Scientists now accept the phenomenon that one type of sensory input (such as hearing music) evokes an additional one (such as seeing colours). The phenomenon is termed synesthesia, from the Greek roots syn (together) and aesthesis (perception). "Almost any two senses can be combined. Sights can have sounds, sounds can have tastes and, more commonly, black-and-white numbers and letters can appear coloured," writes Anne Underwood (Newsweek, December 1, 2003). Some synesthetes have reported that for them violins appear as a rich burgundy, pianos a deep royal purple and cellos "the mellow gold of liquid honey." Scientists are puzzled as to why people develop synesthesia. They are of the view that it cannot be attributed to the formation of new neural connections. Hence, it is possible that most of us not only have these connections but also use them regularly, though unconsciously. For instance, we describe extreme cold weather as "bitter" cold, or a garish pink or red colour as "loud," etc.
H.P.B. describes this phenomenon in the article "Occult or Exact Science?" (The Theosophist, April 1886). She gives the instance of a person who associated sound with colour. The vowels appeared to him variously coloured, whereas the consonants appeared dark grey. Thus, human speech appeared to him "in the shape of many-coloured, or variegated ribbons coming out of persons' mouths, the colours of which are determined by those of the vowels in the sentences, separated one from the other by the greyish stripes of the consonants....The sounds of the instruments have also their distinct and special colours: the piano and flute suggest tints of blue; the violin—black; and the guitar—silver grey, etc." There are sensitives in whom a triple phenomenon is produced by one special sense generating two other senses. For instance, a certain sensitive saw dark golden clouds and experienced a taste "like copper in the mouth" whenever he heard a brass band.
H.P.B. explains the phenomenon as "a cyclic return of human organisms to their primitive form during the 3rd and even the 4th Root Races of what is known as the Antediluvian periods....That which is now considered as an abnormal phenomenon, was in every probability the normal state of the antediluvian Humanity." We are told that in the absence of the sense of hearing—which was developed only in the third sub-race of the Atlantean Race—human speech was more like a mental articulation of sounds, "something like the systems we now see worked out for the deaf and dumb." In those days, "speech" was associated with sight, and "people could understand each other and talk with the help of only sight and touch. 'Sound is seen before it is heard'...."
Many a time we are tempted to judge others and reform them. "Have you ever found yourself wanting to 'fix' people?" When you find everything wrong with them and want to reorganize them, it is time to look within and see, writes Marie T. Russell (Dignity Dialogue, March 2004). Often, on introspection we detect the same faults within us for which we criticize others. Russel writes:
We must learn to use the situations and people that make us react in an unbrotherly way, as a means to acquire peace and harmony.
All the great teachers down the ages have taught us to abstain from faultfinding. Mr. Judge suggests that seldom is it our duty to judge others. Whenever we are tempted to judge another we must ask ourselves, "Am I any better in my way? Do I, or do I not offend in some other way just as much as they do in this?" In An Epitome of Theosophy, Mr. Judge explains the rationale of how we attract to ourselves the fault from the person we condemn. Thus:
In case we find others in error, the course of action advised by Mr. Judge is:
Positive thoughts and positive emotions are the key to success in all our endeavours. "It may be hard to believe, but we pave the way for our success or failure with our thoughts....if the mind is full of doubts or fear about the task we are performing, it undermines our chances of success" (Purity, March 2004). A psychic performing feats such as bending spoons and stopping clocks by thought power has reported that he is most successful in front of children, who expect him to succeed, and thus their thoughts support his efforts. On the other hand, negative thoughts of sceptics and cynics in the audience stalled his success. "We can either create or maintain a powerful state of mind with positive affirmations or use them to counter our negative self-talk." Positive thoughts must be accompanied by positive emotions for better results. "To make the effect even stronger, we can visualize our affirmations, i.e., make a mental picture of ourselves as we would like to be, and we would soon achieve that target."
The power of resolution or positive thinking is based on the foundation of will, desire and imagination. "Behind will stands desire." H.P.B. has this to say:
Mr. Crosbie gives the example of a student trying to follow spiritual discipline. After having resolved to control the personal nature, when he fails, the student decides that in the future, he will not oscillate so much. But this, says Mr. Crosbie, is not the correct position because
We must use this power of thought to improve not only our own life by getting rid of wrong habits and wrong emotions, but also the lives of people around us. H.P.B. writes, "every person who draws the breath of life affects the mental and moral atmosphere of the world, and helps to colour the day for those about him. Those who do not help to elevate the thoughts and lives of others must of necessity either paralyse them by indifference, or actively drag them down."
Scientists are seeking to answer the question, "Does 'race' exist?" People are classified into different groups based on physical characteristics, area of geographic origin and shared culture. "But how valid is the concept of race from a biological standpoint? Do physical features reliably say anything informative about a person's genetic makeup beyond indicating that the individual has genes for blue eyes or curly hair?," ask Michael J. Bamshad and Steve E. Olson (Scientific American, December 2003). It appears that genetic information and analyses are inadequate for racial classification. For instance, a person might belong to one group based on skin-colour gene, but a different group based on hair-colour gene. "The outward signs on which most definitions of race are based—such as skin colour and hair texture—are dictated by a handful of genes. But the other genes of two people of the same 'race' can be very different. Conversely, two people of different 'races' can share more genetic similarity than two individuals of the same race." Traits such as skin colour and other physical characteristics that are influenced by natural selection may tend to exaggerate genetic relatedness. For instance, "individuals from sub-Saharan Africa and Australian Aborigines might have similar skin pigmentation (because of adapting to strong sun), but genetically they are quite dissimilar."
Using genetic analyses, researchers were able to distinguish five different groups of people according to their geographic origin: sub-Saharan Africans; Europeans and Asians west of the Himalayas; East Asians; inhabitants of New Guinea and Melanesia; and Native Americans. They could also identify subgroups within each region. This approach was successful when people were widely separated from one another geographically, but it was difficult to group people into a unique cluster where people of a geographic region had interbred with multiple populations—as was the case with India.
Similarly, researchers experienced difficulty in categorizing populations in the U.S. "Most people who describe themselves as African-American have relatively recent ancestors from West Africa." According to Mark D. Shriver of Pennsylvania State University, "approximately 30 per cent of Americans who consider themselves 'white' have less than 90 per cent European ancestry."
The concept of "race" is a complex one and even learned ethnologists have confessed that they were unable to account for varieties in human race. Esoteric philosophy traces human (Root) Races and sub-races right from the infancy of humanity. Each Root-Race has seven sub-races. Each sub-race has seven Branch or "Family" races. Each Family-race can be further subdivided into countless tribes, shoots and offshoots, depending on Karmic action. We are in the Fifth Root-Race and fifth Sub-race. Our Fifth Root-Race has been in existence for 1,000,000 years (S.D., II, 434-35). Further:
We are also told that Earth and men were both in an ethereal state and reached the consolidated state only in the middle of the Third Root Race. "The light yellow is the colour of the first SOLID human race," which gave birth to red-yellow and brown-white races.
Regarding the formation of the races, H.P.B. writes: "The human races are born one from the other," and "there is enormous overlapping of one race over the race which succeeds it, though in characters and external type the elder loses its characteristics, and assumes the new features of the younger race...." (S.D., II, 444)
H.P.B. writes about America: "Pure Anglo-Saxons hardly three hundred years ago, the Americans of the United States have already become a nation apart, and, owing to strong admixture of various nationalities and inter-marriage, almost a race sui generis, not only mentally, but also physically." Amricans have become in only three hundred years a "primary race," and they are the germs of the Sixth subrace.