This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
In can remember the first phonograph I ever saw. It was one of those wind-up monstrosities
with a large horn, and although by modern standards the tone could not have been called hi-
fi, yet among my earliest recollections it still stands out as one of the greatest wonders of my
Compare our modern electronic instruments with these early machines. We have indeed
come a long way; where once the needle moved a celluloid diaphragm in order to produce the
sound waves, now electrons do the marvelous work. Whether they be working in a radio tube,
or in a transistor, the enormous complexity of their behavior staggers the imagination.
Although we understand and can apply the laws of electricity, and although we have
succeeded in making these electrons work for us, our ability to visualize the motions of these
tiny particles is so inadequate that we fail if we try to give a meaningful picture of it all.
And now think of the many other applications of electronics. Think of the computers which
can solve difficult problems with the speed of lightning. think of the complex instruments in
the earth satellites.
Are the electrons aware of what they are doing for us? No thinking person would suggest that
they have any knowledge of the tasks they perform. They are all acting automatically.
Because their behavior is predictable, we can set up the required conditions and they will
faithfully follow our instructions. Nor do they ever tire of working for us. They are always
instantly ready to carry out the most complicated tasks.
In all of this we have something more than a mere illustration of a point. We have an instance
of a natural phenomenon. Because electrons serve as messengers for us, in that they can be
made to carry intelligent ideas across thousands of miles of space; because they can perform
work that is beyond our human capacity, they are in the truest sense unconscious servants of
the human race. They are carriers of intelligence, albeit they act automatically. But it is we
who must have the intelligence to set them to the tasks that we wish to have performed.
From the standpoint of self-awareness, the electrons, and the many kinds of atoms which
form the physical universe, may all be said to exist in a dormant condition although,
paradoxically, they are the most active things that we can imagine. Their activity is not self-
impelled, however, and they therefore serve as obedient and highly useful tools.
Theosophy teaches that all the physical atoms are destined to become conscious entities in
due course of time. How they will reach this more developed condition and when is beyond
the scope of our knowledge, but the important thing for us to learn at this time is that
although they seem to be dormant in respect to conscious awareness of themselves or of the
environment which they help to build, they have a far more important role in Nature than that
which was just described. They are, indeed, taken up and used by all living things. The
specific uses to which Man can put them are extraneous to their real destiny; such uses were
only mentioned as a convenient way in which to introduce this aspect of our study.
The primary role of the hosts of atoms, and t hat which makes them most useful in Nature, is
that they are the means by which the Monads build for themselves living bodies in which
they may function during incarnation. Eventually these bodies are discarded, and the atoms
which formed them may then pass on to help other entities in forming for themselves new
bodies. Thus it would be difficult at this time to say of a certain atom of carbon, for instance,
that it properly belongs in the mineral, vegetable or animal or, again, the human kingdom. It
would seem to depend upon prevailing circumstances and what type of body it is helping to
build at the moment. It is the imbodied monad which identifies itself as belonging to one
kingdom or another, not the atoms of which its physical body is formed. Furthermore, it is the
monad itself which gives life to the body it has built, rather than the atoms of which the body
is composed. Apart from these physical atoms, it is nevertheless true that every entity does
emanate hosts of life-atoms belonging especially to it; but that is another story which will be
explained later in this chapter.
Whereas we have been careful in our studies to make it clear that we are speaking of Monads
whenever we have considered such topics as the Globe Chains, now the time has come when
we may consider the teachings concerning bodies. It will become necessary to expand the
threefold concept so that it takes on a more complete manner of presentation, to wit: Gods,
Monads, Souls, Bodies and Atoms. From the Gods proceed the Monads; from the Monads are
emanated the Souls, as vehicles of the Monads; and the Souls embody themselves in their
own appropriate vehicles which we call Bodies; and these last are built of Atoms. But we
must remember that the bodies themselves are much more than mere aggregates of atoms. If
it were not so, we could fashion any kind of body we wished to in our chemical laboratories
and it would come to life. Yet who has ever succeeded in doing this? Even though we might
conceivably collect together all the elements needed in a human body and construct it in
every detail, could we then infuse a soul into it? Assuredly not.
Perhaps at this time we should clarify the meanings of certain terms. We have already
covered in some detail the teachings concerning Gods and Monads, so that little need be said
here except to remind the reader that we emphasized the fact that every Monad is dual in
nature and that this duality was expressed in the teaching about the ³souls and egos.´ The
energic aspect of the Monad is the Ego, and the vehicular aspect was shown to be the Soul.
This is not the generally accepted definition of the word ³soul,´ but we would like to point
out that in the dictionary nothing definite is given as to the nature of the soul, while in
theosophical literature the word has a very specific and technical meaning: It is regarded as a
vehicle of the egoic part of the Monad. It was further explained that there are a number of
Monads in the human constitution and that therefore there are a number of ³souls and egos.´
Thus, there might be said to be the spiritual soul enshrining the spiritual ego, a higher human
soul enshrining a higher human ego, a personal soul enshrining a personal ego, and so on to
the vital-astral soul enshrining the vital-astral ego. There is even the physical monad, itself
dual by nature, and its ³soul´ is more intimately related to the physical atoms than are the
souls of the other monads in the human being.
Are there, then, atoms which are appropriate for the building of the bodies of the higher souls
in Man? The teachings assert that there are. These other grades of atoms, non-physical, and
therefore unknown to modern science, go by the general term of life-atoms. There are life-
atoms of many grades; it might be said, and quite truly, that even the physical atoms
constitute one of the grades of life-atoms.
Just where did all these life-atoms come from? From many sources, but it might be said,
speaking generally, that they originate in that aspect of the Universe called Cosmos. To
clarify the subject, let us review the Table given in Chapter VII:
Chaos . Gods
Theos . Monads
Kosmos .. Atoms
Recollect also the symbol of the three-axis Svastika or Thor's Hammer, one arm of which
represented for us the study of the Gods, the second arm the study of the Monads, and the
third arm the study of the Atoms, in which we are now engaged.
Now, when we postulate these three divisions, we are not relegating them to different areas
within the Universe. Naturally they interpenetrate one another on all conceivable planes of
consciousness. We might say, however, that their degrees of consciousness differ on the
different planes. It is on the highest planes that the Gods are fully conscious; on the
intermediate planes they are less so; and on the physical plane they are latent, as for instance,
the Gods are latent within us humans. We have to make them manifest by our own efforts,
and this ultimately is the story of Initiation.
Similarly, there are Monads on all the planes of consciousness, and likewise there are Atoms
to be found everywhere, and it follows that there are atoms of many kinds. Although
numerous beyond imagining, the physical atoms represent only the smallest part of the
picture, as we have already pointed out.
Probably the best manner in which to picture an atom is in the role of a life-carrier, and even
this thought is not a simple one. It can and does mean that each atom is destined for great
adventures of its own, evolutionally speaking, when in unthinkably long ages hence it will
have found its place as a monad among other monads, working out its destiny as are the
monads of the present time.
Aside from this meaning of life-carrier, there is the role that each atom plays along with hosts
of its fellows, in building bodies which enshrine the entities that have already gone relatively
far along the evolutionary pathway. So, in t his sense also the atoms are carriers of life: they
help to enshrine the consciousness which uses them, albeit temporarily, for the fashioning of
its living body. Once the body dies, as we say, the atoms are free to go their own way,
seeking new adventures.
Yet a third understanding of the meaning of the term ³life-carrier´ is to be found in the
teachings. Strange as it may sound to some readers, it is nevertheless taught in the Ancient
Wisdom that each atom, resembling as it does in certain respects a miniature solar system,
has its own organism of planetary bodies, which pursue their own evolutionary cycles in a
manner somewhat similar though not necessarily identical with the processes of the Rounds
of the Planetary Chains.
Think, if you like, that you can put your imagination upon an electron whirling around the
nucleus of an atom in your own body. You might find your place momentarily within a race
of entities that is pursuing its own course of evolution, and this electron would be the planet
on which you live. The nucleus of the atom would be its sun, and the other electrons would
be other planets within its solar system. The nearest atoms would be like the stars to it, and all
the atoms within the cell in which it finds itself would comprise its own island universe or
galaxy. Is this a flight of fancy too wild to be given any credence? Well, others have engaged
in similar imaginings but without the advantage that the Ancient Wisdom has to offer.
Science made a great advance when it discovered the nature of the atom and likened it to the
structure of the solar system. It soon found the difference, however, and declared that the
similarity is not very good after all. However, from the standpoint of the Ancient Wisdom,
the concept of the atom according to modern science gives us some startling clues as to the
occult nature of the Solar System; and if our scientific instruments could probe into the real
structure of the Sun and his family of Planets, there would be some surprise in store for us.
The Ancient Wisdom teaches that the Solar System consists of far more than the Sun that we
see and the nine or ten planets circling around the Sun at enormous distances from it. It sees
the intervening spaces as filled with planets, by far the greater number of which are totally
invisible and beyond the reach of even the most refined astronomical instruments. Eventually
we shall inquire into the nature of the Solar System, and the study will be more thrilling than
any that we have as yet attempted.
By way of elaborating the teaching that the Gods emanate the Monads, and the Monads do
indeed emanate the Atoms, let us make clear that it is likewise true that each class on its own
plane emanates the substances of which it fashions its own sheaths of consciousness. A
parallel teaching was explained wherein it was shown that while each of the human principles
does emanate the one or ones ³below´ it, nevertheless each of the principles also emanates its
own sheaths of consciousness on its own plane. On this concept rest the Teachings about the
The following quotation from G. de Purucker will throw more light upon this highly
recondite theme (Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 331-2):
³Now, take any one universe or Hierarchy as an instance of the general rule. Any universe is
infilled with beings finding their origin and taking their rise in the Summit, the Acme, the
Seed in another sense, which is, so to say, the god of that Hierarchy; and this god, at the
beginning of any period of manifestation, this spiritual elementary Being, casts off from
itself, or throws forth from itself, evolves from itself, brings out from itself, a multitudinous
series of hierarchies consisting of less or inferior beings; beings less in spirituality and dignity
than itself. They are, as it were, the thoughts that the God or µKosmic Primal Thinker¶ thinks.
Take the instance of a thinking human being, as an analogy. He thinks thoughts. Each thought
has its own life, each thought has its own essence, each has its own course to run. Each
thought is based on a particular vibration, as it were, using words common to our
understanding today. Each has its own particular Svabhâva or intrinsic essential nature, which
is its individuality.
So this Summit of the Hierarchy µthinks thoughts.¶ Now I do not mean to say that this
Summit is a human being or a god-being, which thinks thoughts as we do. The figure here
used is an analogy. As a man thinks thoughts, and thus fills his thoughts, so the Primordial
Elementary Being, the Summit, the Seed, the First to issue forth from the bosom of the
infinite Mother, casts forth from itself these parts of itself; these monadic aggregations, these
And what are these first emanations? They are what the Ancient Wisdom called the gods.
And these gods in their turn send forth from themselves other multitudinous series of beings,
less than they ² less in dignity, less in grandeur, less in understanding, and these secondary
emanations or evolutions are the monads. And these monads, as they pursue their way down
the Shadowy Arc, in the beginning of a manvantara, in their turn cast forth from themselves,
in identically the same way and on the same line of action, other entities, less than they,
forming still more outward Hierarchies, more material intelligence's; and these tertiary
emanations are the souls. And the souls, as they pursue their way down, exactly as their
higher progenitors did, cast forth from themselves, think forth from themselves, send forth
from themselves, evolve forth from themselves, beings still less in wisdom and spirituality
and dignity and power than they. And these are the atoms ² but not the physical atom. Let us
cast that idea out of our minds instantly. The atoms of physical science are really molecular
aggregations of atomic elements only, existing on the borderland of the astral plane.´
We have reached the point in our study where we must be reminded of the Tattvas, which, as
it was explained, are the stuffs or materials of which the various planes of consciousness are
built. So we find that the picture so clearly drawn for us by G. de Purucker helps us to grow
into the understanding that it is ultimately in and through these Tattva-Bhûtas that the life-
atoms emanate from the souls. And because they spring directly from these Tattvas, without
any intermediary of any kind, they are therefore to be called Elementals in the true sense of
the word. They are elemental lives.
There are differences in degree only, but not in kind between the life-atoms produced from
the Tattvas, cosmically speaking, and those produced from Man's own Tattvas, which we
have learned to call his Principles. Thus it is that the unnumbered hosts of life-atoms that any
individual human being has produced will belong to him, and will be a part of his own
evolutionary stream of consciousness, however far they may roam at times; to each one of us
belongs an unthinkably numerous family, many more than any one of us has within his
constitution at any one time. They are coming and going constantly and yet they belong to
him. This is true of the entire human race, as it is true of the Animal Kingdom and the Plant
Kingdom, for that matter. And just because they function as part of the evolutionary stream
of the entity which at first emanated them, even though temporarily entering into the bodies
of other members of his own or any other kingdom, nevertheless they are completely at home
when they are forming a part of their own parent-entity.
This concept gives us some new insights into the interdependence of all life. We could not
live without one another, and even though this seems to be a function of nature that is
sustained without our own conscious effort, nevertheless it is fundamental to the processes of
human, animal and plant growth. It would be interesting to know what some people with
strong prejudices against members of other races would think if they came to understand that
they play host to life-atoms belonging to the very individuals that they despise!
This exchange of life-atoms is not confined to the Kingdoms on this Earth; there are also
cosmic life-atoms, children of the Tattvas which produced them, which make their own
mighty circulation's of the Cosmos in and through the various planes of being. The processes
of the Rounds and Races point to just this fact of nature. We all were once life-atoms of
Nature in a cosmic sense, and as such we still carry with us the stamp of Svabhâva of the
Tattva which produced us; but since our first awakening we have traveled far and wide. If
this theme were developed further, it would lead us into some of the most recondite of the
teachings concerning the adventures after Death, and we can do no more than make hints and
allusions to these deeper teachings at this time.
What a grand feeling it must be for any man when he realizes for the first time that he started
out as a life-atom of some lofty entity for which we can give no better term than to say that it
was a God. To think that any one of us might have started out as a thought in the mind of
some Cosmic Divinity!
If this idea is consistent with the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, and the writer believes
this to be so, does it not follow that even we, imperfect as we are, are collectively one of the
principles in the constitution of a Higher Being? Would this thought not place us within the
life-currents of the Divinities themselves, bound to them with unbreakable ties? Do we not
therefore benefit greatly for the reason that their life flows through us? And is it not possible
that even they could be benefited by us, once we have learned to live according to our highest
possibilities, just as any man is benefited by inhabiting a healthy body?
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?