This series of talks was given by Dr. de Purucker at the close of the Lodge meetings, mainly in 1941, when Headquarters Lodge was studying The Mahatma Letters. Stenographic reports of several more of these are in the hands of the editors and will be transcribed and published in issues of the Forum early in 1943.
COMETS AND METEORS
I would never state that meteorites are fragments of disintegrated comets, nor indeed that they are cometary material at all. When you reflect that comets or cometary material are but one stage or degree less ethereal than is a nebula, you will realize that the fundamental idea here is wrong. It is perfectly true, however, that comets gather unto themselves in their peregrinations through cosmic and solar space, the waste-material of the universe. They accrete these to themselves by attraction, and often lose them because when they pass by a sun, the solar attraction for such material things is heavy, much stronger than the very weak attraction that the comets exercise.
Reflect that any comet, even the largest known comets, are composed of material so exceedingly fine, so ethereal, that Halley's comet, for instance, one of the largest ever known perhaps, could be packed in a hand-bag and the hand-bag would not be filled; and yet some of these comets stretch for millions and millions and millions of miles, if you include the head and the tail.
Returning to meteorites: what then are these bodies? They are the waste-material, the ejecta, of former suns; and hereby hangs another wonderful tale which would take me several hours even to sketch if it were only to make that statement fully comprehensible. Perhaps I should remark that while a sun in its life-time is extremely ethereal, at its heart even spiritual, as it approaches its end, it becomes much more concrete, thick, heavy, dense, and as we Theosophists say, material, until, just before the last flicker of solar life passes out, and the sun dies or becomes extinct, all that remains is a relatively heavy body. Then with the last flicker of the solar life it passes like a shadow over a sunlighted wall, and the living center is dead: "The Sun is dead. Long live the Sun!" At death it leaves behind a body which immediately bursts into innumerable fragments, some atomic and some much larger; and these ejecta are scattered through solar and stellar space to be swept up in later aeons not only by the reimbodiment of the sun which has just died, but by other suns, and even other planets, as well as occasionally by comets. These meteorites contain many materials found also in our earth: iron, nickel, traces of copper, carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and what not.
You will remember that H. P. B. has a passage not only in her beautiful Voice of the Silence, but in one of her wonderful articles, stating that every planet was once a glorious sun which became a planet in due course of time; and that before it dies this planet once a sun will become a sun again. You have a key here to a wonderful teaching. I wish I could say more about this, but I have neither the time nor is this the place — except indeed to add that every planetary nebula becoming a planetary comet passes through a sun-phase before becoming sufficiently materialized to be a planet or planetary chain. In other words I mean to say that every planet is for a time a small sun when, just before leaving the cometary stage, it passes through a temporary sun-phase before materialized enough or concreted or gross enough to be a planet. Again, I may add that each reimbodiment of a planet or rather of a planetary chain passes again or anew through these various phases, to wit: planetary nebula, planetary comet, planetary sun, and planet.
What we call the Milky Way is already prepared world-stuff, both the luminous nebulae as well as the dark: different phases of already prepared world-stuff. You have an analogy in the human body, but of course this is not a lecture-hall on physiology, so I cannot go into that very easily.
Now then, when the time comes for a solar system to reimbody itself in the same way as a man reincarnates, a certain portion of this world-stuff which has ended its pralaya, or rather the pralaya of the former sun, detaches itself from the Milky Way and begins to pursue at first a slow and later a rapid peregrination as a comet into many portions of the galaxy, finally to reach its own destined home in space. Always keep in mind that it does this because drawn by attractions, which is really gravitation: psychic, spiritual, intellectual attractions. This nebula moves slowly at first, but gathers speed. It picks up material as it wanders through the galaxy, traversing the different solar systems: and if it is fortunate and escapes being drawn into the stomach of one or another of the always very hungry suns (strange way to speak of imbodied divinities!) then it finds its place in space, and its movement of translation stops. It has other movements in common with all galactic bodies; but its cometary wanderings, the cometary wanderings of the "long-haired radical" as H. P. B. calls the comet, stops because it has found its home, its locus. It then settles and is now much more concrete, much less spiritual, much less astral, as we say, than it was as a nebula, because time has passed, ages have passed during which it was a comet: and furthermore it has been gathering material, the "refuse of the mother," the detritus of the cosmic dust, her breath, her refuse, which it has been feeding on and taking into itself. Strange paradox that in all the rupa-worlds entities feed — not so in the arupa. There their food is intellectual ambrosia or nectar, as the Greeks said of their Olympian divinities.
Now when it has thus settled in the place which is the locus of the solar system reimbodied, the solar system that was, and more or less in that same place (karman you see), the nebula or comet has become a vast lens or disk-shaped body of astral stuff — call it nebular matter, call it cometary matter if you will — with laya-centers here and there scattered through it, like organs in a body. We may call these laya-centers by the more common name in science and say that they are the nuclei. In the center is the largest such nucleus which grows or develops or evolves into becoming a sun. The smaller nuclei around it in this nebular comet or cometary nebula grow to be the beginnings of the planets, and this is the beginning of the solar system. In the commencement of its beginning, as it were, the sun is voracious and attempts to swallow his younger brothers the planets, until the laws of nature come into operation, and attraction and repulsion come into play, of which science today knows only one: attraction, and calls it gravity or gravitation, although it seems to me repulsion is just as active in the universe as gravity. To me this gravity-theory is one-sided. If you will consider the behavior of the comets which come into the solar system, and how the tail of the comet always points away from the sun, you will see repulsion at work. Scientists think the repulsion is due to the action of light on the very small particles of molecules in the cometary tail. If you like. It is repulsion. As the comet approaches the sun, the head goes first, and tail afterwards; then as it sweeps around, the tail is always heading away from the sun, and when it leaves the sun after circuiting it, the tail precedes and the head follows.
Now the solar system is thus brought into being and finally becomes that solar system as we see it with our eyes. That means a lot, that phrase, with our eyes; and soon the solar system begins its career as a now formed entity. The planets slowly become more material and less ethereal. The divine laws of the celestial mechanism we call the solar system are established as now we see them working.
Now we pass over ages and we come to the ending of the life of the sun, which means the ending of the life of the solar system, for the sun is King in his kingdom. The sun feeds on the refuse of inter-planetary and inter-solar stuffs which it sucks in with its immense force and rejects as we humans do. This is the body of the sun I am talking about. This refuse, this matter in cosmic space, is the detritus of former dead suns, as you will see in a moment. Now we are approaching the end of the life of the sun. The sun's powers begin to weaken. Actually what is happening is that his manvantara is ending, his pralaya is almost beginning. His life on inner planes is opening, and that takes vitality from this plane. Therefore we say the sun is weakening in his power. That is all it means, and that is all death is: the transference from this plane to interior planes of a large part of the vitality existing on this plane when the body is at full strength.
Finally the sun dies. But long before this all the planets have died and have disappeared. I cannot tell you where here, it would take too long. Sufficient to say that the sun knows. The sun when the moment of its death comes bursts, explodes, into simply innumerable fragments of various sizes, sun-stuff, which originally were almost as ethereal as spirit; but as the sun grew older became more and more compacted, more and more materialized, concreted, until when the sun is dying, practically dead, it is not a solid body yet but on the way to becoming solid. But it explodes; there is a tremendous — words just lack to explain this — not flash, a tremendous volume or outburst of light and power spreading throughout our solar system, and far beyond its confines. Every now and then astronomers today will discover what they call novae, a Latin word meaning "new stars." But what they see is just the opposite: a death of a star; and they will see some of these novae expand and then actually dim, some very quickly, some requiring years and years.
Now then, all these fragments which were once sun-stuff grow constantly more material. Finally they become the meteors and meteorites of interstellar spaces. Originally spirit-stuff, Mulaprakriti, they are now some of the most solid portions of prakriti, iron, nickel, carbon, and all the other things that our scientists have found in the meteorites which have reached this earth. These meteorites wander through space for ages and ages until the imbodiment of the solar system comes again. Thus the cometary nebula picks up uncounted numbers of these meteorites, thus bringing back as it were its life-atoms of the former body of the solar system into its new body, just as we humans do. But it takes ages and ages for the solar system to gather up all these meteorites; and as a matter of fact all the meteorites that traverse our solar system are not due to the explosion of our former sun. Multitudes and multitudes of them are, but multitudes are not, but are the explosions of other suns in interstellar space which have wandered far and have become caught by our sun in its former state, or by our planets in their former state.
And one final thing: We have thus seen what a sun-comet is, or a comet which becomes a sun in the solar system. But a comet may be the pre-birth state either of a sun or of a planet. During the lifetime of a solar system, every one of our planetary chains has its periods of manvantara and pralaya, in other words every planetary chain dies and is imbodied again, and dies and is imbodied again in our system before the solar system and the sun in that system reach the time of their pralaya. In other words, our planetary chains reimbody themselves many many times during the lifetime or manvantara of our solar system. How is this done? The chains die, their inner principles begin their peregrinations along the circulations of the universe, exactly as a man's ego dies and returns. Remember I am just giving the barest outline, just a touch here and a touch there, leaving out 99 percent of what should and could be said. How does each such planetary chain-ego, as it were, come back to our solar system? By detaching itself where it was resting as part of the already prepared world-stuff of the Milky Way exactly as the sun-comet or cometary sun did when the solar system was reimbodying. In this instance the comet is a planetary comet which wanders through space, comes back to our solar system, is attracted here, becomes a small sun, and dying of this state because of materializing, becomes a full planetary chain, settles in life as what we call the planet and begins its new Day of Brahma.