Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Right Christmas

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Dreaming Of A Right Christmas

“Children of Light, as ye go forth into the world,
seek to render gentle service to all that lives.”
- Egyptian Papyrus of Ani

I’m mostly a vegetarian, for ethical reasons, and have a growing passion for “the soul of things.” Reverence for life is something everyone understands, within reasonable limits.

I reluctantly “kill” a few carrots, tomatoes and salad greens every day. But I never was a Grinch about Christmas. Though I did oppose the roast turkey.

A friend reminds me that “Native Americans had reverence and gratitude as they sacrificed a deer for their food and clothing…it’s a matter of consciousness and attitude in what you do.”

“As long as we are imprisoned in this octave,” she says, “things will die to sustain us….look at the big picture.”

INTENTION

“It is the motive, and the motive alone,” H. P. Blavatsky wrote in Practical Occultism,which makes any exercise of power become black, malignant, or white, beneficent Magic.” Lynn McTaggart thinks our intentions can change the world.

MINDFULNESS

Maybe I’m a little weird. After all, even Buddhist monks have a bowl of rice every day. And, yes, “Hitler was a vegetarian.” The justification for my oddity is, at the very least, I am thinking about what I do! (My friend said, “Buddhists call that ‘mindfulness.'”)

This is how, Blavatsky admits, she understood the teaching of her Masters: “every plant without an exception feels and has a consciousness of its own.”

And, it is a axiom of The Secret Doctrine, that:

Everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception. (1:274)

“When we try to pick out anything by itself,” wrote John Muir, America’s most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist, “we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

Plastic didn’t seem very hitched. And I was increasingly uncomfortable with “factory farmed” Christmas trees. What then should I do?

WHEN IN ROME

Living in the country, I could decorate, like any good Pagan, some sacred evergreen growing nearby. Here in the city, one can buy a potted evergreen. We did once, a few years back.

But it was even more painful to watch a live tree, isolated from its forest companions, die a slow death inside a stuffy apartment. With nowhere to replant it outdoors, it just didn’t feel right.

Growing up with strong feelings for the sacredness of life, and with much of my early childhood spent out-of-doors, it was natural to be an advocate for Nature. Now, in desperation, two days before Christmas, I faced an agonizing decision.

EVERYTHING GOT WRONG

Bundled against the bitter New York City wind and icy sidewalks, at a corner where a recently bailed-out-bank ironically thrived, the deed was done. I killed a tree that day.

“It was just cut,” a woman representing a local Boy Scout Troop injected, as I admired one in particular. A six-foot spruce from nearby Pennsylvania. Indeed, the needles were firm and fragrant, its tapering trunk and welcoming branches a work of art.

Then, amidst the blare of car horns, the little tree lay unflinching as it received a swift and indifferent Coup de grâce from an eager 12-year old Scout. A “fresh cut” was sawed from the base of its sap-stained stump. I paid cash.

At that moment, Oppenheimer’s knee-jerk quote from the Bhagavad-Gita, uttered at the first atomic test in New Mexico in 1945, overtook my violated conscience: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

RECONCILIATION

The Bhagavad-Gita is preeminently an ethical treatise. It inculcates teachings applicable to daily life, suited not only to the time in which it was written, but for all time. So it was consoling to recall a quite different passage from the Gita, where Krishna, the Higher Self, counsels his favorite disciple:

I accept and enjoy the offerings of the humble soul who in his worship with a pure heart offereth a leaf, a flower, or fruit, or water unto me. Whatever thou doest…whatever thou eatest, whatever thou sacrificest, whatever thou givest, whatever mortification thou performest, commit each unto me. Thus thou shalt be delivered from the good and evil experiences which are the bonds of action; and thy heart being joined to renunciation and to the practice of action, thou shalt come to me.

