By Grace Green Knoche
Copyright © 1994 by Theosophical University Press. Electronic version ISBN 1-55700-158-8. All rights reserved. This edition may be downloaded for off-line viewing without charge. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial or other use in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of Theosophical University Press. For ease of searching, no diacritical marks appear in the electronic version of the text.
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NOTE: In 1930 my mother, Dr. Grace Green Knoche (1871-1962), a profound student of Helena Blavatsky's writings, founded and edited The Lotus-Circle Messenger, a children's magazine. Every issue was intended to spark the child's awareness of beauty and harmony in nature. "The Adventures of the Atoms" series ran from 1931 to 1933 and in the 1940s the author prepared it for book form. Sixty-odd years later, in 1994-5, Sunrise: Theosophic Perspectives published this version, edited by Sarah Belle Dougherty. — Grace F. Knoche
These pages in the Book of the Universe are written in the guise of fantasy but with no part in untruth, for the atom is more than mere laboratory material. It is an evolving being, of infinite change and growth, yet inalterable and constant at its core which is divine.
In the long long long ago Mother Nature was planning for her children — her life-atom children. They had been having a wonderful time all day on the grandest playground in the world, or even in the universe — in fact, it was the universe; and now they were ready for sleep. Like the old woman who lived in a shoe, Mother Nature had so many children that sometimes she didn't know what to do. But tonight she knew very well. So she called them together, millions and millions of them, and billions and trillions — dashing, flashing, flaming, dancing sparks of life. And she said to them:
"It's time for you to sleep now, but tomorrow, when you're rested, I'll send you out to seek your fortunes. Many and strange will be your adventures. Some will be hard for you to understand, but all will have a beautiful purpose, for deep within you is a radiant spirit, your Real Self. And like the golden thread in fairy tales, if you never lose hold of it, someday it will guide you back home.
"Never forget what I am telling you! If you remember, you will pass through all your adventures safely and happily and bravely. And when you come back, as you will someday, you'll not be just life-atoms. You'll be something greater and something more."
"How wonderful!" they sang, all together. "Please tell us what we'll be!"
"Time enough for that tomorrow. You like surprises, don't you? So good night, sweet dreams — and many dreams! For it will be a long night." And she put them to bed.
As the new day finally began to dawn, the life-atom children were still in bed, and no wonder. Before Mother Nature told them it was bedtime, they were already tired, for they had had a long, long day — not a little day such as we have, but much longer. How can that be? It's this way: we measure our day from sunrise, when Father Sun peeps up in the east, until he says goodbye to us at night in the west. The Sun doesn't go to bed then; it's only we who do. But there is a time when he really does get up in the morning to start his new day, and his morning, like his day, is very, very long. And he really does go to bed at night, and that night lasts a long time too. And it was after the Sun's long, long day that Mother Nature put her children to bed, to sleep through a night just as long.
Even that night had an end, and now it was time for day to break — the great day of the solar universe. Everything was stirring, for it was beginning to get light. Things were beginning to rock and swing, vibrate and throb, pulsate and whirl. What was this, and what made it? Motion, just motion, waking all things and guiding them.
The life-atom children were wide awake now, and all about them was a filmy mist, radiant and bright and cool. And when they whirled out of their misty beds, and danced and floated and flew, they found that they were motion too, and light. For light was everywhere, darting glorious long beams in every direction. Heat was there too — it was getting warm and cozy in this great cosmic dawn.
And color? Not color as we know it, yet. But Mother Nature knew there soon would be, for slowly, slowly forming in the mist were a trillion glittering prisms ready to break up the pure white light into jewels of color when the right time came.
Lovelier than all there was sound! Like soft, musical harp tones it was — and yet more beautiful — and all the while motion was keeping time. The life-atom children liked that best of all. They were motion; they were sound; and suddenly they knew there was something more, something in their hearts. "Who is it? What is it?" they said to each other. "We must know! Let's sing!"
And while they were singing they danced, but now in a different way. First they danced together, and then far apart, then together and then apart, again and again and again. And motion was everywhere — in the sound and the light, in the gentle, friendly warmth, in the white misty promise of color. But most of all they heard it singing in their hearts.
They began to go faster and faster; things began to go round and round. "What makes things go round and round?" they asked. And when nobody answered, they said, "Come! Sing! We'll go round and round too!" A strange adventure was waiting for them.
"Look! Here comes Fohat!" sang the life-atom children. And there he was, cosmic electricity, moving, gliding, sparkling, scintillating, hissing as he traced long spiral lines. Winding his way through the filmy, radiant mist, he wakened life-atom children all along the way — seven groups of them. He touched the sleeping atoms with cool light and cool fire.
Now the life-atom children understood. It was Fohat who had waked them up and taught them that wonderful dance. It was Fohat who had been making things go round and round.
