Watch It

By Betty Bland

Originally printed in the SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2006 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Bland, Betty."Watch It." Quest  94.5 (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2006):124-125.

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 soon as the first rays of daylight peep through the edges of our window shades, my cat perches on her viewing table at a particular window of interest. After about fifteen minutes, patience wearing thin, she begins a gentle tapping at the shade, softly at first, but quickly building to a level to compete with any rock band. We of course express our gratitude to her for eliminating any need for an alarm clock, and then drag blearily out of bed in order to accommodate her feline curiosity.

Thus begins the day of watchfulness over the squirrels and birds, which seem to deliberately cavort in that particular spot just to tease her. The intense vigil is punctuated by occasional breaks for food, affection, naps, and frolicking. At her post, however, there is no room for lapses into laziness. Whiskers and ears forward, marking every movement beyond the window, she is poised for that one moment when the glass might disappear, giving her full access to the ground below with all its tantalizing inhabitants.

Living in two worlds at the same time, our cat exemplifies the kind of attitude we might develop through a committed vigil of silence. Anyone familiar with cats knows that they do not in any way neglect their creature comforts. In the fashion of Garfield, they are known for their luxuriating habits. Yet, they become fully alert and ready to pounce at the slightest appearance of a target. They live every moment attuned to their daily needs but always seem to have an inner radar tuned to other possibilities.

We also live in two worlds at the same time, but we mostly live in a state of forgetfulness concerning the world of reality that waits in the inner silence. A world of strength, potentiality, and certainty does exist through the interior window of our being, but we forget to be attuned to it, to have that daily vigil of alert watching. The ordinary activities of our lives, minds, and emotions create a cacophony that drowns out other possibilities. Perhaps we need to consider exploring that inner alertness every morning in order to carry that kind of attunement all day long.

Far more important than the cavorting squirrels, that interior space contains the patterns and causes of the present situation as well as the source of wisdom as to how to work within and through it. Theosophy teaches, and many of us have begun to realize this truth, that things unfold from within outwards—that the world is guided from this inner plane.

The whole world is animated and lit, down to its most material shapes, by a world within it. This inner world is called Astral by some people, and it is as good a word as any other, though it merely means starry; but the stars, as Locke pointed out, are luminous bodies which give light of themselves. This quality is characteristic of the life which lies within matter; for those who see it, need no lamp to see it by. The word star, moreover, is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "stir-an," to steer, to stir, to move, and undeniably it is the inner life which is master of the outer, just as a man's brain guides the movements of his lips.

Mabel Collins, Light on the Path

If we really believed this truism, we would apply the same intensity as the cat to our vigil at the window of our souls. Our distractions are so strong and our watchfulness so tenuous, that the only way we can begin to develop an attunement to this inner knowledge and guide is to deliberately sit ourselves down in an environment of tranquility and silence. With practice, a sense of connection with this alternate reality begins to arise and we are drawn more often to that window—even at unscheduled times when the need arises. Within this wellspring of silence can arise the strength of being to dare and persist, the potentiality of inspiration to solve issues and create a better world, and the certainty of direction to guide us into our higher purpose.

As soon as we realize that these are the grand prizes dancing just beyond our reach through the window, one would think that we would become just as intense in our vigil as the cat, watching to catch the slightest hints from the world beyond the window—the world in which our higher self, our ultimate master, resides.