The ancient doctrine of the constant, eternal change of every atom from state to state, is founded upon, or rather grows out of, another which postulates that there is no such thing as dead matter. At every conceivable point in the universe there are lives; nowhere can be found a spot that is dead; and each life is forever hastening onward to higher evolution. To admit this, we must of course grant that matter is never perceived by the eye or through any instrument. It is but the phenomena of matter that we recognize with the senses, and hence, say the sages, the thing denominated “matter” by us is an illusion. Even the protoplasm of the schools is not the original matter; it is simply another of the phenomena. This first original matter is called by Paracelsus and others primordial matter, the nearest approach to which in the Eastern school is found in the Sanskrit word mulaprakriti. This is the root of matter, invisible, not to be weighed, or measured, or tested with any instrument of human invention. And yet it is the only real matter underlying all the phenomena to which we erroneously give its name. But even it is not dead, but full of the lives first referred to.
Now, bearing this in mind, we consider the vast solar system, yet vast only when not compared with the still greater aggregation of stars and planets around it. The great sidereal year covered by the sun in going through the twelve signs of the zodiac includes over 25,000 mortal years of 365 days each. While this immense circuit is being traversed, the sun drags the whole solar system with him around his own tremendous orbit, and we may imagine — for there are no observations on the point — that, while the 25,000 years of travel around the zodiac have been passing, the solar system as a whole has advanced along the sun’s own orbit only a little distance. But after millions of years shall have been consumed in these progresses, the sun must bring his train of planets to stellar space where they have never been before; here other conditions and combinations of matter may very well obtain — conditions and states of which our scientists have never heard, of which there never has been recorded one single phenomenon; and the difference between planetary conditions then and now will be so great that no resemblance shall be observed.
This is a branch of cyclic law with which the Eastern sages are perfectly familiar. They have inquired into it, recorded their observations, and preserved them. Having watched the uncountable lives during cycles upon cycles past, and seen their behavior under different conditions in other stellar spaces long ago left behind, they have some basis upon which to draw conclusions as to what will be the state of things in ages yet to come.
This brings us to an interesting theory offered by Theosophy respecting life itself as exhibited by man, his death and sleep. It relates also to what is generally called “fatigue.” The most usual explanation for the phenomenon of sleep is that the body becomes tired and more or less depleted of its vitality and then seeks repose. This, says Theosophy, is just the opposite of the truth, for, instead of having suffered a loss of vitality, the body, at the conclusion of the day, has more life in it than when it waked. During the waking state the life-waves rush into the body with greater intensity every hour, and, we being unable to resist them any longer than the period usually observed, they overpower us and we fall asleep. While sleeping, the life waves adjust themselves to the molecules of the body; and when the equilibrium is complete we again wake to continue the contest with life. If this periodical adjustment did not occur, the life current would destroy us. Any derangement of the body that tends to inhibit this adjustment is a cause of sleeplessness, and perhaps death. Finally, death of the body is due to the inequality of the contest with the life force; it at last overcomes us, and we are compelled to sink into the grave. Disease, the common property of the human race, only reduces the power of the body to adjust and resist. Children, say the Adepts, sleep more than adults, and need earlier repose, because the bodily machine, being young and tender, is easily overcome by life and made to sleep.
Of course, in so short an article, I cannot elaborate this theory; but, although not probably acceptable now to Science, it will be one day accepted as true. As it is beginning to be thought that electricity is all-pervading, so, perhaps, ere long it will be agreed that life is universal even in what we are used to calling dead matter.
As, however, it is plain to any observant mind that there seems to be more or less intelligence in the operations of this life energy, we naturally approach another interesting Theosophical doctrine as to the beings and hierarchies directing this energy.
While studying these ancient ideas, we may as well prepare ourselves to have them clash with many long-accepted views. But since Science has very little save conjecture to offer when it attempts to solve the great problems of genesis and cosmogenesis, and, in the act of denying old dogmas, almost always starts with a hypothesis, the Theosophist may feel safe. In important matters, such as the heat of the sun or the history of the moon there is no agreement between scientists or astronomers. Newton, Pouillet, Zollner, Secchi, Fizeau, Waterston, Rosetti, and others all differ about the sun, the divergence between their estimates of its heat being as high as 8,998,600 degrees.
