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Founded by Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu (meaning: ‘The Old Master’) 2,500 years ago and developed by Chuang Tzu and Haai Nan Tzu. The Tao means ‘The Way’,ie: the substance/creator of all things. Today Taoism has approximately 30 million followers mainly in China and South East Asia. It is a non-dogmatic philosophy based upon the book by Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching (meaning: The Way and its Power). It is up to each person to find ‘’The Way’, the energy of the Universe, the path of the Universe. If you picture life as a river, you are no different from the river, you are the river, if you obstruct the flow of the river you fight the irresistible force of the Tao current creating imbalance and disharmony in your life.

 

Major Concepts:

 

Wu Wei: meaning: ‘Non-Doing or ‘Non-Action’ or, more accurately, right action in accordance with The Way and not being attached to the results of our actions. Action by non-action, by not trying to fight the characteristics of who we are, our own intuition, handle what comes up in front of us, don’t dwell on the past and be in the flow of the Universe. The only way to understand the Tao is through the intuition (Tzu-Jan: literally the laws of nature)), this attitude does not discriminate but responds immediately and spontaneously.

 

Simplicity: it is best to be simple, modest, humble, and non-ambitious and go with the flow of the natural order – the Tao, as the Taoists say: ‘Having less or more’.

 

Spontaneity: be spontaneous, react to the situation in front of you, life is a moment by moment experience, so be in that moment. Don’t spend your energy regretting the past or fearing the future.

 

Managing Desires in Small Steps (Kaizen): Lao Tzu, affirms that people who take less will always have more. People with insatiable desires end up becoming obsessed with the object of their “affection” which tends to throw their energies, and their thought processes, out of control. To Lao Tzu, greed without limits constituted the worse of the vices. If you work towards being content with what you have, you would find that you already have enough to be happy. One can easily reach Peace of Spirit when you limit the amount of desires to manifest in your life. Lao Tzu says: “The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, the more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the Sage is to act but not to compete.” But how do you get to this point of detachment from desires when modern society is pushing indulgence constantly? Taoism advises that it is always better to deal with facts and situations while they are small, before they become bigger and more difficult.  If one is planning to reach a big goal, one should establish a series of small steps that would guide one safely to the destination.  This is essentially the principal of Kaizen: progress through small increments. As Lao Tzu says: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

 

God: little discussion of God as He/She/It is undefinable, not understandable by humans – so why waste time discussing these questions endlessly? Don’t get in the way of the Tao by indulging in such intellectual debates. Some Taoists believe in God, some are atheists, some followers of other religions.

 

The Three Treasures: Sexual Energy, Spiritual Energy, and Emotional Energy – being in tune with these energies allows you to be with the Tao.

 

Yin and Yang: the Taoist symbol shows that there is always light and darkness, male and female energy, spirit and earth. Yang is the active principle and Yin, the principle of rest or stillness. The interaction of these two principles engenders the phenomenal world which is relative and changing unlike the permanent Tao from whence it is derived.

 

Hierarchy of Forces: the highest is the unmanifest Tao, next the primordial Chaos, next the Three Officials or Three Heavenly Worthies/Pure Ones -The first Pure One is universal or heavenly chi (life energy). The second Pure One is human plane chi, and the third Pure One is earth chi. Next comes a vast array of Gods inhabiting the nine heavens, followed by demons, humans, animals, etc. These need to be placated and kept in balance through rituals, meditation, and the control of earthly desires thus enabling a person to manifest the Tao in their lives. When this happens, you achieve:

 

Immortality (Chen-Jen, or ‘true human’): goal of all Taoists. This is not necessarily the preservation of the body but the achievement of spiritual enlightenment or Transcendence. Taoists believe that there are many men and women that have achieved such Immortality and that it is perfectly possible to become one if you follow Hygiene and Dietary Disciplines, Breathing techniques, Circulation of the ‘Inner Breath’, Sexual self-control, Moral actions and attitudes.

 

Buddhist Concepts: Karma, Reincarnation, Monasticism and Celibacy derived essentially from Buddhism are accepted by many Taoists.

 

Sects: Taoism developed gradually into a fully religious movement in the second century AD with the Way of the Great Peace (Tai-p’ing Tao) and the Way of the Celestial Masters (Tien-Shih Tao). In the fourth century AD the Mao-Shan sect and the Ling-Pao sects evolved which concentrated on immortality and end-of-the-world predictions. Since then many other sects, rituals and forms of Taoist magic have developed. The White Cloud Monastery in Beijing is a fully functional Taoist temple and is the seat of the Chinese Taoist Association. Taoism survives strongest in Taiwan where priests receive ordination from the Celestial Master, they conduct exorcisms, healing, community services of thanks-giving, inauguration of temples, training of Taoist priests , etc.

 

In essence, Taoism encourages us to go with the flow of life, having non-action in your life, acceptance, don’t dwell on the past, don’t worry endlessly about the future – live life, be happy, be kind to others and yourself – including your flaws, your history – these are all aspects of the Tao – decide what you are going to do right Now!

