Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered January 18, 1931)
CONTENTS: Harmony in both infinitesimal and cosmic spheres. — Universal harmony mistaken for ineluctable fate. — From determinism to indeterminism. — Theosophy shows the middle way. — Our relation to the gods. — Instability of scientific theories. — Extracts from lecture by Sir James Jeans. — He postulates an illogical theory. — Do we exist by accident? — Is universal death the ultimate goal of humanity? — The lost key to Occidental science. — The universe friendly to human life. — Einstein touches theosophical truth. — Theories as to the nature of God. — Tendency to anthropomorphize. — Confusion of meanings of the term 'space.' — Island-universes of modern astronomy. — Impersonal love the heart of the universe.
Friends — old friends and new friends, friends of the ages past and those of you who, mayhap, for the first time hear something of our wonderful theosophical teachings — Greetings and Peace!
The title of my lecture this afternoon is: 'Is Our Universe Mad?' Do you live in a universe which is mad? Are you therefore yourselves crazy? Or is there an instinct within you which tells you that the mighty orbs of space pursuing their revolutions so majestically, so harmoniously, so peacefully with each other, are all symbolic of the fact, indeed are standing proof, that the universe is harmonious with itself, every part with every part, and that a cosmic insanity is the very last thing that human beings or any intelligent, sentient, self-conscious, thinking entity may find in boundless space?
If the universe is mad, if it is a helter-skelter universe, a crazy universe, then we are all crazy. If so, there is then neither cause nor reason for existence; and in the universe there is naught but fortuity sitting supreme as the Goddess of Chance, and ruling, not by irrevocable fate indeed, but by her own essential being — fortuity, chance, helter-skelterism, haphazardism. Where do we see a proof of this anywhere? Search the infinitesimal worlds and you find the same majestic law and order that prevails in the cosmic spheres. In both you find harmony, in both you find cooperation; in both you find everything living for everything else and all working unto some grandiose and predestined end, which we human beings, although we have self-consciousness and intellect, can indeed sense the existence of, but of which we cannot understand all the details as expressed in the cosmic process.
How fine it is that we have this intuition of the cosmic order! How splendid a promise it is of a greater light to come to us, of new realms of being to explore in the future, as our faculties evolve and expand! Think what it means to see before us as our present and also our future destiny the vision of ourselves as inhabitants of a boundless sphere, of an incomprehensibly vast universe, in which of course at present we live and move and have our being, but of which our poorly developed understanding as yet gives us so feeble an image. However, we sense a future before us every step towards which enables us to envisage something grander than that which now we know. How fine it is that, great as we are as human beings, we are growing to an ever expanding realization of how much greater and grander the cosmos is than we are, and how filled it is with wonder and beauty, with harmony and symmetry, with everlasting peace flowing forth from its heart of love, which is the heart of harmony.
A mad universe would mean that it could not hold together for a fraction of an instant of time. No part would cohere with any other part, but everything would be helter-skelter, indeed a crazy universe both in general and in particular. Where do we sense all this? Nowhere. Indeed, we see so much to the contrary that some philosophical minds have actually spoken of the universe as being in the grip of an ineluctable Fate, thereby misreading and misconstruing indeed, but nevertheless recognizing the energy, the power, the consistency, and therefore the majesty, of the laws of the cosmos. All the deductions of the scientific researches and teachings, all the estimated truths that our modern philosophical scientists are bringing to us, are based on the one unquestionable fact that nature in her operations pursues invariable processes, which because they are invariable and work continuously without interruption, men call universal law, or universal laws.
Suppose that our scientists were faced with a picture, with a panorama, of being which had no invariable processes of action at all, indeed no processes of any kind, but only blindly driven atoms flying hither and yon throughout the spaces of boundless space. Could there be any such thing as human science whatsoever? Obviously not, for there would be no basis of regularity, of order, of system; and furthermore, the human mind as a part of the cosmic process would be entirely irregular, unsystematic, incapable of logical and coherent thought. Neither the one nor the other exists.
Yet mark you, there is afloat in the scientific world today a teaching which is called indeterminism, signifying that there is at least relatively disjointed and uncontrolled action of individuals apart from the cosmic process, from which notion the idea seems to flow that there is chance, fortuity, in the universe. How can this be? How can one atom be driven by chance, be governed or ruled by chance, and that same chance not prevail everywhere? That one atom then would be outside the laws and regularity of boundless infinitude, and it is obviously not so.
The meaning of this last idea is that some of our great scientific thinkers have revolted against the ideas of the scientists of another generation now dead, who taught a rigid physical determinism, implying that the universe is held in the grip of an ineluctable and inescapable fate; and (mark you here the poor logic) a fate — meaning an invariable course of action — working fortuitously, haphazardly, helter-skelter! What is the matter with these particular Occidental thinkers? Let them use the logic of their minds, let them rigidly follow out their own philosophical principles based as these latter are claimed to be on natural laws and processes. Either chance rules the universe or law does; and we see chance nowhere and law everywhere.
Revolting from the bygone materialistic doctrines of a generation of scientific thinkers now dead, and rightly so revolting, some of our greatest modern scientific thinkers have run to the other extreme of fantasy, and now are attempting to preach a doctrine which they call indeterminism, implying that there is chance of a new kind in the universe, a chance existing at the heart of things, thus again implying that the universe is not governed by orderly and systematic processes, ruled by law, which last is but the recognition of harmony, beauty, love, peace, evolution, everywhere.
Some of our modern scientific thinkers are great men indeed. Theosophists call them our best friends; they are doing our work albeit in their own way; they have approached in recent years some of our theosophical teachings wondrously close, but not yet have they found and adopted what is the master key to nature's holy of holies. This master key of thought is the following: all Nature is ensouled; it is a vast organic entity, every part interworking, interlocked, interrelated, with every other part, and thus all working together towards that same distant consummation, which human beings vaguely sense but obviously cannot fully understand, because the consummation is too great for our presently undeveloped minds; nevertheless our understanding is growing to apprehend it ever more as our faculties expand through evolutionary growth.
How wonderful it is, I repeat, that there are always to be discovered these greater scenes beyond as our imperfect faculties evolve more and expand; that nature with every geological era takes on a new face, portrays a new aspect of herself, and that because of this we continuously are able to see new beauties and new marvels everywhere as we grow. Life is wonderful; growth is full of happiness, for every step in growth is a step nearer to nature's heart.
You have therefore your choice: are you all crazy, my Brothers, the haphazard offspring of a mad, of a crazy, universe, or are you, as theosophists have taught from immemorial times, sons of the gods, self-conscious beings passing through an experience on earth on our long evolutionary pilgrimage to greater and ever greater things — an evolution which is endless, which had no beginning, which will have no end? Choose! I know what your choice is.
Yes, life is intrinsically beautiful and full of mystery and wonder, and the more you see of life the more you realize that beauty, and the less you see of life the less you realize the wonder of it.
Think what it means to be a collaborator with the gods in the cosmic work; and that is just what we obviously are. We are here in this universe; we are self-conscious entities; we have willpower and choice, and we work or fail to work as we choose; but nevertheless we choose — and this is exercising a godlike faculty; and we abide, we must abide, by the results of our choice. But all the same we collaborate with the powers that rule the universe, that govern it, call these powers by what name you will. I call them by the good old name, gods for that indeed is what they are. Some of you may prefer to call them Angels and Archangels, what not — Powers, Principalities, Virtues, Dominions, and all the other etcetera of names. What do names mean after all? Let us not quibble over names. The idea is the important thing.
We are the children of the gods — not children born as human children are born, but their spiritual offspring, living in their vital spheres, which in their aggregate are our universe. Just as the atoms composing a man's body live in his vital sphere, which is the universe of those atoms, similarly in the vital spheres of the gods do we live and move and have our being. Thus are we children of the gods — essentially gods ourselves therefore, in our innermost beings; for the heart of the heart of the heart of a man is a divine spark, a divine entity; and all the work of evolution is merely the bringing out into ever grander expression of the energies and faculties and powers of this god — shall I say within or above? — but at any rate of this divine entity which I call the inner god.
