Theosophical University Press Online Edition
[[This page continued from previous section]]
The wise words of several (English) men of Science have now to be quoted in our favour. Ostracised for “principle’s sake” by the few, they are tacitly approved of by the many. That one of them preaches almost Occult doctrines, in some things identical with, and often amounting to a public recognition of our “Fohat and his seven Sons” —
the Occult Gandharva of the Vedas — will be recognised by every Occultist, and even by some profane readers.
If the latter open Volume V. of the Popular Science Review (pp. 329-334), they will find in it an article on “Sun Force and Earth Force,” by Dr. B. W. Richardson, F.R.S., which reads as follows: —
“At this moment, when the theory of mere motion as the origin of all varieties of force is again becoming the prevailing thought, it were almost heresy to re-open a debate, which for a period appears, by general consent, to be virtually closed; but I accept the risk, and shall state, therefore, what were the precise views of the immortal heretic, whose name I have whispered to the readers, (Samuel Metcalfe), respecting Sun Force. Starting with the argument on which nearly all physicists are agreed, that there exist in nature two agencies — matter which is ponderable, visible, and tangible, and a something which is imponderable, invisible, and appreciable only by its influence on matter — Metcalfe maintains that the imponderable and active agency which he calls ‘caloric’ is not a mere form of motion, not a vibration amongst the particles of ponderable matter, but itself a material substance flowing from the Sun through Space,* filling the voids between the particles of solid bodies, and conveying by sensation the property called heat. The nature of caloric, or Sun-Force, is contended for by him on the following grounds: —
“(i.) That it may be added to, and abstracted from other bodies and measured with mathematical precision.
“(ii.) That it augments the volume of bodies, which are again reduced in size by its abstraction.
“(iii.) That it modifies the forms, properties, and conditions of all other bodies.
“(iv.) That it passes by radiation through the most perfect vacuum† that can be formed, in which it produces the same effects on the thermometer as in the atmosphere.
“(v.) That it exerts mechanical and chemical forces which nothing can restrain, as in volcanoes, the explosion of gunpowder, and other fulminating compounds.
“(vi.) That it operates in a sensible manner on the nervous system, producing intense pain; and when in excess, disorganization of the tissues.
“As against the vibratory theory, Metcalfe further argues that if caloric were a mere property or quality, it could not augment the volume of other bodies; for this purpose it must itself have volume, it must occupy space, and it must, therefore, be a material agent. If caloric were only the effect of vibratory motion amongst the particles of ponderable matter, it could not radiate from hot bodies without the simultaneous transition of the vibrating particles; but the fact stands out that heat can radiate from material ponderable substance without
* Not only “through space,” but filling every point of our solar system, for it is the physical residue, so to say, of Ether, its lining on our plane; Ether having to serve other cosmic and terrestrial purposes besides being the “agent” for transmitting light. It is the astral fluid or “Light” of the Kabalists, and the “Seven rays” of Sun-Vishnu.
† What need, then, of etheric waves for the transmission of light, heat, etc., if this substance can pass through vacuum?
loss of weight of such substance. . . . With this view as to the material nature of caloric or sun-force; with the impression firmly fixed on his mind that ‘everything in Nature is composed of two descriptions of matter, the one essentially active and ethereal, the other passive and motionless,’* Metcalfe based the hypothesis that the Sun-force, or caloric, is a Self-active principle. For its own particles, he holds, it has repulsion; for the particles of all ponderable matter it has affinity; it attracts the particles of ponderable matter with forces which vary inversely as the squares of the distance. It thus acts through ponderable matter. If universal space were filled with caloric, sun-force, alone (without ponderable matter), caloric would also be inactive and would constitute a boundless Ocean of powerless or quiescent ether, because it would then have nothing on which to act, while ponderable matter, however inactive of itself, has ‘certain properties by which it modifies and controls the actions of caloric, both of which are governed by immutable laws that have their origin in the mutual relations and specific properties of each.’
