THEOSOPHY, Vol. 21, No. 2, December, 1932
(Pages 71-75; Size: 16K)
(Number 42 of a 103-part series)



Esoteric philosophy teaches that everything lives and is conscious, but not that all life and consciousness are similar to those of human or even animal beings... The idea of universal life is one of those ancient conceptions which are returning to the human mind in this century, as a consequence of its liberation from anthropomorphic theology... It hardly seems possible that science can disguise from itself much longer ... that things that have life are living things, whether they be atoms or planets. (Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 49).

Science is welcome to speculate upon the physiological mechanism of human beings, and to continue her fruitless efforts in trying to resolve our feelings, our sensations, mental and spiritual, into functions of their inorganic vehicles. Nevertheless, all that will ever be accomplished in this direction has already been done, and Science will go no farther. She is before a dead wall, on the face of which she traces, as she imagines, great physiological and psychic discoveries, but every one of which will be shown later on to be no better than the cobwebs spun by her scientific fancies and illusions. (S.D. I, 133-4).

AND yet, putting together these quotations, it is clear that were science to cease regarding the vehicles as "inorganic," that is to say, lifeless, our sensations mental and spiritual could quickly indeed be resolved into functions -- living and conscious functions --of the vehicles. It is only cognition that lies outside their sphere.

One of the strangest of all the various strange scientific self-limitations, is that resulting from the arbitrary division of physical phenomena into living and not-living. No less is the fallacy of ascribing "life," whatever that may be, to "organic" materials only; whereas the difference between the "organic" and "inorganic" as understood by science, is simply one of degree in complexity of constitution. It is as though one were to set a grindstone and a printing press in two utterly different categories of natural phenomena merely because of the great differences in complexity evidenced.

But as predicted by H.P.B., science is being forced over the borderline by her own discoveries. Immediately impending is the breakdown of the idea that the unit of life is distinguished from that of "dead" matter by its size.

In Science for Nov. 22, 1929, is a table showing from deductive bases the actual overlap of the largest known unit of "inorganic" matter with the smallest known unit of "living" or "organic" matter. The famous "gene," or unit of inheritance, is regarded as of definitely "inorganic" size, although intensely "living" in its functions and qualities. "Life," say the writers, Drs. Jerome Alexander and Calvin Bridges, "must have begun in the molecular (inorganic?) order of complexity with an autocatalytic (Self-generating? Self-reproducing?) molecule of definite structure." They moreover speak of the gene as an "organic molecule;" and while organic molecules have long been studied as constituents of living matter, they have not hitherto been considered to possess in their own right the definite biological powers certainly owned by the gene.

The "filterable" or "ultra-microscopic" viruses have played a leading part in the development of the new thinking; for they act physically like chemical solutions and biologically like living germs. Their evident smallness has led to the view that they are more "chemical" than "living" in their nature. It now happens, however, that discoveries have been made tending to show that the filterable virus is simply an alternative form of the full-sized germ.(1) The famous bacteriophage, or "germ-eater," is so close to the borderline, acting in some ways like a chemical, in others like a "living" thing, that its actual nature is still a subject of controversy.(2) It is now rather suspected also that the apparent germ-killing qualities of the bacteriophage are due to its being, not an entity at all, but some mysteriously epidemic tendency of the germs themselves to shrink into microscopic and harmless size.

Certain globules found in the blood-serum betray a dual nature of motion. They have the well-known "Brownian Movement," ascribed to the inanimate bounding and rebounding of atoms striking one another. But this motion is combined with a longer oscillation like the movements of some known living bacilli.(3) This would seem evidence of overlapping in size and qualitative duality of nature -- in other words, the truest kind of "missing link."

Such missing links, says Madame Blavatsky, once abounded in nature, but now are few. Nevertheless, modern science is beginning to turn them up. Thus Dr. F. Rinne, of the University of Freiburg, has concluded that there is no actual gap between the organic and inorganic. Hitherto crystals have been regarded as the highest form of inorganic matter and the cell as the lowest form of life; but the sperm cell, certainly living, he says, is a "liquid crystal."(4)

N. Rashevsky(5) thinks that some of the qualities of "mind" may exist in "dead matter." Extraordinary that they cannot see that either all the qualities of mind must there exist, or else "mind" be a supernatural entity violently injected into organic matter at some period of its evolution!

Drs. Funaoka and Ogata, Imperial University of Kyoto,(6) consider that such simple minerals as potassium and magnesium play an inmost part in the processes of life and especially in inheritance. The germ chromosomes, they think, carry the construction plans of the creature to whose seed they belong. Who then made the plans and who reads them?

The vital connection between certain forms of matter and the processes of intelligence is shown by a new remedy for insanity discovered by Cornell University.(7) The colloid form of substance is the very basis of "living" matter. A colloid is solid substance so finely divided in a liquid that it floats permanently. Obviously such a combination of matter lends itself par excellence to the greatest possible fluidity of interchange; physical and chemical to the scientist; both these plus the psychic to the Theosophist. Insanity is found to be partly due to the brain colloids becoming either too watery or too viscous. Taking the Theosophic point of view, if manifestation of intelligence depends upon a regulated interchange of contacts between these living substances, acting as messengers in part, summing up their intelligences to a greater whole in part, then a too thick condition of the liquids of suspension means a clogging of motion and interchange; a too thin condition would mean loss of communication through separation. The most remarkable feature of all these discoveries is that schizophrenia, or split personality, is due to overdispersion of the colloid substances, while depressive and epileptic patients are in the coagulated state. Could any clearer proof of our position be desired?(8) It is found that sodium amytal thickens the liquids, and sodium rhodanate thins them.

To our mind the very basis of the manifestation of intelligence through the lower forms of matter is this infinite flexibility and complexity of the life-connections possible through a colloid state. It is this condition which allows an atom of carbon in the human brain to transmit intelligence while the same atom in a lump of coal is inert.

Yet through these interchanges permanent qualitative differences arise, owing to the infinite impressibility of all life, its ability to take, retain, and transmit any impression given. This is shown in the queer experiments of Dr. Crile, who found that brain ash -- purely inorganic so far as chemical research goes -- will under favorable conditions act as the basis for quasi-living cells.(9)

In fact the permanence of such impressions -- education, evolution, or what-not -- is the whole basis of evolution, of karma. To which must be added that there are many forms of matter on many planes not yet guessed by science.

Man is in fact not a mind of sorts inhabiting a semi-inanimate machine; he is an invisible but potent king, ruling -- or being ruled by -- a gigantic colony of lives, varying physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Physically this is being discovered. The lymphocytes which live in the body, forming an essential part of it, move there exactly as amebas move in ditch water, having an independent life of their own but essential to the body.(10) Biologists, it is said, interpret this to mean that complex creatures like man have been built up of lower and simpler forms of life. Exactly. Those forms have rallied for experience, interchange, evolution, about the magnetic, invisible life -- and light-giver, the eternal Ego of man.

Science, dimly perceiving the truth, may find Bacteria and other infinitesimals in the human body, and see in them but occasional and abnormal visitors to which diseases are attributed. Occultism -- which discerns a life in every atom and molecule ... affirms that our whole body is built of such lives, the smallest bacteria under the microscope being to them in comparative size like an elephant to the tiniest infusoria. (S.D. I, 225).
One of the most remarkable of all discoveries points to the origin of sex in the molecule itself.(11) There are two classes of molecules; those tending to build up structures in right spirals, and those which tend to the left. Right spirals are correlated with the production of equal numbers of each sex. Left spirals with absence of sex, unequal numbers of the sexes, or hermaphroditism. It is also found that sex does not depend, as had been thought, upon the junction of a certain two chromosomes, but that it is distributed throughout, and is in an organized body a matter of degree rather than of difference, very evidently owing to a general diffusion of molecules of both sexes through the body. This in turn explains a paradox: the fact that while sex in the form of polarity, is universal throughout material or manifested nature, the "soul," according to Theosophy, is sexless. This is because "soul" is an evolution so old and well-rounded as to contain equally all elements and polarities, besides being energized by Spirit itself which is beyond the planes of differences.

If the truth were known, there can be traced in every lowest manifestation of nature every highest spiritual and mental power and quality; residing in germ but symbolically expressed in form or in mode of motion.

It is the seemingly mechanical attractions and repulsions of the atom, for instance, which foreshadow human loves and hates; those mechanical symbols are the spelling out of cosmic messages in the only terms available to the dumb and locked life in all matter; life nevertheless as vital as our very own -- to which it gave rise.

And when it becomes recognized, as it is being recognized by many scientists, that all matter but consists of waves or vibrations in Great Space, then indeed will that Space be seen as transparent, translucent Life, essence of our very being: Nature, Man, God, Space, and Spirit all in one and one in all.

Thus to the immemorial truth doth the wand of Modern Magic point, agreeably to prophecy:

Chemistry and physiology are the two great magicians of the future, who are destined to open the eyes of mankind to the great physical truths. With every day, the identity between the animal and physical man, between the plant and man, and even between the reptile and its nest, the rock, and man -- is more and more clearly shown... Each particle -- whether you call it organic or inorganic -- is a life... It is that mysterious LIFE, represented collectively by countless myriads of lives, that follows in its own sporadic way, the hitherto incomprehensible law of Atavism; that copies family resemblances as well as those it finds impressed in the aura of the generators of every future human being. (S.D. I, 261).

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XXXVII (Part I of II)
(Part 43 of a 103-part series)

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(1) Science, Jan. 1, 1932; Dec. 11, 1931.
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(2) Do. Jan. 3, 1930.
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(3) Do. July 11, 1930.
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(4) New York Times, Sept. 26, 1930.
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(5) American Journal of Psychology.
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(6) The Week's Science, March 31, 1930.
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(7) Los Angeles Times, Nov. 18, 1931.
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(8) Science, Dec. 4, 1931.
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(9) Los Angeles Times, Dec. 30, 1930.
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(10) The Week's Science, Feb. 29, 1932.
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(11) Science, July 10, 1931; Science News Letter, Nov. 1, 1930.
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