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IN THE LIGHT OF THEOSOPHY

From The Theosophical Movement
Vol 70. No. 12 - October, 2000

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….The homeland 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 the stars."…

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 the shine:

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 time.


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 of others.

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 will…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 again.

ROGER ROSENBLATT



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