Dear Member of Blavatsky Net,
One of the important principles of Theosophy is the underlying radical unity of all. Blavatsky indicated the importance of this principle when she wrote in 1888:
If the student bears in mind that there is but One Universal Element, which is infinite, unborn,
and undying, and that all the rest — as in the world of phenomena — are but so many various
differentiated aspects and transformations (correlations, they are now called) of that One, from
Cosmical down to microcosmical effects, from super-human down to human and sub-human
beings, the totality, in short, of objective existence — then the first and chief difficulty will
disappear and Occult Cosmology may be mastered. (SDi75)
She offers the same idea again but entirely rephrased:
The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature
— from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan to the smallest infusoria, in
the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical
worlds — this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science. (SDi120)
Hence the Spirit of Non-Separateness in esoteric philosophy must be the ONE truth.
(BCW IX p 24, Miscellaneous Notes by HPB)
Since "this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science" the above passages likely deserve more attention than they normally receive. Upon reflection wouldn't we agree that such "radical unity" should be accorded this level of priority?
One of the important consequences of this metaphysical insight is that it gives a logical basis for the binding force of ethics. The binding force of ethics ceases to be "God said to do it" and becomes replaced with a basis in underlying unity.
For example note how this radical unity changes various axioms from different traditions. The Dalai Lama says "My religion is kindness." That makes more sense if we are all fundamentally one. Sai Baba says "Love all, serve all". His maxim also makes more sense in light of underlying oneness. Jesus stated his golden rule as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It turns out that this formulation, structured as a form of reciprocity, is the most common formulation of ethical behavior in the religions of the world. Theosophy says "Compassion is the law of laws". These rules all make more sense if we are one. William Q Judge expressed the Theosophical version of the golden rule as "Act for and as the self of all." By my preferences that is the best and simplest formulation of ethical principle. But notice how it also is formulated in terms of an underlying radical unity.
In this way considerations of most abstract metaphysics lead to a basis for ethical behavior that is suitable for our time and for our own daily living. It deepens the basis of how we treat others and how we act on a daily basis if we have these principles in mind.
Back in the first issue of this newsletter, July 2004, I brought out one of Blavatsky's predictions:
"Modern Science is drawn more every day into the maëlstrom of Occultism;
unconsciously, no doubt, still very sensibly." (SDi124)
So now the rather startling question arises for this newsletter. Has "Modern Science" been in any way drawn into this position of radical unity?
This newsletter was instigated by the book "Entangled Minds - Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality" by Dean Radin Ph.D. in 2006. He currently is Laboratory Director at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Petaluma, California.
Radin's book presents an essentially two pronged idea. The first prong is the idea of "entanglement" that comes from developments in quantum physics over the last century. The essential idea of entanglement is that of a strange and radical unity underlying the cosmos - an idea suggestively supportive of the quotes from Blavatsky above. The second idea is the observation that these ideas derived from physics concerning the very small also have relevance to our affairs at the human level. In particular he presents an overwhelming mass of data supportive of psi (telepathy, clairvoyance etc) and notes the parallels between the physics and the psi conclusions. Besides this interesting idea, the massing of data supportive of psi is very impressive and helpful in its own right.
Radin's juxtaposition of ideas is particularly suggestive of the very specific words of Blavatsky quoted above:
from Cosmical down to microcosmical effects, [this includes the physics part] from
super-human down to human and sub-human beings [this includes the psi part]
Throughout the book, Radin marvels at the weird implications of the physics. He also orients us by quoting the physicists themselves as they express their own mystification at the implications of their theories. In interesting contrast we note the words of Blavatsky. When we bear this radical unity in mind:
then the first and chief difficulty will disappear and Occult Cosmology may be mastered.
We might add that the puzzles that are so well presented in Radin's book acquire a reasonable basis of explanation once we grant the occult assertions of radical unity presented by Blavatsky over a century ago.
As an aside, we seem to regularly find someone presenting ideas that are found in the Secret Doctrine - adding some scientific data - and then receiving heaping praise for the original contribution. Just to give an example of that flavor, here is the first "praise for book" quote found in Radin's book.
