THEOSOPHY, Vol. 81, No. 2, December, 1992
(Pages 48-50; Size: 8K)



[Part 1 of a 16-part series]

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of articles that will be considering "Environment" in the light of Theosophy -- a subject of vital importance to all of us. The universal principles stated by H.P.B. and William Q. Judge can surely be seen to underlie the philosophical and practical aspects of the modern environmental movement to heal the Earth, and treat all beings as brothers.

*  *  *

Brotherhood and the Environment

In the first of her Five Messages to American Theosophists, H. P. Blavatsky declares that "Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the condition of mankind." In the last century, the needs were chiefly to relieve human poverty, suffering, injustice, and corruption. The same conditions exist today with the addition of many problems brought on by severe environmental abuse. The latter was a problem 100 years ago in industrial areas but was not the major problem that it is today. The industrial revolution started a series of broadly destructive actions that exceeded all prior excesses known to history. The ruthless greed of industries to make profits at the expense of human well-being goes against the concepts of the brotherhood of man and equal justice for all.

Since the brotherhood of all beings is at stake, we feel it is important for individuals to be familiar with what has happened to our environment, to take part in solving its problems, and to help in the education of each other on such matters. It is quite likely that a major thrust of theosophical endeavor through the last quarter of this century will be seen as environmental. The intellectual (Sankhya) doctrine is accompanied by the practical (Yoga) one in a well-rounded person.

Conservation and Recycling

Conservation and recycling are by-words of the day as people have become aware of the impact of everyday activities. The practice of saving and reusing counteract exploitation, waste, and the destruction of natural resources. Nature herself conserves and recycles in every process. A conflict of interest arises when we believe in the principle of conservation but resist giving up luxuries and comforts that waste energy and natural resources. A case in point is the use of the automobile in countries where it serves both for necessary transportation and for "pleasure" trips, in which driving becomes an end in itself.

The energy in the fossil fuels, oil and coal, is used to produce electric power, also in agriculture, and for many other purposes. These fuels have limited reserves that the world is rapidly depleting. We are not practicing sustainable energy management, to use words popular among modern environmentalists. Sustainability occurs when the use of resources does not exceed their production.

Later in the series conservation and recycling will be discussed in greater detail. Other subjects will include energy, air and water pollution, garbage, nuclear pollution, toxic waste disposal, food production, population, the media, housing, and the various pressures to which people are subjected. The scope of "the environment" is so vast that it can be construed to include just about every facet of practical living. The treatment of it is a reflection of human thinking.

Symbiotic Aspects of the Environment

The word environment means simply "surroundings." It has been applied to our physical, emotional, and mental surroundings. Ecology is the science of how living things interact with each other in their environment. Biodiversity means having a great variety of life forms, which interact in a symbiotic manner. Symbiosis, or living together, is the essence of brotherhood. Individuals and groups of individuals depend upon each other, even while being highly independent.

All life forms depend on other life forms for their needs. Scientists see clearly the physical needs for survival, but there are also inner, metaphysical needs. In the theosophical view, the life forms serve in the process of developing powers and abilities in man and nature; they also reflect man's thinking and are in a sense man's cast-off garments. If we knew more of the history of man's evolution, part of which is given in H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine, we would understand why various life forms exist. They do not evolve by chance but are part of the evolution of intelligence which is reflected in all of nature.

After years of environmental exploitation, we are moving toward a reconciliation with nature and a healing of the earth. However, the forces of destruction, still rampant, continue to conflict with creative efforts. Before the elevating aspects of the theosophical message can be received, the crying needs of mankind must be taken care of, and an example set of selfless living and sacrifice.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

Man has become a spreading blight which threatens to efface the green world that created him ... the nature of the human predicament is: how nature is to be reentered; how man, the relatively unthinking and proud creator of the second world -- the world of culture -- may revivify and restore the first world which cherished and brought him into being. 

--LOREN EISELEY, "The Last Magician"

Next article:
[Environmental Problems.
Unexpected Solutions Begin to Appear.
Other Examples of Environmental Concern.
Energy: Physical and Cosmic.]
[Part 2 of a 16-part series]

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