Copyright © 2011 by Theosophical University Press
One of the main tenets of the Esoteric Tradition is that the universe is a sevenfold (or tenfold) organism: that is, a living entity, of which the various component parts are also beings, some more and some less intelligent and conscious than others, the relative fullness of such consciousness and intelligence diminishing with each step "downwards" on the cosmic ladder of life. The commonest form in which this doctrine is stated is that of heavens and hells: spheres of recompense for right living, and spheres of purgatorial punishment for wrong living. These realms of felicity or suffering were never located by the most ancient literatures in any part of the material world, but were invariably stated to be in invisible or ethereal domains of the universe.
The badly exoteric and monastic ideas that hell is situated at the center of the earth, and that heaven is located in the upper atmosphere, were beautifully set forth by Dante in his Divina Commedia — a distorted echoing of misunderstood Greek and Roman mythological stories about Olympus and Tartarus. Even such exoteric ideas invariably carried the usually unstated corollary that these realms were more ethereal than our gross earth; furthermore, these ideas were the latest despairing effort of man's mystical instincts to weave a structure of place and time where the souls of men would finally go when their life on earth had run its course.
Similar to the foregoing were the later notions of some Christian theologians or half-baked mystics that hell was in the sun or on the arid surface of the moon, or in some other out-of-the-way place; or again, heaven was located beyond the clouds, in some invisible far-distant region of the ethery blue. But all these quasi-physical localities for heaven and hell were of extremely late origin; and when the earliest teachings of invisible realms had passed out of the memory of the West, then came the new and mentally rejuvenating influence of European scientific research, showing that there was no real reason to locate either hell or heaven in any portion of the physical universe.
The science of anthropology, in its studies of the respective mythologies of the races of men, has proved that the human mind is far more prone to elaborate systems of thought dealing with unseen worlds, which are both the origin and final bourne of human souls, than it is to find respective places of purgation or of reward in districts of our physical globe — as did the very exoteric mythology of Greece and Rome, and the medieval mythology of Christendom, the faithful copyist of the former.
Now when a theosophist speaks of invisible worlds, he does not mean worlds which are merely invisible in the sense of not being seen. He means worlds which are the background and cosmic foundation of the visible universe, the causal realms, the roots of things. When the Spiritist speaks of his "summerland," or the Christian of his "heaven" and "hell," both have some fleeting intuition that there is a truth back of what they say, that there does exist something behind the physical veil. That feeling is undoubtedly correct. But it is more than some thing; it is a vast universe, an organic cosmos of all-varied kinds of worlds and planes and spheres, interlocked, interrelated, interworking, interconnected, and inter-living.
What is this visible physical world of ours? What is our earth composed of, and how does it keep its place and composite movements in space? How, indeed, does it hang poised safely in the so-called void? How do the other planets and the sun find position in the vast realms of infinitude? What are the stars, the nebulae, the comets, and all the other bodies that are scattered apparently at random in space? Is there nothing but the visible celestial bodies — and back of them, around them and within them, is there nothing but nothingness?
One is reminded of the early Christian theological idea that the Lord God created the heavens and the earth out of "nothing." Nothing is nothing, and from nothing nothing can come, because it is nothing. It is a word, a fantasy, somewhat after the fashion of the fantasy of the imagination when we speak of a flat sphere or a triangle having four sides. These are words without sense and therefore nonsense. One is driven to infer that the theological pre-cosmic "nothing" must have contained at least the infinitely substantial body of the divine imagination, or thought plus will. Even the most orthodox and exoteric of theologians would hardly asseverate that the divine will and the divine imagination and the divine creative power were nothing!
We see just here that even the Christian scheme, based on half-forgotten and misunderstood pagan philosophy, becomes singularly akin with the teaching of all philosophy and religion to the effect that in the last analysis, and running back to primal manvantaric origins, the universe and all its bewildering web of manifested being was woven out of the substance of the divine essence itself. This conclusion may be extremely unwelcome to the later school of Christian exegetes; but if their biblical, theological scheme means anything, and is to be saved from the trash-heap, it will have to acknowledge its lofty origin. For it was the universal consensus of all antiquity that there is an invisible background, a vast cosmical web of beings and things which, in their aggregate and in conjunction with the realms in which they live, form the causal realms of all the physical worlds which are scattered over the spaces of Space: the invisible, substantial structure of the cosmos in which these visible worlds find lodgment and position, and from which they derive all the forces, substances, and causal laws of being which make them what they are.
All manifested spheres or worlds of a material or quasi-material character are, strictly speaking, called hells. This is because the existence of self-conscious beings in worlds of matter is so low, by comparison with superior spheres. It is true enough that these "descents" and "ascents" are all involved in the aeons-long evolutionary pilgrimage that the peregrinating monads have to undergo in order to gain full self-conscious experience in every one of the manifold planes of cosmic life. Nevertheless, such "descent" into the more material spheres is properly considered to be a "fall"; and hence such lower spheres are technically hells.
