From Our Readers

California, September 25, 2000

At this moment comes the crescendo of morning light. A pine across the shadowed deeps is now a green candle all alight, and senior sycamores are aglow with bronze as the sun finds them out. Yet the order is not entire, as light splashes here and there in points and masses, picking its way towards the full orchestration of day.

There are quick black shadows to be expected — yet always unexpected — as flying birds interrupt the flow of light to my French doors. Shadows, brief blacknesses, by-products of sun and life.

He lies there, still, after more years of life than we could be sure of in our count, his wings spreading, his neck curved down to rest his beak on earth, one small rooster that for thousands of days has stepped forth from his house each morning, catching fire in the new sun, a burnished glory of iridescent red, breast and neck's full capelet. All that red richness emphasized by dashes of black highlighted with opaline blues and greens!

Later we learn that a great black journalist, Carl Rowan, has also died this day. One small red rooster gone from the light, and one great man also gone. Some comfort: that each traveler was not alone in taking flight to some world that lies beyond the sun, a temporary home in their evolving lives. — Barbara Curtis Horton

The Netherlands, October 3, 2000

What a variety of totally different kinds of karma a human being creates in one lifetime — what a mass of desires, thoughts, words, positive and negative — so many different and often conflicting chains of cause and effect. For mankind this mass must be incalculably great when viewed over periods of time in which rivers formed plains from the debris of mountains, and oceans roll where countries and cities once existed. How is it that all those impulses going in every direction come forth in a pattern, a coherent story with a profound meaning? Uncontrolled discharge of all these forces would spell instant annihilation, but there always emerges precision in timing and wonderfully structured organisms and worlds.

What is the intelligent link that always brings order and arranges cosmos, whether the cosmos of a human life or of a solar system? There could be no worlds without protecting intelligences channeling the processes of nature, keeping them in equilibrium. No wonder so many traditions speak of guiding intelligences, gods, or architects.

The hierarchies of compassion are the embodiment of dharma, a word that comes from a root meaning "to bear, to support." They are present from beginning to end, guiding without imposing anything, and to utter certainty.

Creating without claiming,
Doing without taking credit,
Guiding without interfering,
This is Primal Virtue. — Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching, 51

Among these hierarchies are the lipikas (Sanskrit, "scribes"):

they are the Recorders or Annalists who impress on the (to us) invisible tablets of the Astral Light, "the great picture-gallery of eternity" — a faithful record of every act, and even thought, of man, of all that was, is, or ever will be, in the phenomenal Universe. . . . this divine and unseen canvas is the BOOK OF LIFE. — H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:104

They reflect in themselves the entire history of the universe and so become the torchbearers of karma, carrying in themselves the structural plan of everything that will present itself anew. We could also call them the alpha and the omega: everything that happens in the world is imprinted on the aura or essence of these intelligences. In the universe the small reflects the great endlessly — each part has all the qualities of the greater in itself.

An inner lipika is found in the recesses of every being. In this "book of life" is all that we are to the smallest particulars, what we really are: unflattering, but also without omission of even the weakest good impulse, it is the imprint of ourselves. Some might call it a guardian angel, others the inner christos, part of the texture of the universe, in whose essence or aura our lives and thoughts are enacted. This inner lipika carries within it all the characteristics of the future child, to the very smallest detail, the deposit of all that happened and was said and thought in times gone by. The birth of a child is the continuation and unraveling of what was before, just as a world is the outcome and continuation of a preceding world, of all that happened and developed there, including the lipikas themselves. — H. R. Opdenberg

The Netherlands, July 24, 2000

In the western view, our physical characteristics, and at least part of our psychological attributes, are dictated by physical heredity, by the DNA code present in the chromosomes we receive from both our parents, and to an extent in the extra-nuclear DNA which we inherit from our mother. Many therefore regard any influence from a soul or immaterial entity as inconceivable, because they feel that everything is already physically determined. Nevertheless, many aspects of genetics are still unexplained by science.

During the preparation for cell division, for example, before the formation of the gametes or reproductive cells, the chromosomes may "cross over" so that material which originated from the male parent interchanges with that from the female parent. To quote from a standard work on evolutionary theory and genetics:

At some time prior to the formation of the gametes, the two homologous chromosomes exchange equivalent pieces with each other by a process called "crossing over." By and large (there are many exceptions) no laws seem to determine where the chromosomes will break or how large the pieces will be that are exchanged. Which particular combination of pieces of maternal and paternal chromosomes making up the new chromosome will enter a given egg or spermatozoon is largely a matter of chance, at least in most chromosomes and most species. Likewise, it is largely a matter of accident which chromosomes will go into which germ cell, provided only that each cell receives its full set of chromosomes. — Ernst Mayr, Evolution and the Diversity of Life, p. 32

It is easy to attribute events to chance, but this only expresses scientific ignorance as to the real cause.

Another phenomenon is mutation: sometimes genetic codes suddenly change. This, too, is usually attributed to accident or chance, but then it is difficult to explain why any progression is made at all once biological systems have evolved to a certain level of complexity and perfection. The chance of a mutation leading to fatal, or at least less fit, properties is far greater than of a mutation making the individual fitter. Besides "crossing over" and mutation at one or several places on the chromosomes, another uncertain factor that Mayr and others mention is the distribution of chromosomes during reduction division (meiosis) to form reproductive cells. This process affects which side in the gamete the originally paternal or maternal genetic material goes to. Moreover, there are other opportunities for the course of events to be influenced from within: only part of the cell's genetic code is active at certain times and under certain circumstances. Other parts are not active and may never become so during the present life. Thus, there are many secrets not yet unveiled by science, but nevertheless attributed to "chance."

Chance, however, has no place in the theosophical view. Whatever happens is karmic, that is, it can be attributed to a cause, and this cause comes from within. In theosophy the different combinations of hereditary qualities in individuals are governed by psychomagnetic attractions inherent in the skandhas of the reincarnating entity. Skandhas are the individual's aggregates of properties — such as higher and lower mental consciousness, feelings, attractions, and physical characteristics — carried over from former lives. Thus, the specific magnetism of the soul, formed by its store of properties, determines which combinations of hereditary qualities will manifest in a particular incarnation. "It is . . . unquestionable that in the case of human incarnations the law of Karma, racial or individual, overrides the subordinate tendencies of 'Heredity,' its servant" (The Secret Doctrine 2:178).

We should further take into account that a reincarnating entity is attracted where it belongs, because of old bonds between the coming child and the parents and environment. Usually a child has been in its family line before, which also explains why it has typical family traits. Therefore no conflict exists between karma and the processes of genetics, or between universal compassion and physical heredity, because we incarnate exactly where we can learn best and our essential being adjusts its outer circumstances to best serve its goals. It is compassion/justice which rules the universe, not chance. — Rudi Jansma

(From Sunrise magazine, December 2000/ January 2001; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)

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