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The Coming of the New Cycle

Do Future Events Depend on Us?
 
 
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
 
 
 
 
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An initial version of the following article
was published in the November 2005 edition
of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pp. 01-07.
 
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In the first half of the 21st century, theosophists may still ask themselves what is their responsibility with regard to the bulk of  human karma.
 
As students of esoteric philosophy, they are the  outer guardians of a sacred wisdom both ancient and modern.  It is supposed that they do not study it solely for their own individual benefit -  for,  if they do so, failure is unavoidable from the start.  In order to understand  sacred wisdom,  your goal must be benefitting mankind, and even this is not enough. HPB also taught that philosophical knowledge must be a living and creative process tested in daily life. You can’t achieve great wisdom simply by repeating ideas contained in the best books available.  
 
But if we have some degree of   true altruism and a willingness to act -  we may be entitled  to face, in these days, an uncomfortable question:
 
“As our civilization confronts great and growing dangers and challenges of various kinds, in what sense should we feel responsible for its future? What is our actual  responsibility?”
 
To answer such a question is no simple task.  Yet there  is at least one thing about which we can be sure: crises and opportunities are all around us. Each evening  they are in the news.  They are  presented to us as part of  our favourite TV shows. All over Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas,  floods,  forest fires, droughts, hurricanes and other similar events seem to prepare a global climatic change which can have drastic effects over the fate of our civilization. These hundreds of climatic events are shown by the media as if they were merely  isolated facts,  now happening by some strange sort of  coincidence.  
 
This is not true.    
 
It is also not a coincidence that the signs of ethical and social decay in our civilization –  including poverty, war and terrorist attacks  –  run in parallel to deforestation, environmental  pollution and climatic changes.  Spirit and matter evolve together.  Each time in History when man’s greed  made him destroy  his natural environment, he himself had to pay the price for it.  
 
Writing on the effects  of deforestation in India,  H.P. Blavatsky said in 1879:  
 
“We need only glance at the pages of History to see that the ruin and ultimate extinction of national  power follow the extirpation of forests as surely as night follows day. Nature has provided the means  for human development;  and her laws can never be violated without disaster.” [1]
 
Theosophists and ecologists both know that everything is interconnected. But we also see that having access to information is not the same as having knowledge.  The difference between knowledge and fancy is that knowledge results in action, but fancy often does not.  
 
In  order to answer the question on our responsibility with regard to the fate of present civilization, we may have to start by examining a previous, also uncomfortable query:
 
“How much of direct knowledge we have about esoteric philosophy?”
 
The importance of it is that only direct knowledge is the source of a lasting sense of  responsibility.  An accurate, heartfelt perception of things results in a sense of ethics and an active  intention to be useful. Perhaps it was to highlight the significance of this feeling of personal  accountability that Alexander Pope wrote a  few centuries ago:
 
A little learning is a dangerous thing.
Drink  deep, or taste not the Pierian  [Sacred] spring;
There shallow draughts  intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely, sobers us again.” [2]
 
Responsibility emerging from deep knowledge makes us be sober again –  because it eventually  leads us into both inner and outer action.
 
If students have a natural and spontaneous sense of duty to their sacred teachers and  to teachings of esoteric philosophy, then now may be the right time for a growing number of them to start  thinking,  in a calm and quiet way, about two questions:  
 
1) How can we evaluate the present moment of our civilization, from the viewpoint of the doctrine of the cycles?
 
2) What is the relationship between the emergence of a new cycle and the difficulties being faced by so many countries in the first part of 21st century?  
 
Perhaps we can obtain only a few fragments of the necessary answer –  but this is absolutely no reason to give up. Patiently investigating the issue and sharing our efforts may be useful  both for the Cause and for ourselves.  Every aspirant must accept starting from fragments. He should remember that sooner or later intuition tends to come and help him to fill in the blanks.  As time passes, Karma and those who know best will assist our efforts as much as we gradually come to deserve. 
 
If we are to investigate the doctrine of the cycles as it relates to the present moment in human history,  there is  something we must remember from the very start.   It is basically useless to try to establish the exact moment when this or that great event should occur.  Changes of cycles do not take place according to our own superficial and linear notions of  time. In HPB’s text Conversations on Occultism,  a student asks:
 
“Is it wise to inquire as to the periods when the cycle changes, and to speculate on the great astronomical or other changes that herald a turn?” 
 