Many of the ancient scriptures describe some of these hells as quite the reverse of what the average Christian of medieval times regarded as the theological Hell of his religious guides. Some of the hells in the Brahmanical or Buddhistic scriptures are, judging by the mystical descriptions of them, quite pleasant places!
The general name for the vast multitudes of beings, semi-conscious, conscious, and self-conscious, inhabiting the worlds superior in ethereality or spirituality to earth-life, is devas — to employ a name commonly used in Hindu writings. This term is given, therefore, to those classes of self-conscious beings who make the "descent" into the lower spheres for the purpose of gaining experience. Such a family is the human family which, strictly speaking, is a hierarchy of devas. Yet the human family is not the only hierarchy of devas.
The importance of this observation will be felt by students of ancient lore who are acquainted with the usage of the word "deva." For instance, when it is stated in Buddhist and Brahmanical literature that there are four general divisions of devas, living in spheres superior to that of earth, the reference is to the four cosmic planes just above the plane on which our planet is, and therefore has direct and specific reference to the six globes of our earth's planetary chain superior to this globe. This fact alone sheds a brilliant meaning upon the inner significance of much in the ancient Hindu scriptures, such as for example, where the devas are shown under certain conditions to be in more or less close association with the human sub-hierarchy or family.
This physical universe is but the shell, the outer appearance and manifestation of inner and causal realities; within the shell are the forces that govern it. The inner worlds are its roots, striking deep into the inner infinitude, which roots collectively are that endless path of which all the world teachers have spoken, and which, if followed faithfully, leads man with an ever-expanding consciousness direct to the heart of the universe — a heart which has neither location nor dimension, neither position nor clearly defined material definition, because it is Infinitude itself.
True seers with the "inner eye" awakened in them (in the East mystically called the "Eye of Siva") have direct knowledge at will of these spheres outside of our own hierarchy, because they can throw themselves into vibrational intercommunication with these higher energies and powers; and thus for the time being self-consciously live in those inner planes and then and there gain knowledge of those realms at first hand. Yet this "opened eye," this spiritual faculty of inner vision, all men can obtain by living the life, and, last but not least, by training under a proper teacher. Their own first move in the direction of such communion is for them by willing and doing to set their own feet upon the pathway.
Thus it is that nature in her realms both inner and outer is experienced by the only trustworthy testing-stone in human life — the consciousness of the individual. The inner consciousness comes into direct relation, without interfering secondaries, with the heart of the universe, and realization of truth then comes to the sincere aspirant because he identifies himself with the inner workings of the universe.
There is no other method of coming into touch with and of understanding the inner worlds than by making one's own consciousness enter into union of substance therewith; and one of the first lessons taught to the aspirant is that the only way really to understand a being or thing is to become, temporarily at least, the being or thing itself. There is far more in this simple statement than appears on the surface, because founded upon it are all the rites and functions of genuine initiation. It is not possible for a man to understand love or to feel sympathy unless for the time being his own essence becomes love or sympathy itself. Standing merely apart, and examining such functions of the human constitution, immediately creates a fatal duality of observer and observed, of subject and object, thus setting up a barrier of distinction. It is only by loving that one understands love; it is only by becoming sympathetic that one understands and comprehends sympathy; otherwise one merely talks about or speculates upon what love and sympathy are in themselves.
When one studies the form, the beauty or the fragrance of some lovely flower, one senses enjoyment and a certain elevation of thought and feeling; but we find ourselves different from the flower because we are the observer and the flower is the observed; whereas if we can cast our consciousness into the flower itself and temporarily become it, we can understand all that the flower means to itself and in itself.
These thoughts contain the gist and substance of a great truth. Even the greatest adept cannot enter into and fully understand the nature and secrets of the invisible worlds unless he throws his percipient consciousness into spiritual and psychic oneness with them. When this is done, for the time being he is consciously an integral portion of these interior worlds, and thus has most intimate knowledge of their nature, their respective characteristics, and different energies and qualities.
It is only by sympathetically becoming one with the subject or object of study that one can translate into human thought for others what one experiences. It is thus that the great geniuses of the world have enriched and clarified human life with what they have brought to their fellowmen. When one reads the mystical and theological poetry of ancient lore, for instance, in both Celtic and Scandinavian mythology, one is keenly cognizant of the truth of all this as the seer or bard sings of hearing the growing of the grass or the singing of the celestial bodies in their orbits, or of understanding the language of the bee or the voices of the wind.
It is possible to pass self-consciously from one universe or hierarchical range of being into some other hierarchical sphere. As a matter of fact, it is one of the commonest human experiences, so ordinary that the experiences enter our consciousness as mere routine transitions of thought, and we do not see the forest in its beauty because of the trees. Everyone who sleeps enters into another plane or realm of consciousness. This is meant to be considered literally, not to be taken merely as suggesting a pictorial variation of the thoughts of the day just closed. Change the rates of vibration of any particular state and we then enter into different realms of the universe, higher or lower than our own as the case may be. Everyone who changes the emotional vibration of hatred to love, and does so at the command of his will, is exercising a part of his internal constitution which some day, when trained more fully along the same line, will enable him to pass behind the supposedly thick veil of appearances, because in so exercising his power he will have cultivated the proper faculty and its coordinate organ for doing so. Everyone who successfully resists temptation to do wrong, to be less than he is, is exercising the faculty within him which one day will enable him to pass self-consciously behind the veil in the dread tests of initiation.
As our senses tell us of but a small part of the scale of forces, of the gamut of universal energies and substances that infill and that verily are the universe, there must obviously exist other worlds and spheres which are invisible to our sight, intangible to our touch, and that we can cognize only imperfectly through the delicate apparatus of the mind — because we have not yet trained our mind to become at one in sympathetic vibrational union with what it investigates. Our physical sense-apparatus is but a channel through which we gain knowledge of the physical world alone. It is the thinking entity within, the mind, the soul, the consciousness — possessing senses far finer and more subtle than those of our gross physical body — which is the Thinker and the Knower. No man has yet tested the vast powers of this psychospiritual receiver — what it can do and know and what it can gain by looking within. Indeed, our five senses actually distract our attention, outwards into the vast confusing welter of phenomenal things, instead of turning it into the channels to wisdom and knowledge — the causal realms within, whether of the universe or of our own constitution.
Nor have we any adequate control over our thoughts. They run helter-skelter through our brains like the horde of elementals that they are, playing havoc often even with our morals. We know little indeed of our inner faculties — spiritual, intellectual, psychical — and of the sense-apparatus corresponding to each category thereof which in every case is far higher and more subtle than is the physical. Were these inner senses more fully developed, one would then be cognizant in degree of the invisible worlds and their inhabitants and have conscious intercourse with them — and in the higher realms actually be able to confabulate with the gods. These remarks have no reference whatsoever to intercourse with spooks or so-called spirits of dead men.
The greatest minds in modern science are approaching a larger conception of Universal Life and man's relations therewith. They are saying some amazing things in contrast with the scientific ideas of even fifteen years ago. The Manchester Guardian recently published an article entitled "New Vision of the Universe"  from which we quote:
Why should all the matter in the universe have divided itself up into millions of fairly uniformly sized and distributed systems of stars and gas and dust? . . .
Where did the primeval cloud come from? Possibly from the fifth dimension! Sir J. H. Jeans considers that the difficulty of explaining the shape of the spiral arms in the great nebulae [galaxies] may only be solved by the discovery that the centers of such nebulae are taps through which matter pours from some other universe into ours. . . .
If this should be true, what of the fifth dimension? What is the hyper-universe of the fifth dimension like? What sort of entities populate it? Where did the fifth dimension itself come from?
Here we have a modern scientific writer speaking along lines that might have been followed by an ancient seer. He apparently draws the conclusion that it is from these other "dimensions" that there pours into our physical universe matter, which means energy, from a universe beyond our own — a teaching of the archaic theosophy of prehistoric times, from which the later religions and philosophies drew their own substantial contents. This old teaching, unconsciously imbodied by Jeans in the deduction which he has drawn from his scientific studies, is a true and intuitional statement of occult wisdom to the effect that at the heart of the nebulae or galaxies, which bestrew the spaces of Space, there exist what he called "singular points" or centers from and through which matter streams into our own physical universe, this stream of substantial energy coming to us from a "fifth dimension." To give his own words from Astronomy and Cosmogony these centers are points
at which matter is poured into our universe from some other, and entirely extraneous, spatial dimension, so that, to a denizen of our universe, they appear as points at which matter is being continually created. — p. 352
The usage of the word dimension is inadequate, because it is inexact. Dimension is a term of measurement. But, after all, what does it matter, if the essential idea is there? This dimension he calls fifth because, following the lead of Dr. Albert Einstein, the fourth dimension is time apparently. These dimensions we would prefer to call worlds, spheres or planes, the causal background of all the universe we see. Our own higher human principles live in these invisible realms, in these miscalled "other dimensions"; hence, we are as much at home there, as our physical bodies are at home here on earth.