"Now he's coming back again," they sang. "What does he want us to do? "
"You must learn to play," said Fohat. "You can't help me build worlds if you don't. You've ever so much work to do, and if you never learn to play, your work won't have any sparkle in it!" And he showered light-sparks all around. "Now, let's have some games. Don't you know this is your playground? Come! Let's play tag!"
Such games as they played with Fohat then, on the playground of great space — a playground so big that whole universes played there too. And a right fine game they had. Fohat ran after them and set them all running and laughing; and oh, how warm they got! Then he blew on them and made them hard and cool and shining, like jewels. Never was anything so wide awake before as the little life-atom children, tracing with mighty Fohat great circles on the Playground of the Dawn.
Then Fohat gathered them together and shot great streaks and flashes of fire across their playground, with thunderpeals following after. Yet all the time the little life-atoms were singing, each one his own song. Some of the songs were in harmony, but other songs were not, for there were two hosts of atoms, now rushing together, then rushing apart, as Fohat pushed or pulled them in this beautiful cosmic dance. And as they danced and circled and whirled, they knew that they were motion, that they were light.
"Now," said Fohat, "run along! I've lighted you, and started you, and shown you how to laugh and sing and dance. Now I must whirl away and wake up others . . ."
The little life-atoms paused. "What shall we do now?"
"I know! Let's fly up and visit Father Sun!" said one. And all the rest cried eagerly: "Yes, let's!"
But they couldn't. Something was holding them, carrying them along. They looked around, and there was a bright globe of fire whirling by, its long hair streaming out like a veil.
"Oh!" they said. "Why, what's happening to us now?" And before they knew it they were drawn right into the long misty hair or tail of this bright wandering comet.
What happened then was nothing so peaceful as playing tag with Fohat, for now here, now there, now on this side and now on that, swung and whirled the comet. Now he moved quickly, now slowly, sometimes moving by sudden starts, sometimes peacefully and gently.
And what sights to see! Huge misty masses — nebulae just beginning to think about growing into worlds. Stars and planets and many, many suns, some of them large, some of them small; some with long hair like King Comet, some with two or even three long streaming tails. There went one, in shape like a huge bow; here was another without any tail at all — millions, myriads, of these bright mysteries, sailing, rushing by! Not all of them were very polite, either, for King Comet, wandering about as he liked, did not suit them at all. Stars and suns are orderly beings, always going where they should. But comets are altogether disorderly, and the result was that the life-atom children had a rather bumpy time of it. Their king dodged this way and that, trying to find a path, and almost having an accident many times.
The life-atom children were frightened. They crept up close to the bright heart and center of this errant king of theirs. But when they got there they felt at home; it was really peaceful after being pulled around all over space in that long filmy swishing tail. How glorious to the life-atom children seemed the bright calmness at the center of this comet — guiding it, and lighting it, and pouring out love and power all the time. The little atoms now knew why it was they felt at home. It was their comet — they had found their king again!
But why was their king and master having so hard a time? What was he trying to do? He was trying to find a place where he could settle down and grow and build a world for himself, a place where everything could be in order. This is not easy to do by any means, but comets keep on trying. So faster and faster he whirled and swung, coming closer and ever closer to Father Sun.
At last he fairly whizzed by — but not off into space again as before. The Sun had drawn the comet to itself, and soon he was whirling around Father Sun. Like the life-atoms, he now had found his master, his king — his Sun. He had also found his place in life, his path. Little by little the long streaming tail fell away. His great orbit around the Sun was becoming smaller, and more and more like a circle.
Something was happening to the life-atom children, too, for Fohat was coming near again. He was blowing on them like a mighty wind. He seemed to be urging them to — to —
"What is it? Tell us!" said the life-atom children eagerly.
And Fohat replied: "We are going to be a world one of these days, you and I!"
"A world? What's that?" asked the life-atoms.
"You'll see!" said Fohat.
Looking around, everything was bright. Space, the great playground, was bright, for splendorous light had come, a radiant essence, shedding glory everywhere. The little life-atoms were beautiful and bright too, for space was their playground and their school.
"But what is happening to us?" sang one, still swirling and dancing. "We're getting thicker, and heavier."
"And smaller and harder," sang another.
"Tell us, bright Fohat," sang a third. "What's happening to us now?"
"You will soon be passing through the Magic Door," said Fohat. "That's the first step to building a world!"
And so they were — passing through the Magic Door at the heart of their comet. Like the life-atoms themselves, the comet also had a radiant essence in his inmost, ruling like a prince over the Magic Door at the very center of his being. It was through this door that the life-atoms were now streaming and showering, a rushing starry tide. Because of Fohat, to every life-atom that passed through something happened. What was that something? Did you ever go out of a cozy, bright room into another room, rather chilly, not so large and bright? You pulled your clothing around you a little tighter, and put on more clothes. Well, something like that happened to the life-atom children. They were now moving on to a new world, the one Fohat had told them they were going to be, for they would be its building bricks. Troops and legions of them were coming with Fohat blowing on them, hardening and condensing them and making them all very serious. The new world was already being made; it seemed to be something like a great web. And the life-atoms were a part of that web — indeed, they found themselves woven into it.
"If you could only see what I see!" said mighty Fohat. He was still whirling and circling about them, tracing long spiral lines of light, of coolness, and of warmth. "I see the world that is to be — the rocks and plants and animals to be, and something very strange and wonderful called human beings! You have a long, long day before you now, with lots and lots of work to be done."
"But what are rocks and plants and animals and humans? What have they to do with us?"
"They have everything to do with you. You are building bricks, and you are going to build yourselves into all these beings, all these things. You are going to be part of them — the whole of them, in fact."
Did you ever see an artist working over a design? For a long time he may have had that plan in his mind as an idea, thinking about it silently, helping it to grow. He knows that he must follow laws of order or his idea will not come to anything at all. So he begins just as Fohat did when he began in the dawn-mist to trace his spiral lines. He draws delicate curves and faint lines here and there. He makes dots and points here and there, too, just as Fohat did with his mighty pencil when he said: "Here we shall have Magic Doors! Here they shall open!" But gradually the plan or design grows less shadowy and delicate. The artist now makes strong dark lines, over and around the trial-lines, as he works on until at last here is the idea worked out, fully grown, a kind of little world itself.
So is it when a big world is abuilding. Delicate, shadowy, misty at first, it slowly, patiently, takes shape while Fohat traces spiral lines about it, spiral lines all through it, piercing it for Magic Doors here and there, with cosmic points and dots, with motion keeping order, keeping time. For this new world must not be disorderly, and it won't be. The artist-builders and their helpers attend to that.
No wonder the life-atom children were happy as they danced into their places in this new world — they could already see that beauty and order were in it. Some of them flew to lofty places, drawn there because they were attracted to pure and lofty things. Others dropped lower down because heavier things attracted them — each after his own nature, each finding his appointed place as though on the rungs of a ladder. In fact, it was a ladder: the ladder of life. Up and down this mighty ladder the life-atom children poured in a constant stream — some going higher, others lower, but always through the Magic Doors. Fohat was moving about, gliding, hissing, breathing on them, hardening them more and still more, these life-atoms out for adventure.
"But why are we here, Fohat? Tell us!" And Fohat replied:
"You are here because you belong here. You couldn't grow any other way. It's just as simple as that. You belong!"
That was the happiest thing about it. They did belong. These little life-atoms were not just drifting about to stick and stop anywhere at all, like old broken straws in a stream. Each one had his very own place on some rung of this ladder of life.
Was this ladder a real ladder? Yes, but not like an ordinary one, with flat boards to step on, and only empty space between. No! The real ladder of life is a cosmic ladder of living beings, whose steps and spaces grade into each other like the soft lovely tints of a rainbow, which also has seven steps or stages, marked by seven colors. Look closely at the next rainbow you see. You cannot mistake red for orange, or green for blue, and yet you cannot tell exactly where one color stops and another begins. So it is with the ladder of life, made up as it is of hosts upon hosts of life-atoms, some of them young, some older, but all of them wide-awake after their peaceful sleep, and all of them eager for adventure.
"But what are we going to do?" they all asked. "We want to help!"
"You shall help," Fohat said. "You are my little builders. I couldn't possibly build a world without you."
"Why couldn't you, when you are so big and wise?"
"It is the law that we should work together — you and I. You, the firstborn of Mother Nature in this new day, and I, Fohat, from the god-world, yet not myself a god.
"It is we who are to work from the Architect's plan. It is we who are to lay out and smooth the evolutionary paths and trails which younger life-atoms, coming after you, will complete in terms of beauty."
The little life-atoms were thinking over what they had just learned; they had had such amazing adventures! The first and greatest was when they found Fohat and played games with him on the Playground of the Dawn. Next, they found their wandering planet, King Comet, and the Magic Door at his heart. Best of all, they found new eyes, for there before them all the time had been the Ladder of Life, and they hadn't seen it. Then they found that they were growing; and that every thing and every being was growing, too. They didn't quite understand it. All they knew was that it was wonderful and true.
"Fohat, is there anyone, anywhere, greater than you?" they asked.
"The gods are greater. They commanded me to come to you and set you whirling in two directions, and start you singing all the time. Many of you were not life-atoms then, but just beginning-atoms trying to find yourselves and find your places in the great cosmic scheme. All I taught you, all I brought you, was at the gods' command."
"We understand. We see now why the worlds you build must be kingdoms of beauty and order. But where shall we find such a kingdom, and when shall we enter it?"
