Reactions to Novels and Films
I understand that thoughts, emotions, and desires, as well as actions, have a corresponding reaction upon one, called the Law of Karman, or the Law of Cause and Effect. Do the thoughts, emotions, and desires, engendered in one by the sympathetic experiences one has with the characters in novels, movies, etc., have the same reactions upon one, adding an unnecessary factor for still more Karman? — E. R. P.
G. F. K. — It all depends upon how we react. Taking extreme cases as illustrative: If we enjoy revelling in an emotional orgy over scenes of crime, hatred, or unregulated emotionalism, then we are adding an unnecessary karmic burden to our store of evil tendencies, not primarily because the movie or novel gave us the chance to indulge these unhealthy conditions of hysteria, but precisely because we allow ourselves to be swept away by astral currents, and for the time strengthened in our undeveloped and low biases of character. Another person can witness the same scenes, but because of the lack of psycho-magnetic attraction to these low currents of the Astral Light, he will be totally unaffected by them.
Conversely, if we experience the refining and uplifting feelings of pity, compassion, love and sympathy for the suffering of others, if we are raised interiorly through witnessing supreme sacrifice or selfless love, whether in fiction or on the screen, so that for the passing moments at least we actually undergo a benediction, then we are indeed adding to the store of harmonious reactions upon our psycho-mental apparatus, for by just such experiences do we help to strengthen the upward tendencies of the soul.
All of us affect each other for good or ill. No thing, no being, no circumstance, can ever be completely outside of ourselves, hence every thought, emotion, and action, must leave its impress on the general thought-atmosphere with consequent effect upon us human beings in accordance with our individual evolution. Weak characters allow themselves to be swung to and fro without reservation, and become lost in the hopeless confusion of conflicting emotions. We do not need to be weak unsteady creatures, but can strive to direct our feelings, control our thought-processes, and thus learn to protect our own mental-emotional nature from the onslaughts of violent emotion of any kind. High aspiration put into practice through the intelligent application of knowledge is fool-proof insurance against the serpentine dominance of the Astral Light.
Mystery of the Growing Plant
What is there in the consciousness of a plant that gives it the impulse to grow towards the light and succeed, no matter what obstacles impede its progress? — P. P.
G. de P. — The consciousness of a plant, and indeed that of a beast, or even of a man, — and we may add, the almost latent consciousness of the mineral kingdom — is the spiritual, combining with the astral, fluid in the constitution of a plant, let us say, which possesses the undying instinct or hunger to move forwards and upwards; and it is this instinct for growth, or seeking the Light as we say, which is the pushing cause or the great urge behind all evolution to better and higher things.
Thus the plant-seed, if it happen to be caught in some awkward place where the light is difficult to obtain, will, as it grows, because of this monadic fluid urging it to grow and reach upwards towards what it wants, twist and turn around a stone or up through pavement, until it pushes its first tiny green blade to the light. It is really a most beautiful thing to think of and to watch, and has been a puzzle for science for two hundred years or more.
Theosophy supplies the answer, as I have tried to state it. I have seen a stone pavement, and also an asphalt pavement, actually broken or burst by some tender little plant, which by its monadic instinct knew the light was on the other side of the stone or the asphalt above it; and instead of growing and growing and growing under the asphalt or stone until it came to the edge, and then poking its way into the light, it just pushes with its tender little blade- points between the particles of the pavement, and breaks them apart little by little, until finally, like the chick leaving the egg, pecking through the shell, it pokes its nose into the light of the world above. Is this clear? It is the monadic fluid, or vital-astral fluid — the same thing in its lower form — which is instinct with intuitive consciousness, which drives or impels the plant to do exactly the right thing to reach the light.
Man Not Descended from Ape
Theosophy teaches that man is not descended from the ape, as does the evolution theory of today, but on the contrary, that the ape is an offshoot of man and one of the higher animals in ages long past. Since there is a rigid bar to reproduction between different classes and kingdoms of Nature, how could this have been possible? — W. G. S.
L. G. P. — This question makes reference to a time, millions of years ago when early mankind united with the beasts and brought forth strange beings, half-man and half-beast, which originated the ape-stocks, and some of the higher monkeys. It is quite true that there is a natural bar prohibiting such an unnatural union, but this bar is the result of the march of evolution, and did not hold at that time. In all likelihood, man was not the only creature (for creature he was in those times) who reproduced out of kind, but it is quite tenable that many of the species today on the Earth are the descendants of what might have once been monstrosities, hybrids from the union of a certain few prevailing stocks that had previously ruled the world. Referring once more to the anthropoid apes, they form what is called the "delayed" race. Half-men, as they are, they will not have to wait until the dawn of a new planetary life-cycle before entering the human kingdom, as will all the other beasts, but they will have the opportunity of becoming humans at the beginning of one of the minor cycles of this Earth's present life-cycle, and they will do so with a clean slate, as it were, with no load of past human karman. They will, of course be representative of man's most primitive state, for they will be mere children, evolutionally speaking.
