On the website of The Theosophical Society – Point Loma, which has its international headquarters in the Netherlands, there is an interesting section on the issue of organ donation. Amongst other things, it says:
“On the 22nd October the Dutch Government launched a new campaign to encourage all Dutch people to register themselves as organ donor. The project however suffered a bad start as a recent high profile case in Denmark made organ donation subject of a controversial discussion in that country.
“What are the facts:
A young 19-year-old woman fell into a deep coma after a car accident. A doctor asked the parents’ permission to remove the organs. According to him there was not the slightest hope of a ‘small wonder’. If she would wake up, the woman certainly would stay in a vegetative state for the rest of her life, he argued.
“But what happened? When they disconnected her from the respiratory ventilation machine the young woman didn’t die: 24 hours later she woke up. Since that moment a year has passed, and she is now able to walk, talk and even ride a horse. She does have problems with her short term memory, which problems however may not have occurred if the doctors would have treated her longer.
“This remarkable story was filmed and broadcasted by Danish public television. It evoked a tremendous lot of reactions in Denmark. People who had registered themselves as donor, signed out. The Minister for Healthcare announced plans to strengthen the rules: the procedure to take away the organs may only begin once brain death is diagnosed. Physicians of course protested against such change, because in their opinion they would lose precious time.
“In the Netherlands, the government urges people to register as a donor. They don’t hesitate to use popular commercials to convince people to join the Organ Donor Register. These commercials usually are an emotional appeal to people trying to make them believe that they are selfish if they don’t want to donate their organs after their death.
“Though not easy to find, there are different opinions available. A recent article in the leading Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, with the meaningful title: “Man is not a box from which you may pick what you need”, mentions some good arguments against organ donation. [De Volkskrant, October 22, 2012]” – see blavatskyhouse.org/magazine
This is now increasingly the case in many countries around the world. At the moment, here in the United Kingdom, a person must sign a specific consent form before death if they wish to leave their organs to medical science. It is now being said, however, that the law will soon change and that people will have to sign a specific consent form if they don’t wish for their organs to be automatically harvested from their bodies after death.
As the above mentioned website very aptly remarks, “The quintessential problem of organ donation is rooted in our view on life and death. If you think that life is the product of matter, you will be inclined to look at your body as a kind of machine that, like an old car on the junkyard, may be used to supply spare parts to other machines. But if you see a body as a living instrument that is used by a human being – call it the soul or the consciousness if you like – it is the living expression of that inner man.”
Knowing perfectly well that those who hold to a purely materialistic view of things are so blind to the true realities of life that they will instantly dismiss all of this as rubbish, this article is not written for their benefit but for the benefit and interest of people who actually think.
When viewed from the commonplace, superficial, and materialistic level, the transplanting of organs may seem a merely physical and largely harmless process and one not worth thinking twice about. The student of Theosophy, on the other hand, can readily see that there is an esoteric, or unseen and metaphysical, side to this process and issue, since really it involves one person’s uniquely Karmically fashioned organs, body parts, and cells being surgically attached, inserted, and mixed with the uniquely Karmically fashioned body and system of another person.
At present, the organs which can be transplanted from one body to another are:
* The HEART
* The KIDNEYS
* The LIVER
* The LUNGS
* The PANCREAS
* The INTESTINES, and
* The THYMUS
Kidney transplants are the most common of all organ transplants, followed closely by liver transplants and then heart transplants. As well as organ transplants, other types of transplant possibilities currently exist including limb transplants (i.e. legs and arms), hand transplants, bone marrow transplants, skin transplants, face transplants, cornea transplants, and blood transfusions.
According to the teachings of Theosophy, all of our internal organs have a definite occult – meaning “esoteric” or “inner” – aspect to them.
For one thing, it is taught that the spleen is “the physical vehicle” of Linga Sharira, which is the Astral Body, the subtle, unseen, vitalising “double” of the physical body and that the liver is “the seat” of “the animal desires and passions” in man, i.e. the Kama principle.
In her deeply esoteric article “Psychic and Noetic Action,” H.P. Blavatsky states that “every Theosophist must understand when told that there are Manasic as well as Kamic organs in him.” As the explanation of the Manas principle and Kama principle has already been gone into in other articles on this site, such as The Sevenfold Nature of Man, we will not elaborate too much on it here except to explain that this remark from HPB indicates that some of our bodily organs are connected with and specifically related to our spiritual Individuality (the Reincarnating Ego) whilst others are connected with and specifically related to the lower and more material aspects of our present personality.
Either way, there is far more to every part of our physical body than meets the eye. “The unseen things are more,” as is said in “The Light of Asia.”
In her article titled “Kosmic Mind,” HPB says, “Occultism tells us that every atom, like the monad of Leibnitz, is a little universe in itself; and that every organ and cell in the human body is endowed with a brain of its own, with memory, therefore, experience and discriminative powers. The idea of Universal Life composed of individual atomic lives is one of the oldest teachings of esoteric philosophy.”
