June 2008 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the June 2008 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
What do we Pioneer?
Reprinted from On the Watch-Tower in the May 2008 edition of The Theosophist
In the old days there were many in the Theosophical Society who believed that the members of the TS had a pioneering role. Some knew that this was not a question of remaining where one is, or doing what everybody else does; nor was it a matter of wearing clothes which other people did not wear, or living a special kind of life. We are speaking about the attitude of members of the TS, who are very serious about their lives, which must move forward and not remain in the rut into which most people fall.
Humanity deteriorates as time proceeds, unless people begin to think afresh. A tendency to lose character and the humanitarian impulse which began with great ideas, can deteriorate. Pioneering means moving forward to be what man has not known before. This idea was strong in the Theosophical Society, and there is no limit to this, because people can join those who are ahead, provided they think in terms of what humanity can be, and are themselves ready to move in that direction.
Some of the things that we think of now are all right up to a point, but our relationship with Nature and with the rest of creation is not. At present we have almost no relations with other creatures; we think that man is separate and superior, and that everything else exists for him to use. This is wrong from the wider point of view, because all things are linked together in unity. The bacteria which we think of as having little value are as closely linked to us as are the great beings who have proceeded beyond. To have that in the background of consciousness is to be a Theosophist; otherwise one is not. That state is very necessary for pioneering: to be one with Nature, to be aware of the wonderful variety it produces. We may destroy everything on earth at a great rate, and put an end to its vast processes. On the other hand, we can treat everything with respect, even the smallest creature as well as those great beings who have proceeded further than we have.
In the Sikh religion one of the things that is taught is the state of wonder. Do we feel it sometimes, we can ask ourselves; or get so used to everything, including the marvel that enables all creatures to acquire new tendencies and new possibilities around us, that there is no wish to act? Each one of these is a model, even if it does not appear to be so. Take a little insect, which seems alone on this earth. Those who examine its life and its constitution are in a state of wonder, like A. O. Wilson, who has written about ants. The ant may seem like a non-entity to us. We kill them with insecticides and think nothing of it. But the ant is a wonderful creature, and Nature does wonderful things with small objects.
What is our relationship with Nature, if we have a relationship at all? If we think that Nature has to be repressed, or encouraged in accordance with our fancies, we may have no relationship with it! But if we wait and wonder we will see everywhere around something like a miracle; the earth, the sky, the stars, the movement of the great planetary beings, everything is a miracle. There are a few who study this, but if we cannot study more, can we then look and wonder at the great things that Nature accomplishes?
Then we can look at ourselves. What is the individual in creation? Everything is individual, the insect as well as the human being. Each will grow into something beautiful, wonderful, and glorious, as the Bhagavadgitā says. All that has been created is beautiful and wonderful when understood, and the individual has to grow in that direction, not grow in competence, in money or in fame. There is inside ourselves a possibility of knowing what we are, not only in the ordinary way but spiritually, for spiritually we can grow into a being we have not been before.
One of the important things in the spiritual life is to abandon the concept of oneself. This is very difficult. It is based first of all on the physical body. But that is not of importance, being a temporary thing. But what am I really? To discover this is part of our work as members of the Theosophical Society.
So we have spoken about two things, to know the universe with the heart, not just know it intellectually, like reading in an encyclopedia how many kinds of spiders there are; and to think we understand more of the universe and of Nature. But if we can feel that here is something created by a power that we cannot really understand at present, and to look at it with wonder, with no other feeling intervening in the mind, the spirit of wonder wipes away the other thoughts. So can we look with wonder at even simple things, a plant growing out of the earth, and so on?
The future is something which we cannot imagine, but we have to stretch our minds to think of the future, not only of ourselves, but of all life. Perhaps there was something comic, but also something very valuable in the Theosophical concern which existed about the future civilization and about man’s place in it. For example, in that civilization hardly any time is spent in cooking. If you think of the present day, we are absorbed to a large extent in food: cooking, going to restaurants, finding different things to eat, and so on. But the new individual is not interested in that, he is interested only in keeping his body in good condition.
The implication of that is what the human being can do if he were really free of this activity in daily life. He has much more time to think, to take pleasure in the vast arena of Nature, to allow his own consciousness to flower. In future civilizations which Leadbeater describes — we need not worry about how far it is true — this element is important, and people will have much more freedom, physically and inwardly; and when we have that kind of freedom what shall we be doing? It is difficult to think of it now because so much of our life is engaged in physical things, which have little importance. We think that every little thing is important, but actually, whether we do something is not so important; the capacity to do the right thing in the right way is important.
Many people thought of a future civilization very personally and therefore it became a subject to be laughed at. But we are all citizens of a future civilization. It will include different types, because they have certain common features. The people will be much more conscious of the absence of time, like a flower opening up.
Can one say a flower is at its best when it is a bud, when it is growing, when it is opening, or when it is completely open? That is what it means to be awake to the fact that we are living in a world which is beautiful, glorious, and wonderful, awake to growth into great beauty, into qualities which belong to the spiritual rather than the material side.
On reading The Mahatma Letters we cannot help knowing that time does not mean the same thing to Them at all. Time is really illusion. There is a vast field beyond what we know and can see in the here and now of the physical world. The mind of the human being is capable of breaking out of such limitations. That is what Theosophy really leads us to. It is a view of things which takes a person beyond what he knows, to a different field, and this is part of the pioneering that Theosophists are expected to take up, our whole attitude towards life being that of people who are opening like a bud to become a blossom.
