Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Part X - The Two Kinds of Knowledge
Part XI - Physics and Metaphysics
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When we are prepared to recognize that imagination comes from within and that every sensation is received from without, and that these two represent two complementary kinds of knowledge, neither of which is complete without the other, we realize the necessity of harmonizing our profound convictions and our recorded experience; and we know that, only by synthetically combining a normally awakened faith and a naturally developed reason is understanding possible.
On the other hand, as we have accumulated a vast amount of evidence pointing out the effect of a one-sided mind, let us consider what happens when either inherent or acquired knowledge is neglected, or when one of these is cultivated at the expense of the other. This evidence shows that either an ungovernable fanaticism or the more subtle emotions take complete possession of the mind, when our desires are permitted to usurp the function of a coordinating and directing will, and when logic, applied either to pure imagination or to exact observations, takes the place of a natural reasoning process.
Our Western civilization is the history of an age dominated by logic and divorced from understanding. During the Scholastic period the metaphysicians ignored the importance of acquired knowledge, and during the Newtonian period the scientists have refused to recognize not only the importance, but even the existence, of inherent knowledge (intuition). Just as the metaphysicians supported their speculations by logic, and in this way deduced a dogmatically formulated theology whose recognition they proceeded to enforce as a logically coherent religious system of divine origin according to scripture, so the physicists proceeded to apply logic to prima facie evidence and formulated a logically coherent theoretic structure of nature, which they presented with the assurance that it rested upon facts. The only essential difference between the two methods is this: while the metaphysicians placed logic above mathematics, the Newtonian physicists formulated their logic mathematically. But when physicists made exact measurements the basis for a mathematical logic, they failed to take into consideration that their measurements were only descriptive of the mechanical methods from which they were derived, and that the value of such mathematical logic is confined to the mechanical methods themselves which, instead of disclosing nature's way of working, present us with nature's reaction to external stimuli.
Nevertheless the nineteenth century physicists were in the habit of insisting that their logically formulated definitions could not be questioned because they were based not only upon exact observation but upon mathematical demonstration. The result was to give to a purely statistical physical mathematics a preeminence which belongs only to pure mathematics. Pure mathematics is fundamental in nature, while the quantitative mathematics employed by physical science is a convenient method of formulating a process of logical reasoning in mathematical terms as has been pointed out. It is an old maxim that mathematical demonstrations, when applied to cases involving conditions not included in the terms are contingent only. When the physicists introduce assumed quantities into their mathematical equations, not even the cleverest mathematician can solve these equations otherwise than in terms of the original assumptions. It is impossible to take from an equation any more than we put into it, but this is what the physicists do when they assign reality to conclusions reached by reasoning from data which in themselves are merely provisional assumptions.
Logic is a valuable assistant in every process of reasoning, whether expressed in words or in mathematical terms. Nevertheless it is only a formal method, whose verdict is qualified by the premise upon which it rests. Hence logic cannot be applied to the task of formulating scientific conclusions unless these conclusions can be referred back and related directly to a substantiated and concrete fact which, as such, must be complete and comprehensible in itself. But physical science has formulated theories and laws upon such incomprehensible abstractions as force, motion, etc., and in this way erected a logically coherent, theoretical superstructure, without any regard to a concrete foundation and without one solitary and comprehensible fact for this superstructure to rest upon.
While we must respect and admire the brilliant and ingenious research work of the many earnest and patient scientists, and at the same time recognize the value of the mass of isolated information which they have abstracted, no comprehensive picture of nature is possible until the scientists are prepared to view nature in a new light, so as to distinguish between theories and laws applicable to methods and the one and only principle fundamental to the whole of nature, the principle of action.
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The conception of two kinds of knowledge, of which the knowledge derived from the spiritual source is permanent and causal, while the knowledge derived from the material source relates to the continually changing effects, should make it evident that these two kinds of knowledge are complementary; or, in other words, that the religious convictions arising directly from within and the scientific information accumulated from without must be subject to a philosophical coordination, by which to gain an intellectual concept of both man and nature and of their relation to one another. That we have not succeeded in doing this is evidenced by the irreconcilable conflict between religion and science, each presented in the form of a logical formulation. This conflict has resulted only in breeding discord and intolerance, in fostering indifference to the real problems of life, and in ignoring such questions as man's responsibility to nature, to his fellows, and to himself.
As to the question of ethics and its application to human life, and the influences exercised respectively by religion and science, we find that, with the introduction of Christianity, ethics came to be regarded as a teaching distinctly associated with religion; and while, from the very first, the Church taught high moral precepts, it insisted upon making these precepts subservient to a dogmatically formulated belief. With the introduction of physical science the relation between ethics and religion continued unaltered, at least for a while, as the scientists themselves perpetuated the conventional belief in the complete separation between man and nature.
