This group discusses the practical applications of the theosophical philosophy and the therapeutics of the wisdom of the ages.
The art of living study group intends to discuss the relevance and connection of theosophical ideas to the challenges and hurdles of daily life. This group will focus on the ethical issues, psychological challenges and artistic applications of theosophy to the daily round and the common task. While the other three groups freely move back and forth between the universal and the particular, the theoretical and the practical, this group will make an attempt to stay focused on the practical side of the art of living equation.
Weekly Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
October 3, 2016 at 6:40 am #3531
Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“True love is a creative force that emanates from the One Logos under the universal law of cosmic and human interdependence, and has a universally beneficent effect.”
— Aquarian Almanac
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Weekly Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
ModeratorTN October 3, 2016 at 6:44 am #3534
Oct. 1, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.”
—St. Francis of Assisi
ModeratorTN October 3, 2016 at 6:46 am #3535
Oct. 2, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“Love and charity are but the law of our being, and the violation of the law is always attended by suffering.”
— D.K. Mavalankar
“Just as a scientist will work wonders out of various applications of nature, even so a man who applies the law of love with scientific precision can work greater wonders.”
— M.K. Gandhi
ModeratorTN October 3, 2016 at 6:46 am #3536
October 3, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“The virtue of love is NOTHING and ALL, or that nothing visible out of which all things proceed; its power is through all things; its height is as high as God; its greatness is as great as God.”
— Jacob Boehme
“True Love in this differs from gold and clay,
That to divide is not to take away.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
Odin Townley October 5, 2016 at 3:10 pm #3570
In a truly compassionate society, for example, hunger would be unthinkable. “Compassion is no attribute,” the Book of the Golden Precepts (Fragment III): Compassion “is the Law of Laws, Eternal Harmony — a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right, and fitness of all things — the law of love eternal.” The signature of love then, to be comparable to compassion, would have to be universality and impersonality.
The Charter for Compassion is doing practical amazing work in the world, would probably receive great praise from HPB if she were alive today. Hey, maybe she is?
Learn about the work they are doing at the below link:
SharisseParticipantSharisse October 5, 2016 at 11:05 pm #3571
True Love Is Compassion! It’s universal,unconditional and limitless. One way to see this is with your own children or as a child, your own parents. Sure they may err as we all do sooner or later, yet that unconditional love you have for them is unfaltering. Now try to apply that kind of ‘True love/Compassion’ towards all beings, it can be quite an uphill battle when our own personalities or experiences get in the way :).
‘Love,’ in the idea of ‘romantic love’ seems very personal, limiting and its make up, in the beginning, stems from desires rather than true love at all, not very universal. I do not believe this kind of ‘love’ is the same idea as compassion, as it also lays in the realm of the senses.
They are One and they are also different.
Alex PapandakisParticipantAlex Papandakis October 12, 2016 at 8:56 pm #3604
It is interesting to see how different people define these ideas in their own mind. It reveals some of the challenges we have with speech. We can say words but are they being received the way I intend them?
Compassion and Love are too very big ideas that no doubt have much overlap and significant differences at the same time. Love is a word that has many misplaced uses. Compassion is maybe used more selectively. The Voice of the Silence uses them both Compassion is the Law of laws, the law of love eternal.
barbaraParticipantbarbara October 15, 2016 at 12:51 am #3625
It is always difficult to converse about subjective reality because we do not have a concise standard to compare our intangible feelings. As Alex stated, love and compassion are very big ideas that have many overlaps. Yet, we know the difference when we experience sympathy, compassion, pity, or love with its various shades because, perhaps, we intuitively recognize the army of distinct devic (elemental) essences ensoul in the aforementioned emotions.
I have often thought kindness is akin to compassion, as both are qualities we sometimes see in the character of others, yet the idea of compassion seems to connote something even deeper. Wisdom and compassion seem to be two sides of a coin. It is not possible to be compassionate without the depth of understanding. As such, the degree of compassion depends on one’s ability to perceive truth. The more our minds are imbued in the light of truth, the more compassion overflows. One may say, when the ray of truth radiates in one’s heart, the current of compassion outpours to all sentient beings.
AnonymousAnonymous October 8, 2016 at 3:01 am #3575
I think compassion is active love. I might feel love and understand it, but part of our responsibility is to bring love through into the material world. Love made manifest grows and slowly changes the known universe bringing it closer and closer to a reflection of the divine.
