Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Millions of years have dropped into Lethe, leaving no more recollection in the memory of the profane than the few millenniums of the orthodox Western chronology as to the origin of Man and the history of the primeval races.
All depends on the proofs found for the antiquity of the Human Race. If the still-debated man of the Pliocene or even the Miocene period was the Homo primigenius, then science may be right (argumenti causa) in basing its present anthropology — as to the date and mode of origin of “Homo sapiens” — on the Darwinian theory.* But if the skeletons of man should, at any time, be discovered in the Eocene strata, but no fossil ape, thereby proving the existence of man prior to the anthropoid — then Darwinians will have to exercise their ingenuity in another direction. And it is said in well-informed quarters that the XXth century will be yet in its earliest teens, when such undeniable proof of Man’s priority will be forthcoming.
Even now evidence is brought forward that the dates for the foundations of cities, civilizations and various other historical events have been absurdly curtailed. This was done as a peace-offering to Biblical chronology. “No date,” writes the well-known Palaeontologist, Ed. Lartet, “is to be found in Genesis, which assigns a time for the birth of primitive humanity”; but chronologists have for fifteen centuries endeavoured to force the Bible facts into agreement with their systems. Thus, no less than one hundred and forty different opinions have been formed about the single date of “Creation”; “and between the extreme variations there is a discrepancy of 3,194 years, in the reckoning of the period between the beginning of the world and the birth of Christ.† Within the last few years, archaeologists have had to throw back by nearly 3,000 years also the beginnings of Babylonian civilization. On the
* It may here be remarked that those Darwinians, who with Mr. Grant Allen, place our “hairy arboreal” ancestors so far back as the Eocene Age, are landed in rather an awkward dilemma. No fossil anthropoid ape — much less the fabulous common ancestor assigned to Man and the Pithecoid — appears in Eocene strata. The first presentment of an anthropoid ape is Miocene.
† Ed. Lartet, “Nouvelles Recherches sur la co-existence de l’homme et des Grands Mammiteres Fossils de la derniere periode Geologique.” Annales des Soc. Nat., t. XV., p. 256.
foundation cylinder deposited by Nabonidus, the Babylonian king, conquered by Cyrus — are found the records of the former, in which he speaks of his discovery of the foundation stone that belonged to the original temple built by Naram-Sin, son of Sargon, of Accadia, the conqueror of Babylonia, who, says Nabonidus, lived 3,200 years before his own time.”
We have shown in Isis that those who based history on the Jewish Chronology (a race which had none of its own and rejected the Western till the XIIth century) would lose themselves, for the Jewish account could only be followed through Kabalistic computation, and with a key to it in the hand. . . We had characterised the late George Smith’s chronology of the Chaldeans and Assyrians, made by him to fit in with that of Moses, as quite fantastic. And now, in this respect at least, later Assyriologists have corroborated our denial. For, whereas G. Smith makes Sargon I. (the prototype of Moses in his legend) reign in the city of Akkad about 1600 B.C. — probably out of a latent respect for Moses, whom the Bible makes to flourish 1571 B.C. — we now learn from the first of the six Hibbert lectures delivered by Professor A. H. Sayce, of Oxford, in 1887, that: “Old views of the early annals of Babylonia and its religions have been much modified by recent discovery. The first Semitic Empire, it is now agreed, was that of Sargon of Accad, who established a great library, patronized literature, and extended his conquests across the sea into Cyprus. It is now known that he reigned as early as B.C. 3750.” “The Accadian monuments found by the French at Tel-loh must be even older, reaching back to about B.C. 4,000,” in other words, to the fourth year of the World’s creation agreeably with Bible chronology, and when Adam was in his swaddling clothes. Perchance, in a few years more, the 4,000 years may be further extended. The well-known Oxford lecturer remarked during his disquisitions upon “The origin and Growth of Religion as illustrated by the Babylonian Religion” that: “The difficulties of systematically tracing the origin and history of the Babylonian Religion were considerable. The sources of our knowledge of the subject were almost wholly monumental, very little help being obtainable from classical or Oriental writers. Indeed, it was an undeniable fact that the Babylonian priesthood intentionally swaddled up the study of the religious texts in coils of almost insuperable difficulty.” That they have confused the dates, and especially the order of events “intentionally,” is undeniable, and for a very good reason: their writings and records were all esoteric. The Babylonian priests did no more than the Priests of other ancient nations. Their records were meant only for the Initiates and their disciples, and it is only the latter who were furnished with the keys to the true meaning. But Professor
Sayce’s remarks are promising. For he explains the difficulty by saying that as — “the Nineveh library contained mostly copies of older Babylonian texts, and the copyists pitched upon such tablets only as were of special interest to the Assyrian conquerors, belonging to a comparatively late epoch, this added much to the greatest of all our difficulties — namely, our being so often left in the dark as to the age of our documentary evidence, and the precise worth of our materials for history.” Thus one has a right to infer that some still fresher discovery may lead to a new necessity for pushing the Babylonian dates so far beyond the year 4,000 B.C., as to make them pre-Kosmic in the judgment of every Bible worshipper.
How much more would paleontology have learned had not millions of works been destroyed! We talk of the Alexandrian literary lore, which has been thrice destroyed, namely, by Julius Caesar B.C. 48, in A.D. 390, and lastly in the year 640, A.D., by the general of Kaliph Omar. What is this in comparison with the works and records destroyed in the primitive Atlantean Libraries, wherein records are said to have been traced on the tanned skins of gigantic antediluvian monsters? Or again the destruction of the countless Chinese books by command of the founder of the Imperial Tsin dynasty, Tsin Shi Hwang-ti, in 213 B.C.? Surely the brick-clay tablets of the Imperial Babylonian Library, and the priceless treasures of the Chinese collections could have never contained such information as one of the aforesaid “Atlantean” skins would have furnished to the ignorant world.