If we find the Adepts stating that the moon is not a mass thrown off from the earth in cooling, but, on the contrary, is the progenitor of this globe, we need not fear the jeers of a Science that is as uncertain and unsafe in many things as it is positive.
Had I to deal only with those learned men of the schools who abide by the last utterance from the mouths of the leaders of Science, I should never attempt the task of speaking of the beings and hierarchies who guide the lives of which I wrote in my last. My pen would drop from a hand paralyzed by negations. But the spiritual beliefs of the common people will still be in vogue when the learned materialist has passed away. The great Immanuel Kant said; “I confess I am much disposed to assert the existence of immaterial natures in the world, and to place my own soul in the class of these beings. It will hereafter, I know not where nor when, yet be proved that the human soul stands, even in this life, in indissoluble connection with all immaterial natures in the Spirit world, that it reciprocally acts upon these, and receives impressions from them.” And the greater number of men think so also.
That there are hierarchies ruling in the universe is not a new idea. It can be easily found today in the Christian Church. The early fathers taught it, St. Paul spoke of it, and the Roman Catholic Church has it clearly now in the Book of Ritual of the Spirits of the Stars. The four archangels who guard the four cardinal points represent the groups of rulers in the ancient system, or the heads of each group. In that system the rulers are named Dhyan Chohans. Although the Theosophical philosophy does not postulate a personal God, whether extra- or intra-cosmic, it cannot admit that Nature is left unaided in her work, but asserts that the Dhyan Chohans aid her, and are constantly occupied in directing the all-pervading life in its evolutionary movement. Mme. Blavatsky, speaking on this subject in her Secret Doctrine, quotes from the old Book of Dzyan thus:
“An army of the Sons of Light stands at each angle, the Lipika in the middle wheel.”
The four angles are the four quarters, and the “middle wheel” is the center of space; and that center is everywhere, because as space is illimitable, the center of it must be wherever the cognizing consciousness is. And the same author, using the Disciple’s Catechism, writes:
“What is it that ever is? Space, the Anupadaka. What is it that ever was? The germ in the Root. What is it that is ever coming and going? The Great Breath. Then there are three eternals? No, the three are one. That which ever is is one; that which ever was is one; that which is ever being and becoming is also one; and this is space.”
In this parentless and eternal space is the wheel in the center where the Lipika are, of whom I cannot speak; at the four angles are the Dhyan Chohans, and doing their will among men on this earth are the Adepts — the Mahatmas. The harmony of the spheres is the voice of the Law, and that voice is obeyed alike by the Dhyan Chohan and the Mahatma — on their part with willingness, because they are the law; on the part of men and creatures because they are bound by the adamantine chains of the law which they do not understand.
When I said that nothing could be spoken about the Lipika, I meant that, because of their mysterious nature and incomprehensible powers, it is not possible to know enough to say anything with either sense or certainty. But of the Dhyan Chohans and the Adepts we may know something, and are often given, as it were, tangible proof of their existence. For the Adepts are living men, using bodies similar to ours; they are scattered all over the earth in all nations; they know each other, but not according to mere forms and Masonic signs of recognition, unless we call natural, physical, and astral signs Masonic. They have times when they meet together and are presided over by some among their number who are more advanced in knowledge and power than the rest; and these higher Adepts again have their communications, at which that One who presides is the highest; from these latter begins the communication with the Dhyan Chohans. All in their several degrees do that work which pertains to their degree, and although only to the Highest can be ascribed any governance or guidance of nature and mankind, yet the very least occupies an important place in the whole scheme. Freemasons and the numerous mock-Rosicrucians of the day will probably not unanimously accept this view, inasmuch as these Adepts have not submitted to their ritual; but that there has always been a widespread — and, if you please, a sometimes sneaking — belief in such beings and orders, is not difficult to discern or prove.
