THEOSOPHY, Vol. 16, No. 4, February, 1928
(Pages 156-160; Size: 18K)
(Number 7 of a 103-part series)



THE status of the "Einstein Theory" of the present day appears to be almost unique in science. Accepted overnight viva voce, as it were, meeting little or nothing of the resistance usually encountered by scientific radicalism, it has since had to face the inevitable reaction. At the present time, Captain T. J. J. See, Naval astronomer at Mare Island, repeats and reiterates that the Einstein Theory is dead, damned, and cremated by another far more satisfactory and inclusive -- his own, naturally. On the other hand, the results of experiments have been so contradictory that few men of science seem willed to let go of the theory.

Captain See's theory is the mechanical hypothesis of a material ether, whose waves produce the phenomenon of gravitation.

A material ether of this nature must be either continuous or discontinuous. If continuous, it is inexplicable how material bodies could move through it. If discontinuous, a further ether is required to explain the cohesion of its particles, etc., and so on ad infinitum. The whole conception of a material ether is thus a hopeless paradox on many different counts; as H. P. Blavatsky, with the advantageous standpoint of the Secret Doctrine, was able to point out:

And now Father Æther is re-welcomed with open arms; and wedded to gravitation; linked to it for weal or woe, until the day when it, or both, shall be replaced by something else ... Recede ut procedes must become the motto of exact Science ... We know the day is approaching when an absolute reform will be demanded in the present modes of Science by the scientists themselves ... Till that day there is nothing to be done. For if gravitation were dethroned to-morrow, the day after the Scientists would discover some other new mode of mechanical motion ... whatever replaces attraction, alias gravitation, the result will be the same. Science will be as far from the solution of its difficulties as it is now ... (Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 495-6).

The septenary gradation, and the innumerable subdivisions and differences, made by the ancients between the powers of Ether collectively, from its outward fringe of effects, with which our Science is so familiar, up to the "Imponderable Substance," once admitted as the "Ether of Space," now about to be rejected, has been ever a vexing riddle for every branch of knowledge. (S.D., I, 331).

Certainly there were few signs of that rejection then. The awakening of a more philosophic comprehension in science, revealing these perplexities, led to the long series of mathematical attempts which culminated with Einstein. The article upon the Stokes-Planck Theory, Scientific Monthly, June, 1926, going over some of the difficulties involved, is illuminating in more ways than one.

It is quite possible for an apparently sound theory to be erected upon a basis of fact; for it to encounter some difficulty requiring the elaboration and addition of an entirely new hypothesis for the maintenance of the old -- this time without experimental basis --and for this process to be multiplied until at last the working hypothesis used, and frequently mistaken for proven fact, has been gradually forced adrift from anything concrete whatever. But the process is sometimes so insidious, so gradual, and so reasonable, that no one notices that hardheaded men of science are now pursuing phantoms of pure abstract reason more aerial than those they accuse such as Plato and Pythagoras of producing.

Einstein's popularity largely rose from his entry upon the scene at a time when this process could be carried no further along that particular line; and he is still in the ascendancy, as experiments continue to favor him. Dr. Chase,(1) who carried out experiments for the detection of a turning motion of the earth through the ether, found negative results; adding another stone to Einstein's castle of calculus. Experimental results have so largely taken this course that there is perfect reason in the suggestion of G. Guadet(2) that "The hypothesis of an ether drift, and even of the existence of an ether, should now be definitely abandoned." All this, of course, refers to a material ether; the Theosophic ether being, from the mundane point of view, a non-dimensional power, and from the spiritual, a state of consciousness.

