THEOSOPHY, Vol. 17, No. 7, May, 1929
(Pages 299-304; Size: 20K)
(Number 12 of a 103-part series)

SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE

XII

IN the human mind is a great capacity for wonder and curiosity, but little for sustained thought. Thus, while on the one hand there is in the present day an almost desperate interest in the origin, destiny, and fate of the soul -- if any soul there be -- glaring sign-posts of the truth are reflected almost daily in the press, with no notice from science, and nothing but a passing expression of wonder from the Editors, if even that. We refer to such phenomena as the baby of Birmingham, Alabama, who at seven months conversed as fluently as the average child of seven years,(1) Patricia Monroe, who has played the piano since the age of four,(2) Betty Nuthall, the child tennis phenomenon,(3) and the five-year-old boy mathematical wonder of Mosice, Slovakia.(4)

Assuming for the sake of argument that genius occurs upon the rare meeting of particular like genes in the germ cells of parents,(5) carriers of genius which many of us possess unknown -- nevertheless what is the answer to this ability of a tiny speck of material of the same ultimate constitution as the stone or tree, this ability to begin almost at once the manifestation of such intelligence as tree or animal displays hardly in germ through the whole of a life? Does anyone know of any way in which intelligence is developed under the human eye save by experience? Or any means by which two individuals of the same capacity, can show a differing grasp of the same subject, save by greater experience or more application on the part of the one? But where was the differing experience, on the part of two specks of dumb matter, one of which becomes a genius, the other a clod? In all sanity, then, what prevents from seeing that the germ cell is not the origin and creator of the whole man, but that it is the infinitesimal but necessary foothold by which something of experience gets a new grasp upon the manifest world? What prevents, save the superstition that the visible is all?

It has required biology long years to accept the premonitory reports of daring discoverers in a certain mystery of embryological development: the fact that, instead of the nerve growth being the outcome of the development of the organs, the reverse is true; that not even the nerves are the first premonition of the being, but there is an invisible radiation, of unknown nature, which precedes and points the way for the sprouting of living substance.(6) There is also the "embryotectonic" process, first mentioned in this magazine during 1921; the process by which the organs are "sketched out" during growth, and the substance then filled in; and there is the scientific fact, also previously dealt with, that some kind of pattern-force arranges the tissues; if a piece of heart-tissue becomes displaced to the position of muscle-tissue, for instance, it is converted into muscle-tissue. The evidence is becoming indisputable -- if it has not already become so -- that the embryo is built upon a definite pattern. Once that is granted, as it must shortly be granted, the question arises, whence that pattern? It is undeniably invisible; being invisible, no man can say how old it is, of what substance constructed. No one can dispute the Theosophical doctrine, that this pattern is the shape of the physical form which the incoming human being has acquired during all his past, and is now bringing with him, modified to a degree by the influence of the parents. No one can deny that this primal form is the creator of his physical ill -- or well-being on earth; that through the intimate relation between body and mind, it holds within it his whole fate in life, save as modified subsequently by his will and by his training; no one can deny it to be his Karma, the crystallization of his Skandhas, his bygone traits.

Not only have we powerful inferential proof of the reincarnation of physical and physico-mental traits, but we have at hand, in scientific form, the "trailing clouds of glory," of the poet, which the child brings back from his Devachanic period. During the year 1921, two brothers in Marburg, Germany,(7) discovered a new human faculty -- new to science. It is the ability of certain children to recall at will, to visualize objectively, any scene which they have beheld. This does not refer to the ordinary recollective faculties, which present but a blurred, dim, and much modified picture. It is a phenomenon in which the scene is presented in every detail of line and color, photographically faithful, and seen at the distance and from the angle from which originally viewed. Now, this is precisely the faculty which appears when the self is released from the clogging flesh, and the being enters Devachan; it is the ability to create objectively whatever is in the mind. The further discoveries of these savants go to show this. For the faculty usually appears between five and seven; five, the age when the senses become fully developed and physical vision is in full action to give this picturizing faculty a basis; and seven, the age when, as Theosophy has always taught, the ego becomes fully immured in the flesh. It is seldom found in the adolescent, and never in the adult. Is this faculty then, a property of the inner self, and killed by the material body? Even so; experiment disclosed that the administration of cod-liver oil and lime, prime builders of the gross form, destroyed it completely.