ModeratorTN October 4, 2016 at 6:11 pm #3543
October 4, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself has any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a Heaven in Hell’s despair.”
“The heart is the key to it all, and the brain is only the servant of the heart.”
— W.Q. Judge
Odin Townley October 4, 2016 at 8:35 pm #3548
“The two schools of Buddha’s doctrine, the esoteric and the exoteric, are respectively called the ‘Heart’ and the ‘Eye’ Doctrine. Bodhidharma called them in China — from whence the names reached Tibet — the Tsung-men (esoteric) and Kiau-men (exoteric school). It is so named, because it is the teaching which emanated from Gautama Buddha’s heart, whereas the ‘Eye’ Doctrine was the work of his head or brain. The ‘Heart Doctrine’ is also called ‘the seal of truth’ or the ‘true seal, a symbol found on the heading of almost all esoteric works.
“Secret Heart” is the esoteric doctrine.
The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky
FRAGMENT II. THE TWO PATHS.
ModeratorTN October 6, 2016 at 2:42 am #3574
October 5, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“Pure divine love is not merely the blossom of a human heart, but has its roots in eternity.“
— H.P. Blavatsky
“Where love is not there is no true worship: nothing is sacred to us unless we love.“
— Claude Houghton
ModeratorTN October 8, 2016 at 6:17 pm #3578
October 7, 2016 Theme for Contemplation: The Law of Love
“This spiritual Love acts not nor can exist
Without Imagination, which, in truth,
Is but another name for absolute power
And clearest insight, amplitude of mind,
and Reason in her most exalted mood.”
— William Wordsworth
PeterModeratorPeter October 10, 2016 at 10:06 am #3579
Love and Compassion
The term compassion normally means to have a feeling of concern or deep sympathy for the plight of others i.e. for the unfortunate situation they find themselves in, their suffering & so on.
Love is a term that has many shades of meaning such as devotion to another or others, strong affection, a deep feeling of connection with other beings & so on. I suspect we could each find many different ways to describe the love we have felt for others or experienced from others towards ourselves.
Are love and compassion identical? Ultimately I don’t know, and poetic quotes from other people probably won’t help me decide. It may simply depend our own direct exploration and experience. Recently I felt a strong sense of compassion towards a person convicted of murder and sexual crimes. This feeling arose as I reflected upon the karma and future conditions (future lives of ‘retribution’) this person has been creating for themselves as a result of their terrible actions. I’ve also experienced a similar feeling of compassion towards terrorists and others who perpetrate dreadful suffering upon others. However, while the feeling of compassion was strong in each, I could not say I loved any of those perpetrators of suffering upon other people.
Pierre WoutersModeratorPierre Wouters October 10, 2016 at 6:33 pm #3581
That’s an interesting observation Peter, and I certainly agree with it. Yet, according to HPBs Glossary, when we look at the term Kamadeva (pp.170-171) which I’m sure you’re aware of, love and compassion are indeed one and the same thing, albeit different aspects of the same (Kamadeva), but I would presume that they have to work in tandem. In essence Kamadeva seems to be an emanative energy (probably related to Fohat and Jiva) of Atma and as such also connected to Karma, as Atma is identical with the law of Karma, Atma being the primary element that represents and preserves unity, any infraction against it being counteracted by an effect to restore equilibrium.
So, perhaps we may have to investigate then whether what “we” determine as compassion as referred to in your example of feeling compassion for a murderer but not feeling a love for them, is indeed true compassion, or is it perhaps just a feeling of “pity” that stems from the better part of our lower manas?
This whole problem also relates to what TRUE Brotherhood really is. Does it really apply to any level below lower manas (that is from kama-manas down)? Or is true Brotherhood rather our capacity to connect with the higher Egoic (or complete monadic) element in others, independently of what kind of crimes and stupidity they may have accumulated? We know that true brotherhood fails on the level of personalities (witness humanity’s inability to dialogue with terrorists, as terrorists seem to be incapable of any kind of “reason” in their activities) as our daily activities but all to often prove.
