THEOSOPHY, Vol. 14, No. 9, July, 1926
(Pages 414-418; Size: 16K)

SPIRITUAL LAW IN THE
NATURAL WORLD

LAW and order rule the most minute processes of the Universe; to deny it is to incur the just scorn of every thinker. Planets move in their appointed orbits, chemical reactions flow agreeably with their equations. All this is action. But do not thought, will, and feeling fall into the same category? Are moral issues exempt, or is there a moral law of causation?

It is a known fact that parasitism in animals leads to degeneration, the price of a useless and effortless life. It is a known fact that the man who is a law unto himself pays for that course in proportion to the energy of his selfishness. It is a known fact that a nation cannot adopt the sword without incurring universal hatred, which will sooner or later destroy it.

The proponent of "might is right" denies all this, yet proclaims an orderly universe. His is a condition verging upon mania, and necessitates splitting the rational faculties in twain as certainly as does the idea of an "almighty and merciful God." Once admit the principle of all-pervading Law, a power which infallibly adjusts reaction to action, and it has to be applied to the moral actions performed by human beings.

Living beings suffer. Observers know that the pains of intelligent beings overpass any felt by lower orders. The thinker has mental pains outside the experience of those orders, and his physical pains are multiplied and heightened by memory, anticipation, and imagination.

Taking humanity as a whole, the highest suffers most. How is this? Are we to suppose that intelligence and imagination are infractions of natural law? Or shall we assume that when a thinker suffers, it is a result of misuse of his thinking powers? With so many examples to draw from, in nature, in history, in sociology -- aye, in our innermost personal experiences, were we but honest with ourselves -- there is no excuse for overlooking a cause of misery so obvious. Who looks for basic causes will not hesitate to assume and test this principle: spiritual Law in the natural world.

If disease and suffering result from misuse of powers in this or other lives, powers mental or physical, it is clear that the remedy consists in recognizing and eliminating the mental or moral defect, leaving to medical and mechanical methods only the sequelae of physical readjustment.

From the universal, and truly scientific, point of view, there is no basis for morals, virtue, or justice as legally and theologically defined. But there is an infallible criterion for predicting the result of any action; it is the application of the principle of equality of action and reaction. A given action is immoral if it brings pain to others, if it involves misuse of our powers in a self-destructive manner. All action, good, bad, and indifferent, bears its logical fruit.

What shall we say of the present methods of seeking and retaining health? There are two characteristics of a true method; it must involve no suffering to others, save by their own conscious consent; and it must, to produce permanent results, bear elements of self-control, self-reform, self-discipline.

Many physicians have come to preach that course -- usually at the cost of a large portion of their clientele. But vivisection breaks the first rule, and application of its results the second. Worse, such remedies create new causes, for they induce in the patient's mind the attitude of profiting from the suffering of other and helpless beings. Most of them are involved in the serum fad, which once again breaks a law of mental, moral, and physical health instinctively recognized by the internally clean and sound. Every form of life has its own sphere of action, its own karmic evolutionary course to pursue; any turning of one stream into another creates a confusion and disaster somewhat analogous to miscegenation on the social plane -- and sometimes as long delayed in its final results.

Theosophy teaches that these methods can serve but to repress, never to remove causes, which must sooner or later emerge, even though in form seemingly remote from their primaries. Much has been said about the lengthening of civilized life in the present era. The impression is given, often intentionally, that life in general is healthier, that the average of invalidism is lower. But the opposite is the case, and medical men begin to admit it. The lives of invalids are prolonged -- to what end? Of what value in itself is mere physical existence? Shall we take the turtle for our ideal of longevity? The death rate among children has been reduced. This has not followed as a result of vivisection, but very largely as the logical result of paying a little real attention -- the first time in two thousand years of Christianity -- to the physical dangers and pitfalls besetting child life, especially in the matter of sanitation.

Dr. Alexis Carrel, a medical authority second to none and a shining light among vivisectionists, nevertheless openly expresses his doubts whether there has been any real gain in medicine, and whether it will not be necessary to look for true knowledge in another line altogether. The average of health, he thinks, has not increased; vanished diseases have been replaced by worse ones, especially by way of mental and nervous troubles. On at least three counts serums and injections are indictable as predisposers of such conditions; yet what medical organization has had the courage -- one might say the common sense -- to set on foot a pathological census with an eye to proof or disproof? Has any one tried to correlate the increase in insanity with vivisectionist remedies? Vast claims are made for diphtheria serum; but the truth is that between 1917 and 1921 -- an era of popularization of the treatment -- the diphtheria death rate increased 34 per cent, notwithstanding rhapsodies about such incidents as the "saving of Nome" by serum -- after the epidemic was practically dead of itself!

In all the propaganda by and for the serum laboratories, we see but little account of the ten fatalities described in the Journal of the American Medical Association, April 5, 1924. We hear little of the ten deaths, and sixty-nine damage suits won in Dallas, or of the $10,000 verdict in the Bobis case in Chicago. But we do hear a good deal about diphtheria patients dying from "complications" or "other causes" soon after serumization!

At some future day, when the whole tale is unfolded of reduced vitality and poisoned blood, of diseases replanted for future use, of soul-killing materialism inculcated as the result of vivisection, and of the horrible lesions engendered in the soul of Nature itself by the torture of animals, it will be recognized that medical science is in little better case than the science of machinery.

