Recent discovery of a partial skeleton of a half-size Homo species—supposedly a female, three feet, three inches tall—in a cave on the eastern Indonesian island of Flores, has provided new evolutionary insights. It is believed to have lived there, side by side with Homo sapiens. Many differing views have been expressed. A research team led by Peter Brown of the University of New England in Armidale, Australia, concluded that "aside from its small stature and brain, the specimen closely resembles Homo erectus fossils." Some researchers maintain that the new species, dubbed Homo floresiensis, reached this island at least 38,000 years ago and then died out near the end of the Stone Age, i.e., roughly 20,000 years later. Brown's team explains it in terms of dwarfing—evolution of smaller creatures from larger ones. The remains of dwarf elephants and small Komodo dragons have been unearthed on Flores. "Brown's team proposes that Homo erectus reached Flores by 800,000 years ago and evolved into the smaller species as a result of living on an island with limited food sources," writes B. Bower (Science News, October 30). Brown considers it unlikely that Homo floresiensis evolved as pygmy versions of Homo sapiens. Marta M. Lahr and Robert Foley, both of the University of Cambridge in England, say, "The new find strengthens the view that many ancient Homo species evolved throughout the world."
Theosophy teaches that in the course of evolution, there have been instances of giants existing side by side with dwarfs. "The Nyam-Nyam of Africa are regular dwarfs, while their next neighbours (several tribes of comparatively fair-complexioned Africans) are giants when confronted with the Nyam-Nyams, and very tall even among Europeans, for their women are all above 6 ½ feet high." (S.D., II, 754)
H.P.B. mentions that there is an enormous overlapping of one race over the race that succeeds it. For instance, the Third or Lemurian race overlapped the Atlanteans and the fourth or Atlantean race overlapped with our Aryan race. The old race slowly changes with the succeeding race, in stature, general physique and mentality. The old race survives only in small groups on islands, where they vegetate, degenerate and die out, as the Aztecs have, as the Nyam-Nyam and the dwarfish Moola Koorumba of the Nilgiri Hills are dying (S.D., II, 444-45). Regarding the Atlantean race, H.P.B. writes:
Though giant Atlanteans perished some 850,000 years ago, the last remnants of the Atlanteans—the Aryo-Atlanteans—were destroyed only some 11,000 years ago.
Further, H.P.B. shows that there is a connection between sexual licentiousness and physical stature and strength.
Who were the Phoenicians? Generally described as vigorous traders and sailors, relatively little is known about them. Historians refer to them as Canaanites. "The Greeks called them phoinikes, which means 'red people'—a name that became Phoenicians—after their word for a prized reddish purple cloth the Phoenicians exported," writes Rick Gore (National Geographic, October 2004). They are supposed to have been citizens of walled cities such as Byblos, Sidon and Tyre. Thus:
H.P.B. points out that the achievements of the Phoenicians are comparable to those of the mighty Egyptians. Thus:
Many historians claim—with good reason—that the Jews were identical with the ancient Phoenicians, but, H.P.B. observes that the "Phoenicians were beyond any doubt an Aethiopian race." (Isis Unveiled, I, 566-67) Further:
As for the Phoenicians being Canaanites, H.P.B. has this to say:
Are coincidences meaningful? What rules our lives, chance or law? "Is there a deeper order, an overarching purpose to the universe? Or are we the lucky accidents of evolution, living our precious but brief lives in a fundamentally random world that has only the meaning we choose to give it?" asks Jill Neimark (Psychology Today, July-August 2004). Josh Tenenbaum, MIT cognitive scientist, points out that there is a double atmosphere about coincidences. On the one hand they seem irrational, without any causal connections, and on the other hand we owe some of the greatest scientific discoveries to them. It is felt that the information-rich environment of modern life—with a plethora of names, birth dates, e-mails, addresses, etc.—is itself a source of many coincidences. "Even 'prophetic' dreams can be explained by probability....This country [U.S.A.] dreams a half billion hours each night (250 million people dreaming two hours a night). Some of those dreams are bound to coincide with real events." The spotting of the comet across the sky, at different periods in history, has been usually accompanied by disasters. Were these mere coincidences—or are comets portents of divine intent? Neimark writes:
"There is not an accident in our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doing in this or in another life," writes H.P.B. (S.D., I, 644). It is an orderly universe of Law where the Law of Karma, described as the ultimate law of the universe, governs supreme. There is no place for chance or randomness. The universe comes into existence and goes out of existence under the law of Periodicity or Cycles. Our present universe is one in the series of universes and is the result of the karma engendered on the previous universe. Cycles are the clocks of Karma. Similarly, everything in the universe is governed by the law of cycles. Law of Reincarnation is a special aspect of the law of cycles. Esoteric philosophy teaches that evolution proceeds first by natural impulse and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts, checked by Karma. The Ego reaches self-conscious godhood, "through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations." Everything in the manifested universe is linked to, affects and is affected by, other factors. A Master of Wisdom writes: "Nature has linked all parts of her Empire together by subtle threads of magnetic sympathy, and there is a mutual correlation even between a star and a man." (Mahatma Letters, No. 45)
Regarding chance, H.P.B. has this to say:
People who profess to be happy, seem to be dissatisfied, deep down, with the modern way of life. The cultural pressure and changing lifestyles appear to be responsible for the wide gap between "what I believe in" and "how I live." There is search for meaning expressed in religion, New Age mysticism, moral reflection, or love and friendship. Many Americans are upset about their way of life and "people from all walks of life share similar concerns about a culture of materialism and excess, and the consequences for future generations." Such common concern indicates that the possibility of change can become a reality. Recent studies by U.S. researchers Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson reveal that a quarter of Americans and Europeans are cultural creatives, "people who have made a comprehensive shift in their world view, values and way of life." Ray and Anderson note:
A new moral autonomy seems to be emerging. "We humans have the opportunity, however small, of becoming truly moral beings, perhaps for the first time in history. That is, each of us has the opportunity to exercise genuine moral choice and to take responsibility for the consequences of those choices, rather than accepting moral edicts based on some grand, universal creed and handed down from on high by its apostles," says Richard Eckersley of Australian National University, Canberra (The Futurist, September-October 2004). However, it is realized that these choices need to be made within some socio-moral framework. It is envisaged that in future, "both science and spiritual faith will play a part—not, as in the past, as institutions of moral authority, but as sources of knowledge and guidance."
Theosophy teaches that at the present point of man's evolution, passions and desires reign supreme. It is evident from the undue attention given, in every country, to sensuous art, to struggle for power, to accumulation of wealth and all kinds of sense gratification. However, we are in a "transition period," when the mind is being evolved more and more. As a result, we observe, in all countries, "the beginning of the transition from the animal possessed of the germ of real mind to the man of mind complete." Mr. Judge writes: