From Our Readers

Indiana, February 10, 2002

I've been thinking about my beloved family dog, Bosco, and my struggle with a terrible decision: whether or not to euthanize her. Although my path led me one way, that is not to say it is for everyone. Still, I tell this story in hopes that a larger faith and vision toward natural death is possible.

Bosco was a long-haired, scruffy looking shepherd-mix dog who had a magic that made people love her immediately. My husband and I acquired her as a puppy at a humane shelter and considered her our firstborn; she was surely a family member to us. Ten years and two little human additions later, our family decided to move out of state where we could live life more as we dreamed. Unfortunately, we had to leave Bosco behind with my parents temporarily. Six months later we retrieved Bosco, only to discover a few months later that she had glandular cancer.

I remember that wretched day when I brought her home from the vets with the heartbreaking news of her terminal illness. Feeling shock and horror, I sensed the difficult decisions I was to face. Having always been against human euthanasia, I felt the same thing should apply to animals; that if it was wrong for humankind, how could it be right for animals? Would not life be as precious to them as it is for us? Would not the divine law care in its mercy for animals as it would for man?

Still I had great reservations about letting a painful death take its course. Now that the real decision faced me, I was not so sure of my beliefs. Always before me was society's belief that the right and compassionate thing would be to put her to sleep to avoid unnecessary pain. But what if pain and discomfort are necessary in the larger view of life and death that we haven't yet understood? All these questions revolved unrelentingly in my mind. My husband left the decision entirely up to me, and the only decision I could make was to take one day at a time and follow each inner direction as it came.

To help ease her discomfort I used the Bach Flower Remedies, though she never showed the symptoms described by the veterinarians. However, as her condition deteriorated I felt more heavily the struggle of mind and heart. She was a medium-large dog, and I knew that when she couldn't get outdoors to relieve herself, I would not be able to carry her. But how could I leave an indoor dog outside in the middle of winter, unsheltered, in a much colder climate than she was accustomed to? Both paths were unacceptable — in fact, all the choices before me were unacceptable!

One day I sat on the floor observing Bosco a couple of feet away, wondering about her pain and whether I was doing the right thing in keeping her alive. The poor thing struggled to her feet with great difficulty only to move closer and lie down right next to me. I knew my answer then. I could see the situation through her eyes. It did not matter to her that she was in pain; what mattered was that she was by my side. Each minute by her master was an inner joy that I could not take away. I made a definite decision to allow my dog to die a natural death in my care, no matter what came.

The day soon arrived, though, when she could no longer get herself outside with my help. I had to trust and place her in the hands of Mother Nature and divine law, since all other avenues were closed. I placed a small carpet remnant on the grass where she could see inside, and helped her out for the last time. It was a beautiful December morning, clear and bright, with the sun shining over us from across the distant mountains. It was not too terribly cold, so I was able to spend some time with her outside as she lay on the carpet. At this point, she could only lie on her side. She ate a little and some time later relieved herself without being able to get up at all. I did what I saw to do, and did not allow myself to think about the coming times.

A short time later as I was sitting next to her, a choke rose to her throat. Not wanting her to panic, I laid my hand on the side of her head and whispered, "Don't fight it." She did not move or struggle, but laid there peacefully and died. I did not move or do anything for quite a while. I just sat there by her, in partial shock, in partial awe of the whole process — frozen in silence from the sheer depth of the inner spiritual drama that had just taken place between master and dog. That afternoon we had her cremated, and a couple of days later scattered her ashes at the base of a waterfall.

In closing I'd like to say that we all must strive to believe ever more strongly in the processes of life and death, that the divine law in its actions has purpose and mercy for all. It is not for us to say what shall live or die, or that pain and struggle are of no value, for we do not have insight into the greater workings of things. But let us trust and find courage to let live and let die when the inner spirit so wishes. — Doreen Melbrod


TheNetherlands, February 27, 2002

To try to reach the other shore, as Lord Buddha enjoined us, we need to study the many means that can make this eventful journey a glorious success. I believe that such was the initial raison-d'etre of science: finding out how nature works and contemplating her habits, so as to bring ourselves into harmony with her, and ultimately regain the divine realms. When we study nature, we study the habits of myriads of mutually dependent ensouled beings on as many different spiritual levels — a view dismissed by the mainstream scientific community, including astronomers.

