THEOSOPHY, Vol. 18, No. 7, May, 1930
(Pages 298-303; Size: 19K)
(Number 21 of a 103-part series)



This second assertion of the Secret Doctrine is the absolute unversality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death, Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the Universe. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, Proem, I, 17).
"AH, YES," says the skeptic. "But there is nothing mystic in all this. Under the simple, plain mechanical laws of motion there is no other planetary path but the periodic, and all these phenomena are but results thereof!"

Is it so? Or are the planetary paths merely the representations, upon the three-dimensional map-tables of our brains, of a much more fundamental construction of the Universe? A construction not coldly geometrical and mathematical, but vital and breathing?

Nature, says Dr. W. Kopaczewski,(1) is full of pulsations, of actions taking place "not continuously but in regular time-phases." Rhythm is frequently recorded in form and structure in chemistry and physics, such as the precipitation stripes in minerals. "Here during their formation some force alternately acted and rested -- we know not exactly what or how." He goes on to elaborate in almost tedious detail regarding many departments of nature. Periodic phenomena are observed in colloidal actions -- and colloids are for all practical purposes the physical basis of organized existence. There is periodicity in the agglutination of typhoid bacilli, and periodicity in the poisonousness of mixtures of diphtheria toxin and antitoxin.

The hardness of steel varies periodically with the number of recent temperings, and the melting point of nitro-anilin mixtures varies periodically with the composition. The periodicity of crystallization is well known; certain coloring matters penetrate filter paper in alternating stripes; water forms in a periodical manner when hydrogen and oxygen are combined at the end of a tube.

In electricity, says Dr. Kopaczewski, a whole series of phenomena show periodicity. The emission of positive ions by a heated platinum spiral, discharges during the operation of certain types of interrupters, in electrolysis, and the harmonics at wireless sending-posts, are some of them.

Chemically, he says, the periodic table of the elements -- giving a septenary grouping -- is too well known to need discussion. Hydrogen is periodically released from solutions of chromium in acids. The luminescence of phosphorous depends on the pressure of the surrounding oxygen, and varies periodically. Chemical precipitation is often periodic.

The colors and structures of living beings almost uniformly show rhythm crystallized or immobilized, examples of which he gives.

The growth of certain plants shows periodicity -- would it not be correct to say all plants? The tendency in elementary organisms to seek the light depends on hydrogen ion concentration and shows periodicity.

There are also periodic variations in the phosphorous and nitrogen of the brain, Prof. Ehrenberg speculating as to whether variations in intellectual activity may not accompany.

Dr. Kopaczewski notes also the periodic structure of gallstones and the periodic action of some drugs; he does not, it seems, embark at all upon the very wide field of the periodicity in the phases of disease, although speculating upon the probable periodic action of some drugs. Is not here a fruitful field for observation and correlation of disease cycles in drug therapy?

He does not venture a basic explanation of these phenomena, though mentioning various proposed hypotheses and some of their shortcomings, and suggesting that perhaps they may all play a part varying with conditions.

Now practically all the phenomena mentioned by Dr. Kopaczewski have a chemico-physical basis, materialistically speaking, or chemico-physical relations; it might be supposed that they are underlaid by some as yet unknown factor common to all.

But what shall we say when we turn from the microcosmic and microscopic field traversed by him to such phenomena as are noted by M. Raoul Montandon,(2) Prof. W. J. Humphreys, of the U.S. Weather Bureau,(3) and Dr. T. A. Jaggar?(4)

Reviewing the world's most important disasters between September, 1924, and August, 1927, M. Montandon finds that the average number of calamities runs highest in July, that month having about twice as many as February. September and October are relatively free from tragedy.

Now, note this well: M. Montandon's researches are not confined to some single category of events which might lie under a common and simple explanation in a physical sense; he takes in a field whose causation covers every realm of nature and much of human action; viz: earthquakes, floods, landslides, avalanches, cyclones, droughts, famines, volcanic eruptions, fires, tidal waves, and plagues of insects. Only a few of these have or can have a common physical basis. Of this more anon; but meantime let us draw attention to the close connection between the July cycle and the annual Karmic cycle which many Theosophists have observed; namely, action in the spring months tends to "take root" with unusual power, and the garnering of results, good or bad, tends to group between June and the fall months. Is there not then a recondite invisible connection between the complex laws of human action and human nature, and these of the major forces of "external" nature?

In one respect Dr. Jaggar contradicts M. Montandon, finding that September has the most earthquakes, over a period from 1918 and 1924; the average for the month being nearly twice the annual average. Dr. Jaggar is a geologist, and every tremor is an earthquake in geological statistics. From M. Montandon's wording, it appears probable that he refers only to earthquakes which are "disasters"; i.e., resulting in loss of life and property. Strangely significant if earthquakes were more numerous in September than in any other month, but disastrous quakes fewest! January, says Dr. Jaggar, has fewest.

Confirming the periodicity in geological phenomena, Prof. Humphreys has found that volcanic eruptions of the explosive type have followed a tendency to group during the last three centuries.

Dr. J. Lacoste(5) finds that the earth has a daily rhythm of tiny shocks, the intensity being greatest at 7 P.M. and least at 2 A.M. There is a temporary rise between low points at four in the morning and two in the afternoon. These, he thinks, might be explainable by changing air pressure. Inasmuch as he does not give barometric readings proving this thesis, and as so far as we know air pressures do not follow such regular laws -- otherwise no major storms -- this question remains scientifically open for the present.

This daily quiver has an analogy in many departments of the human body; Madame Blavatsky states that the beating of the heart is the external, physicalized result and symbol of the eternal double pulsation of the Astral Light. Now arrives M. Serge Yourievitch(6) with the discovery that the human eye pulsates at about the rate of 100 per minute for all individuals, whatever the race. The average heart rate for all races happens also to be uniform. Now this is most significant, indicating that in these pulsatory vital phenomena we have an underlying cause not subject to the variant differences of race. On the other hand, the rate of the heart for women is higher than for men. But physiologically and astrally, the female sex represents the great passive or material pole of nature -- and in closer relation with the astral realms physically?

A discovery by Messrs. A. Nodon and G. Cuvier(7) indicates that the mineral content of the soil is not a fixed rigid quantity at all times of the year, measurable like the housewife's flour between bakings. They find that the white wines pressed in France in 1921 and 1923 contained greater amounts of radium than those of 1920, 1922 or 1924. The reason for the variation, they say, is a mystery. Now, in a previous issue(8), there was discussed the subject of a biennial year as regards the effect of the sun upon the earth, namely, a real year which includes two of our known ones.(9) This biennial fluctuation coincides. For some reason, radioactive materials tend to seek rapidly growing tissues, such as those of a cancer or of an embryo. In this case, is it that at certain cycles of the sun its vital currents stimulate vegetation to a greater radium-absorbing power than at others? And how far do such effects go?

Self-observant Theosophists have always known that human health and mental states follow very definite laws of periodicity, ascribable to no visible outer influence or condition; periods of hilarity are usually succeeded by the "blues;" among men in general is a well known theory -- usually based on observation -- that their "luck changes" every seven years.

Dr. R. Hopman, of the University of Cologne,(10) has collected statistics of human diseases of many kinds. He finds that the spring time is that of the most danger to health and especially to the nervous system. Mental equilibrium is less stable then than at other times, and the cycle yields the highest number of suicides and crimes of passion. This may be due, he thinks, to the lack of ultra-violet rays during the winter. More likely, to the physical, mental, and emotional strain of the renewed influx of pranic forces into organisms for a short time unaccustomed thereto; like turning the current into a rusty dynamo.(11)

A new and queer cycle has been discovered by Dr. Willford I. King, of the National Bureau of Economic Research.(12) It appears that human generosity as expressed in charitable work has a regular cycle of between four and five years. Inasmuch as this does not coincide with the 11-year cycle, which affects both crops and human health, nor with the seven-year business cycle, whose connection with charity is obvious, Dr. King is puzzled, but it seems obvious that there is here an inner and purely psychological rhythm.

Enough data has been collected to do away with the idea either of chance in all this periodicity, or of any cause short of a law absolutely fundamental in the substance and structure of the Universe, from its lowest and most material phases to its highest manifest to man. Law must permeate and control all action whatsoever, of any grade and description, as the trunk of a tree controls the flow of sap to the limbs. What is this Law?

Its first, as its last, and as its most gigantic manifestation, is the succession of Manvantara and Pralaya, the emergence of the Universe from undifferentiated substance by degrees into complex and orderly action and segregation, and its progressive undoing, the whole covering undreamed-of spaces of time. Physically, this Universal Night and Day is now scientifically suspected and almost discovered. Doctors Millikan and Cameron, of the California Institute of Technology,(13) suggest that electrons condense into atoms, atoms into stars; that stars disintegrate into ether waves, heat and light. And these radiant forces are condensed once more into electrons by some "as yet wholly unknown mechanism."

But there are regions of substance far beyond light, heat, and other ether waves; nay, beyond ether itself -- had that state of matter or force, as conceived by science, any real existence. In the progressive undoing of the Great Night, Time and Space themselves become non-existent; the Universe falls into pure subjectivity. At the onset of Dawn, Thought awakes impelled by Desire; the vision of sensation burgeons; sensation requires motion, motion requires Space, and the long chain of constructions, the subjective falling into the objective, which results at last in the Universe as we know it, getting into being. Subjective in its origin, it can never be otherwise in its essence, however thunderously the herd of seeming material "things-in-themselves" gallops across the dream-fabric of our life's screen. They are naught in themselves; desire called forth their shadows, imagination gave them form and will crowned and sceptered them for their imaginary rule over that inner unchanging consciousness of man which is the only undying immortality of this Universe -- for it is the Soul of the Universe itself.

Cycles rule us not; we created them and can rule them to our will. Men of material intellect themselves now suspect the spiral path of life.(14) Even as the vast periodicity of the manifest universe is but the reflex of the Eternal Cosmic Breath, so is the twist of the tree-trunk naught but the natural symbol of the fact that the earth's path is periodic but with relation to the sun; in its total motion it traverses the same space never twice. In life we follow constrained the wheels of waking and sleeping, joy and sorrow, created by self in mightier days. But all our power is not vanished into the spinning of them; each day and night it is true is but repetition of light and shade; but each time the rim falls upon soil fresh and new, virgin for the sowing of new causes.

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 plastic power of the imagination is much stronger in some persons than in others. The mind is dual in its potentiality: it is physical and metaphysical. The higher part of the mind is connected with the spiritual soul or Buddhi, the lower with the animal soul, the Kama principle. There are persons who never think with the higher faculties of their mind at all; those who do so are the minority and are thus, in a way, beyond, if not above, the average of human kind. These will think even upon ordinary matters on that higher plane. The idiosyncracy of the person determines in which "principle" of the mind the thinking is done, as also the faculties of a preceding life, and sometimes the heredity of the physical. This is why it is so very difficult for a materialist -- the metaphysical portion of whose brain is almost atrophied -- to raise himself, or for one who is naturally spiritually minded, to descend to the level of the matter-of-fact vulgar thought. Optimism and pessimism depend on it also in a large measure. --H.P.B.

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(1) Periodic Phenomena in Nature, La Nature, Paris, quoted in Literary Digest, for Jan. 19, 1929.
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(2) The Week's Science, June 25, 1928.
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(3) Science, Aug. 24, 1928.
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(4) The Week's Science, about December, 1928.
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(5) The Week's Science, Sept. 17, 1928.
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(6) The Week's Science, Jan. 7, 1929.
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(7) Do., Nov. 12, 1928.
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(8) Do., May, 1928.
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(9) Also see Science, Nov. 11, 1927.
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(10) The Week's Science, March 1, 1929.
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(11) See Ocean of Theosophy, p. 36.
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(12) The Week's Science, June 17, 1929.
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(13) Science, Sept. 6, 1928.
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(14) Dr. Asa A. Scharffer, Literary Digest, Aug. 11, 1928.
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