The following account was written by C. W. Leadbeater in 1907. It is reproduced here as giving further essential details concerning the relation between the planes of nature and the structure of the Anu:
The scientific hypothesis is that all space is filled with a substance called aether, as to the constitution of which many apparently contradictory statements are made. It is thought to be infinitely thinner than the thinnest gas, absolutely frictionless and without weight, and yet from another point of view far denser than the densest solid. In this substance the ultimate atoms of matter are thought to float as motes may be seen to float in the air, and light, heat and electricity are supposed to be its vibrations.
Theosophical investigators, using methods not yet at the disposal of physical science, have found that this hypothesis includes under one head two entirely different and widely separated sets of phenomena. They have been able to deal with states of matter higher than the gaseous, and have observed that it is by means of vibrations of this finer matter that light, heat and electricity manifest themselves to us. Seeing that matter in these higher states thus performs the functions attributed to the aether of science, they have (perhaps unadvisedly) called these states etheric, and have thus left themselves without a convenient name for that substance which fulfills the other part of the scientific requirements.
Let us for the moment name this substance koilon1, since it fills what we are in the habit of calling empty space. What Mûlaprakriti or "mother-matter" is to the inconceivable totality of universes, koilon is to our particular universe-not to our solar system merely, but to the vast unit which includes all visible suns. Between koilon and Mûlaprakriti there must be very many stages, but we have at present no means of estimating their number or of knowing anything whatever about them.
To any power of sight which we can bring to bear upon it this koilon appears homogeneous, though it is not probable that it is so in reality. It answers to scientific demands in so far that it is out of all proportion denser than any substance known to us--
1 Greek word meaning
"hollow" - C. J.
THE NATURE OF MATTER 17
quite infinitely denser--belonging to another order and type of density altogether. For the very kernel and nexus of the whole conception is that what we call matter is not koilon, but the absence of koilon. So that to comprehend the real conditions we must modify our ideas of matter and space-modify them almost to the extent of reversing our terminology. Emptiness has become solidity and solidity emptiness.
To help us to understand more clearly let us examine the ultimate atom of the physical plane. (See Figs. 3 and 6.) It is composed of ten rings or wires, which lie side by side, but never touch one another. If one of these wires be taken away from the atom, and as it were untwisted from its peculiar spiral shape and laid out on a flat surface, it will be seen that it is a complete circle--a tightly twisted endless coil. This coil is itself a spiral containing 1,680 turns; it can be unwound, and it will then make a much larger circle. There are in each wire seven sets of such coils or spirillae, each finer than the preceding coil to which its axis lies at right angles. The process of unwinding them in succession may be continued until we have nothing but an enormous circle of the tiniest imaginable dots lying like pearls upon an invisible string. These dots are so inconceivably small that many millions of them are needed to make one ultimate physical atom. They appear to be the basis of all matter of which we at present know anything; astral, mental and buddhic atoms also are built of them, so we may regard them as the fundamental units of which all material atoms on any plane yet attainable are composed.
These units are all alike, spherical and absolutely simple in construction. Though they are the basis of all matter, they are not themselves matter; they are not blocks but bubbles. They do not resemble bubbles floating in the air, which consist of a thin film of water separating the air within them from the air outside, so that the film has both an outer and an inner surface. Their analogy is rather with the bubbles that we see rising in water, bubbles which may be said to have only one surface--that of the water which is pushed back by the confined air. Just as the bubbles are not water, but are precisely the spots from which water is absent, so these units are not koilon but the absence of koilon--the only spots where it is not--specks of nothingness floating in it, so to speak, for the interior of these space-bubbles is an absolute void to the highest power of vision that we can turn upon them.
What then is their real content--the tremendous force that can blow bubbles in a material of infinite density? What but the creative power of the Logos, the Breath which He breathes into the waters of space when He wills that manifestation shall commence? These infinitesimal bubbles are the "holes" which "Fohat digs in space"; the Logos Himself fills them, and holds them in existence against the pressure of the koilon because He Himself is in them. These units of force are the bricks which He uses in the building of His universe, and everything that we call matter, on however high or low a place it may be, is composed of these and so is divine in its very essence.
The Outbreathing which makes
these bubbles is quite distinct from and long antecedent to the Three Outpourings
which have been so frequently discussed in Theosophical literature; it
is not even certain whether it is the work of the Solar Logos or of One
a stage higher still. The later Outpourings whirl the bubbles into the
various arrangements which we call the atoms of the several planes, and
then aggregate those atoms into the molecules of the chemical elements.