Still deeper arcana have been scientifically penetrated -- still, naturally, without understanding of their significance. Obviously when the Ego is in a body, with all his faculties intimately bound thereto, there must be organs for the manifestation of his highest powers as well as the lower. If there are instruments for the use of his animal senses, if there is the brain for his animal reason, then there must also be those organs having to do with the higher powers of the soul, with conscience, with intuition, with spiritual perceptions in general.

A long time ago Descartes claimed that the pineal gland was the seat of the soul. Prof. R. G. Hoskins, of the Ohio State University,(8) in disputing Descartes, confirms him. For he says that the pineal gland reaches its greatest development at the age of seven -- that fateful age again -- and afterward recedes. Confusing intellect with spirituality, the Professor assumes that the soul must increase in power through life; therefore, this recession goes against Descartes. On the contrary, Theosophy claims that in this, our Black Age, the era of materialism supreme, the soul is enfolded by the darkness of human training and habits of thought, so soon as it becomes at home in the body. The would-be Adept must "regain the child-state he has lost;" and this is no poetic expression, but an injunction of sober scientific import, physically as well as morally. For the pineal gland, hopelessly atrophied in our race for the most part, is the organ of spiritual vision.

Investigation of the body of a young criminal whose enormities shocked the United States in recent years, revealed the fact that in him the gland was atrophied long before the usual time; and biology has found that destructive tumors on it are associated with premature development of the body and especially of the reproductive organs. But sex is our closest link with the animal kingdom and the visible expression of the animal remaining within.

The "deva-eye" exists no more for the majority of mankind. The third eye is dead, and acts no longer; but it has left behind a witness to its existence. This witness is now the PINEAL GLAND. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, II, 295).

This throws also a light on the mystery -- incomprehensible to some -- of the connection between abnormal, or Spiritual Seership, and the physiological purity of the Seer. The question is often asked, "Why should celibacy and chastity be a sine qua non rule and condition of regular chelaship, or the development of psychic and occult powers? The answer is contained in the Commentary. When we learn that the "third eye" was once a physiological organ, and that later on, owing to the gradual disappearance of spirituality and increase of materiality (Spiritual nature being extinguished by the physical), it became an atrophied organ, as little understood now by physiologists as the spleen is -- when we learn this, the connection will become clear. During human life the greatest impediment in the way of spiritual development, and especially to the acquirement of Yoga powers, is the activity of our physiological senses. Sexual action being closely connected, by interaction, with the spinal cord and the grey matter of the brain, it is useless to give any longer explanation. Of course, the normal and abnormal state of the brain, and the degree of active work in the medulla oblongata, reacts powerfully on the pineal gland, for, owing to the number of "centres" in that region, which controls by far the greater majority of the physiological actions of the animal economy, and also owing to the close and intimate neighbourhood of the two, there must be exerted a very powerful "inductive" action by the medulla on the pineal gland. (S.D. II, 295-296).

Not that rash aspirants should take this as encouragement to attempt heights for which they may be mentally, morally, spiritually and physically unfitted for incarnations to come, but it is incumbent, as the first step, to recognize precisely where we stand on the scale of spirituality, and the course which in the end has to be pursued.

Laying aside, then, the voluminous inferential evidence in a score of fields, which the thorough Theosophical student has at hand, all pointing to the existence of the inner and permanent Self, even material science has thus uncovered such facts as can be fully explained in no other way. Once granted the existence of that Self, it then must have come from somewhere; and the evidence is wholly to the effect that it came from previous fields of experience of a like nature; that the individual is no creation, but a recurrent visitor.

Pleasantly enough, one of the great fallacious arguments of the opponents of reincarnation, has in the light of further discovery turned its edge against its wielders. We refer to the so-called "increase of population." This is a wholly fictitious assumption based upon the very rapid increase in the few Western nations and in some portions of Africa and the East. In ignorance of the laws of biology of nations, their births and deaths, it was assumed that all peoples followed the same laws of increase, and that there was no limit to the population of the earth except its capacity for support. The assumption thus made was termed fact and used against the Theosophist. Now, as it happens, investigation shows that every people has a definite growth curve of its own; a relatively long period of slow increase, a period of rapid growth, then a long static period, then a descent -- not quite to extinction, but to where the old stock is submerged by immigration. Applying this to the Western nations, we find that the British birth-rate is now below that of every other country in the world,(9) though there is a slight local rise in the rates of France, Spain, and Italy -- mostly due, in the case of the latter three to political and other artificial factors. Dr. Warren S. Thompson(10) reports that the birth rate of every European country, except France, is dropping. Great Britain and Germany are feeling especially pessimistic over their outlook. Dr. Daniel H. Kress(11) says that the birth rate has been rapidly declining in all civilized countries for the last century; while last year showed the first definite increase in the death rate. During the first quarter of 1927, France showed an excess of 32,252 deaths over births, with about the same condition in England. In Vienna during 1926 there were 26,000 deaths to 23,000 births. Births and deaths in America, he says, will soon be equal.

The latter statement is corroborated by statistics.(12) America, the youngest and most vigorous of all populations, prosperous and uncrowded, still holds the record as to births; yet as a whole her birth rate shows a decline. This decline, another authority has stated, began about 1880, but is becoming more and more noticeable.

It may be objected that all this does not prove a biological law, because of the tampering with nature which science has made possible, and which therefore permits economical and political situations to influence the birth rate. This cannot apply to the savage and barbarian races from whose study most of the curves have been derived; and since the "artificial" alterations in the birthrates of civilized countries seem to lead to the same growth-curve as of the others, it all expresses the operation, by various means, of a fundamental karmic law. Nor is knowledge of birth-control so far diffused, even in the U.S., as the intelligentsia imagine. Thus:

Reincarnation being the great law of life and progress, it is interwoven with that of the cycles and karma. These three work together, and in practice it is almost impossible to disentangle reincarnation from cyclic law. Individuals and nations in definite streams return in regularly recurring periods to the earth, and thus bring back to the globe the arts, the civilization, the very persons who once were on it at work. And as the units in nation and race are connected together by invisible strong threads, large bodies of such units moving slowly but surely all together reunite at different times and emerge again and again together into new race and new civilization as the cycles roll their appointed rounds. Therefore the souls who made the most ancient civilizations will come back and bring the old civilization with them in idea and essence, which being added to what others have done for the development of the human race in its character and knowledge will produce a new and higher state of civilization. This newer and better development will not be due to books, to records, to arts or mechanics, because all those are periodically destroyed so far as physical evidence goes, but the soul ever retaining in Manas the knowledge it once gained and always pushing to completer development the higher principles and powers, the essence of progress remains and will as surely come out as the sun shines. And along this road are the points when the small and large cycles of Avatars bring out for man's benefit the great characters who mould the race from time to time. (Ocean of Theosophy, 1893, page 119).
Not the least of those characters, and in our opinion one of the very greatest -- upon grounds of history and analogy -- was She whose key-work entitles this article; She of whom it may soon be said as of Voltaire, but in greater measure:

"Thy time is come; thy men are born; the structure which day by day thy great hands undermined is fallen upon us!"

The structure of religious bigotry; of crass, self-satisfied, materialism; of hot intolerance in religion, politics, and science; of intellectualized, perfumed, and bespangled animalism -- the structure is falling, burying in its roaring ruins well-nigh all that men hold dear. But upon its site shall arise the School of the Soul, teacher of the doctrine of accountability for every thought and deed unto all eternities.


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SCIENCE AND THE SECRET DOCTRINE
XIII
(Part 13 of a 103-part series)

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TWELVE (12) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:

(1) Los Angeles Times, July 3, 1928.
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(2) Do. February 16, 1928.
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(3) Literary Digest, September 27, 1927.
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(4) Los Angeles Examiner, June 10, 1928.
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(5) And we have the authority of Dr. Raymond Pearl (The University Hatchet, Washington) that genius is not the result of heredity.
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(6) Science, June 15, 1928.
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(7) Scientific Monthly, August, 1925.
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(8) Scientific Monthly, March, 1924.
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(9) Los Angeles Times, February 5, 1928.
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(10) Science, June 24, 1927.
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(11) Signs of the Times, January, 1928.
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(12) Given in the Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1928.
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