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From The Theosophical Movement
Vol 72. No. 4 - February, 2002

The environmental issue of global warming is proving to be a great moral crisis of our time, argues Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Long Distance. Overindustrialization, increasing vehicular traffic and other human influences on the environment are wreaking havoc on our planet and the air we breathe. Writing in the news magazine In These Times, Mckibben paints a gloomy picture of things to come:

In temperate latitudes, climate change will creep up on us. Severe storms already have grown more frequent and more damaging. The progression of seasons is less steady. Some agriculture is less reliable. Most of us live lives so divorced from the natural world that we hardly notice the changes. By the time the magnitude of the change is truly in our faces, it will be too late to do much about it: There's such a lag time to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that we need to be making the switch to solar and wind and hydrogen power right now to prevent disaster decades away.

So maybe we should think of global warming in a different way-as the great moral crises of our time. Why a moral question? In the first place, no one's ever figured out a more effective way to screw the marginalized and poor of this planet than climate change. Having taken their dignity, their resources, and their freedom under a variety of other schemes, we now are taking the very physical stability on which their already difficult lives depend….

And global warming is a moral crisis, too, if you place any value on the rest of creation. Intricate ecosystems are also spectacularly. All in all, the 21st century seems poised to see extinctions at a rate not observed since the last big asteroid slammed into the planet. But this time the asteroid is us.

It's a moral question, finally, if you think we owe any debt to the future. No generation yet to come will ever forget us-we are the ones present at the moment when the temperature starts to spike, and so far we have not reacted….

You can't really get angry at carbon dioxide, and the people responsible for its production are, well, us. We emit so much more carbon dioxide now than we did a decade ago….There are huge companies with a lot to lose, and many people so tied in to their current ways of life that advocating change smacks of subversion. But this has to become a political issue-and fast. The only way that may happen, short of a hideous drought or monster flood, is if it becomes a personal issue first.

Trying to launch a moral campaign is no easy task. It is the sum total of individual actions that can bring about a shift of habits and change of lifestyle in the collective whole-enough to pressure governments to pass laws that would reduce the levels of carbon dioxide and other lethal gases pouring into our atmosphere.

[All this doom and gloom has yet to be proven, but then the doomsayers have been trying to scare us for the last few centuries. If all else proves wrong, there's always Armageddon. -Estela Carson of BN]

It is rare to find men of science, or those belonging to the medical fraternity, who view science, spirituality and service as the three sides of a triangle. The three merge with one another at the deeper level, says Dr. K. P. Mishra, senior cardiologist at Apollo Hospital, Chennai. He writes in Tattvaloka (December 2001):

Science is an inquiry in the world outside. Spiritualism is an inquiry into the world within. Both are complementary to each other….If we wish to know man in all his dimensions and facets and also if we wish to study the entire world in which we live, science and spirituality have to grow together so that the total knowledge becomes comprehensive and integrated….

Service of mankind is actually, as Mother Teresa says, love in action. There cannot be love without service, nor can anyone serve without love. In fact, service is an appreciation of the unity of creation….

This is the view of modern science also with the GUT theory (Grand Union Theory) wherein the scientists postulate that the entire universe is created and sustained by one form of energy alone. The more we understand this aspect of life, the more we get attracted towards service, because by serving others we are only helping ourselves.

The entire creation is interdependent. Nothing can survive without the help and support of the other parts of creation….This is the law of nature. Every flora and fauna in the world is interdependent for survival on others. The beauty of life is in realizing this and giving abundantly to others.

A society or a nation that takes more than it gives perishes in no time, whereas a society that gives more than it takes flourishes and nourishes others. The story of all civilizations is reflected in this eternal truth….

We have received all our lives many things in many ways, without which we could not be what we are today. Isn't it our duty to pay it back? Therefore, service is not a luxury, a hobby or a fashion but an unavoidable obligation and a sacred duty towards society…. To give is to live and to keep is to die….Service makes us appreciate the unity in creation and the love for fellow human beings.

While books and writing and other works of men often fade away and are no more for subsequent ages, the great symbols do not disappear. Hence "the religious and esoteric history of every nation was embedded in symbols" (The Secret Doctrine, I, 307), and thus preserved for posterity. The science of true symbols and the art of interpreting them is little understood today. Dr. S. A. Sarma is among the few who recognizes the value of ancient symbols. In his book Kena Upanishad he writes:

The science of symbols constitutes a fascinating study in itself. It is by means of this science of symbols that the Unknown becomes the Known, the occult the obvious. Symbols enter into almost every phase of human endeavour and pursuits: in mathematics, mysticism and music, in art and architecture, in the diverse rituals and ceremonials of the esoteric religious systems and their practices, in alchemy and in astrology, in the traditions of esoteric teachings, from the most "primitive" mind's early perceptions to the most modern artistic apperceptions, and in the intricate dialectics, in every field it is this science of symbols that so ensures the satisfactory transmission and appreciation of the essential "intent" of what is thus taught….

