The Secret Doctrine Vol I

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The Secret Doctrine Vol I

By H.P. Blavatsky

Modern Physicists are Playing at Blind Mans Buff

And now Occultism puts to Science the question: Is light a body, or is it not? Whatever the answer of the latter, the former is prepared to show that, to this day, the most eminent Physicists have no real knowledge on the subject. To know what light is, and whether it is an actual substance or a mere undulation of the “ethereal medium,” Science has first to learn what Matter, Atom, Ether, Force, are in reality. Now, the truth is, that it knows nothing of any of these, and admits its ignorance. It has not even agreed what to believe in, as dozens of hypotheses on the same subject, emanating from various and very eminent Scientists, are antagonistic to each other and often self-contradictory. Thus their learned speculations may, with a stretch of good-will, be accepted as “working hypotheses” in a secondary sense, as Stallo puts it. But being radically inconsistent with each other, they must finally end by mutually destroying themselves. As declared by the author of Concepts of Modem Physics:
It must not be forgotten that the several departments of science are simply arbitrary divisions of science at large. In these several departments the same physical object may be considered under different aspects. The physicist may study its molecular relations, while the chemist determines its atomic constitution. But when they both deal with the same element or agent, it cannot have one set of properties in physics, and another set contradictory of them, in chemistry. If the physicist and chemist alike assume the existence of ultimate atoms absolutely invariable in bulk and weight, the atom cannot be a cube or oblate spheroid for physical, and a sphere for chemical purposes. A group of constant atoms cannot be an aggregate of extended and absolutely inert and impenetrable masses in a crucible or retort, and a system of mere centres of force as part of a magnet or of a Clamond battery. The universal æther cannot be soft and mobile to please the chemist, and rigid-elastic to satisfy the physicist; it cannot be continuous at the command of Sir William Thomson and discontinuous on the suggestion of Cauchy or Fresnel.792
The eminent Physicist, G. A. Hirn, may likewise be quoted as saying the same thing in the 43rd Volume of the Mémoires de l'Académie Royale de Belgique, which we translate from the French, as cited:
When one sees the assurance with which to-day are affirmed doctrines which attribute the collectivity, the universality of the phenomena to the motions alone of the atom, one has a right to expect to find likewise unanimity in the qualities assigned to this unique being, the foundation of all that exists. Now, from the first examination of the particular systems proposed, one finds the strangest deception; one perceives that the atom of the chemist, the atom of the physicist, that of the metaphysician, and that of the mathematician ... have absolutely nothing in common but the name! The inevitable result is the existing subdivision of our sciences, each of which, in its own little pigeon-hole, constructs an atom which satisfies the requirements of the phenomena it studies, without troubling itself in the least about the requirements proper to the phenomena of the neighbouring pigeon-hole. The metaphysician banishes the principles of attraction and repulsion as dreams; the mathematician, who analyses the laws of elasticity and those of the propagation of light, admits them implicitly, without even naming them.... The chemist cannot explain the grouping of the atoms, in his often complicated molecules, without attributing to his atoms specific distinguishing qualities; for the physicist and the metaphysician, partisans of the modern doctrines, the atom is, on the contrary, always and everywhere the same. What am I saying? There is no agreement even in one and the same science as to the properties of the atom. Each constructs an atom to suit his own fancy, in order to explain some special phenomenon with which he is particularly concerned.793
The above is the photographically correct image of Modern Science and Physics. The “pre-requisite of that incessant play of the 'scientific imagination',” which is so often found in Professor Tyndall's eloquent discourses, is vivid indeed, as is shown by Stallo, and for contradictory variety it leaves far behind it any “phantasies” of Occultism. However that may be, if physical theories are confessedly “mere formal, explanatory, didactic devices,” and if, to use the words of a critic of Stallo, “atomism is only a symbolical graphic system,”794 then the Occultist can hardly be regarded as assuming too much, when he places alongside of these “devices” and “symbolical systems” of Modern Science, the symbols and devices of Archaic Teachings.
