Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre
664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne,
Victoria 3162 AUSTRALIA
No: 94 April 2008
Leader: Randell C. Grubb
Homepage : www.theosophydownunder.org
Why is reincarnation necessary? – William Q. Judge.
Heavens and Hells: Part 2: Kama Loka, Second Death and Devachan – Andrew Rooke.
Poetry Corner: The River – Vanessa Craven.
Slow Dance – Anonymous.
Theosophy in Practice: How can we be generous? – Andrew Rooke.
What does Theosophy have to offer? – Sally Dougherty.
Poor Mockingbird – Katinka Titchenell.
WHY IS REINCARNATION NECESSARY?
William Q. Judge
When we first hear about reincarnation, we may naturally say to ourselves, “Where’s the proof? Why is all this necessary? I only know of this one life, so why speak of others?” Let’s consider the following comments from theosophical author William Q. Judge. Theosophy teaches that Reincarnation is necessary because:
(a) Only through reincarnations can knowledge of human life be made exhaustive. A perfected man must have experienced every type of earthly relation and duty, every phase of desire, affection, and passion, every form of temptation, and every variety of conflict. No one life can possibly furnish the material for more than a minute section of such experience.
(b) Reincarnations give occasion for the development of all those faculties which can only be developed during incarnation. Apart from any questions raised by Occult doctrine, we can readily see that some of the richest soul-acquirements come only through contact with human relations and through suffering from human ills. Of these, sympathy, toleration, patience, energy, fortitude, foresight, gratitude, pity, beneficence, and altruism are examples.
(c) Only through reincarnation is the unsatisfying nature of material life fully demonstrated. One incarnation proves merely the futility of its own conditions to secure happiness. To force home the truth that all are equally so, all must be tried. In
time the soul sees that a spiritual being cannot be nourished on inferior food and that any joy short of union with the Divine must be illusionary.
(d) The subordination of the Lower to the Higher Nature is made possible by many earth-lives. Not a few are needed to convince that the body is but a case, and not a constituent, of the real Ego; others, that it and its passions must be controlled by that Ego. Until the spirit has full sway over the flesh, the man is unfit for a purely spiritual existence. We have known no one to achieve such a victory during this life, and are therefore sure that other lives need to supplement it.
(e) The meaning of Universal Brotherhood becomes apparent only as the veil of self and selfish interest thins, and this it does only through that slow emancipation from conventional beliefs, personal errors, and contracted views which a series of reincarnations effects. A deep sense of human solidarity presupposes a fusion of the one in the whole -- a process extending over many lives.
(j) Desire for other forms of earthly experience can only be extinguished by undergoing them. It is obvious that any one of us, if now translated to the unseen world, would feel regret that he had not tasted existence in some other situation or
surroundings. He would wish to have known what it was to possess rank or wealth or beauty, or to live in a different race or climate, or to see more of the world and society. No spiritual ascent could progress while earthly longings were dragging back
the soul, and so it frees itself from them by successively securing and dropping them. When the round of such knowledge has been traversed, regret for ignorance has died out.
(g) Reincarnations give scope for exact justice to every man. True awards must be given largely on the plane whereon they have been incurred, else their nature is changed, their effects are impaired, and their collateral bearings lost. Physical outrage has to be checked by the infliction of physical pain, and not merely by the arousing of internal regret. Honest lives find appropriate consequence in visible honour. But one career is too short for the precise balancing of accounts, and many are needed that every good or evil done in each may be requited on the earth
where it took place.
(h) Reincarnations secure variety and copiousness to the discipline we all require. Very much of this discipline comes through the senses, through the conditions of physical life, and through psycho-physiological processes -- all of which would be absent from a post-mortem state. Considered as training or as penal infliction for wrong done, a repeated return to earth is needful for fullness of discipline.
(i) Reincarnations ensure a continuous advance in the successive races of men. If each new-born child was a new soul-creation, there would be, except through heredity, no general human advance. But if such child is the flower of many incarnations, he expresses an achieved past as well as a possible future. The
tide of life thus rises to greater heights, each wave mounting higher upon the shore. The grand evolution of richer types exacts profusion of earth-existences for its success.
