Copyright © 2011 by Theosophical University Press
It is an interesting fact of history, whose import is all too often forgotten even by European scholars, that the profoundest philosophies which human genius has given birth to are all of very hoary age, born in long past millennia. It is asking too much of human credulity to suppose that the "untutored mind" of primitive man could have thought out such consistent and indeed highly scientific systems. Precisely the same observation may be made of the great and widespread religious systems of the archaic ages. The more these ancient philosophical and religious systems are examined, the more does the reflection grow upon one that such highly elaborate and symmetrical systems of thought, swaying the minds of millions for so many ages, are obviously not the product of the minds of men inferior to the best that the twentieth century has produced.
Civilizations of prehistory were indeed a fact, although easily attainable proof of their existence has long since vanished, save for relics or half-forgotten degenerate representations. Every one of these great civilizations or races of archaic prehistory was guided and led by great seers and sages; although the continents on which some of these highly progressed and cultured civilizations lived out their destiny have ages since sunken under the waters.
Now what is science — the supposed intellectual hope of modern humanity? It is the result of four things combined: experience, experiment or research, reflection or thought, and correlation of the knowledge thus gained into systematic form.
This is precisely what theosophy is: the result of innumerable ages of experience, research, and experiment by the great sages, who correlated the knowledge they have wrested from the womb of nature into a systematic exposition. Such great men still live as a Brotherhood. They are humans of relatively immense spiritual and intellectual grandeur, whose vision has penetrated into the deepest arcana of matter and of force or energy. The ability to do this arises in the fact that man's constitution is derivative from the universe in which he moves and lives and has his being. Man but repeats in himself as the microcosm, whatever nature herself is and contains as the macrocosm. As the mystic Jakob Boehme wrote:
For the Book in which all mysteries lie, is man himself: he himself is the book of Being of all beings, seeing he is the likeness of Divinity. The Great Arcanum lies in him; the revealing of it belongs only to the Divine Spirit. — Ninth Epistle, 3
This wisdom which the sages and seers discovered and gathered is as certain and sure in fundamentals as are the principles of mathematics — a branch of this wisdom. Like mathematics it is wholly self-consistent and its proofs are found in itself, which is equivalent to saying found in nature. It is ordered knowledge, therefore science per se.
How near has modern science approached this sacred science of the archaic ages? We are living in a marvelous age. Our scientists are becoming scientific mystics. Our chemistry is becoming alchemy, a super-chemistry. Our astronomers no longer try solely to find out the exact movements of the celestial bodies, and what their physical composition is, but are endeavoring, as did the ancients, to pierce the veils of phenomena. As J. E. Boodin, professor of philosophy, University of California (Los Angeles), writes:
It is plain that the physicist is becoming deeply involved in metaphysics. . . . The physicist might have gone for advice to the philosophers, but in that case he should have become more confused than ever, since philosophy has followed no definite method and is for the most part in the grip of the old physics which has now broken down. We may hope that out of the new physics may evolve a more intelligent metaphysics. — Three Interpretations of the Universe, pp. 168-9
Professor A. S. Eddington, writing of space, time, and gravitation, openly says that theories of materialistic physics reach no ultimate realities whatsoever — which shows that scientific thinkers are rapidly advancing out of the realms of an imagination held shackled in the bonds of an outworn materialistic conception of nature.
Unfortunately, there is a trend in scientific thought, especially along the new mathematical lines, to look upon the conclusions of mathematical investigation, often based upon very shaky premises, as actualities in themselves. The mathematical mill produces only what is put into it; and if the premises be speculative or not founded throughout on natural fact, the conclusions are bound to carry the imprint of the defects that the premises themselves contain. Again, mathematics per se are no absolutely certain instrument for discovering verities in nature, but are a fairly perfect instrument for tooling whatever premises may be subjected to them. Mathematics are a method of abstract thinking concerning relations among things, but cannot be used apart from the original premises upon which mathematical work is done. To quote again from Professor Boodin:
Mathematical physicists have enjoyed the atmosphere of mystification which their complicated formulae have made possible. They have informed us that we must not try to make any sensible models of the primary level of nature. We must think of it merely as mathematical waves or curves of probability. We must not ask what the waves are waves of. They are just waves in the equations. Recently there has been a reaction from this mystification. Physicists are beginning to recognise . . . that our mathematical models, however complicated, are merely symbolic statements of the data we derive from sense-experience. . . . The chemists have held aloof from the mathematical orgy and have tried to make workable the more imaginative models of Rutherford and Bohr. . . . A recent experiment by Jesse W. M. Dumond at the California Institute of Technology shows that the earlier imaginative model of the atom by Rutherford and Bohr contains important truth." — Ibid., p. 159
A. Wolf, professor of scientific theory, London University, quotes Eddington as follows:
It is Professor Eddington's theory that they [physical occurrences] all partake — everything partakes — of the nature of mental activity, of consciousness, or sub-consciousness, sometimes of a low and sometimes of a higher order, and these mental activities can be described by other and higher minds, but all things have a consciousness of self, which is different from their appearance in the consciousness of other minds and from the description. — The Observer (London), Jan. 27, 1929
Professor Eddington here echoes the Esoteric Tradition. People frequently used to call essential matter by the name of mind, but now, following Eddington, they call it "mind-stuff." The idea is the same, although the ancients, in speaking of mind-stuff, meant something purely spiritual, the cosmic soul, in fact.
In April 1890, H. P. Blavatsky wrote in her magazine Lucifer upon the subject of consciousness in the atom. Her article "Kosmic Mind" was called forth by one written by the well-know journalist, George Parsons Lathrop, and dealt with the religious views of Mr. Edison, who was at one time a member of the Theosophical Society. She said:
Edison's conception of matter was quoted in our March editorial article. The great American electrician is reported by Mr. G. Parsons Lathrop in Harper's Magazine as giving out his personal belief about the atoms being "possessed by a certain amount of intelligence," and shown indulging in other reveries of this kind. For this flight of fancy the February Review of Reviews takes the inventor of the phonograph to task and critically remarks that "Edison is much given to dreaming," his "scientific imagination" being constantly at work.
Would to goodness the men of science exercised their "scientific imagination" a little more and their dogmatic and cold negations a little less. Dreams differ. In that strange state of being which, as Byron has it, puts us in a position "with seal'd eyes to see," one often perceives more real facts than when awake. Imagination is, again, one of the strongest elements in human nature, or in the words of Dugald Stewart it "is the great spring of human activity, and the principal source of human improvement. . . . Destroy the faculty, and the condition of men will become as stationary as that of brutes." It is the best guide of our blind senses, without which the latter could never lead us beyond matter and its illusions. The greatest discoveries of modern science are due to the imaginative faculty of the discoverers. . . .
But when has anything new been postulated, when a theory clashing with and contradicting a comfortably settled predecessor put forth, without orthodox science first sitting on it, and trying to crush it out of existence?
Man in those days was considered by the scientists to be an "animate machine." The universe was also a mechanism that ran itself. There was no spirit, no soul, no life anywhere; mechanism everywhere, machines which ran themselves — and nobody knew how! To continue the citation:
Is it then, because consciousness in every universal atom and the possibility of a complete control over the cells and atoms of his body by man, have not been honored so far with the imprimatur of the Popes of exact science, that the idea is to be dismissed as a dream? Occultism gives the same teaching. Occultism tells us that every atom, like the monad of Leibniz, is a little universe in itself; and that every organ and cell in the human body is endowed with a brain of its own, with memory, therefore, experience and discriminative powers. The idea of Universal Life composed of individual atomic lives is one of the oldest teachings of esoteric philosophy, and the very modern hypothesis of modern science, that of crystalline life, is the first ray from the ancient luminary of knowledge that has reached our scholars. If plants can be shown to have nerves and sensations and instinct (but another word for consciousness), why not allow the same in the cells of the human body? Science divides matter into organic and inorganic bodies, only because it rejects the idea of absolute [i.e., Universal] life and a life-principle as an entity: otherwise it would be the first to see that absolute [i.e., Universal] life cannot produce even a geometrical point, or an atom inorganic in its essence. . . .
Now to lay at rest once for all in the minds of Theosophists this vexed question, we intend to prove that modern science . . . is itself on the eve of discovering that consciousness is universal [Eddington's mind-stuff] — thus justifying Edison's "dreams." But before we do this, we mean also to show that though many a man of science is soaked through and through with such belief, very few are brave enough to openly admit it.
