Science, Alchemy and Psychological Transmutation
A Talk given by Laurence Newey at Theoversity: Oxford Conference, Christ Church College, 18-19 March 2011 on the theme of Esotericism & Psychology: The Bridge between Spirituality & Science
One of the most exciting things about bridging between esotericism and psychology, spirituality and science, is that a bridge already exists – it just hasn’t been recognised as such. The bridge between esoteric and exoteric science in general is an electrical one – and the language is that of electricity. Therefore, we’ll take a look at the idea of an integrating science of electricity starting with the big picture i.e., cosmology. Within this framework, all other sciences should find their place and relationship to one another. Following on from this, we can take a look at the future renaissance of alchemy in an electrical guise, and see how electrical alchemy relates to the field of psychology and psychological transmutation.
Three types of Motion
Psychology is generally defined as the scientific study of mental and behavioural processes. This can be the behavioural and cognitive characteristics of a specific individual, group, activity, or circumstance. And in the words of Dr Leary quoted in Alice Bailey’s book The Soul and its Mechanism, "The behaviour of human beings, psychologically speaking, ... reduces to physiological facts and findings, in turn to those of the field of biology, then to those of bio-chemistry, then to chemistry in general and then, inevitably, to physics as the science of matter in motion."
So let’s deal first and foremost with the idea of matter in motion:
To begin with a cosmological framework, one postulate of the Secret Doctrine by Helena Blavatsky that we can all agree upon, is that the fundamental characteristic of the Cosmos is ceaseless motion. She says, "THE ONE LIFE [is], eternal, invisible, yet Omnipresent, without beginning or end, yet periodical in its regular manifestations,….Its one absolute attribute, which is ITSELF, eternal, ceaseless Motion, is called in esoteric parlance the ‘Great Breath’, which is the perpetual motion of the universe, in the sense of limitless, ever-present SPACE.
That which is motionless cannot be Divine.
But then there is nothing in fact and reality absolutely motionless within the universal soul." (Proem, p.2 of the Secret Doctrine)
This beautiful quote gives us a point of identification for the coming together of esotericism and science, a meeting place for the spiritual and agnostic thinker alike. It can form the basis for a new esoteric dynamism: the psychology of motion and relationship evidenced by any particular organism in response to impacts internal and external to its system of response.
According to The Secret Doctrine and A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, there are three basic types of motion in the cosmos, each one related to an aspect of the divine trinity that lies at the heart of many of the great world religions and philosophies–Will, Love-Wisdom, and Active Intelligence. These three are also known as electric fire, solar fire and fire-by-friction. Each of the three Gods or Logoi that comprise the divine trinity has all three aspects but demonstrates one more dynamically than the others and so is recognised as that dominant aspect itself.
With reference to A Treatise on Cosmic Fire and beginning with the third Logos of the trinity, Active Intelligence expresses itself through rotary motion, which is due to the fire latent in matter itself. Rotary motion is apparent all around us–atoms, planets, solar systems and galaxies all rotate on their axes and within the perimeter of these whirling unified spheres are to be found variety and differentiation. By the revolution of matter, activity is increased making the material more pliable and adaptable. The active principle of this third Logos is Fohat, the steed who "runs circular errands" and is sent forth at the beginning of the dawn of a new manvantara to "dig holes in space" and join these fiery vortices to one another.
The second Logos of the divine trinity, Love-Wisdom, is seeking to blend with this active intelligence of the third aspect and He adds to the rotary motion of all atoms His own form of motion, spiralling periodical movement. By circulation along an orbit around a central focal point in an ever-ascending spiral, two results are brought about: Firstly, the gathering of atoms into forms. And secondly, by means of these forms, the gaining of needed contact and the development of consciousness through a gradual rarefying and refining of the forms as the spirit of love or the flame divine spirals ever onward towards the source from which it came.
The first Logos of the trinity expresses Divine Will through a literal driving forward through space. This forward progression is the will behind the evolutionary process that drives spirit onward until it emerges from matter with added quality and faculty from the experience it has undergone. It also increases the vibration of matter by means of its own. The function of this first Logos is to hold the spirits who are gaining consciousness in manifestation for the desired period and then to abstract and blend them again with their spiritual source.
