THEOSOPHY, Vol. 25, No. 5, March, 1937
(Pages 219-224; Size: 17K)


[March, 1937]

DAY by day the newspapers tell us about the many new physiological facts that are being discovered through experiments on animals. In view of this, why does Theosophy condemn vivisection?

(a) To understand the attitude of Theosophy on vivisection and other related practices of modern science, it is necessary to consider the fundamental ideas which each holds with regard to evolution and man. For as the theories of modern science arise from a certain conception of the part these factors play in life, so also, the position of Theosophy on questions that confront humanity can be understood only by a comprehension of its fundamental principles.

Dating from the time of the Renaissance, when the domination of the church in secular matters began to weaken and the mind of man sought freedom of expression, the field of our modern sciences has been limited to a study of the physical world. This course of investigation was in part caused by a natural revulsion of reason away from the irrational Christian dogmas on the subjects of the invisible world, the after-death states, and the immortality of the soul, as well as by the attitude of the church itself, which claimed that all things metaphysical and spiritual are not matters for observation, study and research. Thus, a mass of facts relating to the world of sense has been accumulated, and an explanation of nature and man as a "fortuitous concurrence of atoms" has been evolved. Believing that the only distinction between man and the animals is in the superior brain capacity of the former, scientists hold that what affects animals beneficially or harmfully must likewise affect man. Viewing life with this basic misconception, they feel justified in carrying on their animal experiments in vivisection, serums and injections, on the assumption that whatever knowledge is thus gained will apply also to man. Utterly materialistic, but perceiving that undesirable conditions must be eliminated, they pursue this as a justifiable line of investigation and experimentation.

A cardinal teaching of Theosophy is that man is a self-conscious, perceiving being -- "That the course of evolution is the drama of the soul and that nature exists for no other purpose than the soul's experience." Man is not an animal and never evolved from the animal kingdom. The discoveries in geology and archaeology increasingly tend to confirm this teaching. On every continent are to be found the ruins and remains of glorious long-vanished civilizations -- evidences of forgotten peoples who once lived, thought, and struggled very much like the races of today.

Man is as distinct from animals as animals are from plants. Experiments on animals (which under natural conditions are never sick) with a view toward discovering physiological facts and cures to be applied to humans, are therefore useless and profitless. The diseases which affect humanity have been caused by the abuse and disregard of nature's fundamental law of Harmony. To imagine that we can eradicate these diseases by such short-cuts as serums and injections, is to fool ourselves into perpetuating their causes and to prepare the way for greater and more deadly consequences. The sacrifice of animals on the altar of scientific ignorance and short-sightedness reminds one of a similar condition that existed some 2500 years ago. Then, as now, the self-appointed guardians of human well-being and happiness taught the doctrine that the sins that man has committed may be washed away in the blood of harmless animals. Buddha answered these exponents of irresponsibility and ignorance in this way:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . he spake
Of life, which all can take but none can give,
Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Sad pleading words, showing how man, who prays
For mercy to the gods, is merciless,
Being as god to those; albeit all life
Is linked and kin, and what we slay have given
Meek tribute of the milk and wool, and set
Fast trust upon the hands which murder them.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nor, spake he, shall one wash his spirit clean
By blood; nor gladden gods, being good, with blood;
Nor bribe them, being evil; nay, nor lay
Upon the brow of innocent bound beasts
One hair's weight of that answer all must give
For all the things done amiss or wrongfully,
Alone, each for himself, reckoning with that
The fixed arithmic of the universe,
Which meteth good for good and ill for ill,
Measure for measure, unto deeds, words, thoughts;
Watchful, aware, implacable, unmoved;
Making all futures fruits of all the pasts.


(b) The attitude of the theosophist toward vivisection should be an impersonal one, his endeavor be to show the scientists engaging in this practice the scientific and ethical fallacies to which their theories are subject.

