Theosophical University Press Online Edition
This is, then, the last word of physical science up to the present year, 1888. Mechanical laws will never be able to prove the homogeneity of primeval matter, except inferentially and as a desperate necessity, when there will remain no other issue — as in the case of Ether. Modern Science is secure only in its own domain and region; within the physical boundaries of our solar system, beyond which everything, every particle of matter, is different from the matter it knows: which matter exists in states of which Science can form no idea. That matter, which is truly homogeneous, is beyond human perceptions, if perception is tied down merely to the five senses. We feel its effects through those intelligence which are the results of its primeval differentiation, whom we name Dhyan-Chohans; called in the Hermetic works the “Seven Governors,” those to whom Pymander, the “Thought Divine,” refers as the Building Powers, and whom Asklepios calls the “Supernal Gods.” That matter — the real primordial substance, the noumenon of all the “matter” we know of, — even some of the astronomers have been led to believe in, and to despair of the possibility of ever accounting for rotation, gravitation, and the origin of any mechanical physical laws — unless these Intelligences be admitted by Science. In the above-quoted work upon astronomy, by Wolf,* the author endorses fully the theory of Kant, and the latter, if not in its general aspect, at any rate in some of its features, reminds one strongly of certain esoteric teachings. Here we have the world’s system reborn from its ashes, through a nebula; the emanation from the bodies, dead and dissolved in Space — resultant of the incandescence of the solar centre reanimated by the combustible matter of the planets. In this theory, generated and developed in the brain of a young man hardly twenty-five years of age, who had never left his native place, a small town of Northern Prussia (Konigsberg) one can hardly fail to recognise either an inspiring external power, or the reincarnation which the Occultists see in it. It fills a gap which Newton, with all his genius, failed to bridge. And surely it is our primeval matter, Akasa, that Kant had in view, when proposing to solve Newton’s difficulty and his failure to explain, by the natural forces, the primitive impulse imparted to the planets, by the postulation of a universally pervading primordial substance. For, as he remarks in chapter viii., if it is once admitted that the perfect harmony of the stars and planets and
* “Les Hypotheses Cosmogoniques. Examen des Theories Scientifiques modernes sur l’Origine des Mondes, suivi de la Traduction de la Theorie du Ciel de Kant.”
the coincidence of their orbital planes prove the existence of a natural cause, which would thus be the primal cause, “that cause cannot really be the matter which fills to-day the heavenly spaces.” It must be that which filled space — was space — originally, whose motion in differentiated matter was the origin of the actual movements of the sidereal bodies; and which, “in condensing itself in those very bodies, thus abandoned the space that is found void to-day.” In other words, it is that same matter of which are now composed the planets, comets, and the Sun himself, which, having in the origin formed itself into those bodies, has preserved its inherent quality of motion; which quality, now centred in their nuclei, directs all motion. A very slight alteration of words is needed, and a few additions, to make of this our Esoteric Doctrine.
The latter teaches that it is this original, primordial prima materia, divine and intelligent, the direct emanation of the Universal Mind — the Daiviprakriti (the divine light emanating from the Logos*) — which formed the nuclei of all the “self-moving” orbs in Kosmos. It is the informing, ever-present moving-power and life-principle, the vital soul of the suns, moons, planets, and even of our Earth. The former latent: the last one active — the invisible Ruler and guide of the gross body attached to, and connected with, its Soul, which is the spiritual emanation, after all, of these respective planetary Spirits.
Another quite occult doctrine is the theory of Kant, that the matter of which the inhabitants and the animals of other planets are formed is of a lighter and more subtle nature and of a more perfect conformation in proportion to their distance from the Sun. The latter is too full of Vital Electricity, of the physical, life-giving principle. Therefore, the men on Mars are more ethereal than we are, while those of Venus are more gross, though far more intelligent, if less spiritual.
The last doctrine is not quite ours — yet those Kantian theories are as metaphysical, and as transcendental as any occult doctrines; and more than one man of Science would, if he but dared speak his mind, accept them as Wolf does. From this Kantian mind and soul of the Suns and Stars to the Mahat (mind) and Prakriti of the Puranas, there is but a step. After all, the admission of this by Science would be only the admission of a natural cause, whether it would or would not stretch its belief to such metaphysical heights. But then Mahat, the mind, is a “God,” and physiology admits “mind” only as a temporary function of the material brain, and no more.