Holding these words daily in our heart, we are reborn every moment. Like the Teacher, we can become a Master of all seasons. Another of Blavatsky’s Masters in a similar vein, as quoted by her (see- Altruism in The Secret Doctrine):

He who does not practice altruism; he who is not prepared to share his last morsel with a weaker or poorer than himself; he who neglects to help his brother man, of whatever race, nation, or creed, whenever and wherever he meets suffering, and who turns a deaf ear to the cry of human misery; he who hears an innocent person slandered, whether a brother Theosophist or not, and does not undertake his defense as he would undertake his own — is no Theosophist.

FRAGRANCE OF THE GOOD

A question posed to a disciple in The Voice of the Silence: “Hast thou attuned thy being to Humanity’s great pain, 0 candidate for light?,” reminded me of a New York Times Op-Ed piece (N. Y. Times (12/22/08), “Hard Times, a Helping hand.”)

Writing about the Great Depression’s mysterious benefactor “B. Virdot,” contributor Ted Gup says: “He sought no credit for acts of conscience. He saw them as the debt we owe one another and ourselves.”

The Times article is a must read, worthy of The Laws of Manu (Manava-Dharma-Sastra), and a modern lesson which could have been taken straight out of the 2500 year old injunctions of The Buddha, embodied in “The Dhammapada,” (Ch. 4, 11-16.):

“[T]he fragrance of the good wafts even against the wind. The fragrance of the good man pervades all his ways. … From a heap of rubbish on the roadside, a lily blooms, fragrant and pleasing; from a mass of blinded mortals arises the disciple of the truly Wise One…”

NON-SEPARATENESS

“[S]piritual perfection and spiritual knowledge can only be reached on the spiritual plane,” Blavatsky writes in Theosophy Queries: Answer to a Letter. Achieved, she adds, “…only in that state in which all sense of separateness, all selfishness, all feeling of personal interest and desire, has been merged in the wider consciousness of the unity of Mankind.”

Universal ethics were pointed to by her at every opportunity, against whatever the odds or snickering of her critics. We quote in full:

Now it is a fundamental doctrine of Theosophy that the “separateness” which we feel between ourselves and the world of living beings around us is an illusion, not a reality. In very deed and truth, all men are one, not in a feeling of sentimental gush and hysterical enthusiasm, but in sober earnest. As all Eastern philosophy teaches, there is but ONE SELF in all the infinite Universe, and what we men call “self” is but the illusionary reflection of the ONE SELF in the heaving waters of earth.

True Occultism is the destruction of the false idea of Self, and therefore true spiritual perfection and knowledge are nothing else but the complete identification of our finite “selves” with the Great All. It follows, therefore, that no spiritual progress at all is possible except by and through the bulk of Humanity. It is only when the whole of Humanity has attained happiness that the individual can hope to become permanently happy — for the individual is an inseparable part of the Whole.

SPIRITUAL PERFECTION

Hence there is no contradiction whatever between the altruistic maxims of Theosophy and its injunction to kill out all desire for material things, to strive after spiritual perfection. For spiritual perfection and spiritual knowledge can only be reached on the spiritual plane; in other words, only in that state in which all sense of separateness, all selfishness, all feeling of personal interest and desire, has been merged in the wider consciousness of the unity of Mankind.

This shows also that no blind submission to the commands of another can be demanded, or would be of any use. Each individual must learn for himself, through trial and suffering, to discriminate what is beneficial to Humanity; and in proportion as he develops spiritually, i.e., conquers all selfishness, his mind will open to receive the guidance of the Divine Monad within him, his Higher Self, for which there is neither Past nor Future, but only an eternal NOW.

(From Blavatsky Collected Writings 11:104-6)

Purchase on Amazon:  H.P.B. Collected Writings, 15: Cumulative Index (H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings)

Big Bang Bounced

galaxy2Big Science and Big Religion have something in common after all. Both would have us believe the universe was fashioned out of nothing. Before the Big Bang there was “nothing.”

Rinse and repeat, you get the opening of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and “darkness was upon the face of the deep.”