…The production of a pure, rich, ethereal [human] nature through a long
course of spiritualizing influence during material surroundings [reincarnations]
is illustrated in agriculture by the cotton plant. When the time arrives that it can bear, the various vitalities of sun and air and ground and stalk culminate in a bud which bursts apart and liberates the [soft white cotton] ball within. That white, fleecy, delicate mass is the outcome of years of adhesion to the soil. But the sunlight and the rain from heaven have transformed heavy particles into the light fabric of the [cotton] boll. And so [in a like manner] man, long rooted in the clay, is bathed with influences from above, which as they gradually pervade and elevate him, transmute every grosser element to its spiritual equivalent, purge and purify and ennoble him, and when the evolutionary process is complete, remove the last envelope from the perfected soul and leave it free to pass forever from its union with the material. It is abundantly true that "except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Rebirth and re-life must go on until their purposes are accomplished…
…Theosophy … shows that reincarnations are the law for man because they are the
condition of his progress…
[Compiled from Echoes of the Orient Vol.3 pages:71-75. You may also be interested to read ‘Reincarnation: Questions We All Ask’ on the Theosophy Downunder website]
Meetings in Melbourne April to June 2008: at our shop at 664 Glenhuntly Road, South Caulfield on:
SATURDAY, APRIL 5TH at 2.30pm: Harry Potter versus Voldemort - film clips from the Harry Potter movies with theosophical commentary on the Bodhisattva ideal - presented by Andrew Rooke.
SATURDAY, MAY 3RD at 2.30pm: Basic Propositions of the Secret Doctrine by John Van Mater Snr. – presented by Tony Downey.
SATURDAY, JUNE 7TH at 2.30pm: The practice versus the theory of theosophy – Charles Reither.
The Vishnu Purana and The Voice of the Silence on CD: The library in Melbourne recently added two volumes of the rare Indian religious classic Vishnu Purana to the library. The Vishnu Purana is mentioned in HPB’s The Secret Doctrine as an important source, particularly for information on the Kali Yuga period that we are currently experiencing. Also recommended listening are CD’s of HPB’s classic The Voice of the Silence, her last book of advice for serious students of the wisdom tradition. Our thanks to the kind donor of these library materials.
New on Theosophy Downunder website: our website is at: www.theosophydownunder.org New features of the website are: ‘Theosophical History’ – for those that want to know about the history of our Society in Australia and internationally; ‘Questions We All Ask’ – short answers to questions on basic teachings of Theosophy; ‘Theosophical Diagrams’ – visual representations of Theosophical teachings. New lectures and articles that have been added to the site since our last newsletter include: ‘The Power of Magnetism’, ‘What is the Inner God?’ and ‘Tulkus Avatars and other high spiritual teachers’ all by Clive Bellgrove; ‘The Beatitudes and the Resolution of Conflict’ by Sam Duband; ‘Akasha and the Akashic’ Record by A. Norman Rooke; ‘Ancient Egyptian Religion’ by Jennifer Pignataro; ‘The Secret Doctrine by HP Blavatsky: what does it all mean?’ by John P. Van Mater; ‘The Heart Doctrine: Intellect versus Intuition’ by Stefan Carey; ‘What is Theosophy?’ by various authors from the Australasian Section, ‘Evolution: some basic ideas from Theosophy’ by Frank Walter; ‘Is it possible to live a good life according esoteric principles in a tough world?’ by Roza and Margarita Riaikkenen.
HEAVENS AND HELLS: PART 2: KAMA LOKA, THE SECOND DEATH AND DEVACHAN.
We conclude our series on theosophical teachings on the after-death states. Please see the diagram of these teachings attached to this issue of the newsletter, which could be helpful understanding this complex subject:
Kama Loka: is a Sanskrit phrase meaning “desire-world” into which the human constitution is projected after physical death. It is a semi-material plane or realm, invisible to most, but not all human beings, which surrounds and encloses our physical world. It is the dwelling place of the astral forms of dead men and other dead beings variously referred to in the legends of ancient Greece as “Hades” and “Amenti”, the land of silent Shadows, by the Egyptians.
