|Certain observations regarding stars and galaxies
have led scientists to take a fresh look at Gravity—the
most mysterious and pervasive power in the universe.
Scientists were forced to conclude that Newton's
laws work fine on our earth and solar system but
not beyond. It has been observed that four spacecrafts—Pioneer
10, Pioneer 11, Galileo and Ulysses—as they
pulled away from the sun, slowed down much faster
than expected, covering significantly less space
than they should have (Discover, October 2003).
In other words, these spacecrafts seemed to be pulled
back to the sun by an unknown force. The effect
shows no sign of getting weaker as the spacecrafts
travel deeper into space. Such behaviour seems to
violate Newton's laws of gravitation, which posit
that as the distance from the sun increases, the
gravitational pull must decrease. What could be
the unknown force slowing them down?
Another anomaly has been observed regarding the
movement of galaxies. Since gravitational force
at a distance is less, objects at a distance must
move slowly as per Newton's second law of motion.
However, observations have shown that stars and
gas clouds moving around the centre of a galaxy
continue to move fast (at speeds higher than expected
as per Newton's laws) even when their distance
from the galactic centre increases. Anything that
has a mass exerts the force that we call gravity.
Since the mass concentrated at the centre of the
galaxy cannot account for such high gravitational
pull and resulting speed, scientists are forced
to assume the existence of an immense amount of
invisible, mystery matter, called "dark matter,"
in and around the galaxies, exerting gravitational
pull and raising their speed. While an overwhelming
majority of astronomers accepts the existence
of dark matter, a few suggest modification of
Milgrom, a physicist at the Weizmann Institute
of Science in Rehovot, Israel, feels that there
is something wrong with our understanding of gravity.
He argues that perhaps different rules apply to
movements of galaxies. He finds it unnecessary
to assume the existence of "dark matter,"
but seeks to explain the mechanics of galaxies
by postulating a theory called Modified Newtonian
Dynamics (MOND). He explains that gravity accelerates
things, i.e., increases speed. When we jump off
a cliff, we are pulled down by earth's gravity
at an ever increasing speed—a speed that
increases every second at a rate of 32 feet per
second. However, this "speed increase"
or acceleration observed in the movement of our
sun and other stars towards the centre of the
Milky Way galaxy is very nominal—just one
10-billionth the acceleration we feel from gravity
on Earth. He proposed that Newton's laws might
change at such low accelerations.
Scientists may be forced to modify Newton's laws—as
has happened in the past—in case they are
unable to prove the existence of "dark matter."
Theosophy explains that gravitation is half the
law, the other half is levitation. Mme. Blavatsky
Astronomers who see in gravitation an easy-going
solution for many things, and an universal force
which allows them to calculate thereby planetary
motions, care little about the Cause of Attraction.
They call Gravity a law, a cause in itself.
We call the forces acting under that name effects,
and very secondary effects, too. One day it
will be found that the scientific hypothesis
does not answer after all; and then it will
follow the corpuscular theory of light and be
consigned to rest for many scientific aeons
in the archives of all exploded speculations.
Has not Newton himself expressed grave doubts
about the Nature of Force and the corporeality
of the "Agents," as they were then
called? So has Cuvier, another scientific light
shining in the night of research. He warns his
readers...about the doubtful nature of the so-called
Forces, saying that "it is not so sure
whether those agents were not Spiritual Powers
after all." (S.D., I, 490)
Spiritual freedom is detachment
from the ego and its fears, anxieties and desires.
Awareness is the first step towards achieving
such freedom. Andrew Cohen suggests that making
a conscious effort to be aware of all that we
do, constitutes one kind of awareness. But as
we learn to surrender more and more to our desire
for freedom, we will begin to discover a more
mysterious awareness, i.e., the awareness of the
true Self. We can never hope to understand the
profound mystery of our own Self only with the
The true, spiritual conscience, is experienced
as caring. And this caring is painful—a
painful emotional experience—but it's
this caring that finally liberates us, slowly
but surely, from the attachment to the ego and
its endless fears and desires.
It is the emergence of this conscience that
gives us the energy, strength and inspiration
to give ourselves to the most important task
that there is. So if we want to be free, it's
very important to ask ourselves: How much do
The degree to which we are able to liberate
ourselves from self-concern will be the degree
to which we are able to recognize that our true
nature as human beings is love.
The nature of this love is not personal....Love
is literally liberated from the depths of our
own being and just emerges of its own accord.
Anybody can know this miracle if they really
want to. (The Times of India, September 19)
The Voice of the Silence describes Self-knowledge
as the child of loving deeds. Mr. Crosbies says,
"Knowledge of the Self is beyond relativity;
relativity cannot be known by relativity, but
only by that which is beyond all relativity. 'To
blend thy Mind and Soul' is to make the Mind subservient
to the purposes of Soul, an instrument for use,
not a cage of relativities in which to imprison
ourselves." (The Friendly Philosopher, p.