But as science progressed in the formulation of technical methods for controlling nature and utilizing her forces in the service of man, and as these methods tended to increase human efficiency and to change material conditions, the prestige of scientific pronouncements was gradually established. In the meantime other able minds, imbued with the spirit of scientific analysis, had been applying a process of logical reasoning to the question of ethics. Basing their logic upon experience, and viewing ethics from the standpoint of the rapidly changing conditions, they introduced the ethical doctrine of utilitarianism, which must be distinguished from the ethics laid down by the Church as a scriptural command and from the ethical doctrine of intuition as taught by some philosophers. As this new doctrine was completely divorced from any formulated belief and, besides, lent itself readily to the influence created by the rapidly changing conditions, this scientific doctrine soon began to assert itself not only in our economic life but in political and social life as well.
Instead of regarding ethics either as an abstract question of intuitively impressed duty or as a concrete question of utility, let us consider it as an important branch of knowledge, so as to relate ethics directly to the dynamic community and subject it to a synthetic analysis. In this way we must regard ethical values as the manifestation of two opposite influences respectively asserted by the permanent and transitory forces fundamental to the actions of both man and nature; and, as far as man is concerned, consider these influences as they manifest themselves in our lives as character and express themselves in thoughts, words, and deeds.
This enables us to recognize that such precepts, for instance, as were enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount possess real and permanent value, and must have been as effective a million years ago as they will be a million years hence; and that this is because their effect is unifying and preserving, and because their influence was established by the force derived from the spiritual pole of nature. Just to the extent that our inherent knowledge (intuition) is awakened and can respond to these precepts, so do they become an inner awareness, usually referred to as conscience. It is this still small voice that, as a permanent possession, we bring with us to experience, through which we acquire knowledge of another kind of distinctly opposite but more seductive values, created by a continually changing condition. But these values are transitory and, when considered by themselves, possess no real value except that which we ourselves give to them. In addition to this they are differentiating and therefore may prove themselves to be destructive in their effect. Nevertheless they are ethical values, because they represent influences coming from the material pole of nature, and, therefore, are as necessary to growth and progress as are the permanent values provided we can apply a balanced judgment to the task of coordinating them constructively.
Such balanced judgment necessitates the ability to draw a distinction between the real and the illusory values. In order to do this, these values Must be studied from two opposite standpoints, that of intuition and that of experience. When we confine our knowledge of ethics to that acquired by experience we learn, as did the utilitarians, that our moral standards and ethical concepts are continually changing and differ as do the conditions under which we live and work. But when we permit intuition to accompany experience we shall know that such difference in moral standards usually represents attempts to relate the two kinds of values, and that such attempts do not affect the permanent values, but only their interpretation and the manner in which they are applied to any particular condition. We can no more change the permanent ethical values than we can change a permanent and infinite time. Just as our estimate of time is continually being modified by the more or less absorbing work in which we are engaged, so our estimate of moral values is modified and colored by the degree to which we become attached to the conditions in which we live.
Any people or nation that refuses to recognize these two kinds of moral values and their important relation to each other must be content either to stagnate, as did the Christian world for many centuries, or to prepare blindly for its own destruction, as did the people of the nineteenth century when, under the domination of the scientific spirit of making a conquest of nature, they precipitated the world calamity for which an isolated religion and a one-sided empirical science are equally responsible. Ethics is neither religious nor scientific -- if anything it is both -- for ethics inheres in nature and expresses itself in all of nature's processes. Hence any religion or science that separates man from nature, that neglects to recognize man's responsibility to nature, and that considers its own pronouncements superior to or independent of ethical questions, lacks the cosmic basis for ethics, so urgently needed and now sought by serious thinkers, who will find it in nature when they have recognized it in themselves.
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That everything in nature is governed and controlled by rigidly enforced justice was confirmed by Newton when be declared that "to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." But, as Newton failed to recognize the real significance of his own pronouncement, he merely reduced this equivalence to a purely technical and meaningless "law of motion." This is explained by Newton's philosophic attitude to nature, in which he was largely influenced by Descartes, the philosopher to whom Voltaire referred in the statement: "This best of mathematicians made only romances in philosophy."
The Cartesian dualism, introduced by Descartes in contradistinction to the ideas expressed by Bruno and Galileo, divided nature into two distinctly separate compartments, soul and body. The soul he regarded as causal and defined as a spiritual and intelligent substance, while he regarded the body as representing the effect, which he defined as a material and mathematical extension. As this division did not conflict with the convention established by the Church, it appealed to Newton who, by a similar process of logical reasoning, proceeded to separate the efforts put forth from the effects accomplished, and by applying the term "action" to each of these, established an equivalence between them. It was upon the strength of this philosophy that Newton formulated his laws of motion and gravitation; and when physical science made these laws the foundation for its theoretical structure of nature, it not only endorsed, but it perpetuated this philosophic romancing.
