THEOSOPHY, Vol. 24, No. 7, May, 1936
(Pages 303-305; Size: 10K)
(Number 65 of a 103-part series)



ANIMATED atoms as the causes of all the effects produced on Earth was the belief of all ancient philosophers (S.D. I, 568). They also knew that from the spiritual point of view the atoms are not distinct or absolutely separated particles, but rather all are rays of the one Spirit of Life. It is the illusion of form and matter that is the cause of misconception, and this can be dissolved only by an understanding of the fundamental unity and universality of the One Life, the individual intelligences that animate the various manifestations of this Principle. (S.D. I, 178, 634).

To trace the life of an atom through the kingdoms, it is necessary to understand what these kingdoms are as sequential manifestations of the One Life.

"There are seven kingdoms. The first group comprises three degrees of elementals, or nascent centres of forces -- from the first stage of differentiation ... from full unconsciousness to semi-perception; the second or higher group embraces the kingdoms from vegetable to man; the mineral kingdom thus forming the central or turning point in the degrees of the 'Monadic Essence,' considered as an evoluting energy. Three stages (sub-physical) on the elemental side; the mineral kingdom; three stages on the objective physical side -- these are the (first or preliminary) seven links of the evolutionary chain." (S.D., I, 176).
Seven kingdoms -- three elemental, mineral, vegetable, animal and human -- are the scenes of the evolution of Spirit (or Consciousness), and Matter (or Substance) as its vehicle. The "atoms" are then simply the intelligent expressions or manifesting "lives" in any of these kingdoms.

The elemental kingdoms are the ethereal, while the mineral represents the most densely physical at any given stage. The vegetable is the embryonic apperceptive, while the animal expresses the foetal nature of desire and sensation. In the human kingdom alone is the rational mind and self-consciousness. The atom in the mineral embodies both the static and energic aspects of life. In the vegetable that self-polarization evolves the form of a higher stage. In the animal it has experience in desire for mobile existence. In the human is mirrored the reasoned struggle for self-satisfaction. Beyond these is the whole as yet unfathomed universe.

These differentiations and manifestations give to nature's kingdoms their characteristics, being in fact the outflow of their acquired intelligence. (1-3). The elemental kingdoms are the "nascent centres of force," the "nerves of nature" involving hidden energies. (4). The mineral is characterized by the power of cohesion; geometric crystallization; power of light and color reflection, transmission and refraction; physical nature; chemical action; electro-chemical reaction, and electric-magnetic affinities and so-called "properties." The characteristics of the vegetable kingdom in turn are seen to be power of growth; organization of form and adaptability to environment; coloration; Nature's imitative faculty; capacity for self-reproduction; biological sensation and reaction to stimuli. In the next, the animal stage, the characteristics show forth as power of independent motion; adaptability in form and habit; Nature's imitative and expressive faculty; reproduction; sensation, desire, and conscious nature. In the human kingdom, the evoluting energy culminates in the active principles of physical body and nature; astral body and nature; Pranic or vital energy; Kama, passion and desire, lower and higher; mental intelligence and self-consciousness; Buddhic understanding, wisdom and compassion; and Atmic warming ray of Spirit and Sun of Life. The experience of the "atom" in each stage, be it elemental, mineral, vegetable, animal or human, is a distinct cycle. The nature of Spirit is the inherent power to learn, while the lessons learned through substance and matter become the acquired nature, or Soul.

That the various manifestations of life are differentiations from and in one and the same Life becomes increasingly evident. Even modern science is forced to recognize the universality of principles, characteristics, and qualities, however much disguised in technical terms and names. There is not a single "property" or characteristic of a mineral, for instance, that is not shared in some way or degree by every other. They all have a melting point, a boiling point, a critical temperature of sublimation, showing their existence in one or another state or condition. Now they are beginning to be found transmutable one into the other. It was once thought that only iron and steel were magnetic, nickel being so in lesser degree and perhaps one or two others. But now all substances are classified as para- or dia-magnetic in one degree or another. So too substances are found to be radioactive, some more than others, but all in some degree. Whether or not this is entirely confirmed, it cannot be denied. The essential electrical nature of minerals and substances is becoming a matter of general knowledge. Some have gone further and declared that stones "live" as the German Professor Rinne, mineralogist of Leipzig University, declared(1), reporting a process in crystals analogous to breathing. Similarly, "The discovery of what it described as a 'remarkable and unique' kind of bacteria in travertine, the building stone named after the Roman river Tiber, was reported to the Society of American Bacteriologists ... by Professor Charles B. Lipman of the University of California. The travertine came from the Yellowstone National Park and adds one more to a series of recent discoveries indicating that rocks are 'living' in a sense analogous to plants and animals."(2) Especially did the work of the Indian scientist Chunder Bose give substantial evidence of the fact -- all of which is coming closer to the teaching of Theosophy and the knowledge of the ancients.

Perhaps the discovery of the illusive vitamines will suggest to some that there is more to the vegetable than the mere shell of appearance. Without the life essences evolved from within, without, they are nothing at all so far as evolution through the kingdom is concerned. These have been hinted at long ago in Theosophical teaching. The vegetable kingdom represents a specific stage of evolving Life, not merely of outer forms, but also of the indwelling intelligence as well.

In the animal there is but the germ of self-consciousness not yet awakened or developed. But the animal is conscious, nevertheless, and represents a stage of life in which certain experience is gained. Here and there, now and then, naturalists and scientists begin to realize to some extent, the animal's place in the scheme of things.

In ancient days man was called Anu (atom), thus identifying the whole of nature in him as a conscious unit, an individuality in the unity of the One Life. The key to the understanding of the whole universe lies within his nature, within himself. By so doing he is enabled to become a conscious co-worker with nature and help on the evolutionary progression of the countless lives.

Says The Secret Doctrine (I, 120):

The radical unity of the ultimate essence of each constituent part of compounds in Nature -- from Star to mineral Atom, from the highest Dhyan Chohan (Spiritual Being) to the smallest infusoria, in the fullest acceptation of the term, and whether applied to the spiritual, intellectual, or physical worlds -- this is the one fundamental law in Occult Science.

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(1) New York Times, November 27, 1928.
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(2) New York World-Telegram, December 27, 1934.
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