Which T. S. Shall I Join?
"As to what you say about my joining the T. S., I see no reason at all why I should. . . . If I should join the T. S. because of what it has done and its sponsorship (in its inception by the Masters) THEN WHICH T. S. SHALL I JOIN?? Three in New York City! What about them going together and standing on the principle of fellowship and brotherhood that is supposed to be their one main tenet, instead of their scattering their forces as they do! There are two T. S. Lodges dividing the field at San Diego also. Yes, the question is a leading one: which shall one join to be loyal to some of the things given to the world in their period of unity? The Theosophists themselves have not been loyal to the principles on which their Society was founded — they have split on personality. If I were to choose one of the several rival societies to join, I would have to do so on the basis of personality, for they all claim to be teaching the same philosophy; and therefore the differences must be based on personality." (Capitals and italics by questioner.)
H. T. Edge — The inquirer is a little exacting and impatient. The proposal that he should affiliate with brother Theosophists was doubtless kindly meant, but no one is expected to join a society if he prefers a solitary path. As to the imperfections alleged against Theosophists and their organizations, their existence may be frankly, if regretfully, conceded; but it is a pity to view them in so exaggerated a light as to become blinded to the vast preponderance of good that is to be weighed against them. Those who founded the Theosophical Society were fully aware of the very imperfect materials with which they would have to work; but this did not deter them. The little troubles of which the inquirer complains are microscopic in comparison with those which H. P. Blavatsky had to face; yet she did not flinch. Had she been content to criticize and stand aloof, where would be Theosophy today?
But, in spite of the many failings of men, she had faith enough in their better qualities; and the result has justified that faith. For when we consider what Theosophy has been able to achieve in the years that followed, we shall find sufficent proof that an effective majority of Theosophists have remained steadfast to their ideals and loyal to the lofty purposes of the work. All worth-while movements of reform must needs be subject to drawbacks arising from the imperfect state of the world and the people that it comprises; and we should rather congratulate ourselves that, in the case of Theosophy as compared with other movements, such drawbacks have been so few.
Those who expect to join such a movement must expect to meet conditions which will test their patience and devotion; but these are qualities which Theosophy inculcates, and it is by opportunity for their exercise that they are developed. It is, however, always open for those who prefer the more peaceful life of a student to keep themselves free. The first requisite for a Theosophist is devotion to his ideals; not a merely ideal devotion that entails no sacrifice, but a devotion that will drive him triumphantly through any obstacles and discouragements that may beset his path.
The truth is worth fighting for, and nothing really worth having is to be had for the mere asking. We must not expect that things will be made too easy for us. If the inquirer has met with two or more societies, and is in doubt which to join, that is not a good reason for joining none. It would be wiser for him to try them all and make up his mind which of them will best enable him to pursue his ideal. A man must do his own thinking, make his own decisions.
Instead of complaining that the lofty ideal of brotherhood is not so fully realized as it ought to be, let us do what we can to make it better realized; and if we cannot help, at least let us refrain from contributing our mite to the universal habit of magnifying the faults of our fellows while overlooking their excellences.
"How Do You Know?"
How would you answer the question most frequently put to Theosophists who are trying to interest others: "How do you Theosophists know these things?" — L. M. P.
J. T. — Just as there are masters and adepts in the human arts and sciences, so are there masters and adepts in the science of life and the wisdom of the ages. These great men, who are known as Mahatmans, first inspired the founding of the Theosophical Society in 1875 in order to awaken men once more to their glorious possibilities. They taught and trained the foundress, H. P. Blavatsky. These Flowers of the human race have developed their inner powers and hence have great vision and understanding of things as they are in their essences. Everything of any importance originates in the inner invisible worlds, therefore, if we are to understand the visible world we live in, which is merely the outer effect of inner causes, we must develop our higher powers and inner senses. This demands a higher training than is known to most men. Until we have undergone this spiritual disciplinary life which is necessary in order to attain wisdom at first hand we naturally look to the truths and teachings given to us by these Adepts of Wisdom. We know about these deeper truths of the universe because we have been taught by disciples of these Mahatmans.