August 2006 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the August 2006 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
Living Together as Friends
By Radha Burnier
Reprinted from On the Watch-Tower in the July 2006 edition of The Theosophist
Several newspapers have published information about the ‘Garden of Eden’ found in New Guinea, where an astonishing number of creatures presumed to be extinct still exist in hilly jungle-covered areas. This is not a sensational piece of news coming from journalists; it is reported by a team of experts who surveyed the region and found as many as forty new species, and expect to identify more. One of the scientists, as quoted in a newspaper report, said:
It is an example of what the whole of New Guinea was like fifty thousand years ago, when there was no hunting, no impact of logging, and no environmental desecration. There are very few places left on earth where there has been so little human impact.
Another researcher declared: ‘It is as close to the Garden of Eden as you are going to find on earth.’
The human population in that hot and humid area is extremely small and no one interfered with this primitive, forested part of the country. This was evidenced by the fact that many animals showed no fear of the scientists who were surveying: ‘Two long-beaked echidnas, a primitive egg-laying mammal, allowed the scientists to pick them up and take them back to their camp to be studied.’ What a thrill it must have been to find this treasure house of Nature, and what a disaster it may be if the publicity attracts greedy people to this wonderful haven for God’s creatures. In Borneo, which, like New Guinea, is part of the Indonesian archipelago, similar untouched forests are being razed in order to set up palm plantations, and numerous newly discovered species will be destroyed, according to environmentalists.
While delivering a lecture on ‘Man’s Place and Function in Nature’ (see Wake Up India 1997-98 issue), Annie Besant spoke of man’s place and function in Nature as they are, and as they should be, the two being different. She believed humanity’s role, being at a more evolved stage of evolution, is to take responsibility for less evolved creatures and help them to advance -- of course consistent with the perspective of an ultimate spiritual goal. ‘Under the direct guidance of the Teachers, man was put in charge of the lower evolution of the planet.’ He was made a kind of director or superintendent under the spiritual hierarchy of the world.
Whether the reader wishes to accept and consider Dr Besant’s view or not, attention should be given to the fact that man has not proved to be a kind of elder brother to lesser forms of creation, but has shown an inclination to use animals, plants, and everything on earth for his own benefit, ignoring their needs and development, and the balance of Nature.
As has been found recently in New Guinea, animals are naturally innocent, trustful, and even affectionate and helpful. Many dogs, for example, display these qualities, but human beings have found ways of inculcating other traits in some breeds of dogs and other creatures, resulting in their becoming different: suspicious, ferocious, and inimical to man. Annie Besant says:
He does not seem to have succeeded in imprinting the last touch of brutality on the wild animal. It will not hunt for itself unless it is hungry. . . . It is curious that the love of killing for amusement seems to grow with what is called civilization; the savage, if taken in his lowest types, hunts only for food.
The result of man’s habit of looking down upon and ill treating animals can be seen the world over:
Everything that would have loved us flies from us; all things of woods and fields and forests and jungles flee before the footsteps of man. We hear still of a few places in the world where this does not happen, and sailors tell us of new lands they visit where innocent creatures cluster round them, fearless and curious.
Not only are animals ready to be friendly with man, but in spite of the cruelty inflicted on them worldwide, they naturally also show the desire to be helpful. I have recently been informed that the San Francisco Chronicle (15.12.2005) had reported on a whale which was entangled in a web of traps and lines that had wound round every part of her body, as she struggled to keep afloat. Seeing this a fisherman radioed an environmental group and a rescue team arrived. The only way to save her was to dive in and untangle the network of ropes around her, which took a few hours, and could have been dangerous for the rescuers. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles, and she then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them, pushed them gently around -- she thanked them! Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives.
Many less dramatic examples can be cited of animals which show appreciation, fidelity, and other touching qualities in their relation to human beings, who are often so hard-hearted and ungrateful. Should not human beings reconsider, in the light of modern knowledge, their relation to ‘lesser’ creatures -- animals and plants?
In the above-mentioned lecture, Dr Besant also comments on holy men whom all living things love and regard as friends. These include St Francis of Assisi, Indian yogis walking safely through tiger-and-snake-haunted jungles, and, much more recently, the monks at the Tiger Temple in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi province, who have adopted sixteen tigers, saved when as cubs they lost their mothers. The Hindu, one of India’s major newspapers, carried in its issue of 19 April 2006 a touching picture of a loving monk with his arms around two adult tigers, while facing a third one. They live in peace and friendship, which should indeed mark all our relationships.
There are also many instances brought to our notice through press releases of animals helping or rescuing members of a different species. One recorded instance is about a baby hippopotamus swept by the tsunami into a river in Kenya and carried into the ocean and back to shore with the giant waves. He was found by wildlife rangers, in a dehydrated condition, ‘pining for his lost mother’. They transported him to the Haller Park in Mombasa, where he was befriended by a giant male tortoise, whose name in Swahili (the local language) means ‘Old Man’. The little hippo, when released into the enclosure, lumbered towards the tortoise, and the pair became inseparable. One of the park ecologists told Reuters: ‘After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized; it had to look for someone to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat, and sleep together.’ Such bonds have existed even between cats and dogs, which have proverbially been considered to be enemies.
Another piece of news issuing from Thailand, told about the friendship formed between a one-year old cat and a four-year old monkey, who became both mother and playmate. They were allowed to live in a temple north of Bangkok, because both monkeys and cats have been traditionally welcomed and fed in temples by monks and visitors alike. Such friendships abound, but generally we are not ready to widen our circle of kinship by cultivating goodwill and affection for people and species unlike ourselves.
Let us make an effort to realize that we human beings are part of a larger life which includes animals, plants, and even minerals. Then the day will soon come when as the Bible says:
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD. (Isa. 65:25).
The Doctrine of Cycles &
The Lost Continents of
Theosophy teaches us that the scheme of evolution of which our Earth forms a part is not the only one in our solar system, for ten separate chains of globes exist in that system which are all of them theatres of somewhat similar progress. Each of these schemes of evolution is taking place upon a chain of globes, and in the course of each scheme, its chain of globes goes through seven incarnations. The plan, alike of each scheme as a whole and of the successive incarnations of its chain of globes, is to dip step by step more deeply into matter, and then to rise step by step out of it again.
Each chain consists of seven globes, and both globes and chains observe the rule of descending into matter and then rising out of it again. Furthermore, in each incarnation of a chain (commonly called a chain-period) the wave of divine Life moves seven times round the chain of seven planets, and each such movement is spoken of as a round. The time that the life-wave stays upon each planet is known as a world-period, and in the course of a world-period there are seven great root-races. These are subdivided into sub-races, and those again into branch-races. All this must be awfully confusing for new students. In order to help the student understand a little better, Chong Sanne will conduct two special lectures for members. One will be on the fundamentals of the Doctrine of Cycles and the other, some glimpses of the lost continents of Lemuria and Atlantis based on clairvoyant investigations. Don’t miss the first of these lectures on Saturday, 26 August 2006 at 4 p.m.