The sporadic utterances of some of our modern scientists show how true were these words of H. P. Blavatsky. Sir James Jeans, in an interview published in The Observer (London), when asked the question, "Do you believe that life on this planet is the result of some sort of accident, or do you believe that it is a part of some great scheme?," replied:
I incline to the idealistic theory that consciousness is fundamental, and that the material universe is derived from consciousness, not consciousness from the material universe. If this is so, then it would appear to follow that there is a general scheme. . . . In general the universe seems to me to be nearer to a great thought than to a great machine. It may well be, it seems to me, that each individual consciousness ought to be compared to a brain cell in a universal mind.
The German scientist Max Planck, in a similar interview published in The Observer, when asked, "Do you think that consciousness can be explained in terms of matter?" replied:
No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
Citations might be made from a number of other great scientists all running to the same conclusion. The main point is that the greatest men of science today are beginning to reecho one of the fundamental philosophical postulates of the Esoteric Tradition, that mind or consciousness is of the essence of the universe and is perforce operative and self-manifesting in every point of the incomprehensibly vast cosmic whole.
It seems appropriate here to allude to a beautiful book, Plant Autographs and Their Revelations, written by the Hindu scientist, Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose. Before his time it was commonly thought that plants were not animate entities; that they had movement and substance but no individualized life or "soul"; that they had no circulatory system or nerves or feelings. Even in the face of the seasonal mounting and descent of plant sap, it was thought that no circulatory system could exist in a plant body, because the dogmatic conviction was held that human beings and the beasts were the only ones possessing life and more or less voluntary action.
Now this Hindu scientist proves through his clever apparatus, electrical and otherwise, for the study of plant life and for recording the pulse beat and functions of life in plants, that plants have nerves and are plant-conscious — not animal- or human-conscious; that they can be poisoned and cured through the administration of the proper antidote; that they become tired and must have rest; that they have both a circulatory and a nervous system.
Thus beyond, behind, within everything is a consciousness-center, a jiva which, adopting the Pythagorean word, Leibniz called a monad or unit of individuality. According to the ancient wisdom, every atom is an organic living entity, the vehicle or manifestation of a transcendent but imperfectly expressed soul. In other words, the soul life of the atom is an intermediate portion of the invisible and ethereal atomic structure which flows forth from the monadic center or root at the "back of beyond" of each physical atomic unit.
The modern scientist is preparing the way for this conception when he declares that the atom is no longer a senseless, inert particle of dead matter, driven by blind fate, attracted hither and yon by chance, but is a composite entity made up of electrical points or charges.
The Danish physicist Niels Bohr evolved a conception of the physical atom which, despite the modifications of his theory made since 1913, explains electromagnetic and other phenomena of nature with almost uncanny precision: to wit, that the physical atom is a sort of solar system in miniature or, conversely, that a solar system is a cosmic atom. Each such atom has its atomic "sun," which is called a proton, or aggregate of protons combined with neutrons, and also has its planet or planets which are called electrons, whirling with incredible speed about their central atomic sun. In the case of the hydrogen atom, which is supposed to be the primordial building-brick of physical matter, there is but one planet or electron with its one proton or atomic sun.
The great value of Bohr's conception was that it is analogical. What nature does in one place she repeats in other places, because she follows one fundamental law or course of action throughout. Bohr's entire conception is an unconscious tribute to the ancient doctrine of analogy. However, there are such things as false analogies which are misrepresentations of nature's functionings, and against which one has to be constantly on guard. Another conception of the structural character of the physical atom is due to the work of physicists such as Erwin Schroedinger, Louis de Broglie, and others. Either structure is in essence an electrical entity, whether it be diffuse as Schroedinger said, or more strictly patterned after the manner of our solar system as Bohr said. The point of importance is that the atom, whatever its structure and internal organization, is electrical — an entity built of forces expressing themselves as matter; this is strictly in line, as far as it goes, with the teaching of the Esoteric Philosophy.
Bohr's theory that the atom is a kind of miniature solar system, whatever defects it may in future be proved to have, at least is correspondential to all nature as we know it. Whether future research will show that Bohr or any later worker was the more exact in evolving a conception of atomic structure, matters not in the least for our present purpose; the essential conceptions seem to be all more or less to the effect that the atom is built mostly of etheric spaces, and that the particles of its substance consist of electricity variously compounded of its positive and negative qualities or parts.
Thus the physical world so seemingly solid, reduced to its ultimates, is mostly emptinesses or etheric spaces, with almost innumerable particles of negative or positive electricity, electrons, protons, positrons, etc., mutually acting and interacting, and by their common labor producing all the physical world and likewise all its component parts. Incredible is the rapidity of movement which is assigned by scientific theory to these electric particles. Dr. E. E. Fournier d'Albe wrote in The Observer:
In this miniature solar system [of the atom] the year would be represented by the time of one revolution [of an electron] round the central "sun," and as these revolutions take place at the rate of about a thousand million millions [or one quadrillion in American numeration] per second, it is clear that while we watch, even for a moment, untold ages and geological eras of atomic time are passing by.
There are beings in this universe whose time-movement is so slow that were our solar system to be conceived by them as an atomic system, then the revolution of our planet around the sun, which revolution we call a year, would be an incalculably small period of time — in fact smaller than is the revolution of an electron around its atomic sun, which constitutes an atomic year, small in time to us. On the other hand, to infinitesimal beings who we may imagine as living on an atomic electron — one of the atomic planets — one of our years would be a quasi-eternity.
The life of our universe contrasted with infinity is but the wink of an eye, yet to us it seems as almost eternity, for it lasts for many trillions of human years; likewise man's life is but a fleeting instant in endless duration, although of immense time-length contrasted with the bewilderingly rapid appearances and disappearances of infinitesimals in the atomic world.
We are told also by scientific thinkers that the atomic distances separating electron from electron and these from their protonic center or sun are relatively as great in the atom as are the distances in our cosmic solar system separating planet from planet and these from our sun. One must remember that to ourselves all things in this universe are relative, and in consequence that such supposedly fundamental things as space and time are as relative as all other things contained by them. Indeed, in one sense of the word, both space and time are mayavi or illusory, because both are directly related to physical things or "events"; and because they are distinctly temporary, neither can be called "absolute."
The atoms which compose our bodies are built thus, and therefore are infinitesimal copies or reflections of that larger cosmic atom which we call the solar system. Just as the interplanetary spaces are empty or nearly so, so are our bodies mostly such special vacancies, yet are filled full with ethereal substances, even as the cosmic spaces of our solar system and the greater cosmic spaces of our galactic universe are filled full with cosmic ether.
Probably the so-called solid physical units or electrons, etc., which compose my physical body, leaving to one side the empty spaces, could be compressed into a pin-head. Thus so far as mere volume or special extension is concerned, our physical bodies are indeed true illusions as regards bulk, yet very real to us because our sense organs live in this world of "bulky" illusion.
As an example: I enter a railway train. I take a seat, but I am only apparently touching the chair on which I sit. Not a particle of my body actually touches it: the electrons of which my body is composed are repelled by the electronic vibrations of which the chair seat is composed. The chair is screwed into the wood of the car of the railway coach; but these screws do not actually touch the wood, although they have broken it. This wood again is clamped to the metal body of the car. To us these clamped links seem tight and solid and absolutely in contact; yet not a particle of that wood actually touches the steel. The steel carriage rests on the axles of the wheels, yet not a particle of that resting steel is in absolute physical contact with the metallic substance of the wheels. The wheels as they roll along the tracks actually do not touch the railroad tracks at all; they roll along on ether. Every particle of the wheel which seems to touch the track, and vice versa, consists of electronic and other particles of negative and positive charges, and they repel each other. The rails supposedly rest solidly on the earth, yet the rails are not in absolute contact with the earth. The earth itself is composed of these various electronic and other materials, and yet not a single mathematical point of any one of these materials has absolute physical contact with any other; they are held apart by electronic repulsive forces, residing in the electrons, protons, etc., of which the atoms are built. What an illusory world we live in!
For instance the constitution of an atom of hydrogen, the simplest atom as yet known to science, is composed of two electric particles, one positive called the proton, which according to theory is the central sun of the atom, and one negative particle called the electron, which is the atomic "planet" whirling around its central nucleus or proton with vertiginous speed — some scientists say more than one quadrillion times in the short space of one human second. If we had the power to put our finger upon it, we should feel resistance arising from the incredible speed of the whirling of this electron around its central sun, forming as it were a streak of something solid, or a belt or shell which we would sense as "matter," and yet this "matter" is but a charge of negative electricity or force.
We know now that matter is mostly holes, mostly spaces — emptinesses. If we consider our solar system, we see that the larger part of it is space, the sun and the planets forming but a small part of the space within the confines of it; and so is it, according to theory, with the atom. The protonic sun and the electronic planets are but a very small part of the space which the atom contains; and yet out of these "empty" atoms is built up all physical matter, from the most ethereal gas to the most dense of metals.
In strict accuracy it is wrong and without foundation of fact to suppose that space and aether are one and the same thing. At least this is the view of the Esoteric Philosophy, in which aether, cosmically speaking, is the material substratum of manifestation or differentiation, and therefore is virtually identic with what is technically called akasa or even mulaprakriti or root-nature or root-space. In any cosmic hierarchy, the mulaprakriti or akasa thereof, otherwise its aether, fillsall the space of that hierarchy, and therefore is virtually identical with the space of that hierarchy, being its mother-substance.
Yet as these cosmic hierarchies are literally innumerable, and are therefore considered as infinite in number, the respective aethers of these cosmic hierarchies are all contained within the incomprehensibly vast space of boundless infinitude. This does not mean that space is an "infinite emptiness" or mere frontierless container; for space signifies the boundless cosmic deeps themselves, without frontier, without beginning or ending, being from eternity unto eternity; whereas the cosmic hierarchies as they appear in their cyclical manifestations bring forth from within themselves the fields of aether, which from inner upsurging impulses directed by cosmic intelligence develop forth the diversity of differentiation.
While aether for any comprised portion of space is coextensive with that space, the aether itself is a production in and of the all-inclusive spacial deep of that hierarchy. From the foregoing we are obliged to draw the philosophical deduction that space is virtually interchangeable as a term with divinity — not any one divinity which would mean limitation, but the abstract Divinity of boundless duration and frontierless being.
The ether of science, whether accepted or rejected, whether described as a jelly or with attributes such as fluidity or rigidity, is truly the root-nature, mulaprakriti or mother-substance, of any one cosmic plane — and of course our scientists mean the physical plane or world, the most material dregs or sediment of the original mulaprakriti of the physical cosmic plane.
The main thought is that every cosmic hierarchy has not only its primordial or cosmic aether, which is its mulaprakriti or akasa, but that every one of the seven (or ten) planes of such hierarchy has as its root-substance or root-nature a subordinate aether of its own, all these subordinate aethers interblending. Thus out of akasa come forth all beings into manifestation; and back into the akasa return all beings and things for their variously long periods of rest or recuperation, only to reissue forth when again the cycle of manifestation opens a new drama of life, whether cosmic, solar or planetary.
Were modern science to grant the existence of invisible realms of space, these ethereal worlds would be seen to be the background and container of the physical universe which is but the outer shell or garment. The very lowest part of this range of invisible substance may be called ether, provided that the term be employed in a generalizing way to signify the field or action of electromagnetic forces.
The ancient wisdom teaches that the ether is not merely matter of one grade or of uniform density or existing only on one plane, but that it is sevenfold. For instance, consider the ether which surrounds the earth, which ether is cosmic in extent, and in which every molecule and atom of everything that exists, and every electron and proton of every atom, are bathed as in a boundless ocean. This ether seems to us tenuous and ethereal, and yet, according to modern scientific theories, it is incomparably more dense than is the densest known physical substance — obviously, for it permeates physical matter as water will a sponge.
Sir J. J. Thomson has stated his conclusion that the density of ether is two thousand million times that of lead. Such is the character of this intangible, supergaseous-like ether. Lead is one of the most dense of metals; and yet the ether, which permeates everything, is two billion times more dense!
Modern science has never had any exact understanding of the term ether which it formerly used so commonly. In esotericism the difficulty is one thousandfold greater, for the simple reason that there are ethers or substances in tenuous and ethereal conditions "above" physical matter, and other ethers in variously dense or compacted conditions "lower" or grosser than physical matter; yet the one term ethers, just because it is conveniently vague yet suggestive, is applicable both "above" and "below" that cross section of nature which we call the plane of the physical sphere.
The ethers below or grosser than the physical sphere, although in certain instances enormously denser and more complicated than is physical matter, nevertheless permeate physical matter and fill all its holes so to speak, precisely because physical matter has these "holes" or intermolecular, interatomic, and interelectronic spaces or "emptinesses." It is just these holes or emptinesses which not merely are filled with, but actually are these sub-physical ethers; and yet the most dense and gross of our physical matters, such as lead or gold, are permeated and all their interatomic spaces filled with these ethers. The sub-physical ethers are so far outside of the sense of touch, for instance, that they seem to us to be extremely tenuous, just exactly as the fingers are unable to touch or grasp air, and yet atmospheric air is a relatively dense gas.
Furthermore, consciousness or mind-stuff or thought is so fine and subtle, so tenuous and ethereal, that philosophy and religion from time immemorial have looked upon it or them as being, cosmically speaking, the essence of everything, permeating all. But if cosmic mind or consciousness is thus all-permeant, and the essence of everything, it must be more minute than the most dense, concreted entity possible to imagine, and therefore although it is so essentially and cosmically tenuous, logic compels us to add that it is infinitely more dense, because underlying it, than even the ether of modern science which is two billion times denser than lead.
Thus our physical world is not the most material thing in the universe. There are planes or grades of substance-matter far more dense than are our own, even as there are planes and grades of substance-matter incomparably more ethereal and tenuous. That incomparably more ethereal and tenuous part is what we call spirit; and the other far denser and grosser part is what we call absolute matter; but this entire range of substance from spirit to grossest matter is, in the theosophical teaching, the septiform range of the akasic background of the universe — of our universe.
Sir Oliver Lodge wrote about the nature and origin of matter as follows:
matter should, as it were, crystallise out of an unmodified spatial ether, the original seat of all the energy in the universe. According to this idea matter becomes the palpable part of the ether — the only portion of it which affects our organs of sense, and therefore the only portion which is incontrovertibly known to us. . . . We can trace the physical operations back and back as far as we can, but not without limit. Sooner or later we arrive at something which is not physical, which has more analogy with our minds than with our bodies, and which we sometimes call idealistic and sometimes spiritual. — My Philosophy, p. 24
We feel compelled to register an emphatic objection to the idea contained in this word "unmodified," although the balance of the citation we welcome as a new and far-sighted contribution. The point is, that the "ether of science" of which Sir Oliver writes, far from being "unmodified," is in every possible sense of the word already enormously modified as compared with primordial spiritual world-stuff, otherwise mulaprakriti or akasa. The ether of science is so greatly modified that it is but one degree more tenuous than is physical matter; for the ether of science really is the dregs of akasa, and physical matter can be considered to be these dregs aggregated or solidified.
Sir Oliver Lodge writes elsewhere:
I venture to make the, possibly absurd, prediction that life will be found to be something that interacts with matter through the agency of the ether of space, that it is displayed and not originated by matter, and that it can exist in unsensed fashion quite apart from its material manifestation. — The Spectator, Vol. 141, 1928
This idea that "life will be found to be something that interacts with matter through the agency of the ether of space" cannot be strictly accurate because of the apparent distinction made between life and matter as entities of radically different type; and also because force and matter, or spirit and substance, are fundamentally one. It is this unfortunate divorce of life from matter, or of force from matter, that has worked such intellectual havoc, not only in the scientific circles, but in past centuries in religious circles as well.
This radical dualism in European thought has been the fecund mother of more spiritual and scientific perplexities and consequent wandering from the truth than any other single cause. It has been, apparently, a fundamental postulate of Western theology since the time of the fall of the Roman Empire; but it is particularly on the ideas of the French philosopher, Descartes, that rest full responsibility for the influence of this totally erroneous conception over the minds of all scientific men since he lived. It was not until the year 1900, more or less, that there set in the new and far truer idea of the fundamental or essential identity of matter and all forms of energy — the physical reflections on our plane of cosmic pradhana and Brahman, i.e. cosmic root-nature and its inspiriting and perpetually coexistent cosmic mind. The Esoteric Philosophy has always rejected this divorce of the inseparable twain as unnatural and therefore untrue. They are in essence One: but appear in our illusory universe, because of their unceasing interactions and intermodal activities, as the two aspects or veils of the one fundamental reality.
So far as life interacting with matter "through the agency of the ether of space" is concerned, there seems to be no possible objection to this; only a theosophist would prefer to say that life works through that part of the ethers — note the plural — of space which are intra-atomic and hyper-intra-atomic, that is to say, the ethers within, and within the within, the substance and the structure of the atom. Thus aggregated, they are the same as the "ethers of space."
The truth is that life is inseparable from both force or energy and matter, because it is the causal substance as well as the actual and universal source of both, and in its incomprehensibly manifold activities may perhaps be called the causal energy of the cosmos. That life is "displayed and not originated by matter" is of course a true statement; matter merely displays and thus proves life, but emphatically does not "create" it.
Further, Sir Oliver truly says that "it can exist in unsensed fashion quite apart from its material manifestation." Yet there is no intention to imply that life is essentially different from matter and has itself no material manifestation, for this is not the fact. Between pure force or energy as such, and the gross physical world as such, there must be connecting grades or steps of force-substance; because pure force or energy can no more act upon pure matter than can heat or electricity produce effective work without intermediary links. Steam cannot be applied unless you have the mechanism for placing the energy of superheated water at the point of operation. An internal combustion engine can do no work unless connected up with the proper mechanism. Yet we do see physical things move, but they must be energized. When they are humans or beasts we say that they have "life," that they are "animated" entities. But what fills the gulf between physical matter and the intangible force or energy which moves it? There is in fact a vast scale of substances-forces decreasing in materiality between gross matter and pure energy; and each rung of this scale is called in our terminology a "plane." These provide the ladder of communication between pure force or energy and gross physical substance or matter.
Matters exist, therefore, in all-various degrees of ethereality or density; but there is life per se in individuals manifesting as a vital fluid belonging to each plane of material manifestation — and these vital fluids in their aggregate form the universal life, manifesting in appropriate form on any one plane and functioning therefore through the various matters of that plane.
When we speak of our universe, our own home-universe, we mean the galaxy, the Milky Way — all that is contained within the encircling zone of that wide-flung belt of thousands of millions of stars, among which our own sun is a relatively insignificant member. Astronomers used to say that the Milky Way is more or less like a lentil in shape or a thin watch, but are now of the opinion that the galaxy is more or less the shape of a pinwheel. The astronomers further say that this galactic aggregate of stellar bodies is so enormous that light, which travels 186,000 miles or more in a second, would take 300,000 years to pass from one extremity of the diameter of the galaxy to the other; and that it is about 10,000 light-years in thickness.
Such a galactic figure represents a fairly late stage in the history of a galaxy, and consequently it must have been preceded by other shapes differing somewhat from the cartwheel. In this manner the astronomers trace back the different forms of galactic constellational evolution to what they now suppose to be a primordial form in cosmic space — a vast and slowly rotating mass of highly tenuous cosmic gas. The Esoteric Philosophy runs parallel with this idea to a certain extent, but would insist upon the fact that the mere tracing of the changing structure or form of a galaxy, while interesting enough, tells us little or nothing of the causal factors in the galactic evolution which are of a spiritual, intellectual and psychical character. The galaxy, like every other entity in the universe, is an individual built up of minor individuals; so that the component minor individuals enclosed within the surrounding life-sphere of the grand individual thus form a hierarchical system, with its own spiritual-intellectual-psychical svabhava or individuality.
The entire galactic system is but one of many similar cosmical units scattered over the illimitable fields of Space, thus making of even our galaxy but a body of minor molecular extent by comparison. The same system prevails in the infinitesimal world: in the atoms themselves with the same relative vast spaces in which live electric points called electrons and so forth.
It would therefore seem that nature repeats herself everywhere and is built and operates strictly throughout on analogical principles. "As above, so below; as below, so above."
As Emerson so beautifully says in Fragments on Nature and Life:
Atom from atom yawns as far
As moon from earth, or star from star.
Our own sun by comparison with others greater than it may be called a dwarf-sun. It is a cosmic atom of its kind, and just as every atom of infinitesimal size, our sun is ensouled by its own spiritual-psychic "life-atom" or monad of stellar character. Now let us turn to the star Arcturus. This sun, 22,000,000 miles in diameter, is indeed a giant when compared with the diameter of our sun of 865,000 miles. Yet Arcturus is an infant in comparison with Betelgeuse and Antares, each of which would fill the orbit of Mars. Our own sun, in comparison with them, would appear as little more than a pinpoint.
Each one of these suns is a cosmic atom, a part of a vast cosmic body-corporate in which it moves and lives and has its being, more or less as the atoms of the physical body live within that body and help to build the matter of which it is made. Yet each, whether sun or atom, is a living being itself, the maker and giver of all life to the minor lives dependent on its existence.
The reader may perhaps wonder that little or nothing has been said about either the idea of the so-called expanding universe, or the quaint notion of "expanding space." The main observational fact which brought about the birth of the theory of an "expanding universe" is the shift to the red of certain lines in the spectrum of far distant stellar or galactic astronomical objects, meaning that if a distant astronomical object is approaching us there will be a shift toward the violet end of the spectrum; and contrariwise, if the distant celestial object is receding from us, the shift of the spectral lines will be toward the red. Admitting the truth of this, it is risky to suppose that because the observed shifting of these spectral lines to the red is the greater the farther the celestial body is, therefore the farther the celestial body is the more rapidly is it receding from us; because it is quite possible to suppose, equally by theory or hypothesis, that there may be other causes producing this shift.
For instance, the so-called constant of the invariant velocity of light is today one of the clauses in the modern scientific creed; yet the future may show that light itself is greatly affected by passing through the vast distances of interstellar space and meeting on its way even the thin and tenuous interstellar ether. Query: Can light itself suffer retardation when passing through the incomprehensibly immense distances of intergalactic space? Why not? To consider the velocity of light as invariant, as a universal constant, may be sufficient for all ordinary astronomical purposes, but it may well be that the velocity of light is not such a universal invariant constant. Hence the shifting toward the red end of the spectrum may be due to change in the light itself, as regards either the diminution of velocity, or, possibly, an as yet unknown fact of absorption; and consequently the suggestion is made that some future day will bring about a change in the present theory of light.
However, Einstein himself is stated to be no longer certain that "space" is "finite," but that it may be infinite, after all! The theory of light considered as an invariant cosmic constant has also just received some severe jolts. (See the report of the French scientist Dr. P. Salet, to the French Academy of Sciences, and the measurements of light-velocity made in 1933 at Pasadena, California.) Evidently, since the supposed expanding universe theory is based upon one important observational fact only, the shifting toward the red end of the spectrum of light received from distant galactic universes, and as light as an invariant constant is now being questioned, it is clear that the theory of an "expanding universe" or, worse still, of "expanding space" reposes on the shakiest of foundations.
One of the most important axioms of the Esoteric Tradition is that the universe and all in it is built upon and guided from within as well as from without by Consciousness, which includes in its qualities life, mind, and substance. Yet consciousness when applied to the universe is a generalizing term only, an abstraction; and it is equally proper, and to many minds incomparably more accurate because more descriptive, to speak of the cosmic universe as being infilled with consciousnesses, existing in structural hierarchies. These consciousnesses are in virtually innumerable grades or stages of evolutionary development, and are structurally arranged according to hierarchical families. Thus it is that everything in the universe, considered as an individual expression of an indwelling monad, is not only a point or individualized atom of the Boundless, but in its inmost essence is philosophically to be considered as identic with the universe itself.
All space, infinitesimal and cosmic, is filled full of forces and substances in all-various degrees of substantiality, ethereality, and of spirituality. Such relatively physical force-substances as electricity and light are entitative examples. For electricity and light, and indeed any other force-substance, are, without exception emanations from entities of cosmic magnitude. In other words, the Boundless is full of cosmic entities, each one of which has its own universe acting as its own individual "bearer" or "carrier"; and the vital forces or energies in any such cosmic entity are the identical forces, energies, and substances which infill that universe and, therefore, because substantially of the nature of consciousness, direct, guide, and control it, and are in fact that inner and eternal urge behind all the outer phenomenal appearances.
In the atom as in the cosmos the same principles and the same structural operations prevail, because both atom and cosmos are forever inseparable parts of the Boundless All, and therefore reflect each according to its power and capacity, the spiritual primordials which the Boundless contains. Hence all these — cosmos and atoms, inner and outer worlds and planes and spheres, considered as a cosmic composite — are the garments and the expressions of the cosmic Life itself.
Is consciousness then different from force or energy? No, consciousness or mind is both the root and the focus of force or energy, the very soul of them, and being such, it is substantial, although not matter as we understand matter. Our grossest physical matter is but the concretion of dormant psychomagnetic consciousness-centers or monads. When they awake to kinetic movement or individual activity, these "sleeping" monads forming the matter around us begin their respective evolutionary journeys upwards again toward that freedom of spirit, of pure consciousness-force, from which in the beginnings of things they originally "fell" — to use the saying of the ancients — into matter, which is thus their own collective concretion.
Thus forces of nature are essentially cosmic entities manifesting themselves in an energic fluidic form; and this fluidic form or activity is what we sense as nature's forces, more accurately, the emanations of the collective cosmic consciousness. Gravitation, electricity, magnetism, heat, chemical affinity, light, as instances, are all cosmic forces. Being forces they are likewise substantial, because matter and force are fundamentally one, just as spirit or consciousness and essential substance are intrinsically one. So that whenever there is force or energy, or its manifestations, such as gravitation, electricity, etc., it is likewise as substantial as it is energic; therefore consciousness expressing itself as consciousnesses.
These various forces of nature are not in themselves each one a consciousness, but each is rather the emanation, the vital fluid, expressing itself as the phenomena of gravitation, electricity, etc., of some living, conscious, cosmic entity behind. The forces of nature then are the vital fluids or the nervous energy of spiritual beings. Hence each such cosmic force is the outflowing from some cosmic entity of its characteristic vital fluid of the particular grade belonging to this entity's lowest cosmic body-parts. Thus this vital force or cosmic electric energy is throughout guided, automatically to us humans, by the mind and will of the cosmic entity or entities from which it flows in emanational series. These cosmic entities in themselves form an interlocking hierarchy of lofty spiritual intelligences; and because their respective svabhavas are nearly akin they cooperate in producing the entirety of the cosmical phenomena which commonly are grouped under the one term — nature.
Human nerve-aura, human magnetism, will perhaps illustrate this point in the small, as working in even such derivative phenomena as the circulation of the blood or the digestive functions in the body. None of these, among other functions of the body, considered alone, is physical man. In their aggregate, combined with the framework of the body, they form physical man, but in themselves are functions brought about by the interplay of the emanations of man's vital essence, and thus form the operative economy of his body, and are ultimately derived from the real Man of consciousness and thought. These operations and functions in the physical body, act partly consciously and partly unconsciously, precisely as the forces of nature act, on the macrocosmic scale, in the universe surrounding us.
The Esoteric Tradition avers (and in this point agrees with Sir Isaac Newton) that the fundamental cause of gravity has not yet been discovered, and that it is essentially a spiritual force or power. This reference to Newton is to certain statements made by him in letters to Richard Bentley during the years 1692-3 which have been mostly ignored by scientific writers. In a letter to Bentley, dated Jan. 17, 1693, Newton wrote:
You sometimes speak of gravity as essential and inherent to matter. Pray, do not ascribe that notion to me; for the cause of gravity is what I do not pretend to know, and therefore would take more time to consider of it.
And in another letter:
It is inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should (without the mediation of something else which is not material) operate upon and affect other matter without mutual contact, as it must if gravitation in the sense of Epicurus be essential and inherent in it. And this is one reason why I desired you would not ascribe innate gravity to me. That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance through a vacuum, without the mediation of anything else, by and through which their action and force may be conveyed from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I believe no man, who has in philosophical matters a competent faculty of thinking, can ever fall into it. Gravity must be caused by an agent acting constantly according to certain laws; but whether this agent be material or immaterial, I have left to the consideration of my readers.
After all is said, Empedocles was not so far wrong in his teaching of cosmic Love and Hate, two principles in nature working both in the universe itself and in and among the atomic individuals which compose that universe. Whether called love and hate or attraction and repulsion, the point is that both are the manifestations of the vital force or energy of invisible cosmic entities of differing grades in evolutionary development, such vital magnetic outflow being strictly dependent upon the amount of the respective emanations and the distance separating two or more individuals thus involved in mutual action or reaction — a statement which reminds one of Newton's law of gravity acting according to the respective masses of two or more bodies and likewise depending upon the inverse square of the distance separating them. On the whole, and although there is much that is attractive in Einstein's mathematical theories, many minds will find this idea preferable to the purely theoretic notion that gravitation is in some way dependent upon or caused by "curved" or "crumbled" space.
The simpler Platonic idea that the circle or the sphere is the most perfect form in nature to which she automatically tends, seems both more reasonable and accordant with fact than the highly metaphysical albeit mathematical conception of a supposititious "curvature of space" — as if space, which is an abstraction per se, could be spoken of as if it were a limited material body only.
There would seem to be far less objection to the Einsteinian hypothesis of space-curvature, if it were supplemented by two fundamental principles of nature which Einstein seems to have ignored in his mathematical work, to wit: (a) that any "space," in the Einsteinian sense, is but a portion of spacial extension and is included in a still larger spacial extension or body, and this latter itself is again included in "space" or spacial extension larger still, and so on ad infinitum; and (b), that the different "spaces" or body-extensions of the physical universe are but an outward shell or garment of inner and ethereal as well as spiritual worlds or Spaces, which are the causes of whatever appears in the physical worlds.
It is at once seen that the Einsteinian hypothesis deals with but small portions, so to speak, of abstract Space itself, and being thus limited is, de facto, but a partial explanation at best, and therefore imperfect.
Dr. Robert A. Millikan developed a hypothesis which originated with the German scientist Dr. Werner Kolhoerster, to the effect that there are certain forms of radiation in the universe, which are now called "cosmic rays," being in Dr. Millikan's opinion, radiation streaming forth from matter in the making, forces or energies which arise as the elements of physical matter are born anew from the disintegration of precedently existing atomic corpuscles. They represent the most material form of energic vibrations hitherto known, because on the scale of radiation they are found far beyond the ultraviolet portion, and are therefore incomparably "harder" and more penetrating than are either the x-rays or the gamma rays. While the exact origins of the so-called cosmic rays have not yet been discovered, there seems to be no doubt that these cosmic rays are born in the fields of space, because they reach the earth as radiation apparently coming from all quarters of outer space with virtually equal intensity.
The theory is most suggestive because it sketches the cyclical vanishing of matter into radiation and the concreting of such radiation into physical matter again. It would appear that Dr. Millikan's idea is that the stars radiate substance from themselves which in some unexplained manner (apparently) rebecomes electronic and protonic particles in the abysses of space separating star from star. The cyclical process therefore seems to be that atomic bodies are dissipated into radiation in the bosoms of the suns or stars of interstellar space, and that this radiation in the trackless fields between the stars is again aggregated into electrons and protons which combine to form atoms, which in their turn again are concreted to compose the bodies of stars, which thus furnish the theater anew for the cyclical processes of destruction and regeneration.
There is a good deal in Millikan's theory, but the Esoteric Philosophy teaches that any such process at certain vastly long intervals of time, recurring in regular serial and cyclical order throughout eternity, is interrupted by cosmic pralayas — or enormously long periods in which a universe, large or small, vanishes from visibility into invisibility, such dissolution or "death" of a universe meaning the beginning or opening of the cosmic pralaya or cosmic rest-period.
As Dr. Millikan himself expresses it, in substance, "creation" is still going on, and we see no reason to suppose that there ever was a beginning, cosmically speaking, or that there ever shall be an end, of the cyclical process. The word "creation" is not used in the old Christian theological sense as meaning something made out of "nothing," but in its original Latin etymological significance, that of "formation" of something which is thus caused to "spring forth."
Only a short time ago, as exemplified in Herbert Spencer's Synthetic Philosophy, the universe was supposed to be all matter and to give birth to energy or force in a manner which no one understood; and furthermore, it was taught that the universe was slowly "running down." An illustration then frequently given was the coiled spring of a watch which was slowly unwinding, and when the universe was totally "unwound" or "run down" it was supposed that there would be nothing left but infinite fields of atoms, sleeping or dead, and spread through something vaguely called "space." Everything would then be completely ended; and people of those days were not even quite sure if the dead atoms themselves would be there — as atoms. Spencer, it is true, himself had some vague notion that the universe in some inexplicable way would wind itself up again in order to start a new evolutionary course of "life," but he seemed to be notably singular in this optimistic outlook.
Now scientists are beginning to deny that there is any matter per se at all; they say that there is nothing but "force" or "energy." But why not take the things of nature as they are, instead of running off into imaginary vagaries? After all, what does it matter what we call this underlying reality of things — force or substance, or better spirit-matter?
One writer, commenting on the discoveries of Millikan, said in Scientific American, June 1928:
In view of the newly-discovered facts brought to light by recent and more precise measurements of cosmic rays, it seems probable that ordinary matter is being created in the stars, the nebulae, or in the depths of space. Or, as Dr. Millikan himself puts it, "The heretofore mysterious cosmic rays, which unceasingly shoot through space in all directions, are announcements sent through the ether of the birth of the elements."
Why should it be supposed that matter is in "creation" in the stars, in the nebulae, and in the depths of space, and nowhere else? Why limit "creation," formation, the new manifestation, to those localities? The reason doubtless lies in modern theories regarding the breaking up of atoms and their component electronic and protonic particles in the hearts of the suns where these minute corpuscular entities are subjected to almost incredible conditions of heat and pressure. One is tempted to predict that the time is coming when it will be discovered that the interiors or hearts of the various suns are not at all existing in conditions of such incomprehensibly intense heat, although it is true that the outmost ethereal layers of the suns have certain heat of their own, brought about by chemical action.
On the other hand, the interior of any sun is a most marvelous alchemical laboratory in which occur changes, molecular, atomic, and electronic, which it would be utterly impossible to reproduce in any chemical workshop. It is the teaching of the ancient wisdom that every sun, as indeed every other individual celestial body, is the outward veil or body of an indwelling spiritual agent or solar spirit. It would be perfectly possible for such a spiritual agent to do its work in a sun, even were the interiors of the different suns the incomprehensibly hot furnaces that science supposes them to be.
Even on this earth there is constantly taking place a marvelous series of chemical and alchemical processes, which are not different in kind, but solely in degree, from what takes place either in space, or in the nebulae, or in the interiors of the suns. The interior of the earth is another of nature's laboratories wherein wonderful and to us almost unknown things are constantly happening; and, indeed, the same may be said of the higher ranges or strata of the earth's atmosphere, and its unceasing interplay of forces and substances with the fields of outer space — whether this be done through the medium of radiation or by as yet undiscovered natural means.
It seems unreasonable to suppose that the earth is "dead" in the sense of having ceased its interplay of forces and substances with the spacial realms of the solar system around it. It has been for numberless ages past the teaching of the great seers and sages that "matter" in many of its multimyriad forms or conditions is unceasingly evolving forth, springing forth, on our earth as well as in the most distant sun or remotest nebula shining with its faint and intriguing light in the abyss of interstellar space. Every portion of Mother Nature is an alchemical laboratory, wherein interacting forces and substances are unceasingly evolving forth or producing what is in themselves — their own characteristics or the respective svabhava of each individual case. More specifically, what is it that they evolve forth or produce? It is what is commonly called substance or matter in one or in many of its ranges of existence.
In connection with the so-called creation of matter, Alden P. Armagnac gave a neat summary of Dr. Millikan's views regarding the cosmic rays:
"These rays are the invisible messengers of creation!"
Creation, he said, is still going on — not merely the creation of new worlds or of living things that people them, but the birth of the very particles of substance from which rocks and animals alike are made. His study of the cosmic rays, he added, revealed the first direct, indisputable evidence that beyond the stars, perhaps even on earth, too, four of the universal substances are daily being born from hydrogen and helium gas. These substances are oxygen, the life-giving gas; magnesium, whose blinding light makes night photographs possible; silicon, of which the earth, glass and sand are largely made; and iron. And the mysterious rays from afar, possibly from the great spiral nebulae that astronomers know as half-formed universes in the making, are simply energy hurled forth from the atoms in the mighty travail of new creation.
In other words, the rays are messengers telling us that the universe isn't running down. Rather it is being built up and replenished by continual creation of its common substances from the two simplest substances of all; two gases that are extraordinarily abundant throughout the stellar world! — Popular Science Monthly, July 1928
These two gases are hydrogen and helium; and the example of the birth of elemental substances from which the others of the chemical elements are derivative is most instructive.
The idea of the sempiternal nature of the physical atom is only the continuance of the ideas of the older but still fairly recent chemistry as imbodied in coherent theory by Dalton during the early years of the nineteenth century. This idea of the physical atom as being an indivisible, everlasting, elementary body is now no longer held by chemists, who, since the discoveries in radioactivity, are coming to know that the disintegration — in other words the death — of the atom into other conditions or states of matter is the probable cause of the birth of the various elements of physical matter. For manifestation of activity is always accompanied with an expenditure of force or energy, whether we can trace it or not. Each such expenditure of force or energy means one of two things: a building-up process, or a process of disintegration. This is likewise an axiom in esoteric cosmology.
As Dr. Millikan said:
We have known for thirty years that in radioactive processes the heavier atoms are disintegrating into lighter ones. It is therefore to be expected that somewhere in the universe the building-up process is going on to replace the tearing-down process represented by radioactivity. — Scientific American, June 1928
The Esoteric Tradition has always taught that all forms of matter are radioactive, had we but the means to perceive it; and that if we see only a few instances, if any, of lighter atoms being formed into heavier ones, it is because our planet earth is in the second or ascending arc of its evolution, i.e. its involution, so that disintegration of the heavier into the lighter elements is the first to take place. It will be ages before easily observable radioactive processes affect the lighter groups of atoms. In the preceding or descending arc the converse was nature's procedure, but only toward the end of the descending arc did the atoms become truly physical. On this descending arc the lighter atoms all had the impulse to integrate into the heavier, because the vital essences of the earth were steadily descending into matter and were expressing themselves in increasingly more material forms and conditions. Now, since we have passed the midway point, physical matter is slowly passing away or disintegrating into more ethereal forms and conditions of substances and force; and necessarily the heaviest elements, such as uranium and thorium, etc., are the ones that tend, first and foremost, to feel this inner urge of the universal vital activities of the planet.
"Creation" has always been going on in different parts of space, while at the same time in other parts of space the process of disintegration or dissolution has the temporary upper hand. The fact is that worlds, and aggregations of worlds, are born, grow to maturity, then decay and finally die, just as everything else in the universe does. The universe as a whole and in all its parts is an evolving universe, which means changing; and because it is composed of virtually an infinite number of individual entities of many grades of ethereality, of which each has its own life-term or period, it is obvious that each one of these individual entities copies in its own career what happens in the universe of which it is an integral and inseparable part, because perforce, the part must obey the general laws of the universal whole.
Returning to the idea of the integration and disintegration of worlds and universes, it is most interesting to note what Sir James Jeans has to say in his Astronomy and Cosmogony:
The type of conjecture which presents itself, somewhat insistently, is that the centers of the nebulae are of the nature of "singular points," at which matter is poured into our universe from some other, and entirely extraneous, spatial dimension, so that, to a denizen of our universe, they appear as points at which matter is being continually created. — p. 352
His "singular points" suggest what the Esoteric Philosophy calls laya-centers, those points where intercommunication between cosmic planes or spheres takes place. There is such a laya-center or "singular point" at the heart of every entity that is. Every atom contains one such general atomic laya-center; every corpuscle, every granule, every globe in space, every human being, every individualized aggregate anywhere, contains such a laya-center. Every human ovum contains one such; and it is through the laya-center in that human generative particle that the incarnating entity comes into incarnation, sends its life and its energic ray through it, thus furnishing the urge behind the growing entity and causing its development. In fact, the vital germ of every seed contains at its heart a laya-center, from and through which the entity draws its streams of vitality and the spiritual potencies which build it into the being it is to become.
Laya is a Sanskrit term which means "dissolving" or "resolving center." Matter, transforming itself upwards into a higher and more ethereal plane, passes through laya-centers or points or channels which are open doors, as it were, or canals of both egress and ingress. Equivalently, therefore, these laya-centers are the points or channels where the substances or matters of the superior planes pass downward and enter our physical universe under what is to us the guise of forces and energies, which is really matter in its sixth or in its seventh and highest state. These forces and energies transform themselves first alchemically and then later chemically into the various "matters" of the physical world, and thus in time become the chemical elements that are known.
In The Secret Doctrine, we find the following prophetic passage by H. P. Blavatsky:
We have said that Laya is what Science may call the Zero-point or line; the realm of absolute negativeness, or the one real absolute Force, the noumenon [or Causal Beginning] of the Seventh State of that which we ignorantly call and recognise as "Force"; or again the Noumenon [or Causal Beginning] of Undifferentiated Cosmic Substance which is itself an unreachable and unknowable object to finite perception; the root and basis of all states of objectivity and subjectivity too; the neutral axis, not one of the many aspects, but its centre. It may serve to elucidate the meaning if we attempt to imagine a neutral centre — . . . A "neutral centre" is, in one aspect, the limiting point of any given set of senses. Thus, imagine two consecutive planes of matter as already formed; each of these corresponding to an appropriate set of perceptive organs. We are forced to admit that between these two planes of matter an incessant circulation takes place; and if we follow the atoms and molecules of (say) the lower in their transformation upwards, these will come to a point where they pass altogether beyond the range of the faculties we are using on the lower plane. In fact, to us the matter of the lower plane there vanishes from our perception into nothing — or rather it passes on to the higher plane, and the state of matter corresponding to such a point of transition must certainly possess special and not readily discoverable properties. Such "Seven Neutral Centres," then, are produced by Fohat [Cosmic Consciousness-Energy] who . . . quickens matter into activity and evolution. — 1:148
This was written in 1888. Forty years later, Sir James Jeans writes of his "singular points." As yet Sir James sees only the appearance of matter coming into our own physical world from what he calls a "dimension," which is really the invisible or next succeeding world above ours, a superior cosmic plane. But he does not point out that these laya-centers or singular points equivalently serve for the passage of the matter of our world, which has become through evolution highly etherealized, back again into the force or forces from which it originally came, thus vanishing or passing upwards in a burst of energy to its primordial stage, and thus establishing a dual circulation from within outwards and from without inwards — from our world inwards into the spheres superior to ours and, indeed, into spheres inferior to ours also, if the passage happens to be degenerative and thus follows the downwards tendency.
Nor is there any reason why this passage of matter from the higher to the lower, or conversely, from the lower to the higher, should cease anywhere during the vastly long life-term of a universe in manifestation or in manvantara. Carrying the thought of laya-centers as existing in inner worlds, we are obliged to conclude that later stages follow in the progress upwards and inwards of such wave or stream of advancing substance, until, at the great last stage for any universe, it rebecomes the brilliance and substance of the cosmic consciousness governing such universe, which consciousness always was its own root, and from which it originally emanated or flowed forth. Where then can we put limits to consciousness, to mind, to force, to substance and its illusory child, matter? The matter of our plane becomes and is the energy of the planes below it. The matter of the planes above ours is the source of the forces or energies which stream downwards into our plane on their way to become one or other of the forms of manifestations of "matter" on this plane. The inflowing streams of force or energy simply traverse the physical universe, and thereafter in due course of long ages pursue their pathway into other and inner planes of being.
In the final analysis all forms of physical matter are derivatives of radiation in its manifold manifestations, and hence physical matter as our senses report it to us, is describable as concreted or crystallized radiation or light — not so much the one octave called "visible" light, but light in its more general significance imbodied in the word radiation, embracing the many "octaves" of radiative activity from the cosmic rays to those used in wireless transmission.
The idea is not at all new, although for hundreds of years it has been either forgotten or quietly overlooked. Newton in his Opticks (4th ed., 1730) had a conception of the idea when he wrote:
Are not gross Bodies and Light convertible into one another, and may not Bodies receive much of their Activity from the Particles of Light which enter their Composition? . . .
The changing of Bodies into Light, and Light into Bodies, is very conformable to the Course of Nature, which seems delighted with Transmutations. — Third Book, Ques. 30, p. 374
The great English scientist never wrote a more admirable thing than this; and one can only marvel that for so long a time it has been so utterly ignored.
All matter therefore is ultimately force or energy, and may be ultimately considered to be pure light, which is both substance and force crystallized into material form and shape. Hence the world we live in, in its ultimate analysis, is light or radiation, crystallized or concreted light.
Sir James Jeans in his The Mysterious Universe states:
the tendency of modern physics is to resolve the whole material universe into waves, and nothing but waves. These waves are of two kinds: bottled-up waves, which we call matter, and unbottled waves, which we call radiation or light. The process of annihilation of matter is merely that of unbottling imprisoned wave-energy and setting it free to travel through space. These concepts reduce the whole universe to a world of radiation, potential or existent, . . . — 2nd ed., p. 69
One is reminded of the declaration by H. P. Blavatsky in 1888 that it will one day be discovered by scientific research that what we call our physical universe is but condensed or crystallized light.
Thus all things, nebulae and comets, suns and planets, and stones, vegetation, and our bodies too — all are crystallized or concreted light or radiation or, what is the same thing, forces balancing other forces or energies and holding them in more or less stable equilibrium.
Max Planck, a scientist of international renown, helped to break down the barriers once supposed to exist between matter and energy by his quantum theory. In attempting to account for certain electromagnetic phenomena, an intuition came to him to the effect that what is called energy is, like matter, composed of discrete quantities, i.e. unit-quantities; and that energy is not a continuous flow. If energy or force is conventionally conceivable as a continuous flow, we are driven to the thought nevertheless that energy or force, like water, is divisible into particles; as water is composed of the atoms of hydrogen and oxygen, so energy or force is now conceived of as being composed of corpuscles or particles or charges — called quanta. As matter is composed of atoms, so force or energy is now considered to be composed of "atoms" or corpuscles, likewise. These quanta are units not of energy alone, but of energy multiplied by time — most simply understood by the time during which any one of such units acts as a definite quantity, as for instance an electrical discharge and each such quantum or unit, as it is conceived, combined with the time-element is called an "action."
However, our universe in all its phenomena and appearances is illusory, physical matter in itself being the most unsubstantial and unreal thing we know. Our physical senses report but a small part of the cosmos — one or two tones of the gamut of the song of life, only a few notes of the vast range of vibrational activity that the universe contains. Further, the forces or energies which play through matter and control and guide it, are of many different kinds: the physical, the ethereal, and so on upwards and inwards until spirit itself, the cosmic originant, is reached. From this originant begins the ascent of a still more spiritual hierarchy, and so onwards, ad infinitum.
Viewing the picture from the matter-side and what is beneath it, we can find no ultimates either. The electron is not an ultimate, for there is something still beyond, within, and in a sense still more infinitesimal, which builds up the electrons and protons, etc. — these infinitesimals being parts of inferior magnitude, although by no means necessarily of inferior energy or potency.
We literally do not know how far we may go in the direction of this kind of divisibility, nor would one even venture to suggest a limiting boundary, unless it be the theosophical teaching of the substance-matter or mother-substance of any cosmic hierarchy reaching frontiers of "inwardness" or "outwardness" which we may call the frontiers of homogeneity. Such homogeneous substance would be but one of the landing-places or hierarchical ultimates in either direction of the endless ladder of being; yet what we call homogeneity is but the beginning of another and higher — or conversely lower — range or scale of hierarchical life-entities.
In connection with what was said concerning laya-centers, from one viewpoint they may be graphically described as originating points between cosmic plane and cosmic plane, or neutral centers; and as the junction-line or uniting substance between cosmic plane and cosmic plane is always the highest of the lower sub-hierarchy fusing into and becoming the lowest substance of the succeeding or higher hierarchy, it is evident that this fusion-substance or line is of homogeneous character. As nature repeats herself throughout her entire structure, so these laya-centers are not only channels of communication between cosmic plane and cosmic plane, but, otherwise viewed, could be called individualized points or monadic hearts or centers. Their number is virtually quasi-infinite.
Moreover, these laya-centers are at one time of their existence dormant until awakened into functional activity, after which they become foci of intense motion, and so remain during the life-term of the entity which through their functional operation they bring into manifested being and, in a very true sense of the word, ensoul.
Scientists say that the ultimate or rather simplest physical atom today is the hydrogen atom. But it will one day have become common knowledge that there are things still more ethereal, still simpler, so far as physical matter is concerned, than is the hydrogen atom.
There are signs that "Prout's Hypothesis" is rapidly gaining favor, although it may seem revolutionary to no small number, even in our own age which is becoming familiar with the pranks of electrons and the elfin movements of their careers. The English physician and chemist, William Prout, who died in 1850, evolved the idea that what the ancients called the prima materia or prote hyle — primordial physical substance — is what we know as hydrogen, from which gas he thought that the other elements as listed in the chemical tables were formed by some as yet unknown process of solidification or condensation and final grouping. The hypothesis gained some small currency for a while, but was finally abandoned when it was discovered upon closer research that the other chemical atoms were not exactly multiples of the hydrogen-atom.
Wider research since Prout's day and new discoveries have now explained what seemed to be the main difficulty in Prout's hypothesis. The labors of Thomson and of F. W. Aston showed that some of the so-called chemical elements did consist of a mixture of two elements which have identical chemical properties but actually possess differing atomic weights. These were called by Soddy isotopes, from the Greek compound, signifying having the same place in the chemical table. Chlorine for instance with atomic weight of 35.46 was thus demonstrated to be not a single unitary element but a mixture of atoms possessing chlorine-properties, but with the respective weights 35 and 37. Similar results were obtained with several of the other elements; so that the atomic weights of the other elements in the chemical tables thus far examined are at present known to be very nearly whole numbers which actually are, as Prout pointed out, multiples of hydrogen. As Dampier-Whetham states in A History of Science:
Prout's hypothesis, that they are all multiples of that of hydrogen, has now been proved to be true, the slight discrepancy being both explicable by and of surpassing interest in the modern theory of the atom. — 2nd ed., 1930, p. 391
If the physical chemists are right, and the hydrogen atom is composed of but two corpuscles — a single electron with a companionate proton — they must de facto be each one a self-contained and self-enduring yet composite entity; otherwise neither could exist as an individual unit. The Esoteric Philosophy regards every physical unitary entity, whether macrocosmic or ultra-microscopic, as a composite; and hence even these so-called ultimate particles of physical substance are themselves divisible into still other component units — were our resources of investigation and our technique able to carry our work into the ultra-infinitesimal. The idea of all this is that the roots of things are in the invisible worlds; in consequence, the true explanation of things is to be found in the invisible worlds.
Few indeed realize that the atoms of even our physical frames imbody terrific forces, which, because they are so amazingly balanced in equilibrium, hold our bodies in coherent and enduring form. Yet we, as monadic beings in our inmost, manage in some wonderful instinctive manner to hold together in fairly stable equilibrium those fearfully powerful and almost incomprehensible forces that constantly play through us, so that we exist on this physical plane as corporeal entities, and do so almost unconsciously; and we are not torn to pieces by these natural genii that we unconsciously imprison within our physical frames!
It has long been a dream that man could harness the immense sources of power in the atomic world. It has been estimated that a single cubic centimeter of the earth is so packed with electrical power that if the latter's positive and negative poles could be divorced and concentrated at points a centimeter apart, the attraction between them would be a force equivalent to a hundred million million million tons.
One hundred quintillion tons! Think how many cubic centimeters of matter are contained in our physical bodies, and of the incomprehensibly stupendous play of forces, and balancing of them, that occurs incessantly. Consider also how our body retains its form in adulthood relatively unchanged as the years go by. It is the amazingly powerful inner and invisible monadic being, controlling these immense forces of the etheric realms of nature, which molds us both astrally and physically — to say nothing of the still more subtle forces working in the psychological and spiritual fields of our being. And behind these psychological and astral parts there is the spiritual entity, controlling forces still more marvelous, for the spiritual monadic entity is the root of our being. Unthinkably vast as is the source of energy locked up in the atom, it differs both in potency and in quality from those far higher and more potent spiritual wavelengths of energy of the spirit which pass from star to star.
Sir Oliver Lodge in his Ether of Space says that the available energy, could man only harness it, lying in one cubic millimeter of etheric matter, which is a particle no larger than the head of an ordinary pin, is enough to supply a million horsepower working continuously for forty million years!
Such things does science tell us of this seemingly empty space, which is in reality the etheric world of the cosmic astral plane. Our senses cannot report more than what they themselves can gather from within the range of etheric vibrations that they have been evolved to utilize. When we recollect that our own physical sphere is nothing but a vast agglomerate of electric charges in the bodies of the different atoms of which physical matter is composed — which electronic "sub-atoms" are as widely separated from each other as are the celestial bodies in our own physical sphere — there is small difficulty in recognizing the fact that beings with a sense apparatus different from our own could easily look through our physical bodies and through the body of our earth as if these were "empty space." Indeed, had we the "etheric eye," we should perceive the intra-atomic ether in which we physically live, and we should be invisible to each other as physical bodies. Only an occasional electron would flash like a streak of light across our vision — an electron symbolical of electric energy.
The five human senses, for instance, are the products not only of evolution, but likewise of interworking and interwoven forces active in the various matters which compose the universe. Furthermore, it is the teaching of the Esoteric Tradition that these senses with their respective sense organs, numbering five at the present time, but to number seven, if not ten, in the distant future, were not all evolved simultaneously, but appeared in serial order, albeit there were always in every sense the adumbrations of the other senses. Thus hearing was the first sense developed; touch followed it; then in regular series came sight, taste and smell. It is interesting to compare this series of five organs with the "octaves" of radiation which science has discovered. The senses are expressions of various forms of "radiation," of forces working in material substance; although in these cases the radiations are as much of a psychomental character as they are physical, as demonstrated in the organs through which they work.
No one can as yet say just how many octaves of radiation exist. Theoretically these octaves of radiation extend indefinitely in both directions of the "scale of radiation." If we take the ordinary scale, and consider the visible radiation of light in its sevenfold varieties as the central part of this scale, and consider the right hand to be the ultraviolet range, followed by octaves of still shorter wavelength, and if we take the left-hand as being a series of octaves of radiations of longer wavelength, we have here a scale which corresponds singularly with the five human senses as thus far developed with their respective organs.
Thus, beginning at the extreme left-hand in the range of long wavelengths, we have the wireless waves covering some eleven or twelve octaves as thus far known, and which express themselves as sound, thus corresponding to our sense of hearing. Passing along the scale toward the right, and thus through octaves of wavelengths which grow progressively shorter, we pass through those waves which produce in us the sense of heat, touch, which thus follows hearing. Continuing our journey to the right and thus traversing octaves of waves of steadily decreasing length, we reach the range of visible radiation with its sevenfold spectrum, and thus find our organ of sight responding here to the impacts upon it of wavelengths which it can receive and translate to the mind. Continuing our journey through the scale to the right, and thus entering into wavelengths of constantly decreasing length, we enter the ultraviolet range of the scale, which corresponds to our sense of taste; and continuing our journey to the right and into wavelengths growing still shorter, we enter into the range of the x-rays, which correspond to our sense of smell.
Two other senses, with their corresponding organs, will be developed in the human body before our time-period on this globe in this fourth round is ended, and these two senses of which we have only intimations will be discovered to correspond with the wavelengths which are found toward the extreme right end of the radiation scale, thus far known — reaching into the end of the x-rays and into the beginning of the gamma rays.
Then, when evolution brings forth the three highest senses before humanity leaves this planetary chain, scientists of that distant time will realize that these three senses, as yet utterly inactive in man, will correspond as they unfold with what in that time will be the farthest reaches of the radiation scale toward the right — i.e. wavelengths still shorter than the gamma rays, and which we may describe as cosmic rays. Of course this does not mean that the radiation scale in nature ends there. It merely signifies that the perfected humanity of that far future will have become self-consciously responsive to radiation, which now is but slightly understood or only suspected.
As pointed out by Sir James Jeans in his book Through Space and Time: "Our ears can hear eleven octaves of sound, but our eyes can only see one octave of light." Logically this could seem to mean that our ears as a sense organ are far older and therefore more capacious in function than are our eyes. The difference between ability to sense and interpret eleven octaves as in hearing, and one octave as in sight, while not immense is certainly significant. Also in occultism every one of our senses, considered now as psychomental, vital-astral organic functions, contains within itself the potentialities and capacities, albeit latent, of every one of the other senses. Thus, the sense, and to a less extent the organ, of sight, contains not only its own capacity and particularized function of vision, but likewise, more or less latent, the other four senses of hearing, touch, taste and smell. Similarly so with the other senses.
Every one of the seven great root-races of mankind, succeeding each other serially in time, brings out into full functional activity and likewise in regular serial order one of the seven senses, although including of the as yet undeveloped senses, in imperfect manifestation. Thus:
|Second Root-race:||Hearing and Touch|
|Third Root-race:||Hearing, Touch, and Sight|
|Fourth Root-race:||Hearing, Touch, Sight, and Taste|
|Fifth Root-race:||Hearing, Touch, Sight, Taste, and Smell|
|Sixth and Seventh||Root-races toward their end will evolve each its own appropriate sense, with its appropriate organ; and thus the series of seven completely developed senses, each with its appropriate organ and organic function, will all be in activity at the end of the seventh root-race on this globe in this fourth round.|
Thus each sense contains in potentiality the radicles or rudiments of all the other senses which will follow at any time. As a matter of fact, all these senses are but specializations of the interior and unifying source of them all.
There is something more in man, by which he may learn and look out upon universal and invisible nature, than his mere sense-apparatus: the faculties and powers of his own inner god, of practically infinite capacity because it is linked inseparably with the god-nature of the universe, and therefore is able to go to the roots of things, to cosmic reality itself, for this inner god is an individualized but identic part of the cosmic reality.
When the science of the future shall have realized that physical beings cannot exist without an inner focus of energy or "soul," it will then become a truly philosophical science. It will have come to understand that the physical world is but the expression of the forces and ethereal substances flowing into it, and thereby composing it, from spheres and worlds which to our present sense apparatus are invisible — and which we may call the "soul" of the physical world.
Unfortunately, this marriage of science with the Esoteric Philosophy has not yet been reached. Nevertheless, Truth is the holiest thing that man can aspire to have, and unquestionably today the best minds in science are seekers after Truth.