In this triumph of scientific imagination, Dean Radin shows in clear language how the
mysteries of psychology and the mysteries of quantum mechanics may combine to
point to a 'new reality' that makes the most daring science fiction look tame by
comparison. (Michael Grosso Ph.D. author of "Experiencing the Next World Now")
Indeed, the knowledge and insights contained in the Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky make other knowledge "look tame by comparison". In general she should receive more credit. But then that is one of the purposes of this newsletter.
For the purposes of this newsletter I will attempt to describe "entanglement" in two paragraphs. During the previous century it was discovered that quantum physics predicts a startling feature of the world that physicists now call "non-locality". In the later part of last century experiments proved the reality of this weird feature of "non-locality". What "non-locality" means is that we can no longer think - at least at the quantum level - of separate places. It is no longer valid to think of separate places such as "here" and "over there". Of course this does not make sense to us as we normally understand things - but then it does correspond to occult teachings. This idea of non-locality is based upon experiments with entangled particles. It has been theorized and then proven that when particles are entangled, then a change to one particle "over here" affects the other entangled particle "over there". The catch is that the change is communcated to the other entangled
particle faster than the speed of light. This would have disturbed Einstein and it demolishes the concept of "locality".
As an example of entangled particles, one particle may split into two particles. Those two particles will separate and go in different directions. Those two particles will always be connected in a certain sense. For example they will conserve something called "spin" in physics. Their total "spin" will always "add" to zero. If one measures or alters the spin on one then it affects the spin on the other. The problem is that a signal to accomplish this coordination passes from one to the other particle at faster than the speed of light. Therefore the particles can no longer be viewed as located in separate places. (That technical term "spin" is not to be taken too literally. It is only suggestive.)
Moreover, (yes this is a third paragraph) if there was a big bang then all particles in the universe were originally entangled. Since entanglement never ceases, those particles are all now entangled. That means the world does not have separate places as it seems. Instead "separation" is only an illusion.
Understanding "non-separateness" is quite important in Theosophy. Theosophy refers to the "illusion of separateness" and the "heresy of separateness" as errors that hinder our progress along the path and that must be eliminated in our daily life. To make this clear and to present Theosophy's guidance on the subject, this newsletter exhibits many (but not all) of Blavatsky's quotes on the subject.
Perhaps the best known of all her statements is from the devotional Voice of the Silence.
If through the Hall of Wisdom, thou would'st reach the Vale of Bliss, Disciple,
close fast thy senses against the great dire heresy of separateness that weans
thee from the rest. (Voice of the Silence, Fragment I, 37 by HPB)
Perhaps her most direct statement on the illusion of separateness may be this less accessed quote written in 1889:
Now it is a fundamental doctrine of Theosophy that the “separateness” which we feel between
ourselves and the world of living beings around us is an illusion, not a reality. In very deed and
truth, all men are one, not in a feeling of sentimental gush and hysterical enthusiasm, but in
sober earnest. As all Eastern philosophy teaches, there is but ONE SELF in all the infinite
Universe, and what we men call “self” is but the illusionary reflection of the ONE SELF in the
heaving waters of earth. (Blavatsky Collected Writings p 104 Vol XI)
The beginning of this newsletter commented on the relation of ethical maxims to the concept of radical unity. After writing that, I encountered this quote from Blavatsky also relating the "altruistic maxims of Theosophy" to the need to eliminate the "sense of separateness".
Hence there is no contradiction whatever between the altruistic maxims of Theosophy and
its injunction to kill out all desire for material things, to strive after spiritual perfection. For
spiritual perfection and spiritual knowledge can only be reached on the spiritual plane; in
other words, only in that state in which all sense of separateness, all selfishness, all
feeling of personal interest and desire, has been merged in the wider consciousness of the
unity of Mankind. (ibid p 105)
Or to put it in summary form, radical unity implies Judge's maxim: Act for and as the self of all.
None can feel the difference between himself and his fellow-students, such as
“I am the wisest,” “I am more holy and pleasing to the teacher, or in my community, than
my brother,” etc.—and remain an upasaka. His thoughts must be predominantly fixed
upon his heart, chasing therefrom every hostile thought to any living being. It (the heart)
must be full of the feeling of its non-separateness from the rest of beings as from all in
Nature; otherwise no success can follow. (Practical Occultism by HPB)
The opening of this next paragraph could have been written by a modern physicist - but the ending of the paragraph is Theosophy.
