Echoes from the Orient by William Q. Judge
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

Chapter 5

The ancient doctrine of the constant, eternal change of every atom from state to state, is founded upon, or rather grows out of, another which postulates that there is no such thing as dead matter. At every conceivable point in the universe there are lives; nowhere can be found a spot that is dead; and each life is forever hastening onward to higher evolution. To admit this, we must of course grant that matter is never perceived by the eye or through any instrument. It is but the phenomena of matter that we recognize with the senses, and hence, say the sages, the thing denominated "matter" by us is an illusion. Even the protoplasm of the schools is not the original matter; it is simply another of the phenomena. This first original matter is called by Paracelsus and others primordial matter, the nearest approach to which in the Eastern school is found in the Sanskrit word mulaprakriti. This is the root of matter, invisible, not to be weighed, or measured, or tested with any instrument of human invention. And yet it is the only real matter underlying all the phenomena to which we erroneously give its name. But even it is not dead, but full of the lives first referred to.

Now, bearing this in mind, we consider the vast solar system, yet vast only when not compared with the still greater aggregation of stars and planets around it. The great sidereal year covered by the sun in going through the twelve signs of the zodiac includes over 25,000 mortal years of 365 days each. While this immense circuit is being traversed, the sun drags the whole solar system with him around his own tremendous orbit, and we may imagine — for there are no observations on the point — that, while the 25,000 years of travel around the zodiac have been passing, the solar system as a whole has advanced along the sun's own orbit only a little distance. But after millions of years shall have been consumed in these progresses, the sun must bring his train of planets to stellar space where they have never been before; here other conditions and combinations of matter may very well obtain — conditions and states of which our scientists have never heard, of which there never has been recorded one single phenomenon; and the difference between planetary conditions then and now will be so great that no resemblance shall be observed.

This is a branch of cyclic law with which the Eastern sages are perfectly familiar. They have inquired into it, recorded their observations, and preserved them. Having watched the uncountable lives during cycles upon cycles past, and seen their behavior under different conditions in other stellar spaces long ago left behind, they have some basis upon which to draw conclusions as to what will be the state of things in ages yet to come.

This brings us to an interesting theory offered by Theosophy respecting life itself as exhibited by man, his death and sleep. It relates also to what is generally called "fatigue." The most usual explanation for the phenomenon of sleep is that the body becomes tired and more or less depleted of its vitality and then seeks repose. This, says Theosophy, is just the opposite of the truth, for, instead of having suffered a loss of vitality, the body, at the conclusion of the day, has more life in it than when it waked. During the waking state the life-waves rush into the body with greater intensity every hour, and, we being unable to resist them any longer than the period usually observed, they overpower us and we fall asleep. While sleeping, the life waves adjust themselves to the molecules of the body; and when the equilibrium is complete we again wake to continue the contest with life. If this periodical adjustment did not occur, the life current would destroy us. Any derangement of the body that tends to inhibit this adjustment is a cause of sleeplessness, and perhaps death. Finally, death of the body is due to the inequality of the contest with the life force; it at last overcomes us, and we are compelled to sink into the grave. Disease, the common property of the human race, only reduces the power of the body to adjust and resist. Children, say the Adepts, sleep more than adults, and need earlier repose, because the bodily machine, being young and tender, is easily overcome by life and made to sleep.

Of course, in so short an article, I cannot elaborate this theory; but, although not probably acceptable now to Science, it will be one day accepted as true. As it is beginning to be thought that electricity is all-pervading, so, perhaps, ere long it will be agreed that life is universal even in what we are used to calling dead matter.

As, however, it is plain to any observant mind that there seems to be more or less intelligence in the operations of this life energy, we naturally approach another interesting Theosophical doctrine as to the beings and hierarchies directing this energy.


Chapter 6

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