Brotherhood of Man

Don Wilder

In his book, The Sacred Writings of the World's Great Religions, S. E. Frost, Jr. has listed the teachings regarding Brotherhood as follows:

Buddhism: A friend is a great treasure and should be cherished as a brother.
: All men are brothers. One should make peace with his brother before attending to religious duties. As one treats a brother, so he treats God. To hate one's brother is evil. Brotherly love should rule the world.
Confucianism: Friendship, brotherhood, are the cardinal virtues. One should love his friends as brothers.
Hinduism: The good man makes no distinction between friend and foe, brother or stranger, but regards them all with impartiality
Jainism: Treat all men as brothers at all times. As one treats men, he should also treat all animals. They are our brothers also.
Judaism: God made all men brothers and they should live together as brothers at all times.
Mohammedanism: All mankind is one family, one people. All men are brothers and should live as such.
Shintoism: Heaven is the father and earth the mother of all men. Therefore, all men are brothers and should dwell together as such. By so living the country will be free from hate and sorrow.
Taoism: The spirit of brotherhood, kindness, is necessary if one would win friends.
Zoroastrianism: One's friends should be holy people. A holy man will radiate holiness to all his friends.

All of these religions have taught the Brotherhood of Man; they have voiced this concept in many different ways, but always from an ethical or moral approach. The difficulty with this is, that while all readily admit its moral value, it is still an ethical concept that each individual may accept and practice or reject and ignore at his own discretion. It is a cloak that may be donned for protection in the inclement weather of personal affliction; but is far too often left hanging in the closet of indifference when the storms of adversity strike others. In other words, the Brotherhood of Man, or better, Universal Brotherhood, as an ethical or moral concept is not sufficiently powerful or pervasive. It is too dependent upon the moral responsibility of the individual. In spite of all religious teachings, it has not as yet become an active force in the consciousness of humanity, and as an ethical concept it never will until we become much more highly evolved morally.

Actually, Universal Brotherhood is more than an ethical concept. It is a basic, fundamental, universal law of nature. And while, as a force or energy that acts between the intangibles of emotional, intellectual and spiritual qualities, it cannot be precisely appraised, nevertheless, an infraction of the laws of Brotherhood brings retribution just as surely and relentlessly as the infraction of any other natural law.

Science is every day proving how completely interrelated and interdependent everything on this earth is. In the first place, physical matter exists in three forms: solid, liquid, and gaseous; earth, water and air. The earth can produce nothing without water. Water is transported by the air currents, the air currents are given movement by variations in the temperature and are guided and directed by the shape and contours of land and water masses. The temperature variations are caused by the movement of the earth on its axis and around the sun. The physical climate of all places at all times is the result of these interactions. There is no place on earth that is separate from or independent of these interactions.

Again, all plant life is dependent upon the mineral elements of the earth, which can only be utilized through the agents of water, air, and sunlight. All animal life, including man, is dependent upon the plant life, not only for food, but for the oxygen that animal life requires; while plant life in turn utilizes the carbon dioxide discarded by animal life. Most plant life is also dependent upon insect life for the cross-pollination that assures the propagation of the species. There is nothing discarded by any form of life that is not used by some other form of life. All forms of life are dependent upon other forms of life or other departments of nature.

The same interdependence exists in the forces and energies of nature. Electricity is generated for the most part by chemical and mechanical methods. The chemical is the interaction of different elements in solution, as the storage battery and dry cell. The mechanical is movement of conductors in a magnetic field, the dynamo and generator. Heat is defined as molecular motion, or the internal energy of substance or matter. Cohesion is the power or force that holds the molecules of a substance together. Gravitation is simply an observed force that exists between masses of matter. Magnetism is an observed force or energy that emanates from certain forms of matter. There seems to be nothing to indicate that any force or energy in nature has separate existence. They all appear to be qualities or attributes of matter.

All nature thus proves that there is nothing existent that is not dependent upon a great many other things. There is nothing separate, different or unique — including man himself.

Man is the acme or peak of a vast and very ancient evolutionary pattern. He has tendrils that extend into every strata of nature; he utilizes its substances and forces; his body is built of the substances and functions through the forces, electrical, chemical, and mechanical. The actual construction and operation of man's physical body is no different from that of any other living organism. Nature never varies from the one universal plan. The same processes, substances, and forces are used to build a microbe, a flower, an elephant, or a man. There is only a multiplicity of variation on a simple, basic theme. Separateness and uniqueness do not exist in nature. The body of man is a perfect example of this. There is not an organ in our bodies that does not influence in varying amounts every other organ; and in a lesser degree the same may be said of every cell.

Man has besides his physical body, an emotional nature, intellectual capacity and spiritual qualities. He has consciousness, a consciousness that gives him an awareness of himself and of the objective world. An awareness that may be distorted by the kaleidoscope of his emotions, logically perceived and related to his environment by the eyes of his mind; or make him intuitively and mystically cognizant that he is a part of a Great Oneness through the lens of his spiritual qualities.

The farther man climbs the heights of discernment, the broader extend the horizons of his consciousness. From the emotional level, man sees but a short way, as through a dense, murky smog where only close objects are clear and well defined. Beyond these limits all becomes hazy, vague, and obscure. Far too great a part of humanity is content to remain on this emotional plateau rather than attempt the difficult slopes to intellectual knowledge or the steeps that lead to spiritual wisdom.

Most people can feel a oneness with those they love: the members of the immediate family; close and intimate friends; a feeling of brotherliness toward all they know and like — a brotherhood that extends as far as their emotional vision permits them to see with clearness. But those who have attained the higher levels of discernment have broadened their field of vision. From such as these have come the concepts of democracy, education for all, equal rights, freedom of worship and speech, ethics in commerce and the professions, and all that has contributed to a continually higher standard of living — a recognition of the Brotherhood of Man.

(From Sunrise magazine, October 1953; copyright © 1953 Theosophical University Press)

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