The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
March 2003 Vol. 6 Issue 1
All over the world we hear the call to peace, and though it seems impossible to restore it fully at this moment, we have to find out how human beings should behave in order to avoid conflicts in the future. In complicated situations, the central teaching of universal brotherhood is of enormous value and help. How easy this seems to be, how many times has the word brotherhood been used, and yet how difficult it is to live accordingly!
Where does brotherhood start? The first step -- before we do something, invent something, start something new -- is a thought. Brotherhood -- or peace -- and also hatred, conflicts, turmoil, and wars, begin in our minds. The present world situation is a manifestation on the physical plane of all the many wrong thoughts we, as a humanity, have, of all the thoughts that lack peace and brotherly feelings with our fellow beings. We must try to nullify as many wrong thoughts as possible by giving forth only good thoughts to everyone and everything around us. If we succeed in weaving a garment of positive thoughts around us, that will be a protection against evil, just as a warm coat protects us against icy winds. And our actions will follow our thoughts.
Once we no longer give wrong thoughts an opportunity, wars and other conflicts will ebb. Many other authors have given us hints on how to make this dream of peace a reality, pointing out that we ourselves -- each one -- are responsible for all that is going to happen. At first we can be little centers trying to live according to the ideas of universal brotherhood. And from these centers brotherhood can spread out like waves, finally reaching every corner of the universe. Good thoughts will accumulate and there won't be any room left for evil ones. The future will happen just the way we prepare for it in our minds. If our thoughts become peaceful, the world will become so also. -- Elisabeth Dolinek
When we first came to this neighborhood some years ago I felt strange and definitely uprooted, having moved from a district in which I had lived since childhood. Then casually I began to meet my neighbors. The man next door, driving home from work, called a cheery "Hello! Glad to have you with us. You can feel quite at home here." Later another neighbor close by, seeing me in the garden, said: "You know, we don't do much visiting around here, but if any one gets in trouble you can count on us -- we're always ready to help."
This neighborhood was different, I realized; it had an atmosphere of friendliness all its own, and I wondered why. Then slowly the reason became known to me -- the little lady across the street. I first met her while watering the lawn. She calmly walked over and handed me a rose. It wasn't a mere social gesture, I knew instantly, but rather the sincere expression of a kindly heart which reached out in friendliness toward others.
She had come to this community when it was new, and as each new family moved in she took them to her heart. I do not believe that there is a house on either side of the entire street that hasn't at one time or another felt the comfort and strength of her quiet thoughtfulness. Everything is done unobtrusively, gently, and with good taste and judgment. Nor is she ever too tired or too busy to reach out to others in either their joy or sorrow. She is a unifying influence also, because in the natural course of her associations she always speaks well of everyone and thereby fosters good will and a friendly attitude among the neighbors for one another.
In observing this little lady I have learned from her example more about simple, practical humanism in action than I have from most of my philosophic reading. It is not how much we take in with our minds that counts in the measure of a man, but how much we are able to give out with an understanding heart..
Whatever this individual does is done effortlessly. She never tries to be kind, she is kind, and so she is merely living according to the natural habit of her character. We so often miss the mark our aspirations set before us by trying too hard, instead of setting our compass in the right direction and then letting the unfolding events of our daily lives lead us to our goal. -- Constance Hostler
"How Can We Find Peace?" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What do we mean by peace -- concord, nonviolence, tranquility, quiet, self-control? How is peace in our individual lives related to civic and world peace? What are the causes of disharmony, conflict, and violence? Could there be a world without these negative qualities, and would we want to live in it? Are brotherhood and the oneness of life facts of existence, or merely theories or ideals? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
April 17: Reincarnation
Theosophy teaches that the earth is actually a complex living entity, whose evolution is directed by the same natural laws as those guiding all living beings. Thus, questions about the history and nature of the earth can be answered based on that concept. But we will see that everything in the universe is so interconnected that to answer these questions, we must touch on topics ranging from the creation and destruction of cosmic matter to the evolution of the waves of humanity that live on the earth.
