THEOSOPHY, Vol. 26, No. 1, November, 1937
(Pages 16-21; Size: 18K)
(Number 74 of a 103-part series)


(Part I of II)

EVOLUTION is simply the struggle of Self to free itself from partial viewpoints. Most men see readily enough that knowledge consists in extending understanding from the immediately personal to an increasing area of wider concerns. What is generally overlooked is that, since evolution is a time-function, there is still greater necessity of extending cognition in time. The "prehistoric" westward migration of the Aryan tribes from the trans-Himalayan regions to the extension of the Asian continent later called Europe, and its attending circumstances, is a vital matter to the mid-western American farmer of today. The only reason why history is often regarded as of no practical value is the complete obliviousness of both teacher and pupil to the law of cause and effect. Knowledge of the continuous unity of all events makes past and present one -- renders the latter understandable, hence governable, in the light of the former.

To the scientist, the importance of the past reaches only so far back as may lie some publication or lecture the speculations of which have not yet been fully explored or exploited by others. He seems unaware that he is trying to deal by momentary cross-sections with a growing tree, the entire form of which is composed of cross-sections of the past as well as of the present, and the totality of which alone can point to the form of the future growth. Only this view of events can shed light on the whole nature of space-matter-mind relationships which are of the stuff of real knowledge.

The further the phenomena of the Universe are investigated, the more they all seem to integrate into a logical frame -- progressive evidence that the Universe is intelligently organized. The plea of "unconscious natural law" as the "organizer" is ridiculous to any real thinker; for, assuming that there are happenings in the universe occurring independently of consciousness and purpose, they could never be subject to perception by any conscious being. If the human mind is able to understand certain parts of the universe through their logical arrangement, the mind must also be encompassing to a degree, not merely the material arrangement of things, but the logical thought which was the framework of that arrangement. There is no reason to assume that the happenings of the universe can be divided into one category where thought is essential, and another where it is non-existent.

The conscientious scientist -- or any conscientious thinker -- does not learn something new to consciousness in the process of understanding more and more of universal phenomena, but rather is preparing himself, by consciously assimilating the work of those who have preceded him, to repeat their task some day on another scale; perchance to carry it farther in one or another direction. He is a pioneer only in relation to our present human horizons; in reality, he is a pupil whose curious relation to the objects he studies is such that, insensibly to himself, he subtly alters them in the very act of investigation.

Thus altering the nature and bearing of what has been done by others, each man, in following a path taken by millions before him, nevertheless traverses a path peculiar to himself, leaving behind him a condition differing somewhat from what had existed before, and differing from that which any other man would have left in dealing with the same circumstances. For instance, it is impossible to study closely the unaltered habits of wild animals. Either one must first modify their habits by getting them accustomed to him, by imprisonment or some less radical means; or he must remain at such distance from them that only the most fragmentary observation is possible. This is precisely the dilemma confronting modern science with regard to the electron.

But before we devote attention to this popular problem, let us consider the idea that the logical framework which is the field of science has been previously built by logical minds. In it are resident implications which are the only explanation of certain historical phenomena known to every well-read student. They suggest that human knowledge takes a logical direction of growth conditioned by three factors: the will, the intelligence, the honesty -- in a word, the character -- of the investigator; the nature of the phenomena investigated; and aid or hindrance from classes of intelligence ranging from those highly enough evolved to have performed a conscious creative function in the production of the phenomena, down to the intelligences only slightly more advanced in understanding than the investigator himself.

In view of the possibility of such "aid or hindrance," why, it may be asked, should anything evil be "permitted"? The answer is that the Intelligence in nature consists of countless degrees of beings, from earthworm to far beyond man, to none of which can either omniscience or omnipotence, except in a highly relative sense, be ascribed.

No one or all the intelligent forces of nature can prevent any being from acting at will within the radius determined by past Karmic lines; and the radius of free action of man himself -- good, bad, or indifferent -- is far vaster than he supposes. The one power from which no being can escape is Law; in other words, no being can escape the essential tendency toward spiritual equilibrium in its own nature, even though the final adjustment thereof may require reduction to primordial matter.

In a word, the intervention of a higher being in the action of a lower is circumscribed in countless ways by the past relations and the present individual powers and responsibilities of the two. Our human experience reveals that all too frequently attempts at such benevolent intervention only initiate a long series of fresh and worse consequences. Verily is "the duty of another full of danger"! Intervention by those who know is rare indeed, and occurs only under pressure of dire necessity, and with the voluntary assumption of resulting Karmic bonds.

The basic conceptions of science have altered since the turn of the century; but we still retain the residues of that materialism which has given tacit justification of passion, crime, war and murder. This animalization of humanity, which almost destroyed civilization -- still threatens to destroy it -- was derived from "serums" injected by Haeckel and his ilk, who at the initiation of the Theosophical Movement dominated the field of Western thought. No such spirit, however, animates the views of such present present-day leaders of science as Jeans, Haldane, Millikan and others. If civilization survives until the public catches up with such thinkers there are bright hopes for the future.

It would, however, be rash to claim the change as due to any great direct influence of the Movement, so far as these men are concerned. Their convictions are simply the inevitable reaction between intelligent minds and the emerging facts of physical nature. But the manner in which that reaction has developed provides significant evidence that the power of the Movement is not confined to articles, lectures, meetings, and classes.

H. P. Blavatsky predicted that when protyle should become accepted, chemistry would have virtually ceased to live, becoming reincarnated as "New Alchemy, or METACHEMISTRY."(1) That time has arrived.

