THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 3, January, 1927
(Pages 121-125; Size: 17K)
(Number 3 of a 103-part series)
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
IIIOccultism says that in all cases where matter appears inert, it is the most active. A wooden or a stone block is motionless and impenetrable to all intents and purposes. Nevertheless, and de facto, its particles are in ceaseless eternal vibration which is so rapid that to the physical eye the body seems absolutely devoid of motion; and the spacial distance between those particles in their vibratory motion is -- considered from another plane of being and perception -- as great as that which separates snow flakes or drops of rain. But to physical science this will be an absurdity. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 507.)MANY years after this statement, it ceased to be an "absurdity" to science; though for various "scientific" reasons, the name of Blavatsky continued in that category.
In resolving the nature of the atom itself -- called by H.P.B. a "molecule," because of its divisibility, which she taught -- the events of 1895-98 caused science to follow accurately in her footsteps; though it is just beginning to map the course traversed.It is on the doctrine of the illusive nature of matter, and the infinite divisibility of the atom, that the whole science of Occultism is built. (S.D. I, 520.)Science has recognized this divisibility for some years; but only lately has there been general agreement as to its confirmation. Elaborate stations were assigned the electrons; but whether they were orbital or punctual -- that was the rub. If in fixed positions, an easy explanation of the phenomenon of valence was at hand; if orbital, then momentum explained the tremendous force indubitably locked up in the atom. In either case -- mystery and contradiction.
Dr. Karl T. Compton, Professor of Physics at Princeton (Washington Star, Feb. 16, 1926), says that the exact measurements of energy content show that the electron rotates -- the atom is a replica of the solar system, except that its general figure is considered spheroidal, the electrons not revolving in a single plane.The simile of an egg also expresses the fact taught in Occultism that the primordial form of everything manifested, from atom to globe, from man to angel, is spheroidal, the sphere having been with all nations the emblem of eternity and infinity -- a serpent swallowing its tail. (S.D. I, 65.)Nothing could be clearer.
Next we see Cosmic matter scattering and forming itself into elements; grouped into the mystic four within the fifth element -- Ether, the lining of Akasa, the Anima Mundi or Mother of Kosmos. "Dots, Lines, Triangles, Cubes, Circles" and finally "Spheres" -- why or how? Because, says the Commentary, such is the first law of Nature, and because Nature geometrizes universally in all her manifestations. There is an inherent law -- not only in the primordial, but also in the manifested matter of our phenomenal plane -- by which Nature correlates her geometrical forms, and later, also, her compound elements; and in which there is no place for accident or chance....
"Motion is eternal in the unmanifested, and periodical in the manifest," says an Occult teaching. It is "when heat caused by the descent of FLAME into primordial matter causes its particles to move, which motion becomes Whirlwind." A drop of liquid assumes a spheroidal form owing to its atoms moving around themselves in their ultimate, unresolvable, and noumenal essence; unresolvable for physical science, at any rate. (S.D. I, 97-98.)
Radioactivity was discovered at the period above-mentioned, and transmutation rebecame a dream of the scientific world. Radioactivity, which takes place naturally in certain elements, is the loss of electrons. The difference between elements is wholly a matter of number and arrangement of electrons. Obviously, therefore, matter itself is all of the same nature. Again, nothing new.If the student bears in mind that there is but One Universal Element, which is infinite, unborn, and undying, and that all the rest ... are but so many various differentiated aspects and transformations ... of that One ... the totality, in short, of objective existence ... Occult Cosmology may be mastered. (S.D. I, 75.)The possibility of artificial transmutation is a present field of battle. Arthur Smits and A. Karsen, of Amsterdam, disagree as to methods (Literary Digest, Nov. 14, 1925), although they seem to have succeeded in some cases. Prof. Miethe, of Berlin, claimed to have made gold. Others, notably the Scientific American, repeated his experiments unsuccessfully, while a Japanese savant, Prof. Hantaro Nagaoka, claims to have succeeded. (Science, Feb. 5, 1926.)