In pursuit of the problems of the ether, science has reached a definite intersection with Secret Doctrine physics, as witness an article by Prof. Edwin B. Wilson, of Harvard University:(3)

Optics is one of our oldest sciences. For long times there was dispute as to whether light issued from the perceived object into the eye or emanated from the eye to the object seen. It has remained till the year 1925 and to G. N. Lewis to suggest that the eye and the object are in contact and that the relation is mutual ... One may say that fundamentally neither space nor time are of separate physical significance, they are individually anthropomorphic, if not conceited, conceptions based on the notion that the individual observer is at rest, probably at the center of the universe, and everything else in motion. Physically the important thing is the local time, the Eigenzeit ... a fusion of space and time. Along the path of light ... there is no lapse of space-time; a particle moving with velocity less than that of light has a past and future defined by its space-time path, but not so for light itself. Hence, says Lewis, we make the interpretation that there is contact between the perceiving eye and the object perceived and more generally between any two objects in radiative interchange. To some this sounds bizarre if not impish.
The twenty-first Aphorism of Patanjali, Book III, reads as follows:
By performing concentration in regard to the properties and essential nature of form, especially that of the human body, the ascetic acquires the power of causing the disappearance of his corporeal frame from the sight of others, because thereby its property of being apprehended by the eye is checked, and that property of Satwa which exhibits itself as luminousness is disconnected from the spectator's organ of sight.
William Q. Judge's comment on this verse, written in 1889, runs as follows:
Another great difference between this philosophy and modern science is here indicated. The schools of to-day lay down the rule that if there is a healthy eye in line with the rays of light reflected from an object -- such as a human body -- the latter will be seen, and that no action of the mind of the person looked at can inhibit the functions of the optic nerves and retina of the onlooker. But the ancient Hindus held that all things are seen by reason of that differentiation of Satwa --one of the three great qualities composing all things -- which is manifested as luminousness, operating in conjunction with the eye, which is also a manifestation of Satwa in another aspect. The two must conjoin; the absence of luminousness or its being disconnected from the seer's eye will cause a disappearance. And as the quality of luminousness is completely under the control of the ascetic, he can, by the process laid down, check it, and thus cut off from the eye of the other an essential element in the seeing of any object.
No wonder that the speculation into which it is forced, seems "bizarre if not impish" to scientific thought which formerly staked its all upon a spacial, material, and unconscious universe! Yet the true nature of our perceptions was long ago laid down.
...Motion, is one of the three aspects of the Absolute -- Abstract Space and Duration being the other two. (S.D., I, 43).
Abstract space, note well; concrete, material space, therefore, can never be anything but an illusion, as she further explains:
The expansion "from within without" of the Mother, called elsewhere the "Waters of Space," "Universal Matrix," etc., does not allude to an expansion from a small centre or focus, but, without reference to size or limitation or area, means the development of limitless subjectivity into as limitless objectivity ... It implies that this expansion, not being an increase in size -- for infinite extension admits of no enlargement -- was a change of condition. (S.D., I, 62-3).

When, therefore, the Secret Doctrine -- postulating that conditioned or limited space (location) has no real being except in this world of illusion, or, in other words, in our perceptive faculties -- teaches that every one of the higher, as of the lower worlds, is interblended with our own objective world; that millions of things and beings are, in point of localization, around and in us, as we are around, with, and in them; it is no metaphysical figure of speech, but a sober fact in Nature, however incomprehensible to our senses. (S.D., I, 604-5).

Space is the real world, while our world is an artificial one. It is the One Unity throughout its infinitude: in its bottomless depths as on its illusive surface; a surface studded with countless phenomenal Universes, systems and mirage-like worlds. Nevertheless, to the Eastern Occultist, who is an objective Idealist at the bottom, in the real world, which is a Unity of Forces, there is "a connection of all matter in the plenum," as Leibnitz would say. (S.D., I, 615).

Analyzing the sentences last quoted from Prof. Wilson, we cannot escape the interpretation that all points of manifestation everywhere are in direct contact; for what other interchange is there, under the laws of physics, than "radiative interchange" through some medium or other? But that medium, as Prof. Wilson shows, has become simply another name for direct contact. From this it follows that, since the chain of contact and connection is continuous throughout the Universe, every electron is in contact with every other. This, in physical terms, reduces the Universe to the infinitesimal size of the electron, or it increases the magnitude of the electron to infinity -- just as one chooses to look at it. "Bizarre if not impish," indeed -- nevertheless true.

