The Theosophical Forum – October 1949

THE ADEPTS AND WESTERN SCIENCE — H. P. Blavatsky

Reply to an English F. T. S. — Mr. F. W. Myers of the Psychical Research Society and member of the London Lodge, T. S., whose questions were answered by Master M. through H. P. Blavatsky in The Theosophist.

It was not in contemplation, at the outset of the work begun in Fragments, to deal as fully with the scientific problems of cosmic evolution, as now seems expected. A distinct promise was made, as Mr. Sinnett is well aware, to acquaint the readers of this Journal with the outlines of Esoteric doctrines and — no more. A good deal would be given, much more kept back, especially from the columns of a magazine which reaches a promiscuous public.

This seeming unwillingness to share with the world some of nature's secrets that may have come into the possession of the few, arises from causes quite different from the one generally assigned. It is not Selfishness erecting a Chinese wall between occult science and those who would know more of it, without making any distinction between the simply curious profane, and the earnest, ardent seeker after truth. Wrong, and unjust are those who think so; who attribute to indifference for other people's welfare a policy necessitated, on the contrary, by a far-seeing universal philanthropy; who accuse the custodians of lofty physical and spiritual though long rejected truths, of holding them high above the people's heads. In truth, the inability to reach them lies entirely with the seekers. Indeed, the chief reason among many others for such a reticence, at any rate, with regard to secrets pertaining to physical sciences — is to be sought elsewhere. (1) It rests entirely on the impossibility of imparting that the nature of which is, at the present stage of the world's development, beyond the comprehension of the would-be learners, however intellectual and however scientifically trained may be the latter. This tremendous difficulty is now explained to the few, who, besides having read Esoteric Buddhism, have studied and understood the several occult axioms approached in it. It is safe to say that it will not be even vaguely realized by the general reader, but will offer the pretext for sheer abuse. Nay, it has already.

It is simply that the gradual development of man's seven principles and physical senses has to be coincident and on parallel lines with Rounds and Root-races. Our fifth race has so far developed but its five senses. Now, if the Kama or Will-principle of the "Fourth-rounders" has already reached that stage of its evolution when the automatic acts, the unmotivated instincts and impulses of its childhood and youth, instead of following external stimuli, will have become acts of will framed constantly in conjunction with the mind (Manas), thus making of every man on earth of that race a free agent, a fully responsible being — the Kama of our hardly adult fifth race is only slowly approaching it. As to the 6th sense of this, our race, it has hardly sprouted above the soil of its materiality. It is highly unreasonable, therefore, to expect for the men of the 5th to sense the nature and essence of that which will be fully sensed and perceived but by the 6th — let alone the 7th race — i.e., to enjoy the legitimate outgrowth of the evolution and endowments of the future races with only the help of our present limited senses. The exceptions to this quasi universal rule have been hitherto found only in some rare cases of constitutional, abnormally precocious individual evolutions; or, in such, where by early training and special methods, reaching the stage of the 5th rounders, some men in addition to the natural gift of the latter have fully developed (by certain occult methods) their sixth, and in still rarer cases their seventh, sense. As an instance of the former class may be cited the Seeress of Prevorst; a creature born out of time, a rare precocious growth, ill adapted to the uncongenial atmosphere that surrounded her, hence a martyr ever ailing and sickly. As an example of the other, the Count St. Germain may be mentioned. Apace with the anthropological and physiological development of man runs his spiritual evolution. To the latter, purely intellectual growth is often more an impediment than a help. An instance: Radiant stuff — "the fourth state of matter" — has been hardly discovered, and no one — the eminent discoverer himself not excepted — has yet any idea of its full importance, its possibilities, its connection with physical phenomena, or even its bearing upon the most puzzling scientific problems. How then can any "Adept" attempt to prove the fallacy of much that is predicated in the nebular and solar theories when the only means by which he could successfully prove his position is an appeal to, and the exhibition of, that sixth sense consciousness which the physicist cannot postulate? Is not this plain?