In the first place, if the vivisectionist performs experiments on animals primarily to satisfy a morbid curiosity, he is guilty of a barbarity unequalled by even the so-called "savage" -- who, were he to make a pot-roast of a plump vivisectionist, would at least utilize that tender morsel for a "practical" purpose! The contention that the facts discovered by vivisection may prove of use in the future is hardly supportable in any moral sense when one considers the painful means by which such data are obtained.

There are in the ranks of "vivisection" those who callously believe that "might makes right," that as men are "superior" to animals they may do with the latter as they please. But what would be the reaction of such a "scientist" were he to find himself suddenly transported to a super-laboratory on Mars, rendered helpless on an operating-table surrounded by fascinated Martian surgeons who were avidly curious to discover what makes this earth creature "tick"? It is not difficult to imagine that he would hastily and lustily cry out for his sacred rights as a "human" being! This portrayal is not quite as fantastic as might appear. The eminent scientist Thomas Huxley declared that if this be an evolving universe, there must necessarily be Beings in it as far above man as man is above the beetle. What if They were to deal with us as we have treated the lower kingdoms? Fortunately for the vivisectionist, these Beings do not share his views. On the contrary, they practice benevolent Compassion for all that lives. The use made of their powers by such superior Men as Jesus or Buddha makes a dark contrast of the merely curious vivisectionist in his relations with his younger brothers.

Perhaps the major portion of the vivisectionists perform their experiments with the definite objective of finding a cure for some prevalent disease. These may believe sincerely that the suffering inflicted on the animals is outweighed by the greater good of alleviating human suffering. Such a view, however, is without regard for the facts. There is available concrete proof, in the form of inoculation statistics, not only indicating the failures of the practice, but showing also ample evidence of its deeply harmful and insidious effects. A single article published by THEOSOPHY (Vol. XII, p. 514) [Note: Referring to "The Means and the End" article, which is number (2) in this grouping. --Compiler.] reveals the true status of vivisection methods as a cure-all for disease. The following statements are a few of the points set forth:

1. The death-rate of inoculated soldiers during the war-time influenza epidemic was overwhelmingly greater than that of the uninoculated civilian population. The ratio of army deaths to civilian mortalities per 100,000 is 4.6 to 1.

2. The death-rate from small-pox in the Philippines, where vaccination was enforced, during the epidemic of 1918-19 was equal to our losses in the World War.

3. In England and Wales resistance to vaccination has been rising steadily for the past twenty years; "and in exact ratio with its discontinuance, the death-rates from small-pox have decreased."

4. Vivisection is known to affect the individual's ratiocination and r
ender him incapable of distinguishing between a sensation and an emotion.

Any one of the above statements, were it to stand alone, would be worthy of the deep consideration of those who are sincere in their belief in vivisection. The article quoted deals with the insidious effects of inoculation -- that is, the "evolution" of diseases traceable to injections. Vaccination for typhoid, small-pox, and other diseases, introduces extraneous matter within the body, but outside of the digestive system, thus avoiding the natural defenses of the organism.

Quite recently medical science hailed the discovery of a serum which proved one hundred per cent successful in curing thirty experimental cases of influenza. The same report, however, announced several new types of influenza for which no cure has as yet been found. "There is none so blind as those who will not see" -- might have been a remark made by a scientist to describe the dogmatic religious bigot. Apparently the dogmatic vivisectionists must have their day, no matter how terrible the cost.

The agitation for universal compulsory vaccination is another illustration of the pontifical attitude of medical authority. No one can deny the general good to public health from intelligent laws enforcing sanitation. But to compel the vaccination of all individuals, when its value is a matter of such grave dispute, is reminiscent of the "tolerance" shown during the Spanish inquisition. Why should the vaccinated fear infection from the unvaccinated if inoculation be considered so effective? If it is not so considered, why then the legal enforcement of a measure of doubtful merit?

For those who practice vivisection to learn physiological processes, Theosophy offers the direct knowledge of Self. Man is "the microcosm of the macrocosm," and within him lies all knowledge. But self-knowledge can be obtained only at the exacting price of self-mastery -- not mastery over helpless creatures! Contemplation of Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms, rendered into English by Mr. Judge, will give a glimpse of the power to know all things, ultimately the possession of those who will follow this path. This power is obtained by a constant effort to make the personality a fitting vehicle for the "direct knowledge" of the Higher Self.

The soul is the Perceiver; is assuredly vision itself pure and simple; unmodified; and looks directly upon ideas.
The prevailing diseases of the present seem altogether different from those of a century or more ago, and new forms of illness are announced quite frequently. What is the explanation for this?

(a) The illnesses and diseases of an era are dependent on the spiritual condition as well as the material advancement of the race. Since the advent of inoculation, maladies such as cancer, infantile paralysis, and sleeping sickness have become a real menace. Inoculation, or the injection into the bloodstream of bacteria and germs from organisms lower than man, is a deadly practice from both the physical and psychic standpoints. Science has found that the nature and effects of bacteria differ under various conditions, and that some forms of life from the lower kingdoms are harmless in their natural habitat but become dangerous sources of disease as soon as they contact the bloodstream of a human. All this is sound argument against vaccination. Another argument is that although one may not get the sickness which he is inoculated against in one life, he may be susceptible to it in another birth and may contract it with greater intensity. But such effects might be neutralized to some extent in the case of a person who is inoculated against his will, that is, in compliance with the law.

It is said in Theosophy that a disease is a mental or moral trouble on its way down and out -- in other words, a restoring of balance on inner and outer planes. But there are moral causes which are quite evident. The drinking of alcohol and the administering of drugs are virtually commonplaces of our civilization, and what could more destroy spiritual and moral order than these? Such practices throw the scales of nature off balance, and inoculations can but increase the Karmic debt. What will restore health? Only a realization of the utter ignorance that has existed, and an understanding of Real Knowledge, which leaves no doubt as to the right course to be taken. That Knowledge is Theosophy, pure and simple.

(b) "Out with the old, in with the new!" seems to have been the slogan of medicine for the past several decades. Yet we find the sinister arrival of new illnesses dark with foreboding. While some maladies are dying out, new ones of a more violent nature are taking their place, or else the simple disorders have become complicated. Records of epidemics and the general health of the people make this evident.

Dr. W. P. Healy, as reported in the Washington Evening Star (September 15, 1927), declares that cancer is not only on the increase but remains as much a fundamental mystery as ever. He says that the time is in sight when one in every ten will die of it. Sleeping sickness (encephalitis lethargica) was then less than eight years old, and regarded in its infancy in proportion to the harm it may do. The death-rate from diabetes is on the rise. We all know the horrible sweep and menace of infantile paralysis.

These are some of the strange intruders upon the health and happiness of humanity. For science they are shrouded in mystery. If we look for an explanation in Theosophy we must prepare ourselves for a salutary shock. Here are no intruders of disease, but rather invited guests. There is a law of moral causation. Medicine has at one sweep abandoned Nature and pinned its hopes on unnatural violence in the forcing of alien substances into the body. It has adopted as our medical religion the doctrine of "might is right."

Diabetes also, like cancer, infantile paralysis, and sleeping sickness, has become a real menace only since the era of inoculations. It is no secret that medical science seems almost helpless before the increase in circulatory diseases and in focal infections -- some of which lead to heart trouble, which is becoming one of the serious problems. Insofar as the physical causes of cancer are concerned, it seems agreed that clogging of circulation, introduction of foreign matter, irritations, and too rapid growth of cells, tend toward cancer, as well as other conditions mentioned. Is there any practice better calculated to produce those conditions than inoculation of animal products?

Such experimenters as Pasteur are the best friends and helpers of the Destroyers and the worst enemies of the Creators -- if the latter were not at the same time destroyers too. (S.D. I, 262-3.)
From lack of true knowledge we turn our helpers into enemies and the lessons of life into miseries.

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