New Perspectives Quarterly in its Winter 2000 issue presents
several contributors' viewpoints on the emergence of the "global
mind." The idea has gained momentum with advances in telecommunications,
in particular the explosion of the Internet in the last five
years. "As the realm of the global mind grows," writes
Editor Nathan Gardels, "it will necessarily encroach on
all enclosed spaces-political, national, ethnic, linguistic and
psychological." The emergent global civil society is our
only hope to avert the risk of isolation and failure.
One of the contributors, Peter Sloterdijk, a German writer
and philosopher, writes that it is time to move "from agrarian
patriotism to the global self':
A globalized world announces the end of a sedentarism; and,
with it, concept of a homeland
.It is precisely this difference
between interior and exterior worlds bounded by place which is
today washed away by the effects of globalization
as a space of the good life is increasingly less easy to find
where, by accident of birth, each one is. In this century, therefore,
the homeland will be permanently reinvented, no matter where
one is, through the art of knowing how to live and through intelligent
alliances with others pursuing the same idea of happiness.
David Ronfeldt and John Arquilla present an innovative approach:
The world first evolved a geosphere and text a biosphere.
Now that people are communicating on a global scale, the world
is giving rise to a noosphere-a globe-spanning realm of "the
mind." Before long, a synthesis will occur in which peoples
of different nations, races and cultures will develop consciousness
and mental activity that are planetary in scope, without losing
their personal identities.
Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa and recipient
of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, refers to the eradication of
inequalities and large-scale poverty, still besetting too many
parts of the globe, as the challenge of the century:
Together, we all live in a global neighbourhood and it is
not to the long-term benefit of any that there are islands of
wealth in a sea of poverty. We need a globalization of responsibility
as well. Above all, that is the challenge of the century.
These are welcome trends. The growing awareness of the "global
self," of our responsibility for fellow human beings, in
whichever part of the world they be, subserves one of the main
objects for the promotion of which the Theosophical Movement
was launched into the public world way back in 1875. "Each
shall live for all and all for each" is a fundamental Theosophical
principle. Says H.P.B.:
In the present state of society, especially in so-called civilized
countries, we are continually brought face to face with the fact
that large numbers of people are suffering from misery, poverty
and disease. Their physical condition is wretched, and their
mental and spiritual faculties are often almost dormant. On the
other hand, many persons at the opposite end of the social scale
are leading lives of careless indifference, material luxury,
and selfish indulgence. Neither of these forms of existence is
mere chance. Both are the effects of the conditions which surround
those who are subject to them, and the neglect of social duty
on the one side is most closely connected with the stunted and
arrested development on the other. In sociology, as in all branches
of true science, the law of universal causation holds good. But
this causation necessarily implies, as its logical outcome, that
human solidarity on which Theosophy so strongly insists. (The
Key to Theosophy, pp. 232-32)
In today's world, especially in the so-called "civilized"
nations, living together before marriage has gained ground. It
is argued that such cohabitation is good preparation for "the
real thing." However, several studies conducted in the past
decade have found that couples who live together first are more
likely to separate or divorce than those who wait until they
are married to cohabit. (The Times of India, August 10)
The latest in the spate of studies is the one directed by
Catherine Cohan, an assistant professor of human development
at the Pennsylvania State University. She and her colleagues
found that couples who lived together for as little as one month
before marrying, actually displayed poorer communication and
problem-solving skills than those who did not. Cohan believes
that the reasons for the couples' negative behaviour might lie
in differing levels of commitment that ultimately erode the quality
of the union. In other words, cohabitation allows some people
to remain relatively uncommitted and enables them to size up
other people as potential mates.
In our cycle, marriage has come to be looked upon as a mere
secular institution and the dignity and sacredness of the home
have been lowered. To the fall of ideals in regard to the home
and the marriage tie, must be attributed, as to a mother-cause,
the majority of the fast-growing psychological disorders of our
modern age. Where else can we look for the breeding-ground of
divorces, juvenile delinquency, degraded sex-life and the innumerable
types of adult mental disorders in countries with the so-called
"high standard of living"?
While the economic and civic aspects of marriage are widely
discussed, the spiritual aspect, which is the highest, is hardly
considered today. In the absence of true knowledge and soulful
idealism, sex has come to be looked upon, spoken about, and debased
in a way that makes man lower than the beasts. In The Key
to Theosophy, under the caption "Theosophy and Marriage,"
H.P.B. stated: "
.save in few exceptional cases
of practical Occultism, marriage is the only remedy against immorality."
F. W. Champion of the Forest Service of India was an early
advocate of wildlife conservation. His book, The Jungle in
sunlight and Shadow, has been reprinted recently by Natraj
Publishers, Dehradun. Excerpts from the book are reproduced in
WWF India Newsletter for June 2000.
Every living creature, writes Champion, has some definite
place on this earth. The interrelationship between animal and
animal, or the "balance of nature," is the guiding
principle on which the whole scheme of life is built up. The
numbers of each species of animal must be kept within reasonable
limits, and Nature does this by limiting the food supply, by
providing most animals with others which prey upon them, by variations
in the rate of breeding, etc. The great carnivores and creatures
like the cobra, the scorpion and the mosquito may be dreaded
by humans, but these and myriads of other creatures are also
fellow-inhabitants of this earth along with man, and all serve
a useful purpose.
