The Theosophical Society in America

Take a Bite

By Betty Bland

Originally printed in the JULY-AUGUST 2007 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Bland, Betty."Take a Bite." Quest  95.4 (JULY-AUGUST 2007): 124-125.

Betty Bland

Those who grew up with the Biblical tradition of Adam and Eve have often heard that they were born sinful because of Eve's actions. Eve took a bite of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and then convinced Adam to do the same—at the urging of the serpent, of course. Viewed allegorically, the story may speak of the coming of age for humanity, when intellectual acumen (the wisdom of the serpent) had reached the level which brought humankind to the age of accountability, that stage at which one becomes self-responsible and capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong.
 

From that point in our development, we humans have had the tendency to make poor choices and then to say, "The devil made me do it!" When things go awry we do not like to think that we may have done anything to cause the problem. We prefer to point the finger of blame in every direction but toward ourselves. And truly, it does seem that from birth we are caught up in a stream of circumstances that shape us in ways that tend to make us repeat the same mistakes again and again. Caught in our personality quirks and throes of our circumstances, we deny the presence of freewill, one of our greatest gifts and the tool by which we can begin our spiritual journey back to the source of our being.

We say that we are inextricably caught in a quagmire of predestined events. Fate has had it in for us from the beginning, so now we will just continue as we have been and hope that something outside ourselves will intervene. Viewed from the perspective of the blind and struggling personality there is some truth to this view. At any moment in time, however, we have the freedom to reach into the deeper core of our being where abides will, purpose, and loving kindness. At such a moment everything shifts and we can catch a glimpse of the possibilities rather than the limitations. Madam Blavatsky wrote about freewill in relation to astrology but her statements apply equally to astrology, fate, or predestination.

I hold, moreover, that astrology, being a calculation of the planetary influences on an individual, is merely a science of tendencies. In other words, the influences in themselves are such as to predispose the individual to adopt the line of action predicted. Man, however, being endued with what is called free-will, but what I prefer to call latent will-power or soul-power, may develop it to such an extent that he may successfully oppose the planetary influences and overcome what is popularly known as fate. It is only when the individual is passive, or when his will-power is undeveloped and feeble, or when, the will-power being developed, he works in the direction of the planetary influences themselves, that astrological predictions will be realized. Hence it is that we hear it said that when a person possessing the necessary amount of developed will-power is initiated into the mysteries of occultism, he passes beyond the pale of astrological predictions. (Collected Works vol. 6, 327)

Each of us does begin this life with a unique set of circumstances, tendencies, and talents. Whatever they are, we can make the most of them and even rise above them. We can turn them into opportunities for learning, service, and even joy—but only by changing our attitudes and directly facing the things we fear or dislike, by exercising our will power.

If this is true, why do we often feel so trapped as if there is no way we can make a difference? Perhaps our own timidity and fear is our greatest jailer. Freedom of will is available only to the bold. As American author and lecturer Marianne Williamson said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us." We have a vast potential that in our weaker-willed moments we tremble even to consider. Rather than shrinking away with feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy, claim your power to be all that you can be. Direct your energies toward the powers of love and life; be creative in seeing the opportunity in each challenge or failure. Take responsibility boldly, and see how your life begins to turn around, ever so slowly perhaps at first, but turn it will.

As your life changes, so does the rest of the world—one small step at a time. And the small steps of each of us toward wholeness and peace can and will transform the world. As Galadriel told Frodo in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. This is yours to do. No one else can do it for you" (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, movie 2001).

Each of us is responsible of our own freewill to incorporate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil into our understanding and judgment so that we can fully claim its power. Take a big bite and then listen to the wisdom of the inner self and dare to follow where it leads. In doing so, you will claim the truth of freewill for yourself and begin to recreate the idyllic nature of the original Garden of Eden in the world around us. It is possible to move in that direction if enough of us recognize our precious birthright of personal responsibility. Used wisely, that power will transform the world. It is available to each of us for the choosing.