But even with the extremely meagre data at hand, Science has been able to see the necessity of throwing back nearly every Babylonian date, and has done so quite generously. We learn from Professor Sayce that even the archaic statues at Tel-loh, in Lower Babylonia, have suddenly been assigned a date contemporary with the fourth dynasty in Egypt. Unfortunately, dynasties and Pyramids have the fate of geological periods; their dates are arbitrary, and depend on the respective whims of the men of science. Archaeologists know now, it is said, that the afore-mentioned statues are fashioned out of green diorite, that can only be got in the Peninsula of Sinai; and “they accord in the style of art, and in the standard of measurement employed, with the similar diorite statues of the pyramid builders of the third and fourth Egyptian dynasties. . . . . Moreover, the only possible period for a Babylonian occupation of the Sinaitic quarries must be placed shortly after the close of the epoch at which the pyramids were built; and thus only can we understand how the name of Sinai could have been derived from that of Sin, the primitive Babylonian moon-god.” This is very logical, but what is the date fixed for these “dynasties”? Sanchoniathon’s and Manetho’s Synchronistic tables and their figures have been rejected, or whatever
remained of these after holy Eusebius’ handling of them; and still we have to remain satisfied with the four or five thousand years B.C. so liberally allotted to Egypt. At all events one point is gained. There is, at last, a city on the face of the earth which is allowed, at least, 6,000 years, and it is Eridu. Geology has found it out. According to Professor Sayce again, —
“They are now also able to obtain time for the silting up of the head of the Persian Gulf, which demands a lapse of between 5,000 and 6,000 years since the period when Eridu, now twenty-five miles inland, was the seaport at the mouth of the Euphrates, and the seat of Babylonian commerce with Southern Arabia and India. More than all, the new chronology gives time for the long series of eclipses recorded in the great astronomical work called ‘The Observations of Bel’; and we are also enabled to understand the otherwise perplexing change in the position of the vernal equinox, which has occurred since our present zodiacal signs were named by the Earliest Babylonian astronomers. When the Accadian calendar was arranged and the Accadian months were named, the sun at the vernal equinox was not, as now, in Pisces, or even in Aries, but in Taurus. The rate of the precession of the equinoxes being known, we learn that at the vernal equinox the sun was in Taurus from about 4,700 years B.C., and we thus obtain astronomical limits of date which cannot be impugned.”*
It may make our position plainer if we state at once that we use Sir C. Lyell’s nomenclature for the ages and periods, and that when we talk of the Secondary and Tertiary age, of the Eocene, Miocene and Pliocene periods — this is simply to make our facts more comprehensible. Since these ages and periods have not yet been allowed fixed and determined durations, 2 1/2 and 15 million years being assigned at different times to one and the same age (the Tertiary) — and since no two geologists and naturalists seem to agree on this point — Esoteric teachings may remain quite indifferent to whether man is shown to appear in the Secondary or the Tertiary age. If the latter age may be allowed even so much as 15 million years’ duration — well and good; for the Occult doctrine, jealously guarding its real and correct figures as far as concerns the First, Second, and two-thirds of the Third Root-Race — gives clear information upon one point only — the age of “Vaivasvata Manu’s humanity.” (Vide Part I., Vol. II., “Chronology of the Brahmins.”)
Another definite statement is this: It is during the so-called Eocene period that the continent to which the Fourth Race belonged, and on which it lived and perished, showed the first symptoms of sinking. And it was in the Miocene age, that it was finally destroyed — save the little island mentioned by Plato. It is these points that have to be checked by the scientific data.
* From a Report of the “Hibbert Lectures, 1887. Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion, and Illustrated by the Religion of the Ancient Babylonians.” By A. H. Sayce. (London: Williams and Norgate.)
Modern Scientific Speculations about the Ages of the Globe, Animal Evolution, and Man.
May we not be permitted to throw a glance at the works of Specialists? The work on “Comparative Geology: the World-Life,” by Prof. A. Winchell, furnishes us with curious data. Here we find an opponent of the Nebular theory, a reverend gentleman, smiting with all the force of the hammer of his odium theologicum on the rather contradictory hypothesis of the great stars of Science, in the matter of sidereal and cosmical phenomena based on their respective relations to terrestrial durations. The “too imaginative physicists and naturalists” do not fare very easily under this shower of their own speculative figures when placed side by side, and cut rather a sorry figure. Thus he shows: —
“Sir William Thomson, on the basis of the observed principles of cooling, concludes that no more than ten million years (elsewhere he makes it 100,000,000) can have elapsed since the temperature of the Earth was sufficiently reduced to sustain vegetable life.* Helmholz calculates that twenty million years would suffice for the original nebula to condense to the present dimensions of the sun. Prof. S. Newcomb requires only ten millions to attain a temperature of 212° Fahr.† Croll estimates seventy million years for the diffusion of the heat, etc.‡ Bischof calculates that 350 million years would be required for the earth to cool from a temperature of 2,000° to 200° Centigrade. Read, basing his estimate on observed rates of denudation, demands 500 million years since sedimentation began in Europe.§ Lyell ventured a rough guess of 240 million years; Darwin thought 300 million years demanded by the organic transformations which his theory contemplates, and Huxley is disposed to demand a 1,000 millions” (!!).
