Universes appear and disappear in an endless cycle of birth and
death and rebirth. There is no beginning; there is no end. It
is an old idea now getting fresh attention, writes Marcus Chown
in his article "Cycles of Creation." (New Scientist, March
What happened before the big bang? According to two cosmologists,
before the big bang there was another big bang. And, before
that, another. "If we're right," says Neil Turok of the University
of Cambridge, "the big bang is but one in an infinite series
of big bangs stretching back into the eternal past." And into
the eternal future….
If both expanding and re-collapsing universes are permitted,
it's a simple step to imagine the one changing seamlessly into
the other. From the big crunch the Universe would bounce or
rebound in a new big bang and the whole cycle would begin again….
Stars, galaxies and life may therefore have existed in previous
cycles of the Universe. But, if the cycles are all identical,
wouldn't such endless repetition be mind-numbingly dull? Turok
and Steinhardt [of Princeton University] think not, because
random events will change the details each time. You won't get
the same galaxies, planets and people each cycle. "Just because
the cycles repeat does not mean the events in each cycle are
identical," says Turok…. "The laws of physics could change from
cycle to cycle."
Many speculations have been made by present-day investigators
about the age of the Universe and of our own Earth; yet the truth
of the matter has been known to the Orientals for untold thousands
of years. Modern astronomers are invited to check up their own
data with the astronomical and other computations given by Manu
and the ancient Hindu Puranas, which are almost identical with
those taught in Esoteric Philosophy. They are summarized and reproduced
in The Secret Doctrine Vol. II, pages 68-70. As stated
by H.P.B., the ages prior to the farthest date to which documentary
record extends are
"prehistoric" to the naked eye of mater only. To the spiritual
eagle eye of the seer and the prophet of every race, Ariadne's
thread stretches beyond that "historic period" without break
or flaw, surely and steadily, into the very night of time; and
the hand which holds it is too mighty to drop it, or even let
it break. Records exist, although they may be rejected as fanciful
by the profane; though many of them are tacitly accepted by
philosophers and men of great learning, and meet with an unvarying
refusal only from the official and collective body of orthodox
The idea that the universe is a continuous creation bears out
The Secret Doctrine assertion, made way back in 1888, regarding
"the Eternity of the Universe in toto as a boundless plane;
periodically 'the playground of numberless Universes incessantly
manifesting and disappearing.'…"
Recent developments in science have brought about a dramatic
change in our understanding of the cosmic landscape. It is now
realized that the Universe is constantly unfolding. Against this
backdrop, religion seems to be pitted against science, writes
T. K. Datta (The Times of India, June 15):
In fact, it appears that science has made religion intellectually
implausible. Many feel that science rules out the existence
of a personal God. Others think that the theory of evolution
makes the entire idea of divine providence implausible.
Is religion really opposed to science? The answer, perhaps,
lies in how one perceives the relationship between the two….According
to an American theology professor, J. F. Haught, there are four
different ways of describing this relationship. The first way
is the belief that science and religion are fundamentally opposed
to each other….The second way is that of contrast….The third
is the contact approach. It tries to establish meaningful interaction
and dialogue between the two….The fourth way is the confirmation
approach. The advocates of this approach propose that religion
is supportive of the entire scientific enterprise….Science,
no less than religion, is a quest for unified knowledge.
The two divine abstractions, true religion and true science,
Theosophy insists, are and must be one. They are mutually complementary.
The irrational and the irrelevant in religion are of course bound
to be weakened by the impact of the scientific spirit. At the
same time, science is certainly less materialistic today than
it used to be. The dogmatism of a few generations ago, both of
scientists and theologians, is giving way to a more liberal spirit;
and all who are searching earnestly for truth are considered to
be worshippers at the same shrine.
R. Chidambaram's views on "The Culture of the Indian Scientist"
are published in Bhavan's Journal for May 15. An eminent
Indian scientist, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and
Adviser to the Prime Minister, Chidambaram addresses the question:
What makes a great scientist?
