Mad World? Why is Life so Tough for so Many People? Part 1: A World of Causes

– Andrew Rooke

We live on a beautiful Earth. But there is no doubting, looking back through the pages of history and on our TV news screens today, that life is tough for most people.

The Buddhists call our Earth one of many ‘Hells’ – a ‘Myalba’ – a place for the generation and working out of our Karma. Movies, advertising, and television encourage us to think life is supposed to be happy or fulfilling all the time. But it often is not. We have created Karma here in the past - and here on Earth it must be balanced if we are to grow and progress in spiritual awareness. This world is one of many classrooms we humans must attend if we are to grow spiritually.But why does it have to be such a tough classroom for the majority of people? Do we agree with 80s rock band Tears for Fears that it’s a very, very Mad World?

“… All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow
And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it's a very very
Mad world, mad world…”
Tears for Fears – 1983.

Earth life is a very important classroom of life because all seven aspects of our inner constitution are functional during each lifetime. This means that we only have the opportunity to be functional in the higher aspects of our being across all seven planes of reality available in the manifest universe when we are alive in this world.

People often say that they long for a rest from the stresses and strains we all experience in our daily lives. However, Theosophy tells us that when we are resting in the heaven worlds after death, we are functional in only the three higher aspects of our being and therefore we cannot initiate the ‘causes’ which will help us to find an enduring enlightened state of living.

You might call the heaven worlds the ‘Worlds of Effects’ compared to this world as the ‘World of Causes.’ It is for this very reason that great teachers such as the Buddha and Jesus had to find enlightenment, ie. learn how to live in the higher aspects of their inner nature, whilst alive in this world. We are destined to follow their example, no matter how long it takes!

The Ancient Wisdom teaches us our Solar System and Earth are living entities of which we are an essential component. Like all of us, the Earth has its own life and stages of growth in which we are enmeshed. Just as we hurtle through space at 70,000 kph in the wake of the Sun, we are going where the Earth going, and we have the choice to grow, or regress, within the larger life of the Earth.

Our planet will indulgently give us time to grow as it progresses through its own life. But there are limits if we are not flowing with the current of its life-force.

At the present time the Ancient Wisdom tells us that the Earth is just beyond half-way through its present life-cycle, just coming around from its most material phase into an upward arc towards spirituality. Our planet has plumbed the depths of materialism for this 4th Round of its life, and we are now into the 5th Root Race - the Earth as we know it with all of its beauty and terror. Are we prepared to flow with the Earth in its growth towards a more spiritual phase of its life?

Just as every person has hidden qualities of character, emotion, and spirituality which are invisible to our eyes, our Earth has its own complex inner constitution.  The Ancient Wisdom tells us that the Earth is in process of unfolding all the sevenfold aspects of its Desire or ‘Kama’ principle in this 4th Round of its life. Enigmatically theosophical teacher, G. de Purucker says that man is more highly evolved than our earth, on his own scale, of course. Because man corresponds to Mahat, or Cosmic Mind, while our earth corresponds to Kama, or Cosmic Desire, a stage lower.

Understandably therefore there will be many problems for humanity inhabiting its surface related to Desire and Attachment to materialism. We see this everywhere in human behaviour.

It is worth remembering what the Ancient Wisdom teaches in the teachings of the Inner and Outer Rounds, that the Earth is our home for a very long time, but it is not our only home in the solar system. Will we make the best of our opportunities to work through all the lessons related to the Desire principle and move on to higher challenges on other worlds in the distant future?

No doubt the character of our present time, which in Hindu philosophy  and Theosophy is called ‘The Kali Yuga’ or ‘Black Age’ of the majority of present Humanity, strengthens the hands of the servants of the Dark Side.
It should also always be said that the ancient sages advised that the Kali Age, and the activities of the servants of the Dark Side generally, whilst terrible in their assault on the finer instincts of man, are really a testing ground for our moral mettle so we can progress to higher states of consciousness in the distant future (we are 5,000 years into the Kali age which is of 432,000 years duration according to Theosophy).

It is said that the students of the mysteries (the “Chelas”) yearn for Kali Yuga as more progress can be made in its adverse moral atmosphere than at other times when conditions are easier.  As a friend once described the challenge and opportunity of this present age from an esoteric viewpoint:  “You don’t build your muscles pushing against the air”.