A symbol is a visible sign of some thought, emotion, or experience seeking to translate what can really be grasped by the mind and imagination only by something that enters the field of observation. "The Hindu Faith had at its service the language of the utmost delicacy and flexibility with a vigorous and fertile growth and an almost unlimited vocabulary. Thus, it came to be so profuse in type and symbol."

Clear distinction between symbol and sign is essential: symbols are less obvious than mere signs, require convention, are not only abstract, but metaphysical in their content and meaning, and often need explanation for history, religion and customs. They do not depict but suggest subjects, do not speak directly through the eye to the intelligence, but presuppose in the mind the knowledge of any event or fact that they so recall.

H.P.B. defines a symbol as "a embodied idea, combining the conception of the Divine Invisible with the earthly visible." Every object, every event, every being is an embodied idea. Each human mind reading these millions upon millions of embodied ideas interprets them in its own way. Each human mind is an evolving, expanding, unfolding entity; therefore there are superficial interpretations, partial interpretations, false interpretations, as well as profound, complete and true interpretations of all the embodied ideas. According to the bent of the human mind are the milliards of embodied ideas evaluated.

One of the reasons for the misunderstanding of ancient truths enshrined in holy symbols and myths is the rejection of the invisible and with it of the spiritual. The false reasoning that all is matter, and that integration and disintegration of forms of matter is the whole of the process of evolution, has brought about degradation in knowledge and consequent degradation in ordinary life

. ….without the help of symbology (with its seven departments, of which the moderns know nothing) no ancient Scripture can ever be correctly understood. Symbology must be studied from every one of its aspects, for each nation had its own peculiar methods of expression. In short, no Egyptian papyrus, no Indian olla, no Assyrian tile, or Hebrew scroll, should be read and accepted literally. (The Secret Doctrine, I, 305)

Tools from northern China were crafted 1.36 million years ago, making them a solid evidence of people living there at that time, say the researchers. In 1980, more than 3000 stone flakes were discovered in the Nihewan Basin. But only now has accurate dating of the tools been possible. A team led by Rixiang Zhu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing dated them from the pattern of magnetic fields in sediments where they were found. Reversals of the Easth's magnetic field, whose timing is known, are recorded in these patterns. (Nature, Vol. 413, p. 413)

The tools are the oldest so far found in that part of Asia. At this time, says the report, the region suffered periods of drought, which suggests that those who made the tools coped well with the hardships of uncertain climates after emerging from the tropics.

The Chinese are not only one of the oldest nations of our Fifth Race (The Secret Doctrine, II, 364), but going further back the early Chinese are said to have been remnants of the Fourth or Atlantean Race. (II, 603)

Quoting a Master of Wisdom, H.P.B. wrote in the Secret Doctrine in 1888:

"What would you say to our affirmation that the Chinese-I speak of the inland, the true Chinaman, not of the hybrid mixture between the Forth and Fifth Races now occupying the throne, the aborigines who belong in their unallied nationality wholly to the highest and last branch of the Fourth Race-reached their highest civilization when the Fifth had hardly appeared in Asia." And this handful of the inland Chinese are all of a very high stature. Could the ancient MSS. in the Lolo language (that of the aborigines of China) be got at and translated correctly, many a priceless piece of evidence would be found. But they are as rare as their language is unintelligible. (II, 280 fn.)

Failed marriages and broken homes are affecting children in many ways. Studies suggest that children whose parents had divorced are at increased risk for later problems in their own marriages. This may be because their parents' divorce undermines their thoughts and feelings about the permanence of marriage. Children who grow up with divorced parents tend to reach adulthood with a relatively weak commitment to the norm of lifelong marriage, according to study author Dr. Paul Amato of Pennsylvania State University. And, it seems, when their own marriages become troubled, they tend to leave the relationship rather than stick it out.

Overall, divorces are also common among children whose parents had remained married but had a high level of discord in the relationship, the report indicates. It seems that if there is a long period of chronic, overt discord, children learn that divorce is a reasonable solution to an unhappy marriage, and that marriage is an unpredictable relationship. Love and commitment, they come to believe, are often here today and gone tomorrow.

Children constitute that segment of the population least able to protect itself against psychological damage, and the trauma of a broken home can go a long way. In the present state of the fall of ideals in regard to family life, homes are no longer centers from which influences radiate, giving dignity and grace to life, exemplifying marital fidelity and parental protection.

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