THEOSOPHY, Vol. 47, No. 9, July, 1959
(Pages 411-416; Size: 17K)

THE SUN IN THEOSOPHY(1)

THE theory of science that the sun is merely a cooling mass, is not what the Theosophical Adepts teach. Science says that the sun "derives no important accession from without"; Theosophy answers, "the sun needs it not." He is quite as self-dependent as he is self-luminous, and for the maintenance of his heat requires no foreign accession of vital energy. For he is the heart of his system, a heart that will not cease its throbbing until its hour of rest shall come. Were the sun a "cooling mass," our great life-giver would have grown indeed dim with age by this time, and found some trouble to keep his watch-fires burning for the future races to accomplish their cycles, and the planetary chains to achieve their rounds. There would remain little hope for evoluting humanity.

The Adepts who are forced to demolish before they can reconstruct, deny most emphatically that the sun is in combustion, in any ordinary sense of the word, or that he is incandescent or even burning, though he is glowing; or, again, that his luminosity has already begun to weaken and his power of combustion may be exhausted within a given conceivable time. They further deny that the chemical and physical constitution of the sun contains any of the elements of terrestrial chemistry in any of the states that either chemist or physicist is acquainted with. With reference to the latter, they add that, properly speaking, though the body of the sun -- a body that was never yet reflected by telescope or spectroscope that man invented -- cannot be said to be constituted of those terrestrial elements with the state of which the chemist is familiar, yet that these elements are all present in the sun's outward robes, and a host more of elements unknown so far to science.

There seems little need, indeed, to have waited so long for the lines belonging to these respective elements to correspond with dark lines of the solar spectrum, to know that no element present on our earth could even be possibly found wanting in the sun; although, on the other hand, there are many others in the sun which have either not reached or not as yet been discovered on our globe. Some may be missing in certain stars and heavenly bodies still in the process of formation; or, properly speaking, though present in them, these elements on account of their undeveloped state may not respond as yet to the usual scientific tests. But how can the earth possess that which the sun has never had? Theosophy affirms as a fact that the true Sun -- an invisible orb of which the known one is the shell, mask, or clothing -- has in him the spirit of every element that exists in the solar system. His chromosphere, as it has been named, has the same [elements], only in a far more developed condition, though still in a state unknown on earth, our planet having to await its further growth and development before any of its elements can be reduced to the condition they are in within that chromosphere.

Nor can the substance producing the colored light in the latter be properly called solid, liquid, or even gaseous, as now supposed, for it is neither. Thousands of years before Leverrier and Padre Secchi, the old Aryans sang of Surya ... "hiding behind his Yogi robes his head that no one could see"; the ascetic dress being, as all know, dyed expressly into a red-yellow hue, a coloring matter with pinkish patches on it, rudely representing the vital principle in man's blood -- the symbol of the vital principle in the sun, or what is now called chromosphere. The "rose-coloured region"! How little astronomers will ever know of its real nature, even though hundreds of eclipses furnish them with the indisputable evidence of its presence. The sun is so thickly surrounded by a shell of this "red matter" that it is useless for them to speculate with only the help of their physical instruments, upon the nature of that which they can never see or detect with mortal eye behind that brilliant, radiant zone of matter.

If the Adepts are asked: "What then, in your views, is the nature of our sun and what is there beyond that cosmic veil?" they answer that beyond rotates and beats the heart and head of our system. Externally is spread its robe, the nature of which is not matter, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, such as you are acquainted with, but vital electricity, condensed and made visible. And if the statement is objected to on the grounds that were the luminosity of the sun due to any other cause than combustion and flame, no physical law of which Western science has any knowledge could account for the existence of such intensely high temperature of the sun without combustion; that such a temperature, besides burning with its light and flame every visible thing in our universe, would show its luminosity of a homogeneous and uniform intensity throughout, which it does not; that undulations and disturbances in the photosphere, the glowing of the "protuberances," and a fierce raging of elements in combustion have been observed in the sun, with their tongues of fire and spots exhibiting every appearance of cyclonic motion, and "solar storms," etc. -- to this the only answer that can be given is the following: the appearances are all there, yet it is not combustion.