Thus, the obstacle is not that the "Adepts" would "forbid inquiry," but rather the personal, present limitations of the senses of the average, and even of the scientific man. To undertake the explanation of that which at the outset would be rejected as a physical possibility, the outcome of hallucination, is unwise and even harmful, because premature. It is in consequence of such difficulties that the psychic production of physical phenomena — save in exceptional cases — is strictly forbidden.

And now, "Adepts" are asked to meddle with astronomy — a science which, of all the branches of human knowledge, has yielded the most accurate information, afforded the most mathematically correct data, and of the achievements in which the men of science feel the most justly proud! It is true that on the whole astronomy has achieved triumphs more brilliant than those of most other sciences. But if it has done much in the direction of satisfying man's straining and thirsting mind and his noble aspirations for knowledge, physical as to its most important particulars, it has ever laughed at man's puny efforts to wrest the great secrets of Infinitude by the help of only mechanical apparatus. While the spectroscope has shown the probable similarity of terrestrial and sidereal substance, the chemical actions peculiar to the variously progressed orbs of space have not been detected, nor proven to be identical with those observed on our own planet. In this particular, Esoteric Psychology may be useful. But who of the men of science would consent to confront it with their own handiwork? Who of them would recognize the superiority and greater trustworthiness of the Adept's knowledge over their own hypotheses, since in their case they can claim the mathematical correctness of their deductive reasonings based on the alleged unerring precision of the modern instruments; while the Adepts can claim but their knowledge of the ultimate nature of the materials they have worked with for ages, resulting in the phenomena produced. However much it may be urged that a deductive argument, besides being an incomplete syllogistic form, may often be in conflict with fact; that their major propositions may not always be correct, although the predicates of their conclusions seem correctly drawn — spectrum analysis will not be acknowledged as inferior to purely spiritual research. Nor, before developing his sixth sense, will the man of science concede the error of his theories as to the Solar Spectrum, unless he abjure, to some degree at least, his marked weakness for conditional and disjunctive syllogisms ending in eternal dilemmas. At present, the "Adepts" do not see any help for it. Were these invisible and unknown profanes to interfere with — not to say openly contradict — the dicta of the Royal Society, contempt and ridicule, followed by charges of crass ignorance of the first elementary principles of modern science would be their only reward; while those who would lend an ear to their "vagaries," would be characterized immediately as types of the "mild lunatics" of the age. Unless, indeed, the whole of that august body should be initiated into the great Mysteries at once, and without any further ado or the preliminary and usual preparations or training, the F. R. S.'s could be miraculously endowed with the required sixth sense, the Adepts fear the task would be profitless. The latter have given quite enough, little though it may seem, for the purposes of a first trial. The sequence of martyrs to the great universal truths has never been once broken; and the long list of known and unknown sufferers headed with the name of Galileo, now closes with that of Zollner. Is the world of science aware of the real cause of Zollner's premature death? When the fourth dimension of space becomes a scientific reality like the fourth state of matter, he may have a statue raised to him by grateful posterity. But this will neither recall him to life, nor will it obliterate the days and months of mental agony that harassed the soul of this intuitional, farseeing, modest genius, made even after his death to receive the donkey's kick of misrepresentation and to be publicly charged with lunacy.

