From Our Readers

Nigeria, November 15, 1999

Periodically individuals are gripped with fear that the cataclysmic upheaval signaling the end of the world is just around the corner, wondering what will become of them. Others believe they will be taken up into heaven when Jesus Christ, or some other divine figure, appears. Many are looking for a sign. But from immemorial antiquity there have been accounts of the destruction of the world. A Babylonian narrative thousands of years old, of a disastrous flood which wiped out almost all of mankind, was written on cuneiform tablets first translated by George Smith in 1872. In fact, in an early historic period (about 3000 bc) a gigantic flood did occur in the Tigris-Euphrates plain. English archeologist C. Leonard Woolley (1880-1960) discovered a layer of water-deposited silt eight feet thick separating the Ubaid and Uruk levels at the ancient Sumerian city of Ur. Similar deposits appear at other sites, but at different levels, suggesting a series of floods of varying magnitude.

When Jesus Christ was queried about when the end of days would be, he gave no definite answer. In the process, he said that he himself did not know, that his Father who is in Heaven knows. In any case, from biblical and other accounts we can infer that people usually have survived such catastrophes; therefore, there is still hope for humanity.

As everything is growing to a higher level of consciousness, it follows that when humans have acquired sufficient experiences in the lower planetary spheres, according to evolutionary law we gradually move to higher realms of experience. In consequence, lower beings aspiring to become humans will move up to occupy the space which mankind has left, for nature abhors a vacuum. As Heraclitus said, "everything is ever becoming" — that is, everything is in constant transformation, constant ebb and flux. There is no consummate extirpation of life or human beings. Everything is aspiring for finer and better experiences.

Consequently, as children of the cosmos we need not be afraid. We have only to rededicate ourselves to the theosophic ideals. Sometimes it becomes difficult to live rightly, particularly where the preponderance of people think very negatively, but there are many good things we can think of, such as love, kindliness, peace, health, and a constant willingness to stretch out a helping hand. We can streamline our desires in consonance with what will bring succor to the majority of mankind. There are laws we can live by: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." We can order our thoughts and conduct in such a way that it will be pleasing to the cosmos; after all, do we know whether we shall be the next Noah?

As Grace F. Knoche said, "We move into the future with courage and a great hope for humanity. Our challenges will come not so much from outside as from within. To the degree that we can whittle away, steadfastly but without anxiety, those tenuous yet present internal barriers that block us from being all that we aspire to be, to that degree will we be a center of light, a natural laya-center for the inflow of pure theosophic inspiration to our fellow humans." — Emmanuel O. Awa


India, April 30, 2000

Having read on the Internet an article in Sunrise on the Mahabharata, I would like to bring to your attention a book I just read which relates to ancient India: Gods, Sages, and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civilization by Dr. David Frawley. Although there are many books on this subject, this one was written with the international — particularly American or European — reader in mind, who has no previous knowledge of Hindu mythology or history.

In this work Dr. Frawley relates the history and mythology of almost all the ancient world to the Vedic culture which developed on the banks of the now dry Saraswati River. Geological, literary, and archeological data suggest that long ago this mighty river flowed from Lake Manasarowar in Tibet to the sea through present-day Rajasthan. Manasarowar is linked with Manu, the first man according to Vedic tradition. Leaving his golden ship on a high Himalayan peak after the great flood, he is said to have come down to the plains, carrying with him the seeds of life, in order to establish his kingdom on the fertile banks of the Saraswati. The author suggests there may be a linkage of this event with Plato's Atlantean deluge near the end of the ice age, while cautioning the reader that the boat or ark may be only a metaphor. Although this date may seem irrational from the viewpoint of accepted academic history, more and more archeological evidence from the Indus-Saraswati Valley civilization, geological evidence of the existence and fate of the Saraswati River, and astronomical dating of events recorded in the Vedas, show the antiquity of this ancient civilization. They also contradict the standard Western theory, formed in the 18th and 19th centuries, of Vedic civilization beginning with an Aryan invasion of northern India around 1500 bc.

The Indus-Saraswati Valley civilization is now found to be a collection of nearly 2,500 settlements of various periods along the Saraswati and other rivers, some of which date earlier than 6000 bc. These sites show sure signs of having cultural elements in common with later Vedic culture. The Indus script was first dismissed as imagistic, but has since been found to be very similar to the later Brahmi script, and is possibly related to early Semitic scripts from which the present-day alphabet developed.

The historicity of Vedic religion and its scriptures was once dismissed, in part because it praised very highly the supposedly mythical Saraswati River. Satellite and geological evidence show, however, that although the Saraswati changed its course many times over several thousand years before disappearing, long ago it was as described in the Vedas. Fortunately, some scholars are beginning to interpret history taking into account the geography of the region in the past. In light of new and growing evidence, an objective reexamination of existing data and reinterpretation of ancient history is necessary today. — Rithvik. S. Vinekar


California, April 16, 2000

It's always seemed significant to me that when I want to organize my thinking I sketch or draw a circle. It is, at once, the relative transposition of chaos to cosmos. The circle captures, then re-presents, the "fleeing" centrifugal and the "converging" centripetal thought-forces that are the cache-tools of every ancient-to-modern Magician. Creating a circle is the Imagination's first move in the dynamic chessness of life.

Recently someone handed me this confirming quote from the notable American Sioux, Black Elk (1863-1950):

Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.

When thought-forces are drawn into a circle, it becomes a lens by which the Imagination can picture the winning move — victory over the self — that assures continued progress beyond the earth's demise. — Wynn Wolfe

"The Magic Circle" (detail), Edward Burne-Jones, c. 1880

(From Sunrise magazine, June/July 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)


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