In future aeons when evolution shall have done its wondrous work upon us, then we, my Brothers, shall ourselves have evolved forth the god within us — each one of you will have evolved forth the god within each one of you — and then we shall be not only as gods, we verily shall be gods. In the far distant aeons of the future this shall come to pass. Look even now at the almost impassable gulf of feeling and of thought, of consciousness and of faculty, between the beasts and man: man, the proud possessor and exemplification of his fiery intellect which can probe the abysses of space or the equally wondrous abysses of the atom, and also the possessor of feeling which can encompass the universe in its reach, so that even human love is akin to divine love; for the man who loves greatly is a great man.
Even now these faculties are within us, and evolution will simply bring them forth into ever greater and greater perfection, and more and more of them in all their amazing variety. Thus and therefore in times to come we shall be gods, not only on earth but elsewhere.
Is our universe mad? Or is there law in the universe? Is there harmony in the universe? Is there order in the universe? Are things regular in process and in action? Your own mind tells you the proper answer. Admit any one of these last four questions as conveying a fact, and your inevitable answer is: Yes, the universe is sane, the universe is not crazy.
Let me now tell you something, my Brothers. The theosophist more than any other man recognizes with profound gratitude the wonderful and often self-denying work that our most eminent scientists are doing. As I have told you, science is our best friend. But at the same time we are scientific students and we know that all scientific theories vary from age to age, because the theories and hypotheses of science are merely the teachings, the ideas, of great scientific men who emit them, who formulate them and emit them, at different periods as the years flow by into the ocean of the past; and as scientific knowledge steadily increases, so do these scientific teachings, ideas, theories, hypotheses, grow profounder, greater, wiser, and more impressive as time passes; so that in very truth what is the orthodox (I use the word advisedly) scientific teaching of one century is a forgotten scientific teaching of a thousand years after, or of five hundred years, or of a hundred years after, it may be. Theosophists are profoundly grateful to these self-denying, thoughtful, earnest, devoted, and in most cases kindhearted scientific researchers; but we don't accept what they say as the whole truth of the universe. We know better.
I am going to read to you some extracts from a newspaper containing a cabled report dated from London, November 29, 1930, giving the views of one of the most prominent and justly renowned British physicists, Sir James Jeans, a man who has come — in one or two ideas of his that I have frequently spoken of from this platform — marvelously close to our theosophical teachings. But now I am going to quote to you some statements of his that seem to me to be strangely inept; and I marvel how a man of his intellectual capacity and evident scientific insight can emit theories that seem to me to fight like the very devil with other theories that he himself has put forth. Is illogic a scientific virtue? I doubt it. Before I make any further extended comment, let me first read to you the following:
The universe is actively hostile to life like our own.
Human life — indeed all life — arose through a mere accident.
An ice age of universal death must eventually destroy life on the earth, and man will leave the universe as though he had never been.
This is, then, all that life amounts to: to stumble almost by mistake, into a universe which was clearly not designed for life [Why are we here?], and which, to all appearances, is either totally indifferent or definitely hostile to it, to stay clinging on to a fragment of a grain of sand until we are frozen off, to strut our tiny hour on our tiny stage with the knowledge that our aspirations are all doomed to final frustration, and that our achievements must perish with our race, leaving the Universe as though we had never been.
Above all else we find the universe terrifying [Don't you pity him?] because it appears to be indifferent to life like our own [Why are we here? I repeat]; emotion, ambition and achievement, art and religion all seem equally foreign to its plan. [Why do they exist?]
Perhaps, indeed, we ought to say it appears to be actively hostile to life like our own.
Into such a universe we have stumbled, if not exactly by mistake [Whose mistake?], at least as the result of what may properly be called an accident.
For him it would seem that the universe is mad, ruled by fortuity or accident. Life is hostile, he says, cosmic life is hostile to human life, and nevertheless here we are, by accident! How can these contradictions be pictures of natural truth? Use your brains! I tell you that this series of pessimistic observations is a mere theory. Where do we see it corroborated anywhere? Show me an accident anywhere and prove it to be an accident. You cannot; because that which you may call an accident had a cause; and that cause in turn had itself a cause; and behind that cause was still another cause — a chain of causation from eternity to eternity; and where is your accident in such a chain of cause and effect?
It seems incredible that the universe can have been designed primarily to produce life like our own.