“And he lays down a law which he believes is absolute, and which is thus expressed: —
“ ‘By the attraction of caloric for ponderable matter, it unites and holds together all things; by its self-repulsive energy it separates and expands all things.’ “
This, of course, is almost the occult explanation of cohesion. Dr. Richardson continues: —
“As I have already said, the tendency of modern teaching is to rest upon the hypothesis . . . that heat is motion, or, as it would, perhaps, be better stated, a specific force or form of motion.†
“But this hypothesis, popular as it is, is not one that ought to be accepted to the exclusion of the simpler views of the material nature of sun-force, and of its influence in modifying the conditions of matter. We do not yet know sufficient to be dogmatic.”‡
. . . “The hypothesis of Metcalfe respecting sun-force and earth-force is not only very simple, but most fascinating. . . . Here are two elements in the Universe, the one is ponderable matter . . . The second element is the all-pervading Ether, solar-fire. It is without weight, substance, form, or colour; it is matter infinitely divisible, and its particles repel each other; its rarity
* And how can it be otherwise? Gross ponderable matter is the body, the Shell of matter or Substance, the female passive principle; and this Fohatic force is the second principle, prana — the male and the active? On our globe this Substance is the second principle of the septenary Element — Earth; in the atmosphere, it is that of air, which is the cosmic gross body; in the Sun it becomes the Solar body and that of the Seven rays; in sidereal space it corresponds with another principle, and so on. The whole is a homogeneous Unity alone, the parts are all differentiations.
† Or the reverberation, and for sound, repercussion on our plane of that which is a perpetual motion of that Substance on higher planes. Our world and senses are victims of Maya, ceaselessly.
‡ An honest admission, that.
is such that we have no word, except ether,* by which to express it. It pervades and fills space, but alone it too is quiescent — dead.† We bring together the two elements, the inert matter, the self-repulsive Ether (?) and thereupon dead (?) ponderable matter is vivified”; [Ponderable matter may be inert but never dead — this is Occult Law. — H.P.B.] . . . “through the particles of the ponderable substance the ether [Ether’s second principle. — H.P.B.] penetrates, and, so penetrating, it combines with the ponderable particles and holds them in mass, holds them together in bond of union; they are dissolved in the Ether.”
“This distribution of solid ponderable matter through ether extends, according to the theory before us, to everything that exists at this moment. The ether is all-pervading. The human body itself is charged with the ether [Say astral light. — H.P.B.]; its minute particles are held together by it; the plant is in the same condition; the most solid earth, rock, adamant, crystal, metal, all are the same. But there are differences in the capacities of different kinds of ponderable matter to receive sun-force, and upon this depends the various changing conditions of matter; the solid, the liquid, the gaseous condition. Solid bodies have attracted caloric in excess over fluid bodies, and hence their firm cohesion; when a portion of molten zinc is poured upon a plate of solid zinc, the molten zinc becomes as solid because there is a rush of caloric from the liquid to the solid, and in the equalization the particles, previously loose or liquid, are more closely brought together. . . . Metcalfe himself, dwelling on the above-named phenomena, and accounting for them by the unity of principle of action, which has already been explained, sums up his argument in very clear terms, in a comment on the densities of various bodies. ‘Hardness and softness’ (he says), ‘solidity and liquidity, are not essential conditions of bodies, but depend on the relative proportions of ethereal and ponderable matter of which they are composed. The most elastic gas may be reduced to the liquid form by the abstraction of caloric, and again converted into a firm solid, the particles of which would cling together with a force proportional to their augmented affinity for caloric. On the other hand, by adding a sufficient quantity of the same principle to the densest metals, their attraction for it is diminished when they are expanded into the gaseous state, and their cohesion is destroyed.’ “
Having thus quoted at length the heterodox views of the great “heretic” — views that need only a little alteration of terms here and there, the same eminent scientist — an original and liberal thinker, undeniably — proceeds to sum up those views, and continues: —
* Yet it is not Ether, but only one of the principles of Ether, the latter being itself one of the principles of Akasa.
† And so does prana (Jiva) pervade the whole living body of man; but alone, without having an atom to act upon, it would be quiescent — dead; i.e., would be in laya, or as Mr. Crookes has it, “locked in protyle.” It is the action of Fohat upon a compound or even a simple body that produces life. When a body dies it passes into the same polarity as its male energy and repels therefore the active agent, which, losing hold of the whole, fastens on the parts or molecules, this action being called chemical. Vishnu, the Preserver, transforms himself into Rudra-Siva, the Destroyer — a correlation seemingly unknown to Science.
“I shall not dwell at great length on this unity of sun-force and earth, which this theory implies. But I may add that out of it, or out of the hypothesis of mere motion as force, and of virtue without substance, we may gather, as the nearest possible approach to the truth on this, the most complex and profound of all subjects, the following inferences: —
“(a) Space, inter-stellary, inter-planetary, inter-material, inter-organic, is not a vacuum, but is filled with a subtle fluid or gas, which for want of a better term* we may still call, as the ancients did, Aith-ur — Solar fire, AEther. This fluid, unchangeable in composition, indestructible, invisible,† pervades everything and all [ponderable. — H. P. B.] matter,‡ the pebble in the running brook, the tree overhanging, the man looking on, is charged with the ether in various degree; the pebble less than the tree, the tree less than man. All in the planet is in like manner so charged! A world is built up in ethereal fluid, and moving through a sea of it.
