The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
June 1998 Vol. 1 Issue 4
Theosophy does not contradict modern science, but rather supplements it. H. P. Blavatsky described her Secret Doctrine as the "synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy." While modern science tends to focus on the material side of nature, theosophy explains nature in both physical and metaphysical terms. Here are four scientific topics presented from a theosophical point of view.
Man and Evolution: In theosophy life is universal, and a ray of the divine spark is within each being in the cosmos. Evolution is the unfolding, or bringing out from within, of all the latent capabilities and characteristics of this spiritual spark or seed. Material bodies are the expression of the evolutionary needs of the inner being who is using that body to develop itself. Each being unfolds according to its own inner design, rather than being the result of random processes acting on primitive material building blocks.
Theosophy teaches neither Darwinian evolution nor Christian creationism. It holds that mankind did evolve, but not from the apes; rather, apes and other mammals originated from an early form of humanity. How did this happen? Millions of years ago mankind was very different from today, in an ethereal primordial stage of development where its cells were more independent and capable of development in various directions. When early humans shed those germinal cells, inferior beings were able to use the potentials within the cells to unfold the various mammalian stocks. The mammals then followed their own evolutionary course, producing species which expressed their latent characteristics and qualities. This view is very different from those usually presented, but harmonizes with the evidence of modern science.
Sun: The sun is the vehicle of a highly evolved spiritual and intellectual presence. It is the heart and brain of our solar system, the source of spiritual life and energy for all entities and planets in the solar system. The sun is immaterial in its higher aspects, just as we are, so that what we see is the physical expression or reflection of a cosmic god. It plays a vital part in the inner life of humanity, and in the evolution of the planets and their hosts of lives. It has cycles of growth and of reimbodiment. The heart of any star is an alchemical laboratory in which occur molecular, atomic, and electronic changes impossible to reproduce in our laboratories.
Mind: Mind is one of the aspects or characteristics which make up human beings. It provides the link between our highly evolved spiritual aspects and our less evolved personal and material aspects, giving us our self-awareness. This self-awareness sets us apart from the animals and allows us to act based on reason, rather than solely on instinct. Mankind was not always self-aware, but obtained the light of mind from more highly evolved beings several million years ago. The mind is not only an organ of thought, but also the faculty by which we perceive and focus cosmic consciousness. Mind is not a physical by-product nor attached to the body, but works through the body by means of its link with the human brain. It is this link which allows us to reason and think. It is also what allows us to "see" and "feel," as mind interprets the impulses from the human organs, converting them into thoughts.
Thought:Thoughts are learning entities, elemental beings embodied in a thought-form, which humans, as spiritual beings, create. Since thoughts are elementals, our thoughts can act not only on us but on all beings everywhere. Each thought has its own life, its own essence and individuality, its own course to run. In the eons we were thoughts of other self-conscious entities and are ourselves the children of the thoughts of our inner divinity. We have a great responsibility for our thoughts, as their creators and masters.
This month our subject is "Have There Been Lost Civilizations?" We will be discussing such questions as: How much do we really understand about historic and prehistoric civilizations? How old is humanity, and how has it evolved? What about the methods and accuracy of dating historic and early human remains? Is there scientific and historical truth in the world's myths and religious traditions? How does human evolution relate to that of the earth and solar system, and to periodic geological changes? What about legendary civilizations, like Atlantis and Lemuria, and the "lost" civilization posited by some modern researchers? What can the past tell us about our present and future? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
July 9: "How Can We Find Truth?"
August 6: "Why Are There So Many Religions?"
September: "Why Do We Dream?"
Increasingly scientists describe the universe as hierarchical or holarchic, meaning that everything is composed of smaller organisms yet is more than the sum of its parts. Is this "more" the life and consciousness which expresses itself through a particular group of smaller parts? A growing number of researchers consider consciousness as fundamental, rather than as a byproduct of matter.
As human beings we are composed of organs and tissues, which in turn are composed of living cells. But each organ is more than a collection of cells, just as we are more than a collection of organs. The cells themselves are very complex, composed of many organelles, some originally quite independent but now living symbiotically within the cell. Such interrelations continue into the subatomic realms as far as we can make distinctions.
Looking in the other direction, we humans as a whole are like a tissue or organ of the earth formed of human cells. But we have not discovered our role or how to cooperate effectively with the earth organism. The planet is part of the solar system, which is a tiny portion of the galaxy. Galaxies form clusters, and these clusters form structures.
Slowly the ancient view of the heavens as filled with conscious living beings is reemerging. Biologist Rupert Sheldrake has said: "All the stars may have mental activity, life, and intelligence associated with them." When people think of consciousness on a cosmic scale, a personal deity may come to mind. But how would a being in one of our cells perceive us and our consciousness? Its time scale would be so minute that it could observe only a tiny slice of our activity. Perhaps over generations regular bodily rhythms might be noted. But what could it possibly know of our state of consciousness? How could it tell whether we had the consciousness of a buddha, an evildoer, an animal, plant, or mineral?
So is it when we look out into the universe. Whether galaxies we see form the body of some exalted spiritual being, or the equivalent of a supercosmic crystal or speck of dirt, we cannot know. How can we attribute to this consciousness personal interest in terrestrial affairs?
That a star or cell is conscious does not imply that it has human consciousness. We are not in a position to know the consciousness of nonhuman inhabitants of the earth or wider universe unless we tune ourselves to a more universal frequency of consciousness within ourselves. J. Alan Boone experimented along these lines, as recorded in books such as Kinship with All Life. He found that if he entered a contemplative state that by-passed the typically mental human consciousness, and had a positive, accepting attitude, he could understand animals perfectly, just as they understood him -- whether dogs, monkeys, or flies. He met a biologist who communicated with bacteria and enlisted their cooperation; this may sound fantastic, but traditional peoples routinely commune with surrounding nature. It is as if our negative attitudes and assumptions cut us off from a natural intuitive awareness of the nonhuman consciousness around us.
But what are life and consciousness, in and of themselves? Just as matter and energy are equivalent and convertible, so consciousness and substance may be two sides of one underlying unity. Instead of deriving everything from matter, it may be more accurate to postulate an unknowable unity behind all manifestation, which expresses itself through life-consciousness-substance as three aspects.
If all in the galaxy originates from the unity behind this inseparable trinity, then we are all expressions at different levels of unfoldment of that originating cause. We can trace that cause back until we reach a point where human under-standing fails, and we must designate it as "unknown" and "unknowable."
Because we are all subordinate parts of various of more encompassing beings -- earth, solar system, galaxy, and on endless-ly -- we together all form a oneness or universal brotherhood, and as time goes on we must learn to work cooperatively with each other and everything around us, and with the larger beings we help to form. At the same time, we must also take responsibility for the impact our thoughts and actions have on the quasi-infinitude of smaller beings which form us -- from cells to atoms, physical and psychological, mental and spiritual.
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