Mar 29, 2020

Doing What Depends on Us

The Right Kind of Attention Produces Victory

Carlos Cardoso Aveline




Economic, political and social life now undergoes a high speed change whose end results are yet to be known.

Every aspect of the present civilization is going through a transmutation which causes multiple positive and negative effects. There are no mere spectators.

The actions of one individual affect all. In other words, one must be aware of the domino effect or the law of interaction. The theory of complexity confirms the butterfly effect, which establishes the power of a small event to change the whole world.

It would be unintelligent and inefficient to pretend we don’t know of the mirror effect. The law of reciprocity operates in all interactions.  Everyone is a psychological looking glass to each human being. Now is the right time therefore to act in peace and serenity so as not to expand the sources of trouble, in the first place, and to reduce them as far as possible through intelligent cooperative action. 

Wherever there is good will, there is a healthy path. 

It is better to make mistakes for being too careful than to err by being careless. Practical measures taken by individual initiative can be easily chosen and decided upon, according to practical reality.

A decisive point consists in keeping our state of mind active and elevated, centered in constructive effort. Each day makes a difference: the velocity of facts is enormous.  Regarding dangers, individual and collective, we must build a practical preemptive strategy that includes all departments of life.

Every citizen can obtain a deep feeling of tranquillity from knowing that he is doing today what depends on him. One can always practice right action according to his possibilities. A clean and clear conscience allows us not to worry too much with that which is not our duty to do.

In times of calamity, one must remember that there is no death, except on the physical plane. Only the lower self dies. Reincarnation - gilgul, rolling or recycling in Judaism - is a fact in nature. However, the physical body and the “personal” self are valuable instruments of the Spirit. Preserving these tools in honest ways while cooperating with one’s fellow beings is the right thing to do.

In dangerous circumstances, two childish mistakes ought to be avoided by the use of common sense:

1) The first error is an attitude of indifferent passivity regarding social changes that are potentially catastrophic. The present turning of the page in History takes place in all spheres of life at once. The Butterfly Effect means that a good-willing individual has the potential to make a vast difference, which tends to remain unseen and unacknowledged. This is correct, for sowing is better than harvesting.  

2) The other mistake to be avoided consists in an excessive level of personal anxiety, which makes it more difficult to develop effective action. Selfishness should not be on the agenda.  Panic is worse than useless.  An essential serenity results from knowing that we are doing the best we can.

Generous actions that aim at defending Life are both a duty and a privilege. If we seize the positive opportunities surrounding us right now, other bright potentialities will become visible.

In the Jewish tradition, Simeon the Just used to say:

“The world stands on three things: on Torah [the Law], Divine worship, and acts of loving-kindness.”[1]

Such a fundamental statement implies that the world falls apart whenever a sense of Duty, or Law, is too weak; or when the divine world gets forgotten and the feeling of respectful kindness is left aside.

The three points highlighted by Simeon the Just are the moral sources of social peace, and their absence the origin of social (and political) chaos. These principles or the absence of them pave the way to the beginning and end of civilizations. What about individual action according to free will?

Some rules must be followed, in order to preserve good sense and develop right action in troubling times. A few of them were taught almost 2,000 years ago by Epictetus, who said:

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can’t control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible.”

Inner tranquillity and outer effectiveness are the right things to preserve and expand in the present world transition. Epictetus clarifies:

“Within our control are our opinions, aspirations, desires, and the things that repel us. These areas are quite rightly our concern, because they are directly subject to our influence.  We always have a choice about the contents and character of our inner lives. Outside our control, however, are such things as what kind of body we have, whether we’re born into wealth or strike it rich, how we are regarded by others, and our status in society. We must remember that that those things are externals and are therefore not our concern. Trying to control or to change what we can’t only results in torment.”

The Stoic philosopher says one must remember this:

“The things within our power are naturally at our disposal, free from any restraint or hindrance; but those things outside our power are weak, dependent, or determined by the whims and actions of others.”

The path to frustration is indicated by him, so that it can be better avoided: 

“Remember, too, that if you think that you have free rein over things that are naturally beyond your control, or if you attempt to adopt the affairs of others as your own, your pursuits will be thwarted and you will become a frustrated, anxious, and fault-finding person.” [2]

The quality of your thoughts and feelings is your immediate responsibility. It is a grave mistake to allow your mind to be led by random subconscious wishes and fears.  