The Satan of Materialism now laughs at all alike, and denies the visible as well as the invisible. Seeing in light, heat, electricity, and even in the phenomenon of life, only properties inherent in matter, it
* Which “Light” we call Fohat.
laughs whenever life is called Vital Principle, and derides the idea of its being independent of and distinct from the organism.
But here again scientific opinions differ as in everything else, and there are several men of science who accept views very similar to ours. Consider, for instance, what Dr. Richardson, F.R.S. (elsewhere quoted at length) says of that “Vital principle,” which he calls “nervous ether” (“Popular Science Review,” Vol. 10): —
“I speak only of a veritable material agent, refined, it may be, to the world at large, but actual and substantial: an agent having quality of weight and of volume, an agent susceptible of chemical combination, and thereby of change of physical state and condition, an agent passive in its action, moved always, that is to say, by influences apart from itself,* obeying other influences, an agent possessing no initiative power, no vis or energia naturae,† but still playing a most important, if not a primary part in the production of the phenomena resulting from the action of the energeia upon visible matter” (p. 379).
As Biology and Physiology now deny, in toto, the existence of a “vital principle,” this extract, together with de Quatrefages’ admission, is a clear confirmation that there are men of science who take the same views about “things occult” as theosophists and occultists do. These recognise a distinct vital principle independent of the organism — material, of course, as physical force cannot be divorced from matter, but of a substance existing in a state unknown to Science. Life for them is something more than the mere interaction of molecules and atoms. There is a vital principle without which no molecular combinations could ever have resulted in a living organism, least of all in the so-called “inorganic” matter of our plane of consciousness.
By “molecular combinations” is meant, of course, those of the matter of our present illusive perceptions, which matter energises only on this, our plane. And this is the chief point at issue.‡
* This is a mistake, which implies a material agent, distinct from the influences which move it, i.e. blind matter and perhaps “God” again, whereas this one Life is the very God and Gods “Itself.”
† The same error.
‡ “Is the Jiva a myth, as science says, or is it not?” ask some Theosophists, wavering between materialistic and idealistic Science. The difficulty of really grasping esoteric problems concerning the “ultimate state of matter” is again the old crux of the objective and the subjective. What is matter? Is the matter of our present objective consciousness anything but our sensations? True, the sensations we receive come from without, but can we really (except in terms of phenomena) speak of the “gross matter” of this plane as an entity apart from and independent of us? To all such arguments Occultism answers: True, in reality matter is not independent of, or existent outside, our perceptions. Man is an illusion: granted. But the existence and actuality of other, still more illusive, but not less actual, entities than we are, is not a claim which is lessened, but rather strengthened by this doctrine of Vedantic and even Kantian Idealism.
Thus the Occultists are not alone in their beliefs. Nor are they so foolish, after all, in rejecting even the “gravity” of modern Science along with other physical laws, and in accepting instead attraction and repulsion. They see, moreover, in these two opposite Forces only the two aspects of the universal unit, called “Manifesting Mind”; in which aspects, Occultism, through its great Seers, perceives an innumerable Host of operative Beings: Cosmic Dhyan-Chohans, Entities, whose essence, in its dual nature, is the Cause of all terrestrial phenomena. For that essence is co-substantial with the universal Electric Ocean, which is Life; and being dual, as said — positive and negative — it is the emanations of that duality that act now on earth under the name of “modes of motion”; even Force having now become objectionable as a word, for fear it should lead someone, even in thought, to separate it from matter! It is, as Occultism says, the dual effects ofthat dual essence, which have now been called centripetal and centrifugal forces, negative and positive poles, or polarity, heat and cold, light and darkness, etc., etc.
And it is maintained that even the Greek and Roman Catholic Christians, are wiser in believing, as they do — even if blindly connecting and tracing them all to an anthropomorphic god — in Angels, Archangels, Archons, Seraphs, and Morning Stars: in all those theological Deliciae humani generis, in short, that rule the cosmic elements, than Science is, in disbelieving in them altogether, and advocating its mechanical Forces. For these act very often with more than human intelligence and pertinency. Nevertheless, that intelligence is denied and attributed to blind chance. But, as De Maistre was right in calling the law of gravitation merely a word which replaced “the thing unknown” (Soirees), so are we right in applying the same remark to all the other Forces of Science. And if it is objected that the Count was an ardent Roman Catholic, then we may cite Le Couturier, as ardent a materialist, who said the same thing, as also did Herschell and many others. (Vide Musee des Sciences, August, 1856.)
