The Secret Doctrine Vol I

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The Secret Doctrine Vol I

By H.P. Blavatsky

Life, Force, or Gravity

The imponderable fluids have had their day; mechanical Forces are less talked about; Science has put on a new face for this last quarter of a century; but gravitation has remained, owing its life to new combinations after the old ones had nearly killed it. It may answer scientific hypotheses very well, but the question is whether it answers as well to truth, and represents a fact in nature. Attraction by itself is not sufficient to explain even planetary motion; how can it then presume to explain the rotatory motion in the infinitudes of Space? Attraction alone will never fill all the gaps, unless a special impulse is admitted for every sidereal body, and the rotation of every planet with its satellites is shown to be due to some one cause combined with attraction. And even then, says an Astronomer,908 Science would have to name that cause.
Occultism has named it for ages, and so have all the ancient Philosophers; but then all such beliefs are now proclaimed exploded superstitions. The extra-cosmic God has killed every possibility of belief in intra-cosmic intelligent Forces; yet who, or what, is the original “pusher” in that motion? Says Francœur:909
When we have learned the cause, unique et speciale, that pushes, we will be ready to combine it with the one which attracts.
And again:
Attraction between the celestial bodies is only repulsion: it is the sun that drives them incessantly onward; for otherwise, their motion would stop.
If ever this theory of the Sun-Force being the primal cause of all life on earth, and of all motion in heaven, is accepted, and if that other far bolder theory of Herschell, about certain organisms in the Sun, is accepted even as a provisional hypothesis, then will our teachings be vindicated, and Esoteric allegory will be shown to have anticipated Modern Science by millions of years, probably, for such are the Archaic Teachings. Mârttânda, the Sun, watches and threatens his seven brothers, the planets, without abandoning the central position to which his Mother, Aditi, relegated him. The Commentary910 says:
He pursues them, turning slowly around himself, ... following from afar the direction in which his brothers move, on the path that encircles their houses—or the orbit.
It is the sun-fluids or emanations that impart all motion, and awaken all into life, in the Solar System. It is attraction and repulsion, but not as understood by modern Physics or according to the law of gravity, but in harmony with the laws of manvantaric motion designed from the early Sandhyâ, the Dawn of the rebuilding and higher reformation of the System. These laws are immutable; but the motion of all the bodies—which motion is diverse and alters with every minor Kalpa—is regulated by the Movers, the Intelligences within the Cosmic Soul. Are we so very wrong in believing all this? Well, here is a great and modern man of Science who, speaking of vital electricity, uses language far more akin to Occultism than to modern Materialistic thought. We refer the sceptical reader to an article on “The Source of Heat in the Sun,” by Robert Hunt, F.R.S.,911 who, speaking of the luminous envelope of the Sun and its “peculiar curdy appearance,” says:
Arago proposed that this envelope should be called the Photosphere, a name now generally adopted. By the elder Herschell, the surface of this photosphere was compared to mother-of-pearl.... It resembles the ocean on a tranquil summer-day, when its surface is slightly crisped by a gentle breeze.... Mr. Nasmyth has discovered a more remarkable condition than any that had previously been suspected, ... objects which are peculiarly lens-shaped ... like “willow leaves,” ... different in size ... not arranged in any order, ... crossing each other in all directions ... with an irregular motion among themselves.... They are seen approaching to and receding from each other, and sometimes assuming new angular positions, so that the appearance ... has been compared to a dense shoal of fish, which, indeed, they resemble in shape.... The size of these objects gives a grand idea of the gigantic scale upon which physical (?) operations are carried out in the sun. They cannot be less than 1,000 miles in length, and from two to three hundred miles in breadth. The most probable conjecture which has been offered respecting those leaf or lens-like objects, is that the photosphere912 is an immense ocean of gaseous matter [what kind of “matter”?] ... in a state of intense [apparent] incandescence, and that they are perspective projections of the sheets of flame.
Solar “flames” seen through telescopes are reflections, says Occultism. But the reader has already seen what Occultists have to say to this.
