THEOSOPHY, Vol. 87, Issue 1
November-December, 1998
(Pages 7-11; Size: 10K)

CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES
ON THE OBJECTS

[1st article in this series]

TAKEN TOGETHER the three objects of the Theosophical Movement blend into a prescription for the health of humanity. The work of the modern ecological movement serves as a foretaste of this medicine.

WEBS OF LIFE

A Universal Pattern

Some of the source material for this series by a student comes from two books written in the 1990s: The Web of Life by Fritjof Capra, author of The Tao of Physics, and John Hitchcock's The Web of the Universe. Both authors are respected physicists. Capra's book is subtitled "A New Scientific Understanding of Living Systems." The one by Hitchcock has a psychological subtitle: "Jung, The 'New Physics,' and Human Spirituality." Since it would be difficult to do justice to such books with brief reviews, we are expanding a one-time discussion of recent scientific thoughts in the light of Theosophy to a short series of articles. [Editors.]

H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine gives the metaphysical meaning of certain universal geometric elements such as the disk, circle, sphere, spiral, dot, line, triangle, square, hexagon, and other forms found on the earth in Nature and throughout the Cosmos in astronomical observations. This series will focus primarily on the web, a key pattern among higher organisms. The web is a combination of lines and circles with an organic purpose. It is more complex than the tree form, another common pattern of higher life forms. The latter is seen throughout the vegetable kingdom and in animals in the branching of nerves, blood vessels, and other physiological systems. The One becomes the Many as organic complexity evolves.

To the untrained eye biological forms are not as perfect in shape as the quiescent crystals of the mineral kingdom -- or abstract geometric shapes in mathematics -- because they reflect dynamic movement and growth. An observer must visualize modified rather than simple shapes of organic (higher) forms in action. On a mental level, it is like finding the "undisclosed Veda" in the written word, or in plain English the continuous discovery of inner meanings and implications behind their outer vesture. Literary classics commonly contain hidden gems that intelligent readers will find. The reader identifies with the writer's intent and mind-set.

Consider the moving wheel whose circular exterior is connected by spokes to a central hub. The phrases "wheel of life" and "web of life" indicate that the wheel and web have something in common. A key element of both structures is a set of lines (strings) radiating from a central point. On a solar scale, the sun is like the hub of a wheel around which the planets revolve connected by "invisible" centrifugal and centripetal forces acting as spokes. At a higher level, the life-giving rays (energy waves) of the solar orb are the spokes. On a larger scale, our galaxy, of which the sun is a minor part, has a mysterious central point around which billions of solar (star) systems revolve. To the intuitive, the hub is a symbol of a spiritual influence that drives the whole system of wheels within wheels, or webs within webs, which Ezekiel saw "way up in the middle of the air [space]." Remember Arjuna's difficulty in comprehending Krishna's universal forms in chapters 10 and 11 of the Bhagavad Gita.

Going back to the microcosm of web-spinning spiders (some of the more than 30,000 varieties do not make webs), most species first create radial spokes of spider silk upon which to anchor the circling strings of the floating web. Like some people, certain spiders weave "tangled" webs. If the web is badly damaged, the spider patiently starts a new one. A human intelligence might take a different approach. The arachnid's instinct, lacking the reasoning ability of manasic beings, finds it simpler to build the web as a whole than to make complex repairs.

In biological Nature, the circular form is often modified to an elliptical or oval shape or even the crudely round shape of the spider's web. This may not be styled attractively to a human being but it serves its intended purpose. The web differs from the wheel by having a highly flexible structure that would seldom suit the needs of a rigid wheel. The wheel must turn at various speeds to be useful which would not suit the quiescence of the near-invisible web. The web moves by swaying in the wind or sagging in the rain from the weight of water droplets on its strands. But natural forces do not usually destroy it. In spite of obvious differences, the similarity of the web and wheel patterns is unmistakable.

On a cosmic scale, some physicists have developed a "string" theory of the universe. (This will be the subject of a later article.) A special kind of magical string is the "wormhole" of science fiction. This is a tube connecting two parts of the Cosmos separated by vast physical distances measured in light years but which can be traversed in a short time. A wormhole in space that bypasses the limitations of physical/astral travel would serve the needs of higher Cosmic forces. For instance, the Mind moves rapidly from one thought to another without seeming to be constrained by the speed of light which to earth-bound mortals seems incredibly fast. To metaphysicians, higher powers and forces clearly transcend the limitations of the material world.

The web form is made of barely visible but strong string-like elements. Electromagnetic fields are composed of strings invisible to the human eye but detectable with iron filings or scientific instruments. Sand on a vibrating metallic plate discloses the complex sound vibration patterns of that plate which appear as strings of wavy lines. Other media uncover string patterns found everywhere as matter vibrates to the rhythm of the Universe. The "music of the spheres" is mirrored in the smallest cosmic elements, much like the holographic images mirrored in all elements of a structure. Sound and sight vibrations usually go together in the living Cosmos.

The many beautiful forms of "fractal" patterns, uncovered in this century by Mandelbrot, reflect similar patterns in complex mathematical equations. No wonder Adept teachers such as Plato and Pythagoras put great emphasis on mathematics, "queen of the sciences," and on proportions expressed in numerical terms. For example, the ratio of 2 to 3 is important in developing the seven-toned musical scale as we know it, another topic that will be expanded in another part of this series.

H. P. Blavatsky throws out hints on the inner meaning of numbers and their combinations throughout the Secret Doctrine. She and William Q. Judge encourage students to continue making universal applications of theosophical teachings. As comprehensive as it seems to the average student in HPB's masterwork, the real Secret Doctrine knows no bounds, as HPB herself indicates. She purposely left much to the individual student's initiative, imagination, and intuition in the voyage of self-discovery on the human evolutionary path.

Since the third fundamental proposition of The Secret Doctrine makes clear that progress must be achieved by "self-induced and self-devised efforts," the treatment of ideas in this series will attempt to avoid drawing conclusions for readers. Truth should be self-evident to searchers who are open-minded.


Next article:
CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON THE OBJECTS
[2nd article in this series]
THE HYPOTHETICAL ETHER OF MODERN SCIENCE

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THE "THREE OBJECTS" OF THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
complete list of articles.

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