Extract from the Preface
to ESP of Quarks and Superstrings, 1996
Despite the triumph of scientific rationalism (indeed, perhaps as a reaction to its success), interest in the paranormal has never been stronger. The world-wide success of the TV series The X Files has stimulated the fascination of the general public in UFOs, ghosts, dreams about the future, psychic healing and a host of other paranormal abilities and phenomena. The waning power of institutional religion to influence what people think has given many permission to believe many ideas once regarded as heretical (e.g. someone may regard himself as a Christian yet believe in reincarnation). Whilst still strongly defended in some quarters, the philosophy of scientism, namely, that everything is scientifically explainable (or else it cannot exist!) has been repudiated by many people with first-hand experience of the paranormal who remain unconvinced by the naive arrogance of some scientists who confidently pronounce that psychic phenomena always have conventional explanations. But in their rush to embrace unorthodox ideas, ‘New Age’ enthusiasts all too often ignore the issue of whether strong, scientific evidence really supports their unconventional beliefs. The result is that the debate about the paranormal has become polarised into two irreconcilable camps, each accusing the other of either gullibility or unreasonable scepticism.
However, real paranormal experience may be to its percipient, such anecdotal evidence of abilities that contradict the scientific view of the brain as the seat of consciousness remains unconvincing to scientists ever aware that chance misobservation or misreporting might have played some part in creating a false impression that the experience was a psychic one. To eliminate these uncertainties, parapsychologists have conducted under controlled, laboratory conditions, numerous double-blind tests of paranormal abilities such as clairvoyance, telepathy and precognition. Successful though some of these experiments have been reported to be, they still have not convinced sceptics, who always seem able to find some methodological flaw in their design which – however trivial and irrelevant – affords them the excuse to reject what, statistically speaking, were highly significant results.
Does this impasse mean that attempts to establish irrefutable proof of paranormal phenomena are doomed to fail – not because the latter do not exist but because there will never be unanimity among scientists over whether such evidence has been provided? Does the reality of paranormal powers of the mind have to remain – like religion or politics – a matter of opinion and unresolved controversy? My book analyses a body of evidence for a psychic ability which is so rare that even most parapsychologists are unfamiliar with it but whose remarkable consistency with scientific facts unknown to anyone at the time can have no other explanation than it was genuine. Recognised in yoga as one of the eight major “siddhis,” or paranormal abilities, that can be acquired by the practice of yoga, it is the faculty to observe microscopic objects beyond the resolution of human eyesight. Over a hundred years ago, the Theosophists Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater claimed to have used this power to examine the structure of atoms and their constituents. Their book, Occult Chemistry, which compiled the results of their clairvoyant investigations into matter, was ignored for many years by scientists fearful of venturing into occult territory traditionally banned from scientific enquiry. In my book Extra-sensory Perception of Quarks I analysed what Besant and Leadbeater claimed were psychically observed atoms of the first twenty elements in the chemical periodic table in terms of simple facts about their nuclei and what is known about quarks, the particles making up the protons and neutrons inside nuclei. A year earlier, my scientific paper proposing a unified theory of particles and forces other than gravity had been published in the physics journal Physics Letters B. My theory predicted that quarks are not fundamental (as most physicists believe) but are composed of three more basic particles that I called “omegons”. As my analysis of Occult Chemistry implied that Besant and Leadbeater had paranormally observed such “subquarks” as well as quarks themselves, I decided to identify these scientifically undiscovered particles as omegons. But I emphasised in my book that, if my theory of omegons proved wrong, this would not invalidate my explanation of the hundreds of observations of subatomic particles appearing in Occult Chemistry, because my analyses of what Besant and Leadbeater assumed were atoms, did not use any specific property of subquarks predicted by my model, only occasionally and incidentally referring to the electric charges +5/9 and –4/9 (in terms of the charge of an electron) of the two types of omegon my theory predicted to comprise up and down quarks.
“Modern science is our best ally. Yet it is generally that same science which is made the weapon to break our heads with.”
What is God?
Since the beginning of time, God is an integral part of humanity. The belief in the existence of God is central to man’s life and culture. Most people believe in the existence of God in one form or another, the relatively few exceptions being the atheists and the agnostics. The former deny or disbelieve the existence of God while the latter hold the view that nothing can be known of the existence of God or of anything beyond material phenomena. In other words, barring those few exceptions, mankind has a firm belief in God. However, one’s perception of God may differ dramatically from another. Some believe that there is only one God, others believe in an entire pantheon of Gods. Religionists further demarcate their Gods and demand faith that divides humanity into different sects. Some believe that their Gods have human attributes and are capable of being angry, jealous and being offended. Some believe that their Gods have to be perpetually praised and reminded of Their own Greatness. Others believe their Gods could be placated and ingratiated with offerings in return for prayers to be answered. Some people are inculcated since young to be God-fearing. Others are reminded that only those who believe in their Gods can be saved and non-believers will suffer eternal damnation. Every tradition seems to have its distinctive God. Can there be a different God exclusively for a specific religion? Can any religion have an exclusive claim to the only ONE GOD? If not, what is God?
On 14th June 2008 at 5 p.m. our Hon. Secretary, Lily Chong, will give the theosophical view of God based on the comments of the Great Adepts and prominent theosophists including H. P. Blavatsky, C. W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant. Don’t miss this interesting talk.