So these are just some of my thoughts I seem to grope with in the dark 🙂
Here’s the ref to Kamadeva for convenience sake:
“Kamadeva (Sk.). In the popular notions the god of love, a Visva-deva, in the Hindu Pantheon. As the Eros of Hesiod, degraded into Cupid by exoteric law, and still more degraded by a later popular sense attributed to the term, so is Kama a most mysterious and metaphysical subject. The earlier Vedic description of Kama alone gives the key-note to what he emblematizes. Kama is the first conscious, all embracing desire for universal good, love, and for all that lives and feels, needs help and kindness, the first feeling of infinite tender compassion and mercy that arose in the consciousness of the creative ONE Force, as soon as it came into life and being as a ray from the ABSOLUTE. Says the Rig Veda, “Desire first arose in IT, which was the primal germ of mind, and which Sages, searching with their intellect, have discovered in their heart to be the bond which connects Entity with non-Entity”, or Manas with pure Atma-Buddhi. There is no idea of sexual love in the conception. Kama is pre-eminently the divine desire of creating happiness and love; and it is only ages later, as mankind began to materialize by anthropomorphization its grandest ideals into cut and dried dogmas, that Kama became the power that gratifies desire on the animal plane. This is shown by what every Veda and some Brahmanas say. In the Atharva Veda, Kama is represented as the Supreme Deity and Creator. In the Taitarîya Brahmana, he is the child of Dharma, the god of Law and Justice, of Sraddha and faith. In another account he springs from the heart of Brahmâ. Others show him born from water, i.e., from primordial chaos, or the “Deep”. Hence one of his many names, Irâ-ja, “the water-born”; and Aja, “unborn” ; and Atmabhu or “Self-existent”. Because of the sign of Makara (Capricornus) on his banner, he is also called “ Makara Ketu”. The allegory about Siva, the “Great Yogin ”, reducing Kama to ashes by the fire from his central (or third) Eye, for inspiring the Mahadeva with thoughts of his wife, while he was at his devotions—is very suggestive, as it is said that he thereby reduced Kama to his primeval spiritual form.”
AnonymousAnonymous October 11, 2016 at 12:24 am #3592
I would like to propose that compassion differs from empathy/sympathy (as in the case of the terrorist) in that is causes one to act and grow towards a universal love for humanity. This is why I feel it is love “active.” It causes true connection. Compassion comes from a higher-self perspective and flows through into the material plane.
Whereas, I might feel a sharp desire/kamadeva/limerence towards another person in a temporary and fleeting way (thus is Cupid depicted as swift). This blinds me from seeing a person for who they truly are. Tis to love the mask and not the man.
So one type seems to be part of the truth and one is part of maya. What do you think about this idea?
Jon FergusModeratorJon Fergus October 11, 2016 at 9:10 am #3596
I really enjoyed everyone’s thoughts on Compassion and Love so far. Would like to add a couple of ideas that come to mind.
- I think it’s perhaps important to make a distinction between compassion and/or love per se and our experience of compassion and/or love on this plane. Pierre, your description seems helpful in trying to approach what they are per se, in relation to our principles, etc., and the comments from Peter and Kate seem very helpful in terms of our experience of love or compassion in this world. In terms of our principles, could it be said that compassion and/or love is a kind of perception of our highest principles (atma-buddhi) “from below” so to speak? i.e. we perceive (dimly) the oneness that is inherent there and, given our lack of true experiential oneness while living in this world, we give a name to that dim perception and link it with the “feeling” we get while perceiving it? So the “feeling” isn’t the thing itself.
- I suspect that if we’re going to approach what compassion is, in the higher reaches of our being, we would need to rise above the sense of separateness (at least in our imagination). It seems to me that we experience compassion in this world generally in the sense of “I” or “me” feeling something for some “other,” whereas, I’d be willing to bet that in our higher reaches, compassion is likely more akin to an experience of shared identity. I would venture to say that this might perhaps mark a distinction between love and compassion: love being (perhaps) the lower portion and compassion the higher portion of one aspect of our being; so perhaps love could be looked at as compassion in differentiation (?).
In terms of practicality, it seems to me that the usefulness of compassion in our world is primarily to break up our sense of separateness. It elevates us not simply in terms of feeling pity or empathy or love etc., but in identifyingwith others so we begin to soften this hard shell of separation we’ve established. And in that sense, I’d suggest that the feeling is much less important than the aspect of shared identity.
AnonymousAnonymous October 11, 2016 at 1:10 pm #3597
Jon, I agree and to further the point…looking to the The Voice of the Silence (in my copy pg. 28, Two Paths) is stated the following:
“If thou art taught that sin is born of action and bliss of absolute inaction, then tell them that they err. Non-permanence of human action: deliverance of mind from thralldom by the cessation of sin and faults are not for “Deva Egols.” [the reincarnating ego]. Thus saith the “Doctrine of the Heart. The Dharma of the ‘Eye’ is the embodiment of the external, and the non-existing. The Dharma of the ‘Heart’ is the embodiment of Bodhi [true divine wisdom], the Permanent and Everlasting…..Both action and inaction may find room in thee: thy body agitated, thy mind tranquil, the Soul as limpid as a mountain lake….”
