THEOSOPHY, Vol. 88, Issue 6
September-October, 2000
(Pages 292-296; Size: 10K)

CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES
ON THE OBJECTS

[12th and last article in this series]

The Universe exists for the experience of the soul. Sincere efforts to understand our experiences will always increase our awareness of human solidarity. The following narratives poignantly illustrate this fact.

THE HUMAN FAMILY

A special program to aid disabled children by pairing them with non-disabled peers to encourage those with handicaps to strive to achieve was initiated at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1974. While early on there were many unanswered questions concerning how both children and parents would react, the fears were unfounded and the program has been successful for both toddlers and parents. Elements of compassion are present in children as young as eighteen months -- more in some than in others. The theosophical teaching of the divine nature in man finds confirmation in this finding. In the light of karma and reincarnation it can be understood how some exhibit more compassion than others. The aforementioned program is presented in the Los Angeles Times (April 26, 2000) as follows:

A toddler project at UCLA creates a play environment where disabled kids and their able-bodied peers can learn from and be challenged by each other. Kit Kehr, Program Director, wanted to see what would happen if disabled children were exposed daily at a very young age to non-disabled children. There were many unanswered questions. How would the disabled kids react to seeing those of their own age with skills they don't possess? Kids who walk without thinking about it, kids who are verbally facile? ....how parents of the disabled toddlers would respond. Would it be too depressing for them? Too painful? It appears these fears were unfounded ....we have really guided the parents as they come from a time of much chaos, confusion, anger and denial to a time of being competent about what their child is going to need.
While the program does not yet include an equal number of toddler peers and disabled children, it is recognized that the toddler years are the ideal years to mix these children. Not all children can be helpful in this program. Some are too rambunctious, not understanding the special needs of disabled children. Even by the age three the children move on, picking up the baggage of non-acceptance, along the way reflecting the karmic attitudes of culture into which they were born. This bears out the contention of that by age three lifelong tendencies have been established. This should give pre-school education a greater importance.

Parents seem eager to enter their toddlers in this program. There are many success stories which illustrate a natural tendency in the young mentors to be more gentle with their disabled playmates, of how a youngster will spontaneously feed another, or pick up a dropped toy and hand it to the disabled playmate. Toddlers make no distinctions. The whole program is based on everyone enjoying the activity. While the observations obtained in such programs as to the potential of Unity in human beings are subtle, they are actual and need to be recognized in our ongoing effort to understand ourselves and the potential for good that resides within. There is much to learn about the mutual benefits received from giving service and helping others to become self-sufficient.


THE UNVEILING OF THE MASQUE

Anyone who has read the early pages of Volume I of The Secret Doctrine, may find themselves puzzled over HPB's cryptic remarks regarding the conclusion of the first 5,000 years of the kali yuga. Kali yuga or black age is the last cycle of the four ages through which humanity passes within each larger cycle. HPB writes:

In about nine years hence, the first cycle of the first five millenniums, that began with the great cycle of the Kali-Yuga, will end. And then the last prophecy contained in that book (the first volume of the prophetic record for the Black Age) will be accomplished. We have not long to wait, and many of us will witness the Dawn of the New Cycle, at the end of which not a few accounts will be settled and squared between the races. (pg. xliv.)
She doesn't tell us when the new cycle will end, nor how the prophesy will be fulfilled. As individuals still in the grip of fourth round tendencies, we are inclined to focus merely on the physical effects this "settling" of accounts might generate. The Vietnam War certainly illustrates that psychological wounds can frequently outlast the physical. Settling of accounts, then, does not necessarily mean physical combat with a chosen enemy. There are other ways and some have found them through pain, suffering and sorrow. Modern Maturity magazine for May/June 2000 published the stories of over twelve Vietnam war veterans, who returned to Vietnam on this 25th anniversary. These stories tell of their individual struggles in coming to terms with their feelings regarding this unfortunate and devastating war. Upon returning to Vietnam, they discovered that the Vietnamese people are "just like us." The title of the article is "My Private Vietnam," with a sub-title "Twenty-five years after the fall of Saigon, men and women who were deeply touched by the war reflect on how it continues to shape their lives." Pete Peterson shares his experience during this visit. In 1966, as an Air Force captain, he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent six and a half years as a prisoner of war. Peterson, a former congressman, is now the first "U.S. ambassador to unified Vietnam." In general, his story covers the awakening that took place in different ways on the part of every returnee:
I'm astounded at how the Vietnamese have accepted me. When I went to the village where I was shot down, there must have been 6,000 people in those four hamlets, and I'd swear every single person came out of the fields! They had hung a huge banner across the road: Chao Mung Dai Su Peterson (Welcome, Ambassador Peterson). There were a lot of cheers and gifts. They look at me as one of them now; they say I've come from their village. They're very proud of the fact that I've identified with them. I met two of the three fellows who had captured me. We embraced. They said, "We saved you, and you saved us." It was true. Any one of us could have killed the other. We talked about the fact that we opted not to and that we survived a very angry relationship. I see those men and their families quite often.

For a long time I had a conflict. My faith would tell me, "Why are you harboring hate and holding grudges?" I believe in forgiveness. So when I came back for a visit in 1991, I went to the "Zoo," where I had sat in a cell for three and a half years. Being able to walk around freely there helped me to resolve things. It's not so hard, really. You have to live your faith; you can't just talk about it.

I came away feeling that the Vietnamese just need a chance. In their 4,000-year history of so many wars, they just need an opportunity to look over the horizon for prosperity beyond a couple of years.

It is an awakening experience to read how each one resolved the conflict within himself only to discover that human beings, though masqued externally, are internally very much alike. The young widow, for instance, who grieved for her husband for twenty years until she began to wonder how the widows "on the other side" felt about the loss of their husbands, fathers, children. How had they fared through all the war years not of their own making? How could they now be so forgiving and gracious in the face of having lost the beautiful forests, their orphaned children and individuals maimed through land mines? It is time to contemplate our own "dragons," to embrace our fellowman as brothers and sisters, realizing we are all working toward spiritual unity which we are in Great Nature's plan. What is our plan?

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(Compiler's note: There will be others.)

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