[Note: the following represents the opening Reply to “Some Inquiries Suggested by Mr. Sinnett’s ‘Esoteric Buddhism’”]
It was not in contemplation, at the outset of the work begun in Fragments, to deal as fully with the scientific problems of cosmic evolution as now seems expected. A distinct promise was made, as Mr. Sinnett is well aware, to acquaint the readers with the outlines of Esoteric doctrines and—no more. A good deal would be given, much more kept back.
This seeming unwillingness to share with the world some of Nature’s secrets that may have come into the possession of the few, arises from causes quite different from the one generally assigned. It is not SELFISHNESS erecting a Chinese wall between occult science and those who would know more of it, without making any distinction between the simply curious profane, and the earnest, ardent seeker after truth. Wrong and unjust are those who think so; who attribute to indifference for other people’s welfare a policy necessitated, on the contrary, by a far-seeing universal philanthropy; who accuse the custodians of lofty physical and spiritual though long rejected truths, of holding them high above the people’s heads. In truth, the inability to reach them lies entirely with the seekers. Indeed, the chief reason among many others for such a reticence, at any rate, with regard to secrets pertaining to physical sciences—is to be sought elsewhere.1 It rests entirely on the impossibility of imparting that the nature of which is at the present stage of the world’s development, beyond the comprehension of the would-be learners, however intellectual and however scientifically trained may be the latter. This tremendous difficulty is now explained to the few, who, besides having read “Esoteric Buddhism,” have studied and understood the several occult axioms approached in it. It is safe to say that it will not be even vaguely realized by the general reader, but will offer the pretext for sheer abuse. Nay, it has already.
It is simply that the gradual development of man’s seven principles and physical senses has to be coincident and on parallel lines with Rounds and Root-races. Our fifth race has so far developed but its five senses. Now, if the Kama or Will-principle of the “Fourth-rounders” has already reached that stage of its evolution when the automatic acts, the unmotivated instincts and impulses of its childhood and youth, instead of following external stimuli, will have become acts of will framed constantly in conjunction with the mind (Manas), thus making of every man on earth of that race a free agent, a fully responsible being—the Kama of our hardly adult fifth race is only slowly approaching it. As to the sixth sense of this, our race, it has hardly sprouted above the soil of its materiality. It is highly unreasonable, therefore, to expect for the men of the fifth to sense the nature and essence of that which will be fully sensed and perceived but by the sixth—let alone the seventh race—i.e., to enjoy the legitimate outgrowth of the evolution and endowments of the future races with only the help of our present limited senses. The exceptions to this quasi-universal rule have been hitherto found only in some rare cases of constitutional, abnormally precocious individual evolutions; or, in such, where by early training and special methods, reaching the stage of the fifth rounders, some men in addition to the natural gift of the latter have fully developed (by certain occult methods) their sixth, and in still rarer eases their seventh, sense. As an instance of the former class may be cited the Seeress of Prevorst; a creature born out of time, a rare precocious growth, ill adapted to the uncongenial atmosphere that surrounded her, hence a martyr ever ailing and sickly. As an example of the other, the Count St. Germain may be mentioned. Apace with the anthropological and physiological development of man runs his spiritual evolution. To the latter, purely intellectual growth is often more an impediment than a help. An instance: radiant stuff—“the fourth state of matter”—has been hardly discovered, and no one—the eminent discoverer himself not excepted—has yet any idea of its full importance, its possibilities, its connection with physical phenomena, or even its bearing upon the most puzzling scientific problems. How then can any “Adept” attempt to prove the fallacy of much that is predicated in the nebular and solar theories when the only means by which he could successfully prove his position is an appeal to, and the exhibition of, that sixth sense-consciousness which the physicist cannot postulate? Is not this plain?
Thus, the obstacle is not that the “Adepts” would “forbid inquiry,” but rather the personal, present limitations of the senses of the average, and even of the scientific man. To undertake the explanation of that which at the outset would be rejected as a physical impossibility, the outcome of hallucination, is unwise and even harmful, because premature. It is in consequence of such difficulties that the psychic production of physical phenomena—save in exceptional cases—is strictly forbidden.