In any case, the clouds are being lifted from illustrious characters such as Paracelsus. Prof. John Maxson Stillman, of Stanford University, renders tribute to him in The Story of Early Chemistry. Other figures whose names are familiar to Theosophists are decently treated in that volume also. And the Scientific American concedes the possibility of reason among the ancient alchemists. (December, 1924.)
"Nothing is eternal in Nature save change." Physical matter betrays, in its very constitution, its origin from a homogeneous form of existence. Radioactivity is a step toward a return to that form. Pralaya is the finish of the degenerative process.That which seems rest is only the change of one form into another; the change of substance going hand in hand with that of form -- as we are taught in Occult physics, which thus seem to have anticipated the discovery of the "Conservation of matter" by a considerable time. (S.D. I, 97.)Therefore when Dr. Robert A. Millikan suspects that all matter is capable of spontaneous breakdown, he is on the trail of fact. (Science, Mar. 26, 1926.) Dr. Gustave Le Bon (Evolution de la Matière.) proved the fact some years ago.
Nitya Pralaya: "perpetual" Pralaya or dissolution. It is the constant and imperceptible changes undergone by the atoms which last as long as a Mahâmanvantara, a whole age of Brahmâ, which takes fifteen figures to sum up. A stage of chronic change and dissolution, the stages of growth and decay. It is the duration of "Seven Eternities." ... There are four kinds of Pralayas, or states of changelessness. The Naimittika, when Brahmâ slumbers; the Prakritika, a partial Pralaya of anything during Manvantara; Atyantika, when man has identified himself with the One Absolute -- a synonym of Nirvâna; and Nitya, for physical things especially, as a state of profound and dreamless sleep. (Theosophical Glossary, H. P. Blavatsky, 1892, p. 216.)
But if the physical world is slowly disintegrating, how came it in the first place? Science has long held that it was "running down," conveniently avoiding the issue implicit in that question: what "wound it up"?
Dr. Gilbert Newton Lewis, Dean of the College of Chemistry at the University of California, thinks otherwise. (San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 27, 1925; Science, Dec. 18, 1925; Dec. 25, 1925; Jan. 8, 1926.) He does not think there is any "one-way drift of the universe as a whole." Others disagree; evidently from force of scientific habit, there being no other earthly reason discernible. Prof. Wm. Duncan McMillan (Scientific American, May, 1926), backs him up, thinking that atoms are being evolved in interstellar space, with loss of radiant energy, and being destroyed in stars, with release of energy. This, says he, "leads to a wonderful expansion of our cosmological ideas." It does, in fact, expand them to the measure of the A B C of Theosophic cosmogony.
Dr. Millikan, in 1925, discovered new rays which appear to be about one hundred times as penetrating as X-rays. They seem to arise from the depths of space itself, with no definite center of origin, not being of terrestrial genesis. (Scientific American, March, 1926; Literary Digest, Nov. 28, 1925; Science, Nov. 20, 1925.)
Dr. Millikan says that it is now necessary to conceive of space as filled with various sorts of rays travelling at the speed of light; and that they possibly are produced by the disintegration or transmutation of elements. What does this signify? It is at least in agreement with Prof. McMillan, above quoted; and considerable light is shed by the Theosophical extracts reproduced. But other meanings may apply as well.Neither Water, Air, Earth (synonym for solids generally) existed in their present form, representing the three states of matter alone recognised by Science; for all these are the productions already recombined by the atmospheres of globes completely formed -- even to fire -- so that in the first periods of the earth's formation they were something quite sui generis. Now that the conditions and laws ruling our solar system are fully developed; and that the atmosphere of our earth, as of every other globe, has become, so to say, a crucible of its own, Occult Science teaches that there is a perpetual exchange taking place in space of molecules, or of atoms rather, correlating, and thus changing their combining equivalents on every planet. Some men of Science ... begin to suspect this fact, which has been known for ages to the Occultists. The spectroscope only shows the probable similarity (on external evidence) of terrestrial and sidereal substance; it is unable to go any farther, or to show whether atoms gravitate towards one another in the same way and under the same conditions as they are supposed to do on our planet, physically and chemically. The scale of temperature, from the highest degree to the lowest that can be conceived of, may be imagined to be one and the same in and for the whole Universe; nevertheless, its properties, other than those of dissociation and reassociation, differ on every planet; and thus atoms enter into new forms of existence, undreamt of, and incognizable to, physical Science ... the essence of Cometary matter, for instance, "is totally different from any of the chemical or physical characteristics with which the greatest chemists and physicists of the earth are acquainted." And even that matter, during rapid passage through our atmosphere, undergoes a certain change in its nature. Thus not alone the elements of our planets, but even those of all its sisters in the Solar System, differ as widely from each other in their combinations, as from the Cosmic elements beyond our Solar limits. (S.D. I, 142.)All this is bound up with the phenomenon of radiation, now a deeper mystery than ever.
Older followers of science will remember that for decades the "corpuscular" theory of light and of other forms of radiation was buried in the crypts of science as an archaic curiosity. Lately it has once more become a formidable antagonist to the undulatory theory; as noted in previous issues, each has to be considered true by turns. The latest compromise is the "quantum" hypothesis, which speaks of corpuscles or energy-charges emitted in groups or waves. In spite of this, the mystery remains unsolved. (Scientific American, Oct. 1925.)
Unless possessed of ultra-scientific wisdom, why did H.P.B. write as follows in 1888, when the undulatory theory had long been unchallenged?Science only errs in believing that, because it has detected in vibratory waves the proximate cause of these phenomena, it has, therefore, revealed ALL that lies beyond the threshold of Sense ... those etheric tremors, are not, as asserted by Science, set up by the vibrations of the molecules of known bodies ... but that we must seek for the ultimate causes of light, heat, etc., etc., in MATTER existing in super-sensuous states ... Light and heat are the ghost or shadow of matter in motion. (S.D. I, 515.)Not a scientist of today but will admit these criticisms true as directed at his predecessors. The statements, however, are as true as they ever were -- though it may take the science of fifty years hence to recognize it.
It [gravity] is attraction and repulsion, but not as understood by modern physics and according to the law of gravity; but in harmony with the laws of Manvantaric motion ...these laws are immutable; but the motion of all the bodies ... is regulated by the Movers, the Intelligences within the Cosmic Soul. (S.D. I, 529-30.)
Undulatory or corpuscular theory [of light] -- it is all one. It is speculation from the aspects of phenomena, not from the knowledge of the essential nature of the cause and causes.... (S.D. I, 528.)
Why, it may be asked -- has often enough been asked -- if H.P.B. and her Sponsors had knowledge fifty years in advance of the moderns, was it not more conclusively demonstrated, put to "practical" use?
The true answer, often enough indicated by H.P.B., is the same which should cause discerning Theosophists to be thankful for the indifference of the modern scientist toward study of Theosophical doctrine. It is an indifference which is losing him many years -- perhaps centuries -- in the struggle for understanding of the Cosmos; but it gives the morals of the race a chance to gain on its intellectual knowledge. The first result of discovery has invariably been disaster to mankind in every case where knowledge could be used for destruction.
R. W. Wood, and Alfred L. Loomis, of Johns Hopkins, have discovered a form of soundless sound waves which heat water in passing, and are able to kill small animals. (Science, May 7, 1926.) Such forces could have been developed long ago by a physical scientist with understanding of the Secret Doctrine and confidence in it. So much of the scientific wisdom of that work was couched in terms better understandable after than before the event, that one discerns in it the carrying out of the policy always pursued by the Masters of Wisdom; the policy of never releasing any hint as to new forces so long as there was any possibility of their misuse outweighing their utility; and "utility" does not mean the same thing to Them that it does to a materialistic scientist or his public.
It is this policy of moral education first, last and all the time, with revelations of a scientific nature as subsidiary and demonstrative only, which sets a wide and deep gulf between the Great White Lodge and science. Masters cannot and will not cross that abyss; scientists as individuals can; and some may do so in the forthcoming years.
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
(Part 4 of a 103-part series)
Back to the
"Science and The Secret Doctrine"
series complete list of articles.
Back to the full listing containing all of the
"Additional Categories of Articles".