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Ecology is the science concerned with the interconnectedness of things “especially as manifested by natural cycles and rhythms” (Webster’s Third International Dictionary). Occidental ecology studies an ecosystem as a unit of individuals each striving for their own benefit, adapting to the given and changing biological, physical and chemical environment. At best beings cooperate because they co-evolved into a condition of mutual benefit. The interdependence of certain creatures, such as figs and wasps, has been established by accidental evolutionary steps, which finally led to a situation beneficial to both. Being successful, even the possibility of independence was selected away. What is hidden beneath the surface of ecological and evolutionary theory is a metaphysical motivation of self-preservation, success for oneself, and selfishness in general. There is in the pessimistic occidental view no recognition of an inherent factor of service to a greater purpose in nature, service to the community of all beings on earth, or of a harmonious overtone to which all beings (unconsciously, semi-consciously, or consciously) obey. The West has lost the idea of a divine presence pervading all things, of a spiritual musical score according to which each plays (or tries to play) its individual tune in the universal symphony. The predominant scientific opinion sees only “blind” matter, but not intelligence, nor divine consciousness of beauty and harmony as inherent parts of an ecosystem. Yet who does not stand in awe when allowing himself or herself to be engulfed by the soft sounds of a tropical rainforest, or when abiding in places of pristine purity in nature. The view is different with other cultures. Buddhists see the Buddha-nature – which means wisdom and compassion, not blindness and selfishness – inherent in all manifestations of nature. According to Buddhism everything serves a higher purpose to reach the final goal of evolution. Everything helps everything because that is the real meaning of compassion. Evolution will lead us to unsoiled awareness of the essence of all being, unsoiled by any illusionary or erroneous mental perception. The obvious cruelties which keep the ecological balance within the animal kingdom are then considered just ripples of transient imperfection on the road to unspeakable and universal insight and bliss. These imperfections in the human as well as other kingdoms of nature are karma – results of actions disharmonious with the higher inner laws of nature. We with our senses and instruments can perceive only the omnipresence of physical matter and the coarser manifestations of energy. But from the standpoint of theosophy or Hinduism all principles of nature are omnipresent. Mind is considered by them omnipresent in the universe; so is intelligence. Beauty is then a reflection, a recognition, of the divine presence in every facet of nature. Desire is everywhere: it was the motor of each universe’s birth as well as of each individual action. Life is everywhere, and so on. We humans and other living beings contain all these universal principles within us. Our intelligence is a small-scale and but slightly awakened drop of universal intelligence. Are these ideas, reflected in the philosophical systems of cultures which have often shown themselves superior to the West in social, artistic and environmental accomplishments to be put aside as superstitions? Are these in any sense less philosophical than the occidental views? If not, why not wholeheartedly embrace them as the gifts of great thinkers to the new cultures of the future?

Many great philosophers have revealed to the human mind what nature in all her being continuously exposes: the great interworking of divine, intelligent and lower forces, resulting in ecosystems and individuals of astounding beauty and intelligent balance within which there is room for each individual. Individuals and species in their lowest expression may be guided by selfish greed until they learn, perhaps out of despair, to turn to their god within. This, then, is the goal of existence.

For the western mind it is difficult to accept that the minerals in the earth were originally conceived in a higher mind, exactly to serve that purpose. For the mind of an Australian Aboriginal of High Degree, or a Jain or a theosophist, it is equally difficult, if not impossible, to accept that all this came about by chance, and that somewhere along the line selfishness was born out of nothing to become the guiding power of living nature. I am curious (and more hopeful than afraid) which line of thought humanity at large will choose in the coming centuries.

We see that the ecosystems of non-western cultures include numerous hierarchies of invisible beings of a higher or lower nature. Trained yogis or occult initiates in the higher Mysteries are said to be able to communicate with and understand such creatures. There is record of devoted students of spiritual truth who can confabulate with the “gods,” and thus transfer their influence by their insights and works for the well-being of humanity and the kingdoms of nature. In a sense we all do so in a degree when we really unselfishly attune our mind to what is beneficial universal truth for the well-being of others, above the illusions of our personal opinions. This leads to promptings of unselfish love and intuition.

All the realms of the physical as well as spiritual ecosystems seem to exist within us: we are humans, but have the animal desire, vegetable vitality, and mineral firmness within us. But we also have higher levels within our psychological constitution, represented by hierarchies of divinities situated within again hierarchically ordered levels. If such higher and more subtle hierarchies would be studied from a psychological point of view, we would learn to recognize the higher and refined aspects of our own psychology.


Global Philosophical and Ethical Concepts:

Cycles, Causality, Ecology and Evolution in Various Traditions and their Relevance for Modern Biology

By Rudi Jansma

Motilal Barnarsidass, Delhi, India & Prakrit Bharati Academi, Jaipur India, 2010, hc 2Vols., 941 pp.

ISBN-10: 8120831985; ISBN-13: 978-8120831988