And here she further goes on to discuss the two paths, one being the path of immediate nirvana and the other the path of the “secret path,” the path of the heart..and this is found through compassion and service to others. Then on page 42, “The Secret Path leads to the Arhan to the mental woe unspeakable; woe for the living Dead (36), and helpless pity for the men of Karmic sorrow, the fruit of Karma Sages dare not still.” This I believe points directly to what Peter and Pierre discuss with the terrorist and the murderer.
Just a thought, but it might mean something different to others and I’d like to know other ideas too 🙂
PeterModeratorPeter October 12, 2016 at 5:10 pm #3598
Kate, Pierre and Jon – really good thoughts.
I have a slightly different understanding to yourself, Pierre, of that passage on Kama Deva from ‘The Glossary’. Love and compassion are aspects or qualities of Kamadeva, as you say, just as mercy, kindness, the desire for universal good are also aspects of Kamadeva as described in that passage. That doesn’t necessarily mean that any one aspect or quality is identical to any other aspect or all other aspects. For example, mercy implies that kindness is present at the time of mercy, yet mercy isn’t identical to kindness. It’s possible to be kind when mercy isn’t present or even relevant.
If we take the view that love and compassion are identical, or take Kate’s view that compassion is active love, then it follows that it is not possible to feel compassion towards beings we do not love or to feel it when love is not present or active in us. From this we might deduce that what we mistake for compassion is actually another feeling such as pity or sympathy or concern or sorrow for another being’s plight – in other words, not real compassion. Yet, when we ask, ‘what is compassion?’ we find ourselves describing it as a feeling of, say, pity, sympathy, concern or sorrow for the suffering / situation of another being or beings etc. These being the very feelings we say the person is mistaking for compassion.
If we were to say that compassion is another word for the love for another being, or beings in general, then we would miss some of the essential properties that make compassion what it is. Compassion may be a manifestation of love in action. It may also be a manifestation of justice in action. It could also be a manifestation of understanding in action. This latter aspect of understanding might be related to Pierre’s idea of different levels of compassion depending upon our evolutionary development.
In my example of feeling compassion for the serious criminal or terrorist, this feeling arose out of my understanding of karma and reincarnation – limited as that understanding is. For it was in reflecting upon the future karmic ramifications for those people that my feelings of concern and sorrow arose – contemplating not just the ‘retribution’ which at some time must necessarily follow, but how the future skandhas of those people might likely lead to even more crimes of a similar nature, thus the potential for the negative cycle to repeat itself on and on before it is eventually broken – if, indeed, it ever does get broken.
Perhaps as our understanding of universal law grows, and as deeper more direct realisations ensue, our capacity for compassion grows accordingly. Indeed, once the flame of compassion is awakened our desire to form an understanding of life and its laws may also increase. Thus the compassion of a Initiate, Adept or Buddha is immeasurably deeper than our own due to their Wisdom. And along with an ever deepening realisation of universal brotherhood as a fact, not just an idea, the intensity and sweep of compassion increases to a level far beyond our current level of comprehension. Wisdom and Compassion – hand in hand.
Could we imagine having compassion without any understanding of how another being might feel in the circumstances they find themselves in? Could I feel pity for the suffering of other human beings, as the Buddhas of Compassion are said to feel for us, if I had no understanding of what those beings are experiencing and going through? In her love for the child a mother feels a level of compassion the child is, as yet, unable to feel for her. This may be connected to Jon’s good point and question about compassion for the ‘other’. It appears that Compassion is always ‘for’ some being or beings. Even in our passage on Kama Deva, ‘the other’ is implied right from the beginning with the emergence of that ray from the Absolute :
“Kama is the first conscious, all embracing desire for universal good, love, and for all that lives and feels, needs help and kindness, the first feeling of infinite tender compassion and mercy that arose in the consciousness of the creative ONE Force, as soon as it came into life and being as a ray from the ABSOLUTE…’ (emphasis added.)
- This reply was modified 2 years ago by Peter.
SharisseParticipantSharisse October 12, 2016 at 8:07 pm #3601
Hopefully this comes out right as I am not so good with wording (E&Oe :)). My small view here is that we need to make a distinction between true or maybe a better way of saying it is ‘pure’ love and attachment, before pure love was thrown into form and personalization.
Pure love is free, liberating while attachment is binding. Pure love is ceaseless, unbroken, unbreakable, all embracing, all including and everything (whether we see it or not) is but an aspect of it. Our personalities make us attach to ourselves first, more than anyone else, ‘seemingly’ separating us. We all struggle with this daily, that is the battle suggested that pure love fails on personal levels as Pierre suggested about Brotherhood. Might be why it is hard to see what pure love really is, we can’t be selfless in personal mode. It’s not something outside of ourselves, not a possession, not a ‘thing.’
If there were no ‘separate existence’ feeling among us, wouldn’t that give rise to an all-inclusive (universal) oneness, unalloyed love? Could compassion then, be a stepping stone towards this pure love/essence (?) instead of it’s lowest form?
what is compassion? I think compassion is suffering together, lessening the pain and suffering of others, ‘drying that tear before it drops.’ which can only be done freely. The more compassionate we become, the more this pure love grows.
AnonymousAnonymous October 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm #3617
I think that is an interesting point, Alex. Perhaps our vocabulary has not yet fully grasped the concept of “love” and that’s why it remains in a “gray” area instead of a clearly “visible” idea. Perhaps love is always the good that is coming forth, and therefore it remains mysterious as we become new, form, die, and begin again at a higher plateau. 🙂
Kirk MarzuloParticipantKirk Marzulo October 16, 2016 at 7:43 am #3635
In the late 1950’s, at over 80 years of age and compelled by a growing sense of inner necessity, the great Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Carl Jung undertook an autobiography in which he voiced some of his deepest and perhaps most far-reaching convictions. In the final pages of that work, in a chapter called “Late Thoughts,” he wrote the following:
“At this point the fact forces itself on my attention that beside the field of reflection there is another equally broad if not broader area in which rational understanding and rational modes of representation find scarcely anything they are able to grasp. This is the realm of Eros. In classical times, when such things were properly understood, Eros was considered a god whose divinity transcended our human limits, and who therefore could neither be comprehended nor represnted in any way. I might, as many before me have attempted to do, venture an approach to this daimon, whose range of activity extends from the endless spaces of the heavens to the dark abysses of hell; but I falter before the task of finding the language which might adequately express the incalculable paradoxes of love. Eros is a “kosmogonos,” a creator and father-mother of all higher consciousness. I sometimes feel that Paul’s words–“Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love…”–might well be the first condition of all congnition and the quintessence of divinity itself. Whatever the learned interpretation many be of the sentence “God is love,” the words affirm the ‘complexio oppositorum’ of the Godhead. In my medical experience as well as in my own life I have again and again been faced with the mystery of love, and have never been able to explain what it is. Like Job, I had to “lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer.” (Job 40:40f)
Here is the greatest and the smallest, the remotest and the nearest, the highest and lowest, and we cannot discuss one side of it without also discussing the other. No language is adequate to this paradox. Whatever one can say, no words express the whole. To speak of partial aspects is always to say too much or too little, for only the whole is meaningful. Love “bears all things” and “endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). These words say all there is to be said, nothing can be added to them. For we are in the deepest sense the victims and the instruments of cosmogonic “love.” I put the word in quotation marks to indicate that I do not use it in its connotations of desiring, perferring, favoring, wishing, and similar feelings, but as something superior to the individual, a unified and undivided whole. Being a part, man cannot grasp the whole. He is at its mercy. He may assent to it, or rebel against it: but he is always caught up by it and enclosed within it. He is dependent upon it and is sustained by it. Love is his light and his darkness, whose end he cannot see…Man can try to name love, showereing upon it all the names at his command, and still he will involve himself in endless self-deceptions. If he possesses a grain of wisdom, he will lay down his arms and name the unknown by the more unknown, ‘ignotum per ignotius’–that is, by the name of God. That is a confession of his subjectiion, his imperfection, and his dependence; but at the same time a testimony to his freedom to choose between truth and error.”
Pierre WoutersModeratorPierre Wouters October 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm #3637
Excellent quote Kirk.
Although Jung didn’t have much good to say about Theosophy, he was nevertheless an original thinker, and this quote at the end of his life reflects his deepest thoughts which in essence are not different from the theosophical perspective.