The Future is Ours…
Continuing the Legacy in the New Millennium
by Gita Saraydarian
Excerpted from Outreach – January/Feb 2001
Four years ago on January 5th, our beloved Teacher and Father made his transition. His life and work form a continuation of the steady flow of the advanced Hierarchical Teachings begun at the end of the 19th Century. The Teachings made public by H.P. Blavatsky, Helena Roerich, Alice A. Bailey, and Torkom Saraydarian form an unbroken tapestry of Wisdom. Torkom’s work has enhanced, expanded, simplified, and enriched the Teaching through his deep wisdom and experiences.
Torkom Saraydarian worked with total self-sacrifice and total dedication for the welfare of others. He worked to teach the purity of the Teaching and warned continuously against the inflammatory, materially based teachings that flow like the tide in and out of the grasp of humanity. He did not choose his audience. He simply laid the work on the crossroads of life; and let the seekers and thirsty ones find and appreciate his work.
In the tradition of modern great teachers, Torkom did not seem to worry about who was going to read his books, listen to his lectures, and appreciate his music. There were times when someone would attend one lecture, buy one book, and reappear only sixteen years later to say how much that one book had meant to him, or how his life had changed because of the Teaching! At other times, a person would buy every book, attend every lecture, and then go away never to be heard of again.
Sometimes a book would enrage people, especially when it came to his writings concerning family and sex matters. Sometimes one book would change a person’s life forever. It seems that everyone’s reaction to his work depended on the individual’s particular life problems and challenges and what that individual was personally looking for in a teacher and the Teaching. The personal dictated the approach.
As a true creative artist, he did what he did because there was no other way to live. There was no other way to express his deep love and deep devotion to the Teachings of the Great Ones. He earnestly hoped that his work would help to alleviate the gross materialism, the hatred, the sectarianism and separatism so rampant in our life.
Yet, he did not want to be worshipped, nor be seen in any other way except as a humble servant carrying a load for Hierarchy. He asked not to be called a master. He never indulged himself in showing off or self-centered mental gymnastics. His work demonstrates the subtlety of deep intellectual insight, soul contact, and absolute practicality. The Teaching had to be practical so that we could make changes and enhance our life.
After a lifetime of service, more than a hundred and fifty books written, thousands of lectures and seminars given, hundreds of musical pieces written and recorded, thousands of individual men and women and children counseled and helped from the despairs of life, his time in this life was over. Now we can ask, what should we be doing to continue this rich tapestry of a legacy that has been left for us? Our daring answers will determine what happens to all his labor in the coming decades.
During the week of his birthday in November, I had occasion to visit with many of my fellow students and listened to many thoughts and feelings about what people were feeling regarding their relations to the teacher and the Teaching. I felt that, in order to keep safe a rich legacy such as Torkom’s, we need to examine carefully some crucial questions about how we understand our relationship to the teacher and the Teaching.
So I asked myself: Why do we go to a teacher? Why do we search for the Teaching? When the teacher leaves us, why are there so many kinds of reactions and actions? Why are there so many hurt feelings and such silent despair? Why the broken hearts? What is the best way to continue the legacy and make it rich and rewarding for those who come after we leave? And lastly, how do we remember such a great disciple?
I asked myself and I listened. I also listened to people as they related how when Torkom died they no longer wished to be involved in the groups of the Teaching, so they went away. How they just wanted to stay to themselves. How they wanted to go on with their lives, take care of their families, and so on. Everyone had a deep conviction and held one piece of the puzzle.
“Been there, done that,” they said. “We now need to live a life, care for our families….”
I wondered, what really was happening in people’s hearts? How was it that a normal life and the Teaching could no longer co-exist?
I asked myself, how can such a person’s life and his great accomplishments over a lifetime simply end when his life on earth also ends?
I wondered, there are relatively few of us who remember him in person. After we die, what happens? Is that the end of a person’s accomplishments?
I felt sadness and wanted to understand. I saw the end of one era and the need to start another page of life.
After careful pondering, I started understanding that all Great Ones attract all kinds of people around them. That cannot be helped. We go to teachers for so many reasons. It makes us feel pious; it makes us feel protected; it makes us feel we are important; it makes us feel we are deeply spiritual; and if we appreciate a great person, then we must be special too.