When the physical body breaks up at physical death, the astral elements of the excarnate entity remain in kama-loka or the shadow world. If our tendencies during earth life have been on balance spiritually inclined, we can shed aspects of our lower nature which remain and dissipate in this “purgatorial” or “limbo” state following the “Second Death”.
If, however, an entity is so weighted with evil tendencies and attracted to earth spheres that it cannot easily rise to the heaven worlds, then it remains for a longer period in Kama Loka and may even sink to the dread Avici state and below that to the Eighth Sphere or Planet of Death there to be ground over in nature’s mills to begin the evolutionary journey towards true humanity again.
Descents into the Kama Loka and the states and locations even below this state are described in the world’s literature and traditions most beautifully perhaps by Dante in his Inferno, and are attempts to describe real states or locations of purgatorial experience for the soul we usually associate with a hell.
Second Death: thankfully, lengthy sojourns in these hellish realms are usually the exception in human experience. In most cases, the higher aspects of a human being are successful in bringing about the separation of the “Upper Triad” from the “lower Duad” (Kama-Manas). Previous to this event, the upper Duad, gathers unto itself the “Reincarnating Ego” which is all the very best of the entity that was – our purest and most spiritual and noblest aspirations and hopes and dreams for betterment, beauty and harmony. (hence the importance of concentrating on these things during life). The ancient Greek philosopher and initiate priest of the Delphic Apollo, Plutarch, says of this process: “Of the deaths we die, the one makes man two of three, and the other, one out of two.” What he meant was that using the simple division of man into spirit, soul and body: the first death is the dropping of the body, making two out of three; the second death is the withdrawal of the spiritual from the lower (Kama Rupic) soul, making one out of two. The seeds of the lower elements remain in the Reincarnation Ego as it enters the heaven worlds. Later these will develop into what we recognize of a person in the material worlds when we enter incarnation once again.
Divested, or more accurately, having ‘shaken off’ our lower aspects, the enduring spiritual aspects of our constitution can rise into the heaven worlds. Theosophy uses the Sanskrit – Tibetan word Devachan to describe the “heaven” experience of most human beings.
Devachan: means the “god-land”, the state between earth lives into which the human entity, the human monad, enters and rests in peace and blissful repose. I have heard that the highest aspects of our constitution, fly back to their home star, hence the old Roman epitaph “gaudeat in astris” meaning “he rejoices amongst the stars”.
Devachan is the most accessible of the heaven worlds so let’s talk about this blissful state. There are many degrees of Devachan and therefore many heavens ranging from the highest Kama-Loka to blissful states beyond our understanding. Devachan is the fulfilling of all the unfulfilled spiritual hopes of the past incarnation, and an efflorescence of all the spiritual and intellectual yearnings of the past incarnation which in that past lifetime have not had the opportunity for fulfilment. It is a period of unspeakable bliss and peace for the human soul, until it has finished its rest-time and recuperation of its own energies, ready for the challenges of another lifetime.
It is a state of blissful dreaming reviewing, and constantly reviewing, and improving upon the most spiritual lessons and yearnings of the past lifetime. Though described as a state of dreaming, sages also describe it as vividly more real to the entity in the heaven worlds than our life is to us in this material world (described as illusory or “maya” by the Hindus). It is a time of incorporation and assimilation of the spiritual and enduring lessons we have learnt in any one lifetime as is sleep in our regular sleep/waking cycle in everyday life. Gradually, this process is completed, old memories, wants and desires from previous lives stir in the heart of the entity blissfully dreaming in the heaven worlds and the process of reincarnation is begun.