Islam is the second largest religion in the world with an estimated 1.7 billion adherents representing 23% of the world’s population. It is the fastest-growing religion in the world and second largest religion now in Europe. Most Muslims live in South-East Asia with only about 20% in the Middle East where the religion began. Islam is an exclusively Monotheistic religion requiring its believers to submit to the all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-merciful God – Allah. Along with the other major Monotheistic religions, Judaism,  and Christianity, Islam believes in Angels, Satan, Prophets, Revelation, moral accountability and responsibility, divine judgement, eternal reward and punishment. Thus for Muslims, Islam is the fulfilment and completion of earlier revelations. There is one Islam revealed in the Koran and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, but Islamic tradition and heritage reveal many interpretations of Islam, some complementing each other, and others in conflict.

Islam: means to ‘Submit’ or ‘Surrender’ to the commands of God found in the Koran.

 

Muslim: means one who submits to the will of God.

 

Allah: means the One transcendent God, creator, sustainer, and ruler of the Universe.

 

Muhammad: The Prophet and founder of Islam based on the commandments of Allah. Islam recognizes 25 prophets before Muhammad including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The Prophet Muhammad is seen as the latest of these prophets from Allah. He is the final prophet charged by Allah to bring humanity back to the one true religion with a worship of complete submission to an all-powerful God. Muslims are forbidden to worship the Prophet. He was human and chosen to communicate the commandments of Allah to humanity via the intermediary of the angel Gabriel.

 

Koran: The Holy Book of Islam which represents the final revelation to humanity dictated by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic language.  The Koran is the literal word of God comprising 114 chapters (Suras) and 6236 verses in Arabic. All prayers from the Koran must be said in Arabic.

 

Hadiths: different accounts of Muhammad’s life and application of the commandments given in the Koran. Ethics, morals, parables, based on The Prophet’s life are viewed as a guide to enacting the Koran in real life. Some Hadiths are viewed as better sourced in The Prophet’s life than others.

Shariah Law: a legal system based on The Koran and Hadiths. Iran and Saudi Arabia practice Shariah Law and some other countries have aspects of Shariah Law within their existing legal systems.

Ummah: the community of believers.

 

Kaaba: cube-like structure covered in black cloth in the holy city of Mecca which contains the Black Stone. This was a holy place pre-Islam and according to Muslim history, was cleansed by Muhammad and continues as the holiest shrine in Islam today. Every Muslim is expected to visit it once in a lifetime if their situation and health permits such a pilgrimage.

 

The Five Pillars of Islam:

 

  1. Shahadah: Faith: give yourself up to faith in Allah. There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is the messenger of Allah.
  2. Salah: Prayer: a Muslim should pray in a prescribed manner five times per day facing the city of Mecca.
  3. Zakat: Charity: Muslims are expected to give away a certain proportion of their wealth to those who are less fortunate.
  4. Sawm: Fasting: In the month of Ramadan Muslims are not allowed to eat between sun-up and sun-down. This is to remind Muslims of hardship and obedience to Allah.
  5. Hajj: Pilgrimage to Mecca: every Muslim should make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives if their circumstances and health permit, so that they can pray at the Kaaba, touch the Black Stone kept therein, and take part in the ritual of stoning the Devil.

 

Jihad: literally means ‘to strive’ or ‘struggle’. Jihad implies the obligation to follow and realize God’s will: to lead a virtuous life and too extend the Islamic community through preaching, education, example, writing, etc. ‘Jihad’ involves an internal struggle with ourselves to realize God’s will. It also includes the obligation to defend Islam and the community of believers from aggression. Despite the fact that ‘Jihad’ is not supposed to include aggressive, offensive warfare, as distinct from defensive warfare, this has occurred throughout history.

 

Major Sects:

 

Sunni: those who believe that Abu Bakar (Muhammad’s father-in-law) the first Caliph, or leader of Islam, after Mohamed was the legitimate leader. Sunni Muslims adopted the belief that leadership should pass to the most qualified person, not through hereditary succession. Sunni Muslims make up 85% of the world’s Muslims;

 

Shia: those who believe that Ali, Muhammad’s first cousin and Muhammad’s closest living male relative, was the Prophet’s legitimate successor. He eventually became the fourth Caliph after 35 years. The differences between Sunni and Shia do not have to do with religious dogma but, rather, are political, concerning the qualifications for the head of the Muslim community;

 

Sufi: the mystical sect of Islam.

 

History of Muhammad and Islam:

 

570CE: the birth of Muhammad in the city of Mecca, in what is now Saudia Arabia, into an upper-class family. Orphaned as a young boy, lived in the city and the desert, visited Syria as a boy and interacted with a Christian monk who had a great influence on him. He identified with the Abrahamic lineage. Abraham was the father of Judaism and Abraham had two sons Isaac and Ishmael. Muhammad’s lineage goes through Ishmael. Muhammad heavily influenced by Judaism and Christianity and he believes that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus were prophets and Islam respects Judaism and Christianity as ‘people of the book’. As an adult, Muhammad was a merchant and arbitrator in Mecca. He married at the age of 25 to a wealthy widow merchant aged 40.

 

In 605CE Mecca was a pilgrimage site for pre-Islamic Gods mostly derived from the Mesopotamian pantheon of Gods. People would have a pilgrimage to the Kaaba and during renovations to the Kaaba they took out the sacred Black Stone and could not agree who should put it back again so Muhammad was called upon to arbitrate.

 

610CE: the first of many visions in the Hira Cave where Muhammad was praying, visited by the angel Gabriel who is a central figure in Islam as the intermediary between man and God. Muhammad to become the great prophet to speak to man as the instrument of God to teach people to submit to the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-merciful Allah. Muhammad was seen by the people of Mecca to be an obstacle to the lucrative pilgrimage trade of polytheists to Mecca and as a false prophet of monotheism.

 

622CE: Muhammad was driven out of Mecca to Medina. This is the Hijrah or Exodus from Mecca to Medina where he is welcomed as a uniter. This Exodus is so important that it is marked as the beginning of the Islamic calendar and all Muslims started the practice of praying towards Mecca instead of Jerusalem. Muslims at this time had their first city in Medina.

 

In 630CE Muhammad leads 10,000 followers back to Mecca and lays siege to the city which is successful and he walks into the city as its new leader. This is tremendously important for the future of Islam as it can be seen that politics, the military and religion have never been separated in Islam as they have been in Christianity and Judaism. In Mecca Muhammad destroys all pagan images and statues in the Kaaba which now becomes the exclusively holy place of the Muslims.

 

632CE June 8th : Muhammad dies aged 62 years in Medina. In the following years, under the first four Caliphs, or rulers of Islam the Muslim empire grows rapidly with extensive military campaigns against the Christian Byzantine and Sassaneid Empires saw an incredibly rapid expansion of the empire and millions brought to the new religion by the power of the sword, convinced by heavy taxation on idols, or impressed by the power of Islam over local deities. Following these conquests Muslim culture flowered with centres of learning, academic research, and the preservation of knowledge from many parts of the world which later paved the way for the Renaissance in Europe.

 

Like members of other faith communities, Muslims in the 21st century face the challenge of defining the role, meaning, and relevance of Islam in both public and private life. Often, we focus on radicalism and extremism, but a deeper and more pervasive struggle exists between the conservatives and reformers, mainstream Muslims and extremists. Its major issues include the relationship of state to society, the role of Islamic law, the status of women and non-Muslims, the compatibility of Islam and democracy, and relations with the West.

 

How can I possibly make a difference to this suffering world?

Should we rush out and volunteer for service in the developing countries, or shout religion and theosophy from the roof-tops! Most of us are not in the position to do anything dramatic about many of the world’s problems. We have families to feed and ever increasing mortgages to pay, and the world is already full of people promoting their religious ideas all over the place! Theosophy tells us there is one enormously effective thing anyone can do to quietly assist the positive forces trying to relieve suffering in the world.

It is simply this – doing the duty before you no matter what your station in life, and thinking right thoughts can make a big difference. Making a sincere effort to live the ‘Golden Rule’ – doing unto others as we would have them do unto us – is within the reach of everyone and is a most powerful way of helping. How can this be you say? Surely we must be doing something more spectacular than this?

Living in a ‘Thought Atmosphere’

Theosophy teaches that our every thought and emotion impacts our fellow humans, and all other kingdoms of life. The quality of our thoughts for good or bad creates an atmosphere of dynamic ‘thought-forms’ around us individually and the entire world which reflects the general quality of human thought-life – the ‘thought atmosphere’. Quite literally there is a ‘continent of thought’ floating around us all the time to which we are adding with the quality of our thoughts.

How is this possible?

One of the Masters of Wisdom who founded the Theosophical Society comments:

“… every thought of man upon being evolved passes into the inner world and becomes an active entity by associating itself — coalescing, we might term it — with an elemental; that is to say with one of the semi-intelligent forces of the kingdoms. It survives as an active intelligence, a creature of the mind’s begetting, for a longer or shorter period proportionate with the original intensity of the cerebral action which generated it. Thus, a good thought is perpetuated as an active beneficent power; an evil one as a maleficent demon. And so man is continually peopling his current in space with a world of his own, crowded with the offsprings of his fancies, desires, impulses, and passions, a current which reacts upon any sensitive or and nervous organisation which comes in contact with it in proportion to its dynamic intensity. — Margaret Conger, Combined Chronology, p. 33

The Effect of Thoughts on the Astral Light

Our thoughts and emotions automatically register on the Astral Light surrounding us and the Earth. There are cyclic times when there are openings or ‘thinnings’ between the astral and physical worlds. This can happen at the conjunction of cycles – such as at the present time. Then the contents of the astral world can find their way back into the physical world. This can affect sensitive people when the mostly negative thoughts and impressions of generations of conflict and exploitation which form the substance of much of the thought-life of humanity are reflected back on people living in the world today, eg. People suffering from depression or other forms of mental illness, people tempted to commit crimes, drug affected individuals, and people under extreme stress – and effect their behaviour in everyday life.

What one IS, is therefore is vastly important.

OK! But What Can We Do Here and Now?

Balance our emotions: maintain a balanced outlook and not give way to feelings of hopelessness — either about ourselves or about the future of humanity. The debilitating influence such moods have on us infects the vital circulations of thought-energies through our planet. Too much is at stake for any of us wantonly to add negative thinking to the world karma!