In view of this, what justification is there for the emphatic and oft repeated assertion that the work and pronouncements of physical science rest exclusively upon facts subject to measurements? If the conception that forms the basis for the physicist's attitude and his method of studying nature is not philosophic, what is it? The question has been ignored because this conception is the result of long-established convention, and has become a possession that we fail to distinguish from the mind itself. While everything which the scientist measures and reasons about is observed through a mentally woven veil, the veil itself remains invisible, is unrecognized, and disregarded.
This convention was introduced during the early Christian era, as a distinct contrast to the conceptions recorded by the great pagan philosophers. To this convention we owe the idea of a complete separation between living man and a dead nature, and also the idea that nature was created for man's special benefit. It was with such ideas in mind that Newton proceeded to study nature's reactions to the methods of man, and this is the course which has been followed by scientists ever since. But it does not seem to have occurred to the physicists that the ability to react implies also the capacity to act, and that such capacity belongs exclusively to a living entity. Hence the very reactions themselves are confirmation that nature exists as the body of an entity, and that this body, like the body of man, is a composite of minor entities all capable of acting and being acted upon.
Viewing man's present attitude to nature, which under the influence of physical science remains antagonistic and militant, and realizing that, according to Newton's third law of motion, nature's responses are governed by man himself, it is evident that what we learn about nature by the present scientific methods is somewhat akin to what we learn about a dog by biting its tail. The pronounced aim of nineteenth century scientists was to conquer and control nature and to utilize its forces for the material values which scientific knowledge might bestow, regardless of the consequences of such attempt or of the responsibility attached to the use of such methods. While we may recognize the material value derived from such purely technical knowledge, we can no longer remain blind to its destructive and demoralizing aspect, which will continue to assert itself more and more until we succeed in relating and coordinating these transitory and destructive values with the permanent and unifying values, and in transforming them into constructive factors in the life and progress of humanity. This will be done when we recognize that ethics inheres in nature and is dynamic in its method of functioning.
When men of religion and men of science succeed in rending the blinding veil which for some fifteen hundred years has been separating man from nature, they will recognize, as some of them are already doing, that man is something more than a mere observer, and that he is an actor fulfilling his part in the great drama of life in which the whole of nature is engaged. It is by action that men become united or separated, and it is by our actions that we determine our relation to nature. The philosophy of action is the foundation of all true teachings, whether expressed by men of religion or of science, and such teachings must incorporate the precept of ancient philosophers:
Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard thee as one of her creators and make obeisance.
That a new and brighter day is dawning for our modern civilization is clearly indicated by the growing tendency among earnest men of religion to reject the dogmas of the Church, and among progressive men of science to acknowledge the insufficiency of formulated theories and to study nature in a larger way. It is only the shadows of the past, so persistently staring us in the face, which are preventing our foremost thinkers from recognizing that the road leading to understanding is just around the corner. This was pointed out by such early pioneers as Bruno and Galileo, but because these shadows were still too dense, most of their precious seeds of thought fell upon barren ground.
When modern scientists become aware of man's kinship with nature, as some of them are doing already, they must discard the orthodox view of regarding themselves as mere observers in strange and incomprehensible surroundings, whose relation to man must be determined by yardsticks and higher mathematics. Furthermore, as soon as it becomes more generally recognized that man can observe and measure only what his mind permits him to perceive, scientific knowledge will no longer be confined to observations and measurements whose interpretations are made subservient to established habits of thought.
Physicists observe and take for granted that man can move and change and that he has the capacity to perform work; and when after some centuries of investigation they learned that everything in nature is moving and changing and that nature is likewise performing work, they took inertia to be the keystone of physical science and regarded everything beyond this keystone as teleological and outside the range of scientific research. But as physicists have never presented us with a satisfactory or justifiable reason for this assumption, other than Newton's idea of supernatural intervention, their attitude to nature is purely dogmatic.
When the physicists are prepared to study the workings of a nature of which man is the miniature as well as an integral part, they will base their assumption upon self-knowledge, and begin by regarding the moving and changing structures in nature as integral parts of the composite body of a cosmic entity which, like the parts of the composite body of man, have the capacity to act and to be acted upon, and will be prepared also to recognize that physical nature, like physical man, is a concreted picture of a multitude of organic activities.
