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One for the Road

One for the Road

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Published by bde_gnas

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Published by: bde_gnas on Jun 17, 2013
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One for the Road
By Betty Bland
Some time ago during a speaking tour I had to take a limo from Los Angeles toLong Beach, California. Being unfamiliar with the territory, I could give only thestreet address of my destination and leave the rest up to the driver, who exhibitedall of the most exciting traits of his high-spirited, risk-taking fellow taxi drivers inother major cities around the world. Since he did not know the targeteddestination, he decided to look up the street index and search his map while hewas careening in and out of the heavy traffic on the infamous southern Californiafreeways. For all the attention he seemed to be paying to the road in front of him,he might as well have pasted the index and map over the windshield of the car.After what seemed an eternity and a few prayers in the back seat, we finally didarrive safely—shaken, but none the worse for the wear.Reflecting on the experience later, I realized that many of us live life in just thisway. There are many resources that can be used as roadmaps for life. Somemay use religious texts, some schools of psychology, or others the teachings of aguru. All may sound intriguing or erudite, or even have the ring of truth, and sowe are drawn to studying and discussing them endlessly. For many Theosophiststhis kind of mental exploration can be exhilarating and captivating. We feel thatwe are just one tiny step away from knowing the secrets of life.Scientific discoveries that confirm some of our pet theories excite us and draw usfurther into our theoretical explorations. Without a doubt I must affirm, as H. P.Blavatsky so often did, that science is a powerful ally in our earnest search fortruth. At the empirical gross physical level, it can confirm many ideas about ouruniverse. From those ideas we can draw implications for the meaning andpurpose of life, but those ideas have no substance unless they are acted upon.Lacking a map in unfamiliar territory we might wander aimlessly through wrongturns and dead-ends. We have a hard time finding pleasure in the trip because ofour pent-up anxiety. Gradually we develop a map in our mind that serves as ourguide and we reach a certain level of comfort in following the known routes. At
this point, not wanting to risk a return to our former state of confusion, we may beresistant to change. We may even refuse to consider others’ advice or newmaps.Maps are important and necessary. When we finally look at a detailed map it canbe a real eye-opener. We may have been going the long way around, or takingthe stoplight-ridden route when there was a far simpler way to go. And there maybe a lovely park to traverse rather than a busy street. Maps are wonderful tools.They can give us an overview of an area as well as pinpoint details. But they arenot the territory itself.In our spiritual lives, an encounter with a source of spiritual guidebooks such asour Theosophical literature can be an exciting discovery. All of a sudden we cangain a higher view and clearer idea of detours and pitfalls. Many of us haveexperienced that heightened intensity of study in the early years of ourTheosophical or metaphysical pursuits. A new world of understanding arises. Theterritory of life is far different from what we had first thought; the scheme granderand more meaningful. We discover a holistic approach that integrates all aspectsof religion, philosophy, science, and the arts.In the excitement we can become so caught up in the map that we forget it is notthe territory. We become like the driver who has the map pasted across thewindshield, and forget to watch the traffic, landmarks, and road signs. Self-absorption in studies becomes counterproductive, blocking the very clarity,understanding, and direction we are seeking.As H. P. Blavatsky admonishes all Theosophists in
The Key to Theosophy 
:No working member should set too great value on his personal progress orproficiency in Theosophic studies; but must be prepared rather to do as muchaltruistic work as lies in his power. He should not leave the whole of the heavyburden and responsibility of the Theosophical movement on the shoulders of thefew devoted workers. Each member ought to feel it his duty to take what sharehe can in the common work, and help it by every means in his power.Periodically we have to remove our noses from our books and our minds fromendless titillating theories in order to put our knowledge into practice, or we will

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