Use the power of visualization to balance negativity: when gloom or despondency creep into our minds, immediately conjure up their opposites and thus initiate a new quality of energy. The influence of this new thought- current will in time prevail, and we can feel a new sense of purpose, a new joy in our everyday duties.

Give the duty at hand the fullness of our attention: if it seems impossible to lift our mood the next best thing to absorb ourselves in the duty at hand. In this way we will become self-forgetful of the negatives weighing us down. We will charge our atoms with a lightness and generosity of feeling radiating outward in terms of our attitude to others.

Start with brotherliness to our own family: if we have trouble feeling good feelings to others, start with such feelings to our own family and then think of others in our circle in the same positive way, and thus gradually widen the circle of unconditional love outwards towards others.

We Must Start With Ourselves

We cannot eradicate selfishness and greed in the world unless we root them out of our own character. Such an effort takes lifetimes to achieve but that’s no reason not to start right now – and everyone can do this no matter what our circumstances. By such efforts we strengthen the pathways to the Higher Self and by so much we illumine ourselves and our surroundings.

As the Buddhists say: ‘The flowers come into bloom when the sage walks through the garden’ or in India there is a saying: ‘The bees come of their own accord in search of honey when the flower is in full bloom.’

These thoughts were expressed beautifully by the American civil rights leader MARTIN LUTHER KING Jnr in 1963 when he said:

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction … The chain reaction of evil – hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars – must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

What About The Starving Millions?

These are fine sentiments you might say, but what about the starving and suffering millions we see on the TV news every night? Surely something practical has to be done? We can all do what we can to practically support those brave individuals who are helping in our own and in war-torn countries far way. But the truth is most of us are not qualified or don’t have opportunity or money to help out as we would like to do. While many of us may not be able to do much in a practical way to better material conditions, there isn’t one person who cannot contribute unselfishness in the world through their attitudes at home or to needy neighbours and in such ways strengthen the light forces in the world.

When we are overburdened by the enormity of suffering endured by so many, we can encircle the globe in consciousness supporting in thought and heart those individuals practically helping in those countries. This helps our own state of mind and helps relief workers along inner planes.

“… Seeds sown in good soil take root in the fullness of time. So too, thought and aspiration born of selfless yearning to ease the sorrow of man result in deeds, if not through ourselves, then through others karmically favoured to bring to fruition what we envisioned….” – Grace Knoche.

A Reservoir of Spiritual Force

Theosophy speaks of a Brotherhood of enlightened individuals who labour in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive hearts – called by various names in different cultures – Mahatmans, Ascended Masters, Masters of Wisdom, Sons of the Sun, Kahunas, Ankh (The Living) – and their helpers in the outer world. They are constantly working to alleviate suffering in the world and guide us forward on the path of spiritual evolution. However, Theosophy teaches that they can only work with the ‘reservoir’ of karma that has been put there for this ‘manvantara’ (cycle of activity) and that is all there will be – unless we add to it. It is therefore vitally important that we have a responsibility self-consciously to direct our own spiritual evolution and to contribute to that ‘spiritual reservoir’ of positive energy that is available for the Masters to use.

The Power of the Reservoir

The power of simple spiritual energy coming forth from the heart of a sincere and compassionate person when it adds to that reservoir of spiritual force which the Masters of Wisdom only can use, and nothing more than we send there, is so great when it finally breaks through on the outer plane of ordinary life that we have not the slightest possible conception of the results that are given and received by the average ‘man in the street’.

The results of our quiet efforts of good will and living the Golden Rule will be felt by our fellowmen as a spiritual strength and a guidance, however unconscious it will be to them, that will lead our civilisation a real step on the pathway towards the Masters of Wisdom. To the extent that we reach up through the quality of our thoughts and aspirations to these representatives of the ‘Hierarchy of Light’, is the extent to which they in turn can reach ‘down’ and assist our faltering footsteps along the path of spiritual evolution.

Our Individual Duty

As our former Leader Jim Long said during a lecture tour of Europe:

“Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom.”

Our Possible Future as Co-Workers with the Masters of Wisdom

If we try and live this philosophy, we may qualify one day to be co-workers with the Masters of Wisdom in their compassionate work transforming the root causes of human suffering to an enlightened future for humanity. The Hidden Reality or Hidden Knowledge which they teach is a living philosophy for all the reasons we have mentioned in this article. Neither a religion nor a philosophy, it is a practical way of life based on intuitive knowledge and inner guidance where everything about oneself, about others, and about matters outside of oneself is placed under constant study and observation for the purpose of mastery in all aspects of life.

The fraternity of illumined individuals emerging from these initiatory trials – the Masters of Wisdom – labours in the quiet to stimulate the creative impulses in receptive minds and hearts. The spiritually enlightening movements we see working outwardly in the world today, and others that remain unseen, are but the tip of an immense spiritual effort which has been in existence for many millions of years, and prior to that in previous world cycles.