Empirical science has been studying physical nature on the assumption that it existed as an independent reality, but more searching investigations have convinced many of the scientists themselves that physical nature is some kind of an illusion. As soon as we recognize that this illusion, this apparent reality, is a concreted picture of organic activities, this moving picture itself will mirror forth these activities. Thus we shall have evidence with which to confirm the existence of an active principle of causation. However, before the physical senses can observe this principle, the mind must have some definite ideas concerning it, so as to know what to look for and where and how to find it. In other words, we must bring something out of ourselves to experience before we can begin to recognize the existence of a dynamic principle in nature.
Organic activities are qualitative as contrasted with the quantitative, and metaphysical and causal to everything physical. If therefore the physical world is a concreted representation of an active metaphysical world, it should be possible to establish this scientifically. In considering this question we are reminded of the following statement of Kant:
Metaphysics has been the battlefield of many conflicts. . . . Never has metaphysics been so fortunate as to strike into the sure path of science, but has been groping about among mere ideas. What can be the reason for this failure? Is the science of metaphysics impossible? Then, why should Nature disquiet us with restless longing after it, as if it were one of our most important concerns? Nay more, how can we put any faith in human reason, if in one of the very things that we most desire to know, it not merely forsakes us, but lures us on by false hopes only to cheat us in the end? Or are there any indications that the true path has hitherto been missed, and that by starting afresh we may yet succeed where others have failed?
To these questions Kant himself replied by the following suggestion:
In metaphysical speculation it has always been assumed that all knowledge must conform to objects; the time has come to ask whether better progress may not be made by supposing that objects must conform to our knowledge?
This passage is from one of the prefaces to the Critique of Pure Reason, in which Kant formulated a community of dynamic relations. It should be noted, however, that because Kant's formulations were somewhat obscure and, on the whole, inimical to the conceptions of Newtonian physicists, no serious attempt was made to test Kant's dynamic community by making objects conform to it. Hence the value of Kant's suggestion is still undetermined and, in view of their general attitude to nature, it is not likely that any member of the scientific fraternity is prepared to undertake this task itself.
This dynamic community we have resurrected by deducing it from the direct evidence of man himself, and have introduced it into this discussion as representing the energy fundamental to action or to the performance of work, when the term "work" is used in its complete sense, as including both initiative and inertia, or cause and effect. It is this dynamic community that we propose to test by making objects conform to it, or in other words by making energy or action serve as a principle of analogy between the metaphysical and the physical world. As this test necessitates preparing the mind for the kind of evidence which the senses must learn to recognize, we shall begin by considering motion in its functional relation to the continuous movements in nature.
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The very idea of motion implies resistance, for without resistance there would be nothing to move and nothing by which to direct motion. This resistance is what we recognize as weight, and as this resistance cannot be disassociated from motion, weight is the physical magnitude of the force of motion.
Physicists recognize that all bodies, from an electron to a planet and a sun, have weight and exist in a ceaseless state of motion; but because they did not connect weight with continuous motion, they failed to recognize weight as the necessary resistance to motion, and this failure has been traced back to Newton, who attributed weight to attraction. We have already referred to this in Part VIII and shall point out here that Newton's reason for attributing weight to attraction was owing not only to deceptive appearances, but to his failure to distinguish between discontinuous local and continuous universal motion. Hence Newton based his conceptions of universal motion on the prima facie evidence of bodies upon the surface of the earth having weight whether at rest or in motion, without taking into consideration that these bodies have weight because they are integral parts of a continuously rotating planet.
When Newton observed that the weight of a body alters with its change of position relative to the earth, he attributed this change of weight to the attraction of the earth; but when the physicists learned that any change in the velocity of a body results in changing its weight, they should have recognized that this is just what happens whenever the position of a body on the surface of the earth is altered relative to the earth's center of rotation. While Newton's mistake was the natural result of his belief that God first created objects and afterwards set them in motion, the time has come for physicists to recognize that all objects are dependent upon motion for their very existence, and to begin to apply this knowledge logically.
When in view of the preponderance of evidence showing that all bodies have weight and exist in a continuous state of motion, we now connect weight with motion, and regard weight as functioning as the necessary resistance to motion, it follows that there must be something in nature which has the capacity to overcome resistance and make motion possible. In order to consider this question we must bear in mind also that as soon as we include resistance as an integral part of motion, we must recognize motion as a force; and, like Galileo, we must refer to motion as the secondary force in nature and begin to consider the existence of a primary force.
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From experience we learn that if we wish to overcome the resistance of a body for the purpose of removing it, we must apply a force in the direction in which we intend to move that body. When we try to apply this experience to the continuously moving bodies in nature, we are at a complete loss. We find that all these bodies have circular motions which, so to speak, return into themselves, and which therefore are directed towards every point of the compass. In addition to this we observe the still more significant fact, that these bodies can and do move in more than one direction at the same time.