Undoubtedly were the "robes," the dazzling drapery which now envelopes the whole of the sun's globe, withdrawn, or even "the shining atmosphere" which permits us to see the sun (as Sir William Herschel thought) removed so as to allow one trifling rent, our whole universe would be reduced to ashes. Jupiter Fulminator revealing himself to his beloved would incinerate her instantly. But it can never be. The protecting shell is of a thickness and at a distance from the universal Heart that can hardly be ever calculated by your mathematicians. And how can they hope to see the sun's inner body once that the existence of that "chromosphere" is ascertained, though its actual density may be still unknown, when one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of their authorities, Sir W. Herschel, says the following: "The sun, also, has its atmosphere, and if some of the fluids which enter into its composition should be of a shining brilliancy, while others are merely transparent, any temporary cause which may remove the lucid fluid will permit us to see the body of the sun through the transparent ones." The underlined words, written nearly eighty years ago, embody the wrong hypothesis that the body of the sun might be seen under such circumstances, whereas it is only the far-away layers of the "lucid fluid" that would be perceived.

And what the great astronomer adds invalidates entirely the first portion of his assumption: "If an observer were placed on the moon, he would see the solid body of our earth only in those places where the transparent fluids of the atmosphere would permit him. In others, the opaque vapours would reflect the light of the sun without permitting his view to penetrate to the surface of our own globe." Thus, if the atmosphere of our earth, which in its relation to the "atmosphere" (?) of the sun is like the tenderest skin of a fruit compared with the thickest husk of a cocoanut, would prevent the eye of an observer standing on the moon from penetrating everywhere "to the surface of our globe," how can an astronomer ever expect his sight to penetrate to the sun's surface, from our earth and at a distance of from 85 to 95 million miles, whereas, the moon, we are told, is only about 238,000 miles! The proportionately larger size of the sun does not bring it any more within the scope of our physical vision. Truly remarks Sir W. Herschel that the sun "has been called a globe of fire, perhaps metaphorically!" It has been supposed that the dark spots were solid bodies revolving near the sun's surface. "They have been conjectured to be the smoke of volcanoes ... the scum floating upon an ocean of fluid matter. ... They have been taken for clouds ... explained to be opaque masses swimming in the fluid matter of the sun...."

When all his anthropomorphic conceptions are put aside, Sir John Herschel, whose intuition was still greater than his learning, alone of all the astronomers comes near the truth -- far nearer than any of those modern astronomers who, while admiring his gigantic learning, smile at his "imaginative and fanciful theories." His only mistake, now shared by most astronomers, was that he regarded the "opaque body" occasionally observed through the curtain of the "luminous envelope" as the sun itself. When saying in the course of his speculations upon the Nasmyth willow-leaf theory that "the definite shape of these objects, their exact similarity one to another ... all these characters seem quite repugnant to the notion of their being of a vaporous, a cloudy, or a fluid nature," his spiritual intuition served him better than his remarkable knowledge of physical science. When he adds, "nothing remains but to consider them as separate and independent sheets, flakes ... having some sort of solidity. ... Be they what they may, they are evidently the immediate sources of the solar light and heat," -- he utters a grander physical truth than was ever uttered by any living astronomer. And when, furthermore, we find him postulating, "looked at in this point of view, we cannot refuse to regard them as organisms of some peculiar and amazing kind; and though it would be too daring to speak of such organization as partaking of the nature of life, yet we do know that vital action is competent to develop at once heat, and light and electricity," Sir John Herschel gives out a theory approximating an occult truth more than any of the profane ever did with regard to solar physics.

