THEOSOPHY, Vol. 78, No. 1, November, 1989
(Pages 8-11; Size: 9K)

H.P.B. AND SCIENCE
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.

--The Secret Doctrine (Vol. I, p. 75)
IT appears that the term Correlation of Forces used by the science of H.P.B.'s day is no longer known except to historians of science. Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia (1958), "defines and explains about 15,000 terms of fundamental interest." There is only one entry under Correlation describing physical phenomena -- Correlation Energy. It refers to the tendency of two electrons to stay apart because they have the same charge. If one electron is here, the other electron will tend to be over there. Their positions are not independent of each other. Hence they are correlated. Ironically, this is a correlation of separateness rather than any reference to combining as used in the idea of "correlation of forces." The entry under Force is no better.

Happily, H.P.B. gives us a definition in Isis Unveiled:

Science tells that when the theory of the indestructibility of matter (also a very, very old idea of Demokritus, by the way) was demonstrated, it became necessary to extend it to force. No material particle can ever be lost; no part of the force existing in nature can vanish; hence, force was likewise proved indestructible, and its various manifestations or forces, under divers aspects, were shown to be mutually convertible, and but different modes of motion of the material particles. And thus was rediscovered the force-correlation. (I, p, 242.)
"The indestructibility of matter and force being discovered and proved," she says, "the great problem of eternity is solved". (p. 243.)

Perhaps many people today will recognize in the above quotation what is now called Conservation of Energy. There may be many students of Theosophy that would have had a better understanding if they had known this was the concept referred to when the term correlation of forces was used.

It may be that the scientists started with observations that were merely correlations. From there they may have progressed to firmer convictions of convertibility, and then finally proclaimed the bolder, clearer, broader statement of conservation of energy.

If we were to seek for an analogy on the moral plane we might take the word "convertibility" and seek perhaps for statements on transmutation. A lower desire may be transmuted into a higher desire, for example. The force behind the desire might remain constant, but its manifestation would be different and the consequence different. More broadly, the physicist's notion of conservation might lead us to notions of the One.

H.P.B.'s comments on the Correlations of Forces are still relevant today. She says:

Mr. Grove, so far back as 1842, gave to each of these forces, such as heat, electricity, magnetism, and light, the character of convertibility; making them capable of being at one moment a cause, and at the next an effect. But whence come these forces, and whither do they go, when we lose sight of them? On this point science is silent. (Isis, I, 242.)
As far as we know it is still silent today. And yet, as she points out, as far back as the eighth century, "John Erigena outlined it in his bold philosophy . . . and we invite any one to read his De Divisone Naturae, who would convince himself of this truth."

Today, since the relationship between energy and matter was shown by Einstein (E = mc squared), it is more correct in extreme circumstances to speak only of the conservation of the total of energy and matter. H.P.B. gives two more illustrations of the knowledge of the ancients on this point. They illustrate today's broader statement of conservation of energy plus matter, as well as proving her point of prior knowledge:

Its origin, apart from the undeniable traces of it to be found among the old philosophers, is lost in the dense shadows of prehistoric days. Its first vestiges are discovered in the dreamy speculations of Vedic theology, in the doctrine of emanation and absorption, the nirvana in short.
She continues:
The ancient Hindus founded their doctrine of emanation and absorption on precisely that law. The Tó 'Ov, the primordial point in the boundless circle, "whose circumference is nowhere, and the centre everywhere," emanating from itself all things, and manifesting them in the visible universe under multifarious forms; the forms interchanging, commingling, and, after a gradual transformation from the pure spirit (or the Buddhistic "nothing"), into the grossest matter, beginning to recede and as gradually re-emerge into their primitive state, which is the absorption into Nirvana -- what else is this but correlation of forces? (I, 242.)
H.P.B. proves her point. More than that. Given her cosmology, she proves the modern statement of conservation of the sum of both energy and matter together better than she proves the science of her day with the conservation of energy and the separate conservation of matter. Her proof is more clear and relevant today than when she wrote Isis Unveiled.

In The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B. goes still further. In a description of the First Fundamental on page 16, Volume I, she shows that prakriti, the first distinction that will become matter, arises at the Second Logos. Fohat, the distinction that will become energy, arises at the Third Logos. "Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation," the "'that' which links spirit to matter, subject to object," the "animating principle electrifying every atom into life."

H.P.B. gives the origin and destination as the First Logos and back to the Absolute. The grandest conservation laws of modern physics fall short of her still grander explanation.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


THE MEANS OF RECOGNITION

There is a philosophical necessity for the idea of the "absolute," since the idea of "relative" obtains its meaning by contrast with the absolute. Of the latter we might say that while we cannot "think" of it, neither can we think of anything else without it. By means of the idea of the absolute we recognize the kind of knowledge we do possess. So, if reason is to be our guide, we must return to the field of finite experience, which is a vast scheme of levels or grades of structure, ranging from subatomic particles to galaxies. Our scientific knowledge, of which we are now said to have "too much," is largely the result of dividing up the field and giving concentrated attention to the workings of very limited areas. Inevitably scientists have felt the isolation of this increasing specialization, and in recent years there has been a noticeable tendency among philosophically-minded investigators to think in more holistic terms -- to see, for example, what can be said about the entirety of the field of experience.


--Manas


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