From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being — the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. The law of Analogy is the first key to the world-problem, and these links have to be studied co-ordinately in their occult relations to each other.
When, therefore, the Secret Doctrine — postulating that conditioned or limited space (location) has no real being except in this world of illusion, or, in other words, in our perceptive faculties — teaches that every one of the higher, as of the lower worlds, is interblended with our own objective world; that millions of things and beings are, in point of
localization, around and in us, as we are around, with, and in them; it is no metaphysical figure of speech, but a sober fact in Nature, however incomprehensible to our senses.
But one has to understand the phraseology of Occultism before criticising what it asserts. For example, the Doctrine refuses (as Science does, in one sense) to use the words “above” and “below,” “higher” and “lower,” in reference to invisible spheres, as being without meaning. Even the terms “East” and “West” are merely conventional, necessary only to aid our human perceptions. For, though the Earth has its two fixed points in the poles, North and South, yet both East and West are variable relatively to our own position on the Earth’s surface, and in consequence of its rotation from West to East. Hence, when “other worlds” are mentioned — whether better or worse, more spiritual or still more material, though both invisible — the Occultist does not locate these spheres either outside or inside our Earth, as the theologians and the poets do; for their location is nowhere in the space known to, and conceived by, the profane. They are, as it were, blended with our world — interpenetrating it and interpenetrated by it. There are millions and millions of worlds and firmaments visible to us; there still greater numbers beyond those visible to the telescopes, and many of the latter kind do not belong to our objective sphere of existence. Although as invisible as if they were millions of miles beyond our solar system, they are yet with us, near us, within our own world, as objective and material to their respective inhabitants as ours is to us. But, again, the relation of these worlds to ours is not that of a series of egg-shaped boxes enclosed one within the other, like the toys called Chinese nests; each is entirely under its own special laws and conditions, having no direct relation to our sphere. The inhabitants of these, as already said, may be, for all we know, or feel, passing through and around us as if through empty space, their very habitations and countries being interblended with ours, though not disturbing our vision, because we have not yet the faculties necessary for discerning them. Yet by their spiritual sight the Adepts, and even some seers and sensitives, are always able to discern, whether in a greater or smaller degree, the presence and close proximity to us of Beings pertaining to other spheres of life. Those of the (spiritually) higher worlds, communicate only with those terrestrial mortals who ascend to them, through individual efforts, on to the higher plane they are occupying. . . .
“The sons of Bhumi (Earth) regard the Sons of Deva-lokas (angel-spheres) as their gods; and the Sons of lower kingdoms look up to the men of Bhumi, as to their devas (gods); men remaining unaware of it in their blindness. . . . They (men) tremble
before them while using them (for magical purposes). . . . The first Race of Men were the “Mind-born sons” of the former. They (the pitris and devas) are our progenitors. . . . (Book II. of Commentary on the Book of DZYAN.)
“Educated people,” so-called, deride the idea of Sylphs, Salamanders, Undines, and Gnomes; the men of science regard as an insult any mention of such superstitions; and with a contempt of logic and common good sense, that is often the prerogative of “accepted authority,” they allow those, whom it is their duty to instruct, to labour under the absurd impression that in the whole Kosmos, or at any rate in our own atmosphere, there are no other conscious, intelligent beings, save ourselves.* Any other humanity (composed of distinct human beings) than a mankind with two legs, two arms, and a head with man’s features on it, would not be called human; though the etymology of the word would seem to have little to do with the general appearance of a creature. Thus, while Science sternly rejects even the possibility of there being such (to us, generally) invisible creatures, Society, while believing in it all secretly, is made to deride the idea openly. It hails with mirth such works as the Count de Gabalis, and fails to understand that open satire is the securest mask.
Nevertheless, such invisible worlds do exist. Inhabited as thickly as our own is, they are scattered throughout apparent Space in immense number; some far more material than our own world, others gradually etherealizing until they become formless and are as “Breaths.” That our physical eye does not see them, is no reason to disbelieve in them; physicists can see neither their ether, atoms, nor “modes of motion,” or Forces. Yet they accept and teach them.