Again, in “Psychic and Noetic Action,” it is explained that:
* “The ancient Hindus endowed every cell in the human body with consciousness, giving each the name of a God or Goddess. Speaking of atoms in the name of science and philosophy, Professor Ladd calls them in his work “supersensible beings.” Occultism regards every atom as an “independent unity” and every cell as a “conscious unit.” It explains that no sooner do such atoms group to form cells, than the latter become endowed with consciousness, each of its own kind, and with free will to act within the limits of the law.”
* “More than one learned physiologist of the golden minority, in our own day, moreover, is rapidly coming to the conviction that memory has no seat, no special organ of its own in the human brain, but that it has seats in every organ of the body.”
* “The seat of memory, then, is assuredly neither here nor there, but everywhere throughout the human body. To locate its organ in the brain is to limit and dwarf the Universal Mind and its countless Rays (the Manasaputras) which inform every rational mortal. As we write for Theosophists, first of all, we care little for the psychophobian prejudices of the Materialists who may read this and sniff contemptuously at the mention of “Universal Mind,” and the Higher noetic souls of men.”
* “Indeed, every organ in our body has its own memory. For if it is endowed with a consciousness “of its own kind,” every cell must of necessity have also a memory of its own kind, as likewise its own psychic and noetic action. Responding to the touch of both a physical and a metaphysical Force, the impulse given by the psychic (or psycho-molecular) Force will act from without within; while that of the noetic (shall we call it Spiritual-dynamical?) Force works from within without.”
* “No memory of a purely daily-life function, of a physical, egotistical, or of a lower mental nature – such as, e.g., eating and drinking, enjoying personal sensual pleasures, transacting business to the detriment of one’s neighbour, etc., etc., has aught to do with the “Higher” Mind or Ego. Nor has it any direct dealings on this physical plane with either our brain or our heart – for these two are the organs of a power higher than the Personality – but only with our passional organs, such as the liver, the stomach, the spleen, etc.”
* “Occultism teaches that the liver and the spleen cells are the most subservient to the action of our “personal” mind, the heart being the organ par excellence through which the “Higher” Ego acts – through the Lower Self.”
* “The whole human body is, as said, a vast sounding board, in which each cell bears a long record of impressions connected with its parent organ, and each cell has a memory and a consciousness of its kind, or call it instinct if you will. These impressions are, according to the nature of the organ, physical, psychic, or mental, as they relate to this or another plane. They may be called “states of consciousness” only for the want of a better expression – as there are states of instinctual, mental, and purely abstract, or spiritual consciousness.”
Perhaps one of the most important statements in that article – which first appeared in “Lucifer” Magazine in October and November 1890 – is that there is “mutual interaction and consistent interrelation between the personal “Mind-Entity” and the organs of the human body.”
It may seem slightly paradoxical on the surface but although Theosophy always emphasises that we are all ONE, it nevertheless maintains the unique individuality of each one of us on the lower and more material levels of life and being. There is only one spirit but there are many souls. The soul is that “Higher Mind” or “Higher Ego” we have been talking about, the permanent reincarnating Individuality, the true “I” of our being.
When a soul incarnates into a particular body, every part of the body – even every single cell – is impressed and coloured (for want of a better expression) with the physical side of the individual Karma which that particular soul has to face and experience in that particular lifetime. And, as we have just seen from HPB’s words, every part of the body also subsequently becomes imbued with, and takes on, the impressions and recordings of the experiences from the new lifetime as well.
Amongst other things, this helps to provide the rationale for a couple of things related in the first volume of “Isis Unveiled,” HPB’s first book, where it is strongly suggested that there is a continuing magnetic relation between donors and the part of their body donated to others. The example is given of a person who received a hair transplant and whose new hair eventually turned grey at the same time as the donor’s and also of someone in Victorian times who received an artificial nose constructed from the skin and tissue of the back of a donor…when the donor eventually died, the other man’s nose dropped off!
A simple search of the internet will also provide direct contemporary accounts of people in the present day whose personalities, interests, tendencies, characteristics, etc. altered significantly after receiving an organ transplant. Medical professionals may not be able to explain it but Theosophy can and does.
Today there is great emphasis in certain parts of the media on organ donation because there are apparently less donors than there are people needing transplants. As was mentioned right at the start of the article, many people promulgate the view that it’s selfish not to leave our organs to medical science as transplant donations when we die, seeing as we could save or prolong someone’s life that way. Yet there are a few things to be considered about this:
#1. – The fact that a relatively large number of organ transplants are rejected by the recipient bodies is rarely, if ever, mentioned by the promoters of organ donation. According to the Wikipedia page on “Transplant Rejection” 50 – 60% of kidney transplants end up being rejected by the body of their recipient and kidney transplants are the most common of all transplants. The second most frequent of all organ transplants are liver transplants and 10 – 30% of these also end up being rejected. When transplant rejection occurs, doctors will usually try to replace the rejected transplant with another transplant. Sometimes this is successful but sometimes is again rejected by the body. Repeated rejection of organ transplants eventually results in great stress and trauma to the body and consequently the death of the person. So the whole process is nowhere near as smooth, perfected, and successful as the media makes out. And in fact, technically speaking, all organ transplants are rejected by the body of the recipient, which is why the recipient has to take powerful medication for the remainder of their life in order to minimise the naturally occurring negative side effects from having someone else’s organ in their body.