If we had more time, we could perhaps discuss other subjects such as the even more blissful state of Nirvana and the responsibility of those who approach this high heaven world. What about the Tibetan teaching that the moment of death holds great importance as an opportunity for enlightenment? These are wonderful and complex subjects however a more down to earth consideration may be – how real are these realms and what do they mean to me here and now? Let’s turn to the Tibetans themselves for an answer to this question as they point to the reality of the teaching of the six realms (the heavens, hells, human and animal kingdoms) for us in our behaviour each day. The following is from the wonderful book by Sogyul Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, pp. 112-113:
“Do these realms actually exist externally? They may, in fact, exist beyond the range of the perception of our karmic vision… Looking at the world around us, and into our own minds, we can see that the six realms actually do exist. They exist in the way we unconsciously allow our negative emotions to project and crystallize entire realms around us, and to define the style, form, flavour, and context of our life in these realms. And they exist also inwardly as the different seeds and tendencies of the various negative emotions within our psychophysical system, always ready to germinate and grow, depending on what influences them and how we choose to live.”
A quote from Manly P. Hall on death and after:
“There are people who search for lost treasure at the bottom of the sea. When they go to work they put on a heavy rubber suit and boots with lead in the soles. They then clamp on a helmet with a glass window in front. Into the helmet runs a tube which is connected to an air pump at the surface allowing them to breathe fresh air. A rope is fastened to the diver’s body by which he is pulled up at the end of the work. The leaden boots are so heavy that he can hardly walk when he is on the boat’s deck, but when in the water the pressure and density enable the diver to get around easily. At the bottom of the sea he does his work and searches for lost treasure. Man is like the diver, the heavy suit is the physical body and the sea is the ocean of life. At birth he takes on the diving suit, but his spirit is always connected by a line to the light above. He descends to the sea bottom of sorrow and mortality that he may find the hidden treasures of wisdom. Wise men realise that what we call life, is only one trip to the bottom of the sea. We have been down many times before and we must come down many times again before we find the treasure”.
[from: Death to Rebirth, p.4.]
There is a river of love,
And it flows right by your door,
Its course is unending,
Its source lies within,
There is a river of love.
O, drink from the river and share your love,
With a world that’s full of hate.
There is a river of joy,
Bubbling past your door,
You can hear its voice,
As it overflows its banks,
There is a river of joy,
O, drink from the river and share your joy,
With the man who’s down and out.
There is a river of peace,
And it gently flows your way,
Its voice is so gentle yet you can hear it say,
“I am the river of peace”!
“My peace is everlasting, it satisfies the soul,
O! Drink from me restless one.”
“I am a river and I want you to know,
You can drink and satisfy your soul,
Then go and share it with your brother, and your sister…”
Let the whole world know!
Vanessa notes how ‘The River’ was written: "I was sitting in my room at Uni in India (Lucknow to be precise), and 'doodling' with my guitar when the words and music for this song came to me. I had recently begun my spiritual journey, hence the birth of this song. India is a land full of rivers, hence the analogy used here. Rivers are a life giving source. In a spiritual sense, flowing forever from the heart of God and providing us with the sustenance, and the wherewithal to live our lives in harmony on this planet. The choice is ours - to 'drink' from this life giving source and fulfil our obligations to mankind as well as 'top up' personally for our own spiritual welfare and journey".
anonymous poem written by a teenager with terminal cancer
Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to rain slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun into the fading light?
You better slow down don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask, “How are you?” Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores running through your head?
You'd better slow down, don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.
Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch let a good friendship die
'Cause you never had time, to call and say, 'Hi'
You'd better slow down don't dance so fast.
Time is short. The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere,
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift ... thrown away.
Life is not a race do take it slower
Hear the music,
Before the song is over.
We wish to extend our thanks and appreciation friends around the world who send us their newsletters. We encourage you all to read them as they are kept in our library in Melbourne, or photocopies can be sent. They include: Impuls (Netherlands), Contact (South Africa), The 21st Century Path (USA), Theosophy North-West View (USA), Kali Yuga Rag (USA), San Diego TS Newsletter (USA), Compass (England).
THEOSOPHY IN PRACTICE: How can we be generous?
We continue our series of articles on the practical application of Theosophy looking at each of the ‘Paramitas’, or qualities required for enlightened living as listed by the Tibetan Buddhists. You may remember that the Paramitas as listed by the Mahayana Buddhists of the Dalai Lama’s school of teaching are as follows: Generosity; Ethical Discipline; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; and finally Wisdom.