A planet not only revolves about the sun but it also rotates upon its own axis and, in addition, is subject to the translatory motion of the entire solar system. Something similar is presumably true of an electron. When we consider the motions of man, the question becomes still more involved, for not only is man subject to all the motions of the earth, but he can move his arms and legs and other parts of his body in different directions at the same time. When we take such evidence into consideration, there appears to be but one thinkable solution to the question of a primary force, and that is an all-pervading, permanent and immovable field which as a force is opposite and complementary to motion, and which has the capacity to animate everything in nature, because this force is life itself.
This conception of an initial force, primary to the force of motion, is not new to those acquainted with the writings of Aristotle, from which we learn about a primary immovable mover (primum mobile immotum), which was regarded not as a mechanical but as an indivisible and incorporeal force and which "moves the world as the beloved object moves the lover."
This allegorical description which bears the earmarks of Plato, we shall consider after we have identified the manifestation of this force in physical nature. But we must call attention to the fact that the Newtonian physicists, who have been nursing the conceptions of nature which they inherited from the Christian Church, have been in the habit of rejecting such ancient conceptions as childish superstitions and fantastic speculations. It is also of interest to note that when the early theologians adapted Aristotle's philosophy and made it the basis for a Christian metaphysics, this immovable mover evidently reminded them too much of pagan influences. This accounts for their final disposal of the primary immovable mover, which, when last heard from, had found a resting-place in Dante's tenth heaven, where it so evidently has remained hidden ever since.
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The very idea of universal motion as it reveals itself in nature is inconceivable unless it can be related to something universally immovable; for, as Giordano Bruno expressed it, the mind is incapable of thinking apart from the conception of antitheses. On the other hand, when we try to conceive of a primary immovable mover in connection with the multitude of bodies in nature, all moving in different direction, and with varying velocities, it is evident that this cannot be accounted for by a force existing as an all-pervading and permanent field. The function of such a primary force must be confined therefore to that of neutralizing all bodily resistance by animating it. This should justify us in regarding the abstract conception of universal motion as mobilized resistance; and, when we think of motion in its relation to an immovable force, we obtain a more satisfactory explanation of the other much discussed and abstract conception, inertia, which is recognized as the keystone of physical science.
When, like Galileo, we eliminate the idea of supernatural intervention, and at the same time recognize that there is no actual rest anywhere in nature, we are justified in assuming (1) that inertia is a force impressed from within by a primary force; (2) that inertia manifests itself as a tendency in bodies to retain permanently such direction and velocity as had been imparted to their bodily resistance; and (3) that this inertial tendency is a direct reflection of the opposite tendency in the primary force, namely that of remaining permanently immovable.
The fundamental existence of two complementary universal forces, an immovable and a movable, demands the recognition of an additional force capable of linking and coordinating these opposite forces, and of determining the direction and velocity of each of the continuously moving bodies in nature, all of which have definite movements of their own. This directing force, we are therefore justified in assuming, must reside in each of these bodies and must be recognized in connection with the technically and much discussed term, mass.
As the identification of this directing force involves a consideration of evidence presented by physical science and also the question of the relation between energy and mass, this subject must be inquired into separately. However, we shall venture to anticipate this inquiry by stating that this directing force was referred to by Bruno, who recognized it as an inner impulse residing in everything, and who regarded this inner impulse as fundamental to the force of a magnet and to the force which makes drops of water and planets assume the shape best suited for their purposes and, in addition to this, indicated a correspondence between magnetism and will in man and nature. As we proceed we shall not only attempt to confirm this identification, but in addition shall point out a correspondence between the immovable mover and electricity and a similar correspondence between universal motion and electrified resistance.
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Let us pause to consider what it was that enabled Bruno to identify in magnetism a directing force in nature and to relate this force to the will in man. Bruno may be said to have explained this himself by his repeated references to the importance of self-knowledge and the necessity of experience. A noted scholar informs us that "Bruno is one of the first thinkers to realize that great thoughts are due to a long successive series of experiences" (Professor Hoffding: A History of Modern Philosophy). But in order to appreciate the full import of this comment, we must realize that this "long successive series of experiences" was by Bruno not confined to those of the Christian civilization, but referred particularly to those of a remote past, of which we are only quite recently beginning to get a real glimpse.
Bruno tried to revive the accumulated knowledge stored up by Pythagorean philosophers, to which he repeatedly referred throughout his writings and of which the world in general possessed only distorted conceptions. His aim evidently was to bridge the gap of some two thousand years and to forge a link between the recorded experiences of the remote past, from the knowledge of which the Christian civilization was cut off when, at the instigation of a fanatic Church, the Huns and Vandals burned the valuable libraries containing these ancient records and destroyed every trace of what were then looked upon as dangerous Pagan influences.
This is what lends special importance to a philosophy for the truth of which Bruno certified by making his own life its sponsor. As we proceed we shall take occasion to refer to Bruno's philosophy which, in spite of repeated assertions by modern commentators that "the condemnation of Bruno's philosophy is written in its neglect," we find mirrored forth by later philosophic writers who, however, failed to acknowledge their source. For the present we shall go directly to the ancient philosophers and present their metaphysical conception of a dynamic principle, with the object of testing this principle in the light of the experience recorded by physical science.
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Both orthodox religion and conventional science have been in the habit of regarding spirit and matter as something distinct and separate, having independent existence. But from the records of an ancient tradition we learn that spirit and matter (purusha and prakriti) were terms for designating the opposite poles or aspects of consciousness, and that this dual consciousness is fundamental to the vast multitude of organically constituted activities of which physical nature is concreted representations.
The inner and subjective pole of consciousness, spirit, was recognized as life, while the outer or objective pole, matter, was recognized as that which resists life. From this it follows that matter represents the necessary antithesis by which spirit reveals itself. Because the ancients knew from experience and self-knowledge that matter (resistance) is to be found nowhere except in connection with motion, they regarded motion as a universal material force in contradistinction to a universal spiritual force, and postulated a nature in which everything is the manifestation of life and consciousness.
When we now regard the force of motion, or what in physics in known as matter in motion, as that which can be perceived by the outer senses, and recognize that only the inner senses can perceive the spiritual life-force which makes the force of motion possible, we establish a necessary correspondence between the inner and outer aspects of perception and the inner and outer aspects of the physical objects perceived by the mind. It was upon the strength of such correspondences that the ancients formulated their conceptions of nature, and it is this method that we propose to employ.
When physical science confirmed the ancient conception of universal motion, by tracing matter back to something so intangible as the photonic waves out of which electrons are formed, some of the more progressive scientists, recognizing the inseparable connection between life and consciousness, began to consider the possibility of establishing a relation between consciousness and nature. But before the subject of consciousness can enter the scientific domain, the physicists must assume a correspondence between physical and metaphysical dynamics and recognize in the evidence of the former a representation of the latter, so as to utilize physical evidence as a means for testing the truth concerning a metaphysical nature in and behind the physical.
Hence when the ancient metaphysicians inform us that spirit and matter are the two inseparable aspects of life and consciousness, and experience tells us that only matter in motion can reveal life, and physical evidence shows that matter exists nowhere except in a state of motion, we must recognize that consciousness is everywhere, that everything in nature is alive, and that death, as an antithesis to life, is non-existent. Says Professor Bohr:
The fact that consciousness, as we know it, is inseparably connected with life, ought to prepare us for finding that the very problem of the distinction between the living and the dead escapes comprehension in the ordinary sense of the word. That a physicist touches upon such questions may perhaps be excused on the ground that the new situation in physics has so forcibly reminded us of the old truth that we are both onlookers and actors in the great drama of existence. -- Atomic Theory by Niels Bohr
The dilemma upon which the professor has put his finger can be removed as soon as we recognize death as an antithesis to birth, and that birth and death represent two complementary aspects of life as well as one of the numerous manifestations of a universal periodicity which, according to the ancients, was as necessary to a living nature as it is to living man.
The ancients recognized that because of their antinomous relation, spirit and matter can never meet, but can be intelligently coordinated and linked together in action as cause and effect. Hence they maintained that every action, manifesting itself in nature as the power to move, necessitates an actor, an entity capable of acting and of being acted upon, and that the work of nature must be directed by intelligent beings. This was their reason for recognizing in and behind all the physical structures of nature, from atoms to solar systems and universes, a vast assemblage of entities existing in various stages of development, and for referring to this assemblage as a living ladder serving as a bridge between the opposite poles of nature.
The ancients regarded Being as the real, or what in modern philosophy became known as the thing in itself. Beings were referred to as monads, and distinguished from the life-atom, a term applied to monads in manifestation or to the conditioned medium through which the monad expresses itself and manifests as a differentiated entity. The term "monad" was used by the Pythagoreans, who defined a point as "a monad having position and the beginning of things," and when Bruno introduced the Pythagorean monad into Western thought, he referred to it as "the innermost artist seated in the heart of all things." But the doctrine of monads is usually associated with the name of Leibnitz, which must be accounted for by the fact that Leibnitz's contributions to this subject did not mention the sources from which he drew his inspiration.
Since the time of Leibnitz, through the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, we have had the opportunity of learning much more concerning this profound doctrine of monads. In these later writings this doctrine is traced back to a very ancient teaching common to antiquity which filtered into the philosophic and religious systems existent previous to the Christian era. This ancient teaching as presented by H. P. Blavatsky was treated with the same indifference and neglect by modern scholars as was accorded the similar teaching when presented by Bruno. When this ancient teaching is assimilated by the progressive modern physicists, they will be able to relate the mass of valuable information which they have gathered to a knowledge based upon the experience of the ages and to turn their accumulated information into really progressive and beneficent channels. For this doctrine of monads provides a valuable key for solving the very problems which are facing physical science. This was indicated by Bruno when he stated:
The monad is the basis of physics and mathematics, for not only the forces and elements, but space and dimensions, testify to the existence of the monad, which as a physical and mathematical unity is metaphysical in essence.
This statement has been regarded as fantastic, as were those of the ancient Pythagoreans who, because they regarded the monad as the fundamental unit in nature, expressed this idea as follows:
Nature is derived from numbers.
Numbers are beings.
Number is the principle and cause of the material existence of things.
In order to show the real significance of such cryptic pronouncements we shall set forth briefly our own understanding of this recondite ancient doctrine, insofar as it pertains directly to metaphysical dynamics.
Monads, according to ancient teaching, are flaming sparks of intelligence from a ray of Divinity itself, each having its own distinguishing characteristics. All monads, because of their origin, are endowed with divine possibilities, with the urge to realize them, and with the power to fulfill this urge. To describe the manner in which the monad accomplishes this, let us assume the monad to be a center in a portion of the great ocean of consciousness. Out of this portion the monad conditions for itself a series of bodily mediums, serving as vehicles for a corresponding series of differentiated entities, life-atoms. In doing so the monad infills each life-atom with its own monadic essence, including its inherent urge and potential power, which the life-atom must learn to develop and express in a progressive series of experiences, through the efforts to sustain itself as an entity capable of acting and of being acted upon. According to this conception each life-atom is the manifestation of a divine monad, while the entire series of life-atoms must be regarded as monadic offsprings.
Before presenting a technical description of the conditioning process to which a life-atom is subjected, let us consider this process in the light of everyday experience. As every monad must be regarded as an integral part of the source from which it is derived, this source must continue to exert a permanent and unifying influence which by the monad is imparted to its life-atoms. But as each life-atom must function as an entity in different environments and under changing conditions, whose influences are necessarily transitory and differentiating, it follows that every life-atom, throughout all its progressive stages, is subjected to two opposite influences, one of which reveals itself as an inner spiritual urge while the other manifests as an external material resistance. It is by these two influences that the life-atom is conditioned, and it is these that the life-atom must learn to coordinate and link together in action in order to sustain itself in its progress as a differentiated entity; for such progress is determined by its ability to manifest its own potential powers and possibilities and to awaken the latent intelligence with which it is endowed.
During the progress of its life-atoms, the unconditioned monad remains unborn and undying, and its function, besides that of infilling the life-atoms with its own monadic essence, is to preserve the accumulated experiences of the life-atoms and to serve as their guide and guardian or "Silent Watcher."
While these life-atoms may be likened to the photons recognized by physicists, the monad is a purely philosophic conception, which as such can be recognized under different names in a number of philosophic systems of the past; and in order to show that Christianity also rests upon a similar philosophic foundation, we have only to consider what in the Bible is referred to as "the Father in secret," a conception which by the early theologians was perverted into an extraneous and anthropomorphic Deity.
It was from the standpoint of this purely mystical conception that the ancients interpreted nature. As a guide to such an interpretation they formulated, with the aid of symbolical geometry, a metaphysical technique based upon their understanding of the relation between the unmanifested monad and the manifested life-atoms. In order to show how this can be done, and probably was done, we shall return to the ancient symbols already introduced into this discussion.
As the Pythagoreans and other ancient philosophers symbolized a monad by a point, and duality by a line, let us return to the diagram, Fig. 2 (symbolizing an event as the union of an action and its equal and opposite reaction, as described in Parts III and IV), and consider the horizontal (dotted) line so mo symbolic of a portion of dual consciousness whose spiritual and material poles are respectively indicated by s' and m' and whose center o represents the position of the monad before proceeding to condition a life-atom outside itself.
As the line so mo is indicative of a state of balanced inactivity, the monad must now condition its two opposite poles of consciousness into a balanced state of activity fundamental to a self-sustaining life-atom. In order to indicate this process, let us begin by bending the lines so mo downwards so as to establish a direct link m' s between the two opposite poles which is separate and apart from the monad itself. This shows how the monad by virtue of its own inherent power and with the aid of its opposite poles of consciousness establishes an isosceles triangle whose three angles A, B, and C are symbolic of a dynamic community of forces fundamental to an action, as has already been pointed out. It furthermore shows how the force C, with its apex in the monad itself represents the intelligent directing force capable of coordinating the two equal and opposite initial and inertial forces having their origin in the spiritual and material poles of nature, and how the intensity of the directing forces determines the magnitudes of each of the opposite forces, A and B, as both intensity and magnitude are symbolized by the degrees of their angles.