This network of these enlightened teachers and their helpers still exists, and the realization of a universal fraternity, hand in hand with the spiritual enlightenment of humanity, remain the “aspiration of the true adept”…

“And we will go on in that practical work of ours; we will not allow ourselves to be baffled in in our philanthropic attempts until that day when the foundations of a new continent of thought are so firmly built that no amount of opposition and ignorant malice … will be found to prevail.” – The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, pp. 17,51.

What Future for the World? Building a New Continent of Thought

Suppose that an increasing number of altruistically-minded people were to direct their aspirations toward high thinking and unselfish deeds, inevitably sufficient power would be generated to effect a spontaneous transmutation of humanity’s life patterns – from narrow self-interest to largeness of compassion.

If we simply, sincerely, and wholly offer our best, impersonally, we will be helping to build bridges leading to that new continent of thought which the Masters of Wisdom and their servants strive to achieve throughout the long ages. – compiled from the writings of Grace F. Knoche and James A. Long.

Further Reading:

This article is based on Grace Knoche’s book: To Light a Thousand Lamps especially the chapter: A new continent of thought, available in print from our Melbourne library or free online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gfk-lamp/lamps-hp.htm

James A. Long: 1951 European Tour Report online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/jal-1951/jaltour-hp.htm

James A Long: Expanding Horizons available from our library in Melbourne or online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/exphoriz/ex-hp.htm

 

If you wish to contact the author please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

 

A four-and-a-half year-old boy who had just been reprimanded by his father once responded angrily: “In the past, when I was grown-up, I was your dad and you were still a child.” The father told his son that he could know nothing of such things, because he hadn’t yet been born. To which the boy replied: “Later, when we are grown up, you will be little, and when you are grown-up again, we will be little.”

 

Reincarnation Defined: Reincarnation has always been a controversial subject. Many people nowadays are giving it serious thought and realize that in one short life it is impossible to learn everything about ourselves and the universe. They also wonder why there is so much misery in the world. They are no longer satisfied with religious explanations about heaven and hell and are searching for more inner truth.

 

According to ancient teachings that form the basis of later religions, the human ego returns at some point to earth after the change we call ‘death’ and a long period of rest in other realms, where we process our past life. Reincarnation allows us to learn new lessons on earth, where our ties of sympathy and friendship, but also of antipathy and hate, are revived.

 

While some people live to a ripe old age, others die very young. What is the purpose of all these lives if we are merely temporary phenomena in an immense universe? Are we here simply by chance, because now and then life originates here and there in the cosmos? Death often feels like a big hole that we fall into when we die; if reincarnation is true, however, it is something we have experienced many times. Humans die every day, as do animals, plants, stars, and whole solar systems. Do they all simply dissolve into nothing, for no reason at all?

 

Thinking about these issues is the only way to discover a certain logic in the idea of reincarnation. Knowledge of it enriches us because it leads to an inner change, an ‘inner alchemy’, and if we change the world changes too.

 

Some parents have said that when they look at their own newborn children, their eyes look back as if reflecting heaven. Consider the achievements of ‘wonder children’, such as Mozart. Such children must have brought such gifts with them from somewhere. The purity of many children, and their unconditional love for their parents and others, indicate that they are recalling a much purer period of existence.

Reincarnation and Karma: According to the doctrine of reincarnation, everyone is responsible for everything they do and say. Thoughts are elementals, some of which are born within us, while others are drawn from the thought reservoir of the planet. All our actions, words and thoughts have consequences – our karma. In other words, what we sow we will someday have to reap, in this life or in a future life.

 

Our responsibility for all our actions is something we need to handle consciously. That is probably why reincarnation was removed from the Christian scriptures, though if you read between the lines, the Bible still contains statements pointing in this direction. By abolishing the concept of reincarnation, our individual responsibility for our deeds is transferred to a religious institution. This makes it possible to acquire power of those individuals, and if you add a few dogmas, this creates dependence on a particular faith.

 

But we humans are not dependent on any ruler. Even ‘God’ would never want to oppress us or act as a dictator in our lives. What’s more, this innermost core of life is in essence ourselves. It is our deepest self and connects us all. We are all ‘god sparks’, ‘sparks of cosmic fire’, ‘droplets in the universal ocean’. Cosmic consciousness is made up of the innermost essence of all beings, whatever their physical form.

 

Reincarnation is inseparable from karma. In addition to our individual karma, there is our family karma, national karma, group karma, and the karma of our earth, our solar system, and even our universe. It is through karma that we incarnate in a particular family and country with the right parents, though those who do not get on well with their parents might find this difficult to understand. Consciously, or unconsciously, we are all co-workers with the universe and possess a large measure of free-will.

 

Reincarnation and Suffering: Many people wonder why there is so much suffering in the world. It is sometimes hard to comprehend what people go through in their lives. There are countries where the most terrible things happen. Seeing images of such suffering sometimes causes a strong feeling of powerlessness. It is impossible to help everyone on this earth, so it is important to think carefully about what we do.

 

Many countries donate money, especially after major disasters such as earthquakes or tsunamis. On a smaller scale, they provide clothing, medical assistance or help with building homes and schools. Seeing all this suffering is already a lesson for people who are materially better off, because our response is a deliberate act that we do for others, a deed of love and respect for our fellow human beings. But people may also need help in our immediate environment, even though it doesn’t get mentioned in newspapers or on television. The important thing is not to close our eyes to the suffering of others, and do whatever we can.

