Our age has been called the transition age and humanity today
is transiting into what might be called a global society. The
nation-state has become one of the major hurdles to human unity,
and in many spheres of life a rapid process of globalization
is in progress.
Wm. Van Dusen Wishard, president of World Trends Research, hails
globalization as "humanity's great experiment" (The
Futurist, October 1999):
The world has embarked on the most ambitious collective experiment
in history: globalization. If it succeeds, humanity may enter
an epoch of opportunity and prosperity for a greater proportion
of the earth's inhabitants than ever before. If it fails, it
could retard progress for generations.
Globalization is the long-term effort to integrate the global
dimensions of life into each nation's economics, politics, and
culture. National development has ceased to be an isolated procedure
and has now become part of a global process.
Economic globalization has inevitably led to political globalization.
Already we see national sovereignty diminishing.
between nations can no longer be founded on respect for sovereignty
- they must be founded on respect for human rights.
globalization entered a new phase with the advent of global TV
and the Internet.
If globalization is going to fulfil its potential, it must be
more than just a technical process. It must be a human process,
a psychological process, a spiritual process, a process of deepening
consciousness and increasing sensitivity to other people and
Globalization is not simply an abstract activity "out there"
somewhere. It makes personal demands on each of us as individuals.
Globalization requires each of us to become a more integrated
personality, for common sense suggests that it takes integrated
personalities to create an integrated world.
In the final analysis, globalization is the result not only of
technological achievement, but also of the quality and harmonization
of human attitudes and perspectives.
Globalization is more than harmonizing the world's separate
economies, governments, and cultures. The process of globalization
may be defined as one whereby the world becomes a single place
in consciousness. There are people all around the world in different
countries who have a sense of one world, a sense of a common
origin and destiny of the human family, of belonging together.
This unity needs to be realized concretely in political and social
structures and in the way people organize life on the planet.
British scientist James Lovelock has for 30 years promoted
the idea that Earth regulates itself as if it were one huge living
organism, not just a collection of millions of relatively independent
life forms. He called this system Gaia, after the earth
goddess of the ancient Greeks.
The idea that the Earth is alive and that organisms act with
a sense of purpose, interacting with one another to maintain
conditions suitable for life, was once dismissed by scientists,
but now even skeptics are taking a second look, writes Oliver
Morton in Discover (October 1999). Some of the ideas flowing
out of Lovelock's thinking have been proven correct, and a growing
number of scientists have decided to centre their work on the
Gaian concepts. Some of them gathered at Oxford for the third
meeting of the Gaia Society, which sponsors this sort of research.
These scientists are searching for insights to prove the Gaian
theory that life and the environment come together to form a
Even among believers [says Morton], there is no real consensus
as to what Gaia is or how it really works.
to think that Earth was in some sense alive, its various cycles
part of a great physiology.
Of all those who objected to the idea, no group was more vehement
than evolutionary biologists. They believe creatures are out
to help themselves and their relatives survive, not to help strangers.
The idea that some creatures waste effort making the world a
better place for others didn't make sense to them.
For the hard core, Gaia is about biology, not earth science or
complex systems. Their battle cry is symbiosis, the many varied
ways that creatures have of coming to depend on one another.
That's something Gaians think traditional evolutionary biologists
don't know how to deal with. William Hamilton, who has done more
than anyone else to understand how genes can, in some circumstances,
make the creatures that bear them nice to one another, disagrees
with that. But he agrees that there seem to be long-term stabilities
in the environment that he and his colleagues may have underplayed.
This intrigues him deeply - and that may help bring Gaia a new
That all forms of life are closely interrelated and go to
form a gigantic whole is no new idea. It was certainly known
to the ancients and it is gratifying to find some present-day
scientists rediscovering this old, old truth. "Let us make
peace with Gaia on her terms," says Lovelock, "and
return to peaceful coexistence with our fellow creatures."
We must recognize that we are "a part of, or partner in,
a very democratic entity," and not the masters of the planet.
We resist this view at our peril, for nature may retaliate.
Startling progress has been made with computers. The computer
age has been characterized as "both the greatest wonder
of technology and our worst nightmare" (Discover,
November 1999). In only a few decades, these often mystifying
machines have transformed our existence, "yet there is something
in most people that does not love a computer. We remain suspicious
of its power and potential."