OCCULT CHEMISTRY 18
Thus the worlds are gradually built up, but always out of this selfsame material which to us seems nothingness, and yet is divine power. It is indeed a veritable creation, a building of something out of nothing--of what we call matter out of a privation of matter.
FIG. 5. BUBBLES IN KOILON
THE NATURE OF MATTER 19
The exact number of these bubbles included in an ultimate physical atom is not readily ascertainable, but several different lines of calculation agree in indicating it as closely approximating to the almost incredible total of fourteen thousand millions. Where figures are so huge direct counting is obviously impossible, but fortunately the different parts of the atom are sufficiently alike to enable us to make an estimate whose margin of error is not likely to be very great. The atom consists of ten wires, which divide themselves naturally into two groups--the three which are thicker and more prominent, and the seven thinner ones which correspond to the colours and planets. These latter appear to be identical in constitution, though the forces flowing through them must differ, since each responds most readily to its own special set of vibrations. By actual counting it has been discovered that the numbers of coils or spirillae of the first order in each wire is 1,680; and the proportion of the different order of spirillae to one another is equal in all cases that have been examined, and corresponds with the number of bubbles in the ultimate spirilla of the lowest order. The ordinary sevenfold rule works quite accurately with the thinner coils, but there is a very curious variation with regard to the set of three. As may be seen from the drawings, these are obviously thicker and more prominent. and this increase of size is produced by an augmentation (so slight as to be barely perceptible) in the proportion to one another of the different orders of spirillae and in the number of bubbles in the lowest. This augmentation, amounting at present to not more than ·00571428 of the whole in each case, suggests the unexpected possibility that this portion of the atom may be somehow actually undergoing a change--may in fact be in process of growth, as there is reason to suppose that these three thicker spirals ordinally resembled the others.
Since observation shows us that each physical atom is represented by forty-nine astral atoms, each astral atom by forty-nine mental atoms and each mental atom by forty-nine of those on the buddhic plane, we have here evidently several terms of a regular progressive series, and the natural presumption is that the series continues where we are no longer able to observe it. Further probability is lent to this assumption by the remarkable fact that--if we assume one bubble to be what corresponds to an atom on the seventh or highest of our planes and then suppose the law of multiplication to begin its operation. so that 49 bubbles shall form the atom of the next or sixth plane, 2,401 that of the fifth. and so once find that the number indicated for the physical atom (49^6) corresponds almost exactly with the calculation based upon the actual counting of the coils. Indeed. it seems probable that but for the slight growth of the three thicker wires of the atom the correspondence would have been perfect.
It must be noted that an
ultimate physical atom cannot be directly broken up into astral atoms.
If the unit of force which whirls those millions of bubbles into
the complicated shape of a physical atom be pressed back by an effort of
will over the threshold of the astral plane, the atom disappears instantly,
for the bubbles are released. But the same unit of force, working now upon
a higher level expresses itself not through one astral atom, but through
a group of 49. If the process of pressing back the unit of force is repeated,
so that it energizes upon the mental plane, we find the group there enlarged
to the number of 2,401 of those higher atoms. Upon the buddhic plane the
number of atoms formed by the same amount of force is very much greater
still--probably the cube of 49 instead of
20 OCCULT CHEMISTRY
the square, though they have not been actually counted. It is also probable, though not certainly known, that the number of bubbles utilized by that unit of force is the same on all these planes, though grouped on the physical as one atom, on the astral as 49 atoms, on the mental as 2,401. Therefore one physical atom is not composed of forty-nine astral or 2,401 mental atoms, but corresponds to them in the sense that the force which manifests through it would show itself on those higher planes by energizing respectively those numbers of atoms
The koilon in which all these bubbles are formed undoubtedly represents a part, and perhaps the principal part, of what science describes as the luminiferous aether. Whether it is actually the bearer of the vibrations of light and heat through interplanetary space is as yet undetermined. It is certain that these vibrations impingeupon and are perceptible to our bodily senses only through the etheric matter of the physical plane. But this by no means proves that they are conveyed through space in the same manner, for we know very little of the extent to which the physical etheric matter exists in interplanetary and interstellar space, though the examination of meteoric matter and cosmic dust shows that at least some of it is scattered there.
The scientific theory is that the aether has some quality which enables it to transmit at a certain definite velocity transverse waves of all lengths and intensities--that velocity being what is commonly called the speed of light. Quite probably this may be true of koilon, and if so it must also be capable of communicating those waves to bubbles or aggregations of bubbles, and before the light can reach our eyes there must be a downward transference from plane to plane similar to that which takes place when a thought awakens emotion or causes action.