This electromagnetic activity of the three divine aspects is to be seen operating on all the planes of the solar system. Out of the fusion of pure Will or Spirit and the Active Intelligence and Adaptability of the third aspect arises the spiralling periodic motion of solar fire, the Ray of Love-Wisdom that builds and sustains all forms within the solar system.
So the question is: "where is this spiralling form building second ray in the universe?" To answer this we have to revise current gravity based cosmology and replace it with an electric one.
The Electric Universe
In the words of H.P. Blavatsky, the way in which the universe initiates and coordinates its building processes is:
"By the radiant light of the universal magnetic ocean, whose electric waves bind the cosmos together, and in their ceaseless motion penetrate every atom and molecule of the boundless creation…Alone," she says , "the study of this agent, which is the divine breath, can unlock the secrets of psychology."(Isis Unveiled, p28.)
To begin unlocking these secrets then, science will first discover the underlying electric currents that circulate throughout the whole of manifested existence. And indeed, leading plasma physicists are already revealing the lowest aspects of them through their realisation that electric currents pervade the vast, seemingly empty reaches of outer space. It was a moment of outstanding intuition that, in the 1920's, led the industrial chemist and Nobel Laureate, Irving Langmuir, to coin the term "plasma" for the electrified gases he was researching, and which proliferate in interstellar space. He noted that these gases carry ions and electrons similar to the way blood plasma carries red and white corpuscles. Both plasma in space and plasma in the blood are, in effect, electrified fluids, carrying both energy and various substances from one region to another.
Another Nobel Laureate, the plasma physicist, Hannes Alfven, remarked that in the earth's magnetosphere "there are thin, rather stable current layers which separate regions of different magnetization, density, temperature etc.…It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that similar phenomena exist also in more distant regions. This is bound to give space a general cellular structure (or more correctly, a cell-wall structure)."
As the Ageless Wisdom teachings regard Space as an entity, the discovery of electrically produced cell walls in space is highly significant. And bringing the thoughts of these two great scientists together, we have the premise that through the cellular structure of space runs an arterial flow of electricity, forming, in effect, a huge intergalactic circuit or cosmic bloodstream. In our own corner of the galaxy, the sun forms a sub-circuit within this galactic circuit, receiving and emitting a flow of charged particles that pour into and out of the polar regions of all the planets, mirroring in the macrocosm the way in which the blood cells flow through the heart to all the other organs of the body.
CELLS IN SPACE
In the words of plasma scientists Wallace Thornhill and David Talbot:
From the smallest particle to the largest galactic formation, a web of electrical circuitry connects and unifies all of nature, organising galaxies, energising stars, giving birth to planets and, on our own world, controlling weather and animating biological organisms. There are no isolated islands in an electric universe.2www.thunderbolts.info
Their contention that we live in an electric universe is based on the fact that plasma makes up ninety-nine per cent of it–plasma generally being described as an almost neutral sea of charged particles called electrons and ions that react collectively to forces exerted by electric and magnetic fields. While typically described as an ionised or electrically conductive gas, plasma is also considered to be a distinct and fundamental state of matter. Because it is often found in the form of ionised gas, it seems reasonable to speculate that this conductive medium provides an interface between the invisible, subtle realms of being and the gaseous state of matter. Through this mass of electrically charged particles, cosmic ideas in the form of galaxies, suns and planets are enabled to make the last stage of their descent from the archetypal planes into the light of day.
Birkeland Currents and Double Layers
A cosmic idea is electromagnetically transferred from etheric to gaseous levels through the plasma state, and it’s the way that electricity works in plasma that the building force of the universe can be understood. We can see the spiralling motion of the second aspect of the Trinity – Love-Wisdom in its form-building aspect that we have just considered in the phenomenon of pairs of electric currents in space, entwining around one another to form double helixes. They are known as Birkeland currents, and any matter existing betwee these pairs of electric spirals undergoes tremendous compression. Its constituent elements are mixed–not homogenously, but arranged according to their electric potentials. According to plasma cosmologists, this is to be seen occurring throughout the universe and they suggest that this is the way that chemical separation takes place in cosmic plasmas. Furthermore, it may also be the way in which suns and planets are formed. In laboratory experiments, the matter gathered within the central vortex created by electric arcing is "pinched" into zones of spherical compression, and matter within it may be subjected to a greater or lesser degree of melting. If this process takes place on cosmic levels, its role in stellar and planetary formation becomes apparent.
