Evidence Of Spiritual Interest
Dear Member of Blavatsky Net,
We Theosophists care a very great deal about the spiritual state of the orld. In this topsy-turvy world of the Kali-yuga we may look around and be quite distressed at the apparent immorality and injustice of the world around us.
Of course it can be difficult for us to assess the state of the whole human race on this score. We know the affairs of man less well as we reach our minds to further and further removed places and situations on earth. We may sense that even the immediate world around us may not reflect well the larger whole. We hear various forms of remarks that the Theosophical groups have reasons to be discouraged about their abilities to attract and hold newcomers. Finally there may come a time when, like Arjuna, we feel like dropping the bow. So the purpose of these few words is to offer a few ideas that may suggest a broader more underlying success for Theosophy in this world.
The information presented here is of course not definitive. It leaves many questions. But hopefully it will raise many questions and, after some thought, encourage us to keep up the battle.
To me the most striking datapoint is found on Amazon.com. Amazon gives there the sales rank of the Secret Doctrine. The paperback version of the Secret Doctrine as published by the Theosophical University Press is listed with a sales rank that to me is very high - at the moment of writing this, it is about 72,000. That means only about 72,000 other books are selling better at Amazon than the Secret Doctrine. Isn't that amazing? For some perspective they offer about one million books. That means about 928,000 books sell worse that the Secret Doctrine. That suggests that there is a strong desire on the part of people to reach for the knowledge contained in that book. It is difficult reading we know. All the more striking that they purchase the book in that quantity.
Suppose we move away from this specifically Theosophical book. HPB says "Compassion is the law of laws". On Amazon, the Dalai Lama's book "An Open Heart Practicing Compassion in Everyday life" Would be a good test. It ranks at 65,000 in sales volume out of some one million books.
If that is not impressive enough we can consider another book "Seat of the Soul" by Gary Zukav. That book has been recommended to me by some Theosophists. I had heard that years ago it had sold out of its first printing of 2,000,000 copies. A check at Amazon shows that book is, at this moment of writing, at a rank of 4,969. Just amazing. It was first published in 1990 and still going this strong.
Another indicator that is suggestive comes from google.com. We can visit that site and enter quite a variety of different terms and see at the top of the resulting page, the number of pages on the internet that contain the given word. For example, I asked about the word "justice" and google said there were 28,000,000 pages on the internet containing that word. Quite impressive. The total number of people concerned about the subject will of course be much larger. Some people don't put up web pages. Some don't have access to the internet. And some sites have more than one page on the subject. In this case there is one caveat. Many of the references were to Departments of Justice and that was not quite what I had in mind. However the word "ethics" seems just right. It yields 11,000,000 web pages! That seems to me dramatic.
The idea of ethics is so important to the internet world that eleven million pages have been put online containing that specific word. People are thinking a good deal about ethics and they are concerned about it.
Some other numbers may be of interest. I have heard that 25,000,000 people in the US have practiced yoga. Of course their are various statements made about that in Theosophy but it still indicates an interest and receptivity to ideas emmanating from India.
There may be some worthwhile polls around that would give us yet another measure. One that was passed to me recently is at the Gallup Organization. It asserts that belief in reincarnation in the US is at 25% (I thought it was higher than that?) and "Americans' Belief in Psychic and Paranormal Phenomena Is up Over Last Decade. Belief in psychic healing and extrasensory perception top the list." It would be interesting if we could find yet more relevant polls.
So there is a conclusion. Yes our organizations are having trouble sustaining their numbers. However the interest level in the world at large in the subjects of concern to us is much larger than we might have suspected. If anyone has other ways of approaching an understanding of the spiritual state of humanity it would be interesting to hear them.