Monday, May 27, 2013

Welcome to Alcatraz

Three astronauts walking across a seemingly endless desert landscape. The heat is excruciating. They have just landed on an unknown planet and their spaceship is destroyed. With no opportunity of returning to Earth and facing a slow death if no water and food is found within 48 hours they start discussing what ultimately motivated their decision to join this expedition. The men represent three different psychological types. For one of them honour, fame and bravery is important. He is the power type. The second man is the ultimate scientist. He would enter a burning volcano to get new research data. The third man, captain of the expedition, is regarded as a cynic by his colleagues. What is your real motives they enquire. The captain stops walking, turn his head towards the sky explaining his motive: “I am a seeker too, but my dreams are not like yours. I can´t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man.”

The scenario is familiar to all fans of science fiction who recognize the scene from the masterful sf-movie Planet of the Apes (1968), starring Charlton Heston. In my view one of the best science fiction movies ever made, based on a novel by French author Pierre Boulle. Charlton Heston´s philosophical response have echoed in my mind since the first time I watched this classic movie.

Moscow, summer 1933. Journalist and author Arthur Koestler is relaxing at Café Metropoles. He has been sent to the Soviet Union to write about Stalin´s first Five-Year-Plan. After a few Vodkas his mood changes and he becomes painfully aware of the acute misery of human existence on this planet. Instead of an article on the Five-Year-Plan he starts formulating a fantasy on the Metropole´s napkins. This fantasy, a drama, was published as Twilight Bar in 1945. Two interplanetary visitors, Alpha and Omega, suddenly arrive on Earth with a mission to find the worst and most unhappy planet in the Universe. They find it - Tellus. Alpha and Omega give the governments three days to change the situation. If not, humanity will be wiped out and another civilization take its place. The drama ends one hour before the three days have expired.

The theme is universal and existential, the problem of evil and suffering. One of the traumatic moments in life is when you suddenly become aware of that this world is not a nice place. You start wondering what strange fate put you on this Dark Star and why the concentration of so much evil on one planet? The orthodox theologies of the world religions certainly has no reasonable answer only referring to the inscrutable will of God.

In 1976 I got some interesting views on this problem corresponding with the erudite English Theosophist and ufologist Mr. T. Bryon Edmond. Although he accepted the esoteric tradition as a good working hypothesis he regarded himself as an agnostic and pessimist: "And where do I stand now? After 50 years study of philosophy I´m afraid I am no nearer a solution of the mysteries of the universe and life and death then when I started. And I am a pessimist. To me the world and physical existence is evil... Certainly Christianity, with its concept of an almighty and loving God cannot cope with the problem. Theosophy does better with the idea of the Imperfect Gods. This explains evil, but does not justify it. In my opinion, it would be better not to create at all, than to create a world in which innocent people have to suffer."

T. Bryon Edmond obviously has a point here. International media presents a daily mix of what´s going on in the world: wars, terror, torture, rape, slavery, international crime syndicates, poverty, famine, greed and egotism.  But although well informed on the esoteric tradition Mr. Edmond has obviously missed a central theme in esotericism, what I use to call the Alcatraz theory. The assertion that our planet is a sort of interplanetary Alcatraz, a quarantined prison world where the scum and criminals of other planets have been placed to work out their own destiny. This assertion has the advantage of being a rational and logical explanation for the miserable situation on this planet. An interesting point is that this claim was also presented by several of the first generation UFO contactees. Academic scholars would explain this fact as influence from ideas in the occult underground. Esotericists could speculate on a somewhat novel method by the planetary guardians of propagating the Ancient Wisdom.

The Tibetan, writing with the help of Alice Bailey, often refers in his books to "...the unhappy little planet of suffering which we call the Earth" (Discipleship in the New Age, p. 649) or "...this planet of suffering, sorrow, pain and struggle" (ibid. p. 385) and that this is part of a large experiment. We are also told that "conditions of agony and of distress such as are found on our planet are found in no such degree in any other scheme." (A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, p. 416).

Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency is even more specific in his tomes:
"In no other place in our solar system and, according to what has been intimated, in our seven-globe of solar systems, is there such a mankind as ours. People arrive here from other solar systems to watch a mankind whose match in stupidity and brutality they have never seen." (The Way of Man, p. 14).
"Regrettably, our very planet is the “slop-pail” of the solar system. Monads of repulsive tendency have been
transferred here from other planets and also solar systems, such hateful types as have caused trouble in planets with individuals of attractive tendency. (Knowledge of Life One, p. 61).

Of the early UFO contactees we find the Alcatraz theory clearly formulated by Orfeo Angelucci, George Adamski, George Hunt Williamson, Kelvin Rowe and George Van Tassel. In The Secret of the Saucers Angelucci writes: "I may tell you that to the entities of certain other worlds Earth is regarded as the accursed planet, the home of the reprobate, fallen ones. Others call your Earth the home of sorrows. For Earth´s evolution is evolution through pain, sorrow, sin, suffering and the illusion of physical death." (p. 43)

And George Adamski, the most controversial of the UFO contactees was told by one of his space people: "...centuries ago, in a meeting among the teachers of wisdom on many planets, it was decided to ship such selfish ones to new planets capable of maintaining human life... Earth in our system was chosen for the new home of these unruly ones from many planets inside and outside of our system. These exiles were what you on Earth call trouble-makers." (Inside the Space Ships, p. 180).

The Alcatraz theory is intriguing but not very comforting, because you are confronted with a rather disturbing follow-up question: What am I doing here?