Every night we surrender to
the mysterious power of sleep. Why? Unlike eating
and breathing, the real function of sleep still
eludes science. However, "the reasons that
we sleep are becoming less enigmatic," writes
Jerome M. Siegel, professor of psychiatry and
a member of the Brain Research Institute at the
University of California at Los Angeles Medical
Center (Scientific American, November 2003). It
has been found that lack of sleep gives rise to
a rare brain disease called fatal familial insomnia,
gradually leading to death. Studies have shown
that bigger animals need less sleep, while smaller
animals like voles, rats and cats spend most of
their time sleeping. Smaller animals have higher
metabolic rates than larger animals, and high
metabolic rates generate "free radicals"—extremely
reactive chemicals that damage or even kill cells.
It is believed that reduced temperature and metabolic
rate during quiet sleep or dreamless sleep, known
as "non-REM sleep," may give these damaged
brain cells a chance to repair themselves.
The cell-repair hypothesis, it is claimed, explains
the function of non-REM or dreamless sleep. But
what could be the significance of REM sleep? REM
(Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is marked by most vivid
dreams, wherein, brain cells are as active as
during the waking state. The function of REM sleep
remains largely a riddle for scientists.
However, experiments with sleeping subjects have
revealed that REM sleep helps learning and mood
regulation during waking hours. Moreover, it is
said to equip the brain to cope with waking experiences.
Michel Jouvet, the pioneering sleep researcher,
believes that REM sleep helps to establish the
genetically programmed neuronal connections that
make so-called instinctive behaviour possible.
Brain researchers hope to acquire, in future,
a more comprehensive and satisfying understanding
regarding sleep and its functions.
In Transactions, Mme. Blavatsky explains that
just before going to sleep, we are too strongly
saturated with Life, and we must "seek relief
in the shadowy side of that essence, which side
is the dream element, or physical sleep, one of
the states of consciousness." Thus:
[The process of going to sleep] is said by
Occultism to be the periodical and regulated
exhaustion of the nervous centres, and especially
of the sensory ganglia of the brain, which refuse
to act any longer on this plane, and if they
would not become unfit for work, are compelled
to recuperate their strength on another plane
or Upadhi. First comes the Svapna, or dreaming
state, and this leads to that of Shushupti [dreamless
sleep]. Now it must be remembered that our senses
are all dual, and act according to the plane
of consciousness on which the thinking entity
energises. Physical sleep affords the greatest
facility for its action on the various planes;
at the same time it is a necessity, in order
that the senses may recuperate and obtain a
new lease of life for the Jagrata, or waking
state, from the Svapana and Shushupti....Sleep
is the shady nook in the sunlit valley of life.
Can religion improve health?
It may be a moot question for medical schools,
but patients are beginning to have more faith
in religion and prayers than in medicine. It is
well known that a person's mental state has bearing
on his health. Medical establishments are seeking
effective ways of combining patients' spiritual
beliefs with high-tech treatment. Millions of
dollars are being spent to support projects that
aim to explore the nature of God or "mind-body"
relationship. "There's been a tremendous
shift in the medical profession's openness to
this topic," says Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neurologist
at the University of Pennsylvania who is studying
the biological effects of meditation and prayer
on the brain. (Newsweek, November 17)
What is the role of prayers? Although prayers
are a source of comfort to patients and their
family members, prayer studies have not shown
any clear effects. An experiment conducted with
750 patients undergoing angioplasty or heart catheterization,
revealed that the group of patients, who were
prayed for, did not fare better than those, who
were not. How do you measure the power of prayer?
"Studies prompt questions that no one will
ever be able to answer: Can one extra prayer mean
the difference between life and death? Can prayer
be dosed, the way medicines are? Does harder praying
mean better treatment by God?"
Studies have shown that religious beliefs can
interfere with the recovery. In an experiment
conducted with 600 patients—with diseases
ranging from gastrointestinal disorders to cancer—it
was found that those who thought that God was
punishing or abandoning them, were up to 30 per
cent more likely to die over the next two years.
Thus, the role and place of religion in healing
remains controversial, concludes Newsweek.
"The influence of mind over the body is
so powerful that it has effected miracles at all
ages," observes Mme. Blavatsky. She attributes
many cures to faith and the will of the patients.
Healing, to deserve the name, requires either
faith in the patient, or robust health united
with a strong will, in the operator. With expectancy
supplemented by faith, one can cure himself
of almost any morbific conditionŠ.In thousands
of instances, the doctor, the priest, or the
relic has had credit for healings that were
solely and simply due to the patient¹s
unconscious will. (Isis Unveiled, I, 216)
Mr. Judge mentions in Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita
(pp. 139-40), that prayers recited by millions
of people, asking various favours—to stop
the earthquake or end the dryness—go unanswered.
It is "perfectly impossible" to prove
the efficacy of such prayers. He observes that
when prayers are offered to an unseen and unknown
God, the faith of the person is not firm, whereas
for an idol-worshipper, the presence of the image
is an aid to constancy in faith. "All this
applies of course to prayers for personal and
selfish ends. But that prayer or aspiration which
is for spiritual light and wisdom is the highest
of all, no matter to whom or what addressed."