And  a Sage answers:
 
“It is not. There is an old saying that the gods are jealous about these things, not wishing mortals to know them. We may analyse the age, but it is better not to attempt to fix the hour of a change of cycle.  Besides that, you will be unable to settle it,  because a cycle does not begin on a day or year clear of any other cycle; they interblend, so that, although the wheel of one period is still turning, the initial point of another has already arrived.” [3]
 
As to the coming of the next cycle, there is a well-known paragraph written by a  disciple by orders of an Adept-Teacher. I quote from  Five Years of Theosophy:  
 
“We are at the end of a cycle – geological and other – and at  the beginning of another. Cataclysm is to follow cataclysm. The pent-up forces are bursting out in many quarters; and not only will men be swallowed up or slain by thousands, ‘new’ land appear and ‘old’ subside, volcanic eruptions and tidal waves appal; but secrets of an unsuspected past will be uncovered to the dismay of Western theorists and the humiliation of an imperious science. This drifting ship, if watched, may be seen to ground upon the upheaved vestiges of ancient civilizations, and fall to pieces. We are not emulous of the prophet’s honours: but still, let this stand as a prophecy.” [4]  
 
Cataclysm is to follow cataclysm,  said this prophecy in 1883.  As we know that different cycles interblend during transition,  we can easily  infer that this prophecy did not refer to a couple of decades only.  Let’s see, then –  from the viewpoint of the best available scientific surveys – what is the evaluation  made in 2005 about the geological and climate-related events which took place  in the last century or so.
 
This serves to illustrate the fact that in spite of all possible obstacles, esoteric philosophy must keep a living dialogue with science and scientists. As  one of the Mahatmas wrote:  “Modern science is our best ally”.[5]  Conventional science frequently  attacks esoteric wisdom, yet the sentence of the Master remains true.
 
The WorldWatch Institute, in Washington, makes studies about present world events from the viewpoint of social ethics and ecological sustainability. In the January/February 2005 edition of its magazine, the Institute published an article called “Rethinking Security – a Different Role for the Military”. Written by Gregory D. Foster, a professor at the National Defense University in Washington,  the text  compares two of the main problems now confronting our civilization: terrorism and environmental crisis.  
 
A leading U.S. military expert, Professor Foster said most governments use to underestimate the importance of ecological issues. Then he explained:
 
“That environmental matters  should be of  such little overall public concern is a reflection of how limited and unstrategic our thinking about security actually is. (...) Look, for instance, at comparative fatalities from the highly credible threat of terrorism and the highly dubious threat of natural  disasters. Since 1968, there have been 19,114 incidents of terrorism worldwide, resulting in a total of 23,961 deaths and 62,502 associated injuries.  However disturbing these figures may be, they pale in comparison to those running from natural disasters.”  
 
And he proceeds:
 
“The average annual death toll over the past century due to drought, famine, floods, windstorms, temperature extremes, wave surges, and wildfires has been 243,577. Thus,  even if we ignore earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and disease epidemics, and don’t count injuries or other harmful effects (such as homelessness), three times as many people die each year on average in natural disasters that could be linked to –  and exacerbated by –  climate change as have been  killed  and injured together in 37 years of terrorist incidents.  And lest the use of  a century-long average seem skewed, consider that just since 1990, there has been more than 207,000 fatalities from the foregoing types of disasters in South Asia alone, more than 23,000 in Central America and Mexico,  and tens of thousands more in other parts of the world.” [6]
 
So the prophecy written down in 1883 has proved entirely correct, if we compare it with present data available from scientific sources.  
 
Professor Foster’s article in the WorldWatch magazine was not an isolated fact.  One year before it,  Sir David King,  chief science advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, had written a controversial article published in the January 9, 2004 edition of Science magazine, saying that climate change was “the most severe problem that we are facing today –  more serious even than the threat of terrorism”. Sir David King  said that the U.S. government was “failing to take up the challenge of global warming”. [7]
 
As the decades pass by, climatic patterns and rhythms get more unpredictable the world over. When in December 2004  an Asian tsunami caused thousands of victims in many different countries, the whole planet Earth was slightly shaken in space, suggesting that greater events of  the kind could change the position of the planetary axis, a cyclic event discussed in “The Secret Doctrine”.   
 
Thousands  of less spectacular events happen everyday with great economical and social costs. 
 
Do all this have any relationship to the change of cycle? Yes. We can be reasonably sure about that. Future events often cast their shadow over the present, and a sacred Teacher wrote:
 
“The approach  of every new  ‘obscuration’ is always  signalled by cataclysms – of either  fire or water”.[8]
 
In spite of those who deny the importance of ecological issues, it is clear by now that the “pent-up forces”  to which the 1883 prophecy referred are not only “bursting out in many quarters”. They are accelerating their pace, too.
 
