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Editorial 4

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One of the natural pursuits of the human mind is to investigate. Even small children want to know and investigate everything. Many among the most intelligent people of the human race dedicate their life and joy to just that: to look around, to perceive, to go deeper and deeper, and to explain the phenomena of the universe. Science can be about the physical world, about human psychology, about society or about apparently inexplicable occult phenomena, about social life, about politics, economics, etc. True scientists have in common that they reject every ‘belief’ in the sense of accepting unverifiable statements – even if the source is another scientist, a Buddha or a Christ. The Buddha himself stated that one should never blindly accept a statement merely on basis of authority, whether from scripture, an accepted common opinion or even of what he himself taught.

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At the same time all scientists have one ‘God’ or ‘Goddess’ in common: Truth itself. Truth shows many attributes to the outer world, but is ultimately attributeless in essence. If we would not inherently believe that deeper knowledge and closer approximation of ultimate reality or realities existed, we wouldn’t even start thinking about the world. We would just follow the haphazard impulses that come to us. We believe this inherently. This seems to have been the case in all cultures we know of. The Babylonians, the Chinese, the Indians, the pre-Columbian Native North and South Americans, the ancients Greeks and Egyptians – they all studied the skies and developed astronomy, a biological and medical science, knowledge about minerals and the properties of nature and true magical sciences and other sciences and created practical implications, for example in agricultural or medical technology.

We live in an age in which (ideally) every child learns to read and study, to gather information, perceive correctly and think logically. Most social systems nowadays offer children from whatever status or caste the possibility to expand themselves intellectually if they are inclined to do so. Moreover we have a technical extension of our senses which places everything in known history in the shadow.

All this may have made modern science too proud of itself, and many scientists take it for granted that the findings of modern research are the only reliable sources of knowledge. However there are a few factors which one does not commonly take into account.

One of these factors is that, contrary to the habits of modern culture, previous scientists often did everything they could to sharpen and purify their mind. Ancient scientists often were yogis, living austere lives, rejecting foods, drinks, habits and social behavior which could negatively influence their mind. Such people literally sacrificed some attachments and comforts of life to the pursuit of knowledge, and there may be some doing that today as well.

A second factor is that in almost all cultures the mind is seen as limited in scope, and that there are holy men, accomplished yogis, enlightened men and women who had been able to transcend the level of the common human mind. Such people were supposed to have reached a deeper insight in reality than can be gained by mere reasoning. They could have the developed the property of direct right insight or ‘omniscience.’ Statements made by such high men and women were regarded as authoritative. But authoritativeness does not imply blind repetition of what they say, because that would dull the mind of the investigator himself, and he would exclude himself from reaching the same level. Such individuals were known as buddhas, bodhisattvas, tīrthakaras, ṛṣis, sages, etc. Thus science could be not only inductive by nature, but could approach the object of knowledge from two sides together, inductive and deductive.

A third factor is that many cultures have accepted and taught the existence of many gods. Though there is but one essence, call it Allah or Brahm or Grandfather Great Spirit or Śunyatā or Truth, some systems have taught the existence in the unseen worlds of many (even millions) of gods or deities. Such entities are supposed to be really existing beings who have been humans in the past, but have reached a stage of knowledge and potency to apply this knowledge which is ‘super-human.’ And in most cases they have no more need to live in a physical body on the plane of perceptions we ourselves are acquainted with. Still they can manifest themselves, for example in pure and rightly attuned human minds – and in such cases we speak of ‘intuition’ or ‘inspiration.’ These gods are perfected beings belonging to all aspects which build the human being: great but not perfect – they are just beings who have already reached what we are striving for. They are perfected human beings with specific specializations. For example, Sarasvatī is the Indian goddess of Science, Chenrezi is the Tibetan deity of Compassion – while many Tibetans (among whom the Dalai Lama) and other people in the world are regarded as ‘incarnations’ of Chenrezig1. That means they attune their whole mind and effort to Chenrezig, and thus ‘incarnate’ a ‘ray’ of that great deity of Compassion. Reasoning forth along this line we might presume that great men like Albert Einstein or Giordano Bruno or Johann Sebastian Bach or Paracelsus were at times truly inspired people, and that each of them will in far future be gods themselves. They will help humanity if they have enough compassion to engage themselves in it. Such ‘facts’ are difficult or impossible to prove by a science which strictly limits itself to physical matter and chemistry. The above ideas, of course, we can only speculate upon when we belief in continuous reincarnation of the individual human mind-essence in order to continue its development until such a state of godhood is reached. Once godhood is reached – a rare event in our days – these gods remain subject to the universal laws of cyclic manifestation, but not of reincarnation (i.e. taking on a body of flesh). Reincarnation was and is taken for granted as well as conditio sine qua non for gaining wisdom in many cultures.