"You have been in such a kingdom all the time," said Fohat, "for it lies within you. But as yet you are not orderly and beautiful yourselves — and so . . ."
The life-atoms made no reply. They were thinking as hard as they could when suddenly they looked around them and looked down to the next lower rung of the Ladder of Life that had suddenly become so real. And something stirred within them — not in all of them, but in many. These turned and looked down at the next rung, and the rungs below. And they bent down to clasp the little ones that were reaching up — why hadn't they looked down before! And a song came forth from their hearts:
"Come! don't be afraid! Reach up to us and we'll all come up higher together."
And Fohat heard it and said, "I have been waiting for just this. Now you are really ready to help me build a world — you were not ready before. ATTENTION!" The word soared outwards like the peal of a golden bell hung high in the canopy of the skies. "To your places! You shall help me build the first globe of a planet to be called Earth."
This new globe was made up of the finest, thinnest mist — so fine and airy that the air of our own rocky Earth is like a thick woolen blanket beside it. That world was so airy and transparent we could not have seen it with our eyes at all. But the atoms could, and to them it was as real as real. Trilling and caroling they looked about them as they whirled and danced. Below them were younger atoms belonging to the same great cosmic family. They too were happy, trailing along behind their older brothers, knowing they would be helped. For these were just beginning their adventures, and like human babies they needed love and care. Besides that, they were ready to be taught.
The misty, airy earth-globe, which now at last they were really building, was spinning round and round. It was slowly hardening, too, for Fohat was everywhere at once, breathing upon everything with his fiery, electric breath — Fohat the Magician, cosmic electricity.
How did the life-atoms work when they built the first earth-globe? What were their tools like? They built the globes with music, for the power to create, to build, lies in harmony, in musical, pulsating sound. Atoms sing because it is their nature to sing. Every atom is in constant movement, vibrating at speeds which the human mind cannot grasp; and each such speed had its own note, and the life-atom sings that note. So, if we could hear it, the life surrounding us would be one grand song. We would hear as a song the opening of a flower, and its growing would be like a changing melody. We could hear the grass grow, and every hair on our head as it lengthens, for growth is movement. How could it be otherwise in a world packed full, as this world is, of life-atoms, bubbling over with the will to learn, the will to do, the will to help and share and build.
"Attention!" Like a deep bell the command boomed out again. The life-atoms looked to their leaders, and then they found themselves moving round and round the earth-globe in a vast company. Like a stream, like a river they moved, a river of lives. And like the vast flowing stream that they were, they moved in dignity and beauty.
Seven times around the misty earth-globe this river flowed — this river made up of little lives who were that river in fact. They made seven great cycles spiraling round this first earth-globe, all the time learning and growing, until their work there was as complete as they could make it. It took them a long, long time.
Then the little atoms did just what you and I would do if we were traveling through the universe, helping to build it as we went. Their next adventure would be to move on ahead and, when the time came and Fohat called, to help him to begin another earth-globe, a second part of our living Earth. For planets, like people, are alive.
Flowing and streaming, eddying and surging and swirling in beauty, the life-atoms wondered what a globe was.
"I will tell you about the globes" — and there was Fohat. "What do you wish to know?"
"Globes? Then there isn't just one globe of the Earth?"
"Every planet is made up of seven globes. The seven globes we are building will together form the planet Earth. All the earth-globes together form one planet. The same life plays through them all, but each has its own special work, its own destiny. They are seven and separate, though together they form one Earth — one planet.
"You're going to build these earth-globes, and you'll see them, one by one, as they are built. The first one, as fine and transparent as a dewdrop, you are building right now. As you grow heavier, you will build the next globe. And the third one will be even coarser. The fourth globe, called Earth, will be the most material of all the seven because on this globe your clothes will be of the heaviest matter.
"But even so you will be invisible to Earth people. All their knowledge and all their microscopes will not give them the power to see or measure or weigh a single life-atom. All they can do with all their inventions is to see the tiny trail of light which you leave behind as you go whirling and singing on your way. But although these Earth-folk cannot see you yourselves, they know that you exist. But they have still to discover the ancient teaching, that at the heart of every atom is a spark of divinity."
"But after the fourth globe, what do we help you build? Still coarser globes?"
"No, that is the center and the pivot. From that time on, the earth-globes will be less heavy and more like the first one you have just built. Little by little all matter and weight will drop away until the seventh earth-globe shines forth like a sun."
And so this first day, filled with hard work and harder play and singing, reached its twilight. The next great adventure would be the building of the second earth-globe.
Have you ever read stories of pioneers — of brave, heroic souls, who set sail upon unknown seas or go forth into a wilderness to map new pathways, build new homes? They make the roadways that others only tread, mark the trails that others only follow, build the homes that others are to dwell in. In the same way the life-atoms are also pioneers. With motion hurrying them ahead, with Fohat leading them in song and in whirling, vibrating dance, joyously, bravely, they go forward into the unknown — atomic pioneers.