“An Lumen Sit Corpus, Nec Non?”
Most decidedly light is not a body, we are told. Physical Sciences say light is a force, a vibration, the undulation of Ether. It is the property or quality of Matter, or even an affection thereof—never a body!
Just so. For this discovery, the knowledge, whatever it may be worth, that light or caloric is not a motion of material particles, Science is chiefly, if not solely indebted, to Sir William Grove. It was he who in a lecture at the London Institution, in 1842, was the first to show that “heat, light,795 may be considered as affections of matter itself, and not of a distinct ethereal, ‘imponderable,’ fluid [a state of matter now] permeating it.”796 Yet, perhaps, for some Physicists—as for Œrsted, a very eminent Scientist—Force and Forces were tacitly “Spirit [and hence Spirits] in Nature.” What several rather mystical Scientists taught was that light, heat, magnetism, electricity and gravity, etc., were not the final Causes of the visible phenomena, including planetary motion, but were themselves the secondary effects of other Causes, for which Science in our day cares very little, but in which Occultism believes; for the Occultists have exhibited proofs of the validity of their claims in every age. And in what age were there no Occultists and no Adepts?
Sir Isaac Newton held to the Pythagorean corpuscular theory, and was also inclined to admit its consequences; which made the Comte de Maistre hope, at one time, that Newton would ultimately lead Science back to the recognition of the fact that Forces and the Celestial Bodies were propelled and guided by Intelligences.797 But de Maistre counted without his host. The innermost thoughts and ideas of Newton were perverted, and of his great mathematical learning only the mere physical husk was turned to account.
According to one atheistic Idealist, Dr. Lewins:
When Sir Isaac, in 1687 ... showed mass and atom acted upon ... by innate activity ... he effectually disposed of Spirit, Anima, or Divinity, as supererogatory.
Had poor Sir Isaac foreseen to what use his successors and followers would apply his “gravity,” that pious and religious man would surely have quietly eaten his apple, and never have breathed a word about any mechanical ideas connected with its fall.
Great contempt is shown by Scientists for Metaphysics generally and for Ontological Metaphysics especially. But whenever the Occultists are bold enough to raise their diminished heads, we see that Materialistic, Physical Science is honey-combed with Metaphysics;798 that its most fundamental principles, while inseparably wedded to transcendentalism, are nevertheless, in order to show Modern Science divorced from such “dreams,” tortured and often ignored in the maze of contradictory theories and hypotheses. A very good corroboration of this charge lies in the fact that Science finds itself absolutely compelled to accept the “hypothetical” Ether, and to try to explain it on the materialistic grounds of atomo-mechanical laws. This attempt has led directly to the most fatal discrepancies and radical inconsistencies between the assumed nature of Ether and its physical behaviour. A second proof is found in the many contradictory statements made about the Atom—the most metaphysical object in creation.
Now, what does the modern science of Physics know of Ether, the first concept of which belongs undeniably to ancient Philosophers, the Greeks having borrowed it from the  ryans, and the origin of modern Ether being found in, and disfigured from,  kâsha? This disfigurement is claimed as a modification and refinement of the idea of Lucretius. Let us then examine the modern concept, from several scientific volumes containing the admissions of the Physicists themselves.
As Stallo shows, the existence of Ether is accepted in Physical Astronomy, in ordinary Physics, and in Chemistry.