Recently, Discover magazine, in conjunction with the Disney
Institute, invited a group of outstanding scientists to Orlando,
Florida (U.S.A.), to discuss the issues of the computer age in
a daylong debate. What follows are a few excerpts from their
The real impact of the computer, as with the car and the telephone,
is that it is dramatically changing the way we interact. Automobiles
and phones changed social life. They changed families, dispersing
them throughout the nation. The real impact of computers today
is on the communications network. The computer is the computational
brain behind it. Now, suddenly, we can always be in touch with
each other. That's what the real revolution is about. It's not
about a better keyboard. (Don Norman)
Computers really don't do very much yet except computations.
Computers today don't understand the simplest thing that
even a five-year-old understands pretty well. At some point,
people will figure out how to get computers to understand what
words mean and how they fit together and represent ideas. And
then, suddenly, there will be a new entity that's may be as smart
as you. Then, as many science fiction writers have noticed, if
it can be as smart as a person or smarter, we'll have a new set
of problems. (Marvin Minsky)
On this business of feeling some emotional attachment: There's
a real paradox in society that has nothing to do with technology
We have a culture that has gotten so complex that
most people can't understand it. And people are not comfortable
with what they can't understand. Computers fall into that group.
So there has been an attempt to imbue them with emotional characteristics,
and we've given them some anthropomorphic properties that really
dazzle people, like you can talk to them and people actually
think: It listened to me. (Dean Kamen)
I think we're heading for some altogether new relationship with
technology, which seems to be becoming fundamentally incomprehensible
and fundamentally self-generating. I think our relationship is
going to be more like the one we have with nature. Namely, we
can influence it in certain ways, but we won't be able to really
control it in the way we are used to controlling machines. All
we may be able to do is try to keep the weeds out of the garden.
The subject of "computer intelligence" keeps cropping
up again and again. It is important to understand what thinking
and intelligence are, since there prevail today as many misconceptions
about the concept of mind as of matter. A good "thinking"
machine can remember, classify, choose between alternatives on
the basis of logic and, acting on past experience, can even correct
itself; but the activity of any one machine is strictly limited
to the instructions with which it is fed. In spite of its speed,
precision and infallibility, the most "intelligent"
computer cannot correlate dissociated ideas and events
spread out in time and space, or present an original thought,
or answer an unexpected query. Truly creative thought must forever
remain in the province of the human mind.
Concepts about God are changing along with people's advancing
comprehension of the universe. Is God dead today? Not according
to philosopher Robert Mellert, who suggests that scientific progress
may change humanity's conception of God rather than extinguish
faith (The Futurist, October 1999). The transcendent image
of God as someone "out there" and separate from nature
and man may well be dead, or at least in its last throes, says
Mellert. At the same time most people are loath to embrace atheism.
He offers instead a "reconceptualization of God" that
will be more acceptable to humanity of the future:
As the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead put it, "It
is as true to say that the World is immanent in God as that God
is immanent in the World." Whitehead developed a notion
of the "consequent nature" of God that encompasses
all of reality, every puff of trivial existence. A similar idea
of God and His relation to the world can be found in a grand
synthesis developed by the French Jesuit thinker, Pierre Teilhard
de Chardin, for whom God is all in all, the final cause of reality,
overcoming all evil and drawing all things into his ultimate
This image of God is in some ways similar to the Eastern (especially
Hindu) idea of pantheism, which literally means that God
is all. Every bit of matter and energy is a part of God; every
event is a manifestation of divine Being. God is these things,
not a cause of them and not separate from them.
The Western counterpart of pantheism, as expressed by Whitehead
and Teilhard, for example, can better be called panentheism,
which means that God is all, yet more than all. Like pantheism,
it identifies God with the totality of reality, but it also asserts
that God is more than the sum total of everything. It is based
upon the notion that the whole is actually more than the sum
of its parts, just as a person is more than the sum of his cells
or organs. In other words, the whole (God) is more than the sum
of His parts (all the elements of reality), yet He is made up
of these parts.
I am convinced that this general way of thinking about God will
become more widespread in the future. Pantheism and panentheism
accord with many important themes in contemporary thought.
The presence of God is the force behind change and the unity
of the evolving universe itself.
These are old, old truths finding support today, and they
may become even more acceptable in the future, as Mellert predicts.
The idea of a personal, anthropomorphic God, a God who rewards
or punishes and who can be propitiated, has been the bane of
humanity's soul-progress for centuries. How much more elevating
is the concept of God as "a Universal Divine Principle,
the root of ALL, from which all proceeds, and within which
all shall be absorbed at the end of the great cycle of Being"!