Quite so in one sense: primarily to produce men! This is the old Occidental theological theory that the whole of boundless space exists merely in order to produce you and me and our earth, so that I, as one of the race of human beings, can stand and wave my arms at you! Immortal gods! What an amazing return to a worn-out theological nightmare!
At first glance, at least, life seems to be an utterly unimportant by-product: we living things are somehow off the main line.
What does that mean? What is this main line? A crazy universe producing us because it could not produce us! And yet we are here — here by accident! Cosmic insanity producing accidents which give birth to human life on earth! Chaos producing cosmos, order, system, arrangement, law, method, evolution, progress, harmony, peace! Think! That is what theosophists say to our friends: we try to show them that it is man's first duty to think for himself, to reject that which his conscience rejects and to hold to that which he believes to be true. And now comes the end of this remarkable series of assertions:
It matters little by what particular road this final state is reached; . . . the end of the journey cannot be other than universal death.
Do you think that Sir James Jeans really believes this himself? If he does, then I would like to ask him a question: Why is it that we were not dead long ago? It has ex hypothesi taken infinity to produce us and to bring us to this present time all by accident; and I suppose that the human race will disappear through the working of another cosmic accident! The glamour of a great name, such as that of Sir James Jeans, has enormous psychologic power, but no theosophist worthy of the name will ever allow his intellect to be swayed merely by the glamour of great names. It is our bounden duty as men to think for ourselves.
Question: Is universal death the ultimate goal of humanity? Is the universe actively hostile to man, or is man hostile to universal law?
My answer to both these questions is an emphatic No. Now think a moment: how could either the one or the other be? If the universe were hostile to man, how is it that man is here? He could not have been produced by accident or otherwise if the universe were hostile to him, for the entire weight of the cosmic organism and life would have been against his production by accident or otherwise. Think what this asseveration means: the universe, boundless space, essentially hostile to something which nevertheless is brought forth itself by an inexplicable accident, although as just said the universe is hostile to the production of human life, to his very being! Do you understand me?
On the contrary, our theosophical teaching is and has been from immemorial time (and this theosophical teaching is the same as that of all the great sages and seers of all the ages), that man is essentially at home in the universe; the universe is his eternal dwelling-place and his everlasting home. He is an inseparable part of the universe; and every part of him — spirit, soul, mind, consciousness, all the powers and faculties of him, inner and outer, visible and invisible, are at one with cosmic law, with cosmic harmony, with cosmic love, with cosmic substance, with the cosmic processes, which have produced him strictly and rigidly in accordance with themselves, with their own characteristics, and with their own movements and processes.
Such ideas as these of Sir James Jeans are mere theorizing; they are a theory only. The following is what the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind, today called theosophy, teaches: that man is essentially at one with the universe, which is his eternal dwelling place; that the universe and he are essentially one; that the very core of the core of the human being, his root, is the universe itself. He is inseparable from it; he cannot ever leave it; he is a part of it, he is its offspring. Therefore what man shows or manifests he shows because the universe itself shows it, because it comes from the universe of which he is a child and an inseparable part; and if man shows intelligence and consciousness and love and pity and compassion, harmony and peace and the sense of beauty, as he undoubtedly does, these therefore are likewise in the Universe of which man himself is an inseparable part. The part cannot contain nor show what the cosmic Whole has not. Do you understand? The part can contain only what is within the whole, the All. This simple fact should be obvious enough to everybody.
This oneness of all beings with the universe is the lost key of religion, of philosophy, and of science, in your Occident, my Brothers, the lost key to natural truth; and this lost key, this lost key of feeling and thought, nevertheless is slowly coming back to thinking men of the West. More and more numerous are the thinkers today in the Occident who are beginning to understand because they have begun to realize this wondrous truth: I am a child of the Universe; I am a child of the universe in all the universe's parts; I am blood of its blood, bone of its bone, thought of its thought, life of its life, flesh of its flesh; It is I and I am it. Out of the womb of being I came, and with expanding consciousness through the ages I evolve. How simple and how grand is this thought! Truly beautiful, because true.
With deep respect to so great a scientific theorizer I must nevertheless recall to his thought, that stern and inflexible logic is one of the outstanding characteristics of the truly scientific mind. Yea, my Brothers, we are here because the universe has brought us forth from within itself. Here we are. Pause and reflect over what this means. Therefore because we are inalienable parts of the universe, the universe is very friendly to us.
Why should so great a scientific thinker set up man, in his present imperfect evolutionary stage or condition, as the standard by which to gage boundless infinitude and all the hierarchies of animate and sentient beings existing elsewhere, and say that the universe is hostile to human life? The two ideas run not together; the two conceptions hang not together at all. The niverse is friendly to human life, otherwise we should not, we could not, be here — I mean that we could not even exist.
I am the universe; the universe is I. My spirit is a spark of the central fire; my mind is a reflection of the cosmic soul; the very atoms of my physical body are the same as the atoms which vibrate in symphonic harmonies in the celestial bodies which begem the violet dome of night. I am what I am because I am a child of space, a child of the gods, passing through this earth stage on my long evolutionary pilgrimage. I keenly feel my oneness with the All; I sense that the remotest god in remotest space, call such a god a cosmic spirit if you like, is my close kin. I am friendly with him and he is friendly with me. In consequence, I am at home everywhere; I am at home in remotest Sirius, I am at home at the pole star, I am at home in the most distant nebula, because I recognize my kin in them.
One of the greatest scientific theorists that the Occident has known since the downfall of Greek and Roman civilization has recently entered our country and is at present among us — a man who has uttered some scientific theories which have shaken the very foundations of science itself as it existed fifteen or twenty years ago. He is teaching doctrines in a mathematical way, in a mathematical form, that theosophists as modern teachers of the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind have been teaching in the West for more than fifty years. I refer, of course, to the great Einstein.
Einstein is also a man of heart. Perhaps that is why his mind has been led to penetrate so deep into the mysterious recesses of being. In making this statement I do not mean that the theosophical philosophy unqualifiedly endorses all the details of Dr. Einstein's mathematical hypotheses, but I do mean that his essential thought of the relativity of all entities is a fundamental theosophical conception, for this means that all entities are interrelated and essentially interconnected and all interworking with every entity everywhere. Whether Dr. Einstein in his mathematical demonstrations may or may not succeed in proving his theme, the essential idea, the fundamental conception, I believe to be true. He is quoted in a London paper, The Sunday Despatch, as follows, as reprinted in Public Opinion, November 21, 1930:
There is one thing we do know: that man is here for the sake of other men — above all for those upon whose smile and well-being our own happiness depends, and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. Many times a day I realize how much my own inner and outer life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. My peace of mind is often troubled by the depressing sense that I have borrowed too heavily from the work of other men. The ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built upon this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle. Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury — to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that an unassuming and simple manner of life is best for everyone, best both for body and mind.
Now, isn't that fine? No wonder this man's genius has been led by the heart of him, by the clairvoyant vision of his soul, to look into nature's mystic veil and beyond it! Result: one of the few greatest scientists living today!
Man ignores at his peril any part of his character. Man ignores at his peril any portion of himself; for the fully rounded out and developed man will exercise every faculty and energy of his being, and thus he becomes truly great. A man who has a heart and uses it not is a half-man; a man who has a mind and uses it not also is a half-man. Man is composite of both heart and mind; and woe be to any son of man who neglects either of the twain. Man's strength lies in the symmetrical and perfect functioning of all his faculties. It is thus that we know a great man when we see him. It is thus that love is born in our hearts for the love that we sense in others; and love is the parent of our love of beauty; love is the parent of the compassion which moves us to deeds of pity — a divine thing; and love and harmony are one. When a man has harmony in his soul, when a man has music in his heart (and music and harmony are one), then indeed, day by day in ever larger measure, do we see the inner god showing its wondrous beauty.
O my Brothers, realize your dignity as men, as human beings! In the core of the core of you is a god, a divine being, a cosmic spirit — call it what you will — an immanent Christ, the inner Buddha. This is your real self; it is the fountain of all that is great and noble in you; it is the fountain of the understanding heart that the great man has; it is the source of the love which makes you do great deeds. Greatness lies this way.
The world is awakening spiritually, and I have often wondered just how much to the devoted work of The Theosophical Society and of the Fellows of The Theosophical Society is due the new spiritual awakening now so manifest in the world. We see everywhere signs that our theosophical teachings are coming to the front in unexpected quarters; and this makes us happy indeed, because it means that other men are getting the peace, are receiving the inner spiritual awakening, that theosophists have received. It also means that other men are finding their spiritual freedom, finding the inner freedom of life, which when complete makes a man a god even though living in flesh, and indeed even though his body may be in slavery.
Some of the great essayists and writers of our time now are talking about love being existent in the world as an inherent factor of the cosmic process, love and also poetry; and these lovers and poets who see poetry and love at the heart of things are challenging the mathematicians; and the mathematicians are taking up the challenge. It is a step forward in either case.
But after all, what folly such disputes are! Is not mathematics when rightly understood the very exemplification and proof of harmony and regularity, of order and of system and of quantitative relations and of peace? And what is poetry without harmony and without the mathematical rhythm of its advancing march? Poetry is music, music also is mathematics; they are all one. Why therefore seek for a God whose heart is alleged to be that of a poet or that of a lover and at the same time say that the mathematical view of the modern scientific physicist is all wrong: that the physicist's view in other words is erroneous, because the heart of things is poetry and love? Why deny to the mathematical idea its due place in human thought as exemplifying one of nature's processes? It should be obvious that poetry, and love which is harmony, and mathematics, are all fundamentally one — simply three different phases, or three different ways, by which the cosmic soul expresses itself in the minds of men; for the three indeed are one.
For instance, Sir Francis Younghusband, a capable English writer, who, after the English fashion, writes a letter to a newspaper giving his opinions of things, speaks of his belief that the originator of the fountain of cosmic love must, besides being a great mathematician and a great poet, also be a great lover. The criticism that I venture to voice here is that so sharp a distinction is drawn between mathematics and love on the one hand and mathematics and poetry on the other hand, as if they were three radically distinct and diverse things. Why clothe the abstract divinity of cosmic being with the habiliments and attributes and customs of humanity? It is as if the Deity were merely "a great big man up there" who loves like a man, who poetizes like a man, and who reasons mathematically like a man; and I say deliver me from such horrors of imagination!
Love is the very essential heart of the universe, but it is a wholly impersonal love. It is the very fountain of all that is, for love is harmony. Consequently this harmony is likewise mathematical in essence and therefore also what men would call of a poetic character; but none of these — love, mathematics, or poetry — should be understood literally to be the restricted human operations of consciousness of a distinctly personal character which go by the same names. The man manifests these principles because the human is a part of the universe, but he manifests them personally instead of in the purely impersonal way in which they exist in the cosmic structure.
To speak of this heart of nature as being human in character however great, and thus to anthropomorphize it, and thus to limit it, is all wrong; and hence it is philosophically erroneous to speak of this heart of nature as a lover, or as a poet, or as a mathematician. Ah, no, my Brothers, the heart of things is infinite love, but is not a lover. It is infinite love because it is infinite harmony and infinite peace and infinite beauty; and hence again we cannot call it either a mathematician or a poet.
The following question has been kindly sent to me by a friend for answer this afternoon. It is a short imaginary dialog between Einstein and Mr. Arthur Brisbane:
Einstein: There is a limit to space, it has its boundaries.
Brisbane: Admitting this, what is on the other side of those boundaries?
Brisbane: What is nothing? How much of nothing would it require to create a universe?
Brisbane pauses for a reply.
Question: How shall one solve the problem? Can nothing be done about it?
Ah, but there is no problem. It is all a confusion of language, a confusion of terms. When Occidentals talk about space, they confuse two ideas: first, what they call emptiness on the one hand, supposed to be the cosmic container, which is not a container because then it would be a thing; and, second, extension of a material sphere — in other words a universe composed of a vast number of nebulae, of suns, and all the rest of it.
Now, theosophists also teach that our universe has boundaries, that therefore it is finite because it is an entity; it is indeed an entity, an organic, cosmic entity, just as a human being on our much smaller scale is on earth an entity, or as a tree is, or as a beast is, or as our sun is, or as our earth is, or as any other planet is. But in such case theosophists speak only of our own universe, our own home-universe, of which we are the offspring, or of any other organic entity in the boundless spaces of space. What I mean by our own home universe is all that is comprised within the encircling zone of the galaxy, of the Milky Way: this we call our home-universe, and obviously it has boundaries.
Now then, what is outside those boundaries? Our answer is, space, intercosmic ether if you like, or call it by any other name you please; we shall avoid haggling over words, and therefore speak of it as the intercosmic ether. Our home-universe is surrounded by what our modern astronomical scientists call island-universes, which are other universes more or less like ours, and these island-universes our astronomers dimly see through their telescopes and discern on their photographic plates as star-clusters or nebulae, or whatnot. These "Sparks of Eternity," as theosophists call them, are sown throughout the boundless, limitless fields of the spaces of space; and space in this our theosophical sense is frontierless, beginningless, endless, the All.
In this question we discern the usual and unvarying quibbling over terms — that is all this question really refers to; and such quibbling is the usual occurrence when men disagree, for they usually disagree not so much about essentials but about differences of opinion arising from misunderstandings of the meaning of words. In an argument both men are usually sincere, usually both mean to do right, usually both mean to be just to each other, but their arguments most commonly arise out of a mutual misunderstanding of words, and therefore their arguments degenerate into mere fightings over words which they mistake for disagreements about essentials. How many quarrels might be avoided if men, when discussing together, would first define the terms that they intend to use.
I now turn to a number of questions on the theme of our study together this afternoon, and these questions I have promised to answer today. I will answer them very briefly, and then our time to part will have come:
Is universal death the ultimate goal of humanity and of the world, as the English physicist Jeans suggests?
I have already answered this question, and I again say that the answer is No. If universal death, according to this theory, were the end of the universe, then how explain that we are here and very much alive now? We had all the infinity of the past, all boundless duration of the past, in which to experience such universal death coming upon the universe. Yet here we are. Let these theorists explain this one fact, if you please, before enunciating more theories of this kind, for that is really what they are: theories, theories, theories! Don't call them truths until nature herself has been proved to be their author and foundation. Nature is the final tribunal of truth, and when I say nature, I mean not physical nature alone but spiritual nature, divine nature, as well — nature invisible as well as visible.
Here is something to take note of, and it is one of our fundamental theosophical teachings: every entity, no matter how great, no matter how small, in our theosophical doctrines — the ancient wisdom-religion of mankind — has a beginning, has its culmination of power, each has its flowering of faculty and energy, and then undergoes its decay, and finally its death; then ensues for it a rest period; after which it comes forth anew, blossoming anew from out the invisible worlds into this sphere again. Just so a man dies and disappears from earth, but later returns to a new body on earth; exactly so a universe is gathered together, reaches its culmination of power and of expression of what is within it; then its energies begin to wane, and decay sets in; then it dies, and its body is dissipated. But, after long cosmic ages of rest, it comes forth anew — a reimbodiment of a world, just as a man reimbodies when he reincarnates.
Every thoughtful man will instantly see how this system appeals to his sense of consistency, for he feels the logic of it, the logical simplicity of it; and the fact that this universal method of embodiment, then rest, then embodiment, then rest, then embodiment, then rest, exists in all things that we humans can trace the history of is a standing proof that our intuition — nature's own voice of truth within us — is true.
We men of earth know, if we think at all clearly, that the faculties more or less developed that we possess as humans we could have developed only in this same environment in which now we are, because these faculties are appropriate to this environment. This fact itself is a proof of our having had other lives on earth. We could not have developed the faculties that we have now — being faculties appropriate to this sphere — on some other sphere. We have developed them on this earth in other lives on earth, and that is precisely why we are now here on earth, possessing the faculties that we developed in other lives on earth in this same environment, because such faculties would be inappropriate and unfit for any other field except this in which they were seeded and rooted and grew to manifestation.
Yes, our universe will die, but only because this universe is an entity, therefore a limited organism; but boundless, frontierless infinitude is immortal, nor can it ever pass away. Such an idea is grotesque. On a smaller scale will our sun also die in future time; so will our earth; so will every entity anywhere, because every entity is obviously a limited organism. But is there aught in this for pessimism or despair? Nay, greatly to the contrary. It is thus we grow ever greater; it is thus that we change continually, by these deaths and rebirths, the fields of experience and the scenes of life. Death and life are the two sides of growth, and no growth can take place except as a resultant of these twain.