Whatever they [those sheets of flame] may be, it is evident they are the immediate sources of solar heat and light. Here we have a surrounding envelope of photogenic matter,913 which pendulates with mighty energies, and by communicating its motion to the ethereal medium in stellar space, produces heat and light in far distant worlds. We have said that those forms have been compared to certain organisms, and Herschell says, “Though it would be too daring to speak of such organizations as partaking of life [why not?],914 yet we do not know that vital action is competent to develop heat, light, and electricity.”... Can it be that there is truth in this fine thought? May the pulsing of vital matter in the central sun of our system be the source of all that life which crowds the earth, and without doubt overspreads the other planets, to which the sun is the mighty minister?
Occultism answers these queries in the affirmative; and Science will find this to be the case, one day.
Again, Mr. Hunt writes:
But regarding Life—Vital Force—as a power far more exalted than either light, heat, or electricity, and indeed capable of exerting a controlling power over them all [this is absolutely Occult] ... we are certainly disposed to view with satisfaction that speculation which supposes the photosphere to be the primary seat of vital power, and to regard with a poetic pleasure that hypothesis which refers the solar energies to Life.915
Thus, we have an important scientific corroboration for one of our fundamental dogmas—namely, that (a) the Sun is the store-house of Vital Force, which is the Noumenon of Electricity; and (b) that it is from its mysterious, never-to-be-fathomed depths, that issue those life-currents which thrill through Space, as through the organisms of every living thing on Earth. For see what another eminent Physician says, who calls this, our life-fluid, “Nervous Ether.” Change a few sentences in the article, extracts from which now follow, and you have another quasi-Occult treatise on Life-Force. It is again Dr. B. W. Richardson, F.R.S., who gives his views as follows on “Nervous Ether,” as he has on “Sun-Force” and “Earth-Force”:
The idea attempted to be conveyed by the theory is, that between the molecules of the matter, solid or fluid, of which the nervous organisms, and, indeed, of which all the organic parts of a body are composed, there exists a refined subtle medium, vaporous or gaseous, which holds the molecules in a condition for motion upon each other, and for arrangement and reärrangement of form; a medium by and through which all motion is conveyed; by and through which the one organ or part of the body is held in communion with the other parts, by which and through which the outer living world communicates with the living man; a medium, which, being present, enables the phenomena of life to be demonstrated, and which, being universally absent, leaves the body actually dead.
And the whole Solar System falls into Pralaya—the author might have added. But let us read further:
I use the word ether in its general sense as meaning a very light, vaporous or gaseous matter; I use it, in short, as the astronomer uses it when he speaks of the ether of Space, by which he means a subtle but material medium.... When I speak of a nervous ether, I do not convey that the ether is existent in nervous structure only: I believe truly that it is a special part of the nervous organization; but, as nerves pass into all structures that have capacities for movement and sensibilities, so the nervous ether passes into all such parts; and as the nervous ether is, according to my view, a direct product from blood, so we may look upon it as a part of the atmosphere of the blood.... The evidence in favour of the existence of an elastic medium pervading the nervous matter and capable of being influenced by simple pressure is all-convincing.... In nervous structure there is, unquestionably, a true nervous fluid, as our predecessors taught.916 The precise chemical (?)917 composition of this fluid is not yet well known; the physical characters of it have been little studied. Whether it moves in currents, we do not know; whether it circulates, we do not know; whether it is formed in the centres and passes from them to the nerves, or whether it is formed everywhere where blood enters nerve, we do not know. The exact uses of the fluid we do not consequently know. It occurs to my mind, however, that the veritable fluid of nervous matter is not of itself sufficient to act as the subtle medium that connects the outer with the inner universe of man and animal. I think—and this is the modification I suggest to the older theory—there must be another form of matter present during life; a matter which exists in the condition of vapour or gas, which pervades the whole nervous organism, surrounds as an enveloping atmosphere918 each molecule of nervous structure, and is the medium of all motion, communicated to and from the nervous centres.... When it is once fairly presented to the mind that during life there is in the animal body a finely diffused form of matter, a vapour filling every part—and even stored in some parts; a matter constantly renewed by the vital chemistry; a matter as easily disposed of as the breath, after it has served its purpose—a new flood of light breaks on the intelligence.919
A new flood of light is certainly thrown on the wisdom of ancient and mediæval Occultism and its votaries. For Paracelsus wrote the same thing more than three hundred years ago, in the sixteenth century, as follows:
The whole of the Microcosm is potentially contained in the Liquor Vitæ, a nerve fluid ... in which is contained the nature, quality, character, and essence of beings.920
The Archæus is an essence that is equally distributed in all parts of the human body.... The Spiritus Vitæ takes its origin from the Spiritus Mundi. Being an emanation of the latter, it contains the elements of all cosmic influences, and is therefore the cause by which the action of the stars [cosmic forces] upon the invisible body of man [his vital Linga Sharîra] may be explained.921
Had Dr. Richardson studied all the secret works of Paracelsus, he would not have been obliged to confess so often, “we do not know,” “it is not known to us,” etc. Nor would he ever have written the following sentence, recanting the best portions of his independent rediscovery.
It may be urged that in this line of thought is included no more than the theory of the existence of the ether ... supposed to pervade space.... It may be said that this universal ether pervades all the organism of the animal body as from without, and as part of every organization. This view would be Pantheism physically discovered, if it were true [!!]. It fails to be true because it would destroy the individuality of every individual sense.922
We fail to see this, and we know it is not so. Pantheism may be “physically rediscovered.” It was known, seen, and felt by the whole of antiquity. Pantheism manifests itself in the vast expanse of the starry heavens, in the breathing of the seas and oceans, and in the quiver of life of the smallest blade of grass. Philosophy rejects one finite and imperfect God in the universe, the anthropomorphic deity of the Monotheist as represented by his followers. It repudiates, in its name of Philo-theo-sophia, the grotesque idea that Infinite, Absolute Deity should, or rather could, have any direct or indirect relation to finite illusive evolutions of Matter, and therefore it cannot imagine a universe outside that Deity, or the absence of that Deity from the smallest speck of animate or inanimate Substance. This does not mean that every bush, tree or stone is God or a God; but only that every speck of the manifested material of Kosmos belongs to, and is the Substance of, God, however low it may have fallen in its cyclic gyration through the Eternities of the Ever-Becoming; and also that every such speck individually, and Kosmos collectively, is an aspect and a reminder of that universal One Soul—which Philosophy refuses to call God, thus limiting the eternal and ever-present Root and Essence.
Why either the Ether of Space or “Nervous Ether” should “destroy the individuality of every sense,” seems incomprehensible to one acquainted with the real nature of that “Nervous Ether” under its Sanskrit, or rather Esoteric and Kabalistic name. Dr. Richardson agrees that:
If we did not individually produce the medium of communication between ourselves and the outer world, if it were produced from without and adapted to one kind of vibration alone, there were fewer senses required than we possess: for, taking two illustrations only—ether of light is not adapted for sound, and yet we hear as well and see; while air, the medium of motion of sound, is not the medium of light, and yet we see and hear.