An old argument for the existence of an extra-cosmic — a personal — God, is this very intelligence that appears to pervade nature, from which the conclusion is drawn that there is a being who is the intelligent director. But Theosophy does not admit any such God, for he is neither necessary nor possible. There are too many evidences of implacability in the operations of nature for us to be able for very long to cherish the notion of a personal God. We see that storms will rage and overwhelm good and bad together; that earthquakes have no respect for age, sex, or rank, and that wherever a natural law has to act it will do so regardless of human pain or despair.
The Wisdom Religion in postulating hierarchies such as those I have previously referred to, does not thereby outline a personal God. The difference between the personal God — say Jehovah for one — and the Lipika with the hosts of the Dhyan Chohans, is very great. Law and order, good sense, decency and progress are all subservient to Jehovah, sometimes disappearing altogether under his beneficent sway; while in the Wisdom Religion the Dhyan Chohans can only follow the immutable laws eternally traced in the Universal Mind, and this they do intelligently, because they are in fact men become gods. As these eternal laws are far-reaching, and as Nature herself is blind, the hierarchies — the hosts at the angles — have to guide the evolutionary progress of matter.
In order to grasp the doctrine better, let us take one period of manifestation such as that we are now in. This began millions of millions of years ago, succeeding a vast period of darkness or hibernation. It is called Chaos in the Christian scheme. And preceding that period of sleep there were eternally other periods of activity or manifestation. Now, in those prior periods of energy and action the same evolutionary progress went on, from and out of which came great beings — men perfected and become what to us are gods, who had aided in countless evolutions in the eternal past. These became Dhyan Chohans and took part in all succeeding evolutions. Such is the great goal for a human soul to strive after. Before it the paltry and impossible rewards of the Christian heaven turn to dross.
The mistake must not be made of confining these great evolutionary periods and the beings spoken of, to our miserable earth. We are only in the chain. There are other systems, other spaces where energy, knowledge and power are exercised. In the mysterious Milky Way there are spots vast in size and incomprehensibly distant, where there is room for many such systems as ours; and even while we now watch the assemblage of stars, there is some spot among them where the vast night of death is spreading remorselessly over a once fair system.
Now these beings, under the sway of the law as they are, seem perhaps to be sometimes implacable. Occasions are met where to mortal judgment it would seem to be wise or just to save a city from destruction, or a nation from decay, or a race from total extinction. But if such a fate is the natural result of actions performed or a necessary step in the cyclic sweep, it cannot be averted. As one of the Masters of this noble science has written:
“We never pretended to be able to draw nations in the mass to this or that crisis in spite of the general drift of the world’s cosmic relations. The cycles must run their rounds. Periods of mental and moral light and darkness succeed each other as day does night. The major and minor yugas must be accomplished according to the established order of things. And we, borne along on the mighty tide, can only modify and direct some of its minor currents. If we had the powers of the imaginary personal God, and the immutable laws were but toys to play with, then, indeed, might we have created conditions that would have turned this earth into an Arcadia for lofty souls.”
And so in individual cases — even among those who are in direct relations with some Adept — the law cannot be infringed. Karma demands that such and such a thing should happen to the individual, and the greatest God or the smallest Adept cannot lift a finger to prevent it. A nation may have heaped up against its account as a nation a vast amount of bad Karma. Its fate is sure, and although it may have noble units in it, great souls even who are Adepts themselves, nothing can save it, and it will “go out like a torch dipped in water.”
Such was the end of ancient Egypt, of whose former glory no man of this day knows aught. Although to us she appears in the historical sky as a full-risen sun, she yet had her period of growth, when mighty Adepts sat upon the throne and guided the people. She gradually reached a high point of power and then her people grew material; the Adepts retired; pretended Adepts took their place, and gradually her glory waned until at last the light of Egypt became darkness. The same story was repeated in Chaldea and Assyria and also upon the surface of our own America. Here a great, a glorious civilization once flourished, only to disappear as the others did; and that a grand development of civilization is beginning here again is one of the operations of the just and perfect law of Karma to the eye of the Theosophist, but one of the mysterious workings of an irresponsible providence to those who believe in a personal God who giveth the land of other men to the good Christian. The development of the American nation has a mysterious but potent connection with the wonderful past of the Atlanteans, and is one of those great stories outlined in the book of fate by the Lipika to whom I referred last week.