Dr. Carrel remarks that with all the apparent victories against disease, the case as a whole stands about where it started. Diseases seemingly eliminated have been replaced by others more painful; the worst of the old ones, such as cancer, gain ground steadily, and less is known of them than before. Awakening to the fact that there is something in this Universe other than the motion of molecules, Dr. Carrel feels that an unfolding of the true conditions which bring about the evolution of kindness, intelligence, and judgment, would be of more value to the human race than the elimination of all the epidemics. Thus science, which painstakingly analyzes the minutest chemical workings of the body, confesses blank ignorance as to any means of developing the only qualities through which those workings can be directed to any beneficial end. This is little else than a plea in moral bankruptcy.

The diseases which most trouble Dr. Carrel are chiefly of the mental and nervous type. He seems to believe that the true solution of this growing problem will have to be along some new line as yet undiscovered. But why should it be so difficult, especially for a medical man, to see that all diseases follow the same cause -- misuse of powers? Stomach trouble follows from misuse of the digestive powers; brain and mental trouble from misuse of the mind.

All woes are rooted in wrong thought, followed by wrong conduct; whether that wrong be in selfishness, in fear, or merely in carelessness and inertia. What is wrong with our present manner of thought, and who is responsible therefor?

Men act according to their beliefs. What is the root of the present-day belief and corresponding conduct which is so rapidly taking us down a steep place into the sea? The springs of bygone atrocities: religious fanaticism and unredeemed selfishness, often thereby concealed. But religion influences the masses but little today; the time is past when nations will go to war on religious questions or men murder their neighbors for God's sake. Nevertheless, other forms of belief have taken the place of creedal religion; and concerning the large bulking of science in the popular mind, must be mostly looked for there. "Science" now takes the place of "Holy Writ," and the authority of the "Savant" that of the monk. What says that authority?

The moral principle inherent in evolution is that nothing can be gained in this world without an effort; the ethical principle inherent in evolution is that the best only has the right to survive; the principle in evolution is the evidence of beauty, or order, and of design in the daily myriad of miracles to which we owe our existence. (Dr. Henry Fairfield Osborn.)
Now, this is an orthodox scientifico-religious utterance of the kind which wins the plaudits of scientist and "progressive" churchman alike. Its first clause is unexceptionally Theosophic; if followed out all the way, it is a succinct statement of Karmic Law. But when the scientific meaning of "best" is inserted, and the whole product analyzed, it cannot escape the mind that Dr. Osborn's "moral principle" is a very immoral principle indeed. For the "best" of the evolutionist is not the best morally; not the most sacrificing; not the most harmless. On the contrary, it is the antithesis of these; it is that which proves its fitness by survival through whatever means.

In the animal kingdom, the "best" is that form most efficiently equipped with tooth and claw; the wolf as contrasted with the dog, for instance, who unaided by mankind is helpless against his savage cousin, though highest of the animals in moral qualities. In the human kingdom, the evolutionist's "best" is the keenest brain -- Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander, against Buddha, Jesus, and Krishna.

But Dr. Osborn goes still further in postulating "design"; design calls for designer. And since Dr. Osborn's scheme of things implies the "might is right" doctrine, this designer, God.

To the popular mind impregnated with this doctrine, only two restraints can exist -- caution and conscience. Caution cannot be depended upon; partly because it has no meaning to many, more because it is purely selfish in nature. We should, therefore, examine what science gives by way of reinforcing the dictates of conscience. As a matter of fact, it has a growing tendency to ascribe all misdeeds to uncontrollable mental or physical defects.

Science has proven that our every action, urge, or motive has its origin in the endocrines ... I may suggest, without disrespect, that "as man functioneth in his ductless glands, so is he." ... The centers in the brain, where images or other stimuli from without are carried to form ideas and conceptions ... here ferocity and pity, hatred and affection, blood-lust and loving kindness are stored. Just as these various centers are the seats of kindness and love under normal conditions, so are they changed by chemical enemies to centers of hatred and blood-lust ... I sincerely hope and feel that the time is not far distant when the courts of justice will see fit to handle these cases of ductless gland disorder by scientific procedure ... disobedient children will be sent to a clinic that glands may be rearranged instead of having the father or mother punish the child for something it is not responsible for ... A corrective policy is advocated instead of punishment of any type. By destroying a life, scientific efficiency is brought to a standstill, because further experiment is impossible. (Dr. Clayton E. Wheeler, "Endocrinologist.")
The "man in the street," is not trained to logical thinking, knows nothing of the flimsy experimental basis of such theories, is unaccustomed to observing the workings of consciousness within himself and others. But when that man finds himself in the throes of battle between his animal nature and his conscience, it is of high importance to all mankind that he be supplied with all the moral support and aid available. What hope, what spiritual sustenance resides in this theory? On the contrary, it is the most subtle temptation to evil ever conceived by human mind; constantly suggesting, hypnotically suggesting, a will-action bound and predestined to the blind desires of matter.

Thus there is a body of thought fostered by scientists and pseudo-scientists, against which we draw from the evidence at hand, the following charges:

1. The creation and presentation of the complex mechanism of modern life, which not only wrecks nerves, minds, and health, but offers temptation in excelsis to every form of morbid desire.

2. Continual inculcation of the doctrine that "might makes right," or the justification of gratification at the expense of others.

3. Promulgation of doctrines of irresponsibility exquisitely designed to excuse wrong-doing, conjoined with a powerful and subtle discouragement for all who find themselves minded to fight temptation as they meet it.

Who can deny the indictment in the face of the facts? We make no blanket accusation against men of science or against their methods -- when both remain in their own spheres. We do fight to the death against their arrogation to themselves of the field of morals and conscience, which appertain to the fundamental principles of Nature. Science, by its very methods and aims, can approach nothing but the physical and material. It must leave the question of first causes and cosmic purposes in other hands, or else lead mankind back once more to superstition.


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