The Theosophical Forum – August 1939

MODERN SCIENCE AND THE MESSAGE OF H.P.BLAVATSKY — H. Groot

In our previous discussions about the results obtained by modern science, we repeatedly pointed to the fact that these results are as many corroborations of the statements made by the Old Wisdom — at least as far as the material world is concerned.

In many cases the agreement referred to is of very recent date. When the Old Wisdom's views on scientific subjects were promulgated by H. P. Blavatsky, they were nearly all of them in flat contradiction of the then current conceptions and theories, yes, even with what then passed for "proved facts." This should put us on our guard when we see that some of these statements do even now seem irreconcilable with modern scientific opinions. One who closely watches the rapid progress of modern science and the great changes that our views have undergone, will be rash if he concludes that the present "facts" of science are not contestable. A statement that differs from what modern Science considers as true need certainly not be rejected a priori — history may prove the contrary. We would request the reader to bear this thought in mind when he reads the following reflexions on the contrast which seems as yet to exist between what modern astro-physics and the Ancient Wisdom tell us about the condition of the sun.

Let us first ask the solar-physicists. They tell us that the temperatures of the outer layers of the sun have for a long time been a moot point. The estimates, based on the interpretation of the observed distribution of energy over the colors of the solar spectrum, varied between 5000 and 7000°. This is not so strange as it may seem, since the determination of the temperature from the spectrum is based on laws that hold good for a radiant body that has the same temperature throughout. This is not the case with the sun. It sends us rays which come from layers of very different depths — thus from layers which will have highly different temperatures. As a consequence, such a calculation cannot be anything but a rough average for the outer layers. In the more accurate methods that are used nowadays these conditions can be taken into account, and the results of more recent determinations are therefore in good agreement with each other.

Meanwhile, the direct measurements apply only to the outermost layers of the sun, to those parts of which H. P. Blavatsky says:

. . . externally is spread its robe (atmosphere, chromosphere, etc.) the nature of which is not matter, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, such as you are acquainted with, but vital electricity, condensed and made visible.

For the knowledge of the temperatures of the deeper layers astro-physics has to rely entirely on theoretical considerations. All of them agree that the temperature increases to enormously high values from the outside to the center, although — according to the conception which is formed about the condition of the matter in the inside of the sun — opinions differ considerably as to the extent to which this increase takes place.

The temperature prevailing in the center of the sun is estimated at 20,000,000° C. Another more radical theory even speaks of 40 billion degrees!

Before asking ourselves how such results are to be interpreted, we shall consult our Theosophical literature, which also contains a few passages dealing with the temperature and the condition of solar matter. First, there is a passage from Isis Unveiled:

. . . the materialists, who will some day find that . . . the sun has no more heat in it than the moon or the space crowding hosts of sparkling stars.

Next, we read in "Some Inquiries suggested by Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism" in The Theosophist, Vol. IV, 1883:

The "Adepts," who are thus forced to demolish before they can reconstruct, deny most emphatically (a) that the sun is in combustion, in any ordinary sense of the word; or (b) that he is incandescent, or even burning though he is glowing; . . .

The Secret Doctrine says:

Foremost of all, they [the astronomers] would have to repudiate the ideas on the Sun's solidity and incandescence; the Sun is "glowing" most undeniably but not burning . . .

And to add a quotation from a book written in our modern era, we would refer to the following passage from Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy by Dr. G. de Purucker:

The so-called "solar flames" are not flames. The sun is not burning; it is not in combustion; it is not hot; what we see is the aura of the sun, the sixth sub-element or sub-principle of the first or lowest Prakriti. That aura therefore is the sun's material buddhic aura, and looked at from the scientific standpoint it is a globe of kosmic forces.

Was it saying too much when we stated that the conceptions of the Ancient Wisdom differ as yet considerably from those of astro-physics?

If these were the only remarks that could be made on this point, they might be considered of relatively little importance. Moreover, they would be out of place in a series of articles whose purpose it is to show how modern science step by step affirms the correctness of H. P. B.'s statements, which formerly sounded so absurd.

However, it seems to us that in spite of all difference of opinion, the views of science about the internal structure of the sun are noticeably approaching the above conception of the Old Wisdom.

Let us return to the statements of astro-physics on the temperature prevailing in the center of the sun. How are they to be understood? As wild fantasies, devoid of any sound basis? As unaccounted-for numerical results obtained by elaborating uncontrollable theoretical reflexions?