To this Prof. Winchell observes that “some biologists . . . . seem to close their eyes tight and leap at one bound into the abyss of millions of years, of which they have no more adequate estimate than of infinity.”|| Then he proceeds to give what he takes to be more correct geological figures: a few will suffice.
According to Sir W. Thomson “the whole incrusted age of the world is 80,000,000 years”; and agreeably with Prof. Houghton’s calculations of a minimum limit for the time since the elevation of
* Nat. Philos. App. D., Trans. Royal Soc., Edin.
† “Popular Astronomy,” p. 509.
‡ “Climate and Time,” p. 335.
§ Read. Address, “Liverpool Geolog. Society, 1876.”
|| “World-Life,” p. 180.
Europe and Asia, three hypothetical ages for three possible and different modes of upheaval are given: varying from the modest figures of 640,730 years, through 4,170,000 years to the tremendous figures of 27,491,000 years!!
This is enough, as one can see, to cover our claims for the four continents and even the figures of the Brahmins.
Further calculations, the details of which the reader may find in Prof. Winchell’s work,* bring Houghton to an approximation of the sedimentary age of the globe — 11,700,000 years. These figures are found too small by the author, who forthwith extends them to 37,000,000 years.
Again, according to Croll,† 2,500,000 years “represents the time since the beginning of the Tertiary age” in one work; and according to another modification of his view, 15,000,000 only have elapsed since the beginning of the Eocene period;‡ which, being the first of the three Tertiary periods, leaves the student suspended between 2 1/2 and 15 millions. But if one has to hold to the former moderate figures, then the whole incrusted age of the world would be 131,600,000 years.§
As the last glacial period extended from 240,000 to 80,000 years ago (Prof. Croll’s view), therefore, man must have appeared on earth from 100 to 120,000 years ago. But, as says Prof. Winchell, with reference to the antiquity of the Mediterranean race, “it is generally believed to have made its appearance during the later decline of the continental glaciers.” Yet, he adds, this “does not concern, however, the antiquity of the Black and Brown races, since there are numerous evidences of their existence in more southern regions, in times remotely pre-glacial” (p. 379).
As a specimen of geological certainty and agreement, these figures also may be added. Three authorities — Messrs. T. Belt, F.G.S.; J. Croll, F.R.S.; and Robert Hunt, F.R.S., — in estimating the time that has elapsed since the Glacial epoch, give absolutely different figures, namely: —
Mr. Belt ........ 20,000 years.
Mr. J. Croll ... 240,000 “
Mr. R. Hunt ... 80,000 ”
* “World-Life,” pp. 367-8.
† “Climate and Time.”
‡ Quoted in Mr. Ch. Gould’s “Mythical Monsters,” p. 84.
§ According to Bischof, 1,004,177 years — according to Chevandier’s calculations 672,788 years — were required for the so-called coal formation. “The tertiary strata, about 1,000 feet in thickness, required for their development about 350,000 years.” See “Force and Matter,” Buchner, J. F. Collingwood’s edition.
(But see “The Ice-Age Climate and Time,” Popular Science Review, Vol. xiv., p. 242.)
No wonder if Mr. Pengelly confesses that “it is at present and perhaps always will be impossible to reduce, even approximately, geological time into years or even into millenniums” (Vide supra, foot-note). A wise word of advice from the Occultists to the gentlemen geologists: they ought to imitate the cautious example of Masons. As chronology, they say, cannot measure the era of the creation, therefore, their “Ancient and Primitive Rite” uses 000,000,000 as the nearest approach to reality.
The same uncertainty, contradictions and disagreement reign on all other subjects.
The scientific authorities on the Descent of Man are again, for all practical purposes, a delusion and a snare. There are many anti-Darwinists in the British Association, and “Natural Selection” begins to lose ground. Though at one time the saviour, which seemed to rescue the learned theorists from a final intellectual collapse into the abyss of fruitless hypothesis, it begins to be distrusted. Even Mr. Huxley is showing signs of truancy to “Selection,” and thinks “natural selection not the sole factor”: —
“We greatly suspect that she (Nature) does make considerable jumps in the way of variation now and then, and that these saltations give rise to some of the gaps which appear to exist in the series of known forms” (Review of Kolliker’s Criticisms).
Again, in “Fallacies of Darwinism,” (p. 160), C. R. Bree, M.D., argues in this wise in considering the fatal gaps in Mr. Darwin’s theory: —
“It must be again called to mind that the intermediate forms must have been vast in numbers. . . . . Mr. St. George Mivart believes that change in evolution may occur more quickly than is generally believed; but Mr. Darwin sticks manfully to his belief, and again tells us ‘natura non facit saltum’ ” — wherein the Occultists are at one with Mr. Darwin.
Esoteric teaching fully corroborates the idea of nature’s slowness and dignified progression. “Planetary impulses” are all periodical. Yet this Darwinian theory, correct as it is in minor particulars, agrees no more with Occultism than with Mr. Wallace, who, in his “Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection,” shows pretty conclusively that something more than “natural selection” was requisite to produce physical man.
Let us, meanwhile, examine the scientific objections to this scientific theory, and see what they are.
Mr. St. George Mivart is found arguing that —
. . . . “. . . . it will be a moderate computation to allow 25,000,000 for the deposition of the strata down to and including the Upper Silurian. If,
then, the evolutionary work done during this deposition only represents a hundredth part of the sum total, we shall require 2,500,000,000 years for the complete development of the whole animal Kingdom to its present state. Even one quarter of this, however, would far exceed the time which physics and astronomy seem able to allow for the completion of this process. Finally, a difficulty exists as to the reason of the absence of rich fossiliferous deposits in the oldest strata — if life was then as abundant and varied, as on the Darwinian theory it must have been. Mr. Darwin himself admits ‘the case at present must remain inexplicable’; and this may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views entertained in his own work. . . . .