Now just as it takes billions of people to make a world, so also does it take trillions of life-atoms, and even more, to make the first of the pioneer kingdoms which sang the first earth-globe into being. For a globe is not built hit and miss, by trying this and trying that, without guidance or love. Nor could it be, for its destiny is to be, not just a name, but a place to live in, a home for souls to grow in.
What are souls? Life-atoms are baby-souls, taking their first look at a world just waking from its long, long sleep. The youngest are elementals, that is, beginning-souls that have sprung, as a plant springs from the soil, right from the heart of Mother Nature — only the life-atom springs from Nature in an invisible world, while the plants are on our visible Earth, which we humans can see, touch, breathe in its fragrance, taste of its fruit and grain, and hear the voice of the waterfall and the wind in the pines.
Life-atoms, wherever they are or whatever they may be doing, always begin another lesson when the earlier lessons have been learned. In this universe of ours there will always be life-atoms, families and kingdoms of them, as long as Father Sun's universe is awake, for it too is learning its lessons. It too has its "days" and its "nights." On life's ladder there will always be beginning souls, and older, wiser souls to teach them — for this universe is a cosmic school, and we are all learning and growing.
What do these elementals look like? What does electricity look like? A spark, a flash, and it's gone into its own invisible world. It could not be pictured as having a particular shape or form, for it has numberless shapes and forms. We can think of the elemental lives as energy, as beings of constant change, and forget about how they may look. Each in its own world is a tiny invisible point of light, in constant activity, radiantly alive, but by human eyes it cannot be seen at all.
Yet at the same time, we are seeing beginning souls all the time, for everything is a beginner to someone on a higher rung of life's ladder. Rocks and plants and animals and birds — these are beginning souls to human beings. We can see them because they are going through the earth-stage of their cosmic journey just as we are, and so have earth-bodies as we do.
But elemental souls do not remain "elemental." They grow just as we do. After all, we are elemental beings to the stars. All things in the universe have souls of their own type and kind — Nature would not be so unfair as to give little life-atoms souls and deny them to the animals, plants, or the radiant shining minerals, in which the atoms themselves are but building blocks.
These life-atom souls could not build a globe, however, without help from the gods. Some of the highest gods bent down and worked with the very youngest of the elementals so that the first earth-globe would not be a failure. It was the gods' plan that Fohat was entrusted with, which the tiny life-atoms led by Fohat followed down to the last and simplest design — a plan with divine thought behind it, with the life-atoms giving themselves proudly and gladly as the needed building blocks. How could it be any other way? Even with Fohat for a messenger, how could any but the loftiest of gods, the architects, carry out a plan as big as a world?
So at last the first earth-globe was built, shapely and beautiful, a worthy home for the next river of lives that would roll in. The life-atoms looked longingly at the next Magic Door, eager for their next adventure. But just as between two notes of music there is always a pause, a silence, even though so brief at times we cannot perceive it, so is there also a pause between the different stages of a cosmic plan. This time, however, was not a cosmic night. It was a twilight, a brief darkening, when Mother Nature pulls the curtains down and says to her life-atom family:
"Now children, no talking. I'm not putting you to bed, and of course you're not sleepy; but it's time for your nap. So lie down and shut your eyes, and be quiet."
And even a nap, when it's a cosmic nap, is not really short. But soon Mother Nature returns and pulls up the curtains to let the daylight in. In a twinkling the life-atoms were up, dressed in sunshine and dancing like merry stars. With good reason, for the greater part of her big atomic family would now leave the first earth-globe to help build the second one. What an adventure that would be!
"Come!" they sang. "Why wait? All we have to do now is to whirl through the Magic Door — and there it is! All we have to do is just go through it!"
"Not so fast," sang Fohat who, for all his thunder and glitter, could be loving as well as stern. "Come here!" and he drew them close, millions and trillions of them. "What about the baby-atoms who are growing too? Have you forgotten them? Is this what I have taught you: to think only about yourselves?"
The life-atoms stopped singing and looked around. Everyone seemed to be helping — Fohat, the builders, and the great one, the Architect, whom they had never seen. How could they be selfish and forgetful and just scamper on ahead?
"You know what you ought to do," said Fohat. "Look at the lovely kingdoms of life you made possible on the first earth-globe you have been building. You even built yourselves into the trillions of brothers of sea and earth and air that filled these kingdoms. Look at the nature-homes in which they are so happy. Do you want all this beauty to fall apart because you're too lazy to look after it?
