radha burnier Magazine Article: The Theosophist, August 2008
On The Watch-Tower
The Mahatma Letters say that in the empire of Nature all things are linked together by magnetic sympathy; therefore there is a connection even between a distant star and a man or woman on this earth. This enormous, perhaps limitless, breadth of relationships is the basis for the statement that brotherhood is a fact in Nature. We do not have to invent brotherhood or believe in it; we have only to recognize that the cosmos itself is linked together by subtle threads of magnetic sympathy. By such recognition we spontaneously become more and more filled with the spirit of brotherhood, which means that there are always lines of communication between all things.
If there are these inextricable links, magnetic sympathy is obviously not an overt, perceivable act. It is a movement from within, of self recognizing self, of universal life being aware of its focus in one’s self, as well as in all that exists. There is a natural communication between all these things. Nature is not only in the physical dimension, it is also at the gross, subtle, and spiritual levels. In fact, in the enormous depths of Nature everywhere, communication is not very clear at the lower levels, but there is constant unity and love at the deeper levels.
That communication is obstructed by our mental activities, the prejudices and conditionings which we allow to hold sway in our consciousness at this lower level. It seems as if, even through science, glimpses are made available of this system of intercommunication of everything that is in existence, but only small symptoms are known, for example, that trees communicate with each other in some mysterious way.
If a grove of trees is affected by a pest, the tree, of course, tries to shake it off, as it may otherwise be destroyed, etc. But the grove can apparently communicate with another grove somewhere else. A few years ago, great elm trees, which are very beautiful, were all affected by some kind of disease, but in a mysterious way they gave warning to other trees, so that the trees developed symptoms which could prevent the pests from being too successful. We know that in Adyar, neem trees were affected by some strange disease, leaves were drying up, and a few neems died. But somehow they managed to put off the affliction, perhaps by a sys-tem of communication. From a few scientific sources we hear that trees seem to be able to communicate with each other.
The researches of Rupert Sheldrake, and possibly some others, have demonstrated that there is communication at an unknown level between creatures. Human beings imagine that because other creatures do not speak our language, they cannot communicate; at best they have a primitive kind of communication. For example we have read that when rabbits become aware of danger they will tap the earth with their tails in a particular way, which makes other rabbits realize the danger there. Their ‘primitive’ methods of communication are clear through changes in their voice, and so on. But there seems to be something more important than that. In a complicated maze certain rats learnt to open and close a door, and rats in the next room understood. How they understood it is impossible to say. Sheldrake has also written about dogs and cats which know from a distance when their owner is coming back. One may say this is telepathy, but telepathy is also one of the means of communication.
By Socratic dialogue, the dialogues of the Buddha, and a number of others in the Upanishads, Chinese literature, Taoist thought, and so on, teachers were trying to stimulate the hidden capacity in their listeners, the people to whom they were talking, to communicate. Communication does not mean just speaking. We think if we say something, that is communication. It may not be, because the person to whom we are speaking may not be open to what we say; we shut off, create a barrier between our own being and the beings of others. But the power to communicate means to have a two-way flow of insights, understanding, and appreciation. All that can also be blocked. So these teachers were very aware that they were not telling people things, but entering into a form of communication which would help others to see for themselves. This was the whole purpose of real dialogue. Communication is not always verbal. Verbal communication is necessary in this world to some extent, but many of us use wrong words, talk too much and go off the track, or feel a certain resistance. With resistance, communication is impossible because our internal condition nullifies what we intend to communicate. Therefore, it is important to examine what makes communication effective at the outer as well as the subtler and deeper levels of existence.
Communication at Varied Levels
It is needless to say that in Indian thought, speech means not only communication at the verbal level, but communication at different levels of our being. It has been said that people must be equals, at the same level, in order to communicate. The very simple fact that an adult can communicate something to a child shows that this idea is not entirely correct. A child is also able to communicate something to the adult, even though they are not equals in the sense of growth into maturity. Actually, the adult is not necessarily a superior person; the child may be more evolved than the adult, and sometimes it happens that from a very early physical age the maturity of the soul begins to reveal itself in communication. So it is not equality, in the sense of equal knowledge and so forth, that makes for communication. Then what makes communication possible?