Before beginning our discussion, some background on the nature of planets in general, and how they as well as the life forms that inhabit them evolve, would be helpful. Charles J. Ryan provides a concise explanation in his pamphlet, "The Antiquity of Man and the Geologic Ages":
The earth we see is the fourth of a sevenfold "chain" of globes which constitutes a single organism, as we may call it. The other six globes are not visible to our gross senses but the entire group is intimately connected. The vast stream of human monads [centers of consciousness] circulates seven times round the earth planetary chain during the great cycle. We are now in the fourth circulation or round of the great pilgrimage on our globe and so this period is called the fourth round. While on our globe we pass through seven stages called "root-races," each lasting for millions of years. [Man is currently in the fifth root-race.] Great geological changes separate each root-race from its successor and only a comparatively few survivors remain to provide the seed for the next root-race.
Each round is a component part of a great serial order of evolution which may be summarized as the gradual descent of spirit into matter and the subsequent ascent. The first round, even on this globe, was highly spiritual and ethereal: the succeeding rounds are less so, until the middle of the fourth round is reached. After that axial period the process is reversed and by degrees the original state of ethereality is reassumed. The physical condition of the earth's substance is modified in a corresponding way.
What type of entity is the earth? Like us, it is a composite being, made up of a physical and an astral body, as well as a life force, desire, intelligence, soul, and spirit. The material sphere that we live on is the physical body of the earth. G. de Purucker also explains that "The Earth as the mother and producer of the animate beings which draw their life from her, is very properly considered an 'animal,' or animate being, and is obviously therefore an entity, an animate and ensouled organism. The Earth even has a mysterious principle of instinct or 'quasi-thinking principle'; and it has also its vital actions and reactions, which manifest as the electromagnetic phenomena known to science -- electrical storms, earthquakes, and so forth" (Esoteric Tradition, p. 154). Also, the earth is the "outward veil or vehicle of an indwelling spiritual and intellectual agent or presence or solar spirit" (ibid, p. 450).
Theosophy, like modern science, holds that the earth's formation is closely tied to that of the sun and our solar system. Many billions of years ago, our sun started life as a nebula, or cloud of fine gas and dust particles, in a stellar nursery. As the nebula slowly moved towards our current location in space, our sun, and then the planets, condensed from the matter of the nebula. Due to the inter-play of attraction and repulsion between the sun and the condensing planets, the planets started their elliptical orbits about the sun. Finally, the earth began rotating about its axis, caused by the rotational motion of the original nebula, as well as by the innate power of movement possessed by the forces and energies flowing through it as it was coming into existence on this plane.
When the earth first formed, it was composed of very ethereal matter representing the cosmic element "Earth," which was derived from the three cosmic elements that the ancients called Fire, Air and Water. These primitive forms of matter are precursors to mineral matter. It is interesting to note that the earth's core is still made of a similar elemental material. Purucker says that the core is "physically speaking neither molten, nor solid, nor is it gaseous. It is not hot, nor is it cold. It is another kind of matter entirely. It is elemental physical substance" (Dialogues 2:144). He adds that the closest analogy he can think of is that it is like the protonic nucleus of an atom.
As millions of years passed and the earth evolved, it became more material until it reached its densest phase about 4.5 million years ago. At that point, it started to become more ethereal again. In the future, the earth as well as its inhabitants will become even more spiritual and ethereal, as the spiritual part of their constitutions becomes more fully developed. Whereas man's cycle of birth, life, death, rest, then rebirth encompasses thousands of years, the earth's life cycle lasts for billions of years. At the end of its long life cycle, the earth will "die," the atoms that make it up will disperse, and the divinity that inspirits the earth will go into a rest state. Then many eons hence the earth will incarnate once more and the whole cycle will start again.
This essay will be continued in next month's newsletter. Part II will discuss how the geologic ages and earth's major upheavals are tied to the cyclical evolution of the root-races of humanity.