 

The major and minor lessons in our lives apply to both those who suffer and those who see people suffering and lend a helping hand. In both cases, an inner transformation occurs, a growth in consciousness. By understanding the true purpose of our present life and subsequent lives, we acquire increasing insight into the inner realms of life. Our freedom as human beings entails a high degree of responsibility for all the living things around us, including animals, plants and the earth as a whole.

 

Every choice we make, individually or collectively, will have consequences. These consequences may affect entire nations, or entire families, and either bring people together or drive them apart. It is therefore very important to think carefully about what we do. That doesn’t mean we can suddenly become perfect. But every effort to improve ourselves is a step in the right direction.

 

Reincarnation and the After-Life: According to some religions, we only have a single life on earth and afterwards go to a sort of paradise. They also say that there is a God, a sort of personal being of the male sex, who lives in heaven, where he welcomes people who have been good, who can stay with him for the rest of eternity. Meanwhile, bad people go to hell, a place of fire and suffering, to which they are condemned for eternity, without any chance to change themselves.

 

This scenario raises a number of questions. What are the people in heaven going to do all that time? You might feel blissful surrounded by beauty, love and angels, but in the long run I think it would be excruciatingly boring. As for the people in hell, it would be very sad if they were never to be given a chance to change and learn. I think that belief in heaven and hell creates a real ‘death’, because there is nowhere else to go, and in my view that would be real suffering. In heaven you are sweetly cradled to sleep, while in hell you are consumed forever by those horrible flames.

 

Heaven and Hell are really states of consciousness created by our own actions. Here on earth our life is determined by our deeds, by the person that we have been and that we now are and that we will become in the future.

 

Reincarnation and Ethics: Another viewpoint is that when we die, that is the end of it all. People who believe this are known as Atheists. They often live that one life for all it is worth. This sometimes means they are very egocentric and believe that some people are simply lucky while others suffer misfortune. They also believe in Darwin’s theory that humans descended from the apes. They believe in the law of the jungle, that those who are strong, smart and healthy will prevail. This can lead to a very competitive attitude in their personal and social lives.

 

If reincarnation is a fact, and if we realize that we ourselves cause many things pleasant and unpleasant, that we encounter, we would be able to create a different world together. As the old saying puts it, ‘to improve the world, we must begin with ourselves.’

 

Perhaps it is a good idea to consult the ‘child in ourselves’, for that pure and receptive being is still present within us. We are in essence one with the universal primordial principle, droplets that together form the great ocean of life, and all of its splendid possibilities are therefore contained within each one of us. – Rita Houthuijzen, Holland – published with permission of the author from Impuls newsletter June 2014.

 

If you wish to make a comment on this lecture or contact the author, please email: andrewrooke@hotmail.com

Man needs inwardly, in order to live his daily life, to be, as if he had settled or eliminated the great question that concerns his state.

            Everyone, whether they are aware of it or not, lives by a personal system of metaphysics they believe to be true.

            Hubert Benoit (The Supreme Doctrine)

            …and whether we ‘know’ it or not., (author).

            20th century physics has demonstrated that the ‘things’ and the ‘substances of the universe’ are without known exception, composed of atomic and subatomic ‘particles’ or ‘waves’.

            The nature of these ‘particles’, in so far as they can be observed and measured, is Movement, that is –Energy.

            Because of the word ‘particle’, it is very easy to form an idea of some ‘thing’ incredibly small, which is energised. But there is no ‘thing’ which ‘has’ the energy. The so called ‘particle’ or ‘wave’ Is the energy-movement.

            Some of the movements occur in millionths of a second.

            It is a peculiarity of these movements that if their position is measured their simultaneous speed cannot be known and if the speed is measured, the simultaneous position cannot be known. This situation is not because of the lack of sophistication in the measuring devices, but is inherent in ‘the nature of things’ at this basic level.

            It might be likened to a camera in which the light aperture is connected to the shutter speed in such a way, that setting the speed blurs the light focus and setting the light focus blurs the speed.

            The significance of this is the realisation that there can be no such thing as ultimate determinism, because if the left hand of science knows what it is doing, it can’t say what the right hand is doing, and vice versa. The particles (on the other hand) seem to have solved this difficulty.

            There is an experiment in which a photon (the atomic unit of light) is split to produce two units which fly off in opposite directions at the speed of light.

            According to relativity, it is impossible for either photon to contact the other by any means whatsoever. Yet, when one of them is influenced by an electric field the other photon registers the interference.

            The relatively recent ‘Chaos Theory’ highlights many examples of inter-action between apparently discrete event in space and time, which clearly demonstrate the inseparable relationships between ‘parts’ of the Whole.

            In poetic language: “There’s not the plucking of a flower without troubling of a Star.”

             The photon experiment and many others open doors to the possibility that the energy movements called ‘particles’ or ‘waves’ could in fact be the energy movements of a world mind.

            Let us imagine the surface of an ocean with billions of tiny ripples.

            The ripples might be thought of as ‘separate’ but they are, of course, simply the ocean movement and are of one substance. The sea water.

            It could be said, that the ripples are ‘all of one mind’.