Thus, for instance, the chief food of cobras is rats, who
destroy enormous quantities of cereal, spread dreaded diseases
like plague, and are really far more serious enemies of man than
cobras. In other words, the cobra's place in the balance of nature
is to act as a check on the undue increase in rats. Likewise
the scorpion preys upon certain types of insects whose numbers
might otherwise become excessive. Nature has her own ways of
dealing with excessive numbers of any particular species. The
leopard feeds on deer and wild pigs, which if allowed to breed
without check would become a serious threat to the vegetable
and cereal food supply of man and other creatures. And so with
other carnivores; nature arranges a balance between them and
the ungulates, which works in an astonishingly efficient manner.
Only the short-sighted cannot see this.
We need to increase our knowledge of the purpose served by
the infinite variety of flora and fauna that inhabit the earth,
instead of dividing them into watertight compartments that we
label "useful" and "harmful." There is not
a creature but can serve some useful purpose.
A number of studies show that optimists do better in life
than pessimists. One's outlook can make a startling difference
between happiness and health on the one hand, and discontent
and stress on the other. Niti Paul Mehta writes about the merits
of optimism in The Times of India (July 22):
In some persons it is inborn trait. They are tuned that way
by nature and temperament. But in most cases it is an acquired
or a carefully cultivated and nurtured habit.
So we find that some people always look at the bright side
of things, while there are some others who always see the bad,
dark side of things. To an optimist every cloud has a silver
lining. A pessimist, on the other hand, misses the silver lining
and sees only the cloud. Frederick Langbridge sums it up: "Two
men look out through the same bars: One sees the mud, and one
If you destroy "hope," you destroy the "future."
Hope strengthens our will to survive calamities, so that we never
give way to despair. It helps us count our blessings, and hope
persistently goads us to "go on." It is rightly said
that "an optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity;
a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity."
Even when we fall, should not forget that we have to get up
and fight, for, no failure is final. Of course, we have to be
practical enough to be realistic in our evaluation. "Perhaps
you cannot be a star," wrote J. C. Mitchell, "but you
need not be a cloud, either." "Keep your face to the
sunshine and you cannot see the shadow," said Helen Keller
Unlike the pessimist who gives up when he finds one door locked,
the optimist believes in looking for other doors which are wide
open. Instead of giving way to despair, he tries to find alternatives
.Because of a positive frame of mind, an optimist is never
without solace and never without solace and never suffers from
poverty of the spirit.
Positive thinking plays a powerful role in our lives. It is
crucial, however, not to allow optimism to be converted into
wishful thinking; that is a setup for disappointment.
Mr. Judge suggests a remedy for coming out of the shadow into
There are valleys in which the greatest shadows are due to
old lives in other bodies, and yet the intensity of universal
love and of aspiration will dissipate those in an instant of
Ongoing international studies on the paranormal suggest that
ghosts, apparitions, specters-by whatever name one chooses to
call them-are not just old wives' tales. "In fact, the subject
is almost becoming a science, with increasing number of psychologists
and psychoanalysts acknowledging the paranormal in a big way,"
reports Sunday Mid-day (August 13):
Ghost-hunting societies and research bodies can be found all
over, from Melbourne to Chicago, Toronto to New Jersey, and Japan
to Sussex. They all claim to conduct investigations in haunted
locations with the latest technology at their disposal. Some
offer impartial accounts, with plausible explanations; others,
thrilling, implausible expose. And then there are those unclear,
in-between and undefinable.
Innumerable sites on the Net provide personal experiences,
audio, video and photographic evidences sent by people and organizations
about ghosts. Some are surely doctored, some part true and others
make us wonder
Why do so many people believe in ghosts? Is there a psychological
need to explain the unexplained? Or something actually exists?
As happens in most cases, the apparitions seen are of suicides,
or those who died a violent death by accident or at the hands
In Isis Unveiled (I, 69), H.P.B. refers to well-attested
apparitions of "unrestful 'souls,' hovering about the spots
where they were murdered, or coming back for some other mysterious
reasons of their own." She reprints the account of a haunted
house and says that what was sighted "was doubtless a genuine
elementary apparition, which made itself visible of its own free
for aught we can tell it might have been the real personal
umbra of the 'spirit,' persecuted and earth-bound, either by
its own remorse and crimes or those of another person or spirit."
Sceptics seeking "laboratory studies" still scoff,
while proofs accumulate of the existence of an inner, unseen
realm as also an invisible astral body of man. Eastern Psychology
and Theosophy present the explanation, but they cannot give ears
to those who will not hear, or force those who prefer to remain
blind to see. It needs, however, to be stressed that many difficulties
of modern science would be solved if the existence of the astral
body becomes an established fact. It is a veritable missing link
of modern science.
THE real difficulty with sustaining a useful connection with
nature, though, comes from the fact that nature does not seek
to make a connection with us. It is a hard truth to swallow,
but nature does not care if we live or die. We cannot survive
without the oceans, for example, but they can do just fine without
us. One might surmise that the natural world exists to test our
capacity to care or to preserve ourselves, but even that little
fancy is man-made. Nature goes its own way, headless and heartless,
and one either responds to it or does not. The incentive to do
one or the other is wholly self-generated: information is gathered,
proposals are put forward, solutions are devised, Earth Days
come and go.
All the while, nature in its monumental autonomy throws us
back upon ourselves-not merely our inventive but our moral selves.
Humans are the only species able to go everywhere in the world,
which also means that we have the capacity to do good or ill
everywhere. The hardest case to make for acting on an environmental
conscience is that it is the right thing to do. Yet, in the end,
it may be the only case worth making. If we do not respect nature,
we do not respect ourselves. We tend to forget that, except at
those moments when the story of who we are and where we come
from rises into our life like a field of wheat and tells itself