"As above, so below" runs the great occult maxim. And in fact, the idea of a spiralling building pattern is not new when we recall the familiar biological spirals of DNA that play an important role in the way organisms are created, informed and sustained. Science has yet to discover that behind each strand of DNA lies a spiral of electric force, and indeed, that the atom itself is constituted of spiralling electric forces that provide the interface between the physical and subjective components of all organisms. Esoteric science has always advocated that electrical force underlies all building processes in the universe.
The Electrical Alchemist.
So if we see the second ray motion of love-wisdom in its building activity on the physical level what about the building processes that take place in consciousness ie through the thoughts that we are constantly constructing, consciously and unconsciously throughout our daily lives? As far as the conscious builder of thought is concerned, the midway spot within the brain cavity is where magical work is carried out in relation to the physical plane. Here the magician employs the spiraling, cohering electrical nature of the second ray of love-wisdom to build various grades of substance into his thoughtform. Alice Bailey wrote that the scientific basis of all meditation work is really to be found in this basic but hitherto undiscovered aspect of electricity.
Putting all this together, in times to come we will have what amounts to the renaissance of alchemy in a new electric guise. Whatever name it is then generally known by, it will be the greatest of them all because of its synthesizing nature – it will literally be the science of synthesis – the manipulation of electrical force to bind together that which has been separated. For any particular form, this means an initial breaking down process and the scattering of the negative electronic lives that can no longer withstand the terrific rate of stimulation to which the inner, positive nucleus of life is being subjected. This is the radiatory phase or "transmutation in process of accomplishment". It enables the central essence of the form to escape and to gather around itself a new arrangement of electronic lives that can better withstand its new higher rate of vibration.
Alchemy became known as the spagyric art, the word ‘spagyric’ having Greek roots meaning "to separate and to join together". Evolution itself is spagyric, involving the densification and separation of spirit in matter followed by its reunification as something greater – something "more than" it was initially. This extra something we call ‘consciousness’, and it comes into being through the ever changing relationships that spirit forms with the matter it is passing through. Man studies these changing relationships through the various sciences – in their grossest form through chemistry, biology, anatomy and so forth, and in their more subtle form through psychology. However, the relationship between the gross and the subtle sciences, between the material and the immaterial aspects of man seems to have been lost, and it is this synthesising science of alchemy that can reveal it once again – curiously enough through the nature of metals.
In the forgotten high school chemistry of our youth lies the surprising fact that over seventy-five percent of the elements that make up the world are metals; more surprising by far though is the esoteric teaching that these metals contain the essence of the eventual mental, emotional and spiritual faculties of man. Beginning as emanations from the Seven Creative Hierarchies of Being (the spiritual rulers of the planets), these potencies differentiate into colours and their corresponding sounds. Sound then materialises into the spirit of the metals – the metallic Elementals – and finally into the dense physical metals themselves, whereupon the upward arc of evolution begins. From the mineral kingdom, this "harmonial and vibratory radiant essence" is taken up by plants, giving them colour and scent…from plants it passes into the animals; and finally it culminates in the 'principles' of man – the intuition, higher and lower mind, the passions and instincts, and so forth.
The reason why metals provide the key to this alchemy of synthesis is that they are full of movable electric charge – in other words, the negative electronic lives are always ready to separate and recombine in new relationships to accommodate the transmuted nature of the indwelling life. Metals are therefore always poised to interact electrically and this electric, alchemical potential of the metal is retained as its vibratory essence moves through the other kingdoms of nature and is the basis of the psychological interactions of the human being.
Even from a solely physical perspective, man is an electrical being relying on metals to communicate. The human brain consists of more than a 100 billion nerve cells each possessing around 100,000 connections. Every second, trillions of electrical signals are transmitted between neurons – that makes the Internet seem trivial in comparison. And it is the metals, sodium and potassium, acting like batteries or pumps, that regulate the electrical energy balance in every cell membrane. Everything we see, feel, imagine or remember, expresses itself through a world of electrical signals, all relayed and communicated to and from the central consciousness in the brain through the ionic bonds formed by electrostatic attraction between these metals.