Still, astronomers realize they have much to learn. Under the heading "Jupiter hot spot makes trouble for theory," NASA recently announced the discovery by the Chandra X-ray Observatory of a pulsating X-ray hot spot in Jupiter's upper atmosphere which overthrows previous theories about how Jupiter's X-rays are produced.

[It] appears at a fixed location near the north magnetic pole of Jupiter. Bright infrared and ultraviolet emissions have also been detected from this region in the past. The X-rays were observed to pulsate with a period of 45 minutes, . . .
. . . At the large distances required for the source of the ions — at least 30 times the radius of Jupiter — spacecraft measurements have shown that there are not nearly enough energetic oxygen and sulfur ions to account for the observed X-ray emission.

Scientists speculate that one possible source is heavy ions captured from the solar wind. Such conjectures may eventually evolve into a solid scientific theory, but one oblivious to the larger spiritual background. After all, spiritual realms cannot be detected by any physical apparatus.

Can theosophy help fill this gap? I believe it can. In The Mahatma Letters we find fascinating material on Jupiter. Speaking of a shifting of the entire solar system, the Mahatma writes that

no astronomer will perceive it telescopically, until Jupiter and some other planets, whose little luminous points hide now from our sight millions upon millions of stars (all but some 5000 or 6000) — will suddenly let us have a peep at a few of the Raja-Suns they are now hiding. There is such a king-star right behind Jupiter, that no mortal physical eye has ever seen during this, our Round. Could it be so perceived it would appear, through the best telescope with a power of multiplying its diameter ten thousand times, — still a small dimensionless point, thrown into the shadow by the brightness of any planet; nevertheless — this world is thousands of times larger than Jupiter. The violent disturbance of its atmosphere and even its red spot that so intrigues science lately, are due — (1) to that shifting and (2) to the influence of that Raja-Star. In its present position in space imperceptibly small though it be — the metallic substances of which it is mainly composed are expanding and gradually transforming themselves into aeriform fluids — the state of our own earth and its six sister globes before the first Round — and becoming part of its atmosphere. — Letter 23b

This raja-star "behind" Jupiter is, I believe, an encompassing, enveloping, and nurturing being on a higher level of existence. Could the pulsating X-rays be a highly energetic stream or flow reflecting spiritual and psychological energy pumped through by the heartbeat of Jupiter's companion? Again, the great Red Spot may perhaps function as a channel of instreaming and outgoing forces from this star. Perhaps it corresponds to the crown on the human head, or to the junction point of the umbilical cord of an unborn child?

Looking at Jupiter as a very large and powerful infant, we see it consuming a great many asteroids and comets. Certainly Shoemaker-Levy 9's splash into Jupiter in 1994 left science with many questions. At the site of the crash a mysterious black spot appeared, which soon swelled to twice the size of the earth. For days it remained the most prominent feature on Jupiter, taking months to disappear. When the "impact bruises" can be seen months later, although heavy winds scour Jupiter, then the current theory of the atmosphere on Jupiter needs to be reviewed. According to Master KH:

Your science has a theory, I believe, that if the earth were suddenly placed in extremely cold regions — for instance where it would exchange places with Jupiter — all our seas and rivers would be suddenly transformed into solid mountains; the air, — or rather a portion of the aeriform substances which compose it — would be metamorphosed from their state of invisible fluid owing to the absence of heat into liquids (which now exist on Jupiter, but of which men have no idea on earth). Realize, or try to imagine the reverse condition, and it will be that of Jupiter at the present moment. — Letter 23b

Ultimately scientists cannot yet explain these phenomena because they are not equipped to study nature on planes of existence imperceptible to our physical senses. But occultism offers such an explanation. High initiates are said to be able to experience life on other planets directly, however incredible this may seem. After all, time and distance are illusions. When we look at a star, we touch that star, only our terrestrial consciousness is not able to go further than observation.

So in the same spirit as the great Paracelsus approached medicine, I would maintain that in astronomy there should be no strict rules layed down by a few learned men whose heads are full of mechanistic empiricism and the opinions of others. Troubled mankind needs more than the periodic table of Mendeleyev and the laws of Newton. We notice that we cannot reach our supreme goal when we rely on our senses only, nor does a flood of new technological gadgets bring us nearer the "other shore." Indeed, in throwing off our heavy human karma, I wonder if we are helped much by the steadily growing heap of computer data about the stars and planets that are interpreted as though they correspond with rigid terrestial laws and theories. Rather, suffering mankind is in desperate need of spiritual visions that give us back the feeling that we are not surrounded by dull and idle orbs turning around the sun, but by ensouled beings at work for the betterment of life on all planets, not on earth only. — Fred A. Pruyn


California, March 24, 2002

Consciousness is at the very heart of beings and things — the heart that is nowhere in particular because it is everywhere. Armed only with daily newspaper information, curious human beings' first considerations of consciousness could range in scale from cosmic superclusters to subatomic entities. Dr. Leon R. Kass, professor of philosophy and ethics at the University of Chicago and President Bush's adviser on bioethics, "refers in his writings to the soul, a word he uses in a nontheological sense to mean that a living organism, even a bacterium, is not just a collection of molecules but a thing with needs, awareness, desires and goal-directed activities" (New York Times Science, Tuesday, March 19, 2002). Or as Dr. Seuss' Horton says, "After all, a person's a person. No matter how small."

For the scientist to observe and measure beings and things, he has first to outline the entities that live in the spaces of space. One such outline of consciousness concerns the one-celled animalcules we call amoebas. The root meaning of this word is "constantly changing." With the invention of the microscope near the end of the 17th century, the heretofore invisible was observed as an ever-changing entity involved in the activity of life, i.e., interacting, engulfing food, reproducing, etc.

Under the heading "Amoeba 'Midwives' Found to Assist in Reproductive Process," the March 22nd Los Angeles Times reported that

Giving birth is never easy, and potential mothers often need help from a midwife. New research suggests that the rule extends even to amoebas . . . that reproduce by splitting apart into mother and daughter cells. Researchers have previously noted that, at least in one species, this process often stalls while the two cells are still connected by a slender thread — and they were unsure how the cells completed the process. Biophysicist Elisha Moses and his colleagues at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, report in today's Nature that they are assisted by a "midwife" amoeba that gets between the separating cells and pushes them apart until the thread breaks. The stalled amoebae emit a chemical cry for help that attracts the midwife, the team said. — "Science File," Metro, p. 2

The original story in Nature describes further this "surprising example of primitive cooperation":

When an amoeba divides, the two daughter cells stay attached by a tubular tether which remains intact unless mechanically severed. If called upon, the neighbouring amoeba midwife (color cell in figure above) travels . . . towards the dividing amoeba, usually advancing in a straight trajectory. . . . The midwife then proceeds to rupture the connection, after which all three amoebae move on. — Vol. 410, 22 March 2001; supplementary information available on Nature's website at www.nature.com
[image]

On the microscopic scale, consciousness' cooperation and perceptive compassion insinuates that on the macroscopic or human scale the same holds true, as with the ancient and universal midwifery statement: "When the student is ready, the teacher appears." Then all three entities move on — the old self, the new self, and the midwife — carrying the experience that will teach others. — Wynn Wolfe

 (From Sunrise magazine, June/July 2002; copyright © 2002 Theosophical University Press)


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As soon as a true thought has entered our mind, it gives a light which makes us see a crowd of other objects which we have never perceived before. — Chateaubriand