By the astronomers, this æther was originally regarded as a fluid of extreme tenuity and mobility, offering no sensible resistance to the motions of celestial bodies, and the question of its continuity or discontinuity was not seriously mooted. Its main function in modern astronomy has been to serve as a basis for hydro-dynamical theories of gravitation. In physics this fluid appeared for some time in several rôles in connection with the “imponderables” [so cruelly put to death by Sir William Grove], some physicists going so far as to identify it with one or more of them.799
Stallo then points out the change caused by the kinetic theories; that from the date of the dynamical theory of heat, Ether was chosen in Optics as a substratum for luminous undulations. Next, in order to explain the dispersion and polarization of light, Physicists had to resort once more to their “scientific imagination,” and forthwith endowed the Ether with (a) atomic or molecular structure, and (b) with an enormous elasticity, “so that its resistance to deformation far exceeded that of the most rigid elastic bodies.” This necessitated the theory of the essential discontinuity of Matter, hence of Ether. After having accepted this discontinuity, in order to account for dispersion and polarization, theoretical impossibilities were discovered with regard to such dispersion. Cauchy's “scientific imagination” saw in Atoms “material points without extension,” and he proposed, in order to obviate the most formidable obstacles to the undulatory theory (namely, some well-known mechanical theorems which stood in the way), to assume that the ethereal medium of propagation, instead of being continuous, should consist of particles separated by sensible distances. Fresnel rendered the same service to the phenomena of polarization. E. B. Hunt upset the theories of both.800 There are now men of Science who proclaim them “materially fallacious,” while others—the “atomo-mechanicalists”—cling to them with desperate tenacity. The supposition of an atomic or molecular constitution of Ether is upset, moreover, by thermo-dynamics, for Clerk Maxwell showed that such a medium would be simply gas.801 The hypothesis of “finite intervals” is thus proven of no avail as a supplement to the undulatory theory. Besides, eclipses fail to reveal any such variation of colour as is supposed by Cauchy, on the assumption that the chromatic rays are propagated with different velocities. Astronomy has pointed out more than one phenomenon absolutely at variance with this doctrine.
Thus, while in one department of Physics the atomo-molecular constitution of the Ether is accepted in order to account for one special set of phenomena, in another department such a constitution is found to be quite subversive of a number of well-ascertained facts; and Hirn's charges are thus justified. Chemistry deemed it
Impossible to concede the enormous elasticity of the æther without depriving it of those properties, upon which its serviceableness in the construction of chemical theories mainly depended.
This ended in a final transformation of Ether.
The exigencies of the atomo-mechanical theory have led distinguished mathematicians and physicists to attempt a substitution for the traditional atoms of matter, of peculiar forms of vortical motion in a universal, homogeneous, incompressible, and continuous material medium [Ether].802
The present writer—claiming no great scientific education, but only a tolerable acquaintance with modern theories, and a better one with Occult Sciences—picks up weapons against the detractors of the Esoteric Teaching in the very arsenal of Modern Science. The glaring contradictions, the mutually-destructive hypotheses of world-renowned Scientists, their disputes, their accusations and denunciations of each other, show plainly that, whether accepted or not, the Occult Theories have as much right to a hearing as any of the so-called learned and academical hypotheses. Thus, whether the followers of the Royal Society choose to accept Ether as a continuous or as a discontinuous fluid matters little, and is indifferent for the present purpose. It simply points to one certainty: Official Science knows nothing to this day of the constitution of Ether. Let Science call it Matter, if it likes; only neither as  kâsha, nor as the one sacred Æther of the Greeks, is it to be found in any of the states of Matter known to modern Physics. It is Matter on quite another plane of perception and being, and it can neither be analyzed by scientific apparatus, nor appreciated or even conceived by the “scientific imagination,” unless the possessors thereof study the Occult Sciences. That which follows proves this statement.
It is clearly demonstrated by Stallo as regards the crucial problems of modern Physics, as was done by De Quatrefages and several others in those of Anthropology, Biology, etc., that, in their efforts to support their individual hypotheses and systems, most of the eminent and learned Materialists very often utter the greatest fallacies. Let us take the following case. Most of them reject actio in distans—one of the fundamental principles in the question of Æther or  kâsha in Occultism—while, as Stallo justly observes, there is no physical action “which, on close examination, does not resolve itself into actio in distans”; and he proves it.
Now, metaphysical arguments, according to Professor Lodge,803 are “unconscious appeals to experience.” And he adds that if such an experience is not conceivable, then it does not exist. In his own words:
If a highly-developed mind or set of minds, find a doctrine about some comparatively simple and fundamental matter absolutely unthinkable, it is an evidence ... that the unthinkable state of things has no existence.