White magic is carried out in the "vital airs" of the brain cavity, and a percentage of these fiery pranic currents are automatically precipitated into the body as electrical force, bringing about physical and psychological transmutation. Ancient esoteric teachings call someone who is anchoring and spinning the first tenuous threads of the antahkarana – the bridge between lower and higher mind – "A Weaver in fohatic enterprise," ‘Fohat’ being a Sanskrit term for the subtlest fiery energy of creation – ‘the essence of cosmic electricity’.
As this bridge of communication is established and energy pours down from spiritual levels, the higher and lower aspects of mind are fused into a creative focal point at the centre of an intense magnetic field. It is at this stage that the work of the electrical alchemist comes into play, and the tools of his trade are symbols. A higher psychometric power is employed whereby the mind, acting like an electromagnet, combines the ability to attract and repel in such a way that the potencies lying behind a symbol can be intelligently evoked. The symbol then comes alive with colour, sound and motion, its fiery essence blending with the atomic fires of the lower three planes, awakening into activity certain deva lives; specific potencies stream outwards, that not only have a transmuting effect on human consciousness, but an alchemising effect on the elemental substance in which human consciousness habitually functions.
The Seven Rays of Life
So consciousness evolves through the dynamic tension of electrical motion in response to external and internal stimuli, and so far we have looked at three types of motion that correspond to the Trinity found at the heart of so many religions. Will, Love, Intelligence. However we should also consider another divine number that stems from three and that is seven. All triplicities can be grouped in seven ways according to the ratio of their power to one another and in terms of the esoteric philosophy itself, the divine Trinity naturally produces seven combinations of electric power and motion which are known as the Seven Rays of Life.
THE SEVEN RAYS
Seven different power ratios produce by the trinity
|4||Harmony, Beauty, Art|
|5||Concrete Knowledge, Science|
|7||Ceremonial Order, Magic|
Every unit of consciousness finds itself belonging to one of these seven types of electrical phenomena and is an expression, great or small of its general quality. The first three rays maintain the same names and characteristics as the divine Trinity that we have been studying i.e., Will, Love-Wisdom and Active Intelligence. They are known as rays of Aspect, being expressions of the nature or quality of the divine Trinity. The other four rays are called rays of Attribute as they have their root in the third aspect of the Trinity, Active Intelligence. Being different modes of intelligent activity, these attributes find their synthesis in the third ray. These are known as: The Fourth Ray of Harmony, Beauty, Art. The Fifth Ray of Concrete Knowledge or Science. The Sixth Ray of Devotion or Idealism. The Seventh Ray of Ceremonial Order or Magic. The nature of these rays of attribute may not be as immediately understandable as the rays of aspect, but they can be thought of as modes of intelligent activity - the ways in which life adapts and organises force, substance and matter.
All units of consciousness, from Gods to atoms are coloured by the seven rays, but resonate to the quality of one of them more than the others. In the case of a human being, this basic ray is the soul ray, but then we also have the personality ray as well as the rays that condition the mental, emotional and physical bodies. This interrelationship creates a vast arena of opportunities and the rich diversity of human consciousness and expression that we see in the world. A study of the rays is a study of esoteric psychology, and individual development can be measured by the extent that the conditioning rays have been brought into harmony with one another and under the dominion of the soul ray. In the psychology of the future, this way of approaching development will become increasingly meaningful and the internal relationships of the personality and its interaction with the environment will be better understood.
The rays work through the centres or chakras and this chart shows which rays condition which particular centre in the case of the advanced human being or spiritual aspirant. The seven main centres in the human being are listed here. In turn the centres stand behind the seven main glands as listed in the next chart and thus work through the endocrine system secreting hormones into the blood. The production and secretion of hormones from the endocrine system is a function shared with the nervous system in the human body – the brain is the originator of all electric signals to release hormones. This interdependence between the two systems in the human body is a recent scientific discovery; at one time scientists believed that the functioning and regulation of the endocrine system was independent to that of the nervous system.
|Head centre||Pineal gland|
|Centre between eyebrows||Pituitary body|
|Throat centre||Thyroid gland|
|Heart centre||Thymus gland|
|Solar plexus centre||Pancreas|
|Sacral centre||The gonads|
|Centre at base of spine||Adrenal glands|
It is said that "As a man's glands and nervous system, so is he." His temperament, natural qualities and intelligent handling of his life experiences and of his environment are determined by his endocrine system. But moving a stage back from this we can say: "As a man's centres, so is he." The quiescence or the activity of certain focal points of energy in the human, etheric body, determine his character, his method of expression, his type and also the tenure of his body. His activities on the physical plane are entirely dependent upon the qualities of force flowing through his centres. And again, moving one stage back from this: The glands and neuroses as well as the centres are conditioned by the control or lack of control exerted by the soul working through the seven rays of life.
