inhabitants of our world — plant, animal, mineral, the earth itself — with love and acceptance. Everything on this earth has a place and a purpose, and we do not know all. We humans have made ourselves the alpha dog, the self-imposed ruler of all things, and with that comes great responsibility. Since ancient times we have evolved by conquering our environment and other species, a position that has made us self-righteous and supercilious. Will we be able to get ourselves out of this self-created mess? Only time will tell.
On an even larger scale, the energy that we generate is sent out into the cosmos and back again, affecting the planet, galaxy, and beyond. We need to live, not only by inculcating ourselves with teachings, but also with barriers down so that the vitality and energy within us can link us to each and every one. To work on ourselves is indeed hard and necessary, but we cannot reach out to others if we are too immersed and absorbed in ourselves. Our higher and lower aspects need to talk to each other so that we can evolve as a unity. Otherwise our lives are filled with too much inner conflict. And as we evolve into our higher being, we have a moral obligation to help those who are struggling within themselves. Not necessarily to tend to them, but to encourage them and help them grow, just as others helped us when we needed it.
(From Sunrise magazine, Summer 2007; copyright © 2007 Theosophical University Press)