This is not so. The opinion that Pantheism “fails to be true because it would destroy the individuality of every individual sense” shows that all the conclusions of the learned doctor are based on the modern physical theories, though he would fain reform them. But he will find it impossible to do this unless he allows the existence of spiritual senses to replace the gradual atrophy of the physical. “We see and hear,” in accordance (of course, in Dr. Richardson's mind) with the explanations of the phenomena of sight and hearing, afforded by that same Materialistic Science which postulates that we cannot see and hear otherwise. The Occultists and Mystics know better. The Vedic  ryans were as familiar with the mysteries of sound and colour on the physical plane as are our Physiologists, but they had also mastered the secrets of both on planes inaccessible to the Materialist. They knew of a double set of senses; spiritual and material. In a man who is deprived of one or more senses, the remaining senses become the more developed; for instance, the blind man will recover his sight through the senses of touch, of hearing, etc., and he who is deaf will be able to hear through sight, by seeing audibly the words uttered by the lips and mouth of the speaker. But these are cases that belong to the world of Matter still. The spiritual senses, those that act on a higher plane of consciousness, are rejected à priori by Physiology, because the latter is ignorant of the Sacred Science. It limits the action of Ether to vibrations, and, dividing it from air—though air is simply differentiated and compound Ether—makes it assume functions to fit in with the special theories of the Physiologist. But there is more real Science in the teachings of the Upanishads, when these are correctly understood, than the Orientalists, who do not understand them at all, are ready to admit. Mental as well as physical correlations of the seven senses—seven on the physical and seven on the mental planes—are clearly explained and defined in the Vedas, and especially in the Upanishad called Anugîtâ:
The indestructible and the destructible, such is the double manifestation of the Self. Of these the indestructible is the existent [the true essence or nature of Self, the underlying principles], the manifestation as an individual (entity) is called the destructible.923
Thus speaks the Ascetic in the Anugîtâ, and also:
Every one who is twice-born [initiated] knows such is the teaching of the ancients.... Space is the first entity.... Now Space [ kâsha, or the Noumenon of Ether] has one quality ... and that is stated to be sound only ... [and the] qualities of sound [are] Shadja, Rishabha, together with Gândhâra, Madhyama, Panchama, and beyond these [should be understood to be] Nishâda and Dhaivata [the Hindû gamut].924
These seven notes of the scale are the principles of sound. The qualities of every Element, as of every sense, are septenary, and to judge and dogmatize on them from their manifestation on the material or objective plane—likewise sevenfold in itself—is quite arbitrary. For it is only by the Self emancipating itself from these seven causes of illusion, that we can acquire the knowledge (Secret Wisdom) of the qualities of objects of sense on their dual plane of manifestation, the visible and the invisible. Thus it is said:
Hear me ... state this wonderful mystery.... Hear also the assignment of causes exhaustively. The nose, and the tongue, and the eye, and the skin, and the ear as the fifth [organ of sense] mind and understanding,925 these seven [senses] should be understood to be the causes of (the knowledge of) qualities. Smell, and taste, and colour, sound, and touch as the fifth, the object of the mental operation, and the object of the understanding [the highest spiritual sense or perception], these seven are causes of action. He who smells, he who eats, he who sees, he who speaks, and he who hears as the fifth, he who thinks, and he who understands, these seven should be understood to be the causes of the agents. These [the agents] being possessed of qualities (sattva, rajas, tamas), enjoy their own qualities, agreeable and disagreeable.926
The modern commentators, failing to comprehend the subtle meaning of the ancient Scholiasts, take the sentence, “causes of the agents,” to mean “that the powers of smelling, etc., when attributed to the Self, make him appear as an agent, as an active principle” (!), which is entirely fanciful. These “seven” are understood to be the causes of the agents, because “the objects are causes, as their enjoyment causes an impression.” It means esoterically that they, these seven senses, are caused by the agents, which are the “deities,” for otherwise what does, or can, the following sentence mean? “Thus,” it is said, “these seven [senses] are the causes of emancipation”—i.e., when these causes are made ineffectual. And, again, the sentence, “among the learned [the wise Initiates] who understand everything, the qualities which are in the position [in the nature, rather] of the deities, each in its place,” etc., means simply that the “learned” understand the nature of the Noumena of the various phenomena; and that “qualities,” in this instance, mean the qualities of the high Planetary or Elementary Gods or Intelligences, which rule the elements and their products, and not at all the “senses,” as the modern commentator thinks. For the learned do not suppose their senses to have aught to do with them, any more than with their Self.