Mental dispersion is not an innocent mistake and may provoke one’s death. The Pirke Avoth says that mindless interruption in the study of one’s spiritual teaching attracts destruction to the careless individual, or to society. [3] 

Trivial behavior brings about calamities. Irving M. Bunim points out:

“Our attention-range and mental capacity are ultimately limited. When trivia take over, the age-old teachings […] are sure to go. He who deliberately substitutes a thousand and one items of worthless nonsense for the principles of [spiritual] law and lore, surely incurs a guilt that will cost him his very soul.” [4] 

Balance and common sense stimulate goodwill, which in turn opens the door to bliss. It is not a clever thing to do, to forget that the state of a community is but a reflection of the state of the minds and souls in it. The effective way to improve society consists in expanding awareness. The right kind of attention produces a sense of common responsibility which defeats selfishness and avoids unnecessary pain. 

NOTES:

[1] “Ethics from Sinai”, an eclectic, wide-ranging commentary on Pirke Avoth, by Irving M. Bunim, 3-volume edition, Philipp  Feldheim, Inc., New York, copyright 1964, see volume I, Perek I, Mishnah 02, p. 38. See also Perek 1, Mishnah 18, page 106 in the same volume, where Rabban Simeon ben Gamaliel mentions equivalent principles: “By three things does the world endure: truth, justice and peace”.

[2] “The Art of Living”, Epictetus, a new interpretation by Sharon Lebell, HarperSanFrancisco, New York, copyright 1994, first edition, 114 pp., see p. 03.

[3] “Ethics from Sinai”, a commentary on Pirke Avoth, by Irving M. Bunim, 3-volume edition, Philipp Feldheim, Inc., New York, see vol. I, Perek III, Mishnah 09, p. 266: “If one is travelling on the road and is reviewing the Torah that he has learned, and he breaks off his study and says, ‘How lovely is that tree, how lovely is that field’, Scripture regards him as though he has incurred guilt to pay with his life.”  The pilgrim must have the thorough and calm vigilance of a warrior in battle. See also Mishnah 10, page 270 in the same volume.

[4] “Ethics from Sinai”, Irving M. Bunim, vol. I, Perek III, Mishnah 10, p. 272.

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The above article was published in the associated websites on 29 March 2020, being reproduced from our blog at “The Times of Israel”.  

Click to see the text “The First Step in Healing”, by CCA. Read “The Meaning of a Pandemic”, by Steven H. Levy. Take a look at the book “Man and Society in Calamity”, by Pitirim A. Sorokin.

You might want to watch “Video: Visualizing the Future of Mankind”.

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Mar 24, 2020

A Russian Philosopher Looks at the Mountains

Living With Gentle Visions,
Prophetic Images, Divine Dreams

Ivan A. Il’in

The Mountains in Dombay, Russia
  


When I see snow-covered mountains rising up in the distance toward the clouds, my heart trembles with unexpected joy. Ancient and silenced memories awaken within me, as if I had already contemplated these images at some time past, and thus have always longed for them, as if the most wonderful and sacred promises were being fulfilled.

I stand awed and overwhelmed, and do not know if I should believe this sight, so light, so bold is this sweep to the skies. How gentle, how illusory are the outlines. And how powerful are the masses of earth hidden within them. I see the earth rising up toward the heavens, I see the heavens embracing it, I see how the earth becomes lost in the heavens as they merge together - can it be that the earth itself becomes part of the heavens? Is this not a dream? Or is perhaps this vision a true reality, while the flat existence of every day is merely a weighty dream?

Where did this blessed trepidation come from, this feeling of approaching my native land? It is as if this splendor shining down from afar, this promised future, has emerged from my intimate past, from my existence before the creation of time …. Is my soul perhaps so “ancient of days” that I truly was present at the forming of the worlds? Or do these distant mountains perhaps recount to me what I was, what I am, what I will be - what splendor awaits me in the future?

Gentle visions, prophetic images, divine dreams …. But now the sight has vanished. The airy specters have been veiled by earthly mist and heavenly clouds. Only the heart whispers to me of the possible existence of the impossible.