"Some day a life-wave, a river of baby-atoms will roll in, just as you did so long ago. Wouldn't you like to keep this nature-home so that when they do come in they will have a home ready for them, with the kingdoms all happy and in order? But there is only one way to do it — "
"By staying behind! Of course we'll stay — we'll all stay! We just forgot!"
"Not all of you will be needed, and besides, not all of you could be spared, for who would there be to build the second earth-globe? So only a few of you can stay. And which life-atoms shall I choose?"
"The wisest and oldest, and the best among us, of course."
"You're right. Those who are older, who have tried hard to learn and grow, those who are unselfish and kind — they will be chosen to stay behind. And they shall be like the perfect seeds that are kept safe over the winter, from which, when springtime comes, new plants, new kingdoms, will arise."
So it came about that the finest and best of the little life-atoms remained behind as seeds. No more journeys now for them; no more growing, no more going to school or adventuring or climbing higher for a long, long, long time. just guarding the sleeping kingdoms -and waiting.
But what happened during the waiting time? How did the seed-atoms wait? It is what we are told in one of the oldest fairy tales — a story known in oldest Egypt, in oldest India, which we call Sleeping Beauty. Like Princess Beauty, all the household falls asleep, and all the retainers of the palace, all the animals and birds, all the plants and trees, even to the roses on the sweet-briar hedge — these too close their dainty petals to dream sweet dreams.
Just as the Princess is wakened by Prince Charming after a hundred years, so after ages come and go, the cosmic winter is over and the cosmic spring comes. Then the seed-atoms who stayed behind become wide awake again; and so the "palace" that we call the first earth-globe, and all the trillions of life-atoms come to this new home of theirs as the new river of lives rolls in. These also will be wide awake, eager to be welcomed and taught and led, eager to learn and grow, eager to belong.
The seed-atoms then knew why they had been chosen to remain. And they were chosen, for when the great ones set out to build a world nothing happens just by chance. Now they knew why it was grander to be seeds than anything else in the world, and why they were happier right there than they could possibly be anywhere else.
"Goodbye for a time!" said Fohat. "I must leave you for those who need me more. Others have gone ahead of you and higher, it's true: we call them pioneers. But you are greater pioneers — in patience, humility, wisdom, and service. Their reward will come before too long, yours not for ages. That is why those who know love the seed-atoms, those who remain behind to help and guide the life-waves or rivers of lives of all the kingdoms that are to come."
Did you ever wake up suddenly, with a feeling of surprise? Did you ever rise very early, with the dewdrops still sparkling and the Sun coming over the hills? You felt as if a magic window had been opened, that you were something grander than you had ever been before.
In this mood the life-atoms woke up one day. They were not "just themselves" as they had always thought — they were something greater, and something more. They were now parts of a grander life, helping to build it, helping it to grow. Not all of the life-atoms felt this, of course, but the brighter ones, the older ones, did, and these became leaders in their own right, under their great leaders, the architects whose plan they so closely followed.
At first they had been baby-atoms, wide-eyed, looking for someone to take them in hand, start them off upon some great adventure and tell them what to do until, cast off like sparks from a whirling sparkler, they found King Comet and crept into his heart. Then King Comet, having found his Sun-Father, stopped his wandering at last, and settled down into a smooth, nearly circular orbit around his Sun — a planet was about to be reborn.
And all along, the life-atoms had been adventuring with Fohat who gave them life and energy, who started them singing and set them whirling and dancing, now rushing close to each other, now rushing wide apart, some of them whirling one way, some the other; Fohat there too, telling them how to help him build a world, and how they would indeed fit into that airy invisible world, as hewn stones fit into a castle wall.
Then down from the god-world, far above, great helpers came: the celestial architects with their well-drawn plan; with builders, too, to help them. And the mighty work of building a world began, and in due course here was the misty, beautiful, orderly first earth-globe. Ages and ages of work and effort and obedience — but at last it was finished, a newborn world, teeming with life.
And then the second earth-globe had to be built, and the life-atoms were right there to build it, with their leaders and guides — the architects and their builders. And so with all the other earth-globes. Then when they built the last, all the life-atom children took a long, long nap.
After they woke up, they began to travel around the earth-globes again, starting with the first one.
"Why is it so easy the second time around?" they sang to Fohat. "We won't mind working on the other earth-globes at all."
And Fohat replied: "That's because your pioneering days are over. You followed the divine pattern, you helped the builders lay out the roads and raise the homes, with Nature's help.
"All the hard work of doing that you finished on the first trip around the earth-globes. Now they are here, all ready for you to strengthen them, make them more secure and dense. You won't have to do it again from scratch. The seed-atoms have been keeping them ready for you. That's why the second time around is easy! But there are great things still for you to do. Globe by globe you will build a home for human beings, with plants, trees, running brooks, oceans, and animals — many kinds of them in time.
