THEOSOPHY, Vol. 23, No. 11, September, 1935
(Pages 504-507; Size: 14K)
IN the study of Biology as commonly taught in the schools, we meet with the distinction made between "living things and lifeless things". If it is true that all is Life, what is lacking in the scientific conception of "Life" that leads to a teaching that some things are lifeless?
Science as it stands today is mainly empirical, that is, it deduces laws and gathers data by experimental evidence. It can hardly be said to get at the crux of the matters it studies, because it works with effects rather than their causes; it deals with forces rather than the producers of these forces. To restate, science recognizes and classifies things, not by what they are in themselves, but rather by what they do. This being the case, science as taught and studied today, is, and can be, only relative knowledge.
However, just as there is "relative knowledge", so must there also be "absolute knowledge"; for, as relative knowledge is based on the effects of "things", absolute knowledge would necessarily be those "things" themselves, without any interpretive perceptions of them. So we see that what is lacking in science are the fundamental, basic concepts of Life, as Theosophy postulates them in the Three Great Truths. Briefly sketched they are as follows:
1. There is One immutable, omnipresent, boundless Principle, from which everything in the Universe proceeds and upon which all thinking is impossible and useless. This is known in Theosophy as the Causeless Cause.
2. Law which is inherent in Life is the working basis in the Universe. The physical plane law of the equality of action and reaction holds true on the mental, moral, and psychical planes as well. The effects of causes set up on any of these planes return in due course of time (regardless of duration) to the point of disturbance, or more specifically to the person or thing that set the causes in motion. This is known as the Law of Periodicity or the Law of Cycles. Reincarnation is the return of the soul (the experiencer), the permanent part of man, to a new body, for the purpose of experiencing the effects of actions set up in previous incarnations.
3. Everything in the Universe is Life, ever experiencing and ever evolving. The classification of some of the various grades of being on the ladder of evolution is as follows in the order of ascendancy: mineral, vegetable, plant, and animal kingdoms. At the top of the ladder of evolution stands Man as a Self-conscious being. The purpose of evolution is the desire of Spirit to know itself in action. The goal of evolution is the perfect attainment of this, which is perfect self-consciousness on all planes.
If science recognized, as Madame Blavatsky teaches, that there is but One Primordial matter (invisible) from which all states and forms of matter evolve and differentiate, the misconception that there is anything "lifeless" in the Universe would be no more.
The difference that does exist between a living thing and a so-called "lifeless thing" is merely a difference in the degree of intelligence between the two -- the "living" thing expressing its intelligence in motion and other functions. Essentially both are the same Life, differing only in degree.
What basic idea must be realized to make clear the fact that stones are "alive"?
(a) Scientists have found that all the tiny particles that make up a stone are in constant motion about some central point. Theosophy teaches that each particle, each grain, is a point of life. Every point is a thinker, every particle has its own consciousness. Life -- the Self -- is the central point around which the tiny atoms, and everything else in the Universe, for that matter, revolve and evolve.
All forms of matter are the outward expression of an indwelling intelligence, or form of consciousness, which we call the Life in that form. The form always exactly expresses the degree of that intelligence. An instance of the inherent intelligence is the mineral kingdom with its beautiful geometric crystal formations. The change from form to form in the mineral kingdom leaves an indelible imprint on the consciousness within, and when that experience is gone through again, the memory reasserts itself in the new form, and so the continuity of life is carried forward without lapse in the unbroken series of its manifestations.
The whole of the manifested universe represents the unity of life. From one portion of life through the development of the intelligence, numerous forms are evolved, each corresponding to its own experience. Each form has been through countless experiences through long aeons of time in this period of evolution, and so the life has acquired a facility for action. This facility is not alone limited to any of the lower kingdoms but is equally universal in the higher forms of life, human and divine. This perpetual change from form to form brings about a perfection within the limits possible to that kingdom until the highest point having been reached, the life departs to enter into forms of the next higher kingdom in the scale of evolution. This represents transmigration of the life atoms, a fundamental teaching of Theosophy. Were it not for this continuity of life, and the power to assume forms in accordance with past experience, the theory of evolution would be a sham and a mockery; consequently life, as we experience it, would have no faculties for expression, and chaos would ensue. Hence, we could not recognize forms from day to day as they would change without due regard for law and order. The power to perceive the myriads of forms, each holding its proper place under the evolutionary scheme, provides the basis from which reasonable and logical deduction may be drawn by us and thus we note a continuity which is orderly and never chaotic. For example, common table salt will always result when sodium and chlorine are brought together in proper proportions. This illustrates the memory inherent in the intelligence of the life going from form to form.