“(b) The Ether, whatever its nature is, is from the sun and from the suns§ the suns are the generators of it, the store-houses of it, the diffusers of it.||
“(c.) Without the ether there could be no motion; without it particles of ponderable matter could not glide over each other; without it there could be no impulse to excite those particles into action.
“(d.) Ether determines the constitution of bodies. Were there no ether there could be no change of constitution in substance; water, for instance, could only exist as a substance, compact and insoluble beyond any conception we could form of it. It could never even be ice, never flint, never vapour, except for ether.
“(e) Ether connects sun with planet, planet with planet, man with planet, man with man. Without ether there could be no communication in the Universe; no light, no heat, no phenomenon of motion.”
Thus we find that Ether and elastic atoms are, in the alleged mechanical conception of the Universe, the Spirit and Soul of Kosmos, and that the theory — put it any way and under whatever disguise — always leaves a more widely opened issue for men of
* Verily, unless the occult terms of the Kabalists are adopted!
† “Unchangeable” only during Manvantaric periods, after which it merges once more into Mulaprakriti; “invisible” for ever, in its own essence, but seen in its reflected coruscations, called the Astral light by the modern Kabalists. Yet, conscious and grand Beings clothed in that same Essence move in it.
‡ One has to add (ponderable), to distinguish it from that Ether which is matter still, though a substratum.
§ The Occult Sciences reverse the statement, and say that it is the sun, and all the suns that are from it, which emanate at the Manvantaric dawn from the Central Sun.
|| Here, we decidedly beg to differ with the learned gentleman. Let us remember that this AEther, whether Akasa is meant by the term, or its lower principle, Ether — is septenary. Akasa is Aditi in the allegory, and the mother of Marttanda (the sun), the Deva-matri — “Mother of the gods.” In the solar system, the sun is her Buddhi and Vahan, the Vehicle, hence the 6th principle; in Kosmos all the suns are the Kama rupa of Akasa and so is ours. It is only when regarded as an individual Entity in his own Kingdom that Surya (the sun) is the 7th principle of the great body of matter.
Science to speculate beyond the line drawn by modern materialism — or call it agnosticism rather, to be more correct* — than the majority avails itself of. Atoms, Ether, or both, modern speculation cannot get out of the circle of ancient thought; and the latter was soaked through with archaic occultism. Undulatory or corpuscular theory — it is all one. It is speculation from the aspects of phenomena, not from the knowledge of the essential nature of the cause and causes. When modern Science has explained to its audience the late achievements of Bunsen and Kirchoff, and shown the seven colours, the “primary” of a ray which is decomposed in a fixed order on a screen; and described the respective lengths of luminous waves, what has it proved? It has justified its reputation for exactness in mathematical achievement by measuring even the length of a luminous wave — “varying from about seven hundred and sixty millionths of a millimetre at the red end of the spectrum to about three hundred and ninety-three millionths of a millimetre at the violet end.” But when the exactness of the calculation with regard to the effect on the light-wave is thus vindicated, Science is forced to admit that the force (which is the supposed cause) is believed to produce “inconceivably minute undulations” in some medium — “generally regarded as identical with the ethereal medium”† — and that medium itself is still only — a “hypothetical agent!”
Auguste Comte’s pessimism with respect to the impossibility of knowing some day the chemical composition of the sun, has not been belied thirty years later by Kirchoff, as claimed. The spectroscope has helped us to see that the elements, with which the modern chemist is familiar, must in all probability be present in the sun’s outward robes — not in the sun itself; and, taking these “robes,” the solar cosmic veil, for the sun itself, the physicists have declared its luminosity to be due to combustion and flame, and have mistaken the vital principle of that luminary for a purely material thing, and called it “chromosphere.”‡ We have hypotheses and theories only so far, not law — by any means.
* Brutal but frank materialism is more honest than Janus-faced agnosticism in our days. Monism is the Pecksniff of modern philosophy, turning a pharisaical face to psychology and idealism, and its natural face of a Roman Augur, swelling his cheek with his tongue — to Materialism. The Monists are worse than the Materialists; because, while looking at the Universe and psycho-spiritual man from the same negative stand-point, the latter put their case far less plausibly than sceptics of Mr. Tyndall’s or even Mr. Huxley’s stamp. Herbert Spencer, Bain and Lewes are more dangerous to universal truths than Buchner.
† “Geology,” by Professor A. Winchell.
‡ See Five Years of Theosophy — Articles: “Do the Adepts deny the nebular theory?” and “Is the Sun merely a cooling mass?” — for the true Occult teaching.