“Thus, then, we find a wonderful (and on Darwinian principles all but inexplicable) absence of minutely transitional forms. All the most marked groups . . . . . appear at once upon the scene. Even the horse, the animal whose pedigree has been probably best preserved, affords no conclusive evidence of specific origin by infinitesimal fortuitous variations; while some forms, as the labyrinthodonts and trilobites, which seemed to exhibit gradual change, are shown by further investigation to do nothing of the sort. . . . All these difficulties are avoided if we admit that new forms of animal life of all degrees of complexity appear from time to time with comparative suddenness, being evolved according to laws in part depending on surrounding conditions, in part internal — similar to the way in which crystals (and perhaps from recent researches the lowest forms of life) build themselves up according to the internal laws of their component substance and in harmony and correspondence with all environing influences and conditions.” (“Genesis of Species,” p. 142.)
“The internal laws of their component substance.” These are wise words, and the admission of the possibility, a prudent one. But how can these internal laws be ever recognized, if Occult teaching is discarded? As a friend writes, while drawing our attention to the above speculations: “In other words, the doctrine of Planetary Life-Impulses must be admitted. Otherwise, why are species now stereotyped, and why do even domesticated breeds of pigeons and many animals relapse into their ancestral types when left to themselves?” But the teaching about planetary life-impulses has to be clearly defined and as clearly understood if present confusion would not be made still more perplexing. All these difficulties would vanish as the shadows of night disappear before the light of the rising Sun, if the following esoteric axioms were admitted: (a) the enormous antiquity (and the existence) of our planetary chain; (b) the actuality of the Seven Rounds; (c) the separation of human races (outside the purely anthropological division) into Seven distinct Root-Races, of which our present European Humanity is the fifth; (d) the antiquity of Man in this (Fourth) Round; and finally (e) that as these Races evolve from ethereality to materiality, and from the latter back again into relative physical tenuity of texture, so every living (so-called) organic species of animals with vegetation included, changes with every new Root-Race. Were this admitted, if even only
along with other, and surely, on maturer consideration, no less absurd, suppositions, if Occult theories have to be considered “absurd” at present, then every difficulty would be made away with. Surely, Science ought to try and be more logical than it now is, as it can hardly maintain the theory of man’s descent from an anthropoidal ancestor, and deny in the same breath any reasonable antiquity to that man! Once Mr. Huxley talks of “the vast intellectual chasm between the man and ape,” and “the present enormous gulf between the two,”* and if he admits the necessity of extending Scientific allowances for the age of man on earth for such slow and progressive development, then all those men of Science, who are of his way of thinking, at any rate, ought to come to some approximate figures, at least, and agree upon the probable duration of those Pliocene, Miocene, and Eocene periods of which so much is said, and about which nothing definite is known — if they dare not venture beyond. But no two scientists seem to agree. Every period seems to be a mystery in its duration, and a thorn in the side of the geologists; and, as just shown, they are unable to harmonize their conclusions even with regard to the comparatively recent geological formations. Thus, no reliance can be placed on their figures when they do give any, for with them it is all either millions or simply thousands of years!
That which is said may be strengthened by the confessions made by themselves and the synopsis of it, found in that “Circle of Sciences,” the Encyclopaedia Britannica, which shows the mean accepted in the geological and anthropological riddles. In that work the cream of the most authoritative opinions is skimmed off; nevertheless, we find in it the refusal to assign any definite chronological date, even to such, comparatively speaking, late epochs as the Neolithic era, though, for a wonder, an age is established for the beginnings of certain geological periods; at any rate of some few, the duration of which could hardly be shortened any more, without an immediate conflict with facts.
Thus, it is surmised in the great Encyclopaedia (Vol. X., art. “Geology,” p. 227), that “100 million years have passed . . . . . since the solidification of our Earth, when the earliest form of life appeared upon it.†”
But it seems quite as hopeless to try to convert the modern Geologists and Ethnologists as it is to make Darwinian Naturalists perceive their mistakes. About the Aryan Root-Race and its origins,
* “Man’s Place in Nature,” p. 102, note.
† “100,000,000 of years is probably amply sufficient for all the requirements of Geology,” says the text. In France, some savants do not find it nearly “sufficient.” Le Couturier claims for the same 350 million years; Buffon was satisfied with 34 millions — but there are those in the more modern schools who will not be content under 500 million years.
Science knows as little as of the men from other planets. With the exception of Flammarion and a few mystics among astronomers, even the habitableness of other planets is mostly denied. Yet such great adept astronomers were the Scientists of the earliest races of the Aryan stock, that they seem to have known far more about the races of Mars and Venus than the modern Anthropologist knows of those of the early stages of the Earth.
Let us leave modern Science aside for a moment and turn to ancient knowledge. As we are assured by Archaic Scientists that all such geological cataclysms — from the upheaval of oceans, deluges, and shifting of continents, down to the present year’s cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal waves, and even the extraordinary weather and seeming shifting of seasons which perplexes all European and American meteorologists — are due to, and depend on the moon and planets; aye, that even modest and neglected constellations have the greatest influence on the meteorological and cosmical changes, over, and within our earth, let us give one moment’s attention to our sidereal despots and rulers of our globe and men. Modern Science denies any such influence; archaic Science affirms it. We may see what both say with regard to this question.
On Chains of Planets and their Plurality.