"So will it be with the third trip around the earth-globes — only with a larger family of lives and Earth itself grown denser. And after that, a fourth trip, where you will learn to be human beings, and man, greater by far than man is now, will be the leader still."
For the human family on the third trip around the earth-globes were not human beings as we know them today. They were human, true, but only animal-human. The mankind of that day was huge and shadowy, airy and almost transparent — not at all like the human beings of our present earth-globe.
Man was, nevertheless, the leader of the hosts of Earth. Even animal-man was higher than the plants and the animals — more advanced than all the kingdoms below him; and he tried to lead, but in a blundering, feeble way. Mother Nature did her best, but Nature alone could not help man, for to be real human beings they must have what these earlier humans had not — the light of mind.
They had mind, of course, just as animals have and indeed all the lower kingdoms, but mind asleep, with no power of awakened intelligence. Just as an unlighted candle has the possibility of light within it, yet has no light to share with others, no power to make a dark room light, until it itself has been lighted.
It was this great human family that our life-atoms had been building from the beginnings of earthly time. It was this human race that the brightest and noblest of the life-atoms on the fourth trip around were a part of. Fohat, with their help, had caroled the earth-globes, and all that was on them, into being. But the gods knew this was not enough: man must be completely man. Even though he was their messenger, Fohat could not do that. Only gods could accomplish this.
So now the life-atoms were to take part in adventures the strangest, the most inspiring, and by far the most beautiful that even the wisest and oldest life-atoms could ever hope to have.
"How wonderful to be part of the human kingdom from the very beginning!" said one of the older life-atoms. "In fact we are that kingdom. That's why the architects trusted us to help Fohat build the Earth. By that plan we built all the globes, each with its own special rivers of life, its own life-waves, its own races, its own kingdoms."
"Now we have come for the fourth time to the fourth globe. Already we are in the middle of the third great race of mankind," another life-atom said. "How dense and dark and heavy this globe is getting!"
"You can't complain of that," Fohat answered. "It's like a shell protecting the delicate inner parts which you, like fairy harpers, have been building with your music — building so lovely, step by step, like notes of music marching across a page."
Yet, however dense and darkening, it was beautiful, the world of this third human race. Strange and lovely plant-life it had, and millions of little creatures of sea and sky — and large ones too — all looking upwards to the human kingdom, all attracted to it.
That was the sad part of it all, for while the mankind of that time was human, it was not completely so; it was still animal-human. Man, looking about him at the only world he knew — and no doubt looking up to powers above him that he could not name and could not see, because he yearned to go higher on the great ladder of life, but did not know how — gazing into Nature as if to say:
"Lift me! Help me! I would go higher; I want to be like you!"
And Nature replied: "I cannot help you to rise, save very slowly, very slowly . . ."
What could this mankind do but look up to Fohat — Fohat who was everywhere, in the lightning and the rain, in the thunder, wind, and storm — and mutely say, "Help me! I feel that I have wings, but I cannot rise. I feel the stirrings of a better life within me, yet I am .chained, I am bound. Why, Fohat, why?"
And sadly Fohat: "I have no power to give you wings."
But while all this was going on and even the skies wept in pity, great beings, gods, were listening at the borders of their world so far removed. And they were talking to each other.
"What is that globe — there? It must be Earth."
"Yes, Earth. With Mother Nature in its midst, longing to help its mankind to rise. Yet she has no power to help. Only we have that."
"Let us go down to man. Let us light that dormant mind. With our help all that mankind longs for will come to pass."
And here begins the story of the lighting of the mind of man. It is more beautiful than any story in the world, and older than the world itself, for it began in another and earlier world, and in an earlier chain of planet-globes. But we need not go back to the very beginning. It is enough to go back to the third great race of mankind on our present Earth, living on a vast continent that today has almost disappeared beneath the waters of the Pacific.
On that immense landmass there lived the human stock from which we all have come. But in that day, man was different from what we are now. He could not think as we do. He was gentle, trusting, like a little child. He was growing and learning but, animal-human, he could not go as the gods go, as an arrow, straight to the mark. He had desires, but he did not have awakened will.
He had not been forgotten, however, and the time came when on the loftier world of the gods, something generous and indeed magical was about to happen. For the great beings who dwelt there had passed through their human experience ages before. They had earned the boon of living in a heaven-world, and when they saw these animal-humans, they understood their need and pitied them and said:
"Let us make them divine-human — no longer animal-human only. Let us give them of our light. Let us give them a portion of ourselves." And so it was, and from that hour human beings had two natures, one of them divine, the other animal, sometimes indolent and selfish, even wicked and lower than an animal; at other times, inspired, loving, and compassionate.
"But how can you light human beings?"
How does one candle light another? How can it light, if need be, all the candles in the world, with its own light undiminished by a single atom? That is one of the mysteries which science has never unveiled.
But this is not all the story. Some of these godlike beings entered into a few of the nobler, more conscious human beings of that early day. As a light might enter a temple, by being carried in, and illumine the whole, the light of those godlike beings literally entered into mankind. The few whose minds were lighted, awakened and received the light because they were ready to receive it.
Most of those animal-humans received only a spark, a portion of the light. If they were unselfish as well as thoughtful, they became like candles — shedding light all around. They began to help their brothers, especially their younger brothers, up the ladder of life as the gods had helped them. Some were not ready at all and they could not receive even a gleam of it, just as light cannot penetrate a thick wall, whether made of cement or of sluggish brains.
If this fire of mind is so godlike and wise, why are we ever bad or stupid? Because like the third great race we really have two minds and cannot always tell which is which — selfishness makes people blind, and deaf also. We have not only the higher mind, a portion of the god within us, but also a lower, animal mind. And like a child, it must be taught. How many lives are often needed for such teaching! How often pain and suffering come to us, or worse still to others, because the animal-mind will have its way.
There is really no excuse for doing wrong if we have this divine light within us. Yet even if we received only a spark, with patient effort we can fan that spark and before long it will leap into flame. And many have done so. They are the real heroes, and like the life-atoms, they are in a true sense, pioneers.
"And what happens next?"
Just what happens to anyone, young or old, who after a good night's rest goes out to work or play — in office, store, or factory, on a playground or in school — and when weary returns home, because it is home. So is it with the life-atoms, only theirs is not a little atomic day, or even an Earth day. It is a cosmic day.
Happily indeed have the life-atoms worked and played on the Playground of the Dawn. But as the day of the planet Earth passed its noon, they saw that many of them were quite grown up. Those who were found worthy had been helped to grow by great beings who stood beside them, all unseen, on that vast playground. At first they had only to obey these great beings who were invisibly watching them, and then these great ones had said to them at last: "You are grown now in body, and now we shall light your minds and you will be even as we are. You will still observe the rules — but it will be by choice because obedience to cosmic law is service to the highest.
Yet in spite of that, you must take three more trips around the earth-globes before you find your way home again. Your cosmic day is not yet over. You have only reached the middle point now, on Earth, the fourth earth-globe.
"How do we get home?"
All worlds follow one great plan. In little things they may differ, and in grandeur of spirit and growth. But the plan remains unchanged. You differ among yourselves, don't you? This is because you can reason now, and you can talk. Earlier, you followed instinct only — now you have intuition, mind, and spiritual will. So from now onwards you will choose for yourself the path you take.
Never forget that you have two natures: one that is godlike, ever urging you to follow the pathway to the gods; the other urging even more strongly those who listen, to choose the downward way. You are the builders of Earth's future. The gods trace only the cosmic outline — you have to do the rest. "Tell us — which of the two paths are we following now?"
You are now at the turning point between them. Swept along in the vast, turbulent river of lives, you are now just past the lowest point of the great cycle of the Earth's day, where you leave the downward way to begin the long climb up the path of light. There is a battle of the waters at all such turning points on every planet-globe, and it is here that the dividing of the ways must take place.
"Dividing? Are we still in this river of lives?" We are all in it now, for this great sweeping river is made up of lives: lives that are evil, lives that are great in goodness, and all degrees in between. Some go upwards into a greater light; a few are so heavy with selfishness and wrongdoing that their very weight pulls them down to even more material realms and holds them there. Others simply go to sleep right where they are, to wait until the next river of lives gathers and rolls in, when they will wake up, to begin life's earthly lessons over again. There is no punishment or suffering involved, nor anything unjust.
"What do the animals do, and the trees and plants and stones? They aren't bad."
They too will fall quietly asleep — even now they are falling asleep before our eyes as the river of lives begins its upward course. Here is the picture in a nutshell: all the kingdoms are free to go as high on life's great ladder as they can, but instinct is never enough. There must be intuition as well as godlike mind. The unready ones naturally drop behind, but there is no blame. They simply wait for another chance to grow and learn on our Earth.
"But what about the ones who are awake, who strive and climb and help others all along the way — the ones with the light of mind?"
It is they who will build the higher globes. If they never cease striving and never forget to be kind, a shining destiny will be theirs, a progress ever higher until, the seventh trip around the earth-globes completed, they will enter a divine home, a shining world where only gods may dwell.
Meanwhile over the mountaintops there shines another Magic Door inviting the life-atoms to go still higher — achievement and "perfection" have no end. Refreshed and rested now, they turn away even from that godlike home. Tomorrow they are off for new adventures, loftier worlds — all but a few who, remembering the kingdoms far below, stop at the entrance and turn back. These hear, like bell-tones, the immortal words:
Never will I enter bliss alone. Always and forever will I stay until the last and weakest among those struggling below have reached their divine home.
So will it be, unceasing and forever.
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