THE UNIVERSAL PROTEUS
To comprehend my answers you will have first of all to view the eternal Essence, the Svabhavat not as a compound element you call spirit-matter, but as the one element for which the English has no name. It is both passive and active, pure Spirit Essence in its absoluteness and repose, pure matter in its finite and conditioned state - even as an imponderable gas or that great unknown which science has pleased to call Force. When poets talk of the "shoreless ocean of immutability" we must regard the term but as a jocular paradox, since we maintain that there is no such thing as immutability - not in our Solar system at least. Immutability, say the theists and Christians, "is an attribute of God", and forthwith they endow that God with every mutable and variable quality and attribute, knowable as unknowable, and believe that they have solved the unsolvable and squared the circle. To this we reply, if that which the theists call God, and science "Force" and "Potential Energy" were to become immutable but for one instant even during the mahapralaya, a period when even Brahm the creative architect of the world is said to have merged into non-being, then there could be no manvantara, and space alone would reign unconscious and supreme in the eternity of time.
Nevertheless, Theism when speaking of mutable immutability is no more absurd than materialistic science talking of "latent potential energy", and the indestructibility of matter and force. What are we to believe as indestructible? Is it the invisible something that moves matter or the energy of moving bodies! What does modern science know of force proper, or say the forces, the cause or causes of motion? How can there be such a thing as potential energy, i.e., an energy having latent inactive power since it is energy only while it is moving matter, and that if it ever ceased to move matter it would cease to be, and with it matter itself would disappear? Is force any happier term? Some thirty-five years back a Dr. Mayer offered the hypothesis now accepted as an axiom that force, in the sense given it by modern science, like matter, is indestructible; namely, when it ceases to be manifest in one form it still exists and has only passed into some other form. And yet your men of science have not found a single instance where one force is transformed into another, and Mr. Tyndall tells his opponents that "in no case is the force producing the motion annihilated or changed into anything else".
Moreover we are indebted to modern science for the novel discovery that there exists a quantitative relation between the dynamic energy producing something and the 'something' produced. Undoubtedly there exists a quantitative relation between cause and effect, between the amount of energy used in breaking one's neighbour's nose, and the damage done to that nose, but this does not solve one bit more the mystery of what they are pleased to call correlations, since it can be easily proved (and that on the authority of that same science) that neither motion nor energy is indestructible and that the physical forces are in no way or manner convertible one into another. I will cross-examine them in their own phraseology and we will see whether their theories are calculated to serve as a barrier to our "astounding doctrines". Preparing as I do to propound a teaching diametrically opposed to their own it is but just that I should clear the ground of scientific rubbish lest what I have to say should fall on a too encumbered soil and only bring forth weeds.
"This potential and imaginary materia prima cannot exist without form", says Raleigh, and he is right in so far that the materia prima of science exists but in their imagination. Can they say the same quantity of energy has always been moving the matter of the Universe? Certainly not so long as they teach that when the elements of the material cosmos, elements which had first to manifest themselves in their uncombined gaseous state, were uniting, the quantity of matter-moving energy was a million times greater than it is now when our globe is cooling off. For where did the heat that was generated by this tremendous process of building up a universe go to? To the unoccupied chambers of space, they say. Very well, but if it is gone for ever from the material universe and the energy operative on earth has never and at no time been the same, then how can they try to maintain the "unchangeable quantity of energy", that potential energy which a body may sometimes exert, the FORCE which passes from one body to another producing motion and which is not yet "annihilated or changed into anything else"?
"Aye," we are answered, "but we still hold to its indestructibility; while it remains connected with matter, it can never cease to be, or less or more." Let us see whether it is so.
I throw a brick up to a mason who is busy building a roof of a temple. He catches it and cements it in the roof. Gravity overcame the propelling energy which started the upward motion of the brick, and the dynamic energy of the ascending brick until it ceased to ascend. At that moment it was caught and fastened to the roof. No natural force could now move it, therefore it possesses no longer potential energy. The motion and the dynamic energy of the ascending brick are absolutely annihilated. Another example from their own text books. You fire a gun upward from the foot of a hill and the ball lodges in a crevice of the rock on that hill. No natural force can, for an indefinite period, move it, so the ball as much as the brick has lost its potential energy. "All the motion and energy which was taken from the ascending ball by gravity is absolutely annihilated, no other motion or energy succeeds and gravity has received no increase of energy." Is it not true then that energy is indestructible! How then is it that your great authority teaches the world that "in no case is the force producing the motion annihilated or changed into anything else"?
I am perfectly aware of your answer and give you these illustrations but to show how misleading are the terms used by scientists, how vacillating and uncertain their theories and finally how incomplete all their teachings. One more objection and I have done. They teach that all the physical forces rejoicing in specific names such as gravity, inertia, cohesion, light, heat, electricity, magnetism, chemical affinity, are convertible one into another? If so the force producing must cease to be as the force produced becomes manifest. "A flying cannon ball moves only from its own inherent force of inertia." When it strikes it produces heat and other effects but its force of inertia is not the least diminished. It will require as much energy to start it again at the same velocity as it did at first. We may repeat the process a thousand times and as long as the quantity of matter remains the same its force of inertia will remain the same in quantity. The same in the case of gravity.