Our DEITY is neither in a paradise, nor in a particular
tree, building, or mountain: it is everywhere, in every atom
of the visible as of the invisible Cosmos, in, over, and around
every invisible atom and divisible molecule; for IT is the mysterious
power of evolution and involution, the omnipresent, omnipotent,
and even omniscient creative potentiality. (H.P.B. in The
Key to Theosophy, p. 64)
India is teeming with astrologers and with people who have
faith in their predictions. The true science of astrology, however,
has long been gone from public knowledge and what passes under
that name today is the degenerate and largely haphazard descendant
of something once rigidly scientific and accurate. It is upon
cyclic law and the "mystic and intimate connection between
the heavenly bodies and mankind" (S.D., II, 500 fn.) that
genuine astrology is built. There is enough evidence for the
view that movements of the planets have a relationship to events
If astrology is a science based on sound principles, then why
do astrological predictions go wrong? asks Kireet Joshi in The
Times of Astrology Annual Issue for 1999. Apart from the
fact that those passing off today as astrologers are often lacking
in scholarship, proficiency, and above all in intuitive power,
Joshi advances various other reasons:
It is not a matter of debate that astrology is basically a
psychological science, or that it deals mainly with psychological
concepts. It is also not debatable that astrology deals with
individuals in their highly complex individualized situations.
It is, therefore, not surprising that applications of general
principles of astrology could be highly misleading if individual
differentiations are not sufficiently understood and appreciated.
Are events so predetermined that they will inexorably occur?
In fact, this is the real issue.
This brings us to the
issue of the nature of events and to the issue of determinism,
predeterminism and free will. If all events happen by chance,
then there is no standing-ground for predictability of events,
and there is no justification for astrology at all. If, on the
other hand, there is an intelligence working in the world, one
can expect design, teleology and even some kind of determinism.
It is only of we can arrive at a sound knowledge of the
nature of determinism, predeterminism and freedom that we can
decide the right criteria for judging the claims of astrology
with regard to its predictions and with regard to certainties
and probabilities of these predictions.
Now it is very well known that Indian astrology assumes the law
According to the scientific theory of Karma,
soul or spirit or spiritual state is superior to Karma, since
Karma is only a machinery and it does not constitute but is constituted
by the soul or the spirit. What is in the chain of Karma is determined,
but the soul in itself is free and there is always a possibility,
in varying degrees, for the soul to intervene freely and change
the determinism of Karma.
Astrology recognizes this basic truth
.It recognizes both
determinism and predeterminism but it admits clearly that the
course of events can be altered by free will.
There is a real and a false use of astrology, and Occult Science
warns of the dangers of the latter and the value of the former.
Are we at the mercy of the planets and the stars, moved hither
and thither without our will? The key to the value of a knowledge
of astrology is the Law of Karma, as rightly pointed out by Kireet
Joshi. We are self-produced beings. "We produce CAUSES,
and these awaken the corresponding powers in the sidereal world;
which powers are magnetically and irresistibly attracted to -
and react upon - those who produced these causes" (S.D.,
I, 124). We do not have to submit passively to the influence
of the stars, nor do we need to try to fight it. We need to use
it. As was written by H.P.B. in her article on "Astrology"
in The Theosophist for June 1884:
All our thoughts and actions thus produce the vibrations in
space, which mould our future career. And astrology is a science
which, having determined the nature of the laws that govern these
vibrations, is able to state precisely a particular or a series
of results, the causes of which have already been produced by
the individual in his previous life. Since the present incarnation
is the child of the previous one, and since there is but that
ONE LIFE which holds together all the planets of the Solar system,
the position of those planets at the time of the birth of an
individual - which event is the aggregate result of the causes
already produced - gives to the true Astrologer the data upon
which to base his predictions. It should be well remembered at
the same time that just as the "astronomer who catalogues
the stars cannot add one atom to the universe," so also
can no astrologer, no more than the planet, influence
the human destiny.
I BELIEVE internal happiness produces health. Not always,
but most of the time. The greatest medicine is to have a positive
outlook. To be satisfied with what one is doing, to trust people.
When you're distrustful and angry, you're setting up an internal
enemy which undermines your body, nullifying all the healthy
effects of diet and exercise.
- BITTU SAHGAL