These "wonderful objects" are not, as a modern astronomer interprets Sir. J. Herschel's words, "solar inhabitants, whose fiery constitution enables them to illuminate, warm, and electrize the whole solar system," but simply the reservoirs of solar vital energy, the vital electricity that feeds the whole system in which it lives, and breathes, and has its being. The sun is, as we say, the storehouse of our little cosmos, self-generating its vital fluid, and ever receiving as much as it gives out. Were the astronomers to be asked, what definite and positive fact exists at the root of their solar theory, what knowledge they have of solar combustion and atmosphere, they might, perchance, feel embarrassed when confronted with all their present theories. For it is sufficient to make a résumé of what the solar physicists do not know, to gain a conviction that they are as far as ever from a definite knowledge of the constitution and ultimate nature of the heavenly bodies.

Beginning with, as Mr. Proctor calls it, "the wildest assumption possible" that there is, in accordance with the law of analogy, some general resemblance between the materials in and the processes at work upon, the sun, and those materials with which terrestrial chemistry and physics are familiar -- what is the sum of results achieved by spectroscopic and other analyses of the surface and the inner constitution of the sun, which warrants any one in establishing the axiom of the sun's combustion and gradual extinction? They have no means, as they themselves daily confess, of experimenting upon, hence of determining, the sun's physical condition. For (a) they are ignorant of the atmospheric limits; (b) even though it were proved that matter, such as they know of, is continuously falling upon the sun, being ignorant of its real velocity and the nature of the material it falls upon, they are unable "to discuss the effect of motions ... enormously exceeding even the inconceivable velocity of many meteors; (c) confessedly, they "have no means of learning whence that part of the light comes which gives the continuous spectrum," hence no means of determining how great a depth of the solar substance is concerned in sending out that light. And finally (d) they have yet to learn "how far combustion, properly so-called, can take place within the sun's mass," and "whether these processes, which we (they) recognize as combustion, are the only processes of combustion which can actually take place there."

Therefore, Mr. Proctor, for one, comes to the happy and prudent idea after all "that what had been supposed the most marked characteristic of incandescent solid and liquid bodies, is thus shown to be a possible characteristic of the light of the glowing gas." Thus the whole basis of their reasoning having been shaken (by Frankland's objection), they, the astronomers, may yet arrive at accepting the occult theory. What is that? That they have to look to the sixth state of matter, for divulging to them the true nature of their photospheres, chromospheres, appendages, prominences, projections and horns.

The great physicist, Proctor, is right in viewing the sun itself as "a speck in infinite extension -- a mere drop in the universal sea" and saying that, "to Nature nothing can be added, from Nature nothing can be taken away; the sum of her energy is constant, and the utmost man can do in the pursuit of physical truth or in the application of physical knowledge is to shift the constituents of the never-varying total. The law of conservation rigidly excludes both creation and annihilation. ... the flux of power is eternally the same." Mr. Tyndall speaks here as though he were an Occultist. Yet, the memento mori -- "the sun is cooling. ... it is dying!" -- of the Western Trappists of Science resounds as loud as it ever did.

No, we say; no, while there is one man left on the globe, the sun will not be extinguished. Before the hour of the Solar Pralaya strikes on the watch-tower of Eternity, all the other worlds of our system will be gliding in their spectral shells along the silent paths of Infinite Space. Before it strikes, Atlas, the mighty Titan, will have dropped his heavy manvantaric burden and died. The Pleiades, the bright seven Sisters, will have, upon awakening hiding Sterope to grieve with them, to die themselves for their father's loss. And Hercules, moving off his left leg, will have to shift his place in the heavens and erect his own funeral pile. Then only, surrounded by the fiery element breaking through the thickening gloom of the Pralayan twilight, will Hercules, expiring amidst a general conflagration, bring on likewise the death of our sun.

Fables? Mere poetical fiction? Yet, when one knows that the most exact sciences, the greatest mathematical and astronomical truths went forth into the world among the hoi polloi from the circle of initiated priests, the Hierophants of the sanctum sanctorum of the old temples, under the guise of religious fables, it may not be amiss to search for universal truths even under the patches of fiction's harlequinade. This fable about the Pleiades, the seven Sisters, Atlas, and Hercules exists identical in subject, though under other names, in the sacred Hindu books, and has likewise the same occult meaning.


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(1) NOTE.--Collated from the writings of H. P. Blavatsky.
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