A meteor falls and produces heat. Gravity is to be held to account for this, but the force of gravity upon the fallen body is not diminished. Chemical attraction draws and holds the particles of matter together, their collision producing heat. Has the former passed into the latter? Not in the least, since drawing the particles again together whenever these are separated, it proves that it, the chemical affinity, is not decreased, for it will hold them as strongly as ever together. Heat they say generates and produces electricity yet they find no decrease in the heat in the process. Electricity produces heat we are told? Electrometers show that the electrical current passes through some poor conductor, a platinum wire say, and heats the latter. Precisely the same quantity of electricity, there being no loss of electricity, no decrease. What then has been converted into heat? Again, electricity is said to produce magnetism.
I have on the table before me primitive electrometers in whose vicinity chelas come the whole day to recuperate their nascent powers. I do not find the slightest decrease in the electricity stored. The chelas are magnetized, but their magnetism or rather that of their rods is not that electricity under a new mask. No more than the flame of a thousand tapers lit at the flame of the Fo lamp is the flame of the latter. Therefore if by the uncertain twilight of modern science it is an axiomatic truth "that during vital processes the conversion only and never the creation of matter or force occurs" (Dr. J.R. Mayer's organic motion in its connection with nutrition) - it is for us but half a truth. It is neither conversion nor creation, but something for which science has yet no name.
Perhaps now you will be prepared to better understand the difficulty with which we will have to contend. Modern science is our best ally. Yet it is generally that same science which is made the weapon to break our heads with. However, you will have to bear in mind (a) that we recognize but one element in Nature (whether spiritual or physical) outside which there can be no Nature since it is Nature itself, * and which as the Akasha pervades our solar system, every atom being part of itself, pervades throughout space and is space in fact, which pulsates as in profound sleep during the pralayas, and [is] the universal Proteus, the ever active Nature during the manvantaras; (b) that consequently spirit and matter are one, being but a differentiation of states not essences, and that the Greek philosopher who maintained that the Universe was a huge animal penetrated the symbolical significance of the Pythagorean monad (which becomes two, then three Δ and finally, having become the tetraktis or the perfect square, thus evolving out of itself four and involuting three Δ, forms the sacred seven - and thus was far in advance of all the scientific men of the present time; (c) that our notions of 'cosmic matter' are diametrically opposed to those of western science. Perchance if you remember all this we will succeed in imparting to you at least the elementary axioms of our esoteric philosophy more correctly than heretofore . . . .
I will have to remain silent as to the Dhyan Chohans nor can I impart to you the secrets concerning the men of the seventh round. The recognition of the higher phases of man's being on this planet is not to be attained by mere acquirement of knowledge. Volumes of the most perfectly constructed information cannot reveal to man life in the higher regions. One has to get a knowledge of spiritual facts by personal experience and from actual observation, for as Tyndall puts it, "facts looked directly at are vital, when they pass into words half the sap is taken out of them". . . .
Men seek after knowledge until they weary themselves to death, but even they do not feel very impatient to help their neighbour with their knowledge; hence there arises a coldness, a mutual indifference which renders him who knows inconsistent with himself and inharmonious with his surroundings. Viewed from our standpoint the evil is far greater on the spiritual than on the material side of man: hence my sincere thanks to you and desire to urge your attention to such a course as shall aid a true progression and achieve wider results by turning your knowledge into a permanent teaching in the form of articles and pamphlets.
But for the attainment of your proposed object, viz., for a clearer comprehension of the extremely abstruse and at first incomprehensible theories of our occult doctrine, never allow the serenity of your mind to be disturbed during your hours of literary labour, nor before you set to work. It is upon the serene and placid surface of the unruffled mind that the visions gathered from the invisible find a representation in the visible world. Otherwise you would vainly seek those visions, those flashes of sudden light which have already helped to solve so many of the minor problems and which alone can bring the truth before the eye of the soul. It is with jealous care that we have to guard our mind-plane from all the adverse influences which daily arise in our passage through earth-life . . . .
Such a development of your psychical powers of hearing, as you name - the siddhi of hearing occult sounds - would not be at all the easy matter you imagine. It was never done to any one of us, for the iron rule is that which powers one gets he must himself acquire. And when acquired and ready for use the powers lie dumb and dormant in their potentiality like the wheels and clockwork inside a musical box; and only then does it become easy to wind up the key and set them in motion. . . . Yet every earnestly disposed man may acquire such powers practically. That is the finality of it; there are no more distinctions of persons in this than there are as to whom the sun shall shine upon or the air give vitality to. There are the powers of all Nature before you; take what you can . . . .
I have asked H.P.B. to send you a number of philosophical letters from a Dutch Theosophist at Penang - one in whom I take an interest; you ask for more work and here is some. They are translations, originals of those portions of Schopenhauer which are most in affinity with our Arhat doctrines. The English is not idiomatic but the material is valuable. Should you be disposed to utilize any portion of it, I would recommend your opening a direct correspondence with Mr. Sanders, F.T.S. - the translator. Schopenhauer's philosophical value is so well known in the western countries that a comparison or connotation of his teachings upon will, etc., with those you have received from ourselves might be instructive . . . .
* Not in the sense of Natus 'born', but Nature as the sum total of everything visible and invisible, of forms and minds, the aggregate of the known (and unknown) causes and effects, the universe, in short, infinite and uncreated and endless, as it is without a beginning.