Among the Adepts, the rise and fall of nations and civilizations are subjects which are studied under the great cyclic movements. They hold that there is an indissoluble connection between man and every event that takes place on this globe, not only the ordinary changes in politics and social life, but all the happenings in the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. The changes in the seasons are for and through man; the great upheavals of continents, the movements of immense glaciers, the terrific eruptions of volcanoes, or the sudden overflowings of great rivers, are all for and through man, whether he be conscious of it, or present, or absent. And they tell of great changes in the inclination of the axis of the earth, past and to come, all due to man.
This doctrine is incomprehensible to the Western nineteenth century, for it is hidden from observation, opposed to tradition, and contradicted by education. But the Theosophist who has passed beyond the elementary stages knows that it is true nevertheless. “What,” says the worshipper of Science, “has man got to do with the Charleston earthquake, or with the showers of cosmic dust that invade our atmosphere? Nothing.”
But the Adept, standing on the immeasurable height where centuries lie under his glance, sees the great cycles and the lesser ones rolling onward, influenced by man and working out their changes for his punishment, reward, experience and development.
It is not necessary now to try to make it clear how the thoughts and deeds of men effect any changes in material things; that I will lay down for the present as a dogma, if you please, to be made clear later on.
The great subject of cycles has been touched upon, and brings us close to a most fascinating statement made by the Theosophical Adepts. It is this, that the cycles in their movement are bringing up to the surface now, in the United States and America generally, not only a great glory of civilization which was forgotten eleven thousand or more years ago, but also the very men, the monads — the egos, as they call them — who were concerned so many ages since in developing and bringing it to its final lustre. In fact, we of the nineteenth century, hearing of new discoveries and inventions every day, and dreaming of great advances in all arts and sciences, are the same individuals who inhabited bodies among the powerful and brilliant, as well as wicked, Atlanteans, whose name is forever set immortal in the Atlantic Ocean. The Europeans are also Atlantean monads; but the flower, so to speak, of this revival or resurrection, is and is to be on the American continent. I will not say the United States, for mayhap, when the sun of our power has risen again, there may be no United States for it to rise upon.
Of course, in order to be able to accept in any degree this theory, it is essential that one should believe in the twin Theosophical doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation. To me it seems quite plain. I can almost see the Atlanteans in these citizens of America, sleepy, and not well aware who they are, but yet full of the Atlantean ideas, which are only prevented from full and clear expression by the inherited bodily and mental environment which cramps and binds the mighty man within. This again is Nemesis-Karma that punishes us by means of these galling limitations, penning up our power and for the time frustrating our ambition. It is because, when we were in Atlantean bodies, we did wickedly, not the mere sordid wicked things of this day, but high deeds of evil such as by St. Paul were attributed to unknown spiritual beings in high places. We degraded spiritual things and turned mighty powers over nature to base uses; we did in excelsis that which is hinted at now in the glorification of wealth, of material goods, of the individual over the spiritual and above the great Man — Humanity. This has now its compensation in our present inability to attain what we want or to remove from among us the grinding-stones of poverty. We are, as yet, only preparers, much as we may exalt our plainly crude American development.
Herein lies the very gist of the cycle’s meaning. It is a preparatory cycle with much of necessary destruction in it; for, before construction, we must have some disintegration. We are preparing here in America a new race which will exhibit the perfection of the glories that I said were being slowly brought to the surface from the long forgotten past. This is why the Americas are seen to be in a perpetual ferment. It is the seething and bubbling of the older races in the refining-pot, and the slow coming up of the material for the new race. Here, and nowhere else, are to be found men and women of every race living together, being governed together, attacking nature and the problems of life together, and bringing forth children who combine, each one, two races. This process will go on until in the course of many generations there will be produced on the American continents an entirely new race; new bodies; new orders of intellect; new powers of the mind; curious and unheard-of psychic powers, as well as extraordinary physical ones; with new senses and extensions of present senses now unforeseen. When this new sort of body and mind are generated — then other monads, or our own again, will animate them and paint upon the screen of time the pictures of 100,000 years ago.