Universal Brotherhood – February 1899

THE HUMAN CELL — Arthur A. Beale

"To demonstrate that Brotherhood is a fact in Nature; to investigate the laws of Nature and the divine powers in Man."

When we fall away from the path of duty, when torn by the storms of passion we forget that there reposes within the complexities of our nature a divine spark — much more, perhaps, that we ourselves are a universe, nay, a universe of Universes, a Great Eternal God, controlling, energizing and creating worlds that live and have their day and cease to be. But it is so. Hour by hour worlds are falling away and with them ebb the vital forces of our being. Take a flake of scurf from the head and put it under the microscope, — a new vista is opened up. And yet, this is only a type of millions of like or dissimilar entities, which are so bound together as to compose the mighty universe of man's body, — the least important of his constitution. These little lives take different shapes to suit different necessities, but they agree in certain essential features which we learn to call the cell. And looking lower still this cell is of the same type as those found in the animals and again in the plants. How very little difference, too, between these and the monads of the mineral kingdom!

But keeping to man, these cells form themselves into societies, which we call tissues, these into others we call organs, and the organs form together a corporate organization, the body, which in a healthy state is subservient to the synthesizing forces emanating from the Heart, where lives the source of life, the divine Ruler. So the organs work together in harmony. If any organ begins to absorb more attention and life than is due to it, not only does it suffer itself, but brings discord into the whole.

But as long as it observes its own duty and fulfils its place, so does it maintain its own status, and receive its own benefits; for thus, and thus alone, can it participate in the higher impulse, that comes from that sacred centre..

As of the organs so of the cells of which each is composed, they must act in accordance with the unified impulse of the organ, but so must each cell be true to the heart of its own tiny body — whence, as I shall try to show, comes the true impulse, by which it evolves, — that centre where are played the divine harmonies and where stands the God directing his forces in the building of "the temple not made with hands."

This is a Universal Activity. It is the same process going on through all the kingdoms of the Universe, from the tiny crystals to plants, from plants to animals, and animals to man.

But specializing the cell we note not only that all the body is composed of cells or the deposit of cells, but that one type of cells develops from another type, and ultimately all cells result from one single cell "into which," in the words of Darwin, "life was breathed by the Creator" — of course always understanding that we have not specified the nature of the Creator.

If this is so, and no one in these times will dare to dispute it, it begins to dawn upon us that this curious complex body of man is, as it were, a tremendous society of entities, the separate individualities of which, whilst retaining their place as such in the great body, are swamped in the individuality of that one. Not only so, but as it will be our endeavor to show later on, the healthy existence of each part greatly depends on its maintaining its loyalty and subservience to the supreme Chief, from which it gets its daily source of energy and inspiration.

What is true of the part is true of the whole and vice versa. For in its turn the body of man must be subservient to that of which it is a part, and answer to the call of that which represents the corporate body of bodies, and to the divine light within, "that lighteth every man that cometh into the world," which is one with the Father, the Divine over soul, of which we are all dim reflections. So also of the part, the tiny microcosm of man, the cell, it is in its turn a universe, a universe so grand that the many revelations that scientific investigation has unveiled makes that science stand aghast; but these, we may venture to prophesy, are nothing to the occult secrets that still lie waiting for revelation.

All that the magnificent symbolism of the Gnostics has taught us concerning The Man Iesous and his relation to Ichthys the fish, the ark and the ship, can be well applied to the cell, which is a veritable Ark with its Holy of holies in which sit and meditate the holy ones, the prajapati of the Hindus and the Christos of the Gnostics. Veritably it is par excellence the Astral Vehicle, the ship floating on the watery ocean, veritably it is the Dagon, the fish-man, the new teacher coming from the unknown regions of the Silence, the boat of Vishnu carrying the God-Man into the world of Manifestation. We may well exclaim: O God, how manifest are thy works! how sublime are thy powers! And when we contemplate the tiny vehicle of life under the miscroscope we may well close-to the doors of the senses, take off the sandals and worship, for are we not at the very altar of the Temple — the temple of the Almighty; are we not face to face with the Creators? He that hath eyes to see let him see!

Amongst the great contributors to the Science of the Cell perhaps none has approached nearer the Holy of Holies — none so nearly tore aside the Veil of Isis, as H. P. B. has practically told us, than Professor Weissmann in his contribution on the Germ Plasm and the New Problem of Heredity as handled by him. Under the guiding hand of this savant we see the cell in a new light, we begin to see kingdom within kingdom; and had he but recognized the other side, had he but explored the dark side of the Moon, much more might have been written, many more mouths might have gaped and many more sceptics have smiled. Professor Weissmann however has found a mare's nest. He has raised the devil, but forgotten to give him something to do, and as of old we cannot help exclaiming, what next! The cell of Weissmann like the cell of most other students, is a tiny ball of protoplasm with a central nucleus (the Holy of Holies, Fish Man, etc.) but unlike that of other writers, instead of containing more differentiated protoplasm, taking the forms of meaningless and accidental rods, our revered professor has discovered a Nest of Creators. He tells us that the greater portion of the cell does not in any way participate in the process of hereditary transmission. Nay, further still, not only does he regard the nucleus as the all important particle but to quote his own words: "The law that only a certain part of the nuclear matter is to be regarded as the hereditary substance appears to me to receive fresh support from all the more recent observations."

Now the parts referred to are a series of minute rod-like structures called chromatin rods that are very active and manifest all kinds of changes according to necessity, especially at that critical period in the history of a cell called cell-division, when it is about to propagate its species by making itself'into two by equal distributions of its substance between its two selves. For you must know that when a cell divides (and this does not refer to human cells alone, but all vegetable and animal cells from the simplest to the most complex) the products are two so-called "daughter cells," but they are daughters without a mother. It is one of the most mystical processes in existence and contains much secret knowledge for it contains the mystery of the birth of two from one. In this process, called in scientific parlance Karyokinesis, these little rods play a most important part, nay, the all-important part, for the whole process commences with them and proceeds from the centre outward. There is at the commencement of the process a disturbance, a series of vibrations throughout the nucleus. These little rods immediately form into a kind of reticulum or network; then this network arranges itself into an indefinite spiral, at which instant two mysterious bodies issue from the mass at opposite poles, and take up a position in the cell, at some distance from the coil of rods; then the spiral breaks up into two opposing sets of loops.

Ultimately these two sets of rods settle down in the neighborhood of the two little bodies (centrosomes) shot out, or, I should perhaps say, are attracted separately to the two poles of the cell by the centrosomes. Then a cell wall forms between; the one cell becomes two.

There are some very occult forces at work behind all this, and they generally are referred to, to cover our ignorance, as the law of polarity, albeit that this law, whatever it is, involves the most occult of the creative forces, in fact of all manifestation.

To go back, Dr. Weissmann does not consider these rods which he calls idants as the essential units, but states that in their turn these are themselves composed of more minute bodies he calls ids.

In this respect, however, he considers protoplasm as a whole as composed, not of so many chemical compounds, having an indefinite and uncontrollable action on one another, but of collections of "molecules united into a single group." These molecules he calls biophors. The biophors, as bearers of vitality, possess the power of growth and of multiplication by fission. But the biophors which go to make up the rods, have a more specific character of their own, and are the carriers of those minuter bodies still which this savant speaks of as the real creative units, or what he calls "determinants." These ultimate determinants, smaller than microscopic, hold within their tiny hearts the ideal shape of the part which they are destined to control, carried and distributed in the process of evolution of the creature by the process of cell division.

This conception, enormous advance as it is on the previous materialism of Huxley's protoplasm, is yet so pregnant with the taint of the materialistic age, that it requires modifying before it can even be admitted as a logical hypothesis. For one must ask; if the cell gets its impulse from the nucleus, the nucleus from the rods that inhabit it, these rods from the little biophors of which they are composed, and these from the determinants, where on earth do the determinants get it from? We are reminded, moreover, that there was a time, not far away, when this particular cell had no separate existence of its own. And if we are directed back to the ovaries, and from them to the germinal layer, and this from the cell again, still there is no escape, for we may well ask with the Duke of Argyle: "What then! Whence the first?"

But the thing has a more definite and easy solution, for if these material units are the Creators, and if as it is stated, the ingredients of matter, especially sentient matter (so-called) are constantly undergoing motion and change, by displacement; what about these units when the time comes for them to play their part, has not their substance been lost and replaced over and over again.

So we come back to our philosophy and we realize what our Chief, W. Q. Judge, taught us, that the cell only has an existence as an idea. Thinking of this word for a moment, looking it up in the dictionary we find the following verbatim (Gr. idea, from idein, to see) "one of the archetypes or patterns of Created things, conceived by the Platonists to have existed from eternity in the mind of the Deity." (1) Now look at the words used by Dr. Weissmann, idants and ids. Is there not something very suggestive here. We are then dealing not with matter alone, but with ideas; nay, more, what is matter but an idea or congeries of ideas? For as has been well said we know nothing of matter per se but only the manifestation of matter. It is the idea not the matter that takes form. Now we must surely recognize that ideas as things are not causes but effects. So our professor all this time has been dealing with effects and gets these mixed up with the causes. If cells and the contents are ideas containing ideas, and if idea means that which is seen, then there must somewhere be a Seer, and such a seer without any sophistry must be a magician — not because we associate the word Seer with magician, but quite independently.

Now we have realized that the body of man is composed of many minuter entities, over which stands the supreme ruler. Each organ is composed of many entities, over which rules the conscious governor of that organ, and so on to the little cells which in their turn are composed of minuter creatures each having a conscious existence of its own, whilst that Consciousness is composed of the consciousness of all its component lives. That consciousness is in each case part of the Divine consciousness that pervades all things and acts in direct proportion to its plane of activity.

This Divine Consciousness in man which is the real man — real in the sense of permanency — is quite on a par with the Creators, though that real self is perhaps not known to any of our personal selves. But then stands that real Self at the commencement of each New Birth. As the process of evolution goes on each step in the meditation of this mighty Self as he contemplates existence, finds a responsive thrill in the tiny ovum, bound to himself by the strong bonds of Karma. As he emerges in contemplation from the mineral to the vegetable and on to the animal, so the sensitive plasm of the germ responds. Page after page of the history of man is retold till once more the story is complete to the point where the previous incarnation ended; then the child is born to carry on the history as best he may.

So in the cell the determinants are the little bundles of ideas coming from the Magician (ourselves) and being instilled bit by bit into the heart of each of those groups of molecules and ensouling it, so the tale is told and this side of manifestation opens out into the beautiful blossom of Humanity, moulded also in part by the parental influences which can make or mar the impulse as it comes straight from the Creator's mind. Make or mar, and yet how few women think of the real, sacred and holy duty of parentage. How hellish the times in which any dares to point the finger of scorn and shame at a blessed pregnant woman. But as we are beginning to understand, soon shall we be able to reverence them all as the sacredness of motherhood is understood.

This little picture contains the whole of our philosophy, and it must be left more or less to the intuitions of each. But in closing we can say this much. The study of the cell teaches that Brotherhood is a fact in nature. It teaches that that brotherhood depends on the harmonious coordinate activity of many entities, working together united by the recognition of the one source of life and inspiration. It also teaches the great Divine mystery that hangs about every new birth, and that the real seat of that Divinity is in the Hearts of all Creatures.

There is one more lesson that we ought not to miss. We have seen the magnificent results of harmonious action which is always synthetical and finds its highest expression in Love and Compassion issuing from the heart.

Sometimes the same force becomes converted into Hate, when once the centrifugal disintegrating force is set going and gains the ascendancy, selfish in nature, self centred, it cuts away the bonds that bind man to his fellows; he tries, but in vain, to carry on an existence of his own, but he soon finds that he has no existence, no meaning, no life apart from the whole. The foolish virgins repent too late, their light has gone out, they have no oil of life with which to kindle their lamps anew. In their own blind conceit they are lost. Nay, but look! Have not some demons, spooks and malignant fiends got hold of them and, having gained an entrance, are now without their consent messengers of Disease and Death. Is this not so of the cells? Some little impulse causes them to pursue a course contrary to the interests of the whole; for a time they are centres of discord; and neuralgia, rheumatism, indigestion, etc., are the result. But anon the cells fall away and, as entities, die. The smaller containing entities, the Chromatin rods, little pregnant particles of life are set free. Losing their parental protection and cares, they go on with the impulse given them, till some malignant breeze sweeps over them and they become the victims and servants of hate, disease and Death. Are these not the germs of disease that science is fighting about just now? Verily! verily! who shall deny? These little escaped convicts, the rods, previously servants of Love, become now the free agents of disease. They are none other than the bacilli, associated with so many pestilences; and a further disintegration produces spores — the ingredients of bacilli. These are not the diseases, nor yet the cause (primary), they are merely the vehicles of disease. Can we not see how well this applies to every organism and organization as an entity? Poor lost bacilli, how hardly have ye been used by your masters!


1. The Library Dictionary. (return to text)

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