Did the Ancients know of worlds besides their own? What are the data of the Occultists in affirming that every globe is a septenary chain of worlds — of which only one member is visible — and that these are, were, or will be, “man-bearing,” just as every visible star or planet is? What do they mean by “a moral and physical influence” of the sidereal worlds on our globes?
Such are the questions often put to us, and they have to be considered from every aspect. To the first of the two queries the answer is: — We believe it because the first law in nature is uniformity in diversity, and the second — analogy. “As above, so below.” That time is gone by for ever, when, although our pious ancestors believed that our earth was in the centre of the universe, the church and her arrogant servants could insist that we should regard as a blasphemy the supposition that any other planet could be inhabited. Adam and Eve, the Serpent, and the Original Sin followed by atonement through blood, have been too long in the way, and thus was universal truth sacrificed to the insane conceit of us little men.
Now what are the proofs thereof? Except inferential evidence and logical reasoning, there are none for the profane. To the Occultists, who believe in the knowledge acquired by countless generations of Seers and Initiates, the data offered in the Secret Books are all-sufficient. The general public needs other proofs, however. There are some Kabalists and even some Eastern Occultists, who, failing to find uniform evidence upon this point in all the mystic works of the nations, hesitate to accept the teaching. Even such “uniform evidence” will be forthcoming presently. Meanwhile, we may approach the subject from its general aspect, and see whether belief in it is so very absurd, as some scientists along with other Nicodemuses would have it. Unconsciously, perhaps, in thinking of a plurality of inhabited “Worlds,” we imagine them to be like the globe we inhabit and peopled by beings more or less resembling ourselves. And in so doing we are only following a natural instinct. Indeed, so long as the enquiry is confined to the life-history of this globe we can speculate on this question with some profit, and ask ourselves what were the “Worlds” spoken of in all the ancient scriptures of Humanity, with some hope of at least asking an intelligible question. But how do we know (a) what kind of Beings inhabit the globes in general; and (b) whether those who rule planets superior to our own, do not exercise the same influence on our earth consciously, that we may exercise unconsciously — say on the small planets (planetoids or asteroids) in the long run, by our cutting the Earth to pieces, opening canals, and thereby entirely changing our climates. Of course, like Caesar’s wife, the planetoids cannot be affected by our suspicion. They are too far, etc., etc. Believing in esoteric astronomy, however, we are not so sure of that.
But when, extending our speculations beyond our planetary chain, we try to cross the limits of the solar system, then indeed we act as do presumptuous fools. For — while accepting the old Hermetic axiom: “As above, so below” — we may well believe that as Nature on Earth displays the most careful economy, utilizing every vile and waste thing in her marvellous transformations, and withal never repeating herself — we may justly conclude that there is no other globe in all her infinite systems so closely resembling this earth that the ordinary powers should be able to imagine and reproduce its semblance and containment.*
* We are taught that the highest Dhyan Chohans, or Planetary Spirits (beyond the cognizance of the law of analogy), are in ignorance of what lies beyond the visible planetary systems, since their essence cannot assimilate itself to that of worlds beyond our solar system. When they reach a higher stage of evolution these other universes will be open to them; meanwhile they have complete knowledge of all the worlds within and beneath the limits of our solar system.
And indeed we find in the romances as in all the so-called scientific fictions and spiritistic revelations from moon, stars, and planets, merely fresh combinations or modifications of the men and things, the passions and forms of life with which we are familiar, when even on the other planets of our own system nature and life are entirely different from ours. Swedenborg was pre-eminent in inculcating such an erroneous belief.
But even more. The ordinary man has no experience of any state of consciousness other than that to which the physical senses link him. Men dream; they sleep the profound sleep which is too deep for dreams to impress the physical brain; and in these states there must still be consciousness. How, then, while these mysteries remain unexplored, can we hope to speculate with profit on the nature of globes which, in the economy of nature, must needs belong to states of consciousness other and quite different from any which man experiences here?
And this is true to the letter. For even great adepts (those initiated of course), trained seers though they are, can claim thorough acquaintance with the nature and appearance of planets and their inhabitants belonging to our solar system only. They know that almost all the planetary worlds are inhabited, but can have access to — even in spirit — only those of our system; and they are also aware how difficult it is, even for them, to put themselves into full rapport even with the planes of consciousness within our system, but differing from the states of consciousness possible on this globe; i.e., on the three planes of the chain of spheres beyond our earth. Such knowledge and intercourse are possible to them because they have learned how to penetrate to planes of consciousness which are closed to the perceptions of ordinary men; but were they to communicate their knowledge, the world would be no wiser, because it lacks that experience of other forms of perception which alone could enable them to grasp what was told them.
Still the fact remains that most of the planets, as the stars beyond our system, are inhabited, a fact which has been admitted by the men of science themselves. Laplace and Herschell believed it, though they wisely abstained from imprudent speculation; and the same conclusion has been worked out and supported with an array of scientific considerations by C. Flammarion, the well-known French Astronomer. The arguments he brings forward are strictly scientific, and such as to appeal even to a materialistic mind, which would remain unmoved by such thoughts as those of Sir David Brewster, the famous physicist, who writes: —
“Those ‘barren spirits’ or ‘base souls,’ as the poet calls them, who might be led to believe that the Earth is the only inhabited body in the universe, would have no difficulty in conceiving the earth also to
have been destitute of inhabitants. What is more, if such minds were acquainted with the deductions of geology, they would admit that it was uninhabited for myriads of years; and here we come to the impossible conclusion that during these myriads of years there was not a single intelligent creature in the vast domains of the Universal King, and that before the protozoic formations there existed neither plant nor animal in all the infinity of space”!*
Flammarion shows, in addition, that all the conditions of life — even as we know it — are present on some at least of the planets, and points to the fact that these conditions must be much more favourable on them than they are on our Earth.
Thus scientific reasoning, as well as observed facts, concur with the statements of the seer and the innate voice in man’s own heart in declaring that life — intelligent, conscious life — must exist on other worlds than ours.
But this is the limit beyond which the ordinary faculties of man cannot carry him. Many are the romances and tales, some purely fanciful, others bristling with scientific knowledge, which have attempted to imagine and describe life on other globes. But one and all, they give but some distorted copy of the drama of life around us. It is either, with Voltaire, the men of our own race under a microscope, or, with de Bergerac, a graceful play of fancy and satire; but we always find that at bottom the new world is but the one we ourselves live in. So strong is this tendency that even great natural, though non-initiated seers, when untrained, fall a victim to it; witness Swedenborg, who goes so far as to dress the inhabitants of Mercury, whom he meets with in the spirit-world, in clothes such as are worn in Europe.
Commenting on this tendency, Flammarion in his work “Sur la Pluralite des Mondes habites,” says: — “It seems as if in the eyes of those authors who have written on this subject, the Earth were the type of the Universe, and the Man of Earth, the type of the inhabitants of the heavens. It is, on the contrary, much more probable, that, since the nature of other planets is essentially varied, and the surroundings and conditions of existence essentially different, while the forces which preside over the creation of beings and the substances which enter into their mutual constitution are essentially distinct, it would follow that our mode of existence cannot be regarded as in any way applicable to other globes.
* Since no single atom in the entire Kosmos is without life and consciousness, how much more then its mighty globes? — though they remain sealed books to us men who can hardly enter even into the consciousness of the forms of life nearest us?
We do not know ourselves, then how can we, if we have never been trained to it and initiated, fancy that we can penetrate the consciousness of the smallest of the animals around us?
Those who have written on this subject have allowed themselves to be dominated by terrestrial ideas, and fell therefore into error.” (“Pluralite des Mondes,” p. 439.)
But Flammarion himself falls into the very error which he here condemns, for he tacitly takes the conditions of life on earth as the standard by which to determine the degree to which other planets are adapted for habitation by “other Humanities.”
Let us, however, leave these profitless and empty speculations, which, though they seem to fill our hearts with a glow of enthusiasm and to enlarge our mental and spiritual grasp, do but in reality cause a factitious stimulation, and blind us more and more to our ignorance not only of the world we inhabit, but even of the infinitude contained within ourselves.
When, therefore, we find in the Bibles of Humanity “other worlds” spoken of, we may safely conclude that they not only refer to other states of our planetary chain and Earth, but also to other inhabited globes — stars and planets; withal, that the latter were never speculated upon. The whole of antiquity believed in the Universality of life. But no really initiated seer of any civilized nation has ever taught that life on other stars could be judged by the standard of terrestrial life. That which is generally meant by “earths” and worlds, relates (a) to the “rebirths” of our globe after each manvantara and a long period of “obscuration”; and (b) to the periodical and entire changes of the Earth’s surface, when Continents disappear, to make room for Oceans, and Oceans and Seas are violently displaced and sent rolling to the poles, to cede their emplacements to new Continents.
We may begin with the Bible — the youngest of the World-Scriptures. In Ecclesiastes, chap. i., we read these words of the King-Initiate: — “One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth for ever,” and again, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done, is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun.” Under these words it is not easy to see the reference to the successive cataclysms by which the Races of mankind are swept away, or, going further back, to the various transitions of the globe during the process of its formation. But if we are told that this refers only to our world as we now see it, — then we shall refer the reader to the New Testament, where St. Paul speaks (in Hebrews i.) of the Son (the manifested Power) whom (God) hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds (plural.)*
* This relates to the Logos of every Cosmogony. The unknown Light — with which he is said to be co-eternal and coeval — is reflected in the “First-Born,” the Protogonos; [[Footnote continued on next page]]
This “Power” is Hokhmah or (Chochmah) the Wisdom and the Word. We shall probably be told that by this term “worlds,” the stars, heavenly bodies, etc., were meant. But apart from the fact that “stars” were not known as “worlds” to the ignorant editors of the Epistles, if even they must have been known to Paul, who was an Initiate (“a Master-Builder”), we can quote on this point an eminent theologian, Cardinal Wiseman. In Vol. I, p. 309, of his work treating of the indefinite period of the six days — or shall we say “too definite” — period of the six days of creation and the 6,000 years, he confesses that we are in total darkness upon the meaning of that statement of St. Paul, unless we are permitted to suppose that allusion is made in it, i.e., the period which elapsed between the first and second verses of chapter i. of Genesis — to those primitive revolutions, i.e., the destructions and the re-productions (of the world) indicated in chapter i. of Ecclesiastes; or, to accept, with so many others, and in its literal sense, the passage (Hebrews i. 1,) that speaks of the creation of worlds — in plural. . . . . It is very singular, he adds, that all the cosmogonies should agree to suggest the same idea, and preserve the tradition of a first series of revolutions, owing to which the world was destroyed and again renewed.
Had the Cardinal studied the Zohar his doubts would have changed to certitude. Thus saith Idra Suta (in the “Zohar,” iii., 292, c.): “There were old worlds which perished as soon as they came into existence; worlds with and without form called Scintillas — for they were like the sparks under the Smith’s hammer, flying in all directions. Some were the primordial worlds which could not continue long, because the ‘aged’ — his name be sanctified — had not as yet assumed his form,* the workman was not yet the ‘Heavenly man.’ ”† Again in the Midrash, written long before the Kabala of Simeon Ben Iochai, Rabbi Abahu explains: — “The Holy One, blessed be his name, has successively formed and destroyed sundry worlds before this one‡ . . . Now this refers both to the first races (the “Kings of Edom”) and to the worlds destroyed.”§ “Destroyed” means here what we call
[[Footnote continued from previous page]] and the Demiurgos or the Universal Mind directs his Divine Thought into the Chaos that under the fashioning of minor gods will be divided into the seven oceans — Sapta samudras. It is Purusha, Ahura Mazda, Osiris, etc., and finally the gnostic Christos, who is in the Kabala, Hokhmah or Wisdom the “Word.”
* The form of Tikkun or the Protogonos, the “first-born,” i.e., the universal form and idea, had not yet been mirrored in Chaos.
† The “Heavenly man” is Adam Kadmon — the synthesis of the Sephiroth, as “Manu Swayambhuva” is the synthesis of the Prajapatis.
‡ Bereshith Rabba, Parsha IX.
§ This refers to the three Rounds that preceded our fourth Round.
“obscurations.” This becomes evident when one reads further on the explanation given: — “Still when it is said that they (the worlds) perished, it is only meant thereby that they (their humanities) lacked the true form, till the human (our) form came into being, in which all things are comprised and which contains all forms. . . .* — it does not mean death, but only denotes a sinking down from their status . . .” (that of worlds in activity).†
When, therefore, we read of the destruction of the worlds, this word has many meanings, which are very clear in several of the Commentaries on the Zohar and Kabalistic treatises. As said elsewhere, it means not only the destruction of many worlds which have ended their life-career, but also that of the several continents which have disappeared, as also their decline and geographical change of place.
The mysterious “Kings of Edom” are sometimes referred to as the “Worlds” that had been destroyed; but it is a “cloak.” The Kings who reigned in Edom before there reigned a King in Israel, or the “Edomite Kings,” could never symbolize the “prior worlds,” but only the “attempts at men” on this globe: the “pre-Adamite races,” of which the Zohar speaks, and which we explain as the First Root-Race. For, as, speaking of the six Earths (the six “limbs” of Microprosopus) it is said that the Seventh (our Earth) came not into the computation when the Six were created (the six spheres above our globe in the terrestrial chain), so the first seven Kings of Edom are left out of calculation in Genesis. By the law of analogy and permutation, in the “Chaldean Book of Numbers,” as also in the “Books of Knowledge” and of “Wisdom,” the “seven primordial worlds” mean also the “seven primordial” races (sub-races of the First Root-Race of the Shadows); and, again, the Kings of Edom are the sons of “Esau the father of the Edomites” (Gen. xxxvi. 43); i.e., Esau represents in the Bible the race which stands between the Fourth and the Fifth, the Atlantean and the Aryan. “Two nations are in thy womb,” saith the Lord to Rebekah; and Esau was red and hairy. From verse 24 to 34, ch. xxv. of Genesis contains the allegorical history of the birth of the Fifth Race.
“And the Kings of ancient days died and their chiefs (crowns) were found no more,” says Siphrah Dzenioutha (3). . . . “The Head of a nation that has not been formed at the beginning in the likeness of the
* This sentence contains a dual sense and a profound mystery in the occult sciences the secret of which if, and when, known — confers tremendous powers on the Adept to change his visible form.
† Idra Suta, Zohar, iii. 136, c. “A sinking down from their status” — is plain; from active worlds they have fallen into a temporary obscuration — they rest, and hence are entirely changed.
White Head: its people is not from this Form,” states the Zohar (iii.). . . . “Before it (the White Head, the Fifth Race or Ancient of the Ancients) arranged itself in its (own, or present) Form . . . all worlds have been destroyed; therefore it is written: And Bela, the Son of Beor, reigned in Edom” (Gen. xxxvi.). Here the “worlds” stand for races. “And he (such or another King of Edom) died, and another reigned in his stead” (ibid 31 et seq.).
No Kabalist who has hitherto treated of the symbolism and allegory hidden under these “Kings of Edom” seems to have perceived more than one aspect of it. They are neither the “worlds that were destroyed,” nor the “Kings that died” — alone; but both, and much more, to treat of which there is no space at present. Therefore, leaving the mystic parables of the Zohar, we will return to the hard facts of materialistic science; first, however, citing a few from the long list of great thinkers who have believed in the plurality of inhabited worlds in general, and in worlds that preceded our own. These are, the great mathematicians Leibnitz and Bernouilli, Isaac Newton himself, as can be read in his “Optics”; Buffon, the naturalist; Condillac, the sceptic; Bailly, Lavater, Bernardin de St. Pierre, and, as a contrast to the two last named — suspected at least of mysticism — Diderot and most of the writers of the Encyclopaedia. Following these come Kant, the founder of modern philosophy; the poet philosophers, Goethe, Krause, Schelling; and many astronomers, from Bode, Fergusson and Herschell to Lalande and Laplace, with their many disciples in more recent years.
A brilliant list of honoured names indeed; but the facts of physical astronomy speak even more strongly in favour of the presence of life, even organised life, on other planets. Thus in four meteorites which fell respectively at Alais in France, the Cape of Good Hope, in Hungary, and again in France, there was found, on analysis, graphite, a form of carbon known to be invariably associated with organic life on this earth of ours. And that the presence of this carbon is not due to any action occurring within our atmosphere is shown by the fact that carbon has been found in the very centre of a meteorite; while in one which fell at Argueil, in the south of France, in 1857, there was found water and turf, the latter being always formed by the decomposition of vegetable substances.
And further, examining the astronomical conditions of the other planets, it is easy to show that several are far better adapted for the development of life and intelligence — even under the conditions with which men are acquainted — than is our earth. For instance, on the planet Jupiter the seasons, instead of varying between wide limits as do ours, change by almost imperceptible degrees, and last twelve times
as long as ours. Owing to the inclination of its axis the seasons on Jupiter are due almost entirely to the eccentricity of its orbit, and hence change slowly and regularly. We shall be told, that no life is possible on Jupiter, as it is in an incandescent state. But not all astronomers agree with this. For instance what we say, is said by M. Flammarion: and he ought to know.
On the other hand Venus would be less adapted for human life such as exists on earth, since its seasons are more extreme and its changes of temperature more sudden; though it is curious that the duration of the day is nearly the same on the four inner planets, Mercury, Venus, the Earth and Mars.
On Mercury, the Sun’s heat and light are seven times what they are on the Earth, and astronomy teaches that it is enveloped in a very dense atmosphere. And as we see that life appears more active on earth in proportion to the light and heat of the sun, it would seem more than probable that its intensity is far, far greater on Mercury than here.
Venus, like Mercury, has a very dense atmosphere, as also has Mars and the snows which cover their poles, the clouds which hide their surface, the geographical configuration of their seas and continents, the variations of seasons and climates, are all closely analogous — at least to the eye of the physical astronomer. But such facts and the considerations to which they give rise, have reference only to the possibility of the existence on these planets of human life as known on earth. That some forms of life such as we know are possible on these planets, has been long since abundantly demonstrated, and it seems perfectly useless to go into detailed questions of the physiology, etc., etc., of these hypothetical inhabitants, since after all the reader can arrive only at an imaginary extension of his familiar surroundings. It is better to rest content with the three conclusions which M. C. Flammarion, whom we have so largely quoted, formulates as rigorous and exact deductions from the known facts and laws of science.
I. The various forces which were active in the beginning of evolution gave birth to a great variety of beings on the several worlds; both in the organic and inorganic kingdoms.
II. The animated beings were constituted from the first according to forms and organisms in correlation with the physiological state of each inhabited globe.
III. The humanities of other worlds differ from us, as much in their inner organization as in their external physical type.
Finally the reader who may be disposed to question the validity of these conclusions as being opposed to the Bible, may be referred to an Appendix in M. Flammarion’s work dealing in detail with this question; since in a work like the present it seems unnecessary to point out the
logical absurdity of those churchmen, who deny the plurality of worlds on such grounds.
In this connection we may well recall those days when the burning zeal of the Primitive Church opposed the doctrine of the earth’s rotundity, on the ground that the nations at the Antipodes would be outside the pale of salvation; and again how long it took for a nascent science to break down the idea of a solid firmament, in whose grooves the stars moved for the special edification of terrestrial humanity.
The theory of the earth’s rotation was met by a like opposition — even to the martyrdom of its discoverers — because, besides depriving our orb of its dignified central position in space, this theory produced an appalling confusion of ideas as to the Ascension — the terms “up” and “down” being proved to be merely relative, thus complicating not a little the question of the precise locality of heaven.*
According to the best modern calculations, there are no less than 500,000,000 of stars of various magnitudes, within the range of the best telescopes. As to the distances between them, they are incalculable. Is, then, our microscopical Earth — a “grain of sand on an infinite sea-shore” — the only centre of intelligent life? Our own Sun, itself 1,300 times larger than our planet, sinks into insignificance beside that giant Sun — Sirius, — and the latter in its turn is dwarfed by other luminaries in infinite Space. The self-centred conception of Jehovah as the special guardian of a small and obscure semi-nomadic tribe, is tolerable beside that which confines sentient existence to our microscopical globe. The primary reasons were without doubt: (1) Astronomical ignorance on the part of the early Christians, coupled with an exaggerated appreciation of man’s own importance — a crude form of selfishness; and (2) the dread that, if the hypothesis of millions of other inhabited globes was accepted, the crushing rejoinder would ensue — “Was there then a Revelation to each world?” involving the idea of the Son of God eternally “going the rounds” as it were. Happily it is now unnecessary to waste time and energy in proving the possibility of the existence of such worlds. All intelligent persons admit it. That which now remains to be demonstrated is, that if it is once proven that there are inhabited worlds besides our own with humanities entirely different from each other as from our own — as maintained in the Occult
* In that learned and witty work, “God and his Book,” by the redoubtable “Saladin” of Agnostic repute, the amusing calculation that, if Christ had ascended with the rapidity of a cannon ball, he would not have reached even Sirius yet, reminds one vividly of the past. It raises, perhaps, a not ill-founded suspicion that even our age of scientific enlightenment may be as grossly absurd in its materialistic negations, as the men of the middle ages were absurd and materialistic in their religious affirmations.
Sciences — then the evolution of the preceding races is half proved. For where is that physicist or geologist who is prepared to maintain that the Earth has not changed scores of times, in the millions of years which have elapsed in the course of its existence; and changing its “skin,” as it is called in Occultism, that the Earth has not had each time her special humanities adapted to such atmospheric and climatic conditions as were entailed. And if so, why should not our preceding four and entirely different mankinds have existed and thrived before our Adamic (Fifth Root) Race?
Before closing our debates, however, we have to examine the so-called organic evolution more closely. Let us search well and see whether it is quite impossible to make our Occult data and chronology agree up to a certain point with those of Science.
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