Hitherto, Astronomy could grope between light and darkness only with the help of the uncertain guidance offered it by analogy. It has reduced to fact and mathematical precision the physical motion and the paths of the heavenly bodies, and — no more. So far, it has been unable to discover with any approach to certainty the physical constitution of either Sun, stars, or even cometary matter. Of the latter, it seems to know no more than was taught 5,000 years ago by the official astronomers of old Chaldea and Egypt; namely, that it is vaporous, since it transmits the rays of stars and planets without any sensible obstruction. But let the modern chemist be asked to tell one whether this matter is in any way connected with, or akin to, that of any of the external gases he's acquainted with; or again, to any of the solid elements of his chemistry. The probable answer received will be very little calculated to solve the world's perplexity; since, all hypotheses to the contrary, cometary matter does not appear to possess even the common law of adhesion or of chemical affinity. The reason for it is very simple. And the truth ought long ago to have dawned upon the experimentalists, since our little world (though so repeatedly visited by the hairy and bearded travellers, enveloped in the evanescent veil of their tails, and otherwise brought in contact with that matter) has neither been smothered by an addition of nitrogen gas, nor deluged by an excess of hydrogen, nor yet perceptibly affected by a surplus of oxygen. The essence of cometary matter must be — and the "Adepts" say istotally different from any of the chemical or physical characteristics with which the greatest chemists and physicists of the Earth are familiar — all recent hypotheses to the contrary notwithstanding. It is to be feared that before the real nature of the elder progeny of Mula Prakriti is detected, Mr. Crookes will have to discover matter of the fifth or extra radiant state — et seq.

Thus, while the astronomer has achieved marvels in the elucidation of the visible relations of the orbs of space, he has learnt nothing of their inner constitution. His science has led him no farther towards a reading of that inner mystery, than has that of the geologist, who can tell us only of the Earth's superficial layers, and that of the physiologist who has until now been able to deal only with man's outer shell, or Sthula Sarira. Occultists have asserted and go on asserting daily the fallacy of judging the essence by its outward manifestations, the ultimate nature of the life-principle by the circulation of the blood, mind by the gray matter of the brain, and the physical constitution of Sun, stars and comets by our terrestrial chemistry and the matter of our own planet. Verily, and indeed, no microscopes, spectroscopes, telescopes, photometers or other physical apparatuses can ever be focussed on either the macro or micro-cosmical highest principles, nor will the mayavirupa of either yield its mystery to physical inquiry. The methods of spiritual research and psychological observation are the only efficient agencies to employ. We have to proceed by analogy in every thing, to be sure. Yet the candid men of science must very soon find out that it is not sufficient to examine a few stars — a handful of sand, as it were, from the margin of the shoreless, cosmic ocean — to conclude that these stars are the same as all other stars — our earth included; that, because they have attained a certain very great telescopic power, and gauged an area enclosed in the smallest of spaces when compared with what remains, they have, therefore, concurrently perfected the survey of all that exists within even that limited space. For, in truth, they have done nothing of the kind. They have had only a superficial glance at that which is made visible to them under the present conditions, with the limited power of their vision. And even though it were helped by telescopes of a hundred-fold stronger power than that of Lord Rosse, or the new Lick Observatory, the case would not alter. No physical instrument will ever help astronomy to scan distances of the immensity of which that of Sirius, situated at the trifle of 130,125,000,000,000 miles away from the outer boundary of the spherical area, or, even that of (a) Capella with its extra trifle of 295,355,000,000,000 (2) miles still further away, can give them, as they themselves are well aware — the faintest idea. For, though an Adept is unable to cross bodily (i.e., in his astral shape) the limits of the solar system, yet he knows that far stretching beyond the telescopic power of detection, there are systems upon systems, the smallest of which would, when compared with the system of Sirius, make the latter seem like an atom of dust imbedded in the great Shamo desert. The eye of the astronomer, who thinks he also knows of the existence of such systems, has never rested upon them, has never caught of them even that spectral glimpse, fanciful and hazy as the incoherent vision in a slumbering mind — that he has occasionally had of other systems, and yet he verily believes he has gauged INFINITUDE! And yet these immeasurably distant worlds are brought as clear and near to the spiritual eye of the astral astronomer as a neighboring bed of daisies may be to the eye of the botanist.

Thus, the "Adepts" of the present generation, though unable to help the profane astronomer by explaining the ultimate essence, or even the material constitution of star and planet, since European science, knowing nothing as yet of the existence of such substances or more properly of their various states or conditions has neither proper terms for, nor can form any adequate idea of them by any description, they may, perchance, be able to prove what this matter is not — and this is more than sufficient for all present purposes. The next best thing to learning what is true is to ascertain what is not true.