WAKE UP CALL

A Tour of the Calculus author David Berlinsky, PhD writes “The Big Bang has come to signify virtually a universal creed,” (Was There a Big Bang?). In this short video clip, Dr. Berlinsky discusses the willingness of Science to accept criticism:

In fairness, scientists are sometimes willing to admit their miscalculations. Recently a laboratory computer simulation of the Big Bang behaved unexpectedly. Anil Ananthaswamy, writing in the December 10, 2008 issue of New Scientist, describes the event and the reaction of physicist Abhay Ashteka:

“I was taken aback,” he says. He was watching a simulation of the universe rewind towards the big bang. Mostly the universe behaved as expected, becoming smaller and denser as the galaxies converged. But then, instead of reaching the big bang “singularity”, the universe bounced and started expanding again. What on earth was happening?

FORCE DUALITY

For students of The Secret Doctrine this is a welcome question. Ashteka’s big bang experiment is suggestive of “the dual Force that Occultism calls attraction and repulsion” (SD 1:497).  The universe obeys cyclic laws of day and night, sleeping and waking, as H. P. Blavatsky explained in the Second of her “Three Fundamental Propositions”:

This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe. (SD 1:13-18)

A UNIFIED WEB

Now cosmologists and physicists are being closely criticized for ignoring these laws. Frontier plasma cosmologists David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill explain their competing theory, clearly Theosophical, on their website Thunderbolts.org

“From the smallest particle to the largest galactic formation,” they say, “a web of electrical circuitry connects and unifies all of nature, organizing galaxies, energizing stars, giving birth to planets and, on our own world, controlling weather and animating biological organisms.” Their conclusion: “There are no isolated islands in an electric universe.”

Enjoy the video from these two Blavatsky-oriented scientific pioneers:

Sure scientists are willing to recognize their miscalculations and mistakes. But are they willing to publish them?

“Ashtekar wanted to be sure of what he was seeing,” Ananthaswamy reports in NewScientist, “so he asked his colleagues to sit on the result for six months before publishing it in 2006.  And no wonder.”


The Wonder of You

WHEN disturbing, destructive events invade our collective human consciousness, we have the power as spiritual beings to transmute and heal those negative energies.

If there is news of corruption, greed, suffering — embedding their messages into our psyches — how do we counter their debilitating influences – mental, physical and psychological?

The forces impacting our personal, national and global life, have taught us much about ‘inherent evil.’  But what of ‘inherent good?’

This week, we intended a post about modern cosmology and evolution, in the light of Theosophy.

We choose, instead to focus on optimism and light, against the numbing pessimism of materialism. Continue reading

Evil in Mumbai

NPR Weekend Edition Host Scott Simon’s commentary week on Mumbai was a bit of a surprise. “[A]fter covering too many killings, as a reporter or host, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Oklahoma City or Somalia, I’ve come to the conclusion that the perpetrators of such crimes might just be … evil,” he said.

Scott Simon

Scott Simon

 

“Evil is a word that many people of my generation shrink from using. It seems so imprecise and uneducated — biblical, rather than cerebral and informed. But there are times and crimes that remind me how often the Bible gets it right.”


INHERENT EVIL

Shrinking away from the idea that a person could inherently be evil is nothing new. The fifth century Chinese Buddhist translator Dao Sheng had a really hard time with the concept of icchantikas—those who do not have the Buddha-nature, which the Buddha mentioned in his final teaching, The Nirvana Sutra. So Dao Sheng rewrote and retranslated the text to say that icchantikas could be saved too, adding rose-colored lenses to the Buddhist worldview.

It is not unlike C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, where the best way for evil to conquer is to convince people that it does not exist.


EMBODIED EVIL

When asked about the nature of “entities,” William Q. Judge explained:

W. Q. Judge

W. Q. Judge

First, there are the humdrum masses of elementals that move like nerve-currents with every motion of man, beast, or natural elements. Next are classes of those which have a peculiar power and consciousness of their own and not easily reached by any man.

