The Theosophical Forum – June 1937

NATURE STUDIES: III — H. Percy Leonard

THE LIVING UNIVERSE

The universe as it appears to the astronomer is a desolate waste. Dotted about, at points inconceivably remote, there are supposed to be planets so fortunately placed in respect to their suns that life, such as we know it, may be possible. But of such solar systems we are told that there is probably only one in a hundred thousand where this is at all likely to be the case, and either the planet is so near its sun that its temperature would be too high, or so distant, and therefore cold, as to render all life on its surface impossible.

In pleasant contrast to these untenanted planets and uninhabited stretches of ether, Theosophy presents us with the picture of a universe which not only teems with living creatures at every point, but whose very substance is composed of lives. What appear as the empty spaces between one planet and another are only apparently so, and that, merely because our eyes are so very limited in their range that we can see only those inhabitants which are of a degree of density equal to our own. Life is pulsing everywhere, and there is no unappropriated life, for wherever found, it is always flowing in a living being, and wherever there is consciousness there is always some entity who feels it as "I."

It is not only a living universe, it is a loving universe as well, whose members, all at varying degrees of development, are united each to each by the binding force of universal love. There are wills in conflict, there is selfish competition, but these things are inevitable in a universe where growth and evolution are continually at work.

Before we can renounce the separated self and live for purposes beyond the limited bounds of the personality, we have first to acquire self-consciousness, and in order to do this the illusion of a separated life has to be developed in a body which gives rise to the notion of "I" as contrasted with an environment which is not "I." The little focal, egocentric point competes with others of its kind, and is actually carrying out the cosmic program, at this stage of the proceedings, in trying to aggrandize and to defend against all comers its seemingly separated granule of selfhood. But once acquired, the conception of a personal ego has to be expanded, until it blends in perfect solidarity with those of all other selves of the group to which it is specially related.

Even the centripetal quality of the personal self is seen to be necessary to the stability of the whole, and when equilibrized by love it helps to keep the great wheel perpetually revolving. The mysterious force which thrills and pulses through all living things is entirely impartial and has no favorites. The clove and the rattlesnake, the bishop and the burglar share in its undiscriminating flow. The universal life is "perfect" like "the Father in Heaven" of whom Jesus spoke, "who makes his sun to shine upon the evil and the good, and who sends his rain upon the just and also upon the unjust."

There can be no death in a living universe, but when life under one set of conditions becomes impossible, it begins again in another environment. Forms may die and disappear, but life proceeds upon its way for evermore.


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