If we find, even in the natural world with which we are acquainted, matter affording a partial analogy in the difficult conception of such invisible worlds, there seems little difficulty in recognizing the possibility of such a presence. The tail of a comet, which, though attracting our attention by virtue of its luminosity, yet does not disturb or impede our vision of objects, which we perceive through and beyond it, affords the first stepping-stone toward a proof of the same. The tail of a comet passes rapidly across our horizon, and we should neither feel it, nor be cognizant of its passage, but for the brilliant coruscation, often perceived only by a few interested in the phenomenon, while everyone else remains ignorant of its presence and passage through, or across, a portion of our globe. This tail may, or may not, be an integral portion of the being of the comet, but its tenuity sub-
* Even the question of the plurality of worlds inhabited by sentient creatures is rejected or approached with the greatest caution! And yet see what the great astronomer, Camille Flammarion, says in his “Pluralite des Mondes.”
serves our purpose as an illustration. Indeed, it is no question of superstition, but simply a result of transcendental science, and of logic still more, to admit the existence of worlds formed of even far more attenuated matter than the tail of a comet. By denying such a possibility, Science has played for the last century into the hands of neither philosophy nor true religion, but simply into those of theology. To be able to dispute the better the plurality of even material worlds, a belief thought by many churchmen incompatible with the teachings and doctrines of the Bible,* Maxwell had to calumniate the memory of Newton, and try to convince his public that the principles contained in the Newtonian philosophy are those “which lie at the foundation of all atheistical systems.” (Vide Vol. II., “Plurality of Worlds.”)
“Dr. Whewell disputed the plurality of worlds by appeal to scientific evidence,” writes Professor Winchell.† And if even the habitability of physical worlds, of planets, and distant stars which shine in myriads over our heads is so disputed, how little chance is there for the acceptance of invisible worlds within the apparently transparent space of our own!
But, if we can conceive of a world composed (for our senses) of matter still more attenuated than the tail of a comet, hence of inhabitants in it who are as ethereal, in proportion to their globe, as we are in comparison with our rocky, hard-crusted earth, no wonder if we do not perceive them, nor sense their presence or even existence. Only, in what is the idea contrary to science? Cannot men and animals, plants and rocks, be supposed to be endowed with quite a different set of senses from those we possess? Cannot their organisms be born, developed, and exist, under other laws of being than those that rule our little world? Is it absolutely necessary that every corporeal being should be clothed in “coats of skin” like those that Adam and Eve were provided with in the legend of Genesis? Corporeality, we are told, however, by more than one man of science, “may exist under very divergent conditions.”‡ Do not we know through the
* Nevertheless, it will be shown on the testimony of the Bible itself, and of such good Christian theologians as Cardinal Wiseman, that this plurality is taught in both the Old and the New Testaments.
† See “The Plurality of the Worlds,” wherein the list of many men of Science, who wrote to prove the theory, is given.
‡ Professor A. Winchell — arguing upon the plurality of the worlds — makes the following remarks: “It is not at all improbable that substances of a refractory nature might be so mixed with other substances, known or unknown to us, as to be capable of enduring vastly greater vicissitudes of heat and cold than is possible with terrestrial organisms. The tissues of terrestrial animals are simply suited to terrestrial conditions. Yet even here we find different types and species of animals adapted to the trials of extremely dissimilar situations. . . . . . That an animal should be a quadruped or a [[Footnote continued on next page]]
discoveries of that very all-denying science that we are surrounded by myriads of invisible lives? If these microbes, bacteria and the tutti quanti of the infinitesimally small, are invisible to us by virtue of their minuteness, cannot there be, at the other pole of it, beings as invisible owing to the quality of their texture or matter — to its tenuity, in fact? Conversely, as to the effects of cometary matter, have we not another example of a half visible form of life and matter? The ray of sunlight entering our apartment, reveals in its passage myriads of tiny beings living their little life and ceasing to be, independent and heedless of whether they are perceived or not by our grosser materiality. And so again, of the microbes and bacteria and such-like unseen beings in other elements. We passed them by, during those long centuries of dreary ignorance, after the lamp of knowledge in the heathen and highly philosophical systems had ceased to throw its bright light on the ages of intolerance and bigotry during early Christianity; and we would fain pass them by again now.