"Protyle," as she made clear, is the basic building block of physical matter; in other words, the electronic state of substance, which, as also stated by H.P.B., is closely allied to hydrogen.(2)

The peculiar place of hydrogen in the passage of matter from electronic to solid states will be recognized by any chemist. "Protyle is then the aspect assumed by matter in its middle passage into full objectivity."(3) It is the existence of a phase of "protyle" which is not objective that renders electronic physics such a desperate puzzle at the present moment.

These developments are precisely what have destroyed materialism in real science. Can one then mistake the implication of a prophecy which set forth, as to the crucial discoveries leading up to the present condition:

1. The years during which the discoveries would develop;

2. The apparently accidental nature of the discoveries;

3. The enormous magnitude of the discoveries as they actually have developed?

The prophecy itself was succinct enough:
The exact extent, depth, breadth, and length of the mysteries of Nature are to be found only in Eastern esoteric sciences. So vast and so profound are these that hardly a few, a very few of the highest Initiates -- those whose very existence is known but to a small number of Adepts -- are capable of assimilating the knowledge. Yet it is all there, and one by one facts and processes in Nature's workshops are permitted to find their way into the exact Sciences, while mysterious help is given to rare individuals in unravelling its arcana. It is at the close of great Cycles, in connection with racial development, that such events generally take place. We are at the very close of the cycle of 5,000 years of the present Aryan Kaliyuga; and between this time and 1897 there will be a large rent made in the Veil of Nature, and materialistic science will receive a death-blow. (S.D. I, 611-12.)
As to the current evidence in verification, we shall let Dr. Karl Compton speak:
The history of science abounds with instances where a new concept or discovery has led to tremendous advances into vast new fields ... whose very existence has hitherto been unsuspected. The discoveries of Galileo, Faraday, and Pasteur are such instances. But to my notion, no such instance has been so dramatic as the discovery of the electron, the tiniest thing in the universe, which within one generation has transformed a stagnant science of physics, a descriptive science of chemistry and a sterile science of astronomy into dynamically developing sciences fraught with intellectual adventure, interrelating interpretations and practical values.(4)
How, then, shall we regard H. P. Blavatsky's prophecy? Suppose that an individual makes a prophecy of events which are to move the race mightily toward a more spiritual point of view; is it not common sense to assume that this individual had foreknowledge of events which were planned in advance -- was, perhaps, a co-worker in bringing them about?

In actual fact, Madame Blavatsky's participation is in plain sight. Sir William Crookes, whose discoveries paved the way for electronics, was one of the early members of the Theosophical Society -- as was Edison -- and the impact of Theosophical ideas vastly stimulated his mind. But in its further developments, the fulfilment of her prediction entered fields which would be called by the superstitious "magical" or "mystic." For they transpired at the anticipated time, years after Madame Blavatsky's death, and without the apparent intervention of anyone connected with the Movement.

Curiously, Sir William himself missed the discovery by a hair's breadth. Says Dr. Compton:

Once, while attempting to photograph the appearance of a discharge at very low gas pressure, Crookes was bothered by the fact that all the photographic plates in the room with his apparatus became fogged, as if light-struck in spite of their opaque wrapping. He avoided the trouble subsequently, however, by keeping his new supply of plates in another room until, one at a time, they were wanted for use. Thus he solved an experimental difficulty and missed making a great discovery.

At about the same time, Roentgen, in Germany, was trying the same experiment, and he too was troubled by the fogging of his photographic plates. But, as the story goes, his laboratory assistant called his attention to the peculiar fact that these fogged plates, when developed, showed the image of a bunch of keys which had accidentally been lying on top of the box of plates while the electrical discharge experiments were in operation. Roentgen immediately looked into this and discovered that the fogging was due to penetrating radiations produced in the discharge tube.... Thus by accident were X-rays discovered, that type of accident not uncommon in science when an observant experimenter is at work.

An "accident" which wrecked the whole structure of materialistic dogma and changed the history of the world! Certainly, no such development would come as a blinding revelation out of the blue sky. Nature, of which human Karma is part, does not work that way, and the unseen accelerators of "natural" events proceed faithfully from cause to effect in their efforts, sowing seed only on prepared ground. This "field" had been tilled for a long time, as Dr. Compton points out:
In science, as in human affairs, great events do not occur without a background of development. The electron has an ancestry which can be traced back through the centuries. Its immediate progenitors were the electromagnetic theory of light, spectroscopy, and the leakage of electricity through gases. First cousins were X-rays and radioactivity and quantum theory, for, out of a background of long investigation and of bewildering and apparently unrelated phenomena, there burst upon the scientific world the X-ray in 1895, radioactivity in 1896, and the electron in 1897 -- all while investigators in the older fields of heat radiation and thermodynamics were finding those bothersome inconsistencies in these hitherto respectable subjects ... the concept of the electron ... is now the basis of most of our interpretation....

That only the pioneers of the scientific world were prepared for these discoveries, however, is witnessed by the fact that a standard text-book of chemistry widely used in my student days in 1904 stated that, "atoms are the indivisible constituents of molecules," and as late as 1911 a prominent physicist warned his colleagues not to be too hasty in accepting these newfangled ideas.

It is interesting to tabulate the lines of discovery which converged in those fateful years:
Polarization of light in a magnetic field.
Preliminary discovery of the electron.
Definite discovery of the electron.

Was it, or was it not, "between this time [1888] and 1897" that a "large rent" was made in "the Veil of Nature?"

How this "rent" became the "death-blow of materialism" will be a subject for subsequent treatment.

Next article:
(Part II of II)
(Part 75 of a 103-part series)

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(1) The Secret Doctrine, 1888, I, 622.
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(2) Ibid., II, 105.
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(3) Ibid., I, 598 fn.
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(4) President of the Mass. Institute of Technology, address as retiring President, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Science, Jan. 8, 1937.
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