Eastern Philosophyoccult or exotericdoes not admit of an “I” separate from the
Universe, objective or subjective, material or spiritualotherwise than as a temporary
illusion during the cycle of our incarnations. It is this regrettable illusion, the “heresy
of separateness” or personality, the idea that our “I” is distinct in eternity from the
Universal EGO, that has to be conquered and destroyed as the root of selfishness
and all evil, before we can get rid of rebirths and reach Nirvana. (BCW Vol XII p 407)
She relates progress along the path to the need for the elimination of the illusion of separateness.
Numerous are the pilgrims who desire to enter those waters; very few are the
strong swimmers who reach the Beacon. He who would get there must cease
to be a number, and become all numbers. He must have forgotten the illusion
of separateness, and accept only the truth of collective individuality.
(BCW Vol XI p 248, The Beacon of the Unknown)
Here is another passage that shows the relationship between underlying unity and one's progress along the path. It is a little longish quote but it seems helpful.
Sage. — Such attitude of mind must be attained as will enable one to look into
the realities of things. The mind must escape from the mere formalities and
conventions of life, even though outwardly one seems to obey all of them, and
should be firmly established on the truth that Man is a copy of the Universe and
has in himself a portion of the Supreme Being. To the extent this is realized will
be the clearness of perception of truth. A realization of this leads inevitably to the
conclusion that all other men and beings are united with us, and this removes the
egotism which is the result of the notion of separateness. When the truth of Unity
is understood, then distinctions due to comparisons made like the Pharisee’s,
that one is better than his neighbor, disappear from the mind, leaving it more pure
and free to act. (Conversations on Occultism by HPB)
Here she tells us we must "tear asunder" the feeling of separateness to progress upon the path.
For that purpose, every veil of illusion which creates a sense of personal isolation,
a feeling of separateness from THE ALL, must be torn asunder, or, in other words,
the aspirant must gradually discard all sense of selfishness with which we are all
more or less affected. A study of the Law of Cosmic Evolution teaches us that the
higher the evolution, the more does it tend towards Unity. In fact, Unity is the
ultimate possibility of Nature, and those who through vanity and selfishness go
against her purposes, cannot but incur the punishment of total annihilation. The
Occultist thus recognises that unselfishness and a feeling of universal philanthropy
are the inherent law of our being, and all he does is to attempt to destroy the chains
of selfishness forged upon us all by Maya. (Is the desire to live selfish? by HPB)
She gives the essential problem if we do not eliminate the illusion of separateness.
It is because SELF pinions man within a narrow sphere “beyond which mortal
mind can never range,” that the destruction of the personal sense of separateness
is indispensable to the Occultist. (Literary Jottings by HPB)
In explaining some symbolism she explains further that this error is the cause of misery and suffering.
... The “Dragon,” who seeks to devour her coming child (the Universe), is the
Dragon of absolute Wisdom—that Wisdom which, recognising the
non-separateness of the Universe and everything in it from the Absolute ALL,
sees in it no better than the great Illusion, Mahamaya [great illusion], hence
the cause of misery and suffering. (SD ii 384)
To the phrase "collective individuality" she appends this footnote expressed in poignant language. It makes clear the logical connection between the radical unity and the resulting moral imperative.
The illusion of the personality, of a separate ego, placed by our egotism in
the forefront. In one word, it is necessary to assimilate all humanity, live by it,
for it; and in it; in other terms, cease to be “one,” and become “all” or the total. (ibid)
In another stray comment on one of the stanzas she writes:
This refers to the Non-Separateness of all that lives ... (SD i 68)
A maxim of its own from the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge.
It is this sense of separateness which is the root of all evil. (Transactions)
And finally here is a stray entry in the Theosophical Glossary by Blavatsky under "The Ring Pass Not".
The circle within which are confined all those who still labour under the delusion
of separateness. (Theosophical Glossary)
I did not know the Buddhists had been teaching this principle.
The latter “principle” is the Lower Self, or that, which manifesting through our organic
system, acting on this plane of illusion, imagines itself the Ego Sum, and thus falls
into what Buddhist philosophy brands as the “heresy of separateness.” (Psychic
and Noetic Action by HPB)
Here she shows the idea to be Hindu as well.