The fact that we are facing  so many climate-related events at the outer level, all taking place in a few decades, makes us think about the relationship between the change of cycle and the speeding up of events.  
 
And we may remember these words from an Adept, published  in the “Mahatma Letters”:
 
“Less than two centuries prior to the arrival of Cortez there was a great ‘rush’ towards progress among the sub-races of Peru and Mexico as  there is now in  Europe and  the U.S.A. Their sub-race ended in total annihilation through causes generated by itself; so will yours at the end of its cycle.” [9]
 
Less than two centuries, indeed.
 
As we have seen before,  inner and outer events are tightly connected and can’t be separated.  The ethical, social and geological crises of our time are all part of the same process.  Geological and cosmic cycles are linked in a direct way to the subjective tides going up and downwards within the souls of living beings.
 
William Q. Judge wrote:
 
“In  regard to great cataclysms occurring  at the beginning  and ending of great cycles, the main laws governing the effects are those of Karma and Reembodiment, or Reincarnation, proceeding under cyclic rule. Not only is man governed by these laws, but every atom of matter as well, and the mass of matter is constantly undergoing  a  change at the same time with man.” [10] 
 
We also know, on the other hand,  that inner processes are more influential  than the physical ones. “The Universe is governed from within”, asthe 20th century physicist Fred Hoyle wrote in his book “The Intelligent Universe”.
 
Therefore, upon examining the destiny of globes, Judge says:
 
“We do not admit that the ending of the force is the withdrawal by a God of his protection, nor the sudden propulsion by him of another force against the globe, but that the force at work and determining the great cycle is that of man himself considered as a spiritual being (...).” [11]
 
And that which applies to greater cycles is also true of smaller ones.
 
So we can see that the higher and lower tides of human ethics, justice and solidarity have a significant degree of influence on the fate of civilizations. And that  becomes most clear when we see the Puranic Prophecy as registered by  HPB in the pages  of  The Secret Doctrine
 
“There will be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth –  kings of churlish spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness.  They will inflict death on women, children, and cows (...)  they will be of  unlimited power,  their lives will be short, their desires insatiable.  (...)  Property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the only bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation, and women will be  objects merely of sensual gratification... until the human race approaches its annihilation (pralaya)  ..... When the close of the of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being  which exists, of its own spiritual nature . . .  shall descend on Earth . . . (Kalki avatar) (.....)  He will re-establish righteousness on earth and the minds of those who live at the end of  Kali Yuga shall be awakened  and become as pellucid as crystal.”
 
Again, we can’t refer these words automatically to some far-distant future –  because we know that  greater cycles are anticipated by minor cycles.
 
Immediately below this transcription of the puranic prophecy, HPB wrote, not without an irony:
 
“Whether right or wrong with regard to the latter prophecy, the blessings of Kali Yuga are well described, and fit in admirably even with that which one sees and hears in Europe and other civilized and Christian lands in full XIXth, and at the dawn of XXth century of our great era of ENLIGHTENMENT.” [12]
 
Since inner and outer events are always connected,  it becomes easier for us to understand some aspects of  the karmic and ethical responsibility belonging to the theosophical movement – and to each of its members –  as to the fate of  our present civilization. HPB didn’t refuse to write about that. In at least two texts, she acknowledged the existence of a direct link between the level of  loyalty to Truth in the theosophical movement  – and the destiny of mankind in the years after her lifetime.
 
In the article “Our Cycle and the Next”, HPB quotes an optimistic prophecy ascribed to the French writer Victor Hugo.  The author of  “Les Misérables” wrote:
 
“The sixteenth century will be known as the age of painters, the seventeenth will be termed the age of the writers,  the eighteenth the age of philosophers, the nineteenth the age of apostles and prophets. (.......) In the twentieth, war will be dead, the scaffold will be dead, animosity will be dead, but man will live. For all there will be but one country –  that country the whole earth; for all, there will be but one hope –  that hope the whole heaven.”
 