Let’s look in greater detail at ways in which can we be generous in a materialistic world:
Picture this, the phone rings or someone knocks on the front door when you are busy serving dinner to a hungry family, and they ask you for money for a charity. What do you do? The world we live in is incredibly rushed and there always seem to be people putting their hands out for money when we are all finding it hard to make ends meet paying mortgages, school fees, and the like. The pressure of life today can certainly undermine one’s sense of charity when the doorbell rings at the ‘wrong’ time! Yet, theosophy says that it is a requirement of enlightened living that we develop a sense of generosity. How can we do this given the conditions that most people live in today?
Firstly, for those of us living with family responsibilities, we obviously need to place the family first. We cannot naively give everything away at the expense of our own family, even to needy people who come into our lives. But this is exactly what many people do when they become seriously committed to try and live according to the Paramitas.
In Hinduism they speak of ‘Artha’ or material prosperity as being a real responsibility for seekers on the Path. This means that you must look after yourself and your family as a first priority, then do what you can for others. Otherwise you will add to the problems of the world by losing the ability to look after your self and your family. This does not mean becoming uncharitable or cynical about helping others who are in need. The ideal rather, is to create a mental attitude of not being ‘attached’ to material goods whilst recognizing their importance and your responsibilities to those closest to you. We do what charitable works we can according to our situation and our means, but always with an attitude of detachment from materialism. How can we achieve such detachment in a materialist culture like we live in today?
Buddhist teachers suggest that:
Don’t become overly attached to the body and its needs.
Meditate on the impermanence of material belongings and material life generally.
Consider the life stories and example of great teachers such as Jesus, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, etc… who gave up their material goods in their efforts to help others.
Further, Buddhism suggests that charity does not just relate to giving material goods but also offering our knowledge of ethical principles and esoteric teaching so that others can be saved from getting into problems in their life which generates negative karma. In both giving material goods and advice to others, Buddhism recommends that:
Be even minded towards all recipients.
Give without thought of reward or expecting something in return. This includes the fame or notoriety of being known as a generous person.
Don’t be arrogant about giving.
Consider our responsibility as people who believe in universal brotherhood. It is our duty to be compassionate knowing as do from theosophy that everything is connected.
If possible it is better to ‘do’ rather than just give money. Through personal involvement through voluntary work, directly helping family and friends in crisis, etc… we can learn empathy and compassion for the problems others are experiencing.
Next issue: How do I practice ‘Ethical Discipline’?
WHAT DOES THEOSOPHY HAVE TO OFFER?
Looking at the world, what would go furthest in resolving the many problems we see? We might think of mutual respect and understanding, kindness, cooperation, open- mindedness, and loving care for the earth and its inhabitants. A common denominator here is generosity of spirit and even handed concern for others. In fact, most human problems could be remedied if we would recognize our essential one ness with all others and then act upon this insight.
Theosophy is a modem presentation of the perennial philosophy that stresses the underlying oneness of all that is. This unity is fundamental and multi-dimensional. It includes that of individuals with other individuals and with the whole; and also stresses the resulting interconnection of the physical and invisible aspects of life: psychological, intellectual, vital, spiritual, and divine. There is no fundamental separation any where. Many of the ideas in modern theosophical literature represent an exposition of these interrelations that provides an intellectual basis for brotherhood. As one writer said: “It’s generally not enough to tell people to be good because it’s good to be good; most want an explanation of the basis and rationale behind moral and spiritual principles.”
Theosophy particularly emphasizes the unity among all human beings irrespective of factors such as race, gender, nationality, creed, social status, learning, or appearance. The founders of the modern theosophical movement made this idea the cornerstone of their efforts. Addressing one principal root of human conflict, theosophy emphasizes that all religions come from the same source. An old myth tells how the divine jewel of truth shattered when it was thrown to earth with each faith representing just one shard. Looking in any piece we can find truth, but none of them contains truth in its entirety. One Rabbi likened religions to decks of cards, all having the same 52 cards (concerns, principles) but stacked in different orders. Examining other “decks” lets us see familiar cards in a new form. We also encounter unfamiliar cards which may be hidden deep in our own tradition but found near the top of the deck in another stream of thought.
