THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 5, March, 1932
(Pages 222-226; Size: 15K)
(Number 3 of a 57-part series)
STUDIES IN KARMA
SUFFERING OF ANIMALS
IN the Orient, and in the extremist vegetarian school of the West, the mere taking of animal life is regarded as a sin. But, spirituality, said both H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, is not a matter of eating or abstaining from meat at all; there is a stage when this is necessary, but only for those entering the cycle of practical occultism, for which not one in millions in the West of today is ready, or anything resembling it; those Theosophists who think they are, least of all. Thus it is obvious that to the Teachers the mere killing of animals was no sin at all. In fact how could it be? To kill a man means, in the best of cases, an unnatural sojourn in the afterdeath states, a dislocation of the flow of cause and effect, the disruption of many lives, a tangling of Karma all along the line. For it is illusion to suppose that Karma is a law that ever of itself guides or protects; it merely adjusts equilibrium after the event, putting of itself no bounds to sin or calamity. It is the will of Man and Those who have been men that has to guide and protect.
The animal has no anticipation of suffering; if decently killed he has no suffering. Dead, there is almost immediate rebirth -- not as the same individual animal, but as constituents of other animals, perhaps; the "individuality" is external and not internal; hierarchal and not self-conscious. To torture an animal is another matter.
Let us look at the seeming injustice, which seems at first sight inexplicable. For if the animal is not an individual at all, then as an individual it could have done nothing in this life to warrant the suffering, which appears most obviously individual. A blow falls upon the hide of one certain beast; not upon some other or upon all others.
Let us put two and two together. We have been taught often enough that our mission is to "raise up the whole mass of matter to the state of self-conscious beings." We have repeatedly been told that the animals are our "cast-off clothing." We have been informed that we originally created them unconsciously for ages; moreover that some of the creation was not so very unconscious or so good in effect. We have also been told that all matter being alive, possessing the living characteristics of memory, will and sensation, gives the reason why the matter in our bodies responds to conscious will. This carries the inevitable corollary that no matter in contact with us but must carry away with it something of the influence of the general average state of our own feelings while we ruled it.
Water cannot rise above its source; the great differences in the responsive and emotional capacity of matter as seen in nature show that it has evolved in various degrees; the inevitable conclusion under the doctrines is that the impact of intelligence must have caused the degrees. True, the materialist sees no difference between the basic nature of the matter in a man and that in a lump of carbon. Theosophy teaches that there is slight difference chemically, but an immensity of difference psychically, for the time being. Now the only intelligence in general responsible is that of man himself and those who have been men. What is meant then by "cast-off clothing?" Simply that an animal is a compound of astral, Kamic, and in part physical matter which has been more deeply and permanently impressed by man, through its use in his own body, than other substance. The real body of man for a Manvantara is the whole globe. For a single lifetime his true body, even physically, weighs some forty tons. All the physical and astral matter which the man is to use for body and other vehicles is under his dominion from birth, says the doctrine. Since some of it is in all the kingdoms, including other men's bodies, in reality the ostensible body and mind of a man have about the relation to his real possession that the cells of the brain have to the rest of his body. As to humanity, its bodies are common property.
Since no effect arises without cause, no particle of physical, astral, or mental matter could be assimilated to the entity of a man except through the contraction, the alteration from passive to active, of preexisting bonds as applied to every particle. These in default of a better term we call "magnetic."
Therefore in reality the mass of substance in a dog which is attached to a certain person has the peculiarity of being in closer affinity to him than to others; sufficient in the first place to generate the connection, through the animal's own instinct, or through the unconscious karmic action of men. Upon the connection being made, one of three things occurs. First, the person has enough spiritual intuition to adopt the proper attitude, the right attitude toward all Nature; that is to say, one of impersonal kindness, a recognition of fundamental but not biological unity, without particular personal attraction or repulsion. Second, he may attach himself to the animal by the qualities of Rajas and Tamas; he may abuse it from anger or be cruel through sheer lack of feeling. Third, he may err by way of Sattva; he may conceive an affection for it as a being, deceived by the pull of his own bodily affinities for that form of life or that particular mass of life. In that case he draws to himself some of the animal's psychic principles and even its physical matter, and is affected -- sometimes deeply and seriously -- by the transfer. The possession of pets is strictly forbidden to chelas undergoing purification for practical occultism; this ought to teach us much.
But every road travels two ways -- a person also transfers to the animal some of his own principles, his own elementals, which travel over the invisible transmitting wires. Hence the remarkable pseudo-mental development which trained animals assume, and the various striking psychic characteristics, so different from those of wild animals, which they exhibit. This is even so of the forms. The original animal types were set up in the ether by the unconscious throwing off of images -- memory images from past Manvantaras -- which were latent in the mental spheres of man from the time the planet began to solidify out of the astral. This creative power is to some extent still active in man. Do we imagine that in the mechanism of heredity, the potencies of any natural mutation, lies the explanation of those abominable monstrosities, the forms of some specially bred dogs and cats? No; they are the warped images of the original prototypes, altered by mental distortion in their breeders.