Below this quotation, HPB strongly refers to the occult link between Theosophy and the fate of our civilization:
 
“If  Theosophy prevailing in the struggle, its all-embracing philosophy strikes deep root into the minds and hearts of men, if its Doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, in other words, of Hope and Responsibility,  find a home in the lives of next generations, then, indeed, will dawn the day of joy and gladness for all who now suffer and are outcast. For real Theosophy is ALTRUISM, and we cannot repeat it too often.  It is brotherly love, mutual help, unswerving devotion to Truth. If once men but do realize that in these alone can true happiness be found, and never in wealth, possessions, or any selfish gratification, then the dark clouds will roll away, and a new humanity will be born upon earth.  Then the Golden Age will be there, indeed.  But if not, then the storm will burst, and our boasted western civilization and enlightenment will sink in such a sea of horror that its parallel History has never yet recorded.” [13]
 
“The Key to Theosophy” is another text in which HPB links the future of civilization to the work of the theosophical movement.  She writes in the final paragraph of that book:  
 
“Tell me if I am too sanguine when I say that if the Theosophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original impulses through the next hundred years – tell me, I say, if I go too  far in asserting that earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison  with what it is now!”[14]
 
Less  than two centuries have  passed since these words were written.
 
In the first part of the 21st century, there remains a collective nucleus of  deep, heartfelt and active loyalty to Universal Truth and to Altruism  –  that is, to Theosophy.  It is  spread over several countries and languages.  How big is that nucleus is another question, and this is perhaps of secondary importance.  The key factor from the viewpoint of esoteric philosophy is the actual existence of this subtle Territory of Truth and Compassion, which remains as a living process inside the wider, common karma of mankind. 
 
Big or small, this umbrella of brotherhood is directly connected  –  as an active factor  at a causal level –  to the destiny of our civilization in the years and decades to come.  We may have more challenges and opportunities in front of us than we can easily see and identify.  As Karma accelerates, we are invited  to do what we can to improve such a nucleus of broad mutual understanding and solidarity.
 
We do not have an entirely clear picture of outer events, present and future. And that is not expected of us. But we can open our eyes and our hearts – and TRY to help. 
 
Once we accept our anonymous share of  personal responsibility for world events, that may  be but  a natural thing to do.   
 
 
NOTES:
 
[1]“The Theosophist”, Adyar, India,  Volume I, November 1879, p. 42. 
 
[2] “The Critic’s Task”, a poem by Alexander Pope published at “A Book of English Poetry”, Collected by G. B. Harrison, Penguin Books, Great Britain, 1950, 416 pp., pp. 190-191.The verses were also published  in “The Theosophist”, Adyar, India,  volume II, December 1880, p. 52. In the “Theosophist”, however, these verses were ascribed to Thomas Taylor, with the single difference that the word “Platonic” replaces “Pierian”: “A little learning is a dangerous thing. / Drink  deep, or taste not the PLATONIC spring;/ There shallow draughts  intoxicate the brain,/ And drinking largely, sobers us again.” Thomas Taylor, the distinguished Neoplatonist, was  no poet and  lived in a later period than Alexander Pope.
 
[3] “Collected Writings”, H. P. Blavatsky, Volume IX (1888), TPH, USA, 1986, p. 101.
 
[4] This belongs to the final paragraph of the text “Sakya Muni’s Place in History”.  See “Five Years of  Theosophy”, The Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 1980, p. 388. Also HPB’s “Collected Writings”, TPH, volume V, p. 259.  As to the author of the prophecy, H.P.B. wrote  in a private letter to Mr. Sinnett that  a Master “ordered Subba Row to answer his objection on the date of Buddha’s birth and Cunningham’s fanciful  dates.”  (See “Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett”, T.U.P., Pasadena, CA, facsimile edition, 1973, Letter XXIII,  p. 46.)  So,  Subba Row but wrote down  the Master’s objections and ideas.  And that includes the prophecy.
 
[5] “The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett”, T.U.P., Pasadena, CA, USA, 1992, Letter XI, p. 63.
 
[6] “WorldWatch magazine”, WorldWatch Institute, Washington, vol. 18, no. 1, January February 2005, p. 43. The whole article is most useful for a theosophical evaluation of  mankind’s present moment.
 
[7] Quoted by professor Foster in “WorldWatch magazine”, January/February 2005, p. 38.  
 
[8] “The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett”, T.U.P., Letter XXIII-B, p. 156.
 
[9] “The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett”, T.U.P., Pasadena, USA, 1992, Letter XXIII-B, p. 149.
 
[10] “The Ocean of Theosophy, William Judge, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 1987, see p. 123.
 
[11] “The Ocean of Theosophy”, William Judge, p. 118.
 
[12] “The Secret Doctrine”, H. P. Blavatsky, The Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, 1982, volume I, pp. 377-378.
 
[13]“H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, Volume XI (1889), TPH, USA, 1973, p. 202.
 
[14] “The Key to Theosophy”, H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., India,  1987, p. 305.
 
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See in our associated websites the article “A Global Karmic Fever”.
 
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In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.  
 
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The Coming of the New Cycle




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