When we explore several traditions, we receive fresh insights and come to appreciate different perspectives. The Bhagavad-Gita, for example, may impress us with the value of being unattached to the results of our actions. The Christian
Gospels may bring home the importance of loving our fellow humans with all our heart, soul, and mind regardless of whether we see them as just or unjust, righteous or wicked, outcast or privileged. Buddhist teachings may lead us to methodically examine our own awareness, or to seek to end suffering for ourselves and all other beings by adopting compassionate attitudes and a mindful way of life. Investigating Jainism may give us new appreciation for all beings as fellow spiritual pilgrims, the importance of non-violence, and the profound effect our acts and choices have on our future. Taoism may encourage us to let go of intellectual formulations to what is beyond the mind. Sikhism underscores that whatever name or representation they use, people all worship the same divine source, and as children of this one source they are all literally brothers and sisters.
Theosophy encourages people to investigate inner realities for themselves through both self-examination and study of the world’s traditions and sciences. Theosophists point out the essential oneness of all knowledge, whether scientific, philosophical, religious, artistic, or mystical. These many types of human knowledge, reflecting different aspects of our consciousness, are not the reality they are describing. Rather, they are a series of intellectual models.
In our explorations we may find that one approach feels “right” for us personally, whether because of our upbringing or because of psychological and spiritual affinity. Again, we may find equal value in several or many approaches, or prefer to look mainly to the shard of truth that lies deep within us. But however arrived at, all human views, doctrines, beliefs, and knowledge are only partial expressions of reality.
A primary theosophical concern remains encouraging the practical application of beliefs and principles in daily life rather than considering them to be intellectual pastimes or abstractions. Now as always, a vital but often missing element is the desire and determination to transform ethical principles and good intentions into practice — to concentrate on living day to day what we recognize as true, fair, and compassionate. With its focus on universal brotherhood and “free and fearless investigation,” theosophy seeks to foster altruism, independent thought, and self-directed growth as dynamic forces in human life.
Tis the season that the mockingbird sings his heart out for hours on end, day and night, so as to impress any ladies that may be within earshot. But oh, how the times have changed. A decade ago we recorded the mockingbird’s song, as it was fascinating, full of mimicry of other birds’ songs, trills and its own coloratura. Last year I remember being amused by the inclusion of the rrring-rrring of the neighbour’s phone, the obnoxious ding-ding-ding you hear when the car door is open, and a chirp-chirp of a car alarm being set.
Last night I lay listening to our resident mockingbird for well over half an hour and during that time I heard him mimic only a myriad of car alarm sounds. How sad I felt for the poor mockingbird that he would feel these man-made sounds would be more impressive to his future mate. How sad that these sounds must be louder or more pervasive than the other natural sounds he used to mimic of old and that he seems to have lost his own song too.
Now I know that if I had listened to his next song cycle I may have heard some of the sounds I was longing for, but still, it gives me reason to pause and consider what effect is our noise pollution having on the nature around us. One of our geese always honks in response to the monotone horn car alarm and we all know the chorus of howls the fire truck sirens induce from dogs.
We need look no further than ourselves to see the effects of the car alarm noises - how many of us have looked out of the window recently to check why an alarm may have been set off? Many of our man-made noises have been shown to be creating physical deafness but it seems that our ability to tune these noises out is leaving us with a conscious deafness too.
English website: The annual newsletter, including interesting articles of previous editions of the British Section can be viewed on the website, www.theosophical.org.uk
National Meeting: The 2007 National Meeting of the British Section was held in September last year in Liverpool. The meeting featured a lecture by Pat Powell on ‘The Open Heart’ which includes the following: “…Open heartedness in us brings open heartedness for all. It makes us a child with a child, a scholar with the learned, and a brave person with the warriors. All things to all men, because no one is cast out of our hearts. Others may be mystified by it, because to them, it comes from another world. But they know it, they feel it is different and they feel the resonance with it, because that other world is something they recognize deep in their hearts. The feeling of divine compassion strengthens the will and brings certainty to our discrimination. It is not the privilege of the few, but the destiny of us all; we will have really reached into the ‘Heart’ of things; we will have an ‘Open Heart’.
