The Divine Ethic

By Peter Flach

Values that used to be considered axiomatic have more and more eroded away and, as a result, many people have no firm base to stand on; they grope uncertainly for knowledge about our human position, task, and responsibility in the great drama of life. We need a high ethic based on a living, true philosophy.

The fact is that there does exist -- has always existed -- such a universal view of life, one which can provide explanations, which satisfies the mind and fulfills the highest ethical and moral demands; it is a philosophy which, if rightly understood and applied to daily living, is of the greatest practical value. It is not new, not a mere collection of theories, but a comprehensive whole; in short, while human theories change, truth endures. It has taken many forms but the fundamental, eternal truths remain ever the same: they are to be found in the pure teachings of the Master Jesus, in the old Norse Edda, and in Finland's national epic, Kalevala. They are found also in other fragments preserved from antiquity: the elevating ideas of Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Plato, Apollonius of Tyana, Marcus Aurelius, and many others. They meet us like an echo from a far past age in the sacred writings of the world; in the monuments of Egypt, of the Middle East, and of the Mayans of ancient America; and also in the life and teachings of Buddha, of Lao-tzu, and Confucius.

This wisdom is timeless and universal and is the source from which thinkers and spiritual innovators of every age received their inspiration and knowledge. In essentials, all great religious and philosophical systems of thought are alike even though on the surface they may appear different. This is because they have been called forth by different times and circumstances and also because what remains to us from former eras is often but a feeble reflection of the original message. With the current interest in the cultural heritage of all peoples, while many are still held in the grip of old dogmas, others are questioning: "Is the world a well-ordered whole or a tangled skein produced by chance, even though we call it 'cosmos' -- order?" It has to be one or the other, as it cannot be chance in one instance and order in another. This would be absurd: chance can never be consistent and logical. As the earth in its entirety is built up according to a consistent pattern and with incomparable logic, what is more natural than to suppose that the same adherence to law and order prevails in the cosmos, and that nothing lacks an originating cause and therefore deepest significance.

So striking is the uniformity that pervades the whole universe, such great precision characterizes both living and 'dead' matter, that we find ourselves almost forced to assume an intelligent purpose and a highest intelligence behind the universe. All sciences tell us the same. They speak of an independent uniformity and design in everything. -- Professor D. F. Fraser Harris, Den stora Planen (The Great Design), p. 187.
We begin more and more to sense a uniform correspondence and a deep meaning behind the world's and life's multifarious appearances. It no longer seems to me to be a fantastic experiment of thought to postulate the cosmos as an ensouled being, an evolving consciousness, for much in modern research actually points to this possibility, which is not new but has for centuries been the dream and intuition of thinkers and researchers. -- Professor Knut Lundmark, ibid., p. 8.

One could quote other researchers at length on the subject of cosmic order, yet each one of us must still reach an insight into these vital matters for himself through the intelligence of his own mind and heart.

It may be hard to realize without deep thought that the whole universe is alive and that even space is alive. The mere thought of this immense universal being, its life and soul, is awesome -- at once dizzying and fascinating. Every sane person must feel a desire to know about nature and its workings, just as each one sooner or later thinks and wonders about why he is alive and why events happen which may seem to be haphazard or inexplicable.

Nature, in its broadest connotation as the living cosmos or universe, includes invisible ranges as well as the visible. Our senses respond to only a limited sphere. For instance, of the electromagnetic spectrum, the radiations that evoke sight or color perception comprise only one octave of this enormous gamut. What an overwhelming range of vision we should experience if the eye were more sensitive and could perceive more of all that exists.

Modern research is now approaching very closely the teachings of the ancient wisdom which presents the universe as a living organism wherein all beings, man included, are integral parts subject to its laws, their methods of operation regulated throughout by divine intelligence. The misfortunes and suffering which we endure and witness are caused by our disturbance of the harmony and equilibrium which nature constantly works to restore. It is this automatic balancing which allows us to reap whatever we have sown.

As we reflect on these ideas and what they imply, we find that we are a ONENESS, and yet each one of us has his own task to fulfill, his own path to travel. Just as we cannot live another person's life for him, so we cannot travel his path, for that path goes through the individual's own mind and heart and consciousness. One cannot understand love, or compassion, or peace of mind, without having experience of it. The same is true of a philosophy of life; the divine ethic must become a living reality.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, June/July 1982. Copyright © 1982 by Theosophical University Press)

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