#2. – Increasing atheism and agnosticism results in a huge proportion of people trying to cling desperately onto physical existence since they believe that they are nothing more than their bodies and that when the physical body dies they will entirely cease to exist. They believe this one physical bodily life is all there is and so they are willing to prolong it at any cost due to fear of what they view as their impending “annihilation.”
#3. – Theosophy – just like all the Indic religions – teaches that everything that happens to us in life, good or bad, is as a result of our own Karma (our self-created destiny resulting from our deeds and actions in former lifetimes) and that it is impossible for someone to avoid, evade, or escape the Law of Karma. Thus, if we become very ill with something fatal and it becomes plainly apparent that we stand no chance of ever recovering, it may perhaps be best to accept that this is our Karma and to nobly resign ourselves to allowing that particular “karmic debt” to burn itself off through our suffering and eventual departure from our present body. Many people unfortunately create even more and worse suffering and distress for themselves at the end of their lives by trying in vain to desperately prolong their life by any means possible. An understanding and acceptance of Karma and Reincarnation could help people to end their days in peace, hope, and assurance.
Karma and Reincarnation are central teachings of Theosophy. H.P. Blavatsky and William Quan Judge, founders of the Theosophical Movement, considered these to be the most vitally important truths for humanity at large to understand.
The Law of Karma is the law of self-created destiny. It means that in spite of all appearances there is actually no injustice in the world and that everything that we experience in life is something we have earned for ourselves through our own past actions, possibly in this lifetime but usually from the actions of a previous lifetime. There is no “will of God”; in fact, there is no God at all; but as a beautiful poem says, “You are your own Devil, you are your own God, you fashioned the paths your footsteps have trod.”
The Universe is produced and governed by absolute immutable LAW and Law reigns in all things.
In a letter to I.B. Rumford, William Judge wrote that “Philosophy as well as religion has always taught that the soul is purified and strengthened by suffering, and it is sometimes well to suffer. If we could know the action and operation of Karma we would see that by suffering pain in sickness bad Karma is worked off … Those who know and recognize this fact are cured thereby of the mental distress which is so large a part of the evil of bodily suffering, and this is for them a “mind cure” on a higher plane than the physical, for then they can bear their sufferings with calmness and resignation.”
But this is of course not saying that a person should refuse to take medicine or avoid going to the doctor or having operations. Those things are important and indeed necessary at times. What is being expressed there by Mr Judge is simply the fact that suffering and illness can sometimes have a sort of beneficially transformative and redemptive effect on us, whether the illness be temporary or permanent. Sometimes it can provide us with just the opportunity and impetus we need to get our lives back on track and our focus readjusted to the more meaningful and worthwhile things of life.
When it comes to the issue of transplanting organs, however, the teachings of Theosophy enable us to draw the conclusion that this is going a step too far and is really verging on interfering with the Laws of Nature, which are inextricably linked and connected with the Law of Karma, which HPB calls “the Ultimate Law of the Universe.”
However, one of the main hallmarks of Theosophy is that it emphasises spiritual and mental independence and freedom of thought and belief. People are therefore encouraged not to necessarily accept or believe things unless they correspond to their own independent reason. So whereas the Theosophical teachings have some specific things to say about ethical and even physiological matters, students of Theosophy are more than welcome to disagree and do not need to fear judgment, criticism, or condemnation from others for doing so.
The question of organ transplants is a very sensitive one and intensely personal and one person’s view on the matter can change radically as time goes on. A recent talk and discussion on this topic at a Theosophical group here in England revealed that approximately 60% of those present were against organ transplants whilst the remaining 40% were either in favour of them or hadn’t yet decided either way. Most Theosophists who disagree with the idea of organ transplants also disagree with the transplanting of body parts. However, although our blood has a definite esoteric side to it too, as does every other part of us, it seems that the majority of Theosophists would accept a blood transfusion if necessary, although there are a very few who have stated that they wouldn’t.
Views, opinions, and choices are not set in stone, however. Changing circumstances may alter an individual’s personal stance on this or any other issue.
Yet one thing which never changes or alters is the Truth and the Truth which is the Theosophia (the “Divine Wisdom” literally) declares that the “body, so desecrated by Materialism and man himself, is the temple of the Holy Grail, the Adytum of the grandest, nay, of all, the mysteries of nature in our solar universe.”
~ BlavatskyTheosophy.com ~
SOME RELATED ARTICLES: 12 Things Theosophy Teaches, The Ignorance and Conceit of Modern Science, A Right Understanding of Karma, A Right Understanding of Reincarnation, The Sevenfold Nature of Man, The Difference between Soul and Spirit, There is No Injustice, The Skandhas, Death and the Afterlife, Mysteries of the Astral Body, Responding to Lies about H.P. Blavatsky, Gandhi on Blavatsky and Theosophy, Praise for H.P. Blavatsky and Theosophy, and My Law – Theosophy in a Poem.