The Song of Life

By John Van Mater, Jr.

A superior order, a wholeness that already exists in the core of Being — such is the ancient view, the very song of life. Nothing is outside the great symphony; not a single note is left out. Every human being, animal, plant, atom, or god has its own place in the cosmic scheme, and its own harmony. This vibration animates all phases of life and living, and it is essential to our well-being to recognize it and endeavor to express it creatively. For this is the song of ourselves echoing through the ages.

Myths of all peoples address the profound mysteries of nature and its phenomena. The word nature means "nascent essence, beginnings," her essential character giving birth to itself from the seed-self and carrying within it causes from numberless previous existences. From the first keynote of primal consciousness octaves of spirit blend with primordial matter, eventually forming worlds from the subatomic to the galactic and beyond. To borrow the Pima Indian expression, the universe sings itself into being — suggesting the Logos, meaning "word" or "sound." From the activity of this primordial, vibrating consciousness come mind, light, electricity, and the moment the Logos sings universes into manifestation there is time and duality. All entities are miniature logoi that create nature's outer forms.

Every being exists through polar opposites — spirit and matter, harmony and discord, attraction and repulsion. This bipolarity, though one in essence, makes it possible for life to exist and for families of monads to gain experience, thus unfolding their potentials. These beings — you and I — create many-layered vehicles. Outwardly in our living world, we witness births and deaths, conflict and turbulence, resulting from inner causes seeking resolution in new harmonies. This produces continuous change, as nothing remains static but progresses in cycles.

Karma is the constant underlying order, the great adjuster of outer events by the inner actions of the gods. Creation, destruction, and regeneration are universal processes of growth spurred on by divine impulses. Regardless of what happens to the outer shell, the indestructible god-spark lives on. In this center exists the potential for all future possibilities. The underlying order sustains differences of perfection, even apparent discordance, reflecting countless individuals progressing at varying stages of divine expression. There is always a continuity, a deeper purpose linked to higher agencies overseeing the evolution of life. Even the outer forms showing great beauty are fleeting and imperfect compared to the spirit, and are subject to the endless sequence of birth, death, and rebirth. The spirit sheds its bodies from life to life while keeping its identity. But the smaller lives that build the bodies are constantly circulating among other beings. Every entity sustains every other in life's scheme.

Animals, plants, minerals, and worlds follow automatically nature's rhythms and cycles, for every being is a creative force instinctively finding its place, contributing its harmony. The planets sing the music of the spheres, and the birds their distinctive melodies. Every atom, every blade of grass, is singing its own song, though our ears are not attuned to hear it. There is no chance, for each has a will of its own and is true to its nature. All are patterns of an immense cosmic scheme, a living universal hierarchy.

Nothing is without purpose, for everywhere a superior intelligence is at work. Look at the amazing adaptations among the species: the design of a bird for flight, the sharpness of the eagle's eye, the metamorphosis from nymph to dragonfly. All creatures respond to inner tendencies while developing their own instincts and habits — migrations, complex lifestyles of insects such as honeybees, and their communication with one another.

The ageless concept of Gaia, our living Earth, as seen by Lovelock, shows that the planet maintains itself in balance, regulating the flow of essential elements, controlling the climate and atmosphere. There is a harmonious relationship, an evolving symbiosis occurring on every level. Trees interact with one another as a forest, and minerals have their own awareness in Earth's body. A constant symbiosis exists among the kingdoms. Indeed, all the lives that make up Gaia form a partnership, just as within our bodies the cells communicate as one under the sway of the being that uses them. Just as a cell is a macrocosm of countless lesser lives, so is it a microcosmic part of Gala, while Gaia is a vital part of a living solar cell, one of billions making up the galactic organism, the Milky Way. Such concepts tell us that as self-conscious members of this vast unity we play a significant role in the functioning of this partnership, working together as one humanity.

The religious systems of various cultures recognized a pantheon of gods as agents of karma residing in Gaia's spiritual heart. These great beings, called by various names such as kabiri, devas, dhyan-chohans, kachinas, are omniscient, compassionate, impersonal. Their wills are the "laws" of Earth and impel our planet through endless cycles, orbits and seasonal changes, including tilts of the axis, global catastrophes, the rising and sinking of continents, the coming and going of races, the displacement of oceans, and ice ages. All these are the karma of the planetary being, Earth, making adjustments and renewals of life. Karma is a recorder, an infallible agent globally as well as in the cause-and-effect interactions in daily life.

Many peoples have had and continue to have a far more harmonious relationship with nature than Western culture. The American Indian raises his pipe to the four directional points — North, South, East, West — in reverence to their Guardian Spirits which are both life-givers and destroyers, depending upon the seeds that have been sown. The Indian intuitively realizes that no action occurs without its effect on the whole. Karma reestablishes the balance — and that is always beneficial, even though we may lack the wisdom to see it.

To many older cultures the hosts of beings, powers of nature, that build and sustain the world are real. On the one side are fully self-conscious gods, providing stability and order; at the other end of the spectrum are elemental beings, unself-conscious god-sparks. When representing the elements they are called gnomes of earth, sylphs of air, salamanders of fire, and undines of water. Science does not acknowledge the sympathy we can have with these beings or forces.

As a gardener, I can relate to the Hopi Indian farmer singing to the corn, to the Indonesian who prays to his gods to bring on the monsoon, and to the African pygmy performing a dance in a sincere appeal to the spirits of the forest. It is said that in the performance of these and other ancient ceremonies the tribes have been moved by great forces to sing and chant where ordinary words will not suffice. The rituals used by hunters of old, and by some tribes today, originated out of reverence for the souls of their animal brothers. There is universal wisdom here. Although many once sacred rites have degenerated into superficial or dangerous practices, overall they reveal a heritage of being able to cooperate with nature, to exist with the land without harming it. We in the West are just waking up to this, having in two centuries left a path of destruction, pollution, and waste, even influencing changes in the climate.

Chief Seattle's letter to the President of the United States in 1852 eloquently penetrates to the heart of this thought:

This we know: the earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

Our oneness with nature is inescapable. Universal brotherhood is the key, for it is founded on this great web of diverse beings that makes the whole. Furthermore, since Gaia is far more than her physical body, harmony does not originate outside it but can come only from within.

We are beings with a strong duality. We profoundly influence all the other kingdoms and because of our uneven, composite nature impart malevolent tendencies as well as our noble virtues. And we are part of Gaia's duality also, sharing her imperfect terrestrial aspects as well as qualities of her spiritual heart — the Hierarchy of Compassion, the gods. There is no end to the resonating of our being on many levels which are diffused throughout Gaia.

As instruments of our spiritual self we can have a creative influence on humanity's and Gaia's well-being, for both are gradually being transformed into a superior existence. We are all learning, trying to be true to the harmony of our divine nature and, as its servant, endeavoring to live up to our highest human duty. In so doing we are ever more in tune with life's harmonies, creating a cosmic destiny with the golden chords of spirit.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1990. Copyright © 1990 by Theosophical University Press.)


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