But this is by no means all. Prof. Wilson says:

Bohr has written that an electron does not know it is in a stationary state until it has been around the orbit a few times. This is humanly intelligible, it is sound behaviorism. All we need now is to have some physicist who has read up the new psychology as a minor tell us that the Faraday tube that draws the negative and positive electricity together is but a gross materialization of the real fundamental force of nature, the sex instinct, and our molecules have become as inhumanly lewd as we are alleged to be!
Now, this is truth in the form of jest; and Prof. Wilson probably suspects it. Only -- it is the carnal desires of animal organisms which are the "gross materialization" of the fundamental forces of nature. Prof. Wilson, as he may well do, then speaks with some trepidation, the while laying bare the vast retreat which science has made, from its crude cock-sureness of H. P. Blavatsky's day:
There must always be mystery forces and mystical structures at the basis of physics, we can not explain except from unexplained postulates or define except in terms of the undefined. It may be an advantage to have our primitive propositions and undefined symbols translated into graphic language.
Now, what are these "mystery forces," and why are the structures they produce so "mystical?" Dr. Victor C. Vaughn, a physician of standing, has come to the conclusion that life is "molecular, not cellular."(4) That is to say, in point of vitality, there is no distinction between the organic and inorganic. But the molecule is composed of atoms, atoms of electrons, and electrons of something else, already suspected by science. And, following the thesis exploited by Prof. Wilson and agreed with by the Secret Doctrine, that something else is a point into which the Universe resolves itself. Prof. Wilson's "direct contact" fuses all material existence into a point, the aniyamsam aniyasam of "The Secret Doctrine," the "smallest of the small," the "atom seen everywhere and found nowhere during the manvantaric periods." The ancient name for Brahma was anu, the atom -- the smallest conceivable particle, living, conscious, and composing all that is, was, or will be. Dr. Vaughn thus also makes it living.
"We might instantly see ... the entire universe concentrating itself, as it were, in a single point."

And that "point," invisible on our plane of perception and matter, is quite visible to the eye of the adept who can follow and see it present on other planes. (S.D., I, 498).

Thus all visible things, like all conscious experience, are parts of a limitless procession of inner and self-creations, passing from subjective states of consciousness to the seemingly objective, and back again; the phenomena of an indivisible unity, self-creative, self-preservative, self-regenerative -- the One Ego which is both thine and mine, both thou and I.
...the phenomena of our plane are the creation of the perceiving Ego -- the modification of its own subjectivity ... The pure object apart from consciousness is unknown to us, while living on the plane of our three-dimensional world. (S.D., I, 329).

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:


Great contempt is shown for metaphysics generally and for ontological metaphysics especially. But we see, whenever the Occultists are bold enough to raise their diminished heads, that materialistic, physical science is honey-combed with metaphysics; that its most fundamental principles, while inseparably wedded to transcendentalism, are nevertheless, in order to show modern science divorced from such "dreams," tortured and often ignored in the maze of contradictory theories and hypotheses. A very good corroboration of this charge lies in the fact that Science finds itself absolutely compelled to accept the "hypothetical" Ether and to try to explain it on the materialistic grounds of atomo-mechanical laws. This attempt has led directly to the most fatal discrepancies and radical inconsistencies between the assumed nature of Ether and its physical actions. A second proof is found in the many contradictory statements about the atom -- the most metaphysical object in creation. --S.D., I, pp. 484-5.

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(5) On page 61, THEOSOPHY, December, 1927, "March to October" was given as the period during which the earth is closest to the sun. This should be "October to March," the months having been transposed by error. The purport of the article is not affected. [Compiler's note: The reader here did not see that error, as it is only in the printed copy that the mistake shows up, since I took the liberty of presenting the corrected sentence that the Editors mention above -- which is in the article just before this one.]
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(1) Science, November 5, 1926.
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(2) Revue d'Optique, September, 1926.
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(3) Science, March 18, 1927.
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(4) Science News-Letter, April 9, 1927.
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