But what happens when the teacher dies and we disappear? Or worse, when the teacher is maligned and the Teaching distorted and people close their ears and do not dare to speak, what happens then?
What is kept alive after the Teacher dies? Is it just a bunch of stories, some nice memories, some anecdotes?
If his legacy is to remain alive and thrive in the future, how then can we do this? What is truly his legacy?
What did Torkom bring to this era and to the world that will last longer than one lifetime?
Each of us who had a personal contact with him saw only one side of him. We all have memories and stories to share. We all have anecdotes that make us happy.
But, who and what was this man?
We see a public figure mostly through our own prism. Each person sees one part of such a person. Everything we see can be what we wanted to see.
Our relations to a great server are usually based on our own wishful thinking and our own personal needs. We usually do not say so, but internally we are saying: “What can I get out of this? How can I be protected? How can I guarantee that I can build grace for my life hereafter?”
We often judge a person from our own personal perspective of what we are most in need of at that time. It is neediness that attracts us to the Light, and it is sometimes neediness that keeps us there. It is lack of self confidence that makes us needy, even spiritually needy. It is this lack of confidence that keeps us fluttering around the anecdotes of our experiences, preventing us from serious self-confrontation.
Our personal memories are really fine. They make us feel good, warm, and fuzzy. But is there a better way to relate to such a person as our Father, Teacher, and Friend?
If we see him from a needy and personal standpoint, we will only see a reflection of our needs, our identities, our wishes and dreams. We will see our hopes. We will see what we want to become.
Sometimes we will see an impossible achievement and feel frustrated, angry. We say: “How can this kind of accomplishment happen? Oh, he was just lucky; he had good karma. His parents must have been geniuses. We are not so lucky.”
Oddly enough, we may even feel jealousy, envy, and sadness at our lacks and shortcomings. We will search a person to see his or her human frailties and familiar personal defects and reduce the person only to those.
But is this the way to define Torkom?
Our responsibility is to see the man the way he saw himself. Can we do this? Do we have clues to his true self in his work and life?
In all his communications, if we look carefully, we will see the roadmap that he laid out for us so we could discover who he really was and is. In discovering his truth, we may even discover ours.
He said he was human.
He said don’t follow the teacher but follow the Teaching.
He said he had faults.
He said he saw his faults more often that we did, and often saw them only when his faults had already hurt others.
He also said he loved us all. He said, “Love one another.” He showed us in his lectures and meetings that we are not to think of ourselves as the “only way to fly” but rather see the depth and beauty of the Teaching in its totality.
He said he wanted to sacrifice himself totally to serve the Principles of the Teaching.
He said he wanted to sacrifice himself to the Glory of Hierarchy and Christ.
He wrote poetry and bared his soul to us, telling us how he questioned, how he failed, how he triumphed; he showed us the process of his striving.
He told us how he continuously strove to better himself, from the way he answered telephones and wrote letters to the way he asked questions to Christ.
He asked all the hard questions about himself, his relations to the Teaching, and his relations to humanity; questions that few dare to ask let alone listen when the answers are revealed.
He asked Christ, He asked Buddha, He asked Hiawatha.
And, turning to his own Soul, he heard the answers.
He listened to the bitter pills of the answers from his Soul and he changed his course accordingly, every day of his life.
He said, “Follow the Teaching. The Teaching is perfect. It is given by Great Ones.
“I am just a humble sergeant, doing the work of the Lord.”
Yes, we heard all these words, and still we smiled at him, nodding our heads, and still continued to go to him, to take from him. We went to him hoping he would give us what we wanted. We wanted to fill our hunger by taking, not by giving. And when he gave us what we truly needed, we still went back to our personal questions:
“What shall I eat, Torkom?”
“Where shall I live, Torkom?”
“What oils shall I use, Torkom?”
“How do I speak with my spouse, my child?”
“Can I name my dog Shamballa?”
“Will you pray for my dog, Torkom?”
“Will you hold me in your heart, Torkom, when I am in labor for my child?”
“Will you pray for me, Torkom?”
“Will you protect me, Torkom?”
We asked continuously, even as he approached the end.
But, what did we give?
Then, when he died, we felt hurt.
His life became even more personal. How could he leave us?
We fought with inside and outside “demons” and we went away.
We felt betrayed,
We felt abandoned,
So we fell silent.
Were we mourning for the loss of a Teacher?
