For Others

Originally printed in the March - April 2005 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Bland, Betty. "For Others." Quest  93.2 (MARCH - APRIL 2005):6

Theosophical Society - Betty Bland served as President of the Theosophical Society in America and made many important and lasting contributions to the growth and legacy of the TSA.

As my friend explained the complicated ins and outs of his current minor difficulties, I lightly said, "I believe I had better start praying for you." Immediately my friend became agitated and insisted on not being the recipient of any prayers. To my incredulous questions he replied that in his experience, whenever people prayed for him, the intention was to direct or control him in some way—to impose their will on him.

After my first moments of shock, I realized the truth of this in many instances—especially in the context of praying so that someone "will see the light." The "light" is always defined as seeing the prescribed truths according to the one doing the praying.H. P. Blavatsky writes in The Key to Theosophy that this is not prayer at all, but a kind of black magic:

But woe unto those Occultists and Theosophists, who, instead of crushing out the desires of the lower personal ego or physical man, and saying, addressing their Higher Spiritual EGO immersed in Atma-Buddhic light, "Thy will be done, not mine," etc., send up waves of will-power for selfish or unholy purposes! For this is black magic, abomination, and spiritual sorcery. (67-69)

In other words, we cannot call on that universal power unless we first search our own hearts and fill them with a humble spirit, recognizing that we have no idea how to define the greater good even for ourselves, much less another. With this attitude we can align with highest spirit and truly pray a prayer of power.

Like the center of a walnut, there is within each person a strength of purpose which will unfold when the conditions are right. The outer husk may be tough and prickly and the center surrounded by bitter sheaths, but deep within is a soft, sweet core with the power to produce a mighty tree.

When we truly pray unselfishly for the good of another person, we support this center and call forth its power. We are not accomplishing something because of our own will, but when we tune in to the will of the infinite deific presence accessible in the still, secret chambers of our hearts, we can indeed move mountains. Continuing her discourse in The Key to Theosophy, HPB speaks of this God-Power within in the following way:

Please say "God" and not a God. In our sense, the inner man is the only God we can have cognizance of. And how can this be otherwise? Grant us our postulate that God is a universally diffused, infinite principle, and how can man alone escape from being soaked through by, and in, the Deity? We call our "Father in heaven" that deific essence of which we are cognizant within us, in our heart and spiritual consciousness, and which has nothing to do with the anthropomorphic conception we may form of it in our physical brain or its fancy: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of (the absolute) God dwelleth in you?"

In other words, this God essence is so all-pervading that it cannot be escaped. It is always present in ourselves and others but hiding under the crust of our day-to-day anxieties. Yet it is there, waiting in silence to be summoned forth. It is a transformational power that we can trust to be a steady force in our lives.

When I was visiting our daughter in Germany some years ago, I was struck by a political poster for the Green party. It depicted a patch of cracked asphalt with a triumphant blade of spring-green grass pushing its way through into the sunlight. The slogan proclaimed "Gruen bricht durch," or "Green breaks through." This powerful image has always stuck with me as a metaphor for the spiritual power trapped beneath the surface of our minds, waiting for the moment to break forth. It is a mystery rather than something to be understood intellectually. Committed intensity and pure intention, aligned with the universal good, bring the waters of unfoldment into the cracks of our consciousness, allowing the spiritual power to blossom forth against all odds. HPB refers to this as a transformational, alchemical process:

Nor, as just remarked, that a prayer is a petition. It is a mystery rather; an occult process by which finite and conditioned thoughts and desires, unable to be assimilated by the absolute spirit which is unconditioned, are translated into spiritual wills and the will; such process being called "spiritual transmutation." The intensity of our ardent aspirations changes prayer into the "philosopher's stone," or that which transmutes lead into pure gold. The only homogeneous essence, our "will-prayer" becomes the active or creative force, producing effects according to our desire.

One of the greatest gifts given to us struggling human beings is the gift of being able to access this philosopher's stone for the good of all. Even if we don't say the right words, or know the most helpful hopes for the person for whom we are praying, we send a caring vibration through the universe that is carried on the wings of intentionality to help. The power of energy and support gently envelops the targeted recipient with the strength to reassert the natural impulse to wholeness and order.

So don't hesitate to participate. Tune in to an open, caring concern for your friends, neighbors, enemies, and strangers all over the world, and nourish those little blades of hope springing up and penetrating the darkness. Just as my friend finally concluded that he did indeed want to be included in my prayers, no one will want to hide from this kind of prayer. Its strength has the power to break the ravening darkness of the struggles of life and convert it to the greening pastures of hope.

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