In the Light of Theosophy

Globalization, says George Soros, chairman of the Open Society Institute, based in New York, is the answer to many of the world's ills—but not just globalization in its current form of international trade. For globalization to work, he says, nations—especially affluent nations like the U.S.—will have to start making moral considerations an integral part of their foreign policy: "I think there is now greater awareness that what goes on in the rest of the world is of vital importance to us. We can't have failed states and corrupt and inefficient governments in the rest of the world if we want to be safe and prosperous at home."

Extracts from his recent book, George Soros on Globalization, are printed in New Scientist for April 27:

The lesson we have to learn is that morality has to play a larger role in international affairs. The asymmetric threats that confront us arise out of the asymmetry that we have identified in globalization: we have global markets but we do not have a global society. And we cannot build a global society without taking into account moral considerations.

It requires a profound change of attitude, a veritable change of heart. Such a radical change is not possible in normal times, but these are not normal times. We have become aware how precarious our civilization is. It does not make sense to devote all our energies to improving our relative position in a social system when the system itself is drifting toward disaster....We must abandon the unthinking pursuit of narrow self-interest and give some thought to the future of humanity.

Failure to accept the interdependence of humanity on the part of individuals and nations is the root cause of many of the problems we are facing.

It is an occult law [says H.P.B.], that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as "Separateness"; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive. (The Key to Theosophy, p. 20)

Flowering plants changed the face of our world millions of years ago. The drab earth got transformed into a bouquet of colours. This was about 130 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, say today's researchers. (National Geographic, July 2002)

Paleobotanists are searching for an answer to the question as to how the first flowering plants emerged. They are seeking for clues in fossilized flowers, discovered throughout the 1900s on several continents. At the same time, they say, the field of genetics has "brought a whole new set of tools to the search."

The search goes on, with some molecular biologists working to decipher the genealogy of flowering plants by studying the DNA of today's species. Elizabeth Zimmer of the Smithsonian Institution and her colleagues, for instance, are looking in their shared data for groups of plants with common inherited traits, hoping eventually to identify a common ancestor to all flowering plants.

Is the origin of plants in general any more understood than the origin of flowers? Physical changes in any organism are preceded by internal changes. This is at the heart of every evolutionary development. It is now an acknowledged fact that plants have a consciousness and intelligence of their own, but until the "life force," which is the guiding force in the evolution of any organism, is accepted and understood, biological secrets will not be unraveled.

H.P.B. repeated an ancient teaching when she said:

The different variations of plants, etc., are the broken rays of one Ray. As the ray passes through the seven planes, it is broken on every plane into thousands and millions of rays down to the world of forms, every ray breaking into an intelligence on its own plane. So that we see every plant has an intelligence, or its own purpose of life, so to speak, and its own freewill, to a degree....A plant can be receptive or non-receptive, though every plant without an exception feels and has a consciousness of its own. But besides the latter, every plant—from the gigantic tree down to the minutest fern or blade of grass—has, Occultism teaches us, an Elemental entity of which it is the outward clothing on this plane. (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, p. 97)

H.P.B. goes on to explain that each plant has its Karma and it is on this that its growth depends. "This Karma proceeds from the lower Dhyan Chohans who trace out and plan the growth of the tree."

Plant intelligence manifests in various ways. Plants have more than thorns and thistles to protect themselves; they use chemical signals as well, which not only repel insect enemies but also help to put neighbouring plants on alert so they can mount their own defences, says Ian Baldwin, a biologist and the director of the Molecular Ecology Department at the Max planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. Baldwin, with the help of his team and his equipment, which he has stationed in the Utah desert, has launched a new study of how plants defend themselves—a question he has pursued for 20 years. Discover magazine (April 2002) reports:

He and his colleagues are using chemical sensors to investigate plant communications: cries for help, invitations, even warnings, each in the form of odour molecules that float past human noses unnoticed. The harder biologists look for these signals, the more they find. They have already discovered that plants can send chemical cues to repel insect enemies, as well as signals that attract allies—other insects that are pleased to eat the insects eating the plant. But that is only the start of a more complex scenario, for Baldwin and others have also found that nearby plants can listen in to this conversation and gear up their own defences.

"Eventually, we will use the information we get here to breed agricultural crops that call out to their insect allies more loudly and more consistently," says Baldwin....

In 1988 Marcel Dicke and his colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands offered evidence that plants under insect attack could enlist help from the enemies of their enemies. Dicke found that when spider mites attack lima bean plants, the plants release a chemical SOS that attracts another mite that preys on the spider mite...."Today," Dicke says, "the scientific community agrees that plants talking to their bodyguards is likely to be a characteristic of most, if not all, plant species."

With time, persistence, and the use of new techniques, scientists' attitudes are changing. What was once dismissed by them is now being accepted. Researchers now find it reasonable that plants can pick up on—and use—each other's signals. "If plants talk to their bodyguards," says Dicke, "then why would their neighbours not take advantage of that and eavesdrop on the message? The topic of plant-to-plant communication is back on the agenda, and the evidence is accumulating."

Some years ago, Soviet biologists found that plants have a sophisticated and perfect nervous system. They respond sensitively to the least changes in the environment, and send relevant reports to a nerve center which, like the human or animal brain, controls their functioning. Furthermore, it was found that plants have memory and a language of their own.

Should this not breed in us a respect for the lower kingdoms of Nature which the ancients possessed and which we have since lost?

Wilderness, says Roderick Frazier Nash, is a moral resource. "We desperately need the ethical discipline wilderness provides." Nash, who is professor emeritus of history and environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, writes in New Scientist:

Conceived as the habitat of other species, not as a human playground, wilderness is the best environment in which to learn that humans are members in, and not masters of, the community of life. And this ethical idea, working as a restraint in our relations with the environment, may be the starting point for saving this planet....

The larger part of the energy of early civilization was directed at conquering wilderness in nature and disciplining it in human nature. For the first time humans saw themselves as distinct from—and, they reasoned, better than—the rest of nature. They began to think of themselves as masters, not members, of the community of life....

It was hard to imagine other living things as relatives, or nature as sacred. The community concepts, and attendant ethical respect, that had worked to curb human self-interest in dealings with nature declined in direct proportion to the "rise" of civilization. Nature lost its significance as something to which people belonged and became something they possessed: an adversary, a target, an object for exploitation....Our species has become a terrible neighbour to the 30 million and more other species sharing space on this planet.

This is not really an "environmental problem." It's a human problem. What needs to be conquered now is not the wilderness, but ourselves. We need to understand that it is civilization that is out of control.

Mind-pollution is more serious than chemical pollution. It is time to understand that there is no "good life" without a good environment and that it is a false prosperity that cannot be sustained over the long ecological haul. Growth must be dissociated from progress. Bigger is not better if the system is destroyed. As the deep ecologist recognize, we must now emphasize wholes over parts, and pursue justice at the level of entire ecosystems. A new valuation of wilderness is an excellent place to start.

Wilderness preservation expresses a belief in the rights of nature. Our species is intoxicated with its power and has so far failed to recognize that our basic interests are inextricably linked to those of the greater environmental whole. The concept of "growth" has been carried too far. Respecting wilderness, then, "is prudent as well as ethically enlightened."

What is the aim of all medicine? All drugs, surgeries and medical research programmes have one end—to relieve physical suffering. Yet few ask—why do we suffer? How does one really cure suffering? Is there another way? Nolini Kanta Gupta's article (Namah, 15 July 2002), reproduced from his Collected Works, explores these questions:

The world is ridden with diseases and privations and calamities. And if something is done to alleviate them, it is as it should be; activities in that direction deserve full encouragement. But this does not go far enough, does not touch the root of the matter....

It is not true that when one's wants are met, one always becomes or remains happy. Happiness is a quality that depends upon something else and comes from elsewhere: it is not directly proportional to material well-being. Unhappiness too is a psychological entity and consists in a special vibration of mind and vitality—and consequently of the physical being—due to a warp in the consciousness itself, in the core of the inner personality. The material conditions serve only to manifest it, maintain or aggravate it, but do not create it—truly they are created by it. That is why the unhappy mortals are always called to turn to the Divine in their distress.

True charity consists in laying the healing balm upon the sore that lies hidden behind all external miseries. And it is in the sole possession of him alone who has found the bliss of the Spirit and dwells in it always. Such a person does not require external accessories for his work of healing and comforting. His presence itself is healing power: the patient feels it and wonders at the ease and happiness that come into him....

The healing power is in the spiritual consciousness, the inalienable bliss of one's status in the Spirit. One becomes identified with each and every object—person or thing—in one's own self, in the true being and substance; and the light and happiness that one possesses there inalienably go out in a spontaneous flow to others who are not really others but integral parts and portions of the same self.

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