Man and his natural environment are inextricably interlinked.
We create our environment-for better or for worse. Millions of
tons of toxic pollutants, greenhouse gases, that industry releases
into the atmosphere, are taking their toll. Climate scientists
from around the world have been sounding alarm bells since long.
Now they have come out openly with the warning that humans are
to blame for global warming, and if this continues, it could
lead to disastrous consequences. Their conclusions, comments
New Scientists (January 27), "send a tough message to politicians
who have reached a deadlock in negotiations on how to combat
soaring temperatures and sea levels."
This January, scientists met in Shanghai, China, to discuss
the latest assessment form UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change. In their final text for policy makers, they tersely say,
"Most of the warming is attributable to human activities."
The report cites global melting as powerful evidence that the
world really is warming. Since the 1960s, there has been a 20
per cent decrease in snow cover and a 40 per cent thinning of
the Arctic ice cap. The scientists predict sea level will rise
by between 9 and 88 centimetres by 2100, endangering millions
of people in low-lying areas.
The report also warns that temperatures will rise by between
1.4 and 5.80C in the 21st century, depending on emissions of
We are all guilty. If we want to leave behind us a livable world for
generations to come, action needs to be taken
now and a restraint put on environmental pollution
caused by overindustrialization and other human
Scientists have found life in the unlikeliest of
places-in clouds. Birgit Sattler, a limnologist
at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, has discovered
bacteria that are not just surviving but thriving
in thick cloud formations. (Discover, March 2001)
Sattler identified the bacteria after examining cloud samples
collected and frozen onto Teflon plates set up on the top of
Mount Sonnblick, near Salzburg, Austria. Even at subfreezing
temperatures, the bacteria could take up radioactively tagged
amino acids and DNA bases. This indicates the microbes were still
growing and reproducing.
The bacteria could in influence climate by acting as nuclei
around which rain droplets form. In addition, Sattler says, finding
bacteria in clouds suggests that life could exist in similarly
extreme surroundings on other planets. "Why not? I've done
research in glaciers, Antarctic lakes, and in Alpine ice, but
this is the most extreme habitat in which I've found bacteria,"
she says. "If anything happens to Earth, bacteria will survive."
This is another proof, if proof be needed, that microbes, bacteria,
and the tutti quanti of the infinitesimally small
exist everywhere in the universe. These lives,
though invisible to us by virtue of their minuteness,
have always surrounded us and have worked on,
obedient to their own laws, and it is only as
they are gradually being revealed that scientists
have begun to take congnizance of them, as of
the effects produced by them.
Who are the Druses? The origins of this small community,
evolved in 11th-century Cairo, and spread across
West Asia, still remain shrouded in mystery. Members
of the community were in India recently "to
trace their Indian connections." Shelikh Hussein
Aburukn, leader of the delegation and member of
the Supreme Board of Religious Affairs of the Druse,
said: "We have a close relationship with Sanskrit
because we believe that Druse culture and religion
have some of their roots in ancient India. We're
here to trace as much of that past as possible."
Piali Banerjee writes in The Sunday Times of India
Spread across Syria, Lebanon Israel and Jordan, the Druse
faith incorporates Gnostic and Neo-Platonic tenets. Druse history
claims that the connection between Druse and Vedic culture goes
back to the time of Al-Hakim. "At the time of establishing
the Druse movement, A1-Hakim had several discussions with religious
leaders around the world. He exchanged a number of ideas with
Indian religious leaders who had been invited for the discussions,"
explains Hussein Aburukn. "He even exchanged religious texts.
So much so that two of our books have actually been translated
from the original Sanskrit to Arabic. One of them is A1 Mon Frad
Pedateh (One Without a Second), which talks about one Supreme
Lord. The other book has a whole section on Ayurveda, where some
of the words and phrases have been retained in Sanskrit since
they didn't have Arabic equivalents."
Besides Ayurveda and Sanskrit, the main evidence of connection
between Druse and Hindu thought is the belief in the reincarnation
of the soul. Both cultures believe in it strongly.