For the universe is one vast organism, of which everything in it is an inseparable because inherent and component part; therefore man has in himself everything that the universe has, because he is an inseparable portion of the cosmic whole. Further, because he is an inseparable part of the universe, every energy, every substance, every form of consciousness in the infinitudes of boundless Space, is in him, latent or active. Therefore he can know by following the path leading ever more within himself, toward his essential self, for in this way is knowledge of reality obtained by him at first hand. Upon this fact is based all the cycles of initiation and the vast wisdom and knowledge that are gained therein.
The old Hermetic teaching of the Alexandrian Greeks, transmitted by them from still older sources, is expressed in their well-known aphorism: "What is below is the same as what is above; what is above is the same as what is below." This is one of the foundation doctrines of the ancient wisdom-religion, upon which is based the law of analogy: that the great is mirrored in the minute, in the infinitesimal; and likewise, the infinitesimal reflects the cosmic. Why? Because the universe is one vast organism, and one Law runs through all; therefore what is active or latent in one sphere must be active or latent in all, making due allowance for differing degrees of ethereality or materiality of the substances of these respective worlds. These inner worlds so control the outer, that all that happens on the physical plane is the resultant of the inner forces, substances and powers, expressing themselves outwardly. A man's faculties work through his physical body in exactly the same manner; for man in the small is a copy of what the universe is in the great.
Earthquakes, tidal waves, the belching volcanoes, the aurorae borealis and australis, wind, hail, and electrical storms; the precession and recession of glacial periods; diseases endemic, epidemic, and pandemic; the quiet growing of the grass in the fields or the blossoming of the flowers; the development of a microscopic cell into a six-foot human being; the vast and titanic forces working in the bosom and on the surface of our sun, and the periodic pathways followed with unvarying precision by the planets — all are examples of how these inner causal forces work, the impelling forces locked up in the inner worlds self-expressing themselves outwards. In fact, all these phenomena are but the effects in our outer physical spheres of what is taking place in the inner invisible realms. Things are happening there within and when the points of union or contact are sufficiently near us, then our physical sphere feels the effect in the bewildering mass of phenomena which nature produces.
The idea of some scientists that luck or chance prevails throughout the universe may perhaps be due to the old materialistic concept of "physical determinism," which is substantially the idea that there is nothing in the universe except unimpulsed, unensouled, vitally-unguided matter, moving in haphazard fashion toward unknowable or unknown ends. These scientists have revolted against the illogic of this conception, and have sought to find a refuge in purely mathematical conceptions where their unvoiced hunger for law and regularity is everywhere manifest, but where there is sufficient vagueness of causative background to admit the intrusion of a cosmic governing intelligence. Yet they fail to see that the idea of luck or chance is itself but a falling back into the same old materialistic physical determinism under a different form.
The changing views of scientific men brought about by the discovery of new natural facts signifies that there is a flux in scientific thought, of which no man has yet given us the end. Doubtless many ideas which have been broadcast as being scientific, and subsequently abandoned for newer ideas, may be recalled and remodeled to fit what the future has in store. Particularly is this a possibility in connection with what it is now popular to call "indeterminism," which in some ways is as baldly materialistic as was the old physical determinism now going into the discard, and which again seems to be but the same old physical determinism in a new form. For it should be obvious that if indeterminism is to be considered as being mere fortuity or chance or haphazard action, this cannot exist in a universe which these same scientists so often proclaim to be the work of "a cosmic mathematician" — of a cosmic intelligence. Intelligence and chance will as little mix as would cosmic order, implying law and determined action on the one hand, and irresponsible fortuity, implying cosmic disorder on the other hand.
The theosophist is no fatalist. The universe and all in it is the result of an inherent chain of causation stretching from the infinity of the past into the infinity of the future. Everything in the universe is a consequence of previous causes engendering present effects — proof of the action or operation of countless wills and intelligences in the universe. Even as Spinoza, a pantheist, reechoed the teaching of the Upanishads that the universe is but a manifestation or a reflection of the consciousness of the cosmic Divinity, just so does the Esoteric Tradition derive all that is from this primal, incomprehensible divine source, from which all sprang and into which all is journeying back; and therefore that the cosmos and all in it is built on consciousness-substance as its essence. It cannot be supposed that between this invisible divine source and our physical universe there are no intermediate grades of interacting links, these links being verily the vast ranges of invisible worlds or spheres, which are the causal factors in cosmic manifestation.
Man, in consequence of his being one minor hierarchy emanating from the same divine source, possesses his proportion of intelligence and will power which are inherent parts of his interior constitution. Collectively, mankind is one of the numberless hosts of the hierarchical aggregates of intelligences and wills infilling the universe, each such hierarchy living on and in its own world, invisible or visible to us. Man thus can carve his destiny as he will, because he has in him the same factors which inspirit and govern the universe. Universal laws surround him, with which he is inescapably solidary because he is a portion thereof; and out of the universe nothing may go and into it nothing may come from outside because there is no outside. And because he contains all that the universe contains, he has possibilities of understanding everything in the universe — the greatest problems of cosmic nature may find their solution in him if he penetrate deeply enough into the invisible realms of his own constitution.
