THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 7, May, 1932
(Pages 313-316; Size: 13K)
(Number 38 of a 103-part series)



(Part II)

SO important had the matter of biological cycles become in 1931, that a conference was held upon them at Matamek. Dr. Ellsworth Huntington, reporting results, stated that fluctuations occur among all classes of life, in cycles varying from 30 months to 260 years or more. A cycle of 9.5 years of unknown origin was found. Periods of droughts and agricultural prosperity in the United States have followed a length of 18.6 years, which is a lunar cycle. What is now going to become of the old contempt for the unlettered farmer, who relies so heavily upon the moon? The causes of cycles in animals, he says, are biological, meteorological, and astronomical. Are we full on the way to a revival of rank, unadulterated astrology under the scientific aegis?

The details of results are too numerous to catalogue. Cycles have been discovered in trees, insects, fish, game birds, birds of prey, mice, rabbits, bacteria and parasites. German tree-destroying insects have a period of twelve years. Ducks, crows, magpies, and lake levels in Canada have a cycle of thirty-four years -- just about three solar periods. Meteorology and trees have a cycle of thirty years. Salmon show forty-eight years.

Some very interesting sidelights appear. It seems that industrial panics in the United States always accompany agricultural depressions, but may either precede them or follow them. Logically, remarks Dr. Huntington, the panics and droughts "may owe something to a common cause," even though the interrelation is not directly causal.

In the periodicity of animals it was found that not only do many different species have the same periodicity, but that the same period occurs all the way from the far northwest of Canada down into the United States.

Inexplicable variations are found in wholly different types of life. Salmon vary as to periodicity from one region to another and even from river to river. On one side of the Bitter Root River ticks carry a virulent disease and on the other the virulence is lower. Ticks carried from one side to the other acquire the condition of that particular side. No general rule was found connecting the cycles in parasites with the cycles in their hosts, although all show marked periodicity.

One of the conclusions was that all such phenomena are controlled by outside forces; principally suspected to be astronomical. This would be correct if it took account of the counteracting or reinforcing internal cycles inherent in all life and in all matter. Controlling solar factors are suspected to be sunspots, prominences, faculae, the solar constant, electro-magnetic activity and forces still unknown. The action of the moon was considered to be manifested only indirectly through tidal effects -- a great mistake, in view of the present state of scientific knowledge on the biologic effect of polarized sun-light, that is to say, moonlight.

Thus did a learned, numerous, and very serious body of scientists bow unconsciously to their great Predecessors.

In all plain common sense, how can a biology which refuses to draw any line between man and animal, logically hold to a uniformly developing human evolution and to a consistent increase in the population of the earth? Prejudice in both cases. Prejudices whose roots are not so far to seek. In the former case, a cyclic law admits if it does not require, the past existence of great civilizations, great prior acquired knowledge on the part of some; and worst of all, the ultimate doom of the civilizations of which we are so proud -- and leaves open the door to reincarnation ideas. In the second case, it kills Malthusianism and the scientific arguments for birth control, placing the latter on the plane where it belongs as a mere device of sensualism. Beyond that, the truth does away with the immigration arguments of the exclusionist school in America.

In spite of all these emotional, prejudicial, and expediential obstacles, the truth about mankind's history is making rapid progress. Dr. Wallis, of the University of Minnesota,(8) stated that while social life is a particular phase of culture, history shows that civilizations rise and fall from causes inherent in themselves. Dr. John Hodgdon Bradley, of the University of Southern California, claims that nature has imposed a cyclic pattern upon the universe whereunder all things are charged to go on forever but never to arrive. What is this but an unconscious reflex of the Theosophical doctrine of the "Ever-Becoming" of all nature? In Science, August 29, 1930, E. C. Andrews, Government Geologist of New South Wales, discusses successive races and their stages of development. He suggests that civilizations advance in an undulatory manner, each making a certain advance, only to fall later into "a trough of skepticism and hedonism." This is precisely the view advanced in Isis Unveiled, volume I, pages 5, 6, and 34. And Isis was published in 1877. The recent discoveries regarding the Sumerians by Prof. Leonard Woolley present additional proof,(9) of Prof. Draper's theory that nations like individuals have their periods of youth, maturity, decline and death. It can hardly be called a "theory" any longer, even by the most conservative.

