The Light of the East

Around 1875, the Light of the East, the fount of the perennial philosophy, began to shine its profound wisdom into the minds of thinkers in the West. Visionary scholars have brought to the West, the pearls of the East. Decades have come and gone, yet its light continues to illumine Western thinking and culture. In its wake, the mysteries of human and planetary evolution have somewhat been revealed to students of the spiritual sciences, enriching human thinking immeasurably.

Who can deny the depth and beauty of the Hindu, Buddhist and Tibetan scriptures, (or for that matter the writings of Confucius and Lao-tse), whose wisdom shone in the Orient, whilst the Western world languished in the dark ages. Who can overlook such profound philosophical texts as The Bhagavad Gita (The Song of God), The Upanishads, The Stanzas of Dzyan and The Dhammapada, which have captured the imagination of the Orient for millennia and the Occident for generations. Their philosophical truths are now studied the world over and bringing many more to a greater understanding of life. Bridging the East and the West, the intuition and the intellect, and the spiritual and the material, eminent spiritual thinkers and writers, such as Alice Bailey, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Helena and Nicholas Roerich and Annie Besant have blazed a trail over the last 100 years or so in fusing Eastern and Western spiritual philosophies. A synthesis of sciences (spiritual and material) is underway, relating the many strands of enlightened and human thought into a cohesive whole. A pattern of life is emerging, as yet embryonic, but slowly revealing the interconnectedness of life and the interrelationship of each part to the whole.

Right in their time and place, and yet ever superseded over the millennia by new revelations and presentations of truth, the spiritual sciences inform us that all the major world religions spring from the same universal source of wisdom, to guide future generations on the path of evolution. “There is no religion higher than truth”, proclaim the Theosophists. Like a never ending cycle from one expansion of consciousness to the next, so ever finer and nobler values are reflected in the outer world. Whilst steeped in philosophy and thoughtful reflection (meditation), the East has enriched the spiritual climate of its peoples, but has lacked the outer practicality and creativity of the West. Today, this is changing, and both are learning from each other. The abstract reasoning of the East is blending with the concrete thinking of the West in which both have a part to play in human evolution.

In the last few centuries, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest that materialistic scientific thinking has stifled the human imagination and aspiration towards spiritual reality. There is nothing beyond what we see and hear, and observe in the laboratory, is the conclusion of science. To the materialistic school of thought, our world, our solar system and the myriad of stars in the universe are no more than purposeless objects in the night sky, nothing more than what has been described as “a chaos to the senses”. Modern science comes to a full stop at the transition between the immaterial and the material, between consciousness and form, and between cause and effect. But to the enlightened thinker, the universe is a “cosmos to the reason”. In her book, Evolution of Life and Form, Annie Besant had this to say: “There is only one supreme Will that guides the universe, and that Will points steadily to progress, to the goal set forth for the universe, the goal towards which it is evolving. Unchangeable, stable, perpetual, that Will knows no swerving; to use a Christian phrase, ‘there is no shadow of turning’ in that immutable Will. The universe rolls along the road traced out by the Divine Will”. What grand Purpose underlies the inscrutable Will of God is impossible to fathom. But perhaps one explanation from our very limited human perspective is to consider that the law of the universe is for all eternity the good of the whole.

East and West, and North and South, meet on common ground, planet earth. As human beings we share a common heritage, destiny and home. We live side-by-side with the other kingdoms of nature, each fulfilling its own distinct purpose, yet all are interrelated, and each dependent on the other. In this growing recognition we learn to stretch our minds and imaginations to embrace a more complete picture of our home, our small yet vibrant blue planet. Perhaps it would be fitting to close with a few words from the philosophies of the East:

“This vast universe is a wheel. Upon it are all creatures that are subject to birth, death, and rebirth. Round and round it turns, and never stops. It is the wheel of Brahman. As long as the individual self thinks it is separate from Brahman, it revolves upon the wheel in bondage to the laws of birth, death, and rebirth. But when through the grace of Brahman it realizes its identity with him, it revolves upon the wheel no longer. It achieves immortality.”

Sh’vet Upanishad



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