Then come the shades of the dead, whether mere floating shells, or animated elementals, or infused with galvanic and extraordinary action by the Brothers of the Shadow.

Last, the Brothers of the Shadow, devoid of physical bodies save in rare cases, bad souls living long in that realm and working according to their nature for no other end than evil until they are finally annihilated—they are the lost souls of Kama Loka as distinguished from the “animated corpses” devoid of souls which live and move among men (The Path February 1895).

NO CONSCIENCE

In explaining how evil people “function,” Scott Simon mentions Romeo Dallaire:

Roméo Dallaire

Roméo Dallaire

“[T]he courageous Canadian general who tried to stop massacres in Rwanda, once told us that evil men and women see no innocents in the world. They will slaughter mothers without conscience and their children, too, because mothers give birth to children who can grow up to be their opponents. Evil people are not dumb, he said. They simply use the power of their mind to cut off their conscience.”


CHIEF CAUSE OF WORLD EVIL

But it is Master K.H. (Mahatma Kuthumi or Koot Hoomi) in the Mahatma Letters who brings this topic full circle in understanding “evil”  in Mumbai and other terrorism in 41m2s2rtgvl_sl160_our world:

I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power.

For two thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste, Brahmins alone feeding on the fat of the land, and to-day the followers of Christ and those of Mahomet are cutting each other’s throats in the names of and for the greater glory of their respective myths.

It is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches; it is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind. Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity.

Look at India and look at Christendom and Islam, at Judaism and Fetichism. It is priestly imposture that rendered these Gods so terrible to man; it is religion that makes of him the selfish bigot, the fanatic that hates all mankind out of his own sect without rendering him any better or more moral for it. It is belief in God and Gods that makes two-thirds of humanity the slaves of a handful of those who deceive them under the false pretence of saving them….

A SOLUTION

Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.”

The Reality of Illusion

VIEWED as the dependable Gaia, our Mother Earth is a beautiful and bountiful haven for life in the cosmos.

But day to day living here represents a wide variety of experiences, not all of them necessarily compatible.

For example, artists, writers, poets, mathematicians, shamans, homeless persons, business people, storm chasers.

Each of them experiences our shared planet through their own unique lens.

Each hears, sees, tastes and feels based upon their particular worldview, and these unique affectations manifest in an infinitude of variations.

“Why is it that one person sees poetry in a cabbage or a pig with her little ones,” H. P. Blavatsky asks,

“while another will perceive in the loftiest things only their lowest and most material aspect.”

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Continue reading

That First Feeling

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Let thy Soul lend its ear to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun.

Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer’s eye. But let each burning human tear drop on thy heart and there remain, nor ever brush it off, until the pain that caused it is removed.

These tears, O thou of heart most merciful, these are the streams that irrigate the fields of charity immortal. ‘Tis on such soil that grows the midnight blossom of Buddha more difficult to find, more rare to view than is the flower of the Vogay tree. It is the seed of freedom from rebirth. -The Voice of the Silence

THE FIRST DEVOTION

“…during its early beginnings, psychic and physical intellect being dormant and consciousness still undeveloped, the spiritual conceptions of that race were quite unconnected with its physical surroundings.

That divine man dwelt in his animal-though externally human-form; and, if there was instinct in him, no self-consciousness came to enlighten the darkness of the latent fifth principle. When, moved by the law of Evolution, the Lords of Wisdom infused into him the spark of consciousness, the first feeling it awoke to life and activity was a sense of solidarity, of one-ness with his spiritual creators.”

“As the child’s first feeling is for its mother and nurse, so the first aspirations of the awakening consciousness in primitive man were for those whose element he felt within himself, and who yet were outside, and independent of him.