Turning to the realm of intimate biology, the British Medical Journal(10) states that sleep is still a mystery but that in it one notes the "rhythm which characterizes all the unconscious biological processes." The quoted article also sets forth the view that pain rather than pleasure is the fundamental fact of life; pain creates activity and pleasure diminishes it. The writer little realizes how near in this he came to the true explanation of all the cycles from mineral to god, from Macrocosmos to Microcosmos.

The most important cycles of all to man himself -- his fluctuations of emotion and intelligence -- are reticently spoken of in Theosophical doctrines and by wise students, because of the tremendous possibilities for abuse. A modern, Alfred Edward Wiggam, has happened upon this type of knowledge and published it in a medium which insures wide popular reading indeed.(11) The "discovery" is that of Prof. Rex B. Hersey, of the University of Pennsylvania, "one of the most ingenious and productive of our younger psychologists," who has learned that moods and attitudes tend to swing in long cycles like the light and dark of the moon. He states that by self-study one can map out an exact curve of one's own periods of gayety and gloom, strength and weakness. He points out that this fact is ordinarily obscured by our attributing our moods to what happens to us; whereas our moods give variant weights to the physical events. What said William Q. Judge? That "The power in circumstances is a constant quantity; we ourselves are the variants!"(12) Sometimes, says Mr. Wiggam, "all these bad things happen to you and yet you continue to be contented and happy." (Italics his). Dr. Hersey lived with twenty-five men of the most diverse aptitudes, temperaments, and circumstances, having a personal interview with each one every two hours over a long period. The net result was his conclusion that every human has a definite "happiness curve" which can be mapped out mathematically. Asked as to the practical value of the discovery, Dr. Hersey replied:

Well, whatever aids you to understand yourself or the other fellow is a great help. For example, one wife who marked out her husband's curve by putting a check on the calendar for his bad days, without his knowing it, soon found his bad days were closely bunched together, and then there followed a long row of good days. And she found that during her husband's good days, if he lost at poker he would laugh it off and say, "Well, I will win next time." But if he lost during his off days he was irritable and peeved about it.

This instance illustrates the entire matter. One wife told me she found it wise to wait for her husband's good periods to discuss money matters or to suggest she needed a new dress, or even to make plans for the children. Some executives who have mapped out their curves ahead have found it was a help to reserve the good time for planning; and then, during the low periods, they criticized their plans and carried on routine work.

You tend to plan new undertakings during your good periods and are critical during your low swings. Writers ought to write when they are running on high, and criticize their work on low. Executives and bosses should watch their steps during their low swings or they will, as we say, "gum up the works."

In which appears a very, very cloven hoof of black magic. But Theosophy points out many manifestations beyond this; for instance, that, following the model of Great Nature, whose physical manifestations evolve at the expense of the spiritual, and vice versa, the period of highest spiritual opportunity for man is the mid-winter season when material exuberance runs low. It is the time of one of those "descents of the gods" of which Mr. Judge speaks with the recommendation that we rise in our natures to meet them the sooner, so increasing the length of the recurrent spiritual arcs of our career.

Opposite Dr. Hersey's recommendation that we use our cycles "to be happy and to make others happy" the Theosophist sets the recommendation to use our cycles of power and perception, not to increase our or anyone else's material happiness as such, but to increase the sum total of spiritual wisdom. In our high cycles we may advantageously undertake the more delicate and difficult of the duties of spiritual education. In the low ones we can eliminate most of the poison by seeing them for what they are, and gain stamina by refusing to let them sway us from our course.

Next article:
XXXV (Part I of III)
(Part 39 of a 103-part series)

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(8) Scientific Monthly, May, 1929.
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(9) New York Times, October 6, 1929.
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(10) Literary Digest, Oct. 27, 1928.
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(11) Cosmopolitan Magazine, January, 1932.
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(12) Letters That Have Helped Me.
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