And yet these lives surrounded us then as they do now. They have worked on, obedient to their own laws, and it is only as they were gradually revealed by Science that we have begun to take cognisance of them, as of the effects produced by them.
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] biped is something not depending on the necessities of organization, or instinct, or intelligence. That an animal should possess just five senses is not a necessity of percipient existence. There may be animals on the earth with neither smell nor taste. There may be beings on other worlds, and even on this, who possess more numerous senses than we. The possibility of this is apparent when we consider the high probability that other properties and other modes of existence lie among the resources of the Kosmos, and even of terrestrial matter. There are animals which subsist where rational man would perish — in the soil, in the river, and the sea” . . . (and why not human beings of different organizations, in such case?) . . . “Nor is incorporated rational existence conditioned on warm blood, nor on any temperature which does not change the forms of matter of which the organism may be composed. There may be intelligences corporealized after some concept not involving the processes of injection, assimilation, and reproduction. Such bodies would not require daily food and warmth. They might be lost in the abysses of the ocean, or laid up on a stormy cliff through the tempests of an Arctic winter, or plunged in a volcano for a hundred years, and yet retain consciousness and thought. It is conceivable. Why might not psychic natures be enshrined in indestructible flint and platinum? These substances are no further from the nature of intelligence than carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and lime. But, not to carry the thought to such an extreme (?), might not high intelligences be embodied in frames as indifferent to external conditions as the sage of the western plains, or the lichens of Labrador, the rotifers that remain dried for years, or the spores of bacteria which pass living through boiling water. . . . These suggestions are made simply to remind the reader how little can be argued respecting the necessary conditions of intelligent, organized existence, from the standard of corporeal existence found upon the earth. Intelligence is, from its nature, as universal and as uniform as the laws of the Universe. Bodies are merely the local fitting of intelligence to particular modifications of universal matter or Force.” (World-Life, or Comparative Geology, pp. 496-498 et seq.)
How long has it taken the world, as it is now, to become what it is? If it can be said of cosmic dust that some of it comes to the present day “which had never belonged to the earth before” (“World-Life”), how much more logical to believe — as the Occultists do — that through the countless ages and millions of years that have rolled away, since that dust aggregated and formed the globe we live in around its nucleus of intelligent primeval substance — many humanities, differing from our present mankind, as greatly as the one which will evolve millions of years hence will differ from our races, appeared but to disappear from the face of the earth, as our own will. Those primitive and far-distant humanities, having, as geologists think, left no tangible relics of themselves, are denied. All trace of them is swept away, and therefore they have never existed. Yet their relics — a very few of them, truly — are to be found, and they have to be discovered by geological research. Though, even if they were never to be met with, there is no reason to say that no men could have ever lived in those geological times, to which the period of their presence on earth is assigned. For their organisms needed no warm blood, no atmosphere, no feeding; the author of “World-Life” is right, and it is no such great extreme to believe even as we do, that as there may be, on scientific hypotheses, “psychic natures enshrined in indestructible flint and platinum” to this day, so there were psychic natures enshrined in forms of equal indestructible primeval matter — the real forefathers of our fifth race.
When we speak, therefore, as in Book II., of men who inhabited this globe 18,000,000 years back, we have in the mind neither the men of our present races, nor the present atmospheric laws, thermal conditions, etc. The Earth and mankind, like the Sun, Moon, and planets, have all their growth, changes, developments, and gradual evolution in their life-periods; they are born, become infants, then children, adolescents, grown-up bodies, grow old, and finally die. Why should not Mankind be also under this universal law? Says Uriel to Enoch: “Behold, I have showed thee all things. Thou seest the Sun, Moon, and those which conduct the stars of heaven, which cause all their operations, seasons, and arrivals to return. . . . In the days of sinners the years shall be shortened . . . everything done on Earth shall be subverted . . . the moon shall change its laws” . . . etc. (Ch. lxxix.)
The “days of Sinners” meant the days when matter would be in its full sway on Earth, and man would have reached the apex of physical development in stature and animality. That came to pass during the period of the Atlanteans, about the middle point of their Race (the 4th), which was drowned as prophesied by Uriel. Since then man began decreasing in physical stature, strength, and years, as will be shown in
Book II. But as we are in the mid-point of our sub-race of the Fifth Root Race — the acme of materiality in each — therefore the animal propensities, though more refined, are not the less developed for that: and they are so chiefly in civilized countries.
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