Having thus anticipated a few general objections, and traced a limit to expectation, since there is no need of drawing any veil of mystery before "An English F. T. S.," his few questions may be partially answered. The negative character of the replies draws a sufficiently strong line of demarcation between the views of the Adepts and those of Western science, to afford some useful hints at least.


On August 22, 1883, Col. Henry S. Olcott joined H. P. B. at Ootacamund, the hill-station of Madras, where she was staying then at the residence of Major-General Morgan. In Old Diary Leaves, Vol. II, p. 466, Col. Olcott writes:

"Part of her work was the taking from dictation from her invisible teacher of the "Replies to an English F. T. S.," which contained among other things the now oft-quoted prophecy of the direful things and many cataclysms that would happen in the near future, when the cycle should close. That she was taking down from dictation was fully apparent to one who was familiar with her ways."

* * *

Writing to A. P. Sinnett on September 27, 1883, from Adyar, H. P. B. says:

"As M. says, "remains to be seen how Mr. F. V. Myers will receive their Replies" — Whether he will not be the first one (and if not he, then other members) to call them ignorant fools, illiterate Asiatics "with a small Oriental brain" as Wyld expressed it, wanting to make believe, I suppose, that his Jesus was an Anglo-Saxon Aryan. I say that these Replies to "An English F. T. S." are time lost; they will not accept the truth, and they occupy half of every number of the Theosophist that comes out, crowding off other matter. . . ." — The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, p. 59.

* * *

On October 8, 1883, K. H. writes to Mr. Sinnett:

"I have nought to do with the Replies to Mr. Myers, but, you may recognise in them, perhaps, the brusque influence of M." — The Mahatma Letters, p. 396

* * *

From Ootacamund, H. P. B. wrote to A. P. Sinnett, on August 15, 1883, as follows:

"Well again — I wish your "London Lodge" new members should not write questions necessitating such ample answers. Why bless you only the half of the Replies fill up a whole form of the September Theosophist! and fancy the pleasure. It is I who had to copy most of the Replies written half by M., half by either chelas or handwritings that I see for the first time, and as no printer the world over could make out M's handwriting. It is more red and fierce than ever! and then I do not like them a bit the replies. Where's the necessity of writing three pages for every line of the question and explaining things that after all none of them except yourself, perhaps, will understand. Science, science and science. Modern physical science be hanged! . . ." — The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, p. 46

" . . . . who is Mr. Myers that my big Boss should waste a bucket full of his red ink to satisfy him? And He won't; see if he does. For Mr. Myers will not be satisfied with negative proofs and the evidence of the failings of European astronomers and physicists. But does he really think that any of the "adepts" will give out their real esoteric teachings in the Theosophist?"Ibid.


Question I

Do the Adepts Deny the Nebular Theory?

No; they do not deny its general propositions, nor the approximative truths of the Scientific hypotheses. They only deny the completeness of the present, as well as the entire error of the many so-called "exploded" old theories, which, during the last century, have followed each other in such rapid succession. For instance: while denying with Laplace, Herschel and others, that the variable patches of light, perceived on the nebulous background of the galaxy ever belonged to remote worlds in the process of formation; and agreeing with modern science that they proceed from no aggregation of formless matter, but belong simply to clusters of "stars" already formed; they yet add that many of such clusters, that pass in the opinion of the astro-physicists for stars and worlds already evoluted, are in fact but collections of the various materials made ready for future worlds. Like bricks already baked, of various qualities, shapes and colour, that are no longer formless clay but have become fit units of a future wall, each of them having a fixed and distinctly assigned space to occupy in some forthcoming building, are these seemingly adult worlds. The astronomer has no means of recognizing their relative adolescence, except perhaps by making a distinction between the star-clusters with the usual orbitual motion and mutual gravitation, and those termed, we believe, irregular star-clusters of very capricious and changeful appearances. Thrown together as though at random and seemingly in utter violation of the law of symmetry, they defy observation; such, for instance, are 5 M. Lyrae, 52 M. Cephei, Dumb-Bell, and some others. Before an emphatic contradiction of what precedes is attempted, and ridicule offered, perchance, it would not be amiss to ascertain the nature and character of those other, so-called "temporary" stars, whose periodicity though never actually proven, is yet allowed to pass unquestioned. What are these stars which, appearing suddenly in matchless magnificence and splendour, disappear as mysteriously as unexpectedly without leaving a single trace behind? Whence do they appear? Whither are they engulphed? In the great cosmic deep — we say. The bright "brick" is caught by the hand of the Mason — directed by that Universal Architect which destroys but to rebuild. It has found its place in the cosmic structure and will perform its mission to its last Manvantaric hour.