Later, the mountains allow me to come among them: they draw me up, calmly and serenely letting me tread upon them and scale their steep peaks. Their calmness is passed on to me, and I climb ever higher. My ascent is slow; I must not and should not hurry, for much time is needed to overcome the high altitude, to become accustomed to it so that my head stops spinning from this sleepy mountain rebellion, so that my breathing does not stop from this prayer of nature…

I am already tired, but I do not want to and cannot think about my fatigue. A mysterious power calls me to the top. I am suddenly bent on going higher, higher, ever higher, as if a mighty and precipitate heave upward has taken hold of me and I am powerless to resist. Only after having exhausted all my efforts would it be possible to stop climbing and break away, but even then I would feel in my soul that I had fallen disgracefully short in a great deed. No, that would be impossible; I must keep going to the end, in order to experience the meaning and destiny of that ancient uprising for myself, to learn the restless prayer of the mountains…

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Published in the associated websites on 24 March 2020. Reproduced from the book “The Singing Heart”, by Ivan Ilyin (or Ivan A. Il’in), Orthodox Christian Translation Society, OCTS, USA, 2016, 190 pp., see pp. 108-109.  The three initial paragraphs are also published at the May 2017 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, page 09. 

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Mar 20, 2020

The First Step in Healing

A Few Lessons to Learn From
the Pandemic of 2019 Coronavirus

Carlos Cardoso Aveline




While one hundred nations undergo deep psychological and social change due to the pandemic spread of 2019 Coronavirus, Western civilization gets sternly confronted by a lesson or two in the law of life.

Asia has a different Karma, although similarities are many.

The pandemic brings about immediate transformations in economic, social and political scenarios. The nature of the changes may be drastic, but since they are extremely deep and multidimensional, it is not easy to understand them in the short term. Although decisions must be made with firmness, they have to be constantly reassessed and adjusted, sometimes in radical ways. Fundamental decisions of long-term effects are made side by side with decisive measures that may be needed only for a few months.

The core of our civilization is at stake.

The new situation might help Western nations repent and recover from the catastrophic process of perverting the Kundalini or vital energy of their citizens - as Damodar Mavalankar says in his 19th century article “Human Ethics and Earthquakes”.[1]

The sharp reduction in social interaction, necessary to protect life from the Coronavirus pandemic, forces many to look inward and take stock of their lives.

For centuries mankind has suffered from a selfish-materialistic deviation, and the disease has gotten worse since the early 20th century.

In the name of liberty and individual rights, stimuli have been granted to drug-addiction, alcoholism, falsehoods, vanity, sensualism, mental dispersion, abortion and euthanasia. Fanatical versions of false religiosity have grown side by side with the worship of money, environmental destruction, sexual perversions, financial crimes and nearly every form of moral blindness.

Once the lessons of self-restraint and voluntary simplicity are learned, the basic mistakes that destroy communities are left aside and the healing can start. However, the process of giving up individual and collective forms of active ignorance can only occur if people cease to love illusions, in the first place. This is seldom an easy thing to do.

Repentance and rejection of materialistic delusions makes it possible to attain once more a strong connection with one’s own spiritual soul and the divine world. In Judaism, Teshuvah, the return to the sacred, is an inner movement - of all Creation as well as particular individuals - toward perfection. For Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, “it is expressed in the life of the individual and of the nation, in cultural development and governmental improvement”. 

Rav Kook says:

“General penitence, which involves raising the world to perfection, and particularized penitence, which pertains to the personal life of each individual …. all constitute one essence. Similarly, all the cultural reforms through which the world rises from decadence, the improvements in the social and economic order through this redress of every form of wrongdoing … all of them constitute an inseparable whole.” [2]

Obstacles create opportunities. There’s no reason to exaggerate in sadness. The future ahead is sane and bright. Let us not cheat ourselves, though: is not through the practice of laziness that we will improve life. [3]

The planet and mankind are not in danger. However, the price to pay before arriving to the next and safer phase of evolution is still uncertain.

Mankind must learn from its mistakes, so as to build civilizations that deserve to live. The probationary transition to a better future might need more than one major catastrophe of devastating planetary dimensions. The good news is that this is only a danger and a possibility, however great in appearance. The door to wisdom never closes. Moral balance and karmic responsibility can also be developed in ways that avoid outward destruction in large scale.

Serious theosophical research shows Humanity is not abandoned. It has never been forgotten by the immortal sages. It is right now kindly observed, helped and accompanied by great souls. However, the behavior of its Teachers - the Masters of the Wisdom in theosophical parlance - is not that of over-zealous, neurotic mothers who insist in spoiling their children to death. 