A fourth factor, which is greatly overlooked in our days, is the existence of other forms of matter than physical matter. Due to their sensitivity and closeness to Nature, for some people it was and is beyond doubt that there exist worlds other than the physical, worlds which can be perceived by the extended senses of persons who we would now call clairvoyants, clairaudients, psychics, etc. Such worlds have their own properties and their own illusions, but are nevertheless as truly existent as the physical world. It was also found that there is a strong relation between the ‘unseen’ (by physical eyes) and the seen. The phenomena of the seen world can not be fully explained without understanding the non-physical aspects of the universe. If modern science is to make further fundamental progress, it is inescapable that science directs itself towards investigations in these directions.

A fifth factor is that, whereas science in our days is entirely based on extroversion, whereas science in other cultures has been based on introversion as well as extroversion. The philosophy of science encompassed the idea of analogy between the large and the small, between the universal and the particular, the macrocosm and the microcosm. The laws or workings of nature find their expression on each level, though in endless combinations and varieties. Today we are aware that properties like characteristic wave absorption of atoms is the same on earth as it is light years away; that laws like gravity, electricity and magnetism are universal within the field of physical matter and that newly discovered forces such as the weak and strong nuclear forces are as valid in remote galaxies as in our own. This analogy may be stretched much further though: because we humans have mind, the universe has mind; because we humans have consciousness, the universe has consciousness. Because we humans have perception, the universe has perception. Because we humans have a feeling of purpose and free will, so is the nature of the universe. This universe we may just as well call God, if you like: it is and contains everything of which we find expression within ourselves – however limited and faint it may be for our present consciousness.

The logical consequence is that we can study the universe by studying ourselves, as well as the other way round. We can watch our own mind, our own feelings, our deeper purposes, our various energies, and develop wisdom. Wisdom is nothing else than approaching or clarifying the essence of the universe in all its aspects, and to be able to destroy illusions. This looking into ourselves, unbiased, undisturbed, with a clear and open mind, is what is called meditation: not so much looking outside with our external sense organs and instruments, but looking inside with the ever refining instrument of a calm mind, and ultimately transcending the limitations of our mind.

The universe is holistic not only in the physical sense of the word, but also includes the astral, mental and buddhic worlds; the universe includes consciousness, perception, ‘happiness’ semi-conscious forces (reflected in the material world as the forces described by modern science), purpose, wisdom, and an essence in which these all exist and from which these all manifest. The physical plane is but one plane – in the Indian scriptures we find at least seven planes of matter, of which only the most contracted is our physical matter.

In the last century we have seen a slowly growing (and at times an explosive but quickly subsiding) interest in the scientific accomplishments of other cultures in at least the fringes of the scientific world, but a break-through seems as yet not to have been reached. We have also seen in our last centuries in the West the fashions of believing in ghosts, excarnate beings with whom communication is possible, and all kinds of angels. Then, regarding the subhuman side of the universe people in all ages and all countries, including our own have reported seeing or otherwise perceiving elves, elfins, gnomes, fire salamander – thousands of types the world over. Should modern science close its eyes for these phenomena, or should it see them as part of the whole without knowledge of which a complete explanation of life, the world and the universe will never be possible?

This being a theosophical and not a traditional scientific website, we will post articles pointing towards possible alternative approaches of which we feel that they may be of value for the future development of science, and which may stimulate younger scientists to search along lines which may deviate from the traditional. Only in this way progress can be made.

We hope that this still small section of the website will be gradually extended with sound articles.

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  1. The Tibetan divinity of Universal Compassion; in Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara []