Consciousness: The Ultimate Mystery

By G. de Purucker

What is man, after all, but a monad more or less awakened? He indeed, in his present stage of evolution, may be considered as sleeping to monads higher than he; but as compared with the sleeping monads, the sleeping spiritual atoms or consciousness centers which form the material framework and substance of the physical cosmos, he walks like a god. His impulses, thoughts, and emotions, his ideals, aspirations, and instinctive reachings out to higher and nobler things, as well as the vibrations emanating from the different vehicles of his psychological organism in which he lives and works, affect not merely the matter of his own body, but electrically, magnetically, affect likewise the entire physical, mental, and spiritual sphere surrounding him, as far as those human vibrations of his can and do reach.

These spiritual consciousness centers in themselves are absolutely and fully awakened; but those which form the lowest steps of the cosmic hierarchies are in the present stage of evolution passing through the 'sleeping' phase of their long developmentary pilgrimage. They themselves, in the core of their being, are always fully awake in their own monadic sphere, but their vehicles, their lowest 'selves,' are not spiritually awakened to and on this our present plane.

Every minutest speck of even physical matter that surrounds us is built of these sleeping monads, entities of spiritual nature at their core or heart, but spiritually sleeping on this plane, embryos as it were, whose destiny it is to develop into full-grown, self-conscious gods, the inspiring geniuses of future new cosmoi, of universes to follow ours in duration.

It is in the very small that we must seek for the unriddling of the riddle of the origination of life, as well as in the macrocosmic. The physical atom of chemistry has been likened to a miniature solar system, consisting of a protonic center, which is the nucleus or the atomic sun, more minute but vastly more massive than the smaller bodies circling with vertiginous rapidity around that central nucleus, the electrons. And through the open doors of these electrons and protons, we may see still newer and subatomic universes into which our inquiring minds may penetrate, as further knowledge comes to us.

Remember that these incomputable hosts of electrons are, in reality, small entities; or we may say that there are minute or infinitesimal lives inhabiting the atoms. Why not? Why should not the electrons, the atomic planets circling around their atomic sun, bear sensitive and conscious, thinking and intelligent and self-conscious creatures, even as our planet, one of the cosmic electrons of our solar system, bears us in similar fashion around our own central luminary. Who would dispute the noble conception that even on these atomic electrons there may exist inhabitants or living entities of infinitesimal kind: living, thinking, feeling entities, each of its kind, each of its own genus, so to say, each following its own destiny, its own upward line of evolution, and thereby repeating the law of universal nature.

As we raise our eyes skyward and realize that this so-called dome of space surrounds us on all sides, all that we see seems so great and large to us. But pause a moment, and realize that we judge through and from the nature of our own limited consciousness and interpret only by our own powers of undeveloped understanding.

From such thoughts we may perhaps intuit that to these minute, these infinitesimal, entities which may inhabit the atomic spaces of our bodies, the skyey spaces in their cosmos may be as large and as grand as our own cosmic spaces are to us; and furthermore, that our entire physical galaxy -- which is all that is comprised within the bounds of our Milky Way -- may be but a molecule of some entity still more incomprehensibly vast and beyond the reaches of our most ambitious imagination. Who dare say that our solar system is not in the mental purview of some entity still more vastly grand, itself but an atom! All is relative.

Our solar system therefore being a cosmic atom, then the molecule to which it belongs, following analogical reasoning, is all other suns and systems that are encompassed within the encircling zone of the Milky Way; while the other vast universes out in the spaces beyond ours, in their turn are molecules, and thus form the incomparably larger aggregate corpus of some Entity still more incomprehensibly vast!

Consciousness is incommensurable. It cannot be measured by any physical methods of mensuration. We can know consciousness only by consciousness, for it approaches the ultimate mystery of the universe.

  • (Reprinted from Sunrise magazine, November 1979. Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press)

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