Working on the basis that everything in the Universe is alive, and taking into consideration the theory of the transmigration of the life atoms and the complete theory of evolution provided by Theosophy in which no gap or break is possible, the intelligence in each life atom is understandable to the mind, and thus we can understand what is meant by the fact that stones are "alive".
(b) Life is indescribable. A stone either has or hasn't life. If it hasn't, it would not combine with various other minerals to crystallize, or to form a chemical reaction. If it had no life, it would not contain universes in its atoms as it does. Therefore minerals have life because they do not fit the conditions of "no life".
A stone is made up of the same material as we are. Only we know that we are alive. Our bodies do not really exist, because they are always changing. A stone's physical body does not exist because it is changing always, but what makes it change must be alive. Therefore a stone -- meaning its invisible (to us) life -- does exist, and is alive.
What is meant by "the transmigration of life-atoms"?
The indestructible force, or life-energy which animates, is in all. There being no dead matter, there could be no inorganic matter. In matter which is commonly called inorganic, this vitalizing life-energy is merely sleeping, or latent, but is there as potential energy. In matter generally called organic, the life-energy or force is active in the "Life-atoms"; this energy is dormant in inorganic matter, or "sleeping atoms".
This life energy which animates all forms, uses them, and passes on to other forms. Nothing is destroyed that has once existed; the life has merely passed into another form; the "life-atoms" have migrated to other forms.
We are always emanating "life-atoms". Whatever we touch is impressed by our feelings through the mingling of "life-atoms" -- not physical atoms, but the vitalizing life-energy. A sage can look upon a form and know its entire history; can know who gave it the "life-atoms", and see the past impressions that make up its present condition. We not only affect the objects around us, but other human beings. There is a constant interchanging of "life-atoms" going on all the time. At death when the Higher Triad(1) goes to Devachan(2), the "life-atoms" pass into other forms. Then at birth we attract that type of "life-atoms" which we need or have set up the cause for, by the law of magnetic attraction. The life-atoms that we have impressed give the three lower kingdoms their natures. The cruel animal is the result of the "life-atoms" impressed by the cruel thoughts of man which at the present time animate that animal's form. This has been misinterpreted by the Brahmins who teach that the souls of men can reincarnate in the three lower kingdoms. It is a grave twisting of the true teaching of the transmigration of "life-atoms" that has deluded many. Man is that creative energy who is emanating "life-atoms" of the nature he has given them.
What distinction would you make between the terms, Life, the One Life and the Life-Principle?
Life presents an absolute aspect and an individual aspect. In the absolute sense it is immortal -- the immortality of the One Life, unconditioned and immeasurable. While in its individual or manifesting aspect, which may be also called Life, it is the Divine Monad which makes the eternal pilgrimage out of the One Life -- the Light, the Source, the Cause of all things everywhere in space -- through countless incarnations and then back again to its Source, the One Life, where all the individual monads, rays of the Absolute, share all the experiences gained through the journey. The Monad is an indivisible part of the One Life as it dwells in various forms; while it is unchanging, it is ever changing its forms.
The Life Principle or Prana is that life-force which energizes all the infinitesimal lives which make up our bodies. "Life sustains all the forms requiring life."
H.P.B. says: "Prana or Life is strictly speaking the radiating force or Energy of Atma -- as the Universal Life and the One Self -- its lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting aspect. Prana or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a 'principle' only because it is an indispensable factor and the DEUS EX MACHINA of the living man." So, Prana is our individual use of the life-breath and energy.
TWO (2) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(1) "Higher Triad" is immortal and is made up of Atma-Buddhi-Manas (Spirit-Intuition-Mind). It is the Reincarnating Ego, and this is who we really are.
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(2) "Devachan" is the after-death dream state that we enter into between incarnations. This state of consciousness is always that of the personality we were in the life just finished, and where we experience only pleasant dreams that play out to fruition our highest aspirations for what we could have been in the life just finished, how we wanted the people we loved and knew to be, and harmonious world conditions as we would have had them be. It lasts as long as the energy we put into those types of thoughts in our lifetime. This is where the distorted religious idea of Heaven comes from. But it is a heaven of our own making, and is unique for each of us -- as unique and different as the thoughts, words, deeds, and experiences of each of us are. Once the energy wears down naturally, and we wake up, we are soon naturally drawn magnetically by our karma to our next rebirth, where we will outwardly be known as a new personality.
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