Death is friendly; death is very friendly! It is through death as well as through life that we grow. When we are tired we lay the tired body down, we cast it off as a garment that is outworn and because its usefulness is gone; and then after a greater or smaller length of time we come anew to earth, a better, nobler, more evolved character, because in the post-mortem period we shall have digested and assimilated the experiences last passed through.
Is space limited and has it boundaries?
This question also I have already answered. Infinitude is frontierless, has no limits and no boundaries. But what do people mean when they speak of space? Do they mean infinitude: frontierless, beginningless, and endless? No; usually they do not; they commonly mean the physical sphere around us, no matter how large, how vast, the physical sphere may be; and of course this physical sphere has boundaries, because it is an organic entity — obviously so. So therefore, construing this question as logically it should be construed, the answer is Yes: space, if by that term you mean any one universe, has boundaries, because it is an entity, because it is an organism, and therefore it is limited and has boundaries; but frontierless infinitude obviously has no boundaries and therefore is deathless.
If so, what exists beyond those boundaries?
Countless multitudes of other universes, called island-universes by the modern astronomers, are sprinkled over the fields of the spaces of space. As the old-fashioned sower of grain wandered forth into his fields casting his grain broadcast, so indeed may we figurate to ourselves the mighty forces and powers of the universe bringing forth these "Lights of Eternity," these "Seeds of Eternity," each Seed being a universe or a world — called a seed because destined to grow into something more wondrous and grander than what it previously was.
Is our universe a chance evolutionary production and therefore is the universe mad, or is there universal law?
Universal law exists because universal law is order, harmony, symmetry, regularity — all that we see, in fact. There is no such thing as chance. When a man cannot explain something, then he calls it chance. Chance is but a verbal counter, a mere word with which we hide our ignorance. All that we do really know is order, regularity, harmony, all of which proclaims law. That is all we really know; all the rest is theory. Consequently the universe is sane, and so are you.
You are not insane nor am I insane, the fortuitous offspring of a crazy universe. We are children, we are offspring, of ourselves — of ourselves, for each one of us in his inmost is a divine being, and as such a divine being is a spark of the cosmic fire. Therefore are we our own productions; we are our own forefathers. Likewise we shall be our own children, for we are ourselves; we make ourselves to be what in future we shall be; we are now what in the past we have made ourselves to become. We are the creators of ourselves, and we are the creatures of ourselves.
What a grand view for a man to have this is! I tell you truly: let a man really understand our theosophical doctrines, and then no matter what temptations he may have to face and how often he may fall, he will grow to greatness in time, because our doctrines arouse a hunger for truth, a passion for truth, in our hearts, and this hunger, this passion, can never be gainsaid, for they are spiritual movements of our consciousness, and will lead us onwards as a pillar of fire before us on the path.
Is the universe run according to mathematical principles? If so, is there no possibility for essential poetry and inherent love in the universe?
O my Brothers, essential poetry and inherent love dwell in your own hearts. Do you not know this? Consult your own heart: it knows love; it beats in sympathetic response to love in the hearts of others. Look within; ask yourselves if love is there. You will have an immediate answer in the affirmative. And essential poetry? Love is the very parent of poetry, for love and harmony are one, and poetry is harmony, and poetry and love are mathematical because they are regular and harmonious. Love is the very heart of things; spiritual consciousness is this also, and they are both one.
Love then with the love that abides in your heart for all. So doing, you will ally yourselves with boundless space, which is your own home, because it is your spiritual self, your essential fundamental being. Cultivate also your intellectual faculties, for thereby you enter into harmonious vibrations with the mind of the Oversoul, of which your mind is a spark. But above all things, cultivate love, impersonal love, love which takes within the reach of its all-embracing compass everything, both great and small. This love is divine. In proportion as a man or a woman can do this, just in the same ratio is he or she great.
Commune continuously with the god within you. Then peace will come to you past all understanding. Harmony will beautify your life, and beauty therefore will shine forth from your very being — the beauty and harmony and love which are one. Find yourself, your real, your spiritual, Self. Find the wondrous thing that inwardly you are. Learn to know yourself.
Vol 2, No 27