And thereupon, toward the end of his lecture, the Professor indicates that the explanation of cohesion, as well as of gravity, “is to be looked for in the vortex-atom theory of Sir William Thomson.”
It is needless to stop to inquire whether it is to this vortex-atom theory, also, that we have to look for the dropping down on earth of the first life-germ by a passing meteor or comet—Sir William Thomson's hypothesis. But Prof. Lodge might be reminded of the wise criticism on his lecture in Stallo's Concepts of Modem Physics. Noticing the above-quoted declaration by the Professor, the author asks
Whether ... the elements of the vortex-atom theory are familiar, or even possible, facts of experience? For, if they are not, clearly that theory is obnoxious to the same criticism which is said to invalidate the assumption of actio in distans.804
And then the able critic shows clearly what the Ether is not, nor can ever be, notwithstanding all scientific claims to the contrary. And thus he opens widely, if unconsciously, the entrance door to our Occult Teachings. For, as he says:
The medium in which the vortex-movements arise is, according to Professor Lodge's own express statement (Nature, vol. xxvii. p. 305), “a perfectly homogeneous, incompressible, continuous body, incapable of being resolved into simple elements or atoms; it is, in fact, continuous, not molecular.” And after making this statement Professor Lodge adds: “There is no other body of which we can say this, and hence the properties of the æther must be somewhat different from those of ordinary matter.” It appears, then, that the whole vortex-atom theory, which is offered to us as a substitute for the “metaphysical theory” of actio in distans, rests upon the hypothesis of the existence of a material medium which is utterly unknown to experience, and which has properties somewhat different805 from those of ordinary matter. Hence this theory, instead of being, as is claimed, a reduction of an unfamiliar fact of experience to a familiar fact, is, on the contrary, a reduction of a fact which is perfectly familiar, to a fact which is not only unfamiliar, but wholly unknown, unobserved and unobservable. Furthermore, the alleged vortical motion of, or rather in, the assumed ethereal medium is ... impossible, because “motion in a perfectly homogeneous, incompressible, and therefore continuous fluid, is not sensible motion.”... It is manifest, therefore ... that, wherever the vortex-atom theory may land us, it certainly does not land us anywhere in the region of physics, or in the domain of veræ causæ.806 And I may add that, inasmuch as the hypothetical undifferentiated807 and undifferentiable medium is clearly an involuntary reïfication of the old ontological concept pure being, the theory under discussion has all the attributes of an inapprehensible metaphysical phantom.808
A “phantom,” indeed, which can be made apprehensible only by Occultism. From such scientific Metaphysics to Occultism there is hardly one step. Those Physicists who hold the view that the atomic constitution of Matter is consistent with its penetrability, need not go far out of their way to be able to account for the greatest phenomena of Occultism, now so derided by Physical Scientists and Materialists. Cauchy's “material points without extension” are Leibnitz's Monads, and at the same time are the materials out of which the “Gods” and other invisible Powers clothe themselves in bodies. The disintegration and reïntegration of “material” particles without extension, as a chief factor in phenomenal manifestations, ought to suggest themselves very easily as a clear possibility, at any rate to those few scientific minds which accept M. Cauchy's views. For, disposing of that property of Matter which they call impenetrability, by simply regarding the Atoms as “material points exerting on each other attractions and repulsions which vary with the distances that separate them,” the French theorist explains that:
From this it follows that, if it pleased the author of nature simply to modify the laws according to which the atoms attract or repel each other, we might instantly see the hardest bodies penetrating each other, the smallest particles of matter occupying immense spaces, or the largest masses reducing themselves to the smallest volumes, the entire universe concentrating itself, as it were, in a single point.809
And that “point,” invisible on our plane of perception and matter, is quite visible to the eye of the Adept who can follow and see it present on other planes. For the Occultists, who say that the author of Nature is Nature itself, something indistinct and inseparable from the Deity, it follows that those who are conversant with the Occult laws of Nature, and know how to change and provoke new conditions in Ether, may—not modify the laws, but work and do the same in accordance with these immutable laws.



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