Obviously people’s brains are full of contradictory movements and so there are notions, images, prejudices, which block communication, and this makes the quality of the communication very poor. We may come to a sacred place and if the mind is quiet, not chattering or filled with mundane concepts and desires, etc., perhaps there may be communication with the holy and sacred. But suppose people are chattering in the anteroom of a sanctuary, the flow of obstructions continues to take place, and there is no communication. The Masters are all part of that sacred sphere, because their conscious-ness has merged with the vast ocean of life, but the communication they want is absent, because our own minds are not in a state which makes it possible.
There are various occasions when one may spend a few moments with Nature. Because everything is beautiful in Nature, including human nature, but also because there is hidden beauty in everything, there is communication all the time. We should also be able to keep that communication alive, not barricade against it. Take, for example, the blessings of the Masters. Indians are particularly fond of saying ‘I want the blessings of the Masters.’ This is unnecessary, because the Masters’ blessings are always present everywhere, poured forth continually. Their very existence is a blessing. But we create barriers and prevent its entry into our hearts and minds to stimulate the spiritual side. So we have to make sure that our own being is ready for communication, not wait for a guru or a new form of initiation. The Golden Stairs speak of ‘a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction’. The words may suggest that verbal communication will take place or some paper will be issued, but it may not be thus. Nature herself, according to various sages, speaks; Nature is not silent, according to Light on the Path, but we do not hear. ‘Waiting the word of the Master’ — but what is the word of the Master? Is it spoken at a particular time when one has to be present to hear it?
Not at all. Because when the heart is ready, pure, unobstructed by prejudice, by previous ideas, by desire, and all sorts of things, then the speech from the deeper, more spiritual level is heard at first not very clearly. But as we proceed it is heard deeply by the better part of ourselves, and then it starts to break down the resistance in the brain, in the very cells of our body.
The qualifications on the path have been well known through the ages. One of them is silence, at least at certain moments of the day, when Nature herself is able to communicate with us. Communication means that we are entirely receptive, and also that we are able to channel spiritual energies, to some extent at least, to pass through us to others. So communication calls for the qualities necessary both for receiving and radiating the right energies. As already stated, many sages and wise people have tried to stimulate in those who are receptive the capacity to communicate, to be able to interchange. And one of the important things, as has been pointed out, is silence. It is the ability to be silent, not just put a seal on one’s lips, that is, to be silent verbally. The brain likes to chatter, to create conflicts, to resist according to what it likes and dislikes. And all that has to subside.
Life itself is a Teacher
We can speak about life itself as the teacher, because every human teacher is only an embodiment of what life is. We are told to approach the teacher with reverence. This means that we do not rush forward to tell him our views, we do not argue with him. We learn to listen and respond appropriately, so that whatever message is given becomes clearer and clearer. Therefore the student can question the teacher, in fact must question the teacher, respectfully, quietly, without proceeding from a loaded brain. Then the light which is always in the true teacher becomes brighter. The role of the student is thus to accept that his own capacity for communication is to become like a flame. Then perhaps a time will come when we feel that we can communicate with anybody.
Particularly in the dialogues which the Buddha had, we find that there were Brâhman-s and other people who could not accept what he said, because it was too new for them. But he did not shake them off; he did not say that they were useless people; he tried to awaken them. Awakening can help the attitude of the student also. There is a kinship which is brought out through all communication with a sense of unity; when we have no relationship we cannot communicate. This does not mean that we must embrace each other or talk a lot; not at all. We may sit quietly with somebody and have a sense of deep relationship. In fact, with all people with whom we do have a deep relationship there is no need for demonstration or verbalizing. It seems that we must be more conscious of the empire of Nature at all levels, a network of mutual relationships, a network where currents are flowing from every side. Everyone is benefited by such communication. We strengthen our progress towards the more spiritual worlds, and begin to be less influenced by the ego-sense, which creates obstruction. Many of the statements that the Mahatmas made were beautiful, but perhaps we pass over them very quickly, because we do not realize all the implications and the beauty in them.