The Theosophical Forum – July 1942


In our day of scientific-technical production the statement "not strictly scientific" is more or less equivalent to a testimonium paupertatis, signifying spiritual poverty. It is a pity indeed that outsiders tend to label Theosophy too as being unscientific. Is there any sound argument for this accusation?

If one makes oneself acquainted with Theosophical literature, one finds it often and again emphasized that science, philosophy, and religion are indivisibly One — each being but one aspect of the sublime Reality. Then there is no room for doubt whether the Old Wisdom, nowadays called Theosophy, may claim or even of necessity must claim itself to be scientific as well. But at the same time it will be clear just why "outsiders" incline to label Theosophy as being unscientific. It is because, except in Theosophy, science, philosophy, and religion are considered to be three separate, independent departments of human thought. "A thing is accepted as scientific only in so far as it is not influenced by philosophic ideas or religious sentiments," it is said.

But Theosophy is of a distinctly different opinion. According to its views the scientific pattern cannot and may not be disconnected from the philosophic and religious warp and woof. This intermingling of science, philosophy, and religion, which is an essential of the Theosophical trend of thought, is seen by the outsider as a state of confusion and lack of clearness. That is why he sticks his label "not strictly scientific" on to Theosophy.

It is rather of some importance for Theosophy to exculpate itself. Not that this imputation will do it any harm in the eyes of its followers, who know better indeed, but the reputation of not being scientific certainly does hinder its propagation, especially among its most science-minded investigators.

In my opinion this charge is most effectively refuted by pointing to the fact that Theosophy acknowledges the discoveries of science, and indicates how these discoveries more and more accurately support the teachings of the Old Wisdom. And is there a more convincing proof to be found in favor of the scientific purport of those teachings than the fact that time and again the most modern scientific discoveries prove to be in agreement with the statements of the Old Wisdom, as far as these can be separated from the closely related philosophic and religious truths?

Now the Old Wisdom comprises a number of statements concerning the influence of the Cosmos on earth-life and human affairs. As yet the main part of these statements cannot be given out in clear, direct terms, as these influences involve hidden causes. But even exoteric literature contains a number of indications on this subject. Therefore it is of no small importance to compare these hints and indications with the explanations given by modern science.

It was not so very long ago that science did not see any reason to bother itself about such influences. When Herschel, one of the most intuitive minds in the field of astronomy, ventured to surmise that a number of events on earth, like food shortage, failure of crops, famines, and the like, perhaps are connected with the frequency and number of sunspots, one of his critics remarked that "since the publication of Gulliver's travels the world had not been offered a more perfectly ridiculous idea than this one!"

Gradually Herschel has been put in the right, after his seemingly unbelievable statement was carefully compared with the facts. In our day nobody hesitates to accept the close relationship between the period of sunspots and the most divergent events on the earth. Not only do they show identical periods of 11 or 12 years, but also reflect with greatest accuracy all details of each such particular period.

Nowadays we know with unshakable and mathematical certainty that there exists an immediate connection between the period of 11 or 12 years of the sun's activity — making itself known in the frequency of sunspots — and vegetation. This appears, among others, in the width of the annual rings of trees. In one and the same cycle of sunspots they appear periodically in different widths. It has been stated that in the case of fossil tree-stumps this connection between sunspots and vegetation existed long before the ice-age.

The same cycle which has been detected in magnetic influences and disturbances, and in the frequency of polar lights on earth. In fact there exists so intimate a connection between these phenomena that the appearance of a particularly large sunspot enables us to announce beforehand the occurrence of a magnetic disturbance or of strong polar lights. However, not only is the magnetic field of our earth proved to be in close relationship with the solar activity, but almost all earthly manifestation as well. Science even suspects this relation in meteorological phenomena, although it has not yet succeeded in detecting clearly the connection spoken of above. From all this, science infers the existence of a very powerful Cosmic influence on earth-life — emanating from the sun.

How do astronomers explain this influence? They have discovered that sunspots are sources of strong electro-magnetic powers. From these sunspots emanate mighty bundles of lines of force, to different parts of space.

Some have compared the sun to a pulsating heart, the period of solar activity corresponding with the duration of contraction and dilation of this solar heart. If pictured in this way, the bundles of lines of force represent the veins and arteries that spring from this heart, and the electrical particles in their course along these lines of force can be compared to the blood corpuscles pushed through the organism by the pulsation of the heart.

This metaphor, which is entirely correct scientifically, emphasizes a number of particulars which must especially strike those who are acquainted with the latest discoveries of science. The polarity of the sunspots justifies the use of the words veins and arteries, for in some cases the lines of force are directed to the exterior; in other cases they are directed to the interior of the sun. Hence there must exist an outflowing as well as an inflowing of electrical particles, although the latter has not been observed as yet. Just as the human heart beats on an average of 72 times per minute, so a beat of the solar heart averages 11 or 12 years — although both may show considerable deviation from these figures.

The electro-magnetic forces residing in the sunspots, and the polarity of the spots, and the influence of the sunspots on our earth — all these are scientific facts which were entirely unknown in H. P. Blavatsky's time. But although today science has a better knowledge of the mechanism of these phenomena, yet it fails entirely in giving an explanation of the periodicity of the sun's activity, as is emphatically admitted by the most prominent investigators.

The Old Wisdom, however, can explain, because — where we are concerned with a matter of insight — it is able to free itself from the merely materialistic views of present-day science, while the latter, however effective on its own plane, is positively hampered in its philosophic and religious outlook on account of its one-sidedness. This one-sidedness, this restriction to merely materialistic phenomena, constitutes its proper force if it comes to tracing new facts. But it is decidedly its weakest point as soon as it is no longer a matter of stressing the causal connection between facts, but of penetrating to a deeper understanding of the spiritual background manifesting itself in those facts. Theosophically speaking, the latter is the proper attitude in which to approach and study natural phenomena.

Let us hear what H. P. B. says concerning the sunspots. In The Secret Doctrine we read:

"The Sun is the heart of the Solar World (System) and its brain is hidden behind the (visible) Sun. From thence, sensation is radiated into every nerve-centre of the great body, and waves of the life-essence flow into each artery and vein. . . . The planets are its limbs and pulses. . ." — I, 541-2

And further:

Thus, there is a regular circulation of the vital fluid throughout our solar system, of which the Sun is the heart — the same as the circulation of the blood in the human body — during the manvantaric solar period, or life; the Sun contracting as rhythmically at every return of it, as the human heart does. Only, instead of performing the round in a second or so, it takes the solar blood ten of its years, and a whole year to pass through its auricles and ventricles before it washes the lungs and passes thence to the great veins and arteries of the system. — Ibid

So in the periodical increase and decrease of the number of sunspots the sun's "breathing," the "pulsation of the heart of the Universe" is clearly manifested.

A little farther we read:

It [that is to say the sunspot period] is similar to the regular and healthy pulsation of the heart, as the fluid passes through its hollow muscles. Could the human heart be made luminous, and the living and throbbing organ be made visible, so as to have it reflected upon a screen, such as used by the astronomers in their lectures — say for the moon — then everyone would see the Sunspot phenomenon repeated every second — due to its contraction and the rushing of the blood.

Now, one may shrug one's shoulders and qualify such a vision as being unscientific, but while science itself confirms our metaphor with each new discovery made, one feels compelled to ask whether the reason why this metaphor reflects the observed facts with such exactitude is not simply this: that what is called a metaphor may be Reality itself. And this is precisely what the Old Wisdom teaches.

The reason why we have dwelt somewhat elaborately upon the subject of the mighty influence caused by the cycle of solar activity on earth-life, is that after a long period of scepsis science now accepts and even explains in detail this influence of our sun, at least its influence on the material Universe.

The mighty forces which govern the astral, mental, and spiritual Universe, originating in the sun's activity — science cannot dream of them before it has left the path of one-sided study of material facts. If it were the proper time to do so the Old Wisdom could reveal great truths concerning these aspects of the Universe. Then the sacred science of Astrology would rise again to that summit of reverence and holiness which it occupied in long aeons past. Science now scorns the thought that Astrology may imbody any truth at all. If we observe what is nowadays offered under the name of astrology, we can well understand the attitude of science. For what is announced as astrology on closer investigation appears to be simply a means of gaining a livelihood, and has nothing whatever in common with the loftiest of all sciences: Astrology, the Science of the Gods.

Yet, again and again modern science discovers Cosmic influences formerly unknown to it. We especially call attention to the discovery of the ultra-violet radiations from the sun, and to the newly discovered electro-magnetic radiation of a particular frequency, having great influence on the transmission of radio-waves. We also see the endeavor made by science to detect a connection between the periodicity of sunspots and the time of revolution of the planets, particularly in the case of the planet Jupiter. Considering all this we wonder for just how long a time science will maintain its scorning attitude. We feel quite convinced that before long science cannot but grasp the deep significance of the fundamental truth of the Old Wisdom, which also underlies the sacred science of ancient Astrology: that everything is related to everything else; that the Cosmos is one great, living Entity; that the Cosmos is embodied Consciousness.

And as if to stress the scientific facts just mentioned, not so long ago science discovered Cosmic rays, originating in interstellar spaces, which with almost unbelievable intensity penetrate into the earth. This wondrous discovery should be a stimulus for science to ponder upon the possibility of earth-life being influenced by even the most distant stars, which influence was formerly considered to be a silly nursery-tale. For most assuredly, in the discovery of the Cosmic Rays science may recognise a key to the true significance which ancient Astrology ascribed to the Zodiac. As yet, this key seems rusty, and science does not even know to what key-hole it should be applied! But if it continues its search, it may expect to disclose many a profound Cosmic mystery, even though it should confine itself to merely material phenomena.

Perhaps there are some among you who have expected me, in speaking about the scientific explanations of Cosmic influences, to mention also the influences that find their origin in the moon. I must disappoint you however. As yet exact science does not know of and does not admit any influences coming from the moon except those of ebb-tide and flood-tide, which the moon originates in co-operation with the sun. Theosophists will not be astonished at this attitude, since the influences of the moon are more particularly situated on the astral plane, which science is entirely unacquainted with.

Summarizing the above, we see that — as contrasted with the decennia lying not far behind us — science has met with influences originating in the celestial bodies. More especially the cycle of solar activity has its full attention and interest. Naturally, its explanations relate to the mechanical side of things only. Of the spiritual side of Nature science is entirely ignorant as yet. Still, as a consequence of its strenuous and sincere efforts to find the relationship between the facts observed, it approaches more and more to the insight that matter and spirit are two aspects of the one fundamental Reality.

As soon as science has actually attained to this stupendous insight — which will be the noblest achievement possible — it will free itself from its "splendid isolation" and re-establish its links with philosophy and religion.

Then, and not earlier, will the men of science understand and realize the full significance of the influence of the celestial bodies on earth-life. They will no longer call themselves scientists, or philosophers, or theologists, but students of the Old Wisdom. Because all the science that it can ever discover has already been known from time immemorial to the Guardians of the Gupta-Vidya.

May our evolutionary pathway soon reach these glorious heights of Knowledge, when the Higher Manas will blossom out into full consciousness, and man, the eternal Pilgrim, will fully recognise his inborn Divinity, and live up to it.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition