THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 10, August, 1931
(Pages 453-456; Size: 13K)
(Number 32 of a 103-part series)
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
IT IS a long ascent which science has made from the raw credulity which once accepted on blind faith the tale of the senses, even as the unlettered do to this day. Yet it has been more rapid than the descent to that ignorance, which extended all the way from the Greeks to two centuries ago.
The senses report matter as an impassable wall. Before the X-ray, the scientific mind naively accepted the lie. It is a curious impression which those earlier descriptions of matter make upon a mind saturated with today's lore. One remembers, so late as 1913, a picture of neat, hard, round, shot-like bodies, close-packed. These were the atoms of that recent day. Yet twenty-five years before that, there stood in the Secret Doctrine that which is now so commonplace as to meet raised eyebrows, if presented as a novelty.Occultism 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. (I, 507-8, f.n.)Through that new instrument, so accurately predicted by H. P. Blavatsky,(1) the ambition to learn the ultimate constitution of matter, dormant since the Alchemists, received a new incarnation; and the questing scientific mind impinged upon "the infinite divisibility of the atom," upon which "the whole science of Occultism is built."(2) Science still halts just short of the threshold of the infinity of that divisibility; but--...earnest, as well as mocking reader, Science is slowly but as surely approaching our domains of the Occult. It is forced by its own discoveries to adopt nolens volens our phraseology and symbols.... (S.D. I, 549.)The law of analogy, properly understood, says H.P.B., is the infallible guide. As by some instinct -- perhaps by the inherent ideas "impacted in the imperishable center of man's nature" at a period known to Theosophists -- the scientific mind turned first to that guide in its attempt to traverse the labyrinths of divisibility; and its first conception of a complex atom took the form of the Bohr model; a heavy sun-like nucleus about which revolved "planetary" electrons. Ultimately, when pursued too far and loaded too heavily, this concept broke down -- though still in use in most quarters.
Even in death, however, it remains faithful to its creator -- analogy. The famous "Bode's Law" of the planetary distances from the sun, has been found to apply to electronic orbits.(3) Furthermore, now that the sun and planets are conceded, agreeably to the Secret Doctrine of 1888, to be great magnets, Dr. Karl Krauch(4) holds that some of the mysteries of catalytic action can be explained by considering atoms and molecules as possessed of similar properties.
But the increasing conflict between theory and observed fact has plunged the Bohr atom into profound modification if not ultimate death. It is being replaced by the Schrödinger picture, of which a valuable account is given in Science, Dec. 6, 1929. Dr. Thomson there explains that the ultimate problem of the physicist became like that of a man trying to make sense of a game which started as golf, turned into tennis, and for no apparent reason back into golf again, without accurate adherence even to the rules of the moment. Such puzzles were partly solved by the hypothesis that the electron in the atom acted more like a set of waves than a particle; and this rapidly reduced the whole theory of the atom to a complex of wave motions. Since waves are continuous, this new hypothetical atom speedily enclosed all space and all other atoms within its confines. Dr. Thomson's striking analogy deserves rather extended treatment. The electron, says he, is like a gossamer spider. This creature is a small solid body when clinging to a plant. When it wishes to move it shoots out long filaments, which are caught by the wind and bear it away. These filaments are comparable to the electro-magnetic radiations which surround the center of the electron -- a center not physical or tangible, but a mere mathematical point. When the electron is resting as a part of an atom, these tentacles are folded in upon themselves. When the free electron manifests as a cathode ray, etc., the filaments expand and extend indefinitely. Now by analogy, if this metaphysical center emanating extended electro-magnetic tentacles is anywhere near truth, each heavenly body is of similar constitution, and the solar system, like the atom, is a complex of magnetic lines emanating from mathematical centers. But that is exactly what Theosophy teaches! Now in point of fact, J. B. Penniston in Science,(5) notes a strong indication that from the mathematical point of view it will solve puzzles to consider the solar system in just that light. Scientific thought could hardly go farther toward the Occult doctrine. But what is the explanation of these puzzling analogies which never seem quite complete, contradictory hypotheses which yet seem to need one another for mutual support?
Well -- we may attempt to rationalize them along occult lines which, though startling to the scientist, may have a certain appeal to some of him.
Let us liken the solid, hard, close-packed atom of the 19th century to the solar system as seen by the vulgar Medieval mind -- a close, solid, immovable sky studded with small neighborly luminaries, a beggarly little sun subserviently circling an immovable earth. Let us liken the solar system as mapped by astronomers and comprehended by the intelligent man of today, to the Bohr atomic concept. Let us liken the Schrödinger atom -- as yet comprehended by only a few advanced scientists -- to the solar system taught in Theosophy -- living metaphysical centers surrounded with and connected by tentacles of electro-magnetic life currents, whose vibrations produce our visible phenomena. The chain of analogies is perfect; and through it we see that the scientist has all along been studying, not objective phenomena at all, but the workings of his own expanding consciousness! As to the nature of the atomic "thing-in-itself" -- that remains to this day as described by H.P.B. -- "the most metaphysical object in creation!" It ought to interest the Theosophist that the above last description of the solar system is as far as Theosophy takes us on the objective side; and that science, which has now reached somewhat beyond the Schrödinger conception, has done so only in the form of mathematical equations which are incapable of conveying pictures to the mind.
H. P. Blavatsky, then, for the benefit of the scientists of the future, put down in black on white all that the material-thinking mind could grasp. Perhaps some day there will arise Theosophical mathematicians who will be able to compare the anikonic equations above noted with the arupa realities which, as some find, the spiritualized mind can grasp at times, even though it may yet fall far short of Adeptship!
Shall we not, then, close with one of the most significant of the perceptions which to date have appeared in the scientific mind? "All inductive study," it is said,(6) "indicates increasing appreciation of the underlying unity of phenomena and 'noumena'." Physicists, it is said, "have broken down the partitions supposed to separate mechanics, molecular physics, light, sound, heat, and electricity." "A more subtle unity appears to underly the proton, the electron, and energy." (Italics ours, Editors.)
What is that "more subtle unity?"METAPHYSICALLY and esoterically there is but One ELEMENT in nature, and at the root of it is the Deity; and the so-called seven elements, of which five have already manifested and asserted their existence, are the garment, the veil, of that deity; direct from the essence whereof comes MAN, whether physically, psychically, mentally or spiritually considered. (S.D. I, 460). The whole range of physical phenomena proceed from the Primary of Ether -- Akâsa, as dual-natured Akâsa proceeds from undifferentiated Chaos, so-called, the latter being the primary aspect of Mulaprakriti, the root-matter ... (I, 536).
Shall we say that Force is "moving matter," or "matter in motion," and a manifestation of energy; or that matter and force are the phenomenal differentiated aspects of the one primary, undifferentiated Cosmic Substance? (I, 554).
...the Astral Light of Eliphas Lévi; the nerve-aura and the fluid of the magnetists; the od of the Reichenbach; the Psychod and ectenic force of Thury; the psychic force of Sergeant Cox, and the atmospheric magnetism of some naturalists; galvanism; and finally, electricity -- all these are but various names for many different manifestations or effects of the same mysterious, all-pervading cause, the Greek Archeus." ... it is all this and much more. (I, 338, f.n.).
SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
(Part 33 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".
SIX (6) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Secret Doctrine, I, 611.
Back to text.
(2) Secret Doctrine, I, 520.
Back to text.
(3) Science, May 16, 1930.
Back to text.
(4) Science, Dec. 21, 1928.
Back to text.
(5) Science, May 16, 1930.
Back to text.
(6) Science, Aug. 29, 1930.
Back to text.