Another point most emphatically denied by the "Adepts" is, that there exist in the whole range of visible heavens any spaces void of starry worlds. There are stars, worlds and systems within, as without the systems made visible to man, and even within our own atmosphere for all the physicist knows. The "Adept" affirms in this connection that orthodox, or so-called official science, uses very often the word "infinitude" without attaching to it any adequate importance; rather as a flower of speech than a term implying an awful, a most mysterious Reality. When an astronomer is found in his Reports "gauging infinitude," even the most intuitional of his class is but too often apt to forget that he is gauging only the superficies of a small area and its visible depths, and to speak of these as though they were merely the cubic contents of some known quantity. This is the direct result of the present conception of a three-dimensional space. The turn of a four-dimensional world is near, but the puzzle of science will ever continue until their concepts reach the natural dimensions of visible and invisible space — in its septenary completeness. "The Infinite and the Absolute are only the names for two counter imbecilities of the human (uninitiated) mind"; and to regard them as the transmuted "properties of the nature of things — of two subjective negatives converted into objective affirmatives," as Sir W. Hamilton puts it, is to know nothing of the infinite operations of human liberated spirit, or of its attributes, the first of which is its ability to pass beyond the region of our terrestrial experience of matter and space. As an absolute vacuum is an impossibility below, so is it a like impossibility — above. But our molecules, the infinitesimals of the vacuum "below," are replaced by the giant-atom of the Infinitude "above." When demonstrated, the four dimensional conception of space may lead to the invention of new instruments to explore the extremely dense matter that surrounds us as a ball of pitch might surround, say — a fly, but which, in our extreme ignorance of all its properties save those we find it exercising on our earth, we yet call the clear, the serene, and the transparent atmosphere. This is no psychology, but simply occult physics, which can never confound "substance" with "centres of Force," to use the terminology of a Western Science which is ignorant of Maya. In less than a century, besides telescopes, microscopes, micrographs and telephones, the Royal Society will have to offer a premium for such an etheroscope.

It is also necessary in connection with the question under reply that "An English F. T. S." should know that the "Adepts" of the Good Law, reject gravity as at present explained. They deny that the so-called "impact theory" is the only one that is tenable in the gravitation hypothesis. They say that if all efforts made by the physicists to connect it with Ether, in order to explain electric and magnetic distance-action have hitherto proved complete failures, it is again due to the race ignorance of the ultimate states of matter in nature, foremost of all the real nature of the solar stuff. Believing but in the law of mutual magneto-electric attraction and repulsion, they agree with those who have come to the conclusion that "universal gravitation is a weak force," utterly incapable of accounting for even one small portion of the phenomena of motion. In the same connection they are forced to suggest that Science may be wrong in her indiscriminate postulation of centrifugal force, which is neither a universal nor a consistent law. To cite but one instance; this force is powerless to account for the spheroidal oblateness of certain planets. For if the bulge of planetary equators and the shortening of their polar axes is to be attributed to centrifugal force, instead of being simply the result of the powerful influence of solar electro-magnetic attraction, "balanced by concentric rectification of each planet's own gravitation achieved by rotation on its axis," to use an astronomer's phraseology (neither very clear nor correct, yet serving our purpose to show the many flaws in the system) — why should there be such difficulty in answering the objection that the differences in the equatorial rotation and density of various planets are directly in opposition to this theory? How long shall we see even great mathematicians bolstering up fallacies to supply an evident hiatus! The "Adepts" have never claimed superior or any knowledge of Western astronomy and other sciences. Yet turning even to the most elementary text-books used in the schools of India, they find that the centrifugal theory of Western birth — is unable to cover all the ground. That, unaided, it can neither account for every spheroid oblate, nor explain away such evident difficulties as are presented by the relative density of some planets. How indeed can any calculation of centrifugal force explain to us, for instance, why Mercury, whose rotation is, we are told, only "about one-third that of the Earth, and its density only about one-fourth greater than the Earth," should have a polar compression more than ten times greater than the latter? And again, why Jupiter, whose equatorial rotation is said to be "twenty-seven times greater, and its density only about one fifth that of the Earth," has its polar compression seventeen times greater than the earth? Or, why Saturn, with an equatorial velocity fifty-five times greater than Mercury for centrifugal force to contend with, should have its polar compression only three times greater than Mercury? To crown the above contradictions, we are asked to believe in the Central Forces as taught by modern science, even when told that the equatorial matter of the Sun, with more than four times the centrifugal velocity of the earth's equatorial surface, and only about one-fourth part of the gravitation of the earth's equatorial matter, has not manifested any tendency to bulge out at the solar equator, nor shown the least flattening at the poles of the solar axis. In other and clearer words, the Sun, with only one fourth of our earth's density for the centrifugal force to work upon, has no polar compression at all! We find this objection made by more than one astronomer, yet never explained away satisfactorily so far as the "Adepts" are aware.

Therefore, do they say that the great men of science of the West knowing nothing or next to nothing either about cometary matter, centrifugal and centripetal forces, the nature of the nebulae, or the physical constitution of the Sun, stars, or even the moon, are imprudent to speak so confidently as they do about the "central mass of the sun" whirling out into space planets, comets, and what not. Our humble opinion being wanted, we maintain: that it evolutes out but the life principle, the soul of these bodies, giving and receiving it back in our little solar system, as the "Universal Life-giver," the One Life gives and receives it in the Infinitude and Eternity; that the Solar System is as much the Microcosm of the One Macrocosm, as man is the former when compared with his own little solar cosmos.

What are the proofs of science? The solar spots (a misnomer like much of the rest)? But these do not prove the solidity of the "central mass," any more than the storm-clouds prove the solid mass of the atmosphere behind them. Is it the non-co-extensiveness of the sun's body with its apparent luminous dimensions, the said "body" appearing "a solid mass, a dark sphere of matter confined within a fiery prison-house, a robe of fiercest flames?" We say that there is indeed a "prisoner" behind, but that having never yet been seen by any physical, mortal eye, what he allows to be seen of him is merely a gigantic reflection, an illusive phantasma of "solar appendages of some sort," as Mr. Proctor honestly calls it. Before saying anything further, we will consider the next interrogatory: — Is the sun merely a cooling mass?

      — The Theosophist, Sept., 1883

FOOTNOTES:

1. Needless to remind our correspondent that what is said here, applies only to secrets the nature of which when revealed will not be turned into a weapon against humanity in general, or its units — men. Secrets of such class could not be given to any one but a regular chela of many years' standing and during his successive initiations; mankind as a whole has first to come of age, to reach its majority, which will happen but toward the beginning of its sixth race — before such mysteries can be safely revealed to it. The vril is not altogether a fiction, as some chelas and even "lay" chelas know. (return to text)

2. The figures are given from the mathematical calculations of exoteric Western astronomy. Esoteric astronomy may prove them false some day. (return to text)


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