            The term ‘Mind” is an apt one. It signifies presence without visibility or tangibility. It is measureless in dimensions and can not be said to ‘occupy’ space.

            How much space is needed to contain a concept?

            Is it more correct to say that mind is in space or that space is in mind?

            It might be said that space is the ‘form’, which mind takes.

            Michael Talbot in his book “Mysticism and the New Physics”, writes: “But we now must suspect that every point in the human brain is connected (via the ‘quantum foam’) to every other point in the universe.”

            Note that the brain as a ‘physical’ object could not possibly be physically connected to every other point in the universe.

            The brain, as well as everything else, emerges out of ‘Mind’.

            Mind is not a product of a brain and Mind could well be universally ‘present

 to the endless diversity of its own expressions, which we collectively call Nature.

            One of the philosophies greatest conundrums, has been to decide whether everything is Mind or Matter or a mixture of both.

            Like many problems, which seem to defy resolution, the fault is in the posing of the question, which in this case has assumed, that Mind and Matter are opposites.

            Whoever made the comment: “Well, Never Mind, No Matter”, was close to attitudes of today’s scientists who see Mind and Matter as two aspects of One phenomenon and which can be called “Consciousness” – – an aspect of mind.

            At the beginning of the chapter, the reader was reminded that ‘things’ and chemical ‘substances’ are complexes of energy.

            Energy functions as vibrations, which can be very slow or unimaginably fast. The vibrations are designated as ‘frequency rates’ and constitute the characteristics of all manifestations.

            Almost everyone has seen Einstein’s famous equation: E = MC2 (Energy = mass times the speed of light squared.)

            There is another famous equation which non technical people would perhaps never come upon.

            It establishes the profound nature of frequency.

            Called Planck’s Constant, it is a universal.

            The symbol is ‘h’ and the equation is E = hv.

            (Energy = the frequency of radiation (v) times Planck’s constant (h). The value of ‘h’ is: 6..625 * 10-27 erg seconds.

            10-27 is (a minus one – followed by twenty seven noughts) this is multiplied by 6.625. It represents an Energy – Time – event so unthinkably small and yet so precise. It can provide an insight into the astonishing reliability operating in the warp and weft of the universe.

            The lower frequencies manifest the Matter spectrum and the higher frequencies are experienced as the activity of the Mind.

            Lower and higher are technical terms – not indicating superior, inferior.

            Though Mind and Matter are two aspects of one phenomenon.

            The principle must be called Mind, because matter is mind in its most condense mode.

            The Mind of Man reflects the Universe which reflects the Mind of Man. More and more statements of a like nature are finding their way into science books and journals.

            The ancient Yin-Yang symbol the Tao, is an excellent representation of a wholeness, which expresses itself as an apparent duality, but the Yang factor always has an element of Yin and the Yin factor always has the element of Yang.

            If this is the case, which seems obvious, there is no such thing as non sentient matter, but only a position on the Mind spectrum indicating the potential to interact with the ever-changing environment – the ever unfolding World Mind.

            Not the intelligence of someone, but the quality itself:- Intelligence.

            Wise scientists have said, that they don’t pretend to know where the material or energy for the Big Bang came from, that their work is concerned only from the instant of the Big Bang occurrence.

            Some will say, that the question is as pointless as asking “Where did God come from, assuming that there is a God?”

            Here we are at the beginning and end of Metaphysics.

            The question is: “Why is it, or How is it, that there is Not absolutely nothing… no space – no time – no light – no darkness – no sound – no movement – no energy for ever and ever?

            And of course there would be no “Ever and ever”.

            This is a consideration of the highest value because out of meditation on this question of questions can arise the tremendous impact of the fact that nothingness can not be.

            The origin of Beingness, a Presence which is for ever a mystery without solution.

            Buddhists call it Suchness, Hindus call it Thatness: when Moses asked for a Name of the Authority sending him on his mission, the reply was “I AM WHAT I AM”.

            A statement of pure Beingness without further definition.

            Beingness as the ultimate mystery, the ultimate Source, must in a very real sense be the all in all, but its expression can be seen at different ‘levels’ and in different ways.

            Beingness would necessarily radiate all over “aliveness”, which would be simultaneously everywhere, like the heat and light of the Sun on planet Earth, this fundamental radiation is most likely to constitute a play of the fundamental ‘particles’ already discussed, which might be likened to the permanently active expressions of intelligence.

            Intelligence, which is the In-form-ation of the particles.

            They in turn perform their incredible ‘Dance of Shiva’, producing atomic structures of every kind, subject only to the nature of Intelligence itself.

            Metaphysics often requires expanded definitions of certain words.

            Intelligence for example, in the Cosmic context, barely resembles our day to day use, which is usually directed to particulars and personal behaviour.

            Cosmic intelligence is more like an influence, which might be likened to the overseeing of order.

            But the events or things to which the overseeing applies are not dictated.

            It is free creation Order or Laws which can be seen throughout the whole spectrum of Creation.     

            The Source (Being), radiates an all encompassing Energy, which scientists might be partially reading, when observing the nature and behaviour of subatomic particles.

            The Particles are not “Things” which ‘have ‘energy – they Are Energy.