And now, “Adepts” are asked to meddle with astronomy—a science which, of all the branches of human knowledge has yielded the most accurate information, afforded the most mathematically correct data, and of the achievements in which the men of science feel the most justly proud! It is true that on the whole astronomy has achieved triumphs more brilliant than those of most other sciences. But if it has done much in the direction of satisfying man’s straining and thirsting mind and his noble aspirations for knowledge, physical as to its most important particulars, it has ever laughed at man’s puny efforts to wrest the great secrets of Infinitude by the help of only mechanical apparatus. While the spectroscope has shown the probable similarity of terrestrial and sidereal substance, the chemical actions peculiar to the variously progressed orbs of space have not been detected, nor proven to be identical with those observed on our own planet. In this particular, Esoteric Psychology may be useful. But who of the men of science would consent to confront it with their own handiwork? Who of them would recognise the superiority and greater trustworthiness of the Adept’s knowledge over their own hypotheses, since in their case they can claim the mathematical correctness of their deductive reasonings based on the alleged unerring precision of the modern instruments; while the Adepts can claim but their knowledge of the ultimate nature of the materials they have worked with for ages, resulting in the phenomena produced. However much it may be urged that a deductive argument, besides being an incomplete syllogistic form, may often be in conflict with fact; that their major propositions may not always be correct, although the predicates of their conclusions seem correctly drawn—spectrum analysis will not be acknowledged as inferior to purely spiritual research. Nor, before developing his sixth sense, will the man of science concede the error of his theories as to the solar spectrum, unless he abjure, to some degree at least, his marked weakness for conditional and disjunctive syllogisms ending in eternal dilemmas. At present the “Adepts” do not see any help for it. Were these invisible and unknown profanes to interfere with—not to say openly contradict—the dicta of the Royal Society, contempt and ridicule, followed by charges of crass ignorance of the first elementary principles of modern science would be their only reward; while those who would lend an ear to their “vagaries,” would be characterized immediately as types of the “mild lunatics” of the age. Unless, indeed, the whole of that august body should be initiated into the great Mysteries at once, and without any further ado or the preliminary and usual preparations or training, the F. R. S.’s could be miraculously endowed with the required sixth sense, the Adepts fear the task would be profitless. The latter have given quite enough, little though it may seem, for the purposes of a first trial. The sequence of martyrs to the great universal truths has never been once broken; and the long list of known and unknown sufferers, headed with the name of Galileo, now closes with that of Zöllner. Is the world of science aware of the real cause of Zöllner’s premature death? When the fourth dimension of space becomes a scientific reality like the fourth state of matter, he may have a statue raised to him by grateful posterity. But this will neither recall him to life, nor will it obliterate the days and months of mental agony that harassed the soul of this intuitional, far-seeing, modest genius, made even after his death to receive the donkey’s kick of misrepresentation and to be publicly charged with lunacy.
Hitherto, astronomy could grope between light and darkness only with the help of the uncertain guidance offered it by analogy. It has reduced to fact and mathematical precision the physical motion and the paths of the heavenly bodies, and—no more. So far, it has been unable to discover with any approach to certainty the physical constitution of either sun, stars, or even cometary matter. Of the latter, it seems to know no more than was taught 5,000 years ago by the official astronomers of old Chaldea and Egypt—namely, that it is vaporous, since it transmits the rays of stars and planets without any sensible obstruction. But let the modern chemist be asked to tell one whether this matter is in any way connected with, or akin to, that of any of the gases he is acquainted with; or again, to any of the solid elements of his chemistry. The probable answer received will be very little calculated to solve the world’s perplexity; since, all hypotheses to the contrary notwithstanding, cometary matter does not appear to possess even the common law of adhesion or of chemical affinity. The reason for it is very simple. And the truth ought long ago to have dawned upon the experimentalists, since our little world (though so repeatedly visited by the hairy and bearded travellers, enveloped in the evanescent veil of their tails, and otherwise brought in contact with that matter) has neither been smothered by an addition of nitrogen gas, nor deluged by an excess of hydrogen, nor yet perceptibly affected by a surplus of oxygen. The essence of cometary matter must be—and the “Adepts” say is—totally different from any of the chemical or physical characteristics with which the greatest chemists and physicists of the earth are familiar—all recent hypotheses to the contrary notwithstanding. It is to be feared that before the real nature of the elder progeny of Mula Prakriti is detected, Mr. Crookes will have to discover matter of the fifth or extra radiant state; et seq.
Thus, while the astronomer has achieved marvels in the elucidation of the visible relations of the orbs of space, he has learnt nothing of their inner constitution. His science has led him no farther towards a reading of that inner mystery than has that of the geologist, who can tell us only of the earth’s superficial layers, and that of the physiologist, who has until now been able to deal only with man’s outer shell, or Sthula Sarira. Occultists have asserted, and go on asserting daily, the fallacy of judging the essence by its outward manifestations, the ultimate nature of the life-principle by the circulation of the blood, mind by the gray matter of the brain, and the physical constitution of sun, stars and comets by our terrestrial chemistry and the matter of our own planet. Verily and indeed, no microscopes, spectroscopes, telescopes, photometers, or other physical apparatuses can ever be focussed on either the macro- or micro-cosmical highest principles, nor will the mayavirupa of either yield its mystery to physical inquiry. The methods of spiritual research and psychological observation are the only efficient agencies to employ. We have to proceed by analogy in everything to be sure. Yet the candid men of science must very soon find out that it is not sufficient to examine a few stars—a handful of sand, as it were, from the margin of the shoreless, cosmic ocean—to conclude that these stars are the same as all other stars—our earth included; that, because they have attained a certain very great telescopic power, and gauged an area enclosed in the smallest of spaces when compared with what remains, they have, therefore, concurrently perfected the survey of all that exists within even that limited space. For, in truth, they have done nothing of the kind. They have had only a superficial glance at that which is made visible to them under the present conditions, with the limited power of their vision. And even though it were helped by telescopes of a hundred-fold stronger power than that of Lord Rosse, or the new Lick Observatory, the case would not alter. No physical instrument will ever help astronomy to scan distances of the immensity of which that of Sirius, situated at the trifle of 130,125,000,000,000 miles away from the outer boundary of the spherical area, or even that of (a) Capella, with its extra trifle of 295,355,000,000,0002 miles still farther away, can give them, as they themselves are well aware, the faintest idea. For, though an Adept is unable to cross bodily (i.e., in his astral shape) the limits of the solar system, yet he knows that, far stretching beyond the telescopic power of detection, there are systems upon systems, the smallest of which would, when compared with the system of Sirius, make the latter seem like an atom of dust embedded in the great Shamo desert. The eye of the astronomer, who thinks he also knows of the existence of such systems, has never rested upon them, has never caught of them, even that spectral glimpse, fanciful and hazy as the incoherent vision in a slumbering mind that he has occasionally had of other systems, and yet he verily believes he has gauged INFINITUDE! And yet these immeasurably distant worlds are brought as clear and near to the spiritual eye of the astral astronomer as a neighbouring bed of daisies may be to the eye of the botanist.
Thus, the “Adepts” of the present generation, though unable to help the profane astronomer by explaining the ultimate essence, or even the material constitution, of star and planet, since European science, knowing nothing as yet of the existence of such substances, or more properly of their various states or conditions, has neither proper terms for, nor can form any adequate idea of them by any description, they may, perchance, be able to prove what this matter is not—and this is more than sufficient for all present purposes. The next best thing to learning what is true is to ascertain what is not true.
Having thus anticipated a few general objections, and traced a limit to expectations, since there is no need of drawing any veil of mystery before “An English F. T. S.,” his few questions may be partially answered. The negative character of the replies draws a sufficiently strong line of demarcation between the views of the Adepts and those of Western science to afford some useful hints at least.
[Note: for the above-mentioned answers, see “Some Inquiries Suggested by Mr. Sinnett’s ‘Esoteric Buddhism’”]
1. Needless to remind AN ENGLISH F. T. S. that what is said here, applies only to secrets the nature of which when revealed will not be turned into a weapon against humanity in general, or its units—men. Secrets of such class could not be given to any one but a regular chela of many years’ standing and during his successive initiations; mankind as a whole has first to come of age, to reach its majority, which will happen but toward the beginning of its sixth race—before such mysteries can be safely revealed to it. The vril is not altogether a fiction, as some chelas and even “lay” chelas know.
2. The figures are given from the mathematical calculations of exoteric Western astronomy. Esoteric astronomy may prove them false some day.