In a recent pamphlet on The Density of Aether Sir Oliver Lodge remarks "Just as the ratio of mass to volume is small in the case of a solar system or a nebula or a cobweb. I have been driven to think that the observed mechanical density of matter is probably an excessively small fraction of the total density of the substance, or aether, contained in the space which it thus partially occupies--the substance, of which it may hypothetically be held to be composed.
"Thus for instance, consider a mass of platinum, and assume that its atoms are composed of electrons, or of some structures not wholly dissimilar: the space which these bodies actually fill, as compared with the whole space which in a sense they 'occupy,' is comparable to one ten-millionth of the whole, even inside each atom; and the fraction is still smaller if it refers to the visible mass. So that a kind of minimum estimate of aetherial density, on this basis, would be something like ten thousand million times that of platinum." And further on he adds that this density may well turn out to be fifty thousand million times that of platinum. "The densest matter known" he says, " is trivial and gossamer-like compared with the unmodified Ether in the same space."
Incredible as this seems
to our ordinary ideas, it is undoubtedly an understatement rather than
an exaggeration of the true proportion as observed in the case of koilon.
We shall understand how this can be so if we remember that koilon seems
absolutely homogeneous and solid even when examined by a power of magnification
which makes physical atoms appear in size and arrangement like cottages
scattered over a lonely moor, and when we further add to this the recollection
that the bubbles of which these atoms
FIG. 5a. FORMATION OF BUBBLES INTO 1ST SPIRILLA
AND 2ND AND 3RD SPIRILLAE
THE NATURE OF MATTER 21
in turn are composed are themselves what may be not inaptly called fragments of nothingness.
In the same pamphlet Sir Oliver Lodge makes a very striking estimate of the intrinsic energy of the aether. He says "The total output of a million-kilowatt power station for thirty million years exists permanently, and at present inaccessibly, in every cubic millimetre of space." Here again he is probably underestimating rather than overestimating the stupendous truth.
It may be asked how it is possible, if all this be so, that we can be so utterly unaware of the facts--how we can pass through and move amongst so dense a solid as this koilon without seeing or feeling it in any way. The answer is that consciousness can recognize only consciousness--that since we are of the nature of the Logos we can sense only those things which are also of His nature. These bubbles are of His essence, and therefore we, who are also part of Him, can see matter which is built of them, for they represent to us vehicles or manifestations of Him. But the koilon in which they move is of some other and as yet unknown nature, and therefore it is to us non-manifestation, and so imperceptible. We pass through it just as easily and unconsciously as a gnome passes through a rock or as the wind blows through a network of iron wire. We live in it as mites live in a cheese or microbes in a body. The world built up of fragments of nothingness is to us the visible reality, just as to a miner his mine is an objective reality even though it consists of empty galleries hollowed out of the solid rock.
As none of our investigators can raise his consciousness to the seventh plane, it will be of interest to explain how it is possible for them to see what may very probably be the atom of that plane That this may be understood it is essential to remember that the power of magnification by means of which these experiments are conducted is quite apart from the faculty of functioning upon one or other of the planes. The latter is the result of a slow and gradual unfoldment of the self, while the former is merely a special development of one of the many powers latent in man. All the planes are round us here, just as much as at any other point in space, and if a man sharpens his sight until he can see their tiniest atoms he can make a study of them, even though he may as yet be far from the level necessary to enable him to understand and function upon the higher planes as a whole or to come into touch with the glorious Intelligences who gather those atoms into vehicles for Themselves.
A partial analogy may be found in the position of the astronomer with regard to the stellar universe, or let us say the Milky Way. He can observe its constituent parts and learn a good deal about them along various lines, but it is absolutely impossible for him to see it as a whole from outside, or form any certain conception of its true shape and to know what it really is. Suppose that the universe is, as many of the ancients thought, some inconceivably vast Being; it is utterly impossible for us, here in the midst of it, to know what that Being is or is doing, for that would mean raising ourselves to a height comparable with His; but we may make extensive and detailed examination of such particles of His body as happen to be within our reach, for that means only the patient use of powers and machinery already at our command.
Let it not be supposed that,
in thus unfolding a little more of the wonders of Divine truth by pushing
our investigations to the very furthest point at present possible
22 OCCULT CHEMISTRY
to us, we in any way alter or modify all that has been written in Theosophical books of the shape and constitution of the physical atom, and of the wonderful and orderly arrangements by which it is grouped into the various chemical molecules; all this remains entirely unaffected.