            As the ripples on the surface of the ocean.

            Visually they might seem separate, but they are only the ocean.

            The ripples are of One substance which can be likened to Cosmic Intelligence. Just as water can be experienced as a liquid, ice, a solid or steam, so Cosmic Intelligence can be experienced as a solid Matter (ice-Water), or as Mind (steam, liquid, super heated gas).

            Matter is Mind in its most condensed state.         

            So in Metaphysics, there is no dualism of Mind and Matter, but Mind only, which is the imaginative creative movement of intelligence.

            The Energy events carry the quality potential of the Beingness.

            But as pointed out also from the beginning, this metaphysical understanding requires an ‘awareness’ at every level of manifestation.

            Risking the limitation of analogy again, (although analogies should come very readily in a universe of a metaphysical wholeness), Being can be likened to a Sun of unconditional energy, which unconditionally radiates itself throughout space and time.

            Its radiation carries the quality of intelligence which serves to prevent Chaos without meaning.

            The power of illumination can be likened to the quality of consciousness which ranges from the slightest degree of warmth or movement to the blinding white hot perception of the ultimate Mystery.

            In the unfolding creation consciousness would be first a state of experiencing without memory or anticipation.

            From a human point of view this barely seems to warrant the term “Consciousness”, but like the spectrum of Mind, consciousness can range through every degree of its presence, to the apparent opposite of Unconsciousness. But again like non sentient matter, there can not be unconsciousness.

            The question of Consciousness and Unconsciousness are dealt with fully in the teaching of the Indian Vedanta.

            Just a by the way thought: How can consciousness say: “I have been completely unconscious”, when if it had been completely unconscious, there would have not been present any consciousness or memory to make it aware of that fact?

            This situation implies the Presence that transcends unconsciousness.

            Using the word ‘Awareness’, for a state which can transcend conscious/unconscious, makes it prior-in-principle in the sense that Awareness is not dependent on any particular parcel of consciousness, whereas there can not be particularised consciousness without the presence awareness.

            Empty, silent mind is pure consciousness.

            The only manifestation of full self consciousness we know of on this planet is Man.

            It seems a waste of time to disagree that Mind is not brain.

            But until very recently Science staunchly maintained that non sentient matter was the origin of the universe and all ‘things’ on this planet including man.      

            And so extraordinary explanations have been devised in attempts to make non sentient Matter the source of creation.

            It has been proposed that the astonishing cavalcade of Galaxies, Quasars, Suns, Planets, and all life varieties from earth worms to Avatars, the incarnation of a Deity, have come about by the same production principles as would be the case if 20 million monkeys working 20 million typewriters for twenty million years produced the works of Shakespeare.

            It is never explained whether this is achieved by taking useable word from each monkey and then allowing more monkeys to collate the words in correct sequence. Would they have then proceeded to produce the authors in correct time space sequence by swapping their typewriters for chemistry sets?

            Or who would do the punctuations?

            But if everything rides on probability, the monkeys would have exactly the same chance of coming up with the works of Goethe, Tolstoy, Dickens and Dostoyevsky, or any and every other known bit of writing and language ever conceived.

            The situation gets sillier at each question but at least one more must be put.

            “From where, oh where came the 20 million monkeys and their typewriters?

            Or was it two hundred million? (See the big bang theory.)

            The difficult step on the mind matter spectrum is to know whether anything at all can be said to ‘exist’ if there is no awareness, objective or subjective.

            That is, if sub atomic events are not events of ‘experiencing’ and are not being registered in any other consciousness, how can they be said to exist?

            The traditional answer is that non sentient matter can exist in its own right without necessity for any kind of observation.

            But this statement involves putting one’s own mind back into the picture and imagining the object or event as still there.

            In the 19th century, Bishop Berkeley was maintaining that objects did not exist as such until perceived by a Mind.

            A contemporary wrote a verse to the effect, paraphrase:

            It seems exceedingly odd

            that the old Yew tree simply ceases to be

            if there’s no one about in the quad

 

This in turn provokes the comment;

 

            That the old Yew tree continues to be

            is not so exceedingly odd

            Because I am always about in the Quad, Yours truly God.

 

            If the term World Mind is used instead of ‘God’, the actual situation might be easier to appreciate. Remember that the World Mind is not “Out There”.

            We are not in the World Mind, we are OF it.

            The eye with which we seek to see the World Mind, is the same eye which the World Mind seeks to see us.

            Full consciousness simply means the state of being able to say… “I know that I exist.”

            Rene Descartes’ famous deduction: “I think, therefore I am”, seems to have confused the true order of things. He first had to be, before he could think.

            Thinking did not produce Being.

            He might as well have said: “I eat therefore I am.”

            There is no particular function, which can precede being.

            Thoughts are phases of consciousness, which is a phase of Mind, which is the activity of Intelligence – the manifestation of the supreme Mystery.

            It has to be constantly remembered, that all this is a result of attempting to verbally understand the unfoldment of a seamless Unity.

            And verbal understanding is not an understanding at all in the sense that the map is not the territory, the sign post is not the journey.

The above is the text of a lecture presented at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Melbourne, Australia. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena).