Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered October 19, 1930)
CONTENTS: The term physiology as used by the Greeks. — The universe an organic entity. — "So many men on earth, so many gods in heaven." — The injunctions of the Delphic Oracle. — An understanding of the phrase "the spaces of space. — Energy or energies? — Passing the Gates of Death with a vision. — Truth is the heritage of all men. — The golden chain of the teachers of mankind. — Ultimately you are your own highest teacher. Thus speaks the true teacher. — Are the operations of the universe haphazard? — Henry Drummond and his Natural Law in the Spiritual World. — What are natural "laws"? — The illusions of the lower mind. — The spiritual ties of union in the universe. What are they really? — The Sparks of Eternity. — The island-universes of the ultramodern astronomers. — The encourager within your own heart. Trust it! Follow it! Be it!
The theme, friends, which I am going to talk about this afternoon, is entitled "The Secret Physiology of the World," using this word physiology in the sense of the ancient Greeks, as meaning the indwelling multitudes of lives which infill and inspirit, which invigorate and endow, the universe with all that it contains and is — not merely the physical universe which our imperfect senses give us some impression of, but more particularly the inner universe — the spiritual universe of which our physical universe is but the outermost garment or veil. Physiology as thus understood means the science and the study of the vital powers and functions of the universe, just as physiology properly understood in its human application means the study of the vital powers and functions of the human vehicle, the human body.
The universe is an organic entity, filled full with living beings, cosmic spirits, dhyan-chohans as theosophists say — call them by what name you will — and it is the manifestations and workings of these entities dwelling behind the veil of the outward seeming which produce the marvelous variety that we see around us everywhere and which astound our intellect and bewilder our understanding. So many men on earth, so many gods in heaven! Each human being is but the outermost expression of a divine entity, of an inner god, of a spiritual-divine being of which the human expression is an imperfect and feeble reflection — a faint and imperfect reproduction in human form of the spiritual powers within. So many men on earth, so many gods in the inner worlds.
This is the root-thought which was in the minds of all the great seers and sages of the ancient times when they taught their disciples, their pupils, their followers: Look within, O Man! For in thee lie all the mysteries of the universe! Seek to fathom thine own unfathomable essence, for that unfathomable essence is boundless space! Follow the pathway of thy spiritual self leading ever more within; and then all truth and wisdom, all that there is to know, and compassion and infinite impersonal love, will be thine! "Man, know thyself!" was the profound injunction of the Delphic Oracle.
Why? Because man is a microcosm, a little world, embracing within the compass of his whole constitution (not in the compass of his physical body or in that of his mere mind, but in the compass of his entire constitution) all the energies, powers, faculties, forces — everything in fact that boundless space contains. He is a child of the Universe, and therefore is inseparable therefrom. Consequently, everything that is in boundless infinitude is in man, either in potency or in activity. You know doubtless what the old Hindu philosophers taught. They asked the question: "Kas twam asi?" "Who art thou?" And the right answer came: "Parabrahma," "the Boundless."
In these words you have a hint of what is meant by the secret physiology of the world, using the word world in the sense of the boundless universe. That universe is filled full with spiritual beings, with ethereal beings, with astral beings, each class of such entities dwelling within its own appropriate sphere, each on its own appropriate plane; and each class of such entities having bodies — vehicles, garments, veils — fitted to, appropriate for, each such sphere or plane or world, just as we human beings on earth have bodies fitted to, and appropriate for, life here.
On last Sunday afternoon I tried to call your attention, friends, to what I call the Structure of the universe — the secret structure of the universe — showing how it consisted of hierarchies upon hierarchies of varying grades and of varying stages of ethereality, and all included and encompassed by, and filled full with, the life of a super-hierarchy, at the head of which super-hierarchy was a cosmic hierarch; and I tried to show furthermore that these aggregates of hierarchies are innumerable in boundless space; that they are incomputable, that they cannot be counted; that they bestrew the spaces of space like cosmic gems, like sparks of the indwelling spiritual fire; for space per se has no beginning and it has no ending.
When I speak of space I mean not only the extension of the physical universe, which is really but one plane, one world, one sphere; I mean by the spaces of space more particularly the inner worlds — astral, ethereal, others more ethereal, and then still more ethereal worlds, then spiritual worlds, then worlds divine. Do we here reach an end? No. There are no endings of the cosmic structure anywhere except relative endings. The super-hierarchy that I have spoken of contains all the hierarchical aggregates that I have just briefly described, but it in its turn is attached, linked to, and interblended and interwoven with another still higher and grander cosmic hierarchy, thus beginning a new series of grades or steps or planes or spheres or worlds, stretching both "upwards" and "downwards" — and ever farther inwards.
These boundless spaces of space, my Brothers, are your home. You are all children of eternity, sons of infinitude; for the inmost of the inmost of you is beginningless; and the inmost of the inmost of you is therefore deathless. Show me where a thing begins, and I will show you a form of illusion, temporary, unenduring. Everything that has a beginning and an ending is a thing with form and shape, and therefore has neither permanency nor does it last. But do you imagine for an instant, my Brothers, that I am at present talking to you merely about physical things having shape? Show me where intelligence begins, where love begins and ends; where electricity begins, where even physical matter begins or ends; and still more so where spirit has its beginning and its finish and beyond which there is naught. These observations exemplify what I mean by the phrase "spaces of space." Please get this thought clearly in your minds: the spaces of space.
Now, what is the physiology of the spaces of space? What produces the vital functions, the vital powers, which indwell in these spaces of space, and which in the physical world produce the astounding variety that we see all around us: which produce the stellar host and all the circling orbs; produce here on earth every tiniest atom as it sings its way along its evolutionary path through life after life after life? It is energy — energies say theosophists; it is force — forces say theosophists; it is soul — souls say theosophists; it is cosmic spirit — cosmic spirits say theosophists; and I call these cosmic spirits by the good old name gods — existing in hierarchies of gods, supergods, gods still higher; and in the other direction, demigods, heroes (to follow the Greek names for this ladder of life), then men on earth, then the beasts, then the plants, then the mineral kingdom, and those three kingdoms of the elementals — as theosophists call these elemental entities — which live beyond, and on, and within the last-named kingdom.
The world is filled full with energies, with forces, each one of them endowed with or, more accurately speaking, possessing by intrinsic right, its portion of intelligence, of will, and of consciousness. Can you limit the ranges of these three within the encompassing material substance of man's brain cells and say that they exist only there? What a lunatic idea! Were it so, how account for their existence there alone? How explain it? Men are conscious: men have wills: men have intelligence: simply because they are particles of a universe from which they are inseparable, and from which they draw all that they have and are. They are essentially that universe; they are merely one host of the multitudes of other beings expressing these inner faculties, these inner powers — the powers and energies of these inner and invisible worlds. So many men on earth, so many gods in heaven — in the inner worlds.
Indeed, men with every breath they draw, with every movement they make as they walk, as they work, pass through, literally, the dwellings, the entities, it may be the rivers, the woods, the oceans, the lakes, of the world just above ourselves in ethereality. We humans have no conscious cognizance of it. But do you think that our physical world is the only inhabited world in boundless infinitude? Do you think that it is the standard by which to judge the possibilities of boundless infinitude? What a lunatic idea! It is a remnant of the old idea that the earth, our earth, our little earth, is the center of the universe created especially by God for man's habitat and that all the rest of boundless space, even physical space, is merely an embroidered decoration in the starry dome for the delectation and thoughtful meditation of man! Keep your medieval ideas, if you will; but to me, give me the instincts of my spirit! Give me those things which the inner eye, visioning, tells me I should follow, for it is these that I believe in and trust in; for I follow the promptings of the spirit within me and this enables me to see, and what I see, you can see it too.
Truth is for all men. All men have a power within them which can be self-consciously attained only by each man for himself. This is a power of consciousness; and as ye open yourself to this consciousness and pass the threshold of it into a more secret chamber of your inner being, you will see there a beauty, a vision of truth; and then after a time you will see another portal and you will realize that that other portal that now you begin to see is also within you, within your consciousness; and you will move towards it and open the new door, giving entrance into a world still more beautiful, still more sublime; and thus you can follow the path of the spiritual self, of the essential selfhood, of the divine selfhood within, ever more and more inwards. And that path of beauty and peace and achievement is endless; for it is you and you are the universe — each one of you.
Men and women are here on earth as a human host merely as pilgrims putting up for a while at this inn of earth, for the space of this short human life; and when ye leave it on the great adventure which begins with the coming of what men call death and so foolishly fear, ye will pass onwards, following the pathways of the universe to other destinies, all regulated entirely by what you have made yourself to be, by what use you have made of your faculties and powers here on earth; for ye will reap what ye have sown. Ye are the makers of yourself; ye are the carvers of your own destiny. Make it a noble one! Make it sublime!
Yes, we as a human host are passing through earth-life now merely as one phase of our long, long journey through eternity. We shall come back here when the cycle upon which we are at present moving turns in its spiral course, and then we shall reincarnate on earth again in human bodies. But after death — O Death, mother of peace and bliss; O Death, the opener, the one giving the vision — after death ye shall enter into the Circulations of the universe; and if ye have wrought your lives aright on earth, ye shall be cognizant of what ye see as ye pass along.
The physiology of the universe is the physiology of an organism, of a living entity; and it is the gods, and the demigods, the semigods, the heroes, the excarnate human beings, the supergods, and other entities too innumerable even to speak of because I doubt if you could understand me — it is these which provide the motivating impulses moving the universe from within and giving it its countless functions and vital powers.
Ye are children of boundless space, children of eternity. We men as children of the universe are a part of its vital forces; we take a collaborating part in the divine cosmic labor; and the gods are not only our brothers and our parents, but we men are gods in our inmost, and are even at the present time taking an active although an unself-conscious part in the grand physiological work of the universe.
Clear out of your minds the old superstitions of your religious books, the old teachings of the religions that have misled the spirit of men! Within lies truth, nowhere else! As the Lord Buddha taught: "Believe not at all what you are told merely because you are told it"; but if your conscience tells you that it is true, then hold to it, and hold to it with all the strength of your soul. Truth lies within, not without; nevertheless, that without is not yet you self-consciously, but will be.
Man is at present a god manifesting on earth in human flesh as he follows his age-long evolutionary pathway. In future periods of time he will evolve forth from himself, unwrap from himself — which is what evolution means — bring out from himself, what he is within — latent powers, latent faculties, what are now seeds of energy and intelligence and understanding — and thus he will then walk the earth as a man-god. That is your destiny. This divinity is even now within you. It is the very core of the core of your being, the very heart of the heart of you. It is within you and also above you.
Know yourself! I can tell you that one of the first instructions given to the student is: learn to know yourself so that you may know the universe of which you are an inseparable part. You can know what is outside only by the touchstone of yourself. Where is your understanding? Within. Where is your intuition? Within. Where is the power which makes you, you? Within. Where is the individuality which produces you as a man and which produces other men as men? Within. Where is your intellect? Within. Can't you see that you have everything within? So many men on earth, so many gods in heaven! This is a theme for you to think over. Oh, if men only knew what they are within!
One very important rule of nature or natural law regulating not only the structure — interior and exterior — of the universe, but also its physiology, is this: where there is one man, or one god, or one world, or one plane, or one sphere — it matters not at all what the unit may be — there is a higher, there is one superior to it, one still loftier; consequently beyond or above, within if you like, this unit, there exists a still nobler range of consciousness: a sphere, a plane, a realm, a world, still more sublime; and so on through an endless chain of succeeding degrees or stages, each one of these realms and worlds and spheres being populated, as our earth is, with beings — intelligent, sentient, conscious, feeling. Therefore men can learn and do learn from those more evolved than they are. This is nature's first law, because learning is growing. Do you see the need therefore of the existence of teachers?
Even in ordinary humanity some men are more advanced than others, and consequently know more, feel more, see more: they are the natural teachers of those who know and feel less than they. Even in ordinary humanity it is so. There are always steps, degrees, grades, on the ladder of life, and this rule prevails also in the existence of men. And much greater than ordinary men, much farther evolved, much more cognizant of the existence of the inner worlds, are the great sages and seers of the human race — the Buddhas, the Christs, the great thinkers and leaders of men.
So also it is in the inner worlds themselves. The gods inspire, guide, and are constantly engaged in work, in labor, connected with the vitalizing and inspiriting of their respective spheres. The demigods are their children; and the demigods teach the heroes, to use the Greek hierarchical names; and the heroes are the leaders and teachers of average men; and men in their turn more or less consciously guide and teach the beasts. Do you understand me, my Brothers?
Within you is the fountain of all wisdom, and ultimately you are your own highest teacher and the carver of your own destiny. That is one truth. Nevertheless there exist in the world great teachers, whose sublime labor it is to help their fellow men. There is no contradiction between these two statements. To me it is childish when I hear a man declare: "I am an incarnate god and need no teacher."
Ah! true, if that human being so speaking were indeed manifesting the divine powers within him; but such a speech proves the paucity of his spirit and the limited range of his visioning power. It takes greatness to understand greatness; it takes the vision of the spirit to be able to teach others of that vision. Can a man whose heart has no conception of greatness and whose soul does not swell with impersonal love for his fellow beings — can such a man teach others? No. But there are men who are very great indeed because highly evolved and they are the natural-born teachers of their fellows. Teaching is a necessary thing, because teaching means growing and this is nature's law.
The first lesson that the real teacher will give to his disciples is not "Follow me," but "Man, as you are rooted in the spiritual universe and are inseparable from it, in yourself is the fountain of all wisdom and light, of all peace and love, of all beauty and harmony. Follow this path to the Buddha within and above you. I," says the teacher, "will show you the way, for I have trodden it. I know the way." And the teacher gathers his pupils together as the bird will gather her young under her wings. He protects them, he guides them, he stimulates them, he fills them with intimations of spiritual and intellectual beauty, he points out to them the path, as he leads them on the forwards-going path, on the path of evolution. Thus does a true teacher act.
Men don't know what they have within them — indescriptible beauty, power to become self-consciously at one with all nature's being; for you yourself as individuals traverse, pass through, because your constitution is in tune with and at one with, all the inner spheres: the realms and the worlds which we see not and feel not; and yet in some mystic and unexplainable way we sense that these surround us and permeate us. In every man's heart — or shall I say his soul, or shall I say his mind? — there is a feeling of his oneness with all that is, and that all things are his, for he is they; that there are no insurmountable barriers beyond which he cannot pass; that boundless infinitude is his home, and that with every step that he takes forwards and inwards, he enters into more intimate associations with other classes of spiritual beings.
My first question, friends, is the following:
Are the operations that take place in the world and in the universe generally, haphazard, or are they consistent and purposive — having a purpose?
They are the latter, of course. Will you tell me, please, how the universe can be a lunatic universe? Do you see any signs of lunacy in it? How can it be haphazard? How can it be a merely fortuitous occurrence and running by chance? Where do you see in it any signs whatsoever of haphazard or fortuitous occurrences? On the contrary, everywhere prevails rigid law, so called: inflexible consecutiveness of movement from cause to effect, everything bound together in unbreakable bonds, and all betraying, especially to the inner seeing eye, a majestic plan, a sublime purpose. Is this therefore a lunatic universe? It seems to me that any thoughtful and really observant man who would free his mind from prejudices of merely human theory will have his answer written large around him and especially so within himself.
The theosophical philosophy teaches something diametrically contrary to this supposed idea of haphazard or fortuitous action. It teaches a universe which is an ensouled organism as man's body is ensouled; the ensouling energy, however, being rather a vast aggregate of consciousnesses comprising will and intelligence working all together as a harmonious organic unity, and the results of their operations which seem so inscrutable to the unenlightened and uninstructed brain-mind of man, are the marvelous symmetry and harmony in the so-called laws which are the first thing that strike the thoughtful mind in studying the universe around us. Man himself is but one host of this incomprehensibly vast aggregate of other consciousnesses. If you are interested in a more detailed answer to this question, I refer you to other lectures which I have given here in this Temple of Peace, and these lectures you will find printed in the present series of pamphlets called Questions We All Ask.
Are the different parts of the solar system connected with each other by other than physical laws, or is gravitational attraction the only bond among them?
Some years ago there was written an interesting book by a Scottish author called Henry Drummond. This book was entitled Natural Law in the Spiritual World. I was a youth at the time when I read this book, and I said to myself even then: "It is a clever work; but why in the name of all that is holy didn't the author entitle it Spiritual Law in the Natural World?" -- meaning by the term natural world what theosophists call the physical world. These so-called laws of nature which are talked so much about and which no one of the users of the term really understands, are merely the reflections in this physical world of spiritual energies and powers belonging to the entities of the inner and invisible spheres and realms, expressing themselves here. This physical universe, it should be remembered, is not the standard by which to gage infinity. Our physical universe is only one expression, one plane, one world, one sphere, of the spaces of space; and what men call the laws of the physical universe which surrounds us are merely the reflections, the expressions here, of the ethereal and spiritual vitalities and functions of the invisible and indwelling divinities which thus make up what we may truly call the physiology of the universe. The title of the book by the Scottish author that I have named is what the ancient Greeks would have called a hysteron proteron, which I may anglicize by translating this phrase as 'the cart before the horse.'
But, do you see, at the time when this Scottish author wrote, men had come to a state of mind in which they had lost all faith in anything that they could not see or could not touch or could not hear or smell or taste — thus pinning their faith to the most deceptive things that men know, the reports of our physical senses. These physical senses are indeed the most deceiving organs that men have, valuable in their way as they certainly are; while, on the other hand, the most reliable and convincingly working elements of the human constitution were virtually lost sight of: intuition, understanding, freedom from brain-mind prejudices and fads; and worst of all there was a turning away from those finer spiritual senses, whether dwelling in brain or heart or both, which are whispering, whispering, whispering, intimations of truth all the time to him who has the hearing ear.
I pity, I pity indeed, the man or woman belonging to the class that the ancient Greek philosopher, Pythagoras, called the living dead — people living in the body indeed but practically dead to the voice of their indwelling spirit; who cannot feel instinctively and see intuitively that the great things are the things which belong to the inner life of man, and not at all to the physical senses.
Let me try briefly to illustrate this. A man returns home at night. He approaches his gate. He starts aside. "A serpent," he exclaims, "coiled in my path." But then he looks again, and he finds that the supposed serpent is but a coil of rope. Perhaps the same man approaching his house at eventide saw running over the grass of the hill in front of him "a rabbit with horns" as it seemed to him; and he turns home and tells his family of "a rabbit with horns that I have seen this eventide." What he really saw were the long ears of the rabbit; but to him at the time they seemed to be horns. The supposed serpent in the path and the supposed horns of the hare were as unreal and non-existent as is the hair on an egg, but for the time being he was persuaded that he saw things which existed. It is thus that our minds are deceived, and we often hold to these delusions produced by our senses as being true, and we allow our judgment thereafter to be swayed by these illusions. These examples of illusion are drawn from the ancient Hindu writings concerning the nature of maya, illusion. It is our senses and the lower mind cooperating which produce illusion in our consciousness.
Listen, my friends: there is in each one of you an infallible guide, a touchstone of truth. It is yourself, your spiritual self, of which your animal or merely human self is a feeble and often deluding reflection. I appeal to my audience every time when I stand on this platform and speak, on every Sunday afternoon, to try to become at one with this spiritual self within you, for it is your inner god. There lie truth and wisdom and understanding and ineffable peace.
It is of course true that gravitational attraction is one bond uniting the various bodies of our solar system. There are also electrical and magnetic bonds, of course. But I can tell you that among the different members of the solar system, and similarly so as regards the other solar systems comprising our own home-universe — which is encompassed within the encircling zone of the galaxy, the Milky Way — there are other inner bonds or ties of union of many, many, many kinds: divine bonds, spiritual bonds, ethereal bonds — in fact, all the bonds of the inner and invisible worlds and realms and spheres. And it is these inner worlds and realms and spheres which compose the real universe of which our physical universe exists merely as one plane or realm or sphere.
The very bonds of union that hold the solar systems of the various suns in systematic place, in order; the very bonds of union which hold our planets in their orbits as they cycle around their primary, our own day-star; the very bonds of union which keep the different solar systems of the galaxy combined together as our own home-universe: are just these invisible and spiritual-ethereal energies or forces of titanic power working in the invisible realms of universal invisible nature. Do you ask what they really are, these inner and invisible and governing energies and forces? I will tell you: they are the vitalities and wills and consciousnesses of cosmic entities all working harmoniously and consistently and continually together, in just the same way as man's physical body is kept to its shape and holds its individual form by his own vital and volitional and conscious essences. All the innumerable hosts of life-atoms which compose even man's physical frame are held together as a unity in the grip of the vitality and will and consciousness of the man, for he, the man, is the hierarch of his hierarchy, which last is the structure and fabric of his inner constitution. In just the same way are the invisible and interior worlds held together by, bound together by, encompassed by, and swimming in the ocean of the vitality and will and consciousness of the supreme hierarch of our own cosmic hierarchy.
When I say supreme hierarch, my Brothers, please remember very clearly that I have already told you in other lectures that these cosmic hierarchies are countless in number; they are innumerable; they fill infinitude full; and in our own theosophical phraseology, we call this countless host of stars with all their inner constitutional elements and energies by the beautiful name "the Sparks of Eternity." It is the vitality and will and consciousness, therefore, of the encompassing divine being which includes within its constitution all that our universe is — both the inner and the outer parts of our universe; and it is this cosmic vitality, this cosmic will, this cosmic consciousness composing this encompassing divinity, which hold all things in order in the universe, which gives them place and retains them in harmonious adjustment, and which give us the beauty and the peace and the law so called which are so evident in the cosmic spaces.
The other universes that our ultramodern astronomers are beginning to tell us about, and which they call island-universes outside the bounds of our own galactic system, we may look upon as being a cellular aggregate — each such island-universe representing what we may call the Cosmic Cell in the body-aggregate of a cosmic super-hierarchy. A wondrous conception is this, enchanting the thought, elevating the understanding, and quickening our imagination as we ponder over the matter. Each such island-universe is a cosmic cell included in the encompassing vital individuality of this cosmic super-divinity. Paul of the Christians, who was an initiate, spoke truth when he remarked: "In it — such a divinity — we live, and move, and have our being." But just because boundless infinitude has no frontiers, has no beginning and no ending, therefore are these cosmic super-entities as numerous as, indeed vastly more numerous than, men are in their own human host.
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I regret that I have had to hold over for a number of Sundays some most interesting questions regarding man's reincarnations on earth. The short space of time still at my disposal will not permit me to answer them this afternoon. I will try to do so on another occasion; and next week on Sunday afternoon I hope to talk to you briefly and as best I may about the marvels of the spiritual world which are the causes of the secret physiology of the universe, and likewise of the secret structure or anatomy of the universe. What a theme these three subjects of thought give to us, for our hours of quiet meditation: the pneumatics of space, the secret physiology of space, and the secret anatomy or structure of space!
Man in essence is a child of boundless infinitude, a god in human flesh feebly expressing the divine powers of his inner constitution, destined in the future to take his proper place on the azure seats of the gods in the council chambers of infinity! Man is a child of space, filled with powers which he understandeth not; no plaything, as he wrongly imagines, of the winds of chance, but truly the master of his destiny when once he understands and assumes his spiritual and essential rights and obligations. And do you know, my Brothers, that he cannot assume those rights until he knows his duties: for the quickest way by which to get one's rights is to be faithful to one's obligations, to one's duties. Do you know why? Because the performing of duties and obligations are spiritual and intellectual and moral exercises which make one strong.
A true man is a noble being. A true man is an inspiration: a child of eternity, destined to traverse eternity, so to speak, in the future, as a god, on his evolutionary way to passing into a super-god, then into a sublime hierarch, and thereafter going still higher. My Brothers, each one of you in the core of the core of your being is a divinity, which divinity is the source of all that makes you what you really are, the source of all that is worth while in your life. This inner divinity is the encourager in your heart, the stimulator of your soul; it is the one who gives you courage and peace, and who fills your heart with love, and your soul with understanding. Trust it! Follow it! Be it!
Vol 2, No 16