THEOSOPHY, Vol. 34, No. 2, December, 1945
(Pages 53-58; Size: 18K)
(Number 39 of a 57-part series)
STUDIES IN KARMA
THE DAY OF THE ATOMThe Western Aryans had, every nation and tribe, like their Eastern brethren of the Fifth Race, their Golden and their Iron ages, their period of comparative irresponsibility, or the Satya age of purity, while now, several of them have reached their Iron Age, the Kali Yuga, an age BLACK WITH HORRORS....STRIP from current utterances about the atomic bomb their conventional form, the commonplaces of ethical rhetoric and political "necessity," and there remains only a dark core of shuddering uncertainty, a fear of worse to come that has seized the western world. Modern man does not know how to deal with this new and terrible destructive power at his command. It is as though Nature itself, impersonal, inscrutable, and deaf to special pleas, had risen to confront the human race with the choice between responsibility and extinction.
If the question is asked why Mr. Keely was not allowed to pass a certain limit, the answer is easy; because that which he has unconsciously discovered, is the terrible sidereal Force, known to, and named by the Atlanteans MASH-MAK, and by the Aryan Rishis in their Ashtar Vidya by a name that we do not like to give....
It is this vibratory Force, which, when aimed at an army from an Agni Rath fixed on a flying vessel, a balloon, according to the instructions found in Ashtar Vidya, reduced to ashes 100,000 men and elephants, as easily as it would a dead rat.... Is it this destructive agency, which, once in the hands of some modern Attila, e.g., a blood-thirsty anarchist, would reduce Europe in a few days to its primitive chaotic state with no man left alive to tell the tale -- is this force to become the common property of all men alike? ... The discovery in its completeness is by several thousand -- or shall we say hundred thousand? -- years too premature.
--The Secret Doctrine (1888), I, 644-5, 558, 563.
At present, however, the fear is not so much of immediate disaster through further use of the atomic explosive as of the questions which the latter has forced to the forefront of modern thought. Nor is it the questions themselves, which are not new, but rather the compulsion of circumstances, the irreconcilable facts which demand answers without evasion, that create the uneasiness of our leaders. In the past such questions could be dealt with by vague generality and expressions of pious intention. This is no longer the case. People used to say, quite seriously, following the demonstration of some new destructive power, "Now there will be an end to war; it has become far too horrible to be tolerated." But probably the inventor of the bow and arrow cherished some such sentiment!
The problem comes to a focus in the grim certainty that unless mankind is capable of controlling the use of the atomic bomb, no nation, no people, no city can for a single moment be safe from sudden and absolute devastation. And the central question -- to which all the other questions are related -- is: How may we, or any nation, hope for genuinely impartial control over this power to destroy without losing for ourselves its independent use in self-protection? The atomic bomb, over-night, has become the supreme military weapon; its almost incalculable destructiveness has erased the distinction between "offensive" and "defensive" techniques. It comes to this, that national sovereignty depends upon independent control of the atomic bomb, and therefore, international control of the weapon, supposing it to be possible, means the sacrifice of sovereignty.
On the other hand, for the nations to live at peace with one another, in trust and confidence, there must first be justice among them. For there to be justice in international relations, the nations must be willing to act according to principle, setting aside self-interest. And where is the nation which can point to a policy of sacrifice of self-interest in its international affairs? The fact is that nations do not trust one another, and there is little likelihood that they will learn to do so in the very near future. How, then, can we expect them to surrender voluntarily their independent power in this cycle of aggravated suspicions and mutual fears?
These are the questions which haunt the thoughtful men of our time. Leaders keep repeating the obvious: we must do thus and so to preserve the peace. Meanwhile, the world over, the principles of peace are daily and nakedly violated. The neglect of the facts by those who talk of sacrificing national sovereignty has a logical correspondence in the grim cynicism of others who have no faith in either the pretensions or the acts of the former. Every just man at all acquainted with history knows in principle what it is necessary to do in order to make peace, and he knows, also, that it is not being done. This realization is an intellectual and moral terreur that may precede a greater, physical disaster to come.
The dread Karma of moral opportunism has at last overtaken the West. We have had little or no practice in controlling our powers; and now, when it seems that we must control them, we do not know how, nor where to begin.
Step by step, the West has disregarded the lessons of history. In the war just over, the world has seen more destructive deeds than were dreamed of by Attila or Genghis Khan, and conceived in the name of a war to safeguard humanity. Every new power unearthed during this century has brought new weapons; every new weapon has involved greater masses in greater suffering, forced upon the warrior new extremes of mercilessness and callousness, and brought more enduring and more terrible social consequences.
Such things were done by men caught in a stream of national Karma which seemed to them irresistible; terrible as these things were, they were made to seem the lesser evils. Men ordered to destroy other men had their work palliated by distance and the impersonal technology of modern war. A city in flames is only a glow on the screen of space. The bombardier, riding high on the wings of Atlantean might in the cold free air, seldom pictures beneath him the screaming children cowering in cellars while jellied gasoline, the inextinguishable liquid demon that passes through even the tiniest crack, pours down the stairs and under the doors. The soldier making running torches of enemy men with a flame-thrower is under the bitter necessity to destroy or be destroyed. And then, came the "mortal flame" that bloomed over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the penultimate embodiment and symbol of dark, Atlantean genius, the sky-written warning of the Nemesis of the West.
These are the processes of modern war, apart from its purposes. But do we dare consider the processes of war apart from political considerations? Are we able to say, in anything but a voiceless whisper, that perhaps the magnitude of this destructive power makes its purpose quite irrelevant to its condemnation? These questions, too, are haunting modern man. Politically forbidden questions, they may soon be morally necessary. The atomic bomb has forced this dilemma upon us.
But even the practical problems seem almost insurmountable. Place the engines of war under the control of the "good" nations, it is urged. Experts at once tell us of the difficulties involved in this proposal. A committee of scientists who contributed to the development of the atomic bomb has revealed: "The fact is that a fundamental secret of the atomic bomb simply does not exist." (Life, October 29.) In the near future, say these authorities -- in perhaps two to five years -- "several nations will be able to produce atomic bombs."
The conclusion to which we are led is that nothing less than world reformation can avert world destruction. A simple truth, but one which has everywhere been resisted by the makers of national policy, and is being resisted even now by those who imagine that all that is needed is a new political formula and the complete disarmament of the defeated nations of this war. As the hatreds generated by the struggle subside, and as new suspicions aroused by "peace-making" activities emerge, we are beginning to appreciate the gloomy accuracy of the statement that we have only "a security organization to prevent the recurrence of World War II -- not one that will prevent a World War III."
And in that World War III, so direfully predicted with increasing frequency and urgency, what of our new-found power to destroy? Is there a basis for self-justification in a "good" use of the atomic bomb? Whatever we do, this question will still be asked. The view of a leading educator is pertinent:Men must be freed from their moral confusion, from the sort of confusion that led the chief of the United States Strategic Air Forces to announce to the press that the effects of the atomic bomb were "good." To be accurate, he should have said that the effects of the bomb were "devastating." According to what moral standards can we refer to the hideous destruction of scores of thousands of human beings as "good"? The terms "good" and "evil" are moral terms, while force is measured by mathematical formulae. And if our standard of "good" and "evil" is our announced war aims, namely, the Atlantic Charter and the Four Freedoms, then the bombing of Hiroshima was effective but evil. (School and Society, October 27.)Would we wish to live in a society where no one thought of nor was willing to raise such a problem? Are we able to contemplate calmly life in a society where some 125,000 men and women could work on the construction of the atomic bomb, in complete ignorance of what they were doing? Suppose, in future years, we decide that the use of the atomic bomb was a horrible mistake; what of the thousands who participated in that mistake without even an opportunity to consider the morality of the undertaking? Who, in the final analysis, had the more fortunate Karma -- the "innocent" builders of the bomb, or its "guilty" victims?
Readers of The Secret Doctrine may wonder, Is the atomic destruction a manifestation of the Mash-Mak -- of "Keely's Force"? How, in view of H.P.B.'s warning, did that force blaze out before its time?