Or were we mourning for the loss of someone who fed us,
Someone who brightened our days,
Someone who made us feel full and forget the emptiness inside,
Someone who directed us,
Made us feel important,
Someone who gave us all his time?
We did not give.
We still want to take;
We still do not know that we need to give.
When he died, we felt abandoned.
Who will direct us?
Who will feed us?
Who will teach us?
There are no other teachers;
We do not accept others.
Who will answer our intelligent questions?
“Ask your Solar Angel,” he said.
“My Solar Angel? I thought that was you,”
“No, do not keep asking me.
“Do not keep wanting to take.
“Ask instead, ‘What can I give to the Teaching?’”
Father, Teacher, Mentor, Friend
You showed us by example
that we can only
understand the Teaching when we give.
If we expect to take, when the Teacher dies, we also die.
This is how people leave the Teaching.
Because they were never there to give, but to take from the teacher,
To fill their forever empty lives.
The legacy of Torkom was one of giving,
The legacy of Torkom is not in fulfilling our own personal wishes;
Not in remembering anecdotes,
Although anecdotes are entertaining.
The legacy of Torkom is to live the Teaching.
The Teaching was not for him “fun.”
It was Life.
If we want to continue his true legacy, what can we do?
We can give to the Teaching everything that we can give.
We can listen to the teacher and follow his example.
We can live the Teaching and strive to transform ourselves.
We can stop blaming.
We honor the memory of the teacher by keeping the Truth alive, not by remembering anecdotes. Anecdotes and stories are an insult to a great soul and demean the strength and depth of his service.
How do we honor his legacy?
We leave no stone unturned to discover the Truth.
We do not accept lies,
nor Torkom sightings —
no matter from where they come.
Remember the Teaching, he said. Follow the Teaching. If you follow the Teaching, then you are with me.
In keeping anecdotes alive, we do not honor the teacher. We dishonor him. He was not our anecdote. He was much, much more.
In keeping anecdotes alive, we ignore the true value and worth of his work. We are really trying to escape answering the real question: “Now what? What will I do? What is my responsibility? What is my part in upholding the legacy?”
He said: “I am a man of the Teaching.
If you are not in the Teaching heart and soul, you are not with me.”
By putting the Teaching first in our lives,
By organizing our lives around the Teaching, not vice versa,
By giving our hearts to spread the Teaching,
By doing everything to complete his labor,
By comprehending that it is only in giving that we receive,
It is only in sacrificing that we are truly alive.
This is how we honor our teacher:
We stop blaming. We start taking responsibility.
Our Father, Teacher, Mentor, Friend was not a bag of anecdotes
Designed to entertain and feed us.
He was a tremendous warrior
Who battled daily on all visible and invisible planes,
Who filled the space with his songs,
Who filled hearts with his joys and invincible spirit,
Who filled evil hearts with terror,
Who fulfilled his mission on Earth,
Who honored his Teachers and Mentors,
Who taught us lessons that we did not hear,
Who loved us despite the fact that we did not give, did not see,
Who gave us everything despite the fact that we did not take,
Who forgave us despite the fact that we thought he was entertaining us,
Who was able to detach from all that he built, leaving all behind for us to grow through.
Let us keep Torkom’s legacy alive
By completing his work, not by fulfilling our desires.
Let us see who he really is and was.
Let us read his joys, his sorrows, his life, and dance to his songs.
Let us together give to keep the flame alive.
Let us do our best
So that when we die
And the anecdotes die,
The teacher and the Teaching can live forever in the hearts of the young.
I no longer want to remember only anecdotes, although his smile and his eyes are forever etched in my heart.
I do not want to reduce such a life to a few funny moments.
I want to complete the work begun in this lifetime so that when he returns, he can see that the foundation he built has taken root in the consciousness of humanity.
If you want to share in this labor, I invite all of you to join me in this effort.
Dry your eyes and stop the mourning. The time is quickly passing.
Step up your service a little more.
Make more sacrifices.
Give all that you can,
So that we can truly say we are men and women of the Teaching
And be rightfully with our teacher to the end of time — because we listened to him.
Taking is born from desire.
Giving is the hallmark of the disciple.
Sacrifice is the sign of an Initiate.
In honor of my Father, Teacher, Mentor, Friend.
(Copyright, Gita Saraydarian, 2001)