Nor is any change introduced as regards the Three Outpourings from the Logos, and the marvellous facility with which the matter of the various planes is by them moulded into forms for the service of the evolving life. But if we wish to have a right view of the realities underlying manifestation in this universe we must to a considerable extent reverse the ordinary conception as to what this matter essentially is. Instead of thinking of its ultimate constituents as solid specks floating in a void, we must realize that it is the apparent void itself which is solid, and that the specks are but bubbles in it. That fact once grasped, all the rest remains as before. The relative position of what we have hitherto called matter and force is still for us the same as ever; it is only that on closer examination both of these conceptions of ours prove to be in reality variants of force, the one ensouling combinations of the other, and the real matter (koilon) is seen to be something which has hitherto been outside our scheme of thought altogether.
How vividly, how unmistakably this knowledge brings home to us the great doctrine of Maya, the transitoriness and unreality of earthly things, the utterly deceptive nature of appearances! When the candidate for initiation sees (not merely believes, remember, but actually sees) that what has always before seemed to him empty space is in reality a solid mass of inconceivable density, and that the matter which has appeared to be the one tangible and certain basis of things is not only by comparison tenuous as gossamer (the "web" spun by "Father-Mother"), but is actually composed of emptiness and nothingness--is itself the very negation of matter--then for the first tune he thoroughly appreciates the valuelessness of the physical senses as guides to the truth. Yet even more clearly still stands out the glorious certainty of the immanence of the Divine; not only is everything ensouled by the Logos, but even its visible manifestation is literally part of Him, is bulk of His very substance, so that matter as well as spirit becomes sacred to the student who really understands.
Perhaps the consideration of these two factors may help us to comprehend many statements in The Secret Doctrine, such as (to select two references at random) that matter is nothing but an aggregation of atomic forces" (iii, 398) and that "Buddha taught that the primitive substance is eternal and unchangeable. Its vehicle is the pure luminous ether, the boundless infinite space, not a void resulting from the absence of the forms, but on the contrary the foundation of all forms." (iii, 402)
It has been suggested (though this is merely a matter of reverent speculation) that in successive universes there may be a progressive diminution in the size of the bubbles--that it may be the very glory of a Logos that He can sacrifice Himself to the uttermost by thus thoroughly permeating and making Himself one with that portion of koilon which He selects as the field of His universe.
What is the actual nature
of koilon, what is its origin, whether it is itself in any way changed
by the Divine Breath which is poured into it--these are questions the answers
to which investigation cannot as yet give, though they may perchance be
found by an intelligent study of the great scriptures of the world.
THE NATURE OF MATTER 23
NOTE BY C. W. LEADBEATER
There is a sentence in the article on " Koilon ". It runs as follows:
"By actual counting it has been discovered that the number of coils or spirillae of the first order in each wire is 1,680; and the proportion of the different orders of spirillae to one another is equal in all cases that have been examined, and corresponds with the number of bubbles in the ultimate spirilla of the lowest order."
I counted all those 1,680 turns in the wire of the Anu, not once, but many times. I tried altogether 135 different specimens, taken from all sorts of substances.
If we remove one wire from the Anu it can of course be straightened out into a circle. Really, however, it is not a single wire but a spiral spring, as in Fig. 6, and I called each of these little rings a coil, or a spirilla of the first order," " a," and I meant to explain that there were 1,680 of these rings or turns or coils in each wire. But each of those coils is itself a spiral spring made up of finer coils (which we might call "b") and I
FIG. 6. THREE COILS IN AN ANU
called those " spirillae of the second order." and so on down to " spirillae of the lowest order". In the seven thinner wires of the atom which correspond to the seven colours I find that each "spirilla of the first order," "a," is composed of seven "spirillae of the second order". "b", each "b" in turn is composed of seven "c"s, each "c" of seven "d"s, and so on down to the "spirilla of the lowest order" which is composed of exactly seven bubbles.
But in the three thicker
wires of the atom there is a very slight difference. The seven bubbles
no longer fit exactly under one another, as it were, if one looks
along or through the wire endwise; in 100 "spirillae of the lowest order"
there ought to be just 700 bubbles; so there are in the seven
thinner, coloured wires, but in the three thicker wires there are 704.
So the increase is at present 1 in 175. And the same curious little increase
holds good in the relation of the different orders of spirillae, In the
exactly 7 spirillae of one order make 1 of the next higher order, so that
700 "b"s make exactly 100 "a"s and so on; but in the thicker wires
704 "b"s go to 100 '"a"s. and the same curious proportion all through.
That is what I meant when I said that "the proportion of the different
orders of spirillae to one another
24 OCCULT CHEMISTRY
is equal and corresponds with the number of bubbles in the ultimate spirilla of the lowest order."