By no means! The internal structure of the sun and" stars is a well-defined scientific problem, which is tackled with all exactitude that modern science is capable of displaying. Nearly all relevant reasonings are based on extensive empiric knowledge obtained and checked in the laboratory. However, there is one factor that cannot be controlled directly: the condition of the matter in the inside of the sun. And this is a factor of paramount importance! Each different conception that is formed about this condition leads to a different "model" of sun or star. Thus, we know Eddington's model, Jeans's model, Milne's model, to give some of the most familiar. To a first approximation they all differ from each other in the conception about the nature of the matter composing the inside of the sun. And this factor is of prime importance also according to the Ancient Wisdom. In The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett we read:

We know that the invisible Sun is composed of that which has neither name, nor can it be compared to anything known to your science — on earth; and that its "reflection" [the visible sun] contains still less of anything like "gases," mineral matter, or fire, though even we when treating of it in your civilized tongue are compelled to use such expressions as "vapour" and "magnetic matter."

In The Secret Doctrine we read:

The Solar substance is immaterial. In the sense, of course, of matter existing in states unknown to Science.

And elsewhere in The Secret Doctrine we find this very suggestive key:

The whole issue of the quarrel between the profane and esoteric sciences depends upon the belief in and demonstration of, the existence of an astral body within the physical.

These statements, too, had a queer ring in a time when science only knew three conditions of matter, viz. solid, liquid and gaseous, while not so very long ago Crookes discovered a fourth state, namely his "radiant matter" (our cathode rays). But now, looking back upon its old — at present obsolete! — conceptions, science can unconditionally adopt the following words from The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

Verily, when your astronomers speaking of sun-matter, term those lights and flames as "clouds of vapour" and "gases unknown to science" — (rather!) — chased by mighty whirlwinds and cyclones — whereas we know it to be simply magnetic matter in its usual state of activity — we feel inclined to smile at the expressions. . . .

It is also important to note what the Masters said with reference to Crookes's discovery:

If Mr. Crookes would penetrate Arcana beyond the corridors the tools of modern science have already excavated, let him . . . TRY. He tried and found the radiometer; tried again, and found Radiant matter; he may try again and find the "Kama-rupa" of matter — its fifth state. But to find its Manas he would have to pledge himself stronger to secrecy than he seems inclined to.

Crookes did not discover the "fifth state," to which reference is made in the above passage. This discovery was reserved for modern science, which identified this fifth state in the form of photons.

What are "photons"?

Let us ask Jeans. In his book The New Background of Science he tells us that photons are particles of — energy! Photons are not "ordinary" matter; they are not "atoms of electricity" such as electrons — no, they are "atoms of energy," particles that have lost all materiality. But yet they possess the qualities of inertia, i. e. they have a certain mass. "Like all other forms of energy," Jeans writes,

photons possess the property of inertia or mass. For this reason they exert pressure on anything they strike, here again behaving like shot from a gun. A regiment of men could be mown down by a sufficiently strong light just as surely as by the stream of shot from a machine gun.

Now although we may not like this latter picture, yet it shows clearly that photons have to be considered as particles, which, in spite of their "immateriality," consist of matter in a state that is one of the degrees with which we are familiar. Jeans, too, points frankly to this resemblance in the following really intuitive passage:

Indeed it is easy to imagine beings in intergalactic space, where matter is rare, endowed with electric senses in place of our material senses, who would regard photons as the primary constituent of reality, and matter as something outside the general course of nature.

May not we see these photons as the fifth state of matter? The "kama-rupa" of matter, as the Master called it?

Why "kama-rupa"? Would not this mean that this 5th degree of matter is "immaterial" in the sense that it belongs to the lower astral conditions? Then, the 6th and 7th states, which are as yet unknown to science, would belong to successively higher astral planes. And this is in perfect agreement with the above remark that Crookes would not easily succeed in discovering the Manas of matter. Matter in its 6th state is called here "Manas," i. e. it is considered as belonging to the higher astral planes.

What relation does all this bear to the interior of the sun?

A very important one! Let us remember what H. P. B. has said about the solar matter in the quotation given on the second page of this article.

According to modern physics the interior of the sun consists largely of photons, that is, of matter in its 5th state. Eddington's calculations are the most moderate; according to him a quadrillion (Eng.; septillion, Am.) (1024!) atoms, about twice as many electrons, and 20,000 trillion (Eng.; quintillion, Am.) protons are packed together in one cubic centimeter of his "model."

In the case of Milne's "model," the interior of the sun must almost exclusively consist of photons — and have a temperature of a few billion (Eng.; trillion, Am.) degrees!

It really looks as though science is inclining to the statements which we read in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett:

The Sun is neither a solid nor a liquid, nor yet a gaseous glow; but a gigantic ball of electro-magnetic Forces, the store-house of universal life and motion, from which the latter pulsate in all directions, feeding the smallest atom as the greatest genius with the same material unto the end of the Maha Yug.