The distributed belief in the validity among scientists from
all parts of the world gives rise, in fact, to a kind of Universal
Consciousness, not usually found among the practitioners of
social sciences like economics or politics. The concepts of
the wave-particle duality introduced by Quantum Mechanics and
of the conversion of mass into energy and vice versa by the
Special Theory of Relativity, both introduced in the early part
of the 20th century, had also deep philosophical implications.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna: "Whatever
inspires you as radiantly beautiful and mightily and truly powerful,
recognize it as an aspect of my splendour."
In most scientists, this statement strikes a resonant chord.
For many of them, the stability of Nature's laws, and the manifestation
of these laws in various natural phenomena (many of which are
still not understood), is an expression of God. Beyond that,
religious perceptions (or the absence of them) vary with the
individual and the cultural environment he or she is brought
Einstein once said: "Most people think that it is the intellect
which makes a great scientist. They are wrong, it is the character."
This, of course, does not mean that anyone can do great science.
High intellect is necessary but not sufficient; character is
more important. The definition of character is, however, not
easy. Character means integrity; it means pursuit of excellence
within the individual's limitations, of course; it means perseverance
in the face of adversity; it means commitment to national and
social causes; and it means also a commitment to justice and
A true scientist has to be a Sthithaprajnya. He is an
individual with an open mind, unaffected by personal inclinations.
He accepts results (of experimental observations or theoretical
calculations) as they come, pleasant or unpleasant. He is not
swayed by emotions of elation or disappointment. He stays steadfast
and uncompromising in his search for truth.
What of the scientist's responsibility to society? Cannot scientists
themselves control the purposes to which their discoveries are
put? This is a basic question. The scientist is also a citizen;
his oft-repeated declaration that science is socially and politically
neutral does not absolve him from social responsibility. But the
suggestion is raised only to be dismissed. The scientist may be
a citizen, but he is a powerless citizen. For one thing he has
no qualifications for social interference and management. For
another, if he had them, his fellow-citizens would not allow him
to exercise them. Science does not change human desires or alter
human purposes; it only makes it easier for men to gratify the
desires they already have, to further the purposes that already
seem good to them. Nor, until there is a science of human nature,
will scientists as such be capable of directing these desires
or of dictating these purposes.
Theosophy asserts that there is a science of human nature, which
teaches "the common man" what it is that he has to control, and
how he himself can and should assume responsibility for controlling
the effects of science upon his life.
Four leading thinkers participated in a debate on man's relationship
with nature, co-hosted by Greenpeace and New Scientist.
What is "natural"? Are humans part of nature or have we risen
above it? The debate raises questions about everything from the
ethics of genetic engineering to whether humans can rise above
the evolutionary laws. A summary of what the panelists had to
say is given in New Scientist for April 27. A few excerpts follow:
PATROCK HOLDEN: I have a deep fear of deductionism and the
idea that we can improve on nature with technical fixes without
knowing the consequences. We are part of nature, and with that
relationship should go respect, humility, and above all responsibility.
In the past we've waited for evidence of harm before we've acted.
That is no longer good enough. In making decisions we need to
take into account the role of intuition, emotion influences,
even spiritual influences-things we might not yet understand.
AUBREY MANNING: I've ended up with an absolutist position that
everything is natural….I don't think you can draw the line.
The tragedy of the present imbalance between human numbers and
the demand for resources is that so often human beings are put
in direct conflict with the rest of the natural world. Unless
we can achieve a balance again, we're not going to get anywhere.
We are unique in the sense that we have that ability to be responsible.
That doesn't make us unnatural.