Now what of the abused animal? There is an instant reaction of pain, so far as the eye can see; there is in fact the presence in the animal form of pain. But the animal neither feels "It is I who am suffering," nor conceives wonder as to why that suffering fell upon him. It is a psychic automatism. A wave, a telegraph-impulse of agony has been set on its way, not to be stopped until it reaches a center of perception, a center of absorption and balance. There is no such center short of a human consciousness. Until that center is reached, there is naught but a transfer of psychic motion. In what human is that center to be found? Well, with what human did the animal mass have the tie that brought about the original suffering? Then how long until the impulse reaches its center? The anesthetized patient soon knows after the effect is worn off whether he escaped pain or not. He gets it in full measure, though perhaps spread over a bearable time. The psychic shock, the power of imagination, coupled with the pain, might have killed him; that he was spared. The man who hurts an animal -- or a man -- is anesthetized by his hypnosis of separateness. In this or another life it will be pierced by the picture of the suffering animal permanently engraved in his soul, which forms the channel for due and exact return of the action. The ghastly mutilations inflicted by vivisectors are permanent psychic wounds in themselves according to which the flesh may mold itself in this or other lives. We cannot, however, judge vivisectors as a class. One who is honestly and wholeheartedly convinced that his action is the only help for mankind will be under a different sort of anesthesia, with other results.
In other words there is no "animal karma," for there are no "animals." There are only temporarily detached lumps of ex-human protoplasm, physical and psychic. Our deeds wrought upon them are but stored behind temporary nerve-blocks waiting their day of reckoning.
One wonders at the extreme ferocity of some few anti-vivisectionists. If words and spirit of words have any meaning, such would willingly inflict upon vivisectors worse mutilations than these commit upon their charges. The explanation of it may lie in an unhealthily close affinity between such persons and the animal kingdom. What the animal feels psychically and physically, they feel mentally. Their reaction is personal, not altruistic.
What of the Sattvic lover of animals? One not only absorbs the nature of any being upon which the feelings are much fixed, -- but tends to resemble that nature -- as note the likeness that grows up between a harmonious husband and wife. Thus, the only possible result of setting a human affection upon an animal is a backward alteration of the individual who makes that error. He may to the external eye even be improved by such affection; but his human evolution will be nevertheless diverted and retarded. There is another side to this, however: some lovers of animals resemble a less lovely side of animal nature. There was a saying on the cattle ranges that "if a man is wild about dogs, God help his women." Not long since, a man whose sick wife was lying at the point of death, unable to recover because of the constant barking of dogs, lost his self-control and killed one of the animals. He was punished in court not only with severity, considering the nature of the crime, but was lacerated by the Judge with language worse than stripes. This action received great applause, and for some time letters from the public were printed which sounded the yelping of a wolf-pack in vengeance for a mate. There is something more like an identity than a simile in the figure. There was no trace of pity for a suffering woman, an agonized husband. Verily, the basic spiritual incontinence that gave rise to the dire "sin of the mindless" of millions of years ago, from which the world still suffers spiritually, mentally, morally, scientifically, has strange branchlets.
To sum up, then, all animal Karma is human Karma, the fact being overlooked because of our ignorance of the extent of the sphere and action of human personality. The cruelty of the vivisector is cruelty inflicted upon man himself first by proxy, and then by reversion to the very state of mind, in which he suffers what the animal could only suffer astrally and physically. If the full truth were seen it would be pity and not hatred that his enemies would feel. His own cruelty is little greater than that imposed upon man and animal by those who breed unwholesome animal forms, who curb the free and salutary hardships of the natural animal, and confine it in sentimental luxury.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
SCIENCE VS. RELIGION
Shall one, for fear of incurring the penalty of being called a superstitious fool, and even a liar, abstain from furnishing proofs -- as good as any -- only because that day, when all the SEVEN KEYS shall be delivered unto Science, or rather the men of learning and research in the symbological department, has not yet dawned? In the face of the crushing discoveries of Geology and Anthropology with regard to the antiquity of man, shall we -- in order to avoid the usual penalty that awaits every one who strays outside the beaten paths of either Theology or Materialism -- hold to the 6,000 years and "special creation," or accept in submissive admiration our genealogy and descent from the ape? Not so, as long as it is known that the secret records hold the said SEVEN keys to the mystery of the genesis of man. Faulty, materialistic, and biassed as the scientific theories may be, they are a thousand times nearer truth than the vagaries of theology. The latter are in their death agony for every one but the most uncompromising bigot and fanatic. Hence we have no choice but either to blindly accept the deductions of Science, or to cut adrift from it, and withstand it fearlessly to its face, stating what the Secret Doctrine teaches us, being fully prepared to bear the consequences. --S.D., I, 323.
STUDIES IN KARMA
(Part 4 of a 57-part series)
Back to the
"STUDIES IN KARMA"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".