Then we read in the Bhagavadgîtâ of Krishna, the Deity, saying:
Only some know me truly. Earth, water, fire, air, space [or  kâsha, Æther], mind, understanding and egoism [or the perception of all the former on the illusive plane], ... this is a lower form of my nature. Know (that there is) another (form of my) nature, and higher than this, which is animate, O you of mighty arms! and by which this universe is upheld.... All this is woven upon me, like numbers of pearls upon a thread.927 I am the taste in the water, O son of Kuntî! I am the light of the sun and moon. I am ... sound (“i.e., the occult essence which underlies all these and the other qualities of the various things mentioned”—Transl.), in space ... the fragrant smell in the earth, refulgence in the fire ... etc.928
Truly, then, one should study Occult Philosophy before one begins to seek for and verify the mysteries of Nature on its surface alone, as he alone “who knows the truth about the qualities of Nature, who understands the creation of all entities ... is emancipated” from error. Says the Preceptor:
Accurately understanding the great (tree) of which the unperceived [Occult Nature, the root of all] is the sprout from the seed [Parabrahman], which consists of the understanding [Mahat, or the Universal Intelligent Soul] as its trunk, the branches of which are the great egoism,929 in the holes of which are the sprouts, namely, the senses, of which the great [occult, or invisible] elements are the flower-bunches,930the gross elements [the gross objective matter], the smaller boughs, which are always possessed of leaves, always possessed of flowers ... which is eternal and the seed of which is the Brahman [the Deity]; and cutting it with that excellent sword—knowledge [Secret Wisdom]—one attains immortality and casts off birth and death.931
This is the Tree of Life, the Ashvattha tree, after the cutting of which only, Man, the slave of life and death, can be emancipated.
But the men of Science know nought, nor will they hear of the “Sword of Knowledge” used by the Adepts and Ascetics. Hence the one-sided remarks of even the most liberal among them, based on and flowing from undue importance given to the arbitrary divisions and classification of Physical Science. Occultism heeds them very little, and Nature heeds them still less. The whole range of physical phenomena proceeds from the Primary of Æther— kâsha, as dual-natured  kâsha proceeds from undifferentiated Chaos, so-called, the latter being the primary aspect of Mûlaprakriti, the Root-Matter and the first abstract Idea one can form of Parabrahman. Modern Science may divide its hypothetically conceived Ether in as many ways as it likes; the real Æther of Space will remain as it is throughout. It has its seven “principles,” as all the rest of Nature has, and where there was no Æther there would be no “sound,” as it is the vibrating sounding-board in Nature in all its seven differentiations. This is the first mystery the Initiates of old have learned. Our present normal physical senses were, from our present point of view, abnormal in those days of slow and progressive downward evolution and fall into Matter. And there was a day when all that in our modern times is regarded as exceptional, so puzzling to the Physiologists now compelled to believe in them—such as thought-transference, clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc.; in short, all that is now called “wonderful and abnormal”—when all that and much more belonged to the senses and faculties common to all humanity. We are, however, cycling back and cycling forward; that is to say, that having lost in spirituality what we acquired in physical development until almost the end of the Fourth Race, we are now as gradually and imperceptibly losing in the physical all that we regain once more in the spiritual reëvolution. This process must go on, until the period which will bring the Sixth Root-Race on a line parallel with the spirituality of the Second Race, a long extinct mankind.
But this will hardly be understood at present. We must return to Dr. Richardson's hopeful, though somewhat incorrect hypothesis about “Nervous Ether.” Under the misleading translation of the word as “Space,”  kâsha has just been shown in the ancient Hindû system as the “first born” of the One, having but one quality, “Sound,” which is septenary. In Esoteric language this One is the Father-Deity, and Sound is synonymous with the Logos, Verbum, or Son. Whether consciously or otherwise, it must be the latter; and Dr. Richardson, while preaching an Occult doctrine, chooses the lowest form of the septenary nature of that Sound, and speculates upon it, adding:
The theory, I offer, is that the nervous ether is an animal product. In different classes of animals it may differ in physical quality so as to be adapted to the special wants of the animal, but essentially it plays one part in all animals, and is produced, in all, in the same way.
Herein lies the nucleus of error leading to all the resultant mistaken views. This “Nervous Ether” is the lowest principle of the Primordial Essence which is Life. It is Animal Vitality diffused in all Nature, and acting according to the conditions it finds for its activity. It is not an “animal product,” but the living animal, the living flower and plant, are its products. The animal tissues only absorb it according to their more or less morbid or healthy state—as do physical materials and structures (in their primogenial state, nota bene)—and, from the moment of the birth of the Entity, are regulated, strengthened, and fed by it. It descends in a larger supply to vegetation in the Sushumnâ Sun-Ray which lights and feeds the Moon, and it is through her beams that it pours its light upon, and penetrates man and animal, more during their sleep and rest, than when they are in full activity. Therefore Dr. Richardson errs again in stating that:
The nervous ether is not, according to my idea of it, in itself active, nor an excitant of animal motion in the sense of a force; but it is essential as supplying the conditions by which the motion is rendered possible. [It is just the reverse.].... It is the conductor of all vibrations of heat, of light, of sound, of electrical action, of mechanical friction.932 It holds the nervous system throughout in perfect tension, during states of life [true]. By exercise it is disposed of [rather generated] ... and when demand for it is greater than the supply, its deficiency is indicated by nervous collapse or exhaustion.933 It accumulates in the nervous centres during sleep, bringing them, if I may so speak, to their due tone, and therewith raising the muscles to awakening and renewed life.
