A single world religion stemming from and catering for this religious instinct would make sense and I could accept in, but the concept is surely voided by such a diversity of creeds.
The answer lies in a little understood fact. Religions do not exist to serve any particular God or gods; they come into existence for the benefit of humans. Were the purpose of religious expression simply to serve God, then a single religion would indeed suffice. However, when it has to serve the spiritual needs of diverse races and cultures and of human individuals in various stages of development, then obviously and logically a diversity of outward forms and interpretations is required to satisfy such a wide range of needs. The misconceptions concerning worship and glorification arose when mankind regarded God as some kind of super-ruler and therefore enlarged on what was considered kingly requirements, one of which was adulation by the subjects. The divergence of religious beliefs arises in interpretations and conceptions. The latter are not important in the theological field, except to small minds which cannot grasp the higher concepts of The Supreme Being.
If a person, through brain damage, become a ‘human cabbage’, should he or she be kept alive by mechanical or chemical means?
The problem here is one of medical limitations as well as ethics. If there is absolutely no possibility of the person ever being more than a ‘cabbage’, then life for that person serves no purpose. There is such a thing as a living death. The difficulty is that it is not always possible for a medical man to state authoritatively that there is absolutely no hope. Also, medical science is continually advancing, coming up with new answers. The proper answer surely should be, when life becomes purposeless and valueless to the patient, without any hope of amelioration and he or she can no longer participate in the lessons of life, then life should not be maintained by electronic, mechanical or chemical means.
This is a question which cannot be answered by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. In general we can say that suicide is wrong and in fact solves nothing, but there are qualifying and mitigating circumstances. For instance, if in a survival situation a person is useless for some reason, if his or her being alive prejudices the survival of others, then suicide, when it enhances the chances of others to survive, cannot be deemed wrong. A man who places his life at risk when rescuing others may be said to be playing with suicide, but of course this is incorrect. So the answer is that without proper mitigating circumstances suicide is wrong, but there are exceptions brought about by an overriding responsibility, obligation or duty.
We will lump these two together, for auto-suggestion is just an elementary form of self-hypnosis. The word ‘hypnosis’ came into existence during the last century and was substituted for mesmerism, or animal magnetism, when these terms fell into disrepute. Before then the words used for this phenomenon were ‘enchantment’, ‘fascination’, ‘spellbound’ or ‘glamourized’. It will be seen that since then these words have taken on quite a different meaning. It should be understood that there is more than one form of hypnotism, but the phenomenon may be divided roughly into two aspects. One is the common type displayed in stage shows and other forms of entertainment, as well as the therapeutic type which is used to cure such things as smoking, alcohol addiction, bad habits and so on. This form of hypnosis requires the conscious or subconscious co-operation of the subject and generally speaking the hypnotist manipulates forces within the subject to achieve results. Success in this type of hypnosis is considerably less than 100% and there can be patient resistance. The other, less common aspect is where the hypnotist uses certain powers of his own, not possessed by all practitioners, and in this case subject co-operation is less important and can be non-existent. The success rate is nearly 100%. Hypnotism is something little understood and most of us are subjected to minor hypnotic influences quite frequently. It is not so much the overbearing personalities and consciously noted events and situations which influence us, but the things said and experienced, of which we take little conscious note. Most habits, good or bad, originate in this way. Just as there are various types of hypnotism so are there several states or degrees, varying from a light trancelike state to one of complete but suggestible unconsciousness. The words ‘trance’, ‘sleep’ and ‘unconsciousness’ are actually not applicable, for hypnosis is none of these, the subject being suggestible at all times. In fact, in some forms of hypnotism it is not even necessary for the subject to close his or her eyes and to all intents and purposes he or she is wide awake, yet the reaction will be similar to that of a hypnotic ‘sleep’. The mechanics of hypnotism are simple enough. For convenience we will say That the mind may be divided into three parts: the conscious, the subconscious and the superconscious. The last one plays very little part in hypnosis and so need not be considered here. The conscious mind is used and displayed in our everyday working life; it is the one that reasons logically (or otherwise) and may be considered the guardian of the subconscious. The subconscious mind cannot reason, it accepts everything conveyed to it
directly without question, and automatically assumes it to be correct. Hypnotism consists in removing the guardianship of the conscious mind, so that suggestions are fed directly into the subconscious. Thus, when this is achieved the hypnotized person can be told to do the most ridiculous things and he or she will immediately comply. A hypnotized subject can be given a glass of water, told it is whisky and that he will get drunk on it, and he will act on the suggestion and become, to all intents and purposes, drunk. If told that a person present in the room is not there the subject will be quite unable to see that person. Teeth can be extracted under hypnosis, the suggestion being given that there will be no pain. Post hypnotic suggestions can be given, in which a subject is told that he will do such and such some hours or even days after he is brought out of the hypnotic state, and he will comply. Subliminal advertising (now banned in most countries), uses the same principle. The message to be conveyed it flashed on the screen in the middle of a commercial or otherwise, so fast and for such a short duration that the viewers’ conscious mind cannot become aware of it, but he subconscious misses nothing.
