THEOSOPHY, Vol. 39, No. 8, June, 1951
(Pages 352-355; Size: 13K)
(Number 103 of a 103-part series)
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
WE know that we can increase the power of medicines by trituration; but as to the "effect of causes produced and forces awakened into activity by our own actions," we know little or nothing, and if we may judge by what is going on in the world today, we care even less. The British Association for the Advancement of Science, at its 112th annual meeting held in 1950, had for its main theme, "Man's Use of Energy." Needless to say, no speaker made reference to that law of occult dynamics which says that "a given amount of energy expended on the spiritual or astral plane is productive of far greater results than the same amount expended on the physical objective plane of existence" (S.D. I, 644). Indeed, the president of the meeting (Sir Harold Hartley, FRS) actually suggested in his inaugural address that it was only a century since man first understood the full import of the word energy and its significance as the driving force of all physical and chemical change and of life itself -- what the famous physicist Clerk-Maxwell (1831-79) called "the go of things" (London Times, Aug. 31, 1950).
Yet, Sir Harold Hartley had some things to say which will interest students of that differentiating and guiding principle whose veiled manifestations are the natural forces, "inward impulse in the evolutionary history of Nature" (S.D. II, 649 fn.). Referring to man's personal need of energy, Sir Harold Hartley said it was remarkable that no less than a quarter of the intake went to the brain, even when the organs of external sensation were at rest. It seemed an enormous consumption for the brain's weight, but the energy had to sustain the active state of the 10,000 million nerve cells of which the brain was composed:Even in sleep the subconscious mind was working with the flow of energy, and who could say how much we owed to it? In our researches we can plan our measurements and observations, accumulate new facts, but the flash of inspiration that marks the great advances comes from the 'deep wells of unconscious cerebration'; it is not at our command. Life is dynamic, and the slender thread on which it hangs is that ceaseless flow of energy.We hear faintly an echo of the archaic doctrine: "The spark hangs from the flame by the finest thread of Fohat"; but, in the main, the human body is thought of as an item in power engineering. It is, perhaps, something to have the admission of such an unsolved problem as inspiration, and, quite apart from the metaphysical aspects of this matter of the brain's needs, it may be useful at this point to refer to the conscious cerebrations of one or two earlier workers in this particular field of Energy.
The English chemist, Sir Frederick Soddy, FRS, once noted (in Matter and Energy), that with the enthronement of the balance and the test of weight as the criterion of material reality, "the existence of phlogiston as a material substance was disproved, and the theory itself fell into quite undeserved disrepute." Briefly, Karl Scheele, who elaborated the phlogiston theory of Stahl, showed, in 1772, that air contained at least two gases which he called "fire air" and "foul air." His researches proved that one of the principal constituents of air was essential both for life and for burning ("fire air"). Lavoisier called it oxygen, which means "acid generator," because he believed it erroneously to be an essential part of every acid. The name remained, however. Not only did Scheele discover oxygen, but he also discovered chlorine, arsenic, and the tartaric, oxalic, and prussic acids. These achievements are recognized; but, in the case of phlogiston, modern science prefers to follow Lavoisier in disbelieving Stahl and Scheele. In some respects, Sir Frederick Soddy is on "the side of the angels," for he writes:In its original form the [phlogiston] theory anticipated by more than a century the modern doctrine of energy. It is most wonderful to reflect that the first idea of conservation in science arose not in connection with weighable matter, but with the elusive, imponderable energy.What has occultism to say on this point? The Secret Doctrine sees no difference between "force" (or energy) and "motion," asserts that force is substance of some kind and can be nothing else, and suggests that "perhaps one day Science will be the first to re-adopt the derided name of phlogiston" (S.D. I, 511). Further, occultists prefer to hold to the fundamental theories of the ancient sciences in this as in so many other respects:No more than the authors of the old theory do they attach to phlogiston -- which has its specific name as one of the attributes of Akasa -- the idea of weight which the uninitiated generally associate with all matter. And though to us it is a principle, a well-defined essence whereas to Stahl and others it was an undefined essence -- yet, no more than we, did they view it as matter in the sense it has for the present men of science. As one of their modern professors puts it: "Translate the phlogiston by energy, and in Stahl's work on Chemistry and Physics, of 1731, put energy where he wrote phlogiston, and you have ... our great modern doctrine of conservation of energy." Verily so; it is the "great modern doctrine," only -- plus something else, let me add. Hardly a year after these words had been pronounced, the discovery by Professor Crookes of radiant matter ... has nigh upset again all their previous theories. (The Theosophist, September, 1882; see THEOSOPHY 36: 354.) [Note: The article referred to here is from a 17-part series entitled "THEOSOPHIST" EDITORIAL NOTES, which is on the list of items to be added to this site. The "Additional Categories of Articles" link is where you can always check to see which items have finally been added. --Compiler.]Another problem to which Sir Harold Hartley referred was that of solar radiation. He found it tantalizing to think of the immense amount of energy reaching the earth from the sun, and the small use we made of it. He said that the energy passing to the earth's surface was some 50,000 times as great as our consumption. Many experiments had been tried to make use of this radiation, but none had so far produced an economic solution. "We surely have a duty to posterity to pursue long-term researches in this field while we are living on our reserves." In view of the use we are now making of nuclear energy, however, chiefly in the creation of destructive weapons, it seems hardly desirable that science, with no moral inhibitions, should be urged to research in the utilization of solar radiation! Even in the apparently remote field of psychology, there would appear to be no room for optimism on this score. In his presidential address to the psychological section of the Association's annual meeting, Dr. J. C. Flugel (Assistant Professor of Psychology, University College, London) mentioned that in every one of its applications, psychology aimed at making better use of man's own energy, the energy of his mind and body. But, when both Sir Harold Hartley and Dr. Flugel emphasize the importance of the better use of the energies of Man and Nature, are they thinking of anything more than the possible discovery of new forms of energy to promote what is, after all, merely material welfare?
In one of the letters from his Eastern Teachers printed by Mr. A. P. Sinnett in The Occult World (1881), the statement is made that "for us, poor unknown philanthropists, no fact of either of these sciences [physics and metaphysics] is interesting except in the degree of its potentiality of moral results. (See THEOSOPHY 31: 75.) [Note: The reference here is to the article entitled "The Adepts and Modern Science", by William Q. Judge, and is number 78 of the 166 articles that are compiled here in the "Volume 1--> Setting the Stage" link, which is found at the bottom of any page. --Compiler.] It is a matter of satisfaction to students of the truths given to the world by those same "poor, unknown philanthropists" to see that, more and more, modern scientific utterances are disclosing some sense of responsibility for the public welfare, even though few are the signs of regard for moral results. Yet the leaven works, and we are today more aware of the social implications involved in man's wise use of energy. Sir Harold Hartley asked, "Have we replaced the Golden Ages by an Age of Steel?" and said:We saw today the stirring of a new world consciousness that must in time bear fruit, a new awareness of the load the modern Atlas had to bear, the problems we must face: the growing strain of increasing population, the malnutrition and endemic sickness of perhaps half the world, the inequalities between the more forward and the backward peoples, the gradual depletion of resources and their unequal distribution, and, by no means least, the human problem of changing the way of life and outlook of many millions. The hope lay in man's new understanding of Nature's processes, in his more efficient use of her resources, and in the growing recognition of the dependence of one nation upon another.This is a challenge to the science of our time. Equally, occult science has its own demand to make. Science itself must widen its vision beyond the horizon of the practical use of its discoveries. It will have to concern itself with the metaphysics of values. "We see," wrote the Teacher already mentioned, "a vast difference between the two qualities of two equal amounts of energy expended by two men, of whom one, let us suppose, is on his way to his daily quiet work, and another on his way to denounce a fellow-creature at the police-station, while the men of science see none." And, to make the contrast more precise, he added:Still less does exact science perceive that while the building ant, the busy bee, the nidifacient bird, accumulates each in its own humble way as much cosmic energy in its potential form as a Haydn, a Plato, or a ploughman turning his furrow, in theirs; the hunter who kills game for his pleasure or profit, or the positivist who applies his intellect to proving that +x+=- are wasting and scattering energy no less than the tiger which springs upon its prey. They all rob Nature instead of enriching her, and will all, in the degree of their intelligence, find themselves accountable.No consideration of the problems of Energy is complete without a study of these and other elements of occult dynamics.
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