But, when it is understood that the duality symbolized by a straight line is a fundamental necessity in nature and therefore never can be disturbed, it follows that we must restore to each of the bent poles their corresponding opposite poles, and similarly connect them by the link m s'. This establishes an equal and opposite dynamic community which balances the former. When we now regard the latter triangle as symbolic of the actions of the organic body and the former as symbolic of the actions of the mind, the diagram shows that, from the moment that a life-atom has been conditioned, it is endowed with a potential body and a potential mind whose interactions are necessary to a self-sustaining and progressive entity. From this diagrammatic presentation we learn the reason for the necessary analogy between the forces of the mind and of the body, to which we called attention in the two previous Parts.
This diagram shows how the six forces which it symbolizes are derived from the power inherent in the divine monad. This power was by very ancient philosophers called Fohat, while the six forces were referred to allegorically as the Sons of Fohat. It was to these six forces that they attributed every activity and structural formation in nature.
As we proceed we expect to show that this metaphysical symbol is something more than a fantastic notion: it is a universal symbol applicable to everything in a self-sustaining and self-acting nature, and represents a geometrically formulated principle of analogy and of relativity necessary to a comprehensive interpretation of nature and hence applicable as a guide to the multitude of phenomena manifesting themselves alike in both solar and atomic systems. This was what Bruno referred to and also reiterated in the following statements.
"The monad is not only extreme littleness, but is the germ of grandeur, the invisible foundation of things visible, of matter and spirit, and of the maximum."
"Life is the expansion or unfolding of the center. The minimum is the source of life and growth, for all greatness proceeds from the minimum and is resolved again into the minimum."
"The monad is the maximum reduced to its primary condition, the point, and the maximum, Nature, is the monad amplified to infinity. The one touches and resembles the other, for the point is the center from which the circle is generated, . . . the circle and the sphere are expanded centers just as the point is a closed circle or sphere."
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In Part IV we pointed out how man sustains himself by work, and how every action of the mind together with its equal and opposite bodily reaction unites in producing a change, a bodily transformation which we defined as an event. When we now consider such an event in the light of the ancient doctrine of monads, it follows that every event records itself in nature as a conditioned life-atom, a future entity, capable of acting and of being acted upon. For, because this event is a child of an already existing entity it is infilled with monadic potentialities and also endowed with the characteristics dominating its parent.
When, like the ancients, we apply this conception to a nature in which everything is changing, and attribute these changes to the work of self-sustaining entities, we should be prepared to consider that it is with the aid of their own progeny that all entities build for themselves more and more complex and composite organic structures in which to function as they proceed on their journey through the different kingdoms of nature. It was on the strength of this conception that the ancients maintained that man is a creature of his own creation.
To this more recondite subject we can merely allude here. Our immediate task is to apply this ancient metaphysical technique to the evidence presented by modern science, in order to test the doctrine of monads and life-atoms by means of which the ancients formulated a science of nature based upon analogy and correspondences. Thus, also, they accounted for a continuously evolving nature, whose history is the record of the eternal pilgrimage of life-atoms, manifesting themselves in and through each and every physical structure in nature where, under the guidance of monads, they serve as builders and craftsmen in the work of fulfilling the plan existing in the mind of the Divine Architect -- a plan which, in the words of Plato, is that of "establishing the world as a moving image of the Divine."
When modern progressive physicists are ready to accept the natural consequences which flow from such evidence of a distinctly universal character as they have succeeded in bringing to light, they will be able to follow in the footsteps of the ancients and begin to acquire some elementary understanding of the working process in nature. For this universal evidence shows:
(1) That matter exists everywhere, but nowhere except in a state of motion; and that matter serves as a necessary resistance to motion and that motion functions as an inertial force.
(2) That because matter, as a necessary resistance to motion, cannot move itself, there must be present everywhere an initial, spiritual force capable of animating a material inertial force. And
(3) That because such opposites as spirit and matter can never contact each other, they must be linked together in action as cause and effect by an intelligent coordinating force.
When men of science are prepared to make objects conform to the knowledge which we have of and from ourselves, and, like the ancients, recognize that "what knows must be like that which it knows," they will realize that as a result of their own intelligent efforts and laborious researches, they are now in possession of the universal evidence with which to reinterpret the local evidence upon which classical mechanics rests, and to confirm the existence of a universal principle of action fundamental to a living nature.