Just so; this is quite correct and comprehensible. Therefore:
The body fully renewed by it, presents capacity for motion, fulness of form, life. The body bereft of it presents inertia, the configuration of shrunken death, the evidence of having lost something physical that was in it when it lived.
Modern Science denies the existence of a “vital principle.” This extract is a clear proof of its grand mistake. But this “physical something,” that we call life-fluid—the Liquor Vitæ of Paracelsus—has not deserted the body, as Dr. Richardson thinks. It has only changed its state from activity to passivity, and has become latent, owing to the too morbid state of the tissues, on which it has hold no longer. Once the rigor mortis is absolute, the Liquor Vitæ will reäwaken into action, and will begin its work on the atoms chemically. Brahmâ-Vishnu, the Creator and the Preserver of Life, will have transformed himself into Shiva the Destroyer.
Lastly Dr. Richardson writes:
The nervous ether may be poisoned; it may, I mean, have diffused through it, by simple gaseous diffusion, other gases or vapours derived from without; it may derive from within products of substances swallowed and ingested, or gases of decomposition produced during disease in the body itself.934
And the learned gentleman might have added on the same Occult principle: That the “Nervous Ether” of one person can be poisoned by the “Nervous Ether” of another person or by his “auric emanations.” But see what Paracelsus said of this “Nervous Ether”:
The Archæus is of a magnetic nature, and attracts or repulses other sympathetic or antipathetic forces belonging to the same plane. The less power of resistance for astral influences a person possesses, the more will he be subject to such influences. The vital force is not enclosed in man, but radiates [within and] around him like a luminous sphere [aura] and it may be made to act at a distance.... It may poison the essence of life [blood] and cause diseases, or it may purify it after it has been made impure, and restore the health.935
That the two, “Archæus” and “Nervous Ether,” are identical, is shown by the English Scientist, who says that generally the tension of it may be too high or too low; that it may be so:
Owing to local changes in the nervous matter it invests.... Under sharp excitation it may vibrate as if in a storm and plunge every muscle under cerebral or spinal control into uncontrolled motion—unconscious convulsions.
This is called nervous excitation, but no one, except the Occultist, knows the reason of such nervous perturbation, or explains the primary causes of it. The principle of Life may kill when too exuberant, as much as when there is too little of it. But this “principle” on the manifested plane, that is to say, our plane, is but the effect and the result of the intelligent action of the “Host,” or collective Principle, the manifesting Life and Light. It is itself subordinate to, and emanates from, the ever-invisible, eternal and Absolute One Life, in a descending and reäscending scale of hierarchic degrees, a true septenary ladder, with Sound, the Logos, at the upper end, and the Vidyâdharas936, the inferior Pitris, at the lower.
Of course, the Occultists are fully aware of the fact that the vitalist “fallacy,” so derided by Vogt and Huxley, is, nevertheless, still countenanced in very high scientific quarters, and, therefore, they are happy to feel that they do not stand alone. Thus, Professor de Quatrefages writes:
It is very true that we do not know what life is; but no more do we know whatthe force is that set the stars in motion.... Living beings are heavy, and therefore subject to gravitation; they are the seat of numerous and various physico-chemical phenomena which are indispensable to their existence, and which must be referred to the action of etherodynamy [electricity, heat, etc.]. But these phenomena are here manifested under the influence of another force.... Life is not antagonistic to the inanimate forces, but it governs and rules their action by its laws.937



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