The Druses claim that their religion had "existed since
the beginning of the world in the hearts and minds of saint"-an
interesting claim in the light of H.P.B.'s calling it "one
of the last survivals of the archaic Wisdom-Religion." In
her article "Lamas and Druses," originally published
in The Theosophist for June 1881, she says how difficult it is
to fathom "the secret of the profoundly mystical beliefs
of the Druses":
To begin with: A1-Hakim is not the founder of
their sect. Their ritual and dogmas were never
made known, but to those who have been admitted
into their brotherhood. Their origin is next to
unknown. As to their external religion, or rather
what has transpired of it, that can be told in
a few words. The Druses are believed to be mixture
of Kurds, Mardi-Arabs, and other semi-civilized
tribes. We humbly maintain that they are the descendants
of, and a mixture of, mystics of all nations-mystics,
who, in the face of cruel and unrelenting persecution
by the orthodox Christian Church and orthodox
Islamism, have ever since the first centuries
of the Mohammedan propaganda, been gathered together,
and who gradually made a permanent settlement
in the fastnesses of Syria and Mount Lebanon,
where they had from the first found refuge. Since
then they have preserved the strictest upon their
beliefs and truly occult rites
the Sikhs of Asia Minor, and their policy offers
many points of similarity with the late "commonwealth"
of the followers of Guru Nanak-even extending
to their mysticism and indomitable bravery. But
the two are still more closely related to a third
and still more mysterious community of religionists,
of which nothing, or next to nothing, is known
by outsiders: we mean the fraternity of Tibetan
Lamaists, known as the Brotherhood of Khelang,
who mix but little with the rest.
Human have long marvelled at the ease with which
birds manoeuvre through the air, in some cases covering
enormous distances during seasonal migrations. To
unravel the mystery of how birds exert mastery over
the air, scientists have studied their uniquely
sculpted bodies and complex wing movements.
Dwight G. Smith, professor and chairman of the biology department
at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, U.S.A.,
writes in The World and I (March 2001):
Wings alone are insufficient for flight. The entire body must
be appropriately sculpted to achieve maximum strength and lightness.
In birds, these features govern the structures and functions
of the feathers, skeleton, muscles, and internal systems
Exactly how flight originated continues to be controversial.
Of the many theories advanced, the two most plausible are labeled
"from the ground up" and "from the trees down."
John Ostrom of Yale University is a leading proponent of the
theory that ancestral birds learned to fly from the ground up
scientists, however, believe that the ancestors of birds learned
to fly by climbing into treetops and gliding from tree to tree
or from trees to the ground, gradually transitioning from gliding
to true flight.
In The Theosophist for August 1882, a correspondent asks whether
the flight of birds and the swimming of fishes is produced at
will, as in the case of the Yogis who can levitate themselves
or walk upon the surface of the water. To this H.P.B. remarks:
Occult science explains the mysteries of bird-flying and fish-swimming
on principles entirely opposed to the accepted scientific theory
of the day
. "If," writes our correspondent, "we
take the position that birds have the power to make themselves
light or heavy at will, the phenomenon of their flight becomes
easy to comprehend."
And why not take up such a position? Whether
by instinct or will, whether an effect identical
with another is produced consciously or unconsciously,
by animal or man, the cause underlying that invariable
and identical result must be one and the same,
barring diversity of conditions and exceptions
as to unimportant details
.There must be
something more than blind instinct or conscious
volition. What is it? Occult science tells us
the word: it is "a change of polarity and
of normal gravity," not yet admissible by
science. With birds and animals-as instinctive
a mechanical action as any other they execute;
with man, when he thus defies the familiar conditions
of gravity, it is something he can acquire, in
his training as a Yogi. Though the former act
unconsciously, and he changes his polarity at
will, the same cause is made operative, and both
produce and identical effect. There are certainly
alternating changes of polarity going on in the
bird while ascending or dropping, and a maintenance
of the same polarity while sailing at any given
Doctors have joined psychologists in making people
aware of the benefits of optimism. Researchers have
documented health risks incurred by a negative outlook,
and benefits conferred by a positive one. A fast-growing
body of studies-104 so far-is proving that optimism
can help people be happier, healthier and more successful.