Sir Paul McCartney on saving the environment by becoming a vegetarian: former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, called on people to consider becoming vegetarian to help the environment. He cited the recent United Nations report, Livestock’s long shadow: environmental issues and options, which finds that livestock generate more greenhouse gases as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent than transport! He pointed out that 70% of the former forests in the Amazon had been cleared for grazing and that livestock now use 30% of the entire world’s land surface. The livestock industry is among the most damaging sectors to the earth’s increasingly scarce water resources, contributing greatly to water pollution…“By simply considering altering eating habits people can strike a blow for the environment, our children and the future.”
HOLLAND: For any Dutch-speaking readers, the Dutch Section has a very comprehensive website which has many excellently translated Theosophical University Press (TUP) publications online: www.theosofie.net. Also, the Dutch Section has issued a comprehensive guide to their lectures and study groups all over Holland in 19 separate centres and five libraries across the country.
GREECE: a three-day meeting of Blavatsky Studies will be held in Athens, from May 29 to June 1, 2008. The subject will be ‘The Law of Periodicity’, with subjects such as universal law, cycles, ethics, karma and reincarnation. It will be conducted in English with simultaneous translation in Greek. Please, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SOUTH AFRICA: Meetings in the Johannesburg area have been held regularly since August 2007. Meetings are held on the last Sunday morning monthly. For those travelling to South Africa, why not contact Alice Yetman for further details of meetings on Tel: (012) 654 3193 E-mail: email@example.com.
More T.S. literature online: selected articles from The Theosophical Path July 1911 to October 1935, The Path, and Universal Brotherhood, have been posted on the Headquarters website. There are some real gems of wisdom in these old magazines. It really repays the serious student to see what riches are there, especially when preparing articles. New on the Headquarters website is a section entitled The Perennial Wisdom. It contains quotations from the world’s wisdom traditions drawn from the collections of the Theosophical University Library in Pasadena.
2008 Theosophical Conference: ‘Synthesizing, Science, Philosophy, and Religion in the Light of Theosophy’: the international conference organized by the United Lodge of Theosophists and others will be held on August 7th through August 10th, 2008 at Haverford College Campus in Haverford, Pennsylvania, USA. Please visit: http://www.guptavidya.org/ for further information on the conference.
Global Warming: Al Gore, former Vice President of the USA, and outspoken crusader against global warming, was the subject of one of our meetings in Melbourne last year discussing the global crisis precipitated by global warming. On December 10th 2007, Al Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work in awakening the world to the climate crisis so evident to Australians with our long drought and freakish weather patterns. In accepting the award, Al Gore left us with some sobering thoughts:
“…The way ahead is difficult. The outer boundary of what we currently believe is feasible is still far short of what we actually must do. Moreover, between here and there, across the unknown, falls the shadow. That is just another way of saying that we have to expand the boundaries of what is possible. In the words of the Spanish Poet, Antonio Machado, “Pathwalker, there is no path. You must make the path as you walk.” We are standing at the most fateful fork in that path. So I wanted to end as I began, with a vision of two futures – each a palpable possibility - and with a prayer that we will see with vivid clarity the necessity of choosing between these two futures, and the urgency of making the right choice now. The great Norwegian playwright, Henrik Ibsen, wrote, “One of these days, the younger generation will come knocking at my door.” The future is knocking at the door right now. Make no mistake, the next generation will ask us one of two questions. Either they will ask: “What were you thinking, why don’t you act?” Or they will ask instead: “How did you find the moral courage to rise and successfully resolve a crisis that so many said was impossible to solve?” We have everything we need to get started, save perhaps political will, but political will is a renewable resource. So let us renew it, and say together: “We have a purpose. We are many. For this purpose we will rise, and we will act.”