It can be stated that self-awareness is indicative of an individualized and evolved form of consciousness found in human beings and not manifested to the same extent in animals. A cat or a dog, or any other domestic animal is aware of itself in a relationship to a human being or to others of its kind, but it is not aware of itself as a cat or a dog or other animal. Neither are these creatures aware of themselves as living entities, nor do they have any realisation of the limitations of their own life span. They may have certain instinctive apprehensions, as for instance when sheep or cattle are going to the abattoirs, but the reaction is fear, not understanding. The quality of self-awareness, exclusive to humankind, like the qualities mentioned before cannot have developed as the result of the physical evolutionary struggle. No scientifically understandable mutation of genes could lead to intellectual and personality individualization. The stimulus must have been external. Self-awareness is the recognition of individuality, of uniqueness, but it is also the recognition of human mortality. Therefore did it not go hand in hand with other knowledge humans would be the most miserable of creatures, conscious of their helplessness and the futility of life. How the human consciousness became individualized and the mechanisms of self-awareness are a comprehensive subject beyond the scope of this question and answer procedure. Let us just say that self-awareness in people is something which has been added to humanity from a source outside the material evolutionary stream. It is another distinguishing feature of humankind. It results, in effect, from an individualized expression of consciousness.
It is generally held that an Atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of God, but it should be remembered that there are Atheists who believe in some kind of supreme power, although they cannot accept the concept of God held by most religionists. So the description of an Atheist simply as one who does not believe in God is not an apt one. Only two of the five major religions in the world advocate a belief in something akin to the Christian God. However, the other three religions cannot, in any way, be considered atheistic, far from it. An Agnostic is a person who keeps an open mind on the matter, although some dictionaries describe and Agnostic as a person who, while believing
there must be a God, doubts whether men can ever know of His existence. This, however, runs counter to the principle that nothing which comes within human cognizance can remain forever unknowable. A Humanist is rather more difficult to define because different bodies, in various parts of the world, have from time to time interpreted the word differently. Perhaps a good definition would be that a Humanist is a person who lives according to an ethical code, rather than in accordance with spiritual precepts. Outwardly, in their actions, way of life and relationships with others, persons living according to an ethical code should display the same amount of goodness, integrity and social concern as those who live in accordance with spiritual precepts. Spirituality without ethics is barren. Atheists have problems in two areas, the first of which is faith. The word ‘faith’, as used in most instances in the Bible and the Quran, does not imply the blind faith generally advocated by some religionists today. Such faith is spiritually sterile and leads nowhere. The type of faith referred to in the scriptures just mentioned is akin to the faith required by an inventor or scientist. For instance, Edison persevered with research into the electric light bulb, despite the fact that it was seemingly impossible to produce a suitable filament. He had faith. Marconi was ridiculed when he asserted his belief that words could be conveyed through the air without wires and his family was nearly driven to distraction by his ‘superstitions’. Yet he had faith. If we can differentiate between the two types of faith then a better insight can be gained into the true nature of all religious teachings. It is unfortunate that the original spiritual teachings quickly became dogmatized and errors of interpretation, slight at first, became greatly magnified with the passage of time. Errors, when not swiftly and resolutely dealt with, will always compound themselves. Faith has become prostituted to serve an unprofitable end, instead of being the path towards discovery. Without faith there would be little mental and spiritual progress. Even on the physical level man needs constant faith to go about his everyday tasks; all undertakings, from the smallest to the greatest, require an element of faith. The second stumbling block for atheists is reality. They view the world with objective eyes only and cannot see the reality behind material manifestation. Prior to 1945 the atomic theory was scorned by all rationalistic organisations. Reality, for the rationalist, consists of what he can see and feel or experience through the five objective faculties. Yet we know that these are actually limiting factors, we can experience only a small fraction of what goes on around us. We are oblivious of all except a narrow band of sounds on the sound frequency spectrum. With our physical hearing equipment we can comprehend only just over 2% of the frequencies of the sound spectrum. A very small proportion of reality! Probably the sense which deludes us most is that which also conveys to us
the greatest volume of experiences – the sense of sight. For instance, the eyes do not see a flower for what it really is – a mass of whirling atoms in a molecular structure held together by a specific forcefield and oscillating in resonance with a particular band of the frequency spectrum. We see it simply as a flower and accept it as such. Wear pink spectacles and the environment becomes tinged with pink. A colour blind person sees only a drab world, yet to him or her that is reality. Place a fork in a bowl of water and it will appear bent, through light refraction. All our senses deceive us and obviously the thing we are most deceived about is reality. Religion is the recognition of another form of reality. Philosophy is the contemplation of reality as it manifests. Atheism is the acceptance of the sensory interpretation of reality and the denial of any other. Agnoticism is the belief that man’s capacity for understanding is limited in relation to reality. Metaphysics is the search for an understanding of the reality behind the sensory interpretation.
There can be only two theories regarding creation: either it is purposeful or else purposeless. If the former then it must result from some conscious creative effort, if the latter then either it is the product of some willful
aimless act or the product of blind chance. Taking the latter supposition first. If the material universe as we know it is the product of blind chance it would seem that all we have learned in this computerized age must be thrown aside. Anyone with even an elementary knowledge of computer technology will know that the odds of the material universe having come into being through pure chance are so long as to be impossible. We have only to look at the atomic and molecular structure of any physical manifestation to realize that it can be explained only by postulating an initiating organizer. The one great principle behind all material manifestations is inherent organization and we know that there can never be organization without an organizer. So we face the question, organized for what? The whole of Nature cries out the answer, which is, to develop and ultimately create. Irrespective of our philosophical inclinations we cannot but agree that creation is evolving towards some goal. Despite the fact that there are many blind alleys, many stops and starts, the general direction of evolution is ever upward towards something greater. Assuming that a female chimpanzee and a Miss Universe have descended from the same root species, what stimulus was responsible for producing Miss Universe from such unlikely stock? Pure chance? Absolutely impossible, as any properly programmed computer will confirm very quickly. We know that in a number of species there are vestiges of organs and appendages atrophied from lack of use, but still discernible. However, in no instance do we know of any evolutionary development originally produced, which did not have a related purpose, with one single exception – the human brain. This wonderful organ functions only to less than one tenth of its capacity; surely we cannot assume that the remaining nine tenths are not intended to serve some purpose! Indeed, research indicates that in the unutilized nine tenths lies an awesome potential, the full extent of which is still only barely perceivable. What stimulus brought this wonderful brain into being? Certainly not One stemming from the evolutionary struggle, which produces only what is to be utilized at the time. The whole of the world’s esoteric wisdom, whether it be from the East or the West, whether primitive or sophisticated, affirms the reason for human existence. We are here to learn, to develop, to strive for understanding and to experience. Earth may be likened to a school and life to its curriculum, and if the matter is considered in depth we will see that earthlife, with all its seeming imperfections, is perfect for its purpose. Certainly, considering the matter superficially one can come up with any number of seeming improvements, one can see all kinds of things which are wrong, unjust or a purposeless imposition upon human beings, but when these have been weighed the objections are found to be invalid. However, while earth may be perfect for its purpose, freewill was granted to humans and it is this exercise of freewill, with wrong motivation and intent, which has created so much suffering and distress. We must not attribute effects to wrong causes, a very common error. We must also realize that the human race is being ‘schooled’ for something far greater than mere humanhood and therefore the schooling must necessarily be arduous and complex.
To fulfil its purpose it must in many respects be incomprehensible and seemingly unjust. Assurance and certainty, clarity and stability have to be left out, for these would be obstructive rather than helpful. Suffice to say that there is an overall Grand Plan, a Divine Design, the purpose of which can be discerned and understood by those who really apply themselves to its unraveling. We must comply and harmonise with this Grand Design or suffer the consequences.
Although there may seem to be a great deal of divergence, even direct contradiction among the various religions, this relates mainly to the outward manifestations. Certain doctrines and teachings do clash, but this is largely the result of language, communication and interpretation inadequacy. If the subject is studied in depth it will be found that in fact there is complete accord between the hard cores of all religions. The classical example is between the seeming contradictions, ‘In the beginning God created all that is’, of the Christians and Moslems, and, ‘All that is ever was and at all times there has been the created and the uncreated’ (Hindu scripture). Seemingly these two statements are irreconcilable, yet when the different interpretations and understanding of time, space, matter and energy are taken into account and subsidiary statements considered, it is found that the two can be reconciled. Moreover, at their meeting point and in combination a much truer picture of reality is revealed. However, the question relates to a ‘similar pattern’ and this has little to do with theology or doctrine. Rather it relates to ethics and a way of life, and it is in basic moral principles that the greatest uniformity and accord can be found. While there may be clashes on dogma and doctrine all religions affirm that what accords with the wellbeing of mankind as a whole is good. It is true that there are some differences in the interpretation of this, but they are not as great as may appear and reconciliation can be achieved. It would be wrong to place religion apart from the upward evolutionary drive of the planet as a whole, for religion evolves also and when a particular religion fails to provide the spiritual needs of the time is declines, just as does a species which cannot adapt to a changing environment. Religion should be a progressive and inspiring thing and it is a tragedy that it has become bogged down in the stagnant marshes of entrenched dogmatism, doctrinal bigotry and intolerance. Supreme above all else is Truth and it is the duty of all ethically minded people to see that Truth is not superseded by either science or religion. In the search for the ultimate Truth should be found the meeting point of all human beings.