It is worth taking a moment to consider the Earth’s spiritual status amongst the planets of our Solar System. It is not included amongst the Seven Sacred Planets associated with the administration of our Solar System. According to some spiritual teachers, principally Alice Bailey, the Earth is not a Sacred Planet as it has not yet passed the planetary equivalent of the 4th or some authorities say 5th initiation for humans.  This means that the Personality aspect has a greater hold on the Earth than the Soul nature.

Seven Planets are especially connected with our Earth. The ‘Rectors’ of these planets mutually assist in the formation and administration of the seven or twelve globes of our Earth’s planetary chain of visible and invisible globes.  According to theosophists HP Blavatsky and G de Purucker the Sacred Planets are, counting away from the Sun:

SUN (standing for the invisible planet ‘VULCAN’), MERCURY, VENUS, MOON (standing for the invisible  ‘PLANET OF DEATH’), MARS, JUPITER and SATURN.

The other planets and ‘dwarf’ planets: Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and the ‘new’ dwarf planets recently discovered in the outer solar system, are either ‘captures’ or part of the ‘Universal Solar System’.

Further it is said by the Ancient Wisdom to be close to the Planet of Death (interestingly one of the seven sacred planets) – the ‘sewerage system’ of the solar system connecting our solar system to the hierarchy below ours. No doubt we are not in close proximity to this dread place without its affect upon life on the Earth.

Currently the Solar System is in the transition time between the Piscean Age and the Age of Aquarius in the 2,160-year cycle of the Precession of the Zodiac in addition to the coincidence of a number of other cycles.  Roughly every 2,160 years, the sun's position at the time of the March, or vernal, equinox moves in front of a new zodiac constellation. The Age of Aquarius begins when the March equinox point moves out of the constellation Pisces and into the constellation Aquarius. Astrologically, the Age of Aquarius represents cooperation, humanitarianism and peace. So, this is bound to be a very turbulent time as the combative, competitive influences of the Piscean Age give way to the more cooperative environment of the Aquarian Age.

There are bound to be many ‘advanced souls’ coming into incarnation who reflect the more beneficial influences of the Aquarian Age who simply don’t respond to the more limited energies of the Piscean Age thus generating conflict which we see in many parts of the world, eg. the Hong Kong democracy demonstrations of 2019/2020, and the Black Lives Matter demonstrations around the world in 2020.

We live in a dualistic universe of light and shadow and it seems that as humanity develops Soul Wisdom there will be individual and mass conflict as we all face the limitations of the Personality side of our nature as it hopefully comes more firmly under the control of our Soul nature.

It’s hard for us humans to relate to these larger factors of the ‘Inner Rounds’ associated with our Earth as a composite being, much less the ‘Outer’ Rounds’ associated with the Earth’s place in the composite life of the Solar System.
So, let’s look through the ‘cosmological microscope’ and take a closer look at the micro-cosmos of human life from the perspective of the Ancient Wisdom.

As we have seen, at this stage of our long spiritual journey on Earth, the majority of Humanity is functioning in the Desire aspect of Mind (Kama Manas) rather than the Compassion Mind (Buddhi Manas) – with all the problems this creates in our human world, ie. We are largely out of tune with our true spiritual Selves.

As the great Buddhist Master, Asvaghoshya, advises us spiritual students:“… [We] should contemplate the fact, that although all things are transitory and empty, yet, nevertheless, on the physical plane [of our Earth-life] they have a relative value to those who are cherishing false imagination; to these ignorant people [the majority of humanity], suffering is very real – it always has been and it always will be – immeasurable and innumerable sufferings. Ignorant beings have been immersed in suffering all their lives, and knowing how difficult it is to escape from suffering, are unconscious that all things and suffering are transient and empty and dream-like, all of which makes their condition more pitiable.

Because of all this, there is awakened in the mind of every earnest disciple a deep compassion for the suffering of all beings that prompts him/her to dauntless, earnest zeal and the making of great vows. He/she resolves to give all he/she has and all he/she is to the emancipation of all beings…After these vows, the sincere student should at all times and as far as his strength and mind permit, practice those deeds which are beneficial alike to others and himself/herself…”