RICHARD DAWKINS: Popular views of nature often regard it as
benign and self-preserving until man comes along with his unnatural
greed and ruins it. But this disagreeable quality of ours is
not new, is not peculiar to us. This doesn't make it good. On
the contrary, it's something to be fought against. All animals
look after their short-term interests. Homo sapiens is the only
species that can rebel against the otherwise universally selfish
Darwinian impulse. We are Earth's last best hope. Our brains
follow their own rules, which can rise above the rules of natural
What is peace? Is it just a situation in which there is no war
between nations? People in general, as also most world leaders
and international organizations, seem to think so; but this is
a negative attitude, writes B. K. Ashima Sachdeva (Purity,
By defining light as the "absence of darkness" or, life as
the "absence of death," we assign greater importance to the
powers of darkness and death, or in the case of peace, to war,
rather than peace….The challenge today is in creating peace,
and not in appreciating peace as a concept. And this cannot
be done if we keep concentrating on destruction.
It's time now to literally construct peace. But, peace is intangible.
Peace is not just a feeling or a state of being. It is not just
something that one would achieve only during long hours of prayers
or meditation. And it is certainly not end-of-war alone. So,
what is it?
Peace is life itself. It is our original religion. It is like
an eternal spring within us….Peace is a natural instinct and
if we wish to construct a peaceful world, then all we've got
to do, is to let it manifest in our lives….
If the mind has been conditioned to think positively and peacefully,
it will have a similar effect on its connections with others.
This explains the tangibility of peace in an individual's life….
To achieve peace, three things have to be borne in mind: that
peace is our natural religion; that all that we do affects those
who surround us; and that to recharge our pure energies, we
need to connect to the Supreme Source.
A life operating on these three laws of peace will tangibly
transform everything to a peaceful state and recreate the one
culture that we all wish to re-establish in the world-that is,
the culture of peace.
Peace is a positive condition of individual and social consciousness
which is conducive to healthy, joyful and progressive activities,
leading to a life which is more and more human and less and less
beastly, and to the establishment of the law of truth and non-violence
as the basis of life.
Peace can come only after a long and intense striving for a total
change, change in our ideas of culture, change of social institutions
and of man himself; in other words, a change from the law of violence
and competition to the law of non-violence and mutual aid. It
is a change necessary for the prevention and solution of conflicts
in future and the establishment of a new creative order where
the good of all not the greatest good of the greatest number will
be the goal.
In the words of Spinoza: "Peace is not an absence of war; it
is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence,
The biblical saying, "Man shall not live by bread alone," might
seem like a hackneyed cliché to some, yet it is profoundly true.
The Dalai Lama's views on love as the foundation of human existence
contain food for thought. (Sunday Times of India, June
The reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness
is simply because our nature cherishes them above all else.
They result from the profound interdependence we all share with
one another. However capable and skilful an individual may be,
left alone, he or she will not survive. However vigorous and
independent one may feel during the most prosperous periods
of life, when one is sick or very young or very old, one must
depend on the support of others.
Interdependence, of course, is a fundamental law of nature.
Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest
insects are social beings which, without any religion, law or
education, survive by mutual co-operation based on an innate
recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level
of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence….
We have to consider what we human beings really are….Since
we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place
all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. Instead,
we should consider our origins and nature to discover what we
require….From the least to the most important event, the affection
and respect of others is vital for our happiness.
I recall meeting scientists in America who said that the rate
of mental illness in their country was quite high-around 12
percent of the population. It became clear during our discussion
that the main cause of depression was not lack of material necessities
but deprivation of others.
I believe that no one is born free from the need for love.
And this demonstrates that-although some modern schools of thought
seek to do so-human beings cannot be defined as solely physical.
No material object, however beautiful or valuable, can make
us feel loved, because our deeper identity and true character
lie in the subjective nature of the mind.
EVERY thought leaves a seed in the mind or manas of the thinker,
no mater how fugitive the thought was. The whole sum of such
small seeds will go to make up a larger seed for thought, and
thus constitute a man of this, that, or the other general character.
Thoughts, then, are highly important, for, as the Buddha said,
we are made up of thought and built of thought; as we think,
so we act and will act, and as we act and think so will we suffer
or rejoice, and the whole world with us.
-W. Q. JUDGE