DEVOTION arose out of that feeling, and became the first and foremost motor in his nature; for it is the only one which is natural in our heart, which is innate in us, and which we find alike in human babe and the young of the animal. This feeling of irrepressible, instinctive aspiration in primitive man is beautifully, and one may say intuitionally, described by Carlyle:”

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Thomas Carlyle

“‘The great antique heart,’ he exclaims, ‘how like a child’s in its simplicity, like a man’s in its earnest solemnity and depth! heaven lies over him wheresoever he goes or stands on the earth; making all the earth a mystic temple to him, the earth’s business all a kind of worship. Glimpses of bright creatures flash in the common sunlight; angels yet hover, doing God’s messages among men …Wonder, miracle, encompass the man; he lives in an element of miracle.'”

(“That which was natural in the sight of primitive man has become only now miracle to us; and that which was to him a miracle could never be expressed in our language.” – HPB)
H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:181

THAT FIRST DESIRE

Kama (Sanskrit) Cosmic kama or desire, equivalent to the Greek eros, is the source of fohat, the driving intelligent energies of the universe. It is impersonal compassion and sympathy.
Kamadeva (Sanskrit) [from kama desire + deva god, divinity] The Hindu god of love, one of the Visve-devas in the Hindu pantheon.

As the Eros of Hesiod was connected in early Greek mythology with the world’s creation, and only afterwards became degraded into the passional Cupid, so was Kama in his original meaning as used in the Vedas, which gives the metaphysical and philosophical significance of his functions in the cosmos.

Kama is the first conscious, all-embracing desire for universal good, love, and the first feeling of infinite compassion and mercy for all that lives and feels, needs help and kindness, that arose in the consciousness of the creative One Force, as soon as it came into life and being as a ray from the Absolute. There is no idea of sexual love in the conception. Kama is pre-eminently the divine desire of creating happiness and love.

KAMA

Kama “is in the Rig-Veda (x. 129) the personification of that feeling which leads and propels to creation. He was the first movement that stirred the One, after its manifestation from the purely abstract principle, to create.

‘Desire first arose in It, which was the primal germ of mind; and which sages, searching with their intellect, have discovered to be the bond which connects Entity with Non-Entity’ ” — or manas with pure atma-buddhi. Only later did kama become the power that gratifies desire on the animal plane.” -H. P. BLAVATSKY

In the ancient Rig-Veda, virtue is given first place. In the famous hymn (X, 129) Kama-Love-Eros is said to be the first movement that arose in the One after it had come into life through the power of abstraction.

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KAMA-DEVA

Compassion is the Soul of all Virtues – be they the Christian and Greek Cardinal ones, or virtues of the divine man of the Gita or the six and ten Paramitas of the Buddhistic Philosophy. In the Mahayana Book of the Golden Precepts this archetypal Virtue is described: -

Compassion is no attribute.
It is the Law of Laws -
Eternal Harmony,
Alaya’s Self,
A shoreless universal essence,
The Light of everlasting right,
And Fitness of all things,
The Law of Love eternal.

THE GOSPEL OF GOODWILL

by H. P. Blavatsky

The tendency of modern civilization is a reaction towards animalism, towards a development of those qualities which conduce to the success in life of man as an animal in the struggle for animal existence.

Theosophy seeks to develop the human nature in man in addition to the animal, and at the sacrifice of the superfluous animality which modern life and materialistic teachings have developed to a degree which is abnormal for the human being at this stage of his progress.

…the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonizing of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill feeling or selfishness, charity, goodwill to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to oneself, are its chief features.

He who teaches Theosophy preaches the gospel of goodwill; and the converse of this is true also — he who preaches the gospel of goodwill, teaches Theosophy.

The function of Theosophists is to open men’s hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being.

Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learnt to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.

H. P. Blavatsky to the American Conventions, Letter 1

humanbrain2Your Brain on Gratitude
BRAIN IMAGES

Dr. Amen’s groundbreaking research has shown that people can change and improve the structure and function of their brains and in doing so, improve overall health, happiness and success. The implications of this are enormous. Gratitude makes the brain light up.

Dr. Amen’s site:
http://www.amenclinics.com/media2/