Why do certain lower forms of life grow replacements for lost tails and other parts of the body, while higher life forms and humans are incapable of doing so?
If you consider the matter you will realize that the lower the life form the more capable it is of regenerating a lost part. Passing downward from lizards and worms we find that the vegetable kingdom provides an even better example of a form of regeneration, for if we remove a limb of a tree (branch) another will grow to replace it. However, even with human beings there is a form of regeneration; for instance, if you lose a piece of skin through an abrasion new skin will grow to replace it, but perhaps this cannot be considered true regeneration as you mean it. The answer to your question lies in the fact that as life progresses in physical manifestation it becomes more individualized in matter. Likewise the etheric archetype evolves in its own dimension. The dividing line between the life forms that can regenerate and those that cannot is that which divides the mammals and other warm blooded creatures from lesser life forms. Below this line regeneration is possible, above it it is not. Warm blooded creatures grow and develop according to an etheric archetype which reproduces them in the physical and this archetype has individuality, complete in the case of human beings, less and less complete as the life form descends towards the barrier just mentioned. So a human being develops in accordance with an etheric pattern which remains perfect irrespective of what modifications are made to its physical counterpart. The higher the life form the less important becomes the physical manifestation in relation to the etheric, more spiritual counterpart. Lesser forms of life, below the dividing line, do not have individual archetypes, there is a single pattern for all and consequently physical events do not have the same individualizing impact. The higher the life form the greater its capacity for experiencing the modifying effects of
life. The lower the life form the less benefit it will derive from the experiences of life and so life, as expressed in physical form, tends to counteract any modifications caused by its vicissitudes. A worm, for instance, has practically no ability to choose, being limited in all ways, even its movements from sunlight to darkness, from dryness to humidity, are purely reflex ones. Therefore, whatever happens to it, as for example if it gets cut by a spade, is meaningless to it in terms of development and so there is a tendency for the cells to multiply along the lines of the related forcefield of the original pattern and thus reproduce the missing part. If human beings were able to regenerate a missing part at will it would remove from them a considerable amount of personal responsibility. Imagine how careless people would be if they knew they could regenerate missing legs or arms! In fact the situation would become chaotic. One of the lessons we are here to learn is personal responsibility, others are prudence and orderliness. All these would be nullified were the same laws to apply to humans as to lizards, for instance.
Human beings, alone of all living creatures on this planet, have an inherent religious instinct; to date anthropologists have not discovered a race lacking this instinct and consequently without any form of religious expression. It was once thought that a certain very primitive tribe in New Guinea lacked the instinct, but more careful research revealed that it had a form of religious expression which it kept secret from outsiders. Some people have claimed that they do not believe in and do not possess this instinct, but deep hypnosis has revealed that such claims are not valid. Fervent atheists have been found to have a very pronounced religious instinct which they have sought to suppress but which has found outlet in some other form. Sufficient research has now been carried out in the United States, France and Germany, to establish that such an instinct does exist in human beings, although it need not necessarily manifest in some form of overtly religious expression. However, where it is repressed then in many if not most instances it reacts detrimentally on the individual. We know that throughout Nature there is no known instinct which does not have some related end or purpose and so it would be illogical to assume that the religious instinct in man were the exception. Because it is found only in the creatures at the highest earthly level of evolution (although it is still rudimentary in most people), it is reasonable to assume that it is something relating to human development. This is substantiated when we note that this instinct finds expression in, and responds to, feelings and emotions not discernible in the animal kingdom, i.e. appreciation of beauty, music, sentimentality, love, an awareness of goodness, justice, mercy and so on. In fact many things in the human make up would be liabilities rather than assets were the upward evolutionary drive sustained purely by the survival of the fittest. There is something in the human individual which can have its origin and stimulus only outside the area of physical evolutionary development.