The atomic bomb is not the dread "sixth-plane" force; that force is semi-psychic, operable only by the "first-born of the ether," capable of sinking whole continents if unveiled. The atomic bomb can destroy only nations, and requires no psychic powers. It is to all previous weapons as gunpowder was to the slingshot -- a ratio of destructive power sufficient unto the day. But undeniably, the atomic bomb inaugurates a new cycle of power over natural forces, with corresponding karmic responsibility. According to the scientific contributors to Life, "The atomic bomb is the first practical step of mankind out of the old world -- which we may call the world of electronics -- into the world of nucleonics. Electronic forces are responsible for all the chemical and electrical processes in our bodies as well as our power plants, engines and rockets. Nuclear forces are responsible for the life and death of the stars."
Why, then, was its use "permitted," if such secrets are withheld from selfish mankind by the custodians of occult knowledge?
Why, indeed? One might ask why the muddy torrents of Kama Loka were permitted to flow into the moral and intellectual confusion of the nineteenth century -- confounding and deluding an entire generation with the "miracles" of the séance and the lure of mediumship? The cycles must run their rounds. Western man is nearing the apex of his physical and intellectual development and the normal fruition of the cycle can no more be impeded than the resistless change of the tides. We must accept the judgment of a modern critic, that "Atomic bombs are the natural product of the kind of society we have created. They are as easy, normal and unforced an expression of the American Standard of Living as electric iceboxes. We do not dream of a world in which atomic fission will be 'harnessed to constructive ends.' The new energy will be at the service of the rulers; it will change their strength but not their aims."
The gigantic eruption of the atomic bomb is a physical and a social event, and much more: it is a karmic event. Dammed-up reservoirs of Karma can sometimes brim so high that no power the universe can prevent an over-topping of the "Guardian Wall." The Great Lodge is no Olympus of personal deities with the power to toss human destinies like jackstraws. This they leave, perforce, to modern governments.
There is the view that the atomic bomb is "a good thing" because "it shortened the war and saved lives!" Whose lives? What are the conditions which must prevail before we can consider the humanity of the enemy as well as his enmity?
Is an "enemy" ever entitled to consideration as a human being? The world of today has given its opinion, not only in the ashes of London and Coventry, Dresden and Berlin, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but in the 100,000 graves dug in advance this fall for the Germans fated to starve during the Winter. A hygienic precaution, no doubt; crude, perhaps, but as scientific as the Maidenek incinerator. The victors plan carefully, not to feed, but to bury, the defeated enemy. That is the opinion the world has of "enemies"; "Karma" may have another.
Modern war is the apotheosis of the theory of self-preservation; and as this theory is false for human beings, it operates in practice as an unparalleled instrument of self-destruction. More than half a century ago, H. P. Blavatsky made this warning to the West:"Self-preservation," on these lines, is indeed and in truth a sure, slow, suicide, for it is a policy of mutual homicide, because men by descending to its practical application among themselves, merge more and more by a retrograde reinvolution into the animal kingdom. This is what the "struggle for life" is in reality, even on the purely materialistic lines of political economy. (THEOSOPHY I, 201.) [Note: This refers to a copy of H. P. Blavatsky's article entitled "The Theosophical Society: Its Mission and its Future". A link to it has been placed at the end of this article. --Compiler.]But for the man of our civilization, caught in the writhing lines of resurgent Atlantean Karma, bemused by national pride and the tradition of victory, tortured by all the fears which arise when his personal security seems threatened, there is only the terrible dilemma of the modern world: He has loosed a power which he does not know how to control.
There is only one hope for this modern man. It is that he will see how shallow, how false and hypocritical have been the boasts of moral leadership of the society he has evolved. The shams must topple, the cant must end. If it takes an atomic bomb to shake the West into awareness of its degradation, then we may be thankful that its victims have served some purpose other than their own destruction. But if, finally, our leaders conclude that the bomb is "good" because it won a war, the imagination must flinch at measuring the karmic retribution that will be necessary to bring the world -- or whatever portions of it that then remain -- to its senses in the next great social and moral cataclysm.
[Note: Here is the link to HPB's article, entitled "The Theosophical Society: Its Mission and its Future", that was quoted from by the Editors in the above article. --Compiler.]
STUDIES IN KARMA
MIND -- KILLER OR HEALER?
(Part 40 of a 57-part series)
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