The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
January 2006 -- Vol. 8 Issue 11
When we speak of nature, we generally think of some-thing quite separate from ourselves, though of course we are an essential part of it. We live with the minerals, plants, and animals, but seldom stop to wonder what each kingdom contributes to the whole it helps to form. Steeped in material-ism and the idea that nature is there for us to exploit, we have lost much of our empathy and rapport with other life forms.
The earth, however, is an organic whole, and the individuals that form it are coequal and necessary contributors. Ongoing scientific discoveries of the physical interconnectedness of all on earth point up the pervasive linking of everything into one organic system, each individual aspect contributing to and affecting all others: climate, ground cover, animals, bacteria, trees, rivers, oceans, fish, insects, geological activity -- all dynamically connected. Each has a purpose, whether we can fathom it or not, and each makes its contribution to the whole.
While recognition of the physical dependence among all in nature has become widespread, the realization that non-human life forms contribute by their consciousness and life to the whole is still a novel idea to many. In our egocentricity, we have for too long downgraded the consciousness and life of other inhabitants of the globe, and denied spirit to such an extent that we frequently deny it even to ourselves. But the earth is a living being formed of living beings. We acknowledge consciousness in the animals; we intuit it in the plants. Why not in the minerals, the atoms, the planets? We understand so little about consciousness and life, about the earth as a whole, about the interrelations of the various dwellers on the planet -- we don't even understand very well what a person is. How can we, then, put such limitations on the world around us? The view that all is alive and conscious, based in a spiritual reality that goes beyond the senses, and beyond even the intellect, is coming increasingly to the fore. If, as most cultures from ancient to modern times attest, everything is at heart a spiritual entity, expressing itself in a way appropriate to the level of consciousness it has evolved forth, then each entity has its unique inner purpose, its dharma or duty, and its raison d'être.
We are, in fact, children of Mother Earth and reflect its makeup in our own. Our consciousness draws upon the larger being of the planet, just as we physically depend on elements originating from the body of the earth. All the evolving lives which form the planet partake of its spectrum of consciousness, and they are linked even more closely inwardly than they are physically. We perceive our physical actions and their effects, but our thoughts and feelings also have a great impact on the corresponding portions of the earth. Problems such as pollution, destruction of the environment, and warfare are easily seen as manifestations of our selfishness, greed, and insensitivity reflected onto the material globe; but in the same process what energies must humanity have built up in the psychological portions of nature? And what will the consequences for mankind and the globe be when these forces have their full effect?
We have no way of knowing what type of consciousness the earth has as an entity, any more than an atom could perceive whether it helped to form an animal, a plant, or a rock. Yet as an organism of some kind, the earth as a whole is bound to be affected by the disharmony caused by the human kingdom, just as an imbalance in our being -- whether centered in the psychological, organic, or cellular level -- affects us and can even lead to sickness or death.
To live in balance with the rest of earth's kingdoms we need to turn our consciousness from the taking end of life and start thinking about contributing something of value to the various wholes to which we belong: our family, community, nation, species, and planet. While we necessarily utilize the other kingdoms of nature to sustain us, we can have a different attitude toward them: one of respect, of kindliness, of gratitude for the sacrifice members of these kingdoms make for our well-being, a conscious recognition that their contribution to the whole as important as our own. -- Sally Dougherty
"Are We Part of a Spiritual Ecology?" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: How can we under-stand the unity and diversity of life, and our relationship to all around us? Does the web of life include psychological and spiritual dimensions? Are life and consciousness byproducts of organic structures, or found everywhere? Is the totality of our "self" in some sense an ecosystem, or a microcosm of the larger systems we help to form? In what ways have the invisible realms of existence and consciousness been explored through the ages, what has been discovered, and how can it help us in our lives? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
Upcoming TopicsFebruary 9: Creating Ourselves
The topics for the monthly discussions are chosen by members of the Northwest Branch. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, or if you have ideas or suggestions about the meetings, please do not hesitate to email or mail them to the Branch or to mention them after the meetings.
Over the plains of Hindustan, as over the Himalayas and their differentiated provinces of Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet, dwells the brooding presence of an ineffable greatness. During the course of millenniums the purifying thoughts of unnumbered generations of rishis and yogins have been poured out there until today these regions of the world are really holy, their rivers sacred, their trees and plants, their soil and rocks, and the very atmosphere enveloping them emanate a hidden glory; and he who can harmonize himself with this glory becomes transfigured.
All holy places, in varying degrees, have been made holy by that same occult power of mind to change the psychic character of the atom of matter; they are the ripened fruit of spirituality, the proof of thought's all-conquering and all-transforming supremacy. Thus, in every center of holiness the seer beholds in manifestation the magic of the Divine Sakti which, when it shall have invaded and possessed every locality, will literally have made of this material plane of existence a terrestrial paradise. If through Ignorance man has lost Paradise, through Wisdom man can regain Paradise.
Once the magical control of mind over matter has been successfully accomplished, the place so favored is, like radium, radioactive for ages afterward. Even now a spiritual essence enhaloes every crumbling fane of a long lost culture. It is present at Stonehenge and Avebury in England. It pulsates amid the Alignments of Carnac in Brittany as a direct inheritance from prehistoric days when Carnac was a far-famed place of pilgrimage for the Druid-led Gauls of Western Europe and perhaps of all of the Mediterranean basin. It lives in the ruined site of the Great Mysteries of Eleusis, in the deserted mountain-shadowed vale of the silent Delphic Oracle, and in Abydos and the other mighty temples on the Nile. It is active in the Cathedral of Canterbury, in St. Peter's in Rome, as in St. Paul's, built upon the site of the ancient temple to the British god Lud, in London. It belongs to no race and to no religion.
One who is able to feel environment knows that there are places not only of positive holiness, but places of positive evil also. And each site of an ancient as of a modern city is enveloped in its own mind-woven aura of accumulated thought-forms. So, too, are the world's battlefields, where hatred and worldly ambition have had fruition, where the blood and flesh and bones of incalculable multitudes throughout the ages have moldered into dust.
Oxford is Oxford, Paris is Paris, or Harvard is Harvard; and no school or college or famous seat of learning is or can become quite like any other because of the distinctive thought-forms bequeathed to it by its own teachers and students, day by day, year by year, century by century. Likewise, every household, though it be of the simplest peasant, accumulates its own psychic character from the thoughts of those who dwell within it. Nor is this power of shaping environment man's prerogative alone; every thinking thing, visible and invisible, god or man or sub-human creature, exercises it.
The Wise Ones who bequeathed to us the Maitri Upanishad knew well the power of mind over environment; they knew, too, that as the sowing is so shall the harvest be for the individual, for the nation, for the human race. Their words of warning, which long ago should have been written in letters of gold over the portals of all the temples and schools and homes of men, were these:
"Nought else the whole world is than one's own thought.
With effort one should therefore cleanse the thought,
For what one thinketh that doth one become.
And this is the eternal mystery."
If, then, consciousness or mind be, as the great teachers tell us, the one ever-enduring reality, and the architect of environments, of worlds, of universes, immeasurable and marvelous knowledge awaits scientists of the future when they turn to the study of environment in relation to mental activity. Every thought of man and of all thinking things has left its record in the secret archives of time; and through the doors of the womb there will come occidental scientists who will interpret the mind-molded symbols and, thereby, make unparalleled advance towards the mystery of being itself.