Claire Safran outlines what researchers are saying
today (Mira, February 2001):
Pessimism leads to hopelessness, sickness and failure, and
is linked to depression, loneliness and painful shyness. "If
we could teach people to think more positively," says psychologist
Craig A. Anderson of Rice University in Houston, "it would
be like inoculating them against these mental ills."
"Your abilities count," explains psychologist Michael
F. Scheier of Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, "but
the belief that you can succeed affects whether or not you will."
In part, that's because optimists and pessimists deal with the
same challenges and disappointments in very different ways
"If people feel hopeless," says Anderson, "they
don't bother to acquire the skills they need to succeed."
A sense of control, according to Anderson, is the litmus test
for success. The optimist feels in control of his own life. If
things are going badly, he acts quickly, looking for solutions,
forming a new plan of action, and reaching out for advice. The
pessimist feels like fate's plaything and moves slowly. He doesn't
seek advice, since he assumes nothing can be done
Many studies suggest that the pessimist's feeling of helplessness
undermines the body's natural defences, the immune system. Dr.
Christopher Peterson of the University of Michigan has found
that the pessimist doesn't take good care of himself. Feeling
passive and unable to dodge life's blows, he expects ill health
and other misfortunes, no matter what he does
Positive thinking leads to positive action- and reaction.
What you expect from the world, the evidence suggests, is what
you are likely to get.
Indeed, we are what we think. To a great extent,
what we expect is what we get. Pessimism might
seem a hard habit to break, but the dynamic power
of thought and will can overcome all obstacles.
Isis Unveiled provided several instances of the
skill of the ancients in various arts and sciences,
among them surgery. instances of the skill of the
ancients in various arts and sciences, among them
surgery. Modern discoveries amply bear this out.
A recently discovered 3000-year-old female mummy
from an Egyptian necropolis at Thebes-West has a
well-shaped artificial big toe, consisting of three
pieces of carved wood fitted onto her foot with
leather straps. This is considered to be the world's
oldest known prosthesis. Skin regrew where the toe
was amputated, proving that the surgery was a success.
X-rays and CT scans of the mummy revealed that the
actual toe had been surgically removed. (Discover,
Truly, "modern science has little or no reason to boast of originality,"
as H.P.B. said in Isis Unveiled.
Misunderstanding and dead-letter interpretation
of religious terms and concepts has caused much
mischief in the world. Jihad is one such term which
is commonly understood by Muslims to mean "religious
Holy War against unbelievers in the mission of Allah
and his Prophet Muhammad." In The Times of
India (March 27), Sujata Ashwarya Cheema explains
the true meaning of jihad:
In the literal sense of the term, jihad means "an effort
.Al-Jihad al-Akbar or "the greater
warfare" is against one's own demons
of jihad in this sense is subjective and has moral implications.
It involves a way of life in which fleeting temptations have
no place. Individuals become discerning subjects who comprehend
that worldly temptations are ephemeral and have to be fought.
It is also the ability to suffer virtuously the afflictions caused
by the foe by following the commandments of Allah and to preach,
through education, art and literature, the precepts of Islam,
the religion of Allah
An Islamic scholar, Syed Qutb, observes: "Those
who state that Islamic jihad was mainly for the
defence of the 'homeland of Islam' diminish the
greatness of the Islamic way of life and consider
it less important than their 'homeland'. The jihad
of Islam is to secure complete freedom for every
man throughout the world by releasing him from
.so that he may serve God."
has become a casual term for all acts of violence
perpetrated by an Islamic group, individual or
regime. Such groups and individuals need to be
reminded about the "Greater jihad,"
only through which all the people on earth can