The healing of nations will take place through the widespread practice of self-responsibility and brotherly cooperation. “Deserve, then desire” is the rule. The first step ahead to cease the causation process of unnecessary pain consists in understanding the causes and the consequences of an ethical defeat.

The present civilization is free to interrupt the process of self-destruction which results from the denial of moral duties. The next steps in regeneration must take place simultaneously on the various levels of life: spiritual, mental, emotional and physical. In order to avoid unnecessary suffering, we will have to awaken and be awakened from the sad nightmare of blind egocentrism.

NOTES:

[1] The text by Damodar is available Here.

[2] “On Repentance”, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Maggid Modern Classics, adapted and edited by Pinchas H. Peli, Maggid Books, first Maggid edition, 2017, printed in Jerusalem,  245 pp., see pp. 227-228.


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The above article was published in the associated websites on 20 March 2020, being reproduced from our blog at “The Times of Israel”. An initial and anonymous version of it is part of the March 2020 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pp. 1-2.

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Read more: “The Meaning of a Pandemic”, an article by Steven H. Levy, and “Man and Society in Calamity”, the book by Pitirim A. Sorokin.

You might want to watch “Video: Visualizing the Future of Mankind”.

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Mar 15, 2020

The 2019 Coronavirus and Universal Brotherhood

The Healing Law That Shines in Dark Times

Steven H. Levy




The underlying theme of the worldwide medical consensus on the best way to limit the pandemic spread of Coronavirus-19 is to isolate oneself physically and socially from external sources of infection by the virus.

Although protocols may vary, the degree of isolation becomes more restrictive depending on whether the individual is self-monitoring, self-quarantining or self-isolating.

The use of physical means, including all efforts to maintain and promote physical purity in one’s body and physical environment, is a sound general approach to the treatment of disease and the promotion of health. It is in perfect accord with Theosophical principles.

Physical self-isolation from potential physical contagion, when necessary, not only protects individuals but the community in which they live and by extension humanity as well. Along with practices that promote physical purity, self-isolation is in harmony with universal law. Consider the following correspondences which demonstrate the importance of active isolation and purity in combating disease and promoting health.

Spiritual health is maintained and promoted by seeking conscious union and refuge in the Higher Self thereby isolating oneself from the virulent disease of selfishness, caused by ideas that invade the mind and promote delusions of separateness.

Mental health is maintained and promoted by consciously peopling our inner life with altruistic and universal ideals that build an inner wall isolating the mind from virulent impressions of suspicion, doubt, fear, and anger, all of which are caused by the selfish desire for personal reward.

The desire nature is vital to all human action, physically, mentally and spiritually. It is kept pure and healthy by the active cultivation of high aspirations and noble feelings in harmony with the spiritual nature. This gradually isolates the desire principle from the influences of the astral and physical senses which excite lust, staining the desire principle with impure passions.

The health of the senses is promoted and maintained by active restraint and moderation which isolates them from virulent illusionary impressions produced  on the astral and physical plane, that adversely affect the health of the physical body.

Notice that the universal law involved is that of attraction and repulsion. In each example the acts of isolation and purity attract the constituents of the healthy state and repel the conditions of the unhealthy state. Another word for this universal law of attraction and repulsion, or affinity, is magnetism. It operates on the physical, psychic, mental, and spiritual planes of being.

The maintaining and promoting of inner magnetic purity and health, psychically, mentally and spiritually, is essential to maintaining and promoting physical health. Impure inner magnetism will adversely affect the physical health, just as physical impurity can adversely impact the inner magnetic purity. Hence the ancient wisdom of the phrase “a healthy mind and a healthy body”.

Returning to the medical recommendations for those who are in self-isolation or self-quarantine because of Covid-19, we see that these individuals may be advised to stay home, avoid public transportation, and avoid public areas.

They may be told to stay away from partners and children, and limit contact with pets and other animals. They may be advised not to share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in their homes. While these restrictions are extreme and obviously protect the individual and others from infection, they are also promoting a better inner magnetism unsuspected by either the patient or the doctor. This improved inner magnetism may have its outer and inner benefits as well.

It is interesting to note that these restrictions are very similar to those advised to chelas, or disciples, who need to maintain a pure and healthy inner magnetism.