However, this does not alter the fact that the modern theories about the structure of the sun and the conditions of its interior, based as they are on the knowledge of only five states of matter, cannot possibly be in line with the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. For, the latter assures us that the sun — or what we look upon as the sun — consists of matter in its 6th and 7th states.

The assumption of sun-physics that fantastically high temperatures prevail in the center of the sun is based on the attempts that are being made to construct a model consisting of matter in the states known to science, which must therefore be in agreement with what spectroscope and camera tell us. Such a model is very informative. Has not it proved possible to "explain" many observed properties by means of models that use no other states of matter but the gaseous, such as Emden's model? But, of course, there remain many questions which the imperfect model fails to answer. Moreover, the model will often lead to results — especially where the conditions in the interior of the sun are concerned, which are incapable of direct control — that can be obtained only by calculation. These lose their value or are thoroughly modified as soon as the model is improved upon.

If we bear all this in mind, we come to the conclusion that the great differences between the statements of the Ancient Wisdom and those of sun-physics may lie in the fact that science has so far known but five different degrees of matter, whereas the Ancient Wisdom assures us that there exist two others which are of paramount importance especially with regard to the nature and the essence of the sun. Thus, even the statement that the sun is not hot, might be confirmed if science should discover the properties of matter in its 6th and 7th states, and should modify its notion of "temperature" somewhat more than it has already done, by introducing "radiation temperatures." (This latter subject will be further discussed in a subsequent article.)

For one who is not familiar with these two states of matter, it is as impossible to develop a perfectly correct theory about the structure of the sun, as to evolve a psychology of man on the strength of what anatomy teaches us about the human body — without reckoning with the fact that he is a spiritual being. Writes Dr. G. de Purucker in his Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy:

Suppose that we go a step farther and say that the visible sun which we see is matter in its 6th state of ethereality, and that what is behind that tremendously brilliant veil or reflexion is an atom, so to say, an infinitesimal part of mother-substance, matter in its 7th state. It is easy to follow this thought. The sun is a mass of force; as even the medieval philosophers said: "Brother, when a man tells you that he has seen the sun, laugh at him. He has not. The sun is invisible. The true sun, the origin and center of these high forces, is on higher planes. . . ."

Not a single modern sun-physicist will probably agree with this statement. That is impossible. So long as science has not come to the conclusion that the 6th and 7th states of matter exist quite as well as cathode rays and photons — which latter two states of matter have not been known to it so very long — science will be incapable of drawing up its theories otherwise than it does. It must go its own way in the investigation of what our senses perceive as "the sun."

This investigation, which advanced science step by step in the past, will continue to advance it in the future, and compel it to reconsider its theories, and, as it were, to transcend itself more and more. If science goes on in this way, it must one day meet with phenomena which will induce it to extend its conceptions of matter to new conditions; conditions of which science is at present incapable of conceiving. Who knows but the problem of the origin of the solar energy, about which volumes have been written, but which has not yet been satisfactorily solved by modern atom-physics, may prove the sign-post pointing to the discovery of that unimaginably small nucleus of matter in its 7th state, which — says the Ancient Wisdom — is the real source of the stupendous phenomenon which we see as the visible sun! It is also possible that the study of those fantastic "eruptions," known as "protuberances," will cause science to take a new course, leading to the realization that other, quite different forces from radiation-pressure, are resident in the sun.

Anyhow, science has to pursue its own way. A way that often displays all the windings that characterize a path which leads to the top of a steep mountain — but yet a path that leads upwards.

However, the Ancient Wisdom teaches that there is yet another road — the road of spiritual perfection, which is and has been followed by all the great Teachers and Adepts of all times.

This road leads to a Knowledge that is not based on logical reasoning about experimental data, but on the mystical realization of the unbreakable Unity of the Universe. The Knower and the Object of Knowing are in reality One. This mystical cognition permits of knowing — not by intellectual comprehension, but by experiencing, by becoming — that which one strives to understand.

It is this mystical Knowledge that enables the Masters to make such positive statements about the real nature of the sun and the character of the natural phenomena. This Knowledge, which is essentially experiencing the Unity of the whole Universe, and therefore Universal Love, slumbers in each one of us. If our love is truly Universal — Universal — we shall obtain Universal Knowledge. However, it is unfortunately but very seldom that this Universal Love manifests itself in us, and our mystical Knowledge is therefore proportionately limited.

That is why the men of our times search and investigate along the road of science — which we cannot as yet dispense with. As said the Apostle Paul,

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. . . . For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. — 1 Cor., xiii, 10, 12

One day, however, we too shall obtain Universal Knowledge, and that according as the God within us will be freed from the shackles which keep Him imprisoned in this illusory world of ignorance.


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