As man is both visible and invisible in his nature, as he has body, mind, and spirit — equally so must the universe be visible and invisible; for the part cannot contain more than the whole of which it is an integral portion. Our globe, sun, planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies; the comets, atoms, and electrons — all are governed after the same cosmic plan by energies which, because they are substantial, have their own inner planes, and express themselves on our physical plane as they work down toward it and through it. These energies originate in, and indeed in the last analysis are, those invisible worlds.
Every being, no matter how small or great, is an evolving life. As every one of these visible bodies in the universe is but an aggregate of such lives, we have a clue to the real meaning of the ancient philosophers who spoke of the suns and stars as living entities, alive and intelligent, making and unmaking karma. They are what the ancient Greeks called "ensouled entities," zoa, from which comes the word "zodiac," meaning the circle of the "living ones"; and which the Latin philosophers called animals — a word used with the original meaning of animate entities, and not in the restricted meaning of beasts.
Some of the early Christian Fathers taught exactly the same thing: that the suns and stars and planets were "living beings." Such is the explicit teaching of the great Greek theologian Origen:
Not only may the stars be subject to sin, but they are actually not free from the contagion of it; . . .
And as we notice that the stars move with such order and regularity that these movements never at any time seem to be subject to derangement, would it not be the highth of stupidity to say that so consistent and orderly an observing of method and plan could be carried out or accomplished by beings without reason. . . . Yet as the stars are living and rational beings, unquestionably there will appear among them both advance and retrogression. — First Principles, Bk. I, ch. vii, sec. 2-3
Again in his tract Against Celsus:
As we are persuaded that the sun himself and the moon and the stars also pray to the supreme deity through his Only-begotten Son, we think it improper to pray to those beings who themselves offer up prayers. — Bk. V, ch. xi
For we sing hymns to the Most High only and to his Only-begotten who is the logos and also God; we praise God and his Only-begotten, as also do the sun, the moon, the stars, and all the multitude of the heavenly host. — Bk VIII, ch. lxvii
Furthermore, the early Christian view about the innate vitality working through the celestial bodies, as vehicles of the Cosmic Life, may be found in the writings of the Latin Father Jerome, who here repeats Origen's teachings:
Respecting the heavenly bodies, we should notice that the soul of the sun, or whatever else it ought to be called, did not begin to exist when the world was created, but before that it entered into that shining and luminous body. We should hold similar views regarding the moon and the stars. — Epistles, Letter to Avitus
It is also interesting to note that despite the condemnation of the views of Origen and his school by the Constantinopolitan councils of the sixth century, those views prevailed more or less openly throughout the Christian community, and echoes of them continued even into the Middle Ages. The ecclesiastical writers of the Dark and Medieval periods have many passages with reference to the sun and the stars, which, historically speaking, are understandable only on the supposition that they are more or less reflections of the views of Origen and his school, which in themselves were distorted reproductions from pagan teachings. For all such doctrines were already largely degenerate and misunderstood in the time when Origen and his School enunciated them to the Christian community, and were, furthermore, more or less distorted from their original pagan meaning by the theological mental bias of the Christians who later taught them.
It is to the ancients themselves that we must turn if we wish to gain a more definite outline of the original thought. It is from Plato in especial, and from Pythagoras and his school, that are derived these doctrines which certain ones of the Christian Fathers took over and modified for their own patristic purposes. The archaic teaching was not that the stars and other shining celestial bodies were in their physical forms angels or archangels, but that each one was the dwelling or channel of expression of some "angelic" entity behind it. Each celestial body, whether it be nebula, comet, star, or hard and rocky planet like our own earth-sphere, is a focus or psychoelectric lens, through which pour the energies and powers and substances passing into it from invisible spheres.
Bearing this teaching in mind, it will be at once seen that the earth, as the mother and producer of the animate beings which draw their life from her, is properly considered an "animal," and is therefore an animate and ensouled organism. The earth even has a mysterious principle of instinct or quasi-thinking principle. It has also its vital actions and reactions, which manifest as electromagnetic phenomena — actually arising out of the earth's jiva — electrical and magnetic storms, earthquakes, and so forth. Even as the human being in his lower principles is an "animal" or animate entity, just so is the earth in its lower principles an animate being. Each has its own evolutionary progress, although the earth and its physical children are closely linked together. As man came into being from a microscopic human seed, so did the earth or in fact any world come into being from a cosmic seed. Just as man is born, so, making the necessary changes of circumstance and time, is a world born. Both are born from points or centers of energy; and these energy-points are always imbodied in a more-or-less large aggregate of atomic substances.
Thus came man forth. Thus came the earth forth. Thus came the solar system forth. Thus came the galaxy forth. Thus came a billion galaxies forth. And then when the great change of life that men call death comes, man or world or system of worlds is withdrawn into the invisible spheres for rest and peace, and comes out again and begins a new evolutionary course on a somewhat higher scale or plane.
Take a planet as an instance in point. Out of the invisible spheres, in its progress downwards into matter, comes the life-center or seed or energy-point, collecting unto itself, as it grossens and becomes more and more material, life-atoms which are ready and waiting. This evolving seed or energy-point continues its journey through the various inner and invisible spheres earthwards, or rather matterwards, until it appears in the higher material part of our own world system as a nebula, a wisp of faint light that we see in the midnight skies. It then passes through various stages in the grossening process, one such transitory phase being that of a comet; and it finally becomes a planet in a highly ethereal state. The process of materialization continues until it reaches such a stage as that of the planet Saturn, for instance — for Saturn is less dense than even water is on our earth. Such a planet is in one of its earliest phases as a planetary sphere, and as it follows the evolution of its life-course, it will grow still more dense until it becomes finally a rocky, solid globe like our own Mother Earth.
The birth of worlds has always been a riddle which scientific research and discovery have not yet fully solved; and consequently there are a number of theories about it. One such planetary hypotheses is the theory of Professor Moulton and Professor Chamberlin, set forth by them in 1929. In a pamphlet entitled The Planetesimal Hypothesis, they describe their theory of the birth of planets from the sun at some remote period of the past, caused by the disruptive effect of the approach of another sun or star near to our sun, at that time supposed to be without planetary children or companions, thus arousing enormous tides on the surface of the sun leading to vast masses of the solar substance being torn from the solar body; and the collecting of the solar pieces thus wrenched from the sun by means of the action of gravity, these aggregates of the solar pieces forming the beginning of the respective planets.
This is not the teaching of the Esoteric Philosophy, which teaches that our physical world, including stars, planets, etc., is but the outer garment or veil of an inner, vital, intelligent aggregate of causes, which in its collectivity form or rather are the Cosmic Life. This Cosmic Life is not a person, not an individualized entity. It is far, far beyond any such merely human conception, because It is boundless, beginningless and endless, coextensive with infinity in magnitude, coextensive with eternity in endless duration. The Cosmic Life is in very truth the ineffable reality behind all that is. Spirit and matter are but two manifestations of this mystery, this universal life-consciousness-substance. Sometimes it is called abstract Space — the essential and also instrumental cause of both spirit and matter, alias energy and substance.
Space itself, therefore, is Reality, the underlying noumenon or ever-enduring and boundless, substantial causation, which in its multimyriad forms or activities shows itself as the Cosmic Life, expressing itself over the face of the Boundless as eternal motion combined with consciousness and intelligence, and through manifestation as unceasing cosmic motion directed by cosmic consciousness and will.
Shall one then call it God or a god? Emphatically No, because there are many universes; therefore are there many "spaces" with a background of an incomprehensible greater Space, without limiting magnitude, inclosing all. Our own home-universe is only one among literally innumerable similar universes scattered over the fields of boundless Space, each such universe vitalized and intelligently inspired by the boundless Cosmic Life. The world universal, space universal, is full of gods, "sparks of eternity," links in an endless causative chain of cosmic intelligences that live and move and have their being in the vast spaces of infinitude, precisely as we do in our own home-universe on our own smaller scale.
While some of the invisible worlds are of substances and energies much more ethereal than those which animate and structurally compose the visible words, there are likewise worlds much more material and gross than ours. Both are invisible and intangible to us because our physical senses do not respond to the vibrational rates that these higher and lower worlds possess. Indeed, they respond only to one small range of even the physical universe, the mother of our senses. It is this restriction of the powers of our sense-apparatus which prevents us from tuning in with these other and widely-differing vibrational rates.
Scientific research states that radiation alone covers a gamut of vibrating substances comprising some seventy octaves, ranging from the most penetrating and hardest rays known as yet, first named by Dr. Millikan "cosmic rays," through octaves of less amplitude and vibrational degree such as x-rays, ordinary light, heat, to that form of radiation used in radio work. Of this entire range of seventy octaves, our eyes perceive barely one octave. Thus, amazing as is the ability of our physical optics to translate the radiation which we call light to the brain, it is after all but one part in seventy which they tell us something about — and that something itself is imperfect information. Small wonder it is that H. P. Blavatsky wrote in her Secret Doctrine that our physical universe is but concreted or crystallized "light" — almost exactly what twentieth century science calls radiation.
If light, then, is the substantial basis of our physical universe, how about the worlds of intense activity suggested to us by the right- and left-hand ranges of the radiation which we cannot cognize by our senses, but of which the industry of modern scientific workers is at present apprising us? As a matter of fact, the Esoteric Tradition would call this gamut of seventy octaves but a larger portion of that particular field of cosmical activity and substance comprised in the lower ranges of the astral light; and, further, instead of there being some seventy octaves of radiation or vibrational activity in matter, there are at least one hundred whose particular range is the physical and astral worlds. Above and beyond these, in point of greater ethereality, lie literally unimaginable fields of cosmic activity, each field or plane possessing its own set of substances and forces. There are worlds within worlds, substances more ethereal existing within substances more gross, the former being the causal noumena of the latter; and thus do we see the reason for the ancient saying that the visible, tangible, so-called physical world is but the veil or garment covering the invisible and intangible.
Consciousness, however it may express itself, is the origin of all the forms of cosmic force. As all these inner and invisible worlds exist by and through force in its dual form of vital movement and substantial basis, and as these inner worlds are in fact nothing but forms of force or energy expressing itself in countless manners, the inescapable deduction is that these invisible worlds are filled with hosts of conscious and self-expressing entities, operating in their own respective spheres even as we are — all of which are under the sway of the general cosmic laws of evolutionary development.
Just as our physical world has inhabitants of various classes with senses evolved to respond to the vibrational rates of that part of the gamut of life belonging to the physical plane, so do these higher (and lower) worlds have their own particular denizens, with senses and minds built to respond to the vibrational rates of the worlds in which they are. Furthermore, just as man knows dimly of other planes because of his more delicate psychical and mental faculties, just so is it with the inhabitants of these invisible worlds: progressive growth in faculty and sense organs brings all entities slowly into communication with and knowledge of other planes of action and consciousness. To the inhabitants of any of these higher or lower worlds, their own matter is as real to them as is ours to us — in truth, as unreal when we understand how temporary and unreal our physical matter is. For matter in the higher worlds is force or forces to us; and our matter is force — and forces — to the worlds below our own.
What is called objective existence is that part of the boundless whole which on any one plane is cognized by the beings whose consciousness at the time functions there; but the objective is subjective to beings whose consciousness contemporaneously functions on other planes or worlds. Obviously, therefore, our entire physical universe is as subjective — therefore as invisible and intangible — to beings whose consciousness at this time is functioning on other planes, as these inner worlds are subjective to us. Moreover, these other worlds and planes interpenetrate our world, we moving through them and they moving through us, as unperceived by us as their inhabitants are unconscious of us and of our own sphere.
There is a striking passage by H. P. Blavatsky on this subject:
the Occultist does not locate these spheres either outside or inside our Earth, as the theologians and the poets do; for their location is nowhere in the space known to, and conceived by, the profane. They are, as it were, blended with our world — interpenetrating it and interpenetrated by it. There are millions and millions of worlds and firmaments visible to us; there [are] still greater numbers beyond those visible to the telescopes, and many of the latter kind do not belong to our objective sphere of existence. Although as invisible as if they were millions of miles beyond our solar system, they are yet with us, near us, within our own world, as objective and material to their respective inhabitants as ours is to us. . . . each is entirely under its own special laws and conditions, having no direct relation to our sphere. The inhabitants of these, as already said, may be, for all we know, or feel, passing through and around us as if through empty space, their very habitations and countries being interblended with ours, though not disturbing our vision, because we have not yet the faculties necessary for discerning them. . . .
. . . such invisible worlds do exist. Inhabited as thickly as our own is, they are scattered throughout apparent Space in immense number; some far more material than our own world, others gradually etherealizing until they become formless and are as "Breaths." That our physical eye does not see them, is no reason to disbelieve in them; physicists can see neither their ether, atoms, nor "modes of motion," or Forces. Yet they accept and teach them. . . .
But, if we can conceive of a world composed (for our senses) of matter still more attenuated than the tail of a comet, hence of inhabitants in it who are as ethereal, in proportion to their globe, as we are in comparison with our rocky, hard-crusted earth, no wonder if we do not perceive them, nor sense their presence or even existence. — The Secret Doctrine 1:605-7
How indeed could we sense their presence as long as we have no senses evolved to perceive these invisible worlds and their inhabitants? Yet we have our more subtle and interior sense organs which are the real, inner man: that part of our constitution which is linked to the inner and higher parts of the cosmos, even as our physical body is similarly connected with this physical world.
The American scientist, M. Luckiesh, echoes H. P. Blavatsky's teaching, though it is probable that he was unconscious of the fact. After discussing the imperfections of our physical senses, he said:
This emphasizes the extreme limitations of our human senses in appraising all that may exist in the universe about us. With our mere human senses we may be living in a world within a world. Anything is possible beyond our experiences. Our imagination could conjure up another world coincident with our "human" world, but unseen, unfelt, and unknown to us. Although we know a great deal of the physical world in which we live, beyond the veil unpenetrated by our senses may be other worlds coincident. — Foundations of the Universe, p. 71
In The Architecture of the Universe, Professor W. F. G. Swann writes of the mathematical possibility of different universes, virtually limitless in number, which could occupy the same space, apparently interpenetrating, but which could be, each one, distinct from all the others, so that beings inhabiting any one such universe would not be cognizant of other universes and their respective inhabitants. This distinction of universe from universe, however, in no wise destroys the possibility that there are relations of a mathematical and perhaps other kind between such mathematically differing universes. Therefore, due to these interconnecting or related lines of union, beings in any one universe might find it possible not merely to become conscious of the existence of universes other than their own, but even to pass — in some mathematical manner? — into other universes and thus become cognizant of the respective denizens thereof.
These higher and lower worlds are as incomprehensibly numerous as are the atoms which compose physical matter. For instance, the number of atoms that form a small grape is so incomputably immense that they must be reckoned in sextillions of sextillions; and the higher and lower worlds of the spaces of Space are at least equally numerous, for they are but the "atoms" of the Universe on the scale of cosmic magnitude; and in the other direction, to human vision, that equally unimaginable Universe on the scale of infinitesimal magnitudes.
Now such Universe on the cosmic scale is itself built of minor universes, varying among themselves, yet each one faithfully copying its incomprehensibly great parent; and each one being an organic unit is a cosmic molecule formed of incomprehensibly numerous hosts of cosmic "atomic" entities, cosmic atoms. These last are the various suns and their planetary systems scattered over the wide fields of space. Each such celestial body, whether sun or planet, nebula or comet, as an organic entity is likewise composed of hosts of beings smaller than they. Our earth, for instance, is compounded of atoms which in their turn are built of still more minute particles or entities called protons and electrons, positrons and neutrons, etc., and these again are also composite, hence built of infinitesimals still more minute.
The interpenetration of the vast hosts of worlds, both great and small, higher and lower, is the root idea in the archaic theosophical teaching of cosmic hierarchies, each such hierarchy having its own summit and base, its own highest and lowest planes. Thus the highest of any particular hierarchy grades off into the lowest of the next superior hierarchy; while its lowest plane grades off into the highest plane of the hierarchy just below it on the downward arc of descent; each hierarchy thus is interpenetrated by forces and vibrations with every other similarly connected hierarchy.
Every point of space, therefore, is the abode of lives, and on many planes to boot; for these hierarchies are densely populated with all kinds of living entities in all grades of evolution; and every unit of these countless hosts of lives is an evolving entity on its way toward ever larger degrees of evolutionary perfection.
H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being — the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. The law of Analogy is the first key to the world-problem, and these links have to be studied co-ordinately in their occult relations to each other. — The Secret Doctrine 1:604
Imbodied consciousnesses (note the plural) exist in a practically infinite gradation of degrees of evolution — a ladder of life stretching endlessly in either direction and running through the vast hierarchical system of the galaxy. There are, therefore, no limits except a hierarchical one, and such hierarchical limitation is but spatial and not actual. But this ladder of life is marked at certain intervals by landing-places, stages, the different "planes of being," otherwise the different spheres of cosmic consciousness — expressing itself in the multimyriad degrees of consciousness.
It is not our earth, this speck of cosmic dust, which populates with its dead the invisible worlds. We humans are not exceptions nor favorites in eternity and in the boundless fields of Infinitude. The inhabitants of these other worlds belong to those other higher (or lower) worlds of spheres, just as we belong to our physical world because for the time being we live in bodies arising out of the substances and energies of it.
Our essential self, the Monad, however, does not belong to this earth. It takes up bodies and uses them for a while, then casts them aside and passes on; but itself tastes never of death, for its very nature is life, being an integral part of the Cosmic Life as much as an atom is an integral part of dense matter. The dead bodies that the monad leaves behind are merely composite, not integral entities; and being composite, of necessity they must wear out and disintegrate into their respective elements. The body lives because of the monadic life which fills it; and when that life is withdrawn because of the force which brought about the cohesion of its particles is withdrawn, then the body of necessity decays. Bodies are dreams, illusion — because temporary, transient, and in themselves are merely fluid composites held together during any incarnated life of the monad by the monad's psychomagnetic energy.
The inhabitants of this earth have come here ages and ages ago; and in the aeons of the far distant future, we shall pass out of this physical world again into the inner realms, doing so collectively as the entire evolving human host. When that time comes, we shall then be as gods. Man can and will in due course of distant time reach heights of wisdom and knowledge utterly beyond present human understanding.