H.P. Blavatsky gives examples of the discipline required by this level of discipleship in her article “Practical Occultism”. It includes 12 rules for promoting a pure inner magnetic condition. Number 8 and 10 deserve particular attention:

“8 - A Lanoo (disciple) has to dread external living influence alone (magnetic emanations from living creatures). For this reason while at one with all, in his inner nature, he must take care to separate his outer (external) body from every foreign influence: none must drink out of, or eat in his cup but himself. He must avoid bodily contact (i.e., being touched or touch) with human, as with animal being. [No pet animals are permitted and it is forbidden even to touch certain trees and plants. A disciple has to live, so to say, in his own atmosphere in order to individualize it for occult purposes.]”

“10 - No animal food of whatever kind, nothing that has life in it, should be taken by the disciple. No wine, no spirits, or opium should be used; for these are like the Lhamayin (evil spirits), who fasten upon the unwary, they devour the understanding. [Wine and Spirits are supposed to contain and preserve the bad magnetism of all the men who helped in their fabrication; the meat of each animal, to preserve the psychic characteristics of its kind.]” [1]

While this latter rule may not apply or be necessary for those who are not chelas, it does suggest that the ill person would be helped by following general medical advice to eat the healthiest diet possible for them, drink more pure water, and avoid beverages and intoxicants that would add unnecessary stress to the body’s resources to fight infection.

The inner magnetism may be optimized by other practices outlined in the same article by H.P. Blavatsky. These disciplines may be useful and beneficial to any Theosophist or individual who is attracted to the approach of holistic medicine.

For example, rules 3 and 4 emphasize the importance of keeping the mind at peace with all and especially with one’s companions in life. Rule 7 emphasizes the importance of chasing every hostile thought or prideful thought out of the heart and keeping it full of the feeling of non-separateness.

Rule 9 emphasizes the importance of continuously keeping before the mind the universal truths of nature. Rule 11 emphasizes the importance of meditation, performing our moral duties, and cultivating gentle thoughts, good deeds, kind thoughts and good will to all.

H.P. Blavatsky wrote that karma accounts for illness and suffering in our lives in a general way.  “[There] is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life.” [2]

Nevertheless, mankind has never been without a friend.

The Elder Brothers protect the infant humanity from itself and from any harm that might otherwise destroy it. They do so as they can, under law. They have left for us a message and keep it alive at every age. It is a path and a knowledge of the very Laws that assist us the most, in our darkest times.

NOTES:

[1] “Practical Occultism”. See pages 94-95 of volume two in “Theosophical Articles”, H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, a 3-volume compilation.

[2] “The Secret Doctrine”, vol. I, H. P. Blavatsky, pp. 643-634.

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The above article was published at the associated websites on 15 March 2020.

Read the article “The Meaning of a Pandemic”. Examine the book “Man and Society in Calamity”, by Pitirim A. Sorokin.

Click to see other texts by Steven H. Levy, M.D., a theosophist who lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. 

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Mar 13, 2020

The Aquarian Theosophist, March 2020





On page one of the March edition, the article “The First Step in Healing” says:

While one hundred nations undergo deep psychological and social change due to the pandemic spread of Coronavirus 19, Western civilization gets sternly confronted by a lesson or two in the law of life.

Asia has a different Karma, although similarities are many.

The pandemic brings about immediate transformations in economic, social and political scenarios. The nature of the changes may be drastic, but they are not easy to understand or manage in the short term.”

On page three we have a selection of “Passages From H.P. Blavatsky That Refer to Mesmer and Mesmerism”. The article “The Process of Levitation”, which is part of “Isis Unveiled”, the extraordinary book by Helena Blavatsky, will be seen on page six.

Page eight presents “Thoughts Along the Road”. The poem “Building a House in Heaven”, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, is on page ten. A few verses by Charles Churchill, which were quoted by Blavatsky, are on page 11 under the title of “To Accept or Not to Accept the Truth”.

The editorial note to our online edition of the book “Man and Society in Calamity”, by Pitirim A. Sorokin, is on pages 12-13. Then we have the initial paragraphs and the link of the article “The Meaning of a Pandemic”, by Steven H. Levy, MD, a theosophist who lives in Philadelphia.

With 14 pages, the edition includes the List of New Items at the associated websites.



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The entire collection of The Aquarian is available at our associated websites.

If you want to help spread theosophy and ethics in today’s world, send the Aquarian to your friends; invite them to write to the editors making a free subscription of the journal.  

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