But the Hylo-Idealists deny the Vedantic idea of non-separateness, they deny
that we are but parts of the whole; (BCW Vol IX p 138, Footnotes and Comment
on "Ultimate Philosophy" by HPB)
In fact, she extracts and highlights the same idea in the Bhagavadgita.
Again, "Seek shelter in the eternal alone" (ibid). "Destroy the sense of
separateness," repeats Krishna under every form. "The Mind (Manas) which
follows the rambling senses, makes the Soul (Buddhi) as helpless as the
boat which the wind leads astray upon the waters" (Bhagavatgita II. 70).
(Preface to Voice of the Silence by HPB)
She gives some insight into how this sense of separateness develops:
There is a series of vehicles becoming more and more gross, from spirit to the
densest matter, so that with each step downward and outward we get more and more
the sense of separateness developed in us. Yet this is illusory, for if there were a real
and complete separation between any two human beings, they could not
communicate with, or understand each other in any way. (BCW Vol XIII p 71)
Radin's book is quite stimulating. Some of his negative remarks toward occultism are in error but his book as a whole is greatly useful. This resulting newsletter so far is only a fraction of what I had wanted to write as a review of his book. However it is time to draw this letter to a close.
Much of this letter has been devoted to elaborating basic Theosophical ideas stimulated by his book rather than a review of his book in particular. And that is probably as it should be. In some future newsletter(s) I will continue the review as there is much more worth being said.
In closing there are two points to make - one on the significance of these ideas and one on the maelstrom mentioned at the outset.
"Entanglement", is a word introduced by Erwin Schrodinger, one of the original founders of quantum theory. He wrote:
If two separated bodies, each by itself known maximally, enter a situation in
which they influence each other, and separate again, then there occurs
regularly that with I have just called entanglement of our knowledge of the two
bodies ... I would not call that "one" but rather "the" characteristic trait of quantum
It may be surprising to find how significant Schrodinger found this property. In the above quote he called it "the" characteristic trait of quantum mechanics. It is from this trait of entanglement that physics is now deducing the radical unity of the universe.
Henry Stapp, a physicist working with the entanglement experiments, has said the resulting experiments and conclusions could be the "most profound discovery in all of science". He did not even say "in physics" but rather "all of science". (Henry P. Stapp, Quantum Physics and the Physicist's View of Nature: Philosophical Implications of Bell's Theorem", in the World View of Contempary Physics ed. Richard E Kitchener p40, 1988)
Blavatsky called this idea of radical unity the "fundamental law" of occultism. So Stapp, Schrodinger and Blavatsky all agree.
Blavatsky said "Modern Science is drawn more every day into the maëlstrom of Occultism". In this context we should note one more prediction.
Yet it is all there, and one by one facts and processes in Nature’s workshops
are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences, while mysterious help is
given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana. It is at the close of great Cycles,
in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place. We
are at the very close of the cycle of 5,000 years of the present Aryan Kaliyuga;
and between this time and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of
Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow. (SDi612)
In 1897 the electron was discovered. That rent the Veil of Nature and she hit the exact year.
She also referenced "at the close of great Cycles". Cycles don't always terminate exactly together but may overlap nearly together. The quantum age is said to have begun in 1900 with the work of Max Planck. This was a major discovery that qualifies as furthering the "rent" in nature. In the context of this discussion there is more.
Quantum theory developed much more extensively from the work of Planck. Einstein objected to some aspects of the Quantum theory and published his seminal objections in 1935. That stimulated Bell's Theorem. That stimulated practical experiments. Those experiments were refined and extended. Physicists mulled over the consequences and implications. The proven concept of "non-locality" was the result.
And indeed, in that way, just as Blavatsky asserted, Modern Science was drawn more every day into the maëlstrom of Occultism. To see more of those details of history see an earlier newsletter I wrote at www.blavatsky.net/newsletter/2005/absolute.htm.
"Entangled Minds" by Dean Radin at http://www.seekerbooks.com/book/9781416516774
"The Non-Local Universe" by Nadeau and Kafatos at http://www.seekerbooks.com/book/9780195132564
"Entanglement" by Amir Aczel http://www.seekerbooks.com/book/9780452284570
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