Fly a Kite

By Betty Bland

Originally printed in the Fall 2009 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Bland, Betty. "Fly a Kite." Quest 97. 4 (Fall 2009): 126.

Betty BlandOne thousand kites in the air at the same time! This was the goal of the Wheaton Sesquicentennial Commission when they put out an all-call for kite flyers from the area to gather in one of the local parks last spring. They were hoping to set a world's record for the most kites flying at once. The winds didn't cooperate, but it was a festive gathering drawing kiters of all sorts together for the grand attempt. Although the count was a mere 800, the event created a myriad of shapes and colors dotting the skies.

Besides the lack of cooperation from the winds (and we live near Chicago, which is known as the Windy City), one reason the event didn't meet its goal may be that our general culture isn't very savvy about kiting. We can find some kites in the stores, but rarely do we see many in the air. This is probably because there is a real art to kite flying, and what may seem like a simple hobby in fact requires a certain level of skill.

Think about all the parts of a simple kite that have to be in balance. First is the framework, which has to be tough, light, balanced, and flexible. It has to be carefully designed, since it is the structure on which all else hangs. Then the wind-resistant covering that holds it all together adds lift, design, and color. Yet even with these details carefully crafted, the kite cannot get off the ground if it does not have a tail to keep it in balance.

These elements of a kite can be likened to the spiritual life. The structure or framework is composed of the familiar Theosophical triad of study, meditation, and service. These are the supporting spines of our practice, without which any effort will fall flat. The study of the Ageless Wisdom, against which we can measure our experience of nature within and without, provides the strength of understanding that can carry us through the winds of fortune.

The more we know about the universe and its laws, the more we begin to see the necessity of an altruistic spirit. A greater understanding of our own nature creates in us an absolute realization of our unity with all. Without this generous and open-hearted attitude, our spiritual kite will not be structurally sound and will finally collapse under the weight of its own self-preoccupation.

Yet study and service alone lack cohesiveness. They require the strong binder of meditation, which holds these elements together in a meaningful way so that they are firmly anchored in our consciousness. Meditation creates the still insight through which our own individuality can unfold its beautiful design. We are like snowflakes: no two are exactly alike. Meditation reaches deeply within to tune into that interior essence so that each one of us is able to express his or her own distinctive character.

With these foundations well in place, we are on our way, but without the covering to provide the lift, we are still earthbound. That covering can be compared to the essential element of inspiration. Study, meditation, and service can be quite consistent, but until the element of inspiration is introduced, our practice can fall flat. This is a part of the beauty and art of building our soul's kite. The sources of inspiration are myriad and unpredictable. For some, it may be Taizechanting or singing the Indian devotional songs known as bhajans; for some it may be the veneration of Jesus, Buddha, Allah, saints from the past, or present-day teachers; for others it may be ringing bells, lighting candles, or praying in a chapel. The colorful practices of the traditions we hold dear call to the depths of our being, resonating with the intrinsic patterns of our individual natures and drawing us toward the heights. These multifaceted practices, which bring inspiration through beauty and devotion when observed in full consciousness and joined within the framework of study, meditation, and service, create an inner structure that will be sensitive to every breath of wind from universal spirit.

The caution to be sounded here is that we all have to realize that the shape and color of our kites are not the only kinds there are or should be.  Besides making this a very boring and regimented world, this would essentially tie our kites down to self-centeredness, pride, and exclusivity. These will never fly!

Finally, the remaining element required for an effective kite is a proper tail to provide balance and steady orientation as the winds blow to and fro. I think we can say that the element that provides this balance is the attempt to live by high ethical standards each and every moment of our daily lives. This consistent development of character steadies our efforts and generates the necessary stability.

All of this we do in preparation, but we never know when the wind will catch us and lift us to the heights. We have to be diligent, trust the wisdom of those who have experience in the flight of spirit, and remain willing to keep trying and learning. If our practice and inspiration are soundly based and our daily lives reflect all that we know, we will be holding our souls aloft in readiness. We will be prepared to catch the smallest breeze.

If we are prepared and ready, the spirit will move us and lift us into the heavens. And if we Theosophists as a group can work together sharing knowledge and helping one another, then we can have an assortment of many-colored kites of consciousness held in readiness so that we can have many more than a thousand spirits joined in heart and breath, dotting the cosmos and shielding humanity.

Build your spiritual kite carefully day by day and hold it ever at ready so that in the twinkling of the universal eye, we will unite as a band of worldwide servers. The many shapes, designs, and colors of our beings united in spirit will offer far more than a spectacle of color or shapes filling the sky: we can be the critical mass to improve, beautify, and, yes, even transform our world.


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