The seven types of electrical phenomena which we call the seven rays are therefore the great creative tools of the electrical alchemist. Indeed, when the great white magician, the soul, chooses to incarnate into the lower worlds, its ray type will determine the method employed in appropriating substance to form its body of expression on the physical plane. The next chart illustrates the different techniques employed in electrically appropriating substance for this purpose, the quality that infuses the process, and the type of substance utilised for the construction of the form. We can spend a few moments quietly reflecting on how these different techniques can also be applied to the way thought forms are built in meditation. According to the ray structure of the electrical alchemist of the future, so the different techniques of thought form building that will be employed to assist humanity in the process of psychological transmutation.
|1||Power or Will||Grasping||Dynamic Purpose||Dynamically electrified substance|
|2||Love-Wisdom||Attracting||Love||Magnetically electrified substance|
|3||Intelligent Activity||Selecting||Intellect||Diffusively electrified substance|
|4||Beauty or Art||At-one-ing||Unification||Harmonisingly electrified substance|
|5||Science||Differentiating||Discrimination||Crystallising electrified substance|
|6||Idealism||Responding||Sensitivity||Fluidic electrified substance|
|7||Organisation||Coordinating||Appearance||Physical electrified substance|
For now though, this form of advanced esotericism is for the very few. However more information on how to work as a white magician will naturally come to those who purify themselves and their motives sufficiently and show a willingness to work silently behind the scenes in service to humanity. For humanity as a whole, more general information on the rays will come according to the ability to utilise it for the good of the whole. This is indicated by Alice Bailey’s book Esoteric Psychology vol II where we read: "That there is such a thing as electricity, that it probably accounts for all that can be seen, sensed and known, and that the entire universe is a manifestation of electrical power,—all this may be stated and is, today, coming to be recognised..... When man arrives at a better understanding of the etheric body and its seven force centres (which are all related to the seven rays, and in their expression show the seven characteristics and techniques, then some further light can intelligibly be thrown upon the nature of the seven types of electrical phenomena which we call the seven rays."
Psychology for aspiring supermen
Education in the New Age will nurture the spiritual imagination of children and their inherent tendency towards synthesis.
We can finish by briefly looking at a higher type of psychology that governs the consciousness of the spiritually awakened person. Seven basic tendencies are listed and a hypothetical correlation can be made between each tendency and one of the seven rays as the agent that plays a part in electrically impulsing it.
The first impulse is the Tendency to Synthesis. Everything the disciple does has a synthetic note; the disparate forces that make up his environment and circumstances are being drawn into dynamic interactions from which unique and previously unknown qualities can now be manifested. This tendency is fired by the inspiration that comes from another factor – the Quality of the Hidden Vision. Meditation raises the disciple’s mental vibration to the threshold of a new dimension where the vision is sensed and its qualities explored and assimilated. They are then held in latency throughout the day and infused into all events and circumstances to further bridge the gap in consciousness between the inner and outer worlds.
The Quality of the Hidden vision is deeply occult and reveals that to which God aspires. While the mystic aspires to unification with God, as a divine fixed constant; the occultist regards God as an evolving being – once human but now much further evolved and on a much higher turn of the spiral. To ponder this important distinction of an evolving God is an initially destabilising experience, but it helps us to go beyond the limited conventional ideas about the nature of Divinity and discover a fresh sense of awe about the mystery of everything evolving – a journey of ever-becoming. Gone is the concept of a static, omniscient God in an equally static heaven and instead is revealed the ever unfolding dynamic potential of all life, including divinity.
And so returning to another of the conditioning factors of this higher psychology we have The Urge to Formulate a Plan. "It will be apparent that this urge grows out of, or is dependent upon, the previous two trends considered [of synthesis and vision]. It finds its microcosmic reflection in the many plans and projects of finite man as he lives his little life or runs busily about the planet in connection with his tiny personal affairs. It is this universal capacity to work and plan which is the guarantee that there exists in man the capacity to respond eventually and in group formation to God's plan, based on God's vision."
This vision of God’s Plan generates in the disciple the next tendency: The Urge to Creative Life through the Divine Use of the Imagination. This tendency is a constant subjective impulse to create forms which will express some sensed truth. The initiate is "essentially one whose sense of awareness is occupied with subjective contacts and impacts and is not predominantly preoccupied with the world of outer sense perceptions. This cultivated interest in the inner world of meaning will produce not only a pronounced effect upon the spiritual seeker himself but will eventually bring about the emphasis, recognised in the brain consciousness of the race, that the world of meaning is the sole world of reality for humanity.
This will lead to the production of a truer beauty in the world and, therefore, a closer approximation in the world of created forms to the inner emerging truth." In order to remain faithfully aligned with truth, the new creative work needs The Factor of Analysis, the fifth psychological factor. It is the ability to distinguish without producing a sense of separateness. It is the Right use of emphasis rather than separativeness. We emphasise one aspect or quality, temporarily excluding or relegating into brief abeyance another aspect or aspects. This is a major part of the activity of the law of cycles.
This ability to rightly emphasise a goal or divine characteristic is powered by The innate Quality to Idealise. We are told that, "whether it is the power of the tiny seed to penetrate through its surrounding barriers to emerge into the light, or a human being to rise from death in matter to life in God, it is all idealism. It is the power to recognise ideas and to push forward towards their fulfillment. It is the motive force behind evolution." This power to idealise sees the initiate displaying a seventh tendency as he brings about The Interplay of the Great Dualities to make of his dream a reality. The tendency of the initiate is to stand poised on the razor-edged path between the great dualities of spirit and matter, fusing them together to build the new world in accordance with his highest ideals, which in turn, are based on the quality of the hidden vision.
So here we have seven major distinctions between the consciousness of man and superman. Supermen may walk the same earth, but they live in completely different dimensions. These seven tendencies towards soul fusion demonstrate a higher psychology at play in those who are awakening to their true identity as a unit of spiritual electricity in the divine stream of consciousness. All of us here will surely be familiar with these tendencies to some extent while yet struggling to discipline our personalities sufficiently for them to hold greater sway.
Antahkarana: The Electric Bridge
Creative tension: The compression zone in a cosmic Birkeland current (Butterfly nebula). It provides a beautiful symbol of the point of electromagnetic tension generated in meditation as a prerequisite for building the bridge of lighted substance between higher and lower mind.
The seven tendencies that define the psychological behaviour of the advanced human being are an integral part of the new electrical science of relationships that we have been considering today. This science will, without doubt, become the supreme science of the Aquarian age. It has the power to link the macrocosm to the microcosm and make sense of the universe as one integrated, conscious super-organism. Humanity is on a journey towards the intelligent use of electrical force, and what is the building of the bridge between lower and higher, abstract, spiritual mind, if not the supreme example of an electric bridge? We have seen how the electrical alchemist generates a point of magnetic tension in meditation and through it spins threads of light between the higher and lower mind. Group work involves an united effort to build planetary electric bridges between the superhuman and the subhuman kingdoms. As fohatic currents pass down the constructed antahkarana, the group then acts as a capacitor, absorbing and storing the charge and then stepping it down as a transformer does, so that it can safely be relayed to less evolved states of consciousness, to stimulate and unfold latent capacity.
The Electric Bridge is an initiative towards this end, helping to span the gulf between the science of today and the science of the initiates. For the Alice Bailey teachings tell us that The energy of love in its dynamic or electric form is the will aspect of love which the Christ will of necessity use this time when He comes. "The true Mysteries will also reveal themselves through science and the incentive to search for them there will be given by the Christ. The Mysteries contain, within their formulas and teachings, the key to the science which will unlock the mystery of electricity—the greatest spiritual science and area of divine knowledge in the world, the fringes of which have only just been touched." The Electric Bridge is therefore an initiative without bounds that can build bridges of relationship between all departments of human thinking as well as preparing a foundation for further revelations.
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